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Committee on Finance. - Financial Resolution No. 3: Tax in Respect of Certain Goods (Resumed).

Wednesday, 15 June 1966

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 223 No. 4

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[555] Debate resumed on the following Resolution:


(a) with effect as on and from the 1st day of October, 1966, a tax, to be paid by such persons and in such circumstances as may be specified in the Act giving effect to this Resolution, shall, subject to the provisions of that Act, be charged at the rate of five per cent in respect of goods sold within the State and goods imported into the State;

(b) the said tax shall not apply in respect of food, drink, tobacco, medicines, clothing, fuel or hydrocarbon oils, or such other goods as may be excluded by or under the Act giving effect to this Resolution.

—(Minister for Finance).

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave Zoom on Liam Cosgrave The supplementary Budget which is being introduced indicates the complete failure of the so-called plan announced by the Government in the Second Programme. In that Programme, the level of taxation which was projected and the growth in output which was also projected have altered very considerably in practice. The present level of taxation is eight per cent higher than the target announced in the Second Programme for the financial year 1966-67, and the anticipated output is two per cent lower than the target laid down in the same programme. This means that the burden of taxation is approximately ten per cent above the target laid down for the present financial year.

That substantial difference in the level of taxation might be justified if any comparable, worthwhile increases in social expenditure or, indeed, productivity expenditure were included in it. But this supplementary Budget, following the Budget introduced in March, means that the extra taxation imposed between the two Budgets this year amounts to over £15 million, £12 million in the March Budget and £3.1 million in this Budget. The total extra taxation involved in a full financial [556] year and projected for next year amounts to £7 million.

That expenditure has been undertaken by the Government in circumstances in which the additional benefits flowing to the community are either non-existent or negligible. The extra increases in respect of social welfare are of microscopic proportions. Even with the figure of £250,000 in the Budget of March last, there is a further £100,000 in this Budget without giving any explanation to the House how the extra money is proposed to be spent and whether it has been found on examination that the original Estimate fell short of the sum necessary to give the very modest increases which have been postponed until November.

The most significant fact about this supplementary Budget is the abandonment of the policy decision taken by Fianna Fáil that the turnover tax could not be applied at the wholesale level and the fact that the proposed amendment of this tax, which will apply from October, increases by an additional five per cent the turnover tax on a wide range of commodities. The existing turnover tax was introduced on two grounds. One was that the existing or traditional sources of revenue could not produce sufficient revenue to meet the increased expenditure. Subsequent to the introduction of that tax, the traditional sources have been heavily and consistently taxed at higher rates in each of the past three years, followed by additional taxes yesterday on two traditional sources of revenue, tobacco and petrol. The other reason the turnover tax was recommended at the retail level was the fact that it was simple to administer. These two reasons have now been abandoned. One has been abandoned in three Budgets, in 1964, 1965 and 1966, as well as in this supplementary Budget and the decision yesterday embraced in this comprehensive Resolution No. 3.

It is a matter worthy of comment that the phraseology of this Resolution is on the widest possible basis, and under it there is virtually no limit to the range of goods or, for that matter, to the range of services, except for the reference in the Minister's speech to the fact that it is not intended to include [557] services in it and it is proposed to exclude certain commodities. However, the fact is that the Resolution is couched in the widest possible language, so wide that it is vague and uncertain, and is drafted in such a manner as to catch everything.

The change of attitude in respect of the turnover tax is one that requires some further elucidation either by the Minister in his reply or by some other spokesman on behalf of the Government. Deputies will recollect that during the Budget debate of 1963, the then Minister for Finance, Dr. Ryan, in a reference to this matter said at column 83, volume 202, of the Dáil Debates of 23rd April, 1963, that the Income Tax Commission in their Third Report recommended by a majority the introduction of a purchase tax at wholesale level with exceptions in favour of certain commodities. The proceeds of the tax were to be used to reduce income tax. He said that without a dependable source of revenue, it would be impossible to proceed with any programme of tax reform. He went on to say:

The Government gave careful consideration to a purchase tax applicable to certain commodities chargeable at the wholesale stage but not necessarily at a uniform rate. It is important, however, that the tax chosen should disturb as little as possible the existing patterns of trade and industry. It would be indefensible in our circumstances to introduce a tax which might threaten the prospects of expansion of particular industries, or their very existence, and bring unemployment in its train. It is immaterial in this country whether or not the goods produced or dealt in are classed as luxury goods; the work they provide is not a luxury for the employees. From the point of view of the Exchequer a purchase tax of the kind mentioned would have a narrower base than a retail stage tax because it would cover only a limited range of commodities, would be applied at an earlier stage of production and could not, moreover, be extended to services. The impact would inevitably be increased by the trade “mark-up”, [558] to the disadvantage of the consumer and without any direct gain to the revenue.

That was just three years ago.

The Minister for Finance yesterday, in his reference to it—this is the same Government even though the Ministers are different—went on to say:

The tax will be administered as closely as possible on the lines of, and in conjunction with, the retail turnover tax. In many cases very little additional record-keeping should be required. Where the same concern handles taxable and non-taxable goods, however, or operates both a wholesale and a retail business, new procedures will be necessary. I am anxious that the business community should have an opportunity of expressing their views on these procedures before the tax comes into effect and I shall be glad to arrange for discussions on this over the next month or so.

According to the present Minister for Finance this tax will require very little additional book-keeping. As reported at Column 84, Volume 202, of the Official Report, the then Minister for Finance, now Senator Dr. Ryan, had a somewhat different view on 23rd April, 1963. He said:

From the trader's point of view, the selective application of the tax would add greatly to the complexities of book-keeping; additional working capital would be necessary because tax would be payable in advance of retail sale; and changes in the tax rate could involve loss.

The public are entitled to know which Minister represents the view of the Government, which attitude is the correct attitude, or is it the case, as was said many years ago when Winston Churchill was asked why he changed from being a Conservative to a Liberal, “The people change and I move with them”? In these circumstances, the Government have changed within the short space of three years. The turnover tax has changed. The Taoiseach, at a later stage in a subsequent debate, said—certainly this promise was nullified by events—as reported at [559] Column 582 of Volume 205 of the Official Report:

I do not think the adjustment of the present price levels to absorb this turnover tax will take very long... In a matter of months, the existence and operation of this tax will hardly be noticeable. The rise in the cost of living in 1964 because of the turnover tax will not be greater than the average rise in the cost of living in 1961 and 1962.

Consider the effect of the turnover tax. Consider the wide ramification it has had on the price structure. Consider the dislocation that has occurred in respect of wage and salary adjustments. Consider the present economic confusion and dislocation that presents itself to the economy and to the country, to such an extent that the Minister for Finance said yesterday that we are going through an anxious time in Ireland. We have strikes and threats of strikes, the implication being that every section, whether employers or workers, whether management or trade unions, is to blame and is responsible except the Government.

It was the Government who introduced this turnover tax. It was the Government, when faced with obvious unpopularity, who decided, for purely political motives, to introduce the 12 per cent wage rise in 1964 in order to buy two by-elections. That stimulated and initiated the price rise and inflationary spiral that has since affected the economy. Not satisfied with that, the position now is that instead of the Government's bringing in, as any Government are obliged to do and as has been the invariable practice since this State was founded, a Budget for the annual anticipated expenditure and providing for that by appropriate taxation, on the day the Budget was introduced, it was announced that it would be necessary, before the end of the year or later in the year, to bring in a supplementary Budget. To pay for what? To pay for price support increases given to farmers, the increases given before polling day on 1st June, to pay for wage and salary adjustments [560] in respect of CIE which were applied and brought into effect before 1st June. The increased charge for butter, the increased bus and train fares, the increased freight charges, and now the increase in respect of petrol and tobacco, have to be paid by the public after the votes were counted. Is it any wonder that this Government are not treated seriously and have lost any claim to respect? They have not even respect for themselves and they have no respect for the country.

Deputies: Hear, hear.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave Zoom on Liam Cosgrave Political considerations are the paramount consideration of the present Fianna Fáil Government and supersede all other considerations. The position is that this plan has failed. Deputies remember, and the public remember, the claim that 100,000 new jobs would be provided. But the rider was never added that these jobs were to be in Birmingham, Coventry and Montreal.

What are the facts? This year, we have the lowest number in our history in employment in Ireland and the highest rate of taxation since the State was founded, or even before that. On pages 24 and 25 of the NIEC Report —we have so many bodies reporting now and offering comments that it is difficult to keep in touch with them— we are told that the total number expected to be at work in 1966 is approximately 1,046,000 compared with 1,056,000 in 1963. In this respect, the growth in employment has fallen short of the target in all sectors.

But that is not the whole story. The drop in the numbers employed on the land has risen to twice the former level. There was a drop of 24,000 between 1963 and 1965 and of 14,000 between 1964 and 1965. In the Second Programme, the projected drop was 5,000 a year. In other words, the flight from the land is more than double—almost three times in one year —what was projected and the numbers in employment are lower than projected. But taxation is substantially higher. In fact, the present level of taxation shows that, in four years, it has increased to £110 million—almost [561] a two-thirds increase. This year, taxation will absorb 58 per cent of projected increases in national production —this, in any event, is unlikely to be achieved—leaving only 42 per cent in the hands of those who produce it, that is, the farmers, workers and industry.

Taxes on income in the past five years have doubled. Government taxes on expenditure in the same period have increased by two-thirds. Is it any wonder that the price stability which was promised has not occurred? The consumer price index in mid-February, 1966, was 2.3 per cent higher than in mid-February, 1965. The figure for mid-May shows a further rise of 3.39 points. That does not take into account increased bus and train fares. It does not take into account the increase in the price of butter. It does not take into account the increases imposed since yesterday or the projected increases in turnover tax from next October.

What has been the experience in respect of agricultural output? The volume of net agricultural output in 1965 was estimated to have fallen by about one per cent below that of 1964 although cattle stocks were up. In respect of transportable goods, the volume of production rose by only 3.3 per cent in 1965 as against 9.9 per cent in 1964. But, most significant of all, and the test which the present Taoiseach said was the acid test of any economic policy, in the last quarter of 1965, the number on the live register of unemployed rose by 5,000 or more than ten per cent compared with the last quarter of 1964.

In respect of production in agriculture, not merely are we static but we are slightly down. In respect of the increase in production in transportable goods, we are only one-third of the figure of increase in 1963, the increase being 3.3 per cent as against 9.9 per cent. Unemployment is up by more than 9,000 and the workers' situation has shown no worthwhile change or improvement.

That is not the whole story. CIE has recently increased bus and rail fares. The public statement announcing the increase indicated that these [562] would be of modest proportions but I know of one item which a medical man has to send twice weekly by passenger train in the form of a parcel from Bray to Blackrock. The charge up to Monday last was 1/1d and on Monday last, it was 2/6d, an increase of over 100 per cent. We have reached the situation in which even a modest parcel charge has to be increased at an excessive rate to ensure that CIE can meet its commitments.

There have been certain talks about CIE and about certain payments to which I do not wish to refer, but the pensions of the average CIE workers are the lowest pensions paid to any sector of the community or by any undertaking I know of. Bad as that is, small as these pensions are, there are CIE workers who have been retired for over seven years and who are still awaiting a superannuation award. They cannot get a decision in respect of their superannuation. Many of these workers have died without being able to make a decision as to whether they should commute their pensions so as to be able to pass some on to their widows and families. If the Minister for Transport and Power has anything to do, and as far as anyone can gather, he has no responsibility for anything, this is a field in which some action could be taken by him to ensure that a decision will be given in these matters and some increase given on these small pensions. These people who have retired on these small pensions, these people who have to wait so long for a decision as to their superannuation awards, become enraged when they see that a quick decision can be reached in other cases. It makes them feel that they are neglected and ignored.

The increase in CIE rates and fares will have a widespread reaction and the present increase in the tax on petrol must increase the cost of distribution. It must increase the cost of distribution for the variety of business firms who run petrol-driven vans and lorries. This is the second time in the space of ten weeks that these costs have risen. There have been appeals by the Taoiseach and his Ministers to traders and the business community generally to [563] try to absorb price increases, to try to ensure that the benefits of price reductions will be passed on to the consumer. Two weeks ago the petrol companies indicated their intention, and applied that intention, to reduce the price of petrol by a worthwhile figure. This was a worthwhile reduction but the Government immediately offset it.

There was similar action in the case of an increase last year. When the price of petrol was increased, there was a great furore at the Fianna Fáil Árd Fheis and there was an inquiry about it. Because the petrol companies had then increased the price of petrol, the Government ordered a reduction in the price and, subsequently, in the last Budget, increased the tax on petrol in order to get more revenue. The reduction in price recently granted by the petrol companies has now been nullified by the extra taxation brought in yesterday. What is the use of suggesting to the business community that they endeavour to absorb price increases when the Government immediately nullify such action by a further increase in taxation?

In this present Budget, there has been no statement by the Minister with regard to revenue and expenditure. There is no reference in it to these matters except one by the Minister which is made in a very vague fashion. It is the practice of the Government recently to be vague on some matters. The proposed increases in pay to State-paid personnel will absorb an undefined sum this year. It may be £3 million; it may be £2 million. We are told that the cost in a full year will be of the order of £4 million. The only reason there can be for putting it in that way is to avoid saying when it is proposed that these increases should be paid. It is possible to say that the increases in the old age pensions will be postponed until November but it is not possible to say when it is proposed to pay the increase of £1 per week for males and 15/- per week for females within the income limit of £1,200 per year for these categories in the State service.

On the assumption that these increases [564] will cost either £2 million or £3 million, they may be paid from 1st July next. In addition, there is a sum of £2.36 million required to provide for increased farm incomes and £.5 million for increases to the Garda. There is £100,000 for social welfare benefits but whether this is in addition to the £2.5 million contained in the first Budget this year has not been stated. A further £3 million is necessary for beef and lamb exports. These figures amount to £6.2 million.

In page 8 of his statement, the Minister said that buoyancy of revenue would provide another £2 million, although he had earlier stated that there was no sign of any such buoyancy up to the present. If there is no sign of any buoyancy of revenue up to the middle of June, how does the Minister expect that there will be any buoyancy during the remainder of the year? The Minister's tax increases for the remainder of this year come to £3.1 million, which leaves an extra £1.1 million to be found elsewhere. It may be said that these figures will vary according to when the proposed increases in respect of State servants come into operation. The Government should be the first to tell the House when it is proposed that these increases will operate.

Every other section has applied the increase from May last and surely the State, in a matter of this kind, should not be less generous or set any less defined headline than other institutions and private employment in respect of wage and salary adjustments. The really serious situation about this present Budget is that the increase in taxation contained in it provides no additional benefits in respect of the health services. The health services are being neglected. The Minister for Health has talked on a variety of topics. He addresses himself from time to time to certain conditions in hospitals, and so on. He will talk about anything except providing more money for health services. The Minister for Education has spoken at length on education. He has addressed himself to a variety of questions concerned with it. But there is no more money in this Budget or in the last Budget for [565] education, nothing to help people to increase the opportunities of education except what they can do themselves.

There is nothing more for housing. I have already spoken here on the serious situation which presents itself as far as Dublin County Council are concerned. Approximately one-third of the total building in this country takes place in the Dublin area. The total sum available to Dublin County Council in respect of SDA loans has been entirely absorbed by the applications which were in before 31st December. There are 300 or 400 additional applications since. They have been told there is no money to grant any of these loans this year and there is no prospect of any of these applications being dealt with. As far as Dún Laoghaire Corporation are concerned, they have under construction at present a scheme of 23 houses. There are over 350 applicants on the waiting list and there is no other scheme in sight. Every local authority in the country without, I think, exception have not sufficient money to carry on their existing housing schemes. In respect of SDA loans, they are all in a position more or less similar to that of Dublin County Council, but possibly less acute because they have not as many applicants.

In respect of social welfare recipients, increases have been postponed until 1st November. In the meantime butter, milk, bus fares, beer and tobacco have all been increased. Worse still, when the British Government recently gave an increase to British pensioners living in this country, the Minister for Social Welfare here applied a stringent means test under which the increases granted have now been absorbed. He was a bit vague here yesterday. He tried to imply that the £268,000 would be for the benefit of less well off recipients. What less well off recipients have got any increase under this? What less well off recipients will get one 6d out of it? The only recipient will be the Minister for Finance and the Exchequer.

The general dissatisfaction that has arisen, the fact that so many people are concerned about the future and that there is so much industrial unrest [566] have all been stimulated and prompted by the cheap publicity and propaganda indulged in by the Government last year when they asserted: “Give us a majority. You can vote yourselves prosperity. You can vote yourselves jobs, increased incomes, an increased standard of living, increased advantages, better housing, better health services, better education, provided you vote Fianna Fáil”. Now people find that the cost of living is higher. There are thousands more on the waiting lists for houses. There are no improved health services. The increases granted to social welfare recipients do not even compensate for the increases being imposed in the two Budgets this year. There have been increases in CIE fares and freight rates, increases in respect of almost every commodity. If one takes the Consumer Price Index, one sees there has been a rise in the price of even the humblest commodity. Last year alone the price of potatoes rose by over 47 per cent. I know that the Taoiseach or someone else will say that that was fortuitous last year. But the year before the price rose by 17 per cent or 18 per cent. So that in less than two years we have a rise in the price of the humblest commodity, the very ordinary food produced here, of over 50 per cent. That must be coupled with the steep rise in the price of meat and other essential foodstuffs and the steep rise in prices of beer, spirits and tobacco. At the same time, there are exhortations to save and to lend money to the Government.

Is it any wonder in the light of that situation, in which expenditure continually outruns revenue, in which every section of the community is taxed at a higher rate than ever before and taxed at over eight per cent higher than was projected in the Second Programme, in which it is impossible to get additional money for housing, impossible to proceed with school building, impossible to get loans from the Agricultural Credit Corporation, impossible to get advances under the SDA Acts, that when the Government seek a loan abroad, no one has any confidence in the loan? It was only possible for this country to get a loan at the most [567] onerous terms any Government in any country in any circumstances ever secured a loan. We had to hawk our credit around the world from New York to London and ultimately to Bonn before we got it.

Contrast that with the position in which three oil companies with world-wide ramifications, of their own volition, because of their confidence and faith in the country, invested £12 million a few years ago in an oil refinery, possibly the largest single investment ever made here. Contrast it with the circumstances in which for the first time Messrs. Guinness, who have world-wide operations and interests, were so impressed by the soundness of the project in respect of the briquette factory that they themselves of their own volition advanced half a million pounds and invested in it. Today we have to pay the very dearest prices. Surely it is time to employ Deputy MacEntee as he was employed some years ago when he put up the pawnbroker's sign in circumstances entirely different? At that time it was possible to get money not merely at home from our own people but abroad when it was sought. Compare that with the circumstances now in which it is common knowledge that every single device—financial, monetary, economic, banking—that can be adopted has been adopted by the Government, by the Central Bank, by the Department of Finance and by every institution under Government control and direction to make available sufficient money to keep the ship afloat.

Our concern is not for the Government. Our concern and anxiety is not for the fate of the Government or of individual Ministers. Our concern is for the fate and future of this country. We are satisfied that in spite of lack of leadership, lack of direction, lack of a sense of purpose, lack of a conscious realisation of present problems largely created by Government mismanagement, ultimately if this country is properly led and given opportunity and effective direction, it is capable of pulling itself out of the present economic difficulties. Before it [568] can do that, it will require not merely a change of heart but a change of Government.

The present increases I have referred to in respect of taxation show that in this year alone taxes on income will have risen by over 15 per cent—a total of £15½ million compared with last year, from £79.8 million to over £94 million in the current year. Taxes on expenditure will have risen by almost £18 million. Total taxation will have risen by over £30 million or 12 per cent. The burden of taxation taken as a percentage of production will have risen in full by seven per cent. That situation is even more clearly emphasised when we look at the central and local taxation. In 1966-67, after the second Budget, compared with 1965-66, taxes on expenditure amount to £149.3 million and in 1965-66 they amounted to £134.7 million. Rates last year were £30.3 million and this year the figure is £33.5 million. In the first case, there was an increase of 82 per cent and in the second, 48 per cent and local government increases are static at 1.5 per cent. The total increase was 74 per cent. Between 1963-64 and 1966-67, over the same period, there was a rise of 40 per cent. These increases have all been imposed, as I said, without any increases in respect of housing, education, social welfare services, or health services.

The present position is one in which the Government have shown no direction and no leadership, in contrast with the decision which was announced by the present Taoiseach during the Budget debate in 1956 when he said:

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.

It is well also to recall, for the benefit of newer Deputies, that one of the functions of an Opposition laid down by the Taoiseach, Deputy Lemass, when speaking on the Finance Bill in 1954 was that:

[569] It was the duty of the Opposition, of every individual Deputy outside the Government——

that is a bit of an obligation on some of the Fianna Fáil Deputies——

to criticise every proposal submitted by the Government if it was open to criticism and to expose its defects and faults.

