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.)

Last night when the House adjourned, I was referring to the increased cost of building houses and I gave figures for the cost of building a four-room serviced house five years ago and the comparable cost today. At that time grants were £300 and they have remained at that figure for a very long time. While grants are available for the agricultural community, one very often experiences difficulty in getting these grants for people who are justly entitled to them. The record of the Government, as far as house building is concerned in my constituency, has not been very good over the past ten years. From 1956 to 1966, only 200 houses were built by the local authorities in Roscommon. During the same period, in Leitrim, only six houses were built. At the moment in Leitrim, particularly in Carrick-on-Shannon, there is a desperate demand for houses. We have as many as four people living, or trying to live, in two-roomed flats. That is not a very satisfactory situation in a town the size of Carrick-on-Shannon. I am afraid that the Government must accept responsibility for the situation which has led to the increased cost of building. This was brought about solely by the introduction of the turnover tax and more recently, the wholesale tax. These two taxes have increased house building costs tremendously.

I sometimes wonder about the operation of these taxes. During the debate on the turnover tax, we on this side of the House pointed out that the shopkeepers should be relieved of the responsibility of collecting it. The Government Party said that it would be utterly impossible to do that. Yet, a couple of years later, they introduced the wholesale tax and decided to collect it at source. I suggest that even at this stage it would be advisable to amalgamate both these taxes and have them collected at source. At present in some counties we have inspectors going around harrying shopkeepers who probably find it difficult enough to exist. There is not much relief in this Budget for the unfortunate shopkeeper. Competition has become very keen in rural areas because of the supermarkets and today shopkeepers are nothing more than glorified tax collectors. They have to collect the increased tax on beer and on tobacco and they have to collect the turnover tax. As I said, if these two taxes were amalgamated, it would be much easier for the shopkeepers and the people to pay the tax direct. The shopkeepers are also asked to pay increased rates and there is no relief for them in this regard.

Before I conclude, I should like for old time's sake to mention the question of drainage in my constituency. A few years ago there was a by-election there and the then Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the Board of Works found time to visit the constituency and in Castlerea I listened to him speaking and one would have thought from what he said that the Shannon was to be drained the next day.

Is that not administration? It has nothing to do with the collection of taxes.

I was making the point in passing that no money is provided in the Budget for this very necessary work.

There is indeed. The Deputy has not read his Book of Estimates.

For the drainage of the Shannon?

We are told that it will be ten years before it starts but we were told at the time of the by-election that it was to start in a month.

There are sums provided for it in the Book of Estimates.

There may be, but that is no use to the man who is ploughing away down there.

Would that not be the proper aspect for the Deputy to expand on?

If the Government are serious about doing anything for the West, they will have to provide the farmers with interest-free loans. They have accepted portion of our policy from the "Just Society" in this Budget and I would ask them to go a bit further and accept that part of our policy. The incomes of the small farmers in the West will have to be supplemented. The Government are not making any effort to do this. They withdrew the LAW schemes which provided employment for people who needed it. Last year they withdrew the minor relief schemes which also gave much needed employment. Nowadays there seems to be a game between county engineers to procure modern machinery which will eliminate employment for the small farmer. The net result is that there is no employment provided even on the roads.

On that point, county councils should have more authority in the matter of deciding in what direction money should be spent. They should not be asked to spend 50 per cent of the money on main roads while some by-roads are in a deplorable condition.

During the year we approached the Minister for Transport and Power in regard to the question of erecting a power station at Arigna. He said nothing could be done about it and that it was cheaper to generate electricity from oil and turf. If he is serious about giving employment in the West, another generating station will have to be erected at Arigna to use the coal which is mined there.

On behalf of my constituents, I should like to thank the Minister for his Budget which will be of great benefit to the people in the West. We have heard critical speeches by the Opposition; they want more benefits and so on but, throwing our minds back to the time when they were in power, we remember that they took a shilling off the old age pension.

That is going back a bit.

We must look at those times also. The old age pensioners in general will benefit by 5/-from this year's Budget. That is a step in the right direction on which the Minister is to be complimented. He is also to be complimented on introducing free travel and free electricity for old age pensioners to which I think they are entitled. I am glad this has come about.

People living in the West with over £4 valuation were able to get unemployment assistance in the past for only four months of the year. That has been changed in this Budget and they are now entitled to unemployment assistance for the 12 months. That will help them out greatly, especially people living on small, uneconomic holdings and rearing large families. Also, the young men who are unmarried and who could get assistance for only six months in the past will now qualify for the full 12 months. That is also a decision on which the Minister is to be complimented.

In general, people on the west coast have small valuations and the derating of land up to £20 valuation will be a tremendous help to them and their large families. It will give them a better chance of earning money from any work that may become available in their area. The sliding scale between £20 and £33 is a wise provision. It proves to the Opposition Parties and the country in general that the Minister and the Government have the West in mind and that they are down to earth in their efforts to help the West and the country as a whole.

My only reason for speaking in this debate is that I have been asked by my constituents to add my voice to the praise of the Minister for Finance for his Budget this year and to express the hope that he will continue in the future to look after the West as well as he has done in this year's Budget.

The Minister tells us in his Budget Statement that during the year under review it was only necessary to raise a net £16.2 million from the banking system or about half the amount raised from this source in 1965-66. That may be so but I cannot believe there was any increase in bank credit in the year under review for the private sector. Other Deputies, I think, have also referred to this fact. The Taoiseach, speaking on the Budget, referred to it as a good Budget, an expansionist and reflationary Budget. I do not think it is good; it certainly is not expansionist. I cannot agree with the Taoiseach, and I think the people of the country do not agree, that it is a good Budget.

The Government have now been in power uninterruptedly for the past ten years and during that time we have had the advent of EEC and a lot of talk about productivity. I should have liked the Minister to have done something about productivity in his Budget. I am thinking particularly of the derating concession he has given in respect of holdings up to £20 valuation. I agree with that, but I think it could have been linked in some way with productivity and it is a retrograde step not to have done so. I am not suggesting at this stage how that could have been worked out but some link between the benefit and productivity could have been forged if sufficient thought had been given to the problem.

This is a frothy Budget: it gives very small increases in the social welfare sector. While I welcome them as increases, I was amazed to hear the previous Deputy going back to the time when the Cumann na nGaedheal Government, as it then was, took a shilling off the old age pensions. If my memory serves me right, I believe that was done in 1928. Here we are in 1967 after ten years of uninterrupted Fianna Fáil government which they describe as good government and what is the position in regard to employment? We were told in a previous general election that there would be 100,000 new jobs, that people would come back from England and that there would be plenty of employment. The Irish Banking Review tells us that today we have not one more person in gainful employment than we had in 1957. That is all the Fianna Fáil Government have been able to do in regard to employment.

The Minister has given benefits to the rural community but I represent an urban constituency and there is no relief in the burden of soaring rates in this Budget. I must remind the Minister that in urban areas there are small shopkeepers who are very hard hit because of business difficulties and soaring rates. What does the Minister propose to do about soaring rates? Is he prepared to take the health services off the rates? I should like to ask him what he proposes to do about the promise of the former Minister for Health who promised that the health services demand would be held at the 1965/66 level. Dublin Health Authority still do not know what the position is regarding that statement.

The day before yesterday, Deputy Andrews referred to the high rents charged for flats in Dún Laoghaire. The rents of flats, as the Minister well knows, are subject to supply and demand: if there is a supply of flats, then the rents go down. I do not wish to be taken by the House as agreeing with the high rents being charged but I charge the Minister with responsibility for the lack of housing in all areas, and in Dún Laoighaire in particular during the past ten years. Even today Dún Laoghaire Corporation are awaiting sanction for the erection of 104 flats in Mounttown. I think the Deputy I have referred to would be better employed in helping Dún Laoghaire Corporation to get on with the erection of those flats because that would house some of the people now homeless in Dún Laoghaire. I should like the Minister to use his good offices to obtain sanction for those flats at Mounttown so that Dún Laoghaire Corporation can get on with the job of solving their housing problem.

During the year there has been considerable delay at all stages in connection with local authority housing. I know there have been difficulties but I submit that the Minister should use his influence to speed up the procedure. In that respect I should like to remind the Minister that Dublin County Council, if I may move into the county area for a few moments, have been told by the Department of Local Government that for the year 1967/68, they will be granted £1 million for local authority housing. I hope that is not an election gimmick, that that amount of money will be paid to Dublin County Council for that purpose. In relation to the granting of such money, some local authorities are in the happy position of being able to raise money themselves, a certain amount anyway. My complaint is that when local authorities raise money themselves, it is taken out of its allocation from the Department; in other words, if Dublin County Council raise £200,000, the Department give only £800,000. I ask the Minister for Finance to look into that because it seems to be imposing a burden on local authorities who can raise money.

I reiterate what I said at the beginning that I do not think this is a good Budget. It certainly is not an expansionist Budget and I do not think it is a reflationary Budget either.

The national papers this morning carried banner headlines in relation to disturbances in the Stormont Government. When I read that statement, I wondered which member of this Cabinet would go west. The corridors of this House of Parliament are seething with rumours of corruption in housing in this city, of men who have become very rich in this city at the expense of the local authorities and of the poor—the homeless people in the city who find it impossible either to procure homes through the local authority or to provide them for themselves by virtue of the scandalous inflation that has taken place, seemingly by design, in the suburbs of this city because certain people in high places are in possession of information which is not available to the individuals most concerned. We have the racketeers and the privateers closely associated and prominently identified, hidden behind the scenes of the now famous association called Taca.

I wonder if the Taoiseach, whom I believe to be a very honourable man, a man of very high integrity, will issue the same warning to some members of his Cabinet who are closely associated and in close companionship with certain individuals who have organised Taca to support the Fianna Fáil Party. I am not a fluent Irish speaker. Like the average individual in this country, I know a limited amount of Irish. I am told the translation of Taca is a prop, a crutch, a support——

Several of those.

