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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 7 Jul 1983

Vol. 344 No. 9

Estimates, 1983. - Vote 3: Department of the Taoiseach (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:
That a sum not exceeding £4,047,000 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 Department of the Taoiseach, and for payment of certain grants-in-aid.
—(The Taoiseach).

Deputy Kelly is in possession, and in accordance with an agreement which I understand was reached between the Whips, and which was announced in the House, he has 15 minutes left.

When I moved the adjournment before lunch I had just finished pointing out some of the shadow sides of the Government's performance. Having done that, I think the Government have performed extraordinarily well and I should like to commend them on that performance. Everyone here knows I have no axe to grind by saying that. They have not displayed any failure of nerve. The bargain which the two parties struck, as I warned at the time, has had and will have further detrimental effects on the economy. But the Government have not taken their eyes off the principal aim of containing inflation and State expenditure, daunting though both these tasks are.

I admire the way they appear to be willing to stand up better than any Government in the last few years to the unpopularity which none of them, as politicians, welcomes or seeks but which they will draw on themselves if they do their jobs properly. Every member of the Government would much prefer to be spreading sweetness and light, opening roads and schools and so on by the new time. We would all like to be doing that, but it can no longer be done. It is not substantially the fault of the Government or of the two parties which compose it and they are manfully, within the constricting parameters imposed by the attempt to fuse two parties of different ideologies, trying to face those difficulties and showing a good deal of courage in the process.

There is nothing from the other side of the House except ritual complaints about the state of affairs regarding unemployment figures, which are undoubtedly very bad; and when somebody on the far side suspects that a move is about to be made to contain State expenditure, a whole series of Pavlovian cries go up, most recently from Deputy Flynn in regard to Thatcherism. Mrs. Thatcher's name is bandied around more frequently in this House than in the House of Commons. That, unhappily, is the dimension of our Paddy complex. I am not going to complain about it now. I have done it too often before but, since I am being obliged by Deputy Flynn to consider Mrs. Thatcher and to accept from him the currency, the legal tender of her name as a term of abuse, something which must automatically attract hatred and contempt, let me say this to Deputy Flynn: whatever her faults may be and however little I feel myself in affinity with her party — and I do not feel I have any affinity with them at all — it has to be said for her that she is to be thanked for the fact that the buses crossing the Border with shoppers are travelling from South to North and not from North to South. The reason? Why does the Deputy over there think that people even from his own constituency are travelling up by the bus-load — and the only reason they do not go by train is because there are no trains — across the Border to buy not just manufactured goods but sides of mutton to bring back down for their deep freeze? It is worth it to them to do that. That is what containing inflation means and the cumulative effect of the inflation rate over the last three, four or five years here and what it has been in Britain since Mrs. Thatcher got in. That difference now is so large that an Irish citizen in the Republic will travel up 100 miles into a supermarket in a town that he barely had heard of before, let alone visited, because he can save £20 or £30 on a week's housekeeping by doing so.

Deputy Flynn, before he talks too much about Mrs. Thatcher, should take this into account. Had Deputy Haughey been a Thatcher in 1979 it is in the opposite direction the buses would be running and the shopkeepers of Westport and Ballina would not be crying about the trade being taken off them by people in Coleraine and Portadown. It is the people up there who would be doing the crying and they would have to have an extra set of traffic wardens in Castlebar to control the Northern crowds. That is the reality of Thatcherism; and anyone like Deputy Flynn foolish enough to use it as a term of abuse, at least in an economic sphere whatever significance it may have in a purely political one, is neglecting these sore realities about which we hear so much in this House particularly from Deputies whose constituencies are on the Border. The person to thank from the British point of view, and to blame from the view of Deputy Harte, Deputy Kirk and other Deputies in the Border area is the same Mrs. Thatcher and, had we been able to turn out somebody so singleminded in attacking inflation, we would be reaping the same benefit as her people are.

Having said that in defence of the Government who, I think, are showing great courage — even though they handicapped themselves at the outset — in facing the job they have been elected to do, I want to say two things before I finish. One of them is the consequence of continuing crises, continuing hard times, continuing problems, some of them connected with security, some in the North of Ireland, and all kinds of other things which keep the Government permanently distracted, permanently anxious to get through the day or the week, permanently anxious to stagger through, if you like, to the end of the session in one piece, without any damage done and with, perhaps, a few small problems solved. The result of that atmosphere which surrounded all Governments in the 1970s and 1980s is that the longer term problems, the deep-seated underlying so-called structural problems of the Irish economy and the Irish society are not confronted. Occasionally people salute them when they recognise their existence but they do not confront them.

It is not today or yesterday that anybody adverted to the fact that Irish people, particularly the young people who are still adaptable and intelligent enough to learn things quickly, are insufficiently oriented to enterprise, insufficiently plugged into business. They know very little about it. They are not spiritually predisposed to take risks, to try to make two blades of grass grow where one only formerly grew, to go out and try to sell something to someone. They are not plugged into that. The plug is into security and to a certain moderate standard. I do not despise that. The Irish people had it very hard for a long time and nobody would fault them for a very natural reaction from the insecurity which was so long their lot and which still is the lot of those who have not got jobs. But everyone knows they are not plugged into enterprise, into industry, into industrial techniques, into industrial perfection of design. They are not oriented towards the things on which we are vitally dependent to sell our goods in the rest of the world — in other words, to survive with the standard of living to which we aspire.

We all know that but pitifully little is done to change it. It is not beyond the wit of man to turn a population around — not certainly in the course of a year, not certainly even in the course of a normal Government's term, but in the course of ten or 20 years it is possible; and very active populations on the face of this earth, by nature formerly not necessarily any more adaptable than we are, have done that. The people of the Far East have done it, every one of them. Populations in Europe which formerly did nothing except raise hens and grow lemons in the far south-east of Europe are into enterprises now — under the compulsion, if you like, of Communism — of which their grandfathers could not have dreamed. Perhaps manipulated, if you wish, but I do not suppose that in every respect you have to go out with a machine gun in order to instigate Bulgarians to fish in the deep seas off the western coast of Ireland, an enterprise those Bulgarians' grandparents would have thought widely beyond their capacity, widely outside their range of interest or technical skills or orientation. That has been done under the iron system, if you like, of Communism.

It does not have to be like that. It can be done here through incentive or under proper educational planning. Everybody has been giving out year after year about the inadequate orientation of Irish people in marketing. In order to sell goods the first thing you have to do is talk the language, in both senses of the word, of the people you try to sell to. The standard of marketing technique here — though there have been some improvements with various professional bodies and an increasing interest in the third level structure and in the teaching of modern languages, whether European or non-European — is lamentable. It is pitiable. The people who live in Taiwan or South Korea do not think there is anything strange in their children being asked to learn some European language, which it is just as difficult for them to learn as it is for us to learn Korean. Think of the horse laugh we would get in this House if we were to recommend, as I do now recommend, that the Minister for Education — who incidentally is sitting in front of me — should turn her mind to finding out how we can by hook or by crook turn out a population in ten years' time some of whom at any rate will be competent to go and sell our goods in markets where they formerly never appeared where, if we now turn up in the role of salesmen, we are obliged to ask the people to speak English.

I remember when I was in Government ten years ago meeting a deputation of Japanese and, when we were complaining about the approach of Japanese commerce, one of them said: "Take the very first step in selling things and talk the other people's language". With the inscrutable politeness of the oriental he did not make it sound as offensive as perhaps I do, but he said: "Your people come to Japan but they cannot speak our language. They think we are off our heads if we suggest they might learn it. We have to learn your language in order to buy your goods from you". If anyone thinks that is the right way to approach the world, if you depend on selling about half of your gross national product, one will not do it with one's feet on the ground. If that is his attitude he is half way to leprechaun land. We all know these things and no Government here has ever said: "Look, if we do nothing else we will turn this situation around. We are going to make a start towards reversing the orientation of school-leavers here in such a way that certainly not now or next year will cure unemployment but in the long term will leave us in a better situation and a better condition for facing the world".

These are the large-scale substructures — I have not by any means finished mentioning all of them — that we have not faced because Governments are too distracted by day-to-day exigencies. There is a list of other ones as long as my arm, which are slightly shorter term, that I am tired hearing about for the last 20 years, and no Government ever seems to sit down and say, if we do nothing else, if we are to be remembered for nothing else, we will take this problem by the scruff of the neck and choke it out. What we will leave behind us will not be a problem. Take the farm ownership structure and the farming mobility we were hearing about this morning. We are tired hearing about that. When I was in Government 15 years ago an inter-departmental committee was set up. What happened? The Minister for Agriculture was sitting here this morning and I have to say, although I admire him in a lot of ways, his proposal does not seem to be more exciting than what I was hearing about ten years ago. We want some action here. Everybody knows the trade unions are the most potent source of industrial unrest. We have been hearing about that for the last 50 years. The Government of Mr. de Valera in 1941 actually brought in a Bill to control the growth of unions and effectively to restrict unions to one per trade or one per industrial sector. It was shot down by the Supreme Court, very wrongly in my opinion, and it was one of the worst judgments they ever put out, four or five years later. No effort has been made since then except of a very tentative kind, basically no more than persuasion, to try to control a situation so ludicrous that the CIE management with a work force of only a little over 20,000, have to deal with 28 different unions to represent the work force in what is by world standards a two penny halfpenny bus company.

The question of public service numbers, the question of the waste of public money on self-indulgent things like excessive use of ministerial or other public transport, excessive use of entertainment or travel industries, the planning disaster that is all around us that Deputy Molloy and a few other western Deputies were so excited about are all matters which should be discussed. Their recipe is to attack An Taisce. Where would we be without bodies like An Taisce who without making any money out of it, for no other reward than being described as the blue rinse brigade by the like of Deputy Molloy, give up their free time in order to defend the amenities of the country?

The best solution the Deputy has for protecting the country is to damn An Taisce with personal allegations which turn out to be untrue about individual members of that organisation. I am a member of it. I never did anything much for them one way or the other and I most certainly never did anything improper or never brought influence to bear — whatever influence I have — in a sense which I would be ashamed to let the House know about. The House would say we are damned if we hear a body with statutory support, who have no other function than to defend amenities, being damned and blackened by the like of Deputy Molloy and Deputy Denis Gallagher on the other side yesterday. Naturally in their counties there are vistas which are disappearing. How proud is Deputy Molloy of Bóthar Cois Fhairrge these days? When did he last drive with open eyes from Galway to Carraroe and ask himself what has been happening to that country?

We are always hearing about the scandal of uninsured driving. When was that problem taken by the throat? Surely we could look forward to a day when people might say to one another "Do you remember the day when the country was full of uninsured drivers?" That problem should not be beyond the wit of man to solve. We should be able to deal with it and finish with it but it rolls on from year to year, adjournment debate in, adjournment debate out. I do not want to minimise the itinerant problem. I do not know where I would begin to solve it if I had that job.

The Deputy has very little time left to solve it.

Very well. All those problems, the long-term and the short-term ones which make up the awful burden of problems weighing on a modern Government and which are so difficult to solve are, of course, compounded by the awful, low grade polemics that the two big parties here carry on. We are back on every issue let it be even the clearest one. Try to prevent people from poaching salmon, from using illegal nets, and we are back to the dreary old bump and grind again. We have Deputies rising up on the other side talking about harassing the fishermen. These are fishermen who will not allow the forces of law and order to take a look at their boats, as a matter of policy.

There are an increasing number of people in the country who think that application of the law to themselves should be optional, that obedience to the law is optional, that if anything is not acceptable, that if there has not been consultation, in other words 100 per cent surrender on the other side, then they are entitled to make up their minds whether to obey the law. What support do a Government get — I do not care what party supply the Government — from the far side? The most recent incident we had was the farmers spoiling foreign vegetables, which the Irish housewife prefers to buy — I am sorry about that — rather than buy what is available at home. That is miles outside the law but how many people on the far side rose up to encourage the Government to do their job and make sure the law was obeyed? This is the awful Punch and Judy show which we think the people should be pleased to pay for. That makes the solution of all these problems trebly difficult.

