Vote on Account for Financial Year commencing on 1st April, 1926 (resumed).
Motion by the Minister for Finance:
"That a sum not exceeding £8,685,048 be granted on account for or towards defraying the charges that will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1927, for certain public services."
Amendment by Deputy Heffernan:—
"To reduce the Vote on Account by £2,685,048."
(Debate resumed.)

Before the adjournment last night I was dealing with a fact which I think is of the utmost importance when considering the questions that were raised by Deputies Heffernan and O'Mara in their speeches (apart from the questions raised in the motions they have on the Order Paper), as to the effect on agriculture and industry of the amount of taxation and the conclusions that were drawn that the present depression in both agriculture and industry arose out of, and were caused by, the existing amount of taxation. I was pointing to the fact that the trouble in regard to agriculture seemed to me to be very much deeper in its causes and would consequently require radical remedies.

In 1925 the area of ploughed land throughout Ireland was the lowest of any year since 1847, whatever may have been the position prior to that year. There has been a continuous decline up to 1914 in the area under the plough since the 'fifties, and it was only during the European war, under a certain stimulus of high prices and also the stimulus of compulsory tillage, that the area of ploughed land was increased. Since 1918 there has been a new period of decline, leading to the minimum of 2,154,000 acres for the whole country in 1925.

When it is borne in mind that general agreement is reached amongst experts that ordinary arable land which is tilled produces two-and-a-half to three times—speaking very moderately —the amount of food that the same land under grass would produce, we can see that the causes of the decline of wealth in the country are not temporary, and are not due to local and immediate circumstances; the decline of wealth is due to some deep-seated causes which have been operating for many years. I urge that it is necessary to deal with this problem, having regard to the fact that the causes of the decline in gross national production from the land are not temporary but are deep-seated, and that it must be dealt with radically.

I think that the representatives of the farmers are very short-sighted when they think only in terms of prices that are obtained for produce in England and when they think of the present incidence of taxation as the effective cause of any present depression in agriculture. My complaint with the present agitation, and with the speeches made on the matter—not that one is satisfied that every penny raised is well spent and that the utmost economy is already arrived at—is that the agitation is tending to divert people's minds in the wrong direction in looking for the cause in taxation. It is not by any means the cause, and, no matter how much effect the agitation would have upon expenditure, it is not going to bring about the change, especially in agricultural conditions, that is sought for.

Deputy Heffernan said it was necessary to give some inducement to farmers to produce more from the land. I am not going to controvert that. We know, as a matter of fact, that in practice some inducement may be required, and it was the inducement, during the war, of high prices for agricultural produce which led to the increased productivity of the soil. What do Deputy Heffernan and others who think with him expect will come out of the present situation in England in regard to prices? They are inclined to lay stress upon the condition of the English market and the supplying of the English market. They are supported in that view by nearly every public writer, who says the only market is the English market.

It should be borne in mind that the trend of public opinion in England— predominant public opinion—is to reduce prices of agricultural produce. If that becomes effective we will have to face the possibility that prices in the English market are going to be lower, not higher, and any decline in total taxation which may come about by a little economy here and a little cut there is not going to have any appreciable effect upon the agricultural producer's market. The prices in England may become lower and, if they do, how is any reduction in taxation here that is appreciable going to remedy the situation?

I would like Deputy Heffernan and others to consider the possibility and the desirability of increasing the home market for agricultural produce and to seek out ways and means of securing that increase. I find that in the year 1925, there were imports of farm produce, outside wheat and flour, to the extent of six million pounds worth.

Outside wheat and flour?

Yes, for produce other than wheat, flour or maize. I am speaking mainly of bacon, butter, cheese, eggs, lard, barley, oats, oat products, malt, potatoes and other vegetables. The amount came to £5,751,000. There is an Irish market which is supplied from outside. There is another market waiting, or there is a market which should be waiting—the demand, which is not effective at the moment, of, say, three or four hundred thousand people for agricultural produce. Those people cannot buy except in very small quantities, and then only of the cheapest possible kind, because they are unemployed. If we were to take the families whose bread-winners are unemployed and the families whose bread-winners are under-employed, we would find that the absence of purchasing power amongst these families constitutes the loss of a very big market for Irish agriculturists in this country.

Everybody would be delighted if we were to find some new country whose demand for foodstuffs would be wholly directed to Ireland; people would almost think we had found a gold mine. There is here a potential demand from three or four hundred thousand people, including bread-winners and their families, waiting for supplies, in addition to the large number of people who are buying imported agricultural produce. I would ask the Deputies on the Farmers' benches to consider whether it is not to their advantage to assist in any movement which will put these unemployed and under-employed men in work in the towns and also to secure for those who are already employed continuance of fair wages even though—you have the right to demand it, I admit—we impose upon the town dwellers some kind of an obligation to spend the wages they receive in Irish produce.

I put it forward as a proposition to the agriculturists that their interests lie in creating, or assisting to create, amongst the townsmen in Ireland a market for their own produce. I say it is better to assist in the creation of that market than to rely so much—as they are now relying—upon extensions of a market in England.

The question immediately arises as to how this potential demand of unemployed town workers is going to be made effective. While I am prepared to commend any efforts made that promise success—such as the efforts that have been made in recent legislation to create new industries and assist existing industries—my fault with the present estimates lies in this, that there is no sign that the Government has set itself to the task of putting unemployed men on works of utility so that they may earn wages out of which they can buy Irish agricultural produce. It remains for the Irish agriculturist to assist in endeavouring to promote industries in the towns, but it is for those who are responsible for the government of the country to ensure that those people who are being deprived of direct access to the means of life shall have some kind of employment offered and guaranteed. The policy that has been entered upon by the Government in regard to employment and in regard to wages is a policy that cuts right to the roots of agricultural prosperity in Ireland, in so far as that prosperity depends upon having an Irish market.

It is disastrous to Irish agriculture that townsmen—the customers of the farmer—should be cut down to the barest minimum and be thus deprived of an opportunity, however they might desire it, to buy the bacon, butter, eggs and poultry which the small farmers of the country would produce. You are forcing, by a policy of low wages, the recipient of low wages to look for the poorest fodder and not the best quality of farm produce. It is because I think that the policy of the Government, so far as it has been exhibited, is a policy which is going to assist the continuous decline of agriculture in respect to the home market and is going to assist in the emigration programme that has been the cause of so much grief, and it is because there is no sign in the estimates that the Government is rising to its responsibilities in respect to employment or in respect to the maintenance of manhood among unemployed people, that I am prepared to support any proposition, whether it be a reduction of £2,000,000 or a reduction of £100, which will show the country that the Dáil is not satisfied with the fiscal policy of the Ministry, in so far as it has been propounded.

If Deputy Heffernan's motion for reduction were carried, it would mean not merely a protest on the part of the Dáil, but it would mean that a future Ministry would have to come to the Dáil at an earlier stage for larger sums. I think that would be a good thing in itself. I believe it is necessary, if the Dáil and the Government are taking into account the necessities of the present situation, that the Government should come before us within the next couple of weeks with propositions which would probably involve the borrowing of large sums of money, directed seriously to productive purposes and to ensure that those who are willing to work and able to work shall be provided with work. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that, when the estimates come forward for detailed consideration, we shall find many opportunities of criticising cases in which economies can be made. I, therefore, promise Deputy Heffernan that, so far as I am personally concerned, I shall be quite pleased to support his amendment. But I again say that the endeavours made by Deputy Heffernan, by Deputy O'Mara, and by others writing and speaking outside, to attribute the present depression to the taxation of the country, is putting the country upon a wrong track and will not lead to the finding of the secret of an improved situation.

One would expect to hear some further arguments advanced in defence of the policy of the Ministry in connection with the Estimates that have been put before the Dáil and the country. Deputy Heffernan's amendment is only putting in words here the opinions that have been expressed by his Party since the election of 1923. In the course of the demand that is being made—not without a good deal of justification—for a reduction in national expenditure, the Farmers' Party are not as loud in their protests and exhortations as they might be if they desired to make political capital out of the policy of the Ministry. I want to make this perfectly clear, because the attitude of some of the Ministers of the Front Bench would lead one to believe that they question our right to criticise here their policy when they make a demand, through us, for money for the services which they have to carry on. We have said little on this subject up to the present, but what we have said we are prepared to repeat in the presence of the Ministers. We give our opinions because of an honest desire to induce the Ministry to adopt that policy of retrenchment which we feel the country requires. We conceive that to be our duty, and what is our duty is also the duty of the Minister for Finance. The Minister has at all times turned down, with very little apology, this demand for a Committee to go through the various Departments, to consider the Government policy, to take stock of the position and to make recommendations that would lead to retrenchment. The Minister may have satisfied himself that this Committee could do very little. He or his advisers may think there is very little room for saving in national expenditure. But neither the Minister nor any other member of the Executive Council nor any Deputy on the Government Benches has said anything to convince us that good would not accrue from the setting up of a Committee such as this. Our suggestion is only putting in concrete form what we believe any Party would be obliged to do if they occupied the position that the Government occupies at present. If the Deputies on these Benches, or on the Labour Benches, were in the position of the Government, they would have to take stock of the position as it is at present. They would have to take stock, too, of the country's capacity and, in the light of that, they would have to say that the country was hardly able to give the money they were demanding. They would be obliged to say: "Our expenditure must be cut down. In what departments can we effect savings or economies without injury to the country's welfare? How are we to set about this work?" I believe that they would find one way, and one way only.

No matter what advice the Minister gets from an inter-departmental inquiry, that advice will not be given from the same point of view as that of the plain man in the street, who has to regard the problem from two angles. He is the man who has to pay for services offered for his benefit. The advice the Minister receives is given from the viewpoint of the man working in a Government office who has an eye to efficiency and who, perhaps, would desire to see things satisfactorily done, regardless of cost. We cannot take up that attitude, and we can see no other way of making a positive effort to effect economies—economies that will not entail dislocation—than the method I have suggested. If this suggestion were adopted, the people of the country would know that, after careful consideration, definite conclusions had been arrived at by men who had set themselves to do a specific work. Nothing, I say, has been urged by the Minister for Finance or by any Minister of the Executive Council, to show why this should not be done. We honestly believe that the task cannot be performed in any other way. I repeat that the demands on the taxpayers are too heavy. The work of a Committee like this will boil itself down, perhaps, mainly to two things. The first point you would be up against would be: "What are the possibilities of reducing the number of officials in Government departments at the present time?" What are the possibilities for carrying on the essential services of the State and at the same time reducing the number of officials necessary to carry on these essential services? What are the possibilities of an alteration in Government policy that would clip off expenditure and effect economies without doing injury to the country's industries at present or in the future? If the Minister could give the House figures as to the number of officials who were transferred under the Treaty in 1921 to the present Government; if he could give the salaries and bonuses that are paid to these officials; if he could give the number of officials appointed since the Treaty and the salaries paid to them, with the figures for each Department, we would then know better where we stood. But at present we and the country are entirely in the dark as to what the possibilities are, either for reducing the number of officials, or the salaries paid to them. This Committee would be put in possession of these facts. As Deputy Heffernan said yesterday, they would have to consider the reorganisation of departments; they would have to consider Government policy and make recommendations. The Minister for Lands and Agriculture says something under his breath. The Minister for Lands and Agriculture knows perfectly well that I am not, and I question if he himself is, in a position to say whether all the officials in his department are necessary, or whether the policy of that department is in every respect a necessity for the advancement of the agricultural industry. The Minister for Lands and Agriculture cannot expect that I can pass judgment as to whether or not his department could be run at a lower cost than at present. I say that if I were through that Department for six months——


Perhaps I had better tell the Deputy what I did say under my breath. I said to the Minister for Industry and Commerce that a commission on the Government policy of all Departments would be a great commission.

