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Seanad Éireann debate -
Thursday, 22 Mar 1956

Vol. 45 No. 18

Supplies and Services (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1946 (Continuance) Bill, 1956—Second Stage.

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

The Bill, which is a short one, similar to those introduced for each of the last ten years, proposes that the Supplies and Services (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1946, which is due to expire on 31st March shall be extended for another year.

In introducing a similar Bill last year I referred to the formidable legislative programme to be undertaken before the Supplies and Services Act could be allowed to lapse and indicated that an extension of the Act would be necessary if it was not found possible to complete this programme within the year during which the life of the Act was then extended. Despite very considerable progress the year intervening since the 1955 Act has not been sufficient to permit the introduction of all the necessary legislation.

The Act of 1946 enables the Government and Ministers to make Orders for the control of essential supplies including control of prices, control of imports and exports, reduction or suspension of customs duties and various other matters. As I assured the House last year, and now repeat, it remains my desire and the desire of the Government to dispense with this temporary legislation as soon as possible and to provide by permanent legislation for such powers conferred by the Act of 1946 as it is essential to retain in the public interest.

So far as my own Department is concerned, such alternative legislation has already been enacted for the control of exports by the Control of Exports Act, 1955, and for transport matters by the Transport (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1955. The powers exercised to control the importation and wholesale distribution of tea are provided for in the Tea (Importation and Distribution) Bill, 1955, at present before the Dáil. Matters still remaining to be dealt with are the control of prices, the control of subsidised flour and the suspension or amendment of customs duties. While it has not been possible as yet to introduce Bills covering these controls the progress towards that end has been as rapid as possible.

As regards other Departments, many of the controls formerly exercised under the Supplies and Services Act are now operated under powers conferred by recent enactments. I referred last year to the State Guarantees Act, 1954, and the Exchange Control Act, 1954. In the meantime the Agricultural Produce (Meat) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1954, the Fertilisers, Feeding Stuffs and Mineral Mixtures Act, 1955, the Seed Production Act, 1955, and the Agricultural Produce (Cereals) (Amendment) Act, 1955, provide permanent legislation for various controls for which the Minister for Agriculture is responsible. The Dairy Produce (Price Stabilisation) (Amendment) Bill, 1955, is before the Dáil and two other Bills dealing with the controls which he also proposes to retain over milk and dairies, and pigs and bacon will be introduced at an early date.

The Minister for Social Welfare will shortly sponsor a Bill to continue certain social services (the cheap fuel scheme, cooked meals scheme and public assistance footwear scheme) at present operated under the Supplies and Services Act and the Minister for Local Government has a new Bill under consideration to amend the Road Traffic Act which will provide for the maintenance of such controls at present exercised under the Supplies and Services Act as are considered necessary to retain.

In all, seven Bills have already been enacted, and two further Bills are before the House. Some nine Bills will require to be enacted before the Supplies and Services Act can be permitted to lapse. The matters still remaining to be dealt with require very careful consideration and the controls pertaining to them operated at present under the Supplies and Services Act must be retained until alternative legislation is enacted.

The control of prices, in particular, is a matter to which I have given the most careful consideration. On the outbreak of war in 1939, it became obvious at once that the price control arrangements provided for in the Control of Prices Act, 1937, would be totally inadequate to meet the emergency conditions then prevailing. That Act, which with an amending Act of 1938, represents our only permanent legislation dealing with general price control, was, therefore, immediately superseded by the emergency powers legislation which has constituted the statutory basis for our price control arrangements right up to the present time. Although not repealed, the 1937 Control of Prices Act was left in abeyance and is now moribund. I am satisfied that it would be neither practicable nor desirable to attempt to revive the 1937 Act and that it would be preferable to make an entirely new approach to the problem of permanent price control legislation.

Out of the experience of the operation of the emergency price control arrangements, there has emerged a certain pattern of procedure which could possibly form the basis of permanent legislation. There can be no doubt but that the flexibility of the existing arrangements has proved advantageous in dealing with the wide variety of price problems which have arisen—particularly over the past 12 months. To mention but a few, investigations have been undertaken in relation to the prices of bread, coal, gas, cigarettes, intoxicating liquor, fertilisers, and motor car insurance.

The public has become familiar with the procedure of public inquiry and representative groups are now more ready to appear and support by direct evidence their views in relation to price increase proposals which may be under investigation. Whilst certain criticisms have undoubtedly, and perhaps unjustly, been levelled at the Prices Advisory Body, I think it will be agreed that the body represents for the community generally its best assurance against unscrupulous price exploitation in the difficult situation in which, in common with many other countries, we now find ourselves.

It would be a relatively straightforward matter to devise permanent legislation to provide only for the methods of price control in force to-day, but I am not satisfied that that would represent the most desirable solution to this difficult problem. The existing arrangements were primarily designed to meet the problems arising from emergency conditions and the fact that they are so readily adaptable to the circumstances of to-day merely reflects the near-emergency situation through which we are now passing. It is not so certain, however, that the present arrangements would represent the ideal approach to the problem if we returned—as I hope we soon may—to a more tranquil economic situation in which wide fluctuations in the prices of essential commodities would be very much the exception.

Above all else, it is in my view essential to ensure that the public will have the fullest confidence in the methods adopted to control and stabilise prices. Any disturbance of that confidence could well defeat the whole purpose of price control arrangements. It is for this reason that I feel a considerable reluctance, at this particular point of time, to substitute for the now familiar arrangements, new and untried arrangements. It would be most unfortunate if any new price control arrangements became, at the outset, associated in the public mind with the rising costs inseparable from a general inflationary situation and the harmful economic consequences which would inevitably follow, or become discredited through inability to hold prices stable in circumstances, like those at present prevailing, in which increasing costs stem primarily from external factors which it is beyond the capacity of any authority here to control.

For these reasons, I feel that it would be wholly unjustifiable for me to attempt to introduce permanent comprehensive price control legislation at this stage. I consider this question of timing to be one of some importance. If a suitable economic climate for the introduction of such legislation should not develop before the expiry of the Supplies and Services Act, then I shall have to consider the expedient of introducing a temporary measure designed to maintain the existing price control arrangements in operation until a more appropriate opportunity offers to deal with the problem in a fully comprehensive way.

The House may be assured that the legislative programme necessary before the Supplies and Services Act can be allowed to lapse is proceeding as rapidly as possible. The continuance of the Act is still necessary to retain vital controls pending the completion of the programme and I am, therefore, asking the House to continue the Act in force for a further period to 31st March, 1957.

Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil mórán fáilte agam roimh an mBille seo. Dúirt an tAire gur Bille sealadach é agus nach mian leis aon Bhille seasamhach a thabhairt isteach. Sé an seana-phort céanna é ó bhliain go bliain ná fuil an tAire réidh chun Bille seasamhach iomlán d'achtú ach go ndéanfar é sin san aimsir atá le teacht. Ach ní dhearnadar é sin. Níl fhios agam cé'n fáth. Is cuimhin liom go mbítí ag fáil lochta ar Aire Tionscail agus Tráchtála sa Rialtas eile roimis seo toisc ná raibh sé ag tabhairt fén gceist seo agus an aimsir éigeandála d'fhágaint 'na dhiaidh. Tá súil agam nach é seo an port a seinnfear arís i gceann bliana eile má bhíonn an tAire seo i mbun Roinne Tionscail agus Tráchtála an uair sin.

I do not propose to dwell at any great length on the observations of the Minister for Industry and Commerce this evening in relation to such things as price control and so on, because I realise that many of these things have already been debated on another measure.

I will start off by referring again to the cost of living because, in my view, a discussion on the cost of living is somewhat more appropriate to the measure we have now under discussion than it was to the measure we have just disposed of. Everybody knows, of course, that the views of the Minister and the views of the other members of the Government have completely changed in so far as this question of price control is concerned. At one time I know that they believed, or pretended to believe, that the cost of living could be brought down by Government action. That was, of course, when another Government was in office here.

They tried, the Minister himself included, to create the impression that the high cost of essential commodities here was being deliberately kept up by the then Government and that they could have, by positive action, brought down the cost of those essential commodities that we have heard about here this evening. Now the Minister himself refers to circumstances over which he and the Government have no control. He says that there are certain economic factors at work in the world abroad over which they, the Government, can have no control. I wonder would he even admit now that that was exactly the case when the previous Government was in office and when they were supposed to have a ready remedy for the problem of rising prices.

As I said before, on another occasion, it is extraordinary how people change their views with the changing political situation in this country and the views that are to be put forward by certain politicians when out of office are diametrically opposed to their views when in office. We have now an admission from the Minister for Industry and Commerce, as we have already from the Taoiseach himself, that they have no remedy whatever for the ever increasing cost of living here. They ascribe the whole difficulty now to circumstances over which they have no control—as the Minister himself put it "to external factors".

These external factors were in operation during the years that the previous Government were in office and no member of this Government, not even the Minister himself, ever referred to that matter or ever accepted it as being an explanation as to why the Government of the day was not able to bring down the cost of living as they would, no doubt, have liked to do.

Apropos of this cost-of-living question, there was a short discussion last evening on the matter and certain figures were given to the House by Senator Cogan. He proceeded to point out to the Senators here that the cost of living had risen more during the Coalition period than it had during the period of office of the Government's predecessors. I want to point out to the House that, despite the contradiction that came from the opposite side of the House, these figures were correct. Anybody who will go to the trouble of looking up the Irish Trade Journal will find these figures for himself.

In February, 1948, when the first Coalition Government took office, the cost-of-living index figure was 99 and when they left office in June, 1951, it was 109. The Minister, no doubt, has these figures himself. That was an increase of ten points during that three-year period. This Coalition Government came into office in June, 1954. The cost-of-living index figure then stood at 124 and by mid-November of last year, 1955, it had risen to 131. That was an increase of seven points. Add seven to ten and that makes 17. As to the increase that took place during the Fianna Fáil period of office, they came into office the last time in June, 1951. The cost-of-living index figure then stood at 109 and when they left office in June, 1954, it stood at 124. That was a rise of 15 points. Therefore it is 17 against 15 and I submit that the figures given by Senator Cogan last evening were correct.

The extraordinary thing about it is that they were challenged, not merely by Senator L'Estrange, but by the Minister for Finance himself. These are cold figures and bear examination by anybody here and there can be no doubt about them. Either the figures are right or wrong and if they are wrong the table in the Irish Trade Journal is wrong and that is hardly possible.

As I said, I do not propose now to deal at length with the question of rising prices. I will say, however, as has been said on other occasions, that this second Coalition Government owes its existence to the statements they made to the people in the last general election that they would bring down the cost of living. They held out hopes to the people that that would be done; and they drew comparisons between 1951 and 1954 in relation to the prices of certain commodities in order to emphasise what they would do. The extraordinary thing is that, persisting so emphatically in that attitude during that campaign, they did not lead many more people astray.

