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Seanad Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 20 Mar 1934

Vol. 18 No. 11

Central Fund Bill, 1934 (Certified Money Bill)—Second Stage.

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

As Senators will see, the Central Fund Bill is in the usual stereotyped form. Section 1 authorises the issue out of the Central Fund of the sum of £2,181,000, and its application towards making good the supply granted for the service of the financial year which is just closing. This sum represents the total of the original and such Supplementary Estimates taken for the current year as were not covered by the Appropriation Act of 1933. Section 2 makes provision in respect of the grant of £10,569,000 which has been granted by the Dáil on the Vote on Account; and Section 3 is the usual clause empowering the Minister for Finance to borrow up to the amount of £12,742,000 which is the total of the two sums referred to. As is customary, the sum required to be provided under Section 2 of the Bill is something in excess of one-third of the total Estimates for the Supply Services, the total cost of which for the coming financial year will be £29,709,000. It may be taken that the cost of the Central Fund services for the coming year will be about £5,700,000, making a total for all services for which provision will have to be made in the coming year of about £35,400,000. I should like to emphasise that a large part of this expenditure will be for works of a capital nature, the loan charges on which will be, to a large extent, self-liquidating.

The principal Votes upon which the increases occur are: the Old Age Pension Vote which accounts for an increase of over £125,000 on the amount provided last year; the Local Loans Fund where there is an increase of £2,050,000 over last year; the provision for public works and buildings which accounts for an increase of over £113,000, almost half of which is represented by increased provision for new schools and colleges; the Department of Agriculture which has an increase of £127,000, of which £90,000 is in respect of the new scheme for the purchase of oats with a view to stabilising the price of that product; primary education on which there is an increase of £98,000, largely occasioned by the increase of £294,000 in the amount to be provided for the national teachers' pensions, off-set by a decrease of £226,000 in the amount to be provided for national teachers' salaries; unemployment insurance and unemployment assistance where there is an increase of £1,303,000 as a result of providing the sum of £1,500,000 required for the purposes of the Unemployment Assistance Act, 1933. This is off-set to some extent by increased appropriations-in-aid.

On the Vote of £350,000 for relief schemes there is an apparent decrease as compared with last year of £200,000. It will be remembered that last year the original Estimate for this service was £150,000. Subsequently, the amount voted for the service was brought up by two Supplementary Estimates to £550,000. On the Land Commission Vote there is an apparent decrease of £1,526,000 due, mainly, to the elimination of two items; one of £795,000, and one of £1,403,000 which were provided last year from the Central Fund to enable certain payments to be made to the Land Bond Fund and to relieve the Guarantee Fund in respect of a deficiency in the amount of the annuities collected. These items, between them, total approximately £2,200,000. After making allowance for their elimination from the total of last year's Estimate there is a substantial increase of over £671,000 in the provision which is being made for the Land Commission which is, of course, in anticipation of the operations which will be initiated under the Land Act of 1933.

In order to avoid misunderstanding, I think it is desirable that I should point out that, over and above what was provided last year for the relief of rates on agricultural land, an additional amount of £220,000 will be granted this year, making the total amount to be provided in the coming financial year for this service £1,970,000 as compared with the £1,948,000 which was provided for the year 1931-32; that is, the year ended 31st March, 1932. No Vote for this additional amount appears on the Estimates, but as was the case last year the provision will be made by way of Supplementary Estimate which will be introduced in the Dáil after the Oireachtas has passed the necessary legislation to enable this additional grant to be made.

These are the principal items which account for the increase in the estimated cost of Supply Services for next year. These and some minor adjustments on other Votes bring the total amount required for Supply above the sum total of the original and Supplementary Estimates for last year by £1,790,000, and above the corresponding Estimates for 1931-32 by £6,779,000. As I have already indicated, a considerable portion of the increase is represented by capital expenditure on works of a reproductive nature. As an instance, I might mention the Vote for the Local Loans Fund which amounts to £4,200,000. This, together with the sum of approximately £330,000 that will be brought into the fund either in repayments of advances therefrom or interest upon these advances, will make a total of £4,500,000, which will be spent almost mainly on housing projects. I might passingly refer also to the increased expenditure upon afforestation and to the proposed expenditure upon experiments in the manufacture of industrial alcohol. As to the remainder of the increase it is almost wholly accounted for by the increased provision which is being made for old age pensions consequent upon the operation of the Old Age Pensions Act, 1932, and to the provision which is being made under the Unemployment Assistance Act of 1933 for the relief of distress occasioned by unemployment. In connection with this last mentioned provision, I should like to emphasise that the Government do not regard the provision of relief in this form as the best solution of the problem presented by the unemployed. On the contrary, they are having fully investigated the possibility of undertaking public works of a remunerative nature by which expenditure on wages will be substituted for expenditure on unemployment relief.

As the House no doubt understands, this Vote on Account is merely of a preliminary nature and all the considerations involved in the Government's programme will come up for fuller discussion on the Finance Bill and on the Appropriation Bill which will follow the Budget statement which may be anticipated in May next. The House will then have the opportunity of hearing not merely an account of the expenditure which the Government proposes to undertake, but also the manner in which that expenditure will have to be provided for. I understand that the House has been good enough to indicate that it would take all the stages of this Bill to-day and it is desirable that it should, in order that the Bill may become law before the end of the financial year, and that the necessity for the Oireachtas to sit during Holy Week will be obviated.

The policy of the present Government has left a lot of people in my part of the country with nothing to do. Although I have not yet signed up on the unemployment register, I found myself the week before last with more leisure than I knew what to do with although I might describe myself as an industrialist. Accordingly, I devoted the greater part of the day to the pursuit of £2,000,000 economy which the Minister and his colleagues led the simple people of Donegal—of whom I am one —into believing would come as a thunder-clap once they were safely enthroned in Merrion Street. My pursuit was in vain. The £2,000,000 saving was too elusive for me. Instead of a saving of £2,000,000, I found myself counting up millions of additional expenditure by this Government which made the welkin ring with their hoarse cries of economy at two general elections and is now making the welkin respond to a sweet chorus of prosperity. Indeed, one would think, to borrow the language of the immortal Mr. Dooley, that "the defeat of economy be prosperity was wan of the raysults of the election."