The Government is asking approximately £29,000,000 from the country this year. I quite agree that there is a good deal in what Deputy Johnson says, but while we hold, and I believe rightly hold, that the £29,000,000 will come very largely from the agriculturists, these are not the only millions that they will have to pay. There are other millions, millions that cannot be reduced by one single penny. The Minister will admit that the millions for land annuities cannot be reduced by a single penny. The millions in respect of local rates have been reduced in practically every case to the minimum, and they can hardly be reduced by one penny. They have to be paid. We are up against the proposition: can the £29,000,000 that the Government asks for the carrying on of the essential services of the State be reduced? If we consider the plight of the small farmer we have to exclaim that this sum must be reduced, because the people have not got the money and cannot find it. I hold that not alone do the bank deposits show a falling off, not alone does our export trade show a debit balance, but I am perfectly satisfied that two-thirds of the farmers are carrying on, trying to pay their purchase annuities, trying to pay their rates, and trying to pay the national taxation, by depleting their capital. By that I mean the selling off of their cattle and other stock.

I have not the slightest hesitation whatever in saying that not alone are we selling less, but that our reserve or capital is being decreased at a rate that the country cannot estimate. I believe that the position is really so serious that unless stock is taken, unless something is done to call a halt, we will find, after a year or two, at our present rate of progress, that half the farms will not be carrying one-third of the stock that is necessary to make the holdings economic, and that, while the other half may not be in such a bad position, they will be very near it. The Minister for Lands and Agriculture knows quite well what the position is; he knows that thousands of farmers to-day are not able to pay their land purchase annuities and have not a hoof on the land. Other men are paying their annuities by taking perhaps their second last cow to the fair. I am not over-stating the case; I am talking of conditions exactly as I know them. That is really a very serious aspect. It is all right for Deputy Johnson to suggest that a reduction in taxation would not be a remedy for all our ills. I am in thorough agreement with him in that. But when you get the farmer in the position of having always to hand over whatever cash he has to the rate collector, to the Land Commission, to the shopkeeper for his clothes, or for whatever provisions he may require, never having any money in hand to put into his holding, to improve his stock, either in quantity or quality, how can you expect increased productivity? I say without any hesitation whatever that the accumulated misfortunes of the last two or three years have reduced the farmers to the condition that their stocks and capital are depleted, that they see no prospect of being able to restore their stocks, and that their productivity must inevitably become worse than it is at present. If that is the position, what are the prospects for farmers for the next two, three or five years?

What is the connection between that and taxation? I say again that the farmers in the end pay a good deal more than 75 per cent. of the total taxation of the country, either local or national. Will Deputy Johnson name somebody, none of whose taxation is paid by the farmer? Take any man in Dublin. It is agreed that he pays taxation. Where does he get the money to pay it? The man driving a coal car has his taxation paid by his employer, but where does the employer get the money? It is true that he may get it from the doctor, the lawyer, the civil servant, but where do they get it? Every penny that a business man in the town gets comes to him either from the farmers and the country people or from the workers in the town. Suppose it comes from a worker in the town, where does such a worker find it? He may be a worker under the urban council and be paid out of the local rates. He may pass some of his money back to the man who paid the rates, but that man paid the rates from money that was paid to him, and in nine cases out of ten that money has come in from the country.

Where does the country get it?

The man in the country gets it when he labours in the fields, takes his produce to the town or the city, and markets it. You may ask: Where does the man who buys that produce get the money? When you go into it you can trace back every penny to the land. What does all that mean? It means that no matter how you tax the people, whether by means of super-tax, income tax or otherwise, inevitably that tax is pushed back to the people on the land, and the result, the cumulative effect of all this, over the last few years of loss and heavy local and national taxation, is that the farmers to-day are reduced to the position that they have no resources, no reserves, to fall back on. Many of them have very little credit; their productivity is going down, and the prospects for the present and for the next few years are so serious for them that unless a radical change is made in the administration of the country's affairs, unless a great number of people are prepared to come down to a standard of living lower than that which they enjoy at present, and have enjoyed for at least a few years past, the difficulties that this country will be faced with in carrying on and paying its way will be so great, so prodigious, that the farmers will have to give way in the markets that they hold and will be driven out of them, because the costs of production for them will be so high that they will not be able to compete and hold their own. They will lose their present customers; they will not have anyone else to fall back on, and where will they and the country stand? Deputy Johnson made the point that he thinks the position would be improved for the farmers of the country by putting the 300,000 people unemployed in a position to buy. I think that was the number the Deputy gave us.

That includes families.

I agree, that if that number were in a position to buy our position might be better. I put it to the Deputy, however, that what we are most concerned with at the present time is to get a price for our products that will leave us some margin to pay the demands made upon us—something that will enable our farmers and their families to live and carry on. If we are to hold the markets that we have at the present time, I believe that first of all we must increase the quantity and the quality of our products, and secondly, that we must reduce the cost of production. These are the only means by which we can hope to hold either the home or the foreign market. I have no hesitation in saying that if the farmers of this country were putting on the market here a commodity that was dearer and not as good as one that came from another country, and as a result that the people here demanded the foreign product, they would be justified in their demand so long as the farmers here were not prepared to give them as good and as cheap an article. We are going to find it increasingly difficult to meet foreign competition. The only means left to us to meet it are (1) to increase the quantity and quality of our products, and (2) to reduce the cost of production, so that we can sell as cheap, if not cheaper, than the foreigner.

The cost of production to the farmer in this country must always be affected by what he has to pay out. Usually the first demand made on him comes from the local rate collector. Then he has to pay his Land Commission annuities and to provide the necessaries of life for his family. All these charges tend to increase the cost of production for the farmer. He must get the highest price for his products if he is to be in a position to meet the demands of the shopkeepers, of the National Exchequer and the local rate collector. Unless he gets that he will not be able to compete with the foreigner. The cost of production presses so heavily on the farmers of the country at the present time that when they have met all these demands they have nothing left for themselves. That position must be changed and altered. Productivity, as regards quantity and quality, must be increased, but how is that going to be done? If the farmer is not in possession of capital he will not be able to extend his field of operations. At the present time no farmer can increase his supply of stock unless he has capital, and the difficulty of getting capital at the moment is almost insurmountable. The bankers are recognising this difficulty and feel that the land is not a very valuable security.

I maintain that if the farmers of the country are to be in a position to get the credit facilities essential to enable them to increase their production, to extend their operations so as to improve the standard of the produce they have to sell, then there must be a reduction in national taxation. We recognise that will not do everything, but at any rate we feel that a reduction in national taxation will do a great deal to relieve the small farmers of the country. There is an impression in the minds of the people, that little thought is given to the plight they are in or to their inability to pay. They are disheartened and discouraged by that feeling. They feel that there is a moral obligation on the part of the Government to give evidence itself that it has confidence in the future of the country, that it is prepared to set an example itself by coming down to a lower standard of living, and that it will try to carry on with a smaller sum of money than is asked for now. If the Government is prepared to do that, then it will make people understand, as Deputy Heffernan said yesterday, that if they make an effort to grow more, to sell more, and to have more cash, it is not all going to be collected off them in taxation. That is the feeling that is in the country, and it is up to the Government to give evidence itself of a change of mind. If the Government is not prepared to do that, but rather intends to go through with this Estimate, then it occurs to me that perhaps there is some political motive in it: that as the Minister for Industry and Commerce said yesterday, they feel they will not require until later on all the money they are now asking, and will have a little nest egg for next year, near the time of the general election.

That is where you come in.

No, they will come in then. They are keeping this in reserve. Next year they will be able to go to the country, after putting it in a pleasant mood by giving us the grandest Budget that it was possible for any Government to conceive. I would be nearly prepared to make a prediction in regard to that.

You may be the next Government.

The policy of the Ministry in regard to expenditure at the present time is such that they certainly must be out of touch with the people of the country and their capacity to pay. If they were in touch with the needs of the people, I suggest they would have made a real effort to bring about a reduction in national expenditure. That policy has not been adopted. We are convinced that the only way in which a reduction can be brought about is by the appointment of a committee that will make a survey of the position as they find it. Such a committee could do what Deputies could not do.

Speak for yourself as to what Deputies can do.

I am speaking for Deputies on these benches. What I have said would not, I think, be out of place as regards a great number of the silent members behind the Government front line trenches. I doubt whether they are prepared to counsel as to what way things could be retrenched. The Minister for Industry and Commerce knows quite well that a man looking at a house from the outside and across a wall cannot give a very good description of what the house may be like inside, or as to the alterations that might be made inside to make it a more satisfactory residence.

The Deputy has been put inside this House where he can get the information he has asked for.

Let me say this for the very clever and very brilliant young Minister, that he is not always very courteous when information is required or asked of himself. He is not at all times very encouraging to Deputies when they seek information.

When they make particular statements as to how it is going to be used.

The Minister knows as well as I do that when a Deputy comes to the House and puts a question, the Minister ought to try and give him information and not try to give an answer and avoid giving the information.

If this is alluding to me, personally, I have always given information except on one occasion when I definitely stated—I made my point quite clear without any attempt at concealment—that I was not going to give certain information for two reasons which I stated, and I let that be raised afterwards on the adjournment.

The Minister, of course, must defend his position, and I quite recognise that.

Do you recognise that it has been defended?

I recognise that the Minister must defend his position, and he has a difficult position to defend at the moment.

Not a bit. I am prepared to argue this as long as the Ceann Comhairle allows.

We are putting forward what is a candid proposition. We say frankly to the Ministry that we can see no harm whatever would be done by the setting up of this Committee. I do not want to define now what the personnel of that Committee should be or where it could be found. I am not going to suggest that there is anything in the running of Government departments that any one of the Ministers do not want to throw the light of day on. But let me say this, that their attitude on this would convince one that there is something that they do want to keep from the light of day.

The Deputy asked for certain figures to-day for the first time. These figures can be given, but it may take some time to get them out. No Committee is required to get the figures that the Deputy has asked for.

