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Seanad Éireann debate -
Thursday, 22 Jun 1950

Vol. 38 No. 6

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

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

During the debate yesterday reference was made to the desirability of developing our natural resources. These references came from the Government Benches. I was very glad to hear that they fully supported that idea. I can well remember that in the times before we secured freedom here the Irish people looked forward to the day when an Irish Parliament would develop the natural resources of the country for the benefit of the people. Very much good work has been done in that direction. In many spheres the natural resources have been developed. Of course, we have met with many disappointments. I remember that when we were young we believed that we had inexhaustible mineral resources here which were being neglected because the country was being ruled from abroad. It was a disappointment to us to find that these resources were not anything up to what we had expected.

At the same time, since we have had our own Parliament, there are resources which have not been developed but which have been neglected, and I wish to refer this evening to the slate rock deposit. I remember that during the British occupation many of the slate quarries were in production, and even for some years afterwards, but for several years now, with very rare exceptions, these deposits are derelict. In the part of the country I come from, there were two famous quarries near Aghenny, Carrick-on-Suir, which produced slate that was renowned throughout Europe and certainly throughout Ireland. These quarries are now derelict. One of them was worked up to 15 or 16 years ago, and the other has not been worked during the past 40 years. The one I am mainly concerned with is the Victoria quarry, which I understand contains the finest slate rock which could be made available anywhere. It was closed not because of want of a market or because of inferiority of the slate, but because of a dispute between the owners and the lessees about royalty fees. That quarry is now derelict, and I understand that the Department inspectors and engineers have visited the place and the reports are contradictory—one report favours a reopening of the quarry and another does not.

I believe that in that quarry and in many others throughout the country there is still plenty of slate rock which could be used to manufacture roof coverings for the many houses we are building. We know that during the past 25 years many hundreds of millions of tiles have been manufactured here and other forms of slate, asbestos slate and so on to cover the small dwellings which we have erected in such great numbers. It is most extraordinary that when the market became as great as that these quarries should be closed down.

My purpose in drawing attention to this matter this evening is to see if we could not induce the Government or a particular Department to be interested in these quarries with a view to developing them.

We are told that private enterprise should undertake such development. If it is left to private enterprise I believe it will be the next generation that will have to tackle the problem as private enterprise so far as I can gather will not undertake this work.

The geologists and engineers more or less condemn the opening of the quarries. The financiers find it I suppose much easier to invest their money in the manufacture of asbestos slate and tiles. I am told that the householders believe that the slate covered house is the better one, and that the builders agree with them. The only objection there, then, is that slate is more costly than the tiles. In the pre-war days it cost about £15 more to slate a house than to cover it with tiles. At that time there was not a constant supply of slate and I could understand any builder, because of the difficulty of getting slate, being chary of tendering for a scheme of houses where it was a condition that slate should be used.

We have established a mineral development company to explore the possibilities of mineral wealth and coal, and I understand that that company cannot undertake exploration regarding slates; but since one of the principles upon which we are all agreed is that we should develop our own natural resources and that industries, the raw material of which is abundant in this country, should be the industries to concentrate on, I believe that the Government should try at least to explore the possibilities and do some development work so that people with money might be induced to invest their money in the production of slate.

I do not think it needs much argument to convince people that slate is the best roofing material. At the Victoria quarry, slate of a standard size can be produced in great quantities. We know that slate will last a great length of time. In Carrick there is an Elizabethan building called Carrick Castle which was covered over 300 years ago with Victoria slates and these slates are still on the roof. I wonder if modern roof covering will last that long. At any rate, I believe that the people generally would prefer slates on their houses to tiles or any other method of covering. Because of that and because of the fact that we are more or less pledged to develop our own resources I think the Government should see to it that no deposit of the kind of which I spoke should be left idle when so many people are unemployed and when there is such a great demand for what could be produced in these quarries. I would appeal to the Minister to send some engineers to the localities I have mentioned and other localities in the country where slate is abundant to examine the possibilities of reopening these quarries. I am told that one report of engineers who have visited the place already would not recommend emptying the old pit, which is now filled with water, but that a new opening should be made. A survey should be made so that the people in the locality will not be blinded with false hopes forever. A public statement should then be made giving the people to understand that there are possibilities or that there are not. If we knew definitely that we might consider these deposits useless, then the people could turn their thoughts to something else and forget about slate quarries. But there is plenty of slate there of excellent quality, and the working of these quarries will give magnificent employment to quite a number of people and the products of such quarries will be used increasingly in this country for housing for our people over the next 30 years.

I would like to refer to another matter which has already been referred to by Senator S. O'Farrell. Listening to him yesterday evening, I got the idea that nobody else in the debate on the Land Bill mentioned the question of the purchase by foreigners of land in Ireland. I would like to mention that Senators Seán Hayes and Fitzsimons and myself did stress that angle on the acquisition of land. In fact, I want to repeat something I said on the Land Bill which was reported in the Irish Independent but which was omitted for some reason or another from the Official Reports. I gave an instance in that debate of an English titled person who came to County Kerry a couple of years ago and purchased a substantial holding there. After he was in the place for 12 months he purchased another holding. In between those two holdings there was a third, and at the time I was in Kerry proceedings had gone far towards the purchase of the third holding. I went on to show that while we were pássing Land Bills for the purpose of undoing the clearances of long ago a person like the man I have mentioned could come with a bank note big enough and a crow-bar and do the same work that the R.I.C., the crow-bar and the battering-ram had to do in the old days.

I wish to repeat what I asked the Minister to do on that occasion. I asked him if he had not powers to take powers to see that that type of land purchase should be discontinued in the country. I pointed out that I have not any objection to English people or other foreigners buying land here within reason, but that I had an objection to one person coming like that, competing with Irish people for the purchase of these lands, sending up prices, replacing three Irish families with one English family and, in my opinion, starting another clearance while we were going to terrific trouble trying to undo clearances.

I wish to mention borrowing and particularly something which Senator George O'Brien said yesterday. I always like to listen to the Senator when he speaks, because his speeches are all very reasoned, and for a number of reasons, but yesterday he was at pains, as far as I could judge, to explain that in order to be consistent you had to be inconsistent. That was the impression I got from listening to him, but I will read his speech just to see if that was the correct impression. My idea is that if a situation of that kind can arise it is a rather extraordinary thing. We were told long ago when we were going to school that a little learning is a dangerous thing, but if that reasoning is correct, it would seem to me that we would have to continue that quotation and say that to drink deeply is equally dangerous.

However, my attitude to borrowing is that when a Government intends to borrow moneys which will have to be repaid practically entirely out of taxation they should be very conservative because their action is going to compel future Governments to raise taxes to meet that particular borrowing. While I have not any objection in the world to Governments borrowing, I think it is a bad principle that a Government should borrow in that way, The obvious inference is that the Government will get credit for doing works by borrowing but will make future Governments pay for whatever credit they get. I think that is wrong. I believe that we are borrowing beyond our means. The fact that the Government are borrowing in the way they are borrowing simply means that they do not believe they will be the next Government, because, if they did, they would have in mind the fact that any future Government will have to pay for the money which we are raising by way of borrowing at present.

Listening to the opening speeches yesterday evening, it appeared to me that there was a concentration by many Opposition speakers on the disappointment they felt because there was no reference in the Finance Bill to any provision for increased food production which would be necessary in the event of another emergency, which, those speakers seemed positive, was about to arise. Disappointment was also expressed that the Government had not indicated its defence policy and a contrast was more or less instituted as between the concern which manifested itself when the late Government was in power during the war and the evident or apparent lack of concern noticeable now. In so far as the provision for increased production of food and fuel is concerned, I think the lavish amounts which the Government are allocating towards land rehabilitation and reclamation represent a substantial contribution towards increasing the facilities for the production of even greater quantities of food in the near future. We all know that the constant cropping which took place during the emergency and the insufficient fertilising of the arable land led to an impoverishment which had to be attended to if the greater part of our arable land was not to go out of production. The Government have made provision for the securing of proper fertilisers and these are being liberally used by the farming community.

In so far as defence is concerned, Senator Baxter yesterday spoke the mind of many discerning people. He said things that are not popular in the ears of some people but which are considered to be the truth by many who were closely and intimately associated with many of the emergency forces during the war. I was one who was associated during the whole period of the war with one branch of the emergency forces, and I was not very long enrolled when I had to look at the Government's viewpoint of the whole situation as being very unreal or insincere. As a matter of fact, I was present at a meeting of a local body on one occasion when one item on the agenda was the matter of queries by the Department of Defence as to what steps were taken by the county survey staff for the demolition of bridges on main roads in certain eventualities and another item provided for the consideration of estimates for the erection of new bridges. That appeared to me as destruction and construction, and did not suggest that the queries as to demolition were sincere.

Our neutrality during the last war has been referred to, and I do not wish to labour the point, but one would imagine that the steps taken by the late Government during the emergency were responsible for keeping this country from being involved in total war. We know that the Leader of the Opposition has on several occasions rightly attributed the immunity we enjoyed to Providence, and I do not imagine that the people have done anything so very wrong since that they might not look to the same Providence to look after their interests in the future. This talk of war is not impressing the people, who are at present concerned with work on schemes made possible by the liberal financial provision laid out by the present Government. Senator Quirke referred to the fact that in some districts it was not possible to get three or four young men to join the Army. I can quite understand that. They have not got the time now, because they are engaged in far more remunerative work, and, as a matter of fact, in certain parts of the country at present it is difficult to get unskilled labourers for such work as turf cutting. In the area from which I come as high as 25/- per day has been offered to turf cutters and even then it is difficult to get them and in many cases they cannot be got.

It is difficult to understand what is at the back of the minds of some of the Opposition, so far as the policy of the Government is concerned. In the early stages, the Minister for Finance was regarded as a Minister who was looking with a microscope over the Estimates to see how far he could whittle down allocations made for the different services. Afterwards, when the agricultural policy was enunciated and it was indicated that huge sums were to be made available for land reclamation, as well as moneys for hospitalisation, the Government were referred to as squandering, and the Administration likened to the rake's progress. At the back of it all, the fact is that these schemes cost money, no matter what Government formulates and carries them into effect, and we are told that these schemes were all planned by the Fianna Fáil Government before it went out of office. Senator O'Brien, in his very excellent contribution, referred to this attitude as blowing hot and cold, and, of course, they cannot get away with that.

Senator Ó Buachalla yesterday spoke of several promises made by the different Parties constituting the present Government during the general election campaign. He more or less twitted the Minister for Finance or the Government on the non-fulfilment of those promises. I have a very distinct recollection of three or four promises that were made that to my mind were primarily responsible for changing the outlook and the votes on the part of many of the electors. There was the promise made that if the Parties that made them were returned as a Government they would immediately remove the penal taxes on the few luxuries that remained with the poorer class of the community. When they did become the Government, that promise was implemented without very much delay.

I have also a very distinct recollection of a promise being made that in the event of a change of Government steps would be taken to give a substantial increase to the old age pensioners, and that, also, there would be a modification of the means test that militated greatly against many applicants for old age pensions. That is another promise that has been implemented. Another promise has been implemented in the removal of the penal tax on beer and tobacco that has been very much appreciated and is appreciated by the people throughout the country.

There were also promises made about increasing the bed accommodation for tuberculosis patients. That is proceeding at the present time and has been proceeding almost since the change of Government on a scale that is meeting with the approval and the evident surprise of many people.

Wages have been increased in several cases. A promise was made to the teachers that the circumstances that led to the strike that should never have occurred would be attended to, and they have been attended to.

These are only a few of the promises that were made that have been fulfilled. I am quite satisfied that before the Government runs its full term of office many more promises that were made will be fulfilled. The Government, in their effort to fulfil these promises, are entitled certainly to the co-operation of all classes of the community, because this is not legislation for a class or a section; it is legislation that affects everybody.

Certain objections have been raised to the policy of the dual Budget, the finding of money for capital expenditure by borrowing. For 20 years I happened to be a member of a public body. For any work of a capital nature undertaken by that body the money was invariably provided by borrowing. The policy is not, therefore, revolutionary. It is a wise policy because this country, as we all know, is underdeveloped, and if any Government was expected to develop along the lines of pay-as-you-go the development would be very slow.

I have no complaint to make in so far as the work of the Government is concerned except in regard to a few matters, one of which I have already referred to, that is, that I believe that the liberal provision that is being made by the Government for housing is responsible to some extent for the enormous cost of erecting houses at the present time. I believe that houses could be erected, without stinting wages, without paying less than a good day's wage for a good day's work, without the contractors being at a loss, for less than they are at present being erected. The expenditure on certain roads at the present time is bordering on extravagance and that money could be saved without in any way interfering with the condition of the roads.

Generally speaking, there is evidence of prosperity throughout the country. There is a circulation of money greater than ever I knew amongst the people living in rural districts and in the towns and there is evidence that the work the Government is doing at the present time is appreciated by the people generally throughout the country.