The fact of the matter is, as everybody knows, this Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Government to which he belongs have thrown up the sponge as far as bringing down the prices of essential commodities is concerned. Remember, their attitude was that they were going to bring down prices. It was not even a question of maintaining prices at the level at which they happened to be at the time. It now transpires that they find themselves unable to hold prices even at that level and prices of essential commodities are soaring day by day. Every housewife knows that better than I do. She has good reason to know.

As I have said, many of the matters that would arise on this Supplies and Services Bill have already been dealt with on the Central Fund Bill. The extraordinary feature of the debate on the Central Fund Bill was the almost complete by-passing of certain social problems confronting this nation at the moment. We have heard a good deal in the past about such things as unemployment and emigration; they were described as twin social evils. Again, we were given to understand at one period that emigration was such a terrible social evil that it was the primary duty of any Government to tackle it. The former Government was blamed for not stemming the tide of emigration. Everybody knows that to-day the tide of emigration is flowing faster than ever before. We have no exact figures for emigration. The most recent figure I have seen for emigration is 40,000 per annum. In my opinion it is more. There was a time when the figure stood at 20,000 per annum and there were politicians who condemned the Government at that time for not having a plan to deal with that situation.

The problem of emigration now has taken on a different and more serious complexion. From certain parts of the country, notably along the western seaboard, not merely are the boys and girls leaving their homes, but whole families are moving out. It is quite a common thing for a boy or girl to go to Britain and bring their parents over after them. Certain skilled and semiskilled workers are going over as well. There are a good many of our kith and kin working in Britain at the present time, compelled to work there through no fault of their own. Some people think they have good wages, but, by the time the various demands are met, I do not think there is a whole lot left to boast about.

The question poses itself: if, within the foreseeable future, some of these emigrants are forced to come back, what will be the position here? What policy has the Government? What policy do they propose to evolve to deal with that situation? Up to now there has been full employment in Britain; now it appears that the tide is turning and that it is possible in the not too distant future many of those who emigrated to find work in Britain will find themselves out of employment and will be forced to come back home. If even 10 per cent. of our emigrants to Britain come back, where is the work for them? What provision is made for them? Is it that their names will be put once more on the unemployment register? That is one aspect I would put before this House this evening.

I heard Senators talk last evening about capital investment. Senator O'Brien, for instance, suggested that capital investment should be curtailed until such time as the economic position here was rectified.

Does capital investment arise on the Supplies and Services Bill?

It arises in relation to the problem of emigration.

Emigration does not arise under this Bill.

The provision of work does.

The Senator might as well discuss astronomy as discuss capital investment under this.

That is a matter for the Cathaoirleach.

I am making the suggestion that astronomy would be as relevant as emigration is to this Bill.

If the Cathaoirleach decides I am out of order, I will be only to glad to obey his ruling. In any case, I do not want to weary the House too much with these details, except that I would say, in passing, that I am not in agreement with the suggestion that capital investment should be curtailed here, even for the purpose of dealing with the economic difficulties that confront the country to-day. The position in Britain is totally different. In Britain there is over-capital development and full employment. Here in this country there is under-capital development and there is unemployment. Therefore, the problems that confront the two countries are completely dissimilar in character.

There was one thing mentioned in the other House last evening on this measure. I do not want to repeat some of the arguments that were put forward there, but there was one question referred to, and I think it is right to refer to it here, and that is the problem of coal supplies from Britain. In so far as I can judge, this matter is going to be a very difficult one for this country in the years ahead. We have seen reports in the Press that the British will be finding it difficult to supply their own requirements of coal for their own people and for their own purposes. And the question is: what action is this Government taking to meet that contingency—the contingency that there will be a shortage of coal supplies, apart entirely from the cost of that commodity; and the cost of coal, as every Senator knows, is increasing from year to year.

I think it would be right for the Minister and the Government to look into the future with regard to this matter and prepare measures—whatever measures they think are necessary —and have them ready to meet this contingency. If the price of coal delivered here from Britain is going to keep on soaring as it has been in the past few years, the poor people of this country, especially those living in the cities and towns, will find it increasingly difficult to purchase coal. And if they cannot purchase coal, what are they going to get? Is there any attempt being made by the Government to develop further our peat resources here? I will leave it at that.

As I have said I do not want to weary the House too much with this matter except to say that I consider it a matter of the utmost importance. I mentioned it here last year on another occasion and nobody seemed to take the slightest notice of it. This question of coal supplies and the price of coal must also be related to the price of gas here in the City of Dublin and in the other cities and towns, and the question is, if coal is going to keep on rising in price and if the price of gas is going to follow that price, what is going to be the position? I know, of course, that the Minister cannot be expected to work miracles in connection with this matter, no more than he can be expected to work miracles in connection with the cost of living.

I, for one, do not blame the Minister for not being able to bring down the cost of living; but what I would blame him for, and what I would blame anybody for, is the pretence that they put forward that they were able to do these things. I wonder has the Government any plan or have they given any consideration to the possibility of arriving at a long-term agreement with the British with regard to this question of coal? This is a matter of the utmost importance, as I have said. I am not going to refer to it any longer.

As I said in my opening remarks, many of the things I would like to speak of, agricultural production and so on, were dealt with on the Central Fund Bill. In connection with agricultural production, I was surprised to hear a Senator here to-day give it as his view that the farmers of this country were getting too much attention; and that, perhaps, the position in the country would be better if they did not get so much attention. In what way are the farmers of this country getting too much attention? That is what I would like to know. I will leave it at that. We all talk about agricultural production and the desirability of having more and more produced from the land of this country but, as I said before, on another occasion, what is the use of indulging in platitudinous statements about this matter unless we have some positive measures to help the farmers to produce more?

I do not want to delay the House any longer. I would not like to see Senators getting uneasy because I dwell too long on these things.

Or wander too far.

I do not propose to do that. I will conclude by expressing the hope that, maybe, after 12 months the Minister may have made up his mind that the economic position here in this country would be such as to justify the introduction of permanent measures here for price control or whatever controls are now being exercised by the various Ministers of the Government.

We have already had before us to-day the Central Fund Bill, and I think we have all spoken pretty extensively on the policy of the Government generally and, therefore, I would hope that we will not repeat ourselves too much by saying the same things on this Bill as we said on the last one to-day. I, in the course of my own contribution to the debate, referred to the habit that seems to be becoming a national disease nowadays, which I called "blame placing". I would hope that on this Bill here to-night we do not indulge too much in this national pastime. We do realise that it is, perhaps, up to the Opposition to put up a certain amount of criticism of the Government, but I would urge in this case, we should all recognise that we are in a situation where it is most important that, instead of blaming one another, we should get down and see how we are going to produce more goods and services in this country that will put us in a strong financial position.

This Bill deals with the supplies and services of the State and I would hope to hear something constructive on it from Senators. If we are going to talk a lot and if we have very little time, it would be much better to direct our words to constructive suggestions that would improve the supplies and services of this country. I will only say a few words and I hope, at least in a general way, to suggest something that will lead to this desirable end.

Already we seem in this House to be referring, as they did in the other House, to the control of prices and bringing down the cost of living. I suggest there is no good talking about controlling prices and bringing down the cost of living, unless you have the goods to talk about. We are all talking about prices, but I suggest that we should have far more goods before we start talking about prices. For all those reasons, the attacks on Governments about the cost of living and the bringing down of prices are really calls for controls and for the setting up of all sorts of tribunals and inquiries, all of which cost the State money and all of which cause business people and other people engaged in production and producing wealth to waste their time and occupy their minds in dealing with matters which should follow on prosperity rather than precede it.

That is what we are doing. We all know we are not producing enough to export and that we import too many goods. What most of our newspapers and debates are full of all the time are requests to control everything and everyone. I suggest that the time has come when we should think more of freeing people and giving them incentives, rather than restricting them in every possible way. In a debate of this kind and with the Minister for Industry and Commerce present, I suggest that, instead of chastising him for not tightening up on this and on that, we should exhort him to open up the markets of this country, give incentives to people and give them freedom to get on with their work. When we have plenty of goods and our economy is in a sound, economic condition, it will be time enough to talk about prices tribunals.

The Prices Advisory Body was set up in 1948 and kept on by the last Minister for Industry and Commerce. That body is still in existence. There are very few cases in which it has been shown that high prices are due to profiteering, or to any of these practices that are always spoken of and bandied about, and with which business people and those in industry are charged in this country. I suggest that, instead of utilising the debate to make attacks on the Government for not bringing down the cost of living, we should get down to the main purpose of the Bill. The real purpose of the Department of Industry and Commerce is to foster and build up our Irish industrial economy. Any suggestion that could be made to further that object should be made to-night rather than talk about tightening up on every person.

Nobody suggested that.

This Bill deals principally with the matters mentioned by the Tánaiste, but it also allows us an opportunity of dealing with some of the matters, particularly those mentioned by Senator McGuire. We ought to see what we can do to make our money more valuable in this country. I believe that we will have to export primarily the produce of agriculture, and, while we have a special position in the greatest food purchasing market in the world, we will still get what is called the world market price, plus something because we are neighbours.

Senators might have noticed recently that the British Government, when making a bacon agreement with Denmark, mentioned that they would charge an import duty of 10 per cent. From that, we can take it that we will get 10 per cent. benefit in the British market. The same thing is true with regard to live stock and live-stock products. We come under the British umbrella. I am not going to develop that. I merely want to illustrate that we will have to take the market price, although it will be the world market price on the British market. If we can then increase the value of our own money in this country, we will be rather well off.

We will have to try to reduce the cost of national and local government. The money available should be used in large measure to subsidise the cost of essential products and in that way bring down the cost of living. That is one of the reasons we should exercise economy in every Department of the State, so that we will have the money for that purpose. If we can make it possible for our people to live very well on money standards that are better than Britain, because the £ purchases more, we will be doing a good job for agriculture, industry and everybody. Whatever we export, we will get more real value for. We ought to consider that slant to our economy.

We have not to maintain a large standing army, nor have we to engage in international obligations with regard to defence. We ought therefore to be able to use the money for the bolstering up of our economy and increasing the real living standards of our people by subsidising food production. The first thing this Government did was to reduce the price of butter by 5d. per lb. and the only thing I am sorry for is that, owing to the enormously difficult world conditions which arose during the past couple of years, we were not able to do more.

