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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 25 Apr 1967

Vol. 228 No. 1

Committee on Finance. - Resolution No. 4—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).

Needless to remark, every Budget is important and, having regard to what has been said about this particular Budget already, I cannot but wonder to what extent can people take pride in it. I am satisfied no real pride can be taken in it because it is a "go as you are" Budget. There is undoubted evidence that attempts have been made in a very small way to bring assistance to some people while forgetting about others. I marvelled at the attitude adopted by speakers on the Fianna Fáil benches. One could not help thinking, listening to them, that this Budget was something brought about by a new Government who had taken over and had never had an opportunity of doing anything for the people before. It is proper to take notice of the fact that this Government have held office for approximately 30 years. If they start to take credit for the meagre handouts they have given in connection with social welfare benefits, and if, as indicated by the speakers who have spoken on their behalf in this debate, this is great, one can only conclude this is a reflection on the action and behaviour of this Government in the past. Why do I say that? I am conscious of the fact that nobody will object to the idea of giving 5/- to the old age pensioners—it is good—but let us not forget the fact that what it represents for the old age pensioners still does not leave them in a great position.

I welcome also—and everybody will —the alleviation brought about for old age pensioners in the matter of the payment for units of electricity used, and meter rents. But what does this action highlight? It highlights the obvious lack of cohesion existing in the Cabinet because, last year, from these benches, we found it necessary to call the Minister for Transport and Power to task for instituting the seven per cent increase in ESB charges. From these benches it was indicated that these charges to domestic consumers were unreasonable and not only that but that the old age pensioners would be hit by it. Prior to that, from these benches also, it was advocated that the meter rent charges should be done away with but the Minister in defence of the stand he was taking, said it could not be done. I can only regard this welcome move on the part of the Minister for Finance as an admonishing of the Minister for Transport and Power, clearly indicating and highlighting his lack of interest in so far as the old age pensioners are concerned.

Deputy Dowling spent a little time here during the course of the debate trying to castigate the trade union movement. He did not realise that for many years the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, and indeed the union to which I am proud to belong, advocated in successive resolutions the elimination of meter rents and further benefits for old age pensioners, including free bus travel. While we may not have got as far as participation in Government, it is obvious that our pleadings have been accepted by the Minister for Finance. I give him credit for doing what he has done in this connection. However, I cannot but make the point that it is quite obvious he had to do it when his colleague in the Cabinet, who had an opportunity of doing it, neglected to do it. This convinces me that the Government are not one in many matters.

I was astounded to hear the Minister for Social Welfare say he was happy about the 5/- increase for social welfare beneficiaries. He said that, having regard to the many just demands on the State, they would have to be satisfied with it. This is a tragic outlook for a Minister for Social Welfare. The Government frequently tell us that they are preparing for entry into the Common Market. They are aware that our social welfare benefits are among the worst in Europe; yet the Minister is happy about an increase of 5/-. Such an increase in this day and age is not a great thing. Some years ago its value would have been much more. We must not forget what is being left to these people in order to exist. If we are to analyse the benefits in our social welfare code, we can only come to the conclusion that they are antiquated and certainly not in line with modern thinking.

We must be "with it" in this matter of social welfare benefits. I am, however, conscious of the fact that you cannot give handouts unless you have money. People speaking in the Labour interest, both inside and outside this House, have continually pointed out there is room for much improvement in our social welfare and health benefits. We know the money has to be found. We have advocated a system of graded benefits in accordance with graded contributions. We have questioned the Minister for Social Welfare about this, but all we have got from him is the reply that the matter is under consideration. I submit this matter is so vital to our nation that it should no longer be used as something out of which to make capital in a Budget. We must face up to the reality of the situation and, instead of thinking about it, do something about producing a proper system of social welfare for our people. Otherwise, we will not be allowed to participate in the Common Market.

Apart from the increase of 5/- in the social welfare benefits, there is no relief in the Budget for the lowly-paid workers—the salt of the earth, as they are very often called—the thousands of people who have under £12 a week and are attempting to rear a family. Indeed, many of them are employed in the various Departments of State and are awaiting the sanctioning of long outstanding claims in respect of pensions, sick pay and other benefits. Questions have been raised in this House with different Ministers in connection with this matter. It all comes back to the one thing: we have to get the money from the Minister for Finance. One of my complaints about this Budget is that he has neglected to deal with this problem, which affects thousands of local authority workers, forestry workers and hospital workers who have had claims outstanding for a long time.

We have said, both in this House and outside it, that the setting of good example is important. It is ironical in this day and age, when we see people being urged to combine in the interests of the nation and produce more, to find that in private employment we have succeeded in obtaining increases in wages and other benefits while the State Departments lag behind. This is something the Minister for Local Government, the Minister for Lands, the Minister for Health and, in particular, the Minister for Finance have neglected to attend to.

The tax reliefs in this Budget look attractive on paper, but when we examine them we find there are many who will get nothing. Would it not have been much better, when we are paying lip service to the plight of the man with the large family, to have done something in regard to the children's allowances for these people? This has been thrown into relief by the fact that the publicans are charging a penny on the half pint. The extra halfpenny could have been utilised to provide something extra for children's allowances, but it was not done. My complaint in connection with the increase in the pint is the obvious failure—for what reason I do not know; I am trying to find out if there was any particular reason—on the part of the Minister for Finance to announce a positive date from which the pint increase would operate, a positive date from which the cigarette increase would operate.

I have had people tell me that for some time leading up to the Budget there was a step taken by the manufacturers to prevent the hoarding of cigarettes, that in order not to afford people an opportunity of cashing in on the Budget the manufacturers made sure traders would not exceed the normal supply to their customers. I understand steps were taken in the bonded warehouse in this regard. Why could we not be a bit more open about this? The person responsible for this matter is undoubtedly the Minister for Finance. If the Minister for Finance says the old age pensioner will get an increase as from a date hence, surely the situation should also be that the pint does not go up until a date hence? This, I submit, is a realistic way of doing things.

What has happened is not out of keeping with the behaviour of the Fianna Fáil Government. I am mindful of the fact that it was announced in the newspapers as a decision on the part of the Minister for Transport and Power that the ESB charges would go up by seven per cent, and simultaneously with that, it was said that the Minister was referring the matter to the Minister for Industry and Commerce with a view to having him set up the necessary machinery to see whether or not the increase was justified. We in these benches objected to that procedure. We said this was very wrong, having regard to the public interest, because it was setting a bad example. It was affording an opportunity to everybody interested to break the line.

In the prices arrangement that was brought in there was the condition that notice of intention to increase prices must be given. The period mentioned was three months. The ESB, for some reason, does not come within the ambit of such a regulation. It was allowed to increase its prices by seven per cent, and then the Commission had to decide whether or not the charges should be increased. That seven per cent went on all domestic consumers, including old age pensioners and other social welfare beneficiaries.

Is it any wonder that the publicans jumped the gun and increased their prices without getting the necessary permission? During the same period, within a matter of weeks, we read in the newspapers that the restaurants in Dublin had obtained permission from the Department of Industry and Commerce to increase the price of coffee by a penny a cup. This indicates to me the absence of order and the undoubted failure on the part of the Government to do something about the matter.

Outside the confines of this House and during the course of questions today, it has been advocated that something should be done about the excessive charges on drink. The Minister for Industry and Commerce has now said he is going to do something about them. It is important that the Minister for Finance, who is responsible for imposing the tax, having submitted it for approval to this House, should say clearly and distinctly what the tax should be: "It is a penny on the pint; it is a halfpenny on the halfpint. It is not to be a penny on the halfpint".

When we express concern about the working man and his family, common sense tells us that it is the working man's drink that is being taxed, that the vast majority of the moneyed people, as they are described, do not usually indulge in the pint. A few of them do—they like it now and then— but spirits, which they usually drink, have remained at the same price. It is very important to ensure that people are not mulcted in this connection. It is not enough to say: "If you go somewhere else you will get it cheaper". The intention of the Minister must be clearly stated.

In regard to the relief from ESB charges afforded to old age pensioners, I do not know how many people are affected. The Minister has given a calculation as to the cost. I wonder has his Department made any calculation as to what the cost would be if similar relief were given to the people who have not got electricity but who use gas for light, heat and cooking. When Deputy Booth from the Fianna Fáil benches was speaking about the seven per cent increase in electricity charges last year, he made the point that the best way of economising in so far as electricity was concerned was to use less of it, that the people who found their bills too great should put out the light. What a thought! I would ask the Minister to consider sympathetically the case of old age pensioners who use gas instead of electricity. In saying this —maybe I have not expressed this clearly—I appreciate the Minister's efforts in bringing relief to the old age pensioners who are consumers of electricity; likewise, I appreciate what he has done in connection with transport.

There is one thing about which I would ask the Minister to do something. Last week in the District Court some old age pensioners were prosecuted because they had failed to pay their licence fees for radios and television sets. I am not suggesting that an old age pensioner or an old person who can afford a television set should not pay for a licence. I am thinking of the old age pensioner who perhaps has been given a present of a television set and who has been prosecuted and told to pay up.

My colleague, Deputy Pattison, spoke about medical expenses. Certainly the relief proposed by the Minister is welcome. However, the impression seems to be that a man will get £50 relief for medical expenses when he wants that relief. That is not exactly the position. Affluent people will be able to spend much more than the less affluent and they will thereby be enabled to command the very best medical attention. The less affluent may be suffering to the same degree but they will have to be satisfied with the ordinary family doctor and, if the medical expenses do not exceed £50, there will be no relief granted. At the first opportunity the Minister should set about giving proper relief to the latter, the man on the lower rung of the ladder who has to keep pace in the payment of taxation.

There is certain assistance in this Budget for hotels, particularly for the expansion of hotels in the West. Everybody welcomes any encouragement given in that direction, but I have yet to see the allocation of money for staff training. The Minister knows that no business will be a success unless there is trained staff. This is a matter that cries out for attention. In the catering world, the position is unique: the workers themselves subscribe towards a fund for the training of staff. To my knowledge, there is no other industry in which that is done. The time has come when the Minister should ensure that not only will more be employed as a result of the expenditure of these moneys but that the people so employed will be properly trained and properly treated.

That would be a matter for the Estimate rather than the Budget.

An aspect of our economic life to which no reference is made in the Budget is the difficulty experienced by people attempting to buy their own homes. It would be only reasonable, I think, to give some measure of relief to those who are asked to pay exorbitant deposits on houses. Those starting to put homes together and raise families are in need of relief and I am disappointed that the Minister has not seen fit to do something in that connection. The Minister for Local Government highlighted the situation when he stressed that there was a good deal of money being made out of speculation in land and building. Surely it was not necessary to wait until the advent of the Minister to find out what has been happening?

Last Friday night, on television, Deputy Dowling described the Minister as young and active and said that he would do something about this problem. That was rather like a reflection on the Minister's predecessor. Yet, the Minister's predecessor remains a member of the Cabinet, the Cabinet of a Government who have held office for some 30 years. It is well known that there is speculation in land and houses and that it has been going on for years. Would the Minister for Finance, even at this late hour, institute some kind of investigation into this matter and, perhaps next year—I hope there will not be another Budget this year— introduce some system compelling these speculators to pay heavy taxes and, at the same time, giving some relief to those unfortunate people who have had to conform to the dictates of these speculators?

With regard to rates, there is a measure of relief for small farmers in this Budget. There is no relief for those living in the cities and towns. A great many people who own their own houses are struggling to make ends meet, living on a fixed income, a small pension, a low salary or low wages. No relief of any kind has been given to these people. The handout has been given to the farming community in the form of derating. The Minister should at the first available opportunity do something in connection with the particular matter I describe.

Within the past few weeks, I asked the Minister a question in this connection. I asked him whether it was his intention to do anything about the predicament and the hardship in which these people found themselves involved. It is on the records of this House that the Minister answered that there was no question of hardship. I do not know what sort of world the Minister moves in but I invite him to have consultation with some of his backbenchers who obviously have had the same pleadings and suggestions made to them as I have had in connection with this matter. Unfortunate people are actually hungry because they must pay their rates, high rates, because by their own industry, they have set about and obtained a house and then when their families left them, they were left with the house and a very meagre income. No real relief has been brought to those people. If they banded themselves together, they would number some thousands but they would not be allowed to protest for very long; a rate demand would be there and they would be told: "If you do not pay, you will find yourselves somewhere else."

Another aspect of this Budget to which I want to refer is the decision of the Minister in connection with unemployment benefit. This is something that has been advocated admittedly for a long time but if we have regard to the speculation, projections and, as I have often described them, modern guesses contained in the First and Second Programmes for Economic Expansion, we must see that instead of talking in terms of alleviating the unemployment position, we must wonder what exactly will happen in connection with the unemployment position. When are progressive steps to be taken towards full employment and reducing the present unemployment figures? The present unemployment figures are substantially high. They are higher than last year. This is a clear indication of failure of the Government in this matter of the First and Second Programmes for Economic Expansion. The reason for all this is that the Government have, to a great extent, shirked their responsibility. They have passed on to a set of people their task and allowed the set of people to apply their minds to the situation and give vent to their imagination in matters of what should or should not be in connection with employment. While all those speculations, projections and modern guesses have come about, we have never had an indication from any Minister in the Cabinet, including the Taoiseach, as to how the First and Second Programmes for Economic Expansion are to be put into operation. The time has come for doing something positive in that connection.

We have had an NIEC Report in connection with matters of the day, matters of the future and in particular, employment. I submit that if we have real regard to the NIEC Report, we must admit that what the NIEC Report does is pose a problem for the Government. The NIEC have set the problem and said: "There it is, as we see it." They are now asking the Government: "What are you going to do about it?". I would have expected the Minister for Finance to have said in this Budget: "Having regard to the NIEC Report, this is our intention or that is our intention in connection with future employment." That has not been done.

This Budget has produced relief in certain circumstances, in the main, for rural dwellers. What has been given to urban dwellers could safely be described as a fleabite. As I said at the beginning, this could be just a marking time Budget because clearly there is nothing at all being done for the lowly paid worker. The lowly paid worker is badly off, and irrespective of the number of children he may have, is caught by indirect taxation. Yet we have the situation that this Budget continues to perpetuate the gaps existing between the lowly-paid worker and other types of people. In many State Departments there are thousands of people who have no security of any kind. Surely the opportunity was there for the Minister to do something about this? The opportunity was not taken—why I do not know.

Is this being done in a piecemeal fashion for political kudos? Can we, for example, take it that something will be done for these people? If we ask the Minister about it, we are told: "The matter is under consideration." When we ask: "When do you expect to do something about it?" we are told: "Soon." When we ask: "What do you mean by soon?", we are told: "As soon as I can." What does all this mean? As soon as the Minister for Finance is ready. When will he be ready?

(Cavan):“Don't know.”

The people who sit in these benches are grateful for the increased social welfare benefits but are we to have an increase in living costs after this Budget? These sneaky Budgets and sneaky increases have been brought about before. I think it fair to say that ever since the Pay as You Earn system came into operation in this State, the worker pays through the nose by way of taxes and the people who employ the workers are the people who get more benefits and more alleviation by way of this and that exclusion.

There is one other matter to which I should like to refer. A Deputy from the Fianna Fáil benches was so short of material that he decided to make scandalous and erroneous statements in connection with the trade union movement, statements which, if he were what he purports to be, he would not make. If he were alive as a trade unionist to the activities of the trade union movement and, indeed, if he had familiarised himself with legislation in this country, he would know well that what he was saying was untrue. I am referring to Deputy Dowling who talked about a political levy in trade unions. I think it only right and proper for me to say this. There are only a little more than a dozen units in this country paying the political levy and that also is optional. As far as my union is concerned, it is 6d a quarter, 2/- a year, which is far from £100 a plate. Furthermore. Deputy Moore was so hurt about this matter that he said the fellows who raised this money are not in his constituency. I am sorry to say this. Quite obviously, Deputy Moore either was not present or was not listening when the names of the fund-raisers for the Fianna Fáil Party were announced because there are a number from his constituency.

The Labour Party have never gone around collecting £100 a plate for a dinner. It should be acknowledged and remembered that the Labour Party are the oldest Party operating in this country. It came into existence before ever this House was established. It was brought about by James Connolly who moved the formation of the Labour Party. Never at any time was it advocated that we should pander to employers or anybody else for money to run our affairs. I think it is extremely wrong and scandalous in the extreme for Deputy Dowling to say what he did. I would ask the Deputy to remember that there is such a thing as the Friendly Societies Act. If he has regard to that and makes a study of it, he will get a little more information than he obviously has at the moment.

