Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Friday, 22 Apr 1927

Vol. 19 No. 14


The few hours that have elapsed since we adjourned and the time that has been possible to devote to reading and considering the Minister's statement of yesterday have not led to any more pleasing view of the effect of this Budget statement than first impressions created. On the contrary, I think that the favourable, or semi-favourable, reception that the Budget statement received will hardly bear examination from anyone who is concerned rather with the mass of the people than with the comparative few, the comparatively smaller proportion even, of the 60,000 income tax-payers who will benefit by this measure. I repeat the statement, with a little addition, that it is unjustifiable to borrow £550,000 towards the expenditure on the Army on the plea that it is non-recurrent, by a simple mental process of reducing the figure which you think should be considered normal when, at the same time, you are proposing what will be, in effect, if it is to fulfil the prediction of the Minister, a more costly Army apart from the reduction in the number of men in the standing forces. Such forces as the Minister has indicated as being in mind will inevitably be required to be fully equipped with armaments and that will be a constantly recurring item.

Consequently I think, on the evidence so far adduced as to the Minister's intentions or hopes, there is no justification for considering £550,000 as non-recurrent, especially in view of the statement made by his colleague, the Minister for Defence, who is primarily responsible in this matter, a few weeks ago, that he would not look with favour on the establishment of a territorial force. I do not know whether the Minister for Defence has changed his mind, or whether he has been overborne by the Executive Council, but I think it is well that we should find out exactly where we are and ascertain which head of the Executive Council is speaking in this matter. I also think that the criticism directed last year is entitled to be repeated, namely, that when framing a Budget statement it is not wise finance to take into account a surplus due to deliberate over-estimation, and that it is one of the departures from the British financial procedure which I think is not justified.

I think that if there is to be a surplus surrenderable it might just as well go to a reduction of the National Debt in Ireland as in England. I, therefore, think that in respect of these two items required by the Minister to enable him to show a Budget with a surplus he is working upon a wrong basis.

I draw attention to the omission from the Estimates and also from the Budget speech of any appropriation or account in respect of the Gaeltacht Commission's recommendations. It is undoubtedly true that, in respect of the economic sphere, some of these recommendations, if carried into effect, would require expenditure. We have to take it then from the Budget statement that it is not contemplated that there will be any expenditure in the coming year under the head of the Gaeltacht Commission's Report.

I notice too, and ask the House to take into account that in arriving at his balance the Minister has reduced the sum set apart last year in respect of public works which would require labour by £148,000; that there is no sum set apart for relief work; and that there is a decline of £70,000 in the estimated amount for housing. It is well that we should recognise that these reductions have had to be made before the Minister could arrive at his balance. We are, by all prophecy, being precluded from the consideration of these Estimates before the election, and from the consideration of the effect upon the public prosperity of such reductions—reductions which are clearly designed to reduce the amount to be spent on wages. Consequently it is the workman who is to be the loser. While the Minister has produced his figures on the basis of the Estimate, less what he considers to be a surplus, I think we have to bear in mind the experience of recent years, and assure ourselves that there will almost certainly be claims for more money by means of Supplementary Estimates.

Replying to the statement made by Deputy Morrissey regarding old age pensions, and the promise of the Minister that the repayment to the old age pensioners of the cut that was made in their allowances would take precedence of any other remission in taxation, the Minister repeated the language of his original undertaking. He said that emphasis should be placed upon the phrase "if the situation is found to have improved," that is, presumably, the general economic situation. If the situation had improved the cut would be restored. I gather that his excuse for the breach of his word in this matter is the confession that in fact the situation has not improved, that the economic situation prevailing in April, 1925, has not been bettered, or at least has not been bettered sufficiently to allow him to repay the quarter million pounds that Deputy Morrissey spoke of. He therefore prefers to pay to the richer income-tax-payers the sum which he had promised hitherto should be paid to the old age pensioners.

I want to direct attention to the effect of this welcome reduction in the rate of income tax. Looked at uncritically it seems to be very generous, very useful, and very valuable to the income tax payer. But I am asking the House to take into account the effect, bearing in mind the statement the Minister made that, in the judgment of the Executive Council, it is much more beneficial to the general well-being that there should be a general cut in the rate of income tax than that there should be exemptions and allowances. The effect of this general reduction in the rate of income tax might be illustrated in this way: A man has a wife and two children. He is in receipt of £500 a year, earned income. Tax does not fall upon the first £338 in this case, taking into account the allowances for himself and his wife and the two children. The net effect in respect of that man is that the rate of reduction upon the whole, income is under 2d. in the £ on his whole income, instead of 1s. in the £. But if you take the richer man with, say, £3,000 earned income, with a wife and two children, the net result to him is a reduction of 9d. in the £ on the whole of his income. In the case of such a man with unearned income, the reduction is equivalent to 10d. in the £ on the whole of his income. So that in this case, as in so many other cases, the result of the Minister's generosity is to help the rich as compared with the less rich. The Minister told us that there were, say, 60,000 income tax payers. I venture to guess that three-fourths of those will be under this £500 limit, so that the real benefit of this income tax reduction is for a quarter of the income tax payers, say, for 15,000, people who are in receipt of more than £500 per year. If, on the other hand, the Minister had adopted the practice which had been advised and moved for on these Benches, in other years, of making greater exemptions on the lower rates of income, the net result would have been of much greater benefit to the community.

As I said, this figure of 45,000 income tax payers in receipt of less than £500 per year is only a guess, and is open to the Minister's correction. It may be found to be on the moderate side. But let us say that there are 45,000 income tax payers in receipt of incomes of less than £500 per year. This remission is not going to divert these small savings amounting to, say, £3 or £4 a year, into new investments, which is the case put forward in favour of the remission. We are told that the remission is going to stimulate industrial activity by encouraging people to invest what is saved from income tax in industry. That is unlikely to happen in the case of the 45,000 income tax payers, who will receive something less than £4 per year of a remission. The Minister has repeated on this occasion, and his statement is echoed by the Press, that the reduction in income tax will prove a great stimulus to industrial activity. On the 22nd April, 1925, in his Budget statement, the Minister said:—

It can hardly be doubted that a reduction in taxation will have on industry and commerce a stimulating effect not to be obtained otherwise.

The remission then amounted to one shilling in the pound. I ask the Minister now to give us the evidences of the results of that particular remission of one shilling in income tax on industry and commerce. There had been at that time a remission of over a hundred million in British income tax, but there was no evidence up to then, and there is no evidence even yet, as to the effect of that in stimulating industrial activity. I think there is a good deal of fallacy about the idea that if you remit taxation which the individual has been paying it will inevitably lead to a revival of industry—that the money remitted will find its way into a better type of spending, and in that way encourage production. I say that that is largely fallacious—that money collected by the Government and devoted to industrial production by wise economic effort is equally good to the general well-being as that same money spent in the same way by the individual. It would be no better and no worse. If that money which is collected by the Government is spent wisely in productive activity it is infinitely better to the general national economy than if left in the hands of the individual to be spent unwisely and wastefully. On the contrary, if the individual can be guaranteed to spend it wisely and economically in the encouragement of home production, it is infinitely better than that the Government should collect it and spend it wastefully. I say there is no evidence whatever, judging by the last remission of a shilling in the pound, that this new remission of a shilling in the pound is likely to increase the amount of money directed to industrial activity in this country. It is just as likely—perhaps more likely if other things are not changed—that that saving will be invested in over-seas enterprise or spent in imported products.

I asked the Minister, in the course of my statement yesterday, to give us some evidence of the improvement in the general economic situation. He referred me to the figures he had quoted in his speech. I have looked through his speech and I presume his reference was to such figures as these—an increase in the savings bank deposits from £2,400,000 to £2,700,000; an increase in the purchase of savings certificates by £600,000; that 200 representative firms had shown profits only five per cent. lower than in 1925—(a striking evidence of growing prosperity !) that revenue from duty on alcoholic spirit was £46,000 more than had been anticipated but that there had been a decrease in the consumption of beer by 30,000 standard barrels. Perhaps the Minister will be able to point to other figures in his statement which are evidences of improvement than these. Except the doubtful evidence of the increase in savings bank deposits and in the purchase of savings certificates—totalling £900,000—I see no evidence of any improvement in any of these figures.

The Minister may point to the increase in the revenue from income tax, which shows a surprising surplus over the amount that was estimated for. We are told that the tax collected exceeded the estimate by £230,000. I take it that that amount above the estimate was collected largely in respect to arrears, and over and above the arrears collection of that was contemplated. I take it that in the main those collections were from the people who will be paying income tax in the forthcoming year and mainly from business men of one class or another. I am curious to know how you reconcile the claim that the remission of £550,000 is going to stimulate economic activity with the claim that the collection of this excess has not caused depression. It seems to me that if there is any effect upon economic activity by the collection or non-collection of income tax, you have got to put against the coining stimulus the depression which has been caused by your over-collection by your rigorous collection.

I say evidences of improvement are called for. I agree that it is sometimes valuable for people to believe that there exists that which they only hope will exist because it will help them to make real what is merely an ideal. I think, though, that it may be carried too far and I do not think it is wise that we should continue talking about the turn of the tide, the improvement that has now begun, and evidences of increased prosperity unless we have something tangible produced. I hope the Minister will be able to produce real tangible evidence of an increase of prosperity in the country, and improvement in economic conditions agriculturally, industrially, and commercially. I am going to give the Minister an opportunity to make a considered statement on that point. If it is not possible for him to make that statement, then he has a responsibility to make considerable changes, radical changes, in the fiscal system which he is, up to now, advocating and practising.

We are dealing with taxation and I take it we are all agreed that the taxing system, one way or another, has an effect upon the industrial, agricultural and commercial life. With that assumption I am going to ask for evidences of the success of the existing system, and if that cannot be pointed to, then I am going to demand that there shall be some change in the system.

In another place I quoted some figures which I intend to use again. It is much more important that figures of this kind should be quoted here so that they can be met rather than be passed over without comment. Since the Ministry came into office they have had great trials and troubles, but they have had three years in which to recover from those trials and troubles. Great as the upset caused by those trials and troubles to industry and commerce was, they were not sufficient to justify persisting in the excuse that all present troubles can be traced to that particular period.

No one said so.

Quite apart from money values, which are not the best guide, if taken alone, to national prosperity or the hope of future prosperity, the actual true economic position is based upon the natural wealth, the human wealth, the area of land under cultivation, the live-stock population and the production of manufactured commodities. There is not much use in calculating the value of the exchanges and taking that merely, unless we can point to an actual improvement, an actual increase in the real wealth of the country, produced within the country or imported into the country as a result of the export of commodities which have been produced within the country. The cattle population of the Free State rose from 4,234,000 in, 1913 to 4,326,000 in 1922. The last figures available are for June, 1926, and the figure supplied by the Department, was 3,947,000.

What period does that figure cover?