Listening to the debates to-day and yesterday, one would imagine that anything that happened in the world was the creation of the present Government. Sometimes Governments and fathers of families have to adopt measures with regard to balancing the State and family budgets that are not very palatable. The United States of America has by far the most buoyant economy in the whole world. The United States found it necessary in the first year or two of the Eisenhower administration to impose controls. I should like to read just a few lines from The Economist, dated 17th March, 1956. This is in reference to the Roosevelt administration. It says:—

"Throughout their first summer and autumn of office the Republicans kept a sterner economic policy in being than the steady growth of American unemployment might have seemed to warrant; they forsook for a short period the advantages of an increase in production and, in doing so, they sent a shiver down several, people's spines. Yet, even in the American context, and even by those who doubted their wisdom at the time, the policy must be admitted to have been astoundingly successful."

I am not suggesting that these stern measures will be taken here, but sometimes it may be necessary to tighten the rein.

We saw last week that our Minister had to impose some controls with regard to the import of many nonessential products. An appeal was made to-day by Senator L'Estrange— an appeal that was echoed by Senator Hartney and others—to "Buy Irish" the 52 weeks of the year. If we did that, we would remove a great deal of the burden placed on every modern Government—the burden of catering for people who find themselves temporarily out of work. Someone said we have nearly 70,000 on the unemployment register. In an economy of this size, probably half that number would always be changing from one occupation to another. Unless you have the direction and regimentation of labour, it is not possible to have over-all employment. While there is over-all employment in Britain, there is still an unemployment figure. One can go to Birmingham, Manchester or any of the big industrial cities in the Midlands of Britain and see notices outside factories that hundreds of workers are required. Nevertheless, on the returns, there are people unemployed. There must be some percentage of people who will be unemployed, even in an economy where there is what is called at present "full employment".

I want to refer to saving. It is the duty of every person to save. In particular, it is the duty of——

I permitted the Leader of the Opposition to travel a little further than was desirable.

Very well. I am glad the Tánaiste mentioned that, very shortly, a Road Traffic Bill will be introduced in the Dáil. I am glad the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Local Government have seen fit to give this matter high priority. What is happening on our roads to-day is not a credit to us and it is well that that very important matter is being taken care of.

With regard to some of these controls, the Minister said they were exercising a control on pigs and bacon. In view of the recent agreement of the Minister for Agriculture with the bacon curers, in relation to a fixed minimum price for pigs for the next 13 months, and as this is very likely to have the effect of less fluctuation than heretofore, would the Tánaiste controls sider having the retail price control removed? I think he said it was the fluctuation in prices that suggested to him the necessity for control. If this desirable agreement which has taken place removes fluctuation in prices, that will be satisfactory. In the marketing of products which are not in short supply, the prices vary from province to province and from town to town. It is almost impossible to fix a retail price for a commodity such as bacon. It has often been said that, with the various cuts, it is like making a book—that it depends on what is favourite and that, if somebody fixes the price, you cannot balance your book.

There is no fixed price at present for bacon. You can sell it at any price you like under the maximum price.

There is a maximum price, but it has a certain effect. If a maximum price were put on what you might charge on any horse in a racecourse, it might also be hard to balance the book, although the level of prices might be lower under a free system. If there are not the violent fluctuations we had over the past couple of years, I suggest the Minister might consider removing that. The power had to be taken in order to stop the effects of the violent fluctuations.

One of the factors that may be responsible for increases in the price of commodities such as coal is the handling cost. It has been suggested to me that many of the methods of loading and unloading coal at our ports are antiquated and expensive. I was told recently that, at some of our ports, it costs at least 5/- per ton more to unload the coal than it would if proper mechanical apparatus were used.

All the larger ports are mechanised now.

I was informed that, at some ports, they are allowed to use only buckets. If they used cranes, the price of the coal could be reduced by 5/- a ton. If that is so, I should like to have the position remedied. It represents a direct tax on the poor. They have to pay this extra 5/- a ton. Furthermore, as Senator Kissane pointed out, they also have to pay it through the cost of gas and coke and other fuel they purchase.

Many of the items which were dealt with under the Supplies and Services legislation have now been dealt with in permanent legislation. The Tánaiste has informed us that, during the next 12 months or so, he intends to deal with some other items which he is now covering by this present temporary measure. This suggests we are getting back from the aftermath of the last great war and that we shall find ourselves, by the end of the term of office of this Government, in the position that it may not be necessary to have an omnibus measure like the Supplies and Services Bill.

So much ground has been covered on the recent Bill that I do not propose to delay the House any longer. However, we shall all be interested in the statement which the Tánaiste will have an opportunity of making here to-night on this very important measure.

I think we ought to welcome what the Minister has said about his intention, in the not too distant future, to abolish this Bill altogether. He told us something similar last year. I think that he has kept his word, in seeing to it that a number of independent measures have been introduced since last year, going towards the total—which is admittedly a large one—that would make it possible to drop these emergency powers if not next year then the year after.

I think one ought to start by recognising that a great number of these measures have already been put through, and that others are already before the Dáil, and that quite clearly others are in the mind of the Government. Therefore I think we can confidently look forward to the day when the necessity for passing this Bill year after year will cease.

Among the Bills the Minister mentioned, however, as having been brought in for the purpose of eventually abolishing this particular Bill was the Tea Importation and Distribution Bill. I was slightly disturbed to find that this Act in fact is due to expire on the 31st March, 1958, or earlier. I am sure there is some explanation for that, but I do not quite see it as part of the framework of legislation designed to replace permanently this temporary measure before us to-day.

Speaking as an Independent in this House, I may say that I am not really very impressed by the case made by the Opposition in attacking the Government on the question of prices and the cost of living. The reason is that I am not convinced that the Opposition, when they were in power did, or if they again come to power will, behave in a manner very different, in relation to prices and supplies, which are the topics before us this evening. I do not in fact see a very big difference, and I think both contingents are caught in the same nexus, the same mechanism, which is the mechanism of the capitalist state which conditions both production and distribution to a very great extent in this country.

I notice that on the same debate last year Senator Burke, who has just sat down, in volume 44, column 867, said:—

"The dear money policy of the previous Government has been the cause of increases in rents, rates and taxes on every individual, rich and poor, in this country".

He went on to point to the contrast with the present Government which favoured a "cheap money" policy. Well, things have changed apparently. I do not wish to develop that, but I do not see any enormous difference between the two attitudes towards money. The Minister referred to-day specifically, in general terms which I would approve, to the question of price control, and to his reluctance, which I found understandable, to abolish such bodies as the Prices Advisory Body and the Fair Trade Commission, before someone could suggest to him an alternative which would demonstrably be better. He made the point, which I think we ought all to recognise as a valid one, that these bodies are working reasonably well, and that the public is becoming increasingly aware of them and becoming used to their mechanism, and consequently these bodies are increasingly able to serve the purpose for which they were intended—the controlling, to a certain extent at any rate, of prices and conditions of distribution.

The first function of the Prices Advisory Body, as we know, has been to make recommendations as to maximum prices of commodities, recommendations which the Minister usually follows. Those recommendations in no way preclude private enterprise, which is so often spoken of here by some Senators in terms of the loudest praise, from price-competition below that maximum. The only kind of competition that is prevented by implementation of the recommendations of the Prices Advisory Body is competition in raising prices, and I take it that no exponent or praiser of private enterprise wants that kind of competition. Consequently, the mere fixing of maximum prices, or the recommending of maximum prices by the Prices Advisory Body, does not prevent competition in cutting prices, the only kind of competition which is beneficial to the consumer. Below that level of maximum prices, private enterprise can compete to its heart's content and, I think, to the general satisfaction of the consumer. In other words, the first function of the Prices Advisory Body in no way trammels private enterprise——

No, except that for private enterprise it is a case of: "Heads you win, tails we lose."

I would not be prepared to accept that analogy, but in any event I would prefer to continue with my second point in regard to the Prices Advisory Body. Their second function is to see that any price increases asked for, in relation to a particular commodity, are publicly justified. I think that is a most precious thing and represents one of the big differences between the Prices Advisory Body and the older mechanism, which worked more or less well, but which was a Civil Service body conducting its investigations behind closed doors. I regard it as most valuable, and I think the Minister indicated that himself, that when prices for necessary commodities have to be increased, that increase has to be publicly justified.

Senator McGuire has spoken of the terrible waste of time in going to the court and giving evidence and so on. Senator McGuire is a very sincere man, but I think he is also a very innocent man, or he would not believe there is this tremendous waste of time in going to the court for a couple of days and giving evidence about a thing that affects the businessman himself pretty nearly, that is, the necessity of increasing prices. He would have to spend a lot more time, of course, if the necessity for an increased price were not as obvious to everyone else as it was to him.

I am not innocent. I just happen to be practical, whereas you are theoretical.

I am prepared to grant, if he insists, that Senator McGuire may not be as innocent as he appears——

I hope I do not look that innocent.

However that may be, the fact is that I regard it as an excellent thing from the viewpoint of the consumer—I think I am supporting the Minister and the Government in this matter—that when increases in prices have to be brought about, those increases have to be publicly justified. Even when that increase is recommended to the Minister he still retains the right to act or not as he thinks fit.

In relation to the other body, which is concerned partly at least with prices, the Fair Trade Commission, I would view their functions and their work in a similar light. But I think one can praise both Governments here, and recognise that one body was set up by one Government and the other by the other Government, and that perhaps, the alternative Governments might unite here in praise of these two bodies which they set up. The Fair Trade Commission is there to examine restrictions on trade where they exist, restrictions on the distribution of supplies, on the basis—on any basis where restriction in the distribution of supplies exists—and frequently on the basis of "suggested prices". I say "suggested prices", because I know there is great indignation if one talks about "fixed prices". No one "fixes" prices, but a manufacturer can "suggest" prices, and all he does to a retailer or wholesaler who does not fall in with his "suggestion" is simply to withhold supplies. But that must not be called "fixing prices," of course.

But in relation to such "suggested" prices, the function of the Fair Trade Commission has been to examine whatever restrictions may exist. Now should the Fair Trade Commission in any particular industry make recommendations, and should the Minister act upon these recommendations, then the recommendations in every case, by the commission's very terms of reference, will relate purely to the removal of restrictions. I submit that the removal of restrictions cannot in any way prevent competition. It is sometimes said that these bodies are trammelling private enterprise.

Senator McGuire has appealed for the setting free of people in private enterprise. I suggest that quite a lot of people are set free by the removal of restrictions of that kind. These restrictions, as long as they obtain, and until their removal by the implementation of the recommendations of the Fair Trade Commission, act against competition, which used to be said to be "the life of trade". They act against competition. We are told that these official bodies and commissions represent "controls", but the very big difference is this, that these controls over restrictive practices are for the public benefit and not for the benefit merely of private interests.

That is a general statement and it is not true.

Does this arise on the matter now before the House?

I do not intend to say anything more about the Fair Trade Commission. I will have something more to say about it when that Order comes up before the House.

