Finance Bill, 1937—Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. As is the custom, the Finance Bill is designed to give statutory effect to the financial resolutions which, under the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, 1927, have the force of law until confirmed by legislation. Clauses 1 and 2 of the Bill, respectively, fix the rates of income-tax and surtax for the income-tax year, 1937-38 and relate also to income settled on children. Clause 3 gives effect to a concession to which I referred in my Budget speech and amends Section 39 of the Income-tax Act, 1918, by increasing from £52 to £80 the limit of annuity which may be assured by a trade union, while yet qualifying for the exemption from income-tax mentioned under the relevant section of the 1918 Act.

Clause 4, which relates to the setting-off of losses, is designed to meet an anomaly which arises from the fact that, under existing legislation, it sometimes happens that a trader who incurs a loss in his business is unable, for income-tax purposes, to get the benefit of such loss as a set-off against his profits during the ensuing six years to the full extent contemplated by Section 14 of the Finance Act of 1929, because in some of those years his profits are, for assessment purposes, partially wiped out by allowances for wear and tear of his plant and machinery. The next eight sections of the Bill relate to the customs and excise and have been before the House as Financial Resolutions Nos. 3 to 10, respectively. Clause 5 deals with the imposition of the new protective duties which are set out in the First Schedule of the Bill. Clause 6 reduces customs and excise duties on sugar as from the 1st June, next, to the extent necessary to secure that, with the reductions in wholesale prices which will be granted by Comhlucht Siúicre Eireann, Teoranta, there will be an effective reduction in the price of sugar, as a commodity, to the consumer of ¼d. per lb.

Clause 7 is designed to consolidate and reclassify in simpler form, in the interests of both the trader and the Administration, the rather complex duties on wearing apparel. Clause 8 refers to the concession which I mentioned in the Budget statement in customs duty charges in the case of consignments of parcels containing gifts. Clause 9——

Clause 9 deals with wheat, clause 10 with tea, clause 11 with amendments to Finance Acts, and clause 12 with the termination of customs duties.

If Deputy Mulcahy wishes to address the House, I am quite prepared to give way to him, but I think he is rather anticipating the due efflux of time. The general election was not decided upon last month. I was saying that clause 8 gives legislative effect to the concession in regard to customs charges on parcels or consignments containing gifts. Clause 9 terminates, with effect as from the 15th April, the operation of the customs duty on imported wheat. Clause 10 reduces, as from 14th June, the customs duty on tea by 4d. a lb.

Which Fianna Fáil put on, with the wheat tax.

Spring has got into the Deputy's blood.

I wish it would get into the Minister's blood.

Clauses 11 and 12 amend and repeal, respectively, the existing customs duties as set out in Schedules 4 and 5 of the Bill. The two remaining clauses in Part II of the Bill, clauses 13 and 14, have not previously been before the House. Clause 13 remedies a defect in the Cement Act of 1933 by providing for the refund of the portion of the import licence fee on cement, attributable to a difference between the amount authorised to be imported by any licence granted under the Act, and the amount actually imported, where the latter is less than the amount shown on the licence.

That is generous.

Clause 14 authorises customs officers to require, where necessary, the production in duplicate of the certificate of origin of imported goods and, where the Saorstát has a trade agreement with the country of origin, to cause the transmission of a copy of such certificate to a representative of that country. I may say that this change is not likely to impose any burden on traders.

Part III of the Bill deals with a number of miscellaneous matters. Clause 15 provides for a reduction, as indicated in the Budget, of 10/- per cent. in the rate of stamp duty on consolidated bank notes. Clause 16 relaxes somewhat the more stringent provisions of the 1935 Finance Act by providing that the banks may release moneys held on deposit receipt in joint names following the death of one of the holders on receipt of authority from the Revenue Commissioners to do so without waiting, as at present, for a certificate that the full death duties on the amount have been paid. Clause 17 enables the Minister for Finance to pay awards of compensation under the Damage to Property (Compensation) Acts in cash only instead of partly in cash and partly in securities as heretofore. Clause 18 provides for the payment from the Road Fund to the Exchequer in the current financial year, as in 1936-37, of a sum of £100,000 towards the cost of employment schemes.

Clause 19 is designed to remove any doubts which may exist as to the legality of applying to the management of Saorstát Government loans the various statutes and regulations applicable to loans of the late United Kingdom at the date of the establishment of the Saorstát. As the question of the future management of such stocks is one of the matters on which it is expected the Commission on Banking Currency and Credit, at present sitting, will report, pending the receipt and consideration of that report it is premature to introduce now a new code dealing with this matter. Clause 20 is designed to give permanent statutory effect to the section which appears in the annual Appropriation Acts regarding the declaration to be made before payment can be made for non-effective services and prescribes a penalty for the making of a false declaration. Clause 21 is the usual clause, putting the taxes and duties to be imposed by this Act under the care and management of the Revenue Commissioners.

The Minister did not tell us anything about Clause 22.

I said that Clause 22 gives the short title, the construction and the commencement of the Act, providing for the construing of the Act, together with the Income Tax Acts, and the date on which the Act commences to run.

So, according to what the Minister says, I take it that the word "construction" has nothing to do with the capacity of the people to bear these burdens?

Could the Minister give us any information with regard to Section 18? It may have escaped my recollection, but I am not sure whether the Minister included the figures of this year with the figures of last year, in the course of his Budget speech?

I referred to it in the course of the Budget speech, because, as the Deputy knows, I referred to the White Paper of receipts and expenditure in which that item of £100,000 was set out.

For this year?

The Minister for Finance, Sir, has called the House together specially this week to deal with the Second Stage of the Finance Bill, and nothing else was to be dealt with. The House is used to the insolent manner with which the Minister for Finance treats it, but I submit, Sir, that there has been nothing so insolent as the way in which he is now treating the House. The House has been brought together specially to-day to deal with the Second Stage of the Finance Bill, after a very definite amount of criticism by the Minister's own colleagues and the Opposition on the Budget and Financial Resolutions, but not a single particle of the criticism has been replied to in the House by the Minister for Finance. One would expect that, at least, the Minister for Finance would make some attempt to reply to the criticisms that were levelled against the enormous exactions that he is expecting to take out of the people of this country. One would expect him to make some attempt to justify these exactions, in view of the fact that the people of this country are not able to bear them. On the occasion of his Budget statement the Minister did not attempt to justify these exactions.

On a point of order, Sir, I think it might facilitate the debate if I called attention to the fact that I understood that the Second Stage of the Bill, and particularly the introductory speech on it, was designed to inform the House as to the detailed provisions of the Bill, and that it was not intended to afford the Minister concerned, or anybody else, an opportunity to reply to queries of this nature.

It is not a function of the Chair to prescribe what type of speech a Minister or Deputy may make on this or any other Bill, provided it is within the Rules of Order.

That is a pity, Sir.

Perhaps; but the Chair is thankful not to have that added responsibility. The Minister had an opportunity, on another occasion, to reply to the criticisms referred to. Whether he did so or not, I know not— neither is it a question for the Chair.

The Minister knows that he was trifling with the House when he raised what he called a point of order. He told us how the Finance Bill is designed, but I suggest that it ought to be designed with the point of view of letting the people of the country know what the Government propose to do for the country and what they want to do with the money that is collected from the people. I suggest that there ought to be some cognisance taken of the capacity of the people, from whom the money is collected, to pay that money. We heard before, from the Minister, of a normal Budget. This is, according to him, our second normal Budget. The Minister went before the clothing trade, two years ago, and told them that the next Budget would be a normal Budget. He said that, on account of the economic policy, at that time, in 1935, it might be at least another generation before things would be normal, but that after that period, they would be able to return to normal conditions. However, two years after that, the Minister introduces a Budget which Deputy Cosgrave described as the worst Budget yet—a Budget which reduces in no way the ordinary burden of taxation of the people, who might be expected to be relieved. There are certain reductions in the taxes on tea and sugar, but actually, as far as one can see, that gives no reduction at all in the prices to be paid by the people across the counter in the shop. The Minister is very meticulous in the matter of points of order, and therefore one would expect him to tell us what was in the Finance Bill as it stood. One would expect him to tell us what exactly the repercussions of the present Finance Bill would be on the people of the country. The Minister has had a Finance Commission sitting for some time past now, inquiring into the finances of this country. That commission has been sitting for the last two years. The Minister himself has prevented, deliberately, the publication of the evidence given before that commission.

That is a mis-statement, Sir.

It is a fact that various Departments of the Government have given evidence before that Finance Commission. It is also a fact that that evidence was fully prepared. The Minister for Finance, however, with perfect control over that situation, has prevented the placing of that evidence before any of the Deputies of this House.

I have no control over the proceedings of that commission. I have not interfered with their findings, in any way, good, bad or indifferent.

