He went on to speak about the public debt of more than £700 million and the fact that we had come to the end of living by loan and that all in all there was a feeling of national frustration and national crisis such as there had not been since the 'thirties. He said that it was a dangerous period and that there would have to be an end to this situation right away. Another eminent churchman spoke a few days ago, and indeed after all the warnings issued, I think everybody knows that frustration stalks the land. There is no denying that Irish people are ground down with taxation, national and local, and as one of the eminent churchmen said, not since the 'thirties or, indeed one might say, since the days of the Economic War has there been — I want to say this to the Minister because I have been travelling through the country recently — such poverty as exists today among the small business people and small farmers.
The business people and farmers on whom the Government could, or should, depend to increase production in this difficult period are being crushed between increasing rates and taxation and soaring costs and, especially in the case of the small farmers, reduced prices. Perhaps people have become so accustomed to mounting taxation under Fianna Fáil that they have become like punch-drunk boxers and can absorb punishment without seeming to be affected by it. The Minister and the Government should realise they are very seriously affected, and like the boxers, the small farmers especially are losing ambition and initiative and, what is also very important, the competitive instinct. They have become mere animated punchbags for the twofisted attacks of rates and taxation. It can be truly said that the taxpayers are more battle scarred and are pumping out more blood than the British heavyweight, Cooper. The only difference is that Cooper was allowed to retire but the taxpayers must remain in the ring and endure the buffeting of our Cassius Clay, the present Minister for Finance.
The time has come when we should appeal to the Minister and the Government even if there is a Presidential election in the offing, to tell the people the truth and the whole truth. They are not being told it and have not been told it for the past 12 months. If they were they could overcome their difficulties. There have been difficulties in the past but the Governments took the people into their confidence and when important statements were made, they were made, as they should be, in this House. Even at this late hour, if the Government took the people into their confidence there would be hope for the nation. Even if the people had to be promised blood and sweat and tears and if the Government told them that is what faces them for the next couple of years, the people could gear themselves to meet their difficulties in the hard times ahead.
It is opportune to ask ourselves what has produced this situation. Even the Minister in his Budget asked that question to which there is only one answer: it was due to the deliberate inflationary policy of the Government since they took office. The Government seemed determined to pursue an openly inflationary policy. The evils that would flow from that policy were pointed out on this side of the House by Deputies Dillon, Sweetman, Cosgrave and O'Higgins and other speakers on numerous occasions but the Government disregarded their warnings. Deputy Dillon in the years 1964 and 1965 issued such warnings and told the Government about the dangers that lay ahead if they pursued the policy they were pursuing. These warnings went unheeded and the Government carried on, with the result that we are in our present plight.
On 30th October, 1964, Deputy Dillon according to the Irish Independent said that the present economic situation of the country was highly critical. As he pointed out to the Government on the debate on the adjournment in Dáil Éireann on July 1st, the inflationary trend in Great Britain could not long continue after the general election and that the post-election period in Great Britain would create new and formidable problems for this country. He said that our Government, apparently, had been taken by surprise by this development and they were entitled to a reasonable time to demonstrate what steps they proposed to take to meet the new situation but if, as he suspected, they had no plans to meet what could only be described as a crisis, it was high time for them to get out.
Not until July, 1965, did the Government take any action to deal with the situation. On 16 other occasions, Deputy Dillon warned the Government and we now have had an admission from no less a person than the Minister for Transport and Power, who on March 23rd said in this House that we had inflation in the country since 1962 and that inflation was a dirty word and it was time people came to realise that fact. If we had inflation since 1962, why did it take the Government three years to act? Surely they should have made up their minds earlier? Was it— I think it was—because they had two by-elections facing them and also a general election? And, of course, they were prepared to put the Party first and to hell with the country. That is what has brought our nation to the present state. The Government are prepared to use the people's money to buy votes to keep themselves in office.