I hope we will all have a chance of speaking after you.

I understand that Senator McGuire has already spoken, and I should be grateful if he would allow me to speak now.

Yes, but I did not know that this type of stuff was going to come out now.

I am sorry if Senator McGuire feels he would like to speak again. No doubt he will have an opportunity to do so when the various Orders come before the House. I would appeal to him to allow me to make my statement, whether he agrees with it or not.

There is a difference between making statements and misstatements.

It is not relevant to this Bill at all.

The removal of restrictions, in my submission, cannot in any sense be called the imposition of controls. With relation to the Prices Advisory Body, the Minister has quite recently made an innovation which I think should be welcomed, and which I hope will provide the pattern in other cases. That is his decision to publish a summary of the findings of the Prices Advisory Body, in relation, I think it was, to their recommendations on the price of bread, and also in relation to one other recommendation. I have felt, and I think many members of the public have felt, that it would be extremely useful if we could see, not merely the results of the recommendations of the body, but something of the considerations they took into account in reaching their decision. I think that the decision of the Minister to publish a summary of the findings is an excellent one, and gives encouragement to the public to take an interest in the prices framework, and in the considerations that go to make up the situation in regard to prices. The more interest the public take in matters of this kind, the better it will be for everybody.

I should here like, nevertheless, to make some of the criticisms which are occasionally, I think, legitimate in relation to the work of the Prices Advisory Body. I quote, for instance, from a report in the Irish Times of 6th December, 1955, during the proceedings of the Prices Advisory Body in relation to the price of bread. According to this report, the chairman of the body said as follows: “Someone will have to try and make out some kind of costings. You can be sure the members of the body would like to have costings, even if it is difficult.” The secretary of the Association of Master Bakers intimated that they would like an opinion as to what type of costings the body would like. He would undertake to supply them.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Might I remind the Senator that this Bill does not provide for a full-scale discussion on the Prices Advisory Body.

I have no intention of making a full-scale discussion, but I would submit in relation to prices control that the operations of the Prices Advisory Body are extremely relevant. It was mentioned by the Minister and it seems to me that I am within my rights in making suggestions as to the things that might be improved.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The provisions of this Bill do not provide for a full-scale discussion in the procedure of the Prices Advisory Body.

The point I am making is that all too often costings are not produced at all before the public at the Prices Advisory Body. After two days' investigation there, it was suggested by the chairman that the body would like to have costings and so on, and the costings given on that particular occasion were made on the basis of the figures of 30 "representative" bakeries out of over 200 members of the association and these show that there was an "average profit" of 6s. 7d. on a sack of flour. In fact, there was no public evidence of any kind as to how that "average" was reached nor how "representative" these bakeries were.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator will have to come back to the terms of this Bill. The Senator should have examined the principal Act before he started his speech. If he continues in that strain, the Senator is being disorderly.

I submit to your ruling, a Leas-Chathaoirligh, but I did understand the Minister to make the point that he had decided to maintain the Prices Advisory Body, and it seems to me that I might be in order in examining its work. I had one or two suggestions to make as to how it might be improved.

I will pass from that, however. There are two general categories of prices: the prices of import goods and the prices of home produced articles. It is fairly clear that, in trying to control the prices of imported goods, we are not in a very strong position. Occasionally, we can exercise some measure of control over the pricing of goods which we buy in bulk, as we have in relation to tea, for instance. In regard, however, to home prices I feel that there is more that could be done.

A good deal has been said here about productivity and the need to produce more, and the effect on prices and so on. It seems to me, in relation to both industrial and agricultural prices, that we have not yet done everything in regard to home prices that we could. In relation to agricultural prices, it appears to me that there has been a rather lazy contention that the only way you can increase production is to increase prices. It is very seldom adverted to that, in the case of milk for instance, too many farmers regard milk not as a first product of the farm, but as a by-product of the cattle trade.

Without going into details on this matter, I would suggest that many small farmers, in fact, are dependent on what is known as the dual purpose cow to keep going, and they can only do so by gaining an increase in the price. As in the case of the price of flour, the tendency is, I fear, to base our prices upon the uneconomic unit. In the case of the flour, it is the least economic mill in the country, and in the case of the production of milk, it is the least economic farmer in the country. Nobody wants to see the small farmer going out of business, but I think many may be being forced out of business by pressure of circumstances, and if they are not to be so, they should enter into some form of co-operative farming.

Do you say collective farms are the answer?

I have said co-operative farms. There was a most respected Senator here, Senator R.M. Burke, who put the case for co-operative farming in Ireland, from 15 years of practical experience of farming in this country, and I do not know whether any Senator ever made the sneer at him that Senator McGuire has made at me. If that form of co-operative farming could be done in East Galway, it surely could be done in other parts of the country.

Surely there is nothing wrong with co-operative farming.

I did not say there was anything wrong with it.

I do not think that Senator McGuire and I are really much at variance on the point. I am sorry if the Senator was perhaps over-sensitive on my calling him "innocent", but that was the only remark I made that could be regarded as anything like a sneer, and I withdrew it at once when he denied the charge.

Now I would like to turn to the question of efficiency in industry. I believe I am right in saying that the Minister has very much at heart the whole question of how efficient our industry is. I should just like to ask him a question. I think he told us some time ago here that the question of the effective efficiency of certain industries benefiting by protective barriers was being examined by an official body. He mentioned some of the details of the findings, and I should like to ask him whether more results have been produced. I noted and I pointed out that, on a previous occasion, he took action in respect of the protective duty, removing it when it was thought that a particular industry had reached a stage of efficiency when it no longer needed protection. I think I am at one with the Minister when I hold that too much protection makes the manufacturer too soft. All too often in this country State interference for the benefit of the consumer is held to be very bad, but State interference for the benefit of the manufacturer is considered to be a very good thing.

I intended to deal with certain attacks that have been made lately on the Prices Advisory Body and the Fair Trade Commission. I will leave that out, because I think it has been deemed to be out of order here. There will be another occasion for that, but I should like to say now in relation to those two bodies that I think our Government has given a lead. I notice in Britain they are now wondering whether they might not be able to tackle the same kind of problems, and I should like to think they are studying what has been done by our Fair Trade Commission and our Prices Advisory Body. The reports presented by those bodies on the working of certain elements in various trades, not all by any means, have enabled the position to be made more clear to the public; and I think the exposure of anything like a restriction imposed on trade for private interest is a good thing, from the public point of view.

There is an obvious relationship between prices and incomes and spending power, the amount of money available and the effect that a lot of money available has upon prices. There has been an attempt to curb spending power in this country. It is quite obvious that, if you have a lot of money running around looking for consumer goods, prices will tend to go up. I should like to quote if I may from the Spectator of 2nd March an article by Mr. Brian Inglis, who says that according to the calculations of an economist whom he quotes, a Mr. Kaldor, “Two-thirds of the propertied classes in Britain finance their personal expenditure from capital appreciation; and of the not necessarily propertied, but well-to-do classes a substantial proportion finance their personal expenditure largely from expense accounts.”

In relation to pricing, I feel that the Government, sooner or later, will have to consider the whole pattern, if you like, of the system of distribution of money, the distribution of this spending power. Earlier to-day the Minister for Finance referred to the necessity for having "efficient production" so that we might all enjoy a better standard of living. But he forgot to mention that as well as efficient production we must have efficient distribution, and for me that means equitable distribution of the benefits of efficient production. I would suggest that what is required, consequently, in relation to the whole framework of control, of quotas, of prices and supplies, is some guiding principle in the harnessing of our available labour force to the available resources in the country, so that the planning principle be applied not merely to "production" but to useful production, production with the main emphasis on necessities and not on luxuries or semi-luxuries.

For this purpose, I would suggest in relation to that problem that a purchase-tax system, even started in a small way, on luxuries, would provide at least a valuable piece of guidance. The Minister for Finance has stated that he does not think it "suitable" to this country. I recognise that it might not be ideal, that it might prove cumbersome and have disadvantages if the retailer was forced to pay the full purchase tax on buying from the wholesaler, but I do believe it could be a most useful instrument in the guiding, establishing and controlling of channels into which our productive effort would be put and where it ought to be strongest. I appeal to the Minister to consider experimenting even in a minor way with such a tax and an examination of its effects upon price structure and the distribution of income and spending power.

In conclusion, then, I would appeal for bolder planning not only of production but of distribution, so that, more and more in Ireland, the community need and the community interest will be the prime considerations, when as a community we decide what shall be produced, and how widely it shall be distributed—which is a factor all too often forgotten. Concern for community need, and not for private greed, should be our guiding principle, increasingly, whenever we turn to the problems of prices and supplies.

I should like at the outset to make a brief reference to a statement made by the Minister here when concluding the debate on the Bill last year. The reference was to myself and I trust the Minister will take it in good humour, because I do not feel very strongly about it. At the same time, I am anxious that the records of the House should be right. The Minister said at column 944 of the Official Debates of 10th March, 1956:—

"I have listened to Senator Cogan speak for many Parties."

For the records of the House, I should like to say I came into the Oireachtas as an Independent. When I was satisfied that one of the two rival political Parties was much better than the other I decided to join that Party. That is the right of any Independent and I exercised that right, certainly with the consent of those who supported me. That reference to me, personally, is slanderous. It is a slanderous statement to suggest that I, as a public representative, have been a member of a number of Parties, whereas in fact I took an independent stand, entered public life as an Independent and, having weighed up the difference between the rival Parties, decided to join the better of the two. The Minister will admit that he, having weighed, possibly, the difference between the two rival Parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, and having many times bitterly attacked Fine Gael in the past, decided to join that Party. So his position does not differ very much from mine, except perhaps that he is a little better paid.

It would be all right if everyone were as consistent as I am.

On a point of explanation, was not Senator Cogan an Independent member, a member of the Farmers' Party, and then a member of Fianna Fáil?

Surely it is not a point of order to ask what society a man belongs to?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator said he was making a point of explanation, not a point of order.

I should like to say that I did endeavour, with a number of members of the present House, to establish a Farmers' Party and Senator L'Estrange has pointed out that he recognised that failure sooner than I did.

Then there was a ratepayers' Party.

There never was.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

We will now come to the Bill.

The Senator tried to organise a ratepayers' Party, surely.

That is untrue. I was a member of the Ratepayers' Association, as many members of this House were.

I can understand that ghosts are not pleasant.

The Minister should not persist. I hope he will accept this in good humour. He should not persist in the attempt to misrepresent me. It is right and proper that a man in public life should be a member of a number of associations. I am a member of a number of associations, such as the Farmers' Association and others of a non-political character, and I do not think there is anything wrong in that. It is not my intention to prolong this debate unduly, but I think the Minister was shocked, and I think the Minister for Finance also was shocked when they learned, apparently for the first time, to-day or yesterday that the cost of living has risen higher during the Coalition period of office than it did during the Fianna Fáil period. Certainly, it appeared to be news to them.