In spite of the cheering talk last night about the buoyancy of finance and the free flow of money through the country and all the other things that we heard, I was rather depressed by some of the speeches that mostly concerned the world situation and the threat of war. Curiously enough, it was not the speeches of those who rather emphasised the threat of war and who told us what other countries are doing to make provision in case of that threat becoming a reality that I found quite so depressing as the bland assurances we received from Senator Baxter, Senator Séamus O'Farrell and Senator Douglas that there would be no war, that it was all an enormous bluff on the part of Russia and a way of winning the cold war by getting the various nations engaged in producing armaments while the real work was being neglected. That would be all right, perhaps, but the figures listed by Senator Bill Quirke last night show that the people who are preparing for war in that drastic way take that threat very seriously. That being the case, I do not think we can assure ourselves that there will be no war.

I hope and trust and pray that there will not and, perhaps, with the mercy of God, it will be averted but, humanly speaking, there is grave threat of war, a threat that nearly every country in Europe realises and is making extraordinary provision for.

That being the case, I do not think our Government should sit back and do nothing. I do not believe that the Government of sensible men are in that position, but I think it would give us all an assurance if, when the Minister concludes this debate, he would tell us that they have the situation well in mind and, as much as possible, well in hand.

I know that the things that worked in the last war may be out of date and not of very much use for the war that is threatened, but there are certain fundamental things that can be done, certain things that we could provide. The food situation, the fuel situation—all these things—could be thought out and provided for and we could see that our young officers are well trained in all the terrible development of modern warfare.

We have to take cognisance of the progress—if you call it "progress"— in destruction that has emerged from the last war. I say again that what served us in the last war may not serve us in this war. I believe that the Minister and his colleagues are sensible men. They must think of these things and I give them credit for taking thought for them. Perhaps it would be reassuring if we did get an assurance from them that they are thinking of them. I hope that there is not going to be a war. Please God, there may not. But, it is a possibility that other people, who are in much closer touch with events than we are, are taking most serious thought for.

With regard to the Finance Bill itself and the Budget, of which it is the instrument, I am not in a position to give any very valued opinion, but I quite agree with the Government. I think they have done a wise thing in providing for capital expenditure. This country has been so long undeveloped that you need something bold and drastic to repair the wastage of centuries and the unfortunate experiences we have been through since we emerged as an independent State. For this reason, I think the Government were justified in doing something rather out of the way in providing for capital expenditure to do the necessary work of reconstruction and to make the most of this country of ours. It is the one way, as Senator George O'Brien pointed out last evening, to stop the trend of emigration, the running sore, in which we are losing thousands of our young people, boys and girls, who are just flying from the land. We must try to bring them back and we cannot do that unless there is work for them. The work must provide for the making of homes, houses and schools, as well as other things. We want to improve the marriage rate and we must have work for the men and homes and good training for the women. That would be the best way we could repair the losses we have sustained. At the same time, the matter of emigration is not merely a matter of providing work. We are all waiting anxiously for the report of the Emigration Commission. I am personally tremendously interested, as I am in close touch with Aran, and see that there is hardly anyone left there. We must get at the root of these terrible losses. It is not altogether the provision of work, though that is important, and I am glad the Government has faced up to it. It is largely psychological.

Hear, hear!

The people want to get away, because they are largely fed on English and American notions and accept the views America and England offer. Books and papers have a great deal to do with it. I hope the Minister has read the very enlightening pamphlet published by Father Devane on the imported press. The position is very frightening regarding the quantity of papers that deluge our country. For the Sunday press 20,000,000 is the last figure for 1949, and this comes in duty free. I think Father Devane suggested there should be a quota for these things, and that there should be a tax on the Sunday papers. Maybe the Minister would not be able to adopt that suggestion, but I think he should consider it.

If we get our people home, there are some dangers to be avoided. We have the danger of labour unrest. At the present moment there is a great deal of labour unrest. In Galway we have a strike which it seems almost impossible to solve as the contesting parties have their backs against principles. One has its back against the decision of the Labour Court. That is its support. The other's plea is the high cost of living. If the Labour Court is not accepted as an instrument of conciliation, it is absolutely necessary for the Government to improve the Labour Court or provide some instrument of conciliation. If labour unrest goes on, and people can be called out on sympathetic strikes, we will have things happening as happened in Galway, when a ship laden with necessary phosphates left the port and went to Amsterdam, while the farmers were crying out for the material. Sugar distribution was interfered with by people not directly interested in the strike. All these things make progress very difficult, if not impossible. The one thing which we must get back is conciliation. It must be possible that before people resort to the strike weapon it is felt that it is just the last resort. The strike weapon injures not only the unfortunate wives and families of the workers, but the whole province of Connaught is adversely affected by the strike in Galway. I think something must be done, and I see a gleam of hope in what the chairman of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union said in Galway yesterday when he commended some decision of the Labour Court. Perhaps that means that its former prestige is restored in their eyes. Also he came out strongly against unofficial strikes as did, to his credit, the Minister for Industry and Commerce when discussing the Transport Bill.

Trade unions themselves must set their face against unofficial strikes. I have no doubt they will and that the lead will be followed. For that reason, I think the industrial peace which is as necessary for our development as world peace, with the mercy of God and the prudence of our rulers, will be restored.

I have two proposals which I would like to take this opportunity to submit to the Minister for his consideration and decision. Coming at the end of this debate, I propose now to make them together. One is rather an ordinary suggestion, the other is original. They spring from the fact that I am convinced that income-tax concessions could be made a much more helpful instrument. In the last decade, taxation increased in intensity and extent, with the result that a great many of us, in some way or another, are workers for the State in that we are earning money that the State is ready enough to take and do things with. If certain concessions were made to us, they would bring advantages that would reveal themselves in later times. The first suggestion I have, concerns the repairs to our ordinary habitations. I would like to feel that something could be done to give a concession for money spent on repairs. The Government helps with grants and advice and is prepared to consider all sorts of things to enable us to establish a house and get some kind of home. The Government looks to the time when we will have a happy, well-housed people. Unfortunately, having got your home, you have to keep it in repair. You can get help to have slates on the roof, but you get no help to keep them there.

If I happen to occupy an ancient battered dwelling, I will have to spend a lot each year without getting any relief. I do not mean major expenses that might affect the rating bill, but minor repairs. I wonder if it would not be possible for an enlightened Finance Act to help in keeping ourselves patched up. I think the buildings would be kept in better condition if we were allowed some concession. This is a fairly ordinary suggestion which was made before. I wonder what objections there are.

The other suggestion is, I think, a rather unusual suggestion and one which I would be very grateful to have considered, that is, the repairs required by our earthly habitations, our ordinary bodies. As a worker, I get obsolescence allowances for the machinery I use. When my typewriter wears out after ten years, I can get a new one and I get an allowance for it, but if I have to replace a denture I get no allowance. It may sound flippant but it is not. I would like to live to see the day when we will get income-tax allowances for money spent on medical and surgical treatment. In one class of the community such treatment is free and in another the expense does not matter, but the representatives of the inglorious and slightly battered middle class have to pay very heavily. An operation, a not very serious operation perhaps, with nursing home treatment afterwards may cost £50 to £100. I hold that money spent on keeping the animal in repair is spent as honestly as money spent on keeping up farm machinery because if one allows one's body to fall into disrepair one becomes a liability on the State, or one's relatives.

I would ask the Minister to consider the possibility of there being some income-tax concession on medical and surgical treatment incurred by the individual. In certain classes and under certain insurance conditions these expenses are paid and in some classes it does not matter what they cost, but in the other class they must be paid for by the victim or by his relatives and it is very expensive in the case of treatment with some modern drugs, treatment for anaemia, arthritis and so on. It seems to me that here is a chance for the State to demonstrate before the world its sense of humanity, consideration for its citizens, and—might I say so? —its power of financial imagination.

Those are the two suggestions which I would like to submit to the Minister. I think I am entitled to submit them under the terms of the Bill and I would be very grateful if he would consider them.

I am glad that the Minister is retaining the 25 per cent. tax on foreign investments in land. Everybody agrees that it is a very necessary tax and that it should be retained, but I am sorry that he did not see his way to remove the 5 per cent. tax on nationals dealing in land. That tax presses very heavily. We all know that when a farmer sells his land it is only through extreme poverty and that he holds on to the very last. To place a tax of 5 per cent. on the sale is a very great hardship. It is intended that the purchaser should pay it, but the purchaser nearly always allows for it and I think that the Minister would be well advised in a future Budget to remove that tax.

I think that the tax on transfers of farms, even from father to son, is altogether too heavy and it affects the farming population very much. Estates have been taxed out of existence in other countries, but we should remember that anything that hits the small farmer hits the very foundation of national prosperity, because all our production and our whole social fabric rests on the ordinary farmer being able to carry on. Therefore, I think the 5 per cent. should be removed in a future Budget.

Like Senator Mrs. Concannon, I would urge the Minister to consider the imposition of a tax on imported newspapers, particularly Sunday papers. The existing tax on daily papers and periodicals is by no means enough as we can judge from the quantities coming into the country. A heavy tax should be placed on Sunday papers. As we have seen, the circulation of English Sunday papers has increased during the last three or four years from 15,000,000 to 20,000,000 in the past year.

There are several reasons why that tax should be imposed. Both Governments have put on protective tariffs in order to protect Irish industries. Surely on those grounds alone our printing industry and the workers engaged in it are entitled to protection against this flood of foreign papers.

Secondly, on national grounds, they should be discouraged. How could anyone expect the nation to continue if the people's minds are filled with foreign literature, particularly the literature of so near and so powerful a neighbour who had so much to do with this country in the past? No nation should allow its people to feed their minds on the Press, the literature and the culture of another nation.

The greatest reason of all is the moral one. We know what kind those papers are and what taste they pander to, and it certainly is the duty of the Government to protect the people against the importation of an immoral Press into this country. Whatever we might think about the older people being free to choose, we must protect the young and innocent. Years ago a committee was got together to investigate that matter and they found that papers and journals were circulating freely through the country which were so terrible that you could not believe that they came from the hand of man. They have multiplied terribly, and, undoubtedly, the Government should impose a heavy tax and only allow them in by quota like many other goods.

I am not speaking of cultural periodicals and journals from other countries, many of which are really good and educational, but the ordinary Sunday papers should be discouraged and the papers which pander to the lowest tastes should be discouraged by every means in the Government's power.

I certainly do not agree that there should be two prices for commodities. Remember that in 1940 Senator Johnston suggested that revenue might be raised by charging extra prices for foodstuffs and that it was regarded as a joke at the time, but the joke has evidently come to pass. I think we must remember that the sole reason for rationing foodstuffs is scarcity, because there is not enough to go around to give everybody enough. It is right then that the Government should ration them, and, by rationing, provide that everybody, rich and poor, should only get the same quantity. When foodstuffs become so plentiful, however, that you can afford to have a second price and allow a person to get as much as he wishes, the scarcity has ceased and there are no grounds for continuing rationing. Either foodstuffs are so scarce that they must be rationed and that a second price would be impossible or else there is no need for rationing. I understand that the Government are subsidising these articles and they do not want the cost of the subsidy extended. That is the case with bread, butter, tea and sugar, but everybody only uses what he wants of them. A man eats as much bread as he wants and it is the same with tea, sugar and butter, so there is no reason to say that if we remove rationing people will eat too much.

Meat charges are very high and you could have a second price if you wanted to secure a portion for the poorer people. It would be all right to ration meat and to have two prices. I can see the difficulty of a subsidy being already entailed, but if the rationing were taken off butter, if possible, and tea, sugar and bread certainly, I do not think there would be any worthwhile increase in the cost. Even if there were, it would be better to increase the rationed price somewhat so as to relieve the Exchequer. We are the only country which has continued rationing and the time has come when the Government would be well advised to abandon rationing altogether, so far as those commodities which are plentiful are concerned.

The question of the American loan has been raised. It is a very good thing that capital expenditure should be undertaken on a big scale, as it is being undertaken, because the country very sorely needed capital development in its undeveloped state. The land drainage scheme is a very good scheme which, I am sure, will pay rich dividends in the course of time. There is, however, one thing about the American money which I did not like—that this Government should have accepted a grant. Other countries sought and got grants, and we got a small grant, but these other countries were all engaged with America in the war. They used up their resources during the war and it was only right that America, having the money, should have come to their assistance. We had no such claim. We were neutral during the war, and rightly so, and to take a grant from another country was, I think, an insult to the dignity of this State. Hitherto, we have stood on our own independently and I do not think it was right to have taken a grant. A loan would be on a different footing, because a loan is something which is repaid and which does not offend the dignity of a country. While I say it is very well to get it and to expend it for reproductive development purposes, it should be used as sparingly as possible. In that respect, I think we could have saved a lot by growing more of the wheat we purchased from America and some of the feeding stuffs also.

I was rather surprised when the Minister, in reply to Senator Loughman, said that we were buying less wheat this year than last year from abroad, and I should like the Minister to look into that matter, because it is a rather serious matter. Last year the acreage under wheat was down by 30 per cent., but owing to the very abnormal yield per acre the actual production of wheat was only a little short of the previous year—40,000 tons or so. This year, according to the White Paper which has been issued, the acreage will be up to that of last year and possibly may slightly exceed it, but we must remember that last year was abnormal in the matter of yield, and, even though the acreage might be slightly higher this year, we cannot calculate on getting the same quantity of wheat. How then can it be that we are purchasing less wheat from outside than last year? Is it that we are using up our reserves, or is it that we are letting our reserves go short? The reason I mention it is that either course would be very dangerous in the present situation. Nobody will blame the Government if they are obliged to buy wheat in America at high prices, because if we have not got the wheat it is better to buy it at any price. We were very near famine during the war and there was a time when wheat supplies were very short. The Government should not run the risk again and it would be better if a good stock of wheat were kept in the country, no matter what the cost. If it is produced at home, well and good, but the country should not be short of a good reserve of wheat.

