Skip to main content
Normal View

Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 19 May 1965

Vol. 215 No. 12

Committee on Finance. - Resolution No. 20—General (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:
That it is expedient to amend the law relating to customs and inland revenue (including excise) and to make further provision in connection with Finance.—(Minister for Finance.)

When I reported progress last night, I was expressing regret at the fact that no provision had been made for any improvement in children's allowances. This is indeed regrettable because costs of all sorts have increased considerably, for food, clothes, footwear, bus fares, school books and school fees. At this age children are particularly hard on clothes and in most cases eat more than an adult. This is something which should not have been overlooked when reliefs of one sort or another were being provided. This might have or could have an adverse effect on the health and the education of the children and in some cases it might not be the children who would suffer, because parents are prepared to make sacrifices in order to give their children a chance. It is well to remember that these are the same people who have to carry an increase of 16 per cent in rates in the present year. The householder is being called upon to bear too great a share of the total tax burden.

We on this side of the House are pleased with the social welfare benefits that have been given and we have been advocating these improvements for a considerable time. During the recent election campaign, we insisted that these improvements could and should be made. It was only in the very latter part of the election campaign that the Taoiseach agreed to consider some sort of programme of social reform in conjunction with the Programme for Economic Expansion. I hope the benefits and the improvements which have been given in this Budget represent the first stage in a full-scale social welfare programme such as the Taoiseach promised.

It must be a matter of great disappointment to many people that no provision whatever has been made for improvements in the health services. Improvements in the health services were considered so urgent after the election of 1961 that a Select Committee was set up to consider the whole matter of health services. Everybody knows the history of that Select Committee and I do not intend to refer to it further except to say that all during the period of its existence, it was used as an excuse for making no improvement whatever in the health services. It was not unnatural, therefore, that all of us should have expected that some provision would have been made in this Budget to bring about a change in the situation.

One aspect of the health services to which everybody is referring is that of mental defectives. That Commission has reported and it was felt that here, too, there must be some provision made for improving the amount of accommodation there is for mentally retarded children. I do not think there is any Deputy who was not confronted with this problem in his own consituency on many occasions, more especially in relation to severely retarded children who cause an immense amount of trouble in their homes. It is high time that adequate provision was made for accommodation for this type of mentally retarded children.

Not only did the people expect that there would be provision for better health services but they expected that, at one and the same time, the health services would be provided on a basis that would relieve the rates. We are told now that the position is being reviewed by the Minister for Health. It would not surprise me if the Minister comes to the conclusion, having read all the material at his disposal—and I am aware that he has an immense amount of material at his disposal, especially as a result of the sittings of this Select Committee—that the only reasonable way to provide adequate health services is on the basis of insurance. I am quite sure he will admit that, as the Government have, in relation to this Budget, admitted that we on this side of the House were right in a considerable area of the policy which we are proposing.

There must be relief in rates because rates are becoming an intolerable burden. In 1956 we were collecting, in round figures, £17 million in rates. The figure for 1965 is £29 million, and in the present year there is an increase of 16 per cent. The unfortunate part of this is that it is all falling on the shoulders of householders and no relief has been provided for them. There is no relief for them by way of income tax allowance. We were promised a general review of the rating system. Unfortunately, nothing seems to be happening; at least, there is no evidence that relief is on its way during the present year.

The Budget shows an increase of £4½ million for housing. In referring to housing, I do not propose to go back to the years 1955 and 1956. We have heard those figures trotted out so often that we know them by heart. There is not much point in providing £4½ million extra for housing unless we have some assurance that it will be spent. Last year, we spent £1½ million less than we had provided in the Estimates. There may be fairly obvious reasons for that. Strikes of one sort or another entered into it. I am greatly afraid that trouble is on its way in this sector. In fact, it is there already. I am convinced we will arrive at the end of this year to find that that £4½ million extra will not be spent.

I say that for a number of reasons. In the first quarter of the present year, the amount of money paid out in loans for SDA houses by Dublin County Council has been reduced almost to half already. The reason for that is the enormous increase in the cost of housing and the fact that there has been no recent review of Government loans and grants for houses. Consequently, the amount of money to be found by the purchaser over and above what he gets by way of loan and grant is beyond his means in most cases. It amounts to anything from £700 to £900. The valuation the local authority puts on the house bears little or no relation to the actual sale price of the house. In this way many people anxious to own their own houses are no longer able to do so.

This is something the Government will have to deal with. A serious slump is on its way. In fact, it is here already. The building societies, as we all know, have closed down or have practically closed down. I was glad to hear the Minister for Local Government say last week that he was meeting the representatives of the building societies to discuss this matter with them. I do not know what has been the result. If the building societies say they have not got the money, is it proposed to provide them with sufficient money to carry them over this difficult period and allow the housing programme to proceed? It will be extremely bad for the country if the housing programme, which is insufficient as it stands, is allowed to slump any more. Housing is probably our greatest social need at present. If we allow a slump, even for a short period, we are going to lose the limited number of skilled personnel we have on building construction. They will emigrate and we will be in a worse position than ever before.

Another reason why I believe this £4½ million extra will not be spent is the reluctance of the Minister for Local Government to give local authorities the power to go ahead and do their own jobs. If he was prepared to say to them: "You want so many houses built. There is the money. Do not come back to me for all the different permissions," then we certainly would spend money on local authority housing. I believe that is the only way to get houses built. Public representatives on local authorities do not know where they stand. The Department are always blamed, and one does not know whether or not that blame is correctly placed.

No relief has been provided in respect of personal allowances for income tax. These allowances were fixed a considerable time ago. They bear no relation to their original value. It is disappointing that there has been no change there.

The Minister in the course of his radio speech referred to "aid to agriculture" amounting to £53 million. That has annoyed many farmers. In their view and in my view, it is wrong to describe that as "aid to agriculture". It includes the entire administration of the Department of Agriculture. When we refer to the money provided for other industries, we do not refer to it as aid. That gives the wrong impression. Considerable aid is given to agriculture here, but we have to remember the part agriculture plays in our economy and its importance to the country. The amount of aid made available to farming should be high. Our whole economy depends on it. Farmers have said that this Budget is a betrayal because it provides nothing whatever for farming over and above what they had been getting in previous years. This year they expected from previous discussions to get a number of reliefs, not least among them a relief in rates.

A considerable number of people are leaving the land each year. The unfortunate thing is that the number of extra jobs being provided outside agriculture is not sufficient. There is nothing in this Budget to give the impression that we are going to create any greater number of employment opportunities in the coming year. There is ample evidence in the last quarter of last year and the first quarter of this year that there has been, in fact, a considerable slowing down. That would indicate to me less rather than more employment. The test of any economic programme here is whether or not it is able not only to maintain employment but reduce unemployment and emigration.

One gets the impression that the Government are perfectly happy about the growth rate here. We are told it is proceeding according to the targets set in the Second Programme. So long as we have 75,000 people unprovided for—that is, approximately 50,000 unemployed and 25,000 emigrating—we should not be satisfied. In fact, we cannot be satisfied.

The targets in the Second Programme for Economic Expansion are, I believe, insufficient. I believe they may deliberately have been fixed low so that the Government can at any time say, once we are approaching these targets, or achieving them, that the country is going very well. It is quite obvious that the country is not going well. The real acid test of any economic programme is whether it is able to maintain employment. Is it able to reduce unemployment and emigration? It is in that direction we fail here. There is no incentive in this Budget and no stimulant to reactivate the economy. The economy is flagging. There are many things we could do that we are not doing.

The Industrial Development Authority and the machinery generally for the establishment of industry are proving unequal to the task. That should be evident to all of us by now. A greater effort should be made to set up an organisation capable of establishing new industry and expanding existing industry. Once industries are established, very little interest is shown in them afterwards. That is a great mistake because one industry can very often lead to another if there is some body or Department responsible for promotional work.

Industry is the only area left to us in which to create new employment opportunities. It is quite obvious that more and more people will leave the land. It is quite obvious that as we become more efficient in our production efforts, as the agricultural industry becomes more streamlined and mechanised, we will have more redundancy, and our efforts will have to be very great indeed if we are to find employment for the people and stop emigration.

We are no better off now in the machinery we have for the establishment of industry and the promotion of industrial opportunities than we were ten years ago. This organisation is not improving and this is an area in which we want considerable improvement. The organisation may not be big enough. There are too many bodies responsible and no one body completely responsible. We have had for some time now—practically a year —the recommendations of the American survey team for the improvement of Irish commercial fishings and they indicate that the possibilities of our fisheries are quite considerable. In the introduction they say there is optimism concerning the future of commercial fisheries in Ireland and this industry can provide many more well paying jobs than it now does. They make recommendations for the setting up of processing units and the purchasing of larger boats and various other improvements that would provide employment, badly needed employment. That is only one example of the various directions in which we could look for opportunities to find more employment for our people.

As I have said, we are falling down badly on the job. It does not give us any pleasure on this side of the House to criticise the Government because they are not able to find these employment opportunities. It would certainly please me much more if they were doing far better in that particular respect.

The Taoiseach, in the course of his speech, asked for co-operation and constructive criticism. He is more likely to get that constructive criticism from this side of the House if he refrains from making statements about our policy in relation to a just society and describing it as an excuse for sloppy thinking. At another point in his speech, he referred to us as always looking out for opportunities to go for a ride on the tail of the Fianna Fáil Government. It is hard to know just who is going for a ride on whose tail because already we have had indications that our policy has impressed the Government considerably.

We have seen their movement over to social welfare. We know now that discussions are taking place between the Central Bank and the Standing Committee of the commercial banks. We know the Minister has announced a more positive role for the Department of Finance to play in the future. This will be a promotional role. The Minister says the Department will take initiatives. In my view, that is the first step to a Department of Economic Planning and it would be more honest if the Minister came in and said that the Government agree there is something in this but feel that, in the circumstances in which we find ourselves, with a Whitaker in the Department of Finance, this is the best way to do it. This is the first step and this is the best way to go about it.

There is an Economic Branch there. It was there long before the just society appeared.

The Deputy, I think, mentioned the name of a high civil servant. That is very undesirable and should not be done in this House.

I am sorry.

The reference was not derogatory.

Not in the least.

It was said in praise, but it might be the reverse.

All I am trying to do is emphasise the importance of doing everything possible to expand the economy and provide the employment opportunities that are now lacking. Even the National Industrial Economic Council commented on this. They say: "We recommend that greater efforts should be made to achieve a faster, sustainable increase in employment." They believe this is possible and they give the reasons why and the various ways in which it could be accomplished. All the time the emphasis is on industry, and industry of a particular type, on industry with a high employment context. In my view, this is where we are mainly falling down. It is quite right to say that we must concentrate on increased production and on increased exports. Unless we are able to do that and unless we are able to keep prices competitive in the export market, we will not have the social services or any of the other services we require.

My intervention will be brief. What I have to say stems from the very last remark of the last speaker in relation to prices. I refer to economic prices which, in turn, bears on what Deputy Corish said in the course of this debate. I have no quarrel with Deputy Corish. I agree that the question of prices is an important one and that it is vitally important to try to keep prices in line with demand. As the last speaker said, there is the danger of pricing oneself out of the market. There is also the danger domestically of pricing workers out of employment. I should like to add to what Deputy Corish said and I invite him to look at some of the facts behind this question of prices.

Before I do so I think it well, however, to assume—we can be told if the assumption is not agreed — that mere administrative organisations to control prices do not work in normal circumstances. In other words, before I address myself to the problem, I am ruling out of consideration merely administrative procedures to control prices. This is an issue we have had very many times in this House and I believe it is generally agreed now that such controls are possible only in conjunction with other types of control that can only occur under emergency or war conditions.

Apart from artificial administrative controls which do not work and I think generally are accepted as not working, we have to consider the question: "What is the basis of the prices problem?" I personally do not think it is a question of anybody or any industry in this country making exorbitant profits. We have the real danger, as has been pointed out in several sectors recently, of pricing ourselves out of the export market and creating serious commercial difficulties at home by a tendency for prices to rise. I do not believe the question of how to control prices has been adequately answered, although these facts are there. There is also the fact that nobody can argue that industrial profits are excessive on a national level. There are no excessive profits and the reduction of such profits could not make any contribution whatever to the solution of the basic problem.

I am making these, perhaps, lengthy preliminaries for the sake of clarity and for the sake of making my point. I should like to add this gloss to what Deputy Corish said in the House on the question of prices. I ask him to answer the question: "Why do prices go up?" The reason prices go up is that costs go up. Therefore, we must ask ourselves why do costs go up. When we are answering that question we have to look broadly at the element of costs in producing the article the price of which has gone up. Most articles in our modern economy are factory made. Most articles are produced industrially. The cost to the industry and the cost of the article are largely threefold.

First of all, there is the cost of labour, that is, wages and salaries, paid to those who produce the article and who, in fact, earn their livelihood through producing it. If labour costs go up, prices go up. The second major cost factor depends on the materials used. The third is taxation. I think it is a fair analysis to say that production costs, which determine prices, are composed of labour costs, material costs, and taxation.

Let us look at the relationship between these three elements many of which in the adding up go to determine the costs. Let us take the question of labour costs, salaries and wages. I agree with a lot of the arguments which Deputy Corish may make in this connection. I do not want to repeat them but I mentioned that in case some of my remarks are taken out of context. Everything I am saying is to be taken in context. When remuneration increases progressively, the standard of living should rise. That is what we are all aiming at. If, however, remuneration rises at a rate disproportionate to other economic factors, then the effect of that increase is not only to increase costs but also to increase costs under the other two heads. That is an important thing to realise.

Come to the second heading, materials. The cost of materials for most industries depends on whether the materials are of foreign origin or whether there is a local element in them. If the materials are of foreign origin, the cost depends on the current ruling price in the country of origin. If the materials used in any particular industry are of local origin or involve local labour costs, then the increase in labour costs of producing these materials which are later used in the industry has to be added to the original labour costs, which are already increasing in the industry that I am directly contemplating in the course of this argument. When labour costs continue to rise, it is quite clear that not only do they directly contribute to the cost of the article produced but they indirectly contribute a further proportion to the cost of the article in so far as materials from local sources are involved, to the extent to which increases in labour costs in that sector occur as well.

Unfortunately, the same thing occurs with taxation. Once you have the spiral of labour costs in the sector I am talking about, it spreads generally as everyone knows. Nobody realises better than Deputy Corish that these problems are cumulative and that they spread.

What is the reason for this? You have general wage rounds. They affect the public services. When there is an increase in the remuneration in salaries and wages in the public service, it places the burden on the Exchequer. The only way a Minister for Finance can meet the increased burden of salaries and wages in the Civil Service, in administration generally and the other incidental costs that follow from that is to increase taxation. When you increase taxation it falls back on industry.

The purpose of what I am saying at some length is to point out that when there is a round of wage increases, it increases the cost of the article not only directly but also indirectly. Deputy Corish and the Labour Party have been emphasising the element of costs and the element of prices. I have no quarrel with them and I should like to join with them in getting a balanced solution to this problem. When there is a round of wage increases, it also operates indirectly, firstly, on the raw materials in so far as there is a local element and, secondly, taxation goes up. There is no escaping from that mathematical spiral. When we speak of costs and prices, I simply want to ask the Leader of the Labour Party to consider those elements as well. One cannot get away from the fact that when one talks about prices, one must immediately advert to the cost of producing the article the price of which is the subject of complaint. If the price of that article is forced up because costs are forced up, it is a very difficult problem to know how one can meet it and, of course, that is a thing that breeds this spiralling competition of wage round-price increase, wage round-price increase, and so on, which is our economic problem of today.

I say these things for the purpose of completing a picture, not for the purpose of pretending that I have given the whole picture. But it is a vitally important thing to realise that the root of it all lies in, say, costs in one particular sector internally amplifying all the others. The unfortunate thing is that where in modern industry the main costs of any article are determined by labour costs, material costs and taxation, if the first of these increases out of proportion then the inevitable effect is not only of itself to put up costs and, therefore, prices but also to force the other two factors— materials and taxation—up as well. That is our economic problem and such a serious economic problem that it would be well for us all to look at it and I, for one, would like to look at the arguments that Deputy Corish would advance in this regard as earnestly and as sympathetically as I ask him to look at the arguments that I have put forward now.

Basically, in regard to our economic problem here, I find, for me, a very illuminating and succinct paragraph in the Minister's speech. There are times when things are said happily and when they are worth remembering. I think the Minister was very happy in the way that he, in a short paragraph, put his finger on the question of national policy at the present moment. There has been a good deal of talk about social policy. There has been a good deal of talk about prices and these things. But, in this one paragraph, the Minister has linked the economic and the social and, in my view, has put his finger on the kernel of our situation, and, with your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, although it is already on the record, I should like to read the paragraph for this emphasis because I could not improve on it myself in paraphrase:

There cannot be social advance except on the basis of economic advance and the more economic progress there is the more social improvement is possible. The whole purpose of economic planning is to achieve social betterment, to use the growth of national wealth to improve the living standards of all the people. Clearly the best way to do this is to provide for productive and permanent employment, to see that there are good housing and educational facilities, to extend the health services, and to improve the social benefits for those unable to provide for themselves.

I know of nothing that can improve on a paragraph that says a lot in a nutshell. Further, we know what our question is. Our question is: How do we go about it? The general consensus of opinion is—I do not think I am exaggerating when I say so—that the Minister for Finance in this Budget has given us a very good lead. I shall not detain the House by gilding the lily. The question is how to go about it.

I presume that the basic problem we have to face is still the problem of economic development, to build the economy of this country, to supply productive and permanent employment and to see that these other things follow therefrom. If we are to do that, we have to make our industries viable. If we are to raise our standard of living, I agree completely with Deputy Corish that prices must not rob us of the benefits of increased remuneration.

But, to put the matter into perspective, we have to realise that increases in remuneration have to be balanced with the other economic factors that have so often been mentioned in this context and that, within the context of the paragraph I have read, the problem facing everybody is to see that remuneration is brought into that balance so that remuneration can be net remuneration. When I say that, I am not for a moment suggesting that there has not been an increase in real terms as far as remuneration is concerned.

In that little blue book circulated before the Budget by, I think, the Statistics Office, there is a very illuminating graph showing increases in remuneration corrected, if I remember aright, shall I say, in rough terms for costs and that corrected graph is still rising. In other words, in spite of what difficulties there are of taxation or of prices, there is still a net gain to the average individual in the community. That is an achievement that any administration can be proud of and one, too, for which this administration can claim credit as it has been in office continuously for a period of eight years when we had (1) to recover from an economic débácle and (2) then to build. That building work, I am glad to say and to recognise, was largely the work of the present Minister for Finance when he was in another Department.