On a point of order, that statement is definitely wrong and has been refuted to-day, and the Senator knows it is wrong. The cost of living went up 23 points under Fianna Fáil in three years and seven points under the inter-Party Government from 1948 to the present time.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Senator L'Estrange can make his speech later on.

The Senator should not make statements that are wrong.

I submit that that is not a point of order, but rather of disorder, and it may arise from the fact that Senator L'Estrange was not in the House when Senator Kissane explained this point very clearly, and pointed out that the cost of living rose ten points during the first period of the Coalition Government, that it had risen a further seven points during the present period of the Coalition Government. Ten and seven are 17 under any system of mathematics, even the Westmeath system of mathematics.

Seventeen points in six years, 15 points in three years.

The entire rise in the cost of living during the Fianna Fáil period of administration was 15 points. That ought to clear the position beyond all question. It is unpleasant perhaps to people who have talked about the high cost of living and who have unjustly blamed Fianna Fáil for the high cost of living to find that they themselves have been greater offenders in that respect. It is true that the failure of the Minister in particular, and of the Government generally, to do anything substantial to protect the people from the pressure of rising prices is causing a good deal of resentment and perhaps a good deal of scepticism amongst our people in regard to politics generally. People are more inclined now to say that they cannot trust promises given at election times, that they mean nothing at all, that they are made mainly, if not entirely, for the purpose of securing office.

The Senator is talking learnedly now.

I am speaking learnedly and I can produce documentary evidence of what I am saying.

Point 15 of the 17-point programme.

I shall deal with point 15 of the 17-point programme. These 17 points may not be the 17 points by which the cost of living has risen under the Coalition Government, but I shall deal with point 15 in due course. The Minister, when he was addressing the people in 1954, repeatedly stated that the one thing above all that he would do was bring down the cost of living. Speaking at Kildare, as reported in the Irish Independent on the 5th May, 1954, he said:—

"If the Labour Party participated in an inter-Party Government it would guarantee to the people that the policy of that Government would be directed towards a reduction in prices."

Again, at Ballymore Eustace he said:—

"If Labour participated in an inter-Party Government its object would be to reduce prices."

He made the same statement at Narraghmore and at Brownstown, Curragh Camp. In other words, by persistent repetition, he was endeavouring, and probably succeeded, in stamping upon the minds of the electorate that, no matter what happened, if he were elected to Dáil Éireann, he would use his power to force down the cost of living. To his credit, he did endeavour to put himself into a position to exercise that power, inasmuch as he took over the office of Minister for Industry and Commerce which gives him at least the authority to deal with issues such as this. Other shadow Ministers who made extravagant promises were wise enough to fade out when the time came to deliver the goods. I am quite sure that the Minister has endeavoured to carry out the promises that he gave, but he has failed absolutely and completely.

Nobody appears to be more conscious of that fact than one of the Minister's lieutenants, Deputy J. Larkin, who said yesterday:—

"The Government is not exercising effective national leadership."

He went on to say that he was critical of them because they had not been able to deal with many problems. It is in that respect that the Government have failed most lamentably, that they have not given this country any kind of effective national leadership. They have just drifted along into the particular kind of crisis, economic and financial, that has arisen. Notwithstanding the fact that some rather drastic measures were adopted, which one would imagine might have an effect on the cost of living, the cost of living has risen seven points since they resumed office.

The reduction in the price of wheat, one would imagine, would have had the effect of bringing down the price of bread. It must have reaped from the farming community a sum of close on £2,000,000. Certainly that £2,000,000, if it had been passed on to the consumer, would have had some effect on the cost of living, but somewhere along the way that £2,000,000 appears to have been lost; it certainly never reached the consumer.

Senator Burke, I think, suggests that unpopular measures are required and that stern measures should be taken. If somebody on this side of the House, or somebody on the Opposition side in the Dáil, were to suggest such a thing, we know the outcry there would be. If any member of Fianna Fáil, when they were in office, had made that suggestion, I know it would have been received with howls of derision. Now, however, when it comes from the Coalition, it is apparently accepted as being something that should be taken by our people in a good spirit. While I do not agree with the solutions to our national problems offered by Deputy Larkin, I believe there is a good deal in what he says about the failure of this Government to give an effective lead to the nation and I think the most effective lead that is needed at present is to create a feeling of confidence among all those who are engaged in production.

There is altogether too much criticism of the producer. It does not matter in what line he is engaged, the man who creates or produces anything is apparently marked down as the first object for attack, and I do not think that is conducive to making our country more productive and thereby raising the general standard of living. I could not agree with the line taken by Senator Sheehy Skeffington. All along in his speech, there was the suggestion of restrictions and controls of every possible kind and no question of any fair incentive being offered to the producer. If we were to take a census of the number of people engaged in productive work at present, it would be found they are only a minority of the total community, and that the great majority are endeavouring in some way or other to reap some benefit from the efforts of those who are trying to produce.

One has only to consider what it costs, for example, to produce one bacon pig and how very small is the amount of profit when the price of the food he consumes is reckoned by the time that animal is fit for the market, even if he does succeed in passing the examination for grade A classification. Could we not now have a suggestion or a proposal from the Minister to change that? He, himself, was at one time very critical of Irish manufacturers; I think he is not quite so critical now and Irish producers, whether they be in factory or farm, are doing most important national work and it would be wrong for anyone who has not the clearest and most definite figures and facts before him to brand as a profiteer any man who is doing productive work. If by the figures it can, in fact, be proved that there is profiteering, then by all means let that man be criticised, but it is utterly wrong for anybody to condemn or even criticise a farmer or manufacturer without that clear-cut definite evidence.

I think the Minister, since he has a certain measure of control over matters of this kind relating to investigations, should do something within the Government to urge that this investigation of the cost of milk should be completed at an early date. In that connection, I think the Minister and the Government have failed lamentably. They took a certain stand on providing a temporary subsidy for tea, possibly in the hope that the world market would decline. The net result of their interference in the matter is that tea to-day is costing at least 3d. a lb. more than it would cost if they had not interfered at all.

I do not know whether restriction or control of profits and prices affects such things as the rise in the rate of interest in the banks. It might be possible for the Prices Advisory Body to inquire into the working of the banks and see whether they are making a profit or a loss—as some people suggest—by raising the bank rate of interest.

Another matter which has come rather prominently before the public within the last few months is the price of meat and its relationship to the price of cattle. It is admitted that cattle prices have fallen by anything from £10 to £20 per head. Some members of the Government made themselves ridiculous by suggesting that the fall was due to the Irish Press. The suggestion, apparently, was that the British buyers who come over to the Dublin markets study the Irish Press before bidding for cattle here. I think that is too fantastic to be accepted by anybody. However, the price of cattle came down very substantially during the past two months and, as far as I know, there has not been any attempt to pass on that reduction to the consumer. I think, as far as anyone can judge by the prices charged for meat, these are as high as when the higher prices were ruling for cattle. I am not pressing very much on this matter but I will say, if there is a pretence of control or regulation of prices and profits or profiteering, I think it should apply to a matter as vital as this.

I am strongly convinced, however, that the better way to bring down the cost of living and to bring down prices of food and other essentials is to give real encouragement to those who are engaged in production. I was rather shocked to read that one member of the Minister's Party yesterday suggested that a policy of coaxing the farmer should be abandoned and that, instead, penalties should be inflicted on farmers who, in the opinion of the politicians, are not producing the maximum. That seems to me to be a line of action which would tend to lead or drive this country in the direction of collective farming.

I think that the suggestion also of a tax upon land, made last year also by a member of the Minister's Party, is still under active consideration by the Government. I should like to ask the Minister whether it is or not. If anything is to be done which could be of an effective nature to bring down the cost of living it should be with regard to the encouragement of production. If subsidies are to be provided, they should be paid at the source and not at the other end of the line. In other words, it would be perhaps the most effective way to reduce the price of food, if some measure were adopted for the subsidisation of fertilisers, or other measures of that kind, which would reduce the farmers' cost of production and enable him to produce and sell his goods more cheaply. That is the line we would like to see the Government adopting in regard to the cost of living, rather than the unlimited and endless type of regulation or restriction contemplated in this Bill and spoken of earlier by Senator Kissane.

There is one other point with which I should like to deal, because Senator L'Estrange hinted it might be raised later. It is in regard to point 15 of the policy outlined by the Fianna Fáil Government in 1951. The Fianna Fáil Government never undertook at any time to maintain food subsidies at the level at which they found them, or at the level at which they first introduced them, because they were the Government who initiated the food subsidies. They did promise to maintain, not the existing food subsidies, but food subsidies. They did that in a very substantial measure, because, when they were going out of office, the amount voted for food subsidies was in the region of £7,000,000, a very substantial contribution to the reduction in the cost of living and a very substantial percentage of our total revenue.

It is, of course, acknowledged that a very substantial portion of the money saved by the reduction of food subsidies was devoted to improving the social services, particularly to the improvement of children's allowances. That, I think, was the most progressive piece of social legislation enacted in this country. Anything that tends to ease the burden of those who have large families is desirable and it is desirable that the benefits of the taxation of the better off sections should be enjoyed by the people in the lower income groups who have large families. That was a noteworthy line of action and one which has not been modified to any great extent since the present Government took over. Notwithstanding that, the cost of living has risen very sharply in the past two years.

Mr. Douglas

I should like to express to the Minister for Industry and Commerce a welcome back from the United States. This is the first time since his visit there that he has appeared in this House. I should like to say that, like me, many other Irish industrialists viewed his visit somewhat sceptically but we did wish him well and hoped that his visit would have the desired results. I know from practical experience that there is a demand in the United States for Irish goods and at least one of the industries with which I am connected is not just able to meet the orders from the United States. I only wish it was possible to do so.

It does show that the Minister's visit was well worth while, in that there is a market abroad to be obtained for Irish industrial production, if we are prepared to get down to the question of costs and if we can produce goods of a quality acceptable outside the country. I feel quite certain we are able to produce goods of a sufficiently high quality to attract outside buyers. In fact, I feel sure we could produce better goods than could be found elsewhere in the world. We must, first of all, be prepared to produce these goods and, secondly, to produce them at a cost that will compete on world markets.

I think it was expressed by the Minister for Finance earlier this evening that Irish industrialists were worried about the efforts of the Minister for Industry and Commerce to bring foreign capital into this country. I think the Minister for Finance to a certain extent misjudged industrialists here. We would welcome new capital for Irish industry, and, if we are to compete successfully in world markets, we need a certain amount of increased capital.