I agree with some of the speakers that the Government should make proper provision for the danger of war. There is an increase in the military establishment to the extent of about £270,000, which is altogether inadequate. I quite agree that we cannot afford to go in for these huge military establishments which they have in other countries, but we must be in a position to put an army in the field if war breaks out, and it would be well if the Government, as I hope they are doing, did some hard thinking on this matter of war. Anybody who reads the papers, or who thinks, sees that every country in the world is preparing for war, and it is very seldom that the combined intelligence services of these countries are wrong. Most of us have lived through two world wars and we remember that the period before each of them was charged with exactly the same tension as to-day. It was only two days ago that we saw that the Swiss Government urged the Swiss people to lay in a two-months' supply of foodstuffs, and even went so far as to offer to provide the money for those who had not got it.

There is without a doubt a danger of war, a war of unprecedented magnitude and a war such as has never been seen in the history of the world, and, except for a miracle, it cannot be avoided. The question is what we here are doing. We should see to our food supply, but we must also see to our armed forces. The Volunteer force stood us in good stead at previous periods in our history and we should not forget that. An army should be maintained, an army which is fully equipped and fully trained as far as possible, and arrangements should be made for the enrolling of a volunteer force at a moment's notice, and for the arming of that force as well. It is quite possible that a time may come when we will have all the men, but no arms and, above all, the Government should visualise that a time may come—we hope it will not, but every sane man must visualise it—when a war may break out at any moment. Western Europe may be overrun and England herself may surrender, and the day might come when a Russian army would land on the shores of Ireland. This country is almost No. 1 on the Communist propaganda list. That day may arrive and what are we to do in that eventuality? We must realise that there will be no question of surrender or compromise; it will be a fight to the death, and every man and every woman in Ireland will have to fight for their lives. For that reason alone, there should be stocks of arms in the country, so that every village and every hillside can be defended to the last. It is a strange thing to think of, but the world is in a strange condition and strange things are happening, and the Government would do well if they faced the possibility of such a crisis.

I think that, in the general development of the country and the moneys allocated for that development, the Government are being rather too tight in the allocations they are making for the development of harbours. The cost of developing harbours in Ireland is generally placed upon the local harbour boards and authorities. I do not think that is right, because the income of those boards is not sufficient to pay interest on the principal of very large loans. The Government would be very well advised to increase grants and to give liberal grants for the development of harbours, especially on the west coast. Undoubtedly, if the country improves, much larger trade may be expected between this country and North and South America, if we are prepared to receive it.

On that question, I might point out that Spain, a very poor country, as we all know, has recently decided to spend the equivalent of £70,000,000 on the development of harbours in the next six years. I do not think that we are spending much more than £500,000 or so, although we have very good harbours, if they were developed.

I hope the Government will reconsider their decision in this matter, and realise that whereas it is very good to spend so many millions on land development, drainage and reclamation, it is equally necessary and good that the harbours of Western Ireland should be opened up, and that the money spent on them would give good return to the country.

Captain Orpen

This debate has covered a very wide field which, probably, is all to the good. We have entered into a discussion on defence, military matters, war, the threat of food scarcity, and other items. Right at the opening of the debate we were told that the danger of war was such that we ought immediately to think in terms of storing food. When one thinks of 1939 and the suddenness with which the emergency came upon us, one sees that it was unfortunate that we had not been able to store up, not food, but fertility in the land. I claim that far and away the best way to diminish the danger of a food shortage, should an emergency recur, is to start that period of emergency with the highest possible fertility in the land that can be achieved. Then you can draw on that fertility as we did in the past. Mere talk about carrying a large volume of grain will not do. You might hold a year's supply, if you wanted to. It might not be a bad idea. I believe the Minister for Agriculture did at one time suggest that, as a stabilising implement, the storage of one year's import of grain might be valuable. Let me emphasise that the real place to ensure a store of food is in the fertility of the land.

In the White Paper that was circulated a few days ago you will observe that in 1949 the total artificial manures utilised was in the nature of 312,000 tons which, if I recollect aright, is some 100,000 tons greater than any other year for which we have statistics. That is a move in the right direction because part of every ton of fertiliser that is put into the land is available for the following year, the exact amount, of course, depending on what has been put in, and so on. Part of it is carried over.

Senator Quirke made a most interesting speech yesterday. He gave one the impression that he was sincere in what he said and believed that what he said was correct. Yet, he maintained that agricultural production in this country was down, was going down and was far less than pre-war. I hope I took him up wrong because, presumably, he can read and has access to the figures that are available to everybody. I made a check on the volume of production and, fortunately, for ease of comparison, the base period taken in that volume of production is the year 1939, as 100, the last pre-war period, and the net volume of production figure for agriculture for 1949 is in or about 100. Admittedly, in 1946, the net volume figure rose to 106, but I draw attention to the fact that when you are talking about net volume of production you are taking into consideration purchases of seeds, fertilisers and feeding stuffs, and it is quite possible that there may be a period when you are buying more of those fertilisers and feeding stuffs than appear in the production figure for the particular year. So, you can quite easily get a movement in the net volume of production figure which is not quite indicative of the way in which the volume of production is really moving. However, that is a minor point.

I cannot understand how Senator Quirke could maintain that the total agricultural output had appreciably fallen since the present Government came into office and was continuing to fall. He seemed to be very disturbed about wheat. It seemed to me that he was more interested in acres of wheat than in tons of wheat. Admittedly, the acreage is down by 30 per cent. on the peak period, but the figure for the intake of wheat at the mills, which, after all, is the wheat that people eat, seems to be almost at its maximum. I think Senator Quirke was only interested in the number of acres attributed to wheat and was not very much interested in how much wheat came off those acres. He would not say whether he believed in compulsion, but he rather hinted that compulsion was better than inducement. If you go into the figures since the inducement went up to 62/6, particularly helped by an exceptional year, I think one can be satisfied that inducement at least can be as effective as compulsion. Remember this, that compulsion leads to waste of acres. When you compel a man to grow a crop which he thinks is unsuited to his land, it will probably not be successful, and therefore there is an over-all waste, a national waste and, incidentally, a personal waste to the man who is compelled to do a thing he thinks will not work.

Senator George O'Brien, in his very interesting speech, suggested that the extent to which the Minister is proposing to borrow for capital purposes might have been greater. Unfortunately, he did not in any way indicate the direction in which he would recommend further expenditure. There is one thing which the Minister might consider doing. I agree that, on the whole, capital expenditure should as far as possible be self-liquidating, that in some way you should be certain that the ultimate dividend is worth the burden placed on the community. The Minister might consider further expenditure on agricultural research. I know a small country with very limited resources cannot devote much to ad hoc research, but seeing that this country is dependent for its well-being on a prosperous and successful agriculture, we should ensure that everything we teach our farmers is backed up by knowledge derived from research here at home. In other words, we cannot take it for certain that experimental work done elsewhere will be applicable here. Further research facilities would ultimately increase our production and it would be legitimate for the Minister for Finance, once dividends had become obvious from this research work, to collect by way of taxation something from the agricultural community to cover the capital expenditure involved. From travelling in this and other countries, I feel that we are getting more and more behind the times. We are still groping in the dark. If additional facilities for research were made available, we might get along more quickly and make fewer mistakes. That might bring a phase that would be suitable for further capital expenditure.

We were treated to-day and yesterday to a very gloomy warning and foreboding about a coming war. While the world situation leaves very much to be desired, I feel we should take all the precautions possible for a small country. At the same time, we should realise that to-day men equipped with rifles are not very much use in a modern army. Without modern equipment they could do very little and the present position is, I understand, that modern equipment is available only to some countries and is denied to others. Without modern equipment an army will get nowhere.

Finally, I want to congratulate the Minister on his Current and Capital Budget. It is a thing he foreshadowed and it is an excellent thing. Incidentally, I think we are fortunate in having this Convention now between the United States and this country, making this reciprocal arrangement. That is a valuable move in the right direction. It is also very sound that the Minister has established a fund to amortise this borrowing. Section 22 should give some measure of confidence to people that proper provision for amortisation is being made. Now, just one word more. There has been a certain amount of criticism, and a certain amount of doubt expressed, as to the wisdom of using part of the Counterpart Fund to finance land rehabilitation. Was it ever suggested that the Counterpart Fund should merely lie as a credit, possibly earning 1 per cent. or something in a bank? Is it not very much better that it should be utilised to earn something more? We are not, as I take it, responsible under Marshall Aid when repayment starts, we are not responsible for payment in dollars. That is the headache of the United States. I think that it has been officially stated in America that the problem of convertibility does not rest with us. We are permitted or the Minister for Finance is permitted to invest the Counterpart Fund, and in his wisdom, he has invested part of that Counterpart Fund in land rehabilitation. Presumably, when the repayment periods come along, he will have to provide the sterling equivalent, but not in dollars. I would like to ask the Minister, when he is replying, whether my rough picture is correct or not, because I heard in this debate people saying that we should not borrow dollars, that we will never find the dollars to repay. The essence of the whole thing was finding the dollars. That is the headache of the United States of America.

Now, Sir, I want to urge on the Minister just one other thing. Senator Summerfield brought it up from one angle, and he suggested that he would like to see the annual motor tax reduced, from one point of view. I am going to put it from another angle. I want the same thing. We are asked, and urged in this country, to mechanise our farms. Part of the consequences of mechanisation is, that each farmer feels he requires to run some sort of old motor car to do his transport work. I think he should be in a position to do so, but the high annual tax on a car is a psychological factor against the man who says: "No, I am not going to invest in an old car to do my driving about. I will carry a horse to do that on the farm. I will have to let the car go". That is all waste of time. He has mechanised his agricultural operations, and he will continue the pre-historic method of doing his transport. I am convinced, from living in a remote rural district, that many farmers find it an enormous advantage to have their small car taking their stuff about, going in and out of town, and so on, and if the Minister collected the same amount of tax by an additional tax on petrol, the psychological deterrent of a high annual tax would be gone. The man in the country who uses a car infrequently is not deterred by the petrol tax. He is far more deterred by the high annual tax. I feel that would be a move in the right direction and would be in step with the trend in some other countries. I think the Minister is to be congratulated on this Budget. He has, more or less, made no substantial change in the incidence of taxation, yet the Government has been able to increase expenditure and increase pay in many directions. Owing to the general buoyancy of trade and productivity of the country, the Minister has been able to collect the money necessary to carry on the State without having to impose any further serious tax.

After listening all yesterday afternoon to the dreadful forebodings envisaged by the "gloomy Gussies" on the opposite benches, it was, indeed, like a breath of fresh air to hear Senator George O'Brien, that distinguished economist, expressing that he, for his part, was inclined to take a line of quiet, but yet of determined optimism concerning the future of this country. Fortunately for this country, the people do not share the gloom and pessimism that sits so unsuitably and, apparently, uncomfortably, upon some members of the opposite front bench. I cannot help feeling that this mantle of forthcoming disaster rests, particularly, uncomfortably upon such incurably genial personalities as Senator Quirke and Senator Hawkins. In view of that, I cannot help wondering and, in fact, one is forced to wonder, whether there is any underlying sinister motive in what appears to be a definite attempt by the Fianna Fáil leaders to stampede the people and the Government into a state of nerves, which would impede all national progress. I think it is highly fortunate that the majority of our people, both in agriculture and in industry, have taken a completely opposite view of the situation, and that they are quite convinced that despite the disturbed and distressing state of world affairs this is a very opportune time for this country to indulge in new enterprises and to do everything within its power to further its prosperity, its agricultural expansion and its industrial expansion. For my part, I occasionally meet a number of people who are engaged in industrial and commercial enterprises, and I must say—and I say it thankfully in view of the speeches made here—that I found that there is an air of optimism among these people and a determination which one has seldom met with in the past, that now is the time to expand existing industries, to start new ones, and to take what might be described as an adventurous view of the future. That is the spirit, I think, that is going to see that this country will go ahead, that our people will become more prosperous and that our national income will be increased.