I remember when we were in Opposition there were occasions when the Leader of our party would step out in front and offer the support of this party as, for example, anything to do with law and order in the North of Ireland, to the Government over here. Unfortunately, I do not notice that so much now. Every Government, no matter what colour they are confronting, have to look over their shoulders if they feel they are dealing with an Opposition who are not responsible and who see every political issue only as a source of cheap votes for themselves.

We are indeed grateful for Deputy Kelly's contribution today. It was long on a lot of the problems which confront the nation today, and, typical of the same Deputy, it was short on any way of resolving the problems. He started his submission by saying that Deputy Gene Fitzgerald's contribution was a predictable one but his was not that in any way. Before lunch he found it necessary to castigate his own party for joining with the Labour Party and bringing in such measures as the residential tax and other matters concerning the Post and Telecommunications Bill. He must have been well fortified during lunch time by the good pork on offer today in the restaurant because he came back and obviously had been spoken to outside and told it was the more proper thing to attack the Opposition. He consequently spent the remaining part of his very entertaining contribution telling us about how we had gone astray in various aspects. We are grateful to the good Deputy John Kelly for one thing, that is that he condones smuggling and he also makes it somehow respectable to be involved in smuggling. I intend to take up that matter later on. It is ungracious and unnecessary for Deputy Kelly to make that kind of contribution in the House, seeing that it results in such an enormous loss of revenue to his Government.

The Deputy did not listen properly.

Will the Deputy keep quiet or I will put him in his place. If there is a dog barking in this House I suggest that the Chair asks him to be taken outside.

There is no need for descriptions of dogs in the House.

The Leas-Cheann Comhairle is notable for his actions in relation to me. When others want extra time or to make certain remarks the Chair is very slow to stop them.

Will the Deputy wait for one moment?

Will the Chair wait for one moment until I am finished. The Leas-Cheann Comhairle is very slow to ask people on the other side of the House to withdraw things.

It is the third time in two weeks the Deputy has accused me of not being impartial. Since I took on the job of Leas-Cheann Comhairle I have at all times endeavoured to be impartial, not without the help on many occasions of Deputies in the House. I ask the Deputy to continue and to refrain from calling anybody in the House, dogs, animals or anything else.

I would be glad to oblige the Chair. I hope I get protection from the Chair.

The Deputy will get the protection of the Chair if he continues.

You displayed a very timid attitude to the last speaker but as soon as I stand up and there is an intervention from the Government side you come down on me. Will you attempt to control the other side.

I am telling the Deputy I will allow him to speak and Deputy Skelley will not speak again. If that is not being impartial I do not know what it is. Will the Deputy please continue.

I am glad to hear the Leas-Cheann Comhairle say that. We are also very grateful to Deputy Kelly for his reference to Thatcherism. I would like to point out to Deputy Kelly and his colleagues on the other side that the reality of Thatcherism is uncontrolled unemployment. That has been the effect of that type of monetarist attitude and policies in another jurisdiction. I am glad to know that at least now it is out in the open as far as the Fine Gael Party are concerned, that Deputy Kelly obviously is a supporter of those types of monetarist policies and that there are others who support his attitude in that regard as well. It also gives us a good clear indication of the type of ultra-conservatism from the Fine Gael Party. It is a great indictment of his party for the way they have been carrying on and not providing us with the kind of Government we have been accustomed to and which the people require at this time. It is difficult to understand how the Labour Party can adjust to that kind of policy.

While Deputy Kelly's speech was not predictable, the Taoiseach's speech was another wolf-at-the-door kind of speech, the kind we got from Deputy FitzGerald in the 1981-82 period. The Taoiseach's was a most uninspired contribution and a great disappointment to the quarter of a million unemployed people who were hoping that even in his last contribution to this House before the summer recess, the Taoiseach in a state of the nation speech would outline the Government's intentions for the next three or four months. The main thrust of our contribution relates to unemployment. Deputy Dr. FitzGerald's speech was a return to the old style rhetoric we had when he was previously in office.

The Taoiseach went down the well worn trail of the jungle of economic morass. It is unfortunate that after six months in government the Taoiseach could not come up with something substantial to offer hope to the unemployed people. The Taoiseach is just setting the stage for another dose of basic monetarism which will come about after the next sit-in in Barrettstown Castle. We must look back on a very poor legislative programme from the Coalition during this session, especially when one considers that most of the legislation moved was the left-overs of the last administration.

All we got from this administration was a couple of pieces of legislation to appease the Labour Party and other interested and sectional groups outside the House so as to fulfil election promises.

I referred to the possibility of the removal of the food subsidies and I was told that a decision had not yet been taken. However, it is an option which the Government are considering. Deputies Cluskey and Barry Desmond made it clear to the Government recently that all options must be kept open and that it was not just a matter of public spending cuts that were being considered by the Government. This Government are contemplating the removal of the food subsidies currently running at about £98 million. I will have achieved my purpose if I can succeed in getting the Government to say here that they have no intention of reducing the food subsidies. The Government could not find even one spokesman to do duty against me on an RTE programme in relation to food subsidies, because obviously they are considering that option in their next round of public spending cuts.

In relation to unemployment, for the month of June there has been an increase of 1,500 on the unemployment register. June is a period when one would expect the numbers to reduce. What will be the situation next October? Who will pay the in excess of £400 million necessary to make social welfare payments this year? With only one in five of our population actually working where will the money come from? There is not a single statement by the Taoiseach this morning that would give hope to the thousands of unemployed people. We should not trot out the figure of 190,000 people unemployed because when one takes into account the people who cannot qualify for unemployment benefit because of the archaic system of assessing board and lodgings, the figure would be in excess of 200,000 unemployed. Will the Government tell the people what they can expect in the next instalment of cuts that will take place as soon as this House rises?

It is a scandal that the Taoiseach should come here today with a litany of protestations about what might have been and what should be done. It is too much to swallow when Deputy Kelly follows the Taoiseach by suggesting to all and sundry that the only thing the Irish people should do is learn Japanese so that they might sell some souvenirs made in the west of Ireland. It is naive to expect people to accept that. I put it to the Minister that an alternative was open to the Government in relation to investment. The public capital programme is expected to fall by 10 per cent this year and the biggest fall will be in the construction industry. Do the Government realise how serious that is, and are they satisfied that the construction industry does not require aid from a public capital programme situation? It is not good enough to say that plans will be produced in the future to deal with unemployment. The time for those plans is now. We were waiting for some indication from the Taoiseach today.

It is no use for the Taoiseach to tell us about competitiveness; we all know about that. Domestic costs have been rising quicker here than they have been rising in the competing countries. Last year our domestic costs rose 6 per cent faster than those in our international competitors' countries. These are things the Government should have controlled. If we are to succeed, profitability will have to be sufficient to absorb increased costs.

How can that be brought about without a strategy for industry? No strategy has yet been outlined by the Government. All we have heard about is the killing of any incentive or initiative in the private sector and we have put the load back on the public sector, over burdened as they have been for many years. We are all being chastised and being told the public sector will have to be further cut to provide the necessary funding to keep the Government's monetarist policies on target. The Government are only concerned that by 31 December this year their budget deficit will be on target and they will hold that up as the answer to all out ills, irrespective of the unemployment situation. We all know about wage restraint, but we cannot expect trade unions and workers to accept wage restraint when their disposable income is being cut so that they cannot make ends meet. It has been made clear to the Government that the vast majority of people are not just hard up but are up to their eyes in debt.

When manufacturers are forced to accept higher costs they must increase producitivity to maintain their unit cost of production. But the essential costs such as interest rates, petrol and diesel costs, postal charges and ESB costs are under the direct control of the Government. Control has not been exercised since the beginning of this year in this area. That is why there is a continual closure of factories running at three a week. There will be no percentage growth in the economy this year. We need not blame the recession. We must blame Government policy which has given no incentive to business to create new jobs.

It is no use suggesting that we are working on inflation, that getting it down is the be all and end all of Government policy and that if we can achieve that we will be able to hold up in Thatcherite fashion the fact that we have reduced our inflation rate and all is well. What about the employment situation? It did not matter in the other jurisdiction. Obviously the Government have taken a leaf from that book in the hope that it will have the same effect and when the next general election comes they can say that they had good example across the water where the Conservatives had a landslide victory because they followed those monstrous policies. I suggest to the Minister that we are dealing with a different type of economy, a different type of people and a different kind of unemployment and the sooner they wake up to that, change their tactics and get back to the type of investment programmes outlined in The Way Forward the better; and if they cannot devise a plan for themselves we will not accuse them of plagiarism.

A growing fear here in recent times is that innovation is set to guarantee lasting unemployment, but we on this side of the House welcome new technology and we welcome also high investment in maintaining and improving that technology. The only recipe that I can see for rising living standards and low unemployment is to spend more money on investment in the productive sector, and if that is to include investing in new technology so be it. The Government have a duty to exploit new avenues to bring about a reduction in unemployment figures. I am afraid that innovation demands adjustment, but it also promises opportunity. The first adjustment required is in Government thinking, and we have not had that. We have had promises that these measures would be brought forward before the Summer Recess and we waited with bated breath this morning hoping that the Taoiseach would enunciate a whole litany of new initiatives that he and his hard-pressed Minister were to take during the recess. What did we get? We got the usual clap-trap and a plethora of what might have been and would have been but for Fianna Fáil being in office in the recent past. It is about time that that one was passed aside. Just as the Fine Gael Party through their publicity manager have moved the Taoiseach from centre stage in the publicity arena, perhaps they could move some of the Ministers from their centre stage and bring in some people with a little innovation in their minds as well as in their activities.

We must prepare in this country for the robot revolution which is obvious in every other economy in the world. There is no point in saying that it will not happen. We must learn to identify the adjustments necessary in both our educational policies and our industrial training policies to deal with that revolution, which is a fact of life in the more developed countries and is coming along rapidly here. Rising productivity in that area leads to a real rise in incomes for both the individual and the country. However, the contrary is being trotted out by the Government spokesmen: that we must move away from these new developments in the hope that somebody somewhere will come up with some strategy that will develop an employment situation that will take us out of our crisis. We will not get out of that crisis of unemployment until we take new initiatives and risks in government, in the public sector and in the private sector.

More people are now on the unemployment register for longer periods than heretofore. This should concern the Minister for Education particularly. These people are not getting the opportunities that they not just wish for but will soon demand to give them an experience in working and using in the national interest their talents and the expensive education provided by this State. Long-term unemployment leads to much greater difficulty in finding job outlets. The incidence of exit from the unemployment register decreases with age because employers take a negative attitude to young people who have been on the register for a long time.

It is necessary to do something for our young unemployed as soon as they come on to that register after leaving school. We see the diminishing skills and the diminishing confidence of those young people and the diminishing motivation to work at all, which is probably the greatest difficulty that we will have to deal with in the years to come. Young people will have got out of the habit of applying themselves to anything, study or work, and consequently they will not be in a position to take up gainful employment should it become available to them.

We have developed an attitude of mind in the recent past that unemployment will become endemic here and that for some reason there should be some acceptable level of unemployment on a national scale. This cannot be so. That is throwing in the towel, and any government who suggest that that will be the situation in the next few years do not deserve the right to govern this country. Long-term unemployment is just a proxy for structural unemployment, and that is the danger that the country is moving into. We must provide the structure whereby young people will be given an opportunity, whether it be in a great national employment scheme or in some new scheme of training that will encompass all of those interested in availing of it and their skills, and money must be found to do it.

