Finance Bill, 1950 (Certified Money Bill) —Second Stage (Resumed).

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

Sul má scoireamar le haghaidh sosa, bhí mé ag cur síos ar chuid de na pointí a bhí á lua ag cuid de na Seanadóirí a labhair tráthnóna ní i dtaobh an Bhille, ach i dtaobh na ndaoine atá agus a bhí fábharach d'Fhianna Fáil. Bhí mé ag déanamh tagairt go speisialta do chuid de na rudaí a bhí á lua ag an Seanadóir Baxter. Ceann de na rudaí eile a luaigh sé: go mba mhaith liom go mór cur ina choine, is é an rud é sin gurb é an rud ba mhaith le muintir Fhianna Fáil go dtiocfadh scrios agus bochtanas ar an tír agus trí bhochtanas agus scrios do theacht ar an tír, go gcuideodh sé leo mar Pháirtí.

Dúirt mé faoi rud adúirt sé tráthnóna go mba suarach an rud adúirt sé, ach más féidir rud níos suaraí a rá, sin é an rud é. Ní theastaíonn uainne go dtiocfadh a leithéid ar aghaidh sa tír. Dúirt mé go minic cheana gurb é an rud ba mhaith linn go raghadh cúrsa na tíre chun cinn agus, maidir liomsa, is cuma liom sa tuibaiste cé chuirfidh chun cinn iad, má cuirtear chun cinn iad. Ní miste liom a rá nach gcreidim go gcuirfear chun cinn iad go sásúil faoin Rialtas atá ann, ach má chuireann siad chun cinn iad, beidh mise ar na daoine is túisce a thiubhras moladh dóibh as ucht a gcuid oibre.

Is duine é go mbeadh a leas féin agus leas an tSeanaid á dhéanamh aige dá gcoinníodh sé a bhéal dúnta níos mó ná mar choinníonn sé. Bhí sé ag caint anseo tráthnóna agus á rá dá mba rud é nach raibh móin ins an tír, dá mba rud é nach raibh prátaí ins an tír, dá mba rud é nach raibh daoine le fáil le hoibriú ar na portaigh agus da mba rud é go raibh na daoine óga ag imeacht as an tír, ar cheart dúinn bheith ag cur síos orthu anseo agus strainséirí anseo ag éisteacht linn? Is cuimhin linn go maith, nuair a bhí an cogadh ar bun, an chaoi a d'iompar an Seanadóir Baxter agus cuid dá chomrádaithe iad féin sa tSeanad agus taobh amuigh agus is cuimhin linn an uair a bhí an náisiún seo i sáinn agus an uair ba chóir dúinn bheith cúramach faoi na rudaí adúramar agus níor choinnigh sé a bhéal dúnta.

Is fíor go bhfuil móin gann agus go mbeidh sí gann. Is fíor go bhfuil an tír gan prátaí agus is fíor nach bhfuil fir le fáil le hoibriú ar na portaigh. Is fíor go bhfuil na mílte agus na milte duine imithe as an tír ó tháinig an Rialtas seo isteach, agus taithníodh sé leis an Seanadóir nó duine ar bith eile, fógróimíd na rudaí seo go dtí go gcaithfidh na daoine atá ciontach iontu cuimhneamh orthu agus iad a leigheas. Ní hamháin é sin ach an Seanadóir Baxter a bhí ag caitheamh molta anseo tráthnóna leis an Aire Airgeadais agus leis an Aire Talmhaíochta, rinne sé dearmad insint dúinn go bhfuil 50,000 duine glanta amach as an dtuaith le dhá bhliain anuas, agus ní hamháin é sin ach go bhfuil tionscail na tíre á scrios, mar mhínigh an Seanadóir Ó Cuirc, agus muintir na tuaithe ag gluaiseacht leo ón dtuaith agus muintir na tuaithe agus muintir na mbailte móra ag glanadh leo as an tír. Taithníodh sé leis an Seanadóir Baxter nó ná taithníodh, déarfaimíd iad anseo agus taobh amuigh.

The Minister, in putting this Bill before us, was rather economical in the matter of speech. I do not blame him for that. He made a fairly long speech on the Budget and he hoped that we had read whatever he said in the Dáil on this Bill. I can only say that I read whatever he said, except whatever he may have said on the Final Stage yesterday evening. I want to say that, so far as I am concerned, he will have to spend another while on the hard stool and will have to spend another while making speeches, before he convinces me that he is on the right track. We could not be very interested in what he said, he said so little.

The Bill has certain features in it which we shall have to discuss at length, but, apart from that, the main interest this evening was in the speeches of the Senators who believe that the Minister for Finance is the world's greatest financial magician, just as the Minister for Agriculture is the greatest Minister for Agriculture the world has ever known or is ever likely to know. The main feature of the discussion seems to be that of making a virtue of running into debt. It might be all right on occasions that we should run into debt, but we will want to be given much stronger reasons than we have been given for running into debt to the extent we propose to run into debt and the way we propose to run into debt.

Senator Baxter seemed to be the leading light in defending the Bill and the policy enshrined in it. I think the proper course for Senators on this side would be to treat Senator Baxter with contempt. I should like to treat him with the contempt of my silence, but I want to protest—and I want it to go on the records—against the type of sneer and attack in which he indulged this evening with regard to the speech of Senator Hawkins. Senator Baxter told us that the discussion of this Bill was a matter for a person of special ability, a person with ability to analyse the Bill. He was not satisfied with Senator Hawkins. May I say that, if ever a man failed in his attempt to analyse a Bill or what was inherent in a Bill, Senator Baxter failed this evening, and failed miserably?

I want to protest also against his references to the matter of this country's neutrality during the last war. I think diplomats, with one exception, agree that this country fulfilled the obligations of neutrality to the letter. I think it was generally conceded that we could not have conducted ourselves with greater fairness than we did during the war. All I can say is that, thanks be to God, that Senator and his colleagues were not in charge of affairs in this State during the war. He made, again, the statement that it would give members of Fianna Fáil satisfaction if the people of this country were to be impoverished if prices were to fall and so on. May I say, Sir, that the mind that is capable of thinking in that way, and the person that is capable of making such accusations against political opponents, and especially opponents with the record of Fianna Fail, is hardly fit to be in public life at all. I protested before against that type of insult and that type of attack. I protest against it again as strongly as I possibly can. For the rest, as I say, the proper thing to do with regard to Senator Baxter is to pay no heed to him in future and, in that way, to express our contempt for him.

Why pay any heed to him now?

The Senator might deal with what the Senator said, and not make a personal attack on Senator Baxter. I think Senator Baxter did not attack Senator Hawkins in that particular way.

If Senator Baxter did not mean the things we believe were meant, perhaps he will explain what he meant. If Senator Baxter's references to neutrality had a meaning other than the meaning taken by Senator Quirke and myself, he ought to tell us what he did mean. If Senator Baxter did not mean what we believe he meant in his references to Fianna Fáil and the conduct of Fianna Fáil, and its management of this country's affairs in the years gone by, he can explain to us exactly what he meant.

I thought I was very clear.

He mentioned to us the legacy inherited by the present Government when it came into power. He did not use those words, but it would be true to say that he implied, that the state of affairs for this nation was appalling, the task that had to be faced by the Minister for Finance, and the task that had to be faced by other Ministers. It might be no harm to mention to Senator Baxter, as was well said in the Dáil on the occasion of the election of the new Government, that this State was handed over in ship-shape condition. The achievements of Fianna Fáil, in spite of terrific obstacles from outside, and from inside, were achievements of which they may be well proud, whether in the national field, in the political field, in the social or in the economic field. The Parliamentary Secretary smiles and holds up the Bill. I take it from that that he concludes I am somewhat out of order in discussing these matters.

That is a question for the Chair.

It is a matter for the Chair. I would be sorry to refer to them at all, if they had not been referred to this evening, and referred to in a manner in which they were referred to. So much for Senator Baxter. I mentioned a moment ago that we seem to have been making a virtue of running into debt. We seem to be making a virtue of something else; and, that is, the making of promises and running away from them. We were told, time and time again, that Fianna Fáil was spendthrift, that something ought to be done to curb it, as far as taxation was concerned. I need not tell the Seanad of the jumps that have taken place in taxation from 1947 up to the present. I do not object very much to these increases in taxation, but what I do object to is, that the people who have brought about these increases were the people who denounced Fianna Fáil as being spendthrift when they brought in a Budget of very much less dimensions.

The Minister, in 1948, when he talked about having removed the taxes on beer and tobacco, apologised that he did not do more and said, "If I cannot do better by this time next year, I will let Deputies accuse me of failure." May we accuse him, not alone of failure, but of being a miserable failure in his high office? A few items just to indicate the changes: Stamp duties in 1947 were £921,562 and in 1950-51 £1,640,000.

Is the rate higher? Is the rate of taxation higher? No quibbling; answer the question.

I am speaking of stamp duties. Income-tax was £12,500,000 in 1947, and for 1950-51 £16,715,000. Senator Baxter will ask me whether the rate is higher or not. In any case, there is £5,000,000 more being collected in income-tax.

Because the incomes are higher, more prosperity.

