Public Business. - Finance Bill, 1944 (Certified Money Bill)—Second Stage (Resumed).

Before I proceed to deal with our general financial position, I should like to refer to a matter which I brought up on two previous occasions and with which the House may be familiar. I refer to the raising of revenue by the licensing of betting-shops. I think that these betting-shops are a grave, social evil. One has only to be near them, if only by accident, as I have sometimes been, and see the type of people that frequents them in order to realise this. They are a temptation to men on a low income basis to hazard money which should be spent on their homes. They are a temptation to workmen who, on their rounds, may drop into them in their employers' time. They are a real, social evil in which the State should have neither lot nor part. When I brought up this matter before, the Minister, in his charming and disarming way, said: "You cannot have one law for the rich and another law for the poor; every man must be permitted to have a flutter if he likes." That may be theoretically right but you have to relate it to fact and circumstance. It is one thing for a man who is well off to risk a small portion of his surplus income in credit betting or betting on the course. It is quite another thing to have this constant temptation round the corner, with all the evils with which it is associated. I do think that the Government is undertaking a great responsibility in remaining a party to what I would go so far as to describe as a vicious type of traffic. I hope that the Government will see fit to reconsider its attitude towards these places.

With regard to our finances generally, the Minister has taken—perhaps rightly—considerable credit for their buoyant state. He said that we have been fortunate in that, for a second or third time, we have been able to present a Budget which imposes no fresh taxation. I do not agree with that. I hope to show the House that there is implicit in this Budget a very serious measure of hidden taxation. I refer to the increased revenue which has come from income-tax and corporation profits tax. Taxes from these sources are in a totally different category from revenue from customs. Revenue from customs is on a quantitative basis and represents tax on an increased quantity of goods. The other is revenue from increased profits from either manufacture or distribution—I do not know which and, for my purpose, it does not matter which. There has been no substantially increased quantity of goods for sale.

We all know of the scarcity which exists and it is, therefore, not necessary to show that there is no increase in the quantity of goods being sold. That increased hidden taxation falls largely on the very poor. Take an increase of £1,000,000 in income-tax which, for the purpose of my argument, I must assume comes mainly from increased profits from manufacture or distribution. I do not think that there has been any substantial increase in dividends. Dividends have been fixed. No increase has been allowed and there has been no substantial increase in foreign dividends. £1,000,000 in taxation represents about £2,500,000 profits. That is a matter of simple arithmetic. My argument is borne out further by the fact that the increase in income-tax is also reflected in corporation profits tax. There has been an increase in both those categories of taxation. If the increase had not affected corporation profits tax, it might be argued that it was not due to industrial profits but to profits on private investments. Inasmuch as this increase is reflected both in income-tax and corporation profits tax, I claim to be justified in the argument that it is derived from increased profits on the sale of goods that are scarce. I claim further that that has been a hidden tax mainly on the very poor. In so far as it has represented an increase in prices and profits on a limited quantity of goods, it has been a distinctly inflationary element in our national finances.

There is this also to be borne in mind. When you say: "Surely, with so much taken by the State in the way of taxation on increased profits, there is no inducement for any trader unduly to put up prices," I could argue this way: "The less you leave him, the more he wants to get what he considers he should have. If you allowed him all his profits, he would be satisfied with a comparatively small increased profit; if you take half of it, he might say, ‘In order to get what I want, I must charge twice as much'; if you take three quarters, as you roughly do, he will say, ‘I must have so much more'." I think there has been a distinct tendency—I use the words advisedly—to profiteer out of the prevailing scarcity. I think that is reflected in the increased revenue from corporation profits tax and from income-tax, which represents a hidden tax.

I pass to the question which is bound up in our general financial position, and that is the question of the cost of living. Senator Hayes dwelt upon the plight of certain people, the small salaried classes and those having fixed incomes in the ranges up to £700 or £800 a year. I think they deserve the very greatest sympathy, in view of the increased cost of living. But when Senator Hayes suggests that the Minister should consider increasing the incomes of those people to meet the increased cost of living I say "No, that is the wrong end at which to begin." The Minister should aim at reducing the cost of living, and it is in respect of our rapidly rising cost of living that I feel the Government are most to blame in their financial policy.

When we come to examine the figures, what do we find? We find that since 1914 the cost of living in Éire has risen from 100 to 296—that is our present figure—whereas the corresponding figure for the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland is 199. That means that we are now standing, roughly, within three points of being 100 points higher than the corresponding figure in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Nobody can say that we are a richer country. We have not got the benefit of higher wages, and I feel in agreement with Senator Foran that labourers in this country have been extremely restrained in their attitude towards that position, and the small amount of industrial unrest we have had in the last two or three years has been extraordinary. I feel that the cost of living must be pressing very hard on the working classes and on the small fixed-income classes as well, and any bonuses that have been given to meet this increased cost have been in no way commensurate with the rise in the cost itself.

This question of the increased cost of living was dealt with at some length in the Dáil on the Vote on Account in March last and, according to the report of the debates there, I observed that the Minister gave certain figures which, he said, came from the bulletin of statistics issued by the League of Nations. I have been unable to reconcile these figures, which are correctly taken from the bulletin, with the actual figures given in the publication of the Currency Commission, which are the official figures for this country. The Minister gave the figure for the cost of living as 157 in November, 1943; that is, 57 points over the pre-war figure. The statistics issued by the Currency Commission show that the figure is 218. I cannot reconcile these figures, and perhaps the Minister will give us some explanation.

Generally, I feel that the cost of living is a burden on large masses of our citizens and I feel constrained to quote from an article written in theIrish Times, last December, by Professor Busteed. He said:

"The plain truth is that for those with money life is far better in Eire than in Great Britain, while for those with lower incomes living is more secure and so much cheaper in Great Britain than in Eire."

I think that represents the facts. The Minister should tell the House why no serious attempt has been made to stabilise the cost of living. We know, of course, those figures in England are the result of subsidies. In Australia the cost of living is even lower than in Great Britain, and the position in Canada is somewhat similar. If it has been possible in those three countries— Canada, Australia and Great Britain— to stabilise the cost of living, why has it not been done here? Have the Government ever seriously addressed themselves to this matter? I cannot help feeling they have not tried. It is felt that the Government could stem this inflation merely by stabilising the cost of living by a standstill Order, but it never has attempted seriously to do so. I cannot see why, if it has been done in Canada and Australia, it could not have been done here. I would far rather see the £2,500,000 of increased profits used in the form of subsidies to reduce the cost of living than to be taken into the general taxation.

