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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 25 Jul 1956

Vol. 159 No. 10

Supplementary Estimate. - Vote 3—Department of the Taoiseach.

I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £19,620 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1957, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of the Taoiseach (No. 16 of 1924; No. 40 of 1937; No. 38 of 1938; and No. 24 of 1947).

The current economic position has been debated on a number of occasions this year, notably in the debates on the Vote on Account, on the Budget and Finance Bill, and will be further reviewed in the debate on the statement made by the Minister for Finance to-day. The recently published statistical survey and the Minister's statement contain all the facts and figures required for an understanding of the present economic position. I do not propose, therefore, to dwell at any length on the background to the economic difficulties with which we are confronted. The broad outline is clear.

We are faced with a number of formidable problems—large-scale and persistent emigration, substantial unemployment and a serious deficit in the balance of payments. Any one of these problems would be formidable by itself; taken together, they are both a warning and a challenge to the country. Few other countries indeed are faced with such a trinity of problems; if they face deficits in the balance of payments, this is often the result of full employment, or where, exceptionally, this is not the case, it is rarely found that high unemployment and large-scale emigration go hand in hand; where they do, the balance of payments may not be in serious deficit. It is the somewhat unique combination of the problems in this country which constitutes our difficulty.

In acknowledging our difficulties, however, we must steer clear of two dangers—the danger, on the one hand, that we may overstate the problem and cause panic and despair at home and a lack of confidence abroad; and, on the other hand, the danger that we may understate the problem and create apathy and indifference at home and, abroad, the impression that we fail to appreciate the seriousness of the position or else refuse to take the necessary corrective measures. We have, therefore, taken a balanced view.

It is, perhaps, emigration which constitutes our greatest challenge. Of all the statistical material that has been placed before us in recent months, none has struck the minds of public representatives and the whole people with so sharp an impact as that contained in the Preliminary Report of the Census of Population which was taken in April of this year. The statistics of population contained in that report are provisional and subject to amendment; but there is no reason to anticipate that the final figures will differ materially from them, and there is no doubt that the picture which they present—a gravely disturbing picture— is an accurate representation of the facts.

The population enumerated in April last, 2,894,822, is the lowest ever recorded for the Twenty-Six Counties. After a period of stability extending certainly over 25 years, if not indeed over 40 years—with, in fact, a slight increase in the inter-censal period 1946 to 1951—we are now faced with a substantial decline. The reduction amounts in all to 65,771, and it has occurred in every province. It is true that the decrease in Leinster is negligible, but in the previous three censuses increases were recorded in that province.

The natural increase in the population of the Twenty-Six Counties in the five-year period was 134,623, and, adding this figure to the net decline of 65,771, we find that net emigration in the five years 1951 to 1956 amounted to no less than 200,000 persons, or an average of 40,000 a year—a figure very much greater than in any previous period since the beginning of this century.

This disturbing increase in the annual rate of net emigration must be looked at in the light of the facts that, comparing 1955 with 1951, in real terms —that is, allowing for changes in the value of money—national income has increased by one-twelfth—earnings in both the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors showing increases— while the capital expenditure financed from the Exchequer has, over the five years, amounted to a total of £160,000,000 and conditions in respect of housing, social welfare and health services have substantially improved.

What inferences are to be drawn from those facts? What should be our attitude towards the picture which they present, and what policies should we pursue to deal with the situation with which we are confronted? These are questions for the Government, indeed, but not for the Government, alone. They are of vital concern to us all, to this House, to every political Party, to the people as a whole and to every family and individual in the country.

We have had reports—a majority report, with a number of reservations and addenda, and two minority reports —from a representative commission established in 1948 to examine emigration and other population problems. It has been stated that those reports contained a "blue print" for action to solve the emigration problem, and it has been suggested that there has been some failure or neglect on the part of the Government to adopt remedies that are ready to hand, that are to be found merely by perusal of the commission's findings and recommendations.

Let me say at once that the reports of the Commission on Emigration and Other Population Problems are documents of the very greatest value. They examine, with meticulous care and with a wealth of statistical detail, the economic and social background, the nature and history of our demographic problems, the various factors that enter into those problems and the considerations that should guide us in our approach to their solution. But I do not think that the commission as a whole, or any member of it, would endorse the suggestion that their reports contain a "blue print" or that they offer any cut-and-dried solutions. They were not designed and do not purport to do anything of the kind. They contain, indeed, a number of suggestions and recommendations on matters of varying degrees of importance, but they do not offer a programme of specific action by the public authorities that would promise an early and substantial reduction in emigration or the beginning of a rising trend in population. The recommendations and suggestions have been examined by all the Departments of State and are at present being given careful consideration by the Government in the light of the departmental observations.

It would not be possible for me, within the limits of this speech, to attempt to summarise the views and findings of the commission. Indeed, that body was itself debarred by the evident difficulties, from making any such attempt. The majority report states (paragraph 481):

"In the course of our inquiries over a wide field we have had to consider so many complex matters that it would be unsatisfactory and inadequate to attempt to set our conclusions in summary form and thereby weaken their significance by divorcing them from their text."

There are, however, a few passages in the majority report to which I would like to make particular reference, because I feel that they are specially helpful to an appreciation of the broad character of the problem of emigration. In paragraph 290, the report points out that "While the fundamental cause of emigration is economic, in most cases the decision to emigrate cannot be ascribed to any single motive but to the interplay of a number of motives," and adds that "The causes put before us in evidence were very many—principally economic, but also social, political, cultural and psychological."

The general conclusion reached in the chapter dealing with economic development is one which, I feel, should be quoted in full. It is contained in paragraph 423 and is as follows:—

"With maximum development of agriculture, with industry providing as much as possible of the requirements of the home market and with energetic development of export trade in industrial products, additional employment should result, without which the amelioration of our main demographic weaknesses and economic problems will not be possible. Such development is essentially a long-term policy. Immediate results cannot be expected, as is evident in the case of afforestation and fisheries. A quicker response may be obtained from agriculture but social tradition and habit may delay the full results. Since the policy is long-term it follows that it should be framed so that emphasis is placed on those objectives which can be most easily attained. The case for giving a high place in the order of priorities to agriculture rests on the fact that, by encouraging agriculture, use is made of physical attributes which give the country a natural advantage in competition with other countries; exports to pay for additional imports required for industrial and other development are increased; under-employment and unemployment on the land are reduced, and the income of the agricultural community is raised, thereby providing a larger home market for industrial products, greater possibility of extending commercial and ancillary services and additional savings for investment. It should be pointed out, however, that there is a tendency in developed countries for the agriculturally-occupied population to decline in numbers. Agricultural development, therefore, is unlikely to bring about a substantial increase in the size of the agricultural community. Hence it is mainly expansion in industry and services which will provide the additional employment without a reduction in living standards. The volume of this employment will depend on the extent to which greater agricultural prosperity can provide a wider market for industrial products at home, on the ability of industry to meet home-market demand and on the possibility of developing exports. Development, agricultural and industrial, and the rising standard of living which the population seeks, call for a programme of large-scale and long-term investment which far exceeds the present volume of domestic savings. The commission believes that, within the capacity of the country and its population, there is scope for such an expansion in production as would make a major contribution to solving our demographic and economic problems. In the final analysis, however, the solution of these problems depends on the tenacity of the community's resolution to solve them and on the amount of effort it is willing to put forth in this endeavour."

