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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 20 Mar 1956

Vol. 155 No. 6

Committee on Finance. - Central Fund Bill, 1956—All Stages.

Leave granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to apply certain sums out of the Central Fund to the service of the years ending on the thirty-first day of March one thousand nine hundred and fifty-six and one thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven and to establish a fund to be known as the Capital Fund.
Agreed that the further stages be taken to-day.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time.

The Bill we have just received is to pay out for a portion of the service of the year the sum of £36,200,000. That sum, let it again be stated, is the greatest that was ever asked for by any Government at any time. There are a few remarkable things about the debate which has just concluded on the Vote on Account. In the first place, it is the first major financial debate for as long as I can remember in which Deputy McGilligan, the present Attorney-General, did not take part. He stole in here to vote for this sum of money. I thought we would see him coming down on a broom-stick and waving his magic wand to stop this incompetent Minister for Finance and show him how to get the money.

We must not agree with the Deputy.

It was Deputy McGilligan who went to the radio on the night before the election and told us there was £20,000,000 to be saved and that all we had to do was to find a Minister for Finance who had the knowledge, the ability and the determination to go after it. But these people who represented themselves over the years as financial wizards have now been exposed to the country as mere financial muddlers. They said they refused to follow the British in certain things. They are now trying to muddle through difficulties in the way the British are said to have done over the centuries but, instead of muddling through their difficulties, they are stumbling from one muddle into a worse muddle. Instead of giving us the £20,000,000 reduction which their financial wizards were to give us, they have muddled into a situation in which the taxpayers has to supply, according to the bill presented now, another £7,000,000 more than the sum which they promised to reduce by £20,000,000. The Minister for Finance warned us, threatened us, in fact, when introducing his special levies, that they might call for more before long.

These wizards are now exposed to the country as the muddling incompetent men they are. They were by some magic wand to reduce prices to the 1951 level but the wizards lost their magic wand when they got into office and prices have gone up by seven points and not back to the 1951 prices but up to the level of 1956. During the general election they said they were going to take strenuous and active steps by means of subsidies and otherwise to reduce these prices.

When the Minister for Industry and Commerce spoke here recently on a Bill and adverted to the level of prices, instead of indicating that he was going to carry out that piece of wizardry and reduce prices to the 1951 level he told us that he really could not do anything about it until the prices fell or until they became stabilised and then, when there was no longer any need for price control, he was going to produce the piece of magic out of his hat.

These wizards were to reduce the interest rates. Five per cent. was a rate of interest that only a banana republic would give according to the Minister for Agriculture, but they are now giving 5? per cent. and even that was not enough because the people refused to subscribe to it. The reason we have this measure here to-day is because the people went on strike. They would not give this Government money and the Government are now taking measures to take it off them by force.

Had the Minister got his £20,000,000 from the people when he went a month or so ago for it, we might not have had these measures proposed to us about which the Minister for Finance has told us. Not only was 5? per cent. offered to the ordinary person who would invest in the last National Loan but we are going to give 6 per cent. to the income-tax payers for Savings Certificates because the 4 per cent. is free of income-tax. In effect, we are going to give 6 per cent. for savings to income-tax payers and continue to give 4 per cent. to the non-income-tax payers. The lack of confidence that the people have in the Government is shown by the fact that they had to promise to repay these 6 per cent. Savings Certificates within six years instead of the normal ten years.

That was a nice piece of muddling having regard to the allegation that no banana republic would pay 5 per cent. Here these muddlers are now paying 5? per cent. Over the past number of years we have been defended throughout the country with talk about the rate of interest that the Central Bank and others were getting on the external assets, the external reserves of the nation. We were accused of actually wanting to sustain the British in their attacks on the Mau Mau by leaving our external assets there drawing only ½ per cent. The wizards were going to take all those external assets home and invest them in Irish industry or invest them, as they called it, in human welfare—as the Taoiseach, Deputy Costello, put it once. We have got away from all that now.

