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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 17 Jun 1942

Vol. 26 No. 17

Finance Bill, 1942—Second Stage.

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

Tairgim go ndéantar an Bille Airgeadais, 1942, do léigheamh don dara huair. Níl an fhaid chéanna sa Bhille i mbliana, ná an oiread céanna cúise conspóide, agus do bhí le tamall de bhlianta anuas. Mar is léir ón teideal fada is Bille é chun diúitéthe áirithe ioncuim dúithche d'éileamh agus do ghearradh, chun an dlí bhaineas le custuim agus ioncum dúithche (maraon le mál) do leasú, agus chun tuilleadh forálacha i dtaobh airgeadais do dhéanamh.

Bhí an chuid is mó dá bhfuil sa Bhille ar eolas ag na Seanadóirí sara bhfuaireadar in aon chor é mar isé cuspóir an Bhille éifeacht do thabhairt, in aghaidh na bliana airgeadais ar fad, do na rúin le n-ar ghlac an Dáil tar éis na Cáinfhaisnéise. Os rud é nár gearradh aon chánacha nua le Cáinfhaisnéis na bliana so ní déantar leis an mBille seo ach na cánacha atá ann cheana do bhuanú. O thaobh lucht íoctha cánach dhe, isé cuid is tábhachtaighe den Bhille an chuid sin de bhaineann le Cáin Bhrabúis Chorpráide, agus níl ansan féin ach maolú áirithe dá dhéanamh i gcásanna ina bhfuarthas an dlí mar atá sé in Acht Airgeadais na bliana anuiridh do bheith ró-dhian.

Mar is eol do na Seanadóirí go léir níor deineadh aon athruithe ar na cánacha coitianta i mbliana. Nuair a bhí na figiúirí go léir bailithe agam, bhí sé soiléir ná beadh ar mo chumas an caiteachas go léir fháil tré cánacha gan ualach ró-throm do chur ar lucht íoctha cánach. Mar sin do shocruíos ar an méid sa mbreis a bhí ag teastáil uaim d'fháil ar iasacht agus ní chuala duine ar bith á rá nár dheineas an cheart.

Senators are, no doubt, already familiar with the salient features of the 1942 Budget which I introduced in Dáil Eireann on 6th May last. It is true that the virtues of the Budget were negative for the most part, that is to say, no additional taxation was imposed despite the mounting cost of State services and the fairly general anticipation current before Budget day that taxation was going to be substantially increased. That this anticipation, or rather this apprehension, proved to be unfounded was undoubtedly the most pleasant feature of the Budget as far as the general public was concerned. I do not, however, claim any special credit for the Budget on this account since there is no gainsaying the fact that the present level of taxation is very high. Indeed, were it not that new taxes and duties were imposed and old taxes and duties increased in recent years, thus contriving to keep revenue buoyant up to the present and to provide sustenance for the growing appetite of the Exchequer to feed upon, the tale I would have to unfold to Senators in to-day's Finance Bill might be very different.

I do not altogether agree with the statements I have seen and heard that we have already touched the limits of taxation. If it were the case to-day that there was no alternative to further imposts, I have no doubt that a diligent search would reveal further sources of revenue remaining to be tapped.

That sounds dangerous.

When, however, I was faced with a prospective deficit of £4,558,000 for 1942-43, I found myself in a dilemma whether to meet the whole or part of this sum by further demands on current revenue or to resort to borrowing. After deliberating long on that unpleasant situation I decided, rightly it seems to me, that, all things considered, recourse to borrowing was the lesser evil. I believe this decision was a welcome one to the man in the street, while even the champions of orthodox economics and financial rectitude could honestly find little cause for quarrel with it, having regard to the extraordinary times in which we live. Apart from the principle involved, the times, however much they may be out of joint in other respects, are more than usually propitious for State borrowing—money is cheap and our credit is good.

I need scarcely trouble Senators with the complicated details of revenue and expenditure which I had to place before the other House on Budget Day and with which, no doubt, they are familiar. There are, however, some major items to which I should make brief reference. Emboldened by the unexpectedly good yield of revenue in 1941-42 we have estimated that at the rates in force before the Budget, tax and non-tax revenue at £32,395,000 and £5,970,000, respectively will bring in a total of £38,365,000 during 1942-43. The Road Fund will this year again provide a contribution of £100,000 for the general purposes of the Exchequer and, consequential on certain concessions being made in the present Finance Bill in respect of excess corporation profits tax, an additional yield of £50,000 is expected under income-tax. Senators are, perhaps, already aware that the concessions in respect of excess corporation profits tax will mean a loss of £150,000 in the year. This loss is, however, reduced to £100,000 when offset by the income-tax gain of £50,000 to which I have already referred. Total net revenue for the year is, therefore, expected to amount to £38,365,000.

The excess corporation profits tax concessions were decided on after numerous deputations and other representations from interested parties and they are the limit to which I am prepared to go. Nevertheless, I am sure they will be welcomed by Senators who manifested an especial interest in the tax when the provisions of the Finance Act, 1941, were under discussion in this House.

I must point out once again that our estimate of revenue is, of course, dependent on a variety of circumstances over few of which we are in a position to exercise effective control. Customs Revenue which is tabled to provide the large sum of £10,265,000 is, I need hardly point out, a doubtful speculation in these days of diminishing supplies. The fortunes of excise duties, which we hope will yield £7,360,000, are linked up with those of customs and shrinkage in one will produce shrinkage in the other. The whole basis of our revenue Estimates is that the economic fabric of this country will not be unduly disturbed in 1942/43. I have had on several occasions in the past to sound this same warning. Fortunately my prophecies have so far been like Cassandra's, but that is no reason whatever for a complacent belief that the relative buoyancy of our revenue up to the present is going to be maintained indefinitely. Many of the customs and excise duties are ad valorem and the deceptive effect of rising prices on receipts from duties in this class is obvious.

The bill for Central Fund Service and Supply Services amounts to £44,146,000. The addition of a sum of £24,000 for national health insurance under a Supplementary Estimate and a subsidy of £100,000 for the provision of fuel for necessitous families increase the bill to the unprecedented figure of £44,270,000. Following precedent I have earmarked certain specific outlay of a capital nature amounting to £1,347,000 to be defrayed from borrowing thereby reducing the total amount to be met out of revenue in the year to the sum of £42,923,000. This bill is, indeed, a very large one but a fairly high proportion of it—I would put it at about one quarter—must be classed as emergency expenditure, that is to say, expenditure which we would not have to meet in normal times.

The Government is frequently exhorted to practise economy as a means of lightening the heavy burden of present-day taxation, but nobody appreciates the absolute necessity for economy more fully than I do. It is, of course, easy to expatiate on the subject of economy in the abstract, but when it comes down to the point of indicating where exactly this economy is to be practised our critics fail us rather badly—very few concrete instances have ever been indicated to me where it was found that economy was feasible.

In fact, listening to political speeches, I have often noticed a complete absence of the spirit of economy. Everyone wants the Government to launch out into fresh fields of activity, but no one seems to be prepared to face the financial consequences. Economies there have been, and if the critics would examine closely the volume of Estimates for 1942-43 they would see that were it not for the emergency services, which include, of course, the extra cost of the Army, there would be a considerable reduction over the cost of the supply services in the preceding year. Apart from the additional burden of new emergency services, it must be realised that Government Departments like everyone else are affected by the general rise in prices and cost of living. Further, our social services are continuing to expand and, finally, it is to be remembered that the personnel of the various branches of the State service are, in the main, young people on incremental scales of pay that are still rising.

The provision of employment is one of the matters for which the Minister for Finance is sometimes charged with not providing sufficient funds. In 1942-43 the amount to be provided in hard cash is estimated at £6,320,000 not to mention other indirect subventions. The unemployment problem, however, is not one to be solved by finance alone. There is no need for me to point out how this war has caused very considerable disemployment in industries which have been so carefully fostered in recent years. Side by side with the general decline in most forms of industrial employment is the greatly increased activity in turf production and in agriculture and we have all heard statements that these two occupations are affected by ills of a very different sort, namely, a shortage of the right kind of labour.

Neither the background nor the vistas opened up by the Finance Bill, 1942, present, therefore, a very inspiring picture but whenever I am tempted to despond or I listen to complaints about the inroads of the Exchequer on private resources I feel the time is one rather for counting our blessings than for relating our woes. I console myself with the thought that this war which for well nigh three years has raged to right and to left of us has so far struck mainly at our purses, the least vulnerable plates in our armour. With the desolation wrought outside our shores in mind it does not require any flight of imagination to picture how easily our case might have been worse—indeed if we can but continue to follow our present frugal ways of living in peace, this island will surely be able to count itself one of the favourites of Providence.

One approaches a Bill of this nature and importance with mixed feelings. The Minister appears to have taken the reverse order of certain advice which I was bold enough to offer him in this House on this occasion last year, or perhaps the year before. I think the suggestion I then made was that, in a time of necessary transition to a new economy imposed on us by the circumstances of the emergency, the State should borrow the amount necessary to balance the Budget during the period of transition, but that having successfully effected the transition, it should then resort to adequate taxation. The Minister appears to have steepened up the rate of taxation very heavily in the first two years of the process, when such action probably impeded us in the process of making that necessary transition and now, having effected that transition, probably less happily and less successfully than we would have done if the other method had been chosen, we find ourselves faced with a situation where the Minister borrows in order to close the gap in the Budget. I still think that he would have done better if he had done his borrowing in the first year or two of the transition and had increased the rate of taxation at the present stage of the process. But perhaps the fact that I recommended the other procedure was an adequate reason in his mind why he should proceed by the reverse method, because I notice, as a rule when I recommend a thing in all good faith, some other method is adopted that is extremely likely to lead to the opposite result being accomplished. If I had only applied that principle in this case I would have recommended the opposite to what I did recommend in the hope that the right solution would automatically have been accomplished. However, that is perhaps a debating point.

I accept the Minister's view that, in the circumstances in which we find ourselves, and which are apparently imposed upon us, it is better that we should close the gap of some £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 by a process of borrowing than by attempting to increase the yield of taxation. I would even not be unduly alarmed if the Minister decides to do that borrowing in the first instance from the banking system and is in no great hurry to fund these short-term loans in the form of a new long-term loan. I think in present circumstances it should be possible to get £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 from the banking system at a rate of interest which will not be unduly high and which will impose no serious additional burden on the taxpayers of the immediate future. We, then, bridge the gap in our expenditure by borrowing a sum of £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 in the current financial year. Our neighbours are spending money at the rate of £100,000,000 a week and are getting perhaps half of that total amount in the year from taxation and the greater part of the rest of it by borrowings from savings in various forms. But even then, according to my most recent information, they have been faced with the necessity of increasing the floating debt and borrowing from the banking system to the order of some £400,000,000 a year. That, although a huge sum from our point of view is, perhaps, not excessive from theirs. They have a much more buoyant economy, precisely because of the terrific war expenditure which they are incurring, and the yield of taxes over there shows a tendency to increase much more rapidly than anything of the kind that could happen over here.

There is and must be, however, some relation between the amount of money taken by way of taxation for public purposes and the amount of the national income or the aggregate of personal incomes which are liable for public taxation. That relationship favours a high yield of taxation in the British case but in our case, owing to reasons for which we may be thankful, there is not the same cause for rapid increase in the national income and, consequently, not the same tendency to a buoyant yield of public taxation. At the same time it is necessary that we should have some appreciation of this relationship between public taxation and the total national income in whatever way that national income may be defined. I am not aware that any recent authoritative estimate has been made of our present national income. I think it would be desirable that there should be before this House and before the other House on occasions like this, some authoritative estimate of the current national income so that we might have it in our minds when we are considering the total of contemplated taxation.