We will come to the question of prosperity in a few minutes, if the Senator will be patient. Excise increased from £9,657,000 to £13,260,000 and customs from £16,707,000 to £25,380,000. If Senator Baxter had asked me whether I was allowing for the changes in the value of money and allowing for certain other matters, there might have been some sense in his remark.

While I think I should refer to the change in the value of money and so properly explain what these figures mean, the least the Minister for Finance and other Minister ought to do, when they are using 1938-39 as a basis for reference, is to make the same adjustments and not be misleading or attempting to mislead people, as they have been doing for some time. Taxation has not come down. We were assured that if these people were returned they would reduce taxation. The Minister will reply, as the Tánaiste has replied to us more than once, that they reduced the price of beer and cigarettes. We grant them that. I am sure that if Fianna Fáil had been returned they would have made the necessary adjustment in that regard in due course. At any rate, we know that the public have had other taxes and other charges increased. If a certain element in the community is getting relief in regard to their beer and tobacco, we know that industry has to bear an impost of 5d. on petrol and an impost on the oil used.

I suppose that is why there is such an increase in the number of motors on the road.

We remember well the biting remarks in the Dáil and in the Seanad with regard to the high-powered and luxury cars which might be seen in O'Connell Street and other streets during the regime of Fianna Fáil. Have Senator Baxter and those with him supporting the Government done anything about that themselves? If it were wrong that that should be the case during Fianna Fáil's term of office, what has happened to make it right during the term of office of the present Government? The Fine Gael Party—the Party to which the Minister for Finance belongs—and other Parties declared that if returned they would reduce the cost of the Civil Service and the numbers engaged in the Civil Service. Have they done so? They may explain that they did not do so and may offer reasons, but the fact remains that they told the electorate they would do it. Some of them had experience in Government already and spoke with the authority that that experience gave them, saying they knew how to reduce the Civil Service and its cost. As a matter of fact, since the present Government came in, I think the number of civil servants has increased by nearly 2,000 persons, while the cost has gone up by several million pounds.

The cost of living was to be reduced. Some people assured us that they knew how to reduce it by 30 per cent. Others were not so given to exaggeration and told us that it would be reduced by 10 per cent. That has not been done, and I feel it my duty to remind the Minister and the Government that it has not been done. Again, those people spoke as people who had experience in Government, people who for years had been holding themselves out as authorities on these matters, as students of finance and students of economics; and out of their knowledge and their experience they assured the electorate that they would reduce the cost of living. Time and again within the last year or so, when we told the Minister that the cost of living had not fallen but actually had gone up, he disputed the point with us and said it had not gone up. He then made the claim that at least he had held it firm. I think very few people would agree that he held it firm.

He increased the incomes, which is the equivalent.

"The cost of living in 1949 in 23 of the 34 countries covered in an International Labour Office review published yesterday at Geneva, giving the latest figures available for the Republic of Ireland, showed the living costs there had gone up 2 per cent. in mid-November, 1949."

That is from a report in the Irish Times, to which I will refer again.

Of what date?

The date I have not marked on it, but I will have no difficulty in providing the date, if the Cathaoirleach will accept my word as to the source from which I have taken it.

Senator Hawkins referred to the question of double prices. I want to protest against such price methods. The aim of rationing is to see that everybody gets an equal share of what is going and that nobody, because of wealth, will be able to get more than his neighbour. I hold that this double price method is wrong in enabling people who have higher incomes or are wealthy to get all they want. Apart from that, there is this injustice in it, that the poor find that they themselves must go into the market for these dear commodities. They find that the sugar ration is not sufficient, that the tea ration is not sufficient.

It is more than it was in the time of Fianna Fáil.

That may be. It is five years since the war ended. I hold that this policy of two prices is unjust. I object to it especially on moral grounds. Also, I have seen cases where poor people are driven into the shops to look for this extra ration at the dearer prices.

Had they the money to pay for them?

If they had the money to pay for them, they had to do without something else. I think, whatever the cost may be, the time has come when we can dispense with rationing altogether or else get back to the single price for the rations as was the case up to a year or a year and a half ago.

It is an extraordinary thing that in his Budget speech the Minister, to the best of my recollection, never once referred to emigration.

I read out to-day in this House what the Minister said about emigration if the Senator was listening.

Ignore him.

Ignore the facts.

I was rather interested in the reference made by Senator O'Brien to the question of emigration. He himself apparently has no policy on the matter. I expect he was one of the people who believed that the present set-up in Government would have a policy that would end that terrible evil. We are all familiar with these posters that were up during the election showing a big ship with emigrants and underneath: "Put out Fianna Fáil."

Is it Deputy Lemass's poster the Senator is referring to?

Senator O'Brien has hopes that the Commission on Emigration will produce a policy and I am rather surprised at that attitude on his part. However, members of the present Government in my hearing declared that they could solve this question of emigration, that they had a plan whereby they could solve it. They had no plans to solve it. I said that before; I will say it as long as it is necessary; I will repeat it until they produce a plan. The Government had no plan and to the extent that they induced the people of the country to support them on the grounds that they had a plan for the solution of the emigration problem, they deceived and defrauded the electorate. The Government had no plan and their supporters now come along and tell us that they hope that the Commission on Emigration would produce a plan. Might I remind some of these Senators that one member of that commission, in an article published about mid-year, 1948, assured us that the problem of emigration was solved? That was the year of miracles but, although this gentleman assured us that the miracle had been wrought, the commission is still sitting. I wish the commission the best of luck; I only wish that the commission would hurry up and give us whatever solution they have. In any case, the people who had a plan for its solution are responsible for 40,000 young people having left the country in the last two years. What number has left for the portion of this year that has run I do not know.

Not alone is there emigration but there has been a tremendous movement of people from the rural parts. Senator Baxter would hold forth on the horrors of that. We have been listening for years to people telling us what a curse and what a scourge it was and what it meant. In the last two years 50,000 people have gone out of rural Ireland.

How many went in your time? No answer.

Then there is the question of reducing taxation in various ways. People were led to believe that we were going to get a relief in income-tax, particularly in this year. In the Irish Times in the issue to which I have referred there is a note which runs:—

"Pressure is being exerted on the Minister for Finance, Mr. McGilligan, by trade unions and professional organisations to secure an increase in the income-tax allowance."

We were told here this evening that the people are very pleased with the Budget. It continues:—

"The Trade Union Congress, in a letter to the Minister, and in its journal, Trade Union Information, has urged that the first £100 of taxable income be taxed at one-third the standard rate and the second £100 at two-thirds. They ask, in addition, that both married and children's allowances and reliefs should be raised to bring them into line with the increase in the cost of living.”

Apparently Deputy Norton's Trade Union Congress feels that the cost of living has risen and is not satisfied with this wonderful Budget, judging by this statement:—

"Further pressure has been applied by the Congress of Irish Unions."

So the dissatisfaction does not seem to be one-sided. It goes on:—

"The Congress of Professional Organisations also has sought an interview with the Minister to discuss a whole range of proposals in the coming Budget on allowances, personal income and taxation on capital and profits. The general view is that the Minister may accede to some of the requests and that some relief may be forthcoming, at least in the field of personal and children's allowances."

The public, therefore, notwithstanding the protestations of some of the Senators over there, is not too happy over this Budget. The people represented by both Trade Union Congresses and by professional organisations will hardly be satisfied that their expectations regarding tax reliefs have not been realised. However, failure to realise their expectations will probably be interpreted by Senator Baxter and his friends as satisfaction with the Budget.

Other people have been asking for tax relief, and I think they could hold that they were entitled to expect it, especially in view of the statement of the Minister for Industry and Commerce at the Federation of Industries dinner. Industry does need relief. We have been told that we need to increase output; not alone that, but that output should be made available at a lower cost. Without question one of the biggest burdens that has to be borne by industry is tax in various forms. I am not the spokesman of industry, but I do think that the relief they have sought and expected should be granted or that something should be done to meet them. Industry needs this assistance, for various reasons. It needs it because of conditions on the home market. It needs it because of the extent to which industrialists are being advised to try to get into overseas markets. If they are to get into overseas markets it will be only by meeting competition. Generous reliefs of various kinds have been made available to British manufacturers. It is idle to expect our manufacturers to get any share of overseas markets without assistance. One form of assistance that might be given to them is relief in taxation. However, the relief they sought and did not get will probably be held up by Senator Baxter and his friends as further proof of the popularity of this Budget.

Industry wants relief because of a further burden it has to bear. We are aware that Irish manufacturers, and also agriculture, have to bear a tax of 25/- a ton on coal. They get coal of inferior quality and they get it at a price 25/- a ton more than the price at which coal is available to their competitors in Great Britain. They cannot escape that.

It was Deputy Lemass who made that agreement.

It does not matter who made it.

It was he who made it.

The Senator is learning

I am pointing out a fact. I am indicating the burdens that must be borne by industry in this country. I am pointing out the necessity for easing their burdens, even to the extent of taking up the matter with the British as being unfair discrimination. We may have no redress but, at least, we ought to take it up and see if we can do anything about it. Industry is handicapped and the consumers are handicapped.