Instead of taking home and exhausting our external assets, instead of going through all the wizardry and jugglery that was to create heaven on earth, according to the Coalition Deputies not so long ago, we are taking drastic steps to save what is left of our external assets and we are going to take these special levies. We are trotting round the world getting people to invest their money here in order that our level of external assets will be built up because every penny that a foreign industrialist invests here swells our external assets for the time being even though it may possibly create a very much larger draw upon our external reserves in future years.

The Minister for Finance is an expert on 1952 and all that. The reason he talks so much about 1952 is that he is afraid and wants to divert attention from 1956 and 1957.

You will not forget 1956 in Kerry.

Again, the Minister for Finance referred to the Central Bank report for 1955 and said it absolved him from any odium that he did not take action earlier. My reading of that Central Bank report does not bear out what the Minister says about it. It warned him in 1955 that there was great need for caution to see that the improvement in the balance of trade situation would be sustained and stabilised. The Minister for Finance himself, in his 1955 Budget speech, referred to the balance of trade in 1954 and mentioned that a great part of the improvement was due to the fact that we had to import less wheat as we were producing it ourselves. It is a wonder that when the Minister read that out he did not get it into his mind and be cautious in a year in which the Government had announced a decrease in the price of wheat to the home farmer—a decrease that increased our adverse trade balance in 1955 by several millions.

Obviously the Deputy did not listen to what I said.

I have the Minister's speech of 1955. "The fall in imports in 1954"—said the Minister on 4th May, 1955—"is explained mainly by increased home production which lessened our dependence on certain foreign products. There were decreases in wheat, maize and sugar." That was, of course, because the crops that were planted in the winter of 1953 and the spring of 1954 had reduced our need for the import of these products. That was one of the reasons why the adverse trade balance showed such a favourable trend from the point of view of any normal human being. A favourable trend is that our deficit decreased. The reason was because we had less wheat and less feeding stuffs——

Why had we to buy more in 1955?

Because the Government announced we would have a 12/6 cut— and they did that in spite of the fact that the Taoiseach, then Deputy Costello, went to the radio and announced to the farmers that he would give the Fianna Fáil price for five years.

Did the Deputy not hear me a second ago say that the reason was that imported wheat had to be bought to mix in with the bad wheat of the 1954 harvest?

That is part of the Fine Gael cackle.

It happens to be a thing the Deputy would not understand—the truth.

The excuses they make for this foolish policy of trying to drive our people out of the crops they can grow for sale here, and save us an import——

Why did you give up the wheat-growing?

The bread and flour prices, according to these wizards, were to be reduced back to the 1951 level. What happened? Instead of decreasing the price of bread and flour they drove up the price of biscuits and cake.

Who drove up the price of bread and flour? Do not mind your biscuits and cakes.

They did not take it down and they put on more on the other flour products.

Eat your biscuits.

The wizards were going to bring tea back to the 1951 prices but, instead of that, they put 2/4 more on it. It would be a good idea if the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance drank some tea for himself, dear or cheap. Tea was to go back to the 1951 prices. If the Coalition Deputies think they will stop me from speaking, they are making a mistake.

It would be a pity.

Deputy Aiken is in order.

The wizards were going to take down the price of tea. After muddling around for a while, instead of taking tea back to the 1951 prices they pushed it up by 2/4 a lb.

Why do you not drink light beer, so?

There was to be no Health Act, according to Fine Gael. Those wizards were going to abolish it. Now they have implemented it in the most expensive way they can think of and pushed the cost on to the rate-payers notwithstanding the fact that the Minister for Defence promised the people that not only was the Central Government going to withstand all further increases in the rates but actually it was going to pay some of the rates as they existed in 1953.

Shades of Dr. Browne.

These wizards promised the people they were going to lower prices and lower taxation. We have had one announcement from the Minister for Agriculture recently that, not content with collecting an extra £7,000,000 taxation—when they promised a decrease of £20,000,000-they are now going to collect further taxes in order to subsidise the export of bacon to Britain. The people are already paying some of this £7,000,000 for a subsidy towards the export of butter to Britain. These measures the Government have taken have been rendered necessary because they did not take a step in time. A wise Government would have taken, steps long ago and saved all this muddle which is now imposing the hardships the Minister has apologised for on all the people affected by these levies and the changes in regard to hire-purchase.

