Finance Bill, 1957—Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Before the adjournment I was dealing with the position that obtained in the years when we had to go through an economic war followed by the Great War, and the emergency that arose from it and the expense of all that. The Cumann na nGaedheal Government and the Fianna Fáil Government combined, during those 25 years, left a total dead weight debt for the services of which we had to pay £4,200,000 a year. That was the dead Party Government came into office. In three and a half years, that dead weight debt was increased, after the spree of the Party opposite, to £10,000,000 odd per annum.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,

I am sorry that a few of the children from the opposite side of the House did not come in to get a bit of education on this.

A potential Minister talks.

In three and a half years, they piled up the dead weight debt by one and a half times as much as the Cumann na nGaedheal and Fianna Fáil Governments between them piled up in 25 years. That is not the end of the story. In reply to a question I asked the Minister for Finance a fortnight ago, I was informed that the dead weight debt to-day is £15,500,000, after the second spree of the inter-Party Government. That means that, no matter what Government is in power, the unfortunate people of this country will have to find each year £15,500,000 to pay for two inter-Party sprees. The facts are there. Let us face up to them.

The facts are there all right, but those are not the facts.

When Deputies like Deputy Sweetman become Ministers for Finance in this country——

You can expect anything.

——it is no wonder that those things happen. The people showed their appreciation of it in the election in the narrow a have by which he got in.

Deputy Corry, on the Finance Bill.

That dead weight debt is something that cannot be avoided. The second large bill that we have to face is also due to the action of the inter-Party Government. I mean, the making permanent of 4,300 temporary civil servants who were recruited during the emergency. They were made permanent in 1948, as soon as the inter-Party Government came into office. At that time we were paying about £7,500,00o per annum for civil servants; to-day we are paying £17,000,000. That is something the Minister for Finance should get to work on. In view of the Minister's statement here, I was amazed when a constituent sent me by post last week a public advertisement issued by his Department if further recruitment of civil servants, and I call his particular attention to it. The increase in the interest that must be paid for borrowed money represents £11,350,000 a year over and bove the 1948 figure. That, taken with the increase in the cost of the Civil Service, amounts to an extra load of taxation of £17,000,000 a year before there is a penny for anything. Before they pay for anything else, the people must find £32,000,000 a year for interest on borrowed money and for the Civil Service.

I heard Deputy D. Costello talking glibly about temporary measures, Yes; there were many temporary measures taken. There was a temporary measure taken when some £4,000,000 of the Road Fund that should be in the pockets of the local authorities remained due. The money from the Road Fund for 1954-55 was not paid to the local authorities on 20th March, 1957. None of the money for the 1955-1956 period was paid to any local authority for that year. The Minister for Local Government had to stand up here and tell us that there was £2,600,000 due on the 1954-1955, 1955-1956 period and the local authorities, in order to continue employing the road workers, bad to borrow the money from the bank and pay interest on it.

There was £40,800 of the amount for the year 1954-1955 due to Cork County Council on 20th March, 1957. That £40,800 was forwarded by the Minister for Local Government, after he came into office on 30th March. There is still due to Cork County Council, £200,000, money that has been spent in giving employment to road workers in Cork county and money which we had to borrow from the bank and on which we are paying interest. That genius, owing that money, last year borrowed £500,000 from the Road Fund to pay God knows what.

The Deputy is getting very "het up" about life.

If the Deputy has any doubt about it, I will have no bother in referring him to the matter. It is here in column 1955 of Volume 161, No. 15 of 28th May, 1957, in a reply given by the Minister for Local Government to me, in which it is several that £500,000 was borrowed from the Road Fund for the year 1956-57.

That was borrowed out of a fund that owed money to the local authorities. That is the way these financial geniuses ran the country——

Are we to take it that the Deputy is advocating changing the monetary system of the country?

The Deputy is advocating that the Government should pay its debts, which is something that Deputy Casey would probably not understand.

Are we to take it that the Deputy is advocating a change in the monetary system?

The deputy is advocating that, when money is due by the State to a local authority, it should be paid.

Will he try to convince his own Government of that?

Deputy Casey should cease interrupting.

I will advise our own Government to pay the debts you left behind you, if I can. This is the does that remains every time we take over from the mixum-gatherum—the does of paying. I often knew of an old boy who went on a bit of a spree down the country to the detriment of the farm, but the young people would take over and he would be put into the corner where he would get a bit of money for tobacco and a few pints and he would be decent enough to keep his mouth shut and not to be raising any rows about paying his debts. But those fellows in the Opposition are howling about the means we are adopting of paying their debts, because it is their debts we are paying and that the nation has to pay.

Let us be clear about that. Then, they talk of unemployment. When was there such a condition of affairs that the Minister for Local Government, within a week of the day he took office, had to send down £1,340,000 to the local authorities to pay the banks, the building contractors and the builders' providers?

He did not send much of it to cork.

Deputy Casey should learn to conduct himself. He is only a little child in this place. he should put away his milk-bottle——

The deputy need not be sore because his question was not allowed.

Of course his question was ruled out.

(Interruptions)

Deputy Corry should be allowed to make his speech.

One could hardly call it a speech.

I thought Deputy O'Sullivan was going to be good and that he had handed over his bottle to Deputy Casey.

They did not get any milk in Cork, anyway.

I shall try to be good for a little bit until I get after this. In March, 1956, we received sanction for £200,000 from the Local Loans Fund. On 20th March, 1957, we had received only £20,000 out of that £200,000. The houses were built and people were living in them. They went to the county council for the loan that had been promised, but the county council had no money, and the contractors had no money to get and they threw out of employment the men they had working for them——

And you took them over?

The builders' providers had nothing to get and the bills were left in the bank.

But now they are all back at work again?

I would ask Deputy Casey to cease interrupting.

I am sorry.

There was no credit for anyone.

It is all rectified now?

No doubt about it.

Then all I can say is——

We had a dirty mess——

——that the Deputy does not know much about it.

I have asked Deputy Casey to cease interrupting.

I am sorry.

I am dealing with the affairs of Cork County that I know of, and I am dealing with the condition of affairs under the Coalition Government when unfortunate labourers who had applied for cottage and whose applications were lying in the Department of Local Government last August and September and had not been sanctioned up to last April, through definite policy adopted by the Minister for Local Government. That is the housing drive we hear so much talk about.

Do not tell me anything about that.

I know contractors living within a quarter of a mile of Deputy Casey who had to sack 4 men because the loans guranteed by Cork County Council could not be paid.

I know some of them living much nearer to Deputy Corry who had to sack 40 men——

(Interruptions).

What that knowledge, the least one could expect from the people who caused the mess is their silence. One would expect that they would shut their mouths while the mess is being cleaned up, just like the old man I mentioned who sat in the corner and got his grub and his few "bob" on a Sunday to go for a pint and a few ounces of tobacco. He did not kick up any rows about the way the sons were finding the means to pay his debts, but the Opposition are not like that. They want to know why this is being done and that is being done and they talk about the burdens on the unfortunate people, knowing that the sole cause of that burden was the mismanagement and foolishness and the idiotic work of the Coalition and its Cabinet.

Everything is rectified now.

These are the things we have to face, and there is no use in Deputies suggesting this, that, or the other means of doing these things. The bill is there and it must be paid, and let us lump it as well as we can. I suggest to the Minister for Finance that the first means he should take to lighten the burden on the people is to stop recruiting for the Civil Service immediately. I should like to hear from him when he is concluding what employment he has found for the staff engaged on the subsidies. Where have they gone and what are they doing? Are they still being continued in employment and if so what work are they doing? A certain number of the workers of this country produce wealth but there is a large number of unproductive workers as well. Unfortunately we have got into a position here where we are being ruled not by the Government, not by the elected representatives of the people, but by the Civil Service.

The Deputy may not discuss that question on the Finance Bill.

I am suggesting ways and means of getting out of the mess. I am suggesting that the Government would take control of the Departments and clear them out.

If would be a bad day for Cork if you reduced the Civil Service.

If some of the men with the Dublin accents whom I met in Cork recently went back to Dublin there would be plenty of room there for Corkmen. There are ample means by which we could surmount our adverse trade balance. We have now succeeded in proving that we can produce a decent baker's loaf out of all Irish wheat. The production of such a loaf would save for us the money we send abroad for foreign wheat.

The Deputy must not have been here to-day for questions.

Flour produced by Ranks Limited, a monopoly.