Doubtless, when the central bank has been created, and is functioning, one of its chief duties will be to maintain a research department which will, from time to time, furnish the public and the Oireachtas with this authoritative information about changes in the amount of the national income. I do think that the national income is probably not any less than it was two or three years ago, but I doubt whether it is much more than it was two or three years ago. I think the last authoritative estimate of it put the figure at about £160,000,000. But, be it more or less than £160,000,000, I am quite certain that the national income of our people in money—I am thinking of their money income in this connection, not their real income—is certainly less than it otherwise would be because of the fact that our export trade is not as flourishing as it should be, and in particular because of the fact that our export trade in fat cattle is paid for at a price which is decidedly less than the price paid for cattle of a corresponding quality raised and finished in Northern Ireland.

In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that the difference in the money income of our people arising from the fact of that differential price affecting our fat cattle exports must be at least as much as £2,000,000 a year, and, if we follow it in all its ramifications through the rest of our agricultural and national economy, we would probably find that that blight on our fat cattle trade which has been going on for years—the fat cattle trade being so fundamental a part of our national economy—has probably diminished our national income by anything up to about £10,000,000 a year.

I do not want to go into the matter in detail now, but I should like to say that in my considered opinion the unfavourable price which has been paid for our fat cattle during the last ten years in the British market has been a force tending to disorganise our whole agricultural economy, to diminish our capacity for producing wealth, either for home consumption or for export, and that in fact it represents one of the principal grievances we now have in relation to our neighbours. I might put it this way, that the economic war officially was settled in 1938, but this particular aspect of the economic war has been going on ever since 1934 and is still continuing. I think there should be some kind of concerted national effort made to persuade our British neighbours that it is quite time they stopped this economic war against our cattle exports, and that it is just as much in their long-term interest, and in fact in their short-term interest, that they should pay us a fair price for our fat cattle as it is in ours. I know that the Minister and his colleagues have been doing their utmost to secure a favourable adjustment of this price for our fat cattle exports, and I know that their lack of success is not due to any lack of effort on their part, but I think that perhaps it is worth while going on trying. It is worth while putting the argument to them from the British point of view, and it is worth while that we should realise that this business of their paying a differentially higher price for their own home-reared and finished fat cattle is part of a British racket which began in the interests of the British fat cattle producers some ten years ago and was continued during all those recent years in a way which was unfair not only to us but to certain British interests, because, associated with that policy was a policy of restricting imports of Argentine beef, and consequently making the poorer classes in particular in the country pay more than they should have for the foreign beef which they consume, in order that the State might have the funds with which to subsidise the production of British beef, which is mostly consumed by the wealthier classes in England.

Even from their point of view, therefore, the policy involved in their differentially higher price for fat cattle is lacking in social justification, and, if we could convince them that the effect of it on our mutual relations must be to diminish the amount of fat cattle that we can produce and go on producing for them during the period of the war emergency and afterwards, we might in the end get them to see the thing from a British, if not from an Irish point of view, and thus bring about a change which would undoubtedly tend to the increase of our national income. We might point out to them, for example, that their long-continued war on our fat cattle has made stall-feeding an unprofitable proposition for years in this country, with the result that animal manure has been scarce, and as a consequence the fertility of our land has diminished. In order then to produce for ourselves the wheat that we must have for our own consumption, we now must extend cultivation to first-class pasture fields, which, from their point of view, would be better employed in producing beef for them. Their policy has compelled us to extend tillage to areas which in the ordinary way would be better employed in producing fat cattle for them, whereas if they had pursued a different policy and we had been able to have the animal manure that would have resulted from stall-feeding over the last decade we would have got all the cereal crops we needed from our old fields without having to extend cultivation to those first-class pasture lands which are ideally suited to the fattening of cattle.

I am trying all the time now to put the argument from the British point of view. They are lessening their source of supply of beef by the long continued effect of this unfair price policy with regard to our fat cattle. We might also point out to them that, although they have a monopoly of our export surplus during the war, after the war— which they must win or perish and we along with them—they will have to compete with other countries for our agricultural surpluses, if any, and it will be injurious for them as well as for us if they continue to pursue a price policy which makes it unlikely that we will have any considerable agricultural surplus for a great many years after the war is over. They will probably need us as a source of supply in any conceivable future time, and we will certainly need them as an export market and a source of supply for industrial raw materials in any future which we can contemplate or conceive. They have, of course, a monopoly grip on all our export surpluses now, and in a sense they can pay us as little or as much as they like. According to a statement made by the Minister for Agriculture in a recent debate, the Minister of Food, in some negotiations with the Department of Agriculture, said:

"Why should we not buy in the cheapest market?"

But I suggest that talk about buying in the cheapest market on the part of the British Ministry of Food is, in present circumstances and from their own point of view, short-sighted nonsense.

They have a monopoly grip on our market at the moment, but, from their point of view as monopolists and also taking into account their own national interest, the consideration that matters most is what price is necessary to induce us to maintain and increase supplies for their market. They are certainly not paying that price now with reference to pigs or with reference to cattle. In their own interests, they should pay a price which would encourage us to maintain and increase supplies for them as well as for ourselves. The Minister may, or may not, have used all these arguments already in his negotiations with our British neighbours but I should like to impress upon him that the matter is of vital national importance to us as well as to Britain, so that he should make repeated efforts to get the British to see sense from that point of view. I should like to assure him that, in any policy of that kind, he will have the united support of every section of the community, including the section of the nation for which I might claim especially to speak. We had some unsatisfactory debate on this matter in which the Minister for Agriculture failed to convey the impression to me that he was anxious for any co-operation on the part of people like me. His answer took the form, for the most part, of cheap debating points and cheaper sneers. I consider the matter is so important that one should not approach it in that way and I hope the Minister and the Government will give most serious consideration to it in the course of any negotiations they may have in the immediate future.

There is one other matter to which I should like to refer—family allowances. The Minister rightly said that Senators and Deputies are more skilled in recommending objects of public expenditure than they are in suggesting ways and means of raising the finance necessary to meet these objects. Some time ago, we had a debate in this House in which we unanimously recommended the principle of family allowances, with special reference to the circumstances of agricultural labourers. In the course of my remarks on that occasion, I advocated family allowances in respect of the whole population under 16 years of age. I mentioned that I understood that the financial cost of paying 5/- a week in respect of each child under 16 years of age would be in the region of £8,000,000 a year. That is a lot of money for us, but I also stated that I considered that certain adjustments in public taxation which were possible, and even desirable under present circumstances, could be used to give us, at all events, during the present emergency, the money necessary to meet the cost of family allowances for agricultural labourers. I suggested that the general nature of these adjustments of taxation should be directed to whitening the black market. I do not know whether or not there is a black market in tobacco, but there is, certainly, an under-the-counter market. Everybody is familiar with the phenomenon when he goes into a tobacconist's shop and asks: "Can you change a 10/- note and I do not particularly mind in what form you give me the change?" That is one particular approach that works satisfactorily on occasion. There is a certain lack of adjustment between the available supply of tobacco and the demand for tobacco, and circumstances exist which would tend to bring about a black market in tobacco, though whether or not they have actually brought that about, I do not know. That being so, there is room for additional taxation of tobacco.

Tobacco is a very agreeable gift of Providence but it is not a down-right necessity of life. It is, more or less, a luxury, especially in war time, and, consequently, is a suitable object for increased taxation, if increased revenue must be got. I estimated, rightly or wrongly, that if the Minister had the nerve to add 8/- per lb. to the tax on tobacco, he would get, in that way, £4,000,000 in revenue, on the assumption that there was no substantial reduction in the total consumption of tobacco, following so steep an increase in the price. Perhaps that assumption is not justified. Even if that would be going too far, I think that there could be some slight addition to the tax on tobacco which would bring in a substantial amount of revenue which could be used either to help to bridge the gap in the Budget or to provide the additional cost of family allowances, if family allowances are adopted.

I made another suggestion which does not seem to have received serious consideration. We are familiar with the fact that the women of Donegal, when they cross the Border, do not wear ordinary clothes but wear sackcloth clothes which are capable of becoming flour sacks on the return journey. The flour which they buy at about 3/- per stone in Derry becomes worth about a guinea a stone in Donegal. People are prepared to pay as much as a guinea a stone for white flour. If people are so foolish as to be prepared to pay a guinea a stone for white flour, why not let them freely buy a certain limited percentage of white flour, milled under Government supervision and under the strictest control, at a guinea a stone? In other words, arrange for the milling of 10 per cent. of your available wheat into 70 per cent. extraction white flour and put an excise duty of £100 a ton on that white flour. Let the people then pay £160 a ton, or £1 a stone, for that flour.

Why not manufacture some of the tobacco into cigars?

The normal consumption of wheat here is something short of 400,000 tons per year. On a rough calculation, 40,000 tons of wheat, milled into white flour, with an excise duty of £100 a ton on it, would bring, on a 70 per cent. extraction basis, 70 per cent. of £4,000,000, and people who wanted to buy white flour for cake making or other purposes would be able, in a perfectly legitimate State market, to buy that white flour at a guinea a stone, with the feeling that they were making a substantial contribution to the cost of family allowances in doing so. While absolute necessaries of life should, if scarce, be rationed and have their prices fixed in such a way that they come within the means of everybody, other things which are also scarce, but which are not downright necessaries of life—they are more or less superfluities, if not luxuries—have a scarcity value which gives rise to black market conditions. These should have a tax imposed upon them, so that the additional price, resulting from scarcity value, would flow into the Treasury of the State rather than into the pockets of private black market profiteers. If the State does not tax that sort of commodity, it is only allowing the black market profiteer to levy private taxation for his own purposes. The State has, then, to look for other sources of revenue which it would not have to do if it were willing to tax these objects which are simply asking for taxation.

Another matter to which I should like to refer is one of considerable importance, though it concerns rather the public health than the public revenue. I am told on the highest authority—on the authority of a member of the Dietetic Council which, I believe, is officially expected to advise the Government on matters of public nutrition or, at all events, if not so expected, it should be——

I am afraid that that would be outside the terms of the Bill.

It has a close relationship to this other matter to which I have just been referring—the tax on flour. If the point of view which I propose to put be accepted, it will modify, to some extent, the suggestion I have made about allowing 70 per cent. extraction of 10 per cent. of our wheat, leaving the other 90 per cent. of the wheat to be turned into the existing type of very unattractive brown flour. I am told that 85 per cent. extraction of flour from wheat is all that is wise or desirable, because the bran and pollard and other queer things in the last 15 per cent. are not capable of being adequately digested and used to advantage by the human digestive system. In other words, the human stomach cannot digest bran and pigs' feeding. On the other hand, the human stomach can digest the pigs themselves after they have digested the bran, so that the best way of making use of that 15 per cent. is to release it to the animals and let us, then, eat the animals. Another aspect of the matter is, and it is much more important, that the existing compulsory consumption of bran by everybody who eats bread is having the effect of withdrawing calcium from the human system. These are the exact words of the authority who brought the matter to my notice:

"The full extraction of wheat, especially between the 92 and 100 per cent. level, includes phytic acid which when combined with the lime in the diet, renders this lime—in other words calcium—not available for human nutrition, and thus we are all exposed to the danger of calcium shortage. Among the symptoms of calcium shortage are——"

I do not want to interrupt the Senator, but he can hardly expect the Minister for Finance to deal with this matter.

Surely the Finance Bill includes almost everything?

The scope of the Bill is very specific, and is shown by its Title.

I have very little more to say and perhaps you would allow me to get it on the record.

"——muscle weakness, crick in the neck, bad teeth, bad bone growth, especially in children——"

It does not cause irrelevancy, does it?


"This would be compensated by increased supplies of Vitamin D. from cod liver oil, which unfortunately, is not available in sufficient quantities."

I mention that, because it somewhat neutralises my earlier suggestion about the financial advantages of allowing 10 per cent. of the wheat to be turned into white flour and putting a terrific tax on it, because obviously if you get back to 85 per cent. extraction, there will not be the same disposition to pay high prices for the 70 per cent. flour which would exist if the ordinary flour is 100 per cent. extraction flour. I hope the Minister will deal with some of these points, at any rate, in his reply, and I am sorry if I have gone beyond the strict limits allowed in the debate.

