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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 20 Jan 1972

Vol. 258 No. 2

Economic Situation: Motion.

Debate resumed on the following motion:
That Dáil Éireann approves the Government's handling of the economic situation.
—(The Taoiseach.)

I was making the point last night that apart from their economic mismanagement the Government have endangered the future of the democracy of this State by the example they have given to the electorate of divisions within their own ranks. They have publicised their own rivalries, conducted their political differences in an unseemly fashion and generally, by their criticism of one another, brought down the whole conception of Parliament to a very low level indeed.

I said this Cabinet lacked authority and I went back to an old literary example in illustration of what I meant. In Shakespeare's play King Lear, Lear, having been removed from his throne, is met in the storm by the fool who says: “You have that in your countenance which I would fain call master” and Lear says: “What is that?” and the fool replies: “Authority.” I say authority is what this Cabinet lack. There is something real about a Government who enjoy the confidence and the trust of the people. Unfortunately this Cabinet do not enjoy that trust, that confidence. I said that probably the real reason for the mistakes they have made in the management of the economy, the blundering errors in their Budgets—the most recent example being the Budget of last year—was that their attention was elsewhere. Their attention is directed at the party navel. We know that the coalition Cabinet which now runs this country tugs in different directions. The safest thing for this country would be to permit that coalition Cabinet to go into opposition and allow the different tendencies within it to go their several ways. This would be the most healthy thing for the country. It is small consolation to the unemployed to realise that the affairs of the State are under the tyranny of this collective mediocrity. The affairs of this country cannot be dealt with efficiently and properly. This Government have been condemned by the business community, by the trade unions. They are now bringing us into Europe on an insufficiently argued, insufficiently negotiated case. Is it any wonder that there is a crisis of confidence in the country? Is it any wonder that, as a signal of the lack of confidence of the international community, there is a fall-off in the number of inquiries for new investment over the coming year?

Looking at the record of their delay and so on, the Prices Commission Report before Christmas enumerated many of the proposals that should have been taken over by the Minister for Industry and Commerce and at the beginning of each paragraph we read: "The Minister intends to legislate. The Minister intends to take action." There will be nothing original about the legislation of this Cabinet when they finally come to bring forward proposals for consumer protection. They will, of course, be borrowed from those of the British Parliament. These republicans have a notable lack of imagination when it comes to legislation. They do the old trick of borrowing from the British Parliament at Westminister and introducing it. I just wonder why there is this delay in bringing in this consumer protection which has been sought in that report and on which the Minister intends to act. There is no magic wand to settle our economic difficulties. I agree on that. We need a larger capital programme. We need an immediate review of the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement. We cannot, in this Parliament, say that the Government have not contributed to the economic mess in which we find ourselves. They engineered the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement and all the well-advertised latter day republicans were in the Cabinet that negotiated that biggest sell-out to British economic interests that has occurred since the war. Let us understand the enormity of the difficulty in which we find ourselves. There has been no greater rate of price inflation in this country than that which occurred during the Second World War. We have that rate of price inflation at present. If we were to look for an example of a similar rate of price increase we would need to go back to the emergency.

We are not exaggerating the situation or being alarmist. The situation has not been invented by the Labour Party. It has arisen solely through the incompetence of the Cabinet, through their failure to take action, because of their dilly-dallying, because of their self-absorption and their quarrels to the detriment of the ordinary people of the country. If they refuse to go to the electorate to seek a new mandate, all we can say for all of us is the Lord have mercy on us.

One would have expected from the Labour Party in particular in a debate of this kind, concerned with the social problems of unemployment and redundancy, a more constructive attitude rather than indulgence in the sort of fantasia and myth-making we have been subjected to by Deputy O'Leary. The facts of political life are that in the last general election the Irish people elected a Fianna Fáil Government. This Government are facing up to their responsibilities. They are dealing with their responsibilities and tackling the problems that will always arise from time to time in any community. That is what government is all about—dealing with problems. There will always be problems and it is the Government's function to deal with them as they arise.

At the present time there is worldwide recession, with unemployment in Britain running at about a million. There is substantial unemployment in the US. The world is going through one of these phases at the present time, caused in America by many factors including the Vietnam war and a general spill-over of economic difficulties and problems. We are a small country with a population of 3,000,000. We are a trading nation depending on external trade for our survival. Our prosperity, our standard of living, depend entirely on the degree we expand trade.

As a small trading country, we are, therefore, particularly vulnerable, on the periphery of Europe, whenever economic blizzards stir up in the world. This is a fact of life, economic, political, but an unwelcome fact of life. We cannot remain isolated in our own cocoon, in our own economic or political ghetto. We must trade to live, we must live with the world, and the world in which we are living is a very difficult one from the economic and financial viewpoints.

Deputy O'Leary spoke about the need for political change. There is no need for political change. We as a Government are facing up to our problems. There is total unity, total agreement, a completely united approach on the part of the Government to these problems. What we in the Government can do is to look at the various Departments and State-sponsored organisations and decide straight away to maximise capital spending on the part of Government Departments and State-sponsored bodies. This is precisely what the Government have done in this situation. The Taoiseach announced yesterday an increase of £50 million in the capital investment programme compared to the initial investment programme announced for last year. This is an increase of more than £20 million on the revised programme announced in the Dáil in the autumn.

What does this mean in practice? I will give a breakdown of the sort of figures involved. There will be an increase in the region of £4 million for the Department of Local Government to ensure that all housing submissions at the moment in the hands of the Department from local authorities will be cleared immediately. Local authorities are now being given complete freedom to go straight away ahead with all schemes which they have in their offices or which are with the Department for sanction. That is a practical matter which the Government can straight away do in the immediately sensitive area of housing where work can be commenced almost immediately. In the two areas of housing, in regard to private housing grants and local authority works, the signal now to the local authorities is to go ahead.

In the field of education, similarly, an additional sum in the region of £1.5 million is being made available to ensure the various school building programmes and extensions will straight away be cleared. The same applies to the various works in the Department of Health, in the Office of Public Works and in forestry. In the case of forestry there is an increase in the region of £0.32 million. In regard to Agriculture and Fisheries, there is an increase of £3.85 million. There will be an increase in the amount for Posts and Telegraphs to ensure that the various engineering and telephone works that are needed can be cleared immediately.

As regards my own Department, an additional sum in the region of £4 million is being made available to ensure that the State-sponsored bodies can bring forward their programmes of investment so as to provide more works. CIE at the present time require complete re-equipment in regard to coaches, railway wagon works and garage extensions. This programme, which was planned for next year, is being brought forward and this will provide employment for about 150 extra men.

The last big contract for vans went out of the country.

In the case of the ESB, £3½ million extra is being given to ensure that rural electrification, generating stations, construction and extensions, all very necessary capital works that might have been held up for lack of finance, will be cleared in the current year. The two State-sponsored shipping companies, B and I and Irish Shipping Limited, have been with me and we have had consultations organised between them and Verolme Dockyard in Cork so as to bring forward again shipping construction which will take place in Verolme. We have embarked on a long-term plan to ensure continuity of employment in Verolme and to insist that in the future this ship-building programme will be carried out in Verolme in conjunction with the Irish State-sponsored shipping companies who will build there in the future.

To be specific, B & I are straight away commissioning the construction of a new boat there which will cost in the region of £1 million. This will ensure continuity of employment at Verolme. Irish Shipping and B & I at the moment, apart from this precise commitment on which work will commence in the autumn, are having discussions concerning other ship-building projects to take place in Verolme and this will ensure continuity of employment there up to 1980.

In addition, extra funds are being secured for Bord Fáilte in regard to the various destinations and amenity works and facilities that various regional tourist organisations have in hand throughout the country. The House is aware that a lot of excellent work has been done in the past by Bord Fáilte and the regional tourist organisations in conjunction with the local authorities on piers, parks, roads, jetties, work in connection with the restocking of rivers, organisation of shoots, the building of swimming-pools, golf courses and so on. Over a wide area of amenity activity which is important from the point of view of having a better tourist plant, as it is known, there is scope for enormous employment, spread throughout the country on small essential works here and there in every county, and I am securing an extra allocation for Bord Fáilte for local improvement works. Similarly, my colleague, the Minister for Local Government, is securing an extra allocation for local improvement works of a similar kind. Employment can be dispersed throughout the community in works and amenities necessary from the point of view of improving tourist attractions and from the practical point of view of giving immediate employment. I mention these matters to emphasise that what this package is concerned with is providing immediate employment in so far as the State, the various State Departments and State-sponsored organisations can remedy the situation. We are doing everything possible. The extra £20 million-odd, which will give a £50 million increase on the capital vote this time last year, means that all works under the various State and State sponsored headings that need to be started are being started; they are being started and the funds brought forward and made available to ensure immediate "go" on all works that require finance in order to get going. So far as finance is concerned we are giving everything that can be given. Any work planned, sanctioned or ready to go under any of the State operations that I have mentioned will commence immediately. There is no question of anything being held up for lack of finance. The finance is being made available. That is the purpose of this exercise. The sums have been done. The precise details will be announced within the next few days. This extra £20 million odd that I have mentioned will mean an immediate bringing forward for straight away clearance of all capital operations which can give employment.

This is what government is all about. This is precisely what is being done. I want to emphasise again that the Labour Party should concentrate on the practical matters that require attention rather than on the political playacting we had last night from Deputy Michael O'Leary.

There is one matter to which I wish to refer. It has been causing some comment in the media. I notice in today's papers, and I noticed on previous occasions, that there has been ill-informed comment coming from some commentators and editorial writers to the effect that when there is not a quorum in this House that for some reason this indicates a lack of interest on the part of the Dáil and Parliament in important proceedings here in the House. I speak here for all political parties and for all people who believe in the function of a representative Assembly. This comment shows a remarkable lack of knowledge about how Parliament functions and how Governments function. It shows a lack of knowledge of how political parties and Deputies function. It is quite obvious that when somebody is making a speech on any particular matter in this House the only people who are required in the House at the particular time are his opposite numbers in the other political parties who will be making contributions after the speech has finished. This is how Parliament functions. There has been ill-informed criticism by some commentators and editorial writers this morning of the fact that a quorum had to be called during the debate last night.

I should like on behalf of all Deputies to indicate to these particular critics what was going on in the House last night. There was a full attendance of Deputies and Senators from every political party in the House. They were in the House though not necessarily in the chamber. The Fine Gael Party had an important meeting concerning the EEC and their future attitude towards it. This was a most important and fundamental meeting in so far as the major political Opposition party were concerned. Deputies and Senators were at that meeting during the debate last night. Our political party had a very important meeting, also concerned with the EEC, when outside economic and social experts came in to give a dispassionate factual account to our members in our parliamentary party rooms on the full implications of our entry to the EEC. There were over 50 members of our parliamentary political party, both Deputies and Senators, in attendance at that meeting.

The two main political parties were engaged last night in important party meetings discussing the full implications of the most important step that has to be taken by the people and by this House in the current year, the question of our entry into the EEC and the full implications of this move and the various arguments for and against such entry and all the details concerned with it.

I want to emphasise this because there seems to be an illusion on the part of some commentators and editorial writers, and on the part of the new intellectuals in the Labour Party, that all that counts is attendance in the debating chamber. Debating in the chamber of the House is part of the parliamentary process. It is an important part but it is not the whole process. Apart from the meetings of the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael parliamentary parties last night to which I have referred the Labour Party have to have committee and party meetings at times and on these occasions they are not in attendance in the chamber.

It is rather interesting to note when we get down to our work here at 10.30 a.m.—I notice this regularly; I did not notice it just on this particular morning —the absence of many of these intellectuals in both the Fine Gael and Labour Parties. They have other interests to attend to but they are not in the Parliament of the people in the mornings to carry out the functions of such Parliament. These are the people who are apt to come in here at the tail-end of the evening when serious business is being done and seek to have a quorum called, or call attention to the absence of some Deputies. They seek to have a full muster of Deputies in the House. The Deputies may be engaged in important proceedings or in committee work which is essential if the whole process of Parliament and of Government and of Opposition is to continue in its democratic framework.

Last night in the House there was another meeting of our parliamentary party concerned with organisation. I was present at that meeting. There was also a meeting of the Committee of Procedure and Privileges at which Deputies from every side of the House were present. In my view, it would be an important education for people who presume to talk about Parliament and how it functions, and who presume to criticise it, if they set about learning the very elementary basic details of civics and of how Parliament, the political parties and the Deputies function. They should learn of the detailed committee work which is required outside the chamber of the House in order to keep the whole democratic process moving forward.

I should like to see a training course in basic civics for people who presume to write editorials and to make comments in newspaper columns and who presume to lecture Deputies and politicians. I include in that category some of the recent arrivals in the Labour Party who, despite their past 2½ years in the House, have not fully appreciated the basic conception of Parliament and of political parties and the basic details of how administration and Government and democratic politics function.

I commenced my remarks by dealing with the question of the Government facing up to their responsibilities by doing everything possible to cut down the unemployment figures and to create employment. The one practical way the State can do this is by opening the tap and providing all the finance that is required to bring works forward, to sanction works and to get activity in the various spheres of employment with which the Government are concerned and for which they have responsibility.

I referred to the various investments to give an immediate boost to employment. I did not refer to one aspect which may not be concerned with giving immediate employment but which is certainly concerned with long-term employment by way of boosting agricultural production and enabling more people to settle on the land. I refer now to the additional £8 million which is being given to the Agricultural Credit Corporation in the coming year. This sum is being authorised immediately so that the ACC will get an allocation of £18 million, which is an extra £8 million over what was proposed.

This is designed to ensure that farmers can fully equip themseves for Common Market conditions, so that they can get the greatest possible benefit from the undoubted attractions that will exist under Common Market policy. In the view of the Government the most practical way we can help the farming community to get the maximum advantage out of the price structure and the outlets that will exist is to maximise credit to the farming community so that farmers who want to avail of the undoubtedly favourable market conditions will be able to do so to the maximum extent by having credit available. The test and criterion to be applied is that the person who looks for credit is by and large the best person. The farmer who looks for credit is the best farmer. If he is seeking credit to expand his herd, to increase his cattle population, to fence and drain his land properly or to fertilise his holding, he is the type of man who should get it. The Agricultural Credit Corporation under the £20 million package will get £8 million additional funds. This will not have a direct effect on employment. It will result in employment indirectly in that the people on the land and who work it will need additional help.

We sometimes tend to leave the farmer and the agricultural community out of the employment calculations. They are an integral part of the overall work situation in the community. This additional £8 million to the ACC is a practical example of how to help the best farmers. I would like to see any further assistance that we give to farmers in the future being in the form of credit. I would like to see further assistance given towards reducing interest rates and making credit available more freely to farmers. In the favourable Common Market conditions the only thing that can hold the farmers back is lack of finance. The small and medium-sized farmer, if he is going to avail to the maximum extent of the 50 per cent increase in prices for cattle, beef and dairy products following our accession to the EEC, must have a holding that is working to the maximum extent. He can have that holding working to maximum efficiency only after investment in and improvement and total stocking of that holding.

The only other matter I should like to emphasise is that the trouble in which we find ourselves at the moment highlight the importance of our getting into a strong trading economic bloc such as the EEC. We are a small country with a population of some 3,000,000 people and we cannot on our own expand our prosperity; we cannot maintain and improve our standard of living unless we are involved in an economic trading bloc which will guarantee outlets for both our industrial and our agricultural exports. We cannot survive on our own in an economic ghetto. We cannot just sit here and use and eat what we ourselves produce. We are a trading nation and we are dependent on export outlets for our survival and for the improvement of our standard of living. The EEC represents the safest guarantee of ensuring export outlets for the future for our industrial and agricultural products. The managed agricultural market will ensure that the ups and downs that have been such a feature of agricultural production and prices over the years will disappear in a situation in which markets will be managed and prices guaranteed for the whole range of agricultural products.

In the EEC we will have a guaranteed continuing outlet for industrial products to 250 million people. This emphasises the importance of our getting into this economic bloc because, as sure as night follows day, if we do not get in, the sort of economic troubles we are having at the moment will increase one hundredfold. If we are outside the EEC, and Britain is inside, seeking to trade and to get over tariff barriers and quotas and levies imposed by the EEC, seeking to compete with other countries in that market and to surmount trading barriers, our position will be utterly impossible and, as I said, what we are experiencing now will be increased one hundredfold in the event of our not securing entry.

What the Government are now proposing in this economic package of an additional investment of £20 million is to ensure that everything is done by the State, by State Departments and State-sponsored organisations to bring forward works and ensure that employment flows as far as the State is concerned following on the various responsibilities undertaken by the State. Furthermore, the Government are actively pursuing the question of our entry into the EEC with a view to providing the guaranteed outlets that will minimise economic troubles in the future in both industry and agriculture by ensuring our link with trading outlets in which all sections of our community can prosper.

On these two fronts we are proceeding at the moment. There is evidence on both these fronts of a Government at work, fulfilling the mandate given to them by the people in 1969, a Government with every intention of staying there to ensure that their mandate is fully carried out. When that mandate expires we will, in the normal democratic way, go to the people and present the full package to them confident in the knowledge that the people will understand that a good job has been done and will, once again, reaffirm their confidence in Fianna Fáil as a Government.

I find myself in agreement with, perhaps, one or two sentences in the last portion of the Minister's contribution. He said there is some evidence of a government at work. I question the particular kind of work. There is evidence of a government working energetically to keep themselves in office by the presentation of figures and facts in a totally dishonest fashion, shading the issue in a way that might indicate to people not as close to the workings of the Government as it is our duty to be here in this House that things are not what they seem and that the Government are doing their job.

What are the facts? In the debate before Christmas the Taoiseach said that net emigration had been reduced to 2,000 persons. That figure was based on various things, including movements by sea and air. Yesterday he said that later figures show that we have got plus 1,000; we have 1,000 more people who have come home. What are the facts? First, there is grave unemployment in Britain and the unfortunate boys and girls who had to go to work there, the men on the building sites and the girls in hotels and catering establishments, now find that these jobs are no longer available to them because of a recession or because of deliberate inflation. For one reason or another jobs are no longer available for them there and they have been compelled to stay at home and register at the employment exchanges and draw unemployment benefit or, if not entitled to that, unemployment assistance.

This is the proof, if proof were needed, that the various programmes of economic expansion adumbrated by this Government have failed abysmally. Full employment was supposed to be the target, according to the Third Programme, by 1981. That included an unemployment figure of about 28,000; in other words, there would be 28,000 people who, for one reason or another, would be unemployable. This would be as near to full employment as we could get. In order to achieve this target we would need an increase of 8,000 to 9,000 new jobs per year. According to the Taoiseach, only 3,000 new jobs have been created. This figure does not show the true picture because it is based on a figure of 5,000 redundancies. This figure was repeated by the Minister for Industry and Commerce; indeed, he mentioned 8,000 new jobs.

Now, there are more ways of leaving a job than by becoming redundant. The arguments advanced by Ministers and by the Taoiseach are faulty. If they are not dishonest they are certainly shaded to cloud the issue. We have failed utterly to provide the number of new jobs the Government said were necessary if we were to achieve full employment by 1981. This is a failure on the part of the Government at a time when the terms of trade are running in our direction. Even those who represent urban populations know that the price of cattle has increased spectacularly. This is underlined by the balance of payments figure which emerged the other day. Even though it is still unsatisfactory it is not as unsatisfactory as it has been. This was commented upon by The Irish Times the day before yesterday.

This was quite clearly the result of an increase in cattle prices and an improvement generally in the terms of trade. While this was going on, the Opposition, while critical of the Government, were at all times most considerate that they would not put one man or one woman out of a job. I shall later in my contribution contrast that with my experience as a younger Deputy here in the 1950s and give instances of members of the present Government and people who were then members of the Government behaving at that time in an appallingly political fashion, behaving as this Government are now behaving, on the basis that the first and last thing was to keep themselves in their jobs or if they are out of their jobs to get them back as soon as humanly possible.

I want to refer to the increase in the Capital Budget which the Taoiseach gave yesterday as the answer to the problem and to contrast that with the legislation introduced here not so very long ago when two things were done. One piece of legislation was a Bill which was to freeze wages until 31st December, 1971. On the same day another Bill, the Finance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill was introduced imposing further corporation profits tax on the companies of this country who needed their profits for reinvestment and for the defence of jobs as never before. I remember similar measures being introduced in days gone by when the late Deputy Seán Lemass was Minister for Industry and Commerce, and the first Bill I mentioned, namely, the Bill to hold back wages to a certain figure, was thrown aside by the trade unions, if not within days certainly within two weeks. There remained the second Bill, the Finance (Miscellaneous) Provisions Bill which, of course, became an Act and was to increase corporation profits tax and to do it retrospectively.

