Public Business. - Finance Bill, 1935—Second Stage (Resumed).

In this Budget the Minister has laid under contribution —possibly he was constrained to do so—nearly every possible commodity except, perhaps, cabbage-stumps, pluiricin and jelly fish. Indeed, the Midas touch of the Minister would, for revenue purposes, almost turn a dog's bark into gold. The Minister will very likely ask what could be done in the circumstances. He had to meet certain expenditure and he will say that he tried to distribute the burden in the most equitable way possible. The Free State is an infant State, still in its nonage. I am afraid its growth has been over stimulated and that it has bitten off more than it can chew. The legislative machine is working at such limited mail speed and is turning out Acts of Parliament so rapidly that panting time toils after them in vain. Considering the resources of the State, I think the cost of administration is entirely too high. It has been reckoned that nearly one out of every seven adult persons in the Free State is a public official of some kind. I am of opinion that, without impairing the efficiency of the administration, the cost could be considerably reduced. I think also that in regard to some services there is a very great waste of money. We have, for instance, premium bulls and prize cows but their progeny is ruthlessly slaughtered. A county councillor recently, in language which may be considered a bull but was, in fact, pointedly appropriate, said, that the beach in front of his residence was "alive" with dead calves. That is a state of affairs by no means uncommon in this country. Again the expenditure on free meat is wasteful and ridiculous to excess. When I say that I do not suggest that the distribution might not be defended and might not be justifiable in certain circumstances. It is a well-known fact, however, and I am sure it is well-known to Deputies in this House, that a great deal of that beef is being given to professional beggars who never did and never will do a day's work.

With the wheat and beet schemes I am entirely in agreement, subject to certain limitations. It is quite possible that, if the policy of the Government is carried out in its entirety, there will be in this country such over-production that there will be a surplus for which there will be no market abroad and for which there can be no profitable market in the Free State owing to the restriction of livestock. The ideal economic State, unquestionably, is the one that can produce all it wants for home consumption and that can consume everything that is produced at home; but if the wheat policy, especially, is carried out on too extensive a scale, much as I support the growing of wheat, it is bound to lead to such a surplus of wheat that it will have to be used, as they use it in some of the Western States of America, for fuel and firing purposes, because there will be no cattle or pigs in the country to consume it. I would point out to the Minister—and I say it in the most perfect good faith and not through any desire to find fault with this Party or any other Party—that in the ultimate analysis taxation sent Charles I to the block and sent Louis XVI to the guillotine, and there may arise such a state of distress and poverty in this country that even the citizens, if they are hopelessly oppressed, may be entitled to revolt even against their own Government. If their grievances are not redressed; if reason, pleading at the bar of justice is spat upon and rejected, the day may come when the citizens would be entitled, provided there is a reasonable chance of success, to rise against and overthrow a Government that places on them a burden which is intolerable and which they cannot bear.

I suggest, Sir, that this is an incitement to revolution. However, if Deputy Burke leads it, we will all feel safe in our beds.

Mr. Burke

I did not hear what the Minister said. I am sorry, because I am sure I have lost a great deal by not hearing what he said.

Mr. Burke

I am glad that the Minister agrees with me in something. In this Budget a tax has been put on tea. It is a well-known fact that tea is no longer a beverage or a luxury in this country. It has become a food. The tax on tea will press very severely on the very poor section of the community, and I can assure the Minister that housekeepers, to use a biblical expression, will not rise up and call him blessed. However, I am a confirmed optimist, and I believe that every cloud has a silver lining Happily, in this country the lining is better than silver, it is gold. I understand that there has been discovered in a dried-up lake in the delectable county of Wicklow an auriferous deposit which is estimated to be worth £17,000,000 of money.

But the £17,000,000 are not in this year's Budget.

Mr. Burke

I know, Sir, but I am suggesting that the State, in the exercise of its eminent domain, is perfectly entitled, after paying due and just and reasonable compensation to the prospectors and the discoverers, to seize that money for national purposes, and I suggest that, in their present straitened conditions, it would be a God-send to the Free State. With these few remarks, I hope that the Minister will be able to see his way— of course, he may be subject to difficulties which we do not appreciate—to reduce the cost of administration through the various Departments and to put a check on wasteful expenditure on unproductive services. If he can do that, he will earn the thanks and gratitude of the whole community.

Mr. Morrissey rose.

I should like to point out, Sir, that we have already spent 22 hours on the Resolutions and the Second Stage of the Finance Bill, which is a record.

How many hours?

22 hours.

Deputy Little, apparently, overlooks the fact that this Finance Bill is the most important Bill that comes before the House during the year, that it covers all the activities of the State, and that every member of this House has, not only the right, but the responsibility to his constituents—particularly to those who are going to be most severely hit by the extra taxation—to give expression to his views and to point out to the Minister that, in his opinion, the burdens which the Finance Bill will place on the people of this country are far greater than the country should be asked to bear. I want to get back, Sir, to an aspect of this Budget that I dealt with during the course of the Budget Resolutions. In the course of that discussion I made the statement that, as a result of the Government's activities and as a result of their taxation upon the necessaries of life— their quotas, import orders, and so on—the cost of living and the cost of the necessaries of life have been increased to such a point that, in my opinion, it would be equivalent to a reduction of 4/- per week in the wages of a working man with an average family. The Government's organ, a day or two afterwards, took that matter up and wrote a subleader, in which they said that the statement in another newspaper, which had reported my statement that the increases brought about by the Government were equivalent to a reduction of 4/- per week in the wages of an average working man, was an exaggeration of 800 per cent. The Irish Press told us that the increase to the average family in this country would not be more than sixpence per week. Is there any member of this House of any Party who knows anything about the cost of running a house—is there any member of the Labour Party—who would agree for one moment with the statement in the Government newspaper that the increase would not amount to more than sixpence per week? Let me deal with just a few of the necessaries. Tea is taxed to the extent of 4d. a lb. The average family will consume at least a lb. of tea in the week. With regard to sugar, the Budget itself, of course, imposes an impost of over ¼d. a lb., but it is well known that the residents of the Free State are paying at least a penny a lb. more for sugar than is being paid in Northern Ireland or Great Britain. I suggest that a low estimate of the consumption of sugar in a week by the average family would be seven lbs. That will be agreed, I think.

Too high.

I have gone to the trouble of making enquiries from the heads of a number of families and in some cases I was told that the consumption would be ten or 11 lbs. In other cases the consumption would be as low as five lbs. or six lbs., but in only one case where there was a family did I get a figure lower than five lbs. I am striking a fairly low average at 7 lbs. and I am speaking of a family of five persons—a man and his wife and three children. I do not think I can be accused of putting the average too high at 7 lbs. Butter is a very important item, and at present, and for a considerable time, the consumers of butter in this country have been paying 7d. to 8d. a lb. more for creamery butter than is being paid in Northern Ireland or Great Britain. The Minister may say that there is a very good reason for that. I am concerned with proving my point that, as a result of Government activity, the cost of living has been so increased as to be equivalent to an increase of at least 4/- a week in the case of the ordinary working man.

Flour to date has increased in some districts—and we know it will go still higher in price when the cost of the wheat subsidy comes directly on the consumer—by 4d. per stone and we know that bakers' flour is from 10/- to 12/- per sack dearer here than on the other side. We know that in many towns, including the town in which I live myself and in the City of Limerick, they have increased the price of the 4lb. loaf by 1d., and we know that the bakers have said that, when the full cost of the wheat subsidy comes on this year, there will have to be a further increase in the 4lb. loaf of 1d. to 1½d. There is a duty of 5/- a ton on coal coming in here and there is no way of evading that duty, because we are not allowed to import any but British coal. It means more than 5/- to the consumer because people are to-day compelled to pay 10/- per ton, which includes the 5/- per ton duty, more for coal than they were paying prior to the coal-cattle pact. With regard to tobacco, the Minister may say that it is a luxury but I do not think he will get many people to agree with him in that. There is another increase in that. I am speaking, as I say, of the necessaries of life and I am leaving out what I might call borderline cases, articles in respect of which there will be a certain amount of disagreement as to whether they are luxuries or not. I am prepared to prove to any person who is open to conviction that, as a result of the activities of the present Government, the cost of living has been so increased as to be equivalent to 4/-, and, perhaps, 5/-, a week in the case of the average family in this country.

In this Budget there are a great number of what might be described as hidden taxes—hidden in the sense that they have not yet been brought home to the ordinary person in the country and have not been published in the newspapers. We know that in one of the Resolutions there is a schedule of ten pages of duties. In so far as those duties are imposed for a protective purpose and to help industry at home and in so far as the articles so tariffed are being produced at home to meet home requirements, I have no objection whatever to them, but in this Bill there are numerous articles, which are not produced here, and of whose production here there is no prospect, taxed and heavily taxed for one purpose and one purpose alone— to get in revenue. The Government take great credit to themselves for their activities in building houses in this country and I, for one, have never denied their right to credit for their activity in that direction, but it does seem to me a very peculiar state of affairs, when the Government claim that they are so anxious to build houses and when they know that it is essential that so far as the vast majority of these housing schemes are concerned the houses should be built at the least possible expense and let at the lowest possible rent, because a great number of them are to accommodate people who are being taken from the slums and who are unable to pay high rents, that practically everything used in the building of houses— cement, glass, wallpaper, and so on—is taxed in this Budget.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce told us within the last three weeks that the glass factory, the cement factories and, I think, the paper factory would not be in working order for two years. Therefore, we are to have 5/- a ton on cement; we are to have a duty on glass; and we are to have a duty on paper—wallpaper and other classes of paper. These imposts will necessarily have a big bearing on the cost of the house. They will increase the price of building and, therefore, will increase the rent to be paid by the tenants. There is another point: many of those poor people —I suppose nearly all of them—will make an effort when going into those houses to have them furnished and decorated a little better than their old homes and everything they buy for those houses, even the simplest thing they will require to make it somewhat better than their old slums, is taxed. As I say, in the case of furniture and such articles which can be, and are being, produced at home, I have no objection, but I do think that it is unfair and unjust that the Minister should put such heavy imposts on these particular articles.

It seems to me that since the State was set up no Budget has been introduced in this House which will lean so heavily on the people of this country, and particularly heavily on those who are least able to bear it, as this Budget. I would ask the Minister and the members of the Labour Party, when they speak of wages of 22/- a week on forestry schemes and the starvation wages, as they have been described by Deputy Norton, in the Post Office Service, to remember that they are no longer worth 22/- a week. The wages which Deputy Norton described as starvation wages will be considerably lower after the passage of this Bill, because the 22/- per week will not purchase as much food when this Bill becomes law as before the Minister introduced his Budget. It is a bad Budget, in my opinion, and I think the Minister will find it very hard to justify it either in this House or in the country.

