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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 29 Jun 1966

Vol. 61 No. 12

Finance Bill, 1966 (Certified Money Bill): Second Stage.

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

The principal purpose of this Bill is to give legislative effect to Financial Resolutions passed by the Dáil on 9th March and 14th June. The Explanatory Memorandum circulated with the text of the Bill as introduced in Dáil Éireann sets out the broad scope of the various sections. A number of amendments were made in the Bill during its passage through the Dáil, notably those relating to the increases in taxation which I announced in that House on 14th June. I shall draw the attention of the Seanad to these important amendments.

As usual, Part I of the Bill deals with income tax. Section 1 raises the rate of income tax from 6/4 to 7/- in the £ and continues the existing rate of sur-tax. The second section increases from £120 to £150 the income tax allowance in respect of a qualified child over eleven years of age.

Section 3 provides that where a company submits its accounts and other appropriate information for any year to the Special Commissioners of Income Tax, the Commissioners are required to indicate within a specified period whether the company will be called upon to account for sur-tax on its undistributed profits.

Sections 4, 5, 6, 21 and 22, which arise from the introduction of the British Corporation Tax, may be considered together. Section 4 provides that British Corporation Tax paid on the British profits of Irish companies will be allowed as a credit against Irish corporation profits tax and income tax. This is necessary because the British corporation tax, at 40 per cent, is higher than our corporation profits tax and, therefore, without this provision, Irish companies would be unable to get credit for the full amount of British tax paid. The allowance of this "overspill" of British tax against Irish income tax will involve a loss of revenue. To offset this, it is proposed in section 21 to increase the rates of Irish Corporation Profits Tax from 5 per cent to 7 per cent on the first £2,500 of profits and from 15 per cent to 23 per cent on the balance in excess of £2,500. However, Irish companies carrying on business in this country will suffer no additional tax as a result of this increase because under section 5 of the Bill corporation profits tax will be allowable as a deduction in computing profits for income tax purposes. In the case of British companies operating here the increased Irish corporation profits tax which they will pay will be allowed as a credit against British corporation tax. Section 6 is consequential on section 5 and section 22 amends the rules for granting credit in respect of British tax to take account of the new British corporation tax.

In Sections 7 and 28 provision is made for the granting of tax allowances in respect of commercial glasshouses. Section 28 secures that capital expenditure incurred on or after 30th September, 1956 on buildings used for the purposes of growing produce in the course of a trade of market gardening will qualify for initial and annual allowances at the rate of 10 per cent. Section 7 provides for a "repairs" allowance of one-third of the annual value in respect of similar expenditure incurred prior to 30th September, 1956.

Part II of the Bill deals with customs and excise, and implements the increases in duties on beer, spirits, hydrocarbon oils, tobacco, table waters, firearm certificate and motor vehicles announced on 9th March and 14th June. This part of the Bill also provides, in the case of tobacco, table waters, Irish wines and motor vehicles, for the commencement of the process of eliminating the protective elements in the duties on these items in pursuance of the Free Trade Area Agreement. I might also mention that section 17 implements the budget proposal that the proceeds of the increase in motor vehicle duties should be used for general Exchequer purposes and not paid into the Road Fund.

Part III of the Bill deals with death duties. Section 18 makes liable death benefits which are paid under the provisions of superannuation schemes or arrangements but in relation to which no enforceable right at law exists. Payments under the Superannuation Acts come within the scope of this provision. The section also repeals section 5 of the Finance Act, 1945, which exempted from duty, in connection with the death of a member of the Defence Forces, certain deferred pay and gratuities granted in respect of his services.

Section 19 extends the relief from estate duty provided by the Finance Act, 1965, in the case of benefits passing to the widow or dependent children of the deceased. The limit on the value of estates within which the relief operates is being advanced from £15,000 to £25,000, with appropriate marginal relief. The amount of the abatement of duty, in the case of a widow, is being increased from £250 to £350 and, in the case of each dependent child from £150 to £250. It will be noted that these improved reliefs will take effect as from the passing of the Finance Act, 1965.

Part IV, which contains only one section, is concerned with stamp duties. Its purpose is to permit of the compounding of the stamp duties on certain foreign bills and notes.

I have already dealt with the provisions of Part V of the Bill which deals with corporation profits tax.

Part VI contains four sections relating to turnover tax.

Section 23 imposes a 10 per cent rate of tax, with effect from 1st May; 1966, on payments made for or in connection with admissions to dances, and lays certain obligations on promoters of dances and proprietors of dance halls to ensure that adequate notification of dances is given to the Revenue Commissioners. The increased rate of tax will not apply to a dance where the price of admission does not exceed four shillings and attendance is limited to one hundred.

The remaining sections of this part of the Bill relate to the administration of the tax. Their purpose is to align procedures for turnover tax as closely as possible with those already in operation for income tax. The powers of the Revenue Commissioners to make estimates of turnover tax are extended and there is a corresponding extension of the taxpayer's right of appeal to the Special Commissioners of Income Tax and to the courts. Provision is also made to control the admission of late appeals and to facilitate the collection of tax from corporate and unincorporated bodies.

Part VII of the Bill deals with miscellaneous items. Section 27 contains the customary provision with regard to the Capital Services Redemption Account. It provides for the charging annually on the Central Fund of the sums necessary to redeem borrowings and pay the interest thereon.

I have already referred to section 28 which provides for the granting of capital allowances to the commercial glasshouse industry.

Section 29 extends the scope of "exports" relief to cover profits arising to an Irish company from processing goods on behalf of a foreign owner where the materials are imported into the State for processing and the finished goods exported.

The registers of certain Government securities are now held by the Central Bank of Ireland. It is, therefore, necessary to extend to that institution certain of the existing statutory provisions relating to the management of Government stocks and securities. Section 30 does this.

I have now dealt in general terms with the main provisions of this Bill. Detailed explanation and discussion is more appropriate to the Committee Stage when I shall be glad to deal with any queries.

I understand that it is proposed to discuss, in conjunction with this Bill, two motions on the Order Paper regarding the NIEC Report on the Economic Situation. Senators will, no doubt, be familiar with the opinions I expressed in the Dáil on a motion dealing with the Report and I do not consider that any useful purpose would be served by repeating them here at this stage. I would prefer to hear the views of the proposers of these motions and to deal with them in my reply to the debate.

I understand that the terms of the motion come within the ambit of this debate. The motion reads:

"That Seanad Éireann notes the Report of the National Industrial Economic Council on the Economic Situation and calls on the Government to elaborate on their statement thereon and to indicate the practical steps they intend to take to implement the Council's recommendations."

The speech which the Minister for Finance has delivered on this particular Bill is, I suppose, necessarily a very dry speech with very little meat in it. The Minister says he hopes to give us more details about the terms of the Bill on the Committee Stage. At this point I want to note that notwithstanding the new arrangements made for the purpose of transacting the financial business of the State earlier this year we are in exactly the same position now on this Finance Bill as if we had not dealt with the other Bill regarding the ordering of financial business earlier this year.

It passes my comprehension how we can be asked to pass a Bill designed to enable the Dáil and Seanad to discuss these various measures at some length. We find today that we have fewer than ten days in which to discuss in this House the financial business and the economic condition of the country. I do not suppose the Minister for Finance is entirely to blame for that; I suppose that is part of the way in which the Government transact business. However, notwithstanding the arrangements made, we find ourselves in the same position as we were last year and in preceding years.

I do not think the Minister expects there will be many people, even on his own side of the House, who will congratulate him on this Bill or, to use the normal terminology, who will welcome its introduction. There is nothing to be pleased about in a Bill that imposes more taxation and, in the redistribution of that taxation, we do not find any substantial part being diverted to social welfare benefits for the needy members of the community.

There is, however, one thing in the Bill about which I should like to extend warm congratulations. It is the part dealing with estate duty. Last year, certain improvements by way of limiting the duty extractable from widows and orphans were introduced in section 29 of the Finance Bill. I cannot be entirely complimentary on that action because it has been found necessary to repeal certain provisions of section 29 and replace them with others which are clearer and which, of course, are more generous, but it is well for the House to note, and the Minister is to be congratulated on it, that certain beneficial provisions have been applied retrospectively. The Minister is being more generous in the remission of estate duty payable by widows and by children of deceased persons. It is something we must note with particular pleasure and congratulate the Minister on.