The actual expenditure on Supply Services in the year 1931-32, before the advent of the economisers, was £21,617,500. For this year the economisers estimate their expenditure on supplies at £27,918,715. That was a little jump of £6,000,000 odd, as the Minister has told us. For the coming year they estimate their expenditure on Supply Services at £29,709,707—an increase of £2,000,000 on top of the £6,000,000. The change of Government from extravagance, as it was called, to economy, as it is called, has cost the country £8,000,000 in two years in respect of Supply Services. Having, as a result of a deliberate and set policy of Spartan economy, run up the nation's bill by £8,000,000, I wonder what miracles of extravagance the Government would have accomplished if they set out to be a little generous! As I said, I was disappointed in my search for the elusive £2,000,000 saving. So I sought consolation for my disappointment in a perusal of the Dáil Debates of a few years ago. I spent a wet afternoon reading the speeches of the Minister for Finance and his colleagues when they were filling the rôle of Scrooge and I was really amazed at the enlightenment which I received. I had intended to cull one of these speeches from the Official Report and repeat it here verbatim. It would constitute a more telling indictment of the policy of the present Government, as disclosed in this Bill, than I could hope to formulate. I thought, however, that this method of attack might be unduly embarrassing to the Minister, so I shall trouble the Seanad with only a few counts of the indictment which Ministers have formulated against themselves. The Minister for Finance may recollect these emphatic words:

"We now see the Deputy in office. But we can remember the Deputy out of office and we can recollect how at great length he pleaded in this House the ever argued and always lost cause of the taxpayer. If ever a man burned with a passionate zeal for economy it was the Deputy. Alas, the Deputy has become one of the tax spenders. It is sad and chastening to reflect how office may corrupt even the best of men."

Has office corrupted our Minister for Finance? He was at one time an incorrigible miser as far as public moneys were concerned. Now, he steps in to us with a Bill based on an expenditure of over £29,000,000. There is an old Latin maxim, Corruptio optimi pessima est! The corruption of the best is productive of the worst. The incorruptible miser when expenditure was £25,000,000 has in office developed into a reckless profligate. He squanders not in thousands but in millions.

One of the minor economists of Fianna Fáil was accustomed to demonstrate to us—when the courts were not sitting—how the British Government ran the whole country at a lesser cost than the Cosgrave Government ran 26 counties. This Fianna Fáil economist—true to type—was a gentleman who, when in the British Parliament, voted for all the Lloyd George Budgets which trebled the taxation of this country. I am wondering what his thesis is, in connection with the cost of Government by Fianna Fáil. Since, however, he has added to the economies of the public purse by accepting a job worth £1,700 a year, we have been deprived of his expert financial assistance. So I am compelled to revert to the Minister for Finance in my search for instruction. The Minister said in the other House in March, 1931:

"On the trade for the year 1929 there was an adverse balance of £5,790,000 which we are unable to pay for out of the produce of our labour because our Government takes too much from us. It is rather a significant fact if you consider the amount paid away in the ultimate financial settlement for which the Minister for Finance was originally responsible, that it is enough almost to meet our adverse trade balance. If we were able to retain in this country the moneys paid away under that agreement we would be solvent from year to year and our position would certainly be much better off than it is."

We have retained these moneys during the past two years and how much better off are we? Our adverse trade balance of £5,790,000, as then stated by the Minister-to-be, has been swollen to £16,000,000, and our total external trade has shrunk from £108,000,000 to £55,000,000. That is what the opportunist policy adumbrated by Deputy MacEntee in the speech I have quoted has yielded the country.

Let me pass for a moment to that bright professor of optimism, the Minister for Industry and Commerce. He is now the Mark Tapley of the Cabinet. He fails to see the cloud because of the silver lining. But his optimism is newborn. It is only when our total expenditure borders on £40,000,000 that Mr. Lemass rises to the giddy heights of optimism. When our expenditure was £26,000,000—a mere fleabite as the Minister for Finance would say—Mr. Lemass was a glum and gloomy pessimist. Here is what he then said:

"If we are going to solve the problem of unemployment, if we are going to remove the cause of depression in agriculture, if we are going to give Irish industry a chance, we must reduce the burden of taxation."

The way in which Mr. Lemass and his friends now proceed "to give industry a chance" is by shovelling on millions to the burden of the taxpayer. In fact the bigger the bill the more exuberant becomes the optimism of Mr. Lemass.

And the same applies to the unemployment figures. Unemployment, according to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, reached its peak point a couple of months ago. But the peculiarity about this Fianna Fáil peak point is that it has been steadily climbing ever since. Nevertheless, Mr. Lemass, who critically examined the Cosgrave expenditure of £25,000,000 in the Dáil in 1930 was not as cheerful a person as the Minister for Industry and Commerce. He then pointed out that the number of persons in receipt of outdoor relief had increased in two years from 16.7 per thousand to 19.9 per thousand, and he said:

"If 2 per cent. of the people of this State have to be maintained out of public charity does it not indicate that the prosperity about which we hear so much at Cumann na nGaedheal meetings is largely illusory?"

Last November the number in receipt of home assistance, which is the current euphemism for outdoor relief, was 131,000 as against 59,352 in 1929. It takes a great deal of optimism to counteract an increase of over 100 per cent. in the number of persons in receipt of public charity, but I have no doubt that the Minister will assure us that the greater the number of home assistance recipients the more prosperous we are.

In order to vary the monotony of pessimism may I give you another quotation from the Minister for Finance. Speaking on the Vote on Account in 1931 and after painting the condition of the country in the darkest hues, the Minister said:

"I know if President Cosgrave were here he would tell us how prosperous the country is. The President is a confirmed believer in auto-suggestion. He is the Mary-Make-Believe of Irish politics. He lives in a world of unreality, moving about from place to place surrounded by a handful of prosperous people. He believes that the whole condition of this country is prosperous. If he had to go to the country as we go week after week—not to meet prominent people—not to meet a few prosperous business people in every town—but to meet the mass of the people whom we see Sunday after Sunday coming out of country churches—those who have to toil and moil from morning to night—and ask them their opinion whether they enjoyed prosperity, he would know, as we know, that there is more hardship and more want at present than there has been at any time during the present generation."