The reason given in the middle of 1971 for this was that there had to be £3.6 million collected for that year and £6 million in a full year and this country could not be run if that money was not collected. Yet when the chips are down, when the challenge of the Common Market approaches, when the Government have their backs to the wall, when they have failed in relation to the targets set out in the various programmes for economic expansion, when the best they can do is to provide an extra 3,000 new jobs when the target was 8,000 to 9,000; when all that has happened, out of the hat like a rabbit can come next year's Capital Budget, a provision that is normally secret and would be produced only three days before Budget day. If this happened in other Parliaments it would be a reason for resignation. Do we even know whether it is going to be done or not? While looking at some documents this morning, I just chanced to address myself to the annual report of the Industrial Development Authority for 1970-71. In a Review of Economic Trends, page 9, the first sentence is as follows:

The principal generator of economic growth in Ireland in future years will be investment in new and expanding export-based manufacturing industry. In the short run, the bulk of this investment will have to be sought abroad;

Just as the bulk of investment mentioned by the Taoiseach yesterday— and I deliberately use the phrase— will have to be sought abroad. As chairman of Louth County Council, knowing that we have four housing schemes for houses which are urgently needed lying with no reply from the Department of Local Government since 30th July, 1971, according to a report from our county architect which was before us last Monday, it is a solace to me that there will be at this stage an opportunity for the Department of Local Government to draw more money from some source for housing. It is a solace, I am sure, to the unfortunate people who are going to the labour exchange that they will have a chance of a job on one of these housing schemes.

I instanced at the beginning of my contribution the fact that the Taoiseach's figures shaded the issue. There is at the same time the fact that the Government can only do what they are able to do and that depends almost entirely on borrowing from abroad, which will be expensive. It will have the usual effect that the taxes paid on dividends will not go into our coffers but into the coffers of foreign nations. It will also mean that there will be an effect on our balance of payments.

What is the position of a Government who depend for investment from abroad, as instanced in the first sentence on page 9 of the Report of the Industrial Development Authority? Who had to sack four Ministers within the last 18 months? How many decisions were made at meetings of boards of directors on the Continent and in America that factories would not be established here because of the disturbed political state of the country, which can only be cleansed by a general election? The vast majority of the people want to see stability restored and they realise the only way this can be done is by a general election. This is the only way in which people will come here to employ the unfortunate people who are signing on at the labour exchanges. A general election will either reinstate the present Government in office, with the opportunity for the Taoiseach to change his team and provide stability or alternatively sweep them from office, as I believe will happen, and place us in government. Whatever faults and whatever virtues attach to any of the Minister still left in office one would not be incorrect if one said that every senior Minister, with the exception of the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste, was disposed of.

I am glad to see that my friend Deputy O'Donovan is here because I am sure he will remember this. In 1957 the Korean War and the Suez crisis created exactly the opposite to what the Government have today. They both created impossible terms of trade, impossible financial situations abroad and also very bad cattle prices. I remember at that time that the Tánaiste made his contribution on the basis of responsibility, respectability, how we all have to pull together to bring this State up, that criticism is wrong and the future of the people is more important than anything else. He asked question after question, day by day, about cattle prices. Every time he asked questions the prices had dropped 5s a cwt. My late father was selling plenty of cattle at that time and I know how the price was dropping but the Tánaiste who now produces himself as the very genius of responsibility did not give a twopenny ticket for anything but the reinstatement of himself and his party in office. It is not necessary to call to mind the actions of Deputy Neil Blaney or the debate at that time when there was heavy unemployment as a result of international affairs which do not affect this Government. Nothing affects this Government but their own behaviour.

I do not think I need call to mind the concluding speech on such a debate as this when the then Taoiseach, Mr. John A. Costello—anybody can go to the library and count the number —was interrupted 47 times. Those things show the nature of the Government who are still in office. We must accept the fact that we have reached the stage where decisions are being made all over the world not to set up industries in this country. We have the word of the Industrial Development Authority that most of the new jobs to employ our boys and girls here must come from manufacturing industries. Those decisions are not apparent to the ordinary people and this fact helps the Government. People who make decisions not to come here to set up factories do not shout it from the housetops. People in the financial streets of London and elsewhere who make decisions such as this do not go out and make speeches about them. They merely decide they will establish their factories in Britain or perhaps on the Continent.

I was amazed at the Minister for Transport and Power speaking about a capital operation that would employ people here, the provision of rolling stock for CIE. Does he know that the last major contract for £1.6 million was given to a British firm with consequent unemployment in Inchicore and in Dundalk and that he was publicly castigated by the then managing director of the Dundalk firm. Mr. Slazenger, who has since retired? He has been writing from America inquiring if the people in Britain who got the contract were keeping up to their delivery dates? Is the Minister going to build the rolling stock here? It ill behoves somebody who behaved so badly in the last year to mention this particular matter in which his failure was so spectacular and so disastrous.

We were then treated to a lecture on the excellence of Deputies and the fact that they have other duties in the House and we were told that if bells were ringing it was because Deputies were working elsewhere. I am here longer than he is and I know the rule of the House which is quite simple: on Government business the Government maintain a quorum and it is their fault if they do not. Many a time between 1954 and 1957 I was told to leave my tea or lunch and go to the Chamber and many a time I did and stayed here and maintained a quorum. If the Government, whatever meetings they had on—they have time to meet apart from when the Dáil is sitting— did not do that yesterday, it is their fault not ours. The rule of the House is well known to Deputies and I am sure to the Minister for Transport and Power.

What could have been done for sensitive areas where unemployment is not only rife but showing signs of becoming worse? We had action from the Minister for Industry and Commerce in regard to the textile trade while the Dáil was in Recess. Everything happens except the setting up of a circus on Leinster lawn while the Dáil is in Recess and nobody can talk about it. As spokesman on Industry and Commerce for my party for the whole of the review year ending July, 1971, I have been pestering the Minister for Industry and Commerce regarding action he could take under the Free Trade Area Agreement in respect of sensitive areas such as textiles, footwear, knitwear and other items. It is my duty now to draw attention to the fact that it was only in the last two months of 1971 that the Minister indicated his Department was considering making representations and only in the last month of the year did he indicate—whether he has done what Britain did in regard to the deposit scheme, and broken the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement, I do not know—that it was possible even after the year of review to have discussions and take action. His indication would be merely an interpretation of the agreement which I have read a few times and tried to interpret but which I cannot make up my mind about. In all the time when the proprietors of industries were strongly protesting against the extra corporation profits tax imposed when a double deal was attempted to pin down the workers on one hand—they would not have it and more power to them—and pin down the employers on the other and when one Bill had to be withdrawn and the other became an Act increasing corporation profits tax retrospectively —while this was going on and proprietors whether shareholders or individuals were complaining bitterly in every newspaper and when trade unions were complaining, the Minister sat and did nothing.

I shall show what he could have done. I refer the House to the Free Trade Area Agreement and Related Agreements, Exchanges of Letters and Understandings, Laid by the Government before each House of the Oireachtas, December, 1965, pages 62 and 63, Article 1, headed Import Duty. The first page indicates the reductions in duties as they go along but in Article 1, section (5) here is what the Minister could have done, and I quote:

During the year beginning 1 July, 1970 the Government of Ireland may conduct a review on the question whether any difficulties analogous to those specified in paragraph (1) of Article XIX, but of a more permanent character, have been caused or are threatened—

—mark you, "are threatened"—

—as a result of the operation of this Article, Article IV or Article VI. If the Government of Ireland are satisfied in this review that such difficulties exist or are threatened, the parties shall jointly consider whether they can be dealt with by action in accordance with paragraph (3) of Article XIX. If the Government of Ireland then conclude that the difficulties are so exceptional that they cannot be dealt with by such action, they may exclude the goods in respect of which this Article, Article IV or Article VI, provided that the number of goods so excluded shall be few and shall not account for more than 3 per cent by value of total imports into Ireland from the United Kingdom in the immediately preceding year.

That is one of the things he could have done. When we turn to Article XIX on page 82 of the same document we see that section (1) under the heading, Difficulties in Particular Sectors, says:

(1) If in the territory of either party—

(a) an appreciable rise in unemployment in a particular sector of industry or region is caused by a substantial decrease in internal demand for a domestic product, and

(b) this decrease in demand is due to an increase in imports from the territory of the other as a result of the reduction, modification or elimination of import duties, protective elements in fiscal charges or quantitative restrictions in accordance with Article I, IV or VI,

the former party may notwithstanding any other provision of this Agreement, limit those imports by means of quantitative restrictions to a rate not less than the rate of such imports during any period of twelve months which ended within twelve months of the date on which the restrictions came into force; the restrictions shall not be continued for a period longer than eighteen months, unless the other party agrees. The party applying the restrictions shall, if possible, inform the other before the restrictions come into force. The latter party may, at any time, propose measures designed to moderate any damaging effects of the restrictions or to assist the former party to overcome its difficulties.

Section (3) of that Article goes on:

(3) The parties may agree, in the light of the review for which provision is made in paragraph (5) of Article I, that the rate at which the remainder of the import duty or protective element shall be reduced in respect of imports of a product from the United Kingdom into Ireland shall be modified and, if necessary, that the period after which the duty or protective element is to be eliminated shall be prolonged, provided that any such duty or protective element shall be eliminated not later than 1st July, 1981.

What did the Government do? What did the Minister for Industry and Commerce do? What about the people in the textile industries, the spinning industries, in the knitwear and footwear industries who are in danger of losing their jobs or have lost them and swollen the ranks of the unemployed? The Government did nothing until kicked into doing it by the Opposition. Then it was too late and they did not tell us in detail what they did. I have outlined what they could have done. When Britain wanted to cure her balance of payments difficulties she made us deposit 50 per cent of the cost of every export we sent to them for six months and insisted on it. They insisted upon this in complete contravention of the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement. Action should have been taken nine or ten months ago. The debate in this House is a condemnation of the Government for not taking such action.

The Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement was a prelude to our entry into the EEC but it had safeguards. We are a small nation. My view of the bargaining that has been done with the EEC is that it has been carried out as though we were similar to Britain or Denmark, countries that have large resources. We have been dealing with the EEC on the basis of almost equal participation. I believe we could have got far better terms because our exports to these countries could not affect employment in the EEC countries. The goods that Britain has been exporting to us have seriously affected our employment.

It is not often that there is a situation where the head of the Government will not give full details of the money that is being provided for certain items but leaves it to a Minister in his Cabinet to do this. Of course, the Minister for Transport and Power is famous for having no problems and for producing figures out of a hat. He indicated that the ACC are to receive from the Government another £8 million. I should like to ask the Taoiseach if this is an extra £8 million in addition to the amount indicated in the Capital Budget which they were to lend, or is it a substitution for money they may not be able to borrow themselves in present circumstances.

When the Taoiseach was Minister for Finance I remember there was a deficit in the allocation to the ACC of £1.7 million. I asked a question about this and, being dissatisfied with the reply, I raised the matter on the Adjournment. Eventually the Taoiseach gave the undertaking I required, which was that if the ACC did not succeed in borrowing up to that amount he would guarantee to make it available from the Exchequer. I want to know if this is the same kind of exercise, if this money is an extra £8 million? Can the Taoiseach tell us if some of this money can be drawn now? The Taoiseach was much more vague than the Minister for Transport and Power but the Minister is more facile with his language and his facts.

It is not often that an eminent economist, a banker and businessman, criticises our political institutions but in the Irish Independent Mr. Don Carroll, former Governor of the Bank of Ireland, makes the following remarks:

For years past there appears to have been little in the way of a strategic plan for the economy. All the evidence suggested that political considerations were foremost and that the time scale of thought in Government circles related to the old adage "a month is a lifetime in politics".

I agree entirely with that remark. A month before the by-elections in Kildare and Cork we had not a shilling to rattle on a tombstone. Businessmen and workers were told to tighten their belts, but in the 48 hours preceding the by-elections it was indicated that 12 per cent was the correct amount for general wage increases and, because of the Army population in Kildare, there was an announcement of a decent rise in pay for the Army.

From that moment on, without any consideration for employment, this Government have related all their actions and considerations to maintaining themselves in power, even to the extent of placing people temporarily in employment in order to fool the people into believing that theirs was a good administration. The whole concept of a modern Government is that they must manage the economy, that the yearly Budget is probably insufficient so far as management of the economy is concerned. It is recognised that there may be a need at times to have a slight deflation or a slight reflation but if decisions are taken weekly or monthly, with constant thought for the economy and for the people, then the economy will prosper. If it is necessary to hurt anyone care should be taken to ensure that this is the minimum and every encouragement should be given to efforts to strengthen the economy. If these considerations are not taken into account we will have the situation that political events will have more relation to Government decisions than the number of jobs that may be affected. These are the things on which this Government have failed and they typify their behaviour during the 16 years I have been in this House.

How can the Taoiseach justify the deflationary line taken by the Minister for Finance? Some months ago our economy was deflated by the measures I have indicated and now there is an absolute necessity for reflation. Nothing has been done in the meantime. We have had various debates about Ministers who are in trouble, about whether they should or should not have acted in certain ways during some disreputable incidents. The Government have lost control and they have lost, in the sacking of Ministers, men of great experience. No business, no school or university, no political party or even a football team, can remove from their members four or five senior people— people who may or may not be colourful, and who have behind them the years of experience which allow them to sit in a council and give advice— and still have the same correct decisionmaking ability as it had before. It would take years before the people who replaced those who have gone would have the experience which they had. By then they might be better men.

There are many people in the Fine Gael Party and Labour Party with years of experience of Parliament. Some have experience in government. Some of us were here when our colleagues were Members of the Cabinet. They have the ability to negotiate and to defend jobs. The political horse who carried the top weight over the past 30 years was the Minister for External Affairs. When the Minister for Foreign Affairs was negotiating in Europe over the past few months I am certain that, every time he came into a room, and every time he went to a reception, having worked all day and his purpose being, perhaps, to meet his colleagues from other countries, and to get to know their views on something which was important to Ireland and important to them, and on which they might be able to agree, people were saying in French or Italian or Dutch: "You remember that he is in the job the other man was in. He was not with them. He was with the Taoiseach."

It is not possible to do business in that way. It is not possible for any Government to have the confidence of the people with whom they have to negotiate when there is this blot on the escutcheon, which was self-inflicted and which no one on this side of the House had anything to do with. It is quite clear that the only thing which will clear the slate is a general election.

The Deputy has now been speaking for 44 minutes.

In that case I will conclude. Over the past year by their actions in relation to the Finance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1971, and the Bill to pin down wages which was withdrawn, the Government have put people out of employment. They have failed to keep up with the quantification, which their ex-Minister for Finance objected to afterwards as being excessive, but which they laid down as the number of jobs per year which they had to provide. Their policies were wrong. I have adverted to the facts on which they were wrong. They may have to wait until after the referendum on the EEC, but they must go to the people because they have not got the men to retrieve the employment position.

We in the Opposition parties have been accused of scare tactics and of attempts at demoralising the country because we have taken over the leadership. We see a weak and vacillating Taoiseach who is involved in the dissensions within his party and who is unaware of what is happening to the country. The Labour Party and the trade unions drew attention to a serious economic crisis and for this we have been accused by the Taoiseach. We would be failing in our duty as public representatives if we did not bring the attention of the Taoiseach to the present unemployment crisis. We would be failing as the party of the workers if we did not seek extraordinary measures to remedy the present situation.

Whether we like it or not, and whether or not the Taoiseach tries to fool us in his breakdown of the figures, the fact is that 78,000 people are unemployed in this country today. This represents tragedy and depression in many homes. We know that already over one-fifth of our people are living in a state of abject poverty. If we take into account the families involved we come up with the figure of 250,000 people living in poverty. Despite this the Taoiseach has the audacity to say that the ship of State is safe. If there is nothing to worry about, why did the Taoiseach announce these emergency measures? We awakened him to the fact that a crisis exists. This is why he announced these measures in an effort to grapple with the situation with which he and his incompetent Cabinet—I would say the most incompetent Cabinet that ever existed in the history of the State—have not been concerned for so long.

The Taoiseach said that we were playing political football. He said we were indulging in our usual irresponsible antics because we said he was doing nothing. He said we made wild an inaccurate statements. I do not know if it is a wild and inaccurate statement if we draw the attention of the country and the Government to the fact that there are 78,000 people on the unemployment register. Is the Taoiseach proud of the fact that so many people are on the breadline? I would think he should be ashamed of it. He is so involved in bloodletting and purges within his party that he is completely unaware of what is happening. While the Taoiseach purged inflation surged. That has been happening while he has been involved in his party's internal dissensions and trying to keep a shattered party together oblivious of the fact that the country was in dire straits, and it is in dire straits whether we like to admit it or not.

In November the Minister for Finance said that everything was fine and that he had no cause for alarm. He said he had been keeping the economic situation under close and continuing review. I am wondering whether he was oblivious to the level of unemployment and to the economic crisis. He said the indications were that the national pay agreement was being maintained and that this, in conjunction with economic measures taken by the Government, had helped to stabilise employment and combat redundancies. The maintenance of the national pay agreement, he said, augured well for further improvement in the trend of prices and in industrial competitiveness. To my way of thinking this was a complete contradiction of facts because his statement is not borne out by events that have occurred since November, 1971. The Government now realise that they have been doing nothing and it was the trade unions and the Labour Party who made them aware that the country is in a bad state.

I am questioning the leadership of the Government. They are propounding and pursuing bankrupt policies and these policies have plunged the nation into a situation of economic crisis and near-ruin. By his statements made recently in Cork, the Taoiseach is guilty of ill-advised and intemperate utterances. He has said that no democratic country could solve the unemployment problem. The Taoiseach must be unaware of the situation in Sweden because that country, which is one of the most democratic in the world, has because of her policy of planning an employment problem of less than 1 per cent of the population. In a population of eight million people, only 76,000 are unemployed there. The Taoiseach has said that much of the comment has been inaccurate. Was it inaccurate to talk about 78,000 people being unemployed? With regard to his comment about exaggeration of the situation, I do not think there is anything exaggerated in pointing out that so many people are unemployed and are living at poverty level. He said also that there was unnecessary alarm. Are we merely to sleep here and not do anything about the situation but, instead, leave it to the people to protest on the streets? We have an obligation to bring the situation to the attention of the Government and to indicate to them how their bankrupt policies have produced this state of affairs.

The cost of living has been increasing at an alarming rate and is the major source of concern of our people. I was stunned by Dr. Kieran Kennedy's statement yesterday when he said that, unless another wage agreement is entered into and unless there is a curb in incomes, any policy of expansion will have to stop. Dr. Kennedy was blackmailing the workers when he said that, especially when we consider that in March of 1971 the Economic and Social Research Institute envisaged an increase in consumer prices of 7½ per cent, taking into account the national wage agreement, but despite this, recent figures indicate that there has been an increase of 9 per cent in consumer prices. Therefore, the fault must not lie with the workers and I must make it clear that Dr. Kennedy is wrong in blaming the workers for the present situation.

In response to requests from many people in my constituency I sent a telegram to the Taoiseach asking whether he would consider imposing a national price freeze for a mandatory period of at least three months. This would at least be some gesture towards curbing spiralling prices until such time as an investigation could be carried out into unauthorised and unjust price increases, especially those increases that have occurred since the changeover to decimal currency. I said that this would give an opportunity also for an investigation into the profit margins that are a mystery to others and that such a price freeze could be very beneficial to the entire economy. Although the telegram was despatched more than a week ago, I have not yet had the courtesy of an acknowledgment. The matter is a very important one. It is so important that I received the signatures of almost 10,000 of my constituents in connection with it. It is a matter that concerns many families who are put to the pin of their collar because of the cost of living. Social welfare recipients, the unemployed, those declared redundant, those on fixed incomes as well as a large proportion of the working class are being impoverished by the cost of living. I ask the Taoiseach earnestly to consider the matter as one of great urgency and to request the co-operation of the Confederation of Irish Industries so that we can have some curb on prices.

The late Mr. Lemass, when he was in Opposition, said it was not the duty of an Opposition to provide solutions for a weak and inept Government. Politically that may be the right attitude, but those of us who are in Opposition have a responsibility to the nation and that is why we have provided the leadership at this crucial time and have told the people what is the situation. We have suggested the remedies. It was the late President Kennedy who said that he accepted responsibility for any failures he had. This was an indication of mature and real leadership but in our case we have a Taoiseach who will not accept responsibility for anything. Instead, he blames the newspapers for printing scare stories or he puts the blame on the trade unions or on the Opposition parties or he may blame external influences. He is prepared to put the blame anywhere except where it lies and that is with the Government.