Having said that, I should like to stress that that is probably the only useful part of the Bill from the point of view of the taxpayers. Otherwise, it is a measure which increases taxation all round. One has at this time, and the country has as well, a certain feeling of disappointment and doubt at the way things have gone during the past 12 to 18 months. As far as I can see, nothing has been said or done by the Government to relieve the general despondency which has settled down over the people. The prospect of appointing a Minister for Labour holds out some hope but I do not think the appointment of the same person as Minister for Labour who had charge and responsibility for industrial relations up to now will make any substantial difference in the condition of industrial unrest which is so marked a feature of life in this country.

It may well be that the new Minister for Labour, when he sheds the other responsibilities, has only to concentrate on one issue and that something beneficial will result from that concentration of thought and responsibility. I rather think that will be over the long term rather than the short term. I do not see at the present time any real indication that matters will improve as rapidly as we all wish them to.

There has been a great deal of talk about the economy, in the Dáil and among the public generally, during the past few months. So far I have not heard any Minister indicate what has brought about the present position. Why is it that there is no money in the country for ordinary private industry, no money for loans for local authorities? Why is it that grants have been cut down so much? I have not heard any explanation as to why that has happened. Where is the money that should be available for financing the public services? What has happened that it is not there? If we were given some sort of authoritative diagnosis by the Government, people would take heart at the fact that at least the Government had diagnosed the causes and that they might be able to apply the cures.

It is all right to blame the weather. We have always had bad weather. We have had a share of industrial unrest from time to time and other causes have contributed in greater or less degree to our present situation. I should like to hear the Minister, when he concludes the Second Stage, give us his opinion of what the causes are of the present discontent and then prescribe what he believes and the Government believe are the appropriate remedies. The Government have the duty to do that and people are looking to the Government and to Parliament for some indication of when we are likely to get out of our present difficulties.

It is easy to fall into the temptation of going back on the pre-election promises of the present Government. We all know that people were led into the belief that all they had to do was elect a Fianna Fáil Government and all would be well. I shall not go to the trouble of taking out the numerous statements by Ministers saying how vitally necessary it was that there should be no change of Government. The Taoiseach urged the people that it was essential to elect another Fianna Fáil Government to keep the Second Programme going strongly. The people have elected a Fianna Fáil Government and the Second Programme is not going strongly and the people have not been told yet what has happened that there has been such a freezing-up of credit and a slowing down of economic development generally.

I suggest there is something fundamentally wrong with the Government of this country not only during the past 12 months but for quite some time past. I believe that the Taoiseach does not understand what the difficulty is. He said the other afternoon in the Dáil on the Ministers and Secretaries Bill that he had urged his Ministers to get out and go to dinners, openings of garages, openings of race tracks, and parties of one kind or another, in order to keep in touch with public opinion. He thought it was a vital part of the functions and duties of Ministers that they should keep in touch with public opinion.

I think the best way in which members of the Government could reestablish contact with public opinion would be to go into Opposition for a while. They would meet a great many people who have complaints. When the Minister for Finance goes to a party, or a dinner, or the opening of some garage or race track, or something of that kind——

I usually open chip shops.

——or chip shops, he meets people who like to meet Ministers of State so they are not going to insult him to his face by saying: "You are not doing such and such right. Why do you not do such and such?" The people who meet Ministers of State say the nicest and politest things to them.

Is the Senator being insulted at present?

Let me develop my argument.

The Senator is offering that prospect to the Minister.

I am talking about why Ministers fail to keep in touch with public opinion. They are going to these types of gatherings where they cannot get the criticisims the Taoiseach thinks they will get. The fact of the matter is that they do not, and they have lost touch with public opinion.

Members of the Opposition are receptacles for all the complaints, wails, discontent, and justified grouses and grievances the people have against the Government. We hear them all, and we are very much in touch with public opinion. Indeed, it may have surprised some people that there has been such a favourable reaction generally in the community to our Irish language policy. Everyone knew that certain interests would cry out against what is being done, but one gets a very favourable reaction from the community in general. The Government have lost touch with people on that aspect of life in this country.

All we have to do is look over the record. They brought in a Succession Bill during the previous session and I do not believe that there was one person in the country, apart from the people who drafted it, who agreed with the provisions of that Bill. They were so bad that the Government had to take the very unusual course of withdrawing the Bill completely, and introducing a new Part IX and Part X which saved face and, at the same time, went a considerable distance to meet the clamant public opinion about that Bill. The fact that that happened clearly shows that at that time the Government did not know what the people were thinking about.

We have the same position at present in relation to the Fisheries Bill and it was the same Minister who introduced both the Succession Bill and the Fisheries Bill. One can confidently anticipate that he will be leaving the Department of Agriculture for that reason. He has brought in a Fisheries Bill, and no one agrees with the sections dealing with licences for ordinary fishing. To my mind, this indicates that the Minister has lost touch with public opinion, and this is a Minister who one would have thought would be well in touch with public opinion judging by the many social contacts he makes it his business to keep.

We have had the dreadful sections in the Land Bill, and we have had what to my mind is much more relevant to a debate of this kind, the nefarious sections in the Finance Act, 1963, and the Finance Act of last year which again showed a miscalculation on the part of the Government. I am referring to the provision in the Finance Act, 1963, which involves disclosure of the deposits of citizens of this country in the banks. I am told most reliably— and one hears it said not infrequently by bank managers and others—that a great deal of money left the country when that provision was introduced. The Minister may have some statistics to show that is not so, or that the outflow was not as great as people think, but we do not know what amount of money did not go on deposit for the future because of this new provision.

I am told by bank managers that loans of £1,500, £1,800 or £3,000 for buying a piece of land or for putting an addition on to a house, or something of that nature, to farmers or people in small towns, were usually made with money regularly on deposit with the banks and that they have never been able to make those loans since. It was a ghastly error on the part of the Government to put that section in the Bill and I am greatly surprised that they have not removed it.

In the Finance Bill last year there was a new provision in relation to the aggregation of married women's property with policy moneys in the estate of the deceased upon his death. To my mind that measure was the grossest breach of faith which the Government could be guilty of towards the thrifty section of the community. It was the last shot in the armoury of an insurance inspector who was trying to persuade someone to take out one of these policies that upon the death of the person the policy would be liable to a lower rate of duty than the rest. It was a great incentive to people to take out these policies, and it is a provision that has been in the Finance Act for as long as estate duty has been levied. It has been there for 50 or 60 years.

The Senator is making a sweeping statement which he cannot substantiate.

It has been in vogue for a long time.

The reference to the lower rate of duty.

I am subject to correction on that, but it has been in vogue for a long time. The fact is that people now have no faith in savings of any kind because they feel that if they do save their efforts may be negatived by a section in a Finance Bill.

I want to put it to the Minister for his serious consideration that we live in a free society. We believe in private enterprise. I know my colleagues in the Labour benches would not agree that anyone in a case of this kind should be entitled to beat the Revenue Commissioners because he is able to get round the law. We have a private enterprise economy where we believe in private enterprise and the right of the individual within the law so to order his affairs that he does not bear the same kind of burden as if he did not know the law and made different provision.

It is inevitable—and it has always been so—that where there are penal provisions in a statute, clever people, people who set their minds to it, will try to get around the rigours of that statute. What is happening in this country is that in order to catch the few, many small estates have been penalised. It is extremely regrettable that confidence in the continued existence of a particular statutory provision should be abolished, in that way creating a disincentive to savings.

However, as I say, I do appreciate and I am very glad the Minister on the death duties under a will has on this occasion made some amends and, indeed, I should like to pay tribute here, which I have been unable to do on a previous occasion, to Senator Dr. Ryan for the liberality he showed in earlier Finance Acts in raising the estate duty allowance from £2,000 to £5,000.

The present Bill follows the same format as all previous Bills in relation to income tax, customs and excise, death duties, stamp duties, corporation profits tax and turnover tax. The Minister has made no attempt to try to devise new methods of raising finance to meet the commitments which it is recognised have to be met. Indeed, it occurs to me that there is nothing in this Finance Bill to provide any kind of a stimulus to the economy nor do I see that any of the moneys raised here will be used in any way so as to have an appreciable effect on the welfare of the community.