The Minister took no action a year ago because he wanted the Fine Gael and Coalition clique to be able to say throughout the country that they would not follow the British; they were going to hit the British in their pride, their prestige and their pockets, but now, instead of taking steps that would be adequate and suitable to our economy, they are swallowing the British lead hook, line and sinker. They are running after the British like lapdogs. Because the British imposed purchase tax, they must do it; because the British imposed a general restriction on bank credit, they must do it, rather than take steps that would expand credit to those industries and sections of industry and agriculture that would increase our production and so meet the home consumers' demand or help to pay, through our exports, for some of the consumers' requirements.

There has been no clear diagnosis by the Minister of what is causing this inflation, one symptom) and merely one symptom of which is this increase in the deficit in our balance of payments. The Minister in his speech blamed the whole trouble on increased money incomes, as he put it, and on higher wages. Lest Deputies may think I am exaggerating, I will give a few quotations from the Minister on that matter.

In Volume 155, No. 3, column 328, of the Official Debates, the Minister said:—

"... we were consuming more than we were producing at home ... A further increase in money incomes, not matched by an improvement in production and in productivity, could only at this juncture drive up domestic prices by causing an internal inflation, or increase still further the volume of our imports for consumption purposes."

Later on he said:—

"In the light of the experience of the past year or so, which clearly reveals both the direct connection between higher wages and still higher prices and the disturbing effect on the balance of payments of increased expenditure not matched by increased production, it is my earnest hope that ... there will be stability in money incomes."

In another portion of his speech, at column 333 of the same volume, he said:—

"When regard is had, however, to the disimprovement we face in the terms of trade and to the additional pressure on the balance of payments this year which must result from last year's increases in money incomes, we are left with no alternative but to restrict for the time being our imports of less essential consumer goods."

The Minister, I gathered, from a careful study of this speech, can see only one cause for the inflation that is causing the increase in the deficit in our balance of payments and that is higher wages and higher money incomes. It is extraordinary that the Minister did not deal with that matter more fully in his concluding statement.

Do you want to bring in another Wages Standstill Order?

He was asked to deal with what he thought was the fundamental cause of the situation and I want to say that I disagree with him because there are causes other than the increased money incomes and the increased wages. It is only a year ago that the Minister and his colleagues were advocating that everybody, except the wheat grower, should increase his money income and increase his wages in order to compensate himself for the increase in prices which they had promised to reduce.

The Minister, in my opinion, showed clearly that he has still no knowledge of the fundamentals of finance when he ignored one of the most vital factors in the situation here which caused the inflationary situation that resulted in this increase in the deficit in the balance of payments. He made no advertence at all to the level of bank advances. In the year 1955, our bank advances increased by £31.6 million over the previous year. That is a fair sum when you realise that it is 19 per cent. of the total advances. We all know that bank advances of that kind create deposits. If they do not create deposits in our own banks, they create them in some other bank when the money flows out to import goods. It is interesting to know what happened that £31.6 million. A great deal of it went to the Government. By October of 1955, the Government advances had reached the sum of £13,000,000. By how much they increased in November and December, we do not know.

They dropped £4,000,000 over the year.

Deputy O'Donovan would want to straighten out his ideas with the Minister for Finance. While the Minister for Finance recently woke up to the fact that there was an inflationary situation that should be dealt with, Deputy O'Donovan and some of the Ministers went throughout the country and said that he was all hot and bothered about nothing, that there was really nothing to be frightened about.

I am talking to the Minister for Finance at the moment. The Minister for Finance did not advert to this fundamental situation that the bank advances had gone up by £31.6 million and that the Government got, as far as we know, nearly half and perhaps more——

Well, that is not too accurate.

The figure was £13,000,000 up to the end of October and from that to the end of the year we do not know how much it was. The Minister used the phrase, "in the light of the experience of the last year ..." Did he mean in the light of the experience of those who had very much more experience than he has had?

