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Debate on Adjournment (Christmas Recess).

Thursday, 15 December 1966

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 226 No. 5

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The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch I move:

That the Dáil do now adjourn until Wednesday, 8th February, 1967.

In recent years it has been the practice on the motion for the adjournment for the Taoiseach to give a comprehensive review of the economy. As, however, the House has so recently had an opportunity of a general economic debate, in reply to which I did give such a comprehensive review, on 16th November, I do not think it necessary for me to cover all the same ground again, but what I have to say in regard to recent economic developments is intended as a background to my remarks on the prospects facing us for the year ahead.

In my speech on 16th November, I referred to the adverse trends that had set in in 1965 and that retarded the unprecedented rate of growth in our economy of 4.3 per cent per annum since 1958. Some of these forces, I said then and I think it has been acknowledged on all sides, were external and beyond our control, such as the British import surcharge and the decline in the capital inflow to this country, but there were three major issues on the home front which had an effect on our growth. These were growth of incomes in excess of increased productivity, increased public expenditure and growth of credit.

The measures introduced by the Government to overcome the difficulties and to reverse the adverse trends we had experienced in 1965-66 have proved successful and, while we have not yet available to us the trade figures for the whole of 1966 or exact figures for invisible receipts, I do not think I would be far wrong in saying that our balance of payments deficit in 1966 will be of the order of £20 million, or less than half the figure for 1965.

The rise in exports of £14 million in the first ten months of this year [519] represents a percentage increase of 7½. This is a very satisfactory increase when account is taken of the difficulties which our exports have had to face during the year: the fall in cattle prices in the British market which virtually shut down all cattle exports to the European Economic Community countries, the British import surcharge on manufactured goods and the general sluggishness of the British market.

Industrial exports have been particularly buoyant. In the first eight months of this year for which exports have been classified on this basis, industrial exports grew by 13 per cent compared with an increase of 8 per cent for total merchandise exports. Industrial exports will receive a further stimulus as advantage is taken of the Free Trade Area Agreement and from the removal of the British levy from the beginning of this month. These benefits should be sufficient to offset the effect of the depressed trading conditions in the United Kingdom on the growth of our exports, provided we can maintain our prices at a competitive level. Because of the unsatisfactory price position in the United Kingdom and the virtual closure of the EEC markets to our cattle, our live cattle exports have fallen this year. From June to August, while the numbers exported were marginally somewhat higher, the value was something in the neighbourhood of £1 million lower than in the previous year. However, other agricultural exports have shown welcome increases, particularly frozen beef, bacon, mutton and lamb, cheddar cheese and butter.

If I may refer further to the agricultural scene; early in 1966, it was estimated that agricultural output and family farm incomes would be appreciably higher this year than in the previous year. However, the persistence of bad weather far into the spring of this year retarded the sowing of crops and the growth of grass, with consequential adverse effects on livestock production and on crop acreages. Following a review of the problems of farmers in May last, a number of measures were taken by the Government [520] which were calculated to increase farm incomes to the amount of about £5½ million in a full year. These measures included increases in the price of milk, the introduction of a scheme of headage grants for farrowed sows and hill sheep subsidy schemes.

Subsequently, circumstances, mainly in continental markets and over which we had no control, led to difficulties in the cattle and beef export trade and adversely affected the demand and prices for Irish cattle and beef. These effects were, however, mitigated to some extent by the coming into operation of the Anglo-Irish Trade Agreement but, nevertheless, in August a temporary headage scheme was introduced. I have received assurances from the people in the trade that these headage grants were of considerable benefit towards maintaining whatever stability could be maintained in the trade over that period. At the same time, farmers have had the benefit of higher guaranteed prices, not only for milk but also for wheat and beet. There has been an improvement in crop yields compared with last year. The number of breeding cattle as well as cattle generally was at the highest level ever, according to the census of June of this year.

The Government are keenly aware of the need of farmers for credit and during the year sponsored the introduction of special agricultural credit schemes. Under these schemes, farmers have been provided with unsecured credit for the retention of livestock. Interest-free loans for the purchase of nitrogenous fertilisers have also been made available as well as credit facilities at 2½ per cent for the purchase of dairy livestock. As regards seasonal credit, the banks are the principal sources of such credit and should most appropriately be so. I feel sure they will give special consideration to the credit needs of farmers in present circumstances.

The Government have amply demonstrated their willingness to take measures to help farmers when occasion demands and it is also the Government's policy to work in as close [521] co-operation as possible with farmers' organisations and to do everything in our power to help farmers to increase agricultural output on an efficient basis, to ensure a reasonable price for important agricultural commodities and to narrow the gap between the incomes in agriculture and those in other sectors of the economy.

I might say that I deplore, and find it difficult to understand, the renewed agitation of the National Farmers Association, in view of the fact that the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and I had a very lengthy meeting with them almost immediately after we took office. On that occasion we indicated that we would give very careful consideration to the problems of agriculture. I certainly cannot see what good this agitation will do to anybody. It cannot increase the resources available to the Government for the subvention of agriculture. It is not necessary for me to spell out again the cost of existing price supports for agriculture but it will be the policy of this Government to continue this system in present conditions. Apart from price supports for the main products, including milk and pigs, on which the small farmer particularly depends, an analysis of the figures shows that large amounts are also being paid as direct grants to farmers—Land Project grants, farm building grants and water supply grants. With the aid of such grants and the subsidies on lime and fertilisers, farmers have been enabled to increase production at less cost than they otherwise could. Expanded educational and advisory services are also increasing the farmer's efficiency. Money spent on the eradication of livestock disease undoubtedly improves the quality of stock and such eradication is vital if access to export markets for livestock is to be maintained.

Another problem which is being continuously adverted to is the small farm problem. Most of our farms of course come within the small or medium-sized category. The Government's aims for the development of the small farm areas have been clearly stated in the past. They are, first, to ensure the more intensive use of land through encouraging the farmers to [522] take full advantage of the wide variety of improvement schemes in operation and to avail of the improved technical and advisory services provided for them; secondly, to create the maximum number of viable family farms in these areas; and thirdly, to develop adequate employment outlets in such industries as fisheries, forestry and tourism for those who have to leave farming.

The small farm business plan submitted by the NFA as well as being very costly had many limitations. For one thing, thousands of our small farmers would be excluded because their size of business was too small to qualify. In recent years the Government have introduced a series of important measures for the general benefit of the smaller farmers, particularly those in the western counties. The problem is one which is receiving the Government's constant consideration and attention. At present the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries is having a look at the small farm problem afresh and will announce his ideas and proposals in due course.

To return to the general economic scene, all the signs point to an improvement in the trend in the second half of the year. The volume of consumer spending, as evidenced by the changes in the volume of retail sales, rose by 1.3 per cent. Home sales of cement, which, of course, are regarded as a very useful, valuable and important indicator, after falling by over 18 per cent in the first half of the year, recovered considerably in the third quarter and are now almost back to the level of the third quarter of 1965.

The changing trend in consumption, production and investment is reflected in the import figures. Following a decline of £16.4 million in the first half of the year, imports rose by £10.7 million in the four months July to October and the increase in unemployment in the early months of 1966 has fallen considerably since May.

As Deputies will have seen from the Central Bank announcement last week, credit has been increased as a result of the advice given by the Central Bank. In the months from May to [523] October, during the course of the bank strike, there had been a considerable input of some £37.7 million by way of increased credit in the economy and of that £37.7 million, £14.7 million went to the private sector. Over and above this, the announcement last week by the Central Bank, to which I have just referred, of an extension of an additional £10 million in credit for borrowers other than the Government for the period up to the end of the financial year, 31st March, 1967, is bound to give further impetus to the revival in economic activity. That is already under way.

It would be foolish, however, to conclude that because we have corrected the adverse balance of payments situation we can now relax all restrictions. I want to emphasise that, on the contrary, now—when we have our external account in order again, and we have done that very successfully—is the time to exercise vigilance and restraint, lest we be forced back into a situation in which renewed deflationary measures would be necessary. Our experience shows that building up confidence can in itself be a powerful stimulus to enterprise and production. There are indications that more favourable trends in demand and production in the second half of the year have led to a revival of business confidence. The present management of our economic affairs is the surest way of sustaining this confidence.

The favourable psychological climate introduced by the adoption of appropriate policy measures provides the conditions for a rapid growth of domestic investment and savings and gives the best assurance of our being able to obtain the supplement of foreign capital and enterprises required for our economic development. The recent national loan has been an outstanding success and this, I think, is a very significant mark of the confidence of investors in the prospects for the profitable development of our economy. A total of £24.5 million was subscribed by the public and this was a record figure for this country. The availability of this capital will, of [524] course, enable us to press on with our capital development programme.

The steady rate of growth of national production in conditions of a manageable balance of payments deficit is the only way we can, as a community, secure significant increases in real income and employment. It is, therefore, the Government's earnest desire that, by maintaining reasonable external stability, we get back as quickly as possible to the type of growth rates experienced in the years 1958 to 1964. We can hardly hope, however, in a single year to get back to this satisfactory growth pattern but we will reach it again very quickly the more our policy is directed towards increasing productive investment and exports. Priority must be given to the encouragement of productive activity in the private sector and credit required for export expansion will receive special consideration.

Before I leave this general subject, I should like again to refer to exports in more detail. The annual report of Córas Tráchtála for the year 1965-66 indicates that, of an estimated 2,000 firms turning out products which lend themselves to export trading, approximately 700, or just over one-third of the total, were exporting in 1965; about one-half of the country's exports, excluding live animals and commodities exported by State marketing boards, were supplied by 50 of these firms, while something over threequarters of the total is accounted for by not more than 100 firms. As Ireland's economic growth depends on a rapid increase in exports, particularly over the next five years, the expansion plans of existing exporters must be supplemented by contributions from those firms which are now exporting if the targets we hope to achieve are to be achieved.

In regard to the future development of incomes, experience has shown that the only increases in incomes which hold their value are those which are matched by increased productivity. If we are to have any hope of enjoying worthwhile income increases, therefore, in the near future, it is clear we must strive to maintain a much higher rate [525] of growth than that achieved in 1966. If we are all agreed on the aims of seeking continued improvements in our standard of living, then we should all accept as our principal objective for 1967 the avoidance of any action which would run counter to the vital need of raising the level of production growth as quickly as possible. The key to real increases in incomes is the principle that incomes cannot precede but rather must follow growth in production. This principle is just sound commonsense and it is particularly relevant in present economic conditions.

As I have said, the recent release of additional credit is intended to stimulate the growth of the economy. It will enable more goods and services to be produced and more people to be employed and exports to be expanded. It would be unwise for any section of the community to regard this flow of additional money as a sign of instant prosperity, calling for an immediate increase in incomes. To use any of this additional flow of money for the purpose of increasing the income of any section of the community would be, to use an old expression, as foolish as eating next year's seed potatoes. The injection of further credit into the economy at this juncture is the vital seed from which will grow increased production and an expansion of exports of goods and services. If we carefully nurse this growth by refraining from seeking increases in incomes which would raise costs and prices, we can once again return to a productive rate of growth which, as everybody will appreciate, is the key to more jobs, less emigration, and real and worthwhile increases in incomes.

The most harmful effect of an early incomes increase would be in the competitiveness of our exports. Britain, our main market, is at present going through a difficult economic period. A severe freeze of incomes is in operation and this, coupled with other deflationary measures, has had the effect of depressing demand in that market and making it much more difficult for our exporters to sell their [526] products. If the prices of our exports were now to be increased to cover higher costs because of increased incomes, we would lose our competitiveness again in Britain and find it exceedingly difficult to hold our share in the market there, to say nothing of being unable to strengthen it. Such a situation would be very quickly reflected at home, as it would lead to reduced production and consequent unemployment.

The present restraint on incomes in Britain is also particularly relevant to the Irish market in this way: British manufacturers, not being faced with increases in labour costs, can continue to sell their products here without increasing their prices. If we allow the prices of our products to rise because of demands for higher incomes, our producers stand to lose their competitiveness not only on the home market, particularly with the prospect of growing competition from British goods, facilitated by the Free Trade Agreement, but also on the British market. Therefore, it is the Government's duty to emphasise, in the strongest possible terms, that we cannot afford here to ignore the severe restraint on incomes in Britain without running the risk of inflicting permanent damage on our own economic wellbeing.

Whatever the conditions in Britain, it must be realised that income increases that outstrip production and productivity are not income increases at all. Not only do they cause insecurity in employment, as there is the danger of reducing the level of employment, but they involve the danger of the loss of new job opportunities. Nobody in this country, no matter how secure he might feel in his own employment, would wish that any action he might take would restrict job opportunities for his sons and others in the community. I do not want to be interpreted as having painted a dismal picture of indefinite restraint on incomes in our economy; what I want to emphasise is that in our own economic interests, it would be sound sense to refrain from seeking increases in incomes just now. Rising production must first be ensured before we [527] can hope for any rise in incomes which will not be wiped out by increases in costs and prices. As I said, the present indications are that the recovery from the low rate of growth in the earlier parts of the year has already started because the economy has been given the necessary vital injection.

