Committee on Finance. - Agricultural Produce (Cereals) (Amendment) Bill, 1958—Financial Resolution.

I move:—

That it is expedient to make provision for the payment to An Bord Gráin and to the Minister for Agriculture for transmission to An Bord Gráin of a levy on wheat of such amount as may be fixed by that Minister by Order under any Act of the present session to amend and extend the Agricultural Produce (Cereals) Acts, 1933 to 1956, to provide for the establishment of a board to dispose of surplus wheat to be known as An Bord Gráin, to provide for the payment of a levy on wheat to An Bord Gráin and to provide for other matters connected with the matters aforesaid.

On the Financial Resolution, we regard this Bill as a disreputable smokescreen for the purpose of covering-up the Minister in doing that which he had not the moral courage to do openly and honestly. We regard this Bill as a smokescreen designed to conceal the fact that, having undertaken to the electorate to increase the guaranteed price of wheat to 82/6 a barrel, the Minister's Party are now, through the instrumentality of this Bill, seeking power to abolish the guaranteed price altogether and to pay this year, and in the years hereafter, not a price guaranteed to the farmer before he sets his crop but a price to be determined later than the 14th July in the year in which he saves his crop.

I want to recall to the House the repeated protests of the members of the Government Party, in past years, if the guaranteed price for wheat was not declared early in the month of September for the ensuing year. I remember Deputy Allen used to make our hearts bleed over the cruel dilemma in which the farmers found themselves, vacillating as to whether they should sow winter wheat or not, because they were not told in September the guaranteed price to be paid the following September.

The Deputy is making a Second Reading speech.

Will the Deputy quote me?

Now they are not to be told——

This is a Financial Resolution in respect of the expenditure to be made under this Bill.

To operate An Bord Gráin, the Ceann Comhairle will remember. The function of An Bord Gráin is to tell farmers what price they are to get for wheat and they are to be consulted by the Minister for the purpose of determining the price they are to get for wheat, not in the September before it is sown, but in the July after the wheat has been set. That is the job of An Bord Gráin. They are to have funds placed at their disposal so that they can enter into consultation with the Minister as to the amount by which the Minister will reduce the guaranteed price for wheat some time in the month of July. That is the purpose. That is what we are now being asked to vote money for.

In case the Chair has overlooked it, An Bord Gráin is not to be asked, or they will not want any money to finance an inquiry into, what the surplus is to be. When he is determining that question, the Minister will consult the Minister for Industry and Commerce, so there is no money in this Resolution for that purpose. Having reached a decision on that question, he wants money so that An Bord Gráin can set up offices, a headquarters and a staff, to consult with the Minister for Agriculture as to how much the price of wheat is to be reduced in the light of the decision taken by him, and the Minister for Industry and Commerce, as to how much of the outturn of the wheat crop is to be regarded as surplus and to be sold to biscuit manufacturers at £22 a ton, so that they may be assured of their profit for the home market.

I must pay this tribute to the members of the Fianna Fáil Party who are here and there are seven of them. One of them is from Limerick where they never grew a grain of wheat in their lives. Another of them is from Clonmel. I see Deputy Nicholas Egan here and I see that Deputy Faulkner is here, but he is so dazzled by admiration for the Minister for Industry and Commerce that of course anything goes with him. I do not see Deputy Corry here and he was the Deputy I used to hear talking about this question on public platforms. I do not see Deputy Maher here who also used be voluble about the question in Laois-Offaly, nor do I see Deputy Medlar here. He is one of the Deputies who were elected to raise the price of wheat—that is what brought him in here—but they are not here at all to-day. Hair or hide of them is not to be found and I do not blame them. I respect a man who has some sense of shame and these Deputies at least have that degree of decency, that they are ashamed to show their faces when this House is being asked for money to set up An Bord Gráin to discuss with the Minister, in the month of July, how much is to be taken off the price of wheat so that biscuit manufacturers can buy it at £22 a ton.

This is an occasion when the House is entitled to ask the Minister when he proposes to conduct his discussions with the Minister for Industry and Commerce for the purpose of determining the volume of the surplus. He did say some months ago that it was his purpose in connection with this levy procedure, for the continuing of which An Bord Gráin is being brought to birth, that this determination as to the surplus would be made in the month of July. I remember that month particularly, for I remember saying then that nobody but a lunatic would undertake to determine the volume of the outturn of the wheat crop in July and I thought that fact was powerful evidence of the fraudulent character of this whole transaction.

If the truth were told, I think the Minister makes very little concealment of the fact that he himself believes it to be fraudulent and he said on the last occasion that he was fortifying his resolution to proceed on these lines, because, throwing his mind back over the past 20 years, he recalled that Fianna Fáil had got substantial majorities from the Irish people. That is an incontrovertible fact and that secured for us the economic war; it secured for us the 1952 Budget; and now in this year it secures for the grain growers of this country An Bord Gráin. Very well may the Minister for Agriculture say it is a source of consolation to him to have that majority. When all is said and done, he has got a majority in this House and those who gave it to him are going to pay for their folly as they paid before and will pay whenever they give Fianna Fáil a clear majority in this House.

The people are very fond of Fianna Fáil, nevertheless.