The action taken in respect of the various programmes for economic expansion has been ludicrous. These programmes were abortive. I shall suggest some points which I think could solve the problem today. I know we have all come up with ideas. This is healthy and good, responsible politics. I think we should dismantle the Third Programme for Economic and Social Expansion. It should be dismantled very soon. We have over £400 million of external assets. We should repatriate £150 million of this immediately. This would leave us £250 million which would be ample to provide for balance of payments deficits. This should be done by the Central Bank for a seven-year programme. This would help the economic and social reconstruction of this country. I would suggest that this £150 million should be invested in a vast infrastructural development programme—the building of highways between centres of growth, local authority housing, which is urgently needed, sewerage, the provision of power and the development of airports and harbours.

Furthermore, we should have a national loan of £150 million. It should be raised at home by the Government out of the funds of the associated and the merchant banks. This £150 million should be divided as follows—£50 million for farming, £50 million as a back-up to existing investment in manufacturing and industrial development and £50 million as a back-up fund for major expansion of our social welfare programme.

This £300 million programme should be aimed at creating major new employment prospects directly and indirectly in the service industries as a spin-off effect. It should also be directed at slowing down the pace of the flight from the land. It would help to step up agricultural production and it would create more employment in the service and manufacturing industries associated with agriculture. There should be an immediate publication of the IDA's regional programme. This is urgent. There should be compulsory disclosure to the IDA of the accounts and the forward budgeting of the grant-aided industries. This is vital. We have a glut of local authority development programmes throughout the country lying in pigeon holes with no money to finance them. There should be an immediate implementation of all the projects which local authorities have in the pipeline. This is very urgent.

I shall now suggest something that may be considered reactionary but having regard to the problem we are facing I should say it is necessary. There should be a pro tem stay on any major rationalisation programme which would involve significant redundancies or unreal recruiting policies. For example, there should be a pro tem stop on the McKinsey report on manpower in the National Transport Service and the rationalisation of the bacon and creamery industries. We could phase out this stay on the rationalisation programme as job opportunities arise as a result of the major capital investment programme. If we look at it in that light it cannot be considered a reactionary measure.

We have seen a number of private industries collapse in the past two years. We should have immediate legislation to introduce major State participation in the sectors of industry which are in a condition of permanent difficulty owing to such factors as obsolescence. This is where the State is entitled to move in and we must provide the legislation necessary for this.

I would go so far as to say, having regard to the tourist industry and its value to the economy and the fact that it is in a state at present which is a cause for national concern, that we should have short-term measures to assist the domestic tourist industry and we should place a ceiling of £60 expenditure for anyone leaving the sterling area in 1972 for holidays. This is a "must" if we are to salvage this industry. It is all right encouraging people but let us impose this and let us see that holidays are spent at home. Money should be pumped, via State incentive schemes, into that sector of the hotel industry which can be shown to be viable in the long term.

The Taoiseach yesterday tried to play around with figures. He said the figure of 78,000 was not accurate, that it did not represent the number of people unemployed. I suggest we should have an overhaul of the statistical information services of Government Departments and the Central Statistics Office, especially in relation to manpower and unemployment. We should have a breakdown of the unemployment aggregate by age, sex, training and background, region and town, with legislation to treat the higher middle-age group outside the normal redundancy categories but putting them into a special welfare category requiring secure and permanent incomes to be financed by the State and compulsorily out of the rationalisation investment capital of viable growth industries. We need these changes immediately in regard to statistical information.

It is a source of puzzlement to us in the Opposition why the Minister for Social Welfare cannot stand up in this Dáil and announce Government plans about pay-related income benefits, social welfare benefits related to income. We have had squeaks at Fianna Fáil meetings, the latest one in Cork. Why can the Minister not come in here and announce them? Why must it come by way of a vague and ambiguous statement? What is wrong with our country that this is not spelled out by the Minister for Social Welfare? Is he not able to do his job? I think it was Deputy Pearse Wyse who made the statement.

His seat is in danger.

We should have an overhaul of the State's social welfare programme based on the original concept of a just distribution of the nation's wealth and this to include health, old age, windows' and children's allowances, unemployment and redundancy. Let us have this major overhaul and let us spell it out and not have these squeaks from Deputies when we do not know whether or not they represent Government views. We have heard many views expressed by members of the Fianna Fáil Party which are not consistent with the Government's views at all. When the Minister for Social Welfare is asked to comment on something he makes vague, ambiguous statements without relevance.

I have a question on the Order Paper about retraining programmes because in present conditions of competitiveness, rationalisation and technological advance, our industrial training programme is sadly lacking. We must step up our retraining programme as a matter of urgency and in this respect I would make a suggestion which might be looked askance at even by members of my own party. I would suggest the establishment of what I would call a super Department of State, a Department of Economic Development. To man this Department I would draw on the planning brains of the Department of Finance and other Departments. I would go outside the Civil Service into industry and the trade unions and have people seconded to that Department without having any regard to seniority. Another barrier to be overcome would be that we should appoint as head of that Department possibly a politician or a man from outside, or a Member of the Seanad. It could be done.

It was done before.

Those 20 constructive points would help to solve our economic problems. If we do not face the fact that we have an economic crisis, a jobs crisis, and take active measures to overcome it, we will fail. I do not think the present Government are capable of implementing such a programme. That would call for proper leadership which the Government cannot provide. A change of Government is necessary and urgent and I would ignore all pleas that there should not be a general election while the present state of flux exists. That is no excuse. The people should be given an opportunity of making a decision now because the situation today is far different from 1969 when the Taoiseach came back on the strong point of Government stability. Government stability does not exist.

Leader writers have been correct about this leadership, about this Government. What is happening is that this inertia is contagious because if leadership does not come from the Government the inertia will spread right through the social fabric and will have its effect on every worker who will say: "They do not care, why should I?" The impression has gone abroad that the Government do not care. There is no leadership, no example being set, and how then can you expect the people to make that extra effort for the good of the country? The Government are not doing it.

The Government have been casting a terrible reflection on the institutions of State. They have been shown to be vacillating. For example, they sent a junior Minister to participate in a highly important programme on BBC television. I have a number of letters asking me to complain about this in the Dáil. He was a disgrace. I have great respect for him but to send a junior Minister to speak on such an important topic, to be given the unique opportunity to speak to so many millions in Britain——

They should have sent Deputy Childers.

He would have been a credit. They sent a junior Minister who knew nothing about the subject. This is typical of the Government. They do not know what is going on and do not care. We badly need leadership. The Taoiseach will go to Brussels. I say he should not go until we have the matter debated and until he knows our feelings. He will come back waving the paper and saying "Peace and prosperity in our time". This reminds me of Chamberlain in 1938 coming back talking about peace in our time. The Taoiseach will say he is leading us into the EEC promised land. He is banking everything on it.

There was this crystal ball gazing. It was a disgrace that the Minister for Transport and Power should be seeking the advice of such a person about the affairs of State and about Aer Lingus and the future of the Government. The whole thing was bad and it was another terrible reflection on this institution. They had to do crystal ball gazing to seek a remedy for the problems that beset us. It was a disgrace to see the Minister for Transport and Power laughing ridiculously when discussing such an important problem as landing rights.

We know that next August things will have become very difficult for this country. We talk about spending £20 million on two planes. I am a realist and I know that those planes are lying there, together with 11 other planes, deteriorating. That sum of £20 million invested at 10 per cent per annum would bring us in £2 million. We have not got £2 million or any other sum from those jets. The money went out of the country when it should have been invested inside providing productive employment for our people. It is typical of the ridiculous thinking of the Government. The £20 million has gone out of the country, the planes are lying idle at Dublin Airport and no revenue whatever is coming in.

This is terrible mismanagement, as one can work out with pencil and paper. For instance, there is unemployment benefit and there is the amount lost on insurance stamps by the Government. It would take far less to put men into productive work. People want to work. No man wants to be idle. It creates serious psychiatric and psychological problems for him. I deplore the Taoiseach's statement that there are thousands of people who do not want to work. People want to work. They have come to me asking why they have not been given a right to work in their own country. As I said, we need a change of Government, a change of leadership. We want proper plans which we will never get from the most inert, incompetent Cabinet we have had in our history.

As far as I am aware, no speaker in this debate has told us by which means it would be possible to insulate ourselves from the consequences of economic conditions which have had adverse effects on our industry and over which we have little or no control. These circumstances occurred to a special degree in Great Britain and the US.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

I was saying that I am not aware that any Opposition Deputy so far has indicated any means by which we as a people can exclude ourselves or insulate ourselves from the economic conditions that obtain in other countries, especially Britain and the US, where the conditions in the past year have had adverse effects on some of our exports. It would appear to me that the Opposition have seized upon the present situation in order to distort and misrepresent the true position. They are ignoring completely the measures announced by the Taoiseach yesterday for dealing with the situation as we find it at present. I am not in any way trying to gloss over or ignore the fact that there have been redundancies in certain areas of industry, with certain acute cases in some places. I propose to talk about them in a few minutes.

It is important to get the position into proper perspective. It is important to recall that the past decade has been one of unprecedented expansion in the national economy. It was a period of very rapid growth and one in which the standard of living of the ordinary people has risen at an unprecedented rate. This growth in the national economy was sustained last year and will continue to be sustained. I am certain of this. I heard some of Deputy O'Connell's contribution. He referred briefly and casually to certain factors that are of great importance to the proper understanding of the situation. He uses the expression "the flight from the land". This has become a cliché. I wonder does Deputy O'Connell know what this consists of. Has he ever attempted to analyse the nature of the problem that has, without any doubt, caused thousands of people to leave the places where they lived in rural Ireland? This tendency is running down. It is ceasing. I would hope that on our entry into the EEC it will be possible to arrest the involuntary departure of people from rural Ireland to a much greater degree than has been possible in the past.

Let us think for a moment of the kind of people who went and the reasons they went. To a large degree they were people who were living on holdings of land that were so small and so poor that they were unable to sustain the family in a way that is now considered necessary. In previous times when living standards were a good deal lower than they are now it was possible for thousands of these rural families to subsist, and that is precisely what they did. Possibly some people, especially urban people going down to the country from time to time and meeting these people in their native habitats found them quaint and charming and sometimes photographed the little houses in which they lived. But I do not think they ever gave any serious thought to the very low standard of living that these people had and from which they eventually fled. I do not think it should be seriously contemplated that that situation should be maintained and that a rural population should live in these conditions.

The opportunity that is offered to the country for the first time in our history is to break away from the market conditions that required those people to live in the conditions they endured. The prospects of our entry into the EEC will immediately offer the farmers of Ireland, whether they are big or small substantially higher payments for the products of their labour and, as well as that, a system of farm development, a system of social security, that will enable them to remain in their own localities and that will, in my opinion, help very greatly to stabilise the rural population.

When a Deputy like Deputy O'Connell casually throws off an expression like "the flight from the land", I think he does it without full familiarity with the situation in rural Ireland, to begin with, the historic origins of the fact that many thousands of people have left rural Ireland in the past for the reasons I have mentioned, the principal one of these being that we have, whether we liked it or not, since the foundation of the State and, indeed, beyond it, been tied to a market which bought our produce at the price, generally speaking, that they saw fit and in such quantities as they saw fit. Now we have a chance of liberating the smaller farmers of rural Ireland from this economic stranglehold that forced a great many of them off the land.

It is worth while considering the rather distorted social structure of the population of a typical parish in many parts of rural Ireland. Anybody who has examined the report on western farm conditions by Dr. Scully of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries may have been surprised, especially if he is not a person who is familiar with rural Ireland, to see the astonishingly high number of elderly single farmers who make up our rural population. This does not arise from any biological peculiarity on the part of the farmers concerned. It is simply the force of economic necessity dictated, first of all, by the small scale of their operations but principally by the degree of economic bondage we had to endure in our export market situation.

I am dwelling to some degree on the importance of agriculture in this general context, because even now agriculture employs more people than industry does, and it should be pretty clear that, once given a prosperous agriculture, the national consequence should be a general improvement in the situation both for manufacturing industry, industry directly related to the processing of agricultural produce, and for the economy of the country generally.

It is worthwhile to look at the salient facts of our agricultural economy and to observe that gross agricultural output last year was up by £40 million, according to the estimate prepared by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. This is due both to the increased volume of output and to the price being paid for farm produce. Farm income deriving from that will probably be up by £20 million last year. 1971 was a record year in many respects. The output of cattle was over 1,500,000. The intake of milk into creameries was 533 million gallons. I think I recall making a prognostication almost 12 months ago here that we would surpass 530 million gallons, and this figure was challenged. That is the out-turn at the present time.

What a pity we put on the brake at an important time.

If the Deputy wants to discuss that we can easily do it, but I think Deputy Clinton will concede now, that if he goes around to any of the cattle markets and looks at the prices of cows, heifers, springers, any form of breeding stock, he will see that the prices being paid——

The Minister was paying them to get out of milk, which meant less calves.

The Deputy is talking about three different circumstances. If he likes we can discuss the economics of the cattle industry, the introduction of what has become known erroneously as the two-tier price, its subsequent attenuation, first, and then elimination last December.

A stop-go policy.

Deputies will recall the export market situation for our dairy products in the late 60s. They may recall—I am speaking from memory now but I do not think I am being inaccurate—we were obliged to sell butter in Mexico for £70 a ton. We sold butter in Algeria for a good deal less than that. It is well to remember when quoting those figures that the cost of cold storage for butter for 12 months was £70 a ton. In the situation of milk price support at that time, it did not seem to be the best thing to do to produce milk and to manufacture all the milk we produced into dairy products that had to be sold at that kind of price.

No courage, no foresight and no planning.

In those circumstances the restraint of the multi-tier system was introduced and parallel to that the beef cattle incentive scheme was introduced, too. We did succeed in getting the dual result of maintaining the increase in our national cattle herd and, at the same time, bringing about some restraint in the manufacture of products which we could not sell at that particular time. Neither could we store the products of those years indefinitely against a hoped for increase or a radical change in the market that has, in fact, come about. I wonder is Deputy L'Estrange seriously suggesting that what we ought to have done was erect an enormous number of cold stores and put the produce of these lean years, somewhat like the seven biblical lean years, into store at enormous expense and produce it now.

Surely you could see ahead for six months.

What is really troubling Deputy L'Estrange is the fact that the most recent alteration in the milk price structure and the market conditions for dairy produce generally has enabled the Government to introduce a new price structure for milk which is so enormously popular with the dairy industry that it is causing Deputy L'Estrange great displeasure.

None whatsoever. The more the farmer gets the better we like it.

The dairy farmers recognise this and they are showing their recognition by putting their money on the line in expanding their herds to an unprecedented degree.

That is what we have always stood for.

The time is limited and the Minister should be allowed to make his speech without interruption.

I am confident now that the coming year or so will see an even more rapid expansion primarily of our cow herds and generally our cattle numbers which are increasing at an unprecedented rate as it is. It is worth reminding Deputies, in regard to the recent milk price increases, that creameries like Killeshandra, Ballyclough, other groups like that and small enterprises such as those in my own constituency, which I think are on the point of amalgamation, will be paying 17p a gallon for milk in the coming year. Whatever may be the mathematics of the cribbers, the farmers who are selling the milk and getting that very substantial increase will know the difference between 40 old pence and something around 30 to 32 old pence. When I was introducing this measure on the Estimate I said that I hoped for an average increase of two new pence to each supplier.

That is wrong. The small supplier is losing.

That is a fallacious and nonsensical suggestion.

Why did the creamery milk suppliers in the Midland Land League say that?

I do not know anything at all about the Midland Land League——

That is very nice alliteration.

——but I think Deputy L'Estrange does. In fact I heard it suggested that Deputy L'Estrange writes the speeches for some of these people.

I have not time to write my own. This is a decent organisation.

I do not know anything about that except to observe in passing that Westmeath, as far as I know, is not widely known as an intensive dairy county. If you go into parts of the country which are intensively dairying and which understand the common, hard facts about milk and milk prices, you will find that this most recent change is one of the most popular measures that has been introduced.

Why then does Mr. O'Keeffe and why do the Creamery Milk Suppliers condemn the Minister and say that the small farmers will lose?

I would think that to some degree it arose from a misunderstanding of the situation.

It should be cleared up.

I think we have cleared it up satisfactorily. I will tell the Deputy what will clear it up beyond any shadow of doubt. When the farmers begin to get back their monthly cheques they will see the dramatic increase there has been in the price of milk. In some creameries, including creameries in my own constituency, this process is going on now. This is something we can sustain when we enter the EEC. That very important wing of the agricultural industry is being fortified and strengthened.

I do not believe I misunderstood Deputy O'Connell when he spoke on the general question of redundancies in industry and suggested that the process of rationalisation should be slowed down or stopped. The Deputy is a city man and he certainly does not appear to recognise the realities of what is required immediately in the creamery industry. This is the formation of the industry into larger, more rational and more efficient units. The remarkable thing about creamery rationalisation so far is the fact that the redundancies arising from it have been practically nil because by raising the general efficiency of the industry, the potential of the industry to handle more and process more, a situation is created whereby the existing staff substantially can be carried on.

Creamery rationalisation is a matter of such urgency that I think the Labour Party are very remiss in suggesting that creamery rationalisation should be stopped, arrested or slowed down, because that is tantamount to saying that you are condemning the small milk producers to accepting a price very much less than they would otherwise get. There are working models of large creamery undertakings that have told their creamery suppliers that in the coming year their price will be 17p a gallon. This would not be possible if these creamery undertakings were not of large, efficient, economic size. The Labour Party appear, through Deputy O'Connell, to be saying: "We will condemn the small milk producers to taking a relatively bad price for their milk because we do not like the idea of the formation of an efficient dairy industry." Possibly that is their approach to the matter but it certainly is not mine. It is for that reason that the Minister for Industry and Commerce brought in a measure last session which made it possible for societies to amalgamate on a simple majority instead of the three-fourths majority previously required. Last year was a record year for pig slaughtering when 2.2 million pigs were slaughtered.

A lot of them were from the North. They were brought across the Border.

There has been pig smuggling from the North of Ireland but some measures which were introduced by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in recent times have had the effect. I am glad to say, of slowing down that flow of smuggled pigs. The fact remains that the bacon industry had a bigger through-put in the past year than it ever had before. In this context too, the disagreeable fact must be faced that there are far too many inefficient units in the pig industry and a rationalisation programme has been initiated by the Pigs and Bacon Commission. In order that the redundancy aspect of this undertaking can be properly looked into a consultative group have been set up to assist the commission. The commission are made up of people from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Department of Labour, the IDA, the Fair Trade Commission the FUE and the Congress of Irish Trade Unions. I have asked the committee to pay particular attention to the question of workers who may be displaced in any rationalisation scheme in order, first of all, to provide the opportunity for other employment for them or to provide for their retraining and also to ensure that workers are adequately compensated for their loss of employment.

In general, so far as the bacon industry is concerned, one must not lose sight of the overall prospect. In order to survive, the industry must make itself efficient. If we are to ensure the future of the industry and of the workers who are employed in it, then efficiency is a vital ingredient. It is foolish to bury our heads in the sand and pretend we can carry on with some of the constituents of our bacon industry, inefficiency, lack of proper organisation and out-of-date methods. Disagreeable as it is, this position must be faced.

Last year we produced 1 million tons of cereals. That, too, is a record. It reflects to some degree increasing livestock numbers and better methods of husbandry. This is particularly true in the case of the winter maintenance of livestock. We produced 1 million tons of sugar beet worth £10 million. There was a good deal of pother recently and scare journalism and speeches on the part of those who have no association whatsoever with the sugar industry arising out of the arrangements made for our entry into the Common Market. There is no danger whatsoever about redundancy in the sugar industry. Last year 10,000 more acres of beet were grown and the produce of the crop was about 175,000 tons. With the present arrangement in the EEC for the production of beet we will be able to maintain that acreage and at the price we now have. The husbandry of the crop has changed very dramatically in the last decade. It has become highly mechanised. It is probably the best cash crop there is. There is room for expansion and its future appears to be very satisfactory. All of these record-breaking items that I have mentioned mean that the volume of gross agricultural output is up by 5 per cent and the prices for that output are up by 7 per cent. The increase in the profitability of farming is also reflected in the fact that inputs, such as fertilisers, have increased by 8 per cent. Feeding compound inputs have also increased. I think Deputy O'Connell represents Dublin SouthWest.

That is Paisley's constituency.

I thought it was Deputy O'Connell's. I forget what figure the Deputy mentioned but he spoke about immediate credit facilities for the agricultural industry. It may have escaped his attention that credit facilities for agriculture have, in fact, been increased very substantially. There was an increase of up to 100 per cent recently. With the ordinary sources of capital and the increasing return the availability of capital for expansion should be adequate.

