To my mind, this Budget sets the seal on Fianna Fáil failure as a Government since 1957. I think all Deputies, particularly perhaps Fianna Fáil Deputies, are conscious that this is the last Budget the present Fianna Fáil Government will be presenting. I venture to suggest that having regard to their failure and their record, it will be the last Budget the Fianna Fáil Party will be presenting to this House. It is, I think, the fifth Budget of the Minister for Finance. On this occasion neither he nor any member of his Party can make the excuses that were trotted out year after year when the Fianna Fáil Party were challenged with regard to their performance and asked to measure their record so far as performance went with the inducements held out to the electorate on the occasion of the last general election.
I think no Fianna Fáil Deputy will dispute the fact that Fianna Fáil went before the people in the general election of 1957 with three or four main points of propaganda. They complained that the cost of living was too high. Of course, the corollary to that was: "Put Fianna Fáil in and the cost of living, if it does not come down, at any rate will not increase any more". Their second complaint was that emigration was running at too high a level and again the corollary to that was: "Put Fianna Fáil in office; stem the flow of emigration; and keep our people at home." Their third principal complaint was that unemployment was too high. They really went to town on the question of unemployment in 1957 and leading up to the general election of 1957. I daresay there is not a single Fianna Fáil Deputy whose ears do not turn red when he repeats softly to himself the slogans used in the general election: "Wives, put your husbands to work"; "Unemployment is the best test of Government policy", and all the rest of them.
We were told during and prior to the general election that taxation both central and local was too high. We were told that there were too many civil servants. I want to invite Fianna Fáil Deputies to compare for a few moments their performance now over a period of nearly five years of office as against that long list of inducements held out to the electorate in 1957. I know there are Fianna Fáil Deputies who are sensitive if they are reminded they made promises or pledges or undertakings to the people at the general election. I do not want to stand on their sensitive corns. I shall not accuse them of making promises, knowing they would not be able to carry them out, or giving assurances, knowing they would not be able to carry them out, or giving undertakings knowing they would not be able to carry them out.
I will suggest, and I do not think any Fianna Fáil Deputy will disagree with me, that these inducements were held out to the people and because the people believed Fianna Fáil would be able to perform what they were holding out to them, Fianna Fáil were elected as the Government in 1957. I do not rely entirely on my own opinion on that because, when the Minister for Defence came into the Dáil in the early days after the general election of 1957, he recorded for posterity the reasons the Fianna Fáil Government were elected. Speaking here on 15th May, 1957, as reported at Column 1284 of the Official Report, the Minister said:
In my opinion and in the opinion of any fair-minded person who even now goes back and looks over the speeches made in the election campaign it is beyond all doubt that we were put in here as a Government to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of mass unemployment and emigration brought about by the previous Government.
So we had the Minister for Defence talking as a Minister of this Government and telling the people that any fair-minded person would know that Fianna Fáil were elected to office for the purpose of ending a situation of mass unemployment and emigration.
It is not easy to get figures regarding emigration from the Government but some time shortly before Christmas the matter was raised in the British House of Commons and the figures were made available there. The information given to the British House of Commons showed that, in the two years 1958 and 1959, practically 123,000 persons left this country, excluding the six counties in the north, to obtain work in England. So, in those two years alone, emigration from this State, under a Fianna Fáil régime, elected, in the words of the Minister for Defence, to bring an end to a situation of mass unemployment and emigration, that number of persons left the country for employment. After three years of office they succeeded, in the years 1958 and 1959, in having emigration running at a level of over 60,000 people per annum going to England alone and that is leaving out of the count people who emigrated to America, New Zealand, Australia and elsewhere. Will any Fianna Fáil Deputy, in face of those figures, have the nerve or the complacency to claim today that Fianna Fáil have honoured their commitments to the people, so far as emigration is concerned?
What about unemployment? We remember all the talk about 1956 as the black year so far as employment and unemployment were concerned. What is the position after Fianna Fáil have been in office for close on five years with a majority over every other Party and combination of Parties in the Dáil, with the authority to put into operation any scheme, plan or proposal they think fit? What is the position regarding employment now as compared with the so-called black year of 1956? The Statistical Abstract containing the official figures published by the Government shows that as between the years 1956 and 1959, employment in non-agricultural activities decreased by 26,000 persons. In non-agricultural activities, there were 26,000 more people in employment in the so-called black year of 1956 than there were after three or four years of Fianna Fáil effort as a Government. In the agricultural sphere, including forestry and fishing, employment had decreased as between 1956 and 1959 by 25,000 persons, making a total of 51,000 fewer people in jobs in this country at the end of 1959 as compared with the so-called black year of 1956. Does the Minister, or any of the Deputies supporting him, feel they have honoured their commitments to the people in having allowed that situation to develop?