Senator Baxter dealt with agricultural production and he made what sounded to me an astonishing statement. He did not give any very convincing data for it. He said that gross production in agriculture has diminished in the last year. That surprises me. He quoted from certain research work on some dairy farms in West Cork, but that did not justify me in drawing the conclusion—I may not have heard him correctly—that the gross production of agriculture had diminished. I would agree with him if he meant to convey that the yield per acre had diminished. I think it has, owing to lack of fertilisers; but surely the gross production has not diminished.

I would refer the Senator to theIrish Trade Journal for December, 1943, which indicates that what I have said is true.

I will look at that again. I do not think the Senator quoted it at the time.

Yes, I read that.

I am sorry if I am wrong.

The Senator may take it that the facts are as I have stated: the gross production has fallen.

In spite of the increased area under tillage?

Exactly. Startling, is it not?

I am surprised at it. I accept the Senator's statement. Senator Counihan dealt with the question of taxation of the farmer. I think we have to be honest in this matter. We cannot deny that the farmer is very favourably situated in respect of taxation. It would be quite possible —I do not say a case in point exists— but it would be quite possible for a farmer to make several thousands and to be taxed on, say, the same number of hundreds, because the farmer is taxed solely on the basis of Schedule A and Schedule B valuation: I do not say that as a policy it may not be right. I think farmers, who are primary producers, deserve very special consideration, but I cannot agree with Senator Counihan when he says that farmers pay full tax on their profits. They do not. They pay a tax on an arbitrary basis which frequently represents far less than their profits. I cannot agree with Senator Counihan that they do not come under Schedule D on account of the difficulty of making out the returns. Obviously, to come under Schedule D now would be to pay on profits which are probably much higher than the basis of tax. They do not come under Schedule D on that account, but they are always in a position when they lose to supply the information that would bring them under Schedule D. All these troublesome forms the Senator referred to are very readily made out when it comes to providing a loss, but they are much more difficult, perhaps, to make out when it comes to revealing a profit.

Is that the Senator's experience on his own farm?

I may be giving the show away, but I know all about it. While I am very grateful for being able to pay taxation on a lower basis than what I actually earn—only temporarily, of course, since the emergency—I think we ought to recognise the fact that the farmer is in a very fortunate position with regard to his taxation and compares very favourably, naturally, with the farmers across the water who are now taxed under Schedule D. I think a matter of great importance, now that we get an opportunity of reviewing our financial position on broad lines, is the future. I must say I am concerned that in a democratic country we are given no guide whatever as to what is in the mind of the Government with regard to our post-war policy. I suppose some Senators will smile when I say that I am not wedded automatically to British methods; I am not necessarily following them whether they are right or wrong; but I do say in the case of post-war plans and developments a very admirable method has been adopted, as suited to a democratic country. In England they have given Parliament in advance a number of White Papers to get people thinking. There is a White Paper on medical services. Senator Foran referred to our hospital system. I agree with him. I think our hospital system requires to be recast and, if it is going to be recast, I think we should have some indication of the nature of the proposals which the Government think would be suitable— not necessarily to be applied literally, but to be the basis of thought, discussion, and subsequent legislation. I think we should have the same with regard to education. On this subject, the White Paper issued in England was most interesting. I think many Senators read it although it did not immediately concern this country. I certainly read it. We should have the same with regard to post-war employment.

I was interested to see that although the Minister for Industry and Commerce has not given us any indication, except in very general terms, with regard to the Government's intentions, he did recommend us all to study the British White Paper on future employment. I think it would be rather more suitable if we had a White Paper of our own dealing with that problem as suited to our own case. The only way, in my opinion, in a democracy is to give in advance, in good time, an outline of the problem to be considered, so that there can be a certain amount of preliminary discussion and understanding before the matter is discussed in Parliament. As it is now, one knows nothing whatever about what is going to happen until one gets a printed Bill, to which the Government is, necessarily, more or less committed. It is easy to say that these Bills can be amended, but in practice we know how difficult it is, once a Government Bill is printed, to get amendments; whereas if there could be a previous Paper, and probably a resolution or a debate on the subject, the Government might see fit to embody in the Bill suggestions obtained in that manner.

Before I leave this section of the subject, I should like to emphasise that when the Minister for Industry and Commerce recommended a study of the British White Paper, and did in general terms outline what our post-war schemes are going to be, there was not one single mention of the consumer. I do feel that, all through, the consumer, largely because he is unorganised, is the last person to whom anybody gives serious consideration. You see that everywhere. In all trade associations and combines, the consumer is the person who is least considered, largely, of course, because he is not politically organised. It is very difficult to organise consumers and to make them a force in political life.

I feel that we should have a serious stocktaking for the future, and I am concerned as to the proposals, general and rather vague as they are, that the Minister for Industry and Commerce has forecast. I have deliberately abstained from dwelling on and criticising, as I have from time to time, our industrial policy, but I am really rather heartened now to find that the Minister for Industry and Commerce is getting somewhat anxious about our industrial policy, and that matters which years ago were on the threshold of that policy, and were pointed out to him as dangerous, have now apparently taken possession of his mind and have been expressed by him in statements. For instance, speaking in the Dáil on the 12th June—Dáil Debates, vol. 94, col. 434—he said:

"There are obvious dangers of inefficiency in such circumstances as exist in this country, where there is only a limited home market and, consequently, conditions in which efficient production in many industrial spheres can only be undertaken by single firms or a limited number of firms. The absence of effective internal competition, and the curtailment of external competition by means of tariffs and other such restrictions, tend to promote inefficiency unless there are in the possession of the Government powers to insist that technical developments that have taken place in other countries are adopted here."

That is where I feel puzzled. The Minister for Industry and Commerce indicates that, if he has powers, he is in a position to bring about efficiency in industry. I do not think he will ever do that. I feel that the powers of those in charge of industry are so strong that it would never be possible, without undue and harassing restriction, which would make the cure worse than the disease, ever to insist upon efficiency by outside legislation.