The payroll tax was recently introduced in England. I only mention that because of the bad effect, I think, that payroll tax will have on this community. It is clear that people who were of a mind in England to invest their money in the various services there will no longer do so but that they will try to find many outlets here for the money which they would otherwise have invested in those services but for the payroll tax. I can see a situation developing in this country in which those people will in increasing numbers and with increasing amounts of money invest here the money they cannot use in England for investing in the various kinds of services there to which the payroll tax would apply. I believe the time has come for the Minister for Finance to take note of that and of the fact that much too much foreign money is coming into this country and being used for no other purposes than to buy out and establish large retail businesses in this country.

I do not think the economy benefits by one halfpenny if a businessman comes in here and buys out a retail store. What happens then is that thereafter all the profits made by Irish companies and Irish concerns go across the water to England. The net result is that there is less employment very frequently for Irish boys and girls and men and women in the retail trade, certainly in the upper echelons of the retail trade. The profits which would otherwise be distributed and largely spent in this country are siphoned over the water to England. The time has come to investigate this phenomenon before it gets too late because those big supermarkets are doing nothing to increase wealth in this country. They are doing nothing for economic development, as far as I can see, nor do I think that they are doing a single thing to bring down prices or keep the cost of living stable. It is in that kind of context that the Minister for Finance, if we are not captured by free trade in Britain, should begin to think in terms of a form of tax that would arrest the growth of profitless investment in this country. When I say "profitless" I mean that the net result is that profits go out of the country.

I hope the Minister will have some regard to the fact that a great many small business people, chemists, grocers, traders and the like, are in grave danger and in great uncertainty because of the development of these useless supermarkets from an economic point of view. I know that in the area in which I live such a large organisation is about to take over and, of course, one sees businesses already closing down in advance and other small businesses, which have been giving quite good services and providing the goods as cheaply as the bigger ones, will probably have to face eventual destruction. This is a matter about which the Government should be concerned and it is a matter which perhaps might be dealt with by an appropriate fiscal policy.

It seems to me that the great need at the present time is to introduce some kind of harmony into the relationship between labour and management and, on the other hand, to harness that harmony to the kind of economic projects which the Government want to see realised in their Second Programme for Economic Expansion. To date, I do not see any indication on the part of the Government taking a lead to organise the resources of the community in the kind of way that will inspire confidence between management and labour and between management and Government and bring about the necessary expansion in the development of industry and trade generally.

It is remarkable that at this late stage, only the other day, the Taoiseach in the Dáil referred to the prices and incomes policy with this comment "whatever that may mean". This is something that has been well thought out by the NIEC, has been the subject of a very learned and lengthy report by them and has the advantage of having the blessing of management, labour and other interests. Nonetheless, we had the Taoiseach speaking of a prices and incomes policy in terms of "whatever that may mean". Of course, part of the difficulty the Taoiseach finds himself in at the present time is that he does not like the military exercise of "about turn". He has had to do that far too often in the recent past and he is getting tired of it.

Let us not forget that a prices and incomes policy almost on the same lines as that indicated in the NIEC report was adumbrated in the Fine Gael policy Towards a Just Society, and, of course, the Taoiseach at the height of the election campaign dismissed the whole document as being as unnecessary as the fifth wheel on a motor car. Then he went on in a speech in Mullingar which the Minister is tired of hearing about to say that he would have nothing to do with a prices and incomes policy. “If we are in Government we shall not implement it,” he said, “and if in opposition we shall oppose it.”

Nonetheless he makes an about turn last November and gets up at a meeting of some group out in Skerries and proceeds to tell the country what is involved in a prices and incomes policy. Evidently he was reading from a prepared script at that time, because his latest indication is that he does not know what a prices and incomes policy is. It seems to me that a departure such as the introduction of a worthwhile and practical prices and incomes policy would be of the greatest benefit to the country. It would give some assurance to the workers of participation in an increased national product, and would also enable industrialists who have to compete with outsiders to cost in advance with some certainty the prices of their products.

I have had the experience of meeting recently a large industrialist who complained bitterly of the present Government—and he is a supporter of the present Government—because he had lost one order for £200,000 and another for £300,000 because he could not possibly fulfil them because of the increased wages. He was moaning into his glass of beer and asking us why we did not do something about it. That is not the kind of thing, I think, that the Taoiseach's Ministers hear, apparently, at the various functions which the Taoiseach exhorts them to attend, or if they do they do not do anything about it. I believe that a prices and incomes policy would go a great distance to eliminate this uncertainty from which both labour and management suffer at present. The only authority that can bring both these parties together is the Government. I believe that that should be a function of either the Minister for Industry and Commerce, the Taoiseach or some other Minister. That is one of the things that is contained in the NIEC report, and notwithstanding all that has been said about that by the Minister in the Dáil and by the Taoiseach it does not seem from the Taoiseach's latest acquaintanceship with this idea that we are any nearer to establishing a prices and incomes policy in this country.

We all know the basic reason for the present unrest in the country. It was a gross error on the part of the Taoiseach to think that he could get a wages agreement lasting for two and half years. The trade unions had no doubt at all that it was not going to last for two and half years, because the ink was scarcely dry on the agreement when there were rows as to what was intended by certain sections in it. The Taoiseach was very prominent in the negotiations which culminated in this great national agreement, but I have not seen any activity on the part of the Taoiseach in the last twelve months in trying to bring about industrial peace. Nothing has been done by him.

He is going to remain in office until June, 1970, we are told, and he does not have to busy himself about these things. I would have thought that even before this wretched Electricity Supply Bill was introduced the Taoiseach would have done something to try to bring the parties together, but he has not done that. It was a fundamental flaw, and showed a great lack of understanding of how the trade unions work and how the people who pay contributions to the trade unions work, to think that the secretaries, presidents and officials of the various trade unions, who are in receipt of reasonably good salaries, were to sit back for two and a half years and make no demand upon the employers. The thing was quite absurd from the start. There has been no recognition of that fact even to this date. I think that the sooner that the Ministers, instead of going to social gatherings— and I intend to discuss this point on the Ministers and Secretaries Bill— should get themselves invited to meetings with trade unionists and find out what way trade unions react and how various things come before executive committees, branch meetings, and general meetings of the unions, and get some kind of inkling into the demands, hopes and aspirations of the people who work in industry. When they get that there will be less criticism of an idea from the NIEC of a prices and incomes policy of the kind we have had from the Taoiseach in his sneering remark "Whatever that may be."

I am no expert on agriculture. That, I suppose, could go without saying, but I cannot but be surprised at the wholesale resignations from the Pigs and Bacon Commission. I had heard that these were going to take place, and I do not understand what the Minister for Agriculture is doing in order to bring about a situation where, if we carry on an intensive advertising campaign for the sale of bacon in Britain, we can put the people who carry on that advertising campaign in a position to meet the demands made on them as a result of it. The Minister for Agriculture went on one of those trips abroad, to Germany, I think it was in Cologne, and when he came back from Cologne, he said that there were unlimited markets for Irish agricultural produce abroad, or words to that effect.

When Senator Dr. Ryan was Minister for Finance in the first Budget he introduced he set aside a certain sum of money for adaptation of industry and as I understood it at that time for the exploitation of foreign markets and their development for our industry and agriculture. I must say that I do not know what efforts have been made or any great success that has attended these efforts, but I do know that the Minister for Agriculture told us that there were markets abroad and that we should go and get them. At the same time, when apparently we are able to sell bacon to Britain we are not able to fill the orders that are made. That is only symptomatic of what is going on, and it is profoundly disturbing to think that the lives of the rural population and the future of agriculture in this country are dependent upon people who have that knowledge of what is available and do nothing to make that available to the Irish farmer.

The NIEC report also deals with the building industry, and indeed the Finance Act, 1965, had something to say about the building industry. I am greatly disappointed that the Minister for Finance has done nothing in this Bill to bring some clarity into the provisions of Part VII of the Finance Act, 1965, which dealt with the development of land. I can tell the Minister that there are no two lawyers in this country who will agree as to what is the interpretation of many of the provisions of Part VII of the Finance Act, 1965. I very much doubt if those who drafted it, the people who gave out the subheads to the Parliamentary Draftsman, knew what they wanted to achieve and knew the kind of exceptions they wanted to make. It is something which has caused a great deal of heart-searching in the building industry. At a time when the building industry requires a stimulus rather than the reverse, it would seem to me that it would have been better to repeal the whole of Part VII and substitute it by something more intelligible and workable.

