Committee on Finance. - Vote 3—Department of the Taoiseach (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:—
That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration.—(Deputy MacEntee).

In reference to the suggestion of a ten-years' programme, I mentioned last night that a certain programme was adumbrated in the White Paper presented by the then Minister for External Affairs entitled "The European Recovery Programme" in December, 1948, and it was stated with reference to agriculture that it was expected that production would be increased by 1952-53 to the extent of 98 per cent. in the case of bacon, 39 per cent. in the case of poultry and game, 7 per cent. in the case of beef and mutton, 109 per cent. in the case of eggs, and 20 per cent. in the case of butter. The Minister for Finance has corrected the figure given as to agricultural output for last year by telling us that, instead of a decrease of 2 per cent., there was, according to the latest figure from the Statistics Office, a decrease of decimal 2 per cent.

The important point from the national view is that while our net output in 1938-39 stood at a base figure of 100, in 1950 it was 100.7, in 1951 it was 103.4, in 1952, 107.5, in 1953, 107.4, in 1954, 109.4, and in 1955 the provisional figure was 109, so I think it is generally agreed that our agricultural output has gone up by roughly 10 per cent. since pre-war, and in the case of live stock and live-stock products, the figure is 5 per cent.

Deputy Desmond referred to the agricultural industry, and I do not think his remarks were particularly helpful. While the figures I have just mentioned may indicate that results have not been as good as we could have wished, there is another side to the picture, and that is that the economy of this country, as I have been stating in the Dáil for the last year and a half or two years, has been carried by the agricultural community and by the level of agricultural production and exports that we have had. I find, according to the table in theStatistical Survey, that the proportion of agricultural exports to agricultural output was almost 40 per cent. in 1953, and in 1954 it was 38 per cent.; and although there was a significant rise in the standard of living of the non-agricultural as well as the agricultural community, running into many millions of pounds, we still have the rather happy position that we had these large agricultural exports, which we only wish could have been larger but whose importance and the value of the work behind them nobody need decry.

We have to regard agriculture as an industry in a special category, where the planning arrangements which may take place either in the O.E.E.C. or in any other sphere of, let us say, industrial activity may not apply. Farming is a way of life. It is not really a way to make riches, and it has generally been admitted that it is only during wars that the agricultural community could recoup themselves for past losses and get any kind of reasonably decent livelihood from their labours. While we have been asking agriculturists to do more and to produce more, we must not forget that costs of production have gone up. The agriculturist is not in the position, as we learned a number of years ago in our student days, of the business man who can close down and alter the rhythm of his production to suit market demands. The farmer keeps on, and, if he has a good year or a number of good years, it is more than likely he will have lean years to follow.

In 1947, the proportion of his net output attributable to the materials he had to purchase in his business, feeding stuffs, fertilisers and seeds, according to Table 57 in theStatistical Survey, was 10 per cent. In 1949, it had risen to 15½ per cent. and, in 1954, it was 20 per cent. It was estimated in 1952 that the farming industry was using, between superphosphate, potash and ammonia, less than 400,000 tons per year and that the optimum figure which could be usefully utilised on our land was about 1,200,000 tons. It was ascertained also that in regard to limestone the requirements of the land came to 12.4 million tons. That was apart from the annual spread which would be required. Those were the arrears which had to be made up. It is stated by the Emigration Commission that the use of fertilisers among our farmers is the lowest in Europe.

When the Minister for Agriculture tells us about the land project and that the value to the farmers who have been able to benefit by it comes to £10 per acre, if there are almost 700,000 acres reclaimed, that should mean an addition to their output of about £7,000,000. When the Land Project was introduced, we felt that the results, perhaps even better results, could have been achieved on a lesser expenditure and on a less extravagant scheme. What we failed to find from the Minister for Agriculture to our satisfaction is whether any survey has been made of the work done, whether there has been any follow-up and what is the extent to which fertilisers and lime, for example, have been applied.

When I ask the Minister for Agriculture for particulars in regard to specific areas or specific groups of farms, he waves me airily aside, telling me that, where there were whins before, there is now agricultural production. The point is whether we are getting the optimum production that we are entitled to, considering the large volume of expenditure and whether expenditure on this and on agricultural development generally is achieving the purpose that presumably the Government and the authorities have in mind.

If we are to get the best results, we must have organisation, and, on the Vote for the Minister's Department, I urged that the Department of Agriculture should shed itself of some of its responsibility. If we want to get back to the spirit of former days and try to get a real national effort in connection with agriculture, surely we cannot depend upon the officials of the Department of Agriculture, or any other body of officials, no matter how devoted they may be. It is necessary, and the Minister for Finance emphasised it, to get the full co-operation of agriculturel organisations. He emphasised that we must get the co-operation of the public.

We do not know whether any survey has been made of the needs of the smaller farms to the position of which special attention has been given in the Report on Emigration to which the Taoiseach referred. If we want to maintain the population upon the smaller farms which, as the report points out, carry on a more intensive and more desired form of agriculture, than some of the larger farms, we have to give some incentives. We have to have a type of organisation that will reach down to the smaller farms so that the farmers will have confidence in it, and be part of the economy, so to speak, a type of organisation that will be able to help them in their problems of providing capital, marketing their produce in the most economical way and getting the necessary advice that can be obtained for them through research and through other sources.

It is very noticeable that no reference was made by the Minister for Finance to the industrial position. Last year, the Taoiseach told us that about £80,000,000 additional capital had been put into the transportable goods industries between 1946 and 1952. We are spending large sums on organisations for the development of exports and the encouragement of tourism, and the question is whether we are getting results commensurate with that expenditure, or whether greater efforts cannot be made in the existing situation to try to secure a greater foothold for our produce in the United States of America and greater advantages to our economy by our contacts with that country. Our exports to the United States are only about one-seventh of what we import, and surely with the tremendous population of Irish extraction that we have there, it ought to be possible to build up a much larger market for our produce than appears to be the case.

With regard to the home market, the proposals of the Minister for Finance which we have just been discussing will certainly raise the question in the minds of many of the Irish public, particularly the housewives, whether the Government is taking sufficient steps to see that costs of production are being kept down, and the consumer protected.

One of the complaints one hears, when one refers to the need for exports and the imperative necessity for building up our industrial exports, is the charge that Irish goods can be obtained more cheaply in London than in Dublin. I read a statement by a manufacturer lately, in which it was stated that so far as the home market is concerned, it was comparatively easy for the manufacturer to deal with his costing problem, because apparently the consumer comes at the end of the queue; but the moment the question of the export market arises, the question of costings becomes a very serious and very significant matter. We know that if the prices of products could be reduced by 10, 15 or 20 per cent. there would be a much better chance of getting a stronger foothold in the foreign market and increasing our exports.

We have an organisation which is supposed to deal with that matter. The Tánaiste has so many activities— as have had all Ministers for Industry and Commerce—that I do not think he can give this matter the attention it deserves. Particular stress has been laid upon the necessity for better management, better relations between employers and their employees and the necessity for bringing our industrial organisation into line with modern requirements.

In connection with the proposals for which the Minister for Finance has just received sanction, I wonder whether any action is being taken by the Government, in consultation with industrial interests, to see that costs will not soar as a result of any interest taking advantage of the present situation. On the contrary, with the opportunities they now have—as I stated already when we were discussing these levies in March last—Irish manufacturers and providers ought to be able to give our people the best value in regard to price. If it is not possible for their prices to compete exactly with the possible prices of imported articles, it is our duty to see that, in quality and finish, they are satisfactory and that our people do not feel, when the home manufactured article replaces the foreign one, that they are being placed at any disadvantage either in regard to price or quality.

One of the points that is forgotten in connection with the investment programme—and it has been referred to in the course of this debate—is that high capital investment seems necessarily to involve heavy exports, heavy demands for raw materials. It involves greater leisure, greater spending and greater consumption by those who benefit from it. One feels that the dependence on imports or on the production of durable goods even at home creates a certain instability and it is very noticeable in connection with the cost-of-living index figure. I do not know how many items are on that index figure at the present time, but it has been expanded out of all proportion, to include goods and services that have arisen through the creation of new demands and the forcing of them upon the public through publicity and so on as to the needs they think they have for the purchase of these goods.

In connection with our agricultural industry, surely we can all admit that there is nothing of more importance than proper nutrition of the population, nothing more fundamental than proper nutrition, giving our people the best food. Yet it is noticeable that, over the years, far less has been spent on food proportionately and far more on articles which I think come under the category of durable goods. For example, in theStatistical Survey, we find that, taking the 1938 prices as applying to the present time, the expenditure on food increased by over £6,000,000 or by one-eighth; the expenditure on clothing increased by £3.7 million, nearly a quarter; the expenditure on fuel and light increased by only about one-tenth; while the expenditure on alcoholic beverages and tobacco went up by nearly a quarter, by almost £5,000,000.

In the case of other goods, whatever categories that classification may cover, no less than £15.3 million was spent, an increase since pre-war of 80 per cent. in pre-war money values. Of course, it is a much greater increase, an increase of up to four times, if we take the present values of money.

It is not alone the category of other goods but other services which has increased very substantially, by another £12,000,000. Therefore, it is not in regard to food, not in regard to clothing and certainly not in regard to fuel and light, that the very heavy expenditures are apparent: it is more in connection with other items and particularly those under the heading of other goods and services, that we have this vast increase in expenditures while we have not had a corresponding increase in savings, at any rate in recent years. It seems to me that we have to take, in our planning for the future, the basis of the productivity of the worker and the output that he gives us, which should determine—and we hope would determine—his remuneration, which should increase naturally if our economy were progressive.

The Taoiseach told us last year—he is not vouchsafing any information this year—that there had been a slight increase in output per worker for 1954, only a fractional one. We do not know what the position has been over the years or whether output has been related in any of the available statistics to earnings, which seem to have kept pace with the cost of living and surpassed it at all stages since 1948.

If we do not accept the productivity of the worker in industrial employment as the basis for remuneration—and that is rather difficult if the position is, as referred to by the Taoiseach last year, that less than one-fourth of our national income is attributable to industrial production—we should adopt the basis which would seem to be proper to an agricultural country, that is, the standard of living and the cost-of-living index that the agricultural population would consider reasonable for their needs or, if you like, the prices they get for the food they produce, the net return they get having regard to their expenditure and the capital they invest in the land.

