Committee on Finance. - Vote on Account, 1952-53—Motion by Minister for Finance—(Resumed).

I do not intend to hold the House very long in this connection. There is one matter on which I intend to speak and that is the statements made by members of the Government that the inter-Party Government had bankrupted the State, and as to what they had done with Marshall Aid, etc. I wish to deal first with the statement made in this House last night by Deputy Dr. Browne when speaking on the Vote on Account. According to a report of his speech in to-day's Irish Independent, Deputy Dr. Browne stated:—

"Unless the farmers were prepared to do their duty, it would be the responsibility of the Government to take control of the land and reallocate it to people who would."

I feel that that is the most dangerous statement I have heard here since I had the honour of being elected as a member of this House in 1943. Let us ask ourselves this question: Is the Deputy who made such a statement a responsible person? Does he realise what it means, or does he realise its implications? I wonder is that the view of any other Deputy in this House? I wonder is it the view of the Minister? I do not believe it is, nor do I believe it to be the view of any responsible Deputy. I am inclined to believe that if Deputy Dr. Browne realised what that statement meant he would not have expressed it in this House. I want to assure him and every other Deputy or Minister or Government that the day they attempt anything like that it will spell their downfall in this country.

I want to warn him and every other member of this House who may think along the lines expressed by him that the tenant farmers in this country own their own piece of land. Their ownership is sealed by the blood, the sweat and the tears of their ancestors. Their ancestors fought for the land and, indeed, some of them died while resisting landlordism in this country. They fought and beat down the battering ram and the crowbar brigade and they resisted the army of occupation plus the R.I.C. I throw out the warning to any other Deputy who may have the same views on this matter as Deputy Dr. Browne as reported in to-day's Irish Independent, and I say to them that if they bring back to this country the R.I.C. or their descendants and attempt anything like that advocated by Deputy Dr. Browne their downfall will be brought about. I will leave the matter at that.

At the present time the Ministers are making speeches throughout the country at cross-purposes with each other, so to speak, but they are creating panic. Some of them are saying to the people: "This country is bankrupt. All the money is gone down the drain. The inter-Party Government swallowed up the Marshall Aid money. They swallowed up the American dollars and left this country bankrupt." I suppose attack is the best method of defence. I would like to put some matters before the Minister for Finance. As far as Marshall Aid is concerned, if any one member of this House deserves credit it is Deputy MacBride. He should be commended for the work he did when he held the office of Minister for External Affairs in connection with getting Marshall Aid for this country. It was well worth getting that money, and I will point out some of the benefits that were derived from it. We had in this country a fund into which was placed sterling to the value of the Marshall Aid dollars we used. We could not buy goods outside the sterling area except with dollars. These dollars were taken from the Marshall Aid fund but their full value in sterling was put back into the special fund I have mentioned.

I would like to bring to the notice of the Fianna Fáil Party the machinery which was purchased with the Marshall Aid money. According to a reply given to me by Deputy Beegan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, £800,000 worth of machinery was purchased between February, 1948, and June, 1951. That machinery was used during my period of office for the purpose of the Brosna arterial drainage scheme, the Glyde and Dee arterial drainage scheme and the Feale arterial drainage scheme. Therefore, three arterial drainage schemes were put into operation during the three years in which the inter-Party Government held office, and this machinery was purchased in America through Marshall Aid funds. I wonder do the Fianna Fáil Deputies who represent Laois and Offaly object to the Brosna drainage scheme? I wonder do the present Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for Local Government object to the scheme in Cavan and Monaghan? I wonder do the Fianna Fáil Deputies object to the arterial drainage scheme in Laois and Offaly? I wonder do Deputy Mrs. Crowley and Deputy John Flynn object to the scheme for the drainage of the River Feale? Has Deputy Killilea any objection to the provision of machinery for the opening of the Corrib drainage scheme in Galway? Does Deputy Moran object to the carrying out of that scheme or to the buying of machinery for that scheme through the dollar pool for work in County Mayo or at least in that portion of County Mayo touching on the Corrib? Nevertheless, it is these very people who are going around the country saying: "Oh! The money was badly spent. It was wasted. It went down the drain." Quite a lot of it went down to make drains and to make the rivers which were badly needed, and it has given back to our people thousands of acres of land which for years had been neglected by native and foreign Governments. A number of statements were made here by two-mouthed individuals who blow hot and blow cold when it suits them to do so. They say one thing with one side of their mouth and when it suits them they say something else with the other side. Some say: "There was no stockpiling."

Yesterday Deputy de Valera made clear the fact that goods were brought into this country and were left here for the benefit of the present Government. Over two and a half years' supply of tobacco was bought through the dollar pool and was a great source of revenue to the present Government and, according to what I hear, it is going to prove to be an even greater source of revenue. Still they say there was no stockpiling with one side of their mouth and with the other side they say that there was considerable stockpiling. We are told that there are 20,000 extra unemployed in this country as a result of the goods which the inter-Party Government imported. I wonder what are we to believe? Was there stockpiling or was there not? The Minister will, I hope, tell us that when he replies.

When I first went to the Office of Public Works I found that we would have to wait six months before we could purchase one machine from the sterling area. When that six months had expired the firm from which we proposed to purchase the machine would tell us we would have to wait for a further six months. The result was there was only one country from which we could get the machinery and that was America. We got the machinery and it was paid for from Marshall Aid. However, every dollar we paid out in Marshall Aid was replaced in sterling in the fund provided. The American representatives were told that we could not pay them back in dollars but that we could pay them back in sterling. As Deputy Dillon pointed out yesterday, they were satisfied with that. It was their funeral and they accepted it.