Let us not go into that, a Cheann Comhairle. People are very found of what Fianna Fáil declares their intention of being but, when they have had an opportunity of seeing them, the number of voters who support them, even in a city constituency, drops from 14,000 to 6,000. Did the Deputy ever hear the saying: "When the devil is sick the devil a saint would be"?

If the Deputy dropped 100 votes, he would not be here.

Let us not argue that. The Deputy is here for quite a while and that is a source of continued disstress to Fianna Fáil. One of its most acute sources of distress is that the Deputy is here now to ask the Minister when this calculation will be made and, if it is to be made in the month of July, having heard from Kildare Street the pleasure of the millers and biscuit manufacturers, perhaps the Minister would tell us, as the Minister for Agriculture, how he proposes to make his contribution to the discussion. What does he know or what does anybody else know of the likely outturn of the wheat crop in the month of July? Is not it manifest to everybody in this House that this is all part of a fraudulent facade behind which Fianna Fáil is going to do what they are afraid to do under the public eye?

Surely we are entitled to recall, Sir, another Money Resolution that we passed in this House with all the fanfare of trumpets attendant upon this Money Resolution but it was then the milk producers who were to suffer and they were told there was a commission to be set up?

I do not see how that arises.

Why? Is it not exactly the same thing?

The Deputy is going into it in detail. He may say it is like the Financial Resolution in respect of milk but he may not go into the terms of that Financial Resolution.

What I want to say is that there was then a commission set up; money was provided for it; the milk producers were told that this was their charter of freedom and Deputy Ó Briain used to hug himself every time he thought of it.

"No bob a gallon," he said.

For five years.

Never less than a "bob" a gallon for five years. I wonder would the Deputy like to give that undertaking now? Come now. I am sure he would give it off at every chapel gate in the country.

The subject does not arise now.

That report when it came out was made the occasion by Fianna Fáil to reduce the price of milk, just as the report of An Bord Gráin, when it comes out, is designed to reduce the price of wheat and in both cases the purpose is to enable Fianna Fáil to assume the rôle of Pontius Pilate and to ask first: "What is truth?" and then to call for a basin of water and wash their hands in public and say: "It is not we; it was the Milk Costings Commission who did the first thing and it is An Bord Gráin that will do the other." But there is this interesting development that at least the Milk Costings Commission dropped dead when it had served its purpose in one year and was decently buried in oblivion. An Bord Gráin is to function perennially and, if it takes 6/- off this year, nobody will know until next July, this time 12 months, what it will take off then. I wonder will Deputy Allen come up next September and thunder here as to why there is not a fixed price provided?

I shall be here, please God.

I hope the Deputy will. I should not like to see him dead or bankrupt or in any way deterred from his regular business. I should like the Deputy to be here next September and to hear him ask the Minister for Agriculture why he does not fix a price so that farmers will know where they are because next September An Bord Gráin will be functioning and the Minister can fix any price he likes in the certainty that, whatever price the Minister names, An Bord Gráin will be called into operation the following July and they will be authorised to fix any reduction that they can persuade the Minister to accept and they will be given the pleasant assignment of disposing, not of the surplus as ascertained by them, but of such quantity of Irish wheat as the Minister for Agriculture, in consultation with the Minister for Industry and Commerce, may declare to be surplus.

This year, the biscuit manufacturers have very kindly consented to accept their requirements at the price payable for pollard and that will be met out of the levy. We do not know what the bakers will be prepared to accept but the Minister for Industry and Commerce will know and the Minister for Agriculture cannot decide the amount of the surplus without his consent. So, when the millers and the bakers and the biscuit manufacturers have all had their whack out of this business it will then be the duty of An Bord Gráin to arrive upon the scene. Where will they get the money to meet the requirements of the millers and the bakers and the biscuit manufacturers? They will get it by measuring the levy to be made on the price of wheat.

Lest that might come as too great a shock to Deputy Corry's supporters in East Cork and to Deputy Moher's supporters in East Cork and lest Deputy Medlar's supporters in County Kilkenny should get neurasthenia at the news, this year the Minister for Finance tells us that the levy is to be 6/- a barrel and the Act kindly provides that, if that should prove insufficient, the Treasury will lend An Bord Gráin sufficient to carry the baby for 12 months, on the understanding that at the end of that period they will raise by levy again sufficient to pay off the overdraft so kindly provided plus whatever charge will come in course of payment in respect of the coming crop. Goodness knows, it is hard to believe that fraud and hypocrisy of that kind can so far deceive our people.

I look back with satisfaction on the fact that when circumstances made it inescapable that the guaranteed price on the domestic market should be adjusted, the Government of which I was a member came into Dáil Éireann and adjusted it, told the farmers what the price of wheat would be, stood over it and saw it paid and that in the following year, when world transport prices resulted in a rise in the international price of wheat, the Government of which I was a member, accepted my advice that the same relationship should be maintained between the world price and the home price and that, inasmuch as world prices had gone up by 5/- a barrel because of freight rates, the home price should be adjusted, and it was. We accepted the entire wheat crop, and we rejected, the proposition that a large percentage was unfit for conversion into flour. All of it was accepted and dried, except that which was manifestly sprouting and unfit for use.