Facts have been produced before that commission that were denied here to Deputies. Not a scrap of that evidence has been produced before the Deputies of this House. Facts that were put before that commission were denied to Deputies of this House who asked questions by the ordinary procedure of Parliamentary Question. I submit that that could not be done except through the instrumentality of the Minister for Finance. If facts are available in any Government Department that can be placed before a commission that is sitting and that has been set up by the Government, I submit that the Deputies of this House are entitled to get those facts by way of Parliamentary Question, and I further submit that it can only be due to the policy of the Minister for Finance that any Department would withhold definite information that that Department has in its possession. Therefore, I am pointing out to the House that, in dealing with this whole question of taxation, that is concerned in this Finance Bill, and with the general conditions prevailing in the country, the House is denied the information that is in the possession of the Departments concerned and to which the House is entitled. I suggest, further, that, leading up to a general election, special care is being taken that, not only will the report of the commission on financial matters not be published in time, but that not a scrap of evidence, given either by private persons or any Department of this State, will be available to inform the people of this country as to the actual facts. That very fact itself adds the greatest possible significance to the stupid efforts of the Minister for Finance to-day in addressing this House on this Bill. The Minister is saddling this country under the terms of this Finance Bill with an appalling amount of taxation, in addition to the hidden taxation that has been already imposed on the people. We ask the Minister again in this, his second normal Budget, are the conditions of the country to-day going to continue to be the normal conditions of the people? Is the attitude of members of the Executive Council to-day, towards the well-being of the people, the normal attitude we are to expect for the next few years, if by any chance the band plays so loudly that the duped people of this country will send back the supreme Nationalists of this country to run the affairs of the country for the next five years?

I want briefly to summarise a few matters with a view to getting the Minister to deal specifically with them. The Minister for Agriculture has stated that unless we can retain that part of our external market, in which we have a footing at the present moment, we shall have to go, as to one-third, out of agricultural production. I admit that going out of agricultural production, as to one-third, to-day would probably be a smaller matter than going out of one-third of our agricultural production in 1931, but the results of it might be very much more appalling than the results of the fall in agricultural production that has taken place since 1931. The Minister knows that in the year 1931 we had an external market for our agricultural products that was three times the value of the home market. The Government now admit the importance of that, and the Minister knows that at our very doors within the next couple of months discussions are going to take place which may affect very definitely the extent to which our farmers are going to have any outside market at all.

The people on whom the Minister is placing this burden of taxation are people who, during the last five years have had £38,000,000 or £40,000,000 unscrupulously taken out of their pockets, £38,000,000 or £40,000,000 that could be employed to-day in the further building up of our agricultural economy or in the further building up of our industrial economy. That huge sum has been blown sky-high, just as effectively as if it were blown sky-high by powder and shot. What that means to the country, even on the industrial development side alone, is indicated by Ministerial statements that have been made, that the additional capital that has been put into the building of new industries in this country in the last five years amounts to £6,000,000. Seven times the amount of new capital that was put into industry, in the great rush and the great development that Ministers claim has taken place in the last five years, has been blown sky-high, producing nothing more of value to this country than was produced for continental countries when shot and shell were flying over them during the years of the War. We have been left with a position in this country which shows less agricultural labourers employed on the land. There were less male persons employed on the land last year than before ever we got this new economy that is going to last for a generation. There was less money, by at least £1,000,000, in the pockets of agricultural labourers alone, to buy the products of this country. There was a smaller consumption of such things as boots and shoes, a smaller consumption of clothing turned out by those people whom the Minister for Finance addressed recently and said that everything had been settled up now for a generation. It was admitted in a volume published last year that the consuming capacity of our people, as far as the products are concerned, of the clothing industry, which the Minister described as the third most important industry in the country, has substantially gone down. There is a regular crescendo of emigration from every part of the country but particularly from the poorer parts of the country.

When the Minister for Finance had increased the taxation of this country by £4,000,000, after promising to reduce it by £2,000,000—in spite of the fact that he also levied £2,000,000 that had been previously levied for one purpose only, and that he kept it for general purposes—he and other Ministers went round the country saying that all this increased taxation was going to come off the rich people. We now see that it has gone back on the poor. So much was it coming out of the pockets of the poor two years ago, that it required all the effrontery of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance to say: "Yes, why should not the working man pay?" No Minister could be got so far to forget everything they had previously said as to make such a statement and the Minister had to get his Parliamentary Secretary to come to the House and ask: "Why should not the working man pay?" The working man has been paying ever since. Just as taxation falls back most heavily on the backs of the weakest sections of the community, the bad effects of the present economic conditions in this country are falling on the shoulders of the weakest section of the community. We have cries of distress from parts of the country like Bantry, Ballyvourney and other places in the west of Ireland. We have information that people are going to England in droves from Mayo, from Connemara, from Donegal and from districts from which there never was emigration to England before. We have our people forced to emigrate in that way and, in spite of the Minister's denials and protestations on the matter, he knows only too well that the population of this country which had begun to rise in 1930 and which had gone up in 1931, 1932 and 1933, began to fall again by December, 1934. Our population is tending downwards definitely now, having been hit by the Minister's new policy which is going to last for a generation.

Before the Minister asks the House to pass this measure, in the first place he should reply to the questions that were put up here on the Budget on the particular matter on which we asked him here to reply. It bears upon the future of our agricultural industry. Unless some action is taken with regard to the things that are threatening to-day, our farmers will be reduced within the next couple of years to an infinitely worse condition than they are in to-day. Our agricultural labourers will not be bemoaning that Fianna Fáil cut their wages pool by something over £1,000,000. They will be bemoaning that Fianna Fáil wiped out any prospect of a lot of them ever having wages or ever having homes in this country. The British market is despised.

The Minister is aware, if he bothers about those things at all, that the percentage of our export trade that was done with Great Britain last year was higher than it was the year before; that we were, therefore, depending more on our trade with Great Britain last year than we were in the year before. He knows that we got about £2,000,000 more from the British market than we did in the year before; although it was only half what we got in 1930, and £14,000,000 less than we got in 1931, nevertheless, we had a greater part of our external trade depending last year on the purchases of Great Britain and Northern Ireland than we had the year before. The condition of affairs that has operated since 1931 and 1932 between the British market and those who are members of the Commonwealth of Nations is indicated by the following figures which have just been published. In 1930 Canada got £38,100,000 from Great Britain and Northern Ireland for her produce. The world economic depression was operating at that particular time, and in 1931 the figure was reduced to £32,800,000. Then the Ottawa discussions took place—the discussions that were going to regulate intra-Commonwealth trade, and achieve the best co-operation that full discussion can achieve to cure the effects of world depression on the countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Canada, which got £32,800,000 in 1931 —before the Ottawa discussions took place — from Great Britain and Northern Ireland for her produce got £75,000,000 last year.

£75,000,000. The Minister may pay, I think it is 24/- a week to people on relief work. They get £1 and 4/-. The Canadians got from Great Britain 32,800,000 of that kind of £ in 1931, and they got 75,000,000 of that kind of £ in 1936.

For what commodities?

For the produce of Canada. For the produce of Australia, that country got £45,700,000 in 1931, and they got £61,400,000 in 1936. What New Zealand got from Great Britain had increased from £37,800,000 to £43,700,000. What India got had increased from £36,700,000 to £51,900,000. What South Africa got had increased by only about half a million pounds. We had gone down from £36,500,000 to £20,400,000. We had that very substantial drop. Special reasons prevented agreements being made by our Ministers in Ottawa to get the same protection for and to look as efficiently after the interests of our people as the Canadians, the South Africans, the New Zealanders and the Australians did. Therefore, we were left in that particular position. Nevertheless, in spite of that, our dependency on Great Britain has been shown by the trading of last year to have been increased in relation to our dependency on other countries. Everybody knows, from the experience of the last five years, that except our interests in the British market are retained, and very effectively retained and improved, the Minister will not be introducing many of these Finance Acts; it will not be much use for him to do so because the people will not be able to pay.

