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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 26 Oct 1955

Vol. 153 No. 1

Cost-of-Living Increase—Motion.

Mr. Lemass

I move:—

That the Government, by reason of its failure to prevent the increase in the cost of living, has lost the confidence of Dáil Éireann.

I wish to direct the attention of Deputies and particularly Deputies on the other side of the House, to the wording of this motion. It refers to the failure of the Government to prevent the increase in the cost of living. Everybody knows that the present Government claimed to have the ability and the intention to effect a reduction in the cost of living. Every Deputy sitting behind the Government owes his position in this House to the pledges which he gave to his constituents to bring about a reduction in the cost of living. The pledges given in that regard, individually and collectively, had a profound influence on the result of the general election of last year. I am sure that Deputies opposite have not yet forgotten them completely. If there is any likelihood that they have so forgotten them, reminding them of them will be a duty as well as a pleasure.

The Coalition Parties campaigned prior to the election of last year in every part of the country for the purpose of propagating two falsehoods; first, that the cost of living was rising unnecessarily and unduly by reason of the policy of the Fianna Fáil Government, and, secondly, that they could reverse that process and reduce the general level of prices. These statements were made unequivocally. No Deputy in any Coalition Party during the course of that campaign thought it adequate to use the mealy-mouthed phrase of the Taoiseach's amendment to my motion. They did not confine themselves to promising to make every effort to control increases in the cost of living "so far as the circumstances permitted".

They made prices the main issue in the election, and, on that issue, they won the election and when the contest was over and when the result was known, when the representatives of the Coalition Parties met to bargain about ministerial offices and to agree upon some programme for their administration, they issued a statement in which they admitted that the cost of living had been the main issue in the election—a statement covering many matters of public interest, but containing this, in particular, in paragraph 2:—

"Recognising that the main issue in the general election was the question of prices, the Parties forming the Government are determined to reduce the cost of living in relation to people's incomes and, in particular, to effect a reduction in the prices of essential foodstuffs."

That statement was issued after the election, on June 1st, before the Government was constituted. I direct the attention of Deputies opposite to these pre-election pledges which they made and the post-election statement they issued in conjunction with the terms of this motion.

This motion does not ask the Dáil to condemn the Government for failing to reduce the cost of living. It asks the Dáil to condemn the Government for their failure to prevent its increase. This motion is what is called a motion of confidence. It asks the Dáil to declare that it has no longer any confidence in the Government on that issue. It is probable that the confidence of those whose votes sent members of the Government here and a majority of Deputies to support them, in the expectation of a reduction in the cost of living, has long since evaporated.

In fact, the Taoiseach's amendment, stripped of its verbiage, is an indication that the Government is throwing in the sponge on this issue of prices. When the electorate understands its significance, the last remnant of hope of securing any of the benefits that were promised from a Coalition Government will have disappeared. This motion is not directed to the ordinary men and women in the constituencies. They have not got a chance of voting on this motion—not yet, anyhow.

This motion is directed to members of the Dáil. We put it down because we thought that there might be, sitting behind the Government, some Deputies who honestly believed, prior to May, 1954, that a reduction in the cost of living by Government action was possible, or that there might be others amongst them who, though they may have doubted the practicability of doing it, nevertheless, were led into that campaign in the belief that it was good election tactics, without foreseeing what the consequences of that campaign could be. If there are, sitting opposite us, Deputies of either class; if there are there Deputies who honestly believed what they said about prices, when seeking election, and who honestly meant the promises which they gave to bring about a reduction in prices or if there are Deputies there who, while having some doubts, nevertheless thought that promising a reduction in prices was good election tactics and could have no other result except to put a Coalition Government in office, then they have a chance on this motion of retrieving their position.

The question arises for them whether they are prepared, in the light of the circumstances which have now developed, to continue to have confidence in that Government, a Government which has proved itself wrong, first, in promising something which it could not do, and, secondly, in not foreseeing the consequences of making these promises on the scale they did. Every Deputy, when he comes to cast his vote on this motion, will have to remember that he must subsequently defend that vote before the people who sent him here.

During the course of the past year we had various debates on prices on motions, and amendments to Bills, submitted from this side of the House. I do not deny that in submitting those motions or amendments we here were inspired mainly by the political motive of exposing the dishonesty of the campaign which had been directed against the Fianna Fáil Government during the general election. We were not trying to outbid the Coalition Parties in the matter of promises about prices. We knew quite well that the Government could not do what these motions and amendments asked them to do. We knew they could not be accepted by the Government notwithstanding their promises. We did not expect them to accept them but we did think that they would tell the Dáil why they could not accept them. We thought they would use the opportunities given them to explain to the House why it was that the various reductions in prices or taxes which were proposed could not be implemented.

We even failed in that because, as Deputies will remember, we did not get from any member of the Government during any of these debates a clear statement of the reasons why the Government was asking the House to reject these proposals. In each case the House was led along with the suggestion that time was not long enough and that in due course these benefits would be conferred on the public. "Give us time," they said, "and all our promises will be fulfilled."

The general election of 1954 is now more or less ancient history as also are the tactics which won that election for the Coalition Parties, but the consequences of the campaign which they conducted during that election are still with us. They are very much with us to-day. The votes which were given to the members of the House supporting the Government cannot now be withdrawn. For good or ill, as a result of that election, this Coalition Government is in power and is responsible for national policy and for the direction of public affairs. They can stay in office for their full statutory term if they so desire, so long as they are supported by a majority in this House, no matter how disillusioned or indignant those who sent them here may now be.

It is in relation to that Government, holding office with a majority in this House, carrying all the responsibilities which any Government in office must hold, that we ask the Deputies to consider this motion. Our purpose in putting down this motion and asking for time to debate it early in the present session is to attempt once and for all, if possible, to end this whole sordid episode in Irish political development. We are trying, if we can, to force the Government to be honest with the people. We are trying to get them to tell the people of this country the truth about prices. We want them to face up to the situation which their irresponsible campaign about prices has created; to say how they propose to protect the country, its economy and the welfare of its people against the situation which is now developing as a result of that campaign.

In the election of 1954, the Fianna Fáil Party determined to be honest with the people no matter what the result of the election might be. During the course of a broadcast speech which I made prior to the election, I said this:—

"Fianna Fáil, whether it wins or loses, will face the people with an honest policy. Whether people think we were a good Government or a bad one, we tried to be an honest one."

Every speaker who went out from Fianna Fáil, every canvasser in every constituency who was a member of a Fianna Fáil cumann and who went out to solicit votes for a candidate, was instructed to say to those who raised with them this issue of prices which the Coalition Parties had made the main issue in the election, that the Government's power to control prices in conditions of full supply and normal trading was very slight, that a Government might bring down some prices through subsidies, by increasing other prices through the counter-balancing in taxation, but that its power to influence the general price level was exceedingly limited.

We tried to explain to the people that prices could not fall unless the costs making up prices fell. When costs were rising—the costs of imported materials used in production, the costs of primary products purchased from Irish producers, the costs of wages paid to Irish workers— general prices could not fall. We told our canvassers to tell the people that the Government could not effectively control the prices paid for materials and supplies which had to be imported and that we did not believe in endeavouring to rectify the price situation by reducing the prices paid to producers or the wages paid to workers.

On that basis we lost the election. The truth was not strong enough to overtake the falsehoods which the Coalition Party spokesmen were spreading or to counter the campaign initiated by the Coalition Parties directed towards drilling into the minds of the people the idea that price levels were under Government control absolutely, that prices rose only when the Government decided they should rise and that these prices could always be reduced by Government decision. That campaign won the election for the Coalition Parties; that was the idea they set out to propagate and they succeeded in convincing a majority of the people that any rise in prices which had occurred during the period of office of the Fianna Fáil Government was attributable solely to the policy of that Government and that it could be reversed again by another Government with another policy.

They inserted in every national newspaper advertisements designed to secure acceptance of that idea I shall quote as an example of these advertisements in the national newspapers one which appeared in the Evening Mail of May 14th, 1954:—

"Here are the prices in each of the two years. How much extra do these cost you every week?"

And then in heavy type appeared this:—

"Every one of these prices is due to deliberate Government action."

That was the idea——

Read it out; let us see what the increases were.

Mr. Lemass

The Minister will have an opportunity of speaking in this debate later and perhaps he will wait until then. I admit the Government did succeed in selling to the people that idea that the general level of prices was a matter determined by Government policy and that it was the policy of Fianna Fáil to let prices rise, that it would be the policy of a Coalition Government to reduce these prices—that a Coalition Government would have the power to reduce them. Consequently, every price change has become a matter for political debate. If people believe prices are under Government control and can be reduced by Government decision—that they only rise when a Government so decides—then it is the members of the present Administration who are solely responsible for that belief because it is they who propagated that fallacy. Consequently they have bedevilled the whole of our political discussions here.

This motion refers to the failure of the Government which said it had the power and the intention to bring about a reduction in prices and if this debate produces nothing else except an outbreak of honesty and frankness among the members of the Government, it will have served a useful purpose and will have made an important contribution towards the completion of the political education of the Irish people. But that outbreak of frankness and honesty must not be confined to this House. If we can provoke such an outbreak in the House it is up to the Deputies supporting the Government to go back to the constituencies in which they made these pledges and statements and to explain to those whom they have misled the truth about prices, about what has caused prices to go up and what will make it possible for them to fall.

I think they will find it very difficult to get that idea into the minds of those people to whom they pledged the contrary a very short while ago. In any event, I find it not easy to imagine any outbreak of tumultuous cheering when these Deputies forgo their former fiery oratory and explain that the Government is making every effort to control increases in so far as circumstances permit it. I notice that some newspaper correspondents have described this motion as a political manoeuvre. We did not table it primarily as a political manoeuvre; our aim is to provoke, if possible, a serious discussion on what threatens to become a serious situation and to get the Government to take that situation seriously and to speak seriously about it.

In the very unlikely event of this motion being carried—in the unlikely event of some change in the alignment of forces in this Dáil bringing about a Government defeat and the election of a new Government—the new Government elected would have as much power as the present Government to bring about a reduction in the cost of living. And I will say this, if it brings any comfort to the Coalition Deputies or to the members of the Government, or if it will help to minimise the political atmosphere of the debate, that we in Fianna Fáil know of no method by which a general reduction in price levels could be achieved in the immediate future. But now that the Government have realised their powerlessness to control the forces which affect prices, will they not face facts at last? Will they not consider how Government policy can best be adapted to minimising the consequences of the present situation on the national economy? That is what we are asking them to do in this motion.

The most serious aspect of the present situation is the attitude of the Government towards it. I have read the reports of speeches which were made by Ministers on various occasions during the Dáil Recess. I have heard of more irresponsible speeches made by some of them, which were not reported. The reported speeches were not merely read by those who are interested in politics; they were read also by business leaders and trade union leaders, all of them seeking some guidance as to the Government's viewpoint or the Government's intentions. All they found was an undue concern with the political consequences of the development; all they found was that the Government members were seeking to evade the political penalties attaching to their failure to redeem their election pledges. Indeed, Ministers are still actively propagating the fallacy that the general level of prices is determined by Government policy and that prices are under Government control absolutely. Members have gone around seeking to excuse the increase in prices which has taken place during their administration by asking: By how much more would prices have increased if Fianna Fáil were in office? By how much would they have increased during the past month if this motion had not been put down?

The Minister for Education has described this motion as obstruction. Is there any more important matter that this Dáil on reassembly could discuss than the increase in prices which has taken place, the further increase that is threatened, and the consequences of that increase upon the whole national position? The Minister for Education described this motion as an interruption of public business. What more important business has the Government to bring before the Dáil in this session——

The Lotteries Bill.

Mr. Lemass

——than this question of the rise in prices? Is it not preposterous that any member of that Government should talk of an interruption of public business when here, upon the Order Paper of the Dáil, we have no less than nine Bills, the First Readings of which were sought by the Government three months ago and which have not been yet circulated? Is there any member of the Government doing any work? I presume there are in the Government, and perhaps seated behind the Government, some Deputies who appreciate the importance of the rise in prices and of costs generally which is now taking place and the further rise which appears to be inevitable in the near future; and I am sure they will agree with me that the consequences of these increases may be far more important than are the political futures of any member of the Government, or, indeed, of any of us.

The effect of the Government's failure to deal with this situation, to produce any policy or express any viewpoint upon it threatens the whole economic position, threatens the stability of employment, threatens the country's capacity to maintain exports into competitive markets, and threatens to complicate still further the already serious balance of payments position. This is a matter upon which the Government of the day, irrespective of who is in it, must have some policy and some viewpoint. Now that they have, as the Taoiseach's amendment declares, abandoned the pretence that they can, through their actions and decisions, reduce the cost of living, are we not entitled to ask: Does that mean that they are throwing in their hand altogether and propose to do nothing but sit back and let the situation develop as it may?

I said earlier that during the election campaign the Coalition propagandists sought to establish two fallacies. The first was that the cost of living was under the control of the Government absolutely and could be pushed up or pulled down by a Government decision. The second was that under the Fianna Fáil Administration prices were rising unnecessarily and unduly. That was not true. It is true that prices rose universally after the outbreak of the Korean War. They were rising rapidly during the latter months of the first Coalition Government. They were rising rapidly when the Fianna Fáil Government took over in 1951. It was not until 1953 that price stability was restored. But it was restored in 1953. The efforts of the Coalition propagandists to convince the people during the year 1953 and early in 1954 that they were in a situation of rapidly rising prices promoted this desire amongst all sections of our people, a desire which is still evident, to grasp what they could in compensation for that rise in prices, to get better prices for farm produce, more profits and more wages; and it was the efforts of the members of the present Government in preaching that untruth and getting that untruth accepted by the majority of the people which has produced the false outlook now prevalent amongst so many sections of our community.

I said that price stability was restored in 1953. In May, 1952, the cost-of-living index number stood at 126. By November, 1953, it had fallen to 125 and by May of 1954 it had fallen to 124. Not merely was there stability of prices during the whole of the 12 months which preceded the general election, in so far as the consumer price index reveals the true price situation, but there was during that period a slight fall. Fianna Fáil left office in May, 1954. In August, 1954, when the present Government was in office, the cost-of-living index number had risen again to 126. By May, 1955, it had risen to 127; it is now 128.

These are not very serious fluctuations. We asked that the Dáil be given an opportunity now to discuss this rise in prices before the rise has gone very far because we felt that it was desirable that there should be a statement of Government policy and that the viewpoint of Deputies, who, only 12 months ago, were preaching the possibility of a reduction in prices, should be reviewed and expressed afresh.

I stated here on many occasions in 1952 and 1953, as Minister for Industry and Commerce and as spokesman of the Fianna Fáil Government, that it was our aim, in so far as the Government could contribute to it, to bring about stability of prices. I argued with Deputies, who are now seated opposite, in favour of stability as against a reduction. I said that the national interest was better served in a situation in which the price level was stable than it would be in a situation in which prices were fluctuating either downwards or upwards. But the Deputies opposite would not even admit that a position of stability had been secured by the end of 1953. They denied the validity of the official statistics. They went around telling the people that no matter what the official statistics said prices were going up rapidly. They created the mentality which is now so evident, the mentality which is having the consequences to which I have already referred and to which I shall refer again later.

What about 1947?

Mr. Lemass

Let us stick for the moment to 1953. I will now read a quotation from a speech which was made in 1953. I will tell the House later who made it, and on what occasion. This is the quotation:—

"What are the facts about price stability to-day? Can anybody deny that prices are higher to-day than they have ever been in the past 30 years? Do the Government's figures issued by the Central Statistics Office not prove that the prices of commodities to-day are higher than they were in 1923, 30 years ago? Does everybody not know to-day that prices are higher in Ireland than at any time in living memory?"

That speech was delivered by the present Minister for Industry and Commerce here in the Dáil on 10th November, 1953 on the Supplies and Services Bill, and it will be found in Volume 142 of the Official Report, column 1711. When I was noting that quotation from the speech of the then Deputy Norton, I found further down the column another quotation which although perhaps not relevant to my remarks at this moment I cannot fail to quote: same volume, same column, same date, same Deputy:—

"We have another privilege to-day, of course, masquerading under the euphemism of price stability, that the people are now paying 5/- a lb. for 2/8 tea. They have been paying that 5/- a lb. for it for the past 16 months and now they are told to cheer up, to forget their wounds and their sorrows because we have reached price stability, which takes the form of having to pay 5/- a lb. for 2/8 tea."

We are all awaiting eagerly to hear the present Minister for Industry and Commerce tell the people how they are to cheer up now that they have to pay 7/- for the 2/8 tea. That speech of the present Minister was typical of the speeches delivered up and down the country at that time. The Deputies of the Coalition Parties went around deliberately peddling discontent—that was the phrase I used at the time and I repeat it now. They did it for the most sordid and base Party purposes.

The rise in prices which has taken place since they became the Government, the increase in the cost of living to which this motion refers, was not very considerable—a four points rise since May, 1954, a two points rise since May, 1953, a 3 per cent. increase in the cost of living, for those who prefer to have the position expressed in percentages. But that slight rise in prices, linked with the recollection of the statements made by the Coalition Ministers, the idea which they had drilled into the minds of the people that prices were all rising out of control and their promise to make the position of the people better by reducing prices and increasing the purchasing power of the worker's pay packet, has produced all the industrial unrest which is now evident. I do not think there is any trade union leader who has attempted to claim that the increases in wages which are now being sought and obtained are strictly related to the increases in the cost of living as shown by the Official Index since the last round of wage increases.

No standstill Order anyway.

Mr. Lemass

Many workers, however, share the belief that those increases are not more than sufficient to compensate them for the rapid rise in the cost of living which Coalition Deputies were telling them was taking place. I know that many union leaders do not claim that their present demands are related to the cost-of-living index number at all. They are based upon the desire of some workers, those who can, to improve their position relative to the community as a whole. But all this present movement in prices started from the disappointment which was widespread amongst wage earners and amongst leaders of wage earners over the Government's failure to redeem their promises, to give, as they said in every speech and proclaimed from every hoarding in the country, better times through lower prices and lower taxes.

I am going to quote some of the reasons advanced by responsible trade union leaders for the wage demands which are now being dealt with or have been dealt with in many occupations. Mr. John Conroy, President of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, speaking at Limerick last February said this:—

"The position cannot be contained much longer, and we are entitled to ask the Government and their advisers a simple straightforward question and have a clear and definite answer to our question, which is—can and will the retail prices of essential articles be reduced forthwith? If the answer to this question is a negative one—and in the absence of an early answer we must assume it is ‘No'—then workers and the trade unions have no alternative but to take action to bring wage rates into line with the purchasing requirements of wage earners and their families."

Mr. Conroy and other trade union leaders had in mind, of course, the declaration made by the members of the Government after they knew they had won the election and before they had taken up their administrative duties and based upon the recognition that the main issue in the general election was the question of prices, of their determination to reduce the cost of living and particularly to reduce the prices of essential foodstuffs. A most significant feature of this year's developments was the appreciation shown by many of the workers' leaders that higher wages are not necessarily the best answer to rising prices, or a permanent answer.

Mr. J. Brannigan, General Secretary to the Irish Seamen and Port Workers' Union, speaking on behalf of the Central Council of the Congress of Irish Unions on March 28th, said that they realised that unless there was real control of prices, all wage adjustments were futile. It was not enough to secure certain wage standards. It was more important to see that they were not nullified by having wage values reduced by rising prices.

Mr. W.J. Fitzpatrick, General Secretary of the Irish Union of Distributive Workers and Clerks, speaking on May 7th said: "Prices are not coming down despite all the talk, clamour and recrimination in political circles."

Mr. Rory Johnson, President of the Civil Service Clerical Association, said on March 29th that because their hopes of a fall in prices were not being realised they would have to unite with outside trade unionists to seek to ease their situation.

On May 9th the Connolly Commemoration Meeting in Dublin, under the auspices of the Dublin Trades Council, passed a resolution calling on the Government to implement their pledges and reduce the cost of essential commodities.

On June 17th Mr. J. Keenan, of the Executive Council of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, said that the union had delayed starting a national campaign for wage increases to give the Coalition Government a chance to bring down the cost of living. Neither the Government nor the employers had availed of that opportunity, and so the Congress of Irish Unions had been left with no alternative but to terminate the 1952 wage agreement.

I could multiply these quotations many times. I have deliberately refrained from quoting any statement made by trade union leaders who are also Deputies. They will have an opportunity of stating their position during this debate. It is becoming clear now that the organised workers of the country, to whom one section of the Coalition Government appealed particularly before the election, have realised that their pledges to reduce prices are worthless. That is the main reason for the present wage movement. Nobody will deny the right of workers to protect themselves through their organisations in a situation in which they feel that their standard of living is being undermined by rising prices, or to seek to improve their standard of living——

You denied them that right with your standstill Order.

Deputy O'Leary will cease interrupting.

Mr. Lemass

——or to endeavour to obtain through their own actions the benefits which the Government in office promised would come to them through Government policy. What forecast will the Government make now about future price trends? Will they hold out any prospect of a reduction in prices? Will they give the people of this country the slightest basis for believing that prices can be brought back again to the 1954 level, that prices can be brought back to the level at which they were when they came into office in May of last year? They promised to bring back prices to the 1952 level. Deputy Norton talked about the 1923 level. Can they give any hope of getting them back to the 1954 level?

Wages are rising and other costs are rising also. It seems very probable, therefore, that this upward movement in prices will continue and will, in fact, accelerate in pace. It is true that the increases in wages which were secured in 1952 by most workers were absorbed in the following year without any increase in prices. The cost-of-living index figures for 1953 which I have quoted show that there was, in fact, no upward movement in prices in that year; rather was there a slight tendency for prices to fall. That ability of productive industry to absorb the wage increases of that year was due to greater productivity and to some extent a cutting back of profits. I do not think it is likely that that process can be repeated. I know that some trade union leaders have spoken about the possibility of the present wage increases being absorbed in prices without an increase in prices. I do not think that is going to happen generally. Every management board in the country is now meeting to take the same decision that the C.I.E. board took last week. It is true they have not all got C.I.E.'s monopoly position, they cannot always be certain of making effective any price increase on which they may decide, a price increase required to offset in full the wage increases secured by their employees; but to the extent that they can make an increase effective it is almost certain that increases will follow.

What effect are those increases in prices, this general rising of costs which is now taking place, going to have upon the level of consumption, the level of employment, our ability to maintain, much less to expand, our exports, our ability to meet the difficulty arising from the deficit in international payments? Have the Government any views on that question, have they any policy to put before the House for mitigating that position? Again, I do not want to be taken as suggesting that this is a matter for the Government alone. It is not. If the higher wages which are being secured by some workers are to be of real benefit to them, if they are not to be negatived in time by a further upsurge in prices or by growing unemployment, then there must be a concerted effort by all who are concerned in any aspect of production to endeavour to avoid that consequence.

I know that increasing the output of individual workers—increasing productivity, as it is called—is much more a matter of the efficiency of the equipment provided and of the management which directs them, than of the efforts of individual workers. The trade unions have, nevertheless, an important part to play, particularly in getting the importance of productivity understood by individual workers. I know that Irish trade unions may regard that as an unusual role for them to take, but it is a role which trade unions in other countries have been taking in increasing degree. In the United States of America it is common practice for a trade union which finds that any particular business concern is unable to continue making a profit while paying the high wage rates established, to employ—and to insist on their utilisation—efficiency experts who can make that position right.