There was hardship and want when our register of unemployment had about 30,000 names and when our home assistance lists numbered 50,000. Now that unemployment has increased to 100,000 and home assistance recipients number 133,000 we are enjoying a spell of profuse prosperity. I wish the Minister would act on the advice he gave a couple of years ago. If he pays a visit to my county he will moderate his views as to the teeming abundance of the good things which the people are enjoying under a Fianna Fáil Administration. And let me remind the Minister that the purchase of chronometers is not a test of the prosperity of the farmers as he seems to think. The importation of clocks and watches could be readily explained. The people are counting the minutes until they get an opportunity of enriching private life with the presence of the Fianna Fáil Ministers.

In the meantime I would recommend Ministers to do a little research work, just as I have been doing, into their own history. As a beginning let them read from their own speeches of a few years ago, if they are not too nauseating to them. For instance, let the Minister for Finance read the speech he made on the Central Fund Bill, 1930, when he was deprecating increased taxation:

"Last year our total export trade amounted to £46,061,000. That represented the gross out-turn of this community, and all that out-turn had to be sold in a very competitive market. It is possible that during the coming year competition in that market will be further intensified, but there is an added factor to be taken into consideration, viz., that during the coming year that market will be a rapidly falling one and, therefore, one in which the producers' margin of profit will tend continuously to diminish. In these unfavourable conditions and in face of diminishing profits, what will happen if the Minister imposes further taxation upon the producers of this country? It will represent an increase in the cost of production for which the producer cannot seek to compensate himself by asking higher prices. He will be between two fires —I had almost said between two thieves—his competitors abroad and the Minister's tax-gatherers at home. What will happen? He will either give up the ghost and cease to produce, or he will endeavour to reduce the immediate, but not the ultimate, cost of production by decreasing wages, by declining to make proper provision for the maintenance and development of his plant and industry and by reducing his personal expenditure. By ceasing to produce he directly creates unemployment and becomes unemployed himself. By reducing wages he reduces the purchasing power of his employees, and by failing to maintain and develop his own concern he creates unemployment in all the ancillary industries which depend upon his."

I think the Minister might profitably read that speech again, and that the Minister for Industry and Commerce could also read what he said when the Central Fund Bill, 1931, was being discussed, when he expressed his alarm at what he termed "the definite diminution of our wealth-producing capacity." One of the principal causes, according to Mr. Lemass, was that our cattle population had considerably decreased during the previous ten years. Now, under Fianna Fáil's beneficent rule, the cattle population has so immoderately increased that Mr. Lemass proposes to slaughter them in order, I presume, to improve our wealth-producing capacity. The most dazzling gem in the Central Fund Bill debate of 1931 was the contribution of President de Valera, in which he proved beyond doubt that an actual increase in the Estimates of £138,646 was, owing to depression and a fall in agricultural prices, really an increase of £6,000,000. As this was so characteristically de Valerian I hope the Seanad will excuse me if I read it verbatim:

"We find, as I have said at the outset, that the Estimates, as introduced this year, show an actual increase of £138,646. That is not a fair picture of the situation at all, because in the interval we know that the value of money, as shown by the cost of living indices, or the wholesale prices which the farmer gets for his produce, has appreciated.

"With reference to all these indices we find that the actual increase is very much greater, and the burden on the community is very much greater than is indicated by that increase. So that instead of cutting down, the fact is that the cost of all these services is gone up, and, with increased cost in other directions, one would have expected that the Minister for Finance would not ignore directions in which substantial savings could be made.

"Between January, 1930, and January, 1931, there was 7.3 per cent. fall in the cost of living. If we take that into account and make a corresponding reduction in the Estimates as introduced last year, the reduction would amount to £1,728,000, or, in other words, this year's Estimate represents an increase of that amount. There was a 19.6 per cent. fall in wholesale prices between January, 1930, and January, 1931. If we make a corresponding reduction in the Estimate as introduced last year we find that this year's Estimate represents an increase of £4,460,000 odd. There is a 16.2 per cent. fall in the index of wholesale food prices. Taking that figure, we find that the Estimates represent an advance of £3,667,000 odd. If we take into account the decrease in the price of the produce which the farmer, who is our largest taxpayer, has to dispose of—take the fall in the price of fat cattle in the Dublin market between March, 1930, and March, 1931—we find that it represents to him—the person who has to sell cattle in order to provide for taxation—an increase of £3,362,000 odd. If we take fat sheep similarly this year as compared with March, 1930, we find there is a fall of 27.5 per cent., and it would represent a total increase to him of over £6,000,000."

Perhaps the Minister for Finance would apply the President's arithmetic to the present estimate, or, alternatively, turn them into gold ounces. In the same speech the President said that the offices of the various Departments were overstaffed with civil servants, whose numbers should be reduced, and he advocated £1,000 a year as the maximum salary for Ministers and civil servants. He pointed out that to the workers and farmers, from whom the bulk of the taxation came, salaries of £1,000 a year seemed a fabulous sum. Now, the President has increased the number of civil servants in almost every Department of the State, and he does not think even £1,500 a year a fabulous sum to give in addition to his pension, to a distinguished professor of pedagogy recently appointed to a public position. The President seems to have a weakness for pensioners, as one of the first things he did when he took office was to appoint a pensioner brother of a distinguished public functionary of this State to a public position worth £1,000 a year, plus his pension of £700. The Labour Party that stands for one man one job never uttered a protest. These things show how utterly sincere was all the talk of economy by Fianna Fáil before they secured office. They were almost eloquent then. Nobody was more eloquent than the President about the iniquity of a poor country like—ours spending £1,600,000 on a police force, and a similar sum on the Army.