Is there not £90 million for expansion in industry and only £15 million for agriculture? It is nugatory. Has not a member of the World Bank said that there should be £100 million spent for the next ten years and the NFA have asked for that injection immediately to finance a bold and imaginative plan?

I should be very surprised if the credit now available for agricultural expansion proved to be inadequate.

I think the Minister is wrong.

The Minister refused to give us a loan because we had no long-term plan for agriculture.

For the eradication of brucellosis.

The Deputies seem to be contradicting one another. They should hop outside the door and confer.

Does the Minister not agree agriculture is under-capitalised?

Order. The Minister's time is running out.

I think the Deputy's trouble is that he cannot foresee that we can now set our course.

Hear, hear. I have advocated that on numerous occasions. I have said that you should set the course.

The Deputy recognises it is being done.

No. There is a future in the EEC but the Government have not done their duty. They have not over the last two or three years prepared the farmers for it. That is why I blame the Minister and the Government.

I think the Deputy is talking through his hat.

Time will tell. The land of Ireland could produce twice what it is producing at the moment if the farmers had enough capital.

The Deputy must not have been listening when I was itemising the expansion in all fields of agricultural production.

The Minister and the Government have not done enough.

I am perfectly confident that, when we have access to better market prices, the real potential of our land will be realised to the full for the first time. To suggest there is no recognition of this on the part of the Government is absurd.

It is a belated recognition, if there is recognition.

It is just so much nonsense and Deputy L'Estrange must have had his head in the sand for quite a long time.

We had not our heads in the sand when we were telling the Fianna Fáil Government about the importance of the British market and they denied it. They now realise its importance and the importance of other markets.

Last the Deputy forgets, the fact is that the vicissitudes of our people who were largely dependent on the British market were very grievous indeed. I dwelt on that at some length earlier.

Would the Minister not agree——

Will Deputies please appreciate that the Minister's time is limited?

——that beef export payments to the British market constitute a danger of the industry not expanding in the direction of the EEC? The Department has not brought the price up sufficiently to the British guaranteed price.

The Deputy is, I think, referring to the export price support for carcase meat. He will probably be aware that, because of the buoyant situation on the British market, the British Government have paid very little by way of deficiency payments. In our own case deficiency payments became payable in, I think, only three weeks out of the whole period. As the Deputy knows, deficiency payments in Britain and the export price subsidy here are very closely linked and in buoyant market conditions no deficiency payments are made. I do not think it is a very important factor because in a £50 million business, even if what Deputy Collins suggests had been done, it would amount to about £280,000 which is not by any means decisive. I do not deny its importance and I am examining the degree of its importance at present but Deputy Collins knows that in recent times the incidence of deficiency payments was extremely low.

In thinking of the current situation, especially in the meat industry mentioned by Deputy Collins, he will know from his association with the trade that a large part of the difficulty encountered in recent times and still being encountered arose from situations completely outside our control, from such factors as devaluation of the dollar and the fact that for a long period there was a dock strike on the east coast of America. It cannot be suggested that the Government were in any way remiss because these were circumstances completely outside their control. In spite of these difficulties for the carcase beef industry in the last year it is worth noting that in 1970 cattle slaughterings were 691,870. They increased last year to 706,490. It should be said also that from mid-October last slaughterings dropped.

Would the Minister not agree that the meat trade is competing unfavourably with the Six County meat trade in supplying the English market?

There are factors operating in the Six Counties, carcase grading and other things more difficult to pinpoint, which affect the question, but in general, I am glad to be able to say that last year was probably one of the best that Irish farming has ever had. I think it is the precursor of a new era in farming and that being the case, it distorts the reality to paint a picture of impending crisis and gloom. I am not in any way trying to diminish the seriousness of the position, especially for people in agriculture-associated industries who are confronted with redundancies and I am certain any measures that can be taken to prevent redundancies will be taken.

I must point out that the Minister has taken up his 45 minutes.

I am just about to finish. I am glad to be able to report to the House that the farming industry has had a very satisfactory year and I expect the coming year will be even better.

Having heard the Taoiseach yesterday it is not unfair to say that the attitude of the Government is to do nothing and hope for the best and that the crisis we now face will resolve itself in time. In fact, the Government's motto seems to be: "Crises come and crises go but Fianna Fáil will last forever". It appears to be true. I am sad to say. Inactivity and bluff have typified the performance of the Government in the past few years. We have got nothing but vague promises. Last May, for example, the Taoiseach, replying to a question on inflation by Deputy L'Estrange, said, as reported in column 1454 of Volume 253 of the Official Report:

As was indicated in the Budget and as is inherent in Government policy, the inflationary trend is now bending in the right direction and I hope that in future months our goods will be more competitive and that this in turn will have an advantageous effect on employment.

At column 1455 he stated:

We were the first country in the world, in the period from 1966, to control inflation. It will be done equally effectively this time. The Deputy need have no fear.

How hollow are these words today. The Taoiseach has promised more jobs: his predecessors did likewise. This time it will not be 100,000 but something less. We have been told that a 9 per cent increase has been allocated to increase the capital programme from £220 million to £240 million. This is merely a drop in the ocean. The Taoiseach admits that the increase in consumer prices was 10 per cent in 1970-71. Towards the latter part of last year it dropped to approximately 8 per cent so it was something between 8 and 10 per cent, perhaps 9 per cent, which means that the increase in the capital programme will just balance out increased costs and in effect no more money is being made available.

We have a serious crisis at present precipitated to a very large extent by piecemeal planning dictated by political expediency. Undoubtedly, external factors have contributed but we should blind ourselves if we said that those alone were responsible for our present situation.

The criterion for the siting of new industries has been the vote-catching potential. I think nobody can deny this. Factories are closing in certain parts of the country and similar factories opening in Ministers' constituencies. If this is the way we try to run our economy and improve our standard of living it is a very poor reflection on us.

One could talk for a long time about the present situation. I do not intend to do so. We are all painfully familiar with it. What can we do to improve the situation?

First, we must reduce the bank interest rate. This has been done in Britain, America, Japan, Sweden and in other countries. We must make more money available for productive purposes. We should also consider incentive payments to industries for the creation of more jobs. This is a scheme which is being employed at present in the Common Market countries and we should give serious consideration to adopting it here. We must give encouragement and financial assistance to industrialists for the modernisation of their industries. By so doing, we will be creating employment.

There are thousands of people who are anxious to build their own houses if they could obtain the necessary finance. By reducing the bank rate and extending the period of repayment, which at present is limited to five years or less, we could make money available to housebuilders. We should also reduce the tax on building societies and thus make more money available to borrowers. We should consider increasing the salary limits for qualification for local authority loans. By building more houses and by modernising industries we could create a tremendous amount of employment.

The unions have stated that we are faced with a national crisis with regard to unemployment and I agree with them, but I suggest to them that they have a constructive part to play in overcoming this crisis. I would ask them to relax the rules governing the type of work to be performed by different groups. Unless we get a genuine co-operative effort, with the Government, the unions, management and workers contributing their full share, the crisis will last and will worsen.

I have no objection to using a pick and shovel tomorrow morning if this should prove necessary. I am a secondary school teacher and I was obliged to work in Britain during the holidays to supplement my meagre salary as it was not sufficient to survive on. I worked on London building sites and if necessary I will do it again. I believe in the dignity of man and in the dignity of labour. I submit that any tradesman, any clerical worker or professional man can do likewise if the need arises. Is it not better to sweep the streets than to stand in a dole queue? Therefore, I say to the unions: "Drop your status levels and encourage all workers to participate in available employment. If you preach a Socialist Workers' Republic, practice it."

One of the great advantages in a small economy is that action can be taken in selected cases and need not necessarily be applied globally. The Minister for Finance should take cognisance of this fact. He has made a considerable mistake in reducing company profits tax globally. I remember reading a statement by a chairman of a board of directors after the Minister's announcement. During the course of his remarks he stated they had about an extra £20,000 to distribute to shareholders as a result of the Minister's action. A reduction should not be made unless the company concerned submit plans for investment in a capital programme and plans for the creation of more employment. By so doing the extra money made available would be put to good use instead of being distributed to shareholders.

The Taoiseach is being hypocritical when he states the Government are doing all in their power to create employment and to safeguard existing jobs. Let us take, for example, Cork city and county with which he is familiar. The Dunlop Company give a high degree of employment in Cork but the jobs of the workers there are being threatened by the dumping of Japanese tyres on the Irish market. The Minister for Industry and Commerce pathetically throws up his hands in the air and savs: "What can we do about it?" When will the Government drop their subservient attitude and stand on their own feet? When the livelihood of our people is being threatened, why do we not take unilateral action? America and Britain impose tariffs when the need arises and no trade agreements or threats of international action will stop them. Why can we not do likewise? In the face of any threat or potential action, the Government cower like sheep in a storm.

We have mass unemployment but there are plenty of opportunities to create employment. Let me speak about Cork again. The dockyards give much employment; why can we not expand them? Why do we not place orders with them for our shipping requirements for the next 20 years instead of placing orders in foreign yards, thereby creating employment in foreign countries? If we plan in shipping alone for the next 20 years, the Cork dockyards would know where they stand and they could initiate a capital development programme, being assured of their survival for the next 20 years. If we have not sufficient room to expand in Rush-brooke, a short distance away there is the naval dockyard at Haulbowline. Why is that not being used? Could we not supply the materials needed for the dockyards instead of importing them, down to the last bolt, from Holland? For example, could we not expand Irish Steel? Could we not produce the heavy steel required for shipbuilding? At the moment we import all our requirements.

In Midleton there is the East Cork Foods firm, a branch of Erin Foods. Employment in that industry is seriously threatened. I was glad to hear the Taoiseach yesterday state that there would not be any redundancies due to rationalisation but I should like to get a categorical assurance from him that redundancies will not be created under the guise of seasonal redundancies.

I read recently that the executive of Erin Foods have expressed their utter frustration because they lack Government directives. Apparently they cannot initiate or undertake any longterm policies or plans because they do not know where they stand. They are waiting for the Government to take action. We all realise that Erin Foods are in a critical state. We have seen them lose huge markets in Britain. The executives are powerless because the Government will not tell them exactly where they stand or exactly where they are going.

I would respectfully suggest that in Erin Foods those who are responsible should take a serious look at their management. On a number of occasions here I have spoken about the poor standards of management in that company. They were appointed through political patronage. That cannot be denied. We, the taxpayers and the workers, have to suffer because of that patronage. For that the Government are entirely responsible and they, and they alone, can remedy that situation.

This year there is a massive cut-back in vegetable production. This is necessary, we are told, because the market has fallen through. Is it not a fact that, when a huge market existed in Britain, we felt we were doing so well that we did not need any more salesmen, and we withdrew our sales force from Britain? Does anyone seriously suggest that in this modern day and age you can sell anything without advertising and without salesmen? If anyone does he is in serious trouble.

In this regard, too, I think that our Export Board should get a tremendous shake up. Recently I had occasion to arrange an interview for two or three professional gentlemen who wished to export to the Continent. They duly arrived in Dublin, having travelled from Cork, and they found that the gentleman with whom they had the appointment was missing. One of his junior staff eventually met them. He produced a file from the library after some considerable time, and the figures in that file were three years out of date. The gentlemen concerned could state without contradiction that the figures were absolutely useless. They had researched the market themselves a short while before. If they were depending on the Export Board to assist them in exporting to the Continent not one penny worth would ever leave this country.

That is not an isolated example. A very close friend of mine, who was chief salesman for a big international electronics corporation in America, asked the Export Board a few years ago to supply him with the names and addresses of firms that could possibly supply some of the components his firm required. He is an Irishman and, having a strong degree of nationalism in him, he wished to create employment and money for Ireland if he possibly could. It is quite incredible, but the reply he got was a page from The Irish Times on which there was an article on the opening of the Shannon scheme, and a number of firms who supplied certain materials to the project had advertised on it. That, and that alone, was the contribution made by the Export Board to encourage exports from this country to America and Canada.

On a number of occasions we have heard rumours about a new refinery in Whiddy. We are fortunate to have an oil refinery in Whitegate, County Cork. Instead of building yet another refinery and making a white elephant of the one in Whitegate, the refinery in Whitegate should be expanded. Furthermore, the State bodies should obtain their materials there. Is it not scandalous to think that the ESB, CIE and other State bodies import heavy oils from Britain and will not take them from the oil refinery here? Is it any wonder that we have mass unemployment when we have industries here which the Government will not support even to the extent of buying the materials they are producing? To me this is an absolute scandal.

Look at tourism for a moment. I have been told by a number of managers of Grade A hotels that they will have self-service next year. The Hotels Federation tell us that a very high percentage are going out of business simply because the tourists are not coming here. Undoubtedly our domestic problems have contributed to that situation. The pathetic plight of our people in Northern Ireland, the misrepresentation abroad of news from that section of our country, scare stories which go uncontradicted by our Government, and a discredited Republic here brought about largely by reports of gun-running Ministers and sacking of Ministers, and so on, have frightened people abroad.

The Minister for Transport and Power has told us in this House on a number of occasions that we have no problem and that tourism is flourishing. I was shocked on Tuesday last to hear an English nurse who was visiting this country and who called to see us, saying that she was terrified to open her mouth in case she would be attacked. She was afraid to ask for a message in a shop. She gave the money for a packet of cigarettes to the girl who was with her rather than ask for them over the counter. She is an intelligent, informed girl. What, then, must be the impression of this country among people abroad? Is it any wonder those people have no wish to come here? We are told that there is no problem and that tourism is flying. Certainly, it is flying but flying in the wrong direction. Can we not correct this trend? I would suggest to the Government that they send the best people from both Houses to the capitals of Europe and to America and Canada for the purpose of projecting our true image and of allaying the fears of potential tourists. In this context, I might mention also that there are many complaints regarding the standard of staff being supplied to hotels by the Government training agencies. One hotelier told me that a gentleman who had been given six months training could not as much as cut a lemon on going to work in that man's hotel. We must take measures to correct the image that people abroad have of us and our country. Certainly, the comic strip issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1969 will not have the effect of correcting the image that other people have of us.

There are fears, too, in respect of Shannon. It is feared that the whole western seaboard will be isolated and desolated. I asked the Minister for Transport and Power if overflying rights were being made an issue in this controversy and in the negotiations with the American Government. What the Minister told me, in effect, was that we cannot do anything about this: that overflying rights are enshrined in some agreement. I submit that the Government are cowering. There have been international agreements that have been violated flagrantly.

Hear, hear.

Why can we not say to the Americans: "If you refuse to let us into America, you will not overfly our country"? I do not care what agreement has been made. It is our country and our air space that are involved and the American airlines cannot survive if we refuse them permission to overfly us. If the Americans are to bully us, let us stand up and fight them and if we take that action as we are entitled to do in the terms of international law, the Americans will very soon drop their idea of overflying Shannon. However, such action can be taken only if we have a government that are competent enough to stand up and fight when a fight is necessary. If they do this, I am convinced that jobs at Shannon can be safeguarded and will not be added to the mass of redundancies that we are experiencing now.

Some of us, and I hope I would be included among those, are trying to suggest some ways in which employment can be created. In this respect, the Forestry Division of the Department of Lands comes immediately to mind. In Scotland last year they planted double the acreage that we did here. Could we not employ people beneficially to plant the barren wastes of our country? As I have said already, the trade unions should drop their status levels and people of all ranks should be able to take up any available employment. There is plenty of opportunity in the Forestry Division for the creation of employment. The same can be said of the fishing industry although many of our fishermen are despondent and are shocked at what they call the sell out on them by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. We could allay their fears by providing them with adequate craft to enable them to compete with international boats but let us build those boats here in Ireland. We must not go again to France for boats that will rot after a short period.

I am glad to note that a recruitment campaign has been mounted for an increase in the strength of the Army and Garda. There is plenty of opportunity, too, for expanding the Naval Service but we must have the right incentive. I was surprised to some extent to notice so much advertising recently on television for an electrical engineer for the Naval Service but I suppose that, knowing the naval personnel as I do, I should not have been surprised. It is not possible to recruit cadets for the Navy and who can blame people for not being attracted to the service? Why could we not give to naval cadets the same conditions as are extended to Army cadets. If we did this, we would not have any trouble in recruiting personnel. The officers are frustrated by all of this. There was the case of the officer and men who were sent to Britain on a training course in diving but 12 months later they did not have as much as a rubber suit. Eventually, they acquired three but they could not dive because they had no compressor. Many individuals who dive for pleasure have their own compressors. A compressor can be bought for £200 but the Minister for Defence had the audacity to tell me that one compressor has been on order since May last. Is it not absurd that a compressor could not be obtained after waiting seven months? If we need more money for capital development, for increased payments to industry by way of incentive and otherwise, we might look to the EEC. I read today that they have increased their lending to about 500 million dollars to member states and associate states. As we intend joining the Community and since it appears we are in need of money for capital investment, we should make our application now and not wait until it is too late which is what we do in lots of other cases.

It is often the case in these debates that one comments on speakers who have come before one. I propose to refer to one of the points made by Deputy Cott and to a number of the points made by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries. It seems to me that the Minister's speech was one in favour of going into the EEC, not one in regard to the manner in which the Government handled the economy during the past 12 months.

Deputy Cott made a point on which I should like to dwell for a moment. He said that certain types of work were confined to certain kinds of people. As of this moment, although there was a scarcity of craft workers, there is a surplus of craft workers. Although there is that surplus of craft workers, the people about whom the Labour Party are concerned are the vast numbers of what are called unskilled workers, people who by reason of their lack of training in particular skills are general workers. They constitute the bulk of the people in the queues at the employment exchanges. It is those people for whom we want work and I propose at the end of what I have to say to make a few suggestions on how we could provide work for them immediately.

I gathered from what the Taoiseach said at the end of his extraordinary speech that the Departments of State can draw on this £40 million straight away. At the same time, I did not gather that the Government have yet made up their minds on how to deal with the unemployment problem. In that connection I want to make a few remarks about the speech of the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries.

He spoke about the Labour Party distorting matters. I am not aware anybody has distorted anything. The fact is that the level of unemployment is at its highest since the end of the second world war and in spite of what Deputy Andrews says repeatedly about the 1957 figures, they are not comparable. I have no objection in this regard so long as people do not distort. At that time, Fianna Fáil took out the unemployable people, unfit people, and put them into another category under the Department of Health. They did so probably correctly, but if one is to compare the figures, as Deputy Paddy Burke is so fond of doing so often—I am sorry he is not here——

I will send for him.

The point is that the 76,000 now unemployed would be the equivalent of more than 100,000 in the 1950s, taking like with like. Even with the gigantic efforts of Seán MacEntee in 1952, the figure never reached 100,000. The number unemployed now is probably more than 100,000, taking like with like.

I was interested in what Deputy Gibbons, the Minister, said about last year being the finest yet for agriculture. It certainly was a magnificient year climatically and the Government should be patted on the back for having had such a fine summer and autumn. However, the fact is that cattle this winter did not have to be hand fed at all up to Christmas. Somebody said he was in a field where fodder had been put out for cattle but the cattle were eating the grass instead. There had been a continuous growth of grass during the autumn and early winter.

What I am interested in is a different point altogether. The Minister said agricultural production was up by 5 per cent last year. That was modest enough having regard to the kind of summer there was. He said agricultural prices went up 2 per cent. That would apparently mean that farmers' incomes went up by 7 per cent. In fact, their real incomes went down by 2 per cent. Owing to the bounty of nature they were able to produce 5 per cent more and agricultural prices went up 2 per cent but the farmers' real incomes went down. Of course, this did not apply to all farmers because I am certain that the men who have been selling good class beef animals recently have had a very sizeable increase in their real incomes. I do not wish to be misunderstood about it.

The Minister took on Deputy O'Connell for what he called his cliché when he referred to the flight from the land. Everybody knows about the flight from the land in this country. When you go around the south and west of the country, as a friend of mine said, you find there are far more bushes and weeds in the fields. I do not think the Government are putting the Noxious Weeds Act into operation at all. If one goes back far enough one can remember that farmers always cut their weeds along the roads but not in the remote fields. In the better off parts of the country you would have to walk through thistles as high as yourself in the more remote fields. Now you will see thistles growing all along the roads. It was very noticeable in north Leinster for a period after the war how the farmers tended their land. This has gone because labour has gone from the land.

The Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries referred to the numbers of elderly single farmers. How one will replace elderly single farmers on the land I do not know; there is no straightforward method of doing it. He referred to the unprecedented growth in the standard of living of the people in agriculture. The fact is that there was no growth in 1970 or 1971. Any increase in the salary of a civil servant, for example if his salary goes up from £4,000 to £4,500, is referred to as growth—his salary has grown. This, of course, makes a cod of the whole system, particularly because the Government are spending more and more. I do not make an apology for referring to the fact that in every statement I have made since I came back to the House in 1969 I have said there was a huge increase in Government expenditure every year and that this would end up in the kind of crisis we have now. I expected a contradiction from the Parliamentary Secretary who usually helps me with my speeches.

I am very obliging.

I said this on every occasion. I knew it would happen. This is the Government who were so critical of the original capital programme away back in 1950 that they put up the sign of the pawnbroker around the city of Dublin when the first inter-Party Government were raising a loan. They are not only borrowing every penny they can get in this country but they have borrowed all over the world. Three or four years ago we used up all our credit. Nothing will move quicker than our credit if outsiders see this kind of situation in this country. In the last Budget the Minister for Finance who, I notice, has not contributed to this debate——

I appreciate the reason. I am sorry I mentioned it. I had forgotten about the unfortunate loss he sustained a few days ago. He claimed that he was cutting down the inflation of Government expenditure. The fact is that he did not cut it down at all. On his own figures Government expenditure this year was to rise by 12½ per cent. We have had the usual plethora of Supplementary Estimates and I believe that it will be close to 20 per cent—I am talking arithmetic now—and there has been a 20 per cent increase in Government expenditure every year for the last five years while the fall in the value of money has been about half that each year, about 10 per cent. The main agents for this inflationary situation, which has now caught up with the Government as I prophesied it would, have been the Government themselves with their pretence that there was a decrease in Government expenditure or a cutback, as Deputy Paddy Power called it. This is all a joke. It is not serious comment at all.

The Taoiseach in his speech faced two ways. He said that the figures were, to a certain extent, fake and he gave various reasons why. I think I know the source from which he got that particular kind of comment and I have no great regard for it. Although for the bulk of his speech he said there was no crisis, it was all nonsense, he proceeded to say that they are going to provide £240 million for capital expenditure in the coming year and that it can be used immediately. If the figures are not as sound as they should be, why did the Government add an additional £50 million to the huge capital expenditure programme of last year? Of course, much of it is not capital expenditure at all. It is just called the Capital Budget to give it a name. It is a method of enabling the Government to sanctify themselves for borrowing the money to meet items, many of which recur year after year and therefore should be met out of current revenue. It is not as if, as a result of this, taxation was low. The fact is, and this is another cause of unemployment, that the exemption level for income tax is still at the same point as it was when the PAYE system came into operation here in 1959. Look at what has happened to the value of money. It was bad enough in 1959 as compared with 1939 but now the whole thing is a most disgraceful business. There are people paying income tax who are not at subsistence level if we take that level to be what is properly so regarded in the age in which we live. Deputy O'Connell referred to this inherent contradiction, this inconsistency in what the Taoiseach said here yesterday. I agree that it is a very serious matter that the Taoiseach would not even put together a speech which was logically consistent in itself.

On the question as to whether there is a special cause for the sudden lurch in the unemployment situation I think there are a number of reasons. If firms close down or if factories are closed by individual firms other firms, looking at the situation, say to themselves: "Now we have some money and we could put it back into the business and keep it going or we could close down and husband it." I am afraid this kind of disease is catching and if one firm close down another firm that really need not close down are inclined to say: "Let us protect our resources" and the method of protecting them is to close down even if it is only until times get better. This is a very serious matter.

The trade cycle is a well-known phenomenon, though since inflation took over from it all over the western world people who study it are few in number. It is not regarded as at all as serious as it used to be. There is a psychological phenomenon in connection with a matter like redundancies. There is also at the moment an additional bait which I am afraid that, human nature being what it is, people are not sufficiently strong-minded to resist. There is the "gravy train" known as Fóir Teoranta, the Bill for which passed through the Seanad last week. The amount provided was originally £6 million but an additional £ 1 ½ million was put in by way of amendment in the Seanad. It is now £ 7 ½ million. If there is one method better than any other by which to get a share of the gravy off that train as it passes it is to say: "We are going to close down." There is no more effective way of getting at any Government. Every Government shiver at the mere mention of a closedown. Human nature being what it is, it is a bit too much to expect that businessmen would not have their eyes on this money which I presume is now available.

One reason why the situation has got so bad is that false statements have been made continuously on behalf of the Government. For example, the IDA have said time and time again that more jobs were created last year than there were redundancies. This is not true. It is quite false. A false statement of this kind made on behalf of the Industrial Development Authority makes matters worse. It was stated that the total number of redundancies for the year would be 4,500. The number in the first half of the year was 3,500. Such an effort at falsifying the figures makes matters worse when troubles arise. People are inclined to feel that if untruths are told about such matters the Government are not to be trusted or believed. The credibility of the Government suffers seriously.

I asked the Taoiseach some time ago why the three or four ships which were being built by the Clyde dockyards were not being built in Cork. The Taoiseach said that the Cork shipyard could not build them and went on to suggest that I was injuring the institutions of the State by asking such questions. I saw no reason why Irish ships could not be built when Cork dockyard were in a position to build them and why we could not wait for ships until that time was reached. There are tramp steamers all over the world and Irish Shipping has very little connection with our economy. Perhaps Irish Shipping provides an insurance policy against the imaginary contingency of another world war in which we would be neutral. We suffered much during the last war. I am not surprised that we are taking out insurance against such a contingency again.

The best shipping policy is supposed to be to sell ships every 12 years. We had some ships over 12 years old in operation during the Emergency. Some of them were barely able to reach the Liffey and were lying against the wall down there.

The Government have been using cost benefit analysis in connection with the purchase of the two Jumbo jets. This system has serious defects, particularly on a single year basis. Some people do not believe in the use of such a system. People may ask why we do not have cost loss analysis. A good deal of the Government's so-called capital expenditure would be better analysed on the basis of cost loss analysis than on a basis of cost benefit analysis.

When talking about unemployment I feel embarrassed. It is all right to talk about unemployment when one has adequate money for clothes and food. It is easy to talk academically about unemployment in such circumstances. When speaking at Cork the Taoiseach showed that he was completely indifferent to the situation. I do not believe the Taoiseach was fully aware of the situation. This year the number of unemployed increased by 5,000 in the week before Christmas. This does not usually happen. The normal time for the figures to increase is the first week in January. At that stage they tend to skyrocket. The figures are so bad this year that I hope they will not get worse. I agree with the Taoiseach when he says that the figures will tend to rise. The unemployment figures are likely to be higher by the end of February than they were up to the 7th January.

The news that the Government will spend so much money may cause a number of people who were considering closing up sections of their works to pause before doing so. There may be a turn for the better. This would be very desirable.

There is another aspect on which there is considerable disagreement in this House. I want to state clearly what my position is on this matter. During the period before Christmas no Government Minister admitted in the House that the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement had anything to do with unemployment. The Taoiseach in particular never mentioned this fact. It was never mentioned that our imports had risen so much that they were offsetting the magnificent performance of our exports. We are opposing the Common Market campaign for the same reasons that we opposed the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement, but that agreement was of minor importance compared with what is involved in the Common Market. We got some benefits from the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement. The Government sold out the long-term interests of this country for short-term advantages. That agreement is beginning to bite now. One of the earlier speakers on the Fine Gael benches said that there was no evidence that the Government made any real effort to have any mid-term reassessment of the agreement with the British. If they did so, they are very quiet about it. It is obvious that if they did so they received no satisfaction from the British. That is evident from the results. The British did not bother about our industrial problems at all.

Before the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement came into effect most of our industrial products went to the British duty free. We were not regarded as of any great importance or as being capable of doing any harm so our products were allowed in duty free. We had sizeable tariffs and quotas in many cases on almost every form of goods coming into this country. The tariffs were high. These tariffs have only gone down halfway. If this is so, what will the position be under EEC conditions where we will be in competition with the massive factories in Europe which, when they have surplus products, will regard our country as the obvious place to dump them? As the poet put it: "If this is the way in the greenwood what will it be in the dry?" This is the way in the greenwood, but I stand over what I said originally, that the main cause of the present situation is the continuous, enormous increase in Government expenditure, much greater than inflation.

One cannot take up any newspaper or hear of any meeting of business men, like the one that occurred the day before yesterday in this city, without finding a policy of blaming the workers because they want more money; our wage increases are too high—the usual thing. In 1971 there was no wage round. We have rounds every second year. In countries like Sweden and Holland they have a wage round every year. As there was no wage round within the past year here, the amount of wage increases must have been relatively small. Of course, these rounds do not go into operation in relation to all workers at the same time, and this makes it very difficult to make any positive statement about it. In spite of the fact that there was no wage round for the past year, there was massive inflation. One of the things which has been blamed for this was decimal currency, and I think there is a good deal of truth in it, but whenever the workers get an increase of wages, at best it compensates them in full for the increases in prices that have already occurred and makes some little provision for the inflation that is inevitably coming. This provision was written into the national agreement, that if the cost of living index went above a certain point the workers would be compensated to some extent for it.

The position is that people at subsistence level are now paying income tax, whereas, under our system of taxation, the men who produce these extremely handsome animals which are making such good money at the moment do not pay any. If anybody thinks this is a fair or reasonable social outlook they have another think coming. I am not suggesting that all the farmers or even those with a large area of land are necessarily making large incomes. What I am saying is that there are many farmers with massive incomes on which they are paying no income tax whatever. They are not the only people in the country who get off paying income tax, but they are legally exempt from it, whereas the other people get off by various sleight-of-hand methods.

I think nobody should contribute to this debate in the serious situation we have without trying to make some suggestions. Various Deputies made suggestions. Deputy O'Connell made a large number of suggestions. Deputy Cott made some, too. I want to make a few suggestions, some of which have been made already. Deputy Cott made one which I regard as positive, but I want to make a different point about it. He talked about forestry. There was a reduction in the number of forestry workers last year, and I said in this House to the Minister for Lands, who looks after forestry, that as far as I could see—and I have been in some of the forests—thinning was being neglected. Of course, he denied it, but it is a fact. You do not need a degree in forestry to know that thinning is being neglected; all you need are eyes. This is a serious loss in one of the most important of the capital items of the Government's programme, State forestry, which is one of the most valuable assets we shall have in time. If the thinnings are not done after ten to 12 years growth and again after 20 to 22 years growth, and are neglected for a couple of years, there is a great loss. That is one activity that would provide employment for people who are wrongly called unskilled workers. I think every worker has a skill, and agricultural workers, particuarly, have many more skills than most industrial workers.

Deputy Cott asks: "Why is the programme of planting not increased?" I agree with him, if the land is available. In October, November and December, these three excellent months, there should have been massive planting of trees. Probably the best thing the Government could do—although they are unlikely to do it because of where the idea originated—is to reactivate the Local Authorities (Works) Act, 1950. I know the late Deputy Seán Lemass used to throw cold water on it every time it was mentioned, but it is one of the best methods of providing employment during the winter months for people who are unemployed. The Act is still there; it has just been allowed to fall into disuse. Deputy Donegan said this morning he hoped that, now that the Government have wakened up, very late in the day, indeed, the schemes that are with the Department of Local Government would all be sanctioned right away and come into operation. That Local Authorities (Works) Act—I do not mind what opinion is held of it by the Fianna Fáil Party—proved extremely effective during the period of the inter-Party Government, and it was originated by a member of the Labour Party, the late Deputy Murphy.

Deputy Cott made another suggestion with which I heartily agree Why have we in this relatively stag nant economy the highest rate of interest in the whole western world for commercial bank credit? Would the Parliamentary Secretary like to give me a short answer to that? With a great flourish of trumpets the banks reduced the deposit rate by 1 per cent and the lending rate, which was 9 ½ per cent, by ¼ per cent. It is accepted among monetary economists that one of the very best methods of getting an economy going is to have credit available at low rates. It is very hard to deal with this in a period of massive inflation. I take it this is one of the arguments that has caused the Government to lie supine under this fantastic rate of interest.

I should like to comment on some of the speeches made in this House yesterday and today and to say that it gives me pleasure to welcome this additional boost the economy has got, this extra £20 million, to create more employment.

Congratulations all round.

I have listened to the grunt and groan merchants of the Opposition, particularly members of the Labour Party, who have created an atmosphere of gloom and distrust in the minds of workers and industrialists. This atmosphere tends to create redundancies. It tends to create a situation whereby employers will avail of the opportunity of laying off personnel because they feel it is the in-thing and because they feel they will have adequate support from politicians who want to make political capital out of the fact that redundancies have been created. Many people have been made redundant in the past as a result of some of the speeches made by Opposition Deputies.

Come off it.

A climate has been created which makes it easy for some unscrupulous employers, who could put their house in order at this stage, to cause redundancies which could have been avoided within their firms. We are well aware that this boost which has now been given will create jobs in the future.

The present situation has been created over a period by a variety of factors. Some of those are our responsibility but many of them are outside our control. One would think, from what some members of the Opposition have said, that the Government over the years had stood idly by in relation to industrial development and in relation to providing jobs and the creation of opportunities for employment.

When we look at the annual report of the Industrial Development Authority we can see at a glance the efforts which have been made by this institution over the years. When one examines the facts regarding those years alone, without going back to 1965, one can see that there has been an increase in industrial effort over the years. If we take Table I and Table II we see that the number of new industries for which grants were approved for designated areas by counties in 1970-71 was 41. The number of new industrial grants approved for designated areas by industrial groupings in 1970-71 was 41. The number of new grants approved for non-designated areas by counties in 1970-71 was 37 and the number of new industrial grants approved for non-designated areas by industrial groupings in 1970-71 was 37. If we move to Tables 12 and 14 we find that the number of small industrial grants approved for designated areas in 1970-71 was 97 and the number of small industrial grants approved for designated areas by industrial groupings in 1970-71 was 97.

One can see that this particular pattern has been followed. No effort was spared to ensure that development would take place and that new job opportunities would be created. In Table 15 we see that the number of small industrial grants approved for non-designated areas by counties in 1970-71 was 96. Again, the number of small industrial grants approved for non-designated areas by industrial groupings in 1970-71 was also 96.

Further down in the statistics we find that the number of re-equipment grants approved for designated areas by counties in 1970-71 was 81 and the number of re-equipment grants approved for designated areas by industrial groupings was 81. In Table 25 we see that the number of re-equipment grants approved for non-designated areas by counties in 1970-71 was 363 and the number of re-equipment grants approved for non-designated areas by industrial groupings in that period was 363. One can take it from that that every effort was made during the years to ensure that further job opportunities would be created.

In order to deal with the amount of money put into this work and the other factors to which the Industrial Development Authority devoted their interests and energies we turn to Table 63. In regard to the development of the industrial estates alone 674,750 square feet of floor space was occupied on the 31st of March, 1970. On the 31st March, 1971, the area was 757,675 square feet. During the year 1970-71 a further 158,000 square feet was completed and on the 31st March, 1971, an additional 131,000 square feet was under construction. This is positive proof that efforts were made over the years to provide employment. The position is not as stated by the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party that nothing was done to create new jobs. Any industries which needed re-equipment grants received them provided their industries were viable.

During this period grants were provided for the establishment of new industrial enterprises, and to assist the establishment or development of small industries. Training grants towards the training of workers in new industries, re-equipment grants towards the cost of re-equipment and modernisation of existing manufacturing industries, research and development grants and grants towards the reduction of loan interest were also provided. Therefore, one can see that the position is not as has been stated by the Opposition. Every effort was made over the years to provide additional employment.

It could be said that not enough money was put into this over the years. That may be so but the statistics show beyond doubt the type of effort made in order to ensure that our industries would produce more job opportunities. As has been stated on many occasions, many of the factors which caused a reduction in employment were factors over which we had no control. There were some factors over which we had control. If one understands the trade cycle then one understands the fluctuations that can occur. I shall not dwell too long on statistics. Those produced have not been questioned so I take it the figures are acceptable. The groundwork laid in the year 1970-71 will provide jobs in the year 1972-73. It is regrettable that there should be unemployment but corrective steps are being taken.

With regard to new industrial grants for designated areas, in the period from 1952 to 1970 the amount approved was £24,843,000. From 1st March, 1970, to the end of the financial year in 1971 there was an additional £7 million by way of grant to new industries. The amount unclaimed for designated areas from 1959 to 1970 was £45 million. In 1970-71 the amount approved was £16,334,000. There has been a considerable contribution and every effort is being made to ensure that job opportunities will be available and that industry will equip itself to meet the new situation in freer trade.

In Table III, small industries grants, in the period 1960-70 a sum of £2,235,000 was approved and from 1970 to 1971 there was a sum of £695,000. This very important section cannot be overlooked because it offers great possibilities. In the period 1963 to 1970 adaptation grants amounted to £1,936,000 and from 1963 to 1970 adaptation grants to the tune of £19,704,000 were approved. Ever-mounting millions were poured in in a period described by some speakers as a period during which the Government took no action whatsoever. Re-equipment grants approved from 1968 to 1970 amounted to £5 million and in 1970-71 the figure was £4 million. There has been considerable activity on the part of this particular body to ensure that industry by way of adaptation and new development——

The Deputy will appreciate that I must now call on a Labour Deputy to conclude on behalf of the Labour Party.

When children first start going to school, if they have not been taught their ABC at home before going to school, the first thing they learn is their letters and, having learned their letters, they then in a short time learn to read short phrases. They improve and eventually they read anything they can get hold of. It makes no impression on their minds because they do not understand what they are reading but on every possible occasion they trot out what they read. Being children, they try to impress their hearers by pretending they know what they are reading. My mind went back to schooldays when I listened to Deputy Dowling trotting out figures which, apparently, did not mean one damn thing to him because he did not understand them. Someone gave him a book and said: "Go in and read this." This was a sensible debate until Deputy Dowling rose and it is a pity that it should be impaired now by the introduction of irrelevancies.

I am glad the Minister for Labour and Social Welfare is present because he is a key figure in this whole muddle. I am sure he is not very proud of the situation in which he finds himself. He is a very decent man and I am sure he is as perturbed and embarrassed by the inaction of his Government as everybody else in the country must be. The debate started off with the Taoiseach and some of his Ministers trying to put across that there was no crisis. no problem and no need to take any special measures. The Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement was not doing anything to spoil the unblemished record and so on, and so on. Even as recently as a week ago we had the Taoiseach at a Fianna Fáil meeting saying there was no crisis and that was repeated here in this House by members of his Government speaking in this debate; in fact, the argument was that the crisis was one which had been created by the Labour Party and, to a lesser extent, by Fine Gael. The Labour Party had wished thousands and thousands out of their jobs. Deputy Joe Dowling in the little bit of what he said that I could understand said that even by this debate we were creating further unemployment.

Let us put the blame now fairly and squarely where it belongs and that is on the shoulders of this Fianna Fáil Government. We were used to a Government controlled by a strong Taoiseach—first of all, Eamon de Valera and then Seán Lemass. Both of these gentlemen in their time had one characteristic which helped them very considerably: they made up their own minds and they had a policy and they insisted on that policy being carried out. Unfortunately, when Deputy Jack Lynch arrived, we had a different set of figures. We had a Taoiseach who was not prepared to "carry the can" himself and who passed responsibility for everything on to his Ministers. They were, in fact, paid to carry that responsibility but they had never had to carry that responsibility before. Then a few calamities struck his Government and he finished up with a rather mediocre type of Government and, when the weight came on them, they started to crack and very soon they fell apart. The result is that 80,000 of our people are now unemployed because of a poor Government, a poor Cabinet and an irresponsible attitude by that Government and that Cabinet to a crisis which has been building up, not this week, or last week, or the week before, but for months past. We could see it. Fine Gael could see it. Fianna Fáil could not see it. Even now they cannot see it. They say these people are not unemployed and there is no crisis.

Dr. Kieran Kennedy, Director of the Institute for Economic and Social Research, said that the economy was in a state of deflation. I assume he is a highly intelligent man and knows what he is talking about. He replaced Dr. Fogarty and Dr. Geary, both of whom had a tremendous reputation. I assume that, when he made that statement, he was stating a fact. Why is the economy in a state of deflation? This deflation is the direct result of the Budget introduced here last year by the present Minister for Finance, Deputy George Colley. Deputy Colley when he introduced that Budget said that he had pared Estimates—those were his own words—in order to keep down expenditure and having pared the Estimates he was very proud of the figure he presented to this House. Since then we have had the situation in which a few months ago £20 million was injected into the economy and a further £50 million was mentioned here yesterday.