It represents the cattle population on June 1st, 1926. That is to say, as from June 1st, 1922, to June 1st, 1926, there was a decline in the cattle population of 379,000. I make a present to the Minister of this very important modification, which is that there had been, as compared with 1922, an increase in milch cows and in-calf heifers of 23,000. That is satisfactory, though it is very small, but it is a sign of an increase in the breeding population of cattle. However, it is only 23,000 out of a total running into millions. In regard to sheep the decline, as compared with 1922, was 64,000. As compared with 1913, the decline was 269,000. In regard to pigs, notwithstanding improvements, the decline, as compared with 1922, was 35,000, and as compared with 1913, 10,000. As regards lands under corn and green crops, ploughed land, the decline in acreage as compared with 1922 was 218,000 acres, and as compared with 1913, 146,000 acres, the lowest acreage under cultivation certainly since 1845. There was a decline in the human population as compared with the 1911 census, of 167,000 people.

Another consideration is that there has been a decline in the quality of cattle and sheep. I said I was not dealing with money values, because they are subject to influences over which we have no control, and they may be largely due to speculations in other countries, to imports into England from other countries, or a decline from one cause or another in demand, but we are now dealing with capital resources apart from exchanges. It might be said quite fairly, if it were a fact, that though the cattle population had declined in numbers there has really been an increase in the values.

I produce the evidence of Mr. W.J. Dewar, of Merklands, Glasgow, who, writing in the "Irish Times" in January of this year, gave, as one engaged largely in the trade, a friendly warning. He said:—"Another Irish grass-fed season is over, and unfortunately it has proved more disastrous financially than its two predecessors." The causes, he explained, were lack of quality of beef and not of breeding, which has steadily improved. This lack of quality of beef was due to the deterioration of grass, which had declined owing to the lack of manure, and the want of proper feeding.

That in its turn is an indication of comparative poverty. It is not a sign of growing prosperity. Then we may take other aspects of the economic position. If we were able to say, "Well, doubtless agriculture has declined, but there have been great improvements industrially, in manufactures," I want the Minister to give us evidence that that is so, but I think the evidence he will be able to give will emphasize my point that where there is an improvement, a sign of growth and development, it is in those departments of our economic activities which have been the subject of direct State assistance, direct public support, fostering and protection. I will come to that again.

Concurrently with the years of the Government's power and administration, concurrently with those declines in cattle population and in the areas of ploughed lands, we have had a decline in the amounts of deposits in the banks operating in the Saorstát, comparing December, 1926, with June, 1922, of £30,000,000, and a decline in bank clearances—cheques cleared through Dublin banks—of 25 per cent. If we could point out, and I hope the Minister will be able to do so, that this decline in deposits has simply been due to the withdrawal of deposits for investments in industry or stock, so much the better, and so much the more satisfactory. I cannot, however, reconcile other evidences with any such statement.

Let me draw attention to one very striking feature of this economic position. Of the total quantity of goods imported for domestic consumption, that is in money value, no less than 45 per cent. is foodstuffs, and that in an agricultural country. Even in Great Britain, a manufacturing country, its importation does not amount to more than 56 per cent. in respect of foodstuffs, while according to the figures given by the Government 45 per cent. of our imports for domestic or home consumption are in the nature of foodstuffs. Of our exports no less than 86 per cent. are foodstuffs and live stock. Out of our total importation of £61,000,000, in or about, in 1926, with a slight variation in 1925, agricultural produce of one kind or another was no less than £15,500,000. I think that is a deplorable situation, and I want to know whether the Ministers think that their present taxing policy is leading to any improvement. The remedy, so far as expounded by the Minister for this very deplorable state of things, is to reduce the income tax by one shilling in the pound, the effect of which will be to relieve 15,000 income tax payers of sums ranging from £4 upwards per annum. I think that is a very small thing to produce the very big result that is needed.

Ministers will answer: "This is not the only thing that we have done. We are exercising our ingenuity and using our powers and authority to encourage development of various kinds." They are spending money on subsidising beet sugar production, they are spending money on the encouragement of cooperative organisation of the dairying industry, they are spending money upon the electrical power proposal and they are laying the foundations for future prosperity. I think all these things are very good and very valuable, one might almost say, very necessary, but they are not enough. There are people hungry, even in this year, 1927. There are people without clothing. There are thousands idle—50,000, I dare say: I cannot get the numbers— and all these other men who, because of the decline in livestock and the decline in tillage, are partially employed, and there is that enormous economic waste, and the remedy is to lay the foundations for future prosperity by remitting a shilling from the income tax. I plead that that is not enough. I point to the fact which to me is evident, that apart from one or two small categories in the agricultural world, say the accidental prosperity that has come from the export of pork, and a few small things like that, wherever there is a sign of improvement, wherever there is a sign of life, it is due to the direct stimulus provided by the State, by bounties and subsidies, or by protective tariffs. And yet, notwithstanding that feature of our economic life of today, the Ministers have put upon themselves the self-denying ordinance that they will not spend any more money in this direction this year, so far as the Budget programme would suggest, and that there will not of a surety be any more tariffs on imported manufactures, or imported raw materials, or agricultural produce until the persons interested in such tariffs have made a case to the satisfaction of a Tariff Commission.

Ministers themselves will not inquire into the wisdom or unwisdom from a national point of view of any tariff or subsidy or bounty. They are going to wait until the persons interested are sufficiently keen and eager to present a case to a Tariff Commission and prove to that Tariff Commission that such and such a proposal will be sufficiently beneficial to those individuals who are pleading, without being detrimental to other sections of the national life, to warrant the imposition of such a tariff. I say that that is a policy that is stultifying development and is indicative of a state of mind in the Ministry showing that they are at loggerheads on this issue and quite unable to make up their minds. The President, three months ago, made a statement in the country which was reported in the "Irish Times." He said: "A duty devolved upon the Government to do what it could to give employment if it could not be found at other industrial sources and by way of industrial expansion, and in the absence of these things they must do something." I read that with very great hope. I thought it was to be the prelude to a distinct move forward in respect of solutions for the unemployment and the under-employment that is prevalent. But we have had no further indication of any kind that there was anything behind that except an appeal to the fancies of the immediate crowd in front of the President. I want to know whether that was a serious contribution to public discussion, made on the responsibility of the President, or whether it was only to tickle the fancies of the crowd in front. "A duty devolved upon the Government to do what it could to give employment if it could not be found at other industrial sources and by way of industrial expansion, and in the absence of these things they must do something."

What are they doing? There is nothing in this Budget proposal to indicate that there is any thought of doing something. Employment has not been found at other industrial sources, or by way of industrial expansion, and I am waiting to hear the Minister's statement, which was omitted from the Budget speech, as to what they intend to do.

I believe that the course adopted by the Government in regard to the stimulation of agriculture, as evidenced by the beet sugar proposition, with the clearly beneficial results in an increase in that kind of activity, should be followed in respect of other primary products of agricultural work. I make the proposition to the Minister that it is good national policy to stimulate agricultural production, to increase the pool of wealth production in this country, that he should tell the agriculturists that they may produce wheat and barley and oats without fear of loss, that the Government will guarantee a price for standard qualities of wheat and barley and oats, and will guarantee that that price will cover productive expenses, including remuneration for the farmer himself.

Would Deputy Johnson take on the job?

Yes, sir, and I would look for your help.

You would need my help, I think.

I am not sure that I would get it, unless Deputy Gorey is prepared to throw overboard all his protestations in this House in regard to interference by the Government in such matters as agricultural production. I believe that the beet sugar proposition, apart from its obvious extravagance, has resulted in stimulating agricultural production, which would not otherwise have been forthcoming, and I believe that the same procedure should be adopted to stimulate a tillage policy widely throughout the country by guaranteeing a price for grain crops. I think that as a necessary consequence of that there would be required a national control of imports of wheat, flour, barley, and oats, so far as oats are imported, and probably also maize, and I think that the combination would make a considerable difference in the position, both of agriculture and, indirectly, of industrial activity in the towns. It would require a different kind of Budget from that which the Minister has produced, but it would bring economic results of benefit to the country. But I think also that the Minister ought to go very much further in giving a direct stimulus to productive activities in the towns. I think Ministers have failed utterly to appreciate the need for stimulating employment of a productive character. It is very good, very valuable, and, especially in view of the deterioration of recent years, it was almost necessary that large sums of money should be spent upon road work, housing, and the like. But when all that is said and done, the value that will be achieved economically from these things will be spread over a long period, and will not show itself with any immediacy, and I am of opinion that we are bound, if we are to save the people of this generation, of this year 1927—and we have to take them into account—to enter upon a period of direct stimulus, at the expense of the State, through productive activities, in industry as well as in agriculture.

I think Ministers have failed to appreciate the needs of the day. They are trusting in this Budget to the ordinary development of economic activities and they are hoping that by the exercise of this great effort the country will rise to the heights of 1913, with 13/-, 14/, and 15/- a week wages to the workman, that we will get back to that period of prosperity! That is about the thought which seems to inspire some members of the Ministry when they are talking in the country of the results of their agricultural and industrial policy. I say that the proposals in regard to taxation which the Minister outlined for us yesterday are of very little value, if any, in respect to stimulating industrial activity, and that in so far as it is going to be beneficial, it is going to be beneficial to that very small minority of people who are in receipt of big incomes, that even the 30,000 or 40,000 people who have incomes of less than £500 a year are going to receive very little benefit from this wonderful concession.

It may possibly—and to the extent that it does it is satisfactory—deter some timid people who are on the point of leaving the country and going across the water. It may decide that they shall stay for another year or it may attract some other birds of passage and doubtful quantities who can choose at a week's notice whether they shall live in England or in Ireland. It may possibly attract a few people of that type while our income tax is one shilling lower than the rate on the other side of the border or across the water, but that is a very poor reliance. In another year the British may reduce their income tax even below ours. All the promises of the Minister's speech point to this—that in the absence of a revival of industry or of a revival of agriculture there is going to be in the next year or two, a necessary increase in taxation. That was running right through the Minister's speech of yesterday. If he wants to avoid that increase in two years' time, he must present to us as a Government policy a more determined scheme for stimulating that industrial activity than he has yet put before us.

I do not take the line that Deputy Johnson takes in connection with this remission of taxation. I believe that the remission of one shilling will be beneficial not alone to the man who receives it but that it will undoubtedly stimulate productive activities. To agree with Deputy Johnson one might as well say that if one shilling remission makes no difference, an income tax of 10/- would make no difference. If one shilling reduction in 4/- has no effect and if income tax has no effect, why not have a 10/- tax and then we would see how prosperous the country would become? The Government cannot make the country prosperous. The Government have special functions—to maintain order and so on. The country cannot be made prosperous, by regulation and by the passing of laws and while we believe that there are too many officials at present and that our prosperity is undoubtedly bound up with the question of administrative expenses, locally and centrally, our idea is to cheapen expenses, by that means reduce taxation and thereby enable us to cheapen production so that we can beat out all competitors. That is the sound way to look at the matter. I do not care what Government is in power; they cannot make this country prosperous unless the people work harder. They must not of course have to carry an excessive load of taxation. That is a fundamental point in my political creed.