The usual trick of the Government is to ask where they will get the money. The Government will have to take issue on the enormous sum of money being utilised to fund the social welfare fund. If it is in excess of £400 million I am sure a method could be devised to transfer at least £100 million of that and use it gainfully in the interest of those signing on the live register. It is not possible for the PAYE sector and the business sector to continue paying in excess of £400 million without getting an answer as to why. We have adopted a callous attitude towards unemployment and those who are unfortunate enough to have to deal with continuing long-term unemployment. We must give at least some hope by an outline of policy by the Government to deal with it. Let us take some new measures, irrespective of whether they cause a change in the strategy and structure of unemployment benefit as it has applied for the last 50 years. We will not break out of the stranglehold unless we can do that.

We are importing each year £1,500 million worth of commodities that can be made and provided here. That is a staggering figure. When we were in Government we had a policy of import substitution and we were doing something about it. For some reason that policy of identification of products that could be made here has been abandoned by the present Administration. Why, when you consider that £20,000 is the equivalent of one job and that £1,500 million in its entirety represents 50,000 jobs? Taken at its worst, half of that — 25,000 jobs — could be provided producing goods that can be manufactured here if the right framework or structure were developed in identifying and bringing out the entrepreneurs in middle management in many manufacturing industries. We do not hear about that now, despite the fact that in the building industry alone the best part of £400 million is being sent out of this country each year to buy the products that can be manufactured here. Some products could never be produced here, but many could and it is time that somebody paid special attention to that.

Government and semi-State bodies every year spend hundreds of millions of pounds on products made in foreign parts. Imagine our own Government and semi-State agencies buying foreign products. It should not be allowed. There should be an overall damper put on it, and the sooner it is done the better.

Deputy Kelly spoke about cross-Border smuggling, for some unknown reason, and I will take issue with him on it. It is of considerable importance at present and I regret that Deputy Kelly, by something he said in this House, might lend credence to the cavalier attitude being adopted by some people, which is not in the national interest. It is not right for Deputy Kelly to come in here to suggest that people involved are doing the right thing or that they are doing the proper thing. That is only backing up people in the media who suggest "If you get it cheaper, no matter where you get it go and get it". It does not matter what it does to the economy or who it puts out of work. That is not the attitude that should be adopted by either the media or people like Deputy Kelly, a senior member of Fine Gael.

The deputy has approximately five minutes.

I am sorry, I must disagree with you. I took the time deliberately.

To indicate my impartiality, I will allow you four minutes.

I must point out that according to the clock over your head——

While I know you have given me the extra few minutes I would point out that I can go on until one minute before twenty to five.

You commenced at 4.05 and under the Whips' agreement you must conclude at 4.35. I am showing my impartiality by allowing you another couple of minutes, and no longer.

Your generosity is tremendous.

I am grateful for your appreciation — you are watching the clock.

I do not think that attitude is necessary from you and I regard it as just a small abuse of your position. I watched your attitude to certain individuals on this side of the House for far too long. You have a timid attitude to certain people and an aggressive one to others.

I ask you to obey the Chair. If you continue with your contribution I would be grateful, but fewer remarks about the Chair——

Your are interfering with my time.

I will interfere when I think it is right to interfere. I indicated that I was prepared to allow you to go on for a few more minutes, so would you continue?

The less interference I get from the Chair——

I am not interfering. I am indicating what you should do.

You are interfering and the sooner you stop interfering the better. I have been in the House since 1977 and I have not been in any way disruptive——

I have indicated that I am being impartial to you. The Deputy has said I have been partial.

Impartiality is part of your position.

I am living up to the standards of the Chair. Would you please continue?

An enormous quantity of goods, and I particularly refer to electrical goods, are being brought across the Border each week and consequently there has been a disastrous drop in sales north of the line between Dublin and Galway. A large number of shopkeepers are going out of business with resultant considerable unemployment and a considerable loss of revenue to the State. It has been a progressing disaster since 1981. There is no use in the Minister for Finance saying that measures have been taken to deal with it. All that has happened are a few additional advertisements in the national newspapers pointing out certain things to the general public. That is not an adequate response to something that is causing severe hardship in the electrical field here.

I make a special plea to the Government in so far as the smuggling of electrical goods is concerned, both by commercial and private smugglers, the day trippers. The costs are enormous and it has an all-Ireland effect. People in the electrical business here are feeling the full brunt of this smuggling. If one appreciates that the Government's take from one colour TV or one video is about £200 each one will realise the kind of money being lost in revenue to the State. It is estimated that those two items, and kitchen appliances, work out at a loss of about £12 million last year. The reason is that the Government have no intention of taking corrective measures.

Sooner or later they will have to do it. A few advertisements and a few leaflets handed out to people in buses on certain routes is not good enough. The interception ratio of vehicles at the Border should be one to six for Irish registered cars and one in ten for foreign cars. These ratios are not being complied with.

On a recent spot check at the Border, on 5 July this year, 145 vehicles traversed the roads across the Border and only four were stopped. That is not a serious effort by customs officials under directions of the Department. There have been no worthwhile efforts to deal with this matter. The customs personnel serving on Border duty have been reduced substantially in the past five years. There is a constant stream of traffic, of commercial and private smugglers, using the Border roads each day, breaking the law, and nothing is being done about it. Customs personnel have been reduced, their equipment is archaic. They have neither radio communications nor transport. They have no back-up and until such time as the Government authorise an increase in personnel and their equipment there will not be any reduction in the level of smuggling.

The checking of vehicles is far too erratic. I am not talking about petty smuggling, which has been going on over the years. The smuggling is organised and the Minister has admitted it is on a serious scale. What is the overall cost to the Exchequer from colour TVs, videos and kitchen appliances? When you take petrol and meat and other commodities into consideration the loss must be about £100 million per year. What is the cost in job losses because of this smuggling? One statistic will prove that this is not talk off the top of the head. According to the CSO, there has been a reduction from 90,000 TV sets imported legally in 1981 to 68,000 in 1982, a reduction of 24 per cent. It is commonly believed that the number of sets smuggled in last year was 15,000 TV sets and 10,000 video units. If they entered illegally I guarantee that they are not licensed. That means there is a fall-out effect because of lost excise duty and VAT. It is reckoned that seven out of ten houses in Border areas have at least some smuggled article.

We should not take a cavalier attitude on this. People say it is all right if you get away with it. It is not all right because it is causing unemployment here, but the Government are not taking the action necessary to deal with it. The Minister must bring that to the notice of the Government and I might be able to recommend the action that should be taken.

I am trying to get as many speakers in as possible.

I would have finished if I had not been interrupted by that side of the House. It is necessary to have a proper publicity campaign, a publicity campaign of consequnce, not just a few casual advertisements and a few leaflets handed out along the roads leading to the North. There is need for an increased number of personnel for customs duty. They would need to be given the right kind of equipment to deal with what is a professional smuggling racket at this time. There would need to be an updating of the penalties and prosecutions in dealing with it and not have it a big laugh and if caught a minor offence and a minor penalty. That is not the way to deal with something which has caused hardship to hundreds of shopkeepers in this country, which is putting the rental service in jeopardy and which has caused enormous hardship to many individuals.

The Taoiseach's speech was a great disappointment to this country today. It was a huge disappointment particularly to the quarter of a million young people who were expecting some kind of initiative, some new start along the road to gainful employment. That was not given this morning and the Government and the Taoiseach deserve the criticism that has been poured on them.

In case there is any misunderstanding I was not in the House when the agreement was made but there is an agreement that people should get only 30 minutes. If it has not been honoured from my side, I apologise.

Thank you for your co-operation, Deputy.

I should like to make a few remarks on the Adjournment which will be in direct contrast to some of the pessimistic assessments of the state of the nation which have emanated from the Opposition today. It is important that in contrast to their assertions, beginning with Deputy Haughey, we should strike a positive note.

We have a great deal going for us in this country. Opportunities are there to be grasped, if we are prepared to put our shoulders to the wheel. We should put behind us the pessimism and passivity displayed by the Opposition. We should be active and purposeful in the pursuit of our social and economic objectives.

Tell that to the Taoiseach.

I am sorry if my remarks are hurting Deputy Flynn.

I am in agreement with the Minister.

It is time that we as a nation had more confidence in our future. It is time too that as a people we believed in ourselves and in the great potentialities that are there to be exploited. But we must work for them. There is no point in sitting around and waiting for things to happen. We must be up and doing.

When we talk about recession it is important to remind ourselves that recession is a relative thing. The standard of living and the style of life which we enjoy today, recession or no recession, is far in advance of what our parents knew or even hoped for. No one travelling around Ireland today can fail to be impressed by the fine modern housing which is everywhere in evidence and the fine modern schools which we are providing for our burgeoning young population. Herein lies our hope, that our bright young people, well fed, well clothed and well educated may take full advantage of the natural assets of our country and exploit their potential to carry us handsomely into the next millenium, now only a few short years away.

Let us look at our advantages. We have a fertile land that can produce the best food in Europe if we use in properly. The rich harvest of the sea lies all around our shores from the Irish Sea to the great Atlantic. Membership of the European Community provides us with a readymade market of over two hundred million people. There is only one way to go, and that is forward. Our tourism, although buffeted by many vicissitudes, is buoyant and will remain so because, in our scenery and in the unique demeanour of our people, we have a combination that will continue to attract visitors in increasing numbers.

We are situated at the centre of world communications. Our technological communications industry forms a significant and growing segment of our export production. Our knowledge of the English language which is now the generally accepted medium of international communication provides us with an inbuilt advantage in this area.

I do not wish to be misunderstood in this particular connection. We must continue to foster our national language and traditions, oral, literary and musical and all that makes us the distinctive people we are. To do otherwise would be to deny our past and maim our future. Nevertheless, it would be less than candid if we did not acknowledge the advantage which our knowledge of English confers upon us on the world scene. We have made our own of English; we have produced giants of literature in English; we have stamped our authority on the English language and our reputation world-wide has largely been achieved through its medium. I take the point that Deputy Kelly made about our deficiency in some of the major trading languages in the world. My major effort at the moment in the language area is concentrated on trying to bring our teaching and learning of modern continental languages up to a high point of development. Then I expect I will begin to think about Japanese.

Internationally, we enjoy a standing and a prestige way beyond what a small nation normally aspires to. We are respected among the nations of the world. The respect on the world stage we have earned is due to a number of factors not least to the ability and dynamism of some great Ministers for Foreign Affairs. A name that immediately comes to mind is that of the late Frank Aiken who played such a vital role in bringing us into the community of nations — the UN. His deep attachment to the ideals of the UN Charter and his constant participation in UN affairs ensured our high place among the nations.

Our Taoiseach, Deputy Garret FitzGerald, made a deep imprint as Foreign Minister, particularly on the European scene. His contribution in the early years of our participation in the EEC and his dynamic involvement in foreign affairs generally left a lasting impression among world statesmen. Our present Minister, Deputy Peter Barry, is ably following in the footsteps of these great Ministers.

Now I want to turn to the positive economic factors that are going for our country. Inflation has fallen to single figures for the first time in over four years. The wholesale price index has been increasing at a much more moderated rate; our balance of payments deficit will this year show a major decline and should be of the order of £400 million. Interest rates have fallen. The recently negotiated public sector wage agreement will, if accepted, provide industrial peace and give further impetus to bringing down inflation. External economic indicators are also favourable. Oil prices look as if they will be stabilised for some time. The major world economies are picking up and confidence is being restored.

The future prospects of the Irish economy are bright provided, as a community, we make sensible economic and social decisions designed to increase economic growth, while at the same time ensuring the protection of the less privileged members of our society. The remedy for our economic ills is largely in our own hands. But the results to be attained and the possibilities to be realised are there before us to strengthen our resolve and to encourage our efforts.