The debates which have taken place in this House during the past six months, and among them this debate, have focussed attention, possibly more so than ever before, on aspects of our national economy which were never considered to come within the ken of the ordinary citizens—matters such as the balance of payments, excess of imports over exports and other such matters. These were considered to be the peculiar problems of economists and of higher politicians. If for no other reason than the fact that public attention has been brought to bear on these subjects, the debates here have served a very useful purpose. The manner in which they have been discussed has varied from a placid atmosphere to a more volatile atmosphere. Deputy Dillon's exhibition yesterday was an example of the volatile type. On the last occasion on which he spoke, when he moved the adjournment of the debate last week, Deputy Dillon sought to discredit not only the American statisticians connected with O.E.E.C. but also our own statisticians in his attempt to justify his three and a half years in charge of the Department of Agriculture. His exhibition yesterday, an exhibition of ranting and raving, brought to my mind a few words from a poem by the Scottish national poet, Bobbie Burns:

"O wad some power the giftie gie us, To see ourselves as others see us."

If that power had been given to Deputy Dillon yesterday, I am sure his next performance in the House would be of a far more placid and possibly of a more reasoned nature.

All we want now is a quotation from Shakespeare.

Mr. Lynch

I will admit that I thought of that quotation before I got up and thought I might as well use it.

It will fill in a few lines.

Mr. Lynch

I could quote Shakespeare and give a few nursery rhymes, such as "Little Jack Horner," which can very readily be applied to many of the occupants of the opposite front bench, because for the past six or eight months we have listened to nothing from each and every one of them, in giving an account of his stewardship of the Department or section over which he had control, but "What a good boy am I." I give Deputy Donnellan no credit for bringing in the necessary machinery for the carrying out of the arterial drainage programme for which plans had been made by the Fianna Fáil Government under the Arterial Drainage Act, nor do I give him any credit for bringing it in as soon as he could get it when he discovered it was not available in England for sterling but was available in America. It was his duty to do so. He had the machinery in the legislative sense of the word ready for him. Most of the plans were made and all he had to do was to accompany his Taoiseach to the Brosna site, blow a whistle and off started the works.

I do not think that he himself would deny that he was not the architect of that scheme, other than having brought over whatever machinery was required with the dollars made available through Marshall Aid—a fund, incidentally, which Deputy Mulcahy in 1947 described as nothing better than outdoor relief. I remember reading a statement of the Deputy's to that effect in a provincial paper.

That is very interesting.

Mr. Lynch

If the Deputy wishes to dispute the fact I am sure I could lay my hands again on it. It is available in the National Library. To come back to this debate, it has, like most of the debates over the past few months, revolved largely around national economy, and it is just as well that the attention of the country should be focussed on it in order that the ordinary people can get a true picture of how their national household account is kept. It is very important that the full implication of what balance of imports over exports means for the average citizen in his everyday life should be realised, and it is necessary that he should get a full and comprehensive picture of how agricultural production is moving, whether increasing or decreasing, and the same applies to industrial production. I am not going to attempt to set myself up as an agricultural expert.

You are as well qualified as the rest.

Mr. Lynch

I never presumed to say I was qualified, but I am satisfied to take my guidance from the figures published by our Central Statistics Office. To become a statistician means undergoing a very severe and prolonged course in mathematics, and even then it is only the top flight of mathematicians who take up careers as statisticians, and until such time as better qualified men can be employed by the State I am prepared to accept the figures the director or whoever works under his control will supply to us. Accepting that, there can be no doubt, to my mind, that there has been a decline in agricultural output.

Deputy Dillon made an attempt to prove that the overall output from a particular acreage in 1951 increased as compared with the output in 1945 or 1947, but the important thing to remember is that there was a decline in the acreage of almost every cereal and almost every root crop we produce. Similarly, there was a decline in the number of milch cows, in-calf heifers, pigs and poultry. I do not wish to go through a long litany of them, but, even accepting Deputy Dillon's claim that the gross output of agriculture did increase, he cannot deny that, had the same acreage been kept up, that output would have increased considerably, and if our agricultural economy had been directed along proper lines, I believe that we would not be facing at present the very severe adverse balance of payments we are facing. So much for the figures published by our Statistics Office.

I read recently some figures published by the Statistics Office of O.E.E.C., comparing agricultural recovery amongst European nations between the years 1946-47 and 1949-50. In 1946-47, and comparing that period with the period 1934-38, this country was placed fourth highest among selected European nations in the matter of agricultural recovery. In the year 1949-50 the place we occupied in the same group of countries fell to 11th which, I think, should also indicate that whatever progress we have made could have been stepped up considerably with proper guidance and encouragement to the farmers.

With regard to the over-all picture of imports and exports it has been reliably estimated, again by our own statisticians, that by the end of 1951 imports amounted in all to £204,000,000 while our visible exports reached the figure of £81,000,000, a figure which Deputy Dillon claimed in the House yesterday was the highest export figure ever attained in this country. Again I would remind Deputy Dillon that, although statisticians' figures are generally speaking a good guide, when it comes to putting money value on exports surely he must realise that the value of the £ has so much decreased that £81,000,000 does not represent the value our exports should have had, even though, as he claimed, the figure was higher than in previous years. Taking the figure £204,000,000 for imports and £81,000,000 for visible exports we are left with a gross deficit of £123,000,000 and, allowing for our invisible exports, it has been reliably estimated that there is a net deficit between imports and exports of £66,000,000. That, I think, is something very salutary for even the average man to think about in getting the over-all picture of our national economy.