One of the results of this Budget which has not been mentioned so far in the House is the cancelling of numerous contracts entered into prior to the introduction of the Budget. In many cases contracts for reconstruction, for new roofings, or for engineering work, have been so gravely affected by the Budget that they have been cancelled. On top of that we have a restive labour movement against the increased cost of living, with the result that there are many in industry to-day who can foresee the repercussions of this Budget in the next six months. There is not the slightest doubt whatever that up and down the country this Budget will bring about an appeal, in the first instance, for an increase of wages, and, in the second instance, possible strikes, together with all that bad feeling and all that aftermath of bitterness which take such a long time to get rid of, and from which business takes such a long time to recover.

The other evening here Deputy Hugo Flinn, when he got up to defend the Budget, created a sort of clever smoke screen, in his attempt to draw a red herring across the trail and get away completely from the Budget. He baited the Opposition by saying: "Come and tell us where you will reduce any expenditure. Is there one single item in this Budget which you, as an Opposition, will suggest to the Minister that he can dispense with, and in doing so hurt no individual member of the community or section of the community? He proceeded along those lines and, towards the end, referred to Deputy Fionan Lynch's Department and the manner in which he handled his own Department. Then, as a wind-up, he said that if we have an economic position here where we have to pay to send things out, as well as pay to bring things in, that economic position must be got rid of at all costs. But he made no defence of the Budget. He never touched the Budget, with the result that to my mind we had three-quarters of an hour wasted.

The Government to-day is like a board of directors of an industrial company, with a wide range of different interests. The Cabinet has its fingers so much in every commercial activity in this country that they can very easily say, "we have complete proprietorship of the internal and external activities of the commercial would in the Irish Free State"; they can readily say to the wage earner and the taxpayer. "You are the shareholders." Each year they reverse the procedure which an industrial company has got to go through. They show their balance sheet a year in advance of their trade, whereas an industrial company has got to produce its balance sheet at the end of the year's trading. I can imagine the Minister for Finance, as head of the board of directors, telling the taxpayer and the wage earner of this country, who are the investors in the industrial activity of the country: "Our trade has been very bad; we have no surplus; we cannot pay your dividends, or in other words we can give you no relief." Why? Because the whole business activity of the Free State is just the same as a business concern; unless you have trade you cannot maintain it; you cannot build up any reserve, and you cannot pay a dividend. That is what is happening here in this country at the present moment. Our trade is becoming so dislocated, our overhead charges are so high, and our reserves are gradually becoming so depleted, that unfortunately the result is that the investors are to be called on for more money to put into the concern in order to keep it going—in order that it can carry on its commercial activity in the minor way in which it is carrying it on. As far as we can see, there is no prospect that our trade developments are going to warrant the Minister for Finance saving next year that he is now in a position to reduce taxation, to relieve the taxpayer or the wage earner, to declare a dividend, or to give encouragement and hope to those who are rallying behind the board of directors—the Government—to help the industry of this country. That is the whole trouble. If Deputy Hugo Flinn, as a business man, would come down to brass tacks in his whole defence of the Budget, and deal with one thing, namely, trade, then we could come to grips and know at once that our whole Budgetary position is due to bad business and bad trade, just as in the case of an ordinary business concern or an industrial company.

I should like the Minister for Finance, with his Cabinet colleagues —who are really more than a board of directors; they are invested with extraordinary dictatorial powers—to go into that question purely from the point of view of ordinary business, remembering that our Budget can never be balanced in any other way, and that this economic war, which is responsible for the smashing up of the major industry in the Irish Free State, is also responsible for our bad Budgetary position. There is no use in any sensible man, either on this side of the House, on that side of the House, or here on the Labour benches, trying to hide his head in the sand and persuade himself that this Budget is a good Budget or a satisfactory one. It is a bad Budget; it is an unsatisfactory one; to my mind it will require the greatest imagination of any Minister for Finance to try to discover new sources of revenue and new means of bolstering up the financial position of the country. I must say that it reminds me of an artery being opened in one arm and a transfusion of blood being put through the other. It will end only in one way and that is that further and further we will recede and our business activities will become more narrow until the period is reached when the country cannot afford to carry on and pay for the cost of administration of ordinary social services.

The Budget must be regarded from the purely business standpoint, and let the political side be cut out. Unfortunately, when one endeavours to talk ordinary business in this House, it is immediately suggested that one is speaking from a political standpoint. If there is one Department that should carry a semblance of dignity with it, it is the Department of Finance. The Minister for Finance is our Chancellor of the Exchequer. He is responsible for an important Department. I am sorry to say that it is mighty hard to discover any element of dignity in the manner in which that Department is now being conducted. If one endeavours to criticise the Department from a business standpoint, or to suggest a way in which we might remedy our bad position, one is considered as acting politically. The only cure for our present deplorable financial position is the development of trade outside the Free State. Only by that means can we hope for a reduction of taxation, and only in that way can we give an impetus to business. There are limitations to the development of the home market. Unless an ordinary trader sells well and can earn good returns in comparison with the amount he expends on labour, etc., he cannot carry on. Similarly, a Government, unless it is prepared to develop its trade abroad to the fullest extent, cannot hope to carry on and pay its way; it must inevitably fall heavily into debt and the financial position of the country must necessarily become a matter for grave concern.

I do not like to let this occasion pass without saying a few words on the Finance Bill. Although I spent a very hard week-end in Galway, I made it my business to look up the records of the House, and I was fortunate enough to find a speech of the Minister for Finance on the Finance Bill of 1928. I will confine myself principally to the reading of his remarks in criticism of the Budget of that year (Vol. 23, column 1549, 17th May, 1928):

"Mr. MacEntee: I take it that at this stage of the Bill the discussion is to confine itself to the principle of the measure only. Therefore I intend to confine myself to considering the purpose of the Bill and the method of securing it. This Bill proposes to increase taxation, and to aggravate the already too heavy burden upon our people and upon their industry. We must ask ourselves whether such an increase is justifiable and unavoidable, and whether also it is equitably distributed. According to the figures supplied to us, the minimum amount to be raised by taxation in the current year is £20,735,000. The actual amount raised last year was £20,396,000, so that at the very lowest computation taxation during the current year will be heavier than last year to the tune of £339,000."

In passing, I would like to say that the amount proposed by the Minister this year to be raised by way of taxation is £28,337,710.

"Can we impose such an additional burden? Will industry sustain it, for if industry cannot sustain it I submit that we are not justified in imposing it. At the present moment, in proportion to our resources, in population and in wealth, we are the most heavily taxed country in Europe. I dare say that we are almost the most heavily taxed country in the world."

That was at a time when the taxation was fully £8,000,000 less than it is to-day. The Minister went on to say:—

"I do not wish to make any debating point about the matter. I simply wish to draw attention to the question, irrespective of parties, in order that it may receive the serious consideration of this House, for I believe relief from that tribute is one of the first things necessary to restore prosperity to the Free State."

The Minister went on to refer to the land annuities, and he said that in 1925-26 the sum of £3,400,000 was paid. It might be no harm to mention here that the amount collected by the British Government by way of taxes on our exports was in the neighbourhood of £5,553,000. I might say also that Mr. J.H. Thomas said recently in the House of Commons that last year they collected £4,700,000 and that they are making provision this year to collect £5,000,000. The fact is that our responsibilities have been increased, and we have lost our market. I will read some more extracts from the Minister's speech in 1928:—

"There is no use in attempting to minimise that payment. When I was referring in the discussion on the financial statement to the amount of money we paid by way of land annuities, the Minister for Agriculture interjected a remark and asked me how much of these annuities come back to citizens of the Free State. I thought it worth while to inquire, and I found that out of £3,400,000 paid in 1925-6 the actual amount that came back by way of interest to the citizens was £211,000. That is thought by the Minister for Agriculture to be some justification for a financial transaction of that description, but then on top of the combined burden of the tribute and the taxation we have the effect of our adverse trade balance. The real difficulty is in the trade balance, which in the calendar year amounted to £8,750,000, representing the value of the actual assets which we had to realise in order to meet our external commitments."

If the Deputy read more slowly we would be able to follow that very interesting speech.

I am sure the Minister will be provided with a copy of the Official Report.

You are reading the quotation rather too quickly.

You hear a lot of the Cork accent now.

The only point is that the speech is not delivered in the same style.

I hope the Minister will tell us what is our adverse trade balance for this year. He says further on:—

"Is the Dáil going to connive at that process of industrial strangulation? Is it going to cry halt and face up to the Executive Council and say boldly: ‘You are asking more than the country can give, more than the country can afford and survive'? That is the real situation. We are being taxed far beyond our capacity to bear or pay. Taxes indeed have been screwed up and up until now they show a diminishing return. I think that is the most ominous feature of the financial table explaining the Budget which was furnished to us by the Minister for Finance. We have found that taxes which years ago yielded an increasing return to the Exchequer are giving a steadily diminishing yield, and that the Minister for Finance has been compelled to drop some taxes altogether as being unproductive and worthless. That very fact is of the gravest significance. It indicates that the danger signals are up and that we must call a halt to this extravagant expenditure or go smash."

The Deputy prefaced his remarks by a statement that he intended to make some quotations from the speech of Deputy MacEntee, as he then was. It is not permissible to quote at great length from any speech. The Deputy has devoted six minutes to quotation. It is not permissible to recite a speech made in 1928.

Will the Chair inform the House if these reports are available in the Library for Deputies to read?

Has not Deputy MacEntee, as such, ceased to exist?

Mr. Rice

He is transmuted.

I thank the Chair for the correction it has given me. I merely felt that it might be an injustice to the Minister if I did not read his speech fully. That was my reason for quoting so much.

Peace by ordeal!

In another part of that speech the Minister said:—

"Although the danger signals are up, the unfortunate thing for the country is that we have a Finance Minister who, though he sees the danger signals, cannot read them."

How true that is to-day! The Minister went on:—

"Obviously taxation must be reduced if industry is to prosper and taxation cannot be reduced unless expenditure is reduced. The ratio of non-producers to producers in this country is altogether too high. The number of drones is altogether out of proportion to the capacity of the workers to support them. The number of men in services like the Army and the Gárda Síochána should be reduced, not in order that they may starve, but in order that they may be absorbed in industry and given employment as producers of wealth. At the present time they are only consumers of wealth maintained by the rest of the population, maintained in a state of luxury to which the general mass of our people can never aspire, and in conditions of comfort that the general mass of our people do not know."

