Finance Bill, 1974: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Before the adjournment last night I was referring to the general economic situation of the country as I saw it. Since then I have had the opportunity of reading the comments in the daily papers. Some of these comments I find to be at some variance with the views of the Minister. The Minister in his brief said:

Since my budget statement, very useful consultations have been held with the National Economic and Social Council and with representative farming organisations regarding the considerations to be borne in mind in the taxation of farm profits.

The views of the National Economic and Social Council and of the farming organisations have been taken into account in framing the provisions in the Bill.

The Irish Press this morning quoted a member of the executive of the IFA as saying that they are far from happy with this Bill and he speaks of a militant feeling that this Bill should be scrapped and re-written. I am not suggesting that the Minister should capitulate before pressure groups. We have seen the effects of capitulation before a certain pressure group in the Six Counties. Nevertheless it seems strange that the Minister should say that the views of the farming organisations have been taken into account and that a member of their executive who, as such, must be regarded as being an informed person——

I am simply quoting fromThe Irish Press and as it is a paper of repute I accept it.

Whoever it is should identify himself.

If the Minister is interested in obtaining that information he should go along to the management board of Irish Press Limited and I am sure they will help him in his dilemma. Better still, he should enter into consultations with the IFA. In the reports in bothThe Irish Press and Irish Independent this morning it would appear they sought urgent consultations. They have been denied them with the Minister but could have them with senior officers of the Department.

They have had several consultations and they know it. All they want is that the Minister should not perform his parliamentary duty of being in the House. You cannot be in two places at the one time.

The Minister had some time this morning because the debate only commenced again at 1.45 p.m. approximately.

Perhaps if the Deputy was in the Seanad he would know where the Minister was.

It seems strange if he says that the views of the farmers have been borne in mind and then he wishes me to identify this member of the executive of the IFA. If he were interested in finding out, he could have informed consultations with the IFA and they would reveal who this person is. InThe Irish Times this morning the writer of “In the Dáil” stated that the Minister for Finance explained the absence of Government Deputies contributing to this debate as an anxiety to let the House away on holidays. We in the Fianna Fáil Party deplore such a comment being made. Is there anything more important in the Dáil than the budget debate and the debate on the Finance Bill which follows it? We accept our responsibilities in Opposition and we are making what we hope are useful contributions on this Bill.

What are the Government doing? Last night I was under the impression that they were under Whip not to contribute. I felt that, perhaps, they were not all at one with regard to the provisions in the Bill. Now I find that the Minister for Finance is quoted as saying they are not contributing because of their anxiety to go on holidays.

I said it was the Opposition's anxiety.

I am quoting from John Healy on the front page of this morning'sIrish Times who stated that the Government Deputies are not contributing in their anxiety to let the House away on holidays. The Fianna Fáil Party are anxious to contribute and to see that fair play is obtained for the people. If the people in Government wish to go on holidays, why was this Bill not introduced earlier? It is fairly shabby treatment of the people that this should be offered by way of excuse. I wonder how the media will take this? How will the ordinary man in the street feel about the spending of money collected from him in taxes when he sees that the Government Deputies do not see fit to come in and contribute to the debate on the Finance Bill because they want to go on holidays? We all want to adjourn for our holidays and we look forward to the Recess but there is very important business in the House at the moment. It is the clear duty of Government Deputies to come into this House and express their opinions on the Finance Bill.

I wish to point out what I see as omissions in this Bill. I believe representations were made by various people who were working towards the abolition of ground rents. I hoped this Bill would deal with this rather thorny problem but there is nothing about it. It is well known what Fianna Fáil policy is on ground rents.

How would it be relevant to the Finance Bill?

This is one of the things which came up in discussions which preceded the framing of the budget.

I would point out to the Deputy that this is not relevant. Would the Deputy confine himself to the provisions of the Bill?

Of course, I will but I must point out that the Fianna Fáil policy on this matter is well known. We discovered the Labour policy at local election time. Are the vested interests then within Fine Gael? I should like to comment briefly on housing.

Acting Chairman

I am afraid this does not arise either.