"Wives, put your husbands back to work." How will the housewives of this city and country feel when Fianna Fáil Deputies go before them within the next few months at another general election? Will Fianna Fáil resurrect that slogan at the next general election? What will they manufacture to replace it? But it was not merely a question of slogans. One might be inclined to forgive the Fianna Fáil Party if they were today prepared to make the excuse: "Oh, those were merely slogans; they were merely the ordinary bombastic puffings you would expect from a Fianna Fáil Party." But it did not end there. It was not merely a question of the bombastic puffings one might expect from the Fianna Fáil Party. It went further. The Taoiseach in his campaign to have Fianna Fáil elected gave his views in a series of presumably well thought out speeches regarding the Fianna Fáil policy which would be implemented if Fianna Fáil were elected as a Government.
We all remember the way the figure of 100,000 jobs was bandied about. I think everyone was justified in assuming that Fianna Fáil intended to imply that they had a plan for 100,000 jobs. I gather from discussions in this House since that this is another point on which Fianna Fáil now feel sensitive; they argue there never was a plan for 100,000 jobs. There were merely proposals for discussion. They have had four or five years to complete their discussions and the result is, not 100,000 new jobs, but 51,000 fewer people in employment.
The Taoiseach addressed a meeting, with other Fianna Fáil candidates, in the Dublin South Central constituency. As reported in the Irish Press of 23rd February, 1957, he laid it down as a test of Government policy:
The policy of any Government should be judged by its effect on employment. If it is putting more people into work, it is all right. If it is putting them out of work, it is all wrong.
I would invite Fianna Fáil Deputies now to ponder on that statement of the Taoiseach in the context of the figures now before them and with the knowledge that they have succeeded in their term in office in putting out of employment 51,000 people who were in good employment in their own country before Fianna Fáil became a Government in 1957.
Here is another quotation from the Irish Press of 16th February, 1957. On this occasion, the Taoiseach, speaking in Drogheda, said:
Unless the policy of the Government is successful in putting people to work, in giving a chance of getting work to all who are dependent on it for their livelihood, it is not good enough. The aim of any worthwhile policy must be full employment.
When one considers the talk about the Fianna Fáil plan for 100,000 jobs, their various election speeches, their various slogans during the general election, no Fianna Fáil Deputy can afford to deny that Fianna Fáil were elected to office for the purpose of putting people to work and for the purpose of ending unemployment.
I have already mentioned the statement made in this House by the Minister for Defence when, presumably in his enthuasism and possibly in his rawness as a fresh Fianna Fáil Deputy and a new Minister, he thought Fianna Fáil were going to end emigration and unemployment; he had no hesitation in coming in here and saying that any fairminded person who read the election speeches would not hesitate in saying that Fianna Fáil were elected to office for the purpose of ending a situation of mass unemployment and emigration.
What about the cost of living? I have dealt with emigration and unemployment. What about the cost of living? I was amused yesterday to hear the pride in Deputy Loughman's voice when he announced to this House that food subsidies are dead. Food subsidies are dead. They are as dead as the dodo. Who murdered them? Who killed the food subsidies? Who removed them? Was it not the present Minister for Finance, backed by Deputy Loughman and every other Deputy in the Fianna Fáil Party? Of course the food subsidies are dead. Were the people told during the general election that if Fianna Fáil were elected to office, the food subsidies would be slashed and that five years hence we would have a Fianna Fáil Deputy standing up here and announcing that the food subsidies are dead?
I do not want to weary the House with quotations. I have them here if I am challenged. Will any Fianna Fáil Deputy deny that in the course of the last general election, again applying the same test and measure as the Minister for Defence applied, there was implicit in the speeches made by both the Taoiseach and his immediate predecessor an assurance that the food subsidies would not be interfered with by a Fianna Fáil Government? Were the people not told on the eve of the election that it was all nonsense to say that Fianna Fáil would allow the price of foodstuffs to increase, that Fianna Fáil had never done what their opponents said they would do, and the Taoiseach, in his usual emphatic way, went so far as to ask the electors how emphatic could he make his denials that there would be no increase in the price of foodstuffs if Fianna Fáil were elected to office?
I put down a Parliamentary Question which was answered here on 11th of this month with regard to the prices of certain commodities. I asked with regard to the five commodities in particular, over four of which Fianna Fáil, as a Government, had control and in respect of one of which Fianna Fáil had no control whatsoever. When I read out the answer given to that question, I do not think any Deputy will have much difficulty in guessing which is the commodity over which this Government had no control.
I asked with regard to butter, bread, flour, sugar and coal. I wanted to find out the prices of these articles in February, 1957, and in February, 1961. I was told that Irish creamery butter in mid-February, 1957, cost 3/8¾d. a lb., and in mid-February, 1961, 4/6¾d. I was told that farmers' butter was 3/4¾d. in 1957, and 3/10¼d. in 1961.; I was told household flour per 14-lb. bag cost 4/2½d. in 1957 and 8/2¼d. in February, 1961. Bread, for a 2-lb. loaf, was 9d. in 1957 and 1/3¼d. in 1961; sugar per lb. was 7d. in 1957 and 7½d. in 1961; coal, per cwt., was 11/2¼d. in 1957 and it is now 8/9¼d.