The figures which I have given indicate what can be done by Ministers sitting down in a responsible and courageous way to hammer out their problems. At the present time there is attack being made by very powerful and very influential countries on the Ottawa policy in relation to other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations being pursued by Great Britain—the policy which says: "Protect the home farmer first; trade with the Dominions then; and, after that, the rest of the world can come." The Minister knows that a deliberate attempt is being made by some of the larger and more important countries at the present time to get out of the inert and futile and passive way in which they have sat down among their miseries, and among the known causes of their miseries, for the last ten years. All the principal countries of the world declared in 1927 that they wanted freer world trade and must have freer world trade if the various countries of the world were going to have any chance of economic recovery, not to speak of further economic development. They have made the situation, you might say, worse since 1927 instead of better, by the tactics which they have adopted. Now they see that the policies which were contemplated in 1927 must be put into operation if we are not going to have further economic misery in the world, and further war. A very big move is on in many of the principal countries of the world to get greater opportunity of trading. In these circumstances, a very big attack is being made by important external interests on what I shall call the Ottawa policy, and very big and influential interests in Great Britain are ranging themselves on the side of that attack. We are told by some people in Great Britain who at the present time are attacking the Ottawa spirit, that within the next month Britain's world policy must be re-settled, and re-settled in a way that will give greater satisfaction to the United States of America and to other important countries in the world at the expense of some of the British Dominions. The policy of the Minister for Finance and his colleagues at the present time is to keep themselves out of the rough-and tumble of international discussion on economic matters. One may say that they are now sitting in absolute silence while an approach is being made in London to economic discussions that will have a most important bearing on this country. The Minister and his colleagues, and members of this House, are well aware that, when the World Economic Conference of 1927 took place, the representatives of this country subscribed wholeheartedly to the general principle that, except there was greater facility for world trade, for the passage of men, goods and capital throughout the world, we were bound to have not only an economic deadlock, but that type of internationalism that invariably led to war. While we subscribed generally to that policy, we emphasised that, owing to the economic condition of this country as a result of its past history, we made reservations in relation to countries like our own and to our own whose industrial side was inadequately developed: that while subscribing to a policy of more liberal trading throughout the world, we insisted that there would be reservations with regard to countries such as this, and that we were particularly alive to our interests in the British market in relation to our agricultural produce.

Is that fight now being dropped by the present Executive Council? Is it being dropped in the light of the appalling experiences they have had of the conditions to which the farming community and every other element in the country have been reduced by the shutting down of a substantial part of the free market that we had in Great Britain? Are the Ministry sitting down to squeeze money out of the unfortunate people here to force our agricultural produce into the British market at an appalling loss, at an appalling reduction in our production here, at increasing agricultural unemployment here, at increasing unemployment generally throughout the country, and at increasing emigration from the country: are they going to sit down quietly and silently and leave the movements that are in progress at the moment, and that must come to some kind of head within the next month, to develop, while our interests are left unlooked after there and our battle left unfought?

No matter what the President may pretend, there are members of the Executive Council who went to Ottawa and sat down around a table with the representatives of Canada. South Africa and Australia. They must have some conception of what these men mean to their countries, what duties they have to their countries, and what their outlook is with regard to the discharge of those duties. They must have learned something from sitting down around a council table with men that belong to countries that are as free as our own, men who recognise their freedom instead of snivelling in their cowardice in the way that the members of our Executive Council do. They must have learned something from all that. They did learn that there was an accommodation that they could come to with the British, that it was an accommodation that they personally would be satisfied to come to, but they have since lain down under the anger, or the austere frown, of the chief citizen, or as he may become, the chief citizen maker. Their courage and their sense of responsibility all melted away before that frown when they came back in 1932. Has the condition of things shown in this country since had any reaction of any kind on them? Are they going to sit down to-day and allow policies to be dictated by bigger and more influential countries, to allow the spirit that is indicated among some sections of political economic thought in Great Britain to rise up and gather strength by reason of the fact that they are on the side of the bigger battalions, on the side of the British export trade itself, and further to eat into the interests that we have in the British market?

These are the things that we expect the Minister for Finance to tell us something about before he glibly asks us to pass the Second Reading of this Bill. The only reason that he gave the House for asking it to pass the Bill was that Section 1 dealt with income-tax, that Section 2 dealt with something else, that Section 3 dealt with wheat—a duty that was put on by Fianna Fáil—that Section 10 dealt with tea, and so on. I ask the Minister does he realise that he is the Minister for Finance in a country that is as free as any country under the sun, that he has on his shoulders the responsibility for realising the condition to which the people of this country have been brought, the tendency of these conditions, and the capacity of the people not only to pay those burdens to-day, but to have any chance of paying them to-morrow if the present conditions last. All the signs that we have been able to see up to this show that Ministers are sticking in a silent and cowardly spirit in their own rooms, as far as they can out of the way of ordinary contact with the people, and are driving what they call their policy along the road; that they are pushing it to-day without knowing where that policy is going. We cannot dictate that Ministers will open their mouths. When the Minister asks the Ceann Comhairle for an opinion on the matter, it is clear that he is only looking for some kind of a smoke screen to hide from the people outside that he is not willing to open his mouth in the Dáil.

The policy that is enshrined in this Finance Bill is a ruthless policy of fleecing the unfortunate people, who have been reduced to a very piteous type of poverty in hundreds of thousands of cases throughout the country. The Minister must know that it cannot last. The Minister must know that there are two or three critical months in front of us and that, unless we have a courageous and responsible Ministry to speak for our people, international decisions may be taken affecting world trade that will prevent us getting back, to the extent to which we ought to if we had sane government restored in this country markets without which we can neither be a decently-developed agricultura country nor an industrial country, and without which we cannot have a culture that will be worth talking about.

I notice the Minister is being very valiantly supported by his Party in connection with this Bill. He has four able stalwarts supporting him out of this Party of 77, or something like that.

Seventy seven living tombstones we were told they were by a Fianna Fáil Deputy.

That is very creditable to the Minister and his Party.

Like the Deputy's own Party, they must know the quality of the speech to which we have just listened.

I have a larger proportion of my Party present than the Minister has. If he puts the two together and directs a count he may not get his Bill. The Minister shocked us when he told us about the £100,000 from the Road Fund. He gave the House no information on that in his Budget speech. If it is hidden under "Miscellaneous Revenue," it is not fair to the House that the information in connection with that should have been kept from them. The Minister took credit, in the course of his long speech on the Budget, for having £1,052,000 for unemployment assistance. I said the other day that the first item of expenditure in connection with that big sum of money is a salary of £1,000 to an individual. I am quite sure that the unfortunate people who have to get unemployment assistance will appreciate that fact. When we have huge figures totted up here one after another showing the expenditure of a certain amount of money for relieving unemployment we find that some of it is acquired by taking it from another fund, because the Road Fund provides money for employment and is exclusively for that purpose. The Minister ought to justify the subtraction or the embezzlement of £100,000 from that fund without at least showing that to the House.

I do not think the word "embezzlement" can be considered Parliamentary.

What happens with regard to embezzlement is that money is taken surreptitiously from some person without his knowledge and used by another person without the knowledge of anybody. That is what has happened here.

Embezzlement is a criminal offence.

This is little short of criminal.

The Deputy said without the knowledge of the House.

The House was not informed and would not have been informed if I had not asked the question.

I presume most Deputies can read.

Most Deputies who read the Finance Bill find the information there for the first time.

It is not through the Minister's speech. It is hidden in the item of "Miscellaneous Revenue," if at all.

There is a note which sets out that these are compiled on the basis of last year's revenue and rates of duty.

Is this a rate of duty?

No—and legislation

Notwithstanding the fact, it has to be legislated for again this year. I think that case goes by the board.

Income-tax has to be legislated for this year.

Precisely, but this particular item has to get a special reference. The Road Fund has not to be legislated for each year. People pay their road tax, and they pay it for the express purpose of getting good roads and not for the purpose of helping the Minister to find money for his Unemployment Fund. The Minister was asked certain questions on the occasion of the Budget and he has not replied to any of them. In fact, his speech on the last day, if I might say so with all respect to the Chair, was rather a joke. It was not in keeping with what is due to the House. If we are to have a Parliament at all, certain parliamentary procedure, as far as the Government are concerned, has been reduced almost to a farce. As I have said, there are four members of his Party here. One has gone out, but he has been replaced by another recruit. The big item of revenue is in respect of customs. We happen to be on a rising tide of prices. We are also on a rising tide of expenditure. Unfortunately, the expenditure will remain after the normal reduction of prices takes place, and it is practically bound to take place as soon as this orgy of expenditure on the other side of the Channel ceases. I notice the Minister is now beaten by two. He has only three members present, including himself.

Three crows sitting upon a wall.

This is a matter of some consequence. The Minister's buoyant revenue has been, to some extent, helped by the remarkable recovery across the Channel and the consequent increase of commodity prices which has resulted from that. Deputy Mulcahy really put his finger upon the important question in this country at the present moment, and that is our agricultural situation. Certain minds have been agitated to some extent by a document recently published as to what the political consequences of that instrument may be. I find that hidden away surreptitiously there is as close a bond with what is called the British Commonwealth of Nations as ever there was before the publication of that document. If that document becomes law, we will still be as closely allied with the British Commonwealth of Nations as we were ten years ago.

That does not arise.

It arises in this way— that there is no departure in public policy, as far as the publication of the Government's intentions and policy during the week-end is concerned. The policy of association with the British Commonwealth of Nations is down there in black and white, although hidden like this £100,000.

And is not relevant.

It is relevant to this extent——

It is not relevant to discuss a Bill or other document which has not yet come before the House and so anticipate the discussion on the Finance Bill, or any other Bill for that matter.

I am not discussing anything—I am stating a fact, and the fact is undeniable, and the Minister cannot deny it.

The Deputy is most disorderly.