I would advise all Deputies to read the very valuable and informative report published by a delegation from the Trade Union Congress which went to America and examined the position there. The report was published by the Government and is available to Deputies in the Library. In it they referred to the attitude of trade unions to industrial efficiency, the realisation that existed amongst the leaders of American unions that it was only through maintaining and continuously improving the efficiency of industry that high wage rates could be maintained and could be made of real benefit to the recipients and not offset by rising prices. If the higher wage rates which many workers are now securing are to be of real and permanent benefit to them, then it is the concern of everybody, including the trade unions, that measures to prevent any increase in prices, any avoidable increase in prices, should be adopted. I would like to see trade unions and employers' representatives getting together on that issue.

Perhaps there will be some time in the minds of the Government a realisation of the importance of what I tried to do away back in 1947 when I brought in legislation here for the establishment of industrial councils at which these problems could be discussed. That Bill, I know, was opposed by the Fine Gael Party. It was supported at the time by the Labour Party, but the first Coalition Government killed it. Perhaps there will be some hope yet that it will be revived.

I do not know if the Government fully realise the cynicism and the sense of disillusionment amongst the public which their attitude has provoked. That widespread disillusionment, that growing sense of frustration, the air of cynicism, are almost certain to be increased by the amendment which the Government thought fit to move to my motion. I want to say a few words about that amendment—and they will be very few. We tried to secure through this motion a Dáil debate upon the prices issue. The Government by this amendment are seeking to evade that debate. Why? What section of their supporters do they think will not fall into line on a straight vote upon the increase in the cost of living? Why do they think it necessary to produce this ballyhoo amendment, designed to turn the debate into a political free-for-all, to widen the scope of the debate and make anything relevant, and so conceal the prices issue by these irrelevancies. That is what this amendment is designed to do. The tacticians of the Coalition Party got together and asked themselves: "How can we prevent a single debate and a single vote on the question of prices; how can we turn this debate into a general political jamboree, so that nobody will be asked to vote clearly on the question of confidence in the Government on the issue of prices?" That is what this amendment was concocted for.

This amendment is based upon a falsity. Read the amendment. It alleges that the increases in the cost of living which have taken place have been mitigated by increases in agricultural and industrial earnings. That is not true. It is not true unless the Government consider that only the wage earners who are organised in trade unions are to be regarded as the people of Ireland. Do they not understand that more than half the occupied population of this country are not wage earners at all? What increase have they got? What increase is it proposed to give them? Have all trade unionists got increases? The Government amendment requires them to answer that question. What about that very large body of workers who are not organised in trade unions? What information has the Government got about increases secured by them, if any of them got increases?

If the Government are claiming the credit or the responsibility for the increases in wages that have taken place during the past few weeks, will they tell us precisely what they did to bring those increases about? What lead did they give? They themselves are the biggest employers in the country. What increase did any of their employees get to offset the increase in the cost of living which they now admit? What about the social welfare beneficiaries? The very meagre increase that was given to the old age pensioners some time ago barely offset the effect of the rise in the cost of living which had taken place since the original rate was fixed.

If there is to be a further increase in the cost of living and all the indications are that there will be, and probably a substantial one, then these social welfare beneficiaries cannot be left out. These are people who are living upon the barest minimum allowances that will keep them in existence. They have no margin by which to absorb higher prices. Any increase in the cost of living must be offset by revised rates and not merely for old age pensioners but for all those who are dependent upon their social welfare payments for their livelihood. A worker may for a time be able to withstand an increase in the cost of living by drawing on savings or cutting down his standard of living. These social welfare people have no such margin. If there is any intention on the part of the Government to ensure through their action that the effect of the increase in the cost of living will be mitigated so far as all our people are concerned, then proposals relating to the various social welfare schemes must be submitted to the Dáil and submitted without delay.

Is it Government policy now to let prices rip and to let costs and taxes rip after them regardless of the consequences? Have they worked out what the consequences of that policy may be? If they have I think they have a duty to inform the Dáil and to inform the country. I, however, do not intend to follow the Government's diversion into a debate upon their amendment. We have challenged the Government here in our motion on their failure to implement their election pledges about prices, to do what they said they could and would do, effect a reduction in the cost of living. The Government can by various devices dodge a clear debate and a clear vote upon that issue in this House but they will not be able to dodge it elsewhere.

I have asked them what forecast they will make concerning future price trends. I want to ask them specifically what further price increases they have decided upon. We have had to-day an announcement that as from to-day the price of tea is to be increased by 2/- a lb. I think the scale of the announced increase has shocked the public. A number of people may have expected some increase in the price of tea. Nobody expected an increase amounting to 2/- per lb. Only a few weeks ago members of the Government, the Minister for Health in particular, were going around the country defending their failure in relation to price policy by asking the question I have already quoted: By how much would prices have gone up under a Fianna Fáil Government? They alleged that if there had been a Fianna Fáil Government the price of tea would have increased by 1/4 a lb. In numerous speeches they suggested that the difference between the economic price and the actual price was 1/4 a lb. Where did the other 8d. come from? Is this what the tea consumers have now to pay in interest to the banks because of the Government's borrowing from the banks? Or have they got some idea that by increasing the price of tea now more than is necessary they can reduce it a few pence later and claim credit for that reduction?

Where did this 8d. come from? I invite the Minister for Industry and Commerce, the Taoiseach or whoever is going to speak for the Government to make up the total of the 2/- by which they have announced the price of tea is to be increased and increased over the 1954 price. The price at which tea was sold yesterday was the same price at which it was sold under the Fianna Fáil Government in 1954 without subsidy and without loss. That was the price that they said was too high. That was the price they said they were going to reduce, reduce, if I may remind them, to the 1952 level, the 2/8d. tea that the present Minister for Industry and Commerce was talking about as late as November, 1953.

Did Fianna Fáil not increase it to 6/-?

Mr. Lemass

Five shillings. Those are not the only prices under consideration at the moment. The Minister for Industry and Commerce told the House to-day in reply to a question that he has reports from the Prices Advisory Body on his desk dealing with cigarettes, tobacco, beer, porter, stout and whiskey and he is expecting reports dealing with coal and gas. He said nothing about bread. The following is a report that appeared in the Cork Examiner on Monday, 24th October, 1955:—

"Price increases in tea, coal, cigarettes, tobacco, beer and spirits, were forecast by Mr. T.A. Kyne, T.D. When he addressed the annual meeting of the Clonmel Branch of the Labour Party. He give an assurance, however, that if these increases should occur, the Labour Party would see to it that there would be no restrictions on trade unions seeking compensating wage increases...."

There is nothing wrong with that.

Mr. Lemass

As Deputy O'Leary says, there is nothing wrong in that but it did happen that there appeared in the Munster Express on the 14th May last year an advertisement which said: “The Labour Party stand for reductions in the price of bread, butter, tea and sugar. Vote No. 1 Kyne.” I am not quoting that particular advertisement for the special embarrassment of Deputy Kyne. He said no more than every other Deputy opposite said and as one by one they stand up to defend the increase in prices which the Government has now effected, the appropriate quotation will be publicised.

We invite the Government to tell the House what they propose to do regarding these commodities concerning which applications for authority from them to increase prices are under consideration. They have three alternatives, as I see it. Firstly, they have the alternative of refusing to increase prices on matter what the consequences; secondly, they have the alternative of permitting these prices to rise to whatever extent they consider to be reasonable; and thirdly, they have the alternative of preventing increases by means of subsidies or in the case of spirits, beer and tobacco, by cutting taxes.

Personally, I do not think that the first alternative is open to them. They cannot just refuse to act upon recommendations from the Prices Advisory Body to permit price increases where these price increases are justified by higher costs, higher wages or dearer materials. They cannot force back the increases in wages which some workers have secured or deny other workers, such as the bakery workers, increases related to those which workers in other trades have secured. They cannot force any private firm to continue in business at a loss. To the extent that rising costs justify rising prices, they have to permit those rising prices, if they do not decide to offset them by means of subsidy. If, then, as their amendment suggests, they are thinking of dealing with this situation by permitting price increases and by giving the green light to every section of the community to compensate itself for these increases by getting more out of the community to resources, have they considered fully what the consequences of that policy will be, what the effect is likely to be upon the country's future ability to maintain the present level of employment, the present standard of living of its people?

It is inevitable that, when present costs are fully reflected in prices, prices will be higher still. Are we starting now this spiralling process of wages chasing prices and never catching up with them? Is that the Government's solution for our difficulty? And, if they accept the view that I have argued, that there can be no delay in compensating the social welfare beneficiaries for any significant increase in the cost of living, on the basis that they have no margin to carry that increase, then how do they propose to finance that responsibility, what additional taxes are they contemplating for the purpose of raising the necessary revenue?

The third alternative is subsidy. I said here in the last speech I made before the summer recess that in regard to tea I thought Coalition Deputies and Ministers had talked themselves into a position in which they could do nothing else but subsidise tea. They went around telling the country that they had subsidised tea, that they had kept down the price of tea by means of Government subsidy. Was that true or was it not true? If it was true, why is this 2/- increase now necessary? If it was not true, what apology are they going to make to the people whom they misled?

I had thought, indeed, that the whole situation was likely to be met by some series of proposals by the Government to apply subsidies. I thought that, not because I regarded it as necessarily the best course to take but because it was the course which an important section of the Government indicated would be taken. It was, as far as we knew from published statements, the policy of the Labour Party, announced in the election, to effect a reduction in prices by means of applying subsidies. Deputy Norton, the present Minister for Industry and Commerce, addressing his constituents in Kilcullen, County Kildare, on the 13th March, 1954, said that if an inter-Party Government was set up following the election, the Labour Party would strive to secure a reduction of prices of food and other commodities even if this involved resorting to subsidies. Has the Government decided against that course? Has the Labour Party abandoned its policy? What action does the Government propose to take in regard to these price increases in prospect in relation to the very commodities that they named as being commodities which were overpriced and in respect of which reductions were possible?

If the Government does decide upon a policy of dealing with the situation by subsidies then, whether we like it or not, the price of every one of these commodities will become a matter of political debate. The Government will be taking to itself the main control over their prices and over the wages of the workers engaged in their production. Every change in these prices will have political consequences. That is why one of the arguments against a policy of subsidisation, that it brings into the political arena many issues which are not rightly there at all.

The Government must decide something. It was evident for many weeks past from the rumours which were circulating in Leinster House that the Government were deadlocked over the tea situation. They have resolved that deadlock. Perhaps it was the tabling of this motion which forced them to reach agreement on some basis, even if it was the wrong basis. They cannot keep silent all the time. They must in this debate get up and speak, speak their policy if they are agreed upon a policy, make their apology if they have the manliness to do it, to the people whom they misled by their lower prices campaign, and give their explanation, because it is important that there should be an explanation to the people of the forces that operate on prices and why it is that they have been unable to control them.

I second the motion.

I move the amendment which is set out on the Order Paper:—

To delete all words after "That" and to insert:—

"Dáil Éireann is of the opinion that the Government has made every effort to control, so far as circumstances permitted, increases in the cost of living and that the effect on the standard of living of our people of any unavoidable increases has been mitigated by the increases in industrial and agricultural earnings and by the beneficial results of general Government policy in restoring public confidence, in increasing employment and decreasing unemployment, in improving business activity and in the expansion of industrial and agricultural production.—(An Taoiseach, An Tánaiste, An tAire Oideachais, An tAire Tailte.)

We have listened to Deputy Lemass talk in this House this evening for one and a quarter hours and we have listened to a very brazen speech. The Deputy now asks the Government to apologise for, as he alleges, some of the promises which it made and which it did not fulfil. If Deputy Lemass were to be asked to apologise for all the promises which he made and did not fulfil the Deputy would be on his knees for the rest of his life—the promise to bring back the emigrants, the promises to do a thousand and one things that were made during the Fianna Fáil period of office. These promises were lightly disregarded and the Deputy has the brazen audacity to make the type of speech which he made here this evening.

Perhaps the brazenness of that speech is best highlighted by a quotation from Deputy de Valera. Deputy Lemass this evening seeks to shed crocodile tears for people who are living on social welfare benefits. Let us hear Deputy de Valera on social welfare benefits. Speaking at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis, as reported in the newspapers of the 13th of last October, Deputy de Valera used these words:

"In regard to social services Fianna Fáil had kept to the middle of the road. The means must be there to meet increases in social services. Otherwise, the whole nation would be crippled. Taxation was now running at a very high level and any increase for social services would be dangerous."

There was a declaration by Deputy de Valera last October and Deputy Lemass, disregarding that, probably overlooking it, probably hoping that nobody had it on record, gets up here this evening and brazenly masquerads as the person who is going to champion the interests of those who have to live on their social welfare benefits. Is not it time for the Deputy, if he will not stop chancing his arm, at least to modify his activities in that field? Is not that speech by Deputy de Valera a clear indication that Fianna Fáil would not increase social services?

Since then, we have increased social services and it is part of the policy of this Government this effect further improvements in the social welfare services and in due course these improvements will be effected and the people of this country can contract our promises, which will be fulfilled, with this bleak winter's tale of Deputy de Valera—taxation is running too high; there is no money for social services and if they were increased it would be dangerous. I hope Deputy de Valera will explain, as I have no doubt, knowing his characteristics, he will, what that meant and contrast it with Deputy Lemass's speech.

Perhaps I ought to deal with this tea question at the outset. As Deputy Lemass was talking and burning up his energy and enthusiasm on the subject of tea I could not help reflecting on the Deputy's attitude early in this year. When we got the price of tea steady, every person on the Opposition Benches then who spoke on the subject of tea was anxious that tea should be allowed to find its ordinary level and I had to ask a number of times in the debates about that time: "Do you want the prices of tea increased?" which was the clear inference of all the speeches. Deputy MacEntee of course, as is usual, when there is anything excitable going on, was in the vanguard. Deputy MacEntee, of course, was one of the people rampantly in favour of an increase in the price of tea.

What was annoying the Opposition then was that we had held the price of tea, that we had not allowed the price to go up. We held the price of tea deliberately, as I said then and as I say now, in the hope that price movements of tea in the meantime would enable us to make an adjustment about now, which would not impose heavy burdens on the people. Let us take the facts. The Prices Advisory Body recommended and increase in the tea price in September of last year of 4d. per lb. The Government did not accept the recommendation. The Prices Advisory Body were asked to consider the matter again in December. They did so and recommended an increase in the price of tea of 1/4 a lb.

And hope did not die.

As that time, the Government decided that—as tea prices had risen phenomenally in the gardens and at the auctions, and as there might be a possibility that tea prices would subsequently fall—we would endeavour to keep the cost of living steady so far as tea prices were concerned and that, as an indication of our general goodwill in the matter of price control, we would ask Tea Importers to carry the increased cost by way of overdraft.

Who is paying that?

If the Prices Advisory Body had been asked to investigate the price of tea subsequent to January it would not have been an increase of 1/4 per lb. that they would have recommended. There were times during the year when the price of tea would have justified an increase of 3/3 per lb., having regard to the fact that we were compelled to buy tea in competition with the world in the gardens and at the auctions. If this Government had not been in power during the year and if we had not decided to control tea prices—in other words, if Fianna Fáil had been in office—the public, during the year, would have been paying as much as an increase of 3/3 per lb.

Mr. Lemass

It was 1/4 until last week: it is going up.

Is that paying interest on the subsidy now?

Mr. Lemass

Why stop at 3/3? Why not go up to 5/-?

Bawling and brawling will not conceal the truth in this debate.

Mr. Lemass

Explain the 2/- increase in the price of a pound of tea.

As I have said, the price at which we were compelled to buy tea on the world markets during the year would have justified Tea Importers in issuing tea at a price increase of 3/3 per lb.

Mr. Lemass

In my opinion that is nonsense.

It is not—but any statement the Deputy makes to the effect that it is nonsense is a falsehood. He can verify it from some of his friends who will supply him with the information.

Mr. Lemass

Does the Minister object to giving me the information?

I do not object to the Deputy's interruptions. I suggest he should go to some of his friends and get the truth from them and not come here with his inventions. To keep the price of tea at the present level would have involved the Government in paying a subsidy of £3,500,000 for 12 months. If we had brought proposals here for a subsidy of £3,500,000 to keep tea at the present price for 12 months, would we have got the support of the Opposition?

Mr. Lemass

You promised to reduce the price, by subsidy if necessary.

Would we have got the support of the Opposition if we had brought in proposals to subsidise tea to the extent of £3,500,000 in one year? Of course we would not—because the Opposition had themselves, deliberately and without any pressure of economic forces within the country except, of course, the direction of the Central Bank, slashed the subsidy on tea in the 1952 Budget. They did that, notwithstanding their previous promise on this subject. After the general election of 1951—this is apposite to broken promises—Fianna Fáil issued a 17-point programme in which they said their policy was to maintain food subsides, to control the prices of essential foodstuffs, to operate an efficient system of price regulation in all necessary and scarce commodities... To maintain the food subsidies was the promise made by Fianna Fáil in 1951——

Mr. Lemass

To reduce food prices was the promise made by the present Minister.

A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, could we ask for the Minister the same attention that Deputy Lemass received when he was speaking? Deputy O'Leary would not even be allowed to mumble.

The Minister might be allowed to make his speech without interruption. Deputies will get every opportunity of replying.

If they can.

We were twitted by Deputy Lemass that this Government had not kept their promise. How many consciences has Deputy Lemass, if he has any at all? He has one conscience which stings him terribly, and he suffers for the whole nation when he attempts to prove that this Government have not kept a promise. He has another conscience—of what material it is made I do not know— whereby, when he promised in 1951 to maintain the food subsidies and then abolished most of them in 1952, the conscience is perfectly clear.

We did not know at that time how much you had done away with.

Somebody behind me has suggested that this is a case of Jekyll and Hyde. I do not think that either of these gentlemen was in such an embarrassing position as Deputy Lemass is in this evening. Will somebody not tell us from the Fianna Fáil Benches if it is right that Fianna Fáil should make a solemn promise in 1951 to maintain the food subsidies and, when they slashed most of them in 1952, to hold that they were entitled to say in that year and subsequently that that was all right, that there is nothing wrong with that at all? If that is a right code of conducts for Fianna Fáil, will somebody now say from the Fianna Fáil Benches what is wrong if any other Party failed in some respect to fulfil all the promises which it hoped to fulfil in the election? Will somebody in the Fianna Fáil Party now try and——

The Minister is a great hand at the Housewives' Budget.

Lord mayors should not get down to a hooligan level in the House of Parliament.

The Minister does not like the truth.

We have announced to-day, frankly, that tea will go up in price. We did it so that the House would not be under any illusion about it, when discussing this motion. This House will vote to-day in the knowledge that that increase in the price of tea is taking place. Tea is a foreign commodity.

And it is not like beer, either.

And it is not 2/8.

This is a dreadful performance by the Opposition.

The Chair will have to take action if the interruptions do not cease. The Minister is entitled to make his speech without interruption.

Or, something else; we will get our own back when somebody else gets up. There will be no discussion on this motion of no confidence unless it is an orderly discussion. Tea is a foreign commodity. We have to buy it in competition with the world. We have to but it at the prices ruling in the gardens and at the auctions. We have been selling tea in this country for the past 12 months at substantially lower than the price we were paying for that tea in India, at substantially lower than the people were paying in Britain, at substantially lower than the people were paying in the Six Counties. Tea, in fact, during the past 12 months—and our people got the benefit of this—has been sold in the Twenty-Six Counties at a lower price than in any other part of the world, including the country where the tea is grown.

It is all right to say that we can perform miracles and that we can continue them for all time. There are, however, difficulties. One of the difficulties is the problem of raising £3,500,000 a year in order to carry the tea at the present level of price, and the Government decided definitely and deliberately—and it is giving this House to-day the opportunity of debating the fact—that it will allow tea to find its economic level. The people are to-day being asked to pay the economic price, but if they are, they are not being treated any differently from the people in the Six Counties, in Britain and in any other country in the world. In fact, our prices to-day are still lower than the prices being paid in Britain and the Six Counties.

One of the matters which concerned the Government about this increase in the price of tea was the impact on certain classes who have to depend on social welfare benefits for their subsistence and sustenance. The average consumption of tea in this country per person per week is approximately two and a quarter ounces, and that means that if you assume that old age pensioners perhaps consume more tea than other sections of the community and that perhaps related classes, such as widows and orphans, blind persons and chronically ill people, because of their physical condition and their age, and their economic condition also, tend to drink more tea than other members of the community, you would probably arrive at a situation in which you would say that the average consumption in their case is not two and a quarter ounces but probably about four ounces, or a quarter of a pound per week. We accept that as the average consumption in respect of that class in the community and we arrive at a situation in which for them the increase in the price of tea will represent an additional charge of 6d. per week approximately. It may be less, but it certainly will not be more—it will be in that vicinity.

The Government have been most anxious to see, therefore, what could be done, as evidence of their good-will of their sympathetic understanding of the difficulties of these people, as evidence of their desire to help them, to shelter them from the impact of this increase in the tea prices and they have decided that it will give to these persons, that is, to old age pensioners, widows, blind persons and long duration disability benefit recipients, a compensatory payment of their basic allowance in one single payment which will offset the additional cash cost in one year of the increased price of tea, on the assumption that the increase reaches 2/- per lb., which it need not do. The result of that will be that 160,000 old age pensioners will get that benefit.

Mr. Lemass

6d. a week?

28,000 widows will get that benefit.

It represents £250,000.

6,000 blind persons will get it and 18,000 long duration disability benefit recipients will also participate.

In other words that very substantial number of people will get this single benefit payment which will compensate them for any increase in tea prices and it will cost the Government £250,000. Deputies will remember that, when Deputy de Valera was speaking to the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis last October on social welfare benefits, there were not many quarters of a million pounds knocking around there.

Mr. de Valera

That is a complete misrepresentation of my speech and the Minister knows it.

Why did the Deputy not correct it?

Mr. de Valera

For the simple reason that when I start correcting, I am immediately told that it is characteristic.

The other fellow is always wrong when Deputy de Valera starts correcting.

Mr. de Valera

That is always the answer.

I want to deal now with some of the cases made by Deputy Lemass.

Would the Minister be good enough to explain how the 2/- arose?

What is wrong with the Deputy?

The Minister was asked to explain the make-up of the 2/- increase in cost. Would he deal with that before he leaves it?

Approximately 1/9 or 1/10 of it is in respect of the estimated economic charge which becomes necessary on tea in order to issue it at an economic level—tea that is in stock— and approximately 2d. is to repay the overdraft which has been created because of the fact that, during the past 12 months, we gave the people tea at the present price, instead of 3/3 per lb. more.

How much interest?

The Deputy should not worry his head about interest. That is above the Deputy.

Could the Minister say how much is the existing overdraft?

I am going to make my speech. What exactly was the promise we made to the people at the last election? Let us face up to that frankly. In brief, our promise was that, so far as we could humanly achieve a reduction of prices, that would be done. We said we would endeavour to bring down prices and we gave evidence of that under two heads: (1) by a reduction in the price of butter by 5d. per lb., which is costing us more than £2,000,000 in this year's Estimates and (2) by our efforts to grapple with tea prices and to hold them steady, if circumstances permitted that development. These are clear evidences, therefore, that, so far as effort and intention and earnestness were concerned, this Government were determined to do everything they could to reduce prices.

Deputy Lemass made some play with the cost-of-living index figure. Let us get down to a close examination of that position. When Fianna Fáil were in office in May, 1954, the cost-of-living index figure was 124. When we went into office after May, 1954, the next index figure we got was the one for mid-August which was 126, but during some of the period between May and August, Fianna Fáil were in office and have some responsibility for the index figure during that period. What has been the trend of the figure since? The figure in mid-February of this year was 126, in mid-May, 127, and in mid-August, 128, so that it can be said that we are clearly responsible for a two-point increase in the cost of living. You can argue, if you like, that we are responsible for the whole four points, for the first two-point increase and the second, but Fianna Fáil were in office during portion of the time when that increase took place.