If we want further proof of that, we can quote from the Irish Times of 12th March, 1966, when no less a person than Deputy MacEntee, who is also very vocal at present, in a letter in the Irish Times answered the question the Minister for Finance had asked: What had gone wrong with his Budget of the previous year? Deputy MacEntee pointed out that he had been Minister for Finance from 1932 to 1939 and again from 1951 to 1954 and said:
Outstanding among the chief culprits I place the economic astrologers and soothsayers who deluded our people with fantasies of the affluence which awaited them when they got to the end of the rainbow some years hence.
We are all aware that those who were responsible for that more than anybody else are the present members of the Fianna Fáil Party. They were the people who gave the impression of prosperity to the people at that time. Deputy MacEntee continued:
Next in order of malign influences I rate those who were responsible for what has been euphemistically styled a National Wage Agreement. It is true that this instrument did not initiate the inflationary trend—that was done by a long series of deficit Budgets—but it accelerated it enormously.
When Deputy MacEntee had all this knowledge, I wonder why he did not whisper into the ear of the Minister for Finance or of the Taoiseach and not allow the country to drift into the state in which it is today?
The same gentleman, Deputy Seán MacEntee, who was Minister for Finance for six or seven years, continued:
No less detrimental to the national interest than the foregoing have been those irresponsible politicians who demanded increased expenditure on virtually every public service while refusing to accept any share of the responsibility for paying for it.
That also includes many members of his own Party, as those of us who are on local authorities know quite well.
The accusation has been made against the Government that the country is heading towards anarchy. It is the Government's duty to govern. It is the Government's duty to control the economy, to balance all factors, one against another. It is the Government's duty to lead. That is what they have been elected for. There is no denying that they are not fulfilling their duty today. The Government are the only people who, at least, should know the facts and they should be able to provide against successions of boom and slump. The Government have failed to do their duty. They took a gambler's chance on our gaining admission to the Common Market to cover up all their faults and failures. They have failed in that. Then, of course, they made a Free Trade Agreement with Britain, under which the majority of the advantages are with Britain.
The more one looks at the sad history of the past few years, the more one realises the Government's responsibility, and their responsibility alone, for our present trouble, and the more one realises that it is the duty of the Government to take the Dáil and the people into their confidence. When the Government have statements to make about the financial situation, they should be made in this House. If that were done, there would be a chance of gaining the confidence and co-operation of the people, which are so vitally essential if the Government are to get out of the present crisis.
It is difficult for the Taoiseach and Ministers of the Government to explain to the people the reason for their somersault and for the Government's utter disregard for the sacredness of truth. We have been told in the House, as indeed we all know, that the dead hand of Fianna Fáil is falling on health, education, housing, the Garda Síochána Band. Yet, when we ask questions, particularly in regard to housing, we are told that there is money for this, that and the other, that there is ample money, that there was never more money. At the same time, those of us who are members of public bodies know that we have not one-half—in some cases we have only a little more than one-third—of the money to meet our present commitments.
There is an obligation on every political Party who seek office to tell the people the truth and not to mislead or to fool the people. They should tell the people how they would use power if it is entrusted to them. Things are bad here today and the Government are keeping the full truth from the people. There is one thing certain: their election deceit has been exposed for all and sundry to see.
We all know that a financial crisis exists in Ireland today, with all its evil results. The Taoiseach, Dr. Ryan and other members of the Government falsely denied the existence of a financial crisis before the general election. It is now revealed and officially acknowledged and is felt by all. Deputy Dillon could warn the Government over two years ago, one and a half years before that general election, that we were heading for a financial crisis.