Deputy Casey was a supporter of the Government who, within the past four months, imported 40,000 tons of wheat at a cost of £1,300,000. They left the bill after them for the boys to pay and left the wheat after them as surplus.

If the Deputy ceased putting down foolish questions——

I hope Deputy Casey will make a speech some time. I would prefer if he made a speech in full and not in bits and scraps.

I hope it will be better than the Deputy's speech.

Deputy Casey must cease interrupting and allow Deputy Corry to make his statement.

Let us get down to bedrock. We have a big leeway to make up. I consider it my duty to point out ways and means by which this leeway can be made up, purely within the terms of this Bill. There are certain items of expenditure over which we have no control. We have to find £15,500,000 every year to pay the interest and sinking fund on borrowings of the last Government. We could put a stop to Civil Service recruiting. The Minister said we could save £250,000 there. I would not sack anyone. I would let them go at the age of 65 and gradually get down to the 1948 level when the Coalition Government appointed 4,300 permanent civil servants in one day. There is that number of unwanted men and women in the Civil Service to-day. That is a burden for which the country cannot afford to pay.

If the Deputy ceased putting down stupid questions each week we could dispense with at least 100 civil servants.

Perhaps the Deputy does not like the questions. As I have said, each year we have to find £15,530,000 in interest and sinking fund on moneys borrowed by the Coalition Governments. That figure stood at £4,000,000 in 1948. The two sprees of the Coalition Governments made up the balance. I have no intention of holding the House. I rose to give these few facts, facts which have already been given in reply to questions asked in the House. Deputy Sweetman borrowed £500,000 from the Road Fund. Why did he do that? What did he do with the money?

The Deputy has already referred to that.

The former Minister for Local Government left a debt of £6,000,000 in this Department. There would have been only £5,500,000 if Deputy Sweetman had left that £500,000 in the Road Fund. I asked the Minister for Finance when I was speaking on the Budget, and I would like to know if he has found out since, whether the 100,000 tons of wheat that was bought from the Canadian Government last October on three months "tick", by those gentlemen over there, has yet been paid.

It was cheaper than the Argentine wheat you bought.

On a point of order, would you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, for the benefit of subsequent speakers indicate the difference between this speech that is being allowed and those that were ruled out for excessive repetition?

No Deputies' speeches were ruled out, unless they were out of order.

Are you ruling Deputy Corry in order?

Deputy Corry is comparing the financial policy of the last Government with that of the present Government.

I assume, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, we will all be permitted to do the same?

As long as the Deputy is in order, he will be permitted to continue.

I spoke about Canadian wheat——

Is it in order to discuss in relation to this Bill such matters as the Road Fund, the price of wheat and the purchase of wheat?

The Chair cannot give ruling on these questions until it hears the Deputies. If Deputies are in order, they will be allowed to continue. If they are not in order, it will be the duty of the Chair to stop them.

Is that an indication——

The Chair is not going to be cross-examined by Deputy O'Higgins.

May I call the attention of the Chair to the fact that the matters to which I have referred have been discussed by Deputy Corry and I put it as a point of order to the Chair that Deputy Corry is entirely out of order?

The Chair has ruled that Deputy Corry is in order.

We are glad to get it down in black and white.

That is what I wanted to hear.

It is just what we wanted.

I asked the Minister this question a fortnight ago. I want to know now whether that money that was due to the Canadian Government for the wheat purchased on "tick" by Deputy Sweetman's Party when they were in office has been paid, or has it to be added to the bill?

Will every other Deputy be allowed the same measure of repetition? This is at least the fourth time Deputy Corry has mentioned that.

I have made no repetition. I had to continue from the point at which I was interrupted. I also want to know from the Minister whether or not the £2,000,000 due to the Indian Bank for the tea bought last October has yet been paid?

Is it the Deputy's intention to discuss the price?

These £5,500,00 were piled up and there are other millions. if you will only wait to hear of them. The third question I would like to ask the Minister is in relation to the advance got from Messrs. Arthur Guinness. What was the amount of that? Those are three pertinent questions to which I want definite answers. Those are the three items, the money borrowed from the Road Fund, the money for the Indian tea and the money got from Messrs. Arthur Guinness and Son.

It is unfortunate the Deputy is not Minister for Finance himself.

Will the Deputy try to conduct himself.

I merely say it is unfortunate that the Deputy is not Minister for Finance.

He should have been made Minister for Agriculture.

Those are the items I want definite answers to. I did not come in this evening to delay the House; I did not even intend speaking until I heard all those gentlemen over there who are now kicking up with the people who had to come in here to pay their debts.

Words of wisdom.

I do not know if the Minister for Finance and the Fianna Fáil Party are in agreement with the Deputy who is now leaving the House and who has never been know to sit in this House for ten minutes after he has made a speech?

On a point of order, may I direct the attention of the Chair to the fact that Deputy Corry has addressed a remark to this House from behind the barrier? Will the Chair take the appropriate steps in relation to that?

It is a very minor point.

The matter will be considered by the Chair.

Will we be informed of the result?

You should have manners. You should not cross-examine the Chair.

Is the Minister talking about manners after his recent performance?

I said that you should not cross-examine the Chair.

Say what you like but do not try to teach me manners. It is a corner-boy remark.

The Deputy will withdraw that remark.

I withdraw it, if directed, but I was allowed by the Ceann Comhairle to use it earlier to-day.

The Deputy knows more about corner boys than I know.

I accept your ruling, Sir, and withdraw it.

Is the Minister's remarks withdrawn? If Deputy Sweetman's remark must be withdrawn surely the Minister's must also be withdrawn?

I did not hear the Minister.

It will appear in the Official Report.

I said he knew more about cornor boys than I do. Is there anything wrong with that?

I think the word "corner boy" should not be used in the House.

If you say it should not, I will not use it, but that applies to all Deputies, I presume.

In opening my remarks, I was referring to the fact that Deputy Corry made statements here in the course of his contribution that have not, to my knowledge, ever been supported by any Minister in the Government or any member of the Fianna Fáil Party. He comes into this House to criticise the capital development programme of the previous Government and to refer to the debt which the country now has to bear in consequence of the investment of these moneys. I should like to know from the Minister for Finance whether or not he considers it important to invest the money that was invested in land reclamation housing development rural electrification and other projects? That investment was initiated by the predecessors of the present Government and, during the previous period in which the work of the inter-Party Government was interrupted for a short time, the Fianna Fáil Party did not drastically curtail the schemes that were operated under the capital developments programme of the first inter-Party Government.

It is true that the land reclamation scheme or the Dillon scheme—call it what you will—was to some extent curtailed, but not drastically. There were other schemes that were not pushed ahead with the same virity with which their originators introduced them and which were later brought to complete fruition.

May I ask Deputy Corry or any other rural Deputy whether he objects to the expenditure of the millions that went into rural electrification or whether he thinks it proper or improper that this generation should be called upon to pay for that development? What is or was it not good development? Would they have preferred if rural electrification, the erection of sanatoria throughout the country or telephone development had to wait until current revenue could do it? Was that ever the policy o the Party opposite? Is it its policy? If it is not, how can they sit there silently, permit Deputy Corry to perform as he did and quote time and again that these moneys were lavishly spent and wasted without ever going into the details of how the moneys were spent? He never pointed to the hundreds of lives saved because of the capital investment in the erection of sanatoria in this country.

How can Deputies stand over that kind of conduct by one of their own colleagues when they k ow that he is completely wrong and when they know and appreciate the benefits that flowed from the investment of moneys over the past ten years in this country?

The sanatoria moneys come mostly from the Hospital Trust FUnds.

No, not most of it. In fact, the schemes to which the Deputy refers were also at one time described by his Party as a white elephant. The Deputy will recall that.

I do not remember that.

Then Deputy Corry lashes out at Marshall Aid. It is true, of course, that £26,000,000 of Marshall Aid was left in the coffers by the first inter-Party Government. That money came in quite useful for the present Taoiseach when he spent it from July, 1951, to January, 1952. Can any Deputy deny that? If it was wrong to have accepted Marshall Aid why was it that the £26,000,000 was not returned whence it came? The Government cannot have it both ways.

Deputies on the opposite side, including Deputies Burke and MacCarthy, spoke of the bills that have to be paid. They said that the impositions in the Budget had been caused because of the misdeeds and neglect of the previous Government. I would ask Deputies MacCarthy and Burke, what Government preceded the Government which was in office in 1947? How long before was there a Government other that the Fianna Fáil Government and why was there a need for a Supplementary Budget in that year amounting to £7,500,000? Who had they to blame in those days? Was it not the constant policy of those opposite to increase taxation on the people and is not this Finance Bill putting still another load on the taxpayers of this country?