Some of the things that did worry us were reports of some of the Tánaiste's speeches in the United States. I feel quite certain many of them were abbreviated and distorted reports of what the Minister said while on the visit. One of the things that did perturb us was a statement attributed to him that there was no control of profits in Irish industry. I am satisfied the Minister said no such thing and I would hope that he will deny that he did just as emphatically as I did. What I believe he did say was that there was no control of profits on foreign exports. That distinction is very important.

Our industrialists, in so far as the home markets are concerned, enjoy protection and so they must have control over the profits they may make. Any of us in industry or labour would not disagree with that. As far as exports are concerned, they should have a perfectly free hand, and, if it is possible to make increased profits, there should be no control on the goods actually going out to world markets.

Deputy Burke, I think, referred to imports of coal to this country and referred to the additional costs of coal due to old-fashioned methods of handling it. Deputy Hickey said that as far as he knew our ports had the most modern mechanical equipment for the loading of coal. If Deputy Hickey visited the Dún Laoghaire coal harbour, he would get a reverse opinion because coal is handled there by the most old-fashioned methods. You will see the colliers being unloaded by buckets and a man standing on a platform tilting the buckets on to the lorries with a lot of effort. I have quite a lot of experience of ports around the country and I do know the methods of unloading coal are uneconomic.

One of the policies of the present Government and of the previous Government has been an effort to reopen the shipping trade in our smaller ports around the coast, and, while I agree entirely with that, I should like to say that I think it has met also with the approval of the people in the smaller seaports. This brings me to one point which has worried me considerably. Most of the raw materials for Irish industry come from countries abroad and there would be many advantages were these materials brought directly to the smaller ports rather than to Dublin, Cork or other big ports and transported then by road.

We are attempting to provide industries for the less developed areas and particularly for the areas of the West. I was very perturbed last year when, in June, I received a letter from the commander of one of the ships which bring supplies around our coasts and in which he submitted to me a list of navigation charts which had been withdrawn by the British Admiralty and which he said were essential for the navigation of the west coast of Ireland. Navigation around our coasts, and particularly round the west coast, is extremely difficult, and the withdrawal of these charts imposes considerable handicaps on any ship's captain travelling north or south along the west coast of Ireland.

Being aware of that difficulty, I asked Deputy Maurice Dockrell to put down a question to the Minister with regard to the withdrawal of these charts and in Volume 152 of Dáil Debates he asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce:—

"...whether he is aware that during the past 12 months a number of charts essential for navigating on the Irish coast have been withdrawn by the British Admiralty and, if so, if he will take steps to have them made available by the Stationery Office."

The Minister replied:—

"I am aware that the charts in question have been withdrawn. I am advised, however, that in each case the areas concerned are adequately covered by alternative charts which are available."

On hearing the Minister's reply, I felt that he had been wrongly advised and I went back and wrote to the Minister a letter in which I said:—

"Having heard your reply this afternoon to the question by Maurice Dockrell with regard to the charts withdrawn by the British Admiralty in which I think you said that alternative charts were available for the areas covered by the withdrawn sheets, I would like to draw your attention to the following charts which have been withdrawn and which are not, I believe, replaceable by any existing charts."

The first one I referred to was a chart of the west coast of Ireland which was most profitable to ship masters navigating our coasts. There is no need for me to give the whole list of charts. Small ships bringing supplies into our west coast ports are considerably handicapped by the fact that the charts were withdrawn by the British Admiralty and that there was no alternative available, as far as I could find out. Nearly all the charts withdrawn referred to the west coast of Ireland. The charts for Bantry Bay and Bere Head were both withdrawn. The chart for Bantry Bay is essential for the navigation of that harbour which is one of our biggest natural harbours and which is often used by transatlantic liners.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I think the Senator is pursuing that question too deeply. He is entitled to refer to these matters, but not to go into them in detail.

I think we are getting into deep waters.

Mr. Douglas

We will not be able to develop our industries unless some effort is made to get these charts.

The charts are there and, if you tell me what charts cannot be got, I will get after them for you.

Mr. Douglas

On 12th July, 1955, I wrote to the Minister and I have not yet got a reply.

The letter certainly did not come to me personally.

Mr. Douglas

On 22nd September I wrote again and on 23rd September I received an acknowledgment saying that a further letter would follow in due course. To this day, I have not got the reply.

The Senator might have brought that fact to my notice long since and I would have found out who was responsible. If I had received the letter personally, it would, in accordance with my general practice, have been dealt with expeditiously.

Mr. Douglas

I apologise to the Minister, if I did not pursue the matter properly, but I will send to him a copy of the correspondence. I would now like to deal with some cultural matters.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Cultural matters do not arise on this Bill for Supplies and Services.

Mr. Douglas

As far as the Supplies and Services Bill is concerned, I did not avail of the opportunity of reading the 1946 Act.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

If the Senator wishes to refer to certain imports and exports, he is entitled to do so on this Bill, but the question of cultural relations and cultural methods do not arise on this Bill.

Perhaps industrial designs do come into it.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Hardly on this Bill.

Mr. Douglas

I wish to refer to certain books which were to be published by a Government Department and are not available for export. Numbers of people in other countries who desire to obtain these books are unable to do so, because of the inability of the Department concerned to have these books printed.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Supplies and services, essential to the life of the community generally, fix the scope of this Bill.

Mr. Douglas

Then, I doubt if music, painting and literature are essential to the life of the country, so I bow to your ruling, Sir.

I do not wish to delay the House by adding any further arguments on this Bill to what I have already said during the debate on the Central Fund Bill. In supporting the passage of the Supplies and Services Bill, I do feel that I ought to make the comment that the proposals contained in the Bill are designed to meet our present problems. I wish to add my voice to the approval voiced by the country generally within the past few days of the action of the Minister for Industry and Commerce and I feel justified in complimenting him on the rapidity with which he acted, on receipt of certain reports of profiteering. The Minister and the Government could feel assured of the support of the House on any such action it would be found necessary to take in dealing with any further reports of profiteering of that kind. The Minister deserves the support of all sides of this House.

It is the policy of Fianna Fáil to repeat lies ad nauseam and, if one does not contradict those lies continuously, they are eventually accepted as truth. To-night, we have once more seen crocodile tears shed about the cost of living and Fianna Fáil has now made the very interesting discovery that the cost of living has risen to a greater extent under the inter-Party Government than it did under the Fianna Fáil Government. Of course, for purposes of comparison, they very conveniently took a Fianna Fáil term of office of three years and compared that with an inter-Party term of office of five years already, and I hope many more after that. Senator Kissane might have had regard, when he was dealing with these figures, to averages. I notice that, for the three years of Fianna Fáil Government, the cost of living, according to Senator Kissane's own figures, increased by 15 points, which represents an increase of 5 points per annum. For the five years of inter-Party Government so far, the increase has been 17 points, which is an average of 3½ points per annum.

I could have taken several years before that to my advantage.

The Senator could have taken several years before that, but I suggest that, if he had taken the years between 1939 and 1948, his batting average of five per annum would have been considerably exceeded.

I am taking the Senator's own figures. We had yesterday and to-day the same outcry about the cost of living as we had on this measure last year. Fortunately, on this occasion, at any rate, Senator Cogan did not attempt to deny the relativity of the cost of living, even though he did not acknowledge it. Last year, he tried to tell us that the workers in general had not got compensation for the increased cost of living under the inter-Party Government. I think we disproved that conclusively on that occasion. We pointed to the different approach of the two Governments to the cost of living.

I know Fianna Fáil are sensitive where the cost of living is concerned because they can claim the credit of deliberately increasing the cost of living by budgetary action, whereas this Government has never done so. This Government can rightly claim to have made every effort to keep the cost of living as low as possible and, where it has increased, workers have not been prevented from getting compensation to offset that increase. We have not had any standstill on wages under this Government. We have no threat now, as we had some three years previously from a Fianna Fáil Government, of a wages standstill. Neither will we have any such threat, by all accounts.

I am sorry Senator Cogan has left, because I would like, for his edification, to compare the data given us by Senator Kissane in relation to the cost of living with the agricultural price index for the same period. Senator Kissane pointed to the increase of ten points in the cost of living between February, 1948, and May, 1951. Judging by the agricultural price index, the farming community in general during that period got ample compensation. They got increased prices, because the index of agricultural prices in that period rose from 248 to 298, an increase of 50 points. In the following three years of Fianna Fáil Government, as Senator Kissane pointed out, the cost of living increased by 15 points, but he carefully refrained from drawing attention to the fact that over half that increase was deliberate policy on the part of the Fianna Fáil Government and the agricultural price index in that period rose by only 13 points, from 298 to 311. Current experience is that since June, 1954, the agricultural price index has gone up by another 30 points and the cost of living in the same period has gone up by only seven points. I think that eventually we shall all, and the sooner the better, realise that the cost of living is relative. It is foolish to talk about the cost of living, without having regard to incomes at the same time.

Mention was made by Fianna Fáil speakers of emigration, unemployment and capital investment. I was rather sorry those speakers did not clarify their Party's attitude to foreign investment.

Does that arise on this Bill?

If it does not arise, I shall leave the point. I did think they might have given us some information as to their attitude. They did not do so, however, and I will leave the matter there. I can understand that they are a bit hesitant about it and possibly reluctant to make their viewpoint known, so we will let them off this time.

There is one other aspect in regard to the cost of living. In the past 18 months, we have seen a deliberate campaign by the organ of Fianna Fáil to highlight the cost of living on every available opportunity and to suggest to wage earners and trade unionists alike that the cost of living was going rapidly out of control, putting it to them that efforts should be made to increase their rates of pay. Now, I think Fianna Fáil might leave it to the trade unionists to do their own business. I noticed reports in the Fianna Fáil organ during the past 12 months of meetings of trade unions and the reports were to the effect that the meetings had decided to lodge a particular claim. Some of us trade unionists have been puzzled to know what meetings were referred to, or whether the report was just something that existed in the imagination of Fianna Fáil. It did seem to many of us that the Fianna Fáil Party were deliberately trying to stampede trade unionists into taking certain action.

I suggest to the Fianna Fáil Party, with all respect, that trade unionists are well able to look after their own affairs and this unrealistic approach by the organ of Fianna Fáil to the cost of living will not help anybody. Even if Fianna Fáil are in opposition, they are still part of this nation, and it would be regrettable if, in their disappointment at finding themselves out of office, they should behave mischievously to the danger of the economy of the nation. I do not think they really mean to do that. I do not believe it is deliberate on their part.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator will now come back to the Bill.

I was referring to the cost of living and pointing out that the cost of living is relative. I think I have shown, to the satisfaction of Senator Kissane, that the rate of progress in regard to increasing the cost of living was better under Fianna Fáil than it has been under the inter-Party Government. I have also shown, I hope, to Senator Kissane's satisfaction, that the farming community, whom he has very much at heart, has enjoyed more ample compensation in relation to increased prices under the inter-Party Government than it did under the Fianna Fáil Government, the Party the Senator supports.