I am seriously alarmed at the extended range of industries that are considered suitable to a high tariff policy. Although I am at heart and have never ceased to be a free trader, I admit that you have to move with the times, that you have to modify your doctrine to suit the times. I would not for one moment suggest that we should go back to unrestricted free trade at present although, if it were possible to make an experiment, I should like, say, to erect a tariff barrier from which the County Cork would be excluded and then let the rest of Ireland gnash their teeth with envy at the prosperity of the County Cork, if allowed to have free trade. That, of course, is a purely academic consideration. But there are certain industries suitable to a tariff policy within limits, industries which largely draw their raw material from the country. There are other industries which are largely based upon our primary products that should not require a tariff at all; with efficiency, they should be able to stand on their own feet. But, when I come to the other extreme and see certain industries, which have neither their fuel nor their raw material produced in the country, given a high tariff, I really am deeply anxious about the future.

Take the case of steel. I may be wrong, but I do not see how we can ever hope to produce steel, which is the normal raw material of the building and a number of other industries, at anything approaching the price at which it can be produced on the Continent or in Great Britain. I am afraid we shall see the time come, if this policy with regard to steel be continued, when we may have to pay for our steel as much as £10 or £15 per ton more than we would have to pay if we got the steel from Belgium. The Minister may say that Parliament accepted the principle of higher prices in the interests of our industrial policy. Let us examine that for one moment. I do not think anybody can claim that there is any virtue in being industrial simply to be able to say you are industrial. The only virtue industry can claim is in giving benefit to the masses of the citizens or promoting a large measure of employment. Can these tests be complied with? We know that the price level, which was running a few points over the English price level in 1922, has got gradually further and further away from it. Before the war broke out, I think it was 20 points over the English level, having been, in 1922, only 14 points. Therefore, the tariff policy cannot have been justified by any benefit in price which it gave to the consumer.

But, it will be said, look at the employment given. I have been at pains to take out the figures for employment. What is the increase in employment in our manufacturing industries? You cannot take building as an example, it is not in any way affected by tariffs, except adversely. Neither can you take transport. Merely in transportable goods, the employment has risen here by 50 per cent., that is from 64,000 in 1929, to 101,000 in 1940. That means that it has risen by 37,000 over the very extended period of our industrialisation. That would only amount to about 2 per cent. of the total population. Is the game worth the candle? Has an increase in employment of 37,000 been justified in the increased cost to the general consumer? I doubt it. It does not do to say that it is a great thing to be in industry. Certainly, it is very nice to be in industry, but it has to be justified by the benefits that it can give.

I am frankly alarmed at the position. I have always been a conservative and a capitalist, for this reason, that capital, if properly worked, did benefit the consumer in this way. There was an abundance. There was an abundance of goods. Capital is always seeking to make a profit. But it can only make a profit by giving service, and the competition amongst capitalists was what benefited the consumer. But, when we get a small number of capitalists entrenched behind high tariffs, those conditions do not apply, and we are up against all the real dangers of entrenched capital, with a tendency to have regard to profits which are readily obtained in preference to the consumers' interests. I do not feel, as a capitalist, that the proper protection afforded by capital applies in this country at all. At present, when looking at it, I feel that I really would prefer to see a move further towards socialism. I do not say that it persuades me to be a socialist, because I do not understand what socialism is. But I do understand what capitalism is, and I think it is not working as it should work in this country. I think we will have to have more and more restriction, which no one likes, until the wheel comes full circle and we return once again to something like free trade and free enterprise. That is my present anxiety. In this economic isolation on which we have embarked for some years and from which I can see no appreciable benefit, and which the Minister is going to intensify further, I feel rather gloomy about the future of our industrial policy.

There is just one point about which I should like to inquire in connection with Section 4 of this Bill, which concerns the question of the relation between this Bill and the Children's Allowances Act which was passed during the year. I understand that some adjustment has been made in this Bill as it originally stood which has the effect that income-tax payers are no longer to be made to lose through the operation of the Children's Allowances Act. I believe that an amendment was made in the Dáil which brings about an equalisation of the two allowances. The question I wanted to raise was this, and it is one to which I have never been able to get a satisfactory answer. What is the object in compelling those who have been getting an allowance in income-tax for children to apply for the children's allowance if they are to continue to get these remissions? Whereas, formerly, if a man had more than two children, he got a certain allowance for them in his income-tax, now if he wants to get an allowance for any child above the second, he has to go to the Post Office and get forms, he has to get doctor's certificates and he has to go to the registrar, and, in the end, he gets the allowance he formerly got, or what is practically equivalent to it by way of a dole from the State. Formerly he was given a remission in his tax; that is to say, he was not asked to pay more than a certain amount of his own money to the State. Now he is getting back by way of a dole an amount equivalent to what he formerly got by way of remission in taxation. To me, there is a very important principle involved in all that which may become more obvious when the Children's Allowances Act works itself out. It is a question of principle —the principle of the distinction between the remission of taxation and having to accept a dole. I think it was Senator Hayes who pointed out to-day that, as a result of various measures, larger and larger numbers of our people are becoming State dependents. The Children's Allowances Act purports to make State dependents of people with more than two children; people who, formerly, in respect of their children got a remission of income-tax. Actually, the effect of the Act is to make such people dependents of the State to the extent of a half-a-crown a week for each child, after the first two children. It means, in effect, forcing people to go "on the dole".

I know, of course, that some Senators will not agree with me. Some Senators, I suppose, will think that I have two heads on me for putting forward my personal approach to such matters; but I must say that, personally, I object to being made the object of a State dole. I do not want, and I am not in need of, a half-a-crown a week; nor do I want to have to go to the post office, fill up innumerable forms, in order to get that half-a-crown a week. I certainly am prepared to accept a remission of taxation on the understanding that that remission is in respect of my own money, and that I am not receiving it at the expense of other people. The only objection I have to this proposal is on the question of principle. I do object to having an income-tax remission turned into what I can only describe as a beggarly dole, and forcing all of us who do not want that subsidy, or are in no need of it, to accept that dole.