Perhaps the Deputy will now give the House his views.

Further on the Minister says:—

"The Minister proposes to give an extra £150,000 to old age pensions. We do not quarrel with that. Our only quarrel with it, indeed, is that it is not sufficient, but while the Minister gives £150,000 to the old age pensioners, or to the section of the community from which they are drawn, he, with the other hand, takes away in the form of a sugar tax something like £200,000 from exactly the same section of the population. A device like that is, to my mind, like dropping a penny attached to a string into a blind man's tin to make it rattle."

That is good. Then he goes on to say:—

"It is just as senseless and unjustifiable, and just as hard. For the reason, therefore, that the Finance Bill does not consider the economic needs of the State and people, because it does not propose to grant any relief to industry, and the workers in industry, and because it makes no attempt whatever to deal with the adverse trade balance which is draining our capital, and because the whole incidence of the taxation which it proposes to impose is inequitable and unjust, we feel on these benches that this Finance Bill should not be given a Second Reading."

Tá go maith, a thailliur.

I would like to say that the policy of the Government is completely destroying the productive capacity of our people and will inevitably mean an increased cost in the State machinery. Deputy Corry last week said that the small farmer was better off than ever he was. I have met a great number of small farmers. I live amongst them, and I put it up to the Government on several occasions to set up a commission to inquire into the position of the small farmers. The agricultural industry is the most important in the community. It is the main industry in this country, for on it depend all the other industries. If the Minister is sincere in his contention that the small farmers are better off than they were previously I ask him to set up this commission. I can give him my word in advance that if he does I will put up a number of small farmers to give evidence before that commission. Then the Minister will be in a better position to judge than he is to-day.

We have heard the argument here that the small farmer is better off and that it is only the big farmer who is suffering. Now, I maintain the very opposite to that. There is no doubt about it that when the economic war started the big farmer lost a good deal at the beginning. But the big farmers have since then been buying cattle from the producers at such a low price that they can hardly lose on the transaction. I would like to give a couple of examples. I do not want to go into the matter at too great length, but as the Minister for Finance, coming as he does from Belfast, has little experience of farming, it is only natural that I would like to improve his education. At the Ballyvourney Fair, a month ago, I met a man who had sold ten heifers and I asked him what he got for them, and he told me that he sold them for £25. A neighbour of his who had sold him some of them as calves two years before that, then told me that he got £3 for the calves. Some of those calves were amongst the ten heifers that he sold for £25, or 50/- apiece. The man actually did pay £3 apiece for some of these calves when dropped. After feeding them for two years he got £25 for them. Look, then, at the position if this man sold the cattle to a shipper. There is a sum of £3,143,000 in this Budget for bounties and subsidies. The position with regard to these ten cattle the farmer sold for £25 would be that the shipper would get a bounty of £1 on each of them. The producer was actually getting 50/- apiece for them, but the shipper was only paying 30/- apiece for the heifers, as the State paid him £1 each as bounty. It is a tragic plight for the Government to bring those unfortunate poor people to. When these cattle were shipped to John Bull, John Bull got £60 of a present with these ten cattle. Surely there can be no hope whatever for any country that is expected to carry on under such conditions. There is no use in trying to bluff the people.

I am not at all ambitious about hunting the Government out of office at once. I would like, first, to see the full effect of their policy. But, on the other hand, the people will say to you: "We cannot stand it; we cannot carry on." There is another policy which the Executive Council have adopted, that is, the policy of slaughtering the calves. A question asked in the House during the past week elicited the information that £118,000 had been paid for bounties on calf skins on the past year. At 12/6 per calf skin, that shows that 188,000 calves had been slaughtered for their skins. Speaking on this motion a few days ago Deputy Haslett said that at a fair in Monaghan he saw a beast sold for £10, and a few days later he saw the same beast in Northern Ireland sold for £16, and the purchaser of the animal at the County Monaghan fair got a £1 bounty. If these calves that are being slaughtered by the Government were reared for two or three years, at £16 each they would be sold for £3,008,000, which would be just about what the President said last week the land annuities amounted to—£2,900,000. So that after three years, if the policy of the Government is persisted in, the result will be that the country will be losing on calves alone about £3,000,000 a year. A couple of years ago Dr. Ryan, the Minister for Agriculture, speaking before the United Farmers' Association in Dublin, said that anybody who argued that the number of cattle should be reduced was either a fool or a knave, because we wanted our cattle to consume our surplus grain. It is only a few weeks ago since an ex-Deputy of this House told me he had 45 tons of oats for which he could get no market whatever. I know a dairyman in my own neighbourhood with a lot of oats who cannot sell it. He could not get a market for it.

It is quite clear that as the time passes on the people cannot possibly pay their way. The position to which they have been brought is the result of the Government policy. Now, what remedy are they applying for this state of things? Well, they are putting a tax on every article that the small farmer consumes. Tea, sugar, butter, tobacco and bread are being taxed. On their wheat policy the Minister for Agriculture made the boast here that next year they would grow 200,000 acres of wheat. I asked the Minister what the subsidy per acre was, and he said it would be 6/6 per barrel. I asked him how many barrels to the acre and he said seven. I pointed out to him that his own figures gave eight barrels to the acre, and at 6/6 per barrel that means 52/- on every acre of wheat grown. Suppose we calculate the subsidy at 50/- per acre; on 200,000 acres of wheat the subsidy would come to £500,000. I asked the Minister who was to pay for that bounty, and he replied that the taxpayer paid it in the past but that in the future we would put it on the consumer.

The Deputy might reserve some of his information for the Minister for Agriculture.

Well, I can repeat it later on for the Minister for Agriculture. I have no objection to repeating it.

But the Chair has.

I am very nearly finished now. The Minister said that formerly the taxpayer paid the subsidy and now we are putting it on the consumer. But everybody knows that the consumers and the taxpayers are the same people. That incident in itself shows how far the Front Bench go to bluff the people of this unfortunate country. Now, going still further, the aim of the Government is to grow 850,000 acres of wheat in order to meet the total wants of the people in flour. That at £2 10s. an acre would work out at £2,125,000. That would leave a tax of 16/- per sack on flour that should be paid by the consumer, as the Minister for Agriculture said about a fortnight ago.

Now, with regard to the coal-cattle pact, this is not included in the Budget, but it was mentioned several times in the course of the debate.

It got two full days.

Very well. Deputy Morrissey paid a very high compliment to the Minister in regard to the number of houses they built. No one could be more pleased than I am at the additional houses that have been built, but we must remember that three years ago before the Fianna Fáil Government came into office, they promised to reduce taxation by £2,000,000 instead of putting on any additional burden. We now find ourselves in the unfortunate position that instead of decreasing taxation by £2,000,000 they have increased it by £8,000,000. There was a good deal of criticism of the late Government when in office for not building more houses. That Government, unfortunately, had to go in for the building of bridges and the repair of other destruction carried out by the present Government Party when in Opposition which cost the country no less than £35,000,000. I always felt it was a most unfortunate thing that such wholesale destruction should be carried out, and but for that terrible destruction and what it cost the country we would be the most happy and prosperous people in the world to-day.

It is said about this year's Budget that it is a complete departure from the policy of Fianna Fáil. That is partly true, but it is also true to say that it is a necessary consequence of their previous Budgets. When the Minister for Finance was framing his previous Budgets he thought of putting all the taxes he could upon the so-called wealthy classes and that policy of the Government and the Minister was cheered on by the Labour Party, particularly by Deputy Davin, who seemed to think that income tax could never be too high. But the Minister learned something after some years of experience here. After an income tax of 4/9 in the £——

The Deputy's colleague has misled him.

Mr. Rice

Well, we will call it 4/6 in the £.

It is not merely a nominal 4/6 in the £, but it is an actual 4/6 in the £, and for the average taxpayer it is much less.

Mr. Rice

With an average of 4/6 in the £ and with the best will in the world the Minister found that he could not get more by increasing the income tax. You cannot perform a Cæsarian operation on the golden goose which will enable it to lay two eggs when it can only produce one. The Budget is described as a departure from Fianna Fáil policy. It is in this sense: we were told by the Government when they came into office that their policy was to reduce the standard of living to the lowest common denominator. But it is considered that even that standard is too high now, because people living at the lowest possible common denominator are being brought to a lower stage still. The Minister has imposed taxes on the necessaries of life—bread, butter, tea, sugar, and tobacco. I do not call tobacco a luxury of life. After a working man has done his day's work it is no luxury that he should be allowed to have his smoke at a reasonable rate. Deputy Morrissey suggested that the increase in the cost of living of a poor family of five persons is 4/- per week. I suggest that that is not an over-estimate, but I regard it as an under-estimate. As we know, the poor buy in the very smallest quantities, and they have to pay an increase in price out of all proportion even to the increase in the tax. We are told that there is a tax of 5/- on coal. But what do the poor people pay for it? They buy in the very smallest quantities.

Did you not vote for it?

Mr. Rice

I voted against it.

You are in the wrong party so.

Mr. Rice

All the Labour Party voted for the General Resolution which put into force all the previous Resolutions of the Government increase in taxation. This General Resolution gave the force of law to the new Resolutions putting an increased tax on bread, butter, tea, sugar and other taxes adopted. That was, of course, after the President had, if I may use the expression, wiped the floor with them. The result was an exception to their general muster in this House, because it resulted in eight of them going into the lobby, where they were forced to vote for the General Resolution putting taxes on tea and the other commodities and enable them to be brought into force. That was one of the few occasions on which they mustered their full numbers in the House, which is proof of the old maxim that even the worm will turn when trod on.

That is not even correct.

Mr. Rice

I suggest the Minister might find some other means of raising necessary expenditure rather than by putting on these new taxes which so severely affect the poor. I suggest that he might go back to the plan of Fianna Fáil in 1932, when they told us that they could save in the cost of administration the sum of £2,000,000 a year without any decline in services. If they had made such an exhaustive examination of the public services that they found that they could save £2,000,000 a year in economies without in any way impairing the public services—if the Minister would take up that line of action and save that £2,000,000 a year, I cannot conceive why some of the very necessitous poor should have these additional burdens put upon them to-day. I say that this is the worst Budget that was ever introduced by the present Ministry—it is a great deal worse than any of their previous Budgets, because it is causing discontent, reducing the standard of living and producing a position in which discontent and misery can only result.

