I may tell the Minister that I am voting against the Budget because I think it is a rotten Budget as a whole and rotten in all its details. This day week we listened to one of the longest, yet least informative, speeches that has ever been delivered in this House on the introduction of a Budget. Since I became a member of the House I have never listened to a longer and less informative speech. It gave us very little information on the points on which people in the country were anxious to get information. In many instances the so-called information given by the Minister was totally misleading. The Budget was remarkable for the intrusion in it of a great deal of unnecessary material, and particularly for the false propaganda it contained. Every effort was made in the opening paragraphs to throw dust in the eyes of the Irish people. If the people are not deceived as to what the situation is, then the credit or the fault, or whatever one may term it, cannot be attributed to the Minister or to the Government.
A great deal of the introductory remarks of the Minister had reference to matters the relevance of which he certainly did not make clear. I regard his opening remarks as a kind of smoke-screen, directed towards his own misguided followers in the country, in order to hide from them the real burdens that the Government is imposing on the country. Since the Minister's Budget statement I have met people in various walks of life, poor and rich. I must say that, judging by their conversations, the contents of this Budget came as a shock to a people already prepared for the worst. Although they were prepared for the worst, they never expected as bad a Budget as this. I think what in addition shocked a large number of the people most was the flippancy, the lack of responsibility, which accompanied the introduction of the Budget. Most of the principal taxes press on the rich or the comparatively well-to-do, but also on all classes. The Minister made it pretty clear that he realised we had no rich people, in the properly accepted sense, in this country. According to him we have here only comparatively well-to-do people. Whether these taxes press on the comparatively well-to-do or on the ordinary consumer in the towns or on the land, they were all introduced with a joke.
It was bad enough for the people to read the Minister's Budget speech, but I must confess it was extremely difficult to contain oneself in this House when one observed the obvious enjoyment displayed by the Minister when he read the portion of his Budget statement indicating new taxation. That enjoyment, I may say, was not universally shared by members of the Fianna Fáil Party. Certainly there were not many Deputies who appeared to appreciate the brilliance of the Minister's jokes when he was setting out the various burdens that he was putting on the people. The Minister's extreme levity was, in my opinion, absolutely uncalled for. I really should not pay much attention to that, especially as it comes from the Minister for Finance. Before he took office he showed an extraordinary lack of responsibility when dealing with the financial affairs of the nation, and obviously he cannot be expected to change his disposition even when certain responsibility is placed upon him. The main point about it is that I fear the Minister's attitude represents the Government's attitude on this matter.
It would appear that the Government are proceeding with a certain amount of glee to what they themselves would call preparing for the breakdown of the present system. The lack of responsibility that is only too evident in the Minister's Budget speech is only too evident also in the whole policy of the Government where the finances of the State are concerned. The policy may be to bring the day nearer, which the President foresees, when we shall have what I may call universal hair shirts. According to the President, it is apparently essential to deprive some people, who, he thinks, wear silk shirts, even of artificial silk shirts. In his opinion, if there are to be hair shirts at all there should be hair shirts all round. I fear, as a result of the policy which this Budget contemplates —the policy of which this Budget is but the introductory stage—you will have neither silk nor hair shirts for a large portion of the community.
In regard to some of the principal taxes, amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds, there is practically no explanation. Not merely has there been no justification advanced, but there has not been even an attempt at explanation in regard to the various duties. For the first time we got to-day a statement that could easily have been made in the Budget speech on Wednesday. Quite a lot of the irrelevancies of the Budget speech could easily have been jettisoned with great improvement to the speech as a whole. The statement which we got to-day could have been given last Wednesday, but even that statement is incomplete. Apparently there is to be a tax on everything. The only thing that we will not have a tax on will be flowers of rhetoric, cut flowers of rhetoric as far as the Minister is concerned.
In the course of his Budget speech the Minister referred to the sum of £910,000 which he expects to derive from certain taxes. How that estimate was arrived at is still not clear to me. I expect that someone suggested a million and that they would then allow ten per cent. off that million for overestimation. Somebody else mentioned that that would look too much like a round figure; why not add £10,000 and make the total £910,000? The next question was how they would distribute that amongst the various items. It looks very much, judging by the performance we had the last day on the part of the whole Ministerial Bench, as if the estimate was arrived at by some method of that kind.
