Finance Bill, 1943—Second Stage.

Tairgim go ndéantar an Bille do léigheamh don dara huair.

Mar is léir ón Teideal is Bille é seo chun diúitéthe áirithe ioncuim dúithche d'éileamh agus do ghearradh, chun an dlí bhaineas le custuim agus ioncum dúithche (maraon le mál) do leasú, agus chun tuilleadh forálacha i dtaobh airgeadais do dhéanamh. Bhí an chuid is mó dá bhfuil ann ar eolas ag na Teachtaí sara bhfuaireadar an Bille seo mar isé cuspóir an Bhille éifeacht do thabhairt, in aghaidh na bliana airgeadais ar fad, do rúin le n-ar ghlac an Dáil tar éis na Cáinfhaisnéise seachtain agus an lá indiu. Os rud é nár gearradh aon chánacha nua, gur fiú tracht ortha, le Cáinfhaisnéis na bliana so ní déantar leis an mBille seo ach na cánacha atá ann cheana do bhuanú arís.

O thaobh lucht íoctha cánach díreach de, isé cuid is tabhachtaighe den Bhille an chuid sin de a bhaineann le Cáin Bhrabúis Chorpráide agus níl annsan féin ach maolú i gcásanna áirithe mar atá leagtha amach in alt a trí déag den Bhille agus bhéarfad tuairisg níos sia ortha san ar ball.

The main purpose of this Bill is to give continuing effect to the taxes and duties embodied in the Financial Resolutions which have been passed by Dáil Eireann following the Budget, and which, as Deputies are aware, have statutory effect for only a limited period under the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, 1927. As nearly all the important provisions of this Bill have either been the subject of Financial Resolutions or have been referred to in my Budget speech, it is, I think, hardly necessary for me to give a very detailed analysis of the Bill at this stage. There is very little that could be called new. There was no new tax and very little that could be called alteration of tax. There were one or two slight alterations that were referred to in the Budget statement, and which we propose to legalise in this Money Bill. Therefore, perhaps the House will be satisfied if I briefly refer to the various sections of the Finance Bill as introduced.

Section 1 is the customary "charging" section, providing for the imposition of income-tax, surtax, and excess surtax, and for the continuance in force of existing enactments relating to these duties. Section 2 provides that the relief from external income-tax given by Section 3 of the Finance Act, 1941, shall not have the effect of reducing the aggregate net tax (external and Irish) payable on the foreign income involved below the amount of Irish tax which would have been payable thereon if the income in question had arisen in Éire. Section 3 deals with machinery or plant temporarily out of use owing to circumstances attributable to the emergency. Section 4 enables certain concerns whose taxed income forms part of their trading receipts to obtain similar relief for losses by reference to untaxed income as is afforded to the ordinary trader. Section 5 deals with the notice to be sent to the inspector of taxes when a change occurs in a partnership. Section 6 extends exemption from tax in favour of income arising from the National Health Insurance Funds to Cumann an Arachais Náisiúnta ar Shláinte. Exemptions that used to apply to the different approved societies under national health are now being made to apply to the new organisation that took over all the approved societies.

Section 7 provides that the provisions of the Income Tax Acts whereby interest on certificates of charge issued by the Agricultural Credit Corporation, Limited, under the Agricultural Credit Act, 1927, is paid without deduction of tax. Section 8 is complementary to Section 29 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1943, which gives power to the Revenue Commissioners to grant to any air transport concern a licence for the sale of intoxicating liquor on an aircraft whilst in flight. The same idea is conveyed in Section 9 with regard to the sale of tobacco on an aircraft.

Section 10 is introduced in order to withdraw an exemption from entertainment duty from entertainments which hitherto have been exempted unconditionally on the ground that they were promoted for partly educational purposes.

Section 11 confers statutory power on the Revenue Commissioners to refund or remit duty, at their discretion, in certain cases in which it has hitherto been found desirable to make such repayment or remission extra-statutorily on the ground of equity.

Section 12 is intended to prevent the evasion of corporation profits tax liability by a company which, as the law stands, could escape the tax by securing that its constitution precludes the distribution of profits amongst its members.

Section 13, which affects the computation of excess profits arising on or after 1st January, 1943, provides for the increase in the substituted standard and in the deduction from chargeable profits in respect of new capital as announced in the Budget speech.

Section 14 deals with stamp duty procedure in connection with certain conveyances and transfers made for a nominal consideration and liable to a fixed stamp duty of 10/-.

Section 15 gives exemption from stamp duty in respect of certificates of indebtedness which are documents showing the amount due by the State to persons from whom the State has borrowed money or securities under statutory powers.

Section 16 makes it clear that exemption from stamp duty in respect of certificates of charge issued under the Agricultural Credit Act, 1927, extends to certificates of charge issued under the Agricultural Credit Act, 1929.

Section 17 provides for appropriate accounting arrangements in the situation created by the transfer, under Section 60 of the Central Bank Act, of a sum of £300,000 to the Savings Certificates (Interest Charge Equalisation) Fund.

Section 18 provides that where a person is committed to prison by a court of competent jurisdiction for non-payment of revenue, taxes or duties, the Revenue Commissioners must order his release after a period of six months from the date of his committal whether or not the moneys in question have been paid.

Section 19 makes provision for the transfer to the Exchequer from the Road Fund of the sum of £100,000. Section 20 is the customary "care and management" provision. Section 21 is the usual section relating to the Short Title, construction and commencement of the Bill.

Nuair a bhí an rún generálta fé dhíospóireacht dubhairt an tAire ná raibh caoi aige ar fhreagra a thabhairt ar a lán ceisteanna agus dubhairt sé go gcuirfeadh sé síos ortha nuair a bheadh an Bille san os ár gcóir, nuair a bheadh caoi aige air. Nach anois ba cheart an chaoi a bheith ag an Aire chun chur sios ortha san?

Cheapas fhéin go mb'fhearr gach aon cheist do fhreagairt nuair a bheadh an Coiste ar siúl.

Ach, féach col. 2509, Díospóireachtaí Páirliminte, 5adh Mí na Bealtaine. Dubhairt an tAire:—

"I have not time to develop all the arguments that I should like to develop in reply to a number of speeches that were made to-day and yesterday, but as we will have the Finance Bill next week, please God, I may have an opportunity to do so."

Tá an chaoi anois ag an Aire.

Ní raibh fhios agam gurb é sin a bhí in aigne an Teachta. Beidh cúpla seans againn ar an gCoiste, agus nuair a bheidh deireadh leis an díospóireacht b'fhéidir go mbeadh go leor le rá.

Conus a fhéadfaí, ar an gCoiste, freagra a thabhairt ar cheisteanna a bhí á bplé an seisiún so ghaibh tharainn?

It will not be permissible on Committee Stage to debate general financial policy.

That is what I am trying to tell him.

However the Second Stage has not yet concluded.

The Minister, when concluding on the Financial Resolution on the 6th May, made the statement that I have already referred to: that he had not time to develop all the arguments which he wished to develop in respect of certain things when the General Resolution was being discussed, adding that when the Finance Bill was before the House he would do so. In view of the importance of the matter that we are discussing, I think the Minister would have been well advised if he had pursued the course that he alleged the other night he intended to pursue, because if Deputies were able to follow the Minister again on the Finance Bill on the things that he had to say, and if he were able to reply to them, the House might be in a very much more informed position than it is otherwise likely to be. The Minister, in his reply on the General Resolution, did more, I suggest, to befog the situation than to make it clear. That was certainly so when he was dealing with some of the matters that were raised on it. I think that when we consider the very serious circumstances we are dealing with and the importance of the work that we are discussing here: that is the raising of this enormous amount of money, the position of the national income and the general social and economic circumstances of the country, we ought to be as clear as we possibly can be about every matter that is of importance.

The Minister, in his speech on the Budget, showed that he understood the important relation there is between the amount of our taxation and of our national income. I do not think we are very clear as to the size of our national income. When we speak of it we are not very clear in what terms we do speak of it. It is one of the things that we will have to become effectively statistically informed about, particularly in the difficult and dangerous circumstances in which we are. The employment that we have in the country bears a very important relation to our national income. In so far as we have to maintain the fabric of government, the cost of doing so must come out of employment. When the Minister deals with the question of employment in the spirit in which he did when replying to Deputy Cosgrave the other night, then I suggest he degrades his office. He makes light of Parliament as an institution here, and injures the prestige of Parliament in the eyes of the whole country. Deputy Cosgrave had referred to the position of employment in the country, and to the natural increase in employment which this country was capable of having, and which it was necessary to have, if anything like decent social conditions were to be maintained or developed. He indicated that, in the period 1926 to 1931, inclusive, there had been an annual increase in the volume of employment in the country that was equivalent to 11,400 persons in full-time employment, that in the period from 1931 to 1939—that is before the war—the policy of the present Government instead of maintaining an annual normal increase in the volume of employment here had resulted in reducing it, so that over the years 1931 to 1939 the average increase in the volume of new employment was only the equivalent of 8,594 persons in full-time employment every year, and that in fact the general situation had been reduced to this: that by 1937 employment in the country had been brought to a standstill, that there were only 1,000 persons added in 1938, and 1,000 added in 1939, in spite of the fact that, over the whole of the year of 1938, 19,204 persons were kept working on relief works, and in the year 1939, 18,118. So that if relief works had not been maintained to that extent, the volume of employment in the country would have decreased. The Minister, in reply to that, said:—

"Deputy Cosgrave chose to select certain years that suited his argument and I am going to select certain years that suit my argument, and I think I am entitled to do so. I find that, at the 31st December, 1931, the number of persons insured under the National Health Insurance Act was 436,249. At the 31st December, 1939—just after the outbreak of war and before the economic situation here was very deeply affected—the number of insured had increased to 599,592. In the eight-year period, from 1931 to 1939, there was an increase of 163,343 in the number of those placed in insurable employment."

If the Minister really thinks that, then it is a very great reflection on him. If he does not think it a sound argument he should not have made it. Deputy Cosgrave did not select particular years. He took the years in respect of which information is made available by the Department of Industry and Commerce and made his argument, framed officially by the Department of Industry and Commerce, on the trend of employment. From the first year that is published here in the publication,The Trend of Employment and Unemployment in the Saorstát, Document P. 1852, he gave the figures from 1926 to 1939. There are no earlier figures published in that document— perhaps for very good reasons, as the economic circumstances of this country were not normal before that. We may very well take the situation, from an economic point of view, as it presents itself to us from the time that there was no abstentionist Party in this country, when all the Parties elected came into the Dáil and carried on their work from here. At any rate, the years quoted from 1926 are the years made available publicly by the Departmental publications and, if there is any question to be answered with regard to the selection of the years, it is to be answered by the Department of Industry and Commerce. I do not think they need be answerable to anybody, as the years that are taken are natural years and serve completely the purpose that we require. We want to know-the annual increase in the volume of employment, from the time things became fairly normal in 1926 and 1927. We find that stated on page 25 of the publication, as follows:—

"The contribution income of the Unemployment Fund is a surer basis for the calculation of the volume of employment than is the number of persons having unemployment books current."

The same argument is applied to the National Health Insurance Fund, but as the National Health Insurance Fund includes persons who are not included under the Unemployment Insurance Contribution Fund—that is, includes persons employed in agriculture, horticulture and forestry, persons in private domestic service, female professional nurses for the sick, out-workers not employed under contract of service, and certain crews of fishing vessels, the National Health Insurance Fund is, according to this publication, the best index to the volume of employment in the country and to the trend of that employment. That is reiterated on page 13 of the latest publication, for the year 1940, No. P.5433, where paragraph 15 says:

"As pointed out in previous memoranda, the most comprehensive sources of information as to the trend of employment are the incomes of the National Health Insurance Fund and the Unemployment Fund."

In the original document, P.1852, it is stated on page 24, paragraph 32:

"An increase or decrease in the number of insured contributors under the Unemployment Insurance or National Health Insurance Schemes, while affording an indication, does not of itself afford conclusive proof that there was an increase or decrease of employment in the insured occupations."

There is a suggestion in that earlier publication that the number of persons recorded as insured contributors may indicate whether there is an increase or not in employment, but that is in respect of the earlier years. When we come to the years 1938 and 1939, we reach the period when Government Employment Schemes were run in such a way that a man might have to join the National Health Insurance Contribution Scheme or the Unemployment Contribution Scheme because he was employed for three weeks for three days a week out of the whole year. He might have got no previous employment and no subsequent employment. The figures the Minister quoted in respect of the number of persons registered as national health insurance contributors, when compared with previous years, shows how fantastic his suggestion is that the actual number of persons registered as national health insurance contributors is any indication of the volume of employment or the change in the volume from year to year.

