I was somewhat encouraged the other day by a statement by, of all people, the Minister for Transport and Power, reported in the Irish Independent of 22nd of this month. He was speaking at a meeting of the Law Society in University College, Dublin, and the Irish Independent says:
He felt that, if the Government considered it necessary, then it would enter into more State enterprises, said the Minister for Transport and Power and Posts and Telegraphs, Mr. Childers.
His personal description is actually longer than what he said. Does he seriously mean what he said? Do the Government mean that? If so, if they are going to engage in more State enterprises, they will certainly have the backing of the Labour Party. Deputy Andrews said that ideas were not exclusive to any Party, but, mark you, the Labour Party have dragged this House a good bit of the way as far as things like State enterprise are concerned. I do not think either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael would deny that the Labour Party in the past ten, 15 or 20 years have repeatedly asked for and encouraged more and more State enterprises. I agree with what the Minister said further down that, despite the failure of some of these State enterprises, in the majority of cases they have been successful and, where they were productive State enterprises, production has been pretty good.
I gather from all this that the Minister for Transport and Power and Posts and Telegraphs is coming around to the Labour Party idea; we believe that, when one has regard to the economy of the country, its population, etc., etc., private enterprise cannot do the entire job and the sooner the Government wake up to the fact that the State has got to show greater initiative and take better steps to promote and encourage industry, the better it will be. As far as industry is concerned, especially manufacturing industry, it must be realised that there is a limited home market and it is not sufficient to establish manufacturing industry for the purpose of producing an article to be sold here. The emphasis must be more and more on industries that will export. It is a criticism of Irish industry that too few are prepared to gear up for free trade and the export market. The Minister for Industry and Commerce made a statement recently—whether with his tongue in his cheek or not, I do not know, or whether his audience believed him or not, I do not know—and this is something fairly new as far as Fianna Fáil spokesmen are concerned but pretty old hat as far as the Labour Party are concerned, that owners of industry have a responsibility towards the community and the workers. When the Labour Party said that years ago, they were not called socialists; they were called Reds. But that has always been our belief and it is our belief also that it is in this respect the Fianna Fáil Government have fallen down. They do not know what they are. I shall refer to that again later.
What are the Government doing as far as the promotion of industry and the gearing up of industry are concerned, other than talking and making speeches? It has been admitted by various Ministers, successive Ministers for Industry and Commerce and the Minister for Labour, that there has been a poor response to the financial incentives given and the exhortations made by them from time to time.
Again, we should take a good look at industry and not cod ourselves into thinking that industry is going the pace and that thousands of new jobs are being created every year. There are 3,000 industries according to the Irish Management Institute. Only 47 of these employ more than 500. All credit to those who are in the 47 and who employ more than 500 and to those who give employment to anything from ten, 15 and up to 500, but we cannot look at Irish industry in the light of this small one, that big one, or that middlesized one as industry as a whole. We have got to look at industry in the light of what the situation will be, not alone from the point of view of entering the European Economic Community but also from the point of view of competing with Britain, as we will be forced to do in a few years' time under the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement.
Again, according to the information we get, total exports of manufactured goods this year should be over the £1 million mark. How many of these 3,000 firms will contribute to these exports? I reckon there are some outstanding ones but I also reckon there are those who are content, or appear to be, with the home market and who do not want to make any effort at all to help the country to reduce its balance of payments and take no steps to explore the possibility of an export market. How many are showing initiative in pushing sales abroad? Very few, I think.
There is a recent report by Córas Tráchtála, which is an export promoting body, which shows that 60 per cent of Irish manufactured exports were sold by foreign wholesalers or under the private label of an importing company. In the case of 60 per cent of our manufactured goods, therefore, we do not even get credit abroad for those goods having been made here. This 60 per cent could, of course, be an excellent advertising medium. As far as manufactured export goods are concerned, only 40 per cent of Irish manufacturing industry makes an effort. One poses the question: What is wrong? This is a question which must be answered by the Government and by the Minister for Industry and Commerce.
I am one of those who believe that, as far as Córas Tráchtála are concerned, they are doing a good job but Córas Tráchtála, in my view, are absolutely inadequate for our needs from the point of view of an export market. As far as I know, they only organise groups and introduce them. They also carry out market surveys. That is not sufficient. I do not know whether it is that Fianna Fáil are afraid to push more as far as their officials are concerned, but they still apparently believe that private enterprise is profitable and they should not interfere. We are in a situation now in which we cannot be squeamish about what the Government should do because on what they do depends the survival of the economy of the country and the jobs of the workers.