In reply to the critics on the opposite side of the House who accuse the Government of making no preparations should the world be unfortunate enough to suffer another war, I can only point out that in my opinion the Government is making the very best preparation that any Government of a small country can make: it is doing everything that lies within its power to increase the prosperity of the country and its people. Make no mistake about it; the deciding factor that enabled us to survive so successfully and with such a degree of reasonable comfort the duration of the last war was not the military preparations that were undertaken in this country, but the fact that when that war started, despite the rigours of six years of economic war the country was still fundamentally reasonably prosperous and its people were enjoying a reasonable degree of security. It was the fact that the farming community still retained a measure of prosperity although it was not as great as it might be, and the fact that our industrial community was also beginning to prosper with the expansion that was in progress at the time that really enabled this country and its people to survive in reasonable comfort. To-day even more spectacular development is being undertaken than was ever undertaken before. In the current year £6,250,000 is being set aside for agricultural development; of this over £3,000,000 is being devoted to land rehabilitation and rural water supplies; £1,750,000 is being devoted to local authority drainage schemes, etc.; £652,000 is being spent on arterial drainage; £350,000 is being set aside for grants for the reconstruction and improvement of farm buildings; another £350,000 is available for the improved promotion of poultry and egg production; and within the last few months £100,000 has been issued by the Agricultural Credit Corporation in the form of loans to farmers. That is the picture in the agricultural field. That is the work of the Minister for Agriculture and the Government who have been so blandly accused yesterday of making no effort whatever to improve agricultural conditions.

The industrial picture shows an equally rosy outlook. In 1947, there were 183,000 people employed in insurable employment in industry in this country; in 1948, that figure rose to 194,000 people; the figures for last year show that over 200,000 people are now in insurable industrial employment and there is every indication that that figure is expanding weekly. New industries are being started to-day, industries of a type that we never had in this country before, industries of a type that was, perhaps, never contemplated in this country before, and I maintain that if this programme can be kept up it will not be so very long before it will be possible to link up our industrial potential with our military potential. We must always remember that the position heretofore in this country has been that whatever our military strength might be, be it large or small, we were always dependent on outside sources for arms and other military materials. I now understand that there is at least one industry in this country which is starting, if it has not already started in production, which is of a nature that is capable of producing certain forms of armaments. That in itself ought to give a certain amount of reassurance to those who are convinced that the worst is about to happen. It would be foolish to deny that there is no danger of war; it would be foolish to deny that the forces of war are not at work in Europe, but it would be equally overpessimistic to deny, or to fail to see, that there are also forces of peace at work in Europe, forces of peace which, even in recent months, show great promise. I seriously appeal to our colleagues on the other side of this House not to take such a blatantly pessimistic view of our chances.

In conclusion, I should like to congratulate the Government, through the Minister, on their new venture in the setting up of a committee to advise and to assist industrialists who wish to export their products to dollar area markets. I think that is a step very much in the right direction and one which, I am sure, will pay dividends. Any step to assist in this manner is of great benefit, as it is really only within the last few years that our industrial potential has come to a stage where manufactured articles are being exported in any great quantity.

Statements have been made on this side of the House that there has been a reduction of 400,000 acres under tillage, while statements made on the other side held that agricultural production has increased. It is difficult to understand that situation. We know that the year 1939 was a good year for agriculture. It was the best year in living memory for agriculture, so that it is quite possible both statements are correct. Statements have been made on the opposite benches that on this side we have no policy. What really matters is that it is of some importance if the Government has got a policy. I am interested to know what that agricultural policy is. It is very difficult to follow it.

We heard Senators speaking about the running sore of emigration and at the same time we heard of 400,000 acres less under tillage. We are at the same time importing sugar from Formosa and bad grain from the ends of the earth. If that is the policy and if the acreage under tillage is down, then it is an altogether wrong policy. Some 40 years ago the Bishop of Ross, Most Rev. Dr. Kelly, published a very interesting pamphlet in which he contrasted the returns from grassland and from tillage. Experts in the Department of Agriculture at that time were interested and had the pamphlet printed and distributed. I am sure that copies of it can still be found in the files of the Department. I urge the Minister for Finance to get the Minister for Agriculture to read the pamphlet. It proved that a tillage policy is the better one for this country. I suggest that the pamphlet is worthy of study by the Minister for Agriculture, as it might help him to frame a better policy than the policy that has been adopted.

Some Senators complained about the five per cent. tax on land sales. I urge that that tax should be repealed or reduced. Being definitely a tax on agricultural production, any such tax is a bad one. All experts agree that it is from the land we must expect to get increased production as well as increased exports. I do not object to the 25 per cent. tax imposed on non-nationals who buy land in Ireland. I have no knowledge of 1,400 acres being purchased by any one person, but I do know that some non-nationals bought derelict houses and small portions of land. It might be good business to reduce the tax when non-nationals buy land in small quantities, as otherwise many large houses would remain derelict, local bodies would suffer loss of income, and the same would apply to traders and income-tax. Non-nationals might be permitted to buy houses that might become derelict with a smaller tax than 25 per cent. Otherwise many houses now derelict would collapse.

A very fine business has been built up in connection with the beet factories. Beet-seed that has been exported to foreign countries has given very good results. The development of the mangel-seed industry and the grass-seed industry should receive more attention. The beet-seed industry is flourishing, but my information is that the production of mangel-seed is not going so well. It would be a good idea to get those who made a success of the beet-seed experiment to cooperate in the production of seed for other crops with a possibility of more chances of success.

Senator Burke spoke of the parish priest in his district who complained that his difficulty was to find space for the motor cars, the property of the farmers of the district, which came to his church. I do not know whether the farmers in that area are more prosperous than the farmers in my area, but, if the motor cars at the churches in my area were examined, it would be found that very few of them belong to farmers at all. I am sorry that statement was made here. It was rather unkindly and in bad taste. The farmer, if he is able to afford a motor car, is as much entitled to it as anybody else. I am sorry Senator Burke is not here. I do not want to be unkind to him, but I do not want to let that statement pass without giving my views on it.

He did not object to farmers having motor cars—he said they had them.

You can take that meaning from it if you like.

I do not think there is any other meaning.

The meaning I took out of it was that we had come to a nice state of affairs when a farmer could have a motor car.

He did not mean that.

The Minister for Agriculture some time ago made a statement about reducing the price of milk, and immediately there was a slump in the price of in-calf heifers and dairy cows. From that there has been no recovery since. I think that Ministers should be careful, and I am more concerned with the Minister for Agriculture than I am with the Minister for Finance, although I understand that the Minister for Finance is the boss of the Minister for Agriculture. That statement did untold harm to a branch of the farming industry. Again, I understand that a contract has been made for the supplying of eggs at 2/- or 2/6 a dozen, up to 1st January next, to the people across the water. That leaves poultry keepers and the poultry industry in a very sorry plight indeed. A price of 2/- a dozen for the months of November and December would not be a fair price for "gluggers".

Section 23 of the Bill deals with the transfer to the Exchequer of a sum of £300,000 from the Road Fund. I do not at all subscribe to that section, and I think it a pity that the money is not left in the Road Fund for putting back into the roads. The roads in my part of the country need all the money that can be put into them and the money collected from road tax should go back into the roads. Local authorities are at their wits' end to keep down the mounting rates, rates which appear to be a terrible burden to everybody, and the Minister would do well to reconsider that section and to leave that money in the Road Fund.

While Senator Quirke was out, Senator Orpen referred to Senator Quirke as having talked about compulsory tillage and of his being more in favour of compulsion than of inducement to till. That statement is entirely wrong and I only refer to it merely in the interests of accuracy because Senator Quirke was out at the time. He made no such statement, and, when asked by Senator Baxter if he wanted compulsion, he very definitely and clearly said: "I do not want compulsion." Still, he is quoted by Senator Orpen as having said he favoured compulsion rather than inducement. Senator Orpen also referred to other statements by Senator Quirke and construed them as meaning something they did not mean. Senator Quirke, so far as I remember, made the statement that there was a reduction in tillage of 400,000 acres, and further than that he did not go, but Senator Orpen construed that as meaning something very different. The Senator is not here, but I know it would only be necessary merely to draw his attention to it to have it immediately corrected.

When Senator Crosbie started to speak, I was so impressed by his well-rounded phrases and beautiful metaphors that I imagined myself down in College Green, where I believe there was once a parliament, listening to Henry Grattan or some of his contemporaries. He struck a great note of optimism and charged members on this side with wrapping the mantle of gloom, pessimism and disaster around them. I could not help thinking, at the same time, of the difference between an optimist and a pessimist. I have heard the optimist described as the man who sees his glass as half full while the pessimist sees it half empty. That would appear to be the only difference in the matter.

It was stated by Senator Crosbie that, even in 1938 and 1939, after the economic war, things were fairly good and there was that resiliency in agriculture that enabled it to measure up to the requirements and demands made on it during the war years. I could not help thinking then of all the gloomy pictures painted—pictures more gloomy than any that could be painted by Senator Quirke or Senator Hawkins—during the economic war by Senator Crosbie's contemporaries. I am glad to hear now that note of optimism from Senator Crosbie, that, after all, things were not quite so bad in the bad old days when Fianna Fáil were in power.

Senator Martin O'Dwyer advocated a reduction in the stamp duty on the transfer of farm land from father to son or within a family. I also would advocate that the Minister should consider doing something in that regard because, irrespective of what Government is in power, we hear a great deal about the flight from the land. Perhaps that would be another way of stemming the tide of emigration.

To do what, Senator?

To reduce the stamp duty on the transfer of a farm, particularly a small farm, in congested districts.

From father to son?

I shall not advocate it for areas that are not congested. I leave that to the people who represent those areas. I feel that something should be done in that matter because you will find cases where the last title was in a grandfather or someone who has been dead for a long time. That condition is brought about because of the rather high cost involved in getting up to date title. The registration of land has made it easier, but the cost is still pretty high. There are legal costs also. I do not think the Minister for Finance could instruct lawyers as to what they should do in matters of that kind. That is outside his province, although he is a member of the profession.

There has been a great deal of discussion during the debate on the question of defence. I do not wish to repeat what has already been said. The suggestion that there is a mantle of gloomy pessimism on certain people is not true. Although we all hope for peace, we should make as much preparation as possible for an emergency. I agree with Senator Hawkins that the position in 1939 made it possible to put a certain measure of preparation under way, that there was a breathing space between the declaration of war and the actual tightening up of things, in which provision could be made for food and fuel and training of young men. The nucleus of the organisation was formed during that period. There is no guarantee that in the event of another war such a breathing space will be given. Everything points to the contrary.

Defence comes first under the head of food. A great deal has been said about increased production during the past couple of years when artificial fertilisers were freely available and when foreign feeding stuffs, such as maize meal, could be imported in large quantities. The whole production is based on our ability to import foreign feeding stuffs. If an emergency came, we would be in a worse position than that in which we found ourselves in 1938, 1939 and 1940. We would not have the resilience or the organisation that we had then. In those days there was leadership, control and organisation and a one-Party Government which, leaving out the political issue, gives a measure of stability because there is not the clash of interest that there is in any other system with the possible exception of dictatorship Dictatorship sometimes gave good results, in some countries. In the matter of food, we are not in as good a position to-day because of the fact that production depends on our ability to import animal feeding stuffs.

There is the question of training. I wonder could we go farther in this matter. I wonder how far it would be possible for the Army authorities to arrange that the young men of the Six Counties who are nationally-minded and who are prepared in the event of an emergency to offer their services for the defence of this country, could be brought from Belfast to Dundalk and trained, say, on Sunday, if it could not be done otherwise, or during a holiday period, organised and enrolled in the F.C.A., trained in the use of arms. Men from Enniskillen could be brought to Cavan or Clones and from Derry to Letterkenny. I have often thought that it would be a good thing for the nation that that should be done. It would be good for the men themselves. I am one of those who feel that military training does a lot of good. It creates a measure of discipline. When men are trained in the manly use of arms they have more dignity and self-respect and others have more respect for them. I wonder if there is anything against that suggestion. I do not think there is. I would like an assurance from the Minister that, if that could be done, every possible facility would be offered to the Army authorities for the transportation of men from the Six Counties to areas where they could get such training.

Suggest that to Deputy Cowan.

I am making my own speech.

I am making a suggestion.

I am speaking to the Chair. The Minister always gives fair attention to matters suggested to him and usually tries to give a fairly comprehensive reply. It has been suggested that rifles are useless in a modern war. I am not an Army tactician, but I do say that, despite the fact that we are living in an atomic age, the infantry take the ground and hold the ground and are as important to-day as in the days of gallowglass and kern. That is my opinion. Senator Orpen has suggested that rifles are useless. I do not think so. I do not think the Army authorities think so. I do not think the Minister for Defence would agree with Senator Orpen.

I would like to hear from the Minister what exactly will be the change under Section 17. I must confess that I do not comprehend the section.

Under Section 22 it is proposed to set up a fund to repay annually. I take it that is to repay the sinking fund in connection with the money the Minister proposes to borrow for capital development. I am not competent on that point, and I leave it to those who know a lot about money. My only interest in money is to get enough to keep me going. How does the Minister arrive at a very exact sum in Section 22—£655,432? It is a mystery to me how that sum could be assessed and it would look even more real if a few shillings and pence had to be added. This is to be a charge on the Exchequer, the money to be paid in half-yearly instalments, current for 30 successive years. The Minister, who professes to know more about this than I do, may have good reasons, but it is a mystery to me.

Apparently it is intended to convince the public that agriculture is improving. We learn now that during a plentiful period of egg production the change in price of eggs from 3/- to 2/6 means prosperity in agriculture. I could deal with a long litany of things like that. If you mention them, you are said to be casting a mantle of gloom or pessimism about you. If optimism can make people shut their eyes to the facts, it is not a virtue that should be cultivated.