If we are to deal effectively as a Parliament with the present situation, and apply our best thought and most effective action to taking such steps as will secure the situation a bit more, make greater progress towards improving our economy and save our people in the immediate future, we ought to be clear as to the internal facts of the situation. One of the outstanding facts is that, before this war began, we had piled taxation on and had reduced the country to such a state that, not only was employment not increasing naturally, but it was only being kept at a static level by maintaining 16,000 or 17,000 people on relief work. Any Minister or any Party that, for any reason, would attempt to obscure that fact and that would develop theories or policies which attempted to ignore that fact, would be simply walking out on to an economic bog.

What Deputy Cosgrave stated was that, when taxation was maintained at a level of £21,250,000 and the expenditure on Central Fund services was £21,500,000, the country was able to add substantially every year to the volume of employment, and that that annual addition was the equivalent of 11,400 persons on full-time employment; but that, by the year 1939, when taxation had been raised to £25,750,000 and the expenditure on Central Fund services to £28,250,000 we had destroyed the natural capacity of the country to add to its employment, and we were only maintaining a fairly static level by keeping a substantial number of persons on relief work. It is on top of that difficult situation that the additional millions are being piled, to keep the necessary services going and to give the necessary relief to the people during the present emergency.

The situation is a difficult and dangerous one, when we take into consideration the extraordinary rise in the cost of living during the past two years, without any attempt at explanation as to why it has risen so enormously here, and with no increase in the same period in Great Britain. There are other dangerous factors which must be taken into consideration, but in the meantime we are presented with a tremendous bill. The Government, so far from assisting us in any way by the presentation of statistics, of opinions or theories, gives no assistance whatever in examining the situation. So far from doing that—as in the case I instanced with regard to the Minister's statement last week— they attempt to obscure the situation for Party purposes of one kind or another. The situation is too serious to proceed in that way, and in the coming years it will be very serious, too.

There are many things which, in my opinion, require to be done, and there are two things necessary, so far as Parliament is concerned. People look to the Budget now, not so much to know whether they personally can bear the impositions that the Budget imposes upon them, the limit to some extent having been reached in that. What they look to it to see is what suggestion there is in the proposals in the Budget and in the policy it is designed to support that employment in the country will be maintained, that they will be able to keep the employment they have, and that they will be able to look forward to employment for their children. Nobody can take the present Budget and examine it and get any kind of a reasonable answer from it to questions like that. Both the taxpayer and Parliament will in future look to the presentation of the Budget in a way which will indicate how much is to be spent on administration pure and simple, what expenditure of capital will be reproductive, what will be nonproductive, and how much is for pure relief. Nobody can take the Minister's Budget statement and say that he has an intelligent appreciation of the situation, that he knows how much is to be spent on relief, or how much of the capital expenditure will be productive. That is one thing which will require to be done.

Another thing which will require to be done is that the period of the year in which the financial business is discussed in this House will have to be changed. The agricultural nature of the constituencies that are mostly represented in the House is such that the work that is being carried on at this particular time of the year prevents a thorough discussion of the financial business here. I feel that the change that can be and must be brought about can be best brought about in circumstances such as the present. I suggest that the period of the next financial year should be the nine months ending on 31st December, 1944. The Budget for that particular period might perhaps be presented in the form in which the present Budget is presented. After that the Budgetary period should be the calendar year and the Budget should be presented in a way that would enable a better realisation to be had of what the economic effect of it would be. The financial discussions then would take place in Parliament in January, February and March and Deputies would have a better opportunity of attending to the business of Parliament and be freer to attend to the ordinary business of the country in the very busy months of the year in the country.

The point which I want to make is that it is degrading to this House and to Ministerial office and destructive of the country to attempt to hide or to distort facts. The Minister is quite within his rights in arguing, if he wishes, that other people are distorting facts. When the Leader of the Opposition produces facts that are taken unvarnished from official publications and when they are stated in these official publications to be the figures that best represent the trend of employment and the volume of employment, then the Minister is both wronging this House and wronging the country when he attempts to suggest that Deputy Cosgrave gave a picture of the situation other than an official picture. When the Minister takes figures that mean nothing at this hour of the day except simply a record of persons and attempts to quote these as an indication of the volume and trend of employment, then he is doing something wrong too.

I have heard from time to time, once at an industrialist dinner, the then Minister for Industry and Commerce, now the Minister for Local Government, dilating before industrialists on the magnificent work they had done in developing Irish industry and quoting for various years the gross industrial output, when the publications of his own Department were warning people that they were to be very careful as to how they were to interpret these figures; that they were duplicated in every possible way; that the volume of flour produced was included as flour; that the volume of flour used to make bread was included as bread; that if there was a tax on certain articles or raw materials coming into the country that were afterwards used in manufacture, the amount of the tax raised on them was included in the gross amount of the industrial production. The situation here is too serious for people in responsible positions to be guilty of practices like that and one of my reasons for asking that the Minister would continue, as he suggested the other night he would continue, to put forward arguments which he had in his mind, arising out of certain things stated on the General Resolution, was that if he has any more arguments of the kind I mentioned, it would be just as well, before they got to full and free life at the end of the discussion, that the House would have a chance of hearing them from the Minister before it concludes the discussion.

This Bill, which proposes to give legal effect to the contents of the Budget, coupled with the information supplied by the Government from time to time in connection with agricultural and industrial production, employment or unemployment, as the case may be, the increase in the cost of living, the acreage of land under tillage, and so on, proves that the Government consists of a body of men who are either politically dishonest or incompetent or who unconsciously misled the people in regard to the meaning of their policy of self-sufficiency. I shall endeavour to the best of my ability to prove that that charge is correctly made against the members of the Government and, in this particular instance, against the Minister for Finance. During the years between 1913-14 and 1943-44, taxation per head of the population has risen from £2 3s. 11d. to £12, as disclosed in the present Budget. In 1913-14, as I said, the figure was £2 3s. 11d. When the taxation per head reached £6 19s. 5d., in 1928-29, the present Head of the Government, the Taoiseach, said that the burden was an intolerable one. In 1938-39, the figure had risen to £10 3s. 0d. and, as I have said, the sum now in round figures is £12 per head of the population. The figures also disclose that out of every £ of national income 4/9 is raised in direct taxation.

We have also the alarming position disclosed by the Government publications, which will have to be admitted by a Government which stands for a policy of self-sufficiency, of a decrease in the value of agricultural production between 1930 and 1938 of no less than £15,000,000. The figure for 1939 was £64,600,000, and in 1938, after a fairly lengthy trial of the Government's policy, it had fallen to £49,600,000. More alarming still, especially in relation to recent shortages, is the disclosure that there was a reduction of 10,250 tons in the quantity of butter produced last year compared with 1938. There was a reduction of 14,000,000 gallons of milk last year compared with 1939.

Coming to the acreage under tillage: in 1921 the acreage under tillage was 1,790,000. During the lifetime of the Cosgrave Government it had fallen, by the end of 1932, to 1,416,000, a decrease during the lifetime of that Government of 374,000 acres. In 1936, the figure was 1,608,000 acres, and, by the end of 1939, it had fallen to 1,480,000 acres; that is, it was back practically to the figure at the end of 1932. After seven years of Fianna Fáil Government, there was an increase in the acreage under tillage of only 64,000 acres.

That is something which I hope the Minister will endeavour to explain when he replies to this debate. Relating the Government's policy of self-sufficiency to facts, we find that the number of people engaged in agriculture in 1934 was 579,409, whereas at the end of 1939 the number was 530,889 —a reduction in the five years of 48,520 people engaged in agricultural occupations. Even at the end of 1942, the number of people so engaged was 541,181, or a decrease of 38,230, compared with 1934. That is an alarming state of affairs which will prove, in my opinion, to be a very serious problem for whomever may be the Government during the coming harvest period. Between the years 1933 and 1938, there has been a reduction in the population of 25,000 persons and when we get the figure of the number of emigrants who have received Government permits to leave the country because they could not get work or livelihoods here last year, the situation will prove to be even more alarming.

I have always maintained close contact with the agricultural community. I am a farmer's son and whether or not I was associated with the political life of the country, I would always maintain that contact. From my information from people engaged in agriculture in my constituency, there will be a very serious situation in the rural areas during the coming harvest period because of lack of suitable agricultural labour, which is having a very serious, and, as I am informed, a disastrous effect upon those engaged in the dairying industry and which accounts to some extent for the present serious financial position of that industry.

Whatever might have happened during the period from 1932 to, say, 1937, when the members of this small group are alleged to have had some responsibility for the activities of the Government, although we were not members of the Government, there can be no question of the Taoiseach or the Minister for Finance trying to "pass the buck" to the Labour Party or to some other group for what has happened since they got their clear majority in 1938. Some excuse will, no doubt, be found and given for what has happened since they got that clear majority, but I should certainly be interested to hear from the Minister the causes of the decline in the value of agricultural production, of the increase in the cost of living, of the decrease in the population, of the decrease in the number of people employed on the land, and of the departure of the large number of people who have been given Government permits to leave this land of ours when they were badly and sadly needed for the purpose of producing more food and fuel. The value of food consumed in 1930 was £52,800,000. In 1938 the figure had dropped to £44,200,000. Can we have an explanation from the Minister of that serious drop?

Notwithstanding all these things, the amount taken in taxes in 1938-39 was £6,300,000 more than the amount collected in the financial year 1931-32. In other words, £6,300,000 more in taxes was collected from the citizens of a State in which the value of agricultural production has gone down to such an alarming extent and in which the purchasing power of the people is less than it was in 1931-32. During 1938-39, the last year for which figures are available, 60 per cent. of the amount raised in taxation was raised by indirect taxation, which, I think it will be admitted by everybody, helps to increase the cost of living, particularly on the poorer sections of the people.

I was reading quite recently some interesting pronouncements in regard to policy by the Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance and other Ministers, with particular relation to their association with the struggle for freedom prior to the adoption of the Treaty. I read, for the purpose of refreshing my memory, a policy pronouncement made in the House by the Taoiseach a week or so after he had been put into office by the members of this small group. I am sure the Minister for Finance will not object if I quote one or two pertinent portions of a pronouncement made by the Head of the Government in this House on the 29th April, 1932. Amongst a number of interesting statements—they are all very interesting to me now—made on that particular occasion, in a speech which lasted about two hours, he said:—

"I never regarded freedom as an end in itself, but if I were asked what statement of Irish policy was most in accord with my views as to what human beings should struggle for, I would stand side by side with James Connolly."

Is there anything in this Finance Bill, or in the Budget that is being given effect to through this Bill, which would justify a repetition of that statement by the Head of the Government or any of his colleagues to-day? I assume that when the Head of the Government made that statement he was quite sincere, but the activities of the Government during most of the intervening period, and particularly since they secured their clear majority, have proved conclusively that it would be nothing more or less than political hypocrisy on the part of anybody connected with the Government, and particularly the Taoiseach, to repeat that statement either here or in the country.

Would the late James Connolly, if he were a member of the House or of the Government, be associated with anyone who would produce a Budget disclosing the state of affairs disclosed by the last Budget? In that Budget it is disclosed that under the financial system adopted by the Government, under the method of taxation adopted in this country, we have no less than 2,500 privileged people paying surtax on incomes totalling £8,000,000, while we have 500,000 other citizens trying to exist on an income of less than £1 per week. I refer to those who have to try to exist on the unemployment insurance benefits which they are legally entitled to draw and towards which they contribute when they are able to procure work; to those receiving unemployment assistance and home assistance— or poor law relief, as it is referred to in some areas—to the sick who have to try to exist on a miserable pittance in the shape of national health insurance benefit; to the widows and orphans, and particularly the widows in rural areas, who have to try to exist on a miserable allowance of 5/- a week; to the old age pensioners who have to try to exist on 10/- a week. We were taunted by the Minister that we were trying to put something across the people which they could not stand for when we endeavoured to persuade the Government to increase the 10/- to 20/-a week in view of the rise in the cost of living and for other reasons.

Would the late James Connolly stand over the system disclosed in this Bill and in the Budget, which proves, through the figures issued by the Government, that 17,000 privileged people in this country own half the nation's property? Would he stand over the concessions given in this Budget, when other people are much better entitled to concessions, if concessions can be made at all? It is disclosed that in the next financial year industrialists, including firms like the Ennis Braid Company that robbed the community and the revenue, are going to get further concessions amounting to £30,000. I accuse them of having robbed the revenue and community because they admitted it and they got away with it. Firms like this firm are going to get the benefit of concessions by way of reduced taxation or increased profits, and that is being tolerated in this Finance Bill.