The Taoiseach points out that we have reached the point of diminishing returns and his regret is that he cannot impose additional taxes because, if he does so, the returns will be reduced since we have reached the point where if we put on more taxation we will not get the revenue estimated.

When the known and unknown bills are met.

The Government in the Budget and now in the Finance Bill seek legislative authority for the principles in the Budget. At this stage, the House is in a much better position to assess the consequences of the Budget than it was a few months ago when it discussed the Budget proper because by now very many people will have brought to the attention of Deputies on the opposite side of the House how seriously every family and home have been affected by this Budget.

The House is now being asked to give legislative authority to the proposals to increase taxation and to wipe out the food subsidy. It is only a few months since the people were faced with a very confident proclamation. "Let us get cracking," it said. There were no obstacles in the way. The only thing needed was to vote them into power, give them the authority and allow them to "get cracking," The Government "got cracking." and what have they done? If they had indicated to the electorate it was their intention to crack down as they are, would any Deputy opposite think that the electors would give him authority to sit on that side of the House? How many Deputies are sitting there because of the criticism they levelled at the inability of the last Government to achieve wonders and because they led so many people to believe that all that was necessary for the country to experience wonderful results was a change from one side of the House to the other?

In the result, the Minister for Finance attempted to put it across that he was faced with no other alternative than to wipe out the food subsidies since he had passed the point of no return in relation to taxation, as the Taoiseach indicated. What effects are already beginning to flow from his action in wiping out the remainder of the food subsidies? The only authority the Government Party had to do it was that the country was forewarned and the electorate ignored the warning. Consequently, there are many thousands of people who are heart searching because of the fact that they did not heed the warning which, if they had taken it to heart, would have brought about far different results.

We are now experiencing the consequences of the enactment of these budgetary considerations. We find an attempt being made—and I stress the word "attempt"—to compensate the poorer and weaker sections of the community for the impact upon them of the increase in the cost of living—a compensation which is pitiably and completely inadequate. There was no provision whatever for those unfortunate people still in our community who have got to exist on home assistance. I know of specific instances where people are not on the point of desperation in consequence of the charges they have to meet, not for television sets, not for betting on the tote, but to purchase bread, butter, sugar and tea.

They are facing difficulties they never envisaged or never expected they would have to encounter a few brief months ago but it does not stop there. How many people are faced with increased problems? How many escaped the impact of the Budget? The better classes escaped it. It is very clear that people who enjoy meat three times a day are not concerned about the price of butter or bread but those in the middle income group, those who work in the open and those engaged in physical labour realise it.

What effect will it have on the rates? Already the despised public officials, about whom Deputy Corry speaks so disparagingly, have been working to ascertain what the impact will be on the cost of running the very many public institutions in the country arising out of increases consequent upon the withdrawal of the food subsidies. I can recall in respect of one institution of which I was a governor the impact of the partial withdrawal of the food subsidies way back in 1952. It was serious but it is as nothing to the bill the South Charitable Infirmary in Cork will have to bear in consequence of the complete withdrawal of the food subsidies. It is not a very big institution. What will be the effect upon mental hospitals and every hospital throughout the country? How can the Minister contend that he was made a complete saving as a result of the withdrawal of the food subsidies when these charges must be borne by the local authorities and to some extent by the Exchequer?

It was pointed out by other Deputies that the best kept political secret of modern times is the policy of the Fianna Fáil Party and Government. It is not enough, as week follows week and month follows month, to say that the Government are newly in office that there is time enough and that they will indicate in the dim and distant future what their policy is in relation to problems affecting the country. When they ask this House and this country for such a for midable bill this year, we expect and the country expects, the Leader of the Government, An Tánaiste or the Minister for Finance to indicate to the House and, through the House, to the country what proposals the Government have to deal with the problems which they say so seriously affect our community.

What do we see consequent on the Government's accession to office in relation to some indication of their assessment of the situation and the probable changes that would emanate? We see £1,750,000 of levies remitted, an easement in hire purchase—the roof is off. It is again possible for people to get what may not be absolute necessities on a very accommodating hire purchase system operated, in the vast majority of cases, by companies and firms based outside this country.

Does the Minister or the Government think that in difficult times for the securing of capital it was wise to ease the hire purchase regulations? I shall give a specific instance. I discussed the problem with a trader in a small town last August. I thought he would feel extremely sore with the inter-Party Government for the effect which the tightening-up of hire purchase facilities would have on his business. He was engaged in the retail sale of electrical equipment, motor cycles, and so on, in a rural town. For from being critical, I found he felt that the Government's action was long overdue and that the hire purchase restrictions were absolutely necessary. He spoke of the difficulties which he experienced. He told me of men with insufficient means who used to come to his shop and, by putting down a deposit fo £5, walk out with a motor cycle. The unfortunate shop owner used to have the job of tracing many of these persons all over the country in order to recover the remaining instalments. His lot has not been eased because the roof is off again and there is n restriction left on hire purchase.

Last year the Government and the country appreciated the vital necessity of speeding up the savings campaign and of bringing home to every person the necessity for saving in view of the capital problems with which we had to contend. In face of the disequilibrium of our payments abroad at that time, there was strong need for the pursuance of a very prudent policy in relation to savings. The organisation set up by the last Government did much good work and no doubt it is an asset to the country at the present time. It inspired many wage earners to set aside a portion of their earnings in savings.

Speaking on the Budget, the Taoiseach, in passing, said he did not think there were very great problems in relation to small savings as there was a good response on that score. His concern was more in relation to the inadequacy of the larger sums invested in the various loans floated by the Government in recent years. In the circumstances, I wonder if it was prudent to ease up in any way on the active programme of propaganda, speech-making and appeals and of availing of every opportunity to bring home to our people the vital necessity of maintaining our capital programme by the investment of our money in this country?

When the levies were imposed last July, the country was faced with a problem. That was why the then Government introduced them. The only criticism at that time from the Party who are now in Government but who were then in Opposition was that the action taken by the inter-Party Government was inadequate. Time has proved the adequacy of that action. There are many people who think it would have been wiser for this Government to retain the levies. There was no indication that any Gvernment would not alone impose additional taxation in a Budget but would wipe out the existing food subsidies because of a situation which they claimed existed. If the situation were as serious as all that, why did this Government not retain the levies and avail of the £1,7500,000 which they gave away to assemblers and which they gave away for the purchase of goods which were not necessities—radios, gramophones, television sets, high-powered cars, and so on?

Levies may have been imposed on certain items in respect of which a case could be made for their prudent removal or for an easement. There may be a case for the removal of a levy and we may see that when the levy is removed there is absolutely no reduction to the consumer who buys the item in question. It would be interesting to investigate that matter and to discover who avails of the benefit when the levy is remitted. Who gains from it? The consumer, whom the removal of the levy was ostensibly intended to benefit, does not gain.

I am extremely concerned with the chaos now resulting in the dairying industry in consequence of the remarkable reduction in the consumption of butter by reason of the withdrawal of the subsidy. Any creamery ociety in the South will tell the Minister or any interested person that the reduction is grater than anything that was estimated. I am sure many persons in the industry feared that this would occur at some time or other and estimated what the impact would be on sales but they never at any time anticipated that they would be as adversely affected as they have been by the remarkable reduction in butter consumption in recent weeks. Creamery butter is selling in Dublin at a much lower price than down the country. That creamery butter was not made in the Republic of Ireland. It is being slipped over the Border by the ton every night. It is displacing Munster butter. Every lb. of butter of displaced Munster butter will have to be exported and will carry a subsidy of 1/3½, to pay the British to eat the butter which we will not give to our own people. That has been well described by Deputy Sweetman as the economics of a madhouse.

The Government are building up a new problem for themselves. Perhpas I should not use the expressing "new problem", as the problem was there already—the problem of the exportable surplus of butter. However, that prpblem was intensely aggravated when many homes must now watch carefully the amount of butter which is put on a child's cut of bread. Margarine will have to be brought into the house perhaps for the first time in memory. Even in rural villages, shops are now stocking margarine and displacing the products of our Munster dairying industry. That is one adverse result from the withdrawal of the food subsidies. Where, either in the Finance Bill or in the Budget, is there provision for the subsidisation of butter for export? How much will it cost the Exchequer this year to pay the foreigner to eat the butter which we would not give to our own people?