I will not hold up the House longer than a moment and will then move on to the sections of the Bill. This Bill must be seen in the light of the high inflation we have at the moment and the inability of people to obtain money. This is a taxation Bill and the people cannot obtain money. There is not a shortage of houses at the moment. There is a plentiful supply but the people cannot raise the necessary finance to move into them.

Section 3 deals with the structure of the new tax and section 6 deals with the increased personal allowances. These allowances have been completely eroded by inflation. As I pointed out last night, we have an inflationary figure of 20 per cent. We also see that the value of the £ from February, 1973 to March, 1974 fell by 17 pence. Personal allowances have been completely eroded by this. Before the framing of the budget negotiations were held with various organisations, such as NITRO. In the Government's effort to sell the last national wage agreement the Minister promised substantial relief. His views of substantial relief are at variance with mine. I believe what the average person would consider substantial relief is not reflected in the table in section 6 of this Bill. It seems a question of more unfilled promises.

The Minister for Labour gave one of the reasons why the national wage agreement was not being accepted at a function at which I was a guest also. It was that the majority of workers were Fianna Fáil supporters and hence they were stalling this Bill. The Minister said this at a Chamber of Commerce function in Wicklow town. The public in general, relying on the promises of substantial relief in the budget, accepted the national wage agreement. We looked forward to these promises being fulfilled but they were not.

I now want to deal with various income tax reliefs given. We see that under the Income Tax Act, 1967 the amount deducted for 1973-74 in allowances for a married man was £494. If to that we add the unearned income allowance of one quarter of that we get £618. The Minister purports to allow £800, an increase of £180 approximately. That is a miserable sum in these days. While it might be £180 on that section, in the case of a fairly average married couple with no children, who have the burden of a mortgage of approximately £6,000 at 11¼ per cent, the figure would appear to be £675. Under the old system they would have been allowed £675 at 35 pence which would allow them £236 approximately. Under the new rate they are allowed £675 at 25 pence which, in my calculation, works out at £176 approximately. If I were to balance it up to the nearest pound it would be £177 which would work out at a loss to them of £60. Again, it is trick-of-the-loop and nothing more.

It is estimated that at first glance they should obtain substantial relief, but when we get down to budgeting we find that their loss in the allowance under this heading is approximately £60. There is an overall meagre saving, perhaps, but we must deduct the new contributions by employees under the pay-related benefit scheme. This is of benefit to some employees which is a good thing, but we must bear it in mind as an added stoppage from the employee's wage packet. When that is taken into account, does it show a favourable or an unfavourable balance?

The dependent relative's allowance is raised in this section from £60 to £80. Let us try to adjust this figure of £80 in real value terms. With inflation at 20 per cent and the £ having dropped 17 pence this brings the figure down to £53 which is much less than the value of £60 last year. This shows a net loss over all. I am sure this calculation could be carried out on each of the substitutions. I am sure we would work out an interesting calculation of the substitution of £409 for £347. It is sufficient to work one mathematical problem to see that the substitution of £80 for £60 is negligible.

Section 28 deals with farming profits and restriction of personal allowances and paragraph (a) refers to the rateable valuation of land which exceeds £20. This runs contrary to the general idea which we, as a party, wished to introduce and which we thought would be better for the people of rural Ireland, that was, to have farmers engaged in part-time industrial employment. We saw this as a method of enabling the farmer to build up his farm and to improve his living standards, and to increase capital investment. It would also provide an opportunity to the small man to purchase a holding which became vacant nearby. If he were to do that now, his valuation would probably be increased to above £20. This is a disincentive. There is no incentive for the man who wishes to be progressive and who wishes to develop as a farmer, who wishes to add to his holding and is keen to work in some industrial plant and eventually return to full-time farming.

Approximately one month ago the National Manpower Service in conjunction with AnCO introduced a scheme to encourage more farmers to participate in off-farm employment. This is the trend in progressive EEC countries. A pilot scheme was to be introduced in Kerry. What about the small farmer whose valuation is under £20? If he wishes to participate in this scheme this could mean a loss of investment by the National Manpower Service and AnCO.