In a passage dealing with the role of the Government in population policy (paragraph 470) the majority report has this to say:—

"We do not recommend, in present circumstances, direct Government action in the demographic field, such as the banning or limitation of emigration, the imposition of a tax on bachelors or the provision of marriage loans and grants. Almost all the influences which determine population growth are matters which properly depend upon personal decisions, and with regard to them, the rôle of the Government should be to encourage and, where necessary, to initiate economic and social activities which produce conditions favourable to increased population, leaving people free to take their decisions in the light of these conditions. But, however potent the influence which social and economic factors may have on population trends, the personal reaction of the individual to these forces must be allowed for as well."

Perhaps the most significant passage in the entire report is that contained in paragraph 480, where it is pointed out that "economic development does not depend on capital alone" but "depends also on hard work, skill, thrift, and the willingness to take risks" and that "there can be no significant progress in development unless people accept the effort and sacrifice involved in more and better work and in increased savings on a scale for which there is no precedent in this country". The paragraph goes on to state:—

"In short, it is not financial measures but the will and determination of the people which will decide the extent to which development of national resources will take place so as to remedy the country's demographic weaknesses. To achieve the ends which we have set out, there must be a revolution in the attitude of the individual. Development is a necessary prerequisite for the solution of our population problems, but in our view it is not enough. Fundamentally, the question is not one of economics but of self-reliance. In other countries faced with more critical situations than ours, there have been outstanding achievements in reconstruction and development. The bringing about of similar achievements in this country is the problem facing the Irish people. To solve it, the mind and spirit of the people must change so that they possess the necessary degree of resolution not only to develop the economy fully but also to accept readily the sacrifices and hard work which this would involve."

If, in my references and quotations, I have confined myself to the text of the majority report, it is not because of any lack of appreciation on my part, or on the part of my colleagues in the Government, of the value of the various addenda and reservations to that report or of the minority reports. It does not appear, indeed, that any member of the commission would find himself at variance with the views of the majority report on the points to which I have drawn particular attention.

It is significant that the commission have so repeatedly emphasised the importance, in dealing with the problem of emigration, of the attitude taken by the community towards that problem. Time and again the commission have drawn attention to the personal, as distinct from the social and economic, factors which influence the decision to emigrate and have emphasised the effort, sacrifice, resolution and determination required of the community if our demographic and economic problems are to be solved.

It is against this background that we must consider the opinions expressed by the commission that the fundamental cause of emigration is economic, that the rôle of the Government should be to encourage and, where necessary, to initiate economic and social activities which produce conditions favourable to increased population and that economic development is essentially a matter of long-term policy, from which immediate results cannot be expected. Such a long-term policy has been pursued by successive Governments and has been, is being and will continue to be pursued, with the utmost vigour, by the present Government.

There have, from time to time, been differences of emphasis and, on certain occasions, there has, in my opinion, been action based on an incorrect appreciation of the circumstances and the needs of the situation, but broadly, there has been continuity in the efforts to develop the national resources, to raise the general level of production, to create diversified opportunities of employment at home and to improve progressively the living conditions of the people. Those efforts have not yet been as fruitful in their results as we all desire, but they have met with a substantial degree of success, particularly in the development of manufacturing industry and in the general improvement of the living conditions of the people as a whole. They are being continued with unremitting energy, of which a notable example is the patient work of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Norton, in promoting the establishment here of an oil refinery, with the successful result that was recently announced.

In agriculture, the vital source and fundamental basis of whatever prosperity we have so far achieved or are, in future, likely to enjoy, much has been done by Government action to create conditions and opportunities favourable to improvement and expansion. A great deal of progress has been made in restoring the fertility of the soil, land reclamation has proceeded and is proceeding on a scale which, relatively to this country's size and resources, may, not inaptly, be termed vast, improved veterinary services are reducing mortality and the incidence of disease in animals, an expanding advisory service is affording ready access, on the part of the farmers, to the best information and counsel on modern, efficient agricultural methods, large schemes of arterial drainage are in progress, the prices of important basic products are assured, and valuable benefits of various kinds are provided out of the public purse to lighten the burdens of the farmer and to encourage him to increase his output. It is to agriculture, primarily, we must look for that essential prerequisite of economic progress in our circumstances, an expanding volume of production of goods that are marketable abroad in quality and at prices competitive with similar goods offered by the producers of other countries.

As I say, much has been achieved. The Government have played and are playing the rôle which, in the view of the Commission on Emigration and Other Population Problems, is their proper one, that is, "to encourage and, where necessary, to initiate economic and social activities which produce conditions favourable to increased population." Not only has large-scale emigration continued, however, but its volume has shown a substantial growth.

If we accept the commission's view that "the fundamental cause of emigration is economic," we must also remember that standards of economic welfare are relative, not absolute. The young men and women who are leaving Ireland to seek a living abroad are not, as a body, fleeing from intolerable economic conditions at home: they are seeking what they have come to believe are better economic conditions abroad. And a fact to be faced and reckoned with is that the average standard of material welfare—in the things that enter into the computation of national income figures—is nearly twice as high in Britain as it is in Ireland.

We cannot hope to overtake the British standard in that respect, because we do not possess, on anything resembling a comparable scale, the natural resources, the accumulated physical capital or the industrial structure—the product of many generations of work under favourable conditions—that exist in Britain. We are endeavouring—and we have already made substantial progress as a result of our endeavours—to promote conditions in which every man, woman and child in this country will have the opportunity of living in decent comfort. But if any informed man promises to lead our people to an average standard of access to material goods equal to the average standard in Britain, he is making a promise which he must know to be false.

There are, however, other values. Many of those who emigrate have, before emigrating, enjoyed the wholesome conditions of a life that is nowhere far removed from the happy peace of natural surroundings. We have here certain spiritual and cultural traditions which have become our own and in which we may justly take pride. We have the fellowship of family and friends and neighbours—the warmth and kindliness of home. There is much truth in the statement made, with emphasis, in paragraph 453 of the commission's report, that "the paramount consideration must be the philosophy of life, the system of ultimate ethical principles and values which the people of this country hold".

Young men and women should not lightly shake the dust of their homeland from their feet. The plea of economic necessity is, in many cases, one that cannot be sustained. Only too frequently do we hear of men and women leaving good jobs in this country for apparently better ones in England. They should weigh the attraction of higher monetary rewards in other lands against comforts and happiness—real and substantial, if not measurable in money—that are theirs to enjoy at home.

This is not to say that we see Ireland as a backwater, a haven of old-world quiet ways. We are in this highly-competitive world of to-day which is dominated by striking technical advances, by the emergence of new industrial countries and the reappearance of old ones. These and other developments will call for our utmost endeavour; I do not exaggerate when I say that our very existence may well depend on how we face the problems which they present.