Taking a general look at Government expenditure, we find that the Supply Services in 1947-48 amounted to £58,000,000 while in 1951-52 it is estimated that they will have reached over £83,000,000. Our capital liabilities in 1947-48 were £100,000,000 and the same liabilities in 1951-52, after three and a half years of the inter-Party Government, amounted to £192,000,000, increasing the amount for the service of the debt from £3,250,000 to £7,000,000.

These are figures of a general nature and it was on discovering these figures for themselves that the Fianna Fáil Government, on assuming power, thought the time ripe to make the people of the country properly aware of the true position. Statements made by some Ministers, the Ministers for Finance and Industry and Commerce, have been dubbed forebodings of doom and statements of gloom. Nevertheless I think that it was their duty and the Government's duty to give an honest picture of the national household accounts as they found them and to call the people from the complacency in which they had been left to a full realisation not only of their position but of their obligations if they wished to maintain their standard of living and, if possible, to improve it.

One of the first acts of the Minister for Industry and Commerce on assuming office and realising that there was a danger of this country becoming a dumping ground for foreign goods, goods of a nature and description that we were able to make well for ourselves but at a price with which we could not hope to compete, was, as far as he was permitted by existing international trade regulations, to fix quotas as well as tariffs to the highest possible level. Many people do not agree with the imposition of quotas and tariffs but nevertheless, so long as we have reliable manufacturers able to produce goods of sufficient quality to compete with imported goods even if they cost our own people a little extra, I think that from the point of view of the national economy it is wise and good government. Without any dilly-dallying the Minister was very quick to realise the position. Knowing that there was a general recession not only in this country but in Europe and America and realising what the consequences would be he was quick to apply the only remedy at his disposal at the time. That itself helped to keep down the unemployment figures to which so much reference has been made in the course of this debate. I hope to return to that again later.

Realising also the necessity for industrial expansion in the country the Minister, under the aegis of his Department, caused the Undeveloped Areas Act to be passed. I am just referring to some of the remedial measures the present Government undertook in order to offset the existing trend of relying too much on imported goods and allowing the national accounts to drift. In order to bring about an industrial revival and to divert industry as far as he could to the West of Ireland the Minister had the Undeveloped Areas Bill passed which gave manufacturers, whether native western manufacturers or manufacturers from Dublin or Cork, the opportunity, if they desired to expand, to do so with the blessing and financial assistance of the Government in areas where industrial expansion and employment are most desirable, and where it is hoped the Act will be fully availed of in order to give that much needed employment.

Another undesirable trend quickly arrested was the dependence for our electrical expansion on imported fuel. When the Minister for Industry and Commerce assumed office he found plans well advanced for two new electricity generating stations powered on coal and oil. That was a trend which he felt should be quickly stopped. He felt that we should return to the trend which he had established: dependence for fuel on our own resources which were cheaper and which we could use certainly with more advantage to ourselves. The Electricity Supply Board were quickly communicated with and told to reorganise their development programme so as to include the generation of electricity from turf and water power which we have in abundance. An outstanding example of what that direction achieved was the initiation of the huge scheme in Bangor Erris which, it is hoped, will provide for our pool of electricity 80,000,000 units per year from 1956 onwards. As well as that, the Claddy River in Donegal, which has been a bone of contention in that district for a long time, was ordered to be put back on the Electricity Supply Board development programme.

The Tourist Traffic Bill is at present before the House. I think this Bill was in the course of preparation during the previous Government's term of office. Approaching these problems as a good Government should, without jettisoning any of the projects initiated by our predecessors, even though the initiation of the Tourist Traffic Bill was not to any great degree the work of the inter-Party Government, we, nevertheless, accepted the work on that Bill. We now have before the House at the present time a means of increasing our national income through tourism from the present estimated £26,000,000 to £30,000,000 per annum to at least 50 per cent., or possibly more, in excess of that figure.

On the agricultural side, the Government, almost immediately on assuming office, gave assistance to the dairy farmer who was in the habit of bringing his milk to the creamery. There was given to the dairy farmer bringing his milk to the creameries 1d. per gallon extra. It probably ill-becomes me, as a city Deputy, to laud that as an achievement but, for my part, I prefer to have some butter even at 2d. per lb. extra, which followed on the increase of 1d. per gallon for milk, than no butter at all, which is what would have happened eventually had the farmers been denied an increase of 1d. per gallon which they claim was their due and which, apparently, was accepted as such.

Increased credit facilities were made available for farmers and in that connection the Minister, only a fortnight ago, gave, in reply to a question, the particulars of what these were. One was the provision of credit by the Irish Flour Millers' Association for their agents to supply farmers with fertilisers and seed wheat. The second was a new scheme for loans for the purchase of agricultural implements costing from £40 to £750 each and the third was a new scheme of loans of from £25 to £300 for the purchase of sheep and cattle.

These, too, were designed to assist the farmers to increase agricultural production. It represented practical assistance from the Government. As well as that, they have been exhorted to greater production by the Taoiseach and other Ministers.

Reference was made, during the course of the debate, to the achievements of the inter-Party Government in the capital outlay field, particularly in regard to housing. I do not think it can be laid at the door of any Fianna Fáil Government that their approach to the housing problem was in any way weak-hearted. I think it has long been settled in the House that there is no real conflict with regard to the necessity of securing for our people adequate housing facilities. The inter-Party Government during their period of office frequently said—and to their credit carried out what they said—that the lack of money was no deterrent to the provision of houses for the people. The same applies at the present time even though, at first glance, the Estimates for the current year appear to show a reduction in the amount to be found for housing.