You do not have to take it, if you do not want it.

Certainly, I agree that you do not have to claim it, but if you do not claim it, in the form of children's allowance, you are mulcted so far as remission of income tax is concerned.

A Senator

There is the question of the dignity of the State.

I agree, but I say, again, that it is going to be of the utmost importance to this State, as to every other State, that its foundation shall rest on a basis of free and independent citizens who do not have to turn to the State or to any other public authority to enable them to live.

That is a brave statement.

It may be, but I say that if we should arrive at that condition we shall be a slave State. I do not see why those who, up to now, have been getting a remission of income-tax for their children, should be forced into accepting a dole. I am referring, of course, to people with certain incomes, and not to those who do not come under the income-tax code; but I do not see why the people to whom I am referring should not be given this remission, as they have been in the past, in respect of the children, instead of being forced into the acceptance of a dole. I cannot see what objection there should be, and it appears to me that the result of this proposal will be that income-tax payers will now be forced to take this remission, to which they were entitled, in the form of a dole.

It may be said that there may be some administrative difficulties in connection with the matter, but I do not think there should be any administrative difficulties. As far as I can see, the only difficulty is to see that people should not be getting relief in both ways; that they should not be getting a remission under the income-tax code and also getting an allowance under the Children's Allowances Act. It should not be very difficult, in my opinion, to prevent any such thing happening, but the only thing involved here, so far as I am concerned, is the principle of the matter. As far as I can see, it would seem to be the policy of the State that all of us should be recipients of a dole, and that that is something to be desired.

It appears to me to be a principle of the State that we shall all be subject to the receipt of a dole. Now, I regard that as a very dangerous principle. It may be said that there is only a half-a-crown a week per child involved here, but I feel that if we are to give way to this, the principle will go on until we shall all be in receipt of State assistance, which would mean that we would become a slave State, and I do not believe that Senator Foran would like to see us become a slave State, any more than I should like it.

Is é an chéad rud a thugas duine faoi deara, maidir leis an mBille seo, an tsuim mhór airgid atá á iarraidh i mbliana le haghaidh costas agus seirbhísí an Stáit. Is mór an méid é, go deimhin, beagnach £50,000,000 le haghaidh na bliana. Ach ar an taobh eile, bhí an sásamh seo againn as óráid an Aire gur chuir sé i gcéill dúinn go bhfuil scair mhaith de chostais an Stáit nach bhfuil buan. Mar dúirt sé, ag caint dó inniu, go bhfuil timpeall trian den chostas mór seo nach mbeidh call leis nuair a bheas an ócáid phráinne thart. Tá timpeall chúig milliúin déag sa mbliain á íoc againn de bharr na hócáide práinne— is ionann sin agus a rá go bhfuil síocháin agus suaimhneas á gcur ar fáil againn ar an méid sin airgid. Dá gcuirtí an cheist ar mhuintir na tíre i mbárach faoi, d'amhdóidís go bhfuil obair mhaith déanta agus á déanamh dóibh ag an Rialtas ar an airgead sin.

Is fíor don tSeanadóir O hAodha go bhfuil aicmí sa tír seo atá i gcruachás, múinteoirí, lucht tuarastail go generálta, lucht pinsean agus a leithéidí. Tá a lán acu a cheannaigh a dtithe, tá an t-árachas le híoc acu agus costais eile nach féidir dóibh a sheachaint. Is fíor go bhfuil aicmí ann a bhfuil an bhróg ag luighe go trom orthu. Ach sin ceist mhór atá le réiteach againn, cén chaoi is féidir linn an mhístáid sin a leigheas go hiomlán.

Tá cuid mhór déanta cheana. Tá suas le £10,000,000 á íoc cheana leis an gcostas maireachtála a choinneáil síos. Cé mhéad eile is féidir dúinn íoc ar an mbealach sin?

Bhí an Seanadóir O Catháin ag iarraidh comparáid a dhéanamh idir Éire agus Sasana maidir leis an scéal seo. Níl fhios ag an Seanadóir cén chaoi ar éirigh le Sasana agus le Canada an costas maireachtála a choinneáil síos. Ba chóir go mbeadh a fhios aige agus ba chóir a fhios a bheith aige cé mhéad a chosnódh an costas maireachtála a isliú in Éirinn go dtí leibhéal Shasana. Agus rud eile, ba chóir eolas a bheith aige nach mar a chéile an caighdeán maireachtála annseo agus i Sasana.

Rinneadh tagairt, ag an Seanadóir O Fuaráin creidim, do lucht oibre agus chomh foighdeach agus tá siad le linn na hócáide práinne. Tá mé cinnte nach mian leis an Seanadóir go mbeadh easaontas ann. Ach ba mhaith liom a rá gurb é foighid na n-oibrithe le blianta ceann de na gnéithe is sásúla i gcóras sóisealta, na tíre seo le blianta anuas. Is maith liom chomh maith agus tá ag éirí leis na Ceárdbhóird Chomhairlitheacha le difríochta idir oibrithe agus máistrí a réiteach. Chomh fada agus is eolas dom, bíonn na hoibrithe sásta leis na teachtaí a bhíos acu ar na bóird seo agus tá siad sásta go ndéanann na máistrí a ndícheal dóibh chomh maith. Rinneadh tagairt go minic don ghá atá le pleanáil. Tá rud amháin a bhfuil mé féin sásta go maith leis agus is é an rud é sin an clár de scéimeanna móra táirgiúla atá beartuithe ag an Rialtas. Ní gá dhom na scéimeanna sin a lua—tá a fhios ag Seanadóirí go maith iad cheana. Is é an locht a fáightear ar an Rialtas nach nochtann siad mion-eolas i dtaobh na scéimeanna seo láithreach. Ní fheicim gur féidir sin a dhéanamh; is féidir scéim a nochtú go generálta ach is le himeacht aimsire amháin a beifear i ndon na sonnraí a léiriú. Agus déanfar sin chomh luath agus is féidir. Tá sompla de againn cheana. Atheagrú na mBóthar Iarainn, sin ceann acu agus is é an Bille Iompair atá anois os cóir na Dála an mion-innseacht nó mioneolas ar an scéim sin.

