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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 14 May 1969

Vol. 240 No. 8

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.)

When I reported progress I was referring to the difficult position in which the Opposition Party find themselves in regard to this Budget. While they are trying to find fault with it and to run it down, nevertheless, if there is any vote-catching involved it is definitely coming from their side of the House. Evidently they look upon this year as an election year and, perhaps, this is the reason they did not oppose the Financial Resolutions necessary to implement the various benefits given. Perhaps, this is the reason they are letting the Budget pass unopposed, because they know that the electorate would not look kindly on any action which would deprive the people of the benefits contained in the Budget, as they did on former Budgets.

I was just about to deal with education where tremendous advantages have been made by this Government. The increased amount for education is a clear indication of the Government's policy in regard to education. We look upon it as an investment and today no longer is it a question of whether parents can pay for their children's education because education is available to all children regardless of their parents' income. This is something we have been working for and looking forward to for a long time. We have been accused by Opposition speakers of introducing gimmicks and making promises in order to get back to power. We never tried such methods because those are the methods adopted by the Opposition and they have failed down through the years. We acknowledge the ability and intelligence of the electorate and that is why we have been successful in election after election. We had free post-primary education on our books coming up to the last general election but we did not put it forward then as an election gimmick to win us votes.

Deputy MacEntee criticised it.

It was in the pipeline.

Fianna Fáil had no such thing.

We did not announce it at the time of the general election.

Deputy Fahey should be allowed to speak without interruption.

The Deputy is making a cod of the whole thing. They never thought of it in 1965.

It was announced in the by-elections——

The only Fianna Fáil Deputy to mention it was Deputy MacEntee.

I shall name the Deputy if he does not keep quiet.

The Minister would not do a thing like that.

Do not try me.

Deputy Fahey without interruptions, please.

When it was announced in the by-election I remember how it was scoffed at and how it was said that we would not have the resources in teachers or schools to implement the free education policy. I remember how the transport policy was scoffed at and how an effort was made to fool the people of Waterford and Kerry in the by-elections. These by-elections stopped all talk of a general election until now. We continued to win by-election after by-election since the people of Waterford and Kerry gave their answer to the Opposition at a very difficult period when the country was going through severe difficulties——

Brought about by Fianna Fáil.

——in common with most other countries and far wealthier and larger countries than ours. We had to face these difficulties and did so regardless of the fact that we were on the eve of a by-election.

Why did Fianna Fáil not hold the last three by-elections? Why did they wait ten months?

Deputy L'Estrange should let Deputy Fahey make his speech. He is quite capable of doing so in his own way.

Why does he not tell us these things?

I also remember that in their bid to win votes in the by-elections in Waterford and Kerry Fine Gael promised free post-primary education but the big difference was that they said it would not cost the taxpayer a penny in extra taxation. The people of Waterford and Kerry were not misled on that occasion any more than the people of the country will be misled on the occasion of the next general election by Opposition suggestions that if they were the Government they would give more. The people will not believe them.

Why does the Minister for Finance not allow for buoyancy in this Budget?

The people know well that the Opposition have no prospect of fulfilling what they promise out of the buoyancy of the economy. They remember too well that in the coalition period of government there was no buoyancy and that the economy was brought to the verge of bankruptcy.

Did the Taoiseach not admit today that there are now 60,000 fewer people employed than in 1957?

And that 400,000 had emigrated?

The Chair does not intend to continue requesting Deputies to cease interrupting. In future the Chair will insist that interruptions cease and that the Deputy be allowed to make his contribution.

I think the Chair is right; we are only helping him.

Helping or not, the Chair will insist that the interruptions cease.

It is very noticeable that this show only comes from the Opposition when the Gallery is full.

Of schoolchildren.

I do not know which policy Fine Gael would implement if they had the chance as they have so many but we know it would be a policy of unemployment because this morning we had Deputy Fitzpatrick criticising the investment that has been made in industry. Without such investment we would not be able to employ our people at home. We all realise that the number of people finding a living on the land has fallen considerably and is continuing to fall but, thanks to Fianna Fáil policy, this is more than offset by the number finding employment in industries, industries sponsored by Fianna Fáil since they first began the industrial revival in the 'thirties. This is, and will continue to be our policy until we bring about the position in which nobody will have to emigrate because of economic necessity.

What about the Shannon scheme that the Deputy's Party described as a white elephant?