I mentioned a few minutes ago a report that appeared in the Irish Times. I have already quoted from it. To indicate the further difficulties of Irish industry and the need for coming to its relief, might I mention these few facts: As a result of devaluation, it is estimated that materials in use in the food industries have increased by 4.5 per cent.; for agricultural production by 6.1 per cent., and for other industries by 7.7 per cent. Capital equipment costs have increased by 3.5 per cent.; food by 4.3 per cent., and other consumption by 4.6 per cent.; raw materials in general use by 7 per cent. The most alarming price increase has been for wheat, which has risen by 33 per cent. Maize has gone up by 25 per cent.; raw cocoa by 18 per cent.; cocoa butter by 76 per cent., and tea by 21 per cent.

It is clear that industry has run into difficulties and it is clear that the consumers are running into difficulties. It is the duty of the Minister to come to the relief of both.

Might I refer to the position that is developing out of Marshall Aid? I referred to this matter several times. On each occasion that I mentioned it, it was indicated that I was acting somewhat like a bogey man. I do not know what our total commitments under Marshall Aid will be. When the 1950 allocation was available, I think we would be liable for about 170,000,000 dollars. I suppose by 1952 we will have received about 200,000,000 or maybe 220,000,000 dollars. It is hardly necessary to say that, like other people, I appreciate the spirit in which this aid is made available and, like other people, I appreciate the goodwill of the United States Government in making it available. I wonder do we realise its implications. I wonder do the people realise that this is a loan that will have to be repaid. Indeed, I sometimes wonder whether it is the intentíon to repay it at all or not.

Should we refuse it?

He is taking the good out of it.

Do I understand the Senator to suggest that it is not intended to pay it back? Surely that is not a wise suggestion. I am interrupting only because I do not think the Senator means that.

He does not mean it.

I remember on one occasion here raising the matter of Britain getting our dollars in an indirect way and I asked the Minister for Agriculture did he realise the implication of that and whether arrangements were being made to ensure that, when the time came for repayment, Britain would make available to us some portion of the dollars we would need to repay our loan. I do not know whether the Minister was joking or not —it is very difficult to know, with regard to the Minister for Agriculture, whether he is really in earnest or whether he appreciates what he is saying—but he did convey that, whenever the time came for repayment and we were not able to repay, there was the likelihood that the debt might be wiped out.

Senators will remember that when I mentioned at one time the possibility of the £ becoming weaker, and becoming a very difficult proposition for us, the Minister's reply was that when that happened to the £ both of us would be working in the salt mines of Siberia. The £ has gone wallop and neither of us happen to be in Siberia. Perhaps the Minister's statement with regard to repayment of the Marshall loan would be taken in the same way.

However, I am glad that the seriousness of the matter has dawned upon the Government. The Taoiseach the other evening, addressing the body appointed to try to develop overseas trade, concluded with this remark:—

"The problem is urgent. Marshall Aid has less than two years to run."

Senator Douglas asked if I was not taking the good out of the compliment I paid to the United States Government. I do not think I was. What I had in mind was this, that we ought to cut down certain imports from the United States and from the dollar area in general. There are considerable items of expenditure which we could very well cut down. Some Senators may sneer at that.

I mentioned the fact that the price of wheat had gone up by 33 per cent. We ought to get more wheat from our own soil and less from America. I mentioned the fact that the price of maize had gone up 25 per cent., adding to the difficulties of our producers, and that we should try to do with less maize and get more feeding stuffs from home sources. That is what I had in mind when I referred to Marshall Aid and as to whether we were wise in availing of it to such an extent. I think that we could very well cut down imports from the dollar area.

Again, may I draw the attention of the Minister to the point I already made, and that is that Britain is getting, in an indirect way, a considerable portion of the dollars allocated to us from the United States? If we use these dollars to make available extra produce from the land and if that extra produce is going to Britain, is it not clear that she is getting a special advantage from our dollar allocation? Is it not reasonable to ask, when agreements are being made, that some stipulation or arrangement should be come to whereby she would make available to us dollars in return for the advantages she is getting at the present time and during the period of Marshall Aid?

May I refer to one or two points made by Senator O'Brien? He offered us this evening a further apology for changing his views on certain matters. I have on occasions in this House expressed my admiration for Senator O'Brien. Some people at one time thought it strange when I stood up in this House to defend him. The Senator is a man for whom I have very great admiration. May I say that some of the statements he made here this evening surprised me? He mentioned that if the Banking Commission had visualised the changes that did come about shortly after 1938 it would have made somewhat different recommendations. All I can say is that I never felt more satisfied, never felt happier, that the Fianna Fáil Government was in power at the time the commission made its recommendations. I am glad the Government refused to accept in general the recommendations of the commission.

I am glad that we had a Government in office at that time which was careful to study the conditions that were developing all around. I am glad that we had a Government which realised what was happening throughout the world; I am glad we had a Government which understood that an emergency was developing, and that it should take steps to meet that emergency. I am glad that the Government was able to see, in a much clearer light than the Banking Commission of that day, what was happening, and what was likely to happen. I wonder have circumstances changed so much since 1938.

After all, what was the object of Government policy and expenditure that was condemned by the Banking Commission? It was to provide housing for the people, to provide food, to provide a more extensive telephone system, and to expand industry in order that we might check emigration. The object was to divide the land and so settle as many people as possible back on it, even to the extent of taking over ranches in certain areas and transferring the unfortunate people from congested areas. That was the aim then. Senator O'Brien holds that that was the aim of the present Government. I do not dispute that.

He said that what troubled them at the time was the balance of payments. The balance of payments is not yet in equilibrium. It is true that it has been overhauled to some degree. What exactly the difference is at the moment it is hard to say. For last year, it was £10,000,000 or £12,000,000, but let us not forget that two of the big items appearing in the balance of payments amount to approximately £50,000,000. One of them is the income from external investments, amounting to £17,000,000 or £18,000,000 in the year. Should anything happen to these, what is likely to be the result? Maybe —we will not go into it in detail now— that, by repatriating these external assets, we would be able to do better with them than is being done at the moment. We may be able to bring about a situation where the income of £18,000,000 which we are enjoying at the moment would not be needed. For my part, I do not see clearly, as a result of Government policy, how that state of affairs is going to be brought about.

The other item in the balance of payments is one of rather doubtful stability or continuity, the income from tourist traffic. Last year, it amounted to about £33,000,000, and it has been indicated that we may not get as much from that traffic this year. It has been indicated to us that various opportunities for travel and enjoyment have opened up. Conditions are improving on the Continent and our encouragement of the tourist trade is not of a type that would convince one that the traffic we have known in the past will continue and will expand. The aid being made available for the development and expansion of this traffic, to my mind, is totally inadequate, and, in fact, there is a danger of our losing to a considerable extent this valuable traffic in the years to come.

The point I want to make is that the balance of payments was a cause of trouble to the Banking Commission in 1938 and ought to be a cause of trouble at present. What I have been wondering is to what extent conditions have changed as between 1938 and 1950 that would justify a denunciation of Government policy in 1938 and a bouquet for Government policy at present, seeing that the aims of 1938 were much the same as the aims of 1950 and that the means of achieving these aims were to a considerable extent the same.

Senator O'Brien mentioned, in criticism of Senator Quirke, that he did not think we should frame our peace-time policy on the basis that war may come. It is hard to fall out with that, but nevertheless it is something that requires careful examination. Every thinking person will agree that the world is in a very troubled and uncertain state. We know that other Governments are uneasy as to what is likely to happen in the future, immediate or somewhat remote.

We know that, in Europe and in the United States, that uneasiness is felt to a considerable extent and these nations feel they ought to base their policies, economic, political and national, on the basis that emergency conditions may develop. We seem to be the one people who feel that we ought to let that possibility go to the devil; that the best way to prepare for an emergency is to disregard it altogether. That may be an unfair interpretation of what Senator O'Brien has said, but, if it is, all I can say is that, the point having been made, it should not have been left at that, but should have been expanded. I agree with Senator Quirke that it is very unwise on our part to disregard the signs that are to be read. I think it is very unwise on our part, in the matter of military defence and in the matter of economic and social defence, to shut our eyes to the extent to which we have shut them to the realities of the situation.

There is just one final point, now that the Minister has returned. His parting shot to-day was to read a quotation from a speech delivered by Deputy Lemass. May I say that, so far as I am concerned and so far as the Fianna Fáil Party are concerned, the aims of the Government in the matter of social security, national economic development and so on are aims which have our benediction, but I think the most important duty of the Minister and his Government at present is to explain to us and to the people why they have changed their minds on these matter within the past two or three years? Speaking in the Dáil at column 2274 of Volume 104 of the Official Debates, the Minister said::—

"We can build roads until the country is riddled with straight, terraced roads. Do we add to production? Only very remotely, very indirectly. We hear of telephone extensions, putting this country on a par with Sweden, one of the greatest telephone-using nations in the world. What do we want it for? How much money is to be spent on telephone extensions? Will it get any more consumer goods produced in the country?"

I might go through the list and say with regard to national schools, secondary schools, vocational schools and so on: are they getting any more consumer goods in production?

Firstly, they will; and, secondly, they are not put up for that reason.