I want to make this final point to the Minister, having regard to his indication of concern—and, I would say, a genuine indication of concern—for the old aged people and the alleviation, such as it is, he has introduced in this Budget. It is absolutely imperative that that 5/- given to them and to the other social welfare beneficiaries be of real value. The situation is somewhat ironic because bacon and what comes from pigs is being sold at higher prices than ever and yet, repeatedly in this House, it is being said that the price of bacon and the price of cattle have reached an all time low. There is little point in giving out this money in social welfare benefits or even tax reliefs—to city folk, anyway—if it is to be whittled away by these increases that are indiscriminately imposed even on the pint in defiance of any action taken. There is no sense in doing it.

(Cavan): This is the first Budget to be introduced by the present Minister for Finance. However, it is not the first Budget to be introduced by the Government of which he is a member. We cannot consider this Budget or pass judgment on it without looking back at some previous Budgets. Indeed, it is necessary to go back only as far as the year 1966 because, in that year, we had the rather unusual experience of being subjected to two Budgets, one before the Presidential election and one immediately after it. Those two Budgets, between them, imposed additional taxation to the tune of approximately £12 million. The second Budget—and, indeed, the first of last year—deliberately increased the cost of essentials of life and deliberately put up the cost of living. As a result of these operations, the Minister was in a position to come in here this year and announce a surplus. His Government, indeed, are not to be thanked for any small benefits which this Budget contains, nor are they to be thanked for the fact that in this Budget they have imposed only approximately £2½ million extra taxation. After last year's experience, one would think there would be substantial tax reliefs or, on the other hand, that there would be considerable incentives for production and considerable hand-outs to the social welfare classes.

There is nothing worthwhile in this Budget. As a matter of fact, a striking feature of this Budget is that it displays no long-term economic or social thinking. It contains evidence of considerable short-term political thinking. As a matter of fact, it does not appear to look beyond 28th June of this year, the day of the local elections.

Mind you, I am not inclined to place all the blame for the framing of this Budget on the Minister for Finance. I think he was subject to considerable pressure from the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and the Minister for Local Government in their capacities as directors of political organisation within the Fianna Fáil Party. I think it is really a Blaney-Boland effort imposed on the Minister for Finance and that that is possibly one of the reasons why, in the early days of this debate, the Minister for Finance was so irritable and bad-tempered and so much resented any criticism that was made. He felt he was sent in here to stand over a Budget which really was not his own.

As I have said before, this is a political Budget, giving a little here and there, a gimmick here and a gimmick there. One example of a gimmick is the provision for treating medical expenses as allowances under the income tax code, but they are not going to cost anybody anything until 1968-69. There is also provision for better allowances for depreciation in plant and machinery but again they are not going to cost anybody anything until 1968-69. It should be borne in mind that such reliefs are copied entirely from the Fine Gael policy— not the Fine Gael policy of last week or the week before, but from the Fine Gael policy enunciated at the last general election. I will come to them in greater detail later on. The relief from rates has gone some of the way with the Fine Gael policy. They have allowed medical expenses to be charged as an expense under the income tax code; they have given certain incentives in regard to the employment of trained managers; and they have given an allowance in regard to the depreciation of plant and machinery, and each and every one of those provisions has been taken lock, stock and barrel from the Fine Gael policy which was put before the people during the last general election and which was derided by the Fianna Fáil Party.

The Minister stated that the outlook for 1967 was good provided that certain assumptions materialised, that there was no general increase in money incomes and that wage unit costs were not further increased. He appealed to the working people to see that this would be so, to see that these assumptions would be justified and would materialise. Mark you, the Government have a responsibility in this, too. It is the duty of the Government to see that the cost of living is kept at a reasonable level and that money retains its value. Under that particular heading the Government have not a good record. The only way to do that is to implement a proper incomes and prices policy. There is a sort of halfhearted acknowledgment in the Budget that there should be an incomes policy. During the last general election the Fine Gael Party advocated an incomes policy and said that you could not have a just society here without such a policy.

On that occasion the then Leader of the Fianna Fáil Party. who is still a Member of this House, Deputy Lemass, when speaking at Navan or Mullingar, stated that he would not have anything to do with an incomes policy, that an incomes policy was only successful behind the Iron Curtain, that if he were in office, he would not implement it and if he were in Opposition, he would oppose it. I am glad to see that the policy put forward by Deputy Lemass has apparently been thrown overboard and that the Government have now accepted the advice of the Fine Gael Party on the question of an incomes policy at all levels. It is very hard indeed for the people to follow the policy of the Fianna Fáil Party from day to day.

And Fine Gael from election to election.

(Cavan): You accepted our policy after the election.

One before the Kildare by-election, one before the Cork by-election and one before the general election. You must have a policy for——


(Cavan): Fianna Fáil credit the people with having very short memories. I am beginning to think that Deputy Lemass must have been thrown overboard with his policy because when he went, apparently the incomes policy was accepted.

The Minister also stated that the main emphasis, in the Government's view, must be placed on an increased capital expenditure. I am all in favour of increased capital expenditure on wise and worthwhile programmes. I should like to take up a point made by the last speaker when he referred to houses. The greatest contribution that can be made to the fixed assets of this country is to encourage people to provide their own houses. If people provide their own houses, they take a pride in them and if they provide their own houses, they relieve the local authorities of the obligation. No worthwhile incentive has been given by this Government to private individuals, the white-collar workers or middle-class groups, to provide their own houses.

The State grant of £300 has been standing at that figure since 1948, notwithstanding the fact that the cost of building has at least doubled since 1948. I am probably being conservative when I say doubled, because it has probably more than doubled, but yet the grant stands at £300. It is high time the Minister provided some more money for larger grants to enable private individuals to build houses. While the State grant stands at £300, the rate of interest on the Small Dwellings Act loans has increased from five per cent to approximately eight per cent. There is no better or wiser way in which money could be spent than to subsidise the rate of interest to private individuals who are building their own houses and to reduce the rate of interest from eight per cent, or whatever it now is, to a very much lower figure. It would be a sound investment to give people who want to build their own houses an interest rate as low as five per cent. The House would provide the money and the country would be the richer and the better for it.

Under the same heading, I might deal with the fact that some of the money provided by borrowing is not spent wisely. A substantial amount of money should be set aside to enable people to build their own houses. I am told expenditure has gone up by £20 million in the current year and of that sum, £7 million is attributable to servicing last year's borrowing. That is a sizeable amount of money. It is very important that money which costs so much to borrow and national loans which cost so much to service should be spent wisely and that we should not have examples like Potez Limited costing millions of pounds and producing precisely nothing either in national wealth by way of exports or in employment.

At Budget time we have an opportunity of seeing just how much things of this sort cost and where the money is being spent. This Budget Statement, even with all the help the Minister got, seems to have been loosely and hastily put together. There are numerous inaccuracies in it. For example, dealing with education, the Minister says that free transport service for pupils living more than three miles from a post-primary school centre has been introduced as from 1st April, 1967. Of course, that is not so; it is not a fact. What has happened is that such transport schemes as were already being operated at the cost of the schools have been taken over by the Department as from 1st April. It is completely untrue to say that every child living three miles away from a secondary school has had free transport to that school from 1st April. Yet that is exactly what the Minister stated.

I sincerely hope the Minister for Education gets on with his scheme for free education. It has the full approval of this Party and of the House. We are again glad that he accepted the thinking of the Fine Gael Party on that matter, although, as is acknowledged by the experts, his policy falls far short of Fine Gael policy on the subject.

Perhaps it is a coincidence that immediately after education the Minister in his Budget speech deals with health. People are sorely and sadly disappointed with the health services. At the beginning of last year, I think, the present Minister for Education, then Minister for Health, introduced a White Paper which we discussed at some length in this House. That White Paper promised improved medical services, improved pharmacy services and, generally, an improved health service and the Minister undertook to introduce legislation in the autumn of last year and have the White Paper implemented and ticking over by the end of this year.

A discussion on health would be relevant on the Estimate rather than the Budget.

(Cavan): I would agree if I were going into it in detail but I have no intention of doing so. We know that nothing has been done about health services and that we are as near an improved health scheme now as we were 12 months ago. With your permission, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I shall touch on one detail in a very general way, something of considerable concern to a great many parents and others, the problem of the retarded child. There is not sixpence in this Budget either by way of income tax relief or health provision to give any substantial assistance, either by grants at home or hospitalisation to the people who have the affliction of having a retarded child in their family. It is cruel when a comparatively small sum of money would suffice.

What about the parents of a retarded child who hold a medical card? There is surely free treatment?

There are no institutions—not enough of them.

(Cavan): A retarded child, when he becomes 16 years of age, becomes a man able to earn his own living as far as the income tax code is concerned.

That is not true.

(Cavan): He becomes a dependent relative and the allowance, as the Deputy knows, drops from £150 to £60.

Not with a medical card. I know what I am talking about.

(Cavan): The Deputy will not put me off. The parents of a retarded child up to the age of 16 get an allowance of £150. At age 16 the child becomes a dependent relative and the allowance drops to £60. Since I became a Member of the Oireachtas, I have been advocating that the long waiting list—not weeks or months, but the three years parents must wait to have their children placed in homes—should be attended to. Nothing has been done about it. We get pathetic letters—I am sorry; I know I am bordering on overstepping the rules of order—from parents and headmasters, from parents appealing to get children in and headmasters saying that they are completely full up and there is nothing they can do about it, that they are now dealing with those who have applied three years ago. So much for health.

Coming to agriculture, the Minister said that farming can be prosperous only when output is rising rapidly. Clearly, therefore, he says that neither State aid nor price improvements can take the place of increased production as a means of raising farm incomes. He has not said a word about markets. It has been the sad experience of farmers that when production goes up prices go down. Production went up last year—agriculture was the one sector in our economy in which production did go up—but notwithstanding that, farmers' incomes fell drastically.

It is the business of the Government and the Minister to organise a marketing system for agricultural produce so that when their appeals to produce more are listened to and acted on, there will be a ready, profitable market for the produce. We had the sorry spectacle last year of the bottom falling out of the market for cattle and then, for the first time, the Minister for Agriculture at the time went on expeditions to Italy, Spain and Germany in a last-minute frantic effort to do something about it. That is not good enough. The Government have a duty to the country, a duty to the producers to have at their disposal diplomatic and economic missions abroad as well as technical advisers at home. It is not when the horse has gone that they should start locking the stable door. It is their business to look ahead and to take advice. I shall go further and say that it is their business to know what will happen in advance and to make provision for it. That has not been done and last year was a dreadful example of the failure of the Government under this head.

The Minister seems to have great faith in the National Agricultural Council. It is obvious he is one of the few people who have. The Minister would not accept that the NFA have been unprejudiced in their approach to this thing, that they have no faith in it. Neither, may I say, have the ICMSA or the beet growers. It is all suspect.

We are getting away from the Budget debate and discussing agricultural organisations.

(Cavan): I am sorry, but the Minister referred specifically to it in his speech. I made a note of it. He dealt with it and said he holds out great hopes for the benefits it will confer on the country in general. I am simply saying I do not think that is so, that I do not think the constitution of that body lends itself to confidence. The personnel are political; they will answer the Party Whip and say what the Minister wants. It is a pity that a completely independent National Agricultural Council, which would command the respect of the farming community was not set up to advise the Minister and the Government, even if that advice might cause some embarrassment from time to time. I will leave it at that.

Is the Deputy suggesting that Lt.-General Costello would answer any Party Whip? Will the Deputy answer my question?

(Cavan): If the Deputy will permit me. I am sure that Lt.-General Costello was thrown in there to take the bad look off a motley collection.

That is not an answer to my question.

Any of this does not arise on the Budget debate. It might be relevant to a debate on the Estimate for Agriculture.

(Cavan): The decent man would be outvoted ten to one and the Deputy knows it.

The Deputy did not answer my question.

(Cavan): He was thrown in to take the bad look off the people who were there— defeated Senators, defeated TDs and secretaries of Fianna Fáil cumainn.

It does not arise on the Budget.

(Cavan): I have a note here:

The Government are most anxious to help farmers to organise themselves for productive purposes.

The less said about that the better. It speaks for itself. I will deal with it later on. "The Government are most anxious to help farmers to organise themselves for productive purposes". Really what the Minister meant by that was that he is most anxious to help farmers to organise themselves if he were assured they would do it for political purposes which would be in accordance with his own views.

Certain concessions have been made in the Budget. There is not a doubt about that. Certain concessions have been made to a considerable number of my constituents, the vast majority of whom have valuations of £20 or less. I am glad of it. I am glad also that it is a leaf taken from that little book of Fine Gael policy put forward in the last general election.

We have had three or four policies since then.

(Cavan): It is the one on which we fought the last election.

The one on which you lost the election.

(Cavan): Our policy provided for derating of all farms with total valuations of £25 or less. It is a good job it has come and I welcome it. However, the whole approach to local rating needs to be thought about. We are operating a system of financing local administration which was introduced about 1898 at a time when property and wealth were synonymous, when if a man had not either buildings or land, it was unlikely he could contribute to the running of local government or local services such as were provided then. We are still operating that system. There should be an effort to shift the burden from the ratepayers to the general taxpayers.

It is unreasonable that people who have houses should have to pay a considerable cost of the housing of people who have not houses, when, at the same time, many people living in hotels and guesthouses on substantial incomes have not to make the same contributions. It is unreasonable that a considerable portion of the cost of housing, of health and of main roads should still remain on rates. It is simply antiquated. At the present time only such purely local services as water, sewerage, scavenging and that sort of thing are properly chargeable on rates. It is high time the Government woke up to the fact and tackled it.

I know of many small shopkeepers who have been squeezed out of business by the modern supermarket, the large store. They are operating in towns in this country with a valuation of £20. A small shopkeeper with a valuation of £20, just struggling along, has, by virtue of the fact that he occupies his house, to pay about £100 in rates. I say that is not just. I say it is taxing the man without regard to his capacity to pay.

The solution to this is to shift the cost of many of our services from the rates. I have mentioned health already. Education also, to some extent, is a burden on the rates. In fact, approximately 50 per cent of the cost of technical education in every county is still a charge on the rates. Housing is a charge on the rates. Health is approximately 50 per cent. The maintenance of roads is also a charge on the rates. Those roads cater for tourists and heavy traffic and this is really a national matter.

Main roads are a national charge.

(Cavan): I am fully aware that the construction of main roads is a national charge. The Budget provides unemployment assistance for farmers all the year round. This is very welcome; in fact, it is extremely welcome. It will be very welcome to the small farmers in my constituency in existing circumstances. I welcome this on their behalf. Those small farmers are living from hand to mouth and are really in poverty, as this concession admits. It is a good thing the Minister and the Government have at last realised that the small farmers of county Cavan, and other counties in Ireland, are destitute for 12 months of the year.

That is what this innovation means. It means nothing else. While the small farmers welcome it, and while I welcome it on their behalf, it is a sorry admission on the part of a Government in power for over 30 years that that is the best they can offer. It is in so many words saying to those people: "You are a collection of non-productive individuals. You are on your way out and there is nothing we can do about it, but as long as you are there, we will keep your bodies and your souls together." That is what this means. It is a shocking indictment of Fianna Fáil administration. Instead of equipping those small farmers to earn a decent living, instead of equipping them to add to the national wealth, instead of providing them with work in their own immediate localities, they say: "Do not worry. We know you are a wash-out but we will at least see that you do not die of hunger." That, in my summing up, is what this means.

It is a reflection on the Government, that, as I have said, such benefits as this Budget provides for the farming community have been wrenched from the Government by the farmers' organisations. I say this and I do not think it can be contradicted. Generally speaking, the farming community are a law-abiding, reasonable, conservative collection of people. I do not think that can be denied. They have been satisfied with less than their fair share of the national cake for many years. They have not been greedy; they have not been demanding. At the same time, agriculture is the basic industry in this country. That is something which, mind you, many people are inclined to forget. It is something which cannot be emphasised too often. We are dependent, in the last analysis, because of our natural resources, on what we can produce from the land. During the lifetime of this Government, we have had some sorry sights in this city and in this country. We have had the creamery milk suppliers marching up and down outside this building.

I do not see how this is relevant to the Budget debate. The Deputy is going into details of agricultural policy which do not arise on a Budget debate.

(Cavan): I am not.

The Deputy is going into detail on the milk suppliers.

(Cavan): With the greatest respect, I am not going into detail on agricultural policy, and I do not intend to do so.

It would not arise.

(Cavan): I know it would not. I want to say, and I am going to make the case, that this Government have failed in their policy in a general way with regard to the agricultural community for the past 30 years. Their sins are now coming home to roost. They have now to deal with problems of their own creation. As I said, we had the creamery milk suppliers being gathered up in Black Marias and brought away. Later still we had the spectacle of members of the NFA being arrested and thown into jail. This Party do not stand, as I do not stand, for illegal activity. We never did. Our record shows it and our record is clear. It is the cleanest in this House on that score.