I believe, therefore, there should be a greater push by Córas Tráchtála, or some other body, which would have responsibility for sales abroad. They should recruit experts in salesmanship and should not take somebody from some part of the west of Ireland, Wexford or the south of Ireland and say: "We will bring you over to Sweden and we will introduce you to somebody who might buy your products." These people have not been trained in salesmanship and if they have not, I feel it is the duty of the State to get people who would be salesmen and who would be in a position and have the ability to go abroad and get a market for Irish industry.
I believe we are making far too many claims for Irish industry and are inclined to bury our heads in the sand. If there is to be greater production and if there is to be greater effiency there must be an advisory service. Somebody will tell me that there are advisory services and the Minister for Industry and Commerce will say: "We have all sorts of schemes available. If they want a grant to do this, that or the other thing, to carry out surveys and so on, we will give them a grant." This is not sufficient because, firstly, many of them are too lazy or have not the initiative to take the money and, secondly, by merely taking the money and carrying out their own survey or getting somebody to do it for them they do not seem to get the results. The Government should provide an advisory service in that field not to advise a firm producing in Navan, Waterford or Wexford what they should do, but an advisory service prepared and geared to go to these places and advise management as far as production and efficiency are concerned.
A recent OECD Report described Ireland as being very deficient as far as technologists are concerned and also deficient in research. As far as I know we have a body that is known as the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards but I do not think it is very efficient because my information is that if there is a query or something sent to them to determine its quality it is sent to England or they get a report on a similar commodity from Britain. I do not think that is good enough. I believe if we are to contribute to the promotion of Irish industry we will have to set up a real institute of research and standards.
As far as industry is concerned, it seems that greater efforts will have to be made if we are to pick up, if you like, and employ those who have to flee from rural Ireland. As far as the balance of payments is concerned and as far as exports are concerned while many may be optimistic vis-á-vis entry into EEC, I think the real prospect in these matters is in industry. There is an ever-increasing dependence on industry as far as exports are concerned but certainly for jobs—and again let me go back to the utterances of the Minister for Industry and Commerce when he talked about the responsibility of the owners of industry towards the community and the workers. Therefore, let the Government give up their speeches and act, establish and promote industry. I trust they will be led by the Minister for Transport and Power who advocated further State enterprise in a recent speech. Direct action must be taken. Advice and offering of incentives are all very well. It looks very generous on the part of the Government but if the complaints of the various Ministers that they do not take up this money are true, then I believe the Government must take some action.
Last year was certainly marked by a depression in agriculture. I am not one of those who want to go back to 1932. I think it hits us far more directly and makes it much more clear to us when figures for the past five years are quoted rather than those that go back decades. In the five years 1962-1966 we lost 48,700 people from the land. I feel this is a situation that we must not accept too easily. It is a pity that you hear people like the Minister for Transport and Power and the Taoiseach at times saying: "This is a natural sort of thing." We cannot afford that natural sort of thing in a country with a population of less than three million particularly when we remember that when they flee from the land they cannot be absorbed in industry and we lose them to Britain.
I may be told that the population has increased. It has increased by reason of the fact that the natural increase in population is about 25,000. I do not believe we can afford that sort of a loss from the land. I have figures here for my own county which suggest that between 1960 and 1965 over 2,000 people left the land and of these there were about 1,100 agricultural workers. It may be the trend in our agriculture that is responsible for this. It is noteworthy that when the emphasis appears to be on cattle it is then people leave the land. My county is regarded as pretty well a model as far as agriculture is concerned and I do not know what significance these figures may have for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries or the Minister for Finance. In 1960 approximately 54,000 acres of wheat were grown. In 1965 the acreage was 27,000. Oats went down from 24,000 acres to 15.9 thousand acres. Barely went up in view of the change in the trend in agriculture. The total acreage of corn fell from 115,000 acres in 1960 to 93.7 thousand acres in 1965. It seems, therefore, because these are comparable and can be related to the figures I gave for the flight from the land, when the emphasis is on cattle the population goes down in the rural areas.