We must adopt one or the other of these bases. We have been trying to reconcile or perhaps assimilate rural standards with urban standards, when, as Deputy Aiken pointed out, even under a regular and progressive and agreed development policy for agriculture, it would take some years in the normal course before we could provide the agricultural population with all the amenities and services that we would wish. If the urban population think that, through the ballot box or through political Parties or otherwise, they will secure higher services from the State, a better standard of living, and so on, where so many people are reaping benefits and are anxious to take more out of the pool, it is difficult for the agricultural community to learn the lesson, even if they are patriotic, as we hope they are, that, in the general national interest, they should put their shoulder even more firmly to the wheel and get a higher return and higher production from the soil.

We have to persuade agriculturists that we are interested in them, that we want to help them, that we realise that their industry is in a special category, that it provides very little more than a reasonable living, even in good times, judging by present urban standards, for even the best of the farming community. It is only natural that the agricultural community should try to get all the services and amenities that the urban and non-agricultural sections are providing for themselves out of the national pool because they happen to be in a position in Dáil Éireann to secure them.

The great majority of the farmers, particularly the younger generation, are fully alive to the necessity of improving their methods. When the doctrine is preached to them and when they are told that attempts to cling to old methods and traditions in farming practice will not solve present-day problems, we will find ready and willing listeners who fully appreciate the position from their point of view; but, if our lessons, our advice and our anxiety to show them goodwill and to co-operate with them could be accompanied by a significant gesture in the way of reducing their costs and in the way of doing still more to ensure that the land is properly manured and limed and by taking steps, through organisations, to see that Government policy is carried out to the letter and to get the co-operation of farmers, we could hope for better results.

Whether we like it or not, there is a growing feeling among the younger farmers that they should be entrusted with more responsibility. I wonder if the time has not come to pick a group of men of practical experience, business capacity and ability, to take up some of these schemes, who, by their association with farming life, would be able to get, though their personal influence and efforts and organisational work more of the results that we would all like to secure.

Agriculture never got full value out of the co-operative movement. The co-operative movement proceeded a certain distance in the way of setting up the co-operative creameries and to a certain extent providing for the farmer his requirements in the way of fertilisers and seeds and, to a limited extent, in taking his produce, but there were many things that the co-operative movement could have done in showing farmers what could be done. What is being done at present in Johnstown Castle and in the agricultural colleges has been often referred to as the type of work that should be done on experimental farms throughout the country. That surely could be done through the co-operative organisations, if they were geared up to meet present-day requirements and if, as I am sure they would, they would give their full co-operation in the national effort.

The wealth from agriculture is clear profit to the nation, whereas in the manufacturing industries proper, as I have already said, a great deal of material has to be imported and on the basis of these imported articles a standard of living is established that cannot be justified by the real situation of our people and from which we may have to retreat at a later stage.

The Taoiseach referred to the report of the Commission on Emigration and pointed out that it had been printed. That was news to many on this side of the House because we had been under the impression—I had been, at any rate —that some nice ethical problem had arisen which had not been resolved. If it has been resolved, that is all to the good, and we will not have the trouble, in future, of an expenditure of 12/6. The Taoiseach has reminded us we can have the printed report and we will not have to wade through the typewritten copies of the report which we were given some two years ago.

The Taoiseach told us last year also that the report was being examined. I do not know whether he expects us to take that very seriously, in view of the issues that have arisen regarding the recommendations in the report as to decentralisation, for example,—the possible decentralisation of Government services, at any rate, and the building up of other centres of population, for, as example, the City of Cork, the southern capital, which has staged such a splendid Tostal festival and which boasts such progressive and able citizens. They would naturally like to feel, if there is a question of decentraliastion of economic and industrial activities, that they would be particularly in the picture and, as I have stated often in this House, towns like Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Galway, with their ports and their hinterland are particularly suitable for development and for trying to divert as much as possible of the new activities which tend to concentrate in Dublin to those towns.

The Taoiseach stated last year that he thought—unfortunately the publication of the Census Report has shown that his anticipation was very far removed from reality—that the long term tendency of a reduction in the male population in agriculture had been arrested. I think we can all agree with the commission that it is the desire for the improvement in material standards that makes our young people emigrate. There are, of course, other factors and one, I think, is the weakening of community life in the more out-of-the-way rural areas. When the rural population of young people falls below a certain figure, when the boys go to a ceilí and do not find sufficient girl partners there, as has been happening for years past, that is a very unfortunate situation.

When the commission made their report, they recommended to the Government that they should encourage and initiate economic and social activities favourable to increased population. We know that if the Government were going to take that recommendation very seriously, it might cost a great deal of money and a great deal of effort in the way of development of social activities which the Government might not consider its proper function, but I notice with interest that the report states that, since the Famine— which always has been my belief—the marriage rate had fallen from about eight—I think it is eight per 1,000— before the Famine, to 5 per 1,000—the comparative figures are eight and five in any case—20 years after the Famine and that there were influences at work in that period that stopped up the natural rhythm of rural life. It would be very interesting to know just what these influences were, but I believe that the sharpening and the realisation of community feeling and the love of home and country, which the report suggests should be inculcated into our young people, might do something, though it might not do everything to restore rural life and revitalise it.

The commission said that almost all the influences which determine population growth are matters which probably depend on personal decisions. That is quite true, but in the case of the rural community we have a great many farmers and a great many spinsters in the farmhouses who did not get married because, for some reason or other, the opportunities were not there. In my opinion—and some of the criticisms regarding our educational system that have been made recently have, perhaps, a good kernel of truth —their minds were not directed at an early stage to marriage as they would have been across the water.

The first thing that strikes one when one looks at these population statistics is the comparatively early age of marriage in Great Britain and in the Six Counties, as compared with ours. I think one of the reasons for that is that the moment the young person goes out to employment in these areas in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, from that moment he, and, I suppose, she, makes up his or her mind that the next step, and an early step, must be marriage. In our rural households, that is not quite the situation, in the same way as the tendency may be to hoard their savings, as has been pointed out, rather than invest them— when they could be invested far more profitably—in their own land, in their own farms, and keep them deposited in the bank for a rainy day or for dowries that have to be paid.

In some way, farmers are often slow to take these decisions. There is the household situation. There is the patriarchal background, if you like, and the individual does not feel himself quite as free to make this personal decision because of the responsibilities upon him and the tradition of the farm and the rural household, but if the position is that we have had this decline in the marriage rate going on right down through the Famine, it is, of course, very hard to root it out. However, I think that in the same way as, through co-operative effort and organisation, we could build up our production, we could also give these social amenities and give a certain glamour, a certain life and a certain social intercourse to the rural communities which, perhaps, does not exist at present. It is true that the motor car has made this difference, that the tendency is to get away to the seaside or to a hurling match or to some other function.

A combined effort might be made to have parish festivals and parish assemblies in connection with the Young Farmers' Clubs or the Irish Countrywomen's Association or any other association in all parishes. The people could be got to see that it is what they have themselves and what has come down to them that distinguishes us as a nation and that when tourists and educated foreigners come to this country it is not to see a Dublin that is very little different externally from an English provincial city but to see the life of the people, to see our own customs, our own festivities, our own social gatherings and our own sports meetings in the natural habitat of the people in the Irish countryside. That is what maintains the life and tradition of the nation more than anything else. It certainly has a powerful influence as we all know in keeping our young people at home if they feel they have the outlet and that measure of social life.

The commission dealt with the necessity, to which the Taoiseach has referred, of developing our agriculture as the primary and fundamental means of developing our economy, our production and our wealth. It is said that only on the basis of a resolution—and I think we can all agree with this— never yet exhibited to develop the economy freely and a ready acceptance of the sacrifices which this would involve, can we deal with this question of emigration. We are all very ready to give advice. We are all very ready to tell the other man what he should do but it is another thing when it comes to giving practical example and accepting the sacrifice which is necessary if we are to get results— results which we in public life must also bear in mind and do our share to achieve. It is not always realised that people are affected by example. The hurler on the ditch is not the man who gets results; it is the man of idealism and enthusiasm and spirit. The unselfish worker who goes down amongst the people will get them to respond. It is because I feel this is largely a social question and one which should be dealt with from the social point of view that I stress it here. In that way we will get other results, more effective and more relevant to our economic needs.

The necessity for giving all possible encouragement to the smaller farms is envisaged by the report of the commission when it points out that the gross output from the smaller farms is nearly twice as much as on the very large ones of over 200 acres, relatively speaking. There are substantially more cows, far more cattle, fewer sheep and more pigs. Of course, there is a great deal more poultry. Even since the time the commission has examined this question, the position has moved more unfavourably I think to the smaller farms because the products which were associated in particular with their economy—poultry, eggs, pigs, bacon— have not been doing so well and the present position regarding them is rather uncertain. The commission suggested that special efforts ought to be made to improve the grassland on these farms, to encourage more cows and more pigs and to try and get back to the traditional economy of the small holding which was characterised by a large cow population.

The commission also dealt with the necessity for giving special care and attention to what are called subsistence farms. In that connection they went on to make what was one of their most important recommendations, namely, that as far as possible schemes of drainage, afforestation and land reclamation should be worked conjointly with the economy of the small farms and that, in fact, as a counter to the migration which has been such a strong feature for generations past of life in the West of Ireland, there should be a national scheme even at a heavy expenditure of £5,000,000 to £6,000,000 a year by which a large number of families—they mentioned a figure of 50,000—could look forward to supplementary earnings for half the year. The estimate was £100 for the half year.

In paragraph 420 they went on to say that if the scheme were too large, too costly, a pilot scheme should be undertaken of 5 to 10 per cent. of the holdings in these congested areas and that, by the expenditure of between £250,000 and £500,000 per year their suggestions and their proposals could be tried out on a smaller scale. Having regard to the expenditure on forestry, land reclamation and land improvement work, I think it was not by any means extravagant of the commission to suggest that a fairly large pilot scheme should be established. I am quite sure that, in the hands of enthusiastic men with the necessary technical knowledge and business capacity to which I have already referred, the time would come when we would be able to settle new homesteads, new villages and perhaps even new towns on some of these schemes.

At the present time there is a shortage of rural labour in some areas of the country but in these areas, whereas the families only migrated for a season before, the danger is that, with the high wages and good employment on the atomic stations, on the big constructional works and even perhaps in the motor or armament factories, they will take their families, as they have been doing, across to England with them. Therefore, even with our best endeavours we may not succeed in holding them but at any rate it would show the people generally that there was some inspiration and some vision in the approach to the problems if we could get a large scheme of this kind which would aim simply at resettling a compartively large population of several score families in their own neighbourhood on reclaimed land and showing them under expert advice and supervision what could be achieved.

