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Dáil Éireann debate -
Friday, 13 May 1938

Vol. 71 No. 8

Resolution No. 11—General (resumed).

Debate resumed on the following resolution:—
That it is expedient to amend the law relating to customs and inland revenue (including excise) and to make further provision in connection with finance.—(Minister for Finance).

After the conclusion of the negotiations with Great Britain and the settlement of the large outstanding questions, except one, between the two countries, everybody was looking forward with a degree of hope and confidence to seeing what the practical results of these negotiations were to be. I think the general feeling was that the Budget speech of the Minister for Finance would give some indication of the practical benefits that would flow to the country from this Agreement. Anybody that had the duty—I shall not say the pleasure—of listening yesterday to the statement of the Minister for Finance must realise how these hopes have been sadly disappointed. We on this side of the House, from the first moment that we heard of these negotiations being entered upon, looked forward, as is quite well known, with great hopes to the result of these negotiations. And for two reasons. We realised, and have realised for a long time past, more clearly, I dereasay, than the members of the Government, the necessity for bringing this senseless struggle between the two nations to an end. Furthermore, there were certain aspects of the way in which the negotiations started that led us to hope that there would be no breakdown. Even when the negotiations dragged on month after month, and when the hopes of many people in the country, as I know from personal contact with them, began to flag, we on this side never gave up the belief that there would be a positive issue from these negotiations.

All through the time when these negotiations were on we considered it our duty to the country in every way to facilitate the Government in their effort to bring these negotiations to a practical conclusion. Even when the Agreement was made, and when we recognised that, if we wanted to do so, Party capital could be made out of the Agreement, as it is quite possible to make out of any Agreement, we determined to scorn precedent, at least precedent in this country, very bad precedent, so far as wide-reaching and most fruitful agreements are concerned, and to do nothing that could in any way be construed as an effort to crab this Agreement or to minimise the good effects that this Agreement might have and be made to have for this country. Our attitude was quite the opposite to such Party manoeuvring. Whatever people may think of the details of this Agreement, let us make the most of it—that has been consistently our attitude. The main thing, the great thing, as I said more than once here, is that the Agreement has been made, and that it has been made by that particular Party led by the present Taoiseach. That is the great thing on which the country can congratulate itself, leaving aside the question of details, or the precise value of this provision or that provision.

But, why did we look forward to this Agreement? Why did we recommend everybody in the country to accept it, to make the most of it, to work it? Because we were anxious that at last this country should have a chance of building up, that instead of dissipating our wealth, as we have been doing in many directions for the past five or six years, we should turn in the opposite direction. It was because we regarded this Agreement as something that gave the country an opportunity of doing that—practically, if I might say so, giving the country a direction to do that, a direction that in many respects it badly needed,— that we determined to recommend the fullest possible acceptance, without any arriére pensée whatsoever, of this Agreement and the fullest possible working of the Agreement.

We realised, and I wish I could be convinced even now that the Government recognises, the amount of leeway that has to be made up in this country. The economic war is at an end. If I might parody a sentiment with which certain people on the opposite side greeted it when it commenced when they said "Thank God it started", we say now "Thank God, it is at an end." But its consequences are not. Though the agreement is there, the Budget yesterday suggests that the Government does not realise the importance of taking the necessary steps to build up the country, now that there is a chance of doing so, now when normal conditions of trade between this country and its principal customer will at least be restored. It was because the people expected an indication of that kind from the Budget statement of yesterday that there was still a considerable element of hope that here at last an opportunity was being given to the Government to indicate how it is going to work this Agreement, how they were going to make good—because they will have to be made good —the losses that have been suffered. I am not going into these losses. Let the past lie. Whether or not these losses were necessary, whether it was necessary to enter into the campaign, whether having entered into the campaign the precise losses inflicted on this country were necessary—I leave all that. What is clear is this: justifiably or unjustifiably these losses were inflicted and you do not by the mere signing of the Agreement bring the country back to a state of normalcy.

The country has now to face, once this dispute is out of the way, the task of making good its losses. We are not starting, so to speak, from scratch. We are starting from behind scratch. It is not merely that we are not in the position that some of the Dominions are in, as the result of having come to an Agreement in 1932 under which they have more than doubled, some of them, their trade with Britain. That is not our position. Our position, as everybody here ought to know, is the direct opposite. A great deal of our trade has been interfered with and has been cut down. At one period it was halved. A great deal of damage was done, a great deal of the wealth of the country was destroyed. I see in this Budget no effort to meet than situation. I see in this Budget speech of the Minister for Finance no indication that the Government is even aware that a situation has to be met. They went to negotiate this Agreement. Having done so, apparently, they thought that they could rest on their oars. On the contrary, their duty is quite the opposite, the real constructive work has now to begin. Having got the chief difficulty out of the way, it was their duty to indicate to the country how they intended to come to the relief of those people. From an economic point of view, some of the people who were hard hit during the war were precisely the people whom it was necessary to put back in a good, sound, solvent condition, not merely because they bore the brunt of the struggle and were, even according to people on the opposite side of the House, in the front line trenches, but because, if that particular portion of the community is not restored to the possibility of making good, then a lot of the value of this Agreement goes. It is because we see no indication in the speech of the Minister yesterday of anything of that kind even being contemplated that we are so dissatisfied with that speech.

A new start has to be made. You must make good. You must put the people, for whose benefit, it is alleged, this Agreement was entered into, in a position to make something out of this Agreement. Can anybody contend that this Budget goes even one inch of the way in that direction? Is there a single effort to come to the relief of that portion of the community that saw its wealth dwindling before its eyes for the last six years and that is now anxious to make the very most of this Agreement? Is there any effort to suggest that the Government itself thinks it necessary to come to their relief in any way, to enable them to restock their lands, to cut down their overhead expenses, either by way of derating, by making their raw materials cheaper, or by providing them with a better breed of cattle and so on? Is there any hint of that int he Budget? In the long speech we listened to yesterday there was no indication that the Government is alive to the real necessities of the situation. It took a long time to convince them of the necessity of ending a senseless dispute by negotiations. Is it going to take as long now to get out of the belief that the farmers are in a prosperous condition, or that they are in a position to make the most of these agreements? If it takes another three or four years to convince the Government of that, what hope is there of building up this country in the way in which, I presume, the Government as well as the rest of us, would like to see it built up? Now that we have got rid of a lot of the shibboleths which did duty for public policy in the last five or six years, surely the Government ought to face up to the real tasks.

What did we listen to yesterday? All about a dispute between the Minister and a newspaper. That was a greater compliment to the newspaper than I ever saw paid in this House. I have no doubt it was deserved. But the major portion of our yearly financial pronouncement devoted to that! Anyhow, it suggests that the newspaper had go the Minister on the raw. The only practical outcome of the whole situation was this: "No cirticism of the Government; you dare not disagree with the Government." As to whether the Budget was balanced or not, a lot will depend on what is legitimate borrowing. The Minister, when dealing with the case in dispute between him and the unnamed newspaper, assumed that it is legitimate to borrow for certain things, and that he is entitled to give a trouncing to any opponent that refuses to accept the necessary premise to prove his case. That was undoubtedly the matter in dispute between himself and some of his critics—for what he could legitimately borrow. Instead of any indication or any hope being given to the country in the speech of the Minister for Finance, we had simply a monologue which dealt with the controversy between himself and the newspaper. That was the Government contribution, its message to the people, following on this "historic" Agreement that was made in London. That was the Government's chief contribution towards buoying up the hopes of the country. Remember, that not merely have material things to be built up, but the people must also be given some hope. The reception of the Agreement has been tame enough. What are people to think, on opening their newspapers this morning, and finding that this is the practical interpretation of the Agreement given by the Government? If the Government had deliberately set out to kill any optimism on the part of the people, the warning given by the Taoiseach in the seanad, and more fully driven home in practical manner by the Minister for Finance Yesterday, could not better prove that the people have nothing to hope for. If they set out to kill optimism they could not have done it any better way than by the methods pursued yesterday.

I suppose the essay to which we had the pleasure of listening on journalistic propriety was put together before the Taoiseach's statement in the Seanad. Whether the Taoiseach followed the Minister, or the Minister followed the Taoiseach, I do not know; but certainly we got the lesson that the people are not to expect too much, and that any undue optimism is to be smothered down. Certainly between them they have accomplished something in that respect. Now that the economic war is at an end, and that there is a chance of normal trading, without the interference of war conditions, surely this is the time to give the people's hopes a fillip. For some unknown reason the Government decides to take the opposite view. The position is not simply one of returning to where we were. It is not simply that there has been an interruption of some of the main channels of our trade, but that there has been a stopping as a result of national policy as interpreted by the Government. I am not going into that question now. There was not merely an interruption, but much more than an interruption, a definite shoving back. An interruption in these days of intense competition would be bad enough, for an interruption in the case of industry and commerce means serious retrogression. Other people have been able to step in and to take the place we should have had. Therefore, while a mere interruption would be serious in our position, it was much worse, because there was not merely interference or interruption, but destruction of national wealth. Now is the time to start making that good. Quite obviously the Government does not intend to do anything of the kind.

It is a great mistake to linger too long in trade matters. We can only hope that the peak of prosperity and recovery has not already passed in Europe, and that even in the principal market that we are now going freely to enter, the peak has not been reached and that we are not to be in for a period of decline there. In any case, it is obvious that we should not lose time. We have lost opportunity after opportunity for the last 16 years. Are we now going to lose another opportunity? If I am to judge by this Budget, and by the speech of the Minister for Finance, I can only say that the Government by negligence are going to lose that opportunity too. I can hardly believe that it is deliberate. The economic war is over. but the losses of the economic war and the manner in which it crippled our principal industry require to be made good. The Government found a man in a healthy condition and crippled him. They say that he is now back where he was, that the markets are open. The difference is that that man is crippled now, but the Government makes no effort to see that he is no longer lame when he fights for his place in that market. They leave him lame when re-entering that market to make the most out of it. That was the policy we had revealed yesterday.

I speak for various classes of the community that were damaged during that period, but first and foremost for everyone connected with agriculture, so far as they depended on it for their living. I do not refer to the assistance that was given to them, as it was given to many other sections by way of the dole, relief works, and so on.

I notice from this Budget speech that apparently the Government has given up any hope of ever being able to solve the unemployment question by the ordinary methods of industry. I think that, on a previous occasion, the Minister said: "The unemployed we shall have always with us." Well, the Government are taking good care that that will be so. But you have these classes that have been damaged. I have spoken if the farmers and shall return to them immediately, but I wonder whether there is anything more depressing at the present moment than to go into—I am not speaking of all—some country towns for the last three or four months and just look at the external aspect of these towns. They remind me of nothing so much as a foreign seaside resort in the out-of-season. I think there is nothing that gives me so much n idea of desolation as one of those long seaside plages or whatever they are, with every house shut up and not a soul about. That is the position of our country towns, many of them, at the present moment, as I have seen with my own eyes. They have suffered. No business is being done. That has been particularly so for the last three or four months. Everybody hoped that once the Agreement was come to there would be an immediate improvement there, that the uncertainty that prevailed during the last three or four months would be wiped away. The uncertainty continues. Shopkeepers are buying just enough to carry on from day to day; that is what they tell me and that is what the commercial travellers tell me. You could go into some country towns during the ordinary week-day and see nobody in that town from one end of the street to the other expect the inhabitants of the town—nobody from the country. These things ought to be made good and they ought to be made good quickly.

If the farming community have suffered, if some people have been practically ruined as a result of this "fight for freedom" that has been going on for the last five or six years, the victorious ending of which, we are told, we are now celebrating, it is fair, it is only justice, national justice, that these people should be put into a position to make good once more. No matter what the Government does, it will be difficult for these men. I am convinced that it will be no easy job for these people to make good, but at least every effort should be made by them, and by the Government, to see that they get the best possible chance. They certainly get no hope in that respect from the Budget speech of Yesterday. It is not merely a question of national justice to those who, in the words of the Government followers, were in the "front line of the trenches" in this "war", but it is a question of the national economy of the country as well. Unless that principal industry is put on its feet, what hope is there for the country? Very little. It will require every effort and a great deal more serious attention from the Government that the Government has given it up to the present, if these things are to be made good.