This organisation has been formed to support the Fianna Fáil Party. I understand a few individuals travelled from my county to attend the dinner. I submit that if any of those people are prepared to subscribe £100 in a hotel in this city to abate their hunger, it is not hunger that is wrong with them but thirst, a thirst for money, and this £100 was a bribe to the powers that be in this so-called democratic Government——

That is a scandalous allegation.

It is a statement that has to be made. I will take the Deputy up on that point. I wonder when Deputy Crowley first entered this House as a member of the public what his views would have been then if he had been sitting in the Public Gallery today listening to me instead of in the Fianna Fáil benches?

The Deputy knows well that what he is saying is not true.

I am stating categorically that Mr. O'Neill in Belfast has sacked one of his Ministers for alleged corruption. If there is no corruption in this Government, then I submit that the Taoiseach should make it appear there is no corruption.

I suggest if there is corruption in this Government, and the Deputy knows about it, he is failing in his duty to his constituents and to this House as well as to everybody else if he does not bring in the evidence to prove this. If the Deputy cannot produce that evidence, he should not be talking about it.

I agree, and the Parliamentary Secretary knows as well as I do that it would take a public sworn inquiry to prove some of the things that have been happening in this city. We will not labour that point.

The Deputy would be very well advised not to labour it.

The facts are that in 1957 the cost of providing a house in this city was in the region of £2,500.

It was £1,800.

Deputy Belton says it was £1,800. The cost of providing that house today is in the region of £4,000 to £5,000.

That is a far cry from the charge of corruption.

Where has the increase occurred? Am I right in saying that housing sites which were procurable in this city in 1956 and in 1957 at a cost of £300 and £400 have now been inflated to £1,000 and £2,000 and that in fact certain people cannot even buy a site for love or money? I want to ask the House this question. Is it by accident, is it just by mere chance, that certain individuals closely associated with the front and back benches of Fianna Fáil—I hesitate to name them——

The Deputy should name them.

——have been in close contact with certain individuals who have purchased land on the outskirts of this city and that the cost of those sites has reached an astronomical figure?

Why does the Deputy not come out clean and tell the House?

I will do it but I am giving the Parliamentary Secretary's Party a chance to wash their dirty linen and get rid of it. It is a scandalous situation that in this city, a father, mother and eight or nine children are living and sleeping in one room, while at the same time people closely associated with this Government are making a fortune at the expense of these unfortunate people. The Parliamentary Secretary may look at me and say that this is a scandalous allegation, but the fact of the matter is that it is a true statement.

It is not a true statement.

Of course it is. The Deputy has only to open the corporation files and he will see it.

Demonstrate it to us.

Substantiate it.

Must I parade the fathers, mothers and children of this city to satisfy Deputy Crowley that what I am saying is true? Do I have to parade the mothers, fathers and children of Donegal to satisfy Deputy Crowley and the Parliamentary Secretary that what I am saying is true? Do I have to do that? A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I submit that one of the biggest scandals in recent times, certainly in my time in public life, is the scandalous housing record of this Government. It is a dismal record I may add. Just to get away from that point, I hope the Taoiseach gives the warning to every member of his Cabinet, every junior member of his Cabinet and members of his back bench, that not alone should justice be done but justice should appear to be done. That at least is not happening at the moment.

Housing, in my opinion, is one of the social benefits which any Government must and should provide for their people. As a public representative, I have discovered—certain facts have been brought to my notice regarding this—the conditions which certain people must tolerate in this year of 1967. I must ask myself where does the moral obligation lie in relation to the Government and to the people? I am led to believe that a Government are elected by the people to provide for the people. I believe that the people who voted for this Government in 1957, and who supported them, maybe not with the same majority, but who gave them another chance in 1961, and again in 1965, did so because they believed that this Government would carry out their duties to the people who elected them.

Deputy Crowley, like myself, is not a person who runs into a local authority office looking for a house. Fortunately enough, for reasons which we do not have to explain to each other, Deputy Crowley is in a position to provide a house for himself. I, likewise, am able to provide a house for myself but Deputy Crowley is no different from me inasmuch as he must receive complaints from people in Bandon and in mid-Cork. He must receive those complaints from individuals who go to him. They are the same type of people as visit my home and complain about the slow progress being made by the local authority in providing houses.

Deputy Crowley, much the same as myself, heads off to the local authority office, either on the day of the meeting or while he is passing through Cork on his way to Dublin. He will find himself in the Housing Section of Cork County Council. I hope when he tells, or writes to, the person concerned, he tells exactly what the position is. I hope, like some of his colleagues in my constituency, and indeed in my native county, he does not try to pass off the buck to the county manager instead of to the Minister for Local Government.

The position as I see it in Donegal is this. In the years 1955, 1956 and 1957—I use the figures given by the Minister for Local Government in reply to a question by Deputy P. O'Donnell and myself a month or six weeks ago— Donegal County Council provided 447 local authority houses. In the nine years since then, 462 houses have been provided. In other words, 15 more houses have been built by the present Government in nine years than were built by the inter-Party Government in the first three years of the past 12 years. These figures reflect the reason why Deputy Crowley must pay attention and more visits to the Housing Section of Cork County Council.

I suggest Deputy Harte should concentrate on County Donegal.

They explain why I must pay more visits to the Housing Section of Donegal County Council. I am told that housebuilding in Cork during the same period is even worse than it is in County Donegal.

I have not the exact figures——

The Deputy should have them.

That is a ridiculous statement.

It is not ridiculous; you should have them. You are more concerned with Taca than you are with housing.

The Deputy is more concerned——

Deputy Crowley should be more concerned with Taca than I. You are being used as a cog in the big wheel of Fianna Fáil to do what you are told, wherever you are told and whenever you are told to do it. When you are told to go through the Lobbies of this House, Deputy Crowley——

Would Deputy Harte please address the Chair?

I am reminding Deputy Crowley, the House and the Country, I hope——

As a Donegal democrat.

—— that certain individuals have more power in this country than Deputy Crowley or Deputy Fanning.

Deputy Harte should not be worried about Deputy Fanning.

And those two Deputies, humble and sincere as they may be——

Deputy Crowley

Thank you very much.

He said "may be".

I know, and I am sure of it. What any individual with an average amount of commonsense would conclude from reading about this famous dinner is that Deputy Crowley, Deputy Fanning and every other Deputy in the Fianna Fáil benches are trotting behind the Government Ministers. They will vote "Yes" when told to do so and they will vote "No" when told to do so. They are faceless individuals associated with Taca. Deputy Gibbons will also do what he is told.

We have to have Taca. We need money: we are not as rich a Party as Fine Gael.

The money we have we made on our own.

We have to have——

Will Deputy Crowley please let Deputy Harte speak?

Deputy Crowley is going too far. I saw strange expressions on the faces of your colleagues when you opened your mouth. Perhaps Deputy Crowley——

Perhaps Deputy Harte would come to the Budget debate.

I am being relevant, Sir. Later on this evening I shall come to that point. Deputy Crowley might ask himself whether he can in a democratic manner exercise the power that he should exercise by virtue of his obligation to this House more than some of the faceless individuals who are associated with Taca, the Tammany Hall of Irish politics. I was dealing with housing in Donegal, Sir, when I was interrupted by Deputy Crowley. We, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle—I should say Deputy Breslin— are in possession of the facts. One of these is that in the year 1966 the Government allocated to the town of Letterkenny £1,000 for housebuilding.

Ten Taca dinners.

Yes, ten Taca dinners. Perhaps we might have more money this year to build houses in Donegal. Perhaps that is what Deputy Crowley meant when he said "We need money; we are not as rich a Party as Fine Gael". I hope when you have collected money, you will provide more houses for the poor and needy in Letterkenny in 1967. We find that this Government allocated £2,000 in the year 1966 to the town of Buncrana for houses.

During the first three years when the inter-Party Government were in office, the local papers were full of statements by the present Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, by Deputy Cunningham, and, indeed, by Deputies in the other constituencies in Donegal, criticising the inter-Party Government for not building enough houses and pointing out that only for the high rate of emigration and migration in County Donegal, there would be a calamity. The fact of the matter is that since those three years one-third of the effort has been put into housebuilding in County Donegal by the present administration. These are not my figures but the figures of the Department of Local Government given to Deputy P. O'Donnell and myself a month or six weeks ago in this House. In addition, the rate of unemployment has increased in County Donegal during the past nine years.

If there is one reason why this Government should fall, if there is a reason why Deputies should ask themselves: "Have we fulfilled our obligations to the people who voted for us and who placed their confidence in us" it is that they have failed miserably under the heading of housing.

Certain benefits may appear to have been given in this Budget. Indeed, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance in reply to a Parliamentary Question I put down on 14th March concerning the cost of the erection of the Thomas Davis statue in Dublin said that that effort cost £19,800 to £20,000. Would it not have been more fitting if that £20,000 were spent in providing ten local authority houses in County Donegal? I believe that if that noble man were alive today or if he could speak from the grave and were asked: "How should we remember you; should we provide a statue in College Green to your memory or should we provide ten local authority houses to provide homes for ten families?", his answer would be: "Build ten houses". I wonder if the ten houses were being built would the lowest tender received have been accepted? The Parliamentary Secretary declined to answer my supplementary question on that occasion to the effect that the lowest tender received was in fact the one accepted. Now, perhaps he might come clean and tell the House that he is now in possession of that information.

If the Deputy will put down a question, I shall tell him all about it.

Is this the pattern of parliamentary procedure now to get the slightest piece of information?

No; I have not this slight information.

We had an exhibition here yesterday when the Minister for Local Government, the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and the Minister for Justice declined to answer supplementary questions.

This does not arise on the debate.

I am submitting that £19,800, voted for the erection of a statue to Thomas Davis, could have been better spent by providing ten local authority houses, and the Parliamentary Secretary informs me that if I want the information which I now seek, I should put down a written question to him.

I shall give the Deputy all the information he wants.

If you want information from the present Government, you must state so four days in advance, in writing.