Speaking as a farmer, I note the suggestion that there is prosperity and contentment in the farming community, and particularly that congested districts can look forward with a measure of hope to a reasonable standard of living if they make a reasonable effort. On the two-price system for vital commodities, I want to add my voice of protest. You cannot have effective rationing in the midst of plenty. There is a reasonable supply of butter, and even with the excuse of saving the Exchequer there is no justification for having two prices for it. The same applies to flour and bread. My experience—and I say this honestly and sincerely—is that during the war years when there was a black market in tea—it was dear in the black market, as the supply was small and the law of supply and demand was the ruling factor there—it was the poor people who bought it. I know people who told me that. I always thought they should know better. They did not know they were doing also an immoral thing, as in a transaction like that you must have a buyer as well as a seller. I do not say the Minister is conducting a black market, but I am drawing the analogy. It is again the poor who will buy those commodities at the dearer price, and I suggest that that is what is happening at present. In any case, no matter who purchases, it is not a good thing. Even though it may cost the Exchequer more money, there should be one price only for vital commodities, and it is the vital commodities that are being double-priced at present. This country protests against the double-price system that England employs against us in regard to coal, as it is a tariff on our industrial production. It is only logical that we should protest against double prices in vital food commodities.

This Bill proposes to take £300,000 from the Road Fund. My county did everything possible to get extra road grants. When the going was good and the grants were pretty liberal, we did not get going as well as other counties, with the result that our roads are not in a good condition. That is agreed by all people in the public life of the county, irrespective of Party. We are all agreed that unless there are increased grants for Leitrim we cannot bring our roads up to the standard of counties with higher taxable capacity. It is vexatious to see £300,000 taken out of that fund. The people who want to get that money made every reasonable representation to the responsible authorities, to Ministers and everyone else, to get a bigger grant to put the roads in proper repair. That particular item in the Bill is annoying me. I know the history of our county in trying to get enough money for this purpose.

I have listened throughout this debate, with interest, to the many speeches made. Personally, I think it is a pity that Party politics should be made out of a matter of this kind. It seems to me that a number of speakers have made that their aim, whether wittingly or not. I may also say that perhaps heat has been introduced at times into the debate, and not by people on one side of the House. I will not delay the House very long. In the few statements I intend to make I propose to substantiate them with facts from my own personal knowledge. Let me say to the Minister that I think the capital expenditure that he intends to spend this year has been, in a great many ways, wisely spent, and is appreciated. We come to milk supplies to creameries. For the month of May, people, including myself, supplying milk to the local creamery in my place received ? a gallon. I can buy a lb. of butter at 2/8. When I compare that, with paying ¼ a lb. for it in former times, and supplying milk at 3¼d. or 3½d., one can realise that it took five gallons or practically five gallons to buy a lb. of butter whereas, at the present day, I can get it for two gallons. Take wool. I have received 4/- a lb., as have other people in my area, during the last couple of weeks. I compare that with 6d. to ? a lb. and 2/-, in years gone by. I compare the price of a dropped calf, of from £8 to £12 a head with, say, £2 and £3, and I gave instances here before that during the economic war they were sold at from 5/- to 7/6 each. Senator O'Callaghan, for whom I have very great respect at all times, because he is generally very careful in the statements he makes, is a bit perturbed about the price of in-calf heifers. He says they have got a set-back. I do not think £39 to £40 for in-calf heifers, paid in Kiltimagh, and in the western fairs, in the last couple of weeks is a bad price. I sold in-calf heifers, and saw them sold during the economic war, at five guineas, and they were returned to me, because they were in-calf three-year-old heifers. The turkey price last year was 1/11 and 2/- a lb. with nothing stopped. I think it is very favourable. As to the price of hen eggs, people are probably disappointed or think that the price is not very good. I would like to correct the statement Senator O'Callaghan made about the 2/-. The arrangement is, that the price of hen eggs will continue at 2/6 a dozen until January 31st, then at 2/- until August 31st, and from August 31st to January 31st at 3/6 a dozen. Probably, if you average the 2/-, and the 3/6, it would not be a very bad figure. It will not be worse than what we are getting at the present time, anyway. I regret that it is not more. I would be very pleased to give all the assistance I possibly can and, I am sure, that we would all be very grateful, if anybody or any Party could devise a means whereby better prices could be obtained. Senator Ó Buachalla spoke about 40,000 or 47,000 less people working on the land. If he means since 1948, it is rather serious, and if it is that serious, I think it is a national problem. I have found figures in the Statistical Abstract for the years 1941 to 1948. During a number of those years, I have personal knowledge of going several times to Lord Edward Street in order to get visas for people down the country, married men who found they could make more money in England, and of putting up a case to release them. In some cases, I must say I was successful in getting permission for them to travel to England. That was at a time when you had a ban on, compared with now, when everybody is free to go. The years I am going to give the figures for, were years when there was a ban on. In 1941, the number of males on the land was 550,601; 1942, 541,181; 1943, 536,381; 1944, 526,147; 1945, 531,980; 1946, 519,634; 1947, 507,568; and 1948, 499,542. That is a reduction of about 56,000.

What is the figure the Senator started with, and what is the year?

1941, and 550,601. Now, I do not want to make, and it is not my intention, to make political capital out of the matter. As I say, if there is a further figure of 40,000 or 47,000 since 1948, I think it is serious, and it is a national problem, and the people should tackle it. It is a pity that there should be any kind of Party politics made about it. Against that, we hear of unemployment. I am quoting the Roscommon Herald of 17th June, 1950, with a big heading, “Sligo County Council cannot get workers for drainage.” At the meeting of the county council on the previous Saturday Mr. Hawe, the county engineer, told the councillors that it was impossible to get workers to carry out drainage work under the local improvement scheme. I do not think all public representatives should say it is that Party's fault or the other Party's fault. If it is a serious problem, it is a national problem, and I suggest that, like land division, it is a matter which should be tackled in a big non-Party spirit and way, and that the broad-minded public representatives, on every side, should come together to devise a national scheme for it. Apart from seeing these reports in the Roscommon Herald, I have the personal experience, as many people in my area have, that for the last few years it has been almost impossible to get workers.

I have no hesitation in saying that men who are willing to work at the present time can get plenty of work throughout the country. That is true of my own district. It is true also of Sligo and Roscommon. I am sure that it applies equally to other parts of the country. Now, there is one aspect of this labour problem to which I would like to draw attention. A standard wage has been fixed in the agricultural industry. I am sure that everybody recognises that we have always had a certain type of worker capable of doing light work but incapable of doing a really full day's work. The smaller type of farmer or the older type of farmer with a grown-up family was always very willing to avail of the services of such people. They were never, of course, paid the full wage. If the farmer had to pay them the full agricultural wage he would not employ them, because he could not afford to employ them. These workers lived with the family as one of the family. When they died they were very often buried by the family and, indeed, in some instances, if there was no grave available for them, they were buried in the family grave. I think it is a pity that legislation should prove detrimental to these people. Some of them may have gone, in their young days, to America or England. Fortune may have treated them badly there and they came back here and went into these farmers' houses, where they were able to assist. They really had a kind of home there. Now there is danger that these will be thrown entirely on the public institutions and on the rates. I think there should be some loophole left so that these might continue to enjoy what I describe as the privileges they enjoyed heretofore. Any farmer now who wants an agricultural labourer wants the best man he can get at the present wage level. The type of people to whom I refer could only do a half-day's work with the best intentions in the world, and the farmer could not be expected to pay them the standard rate. I put that aspect to the Minister for his consideration. These people would be happier working in these farmers' houses than they would be in public institutions entirely dependent upon public charity.

Senator O'Reilly talked about the Road Fund. The roads in County Leitrim are in a very bad state of repair and I think something should be done to rectify the position there. Sligo is somewhat peculiarly situated inasmuch as it has very bad roads.

With regard to defence, I do not think it is right to make a nation too war-minded. If one does that people become unstrung and we have enough of them at the moment. The electors are not foolish and I have no doubt that they will not elect anyone to represent them in Parliament other than pretty sensible men. As a general rule, the people do not make mistakes in that respect. They will only elect those who have the interests of the country at heart. With regard to defence itself, I would like to see something on the lines of what happened in 1918 when Church and State united against conscription. I think something along those lines would be wise and the people would be better informed as a result of its deliberations.

With regard to land reclamation, I have seen the scheme in operation, and I am amazed at the work that is being done around Ballaghaderreen. I believe that the scheme, if it gets half a chance, will be a tremendous success. Money spent on land is always spent to good advantage. I think great credit is due to the Minister for having tackled the problem. I do not think people worry about politics when they see good work being done. It is only fair that the Minister should be given credit for that scheme. I do not agree with the Minister for Agriculture on everything. Like Senator Quirke, I do not think the horse should be entirely wiped out. I know that at the present time there is very little breeding of draft horses. If that continues and we find ourselves in another emergency the position might be very serious. But I think it is well that the Minister for Agriculture should get credit for the things that he has done. I am sure that the farmers of the country are grateful to him for the many things he has done particularly for them. I think that the consumers in this country should also be grateful to him. He is the one man who can take credit for killing the black market and for putting bacon and eggs on the tables of everyone. Last spring there was an effort to build up a black market in potatoes. That touched my own district very much and we had merchants all over the country buying up potatoes with the intention of storing them and selling them later at black market prices, but the Minister for Agriculture got after that and had his own agents to buy up the potatoes and make them available for the people. After one or two markets that black market was killed. Everybody should be grateful to the Minister for that and should give credit where credit is due. Nobody is perfect all the time, but I am sure that, as far as agriculture is concerned, everything that the Minister has done is fully appreciated.

Business suspended at 5.55 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.

Some Senator this evening said that he hoped that I would be able to traverse the whole field of argument that had been covered. That is quite impossible, at least for to-night, because quite an amount of the arguments that have been put forward depend for their acceptance or refutation on statistics, and in the time at my disposal I have not been able to collect the necessary statistical material. There is always, however, the Fifth Stage of the Finance Bill, and I believe I can more satisfactorily deal on that occasion with some of the matters that have been raised which I feel I shall have to leave out to-night. So far as the Opposition is concerned to-night, the old phrase that I applied, that they were "caoiners", applies with much more effect than ever before. A prominent Opposition Deputy in the Dáil, who at one time posed as a poet, has left on record two moving lines:—

"There is weeping in the daytime, There is wailing through the night."

That may be all right for a poet's phrase, but it is hardly the theme song, I suggest, on which to build a successful Party, even though it is an Opposition Party.

Senator Hawkins led the "caoining", but probably he had less material to fall back upon this time than ever before. The Senator appears to have shut his eyes entirely to any movement in this part of the world since 1948. One of his laments was with regard to potatoes, and the special grievance he had was that they were in such short supply that in order to supply some outside country with exports we had to have resort to buying elsewhere. Of course that story has not yet been told in an accurate way. The Minister for Agriculture will put an end to the mischievous statements that have been made in that connection when he replies in the Dáil. Wheat and generally every type of production in the country has also been questioned. Senator Ó Buachalla, when it came to his turn to speak, wondered whether comparisons were made with 1938 and wanted to take into consideration the price level. If Senators who are interested in this matter will turn to the Financial Statement made this year they will find in the particular couple of pages devoted to these matters all this material in considerable detail. They will find a section under the heading of "Production" and another section under the heading of "Trade".

Clearly, where comparisons are made in terms of prices, the prices of this year are related to the prices of 1938, but a better test of this thing is not a table about prices, but a table about volume. The situation with regard to volume of production is that the net volume of agricultural output has now regained the pre-war level. So far as industrial output is concerned, I said in the Financial Statement and it is backed by the statistical material:—

Industrial output continued to expand in 1949. Provisional indices of the volume of production in industries producing transportable goods show increases of 7 per cent. above the volume for the year 1948, and 43 per cent. above that for the year 1938.

I add these two items because these two I have mentioned have a bearing on the degree of prosperity if it is measured by consumer goods on sale and the rate of purchasing in the country. Under the heading of "Trade," I said that the volume of exports recovered to within 10 per cent. of the 1938 level. With regard to imports, I said that there was a slight decline in volume, but that it was still 27 per cent. higher than in 1938. I want those figures put together. In volume agricultural production is now on the pre-war level; industrial production in volume is 43 per cent. higher than pre-war; we are exporting —that has its defects in one way but from the point of view of articles consumed in the country it has another side—in volume 10 per cent. less than in 1938; imports in volume are 27 per cent. more than in 1938. I do not see how anybody can draw any other conclusion from those four sets of statistics than that more goods between production and importation are in the country than at any time since 1938 and that these goods are being bought in the country. If that is so, it surely also means that there is money, purchasing power, in the hands of the community equal to the purchasing power that was in the country in 1938, with some addition because imports are higher and exports are less. If that is pondered on I think it will relieve a lot of the gloom that some people have tried to generate in this discussion. It should be enough to repeat those figures to Senator Hawkins, who said that in the past two years agriculture had gone back. There is not the slightest evidence for that except that the Senator wants to make statements which not alone are not true but which are the opposite of true.

I will come back later to Senator Hawkins's queries about arms and armed strength and also about emigration. I will pass on from them for the moment.