I think the Minister for Finance has already explained that that arises out of the ending up of the Transition Development Fund and out of the voting of moneys last year for the payment to local authorities of commitments which had been incurred as at November, 1950. A new method of financing local authority housing schemes has now been evolved and the net result will be that there will certainly be no easing in the provision of finances for housing to any degree.

There is at the present time some unemployment particularly in Dublin and possibly, to a lesser extent, in Cork City among housing operatives skilled and unskilled. That is largely due to the fact that the local authorities concerned have not their plans sufficiently well laid in advance. In Dublin, I gather the state of affairs is that a local authority has not got sanction from the Department in respect of the layout of the plans but I do not think that the fault should be laid at the door of the Minister or his Department. There are plenty of facilities, plenty of operatives and technical assistance available to all local authorities to have their plans well ordered in advance with the result that the lack of planning is no excuse for a local authority not to employ skilled and unskilled labour at the maximum rate on local authority houses.

I might refer to the social side because unless people are reasonably comfortable they will not be in a position to put into the effort to balance the national economy the work that is necessary. On the social side, apart from housing, we have now, after something like eight months, the Social Welfare Bill providing for a comprehensive scheme. I do not want to go into the merits or demerits of this scheme but at least within a much shorter period than the predecessor of the Minister for Social Welfare took to bring such a Bill before the House we now have it for discussion and, we hope, for implementation before another term of the Dáil will have passed.

As well as that, there is the enlightened approach to another contentious subject or rather a subject which had been contentious—that is the Legal Adoption Bill. A Legal Adoption Bill is promised and possibly will appear on the Order Paper of the Dáil in a matter of weeks. That Bill, too, will have its contribution to make in restoring the national, economic balance. Up to this, many of our young unwanted children have had to be exported because no facilities were given to Irish men and women to adopt children with any degree of certainty that they would be allowed to keep them up to the age of 21. Records have been produced to show that hundreds of our young people, who would have been adopted by our Irish people if there had been a Legal Adoption Bill on the Statute Book, have been sent to America and other places.

In time to come the Adoption Bill will have its effect in adding to our wealth of manpower. It will also make the people, who are aggrieved and affected by the lack of such legislation, feel happy that our Government is providing for a long-felt want.

I might, in passing, refer to the Vital Statistics Bill. Among its other provisions, that Bill provides for a short form of birth certificate. In a sense, that Bill is sub judice but, again, that Bill will help people who often—and I say this with a full sense of responsibility—rather than face the degradation of what their birth certificate might show, emigrate to find work abroad. If that Bill passes, and if it will have its desired effect, those people who now fear to produce their birth certificates will be in a position to use the short form of birth certificate and benefit by it. They will be able to present that short form of birth certificate for any purposes for which a birth certificate would normally be required.

It is true that at present there is a very high volume of unemployment. The weekly register shows a figure somewhere in the region of 70,000 unemployed.

Mr. Lynch

I will accept that. The weekly register is about the most reliable guide we have. Nobody on the opposite side of the House attempted to discredit our Statistics Office to the extent of saying that that figure was not accurate or that it was in some degree misrepresented. The majority of those 74,000 unemployed will appreciate that there is a similar unemployment trend all over the world. We read in to-day's papers that the Ministers of the Six County Government recently went to Westminster and that, in order to absorb some of the unemployed complement of the North, they succeeded in getting a promise from Westminster that some of the re-armament work would be diverted to Belfast. In England itself, particularly in the textile and footwear industries, the unemployment figure has increased to an unprecedented degree.

I have had some experience myself in regard to a reduction in working hours in so far as it affects America. At present, the Gaeltacht Services Office are negotiating, in so far as they can, to dispose of the surplus stocks that were built up over the latter half of 1951. They have been canvassing all over the world for markets. One prospective buyer in America, who was in a similar line of production, recently intimated his intention of coming to this country. However, within a very short period, his own factory in Boston went into half-production. I may say that his factory is one of the biggest textile factories in Boston. Unfortunately for the Gaeltacht Services Office, that man's factory at present works only three days a week. For that reason there was little chance of inviting that gentleman to Ireland in the hope of successfully negotiating for the sale of any reasonable quantity of Gaeltarra Éireann goods.

At this point I might say that there is a certain amount of short time in operation in the Gaeltacht Services. That short time was experienced only recently and the decision was taken only after Christmas. During the latter half of 1951, when most other textile industries were forced to put their workers on half or quarter time or even to dismiss them temporarily, the Gaeltacht Services endeavoured to keep their workers on full production and thus carry out their primary function of providing employment in Gaeltacht areas. Naturally, their stocks were mounting at a time when other industrial concerns either had to come to a full stop or to go on short time. At the end of last year, Gaeltarra Éireann held stocks to the value of something just under £100,000. Having regard to the general world recession in trade, there was little likelihood that, at that rate of production, their stocks could soon be disposed of. That was the reason why the decision had to be taken to put the workers on halftime.

What is the way out of that difficulty?

Mr. Lynch

If the Deputy would like to make a suggestion now, or in the course of his own speech, I should be glad to hear it. It is obvious that there is no point in trying to suggest that we should keep these workers on fulltime merely to keep them continuously employed when, finally, the taxpayer has to pay for it. It is natural that the taxpayer throughout the country should have some sympathy with the people in the West of Ireland by reason of the conditions which prevail there. In so far, however, as there is a Government-subsidised undertaking in the West, the taxpayer expects that the Government, and those in charge of these particular undertakings, will endeavour to ensure that these undertakings will operate economically.