We all know that Britain has her difficulties today but they are due, perhaps, to her huge commitments abroad. It cannot be denied that our difficulties are of our own Government's making. We all remember what the people on the far side of the House had to say about the financial crisis that existed in 1956, how they badgered the Government of that day. Unlike the position in 1956, when cattle were selling at £4 a cwt., our present difficulties are being experienced at a time when our exports are selling at a nearly all-time high, when cattle are fetching double the price obtainable in 1956 and 1957. In 1956 and 1957, cattle were selling at £4 and £4.10.0 a cwt. Today they are selling at £9, £9.10.0 and in some cases £10 a cwt. We remember all the questions the present Minister for Transport and Power asked at that time about cattle prices and the gloomy headlines in the Irish Press and the reports that the bottom had fallen out of cattle prices. They were prepared at that time to do anything and everything they could to harm the Government of that day and cared very little about the national interests.
It is only right that we should trace the reasons for the present mess. The Minister asked in his Budget Statement: What has gone wrong? The roots of the current economic stresses and industrial unrest go back to February, 1963. In 1963, the Fianna Fáil Government issued a White Paper, Closing the Gap, the purpose of which, we were told, was to underline the dangers of living beyond our means. Our people were told that they were spending too much money. The White Paper pointed out that it was clear that we could not maintain the then existing level unless we earned more abroad. Accordingly, the White Paper urged Departments, local authorities, State-sponsored organisations, trade unions, and so on, to make no more demands for higher wages until we had increased production and exports.
That exhortation invoked a reasonable response until the autumn of 1963. It cannot be denied that we had stability, that wage demands were few and strikes were fewer. Then the Government introduced its iniquitous turnover tax, a new tax imposed for the first time in the history of our country, a tax on bread, butter, tea, sugar, fuel, meat, medicines, clothes, and all the necessaries of life. The Fine Gael Leaders pointed out at that time the bad effects that would flow from this ill-conceived policy, how such a tax on the necessaries of life was bound to increase the cost of living, how it would again enkindle the flames of inflation, with all its harmful effects. Fine Gael speakers pointed out in this House that it could do, and would do, irreparable harm to the economy.
All our forecasts have proved right. Everything that Deputy Dillon, Deputy Cosgrave and Deputy Sweetman said at that time has now, unfortunately for this country, turned out to be correct. There was a sudden jump in prices and the cost of living immediately started to rise. While the Government were calling for restraint, the workers' pay packet was not going as far as before. Fianna Fáil speakers in this House and throughout the country argued that the turnover tax would have only a minimal effect on prices. I should like to ask: were Fianna Fáil so innocent as to believe that a policy of restraint could be maintained in the new conditions of higher prices which they had created? I believe it was a major and tactical error and the starting point of the present chaos.
The next move was a very clever political move by the Government. As far as politics and political moves are concerned, they are very clever. Indeed, if they were as clever in regard to governing the country as they are in regard to political moves, things would be much better for the nation. As I said, their next move was a very clever political one. The death of two TDs suddenly closed the gap. The Taoiseach changed horses in mid-stream. He took up his pen and wrote a letter and the gap between spending and income had suddenly and mysteriously closed. He quoted no figures, nor have any of his Ministers quoted figures since, to show how the gap had been closed so quickly. He simply wiped out the picture he had been painting during the year and painted a brilliant new picture in bright Fianna Fáil optimistic colours and so we had the famous 12 per cent increase as a bribe to the electorate of Cork and Kildare to win two by-elections. They won the two by-elections but at what a cost to the country.
Having won those two by-elections, the Taoiseach switched horses again and proceeded to sound dire warnings through the spring and summer of 1964. The 12 per cent, he stated, was more than we should have given. He was now back with the employer's point of view. We had taken a mortgage out on the future, he stated, and productivity and exports would have to go up to cover it and, he said, there must be no more wage demands. The argument may have been valid from the point of view of statistics but it did not seem logical in view of what the Taoiseach and his Government had been saying before the Cork and Kildare by-elections. Once again he was contradicting himself but of course as far as the Government were concerned they did not give two hoots about the country. They had won the two by-elections and that is all that was worrying them at the time. They were determined to stay in power and to use the people's money to purchase votes. They did that and the circus continued. The people saw through them and their promises and they returned Deputy John Donnellan in Galway East, Deputy Joan Burke in Roscommon and Deputy Mrs. Desmond in Mid-Cork.