Understanding is needed among all sections of the community of the dangers involved in seeking an increase in incomes before an increase in production materialises. On this, I should like to refer to industrial relations generally. There has been a growing awareness of the need for better industrial relations but it is, nevertheless, clear that we are very far from fully realising how important a part good industrial relations have to play in our future development. The smallness of our economy, and our religious and social traditions should help us greatly in tackling this problem. It is therefore all the more disappointing to find so great an increase in industrial unrest in recent years. Managements must examine their responsibility in this sphere with greater concern. All the adaptation work in the world, and all the investment in modernisation, will fail to reap its due reward if industrial unrest is allowed to slow down or interrupt production.

Taking industry as a whole, too little weight is given to personnel work. This could be too easily interpreted as a basic lack of interest by management in its workers. It is probably due, in the main, to the failure to appreciate the complexity of the highly skilled nature of this industrial relations work. Trade unions, too, should take every opportunity of equipping their officials with the best available training. There is no need for me to stress the bad effects of industrial unrest. Firstly, it hits the individual worker and his family, and it interrupts the growth of productivity which is essential for increasing prosperity. It is especially damaging to the export trade on which depend our hopes for raising our living standards in the future. Against the background of the Free Trade Agreement with Britain and a slackening of [528] demand, industrial unrest is a luxury we can ill afford at the present time. Possibly most dangerous in the long run, it can deter those who might otherwise be inclined to invest here by promoting new industry or otherwise. With our imperative need for additional industry in order to provide more jobs, a result like this would indeed be a tragedy.

As Deputies are aware, the Minister for Labour is giving high priority to this aspect of his responsibilities and I would appeal in the most urgent fashion, both to management and the trade unions, to co-operate fully with him in this field. I do not want to go too far into history in regard to the efforts made to improve industrial relations but my immediate predecessor, Deputy Lemass, when he was Minister for Industry and Commerce, and subsequently the late Deputy Norton, tried to hammer out with the trade unions and the employer organisations a basis on which better industrial relations legislation could be enacted. Neither of these, nor myself, succeeded in getting a wide enough area of agreement that would justify bringing in a measure to this House. The Minister for Labour, when he became Minister for Industry and Commerce, pursued these activities and he had several consultations with both sides of industry. While some area of agreement may have been negotiated, I understand that at present revised proposals are now before both the representatives of the employers and of the trade unions. I do not know to what extent they are being treated expeditiously by these bodies but it is obvious that the Minister for Labour cannot wait too long. It is his, and the Government's, intention to introduce proposals for revised industrial relations in the next session.

Another matter which I think deserves some reference is our application for entry into the European Economic Community. Five and a half years have elapsed since we first sought entry into the Community. The delay which has arisen, due to circumstances outside our control, has in the [529] short term presented us with difficulties in maintaining and expanding our external trade, particularly our agricultural exports. These difficulties have in turn reacted on our efforts to sustain an optimum rate growth in the economy. The delay has not been wholly without advantage. It has afforded additional time in which to prepare ourselves for the inevitable impact of free trade conditions in an enlarging European Community. The Government for their part have sought to ensure that this time has not been wasted. We have never ceased to urge on all concerned the necessity for adapting to the new environment in which we will have to operate. Words have been backed by deeds in so far as it lies within the power of the Government to take action.

It is not necessary to remind the House of the impressive list of measures which the Government have introduced in order to assist our people in industry and otherwise to prepare for Common Market conditions. Not-withstanding the facilities afforded, and the necessity for making full use of these facilities, there have been some who have been content to rest on their oars, in the belief that the day of reckoning is far away or, indeed, may never come. To some extent, this attitude is inevitable in the uncertainty produced by the unavoidable delay in bringing our application for membership of the European Economic Community to finality, but to remove, in so far as it is possible, this uncertainty, and at the same time to secure such trading arrangements as would assist our preparations for entry to the EEC, the Government concluded, a year ago, the Free Trade Area Agreement with Britain. It came into operation on 1st July, 1965, and under it, by 1975, we will have eliminated all the existing tariffs on industrial products being imported into this country.

I believe that this, apart from being a useful exercise, is more than that, in that the type of competition we are likely to face from Britain will be little less—in fact, I believe it will be almost equally intensive—than that we might expect from Economic Community [530] countries. Any remaining complacency there might be should receive a jolt as a result of the recent British initiative to undertake high level probes with the Governments of the Six for the purpose of clearing the air as to the terms on which Britain might join EEC. In the course of my discussions with the British Prime Minister next week on this and other matters, I hope to gain a clearer picture of the prospects for the resumption of our own negotiations for entry into EEC. Meanwhile, it is clear, to use Mr. Wilson's words, that the British Government mean business. While it is not possible to predict the outcome of these moves, the general climate in which they are being undertaken does seem better than at any time in the past four years.

Given a favourable outcome, the stage will be set for the opening of negotiations by the countries which are applicants for membership of the Community. It is not my expectation, at this stage, that these negotiations would commence at an early date or that, once commenced, they would be, or could be, rapidly concluded. It has to be assumed, however, from the determined manner in which the British Government are tackling this whole problem, that once negotiations are started, the way will be open to the enlargement of the Community within a few years.

We cannot, therefore, afford to waste any time in finalising our own preparations. The Government have already put in hands a White Paper on the European Communities which will contain, for the information of the Oireachtas and the public, all available information on development within the Communities to date. The preparation of this White Paper is being accompanied by a review. This review embraces all aspects of the economic and administrative adjustments which entry to an enlarged EEC would entail.

On the general economic front, the main task is to ensure that, so far as is humanly possible, everything is done to prepare industry for the [531] sharper competition it will face in the Common Market. As far as agriculture is concerned, I think we have a less difficult task. As Deputies are aware, an elaborate and involved system of agricultural organisation is being set up in EEC and we have to see precisely how our agriculture can be fitted into this, which is for us a novel system. All Departments concerned are urgently engaged in tackling these points and others bearing on our general economic arrangements. Also, close attention is being given to the adjustments that may be necessary at Government level to bring our administrative arrangements into line with those of the Community.

An important aspect of this work is settling the legislative changes that may have to be adopted. These extend beyond the changes consequential on the assumption of obligations relating to the freeing of trade. The objectives of the Rome Treaty extend also to economic union and for this we must be prepared to adjust, as may be necessary, legislation touching on our legal and fiscal arrangements, our social structure, the movement of prices, enterprises and capital. Also our commercial policy towards the rest of the world must be adjusted and there must be a general approximation of laws.

While these changes and adjustments need, as far as possible, to be planned in advance, they will not be undertaken suddenly. So far as can be predicted, a number of years is likely to elapse before membership of EEC can be achieved. There is also the possibility that transitional arrangements can be made to deal with any instances of special difficulty. These will be matters for negotiation. I should not like, however, to leave the Dáil or the country with the impression that the likely timetable at our disposal will permit of any relaxation in our efforts to prepare for entry to the Common Market. The five and a half years that have elapsed since we applied for membership of the Community have gone quickly and, despite the best efforts of the Government, the breathing [532] space allowed to us has not been used to the best advantage by all concerned. The period remaining to us will, I expect, be shorter and, unless the fullest possible use is made of it, we shall find that the opportunity presented by membership of the Community will be diminished and the difficulties increased. I should like to remind industrial management at this juncture that grants towards the cost of enlargement or adaptation of their enterprises may be made only if applications are received before 30th September, 1967, and approved before 31st December, 1967.

I want to say a word about the attitude of the Fine Gael Party towards entry to the EEC. As the House and the country are aware, Deputy Cosgrave, Leader of the Fine Gael Party, and a colleague visited the Commission and in advance of their visit there appeared in at least the Cork Examiner on last Saturday, and possibly in other newspapers as well, a statement.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish It is about time the Cork Examiner came into its own.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch One has to try to preserve a balance. At the end of a short article referring to the visit of Deputy Cosgrave to Brussels, it said that Mr. Cosgrave would tell the Commission that Fine Gael would actively support a policy of political integration moving towards an extension of the supranational principle to more purely political matters than at present. In this attitude, it said, Fine Gael feels that it has adopted a more advanced position than Fianna Fáil.

I should like to know whether this is an official release and, if so, if this represents the Fine Gael point of view, because, as the House and country are aware, our application was made without reservations on the political side and with only the usual request for the fullest possible use of an interim period on the economic side. In other words, we said we were prepared to comply completely with the provisions of the Treaty of Rome on the political side. This attitude of Fine Gael, in the context in which it [533] was announced, would give one the impression that Fine Gael are not only better than Fianna Fáil but that, in the context of the Treaty of Rome, they are holier than the Pope, that they want to go even farther than the Common Market countries themselves are prepared to go.

When Deputy Cosgrave is speaking, I should like him to give us some indication as to whether this, in fact, is an official release and if, in fact, he made such a proposition to the Commission and whether this myth which they have been toying with for some months, or perhaps years, of being able to get the best of both worlds— enjoying a preferential position with the United Kingdom and a preferential position with the Common Market— was discussed and whether he was given any indication by the Commission that such an arrangement would be possible. I may tell him at this stage that several times when such a suggestion was put by myself, by my predecessor and by the Minister for External Affairs, it was never acceptable. On the contrary, to use a colloquialism, it was shot down very quickly. Deputy Cosgrave will tell us to what extent his reference to this was received in any kind of acceptable or agreeable way.

I do not think I need go into any other matters. I am not going to try, at this stage, to rub the noses of the Opposition in the dust or, should I say, in the mud of South Kerry and Waterford, but I shall have an opportunity at the end of the debate to match my reply——

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish The Taoiseach is inviting it.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch I am prepared to match my reply to the tone that will have been set. The Government have received a renewed mandate to carry through their policies. These are aimed at raising production and employment and ensuring the competitiveness which is the key to the expansion of the economy. Our financial position will be kept strong. The stability in political affairs produced by the results of these two by-elections will stimulate confidence and enterprise and will enhance [534] our expansion prospects, which I have great pleasure in saying I am fully convinced are now starting to advance and will be fully restored in a short time.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave Zoom on Liam Cosgrave The task which I believe should be uppermost in our minds in this end-of-the-year review, or our national stocktaking, is to look critically and carefully at the whole economy. It is pertinent to inquire how fares the economy, what progress has been made and what indications are there that the Government are preparing the country for the challenge which is inevitable when we become members of the EEC. It is not sufficient to express comments on articles written about the Fine Gael attitude. What is important is the Government's attitude, but over and above that, it is essential that we should analyse carefully the economic and social conditions of the country as we end the year.

The Taoiseach has endeavoured to put as good a gloss as possible on the relatively few and, in the main, minor improvements in the economy. If, however, we take the evidence as disclosed by the volume of industrial production, the numbers employed in industry and the natural expectation of an increase in industrial employment, and look at the most recent figures published, we find that for the first nine months of this year, instead of the volume of industrial production increasing, there has been a decline of 0.9 per cent, that the numbers employed in industry show a stagnant figure compared with this time last year. There was in the first quarter of the year a very minor increase in production, but that was offset by a decline since. The position in respect of employment showed that in manufacturing industries, for the first six months of this year, there was a nominal increase compared with the first six months of 1965 and that, for the first nine months of this year, there was an increase in the average number of unemployment claims current of 13.8 per cent compared with the first nine months of 1965.

There are even more serious indications in the decline in a very important [535] aspect of national undertakings, that is, the very remarkable drop in the number of new houses built with State aid and the number reconstructed during the same period. It shows that for the first ten months of this year, there was a very substantial drop in the number of new houses built and a substantial decline also in the number of houses reconstructed with State aid. The number of new houses built for the first eight months of this year under State-aided schemes, compared with the first eight months of last year, showed a drop of 18 per cent; while for the first threequarters of this year, there was a decline in the home sales of cement of ten per cent. It is true, as the Taoiseach remarked, that in the earlier part of this year, there was an even more dramatic decline in the home sales of cement, which was offset to some extent by a recovery in the latter end of the year. However, the overall picture for the first eight months is a very steep drop.

One of the reasons for the decline in house-building—despite the claims, and despite the figures published in the Book of Estimates, in respect of money being, in theory, made available on an increasing level by the Government—is the fact that under the Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Acts procedure, persons anxious to build or to buy houses for themselves could not get from any loan society or from any local authority adequate financial assistance or adequate facilities with which to buy or build homes for themselves and their families. At the same time, it is common knowledge that every local authority that submitted its proposals to the Department of Local Government had the same experience as was encountered in regard to the Valentia Bridge: proposals were sent up and back, sent back for alteration, sent back for re-examination, the one aim and object being to hold up for as long as possible sanction or authority to proceed with building in respect of the plans submitted by the local authority concerned.

[536] Those are the reasons. There is an adequate supply of cement. There are more than enough building operatives available. There is a large, capable reserve of unskilled labour anxious to secure employment on building projects. But two essential ingredients are missing: adequate finance was not made available until about a week before the by-elections, when there was an announcement from the Department of Local Government; and sanction from the Department of Local Government was as difficult to get as entry into the EEC has been for this country or Britain up to the present.

That is the industrial position. There is not merely a decline in output but the position has now been reached in which this country for at least a year and a half has fallen behind the targets laid down in the Second Programme. There is no evidence whatever in respect of industrial production, and in respect of industrial affairs generally, that we will overcome that lost year and a half. The evidence is that, if anything, we are going in the wrong direction. The November Quarterly Bulletin of the Central Bank shows there was a substantial decline recorded in imported capital goods during the first half of the year, representing a decrease of 13.6 per cent.