Mr. Lemass

Why does the Minister not tell the truth? He does not know what the figure is until he gets it from the Statistics Office.

That does not change the fact that it took place while you were in office and it was what was happening before the figure was taken that determined what the figure was.

Mr. Lemass

Are you taking responsibility for all increase?

Will the Deputy not extend to other speakers the courtesy which he got himself, or is it putting too much of a tax on coutresy?

Mr. Lemass

Yes; it is too much of a tax.

There is nothing like open confession—it is good for the soul.

It is quite clear, of course, that food prices, as the index figures show, have been rising since early last year but, when you compare the rise which has taken place with the rise which took place under the Budget of 1952, the increase in food prices in the last 12 months has been microscopic.

Mr. de Valera

The figure was seven points.

The increase in food prices in the last 12 months has been microscopic so far as essential commodities are concerned. Let us take, however, the four points increase. Let us take the figure from mid-May, 1954, when it was 124, and the current index figure of 128. What do we find? So far as that increase is concerned, 3.5 of the increase was due to an increase in the price of food, brought down by a decrease of 0.6 in the butter but, in the main, the increase of 3.5 in the four points was an increase in respect of food prices.

What were the food prices that increased? Eggs, milk, potatoes, beef, cabbage and tomatoes. These were foodstuffs of an agricultural variety. I thought the Deputies opposite always cheered when the farmer was getting a higher price for his produce. I thought they welcomed increases in this agricultural food group but 3.5 of that increase was due to the farmer getting a better price for the produce which he grew and sold on the market. Not a single one of these items is attributable to an imported commodity.

It is not my function, as Minister for Industry and Commerce, any more than it was a function of my predecessor, to inquire into or regulate farm prices. I have no legislation at my disposal to enable me to do so. After 19 years in office, the Fianna Fáil Party never sought to equip themselves with legislation whereby the Minister for Industry and Commerce could inquire into and regulate food prices for agricultural produce.

Mr. Lemass

Did you?

My function is to regulate the margins—the profit margins.

Mr. Lemass

Are you going to do it?

Do you want us to do it?

This is the usual arm chancing. Deputy Lemass is so tattooed with this recreation of his that he can never get away from it. It is not my function to inquire into or regulate the prices of agricultural produce. No Minister for Industry and Commerce has ever sought to do so and my predecessor was careful that he would never be put in the position of being asked to do so.

So far as the increase in meat prices and milk prices were concerned, Deputy Lemass removed the control on meat in July, 1951, and he removed the control on milk outside Dublin and Cork in January, 1952, and allowed these prices free play in accordance with economic vicissitudes, but the difference between the increase in price which has taken place under us and the increase in prices which took place under our predecessors is—it is a vital difference—that we did not deliberately increase prices. We did not say to the people that we would take a certain action which would push prices up but in the Budget of 1952, by deliberately slashing the subsidies, the Fianna Fáil Party increased the price of tea, bread, butter, sugar, flour. Beer, tobacco and cigarettes also went up under the same Budget. In other words, it was by a positive and deliberate action on your part that these prices were increased. Nobody can suggest that we were in any way responsible, by a deliberate act on our part, for pushing up the price of any single one of these commodities.

Mr. de Valera

If they could be pushed up by deliberate Government action why are they not being pulled down?

As a result of the incompetent way in which the whole matter was handled by the then Minister for Finance the whole economy got such a shock by the Minister's bull in a china shop tactics that it was not possible speedily to undo the things that were then done with the whole economy. Does not every intelligent member know that Deputy MacEntee's proposals, in the light of what happened subsequently, were the most vicious and short-sighted that could ever have been introduced? Would anybody on the Front Bench opposite hope to do again all that Deputy MacEntee did in 1952?

Mr. de Valera

There was a deficit of £15,000,000. Why do you not face the £15,000,000 deficit so?

Of course, the Budget slashes of 1952 were deliberately planned by the Opposition—the Government of the day. They deliberately set out to slash the food subsidies so as to reduce the consumption power of the people. The Central Bank in the previous year had said that subsidies were a concealed form of subsidising wages and that we were reaching a time at which the volume of employment was dangerously high.

Mr. de Valera

They did not say that.

Tell us what they did say.

Mr. Lemass

Are you purporting to quote what they said?

What I did say is correct.

Mr. de Valera

It is not correct.

The Minister is on the right line.

Some of my colleagues will read it again. Has the Deputy forgotten his speech at the Ard-Fheis?

Mr. de Valera

I have not forgotten either one or the other.

Let him get the dictionary.

Mr. de Valera

It is a good thing that somebody would get the dictionary sometimes.

The Central Bank Report previously issued was, as usual, a doleful report. It called attention to the level of public expenditure, the level of consumption and the undesirability of spending so much money on certain public works. It generally recommended that attention should be paid to the fact that in their view our people were living too well, eating too much, drinking too much and that the way to deal with the problem was to cut subsidies or abolish them. The Fianna Fáil Party in the following year obliged the Central Bank by slashing the food subsidies with the result that the prices of a number of essential commodities were driven up to what then was an all time record. I charge the Fianna Fáil Party now, as I charged them then, with engineering the 1952 Budget to slash the standard of living of the ordinary people of this country.

Let us look at the Fianna Fáil record as far as prices are concerned between 1951 and 1954. We will find the figures are interesting. We left office in 1951. At that time sirloin beef could be bought at 2/7¼ a lb. When we came back last year it had risen to 3/3¼. When we left office in 1951, leg of mutton was 2/8¾; when we came back it was 3/2¼ per lb. Irish streaky bacon in 1951 was 3/7¼ a lb.; when we came back it was 3/11¾ per lb. When we left office in June, 1951, butter was 2/10 a lb.; when we came back it had gone up to 4/2. When we were in office in 1951 and left office cheese was 2/1¾ a lb. When we came back we found it had risen to 2/9¾. When we left office bread was 6½d. per 2-lb. loaf; when we came back we found it was 9d. When we were leaving office flour was 2/10¼ a stone; when we came back it was 4/2½. When we left office, best quality tea was 2/8; when we came back it was 5/11¾ a lb. The tea used by working-class people was 2/8 a lb. when we left office. By the time we came back it had gone up to 4/10.

And it is going to be?

White sugar, Deputy, was 4d. a lb. when we left office. Thanks to your handling of the problem it had increased to 7d. when we got back.

Mr. de Valera

And the Budget that was balanced had a deficit of £15,000,000.

When we left office pipe tobacco was 1/9¾ an ounce. When we came back it had gone up to 2/4 an ounce. We found that cigarettes which were 1/8 per packet when we left in 1951 had gone up to 2/4 when we came back and that a pint of stout, which was 11d. had increased to 1/3. Whiskey had increased from 3/- a glass in 1951 to 3/6 a glass when we came back. Would anybody imagine, having regard to the speech made here to-day, that any of these increases took place under a Government with which Deputy Lemass was associated? The Deputy stood in a white sheet here to-day; whoever else had sinned in the prices issue he was impeccable. Every one of these increases took place under a Fianna Fáil Government and in the main were caused by the positive action of that Government in the 1952 Budget.

Mr. de Valera

That is not true.

I assert it is true.

Mr. de Valera

Seven points out of 24 in the index.

I know Deputy de Valera very well and I remarked a long time ago that I do not like arguing with the Deputy on matters of this kind because you will always lose in the long run.

Mr. de Valera

Because truth prevails.

Deputy de Valera will chalk up the score and you will lose. And if you win you are offside.

And he carries the whistle in his jersey.

Mr. de Valera

Truth prevails and will prevail.

I frankly confess, and I have never sought to conceal it—and I do not think any member of the Government has sought to conceal it —that the wage increases in recent months have had serious impacts on price levels, and I think a continuance of wage increases will continue to have such impacts on the price level. The price of a commodity is determined by the raw material, by freight charges. Where freight is involved it has to have an effect on the price of the finished article. If the cost of the raw material goes up, if the cost of freight goes up, if the cost of labour goes up, is it not inevitable that the cost of the finished article goes up? Is there any alternative!

What about the wheat?

We have never said there was any alternative in the case where a firm is importing raw materials when it must buy on the international market and be regulated by international prices and where it is subject to freight charges. Freights have gone up nearly 100 per cent. in the past 12 months. In such cases there is no alternative except possibly subsidies or by means of controlling the elements involved in the costs. We cannot control freight rates or the cost of raw materials. We can control wages. Is that what we are asked to do? Are we asked now to control wages which are, in many cases, within our control?

Many of the claims which have come before the Prices Advisory Body have been based on arguments, and I think will continue to be based on arguments that costs have risen. We could hold the price level by a prices Order of a rigid kind which would not permit any new increase in prices. But what would the result of that be? The producer would say he could not produce commodities under circumstances of that kind.

Like the wheat.

Is it possible to get order on a serious debate of this kind? The Deputy arrives in the House and within three minutes he is allowed to interrupt.

The Chair cannot stop any Deputy from interrupting. All it can do is prevent him interrupting further.

I have heard him interrupt three times and I am further from him than the Chair is.

And I called him to order on each occasion.

What is it suggested we should do? Where we cannot control the raw material or the freight is it suggested that we should control the wages? I know, of course, what the gentlemen opposite would do in the circumstances; I know what they did try to do and in fact went the length of doing in 1947 when prices were rising. In 1947 Deputy Lemass said in the Dáil on the 16th October as reported at column 558 of Volume 108:—

"The Government has announced that if a voluntary arrangement is not possible it will introduce proposals for legislation."

And later in the same debate, as reported in the same volume, he said:—

"I want, however, to make it clear that the Government regards it as an essential safeguard to the interests of the general community at the present time that some check upon the upwards movement of wages should operate."

Deputy de Valera, in the Official Report of 15th October, at column 389, also said:—

"The Government regards this temporary limitation of wage increases as vitally necessary in present circumstances, and if the trade unions cannot undertake such an agreement as I have outlined... then the Government will produce proposals for legislation to the same effect."

And they were actually drafted.

We will come to that. This was not a mere threat to do these things. Here is the reality; here is the file in the Department of Industry and, Commerce with a lengthy endorsement by Deputy Lemass, Minister for Industry and Commerce at the time, in which he gives a direction to the officials of his Department to produce a Bill to freeze wages. This was in 1947. In 1947 Deputy Lemass, as Minister for Industry and Commerce, sent these directions to the officials of his Department. On the 16th October he directed that a Bill should be prepared as speedily as possible and that the Attorney-General should be contacted as quickly as possible to get out a Bill to freeze the wages of the workers. That was no idle threat, and I want to direct the attention of trade unionists and workers generally to this; here is the file which deals with the matter and on the first endorsement which Deputy Lemass made—apparently he forgot to say it in the general memorandum—he put in a postscript:—

"Penalties should be severe for a transgression."

That was no idle threat. Deputy Lemass does not play with small marbles in these matters and when he directed that penalties should be severe that was interpreted, when the Bill was drafted, by imposing a fine of £500 for every offence.

No marbles there.

What was the purpose of this Bill? The purpose of the Bill is stated to be:—

"To prohibit any employer from paying, or agreeing to pay, to any worker a wage greater than the wage which the worker was receiving on 15th October, 1947, or such wage varied upwards or downwards in the same proportion as the current cost-of-living index number varied from the index number for mid-November, 1947."

In other words, the worker could keep what he had and he could only get an increase by the precise amount that the index number moved up above the level of the mid-November, 1947, figure; but, if it came down below that, the worker's wages came down as well.

How many years after the war was that?

This was November, 1947. The Bill went on to provide that wages could be increased by such amount agreed between the employer and the employee, provided the agreement of the employer was not secured by strike or the threat of strike. The worker could, therefore, go in and ask his employer for an increase in wages and if the employer shouted: "No," the worker went out again. He could not use the strike weapon, an attribute of democratic government all the world over, in asking the most unreasonable employer for an increase in wages.

The Bill also provided for the withdrawal of the protection afforded by the Trades Dispute Act from any strike, the purpose of which might be to compel an employer to pay wages or alter agreements, which he was prohibited from doing under the proposed Bill. In other words, the right to strike was to be withdrawn from the entire trade union movement and could not be used in order to secure an increase in wages. The penalties, as I said, were to be severe. Those words are written in Deputy Lemass's own handwriting. When he came to translate "severe penalties", he fixed them at a figure "not exceeding £500 for each offence". He would permit the Labour Court to have a look at some of these cases and, here, of course, the proposals are even more interesting.

No interruptions now.

The first proposal was that the basic wage would be the wage on 15th October, or the appropriate 1939 rate, "increased by the following percentages" and then is set out the percentage which should apply to the pre-August, 1939, wage rate. I need not weary the House with the details. I want, however, to call the attention of the House to these facts. At the time when Deputy Lemass wrote this memorandum the cost of living had increased by 84 per cent. over the August, 1939, level, and Deputy Lemass was providing in this Bill that the worker with £5 per week in 1939 would get, not 84 per cent. over 1939 levels, but 50 per cent. In other words, he intended deliberately, by legislation, to cheat the worker out of his natural right to secure a wage not less than that which the economy of the country was capable of paying him in 1939; and, in every single instance, except one, anybody who had 40/- per week in 1939, up to any limit, would under this Bill get substantially less than the proved increase in the cost of living in 1947 over that of 1939.

These are the gentlemen now who masquerade here as the defenders of the poor, the weak and the under-privileged, with as bad a record as that behind them. The document is here on this file and anybody who wants to read it may do so. It should bring a blush of shame to the check of anybody who still believes in democratic government. The man who produced that document has the mind of an unscrupulous dictator; not much more can be said for the minds of those who gave approval to it.

They will not even let the worker play football.

What is the reference to football?

The Government declared that someone should ask permission.

The Deputy's leader is getting a bit anxious over in the corner.

Mr. de Valera

No, I am not.

It would not be the first time.

The wily old practitioner thinks the Deputy is skating on ice, and thin ice at that.

Deputies who have since become company directors might like that legislation. Do the backbenchers of Fianna Fáil like the mentality behind that Bill? I ask them to go back to their constituents now and justify the wage freeze policy enshrined in that Bill in 1947.

As far as this Government is concerned, it is no part of its policy to stand for wage freezing. It is no part of this Government's policy to interfere with the free flow of negotiations between employers on the one hand and workers' organisations on the other. We want, of course, to see a prudent, a sensible and a realistic approach made to the problem of wages and prices; but in a democracy wage freezing is no part of our policy and will be no part of our policy. Wage freezing in this country is associated with the Fianna Fáil Party. Deputy Lemass in his speech this evening came pretty close again to repeating the sentiments with which this Bill of his in 1947 is very liberally seasoned.

Let us take another indication of price movements and compare our position with that of other countries. Deputy Lemass talked, and I suppose others from the Fianna Fáil Benches will talk, to give the impression that price movements here have been noticeably upward. I have before me a table prepared by O.E.E.C. showing movements of consumer price indices in the principal European countries from 1950. I take 1953 and compare it with the first quarter of 1955, which is the latest quarter for which I have the information. The base in each case is the same. In Ireland in 1953 our price index was 124. By the 1st September, 1955, it had risen by one point to 125 but in the United Kingdom in the same period the index figure increased by five points, in France by 1.2, in Norway by seven points, in Sweden by one point, in Austria by three points, in Greece by 2.4, in Italy by four points, in Switzerland by 1.3, in Germany by one point, in Denmark by three points, in the Netherlands by eight points, in Belgium by two points, in Luxembourg by 1.1, in Iceland by four points and in Portugal by 1.6. With the exception of one country, our increase was the lowest on record over that wide area between 1953 and January, 1955. And as you will see from this, taking the same base in 1950 for all these countries our level of prices today is lower than in quite a number of the countries which are comprised in that return.

We have striven and will continue to strive to maintain a reasonable control of prices. We have now the admission from the Fianna Fáil Party that they do not know in present circumstances what can be done to reduce prices. That admission ought to go on record, because so far as I can see in a situation with a rise in raw materials, with a rise in freights, in wages, the most you can do is to regulate price increases with these factors upwards. As I said, you can prevent one of them operating by wage freezing, but that is not the policy of this Government.

You are making a confession now.

I cannot waste time on these puerile interruptions but the Deputy can and no doubt will have an opportunity when he speaks of contributing his learning and his views to this problem. I hope that he will not suffer from any reflection from his 1952 Budget in that respect. We have to face up to this situation, that if we cannot control prices due to inflation-any tendencies in a neighbouring country which impact on our economy here, if because of increased costs of raw materials or increased freight rates or increased import prices it is not possible to keep prices at their present level, then there is one way and only one way in which the situation can be dealt with. That is, by adjusting the wages and the incomes of the people to meet the new and altered situation. Quite frankly, I would sooner deal with a problem of rising prices by adjusting incomes rather than have to deal with the problem of low prices accompanied by economic depression, because economic depression and the commercial and industrial dislocation which follow are not economic virtues in any sense and particularly in our circumstances.

You are all for high prices now.

You for unemployment and emigration. This crystallises the situation clearly.

I take the view which I think must be shared by everybody who has given any thought to the problem that low prices could mean and, as we saw in our own lifetime here and elsewhere did mean, economic dislocation for the nations concerned. We have seen low price levels in a variety of countries after the great world war and during the late '20s and the early '30s, and we saw those low prices being accompanied by idle factories, by bankruptcy of those who invested their money in the enterprises, and by rising unemployment, creating a financial situation in which the States concerned were not able to relieve the misery that basically was caused by the low prices of the period and the economic dislocation. What we have to do in this country in the circumstances which now present themselves to us is to find a reasonable balance between wages and prices and to inculcate in the minds of all our workers and their trade unions on the one hand and the employers on the other hand that this is a delicate piece of mechanism and if it is not handled intelligently may well cause a dislocation and a break down of our ordinary economic activities which could have appalling consequences to the owners of factories on the one hand and the employees on the other.

I take the view that in the long run this problem is a relative one. Cheap goods can be of little use to our people if our people have not the money even to buy the cheap goods. Heaven knows the Ireland of pre-1914 was an Ireland in which low prices abounded, but the 1914 wage standards were equally low, and they did not succeed in insulating our people then against the grinding poverty which was the characteristic of Irish industrial life and of working-class life in this country in the years before 1914. To-day our living standards are immensely better than they were then. Although prices rose in the meantime the workers were given purchasing power and the people given better incomes to deal with the situation arising out of the increases in prices. It seems to me that unless we want to go back to a situation in which prices are out of balance with purchasing power or purchasing power out of balance with prices then we must face up realistically to whatever methods are available to us and whatever counsels we can give collectively or individually to find a solution for this problem, because these are problems which acutely affect each and every class of the community. Nobody can be saved from a situation in which wages and prices get out of balance, nor can they be saved if that problem has to be faced in a reverse direction.

Deputy Lemass started by saying that he wanted to discuss the prices aspect of Government policy and then from that he would like to frolic in other fields as well. I want to put it to the House and to the country generally that the Government's policy cannot be considered in watertight compartments, nor can they be considered piecemeal. The Government's policy must be judged on its merits in this debate, and the Government invites the widest examination of its policy in every sphere of national endeavour. There are aspects of the Government's policy which should be put before this House and before the country so that each and every person whose wellbeing is affected should know the direction in which the Government is travelling and should be able to measure the Government's achievements against the Government's transgressions as revealed by the speeches of the Opposition Party.

Let us take the question of unemployment. I take the figure for the 1st October this year. The position is that we had 39,000 people registered as unemployed as compared with 48,000 last year. In other words, we had brought down the number of unemployed in 12 months by almost 10,000. If I take the same date and compare the first of October 1953 with the figure of unemployed for October 1955, the position is that there were 52,000 people registered as unemployed on the 1st of October, 1953 and that figure had been reduced to 39,000 by 1955, a fall of approximately 13,000 in the number of our unemployed in a period of two years. That is a useful achievement, it is a substantial achievement in a short time; it is an achievement which has brought hope and light into many houses in this country which were dark and bleak to the extent of 13,000 more houses when the Fianna Fáil Government was in office in October, 1953.

Let us look at the figures for industrial production. I take there, as the easiest ascertainable medium of test, the volume of production in transportable goods. The base is 100 in 1936. The figures show that in the March quarter of 1954 when our predecessors were in office the index figure had risen from that 100 of 1936 to 177.5. By March of this year it had jumped to 182.8. By June of this year it had jumped to 198.5. That is satisfying and gratifying progress. The March, 1955 figure is 2.4 per cent. higher than the March, 1954 figure; and the June, 1955 figure is 4.6 per cent. higher than the June, 1954 figure. The June figure is normally lower than the December figure—that goes as a regular pattern— but the June 1955 figure was 2 per cent. higher than the December 1954 figure. The same June figure, 198.5, represents the highest level of industrial production obtained in that sphere of production since the State was established more than 30 years ago.

Look at the volume of unemployment in transportable goods. In March, 1954, the number of persons employed in the production of transportable goods was 149,600. By March, 1955, it had jumped to 152,000. Between March, 1955, and June, 1955, it jumped to 154,200. Employment in the production of these goods was up by 7,400 on June, 1953, and up by 2,600 on the June, 1954, figure.

So far as new industries are concerned, I think that our record is at least, as good as, if indeed not better than, the record of the outgoing Government in recent years. Since June of last year, 130 new industries or extensions of existing industries have gone into production, in that short period of 16 months. There are to-day 203 live proposals for new industries under consideration in the Department of Industry and Commerce. Of the 203 live proposals under consideration to-day in the Department, 181 have been received since June of last year, when we came into office. I think that is a creditable record and I hope that as the months and years pass by many of these live proposals will crystallise themselves in successfully operating factories up and down the country.

As the House knows, the Government has made efforts to attract new industries to this country. Much has been done to develop our secondary arm, to develop our industrial potentialities. It only remains to survey what has been done, in order to have it brought home to one how much more remains still to be done. If we are going to arrest emigration, we can only do it by providing employment for our people at home, providing them with increased employment in agriculture, increased industrial employment and increased employment in essential schemes of public works up and down the country. Charged as I am with responsibility for industrial development, I have determined that so far as stimulation of industrial development may be secured by energetic application to the task of getting new industries, I would endeavour by every means in my power to encourage home manufacturers to extend their industries and to encourage foreign industrialists who have a technical "know how" which we do not possess, to come in here and manufacture here commodities which are not at present produced in this country or are produced in insufficient quantities for our own needs.

The drive for new industries, in my view, must go on ceaselessly and untiringly. It was for the purpose of establishing new industries, of giving greater strength and giving greater resistance to our economic fabric and to provide employment for our people, that I decided to invite foreign industrialists to come here so that we might supplement our existing industrial activities. Technical "know how" is essential and indispensable to the establishment of satisfactory and efficiently organised industries. That technical "know how" can be got only from people who possess it. Therefore, it is necessary that we should go to those countries where technical development abounds in fields of activity with which we are not familiar and endeavour to induce industrialists there to take their technical "know how" to Ireland, with the assurance that they can supply a stable home market and find here considerable possibilities for export. Our main concern has not been just to get money from foreign countries for industrial development; our main concern has been to get technical "know how", competence and skill in producing at the cheapest possible price the best and most satisfactory articles.

Financial investment, of course, is necessary to some extent, so as to indicate that those who possess the technical "know how" and are satisfied that an industry can be effectively and efficiently established here, will back that faith by an investment of some of their own money in a project of that kind. We still have a substantial volume of imports of goods which could be made here, providing employment for our own people and wealth for the whole nation. It must be our aim, and it is the aim of this Government, to fill the vacuum thus created by the establishment of industries at home. There are difficulties here, of course, which are inseparable from the circumstances of a small country. We have the difficulties of a small home market which limits our capacity to produce. The cost of some goods to home consumers on a limited market would be extremely high unless it were possible to secure an export market for portion of the goods produced.