If the Deputy is referring to a case recently decided in the courts he might let the decision stand without comment.

A decision was given in the courts and the decision was as I have indicated. I thought the Chair was aware of it.

There should not be a re-trial or revision of such cases in this House.

I do not propose to do so. Judgment was given in the courts and I am merely repeating what the judgment was—what the decision was —and I think the Minister for Finance knows of the cases just as well as I and others who are listening to me. It is no harm to remind the Minister for Finance of the outlook on certain matters of the late James Connolly, who is claimed, in speeches made here and elsewhere by Ministers, to have stood for certain things and who made the supreme sacrifice for a certain purpose at a certain period. The late James Connolly, in one of his memorable statements, made this contribution to political history:—

"Let the produce of Irish soil go first to feed the Irish people, and after a sufficient store has been retained to ensure of that being accomplished, let the surplus be exchanged with other countries in return for those manufactured goods Ireland needs but does not herself produce."

Will the Minister for Finance accept that as being sound national policy at the present time? If he does not answer me now, I hope he will do so when he is concluding the debate. If he does accept that as a sound statement of Christian policy, why does he not take steps, through the Finance Bill or the Budget, to make it possible for all our citizens to get a reasonable share of the goods that are produced within the country? What percentage of the citizens of the State, wage-earners in particular, can, in present circumstances, afford to buy bacon, butter or eggs, or can get potatoes in the City of Dublin at the moment at any price?

How can the Minister or the Taoiseach claim to be disciples of the late James Connolly—how can they, as the Taoiseach said, stand side by side with James Connolly in his fight for the political and economic independence of the country? I hope that the Taoiseach or his Ministers will not go out again making these claims until they are able to give some evidence, by their activities here as a Government, to prove that they have sincere views in regard to matters relating to the economic independence of the country.

The Minister for Finance, when he was introducing the Budget, talked about the many millions provided by way of social services. It is quite true there is an increase in the amount raised by taxation and allocated under the heading of social services, but, out of the £10,000,000 provided by the Government, £6,000,000 is for the purpose of maintaining, at a miserable rate, the workless and the destitute people of the State. We suggest means might be adopted to enable these people to be given work and so relieve the taxpayers of this heavy burden which has to be provided for the payment of poor law relief, unemployment assistance or other services of that kind. I do not think it is anything to boast about that, in an agricultural country like ours, we have to raise £6,000,000 from people very badly able to afford it in order to provide miserable pittances for those who cannot get work inside the State.

What would the position be if the Government did not agree to give permits to the thousands of able-bodied men who have gone to another country to get work under war conditions? The position would be much worse than was disclosed in the Budget speech. While we have all these figures, which are very disturbing, in regard to the decrease in the value of our agricultural production, the increase in the cost of living, the decrease in the number of persons employed on the land and so on, we have, as is admitted by the Minister for Finance, the banks in the position that they have increased their deposits by 40 per cent. over the pre-war figures. I am very glad he admitted it—because he denied it to me last year on the Budget speech—that there was a reduction of 10 per cent. now disclosed in the figures given for advances and loans to farmers and other people who are badly in need of them.

I do not think that the arable land of this country can be used to the best possible advantage under a banking system which is able to increase the amount of deposits, mainly coming from the farmers, while, at the other end of the scale, it is refusing to make the necessary allowances and advances to another section of the farmers whose lands are in a semi-derelict state because they cannot get the credit or the money that would enable them to put them in proper condition. While our banks, that are loudly applauded by the Minister in many of his speeches, are allowed—I use the word as a mild one—to charge our local authorities 5¾ per cent. or 5 per cent., as the case may be, for loans to enable them to carry on local activities such as housing, provision of sewage and waterworks schemes, road construction, and other activities of that kind, for the past few years, especially since the emergency, they have been lending money to the British Government, investing money in British War Loan and other British securities, to enable the British Government to fight a war in a foreign country for the destruction of life and property. If there is anything sound in the system that the Minister defends here in this House, surely it is not associated with that kind of activity?

The real explanation is that the Minister for Finance in particular and the Government as a whole have no control whatsoever over the monetary policy of this State. By a deliberate Act of this Assembly, passed last year, they handed over complete control of monetary policy to a body of nine private citizens and for that reason cannot influence rates of interest or the places where these banks and money lenders may decide to invest their money. If the present financial system, as disclosed in this Budget, is to be continued, may I make this suggestion, that it is only right and reasonable that the Minister for Finance, who at one time boasted—whether it was right or wrong—that he whipped John Bull should use that powerful influence which enabled him to do so, on the bankers of this country and try to persuade them to lend money in future to the local authorities, farmers and industrialists of this country at least at the same low rates of interest as they are prepared to lend that money to a foreign Government to fight a war in a foreign country? I hope the Minister will not regard that as being an unreasonable suggestion. I have been told by a person who is fairly closely associated with some of the bankers of this country that if the Minister for Finance and his colleagues had a little more courage and put that point of view to the bankers of this country, in existing circumstances, they would be able to get a reduction in the present excessive rates of interest.

The Minister has himself admitted here that half the economic rent charged by local authorities for the building of houses for slum dwellers represents interest on money borrowed from the private bankers for that purpose. In order to bring the rents within the reach of the slum dwellers, the taxpayers and ratepayers have to subsidise these activities in order to maintain excessive rates of interest and income to the shareholders of our Irish banks.

Will the Minister for Finance tell me this—I am merely looking for information—is there a country in the world to-day, at peace or at war, where the control of monetary policy is so completely in the hands of private citizens as it is here? Is there a country in the world to-day, at peace or at war, where the Government has not greater authority over the money-lending institutions than the Government of this country has over the banks in this country? Governments of countries that had not control over the banking institutions of their respective countries, made pretty certain, when war broke out, to take complete control without delay so that they would be able to get all the money they needed to purchase implements of destruction.

Does the Deputy say Great Britain took over complete control?

Would I blame Great Britain?

I did not use the word "blame". I am asking the Deputy did they take over the complete control that the Deputy refers to?

I am pretty sure, yes. I would like a little information on that from the Minister.

You state that they did take over complete control?

The Bank of England is under the control of the British Government to-day. Is that denied?

It is—completely denied.

It is completely denied?

The longer you live the more you learn. I am prepared to learn from the Minister additional information in support of that claim. I dare say the Minister is making it as a claim.

My life is too short to teach the Deputy very much. It would take a long time.

If I had as much experience of the financial world and of financiers, and if I were so closely associated with bankers as the Minister has been since he came into office as Minister for Finance and as Minister for Local Government, I admit I would not be asking these questions, but I would be talking to some of them with a firmer voice than that in which the Minister, apparently, has spoken to them, in connection with the rates of interest that they are allowed to charge to our local authorities, our farmers and industrialists. I think I am putting it very mildly when I say that they should be persuaded, if not coerced, to try to reduce these rates to the same level, at any rate, as the rates at which they are prepared to make loans to a foreign Government.

On similar terms?

The latest figures available to me—I may have skipped some of them—showing the amount of money invested by our Irish banks in British War Loan and other British securities were published in theTrade Journal issued by the Department of Industry and Commerce last September. The figures show that £98,000,000—hard-earned money—earned by the sweat and labour of the farmers, agricultural labourers and industrialists of this country, was invested in British War Loan and other British securities. Some of it, I understand, is handed over on the basis of 90-day loans at rates of interest as low as ¾ per cent., 2 per cent. and, as far as I can learn, at rates not exceeding 3¼ per cent. Why cannot these banks lend whatever money is needed to our local authorities at, say, 3¼ per cent., rather than charge them rates of interest as high as 5¾ per cent. over a 35-year loan period, which has had the effect of building up the high cost of providing houses for slum dwellers in this State?

Will the Deputy allow me to answer him on that one point, of the 35-year period? If a bank is asked to lend money over a long period, say, 25 years, 30 years or 35 years, and if it cannot get back its money at short notice, if its money is not readily available when it wants it, if it is given out and tied up for long periods, it has to ask for higher rates of interest. If it lends money, as the Deputy says, perhaps, to the British Government, at short notice, money that can be back in 24 hours, three months, or three days, they have to be satisfied with a much lower rate of interest. That is one of the reasons. The loans for housing in many cases were in order to enable houses to be let at moderately low rents. The loans had to be spread over long periods and, therefore, because the bankers' money was completely tied up for 25, 30 or 35 years, they had to get higher rates of interest. Is not that a reasonable proposition?

I suspected that that explanation would be forthcoming, but that is the bankers' explanation. It is not acceptable to me. The point is —we have come to this stage of our career here as representatives of the people: Are the few privileged people who control the money-lending institutions of this country going to dictate the economic policy of this State, as they have been doing for a very long time, or are the representatives of the people, through the Government elected in this House, going to have any say whatever in the control of monetary policy? I want to say, regardless of what my future political position is going to be, that if we are going to be thrown back, as I expect we are, on our own resources, that the kind of financial policy enshrined in the Budget is not going to save us from economic collapse. I have only a bogman's outlook on financial and monetary matters. I admit to the Minister that I have a lot to learn even from him.

If I were sitting on the Government Bench as long as the Minister has been, and if, in addition, I had been as long Minister for Local Government as he was, I would certainly have taken a different line from him.

In it or on it?

I am sure the Minister is aware, from the latest figures furnished to Deputies, that they disclose this very serious state of affairs that 7/- out of every £1 collected by the local authorities represents the payment of interest on money borrowed by them for carrying out local essential services. I wonder when Deputy Hughes listens to his farmer friends talking about the necessity for derating if he has ever told them that. Would the Deputy go so far as to say to them that he would stand over that system of finance or that he would stand over the contents of this Bill which makes the continuance of that state of affairs possible?

I am not responsible for this Bill.

I doubt, even if the Deputy had responsibility for it, that he would agree to have 7/- out of every £1 collected by the local authorities from the ratepayers, set aside for the payment of interest on loans obtained by them. My contention is that if the Government of the country had more control over the activities of the money-lending institutions, such a state of affairs would not exist. This kind of policy will not, in my opinion, survive the end of this emergency period or the end of the European war. We are told that there is going to be a new order. I wonder, when it comes into operation, is that state of affairs going to be continued? I do not think so. I suggest that the real reason why neither Deputy Cosgrave's Government nor the present Government have been able to solve the unemployment problem, as promised, is because they had no control over the issue of credit for the purpose of putting our unemployed citizens to work on useful schemes of a national development nature.

There are other policy matters that might be related to a discussion of this kind. I read with interest the other day that at a meeting of the General Council of County Councils, a resolution was unanimously carried calling for the repeal of what is known as the County Management Act. I wonder did the Minister read the discussion on that resolution, and if he will say now, in view of the attitude adopted by the representatives on the General Council of County Councils—representatives, I presume, of all Parties—whether there is any intention on the part of the Government to respond to the wishes expressed in that resolution? When the Government went before the country at the last general election they said to the people: "Push this Labour Party out of the way; they are a pack of obstructionists; give us a clear majority to enable us to carry out our policy of self-sufficiency in its entirety." When seeking that mandate from the people they took good care not to tell the people that they were going to pass this County Management Act which deprives the representatives of the people on the local bodies of any say whatever in policy matters.

The Deputy's remarks do not seem to be relevant to the Finance Bill.

I understood that matters of major policy could be discussed on the Second Reading of the Bill.

Major policy, yes, but not the merits of an Act passed by the Oireachtas.

I simply want to ask the Minister——

Neither may amending legislation be discussed.

——if it is the intention of the Government to respond to the wishes of the representatives of the local authorities in a matter of this kind. I also want to refer—I will do so in detail on a later occasion—to the question of the control of the transport system of the country. We were told by the Government and by the representatives of the Fianna Fáil Party at the last election that they were a rail-waymen's Party, that they proposed to bring our transport system under a system of public ownership and control. Instead of doing that, they brought the transport system, when it was on the verge of collapse, under the greatest system of dictatorship set up in this country since this State was established. The gentleman that was put in control of the transport system at a salary of £2,500 a year for a half day's work——

Unless I am mistaken these were the exact words used by the Deputy on an Estimate before the House quite recently.

I do not propose to go into detail.

It struck me, perhaps wrongly, that these were the exact words used by the Deputy in a recent debate, and that he was now repeating them.

With the permission of the Chair, I just wish to refer to a statement that was made by this transport dictator.