It would be misleading to refer to emigration without mentioning one aspect which is perhaps not always taken into consideration. It is to emigration that we owe the spiritual empire which is our pride and strength, which has raised our status from that of a small island on the Atlantic seaboard to that of a mother country claiming allegiance from very many millions of her sons in all parts of the earth and which, on the material plane, has given us an influence which we could not hope to achieve otherwise.

But, if not all emigration is bad, the waters of the well-spring must not be allowed to dwindle. It must be the aim of all of us to ensure that never again will an Irish census reveal a declining population.

In our present difficulties we are entitled to draw solace from our achievements of the past. Responsibility for the government of our own affairs now goes back some 35 years, and it is worth asking the question how well have we discharged ourselves in the task. During that period government has been shared between the Parties represented in this House. For the first ten years of the State, the Party to which I belong provided the Government, over a period of nearly 20 years the present Opposition Party governed, and for over five years the country has had government of the present cooperative character, inter-Party or Coalition, or whatever you care to call it. Whatever there is of good or ill in modern Ireland is therefore the responsibility of us all.

It is, unfortunately, a fact, which we must face, that in some circles it has become a practice to use the term Party politician in a depreciatory, if not in an abusive sense. The term is most frequently used in this sense by those who, with grave lack of responsibility, make judgments on matters on which they are insufficiently informed and of which they have no practical experience. Those attacks on the Party politician derive from the absence of a long tradition of self-government and an appreciation of its practices, from the aftermath of national revolution and civil war, from the corrosive effects of criticism by groups who disliked and despised Ireland's achievement of self-government, and from an insufficient appreciation of how the Party system works. I wish to-night, in this House, to say something in defence of the profession of politics and in defence of this House, too, which, with such a striking lack of patriotism, those critics impugn.

We are here perfectly well aware that, in all Parties in this House, there are men who have rendered signal service to this country, to which they have devoted their lives. I hope that it is not part of the claim of any Party that it has the monopoly of patriotism. I think I will have the support of all Parties in saying that the criticism of each other—in which we mutually engage on the issues which arise—does not involve the suggestion of anything dishonourable or unworthy of our opponents.

It is part of the business of democratic government that we hit hard and emphasise the arguments for and against particular policies so that, by having the alternatives placed clearly before them, the people may be enabled to exercise their choice of replacing one group by its opponents. The system has worked so well with us that though we started amid civil war we have now reached the happy state in which we are all united in defence of one Constitution, that in 35 years such stability has emerged that there have been only three Prime Ministers, and this during some of the most critical decades of the world's history.

We have groups of Parties all now experienced in government, guaranteeing conditions of critical discussion and the maintenance of freedom, groups from which alternative Governments can be selected by the people. Those who complain that there is insufficient disagreement amongst the Parties seem to suggest that the State was healthier when disagreement was such that it could only be expressed in violence, and to imply that a society is the healthier the deeper the divisions which divide it.

When I was first elected to this House I was proud to be the elected representative of my country, proud to serve in the National Parliament which was the goal and inspiration of earlier generations. I know that my pride was, and is, shared by every other Deputy. We must be vigilant, however, lest careless and misinformed criticism injures the prestige and lowers the esteem of the democratic institutions which we have fought for and which we have worked so successfully.

We face the future, therefore, fortified by the possession of these democratic institutions and by the knowledge of our achievements in the past. To those who see nothing but the black side, who minimise past achievements and maximise present problems, I would repeat—because I think that in present circumstances it bears repetition—what I said during the debate on the Budget on the 17th May, 1956. In Volume 157, No. 5, column 657 of the Dáil Debates, I said:—

"I do not think we should forget what has been achieved. I am not going to enter into any discussion as to whether it was this Government, the last inter-Party Government or any Fianna Fáil Government that achieved it. The country is entitled to be proud of the achievements which have been made and not to be discouraged by the difficulties which face it now and by the fact that we cannot get everywhere at once."

I then proceeded to quote from the Pope's Easter Message, in which he expressed his disapproval:—

"...of those who see what is still lacking, what has not yet been fully achieved, and readily lend an ear to the whisperings of those sowing discontent. They close their eyes to much already accomplished in the enrichment of the social and economic order, which they, too, profit by, advantages frequently obtained through exhausting labour to overcome unsurmountable obstacles."

The record of the past is impressive, not least when assessed against a background of civil disturbances, economic difficulties, a world war and its aftermath. It is a record to which all Irish Governments have contributed and in which all Irish Governments can take pride.

In the last 35 years we have trebled our industrial production and have increased industrial employment by over 100,000. We have increased manifold the production of electricity and of machine-won turf, have planted over 200,000 acres of forest, and have established and extended mercantile and air fleets. We have transformed the face of the Irish countryside by imaginative schemes, boldly executed —including rural electrification, arterial drainage, land rehabilitation, elimination of bovine T.B., farm buildings' scheme, etc. We have built or reconstructed over 275,000 houses, 2,500 primary schools and 150 hospitals. We have introduced Social Welfare legislation to provide for the widow, the orphan, the blind, and the family and have made available general and specialist medical services to wide sections of the community.

These considerable results do not exhaust all the achievements of the past. If they have not succeeded in solving our difficulties, we are, I submit, entitled to face the future, not indeed with complacency, but with confidence based on these achievements. It is with justifiable confidence therefore, that we face the trinity of problems to which I have already referred —a serious Balance of Payments deficit, far too much unemployment and continuing large-scale emigration.

We must continue to develop, to the best of our ability, the resources which we possess and to emulate other peoples in work and thrift, in the expansion of economic activity and in the raising of the standard of material well-being. The Government will continue to promote and put into effect their long-term policy of developing the national resources, raising the general level of production, creating diversified opportunities of employment at home and improving progressively the living conditions of the people which, when we have overcome our present difficulties, will make possible the easement, if not the solution, of our problems.

I move that the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration. I rise to follow the Taoiseach almost as a man disarmed. I have listened to an eloquent defence of Parliament, Sir, but Parliament is to be justified not merely by words but by policies. We can all endorse what the Taoiseach has said as to the responsibilities of those of us who enter into public life. The system of Government which has served our people well, as it has served other peoples elsewhere equally well, is based upon the principle that there must be in the deliberative assembly of the nation ample scope for criticism.

I say, Sir, that I speak as a man disarmed because, as a rule, the debate on the Taoiseach's Estimate is regarded as the principal opportunity when the general policy of the Government will come under review. It is generally availed of by the Taoiseach to give an exposition of the unified and comprehensive policy of the Government in relation to all those matters which everywhere are regarded as being the particular concern of those who control and direct the affairs of the State. What, therefore, I am bound to ask, was the purpose of the dissertation to which we have just listened, except, I have to say, perhaps to prove that this Government has no policy? The Deputy is not here to speak for himself but perhaps I may take the opportunity of speaking for Deputy James Larkin——

God forgive you.

——and in relation to the several matters to which the Taoiseach referred, may I use these words that Deputy James Larkin used on a previous occasion in this House— Volume 130, column 329 of the Dáil Debates:—

"It seems to me that if we are to have a realistic and practical approach to the economic situation which confronts this country one primary essential is that the Government itself should, in the first instance, make up its mind as to what situation is, in fact, facing the country and in what direction it is likely to develop."

