Skip to main content
Normal View

Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 13 May 1969

Vol. 240 No. 7

Committee on Finance. - Resolution No. 13—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.)

This Budget expresses in concrete terms the Government's desire to assist the lower-paid workers. In a stable and expanding economy the Government have decided it is possible to make the concessions that have been provided in this Budget. We have in the Minister for Finance a far-sighted and forward-thinking Minister who is ever-conscious of the problems and needs of the poorer sections of the community.

The Third Programme indicates that the Department of Labour will carry out a detailed investigation to identify lower-paid workers by occupation, area, sex, age group, and try to discover the main reasons for such low pay. The fact that the Minister is arranging for the survey is a clear indication that the Third Programme is getting under way. The items outlined will be fully explored and every effort will be made to ensure that the targets set are achieved.

There was a very favourable reaction throughout the country to the various increases given in the Budget. There was a great appreciation of the broad basis on which the Minister granted the benefits. The Federation of Irish Industries stated they regarded the Budget as a responsible one in which emphasis was placed on social welfare. The Irish Times in its leader stated:

The Minister for Finance decided that "the Budget this year must play an important part in establishing a sensible policy for incomes by coming to the aid, in a very positive way, of the lower-paid worker section."

The Minister is to be congratulated on giving assistance where assistance is most needed. The Budget should not in itself mean an increase in prices. However, it is noticeable that one or two newspapers and one or two individuals have mentioned that prices will increase in some sectors. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, together with the Minister for Finance, should keep a strict eye on price increases.

Our price structure for consumer goods is very unrealistic. Prices should be brought down so that housewives of the weaker sections that we have assisted will be able to gain some advantage. We see every day in the press gimmicks like caravans, teddy bears, holidays in Spain, cash prizes and so on being given away by various manufacturers. Some of these prizes are distributed in a very unfair way. They can be directed into areas where sales are weak. That is a very dishonest and unsatisfactory system whereby the price structure of goods is affected and the housewife can be fooled into buying the products in the belief that there will be a prize around the corner. In the tea trade, for instance, we see a variety of gimmicks. It is unfortunate that one company has to follow another and force up the price of goods to pay for the offers that have been made. A full investigation must be made into these lotteries in order to ensure that housewives in the weaker sections of the community have not to pay for the offers that can be and are directed into certain areas in order to boost sales. An offer from a cigarette company says: "A cash bonus for smokers. Despite the tax increase the price remains at 4s 6d for 20. Come over to this particular brand and do not give 4d to the taxman." Either this is an honest advertisement or it is an indication that there has been overcharging. If this manufacturer is absorbing the Budget increase then he deserves great credit, but to my way of thinking there must have been overcharging if a manufacturer is able to absorb the increase. It can also mean that other manufacturers are overcharging because they are not absorbing the increase. It is either one or the other. We should have a careful look into this question of advertising. Consumers all over the country should pay the same price for the same product.

A recent tour of supermarkets over the weekend showed detergents priced at 3s 1d offered at 2s 3d, 10d off. To my mind, there is something phony in that; cornflakes, 10d off a product priced at 2s 3d; cakes, 8d off a 2s 3d product; hairdressing, 9d and 1s off a 2s 6d product; toothpaste, 11d off a 3s 6d product. No retailer could afford to sell products at these prices unless the profit margin is so great that it allows him to do so. I believe there must be overcharging in the manufacturers' suggested retail prices. Prices should be brought down to a realistic level and machinery should be put in motion to ensure that gimmicks designed to tempt the housewife will be prohibited. All commodities should be available to all consumers at fair and reasonable prices.

These are not the only items noted over the weekend. There is something very strange in the biscuit situation. How could any manufacturer afford to give the substantial concessions offered in regard to biscuits? The amount of money pumped into advertising is out of all proportion. This money should be utilised for the purpose of reducing the price of biscuits. We saw the large amount of advertising spent on the Jim Figgerty campaign. It would appear to me that, while Jacobs may have the know-how——

The Deputy should not introduce names of individuals or firms into the debate.

Jim Figgerty is not a firm.

The Deputy has just mentioned Jacobs.

Fair enough. I think biscuits are a racket because of the enormous amount of advertising in relation to certain products. They are able to get certain commodities into certain types of biscuits and they are also able to extract out of the house-wife's purse substantial amounts which should not be extracted from her. The time has come when we must have a look at this advertising of products and the cost of the products advertised. We see the wrappers with 2d, 4d and 6d off. Off what? This is a dishonest effort to push up prices to the detriment of stability of prices. I would ask the Minister to investigate these items in which these reductions are offered. There must be dishonesty somewhere. We have the giant sized packets with the dwarf sized tubes. There must be a realistic price structure and prices must not be based on gimmicks.

Some brands of petrol are selling at 3½d and 5d a gallon less than other brands with the same octane rating. There must be something wrong here. Petrol companies with smaller sales have cheaper petrol. It should be the other way round. There should be an investigation into the price of petrol. Tyres, remoulds and new, 15 to 20 per cent less in some garages; the position is the same with regard to batteries. The motorist should be assured that no undue increases are being passed on to him and he should be assured of the justification for every increase. I believe the petrol companies could absorb some of the increase now passed on to the consumer. A garage grading scheme should be introduced in order to ensure reasonable service and a reasonable standard of service.

A review of the situation in regard to fruit and vegetables should result in a decrease in prices. That would help the lower income group. Somewhere between the producer and the consumer there are a great many highwaymen extracting large sums. It is the weaker sections who are hit the hardest, the very sections we are trying to help in this Budget. It is only right that the responsible Minister should take immediate action in regard to prices for the benefit of those weaker sections of our community. One can buy apples and pears for 4d each outside any football pitch. The same apples and pears in a shop beside the pitch cost 8d or 10d. The quality may not be identical, but I believe the margin of profit is out of all proportion. I would ask the House to have a look at this.

I come now to the extensive television coverage by way of advertisement for lager, spirits of one type or another, detergents and, in the past, cigarettes. These represent expenses for the housewife. I challenge some of the outrageous claims by detergent manufacturers in their television advertisements. They have reached the stage where, by an examination, prices could be reduced and this would further assist the section of our community which we have so ably assisted in the Budget.

We should make a very special plea to our people on this occasion to buy Irish goods: it is necessary and desirable. To maintain employment at home and, indeed, to extend employment at home, each and every person within the State should help by purchasing more Irish goods. Not only would this ensure more people in employment here but it would put more money into circulation. Then, when some future Minister for Finance would call upon any particular section of the community to make money available, we would have a greater yield because of our own efforts.

I noted, the other day, that some 30 million Christmas cards were sold here last year—90 per cent of which were imported. The average family spends approximately 18s on Christmas cards. If they spent an extra 5s on Irish-made Christmas cards it would mean an extra 300 people employed in the industry here. We should impress upon the public the necessity to purchase goods of Irish manufacture. As far as possible, we should get away from the outlets that are both producers and retailers because, at the moment, some of the products they are selling are questionable. I hope this matter will be followed up to ensure that whatever advantages can be passed on will be passed on by way of price reduction and that, through the purchase of Irish-made goods, we shall have an increase in the volume of employment, thereby making available more money for the Minister for Finance when he calls upon sections to "produce the goods".

I want to say a word about incomes. I congratulate the Minister on making available a tax relief. Small as it is, it will be of assistance. Following the Third Programme for Economic Expansion, the Minister for Labour has already set the machinery in motion. The Minister for Finance has done his part to assist the lower-paid worker: I have a deep interest in and the greatest sympathy for that section of our community. At all times, they are the victims. Every single sixpence or shilling increase they receive is taken into account in this city in the assessment of rents and in other ways. On the other hand, people in the upper income bracket, who have fantastic salaries, are cushioned so far as expenses are concerned. I read in one of yesterday's papers about a man with an income of £9,000 per annum who cribbed because he was losing £11 on the increased children's allowances. I do not know how that poor fellow manages to exist at all with his income of £9,000 per annum in view of that reduction of £11. As I say, that particular type of individual, and others in a slightly lower income bracket, is cushioned against overheads through expense accounts, business holidays, transport allowances, meal allowances and many other benefits.

May be we should have a very severe look at this particular section of the community to ensure that the benefits that are passed on from the development of our prosperity reach the lower-paid worker in the same proportion as those people in the upper income brackets. Possibly the bulk of the income of some of those persons is not taxable at all. Therefore, we should have a very severe look at the higher-paid income groups. I do not begrudge a man having a yacht, a race-horse, an interest in a golf club, and so on. He can have all these things but he must realise his responsibility to the other sections of the community and share out with the people who are really doing the work— the man on the floor who is doing the dirty work.

I want to welcome the small allowances given to the man who has no expense account, to the man whose every rise is syphoned-off by the local authority, if he lives in Dublin in a Corporation house, for example. Incomes and prices are two important factors in this community. Every effort should be made to ensure a square deal for the lower-paid worker—some-thing he has not been getting in the past. I am speaking now not merely for unskilled and the semi-skilled worker but also for the clerical worker and, in some cases, the craftsman. For too long, many of them have been receiving too little.

Coming now to the benefits the Minister is giving, the children's allowances will certainly make up in some way for the backward situation in which many people have found themselves over the years. A person with a very high income who may have to pay some money now as a result of the new framework of the children's allowances system really has nothing to crib about so far as the small reduction he will sustain is concerned. It is indeed remarkable that a man with a high income should have a grievance such as that of the man I mentioned who is getting somewhere around £9,000 per annum.

We must bear in mind that it was Fianna Fáil who introduced the children's allowances and that, down through the years, Fianna Fáil have always tried to ensure the provision of a satisfactory welfare policy. We have always been to the forefront with increases and improvements of one kind or another in social welfare benefits. On this occasion, the increases were substantial and that is in keeping with Fianna Fáil social welfare history. In the expanding and stable economy which we now enjoy, and with the various programmes outlined by Fianna Fáil, I trust our social welfare benefits will increase as the years go by to the level where the lower-paid worker will have no reason to complain.

The pension increases for non-contributory old age pensioners have been reasonable and we hope they will be still greater, according as our economy expands and our productive efforts enable us to do so. I am positive that this progressively improving assistance to the weaker sections of the community will continue for a long time. It has been happening since 1957, particularly in the case of the social welfare groups.

It was interesting to read the comment of Deputy T.F. O'Higgins after he had welcomed the improvements in children's allowances. He said: "They broke their heart with the 10s increase to old age pensioners." A lot of old age pensioners had broken hearts when they got tenpence a week when Deputy O'Higgins and his Coalition colleagues were in power. Many of them died bordering on starvation because of the increases these gentlemen gave them. On two occasions they gave average increases of tenpence to old age pensioners only, disregarding all other social welfare groups.

Deputy Corish welcomed the increase in the old age pensions but he said he could not imagine the lower-paid workers going wild. How wild did they go on tenpence a week? He was Minister for Social Welfare when the old age pensioners got that increase. Is this to be their socialism of the future, tenpence a week? Old age pensioners will not go wild if they get into power. When they had a majority here, the best Coalition groups could do was to increase old age pensions by tenpence a week and to disregard children's allowances and allowances to other social welfare groups.