I am satisfied, however, that in our circumstances, with our associations and with our labour force available, we could establish here new industries which would not only supply the home market but could in addition find a substantial export market on the quality of the goods produced and at the price at which they could be exported. At all events this Government believes that if we are to maintain our present standard of living, if we are to pay for the imported goods on which that standard of living rests, we can do that only by exporting commodities of a value to pay for our imports. The tourist trade is a valuable trade from the point of view of our invisible exports. Remittances and dividends from foreign sources also have their value in the field of balancing our trade with other countries. But the best and most reliable export we can get is the physical export of goods to pay for those goods which we import and which, as I said, sustains the standard of living of our people to-day.

It was with a view to encouraging this development of our industrial possibilities that I decided to send trade delegations to Sweden, Germany, Holland, Belgium and the United States, with a view to encouraging industrialists to bring their technical "know how" and their investment to Ireland. I believe that the opportunities which we have to offer are such that it should be possible to induce a number of industrialists to come here. I may mention at this stage, though I do it with reserve, that the first results of the visit to Sweden are not only hopeful but encouraging. I hope it will be possible, unless something unforeseen occurs—and I want to underline "something unforseen occurs" and give the information to the Dáil with that reserve—to locate in this country two Swedish industries of a kind which are not here at the moment. They will be located. I hope, in western areas and will do much in those areas to take up the sag in industrial employment there. I would hope that that is not the end of inquiries which will come from Sweden and I hope it is not the end of inquiries which we will get from other countries. I hope, too, that even British manufacturers, who have now reached saturation point from the point of view of employable labour, who have now got long queues of orders some of which cannot be fulfilled for years, would recognise that here in Ireland there is not only an Irish market but a valuable source of labour power which is not in England and which could be utilised to supply not only the British market but the foreign countries from which Britain has orders and which she cannot supply with the requisite expedition.

There are possibilities and I hope that whatever differences of opinion may exist between Parties in this House on the cost of living, at least there will be broad agreement that inducing further industrial development is essential to the maintenance of our present living standards, essential to keep our Irish men and women, boys and girls, in Ireland and in the long run is the only way in which we, with the resources at our disposal, can provide a better standard of living for our people.

There are other aspects of the Government's activities with which my governmental colleagues will deal, and consequently I need not enter into other fields. I would like to conclude, therefore, with reference to this motion. I said the speech which was made moving the motion was a brazen speech and coming from the Fianna Fáil Party it cannot be described as anything but a fraudulent motion. It represents a new and higher flight into the realms of political dishonesty. Deputy Lemass said he put down this motion hoping that it would cause an outbreak of honesty and frankness. Judging by the speech he made it will be a long time before Deputy Lemass is in any way spotted with the various of political honesty or political frankness. For a Fianna Fáil Party with its record in respect of prices to put down a motion of this kind represents brazenness in a high degree.

Look at the facts. In mid-May, 1951, when we were leaving office the cost-of-living index figure was 109. When Fianna Fáil was leaving office three years later the cost-of-living index figure was 124, an increase of 15 points in that three years. The most they can say about the index figure to-day is that in the past 16 months it has risen by four points, which as they know can as much be attributed to them as to us. Yet with a record of an increase of 15 points in the cost of living, a record with which they do not upbraid themselves and on which they would not desire criticism, they come to the House to-day with a no confidence motion based on an increase in prices which is fragmentary compared with the increase during the Fianna Fáil period of office, 1951 to 1954.

This is something more than a fraudulent motion; it is a mischievous motion as well. It is put down because the Fianna Fáil Party is annoyed at the progress which this Government has made in the past 16 months. It is annoyed because there are no unemployed demonstrations in Dublin, that no hungry people are now sitting on O'Connell Bridge. It is annoyed because there is convincing evidence all round—and I have adverted to some of it in the course of my remarks this evening—that this Government is engaged on a broad policy of developing the nation's resources in a manner that will give the best possible standard of living to the greatest number of people, and that in addition the weakest and under-privileged will be the special concern of this Government. In other words Fianna Fáil is unhappy that all the daft prophecies which it made during the last election have not been fulfilled; rather have they been falsified by the developments in the meantime.

Now I want to take Deputy de Valera back to his beloved child, the Sunday Press. Here is a cartoon which appeared in the Sunday Press of the 9th May, 1954, a week or so before the last election. The cartoon is headed: “Back to 1951.” It represents a wicked looking schoolmaster talking to a little boy, Seán Citizen, and saying to him: “Do not cut a rod to beat yourself.” On the blackboard behind the young lad is set out a lot of frightening things so far as he is concerned. The boy is used as John Citizen. The position is that John Citizen has been advised in this cartoon not to vote for anybody but Fianna Fáil—that is the inference in the cartoon—because it will mean, it says, if you do, that your wages will be cut by an inter-Party Government by as much as 12/6 a week. Is not that a lie? Is not that a barefaced lie?

Mr. de Valera

The representation is——

Yes, a barefaced lie. This means that to go back to 1951 means to cut wages by 12/6.

Mr. de Valera

Is that the meaning that is to be taken out of the cartoon?

You cannot beat Deputy de Valera. It is as clear as daylight to everybody.

Mr. de Valera

Of course it is.

This cartoon says, this means to cut wages by 12/6. The clear meaning of that is that if you vote for an inter-Party Government your wages will be cut by 12/6.

Mr. de Valera

If you were to go back to 1951 and all the conditions, I take it. If you go back to 1951 you have to go back altogether, I take it, and you have not done that, of course.

This is clearly an indication that the political managers responsible for this paper, apparently with the approval of the editor-in-chief, thought it was right and proper to warn the people that, if Fianna Fáil left office and an inter-Party group came back, wages would be cut by 12/6 a week. I brand that as a deliberate lie.

Mr. de Valera

That was not what was stated—that you were going to cut wages.

Wages have not been cut. Wages are going up. That is the lament.

Mr. de Valera

If you got back to 1951—if you got back altogether——

Mr. de Valera

I am being immediately challenged. Surely I can reply.

Here is another question for Deputy de Valera—a softer one, maybe—that old age pensions would be cut by 4/- a week——

Mr. de Valera

If you were to go back to 1951, I take it. That is the meaning I take out of it, anyway.

Always a way out, always a back door.

Mr. de Valera

When a falsehood is put up against truth, truth will always prevail against it.

——that children's allowances would be cut by 4/- a week and that sickness benefit would be cut by 27/6 a week. These are four brazen lies, told then to deceive the unfortunate people who have to live on some of these social welfare benefits that these catastrophies would happen if Fianna Fáil left office.

Mr. de Valera

If you were to go back to 1951.

They left office and these people are better off to-day than they ever were under the Fianna Fáil Government.

Mr. de Valera

You did not go back to 1951.

I hope Deputy de Valera will explain this when he is speaking. It is in the Sunday Press of the 9th May, 1954.

Mr. de Valera

If I deal with it I will deal with the immediate objects that we have to deal with—the present day, not might-have-beens.

Would he prefer to forget it?

I want to sum up now, Sir. The record of this Government is an open book for each and every Deputy to read. It is available for inspection and this debate provides an opportunity of examining it in the most critical way possible. In brief, the Government during their 16 months in office—not 19 years, as was the case of its predecessor—has been responsible for bringing unemployment down to an all-time low record by 13,000 compared with October, 1953.

Through emigration.

Employment in the production of transportable goods is up to an all-time high record. Our industrial production figure has reached a level never previously attained. We have been responsible for passing a new and an improved Workmen's Compensation Bill which gives better benefits to injured workmen. We have been responsible, too, for increasing old age pensions, blind pensions and widows' and orphans' non-contributory pensions to the extent that over 200,000 have benefited by these increases during our period of office. We have extended the Industrial Relations Act to make available to workers previously excluded from the benefits of that Act facilities which they long sought and were denied under the Fianna Fáil Party. We have, in addition, permitted the free flow of negotiations between workers on the one hand and employers on the other hand. Our general policy all over has been to create a feeling of confidence, a feeling of stability, a feeling that this country can now change its Government not only without there being any dislocation, but with an improvement in the general public atmosphere. This Government is prepared to submit its record to this House and to test its record over the past 16 months by a discussion on this motion or in any other way.

We have sought to give the people good government and we have sought to give the people sympathetic government. We have endeavoured to approach the problem of government from the standpoint of being the people's servants and not the people's masters, as indicated by Deputy Lemass's wage-freezing Bill of 1947. Fortified by the confidence of this House, we will continue to endeavour to give the people good and sympathetic government.

Not a single member of this Government wants to remain in office either for the purpose of gain or for the purpose of power. Every one of them would gladly shed office to-morrow if the title deeds of this Government were in any way challenged or its right to remain were to be found in any way faulty. So far as this Government is concerned the House can vote freely on this motion, knowing the Consequences of its vote. I permit myself to believe that the House will not only vote but will vote intelligently so as to demonstrate, not merely here but to the people outside, that it desires that this Government should continue in office to serve the people in the same sympathetic, understanding and efficient way in which it has done for the past 16 months and that it will continue to do so until it hands back its stewardship to the Irish people.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce, in the course of the speech with which he has occupied the attention of this House, I think for almost an hour and three-quarters, reminded me of nothing so much as—I was going to say a white mouse—a white elephant running around in a cage, blundering from one irrationality to another, asking the people of Dublin or the housewives of Dublin to be grateful for the fact that the Coalition has put up the price of tea by 2/- a lb. instead of a miserable 1/4 or an even more miserable 4d., which it declined to do in 1954.

I gathered that the reason why they did not increase the price of tea in 1954 was that they wanted to have something to give to the people and they are giving it to them in that sort of Dutch way of taking it from them.

However, it is not the price of tea which is really the subject-matter of this debate, nor is it what Fianna Fáil said in 1951 or did over the period from 1951 to 1954. It is what the Government—what the Coalition did. I must be careful not to confuse "Coalition" with "Government" because, as I am going to show, I do not think we have a Government in this country to-day. I was saying it is not the price of tea but the question whether we have a Government. That is a question which most serious-minded people are putting to themselves at this moment. Those of us who have watched the trend of events here since the Coalition took office are asking ourselves if we have a Government. The fact, unfortunately, is that, in every sphere, everything indicates that this State has not a Government. We have a Coalition, but we have no Government. We have private armies galore, claiming the right to make war when they will, but we have no Government. We have organisations which, in defiance of the Constitution and the Oireachtas, are seeking to embroil us in war, but we have no Government. We have public and private censors of our sports and our amendments, but we have no Government. We have unstemmed emigation. We have industrial unrest, civil disquiet, open inflation, but we have no Government.

Or if we have a Government, if a Government does exist in this State, why is it a Government whose authority is flouted at every corner? It is a Government for which the people have no regard and for which the people have no respect. It is a Government which, as recently as Thursday last, had no policy in relation to those economic problems which dominate the everyday life of our people.

The members of the Coalition were elected in June, 1954, because of specific pledges which they gave to the electorate. Having read the propaganda which they used then, it is easy to understand why Adolf Hitler came to power by reason of the fact that he realised, as the Coalition propagandists realised, that if you wish to win the sympathy of broad masses then you must tell them the crudest and most stupid of things. It is not necessary now, in this debate, to detail the crudities of the Coalition propaganda in May and June, 1954—whether it was the stupid and dishonest promise of the Attorney-General to give back £10,000,000 to the taxpayers or the even more crass undertaking of the Tánaiste and his Party to reduce the cost of living to almost vanishing point. These undertakings have all shared the same fate. They have all been thrown into the discard.

To-day—and the Coalition will find it out very shortly—the people, having seen how all these fine pledges have been dishonoured, one after the other, realise how they have been duped and they are angry. The workers are angry. The farmers are angry: nobody knows that better than the Minister for Agriculture. The business people are angry: nobody knows that better than the Tánaiste. The mothers and housewives are angry and, I am sorry to say, they will be even more angry to-morrow. No one has any respect for the Coalition or for those who compose it. No one regards its authority and no one thinks of the Coalition Cabinet except as a mêlee of politicians braining each other in an effort to get agreement by concussion. Everyone knows that, because of a lack of common principle to give them cohesion, the most urgent public questions are shelved and the most needed decisions are held up.

That is why we have in this country at the moment unrest everywhere, in every stratum of society, in every walk of life, in every trade and in every business. Everywhere in this country to-day, there is contempt for an authority that is either afraid to shoulder the responsibilities of authority or, paralysed by its own internal and fundamental discords, is powerless to exercise authority. It is because of this that, as we all know, the civil authority is flouted, the Gardaí are scoffed at and we have armed bands drilling in public with firearm and recruiting openly with the avowed purpose of forcing the State into war.

I am sorry the Tánaiste has left the House. I am sorry the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Education are not in the House. I am sorry the Taoiseach is not here just now because I recall another occasion in this House when there was a debate on a motion also of no confidence: it was in August, 1927. In the course of that debate, Mr. William T. Cosgrave intervened as head of the Government and State. He said: "We stand for one Army, one armed force, in this country under this Parliament, no other, no matter what sacrifices may be entailed by nailing that on the mast."

That does not seem relevant to the motion which is before the House.

I will prove its relationship in a moment.

"In restoring public confidence" has reference to increased employment and a decrease in unemployment. It has no reference whatsoever to any other matter except the cost of living and employment, and no other matter should be brought in.

You cannot keep the cost of living down unless the Government of the country has the respect and the authority of the people of the country.

That is what is worrying you: it has.

However, as the Chair has said that that particular interpolation on my part is not strictly relevant to the motion, I am not going to dwell on it beyond saying that it is on the record of the House and I hope that when the Taoiseach is replying to this debate he will deal with that question and tell us whether he stands for the policy which his Leader stated in August, 1927.

I was saying that this Government has not the respect of the people, that its authority is being flouted everywhere. I say now that it is for the same reason that the workers nowadays have no use for the Labour Court which has been set up by the State and now almost invariably look elsewhere for mediators. For this reason, too, even the very arbitration systems which the Coalition established are breaking down.

This is the revolt of democracy against feeble and bad government. This is the revolt of democracy against a Coalition which everybody now knows can be intimidated on any issue big or trivial. This is the revolt of democracy against the continued existence of a Coalition which will stand its ground nowhere; because one section or another of its elements may be counted upon to run in one direction or another, according to the quarter from which the pressure comes.

Weak and feckless as it has shown itself to be on all big issues, the Coalition has not even the resolution to be strong on small ones. We had a case in point last week when it tried to intimidate the Football Association of Ireland. It ran away—and perhaps we should be thankful for the fact that it did run because henceforward if I or any other man should want to have a game of cards with a few friends we shall not have to ask the permission of the Minister for Justice or of a police officer before we invite them in.

I hope the Deputy will keep away from these irrelevant matters.

This Coalition has run away from every serious issue placed before it. It panicked even before the Football Association of Ireland as it has now panicked before the position which confronts it in the country, panicked to such an extent that even those elements in it which were credited with some sanity in economic affairs seem to have been carried away and to have lost their balance with the rest.

In April, 1954, speaking in Letterkenny, the present Taoiseach pledged himself to maintain our £ at a parity with the £ sterling and on that occasion he emphasised how well he and his associates understood—I quote from the Irish Times report—“the importance of a sound currency whose value will be well protected and not be shaken by any instability flowing from domestic causes.” Note the words: “any instability flowing from domestic causes.” That was the Taoiseach out of office in April, 1954. To-day we have in the amendment to which the Taoiseach has put his name a declaration that hence forward the Coalition stand for and will every way develop and foster a hell-for-leather inflation.

I will confess that when I read the amendment, I could not believe my eyes. I could not credit it that any group of sane men, wide awake and claiming to be a Government, could be responsible for it. So perturbed was I for the mental health of those who were responsible for it that I showed the text of it to a distinguished alienist and asked his opinion of it. He told me at once that it was a perfect example of what is known in psychiatric medicine as euphoric catharsis. I need not tell you that the term was almost literally Greek to me, so I asked him to put it in plain English. "Well," he said, "I will try to explain it in this way. You have sometimes seen a boxer who has taken more than he can stand in the fight?" I said, "I have, yes." He said: "You know that he goes staggering round the ring. He looks quite happy for he is listening to the little birds singing, looking for a nice grassy spot to sit down on, and when the fairy tones of the referee counting from one to ten fall on his ear like the chimes of the village church——"

I thought he was still staggering about the ring.

You thought it was your white turkey.

This must have been a Fianna Fáil referee.

It is a great pity that the Minister will not listen to this because he can then examine his conscience or his symptoms afterwards.

You did not get the man down on the mat at all yet.

As I said, he is staggering around the ring, listening to the little birds singing. And why? The referee is counting from one to ten. He is right on the floor at this time——

Oh; I was anxious about that. I was fearful that you would not get him down.

——like the Coalition. The tones fall on his ear like the chimes of the village church and he is quite contented and happy.

On the floor.

"That boxer," said my doctor friend, "is punch-drunk or slap-happy. He is in fact, in a euphoric condition. "The catharsis," I asked, "what about that?""That is simple enough," he said, "it simply means——"

Do scéal féin, scéal gach éinne.

It just means a diarrhoea of words.

"——a purgation, self-purgation, to be more precise."

And there is no better judge of that than the speaker.

"So this amendment," I said, "is nothing more than a manifestation of punch-drunk, slaphappy, self-purgation?""Exactly," he said. "It is just a typical example of euphoric catharsis."

You must like the sound of that word.

When we come to study the Coalition amendment, we realise how right my friend was when he described it as euphoric catharsis, for it is merely an audacious attempt by the parties of the Coalition to purge themselves of the last residues of the pledges they gave to the electorate in May or June, 1954. Over their signatures, the leaders of the Coalition Parties who told the electorate that prices could be controlled by Government action and that the anti-Fianna Fáil Coalition could and would control them, are now declaring —and quite truthfully; we are not denying it either—that prices cannot be controlled and that they are not going to be controlled, that, on the contrary, as the Tánaiste made quite clear to us, henceforward prices are going to be allowed to rip. The men who in 1954 told the people that the cost of government must be and could be brought down, that we were spending too much, are now proclaiming that all costs, including the costs of government, are to be allowed to rip and that public expenditure and the cost of government are going to be allowed to rip with the rest.

The Taoiseach who told us in 1954 that he would devote himself to maintaining the Irish £ at parity with sterling and at all costs preserve the soundness of our currency has now the hardihood to announce that, so far as he is concerned, the Irish £, the Irish people's case, the Irish people's savings, may go to blazes.

That is a most mischievous statement, and the Deputy knows it.

Henceforward, he tells us, he and his Coalition are all for inflation, open and uncontrolled inflation. That is the policy to which the Taoiseach has put his hand; that is the policy which the Taoiseach endorsed when he put his name to the amendment.

That is deliberately mischievous.

Did ever a group of men exhibit such an utter contempt for the public memory and for public opinion as the Coalition has done in this amendment? Since Fine Gael somersaulted from the Empire into the Republic, we have not seen anything like it. So far as the public pledges which they gave are concerned, the attitude of the Coalition leaders to the people of this country whom they tricked into voting for them in 1954 is fairly expressed by a poet who wrote: "Fiddle, we know, is diddle" and now the Taoiseach and his Coalition colleagues propose to paraphrase the remainder of the line to add: "And diddlers all are we".

But there is a serious aspect of this repudiation of its pledges by the now dithering Coalition to which I must refer. In the general election of 1954 the Minister for Defence, General MacEoin, as he then was, went ranting —"ranting" is the only word I can use—through the country, new fangled apparently as he was with morality, as though he had recently read the penny catechism and had stumbled across the Ten Commandments, and on every platform on which he spoke he told the electors in the name of God and Holy Church that no Catholic with a conscience could vote for Fianna Fáil and its Health Act. Unfortunately, no authoritative voice repudiated the General's pretensions in that regard. To-day, as Minister for Defence, Deputy MacEoin is repudiating the pledges he gave to the people and the question must arise in the mind of all of us: Which is the greater affront to the public conscience and the greater cause of scandal, the shameful action of the Minister and his colleagues to-day, or the stand which his opponents took when they passed a law to provide services which would ease the pain of a mother in her travail and would mitigate the helplessness of the infant in the cradle?

In the amendment to which they have put their names the Coalition leaders claim that by allowing wages to chase after prices they have mitigated the effects of their failure, not merely to control prices, but to reduce prices as they promised. Let us see what that means.

It is a commonplace not only of economic theory but of actual experience that in an inflationary situation wages can never overtake prices. If any Deputy has any doubt of that, let him read the reports of the proceedings before the Prices Advisory Body last Friday, when an application from the Dublin Gas Company for permission to increase the price of gas by 1½d. per therm was under consideration. Two significant statements were made in the course of the proceedings. The first was by a gentleman who was described in the Press as a research officer to the Irish Trade Union Congress. He is reported to have represented that of the proposed increase of 1½d. per therm, the actual wages would account for only two-thirds of a penny. Thus, we have the situation in which, while wages go up by two-thirds of a penny, gas goes up by 1½d. a therm. That is to say, the increase in the final price of gas is more than twice the benefit of the wage increase to the workers.

On the same day, in relation to the same application, we had another trade union officer warning the Prices Advisory Body that "The wage increases which trade unionists had received were but compensation for past increases in the chase to meet rising costs. If the present application were granted trade unions would be coming back for further increases in wages." That is the considered opinion of the leaders of the workers, some of whom are going to vote here in this House for this amendment. It is a frank declaration that the policy of the Government in relation to prices and wages is to let prices go sky-high and let wages overtake them if they can.

Deputy Lemass referred to a matter to which I also wish to refer. Trade unionists, civil servants, teachers and all those who are in sheltered occupations and are paid out of public funds, have in a time of rising prices organisations and arbitration machinery of one kind or another which may secure them at least partial compensation for any rise in the general price level. But what about those who are not thus fortunately circumstanced? What about the farmer, the self-employed person? What about the small shopkeeper? What about the retired person living on a pension from his employer? What about the ex-public servants?

I have a circular here from an organisation of ex-Civil Service pensioners who were promised in 1947 both by the present Taoiseach and the Tánaiste that they would support an increase in their pensions—an increase which they have not yet got. What about these ex-public servants or the widow living on a small bequest from her late husband, or a disabled person with modest means? What about these and many others like them who are equally powerless to squeeze anything from anyone to compensate them for an increase in the cost of living? How has the rising cost of living been mitigated—blessed word, "mitigated"? It is equal, I think, to rank with the phrase, "in abeyance", in our political vocabulary—for those classes of the public who, with their dependents, number, as Deputy Lemass has stated, more than one half of our people. How are they going to be compensated for the increase in the cost of living?

Every increase in wages and every resultant increase in the cost of the commodity to which the wages relate increase the cost of living for them. How has the Coalition mitigated the hardship for half of the people of this country? Will that hardship be mitigated by the proposed increase of 12½ per cent. in their bus fares? Will it be mitigated by their having to pay 1½d. a therm for their gas? Will it be mitigated by the fact that the cost of their tea has gone up by 2/- a lb.?

Let me make my position clear in relation to the cost of tea, since I have referred to it. I do not wish to appear to dissemble in regard to it. I think it is not only in the general public interest but in the best interest of everyone in the community that the consumer should pay the economic price for tea at the moment of purchase—as, indeed, he must do in the end. No consumer in the country was getting cheap tea over the past 12 months. He was paying, as I have said so often, one instalment to the grocer over the counter, and the other instalment to the Minister for Finance as a taxpayer. Therefore, I think that in the best interests of everyone, the public and everybody in the community, it is better that he should pay the economic price at the moment of purchase and buy it with one lump sum payment rather than buy it on the hire purchase system, one payment now and another later, as he has been doing since the autumn of 1954 with, of course, added expense to himself and the State and the community. So far as I am concerned, I think the Government did the right thing by having the courage to face up to what was quite an impossible position and end it.