The Taoiseach has devoted himself in the greater portion of his speech to a brief summary of various considerations relating to the problem of emigration which appeared in the Report of the Commission on Emigration. Again to what purpose? The Commission on Emigration was, as the Taoiseach has told us, set up by the then Minister for Social Welfare and Tánaiste in April, 1948. The report of that commission was presented to the Government on the 11th March, 1954, just two months before the General Election. With all this concern about emigration—and I am not for a moment suggesting that the Taoiseach is not as seriously concerned with it as we are on this side and as every thinking person in the country is—with all this concern, however, for this evil of emigration, that report has not even been printed by the Government and is not available to the public except in the least legible form—not printed.

It is printed.

It is printed. I have a printed copy here.

I am sorry.

Have you not got the 12/6d.?

I am sorry. I withdraw that.

It has been printed quite a long time.

All I have to say is that I read the report in its original form. I have studied it and I was not aware that it had recently been issued.

It has not been recently issued. It has been out for ages.

It has recently been issued.

It has not been recently issued. It has been out for a long time.

Recently published.

Not recently published. It has been out for quite a long time.

The Taoiseach is not going to make all that capital out of what was not a very serious mis-statement of fact.

It rather raises the question if you have read the document at all.

Mr. de Valera

That is not true.

It has been out since last October—October 25th.

The Government may have had it since October, 1954——

It has been published since October, 1955, by the Stationary Office.

It has been published since October, 1955, by the Stationery Office but, so far, all that the Government have been able to do in relation to it is to cull a few extracts from it to incorporate in the Taoiseach's brief this evening.

Not at all. I have said that it has been examined by every Department; we are examining the report in every Department.

We have been told by the Taoiseach to-night that the problem is not one for the Government only. Let us say at once that we accept that point of view but it is the Government who have the responsibility for formulating a policy in regard to emigration and it is a rather striking thing that, having had the report analysed in his office and these rather striking exculpatory statements extracted from it, the Taoiseach comes along here and fails to disclose to the country what is in fact the policy of the Government in relation to this question of emigration. When the Taoiseach, however, was in opposition, he was not so ready to accept any share of responsibility for the evil. Far from it. In those days, when the commission was sitting, emigration was solely a problem for the Government; the Government of the day was responsible for the emigration; the Government of the day must initiate a policy to deal with emigration.

We had Deputy Dillon, as he then was, coming into this House and—I well remember him—weeping tears at the sights which he had witnessed in Ballaghaderreen and in other centres in the West of Ireland, scenes which he said reminded him of the famine days. Well, Deputy Dillon as he was then, Minister for Agriculture as he is now, has been in office for a considerable time and neither he nor the Taoiseach nor any other member of the Coalition Government has been able to formulate a policy to deal with this problem of emigration. In fact, the statement of the Taoiseach this evening reminded me of nothing so much as a ceremonial washing of hands when he said it was not a problem for the Government.

I did not say anything of the sort. Do not misquote me.

Not a problem for the Government. After all, what are these 12 just men doing in face of the responsibility which rests upon the other 2,900,000? No one, least of all we on this side of the House, will deny the gravity of the emigration problem. It is, in fact, so serious that, in my opinion, it should not be utilised merely as a sort of Parliamentary stratagem to divert attention from the main cause of the evils from which the country is suffering.

The main cause of our present plight is the ineptitude of the present administration, this Coalition Government who, while the nation is bleeding to death, fritter away time endeavouring to reconcile the irreconcilable Party views of the conflicting elements that compose it, this Government which, in face of the grave situation which the Minister for Finance exposed to the Dáil this afternoon, while fully aware of the accelerating drain upon our youth, upon our young men and girls, occupy two whole days of the time of this House in trying to force a measure through which certainly was not of sufficient importance to justify the complete failure of the Minister for Agriculture to give any consideration whatsoever to the views of the Opposition in relation to a matter where indeed there should have been legislation by agreement.

Emigration is, undoubtedly, from the point of view of this country, a grave social evil. So, too, is the financial position in which we find ourselves, but there is something which lies at the root of all this, and that is the fact that we have not a united Government ——

That is what you think.

——the fact that we have not a Government who accept the principle of the Constitution that every member of that Government bears collective responsibility for what the Government do in his name and that the Government bear collective responsibility for the actions of every member in regard to the administration of his office. That doctrine has been disregarded.

Again, may I revert to a speech which was made by Deputy Larkin in this House some two or three years ago, when he referred to the great depression of 1931? He went on to refer to a fundamental principle of Government and said, in relation to the Government, that we are entitled to expect from them, as a body, collective responsibility. That doctrine, as we know, was thrown over by the first Coalition when the Taoiseach said that every Minister in his Government was virtually a law unto himself—a dictator in his own Department. But Deputy Larkin went on to explain why that situation existed under the first Coalition as, we believe, it exists in the second Coalition when, in relation to Fianna Fáil, he used these very striking words: "They have an advantage in so far as they are a single Party Government."

One dictator.

There have been no dictators in this country. There has been no attempt to establish a dictatorship in this country since the Blue-shirt movement was defeated.

Since you were defeated in 1922.


I am sorry I have taken Deputy O'Leary's interruption more seriously than I should. We do not want to re-fight these battles all over again but we are going to insist that, when the Taoiseach comes to this House asking this House to accept his Estimate, he will come prepared to give an account of his stewardship, to deal with the various matters that have been raised in the course of the debate upon the Estimate, to deal with the matters which have been the source of public criticism in the Press of this country——

The Irish Press?

——in particular, the conflicting statements which Ministers made in regard to Government policy.

And the Deputy's own statements?

Take the statement which the Taoiseach made this evening —this grave and serious statement about emigration. He deplored it, as we all deplore it, as one of the gravest social evils that could affect our country. What was the attitude of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government, if I am right in so describing him? As I have said before, there has been such proliferation of the minor parliamentary offices under this Government that when you refer to a Parliamentary Secretary you do not know what precisely is his correct title. The Taoiseach here in the House to-night has described to us the evils that flow from emigration, the difficulties that attend it and what it may mean for the people of this country. He painted a very dark picture indeed and took, in relation to it, a responsible and grave attitude, as befitted the gravity of the problem. But that was not the attitude of the Parliamentary Secretary, who sits behind him, in relation to emigration. No, he saw that it had its advantages, particularly when a Government were in difficulties in relation to unemployment. The Parliamentary Secretary was able to get up, rub his hands and say: "Well at least emigration is a safety valve."

On the contrary, I made no such statement. Would the Deputy quote me?

The Parliamentary Secretary should not deny his intelligence.

He was young then.

Deputy MacEntee is reading a report now.

Deputy O'Leary should restrain himself.

Deputy MacEntee is reading a report.

I am asking Deputy O'Leary to restrain himself. There are certain powers vested in me which I shall have to use if he does not.

I regret I cannot find it at the moment.

The Deputy should withdraw the statement, if he cannot find the reference. He should not have made the statement if he had not the reference ready.

It is here somewhere.