Before I pass from reference to the capital development programme, I want to refer to Deputy Corry. He spoke in his customary fashion, in sarcastic and cynical terms of the fact that one private concern in this country saw fit to have enough faith in the future of the country to advance £500,000 and invest it in a concern that would reduce our imports and give employment. If they desired to be associated with this concern, all credit to them. Is it not a pity we had not more firms of their calibre prepared to do as much? If we had, perhaps the problems facing the country to-day would be far fewer. It was a discreditable performance on the part of Deputy Corry to cast aspersions on the magnificent achievement of getting such a firm to advance such a colossal amount of money and to put it to such effective use.

I cannot agree with Deputy MacCathy that the Government now in office finds itself hurriedly embarking on a programme. That Government had two and a half years in opposition. No doubt they were vigilant in opposition——

By way of personal explanation, sir, I never made any statement of the kind. What I said was that that was all the time we had to consider what our debts were and how we were going to pay them.

That is the point with which I was dealing. I do not think there is any disparity between what Deputy MacCarthy alleges he said——

What I said; not what I alleged.

Perhaps when the Deputy reads the report he will be refreshed. There is no doubt that the Deputy, when speaking, tried to convey that the Government must to some extent be excused for not doing more by the fact that it was not in office and had hurriedly to implement a certain policy——

That is misrepresentation again.

Shall we put it that the Deputy misconveyed what he intended to say?

Deputy MacCarthy shed tears, which I fear were crocodile tears, about the monopolistic firms that were buying up small bakeries in Cork. Deputy MacCarthy is fully aware that he voted for a Budget which gave a] gratuity of £230,000 to the very monopolies to which he refers. He is aware that the case made for the payment of that £230,000 to the master bakers was that they had incurred certain expenses in relation to increased wages awarded to the bakers in their employment.

That is misrepresentation again.

The last Government were adamant in rejecting the recommendation that these master bakers were entitled to these concessions. It would be interesting for Deputy MacCarthy to inquire whether the firms that were given £230,000 were the firms that actually paid the increased wages and to inquire how much of the retrospective compensation is being paid, has been paid or will be paid to the poor, unfortunate, small firms that were wiped out and about which Deputy MacCarthy expressed so much concern. Perhaps he would find to his amazement that the combine that bought out these small bakeries and was later compensated for the impact of increased wages on the firms they put out of existence——

The firms I referred to were the biggest firms in Cork. They were not the small ones; they are no longer there.

Deputy MacCarthy was rather firm in his conviction that much of the improvement in the balance of payments has been secured at the expense of running down essential stocks. If that is true, it is an astonishing thing that the Minister to whom he gives allegiance took the levies off £1,200 cars, radiograms and television sets, and allowed the levies remain on goods in the category to which Deputy MacCarthy referred. Surely the Government which he supports could discriminate? If what Deputy MacCarthy alleges is correct, surely it could have been rectified before the Government gave back £1,750,000 to the motor assembly people, the radio manufacturers and the radiogram dealers—

Discuss that with the workers.

I have discussed it with the workers and I would advise the Deputy to be a little timorous before he approaches many workers in this country or in his constituency at the moment. Of course, there is no doubt that the industry to which Deputy MacCarthy, Deputy Booth and many other Deputies referred—the motor industry—has been hit very hard in this Budget. It has been quoted in the daily Press, and has not been controvereted, that there has been a reduction in motoring in consequence of the additional impost of 6d. per gallon on petrol.

How then could anybody sit behind the present Government and shed tears over the impact of the levies on £1,200 motor cars when they trotted into the Lobby and voted for an additional 6d. a gallon on petrol, which hits every section of the community, people who never had or never will have a car? When distribution and delivery costs are afected so seriously, not alone by the 6d. a gallon on petrol but by the earlier action of the Minister's colleague in allowing insurance rates to rise as they did, there is no doubt that in time the pocket of the ordinary consumer will be affected.

I think hat exhausts the remarks I have to pass in relation to this Bill. I shall conclude by again asserting that, as day follows day and as week follows week, since this Government introduced the measures in this Budget, which the House is now called upon to confirm, the people of the country have grown daily more conscious of the impact on their lives of the retrogression in business, the general dissatisfaction and, above all, the general discontent caused by the introduction of the harsh measures in this Budget.

Despite the fact that, when in opposition, Deputy Lemass put it on record that an Opposition were not obliged to tell the Government what they would do if in Government—he said it was soley the duty of the Opposition to flay the Government in all its policies and that they were not obliged to put forward alternative proposals—alternative proposals were put forward from this side by Deputy Costello, the former Taoiseach, and by several who followed him, advancing one means by which the Minister could have balanced his Budget. That was in relation to the implementation of the levies to their fullest extent and by some other measures.

The Minister for Finance replied to that lengthy Budget debate and completely ignored most of the observations made in the course of it. I am a member of the House for many years and during that period no Minister sitting on that side ever ignored the criticisms offered of his Estimate or of his Budget in the manner in which the present Minister has done. Even his predecessor, now the Minister for Health, would at leas have given us an histrionic performance to make up for any lack of content in the remarks made. On this occasion, Deputy Dr. Ryan, in the course of his speech did not, I am afraid, either in the manner in which it was delivered or in its content, indicate to the House or the country that the circumstances were so serious or that such drastic steps had to be taken that everybody in the country, except those people looked after so well in the Budget, would have to tighten their belts. Then, to add insult to injury, we had Deputy Corry and others saying this was merely the first instalment. If this is the first instalment, may God help the country when the people get the remaining chapters.

One thing which strikes me about any discussion of this Budget is the immense and terrible gloom which descends on the Deputies opposite. We had it already in the Budget debate and again here to-night in this debate. At least half the Deputies opposite know in their hearts that if they had been frank with the electorate —they personally or their leaders —they would not be sitting in this House to-night, as the country would have rejected any Party which told them frankly that they would find it necessary to impose these terrible restrictions.

Never once during the General Election campaign was there any intimation to the country that, if Fianna Fáil were returned to power, £9,000,000 would be taken out of the pockets of the working classes and every man and woman who voted for a Fianna Fáil candidate would pay tribute for the next five years. I am quite certain in my heart that, but for the fact that in the policy which they put before the country they never once indicated that the subsidies would be withdrawn if they were returned to power, the Fianna Fáil Party would not be sitting over there in government.

I am particularly interested in a matter to which Deputy MacCarthy and Deputy O'Sullivan referred. In the Budget debate I asked the Minister to indicate to the House and to the country—and in particular to the constituency in which I am interested, as also is Deputy MacCarthy—the whereabouts of the £230,000, roughly £250,000, which the Minister proposes to pay out on the basis of the Flour and Bread Commission recommendations. There are certain doubts in the minds of every Irish man and woman as to the whereabouts of that £250,000. It is proposed in this Finance Bill to pay out to the bakers £250,000 of the taxpayers' money, on he basis that certain increases in wages were allowed in the past which must now be recouped to the bakers.

In the constituency which I represent Cork City—I think Deputy MacCarthy will be at one with me on this—certain bakeries have since been assimilated into a large combine. During the Budget debate I asked the Minister to whom the £230,000 was being paid out—was it being paid to the small bakeries who had to pay those increases, or to the large combines who had since assimilated those small bakeries? In other words, were the taxpayers paying out to large combines money, which those combines had not to pay? There has been no satisfactory answer so far. I trust and hope that on this Bill, before the Minister asks us to vote in favour of it, some satisfactory explanation will be forthcoming on that point.

I hope the Minister will assure the House that those smaller bajkeries which have been assimilated did not just pay not money which now will be collected by the larger combines which have since assimilated them. I am surprised and grieved that some indicaion has not been given already about this. If the Minister remains silent on it now, I and other Deputies, including Deputy MacCarthy, and the country in general, can only presume that that money is being paid out to sources which the Minister is not anxious to divulge. At a time like this, when the pocket of every wage earner is being plundered by the Minister and the Party he represents, £250,000 is a fair amount of money. I implore the Minister, in his own interests and certainly in the interests of good government, to divulge where that money is going. What is its destination? It is important that he would answer that.

In voting for this Finance Bill. Deputies opposite are not just voting for the sums which patently appear on the face of the Bill. They are voting for an increase of the rates in every local areas in which they reside, since it is inevitable that if the prices of bread and butter go up, the cost of administration will do likewise. In the South Charitable Infirmary of Cork, to which committee of management I belong, like Deputy O'Sullivan, the costs will go up also. Again, in addition to paying higher prices for tea and bread consumed in such institutions, it is likely there will be demands for increased wages.