This is a very sore point with the Opposition and in particular with Deputy Fitzpatrick who seems to have set himself the task, whether speaking for the Fine Gael Party or not, I do not know, of stabbing industry in the back at every opportunity. He did not like to be found out with the document he was circulating in Cavan in connection with the Verolme Dockyard in the constituency of Deputies Corry and Cronin. This is typical of Fine Gael and their many policies that Deputy Fitzpatrick, in trying to win votes on a matter in County Cavan, did not worry about the effect on Fine Gael Deputies in Cork. That has been Fine Gael policy through the years. They have changed their name a number of times and are considering changing it again.

What about the Republican Party?

The extraordinary thing is that when considering the change this time they sent letters to a number of Fianna Fáil county councillors in my constituency to know whether they were for or against changing the name of the Fine Gael Party.

That is pure democracy.

Are they going to change the name?

That is a secret like the general election: the Minister must wait and see.

We are proud of the number of people employed in industry and we sincerely hope that we shall be in a position to continue that policy after the next general election.

After the 18th June.

Whenever it comes, we shall be back.

We would have less fun in the House without the Deputy.

We shall be back because the people realise that there is nobody to replace us except another Coalition Government and they had enough of that on two previous occasions. We know they will not knowingly again fall for a Coalition Government. That is why there is so much talk at the present time that we will not have a Coalition in future.

They did not believe you in the referendum.

The referendum was mentioned by Deputy Fitzpatrick and by other Deputies on the Fine Gael benches and the cost of the referendum has been referred to. We on this side of the House are proud of the fact that we held a referendum and gave the people an opportunity of deciding the system of voting that should be adopted. The Minister for Finance has already explained the difficulties of winning in a referendum. We are not worried about those things. We are satisfied when we do the right thing and are seen to do the right thing. Time will prove us right with regard to our proposals in the referendum and time will prove the Leader of the Fine Gael Party and Deputy Oliver Flanagan and others who support him, right.

The Deputy will appreciate that we cannot discuss the referendum. The Chair already ruled it out this morning.

Did Fianna Fáil win in the referendum?

The question of the referendum does not arise.

I thought Deputy Fahey was making the case that Fianna Fáil won it.

I have concluded my remarks with regard to the referendum. Reference was made by Opposition speakers to the Minister's appearance on television to discuss the economic situation.

To what he said, not to his appearance.

He was dealing with the economy in the year that was ahead.

One could not find fault with his appearance.

His appearance on television was well worthwhile and very successful and had the desired effect. Maybe that is what has annoyed the Opposition Parties. We had an outstanding year in 1968 in which we enjoyed a 5½ per cent growth in the economy. This is something we want to repeat and even improve on in the years ahead. If we are to do this it was necessary to have restraint all round and to ensure that nothing would happen to upset the progress we had planned for ourselves.

"For ourselves".

This is what the Minister for Finance appeared on television to ensure. We can all be thankful that he was so successful. I do not think the Opposition should feel so badly about it. This time next year, unless our economy is in good shape and unless our prospects are as good as they are now, we will not be able to have as generous a Budget as we had today. If the economy makes the progress that we have mapped out for it we will be able to improve on the concessions we have given to the people today and will be able to give them more in the Budget. We will not consider whether the year in which the Budget is introduced is an election your or a post-election year, we will do the best we can for all sections of the community on all occasions. We know that the Fine Gael Party in particular never believed in the future of this country. Whenever the economy is in difficulties they appear to revel in that fact. They appear to want to make political capital out of it.

The Deputy knows quite well that we set up this State in spite of Fianna Fáil.

This attitude of Fine Gael is something the people will always frown on.

There was a time when one had to wear bullet proof waistcoats.

The people are proud of their country and of the progress it is making. They will never fall for this Fine Gael attitude that if this year is a good year next year will be a bad year and that if next year is bad the year after will be twice as bad. This has always been the Fine Gael attitude.

If the Deputy's Party had had its way, we would have no country.

Will Deputy L'Estrange cease interrupting?

Deputy Fahey should be old enough to know that if his Party had had its way we would have no country.

We had Deputy James Dillon of the Fine Gael Party at every opportunity saying that the country was gone bust, that we were bankrupt. It was all wishful thinking. As was mentioned by the Taoiseach today there was the stab in the back that he gave with regard to the National Loan in connection with which the people showed their confidence in Fianna Fáil when it was over-subscribed in a short period of time. One thinks of the efforts of the Coalition Government to raise money by way of National Loan.

Some of your own loans in years gone by failed.

Interruptions are disorderly.

Would you wish me to name the Deputy?

That is the Minister's privilege.

The success of our National Loans is a clear indication of the confidence of the people in the ability of the Fianna Fáil Government to rule this country. Despite the tactics of the Opposition, we continue to enjoy that confidence and will continue to enjoy it for many years to come.

