I rise merely for the purpose of giving the Minister an opportunity, which up to the present he has not availed of, to tell us when he is going to put in practice the doctrines which he preached with such poetic fervour when he was in opposition a few years ago. It is not necessary for me to make a case for reduction of public expenditure. It was made for me by the present Minister in language which, I am sure, was never intended to be buried in the Official Reports of Dáil Eireann. On occasions like this, I always like to do the Minister the honour of disinterring a few of his phrases in the hope that, through my humble labours, they will gain the immortality which has attended his efforts in another direction.
I find that the Minister, in discoursing of extravagance during his predecessor's régime, said:—
"If a resolute attempt was made to deal with expenditure in Government offices and with the wastage that goes on, at least another £1,000,000 might be saved. Mr. Blythe, with a golden whip costing the people £20,000,000 is driving our young men and women into exile and is not disposed to listen to those who are asking for a drastic reduction in the expenditure in Government Departments."
I think we must admit that the golden whip has now a heavier lash to it. Here is another gem:—
"By comparison with Great Britain and Northern Ireland we are overtaxed beyond the limit of our capacity. In such a situation what is the policy which the Minister has set before the House? Not to lighten the burden of taxation—not to give the country a chance to recuperate, but to continue to oppress it by maintaining taxation at a level which every factor of economic significance unites in proclaiming that the country is unable to bear. Expenditure must be cut down. Economies must be secured. There should be economies in the Army and the Civic Guards. There should be economies in the trimmings and trappings of the State and of the Executive. These must be further and ruthlessly cut. Let there be no skimming of the surface, taking only the scum of the waste, the mere saving of £172,000 where at least £1,000,000 is required, but a paring of waste and extravagance remorselessly to the very bones."
The Minister spoke of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Where would you find a better example of Dr. Jekyll than in the gentleman who made that speech and who now brings in a Bill which, instead of paring waste and extravagance to the very bones, is based on an expenditure of £30,000,000. To vary the monotony let me give a quotation from an even greater man than the Minister. This is what Mr. de Valera said at Belmullet in 1931—seven years ago:—
"There was a crying need for economy. They were governed as if they were a great empire. The imperial standards set up by England, whose coffers were filled with loot from other countries"——
that would not sound nicely in Rathmines—
——"were being maintained here. £1,000 per annum should be sufficient attraction for high posts."
That, with the lurid phrases omitted, was an eminently sensible statement and it helps me considerably in my examination of this Bill. I find that in 1930-31, when we were aping the imperial standards of Britain—we are aping them in other respects than finance now—the national expenditure amounted to £25,000,000 odd. Last year, the expenditure by the economisers of seven years ago amounted to £32,000,000 odd. That is to say, the Government of economy economised by spending £7,000,000 more than the amount spent by those who were aping imperial standards.
The estimates on which this Bill is founded contemplate an expenditure of £30,000,000. That is about £10,000,000 more than the estimate for similar services in the year 1930-31 (£20,925,911) when the present Minister for Finance was lyrical on the subject of State extravagance. I want to know when we are to relinquish imperial standards of expenditure and when we are to get the £2,000,000 reduction in expenditure which the Fianna Fáil Party solemnly promised us.
There is no use in the Minister telling me that the additional expenditure is due to increased social services. That sort of fairy tale may appeal to the grown-ups around Dublin, who patronise films like Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs, or to the Senators on the Cultural Panel, who are suitably contemptous of arithmetic. I have no pretensions to culture, but if I cannot write verse I think I can do a long tot as well as the Minister for Finance.
The Minister in a White Paper which he issued to whitewash his Budget showed that the additional amount attributable to social services in the present year as compared with 1931-32 was £4,500,000. The Estimates for 1931-32 totalled £20,925,911, say, £21,000,000, while the Estimates for the present year amount to £30,322,710. That is a difference of £9,000,000 and it takes no account of the fact that £600,000 was provided in respect of the Local Loans Fund in 1931-32 while that item is not now dealt with in Estimates.
On the Minister's own showing, estimated expenditure on Supply Services has gone up by £4,500,000, even allowing for the £4,500,000, additional on social services. I want to know when that extravagance is to cease and when we are to get back to the "imperial standards" denounced by the then Deputy de Valera and Deputy MacEntee.