In the speech from which I have just quoted, President de Valera declared that a saving of £600,000 could be effected on each of these Estimates, or £1,200,000 for both. Now he and his Government have increased the cost of both, and, in the case of the Army, they are spending £250,000 a year more, on what is practically a new army. But the most sinister increase of all is the increase in the Vote for Secret Service for which £25,000 is now estimated. When I saw this jump from £2,000 actual expenditure to £25,000 in the Secret Service Vote I came to the conclusion that the Minister for Finance had been visiting the cinemas, and had been suddenly struck with the idea of dotting the Continent with a bevy of beautiful Irish spies, who would steal the dispatch cases from unsuspecting diplomats, or perhaps lure foreign representatives of Britain into a disclosure of Mr. Thomas's intentions regarding the tax on stall-feds. My speculation was strengthened by the recollection that when the Ministry set out on its policy of making Ireland Gaelic, by posturing at a cinema show in this city, the title of the film was, I think, "Grand Hotel," which the Fianna Fáil newspaper described as a story of "wine, women and crime." We have had the crime in plenty and I suppose a share of the wine, too. When the increased Secret Service Estimate appeared, I thought the moment had come for the introduction of the women. However, I was amazed to find that the Minister proposes to spend the £25,000 on a new home industry—internal espionage. The £25,000 is to be spent in spying on an organisation which the Ministry hope to outlaw. This sum has been described by the Minister as a mere flea-bite. It may be a flea-bite to the Minister, but the Merrion Street fleas have evidently capacious jaws, and to the man in the street the sum represents the cost of 60 or 70 decent houses annually. I think we are entitled to know what the policy of the Ministry is in connection with this huge sum, which is to be handed out to secret agents. Is any of the money to be handed over to the gentlemen who spied on General Mulcahy in Glasgow? Are the tottering finances of Fianna Fáil clubs throughout the country to be buoyed up by donations from the Secret Service Fund for spying on political opponents? If a Government can only exist by suborning agents to the extent of practically £1,000 per county, then its mandate is at an end, and it should do the decent thing, get out, before the populace is completely corrupted by bribes and secret donations.

I notice, too, that in addition to secret information the Government is providing for public information. We are to have an information bureau. According to the President the function of the bureau will be to let the world know the truth. Well, I sincerely hope not. I found in a recent issue of the Dáil Debates sufficient admissions of outrage, murder and crime to damage our reputation for all time, if advertised to the world. Although these outrages were perpetrated against members of the Party with which I am associated, and although in most cases no arrests were made, I sincerely hope that the Press Bureau will not be used to tell the world the truth about them. What the present administration require is a Press Bureau to keep the truth from the world. Perhaps that will be its function. When defending the increased figures in his Estimates in the Dáil, the Minister for Finance argued that this expenditure would be productive. Let me quote against him an equally convincing authority:

"It is no counter to this argument to contend that some of the expenditure now contemplated will be productive. It cannot be immediately productive... The benefit of it, though possibly certain, is shadowy or remote. But the burden of it is not only certain but substantial and immediate. Some of the heads... will be productive, but the cost of them ought to be met, not by imposing fresh taxation, but by retrenchments in regard to services which are not productive and some of which are merely parasitical. If the Minister proposes to make further provision in regard to local loans, he ought to compensate the taxpayer for that provision by securing a corresponding economy, say, in the Gárda Síochána or in the Pensions or Superannuation Vote."

That was the advice of the Minister for Finance out of office. I commend it to him, now that he is scattering millions about with so lavish a hand. But I have no hope that he will accept his own advice. He is now Minister for Extravagance in an extravagant Government, and he will go on spending until all the resources, so carefully husbanded by his predecessors, have been dissipated. When the crisis comes I have no doubt that President de Valera will meet it with an elaborate explanation of his own bona fides and personal honesty, as remote from the issue as Kerry is from Cornwall.

This Government is dispoiling the country. If they continue for a few more years they will leave the country as bare as the rocks of my native county. That they have been able to carry on so long is a tribute, not to themselves, but to the thrift of their predecessors. When the store is spent the day of reckoning will come. Those who are wasting the nation's assets, and demoralising the people in the doing of it, must take the responsibility for their actions.

I am afraid that my remarks will be of a more prosaic character than those of the last speaker. I am very much concerned with another aspect of the Bill—the growth and complexity of public expenditure and the inadequacy of the accounting system to keep pace with it. I do not propose to raise this whole question now but it is time our method of public accountancy was overhauled and that there was a clear understanding as to the separation of capital and revenue items. In the case of local loans, there should be a proper setting out of the interest received, which does not appear in the estimates at all. There should be a different method of dealing with grants-in-aid and there should be some means of showing what are our outstanding liabilities at the end of the financial year. This is not a subject that can be debated now. It is a highly technical subject and I intend to bring it up again. I ask the Minister seriously to consult his advisers as to whether the time has not come when there should be an examination by experts of the whole of our public accounting system, so that it would be brought up to date and be able to deal with the growing complexity of public services. It is unsuited to this purpose at present.

When Senator MacLoughlin was quoting an extract from one of the speeches of the Minister for Finance in which the Minister referred to the then Government "giving up the ghost," it struck me that to quote the speeches of Deputy MacEntee to the present Minister for Finance was like troubling Macbeth with the ghost of Banquo. I could imagine the Minister being reminded of that episode in the still hours of the night and cowering before that accusing finger of the shade of his past as the spectre addressed him in the words in Macbeth:

"Avaunt! and quit my sight. Let the earth hide thee!

Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold;

Thou hast no speculation in those eyes,

Which thou dost glare with."

To-day, the Minister will suggest that there is no speculation in those eyes. But two or three years ago there was speculation in the eyes of Deputy MacEntee. There was denunciation in his words and prophecy in his voice—denunciation of the extravagance of the then Ministry and prophecy of the economies which his Party would make when they came into power. What is the position to-day? That the economiser has turned prodigal and spendthrift, that the prophet of yesterday is the callous unbeliever of to-day.

Speaking of spirits, there is a saying:—"You can call spirits from the vasty deep but will they come?" As to the probability of response to such invitations on the part of spirits, I cannot say anything, but I do know that we can call Senator Comyn, of 1931, to give testimony on the issues to be discussed here to-day. Will he come? If he does, he will appear here as a veritable Daniel come to judgment. Speaking on the Central Fund Bill here on the 25th March, 1931, Senator Comyn made these observations:—

"The farmer, who pays for all, is in a somewhat worse position than he was in 1914."

I wonder is he better off to-day.

"So far as I can judge, the prices of the commodities which he sells are about the same, or a little less, than the prices he received in 1914. The profits of the farmer are much less than they were in 1914. Speaking in large terms, the farmer's income is the only resource of this State; yet there is no curtailment of expenditure. There seems to be no diminution whatever in the large unproductive expenditure which is represented by this Bill and by other Bills which have passed through the Seanad. There seems to be no lessening of speed in the race we have been running for the last eight or nine years."