I noticed yesterday that Deputy Cunningham has decided to resign from the chairmanship of Donegal County Council because of the failure of the manager to do certain things. There is, of course, another way in which dissatisfaction can be expressed. A member of a county council, particularly a man who enjoys majority support, can put down a motion calling on the manager to do certain things. If Deputy Cunningham's dissatisfaction is really dissatisfaction at the failure of the Government to provide money, then it is understandable, but I do not think it should be shoved on to the manager particularly when there is a remedy provided in the Local Government Act, 1956, by which the council, by a majority, can direct the manager, and if he refuses in those circumstances to comply with the direction, they can suspend him. The Fianna Fáil Party have a majority in Donegal. It would be more impressive if that majority was used to take effective action rather than to use the occasion as a pretext or as a gimmick similar to the practice operated here by the Taoiseach last week when in order to deflect attention from the serious economic and financial position, an announcement was made that Fianna Fáil had been converted to the idea of a Minister for Labour. We will have something further to say on that at a later stage. However, that announcement was designed to deflect attention. In that regard it is common knowledge that half the Government are passengers and the other half do not know where they are going, and even if they did, they would not know how to get there. The best expenditure that could be made in the country would be to give each member of the Government a [570] golden handshake and let each of them retire.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass I appreciate the sincerity of Deputy Cosgrave's complaint that the Government have failed to carry on their business in a manner which suits the political interests of the Fine Gael Party. However, I am afraid I cannot promise any change in the future in this regard because the political interests of Fine Gael are the least of our concerns. I suppose that is human nature. Deputy Cosgrave's speech reflected the contradictions that always arise in every speech by every member of the Fine Gael Party. He deplores the Government's action in imposing new taxation; he criticises the Government for not incurring still greater expenditure in the field of health, social welfare and housing, even though that would impose still more taxation which he would also oppose. I suppose he can make sense out of it, but I do not think anybody else can. These are matters on which every Party who want to be taken seriously—and I gather that the Fine Gael Party are trying to present themselves to the country as a serious Party—must come down on one side of the fence or the other. You cannot have more Government expenditure without more taxation. You cannot cut taxation without cutting Government spending. Which are you for? You cannot have it both ways. You cannot go on pretending to the country that the people can have it both ways.

The issues presented to the Dáil yesterday by the proposals of the Minister for Finance can be stated very clearly and simply. Deputy Cosgrave did not face the issues. He touched on them and went away. I am certain that the speeches of any other members of his Party in this debate will be designed to try to confuse the public mind about these issues. They are very clear and simple issues. The Government are committed to give all the workers in their employment the benefit of the same wage increases which are now being conceded in private employment. The amount we are providing by this tax is an amount which will enable these [571] increases to be paid, £1 a week for a man and 15/- a week for a woman, up to the £1,200 limit, as from July 1st. The Government have given additional farm price supports for the purpose of ensuring for farmers a better income in this year to offset the adverse factors resulting from weather conditions during the Spring. There is also the question of making provision for a Garda pay award and for an additional £100,000 in respect of the further improvements in the social welfare services which are being effected by the Bill now before the Dáil and which were not announced at the time of the Budget.

To fulfil these purposes, the Government require more money and that money can be secured only by an adjustment in taxation rates. Those who voted yesterday against these new taxes must be assumed to be against these proposals, against the provision of these additional farm price supports, this additional income for farmers, and the payment of these additional amounts to the employees in the public services to whom they relate. If the Government had failed to propose these taxes, or if by some chance the Resolutions to give them effect were defeated, then these payments could not be made and the increases in salaries and wages to these Government employees would have to be stopped. The increased farm price supports already in operation would have to be withdrawn.

That is a simple proposition. No Deputy need be confused in his mind about it. It is a proposition upon which it is possible for any Deputy to say: “I am for it” or “I am against it”. The Government's proposition is that these additional payments should be made; these higher farm price supports should be given; these increases should be awarded in the Public Service as they have been awarded outside the Public Service and that the money to make them possible should be secured by taxation changes. I hope that some time before the debate ends some Deputy on the Fine Gael side or the [572] Labour side will state unequivocally what their position is on that simple proposition.

Deputy Cosgrave spoke about the rise in taxation taking money out of the pockets of the producers, the workers and farmers of the country. What do the Government do with the money they raise in taxation? They pay it out to workers and farmers and to recipients of social welfare benefits. The Government do not take the money to bury it in the ground. It is part of the process of redistribution of national income in accordance with some conception of social justice or to ensure the smoother operation of the national economy. There is consequently no question of any diminution of national income by reason of these taxes, just as there is no question of any extraction of money from the pockets of producers and farmers except for the purpose of putting it into the pockets of other producers and other farmers. If the Government failed to make these tax proposals in the Dáil, then either these higher wages could not be paid and the farm price supports would have to be withdrawn, or the Government would have to divert to these purposes some part of the capital which we hope to raise in this year for the purpose of financing the Government's capital programme.

We have prepared the capital programme this year on the highest level at which we think it will be possible to finance it. We see that the estimated amount of capital we can raise will be no more than adequate to complete the programme which has been outlined and if, therefore, we were to contemplate diverting any part of that capital to meeting a deficit on the current Budget, we would have to cut down on the building of houses, building of schools and other constructional activities of that kind or on other items in the capital programme. We do not think that would be good business: we think it would be exceedingly bad policy for the country both in its short-term and long-term effects, to budget for a deficit in this year and to divert to current purposes any part of the capital resources we hope to raise.

Among these adverse consequences [573] of such a policy would be not merely the curtailment of the constructional activities to which I have referred but, of course, a very serious contraction of employment given in these activities. It would mean adding to the inflationary forces which are seen to be at work in our national economy and it would make it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to supplement the resources that can be raised internally by external loans.

Deputy Cosgrave made some remarks in this regard that I think he should reconsider in order, at least, to try to understand where he himself stands. If we were contemplating this year a capital investment programme of the scale which the Coalition Government were satisfied with, we would have no problem whatever in raising the amount of money needed. If that were all we had to secure on capital account, there would be no problem, no question of our going outside Ireland to supplement our internal resources. It is because it has been the policy of this Government to step up the capital programme year by year and to maintain it at the highest level at which it could be maintained, having regard to the resources available, that these difficulties have arisen for us, that this need to supplement our own resources by external borrowing has now presented itself.

There are of course difficulties to be expected in borrowing abroad because of the restrictions placed on external lending by other Governments but we do not anticipate that we shall fail to raise the amount required to supplement the estimated yield from our own resources, from the National Loan to be floated in the autumn, and from the small savings which are a normal part of the Government's capital inflow, in order to complete the programme as outlined. I do not think it would be possible to expand that programme. We would like to do so. There are many aspects of our activities on the capital side that we would like to expand further. We cannot do so until we can see our way to pay for them. It would be optimistic, I think, to assert that there was a possibility that in this year more than the approximate [574] £100 million of new capital for which we are estimating can be raised but if it could be raised, we would do it because we believe acceleration of the national economic development is very largely dependent on more capital to fulfil the ever-increasing capital investment programme.

However, I want to make it quite clear that it is the policy of the Government to cover current expenditure by current tax revenue. We are certain that is the only sure way in which the country can be got out of whatever economic difficulties it is now encountering and that any other policy would operate to pull down employment, destroy confidence in the country's future development and consequently stop its progress in all directions.

I should, perhaps, make it clear because of some statements that were made here yesterday and repeated in the newspapers, that we do not contemplate that it will be necessary to propose any further tax changes during the course of this financial year. If the amount of money brought in by the existing taxation as modified by these new proposals, plus the revenue buoyancy to which the Minister for Finance referred yesterday, is insufficient to meet outgoings, the outgoings will have to be curtailed and some of the expenditure envisaged in the Estimates may have to be postponed until next year.

I want to say a few words about the new tax which the Minister for Finance outlined yesterday, this selective purchase tax. A wholesale purchase tax is the name he applied to it but it is based on the type of purchase tax which operates in many other countries. That tax will be applied to a selected list of goods, less essential goods, representing about 15 per cent or 16 per cent of our total merchandise sales, whether the merchandise is imported or home-produced. Services will not be included. We do not think it desirable that we should attempt to specify now the commodities to which this selective tax will apply because it is intended that there should be ample opportunity given to commercial interests to discuss any problems they may see arising with the Minister for Finance before [575] final decisions are taken. A Bill which will set the framework of the tax will be presented to the Dáil in the course of a couple of weeks.

I know that the idea of a selective purchase tax has been mentioned here before with approval by Opposition Parties as an alternative to the turnover tax. I think, however, that the figures given by the Minister for Finance yesterday will show how unrealistic their ideas are in that respect. The aim of the Government in imposing any of these taxes, in determining their extent or scope, must be to prevent any distortion of trade, any interruption of, or any ill effects upon production or employment. If a five per cent selective purchase tax such as we are now envisaging can be estimated to bring in £5 million a year, then, in order to get the amount of revenue which is contemplated next year by reason of that tax, plus the turnover tax, the rate would have to be, not five per cent but 20 per cent, and a 20 per cent tax of that kind upon a limited range of commodities would be certain to have effects in the distortion of trade and on production and employment. Indeed, a tax of that kind would be prohibitive and would mean that its economic consequences would be widespread and immediate.

The Government here have for long recognised that there was a need in this country to widen the base for indirect taxation. We have been relying far too long upon the three props of taxes upon drink, tobacco and petrol and we need a much wider tax base. The widening of the tax base was achieved by the imposition of the turnover tax in 1963. That tax is now an integral, indeed an essential, part of our tax system and Deputies opposite who have talked about the possibility of their at some time becoming the Government must abandon this pretence of having any intention of repealing it. If they do so, there is no possible device by which the £16 million of revenue that tax is bringing in in this year could be substituted from some other source. It is now so essential a part of the total tax system that it has become irreplaceable. But, [576] even that tax was not sufficiently flexible in its composition to give us the wide and adaptable tax base we require. That is why we believe the introduction of this selective wholesale tax, even though it will bring in a comparatively small amount of money in this year, nevertheless, represents a permanent improvement in the country's tax system which future Ministers for Finance will be glad of.

If we are to succeed in getting the country over this difficult patch through which it is now passing and going ahead again, going ahead as strongly as before, then we will need a great deal of understanding of the nature of our present problems and the way out of these problems, both from the leaders of business and from the trade unions and, indeed, require not merely their understanding of the nature of our problems and the solution of them but their active co-operation in working out the solutions.

It is our duty as the Government to remind the Dáil and to remind the country that the loss of production consequent upon the number of industrial disputes which have resulted in strikes, in many cases long-drawn out strikes, involves very serious dangers for the stability of the national economy. It is causing a slowing down of our industrial progress, certainly delay in many cases and possibly abandonment in some cases of new industrial projects and making it far less easy for the country to pay higher wages at any level and to maintain higher farm price supports at any level without adverse effect on production, employment and on prices than would otherwise be the case.

The Minister for Finance pointed out to the Dáil yesterday that they are also having their effect upon the tax revenue, that because of the economic dislocation resulting from these trade disputes, there has been a diminution in the yield from the turnover tax and the yield from income tax and, because of the shipping strike which is not under our control and which it is not in our power to do anything about, the danger of serious loss of customs revenue as well.

[577] If we have this loss of revenue, if there is not any buoyancy experienced in this year but an actual curtailment of revenue instead, then we will be faced with a very critical situation indeed in which we will either have to think again in terms of higher taxes of some other kind or serious curtailment of Government spending in some directions. If we can get through this period of accumulating difficulties without permanent damage to the national economy, we will need to start moving out of it very quickly and getting again into a position where we can speed up the rate of national development.

I believe that the possibilities for economic recovery in the fullest sense of that term are at hand if we are prepared to seize them. We see that in many respects the situation which we had to deal with last year is becoming more favourable. Our exports are rising notwithstanding all these difficulties. The balance of payments deficit is contracting. These facts are evidence of the basic soundness of the national position and of our capacity to make a far greater rate of progress if these temporary difficulties can be cleared out of the way.

So far as the Government are concerned, we will take second place to no Party in our determination to accomplish social progress based upon sound economic development. The aim of our policy is to make the people of this country better off in terms of their living standards, to secure a sounder foundation for the prosperity of our farmers and of our workers. The whole Government effort in every sphere is directed to that end.

We never expected and never said that the achievement of the targets we set out in the Second Programme for Economic Expansion would be easy. We never told the people they could secure these benefits in their living standards or in their social conditions by just voting for them. Time after time and in speech after speech Ministers of the Government said that these rewards were there to be won by planning and by effort. If there was [578] anybody who attempted to suggest that mere wishing for them would give results, that mere voting for them would secure them, it is the people now sitting on the opposite benches.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Is it the people's fault, not the Government's?

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass May I remind Deputy O'Higgins that his Party are trying to present themselves as a credible, alternative Government, a body of serious-minded men, not a gaggle of juvenile delinquents.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins I do not know what the Taoiseach means by that. Is it the people's fault that the targets have not been achieved?

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass I am not saying it is. Deputy Cosgrave said here that we told them they could get these benefits and realise these rewards by voting for us. That is a falsehood.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins So you did.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass Remember, you are supposed to be an alternative Government.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins So you did.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Order.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass What an alternative Government, these shadow Ministers named the other day as the Government.

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Would the Taoiseach like to denounce the people?

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass People who purport to be able to govern the country should start by showing some capacity to govern themselves. It is true that since the Second Programme for Economic Expansion was drawn up, we have faced a problem in respect of employment greater than we then anticipated, a greater withdrawal of people out of agriculture, notwithstanding the fact that agricultural production is expanding. The estimated diminution in the number of people occupied in agriculture prepared for the Second Programme for Economic Expansion was based upon the trend [579] of events in previous years. It is true also that this contraction in employment in agriculture, this reduction in agriculture's requirements of manpower, even in circumstances of expanding production, has not been offset by a corresponding rise in employment in industry or in the services sector. This is our problem but we are not going to solve that problem by weeping on each other's shoulders. We are not going to solve it by groaning about it, as Deputy Cosgrave did today. This problem can be solved only by the assiduous application of the minds of Members of this House to the various solutions that are possible and the preparation by the Government of the plans which derive from that consideration, to which we all can, I hope, give adequate support to secure their implementation. We have tolerated, in this Dáil and outside it, a great deal of dishonest political criticism——

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Hear, hear.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass ——and a great deal of personal abuse——

Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Hear, hear.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass ——but the time has come for us now to start fighting back and I will give the Deputies opposite notice that they have a fight on their hands——

Deputies: Hear, hear.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass ——and all these smug political commentators, who are supporting the Deputy and his Party, can understand this also: this is not a Government who are going to run away from any of their responsibilities. We will not be misled into inactivity or into pursuing the wrong policies by any of these misapplied criticisms by the Deputies opposite or their newspaper allies. It is very easy sitting in the opposite benches or sitting on your fanny in a newspaper office to solve all the country's problems by a wave of your hands or by some glib phrase. It is an entirely different proposition when you have to sit here as a member [580] of the Government, facing hard realities, required to work out every implication of every proposal, and see every consequence of every proposal and, in the last resort, come here to the Dáil for the financial backing and taxation arrangements which will make it feasible at all.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne That is not what the Taoiseach said a couple of weeks ago.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass We brought this country out of the deepest depression it ever experienced in the past ten years, a depression the Deputies opposite bequeathed to us, a depression from which they ran away because they were afraid to face it. We will not do that.


The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass When we put our shoulder to the plough, we follow the furrow to the end. There will be no cribbing as far as we are concerned and, if Deputies want to know the date of the next general election, I will tell them now: mid-June, 1970.


Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave Zoom on Liam Cosgrave A great relief: Fianna Fáil do not want any more elections.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass A final word before I finish. There are a great many newspaper correspondents amusing themselves these days talking about a Cabinet reshuffle. There will be no changes in the Cabinet other than those consequential on the establishment of a new Ministry. We have, I believe, the finest team of Ministers any Taoiseach could wish to lead or that any country could hope to have and, so far as I am concerned, I will give them all the support and backing I can to carry into full effect the plans they are now working on in order to achieve in full the targets we set ourselves in the Second Programme.


The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass I know the Deputy does not have to pretend to be a juvenile delinquent or to present himself as a probable alternative to the [581] Government and therefore he can interrupt away.


An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Order. Will Deputy Dunne allow the Taoiseach to speak?

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass A couple of weeks ago I published in the Press a comprehensive statement of the aims of the Government Party. I did not attempt in that statement to define the methods by which these aims will be realised. My purpose was to set out the aims and show the basic unity that inspired them to enable any Deputy, who wanted to, to know what the Government was trying to do. I am quite certain that during the course of the next few years there will be many occasions when Deputies opposite will be turning back to that statement to understand the motivation behind the proposals brought before this Dáil by the Government.

I have noted that so far nobody suggested that these aims require to be changed in any way. Nobody has found fault with the statement of aims or suggested there are some alternatives which would be preferable.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave Zoom on Liam Cosgrave Like the 100,000 jobs.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Order.

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass The next step in the Government's preparation for its work in the years until 1970, when the next election takes place, will be to supplement that statement of aims with a precise statement of the measures by which the Government will try to realise them. That work is now proceeding and I hope that, when we get the Dáil adjourned at the end of this session, Ministers will be able to meet the members of the Government Party for a full and comprehensive consideration of the measures that are required to realise these aims, the measures that will represent the work of the Dáil in 1967, and 1968, and 1969 and, by 1970, will put us in the position to go again to the people in the general election in that year [582] confident of being sent back again to carry on our work.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully When the backbenchers of Fianna Fáil have finished showing their relief at the statement made by the Taoiseach, even though he did not himself believe it when he was making it, I will endeavour to put the Labour Party's point of view on what has been described as this “Mini-Budget” but which is, in fact, a continuation of the Budget before the House earlier this year.

The Taoiseach on a previous occasion referred to the fact that he was bored by the speeches made by a number of Opposition Deputies. The main reason he was bored was that he had to remain in the House waiting his turn until the others had finished. With your co-operation, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I decided today that the Taoiseach would speak out of his turn and I had, therefore, the very doubtful pleasure of enjoying the boredom from which, he alleged, he suffered on an earlier occasion because we have heard the Taoiseach's speech every year since he became Taoiseach. He has repeated it again and again in an effort to build up the morale of his more fainthearted backbenchers, telling them there will not be an election for five years. He even succeeded in gulling some of the Independents in this House on a previous occasion and he got their support for the turnover tax; but, when the election came, the electorate showed those people what they thought of double-dealing like that, as they will show this Government when the time comes.

Deputies: Hear, hear.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully If there is any reason why the Taoiseach would be anxious to hold on until 1970, it is that, if he is able to hold on until then, he may get the people to forget 1966. But if he has to go to the country before that, it will be “God help him” and “God help the Fianna Fáil Party”. Do not forget that the Taoiseach knows quite well what will happen. That is the reason why he and his Government, and particularly the Minister for Local Government, were afraid to put themselves [583] to the test by holding the local elections this year. The issue was dodged because the Government knew they would get such a resounding defeat they would have no option but to go to the country as a Government and face the people again.

The Taoiseach took the easy way out. They funked it last year, and this year, and, if I do not miss my guess, they will funk it again next year. We have been listening to this claptrap about Fianna Fáil doing the right thing by the country, having the confidence of the people, knowing the people will do the right thing by them. If the people had done the right thing by them, the name of Fianna Fáil would have disappeared off the electoral roll many years ago.

Deputies: Hear, hear.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully This Budget— call it what you like—increases from today the price of petrol. Petrol was increased in price three months ago by the Minister for Finance. After a great deal of talk and a great deal of suggestion as to why petrol prices were as high as they are, the petrol companies decided to reduce the price of petrol. Immediately we have the price of petrol pushed up again by the deliberate action of the Government. I sometimes think Government Ministers think everybody in the country is in the same position as they are and that no such thing as petrol bills ever enter into anyone's calculations. I wonder if the Taoiseach would consider, or get some of his colleagues in my constituency to consider, what happens to the man who gets into a car at 6.30 a.m., drives into Dublin to a job on a building site, and drives back again home that night. Does the Taoiseach not realise that, apart from the increase he imposed on such people earlier this year, this extra increase, plus the 25 per cent increase in car tax, will make it nearly impossible for these hardworking people to exist at all? Does he not know that income tax, which he also increased this year, is deducted from these people and they cannot claim any remission for meals, for [584] travel, or for anything else? At the end of the week, PAYE will make a deduction from their pay packets and leave them with very much less than they should have to bring home.

Yet we have the Government proclaiming they are doing the right thing by everybody. They mostly see to it that the money is found. Cigarettes were increased in price earlier this year. They have been increased again now. There was a very interesting exercise done here by Deputy O'Connell when the first Budget was going through in March last. He asked the Minister for Finance if he was able to estimate the difference between the cost of the tipped cigarette and the plain cigarette. It became quite obvious after some questioning that, first of all, the Minister did not know there was a difference at all; he is a pipe smoker. He did not seem to realise there was a substantial difference which was going to be passed on to the manufacturer. Eventually he admitted it was going to be passed on to the people who manufacture cigarettes. The same thing is happening this time. This 2d. on cigarettes will give the manufacturers a handsome profit, may be not so much when divided among the three big manufacturers in this country. I am told it may amount to only about £300,000 a week. Of course that is little enough when we are giving out golden handshakes of thousands of pounds.