What I am asking is that the Minister, when he gets his opportunity, would investigate the matter for us and explain to us, for instance, why telephone development was of such doubtful value in 1947, and of such tremendous possibilities at the present time. For the rest, I think we can wait until we get the other Stages of the Bill. As I said, there is very little in the Minister's speech this evening that one could talk about. Be that as it may, I want to say that I am not thrilled with the Bill, that I, like the members of the Trade Union Congress, the members of the Congress of Irish Unions, the members of the professional associations and the members of the Federation of Industries and everybody else, am thoroughly dissatisfied with the Bill presented to us this evening.

The last speaker, I think, on three occasions, complained that there was very little in the Minister's speech which he could talk about. I cannot say the same about the Senator's speech. If one were to follow it in detail, it would also take about the same length of time, but I do not propose to compete with him, as far as the first portion of his speech is concerned, in what he called, I think, biting remarks. I do not believe that it is either for the benefit of this House or of the country that we should be super-sensitive about Party matters or criticisms, and that we should spend the time of the House on a Finance Bill, talking of the benefits, want of benefits, or failures of political Parties in the past. We must, no matter what Party is in power, have a Budget. It is a very practical matter. I have never listened to a Budget that satisfied me, and I never expect to. That is, possibly, because my Party loyalty is not good enough to make me believe that any Minister will produce a perfect Budget, just because I happen to support him. The latter part of the Senator's speech dealt with a number of matters which seemed to me to be relevant to the Budget and to the Bill. I propose to refer to one or two of these. In the first place, he made a rather extraordinary statement, to my mind, when he said that the aim of rationing was that everyone should get an equal amount. If so, why not ration fur coats, gold watches and motor cars?

The aim of rationing should be to provide that the less wealthy portion of the community will get what they need at as reasonable and at as low a price as practicable. If the Senator thinks that rations which are subsidised are not sufficient, that would be, I think, a proper and correct argument, but he did not even confine himself to that. I am not sure that he stated it. He said we should stop rationing and let everbody buy as much as they want at subsidised prices. That means that the richer people, who can buy all the tea and bread they want, are able to get these extra quantities at prices which the whole community will pay for by way of subsidy; that is, that the poor will have to pay for the extra price of these commodities for the rich. I think it would be an entirely false position, if we should have unrationed commodities which are subsidised. The wise thing to do is to find the adequate quantity, pay your subsidy on that and let the rest be available at the market price. It may be arguable as to whether the quantity is adequate or not. It may be arguable one way or the other.

That is the point.

I totally disagree with the suggestion that the proper way is to remove rationing, keep on the subsidies and let everybody buy as much as they want. I found in England and elsewhere, when I was asked about the rationing system we have here, that quite a number of people seemed to think it was an eminently suitable way to deal with it. It may not be perfect as to the quantities, but it is the proper way to deal with it. Remember, no matter what system of taxation is devised, the poorer people pay their share of it. In that connection, I would like to remind the House that income-tax is only partially a tax on income. It is a tax on personal income, but it is also a tax on production and distribution, in so far as it is a tax on industry. It is simply an addition to the costs. The deduction on dividends is a tax on income, but the rest of it, that is, a tax on profits which are not paid out, simply prevents these profits being available for reduced prices and is paid by the user in some form or other. In that way, the poorest who buy various commodities which are manufactured in this country pay some share of the income-tax.

There is very little that Senator Ó Buachalla has said with regard to the need for a revision of the methods of taxation on industry, and the need of what used to be called concessions, that I did not say when I was on that side of the House. The only difference was that I said then, and I say again, now, that I do not believe any Minister for Finance will ever be able in a Budget statement to make the necessary revisions in the method of assessing—not so much assessing—as the necessary revisions in the income-tax law which are desirable, because it is impracticable to do that in any one Budget. I urged, when the previous Government was in power, and I urged the present Minister, and I urge him again, now, that he should set up a committee to examine into the whole question, with a view to seeing whether it is not possible to devise wiser and better methods of assessing income-tax. Now, personally, I think, that as far as income-tax generally is concerned; that is, tax on income, that there will be certain adjustments which will be found advisable but, in the main, I do not think there will be very much change. I think, when it comes to a tax on profits on trade and industry, that it should be substituted by a profits tax, that the income-tax should only be applicable to the profits paid out. A profits tax should take its place, and should be based on the actual profits as shown in the balance sheet given by the company to the public as passed by any competent firm of auditors. It would probably be a higher tax, but it would be a tax on actual profit, not a tax on income-tax profits, which do not make adequate provision for reserves. I do not want to develop this at length. I did say all this two years ago, and if anybody is interested, they can read my speech. I do not suppose anybody will.

The need for increased expenditure on defence has been dealt with briefly by Senator Ó Buachalla and Senator Hawkins and at considerable length by Senator Quirke, who quoted the plans for additional expenditure in a number of countries, including several smaller countries. He gave us the figures for one. Frankly, the figure amazed me. He assured me he was correct and he was satisfied that the figure referred to pounds. The figure is £135,000,000 for three years for Norway. I happen to know that the last census figures showed the population of Norway at between 50,000 and 100,000 less than the population of the Twenty-Six Counties. It is proposed that they should spend £45,000,000 per annum on defence and presumably Senator Quirke thinks we should spend the same amount. How any of the concessions which Senator Ó Buachalla thinks should be made, including those which I would like to see given in an easement with regard to the lower income groups, if this country is now to spend even half of £45,000,000 in increased expenditure on defence, I do not know.

Even apart from that, what really is the position? There is a war being waged at the present moment, which is sometimes called the cold war. It is a war between the totalitarian idealism in the shape of Communism and the ideals of democracy and freedom. That war we are in, there is no neutrality in it and if there were we would not want to be neutral. How is that war to be dealt with? It is part of the planned policy of the totalitarian Communist States that they will be able so to scare the democratic nations by a fear of war that they will get them to spend so much money that the conditions of their people will be lowered, that the standard of living will be lowered and that as a result it will not be necessary to have a real war because the cold war will be won, by an increase of Communism. You cannot have it both ways. If we are going to play our part in the battle for democracy and freedom in this country, it will have to be by development and by improving the conditions of our people. We cannot do that and also spend millions on defence and we have to choose between them. I would rather that we should play our part in winning the cold war and take the risk as to where we will be if the other war reaches us, rather than make our people miserable and lower our conditions in the hope that £45,000,000 would keep us out of the war. If we spent £100,000,000, we would not have a guarantee that it would keep us out of it.

If we keep our heads and act sensibly, and refuse to panic and if we try to use our resources for the betterment of our own people and the development of the country, we will place this country in as good a position as we can to meet an emergency if it comes. If we put all our money into defence, to create an army, as Senator Quirke said, "to meet all comers," we could not create an army that could meet all comers. Let us get a balanced, sane point of view and let us not play into the hands of the Communists and totalitarians by allowing ourselves to be scared into an expenditure which would be ruinous and probably futile.

Like my colleague, Senator Douglas, my contribution will be short. During the debate, we had lengthy references to politics and personalities and some interesting references to economics. May I suggest that we should approach this from the point of view that the present taxation figures before us, which this Bill is intended to legalise, have now reached fantastic heights and may be described —I hope no one will call me a pessimist—as of abnormal buoyancy? We have to congratulate ourselves on the buoyancy of our finances, but who can say that that buoyancy will continue? This Bill is based on the assumption that we will be faced with a continuation of that remarkable flexibility of our finance, encouraging revenue returns, that alone will justify taxation on the present scale.

At the risk of being called a heretic, I am going to draw an analogy between the position in which we, as a nation, find ourselves and that in which a corporation would find itself if it came to the point where expenses were getting out of hand. Business is regarded as a science and there are concerns specialising in scientific business management and getting large fees for going into businesses to effect economies that even the owners of those businesses hitherto did not think possible. I suggest that we have seen our Government costs grow bigger and bigger. I do not mean that as any reflection on the present Government. They have inherited a thing that has got bigger since they came in. We have in this country a system of Government where I have no doubt if business experts could go in, no matter what fee they got, they could effect economies and bring down this unproductive load which is crippling the community, whether industrial or agricultural.

In regard to industrial machinery depreciation, I will content myself with saying that the business community generally feel that the Minister has not paid heed to the representations made to him by organisations, federations and chambers of commerce. These proposals would mean that he would at least put business on the same basis as in Britain with regard to wear and tear on machinery.

Will you take their arrangements and their tax? I will give it to you to-morrow.

We have had all this from the Minister privately.

This is the place to argue it.

Very well, bring your figures to-morrow.

I thought the Senator was going to argue it now.

I have not finished my remarks.

Is the Senator not going to make his argument?

The House can judge. Huge organisations—and they are no fools, no matter what the Minister may think—have considered they are living under handicaps vis-á-vis their competitors in Great Britain and elsewhere. They have put up the case that they are less favoured than their competitors in Great Britain and elsewhere. Industrialists have been continually pilloried to produce as good and as cheap goods as produced elsewhere. That is a fallacious contention. The conditions in this country are not the same as in those countries from which goods are dumped in here. We get a little tired when people harp on efficiency and when we are then asked to operate on obsolete machinery while the others work on depreciation figures that are three or four times as great. The Minister interjects. Let him bring his figures.

Why not give the argument for the revision?

It has been put in a simple way.