I believe also that the Government are chancing their arm a little on this shilling reduction. It smacks a good deal of what I might call shaky finance. It is questionable whether the Government ought to have thrown away one shilling in income tax as they have to save £630,000 on their Estimates. The income that they would receive from the Currency Commission is wiped out, by the annual payment on foot of the financial settlement with England— £250,000 for sixty years and all they can depend on to meet the reduction of one million pounds which this shilling remission will mean next year, is the result of the efforts of their investigating committee. If we are to carry on at the present rate of taxation the results of this committee must be effective in finding that million pounds. I would also suggest to the Minister that he should, if he could, extend the operations of that investigating committee to local services. Local taxation is a weight on us in the country. We have no machinery there to find out exactly whether these services are too expensive or not.

A Geddes Committee.

I wanted to avoid mentioning a "Geddes" Committee. We have been asking for such a committee for the last three years. I take it that the Government mean business —not telling the people they are going to do something which they do not intend to do.

The Deputy misunderstood me. What I meant was that it was open to any county council during the last three or four years to get in its own "Geddes" Committee.

Cork has done it and starved three or four people to death.

Cork had nothing to do with people being starved to death.

Yes, it had—the Cork Public Assistance Committee.

I hope the Government mean business; otherwise they will have to increase taxation. They have reduced their revenue and unless by a reduction in expenditure through this committee they save one million they will have to increase taxation again. The Government cannot be depending on the Tariff Commission. They cannot ask them to find them something to put a tariff on—we will not have that. They cannot say to the Commission: "Recommend a tariff on flour which will bring in so much," and therefore claim to balance the Budget. That way of meeting expenditure will not do. The Minister indicated something like that.

The Minister expected to receive something from the operations of the Tariff Commission.


Deputy Johnson's solution is the imposition of tariffs. Let us compare our position with that of the people in the Six Counties. We pay twopence on our letters; they pay three-halfpence. The cost of living here is increased owing to the collection at the ports of something like £1,200,000 in tariffs, plus whatever the retailer passes on to the consumer—in all probably £1,500,000 or £2,000,000. The people in the North of Ireland have not to pay that, and consequently the cost of living there is low. Compared with pre-war, their pound is worth probably 16/-, while ours is only worth 14/- or 15/- in purchasing power, owing to this tariff policy. On the other hand, owing to the action of the Dáil we were able to buy our land cheaper, and that is a big factor. Their income tax is slightly higher, but that does not affect the bulk of the people. They pay a higher duty on tea and sugar than we do. They pay old age pensioners a shilling more than we do. They have pensions for widows and orphans which, are subsidised by the State, but which are really on a contributory basis. I am not convinced that even as compared with the best time during the British occupation, when they paid the old age pensioners 10/-, we are not doing as well by paying them 9/-, as the cost of living has fallen since then. It is said that if you threw a stone in Rome you would probably hit a Cardinal. We are getting to the position that if you threw a stone in the Free State you would probably strike a pensioner.

Or an official?

Farmers' sons.

I do not know who gets the pensions, but they are becoming obnoxious to my sense of what is right. How is it possible to say that we are doing an injustice to old age pensioners when we have men working hard all day in the fields for 10/- a week and their food?

Can the Deputy suggest any remedy? Can he suggest any means by which a farmer can pay out of the profits on his land a wage which will come up to the standard suggested by the Labour Party?


I will just read a paragraph from a paper read at a meeting of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland by Mr. Thomas Barrington:—

"However chequered has been the record of agriculture in Ireland, there is not a scintilla of evidence in the ample statistical material available to suggest that the Irish farmer has regulated his productive activities otherwise than in accordance with the economic tendencies of his time."

The farmer grows what he can sell. He will not grow what he cannot sell. Deputy Johnson suggests that he should be guaranteed a certain price for his produce. The Deputy has taken that suggestion from Fianna Fáil. I heard that four months ago from one of their platforms.

It is the other way round.

I heard it expounded by some of their speakers with great elaboration. Let us examine into that. We know what happened in reference to sugar beet. The Government guaranteed a sum which would cover 5,000 acres and 10,000 acres of beet were grown. If there was a guarantee of a shilling a barrel for oats, the farmers would grow so much oats that we would not know what to do with it. It would probably be exported and sold at 10/- per barrel, and the taxpayer would be paying the farmers 14/- per barrel for oats which would be exported and sold at 10/-. What would become of the guaranteed price in that case?

Who will buy it? We will grow as much oats in one year as will fill all the barns. What will become of it? Tell us what we are to do with it? Everyone knows what happened with regard to beet. If a guaranteed price is assured for oats it will be grown in such quantities that it will be selling at 9s. a barrel, while the Government will be paying another 4s. That is what it comes to when examined. Anyone who goes into the question will see I am right. Complaint is made that the estimates do not show where productive enterprise might, if necessary, be helped in the future. Is it not well known to Deputy Johnson that any money spent on productive enterprise, whether for drainage or sugar beet growing, is not coming out of taxation? It is placed on loan. Any money that is advanced in connection with the cooperative dairies will come back. It is merely a loan created by the credit of the State and repaid by the people who obtain it. The Barrow drainage is an exception, as half of the cost comes from taxation. It is not necessary to include a half a million in the estimate for such work. If an opportunity is found next year for the expenditure of the money it will go on loan. It is not necessary to bring it forward until the project is proceeding and is shown to be a good one.

It was done last year.

The Minister learns from experience. Plenty of money can be spent on projects that would not come within the Estimates. Deputy Johnson wants it done in a different way. I am not going to go over the Budget statement. One or two points in it struck me. The Minister has made out that oat milling has been made prosperous owing to the tariff. All I can say in regard to that is that the area under oats has fallen by 24,000 acres. We have evidence that in the North of Ireland especially the price of oats was not affected one jot by the tariff. The price of oats has not been affected. What happened is that the purchasers, the citizens of this State, have paid £15,000 which went into the coffers of the State in order to help one or two individuals who happened to have oat mills. That is what that amounts to.

The Minister's statement says, "Recent returns indicate that there will be a substantial recovery in the current year. The duty on wearing apparel yielded £79,000 more than in the previous year, in spite of the fact that since the imposition of the tariff the number of persons employed in the industry has risen by something like 4,200 and is still increasing. There are clear indications that increasing home production will lead to a reduced return from this tax in the present year." There again an enormous sum is being received. If the 4,200 operatives produce all the wearing apparel, the Minister—if he is still Minister for Finance —next year will be looking round for increased taxation. In my opinion this Budget has been prepared with the object of making it difficult for any future Minister for Finance to be in the position to carry on without increasing taxation.

Generally speaking, agriculture has not been booming. Neither has it been as bad as Deputy Johnson would have us to believe. There has, undoubtedly, been a decrease in the cattle population. Several reasons could be attributed for that. There was an outbreak of fluke and another reason for the fall is that cattle are being sold younger. They reach maturity quicker. There is more sale now for younger cattle and shippers are keener and pay a better price for them. Consequently there is a tendency amongst farmers to deplete their stock. That has something to do with the decreased number of cattle. Farmers want the money and will sell anything that will be a paying proposition. If cattle are paying they will be sold.


The carrying power of grass land cannot maintain itself without help. It fluctuates with the climate. If a season is wet the feeding quality of the grass is not the same as it is in a dry season. The breaking up of grass land to grow grain will seriously deteriorate the land. I hope the Minister is going to make the committee of investigation a real live one. It is the only hope that I see if the country is to be carried on without increased taxation. If the committee is successful in its operations we can carry on with the present taxation. If it is only to be a gesture to the public for the next election it would be far better for the Minister to have hung on to his shilling income tax. Otherwise he will be in difficulties. I agree that in the difficult circumstances in which we find ourselves a reduction of one shilling in the income tax is very welcome. I hope it will be followed up by the committee of investigation and that there will be greater results in the future.

After making allowance for non-recurrent or abnormal expenditure the Minister has arrived at the net figure of £23,181,000 for his Estimate for the coming year, and £23,809,000 for the net revenue, leaving what would appear to be a surplus £628,000. The first thing I wish to draw attention to is that—of course, in reality, that is not a surplus at all—this sum of £628,000 which the Minister is, if not wholly, certainly largely, applying now by way of reduction of a shilling in the income tax is provided chiefly by funding a sum of £683,000 out of the proposed expenditure on the Army for the current year. The reduction in income tax is in fact the only relief for the taxpayer contained in this Budget. That relief is brought about first, by cutting down future abnormal expenditure on the Army to £1,500,000, and charging £683,000 by way of borrowing, and secondly by an exceedingly close method, the Minister frames his estimate. The Minister has allowed £630,000 in this year's estimate for expenditure by way, as he says, of overestimate. Therefore he is cutting his margin exceedingly close.

Thirdly, he has held out a hope of a future reduction in expenditure, and because he is going to reduce expenditure as he hopes in the future he now proposes to reduce taxation. I desire to point out that the result of this proposal is that there is in fact no actual surplus, nor is there any immediate reduction in Army expenditure. Reading the Press to-day any ordinary person might be led to think, in the first place, that the Minister had an actual surplus to dispose of, and in the second place that there was to be an immediate reduction in Army expenditure. Now, the surplus that he has brought about is a sum which I consider he is warranted in funding, and not charging to normal expenditure. In this regard the only complaint I have to make is that this was not done at least twelve months ago. The Minister, at the close of his speech last night, referred to suggestions that I had made regarding expenditure on increased old age pensions, and a reduction of the existing liquor duties. He stated that he did not regard them as having been made either after study or with seriousness. That may be his opinion about the suggestions I have made on this Budget, and he is welcome to it. He had the same opinion about suggestions I made upon the course that he should take on last year's Budget, but he has altered his opinion since, and perhaps if he is in the same position this time next year he may have occasion to alter his opinion about my present suggestions. I do not accuse the Minister, nor do I grudge him the fact, that he has, to a certain extent, stolen my thunder. He is welcome to it, but my complaint is that if he had adopted the same course in regard to the funding of this half-million odd of Army expenditure last year that there would have been no——

National Party.

Necessity for the new taxes which were then introduced, and that he could have carried on last year as he is proposing to carry on during the coming year. Deputies may perhaps be inclined to think that I am somewhat extravagant or boastful in making these statements, but I would like to refer them to what I said on the 23rd April last year, on the occasion of the Budget debate. I said then:—

"The new taxes are estimated to bring in £305,000. If the Minister had seen fit to have funded another half-million of the expenditure on the Army I say there would have been no necessity for the imposition of these extra taxes, and there would have been even the possibility of reducing or remitting existing taxation."

I went on to say:—

"I would suggest that he could have taken not two millions as the future basis for recurrent expenditure on the Army, but at most one and a-half millions, and so release half-a-million for the relief of present taxation."

