Vote 6: Office of the Minister for Finance.

I move:

That a sum not exceeding £16,034,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 1983, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Finance, including the Paymaster-General's Office, and for payment of certain grants-in-aid.

The total Estimate for 1983 is, as I said, £16,084,000, which represents a decrease of £27,000 on the provisional outturn for 1982. The main features of the Vote are as follows. On salaries and wages and allowances there is an increase of £280,000 on subhead A.1 compared to 1982. This Estimate takes account of the carry-over of the second phase of the 1982 agreement on pay in the public service and the cost of the third phase from the beginning of January. It takes account equally of savings realised from the non-filling of certain posts under the terms of the Government decision of 21 July 1981. On Post Office services there is an increase of £1,079,000. This is accounted for by an increase of £1,104,000 in the expenses of management of savings certificates, savings stamps, investment bonds etc. and partly offset by a decrease in postal services. The decrease in postal services is £28,000 and is due mainly to the large amount of arrears paid in 1982. On subhead D — management of Government stocks — there is an increase of £374,000 over the provisional outturn for 1982 due mainly to the increased volume of foreign loans and management expenses on prize bonds. On subhead J the 1983 provision is £2 million compared to a provisional outturn of £3,830,000 in 1982. At the end of 1982 this subhead provided for payment of the Special Border Areas Programme fund. At the end of 1982, £5.6 million had been disbursed from this fund leaving a balance of £2.4 million in the fund which has been carried forward and is available for disbursement in 1983.

A debate on the Estimate for the Department of Finance enables the House to analyse the role of that Department and the Minister for Finance of the day. It enables us to consider to what extent that Department and Minister are effectively becoming the motor Department of the various Departments of Government. It is appropriate in the short time available to us that we should concentrate on this aspect of the Department and the Minister, on the policy position of the Department as recently expressed. Yesterday in the House we passed a Vote for £110 million for the Department of Labour. That represented an increase of approximately 125 per cent over the Vote for the previous year which then was in the region of £45 million. The role of the Department of Finance, whichever Government is in power, is to scrutinise every penny of expenditure. A growth in public expenditure such as we passed yesterday, an increase of 125 per cent, raises serious issues not just in relation to how the Government are discharging their duties but as to how any one of us are going to discharge our duties. The Department of Finance, and the Minister, have a special responsibility.

If we are to consider how we are to lift the country through these difficult periods then the Minister for Finance in his annual review of Estimates has a special role and responsibility. If we compare that sum for the Department of Labour, £110 million, with the amount that has been allocated for Fisheries, £20 million, or for Forestry, £20 million, it is not quite clear that our priorities are, frankly, on their head. If we think that the answer to the problems we face is to spend more building up administrative empires, experience programmes, training programmes or interview programmes, we are wrong. One thing that is sure is that if any administrative agency gets a budget it will be expert at spending it. Such agencies will take full page advertisements in daily newspapers or prime time on television to tell us all about hot lines, cool lines, fast lines and so on. They will spend money where the private sector may not be able to compete in the same way. It is past the time that we should decide the terms of our policy positions and even the direction in which we are going. How are we going to encourage investment here to bring us through this recession? Will the direction come from the Department of Finance and the Minister? Are we going to rely on a proliferation of State agencies in every direction? It is amazing reading today's newspaper reports of yesterday's debate to think that we can spend money of that order without testing what the outcome will be. Is the public service, and the growth of it, to be the answer to our problems; or are we at last going to recognise that the only way we will solve our problems is to give our people the incentive, initiative and opportunity to solve the problems for themselves rather than enabling it to be done through national development corporations or agencies expanding at the rate of knots?

Hear, hear.

Part of the problem is that the application of funds from the EEC Social Fund is growing each year because we match that fund 50 per cent. When that fund grows to £80 million we must match that figure. Next year we are told we will be getting more, up to £150 million or perhaps more, and we must match that with more taxpayers' money. Are we seriously saying that, apart from matching it and building up administrative empires and using public time and money on television programmes, full page advertisements and so on, we are looking to the end result? How many permanent jobs will we be creating? Will six months work experience lead to permanent work? The same criterion should apply to the cost of training an apprentice under AnCO. Are we satisfied that the taxpayer is getting the best value for money through the application of those training schemes?