There are a few individual items on which I should like to have enlightenment. I find by the Minister's White Paper that the cost of the Civil Service has gone up by £1,000,000 per year since 1931-32. What is the cause of that huge increase? Again, there is no use in the Minister telling me that it is due to the operation of the social services. I refuse to believe that £4,000,000 worth of extra social services cost £1,000,000 to administer. If it did, then the Civil Service must be almost as inefficient as the Ministry.
In this connection, too, I should like to know the exact number of extra civil servants employed by the present Government. The Minister for Finance gave one figure recently in the Dáil, while a representative of his Department gave a different figure to the Civil Service Commission of Inquiry, relating to exactly the same date. Which are we to accept? I know that when a few thousand extra civil servants have been recruited a few hundred are of no importance to the Minister one way or the other. But we are entitled to exact information on these matters. He is a poor type of employer who does not know the number of his employees. The Minister might also tell me how many extra assistant secretaries of Departments have been appointed since 1931-32 and what was the necessity for these appointments.
On a previous occasion I drew attention to the Vote for the Secret Service. I notice that this Bill includes an item of £20,000 for this purpose. If it is not impertinent, I should like to know upon whom we are spying and why our spies are so frightfully expensive. The Cosgrave Government did all the spying they wanted to do, at a time when there was need for it, at a cost of about £1,500. Last year we spent almost £8,000 on spies and in this Bill we are voting £20,000 for the present year. How does it come that the Fianna Fáil spies are so much of a luxury?
We would expect that after the Minister's speeches at Rathmines our spy bill would shrink. There is no longer any necessity to spy on the hereditary enemy. We have grasped him to our bosom—in Rathmines, at all events. There is no longer any need to keep a telescope trained on the Haulbowline forts. We are now in a position to protect the trade routes of Europe—for other nations. Upon whom, then, are we spying? Is it on the enemies of the Commonwealth or is it on political opponents?
Last year we spent £8,000 on spies— which is a lot of money in times of peace. How are these spies paid? Are they paid at piece rates or are they given an annual salary and provided with high-powered cars and despatch cases? I should like to be assured that our spies earn their money, and that they are not paid merely for joy-riding throughout the country. In my opinion, £160 per week is too much to spend on spying.
The Minister might also tell us whether the £600,000 extra to be spent on defence will be devoted to the forts or to some other branch of defensive work. The reason I put the question is that a number of people in Donegal were cheered by the Minister's announcement that the money was to be spent on the Swilly and other forts, and equally disappointed by the statement of the Taoiseach last week that it had nothing to do with the forts. I hesitate to think that the Government provided for the money as an assurance of their bona fides to Mr. Chamberlain without knowing what they were to do with it. As so much money is being squandered on alcohol factories, patent peat devices, Volunteer halls, and in other delectable ways, I want to put in a plea that this money should be squandered on the forts.
As this Bill includes provision for the Stationery Office, perhaps the Minister would tell us when he proposes to release the report of the Banking Commission. I am aware that the Minister has not read the report. I am aware that, according to the Department of Finance, the printing of the London Agreement—a pamphlet of half a dozen pages—held up the printing of the report. I am aware that the printing resources of the City of Dublin were not equal to the turning out of a report of a few hundred pages in four months. I am aware of all these things, and I do not require to be told them. I merely want to be informed when the report will be released.
If the printing difficulties still continue to distress the Minister, I will undertake to assist him by having the report turned out in a country printing office in a fortnight. The reason for my solicitude is that practically everybody I have met seems to have read the report save the Minister. Of course, the necessity for reading the report was not pressing in the case of the Minister, as he had civil servants in his Department to tell him all about it. Nevertheless, I do not care to think of our Minister for Finance being inferior in knowledge to the man in the street on so important a matter. There should now be no further necessity for holding on to the report, which I understand was in proof three months ago. The loan has been floated, the election is over, the Dáil is going into recess. What reson, then, is there for clinging to the report as if it were a piece of intelligence furnished by our £8,000 spies? If the report is withheld much longer, the strain imposed on the Minister's Department in discovering reasons for its non-publication may prove too great.