That was the suggestion I made last year. The Minister has adopted it this year, and my only complaint is that he did not do it sooner. Now, in referring to the future basis of Army expenditure, the Minister has also adopted my previous suggestion—a suggestion that was made not once but many times in this House, and that is, that we could do with a smaller standing army, and also provide something in the nature of a territorial force. I would like to join with Deputy Johnson in inquiring whether, in taking this course now, the Minister has the concurrence of his colleague, the Minister for Defence, who so stoutly resisted it upon every occasion that I suggested it. However, it certainly is a gratification to know that these suggestions, though they may not, in the words of the Minister, have been made a year ago after study and with seriousness, are now considered to be in such a category that they have been approved by the Minister.

As regards the proposed Committee, the Minister himself says that this is not a Geddes Committee, and with that I am in total agreement with him. It is no such thing. It is to be a Departmental Committee presided over, where possible, by a Minister. It is to be a Committee consisting of civil servants, and it is to inquire into the whole system of the working of the Civil Service. It will be nothing in the nature of an independent body, but will be judge, jury, and all appointed by the Minister for Finance and presided over by perhaps another of his colleagues. It is a step in the right direction, but it is certainly not acceding to the request which has been so persistently made that there should be something in the nature of an independent inquiry made. What strikes me is that if this Committee, composed as it is to be, of civil servants, is to be of any use at all, it must devote a considerable amount of time and of investigation to the question. If that is so, and if these civil servants can be spared from their various departments, I submit that it is in itself proof that the departments at the moment are certainly not under-manned. If civil servants can be spared to devote their time and energy to investigating the work of other civil servants, then I submit that there was certainly a case for the claim that has been made, that already the departments themselves are over-manned. When this Committee does investigate these various departments it will be nothing in the nature of an independent investigation, and, therefore, of course, it will lose considerably in value when it makes its report. The Minister, in setting up this Committee, has said:—"That the Executive Council is satisfied that the time has now come when such a survey can and must be begun." I would like to ask him why it is that the time has now come, why it had not come a year ago, and why it did not occur two years ago. What is there in particular about the present time that renders it necessary, according to him, that such a survey must be begun and such a committee set up?

I suggest that the reason why, in the Minister's view, and in that of his colleagues, the time has now come when such a survey must be taken is because of the insistent propaganda in favour of some form of investigation and, also, on account of the proximity of the General Election. I can see no other reason why it is necessary to set up this Committee now if it was not necessary to set it up previously.

Now with regard to what I may call the omissions from this Budget one could dilate upon the whole system of taxation because nothing has been done by way of remission except in regard to one item. And while I welcome, most sincerely, the step taken, as a step in the right direction, I think it is a pity that while making this reduction in income tax it was not found possible to do something in regard to the method of the collection of that tax —I am referring especially to abatements. I think it would have been even better instead of having made an all-round reduction of a shilling if there had been a reduction of a smaller sum and if the remaining amount could have been made up by increasing the allowance by way of abatements.

Would the Deputy give us some details upon that?

I am giving it as my opinion that it would have been better to make up some of the difference by way of abatement.

May I ask the Deputy if he has any example to give of that?

It would help people with smaller incomes and it would not have been so much in favour of those who have a certain income as this proposal is——

Will the Deputy give a case that he has made out?

If the President will allow me to continue, I have no example here at my disposal.

It will do at the cross-roads !

If the President will remain in the House a little longer and not interrupt so much, it would be better.

The Deputy has no example?

I have not one in my possession at the moment, but I can assure the President that I shall be able to get one in a very short time if he has the patience to wait for it; I would like also to say that while I welcome this remission of income tax, I think that something could have been done by way of reduction in other respects; I refer, especially to the beer and spirit duties. The beer duty was reduced in England in 1923, and from that date the amount collected there by way of that duty has not declined. On the contrary. I believe that if these duties were reduced here there would be an increased consumption, and that that consumption would not be by those now consuming these commodities, but that it would be of a wider distribution. One effect of reducing those duties would be to encourage and increase agricultural production and sale. We have heard proposals that there should be a guaranteed price for various forms of grain. I am not going to enter into a discussion now as between Deputy Johnson and Deputy Wilson upon that subject. I am inclined to disagree with both of them.

That is safe?

But I do say that if the spirit duties and beer duties were reduced that would go a long way towards guaranteeing that barley grown in this country would be sold at a fair price instead of being sold at a loss, as it has been in various parts of the country recently. As I was about to say yesterday, when I was called to order, I do not see the soundness of producing new industries by way of subsidy or bounty, especially agricultural industries, while at the same time allowing existing ones to become derelict and almost disappear—I refer to the brewing and the distilling industries. Regarding other omissions, I would like to point out that on the question of unemployment the Government have made certain proposals which we are all acquainted with, and which are now working, but there is a great deal to be said from the point of view that they could do more.

I notice one item here of £25,000 has been funded for forestry. I suggest that more than £25,000 could be funded for that purpose, that it would give considerable employment, and would be of a lasting benefit to the country. It is provided, not by way of taxation, but by way of loan, and though it is necessary to place these actual loans for the moment in the Estimates because they are not of a recurrent character, at the same time I hope it is not the Ministry's intentions that they will devote merely this sum of £50,000 in all of which they have funded £25,000 for re-afforestation purposes. I think that would still be one means whereby they would bring considerable relief to unemployment and benefit to the country. We have heard a great deal about what has been done for unemployment, but I have an instance of how unemployment is due in my own constituency to the economic conditions prevailing there. The President recently visited two factories in the city of Waterford. I understand both these factories are now closed down. I refer to the margarine factory and portion of Messrs. Denny's bacon factory. I think something should be done to enable businesses like those to carry on. It may be said that that is due to one cause or another over which the Government have no control and for which they are not wholly and solely responsible. I admit that is so, but I would like to see something more definite in the general policy as outlined by the Minister for Finance to show how this state of affairs is going to be remedied. After all, he is the person responsible now, and he is budgeting and laying down his policy for the coming year. There is nothing in his statement of public policy to show how he proposes, in any way, to meet the present economic condition of affairs except by way of the reduction of this shilling in the income tax.

I think if he had taken my advice which he spurned a year ago and which he has now adopted in regard to the funding of a certain sum of the expenditure upon our National Army he would have been in a position now whereby he would have been able to have done considerably more to relieve the present conditions than he seems to be at the moment. We will be told that it is not possible to expend more money because here are the Estimates and here is all we have derived by way of revenue. I think the responsibility is with the Government for the Estimates being what they are. If they considered the suggestion put forward that there should have been a committee of investigation, whether Geddes or otherwise, into the whole system of expenditure which the Minister now says is necessary, I think they would have been in a very different position to-day. The Minister went further, because he said he was personally satisfied that economies will be shown to be possible in classes of expenditure that have not been the subject of public propaganda at all. If he is personally satisfied now that economies will be possible in such classes of expenditure I submit he should have been so satisfied some time ago and should have brought about those economies on which he is now banking for the future Budget.

It has been said, and I am inclined to agree, that this Budget is largely framed for immediate public consumption and perhaps to a certain extent satisfaction, and that whoever will have to produce the next Budget will find himself with a rather unpleasant legacy in the shape of this one. In fact, the Minister himself has gone so far as to say, though this reduction in income tax will cost us £500,000 this year that it is possible it would cost almost one million pounds in the coming year. That in itself will be a nice problem for the future Minister for Finance. Even if he himself will have to undertake his own obligations in that respect he will undoubtedly have to provide something in the nature of new taxation unless in the meantime he is able to effect the economies which he now, for the first time, sees to be possible and for which he now for the first time agrees that there should be a committee set up.

It is all very well for a Minister in an outgoing Government to make proposals such as this, but I think that when he or his successor comes to frame the Budget for the coming year, either he will regret he did not take outside advice before this, and reduce expenditure, or his successor will blame him for it. The position of the Government is very nice in this regard, but I do not think there are many in the State that will be seriously taken in by it. As the old saying goes, "When the devil is sick, the devil a saint would be. When the devil is well the devil a saint is he." It is all very well now for the Government going out of office, but when they are returned to office, as they hope they will be, there is no guarantee that they will not go on as they did in the last four years by way of gross extravagance, gross expenditure, and resultant over-taxation.

Hear, hear.

The Minister is inclined to agree with that statement, or else he is inclined to be derisive. The Minister is fond of derision, but it sometimes acts as a boomerang. Though he is fond of interrupting people at public meetings, and also in the Dáil, I think he will find before he is much longer in politics that it is wiser to hold his tongue.

When Deputy Johnson was speaking on this subject he entered into the agricultural realm. Some things he said with regard to cattle need to be explained. He gave the 1926 figures, and you must remember that when the census for that year was taken we were recovering from a period in which considerable mortality had taken place in cattle. Cows and calves had died wholesale, and, consequently, we were considerably short of our normal numbers. I attribute that to two causes, namely, the mortality in cattle at the period, and the fact that the market for younger cattle in Scotland and England is very much more favourable now than it was a few years ago. Most of the cattle left the country when two and a-half years old; consequently we had calves, yearlings, and two-year-olds, but now they are taken away very largely when one and a-half year old, and cattle of two years are missing to a large extent. That will explain Deputy Johnson's figures—the mortality and the demands for younger cattle.

My point is that it is not a decline of one year only, but a steady decline from 1922.

Yes, but the Deputy will accept my assurance that there are more cows in the country to-day than there have been for six years, and consequently, there will be more young cattle this year.

I gave the figures for 1926. I could not give them for this year.

I make the assertion that there will be more cows this year in milk, and, consequently, more cattle than there have been for six years. The decline in quality is also explained by the fact that in the winter and early spring of 1926 feeders got no return for cattle which they fed. The only cattle that paid were those which were out-fed. Stall-feds were kept at a loss. Any man who stall-fed his cattle last year and this year, experienced a loss. The only return which he got in 1925 and 1926 was for outside cattle. Consequently, he was not inclined to do much this year in the way of in-feeding. I have no doubt that the quality in regard to breed is very much improving. The Deputy can accept my statement that the decline in quality was attributable to the poor return for finished cattle on a falling beef market. With regard to the case which the Deputy made for guaranteed prices for the various corn crops, and the comparison he made between beet and other crops, I do not think that he was quite fair to himself. I think he unconsciously lost his sense of proportion. Beet is a new crop. It has been grown here for the first time as a commercial proposition. As a commercial proposition, we never had a beet factory before.

Is it a commercial proposition?

It is attempted to be a commercial proposition. Beet has been grown for the first time in an attempt to make it a commercial proposition. No one would attempt to compare oats, barley and other rotation crops with beet, a crop which is only in its infancy, and anyone who would do so, would be making a ridiculous comparison.

They have done it in other countries.

They have done it with corn in other countries, and given guaranteed prices?

I pity the country that had to do it. If a guarantee were given for every crop sown you would require two officials to every worker. I can not understand Deputy Johnson visualising that as an ideal state of affairs.

Would the Deputy support his argument by quoting the number of officials required for supervising the beet factory?