On television, Deputy James Tully said that contributory pensions must be paid for. Of course, they must be paid for—everything must be paid for. I am glad to note that Fine Gael and Labour Members in the Dáil acted more responsibly than their members in the Dublin City Council. Here, at least, for the first time in ten years they measured up to their responsibilities in regard to the Budget provisions. They learned a lesson from their city council colleagues who refused to make money available to provide services for the weaker sections, for the people who not alone required additional income to purchase the necessaries of life, but who also required drugs and medical services of one kind or another and of which these gentlemen in the city council tried to deprive them.

I welcome the provision which removes the stamp duty from first purchase grant houses. It is a positive proof that the Government mean business in the matter of assisting young people who wish to purchase their own homes. It is a desirable step but it has not been referred to very often during the debate. The duration of the period for the operation of the free fuel scheme for necessitous persons has been extended from October to April and the Minister is to be congratulated on it. It shows his deep concern for old people in need of warmth during the winter months in Dublin city. The pressure brought to bear by me and by other Fianna Fáil Deputies in relation to this service has borne fruit and we welcome it heartily. If we couple this with the various other additional benefits this Budget provides for the old, these people can look forward to more decent standards in the future than have been provided in the past by mere promises. They can now look forward to improving benefits as prosperity increases in our expanding economy.

Public service pensioners also have got increases. Every Member of this Party has spoken about them and has made representations about them in recent years. I am particularly glad to notice the increases granted to those among them who are in greatest need, the longest retired.

Disabled persons have been given a concession in the form of 350 gallons of petrol per year free of the 4s duty in respect of their adapted vehicles. This was long overdue. The Minister could not have singled out a more deserving section of the community. This concession will lighten the burden of many disabled persons who had to travel distances on these vehicles. Most of them do not enjoy high salary or wage rates.

The Minister is also to be congratulated on improving old IRA pensions and on giving funeral grants in respect of men in receipt of special allowances. Many of those men who had served their country wisely and well received many knocks during their lives. Many of them became incapacitated and lost their businesses and their jobs as a result of their efforts during dark and difficult years. I am glad also that the Minister on this occasion remembered the widows of public servants who died before July, 1968, and who were not eligible under the pension scheme. Deputy Celia Lynch has fought for these people on many occasions and has impressed on us the need to support their justifiable claims.

The Minister did not forget the young people. He has made £100,000 available to promote recreational facilities of a sporting nature. This was long overdue. It is widely welcomed in my area, in the surrounding areas and I know that the portion of the amount that will come our way will be spent wisely and well on promoting sporting facilities for young people. Not sufficient emphasis has been placed in the past on the need for promoting recreational facilities. Much of the vandalism that has developed could be eliminated by a more active participation by each and every one of us in the affairs of young people rather than in an expression of condemnation of young people for what is sometimes termed irresponsible conduct when it is not so. We should assist these people in the manner in which the Minister has visualised they should be assisted, keep them out of bad company and assist in developing in them a better outlook towards life. Not only now but in the past has the Minister displayed an interest in this important section, our young people, and now that the ice has been broken I hope further concessions will be made so that we can eliminate the irresponsible section of our youth and segregate them from those who have no desire to participate in irresponsible activities.

There is also a very generous gesture from the Minister in regard to assisting employers to provide facilities for their employees by way of swimming pools, halls and tennis courts. This is a desirable step and it has generally been welcomed by responsible employers who have been making and will continue to make amenities available for their workers. These and the other concessions, which taken together are fairly comprehensive, have received fairly widespread support and I am quite sure that we can largely discount the few groans that we heard in the Dáil about the Budget, and from some people outside, who have vested interests.

Deputy Dillon made an attack on office block construction. I am very glad that the Minister has had due regard to the development of office blocks and has taxed this development. On the other hand, office blocks are desirable and necessary in order to ensure that workers in this city will no longer have to work in dark and dismal dungeons. We know that far too many employers have unfortunate trade unionists in clerical grades working in such dungeons and in insanitary and foul conditions. The office blocks which have been erected provide a very useful service and have in no way interfered with the development of the housing programme. We are aware of that from the assessments given to us by the people who are investing, that the money would be diverted not into the development of houses, but into other developments. It is necessary that we should have some development and this is a worthy development which is doing something to assist our weaker sections. We have in the city many employers who are now showing retributor gard for their workers and giving them the facilities to which they are justly entitled. If that is the only service they provide it is a very valuable service.

I should like to compliment, too, those Government agencies which have taken over office blocks. Why should State employees not have the best possible accommodation? Why should they have to operate in foul and filthy dungeons? Departments which have taken over office blocks and improved the lot of their workers have done something which is very desirable. The many employers who have taken over office blocks deserve a vote of thanks for looking after their workers, many of whom have been deprived of proper accommodation for so long. Recently the Second Stage of the Health Bill was passed in this House and this Bill is a further indication of our desire to assist the weaker sections of the community. The Bill is an expression in concrete terms of our desire to cater in a detailed way for those sections. The Bill proposes to abolish the dispensary system.

This does not arise on the Financial Resolution. We cannot discuss the Health Bill.

It must be paid for.

It does not arise on the Financial Resolution.

In relation to improvements in the health services which must be paid for by taxation—and we are demanding additional services— due regard has been taken in this proposed taxation and will be taken in future taxation. Additional services are being provided in regard to home help, the dispensary system is being abolished and there are other provisions regarding drugs and medicines and the choice of doctor, all of which will have to be paid for at some stage. We are assuring the people in a very positive way that every section of the community in need of aid is receiving it. In addition, legislation is to be introduced for a limited scheme for retired workers at 65, to which the Minister for Social Welfare referred earlier today, and there are various other proposals including one for pay related unemployment disability benefits.

In recent times the Department of Local Government have provided for the payment of rates by instalments and there is a flexible form of rates relief for necessitous persons, so that the emphasis all the time is on the weaker sections. This Department is examining other recommendations of the inter-departmental committee in conjunction with a review of the structure of local government. This, again, will assist, by way of housing and the other services that will be developed, the weaker sections. It was also heartening to note that the Minister said that the Minister for Social Welfare was examining how to provide financial assistance in this year's Social Welfare Bill to assist mothers and families who have been deserted by the fathers. The emphasis all along in legislation that was brought before the Dáil and which is before the Dáil and in the concessions in the Budget is a clear indication of the Government's desire that every possible effort be made to assist this section of the people.

Finally, I want to express my satisfaction to the Minister. Satisfaction has already been expressed by all responsible sections of the community. The only dissenting voice came from the few crows flying around this place. When these people had an opportunity to make a substantial contribution towards helping the weaker sections they failed to do so. They are good at talking but talk is cheap and it is what they do when in power that counts. Again, I congratulate the Minister. The nation needs a forward-thinking socially-minded man such as the Minister. We, in Fianna Fáil, are proud of him. I hope he will remain long in office and I have no reason to doubt that, when the people have an opportunity to do so, they will endorse the policies that have been put forward by him as Minister and by the Government as a whole.

Deputy Dowling, on behalf of Fianna Fáil, has just said that he is very proud of the Minister for Finance and that we are lucky to have him. Personally, I think we should be ashamed of the Minister, particularly on his performance in the past six weeks. Fianna Fáil should also feel ashamed of him or any other Minister who would behave in the same way. He went on television and radio, in his responsible position as Minister, to announce to the nation rather less than six weeks ago that the country was in a serious crisis and needed the help of all sections of the community. I saw and heard him on television and from his expression and the statements he made, which he said were of the utmost importance to every citizen, I felt—and I still feel—that the country was in a crisis. What would happen was the talk of the people in their homes and in the pubs and everywhere they went.

I spoke to some banking people who accepted the statement, coming as it did from the Minister for Finance, that the country was in a serious position. It is a shocking thing for a Minister for Finance to go on television and warn the people who have elected his Government of a serious crisis and then come into this House less than six weeks afterwards and say that the country is booming and that we have had the best year in our lives. Surely a man who acts in such an irresponsible fashion is not worthy to hold office? Public confidence in the Minister and the Government has been shaken and I plead with him to go to the Leader of his Party and ask him to dissolve the Dáil and go to the country because nobody in future will pay any attention to the utterances of a man capable of saying and doing what he has said and done. It is a sad day for the country when we have such people in high office.

We must remember that the majority of citizens, regardless of their political views, have always, since the foundation of the State, listened attentively to the pronouncements of successive Ministers for Finance and Leaders of the Government. In general they were inclined to believe that people in responsible office should be listened to, even though one might not necessarily agree with their views. When you have a situation in which a Minister announces a financial crisis and gives it shock treatment in a sort of emergency situation on radio and television and then goes back on it in five or six weeks, it is a scandalous thing.

On the occasion of the last general election we recall the slogans: "Let Lemass Lead On to Prosperity." We were told that prosperity was around the corner and all that was necessary was to elect Deputy Séan Lemass and his Party and everything would be right. Fianna Fáil got into power at that time and have continued in power until now but the then Taoiseach, Deputy Lemass, used the same tactics as the present Minister for Finance adopted on recent occasions and gave vent to the same type of expression. He told the people before an election that the country was prosperous and everything in the garden was rosy; that there were thousands of new jobs to be created. It would be impossible for one to repeat all the promises that were made so generously and lavishly. Only a short time afterwards Deputy Lemass came into the House and announced that the country was in a crisis and instead of "leading on" he took a back seat and handed over his job to Deputy Lynch, the present Taoiseach. That was a difficult assignment in view of the situation created by his predecessor.

The Irish people expect and desire something better than that. Deputy Dowling paid well-deserved tribute to Old IRA men who served this country in dark and difficult days and served it well. Many of them laid down their lives; they were not afraid to take risks. They were not afraid to face the Black and Tans. As Deputy Dillon said earlier, they did as generations before them did for hundreds of years, but I am sure they never visualised a situation in which people in high places would come into the Parliament of the nation and contradict, word for word, everything they had said six weeks previously. How can we expect that ordinary investors, big and small, to whom the Government appeal day in and day out to support loans, the prize bond scheme and various enterprises that are absolutely necessary, to invest their money in a country in which there are such people at the top who, not alone are not capable of telling the truth but are telling deliberate falsehoods? Then we have parades and marches to the graves of our national heroes, who served the country well, and wreaths being laid on the graves.

I do not think the Deputy should impute deliberate falsehood.

I do not know any other word to use. I leave it to the Irish people to judge whether the Minister for Finance misled the people or whether he told the truth on both of the occasions that I have referred to. Certainly, the statements were contradictory. On the second occasion, when he spoke in this House, he contradicted everything he had said on radio and television. I suggest, with respect, that that is a terrible thing for a Minister for Finance to do. I repeat, it is hard to expect that Irish people, business people, farmers and others, who, through their own efforts, may have saved small sums of money, would be prepared to invest in loans or other State schemes when appealed to by persons such as the present Minister for Finance. I do not think that they will be prepared to do it because our people, or the majority of them, expect honesty and integrity in people in high places, and when they are disappointed and let down to the extent to which they have been let down on this occasion they will think twice before investing when Ministers make appeals.

It is no pleasure to me to have to say these things in this House. Quite frankly, it hurts me to say them. The only solution to the problem is for the Taoiseach, in this very week, to dissolve Dáil Éireann and give the people an opportunity of deciding on whom they want to represent them in Government. When the day comes, the people certainly will not decide in favour of the type of action I have described. It is dishonest, it is wrong, that such a trick should be played on our people.