That is one point.

That is the only point the Deputy referred to, except to determine policy. I suggest that is the obligation not merely of a new Government but of a new Dáil. No Committee can be given that power.

And a new form of Government.

That is your point.

Is there any other point in it?

Why did not the Minister make a speech?

Deputy Baxter really cannot be subjected to cross-examination.

I just want to say finally that our action in this matter is consistent with our attitude since we came here after 1923. When we came in here we put the point that if there was to be a 10 per cent. reduction in certain Votes, the 10 per cent. reduction should be made all round, even in the Deputies' allowances. We are not satisfied with the Estimate the Minister for Finance has put before us. We do not feel that the capacity of the country to bear it, at the present time, is such as would give us confidence in supporting it. We are asking for a reduction of that Vote and that a Committee be set up to go into the Government offices and see how many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of the officials can be lopped off, and what can be done in regard to internal alteration of Government policy, so as to make the running of the Government machine less expensive to the country than it is at the present time. We feel that that is not an unfair demand, and we believe that if the Minister agreed with it he would be putting himself right with this House and with the country, that he would be making it clear to the people that he was prepared to let a Committee go into the Government offices to see how administration is carried on. If, as he said yesterday, men want to fool them, and if nothing comes of it, he will have a share in the thanks. But his attitude at the present time is not one that would give anyone confidence in supporting the Estimate he has put before the Dáil.

I have not much fault to find with Deputy Baxter's diagnosis of the position when he says what is wanted, in the first place, is improvement in quality and increased production, and what is wanted secondly is a lowering of the overhead expenses of the farmers. That is a fair enough diagnosis of the position. I am glad he put the first thing first, because this matter of improvement in quality and increase in quantity is a first necessity. I will agree with him also, whether it be a second or a third, or a fourth consideration, that there is wanting a lowering of the overhead expenses of the farmers. We are at one there. I will make any concession he likes in regard to taxation. I will take taxation as part of the farmers' overhead expenses. I will agree with him for the sake of argument. A good many factors go to make up the farmer's overhead expenses, and taxation is one of them. I also agree with him that the farmer is in as bad a position as he says, that thousands of farms are unstocked, and that there is no money to stock them, that the farmer is dispirited, and suffering from all the ills he says he is suffering from at the moment. I will not go into questions of degree. I will agree with everything Deputy Heffernan and Deputy Baxter stated about the condition of the farmer, if only for the purpose of clearing the ground. Having agreed with that, and that it would be useful to reduce taxation, I wish to point out to the Dáil that from start to finish of their long speeches, we did not get one single suggestion from either Deputy Heffernan or Deputy Baxter as to where or how or in what direction taxation should be reduced.

Deputy Cooper, in his speech on these Estimates, at least attempted to face the situation. He said yesterday that it is perfectly obvious to anyone who examined the Estimates that any decreases that could possibly take place in general taxation as a result of lowering the salaries of senior officers of departments would be infinitesimal as compared with the total taxation. I think he suggested £40,000 or £50,000. I am not quite sure of that.

I do not think I said infinitesimal, but I did say not more than £50,000.


That is what I thought. I do not want to go into what the consequences would be of employing second-rate men for first-rate posts. He did make that point, and I understood that Deputy Heffernan agreed with him to some extent that possibly the cutting of salaries would have very small effect compared with what is actually needed. I do not know, though I have listened very carefully to Deputy Baxter's speech, whether that is his point also. But this I do know, that from start to finish of a long speech, in which at least he gave me the impression, and I think he gave the Dáil the impression, that he was very much impressed with the position of the farmers and the necessity of relieving the farmers, he never made one single suggestion as to how taxation should be relieved. He omitted the point which Deputy Heffernan made. He omitted, at least, to say whether he agreed or disagreed with Deputy Heffernan that any cut in the salaries of Civil Servants would only be a very small proportion of the total needed to give any real relief to the farmers. He did not say that. Neither did he make any suggestion of any kind as to how taxation should be relieved. There was just one suggestion, the old suggestion when you are not prepared to face up to the practical difficulties, appoint a Commission. I will leave that point for a moment and come back to Deputy Cooper's speech. He said that a change of policy is needed—if there is any big reduction of taxation it can only come as a result of a change of policy. That is quite true. That was also a point made by Deputy Baxter. Deputy Cooper went further and did what it is the duty of a Deputy to do—just what we are sent here for. He stated, generally, at least, the directions in which reductions might take place. He took up the Estimate of the Department of Agriculture and he put his finger specifically on certain items. He said: "Abolish these services and you will save several hundred thousand pounds." He named the services, certain services which are done by instructors of the County Committees of Agriculture. That is the proper function of Deputies, and not a Geddes Committee. No matter who they may be or what superhuman intelligence they may possess, they are not the representatives of the people of this country, and it is only the representatives of the people of this country—in other words, this Dáil—who have a right to say what the policy of the Government or any Department of the Government shall be. I asked Deputy Heffernan, not for the purpose of catching him out, but genuinely for the purpose of getting the information— because I propose to take Deputy Cooper's suggestion seriously, and I must take it seriously, because I realise that it is only on these lines you can get a reduction of taxation—what he had to say to it, but there was no comment. Neither was there any comment from Deputy Baxter.

There is nothing abstruse about the schemes of the Department of Agriculture in the counties; they are old and they are well known. I should say that Deputy Baxter knows exactly what a county instructor does and does not do, and what he should and should not do. He knows exactly what this service is, every detail of it, and when it was put forward here as a suggestion that it should be abolished there was not a single word from the Farmers' Benches. When it was put forward here as a suggestion that the service is useless and that the abolition of it would save £100,000, there was not a single word from Deputy Baxter. He draws a heartrending picture of the farmer at the moment. He points out to us the immediate and pressing necessity for a reduction of taxation, but there is not a single word from him but a Geddes Committee. Let a Geddes Committee take the responsibility of saying that the functions of the Instructors of the County Committees of Agriculture should be abolished! Why is that? Surely that is the function of Deputies. Surely it is making little of the Dáil and making little of the Deputies of this House to say we must get in some three members of some Chamber of Commerce or some three farmers to say what the policy of this country should be, and that we have not got sufficient mental or moral courage to face up to the consequences of abolishing certain services—to say in all the circumstances whether these services should be abolished. I do not think I ever heard such a proposal as that we should set up a Committee of some alleged supermen—I used to think they existed but I think I know enough now —to perform the functions not only of the Government staffs but of the Dáil.

May I interrupt? I was interrupted frequently yesterday. I think I have a right to explain. I have never said that this Committee should have a final voice on policy. I said the terms of reference should be on the lines of those of the Geddes Committee, that they should make recommendations and that it would be for the Dáil to reject or accept these recommendations.


Exactly. I accept that absolutely—make recommendations. Deputy Baxter and Deputy Heffernan did not go so far as to say that this Geddes Committee should meet, elect a chairman, and seriously take a vote as to whether certain services should be abolished, and come to this House and say you have got to do this, but that they should recommend the same thing. In other words, that we should hide behind them. This Dáil, representing the people, composed of men whom the people sent here to run their business, should hide behind three or four super-men! We are to say we can never do this; it is unpopular, and consequently we must got the Geddes Committee before we do it. I say again I never heard such a suggestion, and I hope there are not many belonging to any party in this Dáil who would give any support to any such suggestion, because it amounts to this, that the Oireachtas of this country is bankrupt mentally and morally.

Appoint a Commission and adjourn.


That is really what it comes to. May I get away from that and get back to the suggestion that Deputy Cooper made. He pointed out rightly, and we have to face up to this, that any reductions in salaries will only make very small changes in our expenditure compared with the total. I think the Minister for Finance, Deputy Johnson and other Deputies examined the question as to what the effect of reduction below a certain limit, if you like, in the salaries of responsible senior officers who have executive control and responsibility would be. I merely make the point, which seems to be generally admitted, that only a small reduction compared with what is necessary can be made by any cutting in salaries. No. You must have a change of policy, and a change of policy must be decided by the Dáil. If you want reductions in taxation, you must decide now what services you are going to drop.

In case there is any Deputy who has not sufficient information on that question, I should just like to give a little information about my own department, or rather about services which you can fairly call agricultural. The cost of agricultural services at present is about £2,600,000. When I speak of agricultural services, I include the Department of Agriculture, forestry, the Land Commission, sugar beet, credit societies, and the Agricultural Grant in relief of rates. That comes to £2,600,000. The Department of Agriculture costs about £470,000 net. To the net figure in the estimate we must add about £50,000 that comes on from another Vote. I can save £180,000 if I get the consent of the Dáil to drop the new services which I have taken on, which are non-contentious in the sense that they were supported by every party in the Dáil—I am leaving out the contentious ones. By dropping the Live Stock Breeding Act, the Agricultural Produce (Eggs) Act, the Dairy Produce Act, the experiments in sugar beet done by the department and the additional money which we have spent in buying high-class live stock outside the country, I can save £180,000. You can have your choice and tell me which I shall drop, but take the responsibility in the way of giving your opinion. I leave out forestry, which is only a small item. I can save £100,000 to the Land Commission—I should say £150,000—if I am allowed to carry on land purchase at the same rate at which it was carried on in 1914. In that connection I would give a rather interesting figure to the Dáil. The staff of the Land Commission has been increased by about 150 officers.

Since when?


As compared with 1920-'21—the outdoor and indoor staff, in order to carry out land purchase at the rate at which it was demanded it should be carried out. In spite of the fact that there has been an increase in the staff of the Land Commission by 150, there is a decrease in the total salaries of over £18,000. How has that been effected? Only a very small proportion of that is due to the drop in bonuses. In spite of the fact that since 1920 there are 150 new officers in the Land Commission for the purposes of the Land Act of 1923, there has been a decrease in the total salaries of £18,000. That has been effected entirely, so far as it is not due to bonus, by a drastic reduction of the salaries of the senior officers. On the Commissioners of the Land Commission alone there is a saving of £18,000. I will put it in another way. With the same establishment as regards numbers that was there in 1921, calculating their salaries at the existing bonus—not the 1921 bonus— and putting that against the salaries of the Commissioners to-day, there is a saving of £11,000 per year alone. There is a saving of over £1,000 on the senior officers of the Secretariat; there is a saving of over £1,000 on the salaries of the three or four senior officers of the inspectorate staff. That has reference to the senior officers of the Land Commission. That applies more or less to the Department of Agriculture and applies to practically every Department of the State that I know anything about. In any event, on staff alone I could increase the saving of £18,000 by another £40,000—namely, the cost of the new staff—a total saving of close on £60,000, but for the Land Act of 1923 and the rate at which it is demanded, it should be put into operation. You can add to that £100,000 extra for the improvements sub-head. You can get close on £160,000 as a result of new services.

Is it not a fact that some of the increases are due to the appointment of temporary inspectors and so on?