Those who wanted to jettison wheat as animal food were told they would not be allowed to do so. They were told it was their duty, as a milling monopoly, to filter that wheat into the grist in the following year and to let it be used in the ordinary course of commerce. What I rejoice in particularly is that we endorsed no fraud. We told the truth and we faced the mendacious and lying propaganda of the then political Opposition which, I do not deny, was attended with a very high measure of success in Kilkenny, in Laois-Offaly, and in the grain growing areas of this country. I think that Deputies who were responsible for that fraud should ask themselves to-day what brought about that success.

Do they really believe that, had they told the farmers of Laois-Offaly, Kilkenny, and these areas, that their plan was not to do as the inter-Party Government was doing—tell them the facts, guarantee them in September the price which would be paid in the following September—but that their policy was to set up An Bord Gráin, which would be specifically prohibited from telling the farmers what the price was in the September before the seed was to be set, which was charged by statutory responsibility not to tell the farmers what the price was until their crops were growing, they would have been received in Kilkenny and Laois-Offaly as they were received? If, in retrospect, they are obliged to admit to themselves that their reception would have been far different, is it not time they began to ask this question: how often can this pitcher be brought to the well?

If that kind of confidence trick is successfully played upon our people, with the support of a Party newspaper and all the propaganda machinery of one of the greatest Parties in this country, I admit that the consequent disaster is not going to fall upon that Party alone. The tragedy of the situation is that the ordinary people will begin to associate us all in Dáil Éireann with these despicable standards, and that means they will grow to hate Parliament, and those who are guilty of treason, of suggesting that in this free society our parliamentary institutions are founded on fraud and deception and lies will be listened to, and those of us who seek to repudiate those allegations will find our task made more difficult——

By telling them you could not grow wheat in this country.

——by the dirty fraud of Fianna Fáil's An Bord Gráin.

Does it not prove we were right?

The Deputy would not feel so vexed if he did not feel that what I am saying is true. It is manifest that he knows what I am saying is true or he would not get vexed. Repeated fraud of this character will undermine the parliamentary institutions of this country, as has happened in many other countries in the world. Those institutions are very precious, or ought to be, to us all and that catastrophe should not be allowed to come upon us because, if it does, the remedy may or may not be within our resources. I hate the fraud and deceit enshrined in the procedure for which we are asked to vote money to-day——

In the name of wheat growing.

I recall that there was more wheat produced from 350,000 acres in 1957 than was produced from 600,000 acres in 1947.

No thanks to Deputy Dillon.

All thanks to Deputy Dillon.

Here are facts.

He said he would not be seen dead in a field of wheat.

The facts are that twice as much wheat was produced from one half the land in 1957 as was produced in 1947.

Because Fianna Fáil were in power.

Lay the blame wherever you will. The facts remain and they cannot be controverted by shouting.

Hear, hear!

The fact remains that every year in which I was responsible for the Department of Agriculture, the farmers were told the truth, whether it was calculated to be popular or unpopular.

The only question is whether there should be a levy on wheat or not. Will the Deputy confine himself to that?

Yes, and my case is that every year the inter-Party Government were in office, the farmers were told the truth. The fact now is that, in 1958, we are being told to vote money in order to conceal the truth.

The Deputy has said that 1,000,000 times. We are sick listening to him.

I am not surprised the Deputy is sick listening.

Once ought to be enough to say it.

The Deputy, however, is still committed to a course of fraud and I am trying to convert him.

A Cheann Comhairle, I object to the Deputy saying that I am committed to a course of fraud.

Was it not fraud to say that you could not grow wheat in this country?

Deputies should not address each other directly.

May I not describe the conduct of the Party which Deputy Loughman supports as fraudulent?

I object to that.

The Deputy has ascribed fraud to another Deputy.

Good gracious, no. Deputy Loughman is a most upright, honest man.

I want the Deputy to withdraw the statement that I am associated with fraud.

I look upon the Deputy as a most upright, honest man, but I feel it is my duty in this House to point out to Deputy Loughman that the policy with which he has associated himself is, in my view, fraudulent. Surely that is the purpose of this House, that we ought to stigmatise the policy of a Government for the time being in appropriate language? I believe that the policy of the present Government is fraudulent, disgraceful and mendacious, and I am concerned to warn this honest, upright man from Clonmel to abstain from participating in that which is fraudulent and mendacious. I am glad to see that his conscience stings and that he repudiates the thought that it is possible for him to do it.

We are discussing whether there should be a levy or not, and I hope the Deputy will return to that.

I say that the suggestion to impose a levy is fraudulent and mendacious.

The Deputy said that several times.

I have not apparently made it clear to the Ceann Comhairle that I was saying that.

Will the Deputy say now that he would not be found dead in the field of wheat? Will he say that he will drive wheat and beet up the spout?

Deputy Davern should allow Deputy Dillon to make his statement in his own way. Deputy Dillon is entitled to make his statement in his own way. I am asking Deputy Dillon to keep to the question as to whether a levy should be put on wheat or not. That is the question.

That is the question. Let us examine it home. I understood that our purpose was to provide a guaranteed price for wheat. How is the price to be guaranteed if nobody knows until July what the size of the levy is to be? I am most anxious that the Fianna Fáil Deputies who are voting for this will give us the benefit of their counsel. Is there a levy to be made on wheat or is there not? There is the issue nicely joined.