Do you know it? Why not put it now?

With all respect to the Minister, I am not going to indulge in a heckling debate with him. I will make statements that can appear in print, statements which are backed by the chamber of commerce, which are backed by the Federation of Irish Industries, which are backed by everybody who is competent to speak for industry, and, with respect to the Minister, he is not competent to do that.

Why not make a case here, where it should be made?

Others have been able to substantiate with figures everything I have said. I am not going to be put in the dock by the Minister. I can make statements——

I do not want statements. I want figures.

That is what you will get. You were asked to give them some relief but you did not give them relief. Industry is facing a tough time and it should be given conditions comparable with the conditions in the countries from which goods are coming in here. I have no intention of going into a wide and lengthy survey but there are a lot of things in this Finance Bill which a lot of people think should be remedied. Some of them were dealt with in the other House and there were some that were not dealt with.

I should like to refer to the 5 per cent. stamp duty on domestic property transfers. There are people who think that that was a bad tax when it was first imposed and that it has not improved with age and that it should have been remedied in this Budget.

Reference was made to pleasure motoring but we have a less percentage of pleasure motoring in this country than in any country on the face of the globe. Motoring has become a necessity of life and you are operating with a horse-power taxation which was introduced originally in England in order to kill the American car, and it has been dropped in its original form. We have not only maintained that tax, but in the Supplementary Budget of two or three years ago it was increased until to-day you have the fact that on a car, say a 15-horse-power car, you are paying £26 a year road tax. That is merely for owning a vehicle. In addition to that, I wonder does the world at large know that on petrol alone there is ½ tax, with 1½d. tax on alcohol, making a tax of 1/3½ a gallon. If a car does 16 miles to a gallon, it means that you are paying 1d. a mile petrol tax in addition to the heavy road tax which is there whether you use the vehicle or not. The Irish Motor Traders' Organisation gave a lot of thought to this matter, got the figures and submitted a scheme to the previous Government whereby there would be a small registration fee and the rest of the revenue would be got in petrol tax. Obviously, the higher powered the vehicle, the more petrol it would use and the more tax the owner would pay.

The present system, we contend, is inequitable. It is also a very elastic tax; it is one of the few taxes which the present Minister for Finance or any other Minister for Finance can impose which is growing. The increase in motoring in the country with the ordinary type of car, buses and so on means that there is a high increase in the tax on petrol. The tax is going up continually in its volume. We have submitted, and I again urge on the Minister, that before the commencement of another calendar year he might think it time to introduce in this country a system of taxation on motor vehicles which would be suited to our needs and not to the needs of a neighbouring country which has considerably reduced its original system of motor taxation.

Those are the two or three points with which I intended to deal. I had no intention of making a long contribution to this debate, and I am rather surprised that the Minister was so hasty in regard to a matter which he knows by heart. He has had representations from the representative bodies to which I have referred, and if that is his form of debate it is one of which I am not very much enamoured. I do not know whether it was due to bad manners or whether he was feeling uncomfortable because when he was asked to do something he did not do it.

A number of persons have complained about the size of the Budget. Personally, I think—and this is not only my view, but the view of a good many people with whom I have discussed it—that the amount of the Budget is not by any means too large, and that the country can well afford to spend the amount which it is proposed to spend, during the coming year, but that the way the money is raised might be improved. I believe that too much of the burden of taxation falls on the poorer sections of the community. That is nothing new; that has been the case for the last 25 years; that has been the case, I suppose, since any system of taxation started in any civilised country, but gradually improvements are being brought about. I believe that conditions are better now than they were in years gone by, but we still have a long way to go before the burden of taxation is really equitably shared.

Some people have complained about the size of the capital Budget. There again, I believe that as a nation, we could afford to spend even more than the amount proposed. At the same time, I think it is only right to give credit where credit is due, and congratulate the Government on being willing to spend that amount, in view of the fact that it is a much larger amount than has been spent in the past years, and because the spending of that money will enable a large amount of really useful work to be done which will benefit the people of the country. Many of us would be opposed to it if we felt that this money would be squandered, or spent in foolish ways, but I believe that most of the money will be spent in giving useful employment, which will mean less emigration and the raising of the standard of living of the community, especially the poorer sections of it.

Some people may ask what justification I have for saying that. Let me give, therefore, a very brief summary of how the money is to be spent. About £34,000,000 is to be spent on capital development during the coming year, and of that sum housing will receive £14,000,000; agricultural development, which should bring about increased agricultural output, £6,000,000; electrical development, £4,750,000; transport, £1,750,000; public health services and hospitals, £1,500,000; turf development, £1,500,000; schools, other public buildings and afforestation, £1,500,000. Those are some of the main headings.

I believe that all of that expenditure will be of benefit to the community. I think it is quite right that most of this money should be spent on housing and slum clearance, especially on providing houses for the poorer sections of the community, those who are living in appalling conditions at the present time. I do not approve of the spending of money on building huge mansions for people who are well off, but when it is spent on small houses for the people who are urgently in need of houses, it is well-spent money.

I do not think it would be desirable to detain the House by going into great detail on what might have been done many years ago, but, at the same time, we can learn a certain amount from the mistakes of the past. I believe that more money should have been spent during the years 1922 to 1939, at a time when very large numbers of people were living in slums and in poverty, and when large amounts of money were invested abroad. There were some people, private individuals, as well as the State, who did sell out foreign investments, and who spent this money on building houses for persons with small incomes, and they did not regret it. Houses were built before 1939 at half the cost, and less than half the cost in some cases, of what they can be built for to-day, and that was money well spent. However, that is all past history, and I do not think there is any advantage in dwelling on it at great length. We can learn from it that it would be better to spend money now on houses for the people, and on giving them productive work, than to wait for some future date when costs may be even higher, and it would also be better to build now, on account of the human suffering which would be caused to the unfortunate people who would have to wait for several years before houses would be built for them. With regard to those people who say that a world war is inevitable, I do not believe that. I think war is not inevitable. The Christian people of every nation should try to co-operate to prevent war, and I think it is quite possible to prevent war. Moreover, a practical way of bringing about the better social conditions which we desire would be, as Senator Douglas has said, to spend more money on improving the housing of the people and on slum-clearance, rather than on building up armaments. We should also raise the standard of living and spend more on blind pensions and similar social services, which would do far more good than the spending of money on armaments.

Then, again, we should try to bring about more equitable distribution of taxation. It should bear more heavily on those who can well afford to pay. There are many people still who have huge incomes. There are many people who are still making excessive profits and who could well afford to pay more in taxation. There should be less of a burden on people with small incomes. I know that there is a certain number of well-off people who would be perfectly willing to pay more in taxation, provided others did the same. If others in a similar position had to do the same there are people in this country who would gladly pay more in income-tax, surtax and death duties. I know people who have willingly and voluntarily paid more in taxation than they need have done, because they felt that the money was being well spent and that they were doing something useful for the country and to help the needy.

If we write a cheque to the Revenue Commissioners or the rate collector, we should regard it in the same manner, to a certain extent, as if we were writing a cheque to a charitable institution. We should do it with pleasure. It is money which is being used to help the old age pensioner, the blind, and the widow. A great deal of the money that the Minister for Finance spends is as well spent as the money that is spent by any charitable institution. It is spent on helping the poor, and, as Christian people, those who can afford it should gladly and willingly pay more in taxation, but people with small incomes should not be expected to pay more, because heavy indirect taxation and rates are already causing too much hardship on them, and the result is that they have to do without necessaries of life.

What about the way in which Deputy Peadar Cowan is spending his money in the Park?

With regard to the matter of the rate of interest, I do not intend to go into detail on that subject. I spoke on that matter on previous occasions. It would be interesting if the Minister would give us his views on experiments that have been made in other countries for raising money for State capital expenditure at lower rates of interest, especially those that were carried out some years ago in New Zealand. Senator O'Brien has mentioned some ways in which money could be obtained at a lower rate of interest. He mentioned certain types of investment where the rate of interest would be 2½ per cent., or less. These matters deserve consideration because, if money could be got at lower rates of interest, houses could be built and let more cheaply to persons with small incomes.

As a Christian country, we should endeavour to do as much as we possibly can to help our fellow-citizens who, through no fault of their own, are unable to provide adequately for themselves. I refer in particular to such people as old age pensioners, widows and the blind. We should do all in our power to persuade the public to show their willingness to do more in future for this section of the community. I admit that more is being done for them now than was done in the past, but far more should be done for them and, as a nation, we could well afford to do more.

In all these things our principal aim should be to try to bring about a more just and more Christian social order, to abolish, as far as possible, extremes of wealth and poverty, and to arrange that, no matter what our national income may be, or may become in the future, that income will be fairly and justly spread over the whole community. If we did that, we would have a happier country, a more progressive country, and, above all, it would be in accordance with Christian principles.

I have listened each year since I came into this House to speeches on the Finance Bill. Year after year, the doom of the nation is foretold because of what the Minister for Finance proposes to do. Yet, year after year, we somehow escape the doom. When I was very young as a Parliamentarian and very innocent as a Senator, I remember being told that we would die of hunger because there would not be enough oatmeal. I did not hear any reference to oatmeal since, although the price of oatmeal has not changed. I did not hear anybody complain that he missed his stirabout.