Certainly, but I am dealing with salaries as they are this year. No one suggested that permanent men should be employed to do temporary work. I may say that I am dealing with the Land Commission plus the Congested Districts Board, as the present Land Commission includes both services. £150,000, I think, is the cost of the sugar beet experiment. It may be right or wrong, but let us have it from someone whether we ought to drop it. I heard a suggestion the other day that the scheme was good, but nobody was quite sure whether the subsidy was too big or too small. One organisation that should be quite sure of it is the Farmers' Organisation. In any other country in the world sugar beet would not be the responsibility of the Government. Farmers' organisations would have explored the ground, would have got information all over Europe, wherever they ought to get it, would have made certain contingent arrangements with certain manufacturers, and would then come to the Government and say: "Will you finance this?" We had to do all this on our own. We did the best we could. In any case, there it is, and I can drop it and save £150,000 per year on a new service. The amount for credit societies is £75,000. That is the sum on the Estimates, but it may not be all spent.

I do not think the Minister could drop beet sugar now.


You can drop it after three years.

What would the Directors say?


Deputies will have an opportunity of saying what they have to say in regard to sugar beet at a later stage.

Is the Minister serious when he speaks about dropping sugar beet or is he——


I do not think the Deputy ought to accuse me of play-acting —he did not quite finish, but I will finish it for him. I was never more serious in my life. I am trying to show the Dáil that if they want to reduce taxation they must take the responsibility of coming forward here and showing what services are to be dropped, and not hide behind a Geddes Committee or any want of knowledge. They have all the knowledge necessary on this question, or they should have all the knowledge to enable them to come to a conclusion. We have increased the grant to agricultural rates by £600,000. That has to come out of taxation. I am against dropping that. Does the Deputy say it ought to be dropped? In any event, all these increases amount to £1,100,000 roughly. In other words, new services which are non-contentious and demanded by all parties for agriculture are costing £1,100,000 more than when we took over. We have increased the expenditure on agricultural services from £1,500,000 to £2,600,000—close on sixty per cent. We can save that sixty per cent. on those services by dropping them. There is no other way.

The reason I dwell on this is because you must go through the estimate of every other Department and make up your mind what is to be dropped. There is no other way. There is no use in building your hopes on docking the salaries of senior officers, which are far lower than they are in England, of course, as they should be, far lower than they were when we took over, and far lower than they are now in Northern Ireland. You have just to weigh up considerations like these. If I decide that no one should get any higher salary than £800 am I going to get an efficient man as head of the establishment branch of the Department of Finance—that particular super-man whose business it is, with his branch, to do exactly what Deputies want the Geddes Committee to do? In talking about a Geddes Committee the suggestion is that you can get super-men, outside men, who have been immense successes in their own business, men of immense experience, ability, intellect and all the rest of it. You can get those men, but they are probably earning four thousand or five thousand pounds in other countries. They can come in and examine the staffs of the various departments and see whether every official is working. You have an establishment branch there in the Department of Finance for that specific purpose, and the same people who pin all their hopes on a Geddes Committee —on the super-men outside—who they agree would be worth three thousand or four thousand a year, would tell you that you must not pay more than £500 or £600 to the First Division Civil Servant who is the head of the establishment branch, let us say, of the Department of Finance.

I need not labour that point. I think all parties are agreed that there is not much in it. You then come down to the question of policy—a question which no Geddes Committee should be asked to interfere in, or could interfere in. What are you going to drop? I welcome any suggestions of that sort, and Deputy Cooper made definite suggestions. He suggested that agricultural education, so to speak, should be dropped. I am not quite clear as to what he meant, but I think I can make it clear in a moment. First of all, I may say I do not agree with him, while I welcome the suggestion and would like to hear it debated at length. I am absolutely open to conviction on the point. I take it what the Deputy has in mind is the work of the inspectors of the County Committees of Agriculture.

I took F. 1, 2, 4 and 5, H. 1 and 2, and I.


His suggestion was that those agricultural schools and farms, of which there are five, should be, not so much abolished as changed and made commercial farms. The suggestion has been made here that there should be commercial farms—that we should buy farms in every county and run them as commercial farms. Deputy Cooper's suggestion is not quite the same. His idea is that the method of running them should be changed and that they should be run as commercial farms, otherwise you would lose money. Now let us see what that means. These farms are all agricultural schools. There are about twenty-five students in Athenry, between twenty and twenty-five in Clonakilty, and about the same number at Ballyhaise.

Twenty or twenty-five students at Ballyhaise?


What is happening in Ballyhaise is that there is something wrong with the water and the students have to go to Athenry.

Twenty to twenty-five students and a staff of twenty-nine.


That is one of the fallacies. The teaching staff would average about four. It numbers five at the Albert College, three or four in Clonakilty, three or four in Athenry, and I do not know about Ballyhaise. These pupils do two years' course and a one year's course. Those who do a one year's course or a six months' course are all farmers' sons who are going back to the farms. There are about fifty of them in the Albert College, about fifty in Athenry, and about the same number in Clonakilty. They are charged fees in accordance with the valuation and I think the lowest fee is £3 5s. The amount of the fees would not cover half their costs. That is the first big loss. As regards the second, it should be remembered that these farms are experimental farms and are used for the breeding of high-class stock animals. We send out through these farms all our sows and boars and we sell them at half the price which we would get for them in the show-yard. We sell a valuable sow at £8, whereas we would get £14 for it in a show. We have to go to Scotland because we cannot get them here, and buy a hundred animals at an average of £40 each and put them into the congested districts at £15 or £20 each. We do the same with regard to pedigree stock.

It is only in so far as we cannot breed that stock we have to go outside to buy it. The policy of the Department is challenged in buying high stock animals in the open market at high prices and selling them at low prices to small farmers. There is a big loss there and there must be. Again, all sorts of experimental work is done there. All plant breeding is done in the Albert College. For the purpose of getting a good line of oats there would, perhaps, be 500 failures. Black Tartary is a Department oat and it took a long time before they reached the position of being able to put that oat throughout the country. It is a first-class oat and is used all over the south because it is suitable to the land. It is just a question of what exactly the gain to the farmer is as between using that oat with its higher yield and using an inferior one. All that is purely experimental work.

Again, there is a lot of other experimental work done. I recently visited one of the colleges and saw twenty-five extremely nice cattle, about one and a half years old and well finished. I said to the manager that he was going to get a great price for them. The manager replied: "Yes, I would get a magnificent price if I could sell them now." They were conducting experiments as regards the value of silage and hay. We have a record of what they did. The manager explained that he could not sell the cattle until the experiment was finished. He was certain that there would be a loss of at least £2 a head three months later. As a matter of fact, they were sold at £3 a head less. When these farms begin to pay, I hope there will be some Deputy who will have sufficient sense of the value of the work that they should be doing, and who will suggest that they should be closed, for the moment they begin to pay they should be closed, because their work will have been done. All work in connection with mosaic leaf roll which has gone out through the country came from experiments in the Albert College. I mention that in view of what Deputy Cooper said. Now as regards county committees. Instructors do a lot more work than that in connection with winter classes. An instructor has to run the whole live stock scheme. He has to run the whole live stock scheme of premium bulls, boars and so on. He has, in addition, to take out from the Albert College, or from Clonakilty, anything like a new line of oats or any results they get and make them available to the farmers. The instructor, if he knows his work, ought to be the guide, philosopher and friend of every farmer in the district who wants advice. You may not be satisfied with the results. It may be said that the farmers ought to be better educated, but I know no better way than this of educating them. You cannot bring them to the school, as they cannot afford to come. That is all I have to say on that point. I say again that I welcome this criticism. We will, perhaps, have to make a great many sacrifices which we would be sorry to make. We might, perhaps, cut off a great many services after great searching of hearts, but there is no other way. I agree that overhead expenses should be as low as possible. If the Dáil is serious, let it face the issue. Let Deputies come and make suggestions and we will be willing to meet them. We are just as serious as any Deputy of any party here in our endeavours to make the particular load which the country has to bear equal to the ability of the country to bear it.

Deputy O'Mara spoke yesterday, and his speech was just what I would expect from him. I tried to follow it carefully, but there was no point which I could get, because, like a great many other Deputies, he goes very well until he comes to the point, and then he stops dead. I heard that we have had five piping years of peace. I did not know that before, but I was glad to hear it.

I said three years.


Three and five years. Five years was the statement.

He said three out of five.


The farmers were, I am sure, delighted to hear from him that last year we had the best harvest in living memory. We have our own Government and as soon as we have our own Government the country, according to the Deputy, is going to the dogs in spite of these natural and extraordinary advantages which we have had during the last five years. The Deputy was careful not to say "because of" the present Government but merely "since." He who runs can read.

It was left to the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs to say "because of." If the Minister has not had an opportunity of seeing what the Minister for Posts said——


I have seen it and read it, and perhaps the Deputy would not interrupt me.

It is very enlightening.


The Deputy was careful to use the word "since" and not "because of" an Irish Government coming into existence. That is just like him. Anyone who likes can draw the inference. The Deputy is a business man also, and he proceeded to quote figures for the year 1870, dealing with the production of the country. These figures were a long time pre-war. The Deputy went straight away and applied them without any adaptation to existing conditions and drew his own conclusion. If the Deputy were outside the Dáil we might get somebody to suggest that he should be on the Geddes' Committee, as he is a man who knows all about big business affairs and high finance. This is the sort of nonsense trotted out here. He does not represent the business men of the country. There is, apparently, every reason why this country should be thriving and prosperous and flowing with milk and honey but for the Irish Government. I have heard that song before. I have listened to it in various forms for the last six or seven months. I have heard that people were living on leaves and that the country was a God-forsaken wilderness. I have seen it stated in the Press by leading men that all our misfortunes were due to our Irish Government. I never heard any of our business men, non-sentimental, non-Irish, practical business men, even hinting that the conditions here were not peculiar to this country, and that you have distresses also in England, in Denmark, and practically all over Europe, distress which, in some respects, is even worse than it is here. I have been in these countries and I have heard the same talk as I have heard here, but that is carefully hidden. The whole suggestion is that the conditions here are unique and are confined to this country and that we do suffer from a double dose of original sin. That campaign is an evil one. I do not believe it will succeed, but so far as it is there, it is an attempt prompted by various reasons to do what de Valera failed to do in 1923, namely, to smash the spirit and morale of the country. I do not believe it will succeed, but the only spokesman which that campaign has here is Deputy O'Mara. That was his sole contribution to the problem.

The Minister quoted me as saying that agricultural instructors were useless. I do not think I used the word "useless."


I did not mean to misquote the Deputy.

I said that there were certain services more valuable than we could afford, and I only used agricultural instructors as an illustration. I thought it right to give some illustration. I have not finished reading the estimates. When I have read them, and when they come up for discussion, I have no doubt there will be other fields in which economy can be effected.