The suggestion is that these training schemes funded through the administrative growth areas are more expensive than the conventional training schemes would have been if they were associated with existing industry or through the regional technical colleges. As the keeper of the public purse the Minister for Finance has a responsibility there. Surely it is important that training is not given just in terms of a training programme at some training centre because work, apart from developing skills, also means developing relationships with the people one is going to work with. I am, like most people, old fashioned in that direction and I believe that the best training one can get is training with the man on the job whether serving an apprenticeship to a tradesman or training with a professional person. The best training one can get is not just at an experience or training centre divorced from the work place but an involvement in human relationships on the job.

We will not come through the recession — I believe we can do it — unless we decide now that the priorities will be to create a climate for encouraging investment on the part of our people, encouraging incentive and lifting the burden of taxation from our people who will invest and take the opportunity to develop their incentive. We cannot lift that burden of taxation as long as we watch growth in public expenditure of the order we have seen over the last couple of years.

Since 1977.

I accept that. The Minister will note that I have accepted that it has been going on for quite a while. I do not think I have made a political point so far because I feel too strongly about this to make a party political point about it. We are watching the Estimates grow annually. The current Estimate grew from £3,218,000,000 in 1981 to £4,891,000,000 this year. That being so it is not surprising that tax revenue has to grow with that. It grew from £3,135,000,000 in 1981 to this year's figure of £4,730,000,000. The latter figure is the tax Estimate for this year. Within that the income tax element has increased by 8 per cent. The projected income tax yield this year will be about 29 per cent of total taxation, a jump of 8 per cent over the last two years. We cannot create a climate for investment activity and initiative unless we re-adjust our priorities and ensure that we are not going to concentrate simply on taxation. My first political point is that the Minister, and his Department, have been unduly concerned with that element at this time.

I opened by saying that we should create a climate for investment and incentive. The evidence this year is the very opposite. Instead of encouraging investment and incentive we find this year, even in regard to the incentive to invest in small publicly-owned Irish companies, which has been promoted since 1932 by tax credits and which might somehow bring the dividends and shareholders receipts into line with what you get elsewhere from safe investment, that the Minister in the Finance Act has abolished that credit. This ensures that anybody who might have a notion of investing further in supporting business ventures here can forget about it. They are now being discouraged to do this because of some taxation norm that says this should be adjusted because there is some small inequality there. That is one example of investment, incentive and initiative being undermined.

Things like the advance corporation tax are certainly not an inducement to incentive and investment. We all know that there are too few people in the private sector who are prepared to take a risk, to get involved and start a project. The headaches and cost are too much and the tax burden is crippling. The Minister need not take my word for that. He can take the word of a seminar in Dublin yesterday on capital formation for business where it emerged all too clearly that the biggest problem in the country at the moment is that too few projects are being promoted in the private sector. There are too few people willing to take the risk because the climate we have created here is one of division and dissension. It is a climate, particularly, where there are some who think this can be solved by growth in the public service empire. I take the opposite view. We will only solve it through encouraging the people to get out and do it for themselves.

I am delighted to hear the Deputy saying that.

I have always taken that view and I feel more strongly about it now than ever before. We really need a spirit of enterprise, incentive and initiative. As long as the growth we have seen in public Departments continues our people will not lift with us. The role of Government is not so much what we do for the people but what we enable them and encourage them to do for themselves. Yesterday the director general of the CII, among other comments on the investment climate here, said that the tax rates are so crippling that top executives are leaving their jobs and leaving the country. I know that sometimes we look at the other person. Can we really afford to lose the best we have because of adding an extra 5 per cent to the tax burden as the Minister did this year? We tried to dissuade the Minister from raising the level of income tax from 60 per cent to 65 per cent.

Can we really afford to make success a penalty? Can we really afford to make success, with whatever may come from it, to be something which will arouse the absolute interest of one section — the Revenue Commissioners? The more successful you are, the more the Revenue Commissioners come after you. The only way a person can be safe from the Revenue Commissioners is not to start, avoid the headache. I do not suppose we want to do that. We want to ensure, if those executives are leaving their jobs and the country now, that we will encourage them back and we will look at our tax bands. The Minister will have enough time to look at that area before the next budget and see the level of income tax is growing to 30 per cent of total taxation. He will be able to say that he will not allow it to kill the most essential thing for the country: incentive and initiative.

