Ceisteanna-Questions. Oral Answers. - Programme for National Recovery.

Alan M. Dukes

Question:

7 Mr. Dukes asked the Taoiseach if he has any plans for the replacement of the Programme for National Recovery by a similar or other arrangement.

As I indicated in this House on 14 February last, the Government hope that all social partners will participate in negotiations on a further programme. Since the currentProgramme for National Recovery is operative until the end of this year, discussions on a new programme will not commence until later this year.

The current programme has been an outstanding success in correcting the grave imbalances in the public finances while restoring growth to the economy, reducing unemployment and increasing employment, raising living standards through real increases in take home pay and in long-term social welfare benefits, improving our international competitiveness through lower inflation and a stable exchange rate, and substantially lowering personal income tax rates.

I am sure, therefore, that there will be widespread support for a new programme which will enable us successfully and in partnership to continue the transformation in economic and social conditions brought about by the current programme.

Would the Taoiseach not agree that the very fact of having a second programme for recovery means that we have not recovered and the first programme has not given us results? Would he also agree that it would be useful, and we have seen the benefits of this in the current programme, to have a greater input from this House into the formulation of that programme? Would he not agree that clear evidence of that is that expressions of concern in that direction by this House played a substantial role in ensuring that the Irish Congress of Trade Unions kept on with the current programme some months ago?

I do not disagree.

Could I then ask the Taoiseach what arrangements he intends to make to have a political input into the programme from this House? Could I ask him further if the Minister for Industry and Commerce has a contribution to make to the second programme, the equal of the one he made with some very incisive remarks in October 1987?

I do not want to follow the Deputy down any tendentious paths but I would agree that this House, of course, must have an opportunity to assess the new programme and hopefully have a constructive input into it. It is a bit early yet to take decisions as to how that will happen but I would be prepared to agree in principle that there should be the maximum possible input from all sections of the community into the programme.

Would the Taoiseach, therefore, undertake that the matter would be brought before this House so that this House can either agree or express a view on it, if necessary, by dividing on it?

On the last occasion we brought the programme before the House for approval and I would visualise doing the same this time.