Can the Minister give us any information as to how the £2,600,000 in connection with agricultural services is spent?


As I pointed out before, the Department of Agriculture costs about £470,000; forestry costs £41,000; the Land Commission costs £700,000.

Those figures do not agree with this year's estimate.


You will find if you make investigations that the necessary adjustments were made. I will read out the full list to the Deputy if he wishes.

I am quite satisfied on that point.


The cost of sugar beet is £150,000; credit societies, £75,000, and the Agricultural Grant, £1,200,000.

The Minister for Lands and Agriculture, in his very able reply to the statements that were made from the Farmers' Benches, appeared to place all the blame for the demand for a reduction in taxation upon the farmers. Anybody who has followed the situation in the country, and who has noted the campaign that led up to this demand, must realise that demands for a reduced taxation have equally come from business men, or those who call themselves business men, and who are associated with the Minister's Party. I believe there is some justification for the setting up of a Committee, but not necessarily on the lines suggested by Deputy Heffernan. It would be better, I think, to have a Committee composed of members of this House. That Committee could go into the whole question of Government expenditure. The members of this party have not, as far as I remember, on any occasion, either inside or outside the Dáil, made any demand in regard to this matter. Speaking for myself, I must say that the Government Party—the majority of the members of this House—having made up their minds definitely that 32/- per week should be laid down as a standard of living for semi-skilled workers, there should be some close investigation into the question of why £32 per week should be given to highly-paid officials associated with Government administration. There should be some attempt to make it clear that high salaries of that nature are being paid to the best advantage.

I am not prepared to support any resolution which would mean that outside experts should hold inquiry into Government administration, make investigation into matters of general expenditure, or interfere in any way with Government policy or the policy of the majority of the members of the Dáil. I do believe there is need for the setting up of what might be called an Estimates Committee which could be composed of members of different parties, particularly those of the business element backing the Government. They could investigate the expenditure in different Departments and ascertain where savings could be effected without any disastrous result to the general community.

By inference the Minister for Lands and Agriculture has admitted that a saving of £50,000 could be made on the present Estimates. That saving could be utilised for the purpose of relieving some of the unemployment that exists. The figure the Minister mentions would give work to between seven and eight thousand unemployed at the amount laid down by the Ministry as the basis of the standard of living of semi-skilled workers. Those men could be employed for at least four weeks in the year.

Where would the saving come in then? You would take the amount off the Estimate and then spend it again. That is a peculiar kind of proposition.

I consider it a good proposal to find useful, productive work for people now unemployed.

I cannot see where the saving would come in.

I would like to know from the Minister for Finance who, presumably, will reply, if he has any objection to the setting up of what might be termed an Estimates Committee representative of the different parties in the House. If the Minister's answer to the appeal made by Deputy Heffernan for the setting up of a Committee is that he believes such a Committee would be fooled by his own civil servants, then the Minister himself is foolish if he thinks the majority of Deputies here will allow themselves to be fooled so easily as he appears to think. There are plenty of members of his own Party who have been speaking outside the House demanding a reduction in taxation, and there are also members of the Public Accounts Committee, who would give very useful assistance on such a Committee as has been proposed, and they would not be so easily fooled as the Minister seems to think. If there is nothing to be hidden, what objection has the Minister to the setting up of a Committee?

Deputy Heffernan has been taunted with not going through the different Estimates and pointing out where savings could be effected. If you think it advisable to reduce the standard of living for the ordinary worker, why do you not start at the top? Why do you not begin by making effective savings on the salary of the Governor-General, on the salaries of those connected with the Ministry, and, if necessary, on the allowances to Deputies? That could quite easily be done. Deputy Baxter agreed that, a cut of 10 per cent. having been made on the allowances of teachers and old age pensioners, a similar cut could quite easily be applied to the allowances made to Deputies. If a percentage could be taken off the allowances made to Deputies, a percentage could also be taken off in the case of the members of the other House, who do not give one-tenth of the time to the conduct of the business of the country that the members of this House give.

I understand that certain people appointed by the Government are at present engaged in revising the Constitution. If it is considered desirable to revise the Constitution and certain Acts passed by the Oireachtas, such as the Ministers and Secretaries Act, with a view to effecting a reduction, the sooner the recommendations of that body are brought before this House the more the people will be satisfied. I never could understand—I believe there was an explanation given that it is purely by agreement with the British Government—why the Governor-General should be paid £10,000 a year when the Prime Minister of England is paid only £5,000. It is time we came down to bedrock on those matters and spoke out our minds, even if we are only speaking on our own behalf. In every other country outside the Free State, there is a classification in regard to Ministries. In no other country but the Free State will you find Ministers, extern or intern, responsible or irresponsible, in receipt of the same salary.

They ought to be interned because they are irresponsible.

They are not always responsible to this House for what they say and particularly for what they do. You have in the case of the British Cabinet some members in receipt of £5,000 a year, and others in receipt of £2,000. If responsibility for work done is to be the basis upon which salaries are paid and upon which a higher salary can always be justified, a distinction could be drawn between the salaries of certain members of the Executive Council and extern Ministers. This matter could be properly inquired into by a Committee such as has been suggested.

Would you be prepared to say some of the extern Ministers?

I agree there are extern Ministers who have as much work to do, and perhaps have greater responsibilities than some of the members of the Executive Council. I agree to that extent. If you are really out to effect a saving in the salaries of the Ministers, that matter cannot be discussed adequately in this House; it is essentially a subject for investigation by a Committee such as Deputy Heffernan suggested.

As regards Parliamentary Secretaries, if we are to go on the basis of the amount of work done, as far as my observation goes a salary of £1,200 cannot be justified. I notice in the Estimates for this year that so far as the Department of Finance is concerned, provision is made for a Parliamentary Secretary's salary of £1,200 as against £1,000 for the same office last year. There was a far greater amount of work to be done by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance last year than there is to be done this year. There was a good deal of work last year in connection with compensation claims and other matters, brought about as a result of the Civil War. Last year there was far greater work and responsibility placed on the Parliamentary Secretary than there possibly could be this year. Now, we have the Minister asking for an increase of £200 for that one item. I would like to hear some arguments put forward in justification of that request. I hope some justification will be given for many such matters raised by the Estimates.

Coming to the Army, the Minister indicated yesterday there was a possibility that a saving of £500,000 would be effected in the Estimates to be submitted for the year 1927/28. He did not indicate whether that saving would be brought about as a result of a reduction in the numbers of officers or men, or a reduction in pay. If certain officers in the Army, major-generals and colonels, who have a salary of £1,200— in one case the salary is £1,400—had to climb the ladder of life in the commercial world, I doubt very much if they would be in receipt of salaries even approaching what they are now receiving from the taxpayers of the country. I would like to know from the Minister when he is replying, whether the reduction of £500,000 is to be brought about by reduction in the pay of the higher officers or by a reduction in the numerical strength of the Army?

In the case of the Department of External Affairs, we have an increase in the estimate this year of some hundreds of pounds for the entertainment of foreigners. It looks rather curious and a bit circus-like that, in the present state of privation and semi-starvation, we should be asking the taxpayers to provide an increased estimate—though it be the small sum of £600—for the entertainment of foreigners. We have a growing number of people in our own country in a state of semi-starvation, and the foreigners who come here come for their own good and not always for the good of the Government. If the Ministers, or the Governor-General, desire to entertain foreigners, they should do so at their own expense and not at the expense of the taxpayers. If Deputies desire to entertain their constituents— and they very often have to do so— they have to do it at their own expense. The Ministers and the Governor-General should entertain these foreigners at their personal expense, if they desire to provide entertainment.

If I may return to the question of Parliamentary Secretaries, I think this Committee, if it is set up—and I hope the Minister will leave it to a free vote of the House—might inquire into the duties of the Parliamentary Secretary to the President and ascertain whether most of the duties of that individual— I am not speaking personally and I refer to the future as well as to the present—are more of a political nature than of the nature of work on behalf of the taxpayers. From observation here, I should say the main work of that individual is concerned with gathering his flock together when the bell rings for a division. If the Committee be set up it might make inquiry as to the work done by the occupant of that office, regardless of who he may be for the time being. When I speak of matters of this kind, I speak in an impersonal way and I am not referring to the present occupants of the different positions personally.

From a cursory examination of the Estimates, I have taken these few items by way of reply to questions asked Deputy Heffernan for reasons for the setting up of this Committee. I have looked fairly carefully through the Estimates to discover whether there is more money made available this year than was made available last year for providing work for those who are out of employment. So far as I can judge from the Estimates, there is not as much money provided for the coming year for the doing of such useful work as there was last year, in spite of the promises made outside and inside the House. We had supplied to us recently a statement by the Minister for Lands and Agriculture showing that tillage in this country has been considerably reduced in 1925 as against 1924. That statement shows, I think, in a way, that wherever there is a reduction in tillage, there must be a reduction in the number of people employed. There must be some cause for the reduction in the amount of land under cultivation as compared with 1924 and 1923. We are promised great things in the coming Budget—one hundred per cent. tariffs and subsidies for tillage—though I believe there is some little contention going on about that at the present time. But if we wait for the 13th April, a very unlucky day——

A little later.

We will know how far the prophecies made during the course of the last nine or ten months will be justified by the Budget statement. Deputies who have any realisation of the position in the country know that things are not improving. I should like to be in a position to make the opposite statement. I was one of those Deputies who thought that, as a result of the good harvest last year—undoubtedly it was a fairly good harvest —the position would be considerably improved to-day compared with that of 12 months ago. Unfortunately, it is quite the reverse. There is very little to indicate at the moment that things are going to improve before next harvest, and, unless the Government waken up to a realisation of the actual position in the country, they will probably be called upon later to deal with a situation that will not be of a very nice character.

I hope the Minister for Finance will leave the demand for the setting up of an Estimates Committee to the free vote of the House. If he does so, I believe that Deputies will decide, at any rate, to set up a Committee confined to members of the House. If the Minister has nothing to be afraid of or ashamed of, I see no reason why he should refuse the demand made by Deputy Heffernan.

The present system of administration was formulated by civil servants sent over here on loan from the British Government or asked for by our Government. The higher Civil Servants during the past three or four years have had a very difficult task in keeping the administrative machinery properly oiled and they are entitled to every credit for the difficult work they have done. But the setting up of an administrative machine suitable to the Government of this country is a different matter from the setting up of an administrative machine suitable to Great Britain. Many useful suggestions may be made, as a result of examination of the present system, by Deputies, if the proposed Committee be established. Even if no saving were effected or no effective recommendation brought in, the setting up of the Committee would satisfy the genuine demand of the taxpaying public for investigation. It would satisfy the people as to whether or not any saving can be properly brought about.