The recent report of the NESC told us that 30 per cent of jobs in manufacturing industry in 1973 were lost by 1980. It is also telling us that job losses will continue over quite a number of years in the order of 9,000 to 10,000 per annum. That is the climate in which we find ourselves. Those job losses were mostly in the area of food, clothing, footwear and textiles. Is it not sad to think that in an area where we could be the food supplier of the world that job losses are occurring?

The private sector really needs support particularly in its marketing strategy. We apparently manufacture and process food on the basis of what we think the consumers in Britain, Paris, Germany, South Africa and elsewhere should consume. Our marketing strategy in respect of the best primary product in the world, agriculture, is deplorable. The private sector need support there. Our small industries need support there and if they get that support it will not be only to their advantage but to the advantage of our whole economy. Instead of developing marketing, research and development in those areas we are throwing it into Government agencies. We can give SFADCo and the IDA all of the advance factories they like at this stage and we can give their executives, advisers, consultants and everybody else who comes up with a report all the financial provisions they like at this stage. But unless we create the climate in which the people on whom we rely — the risk takers, promoters and initiators — occupy one of those factory bays we will find we are building them just for the sake of building them. We are providing money through the public sector, State and semi-State, and at the same time we are not creating the incentive for the private sector to get up and rescue the country from the problems in which we find ourselves.

We must get our balance right in our Estimates. We must ensure that we will not find a growth in public expenditure only and a diminution of the private sector. The level of investment in the country at present as a proportion of total public expenditure has dropped over the last few years from 30 per cent to approximately 23 per cent now. Public expenditure is growing enormously and the private sector does not obviously find it can invest because the penalties for investment and activity are too high.

I do not wish to be party political in this connection. Above all else what we must do is ensure that the investment level, the gross fixed capital formation, as a percentage of our public expenditure, grows rather than diminishes. The only way we can ensure that is to create the climate about which I have been talking in which tax burdens will not be unduly high and incentives will be promoted rather than discouraged.

There will be no easy way through this recession. Discipline and facing reality must form an essential part of that process. The first reality we should face is to tell the people that good Government is not necessarily a Government who spend. If there are some members of that Government — and self-evidently there are — who believe that the role of Government is to spend more, then we take issue with them and I place the strongest possible emphasis on that. The role of Government is to ensure that every penny they receive is effectively spent and that they collect not one penny more than they require. Above all else they should watch the growth of tax within this economy. Certainly this year the tax growth within our economy is of considerable concern particularly in relation to income tax, the reductions in credits for corporation tax, investment for shareholders and matters of that kind. All of those things should be geared to creating incentive, initiative, not to penalise them, but to reward them as forming an essential element of our economic development.

We have immense resources in this country. Instead of a Government telling us that things are bad and will get worse let us look at our resources and ascertain how they can be developed. I might give just a few examples. Take that of fisheries. Is it not a bit of a laugh that in these Estimates which the Department of Finance scrutinise we provide five-and-a-half times as much for the Department of Labour as we do to develop what is regarded in other countries as an asset of immense wealth, approximately £20 million? But that demonstrates our sense of priority here. Is it not a bit of a laugh that we spend about half as much on the Department of the Public Service? And their job is to tell other Departments, including the Ministers, how they should do their business. I belong to the old-fashioned school that thinks that there is one thing that can be said for the Department of Finance and the Minister, that is that they obey the bottom line, that one must prove oneself and that everybody else and every other Department should be obliged to do so. But we provide nearly half as much money for the Department of the Public Service as we do for the development of our fisheries industry. There is something terribly wrong there. We have about half as much to spare for that Department as we have for the development of our forests.

Perhaps I should keep all this to myself and say wait until we get back over there and we will do it ourselves. That scheme of priorities demonstrates that we have not as yet recognised the immense potential of our natural resources. It must be remembered that forestry constitutes a huge element in our development programme. Its potential wealth is enormous. Indeed, fisheries is not just a matter for Howth, Killybegs, Dingle or wherever else. Potentially a young man from the midlands could, as could a young man from Denmark, gain meaningful, profitable employment in the fishing industry, if properly developed. In regard to agriculture surely nobody would suggest — and I am referring now to reductions the Minister proposes this year — that Irish agriculture is too modern.