I do not see that to dub an industrialist or director a transport dictator is relevant. In any case the matter has been already debated on the Estimate for the Department of Supplies.

I did not speak on this matter quite recently.

The matter was discussed on the Estimate for the Department of Supplies.

I did not speak on the Estimate for the Department of Supplies. I have not spoken on the question of transport since the Estimate for the Department of Industry and Commerce was introduced last year. Many developments of a most serious nature have taken place during the intervening period, including the appointment of this transport dictator who has said that railwaymen are under-worked, that they are overpaid and that there are too many employed in the transport industry. I will have something more to say on this on another Vote. All that I want to say now is that that statement does not fit in very well with the position of a transport dictator who is employed half-time at the rate of £2,500 a year. It does not fit in very well for him to say that railwaymen in this city who are in receipt of less than £2 a week are overpaid.

The director in question has no opportunity of replying to remarks made under privilege.

The Minister who appointed him is in a position to reply in this House on his behalf. I refer to the matter because it is not directly associated with legislation. I do not know anybody, except the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who is aware of the exact powers of this transport dictator—of the exact powers he has in respect of the industry over which he has control.

The Deputy will have his opportunity on the Estimate for Industry and Commerce.

I want to assure the Chair that I have not said a word on this since last year when the Vote for the Department of Industry and Commerce was under discussion. I am sorry that I was not in the House this year when the Estimate for the Department of Supplies was under consideration.

Then I attributed another Deputy's speech to the Deputy.

I now come to another portion of the Minister's statement in relation to the bogey of inflation. He attempted very briefly, I admit, to justify the policy adopted by the Government in relation to the wages standstill Order and to suggest that, if wages were allowed to increase— although the Government was doing nothing to keep down prices—it was bound to lead to bankruptey and financial chaos.

What has the Minister to say to the policy which drives the workers out of this country with Government permits, to enable them to send back £6,000,000 per annum to buy up the commodities in short supply here, rather than, as we suggest, keeping those workers at home and employing them at decent rates of wages to produce more food and more fuel and to give service in return for whatever wages their employers or the Government may provide? Does the Minister, at this particular period, stand over the policy of sending able-bodied men out of this State while we have a shortage of agricultural labourers in the rural areas and, in my opinion, insufficient labour to look after the harvesting of crops during the present year? Is it considered to be sound financial policy, on the part of the Government, to give our people permits to go out of the country and send back a sum of not less than £6,000,000 per year to buy up the essential commodities in short supply and that, according to the figures I have quoted, will be reduced in quantity as the years go by?

There is every evidence, from the figures I have at my disposal, that agricultural and industrial production is on the decline; and I want to know whether it is the policy of the Government, in relation to that situation, to allow these people to go out of the country and to increase the amount of money coming back, thus creating a shortage—particularly amongst the population of the cities and towns—of potatoes, bacon, butter and other essential foodstuffs? If that is the policy of the Government, I am afraid it will cause a good deal of trouble until it is changed.

There is one other matter I want to raise in this debate and I hope it will not be evaded. On several occasions, particularly when speaking outside the House, the Minister for Industry and Commerce and Supplies—that double-barrelled Minister, who is the most eloquent member of the Cabinet—has repeatedly stated that the members of this Party, although ready to criticise the Government for their failure to do many things since the emergency arose, never put up any sensible proposals to the Cabinet, and that at no time—as he said on two occasions outside the House—did we ever suggest to this Government to purchase ships to bring raw materials or other commodities which could not be produced here from the countries where they are produced. I raised this matter very briefly on an occasion about three months ago, on another discussion in this House, and An Taoiseach appeared to be very much concerned as to whether the Minister for Industry and Commerce and Supplies was right or whether, in fact, we had raised any of these matters since the commencement of the emergency period. I referred from memory then to the occasion upon which detailed proposals were put before An Taoiseach, and subsequently, at his request, before the Minister for Industry and Commerce and Supplies.

I have here the notes of a conference which was held between representatives of this Party and An Taoiseach on 25th September, 1939, about three weeks after the war broke out, and after this House had met and handed over certain powers to the Government. The matters discussed on that particular occasion were supplies, inquiries being made from An Taoiseach as to the extent that raw materials were available and how far replacement was possible. It was suggested that stocks should be procured and stored, and stocks in connection with building materials were dealt with. An Taoiseach was questioned as to whether there was any inventory of food supplies and how far rationing had been introduced; and it was stated that hoarding had been encouraged, to the extent that the Minister for Supplies, shortly after his Department was set up, encouraged everybody who had money to buy tea and other commodities.

The Deputy has reverted to matters more appropriate to the Estimate for the Department of Supplies.

I did not debate them then.

I am not alleging that the Deputy did.

Surely, I am entitled to refute a statement by a Minister in this House—and outside this House on two occasions?

Not every statement made by a Minister may be replied to on a Finance Bill, particularly statements referring to supplies which were recently under discussion in the Dáil, and on which the matters to which the Deputy now refers were discussed. What was said at a conference which took place two or three years ago is not relevant to the Finance Bill.

It will establish that the Minister for Supplies and Industry and Commerce does not tell the truth inside or outside the House.

That allegation has nothing to do with this measure.

I challenge the Minister for Finance, if you will not allow me to enumerate matters that were discussed, to look for the minutes, which are available, of the meeting between representatives of this Party and An Taoiseach on the 25th September, 1939. He will see there that we raised the question of supplies, shipping, price control, tillage, employment, censorship, and the question of whether and to what extent our sterling assets in Great Britain would be used to secure reserve stocks of durable goods, raw materials, machinery, etc. These matters were discussed with An Taoiseach on the 25th September, 1939, and that cannot be denied, although An Taoiseach pretended here, when this matter was raised on the last occasion, that he could not remember it or could not find the records. I would wind up by saying that this shows who is telling the truth.

If every speech made in view of the forthcoming general election were to be answered in the Finance Bill, it would be a long debate and quite irrelevant in the main.

I assure you that I would not raise these points at all but for the fact that certain statements were made, and if the Minister for Industry and Commerce and Supplies had not made those unfounded statements inside and outside the House, I would not have produced the notes of the conference that took place between representatives of this Party and An Taoiseach in September, 1939. I am not making this speech, as might be inferred, for electioneering purposes. I am referring to some of these matters so that we can satisfy whom ever may be in doubt as to the facts in connection with points that are in dispute. I realise that the Government that will be elected by the people of this country, as a result of the next general election, when it takes place, will have a very serious responsibility to shoulder. I am concerned, as a representative of the people for my own area, that the Government will, in time, change the policy that they have been pursuing to the disadvantage of the people especially since the emergency arose.

At this particular meeting, the major issue that was raised—which is not in dispute, I suppose—was that the Government be urged to abandon the policy of making our monetary policy conform to British interests, and that to keep our people at home and in full employment we must abandon parity with sterling. That matter was discussed at great length during September and October last, but I do not know whether the experience that the Government have gained in the meantime will enable them to change their attitude. Though I do not pretend to be an expert in this matter, I am satisfied personally that if we, as a nation, are to be thrown back on our own resources, the existing financial policy must be completely reversed. The Minister for Finance of the Government of the future, if this country is to be saved from the serious reactions of the present war, must have a seat on the board of whatever central bank or State reserve bank may be in existence. He must have power to issue credit, in order to put people into productive employment, to create a bigger circulation of money here, to increase the social services far in excess of what they are at present, and to create a market at home for whatever agricultural produce will be available. He must be able to make it possible, at any rate, under some financial system, for every citizen to get a fair share of the wealth produced inside the State and in that way not rely upon the system which has operated in the past, of depending on a foreign country to purchase our surplus agricultural produce.

There is a misunderstanding in the minds of many people as to what a surplus really means. I take it that the surplus agricultural produce of this or any other Christian State should be the quantity of goods produced inside the State which the citizens are not able to consume. But here in this country the word "surplus" merely means to a lot of people what is produced over and above the quantity our citizens are able to purchase. Some 500,000 of our citizens in receipt of an income of less than £1 per week are not able to purchase bacon at present prices, even if it were available, butter at present prices, if it were available, or potatoes at present prices, if they were available.

The commodities produced here under any Christian system of Government and under any sound financial system should be available for every citizen. That can only be done by putting all our people into employment at decent wages, by increasing the circulation of money, and by making it possible, in case there is a financial collapse in any other country with which we have been trading in the past, to have an economy of our own which will enable our citizens to get a fair distribution of the wealth and produce produced in the country. I am not sure whether I have made my point of view very clear, but I was afraid that you, Sir, might again tell me I was discussing some matter which might be raised on some Departmental Vote.

The Deputy is not as timid as he suggests.

With your permission, Sir, I shall raise some matters which I had intended to raise on the Second Reading on this Bill on the Vote for Industry and Commerce and some other Votes which will be discussed during the next week or two.

In the course of the debate most of the matters to which I should like to refer have been discussed to some extent. Deputy Mulcahy to-day, followed by Deputy Davin, referred to the unemployment figures. The most lamentable aspect of these figures, to my mind, is the reduction of 40,000 odd in the number of agricultural workers in recent years. I do not know whether the Ministry have taken the trouble to find out the why and the wherefore of this particular decrease in agricultural employment; whether it is to be accounted for altogether by the reduced production on the land that Deputy Davin referred to; whether it is due to a number of other circumstances, such as the departure from the country of land owners who gave very large employment, or their giving up of farms; or whether it is due, say, to the inability of the farming community in the last nine or ten years to engage in operations which they hitherto engaged in such as drainage, fencing, etc. I believe that the latter accounts for a share of unemployment. To my own knowledge there is not that expenditure of money on drainage and other useful works on farms that there used to be, due to the inability of farmers in recent years to provide the money for the work.

Incidentally, this reduction of 40,000 in the number of agricultural workers is rather a censure on the policy of the Department. Ministers told us eight or nine years ago that increased tillage would solve all our difficulties in regard to employment. I think even the Minister will agree that we have gone a very far way in the last few years in increasing our tillage, but it has not had that effect in regard to the increase of agricultural employment that one would have expected. I think it rather comes back to my contention, which I have repeated in this House very often, that other forms of agricultural activity, which are not looked upon perhaps, with the favour they ought to be, provide much more employment than a tillage policy, however necessary it may be. In my opinion, that unemployment is due, firstly, to the lack of capital at the farmers' disposal for such absolutely necessary work as drainage and fencing. When one travels through the country one notices a considerable increase in rushes and other weeds growing on wet lands. That is due to lack of drainage which farmers and landowners used to undertake but are not now doing. Secondly, to my mind it is due most of all—because it cannot be accounted for by lack of tillage, as we have increased tillage to an appreciable extent in the last few years—to a lessening of production of vital articles of food which we ought to produce.

The shortage of butter, bacon, sugar and potatoes has been referred to. I will start with the first. I have always held that the best form of agricultural activity, so far as employment is concerned, is dairying. We have had a lamentable decline in the dairying industry in the last few years; so much so that an industry which used to provide a large export up to a few years ago is not now able to supply our own people with that very necessary commodity—butter. The argument has been used that our consumption of butter has increased considerably and that that accounts for the lack of supplies. That does not account for it. It is due to other matters. It is due, first and foremost, to the inability of the farmers to supply milk to the creameries or butter to the consumers at the present price. It cannot be done.

If we are to have an increased production of butter and an increase of the number of cattle which are produced by the dairying industry, if we are to make it possible to continue our export trade in any reasonable way in the post-war period, it will be necessary to resuscitate the dairying industry. As I say, it does not pay to produce milk at the present price or to produce butter at the present price, if the farmers are to pay their workers a reasonable wage. Everybody interested in agricultural matters is anxious to get the people back on the land. We ought to be able to reemploy at least the 40,000 or 50,000 people who have gone off employment on the land in the last eight or nine years. Evidently, we will not do it no matter how much we increase our tillage, and I think we have nearly got to the limit in that. We ought to combine that with other farming operations. An extensive tillage policy will be always carried out, but you will not solve the unemployment problem in that way. We have to put numbers of people working on the land in other ways, primarily in dairying and in other forms of agricultural work that depend on dairying, such as the rearing and feeding of pigs, etc.

The working costs of the farmer in the dairying industry have gone up out of all proportion in the last eight or ten years, and every authority who has spoken on the subject has pointed to the necessity for increased remuneration for the dairy farmer. Some of the most important bodies in the country have made declarations on the matter within the past week and I think that nearly every Minister and Deputy has read them. To my mind, the answer to the question as to why workers have gone out of the dairying industry requires no consideration at all. It is one of the most onerous occupations a worker could be engaged in. It involves longer hours and more difficult work than other occupations. Those engaged in it have to get up at all hours of the morning and work out in wet and in dry weather. They have to come back in the evening when other workers have gone, and they have to come back on Sundays to milk the cows and so on.