The Deputy has not read his brief properly, no more than he has read the commission's report.

The Taoiseach was listened to with a great deal of attention. I trust he will not interrupt.

Does the Deputy accept the statement that the Parliamentary Secretary did not make the remark?

If it would help the Deputy, what I said was that it had been called a safety valve.

The Parliamentary Secretary tried that one about a month ago.

I have the reference, column 489. I want to say that perhaps I summarised the loquacity of the Parliamentary Secretary, that I put much more succinctly what he intended to convey.

In other words, the Deputy misinterpreted him.

Volume 148. The Parliamentary Secretary said:—

"After all, we have what has been called the safety valve of emigration."

"Has been called".

Wait a moment:—

"Whether or not you call it a safety valve does not matter a great deal——"

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet—

"but at least it does help in the problem——"

Listen to this!

"——of creating full employment."

And the Parliamentary Secretary did not describe emigration as a safety valve!

No, I did not.

Now, I shall not withdraw my paraphrase of what the Parliamentary Secretary said. As I have said, I may have expressed it more succinctly, but it means precisely the same thing.

The Deputy was to bring all the emigrants back in 1932.

We will find the lady after a bit.

It is not a very creditable thing and it does not reflect any lustre on parliamentary institutions to utilise a grave and serious problem, such as emigration is, and one with which we are all rightly concerned, as a stratagem to divert attention from the other serious problems which afflict this country, and to divert attention from the main reason why the Government have not grappled effectively with these problems. It was a particularly unjustifiable thing— I do not want to wound in any way if I can avoid it——

Go on. We are well able to bear it. Say it.

It is not easy to choose one's words in these circumstances——

Do not choose. Say it.

——and, at the same time, endeavour to avoid making this debate acrimonious.

The Deputy has been making a very good effort at doing that.

I have described the Taoiseach's statement as parliamentary strategem, device, red herring, card trick, sleight-of-hand, whatever one may like to call it—and I have done so with deliberation because this Estimate is being opposed. There is a motion down on the Order Paper to refer this Estimate back. The Taoiseach may think himself an old parliamentary hand. He asked himself: "What am I going to do when the Opposition get up and start to criticise my leadership of the country in these circumstances? What am I going to say when I am asked if I accept the constitutional doctrine of collective responsibility? What am I going to say? What am I going to say when I am told that my Minister for Local Government has gone around the country telling the people there are millions to be had for the asking for housing and for the Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Act?"

The Minister never said anything of the sort.

"What am I going to do when I have my Minister for Justice going down the country and making similar statements in flat contradiction of what is being said by the Minister for Finance? What am I going to do when the Minister for Defence tells the country that all these financial problems with which we are dealing are merely a matter of book-keeping and that the problem will be sorted out in the end?" He said to himself: "I know what I will do. I will come in and I will read a nice dissertation about the evils of emigration and, incidentally, I will take the opportunity of saying to the Opposition, ‘This is as much your pigeon as it is mine' and I will put firmly and squarely on the Opposition responsibility for the fact that the Government have no policy for dealing with emigration."

They have, in fact, given no thought to the problem over the last six or eight years. The Government are more concerned with trying to remain in office for another few days or another few months. I do not begrudge them their office. I do not begrudge them the fact that they are in power. It involves, I am sure, at this present juncture a great deal of worry and a great deal of difficulty for the Taoiseach, particularly from the point of view of keeping his team together. When I say I do not begrudge them, I do not begrudge them the fact that they are in office. I do bemoan, for the sake of the country, the fact that they are in office and that the Taoiseach comes before this Dáil and, instead of giving a general and comprehensive exposition of the united policy of the Government in regard to the several aspects of our financial and political situation, he comes in here with a few choice extracts culled from the Report of the Commission on Emigration, which he thinks will exculpate the Government for the position in which the country finds itself and endeavours to sidetrack the real issues.

Undoubtedly the problem of emigration is a grave and serious one; it should have been discussed in this House on a separate and special occasion on which the Government might have put before us a statement of the measures they intended to take to deal with the problem. We could then have dealt with it according to the ordinary ordinances of Parliament without its being necessary for us to challenge a division or to engage in the sort of critical debate which must take place upon the Estimate for the Taoiseach's Department.

But the Taoiseach has not chosen the proper way of putting this problem before the House. Instead of putting down a motion asking the House to agree to certain measures being taken or asking the House if necessary, to set up a special committee to consider the Report of the Commission on Emigration and to recommend measures to the House which might be accepted by us all without any grave difference of opinion manifesting itself, the Taoiseach has chosen to approach the matter in another way. He has taken an occasion which has always been regarded as an occasion when the full policy of the Government is open to review and to criticism and when inevitably, and almost invariably, that policy has been the subject of a division in this House, to introduce this matter.

We cannot for a moment divide on the Taoiseach's Estimate as he has presented it to us in regard to emigration. But we can, and we may possibly, divide the House upon the fact that the Taoiseach has made that statement without putting before the House any statement of the measures he proposes to take to deal with the situation.

I rise to speak in this debate with a certain amount of bewilderment. Everybody agrees that the economic situation is extremely serious. The Taoiseach quite properly decided to make emigration the centre-point of his address to the House. I was glad when I learned earlier to-day that he was to do so. I came here and I listened attentively to the Taoiseach's speech, believing that the general statement of the problems relating to emigration was merely a prelude to what was to be a concrete declaration of policy on the part of the Government, as to the steps it would take to deal with the undoubted serious crisis which has arisen. There was no such indication. I next listened with attention to Deputy MacEntee who, presumably, had been chosen by the Opposition, make his contribution to the debate on behalf of the Opposition. He agreed, of course, that it was a serious problem. Then he proceeded to indulge in venomously malicious suggestions against different members of the Government, but again I failed to find one trace or one vestige of a constructive suggestion in regard to a policy, or in regard to the serious problems which face the nation. I think I will not be the only person in the country who will be surprised at this negative attitude in a debate of this importance.

The Taoiseach, and to a certain extent, Deputy McEntee, both joined hands in a defence of Party politics and in a eulogy of the achievements of successive Governments of the past 35 years. I wonder is that justified? What are the problems which we are discussing here to-day? We have now, after 35 years of self Government, a lower population than we ever had before; we have an annual emigration rate of some 40,000 people a year, and a grave economic crisis. These are not matters about which we can afford to be complacent and they are not matters about which we can boast. Unlike the Taoiseach, and unlike Deputy McEntee, I think that, to a large extent, the problems confronting us to-day are the result of the past 35 years of Party politics and the result of a lack of intelligent planning for the reconstruction and development of our economy.

Let us examine the position of this nation. There is no physical no climatic and no demographic condition to prevent our country being as prosperous as any other country, if its economic development had been properly guided and planned. Our soil is more fertile than the soil of most other countries in Europe; our climate is more temperate than the climate of most other countries in Europe. We have an abundant and fertile population. Yet we only support a population of 110 souls to the square mile as compared with 714 to the square mile in Belgium and the Netherlands; 600 to the square mile in Britain; over 257 to the square mile in the Six Counties and 245 in Denmark.