To come to the more direct questions of taxation in this Budget, the Minister is correct when he points out that it is illusory to try to pretend that taxation is not taxation or to seek ways of evading taxation or nullifying it immediately it is imposed. He mentioned that point in the Budget and it is one that should be made. Taxation, particularly taxation for social services or where money has to be found for social services, of necessity means taking money from one part of the community for the benefit of another. It is, in effect, a re-distribution and you cannot distribute unless you take something from someone.

In so far as certain elements of taxation here are concerned, much as I dislike them—taxes on alcohol or on tobacco—one has to ask oneself the question whether it is better that these elements should be called upon to contribute, say, for old age pensions rather than others. That is what I might call purely social taxation—an imposition of taxation of a relatively direct and simple kind.

Taxation in regard to a matter such as petrol is a different thing and there again we must face up to it. We have this element of costs. Taxation is put on something such as petrol. Even though only used in distribution, petrol is to be ranked as a material of industry. If the cost of a commodity such as petrol has to go up, well, it must contribute to the costs of any industry depending on petrol and must, therefore, contribute to the cost of the article produced by such industry and, therefore, in the last analysis, must have an upward-pushing tendency on prices.

On the other hand, petrol probably has to go up in price because there are pressures on the Exchequer. One reads about the increase in the cost of administration, the large increase in personnel costs. The Minister has to find the money. If I were to repeat myself I should find in that one item of petrol an example to drive home the general arguments I advanced earlier on the question of prices.

It is only proper for us to realise that a Minister for Finance has a problem which he must solve in a practical way. There are few of us who, having heard the arguments, would solve the Minister's problems in any other way than the way he has solved them. I am wholeheartedly in agreement with him and I am glad that the Labour Party were prepared to take the consequences of their approval of the Budget. I pay tribute to them. The fact that they voted as they did on the Resolutions is something for which they should be commended. They should be complimented on not having fallen for that too easy political temptation to try to have it both ways.

It is because of the earnest of their attitude that I feel at liberty to address myself, through the Chair, to Deputy Corish and the Labour Party in the way I feel I can address them now. I also feel that those things they have to advance and their point of view will be looked at by us with the sympathy and objectivity befitting us as adult Members of Parliament.

So much for the Budget itself. I have little further comment to make on the actual proposals. However, I should like to refer to other matters raised in the course of the debate. I take it I am at liberty to do so. I shall do this as briefly as I can. I merely want to correct the record and bring the attention of the gentleman concerned to the facts. In volume 215, No. 10, column 1396 of 13th May, 1965, there is an argument in which Deputy P. O'Donnell and some other Deputies took part. Deputy P. O'Donnell asked a few questions which I should like to answer. He stated:

When we went out of office in March, 1956, we left those houses vacant.

He was talking about vacant houses in Dublin. He continues:

Why did you not fill them?

That was the first question he asked. We did fill them to the extent that the housing problem again has become an urgent one, a very urgent one in Dublin. The fact was, as pointed out by Deputy Moore, there was a slowing-up in the building of houses in Dublin. I shall prove that in a moment. But, whether there were houses or not, there were 1,500 houses vacant because of the slump in housing and the emigration which took place under the last Coalition. There was a disastrous slump at the end of 1956, particularly in building, and if anybody wants facts on that, they can refer back to a housing motion of December, 1956. The Coalition disasters had driven all those people out of the country. There was mass emigration and there were houses closed up.

You should be thinking about Ballina and those closed in the west of Ireland.

I know it hurts but we have to get it over. In volume 160 of the Official Report, column 2060, referring to the very time Deputy P. O'Donnell was trying to bluff about last week here, a debate is recorded. Deputy Denis Larkin, now back in the House, was then a Coalition Deputy, supporting and backing up to the hilt Deputy P. O'Donnell who was the then Minister. He said the following which relates to that time:

The picture facing us in Dublin this year is not too pleasant. The number of houses completed in the period from 1st April to 31st October last year was 644: this year the number is 449. The number of men employed on housing, housing development work and allied occupations in Dublin City last year was 2,199: this year the number is 1,854. Bear in mind also the fact that last year's figure represented a 50 per cent reduction on the employment in 1951.

I shall not take up the whole of the time of the House in quoting this debate. I repeat, in volume 160 when Deputy P. O'Donnell was Minister, there is a housing motion and I recommend Deputies to read it and they can form their own opinions. What I have said will be enough to put things into perspective. So much for Deputy P. O'Donnell.

Deputy J. A. Costello spoke here yesterday. He is a Deputy for whom I have a very great regard but I think he is getting somewhat out of proportion in this, and I should like to ask him, as a former Taoiseach a few questions, if I may, through the Chair. He made—you will pardon me if I say it this way—an intemperate attack on the Department of Finance. I have no grádh for the Department of Finance. When I was in the State service I found myself always competing with the Department of Finance in their role as the watchdog of the public purse. But I do not think it is fair that a Deputy of the seniority, experience and reputation of Deputy J. A. Costello should express himself in regard to the Department of Finance as he has done.

The Department of Finance have a role which they have carried out faithfully through the years. There may have been weight in favour of certain traditional views years ago in the Department of Finance, but surely it is not a cause for criticism that, considering our experiences over the years, a balance has been brought into the Department itself. Surely that is a matter on which to compliment all concerned, and not an occasion for voicing criticism? We have in this State the very fortunate situation that we now have a very balanced Department of Finance. It is a Department which can control expenditure intelligently, understanding the application of expenditure, and even promoting productive expenditure. I fail to follow the criticism here. We can multiply words and catcheries and labels by the million and get nothing done. One can organise with an existing machine in perfecting it, if it is adaptable and suited to the needs of the moment, and get results. That is what was done in the Department of Finance.

I agree with the Chair, if I may say so respectfully, that it is not good to go into detail in these matters. Therefore, I am inhibited in my comments on many of the things I should like to say on this occasion. I do say the role played by the Department of Finance in conjunction with other Departments during recent years has been a distinguished one and its consequences have been extremely felicitous for the country.

I remember a question like this coming up before, and I had great sympathy with the Taoiseach's comment when he asked what was the Taoiseach's Department for. What do people want? Do they want to escape the duties of the Government and pass them on to some other body to carry them out? That kind of thinking is just escapism. If we have a Taoiseach, surely he must organise the rest. Planning in vacuo will not get one anywhere. If someone makes a case for the setting up of a special section in the Taoiseach's Department. I will look at that case, but not at planning in vacuo. Planning what? The Department of Finance has evolved in our present situation to suit our needs. The evolution of the Department to deal with economic matters in the State has come about to meet natural needs in a natural manner, and I think that is probably the best way in which the Department should evolve.

I do not want to take up the time of the House, but Deputy Costello's socialism entices me into further comment. I cannot help thinking of the old Fine Gael attitude. I listened to Deputy Costello who has been a pillar of the Party for the best part of the Party's life, and he will pardon me if I shake my head humorously and try to reconcile 1956 with the shilling off the old age pension in 1926. However, I suppose we all move on. But there is a serious criticism of Deputy Costello's socialism: where is there any practical indication of anything more than is being practically done in all this multiplicity of talk and documents about social justice? When they are pressed, we hear talk about the nationalisation of banks. Deputy Costello was Taoiseach from 1948 to 1951, and from 1954 to 1957. Why does he wait until now to bring this up?

The Deputy said we all move on.

They are moving on all right—there is no doubt about that—but I do not know if they are moving to the right to let someone in on the left—I mean in this Chamber.

I say in all seriousness to Deputy Costello that in the first Coalition Government, and in the second Coalition Government, he had allies who would have gone along with him wholeheartedly. One Party were making a fetish of the nationalisation of the banks, and what Party blocked it and would not have it? The Fine Gael Party. The Labour Party were pressing for social services. The leader of the Labour Party was the Minister for Social Welfare. He got as far as bringing in a Bill on social services, but it was never debated in the House. Who blocked it? It was not the splinter groups of the Coalition, it was not the Labour Party; it was the Fine Gael Party.

I think I am perfectly within my rights in drawing attention to some of these facts and asking: what are Fine Gael offering? What about their performances during the election? Something was produced in a panic and in a hurry, which contradicted what went before—but I will not delay the House with that. Despite the very high regard I have for Deputy John A. Costello, I am afraid his pleading in this case does not impress me as it usually does. If we were consistent and looked at the theories in the light of the facts we might get a little further.

I should like to conclude very much as I started by inviting Deputy Corish and the Labour Party to join with the Government and all other interested people in looking at the problem of prices. I think Deputy Clinton referred to pricing ourselves out of the export markets. I added gloss to that by talking about pricing many people out of employment, because that could be the result of failure to compete. We have a problem. We can solve it. We can certainly solve it if we can produce competitively. To produce competitively means to produce a good article at a competitive cost, and a competitive cost means at a slight margin that will beat our competitors in the export markets. If we are competitive in the export markets, we can be competitive at home and our own people can enjoy the benefits. We can all subscribe to that, and when it is put in a doctrinaire way, everyone will say it is quite true. Are we prepared to look at the hard facts of the elements that go to build up the price structure, and see what real effort must be made to get a uniform economic policy to deal with them.

Deputy Corish said something at one stage of his address to the House —the Official Report is not available yet—about his distinguishing between a social services policy and a social policy. I agree with him. We are looking for a social policy. I agree with Deputy Corish that it is the social problem and not the social services problem that is the big problem. I agree with the Minister that if you solve the big one, you will solve the little one. This goes to the root of the problem of producing economically, and if Deputy Corish and other members of the labour movement will address themselves to all the facets of this problem, there will be great applause from the rest of the country. As an earnest in that direction, I repeat on behalf of all of us over here what I said for myself personally: with that approach, with that honesty of purpose, we need not be afraid of reciprocation in understanding of the other's point of view. It is in that spirit that I should like us all to address ourselves to this most urgent and most serious of our economic problems.

My contribution will be very short. At the outset, I want to say I approve of the Budget in so far as it has given something to the old age pensioners, to widows and orphans and others in the social welfare classes. I feel the Budget is at least a short step towards the policy we advocated in the last general election of a just society. If there is one fault I have to find in this respect, it is that some of those people in receipt of old age pensions must wait as long as until January next before they get the increase.

I wonder how many people, even at that stage, will be entitled to the full increase of 10/- per week. If these figures were available, I feel sure we would find that when this means test of £26 per annum is applied, many needy old age pensioners will find themselves getting a meagre increase of 5/- a week.

The figures were given several times in the course of the debate and by way of intervention. I do not like interrupting, but the Deputy should know that the figure is 70 per cent, or more than 100,000.

There is still the balance of 30 per cent.

People with means.

I do not think the means test of £26 is a fair figure. After all with the cost of living at its present level, where will £26 go in twelve months? I am also disappointed that while these small increases are being given to old age pensioners, it is being taken back with the other hand. I refer to the tax on hard pressed tobacco and on what the old age pensioner usually drinks, the common pint. By the time these people pay the extra taxes on these, I am afraid they will have very little left out of what they get by way of increased pensions.

I am also disappointed that the Budget provides only £4½ million increase for housing. While I believe this is a step in the right direction, I am not quite satisfied that the amount will solve our housing needs. I heard Deputy J. A. Costello speak yesterday of a house in his constituency in which six people lived. He said two of the children slept in a pram and the other on a chair. This is happening not only in Dublin: I know of numerous cases throughout my constituency of people living in overcrowded conditions. Young couples who are married and move into houses with relatives find it practically impossible to get re-housed.

The general answer one gets if one makes inquiries is that such cases will be reconsidered when housing lists are being revised. I have had several such replies in regard to an urban area in my constituency. It is poor consolation to people living in wretched, overcrowded conditions. We should put first things first. One of our main duties towards society is properly to house our people.

There is no mention whatever in this Budget of the problem of the health services. Here again local rates have had to bear steep rises in these services and I, like a previous speaker, am firmly convinced that until we have our health services on an insurance basis, they will never be satisfactory. We have heard that the new Minister for Health is to examine the whole structure of the health services. I hope it will not take too long to come to a decision because the system of the blue cards and the green cards in the various areas is a headache to everybody. We find that people who may not have a medical card and are in a position, shall we say, to pay professional fees are not in a position to pay the steep prices being charged today for drugs and medicines.

I am also convinced that something should be done, must be done, with regard to rates. Here again we have no relief in the Budget. Rates have become an intolerable burden on every section of the community. At the time of rate striking during the present year, no matter what day one took up a newspaper, one read of steep increases in every county. We have heard that the question will be examined. I hope something will be done soon to ease the rates burden because those paying rates cannot afford the steep increases that have taken place.

With regard to income tax allowances in respect of children and dependent relatives, these allowances have remained at their present level for quite a number of years and in this Budget there is no mention of giving extra reliefs, though we are all quite aware that the cost of living has risen steeply during the past few years. It is a question that should have been examined and it is unfair that nothing has been done about it.

As I said at the outset, in general I approve of the Budget and what it has done for the old age pensioners, the widows and orphans and those in receipt of social welfare. One thing that does strike me, however, is that in the last Dáil the turnover tax was introduced and at the time we were given to understand that the type of taxation which we then had was no longer suitable. Yet, having got that tax passed, the previous Minister went back to the old type of taxation on what we call the sitting ducks—petrol, tobacco and spirits. It seems extraordinary that with the additional revenue from the turnover tax, which I understand from an answer given to a question I put down three months ago was £14½ million for 13 months, we still find the Minister for Finance has to collect taxes under the old system from the general public.

Very little is done for the farming community in this Budget. The figure of £53 million of aid to agriculture has been mentioned but this includes the administrative costs of the Department of Agriculture so that the £53 million is not actually direct aid to the farmers.

I am happy that something small at least has been done for the aged and infirm and I hope that this is only a step towards greater benefits for these people. I do find fault with the fact that while taxes in this Budget are applied practically immediately, some of those in receipt of increased benefits will have to wait until 1st August and some of them will have to wait until next January. The Minister could at least have granted these increases on an earlier date, bearing in mind the present day cost of living, including the cost of foodstuffs such as meat. Even with what the old age pensioners have at the moment, plus what those who will be lucky enough—and mark you, I say lucky enough—to get this 10/- increase, the 70 per cent to which the Minister referred, I still cannot see how anybody can live, clothe, and feed himself properly on such a meagre allowance. Whilst expressing this criticism I recognise that at least this is a step in the right direction towards something that we in this Party have advocated for months past. My few criticisms are offered in good faith and I hope that in future Budgets, even more will be done at least for those in receipt of old age and widows and orphans pensions. If we do that, we will be taking a step towards a just society.

I also agree that old age pensioners and all those in what are broadly known as the social service classes were entitled to the increase they are getting in this Budget. At the same time, although this 10/- increase seems wonderful compared with the 2/6 which used to be given, if you examine what these people can buy with 10/- today as against 2/6 some years ago, you will realise they are not exactly in the happy position we would like to see them in. Today 10/- has about the same value as 2/6 had 20 years ago. This Budget and all Budgets should give more than a pittance to social welfare classes.

While the Budget has been criticised from practically all angles, I do not think anybody has adverted to the fact that it does absolutely nothing for the west of Ireland, taken as a sector. I believe as a Deputy from that area that unless and until we have a zonal policy for the west and the other depressed small farming areas, we will not be able to give those people the benefits of what we call a just society. The Christian concept of a Christian society is that the people who have more money than they need should give in charity to the underprivileged classes; but in modern society it is impossible for all those people who are underprivileged to get it from individuals in an individual effort. Therefore, it is the duty of a Government to ensure that underprivileged classes of all types should get their due by organising affairs so that the affluent people and those who are better off should have taken from them some of their gains and that these gains should be distributed so as to give other people a chance of a Christian existence.

I believe the whole of the country does not realise exactly what the problem is. Sufficient consideration is not given to it by Dubliners or midlanders or, perhaps, any other people outside the area itself. As everybody knows, people have talked here for years about emigration and then have forgotten about it, but emigration from the west exists today. There is a new aspect of it today which I am sure will not be forgotten. It is that whole families, father, mother and children, are moving away now. Some years ago it was the youth who left. In Mayo alone, they are going at the rate, as it was put by Father McDyer, of a parish a year. That eventually will lead to the complete depopulation of the west.

I know there is also emigration from the city of Dublin at a tremendous rate but nobody seems to realise that. People who go from the west to England can tell you about all the Dubliners they meet over there. What I want to point out is that even though today the Government may be patting themselves on the back for what they are doing for the old people they have never come up against the hard facts of life here at all. The reason is that when people become unemployed or can no longer exist on their little holdings they move away from their farms silently. They do not go into the soup lines but disappear quietly to England and consequently nobody here has been brought up against the facts of this issue. If it were otherwise the wire screen up there would not protect the people down here. It is time that society as a whole and not only the Government faced this fact. The climate of opinion must be completely changed so that people in the better areas will be willing to save the people in underprivileged and depressed areas. It is everybody's business and all our people must be educated to do it.

If the best brains of the country are channelled into doing it and if the Government are serious in their declaration that the west should be saved—I believe they are—now is the time because it cannot go on much longer. At the present rate of emigration the west will fall as a unit. Once the farm areas go the small towns will disappear. Many amenities have been provided and a lot of money has been invested in the small towns. All this will be lost unless something is done.

There are many things the Government can do apart from the conception of a complete zonal policy. They could help county councils in western areas by giving them extra grants so that the terrible impact of the rates would not be felt as at present. In Mayo the rate is almost £4 in the £ — it is 79/- — and is the highest rate in Ireland. At the same time, we are not able to provide services comparable to those in the better-off counties. Our people cannot get equal services. We have to carry a large proportion of old people and unproductive people. Because of emigration we are left with many who are unable to work, old age pensioners and children, and many of them are a charge on local authority services in one way or another. Consequently, our burden is greater than that of the better-off counties.

We have a huge road system. In a question that I addressed to the Minister for Local Government today I asked if he would divert some county road improvement grant money to help to maintain the green roads that farmers have to travel all over Mayo. The answer was that it was not possible to do so at the moment. But I think something could be done in that respect because the whole burden of maintenance of green roads falls on ratepayers who are unable to bear it. I still believe that until we have a zonal policy, a rates equalisation fund is the only answer to this problem. If you have a rates policy for the whole country you will still be unjust to the western areas for some of the reasons I have mentioned. If you have a rates equalisation scheme as in Britain, a fund established by the central authority under which money is allocated to any particular area where the rates rise above the national average, the extra money needed for services in that area is provided from this fund. That is something that should be examined now because in Mayo the burden of £4 in the £ will mean that more families will emigrate.

Practically every aspect of the Budget has been covered except this one. I do not want to delay the House or keep the Minister in his chair a minute longer than is necessary but I ask that consideration be given at Government level to the points I have made here.