A question must be asked at Question Time; this is not Question Time.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary trying to conceal something? If he is not, then he should toe the line and give the information to the House. I now state that he refused to tell me whether the lowest tender received by the Office of Public Works for the erection of the Davis statue was the one accepted. I do not know which was the lowest but I am asking the Parliamentary Secretary to tell the House.

If the Deputy will bring this up on the Estimate, we shall have great fun on it.

Not so long ago in Donegal County Council we had a discussion about the provision of different types of houses. We can now provide them with SI cottages, with small farmers' cottages, with scheme cottages and with Cedarwood houses. We had a discussion at a county council meeting as to which of these four types of houses we should provide. We had a discussion on the type of house we might build if we had the money. Having listened to certain members of the Fianna Fáil Party expound why we should build this type of house in preference to another type and why we should not build one house in preference to another, I must say I can foresee the day when the County Manager will announce that he has 13 houses built; this is only a third of the houses he built last year. I can see him announcing a raffle and that the first prize will be a small farmer's house, because these are the most difficult type to get.

Two years ago, the then Minister for Local Government announced that these houses would be available at 7/6d per week but the trouble is nobody has got one yet. The second prize would be an SI cottage, the third a Cedarwood cottage; and there would be ten additional scheme houses. I can imagine a Fianna Fáil councillor going back to Moville, or landing into the Square in Malin, pulling down the window of his car, waving out and shouting: "We have won a house" and the people being amazed: "What type of object is this? Is it something like a satellite", it being so unusual for them to see a house built in a district like Malin by the local authority, and wondering which prize did you get —the first, second or third?

I can see a similar situation arising in a town like Moville or in Carndonagh where no houses have been built by the local authority in the past ten years. This is the dismal situation in Donegal when people wish to obtain houses. Out of frustration they make application and wonder: "Will I qualify for a grant and, if I do, how much money will I get?" At this point we explain to them: "Well, if you come under a certain income limit, you will qualify for a grant, but, if you apply for a loan, you will have to take your place in the queue". Therefore, the position now is that if you want a small farmer's house, there are 340 applications ahead of yours; if you want an SI cottage, you will wait for 2½ to 3½ years; if you want a Cedarwood cottage, you must await approval of the design, as Deputy Breslin knows, and he speaks very strongly in favour of Cedarwood houses. But the fact of the matter is none has been built yet. Then, if you want a scheme house, if you are a newly-married couple, you must compete with fathers and mothers of families of five, six and up to nine, and the net position is that you have no chance of getting a scheme house.

Therefore, out of frustration, they go to the public representative, be he a county councillor or a Deputy who explains that they will qualify for a grant but must take their place in the queue for the loan. The position of one in a queue for a loan at the moment is that a county manager will guarantee that a loan will be paid; he will make a private arrangement; he will try to meet that loan at a certain date. Then, the Deputy or the county councillor finds himself with that frustrated young couple in the private office of a bank manager asking him would he meet the amount until that date; would he finance the contractor; would he finance the local builder's provider until such time as the county manager would provide the first instalment of the loan? Early on in the campaign I must say, in all fairness to bank managers, they stepped in to fill the gap and provided the bridging loans necessary but now the bank managers find it so impossible that we have come to a standstill.

That is the sum total of the housing situation in Donegal. These are the people who cannot provide houses and cannot get houses but what of the people who are a little more fortunate, who can provide their own houses and who have provided them, who have stepped into the breach and who have left county council cottages to build their own bungalows? What thanks have they got? In the past few months, the valuation officers have visited these homes and the people have been told: "For leaving your county council cottage, or for abandoning the condemned home in which you lived; in appreciation of the fact that you provided a home for yourself and have taken the responsibility away from the local authority, we are now saddling you with a valuation."

Indeed the people who repaired the homes in which they were living, at great expense, are also being told: "We must increase your valuation", because this is a new way of increasing the rates in County Donegal and in every other county.

In Donegal County Council we have members of the Seanad asking for support from Fine Gael and the newly formed Progressive Party and whipping up their own backbenchers in order to condemn the Valuation Office in Dublin for daring to come down to Donegal to increase valuations. But when the motion was amended to read that the protest should be made to the Minister for Finance and a copy sent to the Valuation Office, they threw their hands up in horror and said: "You cannot accuse the Minister for Finance of doing such a thing as this." One Senator declared he found it difficult to explain to the people who voted for him—and who, no doubt, would support him again—that the Government had no hand, act or part in the valuation of their homes. It is a known fact that the Valuation Office is the direct responsibility of the Minister for Finance. Most Fianna Fáil councillors do not know the facts or are not properly conversant with public administration. Some of them even tell you that the Blueshirts were part and parcel of the Fianna Fáil Rearguard——

Perish the thought.

——that it was the Blueshirts, led by Eamon de Valera, who introduced politics into the local authorities. This has been said by a prominent Fianna Fáil councillor in Donegal. I know the Parliamentary Secretary is amazed at such a statement. So am I.

Would Deputy Harte mention the Budget just for the record? The Blueshirts do not arise on this.

There are many things in this Budget which pretend to help the people of Donegal when in fact the reverse is the case. I was dealing with the new valuations on homes in Donegal. I was pointing out that this is the direct responsibility of the Minister for Finance and that there is no relationship between the valuations on a home in Donegal and the valuations on homes in more densely populated areas. Seemingly, these officers, for reasons best known to themselves, think of a figure, measure the floor area with a yardstick and then come up with a valuation.

I want to refer now to the agricultural grant. I am sorry Deputy Crowley has left the House, because I notice in this morning's paper he is quoted as saying that certain farmers may receive up to £1,000 each year by way of rates abatement. That is typical of the attitude of Fianna Fáil backbenchers at the moment. No doubt they are inspired by more prominent Ministers in the Party and influenced by the faceless individuals of Taca. Put the urban voter against the rural voter. This seems to be the password in the Fianna Fáil camp at the moment. Create a division between the farmers and the urban voters.

How did you find out? Our secret is out.

I can tell the Parliamentary Secretary it was not by way of Parliamentary Question because, had I tabled one, I would have got the same answer as I usually get. Deputy Crowley should be more honest when he makes such a statement. He may be able to suggest with figures that it is possible for a farmer to receive abatement in his rates up to £1,000 a year; but if the agricultural land of this country were paying 100 per cent rates, how many people could be paid for staying on the land? We would have a chaotic situation. This is the only country in Western Europe which has rates on agricultural land. Deputy Crowley might explain to the people of Bandon and mid-Cork, when he makes such an outrageous statement, that unless this abatement were given to the farmers, our main industry would collapse. I certainly give no credit to the Minister for Finance for his supposed benefit to the agricultural community in derating up to £20 valuation.

Unless my information is incorrect, I understand the position to be that a small farmer who owns four or five small holdings with a total valuation of £21 does not get the benefit of derating. It is not all holdings under £20 valuation but all holdings of the one rated occupier which come under £20 valuation. No one knows better than the Leas-Cheann Comhairle what this means for Donegal. In Donegal you can have many smallholders under £20 valuation, but very few of them live out of their own holdings. The holding is usually to supplement a business, a handicraft or a profession. Indeed, the reverse can be the case, that the small holding is being supplemented by the owner earning a living in some other occupation. Here is the situation from now on: if a holder has £25 valuation, he will get no benefit from the derating of agricultural land, although that £25 valuation could be made up of two, three or four small holdings, although his entire income could be coming from those holdings. On the other hand, a publican, a hotelier, a butcher, a grocer or any other businessman can buy a holding of £19 valuation and, because that is the only agricultural land he owns, benefit fully from the Budget, not to any great extent but to the tune of about £15 per year.

I submit that the thinking of the Government has been wrong in this respect. I forecast, and I accept the advice of the Taoiseach when he says we shall enter the European Economic Community in 1970 or in the early seventies, if and when we do, then all agricultural land must be derated. There is no time like the present. A new system of taxation must be found: new economies must be effected, and savings must be obtained to provide for the derating of all agricultural land. When stupid statements are made in this Parliament like that made by Deputy Crowley yesterday evening, that the agricultural holder could receive £1,000 by way of rates abatement, they tend to mislead and confuse the urban voter, when anything but that is the truth. It is my belief that many smallholdings will now be bought by businessmen and by other people who are not earning their living out of agriculture. All such land below £20 valuation will be free of rates, whereas the man who has an agricultural holding of £60 valuation benefits to no extent whatsoever; in fact he will be paying more this year than in any previous year.

I should like the Minister to introduce some amending regulations to make the agricultural employment allowance more equitable in the various counties. For example, the £17 employment grant has the equivalent value of £12 PLV abatement in County Meath, and it has the equivalent value of a £10 PLV abatement in County Dublin, but because of the high rate in County Donegal, it has the equivalent value of only £6; in other words, the £17 employment allowance in Donegal is half the value it is in County Meath. If the agricultural allowance is to be of any benefit to the agricultural community in Donegal, a new system should be devised in relation to the qualifying age limit, the details of which are somewhat involved, but they have been explained to the House times out of number. I have raised this point on a number of occasions, and I think it would be the unanimous view of all Deputies, Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour, that a more equitable solution should be found in relation to the £17 agricultural allowance.

The Minister for Transport and Power spoke last week about inflation and how this great enemy of inflation attacked the First Programme for Economic Expansion and how it rocked the foundations of the Second Programme for Economic Expansion, and he told the House why these things took place. He astutely explained that these things were completely beyond the control of the Government, that international forces, the economic situation in Western Europe, the Presidential election in the USA, the upheaval within the Conservative Party in Great Britain, all tended to have an effect on the economic situation in this country.