We cannot discuss the matter mentioned by the Deputy on the Budget. It is irrelevant and out of order. If the Deputy persists, I must ask him to resume his seat.

(Cavan): I hope it will not be necessary. I have a few things more to say and I would not like to be deprived of the right to say them. The Government have failed the agricultural community. When war started in 1939—that is a long time ago now—the farmers should have been in a position to reap the richest harvest ever reaped by any agricultural country but because of the policy of the Government in the 1930s, they were completely unequipped to reap that harvest. From that date, with the exception of the efforts of Deputy Dillon, nothing has been done for them. Nothing worthwhile, nothing of a productive nature has been done.

We have much talk here on the Budget and there has been talk outside about our entry to the Common Market. I suppose if England is admitted to the Common Market, we will be admitted and will join. Whether or not we will be a success in the Common Market depends on whether our farmers can stand up to the competition they will meet there. We will be judged in the Common Market as an agricultural country. We will succeed or fail, according as our farmers succeed or fail. It is indeed sad that at the same time as we are preparing to enter the Common Market, to take on the challenge with which entry will present us, we have absolute chaos in our agricultural industry, chaos for which the Government are responsible because the Government are the organisers of agriculture, of industry and of labour. They must accept responsibility for the chaotic state of affairs of the present time.

Turning to such tax reliefs as this Budget gives, we start off with one already mentioned, that is, the allowance of medical expenses under the income tax code. Before these expenses are to be allowed, they must exceed £50 and they must be incurred in respect of serious illness which is likely to be permanent. I should like to know from the Minister whether, in fact, that allowance would cover the maintenance of a retarded child in an institution. If so, it would be a move in the right direction. I should like the Minister to clear my mind about that at some stage in his reply. Certainly a retarded child is suffering from a serious illness which is likely to be permanent, and I hope the Minister will put that matter beyond doubt when introducing the Finance Bill.

The dependent relative allowance stands at £60, at which it has been since 1956. It is extraordinary, when we hear all the talk about 1956 being a bad year, and so on, that the personal allowance was fixed in that year and has never moved since. The dependent relative allowance was fixed in 1956 and has never moved either. The personal allowance should be increased. It has been for ten years at the same figure, notwithstanding the fact that the value of money has been drastically reduced in the meantime. It means, in fact, that income tax has increased every year.

I would make a strong appeal for an increase in the income tax personal allowance. We know that surtax payers in the £3,000 to £4,000 bracket have got a present of something between £100 and £150. Perhaps my mathematics are wrong but that is the way I work it out. I know that is given to encourage managers to come back from England to take up work here. I wonder was there any other way of doing it. I certainly think that when that was being done, and there may be justification for it, the personal allowances should also have been increased.

I should like to say a word about the turnover tax. It is some years now since it was introduced. The Financial Resolutions which have been passed have. I think, the effect of confirming it and it is probably now open for discussion. At any rate, it is a few years since it was introduced. It went on in a quiet way and we did not hear much about it. I remember forecasting, when the Finance Bill of that year was going through the House, that we would reach the stage of the Department of Supplies again, where we would have inspectors going around harassing shopkeepers and traders. I regret to say that that stage has now been reached. You have officers of the Minister for Finance invading a town, and "invading" is the only word I can use, and terrorising shopkeepers, making nervous wrecks of them. There might be something to be said for it if it were in respect of income tax because the income tax would be assessed on profits earned but these shopkeepers are asked to act as unpaid tax collectors because they are paying turnover tax on their turnover, not on their profits.

This turnover tax, if it is to be continued, should be converted into a tax to be collected at source by manufacturers or wholesalers. Family concerns are not geared for this sort of accounting. I know from experience I had recently of a town that had literally been invaded by a miniature horde of officials from the Department of Finance and they did put the fear of God into most of the citizens of that town.

In dealing with the social welfare provisions, I admit to repeating what has been said so often, that is, that if any increase has been made, it is without increase in the children's allowances. That is something to be deplored. The cost of living has gone up and, mind you, nobody is as hard hit as the small farmer with a large family. No provision whatever has been made for him in this Budget. I said this Budget speech seemed to be a vague document and contained a number of inaccuracies. Several references are made in it to the 12 western counties, but they have not been named. I can only assume that by the "12 western counties" is meant the nine counties in the congested districts and the counties of Monaghan, Cavan and Longford. I am assuming Monaghan, Cavan and Longford are included in those 12 western counties, although they were included—after, I think, the election before last—in the undeveloped areas, by order. By virtue of that, they have got tagged on to the congested districts and are now regarded as the 12 western counties. But the Minister, in the course of his speech referring to these 12 counties, says he will provide an additional £200,000 in the pilot areas in the current year to finance and intensify the programme of land settlement. Further down on the same page, he goes on to say:

Utilising to the full the powers provided by the Land Act, 1965, particularly the new life-annuity and self-migration schemes, vacant and derelict holdings and lands not being fully utilised will be freed and made available to assist materially in the implementation of the structural reform programme.

Of course, the Minister is aware—or should be aware—that the self-migration provisions of the Land Act of 1965 —notwithstanding my best endeavours in the Seanad—do not apply to Cavan, Monaghan or Longford. If this is an indication that he intends to amend the Land Act of 1965, to apply those provisions, such as they are and slowly as they are being used, I shall welcome it, but his colleague, the Minister for Lands, in answer to a question I put down within the past couple of years, stated that he had no intention of amending the Act. I should like to know from the Minister for Finance whether it is his intention to do that.

Furthermore, land settlement in Monaghan, Cavan and Longford costs double the amount to the people who get it as does land in the congested districts of Leitrim, Sligo, Roscommon and the rest. I want to inquire from the Minister if this statement is to be taken as an indication that people who get land in Monaghan, Longford and Cavan will have to pay only half the annuities, the same as their neighbours in Leitrim and Roscommon?

It would seem to be a matter for another debate; it would not seem to be too relevant to the Budget.

(Cavan): Maybe it should not be, but here it is on page 43.

The Deputy is discussing land resettlement, which does not arise for discussion on the Budget.

(Cavan): I do not want to quarrel with the Chair but is the position to be here that the Minister for Finance, in introducing his Budget, is to be at liberty to make inaccurate statements, put them on the records of this House and I am not to be allowed to correct him and put him back on the rails, because that is what I am trying to do?

The Chair is pointing out to the Deputy that he will get a relevant opportunity of pointing out anything to the Minister for Lands.

(Cavan): I just want to raise the matter with the Minister for Finance because he is proceeding to assure the House and the country that he will do certain things for certain parts of the country under Acts which do not entitle him so to do.

The Chair is concerned only with the fact that the Budget debate is confined to taxation and financial policy.

(Cavan): All I can say, Sir, is that from page 42 to “Mining” on page 51, the Minister is talking about land settlement and what he intends to do for the West, under Acts which do not authorise him so to do. I want to know does he intend to have the Acts amended? We shall leave it at that. If the Minister deals with things in detail, it is very hard for me to ignore them.

The Minister has said he will relieve the Special Commissioners of Income Tax of administrative responsibility to enable them to deal solely with appeals. There is nothing political in this; it is purely a professional expression I wish to give to a thought I have had for a long time: I think Special Commissioners of Income Tax should be people who, by their training and previous experience, are completely independent and unbiased. In the past I think the practice has been either to promote existing inspectors of taxes to the position of Special Commissioners, or to appoint retired inspectors of taxes to that position. I want to make the point that such people must be biased against the taxpayers; they would not be human or natural if they were not. I want to emphasise that I have no particular person in mind and am not making a personal attack on anybody. I merely say I regard it as peculiar, to say the least of it, that a man who has acted for 30 years as a jailer, shall we say, should suddenly find himself sitting as a judge. It is a suggestion, for what it is worth.

I have not very much more to say beyond hoping that this is the end of Budgets for 1967, "mini", "magni", or otherwise, that we shall not have any supplementary Budget, properly so-called, that the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs will not introduce a supplementary Budget and that the Minister for Transport and Power will not give us a supplementary Budget, either in his capacity as Minister in charge of the ESB or of CIE.

Finally, the Minister, in concluding his speech, said:

I want also to give a fillip to economic activity and to get production moving upward much more rapidly than it has been.

He says also:

This Budget is my contribution and I am asking everyone else to make theirs in their own way and to the best of their ability.

In my opinion, the Minister's contribution is a mighty small one. I only hope that the people to whom he has appealed will make a better contribution than he has done.

As one who has been present in the House during a good many debates on Budgets introduced, I notice a very peculiar trend this year in the speeches on the Budget, especially from the Opposition Benches, that is, they are inclined to speak on practically every other subject except the Budget, which should be under discussion. Many references have been made to past Budgets, especially to the two Budgets introduced last year. I am not surprised at the number of times the Chair has had to call for order, or bring the speakers back to the subject which should be under discussion. They do not refer to the success that attended the measures taken last year and the righting of the economy in a much shorter time than was done in other countries, where they felt the effect of the credit squeeze at least as much as we did. These measures were obviously necessary and were successful. Looking back on it now, the credit squeeze, as it was called was not unnecessary for the economy. A time comes when you have to do a bit of stocktaking.

Certainly, as one involved in local government who has everyday knowledge of the value people get for money, I was rather perturbed at the poor value some builders were giving to individuals who were making great sacrifices to build their own houses. There is no doubt whatever that abuses occurred. At that time, two or three years ago, the sky was the limit. People seemed to think they could borrow anything and cared little as to how they could make the repayments. Grants were given by the Government and local authorities and very often, it seemed to me, were just added to the price of the House. I certainly could not see justification for the increased inflated prices that were charged for houses at that time. I found that when the credit squeeze came, there was a readjustment of the whole position, and I think it was for the better. The people who had houses built during the past 12 months got better value than people who had houses built for them during the two or three years previous. I do not suggest that all the builders were taking advantage of the situation I speak of, but I say some certainly were.

The credit squeeze was a political godsend to the Opposition Parties. They had something for which they could blame the Government, and for everything arising out of that, the Government were blamed. They were blamed for the scarcity of money. They were blamed when they sought money at home or abroad. When they got it, if they did get it, they were blamed for the price they paid for it. It was really an Opposition year in as much as everything was set fair for people who only wanted to blame the Government —which, it seems to me, by and large is what the Opposition in this House are mostly for. We had people complaining because incomes were increased and people who wanted them increased further. We had people complaining about the increased cost of living. They cried "Wolf" so often that I am afraid when the occasion really arises the people will take no notice of what they are saying. They overdid it. The people were intelligent enough to understand that, even though the medicine was sometimes distasteful, it was necessary for the welfare of the community and the economy. They remembered what had happened before in rather similar circumstances and were not prepared to have a repetition of it. Therefore, they took what was coming, and events have proved they understood very well why these measures had to be taken. Opposition speakers were naturally disappointed that the measures succeeded and that in spite of a good deal of misrepresentation and something I personally deplored, and something I do not think I had an opportunity of speaking about——

Not since you were on "Open House".

——attacks last November and December on individuals holding ministerial office who were attacked personally in the House by various speakers. I think that at that time a very low level was reached here, one that should be deplored and avoided for the future. However we may agree to differ about policies, surely the man in office doing the best he can should not be subject to attack either inside or outside this House? Whatever section agitate for some reasons or other— some of them justified; some not so much—they seem to be sure of the backing of certain members of the Opossition. It seems to me they are only causing unrest and very often causing these people to go further than they might if they had not got the backing of certain Members of this House and sometimes of certain Parties in the House.

As well as the credit squeeze last year, we had two other items which should have played into the hands of the Opposition Parties: the change of leadership in the Fianna Fáil Party and the Government and the two by-elections. In the first case, you had all sorts of charges made at the time about how the change of leadership took place. You had tremendous flights of imagination about knife-throwing and tomahawk-slinging within the Fianna Fáil Party. It seemed that nothing was barred and no accusation too outrageous to be made against members of the Fianna Fáil Party. The truth which has long since emerged, as it should from the beginning, was that this was just a democratic exercise. Maybe it was not so lucky for the Opposition Parties but without doubt the Fianna Fáil Party emerged from it stronger than they were before they went into the room to make their decision. In fact, it is generally recognised now that they were never stronger as a Party than they are at present.

The other matter is the two by-elections. They were held at a time which, to say the least, should not have suited the Government. There was unrest in the rural areas, the effects of the credit squeeze were still being felt and we had the various accusations levelled and all the charges made. Yet withal the two by-elections were held and the people proved something I have long held—that the Opposition Parties are inclined to underestimate their intelligence. There is not much use saying that Fianna Fáil have been fooling the people for 30 years, making promises ranging from draining the Shannon to building houses for Cork and Dublin. I do not think that can be sustained, because the people are not devoid of intelligence. The Irish people, by and large, take a tremendous interest in public affairs and they know what has happened. There is no greater indication of that than the results of the by-elections. The people refused to be stampeded and they voted for what they thought to be in the best interest of the country. Even though the medicine they were asked to take at that time and before it was distasteful, they realised it was for their own good.

In this House, and I suppose in every democratic assembly, the Opposition have tremendous advantages, inasmuch as they can be on both sides. They can seek more money, more help for agriculture, health, education and social services. They can do all that and then they can speak against the provisions necessary to pay for these services. They have been known to go into the lobbies and vote against the raising of the money. That does not escape the people who have to elect governments and who have to see that government is carried on.

A previous speaker this afternoon took that very line. He was talking about more relief for income tax payers, more relief for this person and that person, and still his party voted against the taxes necessary to raise the money. The Opposition can speak with their tongues in their cheeks. They say relief should be given everywhere, but there is no suggestion I have heard from them as to what section taxation can be imposed on in order to raise the money for these very desirable objectives which we would all like to see achieved.

When the Opposition speakers have referred to this year's Budget they have made two rather naive suggestions. One is that anything good in it was forced on the Government by public opinion. That would not hold at all for last year and the year before when there were very unpopular Budgets that would not have been forced on the Government by public opinion. It is illogical for the Opposition to say that because this is a fairly reasonable Budget, public opinion forced the Government to make it reasonable.

The second suggestion is that anything good in the Budget has been taken from the policy the Opposition advocated previously. We can all have policies. Policies do not mean much unless we have the opportunity of implementing them. I do not deny that some of the things that have been done by Fianna Fáil over the years have already been thought of by other people and other Parties. However, it is how you can afford to implement the policies that makes all the difference. The fact is that there never was and, I suppose, there never will be enough money available to do all the desirable things we would all like to see done in social services, health and all the other sections I mentioned before. There is a very distinct limit to the amount of money that is available.

I agree with the Opposition speaker who this afternoon criticised the manner in which the rates are levied. I believe it is an outmoded system which might have been all right 40 or 50 years ago, but today is iniquitous. Take the case of a man who is the father of an adult family. He is the ratepayer in the house, but he has sons who are earning more than himself and who do not have to pay the rates. I would hope the Minister would devise some more equitable system of raising this money. Maybe the local authorities could be relieved of the obligation to provide for certain services, but certainly something should be done about the levying of the rates with a view to giving relief to the people who have to pay them. The rates are increasing every year and the numbers who are paying them are decreasing.

The Minister should address himself to the problem of the shopkeeper or the householder who tries to improve his premises or his dwelling and whose valuation is raised because he does so. That is a negative policy. It is no encouragement to a person; it is the very opposite. It is that kind of man who should be encouraged with, if possible, a remission of his rates for a certain number of years. Travelling through towns and cities we find houses that are dilapidated and going to rack and ruin. The owner will say, with a certain amount of justification: "I am afraid to paint the front of the house because if I do, my valuation will be increased." That is something the Minister should see to. In these days, with so much talk about tourism and visitors, we would all like to see our countryside and our cities and towns looking bright and cheerful.

As a city dweller, while I welcome the relief given to the farming community and to the rural population, I should like to refute something which a Deputy said this afternoon and which I have heard him say so often: Nobody else suffers the poverty of the small farmer. That, of course, is not true. There is poverty in the cities, in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford that I do not think is paralleled anywhere else. The poverty one finds in a city in a family that finds it hard to keep body and soul together is certainly not less than it is anywhere else in the country.

In my time in this House I have found speaker after speaker appealing for more relief for agriculture, more relief for farmers. I can quite understand the necessity for that. I can quite understand the importance of the rural community and the farming community to the economy, but with guaranteed prices for their products, if the weather is bad and the crops fail, they will be given compensation. However, in the case of the shopkeeper or businessman, if a supermarket opens next door he is pushed out of business and there is no compensation, no Government claim can be made. Nobody thinks of him. If the trader is selling some commodity that is substituted and is out-of-date, he has to go out of business because he cannot make ends meet.