Like other Deputies, I welcome the concessions that have been granted in the Budget to old age pensioners and the other social welfare recipients. I regret very much that it was not found possible to give the 10/- increase to every old age pensioner. In fact, there is a genuine and general feeling of disappointment that the 10/- was not granted to all old age pensioners. I think it would not have caused any financial crises if the Minister had gone the whole way. Perhaps, before August it may be found possible to do so.

Apart from the concessions granted to the old age pensioners and other social welfare recipients, the Budget is remarkable not so much for what it contains but rather for what is omitted. Coming so soon after the general election and with a major reshuffle of the Cabinet and the appointment of a new Minister for Finance, it was generally expected that the Minister would have availed himself in his Budget speech of the opportunity to give some indication of a new approach on the part of the Government to many of the serious economic and social problems still awaiting solution.

There is no evidence in this Budget of new thinking on economic development. There is no indication of a breakthrough in the expansion of our educational services. There is very little hope for the immediate alleviation of the hardship and misery being suffered by so many families because of the serious housing shortage throughout the country. There is no relief in rates and it is, I think, generally recognised that rates are now becoming an impossible burden, not merely for the farming community but also for the urban community. An examination of the whole structure of local taxation is long overdue. The fact that there is some such examination on the way has been hinted at by the Taoiseach in this debate.

For the farming community, there is practically nothing at all in this Budget and, in fact, as Deputies will have seen from the statements by the leaders of the various farming organisations, there is a feeling that the farming community has been badly let down by the Government. I have seen the Budget described as "a great betrayal".

There is no doubt whatever that in recent months the farming community had been led to believe that big things were on the way. Particularly since the appointment of the present Minister for Agriculture, the farming community were led to believe by various statements by the Minister that a considerable improvement in their position would be forthcoming but, except for the £400,000 to pay the penny per gailon bonus on quality milk, there is nothing in this Budget for the farming community.

On this question of the penny a gallon on quality milk, which affects my constituency by reason of the fact that it is in the centre of the most intensive dairying area in the country, I want to say that it is totally inadequate to enable the average dairy farmer to instal the equipment and to modernise his production methods to such a degree that he will qualify for this penny per gallon. In addition, the various creameries have had to instal costly equipment for the testing of this milk. The grant of a penny per gallon on quality milk is a typical example of the general approach of Fianna Fáil to the dairying industry in recent years. I have discussed this matter with various people connected with the dairying industry and I have reason to believe now that the minimum incentive which would be adequate to enable our farmers to produce the quality milk which is so necessary is threepence per gallon.

Of course, a great deal of propaganda is being made out of the total State assistance to the dairying industry. It has been referred to by the Taoiseach and on a number of occasions by the Minister for Agriculture. But it is not sufficiently recognised that our dairy farmers are receiving the lowest price in Europe for their milk and it must be remembered that our dairy products are selling competitively at world prices. When one takes into account the low price our dairy farmers are receiving for their milk, the subsidies being paid to the dairy processing factories and the price being received for our dairy products abroad, it would appear that there must be considerable wastage somewhere. Certainly, the millions being devoted to the dairying industry are not finding their way into the pockets of the dairy farmer.

I agree in principle with the encouragement of the production of quality milk. It is a matter of vital importance to the economy because of the demand and the markets for high quality dairy products, but, as I have said, I expected a much more realistic incentive than the penny a gallon.

There has been a good deal of discussion about narrowing the gap between urban and farming incomes. It is a big problem and one that is becoming more serious with every day that passes. In fact, there was a statement in the newspapers yesterday by Mr. Feely of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association, to the effect that the average dairy farmer who has from 15 to 20 cows and is working seven days a week is receiving less for his labour than an unskilled builder's labourer who works five days a week. While this situation exists there will be a continuation of the flight from the land and of rural depopulation in general.

One of the great weaknesses in the Government's economic programme has been the lack of a definite realistic plan for rural development. There is no use talking about narrowing the gap between urban and rural incomes unless some national plan is put into operation.

Rural depopulation is a problem which is not peculiar to Ireland. It is a problem which is found in most western European countries but the difference seems to be that other countries have taken definite steps to surmount the problem while we seem to have fallen down entirely on the job. If a realistic, rational, rural development programme were initiated in this country it should be possible to maintain the small farmer on the land. It should be possible to promote small local industries in our rural towns and villages.

I was doing some reading on this matter of rural development and was interested to find that even in the most industrially advanced countries special emphasis is laid on the problem of rural depopulation and on ways of overcoming that problem. In Britain, for example, there is the Rural Industries Equipment Loan Fund; the Rural Industries Bureau for England and Wales; the Scottish Cottage Industries Development Trust; and in the North of Ireland there is the Rural Industries Development Committee.

In our industrial development system, we have no specialised machinery for promoting small industries in rural areas. We seem to have adopted the idea and to have become entirely convinced that there is no future for a small industry in a rural town or village. It is interesting to note that in the United Kingdom in 1959, out of 55,000 industrial undertakings, 15,000 were employing only between 11 and 24 workers. The same thing will be seen from figures for Holland and France which I shall not delay the House in quoting, but in France, particularly, the regional planning board pays particular attention to this problem of promoting small-scale rural industry.

On several occasions here I have referred to a modern, international concept of community development, and I have expressed surprise that the Government here have not taken any steps to apply the principles of community development to the problem of promoting co-operation among small farmers and to the problem of promoting industries in our rural towns and villages. This question of rural depopulation is one which is found not only along the western seaboard but in my own county of Limerick. A survey was carried out there in 1963 by the county manager and it was found that there were 200 rural cottages locked up and 600 other rural cottages which had only one occupant. In the various towns throughout the county of Limerick, no new industries have been established in recent years. There is a tale of rural depopulation written all over the place—businesses with the shutters up, houses locked up, families gone away. This problem will have to be tackled. Deputy Cosgrave referring to the question of a manpower policy, with which the Parliamentary Secretary will be specially concerned, also adverted to the question of rural depopulation and to the difficulty of finding adequate agricultural labour.

Deputy de Valera referred a short time ago to a paragraph in the Minister's speech where it was stated that the Minister accepted that economic advancement was a necessary prerequisite for social progress. We all subscribe to that but, as Deputy de Valera asked: what are we going to do about it? He stopped there and did not tell us what was going to be done. If we accept that economic advancement is necessary for social progress, then something much more revolutionary than the conservative economic thinking of the First and Second Programmes will be necessary, particularly if we are to achive the objective of a just society to which all Parties have pledged their support. I am amazed that the Government have not by now recognised and admitted the failures and the weaknesses in the First Programme for Economic Expansion and the weaknesses which have become obvious after the first year of the Second Programme.

I subscribe to the view that a planning department is essential for economic progress, that the only way to approach economic development is on a regional basis, and that regional planning boards are also essential. There is an obvious need for a critical reappraisal of our economic thinking. There is need to reorganise our economic resources and to plan our economic development in such a way that all the material and spiritual resources of this nation will be utilised to the maximum advantage of all sections of our people.

I should like, first of all, to congratulate Deputy Seán Flanagan on his promotion as Parliamentary Secretary. He is a neighbour of mine and I am sure he will do his best to bring about some improvement in the West of Ireland and in the under-developed areas generally. I know he will be as sincere as anyone could be in trying to bring about that improvement for the reason that he appreciates as well as I do the problem that exists there. The Parliamentary Secretary knows I come from a rural area out on the mountainside near the town of Foxford, an area that has suffered very seriously for many years past as a result of rural depopulation, as his home area, Ballaghaderreen has suffered seriously down through the years. Therefore, when I speak here, as Deputy Lyons has also spoken, in connection with this problem in the west of Ireland, I feel I am referring to something with which the Parliamentary Secretary must be very familiar indeed.

I am also glad to see Deputy Jack Lynch as Minister for Finance. When he was Parliamentary Secretary back in 1951-52 I had some dealings with him in connection with the undeveloped areas. He visited Mayo amongst many other counties and in the course of his visit there I spent a couple of days with him in Bangor Erris and elsewhere. He listed a number of problems with which we were faced at the time, and to his credit it may be said he did something about one of them, Achill. Perhaps there were other things about which I have forgotten but at least he did something for the harbour at Achill and that has been of some benefit to the people of that area.

Unfortunately, not enough is being done for these areas. I am sure that both the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary, who are both young men, will be glad to try and relieve the position not only in the West but in the South of Ireland, in West Cork and many other regions where there is rural depopulation. However, the budgetary proposals before us will not solve the problem with which we are concerned. It is true that the old age pensioners who will benefit to the extent of 10/- per week will get some relief. So will other social welfare recipients to a greater or lesser degree. The Minister quoted a figure of 70 per cent as representing the beneficiaries to the full extent of 10/- per week. I fear the 30 per cent will cause Deputies an appalling headache because these old age pensioners will naturally try to get all that to which they think they are entitled. I visualise a situation in which we shall all be very busy making representations to the Department on behalf of old age pensioners. Some poor women may have 20 hens, or a cow and calf, or a few turkeys for the Christmas market. The trouble will start when these are computed for the purpose of calculating income. I know how profitable hens are. I know how profitable pigs are. I know how profitable turkeys are. I was engaged in that business but I was forced out of it. When my neighbours were forced out of business I was naturally forced out of it too.

There are old age pensioners who will suffer severely because of the manner in which the Department computes non-existent incomes. I will not accept that a housewife selling eggs at 2/- a dozen to retail shops makes any money on the transaction. I know too much about the trade. I am not in the least surprised that so many have gone out of these lines. If someone has half a dozen turkeys, which will be sold at Christmas time for ? to 2/- per pound in Dublin or on the export market, those turkeys will be taken into the calculation for the purpose of assessing means. I fear a number of people will be disappointed because they will get not 10/- per week but 5/- or 2/6.

Of course, I take the broad view. There are many people in the city of Dublin, people I know well, who will benefit by this increase. I am glad they will. There is plenty of poverty in this city. I have worked with people down at the North Wall and in many other areas in the course of my exporting activities over the years. This increase in old age pensions will be of some advantage to them.

I have here a cutting from the Irish Independent of 1st February, 1965, dealing with the problem in the west. Both Deputy Lyons and Deputy T. O'Donnell have already spoken about this. This is the report of a meeting held at Foxford, at which a large number of bishops were present, including Most Rev. Dr. Fergus, Bishop of Achonry. The meeting was part of the “In Defence of the West” campaign. Most Rev. Dr. Fergus had this to say:

The issue at stake is the survival —or, if you wish, the extinction—of the small farm community of the west ... for the past quarter of a century the west had been drained of its people, its real life and wealth.

In his diocese ... within the past 30 years and chiefly since the end of the 1939-45 war, they had lost more than one-fourth of their people. Comparing the statistics for 1948 with those for 1963 he found that in those 15 years the annual number of baptisms had decreased by 40 to 47 per cent and the annual number of marriages by 50 per cent.

I can see no sign that the trend is not going to continue and I am quite certain that other parts of the west have fared no better—probably worse. There has been no such disastrous decline in the population of the west since the days of the Great Famine.

If something drastic is not done urgently to arrest this the prophecy of the London "Times" at the time of the famine at last will be fulfilled and the Celt will become as rare in Connaught as the Indian on the shore of Manhattan.

There are roughly 16,000 to 17,000 members in that organisation in Mayo alone. They are not in it for political reasons. They are neither pro nor anti Government. They are concerned with one thing and that is the preservation of the west and its population. This is not an easy task. It will need the goodwill of all to bring about a solution, or even a partial solution, to the problem that exists there. The people labour under many disadvantages. Their holdings are in the main small and located in mountainous regions. They have survived by going forward and backwards to England to supplement their meagre incomes. Originally one member of the family or, at most, two went. Now whole families are getting out to Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, or elsewhere.

This is creating a desperate problem. It created a serious problem for me. I employed 17 men at above trade union wages in the egg export business, wholesale and retail grocery, lime and so on. The people are no longer there to do business. Towns like Swinford, Charlestown, Ballina, Crossmolina, Belmullet and many others are ghost towns today. That does not apply so much in the case of Ballina because a great deal of traffic passes through Ballina, but the economy there is a lopsided one. We are fortunate in Foxford in that we have quite a good industry there. We need not thank the Government for that. That industry was founded some 80 years ago by Mother Bernard of the Irish Sisters of Charity on borrowed money. It has survived and progressed all down through the years. It has about 250 regular employees. It is a great help to a small town. If we had more industries of that type in rural Ireland, they would be a great lift for the economy.

It is extraordinary that that industry, started in difficult times during the days of British rule in this country, has gone from success to success. To-day, with native government, Undeveloped Areas Bills and other high-sounding names across the floor of this House, we have had experience of making money available to industries here, some of which have gone to the wall. Yet the industry I speak of, without any State aid, has stood the test.

It should be possible for the Government to provide industry in these areas. If we are to wait for non-existent local capital to come forward and fill that gap, I am afraid we will be waiting a long time. Off-hand, I cannot suggest the type of industry. I appreciate you cannot have woollen mills in every small town in the west, but you can have some type of industry to keep those towns together. As Deputy Lyons pointed out, Mayo County Council and other county councils have made a great contribution by providing water, sewerage and housing in those towns. The ratepayers and taxpayers have gone to much expense to provide these amenities. If these towns are now to be wiped out, it will be very serious for the country.

Some of the difficulties that have arisen are not of our own making. In the past many of our people engaged profitably in the production of eggs, poultry, pigs and so on. The British adopted a policy detrimental to the interests of those people by subsidising their own farmers and creating a very serious problem for us. I think the Government of the day—whatever Government it was—should have come to the rescue of those people by providing a cushion for them in those difficult years, the same as they did for industry in recent times when the British Prime Minister put a tax on our exports. Suddenly, there was panic in the Department of Industry and Commerce that so many workers would be let go and so many industries made redundant. Money could be found. The Minister could meet those people because they were people of influence, people able to subscribe money at election time to the various political organisations, and for other reasons. However, I was glad the Minister met them and found a solution to their problems. But how was it that something like that could not be done for those people exporting eggs, poultry and pigs to afford them an opportunity of continuing in business or of changing their lines of farming? They were neglected and we see the results.

Taking the broader view, I think that successive Governments in this country, but particularly the Fianna Fáil Government, followed a daft, fantastic policy of trying to kill agriculture and build up industry. The saying is that it is never too late to mend. Recently, the Minister for Agriculture made what amounted to a policy statement in Foxford at the Connacht Fleadh Ceoil. A fleadh ceoil was rather a peculiar place to make it. However, he gave an assurance that he intended to do something for the western regions. I said on the occasion that I would take him at his word, and I am prepared to give the Government time.

I spoke recently in Charlestown and other centres thanking my constituents for having elected me. The advice I offered them was to unite, to continue to unite, to call on all the local Deputies regardless of Party to try to produce the best solutions for the serious problems we have to face. The Minister for Agriculture assured us at Foxford that he has appointed a Parliamentary Secretary who will be specifically in charge of operations in the west. We will be glad to meet him down there and to work with him. I worked with the present Minister for Finance when he was dealing with the undeveloped areas. The new Parliamentary Secretary can rest assured that we will not try to score any political points over him.

Many of us have business experience to offer. We know the problem. I am, perhaps, one of the few Deputies who can produce records dating back 65 years of many transactions with the farming community in my time and in my late father's time. I can trace prices back over the years, audited accounts and reports, dealings with various Departments, including the Department of Finance, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Industry and Commerce and the Department of Supplies. We have down there many men of experience in one sphere or another who would be glad to help. The problem is there. There should be some solution for it. I believe there is, if goodwill is forthcoming on all sides. It will take money to solve it. However, I believe that money will be forthcoming in the foreseeable future.

During my time in this House from 1951 to 1957—I was out of it for a few years—one of the things in which I interested myself was mineral exploration. As a result of my efforts and the efforts of others, there was a mineral strike at Tynagh, Galway. I can assure you that I felt it was possible that there was mineral wealth in this country. I took the trouble to check up and found that the Geological Survey Office has very little on record of what minerals we have. In any case, as a result of my mentioning it in the Dáil, I was contacted by a mining concern. A licence was got from the Department of Industry and Commerce which covered those regions. The work went ahead, thanks to the people who spent time and money boring in one place or another. They were successful, and I look forward to the time when this will be a great money-spinner for the Exchequer. I do not know to what extent it will bring in money to the Exchequer but I believe it will do so to quite an appreciable extent.

I suggest to the Minister—I know it would take money to do something in the west—that if the money comes in, as I expect it will in later days in royalties from this and other sources, he will make it available to try to relieve the serious problem I referred to briefly. We have very serious problems in the western region. I intend to pursue those problems by every legitimate means at my disposal in order to have something done for the western region. Many of the Deputies from the west of Ireland have pledged their support. This is a matter in relation to which I shall urge the Minister at every available opportunity to try to have some action taken.

(Cavan): The Budget was described in the newspapers both before it was introduced and since it was introduced as a social welfare Budget. It might be more properly or more accurately described as the little or minor social welfare Budget. During the general election campaign which has just ended, the Fine Gael Party campaigned on the basis of a fair deal for all sections of the community and particularly for the weaker or underprivileged section of the community. It became apparent throughout the campaign that the masses of the people were completely dissatisfied and conscience-stricken at the treatment being meted out to the weaker section of our community, so much so that towards the end of the campaign the Taoiseach conceded that something worthwhile would have to be done for the social welfare classes.

It came, therefore, as no surprise to anybody that some additional provision was made in the Budget for the classes to whom I have referred. If we analyse the relief or additional benefits given to the social welfare classes, we must regard them with some disappointment in this age of increases all round. The Government over the past four or five years have been adopting the attitude that the national cake had grown to enormous dimensions and that everybody was entitled to a fair slice of the cake.

They gave substantial increases to one section of the community or another, to one class of State employee or another, not so much on the basis that these increases were necessary to keep up with the cost of living but in some instances with no other justification than that they were necessary as status increases. Therefore, in this age of status increases, we can regard the provisions made in the Budget for the social welfare classes with some disappointment. There is an increase of 10/- per week for the old age pensioners but the increase is to be confined to people whose income does not exceed £26 a year or 10/- a week, apart from the old age pension. That is imposing a new means test and will, in my opinion, mean that the means of every old age pensioner in the country will have to be re-investigated. As I understand it, social welfare officers in the course of their duties over the years did not go very closely into the means of an applicant for an old age pension or an old age pensioner once they were satisfied that the means did not exceed £52 a year because the person with only £52 a year qualified for the old age pension.

It appears to me that between now and the 1st August every social welfare officer in the country will have to get busy and work overtime to reinvestigate and re-classify the old age pensioners in order to see how many of them will qualify for the increase of 10/- per week. As has been said during the course of this debate, public representatives and T.D.s will have additional work put on them because I can see appeals being made to them from all over the place by people who do not qualify for this 10/- a week. Let me make an appeal to the Minister and his colleague, the Minister for Social Welfare. I hope that the investigation into the means of people in order to see whether they have more than 10/- a week or not will be carried out in a humane manner and that it will not be one of those fine-comb operations which so often take place.