One thing you will always find is that, if you cut back on the capital programme — I might tell the Minister this, it is his first year in that Department — nobody will scream immediately. Do you know why? It is because nobody is hurt immediately. It is the current programme that causes the screams, with people having to pay immediately a little more for this or that. One might hear some objection to a cut-back on the capital programme by people who may have a somewhat longer view of the economy and its development. One can cut back the capital programme for roads, housing, sewerage, the services and one will not find anybody having to pay a penny more immediately that year. But the whole basis of the employment infrastructural programme will have been undermined. The Minister must readjust his priorities even in public expenditure. Let the Minister look back over the last few years when he will ascertain that the capital programme this year is just about the same as it was three years ago. That is an interesting statistic. Meanwhile the current budget has grown from something of the order of £3.218 billion to £4.891 billion, a growth of well over 50 per cent while the capital programme — which forms a very small proportion of the budget as a whole, as can be seen from the tables — has remained about line ball. If the capital programme does not merit the same development as the current programme I do not know where we are going.

The building industry, and we heard from them yesterday, can speak for themselves. Surely instead of cutting back on the whole infrastructural base we should be looking at other areas where cuts could be effected. If we are to look at the semi-State bodies in terms of the capital programme — and I go along with that — let us apply the norm that would be applied to any other area, their profitability being the test of their success. Perhaps because the Minister was rushed, I do not know why——

The Deputy should think about that when his party are giving guarantees. I could quote him on that.

The Minister will remember what I said about public expenditure in the course of the debate on the Finance Bill. I have said this so often, even in speeches I made as long ago as six or 12 months. Therefore he does not have to remind me about being on the record because I will be on the record on this very often. They are the priorities I am talking about. The priorities expressed in this year's budget by the Minister and in the Finance Bill are so wrong. I am saying that and I have been saying it consistently. We are cutting back on the capital programme, on our housing development programmes, our roads, infrastructure and we can see the consequences. We are adding more for unemployment benefit. We are providing more money for administrative growth and not sufficient to develop our real resources.

We have cutback on the farm modernisation scheme. Who could say as of now that Irish agriculture is too modern? I know we could look at the productivity element; of course we could. The farmers will not scream about that this year, or next year but the economy will feel the pinch in two years' time if we have not developed agriculture in the way we should, with all the jobs dependent on it. We will discover then that this short-term decision to reduce or suspend the farm modernisation grants was taken at a very real cost to our economy as a whole. We must take account of one reality, which is that employment is central in this country, as it is in others, but is crucial here because of our demographic structure, with such a huge proportion of our population in the under 25 age group, over 50 per cent.

If we are to get economic policies promoted by the Department of Finance they must be policies to which people around the country can relate immediately. They must be able to say, I know where that is going, I am going to take part in it. We saw this at three different earlier stages in our development — here it may be contended that I am being selective — but it was the case in the thirties when we decided we were going to protect our infant industry and we went for protectionism. That succeeded. The next big step forward came in the late fifties with the Programmes for Economic Expansion, into the sixties. They succeeded because people felt there was something happening and wanted to become involved.

We are now at the third stage and a renewal is required. The problem will not be solved by remote central concepts of planning from the Department of Finance or by economic professors, analysts or sociologists coming out with reports. It will be solved if we can relate those central planning concepts to the people in the country who can identify with them in a cohesive national way. This Minister would want to be very careful if he is to achieve that. However, I note that belatedly there is coming from him and his leader an awareness that perhaps there is a common base between farming, worker and the employer interests.

I would remind the Deputy that we have only 40 minutes left to deal with the group of Estimates.

The Minister can take it from me that we will let them pass.

Ten minutes for ten Votes.

Acting Chairman

It is more important——

There is nothing more important than the Department of Finance and the Office of the Minister for Finance in the economy of the country. I appreciate what the Chair has said but I would point out to the Minister that it is not necessary to go through each Vote and tell us what it represents. The purpose of debates on Estimates is to debate policy, not to scrutinise each Estimate line by line.

Will the Chair say when this Estimate will conclude?

Acting Chairman

The Finance group of Estimates will conclude at 12.30 p.m.