I am grateful to the Seanad for the way in which it has dealt with this Bill and for the expeditious consideration it has given to it. There have not been many matters raised which call for any deep or widespread reply, although some points have been raised which ought to be cleared up, from the point of view of providing the necessary elucidation for the Senators interested in these matters.

Senator Kissane painted on a rather wide canvas this evening. He dealt with a number of matters, some of them under general heads, and I will deal with these general heads later. At this stage, I will deal with the rather particular problems which he raised as far as coal is concerned, for example. In respect of coal, we were able to get during the current year a greater allocation of coal from the British Coal Board than was provided for originally. In addition to that, the British Coal Board were able to give us an increased allocation of anthracite coal; and I must say that, during the past 12 months in particular, the British Coal Board have co-operated, as far as supplies are concerned, in a spirit of goodwill and with the desire to help in every possible way.

We have, as the Senator knows, an agreement with the British Government, known as the Anglo-Irish Trade Agreement, which was negotiated by the last inter-Party Government—a very valuable trade agreement as far as the farming community are concerned and also as far as the industrial community are concerned. Under that agreement, the British have undertaken to make available to us not less than 1,570,000 tons of coal each year and to do their best to meet any demand in excess of that tonnage. They have supplied not only the quantity stipulated in the agreement, but have provided the excess demand of our additional requirements.

There is the problem of coal prices, and everybody knows that the British themselves have been in difficulties in respect of coal, having, in fact, to import coal from America and pay a much higher price for it than the price of the coal which they mine at home. That has impacted adversely upon us and the whole question of the prices now charged for coal by Britain is the subject of negotiations between the Irish Coal Importers' Association and the British National Coal Board. These discussions are proceeding and it would be unwise at this stage to make any reference to what is likely to emerge from the discussions.

Senator Sheehy Skeffington raised the question of the new Tea Bill, and wonders why its duration was fixed at two years. The reason is that the purpose of this Bill is to continue the present pattern of tea importation, namely, to restrict the importation to Tea Importers Limited. But it is hoped that, before the two years expire, it will be possible to introduce a permanent Bill dealing with tea purchases. The new Bill—the Bill ultimately to be introduced—may not follow the present pattern, and therefore, it is desired to allow the present pattern to continue, until such time as such care has been given to the proposed new Bill as will enable us to evolve a Bill which will be part of our permanent tea importation legislation. That is the only purpose of the Bill now before the Dáil, namely, to stereotype the present position, until such time as we get a really good Bill which will fit the pattern of our future tea purchases.

As far as the review of tariffs is concerned, I indicated last year, and in 1954 as well, that I had asked the Industrial Development Authority to review the application and the operation of tariffs in all the tariffed industries. That review has been proceeding and reports made by the Industrial Development Authority, which involve alterations in the tariffs, have been published from time to time. The Industrial Development Authority have not been able to devote as much time to it as I originally intended they should, due to the fact that they have had to spend a very considerable amount of time in endeavouring to enlist the co-operation and interest of foreign industrialists to come here to Ireland to manufacture goods which are not at present produced here. Because this work of tariff review is high-grade work and has to be dealt with largely by the same people as are engaged in seeking foreign technical investment in this country, it has not been possible for them physically to overtake the expanded task in discharging these two substantial functions at the same time. However, the Industrial Development Authority does continue to undertake these tariff reviews and some of the reviews are at present proceeding.

Senator Douglas raised the question of a speech I was reported to have made in the United States. I have seen some appalling emasculations of speeches which I made there. I have seen, in fact, a speech which I made there, an actual copy of which was handed to the Press representatives present, a second copy of which was delivered from here to the Irish News Agency and a third copy of which was supplied here to the news agency by the Government Information Bureau. Three of these copies were correct, one as delivered, two as supplied. The two correct copies as supplied were in the Irish News Agency. The third one was one which represented a speech I made at Washington, and a copy of it as delivered was handed to an American journalist whose function it was to communicate it to a news agency, to the Irish News Agency here. And, because he misread the speech, he gave the whole thing a completely opposite slant to the slant which it had when I delivered it. Although there were two correct copies in the news agency and one incorrect copy, I was so unlucky as to draw the incorrect copy, which was published as representing my speech, whereas the two correct copies correctly reported me, but, unfortunately, it was the incorrect copy that was set.

I did not say, of course, that there was no control of profits here. What I did say, in endeavouring to sell the advantages of Ireland to American industrialists to manufacture here goods which we do not produce ourselves, was that, if they established industries in Ireland to supply markets outside—markets which they now supply from the United States—they could feel assured that the Irish Government did not desire to control any profits they made on an export market, and that is one of the advantages for any industrialists starting here. That applies not only to American industrialists, but we have extended it to Irish industrialists as well.

I come now, Sir, before I finish, to Senator Cogan. The Senator appeared to have a long memory this evening and quoted what I said on this Estimate last year. He charged me with saying that he had spoken on behalf of many Parties. I have a recollection that Senator Cogan himself pleaded he was an Independent. He subsequently endeavoured to organise the Farmers' Party. It failed. We know he tried to establish a Ratepayers' Party. Then he felt rather chilly in his isolated position as an Independent and he decided that he would join one of the two major Parties in the State, and he selected the Fianna Fáil Party as the one which should get his allegiance and, I suppose, what he promised, his abiding loyalty.

The Senator quoted some speech which I made, or he said I made, during the last election and it would not, therefore, be inapposite if I quoted something from one speech which the Senator made. When the Senator joined the Fianna Fáil Party, it was quite clear that no references were asked for as to his past performances. That is borne out by the fact that, speaking in the Dáil at column 29 of the Dáil Debates, Volume 110 of 18th February, 1948, Deputy Cogan, as he then was, said:—

"When this chapter of Irish history comes to be written it will carry as its title ‘The Downfall of de Valera' because responsible historians of the future will attribute the main cause of that downfall to the desire of the outgoing Taoiseach to concentrate all power in his own hands and to his refusal to share with other Parties the task of building up this country. We all know that no democratic nation depends for its existence or its future upon the whims of any one man. Outside that group that the Taoiseach has formed around himself we know there are men in this country who love freedom and justice."

Then he went on and I quote him again. This is Deputy, now Senator, Cogan, talking:—

"Just as King Herod sought to destroy an Infant rival so Eamon de Valera sought to destroy a new Party in the field. He failed to destroy that Party completely but he has succeeded in destroying his own. When I tried to instil into the mind of that senile delinquent, the Minister for Local Government, some sense of responsibility and when I reminded him of the danger of a midwinter election which would inflict a grave injustice on a large section of the rural population by depriving them of their right to vote, I was told by that gentleman that I was suffering from cold feet. He will have plenty of time now to cool his own feet and I suppose that to-day he bitterly regrets that he did not try to cool the feet of his chief when that gentleman started pawing the ground looking for fight."

And Senator Cogan, then Deputy Cogan, goes on:—

"But, during his political career, the Taoiseach has eaten enough of his own words to choke an elephant and it would not do him any harm if he were to eat his words again and agree to come into a Government under the leadership of Deputy John Costello."

And all this is underlined by this final declaration of Senator Cogan: "I have taken a stand consistently in this House since 1939".

I think it was Emerson who said that consistency was the hobgoblin of little minds, and, on the basis of that speech, contrasted against the background of the speech which the Senator made here this evening, I think Senator Kissane will concede that Senator Cogan cannot be accused of having a small mind. Certainly he has shown a most expansive mind. Having made that speech he now fondly embraces the Deputy whom he described as a "senile delinquent" a few years ago. Indeed the Deputy has a power of mastication at least as good as that which he attributed to Deputy de Valera some years ago.

There must have been a very touching reconciliation in the Fianna Fáil Party when Deputy Cogan, having called Deputy MacEntee a "senile deliquent," went in and said: "Now we are all together." A little modesty on the part of Senator Cogan would not be out of place when he comes to discuss matters of that kind.

Then the Senator accused some member supporting the Government of wanting to impose penalties on the farmer. I do not know of any person who wants to impose penalties on the farmers. The whole country has shown clearly that it desires—and the Government also desires—to help the farmers in every possible way. The only person I know who wanted to punish the farmers as viciously as he could was a Dáil colleague of Senator Cogan, Dr. Noel Browne, who, in the Dáil, declared that the farmers did not, in fact, own the land; that they were there as trustees, and, if they did not till the land in the way he wanted them to do it, then the land should be taken from them and given to others to till. That is the only voice ever raised in this country on the side of punishing the Irish farmers. It was left to Dr. Noel Browne, an ill-starred colleague of Senator Cogan, to make that threat against the Irish farmers.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

It is usual, when quotations are made of speeches by members of the other House, that the reference be given. I expect the Minister will provide the reference.

Certainly. It was, in fact, provided in the Dáil last evening by Deputy Michael O'Higgins. I will supply the reference. I now want to come to the main burden of the criticism from the Fianna Fáil Party but, before doing so, let me deal with one other point in regard to Senator Cogan. Senator Cogan thought that bread prices ought to have been reduced. We have held bread prices steady. They are still steady, notwithstanding the fact that Senator Cogan's Leader in the Dáil prophesied about six weeks ago in Kerry that bread prices would be increased the following week. They were not. In any case, if there is any one Party that ought not talk about bread prices, it is the Fianna Fáil Party, because, on the files in the Department of Industry and Commerce, there is a report of an interview which took place between the then Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Lemass, and a certain miller-baker in this country. The interview took place on 18th December, 1952.

This is part of the interview and Deputy Lemass, Minister for Industry and Commerce, is the person who is speaking: "I took advantage of Mr. ——'s visit to ask his opinion on bread prices. He said that we blundered in July last when adjusting flour prices after the Budget changes by giving the bakers too large a profit margin." In the case of his own firm, the miller-baker said that the profit margin on batch bread was inordinate. This is the view of a miller-baker of the way the Fianna Fáil Government treated miller-bakers and bakers generally after the Budget of 1952. The miller-baker says: "The profits of my firm are inordinate."

The last paragraph in this memorandum made by Deputy Lemass, Minister for Industry and Commerce, states that he, the miller-baker, said his firm and other bakers in his view could all stand a lower profit. Here is a miller-baker confessing that all the miller-bakers and all the bakers could stand a lower profit.

It is clear Senator Cogan did not know about this when making references to bread prices this evening. Is it not inconsistent, if not hypocritical, that the Party which provoked from a baker the charge that his profits were too high, thanks to the way he was treated by Fianna Fáil, should now pretend it has an interest in reducing the price of bread to the bread consumers of the country? There is the document. It can be read in full by anybody who wants to read it. If there is any responsible demand, I will table it.

