At this stage we have to admit that all the shine has worn off the Minister's Budget, and even the people who have benefited by a remission of one shilling in income tax have almost forgotten about it; they are wondering what the future holds for them. I do not propose to go over the whole statement of the Minister, but I have given some slight consideration to that part of it dealing with the remission of one shilling in income tax and I have examined its effects. I raised the matter the day the Minister made his Budget statement and I think the effects of the Minister's action are entitled to more consideration. As an act of Ministerial financial policy it is entitled to more attention than it has been given.
The remission of a shilling this year has been made possible because we have calculated on a sum of £550,000 being available for the relief of taxation. In order that that policy shall continue next year, in order that this remission shall be continued in the Budget twelve months hence, the financial position will have to be such that the Minister for Finance then will require to have almost £1,000,000 for distribution. The Minister's statement indicates that next year in addition to this £1,000,000— perhaps the figure of £900,000 would be nearer the mark—there will be £250,000 required and that amount will be payable to Great Britain in accordance with the agreement of December, 1925. The Minister expects to have the £250,000 available from the operations of the Currency Commission. He also states it is hoped to complete shortly the steps necessary to secure that death duties and shares held by Saorstát citizens in British companies here will come into our Exchequer. I do not know if the Minister gave any indication of the amount of revenue which he expects will come into our Exchequer as a result of the completion of these steps.
He points out that the work of the Tariff Commission may lead to the imposition of some customs duties. Evidently the policy is that further tariffs are expected and it is hoped that additional revenue will be available because of these tariffs which are likely to be imposed within the coming financial year. If we put the £250,000 that will come from the Currency Commission against the annuity we have to contribute to Britain, where are we to get the additional money which must be made available in order to continue the policy the Minister adopted this year by the remission of a shilling on income tax? That cannot be continued unless there is a reduction in our expenditure. The Minister has given us no indication that the money which will come into the Exchequer through death duties and through the shares held by Saorstát citizens in British companies which do business here will be available, or that the revenue coming from the Tariff Commission will be an amount which will make up the difference between the £550,000 we are giving as a remission to the income tax payers and the additional sum which will be required to continue this remission next year. For a continuation of the Minister's policy we must look for a reduction in expenditure.
Elsewhere in the Minister's statement he discusses the question of a remission of duty on beer and spirits. He points out that the sum of £550,000 would be barely sufficient to give a small remission in the duty on beer and spirits, and that the policy would be not to give the remission of duty on beer alone or on spirits if it were not possible to give it on both. What has been done by the Minister on this occasion puts a new Dáil and the Minister for Finance in that Dáil in the position that if there is not a very considerable reduction in expenditure there will be no possibility of a remission of taxation to any taxpayers other than those who have got a remission of duty in this Budget, the income tax payers.
We have to consider that a remission of taxation may mean many things Cheaper postage rates would be a relief of taxation. On the other hand, a relief of taxation might mean, in essence, an increase in the old age pensions. Last year the Minister undoubtedly left the House under the impression that when there would be anything available for distribution, the old age pensioners would have to get consideration. Nothing less than £250,000 would be of use to do anything for the old age pensioners. I feel that the Dáil are in the position that they have gone beyond their means; they have done more than they are able to do in the remission of taxation, and very considerable reductions in expenditure must be effected if even the present remission is to be continued in the next Budget.
Instead of making it possible to relieve taxation in other directions, it may even be necessary to increase taxation because of what the Minister has done this year. It is right that we should clearly see the effects of the policy that the Minister has enunciated. There are many farmers who argue that a remission of the duty on beer would improve the conditions of the barley-growers in many counties, and that argument has been very forcibly made. I feel that there is something in it, but as I see the Minister's policy, there is no prospect that that can be done next year. It would be absolutely impossible to do it next year unless we can make reductions in expenditure of over one million pounds. That is exactly what we have to face up to. Is that possible, and will it be done? Even admitting the courage of the Minister in giving this remission to the income tax payers, I think that the full significance of his action is not yet thoroughly understood. The other side of the picture has to be examined, and the problem created will have to be faced up to. It will not be enough to continue to relieve the income tax payer alone; other tax payers will have to be considered, and the people who are affected by the higher postage rates in operation here compared with Great Britain, and by other taxes that have been imposed in the lifetime of this Dáil, will have to be considered. The Minister's policy will have to be carried further; more will have to be done by him, and in order that this relief of taxation may be equitably distributed, savings must be effected that will make it possible next year for not one section alone but every section of the community to get some relief from taxation.