There is another very objectionable innovation in the Minister's speech dealing with the social welfare classes. He has intimated that as from 1st January next, I think it is, a more favourable means test will operate with regard to the smallholders in congested areas. I understand from a speech made by the Minister for Social Welfare some time ago that the proposal is that the means of a farmer who derives his income solely from agriculture and whose poor law valuation does not exceed £10 will not be taken into account in assessing his means if he is an applicant for unemployment assistance, provided he resides in a congested district. If he does not reside in a congested district, his means will still be investigated and his income from his farm with the £10 valuation will still be assessed against him. This is a very retrograde step. It is introducing, as well as a means test, a residence test or a geographical test. It is something I deplore—all the more so because I believe that the congested districts area which was settled in 1909 has no foundation in fair play, equity or justice.

I come from Cavan, which borders Leitrim. Under this proposal, a farmer in Cavan with a £10 valuation will have his means from his farm assessed against him if he is an applicant for unemployment assistance, whereas his neighbour in Leitrim or his counterpart in Roscommon will not have the same means from the same holding assessed against him. I cannot see equity in that; I cannot see fair play in it. Surely a £10 valuation in Cavan should mean the same thing as a £10 valuation in Leitrim or Roscommon?

I protested about this type of thing when the Land Bill was going through the Seanad and I shall continue to protest about it until such time as the Government and the Minister— if they intend to continue to introduce this type of differential legislation— see fit to get down to it and revise the definition of "congested districts" which were defined by a British Act of 1909 when conditions were entirely different from what they are today.

It is fortunate that we are entitled to call this Budget a minor social welfare Budget because otherwise it would be difficult to find a name for it. This Budget is remarkable, as has been said, not so much for what it contains as for what it omits. If these small concessions to the social welfare classes were not contained in this document, it could be referred to only as "the Budget". No more damning description could be put on the annual housekeeping bill in the year 1965 than to refer to it as "the Budget". It would mean that there was nothing more in it than a tale of how the necessary finances were to be raised to run the country in the same old way as in the previous year and, in my opinion, in the year 1965, that is not enough. A Budget, in this year of grace, should contain evidence of some fresh thinking, evidence of some new proposals, evidence of some encouragement to the agricultural community to get on with further production, evidence of some incentives to industrialists, evidence of a new approach to certain things like health and taxation which admittedly need alteration.

The Minister's speech discloses that the adverse balance of payments is deteriorating year by year. In 1962, it was £13 million; in 1963, it rose to £22 million; in 1964, it went up to £31 million; and the best guess for 1965 is that it will stand in or about the 1964 figure. But, then, the estimate for this year is based on figures which are not accurate. The estimate is apparently admittedly an over-optimistic estimate because the figures for the first quarter of the year appear to suggest that the adverse trade balance will have deteriorated again this year.

The Budget Statement suggests that the adverse balance of payments has more or less been counteracted by an inflow of capital to the country. Over recent years, that capital has come in under headings such as property development, industry and other such matters. I fear that some of the capital that has come in here for industry has come in anticipation of our entry into the Common Market. That failed to materialise. I would say that more of it has come in under the heading of property development. That means that large portions of this city of Dublin have been bought for cash by foreigners. Some of the inflow of capital has come in as the purchase money of land bought by foreigners. That now is likely to stop under section 45 of the Land Act which has just been passed. Therefore, it is hardly likely, if we experience a further deterioration in the balance of payments, that we can rely on this sort of capital to offset it.

I venture to suggest that there is only one way of counteracting, of curing, or of curbing this adverse trend in the balance of payments, that is, to increase our exports. There is no other satisfactory way of doing it. There is no other way of doing it that will not inflict a hardship on some section or other of the community. I do not think there is anything in this Budget by way of an incentive to increase our exports.

It has to be admitted now, and it has always been the policy of this Party down through the years, since the foundation of the State, that unless the agricultural industry is flourishing, no other industry or section of the economy can flourish. Therefore, it is rather disturbing to hear the National Farmers Association with whom the present Minister for Agriculture seems to be on such friendly terms, describe this Budget as "the great betrayal". That is one of the most disturbing features of the Budget. It has done nothing to encourage an expansion in agriculture.

Under the heading of income tax, it is stated that there is no change. It is an as-you-were Budget as far as income tax is concerned. The Budget seems to extract more income tax from the middle income group, from the white collar worker and from the Pay as You Earn taxpayer. I say that because the personal allowances, children's allowances, and dependent relative allowances have remained as they were for many years. I do not know how many, but I venture to say there has not been any change for several years, notwithstanding the fact that during those years the value of money has declined. In order to compensate for a further decline in money, the incomes of the people concerned have increased. Therefore, in fact more is extracted in tax from this class of people.

I stated that the Budget was remarkable more for is omissions than for what it contains. During the election campaign, criticism was levelled against the Government because of the present system of local taxation. Again, as the campaign drew to a close, the Taoiseach admitted that the present system of local taxation was unfair and inequitable and that something would have to be done about it but there is not one sentence in the Budget to relieve the farming community from the burden of rates. I admit they at present enjoy considerable relief, but with the steady increases in the rates, they are still unable to meet the demands of the rate collectors, especially this year with an increase of 10/- in the pound. But, not alone is there nothing in the Budget to relieve the farmer from the burden of rates, but there is nothing in it to relieve the townsman of rates, notwithstanding the fact that he has been called upon to pay as much as £3 and more in the pound.

That is a very serious situation for many small shopkeepers who are being crushed out of business by supermarkets and large business concerns. Yet, many of them are called upon this year to pay £2 in the pound. It is regrettable that, notwithstanding the Taoiseach's assurance during the election campaign that something would have to be done about rates, nothing has been done in the Budget. It is not good enough and it is no excuse for the Taoiseach to say in the course of this debate that he expects to have a report of a committee on rates within the next few weeks. That is not enough. He could, and he should, have given relief in the Budget, even if it were only of a temporary nature, and even if it only covered this year or next year or even brought us up to the time when this new system of rates he has in mind, or which he is thinking about, or which he hopes to introduce, becomes a reality. In the meantime, the urban dwellers are suffering under this crippling burden of rates.

There is nothing in the Budget which will in any way improve our present grossly inadequate and excessively expensive health services. After the 1961 general election, which was fought by the Fine Gael Party on the basis that the health services and the Health Act of 1952 were bad and should be repealed, at the first, or second, sitting of the Dáil the then Minister for Health introduced a Resolution here to set up a Committee of the House to investigate the health services. The Government were then operating on a very slender majority but they succeeded in carrying the Resolution to establish that Committee on the basis that it would report to the House within six months. The six months came and there was no report and an extension of another six months was given but no report came. The Seventeenth Dáil died and no report came from that Health Committee which now is apparently defunct.

I say it is not good enough that there should be no proposals in the Budget to deal with the position regarding health. Let us hope that the new and energetic Minister for Health will get down to this business quickly and do something to improve the health services which have been deplorable since 1952.

There is another matter which needs urgent attention, that is, the housing problem. Large sections of our people are inadequately housed. The Department of Local Government has fallen down badly on this aspect of its operations. I think the number of houses built by local authorities in the last number of years has been totally inadequate and I feel Government policy has been responsible for that. There has been a considerable amount of private building done in the last number of years but, again, there is nothing in the Budget to encourage further private building.

Grants for the erection of private houses stand at £300 for people other than farmers whose valuations do not exceed £25. That figure of £300 has been there for several years, and during that time the cost of building a house has almost doubled. Yet the grant remains the same. I believe that people with modest incomes, people with incomes of less than £1,000 a year, should be encouraged to build their own houses. It would be good for themselves, and it would be good for the country. I believe that if people built their own houses, they would take pride in them and keep them repaired, and they would add to the beauty of the country. They would also add to the happiness of the occupants, whereas, if people live in local authority houses, they are not inclined to take the same care of them, and are not inclined to repair them themselves. Very often that is one of the items on which local authorities economise, with the result that the houses are allowed to deteriorate. Therefore, it is time for the Government to realise that it is in the national interest that people with modest incomes should get every encouragement to build their own houses. It is time the Government realised that that is sound policy, and that it is in the interests of the country as a whole and the individuals directly concerned.

I should like now to say a word or two about death duties. The Minister proposes to give some minor reliefs under this heading. He proposes to give some small concessions to widows, and to children of deceased persons. I think he also proposes to abolish legacy and succession duty altogether in the case of lineal descendants, which operates at present in respect of estates of £15,000 or over. I think the proposal is to abolish it altogether, but there is one proposal with which I do not agree.

At present, gifts made by a man within three years of his death are subject to death duty, just as if the gift had never been made. The proposal in the Budget is to increase that period to five years. I certainly think that is too long, and that it is asking people to divest themselves of their property too soon if they wish to avoid death duties. Any man who has transferred his property to his son three years before he dies is entitled to have that regarded as a bona fide transaction, and to be exempt from death duty. I do not really know what is behind the proposal to extend the period to five years. At one time it was thought here that if we relaxed death duties a little, we might encourage wealthy foreigners to take up residence here, spend their money here, and perhaps invest their money here. A proposal of this sort will have the opposite effect.

The Minister referred to the new atmosphere prevailing between both parts of the country, the Republic and the separated Six Counties. Like the Minister, I welcome this new approach from both sides, and I think it will do a lot of good. I hope I will not be accused of trying to score a political point if I say that this approach, this attitude, this policy, has always been the policy of this Party.

(Cavan): The only regret is that the Party now led by the Taoiseach did not have this attitude and this approach to the Border problem 40 years ago. If they had, the probability is that we would have no Border today.

I should like at the outset to convey my thanks and, indeed, the thanks of the people of my constituency to the Minister for the generous provisions contained in the Budget for the poorer sections of the people, particularly for social welfare recipients and old age pensioners. For too long they have been in receipt of very low incomes, and an additional 10/- is generous. Perhaps it is overdue, but at least it shows a realisation of the difficulties of many of our old people living alone, and who need all the assistance any Government can give them.

However, at this stage an effort should be made to provide housing for some of those people because many of them are living in old thatched houses. There are elderly people with a few years to live, living in hopeless conditions, and some effort should be made to provide them with some form of cheap housing which would suit them for the remaining years of their lives. We in Kerry County Council are trying to provide some cheap form of housing—with a room and a kitchen—designed to help them out. We will be bringing that scheme up to the Minister for Local Government later, and we hope it will meet with favourable consideration, and that sufficient grants will be provided by the Minister to produce those houses, together with the efforts of the local authority.

Many of those people are still holding on to the houses in which they were born, and have lived all their lives. Too many other decent people have gone into the county home because, through the evil of emigration, their families have had to go and the old people were left at home, sometimes with very little assistance from the sons and daughters who left them. There is a moral obligation on the State, on the local authorities, and on all of us, to give the maximum help to those people. The Minister has done a good job in providing them with this increase which they so badly need.

Some speakers on the opposite side of the House raised the question of the references made by the National Farmers Association to the Budget. I am anxious to see farmers get all the help possible, but one begins to wonder at this stage whether the vast amount of money channelled their way is really going in the right direction.

In this morning's newspapers, I read that our agricultural exports are in the region of £130 million and that the State is providing £53 million by way of aid. On the assumption that we have 300,000 farmers, that represents an average pay out of £180 per farmer per year. Taking the many systems of farm subsidisation, it would seem that many of our farmers are getting as much as £600 per annum. If that is correct, this vast annual amount of money is not being channelled towards the best methods of achieving increased production. It can only mean that some of our farmers are in the same position as men on unemployment assistance. We are giving help to the bigger farmers to make things easier for them and they are not putting in the necessary effort to produce the volume of wealth our land is capable of producing.

I shall never agree that a person with perhaps £1,000 valuation, who has an asset of anything from £20,000 to £50,000, should be subsidised at all. The necessity or desirability to subsidise such a farmer must mean either that the person is not able to produce the wealth his asset is capable of producing or that he has an asset or business the development of which on proper lines is away above his capacity. Far too much of the energy, effort and wealth of this State is being channelled into schemes that possibly are not producing what they should produce. We find in many counties, particularly in mountainous or western counties where drainage is an urgent necessity and indeed of high importance if production is to be maintained, not alone increased, that no money is available for that type of improvement. I maintain that above all other types of improvement, drainage is the most important if land is to be brought into full production through full fertility.

In my county a large area still needs attention by way of arterial drainage but because of our place in the national scheme, we are unlikely to be reached before 40, 50 or 60 years, far beyond the lifetime of any of us or, indeed, the lifetime of many who come after us. It is time, therefore, that a thorough examination should be made of this problem so that a fair proportion of the nation's energy and wealth can be channelled or re-directed towards this end. It would produce much more wealth and would assist our export potential and help the nation in general.

Agriculture is one of our every important industries. It needs every assistance and help but I reiterate that there would seem to be room for examination of this colossal sum if, after its receipt, our farmers are still not satisfied, as the NFA would seem to suggest. We must consider the figure of £53 million of annual aid side by side with our agricultural export figure of £180 million—practically one-third.

Associated with our agricultural industry is another very important facet of our economy, the fishing industry, which has been starved completely of capital investment. In this year's Capital Budget, a sum of £300,000 is provided. When you place that sum against the vast sum provided for agriculture, there is something definitely wrong. The nations of Europe are sending their fleets to our coasts to reap the plentiful harvest to be obtained there; yet we still have made no progress towards developing schemes on a nation-wide basis that would put our fishing industry into a position of national importance. At the moment it is very far from being of national importance.

Apparently, we are not able to produce sufficient fish for our own needs while at the same time our fishermen cannot dispose of the catches they land because we lack the necessary cold storage and processing facilities which would not alone make sufficient fish available at all times for our own people but would provide large supplies for export as well. It is about time we got down to examining this situation. If developed on the same basis as in other countries, our fishing industry could give a good livelihood to 20,000, 30,000 or as many as 50,000 of our people. All that is needed is development with foresight under a national plan with the necessary financial assistance.

In my area fishing is a headache to everybody, particularly to the fishermen. They have the equipment, the labour, the energy and strength but the cold storage, marketing and handling facilities they need are not available. We have not got even proper harbours. In this year of 1965, it is about time some effort was made to correct a situation of that kind.

Another big problem affecting the people along our seaboard is the terrific increases in rates which are hitting our poorer people in towns and which have reached such a high level in my county that people are paying practically £4 in the £. Those people are confronted, in their business efforts, with the multiple stores and self-service shops, and with high rates as well, they are compelled in places to close their shops altogther. Some of the luckier ones are still young enough to face the prospect of giving up business and taking up some kind of a job but many others are in no position to maintain themselves, much less pay the very high rates demanded.

Some solution has to be found quickly to this problem. We have continuous demands from our farming community for better roads, better water schemes and better housing conditions and all this is weighing down the person who is getting very little out of the high rates which are imposed on him. There are people in the towns who have nothing to gain by way of amenities from the vast expenditure taking place throughout our county. This in its own way is all very necessary, particularly from the point of view of tourists, but, as I said before. it is imposing an impossible burden on certain sections and some type of rates relief will have to be found if we are to avoid having people being brought before the courts or being brought under pressure to pay money which it is beyond their capacity to pay.

By and large in our county many sections of the people are flourishing, particularly throughout the tourist areas. There is a vast building programme going on and in some sectors the price of land is skyrocketing. In many cases in Killarney, and for some miles outside it, land for building sites is costing thousands of pounds for one-eighth of an acre. I suppose this is an indication of the progress which is being made but always when you find wealth building up on one side and big prices obtaining, you find poverty on the other side. To-day the system of having large multiple shops and large combines is leaving a sorry trail in its wake and is affecting the system which obtained for many years, the operation of small shops which gave valuable employment, and we have wealth being cornered by these big combines. This is leaving us with problems which will be hard to solve.

A previous speaker mentioned that the gap between our imports and exports could be solved only by increasing exports. I believe that there are many articles imported to-day that we could very well do without. In my own line of business, many articles of foreign manufacture are offered to us while side by side with them we have an equally good homemade article. Such a position should not obtain and a certain amount of control should be exercised. We should only import such materials as are required and try to keep our import-export gap narrow. There is plenty of room for a correction in this regard.

For instance, we see many houses and other buildings being erected and having expensive timber which has been imported from various parts of the world and which is intended to give a finished appearance to the front of the building concerned. I have no objection to any person who has the money to spare purchasing such materials but in all too many cases we have people who are looking for grants and loans, and indeed substantial loans, putting some of that money—which is badly needed for development—into foreign materials which could be quite easily done without. These materials are intended only to give the person concerned a standing above his neighbours in the area. It is obvious that this is being done in buildings throughout the tourist areas and undoubtedly it has an adverse effect on our import-export position; it is widening the gap and the material could be done without in present conditions.

Generally speaking the Budget has been received very favourably in my county. Nobody seems to have any objection to the impositions on drink, tobacco and petrol. The people seemed to accept that they are providing the extra tax to give old age pensioners and social welfare recipients the money required to give the increases announced in the Budget. I can assure the Minister that I do not think that in future there will be any objection to taxation, once it has been channelled into helping the poorer people. In past Budgets, I always found that people throughout Kerry had a grouse; they felt that taxation was not imposed for what they thought was a beneficial purpose. I have had experience of many Budgets but this is one Budget to which nobody has raised an objection. This will go down in history as one of the most popular Budgets to be presented to the Dáil. The Minister is to be congratulated and I wish to convey to him my own thanks, and indeed the thanks of the many people in my constituency who will gain considerably from the increases and benefits he proposes to make available to them.

This Budget will be remembered as one which, in a limited way and belatedly, if you like, recognised the plight of the old, the infirm and the less fortunate members of our community and for this reason, it is welcome. However, I think there is an admission of failure on the part of the Government in the Budget provisions, an admission that there did exist a great degree of poverty and, in some cases, near destitution among the poorer sections, old age pensioners, other pensioners, widows and orphans, disabled people, unemployed people, blind pensioners and so on. Up to this Budget the Government did not appear to know that some of those pensioners were barely eking out a miserable existence on the pittance given in social welfare benefits. I am glad that at last the Government have recognised the right of those sections of the community to an increase in benefits.

I very much welcome the increases, although they are belated. I welcome the increase in old age pensions, the increase to widows and orphans and other recipients and I also welcome the provision to give improved pensions to retired teachers, gardaí, members of the Army and others. Those increases were long overdue but I wonder by the time the increases are received will their value be frittered away, to some extent, due to the increased cost of living.