It may be said, of course, that countries like Belgium and Holland do not provide a fair basis for comparison, being highly industrialised. That may be said, but surely we should be able to support at least the same population as the Six Counties? Can anyone in this House indicate any reason, any physical reason, as to why we should be unable to support one of the lowest populations in Europe, having regard to the fact that all the natural factors should enable us to support a very high population? The only reason I know of is our own failure to organise our economy, to organise our production in such a way as to enable us to support this low population. There are no physical or natural factors which can prevent this country from being as prosperous as any other country in Europe, provided we organise ourselves and our economy so as to enable us to be a valuable economic unit.

The disparity in our population in relation to our land area is equalled, if not surpassed, when we come to make comparisons with other countries in the field of production. We produce less than other countries of a comparable size; our rate of investment is low with comparable economies; the rate of increase in our national income is low; the rate of capital formation is low. I do not believe those conditions are due to any natural reasons or are due to an act of God. I believe they are due to our own failure to organise our economy on a sound footing. I believe we cannot remedy that position, unless we are prepared to face up to the failures over the past 35 years in the field of economic reconstruction and development.

I agree entirely with the Taoiseach when he says there is no cause for panic and that we should have self-confidence. I do not believe there is any cause for panic, provided we are prepared to jerk ourselves out of the inertia in which we have been basking. However, there is cause for panic if we are just going to let the situation drift as it has been drifting in the past. I am not saying this in criticism of this Government more than the Fianna Fáil Government, but, by and large, our economic development has been uneven, fitful and lacking in a consecutive policy and approach. In some respects, it was over-cautious; in others, under some political wind or another, it took unwise steps.

The economic situation which faces the country is serious, but it is not a new one. Practically every one of the problems which the Government faces to-day has existed since the State was set up. True, they were masked from time to time by world war or by abnormal economic conditions. However, since the State was set up, we have suffered and placidly accepted an abnormally high rate of unemployment and an abnormally high rate of emigration. Not only did we accept it, but we remained largely silent about it until recent years. There is nothing new in that problem, but that does not make it any less a problem and a serious problem.

Our trade has never balanced, except in wartime. The deficits in our trade have been masked by drawings on sterling assets and invisibles, but a balance of payments position which is dependent upon invisibles can never be a healthy one. Before our economy can be a healthy economy, we must be in a position to balance it straight, as distinct from securing a balance of payments by means of invisibles. Everybody knows—I think it is an admitted fact by all economists—that a balance of payments position which is dependent upon the income from foreign investments or emigrants' remittances, or even tourists, is not in the long run a sound one. As far as possible, we should aim at securing a balance in our trade.

It is important that we should realise that the problems which confront us to-day are not new problems. They form part of an endemic economic defect in our economy which has existed since the State was set up. The truth of the matter is that these defects in our economy are of such long standing that they have become practically structural defects. Yet, in the face of that situation, is it not extraordinary that up to now there has been no concerted long-term plan to deal with it?

While many useful things have been done—and the Taoiseach enumerated many of them—by successive Governments, we have mainly drifted on the basis of a day-to-day policy. I am not trying to take away credit or to blame one Party more than another for it but what we have done has mainly been to try to keep up with the times. We obviously had to increase social welfare benefits; we obviously had to build hospitals; we obviously had to improve our health services. Social conditions and social standards in the world do not remain static. They keep moving on and improving. We just tried to keep pace to the best of our ability behind them, but, as far as undertaking the economic reconstruction of our country as it should have been undertaken is concerned, I think we have failed so far. That task yet remains to be undertaken and it can be undertaken only on the basis of intelligent long-term planning.

In the present situation, two separate approaches must be envisaged —the immediate or short-term approach to deal with the present situation and the long-term approach. The two approaches, particularly at the present moment, are equally important and are interrelated because measures to deal with immediate difficulties may often prove detrimental in the long run and may themselves create additional problems. I am not certain to what extent that has not even happened in the light of the recent difficulties. However, possibly it would be wiser if I left that over until to-morrow when we will discuss the proposals of the Minister for Finance.

Apart from all our own sharp internal political differences, I believe that one of the principal causes for our lack of development since the State was set up has been the pursuit of a faulty and out-dated finance and investment policy. I know that neither the Taoiseach nor the Opposition will agree with me. I think we have given to our whole economy the wrong outlook and the wrong emphasis by making our economy dependent on and to a large extent subservient to the investment of large sums of our money abroad.

It has become practically an obsession in the minds of successive Governments and of the advisers of Governments. I wonder have the Taoiseach and Deputy de Valera ever asked themselves whether Germany had any sterling assets after the last war. Germany to-day is one of the wealthiest countries in Europe. Let me say straight away that the dissipation of our sterling assets on non-productive expenditure would be unwise, but in so far as this country is starved of capital investment for productive purposes, I do not think we should hesitate for one second to utilise our sterling assets to the full.

One of the main defects in our economy has been the lack of investment, both in agriculture and in industry, and that starvation from which our economy suffers is largely the result of the mania we have had of wanting to maintain huge foreign investments and of allowing ourselves to become dependent upon them, instead of making a serious attempt to balance our trade. However, I know I am not likely to secure agreement from the other Parties on these issues. I would, however, implore them never to hesitate to utilise foreign investments if capital is required here for productive purposes.

I think the policy pursued earlier this year, whereby the bank rate was increased and the policy pursued by the banks, with or without the approval of the Government, of imposing a credit squeeze has contributed to some of the difficulties we will suffer increasingly during the rest of the year. Higher interest rates and the credit squeeze were bound to depress both production and employment and they have done so. We have now mounting unemployment figures and I fear that, unless immediate measures are taken, and taken quickly, we will have unemployment figures comparable with those we had in 1953.

I ask the Taoiseach and the Government to bear that in mind and to realise that, if that situation develops, they will then be facing the position of having to waste public moneys in order to provide employment. It would be much better to take steps now to prevent that position arising than to have to pour such money down the drain in order to provide relief schemes in the months of December, January and February, not to speak of the amount of political unpopularity that would draw on a Government faced with a high unemployment situation at the end of the year.

Higher interest rates were also bound to be reflected in higher prices and higher public administration costs, and this has happened, too. Accordingly, I think it is fair to say that the credit squeeze and the dearer money policy have, in themselves, now resulted in increased unemployment and higher prices.

There is always a danger in considering economic matters here that, no matter how much we try to avoid it, we are influenced by the economic line of thought which prevails in Britain. Economic articles, economic journals and economic books written in English are naturally more widely read here and have a greater influence than they would have in Germany, Denmark or some other country. Therefore, we are inclined to be influenced by the economic thinking which prevails in Britain. I think it is essential to bear in mind that the problems from which Britain's economy suffer are completely different from the problems of our economy. Suffering from underemployment, from underdevelopment, as we do, the pursuit of a deflationary policy can only worsen our position and it can only intensify the problems from which we suffer.

The immediate policies which may suit the British economy are usually suicidal in our own case. Britain suffers from over-full employment. It is the policy of the British Government to depress both employment and investment, to restrict the rate of investment. The very opposite is the requirement of our economy.

