We have seen in operation during his time of office to a remarkable extent the activities of the PRO. The PRO is a new development in democratic politics, probably one of the most pernicious developments in democratic politics in the past 20 or 30 years. When Mr. Kennedy wanted to get his son made President of America he called in the American PROs and achieved that objective. The advertising corporations achieved their objective and the American people got Kennedy as President and 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 unemployed. When Mr. Macmillan wanted to become Prime Minister he brought in Prentiss and Varley, and the British people at the moment are suffering from the repercussions of all this. Equally, we see these people in action white-washing the dictators of Southern Rhodesia, Spain, Portugal and various other countries in order to create a completely false impression of the real life in that society. The approach of the PRO is based on that of the patron saint of PROs, the late and regretted Dr. Goebbels. That was that you keep on repeating the "big lie" through all methods of communication, the newspapers, the economists, the television, the radio, hypocritical and sycophantic political commentators— the integration of the whole machinery of communication in order to put across a completely false picture of any society.
We have seen this happening during the present Taoiseach's regime in a more remarkable way than ever before in the history of the state. The PRO certainly has earned his keep as far as this Government are concerned. Despite the fact that the real structure of society here is substantially unchanged—and I hope to prove that —and that the picture is as it has been over the past 40 years of an old society, falling gradually, steadily and, in recent years, more precipitately into decay, the wonderful achievements of public relations and the perversion of communications have created the impression that, in fact, we have a society which is bubbling over with prosperity, which is surging forward in a completely new and rejuvenated life, particularly in the industrial and in the economic sphere.
This is entirely attributable to the myth created by the commentators of one kind or another, acting as they must do, prepared to say anything, write anything or do anything for the person who pays them the most. But, in spite of their achievements, since the announcement was made that Ireland now faces the prospect of entering into EEC, we are at last facing a terrible moment of truth, a moment of truth when all the front, all the facade, all the fairy tales, all the mythology about industry, about our past and about our future will be completely, ruthlessly and pitilessly exposed, because we are now about to be dragged into the harsh glare of all the competition of European industry.
Here, at home, I do not think anybody has any illusions. I do not think any of the ordinary members of the public have any illusions that the Government have completely lost control over the prices of even the most ordinary articles of consumption. Any visitor from Britain, or anywhere else, will tell you that he simply could not live in Ireland on the salary he finds adequate in England, or elsewhere. That is because of the price of food, the price of clothing, the cost of transport, of boots and shoes, and of the various ordinary articles of everyday use. There has been a complete stripping away of all semblance of price control. That was the decision of the Taoiseach, a confirmed believer in the efficacy of the dynamic of private enterprise and so-called free competition.
As we heard here at Question Time, there is no such thing as free competition. Free competition just does not exist. Instead there are cartels, monopolistic practices, rings, and so forth, of all kinds, to which the consumer falls a victim, a victim in the fact that he has to pay artificially high prices in order to ensure that artificially high profits are made, and will continue to be made, by a minority. That is the policy, even when it comes to the provision of the simplest and most basic essential needs of the ordinary men and women in our society. This is the end result of the working out of the Taoiseach's faith in private-enterprise capitalism.
We see it all now exposed as it was never before exposed because of this fortuitous event, the Common Market. Every time I have spoken I have said many of the things I am saying now, and which I will repeat again, but this time the charges that I make will not be merely personal indictments of the type of society created by the Taoiseach and by the Opposition when they were in power. My indictments are today backed by the confirmation of inquiries and commissions, established perforce by the Taoiseach and by the Government as a result of this fortuitous event, and the decision that we must now go into the Common Market.
The remarkable thing is, as I said, this extraordinary euphoria, this extraordinary sense of well-being, this extraordinary belief that everything in our society is prosperous, that things were never better. This is a particularly wonderful achievement in a society in which the Government cannot find enough money to give a proper education to the vast majority of its citizens. This boom does not allow us enough money to give our people proper health services. This is the boom society which tells the aged person that he can starve to death on 32/6 a week. Surely all this is a negation of the proposition that this is a prosperous society.
