I would like to say a few words on this Finance Bill. As representing a county which has been remarkable for the fact that it occupied the premier position as a rate-paying county, I think it is only right to say that this Finance Bill, which means the raising of a sum of £45,000,000, will impose a very serious burden on a small country like this. My memory goes back to the days when the British were ruling, when it used to be said that we were robbed as we had to meet an annual bill of £11,000,000. After all, this must be a great little country to be in a position to make up this £45,000,000. Some people in it must be making money. I do not at all agree with some of the doleful speeches that have been delivered. One would think there was no money in the country. There must be some money in it when the Minister proposes to raise £45,000,000. The Minister's Budget statement was a calm and dispassionate one, but when he had finished I came to the conclusion that his Budget statement was of the end-of-the-tether type. Everyone knows what that means: "Thus far you can go and no farther." I think the Minister recognised the fact that, notwithstanding all that has been said in the past, we can go no farther in the way of raising money. We have reached the end of our resources.
There was one statement in his Budget speech to which I paid particular attention, and that was his reference to the tendency on the part of some people to look to the Government for everything. If my memory serves me right, it is about 12 years since I alluded to that, and the difference between the Minister and myself is that I am still a humble backbencher, whereas he is the Minister for Finance. In reality it means that it took the Minister 12 years to find out what a humble Deputy like myself found out at that time. This country cannot succeed and will not succeed if the people look to the Government for everything. If anybody is responsible for that position, it is the members of the Fianna Fáil Party. I was a humble member of this House, more or less an independent member, when the swan song of that Party was that the then Cumann na nGaedheal Government should do this, that and everything else for the people. That Government was actually defeated because they did not do it.
The Fianna Fáil Government got into office on the assumption that they would solve the unemployment problem. They have not solved it. They were foolish enough to say that they could. I was listening to the Taoiseach here when he stated that it was the easiest thing in the world to solve the unemployment problem. I remember telling him then that he would be wiser in a few years. No Government can solve the unemployment problem. The sooner we recognise that the better. The great United States have not solved it. Great Britain has not solved it. But a Government could go a far way to solve it by passing useful and wise legislation which will help private enterprise to solve the problem. That is the only way it can be solved. Now after ten years, after the expenditure of between £30,000,000 and £40,000,000 over and above what Cumann na nGaedheal spent in order to solve that problem, we are worse off than when we started. There never was so much unemployment as there is at present.
It is amusing to hear Deputies on all sides of the House deploring the fact that 150,000 of our people have gone to England. I do not deplore that. I am delighted that they were in a position to go and that there was work for them. I would go there myself tomorrow if I were idle. The only thing I have to complain of is that the Government are preventing men from going there. There are idle men with six, seven, eight or nine children who cannot get across to England because of the fact, forsooth, that they are kept here to save this country. Kept here for what? To see their wives and children starving.
It is hypocritical to complain about people going to England. I say it is a safety valve for this country. It has been the salvation of this country. At the present time, there is a sum of almost £5,000,000 a year coming back to this country from these people. If people disagree with what I am saying, let them come out at the next general election when I will be prepared to fight them on that issue and we will see what way the votes will go.
The sooner we recognise that we have failed in regard to the solution of the unemployment question and that the more any Government tries to solve it, the more unemployment is increased, the better. That is something which cannot be denied in the light of the experience of the past ten years. The Taoiseach, being an idealist, never knew what it was to go through life as some of us went through life, but those of us who had to face the cold winds of winter and the blazing sun of summer know the difference, know that it is a big job, and that it can be solved only by the co-operation of all Parties and all people. Labour cannot do it; Fianna Fáil cannot do it; and Fine Gael cannot do it; and there is no use in saying that all we have to do is to pass an Act of Parliament and, as if by magic, the unemployment question will be solved. It cannot be solved in that way and that has been shown once and for all by the experience of the past ten years.
There was, as I say, nothing cheery in the Minister's Budget statement. I am one of those who sympathise with the Minister in his position. He is not to be blamed up to a point, except in so far as he helped to create that position for himself, but if I wanted to criticise the Budget, I could do so. I could, for instance, say that the Minister has done nothing to meet the increased cost of living, so far as old age pensioners are concerned. The old age pensioner to-day has the same 10/-as he had 20 or 25 years ago, but for that 10/- to-day he will get only about 6/- value.
There was a great uproar when the Cumann na nGaedheal Government reduced the old age pension by 1/-. That reduction was due, to a very large extent, to some of the work carried on by the Fianna Fáil Deputies when they were out on the hills destroying the country, but the people could get 9/- worth of value then, while to-day they get barely 6/- worth. There is nothing in the Budget to help these people. I mix with that class of people, as I mix with all classes of workers, and I know the sacrifices they are making. People talk about a shortage of butter but I know that there are thousands of people who are on a quota in respect of butter, not for one day but for 365 days of the year, as one of the Princes of our Church stated recently.
Again, I could criticise the Budget from the point of view that the incomes of thousands of decent men who were used to tolerably constant work, especially in the building trade, due to the shortage of materials and the fact that no buildings are being erected, have been reduced from an average of £4 per week to 15/- a week dole, plus 5/- for a wife and a few shillings for each child. These men are suffering at present. They are not complaining because they have the old tradition. They never knew what it was to complain and never knew what the St. Vincent de Paul Society was, what the board of health was, or what the dole was. These are the real citizens who built up this nation in the years gone by. And what recompense are they getting to-day? Nothing. They cannot buy even the necessaries of life because they have not got the money.
I could criticise the Fianna Fáil Government from the point of view that, notwithstanding all the boasts of the past ten years, in a purely agricultural country, we have not got to-day sufficient butter, bacon and other commodities which go to make up the family budget. I do not blame the Government for that. I know that they are in a tight corner. I know that the shortage of butter is due to the fact that we have not got the feeding stuffs we had formerly.