There would be a much larger area to be supervised if all corn-crops were to be guaranteed than in the case of a beet factory.

Give us the figures.

Would the Deputy give us a forecast of a budget based on his claim? Could he give an approximation, even in millions? I will not the him to millions.

Quote the figures.

The Deputy is a great man at figures. He has spent his life at them, and I hope he will be able to give them to us. Deputy Wilson made a point that deserves a great deal of attention from the Minister.

It is dealing with a matter that we preached here in the Dáil in 1922-23, and that we have been preaching since. That was taken up in later years by the public Press of the country, after being advocated by us here. Some great editors would like now to get credit for the idea, but in this matter they are really only attempting to pick somebody else's brains. I want the Minister to consider the suggestion that that proposal should be extended to county administration. I do not mean a special committee for each county, but there should be a central committee to investigate expenditure in the several counties. After the last county council elections, I succeeded in getting a committee of investigation appointed in toy county. They dealt with one item, the asylum expenditure, but they could not continue. They had not the time. What is more, perhaps, the expert knowledge and ability are not there to deal in every county with the question of local administration. There was another hindrance to their succeeding, and that was that after making recommendations they found some of them held up by the Department for Local Government and Public Health.

I stress this point more perhaps than some people will think it deserves. I do it for this reason: there are two items of expenditure that the people of the country at the present time find it difficult to bear. These are national expenditure and local expenditure. These two classes of expenditure are borne by two classes. From time to time I hear the Government blamed and I hear every man here in the Dáil blamed for the load of taxation that is pressing on the country.

And the Deputy helped to create that impression.

I will create it still. There are very few people in the country indeed who pay income tax and help to swell the State revenue. The ordinary man in the country, except for incidental and indirect taxation, has little to do with the matter of State expenditure. He has nothing to do with departmental staffing and he has nothing to do with these big questions and big items of national outgoings for which money has to be found. His whole concern is with local taxation. For the cost of local taxation and for the way in which it presses on the people the Government have been blamed, but the Government is in no way responsible for local taxation. It is the local authorities and the trend of the times that are responsible for local rates. If the people in the country demand big and generous home help, generous pay to road constructors, generous salaries to county council officials and to asylum officials—if they demand these things and if their local representatives vote for these things, then nobody is to be blamed but these people themselves. I want this matter to be brought home to the people of the country. I want them to understand what is meant when the cry is raised that the Government is bearing down upon and crushing out the people by heavy rates. The Government has nothing to do with that. The rates are raised and spent by the local people.

I am very keen in seeing that county expenditure should be brought down to the lowest possible point consistent with efficiency and with the needs and requirements of the people. If I ever felt sorry for a statesman, or a budding statesman, it was for Deputy Redmond. Here we have the leader of a new Party, inheriting a great name. He and his friends up and down the country, speaking from platforms at the cross-roads, have been telling the people what they would be able to do for them if they had the handling of the administration. Here Deputy Redmond was dealing with the Budget and dealing with the Estimates. Every item of expenditure could have been dealt with by him in his speech, but he failed to show us what his claim to existence is at all as a political party. It is all very well to have criticism at the cross-roads and at country meetings, but it is another thing to have criticism here where the criticism can be answered and where a man may prove himself a fool if he makes assertions that will not stand the test of intelligent examination. I say further that this method of going to the country cross-roads and making statements that could not be made here is an insult to the intelligence of the people of the country. I say it is trading on their lack of education and the lack of facilities that they have not had, but which I hope they will have in the future. I say such conduct is little short of dishonesty. Why cannot a man of the responsibility of Deputy Redmond state here what he is stating in the country? That sort of thing is not good enough for the Dáil, but his Party consider it is good enough for what they regard in their own minds as the "country mugs."

The Deputy referred to the suggested reduction on the Army Vote. That amounts to a half-million. I do not think that this half a million is going to weigh one way or another in the financial condition of this country. If Deputy Redmond took the line that he and his colleagues are taking down the country, it is not £500,000, but £5,000,000 they should be talking about. Sometimes they are talking about much more than £5,000,000. Some of them tell us that the expenditure of the country should be divided by two—that is, that our £22,000,000 or £23,000,000 taxation should be reduced to £11,000,000. I have heard no attempt made by the Deputy to prove here in the Dáil the cross-road harangues that we have read in the papers and that some of us have listened to down the country. Deputy Redmond did make a suggestion, last year for the first time, that other Deputies had been making for three or four years. That has been carried out —but not carried out on his suggestion, I presume. Therefore, there is nothing that the Deputy has to complain about now. Having listened to his statement here I was convinced that the Deputy had no further grievance.

Now, the personnel of this Investigation Committee, or rather the source from which the personnel is to be drawn, has been criticised. We have been told that an independent committee would be preferable. I want to know "independent" of whom? "Independent" is a fine word, but the meaning can be abused, and the word can be misconstrued. If this committee is not independent, who, I ask, is sapping its independence? Who is controlling its independence? Who is preventing it doing the things which it is being set up to do? This committee is to be drawn from men who have graduated in the Civil Service, who have come from the bottom of the Civil Service, and who should know it. That is the right class of men to be appointed. If it were a committee that was to be set up to investigate railway matters who would Deputy Davin suggest should be appointed?

Deputy Gorey.

I know that the men he would recommend would be men with a thorough knowledge of railway business. Deputy Davin interferes in a great many other matters, but I know he would be best qualified to deal with matters connected with the railways. I think the man who knows the business is the man who will give the best results in a committee of this kind. That committee will be presided over by a Minister. Except we assume that the Ministers are one and all a body of rogues and dishonest men and a body of men who have no responsibility to the country, we must admit that a Minister is a good president for this committee. I think it is quite as necessary that a Minister who has to go to the country for support should hold his reputation for honesty and straight-forwardness as dear to him as the reputation of any Deputy in this House or any man who claims to come into this House. As far as I can view this proposal of an "independent" committee, it means the sacrifice of efficiency for a mockery of the word "independent." That is what it means to me. Deputy Redmond also said that if the officials can be spared from their other work to go on this committee it proves that the Departments are over-manned. I think it is pretty well accepted now that we have about 20,000 civil servants. I presume that applies to the whole of the State.

It includes every type of official, such as postmen and other employees of that sort.

If I take the figure at 10,000, it will give me sufficient margin. If we have 10,000 civil servants, we ought to be able to spare two of them occasionally. If we cannot spare two out of 10,000 without proving that departments are over-manned, then I do not know what intellectual standard we have reached. I do make the assertion—I am sorry to have to make it because I have great respect for the late Mr. John E. Redmond—that in my opinion the mantle of statesmanship has not been hereditary in that case. If I am any judge of statesmen, the mantle has not descended to Deputy Redmond. If Deputy Redmond cannot do anything more in dealing with national revenue and national expenditure than he has shown in his speech here, I say there is very little room for his Party. The Deputy referred to the closing of two factories in Waterford —a margarine factory and a bacon factory. He was not able to go into details and tell us the cause of that, although Waterford is his constituency. He could not tell us that the reason Denny's had to close was due to the new fillip to the pork trade whereby Ireland and England had to supply what Holland was supplying previously. He did not tell us that that was responsible for the shortage in bacon-pigs. He could not tell us that the big proportion of English pigs had gone into pork and consequently that there were no bacon-pigs in England. He could not tell us that a considerable proportion of the Irish pigs, which originally went into bacon, had gone into pork during the last few months and that that happened both in Northern and Southern Ireland. He did not know that. And yet he is a specimen of those who want the future of the country put into their hands. I do not think it would make for a reduction of taxation if the suggestion made by Deputy Redmond some time ago were put into effect—to pay for the abolished licences out of State funds. If that is one of the ways of reducing public expenditure, then I am at a loss to understand it.

I make this suggestion and I hope that Deputy Davin will agree with it: I am aware that the growers of barley in this country have been badly hit and that they are, as I said before, in the grip of a huge octopus. The only way to deal with that is to make a case before the Tariff Commission. I am prepared to help to make a case and I may be in a position to help more than anybody else. I have been a grower of barley and a buyer of barley. I bought barley as low as 11/-. I got it this year as low as 11/- and were it not that the Scotch market is open this year the price might be 7/- or 8/- or 9/-. I am prepared to give what help I can to make a case for barley. I am prepared to help to make a case for bacon, and I know a little of that business, too. The organisation to which I belong has given a free hand to its members to assist in this way in the future and my services will be available at all times in any case which I believe is right.

Is that a change of policy?

No. That was always my policy. If the Deputy wants a subsidy in addition, then he is up against a stone wall, so far as I am concerned. There should be no subsidy in any well-organised industry that has had its roots in the soil for many years. There is no use in making a comparison with beet. There is no comparison. Corn crops and crops which were always grown in this country must stand on their own, and a subsidy will never be given to them if I can prevent it.

One or two considerations arise from Deputy Gorey's speech. I think it is clear that whatever alliance or transformation the Farmers' Party may take upon itself, it will not become fused in the National League if Deputy Gorey can help it. It is also clear that Deputy Gorey rejects Deputy Johnson's assistance for agriculture. But I must say that I did not see a distinct and definite policy by Deputy Gorey and his Party standing out in any way plainly in the Deputy's speech. I have not the same responsibility as Deputy Gorey. I am speaking only as a detached critic. It is in that capacity I want to deal, not so much with Deputy Gorey as with the speech that the Minister for Finance delivered yesterday. When the Minister came to the exordium of that speech, when he summed up his achievements of four years—£3,000,000 reduction in taxation, 2/- taken off income-tax, the tea tax removed, the sugar tax reduced to one-third of its previous level—I could not help being reminded of an incident in the play of Peter Pan. I am not going to compare the Minister to Peter Pan. The Peter Pan of the Government Benches is either the President or the Minister for Lands and Agriculture—I am not sure which. The Minister reminded me of the Pirate Captain. The particular incident of the Pirate Captain's career that I was reminded of was where the captain remarked that some dusky spirit prompted him to make his dying speech, "lest when he died he had no time for it." I could not help thinking that the Minister was uttering his swan-song, and was uttering it in advance, "lest when he died he had no time for it." So far as I am concerned, the Minister may die in peace, though his death-bed may be haunted by the ghosts of the old age pensioners. So far as his Budget generally is concerned, it is, except in one or two details, almost the same Budget that I would have introduced myself. One thing I think I should have done—I should have tried to explore the possibility of giving some more direct help to agriculture than has been given in this Budget. I want to indicate the avenue I would explore, though I am not an expert in transport questions. I should like to follow the example of the old Irish Parliament and see whether something could not be done in the way of assisting transport and reducing railway rates. I do not know whether Deputy Gorey would object to a subsidy for that purpose.