When we talk about employment we must talk about real jobs which will last. We must aim for steady progress which will attract and encourage domestic and foreign investment which will provide industry that will be able to compete successfully worldwide and ensure the lasting stability of those jobs.

A small society and economy such as ours cannot achieve all its aims and aspirations at once. Choices must be made between spending and investment; between high nominal incomes in the short run and low real incomes in the long run; between essential and inessential public services; and above all between a society which is just and compassionate and one which neglects and fails to lift the poor and the under-privileged from intolerable conditions to the level of society as a whole. Let us ensure that as a society we make the correct choices needed to attain the prospects which lie before us.

Essentially, we need all the factors that are going for us to be moulded together. We need leadership and example. No interest group in our society — politicians, trade unions and management — should be afraid to give that leadership to their own. There are signs, and strong signs, that people will respond to leadership. Difficult decisions lie ahead for us. Let us have the courage and the moral fibre to stand up and be counted. Those of us in authority — and I include everybody on all sides of this House — must be prepared to exercise that authority. It is quite clear that Irish people are crying out for strong, decisive leadership, for clear signposts, and that they respond to straight talking. All we need on all sides of this House is the courage of our convictions.

Since becoming Minister for Education, I have had the great pleasure of meeting many of our young people. My frequent association and mingling with young people has been the greatest joy of my ministry. Only this week I met a further 250 of them participating with great enthusiasm in the Youth Science Week at the Royal Dublin Society. This has been not only a source of great pleasure but a source of inspiration. We have a vibrant, stimulating and fascinating young population — eager to play their role in the social and economic development of our country. They are generous and compassionate, caring and concerned, bubbling over with vitality and anxious to have their talents and potentialities harnessed for the betterment of the community. They are waiting to be asked to help and co-operate. Let us not fail them. Let us give them leadership and inspiration. By our belief and hope for the future, let us inspire them to do great things. To the young all things are possible. We have a serious responsibility in this Parliament not to be the ones to disillusion them. Let the message go out from here that together, and in unity, we are on the march towards the bright horizon that awaits us. May all our young people become what they are capable of becoming.

Our future depends absolutely on the energy and enterprise of our youth. Our responsibility is to give them the education and the training which will direct their energy and enterprise to the occupations and vocations which assure the modern small state the capacity to grow economically and socially. We also have a responsibility to provide jobs for our school-leavers. Let us not fall prey to any economic doctrine which makes unemployment the price of economic progress. That price is too high to pay. It need not and will not be paid and this Government have no intention of paying it. It is worth repeating that we should not spread the gospel of despondency.

I should like to turn now to some matters in the education area. We are on the threshold of significant changes in our education system. An ad-hoc Curriculum Board will be established by the end of the year. New assessment procedures will be examined. Oral language examinations will be introduced. A drive to redress the sex discrimination in education is under way. The new technology and the provision of computer education is being widely applied. Curricular innovation and change is taking place in a number of schools. A programme for action in education is being prepared in my Department which will chart educational policy over the next four years. A very positive aspect of this work is the generous and comprehensive input of parents, teachers and management in all the discussions, which augurs well for the final outcome of the process.

I do not want to underestimate the difficulties facing us in education. Resources are going to be scarce. Let us be clear about that. It is an economic truism that wealth must be created before it can be distributed. More is the pity that the former Administration did not realise and accept that dictum before they embarked on the spending spree which had to be financed by foreign borrowing to the extent that is now costing us dearly.

That line must be worn out. Leave out the rubbish.

There is no crock of gold over the rainbow waiting for a Minister for Education to collect it. I have no magic wand to wave and thereby get all the resources I need. It may well be the case that improvements in education will have to be self-financing. But whatever the future holds for us in that regard, it will be my responsibility to ensure that the taxpayer is getting the best possible value for the money expended on the various education services. I intend to see that that objective is achieved. This may mean taking, perhaps unpopular measures. It will certainly mean that choices between competing interests and demands will have to be made. In choosing to fund one kind of education service, we do so at the expense of another, perhaps equally desirable service. In the context of scarce resources, the concept of priority must prevail all the more. The main priority must be the education of those in compulsory schooling — 6 to 15 years. Of course allied with that priority, must be the positive discrimination in favour of the disadvantaged.

I have mentioned the need to ensure that the best possible value is obtained for the taxpayers' money. This value for money or, to put it another way, the need for greater productivity is not only a concern for the Minister for Education. In these difficult economic times, it is essential that all engaged in the educational process, teachers and managers included, should be prepared to make a great effort and do whatever is possible. After all, the conditions of service of our teachers are not unduly onerous — particularly in relation to the length of the school day and the school year compared with what is generally required of teachers in most EEC countries. Such special efforts from any sector of the population will deservedly earn the gratitude and goodwill of all the Irish community.

I have no illusions about the financial problems facing me in education. Neither have I any illusions about the overall fiscal problems facing the Government. There are constraints in relation to the growth of GNP which many people ignore. We have a large number of young people in full-time education and a relatively large number of old people who are no longer in the labour force. I believe the House should have some statistics on these elements. In 1980-81 the latest year for which statistics are available Ireland had, at 26.6 per cent of the population, the highest number of pupils and students in full-time education of any other country in the EEC. Luxembourg at 16 per cent had the lowest; the UK had 20.1 per cent and West Germany 20.2 per cent. Our dependency rate is the highest of the EEC countries. The percentage of our working population is the lowest in the Community. The figures for 1981 show that 38.2 per cent of our population is in the labour force, compared with 50.9 per cent for Denmark, the highest in the EEC. The UK and 46.3 per cent in the labour force. Of course when members of the Opposition talk about the inadequacy of funding for education, or in any other area they never refer to this constraint.

Despite all this my Government's record of commitment to education is excellent. This year the education services have been given more favourable treatment than a number of the other State services. Let me illustrate the point. The budget for the Education group of Votes this year represents 15.54 per cent of the total provision in all Votes. The comparable figure for 1982 was 15.17 per cent.

We must not overlook the extent to which money is being spent on education at the present difficult time. The total provision of almost £900 million is no mean provision. Of course, we would all wish to be able to spend more. It gives me no joy nor any other Minister to have to make economies. But it is important to keep things in perspective. For instance, an ordinary taxpayer with three children receiving full-time education, two at post-primary level and one at university, will be receiving an annual State funding from current expenditure of the order of £3,900. This is excluding any higher education grant which may be payable. A subsidy of this magnitude is likely to exceed that person's total annual tax bill. Put another way, those who receive a full course of primary and post-primary education will have received State funding in excess of £7,500 and will receive as much again if he or she proceeds to take a full third-level course.

The House may recall that on the occasion of the debate on the Estimates for my Department on 17 June last I was not afforded the opportunity of replying to Deputy O'Rourke, the Opposition spokesperson on education. I now wish to avail myself of this opportunity to put on the record of the House some of the points I would have made that day. For six months now I have watched Deputy O'Rourke operating her brief on education. I have listened to her time and time again as her heart bleeds for the young people of Ireland. Not alone does her heart bleed but, to use her own words, her "blood boils" and she gets "very angry". She objects to being accused of exaggeration and hyperbole. Let any person read objectively her speech on the Estimates for Education and form their own conclusions. She is indeed the great crusader. She has already claimed that she embarked successfully on a crusade and I quote "against the harshness of the measures introduced in the school transport arrangements". Her own party, when in power, introduced all the harsh measures relating to school transport. Now, when out of office, she claims that as a result of her crusade my Government made changes. How naïve can one be?

Now she has given notice that she is embarking on a new crusade regarding the level of attainment for the award of scholarships in regional technical colleges. I will come back to this point in a moment as well as another matter raised by Deputy O'Rourke relating to the increase in fees in the regional technical colleges.

Deputy O'Rourke has said several times in the House that she is proud of her impeccable pedigree coming from a tradition in education of over 120 years. It is important to point out that the area of education is the most represented area in this House. But despite her tradition in education, her contribution to the ongoing debate on educational issues indicates that she has learned nothing. She demands that more and more money be spent on educational services. Her blood boils at every economy that has to be made, but she ignores the fact that services cost money and the money must be provided by the taxpayer. Above all — and this blindness is common to all in Fianna Fáil — she ignores the fact that the difficulties of today have arisen because of the misguided and shortsighted financial and political decisions made between 1977 and 1981 by people who were both unwilling and unable to face the responsibilities of real leadership. During the past six months, I have waited for one concrete suggestion or sensible solution from the opposite benches to the economic difficulties facing the country but I have waited in vain.

Unfortunately, the contribution from Deputy Flynn has not enlightened us any further. Unusually for him he was floundering and sinking. The only politics he appears to know are the politics of big spending and the spending must be foreign money because Fianna Fáil are afraid of taxation.

Why is the Minister turning a deaf ear to all our suggestions? We made several suggestions in debates on education.

The Deputy came into this House less than five minutes ago. He must allow the debate to continue without interruption. I appeal to him for his co-operation.

It is an extraordinary suggestion from the Minister——

I am sorry if some of my remarks are hitting home.

When ridiculous allegations are made they are bound to get a response.

Deputy Flynn advocated higher inflation and higher borrowing but he also praised The Way Forward which had as its target the cutting of the current budget deficit to £750 million this year. It is difficult to understand how Deputy Flynn can expect to be taken seriously, but perhaps he does not expect to be taken seriously.

In discussing Deputy O'Rourke's new crusade regarding the regional technical colleges scholarship requirements, it is necessary to place the following facts and considerations before the House.

First, it is not unreasonable that the standard of attainment required for vocational education scholarships at technological colleges should be at least two Cs. The position regarding the higher education grants scheme which assists eligible students pursuing degree-level courses is that in the ordinary way a candidate should have grade C in at least four subjects at the leaving certificate.

Attention has been drawn recently to the high drop-out rate in the regional technical colleges particularly in the first year. One of the factors in this situation — there are, of course, others — is that the standard on entry was not adequate to enable the students concerned to benefit properly from courses at that level. It must also be borne in mind that the change in the scholarship scheme does not affect the 2,300 renewal scholarships for these entering the second or third year of their courses in the autumn. Neither does it affect the 4,000 students who are expected to have European Social Fund grants in 1983-84.

According to Deputy O'Rourke, pupils in Athlone informed her that they could not go to Athlone Regional Technical College next September because they had not done the honours course. The Deputy should get her facts right. The position is that grade Cs in a common paper equate with grade Cs in the higher paper. Common level papers are set in building construction, technical drawing and engineering workshop. The important factor, however, is that the students from Athlone need have no worry about not going to the regional technical college because there is no change in the basis of attainment to qualify for an ESF grant. Any student who obtains a pass in five subjects at the leaving certificate will be eligible for an ESF grant.

With regard to the increases in fee levels for the regional technical colleges, a Minister for Education, as I remarked in a recent Adjournment Debate in Seanad Éireann, is never happy to announce increases. However, technical and technological colleges are expensive places to run, even when all due effort is made to have them operate as economically as possible. In the present climate, when total State expenditure is at a high level and there is need to examine carefully how the money is being spent, the level of the State's commitment to the funding of the colleges cannot escape attention. On the basis of last year's income from fees of £2.7 million, only about 6 per cent of the cost of running the colleges would have been met from the students' fees were these not increased for the coming year.

There are wide variations in fee levels ranging, in the case of technician and higher technician courses, from as little, by way of course fees, as £80 per annum at present, up to £160 per annum. In general, students in these categories will, even with the fee increases announced, be paying in course fees scarcely 10 per cent of the cost of providing these courses for them.