When the Minister was imposing taxation calculated to bring in £910,000 a paragraph of his statement was devoted to an explanation of the imposition. There was just that one paragraph in a speech lasting one and a half hours. What was the main burden of that paragraph? It indicated that, at all events, there was full unity of mind between the Minister for Finance and his fellow-conspirator, the Minister for Industry and Commerce. That was a marvellous achievement. What I object to is that the Government has approached this effort to strangle the country industrially with the same callousness as they tried to strangle it politically ten years ago.
In case there are any people in the country who think to themselves: "At last we know the worst; now, at all events, we know what we are in for," let them not solace themselves by any thoughts of that kind. Let us remember that the main plank of the Fianna Fáil programme has yet to be put into operation. Their economic programme has yet to come forward; that is, their wheat policy. That main policy has not been adumbrated or referred to here. This Budget is only the beginning of that revolutionary policy which the Minister for Industry and Commerce outlined. It is possibly a modest beginning of that great revolution which the Minister said might fairly be called an economic revolution.
Some people may think the wheat policy may be dropped and that, with a longer stay in office, some kind of responsibility will come to the Ministry. Have we any evidence of that? Is there any increase of responsibility in the manner in which they make statements? Is there any increase of responsibility in comparison with the reckless statements they made when they were in opposition? Are they not quite as reckless to-day, even with the full cares of office upon them? Is it not a fact that they are led by a man who takes up the attitude: Ruat coelum as long as he can say Quod scripsi scripsi?
The childishness of the Minister's method of computing the national debt is a thing that I will not now go into. The idea of putting the land annuities into the national debt, and capitalising them in order to make out such a huge total, is just merely an effort to create the smoke-screen that the Minister wanted to cover these unjust impositions from his followers in the country. Why did he stop at the land annuities? Suppose, in the morning, this progressive Government introduces a policy of purchase for town tenants. That would be looked upon as an advance, I presume, socially. Money would have to be raised to do that. Would that mean an increase in the national debt? Why does not the Minister bring in every possible debt between private individuals as he brings in the land annuities?
The figure of £115,000,000 which he arrived at was a figure which he thought the propaganda-doped community to which he appeals would accept. Even there there would be a limit to their credulity.
The Minister said: "We have before us a hard year but an honest year." We might have been impressed by that dictum if there had been a little more observance and less preaching of honesty. We all know that the Fianna Fáil Party hate deception—in others. The real public debt that would be computed by any responsible Minister would be £22,000,000. I do not want to be unfair to the Minister. There may have been indiscretions on his part. He committed one to-day, certainly. But this is not the Budget of the Minister for Finance. This is the Budget of the Fianna Fáil Government. It is the Budget of the Government as a whole. It is the Budget of that Government that got into power mainly, as I said in a previous speech, on the watchword of "Give Fianna Fáil a chance." That was one of their main planks, their main appeal to the people. Why give Fianna Fáil a chance? What was the main appeal to the farmers beyond the land annuities? It was the reduction of expenditure, the cutting down of taxation, not in twelve months but at once.
At one particular time that particular Party spoke of running this country at £12,000,000 per annum. The Minister who has just sat down told us that under our Government in 1928 the farmers were overtaxed to the extent of £11,000,000. When that Party was in opposition everybody can remember what they said year after year on the Votes on Account and on the Votes on the Budget. On every possible opportunity when they went down through the country, what did they preach? That the incidence of taxation, no matter who paid it to the Government, whether it is the income tax payer, or indirect in the first instance or not, gets down to the ordinary people. Was not that the burden of their speeches to the electors? Was not that the claim put forward by them when some of them argued that one of the worst taxes would be the income tax? But leave that aside for the moment; I will turn to it later.