I sat listening to the Minister for Transport and Power, for, I am sure, two hours, and but for the tone of his voice, had I closed my eyes, I could have thought it was Deputy Dillon speaking about four years earlier than the Minister. If one reached for the Dáil Debates of last Wednesday evening and refrained from looking at the name of the Deputy appearing on the top left-hand corner of each page, I venture to say that the speech made by the Minister for Transport and Power in this House condemning the evils of inflation, and describing the acid effect it had on the policies programmed by the Government in their First and Second Programmes for Economic Expansion, then it could be closely associated and identified with the speeches made by Leaders of the Fine Gael Party, and certainly by the late Deputy Norton. I wonder—here I echo what Deputy Dillon said a month or so ago—what was the frame of mind of the Minister for Transport and Power, when he listened to and read the speeches of the prominent speakers of the Opposition Parties two or three years ago. I wonder is that one of the reasons Deputy Smith resigned as Minister for Agriculture. I wonder is it one of the reasons Deputy MacEntee indicated to the Supreme Soviet that he also was retiring. I wonder had the former Deputy James Ryan similar ideas when he refused to serve in this 18th Dáil. If those gentlemen were really honest with themselves and with the people who elected them, should they not have said at the time that the policies programmed by the Lemass administration were shortsighted and destined to lead us to the depths of financial disaster?

I do not claim for one moment that I have any more ability than the average elected representative but, with the limited amount of intelligence I have, and with the limited amount of commonsence, it was, I think, comparatively easy to evaluate the worth of the First and Second Programmes for Economic Expansion initiated by the former Taoiseach. In the past 12 months we have heard very little about either the First or the Second Programme for Economic Expansion. When I first entered public life six years ago, Fianna Fáil speakers were spouting from every soapbox they could find. explaining to the people this new device which Deputy Seán Lemass had discovered to provide 100,000 new jobs, more homes for the homeless and more social welfare benefits for those who needed them. That was called the Five Year Plan. That was later rechristened the First Programme for Economic Expansion.

As Deputy Seán Dunne explained last week, the language used by Ministers in after-dinner speeches, at cumainn meetings and at every function to which Ministers of State were invited, particularly prior to by-elections or general elections, was really high-class English to explain in detail what it was hoped the effects would be of the First and Second Programmes for Economic Expansion, language five or six degrees above the level of the common vocabulary of the man-in-the-street. It sounded fine. However, whenever a warning was given to the workers, the lowly-paid, as Deputy Seán Dunne said, common bog English was used to get the message across. Let there be no mistake about that; the average man was told in blunt English what was expected from him.

The Minister for Transport and Power shared no doubt many of the dinners provided and accepted many of the invitations extended to him, subsequently using up many a valuable inch of public print to explain in excellent English the implications and the advantages of these Programmes for Economic Expansion. How many times has the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government explained outside this House the system by which the former Taoiseach would provide 100,000 new jobs? How many times has he availed of the opportunity to explain the details of the Five Year Plan and the First and Second Programmes for Economic Expansion? How many times has he prevented himself from being led into uncharted waters? How many times has he avoided being taken to task by people who disagreed with the policy of the Government and who asked awkward questions? I do not know how many times he availed of opportunities or accepted invitations, but, in the past 12 months, not alone has Deputy Paudge Brennan declined to mention either the First or the Second Programme for Economic Expansion but so has every other Minister and Parliamentary Secretary.

I wonder why? Were these programmes all flights of fantasy? Were they introduced, like this Budget, for the sake of political expediency rather than in the interests of the common good and of the nation as a whole? Is there any significance in the fact that, prior to resuming this debate on the Budget, we were debating the Auctioneers Bill? Are the Government now bidding for votes in the local elections? Is there any significance in the fact that the Government have promised to pay the old age pensioners and certain social welfare classes a 5/increase in August and other sections a 5/- increase from 1st January next? Is there any significance in the fact that this is a first bid and a second bid? When the local elections day dawns, I hope the people will remember what happened in Greater London and the answer the people there gave to the Labour administration, which made similar promises, made the same mistakes, and met with the same failures as this Government.

Lest some Deputies may forget, as I would were it not for the fact that I stumble now and again on the propaganda disseminated by the Fianna Fáil Party in 1957 prior to the general election, I would like to remind the House that this was one of the main points of policy which brought Seán Lemass back into power as Tánaiste of this House, in the full knowledge that within two years the then Leader would be retiring to another part in Irish politics and he knew too well that unless he could match up to the then leader, the Fianna Fáil Party were doomed to failure. He knew it was a one-man show and that without that great leader, the Party would collapse. My humble opinion, for what it is worth, is that nobody realised more clearly than Deputy Seán Lemass that he could not match up and the only way he could overcome it was to start talking in fast terms, making as many promises as he could, get the votes and then try to fulfil the promises.

One of the ways in which he could supersede this mythical figure and replace the magic which he apparently possessed was to talk in terms of five-year plans, of 100,000 new jobs, of "Get your husbands out to work; bring your sons and daughters back from England". These were the phrases which caught the imagination of the electorate, phrases which influenced public opinion and phrases, no doubt, which, due to circumstances prevailing then, were popular. Had I not been a member of the Fine Gael Party then and had I been an open-minded individual, I possibly might have voted for Seán Lemass. I know that many people in my constituency have admitted to me that because they were not associated with any political Party they were free to vote and they believed in giving Seán Lemass the chance he asked for. He got that chance.

I also believe that the First and Second Programmes for Economic Expansion were based on the same wavelength of political thought, to establish Seán Lemass as Taoiseach of this country in the hope that when the mythical figure would retire completely from public life, he might be in the position of the founder and saviour, the great industrial miracle worker of Irish economics, to be rewarded with the highest honour the Irish people could afford. However, this was not to be, simply because his policies were more short-lived than even he thought they were. The bubble burst about 12 months before he could be paid the reward he was aiming at.

As Deputy Dillon says, it was a gambler's Government, a Government who took calculated risks, a Government who held on to power for the sake of power. It was a minority Government in 1961 which stayed in power by virtue of influence which controlled two individuals in this House. Nevertheless, that Government stayed in power to try to fulfil these policies. If we take the speech of the Minister for Transport and Power last week, the action of Deputy Smith when he resigned as Minister for Agriculture, the actions of Deputy MacEntee and the former Deputy James Ryan—of these four senior members of the Government, one resigned, two refused to serve in this 18th Dáil and the one who stayed on now speaks with his tongue in his cheek condemning outside forces for their reacting on the economic structure of the First and Second Programmes for Economic Expansion— we must conclude that they at that time knew that their policies were shortsighted but that if they were honest with themselves, their Party and the public, the whole structure of the Fianna Fáil administration must collapse and their positions in public life would collapse. Therefore, I feel that this was a gambler's Government led by a gambler. There is nothing wrong, a Cheann Comhairle, in a gambler placing a bet. There is nothing wrong with anybody gambling on certain odds, provided that the money he wagers is his own. However, when the ratepayer and taxpayer are called on to foot the bill, I believe that stricter standards should be adopted when one comes to assess and judge the present administration.

The local authority elections are on the horizon. I sincerely hope the people will take into consideration the deeds, the successes, the failures, the entire works of this administration when judgment day arrives at the end of June and will tell this Government in no uncertain terms that it is time to quit, that new thinking must be put into government, that new approaches must be made, that a new field of thought must be developed, opened and expanded to provide better housing for the people who need it, better social benefits for the less well off, better health services for people who must live with possibly an incurable disease because they know that it means financial ruin if they seek help in some of our hospitals.

My concept of social benefits in any democracy or any society is basically that society wants, desires and aims at providing better social services for the less well off in our society. It is to me very sound and fundamental reasoning. I believe it is a fundamental thought in man that he should provide for the generation of his father and the generation of his grandfather. I believe that it is a fundamental thought in man that he should provide for the person who cannot provide a living for himself.

I believe that whenever a person votes for a Party or a Government, he expects that Party is aiming at furthering the ideas he has in mind. To prove this point, allow me to submit that most of the social welfare benefits and most of the social welfare services provided at the moment were started by voluntary organisations. We had the National Foresters and the AOH; we had different clubs in large industrial centres. Even certain businesses undertook such work for their staff. The Freemasons and the Orangemen all played their part. While they differed fundamentally politically, while they were poles apart in thought, the natural instinct in them was to provide better social services and protection for the classes that needed them. They banded themselves into their own organisations and subscribed so much a week to provide those services. If the weekly subscription was not enough to provide benefits for the people in need of them, then the subscription was increased. After some time, Governments sat back and took notice that these voluntary associations had spotlighted a new service which was in fact the responsibility of government, which was, in fact, something that required a levy not alone on the people who were prepared to pay but on every ratepayer and taxpayer.

In spite of all the increases in taxation and rates. I am convinced that nobody would object to giving an old age pension, irrespective of means, to all people attaining the age of 70 and, maybe later on, 65. I believe that human nature rebels against the idea of an inspector or an investigation officer being sent by any Department of State —directly or indirectly being sent by the Government of the people, duly elected, indeed, by, in many cases, the people concerned or the people who rebel against this action—to probe into the personal background, financial and otherwise, of decent, honest-to-goodness citizens who have worked hard to provide a living for themselves, their families and indeed, their families in turn. When they reach the age of 70, because they tried to save, to put something away to protect themselves in their old age, it is held against them, by, as I say, in many cases, the Government whom they themselves, their husband, wife and family have supported since the foundation of this State. I think this is wrong. I pledge here and now that I will use every agitation at my command, within the framework of the Fine Gael organisation to try to change that situation. If we are given government of this country, it will be my complete desire that an old age pension will be paid to a person irrespective of means when he or she attains the age of 70, and, maybe at a later date, 65. I pledge myself in that regard not alone because I think it right but because I think most of the people, irrespective of class or politics, believe and think along those same lines.

Similarly, I believe that health services should be provided for the sick, the needy and indeed for all those who demand them. I use the same arguments to support that belief, namely, that, by voluntary effort, many groups, seeing the need to provide security for themselves and their colleagues, for their wives and families, banded themselves into voluntary associations and paid weekly subscriptions to protect themselves against sickness. They forced the powers that were to take notice and to provide those services and to spread the cost equally over the entire community.