I would like to warn the Minister—I do not hold him personally responsible for it—that I have been told, and I believe, that this Budget is to be used by subversive elements to stir up a form of strife which we have not seen for many years. It will be found, throughout the next few months, in many constitunecies, that a Party describing itself as the "Unemployed Party" will importune the public, pointing out the failure of the present type of Government and in some way trying to encourage strife.

I believe, and have reason to believe, that that agitation is coming not from this country, but is being fomented not by real Irishmen but by so-called Irishmen sent back from England. I know personally of at least two men who came back to this country, who have been residing here for the last three months, without any employment, who have not signed on at the Labour Exchange and who are here purely to foment strife, on the basis that intolerable burdens are being placed on the unemployed and working classes.

I merely mention that to the Minister so that he and this House and the country may be made aware of the fact that there is at the moment in process of evolution a new Communist assault upon this country. I have no doubt about it myself and those who have heard the same stories as I have, have no doubt about it, that there is in this country a conspiracy to point the finger of scorn at all forms of native Government.

I want to warn the country that that is inspired not purely from across the Channel, from the age—old enemy, but is being inspired by elements which are even further removed from us. I wish the Minister well in combating those elements. Finally, I would refer again to the fact that, in imposing this intolerable burden brought about by the taking away of the subsidies on bread and butter, the Minister has opened the gate to criticism of that nature.

A number of speakers already have referred to the problem in relation to the food subsidies. It is only natural that we in the Labour Party should be primarily concerned with the difficulties imposed on the workers, owing to increases in the prices of necessary foodstuffs because of the removal o the subsidies. As well as affecting the homes of the workers, increased prices of foodstuffs will also affect every local authority hospital and every voluntary hospital in the country. The Minister and the Government may tell us that, by the abolition o the food subsidies, so much money is being saved, which, in turn, may help to keep down taxation; but it must be equally true to say that, with increased costs for food in every hospital in the Twenty-Six Counties, an added burden will be imposed on the people who are qualified as ratepayers.

The problem confronting the workers at the present time is an enormous one, owing to this added burden. The Minister may say that, if we consider the overall position, any recompense which the workers may get through increased wages would meet the difficult situation. It is my view that the removal of the subsidies has completely upset the present balance, has destryed the hope of maintaining prices at a fairly normal level and of holding the wage structure on an even basis.

There is no need to speak for long on this Bill because we have already expressed our views on it. Nevertheless, it is important that we should draw attention to a few matters. Deputy Corry excelled himself to-night in his usual practice of drawing a red herring across the trail.

I know that much of what he said was not correct and everyone in the House knows it. It makes no difference because if Deputy Corry can appear as a warrior in defence of the Minister and his policy, then he is welcomed by his own Party and comes to the forefront to defend them in their houre of need. Indeed, if I wished to embark on a discussion of some of his statements, I would waste a long time and it would be boring to many members here.

Suffice it to say that, while keeping within the ambit of the Bill before us, I wish to refute something which he said about the Cork Country Council. The problems mentioned by him existed many months back and there was no difference in any of them. The only difference is that while members including Deputies Corry and MacCarthy, were vocal for many months in regard to some of these problems in relation to the holding up of housing, and so on now seem to have as their fall back when the same line of approach is being adopted by a different Government, the excuse: "It is not our fault; it is the fault of the Government before us."

In 1947 when the Fianna Fáil Government found it suitable to adopt very drastic measures, through the introduction of a Supplementary Budget, they could not blame a Government that had been in office before them, because we all know they had been in office for many years. It is ironical to have to admit that the policy introduced in the late autumn of 1947 is identical with the policy reintroduced in 1952 and again within the past few months, except for the fact that the longer it goes on, the more drastic it seems to be.

It would be much more advantageous for us if we could try to get to the root of the problem confronting us. I am not worried about what may be said about the last few months or about circulars issued during election time, quoting or misquoting statements of' opponents in the House last December. Deputy MacCarthy and others may recall some of that literature. Let them now realise that whatever may have been gained by such an approach, the same problems confront them now as those which confronted the previous Government. What strikes me most forcibly is that while that Government had decided on somewhat stringent efforts to relieve the financial problems which existed at the time, the difference between that Government and the present Government is that this Government insists on one policy and one only. That policy is a complete cut-back, financially.

I am sure that whatever side of the House we may belong to each and every one of us is faced, from time to time, with the problems of unemployment and emigration and I believe that every member of the House is anxious to see these twin problems solved. Yet the line of approach in this Budget, the first Budget of the present Government, seems to me to be one of a cut-back on financial policy. The present Minister and the present Administration are not correct when they tell us that they have a key to solve the existing problems.

I am not worrying about the £100,000,000 that Deputy Lemass spoke so freely about some months ago. I am not worrying when they tell us that they hope to solve unemployment and emigration within a certain period. So long as they continue the present financial policy, a policy somewhat akin to that in operation in a country not far removed from here, but in which conditions are completely different and in which over-employment rather than lack of employment seems to be the difficulty, surely the Minister and his Government must admit that we are moving in the wrong direction in our efforts to find a solution for these two problems.

Deputy Corry spoke about lack of finances. Admittedly, heavy interest has to be paid for money secured by way of loan for the benefit of the people as a whole. It is the collective responsibility of the Government to implement a progressive policy. In the years from 1932 onwards, Fianna Fáil introduced measures which gave certain benefits to the people in rural Ireland. They did that in the years when the Labour Party supported them. Knowing now how often they themselves have got into financial difficulties, they must appreciate that the one solution is to bring us back to a sense of reality as to the direction in which we are going in order to secure the financial assistance which seems to be the only hope for the economic salvation of the country.

We all remember the Act passed setting up the Central Bank. The Central Bank is no use, unless it has the proper powers. If its powers are limited, its activities are equally limited. I remember Deputy Lemass in Opposition stating that, in his opinion, the powers of the Central Bank were either limited or else they were not being utilised to the fullest possible extent. If that is so, and apparently he believes it is so, the only advantage will lie in the Government striking out on a bolder policy, a policy which will relieve the overall deadweight of unemployment and emigration.

I believe, as do my colleagues in the Labour Party, that the present aproach is not the right approach. We deplore the fact that there is such a deadweight of national debt. Considerable sums of money are] invested outside this country. In order to secure even a modest loan, the Government has to offer the most attracative and most advantageous terms to induce or own people to invest their money at home. We are not living in a fool's paradise, we know that there are people who prefer to invest their money outside the country because the options look a better proposition and because they have their own personal welfare at heart rather than the welfare of the country as a whole.

The members of the present Government have had many years of experience and they should make a bold attempt now to strike out along the one road which will lead to national recovery, rather than cut down on food subsidies, giving small benefits to some sections in the hope that these small benefits will mean increased employment. Last December—some people misquoted me subsequently when it suited them—I asked the then Government, on behalf of the Labour Party, to announce their policy. Some Deputies will remember that. Some Deputies went so far as to say that we wanted to join with Fianna Fáil. We are a small Party.

And it is getting smaller.

We are a small Party, but we believe in progressive Government for the country. People may be genuine in the promises they make during election campaigns. It is patently obvious now that the one hope for this country is not a continuation of the old policy. As I said last December, the last Government failed in a certain degree because they were not prepared to strike out and implement a more forward policy in relation to our major problems. If the present Government continue on a policy of cutting back, we shall find, at the end of their term of office, exactly the same problems confronting the people, the same pockets of unemployment all over the country and the same high volume of emigration from north, south, east and west.

If that proves to be the case, then we shall have to admit that democratic Government offers no solution. It is not alone essential to-day to speak of a new look; it is even more essential to dress in new attire and to strike out in a different direction in, so far as financial policy is concerned. No Government can do great deal in a week, in a month or even in a year. There is no excuse whatever for a Government when that Government and its responsible Ministers know that a certain policy has proved a dismal failure in the past and yet persist in offering that same policy to the people.

We are still discussing the Budget and many of u have had to sit here and listen to the people who have just left office asking a number of questions. One of the things that seem to annoy the Opposition is that we did not announce our programme and our policy during the election campaign. What exactly should we have done? Should we have gone about, as the Coalition Parties did some five or six years ago, telling the people that every commodity that goes on the table woud be cheaper, that there would be better times for everybody and more money in everybody's pocket? But, prior to the last election, we had the experience of these people swallowing their own words and talking about the difficult times that lay ahead and the difficult problems that faced the Government. It was an entirely different tune from the one we used to hear these Parties sing during previous election campaigns.