I take this opportunity of directing the attention of the Minister to some dissatisfaction of which I have evidence, especially in the allocation of the Agricultural Grant in relief of rates. I mentioned it here two or three years ago, and an arrangement was devised when the Minister was Minister for Local Government, by which certain reliefs were provided by way of employment allowances. When the Minister comes to examine the matter, he will find that the relief amounts to something in the neighbourhood of not more than 6d. per week, and sometimes less. While family allowances will do much to bring relief to agriculture, I think a bold stroke in employment allowances would be an admirable method of relief. I noticed recently that the Minister said there was a great deal of money knocking about —"plenty of money", was the expression used—and, almost on the same day, a list of the contributions of rates in the various counties was published. My native county was actually at the head of the list. That would give evidence of the truth of the Minister's statement. When, however, you come to examine it in detail, you will find that, while very many are considerably well off or, perhaps, from the agricultural point of view are able to live, a great many are finding it exceedingly difficult. At the moment, wages necessarily are considerably higher, and competition for workers is pretty strong, and any relief that would come in that way would be a very great source of benefit. Seeing that the scheme is one which I put up to the Minister in his first years of office, it might be that he would look on it with a kindly eye. I ask him, however, to give practical effect to his kindliness.

Another point which I have been anxious to ventilate is that loans to some public institutions are granted only at what one might call an exorbitant rate of interest. Some 12 or 14 years ago, we found it necessary to borrow something like £40,000 to £50,000 and the rate of interest was in the neighbourhood of 5¾ or 6 per cent. We have made repeated appeals to the Department of Local Government, and, if I mistake not, the Minister for Local Government was then the present Minister for Finance. He told us that he was actively sympathetic, but that the Department of Finance had barred the door. In view of the efforts which the Minister knows we have made to bring our institutions into a solvent position it would be a happy thing if the Minister for Finance could now do something to meet us in regard to these problems, because they are increasing at a rapid rate and increasing population brings additional difficulties. If we are to maintain the position which we have always tried to maintain, I should like the Minister to give it his most earnest attention.

Recently I saw an allusion by the Minister to a subject in which I am very interested. He stated that relief for farmers—a point so long laboured by Senator Counihan—would receive some consideration. Before ever I came to the Seanad I happened to know Senator Parkinson fairly well and for the past ten or 12 years he has been anxious to have something done about that. Anyone dealing in the financial resources of our community and of our producing people, must see the change that has taken place in the last 20 years. We always appoint commissions—commissions for banks, for derating, for drainage and for agriculture—and we have lately invented a word that is new to me—we say that such and such a citizen is not "creditworthy." I rather think that what is not considered creditworthy is agriculture, and that is due to defects here and there in the administration. I like to keep my eye on those outside us and keep as close as I can to the Alsace-Lorraine of Ireland. When those people have special benefits granted to them, I see no reason why the resources of our land down here, which is certainly as good as theirs and wherein our people work just as intelligently and efficiently, should not be worthy of the benefits they have. Instead of our drainage commission, which is obviously a necessity since so many drains have become choked and so much land has become unarable, I see no reason why there should not be a big broad scheme which would cover all these things—family allowances included.

It was my lot some few years ago to be rather interested in some people who were approaching the Agricultural Credit Corporation. We talk about the 5¾ per cent. for public loans secured on the best security in Ireland, and probably in the world, in a county with 99 per cent. of its rates paid— that security, to my mind, is something that should meet a more sympathetic interest than 5¾ per cent.—yet some of the citizens are paying sums to the Credit Corporation which they arranged to pay, but which, at the present time, after eight or ten years, reach an extraordinarily high figure. I think I mentioned to Senator Counihan last week that some people are paying 8 or 9 per cent. and, if I mistake not, he said it was something like 9, 10, or 12 per cent.

Where were they paying that rate?

To the Credit Corporation.

That is nonsense.

I am glad to know that. Even if they were paying only 8 or 9 per cent.——

They are not.

The Senator is putting all the costs together, lawyers' costs included.

Taking the law costs and everything else, it is appalling that the State should look on without giving some specific amelioration. I understand and admire the efforts of the citizens who gave their time to it, and, at the inception of the Oireachtas, I suppose it was the only thing possible. But something further should be done now for those people. Some time ago I heard Senator Parkinson state—and I have read it elsewhere— that it was suggested that the capital value of Irish land was something in the neighbourhood of £350,000,000. If we divide that by 10, it still is a respectable sum. Someone asked how much it would take to relieve Irish agriculture. If you got over the broad field of the over-taxation for the last 40 or 50 years, you readily realise what that sum would mean. £50,000,000 or £100,000,000 is the sum that should be put at the disposal of the agricultural community to bring us to a normal position.

I come across cases repeatedly where absolutely no money can be borrowed on the strength of Irish land. That situation is neither a happy one nor a correct one. I have before me a letter bearing the date the 1st June. It is not from my part of the country. I will give it to the Minister if it is of any use to him. It deals with a farm of something in the neighbourhood of 300 Irish acres, all being worked, good arable Irish land, with not a penny of debt, and all that is required for the benefit of the family is something in the neighbourhood of less than £500. Through business connections and for social reasons, and after they had been defeated in every way, the people came to me and I did what I could. This first letter, bearing date the 1st June, was sent to me and was given on my direct request for information as to the position in relation to that institution. It says:

"In reply to your letter, if you could give me security other than Irish land, and it has many forms, the bank will make the advance— Life policies, stock exchange securities, liens on deposits. If you will let me know how much of these you have, my directors are prepared to make the advance."

The first duty of a family is to earn their livelihood on the farm if they are a farming family; and their resources should first attend to the well-being and the efficient management of the farm. Does that letter from the bank not deliberately point to, not only the desirability but the necessity, of any Irish agriculturist putting his money in life policies, stock exchange securities, or deposits? Moneys on deposit are all very well, but I hold that the Minister for Finance will be benefiting Ireland best by benefiting those whose whole life and soul are put into the well-being and efficient running of the farms for which such sacrifices were made and which are the foundation and the fountain of everything we possess to-day.

Would the Senator inform the House what institution sent that letter?

I will give the letter afterwards to the Minister for Finance.

It is an Irish institution?

It is not the Agricultural Credit Corporation?

By no means. It is not the Irish Agricultural Credit Corporation or any State institution, but an institution which was erected by the Irish people out of their resources in Irish land for the benefit of Irish land, and an institution which has been debarred by the Acts of the Oireachtas from placing its resources back at the disposal of Irish land. There is a second letter from another institution. It says:

"With reference to your letter of the 30th, I am sure if you deposit or transfer some marketable securities offering the usual 25 per cent. margin, my directors will grant you the advance you require."

The 30th of what month?

The 30th May, 1942. I think Senator Counihan and the Minister have opened a subject that is most interesting. Senator Parkinson made me aware of it 15 or 16 years ago. There is nothing to be lost by a bold stroke, and by the Minister pursuing the policy that he recently enunciated. I want to encourage him. I speak also on behalf of hundreds of other interested people. The Agricultural Credit Corporation within its limited resources has been a useful institution but it has not tapped the great resources which are at the disposal of the Minister and which he should do his best to utilise.

I want to say a few words in connection with the statement made by Senator McGee. First of all, he would obviously like to create the impression that he was the only one who was prepared to make a bold fight for the farmer, and to get more credit facilities for farmers. Several of us are here as representatives of the agricultural community, and I take it that we are all, in our own way, equally interested in doing everything that we possibly can for farmers. Many of the statements made by Senator McGee will not, in fact, stand investigation. He told of his connection with this campaign for the relief of farmers, and, in doing so, he gave his idea of various expressions which have been used from time to time. Then he threw out what he calls a new description of the farmer as being non-creditworthy. I do not think there is anything new in that. If anybody went into Senator McGee's business establishment and asked for credit, I think the Senator or some of his representatives, while they might not use the exact term creditworthy or non-creditworthy——

I did not wish to be in any way aggressive towards the Minister or to the Senator. I merely put the case as it has presented itself to me. I did not make any specific denunciation of any particular institution in the State, least of all the one the Senator has in mind.

I am well aware that Senator McGee did not intend to be aggressive, but even though a man does not himself intend to be aggressive his statements may be misunderstood by people who, when quoting them afterwards, will make them appear as if he wished to be aggressive. I merely say that to help Senator McGee. I repeat that if anybody goes into Senator McGee's establishment and asks for credit, whether the Senator or his representatives will use the exact terms or not has very little effect, for they will decide for themselves whether this man is or is not worthy of credit. If in their opinion he is not worthy of credit, he will get no credit. Whether someone uses the term creditworthy or non-creditworthy is of very little importance.

Senator McGee went further and said that in one particular case he approached the Credit Corporation in respect of an application made by some people whom he knew very well. He went on to point out how wonderfully sound people these friends of his were financially. He said that they were offering security of their land as well as further securities. He said that that was the best security in the world, but that it was turned down.

I said that Irish land was as good security as there is in the world.

The Senator said that these people put up all the security that anyone could wish for and were turned down.

That is true.

Yes, it is true. I am quite prepared to agree that it is, but they were turned down not because they had all the security anyone could desire, but because they did not secure the one obvious person the Credit Corporation was entitled to ask for.

The Credit Corporation never offered the loan.

The Senator has had an opportunity of making his own speech.

I am talking about the closing remarks of the Senator when he said they were all turned down.

I never said that they turned down a case with which I was associated. I ask the Senator to withdraw that remark.

I think the remarks made as to the Credit Corporation concerned the rate of interest charged—9 per cent. After that, I think, the Senator went on to deal with figures.

If the Senator says he did not refer to any case being turned down, I will accept it.

I never said it. I never went to the Credit Corporation, but I had a successful deal.

That is very satisfactory.

But it is most unsatisfactory at 9 per cent.

I will deal with that. The Senator is withdrawing what he said because he says he was not referring to the Credit Corporation. I am quite satisfied that I have been more than compensated by all the complimentary remarks he made as a result of my misstatement. In regard to the point that the rate of interest is as high as 12 per cent. on small loans, I am afraid Senator McGee is guilty of a gross exaggeration. The rate of interest could not possibly get up to that or even to the rates he mentioned afterwards—8 or 9 per cent.—unless the Senator is going to take into consideration expenses people had to go to to put their titles in order. If he adds on legal expenses, he might as well proceed the whole way and add on funeral expenses, and in that way I am sure he will have no trouble in getting a high rate. If he is talking about the ordinary rate, at the time it was 6 per cent.; unless there were some extraordinary expenses it could never possibly reach 8 per cent. He says that no money can be raised on the strength of Irish land. I do not think that statement would hold water. Money is being borrowed every day on the security of Irish land, and I believe that the time will scarcely ever come when money cannot be borrowed on Irish land. To say that money has been lent indiscriminately at the present time on the security of land is just as big an exaggeration. I believe it is not being lent indiscriminately.

As far as the banks are concerned, a good many of us understand the reason why the banks are cautious. I believe, with the improvement in the position with regard to agriculture, that a considerable change has come about and that we can look forward to something like better times. The Minister has gone a long way in carrying out the promises which he gave here on a previous occasion and I only hope that the consultations being held as a result of that promise will have satisfactory results.

With regard to Senator Johnston's statement, or perhaps I should call it lecture, as to what we should and should not eat—I am quite sure that he was perfectly sincere in the matter— is it not a bit ridiculous at the present time, a bit foolish, or a bit unwise, if you like, for anybody to find fault with brown bread? We should consider ourselves a very lucky people to be able to get brown bread at present. Whether that bread is of 92 per cent. extraction or of 100 per cent. extraction, we are exceptionally lucky to have bread at all. Rather than delivering lectures or giving us explanations as to why we should not eat brown bread, I think it is the duty of every public representative at the present time to encourage the people to use the materials, the only materials for that matter, which are at hand.

Even if your teeth drop out.

It might not be a bad thing for some people——

If their tongues dropped out.