I say that because, naturally, this being an agricultural country, the bias is towards the poor man in the country, but believe me, there are poor people in the cities, and there are hard-working industrious shopkeepers in cities, towns and villages, throughout the country for whom there is no guarantee and no compensation if trade is bad and if the people around cannot buy their merchandise.

This year's Budget was generally welcomed. The Minister gave some help, maybe not so much as he would have liked, but certainly he helped agriculture, education, social welfare and health, and this is an indication of the Minister's desire to improve the lot of all sections of the community.

If I may strike a personal note, let me say I was very pleased at his interest in culture and especially the live theatre, as evinced in his Budget Statement. I was very pleased at that because, with so many facets of community life with which to deal, it was good of the Minister to remember that the live theatre was entering a difficult period because of competition from radio, television and the other means of communication. We should all of us be very jealous in safeguarding the live theatre. Ireland has a wonderful tradition in this regard; outside of whatever entertainment value it has, which is, to my mind, not by any means the most important aspect, the amateur theatre receives the time, attention and energy of thousands of our people and, by and large, benefits the whole community. Before many months have passed, I hope the Minister will be able to translate his good intention into concrete form.

The Budget is a good one and it is my opinion that the Opposition tactics have boomeranged. Not many months ago the cry was that the country was bust and the Government had not the price of a wheelbarrow. Now, a few months later, we are being attacked because the Government have not only more money to do more, but are doing more. I do not think it can be denied that most people feel the Budget is better than was anticipated. What has changed the situation so rapidly is, of course, good government.

I referred earlier to the intelligent interest people take in the way the Government is being run. The vote of confidence the people have passed in Fianna Fáil over the years, and especially in the last two by-elections, means that they are quite satisfied that they have a Government who can be trusted to take the necessary measures in good times and bad. Much is expected from the Minister for Finance. People generally feel that he is the right man for the job and they expect he will leave his mark on that office. That confidence will, I am certain, not be misplaced. I have every confidence that when he comes to present his Budget next year, he will have even greater benefits to distribute over all sections of the community.

Many Deputies on both sides of the House expressed surprise when the Leader of the Labour Party, Deputy Corish, in his after-the-Budget speech indicated that the Labour Party were prepared to vote for increased taxation and thereby support the Government in their Budget demands. Why there should be surprise I cannot understand because, as far back as ten years ago, the Labour Party speakers stated that, whenever the Government imposed taxation on luxury consumer goods in order to improve the position of the social welfare classes, the Labour Party would support the Government in that objective.

In the main, the money raised by the increase in the price of cigarettes and the pint will go to relieving the position of social welfare recipients. There is 5/- for old age pensioners, for widows and orphans, and so on; there is an extension of unemployment benefit from six months to 12 months. There is free electricity and free bus travel for old age pensioners. There are improvements in other fringe benefits for social welfare recipients. Because of that the Labour Party are redeeming the promise they made ten years ago, a promise they have repeated on every Budget in the interval. Why there should be any surprise is beyond me. My only regret is that the improvements given will not come into force at an earlier date. Perhaps it is not possible to implement them any sooner.

Nobody wants to decry what is good but it is both the right and the duty of an Opposition to criticise the way in which the money raised by taxation is spent. It is not the Government's money. It is the taxpayers' money. It is they who contribute the money and it is the duty of the Opposition to be critical of the way in which that money is spent. If they, in their ignorance or their wisdom, depending on how one looks at it, think the money could be put to better use, then they are entitled to criticise without being queried as to why they did not vote against the Government on the Financial Resolution.

Now, away back in January, 1966, we had the Minister for Health, with a blare of trumpets, through the medium of press conference, radio and television, announcing an improvement in the health services. He did not give the exact date on which these improvements would come, but it was generally expected they would come into force after the following August, that is, August of last year. A White Paper was issued, running into 36 closely written pages, giving the whole history of health and the projected improvements which would come into operation so soon as the money became available: free choice of doctor where such choice was possible; regulations clearly setting out entitlement to a medical card; allowances for rent, and various other things, so that married people could earn more and still be classified in the lower income group; married people with children would get special allowances.

All these improvements were projected. There would be assistance in obtaining drugs. Dispensary medicines would be available from chemists so that patients would no longer have to queue at dispensaries. All these things are eminently desirable. They are improvements in relation to which the Labour Party would vote for increased taxation in order to meet the bill. Unfortunately, the Minister for Finance, in a 28-page speech, devoted only two inches to Health. This is what he said:

The health services provision is up by almost £4½ million on the original figure for 1966-67, or by £2 million on the actual expenditure last year. This steep increase in the Exchequer bill for health services is due to two principal factors: the rapidly growing cost of staff and medicines and the departure from the former system under which the Exchequer and the health authorities shared the cost evenly. In fact the Exchequer is this year bearing 55 per cent of the cost.

That was the Minister's total contribution and the only indication of any improvement in health services; rates would be kept at the level of the year before last at a cost of £2 million.

If we had not had a change of Minister, I wonder would we now, instead of having an improvement in education this year, have rather an improvement in our health services, and, if so, I wonder which would be the more desirable. Nobody wants to decry in the slightest the free post-primary education scheme. I think it is a wonderful thing, a desirable thing and a necessary thing. However, sometimes when I think if I had the chance, I wonder whether I would give priority to health or education. I am speaking personally on this. The Labour Party have not discussed this with me nor I with them, but personally I have a feeling that adequate health services for the whole population are much more important from the point of view of urgency than the headlong rush into free post-primary education without ample provision being made and which is subject to a number of factors.

One of the factors is the question of whether the schools will accept. Will we, instead of having a universal post-primary education for all children, have two types of children, one the State aided and the other those who can afford a different type of school? It would be most unfortunate if that happened, and I trust it will not. Secondly, there is the question of whether the parents can continue their children at school beyond a certain age, whether they are in the financial position to do so. I know school fees are to be paid, that it is to be free, in other words. I know there will be free transport. However, there are other things to be considered. There is the loss of earnings. Very often young children just beyond 14 are needed to help out a widowed mother or perhaps an invalid father. I suggest that as well as the inducement of free education, free books and bus fares something should be done by means of either children's allowances or some type of payments that would be an inducement to the parents to endeavour to keep those children on at school a year or two longer than they normally would.

I read with amusement the Wright Report on the development of the Dublin area. What struck me about it was that in 20 years time there were to be attracted into this area, this greater Pale of Dublin, an increase in population of 240,000 people. I suggest that that can come from nowhere except the rural areas outside the Pale, the west of Ireland. All our grandiose schemes for the people of the West apparently will have to be discarded if that objective of having an increase in population of 240,000 people within the next 13 or 14 years is to be achieved. To my mind, that is reconstructing and re-enacting the Pale that was there in the bad days.

Industrial estates are a good thing. They are necessary. They are a way of attracting outside concerns. However, let us not forget that Dublin is not all Ireland, that there are other places throughout the country where industrial development should be encouraged and should, in my opinion, receive much more assistance than is being given at the present moment. I should like to refer to the industrial estate that has been established, or is about to be established, in my own native city of Waterford. While that is very welcome, it will certainly, in a limited way, do a certain amount of harm to the rural areas adjoining, Waterford country, Kilkenny and portion of Wexford. Nevertheless, if that is the modern way of increasing employment, I certainly would not attempt to say anything that would do it any harm. One of the points that was drawn to my attention was that in Great Britain there is an incentive to industrial employers of £2 per man per week for every increased worker he takes on in industrial work. This will apply to the areas that are more or less the west of Ireland of Great Britain such as Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Encouragement is given to employers who will set up industries in these areas.

In this Budget the only incentive offered is an increase from 40 per cent to 50 per cent in the initial allowance which applies to capital expenditure on new machinery and plant. Is it likely that British industrialists will be attracted to an industrial estate in Waterford or anywhere else when, if they go to Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales, they will receive an allowance of £2 per week for every added employee they can take on in the manufacturing industry? The Government should have offered something much more attractive if they are to attract into this country outside investors. For all the work they have done in the past, I give them credit; for all the work that will happen in the future, I say that if we, by some good luck, are accepted into full membership of the EEC, then and only then, I believe, will we see the industrial expansion that is being forecast in some of the publications with which we have been inundated over the past couple of weeks.

It is a strange thing, in connection with the industrial development plan in Waterford, that the first action of this House, by a majority vote, was to cut away the only railway link with Cork. I cannot go into detail on this in a Budget speech but surely the Parliamentary Secretary will find out for me if there is any truth in the statement that CIE are now leaving down the rails for a period of a year or two years because they have doubts as to whether they will interfere seriously with mining developments that are about to take place in the county by cutting the rail link with Waterford city and that with the further expansion of industry there, they are now considering leaving the track intact for a period of two years because of that and because of firstly, the danger and secondly, the cost of the freight services and the confusion that is arising where they are now attempting to deliver by road traffic the huge amount of goods that were normally carried on that railway line. That rumour has emanated from some source and I would like the Minister for Industry and Commerce or the Parliamentary Secretary to find out if there is any truth in the suggestion that the railway line is to be left intact for a period of one or two years. If that is so, all I can suggest is that some attempt should be made to keep it in a state of repair because nothing deteriorates as fast as something that is discarded and left under wind and weather for a long period.

In connection with the mining industry, I know of a project that has already decided, among many other things, there is no future in mining development in the county of Waterford because of the loss of the railway line. If it were only one mining industry we lost in the county, I feel that CIE were very misguided. Notwithstanding all the representations made by all parties represented in the Waterford city and county constituencies, they refused to accede to our request to delay the closing of the line for a further period until we saw what the future of the industrial estate now established in Waterford city was.

In connection with tax reliefs, I should like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that great disappointment is felt in the Labour Party that no increase in children's allowances, say, from the third child onwards, was given. That would be an inducement to people to keep their children at school as it would be a sort of subsistence allowance that could be paid while they continued at school rather than taken away and sent into some cheap underpaid employment. I should like to contrast this with the surtax relief for those with £3,500 upwards. Somebody went to the trouble of working out what that relief will mean and I understand that the figure is £2 13s per week. I would contrast that with the 5/- increase for old age pensioners, widows, unemployed, and so on. I would contrast that surtax relief of £2 13s per week with the 2/- per week relief per child under 11 years under the income tax code.

Practically all the workers of this country now pay income tax. In Everyman's Socialism, George Bernard Shaw said that the difference between a good Budget and a bad Budget is that if income tax is increased, it is a good Budget and that if income tax is reduced, it is a bad Budget. That statement was made at a time when the ordinary workingman was not subject to income tax. However, under PAYE, any single man earning £6 upwards is subject to income tax. An improvement of 2/- per week for the ordinary workingman vis-á-vis £2 10s for those who pay surtax seems a radical way of assessing and spending the allowances that come to the Minister through his Budget taxation and through the money that is saved.

I have no great knowledge of agriculture. I do not pretend to know any of the finer points of it. However, as a member of a county council, I have always been aware of the position in regard to rates on agricultural land. The relief given in this context in the Budget will cost in the neighbourhood of £1.6 million which, spread over 150,000 farmers, means an improvement per year of approximately £10 each or 4/- per week. The 1d on the gallon, for the same number of small farmers would bring in about 8/- a week. Therefore, the improvement in the lot of the small farmer will be approximately 12/- per week whereas the larger farmer will get proportionately more. Just consider the position of a man with 150 acres. Consider the position of some of the farmers we have been reading about in the past few days and compare it with that of the small farmer under this Budget.

I am all for improving the lot of the small farmer. Practically the whole of Munster does not suffer from the type of agricultural situation which exists in Clare, Galway and up into Donegal. The Labour Party have no desire to be critical of any money spent to help out these people whose lot must indeed be unhappy. However, as Deputy Healy has said, they are not the only group who suffer. There are poor people in Dublin city, in Cork, Limerick, Waterford and elsewhere and, if anything, their plight is even worse. At least a small farmer has the substance which he grows. In the cities, the unemployed, the widows, the old age pensoners and others find it much harder to live and receive a lot less.

The Government made a considerable advance in devoting £5 million to the farmers in this Budget. Whether or not that was done to solve a situation which exists or whether the step was genuinely necessary is something I do not know nor is it my job to go into it now. We in the Labour Party have no intention of opposing it and we welcome any effort that was made.

The Labour Party supported the taxes because we felt that, on the whole, they were going in rather the right way. We felt that some aspects of our national endeavour, such as health, should have been helped. Even a part improvement in health would have been very welcome. It is costly to bring our health services up to the standard of those in most European countries, certainly up to the standard of those in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. I realise that such a step would cost a considerable amount of money but I should have been glad to see even a piecemeal improvement in our health services. Unfortunately, the forecast up to the time of the next Budget is that we shall see very little improvement in those services.

I do not think the Minister deserves all the congratulations Deputy Healy showered on him in the course of which he described him as the ideal Minister for Finance and said that the country can now look forward to a bright future with Deputy Haughey in charge of the Department of Finance. Deputy Healy should not forget the amount of money collected under the mini-Budget—£6 million extra—plus the five per cent wholesale tax which brought in another £5 million. Then there was the 7½ per cent tax on cars which no doubt goes into the Road Fund. There is always some method by which the Road Fund can be diverted to deserving Government causes.

The Labour Party will support any Government provided the people we represent receive their fair share of the national cake. We are not unmindful of the fact that this country is in the highest taxation bracket of the countries of Western Europe, which is wrong. Notwithstanding the fact that practically all our workers pay income tax, we feel that taxation should rest on the shoulders of those best able to bear it.

Deputy Healy said he was surprised the Opposition did not remark on the successful methods adopted by the Government last year in relation to the finances of the country. He said the people were given medicine last year which might have been somewhat bitter but that it was good for them. He also said that the credit squeeze had good points. It brought down the prices of houses. It closed down building. Contractors anxious to get a house going were prepared to take a lesser profit. Deputy Healy has his own line of argument. He is a very able Deputy. However, I would not agree with all he said on the success of the credit squeeze last year. It was a very serious matter to close down on housing. I cannot agree that it was a good thing to refuse money to county councils for housing purposes.

This Budget is a handout. It contains many small handouts for the greatest number in the hope that, on 28th June, the Government will get some more votes. From a vote-catching point of view, I suppose that, to a supporter of Fianna Fáil, this would appear to be a good Budget. One could point to the various trifles given out here and there by the Government. Would anybody who was thinking of the good of the country in general, apart from his own Party interests, have considered it a good Budget? Would such a person feel that the Government were facing up to the people's problems? The first of these I consider to be the problem of unemployment, which leads to emigration, and then there is the problem of housing and the flight from the land, which is a very serious problem and has been very serious for a number of years. In addition, the servicing of the National Debt in the past ten years has increased from £31 millions to £64 millions. It now takes £1¼ million a week to service the National Debt.

If they had produced results, there might be some justification for the increase and we would say: "You have obtained the results: you have more employment, more housing and you have services which you never dreamed of before and therefore it has been worth while paying the increased taxes." But what have we? Instead of having a great change in the general economy, we have now 7,000 more unemployed than we had this time last year. That was revealed recently in a report from the Statistics Office. We have 14,000 fewer in employment than we had five years ago and 50,000 fewer in employment than we had ten years ago. One would have felt that with the increase in the National Debt, with the greater expenditure each year, a much greater fillip would have been given to the economy. Instead, we have larger numbers unemployed than for many years and the people are faced with the prospect of having to meet the greatest tax bill they have ever had to meet.

The Minister said that in order to mitigate the adverse effects of prolonged unemployment, the maximum duration of unemployment benefit would be increased from six months to 12 months. I have no doubt that that will be welcomed by certain people but apparently the Minister is planning on the lines that we will have to live with unemployment because that is what this means. However, people drawing unemployment benefit are not the chronic unemployed; they are people who are temporarily out of work for one reason or another. Most of these people are not drawing unemployment benefit for the full six months; they may be drawing it for two or three months, but because the Minister thinks that we are going to have prolonged unemployment, he is making provision for it. That is not the proper outlook for any Minister for Finance or any Government to have. The outlook should be that they want to provide employment so that people will not have to emigrate.

The derating of agricultural land has been mentioned by other speakers, including Deputy Kyne. Already there has been four-fifths relief of rates for the person with a £20 valuation so that this only means a further relief of the last one-fifth. For a person who has a £20 valuation, this would amount to about £10 a year. There are many people with valuations of £2 or £3 up to £20 and I understand that the average relief would work out at about £3 17s 6d a year, or about £3 18s, which means that the actual average relief will be less than 1/6d a week. We all welcome the grants for farm buildings but there are many small farmers who cannot avail of these grants because they have not got the capital to pay for their share of the cost of the buildings. If loans were provided for these smaller farmers at reasonable rates so that they could avail of the farm building grants, we would be getting somewhere.