Does the Minister think that man will become involved in this project? Will he be interested in getting some training from AnCO to develop his talents on the industrial side? It would be a waste of AnCO's money, money which comes from the State. It would be very interesting to hear the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and the Minister for Industry and Commerce on this issue. I am sure they are more conversant with it than I am, but I do not suppose they will offer us some way of allaying this man's fears.

There is a general understanding that this Bill is a forerunner to a more sophisticated Bill which may be introduced next year in which the threshold will be lowered. I regret the silence of Deputies on the Government benches. Some of them probably represent more small farmers than I do. Many of them represent the small farmers on the western seaboard who are directly affected by this measure. I said that the pilot scheme was to be inaugurated in County Kerry. Will the Kerry Deputies speak on behalf of their constituents?

We must consider whether this Bill is at all relevant to the needs of the community at present. Is it related in any way to the problem which people have to face? I am sure that the poorer sections of the community would like to have seen in this Bill some form of subsidy to help them to provide their basic requirements at reduced rates. Meeting with my constituents, I discovered that this was one of their problems. Where are the Labour Party who claim to be more closely aligned to the people than others? Are they circulating with the people? The people are not looking for luxuries but basics. They would have preferred the Government to introduce a system of subsidies which would enable them to obtain cheaper food. That is not in this Bill.

The middle income group would prefer to have seen something in this Finance Bill which would ease their mortgage repayments. There is nothing in it to that effect. Are their views to be ignored? They anticipated and hoped that there would be some provision in this Finance Bill which would discontinue the tax on building societies so that rates of interest would drop down to what people in this income bracket would regard as manageable: 9 to 9½ per cent. Their views are not represented.

This would appear to be a Bill which looks to the future. The Minister should bear in mind that the future is built on the present, and the present is not so good. The reliefs offered in Table VI are miserable. Hope is expressed for the future, but time is running out.

Last night I asked the Minister if he would estimate what the trade deficit is at present and I paused for a reply. The Minister was quick to take me up on remarks which I based on comments I read inThe Irish Independent and The Irish Times this morning. Perhaps he is in a better mood now to give his estimate of the trade deficit. His estimate in April last was £140 million.

There are in the Minister's speech such laudable statements as that the tax burden will be spread more equitably throughout society. These are grand lofty thoughts, and it is a feature of this Government that some Ministers have shown a great command of English. Where are the basics? The thoughts are well dressed up but the content is more important than the dressing.

In conclusion, I would suggest that this Bill is not relevant to the present needs of our society. The best thing the Minister could do is to take the advice of the IFA and other Deputies who have spoken, and withdraw this Bill. He should then come back here with a Bill which is in some way relevant to our needs, a Bill which would be basic but which at the same time could reform the tax code moderately, if the Minister so desires. Maybe the Minister is so taken up with the question of reform that he is overlooking the day to day necessities. One could be carried away and so remote from everything that this could happen. This is not a with-it Bill, and I would call on the Minister to withdraw it.

I am glad to hear Deputy Murphy advocating that building societies should get profits tax free. At the moment the Government have got the interest rate down to 10 or 11 per cent, whereas on the money market it is 17 to 19 per cent. When a person buys a house it is after the first few years he is in trouble. He gets a few wage increases and the repayments do not seem so much and maybe there is a subsidy on repayments for the first few years just like the ten-year remission on rates.

Fianna Fáil are looking for extra time to speak here and yet last night a Deputy repeated himself a hundred times and all he could say was: "What about the working man?" I commend the Minister and the staff who are bringing in this Bill. The Bill deals mainly with the simplification and reform of income tax and the widening of the tax net to take in the wealthier farmers. It also counteracts many tax-avoidance measures. It is not easy to stop tax avoidance. Each new law that is brought in creates another loophole and it takes a while to cope with it.