It is a prosperous society. It is prosperous for a wealthy minority. The whole economic organisation of our society has, since the beginning, been dedicated to creating this wealthy minority and, having created it, to giving them all the privileges of wealth, access to the universities, access to the best hospitals and nursing homes, access to the best in everything, access to plenty, and old age, with dignity, when the time comes to grow old and retire. But all this is for a wealthy minority. That is the privileged society we now have. The Taoiseach is an extremely intelligent man and he knew what he was doing; this is the end product of what he had in mind for Ireland when he joined the freedom movement to create an independent society here.
We have quite clearly got a serious discrepancy between the standard of living of the wealthy minority and the standard of living of the mass of our people. In addition, we still have a considerable number of unemployed, fewer than there were but, as Deputy Dillon pointed out, it is very difficult in a small society, such as ours, for people to continue to emigrate from a continually shrinking society. It is very difficult, too, to keep up a high level of unemployment in a continually shrinking society. The important thing is the number of jobs now available, the important thing is the number of people now in work, and the number in work six or seven years ago.
In addition to all this, we have seen here the mark of the Taoiseach on industrial relations. We had the introduction by him of the totalitarian fascist legislation directed against the electricians when they wanted to take industrial action and withdraw their labour. We well remember the complete debacle—again fortuitous—in which this effort ended. The TUC would not stand for it. They issued a statement to that effect and they made the Taoiseach, in one of the most humiliating episodes I remember in public life, climb down. He came in in the morning, a complete autocrat, thumping the table and threatening five years in jail for the whole lot of us; it was only the workers, but also the trade union representatives, and anyone who advocated strike action. At eight or nine o'clock that night, the legislation was thrown out. The important thing was that it did give most of us a window on the mind. It did give us some idea of his attitude.
We have this autocracy where it comes to the right of the individual to withdraw labour if he feels he is not sufficiently remunerated, the negation of this right where he is concerned, and then this absolute rejection of the suggestion at any time that there should be an attempt at price control, dividend restriction, profit restriction. That any of these people who make money out of other people's work should be asked to curb their income, their profits, their dividends, is unthinkable to the Taoiseach, his attitude being that they have a right to whatever they can get—whatever you can get is right. We see the development of a society here where there is no limit to the amount of money which a man can get, a society in which he is facilitated by the refusal of the Government to act in order to curb prices even in respect of essential commodities.
The attitude of the Government has remained unchanged in spite of the fact that the Government know full well that in regard to the circulation of essential commodities there are restrictive trading practices of one kind or another. No action has been taken in order to try to restrict inflationary trends at that stage by restricting prices, restricting dividends, restricting profits. The approach by the Taoiseach has always been to try to restrict what he calls inflationary trends by curbing the income of the worker.
Now we hear that, having made a serious miscalculation in attacking the trade union leaders with the workers at that time, he realises that is a serious miscalculation and he is not going to do it again and this time he appears to want to or intends to bring the trade union leaders along with him in order to try to bring in here restrictive legislation of some kind or another for the purpose of refusing the worker the right to withdraw his labour if he feels he is not being sufficiently well or adequately compensated for what work he is doing so that he will have enough money to pay for the education, the clothing, the feeding and the housing of his family. However, that is something for the future. It will have to be fought then.