This being an election year, many suggestions are made by the Opposition based on wishful thinking, trying to create the impression that the Fianna Fáil Party no longer represent the underprivileged people in this country. In this Budget we have given the people a clear indication that we have not wavered one iota from our policy down through the years and that we are as concerned and as interested in giving concessions to the least well-off sections of the community now as we have been down through the years and will continue to do this.

Do you remember the £9 million food subsidies whose removal affected the poorer sections?

If Deputy L'Estrange does not cease interrupting I will have to ask him to leave the House.

I am going now anyway.

I have already expressed my appreciation of the difficulties of the Opposition with regard to this Budget but they are trying to create the impression that we are going to have a mini-Budget in the autumn.

Fianna Fáil are getting fond of the minis.

There was a mini-Budget last year which was brought in for a specific purpose, which was to pay increased amounts to the agricultural community in particular arising from the very good year that they had. There was an unexpectedly good yield of grain crops and it was a good year for grass. This meant an increase in the amount required for subsidies for wheat, beet and milk production. There was also a round of pay increases for those employed in the public sector which had to be paid for. All these were matters that could not be provided for in the Budget in the spring. This is something that the people are well aware of. As the House has already been assured, we never planned for a mini-Budget or any such thing but if it is necessary to provide money for unforeseen circumstances, then a mini-Budget is necessary. Unfortunately, there is no other way of finding money than by way of taxation.

While on the subject of taxation, I should like to express to the Minister my appreciation of the fact that the essentials of life are not taxed in order to bring these many improvements into the lives of the people.

I should like to refer to the great progress that has taken place throughout the country in the provision of housing, the improvement of farm buildings, roads, rural electrification and in the provision of many other amenities of life to the people of rural Ireland.

I can assure you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, that the people of my constituency would be very reluctant, indeed, to risk a change of government and to risk being denied the many benefits they have got under Fianna Fáil government. We are confident that the people appreciate this Budget for what it is and that when the general election comes we will again have a Fianna Fáil Government, a Fianna Fáil Minister for Finance and a Fianna Fáil Taoiseach to lead this country in the years ahead.

Of all the many inflictions that we have had to bear as politicians in this cruel and terrible life which we lead not the least has been the ceaseless pattern of cliché, the unending reiteration of the commonplace, in defence of the Fianna Fáil position which everybody knows has been, is now and remains totally indefensible.

I often feel a sympathy for the Minister for Finance. Sitting here this morning as he was or at some time during ing the day it so happened that a shaft of sunlight fell directly upon him.

The Holy Ghost.

That was a halo.

There was an appearance of a halo but I am sure it was an illusory one.

It passed over quickly.

There must be some reward somewhere, completely outside of this House and outside of this avocation of ours, for having to endure the constant reiteration of meaningless platitudes which goes on here, particularly at Budget time and during discussion of the Estimates. There is almost a kind of singsong pattern about it. If one were able to write music one could write a tune to it quite easily. It goes up and down. This goes for, or is alleged to go for, considered opinion as to the merits or demerits of the Financial Statement of the Minister.

Of course, this is a Budget designed to attract votes. This matter of vote-catching has been decried here as if it were a kind of unnatural vice. Does everybody not know that politicians must get votes in order to be elected? There is nothing wrong with trying to attract votes. Indeed, if one does not attract them he will not find any space reserved for him here. We had this nonsense from Deputy Fahey that this is not a vote catching Budget. If it is not, then I say the Minister for Finance is not doing his job for his Party. He is not doing his job if he is not trying to attract votes with his Budget and with whatever policy he is trying to pursue. Every conscious act of a political Party or a politician must lean, in the last analysis, upon the support of the people. You can call that vote catching or what you like. It is a fact.

Of course, those who never venture into the arena of contest, into the contest of seeking the popular suffrage, very often know more about it than those of us who bear, God knows in our very souls, the scars of battle. One will find, even in this House—and I do not refer to Members of this House— know-alls whom I hope to see when the election comes, whenever it comes, because they seem to have the answer to everything——

Hear, hear.

——stand for election on whatever Party ticket they like or as Independents and let us see how far they get with their nostrums and their all-embracing knowledge as to what is good for this nation. They can have their teach-ins and teach-outs, love-ins, lie-outs or whatever they like, adopt any policies they think will uplift this nation. I am prepared to say that, when the drum sounds for battle, they will join that long and lonesome trail of lost deposits and find their way down along that line.

They would not have the temerity to stand.

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.

Twelve per cent for 2½ years.