Is that a nice phrase to cover the Deputy?

It includes myself.

That is what I mean.

There was no necessity to wait for the experience of this last year to know that certain steps that were taken by the Government were going to result in the mess that we are facing to-day.

I have no confidence that the Governtment mean to tackle the problem. They are certainly ignoring one of the fundamentals, and, when they do that, no one can trust them to deal with the situation, or trust that they would deal with it, if they knew what was wrong.

You brought down the Government in 1947.

Why did the Minister for Finance not advert to the factor I have mentioned? I grant that there is quite a lot of common sense written into the Minister's speech—I wish it could be as easily written into his mind and into his actions.

The Minister is able to assimilate more quickly than the Deputy.

There are some things that he might not assimilate, but it is strange that that factor in the situation should have been ignored by the Minister, considering that a similar thing happened in other countries where they had an increase in bank advances, an increase in the monetary supply, which resulted in the deficit in the balance of payments to about the same extent.

One other factor which the Minister did not really attempt to bring to the attention of the Dáil or the people is that the situation, before he woke up, threatened to be twice as bad, or almost twice as bad, in the coming year as it was last year. This deficit in the balance of payments for the first couple of months of the present year ran at an average of £3,500,000 per month higher than last year when we had a £35,000,000 deficit. There are six periods of two months each in the year, and if it had continued at that rate the deficit would have been twice as great as last year.

We hope the Minister, in his further statements to the House and to the country, will not blame altogether the people who sought for increased money incomes when they were encouraged to do so by his statement that there was no need for worry about the balance of payments. We hope he will get down and explain more fully to the people the basic facts in the situation and how they should be tackled. It is important that that should be done.

It is good that some of the statements which the Minister made in his speech in introducing the Vote on Account should be made. I commend particularly that statement of his in which he said at column 336:—

"We cannot vote ourselves progressive increases in our standard of living."

I hope that the Coalition Deputies going to meetings round the country will great that little piece of advice to the people with whom they come in contact.

Another very good part of the Minister's speech was:—

"The community cannot have at one and the same time both more consumption and more investment than its present output will support."

There was no such limitation prior to this sudden light that struck the Minister from his experience of last year.

There was no such imitation on the standard of living of our people; they could have all the consumption they wanted; they could have all the investment they wanted.

They could not have all the wages they wanted.

They could have all the wages they wanted when the Coalition would wave its wand, but, at column 330 of this volume, the Minister said:—

"They cannot, the limitation is their present output and what it will support in the line of investment and consumption."

It is good that these statements should be made, even though it is costly experience. It has been a costly lesson to the people who still have a balance to pay, unfortunately. It is good that these statements should be made by a Minister representing a Government comprised of Parties that sang quite a different tune for years. The truth is that, if we want to make progress in this country, we must pay for it by greater efforts. If we want a higher standard of living, and if we get it at the cost of our savings, our savings will come to an end and our standard of living is likely to decrease rather than increase.

I am glad it was the Minister and not any Fianna Fáil Minister who had to make some of the statements which the Minister made. Otherwise, we would have been accused of deliberately cutting down the living standard of the people. We would be told we were doing it heartlessly and deliberately and all the other adverts that were used to describe the iniquity of Fianna Fáil when they pointed out the necessity to keep something in reserve to enable to us to purchase the equipment it was necessary to install here, if we wanted to build up a higher standard of living on a permanent basis. I am glad that the Minister said that and I hope he will act on it. The lectures which the Minister included in his speech regarding consumption of goods are worth repeating.

Better than the Deputy's lecture anyway.

What would he have to say if he had not got all these quotations.

At column 325 of the same volume the Minister is reported as having said:—

"A deficit of such magnitude would in any circumstances give cause for concern, arising as it did not from the import of capital goods but of goods for consumption."

Something to be despised it would have been said had we made such a statement. At column 328 of the same volume the Minister went on:—

"What of our volume of imports? In 1955 the high level of imports arose because we were consuming more than we were producing at home and, therefore, brought in imports to fill the gap."