We all know that the spiral of the increased cost of living started when the food subsidies were removed and there is no need to go into that; it is history. The second round was the 2½ per cent turnover tax. That caused a rapid and steep incline in the cost of living and I wonder if the Budget is not an admission that the Government have lost control of the cost of living and of price increases. It is worth noticing, if my figures are correct and I think they are, that in 1959, 19.8 per cent of total national expenditure was spent in social welfare and in 1965, after the Budget has been taken into account with all the increases that are being given in social benefits, the figure would appear to be about 16 per cent of total national expenditure.

I hope the proposed increases are not a mere pious platitude, that the dreams of all the non-contributory old age pensioners, who expect, as they all do, the 10/- increase, will become a reality, but I wonder what percentage of those who receive it will receive their total income also. I know of many cases where I wonder what will happen when the new means test of £26 is operated. I know many who live with married sons or daughters and who, perhaps, reserve the right of a room and maintenance in their house. I can well visualise the investigating officer taking that right of maintenance and right to a room into account and putting it against them in assessing their means. I hope this will not be so but it does not seem to be a very happy situation.

A few Deputies spoke about the west, and as a Deputy from the west, I should like to add a little to the contributions on that subject. The Budget was very disappointing, on the face of it at any rate, so far as we from the west are concerned. There appears to be no tangible proposal to do anything about saving the west. It has been mentioned in respect of unemployment assistance that many in the west will benefit. I think that is an indictment of any Government. The people of the west are proud people; most of the able-bodied people drawing unemployment assistance in the west—at least I can speak for my own constituency— do not want unemployment assistance; they want work but the work is not there. I heard it said that most of the money for unemployment assistance would go towards the west and if that is so it is a shocking state of affairs.

In my constituency we have an excellent opportunity for productive employment and the money being paid in unemployment assistance could be usefully applied to that. In South Sligo, where I live, we have long ago established that small farmers are losing about £1 million per annum through lack of proper drainage. The only economic expansion I can see in my constituency is the expansion of the water of the rivers over the land. If any effort is to be made to save the west—I am glad the Deputy opposite spoke on this before me—drainage is the key. There are many small farmers in the west, in my constituency, with about 20 acres of land each. If you have a holding of 20 acres, you cannot make 21 acres of it but you can increase its productivity and the only way of doing that is by drainage and suitable manuring. Most of our land cannot be suitable manured because it is waterlogged. Instead of production being increased, we are getting diminishing returns. What we want is productive enterprise and employment in productive enterprise, not unemployment assistance except in cases where it is impossible to provide work.

If one goes to Westland Row station any evening at 7 p.m. one can see the number of people getting off the train from the west, crossing the platform and getting on the boat train for Holyhead. It gives an indication of what is happening in the west of Ireland. It is not only boys and girls, but entire families, who are emigrating. I saw families there last night, even children in their mothers' arms. Something must be done, and done quickly, to save the west. There was a report in last Sunday's paper that a continental group of investors are interested in establishing a dairy factory in the west of Ireland, possibly in Sligo or Mayo. They have a £2 million plan. I understand proposals are being submitted to the Government this week. All that I would like to say on that is that I hope the Government will encourage and assist this venture in every way and give approval at the earliest possible moment because the problem in the west must be tackled soon and energetically.

As a national teacher, I have seen schools closed down. About 25 years ago I went into a school and five years ago I left it. There were 64 children on the roll when I went there and there were 18 when I left and, less than 12 months after I left, there were eight. That gives a picture of the depopulation taking place in the West.

With the high incidence of emigration there, the prospect would appear to be one of extreme gloom, were it not for the fact that the people, led by their priests and bishops and assisted by Father McDyer, have banded themselves together into a Save the West Committee. There is no industrial expansion, about which we hear a great deal. In south Sligo, where I come from, there is one industry, and no credit or thanks to the present Government for it. It was established under the inter-Party Government and was opened by an inter-Party Government Minister. Since the establishment of that industry, we have been advocating the establishment of other industries there. For the town I come from, Ballymote, a town of 1,000 inhabitants, I have time and again looked for an industry. I have been told that when Tubbercurry and Collooney would be fully developed, the labour potential of the Ballymote area would be absorbed. The only industry in Ballymote is the railway station from which the people are travelling in the direction of Holyhead.

The establishment of an industry would be a help but it is not the solution of the problem. Employment in industry can be vulnerable enough. The biggest industry we had in Sligo was the Sligo Spinning Company, in which about 300 were employed. The industry folded up overnight and the employees had to board the emigrant ship. There was another case of the closing down of an industry in Dundalk. The basic industry in this country is the land and we in the west are not getting an opportunity of developing it.

Housing is a matter that affects every Deputy, councillor and urban councillor. The programme falls very short of requirement. There has been a great deal of discussion about housing. I asked a question in this House as a result of which it is on record that there was one local authority house built in County Sligo in the period from 1957 to 1961. There is an appalling situation throughout the country, due to the fact that so little was done. It is rather late now to try to make up the leeway. I know that there is an acceleration now in housing but the snail's pace adopted in the past is having its reaction. Even at the moment there appears to be a slowing down, due to the difficulty and the time-lag in getting documents through and getting sanction and one thing and another. I cannot help wondering had the position in regard to housing anything to do with our balance of payments. Certain products required for housing are imported but we cannot export houses. Of course, we can export people. I sometimes think that, in the west of Ireland, maternity homes should be issued with a stamp and that three out of every four children should be stamped at birth "for export" because that is the proportion that will be exported. It may be the explanation for the slowing down of housing that houses cannot be exported. There is certain justification for that view in the fact that last year £1¼ million less than estimated was spent.

The new housing grants are barely adequate. Reconstruction grants, of course, have not been increased for some years, in spite of the fact that the cost of materials and the cost of labour has increased substantially. I hope to see an increase there before long.

There is a very awkward situation that I have come across in respect of vested cottages in cases where applicants for reconstruction grants are unable to contribute one-third of the cost.

The question of vested cottages does not arise in the Budget debate. It would be a matter for the Estimate.

I accept that. The Budget was a very big disappointment to the farmers because of the fact that there was no indication in it that there would be a relief in rates. As we know, the rates have become an intolerable burden. The last relief given in the Agricultural Grant was dissipated by steadily rising rates and has disappeared long ago. Rating is an unjust form of taxation. At the moment little effort seems to be made to remedy the situation. I understand that a commission is to be set up to enquire into this problem. I hope that commission will act promptly and quickly and ensure that small farmers especially will be derated. Shopkeepers, especially small shopkeepers, who have no abatement of any kind, should receive favourable consideration in the matter of relief of rates. It would take very little money, in comparison with the millions we are spending, to derate the first £20 or £25 valuation and it would help tremendously the position of the small farmer in the west.

This Budget has been called a social Budget. The social matters which have come up for discussion here are housing, social welfare itself, and education. The question of housing is one that has agitated the minds of the Members of this House; it has also agitated the minds of local authorities and, indeed, the public mind. Despite the fact that the Minister for Finance has provided an increased amount in his Budget this year, I wonder if he is being realistic in expecting that that sum will be spent. Anybody who has been looking at Budgets over the years will find certain services will not spend the sums that have been laid out for them. It is understandable that, for one reason or another, part of the sum voted for a particular service may be surrendered at the end of the year.

In regard to housing, somewhere around £1,250,000 of the amount voted was not spent. There may be various explanations for that, and the building strike has been given as one of them. However, one of the matters causing concern is the non-availability of credit for private building. A growing feature of our housing programme has been the fact that private building has far outstripped local authority building and, consequently, it is a matter of great importance that credit facilities be available for people financing the building of their own homes.

Many Deputies have referred to this and I know myself of people seeking loans at the present time who find that these loans are delayed or are not available to them as readily as they seemed to be at other times. The popular conception is that there is a credit squeeze and I think we must accept that. In Great Britain there has been a very definite credit squeeze and our banks are exercising the same type of restriction, and this is being done even in respect of small amounts. People who have had to get accommodation in banks are being called in to redeem the promise they made of repayment and in some cases they are expected to liquidate the amount in a very short time.

In large centres of population like Dublin, Cork and Limerick, there is an obvious need for an accelerated housing programme and it is one of the things about which the Minister could do something positive. If the Minister for Finance, with the knowledge at his disposal, thinks there is a shortage of money, there is no reason why he should not be able to tell the building societies that he will be prepared to make the money available to them, considering that it is money which is not being made available by way of grant but money which is being gainfully employed in providing first, a social asset for the country and, secondly, in keeping our people, who are our greatest asset, in Ireland to work here and to be the foundation of the future families of the country and the hope that the well-being of the nation will continue. I should like to impress on the Minister—although I do not want to overplay this matter of housing—that this ought to be his first study, this problem which is capable of and which needs a fast solution.

On the question of public housing, the delay in dealing with applications to the local authority for SDA loans is not easily explained. Now that I have in front of me the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government, I would say that anything he can do to expedite decisions in this regard would be more than welcomed by the many people who wish to build homes of their own.

The recipients of the proposed increases in social welfare benefits are pleased, as is everybody else in the country, with the amount that has been granted under this heading. The only regret anybody would express is that these social welfare benefit recipients must wait. I have heard an explanation of this previously, that the various pension books cannot be dealt with immediately. That is understandable in view of the large number of recipients involved. Nevertheless, there is no reason why slips giving the appropriate increase could not be printed, as they have been printed on other occasions, and be gummed on the existing books. That would not present any difficulty and although 1st August has been decided upon as the date for the commencement of these increased payments for the non-contributory classes, I would ask the Minister most earnestly to reconsider his decision in the light of the fact that the problem is not insurmountable. It would mean, of course, that an increased sum would have to be provided in the current year if payment were to be made earlier than the date which the Minister has announced in his Budget speech, in respect of the period from 1st June to 1st August, a matter of a couple of months. However, the effort would be well worth while because of the sense of security and well-being, as well as the measure of frugal comfort, it would bring to those people at an earlier date. I commend that suggestion to the Minister as something which is quite possible without imposing undue hardship on the staffs of the Departments concerned.

One is rather concerned about this means test. I heard the Minister for Social Welfare express his conviction in regard to this, but this is something on which I am not very ready to accept the assurances given. Previous experience has, on occasion, been painful. Anyone who approaches local authorities in these matters finds a means test a distasteful business. It must be as distasteful to the officials who implement it as it is to those who make representations on behalf of constituents, or even those officials who make the actual payments. It would be wise on the part of the Minister to ensure that nothing will happen which will result in lessening the amount received by these people at the present time.

The Minister says that 5/- will be payable to approximately 40,000 people and 10/- to approximately 70,000. I think those are the figures he gave us. One is at a loss to understand how the accounting will be done. If an old age pensioner or a widow does a bit of charing for a day, or even half a day, once a week, and gets 10/- for it, will that deprive her of the increase of 10/- per week? That is what we are doing. We are doing it deliberately with our eyes wide open. We are imposing a means test of £26 per year. That works out at exactly 10/- per week. These classes are the weakest in the community and the least vocal in relation to what is happening to them. They do not readily understand how this means test is drawn. It is pitiful that a small supplement to the somewhat meagre social welfare benefits should be used for the purpose of depriving anyone of the modest increase now being given.

As the code stands, a person can earn up to £52 10s. per year and yet obtain the full pension. Why should we change it now? Why should we deprive 40,000 of the weakest of our citizens of this benefit? I do not believe the Minister wants to do that. I do not believe any Party in this House want to do it. Before the Finance Bill comes before the House, I suggest to the Minister that this is one of the things in his Budget that he should wipe out. It is a question of only 40,000 people; 5/- per week for these would mean £13 a year extra. A little over £½ million would cover this. Is it worth imposing hardship on these people for the sake of an extra £½ million? I suggest there are many ways in which the Minister and his Department could make a saving of £½ million in the present Budget, thereby enabling these people to enjoy the benefit of the full social welfare increases.

I want now to deal with agriculture. A question was asked today which concerns the southern counties, and my own county in particular, in relation to milk. The Minister referred to the amount of subsidy being made available by way of support price for milk. I want to put to the Minister now the position of the dairy farmers. At considerable cost to the country, we have almost reached the end of the bovine tuberculosis eradication scheme. That has been done at great capital loss. A farmer is paid approximately £70 for a reactor. A replacement costs him anything from £90 to £110. Consequently farmers have to provide extra capital in order to restock. Farmers are being asked to increase their cattle population and it was to this end the heifer subsidy scheme was introduced. It must be remembered, however, that young cattle which replace the older milch cows do not produce the same amount of milk. Consequently the income to the farmer is depleted.

The Minister for Agriculture mentioned the increase today and he mentioned that there was another benefit in the price of milk from the point of view of the clean milk campaign. I am sure the Minister is aware, as the farmers are aware, that the type of equipment required to produce milk of a quality which will command the extra penny involves heavy capital expenditure. The figure I got was somewhere in the region of £300. That is a considerable sum. Even if we reduce that to £200, the position is still not satisfactory. What inducement will be required to encourage farmers to undertake a capital expenditure of £200? The tests are very rigid and very rigorous. They are not likely to prove an incentive. This is something upon which the Minister should think deeply, particularly from the point of view of quality milk.

Price supports are an important bulwark in relation to the dairying industry and they are certainly generous in that they enable those engaged in the industry to hold on to a living. The dairy industry is the foundation of our agricultural economy. Without it we can have no cattle population. We owe it to that primary part of our agricultural industry, dairying, that it be kept in a healthy state. It would seem there will be an increased supply of milk in the coming year. Perhaps the Minister does not like to hear that from the financial point of view, because he will have to provide an increased subsidy. However, it is a healthy sign that the farmers have heeded the appeals made to them and increased their stock of breeding heifers. As a result, we have had an increase in the milk supply.

My colleague from the west spoke of the necessity for drainage. The Land Project has assisted farmers to deal with that problem. However, the Minister ought to look at the improvement grant figure of £30 per acre, which has remained static for a long time. In the meantime, the costs of drainage, land improvement, liming and fertilising have increased. That is one matter the Minister might look into when considering the improvement of grasslands and other land. Our greatest wealth comes from our greatest natural resource, the land.

The yield from income tax has been increasing. I am sure it is a source of great pleasure to the Minister that the upward trend is continuing and shows no sign of stopping. The institution of PAYE and better methods of collection have brought in increased revenue, but the allowances payable have not kept pace with this. This is something to which the Minister will certainly have to pay heed. It is unreasonable to keep the allowances at their present figures while increases have occurred in the cost of living. It is true that the number of people now paying income tax is much larger, and the amount which would have to be made available for increased allowances would certainly be larger.

There is no valid reason for keeping the marriage allowance at £394 for as long as it has been kept at that figure. In terms of present day values and the standard of living a person might expect it is not a realistic figure. The allowance in respect of a child is completely out of date. It is most unrealistic to give an allowance today of £120 in respect of a child attending school, particularly a secondary school or vocational school. If they are healthy—most of them are, thank God—they are able to take care of the same amount of food as any ordinary adult. So far as clothing is concerned, they can do with much more because they have the activity and means to get through it faster.

The Minister for Education told us that we have a cheaper system of education than most countries. Nevertheless, anybody who has to send children to school, pay the fees and provide the amount of books and other equipment a child requires at present finds the allowance of £120 by no means generous. There ought to be a sliding scale by which the allowance would increase according as a child advances in studentship, even to the university. The taxpayer should be enabled to allow his child to proceed to the highest level he is capable of attaining until such time as the State is able to provide an opportunity for full education for all of its citizens who desire it.

I should like to draw the attention of the Minister to the suggestion referred to by the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Cosgrave, in regard to the various sums of money made available to semi-State bodies for expenditure. This matter was referred to by the Committee of Public Accounts in their report for the past year. The Committee were conscious during their deliberations of the substantial sums of voted moneys paid to State-sponsored bodies. While, as Deputy Cosgrave said, nobody wants to deal with the affairs of these bodies on a day-to-day basis—and nobody wants the most unrealistic thing of all: a debate on the expenditure of these moneys—the time has come when some system ought to be evolved whereby the accounts of these bodies are submitted for scrutiny by a Committee of this House. It need not necessarily be the Committee of Public Accounts.

It would generate more confidence if these accounts were subjected to some such scrutiny. The accounts are, of course, audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General in most cases and certificates are available and laid before us here. But in the ordinary way it ought to be possible to have the officials responsible for the disbursement of these moneys appear before a Committee of this House, assisting them and giving them any information they desire in respect of these moneys. I would hope that the Minister for Finance, as the Minister responsible for the disbursement of these moneys and explaining it to the House, will take the first step in regard to this matter. If he would take heed of the recommendation on the report made by the Leader of the main Opposition, it would do nothing but good. I believe it could do away with an amount of ill-advised or ill-considered talk. Certainly, the House would be assured that at all stages it would exercise the fullest control over these sums of money. They have reached a considerable figure at the present time.

I have deliberately left education for the last. I would not like to let pass the remarks made by the Minister for Education, when speaking on the Budget, without saying something. If I let the remarks go it would look as if I agree with them in toto or that there were not facts in the speech which I think should be challenged. There will be an occasion shortly in this House to deal with education when the Minister introduces his Estimate. We will be able to debate the question of education and what the trend is in these matters on that occasion.

When the Minister for Education spoke on the Budget, he said that he did not want to go back on the sordid history of a couple of occasions when there was another Government in power. I regret the Minister adopted that line. I should regret that education generally would figure in what might be called a purely political debate in the House. I mention this here today because of some of the facts which the Minister mentioned and which I cannot reconcile.

The Minister made great play with the fact that the Fianna Fáil Government at the present time are doing something, whereas Governments in the past were paying lip service to this matter of education. That is rather hard to understand. He spoke of the improved conditions at the present time implying a vast improvement since the present administration took over. I want to quote figures from the abstract because of what the Minister said. The total spent on education in this State in 1956-57 was £12,780,700. That was made up of various sums— £9,113,000 odd on primary education; £1,179,500 on technical education; £1,820,000 on secondary education; and £667,000 odd on university education. The total State bill in the financial year was £109,123,219. That means that 11.7 per cent of the total State expenditure was spent on education.

The Minister spoke about the year 1963-64 and said there was increased subsidy for that year. Education had increased to £21,024,870 but the State expenditure had risen to £167,036,460. Here you have a figure of 12.5 per cent of the national expenditure on education. During that year £929,000 was spent on the universities. If that were excluded from the total spent on education it would reduce the percentage to 12.03. I do not know what the Minister finds in that Estimate that merits great praise and I do not know why he should highlight it with such an amount of what might be regarded as glee on this occasion. When we look at the record for the year 1956-57 we see that at the end of the year the amount unspent was £80,084. Last year, 1963-64, the sum unspent was £307,952. These figures are somewhat significant.