I think the Minister's Parliamentary Secretary, when he was dealing yesterday with the wretched manner of tackling the problem of unemployment on a split-week basis, said—I do not think I am misquoting him—that if the unemployment problem was to be solved so that full work per week would be provided, for instance, by the Government, in the way of relief work for all the unemployed, it would take an extra £10,000,000 a year—or it would take £10,000,000 a year—I think those were the figures given. At the rate of wages that, he pays for Government work, that throws a rather interesting light on what he thinks of the number of unemployed in this country. I think a simple mathematical calculation will show the verdict of the Parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Finance on the interpretation of the unemployment figures and on the disputes that often arose between this bench, and that bench on the fully the very considerable, the almost appalling amount of unemployment that is is this State at the present moment and how little headway the Government has made in dealing with it.

Similarly, is there anything in the speech that we listened to yesterday likely to lead us to hope for a cessation of emigration? When that was first raised in this House the Minister for Finance scoffed at the idea that there was emigration on a large scale. I wonder would he scoff at the idea to-day? Emigration is continuing; There has been no stoppage in it. That economic strain on the people, that dead weight that keeps them from lifting themselves up, that is to continue, and that is the one lesson, apart from his lecture on, as I say, journalistic ethics, that we can gather from the Minister yesterday.

There is one matter on which we have continually sought information. We have had before us various pronouncements by the Taoiseach, and yesterday we had the pronouncement of the Minister for Finance, and though a little more light has been cast on the matter of defence, nobody can say that the country knows where it is in that respect at the present moment. For some reason or other, I do not know what the reason is myself, the Government seems to have adopted the policy of giving to the people their defence policy in small doses. I am not now going into the question as to whether the country ought to bear this cost or not. The Minister for Finance made quite clear his opinion that a country if ti were free must defend its freedom. That seems to me a reasonable and defendable position for the Government to take up.

What I do not understand is why the country cannot be taken into the confidence of the Government as to what precisely that means. Week after week we get a little more information—but not full information— doled out to us as to what that means. I asked the Taoiseach himself here when we were discussing the Agreements would he mind telling the amount that defence would cost or had he any estimate of what it would cost; and though occasionally he is quite ready to intervene with head in debates, he, on this occasion, preferred to give a good imitation of the Sphinx. Then I said: "Surely you must have had some indication from the people who had charge of this defence up to the present as to what it cost them, or what it is going to cost in the future?" I got a reply that he would not make his speech, by bits, but would deal with the whole thing.

The first indication we got as to the cost of this part of defence were the amounts mentioned yesterday. The Taoiseach did not deal with that question when finishing up in the Dáil on this day fortnight. Now what is the position as regards defence? As I say, a little extra light is thrown on it by every speech made by the Taoiseach and his Ministers, but only a little extra light. The Agreement was shown immediately, but no information given on the question which interested the people. Yet we learned from the speech of the Taoiseach himself in the Seanad the day before yesterday that one of the things that perturbed him and supplied the reason for entering into negotiations was our unsatisfactory position re defence. I do not know what particular negotiations he had in mind here. The official report is not yet available, but I find from a newspaper report that he said this: "I told the Dáil these negotiations were initiated by me as a result of a despatch in which we were anxious about our whole defence position."

Anyhow, it is quite clear, though this Agreement was given to the people and though at first there was a suggestion—I do not say anything more than a suggestion—that there was little more involved than that we got the ports free of conditions. We can look after them ourselves. If we like we can let them rot, but free and unconditional we got them. But what was your policy in taking them over? That was the obvious question asked by myself and apparently from the Government point of view it was the obvious question not to answer. If you follow the debates as they go on you will find the defence question even on speeches coming from the Government side looming larger and larger. We find that the Taoiseach was gravely perturbed over the defence position in this country. We got the ports without conditions. Quite so! I am not suggesting anything to the coutrary but we are also now realising that in the defence of Great Britain, the defence of this country is a factor and we are also realising that in the defence of this country the defence of Great Britain is a factor. Listen to the Taoiseach! I am not saying that the Government can alter the geography of Europe. I know they cannot. But they speak of the sovereign people of this country. Why not take what they pretend is the sovereign people into their confidence? One of the great expressions of that sovereignty was to be the election of President. But four gentlemen met in a room and said: "We will let them do nothing of the kind"——

Does the Deputy regret that?

No, I was always against that method of election, but we had been told for months that that was the great method by which the sovereignty of the people was to be expressed, and here we have the position——

Is the Deputy purporting to discuss the Agreement, or the Estimate for the Department of Defence?

No, I am discussing portion of the Minister's speech dealing with the question of defence.

The Deputy is aware that on the Estimate for Defence the whole matter will be relevant.

Yes, but unfortunately the Minister raised it himself yesterday, and my grievance is that he did not give us any information yesterday. He doled out a bit, but not enough. In dealing with the financial position of this country the cost of defence is one of the most important things we have to face. As to the new charges for defence, the figures given here are inadequate to the solution of that question. Much more will be required than the sum mentioned. I gathered that from what the Minister said, but he gives us no indication of what is going to be accomplished. We are taking over the ports some time between now and the 1st January next. Is not that so? Is the sum here stated for a full year, a half year or a quarter year's contribution? Some of the money will be for bringing up-to-date certain things in the ports and for their equipment. Then, apparently, portion of the expenses will be for something else. There has been nothing said of what the policy is or where are we heading? The Minister and the President stressed the duty of this country to defend itself. To defend itself as an isolated unit? If we are to defend ourselves in the case of a European war as an isolated unit, does anybody think that half a million pounds or the £600,000 mentioned will be the contribution to it? Surely not. A mere drop in the ocean. Or are we keeping in mind that geographical position of which the President was apparently more aware in the Seanad than in this House? But anyway he was aware of it in this House.

Now to come to the ports. We are told the money is to modernise the ports. That may mean a great deal, or it may mean very little. If it means putting a few modern guns in, I doubt very much after the change in modern warfare that has taken place in the last 20 years, that that would be much good. If you are to modernise the ports and to make them a factor in the defence of the country, very heavy expenses will be involved. That is clear to everybody. What was involved in this speech in the Seanad? Why are the people not told? There is, of course, the question of defence not merely of the ports at Berehaven, Cobh and Lough Swilly, but there is also the question of air defence. We have been given no indication as to the air defences. We have been building air ports, ostensibly for commercial purposes. Are they for commercial purposes purely? A glance at the Taoiseach's speech in the Seanad the night before last will set one thinking. You can well ask yourself are the airports for commercial purposes only, and what extra expenses will be involved. It will be necessary to protect our people. Free people must behave as free people. But free people should be told what they are likely to be in for in the way of costs.

That has not yet been voted.

The Minister here inaugurates a policy to pay the sum of money that he refers to, and I am complaining that there is no information given.

It has not yet been voted by the House. The House will have an opportunity of passing that Vote or not passing it.

I am criticising the Minister's speech.

Not killing time. The Minister does not think so anyway. I am quite aware that in a European war we might be neutral on paper, but nobody is going to pay any attention to that; nobody is going to say, if we are pulled into a European war with or without our consent, that if we cry "Foul" the referee's whistle blows and the whole thing will stop for us. May point is that this country is deliberately kept in ignorance. For some reason or other the information is only being gradually doled out to us. That is the burden of my complaint in this particular matter.

A great portion of the Minister's speech was given up to a controversy with a newspaper, proving the soundness of the financial position. I must confess taht we are not quite satisfied. I am quite satisfied that there is much wealth in the possession of the people still, and I am quite satisfied that the loan the Minister is about to raise can be, and will be, easily subscribed. But we must look to the future. This forthcoming loan can be met, and the obligations connected with the loan can be met, and anybody putting his money into this loan need have no fears. It will be one of the first charges on the revenue of this country. But other loans will have to be raised later on. An advance has been made in the matter of housing, yet the slum problem, for instance, in Dublin has only been scratched—nothing more than scratched.

What we are not satisfied about is that the policy of the Government is financially sound. I am afraid the Minister yesterday proved a great deal too much—it is a habit of Ministers. We listened, for instance, to the Minister for Industry and Commerce proving that the Trade Agreement was almost an agreement imposed by him on an unwilling British Government. The Taoiseach, in another House, said that there was a great deal in it that had been taken with a certian amount of reluctance by the very Minister who says here that it means nothing. As I have said, the Minister yesterday proved a great deal too much. As to who is right between himself and his unnamed opponent, I admit the future only will show, but apparently the Government are still convinced that extravagance should continue. Apparently there need be no cutting down of extravagance. There was one portion of the Minister's speech in which he looked forward to a return to the happy day when he will again go in for a much larger expenditure than is contemplated even in this Budget.

As to the juggling of figures he in dulged in, as to the proofs, in one way it is refreshing to have these, but I suggest that that being the financial position of the country according to him, then let us have something besides a mere partisan statement, a controversial statement against a newspaper, disguised as a Budget speech. Let us have as quickly as possible, for instance, the report of the Banking Commission. We may or may not agree with that, but at least we will have something to examine, which is more than we have from the Minister's speech. The speech I found particularly depressing from this point of view —it is the note on which I started, and it is the note on which I will conclude —that there was no indication in it, when we listened to the Minister speaking yesterday, that the Government are alive to the tasks that they have now to shoulder, once they have brought these negotiations in London to a conclusion.

In his speech yesterday the Minister told us that he intends to float a loan for the amount of £10,000,000. That loan, I assume, will be floated in this country. I am also going to assume that the Bank of Ireland, or its co-partner the Bank of England, will probably under-write that loan. We are also told that the charges in connection with the loan for this year will be £425,000. On Wednesday I asked a question of the Minister with regard to the amount of British securities held by the Department of Finance, and I was told that there were investments to the value of £14.000,000 or so held in that way. While we have to borrow this £10,000,000, we have at the same time £14,000,000 in British securities, and I am going to suggest that it is not a very good business proposition.

I will put it in a very simple way. Take it that I had a few pounds in the Post Office Savings Bank, and I want a few pounds for some household purposes. Instead of using the money which I have in the Post Office I go to the moneylenders and pay them their interest—an exorbitant interest in many cases—for that amount. I suggest the analogy is there between the position this State occupies in this transaction and the position of the ordinary householder in the transaction which I have mentioned. In other words, while we have £14,000,000 invested in England, and I assume we get 2½ or 2¼ Per cent. interest on that, we are going to go to the moneylenders and ask them to give us £10,000,000 at 4 or 4½ per cent. That is not very good business. We have that large amount invested in British securities, and we may be told that it must be kept there, because it will give confidence to people here, and also that it may prevent any kind of rush to realise securities.

I suggest there are few foreign countries carrying such heavy investments outside of their own shores as we do. We are told that under this Agreement we have now swept away the last vestiges of English domination.

I seriously suggest that the domination of British is more evident in this country at the present time than it ever was, even when we had the British Army and Navy here. As long as we have the stranglehold of the Bank of England and British financiers here, that domination is not swept away.

In the course of his Budget speech the Minister referred to people who might advocate drastic reductions in taxation, and he points out that the Government are certainly not prepared at the moment to make drastic reductions. He says that if no other responsible party is prepared to undertake reductions, then let us hear no more about crushing brudens or £2,000,000 reductions in taxation, for, as he says, in the present circumstances this cannot be secured unless we are prepared to disorganise the whole social system here. After that he goes on to tell us why he has to make provision for £425,000 in connections with the forthcoming loan.

Now, Sir, that £425,000, I am going to suggest, would go a long way in helping to reorganise some of the social services which are in a very bad way in this country. It would go a long way to reorganise and give decent amounts for unemployment assistence. It would go a long way to raise that 24/- a week that is paid on minor relief schemes under the Board of Works rate of wages. It would go a long way to prevent that tragedy that we saw enacted in Rhynana, where you had men on strike for 10 or 11 weeks in order to get an increase of a few shillings on the miserable amount they were paid. At the same time, we are quite satisfied, and nobody seems to disagree with this, that that sum of £425,000 must be handed over, and that there is no other way out of it. We are told that under the Agreement, while we have to pay this £10,000,000, it is a kind of a gesture—a gesture to satisfy the position that arose across the water when the Minister were there—and that we owe nothing. Yet, we are to pay this £10,000,000, and pay it in a way that is going to put £425,000 of an additional burden on us, and we are told that, if there is any suggestion of reducing taxation, it would disorganise the whole social system here. Well, i am not enamoured of the social system in this country, or of the social system of the Minister and his Party. We are told that the position is such that we cannot find money to increase unemployment assistance, that we cannot find money to increase the amounts paid out under minor relief schemes in Rhynana, but at the same time there is not difficulty about this sum of £425,000 that is going to be paid for this loan. I have suggested that that is not necessary at all. There is no reason why, if this £10,000,000 is to be paid, we cannot say to England: "You have £14,000,000 belonging to us; you want this £10,000,000; well, take it out of the £14,000,000." If that were done there would be no disorganisation of the social services here.