In that connection, I should like to urge on the Government and on the House the acceptance of what is now a pretty well accepted economic rule. The matter has been the subject of a good deal of discussion in the course of the last year or two. It is this. I think it is very important to bear it in mind in the light of our situation here. The credit restriction policy, whether it be by way of increased interest rates or by way of direct credit restriction, will primarily hit investments rather than consumption. When you apply a credit freeze policy, it is now the established fact, well recognised by any reputable modern economist, that the effect of the credit restriction policy will affect investments rather than consumption. Therefore, if your aim is to promote investments or to allow investment to continue, as is essential in the case of an underdeveloped country, you should never apply a deflationary credit policy, as it will affect and hit your rate of interest much more than it will affect the rate of consumption.

These are not merely my views: they are views which have been adopted by the O.E.E.C., by the Economic Commission of the Council of Europe, and which have been discussed inside out over the last couple of years. I think these are factors which should be borne in mind. We must be careful, in any of the remedial measures which we may take—remedial measures which may be intended to curtail the rate of consumption—that we do not instead hit investments.

There is another thing I may say in passing, but in fact it might be wiser to leave it until to-morrow for discussion on the Estimates of the Minister for Finance. It is this: I think we are placing far too much reliance on the possibilities of private savings. Savings, as they were known in the pre-war days, are no longer achievable. To a large extent the advent of the welfare State, here as elsewhere, has removed one of the incentives for saving. That is one of the factors that applies now pretty universally; the other factor arises out of the fact that the Government usually syphons off by way of taxation what would have been saved by the people otherwise. In other words, the Government indulges in a policy of compulsory savings on its own. Therefore, it would be unwise for the Government to expect any large-scale private savings.

By all means, savings should be encouraged, by all means savings are desirable but, in a situation of rising prices, in a situation of increasing taxation, I think the Government is not likely to succeed in getting substantial private savings from the community. By all means, savings campaigns should be encouraged and should be promoted. As a matter of fact, while we have often talked about a savings campaign in this House—on all sides— we really have done very little about it. We set up the committee, but there has been very little sign of activity so far as the committee is concerned and very little imagination or steps taken to promote the savings campaign in the sense that I had hoped it might be promoted.

It is essential that—forgetting about the past, forgetting about the errors or the eulogies we may have to make about the past—we should realise that modern world conditions and scientific advances not only permit but require long-term economic planning.

While we have no experience here of long-term economic planning, this is how in fact so much has been achieved, so much progress has been made, in Western Europe since the war. I do not think we can afford to continue to allow the survival of this nation—for it is now approaching a question of survival—to be subject to the rather haphazard and often ill-informed policies which have guided us in the past. Concerted action, on the basis of intelligent planning, on the basis of initiative and self-confidence, is absolutely essential. Naturally, long-term planning involves a consecutive pursuit of the plans decided upon.

It would, therefore, be much more satisfactory if such long-term planning could be approached on the basis of united action by the different Parties. Otherwise, there is a danger that if the Government or the Opposition put forward a plan, it will gradually become the plaything of Party politics. Its progress will be hindered or deflected by the various political winds that may blow. No matter what eulogy we may ourselves make in this House about Opposition Parties, I seldom have known them to resist making capital out of any difficulty in which they found the Government, and I thought Deputy MacEntee gave us an illustration of that to-night.

The Deputy gave some good examples himself.

I am not trying to make capital out of the present situation. The present situation is one which has existed for a long time and I am merely trying to bring about an appreciation in the minds of Deputies that a radically new approach will have to be made. The only type of approach that, in my view, can be made is one based upon a concerted long-term plan with fixed annual targets, with a measure of agreement on the part of the different Parties in this House that that plan will not be made use of for Party political purposes, with a measure of agreement among the different Parties that successive Governments will continue to implement the plan, that that plan will not become a football in the political market place with politicians on both sides of the House outbidding each other as to its target or the promises they make in regard to it. I know that when I put forward this idea before, the suggestion was made by the Opposition Press, I think, that this was an attempt to set up a dictatorship. Of course that is sheer nonsense. The mere fact that Parties in a Parliament agree on the pursuit of a long-term economic programme in no way affects their independence in the criticism of the administration of the programme.

I would have more confidence in a plan if it were an agreed one because I would feel that the hope of getting it implemented would be much greater and that you could generate more national enthusiasm for it. Earlier to-day, Deputy de Valera referred to the stamina of the Irish people in an emergency and the Taoiseach referred to the steadfast determination of the Irish people to maintain their independence. I agree entirely and I believe that our people would be prepared to make the sacrifices necessary, to make the sacrifices which the long-term economic reconstruction of the country would involve, provided they got the united leadership that was necessary. I am satisfied that the Irish people would be prepared to make tremendous sacrifices if they saw before them a goal and a policy towards that goal. That is what we must provide and I believe we can provide it.

Can we even try to get agreement on the ultimate objectives of such a plan? Have we ever thought of the economic tasks that face us? Have we assessed clearly in our minds what we mean when we say we want to end unemployment and emigration? Do we realise what it means? Do we realise what it means on the basis of say a ten-year plan? It means the provision of at least 350,000 new jobs. I am quite prepared to accept—and I think the Taoiseach is quite correct when he states this—that emigration is not entirely economic. I think a percentage of emigration is due to social factors. My own assessment of the position is that out of a 40,000 annual emigration, such as we have at the moment, 25,000 of it is economic and 15,000 is social. I know there is room for a difference of views on that, but I feel it is roughly in those proportions. On the basis of a net economic emigration of 25,000 a year, allowing for the existing unemployment and allowing for some future disemployment resulting from improved technology, we must envisage the creation of 350,000 jobs in the course of ten years, if we are serious in talking about dealing with emigration or unemployment.

Have either the Government or the Opposition faced up to that problem? Has any assessment been made of the annual or global rate of investment required in agriculture, in industry, in minerals, in fisheries and in land development generally, in order to produce a given increase in production? I do not think we have ever faced up to the way in which recognised economic planning is done in other countries. We have just been going along from day to day, drifting along without realising that, particularly since the war, under the impact of American and Canadian economists, economic planning has now become practically a science, and that you can now assess pretty accurately, subject to the influence of all kinds of external factors, the annual rate of investment required to achieve given results.

If we are determined to get agreement on the formulation of an economic plan, what would it entail? It will involve, in the first instance, an objective assessment of the targets which we plan to achieve at the end of a ten year period in each different sector of our economy, the targets which we aim to achieve in the industrial and in the agricultural sectors of our economy; it would involve determining the ultimate target which was required in exports and in employment. Once these four or five main targets were agreed upon, it then becomes largely a technical task for economists to assess the requirements of the programme as a whole and of the programme in each of its early phases under a number of different heads.

These economists would have to determine the global and the annual rate of investment, the gain in each different sector of the economy, the number of technicians and the type of man-power required to meet the requirements of the programme. We would have to assess the expansion of exports required to balance our present economy, but also to provide for the increased consumption which would result from increased employment and greater economic activity here. And, of course—if I might digress for a moment—another thing to which we would have to face up is that the more people in employment here, the worse would our adverse balance of trade be likely to be, the more we stem emigration, the worse will our balance of trade be, unless we simultaneously increase production to compensate for increased consumption.