Later on in the same column he said:—

"A further increase in money incomes, not matched by an improvement in production and in productivity, could only at this juncture drive up domestic prices by causing an internal inflation or increase still further the volume of our imports for consumption purposes."

There are 19 similar references by the Minister to the high level of consumption which he was taking steps to curb. The Minister as we know has threatended us that we have not seen the last of these steps unless consumption falls pretty rapidly, because in column 330 of the same volume he said:—

"I do not, of course, propose today—when the whole picture is not available—to review the problems of providing the finance for our necessary expenditure, current or capital."

It is too bad we have all these piecemeal Budgets. Three Budgets in one year is a bit too much——

You started that in 1947.

——from a Government that were going to cut down taxation.

Did not you give us three Budgets in 1947?

You gave us a Budget in May last year, you gave us the tea Budget and now this one.

Did not you give us three Budgets in 1947?

That is not true.

It can be proved quite easily.

You had two Budgets in 1947——

——and there was more yapping about the £4,500,000 we were going to raise through taxation, yet in the past two years what is collected in taxation has been increased by £7,000,000 and because the Minister has not told us we do not yet know what the increase will be in the coming Budget or who is going to be hurt. We do not know what is going to strike the Minister from the light of the experience he has gained in the past two years. In column 330 of the volume already quoted the Minister said:—

"I must assume that the public will increase their savings to a significant degree. If this assumption were not made, very drastic reductions would have to be made in public capital outlay at great cost in terms of employments and of future prospects of improved living standards."

There were no such limitations on the demands made upon the Fianna Fáil Government for increased State capital outlay. Fianna Fáil were not to be so restricted. If the public do not increase their savings, do not give the money the Minister is looking for, he proposes to take very drastic action. He has admitted himself, as reported in the same column, that the last National Loan failed to attract adequate subscriptions from the public. One of the reasons for that was that the people had no trust in the Government and that because the people were unable to save they had to get loans from the banks.

The Minister stated also that when the 1954 loan was issued at a reduced rate of interest they were entitled to point out as a gratifying feature and as one which indicated confidence in the Government that 13,000 people, small savers, invested their money in that loan. So far the Minister has not indicated what was the number of small investors among the people who subscribed the few millions to this last issue. The Government claimed that the previous loan was a success because of general public confidence. If that is so I will not be taken amiss if I interpret the complete and absolute and dire failure of the last loan as being due to the lack of public confidence in the Government. The Minister himself boasted on the 24th May, 1955, that another was the bringing about of confidence. Now, those who had any money to invest have shown a complete lack of confidence in this Government. It would be very interesting to know what is going on in the dark of night, as Deputy Larkin put it when he referred to the intrigue of the Fine Gael Party in the open light of day and in the dark of night. It would be very interesting to know what is going on in the dark of night in Government circles in regard to the situation that has now arisen. It is a very serious situation for the future of this country. It is too bad that the steady progress that was being made under Fianna Fáil was not continued, that we have all this muddling around waiting for the light of experience gained to show us what should have been done and what would have been done as far back as a year ago to solve such a situation. Is the Minister going to be able to apply the lesson that he mouthed himself about the effect of wheat production on our external balance of payments? Or, will he continue the shortsighted policy that was implemented under the Coalition star from 1948 to 1951 of discouraging the production of wheat and all other cereals? From 1948 to 1951 the acreage under tillage went down by 500,000 acres. To-day it would take at least £15,000,000 to buy the produce that could be grown on such an acreage.

We hope that the followers and supporters of Fine Gael, the Labour Party and all the other Parties comprising the Coalition, will make their weight felt in Government circles, whether it is in the light of day or in the dark of night, to get the Government to see sense in this matter. We cannot afford, as a nation, if we want to make real progress, to let production go down by that amount, particularly when we find it so difficult to balance our external payments and at a time when they threaten to be so disastrously adverse.