Indeed, a comment that applies to most legislation dealing with taxation is that the only people who really understand what is contained in the legislation are those who administer it because most of them administer a few sections at a time and become experts on it. They understand it for the simple reason that it is what they say is the interpretation, unless an unfortunate taxpayer decides he will go to court and, in most of the cases as we know, the taxpayer can only go to court after he has first of all lodged the money in court—maybe £13,000, £15,000 or, perhaps, £18,000 as we have seen recently in a particular case—and then waits his chance for a judicial interpretation with no certainty because there never can be any certainty that he will succeed. It seems to me that there is a great deal of injustice done to people and a great deal of duty paid that they probably are not liable to pay in those less clear sections of the Revenue Acts because of the utterly impossible way in which those sections are worded.

It is a strange commentary upon section 29 of the Finance Act, 1965, that what should have been perfectly clear if people wanted to say: "a widow shall be entitled to an abatement of so much", "a child shall be entitled to an abatement of so much" that that could not be said in a way that anybody reading it would be able to say—"That is what it means and it cannot mean anything else".

The building industry, from what I know of it, has been greatly perturbed about the provisions of Part VII. It is not affecting the people who are, in fact, making the money and whom the section was designed to catch but it has become quite impossible for the ordinary builders to know where they stand because of the complicated provisions of this particular Act. At a time when the NIEC report expresses some concern about the slowing down of the building industry, it is altogether regrettable that they should find themselves harassed by the provisions of Part VIII, well intentioned though these provisions may have been.

As I understand the position, we are within a few days of the application of the Free Trade Area between this country and Great Britain. I do not know of anything substantial being done in order to prepare industry and the people who derive their livelihood from it for the competition about to come upon them. I do not know of anything the Minister has in mind, any financial provisions, which are available in order to help industry. I gather that, indeed, the financial provisions which were available to industry up to now were not that readily taken up by industry in order to fit themselves for the rigours of the time to come.

I hope that the Government in the coming months, after they have taken the usual summer rest, will get down to a very full examination of the needs of industry. When I say the Government, I mean the Government themselves; not doing it by their civil servants. I believe that until our Ministers spend more time thinking about the problems which confront the country, discussing day in and day out with their advisers ways and means of resolving them, we will never have the kind of firm and uniform direction of policy this country needs at this time more than anything else. If the Government, for whatever length of time they continue in office, spend more of their time discussing the problems with which we are confronted, examining them, teasing them, being advised about them, getting further information and so on, we can hope that, even if they do not adopt the kind of policies which the NIEC recommend or even the policies which have been advocated by the Opposition in this House and in the Dáil, even their own policies, thought out by themselves and properly co-ordinated, they will confer a greater benefit on the community than has resulted from the sporadic and unco-ordinated efforts up to the present.

In relation to this Bill the Government are in the dock on many counts. There is a long list of their failures and shortcomings now in the minds of the people of the country, and before us in this Bill. It all arises from the trick which was played on the people in the April, 1965, general election when they appealed to the people to "Let Lemass Lead On", that there were great prospects for the country, that they did not know how to avail of the opportunities quickly enough in order to take advantage of the prosperity which was offering. They dangled the Second Programme for Economic Expansion before the people, quoted estimates and figures from it, tried to impress the people and get their support for it. They told the people that they never had it so good, the country was prospering and that they should keep Fianna Fáil in office in order to avail of the advantages coming from the policy of the Fianna Fáil Government. This was an artificial temporary period of prosperity, deliberately created for the purpose of winning the general election. But it was the taxpayers' money and the national finances that were used for the purpose of creating that temporary prosperity which resulted in the Fianna Fáil Party winning the election by a margin of a few seats in the Dáil.

But now the chickens have come home to roost. We find that, in fact, the general election was a massive confidence trick and that the opportunities which the Government pretended were there for expansion and prosperity, in fact, did not exist. We have a situation now that the country is almost £750 million in debt and that is a lot of money considering that the country was not one penny in debt in 1922 when we took over our own responsibilities here for the management of our own affairs. But worse still— it is costing the taxpayers over £50 million to pay interest on this national debt and this £50 million has to be paid in hard cash. It is collected from the people in the form of taxation of various kinds, direct and indirect, and rich and poor alike must subscribe towards payment of this interest of £50 million per year on a national debt of something of the order of £750 million now chalked up by the Fianna Fáil Party. We have now reached a situation in which the Government have found it necessary to seek loans outside this country—loans which would enable the country to pay for capital projects and special schemes which have been embarked on, which have not yet been completed and which must be completed.

Already this year we have had two Budgets. We had the Budget of the 9th March, about six weeks before the normal time, because the Government were so badly off for money that they had to bring in an early Budget to make ends meet and keep things going. Then, when the Government found themselves in this position we discovered that the Electricity Supply Board were able to float a loan and get £7 million in less than an hour from the citizens of this country. They were able to fill that loan because the people had confidence in the administration there. They were not afraid to invest their money in the ESB. As soon as the ESB got the money the Government had to take it from them, on loan, of course, for the purpose of meeting the Government's commitments in relation to the salaries of civil servants, other public servants and also for special projects at that time.

Since then it was necessary for the Government to bring in a second Budget on the 14th June. That Budget was introduced, it was said, to pay for some of the benefits which they decided to make available to the farming community. While the farming community had to fight hard for higher returns they were watching everybody else about to get an increase of £50 per person per year. There was no prospect for the farmers to get an increase although they were able to show that their costs had risen considerably by reason of the Government's action with regard to increased taxation and higher prices. We had this Budget brought in at that time. Would it be possible for the Minister, when he is replying, to say if he intends to bring in an autumn Budget in addition to the two Budgets he has already brought in this year? In his Budget statement on 9th March he indicated that he might come back with another one in the autumn.

I did not say that.

The Minister says he did not say that. The only thing I can say is that he indicated in the course of his speech that he might find it necessary to come back again in the autumn.

Later in the year. I have done so.

Now we have the assurance I wanted from the Minister. He says that he came back on 14th June with his second Budget. It is hard to know why the Minister, when he realised that he was not making ends meet, as the Minister for Finance is supposed to do, did not do so in his first Budget. He may offer the excuse that he did not know how much he was going to pay the farmers but the farmers were not the only people provided for in the Budget of the 14th June. The Minister must have known about that but apparently he did not budget for it. He may have decided that things were bad enough and that he did not want to impose greater taxation before the Presidential election. That is what happens with Fianna Fáil Governments all the time. They operate their policies for Party political purposes and for the benefit of the Fianna Fáil Party and those who stand to benefit from the Fianna Fáil Party.

The Second Programme for Economic Expansion, which was used so much in the general election campaign of 1965, has not even got off the ground and there is very little prospect that it will at this stage. It has failed in several respects in spite of the fact that the Taoiseach said that the aims set out in that programme would be achieved by the end of the period for which it was designed. If the aims are likely to be achieved by that time the Taoiseach has certainly a few problems to tackle. First of all, there are 44,000 fewer people employed now than was envisaged in the programme for this time. Apart from that, let us remember that there are 167,000 fewer people employed now than there were ten years ago. The number is still falling.

There is a stampede from the land. Every year anything from 15,000 to 20,000 fly from the land. Apparently the Government have no policy to arrest that stampede and to encourage people to work and live on the land. If there was a living for them there I have no doubt that people would stay in their own localities and live in their own homes instead of locking the door, emigrating to England and coming back at Christmas and maybe for the summer holidays to air the house or get a neighbour to do so. That is the trend in many parts of the country at the present time.

The housing campaign has as good as collapsed. A very small percentage of houses are being built now compared with the number of houses built during either period of the inter-Party Government, particularly in the years 1956 and 1957. The number of houses built in those two years was far greater than the number under way at the present time. In Swords people are living in converted farm sheds, shacks, overcrowded dwellings, caravans and any kind of shelter they can get. Arrangements were made to provide 150 cottages as quickly as possible. That programme was held up for months and then a year. Now we find the situation is that finance will be made available only for approximately one-third of those houses this year. There is no assurance that, in fact, the finance will be given for those houses at that time. A contract has been passed by the county council. It has been approved by the Department of Local Government but the finance is not available.