I believe myself that the fact that the 74,000 registered unemployed are content to remain on that register is a good indication that they feel that this world-wide depression is bound to pass. The fact that they are not hastening to board the emigrant ship is a good sign of their faith and their confidence in the country.

Mr. Byrne

They are facing the emigrant ship, every night.

Mr. Lynch

Not to the extent of 45,000 or 50,000, as was the case in at least one year during the term of office of the Coalition Government.

We are not emigrating to Rome any more.

Mr. Lynch

Not to Rome. Nevertheless, I believe that the people of this country have confidence in the future of this country and have confidence in the Government.

Mr. O'Higgins

Dissolve the Dáil and find out if that is so.

Mr. Lynch

The last time the Dáil was dissolved it had disastrous results for the inter-Party Government.

Nobody could expect the five people to do as they did.

The Chair expects some order when the Parliamentary Secretary speaks.

Mr. Lynch

May I add that the Opposition did not expect that Fianna Fáil would increase its representation in the Dáil as a result of the last election—despite the wonderful years of Utopia that we experienced during the inter-Party Government régime? The people showed their confidence in the Fianna Fáil Government by restoring it to power. They are showing at present that they appreciate that there is a world depression and that the Government is taking all possible steps to relieve that depression in so far as it affects this country. The people of this country have confidence in the ability of the Government to restore employment within the country and thus help to restore and maintain our standard of living. The people of this country now realise that they were lulled into a sense of complacency during the term of office of the inter-Party Government. Can anybody assert that output in every direction was as high as it ought to have been? It is small wonder that it was not as high as it ought to have been when the people were told that everything in the garden was rosy.

I am not making any point of the fact that the balance of payments was thrown so dramatically out of gear by whatever stockpiling was considered to be necessary. Apparently that was deliberately done but nobody can deny that it must have had its effect on employment and unemployment in this country. Before that decision was taken, the editors of the four daily newspapers were brought in and asked to treat the fact that stockpiling would have to be undertaken as discreetly as they could in order to prevent inflation. Shortly after assuming power, the inter-Party Government examined the balance of payments position which then obtained. I might remind Deputies opposite what the then Taoiseach had to say about it. As reported in the Dáil Debates of 5th August, 1948, Volume 112, column 2146, he said:—

"When the 1938 agreement was being negotiated, the adverse trade balance between this country and Great Britain was such as not to cause any anxiety or certainly very little anxiety. In the intervening period, the adverse trade balance has gone to an extent which must cause anybody who thinks about it for one moment or who looks at the figures the utmost alarm for our economic and financial stability."

That was the situation, as the then Taoiseach and his Government discovered, and he, I take it, was speaking authoritatively for the Government. We are faced with a somewhat similar position now and, making all due allowance for whatever stockpiling was done in the way of forestry-wiring, tobacco and certain machinery for land drainage, the Government realised that the situation was just as bad as that which threatened when Deputy Costello was Taoiseach. They immediately set out to remind the people of what their duties were. They drew a true picture of what the situation was and prepared to implement by their enactments their advice and assistance to the agricultural and industrial community, showing the way in which economic stability could be restored.

The speech of the Minister for Finance in introducing the Vote on Account makes it quite obvious that the Government have been talking about the present economic position, lamenting the situation which they allege was caused by the profligate economic and financial policy of the inter-Party Government, while at the same time, as the Minister's speech makes it quite obvious, they do not intend to take any effective remedial measures. When the present Government assumed office last July, the Minister for Finance and a number of other Minister were more anxious to criticise the policies that had been operated by the previous Government than to initiate any definite economic policy of their own. A number of speeches were made, beginning with the speech of the Minister for Finance on 18th July in which he alleged that the economic position of the country was serious. He suggested in that speech, either directly or by innuendo, that the deterioration had been caused by the previous Government. He asserted then that it was the intention of the Fianna Fáil Government which had just attained office—not I may remark as a result of the votes of a majority of the electorate but as a result of a somersault of certain Deputies—to take measures to rectify the economic position and said that when these measures were taken they would talk of implementing their own economic policy.

It is no harm for this House to examine what has been achieved in the short space of nine months which has since elapsed, how our economic fortunes have declined and how the economic position of the country has deteriorated in consequence of Fianna Fáil policy, resulting in a substantially higher number of persons unemployed than was the case this time last year or in the preceding year. There are approximately 10,000 more persons unemployed this year than there were on the unemployment register this time last year. The measures which the Government have adopted, the plans which they have on a number of occasions said they were implementing, the policy which has been described as a coherent economic policy which has the backing of a coherent united Government, have succeeded in nine months only in increasing the numbers on the unemployment register to a figure of 10,000 more than was the case this time last year. We have been told that they have a coherent plan for housing, that whatever changes have been adopted in the method of financing are only changes in method and that the same amount of money is still available. It is no harm for Deputies to reflect on the figures given yesterday by the Minister for Local Government in reply to a parliamentary question. These figures show that the rate of housing in progress by local authorities in 1951 had not been maintained in January, 1952, and that there were fewer houses being built by local authorities in January this year than was the case in January of last year. Worst of all is the fact that the biggest decline in house construction has taken place in the City of Dublin. These are two examples of the result of the policy operated by Fianna Fáil.

