Having heard Deputy Dillon referring to the cameraman in the hall, I am not surprised having read and heard the many comments over the weekend that this was an election Budget brought in by Fianna Fáil because of a general election.
It should be remembered, as the Taoiseach said last Saturday night, that in 1965, immediately after the general election of that year, Fianna Fáil, in their Budget, increased old age pensions by 10s a week. It is nothing new for Fianna Fáil to look after the poorer sections of the community. Compare this with 10 years of Cumann na nGaedheal or Fine Gael Government from 1922 to 1932 and six years of Coalition Government made up of Labour and Fine Gael. In those 16 years the total increase was approximately five shillings and I do not think I am making allowance for deductions. Divide that up and it would take the Coalition Parties approximately 32 years to give the same benefits that Fianna Fáil have given in this Budget. Much reference has been made to the fact that, this being an election year and Fianna Fáil wanting to get back to power—which they must; there is not anybody else to take over from them —there will be a mini- or a maxiBudget again.
We had two mini-Budgets or maxi-Budgets—whichever you like to call them: the proper word, of course, is "autumn" Budget—in the past four years. There were good reasons why we had those autumn Budgets. One was that in 1965 there was a demand from the creamery milk suppliers for an increase in the price of milk. At that time the Minister put 2d on cigarettes to give 2d a gallon on milk. We had an autumn Budget last year due to the big round of salary and wage increases which had been agreed to and which had to be paid to those in the public service.
If some people say there will be an autumn Budget this year, they must say why. In this Budget the money to provide the services and to provide the increases in social welfare and health is marked in black and white in the Budget Statement and the records of the House and, therefore, I want the people who say there will be an autumn Budget to say why. For what purpose? Is it to give an increase in the price of milk? Is it to increase social welfare benefits further? If they say that, we may believe there is something in what they are talking about. Unless they are able to tell us why we need an autumn Budget, there can be no autumn Budget.
Last Thursday I referred to the beef and cattle incentive bonus scheme. This was one of the best incentive schemes ever introduced to keep people away from milk. In my own constituency— and particularly in the Carlow end of it where there is mixed farming: some of them are in milk, some of them are in beef, and some of them are in tillage to a great extent as compared with other counties—there was a very strong trend for people to go out of sheep and go into milk because it was plainly said that this was the profitable end of farming. This beef and cattle incentive scheme put a halt to that.
There is one little snag which I should like the Minister to mention to his colleagues. It has been traditional for the woman down the road to go to the farmer for three or four pints of milk a day and, under the conditions laid down in this incentive scheme, if this person goes to the farm and buys four pints of milk a day, the farmer cannot qualify for the £12 grant. I can see that you could call this being in commercial milk. I agree that no man who ties a trailer to his car and goes down the road selling milk from house to house should qualify. He is selling commercially. He might as well be selling to the creamery. I would ask that the regulation would be waived slightly to allow the farmer who traditionally supplied milk to the woman down the road to continue to do that. I cannot see that there would be a big problem to be got over. As I say, I would not include people who are selling milk here and there. My reason for saying this is that in some areas, even in my own county which is not very remote, there are small crossroad shops where bottled milk is not available, and where it might be a hardship if people had to go two miles to the nearest village to collect bottled milk. I would ask the Minister to see his colleague, the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, in that connection.
We all know that many increases and many incentive schemes for farmers have been introduced from time to time, but there is one section of the farming community which is now suffering a little, if not much, that is, the small farmers who have got additions to their holdings from the Land Commission. The rent per acre in certain cases where the price of land has rocketed is now approximately £12, Take the man who has 21 acres and gets an additional 20 acres from the Land Commission. He has to pay £10 per acre for it and that is £200. That is a far greater hardship than the rates. I sincerely hope we will soon revert to the practice whereby the annuity will be halved in these cases.
Perhaps, one of the reasons why we do not hear too much about this is that we have not got sufficient numbers to join in normal protests. This is an era of protests, be they by the young, the old, farmers, businessmen or trade unions. There are not sufficient of those small farmers who are paying £200 per annum for 20 acres of land, apart from their rates or anything else. This should be considered by the Department of Lands. I do not think the amount of money involved would be great. Judging by some of the questions asked in the Dáil at various times. the amount of money would not be great, but it would relieve those farmers who are hit hard by this penal taxation.
We all know that the small farmer who had 21 acres and got an additional 20 acres, is trying to build up capital and stock to make his farm economic, and it is very rough on him to have to look forward, for the rest of his life, to paying this £200 per year.
I referred generally to social welfare last Thursday. Deputy Tully was on television with Senator Garret Fitz-Gerald and the Minister for Education last Friday night. He said that the contribution from the worker and the employer will be increased next January and that there was nothing about this in the Budget Statement. The very fact that it is a contributory scheme means that people who will benefit will contribute something towards it, whether it is 1s or 1s 2d. A worker said to me last Sunday after Mass: "I am prepared to pay 2s to get benefit for myself and my wife if I become ill, or am injured at work, or when I am getting the old age pension."
By contributing this 1s per week a worker will get for himself and his wife—we will assume there is no family —£1 per week in additional benefit. Surely that is a good refund for a contribution of 1s per week. It is not commonly known—actually I heard a parliamentarian saying it at one time— that the contribution from the worker and the employer pays the total cost of the contributory fund. From the statistics which the Minister for Social Welfare has given us, we know that one-third of the contributory pension is paid by the State, one-third by the employer and approximately one-third by the employee. In the case of the non-contributory pension 100 per cent is borne by the State.
As the Minister for Social Welfare is in the House, I should like to mention something to him in connection with the free television and free electricity scheme. I am referring to a case where the old age pensioner is 73 and his wife is 68. They are living alone. He has got free electricity and a free television licence. He dies and, on his death, his wife must again pay for electricity. I know it can be said: "Where is it to end? The wife could be 40 years of age and she could remarry and where would it end?" In the case where the widow is over 60 and her husband had been getting free electricity and a free television licence, she should continue to get them, provided she is living alone and complies with the regulations as laid down at present. I would ask the Minister to consider cases of that kind.
The cost of administration was referred to in general by the Minister in his Budget Statement. Indeed, the increase in the cost of the administration of the various schemes must worry any parliamentarian and anyone who is associated with public life. Last year in his Budget Statement the Minister said he was considering the introduction of a means test for children's allowances. I would say that if you introduced a means test for children's allowances, by the time a social welfare officer would go down the country and count the chickens, the cattle and the cows, find out how many children were in the house, allow for, say, five children and then allow for only four when one reaches 16 and so on, what the Minister would save by way of a means test would be lost in administration. The income tax provision in respect of children's allowances will save about £400,000 in one year. This is a very well devised scheme which does credit to the Minister and his advisers.
Another provision in the social welfare code which was mentioned in the Budget and which did not get a great deal of publicity was the legislation the Minister for Social Welfare introduced some time ago in respect of a scheme of retirement pensions for insured workers at 65 and a pension for the worker who has an illness of long duration. This is a desirable feature in the social welfare code and we welcome it.
Tourism will, we hope, pass the £100 million mark this year. Over the weekend tourism got a great boost with the arrival in Ireland of General de Gaulle, that great French soldier and statesman. We must compliment the press and the public who have honoured his wish for a quiet and peaceful holiday. I wonder would you, a Cheann Comhairle, when he returns to France, send him a good wish on behalf of the Oireachtas.