However, as the Leader of our Party, Deputy Cosgrave, said, this is an election Budget. I shall not condemn everything that is in the Budget. Far from it. Some of the things for which we pleaded with Ministers during the past year or two or more, such as social welfare increases, and so on, have been granted. I welcome any increase which would benefit the poorer sections of the community, such as the increases in the old age pensions, widows' pension, unemployment benefit for small farmers in the west of Ireland.

I was glad to hear from the Minister for Social Welfare this evening that there is one section that stand to gain to a certain extent from this Budget. I refer to Irish citizens who, through no fault of their own, had to go over to England and who spent 20 to 50 years there and who, on their return to this country, were deprived of the little benefits applicable to old age pensioners here in the form of free radio and television licences and free public transport. These people will now receive these benefits. In some cases, they do not need the benefits from a financial point of view because the British pension is higher than that payable here. These people felt, however, that they had contributed in large measure during their years in England in remittances to their fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, and had helped to keep the home fires burning, so to speak, and it was a sad thing that they should be deprived of these small benefits when they returned to this country. As a matter of principle and fairness, it is a nice gesture that, due to pleadings from this side of the House, these people are now being considered.

We all know that this is an election year. I hope the election will come very soon. An attempt is being made on this occasion, as was made on the occasion of the last general election, to hoodwink the people. When the Minister made his first announcement on television, he said things were bad. I am sure that further impositions will be found necessary by reason of the social welfare increases in this Budget. The increases in taxation and in the cost of living will not be effective straight away. The Fianna Fáil Party would not consider increased taxation a good way of getting votes. Therefore, these increases will not be effective straight away.

From the far-reaching small benefits —the Minister has reached out in all directions in order to catch votes—it is obvious that this is an election Budget. Newspaper commentators have said that and we can see it for ourselves. As happened on past occasions, if Fianna Fáil were to get back into office we would know how deeply we had to dip into our pockets to meet the demands of this Budget and the many more demands that would be made consequent on a fall in the value of money and increased costs. We know that at this very moment the Government are being badgered on all sides for increases for many sections to compensate for increases in living costs. Taxes are increasing, rates are increasing, the cost of housing loans has increased, the price of beer, cigarettes and little luxuries has increased, the price of motor cars will increase. Naturally, there will be further demands and more unrest while this Government are in office.

Anybody who listened to the Minister for Social Welfare here this evening, as I did, would think that everything in the garden was rosy. There was the usual Fianna Fáil story about how prosperous the country is and how well we are doing. He was talking in flowery language. I know the part of the country the Minister for Social Welfare comes from and in many ways it is like my own part of the country. It is made up, in the main, of small farmers and small business people. It has been the tradition for the local people to go from there to Scotland to work and many thousands of people have also had to leave my part of the country to work in different parts of England.

The Minister should know that everything is not all right in these rural areas. More people are leaving their small holdings today than ever before. Homes have been closed by the hundred and whole families have emigrated. In the past it was usually the case of a father and a son or a father and a couple of sons emigrating to England to supplement their meagre income. But now the little homes are being closed up. ESB poles which were put up some years ago to connect these homes with rural electrification have been taken down—not in all cases but in many cases. This has happened in the Minister's constituency, as it has happened in mine. As I told the Minister on previous occasions, I have seen these poles stacked in my own yard. In fact, I extended an invitation to him to come down and see them for himself. I suggested to him that, if he could not come down himself, he could get in touch with the ESB people at Swinford by telephone and they would verify my story.

These are the facts. There is no point in the Minister for Social Welfare or the Minister for Finance or anybody else in this House trying to make believe that everything is all right in the country while that state of affairs exists. However, I suppose I am only wasting my time talking. I feel ashamed of having to say these things on every occasion on which I speak in this House. It is certainly no pleasure to have to say them. It is very sad to see one's neighbours having to leave the land, particularly when one considers that many of these people put up new bungalows with all the necessary amenities but, due to the failure of an Irish Government to provide them with a livelihood, they were forced to close their doors.

These people are now in Birmingham and London. Some of them are working in places as far away as Brisbane, New York and Chicago. I meet some of them occasionally when they are home on holidays. On returning to this country and seeing our luxury hotels they get the impression that we have made a lot of progress, but when they go to the rural areas and see the closed homes they form a different opinion. They know then that everything is not all right in the country and that, despite all the promises that have been made by Fianna Fáil about industrialisation in the west and all the grants that would be given, the situation is very bad.

The Minister for Finance must know these things because he drives down there very often. If he does not, then the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Health can bear out what I am saying. Many of these people in the past relied on the local small farmers and even in the days of British rule these towns were prosperous. There may not have been a lot of money in circulation but big families were able to live in these homes. They were prosperous enough to educate their children many of whom went into religious life while others joined the teaching and other professions. These people distinguished themselves in the different positions in which they found themselves, not alone in this country but in the many other countries throughout the world.

I know that the standard of living then was not very high and would not be tolerated nowadays, but it can be said at the same time that the people did not find it necessary to close their doors and leave the land. Generations before them resisted landlords and, as Deputy Dowling said, they served their country well. But, in compensation for that, they were denied the right to live in their own country.

If we look at the Dáil Order Paper for any day we will see that there are from 50 to 120 questions down and most of these questions are about delays in the building of houses and about inability of local authorities to go ahead with housing projects because the money is not available in sufficient quantities to go ahead with the various schemes for which proposals are sent to the Department. Similarly, there are questions on the Order Paper every day about water and sewerage schemes in the small towns throughout the country. Deputy Dunne has a problem with regard to some people living out near the airport for whom he has been pleading for years. I remember him having to bring the Minister for Local Government here on an Adjournment Debate. I felt ashamed of the things he had to say about the lack of sewerage facilities with which these people have to contend and of how, in this day and age, they must dispose of sewerage in the dark of night.

How much would the Deputy charge to haunt a house because he is the best banshee that I have heard in a long time?

The Minister will remember the occasion on which he came to a fleadh ceoil in Foxford. He was the banshee on that occasion. I would suggest to him that, if he ever intends coming back, he should insure his life very substantially because otherwise his dependants will be in a bad way. In case the Minister is trying to convince the House that what I am saying is not true, I will remind the House that the bishops of the four or five dioceses in my county got together in the town of Charlestown some years ago, and, indeed, in my town of Foxford a short time afterwards, to announce that there was a crisis. The Minister may call these people banshees if he wishes, but they told the truth. They said that homes were being closed up and they appealed to the Government to do something about the situation. Of course, the Government Ministers were not slow in promising that they would do something about it, but nothing worthwhile has been done. I should like to know from the Minister what he intends to do about this, if he is there any longer. I doubt that he will be there very long in the office he now holds. I hope he is not because I see no future for the country while he is in that position.

Are those people telling lies or are they not? I put down a question about this matter some time ago. The Government did not seem to know what I was talking about when I spoke about saving the west. Of course the Minister has no interest in the west. It is easy for him to say that I am doing the banshee, that I am haunting the House about those things. I do not mind if I haunt the Minister about those things. It is absolutely necessary for me to do so in the discharge of my duty as a Deputy of the House. I must state the facts as I know them. The Minister should go down and see this for himself.

Surely if the Minister consulted with his colleagues, Deputy Moran, the Minister for Justice, or Deputy Flanagan, the Minister for Health, they would tell him what the position is. It is not the case of doing the banshee or trying to exaggerate the position. Father McDyer, in fairness to him, had a good try with regard to this. I had a few tries myself even when I was out of politics. I made my contribution in giving the small farmers in my area a better price than they would get from the present Minister for Agriculture. Those people in that area have become frustrated. They have felt for a long time that there was no hope with the Fianna Fáil Government and I personally feel the same about this.

We hear a lot about Fianna Fáil policies and we have many of them on paper but if you apply the real test to them we can see that there is very little prospect for the country with those policies. There are thousands of acres of water-logged land all over the country.

I do not want to interrupt but details which are appropriate to Estimates should not be discussed on the General Resolution.

I appreciate that. The point I was making was that if we want to increase national income there is one place where we can do it and that is in regard to the land. This has been neglected by Fianna Fáil. You could do a great deal for the land of Ireland by arterial drainage and later on by field drainage, by liming and manuring the land and making it fit to carry crops, fit to rear more cattle. If we did that or if the Fianna Fáil Party had done it many years ago we would have given a boost to the economy. Instead of that they started an economic crisis. Later they had to go across to England with their hats in their hands begging for the bargains they had thrown away. Were it not for Fianna Fáil this country would be much better off.

Fianna Fáil started off on the wrong foot from the word "go". I remember as a young lad listening to Fianna Fáil speakers saying that this country would be industrialised, that the solution to our problems was more and more factories rather than providing employment for young people on the land. If Fianna Fáil had a proper policy to save the west it would be prosperous now rather than in the declining state it is in. A famous gentleman, a member of the Fianna Fáil Party, who has now gone to his reward, said that it did not make any difference if £3 or £4 was going out the back door if £10 was coming in the front door. Those are the famous words of a member of the Fianna Fáil Party. Due to the economic war and the fact that we lost our markets in England and for many years had to carry on with a great handicap, we now find ourselves in the position that we are almost worse off than we were 30 years ago. Many of the people in the west of Ireland have left their homes and are now working in cities in England, the US and even as far away as Australia.

No doubt when the election is over we will have a worse credit squeeze. In fact, we have it now with nothing being given to the people in the west. However, after the election there will be more tightening of belts. The small traders have a credit squeeze on at the moment. Bank managers are writing out to their good customers and telling them they must reduce their overdrafts, that they are under pressure to reduce the overdrafts to private borrowers. That in turn creates a very serious situation for the customers of those shopkeepers. The people are not in a position to pay cash for every item they buy and this in turn has the effect of creating further unemployment. When you have this sort of credit squeeze on small shopkeepers you create a far greater problem for them. I think Deputy Dillon referred to this here this afternoon and said that many of those shopkeepers were now closing their doors. They are not able to bear their overheads, the high rates and the high cost of living.

The Minister must have motored to many parts of the country in his tours and he must have seen what is happening in the part of the west I speak of. There was a certain TV man whose name I will not mention, who put on a film show in County Sligo. He showed bridges and roads all over that area. He also showed the homes the people lived in. Many of them are situated only six or seven miles from where I live. Some of them are even nearer. This man showed the conditions those people were living in. Many people said he exaggerated but in fairness to him I want to say—I know what it is like because I travel to those places and I visit those homes —he gave the exact position. In my opinion he gave a very fair presentation.

Did he stop short of Tubbercurry?

I know that area well and I know what is happening there. I want to give credit to the people who have put their hearts into that work. When that man showed the film some of the people said that he only gave the worst side. I consider it is necessary to show the bad as well as the good. Certainly this bears out what I said here on more than one occasion. I believe there are good aspects in regard to the west as well as bad aspects. I am satisfied when this Government are out of office that something will be done for those people because as long as Fianna Fáil are in office nothing will be done for them. There is no longer employment for those people who still remain in the west of Ireland. I would, therefore, repeat the plea I made, and which was also made by the Leader of our Party and by Deputy T.F. O'Higgins, the sooner Dáil Éireann is dissolved and the sooner we come back into power the better it will be for the people of the country.