So much for his paring of Estimates. His Budget failed badly. He made this mistake: apparently he was under the impression that even if unemployment was created as a result of paring the Estimates it would cause moderation in prices. But all we need to do is look at Britain where unemployment is soaring to the one million mark and ask has there been a reduction in prices as a result. Of course not; nor here either. We knew for quite a time that the unemployment situation was worsening but the Minister for Finance until very late last year was not prepared to face the fact that this was so. He applied a 40 years old economic theory to running the country. Apparently at the back of his mind he had the idea that a pool of unemployment—a phrase used by Fianna Fáil—was useful because it would contain wage demands and keep prices down. Now he knows otherwise. The trade unionists and particularly union officials who were responsible for seeing the agreements through, proved to be very responsible and national wage agreements were made and adhered to despite the fact that the Government did not keep their end of the bargain. The Government made no effort to hold prices at the level at which they were when the agreement was made and the agreement was made particularly on the basis that prices would be held. They were not held and also unemployment was growing. This reminds me of the doctor who makes a wrong diagnosis and the patient dies. Dr. George Colley made the wrong diagnosis and the patient is rapidly dying now. The working class people are suffering most.

It was said by successive Ministers, particularly in the past six months, that the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement had no bearing on growing unemployment. Last night we had a grudging admission by the Tánaiste followed by a more forthright admission by the Minister for Industry and Commerce that it had caused some unemployment but had only cost about 1,000 jobs—just like that. Apart from the fact that they are only a couple of thousand out it is an admission that something has gone wrong. These jobs had been disappearing over a period, very much more than 1,000 of them, and only very recently the Government decided to act. They increased by 50 per cent the tariff on certain imported goods. They did not do so until the country was flooded with British goods. An extraordinary thing happened here. Despite all we hear about buying Irish and the need for, and responsibility on Irish people to buy home products, when people began buying British goods they got a taste for foreign goods and began looking for Italian and French goods. At present one can go to any shop, even in a relatively small town, and find a selection of British and continental wares for sale. Apparently this does not worry the Government; it is only ordinary working people who are losing jobs, or so they think. But the position has gone so far that very many more than those employed in the factories are beginning to suffer. If the money is not circulating shops in the area suffer; then all the businesses suffer and around the ring it goes until eventually even the agricultural community will feel the loss of the earnings of the workers concerned.

The economics practised by the Government can only be described as lunacy. One reason I say this is that in a town in my constituency approximately 140 people were employed in a furniture factory at an average wage of about £25 a week. That factory closed. I believe a temporary injection of a substantial sum, perhaps, £60,000 or £70,000 by loan could have kept that factory going. It had been in existence over 40 years. It was modern and could have been saved and much could have been done by the employees to ensure not only a continuing of the home market but also of the export market in which the factory was engaged.

What happened? The 140 workers laid off first got redundancy pay and since they had long service had to get substantial amounts. Since the management knew the facts they gave six weeks notice so that approximately £35,000 or £40,000 went on redundancy pay. The State lost £2 per person per week in stamps, another £14,000, and approximately £15,000 per year was being paid by those workers in income tax. There was also the loss in turnover and wholesale taxes. Then the State, having lost that amount, estimated at about £200,000 in a period of 12 months, pays unemployment benefit to the people concerned and even at an average of £10 per week—it is much more than that in many cases because the workers were entitled to 50 per cent of their wages for a long period—it means that there was a loss in all of possibly £250,000 in a 12-month period. The loss of production represents a loss to the State and there was a loss of earning capacity and buying power amongst those concerned. We end up with no factory and the State suffering a net loss.

I wonder did the Minister for Finance ever hear of cost benefit analysis. Has any effort been made to find out if the closing of a factory could be more costly to the State than subsidising it to some extent to keep it going? I believe a partial solution to this problem must be for the State to set up some type of co-ordinating committee or department that would be able to tell the Department of Social Welfare that a factory is closing down and will result in a substantial net loss to the State and show that by means of a grant or loan at the proper time that factory could be kept going and the workers kept in employment.

An extraordinary thing is that not only does this happen in private enterprise, of which Fianna Fáil seems so proud, but it has been happening in State employment also. It is bad enough to have private employers whose only motive is profit laying people off in order to save their own pockets and to hell with the economy, but we have the State laying off men in the Forestry Division and the Board of Works and anywhere else they had employees. The State paid off these workers to save a few paltry pounds. Those concerned lost employment and income and the State lost their income tax and the cost of insurance stamps and eventually, even in that case, a net loss accrued to the State. Fianna Fáil do not care and they have failed to realise that it is their responsibility to see to it that the country is run properly. They just sit back and say: "There is no crisis, there is no unemployment." The sooner they realise that this will not be taken from them any longer the better it will be for them.

When the late Seán Lemass was sitting on this side of the House he said that the way to gauge whether a government were doing their job properly was to look at the number of people employed and the number unemployed and there you had the answer. The present Taoiseach has a different answer. He tells us: "Look at England." The unemployed are committing the cardinal crime of not emigrating. It is being asked why they do not emigrate because if they did this they would not be entered on the unemployment register here. Did anyone ever hear such a ridiculous statement from a Taoiseach? It is utterly stupid to point to the number of people who have not emigrated.

I should like to comment on one or two points the Taoiseach made in his speech. On a number of occasions I have said that Fianna Fáil are masters of the half truth. They are the best people I know to say something which, while it cannot be pointed out as being a deliberate lie, if one goes close enough into the matter it can be found to be half true. Of course, we can be told that there are two ways of looking at it. I should like to put another way of looking at some of the things the Taoiseach said yesterday.

The Taoiseach spoke about the necessity to reduce the size of pay increases and he suggested, as did the Tánaiste in his speech yesterday, that the cause of the trouble was that workers were looking for too much for what they are doing. As I have pointed out already, the workers have shown a tremendous restraint and have honoured their guarantees. It is an example I would recommend to the Government that, for a change, they might honour their guarantees.

The Taoiseach said that the level of employment showed little change from 1970. Later in the day we heard the Minister for Industry and Commerce boasting about 8,000 additional jobs that had been created in industry. Both the Taoiseach and other Government spokesmen, and particularly Deputy Colley outside this House, time and again have attempted to prove that a man or woman engaged in agriculture who becomes unemployed is not an unemployed person. The sooner it seeps through the brains of these gentlemen that whether a person is working in agriculture or industry if he loses his job he is unemployed the better it will be.

The Taoiseach said that the 77,801 who are unemployed were not all looking for work and he proceeded to slip in the half-truth. He said about 5,000 of them were over 65 years. No one knows better than the Minister who is present now, Deputy Brennan, that the 5,000 people referred to by the Taoiseach are on retirement pensions, they are over 65 years, and therefore do not appear on the unemployment register. The Taoiseach would be well advised to stick to the full truth because we can check on these figures and we know a little about how they are compiled. In the Adjournment Debate before Christmas the Taoiseach mentioned that there were between 4,000 and 5,000 people who were receiving retirement pensions. Those people do not appear on the unemployment register and anyone over 65 years who is signing for unemployment benefit or assistance is doing so because he wants a job.

The Taoiseach spoke about 11,000 farmers and their relatives and he suggested that these people are not unemployed. Have they full-time jobs, because if they have they should not be drawing unemployment benefit. I know that Fianna Fáil, in an effort to buy votes on the western seaboard some years ago, introduced a system which allowed these people to draw unemployment assistance while they worked their own farms. At the same time the Government deprived people with families of assistance. I know of a man who had 15 children and who lived in the midlands: a few years ago he was refused benefit although he had been charged for insurance stamps. Either people are unemployed or they are not. May I point out to the Taoiseach that the figures he gave were in respect of last year and if we have a comparison with this year it is obvious that these people are unemployed and he must accept that fact.

The Taoiseach referred to young married women who were signing for benefit. The Minister for Labour, who has just left the House, complained here when answering a question I put to him that even in his own constituency married women whom he thought were entitled to draw benefit were refused it because of the way some official worked the slide rule they operate with regard to unemployment benefit. Nobody signs at the employment exchange unless they are looking for a job. Accepting insurance stamps from people and then refusing to meet the commitments is a dishonest practice which should be stopped.

The Taoiseach spoke about the chronically unemployed—the unemployable. The Tánaiste went further and told us that in a survey carried out in Britain it was found that 46 per cent of those who were signing for unemployment benefit were people who were unable to work. In view of the fact that the number of people signing here for unemployment benefit as distinct from assistance is about 42,000, surely neither the Taoiseach nor the Tánaiste would suggest that the percentage shown in Britain applies to this country. They should check their figures before they trot them out in this House; if they do not, somebody else will.

If there are people who are unemployed because of illness or age or who suffered the heartbreak of going year after year to a labour exchange looking for the job that was not there, we should put these people into a special category and give them disability assistance and take them off the exchange books. Either these people are there or they are not. If they are there, it is legitimate to count them.

Redundancy has been mentioned and it has been suggested that even if there have been 8,000 redundancies it is not too bad because the people concerned are getting paid. What good is redundancy pay to a person of 50 or 60 years who has lost his job? Such a person knows that when he goes home with his insurance card and with the few pounds of redundancy pay he will never see a day's work again if this Government remain in power.

We have a Government Party who years ago stated that people over 40 years of age could not apply for a permanent job in State employment, even as a labourer. That has now been taken up by private enterprise and the position is that people who reach 50 years of age have no hope on earth of being re-employed. These people suffer tremendous heartbreak when they are forced to go home and tell their wives and families that they have lost their jobs, that they have no hope of getting other jobs and that they may have to emigrate. Then the Taoiseach tells us that, of course, they are not doing this, they are not emigrating now. However, it will be all right because when we enter the EEC they can go to Germany, Holland or some place else where there may be jobs available for them.

What about the break-up of family life as a result of all this? Nobody seems to worry, most certainly the Government do not worry. However, the Labour Party, whose main job it is to see to it that the ordinary people get a fair deal, will do everything in their power to prevent that from happening. We will do everything we can to put Fianna Fáil out of office. It is long overdue.

The Taoiseach spoke about retraining. Would someone tell me if any effort has been made to retrain anyone? Where has this retraining taken place? At the present time in my constituency work is commencing on the biggest mine in Europe, perhaps in the world. One would think that with so many people unemployed this would provide an opportunity for training people to take up well-paid jobs within the next two, three or four years, jobs which possibly they could hold for the rest of their lives. What is happening? This has not been suggested. Neither the educational authorities, nor the Department of Labour, nor anybody else, suggested that any effort should be made to train people for this work. When the time comes they will go in as unskilled labourers and bit by bit they will pick up the skills that are needed and, perhaps, in four or five years time they will be able to earn as much as they could earn at the start if they were properly trained. Is this not the Government's responsibility? Apparently they just do not care. They are not unemployed yet.

We must make sure that employment is made available for those who are prepared to accept it. The Taoiseach suggested yesterday—and at first I thought I did not hear him aright— that an extra £50 million was being made available. He said that next year's capital programme was being brought forward and that the figure to be made available as from now was £240 million. Is this some trick-of-the-loop for which Fianna Fáil are famous? Is he telling us that the money which is now being made available will be available for a period of 15 months? Is he telling us that from now on the money will be spent and that later on, if the money happens to run out, that is just too bad? Is he telling us that the schemes which have been in the Department of Local Government, the Department of Health and the Office of Public Works, some of them for a year and some of them for two years, will be undertaken immediately and that money will be made available for housing schemes in, for example, Athboy in my own constituency? Is he telling us that the sewerage and water schemes—for example, in Mornington in my own area, in Navan and all over the country—will be undertaken? Will the money be made available for schemes that are already planned, or will we have the trick which has been played on these people so often of saying: "The money is there. We will sanction the scheme," and six months later they are still considering whether they will allow a loan to be arranged for the purpose of carrying out the work?

Is the Taoiseach saying to us that any local authority who apply for money for a scheme which they are ready to start can have that money? If he is, let him say so. Let us have no more shilly-shallying. The situation is similar with regard to schools and hospitals. Many improvements and additions are urgently required. Are we being told that the money is now available and that work can start on them? We should be told these things. We do not want a situation to arise in which in six months time the officials of the Departments will be sitting around discussing whether they will sanction payment for the jobs which should be started now. They will not be started and everybody in the Department will be hoping that the fact that sanction was promised will be forgotten and somewhere towards the end of next year the money might be spent if the Government are still in office. I should like definite assurances on those matters and I think we are entitled to them.

There has been criticism by a number of people, and particularly by the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste, about what the Taoiseach called the scare stories of the Labour Party. I want to put this on record. Is it not a fact that because of the pressure which the Labour Party put on the Taoiseach and the Government, this debate is taking place? Is it not taking place because we insisted that these matters should be discussed here? We read in the papers that a reprieve has been granted, even for a month in some cases, to workers who were to be laid off. Must the credit for that not go to the people who requested a debate here and particularly to the Leader of the Labour Party, Deputy Corish, who insisted that it should take place? I do not want to take from the Fine Gael proposals because they were equally interested. The only people who did not seem to be interested were the Government. I hope they will be interested when the debate finishes.

There is one aspect of the reprieves I have just mentioned on which I should like some information. We have been criticising and condemning the fact that the Government do not seem to have made any arrangements for what they call fire-brigade action for the industry that is likely to fail. As far as I understand it, the instructions issued many years ago by the Fianna Fáil Minister for Finance, and repeated at intervals since, that those who are responsible for doling out grants or loans from the State must do so in a most conservative way, and that the profitability of a company is the first thing to be taken into consideration, are still in force. I want to know if there has been any change in those instructions. Has there been any suggestion that the question of the social good of continued employment in an industry should get priority?

I hate referring to individual firms here but in Dennys in Waterford notice was issued without any consultation. Have the Government any plans to provide employment for those workers who have now got a reprieve of one month? Can the 300 workers in Dennys be assured that the Government are attempting to find alternative employment for them, or is this reprieve intended to get them over the evil day until this debate is over in the hope that everybody will then forget it? Unlike other parts of the country where there might be some prospects of employment even in a couple of years time, I cannot see 300 workers finding re-employment in Waterford unless a big effort is made and unless the money is made available to reemploy them.

The Government have the old capitalist notion that the profit motive is the prime objective and that if a firm make a profit they are entitled to live, and that if a firm do not make a profit, and are just ticking over, even if they are keeping a substantial number of people in employment, they must die. This seems to be the Government's attitude. I suggest that they should change that attitude as quickly as possible. Rethinking on their role is definitely needed in the Department of Finance. I cannot see any way of getting out of the morass in which we are at present except by making a lot of money available to ensure that industries that have been giving big employment and whose social benefit to the country is tremendous are enabled to remain in existence. If they cannot it is the responsibility of the State to take them over, to give adequate compensation to those who own them, and keep them in existence because otherwise we will have continuing unemployment.

Lest I forget it, yesterday afternoon when the Taoiseach was saying 5,000 people were unemployed last December, and almost the same figure the previous year, he conveniently forgot the extra 9,000 who had gone on to the register in the previous year. He did not want anyone to remember that. I should like to remind him of it now. In addition to the 5,000 there are 9,000 more. Can he explain those figures away as glibly? Indeed, with regard to any plans which the Government may have for industry, I have grave doubts as to whether they are really serious at all.

To take rationalisation, for instance, we had guarantees that no unemployment or redundancy would result from rationalisation. While we all favour rationalisation, it must be said that the people who gave those guarantees had no idea what they were talking about. Certainly, these people were not prepared to stand over what was happening. We know that so far as creameries are concerned rationalisation will be responsible for the loss of 500 jobs during the next 12 months, that in the flour mills it will be responsible for the loss of 100 jobs, and that in the fertiliser industry it will be responsible for the loss of 200 jobs.

Regarding fertilisers, I might say that, despite the fact that Albatros have 50,000 tons in stock, a licence for the importation of 9,000 tons was granted during the past week. Is that the way the Government intend living up to their responsibilities? Is that what they mean when they talk about guaranteeing further employment? Apparently all that is at the back of their minds is the question of expediency—how to get out of an awkward corner at a particular time and while so doing to help their friends. The question of issuing licences is one that will have to be investigated since apparently there is "something rotten in the State of Denmark".

The Government give the ordinary people of the country credit for much less intelligence than they actually have. I meet many people and, unlike Government Ministers, the people I associate with are those who live in labourers' cottages, as they are called, or those who live on small farms— people, perhaps, who do not live in what could be described as very nice housing conditions. When I talk to these people I am amazed at how much they know. Ten or 15 years ago the propaganda meted out to them might have been accepted but that situation no longer exists and people realise what is happening. I warn Fianna Fáil that, unless they make a definite effort to improve the present situation, not only will they be defeated at the next election but many of them will never be heard of again.

No matter what happens now, it is the responsibility of the Government to find employment quickly. The Taoiseach told us glibly yesterday again that an extra 3,000 people would be recruited to the Garda and the Army. This is the first time I have ever heard of any Government offering recruitment to the Army as a solution to the problem of unemployment, although one country which shall remain nameless at one time solved her unemployment problem by introducing compulsory military service for everybody less than a certain age. Is that the suggestion here? I was surprised that the Taoiseach did not give a breakdown of the 3,000 and tell us exactly how many people are to be taken into each force. I am aware that extra gardaí are needed urgently but I would suggest that if the available gardaí were not employed to such an extent on the protection of blackleg lorries from Northern Ireland who come to this part of the country and strikebreak, more gardaí would be available for ordinary duties. I should like to know, too, if the Government have forgotten completely what is happening with regard to tourism. The amount being made available for tourism at present is about £4 million. The industry earns for us about £100 million. Can anybody suggest seriously that an investment of £4 million so as to earn £100 million is a reasonable investment?

Mr. O'Donnell

Hear, hear.

The amount should be trebled. This would mean more jobs in the industry and would mean also the consumption by tourists of much more of our food products, not to mention the consumption of drink. The Government, also, must make an attempt to spend money on television advertising in Britain if they wish tourists from Britain to come here. If I had sufficient time I would speak about a particular programme that I saw recently on the BBC 1 channel. That programme, undoubtedly, was more effective in promoting this country than anything I have seen on any other station, including our own.

Number one on the Government's programme must be the question of public works. This is the quickest and the easiest way of relieving the situation, but there is no point in waiting. Action must be taken immediately and the Ministers responsible should be given the OK to make the necessary money available. This must be done now before the people lose heart completely in the country. I am thinking in particular of roads, schools, the housing industry and hospitals. It is necessary also that an effort be made to ascertain which industries are in trouble and whether, on a cost analysis basis, it would be better to retain them in operation than to let them go by the board. Let us not have poker-faced young men sitting across a table quizzing unfortunate managers who call on them for the purpose of ascertaining whether there is any hope of borrowing more money so that people might be kept in employment. We have had enough of that during the past few years. Tourism must be used for the purpose of trying to increase employment. There is vast potential in that regard in the industry. Those who say that the troubles in the North are responsible for all the difficulties are being nonsensical. There are many people who would be glad to come here on holidays if only they would be given a fair deal and one of the means of offering potential tourists a fair deal is by subsidising the air fares between Great Britain and here. If Aer Lingus or BEA will not do this, the Government should do it because the cross-Channel fares are scandalous and this applies to some extent to the sea route, too.

These, then, are a number of ways of creating employment. Many people have either been laid off or are under notice by the local authorities. County managers should be issued with orders that there be no further redundancies and that those who have been laid off be re-employed. If necessary the money could be made available at a later date but the instructions should be issued now. With the exception of those who have retired on the grounds of illness or age, there should be re-employment, too, in the Forestry Division. I understand that the Board of Works in particular got only a very small amount of money. Let there not be expensive machines eating up the money which is made available for employment while unfortunate men and women are queuing up outside the employment exchanges. Anyone who has passed by any one of the exchanges during the past week will have seen the unfortunate people standing outside in heavy rain. Those people would be happy to find employment but they are being denied the opportunity to work because of the mismanagement of this country by the present Government.

This debate was requested for the purpose of drawing attention to the gravity of the present situation. In consideration of the problem it would not help either to exaggerate or to minimise the situation, but obviously there is an urgent need for long-term planning and not for ad hoc measures. The seriousness of the present situation, resulting in the highest numbers on the unemployment register for much more than a decade, highlights the urgency of dealing with the problem. Because of that urgency and because of the numbers who are unemployed. We have approached the matter without making any attempt either to exaggerate the difficulties or to minimise the consequences of having so many people on the unemployment register. It was, therefore, a surprise to us that yesterday the Taoiseach endeavoured, by using certain statistical data, to play down the actual figures on the unemployment register. He sought to do that by two main examples, one the 11,000 persons on the unemployment register who are married women registering for work and the other the figure of 5,000 persons who are over 65 years of age. These numbers have been on the register constantly this year, last year and a decade ago. There might be a minor change of a few hundred here or there but that is a constant factor.