A particular case arises in relation to the comparison of some of the higher level courses in the colleges with the fees for similar courses in the universities. Fees for degree level courses in the colleges in a particular year have ranged from a low of just over £100 a year to £315 a year. Yet the fees, for example, in University College, Dublin, for Arts or Commerce are above £500, in the current year, while those for science and engineering are £700.

Concern has been expressed in some quarters that the increase in fees will affect particularly those who are less well off. I should here draw attention to the fact that almost two out of three students in the colleges have their fees paid for them either out of VEC scholarships or, in the case of degree courses, higher education grants or else by way of European Social Fund grants. It is worth remembering that the taxpayer funds the education system.

It would be remiss of me as the first woman to occupy the office of Minister for Education if I were not to refer to the cause of women which is dear to my heart and to reaffirm my commitment to continue to strive for improvement generally of women's affairs. It is extremely important that the very positive attitude of this Government towards women should be placed on record by a series of measures that have been taken including, most importantly, the appointment of the first Minister of State for Women's Affairs. Women are a strong group in the Dáil but we are still too small in number and I commit myself to undertake an active study of the educational system to ensure that the educational process will be truly equal for both sexes — equal in accessibility and equal in participation.

Before I conclude I want to place on the record of the House the final in a long list of positive factors which should encourage all of us to anticipate a strong recovery for this country. It is the fact that at long last the country has a Government who are prepared to govern and to take difficult decisions when necessary in the overall interests of the country. We have had two long years of instability in politics. This Government are a stable Government and are prepared to stick to their task of governing in these difficult times. We may not like the decisions that have to be made from time to time but the guiding principle underlying governmental decisions is the best interests of the country. That will continue to be the touchstone for our decisions and in a debate on the Adjournment it is important that these things be said.

Acting Chairman

I am calling Deputy Mac Giolla.

On a point of order, I wish to know why I may not speak next.

Acting Chairman

Notice has been given to me by Deputy Mac Giolla that the Fianna Fáil Whip, Deputy Ahern, has agreed to give him time to speak.

When was that?

Acting Chairman

Some time ago. I am calling on Deputy Mac Giolla to speak.

The Minister has made a nice speech saying all the right things but she has done nothing. She has indicated all the factors that are needed in Government such as leadership and commitment. However, this Government have not given any leadership and neither has the Taoiseach. His speech this morning was one of the most inept given in an Adjournment Debate by any Taoiseach. He listed the targets and what was required of Government. Their strategy, on taking office, was clear and directly related to solving our problems. He said that our capacity to stop the growth in unemployment was impaired and had to be restored. They had not got a strategy for full employment, just for stopping the growth in unemployment, and he listed nine areas in which they will take action. However, when he tries to give answers he does not mention unemployment again. He said they have stabilised our runaway economy, started to control our indebtedness, created an improved environment for industrial development and begun to halt the decline in competitiveness. Those answers are part of the monetarist and book-keeping approach of the Government with which they have been obsessed since they came to office. They have been managing the country like a huckster's shop and even making a bad job of that as the shortfall of £75 million showed.

In his speech the Taoiseach specifically rejected the suggestion that they were paranoid or over-emphasising the bookkeeping aspect of Government. Nevertheless, the speech indicates that that is so, because he referred repeatedly to aspects of our financial problems. One of his excuses was that we have the highest population growth in Europe and that this is the reason for high unemployment. He gives no indication that he has any policy to deal with this. He said that another cause of our high unemployment is our lack of competitiveness and he repeats this on a number of occasions, saying that by increasing our incomes at a rate far beyond that obtaining in other countries with which we compete we have steadily reduced our competitiveness in price terms. He said we put the price of goods up because of people demanding higher pay, but this reduces our competitiveness and causes people to lose jobs. Later on he comes back to that theme.

This is wrong. The major causes of our lack of competitiveness have been bad management, bad plant, no reinvestment in industry and hopeless marketing of our products. These have been referred to repeatedly by economists and by surveys done in Europe, because we have the lowest wage rate in the EEC. If that is so, why are we not more competitive. How is it we cannot compete with countries who have almost double our labour costs? Other countries in Europe are more competitive than us because they have put more investment into their industry. They have better productivity because of superior plant and machinery and not necessarily better productivity from their workforce, They also have far better marketing of their products and they are in a higher wage economy than we are. We are in competition with the developing countries of the Third World because of their lower wage rates. We should be getting into the higher technology and wage rate areas and competing with better products, better marketing, better management, better technology, plant and machinery.

The Taoiseach, in dealing with the book-keeping question, referred to the problems of national morale, which, naturally, goes down if people are told that we can never recover from our book-keeping problems, that we will never have full employment again, that our young population is growing too rapidly to be absorbed in the labour market and that we have no money for education. There are no plans for jobs or the economy in the Taoiseach's adjournment speech. He said that our problem of low national morale arises very largely from our economic and financial difficulties.

This is not correct. We have had economic and financial difficulties before. It arises very largely from lack of leadership from the Government or the Taoiseach or any indication from him that he has the capacity to get over these problems. Everybody recognises that we have financial difficulties, but they also recognise our great capacity to deal with them if we had a Government who were capable of putting any initiatives before us. That is why this sense of hopelessness and despair is entering into the minds of our young people because, especially over the last six months, we have had no indication whatsoever that the Government were in touch with the major problems which face young people.

The Taoiseach said a few weeks ago that no class in society had taken as severe a cut in their living standards as the farmers. There are about 160,000 farmers but there are 189,000 unemployed, according to the Taoiseach's figures, although according to EEC figures there are 210,000 unemployed. The unemployed have taken a far more severe cut in their living standards than anybody else, in many cases as much as a two-thirds cut and a majority have taken a 50 per cent cut. I do not think the Taoiseach understands the effect that has on the unemployed or on those involved with them. It means that nearly a million people are affected by unemployment. The Taoiseach does not understand that that is creating despair, hopelessness and rebelliousness among young people. There are about 30,000 people seeking housing throughout the country — 7,500 of them in the city of Dublin, yet 40,000 building workers are out of work. There is no plan to employ those 40,000 building workers to provide those houses, at very little cost to the State when one takes into account the cost of unemployment benefits and the return to the Exchequer from taxation on workers, PAYE, PRSI and so on. There will be an addition to the wealth of the country created by the production of houses. There will be a return from the infrastructures. Roads throughout the country have deteriorated and yet the subvention to local authorities has been cut back by the Government. Here is an opportunity to create jobs while at the same time taking advantage of the ending of the recession in the next year or two.

At relatively low cost to the State the injection of money into the construction industry could put thousands of people back into lucrative employment. There is too the provision of water and sewerage facilities the lack of which at the moment is preventing the development of industrial estates. These are areas the Government should be developing. They are areas in which the Government should be taking initiatives. There is no such programme. The Taoiseach referred to the National Planning Board. We heard a good deal about this over the last six months. He talked about a small effective National Planning Board. He said:

In the early part of next year the board will produce its proposals for a medium-term plan upon which the recover of our economy will be based.

In 1984 the board will produce a medium-term plan upon which recovery will be based. What kind of national planning board is that? What an extraordinary statement from the Taoiseach and his Government which has been in office now for eight months? A small effective national planning board will not produce any plan at all for a year and then the plan will be a medium-term plan upon which recovery will be based. There is no indication of urgency. He goes on to say:

In the meantime this national planning board has been working actively in the three months since its appointment on proposals for a budgetary and financial strategy in the short-run, to be undertaken within the framework of its preliminary ideas about the mid-term.

Presumably that budgetary strategy was produced in Barrettstown House last week or the week before. The only work done by the National Planning Board has been to produce a short-term budgetary strategy. No increase in taxation. Unfortunately those who pay PAYE cannot be taxed any more. They will be held as they are. We will not impose any more taxation. We will cut back instead. That is the programme from Barrettstown House. The cutbacks emanating from the National Planning Board provoked Minister Cluskey to come out with a statement protecting the public sector within a couple of days. I believe the cutbacks will affect NET, the Irish Sugar Company, CIE and even the ESB and so on right through the public sector as well as, of course, further cuts in Minister Hussey's Department of Education, in local authority planning and so on.

Next year will bring a further 40,000 or 50,000 unemployed on to the dole queue. That is the plan for which the Taoiseach is so grateful to the National Planning Board. That is the type of thinking designed to show that this will reduce inflation. That would be very nice. We might nearly catch up with Thatcher by bringing inflation down to six, seven or even five per cent. That would be marvellous with another 50,000 or 60,000 people unemployed. That would be a marvellous achievement in the present mood of the Taoiseach.

These cutbacks would lead to a further reduction of the budget deficit and the balance of payments at the expense of people who are now working but who will be unemployed next year, finished for life. Last year and the year before 30, 40 and 50 year olds were finished for life. They have accepted that in a state of absolute despair and dejection. What drives them even deeper into despair is the fact that their 10, 12 and 14 year old children have no hope of employment in the future. The recognition of that is worse than the loss of their own jobs. The Taoiseach intends that that will be the fate of another 60,000 people next year in order to balance the books and produce nice figures on inflation and so on.

With regard to the task force on employment the Taoiseach devoted just one paragraph of 14 lines to it. He says they are examining ways in which existing employment policies can be improved to make them more effective and he says the process requires a review of some of the systems of incentives that exist. I was looking forward to the Taoiseach sweeping into action, armed to the teeth, ready to tackle the problem. Here I find a paragraph of absolute waffle. And the following paragraph on youth employment is also dreadful stuff.

When the Government came into office they made specific promises and pledges and entered into certain commitments. Tax derived from PAYE and wages and salaries would be reduced. The reverse has occurred. The tax has been increased and there is an additional 1 per cent levy, a most iniquitous tax, on workers' wages. The previous Government had a 1 per cent youth employment levy and, though it was inequitable, it was accepted as a device to collect money for youth employment. But this 1 per cent levy is solely for the purpose of getting more money for the Exchequer, a typical Fine Gael-Labour tactic.

That was a complete reversal of what the specific Fine Gael-Labour Joint Programme said. They further said an extra £100 million would be raised in capital taxation by 1984. They do not have much time to do it. Capital taxation has been steadily reduced since 1974 when it was 11.2 per cent of all taxation to 1982 when 4.7 per cent of all taxation is capital tax. In 1983 we see that 4.7 per cent even further reduced. They could easily double and should in fact treble the rate of capital tax to bring it up to the UK level where just over 30 per cent of all tax is capital taxation. There is almost three times the level of our capital taxation in Britain. There is ample scope for doing it but it has not been done.

In the Joint Programme for Government the Labour Party failed to get again the commitment from Fine Gael to actually do what they promised to do, unemployment and disability benefit to be kept in line with take home pay. The budget did not do that. There is an overall loss in this year's budget. Furthermore, all welfare benefits were delayed for a further three months which further reduced the actual amount they got in the end. A Garda authority will be set up. The Minister now says he has changed his mind on that. This was part of the Fine Gael-Labour Joint Programme for Government.

The reform of marriage laws will be examined. A committee was set up yesterday to do that. It was to be done by the end of 1983 but the committee which has been set up are not to report for 12 months and they do not have to make any recomendation. That is not adhering to that commitment.

There were very specific pledges. For instance, the Government will set up an employment task force of key economic Ministers. I read out the paragraph but I do not see what it is doing or where it is going. A National Development Corporation would be established as an early priority. That has been referred to time and time again but nobody knows if it exists or, if it does, what its job is. I do not believe it exists. It has been referred to on numerous occasions but it has not been established.

Tax credits will be substituted for tax allowances. That is scrubbed. There will be a review of discretionary trusts to eliminate the use of these as tax avoidance. That is scrubbed. An annual 10 per cent tax on derelict sites was to be levied. That has not been levied. Immediate action was to be taken to end compensation loopholes in the existing planning laws. We had a Planning Bill, which was passed yesterday, but it is only changing the board. It did not do anything about closing the loopholes in existing planning laws. That could easily have been done but it has not been done.

