They would not regard it as temerity—superior beings, some of them. It has been said that politics is a dirty game. It has certainly been made dirty by certain gentlemen who are not participants in the arena over the past decade or so. It has been made dirty and to those who would describe politics in that fashion let them have a look at business, that ordinary affair called business or commerce, and compare the standards of conduct of people in ordinary commerce or business with the standards of conduct of politicians as a class. Everybody sees what the politician does because his life is of necessity verily a public life, but very few know about the secret knifings and the guerrilla warfare and the selfishness that are pursued under the so-called name of business.
Lest the Leas-Cheann Comhairle should call me to order as being irrelevant, I want to come to the question of the Budget, which is the matter we are charged with discussing today. I did not have the opportunity of being present when the Taoiseach was speaking this morning but I get a feeling that we are not very distant from a general election. It would not surprise me if this Dáil had not many more hours to live. I feel it is only right that someone among us should comment on the fact, while the opportunity presents itself, that on the occasion of the dissolution of this Dáil, when it does come, there will be passing from our midst, into retirement, one of the greatest living orators, one of the most talented users of spoken English that exists in the world to-day or has existed for some time. I refer to Deputy James Dillon.
One did not find oneself in agreement with much of what Deputy Dillon believed in. It was difficult to go along with him on very many issues but, having known him for over 18 years, one could not but admit—and even his most bitter enemy in the Fianna Fáil Party, who hated him like the devil hates holy water, could not but admit —his courage. Whatever he had to say he said it, and said it in a manner which was incomparable in its application of the correct use of English. I have known him to hold spellbound the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, holding the name of Ireland high amongst the professional politicians of the world. From that point of view, to me at any rate as one who admires great artistry and great skill in any occupation, it is a matter of considerable regret that he has announced that he will no longer be seeking a seat in Dáil Éireann. It may be, of course, that time will change his decision on that. I do not know. I do not speak in terms of support for the political views he was went to express, and expressed even very recently, but we must realise that we have come to a stage of some kind of civilised society in Ireland in which everything is not related entirely to the events of 50 or more years ago.
I suppose it would not be inapposite to describe the Minister for Finance as a dual crisis politician. Over the years in this House we have heard mention of dual purpose cattle. Someone produced the notion of a dual purpose hen. Now we have, to make it a threesome, a dual crisis politician. This is the acid test of Fianna Fáil sincerity in their presentation of what they are pleased to call their policies to the people. I saw and listened to the television appearance of the Minister on the occasion when he warned us of impending doom. It reminded me of a somewhat similar event which took place in 1948 when His Excellency, Uachtarán na hÉireann, who was then Mr. de Valera, Leader of the Fianna Fáil Party, in the course of a tour of Ireland, laid it down as absolute Holy Writ that, if the Fianna Fáil Party were not returned to power in 1948, the country was doomed—doomed if he did not get back into the position of Taoiseach.
That was the thought which came into my head as I sat looking at the Minister for Finance conjuring up the dreadful economic fate which he said would befall this nation. In what circumstances? If the workers did not stop looking for more wages. Those were the circumstances. Nothing else was referred to. The question of increased prices may have been brushed against. The question of profits was not mentioned at all. What was hammered home in that broadcast was that a great danger to our existence might be constituted by the workers looking for a few shillings more. Because the maintenance men had got £4 a week, or something of that nature, if claims were pursued by other workers this country could be brought, according to the Minister, to the brink of ruin.
Why is it that invariably when a whipping boy is wanted for inefficient administration—and this applies to employers who run their businesses badly as well as to a Government who are not discharging their obligations as they should—the people who are blamed are the workers? The collective term "workers" has come to mean in the public mind urban and city workers which is totally wrong, of course, because the small farmers are workers, many of them not as well-off, indeed, as labourers in towns and cities. I need not say what the social position is of the farm labourers, such few of them as still continue to exist. Farm labourers were described by Davitt in his day as the slaves of slaves. I saw them in my own lifetime as the slaves of slaves and they were made to feel that, too. There are not many of them left because, after all, if you could scrape together the price of the trip to Holyhead anything was better than being a farm labourer. That was the feeling in the bulk of cases anyway. You might find the odd instance of a happy relationship between farmer and farm labourer, but it was not very often you discovered that. Nowadays they have disappeared as a class.
When workers are referred to, that word is taken by the public to mean urban and city workers. I want to put forward this proposition now to Dáil Éireann: the people who produce more in this country than any other section, the people who are the real basic producers, are the city and town workers and for this reason: they have got to account for every minute of their time. When they go in, in the morning, they punch a clock. No casual strolling for them. They punch a clock and their time is measured out in minutes, and quarter hours, and half hours, and hours, whether they work in factories or at building jobs or whatever. They must produce for the time they are there and this continual pressure is upon them, that every moment of the time spent on the job is spent in actual production. I say they are unique and that they are the basic producers of Ireland.
There was a time when other arguments were used here to suggest that the workers as a class were really getting it easy, that they had a far better life and an easier life than the people in the rural areas. That is not so any longer. If there can be said to be a more sophisticated life in the cities—and how can one apply the description "sophisticated" to the ordinary amenities of modern living is something that defeats me, but the term is applied—it is paid for at a very high price in terms of production, in terms of the wages which workers receive. The average worker living in a corporation house with a family of four or five children, facing the problems of the cost of living with a basic wage of £13 or £13 10s, which is the average basic wage in the city, is up against it economically in a sense that applies far more stringently than might be said of other groups in the community, because everything that comes in through his front door he has to pay for in hard cash.