But before the last general election, Fianna Fáil candidates went around to those unfortunates in the shacks, caravans and converted farm sheds telling them to let Lemass lead on and they would be in new houses sooner than they had hoped. That is the prospect for the people of Swords. The picture is the same in every other part of the country. I do not accuse Ministers of accommodating their own areas in regard to housing. I presume the provision of finance for housing is as bad in the area of the Minister for Finance as it is in County Dublin.

Every other year, the Government have gone to the people for a national loan, the last one being for £25 million. By a certain method of fiddling, if you like so to describe it, they pretended that loan was oversubscribed. Then the credit situation got so bad that the Government had to seek loans outside the country. It began with the American loan application which we failed to get. Then the Germans, beaten flat in the last war, came to the rescue. Then the World Bank provided a small loan.

We got no loan from the World Bank.

That is bad enough. That is worse. You could not get it.

I did not say we cannot get it. We got none.

He will go to the World Bank next.

Then we went to the Bank of Nova Scotia. They have come to the rescue.

Good for them.

The Bank of Nova Scotia have been very busy looking for customers in this country, looking for Irish people to give them money, to open accounts with them.

What about the people of Swords?

This bank, which had been seeking money clients among Irish people, turn around and offer us a loan.

What is wrong with the Irish people that they are not taking them up?

A number of factory projects collapsed despite very substantial grants being approved and sanctioned for them. Some of them did not even get off the ground. On top of that we have this colossal bill, the highest ever required to be subscribed by fewer than 3 million people — if I count the able-bodied people, fit to work, fit to earn wages, salaries, profits, the number would be fewer than 1½ million. We are a great little country when one thinks of the heavy taxation per head being demanded of us. I should be interested to hear from the Minister the taxation per head of the able-bodied people of this country. It must be very high in relation to other countries. Part of this money is being provided for the Department of the Gaeltacht and in passing I should like to mention that it was Fine Gael who established that Department and appointed a Minister for the Gaeltacht in spite of bitter opposition from Fianna Fáil.

That shook you.

We had to stand up and defend our efforts. We appointed Deputy Lindsay as first Minister for the Gaeltacht because we realised how the Gaeltacht needed special attention.

I was Deputy Lindsay's immediate successor and it still needed special attention.

Does it need it now?

It was surprising that the Department of the Gaeltacht was retained at all considering Fianna Fáil's opposition at the time.

If Fianna Fáil were men of principle and were prepared to stand over what they had said about the Department's establishment they should have abolished that Department. Instead, the present Minister for Finance took it over and to his credit he did a good job there. I mention this because a lot of people do not realise it was Fine Gael who set up this Department under a separate Minister. At the moment it is thought a Department of Labour is required having regard to the circumstances of the time. Nobody will dispute it. We are all interested in seeing who the Government will appoint and, generally speaking, what the terms of reference of that Department will be. It is needed as badly as the Department of the Gaeltacht was when Fine Gael set it up. It is necessary to deal here with several of the improvements carried out by the Department of the Gaeltacht in Fíor-Ghaeltacht and Breac-Ghaeltacht areas.

In the difficult situation to which Fianna Fáil has led the country, the Road Fund is being raided and the people who subscribed to the Road Fund, motor vehicle owners, owners of 20-ton and 30-ton trucks who pay fabulous taxes, make up this huge Road Fund. We see people being killed on roads which are incapable of taking the volume of traffic because the money subscribed to the Road Fund is not being spent on road-making and road-mending. Let me return to housing. It is difficult now for people to obtain loans towards the building of private dwellings. Before the general election, outside financiers were helping the position and there was a very good trade in these house-purchase loans. One result of the collapse of this type of building is that the number of people employed in the building industry has fallen by approximately one-third and it is likely to fall further if finance cannot be made available.

In the past we often heard the Government criticising their opponents, when they were in Government, for a small rise in the cost of living, but the rise in the cost of living, according to the recent figures, has been very steep and it has a very widespread effect on the citizens in general. They all have to contribute towards it. The cost of living is bound up with the general system of taxation. The increased prices and costs that follow from taxation deliberately imposed by the Government put a very heavy charge on wages and earnings when people have to meet those higher costs particularly for essentials such as food, clothing and rents.

As a result of the bungling of the Government there are 40,000 tenants of Corporation houses in the city of Dublin who will be required to pay rents higher than the economic cost of the house itself. There are people who went into those houses on a rent of less than £2 a week which was calculated to be the all-in economic cost of providing those houses in which they are living. Now, as a result of the difficult financial situation, those people have been notified that a new system of charges is to be applied. They are to be charged per room, and the net result is that many people who were paying £2 a week maximum, or less, will have their rents increased to £4 10s a week, although they are living in houses the economic cost of which would bring a rent of far less than that. In all spheres of our activity we now find people who are contributing towards the cost of Government mismanagement. We are in such a position now that there seems to be no way out except the imposition of very heavy taxes, but the imposition of those taxes brings higher costs and makes conditions still more difficult for the people.

In this Budget I see that it is proposed to apply a dance tax of ten per cent on the profits of dancehall proprietors. Apparently they have no further political prestige so far as Fianna Fáil are concerned. We remember the famous letter: "Dear Miss Morris," from the Taoiseach, telling her that the dance tax at that time was deplorable, and that if elected the Fianna Fáil Party would remove it. Now a tax of ten per cent is to be imposed because, apparently, their votes are either no longer available to, or no longer required by, the Fianna Fáil Party.

All these costs have also put up the local rates, the rates being paid on agricultural land, on commercial premises and on private houses. Who could ever have imagined in the past that people would be paying rates of £3 in the £ in respect of their property, and I believe they are up to £4 in the £ in some areas down the country? That is a fabulous tax.

These very high rates include the cost of a number of services, and the most costly service at present is the health service. We all remember that when Senator Dr. Ryan was Minister for Finance and he was bringing in the health services, he gave an undertaking and advanced the argument that the health service which he proposed to bring in would not involve more than 1/6 in the £. Instead of that there are very few ratepayers who are now paying less than 30/- in the £ towards the cost of the health services. All this adds up to political twisting by the Government. They change from one thing to another, not for the benefit of the nation, but for the benefit of the Party. They have dropped policies and they have adopted policies, all the time keeping an eye on whether the Party would benefit from those policies and whether they would get extra votes from those policies.

Last year we were to have had local elections but it did not suit Fianna Fáil to have them so they were postponed. This year it did not suit Fianna Fáil to have the local elections and they were postponed again. Now we understand that the Minister for Local Government is bringing in a Bill which will compel himself and his Party to have county council and corporation elections next year. These corporations and county councils are so long in operation now that many people have forgotten when the last local elections took place.

It is this kind of manipulation to which the Fianna Fáil Party have lent themselves for so long that has brought the country to the stage where there is now a complete lack of confidence in the minds of the people, where there is a gloomy outlook, and where we can see no prospect of remedying the situation. We are told that if we suffer on and bear it until 1968 there may be a turn for the better. Then, again, of course, Fianna Fáil will be getting ready for another general election. In the meantime it is difficult to understand why the Fianna Fáil Party will not realise that there is more at stake than their Party, that the nation is at stake at present, and the citizens of the country.

We have a bank strike in progress at the moment which has caused a good deal of inconvenience to the commercial community. Apparently no effort has been made by the Government to bring about a settlement one way or the other. They have just left the proprietors and the staffs of the banks to fight it out between themselves. Surely a banking service must be regarded as a national service. There is no State bank in this country in which the people could have accounts and conduct their business. There are State banks in some other countries and people have an account in a commercial bank and in the State bank. People here have no option but to transact business with the commercial banks and, realising that, the Government should have taken action to ensure that a banking service would be available to the people. Instead, apparently, the Government carried on as if there were no bank strike in progress or that it did not mean anything to the people of the country.