The economic crisis was then getting worse. The Fianna Fáil Party knew the full facts about the economy and about the economic recession that was about to come upon us and they knew it would get worse. If they had been statesmen, they would have tackled it and they would have told the people the truth but they did not do that. The Taoiseach called a general election. Instead of telling the people the truth about the situation that existed, they were more concerned with getting back into power. They knew that we were going to have this economic crisis and recession which would last for two or three years. They knew that they had been successful in keeping the truth from the people and the Taoiseach said: "Now is the time; we will call a general election and if we get back into power, we may be able to weather the storm for another five years."
The Fianna Fáil Party again changed horses and they showed they were prepared to stoop to anything in order to remain in power. Overnight, in the spring of 1965, the country became more prosperous. The message was preached at every crossroads, on the radio and on the television and in innumerable speeches by the Taoiseach and his Government. Even the present Minister for Finance promised 75,000 or 80,000 new jobs in industry before 1970. He made that promise in Dundalk but there has been no sign of that promise materialising. However, it was good propaganda in an industrial town and would certainly get the industrial votes.
It might be no harm to recall the Taoiseach's statement on the eve of the election in April when he said that the main task of the next five years would be to maintain the momentum of the country's economic progress which had now been built up and the nation's progress was now moving forward as never before in history. We are entitled to ask what has happened since Fianna Fáil returned to power? In a full page advertisement in the Sunday Press on 14th April, 1965, one found in huge type the words, “This is no time for a change.” What a change took place as soon as Fianna Fáil came back to office! We also heard this statement: “Our recent prosperity is not yet strong enough to withstand the shock of a change of Government.” Now we know it was not even strong enough to withstand even a further four months of Fianna Fáil Government.
They were just four months back in July of 1965 when the Taoiseach admitted that we were getting into financial difficulties and we were told that we must ensure that Fianna Fáil were enabled to carry on with a working majority and that the economy should be given a chance "to continue expanding without confusion, delay or indecision". How nice is that phrase—"to continue expanding without confusion, delay or indecision"— today for the extra 5,000 or 6,000 who are unemployed, for the unfortunate people who cannot get loans to build or reconstruct houses, or for the people who have done reconstruction work or are building houses and cannot get money, for the unfortunate builders who, according to last week's papers, have their machinery rusting in their yards, and for the unfortunate eight or ten builders in my own county who this week are emigrating to Canada or Britain. How well those lines read for them and for the small businessmen and farmers and those others who are the victims of this Government's induced crisis.
I use those words deliberately because they did nothing to head it off or to tackle it in time. With his 12 per cent in his pocket at that time and with prices still to catch up, the Fianna Fáil message sounded reasonable enough to the man in the street and they were returned to power. Safely back in the saddle, the Taoiseach last July changes horses again and wipes out the picture he had been painting for the previous five months during the general election and draws a brand new picture in pessimistic colours. Once more the Taoiseach and members of the Government are contradicting themselves. Of course, what of it? They are back in power again and Fianna Fáil and their friends are still enjoying the fruits of office.
The Finance Bill we are discussing here today is the result of this year's Budget which, it is admitted by every section of the people, was a cruel, harsh Budget. It was also deceptive. Because of Government pronouncements prior to the Budget many people were expecting it to be tough, but the Budget surpassed their worst expectations. It is a grab-all Budget. It is designed to take the money out of the people's pockets. It can be truly said that never in the history of this country was so much taken in one fell swoop and so little given in return. The Budget imposes £12 million in extra taxation. The only concession in it is that the destitute poor, and they only, will get a 5/- increase on 1st November if they are lucky enough to live that long. That is all they were promised in that Budget. We do not know what shocks the Minister may have even for those unfortunate people in the next Budget.