The position is even more gloomy in agriculture. For the first eight months of this year, prices of store cattle showed a decline of over 14 per cent and of fat cattle, of over five per cent. Despite the claims made here and the references by the Taoiseach to the various measures introduced and proposals made by the Government to assist farmers, the position in respect of cattle and sheep prices is not merely gloomy, but indicates the very serious problems which farmers have had to face. As I said, prices of store cattle and fat cattle have shown a very substantial drop this year. If we look at the figures for the prices paid at present in respect of cattle, we find that the average prices per live cwt. for fat cattle offered for sale this year show a very substantial reduction. At [537] the same time, as late as October, two to three year old cattle were making £10 per head less than last year.

The Taoiseach referred to the facilities introduced by the Government to encourage the keeping of sows. It is significant that for the first eight months of this year there was a drop of just 18 per cent in respect of pigs and the total sheep flocks declined by five per cent. Even more significant was the very substantial decline in the area under tillage and under crops. There was a drop of 129,400 acres, 9.4 per cent, which followed a drop last year of 42,900 acres. Therefore, for the two years there was a drop in respect of tillage of 12.4 per cent. The three items in which the biggest decline in acreage was shown were wheat, oats and beet. Now, on 15th December, the farmers have not yet been told what prices are to operate for the coming year in respect of wheat and in respect of other crops for which prices are fixed. There has been no decision or, if there has been, it has not been announced by the Government. In one single year there was a drop of almost ten per cent and in two years a decline of 12 per cent in the area under crops. At the same time, farmers got less for cattle, less for sheep and had to pay higher rates and meet additional overheads as well. That is the situation reflected in the statistics, economic and others, that have been published. It shows that for the past year this country has not merely not advanced but that it has stood still, and in some cases there has been evidence that we have gone back.

One of the factors adverted to by the Taoiseach was the need for certain action in respect of general restraint in the economy. He quoted the recent retail sales figures to show there was some slight improvement. After the effect of high prices and the restriction of credit—the non-availability of adequate credit for building and industry—and the slight recent increase in facilities being afforded, it was inevitable that consumer consumption would increase. But in that regard it is important to note that the [538] latest figure shows that the consumer price index for the January/October period of this year increased by 3.6 per cent. The figure recently published shows that the consumer price index has again increased between August and November.

While that occurred, the agricultural price index showed a decline of 1.8 per cent. That decline was evident, as I have said, in respect of store cattle. In fact, the most recent figures indicate an even more remarkable decline. They show that, compared with last year, there was a decline in the average monthly price of store cattle of 26.3 per cent and of fat cattle of 18 per cent. These figures emphasise and show to a very considerable extent the reason for the agitation by farmers on prices and the concern felt by farmers at the position developing.

I think it is bad national politics for the Government to try to exploit the differences between the farming organisations. I believe this disunity between the farming organisations is not serving the interests of the farmers themselves and is not serving the interests of the country.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch How are the Government exploiting the differences?

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave Zoom on Liam Cosgrave There is ample evidence of an effort on the part of the Government to play off one against the other. That was evident in the manner in which representatives of one organisation were received and certain representations received and consideration given in respect of the group established to consider the two-tier price for milk.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch That is common to both organisations.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam Cosgrave Zoom on Liam Cosgrave Farmers outside know this was a deliberate effort to try to exploit the differences between the two organisations. I do not believe that is good from the national point of view. It may have had temporary advantages in the political consequences for Fianna Fáil but I believe that, in national terms, it is bad.

[539] What I really want to address myself to now is the lack of preparations in respect of our possible entry into the EEC. I personally am not responsible for any views expressed by anyone or any comments written that are not authorised in a published statement. So far as my visit to the EEC with Senator FitzGerald is concerned our anxiety was to try to ascertain from first-hand information and consultation the present position and the likely prospects and in no sense to present a contrary view to the application made on behalf of the country by the Government. We made it quite clear to the Commission that the main Opposition supported the application made on behalf of this country and that we had, so far as the application was concerned, equal anxiety from the national point of view that this country should be admitted at the earliest practicable date. In that connection, I should like to express my appreciation of and thanks for the facilities afforded by the officers of the Department of External Affairs and the help and assistance in making arrangements which was forthcoming with the usual courtesy from the Department.

The position, as we see it, is that the recent change of approach by the British Government, to use a description so often employed nowadays, would re-activate the British application. In these circumstances, it seems, from the information we had and the discussions involved, that it is essential that, once that application is re-activated, we should initiate discussions or consultations on the application of this country. There are two vital matters so far as this country is concerned. One was referred to by the Taoiseach, that is, the industrial position. The EEC authorities are, in the main, experienced in industrial problems as they apply to countries that are members of the EEC or that are separated only by a land frontier. So far as this country is concerned, there is a very clear distinction. We are a small country beside a large industrial nation. We can suffer and have suffered the very worst results [540] of that proximity in dumping and in unfair competition.

It seems to me that the vital task for this country is, in the first place, to increase industrial efficiency at every level and as speedily as possible in every sphere of industrial activity and, over and above that, we have to negotiate vigorously and consistently, sustained by constant discussions and negotiations. This is the one criticism that I feel we have made and are entitled to make, that, in the main, until quite recent months, until possibly the debate initiated in the Seanad by Senator FitzGerald and Senator Dooge in respect of our application to the EEC, by and large, our diplomatic and external affairs activities were beamed on the United Nations rather than on Brussels and Europe. There is some evidence in recent months of a change in that emphasis and that direction.

The EEC officials read all the relevant debates, discussions and proceedings not merely of this Parliament but of other Parliaments and are naturally influenced to some extent by the discussions and debates which take place in these Assemblies. Once negotiations are recommenced, or when the British application is re-activated, it is imperative that we should press our case vigorously for certain advantages in respect of the transitional period. It is true, as was referred to by the Taoiseach this morning, and as we emphasised to the officials of the Commission this week, that, under the Trade Agreement with Britain, we have a transitional period expiring in 1975 in relation to tariffs and it is essential that, should we join the EEC, comparable transitional provisions will be granted in respect of the EEC membership.

But, over and above that—and this, I believe, is the factor the EEC people are not so familiar with—is the vulnerability of this country which is in close proximity to a very large industrial nation with a long industrial tradition. There is the question of the relatively small size of the market itself and of the industrial units of this country compared with those in [541] Britain. The provisions in Article 26 of the Rome Treaty may not provide adequate guarantees or adequate safeguards against dumping.

There is the other serious problem in respect of EEC membership for this country of the export tax reliefs which apply to industrial exports up to 1980 and, in respect of Shannon, until 1983. There is a contractual obligation on this country which must be met in repect of industrial exports and which would have to be taken into account in any EEC arrangement. Outside of that, with the exception of certain high quality products, the prospects for agriculture would, in the main, appear to be reasonably good. I believe there is here a question which requires some consideration. Although there is no evidenced from any discussions we had with the EEC, nevertheless it is obvious that EEC price policies on livestock this year have militated seriously against the interests of our farmers and the interests of our producers. I do not suggest that there is any prospect of any relaxation or alteration in that situation but, at any rate, I feel we ought to endeavour to have our position fully explained to the EEC, and, if it is possible to secure a remedy either in respect of applications, such as the application to admit 2,000 head of cattle to Germany, or in any other respect, then the matter should be pursued as vigorously as possible.

There is also the general conclusion, which was obvious from any information we had from the officials concerned, that—and this, I believe, applies particularly to the British application—if ultimately an arrangement is made under which Britain becomes a member, once decisions are taken it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get these decisions and arrangements altered by subsequent talks. It is for these reasons that I believe it is essential that our negotiations should be initiated and carried on, if not before, certainly simultaneously with, the reactivation of the British application.

There are, of course, a number of [542] other questions that require to be considered and steps which must be taken to bring this country into line with the member countries. Some of them were referred to here in connection with industrial and labour relations but there is also the general social question. Under the Rome Treaty, it is laid down that once a country becomes a member, the principle of equality of pay for women and men will operate. There is an obligation on member countries, not merely to operate such a system, but to ensure that it is maintained. There is in this country at the moment a general shortage of female labour, while there is a surplus of male labour. It is universal experience that, when men leave certain employment, women leave also. In that regard the Government have failed to implement or carry into effect any of the recommendations on prices and incomes advocated and recommended by the NIEC and, in particular, have failed to take action in respect of Report No. 11 and to deal with the problem in respect of both non-wages income and wages. There has been failure to take action, to provide a headline and to undertake the work necessary to carry this matter to its conclusion.

During the course of his remarks, the Taoiseach referred to industrial relations and the fact that he and his predecessor and various Ministers, including the late Deputy Norton when he was Minister for Industry and Commerce, had endeavoured to get an agreement acceptable both to the employers and to the trade unions. It is remarkable that during the last two-year period covered by the Labour Court Report, this country had the worst industrial record of any country of the OECD. That position is exemplified by the loss of man-hours involved and by the fact that, during that two-year period, the number of days lost was greater than in the six-year period which preceded it.

It is significant that the time covered by that report commenced with the agreement which was stimulated or encouraged by the previous Taoiseach, for political purposes, at the end of [543] 1963 and the beginning of 1964, but equally significant are the figures for OECD activities for the current year, which show that, with slight exceptions, for the second quarter of this year, in respect of Belgium, the Netherlands and Britain, the only country that shows a decline in industrial production during that period is ourselves, that of all the OECD countries, and that includes some EEC countries and others, the only one that shows a decline is this country.

I believe that the picture painted here by the Taoiseach this morning was an attempt to put the best gloss possible on the present economic position and the record of the Government, as was natural in view of the responsibility which the Government have for the guidance and implementation of national policy. In that regard I believe that the general concern of this Government has been far too much with politics and far too little with the national interest.

Quite recently, the Committee of Public Accounts published its latest report and only this morning we had the Appropriation Accounts before the House. Ministers are continually making speeches at functions, lecturing industrialists and trade unionists, employers, farmers and other sections, on the importance of being more efficient and more competitive, of bringing their techniques and systems up to date. As an example of efficiency, here are three items for which the Government are responsible. Is respect of Templemore Barracks, the expenditure to date on reconstructing and renovating amounted to over £600,000; architects' fees came to £57,900. The swimming pool there is still defective. The original estimate for the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, was revised from £20,000 to £40,000 and the work has now cost £180,000. For Limerick Custom House, which I believe is 200 years old, the estimate was £7,000; the final cost was £28,600. These are three specific instances. There are many more examples, including an arrangement, to which there is reference in the recent Appropriation Accounts, in [544] respect of grants under the heifer scheme.

Some claim was made here by the Taoiseach that cattle stocks have improved. That is true, but I believe that there are more scrub cattle in this country today than at any time before the introduction of the Livestock Breeding Act, and that at a time when the quality of our meat and the quality of our products must face more intense competition and more high quality competition from EEC countries. In fact, this year one of the problems created by the increase in Argentine shipments of meat to Europe was the fact that it was possible for countries like Italy to get leaner and more satisfactory meat from the Argentine than they could get from this country. If that is the situation, how do we expect to compete at a time when, as was admitted, in the equphemistic phrase used by the former Minister for Agriculture, there has been some decline in the quality of the cattle?

The position is that so far as we are concerned we welcome informed criticism. Politicians, whether in Government or in Opposition, are at times in need of informed and constructive criticism, but it should be informed and it should be constructive. Some of the comments made by people who wrote on recent political events showed that they were completely out of touch with the political feeling in the constituencies concerned. They expressed views on the possible outcome and showed that, if they had visited the constituencies, they did not understand what was happening or, if they did, that sentiment and opinion was ruling and overriding facts. That is bad. It is bad for political journalists, bad for commentators.

The most significant feature of the past 12 months has been the sustained and continuous growth in the Fine Gael vote. That was shown in the Presidential election and it has been followed up by an equally impressive increase in Waterford and South Kerry. In Waterford, our support increased by 2,200 votes, and in South Kerry, by over 1,100. I have expressed the view that the workers' interests, the interests [545] of the people whose conditions we are all anxious to see improved, would be secured and sustained by encouraging them to support the Fine Gael candidates after they have voted for their own Labour candidates. I believe it is bad from the point of view of the workers and from the point of view of the system of proportional representation that we operate here that they should plump their votes and then stop. That course is negative and futile. The interests of our workers are best served by encouraging them to vote clearly and definitely.

Our record has been supported on an increasing scale in the past 12 months by these expressions of public confidence. The only Party that has increased its support from the voters is Fine Gael. That support was increased in the Presidential election and twice in the recent by-elections. There was an absolute decline in the support for Fianna Fáil and, to some extent, in the support for the Labour Party. The position now is that the Government have struggled back by methods that reflect the worst of Tammany Hall. That is not a credit to the nation or to Fianna Fáil, and I do not think it is any credit to those individuals who went around in the recent by-elections threatening the old people and the poor people that, if they did not vote for Fianna Fáil, they would lose their pensions. The only Government who reduced pensions is the present Government which, when the British Government increased pensions, reduced social welfare benefits to recipients of these pensions in this country.

We are satisfied with the increase in our support. It is continuous and widespread and it will continue to be shown on a much wider scale and to such an extent that the present Government will realise that in the recent two by-elections they purchased at a very heavy cost only a very brief further period of life.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish We can understand the elation of the Taoiseach in having won the two by-elections. The Taoiseach has invited some comment about the [546] by-elections but I do not intend to follow him along that particular line. In the past few minutes, however, there has been some criticism of those who voted Labour because they were plumpers. The count showed that they were plumpers but I wonder how many plumpers there were among those who voted for Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael? I am not sure and I wonder if the Fine Gael scrutineers Know how many of their own voters were plumpers. It is significant that Deputy Cosgrave referred to these plumpers as the workers, more or less admitting that the Labour Party are the workers' Party. I have no apology to make for what the Labour Party did in the recent by-elections or in the Presidential or general elections. We instructed the people to vote Labour—period. If they did vote Labour and stop there, that is their business. We declared ourselves to be an independent Party and I have no apology to make for that.