I am amazed at the long time discussion on this Budget has gone on after last week when we had the amazing spectacle that we very seldom have here of unanimous agreement. We had unanimous agreement here last week on the Budget. There was unanimous agreement also about nine or 12 months ago when they were all shaking the hands of the Minister for Finance and congratulating him for their rise in pay. Last week they congratulated him again on bringing in a Budget which pleased them all. There was no division on the Budget. To everyone's amazement the Budget went through without a division. They had to go home afterwards and consider the statements contained in the Budget. In view of the fact that they will have to face the country between now and next April they felt compelled to raise some objections.

I am glad that Deputy O'Hara said one truthful thing. He said that after the election all the extra things will be brought out and done again. Deputy O'Hara realises that after the election, whenever it is held, Fianna Fáil will be back again on these benches. I was on the Opposition benches in 1927. I spent five years looking over there at the Cumann na nGaedheal Party. That Party left the Government benches in January, 1932, and they never came back to office again. That is 36 years ago. They did not come back because they were not able to come back. During their term of office they took one shilling off the poorest section of the community. They took one shilling off the ten shillings which the old age pensioners received at 70 years of age. People in Ireland have long memories and will remember this terrible deed.

The Cumann na nGaedheal Party state that there were no strikes during their term of office. Why? There were no strikes because no one was working. There was no employment at the time. When the Fianna Fáil Party took over the Government benches Mr. de Valera took charge of affairs and appointed Deputy Seán Lemass to build up industry and employment in this country. The monument to his work is there today to be seen by everyone. The Cumann na nGaedheal Government had no demand for housing because half the houses were unoccupied. That was the condition of the country until Fianna Fáil took over. The Deputies should trace the progress of the country from then until 1948 when a conglomeration of Parties took over, consisting of remnants of the Fine Gael Party, Clann na Poblachta, Clann na Talmhan and various other interests. The Labour Party combined with all these with the sole objective of getting Fianna Fáil out of office.

The inter-Party Government took over, and in three short years we had a financial crisis in the country. They did not knuckle down to getting the country out of such trouble. They ran. They were there in those benches one day and there was not a trace of them the following day. Three years after that they asked the people to give them another trial. The people were gullible enough to give them such a trial, but their reign of office was even shorter then.

I was a member of a local authority during the term of office of the inter-Party Government. There was not a county council in the country that was not at their wits' end finding excuses for the grants due from the Government which never arrived in their counties. The Fianna Fáil Party came back in 1956 and have been in office ever since. I should like the House to examine the progress which has been made during this time. Every Deputy in this House bears his own share of responsibility with regard to the unemployment in his particular area. At one stage I myself found that half the town of Cobh was unoccupied because of the unemployment in the town. The men of the town had three weeks work per year at Haulbowline breaking up machinery for auction as scrap. The Cork dockyard was idle. Today there are 650 young men working in Irish Steel in Haulbowline. There are 850 men working in the Verolme dockyard. Long ago there was three days work per week in a little flour mill in Midleton and seasonal work at the distillery there. Today, one could not find an idle man in that town. In Youghal one cannot find a labouring man. The managing director of Youghal Carpets had to establish a new factory at Carrigtwohill. This factory will employ 350 young people. I want the Deputies to seek employment for their constituents in their own areas. Most of the Deputies here have more education than I ever pretended to have. Many of them have university degrees. I sought employment for the men in my constituency and I would ask the Deputies to do the same. I got employment for my people. That is a fact.

There has been much talk about small farmers leaving the land and I have heard that farmers find it difficult to make a good living from their farms. Any young farmer under 48 years of age can go into Irish Steel and earn from £18 to £24 per week for a five-day week. This is a sign of the change which has come about. This is why small farmers are leaving the land. They are not prepared to do what was done 25 or 30 years ago. They are not prepared to work a seven-day week when every other fellow has a five-day week. Why should they? Who would they do it for? They will not get any overtime from Friday night until Monday morning even though they have been working the whole time. That is not allowed in the prices that are fixed for farm produce.

The West is the problem. Anywhere west is a problem and my friend Deputy Seán Collins knows that very well. General Costello went up to Tuam and put up a beet factory. They could never get enough beet to keep it going, even to the extent of 50 per cent. He said to me in conversation later: "Surely to God, Martin, they will grow spuds" and he went and put up a potato factory there. By Jove, the spuds had to come in from the County Louth. I am speaking frankly of what I know. I heard Deputy O'Hara talking about the Mayomen. We sent two men up to Deputy O'Hara's constituency every year to employ 250 of them and bring them down to single beet in County Cork. They singled beet there for from 30/- to 50/- a day and were quite happy. If they are there this year they are getting more. They freely admitted that with the hospitality of the Cork people and the way they were treated they were far better off than they would be digging spuds for the English farmer. I am giving a fair description of what I know from my personal knowledge. I do not honestly know what is wrong with the West. We are up against it there.

Five years ago General Costello came down, at the special invitation of Dr. Lucey, Bishop of Cork, and got a vegetable factory going in Skibbereen in West Cork. In the same month he started one in Midleton. For the last season's work in Midleton we paid out £210,000 in wages and £300,000 more to the farmers for their crops. I suppose Deputy Seán Collins will let us know how Skibbereen is placed.

The Minister for Finance opened it well.

We collected £30,000 from the farmers. The Sugar Company put £30,000 against it. The factory was started. The first year we were level. In the first year we paid out £17,000 in wages and £15,700 to the farmers. I think Skibbereen did the same.

What is the present position? Are the farmers and workers in West Cork getting a half million pounds a year out of the processing factory? That is a question I should like to hear answered. What are they doing?

I could continue in that strain for a week and give instance after instance like that but I want to devote myself to something which I want the Minister to do. We devoted ourselves to the job of finding employment for our young boys and girls in their own country so that when a father saw his sons and daughters growing up he would not say: "You might have to go on the emigrant ship next year". We wanted to end that. Anywhere that Deputies are doing their work it is ended. Anywhere they are not doing their work it goes on. The moment one of those young lads finds himself with a permanent job and a decent wage he looks around and picks out a good looking lassie and he says: "I think I will get married". The next thing he looks for is a house. Out of East Cork Foods alone I had to put a scheme going to build bungalows for 25 young men who have got married. I am doing that. We had to take over 17½ acres of land there for housing. I want the Minister to see to it—God knows I will be quite honest with this House and with the Minister, my heart is scalded from it—that sufficient money is placed in the hands of the Minister for Local Government for housing, water and sewerage schemes. Surely there is more benefit for our people in Ireland from a half million pounds spent that way than from reading in the pages of a newspaper of the £500,000 hotel that we are building for the supposed tourist who comes in and when he is here a week some bank is robbed and the tourist is gone with the dough?

I want the Minister to see that the first claim on this Budget will be to satisfy the urgent needs of our young people for housing, water and sewerage supplies. That should be the Minister's first job. I consider it a bounden duty. If one is giving a lad a decent job in God's name give him a decent home to come to with his wife and little kids. They are the people who made this country. Not too many on the benches here today can remember the days when young men went out and risked their lives to give us the freedom this country enjoys today. Not many. I think if you said Deputy Tierney over on those benches, and I do not know who Deputy Collins has, and a few here, those are all who are left. When you look at them in that light, and when you remember that those young lads of today deserve to be kept here, instead of letting them leave home and go to the London slums, for heaven's sake let us devote our minds to providing decent homes for them, and the ordinary amenities of a decent home.

That is the first thing to which I am asking the Minister to devote his mind. There is no use in talking. Every time I see in the newspapers a £500,000 hotel going up here, and realise that between Bord Fáilte and one of those other boards money is flowing out like water, and that people, foreigners mostly, are getting pretty considerable grants, I think of what could be done with that money towards providing decent homes for our people here. That is one of the areas in which I disagree with the division of the spoil, as I call it. It is wrong.

Then I think of all the noises made in connection with the Health Act. When the local authorities took over the burden of the Health Act and the health authorities were formed, advances were made. There have been considerable advances every month and every year in hospital science, to put it in plain language. I wanted to find out how far it had gone, and I put down a question to the Minister for Health asking him the increase in the number of jobs that had been created by the Cork Health Authority from 1964 to 1968. The answer was 320 new posts at a cost of £200,000 a year.

I do not think any of the architects of the Health Act intended that that burden should be borne by the rate-payers in full. After all, many of the people who are gaining under our social services and our Health Act, pay no rates at all, and they have fairly fat pay cheques coming in every week or every fortnight. I would nearly say all, but I will say most of the burden of the Health Act and the social services should be a State charge and borne by the State. I make no bones about that. I am looking the thing in the face as I see it.

I thank the Minister, as my brother-in-arms Deputy Tierney did, for what he has done so far as our old comrades are concerned. In five years more this country will not be asked to do anything for them because they will all be gone except someone like myself who will be left to torture you here. You must remember those days, and that this Dáil would not be here but for what those men did. I appeal to the Minister to take away that abominable means test. I had occasion about three months ago to have some dealings with the means test. There is a poor man who lost his eye in the Troubles, living in a labourer's cottage in Castletownroche. He played his part for Ireland as one man.

I applied for a special allowance for him but they made out that he had a little profit out of his one acre. He has one son who is paying £3 a week to his mother for his keep, for his board, and lodging, and laundry, and everything else. Did not some hangman of a civil servant come down and have a look around and say out in bold plain language that the unfortunate woman had a profit of 15/- a week out of the £3. I am sure the Minister knows how these people feel, who went out and did their bit and suffered in the ditches and in the jails, when the Government they succeeded in establishing here instead of John Bull say to them: "Oh, well, you have Jackie and he is paying you £3 a week and you have a profit of 15/- a week out of the bread and butter and meat you give him". When I think of that I also think of the swell hotels which we are paying grants to build. When I think of going into one of these pubs and paying 33/- for a steak, I wonder how may steaks poor Jackie gets from his mother in the week, and how many steaks the civil servant gets who put down that return.

It was not his fault.

It was never anyone's fault.

It is the fault of legislation. He was doing his job.

It is the Deputy's job to watch legislation.

The Deputy does not seem to have watched it.

I cannot be watching always.

There is no use in blaming a civil servant.

Blame no one.

The Deputy should come back to the Budget and avoid details of administration.

I am giving facts and I am telling the Minister the manner in which this money is being spent and the manner in which I am anxious that it should be spent. I know how fair-minded the Minister is, and I know he will do it. I will say no more. I have given the facts as I know them.

We are not annoyed about the warning that was issued by the Government some months ago in connection with our financial conditions. If you see a cow going into a field you will try to stop her before she does any damage. If the people of this country had carried on in the way in which they were carrying on with 2½d looking down on 2d—we had an old song about it long ago: "Oh woman of the three cows a grá."—I am sure you will remember it——

"Don't let your tongue thus rattle, And don't be saucy, don't be stiff, Because you may have cattle."

I am glad the Minister remembers it. There was one class of teacher saying he was a step above the others; there was one class of trade union man saying he was a step above the others. It was not—and they admitted it—money but status that was involved. There was no status when those people were in office last, when, as I told them, in the whole of east Cork you would not find 50 people working, when a regulation had to be made by the Department of Local Government that in order to get a job raking stones on the road you had to be an ex-member of the National Army. Take your minds back to those days. Unfortunately, I am so old that I remember. That was the condition of affairs when we took office in 1932, and I think we can be very proud of the job we have done, and we can be very proud of our Taoiseach also.