It cannot be got now.

Apparently they have got used to doing without it but they survived. They were to die because they did not get it. Then we were to die because white bread was put on the market. This year, I think, we are to die because somebody suggested that if we cannot get back rashers we might eat pig's cheek. I cannot reconcile all these prophecies and recommendations.

I have heard it deplored here that we have 400,000 acres less under tillage than we had. I assume that the argument, logically carried out, would mean that we ought to go on and on increasing tillage until every available acre was tilled. Then you would have neither cattle, cows, hens nor pigs. You would have nothing but potatoes and salt. Is it that we are to be driven back to living on potatoes and salt? I am not saying that these things are to be taken seriously but they are put up seriously here for consideration during debates.

I have heard it deplored to-night that the poor are handicapped because there are two prices. Senator Douglas gave as an example that fur coats and gold watches are rationed. What would happen if you had not the subsidies for food? Is it seriously suggested that we should reduce taxation by removing that subsidy? Then you would have only one price for all the food but it would be a price that the poor could not pay, a price that the rich could pay. You would have rationing then, rationing by means, rationing by poverty.

At present, everybody is guaranteed a reasonable allowance of essential foodstuff, at a subsidised price. If anybody wants more than that, he can buy it at a higher price. I have heard it said that it is the poor who buy most of the commodities at the higher price. I do not believe that. I think I am in closer touch with the poor than some of the people who at times profess to speak for them in this House. I know that poor families, the families that people get up and weep about in the Dáil and Seanad, who have six or eight children, get their ration of tea, butter and sugar for the child of three months, just the same as for an adult. My experience is that, where there are several children in a family, the family has a superabundance of rationed tea and sometimes of subsidised butter. I am not saying that that is wrong. Maybe they should eat less butter and drink less tea.

The arguments are not sensible arguments. If we are supposed to be sensible people, we ought to try to have reasoned arguments here. It does no good to pretend that the country is on the verge of starvation. It does no good to pretend that the country is being overtaxed. When I was a journalist, I remember reading and having to write, much against my conscience, that this country was overtaxed, that every year the burden was becoming unbearable. It was always unbearable, but was becoming more unbearable every year. Always, the country survived and the people who complained were the people who had the biggest incomes in this country.

Senator Burke has referred to the difference in taxation. He says the poor pay the greater part of the taxation in this country. I am more revolutionary than he is. The poor pay the whole of the taxation. They pay the supertax; they pay the tax on petrol; they pay the tax on the expensive motor cars; they pay every tax because, if there were not poor people working for small wages, there would not be any surplus for employers, there would not be any profits for companies, there would be nothing out of which to pay taxation. It affects me in that way. Out of everything I buy, somebody has got his piece of income-tax. Somebody's supertax comes out of it, and somebody's motor car comes out of it, and, if I have to eat pig's cheek, somebody's back rashers came out of it, strange as it may seem.

One matter which has been discussed, and I wonder if it is relevant at all, is this talk about preparing for another war. How are we to spend more money on defence in this country? At one moment, we are told that we are collecting too much in taxation, and, the next moment, it is suggested that we should spend untold additional millions on defence. How is it to be spent? Are the huge atomic weapons, the scientific war weapons, available merely for the asking, to be bought if we had the millions? Are they to be got any time, if we had the money on tap, and, if they were available, what good would they be without the men? Is it argued that we ought to put 500,000 or 250,000 additional men into the Army, that we ought to increase the personnel of the Army and merely keep them parading around, drilling and preparing for a war that may never come?

How does that measure up with the arguments for economy? If we are to put another 100,000, 200,000 or 500,000 men into the Defence Forces to prepare for another war, who is going to feed them, clothe them and provide them with accommodation? Who is going to pay for the weapons which may never be used? Will that number of people not then be taken from productive industry and put into unproductive occupations and will taxation not have to go up, and, if it does, why complain when it is put up? If there is a war, we will always have the men. Whenever there was trouble, we always had the men, even when we had not the weapons. If we had the men and the money to-day, we have no guarantee that we would get the weapons and there is not any immediate prospect that I can see of another war. My guess is as good or as bad as anybody else's, but I have heard people cry, "Wolf, wolf," so often year after year that now, when they begin to cry, "Bear," I am not a bit frightened.

If there is to be a war and if we are to prepare for a war, ought we to be importing motor-cars and ought we to be importing agricultural machinery? Will they run without petrol and oil? I have been asked where will the wheat come from, if there is another war. I would do without bread and I have often done without it, if I could get potatoes and other things; but what will you do if you cannot get petrol? There are very few horses in the country and there will be fewer, and if we were logical and preparing for another war, we should see that we were not dependent on outside sources for our petrol, because then there will be a reduction in tillage not of 400,000 acres but of 1,000,000 acres, because there will be no way of tilling them. I am not arguing for or against any of these things, but, as a back-bencher, to whom, presumably, the arguments are addressed, I am wondering what I am expected to think when I cannot reconcile the things said to me.

I am glad the Minister has found a way of closing the loophole by which there was evasion of the stamp duty. I got into great trouble for talking about the stamp duty before, because I said I thought it was a dangerous thing to have foreigners buying up this country and carrying out another conquest by cheque book. A lot of people abused me, but they would be surprised by the number of people who agreed with me. There must have been a great many people trying to buy up this country when solicitors and lawyers and house agents went to such trouble to find loopholes to enable them to buy it up at "cut" prices. I am glad that, if they do buy it up, they have to pay the full price. The Minister has said there is very little land being bought by foreigners, but I do not accept that. Very little as compared with what?

Coming to the corner of Grafton Street to-day on my way to the Seanad, I passed the hoarding of an English insurance company and painted up on that hoarding in large letters is the statement that that company alone has invested £4,000,000 in the purchase of houses, businesses and land in this country in the past few years. That is an English company investing money. I will be told that the money has been advanced to Irish people to buy their houses and shops. Maybe it has, and, in the main, it has, I believe, but for that £4,000,000 that English insurance company invested, they will get back £8,000,000 because the rate of interest spread over the years will give them back their capital twice over. I know it to my cost, because I have had to buy houses through these companies and, if you borrow £1,000, you will pay back £2,000; and, in any case, although it is Senator Ó Buachalla, myself and any other Senator who may nominally be the purchaser of the house, until the last instalment is paid on the house, which may not be for 30 years, the English insurance company owns it. Look at it how you like, that one company alone has advanced £4,000,000 for the purchase of property in this country and that company is the actual owner of £4,000,000 worth of property in this country, acquired in the past few years, although it is nominally held by Irish citizens.

Do Irish companies not get the same?

Irish companies get the same, but at least the Irish company has Irish shareholders and the money remains in Irish hands. Any day that English company's money can be transferred to England.

There is just one more reference I want to make to this buying of places by non-nationals. I have no objection to Englishmen in their own country. They are very likeable people, I am sure, in their own country. Unlike the Irish, who were always loved when they went abroad, the English were always disliked when they went abroad, whether they came here or went to India, Egypt or anywhere else. They were the most likeable people in the world when they stayed at home and most objectionable when they went adventuring. Some of these people are buying up this country now, because, for one reason or another, they think it a good investment. I have evidence of one man who bought 1,400 acres of the best land in the country, land which is not too far from Dublin. Those 1,400 acres would house a good many Irish families. On these 1,400 acres he employs seven farm labourers and three of them he brought from England. Even if they were all Irish, he employs one farm labourer on every 200 acres. I wonder what amount of wheat he is going to produce. I wonder what good he is going to do this country.

I think there is a danger and I am glad the Minister has closed the loophole and has retained the tax. It is not because I have any personal hatred of Britishers or any other people, but I think we should safeguard ourselves against having the country bought from under our feet. The thing can become a menace in this country. They are not allowed to take their money from Great Britain to-day and buy up France, America or the Argentine. They can only buy within the sterling area and we happen to be the only place within the sterling area where it seems worth their while coming to live. We are still treated by these people as a British colony or British shire and it is that which makes me so resentful—that, no matter what we call ourselves, despite all we have done here and despite the fact that the British Government and every foreign Government in the world recognises us as the Republic of Ireland, these people with cheque books can still ignore everything we have done from 1916 down to to-day, to go no further back than 1916, and by the mere writing of a few words on a scrap of paper and presenting a cheque to the bank, can treat us still as a colony and that we took no defensive measures until the previous Government imposed the stamp duty. If we do not retain that stamp duty, if we do not do something even more drastic, we will leave it too long.

I am glad the Minister has retained it and this gives me the opportunity to refer to some of the statements published in reply to my remarks here. A whole host of anonymous letters appeared in some of the newspapers pointing out that everything I said was unjustifiable, and insisting that the Britishers who came here were buying up the land which the Irish farmers were too lazy or too incompetent to till and manage, that they bought up nothing but derelict estates and dilapidated houses. That is not so. It may be a good argument for a newspaper when you write anonymously, but it is not true. A typical case was the case I quoted of the man who bought 1,400 acres of the best land in the country and put seven labourers to work on it. He bought no derelict estate. He got good value for his money, and he is safe and will not complain about the income-tax, or about any of the things we complain about, the things we make all the fuss about while ignoring the really essential problems to which we should be attending.