It is also a constant factor that on the unemployment register are those who are incapable of work or chronically unemployed. In other words, these are not variables. It indicates the complacency with which the Government face this grave situation that faced with these facts the Taoiseach should have endeavoured to minimise the gravity of the situation by picking out a number of persons on the register who have been on it in similar numbers for years, indeed, for decades.

This situation has primarily arisen because of two or three principal factors on the economic scene. It is now apparent that the unemployment numbers in Britain are the highest for 30 years, that they approach approximately 1,000,000 unemployed, that that had an effect on the numbers emigrating because of the lack of job opportunities in Britain. At the same time, the numbers out of work in the United States and, indeed, in other countries is the highest for many years.

Coupled with that there is the fact that the Government themselves have operated here a series of stop-go policies over the past number of years. We have only to look at the very recent budgetary proposals. In the autumn of last year a budget was brought in which was designed initially as a package deal. It had two sides to it—a heavy increase in Government taxation on companies and otherwise and a proposal to operate a prices and incomes policy. Because of the opposition to the prices and incomes policy that portion was scrapped but the company taxation provisions were continued. That resulted in problems for a number of factories.

I want to advert now to the number of cases where it was known for a long period that problems would arise for industry. These problems were known to the Government, to the Department of Industry and Commerce, to AnCO and to the other State organisations dealing with these matters because they were the subject of CIO investigations in a number of instances many years ago. One example that has been referred to here repeatedly is the bacon industry. We have been told that it faces a period of rationalisation and that we have too many bacon factories because of modern methods of production. One of the major problems the bacon factories have is to re-equip, redesign and modernise themselves. The difficulty of doing that for industry has been increased by the increase in company taxation imposed in the supplementary budget last year which the Government themselves recognised at the end of last year as a mistake and made a modification in it.

We have put forward a number of proposals, all of them designed to ease the situation and to provide a solution to the problems that at present face the country. We have listed them under nine headings or so. The first is—and this has been reinforced by comments that have been made this week at the first annual economic conference of the Confederation of Irish Industry—that if we are to plan ahead effectively and if we are to have long-term planning and not ad hoc measures then the first step is to convene under Government auspices a meeting between employers and the trade union organisation, first of all, to deal with threatened redundancies, to ensure that there is a postponement until the position is examined as a matter of urgency and, secondly, to review with the employers' representatives and the representatives of the trade unions the immediate wage and salary situation, the income situation for the coming 12 or 18 months and to review in the light of that the problem of rising prices and rising costs, to review in conjunction with the IDA and AnCO an expansion of alternative employment in areas that are affected and to introduce, if necessary, legislation so as to minimise and to provide adequate notice, not less than a month, in respect of redundancies. We have recommended that there should be, as a matter of urgency, discussions between the Government and the trade unions and the employers.

At this juncture I want to ask what has happened to the NIEC. That body has been dormant because of disputes and dissensions. Because of the attempt by the Government some years ago to nominate hand-picked representatives of the farming organisations it failed to get off the ground. The time has now come to revive the NIEC on a properly representative basis or to establish a new body with comparable responsibility representing adequately and with authority to speak and act for industry, for the trade unions and for agriculture. In conjunction with a body of that sort discussions must be held with a view to recognising the weaknesses in the economy and taking the necessary steps to deal with them.

The result of the stop-go policies has been that there is uncertainty and confusion. Why does it get to the stage in which the unemployment register is swollen? Why does it get to the stage when local authorities cannot get sanction for housing schemes? Why does it get to the stage when school managers, religious orders and other bodies cannot get sanction for schools? Why does the crisis have to be reached or near crisis conditions before the Government is jerked into action? That is bad economically; it is bad socially, and it is bad no matter what angle it is approached from.

This capital programme of building and construction is not a thing that can be turned on overnight. You cannot suddenly build schools, build houses, build hospitals or complete or develop extensions to them on a few hours' notice or a week's or a month's notice. If these plans were properly co-ordinated, if it was known in advance where the likely slack would occur, where it was obvious that housing schemes were being completed, and that within a measurable distance of time work would cease then it would be possible for those concerned or those directly affected, either the local authorities in the case of housing or the Federation of Builders, to discuss with the appropriate Departments when work was likely to cease in particular schemes and when it would be ready to proceed in other schemes.

Look at the situation in the schools. There is nothing but chaos and confusion about what will happen. Nobody knows whether they are to be community schools, comprehensive schools, vocational schools. Sanction cannot be given for them because nobody knows what will happen. In my constituency of Dún Laoghaire/ Rathdown the people concerned want to go ahead with plans for primary schools, secondary schools, vocational schools, both in regard to new schools and extensions, and in nearly every case they are held up because the Department have not made up their minds whether they will have a community school here, a comprehensive school there, or what numbers are involved. That is an intolerable situation which is imposing an unfair burden on those responsible for the schools and on parents and pupils. This must be resolved and resolved quickly.

Everybody knows there has been a go slow on sanction from the Department of Local Government. Plans go up, come back, are re-examined and re-submitted. That has been the continual pattern not in the past few months but during the past few years. There has been an intolerable delay in getting sanction for building in relation to houses. The same is true in relation to hospitals. Nobody knows what the policy is in regard to new hospitals. Nobody knows anything about what their grading will be or what their status will be.

No politician is preventing these decisions. No member of the Opposition parties is involved in frustrating these decisions. This must be a matter for Government decision. Perhaps it is that the Minister for Health cannot make up his mind because of the mistaken decision to establish regional health authorities which are now incubi of bureaucrats and semi-bureaucrats, people remote from contact with the people, who cannot make up their minds either among themselves or in regard to medical authorities about where hospitals are to be located and the numbers they are to cater for.

That is an intolerable situation and it has arisen not because of any criticism from this side of the House or from any groups but from the absolute incompetence of the Government to make up their minds. This has caused immense problems for the people concerned, this failure to take a decision one way or another. The late Seán Lemass, either in Government or in Opposition, always preached that any decision is better than no decision, but he has left behind him a team who cannot decide anything on any matter, great or small, except to keep one eye on a colleague and the other on the electorate. We have a pitiful pedestrian team of incompetents unable to discharge the duties for which they were elected. That is a fact that no amount of talk or statistics can camouflage or hide.

Look at the Department of Finance. We are told there will be a go ahead in regard to schemes of development. We all know there are hundreds of workers, retired State employees, the people who retired a month ago, six months ago or nine months ago, who are still waiting for their pensions or gratuities. There is not a Deputy who has not been approached by those people and the volume of correspondence from the Department of Finance that goes to and fro is an example of the dead hand of that Department in regard to the weakest section of the community. I know of cases from the Board of Works in Dún Laoghaire. Everybody else knows retired State employees, whether from the Post Office, the Board of Works or elsewhere, who have had to wait for months to get a decision in regard to a gratuity or pension.

The facts in relation to these men should have been known: one does not need a computer to assess what they are entitled to, the amount of gratuity they are entitled to get when they retire. It is possible that, because of illness or delay in ascertaining their service, there would be some delay in ascertaining the full amounts; but surely a decision could be taken to pay them a certain amount now and the balance later. If the Government are unable to come to a decision in regard to these small things what can we expect from them in regard to major matters?

There is no section of the community who have been affected more by the rise in the cost of living than pensioners and others on fixed incomes. They have been put to the wall in the last few years. I want to reemphasise that in the last three years the increase in consumer prices here was substantially higher than in any other European country with which we have trading relations. In the three years it went up here by 29 per cent, substantially higher than in any other country. That is a phenomenal increase from the point of view of people with fixed incomes.

We have discussed this not only on the annual Estimates but in Budget debates when the usual annual increases are given to pensioners. We know that the giving of these increases always has been postponed for six months and sometimes nine months. We know that the increases given have applied only to certain categories. I now urge immediate action to deal with pensions of State employees, ex-Army personnel, exgardaí, ex-civil servants, retired employees of the Board of Works and the Post Office, whose pensions were fixed when wages, salaries and the cost of living were lower. Army pensions were fixed many years ago and many of them have not qualified under changes made and increases given in recent times.

I want the Government to further consider getting an arrangement in which the changes in salaries and wages will be operated to give a larger increase to pensioners and lower paid workers and a smaller one to those whose incomes are higher. I appreciate that this will require time and would undoubtedly meet with certain difficulties, but I am convinced it would be in line with the generally accepted aims of social justice that those worst off would have their situation taken into account.

I want to repeat that it is essential there should be a conference between all interested parties. By all interested parties I do not mean politicians. I mean the Government, the trade unions and the employers. The purpose of the discussions would be to work out arrangements. We are all involved in this because it goes to the heart of the problem of arranging not only wage and salary adjustments but the entire income situation during the next 12 to 18 months.

Recently we had a lengthy conference on a number of aspects of the economic situation. It was attended by people who are not, as we are, directly concerned in politics. A number of sober facts were produced at that conference by people who had examined the matter, people who were not speaking as politicians. Some of them were neither businessmen nor trade unionists. They had no particular viewpoint to express in the sense of representing one section or the other. They adverted to the fact that salaries and wages here had risen in 1970 by 13 per cent and the profits in rents had gone up by 9 per cent and the conclusion that the reader of this paper came to was that if we continued to take more out of the economy than we were putting into it the problem that was created would be created for everybody. It was not a problem for one section or the other. The reader of the paper took both sides and the fact that one section got more than the other was not the real point. The real point concerned both sides.

When we examine further the speech made by Mr. Carroll, a former Governor of the Bank of Ireland, we see that he referred to the same problem and said what we have repeatedly said and what is now being reinforced by the facts not only of the bacon industry but of many others. Mr. Carroll said that it is obvious that profit must be made after wages and salaries are paid and enough profit must be made and enough money left in the business to re-equip and modernise. It is obvious that the decisions taken by the Government were not correct.

A policy was adopted 12 months ago and was reversed within a year. There was lack of thought behind that policy. It increased company taxation here to a level higher than in Britain. It also made such tax retrospective. Firms that had closed their accounts had to reopen them. Firms which had already entered into commitments and were in difficulties with regard to the cash to meet them had to go back over their accounts, reopen them and take money that would have been available for re-equipment, readaptation and modernisation and pay it to the State. The decision to make the tax retrospective was unique not merely in this country but in any of the countries with which we trade on a large basis. The decision was reversed within a year. Steps were taken to go the other way. This problem goes to the root of the present situation in respect of many industries.

One of the difficulties in referring to this situation is that nobody wants to make it any worse. If industries are mentioned we mention them generally rather than mention specific units. The textile industry is another case in point. Readaptation and re-equipment are positively and inevitably necessary. The relocation of workers and factories will be required if that industry is not merely to preserve employment but in some cases even to continue in existence. These decisions should not have been postponed. There was no justification for postponing them. The CIO investigation showed years ago that the problem would arise and was arising. Failure to take decisions has now precipitated a crisis in respect of employment and workers.

We have advocated public expenditure in the knowledge that expenditure of a public character is paid for by money raised from the people. Such money does not come from Ministers' or Deputies' pockets, except as ordinary taxpayers. Because public money is raised from the people it should be spent wisely and not wasted. Decisions should be taken in the light of the best opinion available.

I emphasise the absolute confusion that exists in respect of schools and hospitals. At a number of points in each constituency there is confusion over the schools situation. In every health authority there is lack of decision. There has been failure to take decisions in respect of the hospitals. This is responsible for wasteful expenditure because a number of schools are proceeding with plans and wish to implement them. In some cases they are going ahead under their own auspices while waiting for a decision on policy from the Department of Education.

We have advocated a number of other changes in respect of specific details. We have proposed that there should be a review of the redundancy situation. The Government surely know what will happen about the meat subsidy in the light of possible EEC membership. The subsidy arrangements require to be reviewed as a matter of urgency. If we go into the Common Market a great deal of the present problem will disappear. There is a strong case for anticipating that situation and taking remedial action. It is tragic that meat factories are laying off staff when the industry is likely to expand. If there is one factor which emerges more than another from the economic statistics of recent times it is the unprecedented demand for livestock. Prices are rising and reaching heights which are causing concern to those in the trade as well as those outside it. There is an obvious need for an urgent investigation in order to evolve a system which would prevent the laying off for what must be a temporary period of workers. The workers must be tided over the immediate future. Arrangements should be made for action to be taken so that when the trade develops in the changed circumstances it will be in a position to meet it.

The other major action which should be taken concerns the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement. There is no doubt that we are entitled to take action. Such action should be taken vigorously and assertively. A few years ago the British were quick enough, in breach of the agreement, to impose a levy. They imposed a special import deposit levy on goods from abroad going into Britain. We should not wait until workers are being laid off, and until they are suffering uncertainty and anguish, before taking action.

The announcement made a few weeks ago by the Minister for Industry and Commerce came far too late. It was another example of how slow the Government were in reacting. This particular aspect was mentioned in the course of the speech made earlier this week by Mr. Carroll to the Confederation of Irish Industries. He said :

For years past there appears to have been little in the way of a strategic plan for the economy; all the evidence suggests that political considerations were in the ascendant and that the time scale of thought in Government circles related to the old adage that a month is a lifetime in politics. So much Government action appears to have been a grudging response to events rather than a firm, clear intent to pursue a broad consistent strategy towards some defined objective.

That criticism pinpoints the failure of the Government, in the light of the information available and in the light of the CIO investigations, to take action. Certainly action should have been taken immediately the situation showed signs of deterioration. Our priorities in this matter should be made absolutely clear in any discussions with the British Government.

In regard to developing the economy, we have advocated that bank interest rates should be reduced. They are now higher here than in Britain. All industries, but particularly the construction industry and industries that wish to expand or are involved in capital development of one sort or another, find that the present high interest rates are a deterrent, that they are a limiting or inhibiting factor.

We also advocated—and it is my view that it is a sound national policy —the strengthening of the Army and the Garda. We have advocated that for years but not as a means of solving the employment problem. There is a case on its own for increasing the strength of the Army and the Garda. This time two years ago in my own constituency and later in this House I advocated a massive increase in the number of Garda, that it was essential for the protection of the public and for the effective and efficient carrying out of their duties.

The same applies in respect of the Army. This State owes a great deal to the Army and the Garda. They should be properly paid, and it is ludicrous to suggest that persons who are going to be recruited into the Army and the Garda are suddenly going to be clothed because they have not been clothed before, as was suggested by the Taoiseach yesterday. They would obviously require uniforms.

The other requirement is the stepping up of State investment. This does not merely apply to housing, to schools and to hospitals. There are many schemes for drainage, for afforestation, for land reclamation, for local authority works schemes, schemes that were abandoned, schemes that were rejected. These schemes provided, particularly in the off season, work in rural areas, drainage work ancillary to arterial drainage. They did a whole lot of work on schemes ancillary to land reclamation and on ordinary farm drainage schemes. These schemes should be re-examined and, with the co-operation of the Office of Public Works, the Department of Lands or the Department of Agriculture, work initiated on them.

We also believe that the decision to increase company taxation should be reversed quickly and notice should be given in advance that it is proposed to reverse it. We should achieve a position here in which our tax structure is at least as favourable as it is in Britain. We have many disadvantages because of the size of our market, because of structural problems of one character or another, that make it much more difficult for industries here to compete with industries in Britain or on the Continent. The fact that there was no justification for this decision is reinforced now by the evidence of workers being laid off in a variety of industries and by the problems that have been created for industry. As has been said here, it is necessary to put money back into industries to enable them to re-equip and modernise themselves. We could take three major cases at the moment: the milling industry, to which Deputy Tully referred, the bacon industry, and the textile industry. In all of these cases, not in every factory, not in every town or district but in the industry as a whole, there is a need for re-equipment and modernisation. Unless adequate profits can be earned and are permitted to be earned, the proprietors of these businesses will not have the wherewithal to modernise.

In this connection, I believe the trade union and employers' organisations have a duty and an obligation to get together. There is no conflict of interest here. As a number of speakers have said, it does not matter whether we operate an extreme leftist communist society or an extreme rightist capitalist society; whatever system is operated wealth must be created before it can be distributed. Yesterday I got replies to statistical questions which indicated where our trading interests are, which indicated the magnitude of the problem we have. What cannot be emphasised too strongly or too clearly is that specific measures must be implemented in order to reverse the present weekly rise in unemployment. As long as some action has not been taken which can be taken and which should be taken to put people back to work, then the Government are failing in the discharge of their duty.

Another consideration I want to emphasise is that no one owes us a living or will provide it for us, that we shall have to earn it. The realities of the trading world are that it is a competitive world in which the rewards go to the energetic and enterprising who show skill and initiative. There is no simple solution, but the worst state of all would be to do nothing about it; the worst state of all would be to get into the position this Government is in, impotent to act until, as was said so often, events are upon us.

Any Government on top of the job, any Government having available as much assistance as this Government have had, the reports of a variety of bodies, having the co-operation and goodwill of everyone interested in the welfare of the country and whose only limiting factor is their own inability to work together——

Mr. J. Lenehan

Shut up.

——and evolve a plan that will be effective and purposeful——


The Deputy may not refer to any Member of the House in such terms. The Deputy will withdraw that phrase.

Mr. J. Lenehan

I asked: "What did you do?" Nothing.

The Deputy will withdraw that phrase.

Mr. J. Lenehan

What was it?

The Deputy does not want me to repeat it. He knows quite well what it was.

Mr. J. Lenehan

If you mention the phrase I will withdraw it.

The Deputy used a derogatory phrase.

Mr. J. Lenehan

I do not know what the phrase was.

The Deputy referred to a Deputy of this House as an idiot. The Deputy will withdraw that phrase. If the Deputy does not withdraw it the Chair will ask him to leave the House. Is the Deputy withdrawing it?

Mr. J. Lenehan

I suppose I will.

There is no supposing. The Chair insists.

Mr. J. Lenehan

I suppose I will. I will.

As I was saying, there is no easy solution to this problem, but the worst attitude of all would be to do nothing and hope that something will turn up and that things will improve in Britain. The economic indices and the forecasts of changes in Britain are more optimistic than they have been for some time. That does not mean that our problems will be solved by them. It may make the economic climate easier and the going more progressive, but what is now required is action, positive and progressive, designed to provide sound, realistic schemes for steady economic development, schemes that will result in action being taken to expand the public works programme; to discuss, as I have said, with the employers and trade unions concerned the prospects for the next 18 months; to discuss, in conjunction with the interests concerned, a plan that will prevent the continuous recurrence of stop-go policies, the salient feature of the last two years. It is interesting to note that the one over-riding, consistent theme which emerged from the discussion with the Confederation of Irish Industry was that the present problems have arisen in the last two years. Possibly some symptoms emerged at the end of 1969 but the bulk of them were prevalent in 1970 and 1971.

During that period—I have avoided making any criticism or suggestion about the Government—we know the situation which existed. We know the Government have been preoccupied with internal problems and the lack of effective, purposeful leadership is obvious in the present serious economic situation in which we have a steep rise in the cost of living, a steep rise in unemployment, in which there is uncertainty, a lack of confidence and a lack of a common economic plan.

Reference was made to the production of the first economic plan which arose out of the decision of my colleagues and myself to establish the capital, advisory and other committees. The result of their deliberations was the basis for the first plan which was produced. Since then nothing has happened. The present situation, the continuance of stop-go policies, is neither in the interests of one section of the community nor another. Even at this stage the Government should take the necessary measures. There is ample co-operation from every side of the House, from employers and from trade unions. The need is for leadership. If the Government cannot give it let them make way for those who will.

I should like to refer to some factors which in the long term, anyhow, would be calculated to improve the general situation. I do this for the purpose of answering those who said, which of course they do not for a moment believe, that the Government were simply doing nothing. It is a very simple phrase, very easy to express. If there is a bit of adversity around it is always good to blame it on the Government.

The situation regarding the unemployment register is that we have 77,891 unemployed this afternoon, which is an increase of 90 compared with 351 for the corresponding week of last year. This is the situation in which we have devoted two days to discuss, ostensibly, what should be done or how grave the situation is. I was naturally most interested in the debate and I listened carefully to all the speakers. While all of them started off by saying it was not an occasion for playing politics, the main purpose of all Opposition speeches was to point out that the Government were doing nothing, that the leadership was wrong, that we had two great leaders in the past in the persons of Mr. de Valera and Mr. Lemass and that we have not such leadership any more. I do not intend to pursue that theme but I was in the House during the periods when those men held the office of Taoiseach and I listened to debates during that time. They were of the same type we had here today and yesterday. I did not hear one single word of praise from people who poured filth and scorn on the same two leaders on every occasion they could. What was not said about them was not worth saying. When you are dead it is a different thing. People, in order to try to denigrate the efforts of somebody, compare him with those whom they know are gone.

Only one of them is dead.