It seems to me that that method would be preferable to the method of doubling the agricultural grant, which assists tillage farmers and graziers equally. If you afforded assistance in regard to certain articles, say, fat cattle, bacon pigs, fat pork, and perhaps fish, you would do something that would stimulate tillage in a way that has not been done up to the present. That would be the direction I would explore. I have not gone into the matter fully. I should have to go into it with experts on transport to discover how much money would be required. That system would be of advantage to the farmer, and would assist the railway companies, which are not at present in a satisfactory or a strong position. That is the line I would have investigated. Possibly the Minister has investigated it. If he has, he will no doubt tell us.

There is one thing in connection with this Budget that I deeply regret. That is the decision to retain the duty on wireless instruments. That duty is not a protective duty. It is not a duty that produces any substantial revenue. I believe it is checking the development of wireless in this State to an almost incredible extent. I do not, however, propose to elaborate that now. An amendment to the Finance Bill will give me an opportunity of bringing the matter forward, and making my case, and I propose to table such an amendment.

The Minister will be surprised to find me rebuking him for not protecting industries, but when he was dealing with the question of matches I almost thought that he might have considered the possibility of affording some slight protection to Irish matches. It is a very efficient industry here. Dublin produces very good matches, and it is an industry that ought to be encouraged. The cost would not be passed on to the consumer in any calculable degree. Possibly it might happen that there would be four or five matches less in a box, but that is not going to affect the consumer very seriously. I observe from this resolution that matches are classified by the number of matches in the box. Would the Minister consider the desirability of making it compulsory to place on the box the number of matches it contains? In some cases the match-boxes are thicker; there is more packing, and so on, and the consumer obtains fewer matches for the same money. I think we might well make an experiment in that direction.

Generally speaking, it is a good Budget. In fact, when one or two old friends of mine, in the shape of suggestions that I voiced on more than one occasion, began to appear, I almost thought it was my own Budget. We have, for instance, the removal of the duty on part manufactured boots. I put down an amendment to the Finance Bill of three years ago to that effect, and I went further than the Minister. I intended that soles and heels imported for repairing purposes would come in free in order to cheapen the cost of repairs, which falls with some substantial force upon the poor. Then again, there is our old friend, the Geddes Committee. I notice the Minister repudiated the suggestion that it was to be a Geddes Committee, although probably every evening paper in Dublin came out with the headlines, "Geddes Committee to be appointed." As a matter of fact, I have urged the Minister to accept almost every kind of committee. I even went so far as to suggest a committee of ministers, presided over by a minister. I think the Minister's present proposal is a better one than that.

Deputy Gorey talked of stealing other people's ideas, but I may say that in this Dáil I am the first person who urged the establishment of such a Committee. I urged it in October, 1923. I believe in a previous Dáil Deputy Magennis, in one of his independent periods, also urged that, but he became very silent afterwards. I would believe Deputy Magennis if he told me that he discovered America before Columbus and had concealed the fact owing to his innate modesty. Whoever was the parent, the idea had its beginning in the Dáil, and I am very glad that constant knocking at the door has produced some result.

I think it is ridiculous to suggest that because you can spare three civil servants for that Committee, necessarily you are overstaffed. There must be some margin for emergencies and there must be some margin for inquiries. At the moment civil servants are allocated to secretaryships of temporary Commissions. There are probably eight or ten civil servants acting as secretaries to temporary Commissions. When these Commissions cease they will be available. There is always a margin for that purpose.

I am a little doubtful about the in-and-out clause that the Minister suggested—that the Chairman of a Committee was to be a Minister, but not necessarily always the same Minister. The work of a Committee of this kind is very powerfully influenced by the personality of the Chairman, and I cannot look with entire complacency on the prospect of the Minister for Defence relieving the Minister for External Affairs as Chairman of that Committee. I think we would have got a step nearer to reality if the Minister for Finance told us who the Chairman would be, and if he would make him permanent. If I might make the suggestion, the work in the Department of Justice is comparatively light, and, except on the Gárda Síochána side, the Department of Justice is not a great spending Department, and the Minister for Justice would be an admirable Chairman. I think there would be a general feeling that it meant business if he were appointed.

I want to say a word or two on the proposed reconstruction of the army on a territorial or militia basis. It is an easy thing to talk about, but it is not such an easy thing to do, and it cannot be done quickly. If the Minister hopes to get great economies from that transfer, not merely this year or even next year, but within the period of the next Dáil, I think he will be mistaken. This is a work that must be done slowly. You cannot discharge men wholesale from the Army on to the labour market as it exists at the moment. That is a thing that must be done carefully, and care must be taken to build up a new force before you get rid of the old force. All that will mean increased expenditure and not decreased expenditure for a certain time, because the two forces will be existing side by side. The whole thing will require an enormous amount of forethought if we are not to run ourselves into trouble.

The essence of a territorial system is the part-time soldier. That implies that the man engaged in his ordinary work should spend an afternoon or evening or holidays in perfecting himself in military duties. That involves drill halls all over the country, and stocks of arms in these drill halls. Have we come to the position yet when we can safely distribute rifles into every section of the country? I do not think any Deputy will say it would be wise to do so. It would not be wise to distribute rifles with no other force to guard them than a couple of sergeant instructors and a couple of old soldiers who act as cleaners, and charwomen. It would not be safe. You could not send these arms to certain parts of the country and feel they would be safe. The thing must be done gradually and carefully. It could be done in the Curragh, Dublin, Cork, and any place where there is a substantial military garrison; but it cannot be done all over the country in the beginning, and the Minister must move slowly.

Possibly, this is criticism which should be deferred until a later stage, but it is important to have it insisted on from the first. Then there is always a possibility that I may not be a member of the Dáil that would consider it at a later stage, and so I would like to get my views in now. The most important part of any auxiliary force is the officers and non-commissioned officers, and you have to begin training them before you train the men. A certain percentage of regular whole-time officers will be necessary. I hope it is not proposed that all the officers shall be whole-time regular officers, because that will be very expensive, and it will be very had for those officers; they will not have enough work except during the training period, and they will be practically idle the rest of the time, and that is not good for everybody. I suggest to the Minister, and I hope he will convey it to the Minister for Defence, that the first step should be the establishment of an officers' training corps in connection with universities. We have two universities, and if we encourage men who are taking up commercial or professional careers to educate themselves as officers, it would be good for the territorial force, good for the Army, and good for the universities. It would bring the life of the universities into closer touch with the Army, and it would all be to the benefit of the country.

To come to the reduction of income tax, which I welcome, I must say that yesterday it occurred to me that when the British Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced his Budget a fortnight ago, I think it was Mr. Lloyd George who suggested that those who heard it should pay an entertainment tax. That thought did not enter my mind with regard to the Minister's Budget speech. If I might say so, frankly I would sooner pay an entertainment tax on Deputy Wilson's speech than on that of the Minister. At first I thought one should have to pay a betting tax on the Minister's Budget, for it seemed a gamble, but the night has brought reflection, and I think the Minister is justified in taking the risk he is taking, because the money that is saved, or rather the money that the taxpayer does not pay, as a result of this reduction, is not in the main part going into a stocking. Some of it will go, I hope, to stimulate industry; a good deal of it, I hope, to help the farmers to stock their land, and a good deal of it will be spent in paying for wearing apparel, furniture, sugar, tobacco, and even possibly to pay for a pint, and the Minister for Finance will get it back, as the increased consumption of all these taxed commodities will profit him. He will get back on the swings what he loses on the roundabouts. On the whole, I think he has taken a wise step. I believe he will profit in another way, for the tax will yield more. I have always felt that one of the greatest needs of the country was to get back the numerous citizens who have left, people of substantial means, who are spending their money in giving employment in England, France, the Channel Islands, and various other parts of the globe. I believe this reduction will be an incentive for them to return, and will make for the prosperity of all sections of the community, and it will mean increased employment and better business and, as well, I hope that the loss in revenue will be comparatively little.

I entirely disagree with the claim made by Deputy Cooper that the power behind the demand for the establishment of this super Committee, referred to as the Geddes Committee, originated in the Dáil. I think the credit for that demand, if anybody can claim it, is due in the first instance to the people who control the newspaper offices in this country. They are entitled to whatever credit or satisfaction is to be derived from the statement made by the Minister regarding the appointment of this committee. The demand for the formation of a Geddes Committee has been inspired and urged by those who are dividend-earning people, and who have been aiming at a reduction in the income tax. Probably the reduction announced by the Minister yesterday will lessen the demand for this body of super-men who were expected to cut down the civil service by about fifty per cent. Strange as it may appear, I agree with Deputy Gorey in this matter, that it would be useless to look outside the service for the men who should compose this committee. I do not claim to have a very great knowledge of the affairs of railway administration, but I believe if the railway shareholders were to appoint from among themselves a committee to inquire into, say, alleged mismanagement of railways, that the ordinary man with experience and technical knowledge of railway work would have no difficulty in misleading the shareholders. The same would apply to a committee composed of outsiders appointed to inquire into the administration of the civil service. To that extent I entirely agree with the statement made on this matter by the Minister for Finance.

I take it that it is the decision of the Minister that this Committee shall be composed of experienced civil servants, heads of the various Departments, to inquire into and report on the alleged over-manning of the Civil Service. If there is anything wrong with the Irish Civil Service as we find it to-day, it is due to the fact that this Government brought over experienced, trained, civil servants to lay the foundations of our new service, and they were guided in their recommendations by what they saw around them in the great British Civil Service. If there is anything wrong it is due to the fact that the right men were not chosen for the work they had to do. I wonder will Deputies who represent rural areas, and who have any experience of the operations of the Land Commission, admit from their own knowledge that the Land Commission is over-staffed? I have made inquiries as to the delay in putting into operation schemes for the division of land as late as last October or November. I was given to understand, and I believe this is the experience of other Deputies, that the schemes would have been put into operation in January last, but that there were not sufficient men in the offices of the Land Commission to check the work sent up by the inspectors. That is proof that as regards that particular Department there is no over-staffing. Can any Deputy contradict that and say that it is not his experience? That was the explanation given to me for the holding up of the schemes. The result is that the people who would have benefited by the division of the land are not in a position to plough the land or make any use of it this year as tillage land. Let Deputy Gorey, if he has experience to the contrary, contradict what I have said.

I do not know much, generally speaking, about the other departments, but I believe there are certain departments in the Civil Service, certain Ministries, who cannot come to the Dáil and say that their departments are properly organised. I think it could be said of some departments that they are not. To that extent I think there is some justification for the setting up of a departmental committee composed of civil servants of long experience and high standing. Deputy Magennis takes credit for the income tax reduction, and he says this is a Clann Eireann Budget. He may claim all the credit he likes in the country. Deputy Gorey and Deputy Cooper differ regarding the origination of this Geddes Committee, which may turn out to be only a scare in the long run. Deputy Redmond has not had sufficient time to think over the proposal submitted by Deputy Wilson, the new leader, on behalf of farmers with regard to the agricultural question. We will allow him to think over the matter until after the General Election, and then, perhaps, he will be able to say whether he agrees with Deputy Wilson or Deputy Johnson in that matter. He will learn, probably, in the school of experience. Both Deputy Gorey and Deputy Wilson made statements with regard to the agricultural policy that in their opinion would cure all the economic ills from which the agricultural population are suffering. Deputy Wilson says, "Our idea is to cheapen production." I wonder would he produce for the information of the House, and particularly for the information of the Minister for Finance, a typical farmers' budget? What are the items that go to make up the cost of production so far as they affect the ordinary farmer?