Níl a fhois agam fós.

Even the Minister himself says he does not know. He is waiting to be told by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. That is one of the evils of the present situation. When I first went into the Department of Agriculture, you could not file a paper without getting the permission of the Department of Industry and Commerce. It took me two years to chase them out of that establishment.

They must have regarded the Deputy as irresponsible. They could not trust him.

They did not know me.

I suggest that this discussion is irrelevant.

The Chair heard the intervention. The Minister said he did not know what the levy would be.

That should not broaden the discussion.

This is the 15th July. He is responsible for this Bill. Am I to ask that the Minister for Industry and Commerce be sent for to find out what he knows? Is it not an astonishing thing that on 15th July the Minister for Agriculture does not know what the price to be paid for the present wheat crop is to be? Is that the policy of Fianna Fáil? Is that to be their policy in respect of every other agricultural produce? Is it not an astonishing thing that with Dáil Éireann closing down for the summer Recess, probably at the end of this week, the principal Opposition find themselves in a position that they cannot get from the Minister even at this stage what the price is to be?

Before this House reassembles, according to the Fianna Fáil theory, a large part of next year's wheat crop should be sown. If this House does not meet until the end of October, a considerable acreage of the winter wheat ought to have been sown before we meet again. Can the Minister give us any information about any grain crop? Can he tell us, if he does not know what the price of this year's wheat crop will be, the price of next year's wheat crop or feeding barley? Does anybody know? If they do not, Deputies appreciate what has happened—that, under the smokescreen of An Bord Gráin, guaranteed prices for cereal crops have softly and silently vanished away.

This Bill was brought in as a snark but it is turning out to be a boojum. Do Deputies remember the hunting of the snark? An Bord Gráin was brought in to be an instrument for fixing a fair price for wheat. It has the boojum-like quality in that as it emerges the guaranteed price for wheat and feeding barley fades away. Is that the policy of Fianna Fáil? Is that the policy for which they want money now? I personally regret the fact but I am afraid it is true.

Fianna Fáil have a clear majority in this House. I cannot force them to tell me. Unless I am greatly mistaken, they are not going to tell me, the House or the country. They will say, in the words of the Minister for Agriculture a few moments ago: "I do not know" and, by implication, they will add: "and I do not care." With a clear majority in the House, the Minister for Agriculture is in a position to say: "You will follow me into the Lobby for anything." It does not matter what programme they were elected on or what promises they made, the whip can be cracked and they will vote for anything. So long as that is true and we are in a minority, we cannot make them answer, but I should like to remind the Minister for Agriculture that when he was in a minority on this side of the House, I laid down then what I thought was a good precedent.

When I was Minister for Agriculture—everybody knew that I was not deeply concerned for the wheat crop which occupied 3 per cent. of our land which by comparison with the livestock industry did not seem to me to be of consequence—I adopted the attitude that the democratic policy of a Government would ultimately be determined not by the size of the majority but by the respect and deference it showed to the rights of the minority. Because the adherents of Fianna Fáil were deeply attached to the whole concept of wheat growing, the Government of which I was a member gave a guarantee not for one year or two years, but for five years, of a minimum price below which the crop would never fall.

I look back with pride on that as the whole are of quality in the democratic character of the Government of which I was a member. I am entitled now to know the answer to the questions I put to the Minister for Agriculture to-day, but if I judge the mind of Fianna Fáil correctly, I will not get them. I look back with comfort to the fact that over the past 20 years I have had to deal with arrogant, absolute Fianna Fáil majorities in this House. Together with my colleagues, I broke them twice and we will break them again.

We were never to come back again.

We will break them again.

We were never to come back again, according to the prophets.

Fine Gael fired the Deputy out.

Sometimes a prudent wish is father to excessive optimism, but you cannot reasonably expect a country which has suffered so long from Fianna Fáil to be cured too quickly. The process of curing is proceeding and that, to my mind, is the only consolation in a very gloomy atmosphere, physically and spiritually, in this country to-day.

It would appear that, apart from the presentation of the Minister and the fact that Deputy Dillon has followed, we shall not derive from the opposite side of the House any illumination in respect to this matter. The only thing we get is interruptions. Those who interrupt are not prepared to stand up and declare positively their support of this measure. They will not advance any argument to controvert what is put forward from this side.

We are asked to-day to vote money for the establishment of An Bord Gráin. When we were discussing this on the Second Stage of the Bill the Fine Gael Opposition advanced views contrary to those advanced in favour of the establishment of this board. At that time, the agriculturists, the grain growers, had not definitely stated or given their opinion as to what they thought of this measure. Surely when we propose, in the establishment of this board, to give over to the wheat producers immense responsibilities in relation to the marketing of surplus wheat, the all-abiding requirement is the co-operation of the growers? In that respect, since the Second Reading, the wheat growers have completely abrogated any responsibility in relation to what the Minister and the Government propose to ask them to shoulder.