To-day, when we are in office and faced with trying to balance a Budget that was left unbalanced by the outgoing Minister, we have to sit here and listen to the ex-Minister and the ex-Taoiseach who told us in the past 12 months that the people must work harder and there must be a greater output from industry; we must take off our costs and put our shoulders to the wheel in order to try again to build up prosperity in this country, prosperity which was taken away by whom?

By Fianna Fáil.

By those people across there who represent the Opposition. Why the Deputies who have made speeches from that side of the House did not go and read a very small document I have in my hand I do not know. It is the Report of the Capital Investment Advisory Committee. That committee was established by the previous Minister for Finance. That committee met for the first time on the 30th November, 1956. The Minister attended the first meeting, we are told, and stated that "The immediate problem was an expected deficit in the capital Budget of 1957-58. He indicated that it would be desirable if the committee were in a position to furnish a report on which decisions could be taken by the Government in relation to the framing of the Budget."

Did the former Minister go to the trouble and expense of setting up this committee for fun or did he want to get something valuable from them, something that he would take into consideration when he would be framing his Budget, as he hoped to be framing the Budget we had to bring in a shot time afterwards? That committee went into this matter in detail and we have their recommendations. I am quite satisfied that, had the Coalition Parties been returned to power and had Deputy Sweetman again been Minister for Fiance, not merely would we have the subsidies on bread and flour removed, not merely would wee have full effect given to the other recommendations that were made by this committee, but that the rebate on agricultural land would have been removed as was recommended. I am also saisfied that the Land Commission expenditure would have been cut down as was also recommended by that committee.

It is inconceivable that the members of Fine Gael, having considered all aspects of the financial position—because they are the people who dictated to the rest of the Coalition Parties— having examined this question in detail, seet up a committee to inquire into this problem just for the purpose of having a report and do nothing more about it. I believe that the Minister for Finance and at least the other front benchers in Fine Gael know very well that had they been given the chance of another term in office we would not merely have had the removal of those subsidies but the implementation of the other recommendations also. We would need to have, because the position was deplorable. That report tells us the position in relation to our external assets and gives a number of details in relation to matters that must be looked into by the Government. The situation in regard to the vast majority of these matters has been brought about by the previous Government not facing up to their responsibilities.

One of the most disastrous results of the Government's policy came from their handling of the unemployment situation. Day after day the numbers on the labour exchanges grew with no notice being taken of it. Every sensible man in the country realises that the most essential thing in any country in the world to-day is full-time employment in so far as it can be made available.

The Deputy may not discuss the question of unemployment on the Finance Bill.

I am merely saying it is the duty of the Government—and this relates to the Finance Bill—to try to give full employment to every man and woman willing and able to work. I do not think I am overstepping the mark in saying that. It is one of the things the Coalition Parties completely neglected, and Labour sat blindly and idly behind while the other Parties were doing that. If we do not do something quickly to provide employment there is no hope of a speedy recovery or of any recovery. It is most essential, wherever you find money, to find it and put people into employment. That is part of the effort we are making.

The position we have found is that there was no money available for housing, that there are thousands and thousands gone to other countries looking for jobs. We found the Road fund had been plundered, that county councils had a big problem in relation to road works. To quote an example from my own county, not merely did the Government owe a large sum for housing to Galway Country Council, of which I have the honour to be a member, but the Government owed us by way of grants a sum of over £300,000 for which we had to pay 6 per cent. to the banks. I am sure that we in the Galway Country Council never visualised that when we were striking our estimate two years ago.

All these debts were coming down on top of us and creating a bigger responsibility every day for the local authorities all over the country. We saw the relief schemes cut down considerably last year and they were cut down further in the Estimates this year. These relief schemes helped very much in my constituency and I am glad the Minister saw his way to give us an additional £250,000 this year for these schemes. In regard to the much talked about Corrib scheme, it is gratifying that we were able to get an additional £100,000 to go ahead with the work so as to have some relief given before the coming winter.

These are matters for the relevant Estimate. They are not relevant to the Finance Bill.

I am merely referring to the moneys we are receiving as a result of this Bill.

The Deputy is going into details which would be more relevant on the Estimate.

I am referring to these matters because work on them was at a standstill. Land Commission work was at a standstill. Land reclamation was also at a standstill. In fact, in relation to every Department you look at there was a drop in anything in the way of help for the community. We listened to statements made during the election campaign. One of the most ridiculous statements made by the former Minister for Finance had reference to finding £2,400,000 out of the coming Budget. That was purely an election bribe. The Job of finding the moneys to do all the work in relation to all the promises has fallen on the shoulders of Fianna Fáil. Now when Fianna Fáil have made an honest-to-God effort to get this country back into the stable position in which we had it when we handed over to the Coalition Parties, we find criticism from people who know very well that their criticism is not justified.

From Parties such as those that formed the lst Coalition Government, we are entitled to get some useful criticism, some helpful suggestions. I have been long enough here not to expect those things from Fine Gael, but, at least, they might give us an opportunity. We have been in office for about three months. In 12 months, a Government could not possibly make even a decent effort at cleaning up the mess that was left to us and at getting things going again. We should get useful criticism from the people opposite, or else they should give us an opportunity of going ahead with the work that so urgently requires to be done.

I listened the other night to a rather painful effort by the former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance. He quoted a speech made by a Labour leader in Tuam. It is very easy to quote speeches made by Labour leaders at this moment, but I remember a time not so very long ago, when the unemployment position in the Tuam and North Galway area was getting out of hand, when Labour leaders asked that individual to meet them for discussion and he refused point blank. On several occasions, they asked him to meet them and he refused point blank.

This does not seem to have any bearing on the Finance Bill.

Surely I am entitled to discuss speeches delivered in this House.

On the Budget.

I doubt if the speech the Deputy refers to was made on the Finance Bill.

I am practically certain it was. Such things are all very fine now and it is very easy for Deputies of the Opposition Parties to make the silliest and wildest of statements, but the responsibility is not theirs at the moment and, if it were, I am afraid the burden that had to be met by the people would be much greater even than it is.

This Bill in some respects could be described as the keystone of the Government's budgetary policy, or as the principal vehicle by which that policy will be carried into operation. In relation to the scope of the debate on this Bill, I was glad to find that it is possible to discuss the Bill by comparing the financial policy being pursued by the present Government and the financial policy of the previous Government.

I do think that there is a very definite difference between the financial policy of the present Government and the financial policy which was operated by the inter-Party Government. The most glaring difference which has become apparent is in relation to the Government's decision in connection with the food subsidies. I can well believe that the Minister for Finance must have found himself up against difficulties in persuading even his own Cabinet colleagues that, for the Budget of this year, the decision should be taken to abolish the food subsidies. I can well imagine that there must be within the ranks of the Fianna Fail Cabinet a number of Ministers who felt that that policy was not the right policy to adopt and who must have strongly opposed the Minister for Finance in his decision to abolish the subsidies.

I think the Minister for Finance indicated that that was the position and that a number of his colleagues felt strongly opposed to the action of abolishing the subsidies. I think the Minister, not only indicated that, but stated it in more or less definite terms in this House in the debate on the Budget. I want to be quite fair to the Minister. I am not suggesting that he indicated, or, indeed, that the position now exists, that he finds himself in sharp disagreement with his colleagues on that question. What I am saying is that he must have had difficulties in persuading them that it was the correct decision to take. The Minister, when speaking here on 28th of May, did say, at column 2084, in relation to the food subsidies:—

"I am not overstating the case when I say that there was a fair amount of objection to the withdrawal of the food subsidies."

That remark had reference to the general debate in this House, not to his Cabinet colleagues. He then went on to say:—

"I am not objecting to the Opposition opposing that. It was opposed by members of my own Government in the beginning until they saw what the position was. The members of the Government to which I belong, at any rate, knew that the Budget should be balanced and when they saw that there was no other way of doing it, they agreed, but Fine Gael and Labour condemn it, although they see no other way in which it can be done and did not even suggest any way."

It is clear, therefore, that within the ranks of the Fianna Fáil Cabinet—and I assume that the same difference of opinion must have existed more generally in the ranks of the Fianna Fáil Party—there was a difference of opinion, a difference of approach to this question of whether or not the food subsidies should be abolished. That decision was taken. Whether it was a decision of the Minister for Finance or a decision originally prompted by any other Minister, I do not know, but, whoever first made the suggestion, that decision triumphed, and we are now facing the situation where every Deputy must have regard to the consequences which flow from the decision taken by the Fianna Fáil Government and the Fianna Fáil Party.