I should like to refer to some of the speeches made by Opposition Senators. It is an old dodge, which comes down to us from Roman times, when you have no policy, to engage in war. It seems to me to-day that the Opposition have been devoid of any constructive or even destructive criticism of the Bill and they had to bring in here the old cry of war, hoping in that way to engender some of the enthusiasm which war always seems to engender amongst the young and unthinking sections of the community. The people of this country in 1950 are rather too enlightened to be bothered by that type of propaganda. It is certainly an appeal to the emotions rather than to reason and I believe it will fall upon deaf ears. I was delighted with what Senator Douglas said about its being better for us to win the cold war and it shows that some people in this country have been affected by Russian propaganda which is designed to divert our attention from our economic problems, from the Marshall Plan, the land rehabilitation project and the production of food and wealth from the land in a way that was never done before. No one in this country will give any heed to the suggestions made by these people to-day.

Senator Ó Buachalla said that one of the things we ought to do here was to grow more wheat and cut down our purchases from dollar areas. What we should do is to export more to dollar areas, because anything we send to the dollar areas at present, we can sell at a very high price, which will give us an opportunity of buying things in the dollar areas at cheap prices. It is an advantage which is not adequately realised in this country. Irish goods are being sold in New York to people who can afford to buy them because they can get them at reasonable prices, and we are getting dollars for them, and can buy back products more cheaply and beneficially than we could if there had been no devaluation. If we make the same use of our trade here, and get the cooperation we should get, I believe that we would be able to develop a good business in America, and I must congratulate the Government on getting so many able men to help in planning for dollar exports.

It has been put to me that the tax on dances ought to be imposed in units of 3d rather than units of 1/-. The present system is to place a tax of 1/- on every 4/- admission price, and, for practical purposes, it means that you can have only a 4/- dance, plus tax— full admission 5/- or a 10/- dance. It was brought to my attention recently that in many cases the Government would make a good deal more money out of the tax, if they facilitated the dance halls by having the tax in units of 3d. One dance hall proprietor told me that he would have charged for a big dance on St. Stephen's night 7/6, and that, if there were 1,000 people at the dance, the Government would have got in £25 more and, I think he said, an additional £25 in income-tax. That meant that the Government by imposing the tax in units of 3d would have derived from one dance in one hall in the country £50 additional in respect of entertainment and income-tax. I commend it to the Minister as a proper approach to an easing of the problem. Anyone who ever went to a dance knows that there must be some difference between a 5/- and a 10/- dance, and between a ? and a 5/- dance.

The Minister in the other House said that, if a good case were put up to him which would not cost too much, he might consider giving relief, and I have been asked to make an appeal on behalf of widows who are living on unearned income. I think the Minister ought to allow these widows the earned income relief. This is a Christian country, where it is the duty of a woman to bring up her family and look after her home. If her husband dies and leaves her some money, arising from an insurance policy or from savings he had accumulated, the State ought not to say to that woman, "You must pay the full rate of tax on that money." That woman ought to get the one-fifth earned income allowance as if she were working for somebody else, because she has the duty entrusted to her by God of bringing up her children properly. I believe the number of people affected is not large, because many widows, the widows of farmers and business people, get the earned income relief. It affects mainly the middle-salaried classes and the middle professional classes, and I think the Minister, with the small surplus he has in the Budget, has enough to grant this small relief.

With regard to what Senator O'Farrell has said about the property tax, I believe it ought to be increased on non-nationals. The 5 per cent. tax in respect of Irish nationals ought to be reduced, because it is good and beneficial that there should be a greater distribution of ownership, and, if a person wants to buy something from another, the State ought not to take 5 per cent. of it, merely because property is being transferred from one citizen to another. The loss in revenue could be made up by increasing the tax on non-nationals coming in here.

I want to refer also to what Senator Summerfield said with regard to other reliefs. It is a problem for all people engaged in business to-day to provide adequately for machinery which is worn out or which has become obsolete, in view of increased costs since 1938. The problem arises in Britain and here.

If it is arising in Britain, they have not met it.

If they have not met it in Britain, they should meet it.

Senator Summerfield asked me to give the British allowances. The Senator asks me to go further.

Writing in the Sunday Times of 28th May, Mr. Norman Crump, the editor, quoted Mr. Stewart Allen, president of the Incorporated Society of Accountants, and said that what they should do in England was to introduce what he called the price level reserve. In this article, he says that, in 50 years, in Britain the price had gone up 350 per cent. He says that the price in Britain has gone up by 350 per cent. and therefore that it is necessary, if industry is to maintain its structure intact, that they should set aside each year a certain amount of money equivalent to 14 per cent. of the assets to preserve the industry against the continuous depreciation in money which takes place. I draw this to the attention of the Minister, because I was elected as an industrial Senator, and I believe that all matters appertaining to industry that I feel are for the permanent benefit of industry, ought to be mentioned. If industrialists get money, and put it in industry, they are benefiting other people as well as themselves. It benefits employers, it is a benefit to local taxation, and it is a benefit to State taxation. If it is for the export trade, it is going to benefit everybody in the country. If we wake up some day, and they wake up in Britain, and they find that the imposition of taxation was too heavy on industry, then it will be too late. I believe that what people who are qualified to speak, like this man I quoted, Mr. Stewart Allen, say should be considered, and ought to be answered by the Minister.

In conclusion, I say that I believe that the standard of prosperity in this country, the general standard of prosperity among all the people, is greater than it ever has been before in the history of this State. A parish priest said to me a week ago, that the difficulty of his little church in the country was to find enough space for the farmers to park their cars. It is much better that there is a complaint about farmers having cars, than a complaint about industrialists having the cars. If we have sufficient prosperity in the country, we are bound to have prosperity in the towns, and we are bound to have wide prosperity among all sections of the community. It is to the small farmer that the greatest measure of prosperity is arising. A farmer said to me, not longer than a week ago, that he got more for the clip of the wool off his mountain sheep this year than he got for his mountain sheep and wool 15 years ago. That is a considerable improvement for the people living on the marginal lands, the people that some of us hoped would not have to leave agriculture, and sell their land to the Forestry Department. These people are being paid anything from £8 to £12 for a dropped calf. It is not so long since 8/- to 12/- was as much as they could get for the same calf. While there may be some sections of the community, for whom redress will have to be made to redress the balance, particularly after the turmoil of a war, I believe we have greater prosperity than ever we had before, and all we have to do is to hope that it continues. Finally, I must make some reference to what Senator Professor O'Brien has said to us on the question of State borrowing. I think it was one of the finest contributions that was made on that subject by a member of either House for some time past. The burden of his remarks was, that if we could short-date loans, the Minister for Finance would have an opportunity of borrowing money at a much lower interest rate than it has been borrowed in the past. It has been tried in Britain. Britain, I believe, has a 3 per cent. defence bond, of which they only issue £1,000 worth to each person, and one cannot make the first withdrawal except on six months' notice.

That is the type of loan that may appeal to the farmers of this country; in fact, it is possible that the Minister may even get money on short term in this country at 2 per cent. A farmer might want to settle his sons or daughters, but he does not want to lend money to any Minister for Finance for ten or 15 years. He may lend it for a year or two, because his children are not grown up, and he will not want it. I think the Minister could get millions of money at round about 2 or 2½ per cent. if, as Senator O'Brien suggests, the money was sufficiently short-dated. I do not believe for an instant, as some people think about short-dated loans, that everybody will run in and say: "We want all our money." That will not happen. We are conservative about finance in this country, and those working on the land, in industry, in the professional classes, or anyone who does a bit of saving will not be stampeded, in any way, by scares of that kind. I think the old theory in the past, that you would have to have all the money there, ready to hand it out to everybody who came in on the one day to look for it, I think that form of over-prudence is a product of Victorianism, and I do not think need be considered by any Minister for Finance who will go to the public for money in the future.

I have not anything further to add to the debate. It is getting late, but I would ask the Minister to consider the points I have made, the appeal for the widows, the appeal for the dancers and, finally, for those who want to give money, I would like to have it on terms that might convenience them in making their own arrangements.

What I feel about this debate, so far, is the extraordinary amount of exaggeration that we have had in the speeches from the other side of the House and from Senator Séamus O'Farrell on this side of the House. It would seem to me that, to make a case, they exaggerated more than 100 per cent. in every argument they made. Untold millions in defence was the phrase Senator Séamus O'Farrell used, and Senator Douglas, because Senator Quirke suggested that a certain number of millions of pounds per annum was being allocated for spending in Sweden on defence, suggested we were to spend the same amount and that we were a country with a somewhat similar population. There was no such suggestion, I may say here, on that particular question, so far as Senator Quirke was concerned. His complaint was that we were neglecting completely this question of defence.

Is that not a bit of an exaggeration?

Well, I do not think so.

Neglecting completely?