I do not for a moment wish to condemn any Minister for Health or any Minister for Social Welfare who has served the people of this country in the past 45 or 46 years. I do not wish for a second to criticise them unduly for falling down on the job because these services for which I now ask are things which evolve rather than are designed. They are services that must be perfected through trial and error. They are services which must be perfected and increased by experience. I am quite satisfied that the Ministers for Social Welfare and the Ministers for Health who served in this House before I came into it and, indeed, during my time here have tried in some way to improve the standards. However, I accuse them of not doing enough and of being out of touch with the political trend of thought in this country if they still believe that an old age pension should be awarded on the basis of a means test or that certain individuals should be deprived of medical services which they have provided for, or their families before them have provided for, simply because they tried to save or because they were more energetic than their neighbour. This is fundamentally wrong in society. I shall expose it and defend my argument on any platform in this House or outside it.

I pledge that every force at my command will be used within this House, within the framework of the Fine Gael organisation, to see that the day is not too distant when the majority, at least, of the Irish people will be afforded free medical services and social welfare benefits will not be awarded on the basis of a means test.

One of the ironic situations here is that in relation to the Budget the Government altered the regulation concerning unemployment assistance, or what is commonly called the dole. I cannot too strongly criticise the attitude of the present Administration in this regard. I know that what I am saying now will be used by members of the Fianna Fáil Party in Donegal to say: "Harte is against paying the dole." Harte is against any Government making common beggars out of decent, honest-to-goodness, hardworking people, because that, in fact, is the sum total of the results of dishing out the dole.

I remember a meeting in the town of Buncrana about 12 months ago when a few public representatives were called together to protest against certain people in that area being in receipt of unemployment assistance, namely, the dole, who had motorcars and were working on the sly. I understand that members of the Government Party were invited, but, unfortunately, the only members of the Government Party who accepted the invitation were two local county councillors. No Fianna Fáil Member of this House or of Seanad Éireann attended that meeting. A question was put bluntly to me in the course of a short and simple address: "Do you favour the dole or do you not?" In other words: "Now, Harte, Fianna Fáil Deputies and Senators are not here and we cannot say to your supporters what they think of it. We will tell our supporters what way you are thinking."

On the spur of the moment, I explained the situation like this. Most of the dole being paid is being paid to recipients in the congested areas, in the west of Ireland—in west Donegal, and to a degree in east Donegal, but mainly in the west of Ireland. When these people in the west of Ireland rebelled against a foreign Government 50 years ago, 100 years ago, 150 years ago, and for the past 700 years, there was no dole. There were no benefits and it could not be said to them: "Stay there and we will give you so much but remember to vote for Fianna Fáil at the next election." That is what the dole means. The strange thing is that there were four times as many people living there when this alien Government were paying them nothing.

In those times if you did not work for a living you ended up in the work-house. In spite of working for a living and protesting against an alien Government telling them how to run the country, strangely enough, that alien Government provided them with a market for their produce. They had an incentive to work and earn a living. The only excuse this Government can offer to these people—and the population is now one quarter what it was 50 years ago—is: "We have failed to provide markets to allow you to make a decent living for your wives and your families, but we are paying you dole, and when it comes to election time, if you do not vote for us we will withdraw the dole."

Someone said in this House during this debate—and another very noble Irishman said it some 50 odd years ago—that they have purchased half our people and now they have intimidated the other half. This is an indication of the need for the organisation called Taca. This is all part and parcel of the political thinking of the Fianna Fáil administration which we must tolerate in this day and age. There is no progressive thinking in the Budget. It is simply a bid for votes in the local elections. Its prime purpose is not to increase the productivity of the nation but to perpetuate an administration that is there much too long. I have not got the answer as to how we should get rid of Fianna Fáil.

In the late 1930s, the big power in Western Europe was Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany. One insignificant individual, one of the backroom boys of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany, was Dr. Josef Goebbels. His only function in that administration was in relation to propaganda. He succeeded so well that he convinced what I can rightly describe as the nation with the highest degree of education, and with the strongest economy in Western Europe, that Adolf Hitler's policies were correct. The whole basis of his argument was that if you tell a lie often enough, and if you tell a lie big enough, the people must believe you.

I do not compare this administration with Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany but I cannot help remembering the slogans such as: "Get your husbands out to work.", "Bring your sons and daughters back from England.", "Get the wheels of industry turning.", "One hundred thousand new jobs.", "Do not turn back the clock." That was all propaganda. Was this propaganda formulated by a backroom boy in Taca? Was it formulated by one of the nameless ones none of the backbench Members of the Fianna Fáil Government knows exist? Was it formulated by the straightforward thinking of a group of Fianna Fáil Deputies, who, I have no doubt, are sincere and honest-to-goodness individuals but who are being used by people in high places for sinister purposes?

Just as the régime of Adolf Hitler collapsed, so too is the day of reckoning fast approaching for the Fianna Fáil Government. When that hour arrives and when they take their proper place on this side of the House, not alone will they have collapsed but they will disappear completely from the political scene. The Minister for Finance smiles.

The Deputy is being funny.

It might appear to be funny to a few people associated with Taca or with the housing racket in this city——

You are only a neophyte at the game. They had been talking about corruption for 20 years before you came in. It is played out. We are tired of it.

That is what the Minister thinks.

It appears funny to Taca and to the Minister for Finance; it appears funny to any person who has no financial or social worries, but it is not at all funny to the person who has to wait five or six years for a house, to the woman who has her pension rights taken away because her husband went to England and earned a contributory pension and who is fined because the British Government increased the pension. I hope that before the Minister for Finance opens his mouth again, he will ponder for a moment on the plight of the less well off sections in our community. One of the benefits in this Budget which the Minister has proclaimed is the provision of free electricity and free public transport for the old age pensioners. He conveys to these unfortunate people that they should kneel down and thank him for his kindness but I give the Minister no credit for this scheme. Deputies in the Fine Gael Party, particularly Deputy P. Byrne, and a few of the Labour Deputies, have been advocating this since I came into the House and, I am told, had been doing so for many years before.

Let us picture the situation. Many of us walk down O'Connell Street or along Talbot Street or Grafton Street and see virtually every bus passing half empty. At the same time, you will see an old age pensioner carrying two bags and walking down the street because she cannot afford to take the bus. Not only is that the situation and not only does she spend little enough on herself, but in addition she is paying taxes to send that bus down the street empty. CIE is being subsidised to the tune of £3 million per year. This provision of free transport to old age pensioners should have been made many years ago. It would have been done if a different Party had been in Government. This is something against which every member of the Fianna Fáil Party voted when Private Members tabled motions to provide what the Minister now proposes in his Budget. It is easy to imagine how the Minister must have been impressed on occasion—and this may sound funny also to him—when he floated down Kildare Street, along Pearse Street, heading for O'Connell Street in his Mercedes and saw the number of old people walking along carrying bags on their way home. I wonder how many times did his driver have to sound the horn to warn the drivers of the empty buses to get out of his way. It is an unChristian situation —public transport being subsidised by the ratepayers and old people unable to use it because they have not got the bus fare.

The same situation applies in the rural areas. Most of the public service vehicles pass by with one, two or three people in them. Local motorists pull up at the boreens or at the street corners and inquire: "Madam, do you want a lift home?" An old man or an old woman has to depend on a free lift to get home or to arrive at his or her destination. Very often you find that old lady or old man with a walking stick plodding through the rain and mud and being splashed by a public service vehicle flying past with two or three passengers in it. Not alone should old age pensioners be provided with this free transport but so also should people travelling to or from a hospital, dispensary or any other building or on any business in connection with a service to which they are entitled free of charge by the local authority. I hope the Minister will make it clear that not alone are the people who use the public highways, the main arteries of transport, entitled to free public transport but that he will live up to his reputation of generosity and provide transport for those who have to walk two or three miles to a main road for public transport. These are old people and perhaps there are only a few dozen in County Donegal but there are more of them in the city of Dublin and when an election comes they are the people who can be fooled most easily, the people for whom Fianna Fáil cars call five minutes before polling commences on election morning. They are the people the Fianna Fáil mafia spot-light and mark their names with a red X in every register of electors and advise their key workers about "old Mary So-and-so" and "old Johnny So-and-so" who do not think too clearly. Their votes count just as much as those of the smartest men paying their £100 to Taca when the ballot-boxes are opened.

I have tried to explain to the House that this Budget was designed more from the point of view of political expediency than in the national interest and to explain—successfully I hope to the House and even more successfully to the people of my constituency—why these apparent benefits appear in the Budget and what they actually mean in terms of real money or generosity or clear thinking on the part of Ministers.

The Minister for Finance has announced that there will be free electricity——

Hear, hear.

——for people in this category. We have the Minister for Justice saying "hear, hear". Might I remind him that I know of a case in Donegal——

The Deputy is trying to make political playthings out of all the people.

The Minister is afraid that I am exposing him. That is what is wrong with him.

I think the Deputy is a tiresome bore: that is my opinion of him.

The Minister is entitled to that opinion, even though he is being paid for sitting there listening to me.

I shall not listen much longer.

There is a remedy. I am bringing to the attention of the House the case of an old age pensioner who in the recent past owed 14/9d, 11/- of which was meter rent and 3/9d for the electricity used. The supply was cut off.

Surely that is administration and has nothing whatever to do with this debate?

You may call it what you like but it is a very severe blister on poor people.

I can understand that but there are many other things which are severe and which may not be discussed.

We know it. Unfortunately, we are not permitted to mention blisters here.

In terms of relevancy.

The relevancy of this is that the Government will, in fact, save money by giving free electricity to old age pensioners. I am just going to prove——

I cannot allow the Deputy to discuss particular instances of administration.

I shall generalise.

Not in the terms of one particular instance.

I know one lady——

The Deputy has been proving that the Minister is right in this provision.

I am proving that he is doing nothing for which he should be thanked. This old lady in Donegal was cut off because she owed 14/9d and it cost 7/- to cut off her electricity and 7/- to restore it, or 14/- in all, so that it is a saving to give her free electricity.

The Deputy is discussing a particular instance which is not relevant.

I only cite that as proof of my general remarks.

The Deputy is very adroit in suggesting reasons but they do not convince the Chair.

The Minister explained to the House—and, indeed, back bench members of his Party supported him and praised him for his Budget benefits——

And Front Bench members opposite.