We have seen also with the Taoiseach the attitude concerning mineral development where the general principle has been accepted that we will not develop our own mineral resources, that we have allowed foreign countries to come in here and to take whatever mineral riches we have and bring them to their own country. All we ask as our contribution is some compensation for the landowner and then employment at mining workers' wages during the period when these riches will be taken out, when the countryside will be raped of the small mineral resources we have. That is all that we ask out of it. He has played for Ireland, I suppose it would be right to say, the Mr. Tshombe, the stooge of the Union Miniére in Katanga. He has played much the same part, unlike some of the other emergent countries. God knows, we should no longer be called an emergent country. Algeria has done its best. There have been Nasser, Nkrumah, Nehru, Mrs. Bandaranaike. Most of these other countries have attempted to see that if they have any mineral resources at all, these mineral resources are developed for the benefit of their own people and not in order, according as the share rises, to give quick money to Canadians, Americans, Swedes, British or any other outsiders. These countries, when they look for capital abroad, have tried and have many times succeeded in getting their capital without strings and the first thing they set out to do was to develop whatever mineral resources they have for their own people.
We, surely, should not have continued to have the intinn sclábhaíochta attitude to ourselves and our own people, our own technicians and technocrats, our physicians, scientists, physicists and mathematicians. Surely we have got to the stage now where it is possible for us to take on any worthwhile enterprise? If it is worth the Canadian's trouble to come to Ireland and go down to Mayo and Galway and take silver, lead or whatever it may be out of it, why cannot our own people do this? Why cannot we find the money?
The Taoiseach has often said, the Minister for Finance has often proved, that every time he has gone to the people looking for money for any worthwhile developmental project his loans are oversubscribed. He has repeatedly declared, and has a certain amount of right to have pride in it, that his loans are oversubscribed. The public is ready to make this money available. The riches are there; the technicians are there. Why do we bring in these outsiders? Why do we not do these things ourselves? Why is it that we have to reverse the world trend, particularly the trend in the Afro-Asian countries? They are getting rid of the people who exploited them physically or economically. They are getting rid of them and we are inviting them back. The reoccupation of Ireland is going on.
But, all of this is of relative unimportance when we consider the decision of the Government to look for full membership of the Common Market. Our position is rather unique in so far as we are looking for membership of the Common Market. We are not members of NATO and we were not members of the European Free Trade Association. Consequently, it seemed to us that this decision must be one taken only after the greatest care, naturally, but the greatest care particularly to examine what would be the best bargain, putting it crudely, for Ireland and for our people.
We get the impression that the Taoiseach has not examined all the possibilities sufficiently carefully and we also get the impression that the Taoiseach has entertained this whole idea with an overwhelming inferiority complex. His attitude appears to be that, right or wrong, good or evil, success or failure, we are going into this Common Market and, what is worse, we are going into this Common Market on any terms and, what is worse still, with regard to the extension of the idea of the Common Market as an economic unit to being a political unit and a unit involving defence commitments, we are now accepting the second and third conditions unconditionally. As far as I know—and I have tried very hard to get as much information as I could from the Taoiseach on this—when we looked for membership of the Common Market under the Rome Treaty, we were simply committed to join an economic unit of unity in Europe. We now know that this has been expanded very considerably and in an underhand way, to include membership of a political unit and membership of some kind of defence pact.
Could we ask why we did not seriously consider the possibility of joining EEC as associate members? The Taoiseach made it clear in his White Paper that it was possible to become a member by association rather than to become a full member and in so far as the position is not completely clarified—there is no blueprint of detailed conditions of associate membership—he quoted the position in relation to Greece, an under-developed society which felt it could not accept full membership. I cannot see what objection we could have had to considering seriously taking membership on the Greek pattern. It is regrettable that we need it, but I think everybody will agree that we do need as long a period as possible before getting rid of all our protective tariffs. I may have more to say about that but, accepting the reality of the situation, I think we should look for the longest possible period for dismantlement of tariffs, even if it is only in order to protect the workers in their employment.
In respect of a special list of products which includes almost all the industrial products of Greece, they got an extended transitional period of 22 years. They were given certain rights in regard to the imposition of customs duties or increasing existing ones up to 25 per cent of certain imports from EEC countries. They had access to the European Investment Bank. They had certain conditions granted to them in relation to agricultural commodities. In the case of certain agricultural products of major interest to the Greek colonies, the Community would appear to have agreed to grant broadly the terms that apply to the same products in Member States. On this analogy, a new applicant for association might expect special terms for its more important products.