It would appear from the speech we listened to a few moments ago from the Minister for Lands and Agriculture, that it is the duty of those on the Government Benches to support the present policy of the Government with regard to expenditure. In fact, if one were to read through the interesting speech delivered by the Minister, one would come to the conclusion that the object he had in mind was to put forward arguments in support of the maintenance of that expenditure. I hope I am not misunderstanding what the Minister had in mind, but I think, with regard to that aspect of the question, that the Minister is taking up quite a wrong attitude. I do not think that any of the Parties in the House has any other view than this— that the present taxation is too high and that the present expenditure is too high. Possibly that view may not commend itself to every member of the Dáil. But might I remind those who disagree that that particular view has been expressed within the last few months by two leading members of the Ministry. I need only remind Deputies that within that period our President made a very important speech—doubtless it was at one of the by-elections— to the effect that the taxation of the country was too high and that the burden was greater than the country could bear. I am not tying the Ministry entirely to the statement of the President at a by-election. I do not know that it was not on the same day exactly that the same words were used by the Minister for Finance in another place. As one read the speeches in the newspaper, the statements struck one as being almost identical. Having this admission from two important members of the Executive Council—that the taxation is too heavy and that the burden they are putting on the country is too great— surely it is not a question that needs further argument as to whether it is the duty of Parties in this House to see how they can lessen that burden and reduce that expenditure. I think I am right in saying that this is not a Party question. I hope it will not be treated as a party question.

To my mind it is an obligation cast upon every Deputy sent here to represent any portion of the Saorstát to do what he can to lighten that burden and to ease that load. It appears to me that, when we come to regard the question from that point of view, we ought confine ourselves to the problem as to what means we can adopt for lightening that burden and for reducing the expenditure that created that burden. I would like to see Deputies confine themselves to that aspect of the question. Proposals have been put forward for the appointment of a Committee to go into the whole question of departmental expenditure and to make recommendations. The Minister for Lands and Agriculture made strong statements with regard to the appointment of such a Committee. He said that to appoint outsiders to perform such a duty would be an admission of what he called "bankruptcy of ideas" on the part of the Dáil and that if such a Committee were appointed it ought to be appointed from members of the Dáil.

Government is practically a new duty thrown upon this country. With one or two exceptions no member of the Dáil has more than five years' experience of the art of government, so that I do not think I am unfair in saying that we are by no means experts in the art of government. Speaking for myself, I have only been some three years a member of this House, and I find that every day, even now, I am learning a good deal of the art of government. I do not know if other Deputies have reached that seasoned stage when they have nothing more to learn, but if the three years I have spent here have taught me anything they have certainly brought home to me the fact that, even in five years, one will not get complete experience in the art of government. Therefore, if we have to go outside the Dáil I do not think we ought to be too proud to do so. If there are others who can teach us anything, I think we ought not to be above being taught lessons in the art of government, or in other walks of life. It has been suggested by the Minister to whom I referred that we have before us all the particulars and all the data that would enable us to come to a conclusion as to whether there was extravagance and overstaffing in Departments. Have we that information? As I understand the information that is put before the House in these Estimates, it gives us the number of individuals that are in different Departments and the expense of maintaining these individuals. But as to what particular task these individuals perform, as to whether they are all necessary or not, I certainly cannot form the least idea. I do not know whether other Deputies are in a better position than I to form an opinion, but we have only one side of the picture, and even that only gives very superficial information. How can we form any idea, on the information before us, as to whether these Departments are overstaffed or understaffed? It is useless for the Minister to argue from that point.

Furthermore, we have had to deal with an immense amount of legislation. If we were to ask a Committee of a dozen Deputies to take up this task it would certainly be a whole-time occupation for them. I do not know whether, in view of the work of the House, we could get Deputies to undertake it. But even if we could, assuming for the moment that they were qualified, could we expect them to give up their Parliamentary work? So that no matter what point of view you look at it from it would be, I think, unreasonable to expect that Deputies could, in the first instance, deal with such a task, from the point of view of experience of Government, or from the nature of their own work here, give the necessary time to perform such a duty in a proper manner. The Geddes Committee has been mentioned as a possible solution of the difficulty with which we are faced. We have only looked at the problem from one point of view, that is, the question of what we call national expenditure. The reference to the Geddes Committee included local expenditure, so that if we were to expect a committee of this House to do the work that the Geddes Committee did by exploring national and local expenditure I am afraid that the proposal put up by the Minister for Lands and Agriculture would really be an impossibility.

I would like to ask the Deputy if he is quite sure that he is correct in interpreting Deputy Heffernan's suggestion to mean a committee that would not only go into Government expenditure but into local expenditure also? That was not my interpretation of it.

The committee that was suggested here was a committee on the lines of the Geddes Committee. It was a committee on those lines that many of us had in view, and I am only reading from the terms of reference, which were given to me by Deputy Heffernan, as to the work performed by that committee. The very heading of the terms of reference included "national and local expenditure." It has been said that a committee of that kind could not deal with questions of policy. I will read from the terms of reference to show how the Geddes Committee did deal with questions of policy:

In so far as questions of policy are involved in the expenditure under discussion, these will remain for the exclusive consideration of the Cabinet, but it will be open to the Committee to review the expenditure and to indicate economies which might be effected if particular policies were either adopted, abandoned or modified.

In other words, the terms of reference to the Geddes Committee proposed that they should consider questions of policy.

No, sir.

With all respect to the Minister, I am reading from the terms of reference.

The Deputy does not understand them.

If the terms of reference before me are wrong the Minister will correct me.

The Deputy is misunderstanding them.

"In so far as questions of policy are involved in the expenditure under discussion, these will remain for the exclusive consideration of the Cabinet, but it will be open to the Committee to review the expenditure and to indicate the economies which might be effected if particular policies were either adopted, abandoned or modified." If I misunderstand the English in the terms of reference I will leave it to the Minister, who has possibly a better understanding of English than I have, to explain where I am wrong. That being so, it appears to me that if a committee is to do effective work we must not limit it simply to reviewing the work of existing departments. The reference to it must be a wider one. The basis on which our Government has been modelled is the basis of the Government on the other side. I have always held—I may be wrong—that the Government and the departments that are essential for a people of some forty odd millions do not form the most economical basis for the Government of a people of some three millions. I am only referring to its administrative side. That Government has to deal with a huge amount of work outside the four corners of the sister isle that I am not dealing with at all; I am only putting it on the basis on which it appears to an ordinary man in the street.

Is it essential for the governing of a people of some three millions that we should follow the lines adopted for the governing of some forty millions? I think that the time has arrived when the Government has succeeded in getting over a number of preliminary difficulties—and I give them every credit for getting over them so successfully and so quickly—and that we are in calmer, water, that we should face these economic problems. I suggest to the Government, in view of the admissions of the President, in view of the admissions of the Minister for Finance, made in public, in no heat, in surroundings that would not draw from them statements that had not been carefully considered, that it is up to them, and to us also—it is not alone a responsibility of the Government, but of all—to try to provide some means whereby this whole question of government and its expenditure might be considered by those best qualified to consider it and to put forward a report that we might debate. We have been told that a committee similar to the Geddes Committee would not be suitable, that the Geddes Committee really did no good work. I do not know whether the view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be of any assistance to us in forming an opinion as to whether the Geddes Committee did or did not do good work on the other side for the State. I have before me a statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to a deputation, within the last few months. Speaking of the Geddes Committee, he said:

In 1921-2, as you know, the Geddes Committee overhauled the whole of our expenditure and, with the great weight of public opinion behind it, effected most important reductions. In fact, in one year, £100,000,000 was saved, an achievement never paralleled in time of peace in any country in the world.

Did he say compared with what year? Was it the year immediately preceding?

In 1921.

As compared with 1920?

"In 1921-2, as you know, the Geddes Committee overhauled the whole of our expenditure, and, with the great weight of public opinion behind it, effected most important reductions. In fact, in one year £100,000,000 was saved, an achievement never paralleled in time of peace in any country in the world."

That is a statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the other side. It bears testimony to the success achieved by the Geddes Committee. That Committee had a problem to face similar to the one that now presents itself to us, and naturally we turn our minds in the direction of that Committee to see if something of the same kind could not be accomplished here. Perhaps I might make some comparisons before I come to any conclusion as to the necessity of having some such Committee here to overhaul our expenditure, and to consider the question whether the burden of our taxation cannot be reduced. In the Free State the taxation amounts to £7 6s. 10d. per head of the population. That was the figure given to me by the Minister for Finance in reply to a question that I put to him some months ago. The figure, I should say, deals only with national expenditure. I will come later on to the question of local expenditure. If I were to compare the figure that I have given in the matter of national expenditure here with the figures that obtain in other countries, I would be told, I imagine, that the conditions in these other countries were altogether different, and that the comparison was useless. Therefore, I will only make a comparison with Great Britain, because, as I pointed out before, our system of Government is based on the system in existence in Great Britain. In the latter country the taxation amounts to £15 7s. 2d. per head of the population. To make a comparison between the taxation per head of the population here and in Great Britain, you will have to deduct from the figure relating to the latter country the cost of war burdens and expenses on imperial services. If you deduct the charges in respect of these matters from the total that I have given for Great Britain, you will find that they amount to £11 10s. per head of the population. The result is that while they pay £3 17s. 2d. per head of the population for State administration, we pay £7 6s. 10d. We have no national debt and no imperial services.

Would there not be some deductions from the figures you have given?

If there are any that I am not aware of I am open to be convinced as to the unwise application of the comparison. The Deputy will see from the figures I have quoted that the taxation here in a poorer country is nearly double the amount it is in the richer sister country. That is a figure that ought to have had a considerable influence, and I am sure it had, with the members of the Executive Council before they made their statements to the effect that the burden of taxation was too heavy here, and that the expenditure we were incurring in the Free State was really heavier than we could bear.

Now there is the question of the burden of local taxation. Remember that when you are considering the burdens that fall upon agriculture and other industries in this country, it makes very little difference as to whether they come out of one pocket as ratepayers or out of the other pocket as taxpayers. What is the position with regard to local rates? In the years 1922-23 the burden of local rates in the Free State amounted to £1 3s. 1d. per head of the population. These are the Minister's own figures. In 1924-25 the burden had increased to £1 13s. 5d. per head of the population, an increase in two years of between thirty and forty per cent. If you work out what that increase amounted to in the two years you will find that the total figure came to over one and a half million pounds. That was an additional burden that the local ratepayers had to bear. That is a matter that I think ought to be inquired into. We have at the present day an effort on the part of the Government, supported by the Dáil—we cannot, therefore, blame the Government wholly—to cast a number of burdens on to local funds that some of us believe ought to be discharged out of national funds. I need only mention as an instance the upkeep of the roads. At the moment their upkeep is a very serious matter for the local authorities. Up to this we have said here that was a burden that must be discharged by the local authorities. How long we can maintain that position is very doubtful. While on the one hand there is anxiety to cast additional burdens on the local authorities, on the other hand there is a desire to take from the local authorities some of the income they have had heretofore. Take the Bill that is before us at the moment. A number of the fines that arise under certain sections of that Bill fall into the hands of the local authorities. Within the last few weeks I had my attention drawn to the matter by one of the local authorities. It was pointed out to me that if the Bill passes through in its present form it will take some hundreds of pounds annually from the income of a particular local authority.