Even after they had several years financial education in this House discussing Budgets and Estimates, they promised the people, and they won many votes by it, an immediate reduction of £2,000,000 in taxation. The Minister for Industry and Commerce says this is only a beginning. Well, I must say that if this is a beginning of a reduction of taxation by £2,000,000, I am very glad the Fianna Fáil Party have dropped their idea of reducing taxation by £11,000,000. For in that case the country would be bankrupt in one year instead of a few years, as it will be if this policy which they have started were carried on. Where has disappeared all that propaganda of the Fianna Fáil Party as to the incidence of taxation and the taxable capacity of the country? Too much of the revenue of the country, we were told, was taken by taxation. They pointed out the impossibility of any country continuing to progress with any chance of prosperity when so much of the national revenue was eaten up by taxation.
When they were in opposition they were preaching that doctrine right through the country; they come along now, and I ask them where is the reduction in taxation? There is an increase of millions. Is that their idea of redeeming their pledges? The Minister for Finance gave a side glance at that aspect of the situation —erstwhile so familiar to him—when he said that in this country there are no great extremes of riches, that you have only the comparatively well-to-do. Having given a side glance of that kind on his own nostrums and doctrines, he went on his rake's progress repeating the old saw that in the kingdom of the blind even the one-eyed are leaders. Well, we are going to have very few one-eyed people in the kingdom of the blind if the policy of the Budget which he has introduced is carried through.
Was there any truth in the assertions made again and again from the Fianna Fáil Benches when they were in opposition about the incidence of taxation and about the fact that in the last resort it is the farmer who has to bear the taxation? Now we have the Minister for Agriculture coming in and bearing his responsibility for this Budget. We have just heard the man who said at one time that the farmers were overtaxed to the extent of £11,000,000. He used to tell us that in the last resort it was the producer who must bear most of the burden of this over-taxation. We were told again and again that we in this State could not afford services on an Imperial scale.
One thing apparently we can afford, and what that is is made perfectly clear by the Leader of the Opposition, who pointed out the slavish imitation of the Budget on the other side—because that is what this Budget is. Apparently the one thing we have to afford is not Imperial services, but Imperial taxation. We may have decreased efficiency from the civil servants as a result of the policy of this particular Government. But one thing is clear and that is that we are to have a greatly increased Civil Service if the policy of the Government is to be carried through.
It is a characteristic Fianna Fáil performance in many ways. It is the usual attempt to walk both ways. With the one hand they give help, e.g., to the building industry. You give to the building trade, which we are told is in extremis, a first aid with one hand while you strangle it with tariffs on the other. That is the national economy and the national policy so far as the Fianna Fáil Government is concerned. Remember we are strangling the industry and trying to keep it alive at the same time. Everything, of course, is done at the expense of the public. As far as I can see, the only increase in the number of people employed in this country will be an increase in the number of officials. That is the only kind of permanent employment that the policy of the Fianna Fáil Party is likely to lead to. As the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, this is a policy of taking money from one pocket and putting it into the other—except I should like to add that you are paying people to effect the change. In relation to the case of the farmers of the country, it is taking silver from one pocket and putting coppers in the other. We are told that this is not going to lead to high prices, and that if it does lead to high prices the prices will be controlled and that any interference with the necessities of life will be visited by the Minister for Industry and Commerce with penalties and that the offending person will be put to gaol if the Minister is deprived of his grape fruit. What does it all mean? What does this necessary corollary of increased control mean? Does it not mean practically State interference in everything and the taking over by the State of the running of business in this country? Does it not mean an increase in officialdom in this country? Does it not mean much beyond anything that we can visualise at present? Remember when I am speaking of the increase of that officialdom the great panacea for everything—wheat policy —is to be added and it is the farmers of the country who will have to pay for it. That increased army of officials due to wheat policy, etc., is a thing that is not referred to in this Budget.