I do not know why the extravagant claims are being made by Fine Gael. They did get a big vote in the Presidential election and I am sure that much of that support may have come from the Labour Party but I do not think that anybody could subdivide the Labour vote as between Mr. de Valera and Deputy O'Higgins, and Mr. de Valera also got a big vote in the Presidential election.

The Taoiseach seemed to be elated by the results of the by-elections but I do not think the result of these elections is of any great significance in the country as a whole. It is of some significance in the two constituencies themselves. I am satisfied that in any constituency where there is a by-election, the Government use all sorts of methods, some of them methods which should not be used, to secure votes. This was done in a very widespread way in the last two by-elections. There was a concentration of practically all the Cabinet in the two constituencies and all the Mercedes and Ford cars were called into operation. I do not know whether it is right or wrong that people in a small constituency [547] should be stampeded in this way. I admit that we could not match the resources of the Government in the by-election. It was not a question of policy and we could not pretend that we could match the resources of the Fianna Fáil Party and their hangerson who were anxious to protect their investment in that Party.

I am disappointed in the Taoiseach. He referred to the Labour Party recently and said that Deputy Corish seemed to want changes but that the Government were not going to change for the sake of change. Despite the by-elections and the way he and his Ministers carried on in the by-elections, there is need for a change, for a sharp change in this country. I listed the changes that were necessary on 10th November and we have made suggestions with regard to industry in particular, social welfare, health and agriculture. Some of these suggestions have been accepted by the Government, but we believe that unless our proposals, particularly in respect of industry, are adopted, we will continue to have the same condition of increasing unemployment.

The Taoiseach referred to this matter and said that the increase in unemployment had declined. It is not true compared with last year. We are still running about 2,500 extra registered unemployed.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch It is down by half now.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish It is not down by half. With all due respect to the Taoiseach, if he reads the document we all get every week, and particularly the one for last week, he will discover that we have approximately 2,500 more unemployed than we had in the same period last year.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman There is no doubt about that. The Taoiseach does not even understand his own figures.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch I do not like to interrupt Deputy Corish, but Deputy Sweetman loves to suggest that only he understand figures.

[548]Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman No, but the Taoiseach obviously does not understand these figures.

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

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch I shall explain what I mean by the decline when I come to reply.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish The Government are now getting down to work. I am not complaining about their activities in the by-elections, but it appears to me that for two-and-half weeks they were down in the South doing the ordinary work of canvassing and bringing people to the polls, whereas they should have been here in Dublin looking after their own Departments. It appears to me they are engaged far too much in attendances at public functions. I know that, to some extent, attendance is necessary. The Taoiseach has, I suppose, the excuse that he is brand new and has to appear at certain functions, but, by and large, I believe our Ministers are not at their desks long enough.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch I was at three functions since I was appointed Taoiseach.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish Then I do not understand figures if the Taoiseach was at only three functions since he was appointed. I should like to have a written reply to that one.

Mr. Crotty: Information on Patrick J. Crotty Zoom on Patrick J. Crotty What is the definition of a function?

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish Exactly. I should like to take the Taoiseach up on this business of an incomes policy. He warned us of the dangers of an increase in incomes. I often wonder what the Government mean when they say they adopt certain recommendations made by the various commissions. The NIEC, an admirable body in my opinion, have made very many recommendations to the Government and the Government have said, in respect of these, that they accept them. If the Taoiseach is so concerned about an incomes policy and if the Government accept, as they say they do, the recommendations [549] with regard to an incomes policy, then I think it is about time they took steps to implement that policy. May I make this criticism? Restraint in incomes is always directed to wage and salary earners. I say that without qualification. I did not hear a word this morning from the Taoiseach about excessive profits.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch Zoom on John Lynch That comes under incomes.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish The Taoiseach was talking about restraint in wage demands this morning and he spoke about industrial unrest. Deputy Cosgrave also spoke about that. I think we should now ask ourselves, why? I suppose it is true that in the past two years we have had the worst record of industrial unrest of all the countries of the OECD and I think we have got to ask ourselves, why? I do not know whether Deputy Cosgrave or the Taoiseach has ever been engaged in negotiations for wages or conditions of employment. If the Taoiseach has been engaged in these, he should at least understand why we have had this industrial unrest in the past two years.

In my view, and I am close to it, it is because workers have genuine grievances. Mark you, they do not go on strike for fun. The workers have responsibility for this industrial unrest; the management, as the Taoiseach said, have responsibility. But the Government have responsibility as well and, if there has been industrial unrest in the past two years, the Government must take the main share of responsibility for it. I say that because, after the eighth round of wage increases in the beginning of 1964, the Government did absolutely nothing to ensure that this would be a real wage increase and, because they did not take any action—or, if they did take action, they took it too late—that meant that what did follow must naturally follow, the ninth round in the beginning of this year.

I know that the trade union movement, the workers, the Government and everybody in the country want to [550] see a better type of industrial relations legislation but, no matter how perfect it may appear to be, and I know the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the employers and the Minister for Labour are trying to ensure they will get an agreed code, in the ultimate, it will depend on good relations between the employer and the employee; these good relations can be cultivated, in my opinion, only during times of industrial peace and not, as many people think, or seem to pretend, during times when there is in fact industrial unrest.

For the past few years we have been operating in this country on the Second Programme for Economic Expansion. I trust the Taoiseach will find time to talk about the revision of this programme or, at least, the targets, when he comes to reply. I was outside the House this morning for five or ten minutes during the course of his opening speech, but I do not think he referred to this particular matter this morning. About two months ago, the former Taoiseach, Deputy Lemass, told us the targets were being reviewed. It is about time we had some results of that review. I spoke earlier of the dropping of the targets as an admission of failure on the part of the Government, particularly as far as employment was concerned, because it appeared to me from the beginning that we just could not reach a target of 78,000 jobs for the ten-year period between 1960 and 1970.

The Taoiseach called this morning for greater production. Again, I think that should be defined and the responsibility should be placed wherever it ought to be placed. If the inference is that workers are not working hard enough, that should be stated; if the inference is that industry is not geared in the proper way to ensure better production, that should be stated. Calls for increased production without detailing the reasons for lack of production and without detailing the means to ensure increased production are absolutely useless.

On the question of incomes, the NIEC recommended that there should be a continuance of price control. All the evidence I have goes to show that [551] the price control machinery and the legislation at the disposal of the Minister for Industry and Commerce towards that end are not being used to proper effect. We had an example yesterday in this House when the Minister for Industry and Commerce answered a question about the price of flour. We trust he will apply this particular machinery of price control in the proper way to ensure that this increase will not be allowed unless it is absolutely justified. In respect of other commodities, it appears to me that the Minister for Industry and Commerce is doing very little indeed. The type of machinery given to the Minister under this particular legislation was relatively new, but I do not know whether or not there was any increase in his staff. I do not know what machinery there is to find out what price increases have, in fact, taken place or to ensure that increases do not take place.

As far as agriculture is concerned, I do not think anybody knows what is going on. The discussions that have taken place between the Taoiseach, the Minister for Agriculture and the NFA appear to have been pretty vague, as far as the general public are concerned. We can all make our own comments with regard to the type of demonstration and say whether or not we agree with it, but the House should be given the opportunity of knowing exactly what the NFA demands are and what exactly is the attitude of the Government towards them.

As far as assistance to agriculture is concerned, I believe it is applied absolutely in all the wrong ways. I do not say there should be an absolute means test but, of the £56 million applied to agriculture this year, it appears to me those who are getting it do not really need it and the small farmer, over whom crocodile tears are shed, does not appear to me to be getting what he needs at all. If we are to ensure that the small farmer, the farmer with the modest holding, will play his part in [552] increased and cheaper production of agricultural produce, we must be prepared to assist him in a bigger way than hitherto.

The former Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Haughey, suggested here recently that he was thinking of changing the method of application of assistance to the agricultural community by placing the emphasis on the small farmer and grading assistance downwards, so to speak, to the big farmer. The sooner that is done the better because capital is a very important factor in the application of loans and grants. If a man has not the initial capital, he does not feel it worthwhile to apply for the loan.

Nobody could deny that there must be a change in policy as far as housing is concerned. Money is not the only problem. If we continue in the same strain in regard to building houses, the problem is not going to be solved in the lifetime of even the youngest Deputy. The Taoiseach has a responsibility to tell us what new plans, if any, there are to ensure that houses will be provided quickly.

Deputy Cosgrave quoted the figures for houses and showed a decrease in the number built by local authorities and private individuals. The Taoiseach will have to tell us whether that situation is to continue or whether there is to be a prospect of people without homes getting them in the immediate future. We have had nothing over the past four or five years but talk and words from the former Minister for Local Government but we did not get houses. If it is a question of money, that should be said. The Minister for Local Government has deliberately held up the building of houses, while at the same time saying that there was no shortage of money for any local authority or individual who wanted to build houses.

It seems peculiar that, while it takes such a long time to finalise the building of ten or 12 houses, some person who comes to Dublin and demolishes three or four houses is able to erect an office block in the record time of four, [553] five or 12 months. As far as building is concerned, the Taoiseach should declare that housing is a priority. This is an emergency. I am sure he will remember that after the last war there was a state of emergency to the extent that it was necessary to get a departmental permit to build big offices or for reconstruction or reconditioning purposes. All our forces and energies and all the money available in this sector should be applied to the erection of houses by local authorities and private individuals.

We have heard from various Ministers that there is to be a new health scheme. When is it going to happen? A change of Ministers in a Department such as the Department of Health where a change of scheme is proposed is not desirable. It appears as if the new Minister for Health, Deputy Flanagan, is to go through the same process as the former Minister. This means further delay. The Taoiseach will remember that after the 1961 elections, two motions were tabled here, one by ex-Deputy Frank Sherwin, who then supported the Government, and the other by Deputy Kyne, urging the establishment of a committee to make recommendations in regard to the changes which should be made in the health scheme. That Committee was sabotaged by the then Minister for Health, Deputy MacEntee and did not make any report. In the final analysis, it was recommended by the then Taoiseach, Deputy Lemass, that it should wind up. It is a waste of time and effort to go through that process if we are to wait until the Minister for Health goes to all the different health authorities and if it is to be another issue in the next general election.

We have advocated a certain type of health scheme; Fianna Fáil want another type; and Fine Gael may want yet another type; but all of us are agreed that an improvement is needed. If improvements are suggested, the Taoiseach can rest assured that he will get the support of the Labour Party, and the same applies to social welfare schemes. On 10th November. I suggested that as far as social welfare [554] items were concerned, we in the Labour Party believed that there should be a special Budget and the Minister for Education, Deputy O'Malley, suggested that these should be contributed to by the taxpayer in the form of a special tax. There should be a special social welfare Budget so that people will understand that, if there is to be an improved health scheme or educational scheme or an improved social welfare code, they will be required to pay for it by means of a special tax.

The evidence down the years has been—on all too few occasions—that as long as we knew the particular project or scheme to which money raised through taxation was being devoted we were prepared to vote for it. As far as taxation is concerned, Fianna Fáil, and I think, Fine Gael, although I am not certain about them, want to see the emphasis on indirect taxation. We do not want that. We believe there is too much emphasis on indirect taxation. Such taxes as the turnover tax and the wholesale tax fall as an equal burden on all individuals and sections but the poor people cannot take that sort of tax, particularly when it is on essential foodstuffs and clothing, as well as can those in the higher income bracket. The income tax code should be reviewed because as it stands the wage earner has to pay proportionately more than the fellow who has to pay surtax or is in the higher-income bracket.

The Taoiseach spoke about the great success of the National Loan. Granted that it was a great success, in the circumstances in which we found ourselves in this House, and for the national good, we advised people to support it. On reflection, however, it can be said that it was no great achievement to have it fully subscribed. If I had the same financial resources as a lot of these people have, I would not mind investing my money at 7½ per cent, at a guaranteed return over a short period. I do not want to make a great point about this but I want to say that it is no great indication of the confidence of the people in the Government to say that they [555] invested some £24 million at 7½ per cent.

The Taoiseach and Deputy Cosgrave spoke about our renewed interest in the European Economic Community. We have a motion on the Order Paper in regard to our application for membership and, after the Recess, I wish the Government, as this is non-controversial, would give Government time to discuss this very important matter. I do not think we have taken the matter seriously since we first made our application for membership. Interest in the matter has gone up and down, according as the British showed renewed signs of interest in their admission to the Community. The Taoiseach must admit that this Party stated, because we believed it, that sufficient preparation was not being made by the industrialists to equip themselves for membership of the Community. The Taoiseach listed again the aids which the Government were prepared to give and nobody could consider these to be ungenerous but again let me insist that this does not appear to be enough.