A commission on social welfare was to be established. There is a reference to that in the Taoiseach's speech. An anti-poverty plan would be drawn up and implemented. We have not heard a word about that. Hospital boards would be restructured and made more democratic. We have not heard anything about that yet. Negotiations with a view to changing the fee per item to a capitation system in the GMS would be commenced and the National Development Corporation would be given the task of establishing a viable national drugs company.

The present use of State cars would be reviewed. They will probably decide to keep them. Last January the Taoiseach at least gave the public the impression that the State cars for junior Ministers were being scrubbed but this has not happened. There was also a commitment for the introduction of a national scheme for adult and continuing education. Unfortunately the Minister is not here now. There has been a cutback in adult education just as in all other areas of education. This is a highly dangerous area for cutbacks. A national scheme for adult education was to be developed. The cutbacks are entirely dangerous because that is an area which can assist in eliminating quite a lot of vandalism and the development of young people into lawlessness of one kind or another.

There were many promises, pledges and commitments given by the Government on coming into office but they have not been kept. There has been a very notable absence from the Taoiseach's speech about the most controversial and longest debated legislation which went through the House in the last six months. I refer to the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution Bill. The Taoiseach did not once refer to that legislation. Is he ashamed to mention it? If he did not think it was important why was it brought in? Why did the Minister for Justice spend so much time in the House putting it through? Is it because it is Fianna Fáil legislation which the Coalition Government, through their ineptness, stupidity and cowardice, put through against their will?

The recent opinion poll showed that the Members of this Dáil were at the bottom of the list in relation to any significant influences on the lives of our young people. The charade of the Constitution Bill was a significant cause of this. The majority of the people do not want the proposed amendment to the Constitution. In politics, law and philosophy this amendment to the Constitution can only drag the Dáil lower in the esteem of an increasing number of disillusioned people. It is extraordinary that the Taoiseach did not consider it worth while to refer to it as a useful piece of legislation.

The greatest indictment of the Government — to my mind they have only brought in one Bill of their own since they came into power, that is the Planning Bill this week — is that within six months the fortunes of Fianna Fáil have been miraculously restored by no efforts of their own but by the ineptness and the harshness of the Government in their Social Welfare Bill and their Finance Bill, which also has not been referred to by the Taoiseach. The Bill of the Minister for the Environment putting tax on water supplies, the significance of which has not yet been felt by the people, together with the other two Bills I have referred to, are the things which will be remembered by the people. There is not one constructive piece of legislation ot indication that there is one constructive thought in the Cabinet about dealing with the increasing problem of unemployment and lack of jobs particularly for our young people.

The Minister for Education in her comments spent almost 25 per cent of her time condemning Deputy Mary O'Rourke from this side of the House. It is poor form that in an Adjournment Debate any Minister would use time, which should be spent in the interests of the nation, decrying the activities of a Deputy from this side of the House. Is it because her Department or she are so poverty stricken she felt she had to do this? The following quotation from her speech will prove adequately what I am trying to say:

It is time that we as a nation had more confidence in our future. It is time too that as a people we believed in ourselves and in the great potentialities that are there to be exploited but we must work for them. There is no point in sitting around and waiting for things to happen. We must be up and doing.

That is lovely stuff but there is little else contained in this paper. After listening to it and searching through the speech afterwards I find little confidence in the future or hope for anybody.

The Minister said that to the young all things were possible. How can she say that in this day and age after her own performance in Government? The Minister claimed that her Government's record on their commitment to education is excellent. The Minister should not have spent a quarter of her time here condemning Deputy O'Rourke. She should not have come into the Chamber at all judging by her performance here.

With the end of the session in sight it is important to look over the performance of the Government and at the state of the economy to consider whether the direction we are taking will improve our economy. If the population were asked about that they would be unanimous in saying that the Government were a disaster. The past seven months would have been difficult for any Government but this Government have totally misjudged the scene and have introduced shortsighted fragmented plans, a "balance-the-books-quickly" campaign which has proved to be an utter disaster. This has been evident in the last few days when the predictions of the Minister for Finance have gone haywire. What will things be like by the end of the year? Unemployment levels are impossibly high and are increasing at an enormous rate. It is worrying that even during the summer, when seasonal employment should reduce the dole queues, unemployment is rising. Having listened to both the Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture in this debate there is little hope of a change for the better.

The Taoiseach's grasp of agriculture is pathetic. It was difficult to find one sentence in the Taoiseach's contribution that would give hope to farmers. About three paragraphs in the Taoiseach's script were devoted to agriculture but not one word was said about the local scene. The Taoiseach talked about what should happen in Europe but he has said nothing to the Irish farmer. The Taoiseach says that he spoke at length recently on the economic and social importance of a prosperous agricultural industry. I was present at Inch, County Wexford, when the Taoiseach opened a new yogurt plant. I listened with disbelief to his deliberations on agriculture. The Taoiseach in typical political fashion said what the farmers would like to hear and he accurately identified the problems. On the other hand the Government have exacerbated the problems by the withdrawal of finance, displaying a complete ignorance of the industry and its potential. The Taoiseach in his speech said:

The extent of the real income drop of farmers in recent years has had a severe impact not only on farm families but on the many other families whose incomes depend directly or indirectly on a prosperous agricultural sector.

On the other hand referring to the EEC farm price negotiations the Minister for Agriculture said:

.... it is deemed that the Irish farm sector will benefit from the package to the extent of £255 million in a full year. This impressive input will benefit not only farmers but also the entire national economy.

These contradictory statements are the cause of the division between town and country to which the Taoiseach referred this morning. To suggest that farmers will get £255 million this year is misleading. I challenge the Minister for Agriculture through the Minister of State, Deputy Donnellan, to tell the House by how much the farmers will benefit from this package. I would ask the Minister of State to also ask the Taoiseach to ensure that he gets a look at the Minister for Agriculture's script in future before he talks so that they will not come here making contradictory statements.

It is not the only script that would want to be looked at.

Deputy Deasy departed from his script to tell us that during the past four weeks at Question Time those on the Fianna Fáil benches offered no suggestions as to how the agricultural scene might be improved or as to how employment might be created. The Mintifie ister must be ignorant about the agricultural industry if he could not see scope for improvement and the creation of jobs in our supplementary questions and suggestions. This type of political point scoring is typical of the Government. Their only excuse for bad direction in the economy is that it is Fianna Fáil's fault. Before they came to power these people had all the answers. Now the answers are scarce and very hollow.

I look forward to the day when agriculture will be recognised by this Government as their biggest industry and as the industry with the greatest potential for the creation of employment. Because a healthy agriculture means a healthy economy, every pound invested in the industry is a pound well spent. Since the coming to office of this Government there have been several attacks on the farming sector and there have been enormous job losses in the industry and a subsequent loss of confidence. The services industries supplying agricultural needs have gone to the wall over a short period. Can the Government not see that this foolish direction can only lengthen the dole queues which have already increased by 50,000 since they came into office? Can they not recognise that in the agricultural industry employment could be created almost overnight in building firms, haulage firms, drainage and agricultural contractual firms and in the services industries? It is estimated that 6,000 job losses have occurred in the industry since this Government assumed power. What kind of commitment is that to industry? Can the Government not recognise that here are a section of people who, even when in bad circumstances such as exist today, work from dawn to dusk seven days a week for a low income and whose natural commitment to the industry is 100 per cent? The Government's performance in relation to agriculture is dismal. It has caused grave dissatisfaction and a loss of confidence throughout the industry with resultant lessening of production.

The Minister for Agriculture said today that the increase in agricultural output would be 6 per cent this year even taking into account the bad weather. What would it be under a Fianna Fáil Government? A farmer myself, in the business since I was born, having grown up on a farm, having a reasonable though not adequate agricultural education and with 20 years' experience as a farmer, I consider the Minister's predictions today typical of the Department of Agriculture with statistics given to suit an occasion and no base whatsoever apart from guesswork. Book farming is not the best type of farming. I appeal to the Minister that in any future speeches he might make he will try not to mislead the farmers and not give the urban population the impression that farm incomes will increase by percentages that are just not on. I suggest that during the summer recess the Minister spend time on a farm so that he may be educated in the practicalities of farming and come to understand its difficulties.

I believe he is getting advice from Deputy Lenihan.

He will come to understand the frustration of working for 16 or 17 hours a day. He may find that the loss of a cow, for instance, might mean the loss of profit for two months or more.

The Minister said this morning that we offered no help at Question Time in the recent past. We took every opportunity presented to us to offer good, constructive advice. I would like to take him to task about a statement he made this morning in relation to exports and imports. During the past three weeks enormous quantities of Italian and Dutch potatoes have been imported into this country and as a result Irish potato growers are being put out of business. It is possible that some of them may never produce potatoes again because the profit margins have almost disappeared. Irish potato growers have produced a top quality early potato but because of imports of vast tonnages from the countries I have mentioned and because of the manipulation by merchants here, the potato industry is dying. If the Minister does not take this business seriously he will find it difficult to procure Irish potatoes.

That did not happen overnight.

There is no incentive for the Irish grower to remain in business. The Minister of State appears to have as little knowledge of the potato industry as has the Minister for Agriculture.

I have a little more than the Deputy.

Far greater quantities have been imported this year than in any other year. The Minister said this morning that calls for interference by the Government in the importation of potatoes were coming from the Fianna Fáil benches and that this could not be done because 75 per cent of our exports are agricultural and if other EEC countries adopted the same approach many of our exports could be blocked. This nonsense is typical of one who does not recognise the importance of the potato industry or the agricultural industry as a whole. Fianna Fáil believe in our people, in this instance the farmers. Farmers can produce a product better than that which is imported. This industry must be protected against foreign imports. Our own producers should come first and in this respect Fianna Fáil have adopted a very responsible approach. Italy and Holland have been dumping potatoes on the Irish market for the past three weeks and I ask the Minister of State to ask his Minister about the legality of such a practice. These imports are coming in by way of container lorries with no inspection whatsoever at the point of entry and only the occasional spot check at the market. It is a long way from Rosslare to Dublin and there is many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip. Officials in the Department of Agriculture and officials from An Foras Talúntais have told me that ring rot, a disease of the potato crop which is very difficult to control and which could wipe out the entire crop for one year, is very prevalent in Canada.

When did that happen?

The Minister of State should listen and then he will be well educated. It is well known that the Italians import their seed potatoes from Canada. We are importing potatoes from Italy which might have had their origin in Canada and it is possible that because of the Government's negligence we are allowing ring rot into this country. Successive Governments have been successful in keeping the Colorado beetle out of the country. Everybody knows the devastating effect the Colorado beetle would have if it came in here. When we import potatoes in containers there is a reasonable prospect that the Colorado beetle may also be imported inadvertently. That is another reason why we must carry out strict inspections. Recently in a County Wicklow port a Colorado beetle was found in a ship's hold. The agricultural industry must not be allowed to die because of carelessness. I ask the Minister for Agriculture to ensure that every container of potatoes is inspected at least twice. That would alleviate some of the problems and the Irish potato industry and the jobs it provides will survive. The early and main crops generate an enormous amount of employment in weed control, picking and so forth from sowing time until the potato arrives on the market. Are we about to throw the jobs to the wind and give them to the Dutch and the Italians? I cannot understand why the Government insist on refusing to impose their own standards in regard to the importation of potatoes and other produce. In many ways we can block imports. This is generally accepted in the House but we are all too gentlemanly.

Recently in County Wexford, Springs of Wexford had to let off 20 people for the same reason. Steel springs were being manufactured for CIE buses, but now they are being dumped on our market by some of our European partners because there is an oversupply in Europe. The result is job losses. The Irish product is far superior but because the foreign product comes from outside it seems to be more acceptable — we do not have a belief in our own products. The Government should take positive sides in this and protect the jobs of our people.