I assert that it is an absolutely correct statement, and I have some knowledge of the Army as it is in Ireland at the present time. I know that one branch of the Army, which was regarded as very important when Fianna Fáil was the Government, the Volunteer Force or the F.C.A. as it is at the present time, is being completely neglected by the Government, and the difficulty of attracting recruits to that very essential service is becoming greater as the years pass. I rather think that if the particular Minister does not give very special attention to that force, it will dwindle to nothing in a very short time. Senator O'Farrell, whose conversion seems to be complete, since this reunion of Parties, comes along and speaks of untold millions. All the talk about subsidies for the poor has ceased, rationing, and all the rest of it. At the present time, he is completely sold on the idea that we should continue the present system of rationing. We should continue to have two prices. I wonder what he thought before he was converted. Senator Douglas gave us an explanation of rationing. He said that it was in order to allow people to get what they need at as low a price as possible. Senator Ó Buachalla has suggested that people should get a fair quantity.

Should get equal quantities.

An equal quantity. I disagree with both definitions. To my mind, the reason for rationing is that, when necessary articles are scarce, the pool available can be so distributed that each person gets a fair share. When the pool is sufficient to supply all the needs, rationing should be abolished. That was the attitude of the Fine Gael section of this House when Fianna Fáil was in office, that rationing should be abolished as soon as the pool of necessary articles was sufficient to meet the needs of the people. We believe that that pool at present has reached that particular stage.

That is, without subsidy?

That is a matter for the Government to decide.

Would the Senator assist me with his advice? Say there is plenty of butter, we should let that free to everybody, without subsidy?

I am not going to do the Minister's job, but I will deal with the question of subsidy to a certain extent. Senator O'Farrell, for instance, believed that the double price system did not inflict any hardship on the poor people. Like many others, I happened to be in Donegal during the recent by-election, in a poor section, the Rosses area, where I found that the bulk of the poor people there eat white bread regularly. It is their main article of food, as they have not plenty of potatoes, beef and other things we have in other parts of the country. It was quite normal, even in the hotels or ordinary restaurants, to be presented on all occasions with white bread. The amount which they got by way of ration was not anything like sufficient to meet the needs of people situated as they were. Consequently, we must make up our minds —and that is the Government's task— to allow the people to get the full quantity they require of necessary articles at the rationed price, or else take the odium, if there is odium attached to it, of charging the normal price and allowing wages to adjust themselves so that the people can buy the articles. That is part of the Government's duty. If we were in office, we would take the responsibility.

You were in office for 16 years and took a certain responsibility.

Which responsibility.

You rationed, and rationed tightly.

We rationed in the best interests of the people.

That is all right.

We rationed so that the poor people got even more than the people who were in good circumstances.

No, you did not.

The Minister should remember the coupon system, which enabled people on home assistance to get certain quantities of bread, milk and butter, additional to the rationing. In fact, when we were doing that there was objection that we did not give money. We were able to explain that that particular system enabled the very poorest section of the people to get more of the necessaries of life. We were condemned for that. Our bother was that we had not enough wheat, sugar, tea and butter, and therefore we could not give everybody what they required, but we saw to it that the rich man did not get more than his share.

Of course, he did buy more. He did get more.

I am talking from the law angle. He may have got it outside the law. We did our best to stop that, and the first action of the present Government when they took office was to remove the bar which had been placed on people who broke the rationing regulations.

We took the profits off the black market, to the advantage of the community.

The fact is that we imposed certain disabilities on people we were able to prove guilty of breaking rationing regulations, and the first action of the Minister for Industry and Commerce when he took office was to put those people back on a par with the people who played the game and did not dip into the pool to give to people who had more money.

There was an exaggeration here on the question of growing wheat and a lot of talk about whether we should have compulsion or not. There was a suggestion from Senator Burke—I was rather amused by it—that, instead of bothering about growing 400,000 acres of wheat, we should export more goods to the dollar market. I am sure we should all be very happy, if anyone believes you could export more goods to the dollar market. I understand that the purchases in the dollar area were so small that it was said our efforts should be directed to buying goods in the sterling area simply because we could not afford to spend dollars in buying goods in the dollar area. I know it would be splendid if we could sell cattle and other things to America, but we cannot get a market to purchase these things. I am sure the Minister would be happy if Senator Burke would tell him how he is to export more goods to the dollar area for the 400,000 acres of wheat.

On a point of order, I am sending goods to the dollar area myself and I am getting a considerably greater increase in price than the devaluation has cost us for the raw material that is producing the article. It is doing benefit to the country, even paying the increased price for maize, with the price the American would pay for bacon.

I am glad to hear that Senator Burke exports to the dollar area. I would like him to be able to inform us regarding any likelihood that the export of that particular product will be increased to such dimensions as to make it something worth talking about. We would like to see the exports of these particular products in huge quantities to the United States, but so far as I can judge there is no great hope that we will increase it to such a large extent that we need not bother about paying dollars for wheat.

We did not start immediately the war broke out on this question of growing wheat in Ireland or reverting to a tillage policy. We started away back in 1932, immediately we took office. At that time, as most people know, the acreage under wheat amounted to somewhere about 20,000 acres. There has been talk of compelling people to grow wheat. We had succeeded, by 1939, in inducing people, by what they reckoned at that time a reasonable price, to increase that acreage to something over 250,000 acres. That would induce me almost to believe that it is not necessary to compel farmers to grow wheat, but there is one thing that is desirable, that we should not discourage farmers from growing wheat if they want to grow it. During the time we were in office, we heard many wild statements from the present Minister for Agriculture, phrases such as he "would not be seen dead in a field of wheat." In 1948 he said about the person who grew wheat that he would pay him for it but that if he was of that mentality he might be better in some other part of the world. He recommended them to grow oats and potatoes but the people found that to grow them on his advice was a ridiculous thing for sensible people to do. The next year he came along and told them to grow oats, potatoes and barley but with regard to barley he said that unless they had a contract with the miller they could not be sure of the price.

Is it the price that determines farmers or is it what anybody says?

I will make my own statement. He said if farmers wanted a cash crop, let them grow wheat. We were all delighted at his conversion, but when the Minister in charge of food production discourages farmers from producing a necessary article of life it is time that the Government should consider whether they would continue him as Minister.

Is he not paying them?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator must be allowed to finish his speech.

My belief as far as this country is concerned is that it is a wise thing for our people to concentrate on producing all the food that can be produced in this country for the Irish people. At the present time we are producing food for export to Britain, beef and even bacon to some extent.

Do you not want that then?

Let me develop the argument. If we have to buy from an outside country the feeding stuffs for either the beef or the bacon, I think it is a very bad policy, because we have to pay dollars for them as a general rule, and we are subsidising with our dollars exports to Britain for sterling.

The Danes are doing the same.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Senator Loughman must be allowed to finish.

I do not believe that because other people do something we should do the same; neither would I walk into a river if Senator Baxter walked into it, whether it was good for me or not.

I would like to ask the Minister what the Government's attitude is regarding the purchase of food and the growing of food in this country; whether our people should be encouraged to produce wheat in order that we would not have to spend dollars to purchase it from abroad. I think this is a question which should be made quite clear.

Less imported wheat goes into the manufacture of bread in this country than ever before.

I am very glad to hear it. The meaning of that is that we had a greater crop than last year?

About 40 per cent. imported and 60 per cent. native.

Does that mean that out of last year's crop we had a greater quantity of wheat?

If you grow wheat on proper wheat land the yield goes up. The acreage may go down, but the yield goes up.

With regard to compulsion, when we were in the Government the argument was used by the farmers' section of the Opposition that they would be happy to grow wheat if more fertilisers were available and that they would even accept a less price than the Minister was offering at that time. My belief is that we should grow more wheat and beet and that we should concentrate on these things which we need ourselves rather than concentrate on the production of beef for export to our neighbours. I have no objection to letting Britain have all the cattle and even any surplus wheat we can produce, but we should concentrate on seeing that the country will never again be in the position in time of stress of having to import wheat or necessary articles of food from abroad.

I do not know whether I am in order in referring to this point, but I should like to ask the Minister a question. Is it perfectly correct, as I have heard, that the increase in the postal charges made a couple of years ago is an illegal impost? The post rates were increased by order of the Minister.

That was a form of taxation which was hidden. I understand that people paid some £500,000 more.

I do not think it was anything like that. You make my mouth water.

I may be wrong, but my objection to it is that if the Minister was not entitled in law to make these changes they should not have been made, particularly as people like some of us who objected had no opportunity to make a case against them. I have a particular interest in the printed rate postage and I think that the doubling of that charge inflicted a great hardship on quite a number of people and organisations in the country. I am given to understand that the Minister was not entitled in law to increase these charges and that legislation will have to be introduced to legalise that particular position.

There is legislation on foot regarding it.

It is a form of Government system to which I certainly object. I and other people have been paying postage rates for a considerable time and I know that if I, as a private citizen, were bound by law to sell a particular article at a particular price and if I sold it at a greater price I would be punished, but we have no redress as far as the Government are concerned; they can come in and introduce a Bill. A funnier situation would arise supposing the Government went out—I do not say there is any danger of it. What would happen, for instance, if the succeeding Government did not go through with that legislation?

They would have to pay back the money. I do not want to interrupt the Senator, but when he says that all these postal charges are related, that is not so.

I hope not, but they seem to be.

It is a small point. You have got mixed and I was responsible for it.

I move the adjournment of the debate.

The Seanad adjourned at 10 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday, 22nd June, 1950.