I suppose rates would have some bearing upon the farmer's budget. I suppose the rate of wages paid to the labourers employed by the farmers and the direct taxation, so far as the ordinary farmer is concerned with direct taxation would also have some bearing. Deputy Wilson says:—"Our idea is to cheapen production." In order to achieve that he thinks he is right in opposing the Agricultural Grant, which goes to the relief of the rates. He thinks it right also to decline to accept a guaranteed price for the farmer's produce. I cannot understand how Deputy Wilson can consistently say he is out to cheapen the cost of production to the farmer when he opposes the Agricultural Grant, which goes to the relief of the rates, and opposes the principle of a guaranteed price for the farmer's produce.

Will Deputy Davin quote Deputy Wilson's words where he said he was opposing the Agricultural Grant?

I will quote Deputy Heffernan, the spokesman of the Farmers' Party, on the matter. On the 11th of last March Deputy Heffernan is reported in the Official Report, pages 1837-8—and he has not been contradicted—to have said:—"I say that the development of State aid to the farmer to any great extent in the way of grants or doles of any kind, is not likely to help the farming industry very considerably."

Deputy Davin has stated that Deputy Wilson opposed the Agricultural Grant. He is now referring to my disapproval of State subsidies. I think the Deputy ought to prove his case or withdraw it. This is an extraordinary way of doing it.

I am quoting the representative of the Farmers' Party, who speaks more often than any other member of the Farmers' Party, and there is his cold-blooded statement.

Will the Deputy read the whole statement, with the context, and will he state whether he is quoting Deputy Wilson or myself?

I would not like to take up the time of the House in going back over a good many speeches, inconsistent in a great many cases, made by Deputy Heffernan.

At least as consistent as Deputy Davin's.

I would ask Deputy Davin to quote Deputy Wilson. Do not run away from Deputy Wilson.

A red-herring.

I thought that the Farmers' Party was re-united, and that if Deputy Wilson, who was listening to Deputy Heffernan making that statement took serious exception to it, he would have repudiated it.

What did Deputy Wilson say to-day?

Deputy Wilson said: "Our idea is to cheapen production." One of the ways to do that would be to provide a market for the produce of the farmer to be sold in at an economic price. He is definitely opposed to subsidies and tariffs, and therefore he is not consistent when he says that he is out to cheapen production and opposes a subsidy. As a matter of fact, until Deputy Wilson and Deputy Gorey spoke to-day I thought they were claiming credit in the country—but not in the House—for aiding this Beet Subsidy Act and getting the good results which naturally come to the farming community as a result of the Act. They have been reported as being present at meetings of beet-growers and encouraging the farmers to grow beets. They were present with the President and the Ministerial party at the opening of the factory, and their presence would, in the ordinary course, indicate to the average Deputy that they were there in support of the setting-up of this industry and were prepared to claim whatever political kudos the Farmers' Party would get from it. Here they opposed it. Let the Farmers' Party think over this thing seriously and make a decision.

We are discussing the Budget now.

I suggest that Deputy Davin should pay more attention to Deputy Redmond's Party than to the Farmers' Party.

I want to deal with the statement made by Deputy Gorey in regard to the reasons given by him for opposing a guaranteed minimum price to the grain growers. He said that it would mean an enormous increase in the number of officials if you applied the same remedy to those now growing barley as you have done in the case of beet. There are 9,483 acres under beet cultivation, and there are 141,000 odd acres under barley. While the Government agreed to provide a subsidy for the beet growers, which has undoubtedly brought good results, they definitely declined to apply the same remedy in the case of barley. Deputy Gorey—and I am glad that he has changed his view on the question—has admitted for the first time, to-day that he is prepared to make a case for the barley-growers before the Tariff Commission. I asked Deputy Gorey if that meant a change in his policy, and he said it did not. Deputy Gorey, as the ex-leader of the Farmers' Party, is prepared to make a case for a tariff in the interests of barley-growers—and they are very large in number—although he himself is against the tariff. How could a man go before the Tariff Commission and make a good case for a tariff for the barley-grower when he is altogether opposed to the principle?

They will have to get Deputy Davin. That is the only solution.

How does Deputy Davin know that Deputy Gorey is opposed to it?

If the Deputy will read the Official Report of what Deputy Gorey has said to-day I think it will lead him to form a very definite conclusion on that. However, I welcome Deputy Gorey's statement on that matter. I do not care who gets credit for putting things right in regard to these people so long as the trouble is remedied. I would, however, suggest to Deputy Gorey that in regard to that matter there is very little hope of convincing the members of the Tariff Commission when the people engaged in the industry have already failed to convince Ministers, who are responsible for the appointment of the members of the Tariff Commission. I was present, with a number of other Deputies, farmers and others, when this matter was discussed at considerable length with the Minister for Lands and Agriculture before the Budget statement of 1925. Every reason was put up by the people engaged in the industry, who had been unable to make a living out of it, but they failed to convince the Minister. I understand that this whole claim was submitted to the Executive Council and that the Executive Council declined to apply this remedy for the solution of the trouble. If the Executive Council, who were responsible for the formation of the Tariff Commission, have themselves declined to agree to a tariff in the case of barley, I see no reason why the Tariff Commission will agree to the claim that has already been turned down by the people who appointed them.

However, I hope that Deputy Gorey will honour the promise he has made and will set to work without further delay to make the best case he can although he himself does not favour this remedy. I can certainly say that so far as my constituency is concerned the failure of the grain business in connection with the 40,311 acres under barley has been a very serious matter for Leix and Offaly, not alone for the grower, but for every section of the community in the constituency and in eight or nine other counties.

It has caused unemployment by the closing down of small breweries and distilleries and thrown out of employment in that constituency and on the borders of it anything from 700 to 1,000 men, who were employed in the best paid employment in the country. It has caused unemployment amongst agricultural labourers, and it has helped to reduce the wages of those still employed. It has helped to close down malt houses, it has affected the employment of railwaymen and carters, and has affected every section of the community, including the shopkeepers.

Is the Deputy trying to prove that a tariff would get the local breweries going again?

I was coming to that point, if the Deputy would not interrupt me, that I was prepared to admit that a tariff in itself would not be a solution of this trouble. I believe that a tariff, without the assistance of a guaranteed minimum price, would be useless.

And fixed acreage of land on which the barley would be grown.

Deputy Heffernan will probably have plenty of time to speak. This is a matter that has been causing him very great concern in Tipperary, and probably he also has changed his views.

I suggest that the Deputy should follow his argument up to its logical conclusion—a tariff, minimum price and fixed acreage of land.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce would like to know if he might intervene in this row?

It would be better if Deputies did not interrupt, or we will be here until the General Election.

I want to give another view, perhaps a side issue of what I have just been referring to. Last year on the Budget statement I made a suggestion to the Minister for Finance, and so far as I could see at the time he was not absolutely hostile to the suggestion. I do not know whether he has given any consideration to the matter in the meantime. There are still a few small breweries, including one or two in my own constituency, left in the country. I am reliably informed that unless there is some reduction in the duty these people will not be in a position to carry on any longer. I believe the Minister for Finance has been in consultation with people who claim to speak on behalf of the small brewers, and I am wondering if in considering the facts put to him he will give any sympathetic consideration to the proposal which has been put up to him, namely, that there should be reduction in the duty on beer on the first 30 or 40 thousand barrels which have been brewed by these small breweries, as the one and only means to enable these breweries, which are on their last legs, to carry on. There is a small brewery in one part of my constituency. I do not think it would be right to deal with the balance sheet of that brewery here. I do not think it would be in the interest of the particular concern to go into the details of its present position from a business point of view. That brewery gives employment to 120 employees at what I recognise to be a very good living wage. My information is that unless some relief is given to those people—and there are others in a similar position— this small brewery will be definitely faced with the prospect of having to close down.

I would not be very seriously alarmed at the closing down of small breweries if any other industries were likely to spring up as a result of the closing down of these breweries. In addition to the 120 odd men employed by that brewery, there is a number of people indirectly dependent on the industry in that area. I believe if the Minister could see his way to give a relief to these small breweries by a reduction in the beer duty on the first 30 or 40 thousand barrels, and give that concession to Guinness and Co., and other firms as well, it would be a help and would enable these breweries to continue working, instead of allowing them to close down, as apparently they will have to later on, under present circumstances. The Minister, in his Budget statement, said: "I am glad to be able to say that the Estimate"—that is the estimated receipts from beer duties—"was exceeded, and that the yield was up by no less than £124,000."

Last year, when the Minister was referring to this matter, he said that if that concession was given to the small breweries, so far as information was available, it would involve a loss of £150,000. His estimates have been exceeded by £124,000, and I suggest to him, for that reason, that he should be in a position to give more serious and sympathetic consideration to that proposal. I would like to know if he has given any further consideration to the matter as a result of the representations made to him, which were supported by facts and figures from the people concerned. I see no hope for the continuance of these small breweries unless something is done in that particular respect.

Deputy Gorey spoke on the question of the high cost of production and its causes, so far as farmers were concerned. I wonder has Deputy Gorey or any member of his Party, or his Party as a Party, given any consideration to the question of the increase in the cost of production which has come about as a result of the increased rates for the making and the maintenance of roads throughout the country. We had a statement from the Minister for Industry and Commerce the other day to the effect that the cost of the construction and maintenance of roads at present has been provided out of motor taxation only to the extent of 29 per cent. In other words, he said, that motor lorry owners and motor car owners provided out of present taxation a sum equivalent to 29 per cent. of the cost of construction and maintenance of our main and trunk roads.

I think those were last year's figures. They did not allow for the increase of taxation last year.

We have to discuss the matter in the light of the latest figures available. I think I am quoting the figures given by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I did not know what period he was referring to, but the difference has to be met, and is being met, out of increased rates and taxation. I do not know whether the Farmers' Party have any particular view with regard to that matter, or whether they are prepared to accept the view that the cost of construction of these great main and trunk roads has to be met in an increasing degree out of rates.

I say it is seriously increasing local rates, and as far as I know, in my own constituency at any rate, the matter has not been given any serious consideration by the farmers' representatives on our local councils. I do not know whether the farmers of any particular county in the Midlands are prepared to meet, to an increasing extent, the high cost of construction and maintenance of roads to be used by motor lorries who pass through these counties without conferring any benefits on the people who live there. That is a matter, I believe, that is helping to increase the cost of production to the farming community and the local ratepayers generally, without bringing any additional benefit to these people who have to pay increased rates.