——if their tongues slowed down a little bit, but I do not believe brown bread will have that effect. The people of this country for generations have eaten 100 per cent. wheaten bread and I never knew that it killed one of them, though I did hear of some of them who died for the want of it. This suggestion about "cricks" in your neck or of losing your teeth as a result of eating brown bread, is just so much nonsense in my opinion. So far as the suggestion of milling a certain percentage of wheat into white flour is concerned, I think the scheme would have disastrous results. I am sure the Minister will deal with that suggestion later. As regards the possibility of a black market in tobacco, I think the Senator was very unwise when he made the reference to his own experience with the 10/- note. If he had that experience at all, which I doubt, his duty as a public representative would have been to report the matter.

The only point about that was that instead of asking: "Can you give me any tobacco to-day?" the question might take this form: "I should like the change of 10/- and if you choose to give me tobacco instead of small change, well and good."

In the Minister's opening remarks in introducing the Budget of which this Bill is the implementation, there was a reference to the fact that there had been rumours that taxation was going to be much heavier and that there was a general feeling of relief that it was not heavier. In the debate, as far as I have heard it, it seems to me that we have all taken it for granted that there must be no query upon the whole matter of taxation in this country. I admit that that is very much in keeping with the whole attitude of the world at the present moment when money is being spent so wildly on war and nobody is bothering to look beyond the immediate moment of winning or losing the war. Nevertheless, it does seem to me that in considering Budget proposals there should be a certain restraining discipline imposed upon the taxation authority. Under the old order, such discipline did actually exist but it has not existed in this country for a good many years. There was a time when everybody talked about the Budget and about what it was going to contain for the reason that the Budget determined exactly what taxation was going to be for the next 12 months. The Government in framing its Budget had to look ahead, to calculate all the possible calls for expenditure and to impose taxation to meet them. Of course, for the last ten years that has not been so. There was a time, everybody will remember, when practically every day —there was no paper shortage at that time and there was enormous waste of paper—we got a fat bundle of Emergency (Imposition of Duties) Orders so that the Budget had ceased to have its old significance. By an ordinary stroke of the pen in a Ministerial Department, taxation was imposed and its incidence altered day after day, so that the old discipline of the Government having to calculate its needs and to impose taxation to meet them on the one occasion of the Budget passed away.

When this Budget was passed, I looked into it and I made one or two calculations. I do know that in the world now it does not matter whether you raise money by borrowing or any other means for the coming 12 months. There is a certain legitimacy for that view in the case of belligerent nations. But we are not a belligerent nation. For instance, some time before Britain entered the war when it was realised that preparations for rearmament must begin, if I remember rightly —I have not the precise figures—a new taxation of £500,000,000 per annum was imposed for the creation of armaments, in view of the great probability of war within a comparatively short time. That was a time when what I might call a state of contingent belligerency obtained in Great Britain. Now that Britain is actually in the war, a sum of £500,000,000 for warlike purposes seems a comparatively small sum.

You will notice that, in moving from that contingent belligerency to actual belligerency, the increase in taxation for that purpose was enormous. We here are still in a state of contingent belligerency. Yet we have imposed upon us an enormous taxation which can only be realised by taking it from what I might call the accumulated savings of the people. It does not even mean taking a proportion of the fruits of the people's labour within the given period of 12 months of the financial year. In so far as you are taking from the people's accumulated savings, you are actually imposing a definite form of impoverishment on the people.

The one economic doctrine in which I have seen that clearly adverted to was a Papal pronouncement issued last Christmas. As far as professional economists and professional politicians are concerned, their horizon is circumscribed by the war that is at present raging. A large part of the taxation imposed by this Bill is for the Army. I do not pretend to have made an absolutely correct estimate but it seemed to me when the Budget came out that the proposed Army strength had not yet been reached. The Government have been going around urging further recruitment to the Army which means that the complete Army which the Government aspires to have as soon as the requisite number of volunteers have been obtained, is not in existence now and was not in existence at the time the Budget was introduced. As far as I have calculated the cost set out in the Budget was not for the Army that the Government was seeking to bring into being but was just for the number that they had up to that time recruited. Consequently, although we see this enormous burden imposed for the cost of the Army up to the present, the Budget has not done what Budgets professedly do, namely look ahead to the cost of a given service during the coming 12 months. The Budget merely took the number in the Army at that time. It seems to me—and I am only mentioning this with a view to eliciting a correction from the Minister if I am wrong—that the Budget as produced at that given date did not notify the people of the amount of money that they will be called upon to provide if the Government should succeed in getting further recruits for the Army.

The Army is a peace-time Army which is training with a consciousness of the possibility that our neutrality, by no act of our own, may be brought to an end at any moment. The Minister himself has stated practically that this country is now taxed beyond its real capacity for taxation. We saw in England and other belligerent countries the difference in taxation at the time when they had an army preparing for war and at the time when the army was actually at war. We have not the full-sized Army that the Government wants here, but, as far as I can judge, the Government estimates not for the Army it is trying to create during the next 12 months, but for the actual number of men it had at that time. As far as other military expenses are concerned, it seems to me that it estimated only on the basis of expenditure existing at the time the Budget was brought into being; it did not calculate expenses on the basis of conditions when the country would be at war. I think we all know that the natural productive resources of this country are now being taxed practically beyond their capacity. Consequently, if this money we are spending on the Army at the moment is necessarily spent, that is if circumstances do so turn out that we will actually need the services of the Army, then I think we are going to find that we have created a machine which itself in its more or less static capacity is costing all the amount that we can give it, and that there are no resources left available for providing what would be necessary if that static Army actually functioned in a belligerent way.

I think that the removal of the necessity for balancing Budgets, the necessity for containing within the Budget proposals the total sum required during the year, has led to a certain spendthrift policy. I have noticed in a dozen ways which I do not propose going into now that because the country is so enormously taxed at the moment, because our resources are so enormously strained, there is a general feeling both in the public and in Ministers that an extra £100,000 or so does not really matter. When you are spending £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 a year, £100,000 looks very much smaller than when you are spending only say £20,000,000 a year. It does seem to me that, in examining this Bill we should, as Senator Johnston said, take into account in terms of money the actual production of this country, the proportion of that which might reasonably be taken over by the Government, and the expenditure of that money in the way which would give the people the very best service for it. I think we have all forgotten that now. The Government has created a sort of myth that everybody agrees that we need a large Army; everybody agrees this, that and the other thing. But then there is to be no query as to whether the money that is being spent on them is being spent in the most economic way, the most productive way, and the most fruitful way. In present circumstances, I feel myself completely hindered from going into the detail that I should like to go into in regard to this matter. I think that not only is the amount of taxation imposed on this country in our present neutral, non-belligerent state enormously excessive, but the actual spending of that money is enormously wasteful, but, as I say, I cannot go into that with the detail that I should like.

There is just one other matter to which I should like to refer. At the very beginning here we come to income-tax. I worked out a little sum at the time of the Budget. It is so long ago now that I have forgotten the details. I do not want to be caught out on a debating point, and told that my figures are wrong; my real point I should like to have contradicted altogether. There is a young man who has an income of £120 a year, unearned. He is free of income-tax. There is a young woman who has £120 a year unearned. She is free of income-tax. I am not purporting to be exact in those figures. If those two decide, as you might say, to sidestep the marriage ceremony, they are both exempt on £120 a year, so that they have £240 a year without paying income-tax. If, by some sort of scruples, by some effete clinging to respectability, or whatever it might be, they decide to submit to the marriage ceremony, they will find then that the Government steps in and says: "You have to pay for the luxury of the marriage ceremony in this case. You will now be exempt on £220, but you will have to pay on £20 which you would not have had to pay on except for your mistake in getting married." The young man unmarried, with his £120 a year free of tax, could have another £100 a year on which he pays only one-half the income-tax. The lady also could have another £100 a year unearned—as I say, I am not being exact, it is so long since I went into the figures—on which she pays only half tax. In that case, therefore, they have between them £240 on which they pay no income-tax, and they could both have £100 a year on which they pay only half income-tax. If they get married, the two of them together are allowed £100 on which they pay half income-tax, so that in that case, as I worked it out, through being married instead of remaining unmarried the Government will charge them roughly £50 a year. We know that Ministers, when they go around to various well-meaning institutions, deplore the low marriage rate, and speak in favour of all sorts of other high ideals. I am not suggesting that the mere having to pay to the Revenue Commissioners £50 or so, of which you would otherwise be free, should determine one's action to any extent, but I do think that, as what is called a gesture, the Government might so arrange it that, on marriage, instead of being mulcted to the extent of £50 a year, there might be some little material gain, more or less indicating on the part of the Government a general approval of a normal moral code within the country. I am not saying that that situation was definitely created by this Government, because our revenue laws have been carried on in a most arbitrary way, always assuming that everybody is trying to swindle the Government, and every new amendment has been merely directed to seeing that, irrespective of incidental injustice to individuals, it shall be made impossible for the Government ever to lose.

I should like, on the occasion of the Finance Bill, really to have gone into the whole question of the expenditure proposed here, but I know that as soon as I begin to go into the details I shall be told that I am speaking against the public interest; that, in present circumstances, when we may be plunged in war at any moment, my remarks are calculated to be nationally harmful. I accept that and, consequently, I allow myself to be muted to a very considerable extent. I do not want to be as irrelevant as some of my colleagues seemed to me to have been. I am prepared in practically every Department of State to show that there is a wanton waste, and I feel—I think it is world wide at the moment—that, undoubtedly, the Socialist and the totalitarian doctrine has won out. There was a time when our farmers in this country, loving their own independence, actually asked the Government to let them get on with their business. Now, by enormous Government interference, a situation has been created in which the farmer himself is always calling out for more Government action. The Government has infringed upon the normal activities of people in every walk of life, and the Government is taking out of the people's pockets a sum which means that the Government is purporting to run the major part of people's lives for them.

When I get up and try to suggest that the Government should mind its own business and that if it minded its own business and left other people to mind their business, Government business might be better done, I am told that everybody who gets up is deemed to ask that the Government undertake more services. I have been out of this country periodically during the last 12 months. I have seen the effect of this constant assumption that the new order in which we are to live after the war will be one in which the human person will be a mere cog and in which a beneficent, all-powerful and all-functioning State will take him up at two years of age, feed him with milk, teach him what it decides he should be taught and watch his every movement through life. My observation outside this country teaches me that when people believe that their total life is going to be controlled by officials—if I may say this without offence to any officials present—with delimited minds and with the slightly dehumanised view of the Civil Service, it is a detriment to the people and not an advantage. My experience is that the more the Government have infringed upon and invaded territory outside their legitimate territory, the more they have proved that the Government should mind their own business. There is the view that, where the whole tendency generation after generation has been for Government to take greater control and to direct the every activity of the people, the only lesson to be drawn is that they must continue to do so and that the tempo must increase. In this country for the past ten years, the Government have not minded their own business enough and they have made a mess of most things which they tackled.

There has been reference to banks asking for security other than that of Irish land. One way to understand another person's point of view is to put yourself in his position. Senator McGee said that the Irish banks were built up by the Irish people's money, Certainly. If any of us were so fortunate, or so exceptional, as to have any money, we might put it in the bank but we would do so on the understanding that, on short notice, the bank would make it available to us when we required it. Senator McGee referred to one loan which had existed for 15 years. What have we seen with regard to Irish land? In 1933, the economic war began. One letter was read in which the official of the bank said that he was quite certain the bank would grant the loan asked for if security for 25 per cent. less than the amount of the loan were provided. Suppose that, some short time before the economic war, a bank had lent money on Irish land to the value of the security, less 25 per cent. When the economic war got going, the farmers were impoverished and the people began to live merely on their savings. Would the bank's security have been adequate for the amount of the loan in these circumstances? I do not think so. We have had Ministers going around the country and stating quite clearly that, in relation to land, the ordinary meaning of the word "ownership" does not apply. We have had Ministers saying that, fundamentally, the ownership of the land in this country is in the State and not in the individual owner.

Does not the Senator realise that his remarks are now quite irrelevant to the Bill?