The Minister is to be congratulated on one fantastic thing he has done, simplifying the income tax system. I have had more people coming to me asking about their liability for tax. Heretofore a married man had an allowance of £494; for a child over 11 years of age the allowance was £170; for a child under 11 years of age the allowance was £155. Then there was earned income and unearned income. To work all this out one would have needed an accountant. The new rates of tax are much simpler: 26 per cent on the first £1,550 of taxable income; 35 per cent up to £4,350 and so on up to 80 per cent, which is the top rate of surtax. I understand the 80 per cent will be reduced to 70 per cent when other taxes are introduced. Now the allowances are also quite simple: £800 for a married man, £200 for each child; there is no difference in earned or unearned income. The majority of people have got extra allowances. There was an anomaly in a previous budget whereby people in the lower middle class were caught for an extra £10 or £20, but this has been rectified, and now there is a gain. On top of that they have got a wage increase. Yesterday Deputy Colley mentioned an allowance against tax for a £1,000 premium on an insurance policy.

Will the Deputy give me the quotation?

I am not quoting. Deputy Colley mentioned the £1,000 premium, and said that this was not fair. If you take out an assurance or an insurance policy and work out the amount you pay per annum, depending on your age, then when you come to retire or die, this again should apply. I congratulate the Minister on giving quite a bit in the case of those who take out big policies. They will now get a remission of 80 per cent. Before that they were getting 66 per cent. I think that was the figure. What the law is I do not know, but morally there should be some remission also in the case of a man who marries late in life. A young man of 25 or 30 will get a very good return on his investment and if he dies, the future of his widow and children is more or less secure.

A £1,000 premium —how many would be able to take out that sort of policy?

Deputy Colley said it was not enough.

I suggest the Deputy is confused.

Deputy Murphy must cease interrupting.

If a man takes out a policy and gets married at 30 years of age he will get a very fair return. By the time he reaches 50 that £1,000 will give him £30,000, £40,000 or £50,000. That will secure the future of his wife and children. I am worried about the man who gets married at 45 or 50 because he will get only £20,000 or if he dies, his family will get only £10,000, or £12,000. There should be some provision to cover cases like that to ensure that his widow and children will be taken care of should he die. I certainly do not accept Deputy Colley's figures.

As a businessman, I do not believe farmers are making too much money. I believe the contrary is the case. The return on their investment is one of the poorest in existence. Of course, it is a human failing to think everyone else is making more money than you are. Very often people who talk like this see what is coming in but they have no idea at all of what the outgoings are. A farmer with a valuation of under £100 will not pay tax. In some areas a valuation of £100 would be approximately 100 acres. In other parts of the country it would be 200, 300 or 500 acres, depending on the quality of the land. I think this is a very fair provision. The farmer can work on a notional figure if he does not want to keep accounts. If he is not entitled to pay tax, he will not pay it even with a valuation of £100. If he does not make a profit he does not pay tax. He is no worse off than anybody else. He will have a 10 per cent write-off for machinery. That is something you do not get in other businesses. In certain circumstances a businessman may get it in one year, but he will not get it every year. On a dwellinghouse there will be a 33 per cent write-off. That is something else one does not get in other businesses. The farmer is being dealt with very fairly.

The £100 valuation on a notional basis will not apply to a company or individual where the rateable valuation exceeds £50 or where one or other controls more than 25 per cent of the ordinary share capital. How does this tie in? Does it mean a farmer will form a company with acres of land? Is that how he will become a company? He may own 98 per cent and his wife may own 2 per cent. If he wants to transfer his share to his family, does this mean he cannot use the notional figure? If it does, I think it is wrong. The transfer will be in the hands of the same family and the transferee should be able to use the notional figure and pay on profits only.

With regard to the write-up, a great number of people in this city, professional and semi-professional, were using this write-up of interest against the purchase of shares. If they made anything out of these they would write off what was due and they paid no income tax because they used the interest on their investments against their own particular jobs and that meant a capital profit eventually when they sold out. This has not happened in the last year or so because shares dropped, but it did happen prior to that. They bought these shares very cheaply and that helped to inflate the market about two-and-a-half years ago. Some of these were giving a return of 1 per cent. Now they are giving a return of 16 and 17 per cent. There is no limiting of interest allowable to a person carrying on his own business. If one wants to expand and has to borrow money for that purpose it is a straightforward business transaction.