When it comes to within a year and a half or two years of the five years for which a Dáil is elected, the Opposition are screeching and shouting for an election. The people elected to the Dáil are elected for a definite period of years, five years, the same as a man is elected to a county council for five years. He continues in office until the period has expired and whether the weather is snowy or the sun is shining he goes back to the electorate and gives an account of what he has done for the previous five years. In spite of all this noise and shouting about another election, the people do not want an election. The people are the happiest people in the world. I was in a publichouse last night and people were drinking pints and singing.

Toasting Charlie.

Deputy Tully does not know what work is. I have worked with a shovel and with a plough and harrow. We are all workers.

I thought there was nobody working only the Deputy.

Judging by the moans I am hearing from different constituencies here, there must be very few workers. I did not intend to speak at all until I heard Deputy O'Hara, who succeeded in switching over from Clann na Talmhan to Fine Gael. However, he managed to survive and more power to him. I have given the facts here and I would suggest to the Minister for Finance that it would pay the country at large if he would organise an educational tour for Deputies around my constituency, let them see for themselves the state of affairs there and go home and do likewise.

It would be improper not to start with appreciating the fact that overdue and necessary reliefs have been given in this Budget. I have never denied nor never will that there are many people in the community who have over the years suffered well-nigh penury, and to see any reliefs coming to them must always be a source of satisfaction to people who have any public responsibility.

We must view the Budget as what it has now become, the instrument of guidance and of stimulation to the country's economy. I shall be highly critical this evening of all the strains that show the apathy and ineptitude of the Government. I do not give a fiddle-de-dee whether the election is next month or at the end of the year; it is an exercise we must face and take in our stride; and as the years go by we learn to take it even better in our stride.

It is about time somebody told the truth about the general election. The only people I have found over the years looking for a general election are our political commentators. Between them and some of the supposed political know-alls of certain media of news distribution, they assume they have the prerogative of guiding us all in what to do and of directing the people on what they should do. It is time they came down out of the clouds, too, and realised there is a lot of serious thinking and work to be done by this Government and by the Government that will succeed it to try to ensure a future for the economy. The fundamental duty of any Government is to rule for the benefit of the people and to cherish them equally.

The Minister for Finance cannot be accused of not being an adroit politician, and whether his Budget is an election Budget or not, it certainly is designed to spread a veneer of benefit over the widest possible area. One is a bit sceptical, knowing the cynicism of the Minister last year, when he gave us at this time of the year what appeared to be a reasonably effective Budget, and then, as soon as the shock of the referendum defeat had eased, came in with a mini-Budget that became a killer. Here we start to come to grips with the lack of initiative and the continued atrophy of the Government. Their approach to the tax structure is pathetically inept. It is easy for the Minister for Finance to tax beer and tobacco and petrol since, with his well-known cynicism, he knows that the victims of these impositions will come up smiling, offering themselves as a target for still further impositions. But that cynical approach connotes dangerously unsound thinking because we must ultimately reach the point of diminishing returns and we must ultimately reach the point at which the consumers of these commodities will be forced out of the consumer market with regard to these items.

There is no doubt at all that the Government are playing in the modern development of our economy a bigger and bigger role. State expenditure and capital expenditure have become a very vital and integral part of each year's endeavour. It is most disquieting to see the amazing increase in the cost of servicing the national debt. It is most disquieting to observe the economy being bolstered by repeated borrowing. It is most disquieting to see the country running into difficulties particularly in the private sector in regard to credit. It is most disquieting to see that the Government have completely overdrawn their credit in the public sector. I charge the Minister with deliberately concealing the fact that we are building up to one of the biggest credit squeezes we have ever known in this country, and that within the next few months. The Minister and his advisers are well aware of the fact that the commercial banks are experiencing extreme difficulty in the field of borrowing. The squeeze is coming back inexorably.

We have all this airy-fairy nonsense, this spreading of certain reliefs, as thinly as possible over as wide an area as possible. I do not want to be sentimental about the heroes of yesteryear, but the Minister should give worthwhile benefits to this section of our community. He should be generous in what is described as the funeral grant. There should be no means test where the special allowance is concerned. I do not think any of us would begrudge anybody the full special allowance. The means test should never have been applied to this allowance. I am trying now to encourage the Minister to do what he did on behalf of the Old IRA in the recent past. In the limited time that is left to them we cannot do too much for them. Let us not be niggardly where they are concerned.

Let us look now at the stimulus this Budget provides to our greatest and most precarious industry, agriculture. The Minister knows, as well as I do, that the farmer has been ignored in this Budget. The incentives essential to gear us for entry to the Common Market, to gear us to meet the kind of competition we will experience in that market, are not there. Added to that is the Minister for Agriculture's latest plan about the diversification of milk. This could have a salutary impact on the cost of living. We know that Fianna Fáil have tried to browbeat and bully the farmer. We know they are trying to make him pay for his self-respect and independence. We cannot get away from the fact that the really vital industry from the point of view of exports and the foundation of our whole economy is the agricultural industry. No matter what grandiose picture Deputy Corry tries to paint about East Cork the rural areas are being denuded of population. The young people are going. They are going, going, going and we cannot bid them stay. They are going because, despite all the talk, the agricultural units are not viable. No matter what lip-service is paid to the farmers the fact is that the kind of credit they really need for development is not readily available to them. Added to that is the fact that they are not getting a proper return for their labour and their effort visà-vis other sections of the community.

Deputy Corry is right in one thing. The skilled worker in Irish Steel, in Verolme, in the factories in Cork can bring home a pay packet of £18, £20 or £25 a week, but no farmer's son and no farmer himself gets anything like the same return at the end of any week. That is one of the fundamental problems. It is one of the things that is playing havoc with labour in rural Ireland. I do not think I am trespassing on Deputy James Tully's territory when I say that the basic rate of pay of the farmer and his labour vis-à-vis other sections of the community is a disgrace.

State organisations concerned with the land will want to do something about stepping up the basic wages paid to keep people working in our forests. I say that in the full consciousness of the fact that money will have to be found to do this. In all my period here since 1948 I have never opposed the raising of money to provide proper social amenities and benefits for the poorer sections of our community. I feel we have gone completely cockeyed, with certain facets of development and over-expertise at one end and lack of appreciation at the other end. The agricultural worker and the forestry worker and lower paid workers in general are not getting the benefits they should get. As I said earlier, we must welcome any conscious alleviation of distress at the penury, social welfare level. We must admit that the aged, the widow, the blind, the orphan, the person receiving a contagious disease allowance, the handicapped person —all—are a first charge on our conscience and we are glad this Budget has, in part, tackled that problem.

There was talk about unanimity on taxation for named reliefs. It would be churlish of us not to accept that taxation must be increased so that these people may be relieved. Where is the new thinking on petrol, beer, tobacco, cigarettes and the bit more added to the wholesale tax? Where is there an incentive in this Budget for greater production of cattle, pigs, sheep, lambs or anything else? Where is there the extra profit so essential to raise the income of the average small farmer to something commensurate with the national standing? Where in this Budget is there the hope that we shall have proper industrial peace and proper labour relationships in the future? Consider the audacious statement by the Minister, only a couple of months ago, about peril and danger and aggravated crisis and then, on the morning of his Budget speech, the sun was shining again and, if you please, we have had the greatest year in our economy. If that is not playacting, I do not know what is. It is giving the country an immense sense of uneasiness.

I have always had the feeling that there are two sections of the community always ready to respond to Government appeal. The first section are the farmers. Whenever they were pressed for greater efforts, for greater production, to step into the breach, they responded. I have always believed that the Labour movement in this country had the responsibility to give support and help to keep the economy going once they got reasonable conditions and fair terms from the Government. I think the cause of our industrial unrest should have been tackled in this Budget. We should have recognised that it was a tripartite effort: not only were the unions and the Government deeply involved but the employers were involved as well. A formula could have been hammered out. We should be talking about a new impetus in our economy which would give a charter for the future, for the development of our exports, for the consolidation of our home output and for the preservation and consolidation of agriculture in its important and vital role in our economy. There is nothing in this Budget only a few more gimmicks. It has come too late for me, unfortunately, to accept the challenge of the triplets or the quads. It does seem a bit gimmicky in a Budget like this where many issues of far greater purport to the country might have been discussed in a realistic way and where we might have come to grips with what is to be done with these problems. Take the ICMSA, the NFA, the various rural organisations crying in vain for some recognition of their claims, for some injection into their economy to ensure that they get a reasonable standard and that they can do something to keep the people together and to keep them at home. This is the quarrel I have with the Budget.

There are certain facets of our economy that can stand very substantial development—and we know it. There has been a great step-up over recent years in afforestation. It can be maintained and increased. There is no doubt at all but that there is still a tremendous pool for development in that area and that there is tremendous scope for rural employment. As well as that, the time has come for the development of an industry to cope with the increasing output of the now maturing forests. In places such as West Cork there is room for the development of a pulping or chipboard industry. The thinnings are becoming more numerous and their haulage to local centres would be infinitely less costly than hauling them up the country to Clare and elsewhere as is the case at present. However, no such analysis and no such guidelines are given to us. There is no indication of where the diversification should go and where the future of the industry should go.

We hear revived talk about the Common Market. We hear that our agricultural community can do well in certain facets but we know that in one particular facet there can be extreme difficulty. We know perfectly well that there needs to be a bold, co-operative plan between agriculture and the Government on diversification. Unless we are completely inept and not prepared to look at the reality of a European situation, we must know that there has been a tremendous over-production of butter and that its disposal is a headache not only to this country but to many other countries. We know that that huge problem can be tackled and solved but only by a bold plan of belief in the basis of the industry and encouragement to invest in its future so as to project it to its fullest economic potenital.

My complaint against the Budget is that it does not show any guidelines. It is but a dull repetition of the maxi-Budget of last November when the hurricane of the referendum had died down and the Government were in such a position of stunned amazement that they had to bludgeon the economy. Now we had a repetition of that bludgeoning and it is not for the purpose of development.

I do not regard this Budget as having been designed exclusively to give necessary reliefs to necessitous sections of the community, and I do not think that pious platitudes about rates of growth are enough. We want these rates of growth to be forced up into reality, and above all something will have to be done to stop the spiral in the cost of living. This Budget will spark off another rise in the cost of living and by next November, if a question is put down, we will be given the answer that there has been a 0.1, a 0.2 or a 0.3 per cent rise in the cost of living. The tragedy of these budgets is that what is meant to be relief is in the main dissipated on the people who so badly need real help. In this Budget we are up against the simple fact that it is the product of a tired, inept, atrophied, useless conglomeration of Ministers, some of them young enough to have vigour enough. I do not know what has happened. They have out-done the most conservative——

I do not think he is talking about us. Is he?

Sure you cannot wake up. You will wake up in the next election and find out that the Irish people know you to be the most conservative Government who ever ruled. You are worse than we were, and God knows there was a day when we were conservative.

I do not think the Deputy is talking about the Budget.

Indeed I am, and no playboy of the western world will distract me. Bonny Prince Charlie's gimmicks will not fool the Irish people all the time. In conclusion, I wish to say that I do not care if the election is held next month or in the fall of the year. I am giving you due notice that you will not be there to introduce the next Budget unless you introduce another Budget in November.