Is it right that we should cast additional burdens on the local authorities, while at the same time we take some of their income from them? These are problems that I say ought to be considered very carefully. The time of this House is occupied with so many other matters that we cannot give the attention to the problems I have mentioned that they demand. In the discussion that is to follow I hope that these proposals will not be dealt with in a party or in any hostile spirit. Let us turn our minds towards arriving at some solution of the important question which presents itself to the House and to the country. If we face the problem in the spirit that I urge I am perfectly certain that we will arrive at a conclusion that will be helpful. In the time at my disposal I have not been able to see any better means of dealing with a problem of this character than through a committee such as the Geddes Committee, composed of persons, for the reasons I have given, outside of this House. I make no reflection on members of the House in suggesting that the committee should be composed of outside persons. If there are members who can afford to give time to their Parliamentary duties and also to the work of this committee, then by all means take them on, but I would like to have on the committee impartial persons with experience in the art of government, whose decisions and recommendations would carry considerable weight. Without being in any way contentious, I would like to remind the House that that policy has already been adopted by the Government in other matters. When the Government had to deal with the Shannon scheme proposals they did not hesitate to get the best brains and ability they could to advise them, and in the last few months, when they wanted to get views on the banking question, they went to America for the chairman of the very important Commission that they have set up. That being so, we should not hesitate in dealing with this problem to go outside our own country for the help and guidance of people to assist us. I would urge on Deputies the necessity of getting the very best brains they possibly can to deal with this problem.

I do not think anybody will seriously find fault with the great necessity there is for national economy, or with the necessity there is to keep our taxation and expenditure as low as possible. It is quite unnecessary to labour these points. Candidly, I was disappointed with the general tone of the speeches I listened to in connection with Deputy Heffernan's motion to reduce the estimates by a sum of over £2,600,000. I think I may say that the speeches of Deputy Heffernan and Deputy Baxter bristled with generalities. It is, therefore, very difficult for anybody to discuss them because they carefully avoided details. The estimates before us number no less than 66, but not a single one of these was referred to definitely by Deputy Heffernan, Deputy Baxter or Deputy O'Mara in their suggestions for economy. As I say, one finds it very difficult to deal with generalities. If any of the Deputies I have referred to had gone through the list of estimates and made a definite suggestion for cutting down expenditure, then we would have something to discuss. I had a run through these items myself for the purpose of seeing whether there was any particular one under which I thought there could be any serious economy effected.

Certainly I am not prepared to say at the moment that there is any serious possibility of cutting down any of these Estimates without interfering with the efficiency of the services. Economy is of course, a very excellent thing, provided it is arrived at by right lines. For instance, take the first large figure I see here—Revenue Department, £232,000. That is made up largely of wages and salaries. Does either of the Deputies propose to cut these wages and salaries by 10 per cent. or 30 per cent., or by anything? If so, does he realise or appreciate to any extent the degree to which the machinery of the Revenue Department would be upset? Then we take the Old Age Pensions, which run, I think, into over £3,000,000. Are these Deputies prepared to go down to their constituents and advocate the cutting of the Old Age Pensions for the purpose of relieving taxation on the farmer? We come to another big figure, Property Losses Compensation. That amount of money surely must be paid.

Another big figure is superannuation and retiring allowances. A great deal of that money we are committed to by the Treaty. You cannot get away from your obligation. You must pay. The bulk of these people are entitled to their superannuation allowances; you cannot stop them. Then we have £50,000 for relief schemes. The whole country is crying out for relief schemes. Is any Deputy prepared to vote against these relief schemes and go down and face his constituents afterwards? Then we have the supplementary agricultural grant. Are the farmers prepared to waive that and say "we do not want it," in order to relieve taxation? Are they prepared to cut down the Civic Guard? In short, what are they prepared to do? Are they prepared to cut down the £1,250,000 which is the total vote for education? If we are going to discuss this question we have to get some definite concrete facts. Give us something we can examine and discuss, and see where it leads us. Deputy O'Mara, who I am very glad to see back amongst us again after a somewhat prolonged period of political repose——

Oh, he was here last week.


He has suddenly wakened up to the necessity for national economy, and he has produced what to me are fantastic figures. He is extraordinarily quick and ready to ask for relief for the Irish people. He bases his estimate on some figure that was before the Childers Commission. The Childers Commission happened a long time ago. I was quite a small boy when it was set up, and I really would not have any particular degree of confidence in the figures which that Commission produced as applied to the present-day condition of Ireland. He made the extraordinary statement also that the bank deposits have gone down six millions in a certain period of years and that all that money went in taxation. For a business man, that appears an extraordinarily loose and reckless statement. What has he to support that? Is not it possible that some of that six millions deposit was utilised, as Deputy Myles Keogh suggested, for buying motor-cars, for stocking farms or for paying losses of one kind and another? I am not at all convinced by Deputy O'Mara's figures. In any case, I hope now that he has taken up the question of economy that he will keep the pace up and give us the benefit of his advice and counsel as often as he possibly can.

With regard to the general suggestion that was made—originally, I think, by Deputy Heffernan, and supported by Deputy Baxter and Deputy Davin, and in a somewhat different form by Deputy Good—about this Geddes Committee to advise and overhaul our expenditure and to see in what way we can effect improvements, I am not at all convinced that any so-called Geddes Committee—I do not know why we copy the word "Geddes" from England——

Heffernan Committee.


It would be very much more appropriate. I quite fail to see what advantage we would gain. After all, we are not too modest about our own abilities as Deputies. At any rate we were sent here by the people to do the work of the nation, and there ought to be sufficient talent amongst the various members of the Dáil to criticise the Estimates and to produce constructive suggestions to meet this great expenditure, but we seem to be always dealing in generalities. I think if the Deputies as a whole cultivated a critical spirit and tried to come down to some concrete facts we should get some work done. I have tried to visualise this so-called expert Committee. I have always found it very difficult to define the word expert. I do not know what an expert is. A great many people claim to be experts on many matters and a number of people would not agree with them. For instance, Deputy Good is an expert in his own business. Possibly I may know something about mine. Deputy O'Mara, I have no doubt, knows something about his, but none of us knows anything about the other's business. I may be an expert in, shall I say, making malt or on sugar beet. You never can tell.

Neither can you.


For instance, I do not claim to be an expert, like Deputy Gorey, on coursing greyhounds or on building or engineering works like Deputy Good. Furthermore, I do not think I would be very much use and I do not think the ordinary business man would be in the particular matter of going to a Government Department and saying how they are to do their work. Possibly the only men who would be of some use in that respect would be ex-civil servants who have gone through the mill and are familiar with the routine of the offices. If Deputy Good, Deputy O'Mara and myself were to go on this Committee to examine the present system of bookkeeping and suggest economies where staffs had not enough to do and so forth, first of all we would have to start on the assumption that we were prepared to devote all our time to it. Candidly, I think it would be an exceedingly difficult matter to get representative business men in Dublin who would be prepared to devote their whole time, even if they had the necessary ability, to that.

First of all, they would have to be educated into the whole system. It would take a very appreciable time before the average business man could get the complete hang of the way the work is done in an utterly new line of business, with which they had no previous contact, and during the time of coaching a great part of the time of the officials would be occupied and, I am afraid, to a very great extent, the whole machinery of the various departments would be thrown utterly out of gear. Candidly, I fail to see where this sort of expert is to be had. They would have to be paid very well, if you are to get experts of the type Deputy Good has referred to. It is not quite a parallel case. The only people you could count on as being of any use would be people who had definite knowledge of the particular work and who had personal contact with it. I cannot see, even if you get that Committee, how they would be in any better position to judge economies than the people who have to face the work every day. One would think, from the speeches we have heard, that the Ministry are utterly deaf to any suggestions of economy. Anybody who has ever tried to get any money out of the Minister for Finance knows the difficulty. Anybody who comes in contact, to any extent, with Government Departments, knows the kind of scrutiny that every bit of expenditure is subjected to. In fact, the complaint usually is that they are not sufficiently liberal. I have never heard the Secretary of the Finance Department referred to as being liberal. I would like to know has any Deputy ever said that the Minister for Finance is too liberal.

Not the man who is looking for the money.


Economy must be at the expense of someone else. Some of the newspapers are particularly active in advocating economy. In answer to a question by Deputy Johnson yesterday, the Minister for Finance stated that a sum of £13,000 was spent on official Government advertisements. I wonder how the gentleman who wrote the article in the newspapers would take a suggestion from Deputy Heffernan or from the Dáil that we should scrap that. I wonder how many of the people who write vigorously and even ably about economy would face with equanimity a cut of 10 or 15 per cent. in their own salaries. Economy nearly always means economy on someone else.

Undoubtedly it is the duty of the country and of the Government to keep an eye on expenditure and to keep taxation as low as possible, but I submit with great respect to Deputy Good, Deputy Heffernan and Deputy Baxter that we are the elected representatives of the people, that we are here for the purpose of doing this work and we are paid by the nation for it. It would be a very humiliating thing that we should make a confession of failure or that we should admit that we are utterly bankrupt of constructive criticism. If we put our backs into the work, we can bring sufficient scrutiny to bear on the Estimates. Any information that we want in regard to the numbers of staffs and so on in connection with the running of these departments will be placed at our disposal by the various Ministers concerned. I have never known a Minister to refuse any reasonable information and I certainly would not for a moment support any such refusal. I think we ought to be perfectly capable of carrying on our own work here without the employment of experts from America or any place else.

There is more to be said for the suggestion that a committee of the Dáil should examine these Estimates than for the suggestion that a committee of outside experts should do it, but I do not think that that sort of examination in actual practice will be found to be a solution of this difficulty.

Deputy Baxter, and I think also Deputy Heffernan, emphasised particularly that a great deal of the depressed condition of agriculture was due to taxation. I do not agree with them in that. Taxation is, of course, one feature of it but there are a great many other features. A certain amount of the taxation paid by the average farming family is taxation that they need not pay if they do without certain things. The person, for instance, who does not take beer, or stout or spirits, or who does not smoke, pays no taxation on these. I doubt very much if the over-taxation of the farmer is such a very big factor as Deputies Heffernan and Baxter try to make out. I agree it is something. I agree it should be kept down as far as possible. I do not think, however, that there is anything to be gained by exaggerating. It does not matter what particular government happens to be running the country at present. We are suffering from the natural reactions of the great European War followed by our own Civil War, and these reactions are as inevitable as night following day. It is not a matter for governments; it is a matter of time. The pendulum one of these days will swing back. These cycles of depression come, just as we had our boom times during the war, and we have to put up with them. At the same time, it is our duty to try and improve matters in every way we possibly can, and I, for one, am not convinced that this proposed committee is going to do the wonderful things expected of it.