Coal was the one commodity over which the Government had no control. It is the only commodity in that long list that has gone down in price as between 1957 and 1961. Every other commodity, all of them foodstuffs which the ordinary individual, be he rich or poor, has to buy daily in order to keep body and soul together, has gone up in price. Was that an accident? Was it something Fianna Fáil could not do anything about? All these commodities were put up in price by deliberate positive action of the Government in their decision to remove the food subsidies, so that in addition to falling down, as far as their policy on emigration was concerned, in addition to falling down on the question of unemployment, Fianna Fáil have been a dismal failure as far as the cost of living is concerned.
We were told taxation rates were too high. Prior to the general election, we had the Taoiseach talking from these benches proudly announcing that the previous Government, of which he was a member, had come to a firm decision with regard to taxation—that there was to be no increase. Again, I do not want to weary the House with quotations. What has happened as between 1956 and 1961 is well known to Deputies. There has been an increase in the figures shown in the Book of Estimates of more than £22½ million and local taxation has increased since 1956 by more than £3½ million. I mentioned this to the House already, but there is no harm in mentioning it again: in the year 1956, one of the prominent Fianna Fáil spokesmen in the House at that time—he is not so prominent nowdays—Deputy O'Malley, contributed to a debate in the House on March 14th, 1956. He is reported at column 536 of Volume 155 of the Official Report as follows:
The local authorities—the people —cannot pay any more in rates. The only solution of a constructive nature, as far as I can see, is that the Government should give the example. How could the Government do that? In my humble opinion the Government should give the example at the top. Take one example—the Department of Justice. Does everybody not know that the Department of Justice, instead of costing the taxpayers some £100,000, could be equally competently carried on by the Minister for Defence? Everyone knows the Minister for Defence could be Minister for Justice as well and carry on both Departments.
He said that if the Department of Justice were run by a Parliamentary Secretary, the cost of government could be reduced. Amalgamation of the two Departments was the cure which would save the people of this country £100,000 a year. Even in that little thing, what did Fianna Fáil do? We still have a Minister for Defence; we still have a Minister for Justice; and, for good measure, instead of amalgamating the two Departments, Fianna Fáil decided they would create a Parliamentary Secretaryship as well for the Department of Justice.
National taxation has gone up; local taxation has gone up. There was yet another promised reduction prior to the last general election on the lines of the general theme of Deputy O'Malley's speech in 1956. They then promised that there was to be a reduction in the Civil Service. Remember how we were told we were getting top-heavy because there were too many civil servants and that Government spending had to be reduced. Remember how we were told that the way to reduce it was by cutting down the Civil Service. What has happened? In the four years since, the Civil Service has grown in numbers by something over 100 a year. On the last occasion that I know of on which figures were made available in this House, the Civil Service showed an increase in member-shop of 500 since Fianna Fáil were elected in 1957.
Other Deputies have mentioned the fact that quite apart from these matters —increases in the cost of living, a continued high rate of emigration, fewer people going to work, with the exception of the Civil Service—we have increased postal charges and we have put up the price of insurance stamps, increased Health Act charges, put up bus fares and only today an increase was announced in the price of gas. All this is notwithstanding the fact that there is £9,000,000 taken out of the Book of Estimates which was there for the previous Government and Governments before them to cover food subsidies. Fianna Fáil, because they abolished the food subsidies, have to find £9,000,000 a year less than the Governments who went before them. They are not content with the heavy saving of £9,000,000—which was, of course, £9,000,000 additional to be borne by the people as awhole—but find it necessary to increase Health Act charges, insurance stamp prices, postal charges and a variety of charges.
It is no wonder that I said and that others hold that this Budget sets the seal on four and a half years of Fianna Fáil failure. They have given some reliefs. I do not think it is any great thanks to them. The social welfare reliefs are going to cost something in the region of £600,000 a year. When one considers that figure in relation to the 200,000, or possibly 250,000, of our people who have emigrated since Fianna Fáil came to office one sees how miserably insignificant the figure is. It equals something like £3 per head on every person who emigrated in the last four years. Surely the wealth we are losing by these people emigrating is far greater than that? Surely if Fianna Fáil had a policy which would keep these people at home and give them employment of a productive character, they would earn far more than £3 a year? Yet it is to £3 a year per head on those emigrating that the Fianna Fáil social welfare benefits in this Budget approximate.
As I said when I started, no Fianna Fáil Deputy would be able to make any excuses when discussing the Budget. Their excuses are exhausted and their lifetime as a Government is practically exhausted. I shall finish by leaving them with one thought. In the last election one of the famous slogans they used was: "Let us get cracking." They are going to go before the people in a few months' time but they have shown the people that they are cracked and cracked wide open.