I am going to suggest seriously that it is a matter worth considering. Again I say, and I say this advisedly, that this borrowing from the Bank of England and investing in British securities is all part and parcel of that United Kingdon mentality—that mentality that we are told is now to financial stranglehold of the Bank of England and the finance of England upon us, then this country is not free.

The swallows are coming home.

It would be no harm if the Deputy went home.

I notice they are getting a cool reception.

If, as I suggest—and I suggest it in all seriousness—the position is faced up to, then, not alone would we save that £425,000 which we have to pay for this loan, but we will also—and it is about time—be redeeming in some way our position as a nation. As long as we have the position that our security and our confidence must be in Britain, then we are not going to have that Irish outlook that is necessary for a nation to adopt. As long as we feel that it is necessary to invest in British securities in order to keep public confidence at its highest pitch in this country, or in order to prevent a rush on the Post Office Savings Bank or some other fund which is being invested in, then, I say again, we are not facing up to our responsibilities as a nation. There is no use in talking about freedom or about getting back the ports, or talking about the only barrier now being Partition, so long as you have this big barrier to freedom, and I do not see that the Fianna Fáil Government or the Fianna Fáil Minister for Finance is making any effort to break through that barrier. I suggest that it is more important, more necessary and more urgent to get away from that position, that financial domination by England, than it is get rid of the barrier of Partition.

What does the Deputy suggest?

I have already suggested it. I have suggested that this country—that the Department of Finance of this country—holds £14,000,000 worth of British securities. It is a very easy matter to give them £10,000,000 of that. That would save the £425,000 which you will pay in interest charges, and, as I say again, it will put you on the road to release yourselves from this financial domination by England. I regard that financial domination by England as a greater evil in this country than Partition. I regard it as a greater evil in this country than all the things we were told it was necessary to do in order to clear out the British Army and the British police force from our country. That is what I suggest, and I suggest it in all seriousness. It can be done, and until it is done I am quite satisfied that we are not making a proper effort to rid this country once and for all of British domination. We have many social services that would benefit very much by this £425,000. I have named some of them already. There are others also, but for none of these, it seems, can money be found. We were told in this House that money cannot be found for school books for the little children who want them in the schools. But money is found for ths other thing right away. Nobody has criticised that side of the case. Nobody has criticised the fact that we are going to raise this sum of £425,000 while all these social services are crying out for the necessary finances to put them in some kind of a decent position. I suggest that that money could be spent very usefully and very economically in this country on the improvement of the social services of the country. There is no necessity for this, as I have pointed out, and if the Minister were to turn his attention to the suggestion I have made, I am sure he would see that there is a way of dealing with the position which has arisen through this Agreement and the payment of £10,000,000.

What would we save from that transaction?

Do not ask awkward questions.

What did the Deputy ask?

What would we save from that transaction?

I said we would save £425,000 this year.

I am afraid, Sir, there can be two reactions from the Budget: one, that the Minister might as well not have made a Budget speech at all —except for a few differences here and there, he might as well have come here and said: "As you were, boys," and secondly, another reaction—which gave us some relief—that, for once he did not take his courage in his hands and plaster the people with extra taxation. A number of things in the statement made by the Minister yesterday will not bear very close examination, I think. There is one statement in particular that is of very great interest to the farming community, if the statement is correct. It is on page 27, where the Minister says:

"The concession which has been made to the farmer in respect of his land annuity is within the recollection of everybody. By the Land Act of 1933 the annuity was halved, so taht for every 20/- which the purchaser by the terms of his bargain undertook to pay in order to buy out his holding he is now called on to pay only 10/-."

I quite admit that, as from year to year, the individual farmer has only to pay 10/- where he was paying 20/- before, but is this statement meant to imply that the individual farmer is only going to pay in bulk 10/- in the £ of what remains of the outstanding advance made on his holding, or is the halved annuity going to be continued for such a period that he will pay the full 20/- in the £ on the outstanding redemption value of the annuity on his holding. The Minister's statement is: "So that for very 20/- which the purchaser by the terms of his bargain undertook to pay in order to buy out his holding, he is now called upon to pay only 10/-." When the Minister is replying, I hope that he will make himself perfectly clear on that. Will he make the definite statement that the farmers are only going to pay 10/- in the £ on the outstanding redemption value of the annuities on their holdings, or is he merely glossing over the fact that they are going to pay 10/- in the £ for twice as long a period as that originally fixed when the bargain was made? There is intense interest in the country in this in view of the statements made in the House recently, and by the Minister's Party in years gone by. The discrepancy is agitating the minds of the farmers of the country. At one period, no annuities would ever be paid again to anybody, and now there is the question of "when grass grows and water runs." I suggest to the Minister that he should make the position perfectly clear. Will he say what is the actual legal position of the tenant purchaser in this country? He has not made it clear in the quotation that I have given from his Budget speech.

There are other matters that I want to refer to. Under the recent Agreement made between this country and England, the great boast on its introduction here was that the claims in respect of the annuities and other matters were being wiped out for a lump payment of £10,000,000, and an annual payment of £250,000 which was never disputed. I think a slight calculation will show that, under this Budget, the people will have to pay not only £250,000 but £1,300,000 to meet the demands made necessary by the settlement. My calculation is based on this: that there is to be extra expenditure on defence amounting to £600,000; and extra expenditure required for the flotation of the new Loan,£450,000. When you add to these two items the £250,000, you get the total of £1,300,000. That does not give one a picture in quite as rosy colours as the one painted by the Minister. He made great play with the fact that insistent demands are being made as to why taxation is not being brought down by £2,000,000, and says it would be well if you could provide more money to build up the country and improve conditions. The Minister hopes that he will hear no more about the reduction of taxation by £2,000,000.

We ought to try and forget it too.

I am quite sure that the minister will hear a whole lot more about it.

Hear, hear!

The minister's justification for this Budget and for saying that there cannot be a reduction in taxation is rather significant. It is due to the fact, he says, that extra money is being spent on social services. I suggest that money is being spent on services whcih, strictly speaking, do not come within the term "social". As compared with 1931, greatly increased sums of money are being spent on services that the Fianna Fáil Party, when in Opposition, wanted cut down to the lowest possible penny, two being the Army and the Gárda Síochána. The Army Vote for 1929-30 was £,259,000, for 1938-39 it is £1,672,000, an increase of £420,000, mainly due, I imagine, to the fact that increased sums are necessary to finance the late Army Pensions Act, and to the fact that the new Volunteer Defence Force is costing the country a terrible lot of money. I want to remind the minister that if. ten years ago. There was an increase of over £400,000 in the Army Vote, the Minister and his entire Party would possibly explode. The Minister cannot deny that £420,000 more is now being taken off the taxpayers of the country for the Army Vote than in 1930. Ten years ago the Fianna Fáil Party were shouting for a reduction in taxation and for the wiping out of pensions to able-bodied men. They attacked the last régime all over the country for paying pensions of ex-National Army men. but as in their conversion or to a complete chang-over, the Fianna Fáil Party in office,instead of reducing the Army vote, are responsible for the huge increase in it of £420,000 in a period of five years.

The other Vote that was next to the heart of the Fianna Fáil people when in Opposition was that for the Gárda Síochána. Here again there is a big increase. The Gárda Vote in 1929-30 was £1,552,000, and for 1938-39 it is £1,907,000 an increase of £350,000, so that the increase in the Army and the Gárda Votes is almost £1,000,000. Surely these Votes do not come within the term "social services" to which Deputy Hurley referred?

They have not been included under that head.

What I am suggesting is that the Minister justifies these increases in taxation by pointing to the social services, conveniently forgetting the increases in other Votes which the Minister, when in Opposition, would not have agreed to. I not suggesting that the Minister is not aware of what is in his own statement. This Budget is going to cause criticism. The Government Party have very cleverly succeeded in taking the people's minds off the increase in the Votes for the Army and the Gárda, one reason being that for the past five years they had something else to talk about. There was the grand old economic war or the national advance that was being pushed along to talk about, so that anyone who suggested dealing with the finances of the country, if that interfered with the Government, was told that he was an Imperialist or a traitor. These were the mildest terms that were applied to him. Now that the war is over, the last rattle of the drum is over.

In my opinion the people are now going to settle down to business. They will be much more interested in the future in their prounds, shillings and pence than in arguments as to who fired the first shots in the economic war, or in the tales that will be told about it. The will want to have an explanation from the Government about the increases in the case of these two services. In this Budget speech the Minister said he hoped that he had heard the last about the £2,000,000. Whose fault is it that the £2,000,000 was ever talked about? Certainly not this Party. When it was in office the Estimates were £10,000,000 lower than they are to-day. We have a habit of going back. The Minister for Finance has told us very often what he said in 1932 or 1933. But let us go back a bit farther, and see what his Party said in 1927; let us look at the Estimates for that year, and see what was the amount of our total taxation. It was at that period that the campaign was started which gave us the chance of reducing taxation by £2,000,000 a year. I propose giving a quotation from an official Fianna Fáil election notice of September 3rd, 1927:

"A Poor and Struggling People— What salaries they pay."

That looks like the secret agreement of 1923.

And if the Minister had his way, it would be as secret as anything could be in this country.

Put it in the museum.

"A poor and struggling people—what salaries thy pay." It starts off by saying "taken from official Free State publications." Every salary exceeding £600 per annum is set down. It says, "carefully note: the salaries and pensions are taken from official Free State publications. This is how they squander the money taken from the poor and struggling." Is not that remarkable? I often wonder if anybody in this country ever thinks of what members of the opposite Party said a few years ago.

Mr. D.O. Briain

What did your Party do when we tried to cut them down?

I do not like to argue with Deputy O Briain and, in deference to you, I will not. There is a time and place for that type of argument and I should be prepared to have it out with Deputy O Briain anywhere he pleases—even at the cross-roads. "This is how they squander the money taken from the poor and strugling and they tell you that no economy is possible." The same words are ringing along the corridors of the House to-day. The Minister for Finance tells us that no economy is possible and that the hopes he has heard the last of the £2,000,000 saving. "Now is the time to put in a Fianna Fáil Government who, by reducing the salaries and the number of oficials, will give the poor and struggling a chance to exist." Whatever anybody might have thought of the reduction of salaries, the reference to the number of officials is notable. "Reduce the number of officials." Is there any Department of State in which the number of officials has not increased since the present Government came into office? I wonder if the Minister for Finance was serious when he backed election propaganda of that sort. Was the Minister for Finance serious when, in 1932, he made his first ministerial bow to the House with a Budget? One sees in the Official Reports a most amazing statement by the Minister at the conclusion of the speech on a financial resolution. Here is what he said on the 11th May, 1932:

"It will be noted, furthermore, that in the present year, in order to relieve the extreme distress which everywhere prevails, we have been compelled to provide £580,000 eithen as free grants or grants-in-aid to accelerate the execution of works which will create employment. We hope next year to reap the full fruits of the Government's policy both in regard to industrial development and in regard to housing and thereby to have secured a solution of the unemployment problem. There is very reason to expect that this hope will be fulfilled."

That was in 1932. It is now 1938 and I feel that I am at a great disadvantage because I am so soft-hearted that I cannot get myself to say to the Minister the things I should like to say about these statements.

If there is criticism of the Budget, If there is criticism of the financial position of the country, if there is criticism of the number and the conditions of the unemployed, if there is criticism about high taxation, then the chickens are merely coming home to rost. If bad example was given for ten years, it is no wonder that the average man is now emulating that bad example and using the Minister's pet phrases, when in Opposition, to criticise his policy to-day. We might have had a lot more businesslike politics and a lot more straightforward dealing with questions of finance, taxation and employment if it were not for ramps of the type started in 1927, when we had publications like that which I have quoted stating that the Fianna Fáil Party were out to economise by cutting down Civil Service salaries and reducing the number of officials. We could have more decent consideration of the unemployment problem were it not for another ramp from 1927 to 1932 contained in the four words: "We have a plan." That was re-echoed by the Minister this time six years ago when he said the unemployment problem would be solved in a year. Whether the Minister wants to forget that or not, I want the Minister to relate his statements in Opposition to his performances in office. I am very much afraid that he could not do that and that the only thing he could say would be: "When we were out, we had to get in; and when we are in, we are going to stay in. We got in any way we could and we will stay in any way we can."