It is, as I say, a very onerous occupation which deserves a remuneration which it does not get. Therefore, the question as to why workers in dairying districts should be anxious to get away to some easier and better paid work is not at all unanswerable, and if some provision is not made to enable the dairy farmer to pay his workers a better wage, I am very much afraid the decline in the industry will continue. It is not profitable at present and one would have expected that some provision would have been made by the Government to extend it during the emergency at least.

Reference was made to the shortage of potatoes in the City of Dublin. If there was the proper co-operation between the Departments concerned and the agricultural community which there ought to be, I do not believe that a shortage of potatoes would have come about. I am quite certain that if an attempt had been made to make a proper estimate of the supplies available and if some tentative arrangements had been made for the distribution of these supplies, there would have been no shortage whatever. Some of us in the rural areas—and I am not now speaking of the very extensive tillage areas, but of areas which could not be referred to as tillage country— had tons and tons of potatoes which we could not dispose of anywhere. I myself had tons and tons of potatoes up to two or three months ago. I never had such a crop of potatoes in my life, but I could not dispose of them, unless I sent them 30 miles by horse and cart to a city market, and that is not possible for the countryman.

So far as any local markets were concerned, potatoes were unsaleable. We fed them largely to cattle. Some in my county were needlessly fed to cattle because the cattle could have done without them, but they were fed to them because there was no other way to get rid of them at profitable prices and it came as a complete surprise that the City of Dublin was short of potatoes. I do not believe there was any shortage whatever. I believe that there were lots of potatoes in the country, and there would be no scarcity if an attempt had been made by the people, who ought to have made it, to arrange for a census of supplies and a proper method of distribution.

I rose mainly to refer to the position of the dairying industry. I believe that short as butter and bacon supplies are now, they will be still shorter in 12 months' time. The bacon trade depends to a great extent on dairying and, if one is not successful, the other will not be successful. Any attempt to resuscitate the raising of pigs will depend to a great extent on an extension of the dairying industry and every authority in the country knows that dairying cannot be carried on profitably in present circumstances. This may be described again as an election speech, but I do not suppose that what I am saying will appear in any paper— generally it does not—and I do not care twopence whether it does or not. I am seriously concerned for the future of the dairying industry. I am not selfish with regard to dairying as a particular form of agricultural industry, but I suggest that Deputies from other constituencies are not taking the matter as seriously as they ought to. They ought to consider what will be the effect of any reduction in the dairying industry on their own constituencies. Whether they are dairying constituencies or not, any such reduction is bound to have a reaction. It will have a reaction on the supply of stock available to them. The purely grazing counties could not get on without us, because we supply the stock which they feed, and all agricultural work would break down if the dairying industry declined to any extent. All statistics prove this, and we had the I.A.O.S. and other bodies making very profound statements on the matter within the last few weeks. I am anxious that this Ministry would attend to the industry, because the matter so vitally concerns the whole community that it must be attended to by somebody.

I have already expressed my views on the Budget, but I want to say that I was very interested in the comparison made by Deputy Davin with regard to our production over a period of some 20 years of native Government and under two different Administrations. No greater advocate than Deputy Davin could be found to bring the position home conclusively and in an able way by a set of comparative figures in respect of aggregate agricultural production and consumption of food as between the period of the late Administration and the present Government. He gave us figures of the total value produced by the agricultural industry for 1930 and 1938, and showed that there was an amount of some £13,000,000 or £14,000,000 in favour of 1930. He pointed out that our consumption in 1930 was substantially higher than in 1938 and gave figures from official returns showing that there was a reduction of 48,000 in the number of workers engaged in agricultural work over the period. He referred to the alarming shrinkage in agricultural production.

I do not think that Deputy Davin deliberately refrained from making this clear—probably it was an oversight on his part—that during the period of office of the late Government the world generally was suffering from a state of depression that was becoming steeper and steeper down to the year 1929 and the efforts of the Government at that time were directed mainly towards organising our agriculture on an efficient basis and fighting the effects of the atmosphere of depression which was closing in over this little island. In face of those circumstances, the results achieved under that very severe handicap were extraordinary, as was pointed out by Deputy Davin. I do not think anyone can question the figures quoted by the Deputy.

But it is rather amusing to listen to a Deputy from the Labour benches making that situation clear, as it were, from an isolated and strictly impartial point of view, because I do not think the Deputy or the Labour Party is absolutely free from some responsibility in that respect. They were responsible for putting Fianna Fáil into power and supporting them for a period of five years. Apparently the Labour Party in that period have learned something and they have decided that the present Government are not capable or fit to look after the affairs of this country.

I was surprised when the Minister, replying to the debate on the general resolution, said:—

"Deputies who spoke here to-day, and at least one who spoke yesterday, found so little to criticise in the Budget that they decided it was safer to let the Budget alone. I think I am not misrepresenting the position when I say that they thought the Minister for Finance was in so strong a position and had put so convincing a case before the House that there was little to be said in the way of criticism of the Budget or the budgetary statement."

There was certainly a considerable amount of criticism from these benches and, if the Minister did not hear it, he must have been asleep. The main criticism from Deputies on this side of the House was directed not so much to the cost of administration, although that in itself is alarming. One must appreciate the necessity of spending fairly heavily during a period of emergency. Criticism was mainly directed to the fact that we are not getting good value for our money, and that money is being spent on anything and everything. The Minister boasted about social schemes and about the giving of largesse to bolster up decaying industries, but many Deputies considered that the money might be better spent on schemes that would promote prosperity in the country. It was argued that no matter how much the Minister might boast about the provision of money for unemployment relief and food and fuel schemes, they in themselves were an indication of an unhealthy condition in our economy, and an indication of health would be a considerable reduction in the provision of money of that character. We pointed out that at a time like this the market was favourable to a country that was mainly a food-producing country—the market is always more favourable during a war period— and yet at a time like this, when the market is favourable, we find ourselves being asked to vote larger sums of money towards provisions of that sort and larger sums are being asked in order to subsidise industries that are in an unhealthy condition.

The Minister boasted that a sum of £700,000 is being provided for the dairying industry. Notwithstanding that very substantial sum, it seems an extraordinary thing that in a country like this, where we had a healthy dairying industry and an export trade of over £3,000,000 in butter, we are not able to provide butter now to meet home requirements. Surely that is an indication of a very unhealthy condition in the industry and, while it may be necessary, and I am sure is necessary, that a subsidy be provided to keep the industry going, a subsidy nevertheless, where conditions are unsound, only helps to crystallise thestatus quo. The responsible Minister, in providing this subsidy, felt that that was all that was required of him. I think far more than that is necessary; that side by side with the provision of a subsidy of this size, the Minister should have tackled the problem of examining the whole structure of the dairying industry in order to remove whatever defects there are and to try to put it on a more efficient basis, on a basis where it would be capable of competing with dairying industries in other countries. Nothing like that has been done.

The dairying industry has been neglected over a period of years and the fact that the Minister boasts about the provision of a substantial sum of money out of the ratepayers' pockets to bolster up an industry that in the past showed its ability to compete with other dairying countries in the world market, shows that there is something fundamentally wrong with the industry at the present time. A Ministry simply ignoring a situation of that sort and merely providing sums that would help to crystallise an unhealthy condition, is not doing its duty.

I would be the last to criticise a bill even of this magnitude if the money were spent for the purpose of promoting and expanding the agricultural industry and making it more efficient. The Minister has again referred to the necessity of paying more attention to our export trade. In last year's Budget he referred to the fact that this country has only one market and went on to say that they looked for other markets but they now realise that there is only one market for our surplus agricultural production. It is something to be thankful for that a Fianna Fáil Minister for Finance, after years of Parliamentary experience, is beginning to learn that this country has only one market and that that market is worth cultivating.

The Minister might realise this, too, that through the failure of his colleague the Minister for Agriculture to improve and make more efficient the industry of agriculture in this country, there is a possibility that we may not be able to compete in that market post-war. If war has the effect of tremendous material destruction, it also has the effect of quickening the means of production and the power to invent. It has precisely that effect on British agriculture. There has been an enormous expansion in British agriculture and in the amount of credit and technical advice provided. A vast amount of attention to voluntary organisations in the different counties has been given and they are paying detailed attention to those problems which must be attended to if results are to be achieved. The provision of an enormous amount of agricultural equipment and mechanisation has made the industry far more efficient than ever it was before.

Farmers have been graded into grades A, B and C, and the man not able to reach grade C is put out. They cannot afford to have inefficient farmers in Great Britain at the present time. Assuming that, post-war, we will be able to win back the market that we have let slip through our fingers, in a variety of agricultural goods, butter, bacon, eggs, poultry and mutton, we must be prepared to remedy the situation, where from the point of view of efficiency and use of modern technique and scientific methods, we are considerably behind times, and cannot hope to compete. Greater efficiency means cheapening costs of production. If our farmers are not as efficient as the farmers of other countries then we will be unable to compete and we will simply fade out of the picture.

What is the use in the Minister boasting about largesse to bolster up unhealthy conditions if something is not done to reorganise our methods of production? These new methods have revolutionised agriculture in other countries while we are asleep. The Minister for Agriculture in this country is, like the ostrich, sticking his head in the sand. The Minister may be complacent about the whole matter. As far as I can see, he does not appreciate in the least the problems that are bound to concern this country post war. If we do not waken up now, it is going to be too late. Competition will be very keen post war. We have been sliding back for some years and proof of that, if proof is necessary, has been given this evening by the figures quoted by Deputy Davin.

Does it not seem an extraordinary situation that, even with 580,000 acres under wheat last season, the national blend which was originally declared at 70 per cent. Irish and 30 per cent. foreign—on the basis of the anticipated production from that acreage—has had to be adjusted, as announced some weeks ago, to 50 per cent. Irish and 50 per cent. foreign? Is that the result of the Fianna Fáil wheat scheme? Is the Minister for Finance or the Minister for Agriculture satisfied with that level of production? If you were to ask any agriculturist in this or any other country what he thought of that result in a fertile land, where conditions are favourable to a high level of production, he could only come to the conclusion that there was something fundamentally wrong with the whole organisation.

In regard to butter, it was pointed out last week at a meeting of the I.A.O.S. that there was in the last couple of years a reduction of 10,250 tons of butter. Is not that an alarming situation? Does the Minister think that he can come into this House and, by a bit of bluff, try to fool Deputies and to fool the people outside? The people realise full well the danger economically of the present policy of drifting and the present policy of despair. They know what it has brought this country to, that we are on the very edge of a precipice. It is difficult to resurrect a corpse or a body that is almost a corpse.

It cannot be done.

Surely the Deputy does not contend that those great branches of Irish agriculture, that were in a perfectly healthy condition a decade ago, are not in a dying condition to-day.

The Deputy said it was difficult to resurrect a corpse. It cannot be done.

Who made a corpse of them?

They are not corpses.

They are almost a corpse. Of course, I have no doubt that Deputy O Briain is not in the least concerned about it and I would not expect that a man of his vision, or mentality, or outlook——

I am just as much concerned as Deputy Hughes, and perhaps more so.

——would be capable of appreciating the problem that exists or the magnitude of the damage that has been done to the greatest industry in this country. Is it not a wonder that the Ministry have not examined what has been done in other countries in this regard? Last year on farm improvements schemes we were spending £250,000. Granted, it is increased this year by £100,000 but if the problem of land improvement generally is appreciated at all by the Ministry, they should realise that that is a negligible sum in relation to the problem. There are hundreds of thousands of acres of land in this country in a water-logged condition, with little or no productive capacity, that could be converted into very useful land if a proper scheme of reclamation were introduced. Instead of spending a negligible sum on work of that character we should be courageous enough to spend substantial capital sums on work that will be productive of further wealth in an increase of agricultural production. It is along those lines that the Ministry should be thinking and not along the lines of getting more and more people to eat out of the Taoiseach's hands. Politically, that may be very good. It may help Fianna Fáil to get a few more votes but in the long run, nationally, it is unsound.