We are asked, Sir, to-day to vote money for the establishment of yet another board. Naturally, a new board means more expense, more appointments and more officials. On the other hand we have the Minister for Finance, who now and again—not as much as he used to—pays lip service to the Government's intention to reduce expenditure by curtailing the numbers in the Civil Service. This will be another opportunity to follow on the line presented by the establishment of the personnel of the Greyhound Board. This will be following on the line, which is now so positive, of appointing ex-bank managers at £2,500 a year, to the Agricultural Credit Corporation.

Surely that does not arise?

On a point of order, what has this to do with the question before the House?

Nothing whatever.

To-day this Minister is asking us to vote money for the establishment of yet another board. I am merely drawing attention——

The question of a nomination to any particular board does not arise on this Resolution. The personnel of the board does not arise.

The personnel of the Grain Board?

It does not arise on this Resolution.

Although we are voting money to pay for it?

The personnel of this board does not arise. This is asking for the power.

On a point of order, we are voting money for this.

I said "the personnel".

If they put on a dozen Greek sailors, can the Deputy not comment on it?

We are being asked to-day to vote this money, the expenses which will be incurred in the payment of a new board. We have the sad experience of the last month.

The question before the House is as to whether power be given to put a levy on wheat.

Very good, Sir. We are being asked to put a levy on wheat in order to provide money to set up a board which will administer and determine the sale of surplus wheat. The House and the country have sad experience of the way in which moneys are being spent which were voted formerly for the establishment of boards similar to An Bord Gráin. The question before the House is as to whether there should be a levy or not. We say, Sir, as we said on the Second Reading, that there are people interested in this problem throughout the country who would suggest that all other avenues have not been explored. Suggestions which have been mooted in relation to providing a solution to this problem have not been answered by those in office.

By the voting of this money to-day, the Government are taking the easy way out. They are ridding themselves of the responsibility of having to dispose of this wheat. They are bringing in bodies from outside, bodies which we claim are being brought in merely so that the present Government may be in a position to point to them in later years and say: "We are not the people who fell down on this job; they are the people, the people who were established on this day when we voted the moneys to create a levy to pay the expenses of the members of this board."

When the House was discussing, on the Second Reading, a problem of this magnitude, one would have thought we would have had a number of contributions from the Government Party. We had one solitary contribution— from a Deputy who was goaded into standing up, by the fact that none of his colleagues showed the slightest interest in this measure. Again to-day, Sir, we have the same lack of interest by Deputies opposite. There are occasions on which Deputies—particularly when they are elected and have secured a mandate on specific subjects —are expected by the people who elected them, to speak here and give their views—views which they must hold, seeing that they are elected by those particular interests. Here in this Dáil in the Government Party there are at least eight members who can trace their election to the whole issue of the wheat price; yet not one of them thought it worth while to speak on the Second Reading and not one of them has given an indication of his views to-day on the Financial Resolution.

Surely we are entitled to ask that the members who support the ideas enshrined in this measure would give their views to the House on it? They should explain why they have completely thrown overboard the views they held so forcefully and so recently, and which they voiced so vociferously both in by-elections and at the general election.

Let the Minister not think that the members of the Fine Gael Party or the members of the National Farmers' Association are the only people who are expressing and expressing forcefully their criticisms of the Government's attitude at the moment. In North Tipperary, which is a grain growing area, the Minister for Defence went down recently to a Fianna Fáil convention. There it was said that the question of wheat prices was one in which the Government had let down the people who had elected them. That convention was fully reported in the local Press. Let me say it was a compliment to the delegates who attended it, that they came out as strongly as they did in expressing their disappointment, their grave and bitter disappointment, at the way the Government were treating them.

That was long before An Bord Gráin was thought of. I wonder what they will say to-day when they find that this "strong" Government, elected 15 months ago, was not strong enough to handle this problem of disposing of surplus wheat? The problem is not the sale of surplus wheat; it is the effecting of a substantial reduction in the price of wheat. That is what this board is charged with. If it were a serious suggestion, surely this board would be given the responsibility of determining the extent of the surplus, or would have some voice in the determination of the extent of the surplus with which they would have to cater?

I join with Deputy Dillon on this Financial Resolution in repeating that this is a sham and a fraud, designed by the Government to cover themselves up in an action which they do not feel they were competent politically to face. They hope that by the creation of doubt and uncertainty, in the year or two which are to come they will experience some opportunity of saddling others with a responsibility which they were elected to bear.

In these days when, having seen the reports for the first six months of the year, we see the country running into an imbalance of payments as a result of which the Government may want to take action, action not open to them since they have completely thrown away the weapons used by the last Government in facing such a situation, they may once again have to turn to the agricultural community to save this country from the impact of difficulties such as those we experienced a year and a half or two years ago and which, due to neglect on the part of the Government, appears to be looming on the horizon again. Is this the way to treat the farmers who may be the people required to save the country should such an event occur?

It is a pity the wheat growers could not have a picture of Dáil Éireann while Fianna Fáil are putting this Bill through. They were always the champions of wheat growing yet they have only four Deputies sitting behind the Minister now, two of whom have no interest whatever in wheat growing, any more than the Minister himself.

That is not true.