I should like to echo the opinions given from this side of the House to-day. In the first place, we do not know the full facts regarding the situation. We can only assume from what has been said that it is very grave indeed and those of us who have administrative experience must take the risk of being exposed to the adjurations of Deputy MacBride or others who may charge us with trying to cause alarm. There is no necessity whatever to cause alarm or panic but what is necessary is to make certain, as Deputy MacEntee has emphasised, that the steps that are being taken will be effective and that we shall not be coming back taking in a few months' time other steps which may still not be effective. The important thing is to take steps in very good time.

We do not know whether the proposals put before the House represent the whole of what the best advice the Government can get in this matter would offer and would suggest as being necessary. What is necessary may not always be practicable, but what would be very dangerous would be that in a deteriorating situation any time would be lost in taking steps which could have been taken before and that there would be a consequent and unnecessary loss in the meantime.

It is not a matter for the Government or for us in the long run. It is for the forces outside this House and for public opinion to determine in the time to come whether the steps that are being taken are sufficient. If they are not steps that will give confidence that the situation is being grappled vigorously and thoroughly by the Government then we will not have the results because, as the Minister for Finance said, the psychological approach is most important. The country realises that the situation is serious. The people must also be made to realise—and it is to the Government they must look for leadership—that the steps that are being taken are sufficient, that they will be effective and will give the necessary results.

For some time past I have had the same qualms as the Minister referred to regarding savings and whether we can get by publicity the necessary results that we would wish in that regard. Unless there is a thorough plan, a thorough organisation throughout the country such as there has been in Great Britain for years past, unless it is in the factories and in the workshops and unless it is brought into touch with the farms it is very difficult to accomplish the work which in the long run can best be done, if it is feasible, by personal canvass, so to speak, and by personal contact with the public. You send out a circular or you put up a poster but it is not quite the same thing as if you have somebody who goes to the factory, to a place like Guinness's, Jacob's, Ford's, Dunlop's or any of these big firms and organises the workers there to contribute a share of their savings and to signify that they are prepared to do that as part of their contribution to the national effort.

The Taoiseach's Estimate generally gives an opportunity to survey Government policy for the previous 12 months. On this occasion the Taoiseach decided to devote most of his opening speech to the grave problem of emigration which has been brought to the notice of the country generally through the recent preliminary census report. Although the Taoiseach's main theme was emigration he failed to hold out much hope to this House or to the people outside it that the Government had any policy or plans ready to try to ease that problem.

My summing up of his speech would be that the portions of it which dealt with emigration were purely and simply long quotations taken from the Report of the Commission on Emigration which was set up in 1948. He quotedad lib. from this very useful report. As a matter of fact, I felt that when he devoted so much time to quoting sections of the report, he must have been of the opinion that the majority of Deputies had not read it at all. I got the impression that he was utilising the occasion to give Deputies an opportunity of hearing at least portions of the report.

The fact is that it was a sheer waste of time for the Taoiseach to pick out paragraphs from that report, a copy of which was made available to each Deputy some time ago. As I have said, quotations from the report formed a major portion of the Taoiseach's speech. The remainder was divided up. In one portion, he dealt severely with the people who dare, at this stage, to criticise Party politics. He spent quite a lot of time dealing with the people who have the audacity to criticise the present Party political setup. The third part of his speech was devoted to telling us what had been accomplished in this country over the past 35 years.

Those were the three aspects of the Taoiseach's speech. He gave us his opinion on emigration as taken from the report of the commission; he dared the people of the country to criticise Party politics; and thirdly, he told us of the achievements of the different Governments here over the past 35 years. As I said at the outset, he held out no hope whatsoever that this Government have any long-term policy in mind or any clear idea of how to tackle this major problem. I shall take the last portion of his speech first. He dealt with the achievements over the past 35 years. I should be the last person in this House to deny that much good has been achieved by the various Governments. There is no doubt whatever about that.

That is why you are here.

I do not know why you are here; it is certainly not because of your ability.

The Deputy should not take things so seriously.

The Deputy should have some courtesy. There should be some courtesy in the House.

I did not start it. As far as Deputy Roddy is concerned, I know he did not take me as being in the least discourteous to him. The Taoiseach should listen to what his own Deputies say. He dealt with the achievements of the different Governments and I think I am entitled, as a member of the House, to criticise his statement and to point out the omissions. Somebody must point out the omissions to the Government.

The Taoiseach dealt with the accomplishments of the past 35 years. Let us see what they were in the field of emigration. In the past 35 years, 750,000 people, mostly youth, have fled from this fertile, undeveloped, semi-populated land. This is a greater exodus than ever took place under the harsh rule of an alien Administration. When the British were here, they were blamed for driving the Irish people out of the country. When the British themselves were driven out, the people still continued to go, but the fact that they continued to go in even greater numbers since the British went out led us to change our time. Now we have decided that the people go for different reasons.

Some go across, the Taoiseach said, fired by missionary zeal. That is quite true. Others, according to the Taoiseach, are fired with the spirit of adventure; more are attracted by the bright lights and amusements across the water. That, to my mind, conveys the Taoiseach's impressions of the reasons why the people leave this country. We are never short of excuses here to hide our own political shortcomings and to hide or cover up the fact that there has been no planned effort to put into operation here an economy that would enable the majority of our emigrants to live here.

The greatest shock in years to people in very responsible positions was the recent census report. The implications of that report stunned not only political leaders but the leaders of thought outside this House. So stunning was that report that the Taoiseach felt it was his duty to make it the theme of his speech on this Estimate. His statement yesterday was: "To-day, emigration is our greatest challenge." To emphasise how much of a shock this emigration business has been to the Taoiseach and to the Government, I should like to quote briefly from the Taoiseach's statement when introducing this Estimate a short 12 months ago. At column 1090 of Volume 152 of the Official Report, the Taoiseach, referring to emigration, is reported as having said:—

"It is only a myth that the Irish are vanishing; for over a generation the Irish population has remained stationary and, particularly in recent years, has been enjoying a progressively increasing standard of living."

He said the suggestion that the Irish were vanishing was only a myth. I do not think I need comment much further on that statement, in view of the calamitous situation revealed by the census figures.

They are not vanishing, even though they go across the water or to America.

They vanish from this country, and, if they continue to do so, there will be no country here.

This country was here before you and it will be here after you. Do not take yourself too seriously.

The State will be here after me.

And the people.

If emigration continues at its present rate, I have very grave doubts if there will be many Irishmen left here in 50 years. There will be a lot of strangers living in this country. The Deputy from Cork may treat emigration as a joke, but if he does, he has another guess coming to him. The situation disclosed in that census report shows that the people are emigrating, vanishing, if you like, from this country. It shows that the rate of emigration was greater in the past five years than in any similar period in the past 50 years. If that is not a cause for worry——

Are not the inducements to go greater?

I shall deal with the inducements. The Taoiseach's remarks a short 12 months ago only go to show how little contact he has had with the situation in Ireland, although he is the Taoiseach. It shows how little he, and the Government are in touch with the problems in rural Ireland; how little the Government know about the train services of C.I.E. which are packed with young people from the West of Ireland and it shows how few visits they pay to Westland Row Station, or to Dún Laoghaire, to see these people on their way to embark on the boats, day after day. I say the Taoiseach and the Government have been completely out of touch with the problem of emigration in spite of the fact that they had the full resources of the Civil Service at their disposal, which reaches into every corner of the State and which, through the Garda Síochána and the Department of Social Welfare, would be able to notify them as to how many people were leaving and from where they were leaving. The Taoiseach was so little in touch with the situation that he had to say it was only a myth that the Irish are vanishing.

Perhaps I should quote him further on the opening of his Estimate last year. This quotation should show the House how little in touch he has been. In column 1106, Volume 152, in the Official Report he says:—

"In recent years growing doubts have been cast on the previously held view that emigration was a bad thing in itself."

That is the Taoiseach's statement just 12 months ago and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government, Deputy O'Donovan, less than two years ago, made a statement, for which he was brought to book last night, in connection with the question of emigration, on a motion which was being discussed in this House.

The interpretation.

I do not want to embarrass the Parliamentary Secretary at this stage. I thing he is pretty embarrassed by some of his colleagues at the present time. Twelve months ago, the Taoiseach said there were growing doubts that emigration was a bad thing in itself. As far as I can see, emigration was an evil thing, a horrible thing and a most undesirable thing, under the British Government, but it may not be such a bad thing now that our own Government is allowing them to go out in greater numbers, in fact, helping them out.

I hope I will be forgiven if I give one last quotation from the Taoiseach's opening speech last year, especially in view of the fact that the Taoiseach was so anxious last year to point out that I had failed to give the views I held to the House last year. In the same column of the same volume, the Taoiseach says:—

"The reports of the Commission on Emigration and Other Population Problems which were received last year are at present being examined by the Departments concerned, and when this examination is completed we will, I hope, be in a better position to assess the problem and the means of dealing with it."

That report has been in the hands of the Government for two years and all we know about what the Government thinks is that the Taoiseach on his Estimate comes in here and quotes lumps out of it and proceeds to say that there is no real recommendation in it, no policy that the Government can pursue. Of course there are first class recommendations, but the point is: Will the Government have the courage to follow up any of these recommendations?

What is the position? The Taoiseach dwelt on the achievements of the last 35 years—a dwindling population, with the cream leaving the country, fleeing from it, at the present time, as from a plague; an agricultural output that has not increased since the end of the war, in spite of the aid of modern machinery, which is so freely available at present; an industrial arm that is weak and forever looking for protection in the form of tariffs or quotas, protection from virile and efficient competitors outside the State. We have a transport system that is in a hopeless mess but retribution in that respect is being staved off by the setting up of a commission. That period of grace will not last very long.

Added to all that, and apart from the serious problem with regard to our balance of payments, we have what, to my mind, is still worse, at the present time: the tightening of credit and a shortage of finance that is threatening to cripple our already limited capital development programme. In a nutshell, after 35 years of self-government we have a tired and dispirited nation gradually sinking into a coma. While this is going on, we have frank appeals made to the few who are left, to save more and spend less. We have a third Budget brought in inside six months, imposing restrictions on the importation of a multitude of goods of minor importance. The idea of these duties is to help ease our balance of payments and we are solemnly warned by the Minister for Finance that he might have to give us further punishment.