The Minister also mentioned the question of scholarships. The implication was that until 1961, when the scholarships Act was passed, nothing much had been done by way of scholarships for education. I would again remind the House that prior to the passing of the scholarships Act, which was certainly the first time the State contributed, there was expenditure in relation to post-primary and secondary scholarships. In 1956-57 3.5 per cent of the pupils in secondary schools were there on scholarships, without the assistance of the State, whereas, in 1963-64, with the assistance of the State, the percentage had risen to 5.8.

The Minister also mentioned the great increase in regard to the erection of schools. A very laudable and a very creditworthy effort certainly has been made in that respect. The present Minister for Health, when he was Parliamentary Secretary, made an excellent effort and set a great standard in expenditure on schools. I want to say, for the benefit of the Minister for Education, that in 1956-57 £1,544,000 was spent on the erection of new schools. That was 1.4 per cent of the national revenue at a time when the total expenditure was £109,123,289. The growth in expenditure on schools did not keep pace with total expenditure because in 1963-64 we spent £2,136,000 on new schools while national expenditure was £167,036,460 which represents 1.2 per cent. Therefore, I find it difficult to understand the attitude of the Minister in this regard.

One of the most difficult things to understand concerns new places. The Minister said: "More significant, I think, is that 116,750 new places have been provided in our primary schools in that period." I do not know what impression he wished to convey. It certainly did not convey anything to me, although I tried to discover what he meant.

According to statistics, in 1957 there were 503,381 pupils in our primary schools and in 1963, there were 502,059. If I take the number of new places to which the Minister refers and add the number of places provided in the years from 1957 to 1963 in all the new schools erected over that period, I find that the total number of new places is 84,493. Where the Minister gets the figure of 116,000 new places, I do not know. I take it that what is meant is that even in the case of the 84,493 new places made available since 1957, due to the replacement of old schools, we did not in fact provide new places in the sense of extra places.

The number of schools has remained pretty static. Deputy Gilhawley mentioned the decline in numbers in certain areas and the natural increase in other areas. It is understandable that schools will shut down in one place and open in another. I fail to understand why the Minister should mention this fact and highlight it in respect of that period. The House was informed that 640 new schools have been built. I presume the Minister is taking the figures, which I have not got, for 1964 into account and that they represent the sum total of schools provided from 1957 to the present day.

It was gratifying to learn that the teacher-pupil ratio has been reduced, particularly here in Dublin. That is a very laudable thing and I hope it will continue. In that way, we shall ensure that the number of pupils under the care of any teacher will bear some relationship to what good teaching demands from him.

When the Minister takes pride in the fact that from 1958 onwards only trained teachers were employed, I can only refer him to his assertion that "teachers are not readily provided; you must make arrangements to recruit and train them." He ought to have heeded that remark in his speech. If he was able to provide trained teachers in 1958, they did not grow overnight. The minimum period of training is two years. They commenced their training, then, in 1955 or 1956, and certainly before that, in the case of preparatory colleges.

The Minister mentioned the provision for an increased number of teachers from our training colleges. He is new to his office whereas some of us have a long association with teaching. There was a second training college. There need never have been an enlargement. It was closed because warnings at that time by the responsible teaching organisation were not heeded and teachers were produced who for years had to break stones on the roads or else had to emigrate to earn a living. It is absolutely necessary in present circumstances, to enlarge our training college for men. In regard to the sum of £1½ million for that training college for men, I would point out that half of this sum is provided by way of loan repayable over 35 years guaranteed by the Minister for Finance. We ought to keep these matters in perspective.

We ought not to overload the amount of political import to be attached to the statement: "This is costing £1½ million." At a meeting of the Committee of Public Accounts on 2nd July, 1964, I queried the Secretary of the Department of Education in regard to work on St. Patrick's Training College, Drumcondra, Dublin, and learned from him that the estimate for the work of conversion and modernisation was £1¼ million. He mentioned: "... a bank loan of £750,000 having been made available to the college authorities." He informed the Committee that the terms of repayment had been agreed upon and that the loan was for a period of 35 years.

If I have dwelt on this matter of education, it is because I believe it is and will be for many years to come one of the great social needs with which this country is faced. I believe the Minister for Education was right when he said that if we wanted to advance in that respect, we must be prepared to make not merely a contribution in lip service to this question of preparation for the role of education in face of the challenge of the future. For that reason I was disappointed in regard to the comprehensive schools. The Minister said that four of these would be in operation by September of next year. If the Minister means the operation of four of them by September, 1966, I wonder when we may expect their provision generally where they are needed.

I wonder, as well, when will the question of technical and technological education and the spread of university education become a practical matter in so far as the Budget is concerned. I understand the report of the Commission on Higher Education is available and I eagerly look forward to the Minister's Estimate, when perhaps he will be more explicit in regard to these matters than he has been in regard to some of the matters he mentioned in his Budget speech.

I do not intend to delay the House further on this matter at the moment, and I regret it if I have unduly done so; but to allow these figures to go unchallenged while I was sitting in the House would seem to be an admission that they were correct or that they were capable of the interpretation the Minister put on them.

In so far as this House is concerned, I hope that at all stages, no matter what Government or what Minister for Finance will have the task of presenting the bill, the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Education will have the courage and the conviction, to which I readily subscribe, to recognise that one of the great social needs of the future certainly is education. In the youth of the nation lies the wealth of the nation and its hope of survival in the years to come.

We are coming to the end of this debate on the Budget and I think this year we have had a very good and, I hope, constructive and fruitful discussion on where the country is going and on the direction which the Government feel proper to give economic policy in the country.

I should like to divide what I have to say between the budgetary proposals contained in the Minister's Financial Statement, on the one hand, and the question of economic policy and direction on the other. When I spoke on behalf of the Fine Gael Party immediately following the Minister's Budget Statement, I made it clear that, so far as the proposals in the Budget were concerned relating to social welfare benefits, we welcomed them. We welcome them, we expected them and we had campaigned for them. On that account we agreed immediately that we would support such taxation as was necessary to provide for these increases. I claimed on behalf of my Party that the measure and extent of the increases in social welfare payments were in large degree attributable to the Fine Gael policy, and the Fine Gael campaign in the last general election.

Needless to say, and again to be expected, that claim has been rejected and repudiated by the Taoiseach and by members of the Government. I do not think it matters in the slightest why or how it was decided that a measure of social justice should be provided for the old and the infirm. The important thing is that it has been decided. No matter how many speeches the Taoiseach may make or members of the Fianna Fáil Government may make, we will always be convinced that were it not for the fact that last month there was a general election, were it not for the fact that we went into that election in pursuance of a policy aimed at a just society, were it not for the fact that we succeeded in arousing throughout this country a public awareness of the existence of poverty and indigence in our midst, we are satisfied, and nothing will convince us otherwise, this Budget would not have taken the form it has taken.

Indeed, I am reminded of the fact that in the early days of the general election, on 29th of last March, the Taoiseach made reference in a speech in Galway to the form this Budget would take. I would remind members of the Fianna Fáil Party of what he then said because I think it indicates that probably the campaign that subsequently took place affected his prognostications as to the kind of Budget we were likely to have. The Taoiseach as reported in the daily press of 29th March said that, on a preliminary review, estimates suggested that no additions to existing taxation would be required, provided no new expenditure was undertaken in the coming year. That is a very balanced and, I think, a very careful statement. He went on to say that, if, however, it was decided to increase old age pensions and other social payments, strengthen the aid to farmers, extend the education services or develop in any major way other important services, some tax changes might be necessary.

That was the Taoiseach speaking on 29th of March in the early days of the election. He spoke as a man who was anxious to convince the country that there was going to be no increase in taxation unless it was decided to give some increase in old age pensions, some further benefits to farmers, extend our education services and matters of that kind. I think it is not unreasonable for me to say that, if the Taoiseach, or the Fianna Fáil Party, had always intended to do what they now have done, what the Taoiseach said on 29th of March at the outset of the election campaign would have been far different from what, in fact, he did say. I have little doubt that it was the tempo and the nature of the general election that subsequently won from him an undertaking on the eve of the general election that a measure of social relief for the aged and distressed would be provided. However, those are matters for debate. As I indicated, the important thing is that in this Budget, following the general election, an increase has been provided in the social welfare payments, an increase which is welcome and which we support in every way.

We indicated when the Financial Resolutions were being moved that we would support increased taxation on beer, tobacco and cigarettes for the objects contained in the Minister's Budget Statement, but that we felt the increased tax on petrol was not wise in the circumstances, that it certainly was not necessary and is not necessary for these increases. We therefore opposed the increased tax on petrol, but we did not oppose it to deprive anyone in any way of the social welfare benefits contained in the Budget because the revenue to be obtained from the increased petrol tax is not necessary to provide for the social welfare benefits. Now that we are discussing the General Resolution, and in order to make it quite clear that we support the proposals in the Budget for increased social welfare benefits, I should like to indicate at this stage that we do not intend to, and will not, oppose the passage of this General Resolution.

Having said that, I think it is necessary to prick in some way, if one can, the sense of complacency in which we have cloaked ourselves in this debate in the past few days. We are inclined to feel that, having provided an increase of 10/- per week for an old age pensioner who has no more than 10/- a week, and having provided an increase of 5/- per week for an old age pensioner who already has 10/- a week, we have gone a great step forward towards achieving better conditions for the old age pensioners. It would be a sorry day for all of us in this House and for the many hundreds and thousands of distressed people outside the House, if that complacent feeling were firmly held. I should like to bring us all down to earth to some extent by reminding Deputies—it is not necessary to remind the Minister—that even with these increases in the social welfare payments, this year we are spending a smaller percentage of current Government expenditure than we spent in previous years on the poor, the sick, distressed people, and those who are normally the object of social welfare payments.

That is a sobering thought. May I just refer the House to the figures? In 1959-60, 19.8 per cent of the then current Government expenditure was spent on social welfare benefits. That is close on 20 per cent. That means that almost 20 per cent of what the Government were spending that year was devoted to the old age pensioners, the sickness benefits of one kind or another, and to the care in one form or another of distressed and handicapped people. The following year the percentage dropped to 18.7. The year after that, it dropped dramatically to 16.9. The year after that, it dropped to 16.5, and it dropped again to 15.7 last year.

This year the figure has been increased merely by .3 per cent. All that represents a drop in those seven years of 3.8 per cent. In talking about percentages, one gets caught up in figures and I do not wish to do that. I merely wish to direct the attention of Deputies to the plain fact that, with all the jubilation and flagwaving, with the sort of self-gratification that has been going on in this House, this year we are spending almost four per cent less of current Government expenditure on social welfare benefits than we were spending seven years ago.

Of course an increase, and a substantial increase, in social welfare payments was necessary. It was overdue. Do not let anyone think that we have gone as far as we could. If we were as conscious of the necessary object of social justice as we were seven years ago, this year we would be providing much more than the Minister is providing in his Budget. Next year when the Minister brings in his Budget, I hope the slack will have been taken up, and the gap substantially filled, and that at least we will aim at providing the same measure of social justice as we were providing seven years ago when the percentage figure was 19.8.

Having said that, and having referred to the social welfare aspects of the Budget, I should like now to say something about the economic aspects of the Budget. The leader of the Fine Gael Party, Deputy Cosgrave, in the course of his speech, made clear his views, and the views of the Fine Gael Party, as to the role our Party should play in this Dáil, in Opposition. As the main Opposition Party, we intend to play, and we shall play, a constructive and, I hope, an intelligent role. We shall be constructive in the interests of the country. We shall seek in every way possible to encourage the course which in our view will lead to national advancement. That may involve, I hope frequently, our supporting Government action. I think that would be desirable—that one would see a Government taking the right decisions—but if it may appear the Government take the wrong decisions, that will involve from us very definite and vigorous opposition.

But it also means that we intend to probe into all spheres of Government activity in order to bring home to the Government, if necessary, the great sense of urgency that should possess all of us in this country as to the problems that require to be solved. I believe there has been in recent years a feeling of euphoria in the Government and possessing most people in this country. We have rather regarded ourselves as being able to choose our own rate of progress, as being entitled to set our own targets and to proceed at a rate of progress which is satisfactory to us but which to others might seem as a snail inching forward.

I believe the time has come to pick ourselves out of that sort of feeling. There are a few things that are not generally understood by all of us which should be. First of all, it is not generally appreciated in this country that the world today is suffering from a population explosion. There has been a dramatic, significant—words fail one to describe exactly what is happening—increase in world population in recent years that has led and will increasingly lead to the fiercest form of competition ever known to mankind.

It is a truism to say we are living in a competitive world. I wonder how many of our people realise that we on this island just cannot afford to have a situation in which we cannot contain our own population? We cannot afford to have a situation here in which our population will drift elsewhere because if we cannot provide for our own population, there will be, increasingly so, hungry eyes looking in our direction.

That is part of the urgency of the present situation. It will become increasingly urgent in the years that lie ahead. It is against that background and indeed that sense of urgency that the Fine Gael Party—we make no apology for it—have propounded and put forward their views as to the way in which the economy should be directed, if necessary, but certainly the way in which economic policy should be faced. We believe sincerely that this country just cannot afford the kind of economic programme which has been the policy of the Government and about which they have talked so much. We just cannot afford that kind of approach. It is too limited, the targets are too low, the rate of progress postulated is too small and it is not a sufficiently urgent concept of what requires to be done.

Deputies have referred to the Second Programme for Economic Expansion in various ways in this debate. I do not wish to go over the ground that has already been travelled but it should be stated and it should be realised that given everything that is hoped for in the Second Programme, in five years time this country may not be able to survive. Given a four per cent economic growth over the next three or four years, given emigration figures reduced to 18,000 a year, given an employment increase of 6,000 or 7,000 a year, where will we be in 1970 with the world population, with competition growing more and more acute?

If they are our targets, if that is the extent of our aim during the next five years, this country will continue to be, and even more so, the limping poor invalid in Europe. We cannot afford that. A four per cent growth rate, with most other countries in western Europe having a rate approaching twice that figure, is not nearly enough. We regard four per cent as sufficient though the gap between us and other European countries is widening.

It is bad enough that these should be the humble aims in the present economic programme but it is quite tragic that these aims apparently are not being achieved. We did achieve in the year just concluded a growth rate of something more than four per cent, but we had other features during the year which were disturbing. Instead of containing emigration at 18,000, it increased by 40 per cent or exceeded the programme figure by that percentage; instead of increasing employment by 6,000 or so—0.7 per cent—the increase in employment was merely 0.4 per cent, or 3,000 people. Instead of keeping unemployment at a rate around 40,000, there were close on 60,000 registered as unemployed during the year.

These are depressing figures. It is bad enough to seek a result under this Second Programme which would contain emigration at 18,000 a year and merely provide some 6,000 more jobs for our people. It is bad the target should be so low but it is far worse when in fact these limited aims are not being achieved. That indicates—I hope and intend to be constructive in what I have to say—that this Eighteenth Dáil has a great deal to do and the Government have a tremendous task ahead of them. Certainly so far as we are concerned, in the achievement of what must be done the only sound criterion will be the employment of more people in a higher standard of living and in the achieving of that a great deal still remains to be done.

It would be the height of folly for people to believe that everything is grand, that everything in the garden is rosy and wonderful as long as we are achieving an increase of four per cent in our gross national product. That would be the height of folly and I feel that many people, having listened to much that was said, understandably said, I suppose, in the general election, have begun to feel that we are progressing and that everything is satisfactory. The fact is that a great deal requires to be done and that a great deal of hard work will have to be done by the Government. I hope that in the hard work we can assist. Certainly it will be our concern and our duty in Opposition to assist in every way possible, and if the Government appear to be flagging, it will be our duty to spur them on.

Having said that in relation to our progress up to this, I should like to direct the attention of Deputies to the comments that have been made for the first time on the year's progress under the Second Programme by the National Industrial Economic Council. I fear that many people do not realise how important it is that there should be available a body, however composed— we have certain views about its composition—which is representative of bodies and organisations independent of the Government to give an objective comment on economic progress during the year. That body is the National Industrial Economic Council which published its comments on the Department of Finance review of the year 1964, the first year under the Second Programme. In the NIEC comment, there is, understandably if what I have said up to this is accurate and correct, an expression of concern as to the progress achieved in the past 12 months.

The NIEC comment refers to the fact that we have had an emigration figure as high as 25,000 in the year and it suggests four steps which might be taken by the Government in relation to employment. I do not know whether the Government considered the four proposals put forward by the National Industrial Economic Council. I am sure that some of them have been considered. Perhaps the Government feel that steps along these lines, or some of these lines, are already being taken, but I should like to hear, as I am sure we will hear, from the Minister for Finance the view of the Government on the proposals set forth in the second paragraph of the NIEC comment. These four proposals have already been referred to by Deputies and I do not wish to read them out again. I should like, however, to direct the attention of Deputies to the concern expressed by the NIEC in their fourth paragraph with regard to the rate of increase in industrial output in the closing months of the year just concluded.

They refer in paragraph four to the fact that there had been a slowing down in the rate of increase in industrial output in the last half of 1964. They go on to say:

While it is too soon to determine whether this is due to continuing rather than to temporary difficulties, the developing situation should be kept under review and preparations made for taking any necessary corrective action.

In other words, the NIEC refer to the fact that the rate of increase in industrial output has been slowing down, as indeed it has, quite markedly in the period under review and they therefore suggest that some stimulus is needed, some push is needed to keep things going. They suggest to the Government that preparations should be made for the taking of necessary corrective action. Now, the corrective action must be action which will push on the economy, which will liven things up. It cannot be action which will dampen things down or depress the economy. I should like to know from the Minister whether that recommendation has been considered by the Government, and if so, what action is proposed or will be taken to make sure that the economy will be kept increasing and working at as high a level at least as in the first part of 1964.

That paragraph with regard to corrective action leads me to deal with one other aspect of the Minister's Budget Statement, that is, the balance of payments. The Minister referred to the fact that the Central Bank proposed to have, and is probably having, consultations and discussions with the commercial banks. I hope the Minister will take the House fully into his confidence in this matter. There is, and there has been for some weeks back, a shortage of credit. This shortage of credit has hit many people, many sections of the community in a variety of ways.

I should like to deal with one aspect of the apparent credit shortage which has been most pronounced in relation to private building. Deputies will recollect one building society recently announced a limit of £3,000 on loans for the building of a house. We all know here particularly, but, indeed, in every country it is true, how serious and harmful and how distressing a general credit squeeze can be. Restriction on credit of general application can result in the most terrible hardship for ordinary people. It is, of course, a deflationary measure which is similar to the most severe taxation.