I know that the shortage of wheat and flour is due to the fact that we have not got the fertilisers for our wheat growing. We were told by the Fianna Fáil Party that this country could grow anything. It has been proved now that it cannot. I know that the shortage of bacon is due to the fact that feeding stuffs are short—the imported Indian meal and other commodities which went to fatten pigs. We have not got those to-day, and, no matter what price we pay, we cannot get them.
I am not a farmer, but I talk with farmers. I have common sense and I understand the position. The wheat scheme—the pet scheme of Fianna Fáil —has been a failure. If the yield from wheat had been on a pro rata basis with the number of acres, we should have any amount of flour and a considerable quantity of offals for feeding purposes. We have not got an average of one ton to the acre. I believe there are eight barrels to the ton, and if we had 600,000 acres of wheat, we should have had 600,000 tons, but we were short by over 100,000 tons. Notwithstanding the fact that the Minister sent out experts to gather statistics, he had to admit that he was short in his calculation by 90,000 to 100,000 tons. That is very serious, and especially at a time like this. What is necessary is that we should more or less humiliate ourselves, humble ourselves and admit that we were foolish, that we acted like children during the past ten years. We thought we were the greatest people in the world when in fact we were no better or no worse than any other people.
I do not agree with Deputy Cogan when he talks about farmers being able to do this and that. They can, and no man knows better than Deputy Cogan that the farmers know how to do their business. They are doing very well at present, notwithstanding all the difficulties they have to contend with. There is no use in saying that it is the fault of this or the previous Government. It is due to the fact that we were too proud, that we thought we could ignore the outside world, and build a wall around the country and live without Great Britain, without America, and without other countries. We have found to our cost that we cannot. It is 25 years since I heard a southern bishop declare that we could not support ourselves for one month without getting supplies from other countries. He was right, and it has been proved up to the hilt now.
Therefore, I say particularly to the members of the Government that they have a sacred duty to the people to perform. If and when this election comes, go out and tell the people that you deceived them. Express sorrow for it and you will be forgiven. You will get more votes if you do that, but if you go out and tell them there is no alternative Government to this, the people will not listen to you.
That is your only hope. Tell them that you deceived them in regard to the solution of unemployment, that you were only fooling and that the Taoiseach did not know what he was talking about when he said that it was the easiest thing in the world to solve the unemployment problem. He stated in my hearing that he saw no reason why this country should not support a population of 9,000,000, as it did some 70 or 100 years ago. Of course, being the idealist he is, he never thought for a moment to portray to the House the conditions under which the 9,000,000 lived. That would not be popular, but it was the easiest thing in the world to say that the country could support 9,000,000, as he said it was simple to solve the problem of unemployment. It has not been solved and will not be solved, and let no Deputy, in the interests of the country, tell the people at the general election that it can be solved.
I will give the Government a tip which I have used in every election I ever fought. I always told the people: "I am not going to solve the unemployment question because I know it cannot be solved." I made that my chief election plank and, in the interests of the country, the Government are bound to do the same. Do not tell the people that you are going to make this country a Paradise on earth. We are doing very well considering the difficulties which we are facing and we can more or less congratulate ourselves. But remember this, that there are many of our people suffering privations at the present time and it is a great tribute to them that they are suffering those privations so complacently and that they are not more vocal in their denunciations of the factors that brought about that position. Anybody who mixes with the people is aware of the poverty and suffering that exist in many homes. I do not want to make things worse than they are. I am merely indicating the condition of many thousands of decent people. They are suffering from a shortage of the essentials that go to build up a sound manhood and womanhood.
Any criticisms I make here are offered more in sorrow than in anger. I warn the Government that they will have to mend their ways. They will have to recognise the fact that this is a small country which possesses certain resources beyond which they cannot go. Being an island, we cannot extend our territory by as much as what would sod a lark. We have 12,000,000 acres of arable land, together with some millions of acres of hill, dale, mountain and bog. That represents the wealth of this country—that 12,000,000 acres of arable land. We can do as much in the agricultural line as we care to, but the fact remains that, owing to the present emergency, we are in the position that we are unable to import sufficient raw materials to keep our factories going and we have to depend exclusively on the produce of the 12,000,000 acres. We know how little we thought of that in the years of the economic war.
The wealth of this country is the land; it always has been so and it will continue to remain the wealth of the country, and it is the duty of this Government and of future Governments to do all they possibly can to ensure that the agricultural industry will be kept on its feet. The only way to do that is to keep in touch with the market which, as experience has taught us, is the only market we can deal in with advantage to ourselves. Notwithstanding all that has been said about that market, it will always remain, thank God, to absorb the extra agricultural produce that we can afford to export after meeting the needs of our own people.
I could say a good deal more in relation to the shortages that have been imposed upon our people, upon our farming community in particular, especially those small farmers who are deprived of domestic lighting and other amenities, and who find it very difficult to carry on. I know of their difficulties and I know to what an extent they have to depend on imported articles.
At the moment we are budgeting for £45,000,000, of which amount we will have to borrow £3,500,000. The Minister's statement, in essence, was a review of the year's trading, something symbolic of what the chairman of a company would have to say at the end of the financial year, with this difference, that most chairmen of companies could point to a little credit balance, while the Minister is in the position that he will have to borrow £3,500,000. We must face the future with hope and confidence. I suppose there is no use in always lamenting. Our people are shouldering their responsibilities fairly well. They are putting up with sacrifices in a manly way and, if we can carry on as we have been doing for the past few years, until this terrible emergency has passed, we may be able to find ourselves in a position when, through the work of the people—not through legislation, remember—the country will survive and make good.