I do not want to be interpreted in any way as urging that anything should be done which would in any way disturb the economy of this country or hinder the prospects of a speedy remedy for the ills which beset us, but I do think that, as far as the Government are concerned and as far as the Party supporting the Government are concerned, they are walking on very thin ice. I hope that the wage earners will respond, as I think they will, as patriotic Irishmen and women to the call for sacrifice and that they will be prepared to overcome the difficulties the country is facing and going through, by making their own sacrifices. I feel that many, or most of them, will be prepared to do that.

The Government has taken the risk, in its decision to abolish the subsidies, of upsetting the stability which had existed and was being maintained by the inter-Party Government. I do not want to say very much more with regard to that point but, on a general comparison between the policy of the previous Government and the policy of this Government, it is fair to point out that this is the second occasion within half a dozen years that the Fianna Fáil Government has attacked the subsidies. It is true to say for the inter-Party Government elected to office in 1954, that not only did they maintain the food subsidies which they found there when they took office but they increased them to the extent of £2,000,000 a year by the subsidy for butter.

Fianna Fáil in 1952 had their first crack at the food subsidies. They did that, if my memory serves me correctly, in the very first Budget after regaining office in 1951. In that Budget they attacked the food subsidies, slashed them, and be the deliberate and positive action of the Fianna Fáil Cabinet in 1952 the cost of living was forced up. It is significant that, now in the year 1957, again in the first Budget after regaining office, the Fianna Fáil Party having gone to the country on the slogan "Let us get cracking" gets cracking on the food subsidies.

I want to make that comparison between the policy of the two Government. I should like to refer to a speech made by Deputy Major de Valera here on May 12th, 1955, which I think rather emphasises the distinction between the policies of the two between the policies of the two Governments. At column 1384 on the 12th May, 1955, Deputy Major de Valera had this to say when talking of the general financial resolution of that year:—

The Government have not been able to reduce the cost of living, by and large, at all; in spite of them it has gone up. Why? I would be just as dishonest as some of the Minister's colleagues when they said that the previous Government did these things deliberately if I said the present Government did that deliberately. I do not think it is right to try to fool the people by saying that the Government has deliberately put up the cost of living with malice aforethought."

I acquit the present Government of putting up the cost of living with malice aforethought but I cannot acquit them, and no Deputy in the House or nobody outside it can acquit them, of putting up the cost of living by deliberate, positive action.

In reply to parliamentary questions here some weeks ago the Minister for Finance pointed out that as a result of budgetary proposals the cost of living would go up something like 4½ points. That is being done by the deliberate positive action of the present Government. That is a big distinction between the financial policy of the present Government and its predecessor. Deputy Major de Valera speaking in 1955 adverted to the fact from these benches that it would not be right to claim that the inter-Party Government had deliberately forced up the cost of living but it would be right now, and let us remember this, to say of the Fianna Fáil Government that they have deliberately pushed up the cost of living by their Budget proposals. I do not think there can be any doubt of that. They did the same thing in 1952. The inter-Party Government retained the subsidies; they increased them by the subsidisation of butter to the extent of £2,000,000 a year.

And reduced the size of the loaf.

If Deputy Briscoe wants me to deal with the loaf I shall be only too glad to do it.

I think possibly the last time Deputy Briscoe and myself spoke of the loaf would have been in or about 1952, and at that time the price of the 2-lb. loaf, before Fianna Fáil "got cracking", was 6d. It went up, under the Fianna Fáil Budget of 1952 to 9d. or 9½d., and it now goes up, under the 1957 Budget of Fianna Fáil, by another 3d. or 3½d. That is the Fianna Fáil record so far as the loaf is concerned.

Did you bring it down?

At least it can be said of the inter-party Government that their record was one of trying to hold prices down.

By reducing the size of the loaf.

I do not care what devices they used. It is undoubted. that no matter what inter-Party Government was in office it demonstrated in every way and—if you like to have it, I make you a present of it—by every device, its sincerity in endeavouring to keep down the cost of living. If they were not able to do that they endeavoured to cushion the people, and particularly the poorer sections, against rising prices.

Deputy Briscoe, however, was engaged elsewhere during most of the Budget discussion and I shall not chide him for not taking part in the Budget debate, but he has an opportunity now of contributing his quota to the discussion on the Finance Bill. No doubt Deputy Briscoe was performing a useful service on the other side of the Atlantic when we were discussing the Fianna Fáil Budget and its consequences but if he wants me to bring himself up to date as to what was said on both sides of the House in regard to this Budget I shall have great pleasure in assisting him to do so. In case he may have overlooked what was in the Budget I should just like to summarise it for him.

Under the Fianna Fáil Budget which Deputy Briscoe no doubt would have supported in the Division Lobby if he were here, the price of tobacco, beer, bread, butter and petrol are going up. The cost of hospitalisation under the 1953 Health Act is going up or may go up from 6/- to 10/- a day. The same applies to people requiring mental treatment. In addition a charge of 7/6 is being imposed under the Budget which Deputy Briscoe is supporting for specialist services. There are some concessions in the Budget. I think the Turg Board and the master bakers are getting concessions. That is as concise a summary of the Budget of Deputy Briscoe's colleague, the Minister for Finance, as I can give.

A balanced Budget.

That is the Fianna Fáil Budget. That is the Budget which will be operated through this Finance Bill. Fianna Fáil Deputies are possibly entitled to make the case that they did not have a great deal of time in which to consider the position before they brought in the Budget. I do not think that is a good case; I do not think it is a wise case to make because, in so far as it is made seriously, the conclusion which can be drawn from it is that the actions taken by the Fianna Fáil Government in introducing the Budget did not get serious consideration. In any event, while it may have been an unprecedented step to take, it does seem to me that the Government could have postponed the introduction of the Budget for a month, two months or even for three months if they felt they required extra time in which to consider the various factors involved.

The Minister for Finance, concluding the debate on the General Financial Resolution, seemed to me to chide Deputy John A. Costello and Deputy Sweetman in connection with their remarks regarding the decision of the inter-Party Government not to increase the figure in the Book of Estimates beyond a particular sum. I have not got the figure but I think it was about £96,500,000.

I want to remind the Minister that the Government of which he was a member in 1953 took a decision, as I understand the position, that as far as they were concerned taxation would not rise beyond the 1953 level. As I understand the position, that was a definite decision taken by the Minister and his colleagues in 1953 and announced in this House by the present Tánaiste who, as Deputy Lemass, occupied a seat in the Opposition when, speaking here on May 8th, 1956, and reported in the Official Debates at column 49 of Volume 157, he said:—

"In 1953, the Fianna Fáil Government of which I was a member took a decision that taxation in this country had reached the danger limit. We announced that we had made up our minds on that fact and that, so far as we were concerned, there would be no increase in tax rates above the 1953 level. We made it clear that, if any Budget difficulty arose, that difficulty would be met by a reduction of expenditure and not by increasing the burdens on the taxpayer."

Now the Minister for Finance, no doubt with Deputy Briscoe's support, brings in a Finance Bill asking this House, as far petrol is concerned, to increase the rate of taxation not merely above the 1953 level but by 6d. per gallon above the 1956 level. Fianna Fáil Deputies who occupied these benches last year put their views on record regarding the increase in the price of petrol brought about by last year's Budget.

Under the last inter-Party Budget the price of petrol was increased by 6d. per gallon. At the time most of the Fianna Fáil Deputies gave their views with regard to that increase. I do not think it worth while putting those views on record again. Twelve months later the price of petrol has not been reduced to the 1953 level but has another 6d. per gallon tax imposed on it under the Finance Bill which the Minister is now asking the House to pass.

I can foresee a number if the results that will ensue from that, In one way or another this new tax will lead to widespread increased charges. I do not know whether the Minister for Finance or his colleagues made any calculations in relations to this added tax, whether they made any calcula-t tions as to how much of it could be described as a tax on luxuries, how much of it will be a tax on industry, how much of it will be a tax generally on productive work as distinct from luxuries. I do not know whether the Deputies opposite have formed any views as to the extent petrol is used in this country for what might be described as purely luxury purpose.

I should imagine I would be putting it fairly finely if I said that petrol consumption for luxury purpose went as high as 15 per cent. or 16 per cent. That may be putting it a bit on the high side. If that figure is accepted— I want to confess I am simply guessing since I have not at my disposal the means of arriving at a definite conclusion —it would mean that approximately 85 per cent. of the petrol consumption in this country is for industrial and other useful productive purpose. I do not know whether the Minister for Finance or any of his colleagues would claim that this tax is a contribution towards the solution of the unemployment problem.