He knows that; the Minister for Industry and Commece knows it, as do various other Minister. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Hillery, knows it because I have read many of his speeches, particularly at gatherings of industrialists and similar functions, where he exhorted them to avail of the assistance that was there to be given by the Government. If they do not avail of it, we shall have to go further. Unlike what I think the Taoiseach implied in a recent speech, I do not want to interfere unduly with private enterprise but what is to be done if private enterprise in certain cases does not take the necessary steps to ensure that it will survive, if and when we go into the EEC? It will be no consolation to say that we are a private enterprise economy. That will be no consolation for the workers who may be disemployed. I do not suggest the State should take over these firms but it should try to take more positive steps to ensure that adequate preparation [556] will be made, if and when we join EEC.

I do not want to dwell too long on this but we had to drag information out of the former Taoiseach about the EEC. He was so reluctant to give it that we deduced from his reluctance and his insistence that we were going into the EEC that we were going in with our hands up. It appears to me that we could not go in and accept in toto every single Article in the Treaty of Rome. I know there are provisions which ensure that certain of the arrangements for membership would not be applied as harshly to a country such as ours, but I believe we shall have to negotiate, bearing in mind our deficiencies. We should not be reluctant to admit these deficiencies in our economy. Some of them were mentioned by Deputy Cosgrave this morning. Perhaps the Taoiseach would indicate that in view of the urgency, now that application for membership of EEC is proposed by Britain and, in consequence, by us, we should have two or three days of debate on this whole question when the Dáil resumes on February 8th. I have been brief deliberately because I do not like repeating what I said a few weeks ago.

Only a small but very important matter remains that I should like to raise with the Taoiseach. It is the simple matter of the 5/- for the non-contributory old age pensioners. It is pathetic that so many of these pensioners have been disappointed. They have approached so many Deputies and Senators. Every post I get includes two or three letters from unfortunate people who believe they should have got the 5/- increase. I do not know what it would cost to give the 5/-at least to all who are on the maximum pension. Incidentally, in my letters this morning I had one from the Department of Social Welfare in reply to a question I had raised about a particular woman who had no means. She did not believe she had any means but the Department said she owned her own house. We are going a little too far in invoking such a stringent means test. Here is a poor [557] creature of 65 or 70, and just because she owns her own house—I suppose as a result of a lifetime of effort by herself and her husband—she is told she cannot get the 5/- even though she has no income.

I am sure the Taoiseach heard these complaints himself, if he knocked at as many doors as the Minister for Labour did, in South Kerry and Waterford. If even at this stage the Taoiseach decides to give the 5/- at least to those in receipt of maximum non-contributory pensions, and if he comes in with an emergency proposal for the raising of that money, no matter in what form or on what commodity, we as a Party will support him fully. We believed that this 5/- was to be paid to all who received the full pension. I do not want to make any political point—the by-elections are over—but no matter what measure he introduces to get that money in order to give the 5/- to these people, he will have our unqualified support.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe Zoom on Ben Briscoe I intend to be very brief. This year has seen the Fianna Fáil Government govern in a manner of which they can well be proud. I say this because of the fact that with the international situation as serious as it was, if we had underacted or overacted, it would have had a very serious effect. As it happens, the situation abroad has improved and the Government have brought us through quite a serious recession very well without the loss of employment for our people or the closing down of industries which happened on a previous occasion.

I heard some comments about the conduct of the two by-elections and some rather poor allegations, particularly by Fine Gael who have an uncanny knack of always trying to turn defeat into victory.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte The Deputy was not in Killarney last Thursday.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe Zoom on Ben Briscoe I have heard and read many of those things. There is such a thing as recourse to the law if any of these allegations can be sustained. The fact is that Fianna Fáil won the two by-elections in extremely difficult [558] circumstances. By-elections have a way of going against the Government. In spite of this, not only did we retain the seat in South Kerry but we won the Fine Gael seat in Waterford.

Fianna Fáil have never been reluctant to tell the people the truth and paint the picture as it actually is. The people have learned to trust Fianna Fáil as their years in government testify.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte I wonder would Mr. Courtney outside Killarney testify to that, an independent member of Kerry County Council?

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe Zoom on Ben Briscoe I was in Waterford myself.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte I thought I heard—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan I must ask Deputy Harte to cease interrupting.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe Zoom on Ben Briscoe This year, the Government have been pursuing with tremendous activity their programme in all Departments, Health, Social Welfare, External Affairs, Labour, Industry and Commerce, Posts and Telegraphs, Transport and Power and vast improvements have been seen in all these Departments. I should particularly like to deal with one which is most important to all of us, that is, Labour. Nobody can deny that there has been an urgent need for something to be done regarding labour/management relations. The Taoiseach made a point which cannot be emphasised too frequently, that is, the need in modern industry for a personnel department or personnel manager to bring about a liaison between the personnel in the factory and those in the manager's office. It is very important that there be someone to look after the interests of the workers in each factory and to see that they get all that is necessary to ensure their comfort. The appointment of a personnel manager is very desirable and it is an office that has not been referred to frequently enough, in my opinion.

We know the long history of the efforts of various Ministers for Industry and Commerce to reach some sort [559] of agreement with the unions on the kind of legislation that is needed. There is no doubt in any of our minds that there is a need for a change in legislation. We have heard many suggestions from many people with whom we have come in contact. I have been approached by hundreds of people who have said: “Why do the Government not do this? Why do the Government not do that?” As soon as the Government do this or that, these people disappear, and a new lot come along and say: “Why did the Government do this or that?” It is not the easiest job to govern.

The workers belonging to these unions should be conscious of what their union leaders are up to and follow very closely the kind of proposals, if any, the union leaders are, in turn, putting forward to the Government for consideration. It is something which must be worked out between the workers' representatives and the Minister, and to which I know he has given a lot of attention. It is very important also that a spirit of co-operation is maintained at all times and that the worker realises that every single piece of legislation affecting the worker, factory hours, etc., was brought in by Fianna Fáil. Holidays with pay and so on, all these things were brought in by Fianna Fáil. Therefore the worker should not be misled into thinking that the Fianna Fáil Government are trying to take his rights away. We want to ensure his rights, his comfort and his prosperity.

Deputy Corish deprecated the turnover tax as a method of tax collection and said the working man is very much affected by this form of indirect taxation. I would argue that point with him on the ground that indirect taxation means simply that the more money you have to spend, the more tax you pay and the less money you have to spend, the less tax you pay. We have many people coming over to Ireland from Britain on holidays who purchase a lot of our products on which they pay tax, so that there is a large income in the form of tax from tourists.

[560] I should like again to compliment the Government on the tremendous job they have done this year in maintaining the capital development which has been taking place, our investment in the future. As each year passes by, many of these industries will be paying off and by 1980, many of these companies will be contributing very substantially to the Exchequer, apart from the tremendous contribution they will be making on the home market by giving employment to our people. I hear criticism sometimes from people who ask: “Why give foreigners money? Why not give it to our own people?” The policy of the Government as I see it is simply this: if somebody wants to come into this country to start an industry, first of all, it is necessary for him to be a success in his own country; in other words, if you need the money, you do not get it; if you do not need the money, you get it. This is fair enough because we only want people over here——

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte That will surely appear in the next issue of Dublin Opinion.

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe Zoom on Ben Briscoe It is a good quote, because what we want is people who are a known success in their own country. We do not want people who have no record of success in industry to come here and get money, or, for that matter, people in this country who have no history of success to be given grants to which they would not be entitled on any basis of fair play. If they have not succeeded in building a business for themselves, how can they expect the Government to give them money and say: “Build yourself a business”?

There is another point which should be emphasised here. Is it better to have the Irishman working for the foreigner in the foreigner's country or for the Irishman to be working for the foreigner in his own country? This is the choice. The people of this country are not fools. I believe this particularly in view of the excellent results of the two by-elections. I am satisfied the [561] people have seen that the Government are acting at all times in their best interests without any thought for any particular sector of the community. No Government should set itself up to represent a sector of the community but should represent all the people.

I should like to take this opportunity of congratulating each of the Ministers of the Government on the excellent job he has done this year, particularly the esteemed Minister for Labour, Dr. Hillery.

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay We end the 1966 session of Dáil Éireann in a remarkable way. It has been a year of remarkable happenings, remarkable for their pressures and for their results. However, so far in this debate we have listened to speeches from the Taoiseach, Deputy Cosgrave and Deputy Corish, followed then by a eulogy from Deputy Briscoe who chose the Minister who is present for his highest praise.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery Would you blame him?

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay Not necessarily deserved, nor would it necessarily happen that if somebody else was present, the praise would not have been of the highest also. Listening to the Taoiseach's speech this morning in his scant review of the state of the nation, I can say it consisted very largely of shadow-boxing, with a sort of threat that if anybody mentioned the by-elections, he would deal with them at the end. That sort of tactic, I suppose, is fair enough in the world of politics, but he obviously expects some comment upon them. Deputy Cosgrave replied to that with heavy body punches. Then we had Deputy Corish indulging in more or less an electoral apologia.

Be that as it may, the situation as I see it reminds me of a poem I learned very many years ago, “The Lotus Eaters”. It would appear that the lotus was a special bloom in those areas of classical mythology where the consumers immediately got into some sort of euphoria and, as described in the poem, “sat like gods together regardless of mankind.” Thus would I describe the Fianna Fáil Party as the lotus eaters of 1966, because they sit [562] on the hillsides together like gods regardless of mankind.

One could not help but be amused by the pithy effort of Deputy Briscoe congratulating all and sundry on the wonderful successes achieved during this year. One must be particularly amused by his reference to the Fianna Fáil Party as a Party of all the people and not for any section of the people. The Fianna Fáil Party as I know them —lotus eaters notwithstanding—are a Party in power for the benefit of members of the Fianna Fáil Party, and nobody else. The nation is not their concern. Power is their real concern, and to hold it is a very real concern with them. That is obvious from campaigns that have been held in recent times.

The Taoiseach referred to the EEC and to the visit of Deputy Cosgrave and Senator Garret FitzGerald to the Community within the last week. The reference, I thought, contained a certain element of derision. But is not this, unless I am very gravely mistaken, the first time that the Leader of the Opposition and a member of his Party have gone without Government aid outside the country to learn what is happening and to come back and, as a result of what they learned, to advise the people of the true position? It is true there was on another occasion, when there was no EEC, when there was no need for it, a self-inflicted holy man tour of the world, accompanied by his fidus Achates of those days, who developed such an anxiety for globetrotting that he has rarely returned since.

The Taoiseach expresses the view that in some way we ought to be thankful that our application for membership of EEC was not received immediately, or almost immediately, it was made because we were given additional time in which to prepare. He said the Government had lost no opportunity of urging on the various members of our community, industrial and agricultural, to gear themselves for our forthcoming membership of EEC. Additional time to prepare— and then he goes on and says that at this moment a White Paper is or [563] White Papers are, in process of preparation in order to tell the people what the advantages will be and what the difficulties may be, if and when we enter the Common Market.

We made our application five and a half years ago. Is it good enough then to make a claim on behalf of the Government that we have lost no opportunity of advising and urging the people what to do, when we now find them after five and a half years simply in the process of preparing White Papers in relation to the workings of the Community? It is true industries are being urged to gear themselves and adapt themselves to changing conditions. But I think any industry worthy of the name has been doing that down the years and has been doing it since long before our application for membership was made. No industry would be worthy of the name if it was not making the day-to-day, month-to-month and year-to-year preparations and alterations necessary to secure for itself a place in the competitive world of the Community. Industry is doing that. It has been urged by the Government and various Ministers from time to time. But this urging has always taken the general form of advising and pointing out that the competition will be keen. Nowhere, unless we get it in these White Papers, has there been any attempt at detailed leadership of our people. In our view, detailed leadership in this regard is absolutely necessary.

We in the Fine Gael Party see no sign from this Government of advice, guidance or leadership to the rural community as to what they may expect, and how they may expect it, in the event of our going into the Common Market. Absolutely nothing has been done in that regard. The Government who could not plan a heifer scheme advantageously for the small farmer can hardly be regarded as a repository of wisdom to advise him generally on the onset of membership of the Community.

How will our fishery interests be affected by membership of EEC? We have certain limits around our coasts [564] confined to our own fishermen and inside which foreign fishermen are not permitted to come. What is to happen to those limits if we enter the Common Market? Will the fishing people of The Six—and even at this moment there are many of them operating around our coast—be able to come in willy-nilly and fish away as if there were no limits at all? What preparation is being made with regard to major harbours and the provision of fishing boats of comparable size and equipment with those of some members of the Community, in order to put our people in a position to compete with them? That I would regard as extremely important, particularly in relation to the western coast from Donegal to Cork. Indeed, it is important for the whole coast, but particularly for the West, where the people by and large down the years have not been able, through no fault of their own but because of a shortage of capital and equipment, because of too small farms and too small boats, to withstand the economic barrage of our times. These are things about which information is necessary and which we look forward to seeing in the White Papers promised to us.

A debate of this kind naturally should review what has been happening. As Deputy Cosgrave said, there is no doubt there has been less housing, both State-aided and private enterprise. Health is in a state of stagnation. Social welfare is even worse, having regard to the promises, on the one hand, and the ensuing uncertainty, on the other. But in regard to housing development and planning, there is a considerable amount of disturbance at the manner in which planning is allowed in some cases and disallowed in others. The whole operation is extremely suspect. Whether that will improve, as a result of the recent reshuffle of the Cabinet, remains to be seen.