As I say, as a result of their policy you have an increase in the number of public officials, and possibly as a result of another portion of their policy you will have a decrease in the efficiency of the same body. What had we during the last couple of days? What have we had during the last couple of months? Tariff after tariff which so far as the ordinary consumer is concerned means tax after tax thrown at the House and the country without a word of explanation on the essential things that the House and the country ought to know, and an effort made either to conceal information, even scrappy as it is, as we have at present, or anyhow refusing to produce that information. But we have no information at all on other points that the country and the House want information about and are entitled to get information about. There has been no word of justification, and there is not even the slightest explanation. Some of the burdens like this £910,000 were simply slurred over in the Budget speech—a mere million pounds put on the backs of the taxpayers of this country. Explanation: "Agreement between myself and my colleague the Minister for Industry and Commerce" is sufficient. But may I point out what seems to have escaped some of the Deputies who have spoken, that the extent of the burden that these tariffs put on the ordinary consumer is not £910,000? It is a great deal more than that. It is that £910,000 plus the extra charge that the ordinary retailer will have to make owing to the fact that he will have more capital locked up and particularly plus the increased prices that will be charged for the articles produced in this country. That is information that we have not got. As we know, it is information that we shall never get. We shall never be able to know. I quite admit that this figure of £910,000 is merely an estimate. If we like, in the circumstances, it can only be a guess, but taking that guess as being fairly accurate, how much has to be added on to that figure of £910,000 in the Schedule alone to know what the burden on the ordinary consumer will be, the ordinary consumer in the town and country? That is a matter upon which we have not had a particle of information to-day. We certainly had less on Wednesday last, but that is information that the country ought to get. I think it was the Minister for Agriculture who sneered at Cumann na nGaedheal about their procedure in imposing tariffs and stated that the present Government had done nothing to give grants to its friends and relatives. So far as tariffs are concerned, we quickly made up our minds that if this country was to be saved from one of the principal dangers of tariffs, namely, the danger of graft and corruption, you would need to have an impartial body to investigate all applications. We determined that tariffs could not be imposed for political reasons; that they should not be imposed for political reasons, and that was one of our principal reasons for setting up the Tariff Commission. Whatever may be said in criticism of the Tariff Commission, at least this can be said, that the Tariff Commission gave information to the country that is completely lacking so far as this £910,000 is concerned. We do not know what increased employment will come from this £910,000. We do not know how it will hit the ordinary citizen of this State. It is practically impossible to say how many of the articles, even under the one number, are going to be bought by the same person. It is impossible to say that, because in one case you have as many as twelve or more articles mentioned, all possibly capable of being made by the same firm, but certainly they are not all going to be bought by the same person. You have all that, but you have no indication as to whether these are or are not suitable industries to establish here. Now on every ground, and especially on the ground that high-minded as the present Fianna Fáil Government may have been, high-minded as Governments that take over a new State very often are, the time undoubtedly will come when there must be some guarantee and some protection against graft.
What is the only criterion that the Minister for Industry and Commerce has? His criterion is not as to how much all this will cost the consumer, not what the burden will be on the people, but the following: The criterion, he says, which is going to decide whether or not a tariff will be imposed is not the price at which a commodity can be bought in some mid-European country but the price at which our people can make it. That is to be the only consideration for the imposition of a tariff: What does it cost to make a particular article? It does not matter about the consumer, and it does not matter whether the industry itself is a proper or a suitable one for this country. The first thing to do is to slap on the tariff, then make up your mind whether it is suitable or not, upset the business of the country first and then see what you can do to remedy the confusion and the evil that you have caused.
Of course I know a simple way out of all this is, as the Minister implored us, not to call these things taxes at all —call them tariffs. So far as the burden is concerned, they are worse than taxes, and the Minister was quite right in the remarks he made on that. These tariffs are a much bigger burden than taxes. So far as taxes are concerned you know the amount of them, but so far as a tariff is concerned you have no means of computing, even at guessing, with any degree of accuracy, what the real burden will be to the ordinary consumer. The Minister's motto, in Shakespearean language, was: "A rotten egg by any other name would smell as sweet." That is practically what it came to. But unfortunately the public who will have to bear the burden of these taxes will have to bear the burden of the double tax, the tax plus increased cost of articles made here. They will feel it then. It is then that the people will get to know, but not exactly, what these tariffs are costing them. It is only in the increased struggle for existence that they will find out the real incidence and the real weight of this particular Budget.