It is causing considerable losses in some businesses. Business in certain large commercial concerns in Dublin has dropped considerably, and that can be traced directly to the inaction of the Government in relation to the bank strike which is in progress and also in relation to a number of other stoppages which exist at the present time. They are causing great hardship to families who are involved in these stoppages, considerable hardships, and they are leaving some of the businesses actually in jeopardy which, of course, will result in the long run in a further drop in the number of employed people here. If we do have a drop in the number of employed people we can expect that it will be necessary for the Minister for Finance to increase taxation and take from the people a greater proportion of their earnings than they are subscribing at the present time.

I wish at the outset to refer to the motion standing in my name and that of Senator Brosnahan. This was an effort by us to get this highly important report discussed calmly and objectively in Seanad Éireann, and discussed while it was yet relevant and fresh in the minds of the people. While I must, indeed, pay tribute to the handling of business by Seanad Éireann during this term—more time was made available for debates and for motions—it is a pity that it was not possible to get as far as this highly important motion until now.

A great deal of what is in the report has changed somewhat, or its prognostications have not really been borne out, unfortunately. However, it is better late than never, so we can get to this report, and, in getting to it, we must pay tribute to the great work done by the NIEC. But it is fantasic to think that in a country in which our whole livelihood and future depend on agriculture such a body is without a solitary representative of the agricultural organisations. Indeed, not one of the members, as far as I can make out, is in any way associated with agriculture or its problems. That is a shocking condemnation of the lopsided manner in which this highly important committee is allowed to function and continue to function.

I appeal to the Minister, if we do nothing else in this debate, to impress on the Government the urgency of ensuring that members are added to this body representing the agricultural point of view. At the same time, they should ensure that experts in the field of agriculture are added to it. I should like to see a man like the Secretary of An Bord Bainne on such a body. Indeed, one would think that he should be ex officio a member of such a body. We have some very celebrated economists in the country who are devoted to what is regarded as the cinderella of economics, the economics of agriculture.

If the Minister wants the names of these men I shall be glad to give them. They know the problems of the industry and know the contribution they could make to our welfare, and it is high time they were put on this body.

The agricultural organisations were invited to send representatives. It was open to them to do so.

The Minister does not have to invite organisations. There are celebrated economists within the university colleges who are devoted to agriculture.

The Minister might also bear in mind that the Secretary of An Bord Bainne makes an important contribution to the economy. He does so with such distinction that his addition to this body would increase its effectiveness. This Committee has made a great impact on the Government and on the public. In fact, I think Deputy Declan Costello quite rightly pointed out last week in his speech that the centre of power and discussion is moving out of the Dáil and the Seanad into such bodies. That is unfortunate. It is something that should be remedied and at a later stage in my contribution I hope to return to the dire position in which we find ourselves at present. I appeal to the Minister to modernise both Houses of the Oireachtas and the committee system so that we can make our contribution towards solving some of the present difficulties.

I take it that most Members have studied the report fairly extensively and are familiar with the many newspaper articles and other comments that have been made on it. Suffice it to say that the report does diagnose what happened here since 1960. It shows that we are becoming increasingly less competitive, and each section has been trying to get more and more of the national cake rather than concentrate on enlarging the national cake. Personal expenditure is increasing at a faster rate than our individual output. Consequently, our products are becoming less and less competitive and the balance of trade, as the figures given show, is forecast at £50 million for 1965.

There is some ground for hoping that that may be a slight overestimation. It is an alarming figure. Alarming as well is the figure given for the fall in our external reserves which are going down faster. Then, again, personal savings are falling. While we are conscious of the work done by the Savings Committee, we are also conscious of the fact that there has been no real novel approach to savings in this country over the past 10 years.

It is always the same exhortation and there is no new thinking on the part of the Government to tap additional sources of savings. Above all, there is no new thinking on tapping the savings of the younger people in the age group, say, between 17 and marriage age, 25 years. No real appeal is made to that group and no real incentive given to them to save and thereby lay aside a deposit on their future homes. I do not want to go into that at length here, because I went into many aspects of it in the debate on the Housing Bill, but I would refer the Minister to some suggestions on that which largely follow from what is functioning successfully in Germany at present.

We have the reason given for this— the British surcharge. Yes, but on the other hand that has sparked off the Buy Irish Campaign, which has had a fair amount of success, and to that extent the surcharge was something of a blessing in disguise. I should, indeed, like to have seen that campaign having more success, especially heading as we are, with the British Agreement and later on, as we hope, in the European Economic Community, to a time that is running out on us to get the people aware of the necessity to buy Irish. I should like to see it driven home to our people that the article you may buy may be what keeps your children at home, and especially I should like to see the trade union movement play a much greater part in this Buy Irish Campaign, because, after all, it should be brought home to everyone that the most certain means of keeping their own employment going is to leave as much as possible of their earnings at home at work in the country, in other words, to buy Irish.

We have the unfortunate fact referred to here of the deficit and the necessity for foreign loans to tide over this. Personally, I cannot see any satisfactory explanation for the extraordinary difficulty we seem to be experiencing in raising what are relatively small loans internationally. On the other hand, I know an industry in Cork which raised in New York a sum which was almost comparable with what the Government were seeking. That firm got it and our Government did not. That is a serious question, and if we had proper committees in this House we would like to know the reasons for it. It is one that it is not too easy to debate in public. We do not want to raise too many conjectures on it, but if we had a finance committee attached to this Chamber it is one problem they should really keep at until they finally got the reasons for the extraordinary situation we are in.

Conjecture is not necessary. There is a full statement on the records of the Dáil.

I have seen that but it did not carry conviction to me. I cannot see on the face of it why it is difficult for a country in our position to raise a loan of that kind of just £7 million.

Then we have the fact that investments have decreased considerably. In 1964 we had a rather extraordinary run of investments and, unfortunately, these seem to have decreased considerably in the present year. Unfortunately, too, our very unhappy public relations and our many strikes at the moment have done a good deal to deter investment here. One of our best assets was the stability that we were able to offer. Now, unfortunately, that seems to have deteriorated very markedly, and it is a number one essential to put that right before we can ever again hope to get the volume of outside investment that we had over the last couple of years.

In the NIEC Report they go on to the principles that are necessary to prevent a recurrence of the present recession. Foremost among those they place an incomes policy and the necessity to get public agreement on that and on the differentials between various groups. have dissatisfaction with existing That is really an almost insoluble question, because surely we shall always differentials and efforts to change that, and, while we should strive, I am very doubtful of reaching very much success in this.

That brings me to the necessity for getting down to industrial relations on an all-Party basis. If we value the future of the country and are concerned about it we should take industrial relations out of politics and set up a Joint Committee of both Houses to advise the Minister for Industry and Commerce or the new Minister for Labour in his proposed or projected legislation on industrial relations—advise and help him, and do that on an all-Party basis, because above all in industrial relations you might say that the best is the enemy of the good, as whatever emerges will have to be something that is reasonably certain of widespread acceptance. I would appeal to the Minister to take this out of the arena of Party politics.

One very important principle here, No. 19, is that the decisions about the current level of support for agricultural incomes should be taken and recognised as an integral part of the decisions concerning non-agricultural things. Yet that very important recommendation was violated within the first three months after the report was issued, in that it was obvious to everyone that the agricultural community, and especially the milk producers, had to be given some part in the general increase. It would have been far better if that had been done at Budget time rather than being brought in as a second Budget, and then in a way in which it is likely to create class dissension, in that we had a statement by the Government that the additional taxes on cigarettes and petrol, and especially on cigarettes, were being put on to provide this additional increase for the farming community despite the fact there were many other provisions in the Budget.

In any case, I think it is wrong that tax should be directly associated with taking from one group and giving to the other, unless the tax happens to be one for increased social benefits—in other words an increase in old age pensions or such social benefits. Then, it would be a right and proper gesture that the tax that would actually be contributed should and could be identified to the general public because surely that is the type of contribution which no person able to contribute would hesitate about.

The NIEC Report goes on then to the necessity for getting proper priorities for capital expenditure and for social investment. That goes without saying. We all recognise the need for this. It is merely a question, in all cases, of how the priorities can be arranged. Finally, the report says that action is necessary in the field of credit policy. We have had such action over the past six months. Some of it may have been a little over-drastic but it has shown the necessity for a credit policy which will act as a deflationary measure. That has been achieved to some extent.