It is axiomatic that every additional man in employment means more consumption. A large proportion of the amount of that extra consumption would consist of articles imported, such as tobacco and tea. Likewise, every increase in the standard of living naturally affects your balance of payments position. If you gave an increase of 5/- to every man in the country to-morrow morning, it would be a reasonable assessment to say that 2/6 of that would be spent on some goods that had been imported, whether it be in the shape of an additional packet of cigarettes, or an ounce of plug tobacco, or some cheap stockings. Half of the additional amounts earned would mean additional imports, so that the problem is of much greater scope, is much wider than is generally recognised.

The more we succeed in providing employment, the more problems we have to face as far as our external payments are concerned. I mention that merely as an aside, because I think that is very often lost sight of. Another thing that we can accept, although I think the Taoiseach did not touch on it to-night, is that we should expect no increase in agricultural employment. We can and should expect a very high increase in agricultural production, but that increase will not, I am afraid, ever result in any increase in agricultural employment.

The trends in other countries with similar conditions as ours have shown that, if anything, with higher developments and a high rate of agricultural production, employment is tending to decrease as a result of technological advances and improved methods, so that, by and large, the improvement which we are to provide, if we are serious in our desire to deal with emigration, and with unemployment, will have to be largely in the industrial sector of our economy or in its ancillary services.

I do not wish to suggest that the formulation of a plan of this kind would be an easy matter. I think there would be extremely little disagreement between the different Parties as to the ultimate targets of this 10-year plan. I do not think there is room for any disagreement as to the targets; I think the facts of our situation are so painfully obvious that there could not be any room for disagreement of a serious kind. The trouble will be, when and if agreement is reached at political level, as to how the details of such a plan will be worked out. I do not think we have the personnel here to do it. Our economists would not appear to have been thinking on those lines. I think they have been out of touch with modern economic developments. However, I have no doubt it would be possible to secure the assistance of such bodies as the O.E.E.C or the Economic Commission for Europe or from the U.N. agencies who have highly trained staffs of experts with experience of this type of work, and who would give some assistance, if not in the formulation of a programme of this kind, at least in advising from their experience as to the possibility of the targets aimed at, the ratio of investment and man-power, and so on, which would have to be provided.

I am sorry to have talked at such length to-night on this question, but I did feel and do feel somewhat dismayed by the fact that from neither side of the House have we had any concrete proposals to deal with the situation. To a certain extent, I am glad of it from this point of view, on one condition, that some attempt will be made now to formulate a concrete policy, not by one side of the House as against the other side of the House, but jointly. If the Minister for Agriculture had put forward a detailed concrete agricultural policy, I am quite certain that it would have been attacked by the other side of the House. Vice versa, I would feel reasonably certain that if Deputy MacEntee, for instance, put forward a detailed financial policy, it would probably be savaged by the other side of the House.

Could we get away from that and could we get down to the logics of the situation which faces the country? Could we approach the problems more realistically than we have approached them in the past? Let us not be afraid to face the extent of the problem. It is an extremely large problem, much larger than I think most members of the House or most members of the public appreciate. The public are bewildered at the present moment. They know that there is some kind of a crisis; they think it is a kind of passing crisis. It is nothing of the kind. It is merely a continuation of a crisis which has existed since the State was set up.

That is the approach that should be adopted by the Government and by the Opposition. I should like to say in passing that I welcome what would appear to be a change of attitude on the part of the Opposition in the course of recent weeks on this issue. I thought they had adopted a more constructive attitude than before. If agreement could be got on the long-term plan and if we could then all push together behind it, harness the enthusiasm of the people, get them to work a little bit harder than they have worked hitherto, get them to be prepared to make the sacrifices that such a long-term plan would involve, I think we would get a response. Otherwise, we will continue to drift from crisis to crisis, in the end probably hoping for another world war so that we may again start building up sterling assets.

As the Taoiseach indicated and as was agreed by Deputy MacEntee, it is the function of the Opposition to be critical and, I hope, constructive, in their approach to the discussion of national problems. The responsibility for policy for the time being rests on the shoulders of the Government. It is in that background that we have to consider our problems. I am not a believer in Deputy MacBride's theories that all Parties should participate in the Government and, presumably, that there should be no Opposition. I am one of those who prefer two Parties, as there have been in the best examples of democracies, one Party in opposition and one Party in Government. Deputy MacBride believes in the régime of splinter Parties. We will not be here, but the future will show whether Ireland will benefit more from one or the other of these two alternative systems.

With regard to the organisation of our economy, Deputy MacBride, when the Marshall Aid agreements were being made, set up certain targets. Has he already forgotten what they were? We remember the 25,000 acres in regard to afforestation, about which the advice of the technical experts in forestry was never sought.

That is not so.

We remember the proposal, for which the Minister for Agriculture was responsible—

On a point of order, I should have thought that when the Deputy makes a categorical statement suggesting that a certain thing was done by me without having taken certain other steps, he is bound to take my statement that it is not so.

It is the usual practice when Deputies disagree with statements made by one another.

If the Deputy was not responsible, he certainly took his full share of credit throughout the country and in this House and told us he would bring down the Government if they did not carry out this policy.

That is a completely different allegation. It is untrue to say that no advice was obtained from the technical experts.

Does he deny that he is responsible for having that inserted in the document that was published as one of the targets that we should have for our economy, in 1949?

That is not what I denied; it was that the technical people in forestry had not been consulted. They had been consulted.

They had not been consulted. I was there and I am in a position to know. I inquired from the officials and their advice had not been sought and it was found that it was impossible to carry out the target the Deputy had put down in black and white in this system of targets he had put before the O.E.E.C.

Because the first thing your Government did was to cut a quarter of a million off forestry when you came in.

That was not the reason. The Forestry Branch told me that they could not possibly reach that target and the Deputy and his colleagues in the Government had issued instructions that a target of 25,000 acres was not even to be aimed at.

That is not so.

Twenty thousand acres was the most that could be aimed at before they left office in 1951 and in the ensuing period it was found that 15,000 acres was the very maximum that we could reach. It is simply an example of setting up these targets which we would all like to aspire to but which we may not succeed in achieving. A similar target was set up—I have not the papers by me—in regard to agriculture. I think we were to increase our agricultural output by one-fourth, or perhaps more.

We in fact increased it by 32 per cent.

I do not think so.

Oh, yes.

According to the Statistical Survey, our output is only 10 per cent. above pre-war levels.

I increased it by 32 per cent. over 1947.

And in the case of live stock and live-stock products, we have increased by only 5 per cent.

Was it not great that we overshot the target? We will do better this time, with the help of God.

Deputy Derrig should be allowed to make his speech.

Deputy MacBride has great faith in the economic experts in other countries. We have not such faith in them because they are not familiar with our conditions here, which are entirely different from conditions on the Continent with which Deputy MacBride has been recently familiar. We have some confidence in the young men who are being trained in our universities and those in our professions, who have the technological qualifications to equip them to give advice to whatever Government may be in office.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 26th July, 1956.