Whether the intention is, as was alleged against Fine Gael at one time, that we should have a cattle ranch I do not know. I know farmers can make an amount of money out of cattle, not that they did last year because the prices were pretty bad for them but if we are going to think in terms of keeping people on the land or trying to stem the flight from the land we will have to try to decide that there must be a little more tillage than there is. The view in this country seems to be that our salvation is in cattle. There is an income for a farmer but do we believe that our entry into the EEC is going to be marked by a great inrush of money to this country by reason of the fact that we have cattle? Can we not compete with other countries in respect of root and corn crops? If it is going to be more and more cattle we can expect nothing in the years to come but a further flight from the land in my view.
I was encouraged by a statement— it may have been a throw-away statement—by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries when he replied to a supplementary parliamentary question recently. He talked in terms of redistribution of farm incomes. I think this is vitally necessary. About six or seven years ago I advocated this and I often feel I bore the House when I re-advocate on occasions such as this when one talks on the Budget. I feel this could be one of the solutions to the undoubted problems we have in agriculture at present. I believe that there should be a greater percentage of the money available given to what could be deemed to be the small and medium sized farms. It must be well known that there are many farmers in this country who do not need this. One of the peculiar things that occur to me is this. When one qualifies for one of the smaller allowances such as old age pension or dole there is a means test and you must prove that you have nothing or nearly nothing in order to qualify but in respect of the other State assistance all you have to do is apply, have the qualification that you have the land or the house to reconstruct or the site on which to build the house and then you get the money. I am not advocating that sort of strict means test as far as agriculture is concerned but I am saying this. Thousands of farmers are starved for want of capital. They cannot get the necessary capital, assistance and aid from the money made available this year. I believe this is one of the solutions to the problem of the farmer in the west and the small and medium sized farmer even in my own county. If the emphasis were on the small man and if the bigger man were given proportionately less, I think it would solve the difficulties.
We advocated a co-operative movement. I feel this could be done as well. I think Deputy Andrews was afraid of it. When he was talking about co-operation he did not want to call it collectivisation because he thought that this smacks of communism and that sort of thing. We should get away from this attitude, and not be afraid to advocate what we believe is right. No real encouragement is given by the Government in relation to co-operation. The small man varies from county to county but there is no reason why he should not be encouraged and assisted financially to group with nine or ten other farmers for the purpose of the purchase and use of machinery and the marketing of produce. I do not know much about the parish plan but it seems somewhat unwieldy. I appreciate the independence of an Irishman and particularly of an Irish farmer but I am thinking now of what has been achieved in County Donegal by Father McDyer.
There has been a big improvement in the use of fertilisers in this country. We always seem to be looking for higher prices but are not so much concerned with producing more. This can be achieved if we increase the use of fertilisers. There was a great song and dance recently about the establishment of fertiliser factories. Nítrigin Éireann, Teoranta, is very successful and there are some private companies. If we do not need more fertiliser factories we certainly need more of what they produce. Recently figures came to my notice in regard to the consumption of fertilisers in this country as compared with that in other European countries. The 1962-3 figures in respect of the use of fertilisers in the various countries of Western Europe show that Ireland lags far behind in this important and urgent activity.
The Belgians, the Danes and the French are pretty good at promoting agriculture. The Danes, in particular, seem to be more than keen rivals of Ireland in the agricultural market. Possibly their success can be attributed to their use of fertilisers. Somebody said that 1967 would be known in the farming world as the Fertiliser Year: whether this is peculiar to Ireland or to the whole of Western Europe, I do not know. We must encourage our farmers to increase the use of fertilisers. If a man needs money for that purpose, then a greater proportion should be made available to him to enable him to apply more per acre on his holding.
There was little if any mention of housing by the Minister for Finance in his Budget speech. Has this any significance? The then Minister for Local Government, Deputy Blaney, was pretty good last year at evading answers to questions on housing, which was a pretty bad year for house building. For the first time in eight years, employment in building and construction fell from 75,000 in 1965 to 73,000 in 1966. The money should not have been denied to local authorities for housing purposes.
The worker must have a decent house but we have tens of thousands of workers who have not. There is no slacking off in the demand for houses. In 1948, the first year I became a member of this House, there was a housing drive by the inter-Party Government whose Minister for Local Government was the late T.J. Murphy. The estimate then was that there was a need for 100,000 new houses. I shall not say that the survey was very accurate: the same number of houses is now required. It is not enough for the Minister for Local Government to say that so many houses were built last year, and so on. The demand is still there. We must bear in mind houses which are demolished and houses which are going into disuse and houses which are falling. In some places, more houses are being demolished or are going into disuse or are falling than are being built in these local areas.