That was simply a prelude to a more severe indictment. Remember, that in 1931 the Estimates were £6,700,000 less than the Estimates before us at the present time. Senator Comyn commented in this way on the Estimates for 1931:—

"In the matter of expenditure, we are endeavouring to run parallel with the British Government, the Government of a great empire. I suggest to the Minister that he must take a bold course and take it soon. He must scale down his expenditure and the savings which will result from that scaling down must go towards the stopping of the decay in agriculture and the revival of other industry. I mention agriculture because it is the one industry which is capable of absorbing quickly the greatest number of young people. I suppose the Minister has heard comments of this description both in public and private and, no doubt, he must be weary of them, but I hope that, by constant repetition, they will have some effect upon his mind.... We are living on a scale that could only be justified if our great industry of agriculture and our other industries were in a highly flourishing condition. In 1879-1880, the landlords lived just as the English landlords lived; they ran parallel with the English landlords. They broke themselves in the process, and, as the older Senators amongst us know, we had the terrible scenes of the land war. Our Government to-day is collecting more than ever the landlords collected."

The Government then were collecting £6,700,000 less than the present Government proposes to collect.

"They are trying to run on lines equal to the British Government. They are endeavouring to equal the British Government in everything and even to exceed the British Government where possible. We are working on a grand scale, but I may tell the Minister confidently that this thing cannot last. I have gone to the country and met people and I assure the Minister that the existing condition of things will not last. Something must be done in order to find employment for the young men and women, and I suggest that it can only be done by making big savings in our existing extravagant system of administration."

Those were the words of a man who is to-day the most effective spokesman in this House on behalf of the Government. He was dealing with Estimates of close on £7,000,000 less than the Estimates which the Minister comes here to-day to sponsor and justify. The absence of Senator Comyn to-day shows, I think, that he would not have the heart to stand up and back the Minister in making this demand. The argument which the Minister put forward as justifying this increase seems to be that the Government have embarked upon expensive new enterprises, or additions to enterprises commenced by their predecessors. That is not facing the issue which the Government will have to face. They went to the country and appealed to the electors to return them on the plea that the cost of administration could be reduced by £2,000,000 per annum without impairing the efficiency of the public services. They did not go to the country and say that they proposed to increase, in two or three years, the expenditure of the State by £6,000,000 or £7,000,000. They said: "We propose to reduce expenditure by £2,000,000." If, in 1932, the fortunes of the political contest had gone against the present Government Party and they had been left in the wilderness and the Cosgrave Administration, retaining power, had presented in the year 1934 an Estimate such as is presented to-day, would Deputy MacEntee be defending that Estimate as necessary expenditure? I venture to say that he and his Party would still be maintaining the position they took up in 1932, that the figure for that year was £2,000,000 in excess. If this increase of £6,700,000 were presented by the Cosgrave Administration, I have no doubt that the present Minister would stand up in the Dáil and vehemently declare that the Estimate was £8,000,000 or £9,000,000 in excess of what it should be. That is the issue that the Minister has to face. Because the Government have embarked on certain new forms of Government activity, they cannot be allowed to run away from their declarations of 1931 and 1932.

Now I want to ask the Minister if it is proposed to use the broadcasting services of this State for the purpose of Party propaganda. If so, are the leaders of Parties other than the Government Party, to have equal facilities for broadcasting the points of view of their Party? I take it that broadcasting the President's address to America, in connection with the St. Patrick's Day festival, was at the cost of the State. I take it that the broadcasting service is not the property of the Fianna Fáil Party and that it is part of the State's offices. If it is to be used by one Party, for broadcasting their propaganda point of view, then, I take it, that in fairness to the other Parties in the State, they are going to be given the same facilities in broadcasting their point of view. The only drawback that presents itself is that if that is to happen probably the war in the air, as Senator O'Farrell predicted last week, would arrive far more quickly than was at first anticipated. On the whole, I think it would be better if Party politics and frolics were kept out of that part of the State's administration. I want the Minister to take a note of that, and to let me know what he proposes to say either in justification of propaganda by this method for one Party, or also to inform us if it is an indication that the leaders of the other Parties are to have the same facilities in this matter. I care not what the Government Press may say on this matter. There is a leading article in to-day's issue of the Irish Press upon a matter, but I do not mind what that paper says. I say that the President broadcasted a statement of Party policy and not a statement of national character. If the Party in office are to use this broadcasting system for promoting propaganda then, in fairness to the citizens of the State, and in order that people abroad listening may get a clear, balanced conception of what is the political situation, the leaders of the other Parties in the State should get an opportunity of availing themselves of this means of presenting their views.

Senator MacLoughlin referred to many things, but I think he omitted to refer to subsidies. He covered the matter of the Army, the Civic Guard, the Press Bureau, and so forth. I want to get some information on other matters. I am glad to see the Minister here to-day and I am glad he has recovered from his recent indisposition. I hope he will not have a relapse as a result of the thunderous appeals made to him here to-day. Perhaps the Minister might enlighten us as to the purpose of the subsidies that are mentioned here. I think it is understood generally that they are to assist Irish agriculturists during the continuance of the economic war. If that is the reason I am glad the Minister for Finance is here because in January, 1933, he assured his hearers that the economic war was over long ago. He said, speaking at Bantry in January 7th, 1933:

"It must be clear to every honest man in the country that the Free State have won the economic war, and that the victory as everyone will admit has been achieved with the minimum of hardship."

I am quite sure the Minister cannot have been wrong in that statement. The king can do no wrong, and surely the Minister for Finance, with his finger on the economic pulse of the nation, could not be so deceived and misled as to make such a statement as that without knowing that he was perfectly right. Either the Minister was wrong then, or he is wrong now in continuing these subsidies. As a matter of fact I think he was wrong then. I think the Minister's whole political career, since he took the wrong turning, has been like what the Minister for Industry and Commerce once described as the economic policy of the present Government—a system of trial by error. The unfortunate part of it is that neither the Minister for Finance, nor the Minister for Industry and Commerce, has to pay for these trials by error. The people who have to bear the cost of these erroneous experiments and experiences are the people of the State. The present Government got into power by the tricks of the confidence man. I say that deliberately and advisedly, and they are, apparently, prepared to retain their power, if they have to, by the methods of the gangster.