I hope that the increased price for pigs will result in greater numbers of pigs and also in greater employment being provided in the bacon factories. We welcome these small increases but we regret that there has not been an increase in the price of barley, a lot of which is imported during the year. My local committee of agriculture the members of which are predominantly Fianna Fáil—have been pressing the Minister to do this over the years. If the Minister had been prepared to bring back the section of the land reclamation scheme which covers annuities, we would be able to provide credit for those who need it and the reclaimed land would have paid for the annuities each year on the capital sum granted to them.

Any benefits this Budget confers on the farmers were forced from the Government by the NFA. We all know that last year when the NFA called off their rates campaign, the Minister, although he had promised them an allocation in order to relieve rates, afterwards produced no help in the Budget for the farmers, not one penny relief. We must therefore take it that it was the NFA campaign which forced the Government to do what they did for agriculture this year. I hope they will do more in the future. I wonder if certain Ministers in the Government, certain of the younger Ministers, want to prolong the crisis with the NFA over farming incomes. Everything has been very quiet, over the past few months, since the meeting with the Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture.

I do not think this arises on the Budget.

I think it does because it is very important at present. The Minister dealt with agriculture in his opening statement. There is a national crisis at present. After the prisoners were released, we were all very pleased. I understand that the NFA were to hold a meeting on Friday——

I cannot allow the Deputy to proceed in that fashion.

We felt that the decision of that meeting——

It does not arise on the Budget.

I think it does.

The Deputy may hold that view——

We had the Taoiseach appearing on television last night——

The Deputy may not argue with me.

I am not going to argue with the Chair; I am making a suggestion——

And I am ruling that is not relevant.

If you were in Kilkenny yesterday and saw the seizures taking place and saw the Army, you would say that this is the place——

The Deputy may think that but I am ruling otherwise.

I come from Kilkenny——

The Deputy must desist.

I am prepared to desist.

No. The Deputy is continuing that line of argument, notwithstanding my ruling.

I bow to your ruling.

I think it unfair that you should rule in that way.

That is all right.

I think it my duty to bring this matter before the House today on the first opportunity——

I will not allow that line of argument on the Budget.

I think it is most unfair. That is mostly what I stood up to speak on and I was going to invite——

I am asking the Deputy to proceed on another line because I cannot allow him to continue with that argument.

I think it is most unfair. May I not speak of the National Agricultural Council? That has been dealt with, has it not? The Minister devoted several pages in his opening statement to the NAC.

The Deputy may not get in what he wants to get in by a side door. If the Deputy insists on arguing with the Chair, I must ask him to resume his seat.

I am asking the Chair for my own information.

I am not going to tell the Deputy what he can discuss. I am telling him what he may not discuss.

I thought that the Chair would give me the right to discuss the formation of the Agricultural Council, as Deputy Fitzpatrick did.

I have told the Deputy he may not argue with the Chair and I have ruled that the line of argument on which he is proceeding is entirely irrelevant to the matter before the House.

Then I will come to old age pensions, one of the hand-outs in the Budget. Any old age pensioner will welcome the extra 5/- and other social benefits, as anyone would welcome an increase of 5/- a week, especially a person in that category. Last year the greatest fraud ever perpetrated was perpetrated in the Budget. All non-contributory old age pensioners were told they would get an extra 5/- a week from November. When the pension came to be paid, it was found that only about one in ten drawing the full pension got the extra money and even they did not get it from November but only from the date of application. They should have got it automatically as they had little or no means. This meant that nine-tenths of the old age pensioners got an increase of only 2/6d last year and 2/6d this year. That is the amount of the increase, despite the Fianna Fáil speeches about the wonderful Budget. Does that compensate for the increased cost of living when bread alone went up ten per cent a few weeks ago, and that is only one increase? Any service you want has been increased and the pensioners get an increase of 2/6d per year to meet that.

The Minister said that tax relief on the first £50 of interest on deposit accounts would be extended to the first £70. That will have a certain good effect and will mean that a person with a £2,000 deposit at a rate of, say, 3½ per cent—I do not know if that has been changed—will not be charged on the interest he draws. I am sure that will encourage more savings and more money for common purposes.

To keep that £2,000 in the bank, the owner may be denying himself many amenities he could otherwise enjoy, but when he reaches 70 or retires from work or business, this same £2,000 on which he was allowed interest free of income tax up to £70 is now charged on a notional figure of interest at £180. I think the calculation is five per cent on the first £400 and ten per cent after that. It turns out that the £2,000 he was encouraged to save now debars him from the old age pension. I ask the Minister to allow him to retain the £70 free of means test. If the Minister is not prepared to do that, let him at least charge only on the actual interest rather than on this notional £180.

The same applies to widows' pensions. Deputy Governey spoke last week about a widow who became 70. Up to that she had a widow's pension of 32/6d and then, due to the change in the means test, her pension was reduced to 12/6d. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to suggest that the Minister, when bringing in the Finance Act, would realise these hardships and remedy them.

We heard nothing in the Budget about housing but every member of a local authority is aware of the acute housing position, both in town and in country. Last year not one cottage was sanctioned. I cannot agree with the views expressed by Deputy Healy on that matter. The Minister for Local Government boasted that more money was provided for housing last year——

And spent.

——but that was because extra loans were coming in. This year every county council gave increased grants for roads. They knew that car tax had gone up 25 per cent and they felt that the money would come back to them from the Road Fund. The Government are collecting £11½ million in road taxation this year from the motorist but they are paying only £10 million back into the Road Fund, the remaining £1½ million going into the central services. That is unfair, particularly in view of the way in which rates have been increasing. All of this money should go into the Road Fund. Quite a lot of work could be done on county roads with that amount and rates would be relieved by at least so much. These roads are used extensively by farmers and others who drive tractors as well as cars on them. Their present condition is outrageous and farm machinery suffers as a result. The Government should have stopped this robbing of the Road Fund and made higher provision for road maintenance this year.

Industrialists and business people will be glad of the increase in depreciation allowance from 40 per cent to 50 per cent. However, the Minister should have allowed depreciation for the full amount during the first three, four or five years—50 per cent in the first year, 25 per cent of the full amount the second year and 25 per cent in the third year. A person could then write off the cost of machinery in three years and be enabled to get new machinery. This is necessary against the background of appeals being made to us to bring our establishments up to date. Just to show he did not forget the thing altogether, the Minister increased the depreciation amount to 50 per cent.

As far as I can see, Government policy leaves no room for hope for the smaller towns and cities. No new industries are being started in the country, the Government being inclined to single Dublin out and not to bother their heads about the rest of the country. In the circumstances, how can this be described as a good Budget? We are committed to prolonged and increasing unemployment, with 8,000 farmers leaving the land each year. The local elections will take place on 28th June.

They will provide the people with the strongest weapon democracy can produce, the ballot paper, to say what they think of the conduct of the Government and of this year's Budget.

At the outset I should like to say I agree with Deputy Mullen in his point about the treatment of the Board of Works employees and the question of their sick pay benefits. Since my election two years ago, I have been pressing this matter, particularly in relation to Board of Works employees in Dún Laoghaire. I know of two cases where men have been working for 37 years and 42 years respectively in the Board of Works in Dún Laoghaire. If either became ill, the position at the moment is that he would not have a penny in his pocket. This is a very poor commentary in this year of 1967 and I ask the Department of Finance as a matter of urgency to implement the sick pay benefit scheme and a pension scheme for these lower paid workers.

My information is that there may be a sick pay scheme on the books. If there is, please let it be implemented without delay. On the question of a pension scheme, these men are deserving of such a provision and I look forward in the near future to the introduction of a pension scheme in the Board of Works in Dún Laoghaire and throughout the country.

There is one other matter I should like to deal with briefly before discussing the Budget in general. It is the case of paraplegics and the like and the desirability of giving them taxation reliefs. I have raised quite a number of questions on this matter and the problem of taxation relief for motor cars for paraplegics. I wrote to the British Ministry of Health and received their reply, reference HAD 632/114, dated 7th February last. Under the National Health Service in Britain, there is a very good scheme for paraplegics who drive cars. There is no such scheme here or if there is it is a watered-down version of the real thing. It is the real thing I am looking for.

I shall quote briefly from this letter:

Persons eligible under the National Health Service for assistance with their personal transport are:

(1) double leg amputees with at least one amputation above the knee;

(2) those suffering from paraplegia or other defect of the locomotor system equivalent to the total or almost total loss of the use of both legs so that they are to all intents and purposes unable to walk; and

(3) those slightly less severely disabled with very limited walking ability who, because of their disability, need a vehicle to get to and from a place of employment.

The letter also states that under the National Health Service a disabled person may qualify for the supply of a single seater invalid tricycle or, as an alternative, for assistance towards the cost of converting a privately owned car to hand controls up to a maximum of £90, which includes any charges for collection and delivery. If a person buys a new car fitted with automatic transmission the Ministry pay £50 towards it as it is regarded as the equivalent of a clutch conversion. If hand controls are required in addition to automatic transmission, the Ministry can help with this but their assistance is limited to an overall maximum of £90.

This would seem to be a matter for the Estimate concerned, not for the Budget.

I appreciate that, but I wished to emphasise that we have not given any tax relief to persons suffering from this type of disability. There is a watered down form of relief but it is not satisfactory. The people I am thinking of are in gainful employment, living some distance from their employment and it is important that we give consideration to them. If they were not in gainful employment they would be a burden on the State. They recognise that and I think we should do likewise. I shall leave that matter and continue with my main contribution.

Opposition Deputies have been somewhat critical, particularly those in the urban districts, about the reliefs given to urban citizens. As a Deputy from such a constituency, I remind the critics of the benefits to those areas in this Budget. The constituency which I represent has a greater concentration of old folk than any other area in the country. The real old folk are those living unhappily on their own, those living in institutions. Such people received considerable benefits in this Budget. We must remember that social welfare, at £42½ million, has increased by 37 per cent in the past four years. Add to this the free travel allowance for our older citizens and the free electricity charges. This brings to mind a point which the Minister might answer when replying to the debate on the Budget. Will institutions who have older folk therein receive some discount on their electricity charges in relation to the old folk they look after? This is an important point and it would be of great help to those institutions if they received some allowance in relation to their electricity charges.

We must remind the Opposition that free travel allowance has been given to our older citizens. It is given to them by way of entitlement and not by way of charity. This is a duty we have to them and it must be recognised as such. Great play has been made of the fact that the benefits to our older citizens are not sufficient. We on this side of the House never said they were sufficient. Speaking for myself, I say they are not sufficient. I recognise that and I am sure the majority of the people opposite recognise that fact. It is the minimum but we have to take those things by degrees. Let us face it. The credit for what moneys they are getting this time must go directly to the Minister for Finance. Let us also recognise that we are seeking to do what we can for those people with the money available. There is only so much money available from taxation. The Minister recognises that and he must work within his limits.

Again, in the constituency I represent, favourable comment has been forthcoming from young parents with two, three and four children in relation to the increased allowances for children which they can receive under the income tax code, from £120 to £135 for children under the age of 11 years. Of course, there is also the unchanged allowance of £150 for children over 11 years of age. Free education is not mentioned by the Opposition. I should like to remind them that this free education is an all-Ireland scheme. It does not apply to rural Ireland only; it applies to urban areas too. It is not an exclusively urban scheme. It is important that we should make it clear that schools can opt into this free education scheme but equally important is the fact that parents can opt into this scheme for their children.

We can add to those benefits which urban people can receive the taxation allowance in relation to health costs of a minimum of £50 and a maximum of £300. This, to my mind, coming from an urban constituency, is a master stroke by the Minister for Finance. It is much appreciated by the urban dwellers I represent. As I have said before, if you have security from health worries you can face up to the other rather difficult matters you have to deal with from day to day, such as bills, house payments and so on. If you have security in health you have security in lots of things.

The thing I object to in relation to the urban Deputies who spoke against the Budget is the idea of playing one section off against the other, playing the small shopkeeper off against the middle income group. The crocodile tears of people with interests contrary to those interests which they appeal for are, in my view, a form of downright hypocrisy and dishonesty. I believe the idea of playing one section of the community off against another is a dangerous political exercise.

Having said all that, we have in the urban community I represent some lower paid workers about whom I have already spoken. We have such people particularly in the Dún Laoghaire part of the constituency. The housing problem in that part of the constituency is very acute. We have many cases there of people earning £10 or £12 a week with only two children. There are many such couples in Dún Laoghaire. As I say, they are earning up to £12 a week but they have to pay up to £4 10s for a flat. I have visited a number of them—not all of them—and the landlords have an awful lot on their consciences. Speculation has been described here as Rachmanism. Rachmanism was first known of in London where the landlords dealt with the unfortunate immigrants in a desperate manner. We have a number of those people in the constituency I represent. I say this, having visited a number of the tenants and looked at the conditions in which they live. You find ten, and, in some instances, 12 families living in one house. We should be looking to those people to ensure that they are properly treated.

This is equally true with regard to the speculators. The Minister for Local Government was the very first person who mentioned speculators in land. Here you have speculators in human beings, in people in poor conditions and so on. Those people are deserving of contempt. It is not pity they deserve for the treatment they mete out to their tenants. As I said, the Minister for Local Government was the first person to mention land speculators and it is to his credit that he did so. I hope he pursues them to the end I believe he will I have said this about the Minister before. He is a great Minister for Local Government.

Newly-weds in the middle income group who purchase their own houses will welcome the statement of the Minister in relation to land speculation. I know there are very many good building contractors but let us face this fact. Many of them cannot get the land they wish at the right price because of the land speculators the Minister for Local Government brought into the open. The purchase of a house is the main item in the budget of newly-weds. They are paying for those houses for 20, 30 and 35 years. When you add to that the rates and all the other charges which the middle-income urban dweller has to pay you will realise that he has reached saturation point from the point of view of taxation. Consequently, in this Budget, those people receive some concessions. I am sure the vast majority of people will not begrudge the extra penny on the pint or the twopence on cigarettes when they know that this will defray the cost of extra benefits to the aged, the ill and the less well off citizens. Of course, they will also know that some of this money which is required for free education must be found.

Agriculture was dealt with at some length in the Minister's speech. I frankly do not pretend to know very much about agriculture, coming from a non-farming constituency, but I believe as an urban Deputy. I am entitled to ask a number of questions, seek a number of answers and make a number of observations in relation to agriculture at the moment. I notice looking through a recent edition of the British Farmers' Journal that there are some 400,000 farmers in Britain. In some 20 years' time the prognostications, for want of a better word, or the forecasts are that there will be only 40,000 farmers in Britain. This will of course mean the consolidation of small farms into large farms and small herds of cattle into herds of thousands.

Do we envisage the same situation in this country? Do we envisage the situation they envisage in Britain in 20 years' time—small farms becoming ranches, small numbers of cattle becoming herds, and so on? The whole trend in European agriculture is in the direction of the consolidation of farms. I will not use the word "collectivisation" in Ireland. Collectivisation, as we all know, was the method used in post-Czarist Russia to get rid of the kulaks from the vast tracts of land they held. That is not to say that we have not a number of kulaks in Ireland. Do we envisage the consolidation of our farms? Do we want to maintain the present number of people on the land at all costs, financial and otherwise? The squalor of a lot of people existing in a number of small farms in Ireland according to Opposition Deputies is something awful. Do we want to increase farm production, and thus farm incomes? Our Constitution as directed to social policy states that we must keep as many people on the land as possible. We must have another look at that particular of our social policy in our Constitution.

These are questions to which we must find the answers in the near future if we are to face up to our European commitments. Coming from an urban constituency, I find it difficult to take the recent statements of certain members of the NFA, having regard to post-Budget statements. The President of the NFA said that this was not a farmers' Budget. We realise our commitments to the farming community and recognise that it is the biggest single factor in the community. An urban Deputy, when told that an extra £5 million in a Budget for farmers is not a farmers' Budget, finds it very difficult to understand.

We have a sufficient number of experts to find the answers to these questions. These are people whose opinions and plans we must respect. However, we must distinguish between the expert and the part-time expert, whose opinions do not matter anyway. The part-time expert I would define as a so-called liberal or pseudo-socialist who is prepared to talk about this or that subject but, when asked to pay for the practical application of his or her views, runs to ground. We find a lot of those part-time experts entrenched in our various publicity media, be it the press or television—and I do not mean any disrespect to the press corps in Dáil Éireann who are full-time professional journalists. I refer to the part-time expert. He can be defined as a person who has opinions on everything but, generally, his views are the original expressions of somebody else. The country is riddled with that kind of person.