He said that minor employment schemes and farm improvement schemes had all been stopped. If the Senator turns to page 55 he will see that as much money is provided for minor employment schemes as was provided in recent years and for farm improvement schemes £350,000 is provided. The only change this year is that I am borrowing for that as I consider it productive.

The Senator queries what attention is being paid to fisheries and immediately laments that no attention is being paid to fisheries or harbours or also to housing. An amazing amount of money is being spent on housing and if the question in the Senator's mind was the question of costs for housing that is a matter which is being tackled by other Departments; it is not my specialised function. We hope to get an improvement regarding these costs.

Senator Hawkins referred to the Transition Development Fund and remarked that I had said that the Transition Development Fund was definitely being wound up. Of course I said that but it is no good to give half a statement. I said:—

"After this year, as the Dáil has already been informed, all State assistance in respect of local authority housing will be provided through that Vote, and the opportunity will be taken to simplify the basis of subsidisation which at present is unduly complicated."

If anybody can draw from that clear-cut statement the inference which the Senator has drawn, then language has no meaning for me. By that statement I meant to convey to the Seanad that we were going to simplify the system under which grants for housing are made. I do not know how anybody could understand that we were going to reduce the grant nor could anybody draw from that speech the inference that the money provided in the Transition Development Fund would not be provided hereafter in the Vote for Local Government. That change that has to be made will take place and those who are interested in local authority housing will get full notice of the amount at their disposal by way of grants.

Senator Hawkins dealt, as some of the Senators did, with tourist development, and he welcomed what he called the "conversion" of certain people to the value of this industry. I suppose that it is impossible to make a thing clear to those who are not willing to listen to an argument. I believe that if any words I spoke on this matter are referred to it will be found that I did take a very strong line against encouraging tourists to come into this country when supplies were short. I think I always introduced my remarks regarding tourists into the framework of what I thought to be a breach of contract with the civil servants of this country. The civil servants of this country had been put on a system which operated on a cost of living bonus which depended on how the cost of living went up or down. Just before Deputy de Valera became Taoiseach in this State he addressed a meeting of civil servants in, I think, Ennis, and said that at one time he had been rather doubtful about the bonus system, but that he had now become converted to it. He appealed to civil servants to maintain it, and said that it would be their security in times of depression. The time of depression came when the cost of living went up, and the civil servants had the right to expect both from their contract and the phrases that Deputy de Valera had used that the bonus system would be maintained. At that point it was broken, and I queried over and over again with the Deputy in Dáil Éireann the morality of that breach of contract. In every speech we drew attention to it, and often asked why the contract could not be kept with the civil servants in those days. We were told that it meant distributing a half million pounds or three-quarters of a million pounds to civil servants, and that that was going to be inflationary. At that time I always retorted: "Why would £1 in the hands of a civil servant in this country be inflationary while £1 in the hands of a tourist is not," and I certainly never got an answer. In those days when supplies were short it did seem to me a policy that would not aim at the welfare of the inhabitants of the country, to draw a very big number of tourists in here to eat our food and consume the consumption goods that were there in rather limited quantities at the time, and then the tourists disappeared. To bring tourists in now is an entirely different matter. Supplies are no longer short, and in the framework of the picture which I gave of agricultural production at its pre-war level, industrial production up from the pre-war level, less exports and more imports—in those circumstances inflation from tourists' spending is not to be feared. It was distinctly to be feared in the days when I stood against it. Tourists are going to be encouraged to come to this country, and, in particular, tourists from America.

In that connection, I am told by at least a couple of Senators that the tourists who now come in come through England and come with sterling. That is an exaggeration. They do not, and that is nothing like the truth. A certain number of tourists do come in here, having previously arrived in England and having got their moneys changed there, but that does not finish the story. In so far as American tourists book through American travel agencies and these people deal directly with folk here, it is a dollar transaction. In so far as these agencies deal even with agencies here, the tourists coming in may be supplied with sterling, but we have a dollar credit arising out of that.

There is a difficulty with regard to certain tourists—the tourist who comes here even with dollars in his pocket and spends dollars in our hotels and shops. In the end, we should get all those. There may be a leakage here and there because some people who get hold of these dollars may want to take a projected trip to America and decide to save the dollars instead of returning them as they should. It is illegal for them not to return them, but I do not think there is much leakage in that way. There is a possibility of leakage, although I do not think it is very great, in connection with these people who, having exchanged dollars for sterling, either through a British agency or in England itself, come here afterwards not with dollars but with sterling in their pockets.

We have made arrangements—the best arrangement that can be effected, I think—as between the hotel and restaurant keepers and others, by which we will get a return of their estimate of what the expenditure is, which we hope then to measure in dollars. We have a fairly satisfactory arrangement with the British that they will take our estimate of what is really dollar spending and give us a credit for that in the dollar reserve. It may be that there is a leakage here and there, but it is nothing like what is being spoken of. In any event, it is not possible to be completely satisfied, but we are doing the best that can be done. There is no use in suggesting that regulations should be made here to insist that, say, American tourists will finance all their transactions with clearly seen dollars.

The arrangement we have with the sterling area is that we accept transactions and allow these transactions to be carried through in sterling, but we have then the other arrangement and I think it will, in the end, give us the full tot of the dollars really due to the country. As between ourselves and the English authorities, there is not completely strict accounting and, personally—I speak here with not very full information but with some appreciation of what is going on—I would prefer the present system to a system of strict accounting as between ourselves and the English authorities. I think that, in the end, we will gain more by the present system than we might gain by what, on the surface, might appear to be a more rigid and a more accurate system.

Senator Buckley referred to emigration, but that matter I am leaving over to deal with as a separate topic. The Senator referred, as it was to be expected some Fianna Fáil spokesman would refer, to "jumps in taxation" from 1947 to the present. There has been no jump in taxation. There has been a great jump in revenue. I am getting more revenue, but the rate of taxation on the whole has been lowered. I still think, sometimes sadly, of the £6,000,000 remitted to the people of this country by the remission of the beer and tobacco duties, and there is also the 6d. relief in income-tax last year. When I think of the improvements made with regard to old age pensions and widows' pensions, the improved conditions with regard to pay of the Civil Service, the Guards, the Army and, more lately, of all grades of teachers, I have the calculation that £7,000,000 in the way of taxation has been remitted back to the people and £4,000,000 in the way of improvements effected. That did not come from nowhere. It must mean that there was a saving of £11,000,000 on the old taxes in operation since I first got hold of them, and I should like that pondered over before people speak again of jumps in taxation. If they will use the phrase "jump in revenue", I will welcome it.

In that connection, Senator Buckley spoke of the Civil Service and said that the Civil Service is now costing more. It is costing more. I never agreed with this idea that, just because the civil servants were, so to speak, nearest to the hand of government, the hand of government should hit them most heavily, in that they were defenceless. We believe that there was a contract due to them and we have tried to remake the position. We have got a satisfactory settlement with the Civil Service which cost roughly £750,000 a year, but they were certainly due for it.

I have not objected to it.

The Senator has spokesmen in the Dáil who did not hesitate to say that I had given too much to the civil servants. He speaks of the increase in the numbers and I regret the increase in the numbers. I have felt for a long time that the strength of the Civil Service, so far as numbers are concerned, was too great and more than the country could afford. I have got inquiries going to see if any change can be effected to better that position, and, from time to time during the year, I see how these inquiries are progressing. It takes some time to make an improvement in that respect, because humanity intervenes at that point also. Even if it were possible to remove a few thousand civil servants from the register of civil servants to-morrow, I doubt if anybody would approve of that being done. I think the proper way to achieve the desired end is to let the ordinary wastage take place and not to recruit, and, in that way, hope, over a period of years, to get the strength of the Civil Service down to what is tolerable. That, in any event, is the endeavour I am making and I am hoping to get some success. In that connection, however, I should say that, so long as Deputies and Senators demand that the State take over more and more services, so long as that mood is persisted in, and that is the prevailing mood both in the Seanad and Dáil, there is little hope of getting the numerical strength of the Civil Service reduced.

Senator Summerfield opened by telling me that taxation had now reached fantastic heights. If he would leave out the word "now", I would not mind agreeing. It had reached fantastic heights long ago. It has not gone to any higher point since. I hold that I have reduced the burden of taxation, in so far as I have reduced certain rates. I was rather relieved to find that the percentage of the national income being taken this year was no larger than that taken last year. I think it is still too large, and I have always the ideal that it would be far better to leave individuals with more money to rattle in the individual pocket than to have the State collecting it from all these multitudinous pockets and spending it back, with some loss on the transaction.

There is in America a phrase about the dollar that goes up to Washington coming back to the country very much reduced in value. I have the same idea about the £ collected by the State. The £ spent by the individual is better spent than the State would spend it for him. The State has to take over certain activities, but that type of service ought to be restricted to the minimum.

Senator Summerfield also feels that, while we may be complacent about the Budget and about revenue at the moment being buoyant to give us what we require, it may not be so for ever. It may not, but, as far as it is based on extra production, it ought to be more stable and we are aiming at greater production. If we achieve our objective in that, then it will be possible with some complacency to look forward to the buoyancy of the revenue being maintained.

In that connection, I should remind Senator Summerfield, more, possibly, than anybody else, that the figures that have been produced recently have been analysed by the Minister for Agriculture when speaking on his Estimate in the Dáil last week. Industrial tariffs have added more than 14 points to the increased number of points on the cost of living. Agriculture at the particular moment may seem to be responsible for the increase in the figure that is just about to be produced—the exceptional price paid for potatoes, and the fact that the decline in the egg price was not seasonally as great as had been expected make the figure keep at a certain level at the moment—but that is taking one period and taking it out of the general picture. If this is all related back some seven or eight years, the cost of the products of industry are responsible for an increase in the cost of living. The old level of the cost-of-living figure has just been maintained because there has been such a fall in agricultural products and their price as to equalise the increase that has been put upon us by the extra costs attributable to these goods, the products of industry.

With regard to this agitated matter of wear and tear allowances, Senator Summerfield tells this House that I failed to give industrialists a concession that they felt they merited. He says they felt they merited it on a great argument that they put forward to me in a memorandum. When I asked the Senator if he would be good enough to argue that point here, where I think it could be argued, so that the people could judge as between himself and myself, he went off to accuse me of bad manners because I interrupted him. I can answer that argument by saying that the memorandum was nothing to the argument I gave to the industrialists in reply to it. We may leave that at that, but I think it is unsatisfactory. I think the details should be exposed and if, before the Fifth Stage, the Senator will permit someone to brief him on the industrialists' argument, I will be very happy to deal with it. It is completely unsatisfactory to say that some secret memorandum, which he is unable or unwilling to discuss, made a great case. The case ought to be made here. That is what the Senator is here for.

I will quote it. I have it here. I could not get it last night.

The Senator went into a spasm of bad temper at the point. However, Senator Denis Burke later came to the point with a reference to an article in the Sunday Times. That is an article in the Sunday Times of 28th May of this year. May I just take one of the two examples that Mr. Crump, the editor of the Sunday Times, gave and use them to bring home to Senator Summerfield and others just the happy position industrialists are in in this country, leaving, for the moment, this wear and tear allowance out?

The second of the two examples that were brought before the public in the Sunday Times indicated that a British company with profits of £36,200 would, in England, pay in tax £19,600, would distribute in dividends net £6,600 and, if they only did that, could carry to reserve £10,000, the reserve being, possibly, the amount out of which they would finance the replacement of their plant and machinery. If a company in Ireland made £36,200, the tax levied off it would be, not £19,600, but £14,000. Instead of distributing in dividends £6,600, they could pay out in dividends £8,100 and they would carry to reserve, not £10,000, but £14,060.

I want that accepted as a proper picture of the position in which the industrial firm here is in comparison with its competitor in Great Britain. Nineteen thousand pounds in taxation taken off in England on the £36,000; £14,000 levied in taxation here. The reserve, after paying dividends of £6,600, in England, would be £10,000; the reserve, in this country, after paying £8,000 in dividends, would be £14,000. Would Senator Summerfield ask some of his industrialist friends would they rather be in the industrial position with the English company's allowance for wear and tear and obsolescence or in the relatively happy position in which they are here?

The whole of the argument of industrialists with regard to this matter is based upon a couple of misconceptions or misrepresentations and, secondly, is based upon a failure to appreciate the difference between this country and England. There are certain percentages that are permitted here in connection with wear and tear. They are not statutorily fixed in this country. The Acts provide that the allowance shall be such amount as the Commissioners, having jurisdiction in the matter, consider just and reasonable. The provisions have been described to me—and this matter has been put to me many times—as being adequate and flexible for the granting of allowance in respect of the full net cost of plant and machinery. If people are not satisfied with what the Revenue Commissioners do, they have a right of appeal to the Special Commissioner and eventually to the Circuit Court, for a revision of the allowance granted. I do not know what better, more flexible, machinery can be given than that.

I am told that, at the same time, we have not in the end given rates equal to what are given in England. In England, there have been changes made from time to time. There has been a change that I do not think is of very special benefit made in the last couple of years. When making this allowance or improving this allowance in England, stress has been laid by the Chancellor from time to time that it is imperative in England, "a matter of life and death" was the phrase used, for them to increase their exports, and it is to aid the export business that these changes in these allowances have been made in England.