Apart from the hairshirt that Fianna Fáil put on in 1932, there is now a hair trousers on the public and an overcoat of the same material as well. While we are putting restrictions on nylons, mouse-traps, buttons, and so forth, we have shiploads of grain and foodstuffs coming into our major ports from abroad, coming in from the four corners of the earth. That grain and food could be, and should be, produced on the land in Ireland. We have the sight, over the past few years, of ships loaded down with American and British coal, unloading at our docks, coal which was to be sold at fantastic prices at a later stage, while Bord na Móna close down their bogs in the many parts of the country and the E.S.B. prepare to curtail their generating programme. That is the position.

If the Taoiseach feels I am wrong in suggesting that Bord na Móna have closed down the bogs, I will refer him to decisions taken on a number of occasions over the past eight years with a view to semi-automatic produced turf. The production of that turf gave first-class employment, and it was a native fuel that could be used. We have the exhortation to the people to produce more here in Ireland and to use what can be produced in Ireland. But the Government of the country, and the Dáil itself, are the first to set the bad example by using foreign fuel to heat the very establishment where the laws are made. We tell commercial firms: "Why not use peat? Why not use turf?" but when it comes to setting the example, the Oireachtas are not satisfied with peat. No; they must have a foreign fuel to heat this establishment. That may be only a minor matter, but it is a matter in regard to which the public may say: "How are we to believe in any Government or Governments which exhort us to do certain things, when those Governments themselves will not set the example?"

We have to-day listened to the Minister for Agriculture in great form telling us what he has done for agriculture. According to him anything that was of benefit to this country started in 1948 when he became Minister for Agriculture. Of course, he was very careful to point out that this terrible worry of inflation, rising prices and the problem of balance of payments that exist here are all only part of an international situation. He said that Britain, France, Belgium, Denmark and Spain had these troubles and that only West Germany and some other country had not these problems. It is grand to be able to put your view across to the public in the way in which the Minister is able to do it. For years, he has succeeded in putting his views across, but I think the day has come when his views on matters of finance will not be seriously listened to by the Irish public.

He has suggested that the same illness is apparent here in Ireland as in the European countries and in Britain. Superficially, it would appear that we have the same illnesses of inflation and problems in regard to trade; but underneath the superficial exterior, the problem in Ireland is much deeper than that. The tragedy is that we are applying the same remedies as "John Bull" is applying now. We are applying the same remedies to the illnesses which beset us here. I read some place recently a very apt statement on this matter by a well-known observer of the economy of this country. He said:—

"Sir Anthony Eden's reducing diet for the obesity of ‘John Bull' is not going to be a cure for Caitlín Ní Houlihan's malnutrition. It is a blood transfusion that the girl needs."

I think that is very true. I have no objection whatever to the restrictions imposed by the Bill introduced here yesterday by the Minister for Finance, but I have a very strong objection to the other measures which are not disclosed to this House—the restrictions on credit for worthy purposes, the behind-the-scenes grip that has been placed on money by the banking concerns of this country who will not release money to-day or to-morrow to any responsible citizens of the State, no matter how desirable the projects may be to which that money may be put.

There is a complete tightening up. I do not know who gave the directions. I should like to find out. I should like to find out if we have reached the stage when the Government themselves have no power whatever to interfere and that the bankers have taken this step of restricting credit on orders direct from London. Some of our key advisers on financial matters have been in very close touch with the London financial people over the past few weeks. I wonder what was going on behind the scenes? I wonder what was the reason why some of our experts had to hasten to London within the past couple of months for consultations with financial experts of the British Government?

I do not want to say much more about that aspect here because I feel it would be necessary to go into too much detail and I do not think that would be justifiable at this stage. However, I suggest to the Taoiseach and to the Government that, in trying to prevent the people overspending, as they say they are, on imported goods, that they ensure there is no restriction of money or credit for useful development purposes.

We have disclosed in the statement of the Minister for Finance that a gap of £5,000,000 will possibly have to be met in respect of the completion of the capital development programme for the coming year. It would appear that the Government are tied to the idea that capital development in this country must be financed from savings alone. We are so far behind in capital development that the savings of the people are insufficient to put into operation a capital development programme that would, even in ten years' time, get the number of people into employment that Deputy MacBride, Deputy Lemass and others say should be employed. Does anybody seriously suggest we will get 10,000 people per year put into new jobs with a limited capital development programme of £37,500,000 or £43,000,000?

When the money for capital development purposes is not available, it is a much more serious matter than the question of the balance of payments. If we have not the money for the capital development programme, our balance of payments position is bound to get worse in the years to come. If we are not able to produce more goods here, then we are bound to have adverse balances; whereas if we could produce more goods, we would have more money for capital development. I am not going into any detail in this. I am not an expert on finance and I have never posed as such; but it strikes me as rather peculiar that every time the pound note in the British Treasury gets a slight chill, the Irish pound note immediately suffers from double pneumonia.

I have painted a very gloomy picture, and I have done so on purpose. It is often essential to see the worst side of things and to see how black things really can be. It is a question, if you like, of the darkness coming before the dawn. The crisis that faces us at the present moment has not come overnight. It did not come in the last six months; it did not come in the last three years purely as a result of the present Government. The picture, as it is painted to us here in the Minister's Budget statement, has been unfolding itself over the past 15 or 20 years. It is not the fault of any one Government in the State. Each Government has been doing its best to cure the position according to its views and according to its own lights.

The position is that each Government on its part, and the people, have gone on hoping that things would change whenever the different Governments took office. I repeat that their hopes in that direction have not been realised. It would appear that the more Governments have changed, the more they have remained the same in this country, as far as their policies are concerned. For years, as a nation, we have shown an unfortunate and extraordinary ability—or perhaps I should say an extraordinary capacity—to sidetrack realities and to console ourselves with the thought that things could be worse, with the result that we have stumbled aimlessly and blindly along until we have reached the crisis which is facing the nation to-day.

Deputies might say that things are bad, but they are not as bad as I am trying to paint them, and it is all right for me personally to criticise. I agree it is easy to criticise, but I want to say also that I have made proposals on many occasions since I came into this House in 1948; proposals that have in many respects been recommended by very responsible groups of people outside, but these proposals were never taken seriously. Some of the proposals I made here have now been made by the Commission on Emigration, but when I made similar proposals and put them before the Government, they were merely sneered at.

I feel that this question of emigration, particularly as I see it in the West and the congested districts, has been a very real one for years past and it has been a very real one indeed for Deputies in those areas. Some time ago, I put down a motion asking the Government to take steps to deal with it and the Taoiseach's reply was to describe me as a professional wailer. So far as emigration is concerned, the Taoiseach can expect nothing from me when he says things like that. He can expect nothing from me but harsh words, and I hope he is able to take it.

We had the Minister for Agriculture to-day telling us that there are more cattle to-day in Ireland than at any time since statistics came into operation. It is extraordinary that at the very moment when our cattle population has reached its highest, the population of our country has reached its lowest point in Irish history. To-day there seems to be glorification of the bullock and the emigrant ship for Irishmen.

Has the Deputy read his history?

Which history do you mean? There are so many histories of this country that one would not know which of them to take up.

The Deputy has just said that the population is the lowest ever.

The former Minister for Lands speaking here this afternoon quoted one of the reports of the Commission on Emigration dealing with the output from small farms. The findings of that commission were that the greatest output came from the small farms. The output from these farms was greater than the output from the farms of 200 acres and upwards. We are all dependent on agriculture. It is the only industry we have in the country to enable us to meet the present situation, but what steps are the Government taking to ensure that the land is being utilised to its fullest extent? The best land in this country is held in farms of from 300 to 1,000 acres, and, in the majority of cases, that land is not being utilised for the benefit of the nation, or even for the benefit of the owners themselves.

We have these people with these large acreages of land and yet we find that the small farmers of the West are producing more per acre than these large land holders. In those circumstances, we find that those large land holders are getting the same facilities and privileges as are being given to the farmer or congest with a £5 valuation. The solution to that type of problem is that large tracts of land which are being allowed to go waste should be taken over and distributed amongst these small farmers so as to give holdings of a minimum of 40 acres. That would be giving the land to the people who are prepared to work it and the commission has reported and Dr. Lucey has stated in a report, that if the land was properly divided, a further 30,000 holdings could be established with a minimum of 40 acres each—30,000 holdings with families of four per house. We can all quickly realise what that would mean for the benefit of the nation.

It is time that there was a limit put to the amount of land which any man can hold in the country. I am not going to suggest a figure, but I do say that there should be a limit to the amount of arable land which any one man can hold and the land over that limit should be taken over—of course the owners would be paid for it—and given to the small farmers who will work it and produce from it. Undoubtedly you would have an outcry from the vested interests in Meath and elsewhere if that was done, but I am convinced that it will have to be done eventually.

We have heard people here and outside talking about co-operation. These people say that the small farmers should co-operate, but these people are not going to get away with that. So far as the congests are concerned, no matter what co-operation they have amongst themselves, they will still be living in a rural slum. We have the Taoiseach and other members of the Government telling us that the people are leaving the West of Ireland for social purposes. They are fortunate in that they are able to point to one or two cases where people in good jobs have emigrated, but the fact is that the people are leaving the West of Ireland because they cannot get a living there. I would love to see one of these Ministers going down to a congested area and making that type of statement there.

I have said that, according to their lights, every Government does its best. This is a democracy and, if we examine what a democracy means, we will find that it is very simple. Where there are only two major Parties, there is no room for both Parties on the right of the line. Now there cannot be any proper progress made where the two major Parties in any democracy are of the same way of thinking. In this country, our two major Parties are conservative Parties, whether they like it or not.

They are all farmers, too.

Prior to 1922, there was never any apparent difference between the revolutionaries on economic and social principles. Then came the split on the Treaty and the aftermath of the Civil War. Next came the formation of our political Parties, Parties almost identical with those we have to-day. The formation of these Parties was based on acceptance, or otherwise, of the Treaty to a great extent. Time has healed the terrible scars and bitterness of that period and the issue of the Treaty is something that is best forgotten. The ranks have closed now and all are at one in relation to the solution of the Border problem and the means to achieve it; but, despite the fact that the ranks have closed, an artificial difference has been fostered over the years between the two groups, an artificial difference on matters of social and economic importance, and that artificial difference enables the Parties to-day to maintain their separate identities. As a result of that, in recent years, we have seen what almost amounts to the setting up of political dynasties.

The Taoiseach in his opening speech criticised severely those of us who have the temerity to criticise Party politics here. I am not worried about what the Taoiseach said in that regard. I am personally in favour of Party politics where there is the fundamental difference in the policies of the Parties. I should not like to see this House full of Independent Deputies and I do not think that day will ever come. I suggest, in all sincerity, that we will have to get a change of mind in the two major Parties with regard to their programmes.