If we want to redress our balance or payments there is no reason why we should not make such an approach to the problem as will not only redress the adverse balance as rapidly as possible but, at the same time, put the country back on the road to steady progress. There are two things, more than anything else, that should be done in order to achieve that object: every encouragement possible should be given to Irish industrialists to increase their output, to build new factories and so on; and every encouragement should be given to the Irish farmers to increase production from the land. The present Government is not giving that encouragement. They are lumping around, muddling the whole situation. Last year, white turkeys were going to be our salvation, according to the Minister for Agriculture; he went on about white turkeys until the price of turkeys collapsed altogether.

What about white elephants?

He was going to drown the British in white turkeys just as he was going to drown them in eggs on another occasion.

Where is that wizard, Deputy McGilligan? Where did he go?

He floored you properly, brother?

Why was he not come in to tell this stupid Minister for Finance where to get £20,000,000?

It does not require Deputy McGilligan to reply to what the Deputy is now asking. Is Deputy McGilligan required to reply to that hour's painful performance?

Why does he not come in and tell this stupid Minister for Finance where to get that £20,000,000 that he, Deputy McGilligan, was going to save on one occasion?

If the present Minister is a stupid Minister for Finance, what was Deputy Aiken when he was Minister for Finance?

Thick, thick!

£20,000,000 is not a sum to be sneered at.

The Deputy spent £22,000,000 in six months. Why should not the present Minister spend it?

If we had £20,000,000 less expenditure! If we had a Minister for Finance like Deputy McGilligan, if such a Minister could be found to reduce Government expenditure by £20,000,000 the Government would not have had to look for the recent £20,000,000 loan and the Government would not have had to face the dire failure to get that £20,000,000. Deputy McGilligan, criticising a previous Government—I need not name it—said at column 543 of Volume 131 of the Official Report:—

"We are all living too well, according to the Central Bank and the Minister for Finance; we were all living too well according to every Deputy who supported that Budget."

Is it the fact that he would have to make the same statements about this Budget that has kept him out of this debate? Is it because he would have felt himself compelled to say that the reason why we are having this Budget now is because the Minister for Finance and the Labour Party feel the people are living too well? Is it because he would have to say that was the reason we were taxing these measures now to reduce consumption?

The spivs were living all right.

We know now that the Fine Gael Party is in the process of wrapping the "blue shirt" around the Labour Party.

The Deputy's long struggle is over. Look at the clock.

It is time the Labour Party took that "blue shirt" from over their eyes.

May I point out that it was agreed that I was to have 20 minutes to reply, and I shall have to stop at 25 minutes past ten in order that the remaining stages may go through?

In conclusion, I want to say that I hope that certain of the statements made by the Minister for Finance, which show that at least somebody in his surroundings has some common sense in relation to finance, will be followed and that we will have a stop to this muddling that the Coalition, has gone on with, going from one muddle into an even greater muddle.

If there was any speech that could even adequately be described as a muddle, a jumble of unstrung quotations, surely it is the speech we have just heard. If that is an example of clear thought through the medium of which the country is to be saved, then it is extremely lucky for the country that Deputy Aiken is not over here on these benches. There was one rather extraordinary omission in the speakers in this debate, and it was not the omission to which Deputy Aiken referred.

By and large, I think every Deputy will agree that the debate on the Vote on Account this year was one of the most serious and one of the most important debates we have ever had in this House. I venture to say that if one goes back over the records of important debates in past years one will find that in none of these debates did the Leader of the Opposition refrain from making the official view of the Opposition clear. The one really significant feature of this debate is that the Leader of the Opposition has expressed no view whatever. Why? Because his Front Bench colleagues cannot agree amongst themselves as to what their financial policy is.

It might be right and it might be wrong.

Deputy Childers, for example, when he was speaking, made this statement from the list of nonsensical statements that he trotted out as having been made by persons on this side of the House. The next statement that was made, No. 9, was that as long as the amount of money in circulation goes on rising it must mean that the country is well off. If plenty of money is circulating, if the Central Bank announces that another £5,000,000 is in circulation, that automatically means prosperity; that automatically means we are paying our way; that automatically means that the country's financial position is sound.