We had a very interesting illustration of the Government's method of procedure in the case of one of the tariffs they imposed—the tariff on motor bodies. They imposed that tariff without any examination. Immediately a great agitation was got up by a very powerful body—the motor trade, and the Government gave way. They gave in. That is to say, they realised, as I gathered from the statement of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, that the imposition of that tariff meant immediate unemployment for large numbers of people. Was it not obvious from the very start to anyone who is not tariff mad that that would be the result of it? It could not help being the result of the imposition of that particular tariff. Now the Government realise it. Why? Because there was a very powerful organisation capable of creating an agitation about it, an organisation that was able to voice its feelings through the country and in the Press. The members of that organisation were able to have their views represented in the Press, and that is the reason the Government gave in. But how many another tariff and tax is in this Budget which will cause many people to lose their employment! These people are not vocal, they are not organised or in any powerful organisation or union like the motor trade. What are they to do? They can simply suffer and lose their employment and nothing will be done for them. Countless individuals will be thrown out of work, just as numbers were threatened with loss of work in the motor trade. Numbers of people will be thrown out of work by these other tariffs, but they will have to bear that in silence, they will have no powerful body to speak for them. They will lose their employment or, at best, get perhaps some employment on relief works.
Not everybody, of course, was forgotten when it came to a question of safeguarding the jobs of people at present holding them. The small bus-owners, those who gave their time and employment and material on the polling day, were not forgotten. Directly and indirectly this is a Budget for the promotion of unemployment, and many of the people who may think they are gaining by the increase in the number of tariffs will have to pay through the nose in the various other tariffs on other industries and on other materials. The Minister for Industry and Commerce said that people cannot be expected to invest their capital in undertakings in this country without a feeling of security. This was a nice Budget to give a feeling of security to any person with a little capital to invest in undertakings here. As I pointed out already, what is the attitude of that Party opposite to anybody who invests money in this country? Is it not that he immediately becomes a capitalist, a grinder of the poor, a man living on another person's earnings, and no respect, or very little respect, must be paid to him when considering taxation? After all, it is only income tax where he is concerned. That is an inducement, undoubtedly, to tempt anybody to invest savings in industries in this country, except, of course, for the sheltered and favoured few—those who got tariffs.
We had various references to the tax on tea. We had a statement which did not surprise me, coming, as it did, from the Minister for Finance—I wonder has he ever been in the country—but we had it repeated to-day by the Minister for Agriculture that tea was not a necessity. I am beginning to wonder whether he, too, has lived in the country. Everybody knows that, as the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, the tax on tea in reality will hit the people harder than the tax on sugar. But why was it put on at all? What was the necessity for it? Everybody remembers the discussions we had here on our proposals to finance derating, and everybody remembers some of their election speeches in which they said: "What is the good of giving relief to the farmers, in the way of relief in agricultural rates, when you put it on and more than put it on again in the shape of a sugar tax?" and we had elaborate calculations to show that the farmer got so much off in rates and was taxed to such an extent on sugar. Here was an opportunity of wiping out the whole tax altogether, and saying, "Leave the old relief on rates at its figure of £750,000." But no, you must have a million pounds. Why? Because the Leader of the Opposition proposed it when he was in opposition. Again, what he said goes, and once said it cannot be withdrawn. He is like Sergius in "Arms and the Man"—he never withdraws.
What is the justification, the principal justification, put forward by the Minister for Finance in making the change from sugar to tea? The Minister for Industry and Commerce may have a childlike faith in human nature, as shown by his readiness to believe any person who asks for a tariff, but his colleague, the Minister for Finance, is one of the most cynical members of the House. What is his hope? His hope is that the shopkeeper will cheat the poor, and say, "This is 2/8 tea still; I am only charging 2/8." That is his hope, avowed here cynically. His one hope is that the poor will be cheated in the quality of the tea they get. Was that not the principal reason he put forward for this particular change? Was that not the distinction between the hard tax and the soft tax? He is, again, not well acquainted with the people of the country. It may happen in the towns that people may not distinguish between different qualities of tea, but I can assure him that there are many country districts in Ireland where, if that particular swindle was tried on, the people, and the poor especially, would be very quick to tell the shopkeeper that they were not getting the same tea.