Rud eile a bhí i gceist go mór é scéal na talmhaíochta. Bhí caint ar Réabhlóid ina thaobh! Cén sórt réabhlóide atá i gceist? Cé dhéanfas an réabhlóid? Is cinnte go bhfuil a gcion déanta ag an Rialtas—an oiread agus is féidir do rialtas a dhéanamh. Tá fhios agaibh féin na scéimeanna uile atá ann chun feabhas a chur ar fheilmeacha agus ar fheilméaracht.

Nach léir gurb é an feilméar féin a chaithfeas an chuid eile a dhéanamh— nó an chuid is mó de ar aon nós. Sé ceann de na rudaí is mó atá ag teastáil anois go ndeánfa na talmhaithe beart de réir an teagaisc agus de réir an tsompla atá tugtha ag an Roinn Talmhaídheachta. Ar deireadh thiar, is folas gur ceist oideachais í sin, go dtí go mbí an talmhaí níos oilte ar eolaíocht agus ealadhain a ghnótha, is doiligh bheith ag súil le morán eile feabhais i gcúrsaí táirgeachta sa talmhaíocht. Ní leor do dhaoine bheith ag casaoid i dtaobh na talmhaíochta—ba chóir doibh iarracht a dhéanamh roinnt molta réasúnach a chur ós ar gcomhair 'na taobh.

Ní bhfuair an tAire mórán cabhrach uainn tráthnóna. Ní bhfuair sé aon chabhair uaimse ach an oiread ach admhaím go bhfuil mé sásta go bhfuil a gcion á dhéanamh go maith ag an Rialtas go mhór-mhór nuair a chuimhnímid ar an saol atá ann. An t-airgead mór seo atá siad a iarraidh, caithfe siad é ar bhealach a bheas go maith foghainteach don tír. Má chreideann daoine nach fíor sin, ba chóir go bhféadfaidís féin a theasbáint cá bhfuil an locht agus cén chaoi a bhféadfaí é a chaitheamh níos fearr.

It is not my intention to delay the House very long. Thepros and cons of the question have been pretty well debated, but I must confess that as a result of the debate I am in a state of comparative bewilderment, as so many conflicting voices were heard. We had Senator Keane saying that the farmers are fairly prosperous —and who should know better?—but then we had Senator Baxter controverting that specific statement. I should be very sorry——

I do not like to interrupt the Senator, but I do not think I made any reference to a condition of prosperity at all. I did refer to agricultural production, which is a different matter.

So far as I remember the Senator's speech, it was a typical and very excellent jeremiad indeed. Both are agreed on one thing: they slate the Government pretty hard and, for my part, I think the speeches of Senators on the opposite side, while excellent in tenor and exceptionally correct in manner, were vitiated to a very great extent by a latent hostility to the Government. That may seem a rather hard thing to say, but I must say what is in my mind. One would really imagine that the present Government, who have gone to the country on a great many occasions —on a great many occasions from the point of view of political crises—had not received in full measure the confidence of the country. That is the impression one would get from the tenor of the speeches. They were one long jeremiad and one long paean of diatribe, so to speak.

Senator Hayes complained of wages having been clamped down. I could not help thinking of certain measures passed by Senator Hayes's Government, in the days when money was very plentiful, under which they clamped down on certain poor units of the community; but he did not advert to that on this occasion. I suppose that "what in the captain is a choleric word in the private is rank blasphemy." I should like to know from Senator Sir John Keane if he, as a capitalist, is prepared to forgo the profits of capitalism merely for the present emergency, or is it out of pity for the marvellous patience of the proletariat.

I should like to know what ideal actuates him on the present occasion. He has commented very favourably on Senator Foran and his colleagues. If I were in Senator Foran's shoes, I think I should have to say:Non tali auxilio on this occasion at any rate. One hesitates to use the tu quoque argument, but the temptation is irresistible. Senator Sir John Keane has inveighed against the miseries of the poor and the evils of capitalism. I seem to recollect that, in the last two or three years, some of his employees had to threaten to strike in order to obtain the wages which they thought necessary for existence, but perhaps I am mistaken. Perhaps it is only an illusion of mine.

Senator Hayes spoke of the cost of living in the town and country being rather anomalous. He spoke of schools, declining marriage rates, tourists and roads. It is true that we are catering for the tourist, and that we must do so because the industry is a decided asset, but why catering for tourist associations and providing good roads should be incompatible with other things, I do not know. Both tend to increase the circulation of money, and both call for conditions of employment which are ideal in their way, and I fail to see why fostering the Irish Tourist Association and making good roads should in any way militate against other beneficial schemes. The two are by no means incompatible.

Senator Foran spoke of a nationalised hospital scheme. Nationalisation is an excellent thing, if not carried too far, but, like the farmer's parlous plight, nationalisation seems to be a sort of King Charles's head with the Labour Party. I do not know whether nationalisation, if carried to its extreme, to its logical conclusion, would be a good thing for this country or not, but I think the salvation of this country depends on a judicious compromise between nationalisation and its opposite extreme. From that poing of view, I think that nationalisation as a policy would not be tolerated by the people of this country very long, and never will be. Even the slight advances towards nationalisation which have been made have sometimes met, if not altogether with a rebuff, with suspicion. With regard to Senator Foran's advocacy on behalf of other sections, I should like to know: Had we or had we not an election, and what did the people say? Propaganda, innuendo and obloquy all played their part in that election, and the people returned a very decisive verdict.

One would think from the tone of the speeches of Senators on the opposite benches that the Government had failed the country in some considerable degree, that they had been false to their trust, that they had let down the people on every possible occasion. We have had the usual jeremiads about the farmer. I do not claim to be a star farmer, but I move amongst the best farmers in Ireland, and these farmers of County Wexford, amongst whom I had the privilege of being reared, declared themselves very emphatically at the last election, when they put the Minister for Agriculture at the head of the poll, and I think their action can scarcely be regarded as indicating a want of confidence in the Government. They are, it is true, only a microcosm of Ireland, but I think that, as a microcosm, they have more than done their bit in the agricultural sphere, and their view was worthy of attention. But who would think that from the tone of the debate to-day? It makes me absolutely tired.