So far as the farming community is concerned and so far as the rural areas are concerned, particularly the small towns, the Budget is an entirely hopeless one. On page 43, the Minister states that his colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, is of opinion that the most effective way to help the rural community at this juncture is to continue temporarily certain bounties on agricultural produce. In the statement, an indication is given of the relief the farming community has got and of the relief they are to expect. They have got the halved annuties and they have to expect a continuance of certain bounties. Once upon a time, another plank ont he Fianna Fáil platform was derating. That was in the glorious days when the money to be withheld from Britain in respect of the annuities was to be used for derating agricultural land. It was a case of the Minister out of office and the Minister in office being two entirely different persons. The financial rake of 1927 is the conservative financier of to-day. Derating is dead as a door náil so far as the Fianna Fáil Party is concerned. It is perfectly obvious that the one ready means of relieving the agricultural community is by derating agricultural land. It is the quickest and most effective method that could be thought of at the moment. We are told from the Fianna Fáil Benches occassionally that that is not a very equitable way of doing things. When it is suggested from this side, of course, it could not possibly be equitable, but it was equitable when they suggested it seven or eight years ago. That is forgotten now. The only hope they hold out to the agricultural community is a temporary continuance of certain bounties on agricultural products. God help the agricultural community! In the poorer areas there are people, no matter what the agricultural statistics may say, who have suffered considerably for the past five or six years. Now that things are about to become normal, they are anxious to restock their lands, but they have ot the money to do it nor have they any means of getting the money. Small farmers and labourers were, for a long period, able to keep their families mainly b one form of agricultural production—the egg and poultry industry. It is remarkable, as shown by the return furnished us, that the one side of the agricultural industry which has been reduced very, very considerably is the egg and poultry industry. In time sgone by, the egg and poulty industry kept many small farmers' and labourers' households in the necessaries of life. All that is held out to them now is a continuance of certain bounties for a temporary period.

I want to make perfectly clear to the Minister that, whatever the situation ma be in the cities, whatevr the situation may be for people making money out of the Government's industrial policy, Deputy O'Sullivan was perfectly right when he spoke of the parlous condition of the small country towns. In the small country towns, on any day except the market day, you could play a score of bowls on the street without the danger of hitting anybody except a civic guard with his back against the barrack door. The only day on which any business is done in these towns in the market day, and I defy the Minister, or any member of the Government Party, to go into one of those towns and ask any of the inhabitants to compare the market days now with the market days 15 yeas ago or 10 years ago. The comparison is there for everybody to see. The portion of the country that has been hard hit is the rural areas and the small country towns, and there is absolutely no consideration, absolutely no concession, absolutely no ray of hope for the agricultural community or the inhabitants of small rural towns in this Budget.

I do not for a moment believe that the fact that the Government intends to spend £600,000 on the defences lately acquired by them in going to give an relief to the agricultural community, and I do not think that even the statement with which the Minister wound up is going to be a great relief to them. The only really flowery bit of the Minister's speech was contained in the last page, when he got back a little of his old buoyancey of his old optimism, and told us of a contribution he had got, not as a loan but as a gift. I do not think that even the Minister's optimism that many other citizens of this country would go out of their way to emulate that action is going to be of benefit to the rural community. I think there is going to be an intense reaction in the country to this Budget. I think the people in the small counry towns, and particularly the small farmers in the South, are going to feel that they have been let down, and let down badly, that there is no prospect of anything being done for agriculture. Sooner or later, the Minister for Finance and the Government must realise that agriculture is the main industry of this counry, and that if they are going to let agricultural production dwindle at the rate at which it has been dwindling, we will have a very serious situation. They will have to realise, sooner or later, that it is not by the big industrialists, by the person who can afford to go into someting like the Roscrea factory, by the person who talks in millions or tousands, this country will be carried on, but by the small farmer, the labourer and the people in the towns and villages. If they are to go down, and if their livelihood is to be hit, this Government and this country will go down, and the Government will go down with the satisaction of knowing that the statements they made ten years ago could not have been carried out. Whether they could carry them out or not, they embarked on such a foolish policy that they wrecked the rural community of this country and they will not take long to complete the wrecking process if we get Budgets like this in the future.

The recovery for our people of a free market for their agricultural produce in Great Britain is, to my mind, and to the minds of many of our people, the vast majority of our people, a matter of such supreme importance that we are sometimes inclined to forget other very vital matters which it is particularly important we should now remember. The trade returns for the month of March, 1938, were recently published, and they show an adverse trade balance of £22,600,000 on a total trade of £67,517,000. They show an adverse trade balance of £22,600,000 in a year when our total exports and re-exports amounted to £22,458,000, so that we were actually in the last 12 months importing substantially more than twice as much as we exported. We have not to raise £10,000,000 in the next two months, and we have to ask ourselves: Can that be done, and can that be done with the Budget in —— of us?

In those circumstances, I say, with every confidence, that it can be done, and easily done, if we go the right way about it, but it could not be done if we shirked the facts, if we led financial observers to believe that we were allowing ourselves to be blinded by a false optimism, and if we allowed shrewd financial observers to think that we were running away from the obligations which we clearly ought to shoulder.

It was the fashion in this country five or six years ago to suggest that the financial observers in the money markets of the world required to be informed of what was going on here by the Deputies of this House, and that if they were not told of what was happening here in Éire by local politicians, they would neve find out. I think the Minister for Finance ahs discovered during the last five years that financeries in all parts of th world, when they contemplate investing their money in Dublin, Paraguay, New York or Brazil, take very good care to discover all about what is happening in those centres before they make their investment. They have an extraordinarily efficient system of securing information. They often know a great deal more of what is passing in a country in which they are interested than the people living in that country. I invite the closest inspection of the potentialities of this country by the most critical financial experts in the world, in the confidence that they will, on the most critical estimate, come to the conclusion that, by the exercise of reasonable commonsense during the next five yeas, we can make this country one of the most prosperous agricultural countries in the world, and sound security for loans for greater than £10,000,000, if the national policy required such loans to be raised. We have, however, to exercise sound commonsense, and we have not been exercising it during the last five years. I have every hope that we are entering a new phase now, and that we are going, as a nation, to exercise some modieum of sound common-sense in the future.

I notice that the Minister for Finance, for the purpose of making a little local party capital, and for the purpose of taking a handful of feathers out of the tail of the Irish Independent, pats himself on he back about the immense sum of mone which the Fianna Fáil Government has been spending on the relief of unemployment. I put it to the Minister for Finance that that is not a wise line of country to travel. It is no advertisement for his Government, or for the policy that is being pursued here, to proclaim to the world that we have to make larger provision for unemployment now than has ever been made before in the history of this country. The general interpretation which will be put on that throughout the world is that unemployment is worse in Ireland now than it has ever been before. Mind you, if that interpretation were put upon it, the person who put that interpretation upon it would not be far wrong. But for the emigration that has been going on to Great Britain, unemployment in this country would be worse than it has evern been since Brian Boru fought the Battle of Clontarf. That is a rather strange commentary on Fianna Fáil economics and Fianna Fáil policy in the last six years, but I think it is an object lesson which has not been lost either on the Minister for Industry and Commerce or on the Minister for Finance. They have watched the tide of emigration flow to England. They have watched the increase of unemployment shown in the weekly and monthly returns. They have watched it with alarm, and I have no doubt with deep sympathy and regret. They have come to realise that, anxious as they have been to do what within them lay to reduce the numbers of unemployed, they have failed, and the time has come to mend their hand. In so far as they mend their hand with a view to repairing that situation, they may look with confidence to this side of the House for all the help they want; they will get it.

Now, I am not going to follow the Minister through his 63 pages, because I think it would be waste of time. I sincerely want to get out of the situation that has been created by the new Agreement with Great Britain everything which it is possible to get for our people and for this country, because I believe that if we do we can make this countr rich. I believe that if we make this country rich and prosperious and happy, we can ultimately make it united, and I believe that if we can make it united, we can consolidate its position of freedom, and that from that great consequences will flow for all that Ireland means to all of us. It seems to me that the first thing this Budget should have concerned itself to do, with a view to exploiting the advantages which are in that Agreement, was to reduce the burdens which rest on the wealth-producing section of our community, and that is the agricultural community. It cannot be too often repeated in this sovereign Assembly, or at any other meeting in this State, that this country is peculiar in that we have no natural resources except 12,000,000 acres of arable land. Almost every other country in the world has some mineral deposit or some natural resource which is capable of exploitation and resultant wealth production. Our only natural resource is arable land, and the exploitation of that involves the marriage of that arable land to the labour of the community living on it, and the consequent profitable sale of the products of their labour. It is no longer necessary to argue here how best to sell that product profitably. We are agreed on that issue, and I freely admit that the Fianna Fáil Government have now taken the most effective measures available to them to secure the most profitable market for the disposal of that product.

How then are we to get the best profit in that market? By reducing the overhead charges on the production of that product. The first thng to do is to derate the land. Our farmers, who are going into competition in the market that you have got back for them, are going into competition with farmes who are producing aricultural produce on land which is derated, in the north of Ireland and in Great Britain. Every penny that you take off in the shape of rates is going to be left in the hands of the farmers of this country. Now, it is not necessary to go into the history of land tenure in this country to remind Deputies of this ouse that when the farmers of this country own their land, the first purpose to which they will put any surplus money that we leave in their hands will be the improvement of their holdings and the improvement of the equipment on those holdings. If each individual 20-acre holding is improved, and the equipment on each 20-acre holding is improved, not only will the wealth of each individual farmer on each holding be increased, but the sum of the national wealth will be increased also. Therefore, my submission to this House is that if you will invest the £1,500,000 necessary for the derating of land, you will not lose one penny. The resulting increase to the national wealth will bring back every penny, if needs be, to the Exchequer, and, should the Exchequer not stand in need of the money, then to the nation as a whole, and to the standard of living of the people. I believe that you can finance the derating of the land of this country—I say this in all sincerity— out of economies in the administrative expenses of the various Departments of State, and I would be prepared to sit down with Ministers to-morrow to work that out. But suppose the Ministers say "No; to do that at this stage would involve so great a dislocation as to make the carrying out of our policies impossible", then, speaking personally —though I confess that in this matter I have not consulted my colleagues— I would make bold to say that I believe it would be good policy to derive the necessary revenue from sugar.

I believe it would pay will to derate the land of this country, by winding up the sugar experiment, by levying the revenue on sugar and using that revenue for the purpose of derating the land of this country. I think it would be better to finance it out of economies effected in the administration of the Ministers' Departments, and I believe it could be done, but if Ministers of the existing Government said to me that that could not be done without completely disorganising the day-to-day government of the country, then I believe the emergency is so great that it would be worth while resorting to the extreme measure of winding up the whole beet sugar experiment, levying the money on sugar, and using the money to derate the land of the country. I believe that every individual person growing beet would derive an infinitely greater benefit from having his land derated and an opportunity given him to exploit his market now, with the benefits conferred upon him by that than he would out of the beet sugar industry, and that the whole country as a unit would derive infinitely greater benefit than it is at the present time. I make these proposals deliberately and with constructive purpose in mind.

The second vital necessity would be to relieve the raw materials of the agricultural indusry from all taxation. I put it to the Minister for Industry and commerce that it is wrong, once his Government have admitted the vital importance of the profitable exploitation of the British market for our agricultural produce, that he should continue to embarrass and hinder the profitable exploitation of that market by piling taxation on the raw materials of the industry. I therefore say to him that tariffs and taxes should at once be taken off artificial manures, feeding stuffs, and the other essential requirements of farmers who are producing live stock and live stock products for the markets which have been got back for the agricultural community in the last few months. Rememberm we have paid a substantial price to Great Britain to get these markets back. Having paid a substantial price to get them back, surely we ought not to lose the opportunity of getting the last penny out of them simply b imprudent impositions which we ourselves put on. Every sixpenee you put on a bag of phosphate of lime is cutting down the capacity of our land to produce the stuff which we have the right to sell in Great Britain, and evrything which we are prevented from selling in Great Britain is cutting down the profit that our people could make in that market. Surely we ought not to do that.

The third thing I want to put to the Minister is that the time has definitely come when we should recognise that neither this country nor any other country can stand still. Many of us may be inclined to say that we ought to go back to the policy of the late Mr. Hogan. In one sense I do say that, but I say it in the spirit that he himself would have said it were he here to-day. He was a dynamic person and he would never have advocated standing still. He would never have advocated going back to doing the things that were being done in 1931 in the way they were then being done. But he would have advocated going on to the logical conclusion of the policies he so brilliantly evolved when the first took charge of the Department of Agriculture. I say that the logical conclusion of these policies is to establish now councils of research to examine the question of how best to conduct agriculture in this country in the special circumstances under which our people have to work. Remember that the circumstances under which our people have to work are not the circumstances under which the Germans or the Canadians or the Americans or the Russians or anybody else have to work.