This Finance Bill proposes to raise money for activities of government, and I was just going to point to certain activities which are causing harm. My predecessor referred to borrowing from the banks and from the Agricultural Credit Corporation. I just want to suggest that there is something to be said on the other side. It was brought out that Irish land is not accepted as security in the same way as life insurance policies and various other things are. I want to point to three things. Ministers have gone around saying that they are going to determine the right use of the land which does not belong to the owner. If the Government says that land which I regard as mine really belongs to them, what security is that land if I have to go to the bank to borrow money? We have had land on which annuities were being paid taken over by the Government at its own assessment of value. We have had the Government determining that a farmer must use his land as Government policy at the moment requires, and, if he does not do that, then the Government has the right to take the land from him. Suppose a man has 300 acres of land and the bank lends him money on the security of that land. The Government then involves him in an economic war or something like that. The bank has lent money which it is bound to return to its depositors at short notice. What is the bank to do? I suppose that the only course for the bank is to sell the security.

If you have these farms of 300 acres all over the country and the bank calls for payment of loans, which payment is not forthcoming, is it a simple matter for the bank to sell that land? Owing to the public opinion created by the position in the 19th century and the doctrines preached since, you have immediately some sort of boycott. The ordinary man who desires to lead a quiet life will not give so many thousands of pounds for that land. He knows that organised public opinion will be directed against him. Owing to these three circumstances—the Government claim to the real ownership of the land, the Government change of policy to suit certain political needs, to the detriment of productivity and to the well-being of farming, and public opinion organised to prevent the free sale of land when seized in payment of a debt—land is not the same security as something that the bank has in its own office and can sell in the way of debentures or something similar.

Would the Senator state what member of the Government made the statement that the Government were the owners of the land?

I could refer the Senator to quite a number of statements by the Minister for Agriculture. I could refer him to statements by practically all the Ministers in which they have laid down that the ownership of land is to be understood as something different from ordinary ownership.

Ordinary ownership has been described as potestas procurandi et disponendi, the power of determining what function is to be performed and the right to determine the disposal of the fruits of it. In this country, and you will all agree that it is necessary at the moment, potestas procurandi does not exist now. You own a certain amount of land and the Government can tell you what to produce and where you will sell it at a given price. But, speech after speech I have notes of, definitely said that the ownership of land is something different from the ownership of the pound note.

It was Fintan Lalor who said it.

Fintan Lalor is no preacher of any gospel that I accept.

When dealing with a Bill like this, we are all inclined to be critical, because it strikes at every individual in the country. I think, however, that we should try to criticise it carefully and without indulging in political diatribes. Senator Fitzgerald dealt at great length with the question of the ownership of land, and he said that as a result of the action of the present Government land would not be accepted as security for the loan of money. With one part of his argument I would agree—that is with reference to the attitude of the Irish people towards the sale of land under compulsion. Naturally, as a result of the position of tenure of land during the 19th century and earlier, the Irish people, to protect themselves and their neighbours, had to adopt that attitude towards the compulsory sale of land, because in the bad old days, good, industrious people were thrown out of their holdings and their land forcibly seized and put up for sale. The Irish people were quite right at that time in adopting the attitude of opposing such a sale. Unfortunately, that spirit has remained down to the present day, and very often in a legitimate seizure and sale of land, certain people take advantage of that spirit in the Irish people. To that extent, I agree with Senator Fitzgerald that the sale of land is very often rendered abortive, and banks and other institutions lending money are rather slow to accept land as security.

I was going to follow Senator Fitzgerald in one or two of his arguments, but indulging in this sort of thing and going back to the economic war does not get us anywhere. Personally, I hold the view that it was well worth the cost and sacrifice. I know Senator Fitzgerald would not agree, and he always trots it out and manages to introduce the economic war and have a slap at the present Government on every motion on which he speaks. I will not follow him in that. As I said at the beginning, taxation strikes at every one of us, but when we criticise it and express our dislike of it, we should endeavour to do so calmly and objectively. No Government, even this terrible Government we are said to have at present, enforces taxation without due cause, and we are not living in normal times—we are living in very dangerous times. We criticise expenditure on the Army. Undoubtedly, we regret it, but we have to regard it as an absolute necessity. If precautions for defence and the protection of the people were not taken, the first people to criticise us severely and adversely for it would be the people who are criticising us now for this expenditure.

We would be asked why we did not impose taxation to build up the Army, provide air-raid shelters, and do everything to protect our people. We would be accused of being neglectful of the lives of our people, and of the liberty of the country, and when people criticise a Finance Bill they should try to remember that expenditure by the Government is incurred to endeavour to save the people from the possible consequences of the times through which we are passing. All of us must sincerely hope that we will continue to be unaffected by this war, but we have no guarantee at all, and the Government which would omit to take every precaution, even at great expense, would be criminally negligible in its duty.

We might point out, of course, many ways in which money might be saved, or alternative forms of taxation which would be easier than many of the taxes already imposed, but it does not matter in what direction your scheme of taxation goes, it is bound to hit somebody, and, eventually, the whole people have to bear the taxation no matter on what section it is imposed. I was rather interested in Senator Johnston's suggestion of alternative methods of taxation.

He put forward an ingenious idea of devoting a certain percentage of our wheat supply to the provision of white flour and the imposition of a tax of £100 per ton on it, because there are people in this country foolish enough to pay extraordinary prices for white flour, and perhaps it might not be a bad idea if these people paid that money into the Exchequer instead of into the hands of private exploiters. I do not agree at all, however, with Senator Johnston or his experts about the relative values of the 85 per cent. extraction and the 100 per cent. extraction.

May I interrupt the Senator? What I said was said with the authority of a medical expert who is also an expert in dietetics.


I find it difficult to understand what this has to do with the Finance Bill.

I agree, but Senator Johnston gave us a very interesting lecture on white flour, and he held it had a bearing on the present Bill inasmuch as his methods would afford the Government a means of imposing extra taxation without undue expense for the great body of the taxpayers. Only a certain proportion of foolish taxpayers would be subjected to this extraordinary tax.


The Senator is quite entitled to discuss it when it has been raised in the debate.

The reference to the dietetic value of the present flour is, I am afraid, out of order, but Senator Johnston got away with it.

Yes, I am afraid I did set a bad example.


I do not want to interrupt Senator Goulding in the slightest degree.

Perhaps, we had better not pursue the matter, but the idea behind the suggestion of the tax on white flour is well worthy of consideration. If there are foolish people ready to pay extraordinary prices, Senator Johnston was quite right in suggesting to the Minister that this money could be diverted to the benefit of the Exchequer. It is a very good idea and I would support the suggestion that something should be done in that direction.

I welcome your support.

Anything that would ease the burden on sensible people by transferring it to those who are not very sensible would be all to the good. As to other alternative methods of taxation, I do not think I could make any suggestion. No matter how you change it, a certain amount of money has to be procured in some way. Whether the tax is put on bicycles or anything else, it is bound to hit the people. I am afraid a point would be reached eventually when indirect taxation would defeat its own end. Senator Johnston suggested that tobacco should be increased by 8/- per lb. If taxation is increased too much on any commodity, consumption will decrease.

I agree that 8/- would probably be too much.

It would only defeat its own end. I am afraid I could suggest nothing new.

May I ask the Minister whether we are getting increased cigarettes from Britain in view of the reduced consumption? I notice that English cigarettes are now coming on sale in Irish shops, owing to the high rate of taxation over there.

It is a strange commentary on the times we live in that a Bill like this passes through both Houses with so little real criticism of the dimensions of the demands made by the Minister for Finance. Probably we are more concerned about saving life than saving money. Apparently, we are conscious of the fact that money to-day is buying less than it bought a couple of years ago, and so we permit so many millions to pass with so little discussion that one would imagine we were not actually paying these taxes ourselves at all. We have no authentic data available to-day to determine what the national income is, and what proportion of it is being collected from us by way of taxation. To get down to any really scientific basis on which we can judge how heavily the Exchequer demand presses on our citizens, it is essential for us to have annual information which would make it possible to see very closely what the total national income is. That information is not available. Consequently, when we are asked about the effects of this Budget on the citizens of the State, we can only express the views passed on to us from conversations and discussions we may have had with people with whom we come into contact.

Taxation will press more heavily than last year on a great many of our citizens and in a great many more ways it will tend to crush them still more than last year. In many instances, the real incomes of the people have fallen considerably. Despite some evidence to the contrary, a great many of our farming incomes will be lower this year than last year, and the burden of taxation will be heavier. My main concern is that Ministers—in this House or the other House, jointly or severally, or at any time—have given no clear indication as to what plans are being made to ensure that our own citizens in the future will be earning sufficient income to enable them to bear the burdens of taxation that may fall on them. None of us can prophesy about the future, but from any study I have given it, I do not see how we are to be kept down to the old pre-war levels of money values. Consequently, if we are thinking in terms of £40,000,000 only in regard to expenditure, we should be studying our position to see whether it will be possible for us to have the earnings to make those contributions to the Exchequer.

Senator Johnston dealt at length with the problem of one branch of the agricultural industry. I have always been convinced that the earning capacity of the people is determined almost entirely by their capacity to get increased incomes from the land. Whatever incomes may be passed on eventually to people in cities and towns, they are only made available, in the first instance, by the primary producers from the soil being able to provide something that did not exist before. These goods or services, rendered in one shape or another and passed on to the towns and cities or even outside the country, depend practically entirely on the productivity and the prosperity level of the people on the land. I am perturbed about the position existing at the moment. In certain branches of our agricultural industry, I see incomes falling considerably below those of last year. Individual farmers may find their incomes going up in some cases, but I doubt if, in any branch of agriculture, the income will surpass that of last year. Perhaps, to a certain extent, it may do so in some branches of the cattle trade. Whatever the situation may be, there is great necessity, in these days, for more study of the policy we are to pursue in the future.

No one can foresee when or how this war will end or where it will end, whether we will be belligerents or remain on the outskirts in comparative peace, but whenever or however it ends, the chaotic condition in which the world will find itself and the efforts at planning which men will attempt, with the warped ideas that they will have, can be nothing but grotesque and tragic, for some period, in their consequences, as war is tragic for the present generation. I am impatient that more steps are not taken to make plans for the future. I do not mean a plan about one particular line of activity, but a plan for all our people, whatever their activities, whatever services or energies they can give. For instance, with regard to our bogs and their exploitation, what is the Ministerial plan for the future? I have raised it here before on a previous occasion when the Parliamentary Secretary was present. He put a question to me on the subject. I should like to know from the Minister if the Government's attitude about this is that whatever the future brings the future policy for this State is the continuous exploitation of bogs to the utmost limits. All sorts of people will be displeased and dissatisfied with that decision, but in my judgment—and I am prepared to say it anywhere—we have figures which indicate that we have in our bogs fuel for about 300 years; we have vast expanses holding millions of gallons of water which the country would be better without, and there is the possibility of clearing that area for afforestation or tillage. I am not satisfied to leave that unexploited and to see year after year men leaving this country for various periods, sometimes for the whole year as they have been going for the past two years. They are men of brawn and energy, the very type we require at home to do that sort of work. They are competent and fit to carry out that type of exploitation. I would like to hear what the Government's policy in this matter is because in my opinion it is not a Party question but a big national problem. The sooner the nation has clear ideas about it the better.

With regard to our agricultural problems generally, I confess that I do not know where we stand. I do not know if the Minister for Agriculture can give any indication whatever as to what he thinks is going to be the line of agricultural policy that can be most profitably developed here in the future. This is not the time to get into a contentious argument as to what branch can be and must be properly pursued when this war is past. I have definite views as to the activities we are now engaged in but it is questionable whether they can be continued in the future on present lines.

In my opinion there is nothing like sufficient study being given to the whole problem of the future of agriculture. There is no scientific study being given to the soil in our fields, to the suitability of particular soils for the production of certain crops, to the method and type of development being pursued in different areas and to the particular kind of agricultural activity which is most suited by nature, soil and such factors to particular districts. If we are going to get full productivity from the land, we cannot expect to get good wheat from fields which can only successfully grow a reasonable crop of oats, and we cannot expect to get beet from soil that is admirably suited to potatoes. It is unprofitable to be trying to cultivate beet in potato land or to grow wheat on poor soil. It is not the most profitable method of carrying out tillage. I would like to put this to the Minister, that we have not given anything like an adequate study to the proper utilisation of our soil on the scientific basis which is essential for the full and proper development of agriculture. I think, too, that the whole capacity of our people to earn in the future incomes that will put them in a position to pay taxes at the present level is going to be determined entirely by the use we are going to make of our soil.