I am not trying to make political capital out of the fact that they have been compelled to increase the price of tea. I am concerned to know how the hardship which this increase may inflict on some householders is going to be mitigated if the breadwinners in these households are not organised in trade unions or in some other way.

Take the cost of government and what goes with it, taxation. Will the cost of government be reduced? We all remember that on the eve of the election the present Attorney-General told us that it would be reduced by £10,000,000. Will the cost of government be reduced when the salaries and remuneration of the Civil Service, the Army, the Garda, the teachers, primary, secondary and vocational, are all increased to compensate for increases in the cost of living? Remember, this amendment of the Government declares that all these people will be compensated for any increase in price which may occur. Of course we know taxation will not be reduced if the pay and remuneration of public officials is increased. Naturally taxation will have to be increased in order to provide the moneys wherewith to pay the increased remuneration to the public servants.

How will the hardship which is going to be caused to the taxpayers by these further increases in the cost of living be mitigated? And when the servants and employees of the State have been compensated and the taxation and the prices driven up accordingly, what will be the position of the beneficiaries under social services? We have been told that a panel of 180,000 or 190,000 persons will receive an additional 6d. a week. I would say the Tánaiste might be referred to as—no, I will not say it. It does not matter.

Ah, do not.

The Tánaiste has said that these people will get an extra 6d. a week because the price of tea is going up by 2/- a pound. But what is going to happen to that half of the population of the State who are not in receipt of social service payments or who are not organised in trade unions? What is going to happen to them? You are going to give certain people 6d. a week to compensate for the increase of 2/- in the price of tea. And when these people have got their 6d. a week who is going to find the additional £250,000 necessary to pay them? It does not appear to be very much but I remember when it represented an increase of a farthing a lb. in the price of sugar. It probably represents just as much to-day and it represented 2½d. a lb. in the price of tea.

As I have said, who is going to find that £250,000? The taxpayers of course. And again, who will compenstate them? The price of something must go up in order to provide that £250,000. And when the servants and employees of the State have been compensated and taxation and prices have been driven up correspondingly what then will be the position of the beneficiaries of the social services? Will the hardship which the Coalition policy has imposed on them be mitigated in turn by an increase in social welfare benefits? The new taxation for the social services will, of course, lead to a further very substantial increase in the cost of living, and, remember, this will be an increase that has not originated in higher wages or remuneration paid to the producing elements in the community, but in payments made to those who, because they are unable to produce, are sustained by the community. How will the burden of the increase in the cost of living, arising from the resultant increase in taxation for the social services, be mitigated to the taxpayer?

Again, I ask is the new general increase in the cost of living to be mitigated—what a lovely word—by a further rise in wages, leading, in turn, to a further rise in prices, to further increase to the public servants, to further increases to those dependent on the social services, to further increases in taxation, followed again by further increases in prices and wages, upward and upward and upward in an ever widening, ever soaring spiral? This is the policy which the Coalition Government has adopted; this is the policy which it commends to the Dáil. Before voting for it Deputies must ask themselves where it will lead. It will lead inevitably, as it has done elsewhere, to a runaway inflation, to the decay of morals, to the corruption of the community and to the destruction of the very State itself. Is it right for men deliberately to adopt expedients and pursue policies which will have that inevitable end? That is a theme to which the Minister for Defence and the moralists of the Coalition—and others too—might address themselves.

That a currency inflation can undermine public and private morality and even destroy a State is well proven by the actual record of events which have occurred in Europe in our own time, events which have had a shattering effect on the history and economy of the world. There is no doubt whatever that the way for Hitler's ascent to power in Germany was prepared by the currency inflation of 1922 and 1923. So far as the mass of the German people were concerned, workers and middle class alike, the conditions brought about by that calamity were such that they spoke of inflation in the same terms as those of our race who lived through it might have referred to the Famine.

I refreshed my memory on that subject the other night and I read a book by Louis Fischer, who must be well known to the Labour Party because he was a man of the Left and not a hide-bound reactionary like myself. He was in Berlin in 1922 and 1923 and he tells us what a policy like that which the Coalition puts before us to-day meant for the people of Germany. I quote from Fischer:—

"Every German hausefrau required financial wizardry to buy potatoes and to pay her rent. No person in Germany knew the value of the money he had in the bank or in his pocket. A German working man brought home his fortnightly salary, say, 400 marks. He went to bed and while he slept the marks in his jacket pocket were melting away. He woke in the morning, went out, and could buy only half as much food and clothing as he could have bought the night before. Prices had gone up overnight. He, therefore, said to his employer: ‘You must increase my wages’. The employer did so and in turn sold his products at a higher price.”

It is the same here. The gas workers get two-thirds of the price of a therm in their wages and up goes the gas by 1½d. a therm—exactly what happened in Germany. Louis Fischer goes on:—

"Employers accordingly needed more money to meet their wages bills and citizens needed more money to buy goods. So the Government printed more money, and the greater the number of marks in circulation the less each mark was worth. This was inflation's vicious circle. Inflation became the German nightmare."

Fischer says that the citizens in Germany needed more money to buy goods. That is exactly the condition in which we find ourselves. Later on in the same book Fischer tells us that:—

"The workers were earning paper money whose purchasing power vanished hourly; tradesmen were being ruined by inflation; the standard of living of officials fell steadily. A working man's average real wage amounted to only 35 cents a day. There was little unemployment. However, no peace of mind was possible when even the money in one's purse refused to stay the same for 24 hours. After a while, salaries were paid twice a week and later, every evening, and people would rush immediately to the stores to make purchases."

Now, that was what Fischer said, a man, as I have said, who could be described as of the Left; and what he said is confirmed by another man who is, undoubtedly, not of the Left, but who might be described as Right of Centre, Frans von Papen, whose name has figured largely in recent years. Here is what he said about 1922 and 1923:—

"At the end of the inflation period I can remember how wages and salaries had to be paid daily, because the money received retained only a fraction of its worth at the end of another twenty-four hours. The Central Bank of Issue was unable to print money fast enough, and many cities issued their own currency, so that it became impossible to continue any ordered financial policy. It took a billion marks to purchase what one mark had bought before, and this meant that all savings, mortgages, pensions and investment incomes were completely worthless, and those without material belongings lost their entire capital. Those who had contributed to the many war loans suffered most. The middle classes, the artisans, pensioners and officials were proletarianised in the process."

Finally, I will cite the evidence of a man diametrically opposed to von Papen and, I suppose, to Louis Fischer also, Otto Strasser, one of the founders, or, rather, one of those who helped to found the National-Socialist movement in Germany on the discontents of the middle classes, the workers, the tradesmen, the pensioners, the small investors and the public officials whom inflation had pauperised. He belonged definitely to the Left Wing of the National-Socialist movement and, in his case, the description "Socialist" was not a misnomer. His brother, as a matter of fact, was purged in June, 1934. Here is what he says about a Government which pursued the policy that the Coalition is now deliberately adopting:—

"The German economy broke down. The printing presses thundered day and night. The mark crumbled and crashed. Germany's social foundations disappeared. The middle classes were dispossessed and became demoralised. In the years 1922-23, the spiritual foundations of the reign of terror of 1933-34 were laid. A people were proletarianised";——

The same expression as von Papen used——

"—after the inflation only 10 per cent. of the German people earned more than 200 marks monthly and only 2½ per cent. of Germans owned a fortune of more than 10,000 marks. Moral standards melted away; everything was tolerated. A people that until then had been correct, conscientious, honourable and tranquil, learned to rob, to receive and to swindle; it felt itself to be surrounded, believed itself to have been handed over to dark forces, and mutinied against every law of society."

All this happened in Germany under a President who, prior to his assumption of that office, had been leader of the German Socialist Democratic Party, and who had been a convinced Marxian socialist all his life; and under a Coalition Government in which the Social Democratic Party held the key posts. I hope the Labour people are meditating on that. If this could happen in Germany, and it did had a feeble and timorous Government a generation ago, do not let us be blind to the fact that it can happen here in the Ireland of to-day, for the conditions which allowed the disastrous inflation to develop in Germany in 1922-23 exist here in Ireland in 1955.

We, too, have a timorous Coalition. We have a Coalition which procrastinates in face of the gravest problems. We have a Coalition which is defied and permits itself to be defied, and which fears to enforce the law and permits its authority to be flouted openly and unhindered. The issue which, in fact, is now being debated here this evening is whether we shall go down into the abyss like the German people in 1922 and 1923 or whether we shall throw out the Coalition and save the country.

When the rule of this Coalition is spent will we Irish be, as were the Germans in 1924, a people stripped of their property and savings, a people pauperised, a people corrupted and handed over to the dark forces that grow and triumph in the decay of an ordered society. That is the real issue raised by this Coalition amendment. The amendment to which the Taoiseach and his associates have put their names is, in its very terms, a wail of despair. It confesses that the Coalition has failed to control prices. It confesses that the Coalition cannot control prices and that it misled the people when it pretended that it could. It goes even further than that, for now it declares the policy of the Coalition is to let prices rise and rise and to let wages push them higher and higher still until at last the bubble bursts.

The policy, as I have said, outlined in the amendment, is a policy of despair. It is a policy which is dictated by the fundamental disunity and inherent weakness of the Coalition. It is a policy of a Coalition in which the Ministers always put the exigent demands of their respective Parties above the urgent needs of the country. Because they fear to lose a few thousand votes to this Party or that, the members of the Coalition are content to let the Irish economy drift to disaster.

Now, it is true that in this world's economy, prices cannot be controlled in the crude way and to the absurd extent to which the Coalition spokesmen formerly pretended, until, in fact, the debate in this Dáil this evening. But the trend of prices within a domestic economy may be influenced by the actions of those who are in authority within it. If there does exist a world inflationary situation the effects of that inflation may be intensified or mitigated within the national economy by the measures which are taken by the appropriate authority. And the appropriate authority to take action, the only authority indeed which can take any positive remedial action when inflation threatens the State and its citizens, is the Government of the day.

All over the world Governments are concerned at the extent to which inflationary forces have got out of control. All over the world in States where responsible Governments exist and function, action is being taken to counteract so far as possible the effects of an inflation, which admittedly is world-wide. States with Governments and peoples and problems so diverse as Great Britain, as Turkey, as Norway, as Denmark, as Germany, as New Zealand are taking measures to avert the economic danger that threatens the future and the well-being of their communities.

But in this State, under the Coalition, nothing is being done. We are drifting fatalistically to inevitable disaster. Our balance of payments is in serious disequilibrium, largely because we are importing from abroad consumption goods which we could have produced for ourselves here at home; our prices are soaring and our workers are discontented. The cost of government, of local services, of transport, and of everything continues to rise. Yet, the Coalition does nothing; and in this amendment proclaims that it intends to do nothing except, as I have said, to let prices rip. They cannot do anything because the Government has not the unity of purpose, the courage nor the wisdom to adopt the financial, fiscal and other corrective measures which the present situation demands.

Let us, in God's name, have a Government that will govern. The Government from 1951 to 1954, whatever its faults may have been, was not afraid to take action if it thought the public interest demanded action. The action taken might have been unpopular, but it certainly has been very profitable to the people of this country.

The Tánaiste referred to the Budget of 1952. How different is the Budget of 1955 from the Budget of 1952? It is founded on that Budget. Not one of the taxes which were imposed in 1952 was reduced by the Budget of 1955. Not one of the measures which we took in 1952 had been repealed by the Budget of 1955 and to-day we have had it announced—I welcome the announcement and I am not going to criticise the Government for making it but on the contrary I commend them for making it—that they have decided at last that it is not economically or socially a good thing that subsidies should be paid on bread and butter which a man by his own work and in receipt of adequate wages should be able to provide for himself without owing anything to the Government.

I think it is a good thing that at last we have reached common ground on that. I know that wages must go up. If subsidies are going to be abolished wages will have to go up, and taxation may perhaps have to go up too in order to compensate those persons dependent on social services who cannot by their own effort maintain themselves; but it is better that a man should buy his bread and his butter and his tea and pay the whole cost of it out of his own earnings and be paid enough to enable him to do that than that prices should be kept artificially down, or rather that prices should appear to be kept down while at the same time we are surreptitiously taking the difference between the prices and the economic cost of the goods out of the taxpayer's pocket in another form.

We, at any rate, whatever they may say about us, from 1951 to 1954 were not afraid to shoulder the responsibility of government; and when after long consideration we decided that certain action had to be taken—and mind you we were just as diffident about taking action that was unpopular as any other Government might be—but at least we had the courage to take it when the circumstances demanded it. We had the resolution to take it, and that is what up to this stage at any rate the Coalition have shown themselves to be lacking in—the courage and resolution to govern this country in the way that the needs of the time demand that it should be governed. I am saying, the needs of the time demand that it therefore, let us have a Government that will govern. This country urgently needs a Government which will direct and make effective the foreign policy which is decided upon, a Government which will administer the law impartially as between all sections of the community, which will enforce respect for the Constitution and the authority of the Government and of the Oireachtas, a Government which will take the measures that are urgently required to prevent an already grave economic situation deteriorating until we are all engulfed in economic disaster.

I firmly believe, and the experience of the two Coalitions has confirmed me in the belief, that such a Government is not likely to be the result of a Coalition. But let the Coalition even try to be a Government; and if it cannot find such a measure of agreement among its members as will enable it to constitute itself a united and coherent Government let us have an election which will give the people a chance to elect a Government which the State so desperately needs. I do not mind what form of Government it is as long as we have a Government which will, as I have said, enforce and compel respect for the institutions of this State which have been so dearly purchased. It has not been an easy thing to bring this country to the status which it now enjoys. Let us for God's sake not fritter away and lose everything we fought for, everything we struggled for, everything our people have suffered for over the years since 1916.

We have heard of euphoria and catharsis, but if we have not been listening to a man intoxicated by the volume of his own verbosity I am greatly mistaken. He ended his observations to this House on a note of despair which would suggest that the whole of society in this country was in the process of disintegration. I do not see much sign of disintegration. We seem to be getting along very well. He struck a note of woe that we had not in this country a strong Government. I suppose those were the sentiments which inspired Fritz von Papen and his other mentors when they turned from the democratic system that obtained in Germany and made up their minds that Hitler was their best bet. But mind you those who stuck to the somewhat cumbrous methods of the democratic system were doing better in 1945 than Hitler was when the Russian shells fell on him in the Berlin bunker. There are certain small men in the world who when confronted with the recurrent difficulties which those charged with Government have to meet begin to yearn in their little minds for a strong man and a strong Government to get themselves away from the difficulties that confront the community. Such men would do well to pause and to remember that strong men of that character frequently end either in St. Helena or the Berlin bunker.

Nobody denies that the most difficult form of government to carry on is a democratic Government founded on individual liberty such as we have in Ireland. Nobody denies that very frequently it seems as though democratic processes are cumbrous and slow and often unduly solicitous for the rights of minorities, but this is the first time I have ever heard in a democratic Parliament a system of government held up to public odium on the grounds that it is too solicitous for the rights of minorities. I have said in this House once before that I consider the measure by which a Government's democracy should be judged was the degree of solicitude it showed for the rights of minorities. I reiterate that principle, and if the charge against this Government is that we do not like trampling people into the dust by the power of the State I am proud of that indictment.

Let us face it. We are indicted by Deputy MacEntee because we do not seize all the youngsters who have been deluded into enrolling themselves into the I.R.A. and sweep them into a prison camp in the morning. I understand Deputy MacEntee's view. I can see the force of the argument he advances. But suppose that without resorting to that method we can wean those boys away from the folly into which some are trying to lead them is it better to wean them away from such follies or is it better to thrust them all into prison camps and hold them there indefinitely? I agree that if the sovereignty of this State is challenged by any force it is the duty of the Government to meet that challenge, but I also think that a good Government will resort to every measure it can devise to protect its own children before it draws out the weapon of repression to compel those whom it has not yet sought adequately to persuade. That is the measure of our sinning. I do not think it is a sin. I think the sin is on the part of the person who has not patience or courage to press on in the task of persuasion, but who panics unduly soon into a Draconian and even desperate course of repression which is the inescapable duty of sovereign government if every other means shall fail.

We are charged with tolerating in this country an official censorship in sport. If that is a reference to the Archbishop of Dublin, I do not see why the Archbishop has not the right to speak as well as any other citizen in the State. Does Deputy MacEntee say that we should arrest the Archbishop of Dublin because he demurs to the Jugoslav team playing a football match in Dublin? Has he not the right to speak, the same as any other citizen has? I think he has.

Of course he has.

Are we indicted in this House because we let him speak? It is easy to whirl these charges around. But this has to be assessed. If we are to be charged with tolerating unofficial censors of our sports and if in the next breath to making that charge, an ex-Minister of State says: "We have no Government in Ireland," I want to ask him does he mean that unless we arrest the Archbishop of Dublin for speaking his mind on that match we have abrogated our functions of Government? We have no more right to interfere with the Archbishop in speaking his mind on that matter than we would have had to interfere with Deputy Traynor for going to attend that function and for greeting the teams. I think the right course of Government, where both are exercising these indubitable rights as free men in a free community, is to see that no one interferes with either. That is the course our Government pursued and one for which I have no apology to make. I would have resented an attempt on the part of anyone to interfere with the exercise of his rights by Deputy Traynor, as I would have resented any attempt that the lips of the Archbishop should have been forcibly closed when he chose to open them on a subject on which he was as much entitled to speak as any other citizen of this State.

Now, Deputy MacEntee—and, mind you, all this is said by Deputy MacEntee as proof of his proposition that there is no Government in this country—then goes on to say that members of the Government were elected on specific pledges and failed to keep them. I spoke on platforms all over Ireland and I remember saying to my audience again and again: "You are entitled to ask me now: ‘What will Fine Gael do for us if we vote for them and elect them?' and replying—I want to answer that question: ‘We promise to do nothing, nothing nothing, except to do our best.'" Then I compared our best with the best that Fianna Fáil was able to do and I said: "Do you, the electors, choose the best and vote for that?" And they did—and that is why we are here. Now, Deputy MacEntee says that we are here because we spread stories in the country suited to deceive the most ignorant and most incapable of the electors. It is a strange indictment of the majority of the Irish people. We are here with a larger majority than Fianna Fáil ever had. Is not that true? Does anyone deny that?

You are here with 3,000 less than before.

That is the first time— and I want to mark the occasion— that my distinguished colleague in the representation of Monaghan has opened his beak in Dáil Éireann.

I told the truth. You lost 3,000 votes.

To return to this indictment, part of it is that we undertook to do our best to keep down prices and, according to the Opposition, we have failed. I undertook to do my best and the only scruple of conscience I feel at present is that perhaps we are doing too much. The subsidy on bread to-day is costing £8,000,000 per annum; the subsidy on butter is costing £2,000,000 per annum. Does the Opposition think we ought to do more? Does the Opposition think that the subsidy of £2,000,000 to keep down the price of butter is nothing? I think it is a great deal. I do not think there is much steam in the Opposition's derision about the increase in the price of tea by 2/- a lb. We kept down the price of tea and over the past 12 months we prevented the price from soaring up to 3/6 above what it was and then coming back again. We kept the price level over the whole period. Now that the situation seems to have crystallised on to a more permanent basis, we have done precisely what we said we would do, that is, review the situation in September, with a view to requiring the people to pay what appeared likely to be the long-term economic price.

Plus 2d. of interest.

It is not 2d. of interest.

That is what the Minister for Industry and Commerce said.

No. The Deputy misunderstands it. The price of tea soared by 3/6 a lb. and it has settled back to about 1/10 a lb. above what it stood 12 months ago. We held it level during the past 12 months. That has accumulated a deficit of about £1,000,000. Now, 1/10 would probably leave us right at current prices and the extra 2d. goes to liquidate the overdraft of £1,000,000 accummulated this year.

The previous Minister said differently.

The Deputy may have misunderstood. That is the position.

That is not what he said.

He did not. He said exactly as the Minister for Agriculture has said it.

Doubtless the Deputy misunderstood the Tánaiste, but he can correctly understand the facts as I tell him now. I see the argument of the Fianna Fáil Party. It is: "Let them grin and bear it; if it goes up by 3/6 a lb. let them pay it and if they cannot, let them do without it; and if it goes down again, all right." There is force in that argument, I admit, but I think there is a great deal more force in the argument that it is better to try to level these things out.

Are we peculiar in taking that approach? No; every country in Europe and on the Continent of America is doing exactly the same thing. Why is it that, when we employ a device that is employed by every other democracy in the world, in an effort to maintain such stability as world circumstances will allow, it is alleged against us that we are perpetrating some appalling crime against the community? "Cross our heart and hope to die"—looking back over the 12 months and contemplating the 12 months that lie ahead, was it not better to keep tea on an even keel and then to face quite calmly the extra 6d. a quarter we are paying on tea now? I think it was. What does it amount to? The average consumption of tea, as the Tánaiste has explained, is 2? ounces per head per week but we have gone out of our way in this regard and I think this is one of the things that crystallises the difference of our approach to these matters from the approach of Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil seeks to pour ridicule on the fact that when we came to the conclusion that we had to increase tea by 6d. a quarter we faced the fact that that was exceptionally hard on the old age pensioners.

The Fianna Fáil attitude is: you cannot have omelettes without breaking eggs, always providing that you are not the egg. That is not our policy. We felt that if you could spare the eggs it was a good thing and that if you had one group of your community who clearly stood out, as Deputy MacEntee said, as being pretty near the borderline and who had no surplus to fall back upon, it was a good thing to search your resources and see if you could find the means of softening the blow on them. We, therefore, decided that if it was going to cost them 6d. a week, a rough and ready way of trying to resolve that problem would be to double their pension cheque in Christmas week. In so far, therefore, as they were out of pocket during the year, they would get it back at the Christmas season. It is not a very orthodox procedure but it is the most convenient way that I can see of giving back to the old age pensioners that which they have lost as a result of this necessary adjustment in the price of tea.

Some of them will be dead before Christmas.

For all the Deputy knows he and I may be dead before Christmas, but I am planning to go off to Rome to the F.A.O. next week and I have taken my tickets. If I had the gloomy outlook of the Deputy I would not take them until I got down to Aer Lingus. I have actually been so bold as to take a seat on the Rome express in the hope that I will get safely to Paris. But if I had the gloomy disposition of the Deputy my wife and myself would not take that aeroplane at all for fear my son would be left an orphan. If we were to provide against those contingencies we might as well go down to Holles Street and get into the cages of the immature babies for fear we would get a cold and die. Goodness knows a great many of these pensioners will outlive a good many men sitting in these benches.

I am not pretending this is a robot-like piece of perfect legislation but it is the best we could do to see that those on whom the increases fell most heavily would get something in return to mitigate the blow. Fianna Fáil thinks that is all cod and they think that is trying to give way to vested interests, that is trying to look after minorities, that it is like what a weak Government would do. A fine strong Government would say: "Let them starve. If they cannot get the tea let them do without it. They often had to do with less." It is two different approaches. Deputy MacEntee thinks that it is the hallmark of a weak and vacillating Government. I think it is the hallmark of a democratic Government who feels it has a duty to the humblest creature in the country, who is not content to listen only to those who are rich and powerful.

When I think of some of the things Fianna Fáil did at the instance of powerful vested interests in this country and then think of their putting me on my proof of good faith because we tried to give the old age pensioners a Christmas box on behalf of our neighbours. Remember, not a penny is our money. It is the money of our neighbours in this country that we are confidently going to ask them to provide to give a Christmas box to the old age pensioners and the chronically sick who may have been called to meet a burden that they are not otherwise equipped to do.

In 1952 when the price of tea went up, they got it every week.