As Deputy Corish has rightly said, this Government are wasting time in relation to health planning by the appointment of another Minister who [565] is spending his time going through the same motions as his predecessor went through in his time. Our policy in this regard is known and published. But you do not develop a policy, I think, by sending a Minister, on his appointment, around to the various health authorities of the country to ascertain what they want. Surely that must be well known already? It is a waste of time process. Of course, the real reason for it is that there is not any money to implement any scheme of any worthwhile size and that is where this Government, I think, have fallen down. They are in power—but only just. They have not reviewed the financial situation at any time or, if they have done so, they have not made public the results of that review. In other words, they have not kept, they are not keeping and it looks as if they will not keep faith with the people. Instead, they paint this rosy picture of being almost out of the wood. Deputy Briscoe has just said that this Government have successfully brought us through a recession. I did not know that we were out of that recession, and indeed we are not. Obviously, however, you must have somebody to pop up now and again to pat you on the back and to say: “Well done” but all the pats on the back and all the expressions of “well done” will not assure the people that everything is right when they themselves know the difficulties with regard to the demands upon the income they have from whatever source. There is the problem of a continuous rise in the cost of living. The Taoiseach today asked that there should not be any demand for increases in income, certainly for some time, and, while it was said with all the grace of a homily, it would not surprise me if it were the forerunner of a Standstill Order, so beloved of the Fianna Fáil Party in economic circumstances such as those in which we are now living.

Social welfare affects the most defenceless of our community. In social welfare, the conduct of this Government has been nothing short of disgraceful. Banner headlines appear in the newspapers around Budget time of 5/- more for the old age pensioners. In [566] reply to a question at that time, the then Minister for Social Welfare said that 21,000 people were likely to benefit from it. So far, only 10,000 have got it. They will not get this automatically, although, on the files of the Department of Social Welfare, there must be a record of the means of these people. By and large, the means of such people do not change dramatically and do not change in any degree that can be regarded as significant. If one does not apply for the 5/- in the first place, one does not get it and then, when one applies, the pensioner gets it only from the date of application. That is the kind of breach of faith in which this Government engage.

There is one matter in relation to social welfare, apart altogether from the default by the Government on the old age pensioners, to which I must refer again. I have referred to it in previous debates. I am appalled by the conduct of this Government in relation to citizens who live in backward parts of the north-west, west and south-west and to whom, 40 years after the foundation of the State, they have failed to give employment of any kind in their areas of west Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare and down into Kerry and Cork. There are people in receipt of pensions from the British Ministry of Pensions as a result of their contributions during periods of employment in Britain. As a result of recent successful negotiations between our two Governments, these recipients of British pensions have been given the same amount as British pensioners resident in Britain receive. Now, of course, that was very welcome news for the people living in those parts of this island who had come back at the age of 65 and who had given up seasonal employment and seasonal migration to England, Scotland or Wales, where they had gone each year in order to keep body and soul together and to keep their families fed, clothed and schooled. They earned for themselves, as well as saving this country from the necessity of having to support their families, a contributory British pension. The next thing was that it was increased. Now, side by side with that, [567] when they reached the age of 70 here, they applied for the old age pension and got it in greater or smaller portion: some of them got it entirely.

When the increase in the British pensions came about, our Department of Social Welfare, directed of course by its then political head, the present Minister for Local Government, Deputy Boland, sent out their investigation officers and had a further inquiry into means and into the increases in the pensions from Britain and they reduced the Irish pensions by at least as much as the increase from Britain. I think that is mean, shabby, and does not result in any significant saving to the Exchequer. I think the figure saved up to a certain point was £267,000 the last time the then Minister for Social Welfare was questioned on this. However, it has caused considerable hardship and considerable upset in the homes affected and certainly it has not reflected any great credit on the Government who brought it about.

The Taoiseach did not mention anything specific except productivity, labour relations and the EEC. He did not deal with any of the Departments. He said that they had been dealt with recently and did not require to be gone into. On the education side, certainly, we should hear something from the Taoiseach. Apart from a vague statement in relation to free secondary education, the details of which are not clear or, indeed, full, we have not heard anything from the Government in relation to education or as to what their overall policy is.

There are two aspects of the Department of Education to which I want to refer. One is the method adopted by the present Minister of appointing a consortium of architects, heating experts, quantity surveyors and structural engineers. The idea of a consortium, as I understand it from other countries, is a group from which standards are projected. A consortium is not, shall we say, the committee of selection or the committee of appointment of other contractors or engineers at local level. The consortium here, as I understand [568] its workings, has taken out of the hands of local CEOs and vocational education committees the power either to advertise or to select contractors from tenders, or by any of the normal methods of doing these things. It may be a good method but of the eight schools contemplated to be built, four were done in the ordinary way and, in a matter of days after the arrival of Deputy O'Malley in the Department of Education, he appointed this consortium, made up, of course, of qualified persons, but who are, nevertheless, very high-up members of the Fianna Fáil Party, some of them unsuccessful candidates in the last Seanad election, and here and there the odd neutral to take the bare look off them. Some of them are related to people in high places in Fianna Fáil. This is not the kind of projection of standards which I would anticipate from the selection of a consortium of this kind. The fees being paid to this consortium will be substantial out of an approximate £4 million expenditure. It should be possible to distribute some of this money around the country. Employment at local level will be destroyed because there is in the consortium a person who has a monopoly in precast concrete.

The second thing to which I want to refer is the position of the University College, Galway. That matter was referred to in the debate on the Education Estimate. During that debate and in recent correspondence, the Minister has been hopelessly caught napping with regard to the situation. He has tried through the Government Information Bureau and through statements from his Department to denigrate the efficiency of the administrators of University College, Galway. However, he has now expressed the view that he is willing to meet them any time any place. Let him do it and forget about the issuing of statements and the release of letters that may make for bad relationships.

This Government, in our view, do not behave as a Government responsible to Dáil Éireann. All their major statements are made outside this [569] House. The Dáil is being treated with contempt. This is the last day of this session and tillage prices are not announced yet. No doubt they will be announced at some turkey and ham outfit at some comhairle ceanntair dinner before Christmas or immediately after, before we resume. Nemesis will overtake Fianna Fáil and it will not always be possible for them to make these announcements at such venues and to ignore the elected parliament of the people.

Here is an example of what I mean. It is reported in the Irish Independent of 15th December, 1966, under the heading “Colley to Outline Aid for Small Industries”:

The Government's plans for coming to the aid of small industries scattered throughout the country may be revealed tomorrow night by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Mr. Colley.

He is scheduled to speak to Comh-Chomhairle Átha Cliath of Fianna Fáil on “The Future of Small Industries”.

The Taoiseach was talking today about the European Economic Community. Surely that was the place to talk about the future of small industries? Not having done it this morning, he should do it this evening when replying and not give this further example of the by-passing of Dáil Éireann in the declaration of public policy.

I want to make a particular appeal to the Government on behalf of the western seaboard because unless the Government do something very soon, there will be a seaboard without inhabitants. The people are rapidly going away. There is very little industry being directed towards the West. Fishing is being done piecemeal. A little pier is erected here, a little pier there, every five years. At the end of a few years, they are found to be inadequate. That is money down the drain.

We have cattle on our hands now that we cannot sell. Poultry and pigs have declined. Even land acquisition is at a standstill. In this respect I would [570] urge on the Taoiseach to take a hard look at the machinations of this particular Department in relation to the smallholders in the West and in the areas in which such little activity as there is is concerned.

The Taoiseach has told us that as a result of the by-elections, he has got a mandate. He has won the two seats on a minority vote but you do not get a mandate on a minority vote. You do not get a mandate on votes obtained in the manner in which a large amount of the votes, certainly in Kerry, and that is the only place for which I can speak authoritatively because I was there and so was the Minister for Labour, were obtained. The number of health cards that must have been issued from the offices of Kerry County Council in the three weeks of that campaign showed an activity that would have allowed a whole staff to go on holidays for the rest of the year.

We had Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries there all the time. They may have made a dart up to Dublin and back again, but I do not think it good enough that people who are paid salaries for the running of Departments should be away from their office for a full three weeks, certainly for a fortnight, working on political matters, keeping cars and drivers and probably paying them subsistence allowances because they were out all the time. Those cars that are meant to be used for public or State purposes were carrying little Fianna Fáil gauleiters around Kerry for a fortnight. They were not carrying Ministers or Parliamentary Secretaries but people who were hoping for something in the future. Fianna Fáil could have done without that display of ministerial power because they had enough free cars from the tycoons who have benefited from them down through the years.

The Taoiseach has said he got a mandate. He certainly did not get a mandate from the people of the surviving Gaeltacht in Kerry, the simple people of the Dingle Peninsula, in spite of the fact that the Parliamentary [571] Secretary for the Gaeltacht, Deputy Faulkner, was based in Dingle cajoling and threatening the people when he should have been minding his business here in Dublin. He and several others, some of them not Deputies at all, were led by the cheerleader, Deputy Molloy, the youth group man. People were threathened by them about their pensions. People in the Maharees were threatened that the industry which Deputy Dillon gave them when he was Minister for Agriculture would be in jeopardy if they did not vote Fianna Fáil.

Take the example of the LeasCheann Comhairle with two other Deputies and a gentleman from the press, who did not announce himself as such, going to an independent county councillor in that area and twisting what he said. Even the pressman said “Perhaps he did not know I was a pressman”, but it was his first duty to tell him that he was. In the area they also threatened families in receipt of the £10 denotas for speaking Irish that they would lose it if they did not vote Fianna Fáil. It really became laughable, when the Minister for Education arrived in Ballyferriter “ag rá go raibh brón air nach raibh an blas aige fós” and then going on to speak in the language of the average Deputy, English.

People of this area resisted the blandishments and the threats of Fianna Fáil. They showed great dignity when, on the following Friday night, two Ministers, the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and the Minister for Justice, arrived in the town of Dingle and insulted the people who rejected them on the previous Wednesday. They maintained the traditional dignity of the Irish people and were not swayed by the bullying and threats of the youth leader, Deputy Molloy. Every possible pressure was brought to bear on these people from every possible source. Even people occupying positions in Departments of State or in semi-State bodies wrote home telling their families to vote for Fianna Fáil, that if they did not, their positions would be in jeopardy.

[572]Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery The Deputy is becoming amusing now.

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay I saw two of them.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery The Deputy should not go to elections. They are hurting him.

Mr. Lindsay: Information on Patrick James Lindsay Zoom on Patrick James Lindsay They are not. I enjoy them and I enjoyed particularly to see in the Dingle area a fine people, diminishing in numbers under Fianna Fáil, still holding on to the traditions of truth and honesty in Irish life. They used to support Fianna Fáil but they have seen through them at last, and never no more. I am glad to have this opportunity of speaking on behalf of the people of Dingle and the Peninsula.

I hope the people will have a better year in 1967. That can come only from leadership properly given and we await the efforts of the new Taoiseach in this regard. The very first thing he will have to do is to insist on standards and from that lack of standard, I immediately exonerate the Minister for Labour. But there are certain members of the Taoiseach's Cabinet who will continue to bring down standards and get these lower standards, I immediately exonerate the day. Unless the Taoiseach stops that at the very beginning, he himself will suffer for it; he will suffer as much from within as from without.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne I was somewhat amazed to hear the Taoiseach suggest that because of a win in Waterford, all noses, and particularly those of the Labour Party, were rubbed in the dirt. I am afraid the Taoiseach must not have examined the final position in Waterford as well as he should have if he is so elated by a win for his Party, a win in the first by-election held since he assumed office. We in the Labour Party were disappointed with the number of votes we received. But both of us could be wrong in our analysis of the situation. Fianna Fáil lost over 1,200 votes as compared with the general election two years ago, and that with an increased poll. They gained nothing on that increased poll.

[573] I wonder could one describe the result as a victory? Is it something of which to be proud? The Labour Party at least maintained their position. I think they gained 89 votes, not a tremendous gain, perhaps, but it is at least a percentage increase of the increased poll. Should we be disappointed? Does the Taoiseach not realise that, if the 1,555 Labour people who voted No. 1 Labour and refused to mark the paper any further, saying “a plague on both your houses” to the other two Parties, had excercise their right to mark the paper further, they could have put Fianna Fáil out? There can be no question about that. The Labour Party do not advise their supporters how they should vote beyond suggesting to them that they should give their No. 1 preference to Labour, thereby demonstrating their confidence in the Party. After that, they are free to decide which of the other two Parties are the lesser of two evils.

The Labour Party gained a slight increase in Waterford. Apparently Fianna Fáil are losing their grip in Waterford. Indeed, the only reason they won there was the machine and the fact that money supersedes everything else. Money provided 50 cars for every one the Labour Party could put in the field. Money provided 50 helpers for every one helper the Labour Party had. Money provided 100 posters for every one poster the Labour Party could produce. The election was won on money. I am not blaming Fianna Fáil for what they did. I have no grievance. Possibly if Labour had the same power and there was a by-election, they would do the same thing.

There is one matter I should like to raise now. I heard a prominent Fianna Fáil representative insist to the representatives of the law and the representative of the State that because he was a Fianna Fáil appointee, he was above the law and above the State. That is wrong. It is a dangerous thing. This man is an honest, decent man, but he saw nothing wrong in what he said. He is an educated man but, because he had been told by responsible Ministers [574] of State that he could override the State and the law because he was a representative of Fianna Fáil, he proceeded to override the State and the law. That is a dangerous position and it is a very dangerous thing to have such instructions given.