Both are gone from here. The Taoiseach announced a number of measures that will be taken in the short term to alleviate the position regarding the rise in the figure for unemployed which is greater than the rise has been for some time. However, this seasonal increase was at all times, and should have been at all times, a cause for serious concern. If we look at the figures for various years we find that in springtime the figures rose to their highest and around June they were down to their lowest figure. We find quite a number of years worse than the one we are now discussing.

I do not intend to pursue that theme either. Deputy Corish anticipated me when he was speaking. We set out to compile figures for unemployed in 1933, when the Unemployment Assistance Acts were brought in, and for the first time tabs were put on unemployed people, people who expressed themselves as being available for employment and who were unable to obtain it. The figure at that stage, shortly after Fianna Fáil took office, was a colossal one.

What was it?

It was 133,000.

What was the percentage?

Of the work force at the time it was a much higher percentage than it is now.

It was 5 per cent of the work force and it is now 10 per cent.

It was 5 per cent of a practically non-existent work force. The work force at present is 1,134,000. This is the last official figure issued by the Statistics Office, for April, 1970. The employed are in the following categories: mining, quarries, turf, 10,000; building and construction, 74,000; electricity, gas and water, 13,000; commerce, insurance and finance, 172,000; transport, communications, 60,000; other non-agricultural activities, 169,000—those not mentioned in the categories already given; total, other domestic, 555,000; manufacturing industries, 220,000; agriculture, forestry, fishing, 291,000; total: 1,066,000.

Is there not a monthly figure which could be added to or subtracted from that figure?

The figure of unemployed at that time was 68,000 which is a serious one at any time. We are all supposed to be striving to reach the stage of full employment. Deputy Cosgrave spoke for a long time about everybody getting together and working out a plan for what should be done and could be done at this time. Surely to goodness neither he nor any other Member of this House believes that that was not done 100 times in this country.

I have in my hand the 18th report of the NIEC on full employment. The NIEC was constituted by men fully competent and capable of examining the situation. There were members from the top echelon of the Congress of Trade Unions, from the FUE, from State bodies. There were also Government appointees. They did an excellent job. They laid down in black and white the essential concomitants to full employment and they mapped out the course we should follow. They did not come up with any instant solution. I think Deputy Cosgrave read one paragraph from the report that he did not really mean to. At page 110 of the report the views of the NIEC are summed up:

In our view, there is no recipe for reaching full employment easily, quickly and painlessly. The other major objectives of economic policy must be related to the achievement of full employment, and the full employment perspective in Section III shows in broad terms what could happen if this were done. The main characteristics of the perspective are a continuing increase in the numbers employed at rising standards of living, soundly based on a price and cost structure which is competitive, and with the economy increasingly capable of maintaining full employment and sustaining the expansion of output from its own resources. If all these things are to be achieved, there must be substantial annual increases in output per worker, in the productivity of investment, in savings and exports, and probably in the net capital inflow—and these, in their turn, will be difficult, and will take time, to achieve.

Later, at paragraph 151, they point out:

If sectional interests are not to be pressed to the point where national loss outweighs sectional gain, there must be a deeper sense of personal and corporate responsibility... Full employment will not be achieved without a fuller sense of social interdependence and national identity... In the past a coherent sense of national purpose has developed only rarely, and then only for short periods and under stress of adversity.

A coherent sense of national purpose— was it, I wonder, a coherent sense of national purpose which dictated the debate that has taken place here over the last two days or was that merely an attempt to label the Government with responsibility for the situation? These people on the NIEC knew as much about how to tackle the economy as anybody else. They were the leaders of trade unionism, leading employers, personnel from State-sponsored bodies and Government appointees and they pointed out that there is no immediate solution and full employment can be achieved only by the co-operation of all concerned—the workers, the employers and the Government.

We have a system of free collective bargaining in our wages and incomes structure. That has been held out as an ideal system and we have been careful in the Government not to interfere unless interference is absolutely necessary. We have made institutions available to process difficulties and arrive at an amicable solution. The system has been worked. How it has worked is another question. After the last war we started what are called "rounds". We had the first, the second and the third round and then we began to wonder in which round we would be knocked out.

Does the Minister mean the Government started?

We, the people. We adopted a system of rounds.

After a Standstill Order.

Yes. We had the seventh, the eighth, the ninth and the tenth rounds. We were talking in terms of 10s then and eventually we got to £1.

Five shillings for road-workers and Mr. MacEntee took 6s off them.

I listened patiently to the Deputies. These later increases were pretty heavy at a time when the economy was not as buoyant as it was afterwards when we injected more money into industry. Up to the eighth and ninth rounds the increases granted were more than absorbed by increased output and by increased production.

That was the 12 per cent recommended by Seán Lemass.


At the beginning of the last decade, when the economy really began to move, demands began to increase. Each time the demand was for more and more. People like Mr. Don Carroll generalise; he talked in a general way but he did not suggest any remedy. In fact, the employers were not too helpful in many cases and, as the demands became bigger and bigger, the large firms settled with comparative ease because they had the market power; they could sell anyhow. Many of them had protected markets. The smaller firms had to follow suit though they could not afford the increases. Time and again we pointed out that these increases, not justified by increased output, could not go on for ever. One did not need to be an expert economist to know that. One needed to know only the rudiments of economics to realise that this kind of thing could not continue. Sometimes when I reminded people of that across the table I was accused of crying "Wolf" and I was told that the wolf had never come. My reply was that it would be too late when he did come. Indeed, many people issued serious warnings. Even the Congress of Trade Unions issued warnings. They had Professor Fogarty to address them at Dún Laoghaire in March, 1970 on a prices policy. He pointed out in unmistakable language that unless wages and incomes were restrained and kept in a proper relationship to productivity prices could not be curbed.

But machines and management determine productivity now.

I am trying to explain to those people who have been saying that the Government are doing nothing and were not seeking advice that we had an overdose of expert advice from all the top economists of the country. Even in that report on full employment, one of the signatories was Garret FitzGerald.

What is wrong with that? That was five years ago.

He signed it five years ago and nothing was done about it.


The Minister without interruptions.

Do not be worried about it. That report makes it perfectly clear, when Deputy O'Higgins says we did nothing about it, that it is mainly addressed to the people responsible for fixing wages and incomes by free collective bargaining.

Five years ago Dáil Éireann unanimously adopted a resolution from these benches——

That was given as a criterion to those in a position to deal with it. It was not the Government's job to force that down anybody's throat.

The Government have nothing to do with it; blame somebody else.

Absolutely nothing. I could quote from some of the Opposition statements in the House at the time when the Government brought in legislation to fix the amount of increase that was to be accepted that year. I know what they said then.

Is it the Minister's case that the trade union movement is responsible for the present number of unemployed?

Yes, the workers are responsible.

Those interrupting had their opportunity and made very little of it. They will listen now. I was tracing the history of the different rounds and the advice we got in regard to them. The advice of many people, including the Central Bank, the NIEC, the Government itself, the Economic and Social Research Institute, was available to all people at all times in regard to what should happen and very little heed was paid to it. We finally reached the stage when demands were so much out of line with anticipated production—I want to say this in relation to the First, Second and Third Programmes—

For God's sake, do not mention that.

It is all very well to make a horse laugh out of the Third Programme

You scrapped it long ago.

The Minister must be allowed to speak without interruption.

You must have a programme; you must have targets and objectives. Every single programme points out, if anybody bothered to read it, that it was subject to reasonable restraint being exercised in the matter of incomes. The last programme makes it perfectly clear on either the front or the second page that inflationary tendencies could push it completely off course. It is not claimed for any programme that it is a target that will be directly hit. It is a plan containing realisable objectives which we justifiably set ourselves and without which no Government can work and without which it would be impossible to have a strategy by which to operate Government policy. That is what the programme states.

I was dealing with the trend in increases and wage rounds. We finally reached the stage where there were rumblings about an increase of £20 per week in the papers which appeared one day with headings to that effect. At that time, the management-labour conference were brought together and an effort made to get them to find a realistic figure which would not throw the economy completely out of line. They worked hard for some weeks and had many sittings but were unable to come up with an acceptable figure. At that stage the Government decided that there must be legislation.

Legislation came before this House and was being processed. We know the assistance we got from the Fine Gael benches which were saying: "What have the Government done about the Report on Full Employment? What have they done by way of getting advice?" We got no co-operation then from anybody on that side of the House. While the legislation was going through we had several approaches from the ICTU to withdraw the legislation——

Or else.

They did not. I want to say something about the withdrawal of that legislation because it has been used in different ways in this House. The Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance and I, met ICTU at least twice and they explained to us that it would be much better to have an agreement freely entered into and they would undertake to ensure it went through. One thing they said was: "Do not worry that it will be said that you are showing weakness in withdrawing that legislation." We were not back a week in the House when it was being thrown at us across the House that this was the sign of a weak government——

And correctly so. You ran away from it.


The Minister, without interruptions.

Look at Deputy Haughey up there—what did he say?

The Minister is entitled to be heard without interruption.

What did Deputy Ryan say?

I have only a limited time in which to speak. I allowed everybody who was speaking to do so without interruption.

Fair enough.

The Opposition made an effort and a damn bad one. They should not now try to cash in on my time. I remember when Deputy Dillon and other speakers on the benches opposite accused us of being an over-strong Government equivalent to a dictatorship. De Valera was a dictator, it was said, and it was the sign of a bad Government when it could not change a decision and listen to public appeals. That was the worst possible sign of a dictatorship. Now, it comes to a Government that listens to what the ICTU had to say. We told them to go back and discuss the matter at management-labour level again and if they could produce an acceptable figure and see it through as a national wage agreement, we would withdraw the legislation in toto. I was very much in favour of withdrawing it completely lest it would be said that having any vestige of it hanging over their heads would encourage somebody to break the line and say they were not free to negotiate.

We withdrew it completely. That was the first real effort that I remember to restore some sanity to the economic situation in regard to wage rounds since 1955. This was a real gettogether effort as we would have wished it to be. Remember that the amount agreed to was much more than the Government would wish it to be at that time because, as we pointed out, it had an inflationary element already in it. We also agreed that the previous wage round had not fully worked itself into the economy and that price increases must occur during the year. There was a clause written into the agreement to make provision for an automatic increase when the index went over a certain number of points.

It was an inflationary amount but it was worth going for because it represented the first major effort on behalf of the people concerned to have a national wage agreement. It must be said that all the parties to the agreement have made a serious effort to hold the line. I should like to say that, while it was not as low as would be necessary in order to curb inflation, it was an important step in the right direction.

There are people in this country, sections of the white collar workers not affiliated to Congress, who think they are above and beyond national agreements and that such agreements should not apply to them. The time has come when everyone, particularly those in responsible positions, must realise that a national agreement applies to everyone irrespective of whether they are affiliated to Congress. If this kind of agreement had been entered into years ago, if everyone had foreseen the gravity of the situation, we would not be discussing 70,000 or 80,000 unemployed.

Nobody got 10 per cent who was not included in the agreement?

I am not an economist but I have had occasion to listen to and read enough about them. Nobody has been able to point out to me how any country with a progressive economy can avoid the stop-go situation. If we had listened to reason in the past, in the years when things were going well, if people had not rushed into try to get too large a slice of the national cake, if we had allowed reason to influence our decisions, we would not be in this position now. If adversity will tend to bring about a situation in which we will listen to reason, the debate we have had in the last two days will have done some good.

There was talk about the damage done by the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement. All speakers admitted that the industry most affected was the textile industry——

And footwear.

If the deterioration in the textile industry is due to the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement, can Deputies explain why some of the biggest textile mills in England have closed in the last two years? Surely the serious textile recession in England was not caused by the agreement with Ireland? No matter how much political capital people try to make out of it, no matter how much we would like to minimise the situation, a good deal of what has happened was completely unavoidable so long as we are a country depending on exports. The best thing we can do is to use our common sense in order to cushion ourselves against these inevitable recessions that will occur from time to time.

Can the Minister state the reason for the recession in the textile industry in this country?

The same reason that was the cause of the recession in England and the United States. The shelves are full but the purchasing power is not there——

What about company profits tax?

The Minister should be allowed to make his speech without interruptions.

I should like to mention company profits tax——

May I ask the Minister a question?

The Minister wishes to make his own reply without interruptions.

Company profits tax is being blamed for everything——


I have said that the Minister must be allowed to make his speech without interruptions.

I asked if I might put a question to the Minister.

I was dealing with the 58 per cent company profits tax——

Can the Minister explain why the imports in textiles are fivefold since the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement?

The imports in textiles are not fivefold. The import of clothing might have been up. We put a duty on garments. Clothing and textiles are listed separately. The Deputy is speaking about a different matter when he refers to garments. I was asked about the 58 per cent company profits tax. We took off the tax to make it easier but it was not the cause of the trouble, no matter what Mr. Grey or anyone else may say. I discussed this matter with some of the best industrialists in the country. It was a tax on profits——

Retrospective profits.

If the profits were reinvested the tax would not apply. It is as simple as that. It was a good tax from that point of view and one that was calculated to obviate the increase in unemployment rather than to create it. It was an incentive or a measure to goad industry to reinvest the profits in industry. For that reason the present situation is not attributable to it. At the same time a measure allowing for an improved appreciation which more than offset the effects of the 58 per cent company tax was introduced.

I thought Deputy Cosgrave was rather subtle when he referred to the meat industry. This is a serious and difficult problem. I had to sit down with the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and listen to decent people who have lost or are about to lose their jobs in the meat processing industry. I listened in this debate to see who would come up with some panacea or remedy——

That is the Minister's job.

Deputy Cosgrave referred to this matter. He spoke about the complexity and the need for finding a solution but he made no attempt whatever to suggest what might be done.

What about using some of the subsidies fixed this year?

The subsidies are available if prices drop below a certain figure. However, in the last year prices have not dropped below that figure and the subsidies came into play only for a few weeks. Prices for cattle on the hoof have reached an all-time high. In addition, they were not very plentiful on the market because there was good winter grass. If we give the meat processing people a subsidy it will put them into competition with export buyers, who will merely put their price up and still buy cattle on the hoof. In Deputy Cosgrave's speech there was a rather veiled suggestion that cattle prices should be fixed. That is something nobody in this House would attempt.

It was never suggested from this side of the House. That is typical.

I would ask Deputies to have a look at the record. I was straining to hear a solution to this problem because we want one.

That is the Government's job.

If he suggested anything at all he implied that something should be evolved because people were complaining that cattle were too dear and the thing would be to fix the price. That is not the solution. I am not saying he said that, but he rather implied it. These are some of the difficulties. I should like to say to those people who are blandly accusing the Government about what they did or did not do regarding the meat processing industry, that we virtually made the meat processing industry in the past few years.

You certainly did not.

We put them really into business and they are the first who will admit that. They have had the bonanza and it will be a pity if it does not continue because it gives employment rather than walking cattle off on the hoof. It has been said by virtually every speaker, perhaps without any conviction or perhaps without giving serious thought to it, that the Government are doing nothing.


In the Department of Labour we have been making this serious effort to organise our manpower services in a way that would spell efficiency from the start by concentrating on getting the best personnel and doing as good a job as possible.

You proved it.

As Deputies know, we have appointed some regional directors and a number of placement officers. Any Deputy who has come in touch with them will admit that they are doing a good job and that they know their job.

To create more unemployment.

They have placed quite a few people in employment in their short time in existence.

The Minister must be allowed to speak.

When redundancies are pending we get advance notice. We actually pay to get advance notice. The refund and the lump-sum are more generous if notice of more than the statutory two weeks is given. We then send in some members of our manpower service to discuss redundancies before they occur, and any training that is required. We have AnCO schools in Galway, Waterford and Shannon providing places for a yearly turnover of about 1,200 students.

They are only kindergartens.

There is one due to open in Ballyfermot which will have 400 places on a six months basis. This will be a turnover of 800 a year. It will be opened next month, I hope. We have one in Cork with some 130 places, and there is one due to open in the Gaeltacht in Donegal in a few months.

In addition we are providing a mobile training service. The first mobile classes will be established in Tralee, Athlone and Ballina. This is a very interesting experiment because it is by way of being an itinerant service which can be despatched to any area to do a specific job. It is a particularly useful type of service. I am not merely repeating this because it is well known to the House already, but I want to put it on record as against the rash statements made that we were not bothering about the overall long-term situation. We are very much concerned and we are becoming very well organised progressively to deal with the long-term situation.

Live horse.

Deputy Corish anticipated me at the start. I do not want to hark back but it is only natural that we should take some guidance from past events. I have said this often before. In the present situation a number of things have contributed to the increase in the unemployment figure, things which the Coalition Government did not have to deal with in their time. We have no emigration at present.

Is that not disgraceful?

In ordinary circumstances, as the Taoiseach said yesterday, we would say: "Thank God." At least this is realistic. We are not boasting about it. It is a simple fact which the Opposition cannot contradict. The Coalition Government had no redundancy to deal with when they ran into serious trouble. I am referring to February, 1957, when 95,000 were unemployed and sweet damn all was done about it. Nobody mentioned it as a crisis or a problem. There were 50,000 people going abroad annually at the same time. They did not have to deal with redundancies because they had no industries from which they could become redundant. Now they come into this House with the cheek to attack the Government which built up industry and created thousands of new jobs since then.

There are fewer people at work now than there were in 1964.

They now have the audacity to say the Government are doing nothing about it.

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 67; Níl, 62.

  • Allen, Lorcan.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Barrett, Sylvester.
  • Boylan, Terence.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Brennan, Paudge.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Brosnan, Seán.
  • Browne, Patrick.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Burke, Patrick J.
  • Carter, Frank.
  • Carty, Michael.
  • Childers, Erskine.
  • Colley, George.
  • Collins, Gerard.
  • Connolly, Gerard C.
  • Cowen, Bernard.
  • Cronin, Jerry.
  • Crowley, Flor.
  • Cunningham, Liam.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • Delap, Patrick.
  • de Valera, Vivion.
  • Dowling, Joe.
  • Fahey, Jackie.
  • Faulkner, Pádraig.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom (Dublin Central).
  • Flanagan, Seán.
  • Foley, Desmond.
  • Power, Patrick.
  • Sheridan, Joseph.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Forde, Paddy.
  • French, Seán.
  • Geoghegan, John.
  • Gibbons, Hugh.
  • Gibbons, James.
  • Gogan, Richard P.
  • Haughey, Charles.
  • Healy, Augustine A.
  • Herbert, Michael.
  • Hillery, Patrick J.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Hussey, Thomas.
  • Kitt, Michael F.
  • Lalor, Patrick J.
  • Lemass, Noel T.
  • Lenehan, Joseph.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Loughnane, William A.
  • Lynch, Celia.
  • Lynch, John.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacSharry, Ray.
  • Meaney, Thomas.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Moran, Michael.
  • Nolan, Thomas.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connor, Timothy.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • Timmons, Eugene.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Wyse, Pearse.


  • Barry, Richard.
  • Begley, Michael.
  • Belton, Luke.
  • Browne, Noel.
  • Bruton, John.
  • Burke, Joan.
  • Burke, Liam.
  • Burke, Richard.
  • Burton, Philip.
  • Byrne, Hugh.
  • Clinton, Mark A.
  • Collins, Edward.
  • Conlan, John F.
  • Coogan, Fintan.
  • Cooney, Patrick M.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Cott, Gerard.
  • Coughlan, Stephen.
  • Creed, Donal.
  • Crotty, Kieran.
  • Cruise-O'Brien, Conor.
  • Desmond, Barry.
  • Dockrell, Henry P.
  • Dockrell, Maurice E.
  • Donegan, Patrick S.
  • Donnellan, John.
  • Dunne, Thomas.
  • Enright, Thomas W.
  • Esmonde, Sir Anthony C.
  • Finn, Martin.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom (Cavan).
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Fox, Billy.
  • Harte, Patrick D.
  • Hogan, Patrick.
  • Hogan O'Higgins, Brigid.
  • Jones, Denis F.
  • Kavanagh, Liam.
  • Keating, Justin.
  • Kenny, Henry.
  • L'Estrange, Gerald.
  • Lynch, Gerard.
  • McLaughlin, Joseph.
  • McMahon, Lawrence.
  • Malone, Patrick.
  • Murphy, Michael P.
  • O'Connell, John F.
  • O'Donnell, Tom.
  • O'Donovan, John.
  • O'Hara, Thomas.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas F.
  • O'Leary, Michael.
  • O'Reilly, Paddy.
  • O'Sullivan, John L.
  • Pattison, Séamus.
  • Spring, Dan.
  • Taylor, Francis.
  • Thornley, David.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Treacy, Seán.
  • Tully, James.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Andrews and Meaney; Níl, Deputies R. Burke and Kavanagh.
Question declared carried.
The Dáil adjourned at 5.15 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 25th January, 1972.