It is bad enough to have the Fianna Fáil Party, the Irish Press and the Sunday Press all singing a different song but when the Deputies speaking along the Front Bench of that Party all begin to sing a different song, debate becomes pandemonium. A minute ago Deputy MacEntee was eating the face of me for doing this, as evidence of a weak Government. Now Deputy Aiken says: “Sure that is nothing new. We did as well and better when we were there.” Which attack am I to answer? If I defeat Deputy MacEntee, I surrender to Deputy Aiken. If I conquer Deputy Aiken, Deputy MacEntee is like a cat with two tails. Then they tell me there is dissension in the Coalition Government and they cannot agree on the Front Bench of the Fianna Fáil Party.

You cannot laugh it off.

Laugh off what?

Two shillings a lb. on tea when you said you were going to bring it down to 2/4.

There are more spheres than one in which we have laboured to bring down the cost of living for our people. Have Deputies forgotten that for the first time since this State was founded, when it proved expedient for the British Government to take certain fiscal measures which threw a heavy burden on their people and which was calculated to throw a heavy burden on ours, we did not follow the fiscal policy of the British Government? Has everyone stopped to reckon what all the categories of persons to whom Deputy MacEntee referred, the farmers, shopkeepers, rentiers, retired people, would have saved as the result of the resolution of this Government to use our own fiscal policy in the best interests of our people?

Has that been forgotten? I heard no one mention it to-day but it was one of the most important departures since this State was founded. Let us remember this, that it establishes now and for all time the resolution of whatever Government happens to be in these benches to use those powers, independent of any outside authority, up or down for the advantage of our own people. Let us realise this, for this is fundamental. The means adopted to remove the straitjacket out of which we took our people to act identically with the practice of authorities abroad carries with it the clear obligation on an Irish Government to use all the influence of which it disposes to use those instruments hereafter up or down and independent of what may be for the time being suitable to a fiscal authority whose primary concern is with people outside Ireland.

The independence that we have established for the moment carries benefits to our people. It could well be that in changed circumstances we would have to undertake burdens which at that moment, perhaps, were not being carried by others. But the fundamental and important consideration is that, however these powers may be used hereafter, they will be used for and in the interests of our people and not at the arbitrary dicta of a fiscal authority outside Ireland who is wholly indifferent to the impact of its decisions upon our people and their interests.

The great part of this indictment is that since 1954, when this Government took office, we have not been able to do as much as we hoped to do. I want to read to the House from the Manchester Guardian of October 24:

"It is natural,"

says the Manchester Guardian of that day,

"that we should see the current economic difficulty (of Great Britain) in narrow national terms. The danger of excessive home demand and a strained balance of payments has grown so familiar in the last ten years that it becomes part of the larger problem of keeping this country solvent. People rightly feel that a rich and still powerful industrial nation is making itself ridiculous by failing to avoid these recurrent financial ‘flaps'. But it is only fair to point out that many other countries have run into a similar situation at the same moment.

In the United States the Federal Reserve authorities have been trying hard to restrain expansion... In Europe, the Netherlands last week followed West Germany in taking corrective measures against excess demand. The fact that the Germans look to tax and tariff reductions, among other things, while Holland is stiffening taxation to achieve the same purpose, shows how views vary. The Netherlands Government has just reduced depreciation allowances for capital goods... Credit restriction is mentioned only as a possible next step.

In West Germany the Government seems to be as uncertain as our own how to apply the brakes without halting progress. Industry has the bit between its teeth and workers are eager to take advantage of the first good bargaining position they have known for a generation...

The import restrictions in Australia and New Zealand, now reinforced in the latter country by a bank rate of 7 per cent., indicate the wide spread of the inflationary malaise. Bank rate has also been put up in Canada. South Africa has had to raise interest rates to discourage an outflow of funds. All this does not mean that the Chancellor can afford to disregard the trends".

Every country in Europe, every country in America, the modern States of Africa, have all this to tell, that our forecast of what was likely to happen 12 months ago has proved wrong and we are obliged to take exceptional and extraordinary measures because our anticipation of what was likely to happen has been falsified by the event.

Deputy MacEntee says that, in so far as our high hopes of achievement have been in some measures frustrated, it is evidence that we have no Government in Ireland. If that be true, they have no Government in England, in the U.S.A. or anywhere else. His charge is that the Government of Ireland has by the terms of its amendment proclaimed its acceptance of the desirability of inflation.

May I refer, Sir, for a moment to the terms of our amendment? The terms of our amendment look forward to the correction of the present situation—"that the Government has made every effort to control, so far as circumstances permitted, increases in the cost of living". Is not that true, to the point of leaving ourselves open to derisive attack by Fianna Fáil for trying to do as much as we tried to do, subsidising butter, subsidising bread and maintaining tea at a subsidised price longer than Fianna Fáil think we ought to have done? "and that the effect on the standard of living of our people of any unavoidable increases has been mitigated by the increases in industrial and agricultural earnings"—Deputy MacEntee is horrified by the extent of the increased industrial earnings; I propose to deal in a moment with the agricultural earnings—"and by the beneficial results of general Government policy in restoring public confidence."

Deputy MacEntee thinks we have not been strong enough; we have not thrown the I.R.A. into gaol; we have not arrested the Archbishop of Dublin for shooting off his mouth, according to Deputy MacEntee; we have not trampled sufficiently rigorously on outspoken minorities. I think you secure public confidence better by showing that you are strong enough to show patience before you resort to the ultimate sanctions of the law in order to maintain order—"in increasing employment and decreasing unemployment"—I turn again to the amendment—No one has challenged the fact that we have done that—"in improving business activity and in the expansion of industrial and agricultural production."

Since when does increasing employment, decreasing unemployment, improving business activity and the expansion of industrial and agricultural output represent inflation? If these purposes represent inflation then I do not know what inflation means but I suggest to the House that, far from suggesting that inflation in any form is acceptable to this Government, the terms of this resolution make it perfectly clear that on improved business activity and the expansion of industrial and agricultural production our hopes for the future of this country depend.

I know that the Fianna Fáil Party do not believe in the capacity of our people to increase agricultural production. Fianna Fáil have repeatedly said so and, as recently as last week, the plan has been dredged up from the inglorious anonymity in which it has rested since 1932, the Fianna Fáil plan that was going to bring the emigrants home from abroad. Deputy Lemass trotted out with it again and he said in public that, while he anticipates hundreds of millions of industrial development in this country, there is not much prospect on the agricultural side. As if to reinforce that, Deputy Walsh has taken the field and I take Deputy Walsh as being the spokesman for Fianna Fáil on the subject of agricultural production.

Deputy Walsh says the drop in wheat production of 100,000 tons on last year represents a loss of £2,800,000 to wheat growers. That is a very easy thing to say but what are the facts, and these are the only facts that are available to anybody in Ireland. There have already been delivered at the mills of this country to date 2,500,000 barrels of wheat from this year's crop. In 1953, the total intake was 2,600,000 barrels. In 1954 the total mill intake was 3,286,000 barrels. On this 26th day of October we have already taken in 2,500,000 barrels of wheat and there is still wheat standing in stooks in the fields of the country.

The astonishing thing is where all the wheat came from. The answer is that, quite unknown to any of them, the yield per acre is steadily soaring. I do not want to mislead the House. I am myself astonished at the mill intake of wheat up to date. However, there is not the slightest doubt that more wheat has been taken into the mills of this country from the land of Ireland in the calendar year 1955 than in any year in the past history of the Irish nation up to this day. I think Deputy Walsh spoke a little too soon. Am I doing him an injustice if I say that the wish was father to the thought? I think Deputy Walsh wished that there would be a decrease of 100,000 tons in the yield of the wheat harvest and wishing, he thought, had made it so. But he is wrong. He thought, like the Wizard of Oz, that wishing would make it so—but it has not. I do not know what the end of the harvest will reveal but, to date, the abundance of the harvest has been quite phenomenal, thanks be to God.

Now, Deputy Walsh goes on to say that there is a lower beet acreage. He attributes that to the fact that the people are dissatisfied with the price, which offers them no incentive. I think Deputy Walsh has overlooked the fact that the price fixed for beet has been fixed between the Sugar Company and a body known as the Beet Sugar Growers' Association, the executive of which looks like a Dáil Ceanntair of the Fianna Fáil Party. Every old Fianna Fáil hack in the country is on the executive of the Beet Growers' Association of this country.

Is it in order for the Minister for Agriculture to make an attack on the persons comprising the executive of the Beet Growers' Association? Since when has it become the practice in this House for Ministers to attack bodies or persons?

What attack did I make on them except to say that they are Fianna Fáil hacks.

It is not usual to criticise people who have no opportunity to defend themselves in this House.

Thanks be to God it is at last accepted in this Parliament of Ireland that to call a man a Fianna Fáiler is a cruel slander.

With due respect to the Minister, it is not so long ago since he attacked the editors and publishers of a farmers' journal as being Fianna Fáil hacks. Perhaps the Minister will find out that the majority of the farming community which he purports to defend are, in fact, Fianna Fáil hacks.

Does anyone deny that the executive of the Beet Growers' Association, which negotiated that, are what I described them as being?

I deny that they are hacks. I say they are just as good as you and a hell of a sight better.

Tush, tush!

The Minister has no right to take advantage of his position to call respectable men looking after their industry "hacks." They are not hacks to any political Party.

What did you call the teachers?

I think they are. I think they are actuated very largely by political motives in everything. I assert it to be true.

It does not arise on the amendment: we are not discussing the composition of the Beet Growers' Association.

I am and I submit it is relevant. The ex-Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Walsh, says the output of beet is reduced because the price is unsatisfactory and offers no inducement to the farmers to grow it. I think I am entitled to say that the price of beet has been settled between the factory management and a group of Fianna Fáil personages who, Deputy Derrig says, are not hacks. Is that not true?

The Minister will be laughing on the other side of his mouth shortly.

If Deputy Walsh is right in his allegation that it is the inadequacy of price that is the matter, he ought to take it up with Deputy Corry and not with this Government because, so far as I know, the Government did not intervene directly or indirectly. I know Deputy MacEntee would say: "There is evidence of a weak Government; why did they not bang their heads together and make them do what is right?" This Government took the view that if you had a body representative of beet growers in a position to negotiate with the beet company freely, and they were both willing to do so, it was best to let them do so and if they determined on a price which was equitable in all the circumstances then let it be the price. Deputy MacEntee and Deputy Walsh think that that is wrong.

Deputy Walsh went on to say that the price payable to the Irish farmer for wheat was substantially lower than what was being paid for foreign wheat. The following statement appears in the article which was published in the Sunday Press of the 23rd October, 1955:—

"In 1951, £32 to £33 a ton was being paid for foreign wheat while Irish farmers were only getting £29. Fianna Fáil gave more to the Irish farmer than we were prepared to pay foreigners. We gave them an incentive to work and produce more. In 1954, when Fianna Fáil left office, we had increased production in nearly every Department of Agriculture. In 1952, 1953 and 1954 our output in volume and money value was going up each year... This time last year they were getting £6 2s. a ton more than was being paid for foreign wheat. As a result of the cut in wheat price and the old policy of the Coalition Government to depress the market and reduce wheat acreage and agricultural production, this is what has happened: Down, down, down... Irish farmers are now getting £1 8s. a ton less for their wheat than is being paid for the imported variety."

I do not believe Deputy Walsh believed that statement to be true. I think it is unworthy of a Deputy who has occupied the position of Minister for Agriculture to attempt to deceive the farmers of this country by a puerile allegation of that kind. This is the old and disreputable procedure of trying to compare like with unlike. It may be no harm, for the information of all those who are interested in the matter, to know the facts. Under the 1955 prices arrangement, 70/- a barrel is the equivalent of £28 a ton. That worked out at a dried price delivered on the mill floor, fit for milling, as the equivalent of £34 per ton. The c.i.f. price of Australian wheat of equal quality is £26 8s. c.i.f. the Port of Dublin and that works out at a mill floor price for Australian wheat of £28 12s. That means that the Irish farmer is getting, and is meant to get, £5 8s. per ton more for Irish wheat than is being paid for Australian wheat.

Last year—it is quite true—the Irish farmer was getting £10 16s. a ton more for Irish wheat than was being paid for Australian wheat. It is that very fact that brought all the fly-by-nights into this country to take up thousands of acres of conacre with the intention of making a lot of money and clearing out with the swag. When we brought the level down from £10 16s., the grabbers went off to Biarritz and the ordinary farmers of the country are making a fair and ample profit on the wheat crop. A good farmer in this country sowed 360 acres of wheat and earned on that 360 acres of wheat a net profit of between £9,000 and £10,000. I think a farmer who did that in the ordinary course of husbandry was entitled, so long as it is the policy to give a good price for wheat, to get that. I do not grudge it. We remember the migrants who came in here to grab what they could and their only purpose in coming here was to make as much as they could and then to fly out of the country when they had got it. I took the gilt off the gingerbread for those boys, and they are gone, but I think we have left on the gingerbread a fair share of gilding, which has had the result that I think we are going to get out of the acreage set to wheat this year very nearly as much wheat delivered to the mills as we got out of the extra 100,000 acres set in wheat in the year that has gone by.

I am now dwelling on the undertaking referred to in the amendment, to expand and increase agricultural production, and we have to face the fact that every acre of that wheat this year carries a subsidy of approximately £8 from the Exchequer. At the same time, I say now that the farmers who grew feeding barley and sold it, and, even more so, the farmers who grew feeding barley and had it consumed by live stock on their own holdings, made more than the man who grew wheat and that they received not one penny piece of subsidy. It was all increased production of a fully economic character and in substantial relief of our balance of trade problem.

I am happy to note, as I know Deputy Kelly will be happy with me, that the oats situation is tending to improve, but I have to say this about oats, that we told the farmers last Spring that if they wanted to sow oats and to grow oats for sale, the only means by which they could ensure for themselves a profitable market was to grow oats for sale only on contract, that there was no security for anyone who wanted to grow oats on "spec", because, when there is too much oats here, there is too much oats everywhere. Those who took contracts at 40/- a barrel have done very well out of it. Those who have not got contracts are selling oats at about 35/- a barrel, and it is not a ruinous price.

It is probable that there may be exports of oats this year from this country, and, if there are, that will be all to the good; but we have to remember with regard to oats that only 10 per cent. of the entire oats crop ever comes on the market. Anyone who made a contract got 40/- for his oats, which is a very good price, but those who had not, who did it on "spec" may not find it so easy to market oats as feeding barley.

What I want to say here to-day is that my purpose is to try to get from the land of this country what heretofore we were never able to get, that is, all the coarse grains we require for the feeding of live stock in Ireland, but I want to see it grown mainly on the farms where it is going to be consumed, and the whole object of my policy is, if we can, to render the farmers in globo independent of imports of coarse grain and each individual farmer in the country, in so far as it is possible, independent of the necessity to purchase coarse grains to feed his own live stock, because if you continue to grow coarse grains in East Cork and to consume them in West Cork, the man who grows the grain and the man who feeds the grain are, both of them, paying a profit to the man who handles the grain and to the man who transports the grain; whereas if the man in West Cork would grow his own barley and the man in East Cork would keep his own pig to consume the barley he grows, both farmers would be delivered of the necessity of paying the transport company and the handlers and would put that profit into their own pockets. That is the best method of expanding production and that method can be, and will be, I hope, pursued.

The last paragraph in Deputy Walsh's declamation relates to his horror of grazing. I refer again to the fact that the whole policy of this Government is founded on the prospect of expanding production. I want to say with the utmost deliberation that 20 generations of our people were not all fools, and, if you look back over the history of this country for 20 generations, you will find that at all times 60 to 70 per cent. of our arable land was under grass. Why? Because we have an annual average rainfall of 42 inches, and we always had, and the reason our style of agriculture is different from the style of agriculture in East Anglia, in Great Britain, Denmark or Holland is that they have 21 inches annual rainfall and we have 42 inches.

Let us face this—and this is as good a time as any other to say it—we are entering a new phase of grain growing in this country. So far, we were relatively immune from the diseases of cereal crops, but, from this year forward, I warn the farmers that they are going to have to contend with a new plague called eyespot. This is the child of damp climates, and, in any damp year we have hereafter, if a farmer sows cereals two years in succession on the same ground, he is running a high degree of danger that he will lose his crop, because if eyespot gets amongst it, it will go down before it ever has time to ripen, and there is nothing we can do about it as at present advised, because all the research in the world has so far failed to produce an effective remedy. You can check it with sulphuric acid, but, in checking it, you may often do more harm than good. Black stem rust is a new peril which may or may not develop. If it does, it is going to put another very serious burden on cereal growing in this country.

There is, however, one crop of which I want to remind our people and it is fundamental to our expanding production. Our farmers are probably as good farmers as there are in the world in respect of tillage operations. So far as tillage techniques are concerned, our farmers are probably as good as any in the world, but, so far as growing grass as a crop is concerned, our farmers are as bad as the worst in the world, because they have never wakened up to the fact that grass is a crop. If we really want to expand production, and to expand it economically, we ought to face the fact that the cheapest and most efficient food for the creamery cow is grass growing, ensiled and in hay.

We seem to be getting away from the motion and the amendment.

We have been held up to ridicule that we have sponsored in this amendment a runaway inflation policy, to which I rejoin: "Surely inflation is inconsistent with improved business activity and the expansion of industrial and agricultural production." Is that not so?

I feel that the Minister's remarks should be related to the cost of living.

Oh, well, now—I was going to resort to the words of a famous play, but, in deference to you, Sir, I abstain. What was the name of the lady?

Go on now—she said no.

Eliza Doolittle—not something likely, she said. I prefer to deal with the argument of Deputy MacEntee founded on the terms of our amendment, that our amendment, in fact, advocates, openly and unashamedly, runaway inflation. I am making the case that, far from that being so, the whole policy of this Government is founded on increased agricultural and industrial output. But Fianna Fáil enjoys this peculiar advantage, as I mentioned before, that it has about three or four organs of expression. Poor Deputy Walsh was mobilised to discharge this broadside last Sunday, and this is the Fianna Fáil view on agricultural production. This land mine was discharged in order to prove that agricultural production was declining and that our policy in effect was making it decline. He was so upset with his notion that he was prepared to sponsor as a fact that the output of wheat went down 100,000 tons. The output is higher to-day than in any year heretofore.

There is not only the desire but the need to expand production and it is the policy of this Government to urge upon the farmers that they should undertake this expanded production. It is the convinced view of this Government that if the farmers do not accept that advice and get that expanded production there is a very bleak outlook for us all no matter what plan Deputy Lemass has in mind. The proposal of Deputy Lemass to spend hundreds of millions divorced from the certainty of increased agricultural production is very much more a programme of runaway inflation than anything that could be fathered on this Government.

If you want to spend hundreds of millions on industry in this country where are they to come from if they do not come from the land and how are we going to get them out of the land if we do not expand production? After you have exhausted the possibilities of all arable crops I ask you, on the experience of 20 generations of our forbears, to have regard to the fact that 60 per cent. of our land at least is at all times under grass. Is not that the place to go to get increased production that will give us the wealth without which none of our hopes can be realised? If I could get from the Fianna Fáil Party a calm realisation of the truth of that proposition and a modest degree of co-operation in getting it over to our people, I would get something of infinite value.

Remember, it is not even ten years since Deputy Derrig's principal denigration of his neighbours was to call them "Minister for Grass." In his salad days he really thought grass was synonymous with high treason. If I could get those poor muddled minds cleared up and the rational members of the Fianna Fáil Party to join with me in explaining to the farmers that in their grassland there was a gold mine for exploitation, infinitely more precious than all the mines that all the Canadians that ever came to this country will ever be able to open, available and accessible to us through the medium of no more dramatic instrument than the plough, the seed barrow and the fertiliser distributor.

Tempted as I am to go on and paint the picture of the vast and almost inexhaustible potentiality of the land of Ireland, I can see it might be too great a strain on the Chair's patience adequately to reject the manunderings of Deputy MacEntee. As the pall of gloom descended upon us and as he thought with nostalgia of von Papen, Strasser and Hitler and all the ruin and woe that came down on the German nation as a result of the goings-on in 1921 and 1922, how many Deputies here thought of the scene that I saw?

You remember the day in 1931 when the late Montagu Norman, Governor of the Bank of England, sent Ramsay MacDonald into the House of Commons to assassinate the Labour Government of that day? He was charged to stand up in the Front Bench and say: "Do you see that pound note? If we have to go off the gold standard, that pound note will not be worth the paper it is writen on." And he then made very much the speech that Deputy MacEntee made, and said: "Remember Germany; remember von Papen, Strasser and all the horrors that descended upon us." His Government went out of office and he returned with Stanley Baldwin in his train. The following morning they all went off the gold standard. They folded up their pound notes and put them back into their hip pockets, saying: "That worked that time; the blessing of God the poor goms believed it; we have them out and we better call a general election before the lie is found out." They did, and moved into the glorious period of Stanley Baldwin's Conservative Government, which reached its climax in the invasion of Poland and the phoney war. I do not think it is a good thing to use such methods for the purpose of deluding a democratic Assembly.

If there was the slightest danger of inflation of the kind that Deputy MacEntee refers to developing in this country steps would be taken promptly and adequately to control it or this Government would fall but it is silly for Deputy MacEntee to think that by charging the Tánaiste with being a red Bolshevik or by charging the Taoiseach with being a true blue Conservative and by charging Deputy Blowick, the Minister for Lands, with being God knows what, he can break or weaken the unity or strength of this inter-Party Government.

I see the files and I know their contents. I know that for 15 years of Fianna Fáil Government Fianna Fáil unity meant that the farmers and the Department of Agriculture were trampled under foot by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I could bring into this House a mountain of files in which the Minister for Agriculture proposes, the Government postpones and, ultimately, the Minister for Finance or the Minister for Industry and Commerce submits a memorandum in opposition. There is a long pause and then the matter has been withdrawn from the Government agenda.

I never yet found a file in which the then Minister for Finance or Minister for Industry and Commerce opposed an agricultural project that the project was not overruled and the proposal turned down by the Government.

There may be this amount of dissension in the Government to which I have the honour to belong—it will be there so long as I am a member of the Government—that the interests of agriculture will get the same attention as the interests of industry in this country. That never happened so long as Fianna Fáil was in office and if they want the monolithic solidity of a Government founded on the proposition that Kildare Street has the right to put its foot on the neck of everybody in this country they will never get it from the inter-Party Government of which I am a member.

We expect and we get in our Government fair consideration for the legitimate interests represented by every Minister who forms a part of the Government. We get fair discussion on a basis of equality of all proposals brought before the Government and when these have been fully considered we accept the decision of the corporate body and act accordingly. If we are wrong in establishing the rule that agriculture in our Government is entitled to as much consideration as industry is, we plead guilty, but I glory in the fact that the inter—Party Government has not allowed to exist the well established rule of Fianna Fáil that whenever the interests of finance and industry clashed with those of agriculture it was agriculture that always went down and it was finance and industry that trod upon it.

I will let the people of this country choose between the kind of Government we provide and the strong kind of Government that the heart of Deputy MacEntee appears to long for. I like our kind of Government. I like the kind of Government that, finding itself constrained to put 6d. on the old age pensioner's quarter of tea, is not ashamed to admit that we are providing a Christmas box to help them through their difficulty. Maybe that is too homely an approach to the great problems of State to commend itself to two such lofty figures as Deputy Lemass and Deputy MacEntee. It is not too homely for me. I stood too long behind the shop counter in the County Mayo not to be very familiar with that procedure and it is one of which I am not in the least ashamed. I say it is nothing on which we are called upon to apologise. We have committed ourselves to it in order to prevent a price spiral in respect of essential commodities which are beyond our power to control, inflicting hardship on the most defenceless in the community, in so far as our resources will allow.