In the discussion in the Dáil the other day the Minister for Industry and Commerce seemed to resent some newspaper description of the present Government as a gangster Government. I would hardly put it that way, but I would say they are suffering from the gangster complex. They regard power and authority here as their racket, and anyone coming between them and their purpose must be, so to speak, bumped off politically. That is not the view of an Irish authority that is going to get us anywhere. I have been studying closely, and with a critical eye, the outlook of the Ministry as indicated by their expressions and acts. The conclusion I have come to is this: that they do not appreciate the fact that they are exercising the functions of Government, but that they simply seek to regard themselves as the advance guard of some kind of political movement, and that they have secured control of office as a kind of tactical advantage for that Party that is going to have the administration of affairs in Ireland. That conception of their psychology appears to permeate the whole mind of the Ministry. The question whether taxation is to be raised, and how it is to be spent, is gauged, not by what the country needs and can stand, but how it is to be used to secure Party advantage for that particular Party of which they regard themselves as the custodians, and not the custodians of the nation's rights and interest. It is a serious and sad thing that that conception of authority should exist in the mind of any seriously-minded persons in the State. I say that because I am not trying to make a cheap superficial score, but because it is in essence the condition and reality of the present Party in power to-day. Until that conception is dropped and until people who take office realise that once they take office they cease, so far as the country's authority goes, to be the mere spokesmen of a Party and that they are the custodians of the rights of all the citizens—until they realise that they must be prepared to meet with relentless and ruthless criticism of every activity they embark upon in the State.

I spoke of the Party opposite having secured power by the methods of the confidence man. I have here an advertisement issued by the Fianna Fáil Party. I do not think the present Government likes to hear about advertisements, but perhaps as this may not have been quoted before, I had better refer to it. It declares that the trade balance jumped in 1932 from £10,000,000 to £13,000,000. But it has jumped higher still. The momentum of the jump was not then exhausted. The jump now is something like £16,000,000, if not more. The trade of the country, both import and export, dropped in 1932-33 by £32,000,000. What is the justification of the Minister? I think if the Minister appeared here to-day in the manner and in the attire which he ought to appear in properly, he would come here clothed in sackcloth and ashes and he would confess that this Government have failed, in what they undertook, when they assumed office, and that he had now to announce that they were withdrawing from this office, having realised their incapacity to do what they had undertaken to do. We have had, as the Minister confesses, an increase of close on £7,000,000 over the Estimates for 1931-32, and so far as I can see, or gauge, from the suggestions of the Minister and from his further activities, next year's Estimates will amount to another increase and so on. When is the limit going to be reached? Senator Comyn said this thing cannot last.

I know the Minister for Industry and Commerce has said we are only at the beginning of the enterprise. We who studied these Estimates, and who follow the cost of the various Government Departments, must realise that practically every Bill that is passed in the Oireachtas means an addition to the annual Budget of the State. One of the defects, though not the outstanding defect, which was observable in the Minister's statement, and which I hope he will be able to deal with in his reply, is that although he gave us a brief analysis or a summary of the various expenditures, he did not show us any indication that the limit had been reached, or, if not yet, the time when it was going to be reached and when we might expect some retrenchment and some step towards that economy which was promised before the present Government secured office. I remember once the late Tom Kettle said that if the Parliament of a people spent half the year discussing its estimates it would be time well spent. Now I often thought there was a great deal of truth in that, and the more I study the Fianna Fáil finance the more I am beginning to think it is not six months but 12 months we should have to concentrate upon the Estimates presented to us. The one thing I want to finish on is the note in Senator Comyn's speech: "This thing cannot last." There is a limit beyond which we can pass—I am not sure we have not already passed it—but the passing of it means State bankruptcy, which the present Government faces with a degree of complacency. Their former aim was to dismantle this State. They are now in charge of the administration of the State. Whether their real and ultimate object is to complete the work which they set out on in the beginning, namely, to dismantle the State, I do not know, but certainly judging by their finances they seem to have made up their minds that the taxpayer and tax-gatherer will achieve what the bomb and the petrol can failed to achieve.

I notice that in the Estimates the Minister for Agriculture looks for roughly £8,000 to endow the Veterinary College and Veterinary Research. To my mind, this is a ridiculously small sum. I would like the Minister to look into the cost of these services in other countries, particularly in South Africa. There the Government voted for these purposes £90,000 a year. Over £200,000 was given in the last few years in England plus £30,000 a year for these purposes and other countries trying to improve their live-stock health and the people's health as well, are spending to-day very large sums of money, indeed, for these services. Ours seems to me, for an agricultural country, altogether out of proportion. I will take up the time of the House by giving a few more particulars. In the first place this is essentially an agricultural country which must, by the very nature of its soil and climate, be largely concerned in animal husbandry and all that appertains thereto. It must on that account take steps to ensure the preservation of the health and well-being of its stock and ward off the diseases to which they are subject. That work has both a direct and indirect bearing on public health. To produce healthy animal products is of the very essence of public health measures, and this can only be accomplished when investigation and research go hand in hand with control measures. No progressive agricultural country can afford to neglect the research into animal diseases which are playing havoc among the animal population. These diseases have in some cases an adverse effect on human life; they retard the prosperity of the country and naturally the health of the people, and they interfere with the economic production of healthy animal food. Moreover, with improvements in the health of animals which may result from the fruits of research an increased value and demand will ensue for the animals intended for export. To indicate the direction in which veterinary research may have valuable results some examples may be given— tuberculosis in cattle, pigs and poultry. In this as in other countries, tuberculosis is common among these three species of animals and the percentage of infected animals is not by any means low. The percentage of infected cattle is got chiefly from slaughterhouse statistics. The Dublin public slaughterhouse statistics for cattle give the following:—Cows suffering from tuberculosis, 33 per cent.; bullocks, 9 per cent.; heifers, 6 per cent., and there is no reason to believe that is not at all unrepresentative of the conditions in the country. The average percentage of pigs infected at the time of slaughter has been shown to be about 10 per cent.