Perhaps the Taoiseach would be more specific about it, but, broadly speaking, if one takes our industrial and agricultural products and our right of access to the European Investment Bank, it would appear it is possible to negotiate some sort of agreement which would not interfere with our country or Greece, as the case in point, and which would create a viable industrial and agricultural economy. One of the important things in relation to associate membership of the EEC is the fluidity of the conditions. There is no clear-cut blueprint. In fact, that is one of the things the Taoiseach said about it, that it was difficult to say what would precisely be implied in associate membership, but it is clear there is scope for negotiating in regard to industrial and agricultural products and in regard to any loans we might want. It is capable of adaptation to suit our special needs and now that we have heard that Sweden and a number of EFTA countries have agreed to accept association, it is very difficult to see why we cannot accept it rather than complete membership, with all the very serious implications for industry and possibly for agriculture which may ensue from it.
The only one point which I think could be made is in relation to the voting powers in the EEC. The associated country has no voting powers but the position in regard to votes is that the three major countries, Germany, France and Italy—and presumably Britain when she becomes a member—have four votes each; Belgium and the Netherlands have two votes each and Luxembourg has one vote. I presume we would be in with Luxembourg with one vote. In regard to voting on matters of policy, economic, foreign or industrial policy, in the early stages the decisions must be unanimous, but as time progresses, I understand voting will be by means of a qualified majority. Therefore, there is very little likelihood that we shall have any real say in the formulation of policy by the EEC powers, and this apparent position of authority, power to vote, is merely a shadow or has little substance. It is hardly worth the other very serious penalties we are likely to have to pay, if we accept entry into the Common Market as a full member.
I should like to ask the Taoiseach whether having considered the question of associate membership, it would be possible to get the same conditions for Ireland in relation to agricultural and industrial products as it appears the British are holding out for on behalf of the other Commonwealth countries. Would it have been possible for us to have looked for and achieved a special position comparable with the position which is being bargained for in relation to the Commonwealth countries and would that have been a satisfactory position from our point of view? It is one which is apparently of great concern to the Commonwealth and presumably they will have to make other arrangements for the disposal of their surpluses. I cannot see why, if we were given enough time, we should not be able to make similar adaptations and why we should not get much the same sort of conditions if we look for them.
It is clear now, and it has become clearer since the interview given by the Taoiseach to the New York newspaper, that there are three different components of membership—one, economic, two, political and three, defence commitments. I do not think there is any doubt in anybody's mind now that this is the most serious decision we have taken probably in the lifetime of any of us, if we go into the European Economic Community. It is quite clear from the text of the Rome Treaty and the other agreements into which we intend to enter that we will accept for Ireland interference in the rights of this Parliament to decide finally in regard to its own economic policy—possibly its political and its defence policies, but certainly in relation to its economic policy.
We have recently seen an example of this when the Belgian Government was forbidden to carry out semi-nationalisation of its coal mining industry. They were told this infringed the Rome Treaty and their Parliament had to reverse the decision and had to become subordinate to the supra-national Parliament now being established under the EEC. Are we quite satisfied that whatever gains we get out of membership—a minority membership—of this organisation is worth the great sacrifices we shall have to make?
Already we have seen ourselves sacrifice our uncommitted position in the United Nations Organisation. It is quite clear now that Deputy Aiken, who is talking today and who spoke three or four years ago as our Minister for External Affairs, is a completely different man. He is taking sides pretty consistently nowadays with the former colonial powers. One of the things which created the aura of independence about our delegation in the United Nations was the fact that we were always found on the side of the newly-emergent countries—the peoples who were just getting on to their feet as a result of the evacuation of whatever colonial powers were kicked out of a particular country. We showed ourselves to Nkrumah, Mboya, Nehru—above all, the greatest independent politician in the world today —as people who could take an independent stand.