We have peculiar market problems, and peculiar climatic conditions: we have peculiar tenure conditions in this country; and all these factors must be taken into consideration when we work out our agricultural policy. We ought to have in constant session research councils who would watch the development of agricultural policy from day to day, from month to month, and from year to year, keeping our people up to the most modern methods adapted to the special circumstances obtaining so that every day that passes one would extract from the situations that confront us the last penny that could be got out of the opportunities that present themselves to our people, in order that our natural resources may be forced to yield for our people the highest standard of living that they can be made to yield now and for all time.

To date, the best that Fianna Fáil has been able to offer us since the Agreement was made was the Minister for Industry and Commerce's gesture this week—industrial alcohol potatoes at £2 per ton, with Deputy Moore's cautionary observation that the Poles were prepared to produce potatoes for 15/- per ton. He did not go on to say that he could not see why the Irish people could not produce them at 15/- per ton, but he meant it. There was a time, I confess, during the last five years when the Minister for Industry and Commerce produced urban agricultural theories of that kind when I used to get mad, if I may lapse into an American vernacular. He used to make me really angry, and I used to use language with which I sometimes made the Chair mad. In those days, I used to think of the unfortunate farmers down the country who were hungry and who were told that they ought to grow potatoes at 15/- a ton. In those days, there was nothing else whereby to earn a living and they had no reaction to proposals of that kind but intense indignation.

Now they can afford to laugh. Now they have the market. Now they can carry on their agriculture in an intelligent way and, when the Minister for Industry and Commerce comes down with his urban theories of growing potatoes at 15/- per ton, they can just laugh and laugh and laugh and send him back to Dublin and tell him to grow potatoes in Capel Street for the industrial alcohol factories, or to put out a windox box in Rathmines and grow them there for the industrial alcohol factories. Deputy Corry will grow potatoes at 15/- per ton, and Deputy Tom Kelly will plough up Cork Hill and grow them at 15/- per ton; down in Mayo we will just laugh, and laugh and laugh. We will not get vexed any more and the Irish Press will not have to publish the Minister for Industry and Commerce's loud lamentations about how he is grieved at the cross words spoken to him yesterday, and how humiliated he was to think that anyone would speak so harshly of him in his own Parliament. We shall never speak harshly of him any more; we shall only laugh.

Now I come to his own bailiwick, the bailiwick of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and I do seriously make this suggestion to him. There has been during the last few years a wide chasm between his Party and ours on the industrial question. I think he has come, in the last couple of months, a long way on the road to common sense and I think the time has come when he might do something to clear the road for some real advance to a sound industrial policy. I want to sugest to him that if he is going to do that there are two very important preliminaries that have to be attended to. One is to establish certainty and the other is to make up our minds definitely what are the industries that we are genuinely concerned to establishment and maintenance of which we are prepared to make sacrifices. Having determined that, we ought to make up our minds to clear out of the path of those industries all obstacles we can reasonably get out of their way. At present, if you embark on any industry to-day you are quite likely to find that this day week some new departure will be embarked upon which will completely alter the fundamental conditions obtaining when you started out on that industrial venture.

I put it to the Minister that that is a highly undersirable situation. I put it to the Minister that it is quite impossible to arrive at certainty in the matter of industry at all so long as there is a general impression abroad that any "fly-by-night" or wanderer that happens to ramble into this country from any of the four quarters of the globe can trot into the Department of Industry and Commerce and secure the Minister's co-operation for the establishment of an industry to manufacture anything from toothbrushes to aeroplane propellers. It ought to be made clear that we are not interested in the promotion of tiny workshops, that they are no good to anybody, that they do not fit into the picture here, that we are not primarily an industrial country as England is primarily an industrial country, that we are primarily an agricultural country, and that we are deliberately concerned to establish a certain predetermined body of indutry in this country for the express purpose of balancing our economy, that starting, as we are starting, almost from scratch, we are resolved to pick and choose our industry and that we deliberately reject the undesirable elements of industry which are the disagreeable characteristics of a predominantly industrial country like Great Britain or the State of Pensylvania. That being so, I think the next thing we ought to do is to examine the tariffs schedule, as at present established, with the deliberate intention of choosing out of it what appear to be desirable industries which provide good employment at reasonable rates of wages and which hold out a prospect of producing high-class articles at a reasonable price and, having identified these industries, deliberately go through the tariffs schedule and strike out all the tariffs which operate to raise the cost of the raw materials of the industries which we propose to retain.

Now, I seen in the Financial Resolutions of this Budget a proposal substantially to raise the duty on the component parts of certain shoes. At the same time, we all know that, under the recent Agreement with Britain, we are going to abolish the quota on shoes and substitute for that quota a duty. Surely it is an irrational thing, if we are going to have a shoe industry in this country—and, mind you, I think the shoe industry is really one of the industries that is doing remarkably well, and always did remarkably well, in this country—to promote in this country, with immense tariffs, the shoe puff and stiffener industry to the great embarrassment of the shoe industry just at the moment when the shoe industry is in a state of considerable alarm as to the abolition of the quota. That is the kind of thing, I think, that is so profoundly unsound in the whole of the Minister's industrial policy. That is the hit-and-miss characteristic of the Minister's industrial policy which, I think, is defeating the whole object that we all have in view. I admit that Fianna Fáil propaganda has pretty successfully got over the thesis that they are the great protagonists of industry. They managed to persuade a great number of people in this country that, until they hove in view, nobody ever advocated industry in this country. They entirely forget that Parnell was fighting 50 years ago for fiscal autonomy for this country in order to help Irish industry. They entirely forget that the Cumann na nGaedheal Party fought to help Irish industry but, nevertheless, that is true. The only difference is that the earlier defenders of Irish industry believed that the consumer had some rights too. The earlier defenders of Irish industry were awake to this all-important fact which I want to impress on the Government now, that industry depends on something far more than tariffs and protection. It ultimately depends on the goodwill of the consuming public. If you alienate that goodwill, no amount of protection is going to promote industry.

Might I remind the Government of the analogy between Irish industry and the Irish language? I invite Deputies of this House to cast their minds back 25 years. Twenty-five years ago any person who spoke Irish in this country was an enthusiast. He loved the language and he was prepared to work voluntarily for it. He was prepared to go down to the Gaeltacht, to sleep and live in any accommodation he could get, in order to improve his knowledge of the language. Then compulsory Irish came on. There was no enemy of the language 25 years ago. There was an immense number of people indifferent to it, who did not care one way or another, but nobody had strong feelings or enthusiasm. There was a small rump of Unionists who may have hated the language but taking the Irish people who mattered, while a considerable number might have been indifferent nobody had strong feelings or was enthusiastic. What is the situation to-day? You brought in compulsory Irish and there are now far more people who hate the language than love it. To those of us who love and who worked for the language, and who would love to see it thrive and prosper, it is a source of great grief that the folly of compulsion and coercion has created a volume of prejudice against the language which all of us know to exist. That was done through the excessive and imprudent zeal of those who sought to serve the cause.

I submit that the Government are doing precisely the same thing to Irish industries. Ten or 15 years ago an immense number of people were quite indifferent to Irish industries. They did not give a damn. They were quite prepared to buy a British product or a foreign product if it was better than an Irish product. They were not going to give any preference at all to the Irish product, simply because it was Irish. No one had strong feelings on the matter or felt that a preference should be given to Irish Products. No one would reject a product because it was Irish. With the exception of a small group of irreconcilable old Unionists who did not matter, no one had a strong prejudice against Irish products. Do you perceive at the present moment a spirit arising amongst the people about Irish industries similar to that which has arisen about the Irish language? Do you not see that there are people, exasperated by having thrown upon them commodities which they find unsuitable, reacting violently, saying that the Irish stuff is always bad and that they want English or foreign stuff? A completely new spirit is being created by pushing thepace too hard. It is being created by trying to force Irish industrialists to do a job and, at the same time, making it impossible for them to do it in the right way; by giving one group of industrialists a job to do, and on the following morning tariffing and taxing half the raw materials that these Irish industrialiss have to use. I put it to the Minister for Industry and Commerce that he is doing to Irish industries the same disservice that the language enthusiasts did to the language 15 years ago. I urge on him strongly to re reconsider his position, and to realise that if the language enthusiasts only acted with moderation 15 years ago, he would have found himself to-day, perhaps with a large number of people indifferent, but with a vast majority eager and anxious to help. So will the Minister find himself if he proceeds vigorously and courageously, but with moderation and prudence, with a considerable body of people, perhaps, indifferent but a vast majority eager and ready to help and with a certainty of success before him. It is not too late. There is a real chance of getting this work properly done, and there is also a real chance of running the whole job. The worst of it is that if this industrial job is ruined, it may have reactions on the agricultural job that waits to be done, and could pull down the whole economic structure of the country. If that were to happen nobody could retrieve the situation. I admit that in the new situation it could be done over a long time, because our potential wealth in that situation is so great, but I would like to be certain that no contingent danger of such folly exists.

Before I leave tariffs I would like to say that I feel the time has come when, whatever may be said, it would be expedient if we could have the whole question of tariffs looked at and spoken of from both sides of this House in a calm and objective way. I submit that all tariffs, objectively, are bad, and that the ideal world condition would be universal free trade, just as the ideal world condition would be universal disarmament. But we are all practical men, and we know that in a world where all men are not perfect, we are not going to get universal disarmament. Therefore, if we are patriotic and want to serve our country, we must fight for the right to arm our own people if the necessity should arise, simula modo. If we are not going to get in an imperfect world universal free trade, and if we are patriotic men, we have to fight for the right to create tariffs, if the necessity arises, in defence of our own people. So while we have to recognise that we have to arm ourselves with the right to use tariffs if the necessity arises, it is the second best way. When that situation became applicable and there was resort to the tariff weapon, we ought to recognise hat even though we can prove that the use of tariffs is going to provide good employment for 20 or 100 men, at the same moment that we put that 20 or 100 men into employment we are going to put out of employment a certain limited number of people. That cannot always be avoided. It sometimes has to be faced and should not be forgotten. I remember very well what happened when we raised the tariff on women's coats to prohibitive figure. I admit that a number of girls were employed in the manufacture of coats, but it struck me immensely at that time. I knew a fellow who had an agency for women's coats, from a house in Manchester, and who had a boy at schools in one of the good secondary schools here and he had a girl at school at a good convent secondary school near Dublin. He was a very prosperous man and a decent fellow who was making a very good living. I met that fellow: he had sold his house; he had taken the children from school, and he was living in one room. He was a middle-aged man and he just had not been lucky. I am sure some of the agents for English firms got jobs with the limited number of Irish firms who had gone into that business, but he had not. He had been accustomed to a middle-class life. He had friends very much like ourselves, and he was suddenly reduced to a standard closely approximating to tenement life. Well, there are decent, kindly people living a tenement life in Dublin. That is quite true. There are plenty of decent, kindly people living in great poverty in Dublin. But when I met this man, who, I knew, had been comfortable and well-off and ambitious for his children, and saw him on the border of destitution, it was brought home very forcibly to me that there were two sides to a tariff. I do not know that you could argue very strongly with the Minister that he must hold his hand and forbear to employ the women that he wanted to employ, if he believed in the tariff, in order to preserve that man's job, but it was hard for that man to see the immense benefit of that tariff when he thought of his home broken up and the whole future of his family jeopardised and destroyed.

Then there is the other side of tariffs. The Minister put a tariff on flannelette. He puts a tariff on cotton underwear. I have mentioned this case in the House before. The Minister says: "Are we to allow Japanese stuff to come in here and beat down the standard of living of our workpeople to the level of a bowl of rice?" There is no answer. The answer is "No." But there is another side. Take a labouring man. A man who labours hard, perspires. It is a great comfort to a labouring man if he has an undergarment that can be readily washed. If he has not, he experiences great physical discomfort. A man who is earning 24/- a week—he now gets 27/-. but three or four years ago he might have been earning only 19/- a week— could buy at that time a very good cotton undervest, admittedly manufactured in Japan, for 1/-. At one stroke the Minister abolished all that and the cheapest vest he could get was about 2/-. That simply meant he had to go without it, and he had to experience all the discomfort of going without it and wearing these garments unwashed because it was not possible to wash then with the regularity that a light cotton undergarment might have been. That inconvenience and discomfort was multiplied thousands of times. Unless you live amongst the people you cannot know what that means. I know, because I stood behind my counter and met these people. I knew what they wanted and they got them from me across the counter. I know what it meant to refuse them and tell them I had not got the stuff and could not get it for them. I knew what it was to charge them 2/- for what I knew I used to be able to give them for 1/-, and to meet the woman who had only 1/- and send her out because she had not 2/- for the undershirt. I knew what it was when the tariff went on flannelette to cut and sell to a woman flannelette at 1/- a yard that I knew was worth only 8d., and that I had sold to her for 8d. That is the other side of tariffs, and I think it is a side that a lot of Deputies in this House forget. It is not surprising that they forget it, because they do not come into contact with the poor, on whom the tariff presses. The tariff does not press upon the well-to-do because they are able to meet the added cost out of their surplus, and they do without some trifling luxury in order to meet the added cost. The poor have to forego an essential, and it is we who stand behind the counter and who serve the poor who know that, and the poor themselves. Nobody else knows it. I do know, and anybody else who stands in my position, or anybody else who is the mother of a poor family or the earner of a labourer's wage knows it. That is something that we ought to remember when we wield the tariff weapon, because it can cut, and cut deep, when it strikes the poor.