In the course of his speech, Deputy Rice accused the Labour Party of having voted for the taxes on tea and sugar. The Deputy is not in the House very frequently, but when he comes here he might at least be sure about the statements he makes. It is quite inaccurate for the Deputy to say that we voted in favour of these taxes. We specifically voted against the Financial Resolutions dealing with taxes on tea and sugar.

Mr. Rice

My statement was that the Labour Party voted for the General Resolution giving the force of law to the taxes on tea, sugar and bread.

That is one of those legal kind of half-truths which the Deputy is so very favourable to. Not only did we vote against the tax on tea and sugar, but we might have defeated the Government if the Party opposite could have mustered sufficient numbers in the House. Will Deputy Rice explain how it was that 20 of the Fine Gael Party opposite were absent when the Vote was taken?

Mr. Rice

Will Deputy Norton explain why three of his Party of eight were absent from the same division?

Deputy Rice might explain how it was that when the tax was being imposed on tea and sugar 20 members of his own Party were absent. The Deputy talks about the imposition of a tax on coal under the coal-cattle pact. I agree that to give a preference to Britain to supply inferior coal here at a high price, and to impose a tax upon that coal, which must be borne by our own people is an unfair imposition on our people, but the Party opposite voted for the coal-cattle pact.

They did not vote for the duty.

Deputy Minch is trying to salve his conscience, but the Deputy voted to give a preference to British coal, and the Deputy voted for giving that preference in the knowledge that that coal could only come in with the tax upon it. Everybody who was in the House the other evening when the vote was taken and who saw the amount of hasty consultation, amounting almost to hysteria, on the benches opposite when the vote was called on the matter, knows perfectly well that the Party opposite had not a clear conscience in this matter. Deputy Rice now comes along to tell us that the tax on coal is a heavy burden on our people, while the Party opposite voted for the arrangement to give a preference to coal which comes into the country with that tax. The Deputy talked about a worm turning.

Mr. Maguire

He said "not turning."

If that is so, I accept the correction. But in any case he has surely turned. The Deputy denounces the coal tax, while his Party voted to give preference to the coal which bears that tax.

It does not have to bear the tax.

Of course it does not have, and it should not have to bear it, but in fact the Party opposite voted for that kind of coal coming in with the knowledge that there was a tax upon it. As a matter of fact the whole Party was leaderless when the coal-cattle pact was being discussed. All the backbenchers were allowed to denounce the coal-cattle pact, but the next thing that happened was that they were led into the Division Lobby in favour of it.

That is a half-truth.

Did the Deputy hear the speech of Deputy Minch and of Deputy O'Leary?

Is this quite relevant?

I am afraid it is not.

It does not suit.

The truth is always irrelevant to the Party opposite. There are features of this Budget which are good and features which are very, very bad. It has been said by the Minister that they have found it necessary to maintain and extend the social services and that because of that fact they had to raise additional money for social services. So far as we are concerned, we are prepared to support any proposal designed to extend the social services and any proposal designed to make sure that the cost of the social services is imposed on backs capable of bearing that taxation. There are valuable social services provided for in the Budget and the extension of social services will always be welcomed by this Party.

The housing activities which are now being undertaken by the State are, of course, a commendable improvement on the previous position in that respect. It is not so long since that Deputy Rice posed as being the person who was going to solve the whole national housing problem if only the people of a particular constituency elected him. The Deputy was elected, but the people did not get the houses they were going to get at the rate at which Deputy Rice then promised them. Deputy Rice was going to build all the houses the people needed on that occasion, but look at the house-building record of his Party. In ten years they built 24,500 houses. Since the 1932 Act was passed there have been built, are in course of erection or approved for erection, about 45,000 houses. Twice as many houses have been built in two years as the Party opposite were able to build in ten years. Deputy Rice did not tell us what happened his famous plan to build houses.

On a point of order, this is all very interesting, but I am quite sure that, like myself, other Deputies would prefer to hear the Labour Party on the Budget rather than on subjects which are introduced to distract attention from the Budget.

I am waiting to see what relevancy the activities or inactivities of the Fine Gael Party in housing have to the raising of taxation.

I suggest I am quite in order in discussing housing for which money has to be raised by taxation.

In relation to this Bill, but not in relation to Deputy Rice's activities.

There will probably be no need to discuss it in connection with Deputy Rice's proposals, because they had a rather fungus kind of origin and exit. I shall leave the housing question with the comment that the best way to get houses built in this country is to keep Deputy Rice's Party out of office.

Mr. Rice

He did not like the remark about the worm.

The Deputy is a good hand at turning over.

Mr. Rice

I never turned back from Mallow.

If there is a yard-stick for measuring worms, the Deputy would be a very good yard-stick in that respect, having regard to his political gyrations for a number of years. The Deputy should not talk about turning. How he can use such an awkward word, I do not know. Deputy Coburn, speaking in this House on Friday last, said this Budget was 80 per cent. socialistic. Apparently, according to Deputy Coburn, this socialism takes the form of a tax on tea and sugar, cutting unemployment assistance and old age pensions. The Deputy ventured a prophecy that ultimately this Government would introduce a Budget 100 per cent. socialistic. The Deputy feared that if that happened it would be the end of all things, but Deputy Coburn can go to sleep peacefully to-night and feel satisfied that, far from this Budget being 80 per cent. socialistic, there is not even a spark of socialism in it. There is not even 1 per cent socialism in it, much less the 80 per cent. which Deputy Coburn feared.

It is not so long since the Minister for Agriculture said he was proud of this Budget, but apparently the Minister for Finance does not share in the pride which the Minister for Agriculture feels because, speaking outside this House a few nights ago, he said that he did not desire to minimise the Budget, that it was a war Budget. If this is a war Budget, it deserves a place all of its own in the museum of the world's war Budgets. It is the most extraordinary war Budget I have ever seen, and I am sure it is the most extraordinary war Budget many members of the Government Party have ever seen. The Minister, in saying it is a war Budget, explained that it was necessary, because of the economic war, to raise taxation in this way, and went on to make an eloquent plea to all to realise that the Budget was necessitated by the events of the economic war.

By the document of 1923.

The Minister ought to have realised that it is a peculiar war Budget. This is a peculiar war Budget which is being balanced by taking goods from the enemy that we are at war with. This Budget is being balanced because of the fact that we are giving a preference to British coal. That fact cannot be denied. Yet, the Minister talks about being at war, and the war, apparently, is of such a character that we are giving a complete preference to our enemy to supply coal to this country during its continuance and keeping out of the country, for the benefit of our enemy, coal from other nations cheaper in price and superior in quality. Now, if this is a war Budget, I think that the whole war Cabinet needs to be reconstructed.

This Budget has none of the attributes of a war Budget. It has none of the courage, resource or imagination of a war Budget. It lacks, fundamentally, what is associated with most war Budgets, namely, a determination and a resolve to organise the resources of the nation in order to carry the war to a successful conclusion. This is a timid Budget. In many respects it is a conservative Budget. I do not know that the Minister would find much support, even amongst his own Party, for a Budget that he describes as a war Budget. If this is the Minister's method of defending the country in times of war, then I shudder to think what he would do if there was any real invasion of the country. This Budget has neither courage nor imagination. There is not even audacity in this Budget, from the Minister's point of view.

When we look at this Budget and consider it in the light of the Minister's declaration that it is a war Budget, we find some strange anomalies. We have a war Budget here which reduces the income tax rate for the wealthy income taxpayers and transfers the burden of taxation from backs capable of bearing it to backs not capable of bearing it. In other words, we say to the income taxpayers, "We will reduce your income tax rate for you and ask the old age pensioners, the claimants for unemployment assistance benefit, and the users of tea and sugar to bear the taxation which in every country is properly imposed upon the backs capable of bearing it." Yet, the Minister says this is a war Budget. It seems to me that, if they could arrange it, it would pay the income taxpayers of the country to maintain a perpetual war in this country, because this war Budget is notable for the fact that it reduces the income tax rate for the wealthy while imposing heavy burdens on people who are not capable of bearing them.

The efforts of the Government Party to explain this Budget are extremely interesting. One Deputy says that it is necessary to impose a tax on tea and sugar in order to give people unemployment assistance benefit and old age pensions, and to make provision for widows' and orphans' pensions. The State is making a contribution of £250,000 towards widows' and orphans' pensions, and, in order to get that, according to some of the apologists for the Budget, it is necessary to take £350,000 from the recipients of unemployment assistance and from those who are applicants for old age pensions, quite apart altogether from the taxes that are being imposed on the community in general, especially the taxes on tea and sugar. Last year provision was made in the Budget for widows' and orphans' pensions. The Minister then indicated that there was an allocation of £250,000 for that purpose. When that allocation was made last year it was unnecessary to impose these taxes on the people. It was not necessary to propose any reduction in unemployment assistance benefit, nor was it indicated that it would be necessary to save £100,000 on old age pensions. While the provision of widows' and orphans' pensions was a liability proper to last year's Budget, and common to this year's Budget, it was not by any means necessary last year to impose new taxation; but we are now told that is necessary in order to ensure that the scheme for widows' and orphans' pensions will be put into operation. Last year the Minister reduced the income tax rate, and at the same time gave relief to the community by dropping the tax upon tea. One might describe that as a distribution of benefits to all sections of the community, but this year the Minister proposes to reimpose the tax on tea, and to add to it a tax on sugar. While that is so, there is no proposal this year to restore the income tax rate to its former level. Thus we see clearly that the burden of taxation is being lifted from the backs of the wealthy and put on the backs of the poor, and all this in a Budget which the Minister describes as a war Budget made necessary by the economic conflict with Great Britain. If this were a war Budget and the Minister was mobilising the resources of the nation in the interests of the nation, I could support it with much greater enthusiasm, but there is a complete absence of any such measures being taken. The Minister talks of such measures outside, but when we come to this House and look at the Budget we find that there is a complete absence of the measures that one might expect in a war Budget.

It is true, of course, that the social services are being provided for in the Budget, and that our social services to-day are on a vastly improved scale to those formerly in operation. It is true that the State is now making better provision, through its social services, for the needy and helpless sections of the community, but that does not justify the Government in transferring the burden of taxation from the backs of the wealthy to the backs of the poor. That transfer, which we find in this Budget, represents a very definite swing by the Government to the Right. The Minister is now bestowing on the income taxpayers the same paternal outlook, the same paternal benevolence, that the Party opposite bestowed on them when they were in office.