As I say, we have no grievance. We were beaten. There is no doubt about that. We had not a hope of winning Waterford unless we managed to get one vote over Fine Gael. Had we got that we should have won because the Fine Gael supporters would have voted No. 2 Labour, not for love of us but for hatred of Fianna Fáil. That would not have mattered to us, but we would have claimed the victory. We are weaker numerically than Fianna Fáil. We are financially weaker. But our noses were not rubbed in the dirt and, when a general election takes place and when all the campaigners, who were drafted into Waterford, will be busy in their own little constituencies, the story will be written differently because it will then be a case of meeting Fianna Fáil on equal terms. The local people will have had an opportunity of realising how pressurised and brainwashed they were into voting as they did on this occasion. But, despite all that, the fact is that 1,200 people who previously voted Fianna Fáil did not vote Fianna Fáil this time.

What gain will Waterford get out of this? I know South Kerry is getting Valentia Bridge. Unfortunately we have no bridge to be built. Perhaps we might have got it if we had. Perhaps we will get something. Perhaps the old age pensioners will gain. The Taoiseach, when he was Minister for Finance, said here that on 5th November this year there would be a further 5/- increase for non-contributory old age pensioners, widows and unemployment assistance recipients. Now that he can claim the victory, as he calls it, perhaps he will redeem his promise to these people. I have my doubts. There are two old ladies, one of 72 and the other 85, who thought they could look forward to another 5/- each on 5th November; indeed, they thought this would be retrospective to last April. They [575] occupy a cabin for which they pay 8d or 9d a year to the Land Commission. What happened? Both were assessed as having means and, because of that, were told they did not qualify for the extra 5/-. It was their mistake, of course, to believe they would get anything, to believe any promise that was made.

Everybody, and that includes all Deputies, believed that non-contributory old age pensioners, widows and unemployment assistance recipients would qualify for this increase. The no means test in this case apparently means that, if one has 1/- per year, one is deprived of the 5/-. I met an innocent man on unemployment assistance. I would not be surprised to learn that Fianna Fáil agreed to take him down to the polling station where, in all probability, he voted Fianna Fáil. He came to me two days after the election and produced a reply from the employment office in Dungarvan. He had been receiving 33/- a week unemployment assistance. He could not get work where he lives because there is no work there for anybody. He suddenly found that he was cut to 31/-, whereas he had been looking forward to an increase of 5/-. Apparently before 5th November he was assessed as having 2/- means because he lived with his sister and did not have to pay rent. The 2/-means did not deprive him of unemployment assistance beyond the point of 31/- as the first 2/- means were not counted prior to 5th November, but when this increase became automatic, the 2/- had to be assessed and it was taken off the 33/-. His last state therefore is worse than his first. Will that position be redressed, now that Deputy Brown has been elected in Waterford? I would love to think it would be and that the Minister and the Taoiseach would realise that these things are happening. These are not stories, and I could give the name and address and insurance number in this case, and also in two other cases of old ladies, as well as numerous other cases.

I wonder will the Minister for Transport and Power now reverse his decision [576] to close down our railway line. Will he take heed of what Mr. Frank Lemass is reported to have said, according to the newspapers yesterday? He said that there was to be a new accounting system in CIE, that there is to be a railway account, an hotel account and an account for road traffic and road freight and that the Government subvention—he objects to the word “subsidy”—of £2 million would be regarded as a contribution by the State to the social services provided by CIE. That would be the Government's contribution to the railways and the profits from the hotels will be another contribution and the same from the buses.

He said that no one in his senses could expect a railway to be a paying proposition in present times and that it should be contributed to as a social service. I have been saying that for the past three years and so have many other Deputies. How is it that this has only struck Mr. Frank Lemass now? Can we hope that in Waterford the alleged loss of £50,000 on the Fermoy-Waterford line—which is not a loss at all and which has been proved not to be a loss—will be looked upon as a contribution towards this social service by the Government? Mr. Lemass has suddenly decided that the fact that a rail service is not paying is no reason for closing it.

Now that we have two Deputies to one in Waterford, I wonder will these two voices be joined with mine in demanding that Waterford should get the same social service in the form of a railway as other parts of the country? I will put it to the test as soon as we resume after Christmas. I was debarred because of Standing Orders from repeating my motion, as it would take six months, but otherwise I would have had it down before the by-election and challenged those who represent Waterford as to how they would vote. In February I will have my opportunity of demanding that the railway line be retained as a social service so that our new industrial estate will not be forbidden to deliver its products westwards and have to divert them in some other direction. The people of Fermoy [577] and the people right across to Waterford city will be very interested in this. There is still hope.

I should like to ask the Taoiseach if a Bill has been passed in the British Parliament authorising the closure of this railway line? Has the British Government refused to pass such a Bill or have they been asked to pass it? Who is going to compensate the shareholders? I will read a short extract from an article published in the Irish Times on Wednesday, 30th November, 1966 which was headed “Fishguard Shareholders Oppose British Railways Move”. It is quite a long article but this is the most interesting part of it:

Fishguard and Rosslare was incorporated by a Special Act of 1893, and owns the harbours and works at Fishguard and Rosslare, 105 miles of railway in Ireland (Rosslare to Fermoy) and one mile of railway from Fishguard. It is now operated jointly by the British Railways and CIE, while CIE is responsible for paying to Fishguard the sum necessary to meet the dividend payments on the preference stock.

When this line is closed, will the shareholders continue to be paid? Has the matter been examined and have the shareholders agreed to the closure? I should like some information about this, which I shall probably get by way of Parliamentary Question if the Taoiseach does not deal with it. He may not consider it to be that important but certainly those of us who are interested in the future development of Waterford will fight to the last ditch to find out what can be done to stop this rape of our county.

We already had it in regard to the closure of the Tramore line. On that occasion the closure was to take place on 1st April—a most appropriate day for Government action—and early on the morning of that date, men came with acetylene welders to cut down the bridge so that there was no chance of reprieve even though it was known that Waterford Corporation and [578] Waterford County Council wanted to raise money to subsidise the railway as an amenity for the people, to carry them to the beach at Tramore.

In regard to housing, we have over 120 families in the county council area who are approved tenants. The medical officers and the engineers have reported that these people are in urgent need of houses. We had plans to build 63 houses and we were taking in new applications but the allocation for the financial year just ending is £16,000. That is enough to build eight houses. That is all we got. Is that not a happy position for Waterford to be in? No wonder they voted Fianna Fáil. But hundreds of them who had previously voted Fianna Fáil did not vote Fianna Fáil.

What about roads? The men in the Gaeltacht area of which we are so fond, the Irish speakers, whose wives are Irish speakers and whose children are being brought up in the Gaelic language—when were they let go? Last Friday week, on the eve of Christmas. No wonder they are fond of Irish. Is it any wonder they laugh when members of the political Parties go there and speak Irish to them. They much prefer me to go out and tell them the truth in English. They are beginning to hate the Irish language and this in a Gaeltacht area, a stronghold. There is nobody left there. The boys and girls are in England, in Birmingham, Cardiff, London or Manchester or in New York because there is no industry at home. They have only two fishing boats to give employment where we had two or three hundred people. The number has dwindled considerably over the past ten years.

There is an Irish college there but it is the students from Dublin and other places, sons of wealthy people, who benefit and who can be sent there to get a complete course in Irish so that they will get preference for every job in the land under Government control. It is enough to make the people hate Irish: I do not blame them.

Have we money for water and sewerage schemes? The Minister for [579] Local Government persisted in sending circulars to local authorities saying that water and sewerage were essential. He exhorted them to devise schemes for which the money was there and asked what they were doing about it. They put up proposals but the money was not there. We have 38 schemes passed and ready for sanction but what we have not got is the money or the permission to go ahead. We decided to raise £50,000 a year by loan to finance these schemes because we were being pressed by the people and the Minister and it certainly would be a good job to get water and sewerage facilities provided. But we got no sanction. We are permitted to raise only £25,000 a year for water and sewerage schemes. The work cannot possibly be done and so we have a timelag of from ten to 15 years before we can hope to complete the present schemes now listed, never mind any further progress.

I think it was the Taoiseach who said that there had been an improvement in the number on the live register between May and the present time. He meant, of course, that there were fewer unemployed. Deputy Corish and Deputy Sweetman challenged him but the matter has become so complicated since the change that took place last year that we are never able to get comparable figures. We did get the fact that, as compared with 1964, there are now 6,000 more unemployed. They are on the live register and I presume they must be unemployed if they are on that register. Surely the Taoiseach and his advisers must have made a genuine mistake or they are deliberately trying to pull the wool over people's eyes. Certainly, the closing of the Fermoy-Waterford railway link will not help Mr. Frank Lemass to boast that he gives good employment to 20,000 people because at least 90 people and their families will lose their income, if that rail link is closed. They must find alternative employment and the number involved will be 100 to 130. People have voted Fianna Fáil in Waterford and South Kerry. There is an old saying that people get the Government they deserve. They are getting it.

[580] One thing that hurt me more than anything else was this. I respect the Taoiseach as a friend whom I knew for years before he ever became either Deputy or Minister. I am told that in Dungarvan on the Sunday night before the poll in the course of his speech he said: “What about the union that built the skyscraper at a cost of over £1 million in Dublin?” meaning the ITGWU. He is alleged to have asked: “Would you not think that, as a representative of workers, that money could have been better spent by building houses for the workers.” I got this information secondhand. Will the Taoiseach admit he said it? If he did, it is the most hurtful and deceitful thing I ever heard of. He must know, as does the Minister now listening to me, that a trade union under very strict trade union law is not permitted to engage in enterprise of that kind. He must have known when saying it that what he was saying was wrong but he still said: “Why did they not do it?” Did he not know that the same union in every national loan put substantial money into Government funds to help the Government build the things they could not build? They invested their money in Government securities so that the Government could build houses for the workers.

If it is true that the Taoiseach said that, he has gone down in my estimation because I like honesty. I would not say anything wrong about Fianna Fáil for anybody if I knew in my heart it was wrong. I hope the Taoiseach was misquoted, that in fact, he did not say it at all. I should not like to lose respect for a person I have respected for the past 20 or 25 years.

There are threats of pressure on workers, that if they do not settle the differences between themselves and the employers quietly and without losing man hours, it will be done for them. That is a rather foolish idea. Unless you have a State like Russia or her satellite countries, you cannot compel workers to work if they are not satisfied with their conditions. If the Minister for Labour is interested in seeing peace in labour-management relations, he should look at the management of [581] CIE and the Sugar Company and semi-State bodies. How is it that Aer Lingus does not have many strikes? I know that there are threats and talks —these things happen—but does the Minister not know that the board of management of CIE refuse to meet the workers' representatives and send some subordinate to do so? He has to scurry to and fro between one room and another bringing messages back and forth. That does not represent proper labour relations. If I were Minister for Labour, I would certainly know how to handle the position. Workers do not go on strike for fun. I have been in strikes, in one case for 16 long weeks. I have won strikes. Since I became union secretary and since I got the management of my local town, we have not had a strike or dispute there since 1944. That is quite a good record and it is due to the fact that I know workers. I suggest to the Minister that he should look at this in the proper way because we shall resist threats, and if we do get a fair deal, the position will be worse later than it is at present.

It was amusing to hear the Taoiseach say: “Look at what the Labour Government in England had to do. They had to cause unemployment to keep things stabilised.” We do not suffer from over-employment in Ireland. Our ill is the complete opposite to that of the British Government. Instead of trying to cause unemployment to stop purchasing power rising, here in Ireland we have so many unemployed we are seeking every way to get employment for them. It is no use comparing what the British Government do with what Ireland should do. However, even the British Government before they put restraint on wages, put restraint on prices. We have a clear instance of price control action in operation in Ireland in regard to the flour millers. They have defied the Government. They have said: “We are putting up prices, whether you like it or not.” The Government put them into that frame of mind because they have seen other people getting away with it. Other big firms have got away with it wholesale over the years—[582] Guinness, the brewers—how could anybody say that breweries were entitled to put up prices, because their profits——

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan The biggest profits ever known, but they contributed to Fianna Fáil funds.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery The Prices Advisory Body decided that. Is the Deputy going to exclude all the evidence?

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan The biggest profits Guinness ever had were made this year.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery The Prices Advisory Body made the decision. They are independent.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne Independent of whom?

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery The Deputy is speaking about threats. Who threatened Labour?

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne The Taoiseach said that if we did not get agreement among the unions it would have to be done.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery He was talking about getting agreement on procedure, not on settling disputes. You have got too far away from reality.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne We are very close to reality. We do not forget the time the attempt was made in regard to ESB workers.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery That was not an attempt. It was done to protect the public.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne It was not carried out.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery What was not carried out?

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne You did not force them back to work.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery The Deputy would want to read what is in the Statute Book.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne That time we were summoned by wire to attend the Dáil.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery The Deputy should read the Act.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne In regard to price control, does it ever strike the Minister [583] responsible that the state of emergency Act is still here? Under that he could have taken all those flour millers and lodged them in Mountjoy. It is strange that he did not think of it. He thought of it the time the telephone workers were parading outside the door. We had the Black Maria sweeping them away to Mountjoy. Strange, but there could be a reason for it.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan They do not subscribe to Party funds.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne I feel that.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins The accommodation is limited in Mountjoy.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery Do the Labour Party think everybody who breaks the law should be put into the Black Maria? The Minister said yesterday that if there is evidence of their having broken the law, they will be prosecuted and the fines will be laid down.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne They have said they are going to impose the increase. If we were Government, we would say we would not allow anybody to dictate to the Government.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery The Minister for Industry and Commerce will not allow them to dictate to him. He has said they will be prosecuted if they have broken the law.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne I know he said it, but we also heard that Health Act legislation would be brought in before the end of this year. This is the last day of the session and it is not here. If a mistake could be made about an important thing like that, surely it could be just as easily made on this? I hear promises made every day. This Commission that is sitting will rush out a report and will probably legalise the new prices.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan It is my bet Mr. Rank will never see the inside of Mountjoy.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery Would you put him in without trial?