When the Deputy has grown as much wheat as I have he will be able to stand up here——

If I were a rancher like Deputy Hughes——

A rancher? I do not know what the Deputy is talking about. It is extraordinary, after all the talk by Fianna Fáil about wheat growing before the last general election and the previous by-election, that we should be asked to set up a board that will collect a levy on wheat. As has been pointed out, this is a deception on the people. The Minister and the Government were not big enough to come in and announce what the cut on wheat would be. Setting up this board is just a means of fooling the wheat growers. We do not know even at this late stage what the reduction will be. When the scheme was announced last January we were supposed to have a calculation of what the surplus wheat would be in July. Now in the middle of July there is not a word about that calculation or how it will be made.

The Minister in introducing this Bill did not at any time make a suggestion or give any outline as to how this surplus would be calculated. It was agreed in negotiations with the National Farmers' Association that they would have a say in the matter but now it appears that that is not the way in which the scheme will work. The surplus wheat will be calculated in consultation with the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the millers. As a result of that, I am sure we shall have a large surplus because neither the millers nor the Minister for Industry and Commerce have any interest whatever in wheat growing.

The wheat growers have been completely let down. During the last general election campaign Fianna Fáil went all over the country promising 82/6 a barrel for wheat. The wheat growers in my constituency expected to get that last harvest. We are coming into this year's harvest and they realise there will be a cut but they do not know what it will be. We merely have this backhand method of dealing with the situation by setting up this board. This is only a fraud because this board will have only portion of the job it should have to do. It will only collect the levy and sell the surplus wheat. If the Minister had an honest approach in establishing the board, he would see that it had a say in arriving at what the surplus wheat would be and also what the levy would be. The levy, of course, controls the price.

If the board is to have the duty of collecting the levy it should also have a say in what that surplus wheat should be. We object strongly to the setting up of this board and the collecting of the levy because no honest attempt is being made to face this problem. It is just a way out for the Minister and the Government. The problem will have to be met later on as the situation becomes more difficult, as if is sure to become if the present problem of surplus wheat is not faced in a straight manner.

I should like to ask the Minister a question before he replies. What is the amount which it is estimated will be required for the establishment of An Bord Gráin and what will be the levy per barrel on wheat which will be required for the establishment of the board plus its officials and all the other officers required by it?

The Minister to conclude.

We are in Committee.

I should like to hear the General.

We are all waiting to hear the Minister. I have nothing more to say on this now but I am reminding the Chair the House is in Committee.

It is usual to call on the Minister if no Deputy offers.

The Minister has been asked a number of questions and there has not been a single word of answer from the other side. When we are discussing a Financial Resolution we are in Committee. I suggest that it is the order and that it has been traditional that we continue in Committee.

I doubt if there is any worthwhile precedent along the lines suggested by the Deputy.

I insist there is and, apart altogether from precedent, I insist we are in Committee on Finance.

I agree we are in Committee on Finance and it is there that it is the established practice to call on the Minister to conclude when no other Deputy offers.

We are in Committee on Finance.

The Deputy will appreciate that it has been the custom of the House to call on the Minister to conclude.

It has been the custom to do so in certain cases but when objection has been taken to it and the Chair reminded we are in Committee on Finance, that has been accepted and discussions have taken place.

I know that it has been challenged on various occasions, but still the practice stands.

On a point of order, I make the challenge that this House is in Committee on Finance and that although you call on the Minister to conclude, that does not supersede the Orders of the House or the practice of the House in special cases. Here we have a very special case in which questions of a vital nature have been put to the Minister, the answers to which are of very great importance to the House. The Minister has shown no sign of answering them nor has any single person behind the Minister spoken in this regard.

If the Chair accepted the Deputy's suggestion there would be no end to the debate.

I take it we are not going to abrogate the Standing Orders of the House, and so far as I am aware the Standing Orders of Dáil Éireann prescribe that we are in Committee on Finance which entitles us to speak as frequently as we consider it our duty to our constituents to do. Unless you announce you are going to abrogate Standing Orders, you cannot simply brush them aside. They are there. If you want to read them, the Clerk will provide them. They are the Standing Orders which entitle each Deputy to speak, if and when he thinks fit. I know of no means by which the Chair can abrogate Standing Orders.

I should like to point out to the Deputy that I am quite well aware of the Standing Orders of this House. I have no intention of abrogating them. The Deputy is well aware that the practice of this House is as I have stated it to be.

On a point of order, I am not talking about the established customs or habits of anyone. I am talking about the Standing Orders of Dáil Éireann, which, as far as I know, entitle a Deputy to speak as often as he considers it his duty to do so, and it is not possible for the Minister to conclude the debate in Committee on Finance. On the Second Stage of a Bill or on the Fifth Stage of a Bill, I understand the Standing Orders prescribe the Minister may conclude the debate, but I know of no provision in the Standing Orders to enable the Chair to call on the Minister to conclude in Committee on Finance. I would urge that the Leas-Cheann Comhairle vindicate the rights of Deputies under Standing Orders.

I have no intention whatever of taking away from the rights of Deputies. It is my duty to put the Standing Orders of this House into effect but in doing so not to be blind to the accepted practice of the House. If other Deputies now offer to speak, the Chair will be only too glad to call on them.