When the Minister mentioned that the Central Bank would have discussions with the commercial banks, he had in mind and was referring to a deficit in our balance of payments. I do not know how seriously the Minister, speaking on behalf of the Government, regards the present deficit in our balance of payments and, therefore, I do not know the object of the Central Bank discussions with the commercial banks. If the Central Bank hopes to achieve a situation with the commercial banks that available credit will be used for productive purposes, one can understand and approve of what is proposed to be done, but if the object of the Central Bank discussions with the commercial banks is to achieve willy-nilly a reduction this year in the deficit in our balance of payments, then I should like to have, on behalf of the Fine Gael Party certainly, a great deal more information because, from the information available to us—there may be more information available to the Government; I do not know—there seems to be a pretty concerted view that so far as our balance of payments situation is concerned at present, there is no need for any depression or deflationary measures in relation to our economy.

The Department of Finance in their Progress Report for 1964—it does show the change in attitude of the Department of Finance when one can quote them in these terms in this respect, with which the Department of Finance is concerned, although it is not entirely responsible for it—refer to the balance of payments situation at page 26 and say:

The increase in the trade deficit in 1964 is likely to have been partly offset by an increase in net visible receipts. The balance of payments deficit is estimated to have been of the order of £21 million as compared with £22 million in 1963. Despite a substantial increase in exports, the 1964 deficit was somewhat higher than the average envisaged for the period of the second programme. The rise in imports which brought it about, however, contributed to the large increase in capital formation and building up of export potential. As in 1962 and in 1963, the deficit was more than covered by an inflow of capital.

There is no evidence in that passage of any concern by the Department of Finance in regard to the balance of payments situation. They point out, as they are entitled to do, that whatever deficit was there, there was an increase in our export potential, an increase in the amount of capital formation and that, in fact, whatever we were bringing in was being used or would be used to enable the country to trade better in future. That, so far as we are concerned, is an important statement representing the view of the Department of Finance.

A view was also expressed by the National Industrial Economic Council on page 6 of their comments. They say in regard to the balance of payments in paragraph 3:

There was a small surplus in the current balance of payments in 1961, deficits of £14 million in 1962, £22 million in 1963, £30 million in 1964 and a deficit of the order of £25-£30 million is expected in 1965. In terms of constant 1960 prices, the average of the deficits during 1961-4 has been above the figure of £16 million for the current deficit envisaged for the period of the second programme. During 1962-4, the current deficits were more than covered by an inflow of capital, so that there was some increase in external reserves. While it is not possible to relate the current deficit to the behaviour of particular heads of national expenditure, it is nevertheless significant that the growth of the current deficits has been associated with the rapid increase in gross capital formation.

Again, the National Industrial Economic Council feel that a deficit of the order of £30 million or £31 million is more than is referred to in the Second Programme but that, nevertheless, we were getting in capital goods and as our potential for better trading was being increased, everything was all right. In the OECD Economic Survey for March of this year, which was mentioned by the Minister in his Financial Statement, I read on page 16 this comment on our balance of payments position:

In the last three years the growth of the Irish economy has been accompanied by the emergence of a growing current deficit on external account. A small surplus in 1961 became a deficit of £13 million in 1962, £22 million in 1963 and £30 million in 1964 and, on present trends, an appreciably lower figure is unlikely this year. At its present level, the deficit is relatively high and amounts to over 3 per cent of GNP. But the nature of the deficit, taken in conjunction with Ireland's external asset/liability position and the manner in which the deficit is being financed, suggest that the current account position should not at the present time give grounds for too much concern.

Those are three comments on our balance of payments position and they would, I should imagine, have represented the concerted advice to the Government as to what should be done in relation to the direction of the economy this year. It amounted to this, that, whatever deficit we had in our balance of payments, our rate of progress at home was so unsatisfactory, with unemployment running as high as 58,000, with emigration reaching 25,000, with a downturn in industrial output, the situation demanded a spurring on of the economy and nothing done to depress things.

It is against that background that, immediately prior to the Budget, the Central Bank Quarterly Report came out. I should have said before dealing with the Central Bank Report that the Department of Finance, in its Progress Report for the year 1964, starting at page 27, referred to the main developments expected in 1965. These are set out on page 27 and then, on page 28, the ninth of the expected developments for 1965 is a deficit of £30 million in balance of payments. So that, the Department of Finance, with equanimity, looks forward in its report on the year 1964 to a deficit in our balance of payments of £30 million in this year and does not regard that as in any way disturbing because it would be expected to be associated with the same situation as took place in 1964 —an increase in our potential for trading.

It is in those circumstances that the Central Bank Quarterly Report came out last month and there is a different picture painted here. In this report, page 16, an exercise is entered into as to what way things should be shaped for the coming year and on page 16 it is envisaged that there should be an aim to reduce by £10 million the deficit in our balance of payments for 1965 and that we should aim in the coming year to have a deficit in our balance of payments not exceeding £20 million.

When the Minister, in his Financial Statement, referred to the balance of payments situation, I do not know, and I do not think any Deputy in this House outside of the Government knows, whether he was rejecting or accepting the views contained in the Department of Finance Progress Report for 1964, in the NIEC comments on that Report, in the Economic Survey published by OECD, all of which indicated that our balance of payments situation, while it required attention, did not require any deflationary measure, or whether, on the other hand, the Minister accepted a £10 million reduction as suggested in the Central Bank Report. Therefore, I would hope that the Minister can indicate to us a little more fully what is involved in such discussions as are envisaged between the Central Bank and the commercial banks because a designed reduction in credit, a concealed or contrived reduction in credit at this stage of our economic development could be very serious, indeed, and could bring about a recession which none of us would care to see.

There has been reference by Deputies to some other things which had not been dealt with in the Budget and I just want to refer to one of these, that is, the question of rates. The Taoiseach indicated in his speech on the Budget that the problem of rates was engaging and would engage the attention of the Government. I do not want to be scoring debating points but I think it is not unreasonable for me to remind the Taoiseach that this is the time of the year in which Governments and, I suppose, particularly heads of Governments, become particularly concerned about rates but as the spring grows into summer and as the autumn begins to loom up the subject of rates can be very quickly forgotten. I do not think it is unreasonable to remind the Taoiseach and the Government that we have heard at Budget time throughout many years back the same kind of protestation that the subject of rates was going to engage the wholehearted attention of the Government. It is always something that is about to be done but it is something that very rarely is done.

The fact is that we have accepted and adopted in this country over the past 40 years a system of local taxation which is regressive, which is indefensible on the grounds of justice, a system of taxation which falls upon people irrespective of their ability to pay and that system of local taxation in respect of which all of us are critical has, in fact, never been changed. Efforts are made from time to time by Governments, by political parties, to cloak the impact of rates, to cushion their effect on particularly vocal sections of the community but the fact is that, as Deputy Lyons pointed out earlier today in this debate, the burden of rates is such that in Mayo at the moment it is almost 80/- in the £. In other parts of the country, the impact is almost as serious. The Taoiseach says it is going to command immediate Government attention and he refers to the possibility of a committee or a commission. I have very little faith in commissions or committees. It is a very old habit of the Taoiseach's to set up a commission to examine whatever problem currently happens to be difficult. We have had it in relation to burning problems here in the past.

I do not know whether a commission to examine the problem of rates will achieve anything. I would have thought that this problem would have so engaged the attention of the Government over recent years that they would now be in a position to put forward constructive proposals. Certainly, the rating system has not proved acceptable and drastic changes are required. Whether we are going to have ad hoc proposals by the Government or whether we are going to have a commission to examine the matter, I hope that between now and the Budget next year there will be fundamental changes in relation to our system of local taxation.

Again, I wish to indicate on behalf of my Party that we support the reliefs contained in the Budget. We believe that they are necessary. We indicate again that, necessary as they are, they do not represent anything more than is just and proper. The percentage we are now spending on social welfare benefits and payments is considerably smaller than we were spending seven years ago. I hope the Budget and the message it contains will mean that all of us will be more conscious of the fact that there are in our community a great many poor people, distressed people, who have difficulties to contend with that many of us do not realise and to whom living costs and rising ri = "2"prices represent a very real burden. It should be our concern to see that such measure of social relief as we provide for them at least is in accord, if not more than in accord, with changing values in money. These Budget increases, while they do not completely compensate for the fall in the value of money, are a step in the right direction and, accordingly, we will support this General Resolution.

This Budget has been referred to by most newspapers and by most of the people of the country as a social welfare Budget. We on this side of the House welcome what has been done but we believe that much more needs to be done to help the old age pensioners, the poor and the underprivileged in our society. As public representatives managing the affairs of this State, we believe it is the duty especially of the Government to do much more in the years ahead for the less fortunate people in our community.

There is, unfortunately, still poverty in our midst. Certain people may not realise it. Those who visit the luxury hotels of our cities or who visit our dance halls might not realise that in the midst of all there is poverty. I wish to quote from an article in the Catholic Standard of 14th May, 1965. Under the heading: “The Appalling Plight of the Aged Poor”, it states:

In Dublin city at the present time there are more than seventy thousand people over 65 years of age. The poor among them need help badly. They live in appalling conditions of cold, hunger and loneliness beyond our experience. The Catholic Housing Aid Society want to help them to find an answer to their problems.

It goes on to state:

Here are some appalling facts——

And these are appalling facts in what is supposed to be a Christian country——

Late at night in a city church the priest went to lock up the building. An old lady refused to leave the church even though it was 11 p.m. She had no place else to go.

There is the common case of a very old lady who was found dead. She had lain there for some days. The doctor's verdict was that she had died from starvation and cold.

An old lady was forced to retire to bed at 4 p.m. on Christmas Day because she had no light, no fuel....

In a very respectable area of Dublin City an old man was found sleeping on newspapers. In his younger days he had been very well off.

You may recall the case of an old couple living alone. The old lady was seriously ill in bed, and as she lay there her husband collapsed on the floor beside the bed. The old man was four days dead when their neighbours found them. The old lady died after a few days.

Many will remember the old couple in Eccles Street whose home was condemned. They refused accommodation in another part of the City and built a little shack in front of the doorway where they lived for some time. This happened in other districts also.

Further on it is stated:

These facts are true. The plight of the old people in poor circumstances is hard to believe. Pity alone is not enough.

A later paragraph reads:

Father Scully has carried out a great deal of research into the conditions of the aged, and his findings are bleak, indeed. They are bad enough on the economic side—many old people interviewed retire to bed at 5 p.m. to conserve their miserable allowance of fuel; with only a few exceptions, their only vegetable is potatoes: very few enjoy the "luxuries" of jam or biscuits; about 10 per cent never have a heated midday meal—but they are incomparably worse when they deal with the deeply personal sorrow of loneliness.

That is the country in which we are living. That is the country the present Government are ruling. We are behind the Government in what they have done so far for these people but we believe they have not gone far enough. We find it very difficult to understand the change of heart on the part of the Fianna Fáil Party. We know they are the Party of big business, that they get subscriptions from big business people to fight their elections, etc. The policy of this Government—maybe not starting off in 1932 and up to 1940 or 1945 but certainly over the past ten years— has been to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. That cannot be denied and in their Budget last year they gave an increase of £14 a week to High Court judges who already had £120 a week, bringing their salaries to £136 per week and, at the same time, they gave an increase of 2/6 a week to old age pensioners. There is, too, the added difference that the increase for high court judges was made retrospective to the previous November but the old age pensioners had to survive until the following August in order to get the increase of 2/6 per week.

This Budget shows a marked change in the attitude of the Fianna Fáil Government. Time after time over the past few years Fianna Fáil Ministers and spokesmen have said it was impossible to give more than 2/6 per week increase to old age pensioners. They used phrases like "As far as our economic position is concerned, it is impossible to give more." Even as late as 17th of last March, the Taoiseach, speaking in the Central Hotel in Dublin, said: "The character of the Budget, therefore, could not be dealt with until it had been decided what, if any, further expenditure having regard to the general desire to improve social welfare services and other aspects of Government activity." The phrase he used was "what, if any" so that, even at that time, the Government had apparently no intention of giving anything more than a 2/6 increase to old age pensioners. There are some people who will claim that what I have said and what has been stated in the Catholic Standard of May 14th may not be true. It will be no harm to quote from the Irish Times of 18th November, 1964, reporting the Fianna Fáil Árd Fheis. At that Árd Fheis, Mr. Michael Cronin, Seán MacDiarmada Cumann, Dublin North-East, said that the rich were growing richer and the well-off getting better off while the poor were getting poorer or destitute ; they had a responsibility for the poorer sections of the community.

If we, on this side of the House, said that, we would be met by cries from the far side that this was only Fine Gael propaganda and that it was not true. No people are better at painting a rosy picture than the members of the Fianna Fáil Party. Indeed, if after-dinner speeches could make this country wealthy, we should be one of the wealthiest countries in the world. I suppose people feel well disposed and in good form after a good dinner and all that goes with it, but here was Mr. Michael Cronin, a Fianna Fáil supporter and a delegate to the Fianna Fáil Árd Fheis, stating that, under Fianna Fáil Government policy, the rich were getting richer and the poor poorer.

The Deputy has already quoted that. Repetition is not in order.

He does not know yet that the election is over.

The election may be over but the Minister does not realise the poverty that exists in the country at the present time. I am quoting one of the Fianna Fáil delegates at the Árd Fheis.

The Deputy probably sent him in.

The Deputy can check on him. I have given his credentials.

(South Tipperary): He had not had a good dinner.

He may have spoken differently that evening after the reception that goes with the Árd Fheis.


Order. Deputy L'Estrange, without interruption.

There was a Mr. Eamon McDermott, Dublin NorthEast, an accredited delegate also.

Was he bona fide?

He would hardly have got there if he were not. He had this to say: "the 37/6 was quite inadequate in the twentieth century". If Deputy Davern said that it would be better than some of the things he has to say at times. "It was little more than half the person in Britain and Northern Ireland had," he said. He added that he did not think the old age pensioners of the North would be terribly anxious for a united Ireland, and said they were indifferent to the old age pensioners and they should be ashamed of the situation.

That was a delegate at the Fianna Fáil Árd Fheis proclaiming that the Fianna Fáil Government were indifferent to the old age pensioners and should be ashamed of the situation. The Minister for Social Welfare said, in reply, that he had to consider not only the desirability of doing these things which were recommended at the Árd Fheis but the practicability of doing them. He added that while he would not undertake to implement the resolutions, he had no objection to them in principle. The question of cost and the capacity of the community to pay was the main consideration. It is quite evident that at that time the Government had no intention of giving any more than 2/6 to the old age pensioners.

That is an amazing deduction.

I am quoting the Minister's words. I have quoted what the Taoiseach said. In any case, there has been a change of heart on the part of Fianna Fáil and we welcome it. So far as social welfare and health are concerned, we hope to see the resources of the country expanded to the point at which better provision can be made for the old age pensioners, the widows and the orphans and the other sections of our community which require help.

Deputies have already referred to children's allowances. It is unfortunate these have not been increased. As everybody knows, the cost of living, though we hear very little about it from the Government benches, has increased considerably and is imposing grave hardship on those with large families to support. The Government should have increased children's allowances.

The cost of administering the health services has increased enormously. If people derived benefits corresponding to that vast increase, there would be more satisfaction with the services. It seems to me that those sections who stand in need of health services are getting worse services in many cases than they were getting years ago. That cannot be denied. The time is overdue when those services should be carefully reviewed to ensure that fair value is obtained for the money spent on them. We were told when the Health Act was being introduced that it would mean an increase of 2/6d in the rates. We all now realise how untrue and misleading that statement was. We know now the burden it has imposed on the rates. We also know that, despite the money collected, the poor have to wait far too long for what they are entitled to: eye treatment, teeth, hearing aids, wheelchairs and so on.

This would be relevant on the Estimate. The administration of the Health Act does not arise on the General Resolution.

When Ministers make statements to the Dáil and the country, they should tell the truth. When certain Ministers were introducing their Estimates, they gave wrong and misleading information. On 4th May, at column 524 of the Official Report, the Minister for Lands said that the sum of £135,000 provided under Subhead C.1 for the acquisition of land showed an increase of £15,000 over the provision for 1964-65.

That has no relation to the debate on the General Resolution. It might arise on the Estimate. We are not discussing the division of land.

I am not discussing the division of land, Sir. This has already been mentioned by at least three other speakers and they were not challenged at any time by you, Sir. Deputy Sweetman and Deputy Dillon, as well as at least one other speaker, gave those figures, showing how the House had been misled by the Minister giving wrong figures and that there are now different figures in the Estimates.

That does not arise on the Budget.

The figures in the Budget are different from the figures given.

The debate on the Budget is confined to taxation, expenditure and financial policy. The question of land division and the acreage divided does not arise.

I am not mentioning land division and the acreage divided. I am saying that the Minister for Lands stated that a certain amount of money had been allocated under the different subheads. We find from the Budget speech of the Minister for Finance that those figures are different. Surely we are entitled to ask why they are different? Other Deputies have asked the Minister to give an explanation why certain Ministers gave certain figures and why in the Budget speech of the Minister for Finance the figures are different.

That would be a matter for the Ministers concerned, not for the Minister for Finance.

I shall bow to your ruling, Sir, but I am surprised that other speakers got away with it and were not questioned.

We believe that the policy of promoting industrial exports and encouraging foreign investment is the right policy. Having initiated it, we see no reason for changing it simply because Fianna Fáil have adopted it in preference to their original policy of economic self-sufficiency, which they have now abandoned. Our industrial policy of expanding employment for our own people in their own country should be stimulated and supported by tax concessions and other fiscal inducements for Irish capital engaged in providing employment by the economic production of industrial goods for export.

We would like greater emphasis on encouraging the importation of foreign capital and technology to establish industries here for production and export through established market channels. If these prove inadequate for our purposes of providing work for our people and adequate industrial expansion, the Government should not hesitate to establish efficient industrial units, having prepared the managerial, technological and marketing personnel to operate such enterprises on an efficient and economic basis.

We hear much about co-operation and constructive suggestions. When Mr. Dan Morrissey was Minister for Industry and Commerce, he established the Industrial Development Authority to help establish industrial enterprises here. At that time the present Taoiseach and other members of the Government were loud in their condemnation, but they have learned sense since. The Industrial Development Authority is now the keystone in the structure of industrial finance from Government sources and the promotion of new industries here. We established that, but we got little credit for it. It is doing good work, and more luck to it in the years ahead.

When Deputy Sweetman was Minister for Finance, he introduced, in the 1956 Finance Act, special income tax reliefs for export industries and received scant praise from Fianna Fáil. As a matter of fact, these reliefs were bitterly attacked by the Taoiseach. He stated at that time that in all probability he would be in a position to do away with them and, if he were in that position, he would abolish them. But he has not done that, and there is good reason for it. Professor Carter, Professor of Political Economics in Queen's University, speaking in Belfast, said that progress in industry in the Republic had been remarkable and the biggest technical factor in the change had been the tax exemptions for export industries. We are glad the Government are continuing that policy. It was a good policy then and it is right to extend it now.