I am worried about one thing. The £2,000 limit may be insufficient for a person purchasing his own house. At the moment building societies are inclined to give loans up to £7,500. The cost of houses can increase for internal or external reasons. The cost of materials may increase. Interest rates have increased. Anybody who wants to buy a house over £8,000 must go to a merchant banker or a money or insurance broker for the finance. He will then pay up to 17 per cent for the 15-year period. A man should be allowed to write off his interest against tax when purchasing his one and only house.

There are three very important things in business generally—labour, money and management. Good management is very important to us. We have good labour relations although money may be scarce. We may train our management personnel or import them but I would prefer if we had our own. A man earning £11,000 in England would be in the same income bracket as a man earning £15,000 here. We have seen many companies going to the wall. Suddenly they brought in a company doctor. Within six months he will have put the company on its feet again and nobody will have lost his job. We should try to keep these people here or, if necessary, bring in experts from abroad.

We give grants to industrialists tax-free allowances for exports and grants for training. We give nothing to those in top management positions. Many people start factories and give much needed employment in certain areas. Later on, they may want to go elsewhere because they do not have the ability to keep the business going. This is where top management comes in. If we have not got the people to do these jobs we are in trouble. The limit of £2,000 could be right in 80 to 90 per cent of the cases but, equally, it could be wrong in the 10 to 20 per cent.

I am sure by this time next year the Minister and his staff will have found even more ways for tax-avoidance. I agree with section 52 which says that tax-relieved dividends may be paid to directors and certain employees qualifying for export sales. The Revenue Commissioners have now reserved the right to count some or even all of that money as income, if necessary. The explanatory memorandum states:

Section 53 is intended to prevent the avoidance of tax on interest arising from certificates of deposit or other assignable deposits. Certain depositors have avoided the payment of tax in respect of such interest by selling certificates or assigning deposits shortly before the maturity date...

Does this cover Government loans? If so, it is unfair. Over the years Governments have introduced loans from 4 to 10 per cent, as money became scarce. As the new loans gave a higher interest rate, the old securities dropped to nothing if there was not a capital profit somewhere along the line. It does not matter if the person who buys the security in the last five years make the profit because he will take into account the number of years still to run when buying. If the eventual seller does not make a capital profit, the person who was willing to back the country by putting his money into it will never do so again.

This section does not refer in any way to Government securities. It refers to an artificial arrangement the certificates of deposit. Interest, of course, is paid twice yearly, whereas if the certificate of deposit leaves the interest unpaid it accumulates.

Does it cross anyone's mind that there might be similar misapprehensions on other matters about which Deputy Belton is talking?

Deputy Belton is making a very reasonable and sensible contribution.

I am glad the Minister thinks so. He is the only Government Deputy supporting this Bill.

He is making a very good contribution.

Let us allow him continue to make this good contribution.

Section 54 is aimed at preventing the loss of tax on dividend income where a person exercises an option to accept additional shares in a company instead of dividends. I agree with this. Under the law which existed for a number of years the person in the £7,000 or £8,000 bracket has been hammered too much from a tax point of view. This is one of the main reasons for tax-avoidance. That is why I hope that the person in this income bracket will get a bigger tax allowance than £2,000 when he is buying his house.

I congratulate the Minister for bringing in section 55. Fianna Fáil did nothing about this matter. I often wonder how many of their friends are using this tax haven. The net of taxation is being spread; I do not know if all areas are covered but only time will tell.

Section 60 deals with offices. Prior to this if a person built an office block he paid 15 per cent to the Government but if he bought premises that were already used as offices and carried out renovation work he was entitled to 15 per cent. The section closes the loophole that existed previously. The person in this instance will probably be caught by the capital gains tax but I am not objecting to that.

Section 79 restricts the increased rate of 15 per cent stamp duty. Do I take it from this section that only in Dublin is it necessary to pay the tax? Does it apply throughout the rest of the country? What is the situation with regard to Dún Laoghaire? In Bray one is not required to pay the 15 per cent but a short distance away the stamp duty is necessary. Land in Dublin is more expensive than elsewhere. I agree there may be too many office blocks but the charge should be applied throughout the country and not only in Dublin. Office development should be able to carry this expense but it should be general throughout the country.