This may be looked on, in some respects—and I have no doubt, from the applause that greeted the Minister for Finance from the benches opposite when he sat down—as a particularly cute Budget, a cunning Budget, and that the calculation was "So many votes gained for the Party by all these provisions," a cynical calculation in the hope that the people of the country, the poor people, the middle class and the rich people will be deceived and fooled, and will not see where all this is leading, a bribe to the people, in the hope that in the immediate gain, in the way of relief works, and other things, the real interference, the real deprivation of employment, will pass unnoticed.
As I say, there are the relief works for those who lose their employment by this increased taxation, and remember that no Party was as strong on this matter, was as eloquent on this matter, as the members of the Fianna Fáil Party when in opposition. Their cry was that "the result of increased taxation is increased unemployment," and on insistence that the country was already taxed up to, and beyond, its extreme limit. That was the burden of their cry, morning, noon and night, to the people throughout the country, and now there is this one kind of sop offered to the people for the increased taxation—an increase in the unemployment work. That is, they are taking steps in this Budget to do away with, or to greatly decrease, the amount of employment given by private individuals, or private firms, because that is ultimately what this increase in taxation must mean, and the State has to step in as an employer instead. That is the ultimate consequence and the real aim of this particular Budget, and it is one of my strongest objections to this Budget that it has this consequence which is only part and parcel of the whole economic policy of the Fianna Fáil Party. That is the logical conclusion of some of their speeches. I admit that people did not quite grasp the danger of these speeches when Fianna Fáil was out of office. It is the logical conclusion of their speeches since they came into office, and it is the logical conclusion of the speeches, passages of which I referred to a week or two ago, from the President and from the Minister for Industry and Commerce. We need not, however, go back to these speeches. We had the confession of the Minister for Industry and Commerce himself in the House last week, in which he acknowledged that this was the counterpart—it was not an unfair description—of the Civil War, that the old system had failed, and that a new system was to take its place, and that he stood for—and the quicker we on these benches got it into our heads the better—an economic revolution, and that this was the first step in that economic revolution. The President again and again, in speaking through the country, has referred to the possibilities of the present system breaking down, and he is coming near now to prophesying that the present system is breaking, or is going to break down. I am very nervous when I hear the President prophesy. I can never distinguish quite clearly between his prophesying and threats uttered by another man. We are going to have an economic revolution, and not merely on tariffs—that, as I say, is only the introduction—but you are to have a complete economic revolution in this country. I suggest there must be some people with a certain amount of staidness in the Fianna Fáil Party. Are not two revolutions per month more than any normal country can stand? Revolutions may at times be necessary, but I suggest that they are altogether too strong a drug to nourish any nation on, and we have had too much in this country so far as revolution is concerned. It is impossible for a country to live through that strong drug treatment that the Fianna Fáil Party think is the only way of keeping this country alive. It is undoubtedly the state of mind revealed in this particular measure we are discussing. There are certain circumstances in which revolutions may escape disaster —they are very lucky if they do so— especially if there is a kind of progress and soaring upwards of prices. But I suggest that the last time to try revolutions is a time when prices are going down and the pinch is being felt all over the world. That is the time when two revolutions are thrown on the country. Revolution as the staple political diet of the nation is simply suicide.