In the matter of rent alone for every corporation or council tenant in Dublin or throughout the country, there is a big element of rates. I was hoping that in the Budget there would have been an effort made by the Minister, who, after all, represents a Dublin constituency, to relieve Dublin city of the very high charge put upon them in respect of health. However, that did not materialise. I am disappointed in that because I gave credit for much more progressive thinking to the Minister for Finance than I would to his obdurate colleague, the Minister for Local Government, who rejects all suggestions, even suggestions made by his friends, as a matter of principle. The Minister had the opportunity to do something about the Dublin position but he chose not to. This is something which will affect, I am sure, the results of the election when it takes place, as Dublin people are just about fed up being treated in the manner in which they have been treated.
Why all the boasting and bragging about the 10/- for old age pensioners? We have thought ourselves into a pauper mentality in this House, and many people outside have done the same. We think when we give 10/- to old age pensioners it is a great gaisce entirely, that we have done something wonderful. Fianna Fáil think this will sweep them back into power. I do not think any Government should take any bows for what is no more than a token contribution towards the problems of old people. No doubt it will be held up as something of tremendous value by Fianna Fáil when they come to seek support at the polls.
It is time an election took place because there is a great deal of uncertainty and frustration about. In the period which has passed since the last general election there has been, not alone in this country but one might say in the world, a convulsion and a radical change in the attitudes of many people towards this question of how a country should be run and what the role of the State should be in relation to finances, business and so on. All this has happened largely since the last election took place and it has had its effect in the country. We have seen the civil rights situation develop in the north of Ireland, and in the south of Ireland there has been a stirring of social conscience in the existing political Parties, particularly among the younger people. This indicates that it is widely felt that not enough is being done in the direction of social reform and that what is being done is being done far too slowly.
The Taoiseach's attitude on the matter of calling a general election is childish. The days are gone when advantage was to be gained by keeping as a sort of schoolboyish secret the date of an election. We all know there will be an election in the near future. It is only a question of whether it is to be in a few weeks or in a few months time. The Parties have taken whatever steps are open to them to take to get ready for the election. Concealing the date of the election is a purile piece of nonsense. It would be far more realistic for the Taoiseach to say whether it is now or in three months time or whenever it is, so that the nation would know what to expect and could consider what changes it intends to make when the election takes place.
I am very disappointed in the Budget under a number of headings. The amount of £100,000 set aside by the Minister for recreational facilities is miserable. How far would £100,000 go to fill the vast void which exists in the amount of recreational facilities in the local authority areas? In most of the areas in Dublin where corporation houses are built there is no provision whatsoever for recreational facilities of the most rudimentary kind. There has been no provision even for things like assembly halls where people could meet to discuss their problems. The question of swimming pools for young people has been discussed here. I personally have mentioned it time out of number and I have raised it at meetings of the corporation in common with other members of that body. The provision of swimming pools in densely populated working-class areas is a problem to which the Government seems to have found no solution whatsoever. There is a very strong case to be made for the setting up of a Ministry to deal with the promotion of sports, the provision of facilities for sports, the provision of swimming pools and, indeed, the promotion of culture and an appreciation of the arts. A great deal could be done in the line of art appreciation. Young people have receptive minds and those minds should be developed to their fullest extent. The young people today have inquiring, questioning minds, minds which could be directed along cultural lines to the enrichment of their entire lives. The amount of money provided here is, in my opinion, a token sum.
I commend the Minister for what he has done in regard to relief from taxation in the case of writers and artists living here. That is a very progressive step. Anything which helps the arts and, incidentally, the tourist potential is to be commended.
Deputy Fahey, who preceded me, sang a paean of praise of himself and the Fianna Fáil Party. Fianna Fáil are very like an impressionable young girl; they are mesmerised with their own reflection. But even Fianna Fáil, incredible as it may seem, will pass away. Incredible as it may seem to their apologists, they will go the way of all flesh and they may go the way of all flesh with far greater celerity than they now think. I think we will have a big shift in political thinking at the next election. I do not wish to discuss the referendum; it is all very well to try to pretend now that it has no meaning, that we have dealt with the matter, but these things have consequences. People become convinced that the Government are trying to shove something across on them and, when Irish people become convinced of that, the seed of suspicion is sown in their minds. Irish people now suspect Fianna Fáil of wanting to govern them for all time. That, of course, will not be accepted by the people.
I mentioned earlier that I was looking at the Minister for Finance when he warned of impending disaster if the workers did not hold their hand and keep their demands down to a level, a completely unrealistic level, like 4½ per cent. He comes along at a later stage and, for purely political election expediency, he suggests that everything is 100 per cent and he denies that he ever said there was a crisis. It was proved clearly on television on Friday night that he did say there was a crisis and he could not deny it. The commentator clearly demonstrated that it was a fact that the Minister had in March last announced there was a crisis and, despite all the mental gymnastics of the Minister for Education, he could not get round that fact. It reminds me of a similar situation some years ago when, prior to a by-election, the Taoiseach of the day, Deputy Séan Lemass, said it was OK for the workers to go ahead with a claim for 12 per cent, or maybe it was 12½ per cent.