I do not want to talk exclusively on the housing requirements in my constituency but the housing problem there is as great now as it was 25 years ago. Nevertheless we have apparent complacency on the part of the Minister for Local Government and the Minister for Finance and the Government as a whole in the face of this grave problem. If the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Gibbons, holds clinics in Kilkenny city I am sure he finds that the majority of his clients constitute people looking for houses. It is pitiful to listen to their stories and, indeed, embarrassing, as a Member of the National Parliament, to have to say to them, in effect: "You will not be housed for another five years". It is shocking that, in this year of 1967, there are married people in many parts of the country with as many as three children who will not have a house of their own for up to the next six years. This is a responsibility of the local authority but the major responsibility rests on the Minister for Local Government, the man who is supposed to have the initiative and the power in this connection.
There is not much evidence that other building activities slackened in the past twelve months. We still have new banks, new insurance buildings erected and reconstructed. Why is there not a priority for house building? There was such a priority, after the last war, which continued up to about 1950. I hope the necessary moneys will be available this year and that our local authorities will not, so to speak, have to go cap in hand to banks and insurance companies—in the majority of cases to be refused—looking for money. I hope we shall not have a repetition by the new Minister for Local Government of the dodging and evasion of Deputy Blaney, the previous Minister for Local Government, who, in the end, was forced to admit that they had not any money.
The availability of capital for housing should be a priority. Deputy James Tully referred to this. A sum of £500,000 less is being provided for building grants because the Department of Finance, in a pre-Budget document, said the amount provided last year was excessive. That is the biggest joke of the year. Of course, it was excessive. People were not inclined to build last year because of the high price of money, because of the uncertainty and, in many cases, delay in payment by the Department. Many could not get credit. Frequently, those who expected to borrow from the local authority found there was no money there. This happened in Wexford County Council and in Wexford Corporation as it has happened in other counties.
The Minister for Finance has forecast that 1967-68 will be a better year, generally, for the economy. In such circumstances, there will be a greater housing demand and surely, rather than a reduction of £500,000, an increased amount of money should be provided for building grants?
Recently the Minister for Social Welfare suggested that we would need to recast our social welfare code. That time has long passed. This code was established in 1951, that is, 16 years ago, and there has been practically no change since then. I am not talking about the increases in the various allowances, and so on, but there has been very little change in the actual code itself. We say we are making all sorts of preparations for entry into EEC. About five years ago we were highflying for entry into the Common Market but, then, General de Gaulle said Britain would not get in and we drew in our horns. Five or six years ago, there was a lot of urgency in this country about entering EEC. Every question put in Dáil Éireann, every speech, included some reference to what we would do in respect of this, that and the other when we got into Europe. The then Taoiseach, Deputy Lemass, insisted that we would be a member of EEC by 1970 and if he were present in the Chamber now and were posed the same question, we would say that we shall be a member by 1970. This also appears to be the view of the present Taoiseach. But we do not seem to be concerned about the preparations which we then regarded as being urgent for membership of the EEC. Our code will have to be brought into line with the EEC countries.
Today the Minister suggested that the increase in the stamp contribution would be borne by the employers and the employers. The system which at present seems to be accepted is that the employers, the employees and the State each contribute one-third. As far as our Party are concerned, we want to make it clear that we believe the employers should pay a bigger contribution, which would be in accordance with practice on the Continent. It appears that on the Continent they have a greater regard for the workers than many employers here appear to have. On the Continent they take good care to ensure that the machinery is oiled and is kept in proper order and they make sure that it is a healthy machine as far as the workers are concerned. Here they do not appear to have the same regard at all for their workers' health and employment.
Down through the years we have advocated certain things. People may say that we had not got responsibility and we accept that we are not the second Party, but the third Party, but in accordance with our democratic institutions, we are entitled to advocate ideas and to put them before the Government. We have done this down through the years and many of our ideas have been accepted by the Government, and not just specific things but attitudes and changes of policy. We believe that the Minister for Social Welfare should begin to reduce the qualifying age for pensions from 65 to 60 and that sickness benefit and unemployment assistance should be related to earnings and not be just a flat rate as at present. The man who has been earning £8 a week gets £2 12s 6d now and the man who has been earning £16 still gets for himself £2 12s 6d. Not alone should these benefits be related to earnings but the insurance contribution should also be related to earnings.