Education is mentioned in the Budget at some length. The Minister says that for the development of Ireland's full potential there is no more fundamental or important investment than investment in education. The recent NIEC Report does not put a tooth in it when it states that the perpetuation of an educational system which is not geared to meeting the present and future needs of the Irish economy is a system which works against equality of opportunity in education and which through deficiencies in the curricula and examination system, offers our children a lower standard than elsewhere. I believe the system at present works against equality of opportunity through deficiencies in the curricula and the examination system. It is not such a long time since I was at school, and I will not say that I was altogether injured by the examination system. I know what young boys and girls leaving school today say about the curricula and the examination system. It must be revised. The NIEC in one of its reports makes a recommendation that the examination system should be replaced by transfer to an expert committee.

In recent times the vocational education committee in Dublin and committees of the local authorities had begun to move in relation to career guidance. They have been doing a very good job in this regard. I made a suggestion some time ago in relation to schools and career guidance. We are falling down considerably in relation to career guidance in the schools. I suggested, before the Department of Labour was set up, that a full-time career guidance service should be provided particularly for the sixth year classes. I would now suggest that this full-time career guidance school corps be established under the aegis of the Department of Labour. I would envisage a small corps of career guidance officers appointed on a full-time basis with the rank of school inspector. I was about to say "status" but I will say "rank"; I do not like the word "status". These people should be found in the ranks of the Civil Service and should be given the necessary training. I emphasise the ranks of the Civil Service because I do not want to suggest that they should come from outside the service. There are a number of civil servants who I am sure will be delighted to come under a corps of this nature.

At column 1287 of the Dáil Debates of 11th April, 1967, the Minister deals with culture and leisure. This is a great problem in urban constituencies. In 20 years' time with the increase in computerisation and technology people will have a considerable amount of time on their hands and leisure will be one of the greatest problems of the future. Some time ago I visited a group of young people between the ages of 18 and 21 and at this point I should like to refer back to the question of leisure. Some of the points of view put forward by these young people are tremendous. For instance, in relation to the Kennedy Memorial, they suggested that we should not have one as such. They suggested that we build houses out of the money collected for the Kennedy Memorial and let these houses be a memorial to Kennedy. This was a good idea. Others may suggest that this might be somewhat philistine.

I fear the Deputy is getting away from the debate on the Budget.

You have been very liberal in your interpretation of the rules of debate. Perhaps I may deal here with the question of poverty in the cities. We have been hearing a lot from the Opposition about poverty in rural areas.

Let me assure Deputy L'Estrange that we have the small shopkeeper in the city of Dublin, and the little man living on social welfare benefits in the city of Dublin. These people in the main, living on their own, have not the advantages of their country cousins. I do not want to play one section of the community against the other, but if we are discussing the poverty of the small farmer, we might think of the poverty of the small urban dweller. This has not been over-emphasised in the debate; Deputy Healy mentioned it.

The question of fishing was mentioned by the Minister for Finance. I like to hook a few trout myself. I am a member of that excellent body, the Inland Fisheries Trust, and I should like to pay a tribute to them for the marvellous work they are doing in the country in relation to fishing. Indeed, on the lake on which I sometimes fish —Lough Sheelin—they have got rid of a considerable number of pike and, for this, they are to be congratulated. But it is the question of fishing rights I want to deal with. The problem here in the country is that when you go, say, to Cork, you find the county of Cork completely under the control of a number of groups. This is thoroughly wrong; I think the whole question of fishing rights should be taken over by the State, in toto, and possibly given to an organisation as excellent, indeed, as the Inland Fisheries Trust.

I think the Deputy might raise it on the Estimate.

I thought I might just mention it; I know I can only discuss matters in a very general way.

I think Deputy Esmonde's speech could be summarised as a typical Fine Gael speech to this excellent Budget, praising the better provisions and negativing this praise by his voting against it, a speech couched in vague generalisation, condemning the Anglo-Irish Trade Agreement, for which he says he did not vote. I do not call Deputy Esmonde's contribution consistent but he asked me to reply to him. I merely mentioned it so that some Saturday morning he could have an opportunity of studying what I thought of his contribution.

Is he not as consistent as the people who said the British Market was gone and gone for ever and then signed this Free Trade Agreement?

Deputy L'Estrange, being a much older man than I, would know much more about that; I assume he is telling the truth.

The Deputy can look up the record. "We whipped John Bull left, right and centre, and we will whip him again!"

I shall not fall into the trap of arguing with the Deputy whom my friend, Deputy Dowling, calls "heckle and hide".

What shall we call Deputy Andrews?

The National Savings Committee was mentioned. Here again the tax benefits allowed in relation to savings are tremendous. I certainly welcome this allowance.

But there is just one more matter I should like to deal with: it is the general whine of the Opposition, accusing us of stealing their ideas, stealing their schemes and their plans. I should like to inform the Opposition that there are no patents on ideas and, if they feel so strongly about these matters, they should get into Government. But remember, gentlemen, ideas are not exclusive to you; there are no patents on ideas and, if we use ideas which come from that side of the House, or this side of the House, you can be sure the ideas are used for the benefit of the community and for no other reason. The Leader of the Opposition accused us over the weekend of plagiarism. How do we know the ideas are his? We are told; we are meant to accept what they say as gospel. We shall have time to deal with this more specifically on the Estimates.

To sum up, Sir, I think the moneys released by this Budget have gone to the lower income groups in the main. It could be defined in a sentence—a nimble 6d is better than a slow £. Finally, I should like to congratulate the Minister for Finance on his excellent Budget. I have always felt, and in fact always said, he would make an excellent Minister for Finance.

But not a Taoiseach !

He has shown how excellent a Minister for Finance he is in the production of this Budget. Another matter on which I should like to congratulate him is his recent television appearances. I believe members of the Government and politicians generally should get on television as often as they can. The Minister has distinguished himself in this way; he has told the people exactly what are the problems in relation to his Department. I believe this is a very important function, particularly in relation to the growth of television in recent years.

Would the Deputy inform us precisely what that has to do with the Budget?

I thought I might just get that in before I finished.

They carried a poster, "Charlie the Greatest", but they did not finish it.

It did not necessarily refer to Mr. Haughey. I shall take the opportunity of thanking you, Sir, for allowing me to range rather wide and far on this Budget.

On Budget day it is somewhat difficult for any of us who have to speak rather quickly after the Minister's opening statement. It is no secret to confess that on that particular day what we are concerned about —and this may not be entirely right— is what are the new taxes and what are the new concessions.

I have been listening here for quite a while to various Fianna Fáil Deputies, and for quite a long time to Deputy Andrews. He says this Budget demonstrates that the Minister for Finance is one of the best ever, and this was his big test. This sort of speech is typical of the Fianna Fáil speeches made over the past two weeks, because, it seems to me, their speeches are marked by an unreal and false optimism. It seems, as well, that they are reading into the Budget far more than what is actually in it. It is hailed as a good Budget. When one thinks in terms of taxation, when one thinks in terms of the concessions that have been made and spread very cleverly throughout the community, I suppose that description would be apt but I referred on the first day—this was my quick reaction—to the ease with which the Minister got his money and the aplomb with which he distributed it.

As a matter of fact, we had some conflicting comments on a particular aspect of this Budget from the Taoiseach and from the Minister for Finance, with regard to the £800,000 surplus on current account from last year. The Taoiseach admitted it was a mistake of under-estimation. It is a fairly bad estimate for one who is now Taoiseach, who was then Minister for Finance, because it represented 50 per cent under-estimation. Is this the type of estimation we are to get from the various Ministers for Finance? Are we to be quite sure that the Estimates for, say, revenue this year will not be under-estimations as well? Of course, the Minister for Finance, on the other hand, when talking about this surplus on current account last year of £800,000 described it as of important economic significance—this which the Taoiseach referred to as a mistake he had made last year when he was Minister for Finance.

The Minister for Finance went on to describe this happening of an extra £800,000 as being indicative of the marked success of Government policy. This is, of course, another false claim by the Government in respect of this £800,000 and again this year only another example of the repressive taxation which, with other things, did so much damage to the economy last year. The Minister says that with ordinary taxation in the year 1967-68, we will have a surplus of £1,300,000. He decides to put 1d on the bottle of beer and 2d on the packet of cigarettes and get £3,800,000. But this is peculiar. How it works I do not know. Perhaps some member of the Government will explain it to me. Last year, even though there was a surplus on current account to the extent of £800,000, there was no allowance for under-estimation—not a penny—but this year the Minister blandly says he will take into consideration £4 million under the heading of errors of estimation. I do not know where they get their figures. Why not £1 million, or £3 million? Why not £5 million or £10 million? Then they would have plenty of money to give around.

I do not want to say too much about the concessions which have been talked about in the past two weeks, but the Minister is bound to say, not why the penny was put on the pint, but if there is any good reason why the consumers of what could be described as the semi-luxury drinks, whiskey and other spirits, did not bear their portion of taxation in order to give these concessions. Everybody welcomes concessions. We have been pretty consistent in this Party, in accordance with our declared policy, in respect of certain concessions for the community. We said long ago that if money was raised and distributed to those people who we thought needed assistance, we would vote for the taxation. We did it this year; we did it for the past seven years, almost since Fianna Fáil came into office, that is, when we saw evidence that the money would be given to the people we thought were deserving.

The concession in respect of income tax allowances which will cost nothing this year, is welcome. If I may say a word in defence of Fine Gael with regard to the remarks Deputy Andrews made, when he talked about political ideas not being exclusive to anybody, he—or somebody in Fianna Fáil —must give credit to those on this side of the House who advocated that for quite a long time. Although the income tax allowances are welcome, I suggest that in terms of actual cash they do not mean a lot. I hope, however, that these concessions are indicative of the road the Minister proposes to travel in respect of the income tax code generally next year, the year after or for however long he may be in office.

The increase of 5/- in social welfare benefits, the increase in public service pensions, the aids to agriculture—these are all very welcome. We do not believe that the taxes imposed are going to do a tremendous amount of damage. The Minister had £7.8 million to distribute. Because of this and because he distributed this money in a particular direction, unfortunate people in the Fianna Fáil Party begin to believe this was a good Budget. The Minister's job was relatively easy. A Budget such as this is no criterion of the economy of the country in respect of many factors. It would be relatively easy for us to get the economy going, if this Budget did it. It would be a simple thing to put the country back on its feet. We could console ourselves by the knowledge that we could smoke and drink our way to prosperity.

These Budget concessions will not wipe out the hard facts of last year. It is not as if this Budget could more or less close the door on last year and open a new sheet this year. From what the Minister says, it does not appear to me as if the economic troubles we had last year will disappear in 1967-68. Of course, we reduced our balance of payments deficit. It was a bad year. People were unemployed, people had low incomes, people had to emigrate —but we reduced our balance of payments deficit. Every Minister for Finance seems to have a fanatical idea that we must reduce our balance of payments deficit. They believe that anything they do is justified so long as they achieve that end.

Last year we succeeded in reducing the deficit on our balance of payments from £42 million in 1965 to £16 million. My view and that of the Labour Party is that this was overdone. The Taoiseach referred to the question asked by Deputy Tully and myself: what is sacrosanct about a year? What is going to happen at the end of the year if we do not have a favourable balance of payments? Will the country close down? Is the economy going to go absolutely bust if we do not correct this in exactly 12 months? I think the Fianna Fáil Government were confused and panicky last year. They overdid the job in the measures they took. The Second Programme target as far as the balance of payments deficit was concerned was £25 million. While we did not achieve the objectives in practically all the Second Programme, we did achieve the objective in respect of the balance of payments deficit in the year 1966. Nobody cared. I should not say that, because those who were unemployed and who suffered as a result certainly did care.

The NIEC forecast for this year a balance of payments deficit of £23 million. What do the Government think about this? Are they still determined we will have no balance deficit whatever? What are they aiming at? Is it £10 million, £14 million, £15 million? Are they prepared so to gear the economy that we will arrive at the target at the end of the year of a deficit of £23 million? When one has regard to the forecast of the NIEC for this year and when one remembers the Second Programme targets as far as the balance of payments is concerned, all the evidence is that the steps taken last year to correct the situation were far too stringent. This was achieved by various methods—by restricting credit, which affected all sections of the community; by restricting the Capital Budget, which denied people homes and which reduced the number of people in the building trade; and by limiting hire purchase, which also had a restrictive effect on the economy. All these methods tended to slow down economic growth to such an extent that growth last year was less than one per cent—a sorry figure compared with what was forecast, hoped for and promised in the Second Programme.

Public capital expenditure, in the words of the Minister for Finance, was more or less the same in the past three or four years. This year there is to be an increase of something like £9 million, bringing it up to £108 million. This will not have a tremendous effect on the economy as far as employment is concerned. When one has regard to the change in money values, it will be readily seen that this nine per cent or ten per cent will not have an effect, especially when one remembers the steep rise in prices. The balance of payments position seems to be regarded by the Government as the yardstick of the economy. It certainly is an indication, and a very important indication, of the state of the economy, but again I think I should pose the question: what is sacrosanct about a year? The Government, either in ignorance or in panic, took these steps because, in my view, they had not the relevant information that would be a guideline to them or indicate what measures should be taken and to what degree these measures should be taken.

Last year the import excess fell from £148.2 million in January to £123.2 million in June. In our balance of payments problem, there was a fairly rapid improvement between the month of January, 1966, and the month of June 1966. As a matter of fact, as far as the information we got from the Department of Finance and the NIEC is concerned, £148.2 million import excess in January would represent something like £42 million as a deficit in the balance of payments, but in June, in accordance with the figure I have given, the estimated balance of payments deficit at that time would have been between £10 million and £15 million. Therefore, the economy was not too bad, if one is to measure it in terms of the balance of payments in the month of June. Yet it was again in the month of June that we had these further restrictive measures and these further taxes that slowed down the economy to almost a grinding stop. Therefore, let me say again, these measures were taken either in ignorance or in panic. The restriction in credit, restriction in public expenditure, and new taxes in respect of hire purchase, have resulted, for the benefit of the accountants and the economists —and the Minister for Finance is an economist and an accountant—in a favourable balance of payments, but look at the damage that was done.

In 1966, there was a rise in unemployment compared with 1955 from 5.6 per cent to 6.1 per cent. There were 7,000 fewer at work. There were 64,000 out of work. There were only an extra 1,000 new industrial jobs created. There was an increase of 5,000 in emigration. As I have said before, gross national product increased by a miserable one per cent or less. But, of course, we did reduce the balance of payments deficit, and we did increase our external assets by about £30 million. They were built up to the extent of an extra £30 million. Men were unemployed; men had to emigrate and people found it difficult to live, but the accountants and the economists were satisfied. If the Government's concern is for the volume of external assets, much more information must be made available to them by the banks and by the statisticians in order that, in a situation such as they believed they were in last June, they may be in a position to take the proper corrective measures, and not to panic and not to take such stringent measures as were taken in the second Budget of June last year.

Again, somebody should be able to answer this question, and I, unlike the Minister for Finance, am neither an economist nor an accountant: what is a safe level for our balance of payments in our present situation? What is a safe level for the volume of our external assets? What are favourable figures? There is no point in going down the country, or even around the city of Dublin, and telling men they must be unemployed because our external assets have gone down by £5 million, or because the balance of payments deficit was up last year by £5 million, £10 million or £15 million. In fairness to them and in fairness to the House, the Minister and his advisers, the economists in the Department of Finance and any other agency that can supply the information, should be able to tell us what is a safe level for the balance of payments deficit or what is a safe level for our external assets.

Once more I pose the question to him that the Taoiseach did not appear to understand too well: must they be corrected within a period of one year if they are in any way unfavourable? Must people suffer within one year in order that the Minister, the accountants and his various financial advisers, will have, by the end of the year, a favourable balance of payments and a favourable volume of external assets? I believe, and the Labour Party believe, that if there was an unfavourable balance of payments situation at the end of 1965, the measures to be taken should have been less stringent and applied over a longer period. If that method had been adopted, the results of Government action would not have been so severe or so hard on the people as they were. However, that is last year and I do not want to deal with last year for too long.