At the same time, the record which Deputy Lemass, now Tánaiste, stated had been achieved by the inter-Party Government of having the highest cost-of-living figure in the history of any country in Europe has been broken and surpassed by the Fianna Fáil Government in nine months. The fact is that during the greater part of the three-year period of office of the inter-Party Government, the cost of living was kept stable and only towards the close of that period was there any rise. It is no harm for the House to know that the rise which occurred in this country in that period of three years was lower than that of any country in Europe with the exception of two. It was lower than that represented in the cost of living in Britain, where they had a policy of heavy subsidisation of foodstuffs and controls of all kinds and where they had at that time an all-time record for full employment. It is satisfactory to reflect that during the short period of the administration of the inter-Party Government, it was possible to keep the cost of living stable for the most of the period, while at the same time we had the highest number of persons in insurable employment in the history of the country.

When this Vote on Account was introduced the Minister for Finance, interspersing his remarks with a whole variety of accusations and allegations against the inter-Party Government, announced one or two steps which it was proposed to take to remedy the balance of payments problem. I think it right to say that the present Opposition never denied that there was a balance of payments problem. As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government showed by his quotation of a few moments ago, the then Taoiseach adverted on more than one occasion to the disequilibrium in the balance of payments.

It was announced in a number of speeches that it was the Government's policy to correct, as far as possible, that disequilibrium, but that it was inevitable, when the repatriation of assets took place in order to finance a capital development programme, there would be a temporary disequilibrium in the balance of payments. This Government, if the speech the Minister for Finance made last July and if a number of speeches which have been made since are to be accepted as Government policy, had a plan to correct that disequilibrium.

We were led to believe from the announcement made in the British House of Commons by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer that the Minister for Finance would make a statement here outlining what were the steps to be taken. He mentioned two measures during the course of his introductory speech. One was that it was proposed to reduce the foreign travel allowance from £50 per person to £25. Now, in that connection it is reasonable to ask what is the estimated annual saving which will accrue from that reduction, and also why was the decision announced in the way in which it was announced. Shortly after the decision was taken in Britain, the Independent newspaper announced that it was proposed to effect a similar reduction here. There was a speedy denial of that from the Government Information Bureau, but, in the short space of a few weeks, the Minister for Finance announced that we were falling into line with the British decision. It is reasonable to ask why was confusion created by the delay if that decision was going to be taken. Why was it not announced? It is reasonable to inquire what is the estimated annual saving that is expected to accrue?

That is the first remedial measure, but anyone who has any knowledge of the balance of payments problem will recognise that that step will achieve nothing. It is only a gesture and nothing more. It is probably fair that if travellers in Britain, who are more seriously affected by the dislocation in the balance of payments, should be obliged to forego the allowance which was available until recently we who are much better circumstanced, should also forego it. At the same time it is only right to inquire what is the estimated annual saving that will be achieved by that decision.

The other announcement was that it was proposed to achieve a reduction in imports from the dollar area, and a figure was announced for the first six months of this year. But, while the Minister announced that figure, he did not state what imports were going to be restricted, what commodities were going to be affected or the results that a reduction in imports would have on employment or what information was going to be given to importers and exporters so that they might plan ahead on the knowledge that dollars would or would not be available for particular commodities.

The Minister, accompanied by the Tánaiste, recently attended talks in London with British Ministers. When the Ministers returned a vague statement was published. Since then Deputies have sought in vain to secure information on the results of these talks, to try and ascertain what measures the Government propose to take and what measures they intend to adopt other than the cut in the travel allowance and other than the restriction on imports from the dollar area for six months of this year.

It is, I think, proper for the House and for the country to recognise that, while there are comparable circumstances in respect of the balance of payments between the disequilibrium here and the disequilibrium in Britain, they are only valid comparisons in certain respects, and that the situation here is vastly different. In Britain they have fought two world wars. The second world war absorbed their available financial and other resources, and not merely absorbed all their resources but that all the reserves which were available had to be brought into use. Such a condition of affairs did not exist here, so that the crisis speeches and the pessimistic atmosphere created have only caused disturbance and dislocation and a sense of frustration without any effective remedial measures.

We have had—it has been the policy of successive Governments over the years—appeals for greater production, but appeals are useless unless indications are given as to how that increased production may be achieved and, when it is achieved, what markets will be available for the goods produced. The suggestions which have been made, and the appeals which in some cases have been accompanied by veiled indications that if increased production is not forthcoming there will be or there may be a necessity for the introduction of other measures, all tend to create panic and confusion, and fail to provide that enlightened leadership, that enlightened guidance and that directive in Government policy which is essential if the farmers and other sections of the community are to succeed in achieving the production necessary to correct the disequilibrium that has occurred in the balance of payments position.

Now, it is only right to remember that, while the situation last year was bad as far as the balance of payments position is concerned, it was due, in the main, to a Government direction which had the backing of all sections in the Dáil. In fact, it was if anything sustained by vociferous clamouring from the Fianna Fáil Benches at the time that stockpiling would inevitably create disequilibrium because there was a world drive to secure supplies, a drive to rearm which accompanied the outbreak of the Korean War in the middle of 1950. That stimulated the efforts of all countries to acquire goods, and, at the same time, in the main the same type of goods. Taking all that together it resulted, in the closing months of 1950, in large imports. These imports at a high rate continued right through the greater part of 1951.