There is another aspect. I admit that this aspect of the tariff question is not so important. We have just put an immense tariff on art silk. Art silk is coming into this country from Japan at 4d. a yard, 6d. in check, rd. in plain colours. In the country little girls, and big girls, buy it for dance frocks or for Sunday frocks.

And little girls make it in Japan.

Wait a moment; I say there is no answer to that. There is no answer to that. I agree there. There is no answer to the argument that you cannot allow people to be beaten down to the standard of living of the bowl of rice. I agree with that absolutely, and you may reply: "Very well, you must keep it out because the conditions under which it is being manufactured are conditions which we cannot defend." I admit that and I think that ought to be weighed in your mind. When this resolution was passing through the House I did not oppose it because there was present to my mind the consideration that Deputy Heron has just mentioned. I have introduced my observations on this art silk matter by saying that this is of less consequence than the others, to which I have just referred, but it is something that ought to be borne in mind because it is a luxury and a luxury that I am prepared to stand over abolishing on the ground that I think the evil is greater than the necessity for it. But it is a little luxury they did like having. It introduced a note a gaiety and pleasure into the lives of people whose lives are ordinarily somewhat drab, living in the country. Deputy Heron may say with great eloquence—and he draws me rather into opposition—he may say with great eloquence that little girls made it in Japan, but after all, people in the country live rather a drab life and we ought to be slow to withdraw from them any contribution to cheerfulness and gaiety.

Even though it is manufactured under conditions we would not tolerate here?

I will not be forced into defending conditions in Japan. I will not argue with Deputy Heron. I invite him to follow me. But, still we ought weigh carefully in our minds when we come to impose a tariff of this kind what it is that we are depriving the people of. I admit it is a luxury and a pleasantness and we are taking something from these people to which they attach considerable importance. I admit that we are taking from the young people of the country something which to them is of no more importance than, say, Turkish tobacco would be to a grown man in the city, and forcing him to smoke gaspers instead of the favourite brand of Turkish cigarettes. I think that is a sacrifice that any person ought freely and gladly make in order to achieve some useful purpose. But, nevertheless, it is a sacrifice that if it is not necessary we should not ask him to make. If the sacrifice is not going to do some good he should not be asked to make it. But we ought to be conscious of what we are asking him to do.

I do not want to say a superfluous word in regard to this Budget. I have tried, in what I have said, to be constructive. I have said quite frankly and quite honestly what I meant. But I have said some things I think which will supply some of my less constructive critics with abundant opportunity for cross-road speeches. I do not care a hoot; they are quite welcome to the material I supplied. But I say this last word—I think the Minister has done less than justice in not providing us with the Banking Commission report before this Budget came to be discussed.

I assure the Deputy that that report is a very voluminous document. I have not got it from the printers yet, an I have not been able to read it myself.

Provided the Minister gives an assurance that it will be made available to us as soon as it is printed, I think the gravamen of my complaint will be largely disposed of, but I think it should be in our hands at the earliest possible opportunity. I think it would be very helpful if we had an assurance from the Minister that substantially the Government would seek to adopt its policy, the policy of the non-controversial expert recommendations contained therein. It is not the function of experts to enter into the sphere of politics. It is not the function of experts to indicate national policy. But it is the very normal function of economists to say what is the economy most advantageous to any community, wherever that community may be. I think it would be helpful to the community as a whole if the two Ministers at present in front of us, the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Industry and Commerce, would tell us that they look forward at the earliest possible opportunity to gleaning information from this report, and to seeking the co-operation of all Parties here in consultation across the floor of this House in putting the recommendations of the Banking Commission into effect at an early opportunity and working together for the increased prosperity of all sections of the community.

What is annoying Deputy Dillon is, I think, that his Party has been found out. For years they have maintained themselves by the constant reiteration of one contention, namely, that all our economic evils arose out of the penalty tariffs and the dispute with Great Britain. That contention has now been proved to be wrong, and they are trying rapidly to provide themselves with some new vestage of policy. Therefore we have an attempt by Deputy Dillon to make a start in that direction; he made that start to-day. I want Deputy Dillon to realise how completely he and his Party have been wrong in the past. They will not, I am sure, deny—for the records are there against them—that the whole burden of their arguments here in recent years was that all our evils were derived from the economic war, and that all these evils would disappear the moment the economic war was ended. I can quote numerous illustrations to show now the full extent of their errors. If I had said six months ago that the British importer of our cattle was paying part of the British tariff on those cattle, and that if the tariff were removed the price would not go up by the full amount of the duty, Deputy Dillon would have laughed at that, and every member of the Party opposite would have laughed at it. We discussed that matter here time and again. Time and again speakers on these Benches pointed out that the whole burden did not fall upon the cattle producers. They argued that a substantial portion of the burden fell upon the cattle con sumers in Great Britain, and that a proportion of these tariffs was paid by the importers in Great Britain. Does the Deputy now deny that that was so?

No; that was our argument. Who said it was not so?

Well, the Irish Independent said it and members of the farming community down the country are saying it; the fact is there that the prices of cattle have not gone up.

Are the penal tariffs off?

Does the Deputy deny that the farmers are saying this?

I ask the Minister again if the penal tariff duties are off?

If the Deputy prefers to put it this way—he was has not been exposed yet, but he will be exposed this day week. I am saying that the price to cattle will not go up by the amount of the duty.

Is the Minister talking to fools?

The price of cattle will not go up by the amount of the duty, and the reason is that the consumers of cattle in Great Britain have been paying part of the duty. Will Deputies opposite admit that? Will Deputies opposite say that now with a free market for butter the price of butter will go up in England? As soon as this Agreement comes into operation there will be a free market for butter in Great Britain. Will Deputies opposite contend that the price of butter will go up?

Is the Minister telling us that there is a free market for butter in England now? Surely he knows there is not.

There will be a free market for butter this day week. I am asking the Deputy does he contend the price of butter will go up?

According to the Minister's figures, it is the English who are paying these tariffs on cattle.

I am talking about butter. Evidently the Deputy does not know the difference between butter and cattle.

The English people are not paying the duty either on butter or cattle, and the Minister will very soon find that out.

Does it pay us to send eggs to the British Market? I emphasise these things in order to make Deputies realise how wrong they were in their contention in the past six years and how wrong their contention will be shown to be in the next six years.

We were told that the solution of the problem of agriculture was derating. Derating was even debated and considered here years ago. In fact, when Deputy Cosgrave was President he set up a commission to report on derating. The report of that commission is available in the Library. I wonder how many Deputies have read it. That report was debated here, and we had many speeches from those who were in Deputy Cosgrave's Government supporting the contention of those who sat upon that commission and published their report. Do they agree with the framers of that report now? Has a fundamental change taken place between 1930 and 1938 to justify the complete reversal of the policy which the Party opposite took up in 1930? I do not believe that derating will be any benefit to the Irish farmers at all. We are taxing the sugar consumers £1,000,000 to give an advantage to the growers of beet. Is there a Deputy here who could not conceive a thousand better ways of helping agriculture than be derating? It is fallacious to compare the position of our farmers with the position of farmers in Northern Ireland. Our farmers have got a much greater concession through the halving of the land annuities than the farmers in Northern Ireland were given by their Government. It represents £1,000,000 more than the advantage they would be given if the concessions given in Northern Ireland were applied here. If we put our farmers on a par with the farmers of Northern Ireland, and give them the same concession, the farmers here would be paying more than the combined annual amount of their halved annuities and rates. The Deputies opposite know that, but they are trying to build up a new policy in order to replace the discarded policy which is no longer of any use to them. Therefore, they jump blindly at this idea of derating without having considered it, or even read their own speeches on the subject, because their own speeches were deemed by them only a short while ago as being sufficient to demolish entirely the contention that there was any benefit for agriculturists to be secured by derating. In any event, derating is going to cost £1,000,000, or more.

Let us have it.

Deputy Dillon made a suggestion which he admitted was not supported by his Party, that we should get the £1,000,000 at the expenses of the growers of beet, and the sugar consumers generally. If we do not get it that way, it has to be got some other way. If we are going to get £1,000,000 from any section of the community for the benefit of agriculture, then agriculture will not get any return for that expenditure by derating commensurate with what it could get in other ways. In any event, agriculture has got assistance from the State substantially in excess of anything it received when conditions such as will exist in the future formerly existed, before the economic dispute began. Deputies over there speak as if 1931 was a boom year in agriculture. It was probably the worst year our farmers ever had to face.

What year was?

The year 1931. Compared with that year, the farmers now have innumerable advantages which will help them to consolidate their position and to take the best out of the existing circumstances.

Will the Minister give the figures of the earnings of the farmers in the years 1931 and 1937— the value of their products?

I am not going to go into that now.

I can give them to you.

We have here an attempt to formulate something which purports to be an agricultural policy. We are told we can abolish the growing of beet because we can utilise the land much more remuneratively. Producing what?

Ask the beet-growers— anything at all. Ask them.

Name one item which could be grown and which would pay better to produce than beet. If Deputies opposite are trying to formulate an agricultural policy, they should be more specific than that. Butter does not pay except it is subsidised; eggs will not pay except they are subsidised. Go through the whole list of agricultural products and it will be evident that there is nothing which will pay the farmers better than the production of beet. If we expand our butter subsidy. It cannot be carried on otherwise. Extending egg production would only mean a further subsidy.


Therefore, I may take it that it is Deputy Dillon's contention that it pays our butter or egg producers to export these products to the British markets at the prevailing prices?

Eggs will pay well if you take your nose out of it.

I do not know what the Deputy means by taking my nose out of it. I say that for some time past, at the present time, and in the future, the egg producers have been and will have to be subsidised going into the British market. They have been getting a price higher than they would get in circumstances of absolute free trade. The bounty upon eggs not merely pays the whole of the duty chargeable in Great Britain, but more than that, and, despite that assistance to egg producers, egg production has gone down by 50 per cent.

Would the admixture scheme have anything to do with it— the price of meal?

We will discuss that elsewhere. At the moment I am trying to deal with this imitation agricultural policy which Deputy Dillon has expounded. He tells us that we are to take advantage of the Agreement by increasing production. Production of what? According to the suggestions by Deputies opposite, we are to abandon the production of wheat and the production of beet and anything else with which Fianna Fáil was identified, in order to increase production, but Deputy Dillon will not become more specific than that. He will not say in what manner we are to increase production.

Eggs, bacon, cattle, beef, pork.

On subsidies. Remember that a number of these items have to be subsidised.

None of the, if you take your nose out of it.

If we increase these items which have to be subsidised, for what purpose would we do so? So that Deputy Dillon may be proved to be right when he denounced the wheat-and beet-growing scheme.

Now tell us something about industrial alcohol.

The Deputy suggested the price of 15/- a ton for potatoes. Deputy Dillon regards himself as a master of the art of misrepresentation.

It was Deputy Moore who mentioned it.

He mentioned that figure in relation to Poland and in connection with a project started for the purpose by fixing the minimum price of potatoes at £2 a ton. This Government did that. The exportable surplus is small, but small as it is, it has always been sufficient to cause substantial fluctuations in price, because circumstances are such that when there is a small production here there is a small production in Great Britain and the other countries from which Great Britain might procure her potatoes. When there is a high production here, somewhat similar circumstances prevail elsewhere. Does Deputy Dillon know what the price was in 1931? He does not. I can tell him that 15/- a ton was paid for potatoes for some years before 1934.

Go fish.