I suggested to the Minister before, and I do so again, that this is not the time for the imposition of taxes on tea and sugar because burdens of that kind on the poor and the needy are unjustified. The Minister, I think, ought to reconsider the imposition of these taxes and decide to drop them. My submission is that to tax tea and sugar and other foodstuffs of the people is quite unjustified so long as there are alternative sources of taxation available. These alternative sources of taxation are available, and the Minister knows that taxation could be raised in other ways than by taxing tea and sugar. I suggest to him that even now that portion of the Budget might be dropped—that he should decide to raise his taxation in other ways—and so lift the burden which is being imposed on the backs of the poor under this Budget and transfer it to the backs of those who are capable of bearing it.

The Minister to conclude.

We have listened to a speech which was, like the curate's egg, good in parts and bad in parts. It was good in those parts in which it did justice to the Budget and bad in those parts in which it misrepresented the facts.

Which was which?

Deputy Norton did justice to the Budget in pointing out that we were making full provision for the social services. Deputy MacDermot stated, by way of interruption in Deputy Norton's speech, that coal does not have to bear a tax. I gather from some statements made in the House that this tax on coal is not a popular tax and I am sure that Deputy MacDermot does not think that if we could avoid putting on this tax and, at the same time, do our duty to the people, we should, merely to afford him debating material, have imposed it. Of course, coal does not have to bear a tax if—and this is the rub—you are prepared to revert, say, to the position of 1931 in regard to social services. If you are prepared to dispense with unemployment assistance, if you are prepared to go back to the conditions in which the Dáil failed to provide houses for the people in 1931 and to the housing conditions that existed then, coal does not have to bear a tax. If you drop widows and orphans' pensions, if you decide to limit the provision which we are making for the building of new schools throughout the country, coal does not have to bear a tax. Coal, in short, does not have to bear a tax if the Government is prepared to take up, towards the general body of the people, the same callous attitude which was taken up by Deputy MacDermot's leader when he was responsible for administering the affairs of this State. But if you want the present standard of social services to be maintained, if you want our house-building programme to be carried through to its completion, then no tax which this Budget proposes to make can be dispensed with.

It has been charged against us by Deputy Norton that we have not placed the taxation on the backs capable of bearing it. Everything we could do to distribute taxation equitably has been done. At first sight, it might appear possible to increase certain property taxes. I desire to say emphatically that I am satisfied that any increase in the rate of income tax here would, owing to the peculiar circumstances which exist in regard to double taxpayers, only result in a considerably reduced yield. If the yield went down by £500,000 or £600,000, not only should we have to impose the existing taxes on sugar, tea and tobacco, but we should have to increase these taxes in order to make good the reduced yield from income tax and property tax. In framing his Budget, as I presume Deputy Norton will be called upon to do in due course, he will have to take that fact into consideration, just as I have had to do. It is a fact which I cannot possibly get over.

The Minister increased income tax to 5/- at one time.

That was when the British rate was 5/-.

Can we not have an Irish Budget?

There are circumstances which render it, in my opinion, not feasible or practicable to increase our rate of income tax above the standard rate of the British. That is a limitation which every Budget introduced here has to bear. There is no way out, so far as I can see. I think that that answers one of the questions which Deputy MacDermot put to me.

I also asked the Minister how he is going to face the prospect if the British reduce their income tax still further next year.

He can take the Deputy's advice and go into the Commonwealth.

We shall wait and see. This Budget has been attacked by Deputy Rice, Deputy Morrissey, Deputy Mulcahy, Deputy O'Sullivan, and Deputy McGilligan—I shall deal with Deputy McGilligan towards the end of my speech, in the vain hope that he will arrive here before then—on the ground that it puts a taxation on necessities. What are necessities? I propose to deal with commodities which are in the less controversial category. Sugar is a necessity. Boots are a necessity, except for the infant in swaddling clothes. Clothes are a necessity. I suppose furniture would be regarded as a necessity. By import duties on sugar, sugar confectionery, cocoa preparations, boots and shoes, clothing and wearing apparel and furniture, and by a customs entry duty, the Cumann na nGaedheal Administration collected no less a sum than £2,500,000 for the year 1931-32. They went out at the end of that year. Two and a half million pounds were collected by our predecessors by way of taxes on necessities. Yet, this debate has been conducted for almost 24 hours on the basis that this is the first time any Budget introduced here imposed a tax upon necessities. This year—this is one of the reasons why we have had to increase taxation—the amount of revenue which we would have collected from those taxes, including the tax upon sugar at its original rate, would have been £1,200,000. There was a decline of more than 50 per cent. in the revenue from those import duties—a decline from £2,500,000 to £1,200,000. That decline was foreseen three years ago, because, three years ago, we were faced with exactly the same problem with which Deputy Cosgrave's Administration had been faced. We tried to solve that problem, but they ran away from it. I refer to the problem of unemployment, the problem of giving this country a balanced economy, the problem of developing our industrial resources so that they might absorb our surplus population.

Deputy Cosgrave had that problem before him in 1931-32, and he saw, as we saw, that if he was going to increase these import duties, so as to give real protection to our industries, and to afford employment to our people, he was going to be faced, as we have been faced, with the problem of a declining revenue, and to make good that revenue he was going to have to put an increased tax on tea and an increased tax on sugar. But, he thought he was a good politician. He had the belief, which is shared by many people, including, apparently, members of the present Opposition, that a tax upon tea and a tax upon tobacco are unpopular in this country and, therefore, rather than do the unpopular thing, he was prepared to allow our idle people to starve. There were not going to be for Deputy Cosgrave any new boot factories to diminish the import of 90 per cent. of the boots worn in this country because, if Deputy Cosgrave was to build new boot factories the revenue would have gone down by £300,000, which is much more than would be brought in by an increase of a ¼d. a lb. in the tax on sugar. Deputy Cosgrave was not prepared to encourage the manufacture of clothing and wearing apparel in this country because, once again, some part of the odd £600,000 revenue which he was deriving at that time from the import of foreign-manufactured clothing and wearing apparel, would have to be made good by an increased tax on tobacco, say, or possibly by the imposition of a duty upon tea. Therefore, the £2,500,000 revenue, in Deputy Cosgrave's eyes, was very much more important than the problem of finding employment for our people and building up native industries. He ran away from it.

When we came in we had exactly the same choice to make. We had either to allow the continued import of things which we could make, and to-day are making for ourselves, and to keep the revenue from import duties from these articles up to the former level, or we could go ahead, saying that we were going to have these things made in this country, and that we would have to make up what we are losing in Customs duties upon them, either by imposing alternative import duties or by increasing our Excise duties on certain commodities. It has been said here that so far the figures have not justified the choice we made. Deputy McGilligan in the course of his speech referred to the figures in 21 out of 28 industries. He said that the figures for 1933 showed that the total increase in wages paid in this country was £25,000. One need never expect a true or accurate presentation of the case from Deputy McGilligan. The figures which he relied upon were based mainly on two specialised industries, brewing and coach building. In 1930-31 peculiar factors were operating in this country, which made the output from the coach-building industry very much larger than it would normally have been. The coach building and motor car assembling at Ford's Tractor Factory was then working at high pressure, turning out tractors for Russia. Even at that period everyone knew that there was an ephemeral prosperity attending that industry because they knew that once the new Ford factory in England got working, and as the special Russian demand from the factory in this country ceased when the new Russian tractor factories got going the output here was going to fall off.

Everyone knows that the brewing and distilling industries have been declining, not because of any decline in the prosperity of the population as represented by the decline in the consumption of beer and spirits, but due to the changed habits of our people. What is true here is true, to some extent, of people elsewhere. In any event, whatever decline there was in the number of people employed in brewing and distilling took place very largely at the end of 1931 or 1932, and was due to the decreased demand in Great Britain for beer and spirits, beer particularly, and had nothing to do with our industrial domestic conditions whatever. Leaving these two industries aside there are a number of industries for which fairly full figures are now available. I had not much time to check them. I will deal with boots and shoes, clothing and apparel, sugar, confectionery and jam making. In the year 1931 the total output of these commodities from Irish factories was worth £2,950,000. In the year 1933 the value of the output jumped to £4,045,000. In the year 1931 the number of operatives engaged in these industries was 9,638, and in the year 1933 the figures jumped to 14,547. The revenue derived from import duties upon these articles in 1931-32 was £1,012,000, and it fell this year to £650,000. We have lost £350,000 there. Between the 31st March, 1932, and 31st December, 1933, almost 5,000 additional people were put into employment in these industries. The value of the output jumped by over £1,000,000. Not merely that, but while in 1931 the wages paid in these industries amounted to £607,000, in 1933 it had risen to £841,000, or an increase of £234,000, which more than made up for any loss which the Exchequer sustained in revenue between 1931-32 and 1933-34. If that was the position on 31st December, 1933, whatever was lost in revenue was more than made up in wages, and I am perfectly certain that when the figures for 1935 become available, it will be seen that what the State has lost has gone to the workers in these industries. And not merely what we have lost in revenue, but what we used to send out of the country year after year to pay other people to make goods that we could have made for ourselves.

We have been criticised for increasing the tax on sugar. Deputy Morrissey, who is not in the House now, devoted the greater part of his speech to a criticism of the tax on sugar. What were the facts in 1931-32? In the year 1931-32 Deputy Cosgrave's Government collected no less a sum than £1,426,000 out of a tax on sugar and sugar confectionery alone. This year, even allowing for the increase of a farthing per lb. that we are imposing on sugar, we will only get £800,000 out of a tax on sugar. In other words, the Exchequer has lost £626,000 of revenue from sugar. But where has it gone? It has all been distributed among the farmers who are growing the beet and the workers who are turning it into sugar. Not merely are they getting this £626,000, but they are also getting the amount which, if these factories were not working, we should be sending to Czecho-Slovakia or to the West Indies to pay other people either to grow the sugar cane or the sugar beet and to make the sugar for us. Every penny of that money that is being kept here at home is being distributed among the Irish people. Not alone that, but the distribution of that money among the farmers who are growing the beet, the labourers who are helping them to grow it, or the operatives who are making it into sugar, does not end with them. They are taking that money and, except for what they have to spend on tea and other such commodities that have to be imported, are spending every penny of it here in this country. That money is going to the shopkeepers, from the shopkeepers to the wholesalers, and from the wholesalers to the manufacturers who are making clothes, boots, shoes, furniture, and all the other commodities which are now being manufactured at home and which these farmers, farm labourers and operatives are now buying from these home manufacturers. In that way that money is being distributed over the whole population.