I can state that there was passed last December an Act regulating the external relations of this country so that on that political ground the Minister has no case to make as to why he should not conclude and negotiate something better than the annual surrender that is taking place every year.

The Coal-Cattle Pact does not arise on this. The Deputy has referred to an annual surrender and to the general policy of the Government. Surely that arises on the Vote for the President of the Executive Council.

I hope he will be prepared to answer then.

£2,500,000 of the £31,000,000 in that green document are for bounties.

The Estimate for export bounties and subsidies has already been discussed. This has to do with the manner in which money is to be raised.

There are £2,500,000 for the annual surrender, and, what is worse, arising out of that, there is a sum of £80,000 for calf-skins.

This is not the Appropriation Bill; it is the Finance Bill.

I know that quite well. I say that there is a sum of £31,000,000 in taxation there which the Minister is raising. The Minister must have some reason for it. He is not collecting it for nothing. If this country has to pay £31,000,000, something more must be done to enable it to pay it than is being done. There must be a reconditioning of the main industry of the country. There must be more than that. There must be an effort made to reduce the cost of living to enable people in industrial occupations to put out goods at prices comparable with those of their competitors. There must be a tightening up of Government services all round which will render much less necessary the collection of such a sum annually. Instead of talking about income-tax, section by section, as he did, the Minister ought to have saved the time of the House. He should have sent us word here that he wanted this voted on and that he has not the time to attend the House, and he should have asked his Party to come in with the closure and have got it through in that fashion. The Minister had better not lose his temper about public business.

I am perfectly placid. I think it is the Deputy who is going off the deep end now.

He is inclined to do so now. He is anxious to get away from the House and to have this question dealt with rapidly. If the Minister paid more attention to his duties here, he might get these things through much more quickly than he does. I notice that there is an addition to the numbers of the Minister's Party here. They must have heard that there was a discussion going on. I should like the Minister to deal more lucidly, if he has time, with Section 20. What is the nature of the declaration which he thinks is necessary in this case? If the money is paid quarterly, he need not look for the declaration in each of the four quarters. What gives rise to the necessity for this and is it necessary to impose such a heavy penalty as £30 in the event of a person making a declaration which is untrue in any material particular? Ministers will not give very straight answers to certain questions when they are put to them here. They like to postpone them, but the person who has to make a return such as this has not the same time as the Minister has to make up his mind. While Ministers are particularly severe with regard to such individuals, they are very lax with regard to themselves. Quite a number of people—I have had experience of it in business myself— make the most extraordinary mistakes, and in all good faith. It would appear to a very censorious individual that they were untrue in material respects. I recollect the case of a man who kept himself out of an old-age pension, and who never got it. He told me that on one occasion he was in the union three months before. I took his word for it and, some time after, in checking it up, I found that it was 15 months since he had been there; but because he had not a very good recollection and made that mistake against himself, he was knocked out of his pension. The same applies to these matters. I should like to know, before subscribing to this, what is the meaning of it, what is the necessity for it, and what the Minister means by the phrase "untrue in any material particular."

It will perhaps be difficult to speak on this measure if the Minister for Finance is allowed to be the acting Ceann Comhairle——

There must be no reflection on the Chair.

None whatever. I am only anticipating interruptions from a Minister.

On a point of order, if a Deputy believes that another Deputy is out of order, is he entitled to ask the ruling of the Chair on the point? Is he within his rights in doing so?

If he is capable of any belief, yes.

And, in doing so, he does not usurp the functions of the Chair?

Certainly not.

It simply shows his innocence.

This Bill is really a bill of £31,000,000 on the people. It is mainly composed of customs, and my chief objection is to the imposition on the people of rapidly increasing charges at a time when they are not properly equipped to bear those charges. In that respect I think we are entitled to argue as to the capacity of the people to endure the imposition put on them. So far as the bulk of the people are concerned, their capability of meeting increased taxation in various forms depends on the prosperity of our chief industry, agriculture. We had a pretty good market for agricultural produce here. That market was interrupted for reasons into which I am not going now, but since that interruption, that British market—I may as well get down to Britain straight away—has in the last couple of years greatly increased in value. Other countries have been making efforts to capture increasing portions of that market every year. We have evidence of that in the increased imports of food into Britain from Canada, New Zealand and Australia, not to speak of countries outside the Commonwealth, while we have been reducing our imports there. That might be all to the good if the Government had acted up to their promise that, when they had lost that British market, which was no good, they would find alternative markets to fill the gap, or even to improve on the previous position.

It has been the habit of Deputies to accuse this Party of being tied to the British market, and, in fact, one Deputy said that we were tied hand and foot to the British market. We have always argued that the prosperity of agriculture here depends primarily on our exports into the British market. The Government and their followers have argued otherwise and the responsibility rests on them of proving that their contention is correct. If that is so, they ought, after five years, to have been able to find some alternative market that would compensate the people here for the loss of the market they did have. The Minister for Agriculture said that we were definitely increasing our markets in certain foreign countries and to such an extent, he said, that when he came to put his proposals before the House, we would rejoice. I should like to put to the Minister for Finance the same point that I put to the Minister for Agriculture, that, if such markets have been found, if they have proved so profitable and if the Minister has them in his own pocket, it is certainly time they were thrown open to the general agriculturist to be taken advantage of and should not be the closed borough of a semi-Government Department.

One of the reasons why we have been unable to maintain our exports to the British market is the unwillingness of the Government Party to export to that market. That is rather confused by their recent efforts to capture what I might call the tail-end of that market —what is left of the market after the other countries have soaked it. The Government are making terrible efforts to capture the tail-end of the British market even though our exports are subject to a 40 per cent. tariff. They are satisfied to give 40 per cent. of our stock for nothing to get into that market. They have engaged in all sorts of regulations to keep the agricultural community from coming here and tearing Leinster House up by the roots. The Minister for Finance has himself lent a hand because, two years ago, he said that they controlled the production of calves. That is a rather unique undertaking for a Government. Whether they controlled the production or not, they certainly succeeded in exterminating these calves, with the result that we are now short 300,000 cattle of mature age.

Taxation and expenditure are the matters which arise for discussion on this Bill. We have had before the House various Estimates. It is not permissible to have a running debate over the Finance Bill and several Estimates. The Deputy would be in order in referring to certain consequences of the Government's policy on agriculture or industry. He may not redebate the Vote for bounties and subsidies or the Vote for agriculture, as he would do by reopening the question of the killing of calves, surplus cattle and so forth.

I do not want to get into such a debate and I bow to your ruling.

The Deputy appreciates that the Minister for Finance is not the Minister responsible for agricultural policy.

On a point of order, it is almost necessary, when dealing with the Finance Bill, to discuss the conditions of the people. It is necessary to find out if we have reached the normal stage to which the Minister for Finance refers——

I never used the word.

The Minister told the people we were to have a normal Budget.

I did not say we had reached normal.

The Minister referred to a normal Budget. The calf-slaughter policy of the Government will prevent people from supporting this Bill, because it is quite obvious that the killing of 500,000 calves within the last two years has made the people poorer and less capable of taking advantage of the economic possibilities.

I shall not dwell longer on the calf policy, save to advise the Minister, now that he has succeeded in controlling production by certain means, to take control off and teach the cows the value of increased production. We have to make up the leeway for which the Government has been responsible by its agricultural policy within the last few years. Regarding the accusation that we, of this Party, were tied hand and foot to the British market, I say we would have been satisfied if the Government had found alternative markets to enable us to bear this burden. If anybody can be accused of being tied hand and foot to the British market, it is the Government. If they are not tied hand and foot to that market, they are certainly tied hand and foot to the purchase of certain articles from Britain. They have given a monopoly of certain articles to Britain for the privilege of getting into the tail-end of the British market. The Government are going to be die-hard importers of British commodities, if we are to judge by recent pacts. We of this Party never made a pact giving the British a monopoly of any class of commodities. Somebody has spoken about normality. If conditions had been within reasonable distance of normal, there might not have been an outcry by the agricultural population as to the increase in taxation. There would, however, have been some protest, because no community will bear an increase of from £6,000,000 to £8,000,000 in taxation without criticism. The position of the agricultural community has been rendered tenfold more difficult because of the conditions.

There are certain optimists in the Fianna Fáil Party—the Government are, I think, to be counted amongst them—who think that, because there has been a little increase in the price of agricultural commodities recently, everything is well. In every market, including the foreign markets which the Government have found, there is always a tendency to rise and fall. It is not because there is a temporary rise in the price of any commodity in the market in which you sell your goods that you can envisage prosperity for the future. Prices for certain agricultural exports have increased lately. They have probably lifted the farmer out of the slough in which he was stuck. You cannot increase the price of cattle by a couple of pounds all round without doing somebody some good. That does not, however, take away from the responsibility of the Government in depriving the people of the value of the cattle they are exporting. The real value is about 40 per cent. more than the agriculturists are getting. All the efforts of the Government to find alternative markets have failed. There is no use in their saying that they have found such markets. Any market they have found has been infinitesimal compared with the loss sustained in the British market. We might in recent years, if we were sane people, have shared in the benefit other countries derived by exporting to that market, but the policy of the Government prevented us from doing that. It was their duty to find new markets to enable the agricultural community to bear their losses on the British market. If the Government can make a couple of pacts with Britain, they ought to be capable of ending the set of circumstances which have placed us in the position in which we are against our will. Some of us hold that the matter could be settled easily if there was sanity on the part of the Government. It does not seem impossible that, when you can arrange two pacts with certain people, you could not go a little further and, with good-will on both sides, enter into a really big pact—a pact that would bring to an end the misery we, of the agricultural community, have endured for the last five or six years.