The Minister for Social Welfare, on the other hand, was telling us here the terrible trouble he would have if he attempted to give anything more than what he was offering to the people who are depending on social welfare benefit. He pointed out that the 5/-over which there has been such a song and dance in the past few days and which is being given to the non-contributory people from 1st November next, was all that could be afforded. Bit by bit the story came out. The saving this year, because the British Government were persuaded to pay the people living here the same rate of pension as if they were living in Britain, will be £268,000, and less than that will meet what is being given to the unfortunate social welfare recipients [585] who will benefit—if “benefit” is the right word—by the 5/- per week increase from 1st November. That 5/-applies only to those who have no other means whatever. Anybody who has a house which represents means of £1 is disqualified from getting the 5/- which is being paid from November next. Such a lot of hypocrisy we have been listening to here. Surely the Government, if they have any conscience at all, will realise that there are people in this country in desperate straits and that any additional taxation, no matter what that taxation goes on, is bound to increase the cost of living.

What I cannot understand about this Government is that today they are prepared to say something can be done in only one way, and tomorrow they are prepared to say it can be done in an entirely different way and that they have never suggested otherwise. We had the story that price control would not work. Then when it was put into operation, when it was forced down the necks of the Government by the labour and trade union movement, we had the Government bragging that because of price control, it was possible to hold steady the cost of living figure. The Minister for Finance told us yesterday that he could put on at wholesale level, a selective tax, though his predecessor made it very plain in this House that he and the Government believed it was absolutely impossible to operate such a tax. Even when questions were put down here suggesting that such things as medicines, food and clothing should be excluded from the turnover tax, we were told : “It is ridiculous; it just cannot be done”. But it can be done now because it suits to do it now. That is the type of thing at which the Government are expert.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch They are two different matters.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The Minister for Finance had his opportunity yesterday, and he will have an opportunity again when the debate closes, to deal with the point. One thing he will not do is wave away with his hand anything I have to say.

[586]Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch I do not like to see the Deputy proceeding on a false premise.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish What does the Minister mean?

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The Minister said they were two different matters. The Minister does not have to tell me there is a difference between a tax put on at wholesale level and a tax put on at retail level, but I can tell the Minister that his predecessor— and if he likes, I shall produce the reference where he said it—said it could not be done at wholesale level. It is now being done at wholesale level. If the Minister thinks he can wave it away with the fairy wand the Taoiseach was talking about a few days ago, he will have to think again, because it will not disappear that way.

The Minister ought to realise also that the people are far too intelligent to swallow stories such as we had from himself yesterday and from the Taoiseach today. There was a time, unfortunately, when the Taoiseach could make the most outrageous statements in this House and expect to be believed. He can make them now but the result of the Presidential election proves that the people will believe him no longer and that the fairy wand is no use. It is only facts in which the people are interested and he has got to stick to hard facts, and he is going to get those facts as long as this debate continues.

If the Minister says there will be no increase in the cost of living as a result of the new taxes—as a matter of fact, he did venture to suggest that there would be roughly a half per cent increase as a result of these taxes—I would suggest to him the outcome will be the same as in regard to the increase which his predecessor said would result from the turnover tax a few years ago. The increase caused by the turnover tax started at its introduction and has not finished yet. Every month that goes by, the results of what was done at that time can be seen, and the Minister should know that as well as anybody else. The cost of living was [587] said to be static for a while. From February to mid-May this year, it has increased by around 3½ to four per cent. Would the Minister be prepared to hazard a guess or would he get his crystal ball and forecast the likely increase because of what has happened since mid-May of this year? Apart from his foolish statement that the cost of living would increase by only .5 per cent, would be give an estimate of what will happen as a result of the increase in fares, for instance, the increase in the cost of butter, and all the other increases which are bound to come as a result of this Budget?

I was rather interested in two things the Taoiseach said. He said there would be no further taxation imposed this year and he expected a cheer or a clap from his backbenchers for that. He did not get it, but shortly afterwards he said : “There will not be an increase unless...” Are we to take that as a hint that if everything does not go right, we shall have a further increase in taxation later in the year? The Minister did a fairly good job of changing the seasons. It is still summer. When he was introducing his Budget in March, he said there was a possibility of a further Budget in the autumn.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch I did not say that; I said “later”.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The Minister said “autumn”.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins November. The Minister purported to say November.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch What does the Deputy mean—I said “November”, and I purported to say “November”? I did not say “November”.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): One thing the Minister did not say, and that was, “immediately after the Presidential election.”

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The Taoiseach said today that one of the reasons why things were going wrong was all those strikes. It is the usual thing if something [588] goes wrong to have a whipping boy. The whipping boys have been produced: they are the workers of this country. We had an example of it last week when one group of workers were made whipping boys and, fortunately they were manly enough not to take their medicine as whipping boys. These statements are made again and again by Government Ministers that strikes are ruining the country and this is always said in such a way and in such company as to suggest that, of course, it is the workers who are wrong. There is no suggestion that the employers could be making a mistake, no suggestion that there is such a person as an unfair employer who is not prepared to meet the workers in the proper way.

I want to tell the Minister, in case he does not know it, that we have such employers, and I can list them for him. On the very top of the list, I put the Government of this country. Not alone have they not offered an increase in wages to their employees, to their manual workers, to the people who are being paid the lowest rate being given to anybody in this country, but they have even refused over the past couple of weeks to meet the trade unions to discuss wages or working conditions. If that is not evidence that there are unfair employers in the country, then I do not know what evidence the Minister and his Government want.

We have the Irish banks. The Irish banks, themselves, have been on strike against the public for the past 12 or 18 months. They were on strike against anybody who wanted a loan. Whether or not they were acting on Government orders was beside the point. It was impossible to get money out of them and now they will not even pay their own employees. We are expected to give sympathy to the Taoiseach and his Ministers when they say strikes are ruining the country.

In this city, we have a strike of people in the paper mills and also a strike in Waterford. What is happening? When the strikers try to make a bargain, the suggestion is made by a group of people—who, I believe, should never have been allowed in here [589] to start industry in the first place— that the whole thing will close down— people with the mentality that we are just mere Irish and therefore do not count very much.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce says he does not want to interfere in the delicate negotiations between employers and employees. He was not so terribly reluctant in this House last week about other very delicate negotiations. If the Government are consistent in anything, it is in being inconsistent. When it suits them, they do any darn thing they like.

The one point which most of us cannot understand is that, despite the fact that higher taxation than ever before was imposed earlier this year, extra taxation is again imposed in the mini-Budget we are discussing. We still seem to be without the necessary money to carry out essential works. Is it not a shocking state of affairs that, in 1966, local authorities have had to put notices in their local papers advising people wanting to build houses not to make application for either loans or grants because no money is available for the building of houses? They had to inform applicants for local authority houses, who wanted the local authorities to build on sites acquired by them, that they could not build them and will not be likely to build them next year because no money is available.

People asking for health services will get a lecture from the Minister for Health on the wonderful improvements he will make in the health services. When he is asked when that will happen, the earliest date he can give them is a possible November, 1967.

I was rather interested to hear the replies given today by the Minister for Education about the leaving certificate examination and the Irish paper. The most interesting thing about it all is that people who do not know one word of Irish are prepared to defend the action of the Minister and to say he is right and must be right.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch Who were they? It is very fresh in all our minds and the Deputy should be able to identify them.

[590]Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully I am not saying it of today. I say that people who have not one word of Irish have been rushing to the defence of the Minister for Education over the past couple of days, since this thing started, and were prepared to say that the Minister must be right, possibly because he is a Fianna Fáil Minister: they also were Fianna Fáil supporters.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch It is just a general group?

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully It is not just a general group. There are individuals. If the Minister would like the names of a few of them—the Leas-Cheann Comhairle might object to their being on the record of the House—there is no difficulty about giving them.

On the question of education in general, the fact is that in my constituency we have 362 people applying this year for 62 scholarships which are made available in the country. The same thing applies elsewhere. The Minister for Education has been lecturing us, since he was appointed, about his intention to double and treble the number of scholarships. We have been told, again and again, that new schools of all types will be built in the country but we cannot even get schools which are tumbling down repaired. That is what we are up against while higher taxation than ever before is being heaped on the heads of the people. The Taoiseach's only solution for it is that a Fianna Fáil Government are in office and will be there until 1970—God help us.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish He was giving his supporters a pep talk. They needed it.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Last week, after the Presidential election—I am not saying it had anything to do with it— the Taoiseach issued a document to the Fianna Fáil Deputies. While he referred to it here as a statement of aims of Government policy, my information is that it was a re-statement of aims of Government policy. The fact that it was necessary to issue a re-statement of aims of Government policy to Fianna Fáil Deputies suggests that the Taoiseach is well aware that they do not know what the dickens he is talking about and I think he [591] cannot blame them too much. I am firmly convinced that neither he nor his Government know what they have been talking about. They come in here with various stories from time to time. We are either on top of the world or we are with our backs to the wall. The Taoiseach and his Ministers never seem to be able to make up their minds what the position is today. Today may be bad; tomorrow may be good; the next day may be bad. With the Government blowing hot and cold over the economic situation, they are giving no lead to anybody.

We hear talk about planning. This evening, the Taoiseach had the audacity to talk about the Second Programme. I thought, and most people in the country seem to think, that that was forgotten and that Fianna Fáil were desperately anxious that everybody should forget about it. It most certainly does not hold very much hope of being brought to fruition in view of the fact that we need more jobs now to fulfil it than we did when the Programme was introduced.

The Taoiseach talked about the improvement in the agricultural industry and said there was an expansion in agriculture, despite the fact that people are leaving the land. I think the Taoiseach has the same idea as some farmers I have met down the country who employ say, six men for a number of years and, dismissing four of them, bought expensive machinery and now tell me they are able to produce with two men and the expensive machinery as much as, and more than they were able to produce when they had the six men employed. They forget all about the acreage they have and what they are supposed to do.

From time to time, gimmicks in relation to this, that and the other are introduced into this House. We now hear that a Minister for Labour will be appointed. Something must be done to remedy the present position and I hope, if he is appointed, he will at least get a set of aims and a set of objectives. I hope he will not be just another Fianna Fáil backbencher on the Government payroll, with absolutely [592] nothing to do, like the Minister for Transport and Power. I hope the new Minister for Labour will be prepared to take an interest in what he is doing because merely to appoint such a Minister and to leave him there will not do us any good.

The number of people now emigrating is greater than it has been for years. The last figure I got for a calendar year was 26,500 and that was an increase of approximately 1,000 on the previous year. The number of people unemployed at present is very high for the time of year, despite all sorts of manoeuvres with statistics to give the impression that such is not so. The number of people in insurable employment is smaller now than it has been for the past ten years: it has been dropping steadily every year. The Taoiseach said that, because of strikes, there is a lack of funds to the State through PAYE and other sources. He does not seem to realise that the loss to the State is also very great because people are unemployed, because they are not stamping cards, because they are not paying income tax and because, in fact, they are drawing benefit from the State. Unless we get a Government who will face up to reality and try to give us something like full employment, there is not a hope of getting this country out of the mess into which the Government have got it. I was amused at one statement made by the Taoiseach which was taken up by the Fine Gael Deputies. He seemed to suggest that it was the people who were responsible for the state we are in now, not the Government.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch That is not true. That is a misinterpretation of what he said. I was sitting beside him.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully The Minister for Finance was sitting beside him and I was sitting opposite him and my hearing is as good as that of the Minister for Finance Possibly there might be more than one way of interpreting what the Taoiseach said but it seemed to me that the Taoiseach was satisfied that he had been let down by the people. One of his predecessors said once that the Irish people had no right to do wrong [593] but one of the wrong things which the Irish people did was to re-elect a Fianna Fáil Government under the impression that they were going to get a fair crack of the whip. Now they know the result of what they did.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins It is high time we came down to realities about the present situation in the country. The truculent arrogance of the Taoiseach is no answer to the lack of confidence of the people in the Government. It is now time to place the blame for the real cause of the recent economic situation. The real source of our present ills is not the Irish people but the Government inflicted on them by means of a trick. Let us get back to the start of the whole thing. Let us get back to the purchase price of the Cork and Kildare by-elections which came so rapidly after the imposition of the iniquitous turnover tax.

We know now that it was within the competence of the Government to know then that the economic trends were running the wrong way. We had the assertive and truculent Taoiseach going around the country and saying that everything was going well, that all the country needed for continued prosperity was to let Lemass lead on. That was base trickery and I am going to copperfasten now the lie after lie uttered by the Taoiseach in his most aggressive truculence. We all remember him saying that if necessary, we would go it alone into Europe. If anyone dared to tell him that he was talking through his hat, he was amazed that anyone could doubt him but now we have had to see these boasts recanted.

Today he was most aggressive about political commentators and about pressmen because they are seeing through the futility of his statements about a Second Programme and about the rehash which was recently issued on the future aims of Government policy to bolster up the flagging enthusiasm of his supporters. Let him forget the future aims of Government policy as far as he and his Party are concerned because the first opportunity that people get they will settle the Taoiseach and his Party at the polls [594] and there will be an end to the promises and codology. The exuberance of the Taoiseach and his supporters will fall very flat when we have one or two by-elections and the Irish people give their answer to those who have been tricking them for the past couple of years.

It is time the Government got rid of their habit of promising in sermons and doing the opposite in practice. I feel sorry for the Minister for Finance, who is a decent man, in being so saddled by the stupidity of his colleagues in government who could not see the economic trends and who were unable to take the necessary corrective action to keep the national economy on the right lines. Now the Government blame everybody but themselves. They blame the people and the trade unions; they blame the workers who are trying to fight for survival and who are using the methods available to them to get what they consider to be their rights.

The Taoiseach has heaped scorn on all sections of the community. “Everybody is out of step but my son, Johnny.” Everybody in the country is wrong except the Taoiseach. The Minister for Finance has indicated by his truculent intervention that the Government are not wrong. If the Government are not wrong, the only alternative is the people. Do Fianna Fáil think that they have some divine right to rule or that they are the only people in the country with any claim to nationalism?

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch The only claim we make is the claim given us by the majority vote of the people.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins Go to the people tomorrow and see what majority you will have. The Minister was part of the leadership that told us that the economy was progressing and that there was going to be greater prosperity. The Minister was one of the most assertive of those people who were deliberately misleading the people. At the first opportunity the people of Cork got since then, they gave their answer in the terrible reversal in the Presidential election.

[595]Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch We did quite well.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins Your pundits and your supporters in Cork city are quite perturbed about it. The Minister was part of the deception scheme. He is the man responsible for producing, in a period of three months, one grab-all Budget and now a second one, and out of the two he has given nothing to the people. The Minister cannot now give an assurance that the various projects of importance advanced by local authorities or by the Board of Works will not grind slowly to a halt. We all know that by next October or November, the building industry will have ground to a halt, unless, by some radical method, money is made available for housing.

One of the statements made by the Taoiseach today can easily be contradicted. He suggested that Fianna Fáil were great house builders. In three years the inter-Party Government built over 30,000 houses. The best ever achieved by Fianna Fáil in three years was 17,000 houses. The Taoiseach talked about their plans in respect of capital expenditure. I remember him howling and screaming when we first introduced into this House the system of a Capital Budget. It was from the inter-Party Government we got this system that has grown up and was effective up to the present of presenting a Current Budget and a Capital Budget. We know the Minister for Finance had tremendous difficulty in getting a loan outside this country because of our lack of creditworthiness abroad. Now he tells us he is going to finance more of the capital programme by borrowing a further £10 million outside the country. Where will it be raised and on what terms and conditions?

We are entitled to ask the Government when they are going to take steps to halt the atmosphere of drift in the country. When are they going to put back some confidence in the people? The basic necessity of our economy is that we must increase production and produce in such a way that we can be effectively competitive. We must encourage the people to save in order [596] to have more savings available at home to finance our capital developments. To do both of those things we have to re-establish confidence and leadership in this country. The only way this can be brought about is by the opportunity arising suddenly to get rid of the Government.

We are tired of hearing the Taoiseach's cliche that we are going to get over the hump. One time it used to be that we were around the corner. Any Deputy who is a member of a local authority or has anything to do with local problems from roads to housing grants and loans knows there has been a deliberate administrative slowing down making it almost impossible to get over technicalities that would never have arisen but for the fact that the money is not there. Why do the Government not tell us honestly where we have gone wrong? The Minister for Finance introducing his Budget only ten weeks ago asked where his previous Budget had gone wrong. I heard the Taoiseach truculently assert that they were going to face their responsibilities and balance the Budget. Yet the last five or six Budgets they introduced left us with a deficit of over £22 million, the biggest deficit being in the Budget before last when it reached a sum of £8 million.

In introducing his Budget, the Minister used the phrase “later in the year” when referring to the possibility of a supplementary Budget. I suggested it would be November before we had it. Instead we now have it exactly ten weeks afterwards. We have the suggestion thrown out that because of certain hard-won concessions to the agricultural community, we are on the march forward again. No matter what excuses are made, it was only because the farmers were able to take concerted deliberate action in their own interest that they were able to wrest this overdue concession. If it had not been for the fact that a Presidential election intervened, they would not have got that either at the time they did. Maybe part of the reason for this Supplementary Budget is the fact they have to safeguard a slipping situation which they appreciated in the four or five days prior to the Presidential election. [597] With typical Fianna Fáil lack of conscience, the public purse was used for the purpose of bolstering up their election candidate. If these concessions had not been given on the penultimate eve of the election, they would not have won it. If they had been honest enough to put the butter up 3d on the Tuesday instead of the Friday, they would have got a bigger hiding in Dublin than they got.

The people of the country are no longer gullible old idiots. They see all this chicanery going on. For a long time we were preaching about the granting of the 12 per cent increase which the economy did not justify, when Fianna Fáil “jumped the gun” in order to buy Cork and Kildare. We warned, as did the Labour Party, that the turnover tax would set off a chain of events which would impinge on the cost of living and force the lower-paid worker to fight to the last ditch for some compensation for the diminution in the purchasing power of his income brought about by this tax. I remember the Minister for Finance when Minister for Industry and Commerce suggesting there were no undue increases. After the turnover tax came in, when the facts were analysed, it was found there was not an increase of 2½ per cent but an increase of 7½ to 11 per cent on the widest possible range of goods because people had tried to protect themselves before the tax fell on them.

Apparently the Taoiseach and the Government are becoming hot under the collar because our political commentators and some of the newspapers are beginning to realise what a bunch of shams they are. I have often said that if you mangled in the most modern mangle the collective intelligence of the Government, you would find difficulty in filling a thimble. Fianna Fáil are a political organisation governing for the benefit of their own supporters. They do not give a fiddle-de-dee, as my colleague, Deputy Dillon, might say, about the rest of the country. The people are becoming wise enough in their time to appreciate that that is the build of Fianna Fáil. The Taoiseach becomes assertive, truculent and even threatening [598] about what he will do in the present situation.

The Minister for Education is busy telling us about new educational schemes for the future. He talks about comprehensive schools and he makes vainglorious utterances that cover up the fact, as mentioned by Deputy Tully, that old schools are crumbling and new schools are not being built and the alleged reorganisation of education and the reappraisal of the country generally is providing the excuse for not doing these things. We had the Minister for Health telling us that at some future date we will have all types of health services and specialist treatments available and an improvement in relation to some of our perennial problems, but we are never told where we are to get the money or when we are to get the services. You cannot keep on forever with this line of talk and not give results. It is this failure to deliver the goods which has run the Government into their present difficulties, accompanied by a lack of confidence throughout the country.

Nowhere is this more apparent than amongst the agricultural community. We know that the real basis for development lies in the improvement of agricultural production, an improvement in quality and in marketing and the development of more markets. Whenever the economy gets into real difficulties, ultimately it is on agricultural produce that we have to fall back to remedy the situation. What is the position in agriculture? The position is that we have gone through a disastrous winter and spring and we have had greater losses in animals than were ever recorded before. In addition, for some unknown reason, we had a disastrous lowering of cattle prices, which, thank God, are now beginning to recover somewhat. In that situation you had the main foundation of the agricultural industry, the small farmer, practically crippled until certain reliefs had to be given to him. In my opinion, they were given too late and too grudgingly. Be that as it may, we have to get agricultural production going speedily again if we want to take up a good deal of the slack that has arisen [599] in Exchequer revenue because unless we get agriculture going again and increase our agricultural exports, we will run into further difficulties.

What is there in present Government thinking or in these two Budgets to provide the type of impetus which is necessary? There is nothing. What is there to justify this incredible grab at the people's money by way of taxation? What is there to justify this phenomenal taxation, this ten to 12 per cent increase? What are the people getting for what the Taoiseach euphemistically described as a redistribution of income, taking from one section to help another section? All that we can see in this, other than the repayment of accumulated debt and the writing off of deficits that have arisen in the past four or five years, is an insignificant pittance for a limited section of social welfare recipients next November. All this is at a time when the taxpayers are getting the biggest fleecing they ever got and we are getting homilies and advice from Ministers about increased production. In the ultimate analysis, does increased production not go back to the willingness and capacity of the worker to produce more? That was quite properly pointed out by many of my Labour colleagues.