This Budget has been called many things and having regard to the fact that we face a general election which must take place before next spring, it is understandable that this Budget panders to as many sections of the people as possible. When one considers the desperate gamble which the Government made to rivet themselves to power by way of the referendum issues last October, one can understand how desperate they are at this time to hang on to power, and they have utilised this Budget for that purpose.

Therefore, the contention that this Budget is essentially a general election Budget is true and there is nothing the Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance or anyone else can do to gainsay it. This Party have been trembling with fear during the past number of years about the prospect of facing the Irish people in the next general election and it is obvious to us that all the stops were pulled out in the compilation of this Budget. They scraped the bottom of the barrel in order to allocate the sops, left, right and centre. This is the medium through which they hoped to secure the votes that will lead them back to power next month or the month after, whenever the Taoiseach decides to go to the country.

Therefore, it is fair to say that there is nothing statesmanlike, authentic or sincere about this Budget. Those of us who have analysed it know that it has scant regard for the economic state of affairs of this country. It is not concerned about rectifying the shocking economic malaise which undoubtedly exists. It does not do anything to guarantee our people a more secure future. There is nothing in it to provide the thousands of additional jobs so badly required or to indicate better standards of living for our people in the long term.

It is essentially a political Budget, designed for the shabby purpose of catching votes to win seats for Fianna Fáil in the next general election. It is rather a pity we do not have a general election every year because then at least we could be assured that some regard would be had for the welfare of the Irish people, certainly certain sections of them, because an effort would have to be made to improve their standards. The insincerity, the hypocrisy of this Budget is also amply illustrated by the fact that the Minister for Finance, on 18th March last, went on Telefís Éireann and caused a certain amount of panic throughout the country by inferring that all was not well with our economy, that there was something in the nature of an economic crisis.

Now, in introducing hand-outs in this Budget to certain sections of the community, the Minister paints an altogether different picture, to the effect that everything in the garden is rosy, that there is nothing to worry about, that everything will be well if Fianna Fáil are left at the helm. Any sensible person will see through this shabby pretence, this saying one thing today and a different thing tomorrow. This does not make for the kind of responsibility necessary for the welfare of our people. It undermines the people's concept of statesmen and politicians that we can be so utterly hypocritical in our approach to national affairs that within weeks we can express opposite views to those we have already expressed. We have had examples of this kind of gimmick in the past.

We had the Budget of this time 12 months ago which was also a relatively "cushy" Budget and was designed to have a popular appeal to large sections of our people; it was clearly designed to secure votes for the Government in the referendum of last October. When the referendum was over, and despite all the gimmicks of the Government and the low depths to which they sank to win this last desperate gamble to remain in office by abolishing PR and our recognised democratic way of political life, we had the Minister bringing in a Budget in November which was a most savage Budget. It was called a mini-Budget but essentially it was a maxi-Budget, a hairshirt Budget of a particularly vicious type. This was done to ease the position of the Minister for Finance, to ensure that he would have a surplus on his current account and would be able to give certain concessions in this year's Budget.

This is all good politics, perhaps, but we cannot be blamed for pointing out the hypocrisy of this whole matter. This is the first Budget in the Government's Third Programme for Economic Expansion. Those of us who have seen the Government's various programmes for economic expansion in operation cannot be blamed for being pretty sceptical and suspicious about this programme also. The first programme was designed to provide 100,000 jobs and instead of providing that number some 270,000 people were forced to emigrate in the five year period. The second programme was an acknowledged disastrous failure. It never got off the ground at all. Therefore, we have scant hope for this third programme. Speaking from the Labour Benches on behalf of a Party which has a deep, ingrained regard for all those against whom the winds of adversity blow hardest——

Any more clichés?

——the aged, the sick, the infirm, the unemployed and the potential emigrant, we are not unmindful of or ungrateful for certain concessions made in this Budget. The increase in the contributory and noncontributory pensions of 10/- is to be welcomed but I do not think any politician can make much play out of an increase of 10/- nowadays having regard to the exceptionally high cost of living. Can one buy anything of consequence today with 10/-? Two packet of cigarettes, perhaps, or 2 lbs. of butter, but certainly it will not go far. It is also to be regretted that people must wait so long for this increase—until August for the non-contributory sections and January for the contributory sections.

While welcoming these meagre increases, which will do little to maintain living standards let alone improve them, we wonder why pensions were not granted on this occasion at the age of 65. We in the Labour Party have been advocating this for many years. Having regard to the propaganda of the Government Party, and in particular to the statement made recently by the Minister for Social Welfare, it was rather expected that in this general election year Budget pensions would be granted at 65. Will the Minister say if the Minister for Social Welfare or the Government were sincere in their indications that serious consideration was being given to granting pensions at 65 and, if so, when is it intended to apply this principle? Having regard to the exactitudes of life in this age it has long been the ambition of large sections of our people that they should be permitted to retire at 65 with an appropriate pension. This is long overdue and the Minister was very remiss when he omitted to make any reference to this principle of granting pensions at 65.

We deplore the fact that this concession was not granted at this juncture because if it was not promised specifically certainly spokesmen for the Fianna Fáil Party hinted strongly that this was something that could be looked forward to on this occasion. Despite the statement of a previous Taoiseach that the hardy annuals of taxation, cigarettes, beer, spirits and petrol, had reached saturation point as a means of raising revenue we find that these commodities have been taxed again this year. He says: "As long as they come up smiling they must expect to be taxed all the more."

It is a pity that a little more imagination is not brought to bear on budgetary matters. While I am not making a case for cigarette smoking as such many people enjoy a smoke and resent cigarettes being taxed year after year and used as a revenue raising device. The same applies to the poor man's pint or to the half-one. I do not think that the pint of stout is any longer the luxury the Minister represents it to be. It is something to which the workers are entitled after a hard day's work.

It is to be deplored that in raising revenue we must increase the price of the pint and the "half-one" and the gallon of petrol. Nowadays an increase in the price of petrol will have very considerable effect on the prices of commodities generally because of the importance of petrol in transportation. We are also concerned about the many people who are obliged to use cars for their everyday work to whom this threepence increase is a very serious impost. They receive no relief for this increase in respect of income tax.

I am pleased that some recognition has been given to the Old IRA as regards the means test for special allowances but there is a further concession which could quite easily be granted to the Old IRA who are dwindling rapidly. The Old IRA man enjoys free travel now if he is within a certain income bracket and it has been put to me very forcefully and correctly that we should also consider granting free travel to the wives of Old IRA men. We should ensure that where free travel is granted it is granted in such a way that it will not embarrass or humiliate those concerned. Presentation of an old age pension book in a public transport vehicle is humiliating for an old age pensioner. There should be some kind of voucher or ticket which would serve in these circumstances. I am making a special plea for free travel for the wives of Old IRA men. Recipients of old age contributory pensions are granted free travel but not wives of Old IRA men. I believe this concession should be given to permit these people to travel together, as they may want to do from time to time.

We regret very much that greater concessions were not granted in this Budget in regard to the payment of income tax. We have always contended that liability to income tax on £6 10s a week for single persons and on £10 a week for married couples is unfair, inequitable and unjust and a serious disincentive to higher productivity. These allowances have been static since the inauguration of PAYE and it is high time to adopt a more realistic approach and increase both single and married allowances proportionately to the increased cost of living. It means rifling the pockets of the working classes unfairly when you tax them on every £ earned over £6 10s. if they are single, or over £10 approximately per week, if married. The Government should realise that people are no longer prepared to accept the extraction of income tax so unfairly. It is no longer the painless exercise it was intended to be under PAYE but it is a source of indignation and anger to workers. They feel that they are being fleeced week after week unfairly under the present income tax code. The concessions given in this Budget are of little consequence to the mass of the workers.

The Minister has expressed concern about lower paid workers and we look forward to seeing what practical steps will be taken to better their lot. It is gratifying to hear of this alleged concern on the part of the Government for the lower paid workers because we know that State employees, whether in the forests, on the roads, in the Board of Works, or on the bogs or elsewhere are the lowest-paid workers in the country. The State has the reputation of being the worst employer. I hope this alleged concern for lower paid workers proves genuine. That can best be shown by increasing forthwith the meagre wages of State employees. The State has always been last to increase wages or improve conditions and is never prepared to set a headline or become a pathfinder in the matter of better wages and conditions.

Many State employees are obliged to exist on something like £10, £11 or £12 a week. Obviously, a family man trying to live on £12 nowadays is at subsistence level. This is the poverty fringe: there should be no doubt or ambiguity about that. It is virtually impossible for a family man to pay rent, rates and taxes and pay for fuel, light and clothing and also meet his day to day commitments in these times of high prices and high cost of living on wages of £12, £13 or £14 a week. It is a precarious existence and the wife who has to go out daily to buy food for her family realises too well how little she can purchase for £1.

It is fallacious to suggest that the workers have been in any way responsible for the adverse state of the economy. The mass of our working class people are still badly paid and if there is any sign or semblance of industrial unrest in the country there is nothing sinister about it. It is merely a sincere and genuine endeavour by workers and their respective unions to maintain minimum standards of respectability and decency, nothing more. The Government will have to accept that fact and we shall watch with interest what is proposed to be done to improve the lot of the lower paid worker.

Certainly, the amount of money which the Minister has set aside for this purpose, divided amongst the very many thousands of workers concerned, would provide less than £1 per head per week. If this is the kind of improvement the Government have in mind for the lower paid worker they will certainly have to think again because a sum in the nature of 17/6d. approximately per week is not the kind of increase which we consider would compensate these workers for the steep increase in the cost of living and the lowering of their standards at the present time.

I want to disabuse the Government of the foolish notion that all they have to do is to put across a Budget of this kind, allocate sops here and there amongst the various sections and that all will be well. They imply that this is a poor man's Budget and that they have maintained standards which they consider fair and just. Those of us who are close to the working people know full well that there is a very high incidence of abject poverty in this country. There is evidence of very bad living conditions. The amount of home assistance paid out by local authorities is an indication of the high incidence of poverty. The existence of the many charitable organisations, many of which have come into operation only within recent years, is another indication of low standards and of abject need. These things must be considered in the context of bad housing, very high unemployment which constantly stands at nearly 70,000 in recent years, the exodus of emigrants running at between 18,000 and 20,000 in recent years. All these things are indicative of utter neglect of a people by a Government which have been in power for a long number of years. The Government are hoping that by gimmickry in this Budget they will be returned to power. They have had the opportunity of solving the problems of our people since they came into office over 30 years ago. I do not know of any Government in Europe which has been in operation for so long and has had control of the destiny of its people for so long as the Fianna Fáil Government.

(Cavan): The Six Counties.

The Six Counties, perhaps, but then it could not be said that the Six Counties is a democracy in the true sense of the word. It is rather late in the day to be adopting gimmicks to try to maintain control over people. It is appreciated that the greatest national gamble Fianna Fáil every tried to perpetrate on our people backfired last October. The attempt to form a totalitarian regime was rejected by the Irish people last October. This was the great, last, desperate gamble to rivet themselves in power indefinitely All their resources were thrown into that desperate gamble and it failed miserably. An ingenious, highly-polished, cynical Budget of this kind will not impress the people. Their memories are not that short. They remember last November, after the Budget, when the Government applied the hairshirt policy to them and they know that this sweetener that they are getting now could turn quickly sour next October or November if Fianna Fáil got back into power.