Deputy Bennett has tempted me to intervene in this debate by his reference to agriculture and to the British market. Deputy Cosgrave referred to the empty benches on this side. It is very difficult to keep the benches filled when we have to listen to such speeches as were delivered by Deputy Cosgrave and Deputy Bennett.

The Deputy will soon fill up the House.

Every second reference by Deputy Bennett was to the British market. He told us of the loss of the British market, that this Government destroyed the British market, and that it had not given the farmers anything in lieu of the British market.

But you gave them the new Constitution.

Deputy Bennett's Party, when in power, did not give the farmers one particular market. I think the whole country now recognises that the Deputy's Party neglected that particular market. They paid no attention to it. That was the only market over which they had control—the home market.

Had we not that always?

I will tell the Deputy the kind of market the Irish farmers had when the Cumann na nGaedheal Government was in power. We had oats dumped in here from Russia, and we had barley dumped in from other countries. The same applied to bacon. We had it coming in here from all parts of the world. We had eggs and cheese coming from China, I am told, during that period. The memories of the farmers of this country are not so short as the Deputy thinks. They do not forget what they suffered during the period of the Cumann no nGaedheal régime. They underwent great hardships. The Party opposite talk about the cost of living then being very cheap. We know that bacon could be bought cheaply. But at that time, to my grief, I remember going to the fairs in Kildare with pigs and we could get no sale for them. I remember deputation after deputation of farmers came up from my county to Government Buildings asking for assistance in the sale of their produce. Barley growers from Kildare came up and implored the Governmental powers at that time to do something to secure them a market for their corn. But nothing was done. Since Fianna Fáil became a Government the bacon industry has been protected. The pig breeders have been given the home market. The butter industry has been protected, and a market has been made available for all the corn produced in the country. Deputy Bennett spoke about the present scarcity of cattle in the country. We have heard here terrible lamentations about the slaughter of calves. But the fact is that at the present moment there is more breeding stock in the way of cows in the country than during the time of the Cumann na nGaedheal Government. The production of young stock is greater, and there is one very important thing—a better market for young stock.

There is an inducement to the farmers to breed better stock, stock that matures at an early age. I know that the exporters of cattle are now buying cattle at a younger age and exporting them to England than formerly. These cattle are making very good prices now. There is one section of the people who are not doing so well; these are the big cattle feeders, the big graziers. These men are not now able to compete with the exporters of young stock. They complain that they cannot buy stores at the old prices, that the stores are too dear. That is the complaint. The graziers are not able to buy store cattle as cheaply as they could under the Cumann na nGaedheal régime. I was at a few fairs in my county recently, and I saw that progressive farmers who have reared young beasts and brought them to the market in good condition got good prices for them—prices with which the home grazier is not able to compete. The fact is that the farmers will have to change their methods. The time has gone by when a small tillage farmer is going to rear store cattle and keep them for three or four years and then sell them to a grazier in Meath or elsewhere. The farmers are changing their methods and adapting themselves to tillage. They are producing cattle to sell at an earlier age. Agriculture is much improved. I listened to Deputy Mulcahy bemoaning the high cost of living. Well, we cannot have it both ways. His method of keeping the cost of living low when he was in office was to allow the produce of sweated labour from other countries to be brought in here. We had imports of Polish bacon and Chinese eggs when he was in office. But Fianna Fáil has stopped all that. There is hope in the country at the present time, there is hope everywhere but on the benches opposite.

What I am saying is quite true. I am speaking from experience. I am aware that where land is now let for grazing it is let at an increased figure. Conditions have very much improved in the country. I would ask the Opposition, for their own sakes, not to be making fools of themselves and trying to tell the farmers what the farmers themselves know very well.

Deputy Harris is telling the farmers that they can wipe out the cattle trade, as he now claims they have done, and at the same time have increased tillage.

No, I did not say that.

There is no other interpretation of the Deputy's words.

No. The cattle system has changed in the country. The tillage farmer rearing young cattle has not now to keep them for two or three years and then sell them to the graziers. With better feeding and improved breeding the tillage farmer is now getting as good price for yearlings or 1½ year olds as he formerly did for two or three year olds. I know that because I have experience of it myself.

Of feeding fat cattle?

What I am saying is my experience. I have seen beasts 1 year to 1½ years old now bringing £11 or £12 in the market. These beasts were well fed and well bred. Formerly the farmer carried them on for two or three years and they were half starved. He is now getting as much and more for the yearling or the 1½ year old beast as he was then getting for the three year olds. The farmers of the country are adapting themselves to the tillage policy of the Government, and the conditions are improving. That is what is happening.

Deputy Harris will have to evangelise West Cork.

I listened to Deputy Harris, a Kildare farmer, telling us that the Government saved the home market for the Irish farmer and that as a result of that the home market is improved. Has Deputy Harris ever really looked into that question and into the disastrous fall in our cattle exports? He is telling us about the importation of barely, wheat and bacon from China. He also told us that we had imports of eggs from China. Has Deputy Harris ever got his nose down to this matter? Has he figured out for himself how the home market has been preserved for the Irish farmer? If it has been preserved for the Irish farmer, what harvest has he reaped from it? Would Deputy Harris be astonished to know that the home consumption of agricultural products in this State has fallen from £23,000,000 to £16,500,000? His speech would do quite well for the cross-roads from this until the third week in June. The Deputy tells us that agriculture has improved. Has he given one thought to that matter? Does he not know what was proved by statistics in this House?

While the Minister for Agriculture fumbled in his division and subtraction, and while he made a mistake, for the purpose of argument I will agree with him that the income of the farmer has dropped from £93 to £65. It was contended that it had dropped to £51, but I am prepared to accept the figure of £65 instead. It means an annual drop in the farmers' income of £104,000,000. On the eve of a general election, and after five years of Fianna Fáil Government, Deputy Harris, who is a very considerable farmer and, I will admit, a good farmer, apparently from Party bias decides to put a statement of that kind on the records in face of what has been proved in the House. There are 550,000 farmers in this State, and their annual income has dropped from £93 to £65, indicating a total annual loss of £104,000,000. The market that the Government has reserved for the Irish farmer shows a definite loss in the consumption of agricultural products, such as beef, mutton, bacon, eggs, milk and cheese. In figures the drop in value is from £23,000,000 to £16,500,000. I think that disposes of all that flapdoodle.

I think my colleagues are rather critical when they tell the House that the conditions in this country are not normal. I am glad to say there are certain things normal. I think my colleagues are much too critical and severe. I was away for the week-end, and when I returned to this House I opened a packet in which was a very portentous document. It was the new Constitution. I was glad to see one thing normal, and that is that the name of Ireland still remains.

The new Constitution may not now be discussed; the Deputy will have an opportunity next week.

I merely wanted to correct the impression that there was nothing normal in this country. There are a lot of things normal. This Bill proposes to collect £31,000,000 from the taxpayers. Let us view the capacity of the people to pay. According to Deputy Harris, since this Government came into office they have done a great deal for the people. They have done so much for them that taxation has increased by £7,535,000. Compared with last year, taxation has increased by £49,151. So far as the Government are concerned, they are collecting £7,500,000 more than was collected in 1931. I wonder will Deputy Harris go to the cross-roads, put that picture before the electors and ask them to pass a verdict? How are the Government justified in collecting that sum from people whose income has fallen so much?

We are told that agriculture is more prosperous. Deputy Harris did not say very much about wheat. I would like to hear the Deputy dealing with that as a national asset. I am sure the Deputy knows that 660,000 acres of land will produce all the wheat required to feed everybody in the State. If each one of the 550,000 farmers grew five roods of wheat there would be sufficient to feed the entire population of the State. The whole foundation for the production of our £31,000,000 of revenue is the agricultural industry. Cattle, according to Deputy Harris, are bringing in more money now because they are being more intensely fed, and they come more early to maturity. That is quite true if it could be done at an economic figure, but what is the position? There are three factors governing the present situation. The first is the restricted number of young cattle now available; the second is the demand for them, and the third is the quality and the numbers we have to sell, taking into consideration all the calves that have been slaughtered.