I can tell the Deputy that 15/- was the prevailing price in Donegal in 1934 and it was because these were the circumstances that that scheme was devised in order to ensure some method of taking that surplus out of the market and paying for it a price which would ensure that the whole of the production would be sold at a reasonable figure.

Is that the reason you put the price up again the day before yesterday?

I do not know what the Deputy is talking about; probably he does not know himself. The whole basis of an agricultural policy must be to reduce the overheads of farmers. When I came into the Dáil first as an innocent Deputy I listened with repture to a statement made by Deputy Cosgrave that the farmers pay no taxes. Does the Deputy remember that speech?

I never said anything of the sort. I said that if a farmer did not consume intoxicating liquor, did not use tobacco, did not send letters, did not indulge in stock exchange transactions and wore Irish manufactured goods, he could escape taxation—and would.

And did not take sugar—you forgot that.

Anyway, that is a very different statement from what the Minister for Industry and Commerce has just made. I believe I even mentioned that sugar was the only thing that he would pay duty on—and remember, that it would not be as much as the Minister is charging now.

If it was possible for a farmer to escape taxation at that time, it is still possible for him to escape.

What could he buy now without having to pay a tax?

Any Irsh-made product.

Glory to be God!

Including industrial alcohol?

The same thing is as true now as it was then. Deputy Cosgrave is now trying to explain away this change in policy which Deputy Dillon has forced on him.

I have merely corrected the Minister's statement—no more.

The farmer could not buy a cap for his pipe now without paying a tax.

On the basis of the statement which Deputy Cosgrave made in 1927-28, I maintain that the farmer can escape paying taxes now just as well as at that time. There are few taxes he could avoid. The farmer could not be born and could not die without paying a contribution to the national Exchequer.

I was talking of live ones. If the farmer dies he does not pay; somebody else pays.

I submit the same statement is as true now as it was then. We have gone a long way towards reducing the overhead charges of farmers. We have reduced their annuities by half. If we compare the position now with the position in 1931, we will see that they have many advantages which they did not then possess. They have the reduction of the annuities, a higher contribution to the relief of rates on agricultural land, subsidies on agricultural exports, and better services in relation to agriculture.

Then the Minister for Finance must be telling untruths. His own document says that they are getting £78,000 less by way of agricultural grants.

That is distributed in other ways.

Either one or the other is wrong.

The Deputies opposite will want to think of a better policy; there are too many holes in it. They cannot hide behind it, because their weaknesses will be exposed. I have often warned Deputy Dillon that it was unwise to base any conclusion as to the level of national prosperity on foreign trade figures. Time and again, I have tried to demonstrate to Deputies opposite that foreign trade figures are no guide to the level of prosperity here. We could have, and had, voluminous dealings in foreign goods—our ports busy shipping in and shipping out produce—at a time when poverty was rampant in the country and when our people were fleeing out of the country because of their inability to get a livelihood here.

They are fleeing now.

If the Deputy will go back and study the history and the figures relating to the year of the famine, he will find that that contention is true. On the other hand, we could have, in theory at any rate, no foreign trade at all, and, at the same time, have a much higher standard of living for the people of this country. Now, I do not deny that it would be desirable to secure a better adjustment in our foreign trade situation. The figures for last year, however, justify no conclusion at all. Everybody knows that since the negotiations were opened with Great Britain there was such uncertaint as to the future that trade was dislocated entirely and that no sound conclusion could be drawn from the figures for that period. In previous years, however, there was an adverse balance which, although not sufficient to give serious grounds for apprehension, nevertheless was something to which we had to advert. That trade balance is going to improve, obviously, with the increased prices for agricultural produce.

The increasing prices.

Yes, the increasing prices; and that improvement will be welcome, but Deputies should not conclude that that improvement is necessarily going to mean any improvement in the position of our people generally, in a reduction of unemployment, or in an increase in the general level of prosperity. It need not necessarily mean anything of the kind.

Why did you make the Agreement, if so?

Now, one of the usual contentions of the Party opposite is that unemployment has increased in this year, or recent years, as compared with 1931—that there are more people unemployed this year. That argument is easily contested. Our population to-day is not higher that it was in 1931. I am sure Deputies opposite will agree with that statement. It is, in fact, somewhat lower. If, therefore, there are more people unemployed, there must be less people employed somewhere—less people employed in some occupation, either in agriculture, in industry, in transport or in retail distribution. In some one of these occupations there must be fewer people employed now, if more people are unemployed. In respect of which of them is that contention correct? None of them. There are more people to-day employed in agriculture, in transport, in retail distribution, and much more employed in industry than in 1931.

The figures produced by the Statistical Department are there available for Deputies to study, and they cannot persuade anybody—not even themselves —that these figures are faked. The obvious conclusion is that there is a much smaller number of people unemployed in this year than in that year. It is quite true, of course, that more people are registered at the employment exchanges. The explanation for that has been given many times in this House. In 1931, there was no unemployment assistance; there were no relief schemes; there was no inducement for anybody to register, or no advantage to be got by registering. These advantages are there now, however. There is work to be got, and there in unemployment assistance to be got, and because there is work and unemployment assistance to be got the people are availing of the services of the employment exchanges. That, and that only, explains the increased numbers on the register, but all the other facts point to the conclusion that the number of people actually unemployed is substantially less than it has been for a very long number of years in this country, at any rate, for the whole of the period for which reliable figures are available.

Deputy Dillon says that it is no advertisement for this country to proclaim that we have to spend more upon unemployment. We are not proclaiming that we have to spend more upon unemployment, but we are taking pride in the fact that we are doing it. The need for spending on unemployment was greater in previous years, when it was not being done. Now we are making a much larger provision, which we regard as our duty as a Government to make, and even though we have to face the attacks of Deputies, because of the taxes that are necessary in order to get that money, nevertheless we are prepared to face those attacks or to face any criticism from any of the Deputies opposite or from any part of the country, in order to make that money available to relieve the situation of those who are unemployed. Our predecessors shirked that. They would not do it. They would not face the odium of imposing taxation for that purpose. On the contrary, whatever economising they did was at the expense of the poorest sections of the community.

I was interested in Deputy Dillon's statement that we could look with confidence to him and his Party for assistance in relation to this unemployment problem. That is a new policy, and I hope it is sincerely meant, although I doubt it. The assistance we want from Deputies opposite is not speeches of the kind we have had from Deputy Dillon. I will believe in the sincerity of their willingness to give that assistance when one single member of that Party makes a constructive suggestion that would put one man into work. They have never done it here. They have quoted here, and misquoted here, figures relating to the unemployed, and they have painted doleful pictures about the unemployment situation; but never once would they commit themselves to a positive constructive suggestion that could be acted upon, and on the day they do that I will believe that there is some sincerity behind these declarations of willingness to help which we get occasionally from Deputy Dillon.

Let us turn to this question of industry. We had Deputy Cosgrave telling us yesterday that we have bartered away our fiscal autonomy. That contention must be dealt with, because there is a modicum of truth in it. It is true that we have limited our freedom to use our fiscal powers. We did that in our Trade Agreement with Great Britain. We did it in earlier trade agreements. We did it in our trade agreemens with Belgium, with Germany, with Holland. We did it in the case of every trade agreement we made with other countries. Every trade agreement limits our freedom to use our fiscal powers to some extent. An agreement may be made between two countries to limit their fiscal powers in respect of the produce of each country, and our Trade Agreement does in fact operate to limit our liberty to use our fiscal powers, but it also operates to limit the British Government's freedom to use its fiscal powers in respect of our produce. If it is any invasion of our fiscal autonomy to undertake that we will act upon the recommendations of the Prices Commission in connection with the existing tariffs, is it not an equal invasion of the Fiscal autonomy of the other Government when they undertake that, for the duration of the Agreement, they will not put any tariff at all upon our produce? If it is true in the one case it is true in the other. I think the argument that has been put up is nonsensical. In any case the Agreement is there. It can be stopped. It can still be stopped, if Deputies want it to be stopped. If Deputies opposite want it stopped, let them say so now. If they think that the price we are asked to pay for the things done is too high, let them say so now —it is not too late—and if they can secure a majority, what has been done can be undone. These, however, will not be their tactics. They will not say that it should be undone, or that it should not have been done. They will say that it should be done, and they will vote for it, but when the gains have been secured they will parade the country saying that it is an Agreement that should not have been made, and that the Government let down the industrialists or let down the country or abandoned its fiscal powers unnecessarily in order to secure the Agreement.

Of course, we had Deputy Cosgrave saying that we could have made a better agreement. I doubt that very much. I have some knowledge of the circumstances under which that Agreement was negotiated, and while I think the British Government made a hard bargain, at the same time I doubt very much if an agreement could have been made at all on any other terms except those contained in the document circulated. I know one thing for certain, that it could not have been made any earlier. We have the asertions of Deputies opposite that an agreement could have been made, and should have been made, long ago in order that Mr. J. H. Thomas should be Prime Minister of Great Britain, but that is not true. In fact, I will go so far as to say that seven days, or at any rate 14 days, before that Agreement was signed it was very doubtful if there would be any agreement at all, much less four or five years ago.

I do not believe a single word of that.

I do not care whether the Deputy believes it or not. We had Deputy Dillon following up his declaration on agricultural policy by an equally intelligent declaration on industrial policy. There are two kinds of industry, the desirable and the undesirable.

Hear, hear!

The desirable, according to Deputy Dillon, are those which we have not got, and the undesirable are those which we have. I ask Deputy Dillon to think back over the past five years. There neve was brought to this House during that period a single proposal for the establishment, encouragement or protection of industry which the Deputy did not vote against. There might be one or two minor exceptions during which he was occupied with some other matter and forgot to challenge a division. But every single one of the protective measures imposed or devised for the assistance of industry was brought into operation against his vehement opposition. Therefore, according to this new policy of his we must conclude that not one single industry established during that period is regarded by him as a desirable industry. He mentioned the boot and the shoe industry. He is beginning to think that the boot and the shoe industry has something to recommend it.

When I brought forward a new proposal here to increase the duty on boots and shoes it met with the most vehement opposition from the Deputy and his Party. I do not think there was any single duty that I was responsible for recommending to the House that was as strongly opposed as that duty in relation to boots and shoes. I was told that I was attempting the impossible, and that the class of boots and shoes which we required for our people could not, under any circumstances, be made here: that this duty was going to be merely a burden on the people which they would have to bear, because it was technically and physically impossible for our people to make these goods here. The records of the Dáil are there. Deputy Dillon has now discovered that he was wrong. The industry which in 1932 was producing less than 10 per cent. of our requirements is now producing 100 per cent., and producing them well. The Deputy says that we should stop there; that we should make the uppers of the boots and shoes and go no further, and buy the leather and other fittings wherever we can. I do not propose to follow his policy. If it is possible for us to make boots and shoes satisfactorily in this country, so also can we make here the component parts for boots and shoes. We are making a large part of the leather going into the boots and shoes which are being manufactured here. We are making the whole of our requirements in sole leather, and it is being sold here at present at a lower price than English leather is being sold in England. The Deputy may not believe that, but it is true. We will in due course make the whole of the upper leathers that we require. We are making some at present, and there will be a further development in the industry. I hope that before long the whole of our requirements in upper leathers will be made here. There is no reason either why we should not make here shoe puffs, stiffeners, wooden heels and all the rest about which the Deputy was sarcastic. In Belturbet, a Border town which was very badly hit by Partition, there is a factory there making these things at present and giving employment to local workers who could not otherwise get employment. The industry is one that is well worth encouraging. It is doubly worth encouraging because it happens to be located in a place like that. If Deputy Dillon has any doubts on that subject I advise him to discuss it with the members of his own Party, who know something about the circumstances.

Deputy Dillon told us that the goodwill of the public was of much more importance to our industries than any tariff. That is quite true, but what has the Deputy ever done to get the goodwill of the public for our industries? Have not the whole of his activities, and the activities of the members of his Party, been concentrated on arousing the ill-will of the public against our industries? Let him go back and read his own speeches. I know that would be a very tiring thing to do, but I ask him to do it, and to read them in relation to the statement that I have made. Everything that he has done, his whole atti tude and his public activities, have been directed towards creating ill-will for industry and not goodwill.

We had established industries in this country long before the name of Lemas was ever heard of.

There were very many important industries in this country long before the name of Lemass was heard of. There were also very many important industries here before I came into the House, but they had disappeared before I became Minister for Industry and Commerce, and it has been my job to revive some of them.

I beg leave to doubt that.