This is the 50th anniversary of 1916 and the men who gave their lives for Irish freedom. Many people are inclined to ask: was it worth it all? Did they die in vain? Have they been let down? Have the dreams of those who sacrificed their all come true? Unfortunately for the Irish people, Fianna Fáil have been in office for 28 of the past 34 years. Far from cherishing all our people equally, Fianna Fáil policy is to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. We know they gave an increase of £15 a week to people who already had over £120 a week. We know the Minister's colleagues in Cork County Council spoke out strongly yesterday against the attitude of the Government in giving more to the rich than they are entitled to and much less to the poor. That is reported in today's Independent. The men of 1916 gave their lifeblood for Ireland, but Fianna Fáil are today sucking the lifeblood of the Irish people.
This nation of ours is bled to death. We are living on borrowed money and on borrowed time. In the past nine years, the cost of running this country has risen from £106 million in 1956 to £262 million this year, an increase of £156 million. During that period we have also borrowed over £400 million. Last week I asked for the amount of the National Debt and was told it is £714 million. A day or two afterwards I asked for the amount of money borrowed by local authorities and was told it was a further £195 million. The total comes to £909 million. It costs almost £70 million per annum to service those debts. This year it is well known that the Minister will have to borrow money to pay the interest on the money this country already owes. As the eminent churchman stated in yesterday's paper, I think we are coming to the end of living by loans.
Many of us can remember the unfair and unjust propaganda engaged in by Fianna Fáil in 1951 when the Government of the day borrowed money to build houses. Houses were built at that time. In my own county as many as 252 were built in one year, whereas in the past nine years under Fianna Fáil not even 80 were built. At that time we built hospitals and the then Government cured the scourge of TB. Fianna Fáil Deputies and their henchmen had their men outside every polling booth as the people went to vote, and the words whispered into their ears were: "Put them out. They have the country in pawn. The country is up to its eyes in debt." The National Debt then was only one-sixth of what it is today. That shows the unfair and unjust propaganda Fianna Fáil were prepared to indulge in to put out the Government at that time. But when they get back into power they change horses completely in order to stay there.
We have today record rates of over £30 million collected from the people as well as record taxation of over £102 for every man, woman and child in the country. The cost of living is at a record 181 points, due to the Fianna Fáil high taxation policy, the abolition of the food subsidies and the introduction of the turnover tax. It may be no harm when talking about the cost of living to state what Deputy Lemass, now the Taoiseach, stated at Waterford on 28th February, 1957:
Coalition leaders are threatening the country with high food prices and a lot more besides if Fianna Fáil becomes the Government. A Fianna Fáil Government did not intend to do any of these things. How definite can we make our denials of these stupid allegations?
The present President of Ireland, then Taoiseach, speaking at Belmullet on 28th February, 1957 said:
We did not want the price of bread, so important an article in the diet of the poor, to be increased.
It is a little over twice now what it was at that time. That is how Fianna Fáil kept those promises to the Irish people, just as they kept the promises they made in the past about reduced taxation.
Last year we also had an adverse trade balance of £147 million and a deficit in our balance of payments of £45 million. This is the Government's fourth consecutive year to have a deficit in the balance of payments. Surely the Government knew where they were going for the past four years? Surely they would have taken action were it not for the fact that there were by-elections and a general election pending? Surely they would take action now and tell the truth were it not for the fact that there is a Presidential election on 1st June? They still do not want to tell the people the truth. They do not mind what happens the country if they can contrive to keep the full facts from the people and fool them until after that day.
Let us talk about the deficiency in the balance of payments. In 1962 it was £13 million; in 1963, £23 million and in 1964, £31 million. Therefore, the danger signs have been on the horizon for the past four years. The Minister for Transport and Power told us during his speech on the Budget debate in March that we had had inflation since 1962, that it was a dirty word and that it was time the people realised that. If he knew that and if Deputy MacEntee, who has written to the Irish Times, knew what was going on, did the other members of the Government not know it? If they did know it, as they should have known it, why did they not take action and why did they wait so long?