The Fianna Fáil Party and the Members of this House generally have talked about the tax impositions and concessions, but the most important thing about the Budget Statement is that it should be not so much a recitation of what happened last year and a factual account of what moneys are to be provided and expended for the present year, as a lead from the Minister for Finance to industry and to agriculture as to how the economy is to progress in the year 1967-68. I listened to the Minister's speech, and, as I say, I was somewhat preoccupied with certain things that were in it, but I read his speech twice afterwards. Can the Taoiseach and the other members of the Fianna Fáil Party honestly say that we can afford to be optimistic in the present year? I do not want to be a pessimist—the fewer workers in my constituency, the fewer voters I shall have—but we are told there will be more exports as a result of the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement but so far—and we did not expect much of it in the first year—it has been a damp squib. I will not say that the effect upon industrial employment has been too severe in the first year, but the signs are there, and it seems that in this Agreement we did not make a very good bargain. In regard to agriculture, I am sure the Minister, who was the then Minister for Agriculture, and the Taoiseach, and Deputy Lemass, would not like to reread the speeches they made in this House in the first week of January, 1966.

We are told there is to be an increase in cattle and beef exports. I refuse to believe that, while I hope there will be, for the sake of the farmers and for the sake of the country. How can we believe this from the Minister for Finance who made such rosy promises last year when the farmers, as far as cattle were concerned, had a disastrous year? We are told there will be an increase in tourism and I suppose this is a pretty real prospect but, as I said in the initial comments I made on the Budget, as against those things which favour progress in the economy, we have, as stated by the Department of Finance, a depressed demand in Great Britain due to the standstill in incomes and, as far as the EEC countries are concerned, a slowing down in demand. One seems to cancel out the other. From the Minister's speech, there is no indication that the situation this year will be much of an improvement on the very bad year of 1966. Therefore, as far as balancing the current Budget is concerned, it is not the complete picture.

This has been said and, I suppose, it can be repeated, that the real prospect for the economy is more production in industry and more jobs in industry. I will admit there has been a pretty steady increase in industrial employment in recent years, but it is still not enough. Production rose last year by only 2½ per cent as against 3¾ per cent in 1965. It is encouraging also to note from the report of the Department of Finance that exports of industrial products went up last year by 17½ per cent, from £81½ million to £95½ million. We tend, I think, to exaggerate or, should I say, take for granted, the progress made in industry, in the matter of production and in the creation of jobs. It is not nearly good enough, I think, and it is certainly not in accordance with the forecasts, because that is what they were, or the goals set, in the Second Programme for Economic Expansion. It appears to me that unless there is evidence to the contrary, as far as the industrial drive is concerned, and there was an industrial drive four or five years ago, the Government have lost their drive. There does not seem to be the same enthusiasm, the same hope and the same optimism on the Government Front Bench as there was four or five years ago.

They are getting the Garda and the Army to do the driving now.

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.

(South Tipperary): This is, I suppose, to be regarded as a relatively uncontroversial Budget and I am sure the Minister for Finance felt relatively happy introducing it. He was compelled to introduce merely two taxes, one on stout and the other on cigarettes—two taxes to which the community are well accustomed and to which they do not usually very strongly object. From those taxes he was in a position to give out some moneys in various directions.

None of us begrudges the Minister the relatively happy circumstances in which he found himself. He has been long enough going through the critical stage in his career, at the receiving end of public criticism, that none of us begrudges him at this stage a relatively easy Budget, his first Budget.

Deputy Dowling was very critical of the Fine Gael attitude to the Budget, implying, it seems, that by voting against certain of the Financial Resolutions, we were voting against everything in the Budget. That is very naive. One can vote against a Budget for several reasons. One can vote against the method of taxation, which is what we did. One can vote against the Budget if one disagrees with the method of distributing the money. One can vote against it for the things that have been omitted, for the sins of omission. One can vote against the general policy, or lack of policy, of the Budget, but to say that because one votes against certain Financial Resolutions, one is opposing all the provisions given in the Budget is not fair criticism. None of us looks a gift horse in the mouth and there are a few little gift horses in the Budget.

The Minister was in the happy circumstance by virtue of the fact— we should not forget this—that we had two Budgets last year and he found himself in a relatively satisfactory position. After all, on 9th March last year, the first Budget was introduced and taxes were put on beer, spirits, tobacco and petrol and on 15th June, further taxes were put on tobacco and beer. On 21st October, a selective wholesale tax of ten per cent was introduced and there was a 25 per cent increase in car taxation. It was that increased taxation, plus increases in wages and salaries, which gave us what we call buoyancy in revenue and enabled the Minister to produce a Budget at this stage which is probably more palatable than any Budget he will ever be able to introduce in his lifetime again.

Before I say anything further, I want to say this by way of criticism of one of the omissions—I know there can be a lot of omissions from every Budget—mentioned here at Question Time by Deputy Esmonde, that is, the turnover tax on amateur theatrical performances. I regret there has been no relief introduced in this Budget for this because it seems hard to reconcile its absence with the amount of subsidy we are presently giving to the Abbey Theatre. When that figure comes to the notice of the public, everybody will be rather surprised because it will be a rather staggering figure. Therefore, I would plead with the Minister to keep this question of amateur theatrical performances in mind because he may be in a position in a future Budget to consider removing the turnover tax from such performances, whether by legislation or otherwise.

Housing has been mentioned by many Deputies. This is a matter which, of course, affects every Deputy very closely because it affects every Deputy's constituency. One can see nothing in this Budget which will help housing and employment. I mention housing and employment together because housebuilding is one of the biggest employment means there is in this country or in any other country. Building and construction for 1966 is down by five per cent. The sale of cement is down also. Employment in the building industry is down. The last OECD Report showed that this country, with the exception of Turkey and Portugal, had the largest number of houses to build per thousand of the population than any other country in Europe. Those of us who have looked at the evening papers will have seen that there seem to be further restrictions threatened as regards house loans which again will make our position more difficult in the coming year. I think it was Deputy Corish who mentioned that employment in the building industry fell for the first time in eight years from 75,000 to 73,000 between 1965 and 1966.

As regards employment in general, of all the targets in the Second Programme for Economic Expansion, this has been the worst. We are rewriting the Second Programme for Economic Expansion. The target for employment has been far and away the worst. Despite this, we have seen fit to publish a new booklet on full employment. The drift from the land, which was 14,000 in 1965, is estimated to be 18,000 for 1966. Sufficient new jobs in industry have not been provided to compensate for this drift. According to the figures given, if we are to get full employment by 1980, we will have to produce 11,000 new jobs per year. It is very hard to reconcile that target with the position which has obtained in regard to the building of new houses up to the present. Deputy Crotty mentioned that there are 50,000 fewer jobs now than there were a decade ago.

One of the Government-produced booklets, "Review of 1966 and Outlook for 1967: incorporating Economic Statistics," shows that— according to Table 9—the total labour force in 1961, when I first came into this House, was 1,108,000 and in 1966, it is 1,106,000. In other words, that is a static labour force. I cannot see how we are going to secure 11,000 new jobs per year in order to get full employment by 1980. I do not believe it can be achieved. I feel we will continue the same unfortunate position as has been forced on us since this State was founded, that is, one of the few countries in the world which has endeavoured to maintain a certain standard of living by the escape channel of emigration. We are probably the only white race in the world with a static population, allowing for the fact that there may be some slight increase in the last census. I suppose it is true to say that we have in fact a static population and, indeed, up to recently, we had a declining population.

I suppose I am permitted to mention my own constituency. In that constituency we had a county council meeting to deal with the new plans that have been drawn up for the rural part of the county. There have been elaborate, grandiose plans, with a champagne taste and a beer pocket. I always feel that somehow Fianna Fáil are terrified of housing. Ever since 1958, when the inter-Party Government faced an economic crisis, plus a housing crisis, Fianna Fáil seem to have developed a complex about housing. I could not tell you what the import content of house building is, but I think that Fianna Fáil are probably afraid of the salary and wage content and the labour content. They have a complex about house building, regarding it as a social rather than a productive investment. On that basis, they are extremely reluctant to invest above the very minimum. I put down a Parliamentary Question to ask the Minister for Local Government the number of new houses constructed with State aid in 1965-66. Houses constructed with State aid in our society cover nearly all houses. There are very few for which State aid is not got. His reply was that the number of new houses constructed with state aid during the calendar years 1965 and 1966 was 11,392 and 9,820 respectively. In other words, there has been quite a considerable falling off in the number of new houses constructed with State aid. There was a decrease last year as compared with 1965 but 1965 was the beginning, the crisis year. The impact might not be immediate but we certainly felt it in 1966. If that position continues this year, many members of local authorities on the far side of the House, as well as on this side, will have headaches from their constituents knocking on their doors during the next 12 months.

Naturally I was pleased with whatever help the Minister could give the West with regard to tourism. This is the poorest part of our country and nobody will grudge the West getting as much help as can be got in our limited tourist season. Of course, being a Deputy from Tipperary, I would like to see tourist concessions given in my county. So far, we have not succeeded, nor have other counties succeeded, in getting very much in that regard, towards roads or otherwise. That is Government policy and all we can do is hope that perhaps a more generous attitude will prevail in the future. Tipperary, though not a coast county, has many tourist attractions, and not only the Rock of Cashel. There are several other areas of tourist attraction, which the Government and Bord Fáilte could explore with regard to tourist potential.

I should like to make a suggestion to the Minister. On the question of tourism, one always hears criticism about our hotels overcharging and that we are likely to damage the tourist industry by overcharging, particularly in our more elaborate hotels. We should try to have more of the cheaper hotels to cater for the average tourist. I wonder has the Minister ever considered giving a special rate of exchange to tourists? This is not new; other countries have adopted it.

Tourists have other forms of activity. I was once a post-graduate student at a German university and there, in common with tourists visiting Germany at that time, the students were given double the ordinary rate of exchange. We were given double the number of deutschmarks to the £, double the ordinary commercial rate allowed. We were not allowed to take anything out of the country by way of capital goods. In effect, of course, most of us took out such things as cameras, attaché cases and things like that. We had no difficulty with the customs but there would be difficulties here, particularly with regard to the sterling area and the United Kingdom.

Could some such scheme not be formulated with regard to the dollar area? Could some such scheme not be formulated probably with regard to the European area? I realise that when the time comes to enter the EEC, any special concessions like that would probably have to be set aside in the interests of fair competition, but until that time arrives, I would ask the Minister for Finance to examine such a possibility. Any reduction in exchange rates he might allow tourists, American or continental, would be a matter for the Minister and the Government. I believe some modification of exchange rates might be possible, might be considered and might be of great help to tourists. After all, it would not be so easy to apply any kind of customs concession.

We would all like to see tourists coming here. If they drank a bottle of Irish whiskey and paid only one-half the customs duty on it, it would be better having them drink it at that rate than not drinking it at all. Apart from the special area at Shannon, this would be very difficult to operate from the point of view of administration. I would have thought that a special exchange rate for tourists might be something well worth examining from the national point of view. Perhaps the Minister would be kind enough to give us his comments when he is replying.

I am pleased with the new concessions given in the field of education, both as regards post-primary education and free transport. While the Minister will not have to face a full bill in this year, he will have to pay an estimated £4 to £5 million. I do not know how hard and fast one can quote that amount but it is not an inconsiderable figure. My opinion is that it will be something higher.

We all have received a copy of the booklet "Report of the Commission on Higher Education". The Minister who announced these post-primary education grants and free transport, and who now appears to be the political Cassius Clay of the Fianna Fáil Party, has recently announced that he is considering—and the Government have agreed in principle— the amalgamation of Trinity College and University College, Dublin. I have certain views on that which I advocated in this House some three years ago. I quote from volume 210, column 266, of the Dáil Debates:

I have often wondered why no Minister appears to have examined the question of two universities in this city. In each of the cities of London, Oxford, Cambridge, Cardiff, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, there is one university. Yet we have two universities in Dublin. I do not know of any other city of comparable size which has two universities. Surely economies could be effected and greater efficiency achieved if there were closer liaison or integration between the two establishments in this city?

I recognise that the existence of two universities here is an historical hangover, a hangover largely based upon religious and political problems of days gone by. The same political and religious differences which have caused a partition in our university educational system in Dublin have caused the geographical partition of our country. The religious differences are none of my business. They are matters for the ecclesiastical authorities to resolve in the spirit of the Ecumenical Council initiated by the late Pope John.

In the secular field, some efforts in the interests of efficiency and economy, should be made to secure a closer integration of the two great universities in this city. I believe there will be difficulties in regard to vested interests which have grown up there, just as they have grown up around the Border. However, if we in the secular field have so far, in a good measure, failed to break down the education partition in our capital city, what hope have we of breaking down the Partition between the Six and the Twenty-Six Counties? This is a problem to which the Minister and the Government might address themselves and let the world see that we can secure in our capital city and at university level a degree of federation, integration, call it what you will. If we are able to do that at university level, it will be a good omen for the future in regard to what we may be able to do ultimately in the field of Partition.

I do not think the question of university integration arises relevantly on the Budget debate; it would be a matter for the Estimate.

(South Tipperary): Yes: I am dealing with it not so much as a Vote on Education. I wish to make one comment upon it, as a matter of policy, because it would appear from the announcements made that the Government have accepted, perhaps tentatively, in principle, the integration of two colleges here. The position arises, as a matter of policy, whether this is the correct course to adopt. My views—I do not know what the views of the Fine Gael Party may be—are that this would be a wrong departure. If we leave Galway and Cork out of any such amalgamation and allow them to be established as autonomous universities, then it would be very hard for such universities to preserve a standard comparable with what will obtain here.

The Deputy will get a more relevant opportunity to discuss the question of university integration. It does not relevantly arise on the Budget proposals.

It is an easy way of making a speech.

Deputy Hogan has been speaking here for the past three-quarters of an hour; when will we hear from Deputy Fanning?

You heard a week ago; we did not hear from Deputy Byrne.

You will, in a few minutes.

(South Tipperary): As this matter is of extreme topical interest at the moment, affects our entire economic policy, and has surely more relevance to Budget matters than Taca and things like that, I do not see anything inappropriate in discussing it.

The matter does not relevantly arise on the Financial Resolution, on which the debate is confined to taxation and financial policy.

(South Tipperary): In so far as we have devoted, and are devoting, in this Budget for 1967-68, £3,792,600 for our Universities and Colleges—an increase of £341,000 on last year's Estimate, according to the Budget speech of the Minister—while the integration of the two colleges is desirable and will effect economies, it will not achieve the proper result if it means that the other colleges are not finally integrated in the scheme, and that what economies we hope to effect—and they will not be as great as the Minister for Education suggested—will be offset by the disadvantages which will follow, if the smaller universities are not included in the scheme. That was the point I was trying to bring out and I think it is not too irrelevant to the Budget even at this stage.

The matter is totally irrelevant.

(South Tipperary): Social welfare concessions, though small, are welcome. I have always felt our social welfare code here presents the same monotonous picture year after year. Our social welfare concessions are probably some of the lowest in Europe. I do not see anything in this Budget which will bring our social welfare code into harmony with the practice obtaining in most of the OECD countries. In fact, it is just a repetition of what we saw last year, with a few little bits and pieces added.

I agree with other speakers on this side of the House that this 5/- increase to old age pensioners on 1st August is unfair. In effect, they are getting only 2/6 for the entire but it looks good, of course, to put down 5/- in the evening newspapers. If I were a Minister for Finance, I would much prefer—instead of giving the 5/- on 1st August—to say: "Here is 2/6 for the entire year". We would then know where we stood. It is that type of budgeting ahead which has caused economic difficulties in the past. It is easy to introduce a Budget here when you are budgeting ahead for only half the year, but the public are likely to forget that there is another year in which the entire increase has to be borne. You are not living up to realities by budgeting ahead like that for half a year.

Apart from being unfair to the recipients and misguiding them, you are being a little unfair to your own fiscal methods. I remember going into a Jewish house on one occasion and seeing a placard in front of me which read: "Pay as you go; no pay, no go". I would recommend to the Minister for Finance, that in future when he is making out a Budget, when he is taking money for social welfare classes, he adopt that little precept: "pay as you go; no pay, no go", and provide in his Budget for the increase for the entire year no matter how much that may be. Instead of providing 5/- for the entire year, if he provided 2/6d in two parts for the entire year, it would cost the same. It would be a better method of adjusting his Budget than leaving the entire burden to fall in the next year.

The Minister is making some fundamental adjustments in the method of financing the social welfare increases in this Budget. For a number of years the State has been paying 39 per cent —the Minister said 40 per cent—of the social welfare benefits. We should not lose sight of the fact that the apparent hand-outs he has given in this Budget are not all coming from the Exchequer. An as yet unspecified amount will be coming from the employer and the employee. He has stated, as far as I can interpret his speech, that the traditional 39 per cent or 40 per cent contributed by the State to social insurance is being reduced and that they are endeavouring to get back to the more accepted 30 per cent. That will mean that an increased burden will fall on either the employer or employee, or both.