I do not care whether the Deputy believes it or not. I am concerned with this, that if the Deputy's declaration was not mere hot air, as I suspect, the the opinions that originated from his own Party were surprising. It is worth having them. They are now going to cooperate with us in promoting an atmosphere of goodwill for our industries. That is something that is being gained, but it is going to mean that they will have to swallow a lot of what they said in the past. It may be that we have prevented the workingman from washing his under-shirt or that it may be difficult for the housewife to get flannelette. Deputy Dillon said that he, as a trader, sold to a customer flannelette which he knew was only worth 8d. I was interested in the phraseology which the Deputy used. He did not say flannelete which we could have bought in Japan for 8d. What is his standard of worth? He said, of course, that the ideal condition of affairs would be free trade throughout the world. Taking that and his other assertions, it is quite clear that his opinion is that the worth of any article is the lowest price at which it can be bought from any country. I do not accept that at all.

I think there is another standard of worth that we should accept. It is quite true that most of the things that we produce here could be bought somewhere else at a lower price than we can make them. That is true not merely of our industrial products but also of our agricultural products. There is not one of our agricultural products that we could not import cheaper from some other country than we can produce it. It we allow that standard to be our guide and operate upon the theory which Deputy Dillon has put forward, I hold there is not a single thing that we would produce here. We would then concentrate on spending our available resources in buying cheap products elsewhere and keep ourselves in idleness consuming those products. I do not know that we would do when our resources came to a end. There is I submit, a criterion that can be applied, another standard which we can accept, and that is production here in an efficient manner by our own manufacturers with the materials that we have available and with our own labour well paid. I do not deny that there is in Irish industry a certain amount of ineficienc due to inexperience that has yet to be eliminated. I do not deny that many of our industrial workers have not yet reached the degree of proficiency which industrial workers in other countries have acquired. There are probably difficulties arising from the fact that our market is limited, and that some of our producing units are, therefore, smaller than the producing units in other countries, and that all this operates to keep cots higher here than they would be in countries where the general circumstances were much the same. We have got to allow for these things.

The Trade Agreement which we have made permits full allowance being made for them, but even as regards our own internal policy, in the fixation of prices and in connection with the attitude which we adopt to industry, whether we criticise or praise, we must make allowance for these things. I submit that it is those factors, and those only, that we should consider, and not the price at which you can get flannelette, cotton shirts or anything else from Japan.

The buying of these products of Japan will not benefit our people. The buying of the same products of home manufacture, even at a higher price is a benefit. It keeps our money at home, it provides employment for our people, it limits our imports and tends, generally, to promote the well-being and prosperity of our people.

Furthermore. I disagree with the contention of Deputy Dillon that our only natural resources is arable land. It is true that arable land is our main natural resources, but we have other resources. I do not want to enumerate them now. What I do want to prevent is a false conclusion being drawn from the statement that our principal resources is arable land. That need not mean that our only economic activities should be those based on the utilisation of that land. The great industries of other countries were not built up, in many cases, on natural resources. The cotton industry in England, the machinery and metal-working industries of Germany, and many other industries I could mention which have achieved world-wide importance, were not begun because of any special advantage existing in the districts in which they are located or any special processes possessed by these countries.

Have you any sense of observation?

I do not want to discuss matters of sense with the Deputy. These industries were made possible, not because of the existence of natural resources, but because of business ability and technical skill on the part of the people of these countries. If you look at our own experience, you will find that articles which are known by place-names have had these names spread all over the world-Balbriggan hosiery, Limerick lace and Limerick hams, for example—although in no single case were there any special natural advantages which made the production of these articles more practicable here than elsewhere. In each case, it was due to the skill of individuals that these industries acquired their pre-eminence, and our new industries should acquire equal pre-eminence if they are directed with equal skill in the future.

I merely express these views because it is desirable that the Party opposite should get a lead. I realise that they are in a difficulty in getting a new policy and that they are floundering about. I should like that they would be worth criticism. Up to the present, they have not had such a policy. I may say that any assistance that we can give them in the future in that connection will be gladly given.

We have had a very amusing speech from the Minister for Industry and Commerce having regard to his history. He came in here a complete amateur, with a very ready tongue but no knowledge whatever of any question of public importance, no experience of administration and no idea of what was even meant by a public or national policy. He entered this House about 11 years ago. He says that our policy has now gone. It took us six years to impress on the gentlemen opposite that that was the policy they should adopt. He tells us that the Agreement will not affect prices and, in a subsequent part of his speech, he says that he expects the Agreement will be of advantage. He tells us that the Agreement could not have been signed a moment sooner than it was and he knows that that is untrue. He deals with a subject about which he knows nothing whatever— agriculture- and about which he could not be expected to know anything. He asks what is the reason for our change of policy in 1938 as contrasted with our policy in 1928. The answer is quite simple. The value of our exports has fallen in that period by well over £20,000,000. If the Minister looks at the return issued by his own Department—he is only nominally responsible for it in so far as it is under his control; he had nothing to do with the initiation of the publication of statistics and never knew anything about them until he came in here—he will find of page 4 of Ireland's Trade Statistics for March, 1938, what I have told him. He will find that our exports in the year 1928 amounted to £43,000,000, while for 1937-38 they amounted to about £21,000,000. There is a very considerable difference between those figures. Further, if he looks at the records of the House, he will find that, in 1931, when the previous Government gave an advance of £750,000 in addition to the agricultural grant of the same amount as the previous year, his Party contended that nothing less than £1,000,000 would be sufficient. I think that they even had a motion about that time— in 1931—that £1,000,000 additional should be provided for the relief of rates on agricultural land.

The Minister for Finance is evidently more national than the Minister for Industry and Commerce because he heads his publication "Eire" instead of "Ireland". The statement of the Minister for Finance has just been issued to us and, on Table V, we find that, in 1931, there was a supplementary agricultural grant of £78,022 more than the Government is providing this year. In other words, £78,000 less is being provided this year than was provided in the year 1931-32. I take it that that indicates that the opinion of the Ministry is that agriculture is in a more prosperous position to-day than it was then. Again, I consult the record of exports and I find that our total exports in 1937-38 were £21,000,000 as against £45,000,000 in 1928-29. There is a very good reason now for derating. I wonder if the Minister has ever taken the trouble to inquire in any of those country districts which he enters from any of the farmers whether they are better off to-day than they were in 1928. I am quite sure that the Minister thought in 1928 that derating should have been pressed upon the Government because anything was good enough to use against the Government at that time-Partition or the annuities or any other question. Each of these matters was useful then and that was the policy of the Fianna Fáil Party at that time. How has it been put into operation? By a reduction in the amount given for relief of rates on agricultural land. Would the Minister look up the payment of rates on the 31st March, last, and compare it with the payment of rates on the 31st March, 1928, and see whether there is not much more outstanding in rates to-day than there was then. Will the Minister look up the returns for the last few years and see how these smaller annuities have been paid by the farmers-whether they are as well able to pay or not-and not allow himself to be misdirected by such allegations as that the Blueshirt organisation was against the payment of rates. Let him look up the returns for those counties in which his Party was strongest—I shall give him the names of the counties if he wishes—and see whether the annuities were paid as well there during the past few years as they were in 1927-28. Let him further consider whether it would not be advisable—and I think he will get the information because in a matter of that sort one need not go into names —to go to the bank directors and inquire from them whether, from their knowledge and their examination of the accounts in their possession, those engaged in the agricultural industry have had to withdraw during the last few years what moneys they had to their credit in the year 1928.

If that does not make a case for consideration in connection with the agricultural industry, I do not know what does. Let him further look up his own publication for March, the Trade Journal, to which he often refers, and let him compare the stocks in this country in 1937 with those in 1934. Let him ignore the centre one, which is misleading. He might not understand the difference between the two. I am adopting his line now. As St. Paul says: “I do not speak so wisely in this.” June is not a favourable month to compare with February, but January in one case is given with January in the other. He will find that there is a reduction inour agricultural stocks during these three or four years of about 5 per cent. I am prepared to accept what the Minister said—that once these negotiations started, business was interfered with— but, mind you, there was not so much stock to seel from the farmers of this country in January of that year as in January three or four years before, so that that explanation will not hold water.

I wonder, having regard to all the circumstances, whether it was worth while subordinating our fiscal autonomy and paying £10,000,000 if, what the Minister says, that it would not raise the price in any way, is true. Does he not know quite well that while there were periods during those last six years in which there was not such a difference between the price here and the price in England, there were other periods in which prices here were catastrophic compared with those in Great Britain. I saw, on one occasion, some of the finest cattle that could be exhibited anywhere in the wide world on a farm in County Dublin with one of the biggest agriculturists and bloodstock producers this country has known. He told me what he had been offered for them—17/6 a cwt. for a 12 cwt. animal. That represents £10 10s. What was that animal selling for in England? It was selling for £24. What would it cost to send it across any pay other expenses in connection with it? Normally, if it had not been the economic war, £2 would cover the expenses and this man was offered £10 10s. for what sold in England for £22.

What was the British import duty on it?

Six pounds, and at that time there was a bounty here of £1 5s., that it cost £4 15s. We can add that to the £10 10s. and you have £15 5s.

Would the Deputy proceed to reconcile the difference between the £24 and the £15?

I will. I was not going to do it, but I will do it now, for the benefit of the Minister. There was another gentleman who is a national but not a native, who held what is called a licence. Does the Minister know what they were worth at one period? From £2 to £7.

At this particular period?

I am speaking about the peak period. What I am dealing with is the hidden losses of which the Government probably know nothing, and what I want to get into their heads, if it is possible, is that this industry lost much more than appears on mere returns. When I say that this man—and he was an honourable man —was offered 10 guineas for an animal for which he should normally have got £22, I say that he paid more than £6 duty.

In fact, what the Deputy has now admitted is that he was offered that for a beast which could not be sold in Great Britain.

It could, along with the licence. The licence was worth £7, and, strangely enough, that man and all his prececessors in title got £10 10s. for an animal that was three years old, and this national, but not a native, got £7 for his trouble in producing the licence, delivering the animal in England and selling it.

The Deputy might help me a little further. Was that in the year 1934?

And that is the year in which there was this hold-up and excessive stocks in this country, and the Deputy has asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce to compare that with 1937.

That was the year in which New Zealand sent 300,000 cwts. of frozen beef in excess of her Ottawa agreement. In 1935 she sent 600,000 cwts.

But not of live stock.

Of dead meat, 6 cwt. of which would be equivalent to a 10 cwt. beast. That was equivalent to 50,000 animals and 100,000 in the following year. The Minister says that we have no policy. When I consider their policy for the last six years, I wonder whether or not their supporters are as insane as themselves—even to the extent of the 600,000. If the Minister has that many supporters in the country, they ought to be medically examined, too.

If you ask where this money is to come from, I ask you again to look up you own publications. Last year saw the highest expenditure this State has known in its sixteen years of existence. I am ignoring for the moment the disturbed times which are not comparable here. We expended, according to the Minister, £27,760,000, and that was the highest yet. Why do we add £2,500,000 to that for our expenses for this year? Included in that £27,000,000 is a sum of £1,900,000 for bounties. Adding these two together, we find a sum of over £4,000,000. Is it not possible for the Government to live within what they spent last year? Can they not save £1,000,000 out of that £4,000,000 and take the word of the Minister for Industry and Commerce for it that £1,000,000 will defray the cost of derating? Obviously, if we have made an agreement with Great Britain to sell more agricultural produce, we must have in mind a profitable sale. If it is profitable to sell £20,000,000, it ought to be profitable to sell £30,000,000. Our goods are better than those from New Zealand, Canada or Australia, and we are on the same level. They ought to command at least as high, if not a higher, price, and there is money in it. Surely it ought to be to the interest of the Government to sell more and more goods there.

We did it before. Why should we not do it now? Why should we not endeavour to expand our agricultural output and why should we not, as Deputy Dillon has advised, take off these hindrances against the development of our agricultural industry? If you find it necessary to help those who are producing cereals, pay them for it, but do not insist on others using an admixture which they say is not suitable. Give a man a bounty in respect of his acreage, but do not insist on the agriculturist feeding something to animals which he, with greater experience than the Government, does not think advisable. I remember that during the last couple of years, the individual I have spoken of has a very well-furnished animal and he wanted, on one occasion, a cwt. of some special diet for that yearling. He would not be allowed to import it because it would interfere with the sale of oats or something of the sort. Had that animal been able to get that special diet, it would have been able to consume more oats in a much shorter time. Those interferences with the agricultural industry are holding up output and the concern of the Government ought to be to increase it—to increase its quantity and to improve its quality, because it is capable of being improved.

I move to report progress.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again on Wednesday.
The Dáil adjourned at 2 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 18th May, 1938.