With this increasing incidence of taxation, and particularly with the increasing impact of PAYE on overtime, any stimulus to increase production is being removed because the worker finds that the hungry maw of the Revenue Commissioner is waiting for him should he try, by increased effort, to provide some extra comfort for the house. The whole attitude of the Government is one of repression rather than stimulation, initiative and leadership. Why have they not got the courage, if the situation has got out of hand, to tell the people why it is out of hand? If there has to be restraint for a period, why can they not tell us why it has arisen and what its duration is going to be, and tell us also how and when they hope to get the economy moving forward again? That is the sort of thing the people want to know. Because of this lack of direction the country is beginning to wonder if [600] Fianna Fáil are as tired and as stupid as they appear to be and suffering from inertia. The people are wondering if the time has not come when, having been given a warning, the Government should not show that they have a mandate for their present lack of policy.

I must confess that I do not view the present situation as being as disastrous as some people consider it. It is only disastrous from the point of view of the Government's lack of initiative and their failure to take a firm grip on the reins and pull the economy together. I believe our workers are as good as workers in any country and I believe that the farming community is as co-operative and as helpful as any farming community in any part of the world, and if they got intelligent leadership, help and direction from the Government, both of them could pull the economy together as they always did before. However, until such time as we stop getting sermons on production and get a positive lead, the people will continue in this slough of despond which has led to many of the problems besetting us to day.

I am not prepared to condemn the workers, particularly the lower-paid groups, and particularly the agricultural workers, because they are trying to assert their just claim against the present upsurge of costs. I do not want to deny the income group below £10 per week the right to try to get themselves on a par with others as quickly as possible, but if there is a necessity to restrain incomes in the higher brackets temporarily, the Government should tell us why and ask for co-operation either by postponing payment or siphoning off some of the money into Government savings for the provision of retirement allowances or something like that. If that is necessary, why not come out and say so instead of having vague statements by the Minister for Finance about the shadow of the big increases that had to be paid to the public service and to people in local authorities being still with us and there being uncertainty as to whether it will be £3 million or £4 million that will be involved in bringing people under £1,200 a year [601] up by £1 or 15/- per week in the current year?

Why be vague? Why not take the people into your confidence and tell them the realities of the situation and then give the type of leadership and direction the country is seeking. I do not believe the Government can do that and I therefore suggest they should put their record to the test of the Irish people and take the hiding they justly deserve because they have succeeded in atrophying progress to such an extent that unless we can get rid of them it may soon be disastrous.

I do not want to delay the House. I said when I first came into the House in 1948 that I would, with the help of God, retain my strength of voice and my capacity to point out the blisters Fianna Fáil have raised on the backs of the people and rub salt into the wounds Unfortunately, we have now reached the stage where it is in the people's interest that we should do everything in our power to get a return to sanity of effort or force the Government to accept the judgment of the people on their stewardship. Many back-benchers applauded today when they heard that there would not be an election until 1970, even though I know they are as doubtful as can be because they know the warning of the Presidential election is not merely a warning: it is a gong which says: “You are found out at last. Give the Irish people the opportunity and they shall substitute for you a Government of courage, with a tradition of service and a capacity to serve them with integrity, putting the country above Party or sectional interest.”

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke I listened carefully to previous speakers but when one has been here a long time and heard Opposition speakers, one wonders if we have reached a time when they can say nothing but condemn everything: there is nothing good on this side of the House. Anybody can condemn. The country is going through a very hard time. For some reason or other in the past few years, our economy has suffered a recession. We hoped to achieve all we set out to achieve in a very short period and, [602] looking back to the inception of the State, a lot has been done under various Governments and a great deal under my Party in Government. We did it with the help of the Irish people as a whole. If we had not floated any loans over the years but merely paid our way, we would have no houses and no hospitals and we would be able only to repair the roads and carry on. Fianna Fáil have tried to do what successful Governments elsewhere have done, that is, get money to put it into production and improve our adverse trade balance.

I had expected some constructive criticism in relation to the present position. I was in Opposition in 1956 and 1957 when the inter-Party Government left office and the only difference between them and ourselves is that no matter how unpleasant the position is, we face up to our responsibilities and we intend to pull the country through. We many have misunderstanding as far as labour and employers are concerned but, I hope they will get together, as one cannot live without the other.

Deputy Tully spoke about the paper mills and I want to assure him that when the dispute was five or six weeks' old, I went behind the scenes with other Deputies and we got the Labour Court to call both sides together because we hoped to succeed in promoting a spirit of goodwill and understanding which would lead to the end of the strike. If everybody says he is right—and I say this to employers also—there is no solution. It takes two to make a row. We need a completely new approach to industrial relations.

Like the Acting Chairman, I have been for many years associated with efforts to make peace in industrial disputes, sometimes openly and sometimes behind the scenes. In many cases we succeeded by promoting understanding and goodwill and charity in the first instance and we achieved something. Workers as well as employers have rights and there is no use in people holding out on the workers and saying: “We are right and they are wrong.” That is a bad policy and [603] I hope it will change. The most successful industries and those that have gained international prominence are those that gave the workers an interest in their industry, paid them well and gave them special interest in their work. They enjoyed industrial peace.

I believe we must approach our present problems in this light and I think the day is coming when, as far as possible, employers and workers will get together because both are dependent on the same industry. Thus we might secure industrial peace in the country. It will take some time but some industries have succeeded in doing it in the past few years. One feature of strikes is the suffering entailed for workers and their families. The economic consequences for the family are deplorable. Therefore, whether we are on this or the other side of the House, I should love to see the day when harmony prevailed in industry and there would be a spirit of goodwill. Such a spirit would lead to an uplifting of the nation.

I know what is responsible for the creation of misunderstandings. However, industrial disputes are now being dealt with properly. I want to pay the Labour Court a compliment. The Labour Court has done a very good job and has succeeded in settling many disputes. Of course, when there is failure to settle, that fact is highlighted. I welcome the proposal to appoint a Minister for Labour. Such a Minister will have the authority to bring employers and employees together and in that way the good industrial relations that I am so anxious to see can be developed. It is very often comparatively easy to deal with a matter before a strike takes place. One hour before a strike takes place, there is a chance of settlement whereas it may take five or six weeks to restore peace, once a strike has taken place and bitterness has been created. I want to express the hope that better relations will develop between employers and workers. This is not the only country that experiences strikes. Strikes take place in the United States of America [604] and in Europe. We here should set a good example by eliminating strikes and creating harmony.

Speakers on the other side have taunted us and suggested that we should go to the country. Why should we go to the country? There is no necessity for us to go to the country unless we are defeated in the Dáil. Things are going reasonably well as far as our majority is concerned. There is no necessity to go to the country.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): It is a good job that something is going reasonably well.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke Criticism for the sake of criticism is useless. Criticism should be constructive. I would remind Deputies opposite that when they got into power in 1948, their action in regard to the national economy was the first retrograde step taken by an Irish Parliamentary Government. I remember it very well. Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis. The first approach to national economic development must be to try to export as much as possible in order to have a favourable trade balance. We were trying to do that. We were building up a tourist industry. Prior to 1948 we were told on many an occasion in the Dáil that we were building white elephants, building hotels for foreigners to eat our food. We were told that the poor people in Ireland could not get food because we were encouraging the foreigner to come in and eat it. That suggestion was made by very responsible Members of the House. The general election came. We were defeated. At that time there was over £400 million of Irish money to credit. There was no adverse trade balance. Of course, we could not import from England during the war. The first approach of the new Irish Government was to sell our Irish airlines.

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan Zoom on Fintan Coogan And the luxury hotels.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke Exactly. I am delighted the Deputy has mentioned that. He is helping me and I am very grateful.

[605]Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan Zoom on Fintan Coogan Private enterprise took over.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): The Deputy would have taken up a silver collection, undoubtedly.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke We will leave that to the Editor of the Sunday Independent. He has all the tin cans. It is very easy to understand why all that fund was depleted in three years. Our airlines were sold. The Government of that time were not concerned about an adverse trade balance. They had £400 million to squander. They made no constructive effort to develop the economy. I will repeat what my honourable colleague in County Dublin has often said, that the national interests must come first. They are first with us. I am not saying that they are not first with the Opposition. I will give them that credit.

If there were any short road to prosperity and if there were no necessity to introduce a Supplementary Budget or cause our people pain through having to pay more, it would be a thousand times better for us. If we could carry on without taxing anybody, we would be always in power. We would win every election if we had money for everything. That is not the position. We put money into production for the sole purpose of redressing our adverse trade balance. Every country meets with temporary trade balance difficulties. All the speakers on the other side of the House adopt a negative approach to national problems. I have never heard any of them offering any solution, good, bad or indifferent.

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan Zoom on Fintan Coogan Resign.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke You ask us to resign. You are entitled to do so. I would die defending your right to do so here. It is democracy in action.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Booth): Information on Lionel Booth Zoom on Lionel Booth Perhaps the Deputy would remember to address the Chair.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke Housing has been referred to. I want to see housing provided [606] for the people. That is one of our priorities. Housing is very high in our programme. We have done a good deal to house our people and we are sorry that this recession has occurred. It has not, however, stopped all building. It has slowed down our programme. We hope that in the not too distant future we will be able to go ahead again. In 1957, of course, when the inter-Party Government left office, they had made no arrangements for housing at all. They did not bring in a supplementary Budget. They left an unbalanced Budget. I have often referred to that on television and elsewhere. There was not a bag of cement left.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Now we have not even a bag.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke With regard to employment, 1,800 families in my constituency left their homes at that period because of unemployment. The inter-Party Government had neither the backbone nor the foresight to bring in a supplementary Budget to deal with the situation then. They were not prepared to face up to their responsibilities. They went out and it took us about three years to get the economy back again. There are certain things which are beyond our control and we are now fighting hard to bring the economy back to what it was in 1963 and 1964. We hope to achieve full employment and I firmly believe we will.

With regard to agriculture, every civilised country in the world has to put money into agriculture. Agricultural exports are most important because they ensure a better standard of living for our people. Our tourist industry ranks next to agriculture as a money-spinner from the point of view of our balance of payments. It is easy enough to criticise. There are very intelligent men on the other side of the House and it should not be beyond their competence, if they are dissatisfied, to put up some scheme.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Introduce a bit of honesty into budgeting. That is a constructive criticism.

[607]Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke What does the Deputy mean?


Acting Chairman: We must keep this as a debate and not crossfire over the floor of the House.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke Deputy Fitzpatrick's approach is a negative approach. What is dishonest about the Budget? Are we not politicians?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Politicians but not statesmen.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke Have we not to go and stand before the people and insist that certain things are necessary in the national interest to keep the economy sound? That is why we have brought in this Budget. Deputy Fitzpatrick is an honourable man and I am surprised he should make a dishonest statement. Is it dishonest to pay one's way?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): It should be paid at the appropriate time, when the bill is due.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke His interjection means that he would not bother bringing in any Budget at all. He would not be concerned who was paid. He would not be concerned if the country went on the rocks, as it did under the inter-Party Government.

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan Zoom on Fintan Coogan It is on the rocks now.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke We are confident that in the not too distant future the economy will be in full swing once more. We will be able to carry out our housing programme and implement to the full the Second Programme. We will succeed in looking after all sections of our people. I would make one appeal now to Opposition Deputies: when they criticise me, would they mention my name? The only advice I can give them is to try to remember to be constructive and not always have this negative approach.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): May I ask one question: how did the Government react to the Deputy's constructive suggestion of a silver collection?

[608]Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke May I say the Deputy is quoting me out of context? It suits him to do that. I mentioned in that connection that I had been travelling in Israel and I had seen there what world Jewry has done for the State of Israel and I suggested that if Irish people the world over would buy a £5 bond, this country would be one of the wealthiest in the world. That has since been quoted out of context. I was dealing with my experiences in Israel.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne The Deputy is very foolish to mention it at all.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke I know, but I have been criticised a great deal. Good luck to Deputy Fitzpatrick if he can make something out of it.

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan Zoom on Fintan Coogan How many tanners did the Deputy get?

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke The Deputy did not contribute very much.

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan Zoom on Fintan Coogan I will give the Deputy a tanner to start.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne I wonder could we have some order?

Acting Chairman: Deputies should cease interrupting.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke Deputy Coogan concerns himself with trivialities. He is not concerned with constructive suggestions. He likes to have the little jibe. He likes to go down the country and have a little fun over some statement made in the Dáil. I travelled in Israel and I saw there what the Jews have done for their State. We have never got anything worthwhile from our people abroad. In Israel they did great work for their own people by way of reconstruction, and they put a large amount of money into forestry, housing, roads and so on. It was an education to travel in that country and to see what they have done for themselves since 1948 when they got their freedom. We intend to go ahead. We are not going to shirk our responsibilities. We are going to be honest, not dishonest as Deputy Fitzpatrick implied a few moments ago.

[609]Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne The Israelites had a hard time of it and everybody admires them for the tremendous recovery they made. I am sorry my dear colleague is leaving because I am sure he would try to maintain order in the House, if there is any suggestion of disorder during the course of my speech, as I did for him. We would need to exercise ourselves in a manner comparable with that of the Israelites if we are going to have to suffer much longer under this Administration.

The Taoiseach in his intervention today displayed a great deal of petulance with the political correspondents of the newspapers. This is an opportunity to look into the Taoiseach's real mind. If the Taoiseach had his way, there would not alone be no criticism here in the House but no criticism of this Administration. Goodness knows, there is not that much criticism. I do not see the political correspondents going out on a limb particularly against the Government, but there would not be even that degree of criticism in the newspapers if the Taoiseach had his way. He has been so long accustomed to power that it is beginning to have an effect upon him. He expects adulation even from those Members of the House who believe he is pursuing a politically disastrous policy. The Taoiseach apparently would have it that our function here is to come in and applaud, as his followers applauded him today when he announced that there was to be no election until 1970 or 1971, to applaud this Government whom we see doing untold and progressive harm to the economy.

We had Deputy Burke, in his usual fashion, addressing the House in a spirit of ecumenism and, at the same time, recalling the events of 18 years ago as if they were relevant to what is happening now, recalling the setting up of the first inter-Party Government, recalling what I think will be looked upon historically as the most beneficial thing that ever happened to this country, the first break in the authoritarian grasp that one Party had on this nation. Regardless of what way it eventuated, it was a disturbance of the continuance of power.

[610] I do not intend to go into all the irrelevant material which Deputy Burke sought to dredge up from the depths of his memory and which has nothing to do with the situation in which we find ourselves. The Taoiseach today showed the real mind of Fianna Fáil when he attacked the political correspondents of the newspapers and even went to the extent of using language which I would have thought was rather in bad taste for a man of his eminence and a Member of the House, particularly when he attacked people who are journalists, who have no way of defending themselves, who, as we know, cannot come out and openly argue issues with the head of the Government and who, I am sure, do not wish to do so but to endeavour to enlighten the public as to what happens in this House.

It is most unfair and a disgusting performance to make such a reference to people who are doing what I consider to be an excellent job. If we look at the record, nobody can deny that the political correspondents of all newspapers—and that includes even the newspaper which will not mention, if it can possibly help it, the name of any member of the House except a Fianna Fáil Member—have contributed much to the development and enlightenment of the public. They should be encouraged instead of condemned and made little of as was done by the Taoiseach in the course of his intervention.

The Taoiseach's intervention followed classic lines. I have had the opportunity of listening to him at least a score of times over the last considerable number of years. He has developed a certain style of speech which, if you are used to it, you can see grow inexorably towards a climax and fall into the same kind of rhythmic cadence in which he seems to be able to convince himself by some process of self-hypnotism that what he is saying is right. For instance, today he said, much to the delight of the young and inexperienced members of Fianna Fáil, and some of them not so young but still inexperienced, who were behind him, in a rasping voice: “Let there be no doubt about it: the election will [611] take place in 1970 and not before.” And there was applause, applause of relief. Everybody was happy. I observed them going up in the lift. There was such joy——

Mr. Davern: Information on Donal Davern Zoom on Donal Davern Only equalled by the Deputy's own.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne ——that people were speaking to each other who hitherto had not spoken.

Mr. Davern: Information on Donal Davern Zoom on Donal Davern The Deputy found a lot of friends.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne This overwhelming delight which was evidenced amongst the inexperienced young members, and equally inexperienced older members, of the Fianna Fáil Party shows how they can be misled, because I have here a copy of the report of the debate of the Finance Bill of 1963, not so long ago but before the last election, and at column 1078, volume 204 of 17th July, 1963, the Taoiseach said:

... we have no intention either of walking out on our responsibilities. We will fulfil our duty as we see it unless and until a Dáil defeat forces dissolution or the Dáil's normal five-year term is expired.

That was July, 1963.

I have not had time to find the exact quotation since the Taoiseach spoke but I remember him rasping out here for the benefit of two gentlemen who used to reside up on that corner of the back bench behind me but who are no longer politically with us—one has been in a kind of limboistic state but he is on his way, just the same, and the other has gone—in order to stiffen these men to vote for, I think, the turnover tax, certainly to vote for a vital division for the Government, I remember him saying specifically, in effect: “Let there be no doubt in anybody's mind; the next general election will be in the middle of 1966 and not one month before it”, and all the Fianna Fáil Party clapped in support. But when did [612] the election come? There was no defeat in the Dáil. There was no natural dissolution of the Dáil. The five years had not run out. When did it come? It came, as we know, in April last year, long before its appointed time.

I bring this up for your consideration, not indeed, to depress my colleagues who are members of the House at the prospect of an appeal to the people or the prospect of adjourning to the country, but simply to give the House an idea of how much reliance can be placed upon this assurance given by the Taoiseach in regard to the proximity of the next election. It could come tomorrow; it could come next month. The Taoiseach would be the one person who could come in here and make you all believe that it was inevitable and that it was in the national interest. It might conceivably come, too, because it seems to me that a Government cannot for all time resist the pressure of public opinion and, without question, public opinion is mobilising fast against the present administration.

I tried often—a voice alone—to express here, for what they are, all the pretences in which the Fianna Fáil Party indulged in the last election and since, and indeed over the years, in regard to their programmes for economic expansion. These programmes are a collection of thoughts set down more or less at random. They are a piece of wishful thinking. They are a sort of novel written in Civil Service English styled the First and Second Programme for Economic Expansion. They are trying to create the idea that, in the Government, there is this mighty machine of intellect which has been bent to this task of producing this great plan that will solve everything.

I would say, and I think any honest Deputy will agree with me in his mind —I do not expect that the Fianna Fáil members will openly say it—that the number of Deputies who have read or even opened either of these Programmes—I will not go so far as to say who have opened the envelopes in which they came but who have opened the first page—could be counted on the fingers of one hand, and that is the truth. I do not think that either [613] of these documents is in the best seller list of the Government Publications Sales Office. I must make an inquiry as to how many of the public, in fact, did bother to read either of these documents. I would say a handful of people, if any at all. We had Deputy Burke referring to it. I do not want to be unkind to Deputy Burke, goodness knows, because, in spite of our political differences, we do our best to represent a very widespread and varied constituency but, at the same time, we have heard him talking about the Second Programme for Economic Expansion. I should like to hear Deputy Burke at length on the Second Programme. I should like to hear him dilate, in detail and in depth, as we say, on the various provisions of the Second Programme and on how it affects the lives of the ordinary people.

Is it seriously contended by anybody on the Government side of the House that, by writing down a set of semi-intelligible phrases in a book, you will get workers to work one little bit harder, five minutes more, or increase the national product by even a fraction of one per cent? Anybody who believes that is a fool. He is living in a euphoria created by all these moryah institutes around us. There are degrees for making parcels, as I mentioned before: this kind of nonsense. I have in mind the whole apparatus, the colossal superstructure of people who sow not and neither do they reap but who seem to live extraordinarily well, seldom outside the boundaries of lounge bars and the very expensive lounge bars at that. I have in mind a whole caucus of parasites to whom this kind of language is music in the ears and who contribute nothing whatsoever to the wealth or the improvement of the country. Rather do they live upon the work, the labour and the toil of many hundreds and thousands of honest working people in various sections of society. The Second Programme is obviously designed for their ears. It has no meaning whatsoever for the ordinary people. It has been played down a lot, of course, in the light of recent events and in the light of the general trend towards economic depression.

[614] The Government are still casting about for a scapegoat for this economic depression. They have not come up yet with a valid one. When the inter-Party Government were in office, and when the international situation brought about difficulties here, those who constitute the Fianna Fáil Party leaped into the gap like ravening wolves to attack the Government of that day and to lay the blame for everything that went wrong at the doorstep of that Government. There was no suggestion that the fault lay anywhere else but at the doorstep of the inter-Party Government. But now, of course, things are different. The Fianna Fáil Party are in power and anything that has happened is not their fault: it is the fault of some thing outside their control.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan An act of God.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne An act of God. Fianna Fáil would have us believe that an ungrateful people do not seem willing to acknowledge the favour being done them by this magnificent administration who could, as we all know, be occupying jobs outside this House earning four times and five times what they are now getting and who are sacrificing their business interests and working a 12- and 14-hour day with, God knows, hardly a Sunday off, in order to serve the people. This ungrateful nation expresses dissatisfaction with these heroes. It must be a dreadful thing and it must, at times, be a near thing with many Members of the Government as to whether they will resign and get out of the whole business. And do we not all know that the day that happens there will be white blackbirds?