Ireland is facing a very dark hour as far as its economy and, perhaps, as far as its political freedom is concerned, because of the possible collapse of that economy. It is apparent, listening to the speeches made here, to both Deputies and the general public outside the House that no particular Party here has produced a policy or a programme which will meet the situation. As a matter of fact, my feeling is that the Opposition at the moment do not want to take power, and I do not blame them.

Mr. de Valera

Just try.

When I say that, I am not saying it from a Party point of view. The Opposition would not like to have to face the serious problems that beset the country at the moment and the Government equally cannot be too happy in their appointment at the present time. I heard the Minister for Agriculture to-day sounding off again on this question of criticising those who disagree with the Party set-up here. I want to ask a question and I want someone wiser than I am to answer it. I want someone to tell me where the major Parties here differ fundamentally in their approach to agriculture. I want to know where the major Parties differ fundamentally in their approach to the most important part of agriculture, mainly the land rester' distribution programme and the ending of congestion? Where do they differ? I should like someone to tell me where do the major Parties differ in their policy or methods in relation to the expansion of our industrial arm.

While, for instance, we depend to-day to a great extent on our cattle trade to keep us in a position to pay for our imports, we had over the past 30 years an opportunity of providing an industry from the soil, an industry which would rival the cattle trade in importance, namely, the manufacture of Irish whiskey. Scotch whiskey on the American market last year was worth over £42,000,000. Irish whiskey was worth less than £300,000. Now everything that goes into the manufacture of whiskey is grown in the country and comes from the land. A £10,000,000 sale of whiskey outside this country would be worth more than £40,000,000 of cattle because of the employment it would give in the growing of barley, the distillation of the whiskey and in the distributive trade.

What have we done? When has any Government had the wisdom and the foresight to tackle that industry while the Scotch wiped our eye over the past 30 years? Its importance would have been greater than the cattle trade. But neither major Party had the courage to say to the big distillers: "Gentlemen, if you do not do your duty and expand the distilling industry, we will do it ourselves and put you out of business." Because of the major Parties' worship at the so-called shrine of private enterprise, the alleged sacred freedom of the individual to do what he likes, we have allowed a couple of these major distilling companies to sneer at the very seat of Government by their refusal to expand an industry that could be of the greatest importance to the nation.

The Fianna Fáil Party here can undoubtedly point to greater achievements, perhaps, than their opposite numbers in the field of social services and industrial developments. They may have, too, not just a slight difference of degree in their approach to these problems. I am trying to find out from somebody if there is any fundamental difference in their approach to the problems. I can see none, and all I can say is that between them they have set up an artificial pretence that there is a fundamental difference between them in their social and economic principles. Their pretence, built up over the years, has helped to bedevil politics in this country to-day.

I am only quoting the Government when I say that, according to the Taoiseach, Deputy Dillon and Deputy Sweetman, we face a really serious crisis. If things get worse in Britain —and I think that they are bound to, in spite of the efforts being made by the present Government—what are we going to have? We are going to have here a reduction in the capital development programme, and a reduction in the money the local authorities are going to spend. That means that men already are being left off in rural Ireland, and they are heading for the emigrant ship. Irishmen in England working in factories who will probably be dismissed very shortly will meet the outgoing emigrants. That will be a nice kettle of fish.

Has the Government given any consideration to the problems likely to face this country, problems even more serious if our youth who have fled this country for the past ten or 15 years are forced to come back as a result of depression there? Have we any long-term plans to meet emergency situations like that, or have we displayed our usual capacity for side-tracking that nasty issue and deciding "Hope for the best; perhaps it will never happen at all."

I do not suggest for a moment that there is an immediate solution to the problem of emigration or that it can be solved overnight with a flick of the fingers—nobody in this House or outside it is foolish enough to suggest that —but there is no spark of inspiration, no striking approach to our problems by the Government or by the Opposition that would halt intending emigrants in their tracks with the hope that they could stay at home with a sense of security and that they could get employment. Any outside student of politics to-day would be hard put to find any difference in the mentality, outlook or programme of the major Parties in this country to-day on economic and social matters. Until that is brought home and sinks deeply into the minds of the Irish people, there is little or no hope of dealing realistically with the problems that have to be faced and solved. It may be too late when that feeling or realisation sinks home into the minds of the Irish people.

The only hope I see now lies in the formation of a national Government, composed of all Parties in this House.

Mr. de Valera

What about your differences then?

The only alternative to that I can see in a few years' time is a dictatorship, which would be an infinitely worse form of Government than a national Government ever could be. I have no personal love for a national Government as such, but we face a national emergency that calls for the loyal co-operation and help of all, and for the expert guidance of the best brains in all Parties working together and having responsibility at the same time. I know that my words will probably fall on deaf ears, as far as this House is concerned. Perhaps years of monotonous, soul-destroying obedience to the Party Whips has sapped the political spirit of many of the Deputies of this House. I say that as far as real politics are concerned at the moment loyalty to the country should come before loyalty to any single political Party.

In order to put this in a practical way, I believe that you must have this close co-operation between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil for a limited period. There is nobody suggesting that a national Government should be there for all time. There should be a national Government for a period of three to five years, and, at the end of that period, we could have a fresh approach to economic and social problems, and men in this House would be in a position to sort themselves out purely on their views as to how economic and social problems should be tackled. We could have a two-Party system in this country then—one conservative, one progressive—and let the people choose whichever Government they liked, depending on the situation that obtained in the State.

I suggest that if the Taoiseach feels that in an emergency like this the help of all Parties in this House is essential he can take one immediate step. I suggest that the Taoiseach should invite the President of Ireland to address this House. Under the Constitution, the President has power to address this House and he has power to appeal here in this Chamber for the unity for which he has been appealing outside this House. At various public meetings, he has suggested that the past should be forgotten and that close co-operation should exist. I urge the Taoiseach to invite the President to come here and make that plea to the leaders and the major political figures on both sides of the House. If that step is taken by the President, the ranks will close in rural Ireland amongst the ordinary people, and the remaining scars will be forgotten and the sores will be healed, if the differences that exist at the top level in this House are smoothed out beforehand.

I have nothing further to say on this Estimate, except to point out that I presume that there will be a vote on it. If I have the opportunity of casting a vote, I am going to vote against the Taoiseach's Estimate because the Taoiseach selected emigration as the topic of his statement. My vote will be cast against the Taoiseach for his inept approach to the very serious problem which he himself described as a challenge to the nation. My vote in that regard will bear little weight, but I want to have on the records of this House my deep disappointment with the lack of a programme or a policy over the past two years on the part of the present Government in the matter of facing up to the major problem of emigration.

If this Government feel to-morrow morning like going to the country and if they are beaten, I do not suggest that the present Opposition are in a position at the moment to produce a concrete long-term plan to meet emigration. I want to make that clear. I want to repeat what I have already said. In the crisis facing us with the life blood of this nation pouring out from our ports week after week all over the country, a truce should be called to the Party political warfare for a period of three to five years and a national Government should be formed. If that step is taken the people who are leaving will pause, think and say that there is hope at least that they can stay and work in Ireland.

Mr. de Valera

I wonder whether we could get agreement that if we remain on longer than half-past ten——

I understand that the Parliamentary Secretary stated that he will make an announcement before 8.30 p.m.

Mr. de Valera

I should rather like to know whether or not a vote can be taken after half-past ten. Could we get an answer to that question?

Would somebody send for the Parliamentary Secretary and the Whip?

The Parliamentary Secretary is being sent for.

Will the decision of the Leader of the Opposition to speak at this stage depend on that?

Mr. de Valera

It might; I will not say it would.

Deputy de Valera might like to wait for a couple of minutes.

Mr. de Valera

No. What I have to say on the immediate issue was said yesterday. "The bridge broke down and they all fell in; we'll find good ground at the bottom, said Brian O'Lynn." I do hope that we have found good ground before we have reached the bottom and that the country also will have found good ground before we have reached the bottom. I have had two very refreshing experiences in my life. One was when I listened to the members of the present Government on the opposite side when they declared their allegiance to the Constitution and their allegiance to the Republic. I have had another very satisfactory experience within the past few days. I heard people speaking from these benches with voices that could only suggest to me the rake's recovery.

On these benches, when those members sat here, we had doctrines preached that were quite the reverse of the doctrines I have had to listen to for the past few days. "Brian O'Lynn" came into my mind as I thought of my younger days when I heard that old song or rhyme. Another thought came into my mind reminding me of my young days when I remembered how I used to have laboriously to write on the copy book this sentence: "Experience keepeth a dear school, but fools will learn in no other."

Unfortunately, that school is a dear one, but if we get fools to learn before it is too late, as Deputy Aiken said to-day, it may in the long run be worth the price. The Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance spoke of the serious situation with which we have to deal. My criticism of the Government in connection with that was that the different members of the Government, even in this crisis, when the co-operation and support of the people as a whole was required, could not be got to talk to the people in the way they would be respected.

To-day I listened to the Minister for Agriculture speaking again in the old strain. I suggested that in regard to some of the other members of the Government the Taoiseach should take them by the ears. I did not mean physically, of course, but I suggest to him to put a gobán on the mouth of the Minister for Agriculture.

A gobán is even more difficult to handle.

Mr. de Valera

I know what a gobán is and I knew it probably before the Minister was born.

Mr. de Valera

I come from a dairying district and I know what a gobán is and why it is put in the mouth of a calf. A gobán needs to be put on the Minister for Agriculture when he talks, as he talked to-day, about the uselessness of foreign assets. We are asking the people to save. Why should the people save to keep assets that are suggested to be of no value? They are either of value or they are not. We used to be told by a gentleman before the election—a gentleman who has not appeared in this debate—that there was £20,000,000 to be saved in economies. We used to hear from that gentleman, too, of the useless paper which was being secured for our produce during the war. Now let us, at least on this important matter, try to get down to realities and give up the nonsense spoken in the past.

Why are these measures which will impose considerable hardship on our people being introduced, if the foreign assets which have been depleted are of no value? Surely, any of us who have given any thought to the matter know the value that they have, that as long as they exist they are there to help out the national economy, to enable us to get in from outside the things that are necessary for the preservation of our standard of living here. Is that a fact or is it not? If it is not a fact, then the whole thing is nonsense. If it is a fact, surely the members of the Government ought to be trying to get the people to realise it.