The rest of the points deal mainly with small tax changes. Overall, the measure should be accepted by everyone in the House. I would make the point to the Minister that a person who is allowed only £2,000 interest against tax may be in an awkward situation. What happens to the man who was committed to the purchase of a house? In such a situation he might require a much greater allowance against tax.

I should like the Minister to ensure that any person who purchases a house before this measure becomes law should be treated according to the law that existed at the time of purchase. We need to entice those who are in the top management bracket into this country. Such persons should be allowed to claim the interest payable on their houses against tax. People in this category cannot get money at the cheaper rate because of world scarcity. I might point out that in the money market in England one can get up to 22 per cent. The people in the top management bracket who are necessary for this country should be given an allowance in regard to the purchase price of their houses or the interest might be reduced to 10 per cent rather than the rate of 15 or 16 per cent now obtaining.

What is going on in this House at the moment is described officially as a debate but, with the exception of the speech of Deputy Belton, nobody has seen fit either from the front or back Government benches to speak on this Bill.

There is a speech reported in the newspapers this morning, in contradiction to what the Deputy has just said.

Will the Minister tell me who made the speech?

The Deputy might look at the newspapers.

Would it be Deputy Coogan, by any chance? I was charitable in regard to Deputy Coogan and I classified the two minutes he spoke as an interruption rather than a speech.

Deputy Dowling had a two-hour interruption.

If the Minister chooses to regard Deputy Coogan's contribution as a speech in support of him and to value it as such, it is indicative of the nature of the proposals he is putting before the House.

Deputy Belton pointed out that Deputy Dowling spoke for two hours. The other Deputy said more in two minutes.

He was well prompted.

It was a case of quality not quantity.

Under which heading does Deputy Belton come?

Self-praise is no praise.

Perhaps we will put Deputy Belton's speech under both headings. In the course of this rather strange parliamentary procedure, the most important annual Bill to come before the House is being discussed. This Bill gives legislative effect, so far as that is necessary, to the Government's economic and fiscal policy. We had a speech yesterday from the Minister for Finance which ran into 19 pages. One page and five lines were devoted to what one might call general economic topics or the general background to the Bill; the other 18 pages were devoted to a gloss on the explanatory memorandum and gave some detailed explanations of some of the sections.

This is the usual form of the introductory speech on Second Stage.

The page and five lines which were devoted to the general background contained some choice phrases of which we have had a lot in the last 15 months, one of them being: there will be one law for all, not one for the rich and another for the poor. The people, even the most unsophisticated of us, are beginning to get a little tired of that kind of terminology. We are beginning to realise that that type of high-sounding phrase, with nothing to back it up in this Bill or in other legislation, is of little meaning and value. I wonder what those who had hoped that there would be one law for the poor and one law for the rich thought when the Minister for Finance came out six or eight weeks after he introduced his ill-fated new system of capital taxation and, as a result of various pressures on him, changed radically many of those proposals, particularly in relation to wealth tax. I suppose it is not unusual that pressures should be brought to bear on a Minister for Finance in relation to any proposal he makes in regard to taxation. However, I think I would be correct in saying that for the first time in the history of this State, since independence, we had a member of the Cabinet coming out publicly, in this House—and he could not do it any more publicly than that—to attack the proposals of his colleague at the same table with whom he is collectively responsible. We had the extraordinary statements at the time by the Minister for Finance to the effect that in spite of Fianna Fáil's efforts to pin this White Paper on us, we will not have any of it; this is a thing that was concocted by civil servants; it has nothing to do with the Coalition or Fine Gael.

Apparently in response to that particular, unique pressure, we had the Minister for Finance saying some weeks later that he was making very radical changes in the wealth tax in spite of the fact that he had gone around the country shortly before that defending everything that was in the original White Paper and saying how necessary and how just a form of proposed taxation it was.

That is what one does when one is buying and selling cows. It is the same thing.

I am anxious to bring the Deputy around to the Bill.

I am talking about taxation.