Another thing with which the Minister for Social Welfare, or the Minister for Labour, should concern himself is the promotion of industrial pension schemes. Many people assume that because we have State pension schemes at 70 years, this is sufficient, but these can certainly be added to by industrial pension schemes. They are in operation in some industries and in some State bodies but not to the extent we would all like to see. We understand that they cannot be obtained on the cheap but there has not been any great furore from the taxpayers in respect of improvements in the code and the Minister can be assured that if he introduces what we propose, he will certainly experience the minimum amount of opposition from us. On the contrary, he will be given the greatest encouragement.
There seems to be an idea in this country that the State provides for all, even though inadequately, and that a man who is sick or unemployed, a widow or a person over 70, are all provided for by the State. This is a smug attitude on the part of many people who just do not want to face up to the facts of life or to their responsibilities. There are tens of thousands of people, perhaps hundreds of thousands, who are living on the poverty line and not covered by social assistance or social insurance. There should, therefore, be a scheme of national assistance administered by the State. I have had experience in a few local authorities where they were asked to give home assistance to people receiving no benefits and the figure was very niggardly indeed.
Mark you, I would say that the Fine Gael Party and the Fianna Fáil Party have some responsibility for that. I know from experience in my own county, when the estimates have to be passed and the rate struck, that if a majority of the members in the council desire to reduce the rate, the first thing that is knocked is something like home assistance, disability allowance, or cottage repairs. These people never seem to remember that there are people living on their own who have no means and that all they are offered is £1 or 35/- a week. If Deputies do not believe me I can quote cases of people who have no incomes and all they are given is a measly 25/- or 30/- a week on which to live. There are such people and the Minister for Social Welfare has a responsibility for them.
There is no use in the Minister saying that the Public Assistance Act of 1936, or whatever it is, states that in those circumstances the local authority, the board of assistance, has a responsibility to give them something which will provide them with a reasonable standard. They do not do it, and because they do not, there should be a national assistance scheme contributed to, if you like, by the local authority and administered by somebody who will have some regard for the people's needs and for what a reasonable amount would be to pay per week in order to provide a minimum standard for these people, a standard which they are not now enjoying.
I read the Report on Full Employment produced by the National Industrial Economic Council. I do not know what consolation we can derive from this booklet. I suppose it was somewhat encouraging in that it talks about so many new jobs and full employment by 1981 or 1986. As far as full employment is concerned, and they relate all their statistics to 1965 or 1966, we are not moving towards it but travelling away from it. In 1957, 1,084,000 people were at work in this country. In 1966, 1,042,000 people were at work. Therefore, in nine years, we lost 42,000 jobs. One can talk about the 100,000 new jobs, but this is no consolation to people who have not got jobs. Deputy Lemass does not take responsibility for the statement he is alleged to have made in regard to the 100,000 new jobs.
This decrease occurred during nine years of Fianna Fáil government. This was during the time when we were promised that between 1960 and 1970, we would have 7,800 jobs per year, not just new industrial jobs but new jobs and one can mark the decline in the population in rural areas and the increase in industrial employment. Fianna Fáil have been pretty fraudulent about this matter and they have been successfully fraudulent. It amazes me how they have got away with it. It is true that they were returned at the by-elections and at the last general election, but people are beginning to think. They may return them at the next election but we are prepared to wait and to advocate what we believe to be true and criticise what we believe to be false. In 1957, Deputy Lemass, then Taoiseach, and the Fianna Fáil Party, got in on a pretty catchy slogan: "Wives, Get Your Husbands Back to Work". Still we have 42,000 fewer in employment. In 1961—I do not know what the slogan was then—we had lost 10,000 jobs. In 1965, the slogan was "Let Lemass Lead On", and since then we have 13,000 fewer at work. The efforts of the State to create more jobs have not been sufficient. The efforts made by private enterprise have failed. They have not failed completely but they failed to do the job which the country requires should be done in order to achieve our aim of full employment.