From the speech that has been made by Deputy Aiken, I think Deputy Aiken would agree with the sarcasm that was poured out by Deputy Childers against this side of the House in that speech which he made to-day. What I want to impress upon the Opposition, however, is that they had better make up their, minds what is their policy because the policy that Deputy Childers in that speech and that Deputy Aiken in his speech a few moments ago, following that line, attacked, is the identical policy that Deputy Lemass announced as the Fianna Fáil policy just before Christmas. When Deputy Lemass, just before Christmas, made his epoch-making, resounding statement of a new financial policy for the Fianna Fáil Party, in fact what he did was to make a statement exactly contradictory to the statement that Deputy Childers made earlier to-day and that Deputy Aiken made a few minutes ago. No wonder that the Leader of the Opposition had to keep quiet when three of his principal lieutenants could not agree amongst themselves on such a fundamental issue as whether it was desirable what we would operate here something that approached to the Keynesian multiplier system or not.

I would suggest to the Fianna Fáil Party that they would do not merely the country but themselves as a Party a very much greater service if they would try to come to this House with a coherent policy and not go outside, as Deputy Lemass has been doing recently, making speeches outside that he dare not make inside the House because his own colleagues might not agree with him. If they would make up their minds on one coherent line and take that line, then the country would know exactly where they stood. Then, even more so, Deputy de Valera would not be put in the humiliating position in which he was put, as Leader of the Opposition, in this debate of being unable to contribute to it.

Mr. de Valera

When I want to speak, I will speak.

The Deputy got plenty of opportunities, even when he was cross.

The whole point is that he did not want to speak.

He got very cross the other day.

Mr. de Valera

When I want to speak, I will speak.

The point I am making is not that the Deputy will speak but that he did not speak. Deputy MacEntee tried to suggest to-night, and other Deputies of the Fianna Fáil Party also suggested, that I was introducing the special import levy for the purpose of getting under it current revenue to the extent of some £4,750,000, or so, to meet the increase in the current Estimates volume. Deputies who now see the Central Fund Bill know that that is not true. I want to state clearly what Section 4 of the Bill means. Section 4 of this Bill provides that the Minister for Finance of the day cannot use the special import levy for the purpose of balancing ordinary current expenditure. He cannot do it under the law when this Bill is passed and enacted. I never intended to do it. Luckily I had a fair idea of the depths to which certain Deputies in opposition might go in suggesting that I did intend to use it. To make sure that they could not truthfully make that suggestion I decided to include a provision in the Bill prohibiting any Minister from doing it, and it is there in the Bill. Such funds as are given by this special import levy will be utilised for the purpose of meeting, to the extent that those funds are available, capital services that otherwise would have to be met in other fashion, and to that extent——

By borrowing.

If the wizard over there would keep quiet—and to that extent will not be inflationary. May I refer to one other matter very quickly? I understand that in respect of certain goods on which this import levy has been placed certain people are endeavouring to make an unjust and an unfair profit in respect of stocks on their hands which came in at the pre-levy price. Anybody who tries to make an unjust or an unfair profit like that can only be described as a profiteer. In respect of one example where clear evidence was already available to the Government, the Minister for Industry and Commerce this morning made an Order freezing that commodity and ensuring that such anti-social profiteering as was going to operate in that particular stock could not possibly happen.

Will the Minister answer Deputy Briscoe's question? I Are we to take it that these moneys under Section 4 will only be applicable in cases where borrowing would normally be made for capital purposes?

For capital services only. I thought I made that clear.

Question put and agreed to.
Bill considered in Committee.
Sections 1 to 3, inclusive, put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 4 stand part of the Bill."

On Section 4, I made it clear that the special import levy was going to be used for capital purposes funds for capital purposes, as Deputies opposite know, are provided at present by borrowing in one fashion or another. This will obviate that pro tanto.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 5 and Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.

This is a Money Bill within the meaning of Article 22 of the Constitution.

The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 21st March, 1956.