I will only take two minutes to finish my contribution. I say to the Minister that I hope in the Estimates there will be an awareness of the real potential of the country, which is to develop our own resources, to support every industry related to those resources and particularly in the marketing area where we are weak. That can be done through the private sector being relaunched. The Minister must not fall into the trap of thinking that with the extra money from Europe we can solve problems by adding millions of pounds to all Departments. I refer in particular to the growth of the semi-State sector. Companies in that sector must be tested by the same criteria as anyone else. The tax burden has grown as a consequence of the growth of public expenditure and the Minister is forced to take actions, as in the Finance Bill, which are doing more to kill incentive at a time when we need to promote that must important element.

We must recognise that policies that are appropriate to other countries, that may or may not succeed elsewhere such as those being pursued across the water, have to be tempered in their application here because of the different demographic structure. It may be that a 40 per cent endorsement such as that recently received by the British Prime Minister is a national endorsement, but I am not sure. I am not sure if there was a response from Liverpool, Birmingham and other areas of unemployment. In our society we need cohesion. We cannot afford to allow social upheaval or disorder of a kind that will arise if we do not provide real employment opportunities for our young people. Frankly, we will not do that by going through notional exercises by the Department of the Public Service. We will do it by increasing the allocation for education in the right areas rather than by cutting back.

That should be a priority for the Minister for Education. At the moment we are cutting back in areas that will enable young people to provide for themselves even though we give them training programmes afterwards. We will succeed if we give incentives to young farmers, by encouraging investment and by ensuring that we get a base for capital investment of a kind that is absent at the moment. We can promote a new layer of small industries that will take us through this period. However, the Minister must look seriously at the direction in which his proposals are going. They are doing the opposite to what we need to achieve. I have more confidence in the Irish people than the Minister seems to have had up to the moment. The day he shows confidence in them he will have my support.

The Deputy is doing his best to destroy that confidence.

I am very pleased at the general tone of the Deputy's speech even though it comes as a great surprise to me. If I were a few years younger and less worried about the plight of the country than I am I would have made a political meal out of his recantation of views formerly held by his party and by him. However, I will not make a political meal out of it. I welcome his evident conversion and I will not gloat over it.

The Deputy was quite right to emphasise the vital character of retrenchment in State spending. He is quite right to warn about the tendency which the State apparently incurably has and the momentum and the dynamic which the Public Service appears to have developed to expand new agencies in all directions and to keep on the personnel in the old agencies. I have never heard that said so clearly before from the opposite benches and I was glad to hear it now.

The degree and the speed at which the State has been expanding both in the civil service strictly and in the subordinate agencies is quite appalling and out of place for a country like this. If this were a country run on de luxe lines, if we were in a position of thinking of ways to spend money, no doubt it would be possible to flatter the expectations of people by creating agencies that we did not need but which were created merely for the purpose of putting people into secure wellpaid jobs at public expense. However, we are not in that situation and all the warnings about the necessity to cut back on the State's elephantiasis are all too timely.

I know that my friend, Deputy Bermingham, sitting in the benches in front of me will not resent me saying the following or begrudge me the freedom which I have had to buy politically for myself to speak like this. One of the features in the composition of this Government which led me to be only provisionally optimistic about them when they started and which has left me in the same position today is that I do not think the point of view articulated by Deputy O'Kennedy and which I share 100 per cent is shared by the Labour Party. I say this in no spirit of unfriendliness, but they have never had the experience of having to provide government on their own or provide even the major part of government.

I hope I will live to see the day — I mean this sincerely and not in any way sarcastically — that there will be a Labour Government here, that Deputy Bermingham and Deputy Ryan will be Ministers in that Government and all the other office holders and their successors. I am not in the least apprehensive about that day when it comes because in order to form a Government in a democracy they will have to get the votes of half of the people. In order to get that percentage of votes in a country like this they will have to change their tune very considerably from the tune now being sung by many of their Members. I am sure they would be a valuable corrective to a Government who might have become fat, complacent or perhaps corrupt. A corrective of that kind would have been no harm in the mid-1960s but, unhappily, that was the very time when the Labour Party decided they did not want Government at any price and when they turned their face against Coalition Government.