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan Did you not put in [584] the Post Office workers without trial? We know their record in the past: the Curragh was full.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne I wish to say a few words about fisheries. Fianna Fáil have been in power for a long number of years. It is true there was a period of Cumann na nGaedheal Government and two periods of two-and-a-half years and three years, respectively, of inter-Party Government. I have read some reports recently in connection with our fishery industry and it was clearly stated that it has been neglected, is being stupidly handled, and that if it were properly managed, it could wipe out the deficit between our exports and imports.

I am quite satisfied from the little I know of fishing—and I live in a fishing area—that the fishermen of Ireland are being exploited and robbed by middlemen. The man who catches the fish, the man who risks his life going out for it, gets the least of any person out of it. Surely that is a concern of the Government? We have a Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries. Even friends of the Government are saying openly that it has been mismanaged. It is time something was done about things like that.

We have heard statements to the effect that the credit squeeze was on. We know it was on. We know it was on in England, but we also had the statement by the Taoiseach this morning that due to good management by Fianna Fáil, we are now coming out of it. Is it a coincidence that the crisis is slowly dwindling in Great Britain and that we are also slowly coming forward?

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy Zoom on Robert Molloy What about unemployment in Britain?

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne That is a matter for Great Britain.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy Zoom on Robert Molloy A thousand a week increase.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne We still have four times as many unemployed here, in proportion.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy Zoom on Robert Molloy We have not got as [585] big an increase in unemployment, proportionately, as they have.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne An increase? I am talking about unemployment. What I want to draw the attention of the Government to is this: how eager should we be to leave the British sphere of trade? How anxious should we be to get into the the EEC? I know we must follow Britain is she goes in because that market will be gone, but if Britain stays out of the EEC, I wonder should we risk this go-it-alone policy that is being advocated? I am sure the Government will have sense enough to know that our best trading customer is the nearest island to us, with 50 million people looking for the products that we can best supply, and that we should not be looking to Germany, Belgium or to any of these countries, because the types of food we produce are not their favourite dishes.

I read recently where the British Premier described Mr. Smith as a Walter Mitty type of person who had a Republic nobody recognised but himself. Could the same be said of our Minister for External Affairs? It amuses me that the Minister for External Affairs of our little nation should stick his nose into such international questions as nuclear control, whether we should have two Chinas and all sorts of big things. We are a small boy there and small boys should be seen and not heard.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan Deputy Molloy should take note of that.

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy Zoom on Robert Molloy The Deputies there clapped when President Kennedy spoke here in praise of the work of the Minister for External Affairs at the United Nations.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne President Kennedy's speech was written out for him. Could nothing be done to silence the man for a while and give the other people there, who have something to contribute, a chance? He is supposed to be here with us. He was elected to here and not out there. Maybe he is as well off out there. For all he would [586] do here, it would not make much difference.

I worked under the Department of Social Welfare for a time. I can assure the House it is the worst run Department so far as sending money to the people entitled to it is concerned. The excuses they give for neglect in forwarding cheques are laughable. I suggest the Taoiseach should instruct the new Minister to have a thorough investigation into the payment of claims. Last week a lady came to me. She told me she had a baby in September, filled up the relevant form and sent the certificate. She never got any payment. She wrote twice to the Department and never even got the courtesy of a reply. She asked me if I could do anything. I inquired if her husband's cards were in order. She said they were and gave me the insurance number. I took the matter up with the Department and inside four days got an answer to the effect that this cheque was sent out one week after the lady made application, but that they were now issuing another cheque. How could it be sent out if she did not get it? Of course, it is not sent direct to her. It goes to the local agent. He has to show a receipt for it, so she would have had to sign for it. What happened? They never bothered sending it at all. They ignored her two letters. But, when a Deputy came into it who could expose it, they posted her the money direct.

I could give the Minister hundreds of such cases. I know what I am talking about. I will meet any of the officials of the Department. I know as much about the game as any of them. Indeed, I know a good deal more than most. When I took the job, I learned the rules. I am interested in seeing that this Department should be checked. When the Dáil resumes I shall put questions to the appropriate Minister. I do not like doing it to a new Minister—he has to find his feet —but I want to direct his attention to the fact that the administration of cheque payments and benefit is hopelessly confused, to say the least.

I do not know if we will get good government by reason of the new [587] Deputies elected. I hope so. It may have been politically sound to get these two in with the tactics used. None of us wishes the country evil. We hope, with the new year, many of our problems and grievances will be examined and, if possible, rectified.

Minister for Labour (Dr. Hillery): Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery Bíonn cead cainte ag fear caillte an imeartha. Listening to Deputy Lindsay and Deputy Kyne, I was reminded of the old Irish proverb: The man who loses the game can do all the talking. I am quite willing to let these people console themselves in this week of disappointment for them. But I would like to ask them what set of rules would they like to fight elections on.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan Honesty.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery Deputy Lindsay said Ministers should give up politics and sit in ivory towers waiting for some miracle to happen. Deputies should stop making representations. Deputy Kyne thought our friends and supporters should not have gone into Waterford.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne I did not.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery Deputy Kyne's Party is the oldest Party in the country. If we have more friends and supporters and better workers and more money, it is a credit to us.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne I did not claim it was not.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Deputies should allow the Minister to speak.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery We had the totally ludicrous suggestion that the civil servants were writing home to their people “Vote for the Fianna Fáil man or I will lose my job”. But the crowning thing was the suggestion that the Fianna Fáil Party controlled what the President of the United States said here. I think that was the implication of Deputy Kyne's remark.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne I said his speech was written for him.

[588]Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery We had better get back to reality. Deputy Lindsay set the whole theme of his speech by saying that we sneered at Deputy Cosgrave's visit to the EEC in Brussels. He said it was a good thing that the Leader of the Opposition and his assistant should go on such a visit to find out what was going on and to advise us. He forgot he was advising us long before he went out. He said it was the first time it was done, and then he went back to the time when the Leader of the Fianna Fáil Party in Opposition did a world tour. He sneered at that as something that should not happen. The Leader of Fianna Fáil at that time was a world figure, who was received in every country as a man of high standing in his own right. This was to be sneered at, while the visit by Deputy Cosgrave to Brussels to find out something everybody already knew and to make statements such as were read out by the Taoiseach this morning—that they would go further than the Member countries of EEC on joining, if they could get that far—was not. I do not want to sneer at Deputy Cosgrave. If he wants to carry on Government in exile, as he has been doing, it is good practice for him. But he would be better occupied carrying on a useful Opposition.

Deputy Lindsay asked what preparations are we making for the entry of this country into EEC. He was dealing at that time mostly with our industries. He berated us for going too slowly. He said: “It is five years now and they are not ready”. He did not go to the full extent of the logic of his argument, however, and say there should be some force used on our private industries. As far as new industries are concerned, industries set up with the aid of State grants, these are already competing efficiently in export markets. Many of our old industries, as the Taoiseach said this morning, have beaten their own records year after year. The year 1964 was a record one for exports. In 1965, even with the temporary charge on imports imposed by Britain, that record was exceeded. This year it was exceeded again.

But there are firms who have not been making preparations. That is not the [589] fault of the Government. The Government have made available grants and every assistance in the form of advice to firms who want to make themselves ready. My predecessor, the present Taoiseach, and his predecessor, the former Taoiseach, when in Industry and Commerce, went all over the country urging our private industrialists to take the steps necessary to ensure they would be able to compete in free trade conditions. Many forward-looking industrialists took this advice and took the measures necessary. Grants made available were used and the private investment was forthcoming. But it was not really until the Free Trade Agreement was signed this time last year that other industrialists saw that we were going into free trade. The signing of that agreement gave the greatest stimulus of all to joining the EEC. The Deputies over there who voted against that Free Trade Agreement——

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan We are not sorry.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery ——did not see it as a step towards joining the EEC and ensuring that our employment opportunities would increase and that there would be a better standard of living in this country. They want to live as an island.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan You advocated sinking every ship that crossed the Irish Sea. You have got the fruits of the Free Trade Agreement now.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery Before I left the Department of Industry and Commerce, I found it necessary to ask staff of the Department to visit the management of factories in connection with the taking of measures necessary to prepare for free trade. As regards the development of new industries, Deputies know that we have grants, tax incentives and other attractions for foreign industrialists who wish to set up here. We also have the Industrial Development Authority which has permanently based officers in other countries who are constantly working in personal contact with industrialists who would be interested in setting up outside their own country.

As well as that, a recent policy of [590] the Government has been for the Minister for Industry and Commerce to make journeys abroad to attract new industry to this country. In my time, as Minister for Industry and Commerce, I went to Germany. The present Minister has just returned from Sweden. There are intensive campaigns to attract new industry to this country. We are only too well aware of the competition that now meets us in this field. Other States are offering concessions, grants and loans which compete with ours. For that reason, the Minister for Industry and Commerce has, at the moment, a specialist firm examining our methods and incentives with a view to prescribing for us what type of incentive we should give and what type of industry we should seek. I do not think there is any measure open to the Government which has not been taken to attract industry in that way.

I have said before often enough that my own opinion is that the main attraction to an industrialist to set up here will be the presence of a trained labour force. This House has already passed the Industrial Training Bill. This Bill, when enacted, will empower us to set up a training body which will make available training at every level of in-industry—operatives, supervisors—as well as the retraining of people whose jobs become redundant. It will cater for the training of people already in employment who want to improve their position and, of course, apprenticeship training will be continued.

I believe that the availability of a trained labour force, plus the other activities which we have undertaken, for example the placement service of the employment exchanges, will bring many industrialists into contact with suitable employees and suitably trained employees. The making available to management of lists of people with their aptitudes and skills will be another very great attraction to industrialists setting up here. As well as that, we have to have a service to forecast possible trends here and abroad so that we may be prepared, ahead of time, to supply the necessary labour force.

I would ask members of the Opposition [591] to examine their consciences to see what effect their attitude may have on some industrialists who might set up here. On many occasions when I was Minister for Industry and Commerce I had to protect an industrialist who had invested his own money here. Because he had a State grant and ran into trouble, because his project did not develop satisfactorily or speedily enough, how many times has such a person been hounded by Opposition Deputies? Such behaviour militates against our succeeding in attracting people here for whom we are competing with other states. Opposition Deputies should have a clear look at their policy. They protest that they want the new jobs. They protest they want the new industries to create employment opportunities and they protest that they do not want to discourage anybody. Yet, every time they speak——

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan Shake not thy gory locks in this direction.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne That would be a bit of an illusion.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins There are not many there.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery Only a friend would say that. Deputy Lindsay spoke of the vague plans we have for education. I do not want to go deeply into this because it may be that the Minister for Education will want to reply to it, but I would point out that if Deputies had been following our development over the past seven years, they would know that, some years ago, the Government announced their intention of raising the compulsory school leaving age to 15 by 1970. The raising of the school leaving age may, to some people, seem just a matter of making a law and keeping children in at school but, in actual practice, the raising of the school leaving age to 15 means that a special course of post-primary education must be made available between the ages of, say, 12 and 15.

It is some years now since we announced our plans for post-primary education and the making available of [592] courses which would give equal opportunity in so far as the aptitudes and the ability of the students were concerned. Deputies will recall that the first step was to provide a comprehensive course of subjects in which students would be guided into the courses most suited to their skills by their teachers, by aptitude tests and by their attainments and, at the end of three years, would take an examination in the course they followed and would be guided after that, according to their suitability. Our system grew up in a haphazard fashion. As Topsy would say, it just “growed”.

What the present Minister for Education has achieved is to devise a scheme which would allow us to make available free education to all our children with a system that was not built from the ground for that purpose. The Minister is to be complimented on being able to devise such a scheme in such a short time. I do not think it is fair to say that our educational plans are vague. They are quite clear. Anybody who wants to, can study the announcements from time to time by different Ministers as to our intentions and progress. If you want progress, the comprehensive schools are built there, which were announced when comprehensive education was first adumbrated.

Deputy Kyne said that the Taoiseach threatened Labour that if they did not solve their disputes, we would do it for them. The Taoiseach said no such thing. He said that Minister after Minister, including myself as Minister for Industry and Commerce, worked hard long days trying to get from management and labour agreement on procedure or proposals for legislation which would give the country some chance of orderly procedure and orderly development in these matters and that, time and time again, the promised proposals from these bodies were not forthcoming. After waiting for over a year, I produced proposals which we had considered and discussed, with further proposals from the bodies concerned. What the Taoiseach said was that if we cannot get agreed procedures, if we cannot get proposals on which they agree, then [593] we, as a Government, on behalf of the community, will have to produce our own proposals for legislation. I do not think anybody could regard that as a threat to labour.

Deputy Briscoe said this morning that the worker had been cared for by the Fianna Fáil Government.

Debate adjourned.


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