We know the saying "Throw dirt and some will stick" is supposed to be a lawyer-like phrase. I do not suggest that is accurate, but it is, in any case, a popular phrase. In all the speeches made to-day, one would think that the good deeds of the Government, which, after all, has been in existence since 1932 and which must have done something tangible to rivet, if I might use the expression, the populace to it, would have been adverted to, commented on and made much of. We have talk about the farmers, but we know what the farmers suffered under the previous régime. It may have been inevitable—I do not blame that régime for it—but the fact remains. Senator Counihan must know as well as I that nothing paid—cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry or tillage—in the unfortunate years gone by when we existed under another Government; and to be told at this stage that this Government have not backed up the farmers and not backed up the industrialists is really taxing one's credulity to a degree which is positively incredible.

We all remember when men had to go hat in hand to the miller and beg him to take their barley off their hands and when men had to go home with 10/- a barrel for barley and 7/- a barrel for oats—with anything they were offered. This Government removed all that. No doubt it was done by means of subsidies, but even Senator Sir John Keane has hinted that subsidies are not bad. He does not like them, but they are not bad at times. That, in itself, is evidence of a slight conversion. We hear about free trade but everyone knows that we cannot get back to the old vicious free trade circle. Much as certain sections in the country would like to do so, we know that we cannot possibly do so—certainly not while the emergency lasts and for a great many years after.

We have been asked to produce a planned policy. I think all this "planned policy" phrase is more or less a platitude given expression to here and there to cover a certain vacuity of thinking. I think it is good enough to live for the day and to escape the perils of the day, and we should be very thankful to those who, under Providence, have guided us so far. Planned thinking, planned economy and all such platitudinous phrases have been worked to death. Let us try to make the most of what we have. Let us work as hard as we can and not for ever be depending on this or any other Government to do the work which we ought to do ourselves. Let us, in God's name, get back to the old policy of self-reliance.

I am entirely at one with Senator Tierney in what he said about the half-crown and income-tax. Personally, I think that the half-crown has done a good deal to demoralise some of our people. Someone reprimanded Senator Tierney when he spoke of dignity; someone said he was "standing on his dignity". Properly used, I think it is a good foundation. The old Irish dignity and spirit which we heard so much of are rapidly dying. It would be a very good thing if we could get back to that dignity.

I am heartily in agreement with the Leas-Chathaoirleach. I am heartily in disagreement with those who say, or who hint and would like it to be thought, that the farmer to-day is not as well off as he was eight or nine years ago. If he is not, prosperity must be a very fallacious thing. I go around the country; I keep my eyes open and I see what goes on. I see money spent like wild-fire. I say: "More power to them." They could not spend it unless they had earned it. How are they earning it? Out of the fruits of the earth. Who made it possible for them to earn that money out of the fruits of the earth but the present Government? Call them what you like—the Government which happens to be in power at the present time made it possible for the farmer to live for the first time on his own land. The economic war has been thrown in our teeth. What in the name of goodness would Senator Counihan do if there had been no economic war? He would have nothing to think about—an unthinkable predicament. The economic war was necessary in order to assert ourselves. It was absolutely necessary, and if it cost something in certain ways it at least enabled us to reassert our self-respect. I wish Senators on the opposite benches would not be forever indulging in jeremiads, but would admit, at least occasionally, inferentially or otherwise, that the Government of the day has done a good thing in keeping the State on its feet in the crisis which has intervened since 1939. We have passed through perilous times and, everything considered, I think we have not done too badly, and that the farmers are more prosperous than they were seven or eight years ago. Certainly they are not too prosperous now —I would be the last in the world to claim that—but it cannot be denied by anybody with a grain of commonsense that they are more prosperous than they were. Senator Sir John Keane says they are, and I think, from a certain point of view, there is no man who should better know how the farmers have reacted to the conditions in the last four years. Senator Baxter, on the other hand, would prefer it to be thought that they are not quite so well off.

He said production was going down.

Production may be going down, but it is extraordinary that capital and wages and general conditions and standards of living are going up. If the standard of living is going up, if the farmers and the farmers' sons have more money to spend now than they had seven or eight years ago, it is indicative of a certain prosperity anyhow, and to whom or to what is that prosperity to be attributed except to the fact that agriculture has found its feet, and if agriculture has found its feet who helped them to do it?

Who made the world? It was not the Government.

Who made the world? Well, I will tell you a little story. If they did not make the world, they certainly made history. A little boy was asked by the parson in an English vicarage: "Who made the world?" He got all flustered, and said: "Please, sir, it wasn't me." When that was told to the local squire he slapped his thigh and said: "And I believed the little beggar had done it all the time." That is my answer to Senator Baxter. We claim no extravagant achievement for the Government of the day, but certainly the lot of the farmer has been improved in the last seven or eight years. That, I think, cannot be denied by anyone who keeps his eyes open. It cannot be denied by anyone who sees in the towns the throngs of customers from agricultural districts daily purchasing goods; it cannot be denied by anyone who sees the cinemas filled, the football fields filled, and the dance halls filled. Those things are not got on credit. They are got by solid cash, coin of the realm, "rhino"—call it what you like. They are getting it out of their produce, because it has been made possible for them to do so by the legislation in the last ten years. Yet, Opposition Senators tell us that the country, so to speak, is wallowing in poverty, that everything is going down. Jeremiads by the dozen are indulged in by Senators on the opposite benches. Platitudesad nauseam have been adduced during the last five or six years to prove that the Irish farmer is poorer than he used to be. Even if he were, if I were on the opposite benches I would not belabour the argument. It is all very well to use it as a stick to beat the Government. When it happens to be a rotten stick it is bad enough, but I certainly would not continually demean my own class by indulging in jeremiads to prove that they are poor and miserable. It is a degrading state of affairs, on all fours with the state of affairs complained of by Senator Tierney when he referred to the system of doles, upon which subject I am in entire agreement with him.

Who is giving the doles?