I know the Government have an item on their programme the genesis of which is to be found in the Labour Party programme for 1977, namely, the National Development Corporation. To counter the national development consortium Fianna Fáil in the election of that year proposed an industrial development consortium. When they won the election they proceeded to set up that consortium. Very wisely, however, Deputy Lynch as Taoiseach, confined that consortium to Deputy O'Malley who took damn good care to make sure that not a halfpenny of public money was ever spent on such a hare-brained enterprise. Although I dined long and richly on the industrial development consortium in the period 1977 to 1981, let me say now, since I have grown more sober and worried about the country than I was a few years ago, that I think Deputy O'Malley was quite right to keep that consortium as a kind of spook — I used to call it the spook of Schoolhouse Lane. It had not palpable existence that could be seen — it had no office, no address, no telephone, no staff, no budget, no functions. It did not even have a desk. It did not figure anywhere in the Estimates. It was only a reason why, for a few months, a certain number of civil servants had to abandon the work they were paid to do and go through the motions of trekking over to Kildare Street to meet other civil servants who had done the same thing that morning. Even that pretence was dropped after a short while and rightly. The reason I say rightly is because it was an excuse for pretending by means of setting up an organisation and funding it — although in this case Deputy O'Malley took damn good care to make sure it never was funded — that something was being done by way of flattering ideologists who never did what I might call a wealth producing day's work in their lives and would not know how to go about it if they were required to do it.

Hear, hear.

I am still waiting to hear — I know my friend Deputy Bermingham too well to suppose he will do anything except take this in good humour — from Deputy Mervyn Taylor, Deputy Ruairí Quinn or other Deputies what wealth producing function a national development consortium or industrial development corporation will perform. If there is such a function I want answers to two questions. First, why have the private sector fought shy of it? Second, if there are good reasons, is it not a function of a kind for which an existing agency already caters? In other words, if it is something to do with the sea, do we not have An Bord Iascaigh Mhara? If it is to do with bogs, do we not have Bord na Móna? If it is to do with taking alcohol out of potatoes, do we not have Ceiminí Teoranta? There is an endless zareba of semi-State bodies. They are so numerous that some to them have not been looked at for years to see what they are up to or how they justify their place in the Estimates.

It is the umbrella theory: a bigger umbrella covers a smaller umbrella and then even a bigger umbrella covers that.

Exactly. When Deputy O'Kennedy was talking about the Department of the Public Service I felt like interrupting him, but I had not the heart to interrupt his speech with which I agreed so heartily, to say he can be damn grateful there is not another Department put on top of that to watch what it is doing, but no doubt the time will come when some election manifesto will propose such a thing.

We have to turn back this tendency, and I do not care what I break up politically in saying that. I have had lots of differences with Fianna Fáil, and I probably always will because the ethos of their party has corroded them just as the ethos of my party may have corroded me. We are in such a dangerous situation that the country cannot afford the luxury of silly ass, Punch and Judy show polemics between the two big parties represented here who — whatever their differences 60 years ago or even more recently, or the differences which are exacerbated by personal aversions in these days, and from which I am not immune — whatever these differences may be, they do share common opinions on the kind of thing we are discussing here this morning. If the country makes wrong decisions on these topics everything else will be irrelevant. We will go under unless we get this area right. If it means putting aside differences for ten years between people in this House who think alike and not try to make cheap headlines or steal votes from one another with silly strokes, let it be so.

The public do not care about the individual destinies of Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil. The politician is a kind of megalomaniac; there is a touch of abnormality in anyone who goes in for this livelihood, but some are more abnormal than others. The kind of anxiety we have seen here to do one another down is something which does not correspond to any anxiety which the public experience. Our megalomania is flattered at Ard-Fheis time when we see 4,000, 5,000 or even 7,000 people crowded into a hall cheering as though they were in Nuremburg. They are not the public. They are a very highly selected section of the public. The public outside are incovenienced by the traffic, they cannot understand the noise, they dislike the sight of thousands of grinning faces applauding somebody they think is a silly ass or a rogue and they are put off by that kind of political enthusiasm. They do not get value for the kind of performance which the two big parties have been putting on for years.

Having said some hard things about the Labour Party, let me try to redeem myself to Deputy Bermingham by saying that the Labour Party have done far better than the rest of us in this regard. They have behaved with far more dignity and far more restraint than the other parties. I think their economics are all wrong but their political manners are far better than those displayed by Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael down through the years.

