Last night I was drawing the attention of the Minister and the Government to the fact that the 1952 Budget had caused depression in the country and had created undue hardship amongst the most lowly-paidworkers. I pointed out that that Budget was responsible for the depression that now exists in the country and for the unemployment that has reached figures never equalled since the establishment of the State. Apart from unemployment, there has been emigration. In the whole Budget debate we received only one ray of hope, which was by way of interjection by Deputy Davern, from Tipperary, who stated that, in his constituency at least, for every one that emigrated, three returned. Unfortunately for my constituency, I cannot endorse that statement. Within the last month or two even some of the Government supporters have left and have brought their wives and families with them because they were unable to secure employment in their own country. If the Minister has any doubts, he should consult his agents who will agree that what I have stated is unfortunately too true.
There is unemployment and emigration. Men are working on half-time and others are working on a week to week basis, not knowing when they will be on the dole. Then we are told by Deputies who now support the Government that some of the Opposition Deputies felt a wave of depression when they read the Minister's speech in connection with this year's Budget. Naturally, they were depressed when they realised that no concessions had been offered to the business community, that no hope had been offered to the unemployed. Of course, the members on the Government Benches and their supporters cheered and applauded the Minister loudly when he concluded his speech. They cheered and applauded the Minister for continuing a policy that has brought distress and ruin to our country; cheered and applauded a Budget that has created such hardship amongst all sections of the community. The effects of that Budget were brutal because the people did not expect it. They had hoped that Government members who had gone around the country and had met the people would have brought some influence to bear upon the Minister so that, in 1953 at least, there would be some hope that we would not continue to have 84,000 unemployed, that there would besome hope that all our younger people would not have to emigrate. It is not that our young people have any love for another country but that they have no alternative.
If Government Deputies were to go down amongst the people they would find that in the last six months the breadwinners who were formerly in employment are now separated from their families, working in another country. Wives are left to provide for the younger members of the family. The younger members of many families in County Wicklow who were formerly employed are now separated from their families and are working in another country. These are the things for a continuance of which Government Deputies applauded the Minister. This is something that they are proud of.
The Taoiseach announced that taxation had reached the limit. Deputy Allen promised his constituents in Wicklow that no further taxation would be inflicted upon the people unless something unforeseen occurred.
There is no use in talking about stability to people whose parents or whose children have gone to another country. Members of the Labour Party have been lectured here. Personal attacks have been made on a couple of them by some of the Government Deputies. At the same time, we were appealed to to support their policy. We were told by Deputies, particularly Deputy Killilea, of the good things that the Government would do, and were doing, on behalf of the labour movement. I admit that the Government have good schemes to their credit, such as widows' and orphans' pensions and children's allowances. I admit that. All these good things were pointed to by Deputy Briscoe and Deputy Killilea, but they were very silent about the fact that during one particular period they were responsible for a standstill Order which prevented the workers from receiving any increase in wages to meet the cost of living and that there was no standstill as regards the profits of employers. Large numbers made huge profits while the wages of the workerswere kept down. To-day the position is that the increase in the wages of workers in industries giving permanent employment does not meet the increased cost of living. The Government Deputies did not inform the House that in the case of county council employees the increase sanctioned by the present Government was only 2½d. a day, to meet the cost of living. Then we are told that we should not criticise the Government because of some of the things they have accomplished on behalf of the people.
I appealed to the Minister for Industry and Commerce on his Estimate to restore the £50,000 which had been taken away from the Avoca mines. I pointed out that if further unemployment was to take place in that area in addition to the large number of men who were dismissed from the Forestry Department during the last month it would be a serious matter for the people in that area. I am certain that it was not through my influence or as a result of the appeal I made to the Minister that this £50,000 has been restored in the Budget. However, no matter in what circumstances, I am glad it has been restored in order to keep the men in employment. The secretary of the men's union had been notified by the manager that a large number of men were to be dispensed with. Then a phone message was sent to the secretary stating that the dismissals had been cancelled. Apparently something happened in the meantime and the £50,000 has been restored so that the men would be kept in employment.
Unfortunately we have a very large number of unemployed in County Wicklow notwithstanding what has been stated. There was a large number of dismissals from the Forestry Department within the last month. Again, owing to the decontrol of flour milling, some men who had been employed for years in two flour mills in the county have been dismissed and others are on three-quarter time. It is only a matter of time, I suppose, until these two mills will be closed down if decontrol is continued.
The position of the old age pensionershas been mentioned. They were given the magnificent sum of 2½d. per day to meet the increased cost of living. If a shopkeeper in Bray takes compassion on an invalid old age pensioner and supplies him a half-pound of Irish butter he is threatened with prosecution and with having his licence taken from him. It is a nice state of affairs in an agricultural country that a shopkeeper will lose his business if he is found supplying a poor person with half a pound of Irish butter. He must supply the New Zealand butter.
I believe that our representatives in this country should get together and come to a united policy on the question of restoring agriculture to its proper place. There were thousands of tons of fertiliser in stock when the inter-Party Government went out of office and the Government have now put on a 50 per cent. tariff and are charging the farmers 50 per cent. more for every ton of fertiliser which they require. The result is that less fertiliser is being purchased and, therefore, you cannot have a proper yield from the crops.
When the inter-Party Government were in power the old age pensioners could get their butter at 2/10 a lb. The price to-day is 4/2 for the New Zealand butter which they are unable to eat. Bread was 6½d. per two pound loaf; to-day it is 8¼d. and we are now threatened with a further increase. Tea was 2/8 a lb. and it is now 5/-. Sugar was 4½d. a lb. and is now 7d. Flour was 2/8 a stone and it is now 4/6. All these increases have taken place notwithstanding the promises made to Independent Deputies by the Fianna Fáil Party in their 17 point programme that they would not interfere with the food subsidies. The Fianna Fáil Party promised that if they were elected as the Government they would maintain the subsidies and keep food cheap so as to enable the people to purchase more food than formerly. The position to-day is that less food is being consumed by the poorer sections and the Government have reduced the purchasing power of a large section of the people.
Why has all this happened? We were told that it was necessary in order to balance the Budget. The inter-Party Government were charged with squandermania. Last night a Fianna Fáil Deputy—I am sure he must have embarrassed the Minister—pointed out that this was the most unpopular Budget ever introduced. At the same time he went out of his way to launch an attack upon an ex-Minister for carrying out State business in another country. He wanted to make a cheap cross-roads speech by pointing out what it cost. I am sure the Minister will agree that any Minister who has the responsibility of doing State business abroad does not take it on lightheartedly. He goes there at great inconvenience to himself, recognising that he has to do his best for the country. He comes back here a poorer man because the Department of Finance is not over-generous in the allowances which they make to Ministers or Deputies who have to travel on State business. Deputy Killilea himself must agree that when he was in Strasbourg he came back a poorer man than when he went there because the Irish delegates receive the smallest allowance given to the representatives of any European country.