At least let us get back to our old spirit of self-help and self-reliance which brought the country through many a crisis, instead of always wallowing in the depths of despair. It is an unthinkable state of affairs that any set of Irishmen should be constantly running down their own country, picturing it as a sort of beggar before the nations, while knowing in their hearts, as we all do, that we occupy an enviable position among the nations. While we here are debating in a sovereign Assembly, indulging in slaps at our own Government and criticising them from every angle, men are being blasted into eternity on the battlefields of Europe. Yet, we here can find nothing better to do than to make ourselves out a nation of beggars. We should have risen above that If I have spoken strongly, it is because I feel bitterly coming here year after year and seeing the Irish farmer pictured as a poor distressed man, just as this country was pictured as a poor distressed nation years ago. We should rise above that complex. If it cannot be treated pathologically, we should at least endeavour to get back to the old self-reliant spirit of years ago, instead of looking to the Government for everything. A man who, years ago, would have mended his own lanes by picking stones off an adjoining field, now says: "Is there a grant for it?" I will say this: the present Government, by their munificence, have done a certain amount of harm. The people are looking to them for everything.

Then, we have people asking for high prices and high wages. I, for one, believe in high wages, the highest wages possible, if they are not concurrent with high prices. In all the jeremiads I have heard from the opposite benches I have not heard one constructive suggestion as to what the Government ought to do for the people. With the civil servants, for instance, or with any other servant who is underpaid, I have every sympathy. A man must be paid adequately, but how is that to be done? When the time comes to impose extra taxation to pay those men, whether they be civil servants, manual labourers or workers in any branch of industry, will our opponents on the opposite benches concur in that taxation? If not, have they any right to complain on the one hand that people are badly paid and on the other hand to grumble about over-taxation. The two things are contradictory. There is no sense in that. This debate concerns giving the Minister power to raise about £47,000,000. I am sure that, after all this talk on both sides, he will get his £47,000,000. And all I can say is: Ar aghaidh leis an obair.

We have all heard of the defect which results from the optical illusion by which people are not able to see the wood for the trees. I think we all suffer more or less from that defect. This evening we saw so many trees that we lost sight of the wood. The wood, to my mind, is the very remarkable fact that, without imposing any additional taxation, the Minister is able to finance the growing cost of the emergency. He is able to do that without imposing any additional burden on the people. For that very remarkable result we have, first of all, to thank God for averting from us any of those untoward circumstances which the Minister had to have in mind when framing last year's Budget, and again which he had to have in mind when introducing this year's Budget. By the mercy of God we have been spared the horrors of war. Although we have felt the consequences of this world war, they have been lessened by the forethought of the Government and the consideration they have shown for the poorest of our people. As I have said, we must, first of all, thank God. We must also thank the Minister and the Government, as well as the Minister's very clever and thoughtful advisers. They all approached their work in the spirit of doing the best for the people. They had in mind the wants of those who need help most.

When we examine the Appropriation Bill we find that the biggest sum in the Budget is being appropriated for the maintenance of the Defence Forces. Everyone admits that is necessary. We also find that big sums are being appropriated for the relief of the poorest of the poor, those on whom the emergency presses hardest. The old age pensioners are getting relief either in kind by increased voucher provision for butter, milk and bread, or by an increase in their pensions payable in cash. An additional social service has been provided, whatever our opinions about it may be. It is at this very apposite moment, when people who are finding it very hard to provide boots and clothes for their children, particularly in the case of large families, that the Minister has thought of their needs, and is making a special grant available for poor people to enable them to provide boots for their children. All this shows the paternal spirit in which our Government have approached the problem of doing the best for our people. They have not been able to avert the worst consequences of the war. That is greatly to be regretted, but it must be said that they have brought thought and a paternal care to bear on present-day problems, thereby making it easier for those on whom the effects of the war press almost to extinction. That is a thing that we must keep in mind when speaking on the Budget and of the big amount of money that is involved.

I, like other Senators, see the trees in the wood, but I see the wood, too. There is one tree that the Minister has forgotten, a very deserving class in the community, namely, the old pensioned teachers. A great many of them retired when the salaries of teachers were not as good as they are to-day. I am not saying that teachers' salaries to-day are good enough. One of the things which, in my opinion, we must do in our post-war planning is to pay a great deal more attention to education. We will not have a satisfactory educational system unless we have satisfied teachers, and unless we make the teaching profession attractive to the best brains among the young men and women in our country. The men and women that I speak of retired on very small pensions that certainly need to be supplemented. My real reason for speaking at this late hour is to ask the Minister, in the kindness of his heart and from a sense of justice, to take into consideration the cases of those retired teachers and give them some redress.

I would feel tempted to follow Senator Kehoe into some of the arguments he made in the course of his speech but for the fact that he admitted, towards the end of it, that the tendency of the present Government had largely contributed to the feeling amongst the people that it was up to them, on every possible occasion, to drop the policy of self-reliance and get as much as they can in grants or in any other way from the Government. Anybody who has considered the question at all, as well as the recent general election to which reference was made, will realise that one of the schemes to which Senator Kehoe referred was largely responsible for getting a great many votes for the Government in that election, even though the Children's Allowances Bill was not thought of first by Fianna Fáil. However, we are not dealing with that now.

On the Central Fund Bill last year, the Minister for Finance, when dealing with it in this House, gave certain figures in regard to the value of emigrants' remittances. He mentioned, I think, the figure of £6,800,000 as the value of emigrants' remittances for the year 1942. I think he told us on that occasion that there was no comparable figure available for the year 1943. He went on and related that figure, in reply to a query by Senator Baxter, to a total purchasing power of £229,000,000. When that figure was challenged by Senator Baxter, the Minister seemed so very certain about it that he offered to make a bet. I was going to interject something, but I was frankly down-faced by what the Minister offered to do, and did not.

When I went home, however, I looked up the figures and found that the Minister had been betting on something that was not quite correct. He related the figure of £6,800,000 to £229,000,000. I think it is just as well, perhaps, that the correct position should be stated. The figure, in fact, that the Minister suggested for emigrants' remittances in 1942 was, without any question, very much larger for 1943, even though no accurate estimate was forthcoming for that year. It would have been more accurate and correct to relate that figure to currency—bank deposits, Post Office savings bank deposits—for 1942 and not for 1943, as the Minister did. I am sure that, quite unintentionally, he did ring the changes in substituting one year, that suited him, for another year when the correct figure, actually, would be somewhat about £204,000,000. But worse than that, the Minister counted in several figures in the total. He counted in the figure of £11,000,000 currency held by the banks, the bank deposits figure of £170,000,000 and the currency figure of £36,000,000. If Senators go into the matter, they will find that any figure of emigrants' remittances, instead of being related to a figure of £229,000,000 or £230,000,000, possible or potential purchasing power, should more properly be related to a figure of somewhere about £175,000,000 or £178,000,000. I suggest to the House that for the Minister for Finance, when speaking more or lessex cathedra, to make a mistake, in the comparison that he put before the House, of some £50,000,000 was, to say the least of it, unfortunate.

