I take it this is the proper place to raise any question which, though discussed on a particular Estimate, has not been satisfactorily cleared up?
COMMITTEE ON FINANCE. - APPROPRIATION BILL—SECOND STAGE.
I am sorry if I have given Deputy Davin that impression. The practice of which I spoke of is rather this: a general, not a particular, question dealing with an Estimate could be raised, or even more than one general question, by an arrangement between the Government and the parties who wish to raise it. But, strictly speaking, on the point of view of order, on the Second Reading of the Appropriation Bill you could raise almost any question one could imagine, but I would not like it to become the practice. I do not think it would be advisable it should become the practice that when we are discussing the Estimates—to push it to its logical conclusion—that Deputies would take notes of points on which they were not satisfied, and on the Second Reading of the Appropriation Bill that every dissatisfied Deputy could raise these points and have them discussed. If that had to be done we should have an official gallery of enormous dimensions, for every Minister would require to have his officials to furnish details. What is the point Deputy Davin wants to raise?
I only wish a certain point to be made clear. A certain statement was made last night by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. He stated, and it was the first time it was stated in the House, though I know the statement was made outside the House, that the failure of the Government to proceed with the drainage of the Barrow and give employment thereby was due to the fact that the people who made the offer of finding pound for pound for financing this scheme had been repudiated. I have given notice to Deputy Professor O'Sullivan about this, and I would ask him to tell the House when the offer was repudiated by any local authority, or by any individual speaking on behalf of any organised body of ratepayers, farmers or others in the area, This must be cleared up in the House. If the offer has been repudiated by anybody outside the House, speaking on behalf of any section in a particular area, then it would be for them to settle it between themselves. The Minister said he has more information in the matter than I have. That is quite true. Undoubtedly he has more information on every matter than any Deputy. All I am asking is that Deputy Professor O'Sullivan, who is directly responsible for this work, should state who has repudiated the offer, when it was repudiated, who are the parties who have repudiated it, whether they are members of the Farmers' Union, or members of any organised body of ratepayers, or are they only speaking for themselves? I am authorised by the Senator who made the offer in the first place to ask for that information. It will be very valuable to the people in that particular area who are pressing for this scheme to be carried out.
Deputy Davin, about five minutes ago, gave me notice that he was going to raise this question, and now he wants to know when, why and by whom the offer was repudiated? First of all, it is not true that it was suggested that the failure to carry out this work was due solely to the failure of the people concerned to put down pound for pound.
That was said in the House yesterday by the Minister for Industry and Commerce.
No; he said that that was one of the reasons. It is quite clear from my statement that the reason why we could not go on with the carrying out of the scheme was that there was no scheme in existence. I hoped that I had made that clear to the Deputy. We cannot plunge into the river, even in this particular weather, and spend £1,000,000 without knowing what we are doing. That would be absolutely indefensible. What we have to do is to carry through the preliminary work of measuring, and we are doing that; we are taking steps since I spoke the other evening to see that that will be done as soon as possible. Deputy Davin has raised the question as to whether there was repudiation. There was practical repudiation from Deputy Conlan. I do not know what repudiation is if his statement was not, when he told me not to take seriously the offer made by the deputation.
That is not repudiation.
I wish the Deputy would not interrupt, because I can only deal with one repudiation at a time. That is one. One of the counties affected is Carlow, and the Carlow County Council has passed a resolution on the subject, the exact wording of which I have not with me. The moment I got Deputy Davin's note I sent for a copy of it. That, to my mind, amounted to a practical repudiation; at all events, it stated that the work should be carried out by means of Government funds. That is what it amounted to. As far as I can gather, they had only one meeting. There were resolutions from other bodies, but they took good care never to approach the definiteness of a pound for pound offer. As the Deputy has raised the point, I wish again to state that the scheme stands on that particular offer, and on the counties being ready to bear their share sufficiently to bring the local contribution up to the pound for pound basis. If the Deputy wishes, I can show him the actual resolution passed by the Carlow County Council.
Has the Deputy not previously stated, both privately and in the House, that the counties likely to be most affected were Leix, Offaly and Kildare, not Carlow?
I say that it has been clearly before them for over twelve months, and although the Deputy could have put the Government view before them, not a single resolution has come from these counties.
Will the Deputy let me have a copy of the Carlow resolution?
I am not on the Barrow. The Appropriation Bill marks the close of the important work which has been done on the Estimates. As a farewell to the whole question of finance for the year under review I would like to repeat that the amount required for the administration of the affairs of the country is out of proportion to what the people can bear. I do not say that the Government are not alive to that fact or that they have not made efforts to cope with the situation, but much remains to be done. We, of course, have very little knowledge of the administrative work of the various Departments, and to expect us to say that the amounts looked for are the minimum amounts with which these Departments could carry on would be to expect us to form an opinion which would be impossible without the aid of some expert commission.
There are two ways of reducing the burden of taxation—by economies or by increased production and wealth, which would reduce the burden on the individual. But one must remember that the development of industry cannot be reached by a jump. When discussing the matter on broad lines people are apt to form a mistaken idea of the lines along which business is to be developed. Increased business and general prosperity is, and must be, a creature of slow growth. The idea that you have only to go to bed and will prosperity and development of industry to obtain it is a mistaken one. The growth of industry and of commerce can only be achieved by each individual attending to his own business and doing his share to the best of his ability.
The other way to relieve the taxpayer is by means of economy, the cutting down of expenditure. I am not an advocate of cutting down. I am rather an advocate of the expansion of the responsibilities and the activities of business. When a business requires the pruning knife, the operation is very delicate and the cutting-down process is not a very healthy one. We have over sixty departments. I cannot believe that it is necessary for the discharge of the functions of government that all these departments are necessary. I may be asked what I suggest. I cannot suggest anything; in going through the various accounts, I could not find anything that was culpably negligent or on which to base any drastic proposal for reform.
I say it is a matter that ought to get the consideration of the Government. I am satisfied that if they consider the matter and come to a decision that it will be a wise one. The problem is there. The amount of money involved in these accounts is very large. The country is not as strong financially as one would wish; we hope a different state of affairs will be achieved in time, and we will be better able to achieve that by looking into small as well as large objects. Anyone can talk in big figures and of large projects, but, personally, from my experience of business I say there is such a thing as going too fast in connection with expenditure.
Would the Minister say whether Section 5 is normal?
It is a stock section included in the Appropriation Account each year.