If Dáil Éireann thinks that approach be wrong let them vote against it. If they do, we are fully prepared to go out of office. We get damn little for being in office anyway. But so long as Dáil Éireann does not vote against it we will stick to our jobs and the fact that our Government is truly democratic is proved by the line we have taken in deciding to protect the humble and the minority in our country.

The Minister for Agriculture's rosy, eloquent and lengthy account of the harmonious atmosphere which exists in the Coalition Cabinet is comparable only to one of these magnificent symphony orchestras we are privileged to hear now and again. It does not come as a surprise. It used to be said by the present Taoiseach, when he unbent himself on certain occasions, that it was much easier to get on with his colleagues when they had no meetings and when no decisions need be arrived at than to deal with them when decisions had to be come to. On this occasion a decision had to be come to. The Dáil had to be given certain information, at any rate with regard to the price of tea. But the Dáil have not been let into the secret, in spite of the hours of oratory we have listened to, regarding the intention of the Government in connection with the price of beer or the price of tobacco. The Minister for Agriculture and his colleagues have been clapping themselves on the backs because they have promised to give compensation to the old age pensioners and to the recipients of social assistance for the increase in the price of tea but we know that the Fine Gael Party has a bogey about old age pensioners since they docked them a shilling long ago. They know what it cost them afterwards in the opinion of the decent people of this country and that it possibly was one of the causes that led to their exit from office. Because of that they are particularly careful not to tread on the old age pensioners' corns.

I would imagine there is a distinction, as I have said in the House before, between the old age pensioner who has only himself or herself and who lives in lodgings with no one to look after them and those in rather more comfortable circumstances who have some other means and some other income. Perhaps it is not possible to do more for those who have no one to look after them but certainly they are in a very special category. Their numbers are not very great and I think far more should be done for these than for those who have some other means of support.

What do you want—to take it off the poor farmers?

Where will you get the 6d. except off the farmer?

What are you advocating?

It is rather amusing to hear the Government speakers indulging in this adulation and congratulation of themselves on this magnificent gesture which was probably the result of a tug-of-war in their inner councils, somewhat the same as takes place in a jury room when, in order to get a unanimous verdict, a recommendation for mercy is carried at the same time. We heard very little when the 1952 Budget was denounced of the compensation given to the poorer classes and the social assistance recipients at that period when the Government made a specific arrangement that the entire cost of increases on the essential foodstuff of bread caused by the reduction in subsidies would not cause too much of a burden to be placed on these people. The Minister for Agriculture talks about the £8,000,000 subsidy on bread. He forgets that it was Fianna Fáil who introduced that subsidy and I think if there is justification for any subsidy it surely must be for bread.

There was not the same justification for a subsidy on tea, particularly for borrowing money to pay that subsidy. The very fact that the Government adopted the device of raising the money by means of overdraft showed that they did not accept the principle of a subsidy on tea as anything more than purely ephemeral and very short dated. In 1952, the present Tánaiste scoffed at the idea of compensation by way of subsidy and we can congratulate ourselves now that the political and economic education of the Tánaiste and some other members of the Cabinet and the Dáil is at least proceeding apace. They had no use for food subsidies in 1947. Food subsidies were merely an insult to the working-class people of this country. But who more eloquent than the Tánaiste and his colleagues when reductions had to be made in the food subsidies? One would imagine then that food subsidies had originated with the Labour Party or the Fine Gael Party when the Fianna Fáil Government made it quite clear that they were introduced purely as an emergency measure to deal with the special situation, an emergency situation, which had in fact arisen at the end of 1947, when a very great and unpredictable increase occurred in the cost of living, an increase not attributable to any forces that our Government could control.

We have travelled further along the road now and the present Tánaiste has to defend the removal of the subsidy on tea, a subsidy which Deputy J. Larkin described as a most valuable and most necessary subsidy on a vital foodstuff. The Tánaiste has now to defend the removal of that subsidy. Presumably he was not a member of the class of reactionaries to which the Fianna Fáil Government belonged, reactionaries who were doing things and carrying out policies at the behest of the Central Bank, moryah! Oh, no. When the Tánaiste and the present Government remove the subsidy on tea, they are not doing it of course at the behest of the Central Bank; they are doing it merely because the situation they thought would have arisen when they were considering the matter 12 months ago has not in fact eventuated, namely, the situation in which the international tea price level would be reduced.

On what argument was their prophecy or their foreshadowing of reduced tea prices based? Was it not well known and discussed in all the financial and trade papers that the consumption of tea was proceeding apace all over the world and that the production of tea was being reduced? Was it not well known that the tea-producing countries, with their new Governments seeking sources of revenue, were placing taxes, fairly substantial imposts, upon the export of tea, taxes and imposts which had been unknown previously?

If the Tánaiste, or his colleagues, for that matter, knew anything they ought to have known that the price level of a fundamental commodity which was going to be in short supply and the consumption of which was increasing in the wealthiest country in the world, could not possibly fall. He should have known that it was much more likely, should any harvest difficulties occur or any weather difficulties, that there would be a shortage of tea and coffee and the price would go sky high.

But, having fought the general election and several by-elections up and down the country on this question of prices, they declared when they took office, as has already been quoted here this evening:—

"Recognising that the main issue in the general election was the question of prices, the Parties forming the Government are determined to reduce the cost of living in relation to the people's incomes and, in particular, to effect a reduction in the prices of essential foodstuffs. As an earnest of their intentions in this respect it is proposed to reduce the price of butter in the near future. A detailed announcement of the Government's proposals will be made in the course of the next fortnight."

This article then goes on to refer to the question of the examination of prices of other commodities at the Prices Advisory Tribunal. The reference is a report in the newspapers on 1st June, 1954.

What paper?

All the papers.

What particular paper is that quotation from?

Would the Deputy like to destroy all the newspapers?

There is one I would like to.

It is 1st June, 1954, and it is headlined "Coalition Policy".

Is that "Truth in the News"?

Is the Deputy running away from it?

When the Deputy comes to deal with this matter with his constituents he will not run away from it as easily as he may imagine now that he will. We will see that he does not get away with it. We will remind his constituents occasionally of these promises and policies which were put forward. Of course, after this magnificent manifesto issued from the Fine Gael Party meeting in Leinster House, how could the Coalition not make some gesture? They had to do something after their campaign for lower prices, lower taxes, better living standards and so on up and down the country and, therefore, they decided they would use this device to try to stabilise the price of tea. However ill-informed or ill-judged their policy may have been, it has been shown that it was not a success and was, in fact, an attempt to interfere with economic trends which the Government has declared more than once since they began to try to change step they have no power whatever to control.

It is strange that the Tánaiste did not devote more attention to the question of the increases which are taking place in bus fares and transport costs. The Tánaiste has announced that he is seeking industrial entrepreneurs and capital from outside. Apparently we have not sufficinet capital in our sterling assetes or the deposits in our banks; we must go to Canada, West Germany or somewhere else to try to get foreign capital. I suggest to the Tánaiste that one of the elements which is likely to influence foreign capitalists in coming in here is the rate of transport charges and the level of general industrial costs, particularly since the country is short in skilled labour and raw materials.

Furthermore, the increase in bus fares affects that class of the community which claims it is getting the heavier end of the taxation and rates stick at the present time. That is the professional and salaried and wage-earning classes, particularly those in the middle income group who have to travel fairly long distances perhaps to those new housing estates where they have purchased houses and have entered into commitments which they find it very difficult to carry out, particularly if they have families. Over and above these other charges they have to meet for the houses purchase schemes and for the education of their children they now have the fact that they are bearing undoubtedly the heaviest share of the burden among those sections of the community so far as taxation and other contributions and costs of services are concerned. They are now to have placed upon their shoulders a fairly substantial increase in costs which have to be met every day and perhaps two and three times in the day if they are coming in and out of the city to work and to meals.

The Constitution of this State in Article 45 lays down that the State shall strive to promote the welfare of the whole people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which justice and charity shall inform all the institutions of the national life. I suggest that the principles laid down in the Constitution, and this basic one in particular, cannot be carried out, nor can it even be pretended that it is being carried out, if only the organised sections of the community are to be granted compensation and mitigation, as is stated in the Government amendment, of increasing costs which they have to bear. What about all those other classes, as Deputy MacEntee pointed out, amounting to half the community, who are not employed by others, who are self-employed or belong to the class of person on superannuation or small income?

Who is to look after their interests? They have no Labour Court to which they may go and they are certainly not in the happy position, if we may describe it as a happy position, of those powerful organisations which can pass over the recommendations of the Labour Court and by the strength of their position by threatening to hold up the economic life of the city or the State can practically enforce their own terms.

The members of the Government, and particularly the Tánaiste and the Minister for Social Welfare, have undoubtedly a responsibility for the situation that has arisen in that regard. In the spring of this year we had both the Minister for Social Welfare and the Tánaiste assuring us that if their efforts to stabilise or reduce prices were not successful they would not hesitate to say so and to take other steps to fulfil the undertakings given in the 12-point programme. They had already seen what is now admitted by all the elements in the Coalition Government in their amendment this evening, that it would be impossible to fulfil the undertaking that were given with regard to the stabilisation or reduction of prices.

What did they suggest in the way of other steps? Was it suggested at the time that they should subsidise? Apparently not, because the reign of subsidies seems to have received a further blow, perhaps a mortal wound, this evening. Were they to resign from the Government? Were those the other steps they were to take to fulfil the undertakings they had given in the 12-point programme, or were they perhaps going to see to it that the trade unionists of the country and those organised were going to secure sufficient compensation through wage increases? Were they going to increase social services, since the Minister for Social Welfare admitted that the social assistance classes were not getting adequate compensation for the increases in the cost of living? I wonder does he claim that they will be in any better position when they receive this small addition to their incomes which is now promised.

The Minister went on to say, speaking at Mosney on the 17th June, that either increased purchasing power for the people must be secured or if this were not possible incomes must be increased. One is not clear whether the Minister for Social Welfare meant that the Government directly itself was to create the necessary purchasing power, and if so in what way. Were they to increase the currency? Were they to increase the national credits, to increase the avenues for employment, but if that were not possible then incomes were to be increased. How and when were the incomes to be increased? The Minister did not make it clear what particular classes should have their incomes increased by way of compensation for increased prices.

Deputy Kyne, speaking in the House on the 31st March expressed regret that they had not been able to reduce the cost of living to any appreciable extent within the past six months. He went on and said:—

"One of the things that might come to help is that if we cannot bring down some of the commodities maybe we will bring up the things, that buy them. It is the same thing, if you get an increase in wages or if you reduce the price of commodities."

That was in Volume 149, column 1293. But I wonder is it really the same thing, or do Deputy Kyne and those who speak like him not realise what has been pointed out here this evening when it was stated that two-thirds of a penny increase per therm of gas will mean an increase to the consumer of 1½d., and the same with bus fares or with the selling cost of any other article or service? It is well known that by the time the consumer pays he has to pay far more, and greatly in excess of the increase in wages that has been granted. Moreover, if there are those general increases in wages where is the incentive, unless there is a corresponding increase in production, for employers to take on extra hands or to give additional employment? The employer may suddenly find that he has heavy increases to meet in respect of wages and no corresponding increase in the way of output and he is not one of those monopolists who is in a position to fix his own price—the commodity he sells may be one which is very elastic and people may refuse to buy when it reaches a certain increase in price.

All these factors, I am sure Deputy Kyne would realise, follow from general increases in wages, and it had been recognised in every European country that there was no meaning in fact in increasing wages unless there was a corresponding increase in production. As the Minister for Finance said recently, speaking to the Dublin Chamber of Commerce:—

"We must remember that out of current production labour gets the lion's share of the net production; substantial increases in wages are not possible unless a large increase in production is maintained."

That was a speech by the Minister for Finance at the annual dinner of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. If there is no higher output and there is a general increase in costs resulting from a general increase in wages, there will have to be redundancy, presumably, or there will have to be serious exploitation of the consumer.

In other words, if we do not accept the principle that costs must either be stabilised or reduced in proportion to the degree of increased productivity of the workers, it is obvious that our competitive position cannot be maintained, that in a severely competitive world we shall be carrying unnecessary costs, we will not be able to hold our position. The situation may not develop to a crisis for some time, but eventually unless it is dealt with and unless increases are related definitely to greater output and greater productivity on the part of the workers, there must be some reduction in the standard of living of the people, if there are not the more serious dangers of declining trade and rising unemployment. Hence we had the Minister for Finance appealing for wage restraint and exhorting the trade unions presumably to moderate their demands so that the national economy would not be thrown out of gear.

In that connection, we have had a very interesting correspondence between the Federated Union of Employers and the Secretary of the Congress of Irish Unions. It is not necessary for the Tánaiste to refer to the Central Bank for maxims or advice in these matters. It has been well recognised by succeeding chairmen and presidents of the British Trade Union Congress, for example, and by trade union associations in Sweden and, as I have said, in every other country, that there is no meaning in fact in a general round of wage increases unless it is accompanied by an equivalent increase in productivity.

When, on the 30th March, the Director General of the Federated Union of Employers wrote to the Secretary of the Congress of Irish Unions, he reminded him that on the 1st January last, in the Irish Review and Annual, Mr. Crawford had written the following:—

"It is obvious that if any union were to proceed in respect of one particular group of workers, a nationwide movement for extra pay would be initiated; and it is the general concensus of opinion that the present time is not opportune for that."

That was on the 1st January last. Mr. Crawford went on to say, as quoted by Mr. O'Brien:—

"It is felt that no claim covering any large section of employees could be effectively pursued without increasing the cost of living to some extent. Even if the effect on the consumer price index was only a fraction, the position of workers as a whole would be worsened in order to benefit a small minority. It is easy to visualise the outcome of such a development, but bearing in mind the over-all inadequacy of prevailing wages to meet the present difficult conditions, it is necessary that this whole problem should be constantly under review. In dealing with it and in implementing policy in regard to it, trade union leaders are actuated at all times by the best interest of the workers in general throughout the country and have so far demonstrated their willingness to make a contribution to the stabilisation of the national economy in times of crisis."

If the Labour leaders had not gone up and down this country claiming that the Government of the day was responsible for high prices and for unemployment, not to mention emigration, it would have been much easier, I am sure, to get the trade union leaders, whose remarks have been quoted already here this evening, to see the wisdom and the necessity of co-operating in a general national policy of stabilisation of costs and prices. But the Tánaiste went down to Limerick on the 30th April, 1955, and he stated there—it has been quoted already in this House—that only for the participation of the Irish Labour Party in the inter-Party Government there would have been considerable increases in the costs of essential foodstuffs. The question has been asked whether that means that the Irish Labour Party are solely responsible, through their influence in the inter-Party Government, for such steps as have been taken by the Government in the way of subsidies to try to stabilise prices, since they came into office.

There were others, too, as well as the Labour Party.

Recently a representative of the Central Bank has been telling us that he cannot understand why Governments insist on pretending that they can control prices. But is not that the position? Even in the Estimates for his Department early this year, the Tánaiste declared that he proposed to introduce permanent legislation for the control of prices as soon as possible but had not arrived at final conclusions. I assume that the Tánaiste is not an illusionist. His performances in this House show that he is not a very simple man by any means; he is a very shrewd man of affairs and a very shrewd politician. Perhaps, although he knows that it is, in fact, impossible—as has been admitted by himself as well as by the Taoiseach on several occasions—for the Government to control prices, he still thought some time may elapse, until he gets away from his election promises and election commitments. He cannot escape the sad fate of any trade union leader or representative who made these promises and who entered into these commitments, even when he knows they mean nothing, that they cannot in fact be carried into operation, that they would involve, as Mr. Meenan said, such complications as would make it impossible to carry them out or make them feasible in the economy of our country. He still persists in telling us that he can effectively control prices.

Was not Deputy Lemass going to do the same thing?

But Deputy Lemass had pointed out in this House frequently the difficulty of doing and of carrying out to the last degree——

So it is possible?

It is possible, if you have complete control, I should think.

Of what?

Complete control of the lives of the people. If you want to run things in the economy of the country as in a police State, you can control the shopkeepers and the manufacturers and the industrialists, the wholesalers and retailers; you can fix a certain price arbitrarily and the small shopkeeper and the small industrialist and the small businessman will be treated the same as in fact he is under these price-fixing systems as the big man; and the small shopkeeper and small businessman has to compete with the gentleman with high finance behind him and hire purchase and all the rest. Deputy Kyne knows very well that the business people in Dungarvan are on a different plane and a different level and allowances must be made for them as compared with the big stores and big houses here in the City of Dublin. That is only one example of the difficulty of price control but if the Labour Party and its representatives had not seen these difficulties, that is not my fault; it is theirs. They ought to have seen it and they ought to have known sufficient from their experience of the leaders of labour in other countries. It is not so long ago—in fact it was when the Tánaiste was on the top of his pitch attacking the Fianna Fáil Government for high prices, unemployment and emigration and all the rest of it—since we had a well-known trade unionist, Mr. Tom O'Brien, presiding at the English Trade Union Congress. As reported in the daily Press of September 9th, 1953, Mr. O'Brien stated:—

"It is the aim of trade unions to raise the living standards of their members. Increased production is the means to that end."

Further on he said:—

"It is almost weakminded to suggest that increased productivity simply means more profit for the bosses and no profit for anybody else."

Finally he said:—

"No financial juggling, no clever attempt to produce a popular Budget, can ever escape the obligation to raise production and increase exports. This is a basic fact which persists whether the Government is Labour or Conservative."

The conditions as between Ireland and England are not so different as not to make Mr. O'Brien's remarks fairly relevant.

He did not say anything about a standstill Order on wages. He must have missed that.

The standstill Order was accompanied by a standstill in regard to profits as well.

For the good of the workers; I know.

For the good of the workers. When the Labour Deputies attacked the 1952 Budget and, according to them, the damaging effects on the standard of living of the people generally and particularly of the workers, they never referred to the compensations granted to the social service classes, to which I have already referred. Neither did they ever admit that any increase had been granted in wages. Under the agreement which was terminated by the trade unions and which was set up by employers and employees in 1952 substantial adjustments had been made. The official figures which I have here show that in 1952 industrial earnings were 14 points above 1951, and in 1953 they were more than 16 points above 1952.

In the case of agricultural wages they also went up substantially between 1951 and 1953, and I have calculated that the increase in industrial earnings between 1951 and 1953 amounted to 12½ per cent. and that the increase in agricultural wages amounted to about 15 per cent. These increases may not have been sufficient; they may have been inadequate but there were some increases given and, as I have frequently said in regard to the Labour Court, it was there; people could go to it and if they did not get sufficient they could go back again, if the circumstances altered in any degree or some time elapsed, and perhaps do better. These figures show that has happened all the time. From 1946, when the standstill Order was set aside, there was a progressive increase in wages and in earnings and these are proved by the official record.

The unions made sure there was an increase all right. We did our job pretty well and we will continue to do so.

Reference has been made to our trading position. I must again call the attention of the House to the fact that we and the country generally do not seem to be sufficiently cognisant of the fact that our prosperity is depending in large degree upon the export of that feature of our economy which has so often been praised and dispraised, the bullock. For the first eight months of the present year it is clear from the official figures that no less than 44 per cent. of our total exports, consists of live animals. These exports, apart from the fact that they seem to be concentrated in a very narrow field also give occasion for anxiety, because in the June-September quarter we find that our exports were down by nearly £7,000,000 and they were down in volume also.

The volume and value of our imports, on the other hand, increased each month since January, and the adverse balance of trade, which is a fair index to our economic conditions and which represented over £64,500,000 in 1954, has already this year up to September come to more than £70,000,000, that is, every week we are importing £1.8 million worth of foreign goods, either consumable or other, more than we are exporting; and from the United States our imports as against our exports to that country are in the proportion of ten to one; as regards France, the proportion is ten to one; the Netherlands, nearly a proportion of ten to one; Canada, Germany and Sweden, a proportion of seven to one. Therefore, whereas from the United States we import nearly £11,000,000 worth we export only barely over £1,000,000 worth.

Could we have the source of that information?

The source is the Official Trade Statistics for the month of August issued by the Statistics Office. Much play has been made by the Tánaiste on the fact that any increases that have taken place with regard to the cost of living are due to increases in food prices. Do we object, he asked, to the farmers getting good prices or better prices? Of course, we do not. Personally, what I object to is that people refuse to pay the farmer, when they are consuming good milk or good butter, a fair price for his labour such as they themselves, in their capacity as workers, producers, professional people or public servants, demand. Why the farmer should be singled out for unfair treatment in that case is a thing I can never understand.

It was pointed out by an official Irish statistician recently that whereas 30 years ago more than half of the household expenditure was incurred on food, at the present time only over one-third of the household budget is for food. I wonder whether the housewife is getting the same proportion of the wage packet as she got 20 or 30 years ago. I hope she is. This statistician went on to point out that, although food represents only 35 per cent. of the average expenditure of £11 7s. per week, that is, £4 1s., omitting fuel, light, rent and clothing, all of which come to about 25 per cent., there is still 40 per cent. expended on sundries, including drink and tobacco—£4 8s. per week—so that there is substantially more spent on sundries, including drink and tobacco, than there is on food.

In a certain famous by-election in the city we had the spectacle of a loaf of bread being held up on a stick as propaganda against the bad Government which had increased the price of the loaf. Presumably, we will now have a lb. of the bad tea. Although we have heard a great deal about the price of the aforesaid tea in this debate and since the increase was announced, we have heard very little about the quality of the tea. I recall the "tayman" who in my boyhood days used to go around and force the farmer's wife to take bad tea. If he got the farmer's wife's back turned he stuck the tea in the window and the trouble started when the lady had to pay for it. The quality of the tea that we have been getting in Dublin must be taken into consideration, having regard to the substantial increase in price that has been announced.

The Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Dillon, sought to reply to my colleague, Deputy MacEntee, who made certain observations on the dangers of inflation. I suggest to the Minister that he is just as well aware as Deputy MacEntee is that we and our neighbours and the whole of Europe have been in this state of growing or creeping inflation since the war ceased. If proof of that is needed, it is in the purchasing power of the £1 which today, on the 1938 prices, would be 8/6. The value of the currency in a great many European countries has fallen even more. I thoroughly agree with Mr. Meenan in regard to countries like Sweden and Switzerland. It should be our aim to emulate them so that we would not alone preserve our political independence and the prosperity and welfare of our people but would build up a strong economic fabric. To do that, we would have to do as these countries have done, mass our attacks against the danger of inflation which, by reducing the value of the people's wages, salaries and income, imperceptibly but gradually and surely and continuously over a long period of time, without let-up, must have very serious consequences.

It would be of great advantage to workers, salary earners, professional people and all others to know that, instead of a continuous decline in the value of money, there would be a policy in operation which, even at the cost of sacrifices on the part of the community, would attempt to put a stop to that decline, a policy that would see to it that our £1 next year will buy at least as much as it bought this year and, in the following year, please God, will buy more. Side by side with the balancing of the Budget, the increased productivity to which I have referred and which has received a good deal of attention from speakers on all sides of the House in the recent past, deserves consideration by those interested.

The Minister for Finance referred in his Budget statement to the lack of savings. In the four months from March to June of this year savings are down very substantially on last year when they were down very substantially on the year before. That period may be a special period because it impinges upon holidays. I do not believe we are saving half the amount so far as Post Office Savings Bank and savings certificates are concerned as we were two years ago. Not only are the wages and incomes of the people affected but their savings are very seriously affected. People who put money aside expect that when their children come to collect it it will bear some resemblance in purchasing power to its purchasing power at the time that they saved it. That is not the case.