It is true that prices have gone up since we came into office. Nobody denies that. We do not deny it. When we came into office, the first figure we saw during our period of office was an index figure of 126. The figure was 124 in mid-May: we were not in office then. The first figure we saw was 126 points. That was the mid-August figure—the first figure published after we went into office. We were not in office when the previous figure was taken. In any case, I do not mind that difference at all. The figure had risen to 131 in mid-November. That represents an increase of five points, or, if you like, an increase of seven points over that period. When we left office in May, 1951, the cost-of-living index figure was 109 points. By mid-May, 1954, when Fianna Fáil were still in office, it had gone up to 124 points—an increase of 15 points during that period.

The Korean War broke out during our period of office. The whole world was endeavouring to stockpile: remember the experiences of the Second World War. Naturally, that impacted on prices, particularly of commodities we had to import. It must be quite clear to any reasonable mind that a small country such as Ireland, with a buying population of 3,000,000 persons, including children and invalids, could never hope, by its buying capacity or its organised buying strength, to be able to keep world prices at a level to suit the Irish economy.

Prices have gone up with us, but not nearly as much as prices went up under Fianna Fáil. The difference between us and Fianna Fáil is that, in 1952, the Fianna Fáil Party need not have increased prices. They deliberately slashed the food subsidies, as the Central Bank advised them to do the year before, in order to make commodities dearer and, as a result, they increased the price of tea, bread, butter, sugar, flour and the prices of a whole variety of other commodities such as tobacco, cigarettes and beer were also increased. But the main increase in these cases took place because the Fianna Fáil Party deliberately slashed the food subsidies and need not have done that.

You promised to restore them.

Wait a second. Let me come to that. On promises, you have a reputation quite unique in that field. One of the points in the 17-point Fianna Fáil declaration of 1951 was that Fianna Fáil would control prices and maintain the food subsidies. That was said in 1951. Twelve months after that, the Fianna Fáil Party—the very Party which promised the people it would control prices and maintain the food subsidies—slashed the food subsidies in a very vicious way. As a result, the cost of living catapulted high. They failed to control prices; they failed to maintain the food subsidies. By deliberately pushing these prices—because they could have controlled them—they debased the standard of living of every person who depends on wages, on a salary or on a fixed income which he is not able to adjust. That was the deliberate policy of the Fianna Fáil Government in 1952. After the 1952 Budget, the conditions of the people deteriorated substantially.

We did not deal with the problem of a rise in the cost of living in that way. We have not been responsible in a single instance for pushing the prices higher than they were 20 months ago. We have done our best against world circumstances to control the cost of commodities, but there have been circumstances outside our control. Coal is an item which is used in most manufacturing industries. An increase in freight rates, an increase in the cost of metal goods of all kinds, impacted on our economy. Trade unionists have wanted to get back some of the standard of living which was filched from them by Fianna Fáil under the 1952 Budget. Where they got that back in the form of increased wages, that also impacted in some measure on the cost of manufacturing commodities. But we did not deal with the problem in the way Fianna Fáil did. If prices had to rise, we said the way to meet that problem was to adjust incomes so as to give the people compensatory purchasing power. That is what has happened over the past 18 months.

The position to-day is—and Senator Kissane can confirm this by reference to the Central Statistics Office—that the real value, and not the money value, of wages and salaries is higher than the purchasing power of these wages and salaries in 1954, because the money increase and the buying power of that money has increased to a greater extent than has the cost-of-living index figure in the meantime. We have permitted the free play of all collective bargaining between employers, on the one hand, and trade union organisations, on the other. That is as it should be in a democracy. I know there are people in the Fianna Fáil Party who have a Napoleonic mind in this matter and feel that they can think out for the community better solutions than the community can think of for themselves and that, even if the community could think for themselves, they should not be allowed to do it. The attitude is that the superior minds in the Fianna Fáil Party can think better for them——


Senator Kissane will remember October, 1947. In that month, we had two speeches in the Dáil. Deputy Lemass said the Government regarded as essential the control of wages. They regarded it as essential to prevent wages from rising. He said that if the trade unions would not consent to a voluntary control of freezing of wages, then the Government would introduce legislation to do so. In order to give him authority for that statement, Deputy de Valera, the then Taoiseach, came in and said the Government regarded it as essential to impose a limitation on the increase in wages.

Where did he say that?

I think he said it on 10th October, 1947, in the Dáil. I quoted it last night in the Dáil and I could not draw a murmur of protest from the Fianna Fáil Benches, because it is true. In any case, I do not need to rely on that. Deputy Lemass did not make idle threats. He went back to the Department of Industry and Commerce, having made that speech, and, with his own hand, wrote a two-page memorandum directing the Department to produce for him at once a wage freezing Bill. He indicated what should be done in the Bill—all in his own handwriting. Having signed what he wrote, he put in this postscript: "The penalties should be severe for transgressions." The Bill was subsequently produced. There is a copy of it in the Department of Industry and Commerce. I shall be happy to give the Senator a copy of it, if he wishes to inspect it. In that Bill, the fines for transgressions were fines of £500 for each offence. What was the offence? The chief point was that an employer could not give a worker an increase in his wages over and above the level fixed by the Bill. What level did the Bill fix? It set out a schedule of the increases which could be given without transgressing the terms of the Bill. What was in the schedule? It provided that if you had £5 a week in 1939, you could only get an increase of 50 per cent. on that. The cost of living increased by 84 per cent. between 1939 and 1947.

I put this to Senator Kissane as a fair-minded man. Does he think it is fair to treat Irish workers in this way? Heaven knows, they were not millionaires on an income of £5 a week in 1939 but, if the cost of living rose by 84 per cent. between 1939 and 1947, is it not blatant dishonesty to say to them that you will prevent their employer from giving them anything more than 50 per cent. over and above that? Even if the employer wanted to give them 60 per cent., in compensation for a rise of 84 per cent., it was an offence. If he gave it to one man, he could be fined £500 for doing it. I do not know whether Senator Kissane has been made aware by the Party managers that this was the Machiavellian treatment which his Party had in store for Irish workers. It is the truth. It cannot be gainsaid. This has been quoted on a couple of occasions and not a single member of the Fianna Fáil Party has been brave enough to say that it is not true. He cannot. There is a special file in the Department of Industry and Commerce dealing with this whole matter.

We have not dealt with it in that way. We believe that it is better to let the workers and the employers negotiate matters of this kind. When the present pattern is fully explored and negotiations take place we can settle down to an atmosphere, in which we can set about arriving, as far as human ingenuity can, at a perfect pattern of wage negotiation which will not do harm to the whole national economy.

I would have wished, and I have urged it already, that workers and employers could settle down and discuss these problems. I believe that nothing but good can come from discussions between trade union representatives and the representatives of the employers on these facets of our economic and social life which impact in one way or another on the national scene.

The Minister mentioned the existence of a document about a projected wage freeze Bill. Will the Minister be prepared to place it on the Table of the House, if it exists? We would all like to see it.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Minister will place the document in the Library, I expect.

I think the Senator, if he is not satisfied about the matter, will, if he reads the Official Dáil Debates of last October, find the full document contained there.

And there was no denial from the other side?

No. There could be no denial. I had the document in my hand in October last and I was reading from it. These are the facts, and when this Government is being reprimanded for not being able to perform miracles which the gigantic nations of the world have been unable to perform in the economic field——

But you pretended to be able to do them.

No. You give us credit, Senator, for a wisdom we do not claim for ourselves. I remember the merry old days of 1932 when the Senator's Party had a programme to bring back the emigrants to do all the work that Fianna Fáil was going to make available for them, and Deputy Lemass then expressed the view that he might find difficulty in getting them all back and might have to comb the United States of America to ensure that enough of them came back.

I am not denying all the credit for anything that the Senator's Party has done. A bad part of our life is that we do not give credit to each other for what each has done. One is, however, inclined to break away from that principle of giving credit when we hear the reckless speeches made by Senator Kissane, and his newly found colleague, Senator Cogan, and remember the speeches made in the Dáil in 1948 on the election of Deputy Costello as Taoiseach.

I believe that the overwhelming body of the people in this country believe that this Government is doing a good job. I think they realise that the Government is confronted with a difficult task which springs from things which are outside their control. I believe that they understand that this Government and country, with its small territory and population and inability to influence world markets, cannot hold back the inflationary tendencies which have manifested themselves in all parts of the world. The most we can do is to try to insulate ourselves as far as we can against those tendencies.

I think the people understand that and it is our job to explain to the people what we are endeavouring to do in that field. Recently, the people have had opportunities of expressing their views on the policy of this Government over the past 20 difficult months, and I should like, in concluding my comments on this Bill, to express my sincere thanks to the people for giving the Government such an overwhelming vote of confidence in the North Kerry by-election.

You were down by 1,000 votes.

We had no resident manager.

And what about West Limerick?

I do not want to be obstructive, but I wish to raise a point of order in relation to the quotation of that document by the Minister. I should like to press for its being placed on the Table of the House.

I think the Minister has declared that it will be made available to members of this House.

It is not just a document in this case. It is a complete file. I think if you will look at the Dáil report of October, 1955, you will see the general purport of the file, quoted extensively from, without any demur by the Fianna Fáil Party.

I was really concerned mainly with the draft Bill, as I understood it to be in existence.

I think you will find most of the draft in that Official Report.

I do not want the preliminary documents, but I think the draft Bill ought to be put before the House, even if it has already been extensively quoted in the Dáil.

I would like to think on that, but if the Opposition doubt its existence and carry their challenge to that stage, I think we could offer to make it available to a committee to show it does exist.

I do not doubt its existence, but I think we have the right in this House to insist on documents, so quoted from, being exhibited.

You will notice I have not quoted from it to-day. I have not got a copy of it to quote from, but I have quoted from memory; indeed I know it so well I can give it like a recitation.

I think the Minister should give us a reason if he does not wish to produce the document.

This is an unusual procedure, unless a document is challenged. In this case, it is really not challenged. The Senator is really engaged in research now. It is a very commendable activity, but the purpose of putting a document on the Table of the House is not to give information; it is to establish the fact of its existence rather than to provide additional mental equipment or more forceful arguments for the Senator.

I think it is part of the Standing Orders of the House that, where a document is referred to in such detail, it is produced to the House.

You can quote from the Bible and not have to put it on the Table.

I am sure you could get it.

Perhaps not the one I quoted from.

For the information of the House, when documents are quoted to the House, it is usual to make them available, to cite references on request.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take the remaining stages to-day.
Bill passed through Committee, reported without recommendation, received for final consideration and passed.
The Seanad adjourned at 10.45 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18th, 1956.