There is another aspect to it. In so far as the State pays the entire amount of social assistance, he has now extended the period of benefit from six months to 12 months and that means the State is likely to be saved some expense on social assistance during the period six months to 12 months, which heretofore would have to be met by the Exchequer. I should like the Minister to clairfy this point for me. Although I buy these stamps myself, I am not clear on this point. I have a feeling that, while the benefits from these insurance stamps come into operation from 1st January, the increased stamp prices have applied earlier in the past couple of years than heretofore.

At one time the price was increased on 1st January and the benefits came in from that date. Then the price of the stamps went up in December and the benefits still came in on 1st January. Perhaps some other Deputies may be more familiar with it than I am, but I have a notion there has been one pulled on us here. The price of stamps is being raised in the earlier part of the year but the benefits do not accrue until 1st January. I am not absolutely clear about that point but I seem to recall it from my own memory of buying these stamps. If that is done, the Minister is again being very slick, quietly getting in a little extra money without making too much noise about it and making a lot of noise about the benefits he is giving out.

Naturally, I join with every Deputy in condemning the type of increase given to old age pensioners last year based on no means. This increase of 5/- was given last year, but they had to have practically no means whatever. Only a small percentage of the total got it, but it has caused more annoyance and misrepresentation than probably any other thing ever introduced in the social welfare code. Every Deputy has been inundated with letters from outraged old age pensioners who thought they were being unfairly treated. It has taken considerable writing on many occasions to try to explain why in fact they were not entitled to any increase.

As a criticism of the Budget, I must advert in general to the question of transport costs. I do this, not from the amenity point of view but because distribution costs are an important factor in the economy of any country. We find in the explanatory table of the Current Budget that the Minister got in motor vehicle duties amounting to £11.5 million and distributed to the Road Fund £10 million. There is always opposition in this Parliament by every group in Opposition whenever a Government raid the Road Fund. In 1958, when Deputy Sweetman, the then Minister for Finance, took £500,000 out of the Road Fund, the gentlemen on the far side of the House kicked up a terrible shindy. Now there seems to be a figure of £1.5 million and we are entitled to kick up a bit of a shindy, too.

I have never understood why there is this penchant for raiding the Road Fund. This Government, every Government, and increasingly so, get a tremendous amount of money from the motoring public. I have not got the full figures here because there are other sources of income besides motor vehicle duties. Every time a garda goes down town and puts his little label on your car for putting it some place you thought you could put it, there is a fine of £1. That is bringing in a tidy sum. There are fees for driving licences; there are court fines. These all must be added to what you pay at your local county council office.

Then we have the taxes on petrol, either excise duty or customs. We also have taxes on other road fuels. I put down a question for the year 1966-67 to ask the Minister if he would show the total amount collected in excise and customs duties on petrol and road transport fuels and the total amount collected in customs duties on the import of transport vehicles, cars, lorries, vans, and the parts therefor. The excise and customs duties on petrol were to bring in £24,703,000 and on other road transport fuels £4,737,000. Customs duties, including special import levy, on motor vehicles, parts and accessories were £5,337,000, plus £11.5 million from local authorities and bits and pieces such as the items I have mentioned, £45 million to £50 million.

Would the Deputy like to state how much of that goes back to the Government?

(South Tipperary): I am talking about how much is going back to the local authorities. The Deputy is a member of a local authority——

(South Tipperary):——and he has lots of bad roads in his part of the county, as I have in mine.

Very few.

(South Tipperary): He should be striving to get as much money as possible to repair them.

We have good roads.

(South Tipperary): I am criticising the Government that, having this very generous income from the motoring public, they must grab— and I use the word “grab” advisedly —£1.5 million from the Road Fund. The motoring public have been very generous, and from a national economy viewpoint, from the point of view of the cost of living, from the point of view of distribution costs and from the point of view of our exports, it is questionable policy further to increase taxes on motor users, whether they be private motorists or lorry owners. With this increase in income from petrol duties and increased customs duties for motor parts coming in, the Government should have shown a little more vision.

The Deputy will appreciate the significance of what I am saying when I quote figures from the Six Counties and compare them with ours. In view of the fact that we have a small population, a small home market, our standard of living is very much dependent on exports, unlike the position of other countries like America. It is distressing to find that in Northern Ireland, with half our population, the year before last per capita exports were four times ours. Recently in a reply to a Parliamentary Question by me, it was stated that in 1965 and 1966 the value of total exports per head of the population in our State was £76.9 and £84.5 respectively. For Northern Ireland, the published figures of total exports for 1965, the latest figures available, showed a per capita level of £312.4.

These are distressing figures from our point of view here, and I bring them forward in the context of the high cost of distribution here. The high cost of motoring and distribution is a big element in unit cost production. It is a point the Minister mentioned, our unit cost production and our poor position vis-à-vis Great Britain. That is nothing new. It has worsened considerably over different years, for instance, 1962 and 1964. Our unit costs are not good, and we are not competitive. However, it is pointless to give the impression that it is all due to salaries and wages. When the cost of transport and distribution is being pushed up and the Government take in so much of the motoring public's money, it is bound to be reflected in export difficulties. It is one of the factors, and the Deputy from North Tipperary should recognise that.

Why does the Deputy not speak on the Budget?

(South Tipperary): I do not know whether the Deputy is making a speech: I am at least trying to do so. I should like to draw the Minister's attention to a little table that appears annually, headed “Aids to Agriculture”. This table sets out £50 million, £55 million or £60 million as being the amount allocated to agriculture under this heading. I should like to know how much of that money finds its way into the pockets of the individual farmers. I asked the Minister by means of a Parliamentary Question the other day if he would, if only to show a little broadmindedness, in future Budgets introduce a similar table, equally well tabulated, to show the aids to industry. Nothing could be fairer than that. I do not know about the present year, but it will be found that up to this year the aids to industry have been somewhat greater than the aids to agriculture. Expensive advertisements which appeared in the daily newspapers showed that tremendous help had been given to the farmers, as if the farmers were the only people who were not pulling their weight and an indulgent Government were pouring out gifts upon them, and upon nobody else.

The fact is that industry has been amply helped because of the importance of manufacturing industry from the point of view of providing increased employment. There is no possibility of increasing employment in agriculture. The pattern is the same the world over. Agricultural employment is lessening in content in every agricultural country. It is only fair then that the Minister should give full details of the aids to industry in the same way as he sees fit to give full details of the aids to agriculture. Fianna Fáil tell us, even on television that there are more farmers in Fianna Fáil than in any other Party.

That is right.

(South Tipperary): I would appeal to the Deputy to whisper in the Minister's ear and ask him to incorporate these little tables with regard to industry in all future Budgets.


Deputy Hogan is in possession and these interruptions are out of order. Deputy Fanning has already spoken and he should now allow Deputy Hogan to speak.

(South Tipperary): The figures I am giving are the figures published by the Central Statistics Office. They are contained in official documents. I take it they are correct. Deputy Fanning can examine these figures for himself. The figures point the extreme importance of agriculture and the complete justification for giving help to agriculture.

I do not know whether urban Deputies and townspeople realise how important agriculture is from the point of view of our balance of payments. Agricultural exports are the most important of all our exports. We did have an import excess, but last year fortunately, that position improved. In 1965 it was £160 million, the highest ever. Last year it was down to £130 million. That happy position resulted from static imports and an increase in exports. Exports were the highest ever. Of a total figure of £243 million exports agriculture contributed £122 million and industry £95 million. Imports for reprocessing in the agricultural sphere amounted to £15.2 million whereas, on the industrial side, imports for further production amounted to £104 million. Those figure appear in this economic review.

It does not need any comment of mine to point the extreme importance of our agricultural industry from the point of view of our balance of payments position. Were it not for the fact that we are confined to one export market, the traditional one, our position would be much happier. Since 1932 or 1933, Britain has pursued a policy of cheap food for her people. We have suffered as a consequence because we export to a market over which our farmers have no control. The public generally fail to appreciate why aids are given to agriculture. These aids are not because of any fault on the part of the Irish farmer; they are necessary because the Irish farmer has to export into a market in which the prices of his commodities are deliberately depressed by Government policy. It is that very policy which is making it difficult now for Britain to enter the Common Market.

While one welcomes the concessions given to farmers in this Budget, this, to my mind, is one of its weakest parts. I thought there would have been a little more vision in the Minister's approach, as a man who had been Minister for Agriculture. We hear no reference to a meat marketing board. As far as I can gather, the Government have adopted the notion that it should be a meat promotion board. What the difference is I am not quite sure but apparently a meat promotion board is something less. The Minister, as Minister for Agriculture, mentioned in this House that he had a small farms plan. There is nothing in the Budget about a small farms plan.

The small farmers have got too much according to the large farmers.

(South Tipperary): According to the Deputy perhaps.

(South Tipperary): I would like to see some practical steps by the Minister to avoid, for example, what happened last year. Last year, and indeed it is the pattern of our cattle exports in this country, in the autumn we had a bottleneck. I suppose it will happen to a certain extent next autumn as well. Under the heifer scheme, which has been a dubious proposition, we produced suddenly too many cattle. We struck a bad winter and we had not the means of producing fodder. So far there is nothing in this Budget to suggest a solution to that problem. To my mind, as long as the present situation exists and we are likely to be faced every autumn with a bottleneck of cattle, then our farming community must do two things. They must endeavour firstly, to produce quality cattle rather than a rush to big numbers and secondly, they must try to sell more of their cattle in the spring.

That will be an awful job for the Deputy. How is he going to produce these cattle?

(South Tipperary): It will be an awful job too for Deputy Fanning.

I would also like to see in the Budget some effort to cut down our fairly substantial import bill for feeding stuffs. There is a substantial import of feedingstuffs and it has been the same for a number of years. There is nothing in this Budget to change this. One feels something should be done to promote the production of an increased amount of feeding stuffs here. For a Minister who is described as an accountant and an economist, £15 million or £20 million worth of feeding stuffs imported every year is not to be sniffed at.

Is the Deputy not very lucky he has not to worry about any of these things?

Deputy Hogan is in possession.

(South Tipperary): Neither is there anything in this Budget to close the gap, which everybody recognises and which is the cause of our present difficulties, between farm incomes and the income of other sections of our society. While one welcomes the increases given in milk prices, one must also, I think, advert with disappointment to the present impasse and the difficulties which have arisen as regards giving the farming community who are so important economically to our society the type of representation on national councils which I feel they should be given.

Who is keeping them out?

(South Tipperary): I was disappointed, although one can expect this, that in the negotiations as regards GATT, as regards the Kennedy Round, these negotiations in which 50 countries are involved, apparently there is no hope for our agricultural arm. This is a disappointment but I think it was something we more or less expected.

The Minister has been criticised for not having introduced a more expansionist type of Budget. I think he calls it an expansionist type of Budget himself.


(South Tipperary): Reflationary, is that it?

(South Tipperary): Well, I suppose that could be classified as mildly expansionist.

(South Tipperary): He has been criticised for not introducing a more expansionist type of Budget but I think he was probably right. One has gathered that this will be a balanced Budget but somehow I feel that at the end of this year there will be a deficit. I will not go so far as to say there necessarily need be a mini-Budget, although when the local elections are over, there will be a great temptation to introduce one. However, if it is not introduced, I think there will be a deficit at the end of the coming year.

A mini-Budget will be introduced after the local elections.

Crystal ball reading again.

Old Moore.

(South Tipperary): We hear a lot of talk about our improved balance of payments position and that it is now down to a net current deficit of £16 million. This is even better than the Second Programme for Economic Expansion target. It is about the only target in the Second Programme for Economic Expansion I ever heard of that was beaten. The general figure that was accepted as permissible in that programme as far as I can recall was £26 million. We were told that this has been made possible by what has been called a net capital inflow of £45 million. Our trade position last year was not bad at all. It was quite good by virtue of the fact that we tightened our belt and got this net capital inflow of £45 million which enabled us to reduce our balance of payments.

Let us examine what the £45 million was composed of. It was up £3.8 million on 1965 to £45 million last year. There was Government external borrowing of £22 million. There was a takeover bid by the National Commercial Bank of Scotland of the National Bank, bringing in £6 million. That is £28 million of our net capital inflow, leaving us with a true capital inflow of only £17 million. That is why I say that the Minister must be constrained to speak cautiously of a reflationary Budget and that he could not follow the suggestions of some speakers that he should have an expansionist Budget. He is in no position to have it. This situation is by no means completely sound. A capital inflow of an alleged £45 million, of which all but £17 million is either borrowing or sale of our national assets, is not economically sound.

There are other aspects of our monetary situation. On September 30th last year, the banks advanced £22 million to the Government. This loan was subsequently converted into Exchequer notes of a non-marketing nature. This is purely a new type of borrowing. While the Government take-off from the commercial banks was, I admit, lower than in previous years, other types of borrowing balance it out. These are matters with which the Minister is doubtless quite familiar. They are matters he did not advert to, as far as I know, in his Budget speech.

This Budget may appear now to be a very palatable Budget, without too much taxation, just touching the pint and the packet of cigarettes. The Minister has been able to give concessions all over the field and, on the face of it, it looks good and is not a Budget one can easily criticise.

Good. The Deputy agrees with it.

(South Tipperary): It is not a Budget as controversial as previous Budgets.

The Deputy agrees that it is a good Budget.

(South Tipperary): I agree that it is a more difficult Budget to criticise than more controversial ones we have had in the past.

It is like the curate's egg —good in spots.

(South Tipperary): It is like Lanna Machree's dog: it goes a little of the road with everybody. I do not think Deputy Fanning has read the Budget speech delivered by his minister.

I have so: That is what is worrying you..

(South Tipperary): If Deputy Fanning had read the Minister's Budget speech, he would not open his mouth.

I have. It is good because, among other concessions to other sections of the community, it comes to the aid of the small farmer.

Two shillings or three shillings a week.

Will Deputies please allow Deputy Hogan to make his contribution to the debate?

(South Tipperary): I have stated that, by and large, I think the Minister, by adopting a cautious attitude in the field of expansion, is probably correct. I have given my reasons. I told the House something about the monetary position which I feel is at present not too helpful but there are other difficulties as well. This Budget defers and unloads too much expenditure on to the coming year. The Minister is well aware of that. It looks nice now. It looks nice to publish all these concessions in the papers but we have not yet been asked to pay for a lot of these things.

Has the Minister for Finance not balanced his Budget and estimated what he will expend?

(South Tipperary): Yes, but he is preparing to unbalance the next one.

The crystal ball is there.

(South Tipperary): That is Fianna Fáil philosophy— always, “Live horse and you will get grass”.

What have you done? What did you do in 1957?

(South Tipperary): That is what Deputy Fanning understands.

They killed the horse and had no grass.

(South Tipperary): It is quite clear that Deputy Fanning did not read the evening papers on the Budget. It is a pity he did not do so because he could make a contribution if he had read it.

I made my contribution last week and people praised me for it.

(South Tipperary): I must read it.

Deputy Fanning has already spoken.

In the opinion of Deputy Hogan, the small man has got too much and the big farmer has got nothing.

(South Tipperary): I shall read Deputy Fanning's speech next week.

You need not worry.

(South Tipperary): Once I tell him that, he will be completely happy.

For the past two hours, you have been reading extracts from Dáil debates and quotations from other people's speeches. I did not do that.

Let Deputy Hogan do his best now in the next three minutes.

These Tipperary men.

(South Tipperary): Deputy Fanning is giving me tremendous help. If I were hard up for ideas and wanted to spend the next two minutes talking, then I must say Deputy Fanning has come to my rescue. He has given me sufficient fodder to keep me going for the next half an hour instead of the next two minutes.

I am behind the small farmer.

(South Tipperary): I must mention what the Minister must—and I am sure has—keep in mind in framing the Budget. Take these school transport grants, and so on. Only half of these will be imposed this year. They will be £4 million or £5 million next year—maybe more. The same applies to many of our social welfare benefits that will be introduced in August. They will come up to be considered next year. The increased revenue buoyancy that was achieved last year—through increased taxation and two Budgets—resulted from large increases in salaries. Between 1964 and the present day, the income, salaries, wages and emoluments of our 30,000 civil servants went up by 30 per cent. All that meant buoyancy of revenue.

The Deputy has only one minute left now.

(South Tipperary): Similarly, the Minister is unloading the transport of old people on to CIE and the electricity supply concession on to the ESB.

Is the Deputy against these things?

(South Tipperary): No.

Would Deputy Hogan oppose all of these things?

Deputy Hogan must be allowed to speak without interruption.

(South Tipperary): The position in relation to the ESB is not covered in our Budget. That legislation will come later. This Budget does not tell the whole story. There are a lot of deferred payments, a lot of payments that will come up at a later stage.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 26th April, 1967.