This is purely a taxation measure and does not involve governmental expenditure; nor, indeed, do matters of administration arise at all. Perhaps the Deputy would apply his mind to the taxation measures in the Bill.

Subject to your ruling, Sir, I would have thought that, on the Second Reading of a Bill, one was entitled to discuss what was in it and also what one believed should be in it.

Relevancy is important.

My Party and I have certain views about capital taxation and I am happy to say that the Minister for Finance is beginning to come round to those views. However, it is a unique situation. It was as a result of a public attack in this House by one of his own colleagues with whom he is collectively responsible for that White Paper that that White Paper was changed radically. I welcome the changes in so far as they go with regard to the wealth tax. I would welcome it more if the whole thing was dropped altogether.

I think the Deputy would agree that he has had all that out on the budget debate, as such. We have now gone a stage further to the Finance Bill. I feel that fleeting references would be all right but to have a repeat of the budget debate would not be in order.

Like the fleeting White Paper.

In the budget debate there were a number of references to the Minister's proposals as published in the budget, with regard to the imposition of taxation on farmers for the first time this year.

When I spoke on the budget I remember that sitting opposite me was Deputy Michael Pat Murphy, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, and a distinguished member of Cork County Council. At the time I said that the Minister proposed in his budget to take away half the personal allowances from anybody who had "off farm" employment no matter how small that person's farm might be. Deputy M.P. Murphy told me that this was wrong and that it was not in the budget. I delayed the House for a moment or two while I got a copy of the Minister's speech and read out the relevant extract from it. Then I asked Deputy M.P. Murphy had the Minister said this or not. He agreed with me then that the Minister had said it and he said: "I bet you that will not be in the Finance Bill," and I said, "I bet you, too, Deputy, it will not be in the Finance Bill." Lo and behold, we have had the Finance Bill since last Tuesday. One of the first things I went to look for was this but it is not in it, or at least it is not in it in the form the Minister had proposed. Of course, the Minister had back-tracked somewhat earlier, before the Bill was even published, and he had limited—as he does now in section 28—the application of the taking away of half a person's personal allowances to those whose valuation exceeded £20. That, in itself, was—as I had forecast would happen —a major change on the announcement that was made in the budget.

But this is the type of thing we tend to expect because we had an example of it in last year's budget and Finance Bill and we had the very example that I forecast in the budget debate we would have again this year. Even with that change incorporated in section 28 here, as opposed to what the Minister said originally, there are still very many people with valuations of £20 but with small quantities of land who have no hope of supporting themselves and their families out of those small pieces of land. Indeed, in my county of Limerick there are certain areas— and they are not by any means necessarily the areas of best land—where the poor law valuation is £2 per statute acre. Therefore, somebody with a £20 valuation could be, and in many instances is, a man with ten statute acres of land, equivalent to about six-and-a-half or seven Irish acres. If such a man takes employment outside of his farm—and it is almost inevitable that he will have to do so—he loses half the personal allowances to which he was entitled hitherto and to which the man working next to him in the factory, shop, creamery or wherever, is entitled.

Even before the publication of this Bill the Minister tried rather frantically to mend his hand in this respect. Even though he has done so up to a point and taken from the effect of his budget proposals many of the people who would have been affected, he has not done so by any means in relation to all of them. Unfortunately, there are a great many of them who are not yet aware that this treat lies in store for them as soon as this Bill is passed, as passed presumably it must be, even though there is nobody in here, apart from Deputy P. Belton, to speak in support of it.

The Deputy is looking for promotion for me now.

I have given the Deputy credit. He did the big thing. After 12 Fianna Fáil speakers, or whatever it was, he did the big thing and took his life in his hands and came in here. I think the Deputy's dedication to duty should be marked in some way. The only aspect that worries me is that poor Deputy Belton may get into trouble with his Whip as we understand there was a severe whip out that nobody, front bench or back bench, was to speak in support of this Bill. It must be the first time for a long time that we did not have a Government Minister in to try to support his colleague. For example, we have had no appearance from the Minister for Industry and Commerce. One would have expected he would be here to lend weight to the words of the Minister for Finance.

Debate adjourned.