Deputy Egan started off by saying that the crying need of the present day is reduction of expenditure. Having gone through a few Votes, he stated that he could not see where any expenditure could be reduced. Therefore, he asks: "What is the good of getting an expert? I cannot find it and how will the other person find it?" That is the argument. The very fact that Deputy Egan, who is a business man, is not able to find where expenditure can be reduced, is the reason why we should have an expert. We are sent here to criticise expenditure; we have failed to reduce it within reasonable limits.


We have yet to criticise the details of the Estimates.

We will come to the details. When the Deputy, speaking as a supporter of the Government, confessed his inability to carry out what he had stated was so very necessary for the country, what is the remedy? To keep going on as we are going? That is no remedy. Our remedy is to set up a committee of experts. We are asked what experts can we get. I have known governments to send to India to get an expert to examine into a certain department to see how it should be run. I am sure you can get experts from England or America or other places, skilled in the work of these Departments, who, after investigation, would see how many redundant officials there were. I do not say they would be business men, but men skilled in that particular work. Whom did they get, for instance, to investigate the working of the Lough Swilly railway when the men in charge said they could not see what was wrong? They sent for a former manager of the Midland Railway, Mr. Tatlow, and he explained what was wrong. We can now do the same. Is not that a reasonable suggestion which would help the Government, and is the Government not wrong in refusing to take up the matter in that way?


May I point out that the Estimates have not yet been discussed by the Dáil? It is quite possible that some constructive suggestion may come from their discussion.

Some constructive suggestion come from the members of the Dáil!


The Deputy does not think much of it?

Nor anybody else.

Poor old Dáil.

That is only by the way. When the Deputy referred to the Votes, I wondered why he skipped the first Vote.


That is only £2,300.

The Deputy knows what is behind it. The Deputy was very particular in referring to old age pensions and other things, but he never said a word about that. According to the Estimates submitted, there are decreases amounting to £1,700,000. If you examine into the items closely, you will find that, properly speaking, they are not decreases at all. Property losses compensation, one and a half millions; relief schemes, £320,000; credit societies, £25,000; personal injuries, £27,000—these are not decreases of expenditure due to administration. Does anyone mean to tell me that on a total estimate of £27,000,000 it would not be possible to make a reduction of 10 per cent., having regard to the fact that the country requires a cut, and that if the people could support an expenditure of £27,000,000 last year, they are not in a position to do it this year? Is not that plain common sense? The Estimates, as submitted, show the necessity for thorough investigation.

Deputy Good has been comparing our expenditure with England. Just to show the difficulty surrounding this matter, I just jotted down a few items to show Deputies how this £7 16s. of national expenditure per head is made up. Social legislation and old age pensions account for £1 per head; education, £1 5s.; Army, £1; Police, 10/-; pensions, £1 15s.; Land Commission, 6/-. Added together, these total £6, before you start at all to administer the affairs of the country. It is on the balance of £1 16s. per head that any reduction must be made. Otherwise it is a question of policy. Will we abolish the police? Will we abolish the teachers? A very good thing—perhaps we should.

Abolish the children.

As a reduction is so essential, would it not be a good thing for the Government to invite over men skilled in these matters to show us how to do it? After all, we are laymen in these matters, looking at a mass of figures that would puzzle a Philadelphian lawyer, and we are asked to criticise and show where reductions could be made. The suggestion made by our Party does not deal with generalities at all, but asks that experts skilled in the administration of Government services should be got to investigate and see how many redundant heads we have got in our services. That is not a proposition that should be turned down, and I am sure the Minister for Finance, if he thinks over it, will find it is a very excellent way of dealing with the matter.

I look upon it as a joke.

It is not a joke.

I think that the circumstances of the country are too serious to deal in this way with this matter. If it were not a serious matter, I would simply put my tongue in my cheek and agree to the appointment of such a Committee.

I can hardly understand the Minister. Circumstances in the country are so serious that he could not agree to appoint a committee! Does the Minister mean to say that this is his best effort, that out of an expenditure of £27,000,000 he can only save on a few headings which really do not belong to any Government service?

I mean to say that Deputies must face up to their responsibilities, and if expenditure is to be reduced, they must express their views as to where services are to be cut, and what services can be dispensed with.

There is something reasonable about that. I quite agree.

I regard this whole proposal as being simply a proposal to shirk and avoid responsibility.

I put it to the Minister that those who are sitting on the Opposition Benches are not the people who should declare policy in a matter of this kind. It is those who are in authority who should say where the policy should be changed. Why should we indicate to the Government how they should do their business? We are suggesting means by which the Government could find out where reductions could be made, and it is up to the Government to say that £27,000,000 are too much and that expenditure must be reduced by the reduction of certain services hereinafter mentioned. Just as the Minister for Justice when introducing, for instance, a Summer Time Bill begins with "Whereas so and so," the Minister for Finance can say: "Whereas it is necessary in the interests of economy to abolish the Primary Education Vote we hereby do so."

That is three millions at once.

That is very easily done.

You do not want an expert for that.

Why should it be the duty of the Farmers' Party to show the Government where they are to economise? Why should we be asked to do the work of the Government? We are not in office and it is not our business to formulate policy on these matters. We are in favour of reproductive expenditure, but we ask that the Government should invite experts over to find out in what manner the Estimates can be reduced to a reasonable sum.


We have the Deputy to tell us.

We have heard a lot of talk for the last two days about the burden of taxation. As one who is an amateur in economics, I rise to ask a few questions which I should like to have answered by those who talk so much about education. With regard to the suggestion of going outside this country for an expert, that is an example of want of confidence in our own ability to do our own work in our own way.

I think there is a misunderstanding with regard to that. There is no suggestion that we should go outside the country.


The Deputy has not been here.


It is contained in a question put down by the Deputy yesterday.

I did not say so.


It has been made by two or three Deputies.

That may be so, but I did not say so.


In a question put down by the Deputy yesterday it was suggested that we should get an official from another government. If we are not to go outside Ireland, I suppose we are to get him from the North. I look upon this as a want of belief in our own ability to do our own work in our own way. I am not afraid or ashamed to say that we can find people in this country who can carry on the work of Government as well as those in other countries. I am not impressed by anything I have read as to financial experts in America. They have their "Tea-pot Dome" scandals over there.

They found them out, but we have not.


I am not impressed either by the manner in which business is done in England. If anything, I believe there has been a very considerable tightening up of the administrative machinery here, as compared with what it was when we took it over. I believe that there are men here who are as capable of doing that work, and inspired by as patriotic motives in doing it, as any people in any other country, and I am certainly against this idea of bringing in outsiders and always looking to other countries to instruct us how to do our business. Deputy Wilson blamed Deputy Egan for not being able to point out how these Estimates could be reduced. He takes it for granted that they must be. He starts off with that assumption. I am not taking that assumption at all. He does not consider that the answer to the problem may be that there is no place in which expenditure can be reduced.

I pointed out, by interjection and otherwise, ways in which you would not want the assistance of experts to bring about reduction. We could divide the amount by ten or twenty, and we could say to the Government: "You will have to carry on with that." You could, for instance, abolish old age pensions or, as Deputy Cooper suggested, abolish agricultural education, or, in fact, abolish all education. It is really not a question of money, but a question of service for money spent. I am not impressed by the parrot cries for reduced taxation. Anyone who wants to inscribe his name on the roll of fame, or to get into a small panel in the newspapers in the morning, has only to cry: "Reduce the burden of taxation." We have people, from Deputy Seán Lyons to Colonel O'Callaghan-Westropp, who never say anything but "the burden of taxation is too heavy and must be reduced." That is the parrot cry that is echoing all over the country. Nobody, so far, has been very helpful, not even Deputy Wilson, who wrote a very intelligent letter to the Press recently. I was expecting to hear better things from him than those I did hear, but he will, perhaps, have another opportunity. The question fines itself down to what Deputy Egan has said, namely, that if we want to reduce the burden we must be prepared to say what service is going to be dropped. It is one thing, if we are not getting service for the money that is being spent. That is a serious matter, but nobody has said that. The real question is, which service is to be dropped if this sum is to be reduced? One would imagine, listening to the kind of talk that goes on about the burden the country is asked to carry, that the people who collect the money are people who are really apart from the country, that they are people who collect the money, put it in their pockets and then walk off with it. That is not happening except to a small extent, though it may happen if Deputies support a certain Bill which is about to come before us.

Every man who calls for economy should refuse to allow that measure to pass, as it will have the effect of sending money out of the country. One would imagine that all this £29,000,000 is finding its way out of the country. Comparisons are made as to the proportion of people paid by the State with the total population of the country. I could imagine a state of affairs, if we were, for instance, wise enough to nationalise our transport service or our building industry, in which all the people who work the railways in the interests of the State and all who build houses in the interests of the community would be paid by the State, and you would have the newspapers saying that the country could not carry that burden, forgetful of the fact that these people are giving productive service to the State. The community agrees that certain services must be done for the country and the machinery for doing that is the machinery of administration. Hearing some of these criticisms, you would imagine that those people who are paid by the State never pay any taxes. You would imagine that civil servants never pay any taxes, never buy a pound of butter or a fresh egg. The teachers, of course, are Deputy Gorey's "betty norry"—as somebody called it—but from the latest returns I find that they pay in income tax £85,000 a year. In direct taxation alone they pay £102,000 a year to their pension fund, not to mention what they pay in road taxes for their motor cars. Civil servants do the same. I suppose if the Minister could reduce income tax by one shilling, the newspapers, and many others who call for a reduction in the burden of taxation, would sing paeans of joy. I, however, am thinking of the man described by Deputy Baxter. He, too, would say with the newspapers as he says also at present with them.

He does not.


I represent largely a community of small farmers.

Misrepresent them.


I leave that for them to say when the time comes. They refused to put in a member of the Farmers' Union and they put me in instead.

That shows that the West is not yet awake.


I am thinking how this possible reduction of one shilling in income tax would affect the small farmers whom I represent. I am not too sure that it would have any serious effect on their position. How does taxation affect the small farmer? To what proportion does national taxation affect him? Would Deputy Baxter tell us in what particular direction taxation might be reduced so that it would have such a serious effect on the position of the small farmer that it would change his present position of depression into one of comparative comfort?

I did not say that it would.


I do not think that it would to any appreciable degree. I think that those who are interested in agriculture would do well, as suggested by Deputy Johnson, to look for the remedy in another direction, rather than joining in this purposeless cry of reduced taxation, merely for the sake of saying it. I will now come to Deputy O'Mara's speech.

Progress ordered to be reported.

The Dáil went out of Committee.