The Minister is at a disadvantage in trying to deal with a question like this. He can say that it is not his forte, not his concern. I accept that, but it is the responsibility of the Executive. I have seen statements made by the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Education that some sort of expert committee is going to be set up to study the problem of agriculture in the future. Something ought to be done about that. Eighteen months or two years ago the Agricultural Commission ceased work and stopped the operations on which it was engaged, namely, studying and recommending what was best for agriculture. Now, while we are not doing this it is a remarkable thing that even in the midst of all their belligerency Britain is trying to do it. She is planning for the future. One cannot read an American newspaper without being convinced of the intensity with which the people interested in agriculture in that part of the world are pursuing their studies in relation to the future.

Reading the document that is styled "The Atlantic Charter" and seeing what is enunciated there, the discussions about the freedom that all peoples are to enjoy in the exploitation of the raw materials of the world and so forth, one cannot help feeling how much out of harmony that declaration is with the policy that is being pursued in the British attitude to this country. Senator Johnston dealt with that question at length. It is a very good thing to have Senator Johnston, elected to this House by those who had votes in Trinity College, voicing his opinion of that development—the stupid folly of the British people in their commercial dealings with our farmers when, by giving them a straight deal, farmers here would be put in a position where they would be competent to produce very much more goods for sale in the British market.

We find, however, that a situation has been created where the farmers here have practically reached the limit of production, because the price levels of exports to the British market are now under the cost of production. It is a fine thing that Senator Johnston should have introduced that question in order to reinforce the arguments that have been advanced by the representatives of this country when dealing with the British Ministry. If Britain imagines that at any time in the future the farmers of this country are going to allow themselves to be put in the position of producing goods and selling them at prices below the cost of production, then I say that we must change our conditions. We must put ourselves in the position whereby we are not going to continue under conditions like that. If we are faced with that situation, then I would like to have alternatives. I think we ought to be seeking alternatives here within our own shores. We ought to be giving intensive study to our own resources of fuel, soil, etc. We should also consider the human instrument, and remember that we have the brains and the brawn, and we should decide what is to be done to utilise all these resources in such a way as to raise the standard of life of our people to the highest possible level, assuming that the people outside this country are not prepared to trade with us at a reasonable price level for the exchange of commodities.

I urge on the Minister that there are all sorts of problems involved in the administration of his office as Minister for Finance. If one studies all these problems one finds that they have all to be related to the capacity of our climate and of our land to produce and that the effectiveness of the land to produce will be determined by the plans that are made. I agree with Senator Fitzgerald that it is unwise for the State to poke its nose into every farm-house to see how the housewife cooks the dinner. I am thinking of the future, of life in a sort of totalitarian world, and of our trying to survive. We must have some plan. We must not find ourselves in the position that we just do not know how we are going to occupy our people, to what sort of activities their energies should be turned and whether they are going to be profitable or not. I should like to have as many strings to our bow as possible so that we can exploit whatever one of these may be best for us nationally.

I should like to make some reference to the question of the provision of credit for farmers, because even to-day a proper approach to that question is essential to the proper exploitation of our lands. I have repeatedly in this House, even before the present Minister took up Office, even more frequently and loudly than anyone else, protested against the high rates of interest that are charged to farmers and indeed to the community in general for the use of money. I think that in this matter of the use of money there has been an outrageous exploitation of our people over a number of years. In these terrible years, money interests in seeking to preserve some shred of their power for the future, are receding into comparative insignificance knowing that the people in these terrible times would be intolerant if unjust demands were made upon them, but to-morrow, when the crisis has passed, money will come back and will try to assert its former power and make the same extraordinary demands on humanity which it made in the past. That is something we should not stand for here; high rates of interest on loans required by farmers, by local authorities to build houses or by any other group of people who require money to further the common good, are unreasonable. They are inhuman; they are retarding progress. All of us should set our faces against them because this country as a young nation, striking out towards further development, will be thwarted at every turn by that terrible monster, as you might call it, unless we seek to control it now.

No body of our citizens has been at a greater disadvantage over a long period of years owing to the high rates of interest than our farmers. I have heard it argued repeatedly in this House, in the other House, and even at meetings of the board of which I was a member for seven years, that I per cent. did not make much difference to farmers; that it did not make much difference whether you charged a farmer 4, 5 or 6 per cent. on a loan. My answer to that is that farming generally is such a poorly-paid occupation that the farmer is compelled to count his profit or his surplus not in tens, twenties or hundreds of pounds, but in tens, twenties and hundreds of pence, as it has to be distributed over so many different claimants. The fact, therefore, whether money rates are high or comparatively low profoundly affects the farmer's whole attitude towards borrowing. If we want, and I believe it is a desirable necessity, more capital for agriculture, if we want a measure of exploitation of our land, which is not inhuman, then in my judgment we ought to be talking not of 4 per cent., 5 per cent. or 6 per cent. interest on money advanced to farmers; we must look for money at a rate not higher than 2 per cent. We must not be looking merely for £1,000,000 or £2,000,000. In my judgment, we can put £5,000,000 a year into Irish agriculture every year for the next 20 years.

The fruits which would flow from that increased capital devoted to agriculture would have the effect of raising the standard of life and the incomes of our people to such a level that conditions here would reach a point far beyond that for which our most sanguine expectations had permitted us to hope. All that, however, has to be done on a scientific basis. There is no use in giving money to a farmer to produce a commodity if that commodity has to be sold at a price under the cost of production and the costs of production are going to be higher for the farmer if he is charged a rate of 5 or 6 per cent. instead of 2 per cent. on his loans. There is again no use in producing a commodity if there is no consuming public for that commodity. There is no use in trying to produce a particular commodity profitably in a field if a scientific examination of the soil clearly demonstrates that you could not profitably grow that particular crop in that particular field. That all leads back to the point that there is a crying necessity for a closer examination of the problem of where we are leading to with regard to the future in agriculture, a closer examination than any we have made up to the present.

I would urge on the Minister—this is not a petty matter; I am not attempting to score a political point— that this examination has not been yet made at all in this country. I agree that we are only clearing away the debris, a good deal of which we created for ourselves, but at least now we can see that there is necessity to prepare for the future. I think it is clear to all of us that more planning must be done if we are to have any control over our future and if we are to provide most of our necessities for ourselves. There are certain things which we cannot provide and which it would be stupid economically for us to attempt to provide. There has to be a balance in all things. There again we have got to do some studying because it is very probable that we shall have to cut out some of the productivity in which we have been trying to engage, not very successfully, up to the present. I recognise the insularity of our position but we are still living in the world and we shall be part I hope of the more constructive world that will emerge from this war. If we are to make our contribution to that reconstruction we shall have to stimulate more constructive thought amongst our people here.

While I know this Budget demand is very high it seems to me there again that our level of taxation, the basis on which we decide how much we require for national expenditure, has been up to the present that sort of spectacular effort that appeals more to the public than would that sort of reasonable, sensible, constructive statesmanship which is essential. I think that in future we shall have to do things that are not too popular. We have got to do things that are sensible and can be defended on the basis of reason. We must not permit ourselves to think that our taxation can be increased because every demand, made by people who have not an opportunity of studying all the data available to them to decide whether policies are wise or not, must be conceded.

Our Budget demand is high to-day because a certain amount of that policy has been pursued in the past. We probably cannot go back on that now, but I think in that respect the top level has been reached. I do urge that the Minister and the Ministry—if they are to make it possible for us to have higher incomes to meet possibly higher expenditure in the future or even to keep up to the level of expenditure the Minister is imposing now— should make certain that there will be security for our income in so far as the exchanging of goods and services to the full measure amongst our own people can be made possible by internal organisation of our resources. I do not think there is that clear planning of policy which is essential to provide that situation, and I urge on the Minister that every consideration should be given to that aspect of our financial position.

Business suspended at 6 o'clock, and resumed at 7 o'clock.

Níl agam le déanamh ach mo thuairim do thabhairt ar chúpla ceist a tógadh annseo indiu, gidh nach raibh mórán bainte acu leis an Bhille atá os ar gcomhair. Rinneadh tagairt do sheilbh na talmhan agus do cháirde na bhféirmeóirí. Ní thuigim go bhfuil aon fháth ceist seilbh na talmhan do thógáil annseo. Tá buan-seilbh na talmhan ag an náisiún no ag an phobal agus is riachtanach sin don phobal. Thaisbeáin na daoine do labhair ar son na bhfeirmeóirí gur riachtanach an talamh do bheatha na ndaoine. Dubhradh go luigheann beatha na ndaoine sna bailte móra agus san tuaith ar an talamh. Más fíor é sin, is riachtanach an talamh don Stáit agus bheadh sé baoghalach an talamh sin do thabhairt do dhaoine áirithe—cur i gcás na feirmeóirí. Rinne na tighearnaí talmhan an t-éileamh céadhna ach níor ghlac an náisiún leis an éileamh sin— go raibh seilbh síorruidhe acu ar an talamh—ariamh. Tá seilbh measardha buan-seasta ag na feirmeóirí fá láthair. Níl mórán imnidhe ar an Seanadóir McGee no ar an Seanadóir Baxter go dtógfar uathu an talamh atá acu muna dtagann na Puncánaí isteach. Cho fada agus atá an náisiún seo ar a bonnaibh, an seilbh atá acu tá sé seasta go leor agus ba ceart na feirmeóirí a bheith in ann cáirde réasúnta d'fhághail air.

Tá luach maith le fagháil ar an talamh. Tá sean-chuimhne agam ar thalmhaidheacht agus ní cuimhin liom luach níos fearr ar thalamh ar feadh ceithre scór bliain ná mar atá anois, ach amháin ar feadh tamaillín i rith an chogaidh mhór roimh an chogadh seo. Taisbeánann sin go bhfuil adhbhar cáirdis go leór ag na feirmeóirí. Muna bhfuil cáirdeas á thabhairt dóibh is orthu fhéin atá an locht toisc nach bhfuil siad ag baint an tortha ceart as an talamh no nach bhfuil siad ag déanamh a ndichill a bheith compórdach ar an talamh. Tá a lán daoine den tseort sin i gach ceird cho mhaith le talmhaidheacht. Ma tá a leitheid ann agus ma tá siad ro-fhallsa no má tá siad cho aineolach sin nach bhfuil siad in ann feidhm do bhaint as an talamh, níl neart againn air. Caithfear an "Dole" do thabhairt dóibh.

Tá rud eile ann: tá luach maith ar thalamh. Aon fheirmeóir ag a bhfuil talamh, geobha sé luach maith air. Má thógann an Stát an talamh uaidh ar adhbhar áirithe, tugfar luach dó. Ní tógfar talamh gan luach d'íoc, do réir mar thuigim an scéal. Mar sin, nach adhbhar cáirde talamh? Nach bhfuil san luach sin barántas don bhanc no don fhear ghaimbín? Is dóigh liom nach bhfuil aon bhonn leis an ghearán seo go bhfuil éagcóir ghá dhéanamh ar na feirmeóirí.

Is annamh a bhím ar aon-chomhairle leis an Seanadóir Baxter ach aontuighim le cuid mhaith den méid adubhairt sé indiu. Dubhairt sé go raibh rud eile le déanamh leis an talamh seachas buachalláin agus a leitheid a bheith ag fás ar. Rinne sé tagairt do fhoraoisíocht agus triomú na seascan agus obair na móna—móin do bhaint. Má ghlacann an Riaghaltas ar fhéin é sin do dhéanamh, caithfidh siad cuid de na feirmeóirí do dhíbirt agus an áit do ghlanadh mar a rinneadh ag Poll a' Phúca. Thiocfadh níos mó maitheasa as sin don Stát ná an méid dochair a déanfaí do na feirmeóirí. Bhéarfar luach maith ar an talamh. Táim ar aon-intinn leis an Seanadóir Baxter, mar adeirim, gur ceart rud eile seachas feirmóireacht do dhéanamh leis an talamh. Rachfainn rud beag níos fuide ná mar a chuaidh an Seanadóir Baxter. Tá feirmeóirí ann nach bhfuil oiriúnach do thalmhaidheacht toisc go bhfuil siad ro-lag no roaineolach chun feidhm mhaith do bhaint as an talamh. Thógfainn an talamh uathu. Bhéarfainn a luach dóibh agus bhéarfainn an talamh do na daoine a bhéarfadh aire ní b'fhearr dó. Bheadh níos mó buntáiste don Stát agus don phobal as sin.