I am glad you admit the industrial progress is tremendous.

For your information, I would like to tell you we have always believed that. We helped to build up this State in the past. We started the Shannon Scheme and the beet factories, both of which were described at the time as white elephants by Deputy MacEntee. He referred to the Government at the time as being a socialist Government squandering the people's money. When I was down at your own by-election——

The Deputy should address the Chair.

——I met a commandant who was a captain in the Army at the time. He had 200 men under him at one time trying to protect the beet factories and the Shannon Scheme from people who wanted to blow them up. As far as we are concerned, we have nothing to learn from any other Party. We started the industrial revolution away back in the past when we founded the first of our industries. If we had not the Shannon Scheme, we would not have the electrical power for further industrial revolution. Great credit is due to those people who started that scheme away back in the past and it might be no harm if Deputy Crowley knew something about it.

I am sorry for getting excited.

I want to state that we believe in a combination of private enterprise and State enterprise, cooperating and working hand in hand. I believe that is quite possible. I believe that where private enterprise has not the ways and means, the State should step in. Members of my Party before me, away back as far as 1927, were all for tackling and doing the job through State enterprise. We should be grateful and thankful to those people who, through their own initiative and hard work, have done so much in the field of private endeavour over the years since the foundation of this State.

At the same time, too many of our existing taxes today are destructive of saving, capital and hard work. I believe there should be a change and there should be taxes perhaps on dancing, bingo and other types of luxury spending. Deputy John A. Costello mentioned some of those things last night and I do not intend to repeat them now.

We frequently hear mention from the far side of the House of Sweden. They quote that country as an example of a successful socialist State. We know it is an example of successful socialism. It may be no harm to mention the fact that there is a predominance of private enterprise in that country. Private enterprise accounts for 93 per cent of the value of Sweden's output and private enterprise employs 91 per cent of the total workers employed. Cooperatives provide four per cent and nationalised industries five per cent. We all know the rise in wages for workers in that country has been 100 per cent since 1939. We know the improvement in living standards in that country is reflected in the number of cars, telephones and radios per head of the population. As far as these are concerned, Sweden leads Europe.

I believe businessmen and business people generally in this country have a responsibility and a duty to look for more freedom and not to depend so much on the State. They should look for more freedom rather than help and protection from the State. We should remember that the State can be a stranglehold and the kiss of life at the same time. As I stated, very useful work has been done by the Industrial Development Authority, due to the Finance Act of 1956. It has done a great amount of good during the past six or seven years. Great credit is due to those who introduced it and they are also entitled to credit for it. The Government have continued it and they are also entitled to credit for what they have done during the past six or seven years. We give them credit for that.


Hear, hear.

We are quite prepared, as the last speaker said, to give them praise if they deserve it and if they deserve criticism, we will certainly give it to them. There is nothing wrong in that. If we were on that side of the House and they were on this side of the House, we would get plenty of criticism from them. The problem which faces us in the future is that of finding useful fields for further industrial development. It is a problem, principally, of finding worthwhile things in which to invest money. The principal aim with regard to this is that it should be, first of all, by private enterprise and, secondly, the State should sponsor and encourage foreign capital to find employment here.

The Italian Government has found it worthwhile to establish an Institute for Industrial Reconstruction and this is an example which we might follow.

Will the Deputy take a Mediterranean cruise to-night?

I do not know about the Mediterranean cruise but this is an opportunity for industrial development run by available private enterprise. They can be helped by the Industrial Development Authority. Industries can be launched here by a suitable board to provide further employment for our people at home. That is the aim of this Party, as I think it is the aim of every Party in the State. It certainly should be the aim of every Party. I believe if we had such an institute for industrial reconstruction, their work could be, and should be, supplemented by the development of research and training in management technique. This could best be provided by industry itself. Inducement could be given for special research, education and management technique, if they were geared to develop native resources.

It cannot be too often emphasised that government in a free society can achieve more with consultation and co-operation with vocational interest in the community than they can ever hope to achieve by the methods of the big stick and coercion through the bureaucratic machine. We on this side of the House have always believed in consultation and co-operation. Therefore, we welcome the tendency of the Government at present to consult with the citizens and with vocational bodies in relation to the problems of government and legislation. Such a departure is a welcome change from the bureaucratic rigidity from which we have suffered for too long.

I believe it is necessary to have a high degree of vocational organisation in the national life for consultation between the State and the different vocational bodies in the State. It can be truly stated that nearly all the vocational bodies have shown and proved that they are not merely concerned with their own sectional interests but are prepared to think and act in the interests of the whole community. The majority of our trade unions have shown that and the National Farmers Organisation have shown they are not interested that much in their own sectional interests but are interested in working for the economic recovery of the country.

We welcome the change of heart of the Government in that direction and we endorse it and we give it our full support. It is a change from the time when we were told by a Fianna Fáil Minister for Agriculture that they would flood 40 fields with inspectors, that they would mow down the hedges and cross the ditches, that they would take the tractors in over the hedges of our farmers if they did not do this, that or the other. We are all glad that those days are gone and that we now have recognition of what we preached at that time that there should be an inducement and co-operation and no compulsion——

And a Fianna Fáil Government.

The Deputy was not so interested in the Fianna Fáil Party at that time.

Order. Deputy L'Estrange should address the Chair.

It is the duty of the Chair to be impartial. I do not know what the Deputy is speaking about. I was never interested in Fianna Fáil.

The Chair is pointing out to the Deputy that he should address the Chair and not the Deputy opposite.

For many years, Fianna Fáil carried out a policy of compulsion, thereby doing untold harm to our economy for a long number of years.

That scarcely arises on the Budget.

The Government have at their disposal a highly effective weapon which, properly used, can create and expand wealth internally and attract wealth from foreign sources as well. I refer to the use of taxation. So far, taxation has been raised too often, I think, as an instrument for destroying, dissipating and discouraging wealth instead of attracting it. I welcome the Government's conversion to the proposal that taxation be used to encourage industrial enterprise.

The Government should continue to encourage the expansion of industry so as to build up the wealth of our citizens and attract more outside capital for investment here. Unless this is done in a dramatic way, there is little hope of building an economy that will produce the goods we require for internal consumption and for export and give employment and a higher standard of living to our people. Today we are giving some of our people a higher standard of living but unfortunately to fewer and fewer of them.

We heard years ago that 100,000 new jobs would be created. We are all inclined to ask today where these jobs are. The facts about employment are not what many of us would like them to be. Despite all that we were told and are being told, there are 60,000 or 70,000 fewer people in productive employment in Ireland today compared with six or seven years ago.

Ask Deputy Fitzpatrick about it.

The people are still flying from the land of this country. That cannot be denied. I have the figures and I can give them to you if you want them.

There are 840 of them in Rushbrooke.

The Deputy should address the Chair.

If you go down to the west of Ireland, you will see that whole families have left. There was a time when it was the young people who left and emigrated. Now we find in places such as Roscommon and East Galway that the door is locked and the fathers, mothers and children have uprooted themselves and left the land of Ireland. That is land on which their forefathers were able to live in moderate comfort. In any case, those people withstood Cromwell and the landlords but unfortunately they are not able to withstand the present Government. Let us all admit that.

You left it yourself.

What did I leave myself? I will have a bet with you. I have a lot more land than you have. If you want to get personal and if that is an example of the constructive criticism the Taoiseach was speaking about——

No better man.

——I have something here which you stated yourself.

Would Deputy L'Estrange please address the Chair? The Chair made no statement.

I shall now quote what Deputy Corry said on 15th April, 1964, as reported at column 1833 of the Official Report. He had this to say:

Money is required if we are to make progress. The last man to be looked after is the farmer.

I remember you were talking about the Fianna Fáil Government at that time. You continued:

We have seen the drain year after year of the lifeblood of the agricultural community——

Were you asleep when you said this or have you wakened up to-night? You continued:

—owing to the barrier, the differential between the £6 and £7 on one side and the £12 and £14 on the other. We have lost every skilled worker we had on the land.

Is it Deputy Corry who made those statements?

You are a great reader.

When I said that people were leaving the land, he denied it and said it was not true. I am now quoting what he himself said. Deputy Corry continued:

We lost them through that difference.

—the difference is, of course, because they were not getting as much in the country as they were in the city. The same is true today. He continued:

The sooner we get down to this problem, the better. If we are to keep the rural community on the land, they must be at least somewhere near the level of their brothers in industry.... I think the sooner the problem of the rural community is tackled the better for everybody. A time will come if these conditions continue——

——under a Fianna Fáil Government——

——when there will be no skilled man left on the land.

I am quoting what Deputy Corry had to say about the people leaving the land or being driven off the land under a Fianna Fáil Government. We all know that Saint Patrick banished the snakes from this country and Brian Boru banished the Danes. It took Seán MacEoin and Michael Collins to help to banish the British but it has taken Seán Lemass and a Fianna Fáil city-dominated Government to drive the farmers and the agricultural labourers from the land of Ireland—and they are being driven from the land as any of us saw who were in Roscommon and East Galway or any of those places. We saw closed houses and locked doors and a deserted countryside.

Even according to the Government's Programme for Economic Expansion, they envisaged that 70,000 more people will be driven off the land between now and 1970. We do not agree with that. We believe that through good Government those people who are the salt of the earth should be encouraged to stay. I want to see more houses built in rural Ireland. I want to see more homes, more young people getting married, more young children, smoke spiralling up to the skies out of happy homes, and laughter in the homes, smiles such as Deputy Crowley has on his face now, and not rural Ireland as it is today.

As regards local government there is one problem and we are not taking enough trouble in tackling it at the present time, even in our financial policy. That is the slaughter of people on the roads.

That is a matter that cannot be debated on the Financial Resolution. It has no relevance to the Financial Resolution before the House. It is a matter for the Estimate.

If we are to consider the future needs of our people in their order of importance, I think we should turn our minds first to education, then, perhaps, to social welfare and health, and to the means of providing these things, especially the restoration of our people's faith in themselves and in their country.

As regards education, I think the country can no longer afford to allow children to be denied opportunity to use the gifts God gave them because of the financial circumstances of the families into which they happen to be born. The best we can provide in primary, secondary, technical and university education should be available to every boy and girl who can benefit from it without regard to family circumstances. A comprehensive system of scholarships should be made available to provide these educational opportunities for all our people. We welcome what was done by the previous Minister for Education in that regard. We think he did reasonably good work. We hope the present Minister will continue the good work and that the number of scholarships will be doubled or trebled over the next few years. If a boy or girl has brains he or she should be allowed to make full use of the brains God has given him or her by getting a proper education.

I believe the increased tax on cigarettes may be a good tax in the long run, in so far as it may act as a deterrent in the case of people who smoke excessively, and may further protect the health of our people. Deputy Brennan, now Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, when he was in Opposition criticised the imposition of a tax on cigarettes by a previous Government. He stated in volume 157, of 9th May, 1956, at column 212:

Mind you, cigarettes have unfortunately become more and more essential to the community. This may not be included in reckoning the cost of living index figure but they are regarded as an essential today even in country districts.

At that time he happened to have spoken against a tax on cigarettes.

As regards the tax on spirits, I believe we should have placed a higher tax on imported spirits. In reply to a Parliamentary Question I put today, I got some very interesting information as regards the amount of Scotch whisky imported each year for the past ten years. We find that in 1955 the value of whiskey imported from abroad is £197,656. That increased in 1960 to £382,641. In 1961 it was £482,918, and in 1964 it was £552,582. I believe a higher tax should be placed on imported whiskey. That would protect our own manufacturers. I do not know much about the consumption of whiskey but I was surprised, in the Seanad last year, to hear from a Senator that for every bottle of Irish whiskey he sold, he sold nine bottles of Scotch whisky. I do not know whether this is true for the whole country or not. If it is, I should like to think it is wrong. Are our people suffering from an inferiority complex? The time has come when the Minister should induce whiskey distillers here to produce a blend of whiskey similar to Scotch whisky and which would be acceptable to the people who normally drink whiskey.

It is interesting to note that the turnover tax is still with us. Two years ago, when the turnover tax was introduced, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Lands, Mr. B. Lenihan, now Minister for Justice, assured his listeners that any tax the Government would introduce would be on furs, jewellery and expensive motor cars and that food and clothing would not be interfered with in any way. A short time before that the Taoiseach introduced the White Paper in which he said that there would have to be a standstill in wages. These were two clear-cut statements. Then, immediately after that the Minister for Finance introduced this novelty, the turnover tax. He did not do it as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Lands said he would do it. He did not merely impose it on furs, jewellery and expensive motors cars. He went further. He said he would have to impose it on all commodities, and he did. I shall quote the Minister's speech from the Official Report, volume 202, column 82, of 23rd April, 1962.

Might I point out to the Deputy that long quotations are not in order? The Deputy should make his own speech.

I want to come to the point.

The Deputy has been quoting extensively. He has been quoting too long.

At that time the Minister said:

It is not safe to rely for substantially increased revenue on the duties on only four commodities— tobacco, beer, spirits and oils—the yield from which is liable to be seriously affected by changes in demand.

The Minister introduced the turnover tax then. These four commodities according to the Minister himself had reached saturation point. By a strange coincidence we have the turnover tax geared. I suppose it is working smoothly. Anyway, it seems to be there to stay, and we have the very four commodities which the Minister said at that time could not bear further taxation.

Last year these four commodities were taxed and again these same commodities are taxed this year. Why did the Minister make those statements in the House at that time? Was he right when he made these statements? Had he the wrong information? Why did he state then that these commodities could not bear any tax? Can the Minister tell us why there has been such a change and what has happened since that time? It is very hard for the people of Ireland to plan ahead when the Government in power are changing their own minds from day to day and, indeed, at times from hour to hour. The Government have failed to look ahead and to plan for the future. About two years ago, they put a levy on milk, and when the pressure became too hot, they took it off and put it on cigarettes. Last year the Government introduced the Budget in this House at 4 o'clock, and at 11 o'clock that night they introduced a further budget by increasing the price of telegrams, phones, stamps, etc.

In his Budget speech the Minister referred to the need for further saving. Any policy that leads to that goal will be a godsend to this nation, but the Government should set a lead and give an example, because faith without good works is of no avail. Our percentage of savings is very low in comparison with other European countries where the average is 18 per cent to 20 per cent. A better balance between savings and investments is required. Government expenditure is increasing year after year and many people thought there might be a change this year because of promises made by the Fianna Fáil Party. I remember 1961 when the Taoiseach is on record as stating that taxation had reached its limit, and that he was not in favour of increasing taxation. I had better not give the quotation or I will be told I am giving too many quotations, but the Taoiseach said that in 1961.

When the turnover tax was introduced, we were told that would be the tax to end nearly all taxes, that the Government were satisfied that with a buoyant economy, that tax would bring in enough revenue to enable them to put everything in order. That has not happened. We must remember that the small businessmen in our villages, towns and cities expected some relief in this Budget either in rates or in taxes. They are not getting it. Small businessmen and small shopkeepers have been very hard-hit by increasing rates over the past few years. They are getting no relief in this Budget and, indeed, they are most disappointed by the Government's failure to give them any relief.

We have heard much talk about increased prices. I remember when there was a different Government on the other side of the House, during a Kerry by-election, the Irish Press had letters two inches thick forecasting that there would be an increase of 1d in the price of the loaf of bread. Indeed, since then there have been many increases in the price of the loaf. It has increased from 6d to 1/3d or 1/4d. The price of the stone of flour has increased from 4/- to over 8/6d, despite the fact that the Fianna Fáil Party, Fianna Fáil Ministers, and the man who is President of Ireland today, denied that the food subsidies would ever be withdrawn, or that the cost of the necessaries of life would ever be increased by a Fianna Fáil Government. They went so far as to say that Fine Gael were telling lies, and that the cost of these things would never be increased, but no sooner had they got back into power than they forgot their promises and increased those prices, with the result that the cost of living today stands at an all-time high record.

The Government seem to have a vested interest in increasing prices and allowing prices to increase. There is a very good reason for that. Everyone knows that every large businessman in the country was circularised this year by the Fianna Fáil Party, and was expected to, and did, subscribe handsomely and generously to that Party. That is a well-known fact, and it is perhaps one of the reasons why the Government allowed these steep increases and have a vested interest in increasing prices. They know also that their revenue will increase from the turnover tax as prices increase. I believe the 2½ per cent turnover tax would have been increased this year to 3½ per cent or four per cent but for the strong opposition the Government met in this House last year not only from the main Opposition Parties but from all Parties, and from the country as a whole.

The Minister thought it wise not to increase the turnover tax and he has fallen back again on the old reliables: petrol, cigarettes, beer and spirits. At the same time, he has allowed prices to increase and the cost of living to go sky-high. By allowing prices to increase by 20 per cent since the turnover tax was imposed, the Government have got the same amount in revenue as they would have got if prices had remained the same as they were two years ago, because on £100 worth of goods at that time the Government got £2 10s. through the turnover tax, and goods that would have cost £100 two years ago now cost £120.

I think it was Deputy Dowling who said that Fine Gael members of Dublin Corporation were more interested in cattle than in human beings. It might be no harm to say that the Fianna Fáil Party seem to be more interested in cattle than in human beings, because for the first time in the history of this country, there is a tax on the necessaries of life through the turnover tax. If a woman goes into a shop in the morning to get an injection for a baby, or a pill for a baby, she pays turnover tax on it, but if I or any other individual go into a shop for an injection or a pill for a greyhound to make it go faster or slower, there is no turnover tax on it. So it is no harm to inform Deputy Dowling that in introducing the turnover tax the Fianna Fáil Government seemed to be more interested in greyhounds and cattle than in the mothers of families.

A Deputy

The Deputy is barking up the wrong tree.

Deputy L'Estrange is not in Mullingar now. He is in Dáil Éireann.

Some of us are lucky to be here.

These are facts and they cannot be denied. There was a lot of talk, too, about housebuilding. We all know that the dead hand of Fianna Fáil has been on housebuilding for the past seven years. As a member of the Westmeath County Council, Deputy Lenihan knows that we have a waiting list of 100 in Mullingar, a waiting list in Athlone, and a waiting list in Moate, and that for the past six years we have not been allowed to build a house in Westmeath. Deputy Lenihan knows that we built as many as 252 houses in 1952 and that last year five houses were built in Westmeath. Every time we sent plans to the Department they were sent back. The Deputy may shake his head but I asked a Parliamentary Question a short time ago and I got the facts. The facts are that every time we sent plans to the Minister for Local Government, they were sent back to us to dot the i's and cross the t's. When plans were sanctioned and we got a contractor, we were told the contract price was too high and would not be sanctioned.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 20th May, 1965.