Our potato merchants have been manipulating the market to suit themselves over a number of years. On the Dublin market recently Italian and Dutch potatoes were on display at £9 per 25 kilos, but Irish potatoes, of superior quality, were being offered at £5 and displayed less conspicuously. The Government should not be allowing this type of unfair trading. There is a greater profit for the merchants in foreign potatoes. That is the simple answer. Do the Government intend to allow this unfair trading to continue at the expense of the Irish industry?

Questions were asked in recent weeks about the importation of fillers such as tapioca. Today we had the Minister for Agriculture telling us he would insist on having as much native grain grown as possible. On the other hand he continues to allow cheap fillers to be imported. His speech was a nice one for the day but what will his action be? I cannot see any evidence of positive action on his part.

The farm modernisation scheme, now suspended, helped to increase our output by 11.5 per cent. That target was achieved between 1975 and 1978, according to the Minister today, but he said it was necessary to suspend the scheme in order to have a look at it. Such a suggestion, and Deputy Donnellan will understand this, is similar to suggesting that an entire football team would be taken off the field to decide whether one of the players should be replaced. That is what happened to the farm modernisation scheme — it was scrapped in order to look at it even though it had been successful in getting the land of 600 farmers for young, more progressive men. This suggestion that schemes should be scrapped to have a look at them is not believed by anybody any more.

The farm modernisation scheme suspension meant that 22 small building firms in Wexford, Waterford, Wicklow, Carlow and South Tipperary have gone to the wall. I was in touch with ACOT officers in Wexford this morning and I was told that there is no building whatever being done in that county. The same applies to drainage contractors. By their activities the Government are putting many more people on the dole. This type of thing typifies the present Government.

I hope that during the recess the Government will have a rethink on their policy of book balancing and come forward with a commonsense approach in order to keep the ship afloat so that when the recession ends there will be somebody left to pick up the trail.

Local authorities are being starved of money. Would it not be sensible to transfer moneys from social welfare to the local authorities to help them to look after their roads, hedges and environmental amenities and to maintain the schemes introduced by Fianna Fáil in 1977? Since then I had hoped that such schemes would be encouraged. The jobs are not there for the people but the work is there if we would only look for it. Having listened to all of the Government speakers — the Taoiseach, the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Education — I did not hear one glimmer of hope for the future. All we heard was what was and what might have been. There was no reference whatever to the future. I am sure the people of the country will be as desperately disappointed as I am. I appeal to the Government to lead us to believe in our country. Let us believe that we can succeed and let us get on with the job of governing and have less crying.

I come from a constituency that depends very much on agriculture, fishing and tourism — the three main industries in the country. Successive Governments failed to realise in full the part these industries have played in our economy. Listening to Deputy Byrne one would swear that all the ills the country is facing happened within the past six months. It is well known that when the Coalition assumed office in 1981——

They dropped the grants.

——we inherited a legacy of debt and the country was on the verge of bankruptcy. There was no drive in any industry. They were sliding downhill. The country had not survived the effects of the 1977 manifesto which was sold from every platform in Ireland to gain a 20 seat majority for Fianna Fáil. That manifesto promised abolition of rates and tax on cars, manna from heaven. Everyone in the country was supposed to get his share of that manna in the decades to come.

Alas, the manna did not fall for very long. We had to come back to reality. We had to face facts and we had to build up the international prestige that this country had enjoyed for years before that downward trend. We had to put the country on an even keel. Just because a few spineless people had not the courage or the guts to stand up to true facts we again found ourselves on the Opposition benches in November 1982. The country again suffered from February 1982 until the last days of November 1982 when the Coalition Government were returned to office to pick up the traces and to take up the challenge that we had so manfully assumed in 1981. When we came back we found that the ship of State had drifted hopelessly again.

They had been up to a lot of tricks in the meantime.

She is gone to ground now.

There would have been no hope of correcting the list in the ship were it not for the return of Deputy Garret FitzGerald and the Coalition Government. Were it not for that, the ship of State would now have been submerged, the country would have gone down the drain and would now be owned by some rich tycoon in the Middle East.


Inishvickillaune would be the last outpost, or maybe that would sink as well. Unpopular measures had to be taken. When a patient develops a serious disease the doctor prescribes a pill which can be very unpalatable. Any Government with a true sense of nationalism in their hearts and a desire to bring this country back to what it should be would administer a pill. It is always better to be restored to health by an unpalatable pill than to die a lingering death, which is what was facing this country when we assumed office.

The pill will choke you now.

The people who are now trying to pick holes in the leadership of this country are the people who shunned responsibility, who told people that everything in the garden was rosy, who promised the sun, moon and the stars and did not give two hoots who would pay for it so long as they could borrow. In a couple of years £4 billion was borrowed for completely unproductive purposes. Surely then the time had come for common sense? It is about time the people on the Opposition benches sat back and realised where the country stood when we assumed office at the beginning of this year. People may say the recovery should come faster, but it is far better to see a slow recovery than a fast recovery followed by a plummeting to the depths of despair perhaps overnight. Everything our Ministers have done in the past session they have done for the betterment of this nation, to ensure that this nation will survive and that the future will be brighter than the past 20 years.

We have today the youngest population in western Europe. The Irish nation faces a number of daunting challenges over the next decade or so. At the end of this century it is expected that the population will have increased by one million. To cater for this increase 0.5 to 0.7 million new jobs will be required. We are told that up to 75 per cent of the population will live in urban areas with 40 per cent of the total four million living in the eastern region. We will need 0.6 to 0.7 million new houses together with the necessary shops, schools, hospitals, recreational facilities and so on. New and improved roads will be required to accommodate a twofold increase in the number of motor vehicles. There will be a twofold increase in telephone and energy requirements. If we have the luck to see Deputy John Donnellan as Minister in charge of telecommunications I have no doubt he will rise to the occasion and make sure that people will not have to wait five, seven and ten years for a telephone.


The Opposition promised everybody two years ago a second telephone in the house and how far did they get?


Increased industrialisation, more intensive agriculture and substantial infrastructural developments will place a significant pressure on the environment of this country. As a rural TD, I do not want to see evolve a situation in which 40 per cent of our population lives in the eastern region. If development in that region is allowed to continue at its present rate Ireland could very well become top-heavy and tumble into the Irish Sea.

More money has gone into west Cork than any other part of the country.

I want to see the constituency of South-West Cork, every constituency along the western seaboard from Mizen Head to Malin Head, get its proper share of increased productivity so that the people born and bred in those constituencies are afforded an opportunity of making a decent living there. For the past 25 years under successive Fianna Fáil Governments we have seen nothing but the lure of the bright lights of the city. We have seen Dublin mushroom and grow out of all proportion. We have seen the same happen in Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Galway. But there is evidence of no major development at all along our western seaboard. We have in Bantry Bay, in South-West Cork, one of the finest harbours in the world without one snippet of industrial activity.

I hear Charlie is opening a night club in Inishvickillaune ——

I might ask what have successive Fianna Fáil Governments done for that area?

Any time I was there there was no evidence of any property anyway. The Deputy should look at parts of Dublin.

A bay that once boasted of holding the mighty British fleet. Today there is not a hooker in it, thanks to over 50 years of one-party dominance in Government in this country. Of course it was a three-seater constituency for a long time and it was felt there was no hope of getting that second Fianna Fáil seat. That is probably the reason it was not developed at that time. If we allow the remaining three-quarters of the country to die a lingering death then the question must be posed: are we going to keep the west and south-west for the seagulls and wildlife? Can the people of that area live on fresh air and cold water?

There is more than fresh air and cold water down there.

The Deputy's Government are supplying the cold water.

Are we to continue to see our youth drifting into the cities and satellite towns around Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Galway? Can the people of that area continue to live on fresh air and cold water?

The Deputy is living on more than fresh air by the look of him.

It must be the strawberries that are keeping the Deputy opposite nice and trim.

In order to ensure that we receive our fair share of the national cake there must be proper planning on the part of Ministers and Departments. Again I ask: what did Fianna Fáil do for the area? In the early fifties they shelved the only railway connection we had to Dublin. They did not give us even one mile of national primary road from Cork to Mizen Head or from Cork to the Dursey Sound. They sabotaged our railways, sold them to the blacks out in Mozambique or somewhere else. We were told that was in order to streamline CIE, to put them back on the road to paying their own way. Thirty years later they are still not paying their way, but the people of west Cork have to put up with roads unmatched in any other part of the country.

I listened to Deputy H. Byrne talk about agriculture. I might pose the question: Who laid the foundation stone of agriculture in this country? Was not it a Cumann na nGhaedheal Minister who was the first Minister for Agriculture with his slogan of — one more cow, one more sow and one more acre under the plough? Was not it James Dillon as Minister for Agriculture who put the lime lorries rolling into our fields? Was not it Mark Clinton who negotiated the best deal ever for our farmers in Brussels?

The veterinary strike.

We have now a good man at the helm again in the person of Deputy Austin Deasy. He cannot be expected to wave a magic wand and produce results overnight. One might well ask: why did successive Ministers not do so? What was their record in agriculture?

They left the farm modernisation scheme with us.

Of the three million of our population one million only are gainfully employed. Of those one million 520,000 are engaged in agriculture, a thriving agricultural industry, which means increased employment in agriculture and ancillary industries. Ireland's heartbeat is agriculture.

Hear, hear.

It is the nation's number one contributor to productivity growth, to curbing inflation——

The Deputy should tell the Taoiseach that.

——to increased employment, to exports to pay for imports, thus enabling other industries to operate in other areas, to repaying capital and the crippling interest on outstanding borrowings and to correcting our serious balance of payments problem. Agriculture is our primary industry combined with fishing and tourism. Remember that when the last litre of oil and gas will have been drawn from our gas and oil wells agriculture will still have the same potential and perhaps even more.

The Deputy is talking our language now.

I am talking commonsense that the Deputies opposite have failed to grasp.

The creation of a new job in industry outside of agriculture costs £15,000. It must be remembered that to keep a man from leaving agriculture, fisheries and forestry costs the State £270 only per annum. I have seen industries mushrooming all over the place, receiving large State grants at the expense of an already overburdened taxpayer. But a lot of them appear to open in January and close in September. Is there any monitoring of those foreign tycoons who come in here to make a few extra millions and take the next plane back? They come here because they think the Irish are soft prey and they are receiving special terms. For years we fooled ourselves with the idea that industry would constitute the hub of success here but it has transpired to be a dismal failure as far as our balance of payments is concerned. We must realise that were it not for agricultural exports this country would have foundered long ago. It is an absolute necessity that the farming industry here be assisted.

What about the farm modernisation scheme?

If given a chance there is no better person to pay back the nation than the farmer.

I spoke yesterday on fisheries and I shall not repeat my remarks today. But side by side with the farmer the small fisherman was the salt of the earth. He kept the small shopkeeper going in his area, probably he kept the small bar going in his area when he would have a few drinks coming from Mass or from a funeral. He enjoyed a few drinks provided he had sufficient money in his pocket to do so. A man like this kept the economy going in his area. I listened to the Minister for Education when she spoke. What did Fianna Fáil do for education when they were in Government? They closed all the one-teacher and two-teacher schools in the west and they transported the children in dilapidated buses to other schools. They did not even replace the buses when it was obvious they needed replacement.

We never denied a child the opportunity to go to school.

When Fianna Fáil closed the one-and two-teacher national schools in rural Ireland they ruined the economy of the areas. I am glad that there has been a change in that policy but I am afraid it has come too late. Throughout rural Ireland today one can see fine, stone-built schoolhouses, now the property of foreigners and used by them as holiday homes. In many cases they bought the buildings for trivial sums of money and where the premises have not been sold one can see rooks making nests in the rafters. It is a sad reflection on a party whom I thought were concerned about rural Ireland.