The importance of the position, therefore, is two-fold. In the first place there is the public health aspect. There is the danger of infection, particularly among children, from the drinking of milk from cows affected with tuberculosis or advanced tuberculosis and although the number of cows responsible for infection of the milk in this country is comparatively low—probably not more than 2 per cent. of the total—yet their milk will contaminate a considerably larger quantity when mixed with other milks for sale purposes. The remaining tuberculosis cattle are potential dangers. Some of them will come to the stage when the milk is infected. The exact percentage of people affected in this country from tuberculosis milk is not ascertained but probably it is not very short of that estimate for countries where the deaths from bovine tuberculosis have been put down as representing 6 per cent. of the total deaths from tuberculosis. The public health aspect of tuberculosis in the other animals is also of considerable importance in view of the fact that the cooking of the flesh of these animals when prepared for food is often insufficient to destroy tubercle bacilli which may be present in infected tissues. It is largely on that account that so much of the edible tissues of cattle and pigs are condemned in the abattoir. The economic losses from the disease are also of very great importance, partly because of this bearing of the disease on public health. They include the loss from death, depreciation and condition in value, reduction in the milk supply and from the condemnation of carcases and offal at the abattoirs in the interests of public health. Probably the latter losses are the heaviest. I have a rough estimate of the number of cattle affected with tuberculosis, but as I cannot vouch for them, it might only alarm people to be told what the probable extent of the disease is. It might be asked how can research be initiated in connection with this disease to reduce losses and the danger of human infection. We have the tuberculin test at hand by which the bulk of the infected animals can be identified, and if funds were available for research the disease could be eradicated. In any case the cost of rapid extermination would be too heavy in view of the estimates of infected animals. Research, therefore, into methods of vaccination to immunise against the disease and prevent its appearance in young animals could do much to lighten the burden in a scheme of eradication of this serious affection. The eradication of tuberculosis in cattle would do much to lessen the disease in pigs in which the losses from condemnation in this country are not less than £6,000 annually. Another disease of importance is contagious abortion in cattle. This is rampant in various areas and especially among the larger herds. Its cause is known and much has been learned to demonstrate how the disease can be eradicated and the animals rendered immune.

In many countries like, America, South Africa, and to some extent in Great Britain, large annual grants are given for veterinary research, and where the work has been going on for some time the fruits have been abundant and have more than justified the time and money spent. In South Africa, as I mentioned, £90,000 is being spent on veterinary research and teaching. The two go together. I would like to ask the Minister for Finance to consult the Minister for Agriculture on this matter. Anything that is going to lessen disease will add to the external value of our stock and will also help us to find better and bigger markets for the stock we have to sell, and, therefore, I would like to ask him to consult the Departments concerned and if possible to add to this sum something more for veterinary teaching and research.

I do not propose to follow the other speakers into the various criticisms of the Bill or Budget before us, but I should like to ask the Minister to let us have definitely some explanatory figures. I should like to know, for instance, what was the cost of running the country in 1931, deducting from it the non-recurrent charges and the capital that was spent and I want the same figures for 1932, 1933, 1934 and 1935. What I would point out is this: in 1914 the revenue of this country was estimated at £12,000,000. The expenditure in the country was calculated to be £14,000,000, and then the cost of old age pensions, which was really what ran up the total cost, made the adverse balance in the profit and loss account because it was not lower, I believe, than the cost of old age pensions to-day. I think it was read out while the Senator was not here what Senator Comyn said that two or three years ago the prices then ruling were if anything rather less than in 1914. Now, according to this Bill of costs that we have before us to-day, the gross expenditure on the Free State will be £35,000,000, whereas in 1914 that same figure for the whole of the country was only £14,000,000. There are two very serious things to consider when we are taking these figures into account. First of all, as Senator MacLoughlin says, it looks very much as if we are embarking on an expenditure that will really render the country insolvent, but, supposing the country is able to survive, I do not think there is one of us here who does not look forward to the day when we shall have a united Ireland. We hope that one of these days Ireland from the centre to the sea will be one and undivided. Well, if we have to go to negotiate with the Six Counties and it is found that we are spending £35,000,000 or probably more in running our State, I do not think that the hard-headed business people of the North of Ireland will be very much inclined to take a favourable view of our proposal to join up and become part of this State of ours. I think that is a very important point. I do not want to go into all the accusations that can be hurled at the present Minister. We know perfectly well, of course, that when we do not have to do a thing it seems a much simpler job than when we have actually to undertake it, but there are two matters which I would ask the Minister to bear in mind—first of all, that if this expenditure goes on it will almost necessarily mean that this country will become insolvent, and, secondly, that if it does become insolvent it will certainly mean that we shall have no chance of getting a peaceful settlement with the North, which is the only settlement that I look forward to.

I should like to draw attention to the item of £7,500 for the hiring of halls. Are these the halls in which the new volunteer forces are going to carry out their drills and their training? When that amount is to be spent, we ought to know the purposes for which the halls are going to be used. We know perfectly well that they are going to be Fianna Fáil propaganda halls. Already attention has been drawn to the number of State services that are being used for Party purposes—the broadcasting station and several others. A large amount of money which belongs to the State is being used for Party purposes. Attention has already been called to the proposed expenditure of £25,000 for Secret Service, otherwise for spying on the Blue Shirts. What they have to spy on or what the necessity for spying on the Blue Shirts is I cannot tell, nor can anybody connected with them. Everything they do is above board for everyone to see. These are two items which I should like the Minister to explain when replying.

Senator MacLoughlin in the course of his long, and sometimes amusing, speech adverted to statements which were made by us prior to the change of Government in 1931-32 and asked us what we had done to give effect to our pledges. He asked me to justify the fact that I had admitted that the estimated expenditure on Supply Services for the coming year would exceed the total amount of money expended by our predecessors for similar services in the year 1931-32 by £6,973,000. That is quite easy. If we take the one item of local loans alone, the amount which was provided for the year 1931-32 was £730,000. This year we propose to provide a sum of £4,539,000, showing an increased expenditure on local loans of £3,809,000. For public health works of various kinds and for peat development we propose this year to provide £350,000, as against £140,000 provided by our predecessors for the same purpose in 1931-32. In free grants for housing we propose to provide £406,000 as against £212,000 provided by our predecessors. For the improvement of estates this year in the Land Commission Vote we are providing £250,000 as against £239,000 provided by our predecessors, and for afforestation £121,000 as against £64,000. For the provision of milk for necessitous children, we are providing £100,000 as against nothing by our predecessors. For an experiment to ascertain whether it is practicable to introduce the manufacture of industrial alcohol into this country, we are providing £102,000 as against nothing by our predecessors. For the relief of rates on agricultural land the amount which this year we will be providing is £1,970,000 as against £1,948,000 by our predecessors. For educational services we are providing this year £4,320,000 as against £4,336,000 provided by our predecessors. For a wheat bounty we are providing £120,000 as against nothing by our predecessors. These items alone, or the interest on these items, account for about £4,640,000. For unemployment assistance we are providing £1,500,000. For old age pensions we are providing £700,000 more than was provided in 1931-32, making the total approximately £6,840,000.