We know perfectly well that the present situation is caused by the fact that our foreign assets are being depleted at such a rate that, if it were allowed to continue, we would be in the position that in future we could import only the equivalent of what we export. At the present time, that would mean cutting down our imports from some £200,000,000 odd to £110,000,000 odd.

These millions were used to purchase products which were used here in this country in one way or another. The main trouble about them was that they were not being used as savings should have been used, past savings: they were being frittered away in consumption.

We have been told that successive Governments here have had as their aim the building up of foreign assets. That is not so. What we have in mind —and what I hope any sensible people in the present Government have in mind—is the use of those assets as savings should be used, for productive purposes, that is, for capital purposes that will be productive. We never said that assets should be built up with savings if those savings could have been used here immediately for productive purposes.

The banks have been blamed because we have had external assets. How are those assets built up? They were built up because of the goods which the stranger, the outsider, had received from us or for the services which we had rendered to him. That is how our foreign assets were built up. Mostly they were built up in Britain during war periods. These assets are simply the £'s which were given by the British for the goods and the services which we rendered to them. They can only be brought home by our getting back goods and services in return for them.

We had to-day an instance of what happens. There was an increase of some £4,000,000, that was referred to by one of the Deputies, in the external assets of the banks. Of course, the Minister for Finance was able to point out afterwards how that was built up, that there were assets already in Britain with a different ownership, belonging to the Government or Government Departments, and the moment these were sold they were still British and they were turned into British pounds. They were external assets, they were a claim by us on British goods and services.

Now, a small bit of clear thinking on a matter of this sort should make us realise that the existence of these assets represents a claim for goods and services on strangers, to be rendered to us. Surely these are of value. If you have claims on somebody, that they will render services and goods to you when you want them, surely these are valuable. If you have such claims on a person, are you going to fritter away those claims by using them for trifling purposes? Or are you going to use those claims in order to build up your economy so that it may be so productive as to give your people a higher standard of living?

For goodness' sake, can we get an end to this nonsense of saying those assets are of no value? It is true they are external. It is true the value of the British £ can be changed, but there is no way, unless you bring them in and waste them, in which you can deal with that situation—no way that I know of, anyhow. They are claims in terms of pounds, on Britain mainly, and those claims can be realised only, as I have said already, by giving us the goods and services.

I do not want to spend too much time on this. We have spoken about it already. I have mentioned this matter because I wish, in the national interest, that at this stage we would have members of the Government facing the realities and trying to get our people to face them also. Not every person in the country whose support is required for this effort knows things as the Government ought to know them; they think only of accounts as if you had them in a bank, you draw on them and that is all about it, and you can change your accounts, and so on. You cannot do that with external assets. If the Government sells them, they go to the commercial banks; if a private individual sells his interests over there, they also make their appearance in some other form as an external asset. The only way in which they can be realised is by bringing them in, in goods and services. That ought to make the people realise their value.

I really wished to point out this evening that this Vote is one on which the Opposition has an opportunity of criticising the Government in all its Departments and of showing its dissatisfaction with the conduct of affairs. We have done what no political Party has done yet in this House until we came here. On two or three separate occasions since the present Government came into office we here have deliberately supported the Governeven though we could have made a great deal of political capital against them if we had been looking for popularity on that basis. We supported them at a time when there was a question of force being used—improperly, as we thought, or unwisely, as we thought—and the result of our support has been that the threat that was there has largely been eliminated. We supported the Government when they brought in this first set of levies and again we have supported them on the basis that we felt the national interest was so important and the matter so important that it would be wrong for us to do otherwise much as we are anxious to get that Government out. Yes, we were asked a few minutes ago whether we were willing to take office. We took office before and we saw the nation through crises before— and if the responsibility is given to us, we are willing to do it again. As far as that is concerned, let there be no doubt about it. Let there be no doubt about that issue.

I do not know whether your term will be long or short. I have had sufficient experience of it myself to know that it is not a bed of roses to be in the Government. However, many in this House came into public life for national purposes, not because they were keen on politics. They came in for national purposes to do certain work which they thought was in the interest of this nation—and they are still here in this House in that same spirit.

When the first Coalition was formed I expressed a fear. Perhaps the terms in which I expressed it might have been somewhat too strong, but I thought that it would be a disaster for this country to see that type of Government formed. I hope that there will be nobody here in this country in the future who will be able to look back and say that I was right. There was a member of Fine Gael, God rest him, who, before he died, seemed to feel the same as I felt about it.

I believe that a good deal of our present misfortune is directly due to the attitude that was taken up by members of the different Parties in the Government some years ago. As I said last night, they preached a demoralising doctrine to our people. They made the people think that savings were of no use, that thrift was foolishness, that external assets had better be dissipated any way at all. "To eat, drink and be merry," was the philosophy of life. They taught a philosophy of Hedonism when, of all things, our people should have been taught, in those days in which, having emerged from a long period of trouble of one kind or another, we were getting into the clear, that the essential thing for our people was to be energetic, to be industrious, to be thrifty. The doctrines they taught were quite the opposite and they got into power, in my opinion, by false pretences and it was false pretences that was the very beginning of original sin. It was false pretences that tempted poor Mother Eve at the start.

Captain Cowan and Dr. Browne.

Mr. de Valera

False promises— these were the basis and are the basis of the present Government. They have now had to play the part of the reformed rake in regard to many of these matters. Every single promise that they made on prices and all the rest of it—I could go through a long litany of them—bank restriction, bank rates, etc.—they have proved false to and unable to carry out. How can people in the country really rally around a Government of that sort? I do not think they can.

Mr. de Valera

We are throwing our weight in because that is the way in which we believe co-operation can best be given in national work through this House. People have been talking about unity. The required unity is in this House if every Deputy in it, whatever side he belongs to, feels that he has a responsibility to work for the nation. We are fulfilling our duty. We do not agree with the Government. There is a situation and there are certain proposals for dealing with it. I do not know whether these would be the proposals but I do know that unless imports were restricted we would again have a deficit in the balance of payments and another £36,000,000 or so, perhaps more, of our external assets dissipated. The consequences of that I know also. If I wanted to talk from these benches as the Taoiseach spoke in 1952 or as many of the Ministers about him spoke, about the hardships and so on, I might express doubts as to their effectiveness, as to the ultimate results of these measures but I am not doing that; our members are not doing that, because we believe that the matter is much too serious to be dealt with in that way by any responsible member of this House.

The Minister for Agriculture to-day was talking about our ullagoning. It is not we who are doing any ullagoning. We have seen the picture. We know it. We believe that this nation, properly led, as I said last night, can get out of this situation and as far as we can co-operate in getting the nation out of this situation, we mean to do it. It can be done. I do believe that we have found ground before we have reached the bottom. I do believe that we have learned a very important lesson.

I would have liked to have seen members of the Labour Party participating in this debate because they have their part to play in this important matter and I do not think it should be left to a sort of plaudit by them to the Minister for Finance when he had finished his statement. We ought to hear, before this debate ends, how far the Labour Party and its members will co-operate in this effort or will they go out and use it for political purposes and point to the people who may have to suffer, indeed, who will have to suffer, as a result of these measures, that these are done by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil?

Let us be frank here with the people of the country. This situation does demand the active co-operation of all public representatives. Will we get it? Will we have, as I pointed out last night, a hand grabbing for the brake and a foot stamping on the accelerator? Which will it be? Let the members of the Labour Party come along and take their share. They are members of the Government. Do they want to have it both ways? Do they want to throw the blame for all this on some conservative members of Fine Gael or, as they would put it, on some conservative members of Fianna Fáil?

I hope that we will get the national effort that is necessary and that we will have the people here speaking in one voice to the people of our country and telling them that we have of necessity to live within our means, that if we want to have progress in the future, we must save. In other words, we must produce more than we consume and the more we want to consume and the more we want to save the more we will have to produce. It ought to be the business of the administrative authority here to try to devise ways and means so that this extra production will be secured.

We have had some talk from members of this House on the need for a long-term plan and the need for agreement and now we have another Deputy, who was not so very long ago associated with the same group, the same person talking about differences being essential. I think it is a great thing for the country that we should have got agreement upon certain fundamental things. Thanks be to God, we have got agreement upon our fundamental law. And with that as a basis, we have a firm foundation for our political life.

On account of the challenge that we have had no policy, that no Party has had a policy, I think I should review the situation to show that as far as we are concerned we have had a policy from the beginning. That policy had three or four primary aims. The first was to secure the unity and independence of our country. We have worked for that day in and day out. We did not say it was going to be done in three weeks, or in three months, or in six months. We knew how difficult the task was, but we did have a determination to use every opportunity to secure that fundamental aim.

I could, of course, devote all the time that would be reasonable here talking about this problem of the partition of our country, pointing out that no matter what basis we take it on—the will of the governed or any other basis—there is no basis in justice for the present partition of our country. To know that and to believe that just men would hold with you in that is not of itself going to give any solution, and, if we rule out a solution by force, the only solution, a solution which has been accepted and is common to the members of the Government and to our own side of the House, one which I believe now is generally accepted in the greater part of the country, is that we have to try to bring about the unity of our country by trying as best we can to get people of just minds to see it as it is, the wrongness of it, and to try to get our fellow countrymen who differ from us to long, as we long, to be working together with us in the interests of the nation which many of them are proud to call, and call with us, their nation. Many of them are proud to say that they are Irishmen and they do that best when they are in company with people of other nations. We want them to do it at home with us, to say that they are brother Irishmen with us, and that they are going to work with us for the exaltation of this grand old land which we hold in common.

We have a common aim then in that matter and we have, in so far as the present conditions are concerned, a common policy and we mean to proceed—if we were in office, we would proceed on that line—and we hope and expect that the present Government will proceed in the same way. That was one of our problems and one of our aims.

The next aim we had was to try to secure the restoration of our language. Now, it is not sufficient to give lip service to that aim. There is nothing so demoralising in a people as to be giving lip-service to an aim which they are not taking any effective steps to implement. Is it true to say that effective steps are not being taken towards the restoration of the language? I do not say that is true at all. I believe that over the years, notwithstanding criticism from outside, steps have been taken which make it very much easier for those who are living in the country to-day to know the language to-day, to acquire a spoken knowledge of it, than existed years ago. I withheld criticism which I could very easily have made as to the slowness of the Government that came into office talking about what they were going to do for the Gaeltacht.