They also praised him because he is now giving old age pensioners free electricity. I have just cited a case, and there may be many of them, in which an old person was charged rent for her meter and, in rural Ireland where there is a special service charge——

This is a discussion of the administration of the ESB which is not relevant.

I should like a ruling on this. I have heard Fianna Fáil Deputies explaining the benefits of the Budget——

Yes, but the Deputy is proceeding to discuss what the ESB does in certain instances where people are in arrears. That is surely the administration of the ESB which does not relevantly arise.

I do not want to come in conflict with your ruling, but I submit I am entitled to explain that in many cases the benefits which the Minister proposes by way of free electricity for old age pensioners represent a saving for the ESB.

It is not relevant to discuss the administration of the ESB.

I am not discussing the administration of the ESB but the benefits the Minister proposes for old age pensioners.

I must ask the Deputy to depart from that line of discussion.

I submit to your ruling, but I should like to say that where service charges and rents for meters arise a very nominal amount is added to the total figure through actual consumption of electricity and that in many cases it costs more to disconnect and restore the current than the total bill owed by the customer. I ask the House not to be gulled into the idea that there is any real benefit in this for old age pensioners because these people use a very minute amount of electricity out of the national grid.

The motto of the present Fianna Fáil administration seems to be not "To hell or to Connacht" but "To hell or to Coventry", because emigration has increased, employment has dropped, unemployment has increased, taxation has increased, rates have increased. We have had every organised group in the country protesting during the past four or five years against this maladministration. We have had not only individuals emigrating but we have had them taking their wives and families with them because not alone can they not get work here but they cannot obtain living accommodation. The trend, therefore, is not to hell or to Connacht but to hell or to Coventry.

I should like the Minister for Finance —perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary would take a note of it—to nail a rumour in relation to the derating of agricultural land. In many cases the £33 grading will in fact benefit ratepayers only to the extent of devaluation of 8/- in the £. I understand the £20 agricultural grant, which was calculated at eight-tenths until now, has been interfered with, readjusted so that people with a £33 valuation now will benefit only to the tune of 8/- in the £.

Since the last Budget we have a new Taoiseach and during the interval between the time Deputy Lemass announced he no longer wished to serve as Taoiseach and the evening on which the present Taoiseach announced he was a runner, many things were said and many rumours were loud in the lobbies and corridors of this House, in the city and throughout the length and breadth of the country, that the Taoiseach, Deputy Lemass, doubted the loyalty of certain Ministers. This rumour has reflected itself in the happenings since the election of Deputy Lynch. In a few words the Taoiseach has agreed that there is a difference of opinion in his Cabinet. That is natural —it happens in every Cabinet. I opened my remarks today by saying that in Stormont Mr. O'Neill had sacked Mr. West. I hope the Taoiseach will give full warning, that he will be strong enough to sack any Minister in his Cabinet who happens to be doing something which is not in the national interest. We know there has been a split in the Cabinet. We know the split has been sealed up and mended but we know that old sores can break out again. As surely as I am speaking, certain Ministers in the Cabinet are jockeying for position lest, perhaps, the present Taoiseach ceases to be——

This is highly irrelevant, grossly irrelevant.

In the national news-papers of 3rd April I could not help but notice a banner headline to the effect that Deputy Lynch has no control of Deputy Blaney. To conclude——

I cannot allow this. Whether it is to conclude or not, this has nothing to do with the Budget. The Deputy must depart from his line of argument.

In conclusion, let me say that on the same page I read about how Jesse James was bushwhacked by one of his own front benchers.

I have listened to Deputy Harte during the past two hours. He strayed very far from the proposals in the Budget. Of course he did this in an effort to bring about confusion in the minds of the public. He tried to get public thinking away from the fact that this is a good Budget. Despite what Deputy Harte has said, it is accepted as such by the public throughout the country. I have a certain amount of sympathy with Deputy Harte and the Fine Gael Party in general. The Deputy made every effort to justify their action in voting against the many concessions provided in the Budget, and in order to confuse the issue, mentioned many other things, Taca among them, as if Taca were something we in Fianna Fáil were ashamed of.

You should be.

I can tell Deputy Harte and the other Fine Gael Deputies, as well as members of the Labour Party, that we are not in any way ashamed of Taca or any such organisation. Like the majority of the Irish people, Taca realise that the future of this country depends on Fianna Fáil. For that reason any group of people or the majority of the people throw in their lot with Fianna Fáil realising it is in the interests of the Irish nation to do so. We are not ashamed of those people. We are proud of them. Nobody who supports Fianna Fáil has been given any concession to which he was not entitled. We have always been honest in our approach to the people, but the Fine Gael Party, in their efforts to justify the fact that they voted against the concessions to the social welfare class——

That is not true.

They may say it is not true but is it not true that we must have the necessary finance to give any concessions? They voted against the provision of the necessary finance when they voted against Resolution No. 3. Of course the people did not expect anything else from that Party. The people have come to realise that Fine Gael have no interest whatsoever in the weakest section of the community. In this respect Fine Gael have a very bad record. We on this side have a record of which we can be proud. Deputy Harte regretted the fact that old Johnny so-and-so and old Mary so-and-so in Donegal voted for Fianna Fáil in the past and will again in the future. He seemed disappointed about this. The fact is, of course, that old Johnny so-and-so and old Mary so-and-so, as he described them, and other old people can recall the days when the Fine Gael Party, then known as Cumann na nGaedheal, reduced the old age pension from 10/- to 9/-.

To buy bulletproof vests to protect our Ministers from bush-whacking by Fianna Fáil.

Deputy Harte has spoken at length and should allow other Deputies to make their statements without interruption.

The leopard does not change his spots. We had Fine Gael in coalition with the Labour Party during a period of six years—two of three years each—and during that period the average increase given to one section of the social welfare class was 10d a year. The people remembered this and that is why old Johnny so-and -so and old Mary so-and-so have voted for Fianna Fáil and will continue to do so, and that is why Deputy Harte's Party have not, and never will have, their support.

As I said, the social welfare classes did not expect that Fine Gael would support the many concessions given to them in this Budget, which included the 5/- increase to this section, the free transport on CIE and the free electricity. Those are benefits which we were proud to give to those people. We could understand Fine Gael not giving support to this particular section but it is very hard to understand why they voted against the concessions given to the agricultural community.

It is very hard to understand this because throughout the year Fine Gael have been describing the small farmers as the backbone of this country and as people to whom Fianna Fáil were not giving worthwhile concessions. Of course, the fact of the matter is that any concessions the farming community have got have been given to them by a Fianna Fáil Government. Here we have the greatest concession of all for the small farmers, that is, the derating of agricultural land up to £20 valuation and under and on a sliding scale up to £33 valuation. The Fine Gael Party have said that this concession is not a great one. They point to the fact that people with a valuation of £20 and under already have 80 per cent of their rates contributed by the State. That is so but it must be remembered that this is also a concession Fianna Fáil gave to the farmers. Now we have gone the full way and we have given complete derating of agricultural land up to £20 valuation. Like all the other concessions this Government have given, we had to give it in the teeth of Fine Gael opposition.

It has been mentioned that we are falling down on the housing of our people. I would like to point out that as far as my own constituency is concerned, South Tipperary and West Waterford, we built more houses during the past year than were built in any of the years the Coalition Government were in office. Again, this Budget provides more money for that very essential purpose. We know there is a scarcity of houses and that there were many vacant houses in 1956. We had vacant houses then because people had emigrated. Today, under Fianna Fáil, the population is increasing, the standard of living is improving and for that reason there is need to build more and more houses. This is something we are doing and is something on which we are not getting any help from the Opposition.

The Opposition have every reason to be disappointed with this Budget, coming as it did at the end of a year in which they said this country was bust, that we had no money for this, that or the other. We were delighted to find, despite what was said, that the Minister for Finance had a surplus at the end of the year. This is something the Opposition find very hard to swallow. They are going out of their way to confuse the public and to try to create an air of gloom.

The Opposition have always spoken in the past as if this country were doomed and had no future. Our thinking is entirely different. We believe in the future of this country and in its expansion. While we have given many concessions to the small farming community, I believe the only real help to be given to the really small farmer is to enlarge his farm by giving him more land. For this purpose I would limit the number of acres any one individual could hold. I am not going into that on this debate but it is something which I would advocate.

Deputy Harte mentioned that there was disunity in the Fianna Fáil ranks. I can assure him, as a backbencher of Fianna Fáil, that there is no disunity whatsoever, that we are indeed a united Party working in the interests of the Irish nation. He also mentioned that we had a new Taoiseach during the year. Indeed we had. Our former Taoiseach retired after a lifetime dedicated to the service of this country. Now we have a new Taoiseach who is getting on with the job of building Ireland into the country we would like it to be. He forgot to mention that since the last general election we had two by-elections in which the people of the constituencies of South Kerry and Waterford voted their confidence in the Fianna Fáil Government. Indeed, I can say that their confidence has been fully justified.

Budget time was traditionally a time when the public were interested to discover what concessions were being given and how it was proposed to give incentives to production and reduce the cost of living. I have been approximately 18 years a Member of this House and for the first eight years I was here, I remember the excitement at Budget time about what would come off cigarettes and tobacco and by how much petrol would be reduced. We had successive Budgets doing the very things that were expected. In 1956 I remember the President of Ireland, sitting in that seat there, as Leader of the Opposition saying, during the course of the Budget debate: "We have reached the limit of taxation in this country".

I wonder what is the same gentleman thinking today when he examines the taxation figures imposed on the Irish people as a result of the recent Budget? The Budget is not the only thing that is blistering the Irish people. We have many budgets throughout the country in the estimates for rates for the coming year. One of the serious objections taken to the 1956 Budget was the levies imposed by the then Minister for Finance, Deputy Sweetman, on what was described as luxury imports in order to correct the balance of payments. I remember Deputy Sweetman giving an undertaking in this House that those levies were merely temporary and that as soon as possible they would be withdrawn. In the meantime he said that the moneys collected from the levies would be put into a special fund for capital development.