What is true of our loss of revenue in regard to sugar is also true in regard to our loss in boots, shoes, sugar confectionery, and all other commodities which used to provide Deputy Cosgrave's Government with revenue but which we have given back to the people and which is now being distributed through the whole population in general. When we come, however, to make good that loss in revenue as we have to do, unless we are going to adopt Deputy Cosgrave's and Deputy McGilligan's callous attitude towards the less fortunate portion of our community here and reduce the social services, the only way in which we can make good that loss, because of the peculiar limitations to which I have already referred, which are imposed on our Budgets, is to make it up out of the general revenue. Apart from everything else, I say that it is quite equitable to make it up in that way, because anything that the Exchequer has lost has been given to the people in general and, if there has to be taxation for distributive purposes, such as is taxation through death duties and imposts of that sort, then it is only right that we should get it from the people who are employed and who are in a position to pay taxes and give it back to the other people.

Does that apply to the coal tax?

I shall come to that in good time.

What was the price of sugar in 1931 and what is the price to-day?

I can give the Deputy that also. In February, 1932, before this farthing a lb. went on, the average retail price of sugar was 3.37 pence. It was sold, in some cases, for more than 3½d. and in other cases for a trifle under that; but you may take it that, on the average, it was 3.37 pence. In February of this year, before this farthing a lb. went on, it was 3.46 pence. In fact, there was no practical difference, as far as the people of this country were concerned, between the price of sugar in February of 1932 and February of 1935. The general sacrifice, which the community as a whole have had to make in order to manufacture all our sugar at home and to provide work for at least 2,600 hands in the factories and about 20,000 additional beet growers, represents about a farthing a lb. Even at that, however, it is not a one hundred per cent. sacrifice because it is very largely compensated for by the increased purchasing power which has been put into the hands of the community. The money which, formerly, was being sent abroad is the money that we are now keeping at home, and, apart from any other ways in which we may have benefited, we are at least this much better off, that whatever we are keeping here is money that, formerly, was sent out to buy imported commodities for which we got no adequate return, because we do not sell cattle or anything else to the countries to which we used to send our money for sugar.

According to that the Minister does not think that the purchasing power of the community has broken down?

I think—and there are any amount of economic indicators to show it—that the purchasing power of the lower strata or poorer sections of this community has been considerably increased since this Government came into office.

And yet we are only able to get £800,000 in revenue from sugar at the same price as in 1932?

I do not see the Deputy's point. I do not think he is quite clear himself as to what he means.

What I mean is that at a certain figure or a certain rate the people were able to buy so much sugar as to be able to pay £1,426,000 in taxes on sugar in 1932, whereas, at the same price, in 1935-36, we are only paying £800,000 in taxes on sugar.

If the Deputy will now subtract £800,000, which includes the extra farthing, he will see how the money is being distributed, but that is precisely what the Deputy does not want to see. In 1931-32 we collected £1,426,000 in taxation on sugar.

And that represented so many lbs. of sugar?

It was collected on the taxation from the consumption of sugar. This year, because we want to keep the price of sugar at a reasonable level, we are only able to collect £800,000 from the taxation of sugar. The difference between the £1,426,000 and that £800,000 is what the people who grow the beet and make the beet into sugar have got from the Exchequer.

As a protection.

Yes, as a protection; and not alone as a protection, but as an actual distribution of increased purchasing power.

What about the coal tax?

I shall come to that.

Do the workers get the benefit of the coal tax?


No, nor of this either.

Do the workers get the benefit of the coal tax?

Certainly, because if we do not put the tax on coal we are going to lose a considerable amount of revenue—about £400,000, I think, or something like that.


How are we going to make good that loss?

By direct taxation.

I have already explained that there are limitations in that direction. I used to have different views myself, but I am telling the Deputy now that when he comes into these benches he will find there a limitation which he is not going to exceed, if he has any regard for the future. If we do not collect that revenue by a tax on coal, we can do only one of two things: either put a tax on something else or reduce some element in the social services. There is no way out of that dilemma. In regard to coal, after all, we have a native fuel here, and this Government is very anxious to do in regard to that native fuel what we have succeeded in doing in regard to sugar. If people feel aggrieved about the tax on coal, let them turn to peat or let them turn even to Irish coal. There is coal mined in this country. Let them turn to it. Let them even use Irish electricity.

You would tax that later on.

You will have to wait and see.

When we have sufficient people mining our coal and a sufficient number engaged in cutting our turf, we should be in a position, if we did not burn imported coal, to reduce very considerably the amount that has to be set aside for unemployment assistance. When we do get to the stage which we want our people to reach, at which they will use, first of all, their own natural resources to the limit, I believe we will be able to reduce taxation considerably, because there will not be the same demand or the same need for unemployment assistance, and those other services which the Government has to provide in order to relieve poverty arising very largely out of unemployment.

Deputy Norton said that the Government and the Opposition Party had voted for a preference for British coal. We have not voted for a preference for British coal as such. We voted here in order to provide the machinery to carry out a commercial undertaking. We have surplus cattle; the British have surplus coal. They are prepared to take our cattle in exchange for their coal.

And you penalise the Irish consumer and the Irish producer.

The question of the tax has nothing to do with this. If we have to import coal, in view of the fact that the British are prepared to take an equivalent amount of cattle in exchange, and if we have surplus cattle in this country and unless we are going to kill them and bury them, are we not perfectly justified in entering into an agreement of that sort which can be entered into without any infringement of principle upon either side?

Is this the pound for 16 "bob" arrangement?

It is one which the Deputy at any rate very often urged us to adopt.

If it is a pound for pound arrangement, it is all right; but if it is a pound for 16 "bob," it is not.

It is not a pound for 16 "bob" arrangement, as I will show the Deputy if he will bear with me. If there is a surplus on both sides to dispose of, is it not the right thing to do to enter into an agreement to do that? That can be done, as I said already, on a purely commercial basis without any infringement of principle.

Provided there are no tariffs on either side.

And when the Opposition Deputies walked into the Lobby in order to swallow in the Lobby the declarations which they have been making here on the floor of the House, they did that, not to give a preference to coal from one source of origin over coal from another source, but merely because they were convinced of the wisdom of implementing what was a purely commercial agreement. That has got nothing to do with, and is quite outside, this question of the tax on coal. The tax on coal was imposed on its merits because we wanted revenue and because it seemed more equitable to us to put it on coal than on some other commodity, and for the reason that the people have an alternative source of fuel-supply. We are anxious to make it cheaper for them to buy turf and to use Irish coal than to use imported fuel.

On this question of who pays the tax on cattle, I do not know whether any of the Deputies were listening to Deputy Haslett when he was talking here on Friday last. To my mind, he made a most illuminating speech. He evidently was of the opinion, which apparently is shared by some people, that the Irish producer is paying the full import duty on cattle into England, and, in order to prove that, he adduced some figures in the Dáil. He said he knew of cattle bought at £10 a head in Monaghan and sold for £16 in Belfast, and he said "There you are; the import duty of £6 per head was paid on those, and that shows you that we, in Monaghan, were paying the whole of that £6 duty." It seems to me that there were a number of other items and other factors which entered into that £16. There was, first, carriage to Belfast, and, as I gather, the cattle were sold by auction in Belfast by salesmen, there were salesmen's fees. There was the middleman's profit on the transaction; there were drovers' fees and insurance. All these elements, and there is none of them inconsiderable, were included in that £16 per head, and yet the margin of difference between the price at which the cattle were bought in Monaghan and the price at which they were sold in Belfast was only the import duty per head upon the animals.

On fat cattle?

It was a bad market in Belfast on that occasion.

It may have been, but I took the Deputy's figures and the case quite clearly proves that the Belfast importer, at any rate, was paying carriage, salesmen's fees and drovers' fees, and was taking his profit on the transaction as well. Therefore, the British consumer, or, in this case, the Northern Ireland consumer, was bearing a very substantial portion of the import duty. I do not want to press that too far——

I would not.

——but it is quite clear, from what we have been told here, that while our producers are bearing some part of the tariff, they are not bearing it all, because when the Opposition are criticising the protective tariffs——

Might I ask the Minister——

I think I ought to be allowed to speak.

Did Deputy Haslett say that £6 tax was paid on those cattle? They were cattle with two teeth, I think.

I am stating what I heard Deputy Haslett say, so far as I can recollect. I took a note of what he said at the time. I am not an expert; I am merely dealing with a statement which, I think, was made in the Dáil, and I remember it particularly because I took a note of it immediately. I thought I saw the factors which ought to enter into the selling price in Belfast and I went over it and I put the results of my examination before the Dáil now.

In any event when the Opposition are criticising the protective tariffs which we imposed, such as those which have kept out the foreign manufactured boots, shoes and wearing apparel, we are told that the consumer must pay the whole of the increased price. That is the argument on the other side. When people outside this country impose an import duty upon the commodities which we ship to them, we are asked to believe that it is the other way round—that the producer must pay the whole of the tariff. I do not want to put it further than this; it is quite obvious that the increased burden is shared between the producer on the one hand and the consumer on the other; by the producer, because he will try to cut down his selling price as low as possible in order to get over the tariff; and by the consumer because there is a certain margin below which the producer will not cut his price— the margin below which it does not any longer pay him to produce—and, therefore, the consumer has to make up the difference if he wants to get the article. The position in regard to our cattle is that our customers want to get the article. There is no other article half so satisfactory for their purpose as what we are producing here in this country.

I thought they did not want them at all.

And, therefore, they must pay, no matter how Deputies may look at it, some fraction of that import duty upon our cattle.

What about supply and demand?

How is the British Exchequer recompensed?

Just as ours was in the year 1931-32. In the year 1931-32 the producers had to cut their prices a bit in order to give Mr. Cosgrave some part of his £2,500,000. Our consumers here had to increase the amount which they were prepared to pay, in order to make the other part good, just in the same way as the £4,700,000 which is collected on the other side is collected from two sources. I do not know—and I do not think that any person will ever be able to analyse the position sufficiently to discover—how much is collected from the one source——

Would the Minister not admit that they pay, on this side, the tariff minus the bounty?

I am merely dealing with what Deputy Haslett said. I think Deputy Haslett knows as much about the cattle trade as Deputy McGovern. I do not think Deputy McGovern will profess to be any greater authority on that matter than Deputy Haslett.

He is not here.

The best authority is here now.

I saw in the newspapers this morning that Deputy McGilligan was going to be here. It would be a unique event in Parliamentary history if Deputy McGilligan were here to listen to a reply to his speech.

He is going to do James Braddock on you.