I want to pose a question. If the Fianna Fáil Party had won in the referendum last October and if they got the 100 seats which the students of politics said they could get by abolishing PR, if they got unbridled control to dominate this House and the country, what kind of Budget would we have here tonight?

I would remind the Deputy that this does not appertain to the Budget.

I say that they would have continued to crucify the people with a vengeance. There is no doubt about that. Thank God for last October and thank God we soberised the Fianna Fáil Party to such an extent that they were obliged to give concessions of the kind embodied in the Budget in the hope of being returned to power.

There are many aspects of this Budget that one could talk about. Apart from the usual sops one has come to expect in a Budget of this kind, what about the real problem. What is being done in this Budget to accelerate the housing drive, to eliminate the slums and the hovels?

What is being done in this Budget to provide the necessary millions of pounds for the extension of piped water supplies and sanitary facilities? What is being done in this Budget for the provision of these modern amenities? I say at this point in time, nothing at all. I wish to avail of another opportunity of elaborating on the importance of these amenities for our people—the matter of a decent home and the matter of water readily available and of decent sewerage facilities. It is a serious indictment of the Government that we have the problem of slums and hovels. So many thousands of people are in dire need and less than half our population have flush toilets and water laid on in their homes.

These are the things we wish to talk about in this Budget from the Labour Party's point of view. We shall get an opportunity of elaborating on them in greater detail in the morning, please God. The Irish people will not be taken in by this Budget. Already, even the Minister's own Party supporters are smirking at the notion of what it contains. It had been expected that a special endeavour would be made to palaver the Irish people by bending backwards to regain popularity with them. This is evident from the increases that have been given in children's allowances and other welfare benefits and the Budget has shown a tendency to do something about our archaic and outmoded income tax code. However, it is significant that whoever designed this Budget forgot entirely about the welfare of our farming community. This Budget could not be said to be a "farmer's Budget". There is nothing in it to improve the welfare of any section of our agricultural community. The Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries has indicated that he intends to do something about this matter, but it would have been far more tangible if something were included in this regard in the Budget.

I do not wish to detain the House unduly on this occasion but I merely wish to say that the absence of any concrete policy by the Government, the tendency for them to drift from one ridiculous situation to another, the hopes that they had placed on joining the Common Market and the absence of a positive policy is evident for all to see. Their condoning of virtual free trade between ourselves and Great Britain is having disastrous consequences and there is no use in Government spokesmen trying to cover up the situation. Inroads are being made into many important industries. As the barriers of protection go down the icy blasts of free trade are gradually eliminating competition and manufacture at home; jobs are being jeopardised and we have evidence, too, of the gradual take-over of the whole of the distributive trade of the country. To enter any of the modern stores in this city or in any other city or town in the country is to receive a shock, because the vast majority of the goods available in any of these stores, especially the supermarkets, are clearly foreign produced. Our distributive trade would seem to have been taken over or is about to be taken over. This constitutes a most serious threat to home manufacture. It is a situation which we cannot afford to ignore. There is clearly a tendency towards merger and monopoly, and this is a bad thing.

We opposed the Free Trade Area Agreement with Britain and we make no apologies for having done so. We saw then—and we have been proved right—that the free trade battle we entered into with Britain, particularly in the industrial field, was a battle we simply could not win and the alleged benefits that were to have accrued to us from the agricultural side have not materialised to any appreciable extent. Instead, serious inroads are being made in very many important native industries. It is time for the Government to pocket their pride, go back to the British and amend this Free Trade Agreement before it is too late. We know that, as the tariff barriers go down, industrial graveyards will result and thousands more Irish men and women will be thrown out of employment.

I am asking the Minister for Finance to indicate what he is doing to provide additional resources for certain sectors of our economy that have been sorely depleted in recent years. I mentioned briefly the matter of housing and the matter of the inadequacy of money for piped water. It is to be deplored that the tremendous progress which many of our county councils were making in respect of the provision of piped water for our people has been brought to a grinding halt as a result of the obvious bankruptcy of the Government and their clear inability to provide the necessary capital resources to provide these much needed facilities. In my own county we have been waiting for the past four years for an allocation of money to proceed with regional piped water schemes and, despite all our pleas to the Minister and his Government, the necessary money has not been forthcoming.

In order to try to provide these amenities for our people, the county council of which I have the honour to be a member was obliged to resort to the borrowing of money from foreign resources, namely, from financial companies in Britain. But, having secured an allocation of money for this purpose, we realised that these foreign loans, which we secured on our own initiative, were subject to the approval of the Minister for Local Government and the Minister was reluctant to give his approval to the amount of the loan which we could have secured at the time. I do not have to emphasise the importance of piped water for all our people to eliminate drudgery in the home, to accelerate growth on the land, to facilitate the dairy farmers in particular in respect of high-grade milk. I do not have to emphasise the importance of proper sanitary facilities. The Government are failing in their duty in not providing essential money for those purposes.

In the matter of priorities, when it comes to Budget time, I am making the appeal to the Minister for Finance to see to it that a much bigger allocation of money is made available on this occasion for housing, piped water and the provision of sanitary services. No longer can those three important amenities be regarded as the Cinderella of the Fianna Fáil Government, to be deliberately run down. No longer should our county councils be humiliated and degraded by being refused year in and year out a reasonable allocation of money to proceed with providing those amenities for our people.

My own council of South Tipperary had the reputation of being the most progressive in all Ireland in respect of the provision of piped water. We had expended very many millions of pounds in bringing piped water to every cottier, every householder and every farmer in the county but our endeavours to proceed along those lines have been discontinued for the past four years because we have been unable to find the necessary allocation of money to proceed with this work. Extensive regional schemes, which were approved of over 4½ years ago, are still lying dormant waiting for the allocation of money from the Department of Local Government. In the matter of priorities I hope the Minister for Local Government will insist on getting a fair share of revenue for the purpose of proceeding with those modern amenities for our people.

With those sentiments, I conclude. As I said earlier, I praise the ingenuity of the Minister and the Government in devising a popular Budget of this kind, designed for purely political motives to copper-fasten them in power with the people of Ireland. This simply will not work. The people of Ireland know that this Government, which cannot be trusted in a sincere fashion, if they are returned to power after the next general election will bring in a further Budget in the autumn with the same vindictive impositions as we had in the so-called mini-Budget which was imposed on our people after the debacle of the referendum last October.

Having listened conscientiously to the contributions made here by the Opposition Parties, one can only feel a certain amount of sympathy for them. I can understand the dismay and the uncomfortable position they find themselves in now. Deputy Treacy went on to refer to the referendum. He made a fine contribution on the referendum. This might have been appropriate last October but definitely not now.

We got a very different Budget then.

It is quite obvious they are in such a state because they cannot find anything in this Budget to criticise. Deputy Treacy said there was nothing in the Budget for anybody.

Having said that, he then thanked God for giving Fianna Fáil the good sense to make those contributions in the Budget to the weaker sections of the community. If Deputy Treacy thinks that with his elastic conscience—this also applies to the main Opposition Party—he can fool the people into believing that the Government have not given a lot in this Budget, he is in for a rude awakening. If the Taoiseach decides, which he might, to call a general election this month, next month or next October, we can face the people with confidence, because at all times we have looked after the weak, the poor, those in need, the worker and the agricultural community. At all times during the reign of the Fianna Fáil Party we have contributed in no small way towards the prosperity of those sections of the community. That will continue so long as the people give us the mandate to govern this country on their behalf.

I would advise the Opposition Parties not to be shouting and hollering for a general election. Judging by the feeling in the country at present, not alone will they find it difficult to choose candidates but they will find it difficult to convince the people whom we have treated honourably for the last ten years, that they can give them better than we have ever given them.

Criticism has been made of our social welfare benefits. Deputy O'Higgins said that he welcomed the increase in children's allowances but he added that Fianna Fáil had not broken their hearts with 10/- a week to the pensioners. The Opposition Parties have very short memories. When I was a young boy I remember the contributions made by the Opposition Parties to the social welfare recipients. I well remember the treatment the Opposition Parties gave to the workers. Deputy Treacy spoke about the lower paid workers but in doing so, he cast a reflection on his own Party. He said the workers in industry and such were underpaid. Surely to heavens that is what we have trade unions for. We know the Labour Party are well aware that they cannot control their own workers, because the workmen of this country realise that their stability is under the Fianna Fáil banner and not under that of the Labour Party at the moment. No more elaboration is needed to explain that the Labour Party are not only under the banner of the Iron Curtain but they are also accepting its principles when people like Conor Cruise O'Brien and Justin Keating are joining them.

I must remind the Deputy that the names of persons who are not in this House and are not in a position to defend themselves ought not to be mentioned.

When we find that people like those I have mentioned are accepted into the Labour Party and that they take part in drafting their agricultural policies, it is no wonder that the ordinary common worker in the agricultural community has turned away from supporting the Labour Party.

I appreciate the social welfare increases. These increases are a great boost to the old people. They make them realise that they are no longer the neglected section of the community. Members of the Opposition would like the old people to feel that this Government have neglected them. I realise that the old age pension is still not sufficient. We on these benches would like to see the old age pensioners getting more money but we realise that the Exchequer and the economy of the country can bear only so much expense. We have to give help to each individual according to the demands made on us. Social welfare benefit recipients did well in this Budget. Many of them realise this. They realise that, if they want further increases next year, they must at the next general election——

(Cavan): The Deputy must have mentioned the general election to them.

——consolidate the mandate given to the Fianna Fáil Party at the last general election. I have no doubt but that this is what they will do when the time for the elections comes.

We have always given agriculture a generous slice of the national cake. On the occasion of this Budget we have given £81 million to agriculture. I am glad to see that the beef incentive scheme grant has been increased from £8 to £12. I myself feel that this scheme is not sufficient to increase the numbers of cattle in this country. I realise that there has been much criticism of the calf-heifer scheme. However, we must admit that under that scheme the headage of cattle in this country increased considerably. I do not see the same incentive in this beef incentive scheme. There is a tendency to encourage people to engage in beef production rather than in the production of more milk. This is a natural trend because all over Europe we are faced with the problem of having excess milk. While it is desirable to have milk production at a high level, excessive milk production can create problems from the export point of view. I should like to ask the Minister to consider whether it would be possible to have the calf-heifer scheme introduced again with a considerable number of restrictions. We realise that some people acted undesirably under the calf-heifer scheme, but the scheme was introduced to increase the numbers of cattle in this country. Perhaps it could be re-introduced in a different way, having the same principles but with greater restrictions? Under the beef incentive scheme the numbers of cattle will not increase rapidly, nor will it encourage people to increase the number of their cattle rather than increase their milk production.

There is a considerable amount of grumbling in respect of rates and valuations. It is good to see that only one out of three farmers pays rates. In Dublin there has been a tremendous amount of criticism. Many aspersions have been cast on the Minister for Local Government on account of the abolition of the Dublin City Council. The council were abolished because of their failure to carry out their duties as elected representatives of the people and to strike the rate necessary to keep the working-class people in their jobs and to provide sanitary services, sewerage services, bin collection, lighting, street sweeping and——

(Cavan): What about health services which should not be on the rates at all?