What is the average quality of the young store beast now brought on the market? It is not County Kildare, County Kilkenny, County Meath or County Westmeath that produces those cattle. They are produced in the Counties of Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Galway, Mayo, Clare, Kerry, and Cork. The small farmers produce the animals that come on later as store cattle to the inland counties for grazing and are then exported. We know that the small farmers cannot afford to buy feeding stuffs in the way of linseed meal and maize meal in order to give them to the animals when they are young. The result is that when you go to a fair and examine the stock offered for sale it is not up to the average quality. The animals have had nothing but dry hay and water during the winter months because the farmers cannot afford to buy the food to bring them to the condition in which they would mean more money. It is all right for Deputy Harris and farmers in Kildare, Wexford and Kilkenny, where they can produce plenty of stuff on their own farms. If they have store cattle they can bring them to maturity and sell them at a good price. We cannot take these exceptional counties into consideration.

I would like to know from the Minister what he proposes with regard to the future. Deputy Cosgrave stated this evening that we have had annual surrenders in this State. That is the correct name for them. It may be a pretty tart expression, but it is a good thing to have the truth. We are tied down on our part but England is not tied down in her part. Does anybody suggest that when England has a monopoly of coal in this country the householder is getting his coal at a competitive price? He is not. England is getting the products of this country at a competitive price—as a matter of fact, much cheaper. Deputy Harris talks about the price of cattle. That is what I would call a qualified untruth. Deputy Harris knows as well as anybody either inside or outside this House that the price of cattle at present is subject to the collection of £4,500,000. Is not that money that should be coming in here? When you remember that the price of that stock is further depreciated by the cost of the machinery that is used in collecting it, how much does that mean to the farmer?

On my way from Donegal yesterday evening, I met a man who said that he was after paying £100 in duties on whatever amount of cattle he had shipped to England. I said to him: "What is wrong with you—do not you know that the Border disappeared last Saturday?" Apparently, he did not know that the Border had disappeared. Of course, we have not gone as far as Herr Hitler, but, as far as one can make out, it is something like that. We are told that the prices of cattle are good. That may be so. Perhaps, it might be even admitted that prices are very good, in the circumstances, but my point is that they are not as good as they ought to be.

The farmer gets a certain price for his cattle, but from that has to be deducted the price of the tariff, or tax, or whatever you like to call it, that goes to England—and that is approximately £4,500,000. The farmer in this country is losing that much. Deputy Mulcahy has stated repeatedly, in this House and outside it, that fewer people are employed on the land. What is the significance of that? Irrespective of what Party we belong to in this House, or what position we occupy in this House, what is the significance of the numbers of people who are leaving the country? Why are they going away? There is one thing that is traditional about the people of this country, and that is the love of the land here, even of the very worst parts of the land. You have the case of men going to California and living there under the very best conditions, and yet they come back to Donegal. I only state that point to show the passionate love that Irishmen have for the land. Should we not take serious cognisance of that; or is it just for party purposes, irrespective of what it might mean to the nation, that these matters are raised? As far as one can see, the policy seems to be : Do not settle this, that, or the other thing—let the country die. Who is to settle this? The young boys and the young girls are settling it. They are clearing out of this country and leaving us to do what we like about it. We can fight over the bones, but they have said "goodbye" to us, owing to the conditions.

It is not the first time that people have emigrated from this country, but I think it is the first time that people have emigrated from this country under such adverse conditions as obtain at present. Look at the position of the boys and girls emigrating from Donegal. They cross without a solitary friend to receive them. They have been told that they are going to a country with which they are at war. In the past, these boys and girls from Donegal went to America. It was a pathetic spectacle to see them go. Anybody who saw them go at that time knew that it was a terrible thing to see, but at least they knew that, where they were going, there would be friends to meet them—brothers, sisters, cousins, and so on—but where are they going now? They are going now to what we are told is the traditional enemy of this country, and to their own traditional enemy—to look for what? To look for the means of existence. Are they all going to get it? Not at all. Even in the heyday of the times when our people were going to America in thousands upon thousands, and perishing by the wayside, we did not hear of that. These people, however, are now going in their thousands to England to look for the means of existence.

What does this Budget provide for these people? In the course of the debate on the Budget, I gave the Minister particulars of a small bill of costs for groceries. Of course, the particulars that I gave the Minister could not be contradicted. It was a small bill of groceries, and it showed that what cost 9/10½ across the Border cost 12/10 on this side of the Border. Along with that, you have the agricultural industry, as is admitted by the Minister, down by, approximately, £104,000,000, and you have the agricultural labourers and other workers reduced in wages, in the cost of living, by somewhere between 5/9 and 6/- in the £. At the end of all of this, we issue a document—a new Constitution—and we purport to bring in the people of the Six Counties. What is the national policy of the Government? How are we going to bring these people in? Does this Budget bring them in? Does not this Budget, in the circumstances existing here, on its face, repel them? What policy has the Government with regard to Partition? What act of statesmanship has it performed in the past five years to bring about Irish unity? What is the policy to-day in regard to this Budget? There has not been one act of statesmanship in that regard in those entire five years. I venture to state, without fear of contradiction, that so far as the Six Counties and the Free State are concerned, the Border is wider to-day than ever it was. We are asked what is our policy. Very well. I am not here as a leader of this Party, but I am an Ulsterman. I am told, first of all, that there is a religious question to be solved. I do not agree with that. I have seen a speaker of the Northern Parliament named O'Neill.

How does this arise on the Finance Bill?

I am dealing with the policy of the Government.

There is an Estimate for the Office of the President of the Executive Council yet to be taken.

This has reference to the Government's external policy.

The Deputy can only deal with the Government's policy with regard to finance on this Bill.

On a point of order, I should like to have the Minister's interpretation of taxation or clothing here, which is another pron to the boundary.

The Deputy is going to make a third speech on the Bill?

I just asked the Minister will he discuss that.

My conception of the matter is that this £31,000,000 is being levied for the purposes of the operations of the Government, hence it embraces Government policy in all matters.

The policy of the Government in reference to matters of finance only may be discussed on the Second Reading. There was an opportunity for wider discussion on the Budget statement. The Estimate for External Affairs has yet to be taken, and, therefore, I think the Deputy might reasonably confine himself to questions of finance.

If you say so, Sir, I shall not question your ruling. The income of the State has, I submit; fallen. Government figures in themselves prove that. Contemporaneously with that you have increased taxation. You have taxation increased beyond the figure which the people were told the State could not afford—and I agreed with the statement at the time —by £7¼ millions. I should like to hear from the Minister how the economic or social position of the State justifies an increase of £7¼ millions in taxation on the people. I submit it cannot be borne. You can impose the taxes; you can create the machinery for collecting them, but there must come an end to your gallop some day. We are told that having regard to conditions under which we are living that this is the best the Government can do for the people. We are told that the people have been worse off in the past. You might as well tell me that I am alive. We know that many people in this State merely existed in the past. Is it going to be the continued policy of an Irish Government to give a bare existence to the people? Have they not a right to expect more than a mere existence? Have they not a right to expect a decent livelihood? Are many of them getting anything more than a mere existence? Will the Minister say that a livelihood is afforded to six, seven or eight children in a family who get potatoes and buttermilk in the morning before going to school and who get no bread until they come back in the evening. Is that a livelihood? Is it even an existence? In the cruellest days of the British régime when the landlords extracted the last penny from the people by rack rents, were there worse conditions than these?

Contemporaneously with that condition you have the Government collecting £31,000,000 in order that they may continue their policy of squander. What effect has a squanderer anywhere? The more you squander, the more you require to squander, until ultimately the bottom falls out of the whole thing. That is equally true of the individual, the State, a society or a company. The people are getting poorer; their incomes are falling, but still you continue to pile more taxation upon them. The mathematics of that are very simple, and I hope the moral of it will be brought home to the Minister.

Deputy McMenamin in the course of his speech stated that the farmer's income—I am quoting Deputy McMenamin's figures——

And I quoted from the Minister for Agriculture.

I think the Deputy's calculations are wrong. He stated that the income of the farmer had been £93 and that it had fallen to £65—that is, a decline of £28 per farmer. He then calculated that the loss to the country as a whole was £104,000,000. He also stated the number of farmers in the country was 550,000. Well, if you multiply 550,000 by £28 you get £15,400,000. Then he stated that the farmers' losses are £104,000,000. He has given us a figure that is practically seven times as much as we get from the other figures he gave.

If you multiply it by 66, it would be even greater.

I am only calling attention to the statement the Deputy made—I presume in all good faith—in order to protest against the fact that statements are made in this House very often which are not fully examined. They get into the Press afterwards and deceive the people. That is my only reason for rising. Of course I should also like to call attention to the fact that there is a vast difference between £15,400,000 and £104,000,000.

Can the Deputy say how much the farmer's income has fallen?

I am not saying anything about that.

Because the Deputy does not want to say it.

I quoted Deputy McMenamin's statement, and I am merely calling attention to the fact that they are not borne out by the figures he quoted later, giving the number of farmers in the country. I should also like to call attention to a statement he made last week in another speech.