As I say, I look upon this Budget as the first step in that economic revolution that was so loudly proclaimed here the last night by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Many of us had seen before the election, and many of us have seen since the election, that in reality the Fianna Fáil Party stand for a complete revolution, not merely a political revolution, but also for a complete economic revolution, so far as this country is concerned. Now we have it acknowledged without disguise. As that same Minister put it some weeks ago, if the manufacturers are not going to utilise to the full for the benefit of the nation the advantages that they are now getting from these tariffs, then the State is going to step in and get complete control of affairs. The aim of the President, as quite clearly evidenced in his speeches, and latest of all last Saturday in Cork, is apparently to burst this scheme of things and then model them to the heart's desire. I have a great deal more respect for his power of destruction than I have for his power of building them up again. I must protest strongly against the growing tendency in this country to regard anything that is not outrageously and strongly Socialistic as an attack upon Christian principles. That is what it is coming to. Under the guise of pretending to be advancing to a Christian State he is trying to shove upon the country a strongly Socialistic State—whether it is Communistic or Sovietistic is a different thing. The present tendency as can be clearly seen from the speeches and measures of the Minister for Industry and Commerce is to increase State interference and State control in every walk of life. Other lands have viewed with dismay and I know one especially pretty well that has regarded as one of the biggest disasters that has befallen it the destruction of its middle classes. What does this Budget portend for the great bulk of these people—the middle classes? The wiping out of the middle classes. What has come to other countries as a result of the misfortune of war and other things is now to be forced on this country wilfully by a Fianna Fáil Government merely to make this country an experimenting ground for the social and economic theories of the Leader of the Government. Proletarianisation, making the country consist of a small body of industrialists and the State on the one hand giving employment and wage-earners on the other hand. That is the ideal that that Party has before it, that is the ideal of the Government; that is the ideal foreshadowed by the Budget and that is much worse than the Budget itself.
The Budget itself is a shock to the country, but if the country only knew what this Budget was an indication of, that this Budget meant the introduction of that policy I referred to, they would be much more alarmed and shocked than they are.
In very depressed circumstances the late Government managed in a way that won the envy of most States and statesmen in Europe to keep this country's head out of the water to the flood that was threatening most other countries. To the revolutionary minds who are now on the Government Benches an achievement of that kind is not worth anything. It is not worth their consideration but it was a solid, sound achievement. As I say this is the beginning of a policy in which all that will be risked. It is the gambler's spirit. At least in one respect Deputy Davin was right. It is a gambling with the resources of the nation; gambling with the lives of the middle classes and the poor, all alike. Their lives and their futures are being gambled on in this Budget so far as this particular policy is concerned.
We are asked to look forward to the bright future that is dangled before us, painted in vivid colours. That is what we get instead of information about the Budget. That is the realm of prophesy. The President is particularly strong in the rôle of prophet. He now comes forward as an apostle as well, and combines both rôles. What do most people see in this Budget? Most of the people see a mortgaging of the present, mortgaging it to such an extent that no future, except that proletarianised State to which I have referred, is possible for the country. This Budget is to feed the hungry! Quite so! It will drive many persons who are at present in employment out of employment and make them hungry. Of course, they can get relief work that is there for them. There are few rich here. The Minister for Finance acknowledged that. There was a time when he would have proclaimed from the housetops that there were few rich here and that any increase in taxation was a crime against the nation. Why does he not do so to-day? This is a poor man's Budget! It is a poor man's Budget in the sense that it is going to make—not the rich people—but all the comparatively well-to-do people poor and to make the poor paupers. A poor man's Budget! Yes, in that sense and that sense only. I wonder whether the claim of being a poor man's Budget is made in ignorance of the real economic condition under which any nation can live or whether it is made in callous neglect, not caring what happens so long as the experiment can be tried to make this small nation lead the world into what? As I said already, into a Socialistic State. You do not make a Socialistic State Christian by calling it Christian. You do not make a policy Christian by calling it Christian— nothing of the kind. Let us make no mistake about it, the whole tendency of the policy of the Party opposite is quite clear and the whole tendency of the Budget is in full accord with that tendency. Taken with the policy with regard to the Oath, this Budget so far as I can see means the last straw to the struggling agricultural community. As I say, this is only the beginning, and in that policy they will have got their death blow. You will have at the very best, even if you have that, merely a wage-earning class on the one hand and a few employers on the other. This Budget we are asked to support is to bring happiness and content to this country now and in the future. There have been many crimes committed by the Party opposite against the nation. Again and again they have vilified the nation and misrepresented things. They misrepresented them so far as taxation and other things were concerned when we were in office. When they get a chance of acting up to their prophecies we see what they do. I am glad that they only tried to save two million pounds and in doing so imposed extra taxation of three millions, because if they tried to act up to their earlier promises and tried to save eleven millions, we would probably have a Budget of fifty millions. This is a bad Budget in detail and as a whole; it is a bad Budget as part of a bad policy, and on that score I hope the House will vote against it.