——health services, which are very essential for the poorer sections of the community in this city. The Government have been criticised for their failure to realise that the rates burden on the people is considerable but in the country we find that only one-third of the farming community are paying rates. I do not know how the Opposition can explain their failure to strike rates in Dublin, when apparently the leader of the Labour Party in the Corporation, Deputy Seán Dunne, would have liked to be responsible for the unemployment of thousands of men both in the corporation and in subsidiary bodies. Failure to strike a rate adequate to meet the cost of these services would inevitably cause unemployment amongst such workers. I do not know how the Opposition can condone such a policy or how they can continue to try to hoodwink the people of Dublin into believing that their attitude is sincere.

I should like to mention the production of milk in County Dublin and adjoining areas. There was an increase of 2d per gallon for milk produced in the Dublin area. This is a very acceptable increase and I am pleased to see the farmers getting it. There was a decrease of 7d a gallon on the surplus milk. In reality, this does not work right. A man's milk quota is usually taken in the autumn of the year, and in March, his quota is usually considerably lower. In the dairies here in Dublin I know that fair quotas have not been given to the milk producers. If they are producing 30 gallons of milk a day at twopence a gallon, it is an increase of five shillings a day; but if they produce ten gallons of a surplus they will have 5s 10d deducted. It is no bother to any farmer in County Dublin who has a quota to produce ten gallons surplus milk a day. I would ask the Minister to get in touch with his colleague, the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, and to ask him to consider this again. The whole principle is wrong. It is not acceptable; it is not even applicable to the area concerned. I would ask the Minister to realise that, instead of these people getting an increase for producing milk, they are actually having their incomes reduced. I should like to see this matter resolved quickly because very little time is left to consider it and to discuss it with the people concerned. There should be proper discussion on it and the Minister should give these people the opportunity of expressing their views. They have a real grievance here and a real reduction in their incomes.

I want to come now to a section of the community I regard as very important, farm workers. When will we realise that the farm labourer should be brought up to parity with the industrial worker, if not given a higher rate of pay? I believe that to work on any productive farm today one must be equally as skilled and equally as intelligent as anybody working in industry. The wages paid to farm workers in this country are ridiculous There is a wages board to which they appeal, but the time that elapses between one increase and another is so long that there is usually an exodus of farm workers— good men who are capable of keeping agricultural production at a very high level. I appeal to the Minister to take a serious look at the wages paid to these people. As a section of the community responsible for such a vast amount of our exports they deserve a better hearing than they are getting at the moment. As a farmer and an employer of men myself, I realise their capabilities and their capacity. These people deserve the credit and the concern that I have asked for. I hope that, if nothing else results from my contribution to this debate, at least this section of the community will be looked after.

I am glad to see that the Minister has granted extra incentives for farm building schemes, giving assistance for the provision of silos, hay sheds and especially concrete yards. These are now becoming a common sight. Most farmers like to have a firm footing, particularly if they are stall feeding cattle or milking. The 2/6d per square yard for concrete up to this did not even buy the cement. I am glad to see that the Minister has taken this into consideration. It is good to see incentives like this to help keep farmers productive and to help keep them on the land.

Our educational policy speaks for itself. Down through the years we have always expressed the hope that we will cherish each and every individual of the nation equally. The time has come when Fianna Fáil are now capable, in a well run economy, of doing this. We are providing free education for the children of the nation and also free transport. For this Fianna Fáil not alone deserve credit but deserve the continued support of the people. When, at the time of the first by-election after I came into the House, we expressed the view that free education would soon be provided that was no idle promise. Not long afterwards one could see the dismay on the faces of the Opposition Members. The results were obvious at the next four by-elections, when Fianna Fáil were victorious. All that was possible because of the steady progress made in a well guided economy under the honest direction of the Fianna Fáil Party. There are no elastic consciences over here. We can face the people because all during our reign we faced up to our responsibilities as the elected representatives of the people. At no time did we run away from our responsibilities, not to appear again until after the next general election. Fianna Fáil are over here now and we will be over here after the next general election because the people have respect for our ideas and for the guidance we have given this nation.

It would be advisable for the Opposition to stick at least to the principles of the Budget and not wander around talking about the referendum and other irrelevant matters which are not based on this document before me. If the Labour Party want to continue their attitude of the State owning everything, the workers are entitled to their views. It will not take the workers long to realise on what side their bread is buttered and what Party contributed to their standard of living. It will not take the workers long to realise this and, not only will the Labour Party suffer a defeat in the next general election, but the shouts of joy of the Opposition after the referendum will become a whisper and will not be heard any more.

That is too bad for us.

Having expressed my sympathy for the Labour Party——

I know. Cry.

I will not cry for them.

A Daniel come to Judgment.

You would have a terrible job to make me cry for you. You might make me express sympathy for you but you will never get me to shed tears for you.

What is the Deputy predicting for us?


I am predicting the road to doom which you prepared for yourselves.

By your attitude towards the workers and towards the agricultural sector and particularly by your change of heart in taking into your Party individuals who are irresponsible so far as the working class people are concerned.

The Deputy is too decent to be saying things like that.

Deputy Corish does not like it. He is an honourable man. I realise that. I know he is continuously looking over his shoulder because he is worried about those who are behind him.

(Cavan): The Deputy is talking about Deputy Jack Lynch.

He has a tremendous amount to worry about on their behalf. If I were Deputy Corish I would be greatly concerned about the future of those people and even about my own future because of those so-called backbenchers who are so ready and willing to take his seat in the Labour Party.

That will be the day.

I hope the Deputy is right.

I am perfectly right. Tell us about the farmers the trade unions put in jail.

I would love to believe he is right because, as I said, he is an honourable man. I should hate to see him pushed aside by those preachers who believe their policy, which the Chair will not allow me to mention——

The more the Deputy talks about it the more publicity we get.

Their policy is not acceptable to Deputy Corish and it is not acceptable to the workers.

What policy?

The Leas-Cheann Comhairle will not let me mention it.

The Chair will not allow names to be mentioned if he can persuade the Deputy not to mention names.

He can only rule the Deputy out when he has it said. Go on.

I do not like intruding on the Chair. That is one piece of good manners I was taught.

If the Deputy provokes me I will read this.

The Deputy does not have to be provoked by me.

It is all about the Deputy.

I would love Deputy Corish to read it out.

I would not like to embarrass the Deputy.

I am convinced that every word is to my credit. It would not embarrass me one little bit because I can stand over the fact that ever since I came into this House I have always treated the Chair and the House with the honour they deserve. Having made my contribution as regards the Labour Party——

And expressed your sympathy.

——and having wished that Deputy Corish is left where he is and having expressed my sympathy for the combined Opposition, I should like to compliment the Minister on the manner in which he has introduced his Budget and particularly on the incentives and increases given to the different sectors of the community which we, as a Party, have always tried to assist. Fianna Fáil have fulfilled their responsibility to assist the poorer sections of the community. The Minister, and the Government as a whole, are to be commended.

(Cavan): The Budget which we are debating here has at least a threefold duty to the community. First, it should raise sufficient finances by taxation or otherwise to run the necessary services for the next 12 months. Secondly, it should make a fair distribution of the national wealth by providing reasonable social welfare benefits for those in need of them. Thirdly, we have come to expect the Minister in introducing his Budget to give a fair assessment of the financial state of the country and the state of the economy and frame his Budget accordingly. I propose to deal with the last of those three points first.

I said that in my opinion it is the duty of a Minister for Finance in introducing his Budget Statement to recall or record the state of the economy during the 12 months which have just ended and to forecast the position for the next 12 months in order to enable the people, whether they are engaged in agriculture or industry or the professions, to plan accordingly. Far from this Budget assisting the people to plan for the next 12 months, in my opinion it has left them in a complete state of bewilderment.

The Minister stands before the people more or less in the position of a trader who on 18th March last went to his banker and said: "I have just concluded a disastrous year. My business is on the verge of bankruptcy. If things do not improve I will wind up my business and sell out and emigrate. In the meantime I would ask you to be patient with me and to give me time to realise my assets and discharge my obligation to you."

On 7th May, a couple of months later, he came back to his banker and said: "I have discovered that last year was the best year I had since I started business. I have money and to spare. My business is booming. Will you double my overdraft for the next 12 months and I shall have no trouble whatever in paying you back because things were never better?"

Which fellow would the banker prefer to meet?

(Cavan): But he was meeting the same man. I am asking what would the banker think of this man. Would he not think he was gone crazy or that he was some sort of a confidence trickster trying to pull a fast one on him? I do not think I could be described as being unfair to the Taoiseach, to the Minister for Finance or the Minister for Industry and Commerce if I say that they behaved on the 18th March last as the down-and-out trader I have just described and that the three of them came back on 7th May to the banker with the optimistic outlook of that trader.

This House does not have to take my word for the behaviour of the Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance and other Ministers in recent months. On 18th March the Minister for Finance, Deputy Haughey, requested time on Telefís Éireann to address the nation. We were duly warned on earlier programmes that day that the Minister for Finance intended to address the people. The people were alerted that he had a profound statement to make and many of them went out of their way to be at home at their television sets to hear what he had to say. The Minister came on television grim-faced, in a serious mood, appealing to the people, with, as he said, all the sincerity and all the power at his command, to exercise restraint. He warned them that this country was in a bad financial and economic state. He impressed the people considerably and not alone did he get the full attention of television viewers but the following days he controlled the front pages of all the national newspapers. The Irish Times on Wednesday, 19th March, the following day, carried this headline: “Grim Budget Forecast by Finance Minister. Says deficit may be well over £50 million.” And the Minister for Finance on that fateful 18th day of March is reported as follows:

Mr. Haughey said the choice before the nation was simple. Either a tough Budget, a cut-back on social spending, a credit squeeze, import restrictions and unemployment or higher living standards.

Lower down in the same newspaper he is quoted as making this statement:

We came into this year with very real financial problems. During last year money incomes went up on average by 10 per cent while national production rose by only five per cent. We carried this inflation into 1969. When incomes and the price of things bought by those incomes each start to rise the pressure of events chases both upward at an increasing rate.

But here is the most important thing of all he said, because we know he has attempted to go back on this speech since that and say that he was giving warnings about what might happen if certain restrains were not exercised and if certain belt-tightening operations did not take place. Here is something in this reported speech of the Minister for Finance about which there cannot be any doubt. He said:

To frame a Budget to meet the situation was clearly going to be a formidable task anyway. There would have to be increases in taxation, with small, if any, increases in benefits for those who would normally be expecting them.

That is a fair indication of the speech made by the Minister for Finance on 18th March. Indeed, it was followed up by the Taoiseach the next day when he shook the nation by endorsing every word that the Minister for Finance had said and went further and said that such was the state of the economy, that in order to show good example, in order to try to correct the position: "We, the members of this Government, are prepared to suffer a reduction of 15 per cent in our salaries". Surely that was an endorsement of the Minister for Finance? Surely that was an unprecedented action taken by the Taoiseach on behalf of himself and the members of the Government? Not since the foundation of the State, except for the gimmick of reducing salaries in 1932— the Parliamentary Secretary might not know this, but never in the history of this State——

I thought it was the reduction of old age pensions the Deputy was talking about.

(Cavan): I am talking about the former Leader of the Parliamentary Secretary's Party who said nobody was worth more than £1,000 a year.

Cad mar gheall ar an méid a dubhairt Aire de shean Rialtas Chumann na nGaedheal, trá a fuair duine bás leis an ocras, nach raibh de dhualgas ar an Rialtas obair do sholáthar do dhuine ar bith.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 14th May, 1969.