That is all based on the theme Deputy O'Kennedy mentioned in regard to old-fashioned prudence in State housekeeping and what is called the need for cohesion. I want to tell him he has a long way to go before he can sell these themes to the media who pontificate about us every day of the week. Only yesterday I saw my own party getting a severe wigging from The Cork Examiner over what they called our kindergarten penny-pinching. It is easy for a person in a white collar job, writing an editorial, to criticise the penny-pinching of others but it is because somebody somewhere in the public service, even if not at political level, did pinch a few pennies that there is any wealth in the country at all, even enough to support a daily provincial newspaper. I am sure Deputy O'Kennedy will not dissent from that, having sung an ode in favour of penny-pinching here this morning.

He mentioned the need to give incentives to industry and the need not to make people feel ashamed of making a profit or being enterprising. I agree with all these things but there is one point he missed. The way we construct our educational system — I am not speaking so much about third level education but the lower levels — is all wrong. It carries in it very honourable traditions of liberal education, making the whole man and whole woman, training people to allow their personalities to unfold and so on. It goes without saying that I respect that tradition and I hope it will never disappear, but a point is reached when responses to that tradition cannot be afforded and when academic freedom — such a thing exists even in school — if pursued too far leads to damage to the State. The way our educational system works is such that school leavers tend to think of jobs which are not wealth producing but are wealth consuming. They may be necessary to society, I am not trying to belittle them, but they do not create wealth. Students are not conditioned in their school days to think in terms of making two blades of grass where formerly only one grew.

I read only yesterday that in the whole of the technological colleges' programmes only two girls are doing engineering. Every day of the week I get letters from constituents whose daughters are trying to get jobs as nurses, or in banks, or in the public service. I am required to write letters of testimonial in support of them. I am still waiting to hear from a parent who wants his or her daughter to get into a profession or an employment which will have some immediate and not merely second-hand connection with the creation and maintenance of prosperity.

I agree thoroughly with the Deputy. The only reason I did not develop that theme was that I thought it was more appropriate to the Vote for the Department of Education.

I wish I had more time. The Minister wants to move on to the next Estimate. That goes in regard to industrial techniques and the failure to make children's minds lean towards these matters. It goes also in relation to training in modern foreign languages. It is absolutely deplorable and quite out of place for a country which depends so heavily on selling its products abroad. Our salesmen go abroad and they are absolutely tongue-tied as soon as they get onto the Continent. They are able to sell goods in the English speaking world——

Does the Deputy know that the allocation for modern languages was cut out?

I have a lot more to say but I know the Minister wants to get on.

I want to reply to some of the points made. I will begin by saying I have been encouraged enormously by listening to the debate we have just had, and particularly to hear that Deputy O'Kennedy now seems to be even further confirmed in the faith he acquired such a short time ago.

That is not true.

It is very interesting to listen to somebody who, after all, was Minister for Finance during a period in which we saw a very rapid increase in total public spending and in the total number of people employed in the public service, a period in which we saw the further development of a trend which regarded expenditure under the Public Capital Programme as being almost an end in itself. If it could be described as investment, it was regarded uncritically as something which should be undertaken because it was good to be seen to be carrying out investment without necessarily looking very closely at what kind of return you would get from it. We now see the results of that in terms of many of the State-sponsored bodies to which Deputy O'Kennedy referred.

If it is true that Deputy O'Kennedy and his party have come around to that way of thinking, we can have some confidence that there will be a greater degree of unanimity and force behind the view taken in this House. We need to put across very clearly the message to the people that not only must we get value for money from current expenditure, but we must also get value for money from expenditure on the capital programme and must, therefore, take a much more critical look at the way in which we spend both current and capital funds from the public sector.

The remarks made about taxation during this debate and the debate on the Finance Bill, and particularly the remarks made by Deputy O'Kennedy, were very interesting. We had a period during which we saw the tax base eroded and narrowed down, completely unnecessarily at the time, and we have not seen the benefit from that narrowing of the tax base. A situation was created then in which we had to bear more heavily on the areas which were taxed in order to produce the revenue to offset the kind of expenditure policies followed so uncritically for so many years.

If we can take Deputy O'Kennedy's remarks here this morning as an indication that there has been this kind of sea change in the attitude of his party, I believe we will be able to make progress. I am not at all sure that Deputy O'Kennedy, so recently converted, has yet been able to convert a sufficient number of his colleagues. Listening to the debates on the Estimates, and listening to the debates on the budget and the Finance Bill, I did not find the same care being taken in relation to the consideration of what value we are getting for public expenditure. I did not find the same concern for a critical examination of what capital expenditure should achieve; nor did I find the same determination to ensure that we restrict the total volume of public expenditure as far as we can for the reasons Deputy O'Kennedy outlined this morning. By the use of the kind of exaggerated rhetoric to which Deputy O'Kennedy referred a few minutes ago, we are in danger of making a number of things become self-fulfilling prophecies.