A Ministry was to be set up. I have, over the years, given a great deal of attention to the problem. I know its difficulties and I know that nothing is easier than to set up an organisation or to set up machinery. It is the getting of effective work from the machinery that matters. After a couple of years of waiting, we have got it set up and we hope, now it has been set up, that it will get to work rapidly and that we will not have another two years spent in some other organising of machinery.

There was a period here when I thought the responsibility was going to be that of the Minister for Local Government. We were led to understand so. On one or two occasions, I tried to find out whose the responsibility was, but now we have the responsibility fixed. I know the responsibility that will be given to the Minister for Education in the holding of the two posts and I feel that any one of these posts is sufficient to occupy the full-time energies of any individual.

So do I. It is only a very temporary arrangement.

Mr. de Valera

I do not want to be in any way unduly critical, but surely after a couple of years there is no use in telling us—we are being put off from day to day—that this thing could happen and so on. The ordinary length of office of a Government is four years—it is less than four when we take it over the years—and surely if the present Government wants in any way to fulfil its promise in that regard, we should not have temporary arrangements all the time.

We have not temporary arrangements all the time—only in this case.

Mr. de Valera

Two years of it and all we get is a Parliamentary Secretary.

You were there for 20 years and you did not do it at all.

Mr. de Valera

I did work at it.

I am sorry; I will not interrupt any more.

Mr. de Valera

I do not mind an odd interruption——

I will not say another word.

Mr. de Valera

As long as it is a decent interruption, I do not mind.

The Taoiseach, in his final remarks, quoted the Holy Father to us and one of the things he laid stress on was the failure of certain people to see what was done and only to point to what was not done. There was a whole campaign here against Fianna Fáil by some of the gentlemen who have spoken recently in this debate and it was all founded on the basis of going down and picking out a couple of houses, dilapidated houses, in which some people were still living, photographing these houses and taking the photographs throughout the country, showing them in cinemas and saying: "This is Fianna Fáil for you." They did precisely the thing that the Taoiseach quoted the Holy Father as speaking against.

Nothing is easier than to point to what is not done. If you want to see whether progress has or has not been made, you have to point to the things that have been done as well as to the things that have not been done. It is to the things that need to be done at any particular time you should address yourself. I am all at one with the Taoiseach in that, but let the Taoiseach not be telling us we are temporising in that matter. For a full time Minister, going at it with all his endeavours, it is a difficult problem, a very difficult problem, and even after a time at it, he might not be able to show very extraordinary results. But at least let us have an assurance that the effort will be made and made energetically.

However, it was not to criticise the Government on that that I started. I started to try to indicate that there were definite aims and a definite programme. Again, let us say that as far as both sides of the House are concerned, we are genuinely not giving lip-service to it but are genuinely desirous to restore the language and that we will do that by trying to take practical measures towards that end. It is a very difficult thing to get the people who are very fluent in a language which is able to supply their needs generally to use another language. Anybody who has learned another language knows that. Therefore, it will be difficult to get our people, even those who have learned it at school, to speak the language. They will never learn to do it, unless we have a definite policy of insisting on spoken Irish and the teaching of it. They will never do it unless we have a definite policy of insisting on the spoken Irish in the teaching of it.

I tried when I was Taoiseach to get our Department to set itself to bring in oral examinations in the secondary school. Again, I know the difficulties. I was a teacher in a secondary school. I have a fair idea of the difficulties that are involved. However, if we are serious about restoring the language as the spoken language we must have it as a basis of the teaching in the elementary schools and we must also have it in the secondary schools. If we do not, we are again doing something like what I said in connection with the measures towards righting our economy: we will be accelerating and at the same time putting on the brake. If we are serious, we must not do things of that sort.

We had that as an object. The other members of the House, I would say, have it as an object. Let us all earnestly try to reach our objective. Every day that it is deferred means increasing the difficulty. Let us be serious then about these objectives. I believe we are. I know the distractions of government, the thousand and one things that members of the Government are pressed with from day to day. I know how hard it is to get after these things. That is the value of having some one person, if you are going to make it a Ministry, devoted to that job.

There are two main difficulties. There is the difficulty of co-ordinating it with education because undoubtedly the language side has two main aspects —(i) the preservation of the language in the Gaeltacht and (ii) pressure in the schools and educational establishments. One belongs ordinarily to the Minister for Education and therefore I can see the natural desire which exists to try and co-ordinate them at some level. Let us have some one person who will be responsible to this House for that work.

It it well worth while explaining the next objective to the people of the country so that we will not have members of this House going out and pretending that each of the Parties in this House is just fooling about, chasing our tail like a dog without having any idea of where we are going or what we are doing. We had as the next main objective to try to provide in this land of ours a livelihood for as large a population as it was possible for it to contain in reasonable comfort. That was and is the aim. The means of achieving it are different matters. Back in 1917, emigration was one of the topics that I had to speak about at that particular period. I pointed out then as can be pointed out to-day that of all the civilised peoples of Europe we were the only nation that was losing its population, the only nation where not merely was the natural increase being lost but more to the good. I was talking then in relation to 80 years ago and I pointed out that we had reduced in population to half of what it was then. To remedy that situation, once we had achieved the political freedom which it was necessary to have in order to be able to adopt policies, the main thing was to get after that matter.

How did we do it? The most obvious way of trying to deal with the deflation of population of that kind was to try to build up our industries here. We set out to do it. Unfortunately, the other trend, the trend from the land to industrial centres, more than counterbalanced the advantage that was gained by building up our industries. However, do not forget that if these industries had not been built up the trend would have been there none the less and that at least we have salvaged that number by that policy. Before the last war began there was increasing hope because we were getting bit by bit our people to be enterprising, to build up industries, and so on, and we were, bit by bit, cutting in on this problem of emigration. Then the war came and the inducements across the water were too great and the trend of emigration began again.

I do not know on what basis the Taoiseach said—I forget the precise words used either by the Taoiseach or the Minister for Finance; I think it was the Taoiseach said it because it was on the question of emigration— that it is vain to think that this country, with our limited resources, can achieve the material comfort that is achieved outside, that we could not hope to have here conditions from the material point of view which would be sufficient to retain our people. I should like to know on what basis the Taoiseach was thinking. I know he set off the spiritual as against the material advantages and, on that, I am all with him but I am not so sure that we need go altogether to the purely spiritual advantages. After all, the standards of life, if there is any sense in them at all, depend upon living conditions. Is the Taoiseach going to tell us that the living conditions we knew of in some of the industrial centres in England—and some later information that came to me suggests they are still very bad—are much better than the conditions which a number of people left in this country? I do not think they are.

I should like also to say, because it is well that our people should realise it, that you cannot estimate the value of the life you will get in these places simply by the money return you will get. You have to take the two sides of your account. If you take the extra costs from the extra remuneration, I wonder very much whether in real terms, when you come down to it, the number of people who have emigrated would not find they were better off materially at home. I should like to give it consideration but I know that if you take and compare the national incomes or something of that sort they would not give you anything like a true picture. In the case of Britain you will have in the national income the lords of manors, industrial magnates, and so on. You would have to take a cross section of the community if you were to get anything realistic before you would get anything like a decent picture of the situation.

However, we have gone a certain distance in the building up of our industries. I hope that one of the things that will be done by the Government under present conditions is to use levies as if they were protective measures, and, under the cover of them, try and shelter nascent industries here. Again, there is the question of machinery and certain raw materials but, in some cases, these levies can be used as protective measures to enable expansion to take place in our home industries in so far as competitive foreign goods are concerned. I think that in this connection we should be very careful.

I do not like a system of licences and I know that in conditions like the present it would be extremely difficult to work it, but much as I am anxious about external assets, if I saw the proportion remaining was being used for capital or productive purposes I would make an exception. It is quite different from goods for immediate consumption. However, there may be angles to that I do not see at the moment but I do think we have a great deal further to go. If anybody talks to me on that I will admit the cream has been skimmed off. We have included the most immediate things that can be considered but if we examine the import lists carefully, we will find that there are still a number of things that can be produced at home on reasonably economic terms and we ought to get after these.

There are members of the Government who sneered long ago when we spoke of this policy of the building up of our industries and the general policy of self-support and self-reliance. We were sneered at and we were told: "Yes, Fianna Fáil want to grow oranges and tea." Of course, we never wanted to do anything of the kind but we did say that we should try, on account of its general value to the country, building up our industries even though, with world competition and possible dumping from outside, and so on, they might not be able to be absolutely on competitive terms. I had hoped the Government would continue along that line.

Again, as far as the building of our industries is concerned, agreement has been reached at last and before we have got to the bottom, we have got common ground there that it is desirable for the wellbeing of the people of this country to build up our industries so as to be self-supporting and so that, by doing that, we will be less dependent on external assets, that we will have produced at home things we will export in order to buy other commodities. We have had agreement on that but it has not solved the problem.

The present Government, when they were in opposition, were constantly attacking us about this question of emigration. There was no use in pointing out that certain improvements were being effected and that certain progress was being made. It used to be said from this side of the House, when the Government members were over here, that there was emigration which was only equivalent to that of 1847. The curious thing about it is that when the figures came to be known and when the present Government came into office, the figures showed that emigration had increased. It was some 10,000 I think in 1947. They came into office in 1948; it crept up to 28,000, then to 34,000 and, on the last basis on which the Central Statistics Office could rely, it had gone up to 41,000, and it was during our term of office, we are told, that emigration reached its present appalling dimensions—because they are appalling.

I agree with the Taoiseach that one of the most serious problems from the point of view of this country is to try to get some method by which we can stem that flowing out of our lifeblood. The young, the active, the energetic, the enterprising are being lured away from us. The support and education of these up to that stage is on the community. By this emigration we are being left with an altogether unbalanced population, with an old age group and a young age group altogether in disproportion to the active elements of the community.

If anybody can find any way other than those we have been suggesting to try to deal with that problem, we will hail them as we would have hailed in the past anybody who had an effective solution, for instance, to Partition. Again, we can only get at that by working along the lines that seem to promise success. We tried to build up industries and to have decent homes for our country. The Minister for Agriculture and myself do not agree very often but one of the things on which I do agree with him is that the money that was spent, so long as it was within our means in providing decent homes for this country, was money well spent. If we want our people to live decent lives, if we want to have a decent society here, the basis of it is the home, the house in which the family dwells. In providing that, we are not merely providing the basis for a good social system but we are also providing one of the ways in which we can help to stem, to some extent anyway, emigration.

We tried to put some stop to the movement from the land towards the cities by improving the countryside, by providing greater amenities for our people. Rural electrification was started with that idea mainly in mind of trying to give to the people of the countryside some of the amenities which the people in the cities enjoyed.