There is also the fact to be taken into consideration in respect of English business, that they were nearly all changed over from ordinary production to war production, and there was a difficult and expensive process of reconversion back to their ordinary production. That did not happen here. There was no great change over from ordinary production to war production. If anything, what happened here was that factories that were in operation here got a better chance to increase their production, and got better prices for their production than they got pre-war. In addition, the excess corporation profits tax that was imposed here was imposed not in the way the corresponding tax was imposed in England. The percentage of the excess corporation profits tax taken here was 75 per cent. The English figure was 89 and when, from time to time, it was pointed out in this country that the amount taken was less than was taken on the other side, the answer always made was that a certain amount of relief from the operation of the excess corporation profits tax was deliberately given to industrialists here to enable them to build up a reserve against the time when they would have to refurbish their machinery or set themselves to some different type of operation. They were asked not to distribute the extra moneys they were allowed to accumulate in those years as dividends, but to use them to pile up a fund against the circumstances that would arise at the end of the war when, although they had not to reconvert from a war operation to peace operation, there would be a certain amount of machinery out of date, and a certain amount of replacement and things that had to be done. They had the special allowances made to them, and they were asked to see that they would go into a fund for that purpose.

There is the further point that excess corporation profits tax was not charged on the profits made in the first six months of the period from September, 1939, to December, 1940. The British excess corporation profits tax went on on 1st April, 1939. Eventually, excess corporation profits tax here was remitted as from 1st January, 1947.

These in themselves would seem to me to put industrialists here relatively in a much better position than the English industrial firms.

There is the further point that the British allowances have always been based on statements by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it is a matter of life and death for them to export. What is the position here? Nobody is aiming at exports. It is impossible to get any manufacturer to bend himself to an export.

I dispute that. I export linen.

I may have over-stressed it. It is not easy to get many manufacturers interested in exports. We recently had the experience in connection with the Chicago Fair that even though the Government had subjected itself to a certain amount of expense it was almost impossible to get manufacturers to display. Their answer, in the main, was that they were not interested. Why should they be interested? The home market is very heavily protected, what with tariffs at such a high rate, quotas, and everything in the way of protective machinery employed to give industrialists in this country the greatest protection that, I think, has ever been given in any country. It is a feather bed so far as the home market is concerned and it has removed any incentive.

It is opportunity they want—not incentive. How can they crash those markets?

Very good. Then let no argument be put to me for Irish industrialists seeking an export market. I have never accepted that as anything in the way of a sound or a seriously meant argument. I wonder how people who tell me, as a member of the Government, that unless they get very heavy protection, either by protective rates or quotas, they cannot meet the competition of English firms selling here can expect, without the benefits which they enjoy here, that they are going to engage successfully in a foreign market against British and other competitors. I have never believed that they were serious. On one occasion when they were given a chance in that direction very few came forward to say that they were anxious to avail of the opportunity. Of course, there are exceptions and we shall aid these exceptions in connection with the new committee for the earning of dollars—because it is to the dollar market that we want to direct our exports more than to any other outside market. I make that statement without knowing the cost of the expenditure of giving people engaged in a successful export business remissions of the type they look for and even greater remissions still. I am giving the Senator some of the arguments which I will use against the case which he will make. It is a forewarning. I hope he will argue the point more fully in regard to the case he has to make. It is only when public opinion is directed at it through a person on one side giving his point of view and a person holding a different point of view making counter claims that people will be able to understand whether the claim is right and should be proceeded with or whether it is not right.

Senator Denis Burke raised a few points of detail, one of which was the question of the dance tax. It is a matter of analysis as to how the tax would operate—whether it would lead to more people dancing, to the benefit of the revenue or the benefit of the proprietors of the dance hall. I cannot attend now to his point in connection with the unearned income of widows. The Senator says that there is not very much in it in the way of a remission of tax and I agree with him. He realises, of course, that these matters are examined during a year and that if action is deemed necessary it may possibly be taken the following year. The Senator did not introduce the figures given in the article in the English Sunday Times of the 28th May, 1950, from which he quoted. I want to use these figures. He did not use it as an argument for better wear and tear allowances. The writer said the remedy lay in two directions—(1) that the country needed a stable price level and (2) that industry, as a whole, was grossly overtaxed.

Senator Fearon mentioned two items of detail. The first is interesting: he says it would require some imagination and I agree with him there. As far as I understood him, he wanted more or less to have accepted as a sort of ordinary item of expense, the expenses a person might have to incur from time to time through undergoing an operation. If it would only mean stopping at that there might not be much in it, but I can see a very undesirable enlargement of that in regard to illness. With regard to the subject of income-tax on houses let me say that I shall deal with that matter on the Fifth Stage.

Apart from the general matters which I am still reserving, Senator O'Dwyer amazed me to-night. He objects to our having taken a grant from the United States of America. I did not notice anybody looking especially pleased or anxious to agree with him on that point. I do not understand his objection when he says it is an insult to our national dignity. Other countries have swallowed similar insults—countries which are stronger than this country on the dollar exchange standard—and they have not thought it in any way derogatory to national dignity to use American money in order to put themselves in a better condition of production than they were before. As far as I am concerned, the more of the American money that comes in by way of grant instead of loan the better pleased I shall be and, I think, every other member of this Seanad will be.

I think that, in the main, the rest of the arguments operated on the four or five big questions which were put from different sides of the House. I shall deal now with the point in regard to war. If I am to accept the opinion of Fianna Fáil Senators, war is imminent. I am asked what is the situation here with regard to strength to repel or to play a proper part in a war. That argument is divided under different headings—the position with regard to men, arms and supplies. With regard to the Army strength itself, I want to say that, short of conscription, we believe we have got into the Army of this country all the people whom we can get into it. It is not right to say that the recruiting drive was a flop. It was not. It got in quite a number of men. It is not right to say that there was no enthusiasm. There was. It was an enthusiasm marked by the expenditure of a considerable amount of money in the way of advertisements, leaflets and anything which we thought would make an appeal. It was quite a relatively heavy burden of expenditure in respect of the recruiting appeal. So far from being unsuccessful, it got a considerable increase in strength. The Army had run out. When people tell me that, with a war in the offing, enough effort has not been put into getting men into the Defence Forces, I turn back to the figures of the Army strength prior to the 1939 war. The 1939 war was certainly heralded many months, in fact years, before it took place. In 1939 the Army in this country had reached a strength of 7,262 men. There was not very much preparation in so far as trying to get people into the Defence Forces is concerned, if I am to look back on those years.

On the question of arms let me say that there is no scarcity of money for arms. I have not cut down the money for warlike stores. I have measured it according to the information I was given as to what supplies of warlike stores we were likely to obtain. It is very hard to get warlike stores. There is quite an amount of stores of different types—different types of ammunition, defensive machinery and so forth. I would point out that, in that connection, there was no bias against us as far as the British are concerned. It is simply that for years back there appeared to be more vulnerable points on the Continent than this country. There were countries that appeared to be more obvious of attack—certainly of more immediate attack—than this country. So far as both Britain and America were concerned, any arms coming out of their arsenals were distributed at a price —and sometimes none—to those countries that seemed to need them more than we did.

In so far as arms or munitions or stores are required, it is not a question of money. I measure the money against what I think can be got and what the country can afford, but at the moment it is what can be got is the test, and there is very little that can be got in the way of munitions. It may be that under this scheme of American aid this country may be afforded an opportunity of getting or buying arms from America, but we have to wait until that day dawns.

With regard to supplies, I think it was Senator O'Reilly who said that there was a breathing space prior to 1939, when the phoney war was on, when this country could get people and arms and supplies. I remember analysing the supplies, even with the war on and supplies not being tightened up to any great degree and the seas being opened. So far as I could make out it amounted to a boast by the then Minister for Supplies that he had got in four to five weeks' supply of four or five commodities. That was at a time when the war was on. It was not a question of waiting for a war to break out. The war was on and the seas were open and supplies were not too scarce.

Despite all the talk about the decreased acreage under cultivation I have been informed that there are more cereals in store and growing in this country at the moment than there ever were in the history of the country before. Between the stuff growing in the fields and what is in the stores that is the position. When we came into office in 1948, if in those days we had decided to go in for a big programme of buying reserves of wheat and other things there was no storage accommodation. We have taken that in hands since and there is more storage accommodation now than there ever was, and there is more projected, and we hope to have a situation fairly soon when, if there are reserves to be got, we will at least have the storage for them, which was not the case some years ago.

I come back to Senator Orpen's point. Surely, the greatest development by way of storage is the fertility of our soil. I cannot understand the Senator's point of view that if a war was two or three years ahead we should start everybody at work preparing for it. That would mean exhausting our fields at that point. Years ago, when I was in a teaching job in Cork, I had as a companion a very old man, a retired officer, who was on pension. He never got up until the sun was high in the heavens and he usually retired early in the evening. One thing he had to do was an engagement to superintend certain examinations in a particular week every half-year. The examination started, as examinations usually do, early in the morning. This examination started at 9 a.m. and ended at 9 p.m. What did this poor man do? He decided a fortnight before to practise getting up early and going to bed late. When the particular examination came on, he had to be carried out asleep at about noon on the first day. I put that as an example concerning what I am asked to do with regard to the cultivation of land in this country.

That is a good after-dinner story.

It is a true story and I can give the Senator the gentleman's name, but he is dead now. I have the feeling that if there was a war, the date of which was specially and clearly announced as being two years ahead, I think I would nearly call people off certain types of cultivation and try to store up what Senator Orpen referred to as the fertility of the soil. It would be, to my mind, a question of packing in whatever you could instead of out-cropping before any war came on us.

We believe that the fertility of the soil has improved and that the land is in a better condition now, compared with its exhausted condition in 1940 and onwards. All the signs indicate that the yield is better now. Senator Orpen is perfectly accurate. Certain other Senators who spoke showed more interest in the acreage under cultivation than in what could be got from the acreage. I understand that the yield we got of wheat in the year 1948 was, with the exception of one year, the highest yield of wheat ever got in this country. I stated in connection with the Budget that, though the acreage had fallen considerably, there was not a very appreciable fall in the yield, in the tonnage of wheat we got.

The situation with regard to beet is still better. The acreage is keeping steady but the yield has largely increased. I am advised by the Minister for Agriculture that, as regards the cereal year 1950-51, he has reasonable hopes that it will not be necessary to buy any United States of America wheat. It will be necessary to buy certain Canadian and hard wheats for other purposes, but in the year 1950-51 it will be possible to do without the purchase of any—if it has to be purchased, it will be only a small quantity—United States of America wheat.

Before I leave war, the alternative before the people is what Senator O'Farrell said. Are we to burden the people with the vast expenditure required to put ourselves in a position, not where we could win a modern war, but where we could last a little longer in it? Would it not be better to build up soil fertility and get productivity increased rather than go in for piling up masses of expensive arms in a way that would be putting all our people out of production and that would be breaking down the whole morale of the people with an enormous weight of taxation?

I have one test in regard to this, but I may be a solitary individual in this matter. I begin to believe the people who talk about war and the apprehensions of war when I see the Americans or the British or the North of Ireland people approaching us to get us into some sort of conjunction with the North in order to try to get both parties into the Atlantic Pact. Until people come to the point of saying: "Much as we dislike a man like Sir Basil Brooke, we would much rather have him than a man like Joseph Stalin"; until you get that type of test and people face up to that test and people say they would rather accept a man like Sir Basil Brooke rather than Joseph Stalin, it is only then I would begin to believe all this talk about war. If the war is so near, then countries such as America and England would quickly realise it, and if this country is a gap in the defence forces, there would be a much greater effort to get that gap closed by a conjunction between the two parties, North and South.

Emigration has been mentioned, joined with the retreat from agriculture. The retreat from agriculture has been going on for years. Senator Meighan gave extremely enlightening figures showing a retreat of some 50,000 between 1941 and 1947 from the land. Senator Meighan said that those were the days when there was a ban on emigration to some extent. It was the time when there was enforced tillage, and yet, under those circumstances, the number of people working on the land went down year by year.

I will refer Senators to what the Minister for Agriculture said in the Dáil on the 15th June, column 1792. He took certain counties, what could be called the tillage counties, and he compared the employment in these counties with employment elsewhere. It seems to me—I may be prejudiced—that the figures quoted for those areas are conclusive proof of this, that tillage does not mean the keeping of people on the land and that tillage does not mean the prevention of emigration. Both a flight from the land and emigration have taken place here at a time when tillage was worked up to an enormous extent under compulsory powers, and yet year by year you have this drift from the land and also the drift from the country itself.

Do not forget that there is a case to be made. The figures do not prove an exact balance, though they are something pretty near it. I think it can be shown that those who have gone into industry have been people who have been taken off the land. You can get a balance to some degree between the people who left the land and the people who have got into industry. From one point of view, it is good that an industrial occupation gives a more remunerative type of living than is to be got from a livelihood on the land. From another angle that is bad if it means depriving the main industry of the country of necessary workers. The amazing thing is that the main industry has been able to get on, although you have 10,000 or 15,000 people going off the land. Naturally, the pull of the big wage in factories will always attract people off the land. In addition, there is more than mere money in it. There is the lack of amenities in the countryside and the general urge to get away from conditions on the land into another type of life, to a better and a more appealing type of life in towns under industrial conditions. It may be that if the pace was not being made so hot with regard to industrial occupations you would have more people gainfully employed on the land.