I believe the figures for last year in regard to the cost of construction and maintenance of trunk roads are roughly these: out of Government sources there is a sum of £1,250,000 provided for road construction and maintenance work, and exactly the same sum is provided by the ratepayers locally. I believe that this question of transport, which has a great bearing on the cost of construction and maintenance of roads, is not being handled by the Government in a proper way. We have had a statement in the Press, but we have had no statement made to the House so far to give us any idea of the policy the Government are aiming at in regard to the general question of transport. The setting up of a Departmental Transport Committee, composed of civil servants, I presume, does not mean that recommendations will be put forward which will deal with this great and growing problem in a proper way. I believe if the Government have not made up their minds, or have not given serious consideration to this matter, they should set up a commission, composed of a small number of people, experts in their own way, selected by the Government from the best type of men available to make recommendations to the Government in regard to this whole problem of transport.

The setting-up of an inter-departmental committee, which will only deal with the question from the point of view of the regulation of traffic, is not going to bring us any nearer a solution of the bigger problem. The position will, in my opinion, become more chaotic the longer we leave it in its present state. We had the Minister for Industry and Commerce bringing in a Bill the other day to remedy the state of affairs that exists in the railway world as a result of the failure of the Government to regulate traffic on the roads. Since 1924 we have had four Bills dealing with the railway problem. The inter-departmental committee to be set up now is not going to bring us any nearer a solution of the problem. We should have a committee of experts; small in number, set up to make recommendations to the Government as to the position of the railways, canals and roads in relation to the services which they render to the community, and if necessary, in regard to the costs which should be provided out of taxation and rates for the maintenance of railways, canals or roads. Until that serious problem is faced, which will grow worse with the passage of time, I believe the Government will not grapple with the real problem with which taxpayers and ratepayers are confronted.

The demand for a "Geddes" committee, in my opinion, has been created in newspaper offices with the sole idea of forcing down the income tax from 4/- in the £. It is a strange thing, but it is nevertheless true, that the people responsible for this demand are themselves the directors of big business concerns, who are paying higher salaries to persons employed by them than they are prepared to give to the higher civil servants employed by the Government. I know of men who are using platforms outside for the purpose of creating the impression that the higher civil servants who are paid £1,200 a year, are over-paid, while they themselves are prepared to give three times that salary to men employed by them as directors of business concerns for far less responsible work than these civil servants have to perform. This is a mere bogey got up for the purpose of forcing down the income tax from 4/- to 1/-, or of abolishing it altogether. I hope they are satisfied, to some extent at any rate, by forcing the Minister to set up an inter-departmental committee. If there is anything to be got by setting up a committee, so far as it may affect the organisation of the Civil Service, it can only be got by a committee composed of men who know something about the business they are engaged in.

This Budget reminds me of a child who goes to purchase a threepenny packet and expects to find something good inside it. The people who were expecting to get good things out of this Budget have found to their grief that it has given relief only to one section of the community. It gives relief to 60,000 income tax payers and ignores the remainder of the population of the Saorstát. I doubt very much if the reduction in income tax will induce people to return to this country and invest money and give employment. While only 60,000 people will benefit by the reduced income tax, we have over 80,000 people out of employment for whom no relief is provided. Eighty-thousand unemployed with their families represent 150,000 people who are at present living in a state of destitution. Several Deputies have told us that this reduction in income tax will be a great boon to the State. It will no doubt benefit a certain number of people, but it is not going to help the small shopkeeper or the small farmer. It will benefit a limited number of people who can well afford to pay taxes. However, I do not criticise the Minister for reducing the income tax.

I should like to draw attention to the number of people who have been thrown out of employment in various breweries and distilleries within the past twelve months, owing chiefly to the high duty of £5 per barrel on beer and £3 12s. 6d. per proof gallon on whiskey. Not alone has this high rate of taxation been responsible for throwing these people out of employment, but it has been responsible for unemployment amongst shop assistants and those engaged in agriculture. In Kilbeggan there is a distillery which used to employ about 75 people, in addition to supporting 140 or 150 other families, who were employed through the growing of barley and the feeding of pigs from the grains. To-day only three people are employed there. A reduction in the duty on beer and spirits has been asked for year after year without result. In the past year the excise duty on spirits produced £2,401,375, or an increase of £46,029 on the previous year. A reduction of the spirit duty to £1 2s. 6d. would not mean any reduction in the amount received by the Exchequer. A reduction in the beer and spirit duties would not mean any increase in drunkenness. It would give more employment, and give traders a little more to do without making any extra profit.

In 1923-24 the estimate was something in the neighbourhood of £35,000,000. That estimate has been reduced by this Government to £23,250,000. Practically every section of the community has received some benefit by that reduction. At the same time the cost of living has not been reduced. The cost of tobacco is the same to-day as it was when the Budget was £35,000,000. The working man who goes in for a pint has to pay the same price for it now as then. At that time the working man had a better wage and he was better able to pay ninepence or tenpence an oz. for his tobacco and tenpence or a shilling for his pint than he is now because wages have since been reduced. I think the Minister for Finance should have taken that into consideration. Thousands of working men go into public houses to have a drink and a sandwich for dinner. If the price of drink was reduced working men would be able to give more money to their families.

There are distilleries in Dublin practically closed that formerly paid out thousands of pounds in wages. Hundreds of men have been dismissed at Guinness's during the last two or three years. The small distilleries have dismissed most of their men and in some places they have closed down. If the duty on Irish pot still whiskey was not reduced the least that should have been done was the imposition of a tariff on imported whiskey, so as to give the Irish firms a chance.

During the discussion on the Budget many Deputies complained that the Minister for Finance was not in a position to increase the old age pension. I would like to remind Deputies that a number of them voted for reducing the pension by a shilling in 1924. They have seen their mistake now, and they are crying out about the poor old age pensioner, forgetting that in 1924 they voted for a cut of one shilling in the pension given when another Government was in power in this country.

I would like to draw attention to the fact that in the woollen industry a number of those engaged are only working half-time and in some cases three-quarter time. I am wondering if the Minister received a deputation from the woollen industry with a view to having a tariff put on tweeds imported into the country. Several large woollen factories have been closed as they could not compete with foreign shoddy. Farmers are affected by that as if the mills were working they would get a better price for wool and have a market at home. Last year the Minister stated that he could not put a tariff on imported wool other than ready-made articles.

There is a factory in Athlone which gave employment to 800 people. In 1920 and during the great war that mill was prosperous. Since then the foreign trade has fallen off. There are 340 people working there now, alternate weeks, for five days a week. If the products of the woollen mills were protected the Irish mills would become prosperous. A tariff of 15 per cent was put on blankets and as a result where there were two people employed making blankets in Athlone there are now twenty-four. Tariffs are good for this country. If a tariff was put on woollens and clothing material it would mean that increased capital would be put into the mills and increased employment given. Farmers and the shopkeepers would also benefit as they are adversely affected when the workers have no money. In this country those who have money do not spend it here but send it to foreign countries.

I wonder why the State cannot afford to give any relief to men who have old Ford motor cars. It is ridiculous to charge £23 licence duty on old Ford cars when the licence on new cars is only £10. Surely the old cars do not do more damage to the roads than the new ones. Does the Minister think that the higher tax on the old cars leads to more employment being given in Ford's factory in Cork? Personally I do not think it does. A large number of working men earn a living by driving hackney cars. As they cannot afford to purchase new cars they are compelled to pay an extra licence duty of £13 because their cars are old ones. I think something should be done to help these people to live or that other employment should be provided for them by the Government.

I also wish to draw the attention of the Minister to the statement he made when referring to drink. He said "Prohibitioners may take heart from the fact that the people of the Saorstát are still not only willing but able to spend about £17,000,000 per annum on drink." What I would like to ask the Minister is how much employment has been given by the spending of that sum of money? There are hundreds of thousands of people engaged, one way or another, in the industry. I hold it would be better for the Minister to reduce the beer duty from £5 to £4, the same as has been done in England. Since 1923 we have followed the example of England in the Acts that we passed here, but we do not follow England's example in anything that is good for this country. Even in the North of Ireland the duty is the same there as it is in England, and we are not able to do as well in that respect as they are doing in the Six Counties. They are able to give a refund of £1 per barrel there, and yet we are not able to do it. If the Minister were to reduce the beer duty by £1 per barrel it would mean that the consumer would be able to get his drink at perhaps 2d. per pint cheaper.

I cannot understand why the poor man has not got some relief under this Budget. It was made clear here that the old age pensioner was at least expecting something. I know dozens of old age pensioners through the country who can prove beyond all doubt that they are over 70 years of age, and yet the Minister is able to find some loophole to deprive them of getting the pension. It would be much better for the Government, I think, to introduce one Budget and call it the capitalist's Budget—a Budget for one section of the community, the wealthier classes—and another Budget or Act whereby every man and woman who are unemployed and those who have a wage of less than £2 a week would be brought into some great open plain and set fire to. It would be much better do that than introduce a Budget like this. This Budget is giving no relief to the poor people. At the present time the working classes are the only people who are suffering from high taxation, and because of the want of employment many of them at the present time are almost starving. It is well known that county boards of health throughout the country have had to increase their estimates. In the County Westmeath the estimate had to be increased from £9,000 to £10,400. for the purpose of giving relief. Under this Budget these people are getting no relief. The reduction of the income tax by one shilling in the £ will not reduce the cost of living for these people by a fraction. We will see this time 12 months whether that reduction of one shilling in the £ on the income tax will be the means of providing increased employment for the people. We have been told that it will, but we will know that this time 12 months. We have been told that the tariffs that have been imposed have provided employment for 10,000 extra people. I wonder how many people are unemployed to-day as against the number unemployed in 1920?

Ratepayers in the country are crying out against high expenditure. I was very glad to hear Deputy Redmond telling the Minister that it was his suggestion the Minister followed when he proposed to reduce the Army estimates by £500,000. I wonder are these claims made seriously or for the purpose of throwing dust in the eyes of the people? Like other Deputies, I want to know what is to become of these men when they are thrown out of the Army. Will employment be secured for them? For the past six months there has been something like 45 or 50 men demobilised in Westmeath and 20 more in Longford and these sixty men have been walking about idle. Will the Deputies who put forward this theory of reducing the Army also put forward suggestions for providing employment for the demobilised men? Personally I would be delighted to see every member of the State a law-abiding citizen, but I fear that it will be a couple of centuries before we can get acclimatised to government that we can govern ourselves and keep the law, without any guidance or instruction. I have no doubt that the Minister's idea in regard to the Army is a good one. But I should like to tattoo upon his memory the necessity of first having employment for the men before they are demobilised. It is a question of whether it is not better to pay men for doing something, at any rate, rather than having them walking about the roads, idle, doing nothing. There are a lot of unemployed who are eager and willing to work but who are at present an encumbrance upon the State and an encumbrance to themselves, due to unemployment, and a lot of that depends upon the farmers—

May I intervene, before four o'clock, to say that on the resumption of the debate, on Tuesday, we propose to sit late to finish this Motion.

Then I move to report progress.

Question put and agreed to.
The Dáil went out of Committee.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again on Tuesday.