Evidently the Minister for Finance does not desire to be present during this discussion on matters in relation to his own Department. The Minister for Finance is capable, during the discussion of the Ministry of Finance's Vote, of leaving completely unoccupied the Ministerial Bench. The Minister for Finance to-day has told us that not merely is the condition of this year's financial position bad, as shown by the figures, but he has told us that he will not be able to balance his Budget next year. He has told us he cannot balance his Budget next year except by borrowing at a high price. One of my indictments of the Minister for Finance is that he is responsible, by a calculated policy, for degrading the credit of this country to such a condition that he can only borrow at a high price. He is responsible in the extraordinary method of finance which this existing Budget represents. No man can borrow money who is doing the thing which, in an ordinary commercial concern, would be regarded as dishonest. You cannot build the credit of this country upon the basis of using assets as income. You cannot build up the credit of this country on the basis of taking into this year revenue which does not belong to it. When you are going into the money market to borrow money and say in your balance sheet that you have put in two items of that kind you are asking for the Shylock's price for money; you are asking for that price of money which is exacted from a man known to be in a bad condition. You have got to pay the penalty price of your default.
If the Minister for Finance or any other Minister upon these benches was in the hands of moneylenders and those facts were known to the moneylenders what would be the price they would charge for accommodation? What would be the price if, in his personal capacity, any man or Minister in this House chose to put himself in the hands of moneylenders under those conditions? That is his responsibility and his sorrow. But if any man speaking for this House, for the Twenty-six Counties in this country, does choose deliberately to put the country into that position, when going into the hands of the moneylenders, it is not his misfortune; it is his shame. What did the Minister for Finance do in relation to the credit of this country? When he was going for a loan he stumped up and down the country, telling the world, in a stunt election, the horrible position in which the country was and demanding for the carrying on of the ordinary law of this country penal laws of a character that would shame an uncivilised State. He was not satisfied with that. When the election was over, when the people, in their folly or in their wisdom, had decided other than he had expected and calculated on in his stunt election, he actually made this statement—a man who was going for a loan, who was going to buy money—to those from whom he was going to buy the money on behalf of this State: "The position of the country will mean that we will have to pay £300,000 more for our loan."
Imagine the condition of any business man who, going into the market to buy anything, would declare first to the seller that conditions had been produced which would make him have to pay more. The statement was untrue. What would be the position of the managing director of any firm, faced with his shareholders who, before he had gone into the market to borrow money, had said that untrue thing in relation to the condition of his firm? In spite of the defeatist policy, in spite of the slander upon the credit of this country, consistently indulged in by the Minister for Finance, the credit of the country rose, as is illustrated even by the very unsatisfactory indication of the price of existing National Loan. In spite of that, and at a moment when it ought to have been the policy of the responsible Minister for Finance at least to show a price which was a fair price for National Loan, although he buys some hundreds of thousands of pounds of National Loan in a year, he leaves the market for National Loan be depressed on the Dublin Stock Exchange 1½ points on a ridiculous little parcel of stock that could have been bought by any man in this House.
We are going to have another loan, and how I know it is by what has been said on these Front Benches to-day. I heard a speech in this House the other day, and I turned to my colleague, Deputy Carney, and said: "They must be going for another loan." The next day one particular organ of the Press of this country sent out to 80,000 people in this country the declaration that a Minister in this House had made a startling speech—a speech which, in the opinion of the Press, was good enough to be placarded as a sign and a proof that in the opinion of the Ministry there were causes in this country for fear, and for apprehension of danger. How on earth can you expect to borrow money at a reasonable price if the policy of the Ministry itself and, above all, of the Minister for Finance, for Party purposes, for the purpose of attacking his political opponents, is to say, first, to the people who are lending the money that their security is insecure, and, secondly, to the lenders of money that, due to that insecurity, the price must be higher. That is the sort of thing which would get any ordinary commercial man laughed out of commercial life as an utter incompetent. My charge is more than incompetency. I do not blame, I say deliberately, any member of the Front Bench for the incompetency which is natural there, but I do blame them in so far as they refuse to learn to improve, and in so far as they deliberately use their position for the purpose of damaging the assets in their hands.
Deputy O'Connell to-day said that the Ministry was in possession of the resources of this country. They are in possession of certain resources and they have a considerable influence over the value of some other resources in this country. One of the things which they do not possess, but over whose immediate and exchangeable value they have a direct influence, and their conduct has a direct influence, is the credit of this country and the policy of the Minister for Finance and the policy of his colleagues for party purposes has been to debase and degrade that credit so that in a party sense they may get advantage from it. The position as disclosed by the state of the revenue is bad. The Minister for Finance has been quite frank. I like to give him credit for anything I can. I like to give every opponent credit for everything I can. The Minister for Finance has been frank enough to say that he does not see the corner being turned within the financial year. I had hopes that possibly there were things known to the Ministry of Finance, that they had worked out their rate of revenue accretion in certain conditions, that the Minister was calculating that there were certain conditions in relation to the artificial £1,150,000, which he has taken in as income and which is not income, which would lead him to believe that in the remainder of the time he would get a much larger proportion than we on these seats know anything of, or that Deputies could envisage. He says he will not. Frankly I sympathise with him in that fact, and I am disappointed. But is the Minister for Finance entitled to get away with it on that ground? Have we tried, has he tried, to reduce avoidable, overhead, and non-productive expenditure within the limits which would enable him to balance? Has he kept that restraint over his colleagues and over their actions and incitements which would enable him to do it? He has to include under two single heads of enforcement expenditure, namely, the Civic Guards and the Army, somewhere about £3,000,000 of money. Has he tried to enforce upon his colleague, the Minister for Justice, that conduct which would enable him to reduce that amount? Has there been any protest from him when in his presence the Minister for Justice has stated things which will directly cause an increase of expenditure under those heads, namely, when the Minister for Justice has defined as a good and a reputable member of one of these forces a man who keeps his assaults upon the general public within that degree of atrocity in which it will not be awarded more than £40 valuation in one of his own Circuit Courts?