A point was raised by Deputy Johnson that was referred to in the Minister's speech. The Minister said: "The economic conditions of the western seaboard cannot be dealt with without expenditure," and he said also that in certain other respects increases are inevitable. Is this problem to be dealt with this year? If it is, where is the money to come from? As far as we can see, expenditure under that head has not been calculated for, certainly not in the statement made by the Minister. That will be an additional expenditure. Where is the money to be found, and how much is it to be? I would like the Minister to clear up that position and to give us some further information as to his outlook with regard to the effect of the action which he is now taking, commendable action, undoubtedly, and action which will have far-reaching consequences. But you cannot continue a policy of relieve ing one section of the community from taxation, and leave others with the feeling that they are carrying a heavy burden, to some an almost intolerable burden, without holding out a helping hand to them. Deputy Johnson discussed the economic position, and tried to indicate that the prosperity of the country was not as pronounced as the Minister would lead one to believe. Deputy Johnson's figures indicated the very serious decline in our cattle population from 1922 to 1926. His figures are authentic, and to some of us at least who know the conditions they are simply a confirmation of the case we have repeatedly made.
In very many areas prosperity is unknown to the agricultural population, and undoubtedly if one were to measure the supposed prosperity with the conditions which we know, we could not support the case made by the Minister or say that it was a true representation of the facts. One does not like to labour this too much, but it is true that in the rural districts over very wide areas people are not enjoying prosperity, nor anything like it, but are faced with poverty, hard, grinding poverty. I have always contended, and the Minister himself has also indicated this, that in order to give people courage and make the best of present conditions the Government must help by doing all they can to reduce taxation so that people may feel that they are not labouring, producing and selling merely for the benefit of the tax collector so that he may take all that they have. The feeling is very strong in the country that men only work so that they may be able to keep the tax collector quiet when he calls, and many people are dispirited. I confess that I do not see any possibility of a very speedy recovery. I do not think that economic conditions can be improved in a day or in a twelvemonth. The decline towards poverty in a sense came with a snap, because prices dropped quickly, but the greatest poverty has only been experienced within the last twelve or eighteen months. It is as bad now as it ever has been. We have perhaps just reached bedrock. I recognise that in days like these, when all types of theorists are advancing arguments as to ways and means to improve things and when the condition of our people is really serious, it is a case of the drowning man ready to grasp at the straw. Our people are prepared to grasp at anything which would make things better for them.
I am going to join issue with Deputy Davin. He is the advocate of a policy for the farmers with which our Party are not in agreement. It would be as easy for me as it is for Deputy Davin to get up before a meeting of farmers and advocate lightly, without very much consideration for the consequences of its results, the policy that the Deputy is prepared to sponsor. To-day the farmers are everywhere looking for a way out. They are prepared almost to gamble on the chances of a way out. But I think we all have to be very careful that any way out we urge will not be to many of them, and to the agricultural industry as a whole, a way down and out. When Deputy Davin urges that the policy of tariffs should be applied to agriculture he should carefully examine the consequences. The term "Protection" makes an appeal to many people, but the application of that policy to agriculture has been detrimental in every country where it has been tried. I do not think that we have had any indication that it would be more successful here than in any other country, and while we all admit that from the point of view of a man in a barley growing county, who sees a market, as he thinks, at his door which can be closed to all but himself, the temptation is very strong to take action which he thinks may have certain consequences, in my opinion such a man is gambling by calculating that certain benefits will come as a result of such an action. Holding that view, we who have been for a number of years in very close touch with the farmers, recognise that it is as easy to turn the farmers' minds and efforts into wrong channels as it is to turn the minds and efforts of other people in this country into unproductive ways.