I am going to deal, first of all, with one or two misstatements which he made in regard to income tax. They are not misstatements which Deputy McGilligan has made for the first time, nor are they misrepresentations of facts which have gone uncontradicted. Speaking on the Budget Resolution, Deputy McGilligan stated that last year when the income tax rate was 4/6 in the £, the British secured more from income tax than they had secured at the 5/- rate. That statement by Deputy McGilligan is not in accord with the figures officially published in the London Gazette, because the total receipts into the Exchequer for the year 1934-5 were £228,877,000, and for the year 1932-3 they were £228,932,000. The figures for last year, therefore, were slightly lower than those for the year before. On a previous occasion Deputy McGilligan said that they were more, but I think on the last occasion he mended his hand and said they were the same. In a case like this—particularly with a Deputy like Deputy McGilligan, who is fond, by unnuendo and insinuation, of attacking and, if he can, of blackening the character and reputation of his colleagues in the Oireachtas—it is important that the House should know that wherever there are figures by which Deputy McGilligan's statements can be tested, the Deputy is almost invariably found to be wrong. He was wrong in this particular instance; he was wrong, although it had been pointed out to him on a previous occasion that a statement which he was making in the House was inaccurate and untrue.

Again, he said that in 1927-28, when income tax was only 3/- in the £, the yield was £3,600,000. Once again that statement is a half truth, and it does mislead the House, because the rate of tax for the years 1925-6 and 1926-7 was 4/- in the £, and for the two previous years was 5/- in the £. Of the income tax collected during the year 1927-8, £1,640,000 was in respect of the year 1926-7, and about £30,000 was in respect of 1925-6 and the earlier years. The House must not imagine that Deputy McGilligan made that statement because they were the only figures which were at his command, or because he was not aware of the effect which the higher rates in the years 1925-6 and 1926-7 had on the income tax yield in 1927-8. The Deputy was a member of the Executive Council, and, in fact, I think that on occasions one of his colleagues has asked me when the reports of the Revenue Commissioners were likely to be to hand. He knew, at any rate, from table 77 of the Revenue Commissioners' Report for the year ending 31st March, 1929—it is from those reports that Deputy McGilligan got his figures—that the net produce of income tax from assessments actually made during the year 1927-8 was not £3,600,000 as he represented it to be, but £3,020,000. That was a deliberate misstatement of fact to the extent of £580,000 per annum. Then he goes on and challenges us, asking why it is that income tax at 4/6 in the £ is not bringing in an additional £1,000,000 over and above what it brought in for the year 1927-8, or what it brought in for the year 1931-2. The explanation is quite simple. There has been a decline in investment income, it is quite true, but that does not relate to this country alone; it has been the experience everywhere. The principal reason why the old ratio between yield and rate has been completely overthrown since this Government came into office has not been a decrease in our national income but the fact that there has been a complete rearrangement of the former income tax allowances.

Then the Labour Party point was a good one?

The rearrangement operated in this way, that whereas before the allowance for earned income used to be one-tenth, it is now one-sixth on the first £450 of earned income and one-tenth on the balance, with a maximum relief of £200; but that whereas the allowance for each child used to be, I think, £35 for the first and £29 for the second, it is now £50 for each child. The effect of those adjustments—and there are some others—has been this, that whereas in the year 1931-32, when the nominal rate was 3/6 in the pound a married couple with three children would pay £3 18s. 9d., they would be paying nothing under our rate of 4/6d. So far as married people with earned income and three children in family are concerned, they are now free of tax altogether. In the lower ranges of income, where formerly workmen were paying income tax, they are now free of tax altogether. It is quite true that at the upper end of the income tax scale there has been a considerable increase, but the numbers of people, with families, in receipt of earned income are proportionately greater at the lower end of the scale. There has been this remission of tax to counterbalance some of the other changes that have been made, and it is due to such remissions that the income tax is not bringing in as much.

The higher incomes, I agree, are paying a higher rate than they were when Cumann na nGaedheal were in office. So far as those of the income taxpayers, who are the more highly paid operators in factories and clerical workers, are concerned, they are paying a lower rate if they are married and have families to maintain. So far as a single person with an all-earned income is concerned, he is paying slightly more than he was—if he is single, with no dependent—and I think people will agree that that is fair. It is due to that rearrangement of the allowances and not to a startling decrease in the taxable income of the community that this decrease in our yield is due. Therefore, when I was listening to Deputy Norton talking about the Budget and referring to courage or imagination or even audacity, I felt the same words might with more force be applied to himself. He went on to tell us how we were reducing the income tax of the wealthier classes, and I thought it required both imagination and audacity to make that statement, because it is quite contrary to the fact. So far as the smaller incomes are concerned, and so far as the people with dependents are concerned, we have reduced their income tax liabilities. I cannot see anything in the present Finance Bill that represents a reduced income tax upon the wealthier classes.

In any case it is not a war Budget.

Because there is not a war.

Certainly the Deputy required imagination and audacity to make that statement. And it is a war Budget; it is making a war on poverty and bad housing and everything else.

Can the war be extended to British coal?

If the Deputy only had the patience to listen to me while I was convincing Deputy Davin that it was better to put that tax on British coal than on anything else, I think he would not have put that question.

Convincing me?

I have no doubt the Deputy was convinced.

I was talking about the fact that this Budget was a war Budget. We must raise this revenue if we are going to carry through our housing programme, to maintain our existing social services and provide the increased one which will come into operation this year in the form of widows' and orphans' pensions. We can get rid of all that if Deputies say they will not suffer this burden to be imposed on the community, and that they would prefer we would revert to the old conditions which existed here prior to the Fianna Fáil Government taking office. Then I have no doubt our successors would reduce taxation considerably by reducing expenditure upon the services to which I have referred. Let us see, with the limited figures we have available, what the result of the Fianna Fáil policy has been so far as the general mass of the people are concerned. I have only figures for 1933, but here is what the vital statistics for that year show. In that year there was the lowest general death-rate ever recorded, and that can only be due to an improvement in the conditions of living of the people.

Or perhaps the weather?

In that year there was the lowest infantile mortality ever recorded, and its fall was most marked in the urban areas. The death-rate in that year from tuberculosis was the lowest ever recorded. All these three things were due to better feeding, better housing and a higher general standard of living. For the first time since 1847, I think, there was the highest recorded increase in population per 1,000—that was in 1933. That is an epitome of the advantages which the Fianna Fáil policy has conferred upon the general mass of the people of this country. It is on those facts that we are prepared to stand or fall. If we wish to go back to the days of a decreasing population, of an increasing infantile mortality, an increasing death-rate, a decreasing marriage-rate — I forgot to mention that the marriage-rate in that year was the highest recorded—if we want to go back to those things we can do without the tax on coal and sugar, and throw open our ports, close down our factories and put our workers on the streets. We can do all that if we want to do without the taxes that are necessary in order to carry through the Fianna Fáil constructive programme.

Does the Minister really believe that?

Yes, and I am perfectly certain that the Deputy believes it too.

Now the Minister is displaying audacity.

Is it the Deputy's idea that the Minister must always say something he does not believe?

There is no suggestion like that.

Does the Deputy think that I would get up here or that any member of the Fianna Fáil Party would support this Budget if we did not believe what I have just stated? On last Friday I was hoping that before I would have to sit down Deputy McGilligan would come in. I think I wearied the House possibly waiting for him to arrive.

Might I interrupt for a moment? As the Minister seems anxious that Deputy McGilligan would come in, I think he may be here in a few moments. If he wishes to deal with another matter before the Deputy comes in, I would like to mention that there was a question I put to him of very great importance, and that is, why he invites us to regard the bounties as being temporary, a sort of transitional thing?

I might say why not and I think it would be almost a sufficient answer to that question. There are a number of reasons for my view, however. In the first place, we are finding new outlets for our agricultural produce, or rather I should say for our exportable agricultural surplus. Although these outlets are undoubtedly small, nevertheless they are a beginning. I am perfectly certain that these new markets which are now being found will continue to expand and develop, and, therefore, there will not be the same need to maintain the bounties at their existing level. Secondly, because our agricultural economy is becoming less dependent upon the export market, and, therefore, import duties are becoming less effective as a coercive instrument and will in time come to be discarded; and in the third place, because our cattle are the raw material of the cattle feeding industry of Great Britain. They are not going to tax that raw material, particularly in view of the fact that our agricultural economy is becoming less dependent on them and because of the fact that we are finding other outlets. Limited and small as these are at present, they are tending to develop. Therefore, what we will need to send to the British market is becoming less and will become more rapidly less and less. I am satisfied that as long as the British are concerned to maintain their cattle feeding industry the tendency will be to discard these tariffs.

Then the Minister utterly discards the view that the British market is gone for ever?

I never said it was. When the British market was the sole customer for what Deputy Flinn has so often described as our perishable export surplus it was a different question. That day is going. The British market in that form is going. It is going to be replaced by a better market, a market in which we shall be a free seller, a market in which the purchaser will no longer have a monopoly of purchase. Therefore, for that reason it is a market that is becoming, from our point of view, a more valuable market.

Every Minister has a different point of view about that market.

I hope the future will justify my view. If it does and I am confident it will, to that extent it will be a justification for continuing the export bounties and subsidies to our cattle industry in order to maintain our position in that market.

Who is getting the bounties?

Well, surely——

Anything at all to keep the Minister going.

Ask Deputy Keating and Deputy Bennett to decide that. Discuss it with them. There is a difference of opinion between two sections of the Opposition as to who is getting the benefit. We are certain that the farmer is getting a share of it.

What is your opinion?

I might be allowed to continue. Speaking on this debate on Friday last Deputy McGilligan said:

"I have one example of a concession that was given to certain people in the country who have no industrial history in the matter, and what did they do? They jumped across to London and sold it."

I pointed out that that statement could not be answered by me in the debate and that it should be reserved for the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Deputy McGilligan, in trying to persuade the Chair to allow him to continue, said:

"This is a licence signed by the Minister and it included this point— that sub-leasings could not be granted without the Minister's approval."

I then protested and said that the Deputy must be aware that the Minister who is primarily responsible is the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Deputy McGilligan denied that. Once again, in order to mislead the Chair, he said: "This matter comes under the State Lands Act and the Minister for Finance is the operating authority there. He is primarily responsible." I want to emphasise that point about the State Lands Act. The Deputy, in order that he might be enabled to drag this matter into the debate, to which it was not in any way relevant, said: "This matter comes under the State Lands Act." In saying that, the Deputy was stating what was untrue and he knew it was untrue.

Is it in order for the Minister to say that the Deputy knew it was untrue?

No. The Minister cannot ascribe to a Deputy that he was stating what to his knowledge was untrue. The Minister will have to unsay that.

If it is in any way unparliamentary to use the word "untrue"——

I will allow the Minister to say it was untrue, but the Minister says that Deputy McGilligan when stating it knew that it was untrue.