We took an independent stand with those people and when they took a particular stand, we sided with them. We could be accepted by them as not being tied as an old tin can to a dog's tail, to the dictates of the Americans, the British, the French or the Belgians who may be indicted before the United Nations at any time. Quite clearly in relation to the Congo, we did not take an independent stand in respect to the position of Patrice Lumumba when we allowed him to be harried, hunted, humiliated and finally shot by the Belgian colonialists.
It was clear afterwards there was positive action we could have taken at that time, if we had not succumbed to the pressure put on us by the Belgian, British and American financial interests in the Katanga copper mines. It was afterwards shown clearly that it was possible in certain circumstances to use force in order to deal with and bring to heel the quisling Tshombe. But we did not take any part in such an act until it was too late, until the only worthwhile leader the Congolese might have had, Lumumba, was shot. Then, we took action.
Again, it was quite clear that our troops in the Congo were saved probably from very serious results, possibly the death of a number of them, not by the action of Deputy Aiken as our Minister for External Affairs or of the Government acting under the Taoiseach, but by the action of Dr. Conor Cruise O'Brien, an independent civil servant who had to resign rather than continue to follow policies which he knew were in contradiction to those which should have been followed by a society such as ours. Both the Minister for External Affairs, who was the Minister primarily responsible, and the Taoiseach stood over the sacking of this civil servant, one of the finest we have ever had, and saw the disappearance of Dr. O'Brien and Miss MacEntee from the Civil Service and later from Ireland altogether.
A country which can dispense with people of such high calibre is a country certainly which places a very poor value on people of integrity, people of honour, and it is a very poor comment on the Government that they allowed that civil servant to be humiliated in that way in the United Nations, without raising a single word in his defence.
I do not think anybody should have any illusions about the real meaning of the Common Market. It has its purposes, as far as I can see. The first of them is the fact that European capitalists, private enterprise, whatever you like to call them, found the national boundaries of their own countries did not allow them to take as great profits within their own boundaries as they might take if they could get us all into a nice consortium of nations in which they were free to rob and pillage as they saw fit under the rules of the Rome Treaty.
It is quite clear that Imperial Chemicals Incorporated, Courtaulds and all the other British, German, French and Italian monopolies are not in the slightest interested in creating a society in which the mass of the people will get a better life. They are interested in profits; they will sell anything for profits. They have shown that in the past. They make war for profits; they make explosives for profits; they make guns for profits; they kill people for profits. This is not an idealised version of this group of central European industrialists get- ting together and saying: "We can make things better for our people". What they say is: "Let us get together and make things better for ourselves. Let us get into a tidy, neat cartel through which we can have access to the whole of Europe for markets and can protect ourselves by cartelised arrangements".
What is happening in the Common Market and what is going to happen there is mirrored every day in most of our towns and villages—the supermarket. The supermarket is gobbling up, one after the other, the little gombeen shops which admittedly never had competition anyway because they were subject to restrictive trade practices. The unfortunate consumer is under the impression that this is in his interest, that it will mean lower prices, cleaner and quicker service and be an administrative improvement on the gombeen shops. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is a trade-war, a cut-price war, going on but only for the simple reason that they wish to put these people who are possible competitors out of business. That achieved, a monopolistic position will be reached and the prices will go back to the former high level and the public will then be the hunted animal, fair game, open season all the year round, any price you can get. We heard this at Question Time today: it was fair enough to buy at 15 and sell at 50. That was a fair profit—a fair profit was whatever you could get.
This is the so-called private enterprise capitalism. But returning to the comparison, the little gombeen shop in the Common Market happens to be us, Ireland, because anybody with a grain of sense knows that none of the fiddling industries—and the majority of them are fiddling—which we have here will be able to stand on their feet against the competition of international cartels. When you see ICI and Courtaulds huddling together for safety——
Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,