The Minister should not worry about that. We did not mentioned Poland or Brazil. His leader did.

Acting Chairman

The Minister without interruption.

On a number of occasions Deputy O'Kennedy was at pains to talk about a lack of confidence. While nobody would pretend for a moment that we have anything like an ideal situation in terms of the climate for investment, the more Members of the House talk in the exaggerated way they are wont to do about a lack of confidence, the more they are giving people reason to believe, perhaps falsely, that whatever confidence they have should be forgotten. We should use that with great care as part of a debating tactic, because it may turn some of the words used in a debate into self-fulfilling prophecies.

Since we are talking about a climate for investment, I should like to make the point that whatever we do in terms of specific Estimates or spending programmes will have its own effect on activity. There are other factors which affect the level of business activity — the profitability of investment, the readiness of people to invest, and their ability to employ. Those factors are not discussed in a debate like this — the result in terms of external confidence in our economy, for example — and therefore our ability to sustain the kind of selective Public Capital Programme we need and our ability to reduce our inflation rate, which we have been successfully doing is undermined.

This will colour the day-to-day approach to profitability on the part of people who want to invest, and manufacture, and employ. We have made very substantial progress, and there is more on the cards if we fashion the Government's intervention in the economy in such a way as to allow these things to happen, and to allow those other important factors which bear so heavily and so importantly on the readiness of people to invest, to take their proper course. That is an essential part of the strategy we are now following.

For the purposes of the argument Deputy O'Kennedy found in the Estimate for the Department of Labour an apparent reason for saying we do not seem to be doing a great deal to control the level of public expenditure. Deputy O'Kennedy should have a look at the estimates volume produced by the then Government during the election campaign last year. In it the net total provided for the Department of Labour was £108.6 million.

On a point of order, the debate on the Estimate for the Office of Public Works was supposed to start at 12 o'clock. Will we get half an hour to discuss that Estimate?

Acting Chairman

There was no firm decision or agreement on that. There is an order of the House that all the Estimates before it are to be decided before 12.30 p.m.

If I may continue——

So far as I know there was an agreement between the Government spokesman and our spokesman that the Estimate for the Office of Public Works would start at 12 o'clock.

Acting Chairman

It is not a matter for me to make that decision. It was not made, and your own Deputy went on a bit long.

We are into the time on the Order of Business unfortunately. We should be able to agree to allow the Estimate for the Office of Public Works to be taken.

On the point raised by Deputy McEllistrim, you reminded Deputy O'Kennedy at a certain time that we had 40 minutes left for the remainder of the Estimates. I suggested we had ten minutes left. That was at 11.50 a.m. and I reminded the House that we had ten Estimates to get through before Vote 9. Deputy O'Kennedy, as is his right, decided he would continue with the remarks he was making and I now propose to continue with the reply I am making to those remarks since Deputy O'Kennedy wishes to have a more detailed discussion. I intend to get through this and the remainder of the Votes as quickly as possible so that there is time to discuss the matter raised by Deputy McEllistrim.

In the volume produced last November there was a net Estimate of £108.6 million for the Department of Labour and in the revised Estimate there was a sum of £110.2 million for the Department of Labour. There was an Estimate of £77 million in both volumes for the training and employment of young persons, including the Youth Employment Agency, an increase of £34 million over 1982. Both volumes had the same provision in that respect for the same reasons and in both cases that accounted for by far the greater part of the increase in the total Estimate for the Department of Labour in 1983 as against 1982. The point that Deputy O'Kennedy seemed to be making in suggesting that a large increase has come about in the Estimate for the Department of Labour does not hold water.

I made an objective point.

On the general matters of the policy of the Minister and the Department of Finance raised by Deputy O'Kennedy, I have no difficulty whatsoever in agreeing with his view that an essential part of that function is to closely scrutinise the activities and expenditure of other Departments. I have no doubt whatever that the viewpoint from which these activities are being scrutinised is now a great deal more in tune than in the past with the objectives to which Deputy O'Kennedy now says he gives his agreement.

Vote put and agreed to.