Then it is out of order.

I think the Deputy is entitled to make a speech on this Bill and to tell us, if he can, that the farmers are capable of paying these moneys. He does not believe it, therefore he will not speak.

I thought when Deputy Dowdall rose that he was going to tell us about the prosperity of the farmers in County Cork, because there is nobody who should have a greater experience of it, as he used to have some dealings with them. I should like to put the question to him—what information has the Deputy as to the position of the farmers in County Cork? Are they better off than they were five years ago?

I cannot tell you.

Oh, holy Moses!

On one occasion here before when we were referring to certain promises that had been made by Fianna Fáil before they came into office Deputy Dowdall told us that they were not promises; that they were statements. So much for that. I am sorry that I was not in the House when Deputy Harris was speaking. Deputy Harris evidently said that the farmers of this country are better off than they were five years ago and that they are getting better prices for their cattle.

Deputy Dowdall does not want to hear about the farmer.

I do not know if that was before the Ottawa Conference. We are really something better off than we were then. I will quote the Minister for Industry and Commerce as evidence of that. I remember his saying here that there was depression in every country, and that even in Ottawa you could buy a sheep for 1/-. I told him at the time that he would have made a very bad deal, because he could have bought a cow in this country for 1/-. I said that in the town of Macroom at the beginning of that week I met a farmer who had sold a cow for 1/-. When paying, the buyer was so conscientious that he gave him 2/-. I have evidence of that. I have been asking the Minister to set up a commission to investigate those things. I can get this evidence on oath. After all, we know very well that three or four years ago, two or three year olds were being sold in West Cork and Kerry —I am speaking of that portion of the country which I know well—at from 25/- to 30/- apiece. The big farmers in the County Kildare were buying those cattle, putting them on the best land, and getting the fat. I challenge Deputy Harris to contradict me when I make that statement. Right enough, the rancher, as he is called, got a bit of a knock when the economic war started; but afterwards he got the best of it, because he could buy cattle from the unfortunate poor people at any price he blooming well wished to offer.

I challenge Deputy Harris to say that he could live within the four walls of his farm to-day if he had no other income. I am justified in making that challenge, because from the parish that I come from, and from the portion adjoining Ballingeary and so on which is in the Gaeltacht, a statement has been sent to the Minister for Agriculture demanding investigation of the position in which they have been placed as a result of the economic war. That statement did not come from people who support us on this side of the House. It came from people of all shades of political opinion, and I do not want to make any political capital out of it. I do want to repeat again what I have said in this House on several occasions. I want to put it to the Minister for Finance to-day, as I put it to him last week or the week before, that he has set up a commission now to investigate the position with regard to their own allowances, while he has denied the misfortunate poor people down the country the right to a commission to inquire into the position in which they have been placed as a result of his economic policy. We hear a lot about the farmers and their prosperity.

Is there an article going into the farmer's house to-day for which he is not paying a higher price? The Minister talks about the high price of cattle and the prosperity of the farmers. Admittedly, they are something better off than they were two or three years ago, but would they not be better off it they were getting £4 or £5 apiece for their cattle? I wonder how would the Minister or Deputies here like to have 40 per cent. of their allowance taken from them? Evidently they are beginning to growl; they are appealing for increased allowances. The farmer is suffering those losses. He has to pay more for his clothing. He has to pay more for his boots. He has to pay more for his stockings. He has to pay more for his hardware. He has to pay more for his cups. He has to pay more for his saucers. He has to pay more for his saucepans. The Minister for Agriculture told us recently that saucepans were not food. He wanted to maintain that there was no tax on food. Deputy McMenamin intervened to tell him that after all you could not cook the food if you had no saucepans.

Oh, yes, you could.

They might do it in Belfast, but not in Ballyvourney.

If it were a steak you could cook it on a grid-iron.

The farmer has to pay more for his spades. He has to pay more for his shovels. He has to pay more for his harness. He has to pay more for his ploughs. He has to pay more for every kind of machinery. In fact, he has to pay more for every article that goes into his house. I challenge the Minister to mention one article going into the farmer's house to-day for which there is not a higher price to be paid. I do not want to make any political capital out of this question. I would again make one appeal to the Minister, and I think it is an impartial appeal. I would ask him to set up a commission, in reply to the demand of the farmers of Ballingeary and Ballyvourney, to investigate the position into which they have been placed as a result of Government policy.

The Minister for Finance to conclude.

Deputy O'Leary has made an appeal to me that we should set up a commission to investigate statements which Deputy O'Leary has made in this House from time to time about the condition of the farmers. What would be the use of acceding to a demand of that kind coming from Deputy O'Leary or any person who sits on the benches opposite?

It did not come from Deputy O'Leary, but from some of the people who supported you in the last two elections.

What useful purpose would be served if we set up such a commission?

Why do you not write that to them?

Let us see what has happened in connection with some other statements and some other demands made from time to time. We used to hear a great deal from Deputy O'Leary about the civil war, and what started it, and what it cost. We offered to set up an impartial commission to investigate that.

Another Sequa affair!

We offered to set up an impartial commission to investigate the start of the civil war, which we were told cost this country £20,000,000.

You did not set up a commission to inquire into the statement made by the President in regard to Deputy Mulcahy in Glasgow.

That offer was definitely rejected by the leader of the Opposition, supported by Deputy O'Leary.

That is a red herring. Stick to agriculture.

Since that offer was made we have not heard such a great deal about the civil war and about who started it, and what records there are available to show how it was started and what brought it about. We hear a great deal less now about the £20,000,000 or the £30,000,000——

£35,000,000 I believe it was.

——or the £35,000,000 which we used to be told went up in smoke, as Deputy Mulcahy said in the opening part of his statement.

So it did.

Yes, and who started it?

In defence of the republic!

Let us get down to the Finance Bill.

The Deputy says now it cost £35,000,000. There is on record an offer to set up an impartial commission to investigate and report on the people who started the civil war which, according to Deputy Bennett, cost this country £35,000,000. That is our offer. Accept it, and see who is responsible for the £35,000,000.

Now we are getting on!

Tell us about the cattle now. Forget about that; it is past history.

All in good time. I am sorry Deputy McMenamin is not in the House.

That does not prevent you from talking about the civil war.

I think Deputy Mulcahy must sometimes find Deputy McMenamin an embarrassing colleague. He has outbursts—possibly I ought to say outbreaks—of candour on occasions. He paid a very sincere tribute to Deputy Harris. He said Deputy Harris is a big farmer and a good farmer. He said what I think was almost unique——

Deputy Harris is blushing.

——in regard to debating speeches delivered in this House. He said that Deputy Harris' speech would do very well at the cross-roads during the coming election——

Not so well.

——when Deputy Harris would be talking also to practical farmers, who could weigh for themselves the truth or otherwise of every statement made by Deputy Harris, and who, apparently agreeing with Deputy Harris that agriculture in this country is on the up-grade, would accept Deputy McMenamin's judgment of the speech as a good speech, a convincing speech, and one with which they could agree. The Deputy, who is, I think, a learned lawyer, but so far as I know is not a farmer, began— like Deputy Dillon on occasions—to teach Deputy Harris Deputy Harris' business. He told us that if every farmer grew five roods of wheat we would produce enough to feed our population. I do not know very much about farming. I do not keep as much land as would make a good tennis court, but I do think that it might not be possible for every farmer in the country economically and profitably to grow five roods of wheat. I take it that some land in the country is better suited to produce other agricultural produce than wheat.

I take it that, economically, it might be better if not every farmer in the country grew his five roods of wheat, but if land which is suited for wheat growing was devoted to wheat growing rather than having it utilised for some other purpose which would not be as profitable agriculturally. Then he proceeded to give Deputy Harris a lecture on the economics of the cattle trade. He said that the rise in prices was due to the restricted number available and to the increased demand for them.

In the market that had gone for ever.

In 1932, in 1933 and in 1934 when the depression which had set in in 1931 was becoming intensified in Great Britain, and when the demand for cattle in Great Britain was falling off as evidenced by the statistical measurement of the demand per head of the population in Great Britain for meat, we were blamed because, the demand for cattle having increased and the number of cattle in this country being in accordance with the original high demand for them, the prices of cattle slumped in this country. We said that was not due to the unsettled conditions which had been produced by the dispute about the land annuities, but to the fact that the purchasing power of the British population had declined, and that just as manufacturers of industrial products were caught with surplus stocks and had to liquidate them at the best price which they could get, so, our farmers who up to then had been producing for a larger demand had to do likewise: they had to liquidate their cattle stocks at the best price they could get for them. If what Deputy McMenamin said to-day be true, and I admit it is true, and I have been consistent in urging that consideration upon the House, that the price of any commodity depends largely upon the trend of the demand: if the demand is increasing the price of the commodity tends to rise; if the demand is decreasing the price of the commodity tends to fall, and nothing can stop that fall, nothing can bring about an upward tendency except the producer take some steps to restrict his production so that an upward tendency in prices will ensue. We were told to-day that cattle stocks are 370,000 head short of what they ought to be. If we had those 370,000 head of cattle, does Deputy Bennett think that cattle prices would be so high as they are to-day?