In the last eight years the volume of large currency notes circulated in the State has grown in an alarming degree, even though we have about doubled our currency issue in the last eight years. I am talking in very rough figures now. The increase in the ordinary 10/-, £1 and £5 notes is just about 100 per cent., but the £100 and £50 note issue has gone up to five times what it was eight years ago. I suggest that that particular increase, particularly when it has taken place in the last two years, is indicative of a large scope for black-market transactions. The report of the Central Bank mentions that the increased currency note issue was, to some extent, offset by hoarding. I suggest—though my whole tendency is against it—that the Minister must consider some method of curbing that large increase in notes of high denominations, if he wishes to stamp out black-marketing and tax evasion. The increase has not arisen in the ordinary way of business. Bank managers will agree that more people are coming into the banks and asking for large denomination notes and then, a short time afterwards, putting in an envelope for safe keeping in the bank. The presumption must be, in many cases, that that money is not coming through the ordinary channels and is being put away because it is the profits of transactions which someone does not wish to bring out in the light of day. This increase by five times is likely to cause serious repercussions, so the Minister should consider whether, from that angle, he cannot do something more to stamp out black-marketing than by control of the goods.

I agree with Senator Baxter that cheap capital is very essential for agriculture, but I am afraid the real trouble is that agriculture is under-capitalised, in the sense of ordinary share capital, from the company angle. The capital invested in our agriculture is bearing a fixed interest and not an interest in proportion to the rate of profit: it is paying a high interest when agriculture is doing well and dropping back, like an ordinary dividend, when agriculture is doing badly. It is rather more towards some extension of the ordinary share capital of the farmer that we should plan for the future. We must increase agricultural production, and we can do that best by making capital available for long-term works which will assist production, such as better machinery and buildings. Regarding buildings, there is a remission of rates straight away when a new house is built for habitation, but the farmer who builds new and modern outbuildings has his valuation increased without any remission or benefit. Those two should be collected in a somewhat better way.

We must also make more provision for science in agriculture, as no amount of capital can be anything but a palliative unless production is increased substantially. No matter what Senator Kehoe may say, this present world holocaust, and not the policy of any Government in any country, has been responsible for the increased agriculture in the last four years. It is to be hoped that, when the war is over, we may be in a position to put agriculture in a sound position, even though we have not been able to take advantage of our geographical position to obtain an improvement in the way of increased production in the last four years.

All those who pay direct taxation agree, with a sigh of relief that the Minister for Finance has not in any way increased taxation this year. It is only a very small proportion of the people that is interested in corporation profits tax and surtax. I belong to, and speak for, the middle class, who simply pay the amount of income-tax for which they are assessed. Probably the greatest taxpayer of all is the indirect taxpayer. We have heard from the Minister this evening that the enormous sum of £15,000,000 was derived from taxation on tobacco and excisable drinks. Most Senators here seem to boast that they are not contributors to these particular taxes, but I am proud to say that I contribute in a modest way to the taxes on both of those commodities.

Items have been mentioned requiring the immediate and serious attention of whatever Government may be in power after the war. As usual, agriculture has taken priority of place. There has also been mention of provision for the reception of tourists, by good roads and other improvements. The first thing that must be taken up by the Government, when the opportunity occurs, is increased housing in urban areas. Owing to there having been no building during the emergency, the shortage of houses is becoming an extreme problem, especially in urban towns with progressive tendencies.

Owing to abnormal conditions, and to the fact that Ennis is situated near the airport at Rhynanna and also the wireless station, at which considerable numbers of workers are employed, we are extremely short of houses. To put it modestly, we are short of about 40 or 50 houses per 1,000 of the population. That position will have to be remedied at the earliest opportunity. I am sure that I am not speaking of the position that exists in one town, but that what I am saying applies to many other towns and cities.

Senator Sweetman referred to the position of farmers, and stated that when they erected buildings they were not allowed a remission of rates on them. As I understand it, it is only to urban councils that build houses grants or loans are given from Government funds. A remission of rates is given on houses erected by the owners or occupiers under what is known as the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act. In that case these people provide all the capital. They get a loan which they have to repay, with interest. They are allowed a graduated remission of rates over a certain period after which they have to pay full rates. I am not aware that any other section in the community derives any such benefit.

In connection with the big drive for funds for that very laudable society, the Red Cross Society, I want to make a suggestion to the Minister. The aim of the society is to raise £500,000. The amount is not very large, considering what is raised by taxation, but anybody with any experience of collecting money in a voluntary way knows the great difficulty there is in raising even smaller sums. I believe the Red Cross Society has a quota for each area and county and that for some counties it is £15,000. I do not think it is possible to raise that amount voluntarily, and my suggestion to the Minister is that the Government might encourage people to give contributions by making them free of income-tax so that subscribers might claim relief for the full amount they give. Of course, the Government would lose a considerable amount of revenue by that expedient but, as the health and lives of the people are their concern, I think they cannot divorce themselves from that object. There is a contribution then by direct and indirect taxation, and everybody is contributing something. That would meet with general approval.

It is a big task to raise £500,000 voluntarily, and I throw out the suggestion to the Minister for what it is worth. It might encourage donors to give larger sums. If £1 or £2 could be given tax free by a donor, the amount subscribed would be increased and the Minister would hardly miss it. Taking the Finance Bill as a whole, no matter what heavy demands are made, considering the many obligations of the Government during the emergency, taxpayers heave a sigh of relief when they know that the story is not worse.

Debate adjourned.
The Seanad adjourned at 9 p.m., until 11 a.m. on Wednesday, 5th July.