When this year dawned we heard and read of the various steps which the present Government contemplated taking. We read the speeches which had been made creating panic, confusion and a crisis, the magnitude of which it was impossible to portray in sufficiently gloomy terms. But when these speeches and the measures that we expected would have been put into operation are examined and where it was anticipated that these measures would be taking effect this year, we find that the imports for the first two months show very little diminution. It is it true that in January of this year the excess of imports over exports was down by £1,000,000 on January, 1951, but with the stockpiling which I have mentioned it was only to be expected that there would be a reduction. In relation to last month, February, there was practically no difference between the import excess in February, 1952, and the import excess in February, 1951.

Except in type.

Not even in type.

Mr. O'Higgins

There is more being imported now than there used to be.

The Deputy probably does not remember that in 1947, which was one of the worst years of disequilibrium, the then Government imported £2,000,000 worth of chocolate and jam manufactured in Holland and elsewhere although both of these were commodities that could have been and were manufactured here. Capital goods!

The position is that there has been no real effort made by the Government to correct the balance of payments problem. There has been a series of speeches endeavouring to throw the blame on the previous Government. That was all right in the first few months and it was probably good politics in the first few months because it was reasonable enough then to assert that the situation had been caused by the action, or inaction, of the previous Government. But the Government has now been nine months in office and they have had ample time to employ their own remedies and to implement their own policy.

What has been the result? They have reduced the rate of house-building in progress during the inter-Party Government period of office. They have a higher number of unemployed on the unemployment register, approximately 10,000 more persons unemployed than was the case this time last year. They have achieved an all-time high in the cost of living. It is admitted that some of these increases were outside their control. Nobody expects this Government, any more than any other Government, to avoid the external influences which affect the economy of any country but in the case of some essential commodities, such as butter, milk and eggs the increases that have taken place are the direct consequence of Government action.

Deputies are familiar with the policy adumbrated over the years during the inter-Party Government period of office. The Fianna Fáil Party were opposed in the first place to the dual-price system. They were opposed to the two prices for tea, for sugar, for butter and for white flour. When they came into office it was anticipated that they would put an end to the dual-price system and shortly after coming into office they were queried as to their policy in that respect. The present Tánaiste said in reply that they found the system in operation and that they did not like it but it was there. That was quite a plausible answer in the first few weeks, or first few months, but when the Government introduces the Estimates this year, Estimates prepared by themselves and substantially higher than those presented by their predecessors, although a reduction is shown in respect of some essential capital works, we find they have not abandoned the dual-price system.

Does the present Government now favour that system? If they do not favour it why have they not abandoned it? If they do not favour the dual-price system for tea, for sugar, for butter and for white flour why have they not abandoned it? Since they have not abandoned it why do they not now admit that they are operating it because it is the correct policy? If they intend to abandon it why do they not take that decision and honestly admit that it should be abandoned? Remember, that they described this system as the "grey market" when they were in opposition.

The position is that the Government have taken no effective measures to provide a sound economic policy. Ministers vie with each other in making speeches all over the country. Ministers not merely of the Departments concerned but of other Departments have gone forth explaining the economic position, explaining the crisis which the country is facing, each Minister vying with the other in his gloomy prophecies of disaster round the corner, the decay that is imminent and the stern measures that must be taken to stave off annihilation. We have had one speech after the other emphasising the stringent steps that will be required if the position does not improve.

That type of approach was all right in the first few months but the Government now has the responsibility of implementing their own economic policy and of taking effective measures to deal with the situation. However difficult the situation may be, and nobody pretends for a moment that it is not difficult and nobody pretends that there is not a balance of payments problem, everybody on this side of the House is prepared to support effective and sound economic measures to correct the position. We do, however, object to the Crippsian austerity announcements that have been made by Ministers resulting in panic, dislocation and unemployment and in financial loss at a time when these speeches were not accompanied by effective action.

We have had during the course of this debate, as in other debates, references to the restriction of banking credit. Figures have been quoted to show that bank advances are up this year and at the end of last year as is illustrated by the quarterly returns. It is quite true that the bank advances are up. It is equally true that the banks have notified their customers that they must reduce their overdrafts. The result is that, the banks having advanced credit liberally since the end of the war in 1945 sometimes on what might be considered inadequate security to persons operating building societies, forming themselves into companies of one sort or another and traders in general, these people in recent months have been obliged to liquidate stocks where that was possible, or take whatever other measures were available to them, in order to reduce their overdrafts.

I do not think it is a good thing that there should be criticism of the banking system because it tends to dislocate trade and cause uneasiness. If there has to be criticism now it is only fair to say that the banks have brought it on themselves. They had the aftermath of the first World War as a guide. It will be recollected that at the end of that war and in the years immediately succeeding it there was considerable prosperity. The banks advanced money freely especially to farmers. The advances made in respect of land were considerable. In the early part of the 1920s there was a sudden closing down, a reduction in overdrafts and a calling in of the money that had been advanced. The result was that a great many farmers and business people were put into adverse economic circumstances from which they have never been able to extricate themselves.

It is true that at the end of the last war money was not advanced as liberally in respect of lands, but money was advanced to builders, traders, business men and commercial concerns, advanced, as I said, in some cases to an excessive extent in the light of experience that had been gained after the first world war. That was all right until the banks notified their customers that they expected them to reduce their overdrafts. The result has been that a number of persons have been put into financial difficulties, a number of productive works which were in the course of implementation have been delayed and hampered and some of them completely held up.