It is going to be an everlasting disgrace if, in our generation, under a native Government, we are incapable of running this little island, where we have all the advantages of a fertile soil, 12,000,000 acres of good and useful land, suitable climatic conditions, and a very small population—less than 3,000,000 people. On the computation of economists, that an acre of land properly used will feed one individual, and allowing a considerable margin of error in this respect, 5,000,000 acres of our land should maintain our people and we should have a surplus production of 7,000,000 acres. In these circumstances, why should we have problems in regard to butter supplies, in regard to bacon supplies and even about supplying potatoes to the City of Dublin at the present time? Is there any indication of construction or organisation within the Ministry that is charged with the responsibility of looking after these matters? I think that on those results they stand condemned for all time. One should examine what has been done in that respect in Great Britain. Surely to goodness we are even more vitally interested because it is our main support, and we should ensure that every acre that can be ought to be brought into production. The spending of money on work of that sort is the healthiest and the soundest way of providing employment for those who are looking for it. It would be better to do that than be exporting 100,000 of the best of our young people to go into the R.A.F. or the war effort in Great Britain.

The provision of a sum of £71,000 for lime to correct the unhealthy condition of our soil is merely trifling with that problem. The Minister ought to appreciate that if we are ever going to solve it we must get down to fundamentals. The land is the first consideration, and if there is anything wrong with the nature, quality and condition of its fertility it must be put right at once. Many eminent agricultural scientists have given years of study to the problem.

How many Deputies have studied these matters? How many of them are thinking or worrying about it? The word "fertility" is the most important that one can use so far as the land of the country is concerned. It is the one great asset that we have. For five years I have never heard the word come from the lips of the Minister for Agriculture. It, more than anything else, ought to be spoken about in this House, and yet it is only mentioned occasionally. The tied Party rag of the Fianna Fáil Party scoffs at the idea that there is anything in fertility at all. If progress is to be made the sooner we wake up to the importance of the whole situation the better, as we must plan for the future if we are to be in the picture post-war.

The United States of America recently extended an invitation to the representatives of 38 countries to sit down in conference and deal with the question of food production in a post-war world. We should be deeply concerned in the deliberations of that conference. The President of that great country in which we have a very definite claim apparently overlooked the fact that we were very interested in the deliberations of that conference. We are a relatively small country, and I suppose it is because of that that we were overlooked. It would not be unreasonable, in my opinion, if the Taoiseach were to make representations to see that an invitation was extended to this country to send representatives to the conference. The Taoiseach is so unconcerned about the whole matter, about taking any part in the deliberations that may take place regarding post-war conditions in the world, that he refused to take any step in that direction. I do not think there is any use in talking to the present Ministry or to the Fianna Fáil Party. They take too long to make up their minds or to see what the ordinary individual can see. A thing must be right under their nose before they will do anything. They took 20 years to see the advantage of the British market to this country. I do not think we can spend that length of time educating any Ministry. These fundamental problems must be tackled in a constructive way if any progress is to be made. We cannot rely on the present Ministry to do that. We must look forward to the time when an opportunity will be given to the people to elect those who will be prepared to face up courageously to those questions.

During the past few weeks the Taoiseach has been referring to the sums of money which have been provided by the Government to help agriculture. As this has a very important bearing on the Finance Bill, I think it is necessary to educate the Government on at least one point. The Government claim that during the period they have been in office a sum of £68,000,000 has been provided to help the agricultural industry. I would point out that during the first five years of the present Government's administration—during the period of the economic war—the value of our agricultural output was reduced by over £20,000,000 a year. That amounted to over £100,000,000. It is because that huge sum was extracted from the agricultural industry that it is unable to-day to provide the people with the foodstuffs they require. When the present Government were seeking office, and during the early years of their term of office, they used to cry frequently for, and sigh for, a wall around Ireland. Now they have got it to a very great extent and do not seem to be a bit too happy about it. If the wall was a little higher, making it impossible to import any foodstuffs into the country, our people would be faced with famine to-day. The Government which made its most emphatic slogan "Self-sufficiency" has proved itself incapable of providing our people with the commodities which the country was famous for producing.

I do not want to criticise the Government too severely. I realise that they are a dying Government and will, during the next few weeks, be singing their swan song. If they want words for it I suggest these to them: "Yes, we have no potatoes to-day." These should prove very suitable for the present Government Party. Attempts have been made to blame the farmers for the present shortage of potatoes in this city, and to represent the farmers as profiteers, as people who are holding supplies, thereby causing severe suffering and hardship on the people in our large cities and towns.

There is no substance whatever in those accusations. It is the Minister and his colleagues who are entirely responsible for the failure in our potato supply. If there were any executive or administrative ability on the Government Front Bench or in the Government Departments, particularly Agriculture and Supplies, it would have been possible to make a proper survey of the production last year and to ascertain very early in the year what every practical farmer in the country knew to be a fact—that there were very large areas in the country in which the potato crop had been a failure to a great extent. In view of the fact that there were areas which were in the habit of supplying potatoes to the city and in which the crop had been a failure, it would have been possible for a proper administrative Department of Agriculture and Supplies to have drawn potatoes from other areas not in the habit of supplying potatoes. It was merely a question of administration, of proper supervision and survey.

In a time of emergency, it is the Government's first duty to survey the amount of essential supplies available and then to bring them to the people who require them. Unfortunately, the thumb-twiddling Department of Agriculture and the thumb-twiddling Minister at the head of it rely on the old-fashioned methods of estimating production by estimating the areas under various crops and their yields. Everyone knows that such methods of obtaining agricultural statistics are hopelessly out of date and unsuited to a period of emergency, when people are completely dependent on home-produced food supplies. The methods employed by the Government for estimating the yields of the various crops are not in keeping with the needs of the present situation.

The Government have completely failed in their job. They had an opportunity to make self-sufficiency an effective policy, but they have made that policy, to a large extent, so ineffective that it will never again, I am afraid, offer any attraction to the people of this country. That is a very unfortunate state of affairs. If we are to build a self-reliant national economy, it is desirable that it should be built on the basis of providing ourselves with a fair amount of our own requirements and thereby giving ourselves a bargaining foundation, on which to exchange our surplus for the other things we require.

The growing inefficiency of the present Government has caused a lack of confidence amongst the people in our ability to rely upon ourselves, and nothing is more dangerous to the future of a nation than lack of confidence in itself. If we had an efficient administration, particularly during the past few years, this emergency would have given us a sense of self-reliance and of self-confidence which would be of tremendous value to us in the post-war period.

The policy of the Government has been steadily to draw more people from production and to put more people on the payroll of the State, depending upon it for their means of living. An American commentator recently commented on the trend of government policy in America—a trend which was developing in the United States and in every other country in the world, but which has been pushed to extremes in this country. It is the policy of taking people from production and drawing them into non-productive occupations. Of course, he exaggerated somewhat when he said:—

"The population is 124,000,000; there are eligible for the old age pension 30,000,000, leaving 94,000,000 to do the work; there are sick and infirm 20,000,000, leaving 74,000,000; there are ineligible under the Child Labour Law, 40,000,000, leaving 34,000,000; there are working for Federal, State and city Governments, 20,000,000, leaving 14,000,000 to do the work; there are unemployed and on the dole, 13,999,998, leaving actually to do the work, two; these two are the President and myself; he has gone fishing and I am getting a bit tired."

I must congratulate the Minister that we have not altogether reached that stage. However, we are heading rapidly in that direction. Until the 48,000 people whom the Minister and his colleagues have driven out of agricultural work during their régime are brought back to agriculture, until the 100,000 who have been driven to Great Britain are brought back to agricultural production, and until the 80,000 on the dole or receiving assistance in various ways are put to productive activity, particularly on the land, the drift towards destitution and famine will continue. It has been apparent enough to everyone during the past few years, but has been brought home to the people very clearly in the past 12 months.

In spite of all the plans laid before the people by Fianna Fáil ten years ago, regarding the number of people which could be put into employment, we find at the present day that the only thing they have done is to drive the population out of the country. Our population was low enough but, as Deputy Cogan has just said, they have driven large numbers out of agriculture. Up to 100,000 have been driven over to a country which they said was a foreign country. That can be seen even to-day by those coming up in the train to Westland Row. The fine young men and young women are leaving the West of Ireland, to seek employment in a country which was "a foreign country" some years ago.

This debate has come on at a very appropriate time, as we hear Fianna Fáil speakers around the country claiming that the emergency and the European war are the cause of all the trouble. Is the European war responsible for the fact that there is not a potato in Dublin? There is not a pound of butter down the country and there is not a pound of bacon in the West of Ireland even at the present time.

When Fianna Fáil came into office we were promised ten years ago that there would be plenty of employment on the land. I ask any Deputy, Fianna Fáil, Labour or Fine Gael, to compare our exports ten years ago, after providing for a population much greater than it is to-day, with our exports to-day. What is our position to-day after ten years of this great Government that had a plan to relieve everything? I say again that the only policy of Fianna Fáil for ten years has been to drive the fine young men and young women from this country to seek employment in another country. We are supposed to be an agricultural country. We will leave the industrial side out of it. We know that Fianna Fáil failed in that. Factories are now closed up which cost the country a fair amount of money.

It is time for this Government, or any Party which takes up the government of this country, to consider the future of our people. Our population is very small and, with that population, we should be able to support our people, give them a fair deal and sufficient to eat. But the policy at the present time is starvation. We can see it in every part of the country at the present time. Even in rural districts we can see it. Certainly the Government should open their eyes to it. If they do not, in a very short time our people will open their own eyes, and then we will know what government is.

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 apro 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.

On Thursday last the Minister drew attention to some observations I made in the debate on the general financial resolution. He said:—

"One can take certain years and figures from certain types of statistics. Deputy Cosgrave took certain years and pointed out that, during those years, 11,400 persons per year were put into employment. If we take the whole period of office of Deputy Cosgrave's Government and a similar number of years under this Government, that would give us one set of returns and show that one side or the other had achieved certain results."

On former occasions, in taking out such figures as I gave on the last day, I gave reasons for the selection of those particular dates. They appeared to me at the time, and even now, to have been very good reasons. One was that until the year 1927 there was a usurping authority outside this Parliament.

There were some 40 or 50 empty seats in this House and 1927 was the year in which that came to an end and I took that to be a normal year. It was normal even in more respects than that. Taking 1927 as the year in which something approaching exact returns could be made would be very much nearer to the point of getting correct returns than any other year. I am not against taking an earlier period. I am not sure what particular period would be taken. Would we take the year 1922? Is it contended that that year would be a good year to take, or should we take the year 1923, when disturbances were going on? It might be claimed that people in responsible Government offices could be charged with rendering an account of what they were doing in the way of construction and that no allowance should be made in respect of persons outside operating in an opposite direction.

That is really the reason why the year 1927 was taken. I think it is a fair year. It is more than possible that other years would have been just as good. I cannot see any particular reason why an objection would be taken to that year, because it coincided with the filling up of this House and with the persistent opposition to the policy that was then in operation on the far side of the House—that it was inefficient, that it was costly, that it was non-constructive, that it was non-national and so on. I need not weary the House by extending the litany; it is well understood if it has not been forgotten. Notwithstanding all that, there were 11,400 persons added to the annual pay-roll, making a total in the five years of 57,000. I compare that with what happened from 1932 to 1939. It is quite true a different policy was pursued.

It sometimes puzzles me when I read of the Minister saying that there is no difference between the policy of the present Government and that of the Fine Gael Party. I should like to get a date on which the policies coincided. There was not the same policy in operation in 1931 as there was in 1932.

There was no agreement, at any rate, between members of the Government on the question that there was no dissimilarity between the policies in operation as far as the two Parties were concerned at that time. When did this change in policy take place in which the differences between the two were composed? I do not know anything about it.

As I have said, I compared the five years, 1927 to 1931, the results that were achieved during those years, with the results that were achieved from the year, 1932, inclusive, to 1939. I find that the best to be said for them is that, during that period, 75,000 additional persons were added to the pay-roll, on the basis of calculation which has generally been accepted, not only in this House but in the publication that is issued from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. In essence, the difference between the two is that the Government, with all its verve, all its vim, all its activities, fails to keep up the record that had been established during the régime that was subjected to the criticism I have mentioned, that it was non-national, non-constructive, that it was costly, useless and was not in keeping with the best tradition of the Irish race. There may have been reasons for their not being able to keep up to it but, whatever they were, the facts are as I have stated. The Minister goes on to say:

"Deputy Cosgrave chose to select certain years that suited his arguments"—

it would be more correct to say they suited his facts, because they were facts rather than arguments—

"and I am going to select certain years that suit my argument."—

Apparently, these are not comparable things. There is a very marked difference between them on a question that has some basis.—

"I find that, at the 31st December, 1931, the number of persons insured under the National Health Insurance Act was 436,249. At the 31st December, 1939—just after the outbreak of war and before the economic situation here was very deeply affected, the number of insured had increased to 599,592."