We would like to see running water in the homes as well as electric light. We would like to see proper sanitation in the countryside and, as a social measure and as a health measure, that is one of the things to which any Government that had the welfare of the people and a decent standard of life for them in mind, would devote themselves. We had been doing it and we would have continued to do it if we were in office. I have not the figures to know to what extent it has been continued by the present Government but, in any case, I do not think any member of the Government would deny, no matter how conservative he was, that money spent in that way— again if we could afford it—would be well spent. We must, however, at every step ask ourselves what we can afford.

It is not for want of a plan that that work is not being done and we do not want a three-year plan, a five-year, a ten-year or a 20-year plan if we have the determination to use every possible opportunity to proceed along those lines. We did have that plan and we did have that drive towards it but, as I have said many times during this speech, we had to take account of our means and to take care that we should not, by overstepping ourselves in a direction like that, prevent ourselves from using such resources as we had for productive purposes which would ultimately be able to support all these enterprises. We had a plan and I believe the present Government, even though they did not write it on paper, have that plan too.

We did have a plan in regard to the settlement of the land. The Constitution, in some of its directive articles and in some of its mandatory articles, indicates what our social policy should be—the policy that is now implicitly being accepted, since the Constitution is accepted, by any Government that comes into office.

We set out to try to plant upon the land of this country as many families as could, so to speak, fit. You cannot go round as has been suggested, and cut up every piece of land into 40 acre portions and suggest that everybody should have one of these portions. Some of the larger farms give more employment, support more families than if they were divided up. Some are badly used and the Government have power in such cases, if that serves the best interests of the community, to step in and divide such farms. As I said, you cannot just go in and divide every piece of land into 40 acres or so, You have got to be systematic.

If the Land Commission and the Ministry for Lands do their duty and try to cater for the economic needs of farming generally, they can in that way try to meet the point that has been made that more people should be settled upon the land. Unfortunately time and circumstances are again working more or less against us. I was one of those who had the idea that we could get a large number of small farms—smaller than the amount that ultimately would prove to be serviceable—and do intensive work upon them as is done in other countries with teeming populations. However, the whole of the modern trend has been against that, and it is extremely difficult to combine small farming with economic farming. Again, nobody is able to devise a method by which small farming could be effectively joined up with proper economy—a competitive economy in those difficult times. We have to depend upon agriculture to buy us the things that are required in the industrial line.

We must depend upon agriculture to provide us with the exports which will enable us to provide for the necessary imports. If we are to succeed in this nation we must get out and fight economically; we must work hard economically, work intelligently economically, in industry as well as on the land. If we are going to survive in this competitive world, we must go energetically and fight in it. If we take the passive stand and shrug our shoulders and say: "Do not mind", we will get nowhere.

There is no reason for us to think that our people are not able to hold their own in the battle of life just as well as other people. I used to hear members of the present Government, particularly the Attorney-General, say we could never get anywhere. We can never have anything until we begin. We had to begin, and if we are to survive in this world of competition and conflict we must gird ourselves for that fight.

That brings me back to the point of fundamental education. I have often wondered, when people had to face, in the defence of our country, hand to hand fighting, what preparation they had made, how the young people had to be nerved, how they had to be trained and exercised so that they might be able to survive in such conflicts. That was not done by softening the young people. I am afraid that the moral fibre of our whole nation is being destroyed by wrong ideas about education.

One wants to make the child's life as happy as possible, but happiness does not consist in not doing anything. Happiness for the adult and the child is when the child is occupied in a way in which it is interested. I have seen some examples of it in some of the schools. We are weakening the moral fibre of the whole nation by the way in which young children are being taught, being dealt with rather than taught, in the schools. I am not, I hope, hard in nature. I have some experience of children. I know what they are like and I know they can acquire very bad habits by being allowed to loll and just not to have anything in the nature of real work.

The grit and the good habits necessary for the young, in order that they may be able to fight for their place in a competitive world, are not being put into them. Instead, they are being softened and dealt with in a way which is bound to have disastrous consequences in later life. Unfortunately, some of our young people do not know what is is to have control of themselves, to learn to have control of their wills and deny themselves some of the things they might want immediately. The gospel of work is essential. I have lived through a generation in which we had to work and we are still just as energetic, most of us, to go through it as the people who did not have to do it. I do not think it was then the question merely of survival of some, while others fell by the way. Reasonable competition is a thing people have got to become accustomed to at an early age; they must become accustomed to habits that will enable them to hold their own in such competition. We used to hear people talking about the interest that was taken in the results of examinations and that there were people who strived to do things. If we want this nation to survive we will have to begin at the beginning and the beginning is the school. That is only by way of a side issue, aside from my main purpose.

The main purpose now is to try to show that there was here a definite plan, a definite purpose, a thing through which when every day decisions had to be taken, you asked yourself was that decision leading in the right direction or not. We did not put it with so many acres of a target, or a target in this direction or that. Every day it was there and I hope—and I believe the members of the Government are intelligent people; whatever I say about them, they have a certain amount of intelligence anyway—that they are intelligent enough to have a target in front of them every day and that they know exactly what is to be done and should know where they are going. I hope, anyway, that during our term of office that was the case. It certainly was the case on the part of the Ministers who had to deal with the economic side of affairs and the Ministers who had to deal with the cultural side. They had this definitely before them.

We have then an answer to those who say there was no plan and that it would be good to get some common plans that would not be changed with changing Governments. These fundamental plans and purposes were there. It is true that the plans may have had to be modified from time to time as certain obstacles may have appeared on the scene and had to be overcome, or avoided and so on, but there was the fundamental purpose and the fundamental plan. We built the houses and we helped to induce the development of rural electrification and we had a definite purpose of making country life more attractive. We also had the idea, and we went a certain distance with it before the war, of trying to have parish halls established. These were intended to do what was suggested by some speaker here to-day, provide the social intercourse which is a natural prelude to marriage. We tried to do that and we hope that that idea is being continued. It would be better, of course, if the local communities themselves set out to provide these things directly.

A short while ago I was in Inchicore and we heard that when the workers learnt that a chapel was required there they provided it themselves in less than a week. That sort of co-operative effort on the part of the local people to provide local amenities will save the State from having, all the time, to look after and act in a paternalistic fashion towards every group in the community. The people can do a tremendous amount to help themselves but we are prepared to assist in that way in making conditions in the rural areas more attractive.

We have, as I have said, to make up our minds that we are going to enter into the competitive spheres and test ourselves out particularly against people of other countries. Holland had a big colonial empire at one period and it had advantages that we have not got but it, a small country, built up a great air service. We set out to build an air service too. We knew it would bring us into competition with other people but we must do it if we are to get employment for our people that they will otherwise seek elsewhere. We will have to enter into these competitive spheres. We set up a shipping industry. We said that if other small nations can maintain a proper mercantile marine, such as the Norwegians and the Greeks, why should not we do so? We felt it would be of advantage to us in times of crisis, and we started out to do that.

I had a hope many years ago—and I am afraid my hopes die very hard—to see a flourishing fishing industry in this country. When we came into office first, I had a hope that, with the sea around us, we would be able to do what the Norwegians and others had been able to do—that we would be able to go over the Seven Seas, if necessary, enter into competition and find that valuable food which human beings want and which, as the earth gets more and more populated, becomes more and more valuable. I admit that our efforts have not succeeded so far but I have not despaired yet that we will be able to get that industry and be able to hold our own against other people in it. If not, we might as well give up. If we are not able to face competition there is no hope for us, but I do believe that we will be able to do it. Our people have got to the top in other countries and you will find them in every country to which they have gone. They have got the brains and if there is the proper incentive they have the ability and the stamina to get results.

We have not got the vast territory of the United States, with its very great variety. It is about 100 times the size of this country and we have not got all of its possibilities but we have the fundamental things necessary for a decent human existence. I wish we could get our people—but I am afraid there is a bit of a dream about this, for the present—to set out to have a way of life of their own and to set their own values on the things of life. It would be following along the line which other people have gone. Some of the great nations of the world have grown up, grown prosperous and then disappeared because stronger people, hardier people who have had to face a harder initial experience have beaten them in the contest.

If we have the right fibre to get us to face the competition necessary when we do go into the international field, and if we have the wisdom in our own land to have our own way of life, we can, in this country, have as happy an existence as they have in any other country. But we will want to have a few preachers about to preach against this doctrine of Hedonism which is the only doctrine abroad with us to-day. Life does not consist merely in pleasures of the type that are common; one can have a very happy existence in modest circumstances if there is something of the intellectual in that life.

I often think of the books which we had in school; a lot of the stuff in some of them was perhaps a little bit too difficult for children and certainly they had national ideals quite different from ours. But they taught us to have regard for certain fundamental things. One of the earliest things we learned was that life was real and life was earnest and that the grave was not the goal. If we have these things in mind, we have here the essentials for a decent existence. We can provide the food, the clothing and the shelter which are the fundamental things for any existence. We have the means to provide them at home. I know how people will go over to the sort of existence they have in other countries, and that it is very hard to get them to value what they have. Unfortunately, that is human. We set little value on the gifts and goods we possess. The things we have not are the things we always desire. The hills far off appear green to us. We always—I suppose it is part of human nature—strive to get happiness in the far off. We can, if we have the right outlook on life, get happiness here at home; but we must provide the certain economic foundation for that happiness.

I believe that we in Fianna Fáil and, I hope, the members of the present Government, do seek that happiness and see that that can be done. The Taoiseach has rightly stressed this problem of emigration. Whether he brought it in as a red herring to divert us from criticism of the Government or not, does not matter to me. It is an important national question, and I am glad to think that we are at one in this House and that we do not need any artificial regimentation into coalitions or anything of that sort in order that we should agree upon it. I think I have kept the House, perhaps, too long already but I do want to assure some of those who think that we were working about in a haphazard manner when we were in office, and suggesting also that the present Government are doing the same, that only stupid people would behave in that manner, that there were objectives, that ways were thought out to secure them and that, so far as we have not secured them, these will be the targets and the aims for the immediate future.

The one permanent hope for the future lies, as has been stressed so often—indeed there is danger of the word being used simply in a parrot-like fashion and regarded as having no meaning—in increased production; and the immediate place to get that increased production and the immediate place to get results is on the land. I know you will not get it overnight, but you can very quickly step up the volume of production from our land. It is quite true to say that, with the competition of chilled meat from the Argentine the same competition made things pretty difficult back in 1931.

Progress reported, Committee to sit again.