In this report, we are told that by 1981, in order to have full employment, we will need 129,000 new jobs. This, of course, is dependent on an increase in jobs and a decrease in emigration. It assumes, and this is á propos what I said about industry and agriculture, that there will be 107,000 fewer in agriculture between now and 1981, 117,000 more in industry, and 70,000 more in services. One remembers we had only 1,000 new jobs in industry last year, a very poor beginning if we are to achieve full employment by 1980. I wonder if there is any hope of achieving this at all in present circumstances or under the policies pursued for decades. We are told this will not be achieved unless there is an increase of 4.5 per cent in output or a 5.5 per cent increase in growth rate. Having regard to our experience of last year, the year before that, and, in view of the prospects for this year, we are not off the ground so far as full employment is concerned.
The total labour force since 1957 has dropped from 1,162,000 to 1,106,000 in 1966. That is the total labour force here where we talk of increased production and more industry and about competing with Britain and with the EEC countries. We lost 56,000 of our labour force between 1957 and 1966 and this in a situation where every country in EEC and Britain are seeking men for industry. If we could boast about the export of so many extra pigs or sheep or cattle last year, that would be good but we are exporting the most valuable asset we have, men and women, not only men who want to leave but men and women who are capable of engaging in industry that is not provided, due, in my view, to the slackness and inertia of the Government.
The figures for last year show that we had the highest number out of work for the past seven years in 1966 at 64,000. If anybody wants to talk about what happened in 1957, they are welcome to do so. The total then is described for the convenience of Fianna Fáil as 100,000 but I think, in fact, it was 95,000. Agreed that there were 95,000 unemployed then. In 1936 there were 104,000. It is no consolation for me to say: "You had 104,000 unemployed in 1936" and for them to retort: "You had 100,000 unemployed in 1956 or 1957."
There is no indication in this Budget as to what prospects there are for workers in 1967 and no real indication as to whether the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement will be good or bad for the economy. The indications in respect of some industries, and this is at a very early stage in the operation of the Agreement, are that there is some redundancy.
The Minister, in a polished interview for which he received due tribute from Deputy Andrews, spoke on the Budget and Budget proposals in a recent television appearance. He spoke about, among other things, indirect taxation and said it hits the poor most. We have been telling him that for quite a long time. It does. The turnover tax, the wholesale tax, the tax on drink and tobacco, all indirect taxation hits the poor most and there does not seem to be any indication that the Minister is prepared to make people pay their fair share. To "Backbencher's" pet, the capital gains tax, his answer is that there is no use in having it because there are not very many rich people here.
Let me say for the fifth time on my fifth successive Budget speech that if there is £1 million or £50,000 or even £30,000 that could be got by the State, it should be got from those who can afford it. We have an idea of the Minister's views from the concession he gave to what are called the surtax group. The aim, it appears, in the EEC countries is to place more emphasis on indirect taxation. They can afford to do this because in many countries in the EEC, the proportion of direct taxation is 40 as against 60, while in this country it is the reverse. I do not mind getting a proper amount of money by taxation, but so far as taxation is concerned, no matter what people say about the wealth, about the salaries and income of wage-earners and the general prosperity of the country, I say that we should change the trend now and lay more emphasis on direct as against indirect taxation.
In conclusion, may I say that the income concessions—that is all they are—are small with no real economic effect? It is a good thing for farmers of £20 valuation and under to have absolute relief from rates but again it does not do anything tangible, in my view, to ensure greater production. I think it was Deputy Tully who said that it would mean, to the average farmer, something like 2/- or 4/- a week. Let us say 6/- or 7/-. This is a sort of handout that I do not begrudge to them but all these concessions, apart from the social welfare benefits to people who cannot engage in productive employment, do not seem to be directed towards greater production and employment.
Fianna Fáil have had ten clear years to build up the economy and when we read the Minister's speech, we find that he talks in terms of getting the economy on the move, turning the corner and so on. We have had that sort of thing for years and years and there is no real improvement in the economy. It is true that standards have increased for many people but as far as the promotion of the economy and the improvement of the general economy are concerned, we have not made any significant progress. The funny thing— it is not funny but tragic really— is that we have the Minister talking about restraint on incomes. That is not opportune. Workers, wage and salary earners, are told that they should not move this year. They were told that last year, and the year before and year before and the year before. There is never a Budget—and I have listened for 21 years in this House—when the Minister for Finance does not call for restraint in incomes and the only incomes that can be restrained, and can be seen to be restrained, are wages and salaries.