Ní raibh súil agam dul cho fada agus a chuaidh mé ach ba mhaith liom cupla focal a rá maidir leis an Bhille fhéin. Is maith an rud é a thabhairt fá deara nach bhfuil na lochtaí le fagháil ar an mBille annseo, go dtuigtear gurb é an Bille is fearr agus is réasúnta is féidir linn fhagháil fá láthair. Tá a fhíos agam go raibh an pobal an-shásta leis. Nuair a léigh siad an Budget agus nuair a thuig siad nach mbéadh a thuille cánacha le díol acu fá láthair leig siad osna asta. Sílim go bhfuil siad sásta go fóill. Má lochtuigheann daoine an Bille annseo, níl d'uchtach acu aon chuid den Bille a lochtú.

Na daoine adeir go bhfuil cáin antrom ar gach rud, bhfuil siad a rádh go bhfuil barraidheacht airgid á chaitheamh ar an Arm, nó ar scolaidheacht, nó ar déantusaí. Bíonn siad ag cainnt fán iomlán atá le díol, ach má theastuigheann uainn sin a laigheadú caithfimid a theasbáint cén áit is féidir linn baint as an gcostas. Níl de mhisneach ag aoinne annseo é sin a dhéanamh. Molaim an Bille agus tá súil agam go nglacfaimid leis.

I wish to refer to some of the remarks made here this evening in connection with the drainage of bogs and the making of by-roads. Some two years ago some Senators appealed to the Government to have our own bogs drained and proper passes made from them to the homes of the people who proposed to produce turf. I am sorry to say that, up to the present, nothing has been done, and the only excuse put up was that it would require a number of unemployed in the particular area before they could see their way to allow a grant to have this necessary work carried out. The result was that they could not, in any particular area, get the number that they required. The bogs are there and no drainage has been carried out. Very little turf has been cut this year, and practically none was cut last year. The same applies to the passes and the by-roads leading to and from bogs. It is a pity to see so many young men in the towns and villages unemployed at the moment, when they could be usefully employed on this work. It has been pointed out here also that some have left the Twenty-Six Counties and gone elsewhere, who could have been employed in useful work. I want also to stress the question of credit to farmers, which was debated here this evening.


I do not like to interrupt the Senator, but I must point out that neither of those subjects has the slightest relation to the Finance Bill. They have been discussed and I do not like to stop the Senator, but this debate has gone beyond all bounds of relevancy.

If the farmers did get credit at a reasonable rate of interest they would have made good use of it. I admit there are failures in the farming community, and that some of them have not honoured their bond to the extent of paying back the loans they have got; but that does not mean that, if the general body of farmers got loans at a reasonable rate, they would not repay them. They would make good use of them and the State would benefit by it.

I should like to take advantage of the wide range usually afforded in the discussion on the Finance Bill, to secure the Minister's benevolent interest in some matters of vital importance to the people of Galway. The Minister has been so long Minister for Local Government and Public Health that he has been brought well into touch with their needs. Even if he were capable of it, it would be impossible for him to assume the Job-like attitude traditionally associated with the Department of Finance. County Galway, like the rest of Ireland, has to deplore an increasing incidence of tuberculosis.


That is a subject for discussion on the Appropriation Bill.

I take it that one can discuss the disposal of the moneys raised in taxes?


Not on this Bill. The disposal of the moneys is a subject for another discussion later. If it were taken now, we would only have the same discussion over again.

Would I be in order in dealing with emigration on the scale that is being allowed at present?


That will come up on the Appropriation Bill. The Minister for Finance to conclude.

If I may say so, without disrespect to anybody, I wish the Leas-Chathaoirleach were not only in the Chair for a longer time but that he were in another place as well. It would be very useful for Ministers. Without disrespect to anyone who has spoken, I take it as a kind of compliment to the Budget, which is the foundation of the Finance Bill which we are discussing to-day, that so little was said about it and that so much time was spent in discussing other matters. I take it there was really nothing much to condemn in the Budget. I am sure there would not have been any disability on members of this honourable House, and no disposition to mince their words, if there had been much to condemn. It is certainly something to which the Minister for Finance is not accustomed— to have his Finance Bill greeted by discussion on matters that do not appertain to it, when the opportunity is given for the usual criticism—justly given, of course—that one expects on such occasions.

Some speeches made to-day did contain suggestions as to how our financial situation might be improved and, if additional taxation is necessary, how the additional revenue might be secured. Senator Johnston, the first speaker to-day, made such a speech. I cannot say that I approve exactly of the methods he suggested, or that I could promise him I would take one of his suggestions seriously into consideration. He attempted some kind of constructive suggestion as to how the Minister might get more money. A Minister for Finance always is grateful to anyone who will point out ways by which his revenue can be increased.

When the Minister thinks about it more, he may think differently.

First of all, it might bring some benefit in the matter of the black market. The Senator developed to some extent the question of the black market in flour and other things. That is a matter very largely for the Minister for Supplies. If it could be arranged that the black market could be abolished, and at the same time, that the Minister for Finance would reap no inconsiderable benefit from that improvement in organisation and the enforced improvement, shall I say, in the morals of our people, it would be an advantage to all concerned. My own opinion is that so long as we have restrictions, so long as we have rationing and other kinds of emergency measures that go with present conditions—the conditions of war—and so long as human nature continues to be human, you will have black markets. That is the truth, I believe, and no matter how advanced the Governmental machine may be here, or in any other country, there will be people who will get through the nets and try to make profits out of the difficulties of the situation. I think it is a fact that in these countries governed, not in a democratic way, but in a dictatorial fashion, where we are told that the governmental machine is regarded as 100 per cent. efficient, there are black markets. If we are to believe what the Press tells us, in some of these countries there is hardly a day in the year on which people are not imprisoned or shot for black market operations.

My suggestion was that the Minister should go in and whiten it in the public interest.

He might come out blacker than he went in.

He might be shot!

He might. I do not know if it would be good for the Minister himself or for the Government.

Could he not regard himself as whitening the black market?

I do not think I need any whitening or whitewashing. I do not think it is necessary in any particular case. I do not think any Minister would be justified in getting into that trade. It would be unusual, of course, if the Minister for Finance were praised positively for any type of Finance Bill or Budget he brought in—that is, praised from the Opposition Benches. I would not expect that. I was not, naturally, surprised when Senator Johnston criticised me for doing just what he suggested I should do some years ago.

Only doing it the wrong way round.

Of course, I could never do it the right way for the Opposition. No matter what I did I would be told I should have done it in some other way. That is to be expected. But the Senator did at some time recommend borrowing, and borrowing was recommended from the Opposition Benches in the Dáil and very strongly recommended to me last year by Front Bench Opposition speakers, and the same speakers—I was able to quote two of them at considerable length this year—condemned me vigorously for having borrowed. However, that I do not complain of, but I think I ought to pay the Senator the compliment of adopting, maybe, as he said here, too late, the advice that I should borrow.

We would not be too hard on you for borrowing.

Thanks very much. I think I was wise, and I think that would be the general verdict of the Dáil and Seanad if they dropped politics for a moment and told the whole truth. I was interested in the remarks of Senators Johnston and Baxter about borrowing and about the cost of borrowing by the Government and by local authorities. Senator Baxter developed it at considerable length and I agree that we had to pay very heavily for borrowing during the last 20 years. We had to pay very high rates of interest, but there was no way out. Now, for a variety of reasons, not all under our own control, money is cheap and I do not in the least object to discussions on this matter in the Dáil or Seanad pointing out why I should get money cheaper and how, in the view of the speakers, I could get it cheaper. I hope that the country at large will take note of the views of their elected representatives in the Seanad and in the Dáil. A great many of our people, even what might be called the poorer classes, have not great sums, but they have savings in the banks, and in the Post Office Savings Bank, and I would like to see them getting the same mentality about this matter that, say, Senator Baxter and Senator Johnston have, and that others inside and outside the Oireachtas have, but which those people, particularly those who control the savings, have not yet developed. Those who have money, when we want loans, generally look for the best price they can get for their money. There are times like the present when the State is entitled to get service and sacrifice from everybody, and I hope the discussions we have had in recent weeks on the question of loans for the use of the State and for local authorities, and the rates of interest paid for borrowed money, will become a matter of more widespread interest by our people.

I agree with Senators who have spoken to-day on the matter that, while individuals will not derive great profit personally from the rate of interest that I hope will become operative for some time to come, in the end they will benefit in other ways. The State as a whole, the local authorities as a whole, will benefit by being able to get money for capital expenditure, if necessary, at low rates of interest, and the cost of the Governmental machine and the running of the State and the local authorities will be reduced accordingly. They will thus save both in taxation and in rates eventually. It would be for the benefit of the State and the nation that we should get money at as low a rate of interest as it is possible with justice to secure it. I have not any estimate of the current national income or figures that I would like to quote for Senator Johnston or for the House. Nothing of an authoritative nature has been done recently that I am aware of, but I think it would be useful to have it. Some time, when those who are charged with the responsibility of producing the State statistics can turn their minds to it, like Senator Johnston and others, I would like to see an authoritative estimate made of what our current national income might be.

Would the Minister like me to put on record an estimate by Professor Duncan of the income of Eire in recent years? It is available in a paper read before the Statistical Society on 20th October, 1939.

Perhaps the Senator would care to read it out, or is it too long?

According to Professor Duncan's estimate our income in 1938 was 156.7 millions; in 1939 he gives it as 154.5 millions. That was the estimate given in this paper, but I heard him say recently that the present income is probably in the region of 160 millions.

Is that Professor Duncan's own estimate?

Yes, it is the most recent one on record. It is given in the paper of the Statistical Society which Senators can see.

I think I saw it, but what I would like to get is an official estimate of some kind.

An official estimate made by and for the State. Senator Johnston spoke at length on the question of the price of our agricultural produce, and I certainly was pleased to hear the line he took. I think it is a fair line, a reasonable line and, I thought, a line that nobody could object to. I believe that the Minister for Agriculture and his Department have been doing everything humanly possible since the war began, and before it, to try to improve prices.

We want to help them all we can here.

I think the Senator gave the Minister and his Department credit for that in his speech. It is true that they have been doing everything possible, but they have not succeeded in getting anything like the price which they think the farmers of Ireland should get, particularly for fat cattle, butter, pigs and eggs. No doubt they will continue to try, whether with greater success than they have had up to the present or not remains to be seen. I think that a speech like Senator Johnston's is bound to be helpful.

I am glad to hear you say so.

I do not think any Minister, the Minister for Agriculture no more than myself, would object to criticism of the kind expressed by the Senator to-day. It was just as well to let everybody know, on this side and on the other side, what our people think of the prices we are getting, and, in so far as the people are dissatisfied, public representatives should voice that criticism and let the Minister and the Government know that they would like them to do better if they could.

As I have often said in this House before, I am not, in speaking of matters like this, competent to discuss with Senator Johnston, Senator Baxter and the other people who understand agriculture and who are able to discuss it—some of them in a scientific way and in a practical way—what we should do to improve agriculture, the steps that should be taken to improve farming, to improve our prospects, and incidentally, as Senator Baxter properly said, improve the standard of living and perhaps improve our revenue as well. I do believe, however, from what I have learned from time to time, that the question of the future of agriculture is not being lost sight of—the question of how our farmers might better fit themselves to face what we may have to face when this war is concluded, the competition that there may be, the new people that may come into the markets that we have had, the fact that the main and principal market that we have had up to the present may not be available to the same extent in the future if Britain develops her agriculture or continues to develop it as she is doing now. These things are being considered but what progress has exactly been made I am not in a position to know.