Before passing on from the credit policy—to which I shall come back later—I want to say that by and large the whole impact of this report lacks spirit. Perhaps the spirit may not be for this committee to provide but certainly it is the duty of the Government and public leaders in general to try to provide this spirit because when we examine the events of the past four years we find that our present difficulties are largely due to a great deal of exaggerated accounts, promises and so on, especially from Government Ministers. In other words, intoxicated by the success of the First Programme for Economic Expansion, the many spokesmen—not necessarily Ministers, there were many spokesmen from organisations and so on — allowed simple arithmetic to run away with them. They thought that all you needed for planning and success was simply to get the figures done. Once you had the figures done, you set a course at four per cent expansion in gross national income and that the future almost took care of itself. In fact, I can recall one speaker who really allowed his fancy to run away with him. He projected the straight line of economic expansion so far that he felt that in 1976 we would draw level with England and in 1978 draw level with the United States. That is the kind of nonsensical use of statistics and planning which brings both of these into disrepute.

All during that period the emphasis shifted completely to this question of gross national product and no longer were you to talk about employment figures or emigration. I found myself on many occasions pointing out the failure to increase employment numbers and found I was regarded as being out of step with the modern approach to the period. The modern approach was that employment and all the rest will look after themselves; all you have got to do is get up the gross national product. By that means, we focussed everything on the material, on the individual, what he was going to get and not what he was providing for his brothers or the new jobs he was helping to create in the country. No, it was purely selfish and I believe it is that spirit that has left us where we are today. It was a spirit which was totally out of tune with our national spirit which always responded best when called upon for sacrifice. Here what was being appealed to was just pure greed—the individual and not the community. If you look back over the past four years or so you will find that is correct; that in no case was there an appeal to genuine patriotism or to do something for somebody else. It was all so that you got your four per cent and "I am all right, Jack, let the others take care of themselves." If we can profit by this lesson and return again to the traditional Irish leadership and the traditional Irish approach to patriotism and to national development then, perhaps, we may be able to resume our onward march.

At one stage one felt it meant that the economists had taken over completely. I have a high regard for the work done by economists and the great guidance they can give, but economics, like everything else, should be kept in its place. It is only a part of the whole man, and in fact, a small part of that man. Our greatness here could never be measured in economic terms. The contribution of our nation and our people to the world is not capable of being measured in economic terms. It is a contribution to the spirit and uplift of the world and that is what we need also because we have got to return to value the non-material things we have completely disregarded over the past four or five years.

This was brought home very forcibly again to me during a recent visit to the United States when, in New York, you see the struggle for existence. It is not an existence. The people there in all walks of life, whether workers, professional people or whatever they are, get much more real wages than we get here but you have got to take the whole life into account. Surely wages are for the purpose of enabling you to live a full life. But when you see people, whether workers, professionals or others, in New York crowded like cattle into trains for at least an hour's travel morning and evening to and from their place of employment you begin to value what we have got here where none of our people are called upon to travel more than an average of ten to fifteen minutes either way. Yet, at no time in any comparison, have we taken account of these advantages. Again, you must take the whole picture. Our seaside resorts are practically all within an hour's easy run whereas in the industrial centres of England as well as America to get to such beaches is a luxury which costs real money. What is the fresh air of our countryside worth compared with the smog-laden air of the large industrial cities? I suggest that there is a need to stress those values very much so that our people should become aware of them. In other words, money is not everything.

When it comes to rearing a family and being responsible for that family I consider they should grow up as proper citizens. It is necessary to contrast the difficulties of rearing a family in England or the USA with rearing a family here. Anybody who has experience of that or knows anything about it would certainly not voluntarily take a family out of their environment here and try to raise that family in England or America. Those are the advantages we have got here and those are the things which are completely ignored.

We talk about the Second Programme, straight line projects, the GNP and what have you. I suggest we must return to those real values and to a realisation that what is wrong with this country at the moment is simply a lack of work. That goes in practically all circles. If you could get a 10 per cent increase in output from everyone in the country things would be vastly improved in four to five years. It has become rather old-fashioned in the last few years of moderism to appeal to such virtues or to ask for increased work. The general attitude seems to be that we should be able to plan and develop the country without work.

I suggest that a lead should be given by the Government to its Parliamentary committees. It is high time the Government decided that the archaic nineteenth-century type of institution which we get here is not fit for the twentieth century. It is high time it was recognised as being an intermediary between the people and their Civil Service and that we can no longer tolerate the situation in which the Minister has to stand between the people and the civil servants. There will have to be discussions across the table and by that means the Dáil and the Seanad can forge a very vital link and exercise a vital interest in the course of our affairs. In this context, at the present time, we should try to get away from playing politics on the national situation. It is far too serious for that. There is a crisis and I should like to see as many aspects of that crisis as possible met on an all-Party basis, recognising that we all have our part to play. I cannot but be struck by some of the comments on both sides of the House which tend to suggest that we are in a situation broadly the same as that of 1957. Our Minister for Finance today is doing the best he can to cope with this situation. He is fully advised by the best advice which the Civil Service can give him. This advice is exactly the same type of advice as the Minister for Finance in 1957 got from the Department of Finance.

I need not go further into the Report of the NIEC except again to stress that to my knowledge not one signatory of that report would himself claim to have any real knowledge of agriculture and its problems. That, of course, must make any effort to plan the whole economy almost farcical. Within limitations, a good deal has been done, but surely, outside cloud cuckoo-land, no Government would plan on such a basis. It needs at least the voice of six members fully specialised in agriculture and its problems. Some of such members may be representatives of farmers' organisations but others should be added for their absolute specialist knowledge of agriculture and its problems and the contribution agriculture can make to our economy.

To return to the Finance Bill in general, particularly to the Minister's plea when he was asked in the Dáil and this House what went wrong in a period of less than a year. We have gone from glowing reports that everything was wonderful, that everything was directly on target, to the present position. I have already given some views on the un-Irish attitude to the whole question of national development in the sense of absolute concentration on economic gain and appeals to the individual greed of our citizens rather than asking them to make contributions so that their children or their neighbour's might be able to find employment here rather than take the emigrant ship.

I suggest we should return to a line that will appeal to the patriotism of our people and get sacrifice and self-denial from them to encourage them to work for the nation. What has gone wrong, in so far as the items can be listed? I put at the head of all this the status increases. It is probably true that certain salaries had got out of line but it is unfortunate that it has boomeranged. This is one of the greatest factors in our present situation of unrest.

The second factor is the failure of the Government, and successive Governments, to control these creations— our semi-State bodies—because now the country runs for them rather than their running for the country. They are absolutely out of control at the moment, and were never really subject to any type of effective Parliamentary control. It seems very strange to find a situation developing in the recent ESB business, where you have a semi-State body which is supposed to belong to the people—with no wicked capitalist in any way associated with it; purely of the State and of the people—and yet the right to strike against them is conceded. That has been fundamentally wrong from the start.

If bodies are of the State and of the people they should hold that status and like the Civil Service they should have their arbitration machinery and the findings should be binding on both sides. In the long run—and you need not take such a long run at it— both sides in this type of dispute lose, both the workers and the employers. Who are the employers? The State are, we are. We all lose. Therefore, this is a nonsensical situation which should not be allowed to exist and which calls for immediate remedy. How can it be done quickly? This situation which has developed should have been foreseen from the start.

We appoint boards to run these semi-State bodies. I have been on some of them and I can speak with authority. There is not the same sense of personal involvement as there is in the case of directors of firms because if you are acting on a State board anything you give is not coming out of your own pocket. Therefore, the whole approach is, give, give, give.

Is that why the semi-State undertakings have been so generous?

That is why they have been so ineffective. I am criticising the whole system. Control of the semi-State bodies has broken down. It needs to be co-ordinated very closely and kept in step by means of an effective Parliamentary committee. The Minister has not had sufficient co-ordination. We have had perfect proof of that. This could probably be the most important committee associated with the Oireachtas—a committee which would ensure that these undertakings of the people and belonging to the people functioned together according to a pattern that would be for the general welfare, and that there would be no question of leap-frogging or playing off one against the other, which is the situation we have been led into with increasing frequency in recent times.

There is also the question of the technicians versus the white collar workers and so on. I can see a great deal of merit in a claim which was made recently.