It is well known that many intelligent people were educated in national schools in rural areas. I am proud to say that I was educated in a humble little school in rural Ireland.

I appeal to all our people to play their part in putting our country on the right road. A nation of our size cannot achieve significant economic expansion without a sustained effort which must embrace all elements of the community. There cannot be any guarantee of success but if we are dedicated to the task of helping our country we will achieve that success. It is time for a united effort. I appeal to the Opposition to unite with us in our efforts to restore sanity and prosperity to the nation. Bickering and scoring political points will not achieve anything. We need a common approach to solve the problems that confront us and we need people with enough backbone to deal with the many difficulties that face us.

We must insist on law and order and we must insist that the economy be put on a proper footing. We cannot stick our heads in the sand and forget about our problems. The sooner they are dealt with the better for the country. A little restraint is called for on the part of all our people in order to put the country back on the road to prosperity. We have one of the best countries in the world if it got half a chance——

The budget crucified the people.

We are trying our best to put the country back on the road to prosperity.

There has been a 25 per cent increase in unemployment this year.

A little more moral courage, initiative, independence and self-reliance would help us to utilise our land and the sea around us. The time has come for us as a people to get off our knees, to discard the begging bowl, to take up the tools of work and develop our natural resources, particularly our underutilised land and our unemployed labour. If we do that we will earn the right to walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye.

I agree with Deputy Sheehan that we need a common approach and less vilification, innuendo and challenge. I should like him to have a word with his Taoiseach about that and perhaps he might get him to adjust the speech he made this morning. Deputy Sheehan has given us a strong, personal view of the need to do something worthwhile.

At the time of the Adjournment of the Dáil one assesses the situation, catches up on constituency work and makes plans for the new session. It is an important time in that respect. When one is in Opposition one should be able to do that without too much worry about the economic situation, but unfortunately in the present circumstances we go into recess with great fear about the situation that will face the country when the Dáil resumes. It is obvious that the situation is deteriorating rapidly but the Government have no plans to deal with it. I hope that when the Minister for Finance is speaking tomorrow he will tell us when he will produce the Estimates. As the House knows, we produced the Estimates for 1983 in mid-October 1982 and we had them available then so that they could be discussed and considered. The Minister for Finance said the Estimates would be ready in September and I should like to know his plans with regard to this matter. Once the House adjourns presumably the Government will get down to the job of dealing with them.

I am not going to dwell on criticisms of the Coalition Government. We could spend a long time criticising what they have done since they came to office. Their actions have departed very much from what they said they would do. They have forgotten about the poor. They made great paly of the poor and weaker sections of the community before achieving office. The PR machine used them for their own ends and then cast them aside. There is no doubt now in the minds of the elderly, the handicapped and those genuinely in need that that was done. We have no differences with the Government in regard to cutting down on waste and those who are not genuinely poor and in need, but the position of the poor has greatly worsened. The Government have shown no concern for the less well off. Their policies in that respect have been surprisingly inhuman and their principal characteristic is remote bureaucracy. They have shown little concern for the realities of life at basic level. When you speak to elderly people who have to pay for food, heating and transport, you understand their difficulties.

Another group who are doing very badly since this Government took office are families. They find it almost impossible to manage on the average take-home pay. I have heard people say that mincemeat is a luxury. Perhaps that is a joke to some people, but unfortunately for others it is true. The famous family roast is gone because the family breadwinner's money has been reduced despite all the promises about PAYE and net take home pay. Prices have been increased directly since the budget came into operation. There has been no increase in children's allowances and the double week's pay will not be given to families in need in September when the Dáil is in recess. Dependants of lower income people were given a double week in September and again in December. That has now been abolished, so going back to school this September will create great hardship for them. We now hear also that food subsidies are under very critical examination and may be partly reduced.

There is no need to concentrate on other expenses which arise for families. Education costs are soaring and public transport is becoming a luxury. The cost of paying bus fares for three or four school-going children is almost prohibitive. When we started our famous jogging campaign some years ago it was to get people out and to improve their health.

Who are "we"?

The Leader of the Opposition followed by myself. We thought that this was very important from a health point of view. Now it is obvious that people may need to keep it up because of the high cost of transport. I find it incomprehensible that the Labour Party should participate in this systematic reduction of the incomes of the poor and elderly in the way in which it is being done by the Coalition. All the principles have been set aside and the Labour Party have allowed themselves to be swamped by the right-wing, conservative policies of Fine Gael.

Worst of all is the attitude to employment and investment. We pointed out that unemployment would accelerate as a result of the budget. When Fianna Fáil were in Government we did our utmost to stem the rising tide of unemployment, which although very greatly affected by international factors is also under our own control. When this Government came into office they said that for the first couple of years they would make no effort to stem this tide and that they would let it flow. We are now seeing the early results of that policy. Unfortunately, these are only initial results. This is the best time of year for employment but the Coalition have set a new record of 189,120 unemployed and rising. This means that over 14 per cent of the population are unemployed.

There was a study carried out in the Bonnybrook area in conjunction with the AnCO training centre in Baldoyle. The survey showed that the level of unemployment there is 27 per cent and rising rapidly. A very striking aspect of the study is the desire of people, especially the young, to get work of any kind and to be involved in society. The policies of the Government led to this inevitable rise in unemployment. They are obviously not perturbed, their heads are in the sand and when they study the unemployment figures they must do something to change their strategy. If not, what will it be like in November, December and January next?

However, the Government are continuing their own war of words without regard for the realities of today. The Taoiseach in his speech talked about probity and made innuendoes about leadership. He adopted a holier than thou attitude but offered nothing in practical terms. What are the realities of today? There are drug pushers roaming the streets, cars are being stolen at will, criminals are flouting the law, jail birds are on enforced holidays, judges are frustrated by the Government's lack of commitment, the morale of the Garda is being undermined by convicted criminals walking about and decent, law-abiding citizens fear for their lives and property.

Does the Deputy attribute all these ills to this Government? We have been in office only six months.

In his speech the Taoiseach said:

Allied to the recent provision of new prison accommodation, this will help to expand the capacity of our system to cope with convictions.

What utter rubbish from the Taoiseach. He took £6 million from the capital programme this year. It was £17 million and it is now reduced to £11 million. That is what he did for the provision of prison accommodation. Let us talk about facts. If these problems are tackled now the Government will have our full and active support. Do not come in with documents like this for the purpose of casting more innuendoes across the floor of the House. There has to be another way. The basic strategy of this Coalition is wrong and the Government should admit that now. We are all agreed we must keep a tight set of books. Do not keep running back to 1977 or 1950. What about 1979 when we had the biggest oil price increase ever experienced, 28 dollars a barrel? Start at that point when talking about our economic situation.

The limits have been reached in our borrowing capacity but that does not prevent us carrying on with the job. We are coming very close to the point now, and this is one of the real dangers — and here I am talking from experience presently listening to people in substantial industries — where major industries will soon have to make critical decisions, decisions irrevocable for periods of 10 to 15 years ahead. We will enter a long-term cycle of depression if we are not careful now. That is the important thing, not the damage this year but the damage a long period ahead and one does not reverse the damage once one puts investment off.

It does not have to be that way. We can give hope to our people, especially our young people. We must believe in our young people and in Ireland itself and its future. We must recognise that our greatest asset is our youth and our will to work. We must be prepared to invest. For that we need a national development programme based on our assets, concentrating on agriculture, industrial exports, marketing and so on. We must concentrate on the productive side of our economy. We need that kind of programme urgently. We need to invest in it and, if we do that, we have the people who will meet the requirements of the situation.

One of the Bills passed recently dealt with the pro-life amendment. When the text of the proposed amendment was first published it received widespread approval from virtually all sections. It was only after political pressure had been built up by some Fine Gael and Labour Deputies, assisted by an outside pressure group, that the divisions within the Coalition Government gave rise to the Government's opposition to a positive pro-life amendment in any form. That opposition has led to a deliberate attempt to mislead and confuse some people as to the value of the proposed amendment.

The amendment simply extends to the life of the unborn the same protection in the same terms that has existed for over forty years for other fundamental rights such as the right to liberty and the right to life of the citizen. Under the Constitution the State already guarantees to protect the right to life of the mother and is bound to defend it. The State is also bound by the Constitution to protect the mother's life from "unjust attack". The proposed amendment does not alter these constitutional guarantees of a mother's right to life in any respect. The amendment is a positive caring proposal which will give constitutional protection to unborn life just as other rights, such as the right to liberty, to free speech, to freedom from inhuman treatment, are protected.

It is important to note that the proposed amendment specifically requires the Dáil and the Courts, when legislating for or considering the right to life of the unborn, to have due regard to the mother's constitutional right. In fact that provision precedes the protection given to the life of the unborn. Further, under the terms of the proposed amendment, the State is only bound to defend the right to life of the unborn in so far as this is practicable.

It would be wrong to suggest that the human life of the child is intrinsically more worthy or less worhty than other human life. It would be contrary to the spirit and letter of the Constitution if one fundamental human right was specified as being superior or inferior to others. This does not mean that any such right, such as the right to life of the unborn, is absolute. It is well established and our courts have recognised that none of the rights protected by the Constitution are absolute rights. Neither are the protections afforded by the Constitution absolute ones. As I have already pointed out, the amendment requires the State to defend the life of the unborn "as far as practicable". In deciding what is practicable the State must have due regard to the mother's right.

Accordingly, the amendment will not affect existing medical practice where the mother is entitled to appropriate medical treatment where her life is under threat even if such treatment would result in the loss of the child in the womb. Neither would the existing law of 1861 be affected, but the value which society places on the right to life of the unborn will be reflected in our Constitution along with the other values or fundamental rights already provided for.

It is mischievous and misleading to suggest that either the Oireachtas or the courts in having regard to the constitutional rights of the mother, and in defending the right of the unborn only as far as practicable, would in some way outlaw the accepted medical practices which have existed in our society and under our law for 200 years or more. There is nothing in the proposed amendment which restricts either the courts, the Legislature or the medical profession from exercising their power, duty or discretion to protect the right to life of the mother where her life is threatened.

Many statements have been made by groups and individuals which are designed to sow confusion in the minds of some members of the public and play on their fears. These emanate mostly from sources that are opposed to any form of positive constitutional protection for the unborn and are made primarily for this purpose.

With regard to the Criminal Justice Bill, the Taoiseach says the Bill is coming shortly. It is particularly urgent. A draft Bill was available when the Government took office and their credibility must now be questioned because of the delay in introducing such an urgent measure. The Bill will deal with many aspects of crime and lawlessness. The matter is very urgent. I accept what the Taoiseach said but I regret the Bill was not introduced as it should have been in this session. I also welcome the new Dáil select committee on crime, lawlessness and vandalism and I assure the Minister he will have our constructive support in all these matters.

We have heard a great deal about the crackdown on drugs. I am slightly concerned because the Minister has amalgamated the drug squad with the serious crime division. We specifically established last year a special project co-ordinator here as a chief superintendent for very good reasons. We believed the problem was so serious that we needed this kind of action in a separate and very specialised way. I have serious doubts about the wisdom of amalgamation. The Minister means well but I doubt the wisdom of absorbing it into the general crime division at a moment particularly when emergency action is required.

I welcome also the committees on marriage breakdown and generally on family law reform. I assure the Minister we will co-operate in the work undertaken over the recess and into the autumn.

In conclusion, I am quite serious when I say to the Government that they should revise their strategy now and look to the creation of employment in productive areas so that our rising unemployment may be somewhat curtailed and those who are depending on us for their future will see from this House and the Government an interest and an investment in their interests.

Debate adjourned.