Then, of course, they won the by-election, largely on foot of that piece of propaganda. Subsequently, when difficulties arose, the Government sought to wash their hands of any responsibility though it was obvious to everyone that they had, in fact, instigated and initiated the situation which followed the 12 per cent increase. It is no use giving increases to the workers, be they small or great, unless the Government are prepared to control prices. The Government have shown no inclination whatsoever to control prices. This is the fence at which they baulk. The 10/- increase to the old age pensioners and other social welfare recipients will have little reality unless prices are kept at their present level. I take a dim view of Deputy Charlie Haughey, Minister for Finance, increasing the price of the pint. It is literally a body blow to the workers all over the country but to the workers in Dublin in particular. The price of the pint is now 3/1d.

The Minister is getting 1/6d out of it.

That pint of stout in terms of gravity is about the same strength as a pint of plain which was obtainable at sevenpence 22 or 23 years ago. It may be argued that one surely would not object to paying twopence more on the pint when that twopence is going to the old age pensioners. I am quite certain no worker would object to that if he were satisfied that the twopence was going exclusively to the old age pensioners and the other social welfare classes. But there is no such guarantee. The tax collected will be spent in many directions. I would have thought that the Minister for Finance would have had a better appreciation of the feelings of his own townspeople in this. He should have found some other method of raising the money needed to increase old age pensions, social welfare benefits and children's allowances other than the method he has used.

There must come a point of diminishing return. It seems to me that both the drink trade and the cigarettes must be very near that point now. The cheerful talk the Minister indulged in about buoyancy of revenue and the probability of over-estimation will avail nothing if returns start to go down. I do not say that in any sense of wishing it to happen. Far be it from me to comment at all upon the desirability or otherwise of drink. As one who was, for a very long part of his life, an afficionada of the “pint” and who still retains nostalgically a very strong feeling, not to say affection, for the “pint”, it does not behove me to make any critical comment upon it as a beverage—but they tell me it is not what it was.

I am sorry greater provision is not made for public works, which are so essential. It is obvious from Fianna Fáil politics, as it is worked out, that some public works have an inexhaustible potential: some of them go on forever. I recall, as I mentioned here before, one particular project announced by my gracious colleague from whom I am shortly, regretfully, to have to part as representative for County Dublin. I recall him announcing to a joyful audience in the Naul almost 25 years ago, the imminence of the North County Dublin Regional Water Supply Scheme. Shortly thereafter, eager and anxious young men were seen venturing forth from the Custom House armed with files and maps on their way to the interior of North County Dublin, an assisting county council worker holding the levels. They created a tremendous furore. For year after year after year, in the vastness of such places as Spricklestown, the Nag's Head, Skiphubble and Skidoo, all of which are townlands to those of us who have had the high honour of representing in this House the people of those areas——

It was like the case of the Shannon.

The people were promised this project, under Fianna Fáil policy, and various Budgets made provision apparently for large sums to be spent upon this mighty task. The years have passed by. The best years of our lives—of Deputy Burke's life and of my life—have passed by and mention has been heard here and there of strangers appearing in fields and taking levels. It was only, I think, about ten years ago—certainly within the past decade—that anything of a more concrete nature was presented. By that, I mean that there was held some kind of an opening ceremony at the Spa Hotel in Lucan when the then Minister for Local Government, Deputy Blaney, was presented with a piece of Georgian silver to mark some stage—I think it was the unveiling of the plans. In latter years, our constituents have seen here and there along the main roads an odd pipe or two: it must be the "pipeline" to which the Minister for Education refers so frequently.

I mentioned recently in this House, while the period since its conception has seen the construction of the Aswan Dam, if not the Tennessee Valley Authority, and, indeed, mankind has flung people into space with such progress that, next Sunday, one of them will be within ten miles of the moon, we have yet to see water flowing through the pipes of the North County Dublin Water Supply Scheme. It is now 25 years since that scheme was conceived by Fianna Fáil. It typifies the kind of stagnation that can grip the mind of a Party which has been for far too long in office.

I do not think it is helpful to discuss who did what in the past. We had talk about what the inter-Party Government did for the old age pensioners, about what Fianna Fáil did for the old age pensioners, and all this kind of nonsense which has little relevance to what is going to happen tomorrow in this country and particularly to what is going to happen to Ireland in the context of what now seems to be the inevitability of the Common Market. We were all very glad to see, of course, the ex-President of France, General de Gaulle, arrive here. We are delighted he has discovered something which we have always known, namely, that one of the most beautiful places on God's earth is the piece of country where he is now having what we hope is a restful holiday. We hope he is just the leader of many hundreds of thousands of people who will come there from France to enjoy the hospitality of the Kerry people and to enjoy the Irish countryside.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 5 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 20th May, 1969.