The Minister for Agriculture put into Deputy MacEntee's mouth words that the Deputy never uttered. In the first place, I think Deputy MacEntee was perfectly correct in calling attention to the fact that, far from taking the gun out of politics, as this Government has claimed to have done—it has claimed that it has restored public confidence—it has rather induced a sense of disrespect for authority by its lack of leadership, its lack of courage. The important thing is not necessarily the action that the Government takes. If people know that there is a Government that knows its mind, that has its policy and states clearly what it believes to be right, stringent action may not be necessary. With this Government we do not know where we are. We do not know where the real rulers of the country are. We do not know whether those who sit on the benches opposite claim to be the effective Government of this country or not. Surely, in a democratic assembly, we are entitled to criticise the Government if we feel strongly about these fundamental matters.

The Minister for Agriculture dragged in the names of persons outside this House and tried to suggest that Deputy MacEntee was disrespectful to his ecclesiastical superiors. There was no question of that. I think what Deputy MacEntee or any Deputy on any side of the House has a right to complain of is the ridiculous way in which the Government has managed to bring itself into contempt and to treat the institution of the Government and the institution of the President with humiliation and with ridicule.

Hear, hear!

Surely it was ridiculous to have all this exposed in the public Press when, if it had been handled in a more discreet manner—in a manner appropriate to the institutions and the interests that were in question— probably a solution could have been found for the whole thing without anybody being a bit the worse or anybody feeling badly about it. A surprisingly large number of people are disgusted and annoyed and humiliated by the circumstances and the actions that have taken place and which were not necessary. Apparently the Government was not able to make up its mind as to what its action was going to be or what its policy was going to be.

The Government knew nothing about it.

They did. They changed their step; they changed their mind, and they changed their whole attitude.

Would the Deputy like to put down a Parliamentary Question on that specific matter?

No, he would not.

Nor any member of his Party.

We are talking now about the restoration of public confidence. How can the public have confidence in an Administration that does not know its own mind or cannot be consistent in a simple matter as to whether or not a football team from Yugoslavia is to be afforded the usual amenities in this country?

There was a left-handed slight passed on the Archbishop of Dublin by your colleague: you are now attempting to cover him up.

I feel the matter has been sufficiently discussed. It is not relevant on this occasion.

And, being irrelevant, it should not have been allowed to be raised.

The Minister for Agriculture raised it and kept on repeating it. I have more respect for these institutions and these concerns than Deputy Dillon. It is only as a protest against misrepresenting what my colleague, Deputy MacEntee——

——stated, that I mention the matter. Deputy Dillon, the Minister for Agriculture, describes the beet growers' executive as "Fianna Fáil hacks". I do not know what a hack may be. I have not the dictionary by me. It connotes in my mind somebody who is in the political business for what he can get out of it. I have yet to learn that the Beet Growers' Association are so occupied with politics, Fianna Fáil or otherwise, that they are going to put on the executive farmers whose qualification is that they are political hacks. I cannot imagine any more grave libel on or insult to an organisation which, for the past 30 years or so, has done its share in building up this great industry and in making so many thousands of farmers participants and owners in the industry and co-operators in a very special way than to describe them as people who apparently are so eaten up with malice towards the Minister and his Administration that they are going to elect Fianna Fáil political hacks. Apparently they must think very well of the Fianna Fáil hacks when they elect them—if they fit the Minister's description—on their executive.

It is not so long ago since the Minister used somewhat similar terminology about the creamery suppliers. I remember when he was in office on the previous occasion and when the agitation about milk prices started, the chairman of that association and the officials were Fianna Fáil hacks. Of course, they had no connection, so far as I know, with the Fianna Fáil organisation.

The Minister is going off to Paris and Rome to discuss the Green Pool at the F.A.O. in Rome. He would spend his time somewhat better if he could try to get the creamery suppliers, the wheat producers and the beet growers to have a somewhat better opinion of him than they seem to have. He has questioned the figures given by Deputy Walsh regarding wheat. Deputy Walsh gave figures from the official statistics of the acreage of wheat—such figures as were available to him and such figures as his own knowledge gave him. I have been told by farmers that the yield of wheat in the areas with which I am acquainted has, in many cases, fallen by about 20 per cent.

That is not so.

I have heard of these cases. A very large acreage of wheat had been harvested before the really bad weather started last year and the feeling among farmers is that a very great acreage of new ground had been broken up last year. Until the final statistics are available, we cannot know. The Minister has given his interpretation and perhaps he is correct that, due to the fine weather, the farmers will do better than they did last year. We can only calculate when we see what the final figures of the return to the mills may be, whether his prognostications are correct. He also referred to the Minister for Grass but the background of the Minister for Agriculture ought to tell him that there is a certain connotation in regard to grass. A Maynooth professor on one occasions wrote a famous article on the hazel rod—in other words, in favour of cattle driving, because the people at that time felt that under-employment, emigration and economic decay were associated with those large tracts of land on which very poor farming or very poor grazing was done. That is the connotation that grazing often has—as I am sure Deputy McQuillan will confirm—in a great many parts of the country, particularly in the West where you have on the one hand thousands and thousands of congests and on the other hand fairly large areas of land given over solely to grazing.

The Fianna Fáil Party can with pride look back to the fact that it was they who prevented cereal growing from going out of production altogether in this country and that they gave the farmers guaranteed prices for their barley and wheat. We remember when they had to bring their barley home and could get no price. We remember when they could scarcely get the maltsters to take it off their hands for nothing. Deputy Dillon, the Minister for Agriculture, tells us that in the Cabinet papers he knows the farmers' interests never got a fair deal—that is what his remarks amount to—from the Fianna Fáil Administration. Strange that we have so many farmers in the Fianna Fáil Party. Strange that we have so many rural voters and farmer voters who support these Deputies and elect them to Dáil Éireann. Strange that we have so many of these so-called political hacks on the executives of important farming organisations. The fact that the Minister could describe the young men who are running an Irish farming journal, as he did recently, as only Fianna Fáil political hacks shows that he has an obsession, that he has this euphoric catharsis that Deputy MacEntee referred to earlier in the debate with regard to Fianna Fáil farmers.

It would be rather difficult to endeavour to follow the arguments of the last speaker for any length of time and I am sure that most of the people who listened to it are now suffering from the very same disease about which his colleague spoke to-day. We are all stunned and staggered by the length of his speech and the endurance involved in it and by his saying so much without really saying anything at all. There is one point which I should like to stress as part of what he said when he spoke of the spiral, of wages following prices. Let us be honest, and let us be clear about it, that prices always go up first. When the standstill comes on prices, then wages will remain where they are. Fianna Fáil tried the other policy, but this Government has no intention of doing that.

What I rose to speak about was not what Deputy Derrig said, fascinating though it was, but to say that our Party is not running away from their election promises, or from the 12-point programme which we were a party to on the formation of this Government. It was stated by Deputy Lemass that our Party made an issue at the last election of the fact that the prices of essential foodstuffs were beyond the means of the ordinary people. That is quite so; that was the Party line then, as it is now. When Fianna Fáil speakers speak of the wage increases which have been got within the past year, let it be clearly understood that these wage increases are not to compensate for any increases that occurred within the past 12 months.

The cost-of-living index figure is a clear indication of what rise there was in the price of commodities. A claim could only be justified if it was based on the two point increase and those of us who have experience in the handling of claims of workers realise that, when we fight our case at the Labour Court, we base the case on a 1/- increase for each point, and that the sums of 12/6 and 15/- being awarded by the Labour Court and secured by the workers within the past six or eight months are but the balance required to meet the increases in the cost of living of 25 points caused by the Fianna Fáil Budget of 1952. The agreement presented by one of the congresses on behalf of their group of workers for a 12/6 national increase represents only compensation for a 12½ point increase, whereas we all know, and the cost-of-living index figure has proved, that there was an increase of some 25 points and that it is only this year that the workers are belatedly securing redress.

Should there be further increases under this or any other Government, the workers of this country will see to it, through the strong right arm of their trade union movement, that they will be compensated and compensated to the full. We make no apology and we seek no assistance from anybody on that score. All we ask of any Government is a fair deal. We will protect ourselves so long as we do not suffer from the imposition of a standstill Order which was imposed in this country only once and by one particular Government.

Deputy Lemass, in the course of his speech to-day, asked what was the difference between price increases which occurred under his Government and the price increases which occurred under this Government. He asked how did the Labour Party justify their stand. I think the answer to that is pretty simple and the ordinary man or woman—at least, the ordinary labour man or woman—can answer it quite easily. The difference is this: the 1952 increases were brought about by the deliberate act of a Government, in either increasing the taxation on commodities to fill the Exchequer or the deliberate withdrawal of subsidies on foodstuffs. That was done at the behest of the Central Bank to make up the difference between imports and exports and it was done to cause consumer goods to be allowed to go free so that they could be exported and the gap evened up.

We in the Labour Party know that if increases come under this Government they will come only with the sanction of the Labour Minister for Industry and Commerce, and that will only be given when every other means of controlling them has failed, when a clear case has been made that the people dealing with the particular commodity require such an increase to meet circumstances beyond their control and when it is proved necessary to maintain the employment content of the particular industry. That is the difference.

We in the Labour Party could ask at present what is all this talk about price increases. Tea is going up by 2/- but we know, because we have been studying the position, that it is not just a question of tea, and it is because of that, that speaking in Clonmel last Thursday evening, I made it clear to my audience and to the public of Ireland, through the medium of the newspapers, that we realise that tobacco, cigarettes, beer and spirits, coal, gas and probably some other commodities will in the near future very likely be increased.

I was aware, and I mentioned it at the time I was speaking, that those engaged in the bakery trade had an application in for a wage increase. I felt they had made a case which justified such an increase and the Labour Court awards of yesterday proved that. I feel that if the Government cannot manage to devise some means by which that increase will not be passed on to the price of bread, it is quite possible that even the price of bread may have to go up ¼d. or a ½d. per 1-1b. loaf. But there is a vast difference between giving to an industry its minimum absolute needs to carry on and the action of a Fianna Fáil Government in 1952.

What were the Labour members of an inter-Party Government to do? What was their choice? Were they to hide their heads in the sand and say: "All things are well. We do not want to look facts in the face. We just want things to remain as they are"? We are intelligent, I hope, and, whether we are intelligent or not, we are honest. We do not want to say that all things are going well. We regret the increase; we regret the fact that tea had to be increased; and we do not like the fact that tobacco is likely to go up. Neither are we glad that a penny must go on the pint of beer. We will regret it also if bread has to be increased but some things are inevitable, and we must face up to that.

We are not afraid to face our promises. Let me take you back to one of the promises I made in this House on behalf of the Labour Party. I said we would not take part in a Government and neither would we be associated with a Government that would increase the prices of essential foodstuffs. The history of this Government in one short year is not the despondent thing that Fianna Fáil would like the country to think. Although we have been twitted all the evening with not bringing anything down, the very first act of this Government, at the cost of about £1,500,000, was to reduce the price of butter, the most essential food in respect of the worker, by 5d. per lb. If we had not changed the Government last June 12 months we would still be paying 5d. per lb. extra.

A reduction of 5d. per lb. in butter is a considerable reduction. It is also worthy of notice that if we did not reduce the price of bread, sugar or tea we gave 2/6 of an increase on top of the famous increase of Fianna Fáil to help the most needy section of our people to pay for the things that were put up by Fianna Fáil. It cost almost £3,000,000 between our subsidies and the fact that we kept tea prices from being increased by whatever means you like until September. These are considerable savings to the working section of the community of this country and I, as a Labour man, am proud to think that a Labour Party had a strong hand and a strong voice in urging upon the Government that these things should be done.

Deputy Lemass referred to-day to Point 2 of the inter-party programme. I think that in his reading of Point 2 he missed the most significant aspect. The main thing in that section of the programme is that we were determined to reduce the cost of living in relation to the people's income. We still believe that and know we can do it. We say that trade unionists will have a free hand to increase their incomes to meet whatever increases would be permitted. As far as this Government is concerned they need fear no standstill Order.

To the poorer sections we say that we will make ample compensation where essential foodstuffs are increased. It may be that some of the people of this country will ask whether the Labour Party have forgotten about subsidies or whether they have forgotten their promises. To carry out subsidisation of essential foodstuffs in such a manner that it would not be exploited by manufacturers or by people who did not need the subsidy, it would be essential to introduce a form of rationing. Rationing was done away with in 1952 by the Fianna Fáil Government. To restore that and to administer it would cost almost as much as it would to subsidise.

We in the Labour movement believe that the secret of the success of our movement lies in determining the cost of living in relation to the people's income. If we cannot bring down the cost of living, then we will bring up the income of those on social welfare benefits, the old, the blind, the widows and orphans, the sick and those people in respect of whom the Labour Party came here pledged to fight in their interests. We are glad to see that to-day saw the first instalment of how the Labour Party and the Inter-Party Government combined keep their promise.

There is no increase in the price of tea for that section of the community. They are compensated and more than compensated. Anyone who tries to work out what the increase of 2/- per lb. of tea to the sick and the old age pensioner will be likely to result in will find it will probably be about 3d. but they are compensated to the extent of 6d.

It will be said that that cost a penny a day. It will be thrown in our face but I have too much experience of dealing with people who had to depend on 18/- and 21/-, and earlier on 10/- per week, to know that those old and defenceless people cannot afford to laugh at 6d. even now. Do any of you who are up against the realities of life and who are reduced to living on national health benefit—at a time under the Fianna Fáil Government it was 7/6 and during the years of the war I worked as an agent and handed it out to the old people—think that if I offered them an increase of 6d. per week they would be insulted, humiliated or ashamed to take it or would have anything but praise? I am satisfied that the people for whom we legislate will understand what we are doing and will realise that it is but an instalment of a promise made that before this Government goes out of office within the next four years, please God, they will see to it that the major portion of our promise is kept.

The Minister for Social Welfare will tell you, if he speaks in this debate, that he is even now examining the position to see what can be done in regard to a bigger and better scheme of social welfare. He hopes to bring before the Dáil a scheme that will not only provide better weekly benefits for those in need but will also provide retirement pensions for workers, pensions they so sadly want and which they were promised for so long. The details of the scheme are not mine to give but I can assure the House that the Labour Party as such will keep on pressing their Minister to make sure that the very best scheme possible within the means and compass of the country will be introduced in the Dáil before we go out of office and will become law with or without the assistance of Fianna Fáil.

In case any Fianna Fáil member would feel inclined to twit either the Government or the Labour Party with a 6d. per week increase for the poorer sections, let me remind them that on a famous occasion not so long ago Deputy MacEntee, when Minister of another Department, granted the sum of 6d. per week to the road workers of County Cork. That happened at a time when he was asked only if he would sanction an increase which the local authority of that county were prepared to give. The increase the local authority had in mind was much higher. It is very little use to an unemployed man to be told that the cost of living or the cost of something or other is about to fall; if one is on the dole and unable to secure work and has not the means of buying food for one's wife and family, it makes very little difference to one whether the price of tobacco or beer goes up or down.

There is one thing which the Minister for Industry and Commerce has done in this country within the past 12 months. He has reduced the number of unemployed people by some 10,000. I know very well it can be said that these people possibly emigrated, but I think that lie can be nailed quite easily. It is admitted there is huge emigration, and do not let me deny for a moment the fact that the life-blood of this country is being drained by emigration. But this has not happened particularly under the inter-Party Government. Rather, I would suggest, emigration is smaller now than it was heretofore. If you take the register of population for this country over a number of years and examine it seriously you will find there are approximately 25,000 more births than deaths during a given period. Nevertheless, the total population of the country is, for all practical purposes, approximately stationary.

That would suggest that, roughly, 25,000 people leave this country every year, that they have been leaving it in the past and that they will leave it in the future unless we change our system of finding employment. But on the unemployment register it is clearly indicated—and without any trick of book-keeping or device of that kind— that there are thousands fewer unemployed this year than there were last year. If that trend continues and if the efforts of the Tánaiste are successful in getting foreign investments in industry here, there can be no doubt that the effect on emigration will be appreciable, and that in four years time a debate in this House will not be an attack on us as to how we kept our promises. In such a debate the Labour Party will be able to prove that the policy they have advocated for years is the policy the country needs.

With the peace and prosperity which the country will enjoy through our programme and through the social services we have initiated will come a stop to emigration. If anyone wants to know why I intend to vote against the Fianna Fáil motion it is this: Deputy Lemass indicated what choices the Government had. Let me indicate what choice the Labour Party have. If we vote for the Fianna Fáil motion we will put out this Government and possibly put in a Fianna Fáil Government to give us higher tea prices without any compensation, to give us a lower standard of social welfare and to give us more unemployment. Does anybody think I am a fool? I know how my bread is buttered and I know when the people I represent are getting the best out of a bad lot. I know that I must not vote for Fianna Fáil.

I wish——

The Minister for Social Welfare.

I do not mind if Deputy McQuillan gets in now. I just wanted to say——

Toujours la politesse.

I do not mind if the Minister makes his speech now.

It is usual to take a Minister when he offers first.

What amused me to-day in this debate was the attitude of the Fianna Fáil spokesmen on the question of social welfare. There were derisive remarks from the Opposition Benches when the reliefs in relation to certain people were announced by the Tánaiste. I think Deputy Kyne has put the case pretty well as far as these benefits are concerned, but I should like to elaborate to some extent on what he has said. Our main concern in this debate is the immediate increase in the price of tea. The reason for that and the reason for the holding of the price of tea has been fully explained by the Tánaiste and followed up by some other Government speakers. We appreciate, and I particularly do, how hard it would be for certain people in receipt of social welfare benefits to carry this increase of 2/- a lb. on tea. It has been mentioned that the average national consumption of tea is in the region of 2½ ounces per person per week. We do appreciate that that average weekly consumption could not necessarily be applied to old age pensioners, to blind people, to widows and to certain other people who are chronically ill. It is for that reason that we realised the increase of 2/- a lb. would affect such people. In respect of other categories there are other remedies which have already been mentioned by the Tánaiste and to a very large extent by Deputy Kyne. The wage earners, through the action of the trade unions to which they belong, can, to a certain degree, protect or cushion themselves against the new increase in tea prices and other commodities. The essential difference between this Government and the Fianna Fáil Government is that this question has not affected and will not, and does not intend to interfere with the free negotiation that has taken place over the past six months as between employer and employee.

I am sure it must have been very revealing to the majority of the members who represent the workers on the others side of the House when the Tánaiste to-day produced the actual file, which nobody in the Opposition's Front Benches challenged, which included the draft of a Bill to stabilise wages in 1947. The reason for that Bill at the time, given by Deputy Lemass, then Minister for Industry and Commerce, was that because they could not control prices they would have to control wages. I think the House should note that particularly. The workers of the country must take note of that and must realise the danger there would be to their pay packets if Fianna Fáil were to go back into office. The old age, the blind, the widows and certain other categories are unable to protect themselves against price increases, particularly in reference to the 2/- a lb. on tea. They are dependent on the Government and, if you like, the Minister for Social Welfare to cushion them.

During the year we have already come to their aid and when I introduced the particular Bill I did not think the help we were giving these people was spectacular. I do not think that the increase was sufficient to enable these people to live in the lap of luxury, but I say, and I believe, that it was a reasonably good effort on the part of the Government to make available by good budgeting a sum of £1,250,000 per year in order to give these people some increase, an increase that was long overdue. That sum of £1,250,000 per year represents an increase of 2/6 per week. That 2/6 was not intended to compensate these people for the increase in the cost-of-living index figure of two points which occurred during our period in office; but it did that, and it also took up some of the slack, or some of the increase that was morally due to them consequent on the behaviour of the Fianna Fáil Government in the Budget of 1952.

Those who deride the 2/6 should remember how Fianna Fáil treated the old age pensioners, the blind, the widows and the orphans in similar circumstances. At a time when there had been a substantial increase in the cost of living, the old age pensioners received the magnificent sum of 1/6 per week to compensate them for the substantial increase in the price of bread, butter, tea, sugar, flour and a variety of other commodities. At that time we had Fianna Fáil speakers, then on this side of the House, endeavouring by some mathematical process to demonstrate how this 1/6 could compensate these people. To-day, on the other hand, we had Deputy Lemass describing this relief to social welfare recipients as a miserable 6d. per week. But this 6d. per week represents an increase of 3/- to these people within a period of four months. Indeed, I think we can truthfully say that that increase represents the greatest single increase given in such a short period since the establishment of this State.

Fianna Fáil compensated these people for an increase in the cost-of-living index figure of seven points by giving them 1/6 per week. We are compensating them for the increase in the price of tea now by making a certain award. We have outlined the road along which we propose to travel. Last year we granted an increase representing £1,250,000 per annum. We propose within our period of office to fulfil every single promise we made in relation to social welfare. We have gone a fair part of the road. I am not here to boast that we have done everything that should be done for the old age pensioners and other social welfare recipients; and it will be my task and the task of the Government to ensure that benefits in accordance with the cost of living will be afforded to these people.

The Tánaiste has already explained —I would like to explain it a little more fully—that this increase will not be applied to the weekly payments but will be given to these people by way of a lump sum in the week before Christmas. That will mean that these old age pensioners in receipts of 24/- a week will in that particularly week receive a sum of 48/-, and so will certain other classes of social welfare recipients. A substantial number will benefit by this increase: 6,000 blind pensioners; 160,000 old age pensioners and 28,000 widows and orphans. In addition, there are certain other classes which could, even though they are in the insurance group, properly be regarded as very deserving; for instance, those who are chronically ill. This particular benefits of doubling the basic allowance will also apply to those who are then in receipt of sickness or disability benefit for over one year. These people are described as "long duration" cases and are classified as being more or less chronically ill. In order to qualify they must have 156 contributions and be ill for a period of 12 months. In the week before Christmas they also will receive double allowances.

Now, whether or not one describes this as 6d. per week, it means that, because the Government has found it necessary to increase the price of tea, it is also conscious of the fact that these people need protection against that increase. This Government is prepared, as I am sure most Fianna Fáil supporters would be prepared, to devote a substantial sum to offsetting the increase of 2/- per lb. in the price of tea, and so the Government has allocated £250,000 in addition to the £1,250,000 allocated in the Budget of this year for the further relief of that particular type of individual.

Deputy Kyne referred to other categories of social welfare recipients in relation to which certain modifications are in contemplation. Within our term of office, and I do not mean the absolute end of it, we will fulfil our promise to increase these benefits.

I want to take this opportunity of again warning those who are contributors that this increase will, of necessity, mean an increase in contributions both from the employer, the employee and the Exchequer. The fund at present is made up of a contribution of one-third from the Exchequer, one-third from the employer and one-third from the employee. I cannot say when I will have my proposals before the House, because it is a very big problem, in relation to retirement pensions. I anticipate that any proposals brought forward will receive the sanction of the House; and they will represent, of course, yet another example as to how the Government proposes to fulfil every promise made in relation to social welfare.

There has been a good deal of talk about emigration and unemployment. No matter how anyone may try by means of witty interjection to play down the matter, the fact is that over the last 12 or 16 months unemployment has been running at approximately 9,000 or 10,000 less than what it was the year before. That reduction may be something about which to boast; but I and my Government's fundamental belief is that we cannot afford to stop at that. We do not, so to speak, propose to rest on our laurels and be content with that reduction. So long as there are 45,000, 50,000 or 60,000 unemployed here in any particular period we will regard it as our duty and responsibility to create such conditions here as will afford suitable opportunities for employment for these people. I do not say that we have now no emigration. I know there is emigration. I cannot say whether or not we have made any improvement in that situation because, as everybody knows, it is difficult to determine since there is free access to Britain, exactly how many emigrate; but all the evidence before us points to the fact that there must be some slight improvement. As well as the reduction of 9,000 or 10,000 in the unemployment figure, there has been a fairly substantial increase in the numbers of those who are employed, and the two figures taken together indicate that emigration has been corrected to some slight extent at least.

Debate adjourned.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday, 27th October, 1955.