In subtracting these figures, he got 163,000 persons.

I ask the Minister to look up the Statistical Abstract published by his colleague, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and he will find the number of persons added to the pay-roll in these years was 75,000 and the 163,000 persons, if they were added to the numbers, got less than six months' employment per person. That is the policy. There is no comparison between the two.

Nothing would give me greater pleasure—whether the Minister believes it or not—than to see this country advancing, no matter what Government was in power, no matter what our circumstances were politically, to see each year mark an advance not only on the previous year but on the average of the previous years. That has not been accomplished and that is one of the fundamental differences between that Party over there and the Party over here. Consider the mentality which is evidenced by some of the speeches that were made during the week-end. One of them is to the effect that the Government has benefited the agricultural industry by £68,500,000. There are minus signs as well as plus signs. I wonder will anybody in the Government look up what their policy cost the agricultural industry; how far their policy damaged it; in how much its prosperity has diminished during those years; in how far the numbers of persons engaged in agriculture diminished during that period.

I will take just one particular item in the whole list. We used to hear years ago of the change-over policy. That meant a change over from live stock and live-stock products to tillage. What is the best average that was achieved over the period during which this change over took place—1 per cent. extra tillage. Was that anything to boast of? Our responsibility was very great in this whole business. We were, to make the best of us, or the worst of us, revolutionaries, revolutionaries who, unlike the peoples of most countries in the world, had been charged for two decades with the responsibility of running the country by two different Parties. Any person having any regard for the magnitude of that undertaking must be dissatisfied with the claim that is made now, that that was a change in policy. It was not even a variation in policy. It could not be called a policy at all. There are, I suppose, public companies which would be gratified by the payment of 1 per cent. extra dividend. It would not be anything to ring the bell about or to bring out the band for: it would be something you would expect in the normal course.

What is it that is really wrong with the Government—not only in that direction, but in practically every other? They can never see the actual results of the reactions of their policy. Take the agricultural question as a whole. We witnessed across the water, during the last two or three years, extraordinary expansion in the productivity of the land. Had we anything to compare with that here? We would all feel very much prouder if we had. It would have benefited not only those who were engaged on the land, it would probably have increased the numbers who would get employment there; it would have created contentment where there is discontent; it would have given people many more of the fruits of the soil which make life worth living. All that we have succeeded in doing is marking time.

To return to the figures I have mentioned about employment, the disturbing feature is that in the year 1938, according to the published returns, there were added to the pay-roll or the employment roll in this country 1,000 persons, in the year 1939, 1,000 persons. No one will deny that the Government endeavoured during that period to stimulate employment by pouring public funds into the stream that would provide it. It increased taxation. It increased borrowing. Notwithstanding all these increases in taxation, increases that continuedad nauseam, we have not been able to keep up to the same pace that had been set by that Government which had been charged so often with being non-national, non-constructive, non-efficient and with running this country on an imperialist scale.

The thing for us to consider now is how it is going to be remedied. I would have preferred if the Minister had been able, in the course of his Budget speech, to give the House some idea of an improvement in the policy and administration of his colleagues in their different Departments. In connection with agriculture, I would like to have heard from him whether we had been watching developments in other countries and had noticed the improvements that are taking place. We have the best live stock in the world. Our cows can produce as much milk as the cows in those countries that are in competition with us. They can produce as much milk as the cows across the water. I would like to have heard from him what are the prospects for a development of our live stock and live-stock products which proved so remunerative in the past. In connection with the administration of public affairs and the making of the recent Order by the Minister's colleague prohibiting the importation of potatoes into Dublin except under licence, occasion might, I think, have been taken to fix an hour to explain to the House the reason for that Order. Co-operation might have been sought, and some explanation given as to why this shortage came upon the country so suddenly. In connection with that shortage, I will mention two cases known to myself. In one a man had approximately 5 tons of potatoes available on the 1st January last if he had known this shortage was coming. In the other case a man had close on 50 tons of potatoes. Neither of those men deals in potatoes, and if they had known the shortage was coming they would not have had any objection to putting their supplies into a common pool. They would not be particular about the price either. The man with the 50 tons of potatoes was offered £3 a ton for them on the 1st March. Since he felt that it would not pay him to shift them at that price he fed them to his stock.

It may be that matters of this sort ought not to be raised in a Budget discussion, but, again, taking into account the responsibility of those who form the Government, we must say that if a Government interferes we expect its interference to be of a constructive character. We expect that if we have an extensive and well-manned Department its function ought to be to help and not to be a nuisance.

Week after week we have those new Orders coming out. I think it is a bad practice. They ought to be introduced when the House is sitting, and a case made for them, especially having regard to the events that have taken place in this country in the last 15 or 20 years. In that period the tendency has been to intensify the critical faculties of our people. In view of that it is desirable, I think, that they should be informed regarding administrative action when it affects themselves.

The most disturbing feature of this Budget is the fact that its amount has never been exceeded, and that amongst our people there probably never was more dissatisfaction regarding small, but important, matters in connection with it. It does not make provision for all our expenditure. In other words, we are marking time. I have not been able to find in any of the examples that I have taken, or in any of the books that I have consulted on this subject, any case in which the policy of a Government continually borrowing to make up Budget deficits did not ultimately result in injuring the currency. We are in a very strong, a very powerful, position in this country, but I do not suppose that the most nationally-minded member of this House would, in his wildest flights, regard this country as being as wealthy as either Great Britain or America. Certainly in one case, the country in question was not able to correct that sort of policy, nor was any country on the Continent that I know of able to do so. These are undesirable legacies for Governments to, leave to their successors. The Minister did not tell us in his speech if any effort was being made to limit the sums necessary to be borrowed.

We are all agreed that taxation is sufficiently high, and that it would be almost impossible to get any more. As the curve has risen one might almost say that the acceleration of employment has diminished. Apart altogether from the political question and the unemployed, if we are going to have any nation building that is worth while, it will be by increasing annually the number of persons in gainful occupations in the full acceptance of that term. I do not regard the provision of work on three or four days as being anything more than a palliative, and neither, I am sure, does the Minister. It is not a credit either to this House or to the administration that a policy of that sort was ever introduced. It is non-constructive, and, at best, it should be for a short period to deal with a short situation.

The recent publication of the Beveridge report is evidence of the fact that the people over there are thinking of the question. They are approaching an improvement of the social services on the basis of continuous employment. My view for what it is worth is that that report is not a social service document at all. It has been designed to increase the population of that country. We are approaching the problem on something the same lines here. We have had no great increase in our population, and there is no great opportunity for those who are coming into the employment period. This, above all others, is a time when we must get a sound national economy established and some measure of agreement regarding fundamentals. High taxation and the failure to balance budgets have never been associated with a progressive advance in any country that I know of.

There are one or two things which Deputy Cosgrave has said, in his concluding remarks, with which I can express full agreement. One of them is that the continuance of a long period of unbalanced Budgets and excessive taxation will not lead to economic and financial stability. Another is that we should find agreement on fundamentals here and that it would be useful to examine our social condition, especially in comparison with social conditions displayed in recent reports from countries with which we are closely associated. I agree that efforts should be made to improve social conditions here and to find out what is lacking, so as to improve our social condition and increase the population at the same time. These are desirable ends and there should not be any great difficulty on any side of the House in coming to agreement as to the fundamentals in regard to them. I do not think I have heard any views expressed in this debate which could not be examined calmly, quietly and dispassionately here, with a view to arriving at conclusions as to the best and most desirable policy to be pursued for the social and economic betterment of our country and its people.

When we come down to the details of policy, however, there does not seem to be the same measure of agreement that one finds in debating general principles in their broadest outline. Deputy Cosgrave criticised the Taoiseach for mentioning in his speech during the past few days that many additional millions of pounds were provided for agriculture by the Fianna Fáil Government. The Deputy did not say that it was the Taoiseach who made that speech, but I take it that it was, as it was in a speech he made that I read a reference to many millions being given to agriculture by Fianna Fáil in recent years.

That was published in the Press, I think on Monday last. If I were listening to the Taoiseach on that occasion I think I would probably have heard him tell the people the other side of the story too. Deputy Cosgrave may not realise it, but it is a characteristic of the Taoiseach, not alone to tell the truth but to tell the whole truth. If he referred to the millions given by Fianna Fáil, as the newspapers said he did, he probably told his audience what it had cost the country—and, perhaps, agriculture in particular—to fight the economic war. Certainly, he would not want to hide it from them: nobody wants to hide those facts or figures, and I am sure the Taoiseach would be the last person in the House or outside it to hide or misrepresent the facts. Certainly, I would not like to do so. I do not know if the amount could be accurately computed, of the penal levies and taxes that Britain put on our agricultural produce going into that country. I have heard various figures mentioned in the last nine or ten years—sometimes hundreds of millions. Some people exaggerated greatly and, perhaps, there was a tendency on other sides to under-estimate. Whatever the figure is, unquestionably the economic war cost the country a great deal of money. It was costly, not only to the agriculturists—though I do not want to minimise what it cost them—but to all the other people, as the towns and cities stood by agriculture and bore their share of the burden. I do not want to go further than that now. It is true that generous millions were given to agriculture and were saved to agriculture, as a result of the outcome of that economic war. That has been debated, some people may say,ad nauseam in this House and outside it for many years past, particularly since the settlement of that long-drawn-out and bitter struggle. The cost has been estimated and debated by many authorities and speakers, on one side and the other, some endeavouring to estimate it truthfully and as nearly as possible and others anxious to exaggerate it. If I could get anything like a reliable figure, as to the cost of that struggle, I would not hesitate to give it to the Dáil and the country, but I would like also to give the other side of the picture.

In my Budget statement—which, I suggest, was well received everywhere —an effort was made to put the financial and economic position of the country before the people in a plain way. I have nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to be afraid of. I said that the financial position was sound, even though we had borrowed over a number of years; and I am glad that Deputy Cosgrave, despite the borrowings of recent years, agrees that our financial position is sound. I agree with him that borrowing should not go on for ever, that it would not be wise to continue borrowing, and that an end should come to it. But when that end will come I am not foolish enough to prophesy. I would not attempt to be a prophet in regard to the general election like Deputy Cogan, who prophesied misery, woe and devastation. Others prophesied what will happen at the general election. I do not attempt prophecy, but I have a fairly confident conviction of what will happen. I tell Deputy Cogan that the Minister for Finance will be richer by many hundreds of pounds the more candidates the Deputy puts up.

He might even get the Deputy's own election deposit.

Bad as he is, I would not wish him that. Bad prophet as he is, and miserable as is his imagination with regard to the future of this country, particularly of agriculture, I would not wish him the worst with regard to the election. There is one thing I want to say with regard to the remarks of Deputy Cosgrave; I might also include Deputy Mulcahy because he referred to the matter also. Deputy Cosgrave described the figures he quoted here about employment, to which Deputy Mulcahy referred, as being given in the Statistical Abstract. I take it he referred to Table 100 on page 104 of the 1942 Statistical Abstract. He said that these were facts; that his statements were factual statements. Table 100, under the number of the page says: "Estimated number of persons." If it is an estimate, it is not a factual statement.

That is because it is a certain figure divided by a number again.

It is described as an estimate. If it is an estimate, then you cannot say that it is a factual statement. Deputy Cosgrave was very particular to use the word "factual". He said that he was talking of facts, I was only talking of figures. I said the other day, and I repeat it, that Deputy Cosgrave selected his year or period of years. I am not objecting to that. He is entitled to select any period of years he likes. He gave his reasons for selecting the year 1927. Perhaps there is a good reason for it. But he selected his period of years. If I selected a period of years in the same way I could show much better results than if I selected another period of years. Deputy Cosgrave made his own selection of the period of years for his own purpose. That is all right. He can do that. I have no right to object. He is entitled to give whatever figures he wishes. I am entitled to give mine and then let the House and the country judge. Is not that good enough? We have heard these figures before. This is not the first time we have heard them; it is the tenth or perhaps the twentieth time. Deputy Cosgrave and Deputy Mulcahy think these are excellent figures which will flatten us out in every constituency where they are used. The Deputy can give them to the people, explain them, emphasise them and underline them. That is all right; that is his job. We can do the same with our figures.

I gave figures the other day. Deputy Mulcahy may say that they are not exactly comparable. Let him tell the House that; the House and the country are the best judges. There is one way of ending all these discussions. I suppose thatDer Tag will soon arrive and put an end to the discussions for a while. We will start them on a new basis immediately afterwards.