Mr. Allen: Information on Lorcan Allen Zoom on Lorcan Allen Did you ever see a white blackbird?

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne I saw some queer hawks in this House and some magpies like the Deputy. The Minister for Finance is a man with a Budget for all occasions. This is a mid-summer Budget. We have had a spring Budget and the Taoiseach did not rule out, in the course of his remarks, the possibility of an autumn Budget. He [615] was leaving himself room to somersault from the position he is now in and we may have, before Christmas, an autumn or winter Budget. Perhaps we are now going to set a new pattern and have a Budget for every season.

Now I want to talk about the cost of living as it affects my constituents. I have here copies of the results of a survey carried out in an area well known to Deputy Dowling and it is not my fault if it is not well known to every other Member of the House. In case anyone is in doubt, it is Ballyfermot, the largest working class district in Ireland. If an usher were in the House, I would ask him to facilitate me by handing around copies of this examination, but, as it is, I will ask my colleague, Deputy Coughlan, to hand it around so that Deputies can follow what I am talking about. I am sure the Chair will grant permission.

Acting Chairman: I see no objection.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan The Minister will not accept it. He does not recognise the court.

Mr. Hilliard: Information on Michael Hilliard Zoom on Michael Hilliard This is a disgraceful procedure.

Acting Chairman: I wonder would the Deputy be kind enough to give one to the Chair?

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Certainly, Sir. The title of this document is “The Cost of Living” and the introduction is:

Some facts of minimum expenditure of a Dublin family consisting of man, wife and three young children. They live in a corporation dwelling. The figures are conservative.

I want to emphasise that the figures are conservative and anyone who knows anything about urban costs will know that they are conservative. They are very reliable and there is no element of exaggeration. I invite anyone who wishes to check them and I will invite the observations of Dublin Deputies on them.

I suggest that the average wage of a man working in this city is £12 per [616] week. With three young children, he would be entitled to children's allowances of £2 12s per month, giving him a weekly average income of £12 13s. I suggest that is about the average income of the ordinary Dublin workingclass family. There are many far below that. In Deputy Davern's constituency, there must be thousands far below that amount. I refer to road and agricultural workers, and even small farmers. Perhaps in some other areas there are other types of workers who would be receiving something more but the general body of workers in the city and county will have an average weekly income of about that amount.

Such a family would be paying rent at the rate of £2 per week; the actual figure is 39/11d per week. Such a family would surely use two loaves of bread per day and the weekly bill for that would be £1 1s. It would not be unreasonable to say that they would need at least four pounds of butter per week. People with whom I have discussed this, and I have discussed it with members of the Fianna Fáil Party outside this House, say that they would use much more than four pounds per week, but that would cost them £1 per week. For milk, three bottles a day and four on Sunday, the bill would be 12/10d per week. A pound of tea, very cheap tea, would cost 6/- per week. I know I can make no impression on the legionaries but I hope to make some impression on the younger elements.

Mr. Davern: Information on Donal Davern Zoom on Donal Davern Unfortunately, you are not making a good one tonight.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne You are only saying that because you know there is a vacancy in the Cabinet.

Mr. Davern: Information on Donal Davern Zoom on Donal Davern I am saying that because of the circus into which you have turned this House.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne You have obviously never been to a circus. Life must be very dull down there. I merely facilitated the House by having my colleague, Deputy Coughlan, circulate this document, which is an examination of the living costs of an average Dublin workingclass household, and the Deputy now describes it as a circus.

[617]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin I would point out to Deputy Dunne that his action was most irregular.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne The Chair allowed it: The Leas-Cheann Comhairle knows that I am not one to disregard the instructions of the Chair. In fact, the Chair sought a copy of the document when it was distributed. What is wrong with this in a democratic assembly? Do I discern here more of the authoritarian attitude of mind of the Fianna Fáil Party which would seek to stamp out any information, written or verbal, which would enlighten the public as to the facts?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin There are certain rules of procedure in the House. The Deputy should have sought the permission of the Chair.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne The Chair was quite agreeable, apparently, to the action I took.

Mr. Allen: Information on Lorcan Allen Zoom on Lorcan Allen You did not ask the Chair.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish The Chair agreed it could be circulated. Are you ashamed of these figures?

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne This is not a subversive document. It does not incite you to resign.

Mr. Allen: Information on Lorcan Allen Zoom on Lorcan Allen You are a happy man there is no general election until 1970.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne I dealt with the reliability of that assurance, which is nil.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Perhaps Deputy Dunne might be allowed to make his speech.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Sugar—such a family of five, we can reasonably say, would use six pounds of sugar per week which would mean an expenditure of five shillings. I am erring here on the side of conservatism, if you like. I want it to be clearly understood that this is not a propagandist compilation; it is a factual statement with the emphasis on economy. You will find very few people who can live at [618] this level. Meat—if we estimate that this family spend 4/- a day on meat with 12/- for the Sunday joint, it makes an expenditure of £1 16s per week on meat, which everybody knows is a ridiculously low figure. Eggs are bought now because they are cheaper than they usually are. They are 3/6 per dozen in some cases. We get 7/- per week for eggs. For potatoes, the outlay on a quarter stone a day would be 10/-. Other vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, etc., we estimate to come to 10/- a week. Electricity, that is, light —I do not know how you could count the cost of the power to a television set, if there was one. A sum of 3/- per week would not be exorbitant as an estimate for the cost of electricity. I know I find electricity is infinitely dearer than this. Again I am being conservative. Gas for cooking, 8/- a week. We take coal at one bag per week. Most people even during summertime like a fire. One bag a week is very low. Surely Deputy Dowling will agree with that? It is really living on hard times. Bus fares for a person living in Ballyfermot working in the city usually mean taking two buses. The fare now, by the beneficence of the great man whom we are told did so much for the country and has been so ill rewarded for it, we take as 3/-a day. That will be accepted as a low average. It gives us 15/- a week. Funeral insurance, which is very common among our people, we put at 4/-, which is also low. Hire purchase on pram and furniture we put at 5/-.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling He should have the pram bought. It is taking him a long time.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Deputy Dowling poses as being a representative of part of the area. I should like to hear his view of this so that the people living in the area will be able to judge what his attitude will be on these matters. Take the general question of soaps, detergents, polish, brasso and take 10/- as a figure for the estimation of the cost. Clothing—again I underestimate by putting down 15/- a week. That gives something like £40 a year. It assumes the man of the house getting a suit every second year. [619] When you think of the clothing of the children and the wife, I believe it will be accepted as a pretty reasonable estimate. Again I err on the side of conservatism. I put down 15 cigarettes a day. Everybody knows the use of such a number of cigarettes is unusual. It is a very low estimate. A smoker would smoke very much more.

I said at the outset that the income, including the children's allowances average, would be £12 13s per week. The total of that outlay makes £13 8s 8d. That is about 15/8 not covered there. I have not included in this television. Some people may think television is too good for the workers to have. I know there are people in this House who would take it off them if they could because it is a luxury. In fact you are going a good way about taxing it to make it more expensive on the worker. The hire purchase sale of television is very much of a racket. Most people have it. Dublin workers like to have television. No matter how much certain Deputies might dislike it, they will continue to have television.

The cost of school books is not included. That is a very expensive item. Some Deputies may be in a better position to detail that than I am. Repairs to footwear—this is almost a weekly business with any working-class householder. The cost is something I leave to the imagination. Chemists' sundries, newspapers, children's sweets, household requirements in sauces and salt are all not included. I have not included either wage deductions for social welfare insurance or superannuation payments or payments for medicaments. I have not included anything for the pint: I am assuming this man is practically a teetotaller. His sole vice is 15 cigarettes a day.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling He is not a trade unionist either. You have not allowed anything for his union contribution.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne I have left that out intentionally because it would offend the susceptibilities of some of you anti-trade unionists over there, who [620] may think it is not a proper deduction or that they are compelled to pay it. I have left it out to avoid contention.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling A political levy.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Without taking into account the cost of television, school books, repairs to footwear, chemists' sundries, the little things one gives to children, the requirements of table sauces and salts, without taking into account wage deductions for social welfare insurance, superannuation payments, medical expenses or the cost of the simple pint, which heaven knows is out of the reach of the workers——

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan And laundries.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Laundries are for other sections of the community, not for the working people. They cannot afford them. However, leaving those things out of it all, these figures, which any honest man must agree are conservative figures, show the people are in debt. In that situation we had the Minister coming along with a proposal which must mean an increase in the cost of living and must mean the plunging of the people into further debt by no action of their own. This proposal to treble the turnover tax at the wholesale level is bound to show itself in retail prices. Workers who go in to buy things at retail prices must surely take some action to protect their interests. The logical upshot of this will be further wage demands which lead to further price increases, which lead to inflation and to a situation even worse, if it is possible to conceive it, than the one we are now in.

Make no mistake about it, the reason we are in this present economic situation is inflation and the first step in the direction of disaster was taken by the Fianna Fáil Government in 1963 when they brought in the turnover tax. It was a tax which went on every item required by people to live. It affected the whole life of the community in every detail. It appeared small and even I, at the time that it was introduced, though I was critical of it, could not conceive that it would have the awful economic effects it did have. It provoked wage demands [621] because the workers had to be compensated for the increase in the cost of living and it provoked increased prices and profiteering which led to the inflationary situation in which we now exist and in which money is daily losing its purchasing power.

It is axiomatic that if you go into any shop with a pound note to buy something, you will be lucky if you come out with anything left. They are talking about the £ in England but the Irish £ has gone for its tea long ago, as far as we can observe. I do not think any of my remarks will sap confidence in it. I do not think it could be snapped any further in its present condition. We will be like Germany shortly after the war, carrying notes around in attaché cases to get a cup of coffee. That is the way things are moving, no matter how the Taoiseach may mount his defensive attack on the Opposition and invite them to provide readymade solutions for the mess which he has created. The mess is the fault of this Government and there is no question about it. This whole trend was initiated in the first instance by the turnover tax and everything followed therefrom. I am reminded of the judges and the Civil Service, the privileged classes. In the teeth of the fact that workers in this city are not able to live on the wages they are being paid and not being given a chance to live by the Government, in the light of the cost of living, we have the extraordinary spectacle of a public servant being given £8,000 and a pension of £65 a week.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan £67.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne £65 or £67; what is the difference? It is over £60 a week, and it is as if to torment and taunt those who are suffering, the pensioner classes and the ordinary people. I am not concerned with the personality of this public servant. I am talking about the action of this Government in doing this at a time like this. It was the most irresponsible and ridiculous action that has been seen for many a long day. When people are feeling the pinch in every direction and, as it were, groaning under the pressure of [622] our economic ills, they come along in the most cavalier fashion and shovel out money to one person to whom they give another job on top of it all, undoubtedly at the miserable fee of £1,000 a year.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan Cromwell would not have done it.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne There are a lot of things Cromwell might have done with benefit to this country. However, he did not and he has been gone a while. We have to deal with the Pretenders of today.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe Zoom on Ben Briscoe Deputy Dunne, as usual, is very constructive.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan Is he taunting you?

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe Zoom on Ben Briscoe Not at all; he is very constructive.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Deputy Dunne.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne As I said here on previous occasions, there are various definitions of what is constructive and what is destructive. The Fianna Fáil definition, which is not Tone's definition, is “anything you say over there is destructive, when we are over here, and if we are over there in your place and you are doing anything, anything we say is constructive.” That mentality shows itself very clearly. I suggest that the Members supporting the Government are going to have an opportunity, if they survive the next election, whenever it comes—and let me be the first to assure them that I do not seek an appeal to the country with any greater fervour than they do because of the trouble it causes me—of being over here. I am certain that they will be on this side of the House and they will have every opportunity to think up constructive suggestions.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe Zoom on Ben Briscoe You have been swallowed up already and you do not know it.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish You said that before the last election and the election before that.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan Where did the [623] 110,000 Presidential election votes go? That is what we want to know.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Leave the young lad alone. Give him a soother and he will be all right. However, it is sad. I was looking forward to some of the younger Members on the opposite side having a fairly lengthy political career. It might have been but you had no control over your Front Bench. However, it has been said that the young men supporting the Government can make very much more money outside this House. Mention was made here of the availability of directorships to members of the Government if they chose to resign, and of the sacrifices they are making in carrying this country—the ones we hear about, the fairy tales of Ireland.

Deputy Burke, my esteemed and learned colleague from County Dublin, in the course of a few erudite remarks earlier, spoke of the industrial situation and industrial unrest. Indeed the Minister mentioned it also and so did the Taoiseach today. A definite effort has been made by Government leaders to put, as it were, the workers on the spot and to try by implication to put the blame for our present position on the workers, the suggestion being—not stated specifically but left in the air for the people to accept, just as if it were stated—that because of the strikes which were or are in progress, the buoyancy of the revenue is affected. There is, undoubtedly, and there has been, industrial unrest but surely it is not seriously contended that this has been so widespread as to impair the buoyancy of the revenue? I do not imagine that could be argued validly at all because the number of people involved in these disputes has been relatively small when you think in terms of the total number in employment.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton There are not so many in employment.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne I know there are not, but still the number of people involved in disputes is only a very small fraction of those employed. How can [624] you blame that small group for a deterioration in the buoyancy of the revenue? I think this is just reaching out in the dark for an excuse for the Government's ineptitude and failure. It is fashionable now to blame workers for anything that goes wrong, so much so that the Government were able to put through the House last week the most reactionary piece of anti-trade union legislation that has ever been produced here in the history of the State, and not only put it through but get support for it from trade union members of their own Party. The fad is to attack workers now.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore Zoom on Seán Moore Talk sense. The Deputy is being silly.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne I am not being silly. It is true. The workers are being attacked.


Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne An effort is being made to make workers the scapegoat of the economy. They are not working hard enough; they are seeking too much money, and if only the unions would discipline them—that is the word, “discipline”—everything would be all right as if unions were formed to prop up the Fianna Fáil Government. The trade union movement existed in this country before any such concept as Fianna Fáil entered the brain of any individual.

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy Hear, hear. The Labour Party was there long before it.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne And it will be there when nobody remembers Fianna Fáil.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan They will remember Tod Andrews with £67 a week pension.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne The function of the trade union movement is not to rush to the aid of the Taoiseach of the Government and “in his battles take part”.

We are living in very strange times. Some two years ago, the Taoiseach spoke of the need to go left, while at the same time pressing on with the utmost expedition in the opposite direction, as evidenced last week by his piece of [625] anti-trade union legislation. We have seen the farmers—with the Taoiseach talking of going left—calling for solidarity with their placards and my colleagues on this side of the House will forgive me if I express some amusement at seeing in the papers last evening a comment on Fine Gael “militancy.” They have now become militant.


Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne There is talk about solidarity and militancy and going left. Perhaps this trend, along with the lifts, will bring about the fusion of the two major Parties which the country so ardently desires——

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy Zoom on Robert Molloy Your Party fused them on two occasions.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne We did, last week. I am discussing the fusion of the two main Parties——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin I do not see how a debate on the fusion of the Parties is relevant.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne I shall turn away from it on your direction, with the comment that it is as inevitable as tomorrow's sunrise. We all know that.

I want to examine the Government's failure in the matter of housing, and specifically in regard to housing in Dublin city. At present it is estimated that there are in this city about 7,000 homeless families living in various conditions of overcrowding. Perhaps the most difficult conditions are those which obtain where families are living as sub-tenants in corporation houses with their in-laws, shall we say. Any member of Dublin Corporation or of any local authority will agree that it is out of that kind of situation that all kinds of problems develop which bear upon human relations, which are fundamental and which need urgent attention.

What have we seen in Dublin? The Minister for Local Government—I suppose the Minister acted on the Cabinet's instructions—early last year said that he was going to take a hand in the Dublin housing problem. Considerable efforts have been [626] made in the House by myself and several others to get something done about the appalling conditions of homeless families in the city with whom we are in contact every week, sub-tenants particularly. I and some members of Fianna Fáil and some members of Fine Gael perhaps find this is a problem with which we have to live and which exasperates and did exasperate us because of the lack of effort on the part of the Government in regard to it.

The Minister last year said that he was charging the National Building Agency with the building of houses at Ballymun outside the city and we were assured there would be houses available for tenancy last August. We were given that assurance by responsible officials of Dublin Corporation and in turn, we went out and told people seeking houses, on the strength of this assurance, that there would be a hope of them getting houses by last August. As yet there has not been a single family housed in Ballymun one year and a half later, although this so-called building agency was alleged to be about to tackle the problem with a vigour and energy which could come only from the youngest Cabinet in Europe. The only youngest thing in Europe that we have is the Seanad but as far as the Cabinet are concerned, whatever their respective ages, their performance is no credit.

Here we are with thousands living as sub-tenants in Corporation houses and many more thousands living in varying conditions of overcrowding, in single rooms and two rooms, in what might be called near-tenement conditions. There is a complete failure on the part of the Government to have completed a simple housing scheme in respect of which an ordinary building contractor would be run out of the country if he had not got it finished long ago. It is not yet completed one and a half years after being started, although all the powers necessary were given to the building agency which, as far as I can see, is peopled by political henchmen of the Government. We have not got a single house for any one of these families. It is a scandal and a shame. That is at the bottom of a lot of [627] our trouble. In addition to the turnover tax, there is at the bottom of a lot of our trouble the inefficiency generated by nepotism. If you do not put into a job a man who can do that job properly, you will be in trouble.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling There are 100 houses ready for occupation.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton It is taking them a long time to produce them.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Does Deputy Dowling deny what I am saying?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling They are ready for occupation.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Has there been a single family housed?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling Not a family, but they are ready for occupation.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan Tell us about the sub-tenants. Will we get a subsidy for sub-tenants?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin That does not arise on the Finance Bill.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan I am speaking of sub-tenants and subsidies.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne I am speaking Deputy Dowling's mind. I know he has to take a certain attitude because he belongs to that Party but, in fact, he knows that what I am saying is true. It is a damn shame and a scandal the way that matter has been neglected.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin These matters would be relevant to the Estimate but they are certainly not relevant to the Finance Bill in the detail into which the Deputy is going.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish Deputy Dowling will not resign, as Deputy Cunningham did.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne He cannot deny that the National Building Agency is not doing its job. I maintain that housing as such can be related to the cost of living because people who have to seek housing accommodation today [628] have to pay extraordinarily high rents for such accommodation and the cost of living is affected by the proposals in the Resolution and the amendments to the Finance Bill which we have before us.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin I cannot see how the Deputy can discuss the question of rents on the Finance Bill. These details are appropriate to the Estimate.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne I would suggest that they are relevant in so far as rents and housing revenue generally are related to the capital provisions in this mini-Budget. Surely some of the money hereby being provided must be going towards housing? I think there is relevance, with due respect, and I would ask you to consider the fact that the need of some 7,000 families for housing is not a mere detail. It is a matter of urgent importance.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin It would be a matter for another Minister and an Estimate.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): On a point of order, I understand that this is a general Budget discussion on Resolution No. 3 and not a discussion on the Finance Bill. Am I correct in that?

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy That is what the Taoiseach said.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): That is what was arranged yesterday evening.

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy That is what the Taoiseach said yesterday.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin This is a Budget debate, confined to taxation, Government expenditure and financial policy.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne The question of bus fares must, surely, be relevant in this discussion?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin No.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Surely, it must be? Are we not discussing matters related [629] to the increase in the price of petrol, for instance?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin As I pointed out, the debate is confined to taxation and financial policy.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne The effect of taxation will surely be, as we have seen, to increase bus fares.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin If that were in order, then everything under the sun could be discussed.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne It would be, if people could think. They cannot think at the moment. The reason why everything under the sun that is relevant is not discussed is that people just do not think of all the relevant details.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin The Deputy is in order in mentioning these things in passing but the details are matters for the Estimate.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne I may mention the price of petrol. We have already had the enormity of another increase in bus fares. I have received letters from all over the country about this. The effects of the increase in taxation on petrol, I fear, will be further to increase bus fares. That is one of the reasons why I am opposed to this proposal. I have had letters from constituents of mine in Balbriggan who tell me that, whereas, formerly, schoolchildren going from Balbriggan to Balrothery had to pay 3d, they now have to pay a penny more, and in one instance a single fare has gone up to 9d which, in the cases of families with four or five schoolgoing children, represents a very serious problem.

I have a letter from an old age pensioner who feels the effect of the increase already imposed, apart from the danger of an increase that may follow the proposals now before us. I have numerous other letters which you say I would not be in order in reciting here. I do, however, want to avail of this opportunity, which is the first I have had, of registering a protest against the callous disregard of the old age pensioner in particular and of the schoolchildren and, indeed, all [630] users of buses, by CIE in inflicting increased fares on the country generally. Of course, there was some preference given to farmers. That would not be surprising because, anything that is in it, the farmers are getting.