When the Minister for Finance was innocently asking himself what went wrong, anyone could see that Fianna Fáil were living on borrowed money and borrowed time. Any man knows you can get out of your depth by borrowing too much money. The Government should have known that because the signs were there to be seen since 1962. Fianna Fáil mismanagement is responsible for the position the country is in today and they, and they alone, must take the blame. I believe that as a constructive Opposition with the national interest at heart, we have not only the right but the duty to ask ourselves what lasting value we have got or will get from this huge expenditure, or where this little country of ours is heading today.
If with the vast outlay of public money, the growing burden of taxation, £162 million, and a National Debt of £714 million, we were in a position today to say that emigration had been stopped, that unemployment had been substantially reduced and that the number of people working in Ireland had greatly increased, we would all have some cause for satisfaction and for pride. Far from these things being true, we have exported in the past nine years over 400,000 of our boys and girls. The flower of our youth have had to emigrate and to earn their living abroad. They are still going at the rate of 40,000 a year, and this despite the fact that the same Party said in 1956: "Wives, put your husbands to work." The wives did not think at the time they were going to put them to work in Coventry, Birmingham, London and other places abroad, but that is what has happened. This Government came to power by false pretences. You remember all those Fianna Fáil slogans, such as "Let us get cracking." You also remember a Fianna Fáil advertisement of 16th February, 1957: "No Government policy is good enough which does not give a fair chance of working in Ireland for all who need it for their livelihood."
How was that promise to the people kept? It has been kept by exporting 400,000 of our boys and girls to England since then. The then Mr. Lemass, now the Taoiseach, put on the biggest bluff when he said on February 2nd, 1959: "Unemployment and emigration are the acid test of policy, and the Fianna Fáil Government will measure the effectiveness of its working by those standards." He went on to say: "Fianna Fáil's immediate task would be to get work for the unemployed. The unemployed would not be expected to wait until long-term production plans brought benefits." I do not blame anyone for voting for Fianna Fáil on those promises, but the Government have not kept their promises. They are entitled to tell the people why they have not kept the promises they made. Apart from the huge taxation bill we have before us today, there are over 55,000 people unemployed and there are 167,000 people fewer at work than there were in 1951. I asked the Taoiseach a question in this regard and his Parliamentary Secretary gave me the answer. The figures are: in 1951, there were 1,217,000 people at work; in 1965, after the Fianna Fáil Party got cracking, after they told the wives to put their husbands to work, after all those promises that were made to the people, there were 1,050,000 people at work in Ireland, a reduction of 167,000 people compared with 1951. Those figures are there in the Dáil Debates and in the official statistics and cannot be denied by anybody from the far side of the House.
The Government should remember that the safety valve of emigration may not always be there. What would happen if England closed her doors to Irish emigrants? Only for the safety valve of emigration, there would be almost 460,000 people unemployed in Ireland today. It must be remembered that we also have the record low population of 2.8 million people. Surely Pearse, Connolly, Plunkett, and all those other great men who sacrificed their all in 1916 never envisaged this black picture we have in Ireland today? We must all admit that this Government have not lived up to the ideas or the ideals of those great men.
Those of us who are travelling through the country at the present time, whether electioneering or whatever else we may be doing, will have to admit that never have there been such complaints from people as we are getting today. The people are ground down with taxation, both national and local. Never do I remember meeting such frustration amongst small farmers. I met small farmers last night and I met them last week, some in the west of Ireland, others in County Longford, and they told me they cannot live at the present time with the high taxation and the low prices they are getting for their produce. They told me they will have to sell their little farms and emigrate. I met an unfortunate farmer with six children who told me he had even put up his farm for sale a month ago and could not get a £1 bid for it.