Very good. We are all delighted with that—I am, anyway. I do not know whether the Deputy is or not—I hope he is.

I shall look forward to it very much.

Very good. We are all happy then. One thing I should like to say with regard to Deputy Coburn is that he made an effort to be realistic with regard to the present situation and to be fair even to this Government, an effort which was not made by anybody else who spoke in this debate. One or two of his colleagues had been talking about the Government hunting men out of this country. Deputy Hughes talked of 100,000 men being hunted out of the country to join the British army and to go into British industry. Deputy Coburn answered him well when he said that he disliked hearing that "hypocritical humbug" and talk about men being hunted to England. That is the answer Deputy Hughes got from his own colleague—that he is a hypocritical humbug. These are not my words. Deputy Coburn complained that sufficient men were not allowed to go.

I did not use the word "hunt."

Yes, you did. I have it noted down here. "Hunted" was the word used. Deputy Coburn answered Deputy Hughes by saying that, not alone is the Deputy a hypocritical humbug for talking about men being hunted to England, but he said that the Government should not prevent men from going to England. As a matter of fact, hundreds of men have been prevented, for very good reasons. None of us, I think, like to see so many going to England, or going out of the country anywhere. If we could keep them at home we would be very happy.

The question of solving the unemployment problem was very much discussed to-day, as it was the last day when the Budget statement was under discussion. I said then, and I repeat, that we have not solved the unemployment problem. We never claimed that we had solved it. We did claim that we had made very great and fairly successful efforts to solve it. Now there has been a war in progress for more than three and a half years and there is much greater unemployment than there was before that war started in 1939.

So far as one can see, if the war continues for a considerable period longer, unemployment will be still greater. But nobody in the House, when discussing the question of unemployment, faced the facts or referred to the war as an agent for promoting unemployment here, except Deputy Coburn. Deputy Coburn emphasised the fact that there was serious unemployment here, that so many men and women had left the country; but he said that he did not want to be unfair to the Government, that he realised there was a war on. Nobody except Deputy Coburn referred to that fact. The war has been responsible for a very considerable extension and increase in unemployment. We did not solve the unemployment problem before the war—there were then a good number unemployed—though we did put many tens of thousands of additional people into employment up to this and were continuing to do it; but the war put an immediate stop to that development and the unemployment problem has worsened from year to year through the absence of raw materials of a variety of kinds for our industries. The war, though—thanks be to God, we are not directly involved in it—indirectly has seriously upset the economy of this country, and, to use. Deputy Coburn's phrase, it is hypocritical humbug to talk of the unemployment situation to-day, last year or the year before, if we are not realistic and realise that there is a war on.

I was sorry to hear Deputy Coburn, considering that he had been so fair in other matters, describe the wheat scheme as a failure. The fact that we have not bread rationing is in itself a vindication of the wheat policy pursued by this Government over so many years. If we had not developed that policy long before the war and encouraged and improved it since the war began, we would probably be in a sad plight to-day without the staff of life. Therefore it is, I suggest to Deputy Coburn, very far from the truth to say that the wheat scheme has been a failure. Deputy Coburn and his family and many others in his constituency and all over the country might be very short of bread to-day if the wheat scheme had not been inaugurated, publicised, boosted and encouraged at the time it was, so that the people, despite the best efforts of the Opposition to stop it, were wheat-minded, so far as we could make them so, by the time it became necessary to provide our own staff of life.

Deputy Mulcahy, speaking on the unemployment question, suggested that the figures I gave were introduced to mislead the Dáil and the people for Party purposes. I did not start the discussion on unemployment and I did not quote any figures until Deputy Cosgrave introduced the subject. I commented on the figures he gave and gave certain figures of my own. Does Deputy Mulcahy suggest that I am the only person who is capable of using or quoting figures for Party purposes? Since when did Deputy Mulcahy become a non-Party man?

I say that when the Minister for Finance quotes the figures he quoted and attempts to put the interpretation on them which he attempts to put on them, it can only be for Party purposes.

It is very lately that Deputy Mulcahy dropped the Party and very lately, I am sure, that Deputy Cosgrave dropped the Party. I think it is pretty evident, listening to the speeches to-day, that the Party mind is in the ascendant. All the speeches I heard—and they were all delivered from Opposition Benches— were made with an eye on the constituency and on the electorate more than on this House. Not all, but the greater part of it was Party political stuff for Party political purposes. I do not object to that. There is a general election in the offing. Within the next two months, we shall have a general election and it is natural that the Party mind should be in the ascendant.

Mr. Byrne

They should be growing potatoes and minding the land instead.

We are well able to mind the land.

Mr. Byrne

And growing food.

There are no people better able to mind the land and to mind themselves as well than the agricultural people and there are no agriculturists that I know of in the world—there are certainly none in Ireland—less likely to be fooled by any statistical quotations, by any set of figures or by any Party talk than the agriculturists of this country.

Mr. Byrne

You are diverting their attention from food production to electioneering and wasting time.

They are well able to look after both—they are very capable people. I think the change suggested by Deputy Mulcahy, that is, that the financial year should run with the calendar year, would be a good and an advisable change. The difficulty is to know when to do it. I know that from all sorts of angles there would be criticism, as there is in relation to any change of such dimensions. People do not like to be disturbed in their regular habits and this has been a regular habit here since the Act of Union, and I do not think it would be welcomed, good as it might be anywhere, although people might agree in principle that it would be, as I think it would be, a good change. I know that if we proposed to make it, we would probably be inundated with protests, and, before deciding anything of the kind, it might be well to air the subject a little and hear the other side, to hear what those whom it would affect most have to say on it before coming to a decision that it would be proper to make a change of the kind. I am glad Deputy Mulcahy mentioned it—it is not the first time he mentioned it here—and if there are people, as there are, who are deeply interested in the matter, Deputy Mulcahy would like to hear their views—certainly I would—before making up our minds that such a change should be introduced.

Deputy Davin had a lot to say in criticism of the self-sufficiency policy of this Government. Even adopting that title of self-sufficiency, I am not a bit ashamed to stand over that policy and not a bit hesitant about the desirability of that policy to better the country economically, and, perhaps, financially as well. We did make big efforts to develop industry and agriculture here to make ourselves as self-sufficient as possible. We are not fools who think that this country; or any other country, can ever be 100 per cent., or anything approaching that percentage, self-sufficient. I know that this country cannot live with a wall around it, and I do not know where Deputies got that idea of building a wall around the country. I think Deputy Cogan was one of those who mentioned it, and, with all respect to Deputy Cogan and to whomever else would talk of building a wall around this country, I say it is a stupid suggestion.

Nobody ever thought that we could live without imports, without raw materials and other things. It is a fact that not alone did we speak of, but we produced, introduced and got passed here tariffs on certain imports. We did that; we do not deny it, and we will do it again, with regard to some articles even to a greater extent than perhaps we did it before. We never maintained, and never suggested even, that this country could live alone, cut off from the rest of the world. We are not stupid or foolish enough to make any suggestion of that kind.

Reference was made by a number of speakers here to shortages of potatoes, bacon, butter and eggs and we are blamed for this by Deputy Hughes and others. Deputy Hughes knows it is a fact that we are short of feeding-stuffs in the country and he did his damnedest—that is not too strong a word—to prevent this country having foodstuffs——

That is a damn lie.

——that we could produce ourselves. No man in the House so far as his influence goes—it is not very much, but so far as it goes —did more by speech to discourage anybody producing food for his own stock in this country—wheat and beet and barley and other crops. He was a vigorous, active propagandist against the wheat policy of this Government.

Do not behave like a fool. The Minister does not know what he is talking about.

He was one of the most active propagandists. Farmer though he is, he backed the Party 100 per cent. in its policy in this House. There is not a Deputy listening to me who does not know that is true. If he had his way we would be twice as short of wheat—maybe not of beet, because beet is very convenient for him and he might not say much against it. But that is so with regard to wheat and other foodstuffs.

I challenge the Minister to quote any statement of mine to that effect, and I take very strong exception to the Minister misrepresenting me on that matter. I do not think the Minister ought to misrepresent a Deputy here, and he should quote the statements made by Deputies.

The Deputy made his speech to-day and I did not interrupt him. He will have many other opportunities. I will meet him down in Carlow if he likes and have it out with him there.

Right, on a common platform. I accept the challenge and I am prepared to meet the Minister any day he likes.

I will be down in Carlow some day and I will give the Deputy notice.

That is agreed.

"Follow me up to Carlow".

It will be interesting.

There is nothing better I would ask. It would get the Deputy away from the cow's tail for one thing. I do not object to the dung on his boots—that is natural; but I object to the dung on his mouth so often. Deputy Davin challenges the Taoiseach about standing side by side with James Connolly in the fight for the political independence of the country. He did stand side by side with James Connolly, and so did others in this House and others in this Government. For social ideals, as well as the uplifting of the people of this country, some of us stood side by side with James Connolly, and we are not a bit ashamed of it. How many of the Deputies on the Labour Benches stood side by side with James Connolly on that occasion? There are many people here who stood side by side with him, not alone in the political fight, but in the social fight as well. We stood then for the ideals that he propagated, for the social betterment of the people, the ordinary common people of this country, and we stand for them to-day. We might not adopt the same methods that Deputy Davin or his colleagues would suggest as the best methods, but, as to the aims and the objects which we desire to achieve, there is no difference between what we stand for to-day and the aims and the objects, the social betterment and uplifting of our people, that James Connolly and his colleagues stood for.

Deputy Davin objects to our references to the amount spent on social services. I thought Deputy Davin and his colleagues were always of the opinion that we did not spend half enough on social services. I listened to them preaching here and I think that that was the burden of their song on most occasions. Perhaps some of our social services that we have reason to be proud of are not as generous as they might be—that I am prepared to admit—but we have to cut our cloth according to the measure, and our resources, as I stated here this day week, are not unlimited.

On the question of inflation, Deputy Davin objected to the steps we took. In principle, there is no difference between the steps we have taken to try to combat inflation and limit it, and the steps taken by other countries all over the world—in Great Britain and the United States, for example, as well as in countries that have Labour Governments, like Australia and New Zealand. These Governments have had to adopt measures similar to what we adopted and I do not know that their measures were any more effective than ours, or if they were even as effective. Inflation is a danger to be averted and, if it were allowed to grow, the first persons to feel the results would be the working classes; so that those who have the interests of the workers, the poorer classes of the community, at heart, should be the people to urge the Government to be watchful about taking all possible measures to prevent the development of inflation here.

Deputy Bennett talked about unemployment due to the lack of capital available to farmers. I am not aware that there is any lack of capital available to farmers. The difficulty with the banks is that they have millions of deposits available for agriculturists or anybody else and there is nobody to use the money. That is the problem at the present time. It is not a lack of capital—there are millions available—but there are not people anxious to use it and the money that is lying in the banks on deposit is mostly the money of the farmers.

We have provided a considerable sum for farm improvements in recent years. The amount has increased to a not inconsiderable extent in the Estimates of this year. I think that is a wise policy. It is a good thing to spend money on, and when the Minister for Agriculture asked that it should be increased this year, I was glad to accede to his request.

The farmers have shown wisdom in using that money and, within reason, whatever is required in that direction for development of agriculture and improvement of the land, will be found. It has been found and will be found.

There is one other matter I would like to refer to. Deputy Coburn and one or two others referred to the height of our taxation. Deputy Coburn says we have come to the end of our tether. I do not think that that would be exactly true. It might be necessary even to tax the people more. This much is certain, that if it had been possible to have the Bill for children's allowances introduced and passed into law, and all the arrangements for children's allowances made so that it could be operative during this financial year, I would have had to introduce measures making for additional taxation. Children's allowances is a very costly proposition. There is no use in talking of paying for it out of savings. There is less use in talking of paying for such a social service, or any social services, out of borrowings. That would be a permanent expense on the country, if and when adopted and passed here. It cannot be paid for out of borrowings and, whenever it comes to be provided for, a very heavy additional sum must be found and cannot be found in any way but taxation.

Mr. Byrne

It will be worth while.

Then the Deputy cannot complain of additional taxation.

Mr. Byrne

It will be worth while in preventing malnutrition.

It will mean probably heavy additional taxation.

Mr. Byrne

We will save it in T.B. treatment.

These are all the points, I think, that I have to refer to. However, we will be discussing the Bill again in detail in the final stages and if there is anything I have overlooked I will come back on it again, with your permission.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Thursday, 13th May, 1943.