Mr. J. Gibbons: Information on James M. Gibbons Zoom on James M. Gibbons The Labour Party do not like that.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne We like to get our share.

Mr. J. Gibbons: Information on James M. Gibbons Zoom on James M. Gibbons You are against the farmers.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne We do not begrudge the farmers. We want our share for the workers. I would say our work in this House has been instrumental in improving the conditions of many farmers which would be far worse, were it not for the presence of the Labour Party.

Mr. J. Gibbons: Information on James M. Gibbons Zoom on James M. Gibbons It is a pity the Chair will not allow the Deputy to elaborate on that.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne The time may not be appropriate now but I shall do it at the first available opportunity. I have here some facts and figures in which the Parliamentary Secretary will be interested. I want to turn to the position of the licensed trade, presided over by a very excellent Deputy, Deputy Thomas Fitzpatrick. I told the Deputy I should be mentioning him. He is a very amiable and efficient young man, and a very cheerful young man, not trammelled too much by political ties, a man who will not be gagged too easily. Possibly he does not see any even remote danger of a Cabinet post as yet and he feels free, therefore, far freer than some of his colleagues, to express his real opinions about the condition of the country.

There has been a tendency in Fianna Fáil pastoral to proclaim that this country was never in such a plight as it was during the period in office of the inter-Party Government. In fact, before the inter-Party Government was formed—Deputy P.J. Burke was allowed to refer to the election of 1948 in the course of his remarks and I now want to make a passing reference—we [631] had the then leader of the Fianna Fáil Party saying that, if Fianna Fáil were not returned to power in 1948, the country was doomed, finished. If any Fianna Fáil Deputy wishes to get, as it were, a figure of comparison of the wretchedness and of the low ebb to which things had sunk, may I say that that comparison can be made by reference to the journal published by the licensed vintners and grocers, a body presided over by Deputy Fitzpatrick?

Mr. T. Fitzpatrick: Information on Tom J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Tom J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin): What date?

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne The current issue. The Deputy has not read it, I suppose, in common with the rest of the stuff he gets. It is May, 1966.

The picture is grim for the trade, says Chairman in the AGM Report

—whatever the AGM Report is. In black it says:

Past 12 months will go down in history.

These are the words of Deputy Fitzpatrick:

The past 12 months will go down in the history of the licensed trade as a period of adverse fortune in which the trade has suffered a severe setback which might well bear comparison with that black and dismal depression which the trade underwent after the 1952 Budget when it was brought to the verge of bankruptcy.

He is taking, as I say, the condition of wretchedness in 1952, when the inter-Party Government were in power——

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins That was a Fianna Fáil Budget.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Worse again, or better again, depending on how you look at it. I am glad the Deputy corrected me. That was the day of the Iron Chancellor who slashed the food subsidies. I was under a misapprehension. As bad as that time, Deputy Fitzpatrick says:

The present time might well bear comparison with the black and [632] dismal depression that the trade underwent after the 1952 Budget when it was brought to the verge of bankruptcy. So declared Mr. T. Fitzpatrick, TD, Chairman, in the course of his report at the Annual General Meeting of the Licensed Vintners and Grocers Association this month.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): While the document that is being read might well do justice to me, I think we had better have the record right and say that the Deputy in question is Deputy Fitzpatrick, Dublin South Central.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan Where is he—the Chairman of the Licensed Vintners and Grocers Association?


Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Down in the forest something stirred.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy Zoom on Robert Molloy Read the whole of it.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne It was only the sound of a Fianna Fáil bird.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin The Deputy will not be permitted to read a long quotation. Long quotations are out of order. The Deputy is entitled to read excerpts.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne I should like that ruling again. Quotations are out of order but excerpts are all right.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin I said the Deputy would not be allowed to give the article in full because long quotations are out of order.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne I am sorry; I cannot do as Deputy Molloy asks.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan We are going through a famine period now in the licensed trade.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins I take it it is in order to give several short quotations?

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne I have a great respect for Deputy Fitzpatrick. He is doing a job for an awkward lot of customers in his organisation.

[633]Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan But not after hours.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne I can say that with an easy mind. Deputy Fitzpatrick says the picture is grim and the immediate future prospects are discouraging and uncertain. That is the view of the responsible chairman of the licensed trade in so far as the economic situation is concerned. There is nobody but must agree that the responsibility for this situation rests on the Government. The recent Presidential election—let us face it—was not so much a test as to who would live in the Viceregal Lodge, because really the people are too bothered to worry about that particular aspect and it does not matter very much to the people who takes up residence there, but the Presidential election was seized upon, I would say, by the people to register against the Government a protest vote for the manner in which it has been doing its job. It was only by a short head that the old gentleman made the Park at all——

An Leas-Cheann Chomhairle: The Deputy may not discuss the Presidential election on the Finance Bill.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne I am sorry. The point I am trying to make—I admit I am not making it very effectively—is that it is time this Government cleared out. I am certain, of course, they will not do that. They will hang on to office as long as they possibly can. As I said earlier, there are compensations. I am not one of those who like the gallop to the countryside. I have done my share of it. It is not an inviting prospect at any time, but there does come a time when even Deputy Burke's national interest must supersede all other considerations. This is such a time. I think the people feel the country would be better served by another form of administration. What form that will take is a matter the country will have to decide.

However, it is perfectly obvious to anybody who looks upon it with an impartial mind that if this Government put it to the hazard at the present time, they would be soundly defeated, would lose many seats, and would never return to power. Remember, [634] the Government, since the departure of their former Leader, have never had an effective majority. On their return to power on one occasion, their former Leader dragged a lot of them in on his coat-tails, but he is no longer there. Now it is performance that counts, and on performance alone, the Government must be found wanting in the judgement of the people. As evidence of that, I merely remark in passing they nearly did what was considered by most political observers to be impossible the other week, they nearly unseated the old gentleman in the Park. In other words, they nearly lost with Arkle, a difficult feat, but Fianna Fáil nearly managed it, and he won in spite of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

I have a duty to my constituents to express here our dissatisfaction with the progress of events. As I said earlier, I consider it despicable on the part of the Taoiseach to have attacked here the political correspondents of the newspapers. I have never seen the political correspondents of the newspapers, who are not in any position to defend themselves in this House, being wilfully unfair to any member of the House. We have seen here this afternoon the Taoiseach, in a fit of petulance—it is the first time I have seen him do it, and use a vulgar expression in the process of so doing—vent his spleen upon the political correspondents, which is unworthy of a man in his position. He fell in my estimation, because I always felt he was a man who would not indulge in that kind of thing. For a moment we saw, as clear as crystal, the authoritarian mind: “Nobody dare criticise me or even say the slightest thing by way of criticism, or suggest that anything I do is not saintly and infallible.”

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan We had it from the Minister for Health yesterday.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne The Minister for Health is a much younger man, and he comes from a part of the country where men are not noted for their placidity of temperament.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan It is easy to pique them.

[635]Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne I wish to conclude on this note. I have never assumed the power of prophecy and I do not intend to assume it now. However, I will take a bet that whenever the next election comes, the return of Fianna Fáil to this House will present a sight as attenuated as Napoleon's retreat from Smolensk.

Mr. Barrett: Sir, you have ruled already that the Presidential election does not come within the ambit of this debate, but I think what has transpired here in the past two days and what has transpired since polling took place in the Presidential election explains some of the more mysterious aspects which attach themselves to the election in question. There was no doubt, when it started under the auspices of Fianna Fáil at their Árd Fheis, that it was going to be a political election, and the Taoiseach said: “Let there be fight”, and there was fight, much to the horror of the Taoiseach, who expected at this stage that there would be no political opposition to the Fianna Fáil candidate. When the campaign commenced in earnest, it was announced by the Taoiseach and by other Ministers of the Government that this was not a political election and they would not enter into any discussion of political matters up or down the country.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin The Deputy started off by saying discussion of the Presidential election was ruled out of order, but the Deputy continues to discuss it.

Mr. Barrett: Then I shall not do so.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins On a point of order, surely it is in order for a Deputy to discuss statements made by Government spokesmen in the past month, whether made from election platforms or in the House?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin The manner in which the Presidential election was fought is not relevant to the Financial Resolution.

Mr. Barrett: I shall not refer to the Presidential election.

[636]Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins On a point of order, there has been a discussion in the course of this debate on public pronouncements by Government spokesmen, whether from platforms or not, and I would ask for a definite ruling as to whether the Chair is now saying that they may not be discussed in the course of this debate.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Public pronouncements on the question of taxation and financial policy, yes.

Mr. Barrett: That is what I intend to discuss and I shall not mention the Presidential election at all. I am saying that on occasions when Ministers of State, led by the Taoiseach, appeared on public platforms, when they could have referred to the future policy of the Government and when the future policy of the Government was being assailed from Fine Gael platforms, not once did the Taoiseach or any of his Ministers reply, on the basis that it was not a political occasion. We now see plainly, from what has transpired since, why Government spokesmen did not open their mouths before a certain event which we may not discuss in relation to this debate, because if they did open their mouths and spoke the truth, they would have to give such information to the Irish people as, from the Fianna Fáil point of view, would have made things more difficult in regard to the event which we may not discuss. All a Government spokesman could have told us was that butter was going up 3d in the lb, that fertilisers were going up, that bus fares were going up, that the pint was going up, without any assistance from the Minister for Finance. Then the Minister for Finance tells us here yesterday that in addition to those increases, cigarettes, tobacco and petrol are going up, that in October motor cars, television sets, washing machines and various other commodities of that nature, are going up.

I do not know if the Government speakers on the occasion to which I am referring could have divulged their intentions even if they had decided to speak along political lines. It seems plain to me and to the country [637] in general that the Government are not quite sure what their policy is to be and that their policy is a makeshift sort of thing. It is in the position that their right hand does not know what their left hand is doing, that the Minister for Finance on Monday does not know what the Minister for Finance on Tuesday is going to do.

Typical of that is the fact that on March 9th last the Minister for Finance introduced a very hard Budget into the House, placing very greater burdens on the backs of the Irish people. At the time the Minister said he might have to come back in the autumn, if certain eventualities occurred. That evidently was the intention of the Government at the time and that evidently was the advice the Government got. Ten weeks after that, the Minister comes in and introduces yesterday what has been described as a mini-budget.

In the course of his speech on 9th March last, when he introduced his major Budget here, the Minister admitted that his Budget was then being introduced very early as a part of deliberate Government policy in order to strengthen the financial position of the country—a Budget brought in on 9th March to strengthen the financial position of the country. What happens? On 14th June, the Government had to come back here again looking for more money. Is that a vindication of the Minister's claim of 9th March that his action in introducing an early Budget would strengthen the financial position of this country? The fact, of course, is that we have not strengthened the financial position of the country. Every brass farthing the Government ever had is gone and every private purse must be raided again in a desperate effort to stave off the effects of Fianna Fáil mismanagement.

Remember, too, that the Government said here on 9th March last that the giving was over and that the taking would have to commence. The taking commenced on 9th March last but we did not think they would be back in June to take still more from the people, nor did the people think so either nor, indeed, did they think so on a certain recent political occasion which cannot [638] be referred to here. What sort of giving and to whom was the money given? That is what we have been crying out about from this side of the House for many years. It became almost a joke of this House when Deputy Dillon stood up and said he was making his 17th speech on the same subject, warning the Government that, if they continued as they were going, the country's fabric could not stand it; appealing to the Government, in God's name, to introduce, in dealing with the country, the ordinary prudence the ordinary housekeeper would introduce into the management of his or her household. But no, the giving at that stage was not over; the giving was in full swing— improvident giving, in some cases wildly improvident giving of a luxury type.

The Government did not introduce into the giving the ordinary element of foresight one would expect from any third-rate business man. There was a lack of foresight in everything the Government did. If the Minister for Finance were present just now, he would realise, as a lawyer, that that lack of foresight constituted negligence. There was a sort of ersatz prosperity about this country which was sharing the backlash of the prosperity sweeping over Europe in 1963 and 1964. Fianna Fáil gathered unto themselves the aura of that prosperity and said, in effect: “Look at what we have done for you. There is some money. Let us see how we shall spend it and let us see to whom we shall give it”. To what did they devote the money? Deputies were quite recently introduced to a new block of offices for the political Parties involving an expenditure of something like £500,000. Half a million pounds was spent on bricks and mortar for the political Parties at a time when, in Dublin city, in Cork city and elsewhere, people are living in absolutely intolerable conditions.

I appeal to Deputies on the other side of the House, as well as to Deputies on this side, to tell me if there was anything wrong with the quarters we occupied prior to being introduced to the richly-carpeted office block we now inhabit? Was it rat infested? Did [639] it leak? Did it let in the wind and the rain? It was quite a comfortable office block. If the Government had half a million pounds to spend on bricks and mortar, I submit that that money should have been spent on housing the husbands and wives and families in Cork city, in Dublin and in various other constituencies, who badly need it.

Whilst that money was being spent, other money was being given out; the giving was in full swing. Various legislation, including a Funds of Suitors Bill, was introduced to give £135,000 to Cork Opera House at a time when there was a grave shortage of various essential building in the city of Cork. I understand that, even at this stage, when the people are crying out for adequate accommodation, another Funds of Suitors Bill is shortly to be introduced in this House to give a large sum of money to the Abbey Theatre. Let nobody say that I am against the arts or that I think cultural pursuits of that nature should not be encouraged. I am saying to the Government, for heaven's sake, to get their priorities right and not to put playhouses before the homes of growing families.

The most consistent fault that we on this side of the House have found with this Government since they came back to office in 1957 is that their priorities have been completely mixed up. Money has been available for factories of very questionable value to this country. Money has been spent needlessly by semi-State bodies. We had the spectacle of CIE spending large sums of money to put commemoration plaques on the front of buses. We had the spectacle of CIE spending large sums of money on changing the destinations on the front of their buses from English into Irish. That was happening at a time when the country had not a bob to spare. Is that the proper approach to our national problems? We have no objection to these things being done if we have the money, but if we have not the money, then, in heaven's name, let us stop showing all the symptoms of suffering from delusions of grandeur. Stop providing blocks of buildings for the political Parties. Stop spending money on [640] questionable factories and industries until we have got rid of the matters which have prior claim on us, both as Irishmen and as Christians.

One of the big difficulties, of course, about factories of the nature I have mentioned is that they must still get grants and loans or otherwise the whole Fianna Fáil house of cards will collapse around their heads with mammoth unemployment. This mini-Budget has been remarkable not alone for what it has done but for what it has not done. On 9th March last, when introducing his major Budget the Minister complained that private spending could strain the balance of payments if it arose from credit increases not based on current savings. What had the Minister to say about this yesterday? What adequate steps did the Minister propose to prevent this danger which he saw on 9th March of this year? Absolutely nothing has been done to discourage private spending which the Minister rightly represented on 9th March last as one of the big dangers that face our economy. Far from discouraging private spending, the Minister has given a fillip to it which will be mainly on a credit basis and mainly on luxury goods.

One of the first reactions to Resolution No. 3 in this House yesterday, that is, the expenditure tax, was that a Deputy sitting near me said: “I must buy a new car before 1st October so as to avoid the Minister's extra five per cent.” That instinctive reaction yesterday will be repeated in every home in the country. Anybody who wants any domestic article of any description is bound to rush in and buy it as soon as possible, on credit probably, in order to avoid the Minister's tax. That is the lack of foresight about which I complain in regard to the Minister.

The Government have proved unspeakably mean and underhand in some regards. Here, yesterday, the Minister advanced among other reasons for the Supplementary Budget the fact that the social welfare increases from November next will involve an increased expenditure of about £100,000. About a year before the Minister [641] advanced that excuse yesterday, there was a Parliamentary Question by me to the Minister for Social Welfare which elicited the information that as a result of increased British Government pensions being paid to pensioners residing in Ireland, the Irish Exchequer was going to get a grant of £268,000 from the British Government. The Minister said, and rightly said, that by law he could do nothing about it. But the law is not immutable. The Minister should change the law. That is what we are here for. Any Government with any idea of fair and square dealing with old age pensioners would see that Her Britannic Majesty's Government did not intend to benefit the Irish Exchequer to the extent of £268,000. If there is any equity in any Fianna Fáil heart, I invite them to address themselves to the Minister for Social Welfare and to the Minister for Finance and tell them that it is a gross misrepresentation to say that they had to give £100,000 to social welfare recipients from whom they are diverting £268,000.

The Minister told us on 9th March last that he could not continue the public capital programme without the support of external capital. Since then, we have heard very little about external capital. Apart from saying in his speech yesterday that it would be necessary to borrow £10 million or more, the Minister gave no indication of our success or failure in this field. Surely that is something in respect of which the Irish people should be kept informed? The capital programme is important to every man, woman and child in the country and yet the Minister has deliberately refrained from giving the country any indication of whether we are going to get this money from outside sources.

The Taoiseach has praised his Cabinet as being the youngest Cabinet in Europe. Is it possible that the youngest Cabinet in Europe has so mismanaged our affairs that nobody has now any interest or confidence in us? The Minister for Finance tried to borrow in America and failed. Is it possible that the Minister has tried again and failed? If that is so, the Minister should take us into his confidence. The money has to be got somewhere [642] and is it a fact that the money cannot now be got because of mismanagement of our affairs by the Government? In the petulant and cranky way which he has when he is frightened, the Taoiseach has said that he will give all the backing he can to his Cabinet colleagues. What backing can a man of the Taoiseach's standing give to a Cabinet which has fallen so low in the estimation of the people? Were it not for the personal standing of their candidate in the recent Presidential election, the Fianna Fáil Government would have received the most emphatic defeat that ever a Government received in this country.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry Zoom on Martin John Corry How do you know?

Mr. Barrett: Deputy Corry will find out very quickly because we will not have to wait until mid-June, 1970 for the electorate to lay their hands on the Fianna Fáil Government. The local government elections cannot be postponed that long. I give the Government a léase of life up to the next local government elections. Up to then but not after will the Fianna Fáil Government govern.

When we went out of office in 1957, it might be possible that there was not much money in the kitty but we did leave houses behind us. In our last year of office, 491 houses were built in Cork. Compare that with the miserable number built in Cork city last year —185 houses for the sum of £634,000. Compare our figure of 491 houses with that number and with the number that can be built this year with £310,000, which is all the money the Minister for Finance can make available for his constituency to house his fellow-citizens.

If the Government had a brass farthing to spare, I would expect the Minister to treat his own constituents as generously as possible. He and I represent them here, and if he were here tonight, I would turn 10,000 pairs of reproachful eyes on him and speak to him with 3,000 reproachful tongues. In Cork, 3,000 families need houses. That is the measure of the Government's success or failure, that the Minister for Finance in his own constituency [643] will go down in history as being the man who built fewer houses than ever before in the history of Cork.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry Zoom on Martin John Corry I would like Deputies opposite to realise that in the last general election Fianna Fáil polled 597,000 votes and the Opposition, 655,000, a majority of 58,000 votes against the present Government. In the Presidential election, that 58,000 majority against Fianna Fáil was changed to a majority of 10,000 for them. When people ask me what became of the 110,000 votes that Eamon de Valera lost in the seven years I would like to say that in that election the Fine Gael Party put up a horse but did not back him. They put up Seán MacEoin, an old IRA man and a good man, but that Party have such a hatred of anyone who took part in the Tan War that they would not back him.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan I do not see what that has to do with the question before the House.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry Zoom on Martin John Corry Those questions have been asked from over there.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan This is not relevant to the matter before the House. How Cork voted may be interesting but it is not relevant.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry Zoom on Martin John Corry It is very relevant in this way. We had Deputy Barrett alluding to it a few minutes ago as a reason why the Government should get out.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan Deputy Barrett merely referred to it in passing.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry Zoom on Martin John Corry I am passing also. I just wanted to get those figures clear. The extraordinary thing is that 70 per cent of the total revenue of this country is spent in the city and county of Dublin. You need only look at the Estimate brought in by my honourable friend, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister for Finance, in respect of the Board of Works to realise that. Yet the city and county of Dublin counted 40,000 votes against Eamon de Valera [644] at the election but the rest of the country beat the tail off them by giving him an extra 50,000.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan I thought the Deputy was passing?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry Zoom on Martin John Corry I wanted to get that clear. I hope we will hear no more about victories from the spalpeens over there. This Budget was brought in, I am informed, principally for the assistance of the agricultural community. If the agricultural community do not produce sufficient goods for export, not alone will we be short of luxuries but we will be short of necessaries. The sooner the general public realise that the better. Some people think you can get increases in wages and salaries and have no increases in fares to meet them. That is the position in regard to transport here.

Today on behalf of the farmers' organisation I have the honour to represent, I was with the general manager of the Irish Sugar Company. I found that the increase of £1 to the workers meant 8/9d per ton on beet. In plain language, that means that 660,000 tons of beet will be produced this year by the farmers at a cost of £247,000. We got £220,000 of that today from the general manager of the Sugar Company. That represents 6/8d per ton of beet. That does not account for the extra £50,000 that must be met by the agricultural community to pay the extra five per cent demanded by CIE in transport charges.