On a point of order, I respectfully submit you are overlooking the matter at issue. I understand that, under the Standing Orders of Dáil Éireann, the Minister may not be called upon to conclude in Committee on Finance. He may be called on to speak, if he offers himself, but that is without prejudice to any other Deputy speaking after or before him.

It has been done in all the Estimates down the years.

We are not discussing an Estimate.

It is the same.

We are in Committee on Finance on a Financial Resolution. The Minister can be called on, if he offers himself, but not to conclude.

I do not want to deprive anyone of the right to speak. I shall give Deputies all the time they want. What more do you want?

Talk, so.

If there were 50 Deputies to speak, it would not matter to me. Surely I have the right to come in some time? What else do you want?

You are as welcome as the flowers in May. Come on in, but not to conclude.

I am at your disposal, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

In view of the fact that no other Deputy offers to speak, I am calling on the Minister to conclude.

I say there is no power to do that. I may offer myself afterwards.

Having heard the speeches of Deputies Dillon, O'Sullivan and Hughes, I feel like saying to the House: "Well, I heard all this before —all the fraud and deceit that Fianna Fáil practised on the electorate, the wheat growers and every section of the community." Just as Deputy Dillon and the others apparently hold themselves free to repeat themselves, I take it I am entitled to repeat myself also? This has been a tremendous source of satisfaction to me, as one who has been a Deputy for 35 years now, as one who came into this House in 1927 as a member of an Opposition Party, looking at the Cumann na nGaedheal Government, of which Deputy Mulcahy was a member, their conservatism, their attitude towards agriculture and industry, their defeat and despair at that time. I remember the discussion that took place in this House on the advisability of growing wheat, and I remember the attitude and the mental approach of the stalwarts of Cumann na nGaedheal in those years: it would not grow; the climate was wrong—too much rain.

It is not too good now, either.

There was nothing right with it. You could not mill it. You could not eat the bread. You could do nothing with it.

You could put a levy on it.

We had Cumann na nGaedheal from 1927 to 1931. Then, according to Cumann na nGaedheal, we had this young Party fooling the people. We were elected as a Government in 1932 and I remember the same charge being made. Deputy Dillon came into this House for the first time in 1932 and he has been making that charge of Fianna Fáil deception all down those 26 years. I would give this advice to the Party which has succeeded Cumann na nGaedheal—it has had many names in between, one of which was The League of Youth; Lord knows, they do not look a bit like it now. When I was a younger man than I am now I heard Deputies on the Cumann na nGaedheal Benches talking about our deception in 1932, 1933, 1934 and 1935, about the annuities, about the economic war and about all the steps that have been taken since.

You were putting us through it then.

We put you through it?

You certainly did.

I want to warn you because I believe there should be an Opposition in any democracy or deliberative Assembly. I want to give you the advice that will be of use to you, even if you want to remain as you are. The country knows it too well; the country understands. If the people get an opportunity of reading the concern for the wheat growers shown by Deputy Dillon, for example, and his concern for the general policy towards grain growers, they will have memories. In Irish politics, they have memories and it is well for the Irish people that they have memories. There is no member of the House so conscious of the truth of that statement as Deputy Dillon is. It is not a pleasure to be accused, but I was in doubt as to whether or not I should make a speech, whether I should take the sort of display made by Fine Gael seriously or whether I should stand up and say: "I admit all the charges that Fine Gael speakers have made against me, and I still want these Resolutions. I want this Bill and that is all about it." You may go out and quote me or make what you like of that admission or concession on my part.

I am really indifferent as to which way I should approach the discussion that has taken place. These Resolutions usually precede the Committee Stage of a Bill and there is not a solitary amendment on the Order Paper in connection with this measure that has been so much criticised by Deputies opposite. But, of course, they are talkative; they are fluent and like to hear themselves. They love to use this institution for making speeches in order to cover up their laziness. They come in to talk on the Resolutions and let off steam in an effort to convince the people down the country and their supporters that they are really active in this House. But there is no amendment to the Bill of which the Opposition is so critical. If that is political industry and if it satisfies the consciences of Deputies opposite as regards the contribution they should make, it is a matter for themselves. It is not for me to worry about it.

I have said, and I shall repeat, that I am delighted to find Deputy Dillon showing such tremendous concern for the matters to which this measure relates. I can remember the time when he made all the statements that have been levelled against him here, when he used to talk about the "yalla male" for £1 a cwt. Does the Deputy remember——

The Minister should keep to the Financial Resolution.

I am sorry; I wish to be very orderly and obedient in every way. I invite you to remind me when I transgress and I shall return to the subject at once.

I shall do that for you.

I recall with much enjoyment all these statements and demonstrations such as the "yalla male", as the Deputy used to call it, that once was provided for Monaghan farmers in order to encourage pig production. Deputy Dillon became a convert in no time and was soon growing barley and guaranteeing the price of barley and shedding completely every fundamental principle that he had enthusiastically and vehemently expressed in this House——

What Deputy Dillon did or said does not arise on the Financial Resolution, which deals solely with the imposition of a levy.

I think you are entirely right.

I always have sympathy with the Chair, but on occasions like this, the Chair is sometimes wisely lenient. I would not make the case that the Chair should be more lenient with me than anybody else, but if the Chair decides to be lenient—as it does from time to time—I should like the Chair to extend a fair share of freedom to me as to other Deputies in their strolls through every conceivable field during a discussion of this kind.