The Government have decided to add another 6d. per gallon to the price of petrol. When, in 1956, the inter-party Government imposed a similar tax they were criticised at length by members of the Fianna Fáil Opposition. The inter-Party Government, however, took other steps in relation to the financial position of the country among which was the imposition of import levies. I think it will be agreed that, by and large, the levies imposed by Deputy Sweetman as Minister for Finance were on articles which could be described as non-essentials.

I think it will be agreed that many of the articles on which the levies were imposed would and could be described as luxury articles. Deputy Sweetman, when announcing the introduction of the levies, if my memory serves me aright, did state that the levies were the nearest approach we could arrive at in this country to a purchase tax. I think it was a sensible policy. It was the policy of a Government that had in mind the necessity of dealing with non-essentials and luxury articles in this way rather than articles which were more necessary to the people or which were actual necessaries. The Fianna Fáil Government have made some alterations in the levies, about which other Deputies have spoken, and I do not intend taking up the time of the House in repeating what has been said already on that score.

I have referred to the decision of the Fianna Fáil Government in 1953 not to allow taxation to exceed the rates obtaining in that year. I do not want to be taken as adopting the attitude that, because that decision was taken in 1953—whether or not it was a formal decision by the Government or simply a kind of gentleman's agreement amongst themselves, I do not know— and I have no doubt taken with a sense of responsibility and in good faith, thereafter the Fianna Fáil Party must always be tied to it. I recognise, and I think any Deputy will recognise, that conditions and circumstances may alter from time to time. Deputies on all sides of the House will recognise that the condition which came into existence to threaten us in 1955 and 1956 were conditions that could not readily be foreseen by any Government.

The inter-Party Government, under the leadership, as far as financial policy was concerned, of Deputy Sweetman, were concerned, of Deputy in a vigorous and straightforward way, and even their most severely critical opponents will not deny the fact that the steps taken by the inter-Party Government had the effect of remedying the situation which had come into existence and which, I think, was described by Deputy Sweetman as Minister for Finance, as a threat to our national solvency. That threat was faced squarely by the inter-Party Government and overcome by the steps the inter-Party Government took to deal with it.

In addition to the increase in the price of petrol which has been implemented in this Bill, the other tax increases on beer and tobacco are contained in this Bill. I do not intend to give my views on this. All I want to say is that I personally am not particularly critical of the Minister and the Government in relation to the increases either on tobacco or beer. As far as petrol is concerned, I should like to hear from the Minister what calculation, if any, he made with regard to the break-up of the use of petrol as between luxury use, on the one hand, and productive, commercial and industrial use on the other.

I think, quite apart from any increase which may take place in wages—leaving that aside entirely-that quite a number of increases will flow from the implemention of the Government's Budget proposals and the passing of this Finance Bill. I believe, rightly or wrongly, that the rates of this city and generally throughout the country are very likely to increase as a result of the Budget of 1957. I believe that school meals will cost more and that the cost of maintenance in local authority hospitals and institutions is likely to increase as a result of it. That will reflect itself in an increase in rates.

I believe that various other rises are likely to take place, even inside Government Departments. The Department of Justice and the Department of Defence are likely to find themselves faced with increases as a result of the proposals in this Bill to increase the price of petrol. Increases of one sort or another will take place and Deputies on the other side of the House should recognise that, and that these increazses, when that take place, will be the responsibility of the Fianna Fáil Government and of the Deputies supporting it.

At this hour, I am not going to discuss whether to not the result of the General Election might have been as it was if Deputies on the opposite benches, led by the Minister for Finance, had indicated, prior to the date of the General Election, that if they were returned as a Government, they would complete the job they started in 1952 in relation to the food subsidies, that they would complete the abolotion of food subsidies. That is a matter which, no doubt, the Deputies opposite are concerned with and will find their constituents and their organisations concerned with. I leave it to them to discover the views of their constituents through their own organisations.

Deputies on this side of the House have been critical of the Minister's proposals and critical of this Bill, as I think we are entitled to be critical of it. We are entitled to point out firmly the difference between the policies of the present Government and of its predecessor, and we are entitled to claim that the people, particularly those who were dissatisfied with the results achieved by the inter-Party Government, but at the same time were not willing to vote into office a Fianna Fáil Government, and who refrained from voting at the General Election, are now regretting their inactivity on polling day. If they were to get an opportunity oce more of coming to a decision by means of a General Election, I have very little doubt—I think Deputies on the opposite benches have very little doubt —as to what the decision the people would take.

I thought that, as a result of all that was said upon the Budget, the Minister for Finance and the Government would take advice in the matter and reconsider some of their proposals before submitting them in the from of this Finance Bill. We know, of course, that the Finance Bill is the legislative machinery that has to go through this House in order to give effect to the Budget Resolutions. Looking over the debate on the Budget and the proposals, I am struck more than ever with the audacity of the proposals. I know well that Fianna Fáil are very determined and sure of their strength and that they have a majority in the House which must bow their heads, follow meekly behind the Whip and carry out whatever policy the Government decides, whether they approve or disapprove of it. The first thing that strikes me in this Bill is that for the third time Fianna Fáil has taken the line of imposing practically the same taxation as in 1947.

You have already said that.

I shall say something for the young Deputy who was not here then which may be of intense interest to him. If he would take a word of advice from a person like myself it might do him no harm were he to peruse Volime 108 of the Official Report for the year 1947 and therein read Deputy Aiken's speech, as Minister for Finance, on the Finance (No-2) Bill of that year. I shall read it before I finish but not until the appropriate time and when I am ready.

This is the third time that Fianna Fáil has imposed this taxation with a illing majority behind it. When they brought in a similar Bill, described as the Finance (No. 2) Bill of 1947, there was no inter-Party Government to blame then. They could not say that there was a Government before that which had made a complete mess of everthing an had so misspent the nation's revenue that they had to impose fresh taxation.

I would ask the young Deputy to procure volume 108 of the official Report for the year 1947 and read the contribution of Deputy Frank Aiken, Minister for Finance, at column 398. The Deputy is not long enough in the House to have the volume himself but he can get it on request and it will be of immense value to him because here are some of the reasons why the then Fianna Fáil Government had to impose the taxation contained in the second Finance Bill of 1947. When you look at its provisions and the provisions of to-day's Bill you will see practically no difference.

We said then that there was no necessity for that Budget. We further said that if we were elected and got the opportunity we would remove these provisions forthwith. We got the opportunity in 1948 and we removed them and Fianna Fáil were as mad as hell. They never got over it and they are trying from that day to this to explain why they brought in that Budget. Then in 1952, when they got the chance, they reimposed the taxation but instead of giving the reasons I am going to give now they blamed the inter-Party Government for having left an unbalanced Budget and a mess behind them. What a mess! The sum of £26,000,000 was left on the table for the Fianna Fáil Government and the Minister for Finance. It was a lovely mess for any Minister or any Government to put their hands on but they had that.

Here are some of the reasons for the 1947 Budget of Fianna Fáil. I quote form column 398, Volume 108, of 1947, Where Deputy Aiken, Minister for Finance, is reported as saying:—

"Here at home this general situation is reflected in our domestic life and trade relations. During the last year a number of important commodity price rose steeply: sirloin beef 6½d. per 1b., leg mutton 8¾d. per lb., eggs 6¾d. per dozen, milk (retail) 1d. per galon, butter 4d. per 1b., potatoes 7¼d. perstone, tea 1/2 per lb....

Some other factors regarding our economy which must be noted are: (1) Our imports in the first six months of this year were £52.7 million and our exports £15.9 million...."

Our exports were £15.9 million after 15 years of a Fianna Fáil Government.

After a world war.

I shall deal with that truthfully I hope but not on this Bill. I shall avail of the appropriate time to do so. Our exports were £15.9 million after a world war. Deputy Aiken said:—

"Our imports in the first six months of this year were £52.7 million and our exports £15.9 million, showing what used to be called an unfavourable visible trade balance of £36.8 million but representing to our people, who suffered severely from shortages of all sorts of goods and equipment for nearly eight years, a very welcome supply of the things they were eager to buy. The deficit in visible trade was made good as to £26,000,000 by the favourable balance in our visible trade, for our external assets only fell by £11,000,000 in that period."

Debate adjourned.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 13th June, 1957.