Ah! withdraw and obey the Chair.

I am going to withdraw to satisfy the Chair. I am not concerned with what Deputy McGuire may think of the matter. But I want to say this: that Deputy McGilligan who, as Minister for Industry and Commerce was responsible for introducing into this House and passing into law the State Lands Act, should know——

I cannot allow the Minister to go back to the history of that Act. I want him to withdraw the charge that Deputy McGilligan made a statement in this house that he knew was untrue.

The substance is more important in this matter than the form, and, accordingly, I withdraw it. But I will say that it is very extraordinary that Deputy McGilligan, who as Minister for Industry and Commerce was responsible for passing through this House the Mines and Minerals Act of 1931 under which this concession was granted, should have suffered so serious a lapse of memory as to mislead the Chair by making the statement that the matter to which he referred came under the State Lands Act. Mr. McGilligan is a very——

Deputy McGilligan.

Deputy McGilligan is a very intelligent gentleman and has a very acute and retentive memory. I therefore find it hard to believe, notwithstanding the withdrawal which the Rules of the House compel me to make, that what he stated was not untrue to his knowledge. Deputy McGilligan then pointed out and went on to say: "This matter comes under the State Lands Act, and the Minister for Finance is the operating authority there. He is primarily responsible." And I said "No," and then Deputy McGilligan said: "The Minister for Finance is the man who controls the letting of mines and minerals under the State Land Act...." I then said that it was true that I had certain functions under the State Lands Act.

In connection with these functions certain transactions took place. The Vice-Chairman of the Seanad, an honourable and upright man, was concerned in this matter and came before me. I was asked to grant a lease of certain State lands. I refused to grant the lease, Sir, not because I did not think there were many other ways in which that land could be used, but because it would not be beneficial to the State to grant the lease. The lands referred to were lands which had been let from year to year for tillage purposes to small farmers, and we did not think it advisable at that stage to grant the lease to any one person for a long term. This matter came before me personally, and I directed the Department to refuse to sanction a lease to Senator Comyn, for the reason that we required the land to be used in another way. That would have been a perfectly justifiable transaction, but that is the only case in which Senator Comyn has been concerned in an application for a lease under the State Lands Act. There was another case in which Deputy Briscoe was concerned in the letting of some old barracks down at Naas. The matter was never completed and the negotiations fell through.

But the Deputy who was making the allegation about the attitude of the present Minister for Finance in regard to colleagues of his Party could easily, if he turned round to a Deputy sitting beside him, have asked him if he ever had a lease of lands or property granted to him by the then Minister for Finance. There is a Senator sitting in the Seanad who always supported the policy of our predecessors and he similarly had such a lease. I am not suggesting or insinuating, and it would be far from me to do so, either in regard to one or the other, that my predecessor did anything dishonest or questionable in the granting of either of these leases. If there had been anything questionable or anything dishonest about them I would have tried to get them upset. I am merely pointing out that this is not the first time that members of the Oireachtas got facilities available to all people that are prepared to make use of State lands or properties which are not being utilised by the State and if they are prepared to make the best use of them. I have been pointing out that Deputy McGilligan, in order to drag this matter into the debate, said that what he referred to came under the State Lands Act. It did not. The mining concession, and the prospecting lease, granted to a certain Senator and Deputy in this House came under the Mines and Minerals Act, 1931, for which Deputy McGilligan was responsible as Minister, and which he helped to draft, and piloted through the Dáil and with every detail of which he must be familiar.

It was alleged that I was the person to control the letting of mines and minerals under this particular Act. The fact is that responsibility for the administration of the Mines and Minerals Act of 1931 is vested in the Minister for Industry and Commerce. In Section 11, sub-section (1), it is provided that the power of granting a lease of State mines and minerals or exclusive State mining rights is exercised at the sole discretion of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I am perfectly satisfied that if Deputy McGilligan decides to ventilate this question to the House that the Minister for Industry and Commerce will justify the matter to the fullest extent. I am concerned only to this extent: that Deputy McGilligan, whom I find it impossible to believe was not fully aware of all the facts, made a statement knowing it to be misleading and, thereby dragged the matter into discussion on the Finance Bill, an abuse of the rules of procedure and debate. I do not enter into this until you come to sub-section (3), in which it is stated—

Every lease made under this section shall (unless the Minister and the Minister for Finance are jointly of opinion that such lease should in the public interest be made free of any payment) be made subject to the payments to the Minister of such moneys whether by way of fine or other preliminary payment or by way of rent (including a royalty rent variable according to the price or value of the minerals gotten) or by both such ways as the Minister and the Minister for Finance shall jointly think proper and shall agree upon

I enter into it for the purpose of seeing that the amount to be charged is in all the circumstances fair and just to the State, and to the person taking the lease. In making that determination I am bound by Section 11, sub-section (5), which says—

In exercising the respective powers conferred on them by this section, and in particular in determining the terms of any demise or the payment to be made thereunder, the Minister and the Minister for Finance may take into consideration the general advantages that are likely to accrue to the State from the development of the mines and minerals to which the demise relates.

Now, what is the position in regard to this mining concession in Wicklow? The matter had been mooted on a number of occasions before by other people. It was then found that owing to a deficiency in our law there was no power to enable these leases to be made. When the Act to remedy that was passed in 1931 a register of all persons who had at any time indicated that they were prepared to undertake this work of prospecting, with a view to developing our mineral resources, was made, strictly in the order of priority of receipt of their communications relating to this matter. These lists were subsequently transferred to the Department of Industry and Commerce. When an application for a lease is made, as soon as it comes into that Department, these lists are consulted and if there are prior applicants for a licence for this or some other area, communications are addressed to them to ascertain if they desire to renew their application. I have been informed by the Department of Industry and Commerce that before any leases were granted prior applicants were consulted, in the manner I have indicated.

The question came along about this lease. I do not think I would be over-sceptical if I said that whatever may be the position now, in 1933, at any rate, I would have thought it a very wild cat scheme. The matter never came before me at all. It was dealt with departmentally. The Department was satisfied in the circumstances that this lease and this dead rent of £10 with the royalty of 4 per cent. which it was proposed to charge per annum, was sufficient having regard to the speculative nature of the venture. As I said, other people who manifested any interest in the area had already been consulted. It is our intention to have whatever mineral resources we have in this country investigated, and, if they are capable of being developed to have them developed. My Department passed this, having regard to the terms of subsections (1) and (5) of Section 11; they passed it as they were bound to pass it. It did not appear to me having regard to the terms of the lease and the history of adventures of that sort, that I could hold out for any more——

Has the Minister any objection to saying who were the lessees in this matter?

Not the least. They were three people, Senator Comyn, Deputy Robert Briscoe and Mr. H. C. Norman. It will be noticed that Deputy McGilligan claimed to be very well informed about this matter. At any rate, he knew quite a lot of which I was not aware. Yet he asked why did three Deputies of the Fianna Fáil Party and the Vice-Chairman of the Seanad get that concession. Three Deputies! There was one Deputy and one Senator and one other person whom I did and do not know—his name means no more to me than that of any other citizen.

I am making no imputation as regards this particular lease, but out of curiosity as to the procedure of the Department I ask would such a lease be given to anybody who might come along or would not the Department inquire into the solidity of the person. They would not give a lease to anybody I presume, who had a mind to try his luck?

That I am afraid is a question that the Deputy will have to address to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. The point I want to make is that I have no administrative function in this matter at all. Under the Act which Deputy McGilligan drafted when he was Minister for Industry and Commerce, every administrative function is reserved to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and Deputy McGilligan knew that. Notwithstanding the knowledge that he must have had at that time, he misinformed the Chair as to the true position in order that he might drag this matter into the debate and in order that he might, as far as he could, by innuendo, charge myself, my colleague and the members of our Party with something dishonourable and dishonest.

This is rather in the nature of a post-mortem as the thing is now done, but, on a point of order, the Minister for Finance has said that it lay with him to approve, or disapprove of the proposed lease. That being so, I submit that, on the face of it, there was a fair case and that it was in order to raise this subject in connection with the Finance Bill.

That is hardly a point of order. The Chair must be guided by the Minister on the question of Ministerial responsibility.

I have no final responsibility. It says that we must agree but, obviously, when the Oireachtas places the complete administration of an Act in the hands of one Minister and makes merely the terms of the lease, subject to the agreement of the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Finance cannot take up the attitude of refusing his sanction unless there is a prima facie case against sanction being given and there was not in this document. Unless it is quite clear on the face of the document that there is good reason why my agreement should be withheld, I am bound to agree with the Minister for Industry and Commerce in a matter like this, otherwise I should become an obstructive factor and not one, as it is my duty to be, who is anxious that the Government's general policy should be carried out.

You were a party to it.

If the Deputy is not capable of appreciating what I am at, I unfortunately will not be able to bring the exact aspect of the matter home to him.

It is obvious you are.

I have explained what are the duties of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, with the proviso that I must agree, that I could not withhold agreement unless I were satisfied that the Minister was abusing his powers and I did not and do not think that. I do not think any Deputy in this House, or anybody outside it, would be able to bring a charge of that sort against the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

Not at all.

I am glad the Deputy admits that.

You sanctioned it.

I did not sanction it. Once again, may I point out that. Deputy McGilligan used the State Lands Act as a justification for dragging this matter into the debate. This matter did not arise under the State Lands Act at all and Deputy McGilligan knew that as well as I did, at least I think he must have known it. I am not going to waste very much more time on Deputy McGilligan further than to say this, that a number of people have listened to him in this House from time to time, making a speech of exactly the same tenor and the same purport as he made on Friday. I was speaking to a person who had been in the Public Gallery during one of those statements made by Deputy McGilligan. He came away, came down and met me and asked me: "Do you know what McGilligan reminds me of?" and I said "No." He replied: "A woman with a serpent's tongue."

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 55; Níl, 33.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Breen, Daniel.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Everett, James.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Geoghegan, James.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Cleary, Mícheál.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • Davin, William.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • Norton, William.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C.


  • Alton, Ernest Henry.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Bourke, Séamus.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Finlay, John.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • MacDermot, Frank.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McGuire, James Ivan.
  • Minch, Sydney B.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Rowlette, Robert James.
  • Thrift, William Edward.
  • Wall, Nicholas.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith; Níl: Deputies P.S. Doyle and Bennett.
Motion declared carried.
Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, 25th June, 1935.

As a large number of amendments may be tabled to this Bill, I suppose we can have up to Saturday, at any rate, for handing them in?

I agree to that.