As I stated earlier, Fianna Fáil, when in opposition, have always promised to reduce taxation. Even when they came to power away back in 1932, they promised to reduce taxation by £2 million and to grant complete derating to the farmers. At that time general taxation was something like 18 per cent of the national income; today it is around 27 per cent, which represents £102 to £103 per head for every man, woman and child in the country, or roughly £410 for the average family.
With such a burden of taxation and with chronic emigration and unemployment, is it any wonder that incentive is lacking and that money for investment is scarce? How could it be otherwise? Carrying the dead weight of taxation is heavy enough, but when there is added to it a lack of encouragement by the State to enable industry to expand and a lack of generosity on the part of the Government in their depreciation allowances on plant, fittings and on vehicles the penal aspect is all the greater. It is extraordinary that more inducements are offered to outside industrialists to come in and establish themselves here than are given to native industrialists to purchase machinery, to increase their output and work their way up to the top.
This country has at its disposal a highly effective weapon which, if properly used, can create and expand wealth internally and also attract wealth from foreign sources. I refer to the use of taxation. So far, taxation has been used by Fianna Fáil as an instrument for dissipating, destroying and discouraging wealth instead of attracting it into this country and building it up. That can be said very truly of the Fianna Fáil budgets of 1963 and 1965. I welcome the Government's conversion to proposals in which taxation is being used to encourage industrial enterprise. We proposed that —the late Deputy Norton and Deputy Gerard Sweetman when he was Minister for Finance—in 1956 and, of course, at that time the Fianna Fáil Government vigorously opposed it. Indeed, the present Taoiseach said at that time that, even at some time in the future, he might be in a position to do away with the proposals made in the Dáil then but when he got back into power we were all glad to see that he did not and that he learned the wisdom of the measures introduced. The Government should continue to pursue and expand those measures so as to build up the wealth of our citizens and attract more outside capital for investment here.
Unless that is done in a dramatic way there is no hope of building up an economy which will produce the goods we require for internal consumption, for export, employing our own people and giving them a high standard of living in their own land. That should be the aim of every government but it is my opinion that too much of our taxation at present relentlessly sucks and dissipates the energies of our people, which makes saving almost impossible. As a final blow, death duties destroy and scatter life savings of many thrifty citizens in this country.
In this capital-starved State by an enlightened use of taxation we could build up the economy, enable citizens to save money, attract capital, private capital and capital for investment in industry, in trade and in agriculture. There is a great need for it at the present time, especially in agriculture which is crying out for capital. According to the rumours afloat—I am not certain whether or not they are true but it has been stated—the money which the Agricultural Credit Corporation got and were about to loan out to farmers has been taken by the Government; they stretched out their hands and have taken much of this money from them. I believe that is the case; I believe it is true. That is a wrong policy. Agriculture is starving for capital and the more capital that this or any Government put into agriculture the greater the return we will have and the quicker we can increase our exports.
Our present taxation policy, especially the present rating system, is a cancer in our economy but it is a kind of cancer for which there is a cure. Some Government, sooner or later, will have to perform a major operation in thinking, planning and in action. The sooner this is done the better. There is nothing in this Finance Bill and, indeed, in the Budget for the farmers of Ireland. They have been betrayed, let down, disillusioned by the "Golden Boy" if you like to call him such. The farmers of Ireland cannot afford the kind of progress Fianna Fáil proposes for them. There is no denying that Fianna Fáil policy, especially their high taxation policy for the farmers of this country, has been a failure; a pie in the sky or promises of some crumbs in the future are no use. People cannot live on promises alone. Unfortunately, in this country, due to the high taxation policy of Fianna Fáil, over 300,000 farmers have been driven from the land. Those figures should frighten any Government but not the present Goverment; they do not seem to have any effect. We all know that the farmers, representing around 33? per cent of our population, are responsible for 75 per cent of our exports and yet get only about 20.3 per cent of the national income. That is unfair and unjust.