I remember the attacks made on Deputy Sweetman in this House for his audacity, first of all, in imposing those levies. What has happened since? Those levies have now been woven into the permanent pattern of taxation by the present Government. There is no mention whatsoever of their being withdrawn. What do the Fianna Fáil Party who attacked Deputy Sweetman at that time for introducing those levies, think today when they see their own Minister for Finance not only perpetuating the levies but using them for the purpose for which they were never intended, namely, for current capital expenditure as distinct from capital investment?

Again, we hear a lot of talk about the magnificent success of the prize bonds scheme. So it is. In my opinion it is an ideal way of securing investment in capital in this country. I wonder do Fianna Fáil backbenchers and the frontbenchers, who were in this House ten years ago, or rather who were not in this House ten years ago, remember what the Minister for Social Welfare said about Prize Bonds? Do they remember what the Minister for Social Welfare said about the Prize Bonds? Do they remember the speech by Deputy J. Brennan in this House when he deplored the introduction of Prize Bonds and said that we were going to run the country on raffles? It sounded well at the time. What does the Minister for Finance think of the raffles today? I think he is damned glad to have them. Were it not for the fact that Deputy Sweetman thought out that scheme of Prize Bonds, there would be a dearth of finance for capital investment in this country. So the raffle has rolled on and has now become a success and Deputy Brennan, the present Minister for Social Welfare, told us the other day how proud he was to be able to secure some small concessions from the Minister for Finance for distribution among the recipients of social welfare.

When we come to examine the Budget, apart from doles which are being dished out, where is the incentive for production in it? That is one of the things I always look for in a Budget, incentives to production. Let us take the small farmer and let me say at this stage that I personally welcome any concessions given to the small farmers; as I welcome any concessions given to the old age pensioners or the unfortunate person out of employment. I welcome all these concessions, but is there any incentive for the small farmer to increase production?

We are reducing the burden of his rates and saying to him: "That may induce you to stay on the land," but have we given him any capital incentive to increase production? The small farmer of £20 valuation or under, up to the present enjoyed 80 per cent derating. As the last speaker from Waterford pointed out, the additional 20 per cent is now being abolished. Do not forget that Fine Gael advocated some two or three years ago that there should be complete derating up to £25 poor law valuation and the Government said it was absolutely impossible, that it could not be done.

We now know how they did it. They got the idea from the Fine Gael policy, but, in the meantime, they found a method of procuring the money. They sent inspectors from the Valuation Office around the country and every farmer who did the slightest improvement, who carried out the slightest improvement on his farm buildings, his out-offices of his dwellinghouse had his valuation increased. I guarantee that any farmer with a poor law valuation of £20 and with any sort of reasonable dwellinghouse on his farm will pay as much in rates this coming year as he paid last year. In my own county, for instance, rates have gone up by over 5/- in the £. Admittedly, there has been a 20 per cent reduction by way of derating on agricultural land but the valuations have gone up plus an increase in rates and there will be very few farmers indeed who will pay less in rates in the coming year than they paid last year.

I remember when the former Deputy McGilligan as Minister for Finance, wanted to give concessions to the farmers, he tackled it in a completely different way. He subsidised fertilisers and ground limestone and made available capital for reclamation, drainage and other such schemes. That was an incentive to production as distinct from a dole to placate the farmer and to persuade him to remain on the land. There is no doubt if we enter the Common Market, and I pray God we will, one of the things we have to offer, our principal contribution, to the Common Market must be agriculture. Are we geared for that at the moment? Is there anything in this Budget, any incentive, to the farmers to increase production in anticipation of our entering the Common Market? I fail to see it.

This is a Budget, in so far as I am concerned, and in so far as the farmers are concerned, which merely asks people to hold on and hope that things will turn out all right. The method, as I have said before, of incentive to increase production was a better method than this method of dole. I can call it nothing else. There is a rates remission of 20 per cent. It is something which we wanted because it eases the burden on the farmer but then an incentive to production together with the easing of the burden is something which would be very good.

Fine Gael have advocated increased pensions for social welfare recipients and we welcome the increase given but we say it should have been given from the date of the Budget and not from a date later in the year. It is a peculiar coincidence that this year resembles last year in many ways. Last year we had a Presidential election; this year we have local elections. Last year we had two Budgets; this year we will have two Budgets. We had ante- and post-election Budgets. You will remember the ante-election Budget: it was not too bad. One of the things said was that the old age pensioner was to get an extra 5/-. When we came to examine that additional 5/- which was to be given to the old age pensioners, how many of them got it? When the Minister for Social Welfare was pressed, he informed us that that 5/- was merely for old age pensioners without means. When we came to examine what "without means" meant, some of us got a shock.

Perhaps, Sir, you will excuse me if I mention one case I know of a person looking for the additional 5/-. He had an intestacy interest in a four-acre farm on Tory Island. Wherever he will derive benefit from an intestacy interest in Tory Island beats me, but he had an intestacy interest there, on the barren rocks of Tory Island, and I am sorry to say that a man from my own county, the present Minister for Social Welfare, said that this pensioner could be classified as a man with means and would not qualify for the additional 5/- in old age pension.

The Minister for Finance has told us that old age pensioners will have free electricity; in other words, he said that the fixed charge will be abolished and they will have the first 100 units of electricity free. We examined that carefully and found out that it applies only to old age pensioners living alone. One must live alone to procure any benefit from the Budget in so far as electricity is concerned.

You see the dishonesty of these statements. At first glance, one would imagine that this was a magnificent scheme whereby all old age pensioners will have free electricity, but, as I said, when we examined it, we find they have to live alone. How many old people over 70 years of age can live alone? If they even bring in some distant relative to look after them and to reside with them, they are barred from free electricity.

Again we were told the old age pensioner would get free transport from CIE. It looks magnificent but, when we examine it, we find they will get free transport, except at peak hours. You can imagine a poor old age pensioner standing above on the South Circular Road waiting for a bus and being told: "Ah, this is a peak hour." There is a big influx into the bus; there is a football match somewhere on the south side of the city or, on the north side, a football match in Dalymount or Croke Park, and "You cannot have your free ride today; call again brother". These are the dishonest statements contained in this Budget, statements which when we examine them, do not give us the true picture of the benefits alleged to be bestowed on these unfortunate people.

Talking about unfortunates, the Minister for Finance is treasurer of two organisations: in addition to being treasurer of the people's purse, he is treasurer of an organisation called Gorta, the Freedom from Hunger organisation which collects pennies to assist the hungry in under-cultivated and starving countries—a very worthy project. But he is also treasurer of another organisation, of which he should be ashamed, that is Taca. What a difference in the two classes of people catered for by these organisations: the hungry, seeking the pennies to feed them; the other, the hungry for power, seeking £100 per plate for finance to feed their hunger. I am told on good authority, whether it is £100 per plate or per dinner, that you are handed a banker's order for six years; you are expected to sign it and contribute your £100 annually for a period of six years and that you cannot possibly get out of it. That is pure blackmail, nothing else. What a contrast: the Minister for Finance as treasurer of Taca and the Minister for Finance as Treasurer of Gorta. I shall not say any more about it but it is something for which he certainly deserves no credit.

One of the main sources of revenue this country, is taxation on spirits. It has been the traditional method of taxation since the early days of the century but there is such a thing as breaking the camel's back by the last straw and I am afraid the additional taxation the Minister has now imposed on spirits will not bring in the revenue he anticipates. Spirits were very heavily taxed last year and I understand that the consumption or sale of spirits last year fell by 50,000 proof gallons. If that continues, we shall have to find some alternative method of procuring excise to balance our Budget.

We in Fine Gael always believed that our three main industries were agriculture, fisheries and tourism. Let us look at these three industries and see what incentives are given in the Budget to increased activity in those fields. What incentive is there in the Budget to an increase in the fishing industry or to encourage the equitable distribution of fish at a reasonable price throughout the State? I respectfully say there is none. I know the amount of good that could be done by making available moneys for the building and purchase of bigger boats. Quite recently, in my own county, two magnificent fishing trawlers were procured by young men in Killybegs but they had to depend on a French hire purchase company for the capital for these boats, which were built in France. Would it not be much better if these boats could be built in this country and if capital concessions could be made to the builders. so that they could be sold to Irish fishermen at a reasonable price and at a nonexorbitant rate of interest? I shall not go into detail—because it is a matter which can be dealt with more appropriately on the Estimate—but I would like to say that sufficient moneys are not being made available in this Budget, in view of the decreasing value of money, for the development of our fisheries.

Then, again, take afforestation. I remember that when the first inter-Party Government came into power, we were planting something in the region of 4,000 acres per year in this State and the inter-Party Government set a target of 25,000 acres. It was not a very high target but still it was a big improvement on 4,000 acres, and they geared the industry to reach that target in a few years. I am very glad to say that the present Government continued on the basis of that target of 25,000 acres for a few years—it was reached a few years ago—but last year the target was dropped from 25,000 to 23,000 acres. That was a retrograde step; it was not progressive for I note that it is proposed to step up the acreage to 25,000 again. But, instead of bringing it up to the level the inter-Party Government anticipated, it should, in my opinion, have been considerably increased. At the moment, if it were for nothing but the labour content, it would be a most useful method of retaining workmen in rural Ireland.

We welcome the provision for tourism, as we welcome anything that is good in this Budget. I welcome the provision for farmhouse holidays, whereby grants will be made available to farmers to enable them to bring their houses up to the standard of guest-houses, to which visitors may come and spend a holiday, because I do believe that a holiday in a farmhouse is something a city person would be very glad to take advantage of as being most beneficial. Unfortunately, our climate is such that we cannot offer the beach life or facilities we could offer if we had more sunshine. I believe that a good healthy holiday in farm surroundings is difficult to beat. That is my candid opinion. I believe we can attract more and more tourists from across the water who would be most anxious to enjoy the hospitality offered by the farmer and his wife, particularly in the form of home farm produce.