Or that the upward tendency would have set in so soon. If so, then the Deputy had better talk to Deputy McMenamin and argue it out with him, because the Deputy's thesis is directly contradictory of that. The Deputy has said that the rise in cattle prices which has manifested itself over the past 12 or 15 months has been due to the restricted number of cattle available. If there were 370,000 head of cattle more than there are to-day in fact available, then I take it that upon Deputy McMenamin's hypothesis the current prices for cattle would be lower.

What is the Minister's own hypothesis?

Would the Deputy allow me to go on? We have been criticised by the Deputies opposite because we did take steps, when it was clear that there was surplus cattle production in this country, to reduce our herds by offering farmers a fixed price for any calf skin which they might bring to us. We did not say that the calf must be strong, sound and healthy. We imposed no conditions of that sort, and we were right in assuming—I think it was only common-sense and reason to assume— that if a farmer slaughtered a calf for which he could get 10/-, 12/6 or 15/-, as the case may be, that he did not slaughter the best in the herd, that it was the weakling, the one that was not likely to survive—the weakling and the weedy animal that was going to be slaughtered.

We must have had a lot of weaklings.

Would the Minister allow me to explain what the Minister for Agriculture said last week?

I have listened very patiently to the Deputy, and I am not giving way. The Deputy has already spoken once.

We will have it all later on at the cross-roads.

We will thrash it out with the civil war.

The Minister will keep away from the cross-roads this time.

As I was saying, it is not likely that it will be the healthiest, the best-looking, and probably the most economic calf that would be slaughtered in order to get the 10/-, the 12/- or the 15/-.

Remember what the Minister for Agriculture said last week —veal calves from six weeks to three months old.

It is not likely that the best in the herd will be slaughtered.

What does the Minister know about calves?

The Deputy should ask Deputy Bennett or Deputy O'Leary whether they think that it is the calf, when reared, that was likely to become profitable that was going to be slaughtered.

We must have had a lot of bad calves in the country.

The Minister for Agriculture spoke last week about veal calves six weeks to three months old.

It is quite obvious that Deputies do not like this line of argument, and particularly Deputy Bennett, who committed himself to one of the most ridiculous statements I have ever heard upon a subject, let alone the subject of agriculture.

How did I?

The Deputy said that we were 370,000 head of cattle short, due to the slaughter of calves.

I did not say any such thing.

It seems to me that if there is anything in that statement, the rate of natural mortality amongst the calves in this country must be exceedingly low, because the assumption underlying Deputy Bennett's statement is this: that every calf that was slaughtered for the sake of getting the bounty of 10/-, 12/6 or 15/- for its skin would have managed to survive until it was shipped a prime store or, maybe, a stall-fed beast to Great Britain; that, in fact, its life would be without vicissitude, without risk and without danger, and that it would be immune from disease and from accident.

Would the Minister know the delicate one from the other one?

I would not.

I would not either.

Possibly Deputy Bennett might not, but I think that a good farmer would have a fair idea.

Maybe we slaughtered the healthy ones.

That might be so, but there are some which would look worse than the others. In any event, I feel that Deputy Bennett or myself or any other person could not guarantee that the calf which he did not slaughter was going to remain alive until it fetched, as Deputy Harris told us, £11 at a fair as a prime-fed stall.

I guarantee that the majority would.

Deputy Harris could live without the farm altogether. He does not care twopence about the farm —it is only a side-line.

Of course the majority would survive. What proportion of the cattle population does the Deputy think was slaughtered?

Several hundred thousand calves.

370,000 is the figure the Deputy put on them.

That is the figure he gave for the slaughter of calves for the past three years.

I put it at 480,000, and I will give you figures from the Official Report.

Then the Deputy will say that for the past four years 480,000 calves have been slaughtered. Will the two experts on the cattle-breeding industry that I have opposite me tell me——

Interruptions.

The Minister is entitled to speak.

I will go out, because I could not stick this.

Deputy O'Leary is running away from this investigation.

I am not running away the way you ran away.

We are having the question investigated, and Deputy O'Leary is running away because he cannot answer the question I was going to put him, and that is: How many calves are born in this country every year, on an average? We will see whether the minority or the majority of them were slaughtered, and whether those which were slaughtered were, in fact, those likely to survive if their lives had been left to take the ordinary natural course.

Does the Minister say they are?

I do not. I will say that, if they did not happen to be slaughtered, the majority of them would have grown up into uneconomic beasts and that it was just as well we did weed them out of our cattle. It is because that policy was pursued that Deputy Harris was able to tell the House that the general quality of our cattle in 1937 is much better than in 1932.

I dispute that.

The Deputy's function is to dispute.

The Department's inspectors, inspecting the cattle in the markets, will also dispute it if they give an honest opinion. There is no foundation for it whatever.

I think I ought, for a moment, to consider the speech of Deputy Mulcahy, because it did set the keynote for the Opposition speeches in this debate. The Deputy said that this Finance Bill was designed to continue the ruthless policy of fleecing the unfortunate people. That is how Deputy Mulcahy describes the proposals which are embodied in this Finance Bill of 1937. Let us examine what the proposals, in fact, are. The first part of the Bill relates to income-tax. The rate of income-tax under the Bill is unchanged. That cannot be said in regard to the rate of income-tax in other countries.

It is higher than in 1931.

In this year, when great communities find it necessary to increase the rate of income-tax, we here, under a Government which has a ruthless policy of fleecing the unfortunate people, are able to maintain our income-tax unchanged.

And which adopted the policy of looking to Great Britain for advice the other day.

The next important proposal in this Finance Bill is one which reduces the rate of customs duty upon sugar to the rate at which it was levied here in 1931, and reduces to one-eighth of a penny, as contrasted with one halfpenny in 1931, the rate of excise duty levied upon sugar. If that is ruthless fleecing of unfortunate people, all I can say is that, so far as the excise duty upon sugar is a manifestation of Government policy, Deputy Mulcahy and his colleagues were four times as ruthless as we are when they were in office here in the halcyon days of 1931. The next important proposal in the Bill is the proposal to terminate the duty on wheat. Then we have a reduction of 4d. per lb. in the duty on tea and, co-ordinate and complementary to all these, we have, by means of our Budget proposals, reduced the price of butter to the consumer by 2d. per lb. Is it possible to explain Deputy Mulcahy's description of this Bill as a ruthless policy of fleecing the unfortunate people, except on the basis that Deputy Mulcahy, stamping on the grave of his dead past, is suffering from mental confusion, particularly when he manages to think of the Constitution— possibly the Constitution of 1919, in the drafting of which he had some part?

Why did you not refer to the articles Deputy O'Leary enumerated?

I said Deputy Mulcahy's speech was the keynote of the Opposition speeches in this debate, and there you have a Finance Bill which reduces the duty on tea and the duty on sugar, abolishes the duty on wheat, and makes provision in other ways for a reduction in the price of butter, described as one which embodies a ruthless policy of fleecing the unfortunate people. Have words any meaning for Deputy Mulcahy or the Opposition when they apply that sort of term and that sort of description to a Finance Bill of this kind? When they misuse words in that fashion, can any credence be attached to anything which they say from those benches?

We have heard Deputy O'Leary talking about his 2/- cow which was sold in Macroom two, three or four years ago. The Roscrea factory was taking old and uneconomic cows from the West Cork area at a price of £3 per head when this mythical and fictitious cow, to which Deputy O'Leary has referred this evening, was being sold for 1/- to a man whose conscience was so stirred by the transaction that he gave the unfortunate vendor 100 per cent. bonus.

Does the Minister deny it?

How can I deny it? I was not there. I could only utter a denial in regard to something of which I had personal knowledge, but I do say that, having regard to the fact that the Roscrea factory was purchasing old and uneconomic cows at the rate of £3 per head, Deputy O'Leary's statement is an incredible one and that, if it were examined home, if we set up this commission which Deputy O'Leary asks for, the Opposition would run away from Deputy O'Leary's statements in the same way as they have run away from the civil war.

Deputy McMenamin painted a very pathetic picture about our unfortunate people who were going out perishing by the roadside. I am not going to devote very much time to Deputy McMenamin's speech. I think the essence of it was expressed in the question which he formulated at the end, when he asked: What does this Budget provide for these people? I can answer that question in one sentence, and I will conclude my speech with it. It provides them with cheaper tea, cheaper sugar, cheaper flour and cheaper butter.

Without the means of paying for them.

Question put and declared carried.
Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, May 11th.
The Dáil adjourned at 5.55 p.m. until 3 o'clock on Tuesday, May 11th, 1937.