Will the Minister say by whom they are being considered?

I understand they are being considered by the Department of Agriculture. They have a staff of competent people but no doubt there will be opportunities when the Minister for Agriculture is here of putting to him the questions that were asked to-day.

The trouble is that we rarely have the Minister for Agriculture here in a type of debate where one could make these suggestions. On the occasions when he is here we cannot have a general discussion.

In my experience Senators are not very tightly tied up in that respect. I think almost anything can be raised.

The Senators can put down motions.

That is true; a motion could be put down.

Do I understand from the Minister that the staff of the Department of Agriculture is engaged in studying post-war agricultural policy? Is that the position?

I believe that to be so. Another matter relating to agriculture which was raised by several Senators—Senator McGee as well as Senator Baxter and incidentally by Senator Johnston—was the question of agricultural credit. That has been considered by a body specially called into existence in the last few weeks, but how far they have got I do not know. There are others, colleagues of Senator McGee, who would inform him better than I could as to how these discussions have gone.

They are exploring avenues.

There are discussions of some kind going on.

I suppose the proceedings are confidential.

Presumably so, but the discussions are going on. Though not an agriculturist, I realise that our whole economy is founded on agriculture.

Hear, hear!

And that we have to look to the success of agriculture for the economic and financial prosperity of the country. That I believe to be a fact, and if agriculture is not prosperous then the country cannot be prosperous. A very large majority of our people are bound up in one way or another with the welfare of agriculture. A great majority of our population are bound up with its welfare, and it is therefore to all our interests to see that agriculture prospers. I am not speaking of any particular class of agriculture. Agriculture is a big, wide term and embraces what one might call a variety of industries. We all want to see it successful and prosperous. I have, however, a doubt in my mind, speaking particularly about agriculture, as to whether there is a very great need for credit. I have a doubt in my mind about that, especially at the present time.

You need have none.

Might I point out that, because of the fact that there is not enough credit, we have not enough wheat, enough bread or enough sugar, and that we shall not have enough butter or enough bacon next year?

I do not think that the want of credit is responsible for that. I shall not develop that line, but I am hoping that if there is such a demand for credit or if it is so necessary, as some Senators in this House seem to believe, that will be shown and certainly I, as Minister for Finance, am prepared to go as far as anybody can go, within the limits of our resources, to meet, if it be properly proved, that demand for credit for agriculture as a whole.

I might point out that the reduction in the number of milch cows in the country would go to show that there is great need for credit, because the farmers were not in a position to replace these cows.

I am talking again as a tyro, or in fact, as an ignoramus about agriculture—I should really not talk about agriculture—but I think that in the case of the credits which were provided for the purchase of milch cows, for the first year or two there was a considerable demand and then it dwindled. There is practically no demand at present. That is my belief speaking from recollection.

Nach adhbhar cáirde luach an talmhan?

Sin ceist eile. Creidim gurb é an gearán roinnt bliain ó shoin gur tugadh an iomarca cáirde ar thalamh. Speaking for myself as Minister, if the case is proved to my satisfaction and to the Government's satisfaction, I am prepared to recommend credit within the limits of our resources. Some people may have extravagant ideas, or what would appear to me as extravagant ideas at any rate, of the sum that might be necessary. Within reasonable limits I am prepared to see that agriculture as well as other industries—there is machinery for providing credit for other industries as there is to a certain extent for agriculture also—is provided with reasonable credit facilities. The present machinery might be enlarged or improved. I should like to see such machinery enlarged or improved and that credit should be made available with greater freedom, if I am satisfied that there is a demand for the extension of credit.

Would the Minister say how it would be possible to have this case proven to him? How would he suggest it would be done or whose responsibility it would be to do it?

There is one small ad hoc body sitting at present and it may be able to lay the foundations. I do not know whether it can but I should like to see the results of its investigations anyhow. Senator McGee mentioned one other matter—the question of the Agricultural Grant. Before the Senator returned to the Chamber I think I had already spoken about the cost of loans for local authorities. The Agricultural Grant at present is a very considerable sum and if it were to be increased, it again would add to the expenses of government. Senators object to the cost of government at present. In asking that the Agricultural Grant be increased, Senators are asking for one section of the community a special advantage for which the whole community would have to pay. I think, as things stand at present, the Agricultural Grant is not ungenerous. Then again, as I said earlier, if the cost of loans to local authorities is reduced, if credit is provided at a very low rate for farmers, if it becomes necessary for the State to step in—I do not say that I am quite convinced that it would be necessary—it might happen that the State would have to subsidise credit and that would again add to the cost of government. However, these are matters that will come up again for consideration.

I should like Senators to realise that there is no disposition on my part, and certainly no general disposition on the part of the Government, to penalise agriculture. On the contrary, my view, as a city man, and as Minister for Finance as well, is that agriculture should be treated as generously as the State can afford to treat that community which is so important. It is true that the agriculturist does not get anything like the profit out of his hard work that the industrialist gets, no matter how hard he works. It is not in agriculture to give the same profit.

That is a fair admission but it is rarely made.

Senator McGee talked of the difficulty of getting credit on land for farmers from the banks. Since I became Minister for Finance, I have not had any cases brought before me in which difficulties were experienced by farmers in getting credit. Possibly they may be of opinion that there would not be much use in coming to the Minister for Finance, but industrialists do come to me and I have helped them. If there were farmers in the same position and that I could help them, I should be very happy to do so, but my recollection of the last war—and I mentioned here not long ago some experiences of mine with regard to loans to farmers during the last war—is that complaints were then made that the banks were too generous in giving loans, that they lavished money and encouraged farmers to come to them for money.

The mistake then made was that they offered money to enable farmers to buy more land.

It was money for agriculture anyhow.

There was a difference in the object for which the money was offered.

As the Minister has offered to provide so many facilities for the agricultural community would he consider, now that money is so cheap and plentiful—it is not all farmers money, of course—raising money to pay off the debts due by small poor urban districts who borrowed at a rate of 5¾ per cent. and let them have it again at a cheaper rate—a sort of funded loan?

Might I suggest that the Minister be allowed to make his speech?

We should all like to get our overdrafts and our loans reduced, but it would also help some of us, especially local authorities, if we collected our rates a little better, and collected our cottage rents a little better.

Mr. Honan rose.


This subject is not relevant to the debate. The Minister must be allowed to speak without interruption.

We have a large number of new cottages in Ennis——

I was not referring to Ennis in particular.

The arrears at the end of last year were only £6.

I had better not go into my experience as Minister for Local Government; I might be out of order. One other matter which Senator Johnston mentioned was the question of tobacco. I am not a user of the weed, but I have great sympathy with smokers, particularly with the poor man who smokes hard tobacco. The price of tobacco at present is terrific. I should not like to see the price any higher if I could avoid it.

On that point, might I ask the Minister a question? Was there any increased import of manufactured cigarettes from England recently on account of bringing in a higher duty here?

There was one occasion in recent times when there was a large import of cigarettes. Those cigarettes were exported from England and meant for somewhere else. They could not be delivered for one reason or another, and the manufacturers sent them to this country. The Minister for Finance got a considerable amount of extra tax, and our people benefited.

That was not accounted for in the Budget when it was originally framed?

All is grist that comes to the mill of the Minister for Finance. There is a prohibition now on the export of manufactured tobacco from Britain. Britain has not allowed the exportation of leaf tobacco since the beginning of the emergency. As I said, large quantities—some millions of cigarettes—did come into this country as a kind of windfall. They were intended for export to other places but delivery there was no longer possible. They were sent in here—I will not use the word "dumped", because I think our smokers were glad to get them, and the Minister for Finance was glad to get the revenue. I do not think I agreed at any time that we are taxed beyond our capacity. I do not think Senator Fitzgerald, if he intended to quote me, quoted me correctly. I did not say that, and that was not the reason why no new taxation was put on in the Budget this year. I did say in the course of my speech to-day that, if it were necessary, a diligent search —I am sure those were the words I used—would find other sources of revenue and other forms of taxation that could be developed to advantage and bring in further revenue. Senator Fitzgerald asked about the cost of the Army, and as to whether the amount budgeted for this year would be sufficient to cover the cost of the Army as increased during the course of the year. Yes; the amount budgeted was intended to cover any increase that might develop in the Army services during the course of the current financial year.

I should like to discuss that with the Minister on the figures.

As the Senator knows, probably better than I do, there is constant wastage in the Army, and, therefore, they have to keep the recruiting campaign going in order to make up that wastage. In addition to that I know there is a desire in the Army—in the Government generally— still further to increase the Army.

The proposed increase was budgeted for?

Yes. With regard to one other point raised by Senator Fitzgerald, that is the question of income-tax, I do not believe I ever heard the subject raised in the manner in which Senator Fitzgerald raised it to-day. Concubinage is not such a common thing in this country——

So you are doing your best to encourage it?

——that we need be so anxious to discourage it. I think if anybody were to do his best, there are other means which might be suggested besides the one mentioned by Deputy Fitzgerald.

A financial argument is always convincing.

It is true—I asked one of the officials here who is familiar with all the details of income-tax— that a single man and a single woman living together with a certain income might derive a small financial advantage over the married couple, but I suggest that the advantages of going into matrimony outweigh by far the advantages that may be claimed by Senator Fitzgerald and others for the unmarried state. I will not go into what the disadvantages are. It is suggested to me that one of the disadvantages is insecurity of tenure. At any rate, if there are children, or even if there is one child of the marriage, the financial advantages of the married state far outweigh whatever advantages some people claim for the other state. I have figures here with regard to a single man and a single woman, showing how the income-tax rates affect married versus single people. A single man with £300 a year, earned income, would get earned income relief, £60; personal allowance, £120; that gives a total of £180, leaving £120 taxable income. Of that, £100 would be taxed at 3/9, and £20 at 7/6. The tax payable would be £26 5s. Od. The same applies to the single woman with £300 a year earned income.

I dealt with unearned income.

The principle would be the same.

But the figures would be different.

If the Senator is particularly interested, I will get the figures for unearned income.

It does not matter. I took one particular instance, and I found that there would be a loss of £50 a year.

In the case of those two unmarried people living together, their total income-tax payable would be £52 10s. Od. In the case of a husband and wife with £600 earned income, the earned income relief would be £120; the marriage allowance would be £220; the wife's earned income allowance would be £45. That gives a total of £385, leaving £215 taxable income. Of that, £100 would be taxed at 3/9, and £115 at 7/6, and the tax payable in that case would be £61 17s. 6d.

I will give you a case with a bigger difference.

At the birth of the first child the financial advantage is in favour of marriage, and I need not tell anyone here what the other advantages are. One other matter mentioned by two speakers was the question of the development of bogs. Senator Baxter was anxious to know what the Government policy was in relation to the development of bogs and the development of turf in future. The question of developing our peat resources was taken up here long before we thought there was going to be a war. It was not taken as a war measure. If there had not been years of development on the bogs, if there had not been drainage of bogs, and if a considerable amount of money had not been spent on preparing the bogs for future development, we would not have been in a position to produce perhaps half the quantity of turf produced last year. That much is to the credit of the Government. It was not as a war measure that turf was developed. It was developed because turf is a natural resource of our country which ought to be developed, and so far as this Government is concerned the intention is to continue to develop our peat resources, war or no war.

With regard to the types of agriculture to be developed in the future, I have said already and I repeat for Senator Baxter and others interested, I am not competent to give the House any information or any advice on that matter. I am sure those members of the House who are interested in the matter will take the opportunity of getting information from the Minister concerned when that opportunity offers here. I again say that the Government is interested in agriculture and would like to see it prosper. It is willing to do its share, as far as finances are concerned, within reason, to see that now and in the future the agriculturists in this country will be given as fair a chance as the industrialist or anybody else to make their industry successful and of benefit to them and to the country as a whole.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for first sitting of Seanad after this week.