My contention is that there should be machinery to prevent the necessity for strikes. In that way they would not be there. Undoubtedly, I can see a case. I think, by and large, the gap between the white collar worker and the technician is greater here than in any other country. That is something the new Minister for Labour would want to take as top priority and, indeed, the Government as well should get the actual facts and figures on this from other countries and adopt a policy on it. In fact, it will be the keystone in relation to any incomes policy that is adopted. An incomes policy that does not resolve that in accordance with modern development is not worthy to be called an incomes policy.

It seems to me that there is a great deal of misplaced sympathy or, shall I say, thinking in regard to this question of equality of educational opportunities, in so far as it is felt that if a young person has the ability to become a white collar worker it is somehow wrong if he does not go on that line and stays in a line which develops his hands and his skill, in other words, develops along the lines of the technician. That thinking is all wrong. What is wrong is that educational opportunities are being confused with financial opportunities. In the case of young men who, whether by way of academic studies or by way of technical education and apprenticeship, devote their lives up to the age of say, 20 or 21, to training for future jobs, there should be equal opportunities.

That is what is missing here and what is creating a great deal of difficulty. Also, our whole industrial development is being slowed down by the absence of technicians. The Engineers Association have been crying out about this problem for the past ten years, pointing out that compared with other countries we have a great scarcity of technicians and, indeed, one of the leaders of the Shannon Industrial Estate made very forthright comments on that, and the Director of EI made strong comment on this particular shortage a year ago when addressing the Engineers Association and his address was conveyed to the Government for action. So far, there does not seem to have been any action taken by the Government. It was found we had, comparatively speaking, a fair number of technologists but to get the full benefit from our technologists we had not the accompanying technicians to work in a team with the technologists. The result is that many of our technologists, the people with degrees, and members of some of the institutions of technology, are not being used to full advantage in our industrial complexes. They are doing work that could be done at least as effectively by people less highly trained— people in the technician grade. I commend to the Minister that part of our failure rests there.

Another great neglect is our failure to modernise social conditions in agriculture. In fact, this is the root cause of the flight from the land. I have condemned the Second Programme again and again in this House for its absolutely suicidal acceptance of a flight of 6,500 a year from the land when we have fewer agricultural workers per thousand arable acres than any country in Western Europe. Yet, our planning has been based on the acceptance of this flight of 6,500 people and at present it is up to 10,000. Consequently, a burden has been thrown on our industrial expansion which it has shown it is completely unable to carry. It has the burden of taking up the loss from agriculture as well as providing additional jobs. Indeed, what is happening is that industry is not even capable of taking up the losses from agriculture.

If we are to progress, the losses from agriculture have to be stopped and jobs have to be found in agriculture. There is no need to quote statistics to show that our output is small compared with Denmark but, equally, the number of our workers per thousand acres is small compared with Denmark. In other words, our agriculture is a relatively unworked factory and what is missing is the need to modernise the social conditions on the land. It is not increased prices. In fact, I do not think that increased prices will put any extra number on the land or will cut the flight from the land in any way. What is needed is a modernisation of the social conditions. That is simple. All it means is that the farmer and his workers are now seeking what everyone in the city regards as his inalienable rights. In other words, he is not to go out to work when he is ill.

If you are a worker or a professional person in a factory you do not expect to be sent out when you are ill. Yet, that is precisely what faces every worker on the land. The cows have to be milked whether the farmer has the flu or not. Again, there is the question of getting a day off or a night off. Who will milk the cows? It is within the power of the Government to deal with that easily. Use could be made of the co-operative creameries where they are available; they cover most of the country. Attached to each co-operative centre should be a relief work force with which you could get in touch and arrange for them to come down and milk the cows for a day, a week or a fortnight. Where a farmer is growing old and is no longer able to cope with the problem of milking, he can simply contract with the co-operative to have the milking done. Surely that is a simple matter and a very elementary need of the farming community. There may be no practical experience in this line but all my people are on the land and I have been in close touch with them and I feel that what I have pointed out is the greatest single deterrent to increased production.

It is also responsible for the chopping and changing, people moving in and out of cows and what not. All this shows in a reduction in production. The Minister need only kick this off with an element of subsidy for the first couple of years and after that the scheme should be more self-sufficient. The scheme would provide employment at those centres for men at wages that would be more in line with what they could earn in industry. It seems so simple. Why is it not being done? I think that that is the greatest single necessity at the moment.

Then we have this question of less work and more pay. The Minister has found himself this year in a very unenviable position. He has his commitments and he has to find the money. Everybody is looking for more than he is given, and it is just ordinary simple arithmetic: that the Minister has to put on these increased taxes to find the money. Now it seems to me that there is a complete lack of imagination in the approach to this. It is an approach that does not strive to make the economy buoyant, to provide more work and by that means get more revenue to foot the Minister's bill. I believe that the Minister should try to get those idle factories working again at least on Saturday morning if not on Saturday afternoon. That could be done quite simply by giving a certain amount of tax relief on money earned on overtime in certain categories.

Everybody would be on overtime then.

It would be very cheap production, because if you take a factory——

We would have a five hour week.

——all the equipment is there and has to be paid for. It is depreciating whether it is in use or not. Therefore, if the Minister enabled a factory to operate on an overtime rate of time and a quarter and he gave certain tax concessions, not many, he would get some taxes. Such a scheme would be attractive to the workers and would enable them to earn the increased taxes they have to pay. The result would be more production. If the people concerned worked an additional half day their personal consumption requirements would not go up. They would not eat any more because of this, but this is the type of marginal contribution that really makes a difference to an economy.

In this regard the Minister might expect the Civil Service to set a headline by lengthening their working hours on the same basis. Let there be no mistake about this. There is one, and only one, thing that will get our economy back on the rails and that is increased work by everybody. When I speak of increased work I am in a fairly strong position because our universities can, in one sense, take a legitimate pride in that they are doing twice the job their corresponding numbers in Northern Ireland or in Great Britain do. It takes twice as many staff members to turn out 100 graduates in Northern Ireland or in England as it takes here; yet our graduates are capable, and compare with the best anywhere. That is a situation that we have been trying to remedy, that we do need increased numbers, yet it does show that at least as a section of the community—no doubt there are many others—we are pulling our weight judged by the only standard you can use, the international standard of achievement and production.

I know that the Minister and his colleagues are certainly pulling their weight, but I do think that a lead needs to be given by the Civil Service as a whole. We in the universities are being forced to adopt a five day week, but we are resisting it as long as we can because we cannot afford to sacrifice the time, the four hours from nine to one on Saturday mornings, that would be available for lectures and other work. Let us get back to work. In making this appeal to get back to work I do so in the knowledge of the political climate as I see it here. I see this as an Indepedent, not that I claim any merit whatsoever for being an Independent. It just happens to be the position in which I look at it from here. When I look to the next election I can only see a national government emerging from it. Therefore, why not get down to the job immediately and do as many things as possible on a national basis?

We come then to another difficulty that I have already touched on—our failure in industrial relations. This is highlighted by the absolute inactivity of the Government in the question of the bank strike. The Government acted with commendable swiftness in the case of the Electricity Supply Board stoppage, but their inactivity in the present crisis is equally conspicuous. I say a plague on both their houses, both the officials and the Joint Standing Committee of the banks, for holding the whole country up to ransom while they go along at their own leisurely seventeenth century pace of negotiations, meeting about twice a week and apparently giving time to cool off in between. I believe that the country cannot afford this type of leisurely approach and that there should be legislation that would penalise both sides in this dispute. I should like to see some of the tax reliefs available to the banks in the form of corporation profits tax being hit, and hit heavily, when they are on a strike for more than two weeks in any one year. Likewise, I should like to see the employees through earned income allowances being heavily hit in the same way. If there are going to be strikes we at least have to ensure that the negotiators work over the week-end and that they do not adjourn from Tuesday to Thursday in their quest for a solution. There should be some penalty to ensure that they get on with the job urgently. As it is untold damage has been done to the economy by this business. It brings home to us the frightful monopoly we have created by recently adding the National Bank of Ireland to the Bank of Ireland so that one bank virtually controls the whole country. We have one monopoly meeting another monopoly, and we, the ordinary citizens, suffer in such a conflict. It is about time that the Government took courage and showed that they can deal with a bank strike just as efficiently and as quickly as they dealt with the other case.

Debate adjourned.
Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7.15 p.m.