Somebody—I think it was the Minister for Transport and Power—was crying tears the other day because profits in 1966 fell below those of 1965. He never spoke about profits when they went up far beyond the increases given in salaries and wages. The trade union leaders know what they are doing. They are not as irresponsible as members of the Government Front Bench suggest. They do have regard to the ability of the economy to pay increases. Despite what has been said by the economists, it has been proved that the moves they made to compensate workers for increased prices have not been as irresponsible as many people say they were.
I read in the Irish Independent recently, with all due respect to them, a report of an interview purporting to be given by Deputy Lemass in which he gave an analysis of the political Parties. It was a bit belated for him to say that policy-making in this country was, up to a few years ago, determined by the disunity arising out of the Civil War. Again, this is what we have been saving. If Deputy Lemass when he was Taoiseach and Mr. de Valera when he was Taoiseach were so concerned about the differences that divided either side in the Civil War, it was a scandalous situation. That is what held the country back, as I told the Labour Party Conference last year. It was probably because this sort of thing was stimulated and encouraged by people on either side of the House that the Labour Party in 1967 find ourselves with 22 members. During all those years, we concerned ourselves with the things that mattered in the country from 1922 onwards. We did not engage in the throwing of barbs across the House as to who was where at a certain time or about the robbing of banks. It was the Tom Johnsons, the Bill Nortons, the T.J. Murphys, who were talking about health, education, employment and unemployment, while the other sort of thing was going on throughout the years, with such severe loss to the country.
He said the Labour Party were not a socialist Party. It is a very simple thing for Deputy Lemass to talk about the Labour Party and socialism. We had sufficient courage firstly to describe ourselves as the Labour Party, which stands for something in Europe and the world. Secondly, we described ourselves as a socialist Party which denotes a certain philosophy in a degree which has not been promoted in this House. He calls his Party "Fianna Fáil," soldiers of destiny. He will not be asked what that stands for. He is a soldier of destiny as is each of his colleagues in the Fianna Fáil Party.
As I have said, when they were talking about the Civil War, we were talking about social welfare at a time when it was unpopular to talk about social welfare, about health, about education. We were talking about them then. I am old enough to remember that the belief of the people in this House then was that there should not be any assistance for health. Now we are all falling over each other to ensure that practically 95 per cent of the population will be covered by the major aspects of the health services.
Let those who like argue who were the first to talk about education. In 1929, we in the Labour Party talked about free secondary education. We were decried, refuted and criticised in the House for it. We were told it was impossible, it was unnational, it would offend the Church.
We still believe in State enterprise; we still believe private enterprise is not so sacrosanct that when it is not doing the job, the Government should not step in. We believe that if private enterprise does not provide jobs, the State should step in and do it. We believe that if private enterprise is not prepared to gear itself for Britain and the Common Market, the State has a responsibility to do it, and if the responsibility which the Minister for Industry and Commerce ascribed to the owners of industry is not carried out, then we will go along with him in saying that the State has a duty to fill in the gap.
We believe our economy should be planned. Again, during the past four or five years the two sides of the House have been falling over each other as to who advocated future planning on a national basis. It was James Larkin and Bill Norton, away back when it was unpopular, when Fianna Fáil, led by Deputy MacEntee, said this sort of thought was alien to Ireland. Now, as I have said, these people are falling over each other in efforts to determine which of them spoke about it first. We do not believe there should be absolute control by the State of all the resources for the community but we believe the Government, a socialist Government, should ensure the utilisation of the country's resources for the good of the economy. If private enterprise does not do this, let the State do it.
It is very difficult to know what the Government Party stand for. I say this á propos the remarks of the Taoiseach in the interview with Ogra recently. The Taoiseach described this economy as a private enterprise economy and said it would long be so. Then we had the rumblings of the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Minister for Transport and Power, indicating they are not satisfied that it should be entirely so, that they are not satisfied private enterprise is doing the job. We will encourage the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Minister for Transport and Power if they are inclined to follow up that train of thought.
Jobs and production are the urgent things and the Government's job is to see we get new jobs and increased production, and if they have to step on the toes of private enterprise and crunch them in the process, if private enterprise is not doing its job, the Government are not doing the job they were elected to do if they do not do this. At the moment they are not doing it. In all branches of the economy it has been shown that though they have held office uninterruptedly for ten years, they have very little to show for it.