I sincerely hope that the farmers who apply for these grants will not suffer the frustration that guesthouse owners and hotels suffer in seeking grants for the improvement of their premises—the delay, the grandiose schemes and the red tape. No person knows better than a farmer himself what amenities he should provide in his house. I believe that if he provides the amenity of running water and sanitation, a clean bed and good farm produce, his visitors will go away completely satisfied.

In attracting tourists to this country, we should look much more to the east and less to the west. Britain can supply a far greater influx of tourists than America. While Americans are welcome here, the English tourist is much more beneficial to the country generally. We should therefore spend more of our tourist propaganda funds in Britain. Every effort should be made to encourage tourists from the Common Market countries to visit here, and we should make available to them the amenities they seek—coarse fishing, sea fishing and such other pastimes, pleasures and hobbies as they require.

Senator Dr. Ryan, in introducing his first Budget here as Minister for Finance in 1957, got a cheer and a clap from the Fianna Fáil Party when he announced he was setting up a commission of inquiry into the working of the Civil Service. He went on to explain that he thought the Civil Service was overloaded, that there should be a reduction in the number of civil servants and that he proposed to set up the inquiry for that purpose. Mark you, he got a cheer not only from the backbenchers of Fianna Fáil but from all around the House.

The latest date in respect of which I could procure figures for the Civil Service is 16th March, 1966, nine years after the proposed inquiry was mentioned by the then Minister. On 1st January, 1957, the number of civil servants was 30,723. On 3rd January, 1966, that number had risen to 32,626 —and it is marked provisional—almost 2,000 more than ten years previously. The remuneration of civil servants had jumped from £15.26 million to £27.45 million. I never heard what became of the inquiry but those are the figures, ipse loquitur: it speaks for itself. We hear no mention in this Budget of any effort whatever to curb the numbers of the Civil Service. Something could and should be done about it. The Minister, being new in his Department, should take the initiative in this matter and endeavour to reduce the number of civil servants.

Again, it was last year or the year before that the Minister for Finance told us he was going to endeavour to reduce the rates burden and to find some alternative method, particularly in regard to the western counties, in order to reduce the burden of rates. Nothing has been done about it. On reading the estimates over the past two months, we find that the estimate for rates in all the western counties has increased by almost 25 per cent in the £, which is considerable. But no new thinking has been given to this matter.

Some time ago Deputy T.F. O'Higgins suggested that the health services should be taken from the local exchequer and made a country at large charge. He said it could be done by a contribution from the employer, the employee and the State. That suggestion was tabooed by Fianna Fáil, although the present Minister for Health said some time ago it was worthy of consideration and he would look into it. The time to look into that is before the rates are struck and before a Budget is introduced, so that something good may be secured for the unfortunate ratepayer. I believe health services are costing the rates in the neighbourhood of 32/- in the £. I was in this House when Dr. Ryan, the then Minister for Health, introduced the Health Act and told us it would cost approximately 2/- in the £. If the Minister for Health is going to have a look at it, this is the time to do it, before the national bill for the year is totted up and before the local rates have been struck.

Some time ago the Minister for Education announced free transport for all children attending secondary and technical schools. Quite recently I have had letters from him saying his decision in this matter in respect of certain areas has been postponed until 1st September. That is typical of the promises of the present Minister. When he was Minister for Health, he promised us a free health service. He has left that scheme in abeyance in such a way that many dispensary districts at the moment have not got dispensary doctors. Then he announced, as Minister for Education, a free school transport scheme, free education in secondary schools and, the latest, the marriage of two universities.

I do not see any provision in the Estimates for this shotgun marriage— incidentally a marriage which I, personally, welcome very much indeed. I do not see any provision for it in the Minister's Budget. The Budget has been introduced before the Minister made his announcement. Surely an announcement of such importance to the State would not have been made overnight, without due consideration having been given to it, which the Minister said was given to it at Government level? If that is so, some provision should have been made in the Budget for whatever moneys to which this marriage may commit the State.

I have mentioned local rates and national taxation. The ESB is another quasi-State body which is causing a blister on consumers. We all know about the increases which have been imposed during the past year and of the lack of incentive to consumers to take advantage of this amenity of light and power which should be given to them and of which they should make more use. I wonder if these quasi-State bodies like CIE and the ESB do not deserve more attention by Government auditors, or should consultants be called in to advise on the more economic running of these bodies. It is most peculiar that CIE has a monopoly of road transport and road haulage, and never appears to be a paying concern. In my county, Donegal, the monopoly in the greater part of the county is given to a very small company known as the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway Company. They run without Government subsidy of any description and give an amenity to the most remote parts of the county. They give, in my opinion, one of the best services in this State, and each year they are able to pay a dividend of five per cent.

I often wonder would it have been worth while to send some of our top-ranking executives to Donegal to find out how the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway Company can so economically run their transport services and set a headline for the rest of the country. From inquiries I have made, I have found they have not had a strike for years. I hear no great outcries against their charges. Their personnel are more than content in their employment, and certainly their shareholders should be with a dividend of five per cent.

While we all welcome quasi-State bodies, we should not just accept them as such. We should ensure that they are more than a social service. If looked after properly, they might become an economic proposition. Having established them with the public purse, we have been tempted to hand them over to public servants to run them, without due regard to the know-how of those public servants. I am not here to criticise individuals and I do not wish to do so. Some of the persons who are the top executives of the quasi-State companies are my best friends and men for whom I have nothing but respect. However, while they may be top-class in their own sphere, merely on their educational qualifications, they have been pushed into jobs of which they have no technical knowledge, and the ratepayers funds are—I would not say deliberately squandered—not being spent in the best possible manner.

Generally speaking, when Budgets are introduced here, two of the topics usually referred to in passing, if I may say so, are the restoration of the Irish language and the Border. This Budget is notable for the fact that neither is mentioned. Now that I do come to mention the Border, may I refer to a very subtle move which the Government carried out prior to the coming into force of the Free Trade Area Agreement with Britain? For some considerable time before 1st July last it was apparent—and the Government knew—that this Free Trade Area Agreement was about to be entered into, but a short time before that, the Revenue Commissioners, at the behest of the Government, stepped up the duty on many imports which were to be reduced by ten per cent as on and from 1st July last. Had those original duties remained static instead of being stepped up, these commodities would now be imported into this country much cheaper than they are, with the result that we would have a greater outcry about the loss of employment in Dunlops and many other concerns throughout the State. The Government resorted to this subtle method of evading the actual terms of the Trade Agreement with Britain. I do not think I should go into it any further in case it would have repercussions. but it was a mean trick; it was one that should not have been resorted to, and it was a most misleading trick so far as the people of this country are concerned.

There is nothing further I wish to say on the Budget other than to repeat what I said at the beginning, that there is no incentive in it. There is absolutely no incentive to the farmer, merely a dole to him to say: "Stay put and hope for the best." There is no incentive to the industrialist. While we welcome the concessions given to the recipients of social welfare benefits, there is no more incentive in it to any person to produce more to add to the total national income of the State than there was after the second Budget last year. I describe this Budget merely as I described the first Budget of last year, an ante-election Budget, and God look to us when the post-election Budget comes to us next October.

Having listened to this debate over the past two weeks. I want to compliment the Minister for Finance on the manner in which he introduced his first Budget. I want also to compliment the Government and the Fianna Fáil Party on making available the necessary moneys to give to the needy section of our community the benefits which they deserve, and which they have been receiving over a long number of years from the Fianna Fáil Government. Because of lack of money, we were unable to give these people the increases everyone believes they should get and I hope this is but the beginning of further increases for these people.

I congratulate Fine Gael speakers because there is no doubt that they all welcome the increases given in this Budget to the social welfare classes. Despite that, however, when it came to voting for the taxation necessary to implement these increases, Fine Gael went into the division lobby and voted against, thereby giving people to understand that they are against these increases for social welfare recipients.

With regard to the old age pensioners, ours is a young State and we have never been able to give them all the assistance we would like to give them. So long as Fianna Fáil remain in office, however, it will be our duty to allocate all the money we can to help the aged, the infirm and the necessitous amongst us. The worker of today will be the pensioner of tomorrow and any contribution he makes now towards pensions for the less well-off will be returned one-hundredfold when he himself comes to draw a pension.

I am glad Fine Gael speakers welcomed these increases though there were quite a number of "buts" and "ands". Reference was made to the date of implementation. Fine Gael forget their short term in office during which the old age pensioners were pushed aside.

I welcome the introduction of free electricity for old age pensioners. That will certainly be a boon in rural districts. It will of course benefit the city pensioner, too, but the position of the latter is never quite so desolate as may be the position of the pensioner in rural areas. Pensioners in the city do not lack society: pensioners in the country may live remote from centres of population.

Free travel is a definite benefit. It will be interesting to discover what exactly are the peak hours. We all have our own ideas about this. Deputy P. O'Donnell raised an interesting point when he asked if busy days, days on which there is a big match, the Spring Show, or something like that, will be regarded as peak travel hours. Will there be days such as this on which old age pensioners will not be able to avail of free transport? If there is any difficulty, I am sure it will be overcome.

The Minister and the Government are to be congratulated on making another £5 million available for agriculture. Opposition Deputies have asked where will this £5 million go. How will the farmer derive any benefit from it? Having agricultural inclinations myself, I fully appreciate the benefits the farmer will derive. Complete derating on valuations up to £20 will be a tremendous advantage to the small farmer, particularly the small farmer in the West. I believe this is welcomed by the farming community generally.

The merger between Erin Foods and Heinz will be another great advantage. It has been said that, as a result of this merger, the agricultural community will be in a better position in future from the point of view of producing more vegetables. That will be an advantage, but, if it is to be availed of to the full, some assistance will have to be given to farmers to enable them to purchase fertilisers. There is a grant in operation but that grant is not being directed to the farmer. It is absorbed by the manufacturers. Last year there was a fertiliser, 8668, selling at £22 per ton. Now there is a new fertiliser, known as 10-10-20 which is selling at £32 a ton. The farmer will produce the same amount but at a dearer price. Costs of production in agriculture have increased so much that it is difficult to visualise the farmer paying this increased price for fertiliser without some assistance from the Government.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.