Those figures may be subject to correction, but they are merely a few items taken out at random. I have no doubt that if I were to go through the whole of the Estimates in detail, I could account for a very much larger amount, and I could show a very much larger increased expenditure on services which I think even Senator MacLoughlin would not categorise as undesirable and unnecessary. That is not taking into consideration the £2,225,000 which is provided for export bounties and subsidies. The Senator made the usual debating point about the unemployment figures. The Senator is a business man with a long experience of business life and he knows very well that when there is a prospect of getting something for nothing, simply by putting down one's name, you will have a good many more people than are entitled to benefit putting down their names in advance in the hope that subsequent investigations will not show that they are not entitled to the relief which they claim.

The present figure for the registered unemployed is undoubtedly very highly inflated. There are many persons who are not genuinely seeking employment registering in the hope, as I have said, that they will be able to conceal their true conditions from the investigating officer. Many others have registered, who are in possession of land and other property, and who have means of subsistence other than as wage earners. A considerable number have put down their names also, who are not in fact employable and for whom relief would have to be provided in some other way. It is only after the unemployment assistance scheme has been in operation for some appreciable time, and when the investigation staff has been at work for a reasonable period, that, for the first time in this country, we shall be able to secure figures for unemployment which are reliable, or which can carry any real weight in serious debate. I am confident when those figures are ascertained that, at any rate, it will be seen that, even without taking into consideration at all the fact that our population is increasing yearly, the position in regard to unemployment is no worse—and I am putting it at its worst—than it has been at any time since 1923. I feel also that if we had the comparable basic figures for the years 1923-24, 1924-25 or even 1930-31, that the present condition of affairs would show an improvement on those periods.

Senator Sir John Keane asked could there not be some investigation into the present accountancy system of the State. I am not convinced that an investigation of that sort is pressingly urgent. I am not prepared to say that it might not be, from the point of view of the statistician and the student, desirable that such an investigation should take place but I could not agree under present circumstances, with all Government Departments working at high pressure, that such an investigation should be launched because I am not certain that the results, which would accrue from it, would justify the expenditure of very valuable time which it would necessitate. I may also say that there is a very considerable amount of information given as to the financial condition of the Exchequer and of the State in various publications. We have very full information given in the Finance Accounts which are published each year. We have also information in the Estimates of receipts and expenditure which are published as a White Paper. We have a good deal of that information collated in the statistical abstract which has been published annually since 1931. In addition, each year when the financial statement is presented to the Dáil the Minister for Finance has to justify to the Dáil his classification of expenditure into what might be described as capital or non-recurrent expenditure and recurrent expenditure which might be properly met out of taxation. I think that a study of these statements, which have been made every year since the Free State was instituted, would give any student of this subject, any student of political economy, a very true presentation of the financial condition of the State as a whole.

I do not know whether I should follow Senator Milroy into his barnstorming quotations from Shakespeare, but I should like to correct him in regard to one particular. He said that the Government in 1931-32 was collecting £7,000,000 less than the Government of to-day. Now, I think Senator Milroy must have been under a slight misapprehension because it is not to be taken from the Estimates, which have been presented and the statement which I have made to-day, that the Government propose to collect £7,000,000 more from the taxpayers this year than was collected in 1931-32.

Where is the money to come from?

The Senator will have to wait and see.

Who pays?

The Senator also asked whether it was proposed to use the broadcasting system for Party purposes. I am not aware that it is the policy of the Government to use the broadcasting station for Party purposes, and I would flatly deny that the Government have ever done so. The President's address has been referred to, and Senator Milroy has taken it that that address was made at the expense of the State. Well, I do not think it was. I think that address was broadcast by arrangement with certain American Broadcasting Corporations, and I feel certain that they bore any significant expense that attached.

On that point, will the broadcasting apparatus be available for any Party that wishes to make a similar arrangement?

That is a question I do not propose to answer. I am not certain that there is any other person President of this State yet. There is only one head of the Executive Council.

That was not the only occasion on which it occurred. It has been used by other Ministers to broadcast Fianna Fáil policy.

No, to broadcast Government policy. I think Senators ought to realise that, after all, the proper organ for the expression of national policy is the Government of this State, and the head of the Government of this State: that when the President of the Executive Council or any member of it speaks on Ministerial business, or business relating to his own Department, that cannot be classified as a Party address. After all, the voice of the people, the votes of the people——

Vox populi: vox Dei.

——on two occasions recently have selected them as the proper spokesmen for the people of this country. I am glad that Senator Gogarty says Vox populi: vox Dei.

Now, at any rate. Senator Parkinson referred to the question of veterinary research. As a matter of fact that question has been engaging the attention of the Minister for Agriculture. While I am not in a position to say that we could do everything that has been done in other countries, I have reason to believe that it is hoped it may be possible to initiate a campaign to eradicate tubercular beasts from our herds, and as a result of that a considerable amount of veterinary research will be undertaken into this and other diseases of cattle.

Senator Crosbie put me a rather tall order when he asked me to give him a very large series of comparable figures for 1912-14, 1929, 1930 and 1931-32. I regret that at such short notice I am not able to give him anything more than figures which are just approximate. The total expenditure on the Supply Services for the year 1931-32 was £22,930,000 about, and on the Central Fund Services £4,582,000, making a total expenditure in the carrying out of all governmental services of £27,450,000. That figure is to be compared with the Estimates for the coming year of £35,500,000. In connection with that latter figure I think I ought to point out that in every year since the State started certain allowances had to be made, naturally and justifiably, for what is known as overestimation. I think one may take the sum of £35,500,000 as being an outside figure and may assume that the actual expenditure—I am anticipating a little —will not exceed £35,000,000. Senator Miss Browne asked about volunteer halls. They are being provided for the Volunteer Force which is part of the national army.

Part of the private army.

Question put and agreed to.