It is just as well to be clear on these issues, for fear anyone would think the farmer was going to fatten on what he is to get. That price has been made up not on £1,200 a year or £1,500 a year but on £7 odd a week for the labour of the farmer, his son and his workers. Let us have some understanding of the position. I do not mind the worker getting an increase. If the agricultural community were to demand overtime on the difference between the five-day week at present claimed and the seven-day week the farmer must work, because we have not yet invented a five-day cow, he would be entitled to £16 odd a week overtime. You can be counting that up. You would be [645] paying something around 2/- a pint for your milk.

I heard Deputy Barrett speak previously on the line he took here today. I heard him on it recently at every chapel gate in my constituency. I would like to return my grateful thanks to him for his activity in my constituency which changed an adverse vote of 1,400 to a majority for de Valera of over 4,000. You had one group complaining that it is the turnover tax, but the other crowd, like Deputy Barrett, took a different line altogether. They said it was the ninth round of wage increases that was the cause of all the industrial unrest. I am aware there are professional classes in this country who think all increases in prosperity here should be channelled towards providing extra prosperity for the lawyers and professors. The ordinary worker is to get nothing, no matter what increase in prosperity comes. That has been the line pursued right along.

From 1916 to 1921, we did not see any of the lawyers or professors hanging around us waiting for a crack at the British. They were still earning their fees or giving their lectures. The people who enabled this Dáil to assemble here were the ordinary workers and farmers' sons of this country. If our Taoiseach, with that knowledge, was a little too generous perhaps in the ninth round of increases, more power to him. He looked after the ordinary workers of this country. That is my view on this. There are provisions in the Budget which properly should not be put down as subsidies to agriculture. The subsidy on fertilisers is not a subsidy on agriculture; it is a subsidy to the manufacturers. If I were to go through the whole gamut of alleged subsidies to agriculture, we would find that fully 50 per cent of them should properly be regarded as subsidies to industry.

I have heard moaning over there about houses but why do we require houses? How many houses were required when we took over in 1932? How many houses were vacant then? In Cobh, 260 houses have been built in a very short time. Why? Because when those gentlemen over there went [646] out of office, the total employment in that town was represented by six weeks out of 12 months in the Haulbowline Dockyard, smashing up machinery which was to be sold for scrap by auction. Today 600 men are constantly employed in that industry. Deputy Barrett and a few other Deputies over there came along about 15 months ago and attacked another industry started down there, the Verolme Dockyard, an industry which today is employing 1,000 people. Of that number, 700 are constituents of Deputy Barrett. Deputy Barrett would have no occasion to be looking for houses for them if he had succeeded in the campaign which he endeavoured to launch 15 months ago. Deputy Fitzpatrick, in his election address to the people of Cavan, said that the policy of Fine Gael was to do away with things like the Verolme Dockyard.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): And Deputy Corry.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry Zoom on Martin John Corry There would be 1,000 fewer people to be housed in that part of the country, if Deputy Fitzpatrick and Deputy Barrett had had their way. If by any miracle those gentlemen found their way across here, I am certain that Deputy Fitzpatrick's election address would be used to show that they had a mandate from the people to throw those 1,000 workers out of employment and let them go to Britain or elsewhere to earn their living.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte They cannot get to Britain now because there is a strike.


An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan That does not excuse the Deputy for infringing the rules of the House.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry Zoom on Martin John Corry The Deputy is dealing solely with matters in this Budget. I cannot help interruptions. People who interrupt are fools because they know what they will get. I thank God that houses are needed. If they are needed, it is because of the policy of the Taoiseach who started out to found industries which would provide employment for the young men and women growing up. When they found permanent [647] employment in their own country, the first thing they looked for was a nice-looking girl and the next thing was that they looked for a house in which to put her. That is the sole reason why you have this cry for houses today. There are more in employment and more people getting married and settling down. In the past five years, and that is a fairly short period, the Government have trebled the number of housing grants in the South Cork area. That is what we worked for and that is what we got.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte What part of the country is the Deputy talking about?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry Zoom on Martin John Corry Look, we even have Donegal fellows down there. I have at least four or five of them down there and none of them claims to be anything to Deputy Harte. Every day of the week I have them looking for houses. They come to a good place where they know they will get work and where they know they will have a Deputy who will look after them and get them employment. They will not be up here moaning every day like Deputy Harte. I am well aware of the kind of agreement that was made here between the citizens of the Pale—the Lord between us and all harm—and the Labour Party. They got a drop——

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey The Labour Party can look after themselves.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry Zoom on Martin John Corry They did not carry out the second part of the agreement. That is what happened.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey The Labour Party do not want any advice from the Deputy——

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry Zoom on Martin John Corry The Deputy would be amazed——

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey ——as the Deputy will find out in a few minutes when he sits down.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry Zoom on Martin John Corry The Deputy is more than welcome any time. That is the position which brings about the introduction of a Supplementary Budget. It is because the agricultural community did not get [648] their share of the cake. They are entitled to it.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte The price of fertilisers was increased last week by the Deputy's Minister.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry Zoom on Martin John Corry When Deputies were flocking in here today, I went out and got nearly £250,000 from General Costello for my beetgrowers. That is what counts. If Deputy Harte was able to go back to Donegal and say there would be an extra £250,000 for the farmers, he would be here for ever. I have been 39 years here and have seen many Deputies come and go. I would be sorry to see the Deputy go. He is a nice fellow if he would stay quiet.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte We know how long the Deputy is here and we know of his speeches during the Economic War. The advice he gave the farmers then is worth reading.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry Zoom on Martin John Corry I have stated the position in regard to the Presidential election and the last general election. We changed a minority of 1,500 into a majority of 1,000. If the Deputy's Party can do as well in the next election, there will be some hope for them.

I want to say a word about Leinster House. When I arrived today I thought I was entitled to celebrate a little and I went to the bar. I do not go in there too often. I am fairly temperate. I found Deputies rushing in there saying: “Thanks be to God Lemass is safe. We will not have any general election until 1970”. I believe that if the division bells had sounded, some of them were so overjoyed that they would not have been able to answer.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey From some years of experience both in this House and on local bodies with Deputy Corry, I have come to realise the disadvantage of speaking after him in a debate for two reasons: first, one could not attempt to be so entertaining in the circus type of way, and secondly, one has the very difficult task of bringing the assembly back to the matter under consideration. We were perhaps rather [649] more unfortunate tonight than usual because there happens to be a reasonably full Gallery and a full Gallery has the same effect on Deputy Corry as a full moon on other mad dogs. He felt he had to entertain the people; he has many beetgrower friends in the Gallery and felt he must give them their halfcrown's worth of entertainment and therefore we were subjected to what he had to say.

En passant, when he said he went to General Costello of the Sugar Company today and secured an increase for his beetgrowers, I think it should be put on record that the increase was given on these terms: that in the agreement last year the Beetgrowers' Association, of which I understand Deputy Corry is Chairman, put in a provision that if the sugar factory workers, the trade unionists, secured an increase, a pro rata benefit would be extended to the farmers immediately afterwards. If I am well informed, as I think I am, the increased benefit secured today was based solely on the fact that we in the trade union and labour movement negotiated successfully for increased wages for the workers. It was like falling off a wall for Deputy Corry to say: “Those boys got their increase and you gave us your word that we would get a pro rata increase”. That was the type of negotiation he had to do and about which he is raving here tonight.

He spoke about the number of people living in Cork city who are working in his constituency. He upbraids us and the former inter-Party Government in many respects as far as employment is concerned. We know that—thanks be to God—there are many people living in Cork city and working in Deputy Corry's constituency, but in the main they are working in the oil refinery. The House will have noticed that Haulbowline Industries were mentioned by Deputy Corry but he overlooked—inadvertently, I am sure—referring to the establishment of the oil refinery. The fact is that it was established, negotiated, agreed upon and built under the inter-Party Government when the late Deputy Norton was Minister for Industry and Commerce. Many of us [650] were at the opening and generous tribute was paid to him by several speakers, including the present Taoiseach, who thanked Deputy Norton and the Government of that time for having set up that industry, thereby opening up channels of employment for those now employed there.

I have been in this House only since 1954, 12 years, and we have dealt with many Budgets and many crises and we have had many arguments across the floor on many occasions, endeavouring to score debating points. I think the time has now come when we must put in some real work and cut out the tomfoolery, especially some of the tomfoolery we had from Government benches here today. I say that as one representing the workers of Cork city. Deliberately or otherwise, the Government and the Deputies supporting them have not got their fingers on the pulse of the people or on the true economic situation in which we find ourselves. I invite any of my Deputy colleagues in the Government Party from Cork city to tell the House what the general feeling is in the city of Cork in regard to the present position of the economy and our hopes for the future.

It is not untrue to say that there prevails at present a definite air of unrest and of gloom. I would think none the less of my Fianna Fáil colleagues from Cork if they were to stand up and contradict me in that and give me definite evidence, but I must sincerely confess to them that, from mixing around with the ordinary working-class people of Cork, meeting industrialists, employers, trade union officials, local authority developers, I am convinced that there is a definite air of doom and gloom and lack of hope pervading the whole community.

I get no personal satisfaction out of blaming this Government or this Taoiseach, or this Minister or that Minister. That is not my job or the job that I was elected for. The job I was elected for is to convey to this House in the best fashion possible to me the situation as I see it and to make, as far as my ability permits, suggestions as to what might be done.

I am particularly sorry that my [651] friend, Deputy Jack Lynch, should be in the hot seat as Minister for Finance on such a gloomy occasion but I think I would be doing less than justice to myself and to those people and organisations I represent in this House if I did not say that I thought his performance in introducing this mini-Budget with, as Deputy Corish said, a mini-speech, the most pathetic effort I have ever witnessed in this House. On occasions in the past, I have paid tribute to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Lynch, for things I thought he did well and for measures he introduced into this House that I thought needed to be introduced. I said so then in the teeth of opposition from other people. Therefore, I am entitled to say now that it shocks me and that I am indeed grieved that he should find himself as the spokesman for a Government who have now proved themselves so inept that within three months of introducing the main Budget, they had to come along with further provisions and with further lectures, mostly to the workers of the country.

One would have thought that a Cabinet, of which we hear so much as being young, energetic and go-ahead, would have had a sufficient pool of brains to advise the unfortunate Minister for Finance as to what might be intelligently anticipated for 365 days. We had not that. Indeed, in the introduction of the main Budget, we were told that they had estimated it as far as they could but that if things disimproved, there was the possibility that there might be a further Budget in the autumn. We find that they could not forecast for 90 days. We in the trade unions get a lot of advice about work study and time and motion from experts of all sorts who are brought to bear on us. They advise us as to how to do our job. If I am a worker in a factory, there are jokers coming along, at expense, partly subsidised by the Government, to tell me, if I am carrying a box from one place to another, to bring it the other way. They draw white lines; they clock me and Bob's-your-uncle; they get their fee and everything is all right. That is being imposed on [652] me, inferring that I am inefficient and that I could be more productive. Could anyone conceive of a group of people more inept or more incompetent than a Cabinet who could not forecast the economic situation for 90 days? It is no joy to me to say that. I am sorry to have to say it, but it is my duty to say it and therefore I say it.

On top of the incompetence and ineptitude, we got a display from the Taoiseach today which I thought was the last word and which added insult to injury. He added arrogance to the ineptitude and incompetence of the Cabinet. He said to this House, and, through this House, to the people, that, whether we like it or not, die dog or eat a hatchet, he and his Ministers were going to remain in office until the full lifetime of this Dáil had concluded. In other words, he said to us that he did not care what we said to the people, that he did not care what they believed, and to the old age pensioner, that he did not care how they suffered, that he did not care whether there was this or that condemnation of the Government, that the fact was that, with the aid of a couple of Independents, they were going to cling on to the power and that something might turn up between this and then. In other words, in his arrogance, in spite of the fact that some of us here may have critical and constructive suggestions to make in this unfortunate situation, what the Taoiseach said was, that we could go to hell, that he was going to hang on to power, that the Ministers were there. He did make reference, by the way, to the fact that the Press had commented on a proposed reshuffle of the Cabinet. My colleague, Deputy Dunne, has already dealt adequately with the manner in which the Taoiseach criticised the Press for their recent comments and their intelligent prognostications of what may happen. The Taoiseach did mention the creation of a new Ministry of Labour, that there would have to be an extra Ministry, and perhaps some reshuffle.

I should like to make a personal appeal to the Taoiseach in connection with the creation of a Ministry of [653] Labour. It is quite conceivable and understandable that there may be changes. I am very glad that at the crucial moment the Minister for Transport and Power has arrived in the House. I would appeal to the Taoiseach to find some other job for the Minister for Transport and Power. I have no personal spleen against the Minister. Personally and socially, I get on and have got on very well with him since we met, but, whatever his abilities, it is an unfortunate fact that he has no bent whatever for the post of Minister for Transport and Power or, if he has a bent in that direction, he has failed to make it permeate down through the lines of the executives of the State companies for which he is responsible.

So, in referring en passant to the fact that there may be a reshuffle in the Cabinet and whilst wishing the Minister for Transport and Power well in whatever future post he may take up, which may be more suited to his abilities, I appeal on behalf of anybody engaged in transport and on behalf of the public who have to use transport and on behalf of the ESB and Bord na Móna and the lot: Please, please, remove Deputy Childers from the post of Transport and Power because, quite obviously, he is unsuitable for it. Maybe he had a run of bad luck or maybe his executives let him down but he might profitably be engaged by the Government in some other sphere of activity in which his deficiencies would not have such serious repercussions on the community at large week after week almost.

Mr. Childers: Information on Erskine Hamilton Childers Zoom on Erskine Hamilton Childers My withers are unwrung.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey I promise, when the Minister is speaking, that I will not interrupt him and I would be grateful if you, a Cheann Comhairle, would ensure that I will not be interrupted by the Minister for Transport and Power.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish Like the Taoiseach, he does not care what anybody says.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey He does not. This discussion is not just an academic debate. [654] It is a discussion reflecting the views held in every home in Ireland, in every pub, in every club, at every crossroads, at meetings after matches on Sunday. It is the bounden duty of every Deputy to convey to the House, so far as he can, the impressions he gets from the people of the state of the economy and the state of the nation generally. I think no Deputy would be so unworthy as to come in here and deliberately tell a lie about the position or deliberately advocate something that would not be for the benefit of the people. We freely accept that, but the Fianna Fáil Party come in here and either say nothing at all, thereby conveying nothing from the people, or else try to create the impression, knowing in their hearts and souls that everything is wrong, that in fact everything is rosy and that what the people want is to “Let Lemass lead on”.

I am glad my two colleagues from Cork city are present at the moment. Without going into personalities, I should like to bring their minds back to the 1957 general election and to the climate that prevailed at that time. From June, 1956 to June, 1957, I had the honour of being Lord Mayor of Cork. I can well remember being in the hot seat during the whole of that year. I can remember Councillor Jack Lynch, who is the Minister for Finance, bringing in resolution after resolution after resolution, supported by Deputy Healy, upbraiding me and the Party I supported for what they alleged was a lack of money for the building of houses by Cork Corporation. I do not wish to be vindictive, but one is entitled to recap: at that time the inter-Party Government were providing just over £750,000 for capital development in housing. We are not getting one-third of that now, but there is no procession into the Corporation. Naturally the Minister for Finance cannot come there, even though he would be welcome.

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay With the money.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey He will be welcome even without the money. We should like to hear his view. There are no resolutions now. When an innocent abroad like myself makes a simple inquiry [655] as to why we are not building houses, he is told by Deputy Healy that we will arrange to meet the Minister the following week. There are all sorts of excuses. A meeting with the Minister was arranged. The Minister very kindly received us and explained his difficulties, but the fact of the matter is we did not get the money and we did not get the houses. It is no good my going back to the people and telling them that Deputy Healy introduced us to the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Local Government and we had a wonderful interview and everything will be all right, but not this year.

The position now is that, while all of us in Cork Corporation have been encouraging people to make an effort to build houses for themselves, instead of coming along to the Corporation looking for houses, the policy has changed completely. I always thought it was good policy for a young man, brave enough, young enough and with sufficient money to undertake the commitment to build his own home instead of placing the liability for housing him on the local authority. In the past we encouraged that kind of young man. During the time of the inter-Party Government, we even had advertisements in the papers pointing out the facilities available in case they might escape the attention of anybody who might be interested. Those advertisements have disappeared from the papers now. Indeed, any reference to that policy is received with disfavour. You are regarded as a bit of a traitor. You are anti-national if you even mention the fact that it might be a good idea to give young people loans to build their own homes. You are rocking the boat. That is the phrase constantly used. You are a bad Irishman. The fact is that a young man about to get married, or one newlywed, will approach Cork City Hall for a loan. He gets a form to fill up. His qualifications are adjudicated on. Ultimately he is told that, in the wisdom of the Lord Mayor, Alderman and Burgesses of the City of Cork, he is deemed to be eligible for a loan to build a house but he is to call back, [656] curiously enough on 1st April, All Fools Day. It will only be then they will have the money to deal with the matter.

Similarly, those of us on health authorities who deal with the building of hospitals, additions and extensions, the erection of nurses' homes, the setting up of new departments, pathological and X-ray, the building of new clinics, all know that the answer we will get, when we look for the finances necessary, is that these are all worthwhile schemes, but the money just does not happen to be available at the moment. That is in very strong contrast to the literature distributed in my constituency over the years. I have kept copies of it. I will not take up the time of the House quoting, but I think it will be admitted freely that the whole tenor of that literature was “Let Lemass lead on”, “Prosperity is just around the corner”, “100,000 new jobs”, “Cut down on prices”, “Vote Fianna Fáil”, “More jobs”“Everything is going to be grand”. I remember— Deputy Healy remembers it quite well, too—a gentleman, who was fairly high up in the Fianna Fáil organisation, going around the city of Cork, with a fishing rod and a loaf of bread at the end of it. He was not an ordinary “gurrier”. He was fairly high up.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish A good class “gurrier”.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey He was fairly high up in the Comhairle Dáil Cheanntair.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte A professional “gurrier”.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey He took that around, upbraiding the inter-Party Government because of the high prices. As a family man, I have reason to know; the Lord blessed me with a large family. Look at the difference today in trying to feed, clothe and educate children. People are afraid to pick up the paper—my wife is certainly afraid to do so—they see an increase of 3d on the lb. of butter. Then they find, in grappling with this economic situation, the only thing the Minister for Finance can do is to bring in the provisions he introduced here yesterday. No matter how you talk about it, it means to the womenfolk, to the housewife, [657] an immediate increase in all household goods. When I say “household goods”, I mean household utensils, cups and saucers, pots and pans, knives, forks and spoons. They are not exempted. They must be bought for any family home. These items have been increased.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte Even the nappies Deputy Corry spoke about.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey Yes, the one he recommended for the Deputy. I think that might be described as clothing and be exempted.

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay But the pins would not.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey The pins would qualify for the new tax. Take a couple setting up a new home: if they do succeed in getting a loan from an insurance company or a building society, they are immediately faced with the problem of furnishing it. Some of us are young enough to remember, when we were married in recent years, what a great problem it was to furnish the house. An added impost is now being placed upon unfortunate newlyweds, in so far as they will have to pay more for their tables and chairs, for their beds and cots, for their carpets, curtains, prams and go-cars. That is what it means to the people I claim to represent in this House. That is why I am so determined to spell out all these items. Even the unfortunate young fellow going to school, who has to travel a mile or two and who must get a bicycle, will find the tax has gone up on that. That has been increased by the people who said: “Let Lemass lead on”.

For some reason or another, maybe because they have been in power for such a long period, perhaps through no fault of their own, the older members of the Fianna Fáil Party have lost touch with reality; perhaps in many ways they are too close to the trees to see the wood, that they have been hypnotised and mesmerised by advisers of all sorts, allegedly economic advisers, within and without the various Government Departments. I should be glad to see the advent of a [658] greater number of younger members to the Fianna Fáil benches who would say to the older members of the Fianna Fáil Party who have a very conservative approach to economic matters: “That is not good enough. We know our people and understand their problems. We are fed up hearing the old catchcries and shibboleths that carried this Party for so long. We realise now that something different is needed.”

What the people are claiming is what they are basically entitled to in any viable, Christian community: the right to be born in this country, to grow up in it in reasonable comfort regarding housing, food and, particularly, education. The younger people are entitled to say: “The time has come, whether my father is a docker or a doctor, when I am entitled to the same opportunity of higher education”, depending on the child's ability and not on the father's bank balance. They are entitled to say: “Expert medical advice and the finest hospitalisation, should be available to all our children”, not just because one happens to be the child of rich parents, and has a prerogative over the parents less blessed with worldly goods. It should be the duty of the Government to frame a policy, to bring that policy into the House and to put it before the country, so that every child born in this country can say that in regard to education, medical facilities and the attainment of appointments he has the same opportunity as anybody else.