Surely the Minister is not making the case that the Chair is being harsh with him?

Indeed, I am not, Sir. I am trying to anticipate something happening about which you would be more cross——

Trying to talk about anything except the levy on wheat.

I am terribly shy about talking of a thing like that. I am terribly cowardly on that——

I thought you would be.

Come on: tell us all about it.

If Deputy Dillon wants to have it that way, I am just here trembling in my shoes for fear some organised body might launch an attack on me! I have met organised bodies of people representing farmers before; I have met organised bodies representing other sections and I have discussed serious matters with organised bodies and I sometimes found their spokesmen unable to go back to their own people and defend themselves or defend that which these spokesmen sponsored. I make no complaint about that. They are not hardened in the same sense as men in political life are hardened to the road. If I now find the grain committee of the National Farmers' Association throwing this scheme overboard, it will not be the first case of parents deserting their child. In this case, the grain committee have given indications that they may be amongst those who would be charged with deserting their child——

I am afraid the Minister is deserting the wheat growers.

Yes, let me alone so that I may say something that will damage me or damage the Government. Deputy Dillon is terribly anxious to let me go ahead. Deputies may trust me completely; I have complete control over myself. I am saying this with deliberate intent and there is no "hush-hush" about it. It does not matter in the least what the national farmers think now. Nor does it matter that the members of the grain committee have got cold feet and are unable, or are afraid, to face their own members and defend themselves and their scheme. There is provision for the scheme in this Bill and the Financial Resolution before the House is designed to provide moneys by which the scheme can be implemented. I am standing over the scheme, no matter from what source it has come. The scheme has now been adopted by me and forms the basis of the Bill which is before the House and which has given rise to the Financial Resolution. Therefore, I stand here, foursquare by it and for it, and let those outside, who have much more responsibility for it than I have, behave in whatever fashion they like.

Instead of being discommoded or in any way depressed or discouraged by all the contributions that have been made from the other side, I have really enjoyed them thoroughly. I have studied Fine Gael, Cumann na nGaedheal and the League of Youth from the time I was a young man.

That does not arise.

I have nothing but contempt for them. They were just people who had no confidence in themselves or in the country. They were flung out. They have been accusing those who have led the national advance all down these years as Deputy Dillon has been accusing us to-day and yet we are still the predominant Party. In spite of all the trials and tribulations through which the country has gone, we still have their confidence.

That does not arise.

I asked the Minister a question. Can he answer me?

The fact that the Deputy asked a question does not mean that I have to answer it.

What is the cost of the establishment of this board and what is the estimated levy on wheat due to the establishment of the board?

I shall make a calculation of that some time.

Does the Minister not think that on this occasion—having announced publicly when he first adumbrated this scheme that it was his intention to fix the levy on the basis of a calculation to be made in the month of July—he has a duty to tell the House what the levy will be? Does he not think we are entitled to have some information before Dáil Éireann adjourns for the summer Recess?

It is now only the middle of the month. There is still half the month to go. Some men whom I know, including Deputy Dillon, might not be able to do a great deal in a fortnight but a man like me can do a tremendous amount of work in that space of time. There is no knowing all the announcements I might make in the course of that time.

I am suggesting to the Minister that, inasmuch as the decision is to be taken within the next 14 days, he has a duty to this House to give us some information before the Recess. I would not have any reason to complain, if it were contemplated that Dáil Éireann should continue in session during August, if the Minister said: "I have not had time but, within the next 14 days, I shall inform the House." It is not reasonable of the Minister to treat Dáil Éireann as he is treating it now by announcing that he will withhold that information until the Dáil adjourns. We are entitled to that information when he comes to us seeking the provisions of a Bill of this kind. He is failing in his duty.

I often make dozens of important decisions every day. I have 14 days in which to make a decision in this regard. I shall make hundreds of decisions, including that one, in the course of the next 14 days. What is wrong with that?

Particularly in view of his avowal of devotion to Parliament, which he made a few moments ago, the Minister should have regard to the fact that the Government wish the House to adjourn, if possible, this week and have sought facilities to get its public business transacted to enable that to be done. He might, therefore, have reasonably said that, inasmuch as there are only a few days in the difference, he would conceive it to be his duty to take the decision in the second week of July, rather than in the third, so that he might have the opportunity of informing Dáil Éireann before it adjourned.

I do not conceive it to be my duty to do more than I promised to do.

So long as the Minister has an absolute majority, with very wide limits, he can do as he damn well likes and nobody can control it. I do not think he is doing what is right. It is my duty to draw attention to that fact. Although he has an absolute majority in the House, the Minister should not throw his weight about as, otherwise, it will be difficult to carry on parliamentary work.

If Deputy Dillon decides to put my position in that language, I cannot help it. I have committed myself to the month of July. It is not half way through the month of July. I am open to be accused by Deputy Dillon or anybody else when I break my undertaking. Majorities do not come into this. A man's mind and general attitude and a man's respect for his assurance matter in this House. I do not think I have ever broken that too badly in my life.

Question put and declared carried.
Resolution reported and agreed to.