Farming conditions have improved. The farmer himself is better off. I think that can be asserted now without any doubt, that he is better off now than he has been for many years, and that the people working on the land are better off. There has been a development—it is a pity it was started too late—to get whatever benefits there are from the spread of electricity extended to the country. It is a pity, as I say, that it was started so late. I remember, in connection with the Shannon project itself, that the experts in one of their first reports devoted a small chapter to the possibility of bringing electricity to the farmhouses in the country. Both the experts and Siemens-Schuckert remarked that we were at least from 15 to 20 years behind development in that direction as compared with other countries. From 1932 until a late period an effort was made to get electricity developed in the country. That is being financed in a very expensive way and is going on. So far as that is going to help to maintain people on the land, that help is being given.

Similarly, last year, these minor reliefs were given in the way of remission of taxes on entertainments in the rural areas. I have asked for suggestions. What is not being done that could be done to maintain people on the land? Conditions are better and wages are better, and in other ways things are better. We are giving help to spread amenities to the countryside, and these amenities are going to help whatever development seems possible in that way.

With that question is joined that of emigration. I come back again to a speech that was made by Mr. de Valera when he was Taoiseach. He said, in July, 1947, that:—

"The most important question was that of emigration, but when they had done the best they could the drift from the land to the towns or abroad would continue. There was no other way for it,"

he added.

"There had been that steady trend since the famine, and perhaps it was a tendency they could not stop."

That was said in 1947 by a man who said in 1932 that the two great permitted crimes against this country were: allowing unemployment to prevail and allowing emigration. He said that both could be stopped, and after 15 years, if that was not the end of a policy it certainly was the end of an argument as far as he is concerned, because he said "they had done the best they could" and that "there had been that steady trend since the famine and perhaps it would go on".

Now, the people whose leader spoke in those terms cannot say much in the way of scorn to the people who succeeded him. In the days in which Deputy de Valera spoke in that way, there was not the same amount of work available that there is at the moment. Wages had been pegged, and two months after that speech was made by the then Taoiseach he said that wages were going again to be pegged. We know now that there was a Bill on the stocks for introduction to the Dáil, if the by-election had gone properly, to introduce the stand-still system again. I think that where work was available, it was at the rates of wages at which they had been pegged in those days. That, certainly, was not helping to keep people in the country. There was the draw of higher wages, and a more varied type of work just across the water. If we have not redressed the balance completely, we have at least done this, that we have provided more employment.

Senator Meighan remarked that if there are men willing and able to work at this time, certainly the work is available for all that type of people. That, too, has been the experience of the Turf Board and of the company working under contract for the Electricity Supply Board on the Erne. It has been the experience of other people, too. It is the experience of the county engineer in Sligo. Senator Meighan referred to that. The county engineer in Sligo said, with regard to certain works, that they now had the money. He was referring to a scheme under the Local Authorities (Works) Act. He said: "We have drainage work to be done and the only thing we cannot get is the men to do it." If emigration is still going on in the teeth of work plentifully available, and work at good rates of wages, well, possibly it is a tendency that we cannot stop. At all events we have done something to make life at home more attractive. It is certainly more attractive than it was in 1947 for those who desire to remain here.

The other important matter on which there were some comments was this question of double pricing. In any event, there was one Senator—Senator O'Dwyer—who had the courage to say here that he would prefer to see the rations increased even though the price of the subsidised articles had to be increased. That is a line of argument that one can follow. The line of argument that I cannot follow is that made by people who say that rationing should be taken off and let the community bear the cost. Deputy Childers, who was a Parliamentary Secretary, spoke against subsidies in September, 1947. He said:—

"If heavy subsidies involve heavy taxation—a vicious principle, because it was merely a pretence in the long run...."

In October, 1947, Mr. de Valera, who was then Taoiseach, said:

"The Fianna Fáil Government does not in general favour subsidies; it is only as a very emergency policy that they are adopted at all."

When the first bread subsidy was introduced, the then Minister for Supplies, Deputy Lemass, speaking on the 13th November, 1941, said:

"In announcing the decision of the Government, I made it clear that the sum of approximately £2,000,000 which was being provided this year for the purpose was the utmost that would be provided and, if any additional costs arose these additional costs would have to be reflected in the ordinary way by an increased price of flour and bread."

There was never any intention on the part of the last Government to spend huge sums of money on subsidising these articles. We are in this position that since we became the Government the rations on the whole have been increased. The tea ration has been increased. The butter ration has been increased. I think the ration is adequate.

It has been announced in the Dáil several times with regard to some of these commodities that the full ration is not being taken up. Some people asked me, first of all, to take the ceiling off, so far as the ration is concerned, and keep the subsidised price. That policy, in the end, would lead to near bankruptcy and it is a policy that I, for one, would not be responsible for. I think the ration is adequate. I certainly have heard no complaints seriously made with regard to the inadequacy of the ration. Do not overlook what is being done with these subsidies. The inquiry which we recently had into bread and flour, and the report of which I hope the public will soon have an opportunity of seeing, indicates that the community is being taxed not merely to subsidise the price at which bread is sold in the bakeries and in the bakers' shops but the community is actually paying a subsidy to provide the cost of transport of bread to houses in, say, Ailesbury Road and Merrion Road. The community is paying the costs of distribution and the costs of transport; these are being paid out of subsidy, to say nothing of the cost of these magnificent buildings, which almost rival Store Street, that one sees in different parts of the city. They, in the main, are being built out of subsidy. Once you have too many subsidies there is no way of seeing that they are applied to the purpose for which they were originally meant. So long as the amount of these four or five items is adequate, I think there is no case for derationing. In that set of circumstances then, when one has extra supplies, I think the proper solution is to let the ordinary price machinery work. If there are people who have enough money to pay they will meet the cost of a better type of bread, the luxury type of tea and the extra butter; if they have the money to pay for these commodities, let them buy them. It is out of their purses then will come the extra moneys that will help to lighten the burden of taxation on the smaller people of the community. I think it is a good scheme, and it is one against which I have certainly heard no real argument.

I shall deal now with the last two items. The first is the £300,000 from the Road Fund. This year I am taking £300,000 from the Road Fund. That represents the extra tax imposed on motor cars in the second Budget in 1947. Introducing the Finance (No. 2) Act of 1947 the then Minister for Finance announced that he was putting on this increased taxation on motor vehicles. At that time he said that the fruits of that taxation would not go to the Road Fund but would be diverted to the Exchequer for ordinary Exchequer purposes. In the main, the people who now complain of that are those who accepted it in 1947 and who, if there had been a vote, would have voted for it in 1947. The sum then calculated as the fruits of that extra tax was £300,000 in a full year. There are many more cars registered now than were registered in 1947. On the standard laid down in 1947 I would be entitled to something like £450,000 or £500,000 this year. I am really giving back, although it may not be apparent, something like £150,000 to which the Road Fund is not entitled. Now, this is a matter that will have to be properly argued out: pre-war of the money that was spent on roads the rates subscribed two-thirds and the Road Fund one-third. At present the rates subscribe half and the State subscribe half, even with the £300,000 taken off. If any more money has to be spent on the roads, it is the ratepayer who will have to look for it. The burden should really fall on him if the old balance is to be restored; and, remember, the old balance was a good one.

I think it was Senator Meighan who said that there is a great deal of extravagance in regard to the spending of money on roads. I see it with my own eyes here in Dublin. I have had complaints from Deputies from different counties that the roads were falling to bits. I have had complaints that the main roads were in a shocking condition. I have travelled along the main roads and I certainly think, as a result of my experience, that the main roads are quite good. The restoration programme that was announced about 1945-46 was not merely financed in that year; it was financed to a much heavier extent in 1948-49. The moneys that were intended for the restoration programme were spent on that programme and, to all intents and purposes, that programme has been completed. We are back now to normality.

But not in counties that were engaged in turf production.

They can make their own special case. I am speaking of the country generally. That is the position. The Road Fund at one time subscribed one-third. It is now subscribing more than half. I believe a good deal remains to be done in the way of economy on road expenditure. To my mind Dublin is a scandal in that respect. I came along Baggot Street recently for about nine or ten days. In the centre of one part of Baggot Street from the bridge down to the junction at Fitzwilliam Street there were two long sets of tar containers, along which one man had laboriously gone on a particular day prodding holes in the containers so that ropes could be threaded through them. Subsequently another squad came along and threaded the ropes through them. A sort of island was created in the centre of the roadway. At night-time there were a lot of red lamps and, if one were passing along there, it looked almost like a reflection of the Riviera; there were two watchmen with two of those open fires, even in the very hot weather. After that set-up had been there for about ten days the whole outfit was suddenly cleared away and all that was left behind was one of those road junction signs, "Keep right" or "Keep left," where the road abuts on to Herbert Street. Within 24 hours that sign was removed and the street was restored to the state in which it originally was. Now what all that activity meant I do not know. What I do know is that since I spoke in the Dáil about this some people seem to have been spurred to even greater efforts and they are now in another part of the same street ripping it up. I also think that there was no case for spending £365,000 on the Bray road. A controversy raged over that in the Press and one correspondent finished up by saying that parts of that road were like a deserted bomb site. I travel along that road frequently. I have not yet succeeded in finding any patch that could be described as a deserted bomb site. I think the idea of spending £365,000 on that road at this particular juncture was the height of absurdity. I am afraid that something like that is happening all over the country. I know that the complaints made to me that the roads are rapidly falling into ruin have not been borne out in my experience. I believe that if there was more attention paid by the ratepayers concerned there would be no necessity to call upon the small benefit I am getting by way of this £300,000 from the Road Fund.

Finally, I come to the question of the 5 per cent. tax on property. That tax was imposed by the Fianna Fáil Government. It was put on at a time when houses were scarce and when many people were looking for house property. At the time it was put on I certainly expressed the fear that it would prove to be a hardship upon those seeking to buy houses because the situation then was that those who were seeking houses were at the mercy of the people who owned the houses. The vendor could hold out for any price he liked, and he was holding out. I felt that he would simply add on the 5 per cent. and he would get it from the unfortunate purchaser who was completely at his mercy. It was explained in those circumstances then that it was a revenue tax and it was not intended to cheapen houses. It was not believed it would have that effect but, to a certain extent, it was a picking of the pocket of the vendor and the 5 per cent. would be paid by him to the State and was, therefore, a good thing. At the moment I am keeping that tax on for the simple reason that the situation has now changed. The vendor is no longer in the position in which he was in 1947. I have seen quite a number of houses in different parts of the city with notices indicating that they are for sale; those notices have been there for quite a while. The price of the house, then at the £5,000 mark, has definitely come down to about £2,500. I believe that in those circumstances there is more reason than ever before to expect that that tax when levied will be levied off the owner of the house and not the purchaser. In those circumstances, I cannot see any hardship on the would-be purchaser, as the conditions have so definitely changed. It brings in £600,000. I believe that, in the main, it is the owners who will pay it, and I think that, out of the profits they made during the war, they can certainly afford to pay the 5 per cent. I have no thought of remitting it at this time, when there are so many other claims for remission that are due in any order of priority there may be.

There are many points I have not dealt with, but there is a Fifth Stage on this Bill. I have not dealt with anything Senator George O'Brien said, as it is a matter which is too technical to be dealt with in an extempore way. On the Fifth Stage, I hope to make amends for that.

Senator Orpen put a question to the Minister during the course of the discussion as to whether an arrangement will be come to to pay the American loan in sterling or not.

The arrangement made on foot of the agreement is that we pay back in the currency of the United States of America. There is an escape clause, in the sense of a clause which says that difficulties may have to be attended to. Leaving out escape clauses, there is not much loophole of escape at the moment and the arrangement is to repay in the currency of the United States of America. However, when two representatives of the present Government went to Washington in 1948 to talk about that and when we were insisting that it seemed to be rather inconceivable—certainly, somewhat unlikely—that come 1952 we would have the capacity to repay in dollars, the American answer was: "If we are taking the chance, why cannot you?"

Does the House take it, then, that the Minister will use the fire escape?

I will try to get through an escape clause if the circumstances demonstrate that it is there for my escape. If the objective of the Marshall Aid moneys is achieved and there will be convertibility in those circumstances, the repayments which we can make in sterling will be transferred into dollars. To that extent, Senator Orpen is right in saying that the worry is not ours.

Will the Minister answer about the horse power taxation?

Yes. I met the Motor Traders' Association. They are not interested in the new scheme. They were interested in a reduction in the tax and when I pointed out the reason why the tax was put on, the provision that was being made by way of tax for certain purposes, and said that those certain purposes were there still to be met, they said they were not interested in the new system but interested only in a reduction.

I was there and the Senator was not.

The scheme gave an increased amount.

The attitude of the three members of the Motor Traders' Association, when I told them there was no question of a reduction in the tax, was that they were no longer interested.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage fixed for Wednesday next.
The Seanad adjourned at 8.25 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 28th June, 1950.