There are many things of which I would accuse the Government—I have said they were incompetent and many other things—but I would not regard them as being stupid; indeed some of the younger, wiser boys on the Front Bench would not miss a trick for anything. I wonder does it appeal to them at all that it is not without significance that in recent times the country has had this great upsurge of industrial strikes, rumours of strikes, lock-outs, threatened lock-outs and so on. People do not engage in these activities just for the fun of it. I can assure the Minister—and for many years I have had very close contact with people who are members of trade unions and who are [659] working in ordinary jobs—the last thing these workers want is a strike. Most of them are sufficiently loyal to the industry in which they are engaged as to want to serve it well without upset. I am saying that deliberately, contrary to everything which has been expressed by a certain school of thought.

It is my experience—and I think any Member of the House who knows the position that it is his experience as well—that the average fellow is loyal and wants to see the industry which employed him go ahead. He will lean over backwards at times, provided, of course, he is dealing with an enlightened management and that if he comes along with a personal or domestic problem the extenuating circumstances will be recognised. I would resent very deeply the statements and implications that have been made in this House and outside it which project the vast majority of Irish workers as an irresponsible group. That is not true. There is nobody who seeks industrial peace based on justice more than those who are engaged in industry and who are members of trade unions.

Does it not occur to the Government that in a very short time we have had a CIE strike, and that our bank clerks are on strike at the moment. Some are on strike and some are locked out. Going back 20 years or less, did anyone ever think that they would see the senior members of bank staffs members of trade unions and, indeed, militant trade unions and out on strike and locked out?

Does that not strike the Government as having some significance, that somewhere along the line they have gone wrong, that they have shovelled money into projects that were unnecessary and that they failed to give Government assistance where it was more necessary, that is, to the average worker, professional, white collar, small farmers and small shopkeepers, the backbone of the country? As far as lies in our power and as long as we are returned by the people, the Labour Party will advocate the cause of the small man, not necessarily the trade unionist but the man [660] with the small income. We do not claim to represent anybody else but we represent them and represent them strongly.

There were occasions during former elections when the Fianna Fáil Party used to describe themselves as the Republican Party. That was always in brackets. That has been dropped in recent times and, privately, when I questioned Fianna Fáil Deputies about it, I could never get a satisfactory answer.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan They executed them all.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin This matter does not arise.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey I do not want to dwell on this at all but my curiosity is always aroused by matters such as this.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan They executed them, hanged them and let them die on hunger strike.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey Is it a fact now that Fianna Fáil are no longer the Republican Party? Was it a condition of the dialogue between Captain O'Neill and the Taoiseach that they should no longer so describe themselves, that “Republican” is a dirty word? Even if it is a dirty word, it will always be used by the Labour Party which was founded as a Republican Party and still is a Republican Party.

Another appendage used by Fianna Fáil was that it was the Party of the workers. I do not think that they will be entitled to allege that for some time to come. We must place it on record that this alleged Party of the workers, many of whose members at election time deliberately and wrongly describe themselves as trade union officials, are the Party who recently passed legislation in this House which, in effect, means that a section of our workers no longer have the right to strike or to picket.

Mr. Healy: Information on Augustine. A. Healy Zoom on Augustine. A. Healy For the protection of the majority of workers.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey Any time you like to test that, I will test it with you before [661] the workers of Cork. I want to be judged by my peers only and if Deputy Healy wants to challenge me on that issue any way and at any time, I am prepared to meet him and accept the decision of the workers.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham Zoom on Liam Cunningham What about letting the Fianna Fáil industries in Cork die?

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan You ran away from the county manager.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey Do not run away from the county manager in Donegal.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin We are not entitled to discuss the county manager in Donegal.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey Before I was so rudely interrupted by your colleague from Donegal, Sir, I was pointing out to Deputy Healy that many of the people in the Party which he represents mean to do good but they are misguided by other people. They are the Party who introduced into this House a law which compels the guards to put a man in prison because he does not want to work for a particular employer or for a particular wage.

Mr. Healy: Information on Augustine. A. Healy Zoom on Augustine. A. Healy That is not so.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey Deputies opposite should have read the Bill before they voted for it.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan Do not be prompting the Chair, you.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Deputy Coughlan should not refer to any official of the House.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey Deputies opposite should have read the Bill before they came in here to vote for it. Legislation was passed through this House which means that if I happen to be working for the ESB in any capacity, not confined to the 100 manual workers on strike but as a clerk, chief clerk, office boy or lorry driver, if I go on strike and if I picket, I am open to being brought to the courts and fined and if I do not pay the fine, the courts can put me in prison.

[662]Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling Zoom on Joseph Dowling We did not sentence children in incubators to death.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan Now we have you coming in.

Mr. Allen: Information on Lorcan Allen Zoom on Lorcan Allen You were never as happy as when the Taoiseach said there would be no election.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan I am always happy because I stand for the people's rights.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey I am just pointing out that the “workers' Party” has, in fact, advocated and successfully carried through this House restrictive legislation on the rights of the workers. The workers of this country will not stand for it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Discussion of legislation is out of order on the Finance Bill.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan It is on the cost of living.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin The Deputy is not mentioning the cost of living.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey I wish to conform to the rules of order. I certainly would not go outside them. The Chair has indicated to me that I may not comment on the passage of the legislation to which I was referring but the fact of the matter is that the Minister, in his introductory statement, specifically devoted a page to strikes generally. I do not wish to dwell on it at length but if the Minister devoted a page of his introductory statement to that subject, I might at least be allowed, without interruptions——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin The Deputy was permitted. I think he has pursued the matter far enough.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey I shall wind it up in a sentence or two. The workers of this country will not tolerate the type of legislation that Party bulldozed through this House. Even if they have to fight it through the courts and through the jails, they will do so, but they will not tolerate it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin The Deputy is disorderly. If he does not [663] desist, he will have to resume his seat. It is totally out of order to discuss any type of legislation on the Finance Bill and the Deputy will not be permitted to do so.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey I am sorry, Sir. I have been on my feet for the best part of an hour, and indeed I think——

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan On their feet.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey I was very well behaved until I was interrupted first by the Minister for Transport and Power, then by Deputy Healy and then Deputy Cunningham arrived from Donegal. Deputy Pearse Wyse did not say anything at all. All I want to say, in conclusion, is that the ordinary workers will not tolerate a situation where essentials are being taxed, where any extra moneys the Government want are looked for out of the pocket of the wage earner. The Government have forgotten that there are other sources from which they might get the money they require. Every time they get into trouble, through their own incompetence and mismanagement, the Government look to the worker for the money. At the same time as they are filching it out of the pockets of the workers, they are doing all sorts of airy-fairy things: the Leader of the Labour Party, Deputy Corish, referred yesterday to the handsome pension to be enjoyed by Dr. Andrews.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan He is not a doctor.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey The Minister for Health was unruly here last time I spoke. He said we do not truly represent trade unions and that we are cowards. He is so much out of touch that he is the gentleman, the Minister for Health, who sanctioned an increase of £700 per annum for certain medical gentlemen attached to several health authorities in the country. Can anybody explain why the workers in the paper factories are on strike for so long? Can anybody explain why a crisis is created in respect of action by certain employees in the ESB? Can anybody explain why the banks are closed down? There is no longer a banking system in this [664] country. All these disputes concern claims that would in no way come anywhere near the £8,000 for Dr. Andrews and his pension of £3,000 a year and there is nothing that would even approximate an increase of £700 per annum for certain specialists working for certain health authorities.

When I rose to speak, I felt I had a duty, as an ordinary Deputy to give my advice to the Government in the light of present problems. I do not give two hoots what Government are in power, not two hoots. As far as we are concerned, the Government who provide the best service for our people education-wise, healthwise, hospitalwise, house-wise, price-wise, wagewise——

Deputies: Pearse Wyse.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey ——are all right with us. This Government have been a dismal failure in that regard. Indeed, I have been surprised that there has not been a revolution within the Government Party. I know personally sufficient Deputies within the Fianna Fáil Party whom in many ways I would regard as, if not progressive, at least liberal-minded people. I cannot understand how they can sit down there and tolerate action by incompetent people such as the Minister for Transport and Power. At the moment, his chief worry is to close down the railway line between Waterford and Mallow.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan And give him £67 a week.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey I do not know how people can sit down and tolerate that when they know damn well it is wrong and when they admit, outside the immediate precincts of this Chamber, that it is stupid and that taxation is being imposed in the wrong places and relief not being given in the right places. If one is to do one's duty properly to the community who elected him, and the country he represents in this Assembly, I think that, once one takes an honest view, then, whether or not it is popular within one's Party, one should get up and say: “This is the interpretation I am putting on the feelings of the people. This is what I [665] think they need. This is what they are advocating and this is what they deserve”. I think the more progressive elements in the Fianna Fáil Party will waken up soon and address themselves to these problems.

It would be foolish and presumptuous of us to claim that all the right is on our side and that nobody else on any other side of the House is advocating progressive policies. There are men on all sides of the House who, in relation to all these social problems, mean well. Indeed, many of them act well, but I think not a sufficient number of them have the courage to get on their feet and say to their Ministers: “This is not good enough”. I look forward to the day when they do that. The Labour Party have left the other Parties in no doubt where we stand on the social concept.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Before discussing the Budget, I should like to make one or two brief remarks about the contribution of Deputy Corry. Far be it from me to treat Deputy Corry seriously. I regard him, as I think his own Party regard him, as part of the price a political Party and a free Parliament must pay for the best form of government in the world—the democratic form of Government. Fortunately, we are not afflicted by democracy with many such Deputies. In the course of his speech, he led us to believe that the people of Cork city and county were completely satisfied that the Government in power are doing a good job and are entitled to the confidence of the people. I would much prefer to accept the collective views of the people of the city and county of Cork as registered in the last Presidential election.

Deputy Corry made reference to Verolme Dockyard and to my comment on it on a previous occasion. I should like to ask him how many thousands of pounds each ship built there is costing the ratepayers and taxpayers of this country. If the object of that loss on each ship is to keep 1,000 people at work in Cork, then there is a strong argument in its favour; but if the object is to keep Deputy [666] Corry in this House, there is certainly no argument whatever in its favour.

We are dealing here with a Budget that has been described as a mini-Budget. That is not an accurate description. It has become customary in this House to christen a Budget when it is introduced. We were at a loss to find a suitable name for the Budget introduced on 10th March of this year. Looking back on it now, I think a fair name for it would be the pre-Presidential election Budget and to call this particular instrument the post-Presidential election Budget. The introduction of these two Budgets within 90 days of each other must brand the Government Party as a dishonest Government, concerned more with staying in office and better described as political adventurers rather than statesmen.

In the interests of decency in public life in this country, I wish I could write off the Fianna Fáil Government as Deputy Casey did, by saying they apparently could not forecast the financial requirements of the country for 90 days ahead. I do not accept that. I am personally satisfied that the Government and their experienced financial advisers were well able to see more than 90 days ahead. I am satisfied that the Minister for Finance when introducing his Budget on 10th March knew perfectly well that the Garda Síochána would get the substantial increase to which they were entitled. I am not convinced that the Minister for Finance did not fully appreciate that the farming community would have to get some price support. He knew that the two farming organisations were hammering the doors of the Department of Agriculture over a long period demanding a fair share of the national income. He knew, and the Government knew, that further support would have to be given to the farming community immediately. I am also satisfied that the Taoiseach and his Ministers individually and collectively, fully appreciated they were not going to get away with a three per cent increase to the workers when they were putting up the cost of living by the Budget they introduced in March last.

[667] It was quite apparent to the Government that these things would have to be met and met quickly. Why did they not make provision for them in the Budget introduced on 10th March? Parliamentary procedure has led us to believe that the Budget should make provision for financial expenditure for the following 12 months and should play its part in distributing the national income over that period. Why did the Budget introduced on 10th March not do that? It did not do it because it was a pre-Presidential election Budget.

This was an election in which the Government Party were compelled to put up their best candidate, an election in which the Government Party were fighting, as I said previously, for the existence of themselves and of the founder of their Party. That is the reason they did not bring in an honest Budget that would cover the housekeeping requirements of the country for 12 months. They did not stop at that. The debate on the pre-Presidential election Budget was hardly over when the Government decided they would implement the findings of the Commission that awarded the Garda pay increases retrospectively, to which they were entitled but which would cost £500,000 in the financial year. Then in the dying days of the Presidential election campaign, the Government did some justice to the farmers and gave them the price increases and support they knew they were entitled to before they introduced the Budget on 10th March. In the same period, they conceded that workers would have to get an increase, £1 per week for men and 15/- for women.

As I say, all those things were done in the dying days of a vital election, but they withheld the bill from the taxpayers until the election was safely over. Am I being extravagant in my language? Am I being unfair to the Government? Am I saying anything less than the naked truth when I call that political dishonesty and when I label a Government who do that sort of thing as a collection of political adventurers? I do not think I am. I believe I am but echoing the sentiments and thoughts of the people.

[668] Let us look for a minute or two at the effect of this sort of Budget and the results this type of financing has on the people, particularly the weaker sections, the welfare classes. The Budget is an instrument which is supposed to distribute the national income fairly and to play its part in doing so. If it imposes taxes on the one hand, it usually increases the benefits to the social welfare classes on the other, to compensate them for the increase in the cost of living brought about by the Budget. That has come to be common practice but let us look at what happened here in the Budget introduced on 10th March. A miserable 5s per week was given to certain social welfare categories as from 1st November next, to people who are destitute and did not have a penny piece to their name, apart from what they received and would receive from the Department of Social Welfare. That miserable benefit was justified on the ground that the Budget had not effected any worthwhile increase in the cost of living.

However, right on the heels of that Budget, the Government by an action which they should have taken before the Budget, increased the price of butter by 3d a lb and after that bus fares went up, as they were bound to go up, as the Government should have known before the Budget of 10th March. In this Budget they have increased the price of cigarettes and tobacco which are necessaries of life as far as elderly people are concerned In addition, they have increased the price of petrol and that will put up the cost of living. There will be a further increase by five per cent in other costs in October. Is there anything in this post-Presidential election Budget to compensate the social welfare classes, the old age pensioners, the widows, people in receipt of unemployment assistance, for the fact that their position has been worsened by this No. 2 Budget? I think it is sheer dishonesty and sheer recklessness and shows a complete disregard for the weaker sections. On those grounds, and on those grounds alone, the Government must stand condemned before all right thinking and honest thinking people.

[669] One thing which has emerged from this debate is the fact that Fianna Fáil can be taught lessons. Some of these lessons are expensive and some are tedious. Some of them cost the country a great deal of money. Deputy de Valera spoke yesterday as the champion of the farming community. He pontificated about agriculture and stated that it was the backbone of our economy and that nobody could contradict him on that. All I can say is, and some of the older Deputies will remember this, as will a great many people, that it took Fianna Fáil a long time to learn that lesson and it cost the people, and the nation as a whole, many millions of pounds.

Another thing which they appear to have learned recently is that it is impossible to impose a tax like the turnover tax without taxing the essentials of life, without taxing bread, butter, tea and sugar, medicines, footwear, and fuel. They introduced the turnover tax in 1963 and the Fine Gael Party tried to force the Government to accept amendments which they tabled and to exclude the essentials of life from the pernicious turnover tax. We were told that the Government, having considered the matter, were satisfied that the turnover tax was unworkable unless it was a broadly-based and comprehensive tax which included everything. Because they would not accept our amendments and our advice, they started off an increase in the cost of living which has got them into their present mess. It left them with a turnover tax of which they were terrified, which they could not operate, a turnover tax of 2½ per cent which they could not use for the purposes for which they said it was introduced.

It is a turnover tax which now apparently they have disowned, run away from and scrapped. They have taken our advice but not before it has cost the country a great deal of money, and led to industrial unrest and industrial chaos and reduced us to the state of affairs that the time of this Dáil is taken up for two days—as it was last week—discussing emergency, panic legislation and also taken up this week, and perhaps next week, discussing a supplementary Budget introduced on [670] the heels of the first Budget. This is at a time when the Dáil should be attending to its programme of legislation instead of having this waste of time.

I should like to deal with another matter, that is, that during the Presidential election campaign, this Party accused the Government of having mismanaged the financial, economic and industrial affairs of the country and of having reduced the country in general to chaos and to the verge of bankruptcy. Speaking at Inchicore during the campaign, the Taoiseach stated that he would have to listen in silence to the accusations of the Fine Gael Party because, for some reason best known to himself, it would be undignified, impolite and improper to deal with the accusations during the course of the contest which everybody knew to be a hot political contest but which he tried to say was not. But he went on to promise that in the month of June he would answer all these charges and he would prove that they were unfounded.

Immediately after the election, the Taoiseach addressed some sort of private or semi-private letter to members of his Party, trying to keep them from falling asunder and to put a little courage into them. He did not deal with any charges; he spoke about what he was going to do in the future. He came to the House today in an arrogant, belligerent fashion. He attacked this side of the House; attacked the Press and showed that he was really in a bad way because he lost his temper. But did the Taoiseach deal with one of the charges we made throughout the Presidential election and which we consistently made in the House and have been making in the country and which he promised to deal with? He did not. He sidestepped every one of them and dealt in vague talk about the future. We accused him in the presidential election campaign of not answering our charges, not because it would not be nice to do so then but because he had not got the answer. I think events have proved that we were right.

In dealing with the injustice perpetrated on the social welfare classes, I forgot to remind the House that altogether [671] as a result of the generosity of the British Government in increasing war pensions, the Department of Social Welfare here has saved £250,000 which it is not passing on to these classes. So that instead of—as the Budget speech here says—another £100,000 being required to implement the promises of the last Budget, the Government, in fact, are saving.

Deputy Burke had some hard things to say about the inter-Party Government which came into power in 1948. He asked what had that Government done to promote prosperity. Immediately they came into office, that Government did something to put the agricultural community, which Deputy de Valera admits are the backbone of the country, into a way of producing wealth and maintaining production. They introduced for the first time the Land Project and all that flowed from it. I am reminding Deputy Burke of that because he asked the question.

I wonder does the Minister for Finance propose to introduce another Budget at the end of the year because the Taoiseach does not seem to be too sure whether he will or not. He says that if the money now available is not sufficient to do the things it is intended to do, we will have to cut back on them, just as he said some time ago that he would cut back on education and health.

I think the Minister for Finance is not satisfied that the amount of money he is now asking the House to sanction is sufficient to pay our way, and that the Government have decided that they will go on from month to month and quarter to quarter and talk to the devil when they meet him. I say that because the Minister says:

This year's £3.1 million yield, plus the hoped-for revenue buoyancy of £2 million, will go within a reasonable distance of meeting the extra outlay now foreseen but not covered in the Budget.

The Minister is satisfied that this £3.1 million from extra taxation plus revenue buoyancy will go within reasonable distance... what will happen if there is no buoyancy in the revenue? The Minister also says:

[672] There is as yet, however, no sign of buoyancy; indeed, the signs are the other way.

I do not know but it seems to me as if the people of this country may expect another Budget at the end of this year and that the social welfare classes will again be pinched and have their slender incomes further eroded.

We are going to borrow £10 million abroad, apparently, this year if we can get it. I think the Government have lost all sense of responsibility and decency. They have been challenged from this side of the House in this debate to accept the indication given in the recent Presidential election that the country has lost confidence in them. They should resign and submit themselves and their policy to the people.

Mr. J. Lynch: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch If it was a political issue, remember we won the election.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): If it was a political issue, where the Minister's Party had a majority in the city and county of Dublin in the last general election, they are now in a minority of 40,000. In the Minister's constituency in Cork where in the by-election and the subsequent general election he had a considerable majority, the Minister got a rebuke. That is the sort of thing that indicates to the people that the Government have lost their grip. The Government know that; it was a political contest and it was fought as such. Deputies opposite say: “Why should we go to the country? The Constitution gives us another four years in office”. That may be so; they may not be obliged under the Constitution or under existing law to fight in a general election but why are they running away from the people in local elections which were due 12 months ago——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Surely we are not going to discuss the local elections?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): No, but I am making the case that the Government are not entitled to impose this Budget on the people because the people have lost confidence in them, and I say as evidence of that that the [673] Government are afraid to meet the people in the local elections which they postponed last year, which are now due according to law and which they refused point blank to hold, and in order to avoid meeting the people in a general plebiscite they have introduced a Bill here to postpone the local elections and postponed a test of public opinion for a further 12 months.

I think the principle established by the inaction of the Government in the first Budget and the introduction of the second Budget goes to the very foundations of democracy. It has shaken the confidence of the people in the Government and made it clear that the people do not accept that the Government have the right to introduce this post-Presidential election Budget and impose taxation on cigarettes and petrol and introduce a new form of taxation which they did not mention to the people. A Government who have lost the confidence of the people to the extent indicated on 1st June have not the right or authority to put this sort of legislation through the House. Therefore, I say again that if this Government are not prepared to go to the country in a general election, they certainly should go to the country by holding the local government elections which are due to be held.

Progress reported: Committee to sit again.

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