I know of the case of one group of persons who were anxious to avail of the Government housing grant and formed themselves into a company in order to comply with certain statutory requirements. They secured a site, carried out the necessary preparatory development work and applied to a bank for an overdraft on the security of machinery and whatever finances were available. An overdraft of £11,000 was sanctioned. Houses were built and the scheme progressed. Subsequently they asked for additional financial accommodation and they were granted accommodation up to £13,000. The work proceeded and some houses were finished. The interest on the amount that had been advanced was paid regularly in accordance with the terms of arrangement with the bank. Subsequently the overdraft was increased to £23,000. The work progressed and further houses were built. Some of them were sold and arrangements were made to sell others as they were constructed. Then, in the early part of this year, the bank informed the company that they would have to reduce their overdraft and would have to take action immediately or the bank would foreclose on the mortgages.

It was wrong for the bank in that case to advance money if it was not prepared to allow the scheme to be completed. That kind of hasty, panicky action creates confusion, causes considerable economic losses, results in unemployment and generally creates a sense of frustration in the community. The example I have given I know could be multiplied by other Deputies. That is the sort of situation which has resulted because of the panicky speeches made by Ministers since the advent of this Government last June. I do not pretend for a moment that there is not a problem there. The problem should be and must be solved. But making panicky speeches, creating an atmosphere of crisis without implementing any effective measures only causes more harm rather than achieving results by taking the steps which Deputies of all Parties recognise should be and must be taken if our economic position is to be improved.

The Government have failed to provide leadership, drive and initiative. They appear to be appalled by the economic problem to such an extent that, instead of effective leadership, initiative and a courageous facing up to the future, whatever it may hold, we have had a whole series of pessimistic speeches by one Minister after another and a deeper atmosphere of gloom and uncertainty added to whatever gloom and uncertainty we had in connection with the existing economic situation not only in this country but in Europe. That is the type of problem which has been magnified because of lack of leadership on the part of the Government, because of inability to provide a sound, coherent policy. The whole anxiety of the Government has been to try to discredit the results achieved by their predecessors.

The Marshall Aid programme has been criticised during the course of this debate. Ministers have made a number of speeches asserting that the money was misused, that it was wasted and squandered. They omitted, however, to tell the House and the country that more of the Marshall Aid money was spent during the last nine months by the Fianna Fáil Government than was spent during the whole of the previous two and a half years since Marshall Aid money was first made available. They have not told us what was the alternative. They have not told us where our programme was wrong. Was it wrong to drain the land; was it wrong to spend money on land reclamation; was it wrong to build houses; was it wrong to construct hospitals; was it wrong to provide employment for the greatest number of persons ever employed in the history of the country? Was it wise to use that money for the purposes for which the American E.C.A. announced it was to be used? Is it not a far better test of the way in which that money was utilised to reflect on the words of an impartial expert, Mr. Foster, then E.C.A. administrator, who, in May, 1951, stated:—

"The suspension of E.C.A.A. is the best possible recognition of the strides the Irish people have taken towards economic self-sufficiency under the impetus of the Marshall Plan. With the dollars and technical assistance provided through E.C.A.A. to help, Ireland has accomplished agricultural and other economic reforms in three years that otherwise would have taken a generation to achieve. The economic recovery of Ireland and the sterling area as a whole has progressed to a point where Ireland no longer needs outside dollar assistance to maintain a healthy economy."

Mr. Foster is not a member of any of the political Parties which made up the inter-Party Government. He can be accepted as an impartial expert on the results that have been achieved. He did not make the announcement because he was in any way associated with any of the political Parties. In fact, his term of office expired shortly afterwards. As he had no interest in making an announcement of that sort, it is reasonable for the House and the country to accept the impartial and independent verdict of an expert administering the generous aid provided under the E.C.A. rather than that of the pundits who have in recent months held themselves out as experts on the economic position of the country.

Before I conclude, it is pertinent to inquire from the Minister if any discussions have taken place as result of the enactment of the Mutual Security Act. If so, what are the proposals which have been advanced by the Government for the utilisation of the Marshall Aid moneys in the Grant Counterpart Fund and when is it expected that it will be possible to get a decision so that the work which was in progress may be maintained?

In yesterday's Evening Herald there was a report of a statement by an American admiral that it was expected that some help or assistance would be forthcoming from Ireland in the future. I believe it is right that any doubts or confusion created by an announcement of that sort should be quickly corrected and the Government would do well to consider making a statement which will clarify the position.

I listened to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government mention the list of Fianna Fáil proposals since they assumed office in June. The list was very interesting. We from this section of the House welcome the introduction of the Tourist Traffic Bill, as we did the Undeveloped Areas Bill and to a limited extent the other measures which he mentioned. Whilst those proposals in themselves are interesting and undoubtedly will do some good to the country, they will not counterbalance the harm that has been done by the leaders of the Government since June last. A period of nine months is a short time in which to judge a new Government, but one could not describe the members of the Front Bench of the present Government as being newcomers to office. They were out of office for a period of a little over three years, but if we are to take seriously their speeches during the three and a half years of the inter-Party Government and during the last general election campaign, it would have been reasonable to assume that we would not find the country now in the bad state in which it undoubtedly is.

Fianna Fáil supporters and even Fianna Fáil Deputies will admit that things did not go as they expected when they asked for the support of the electorate and are not going as they would like them to go. For that Fianna Fáil have themselves to blame. The achievement of the inter-Party Government, the record of each of their Ministers was such that it was the envy of Fianna Fáil; and during the election campaign and for their first few months in office Fianna Fáil went out of their way to try to represent to the people that the late Government had left the country in a very bad state. But they went slightly too far, because with their hysterical speeches, their speeches of gloom and disaster, they killed the initiative of the people and they have been responsible for the abnormal increase in the unemployed over the last eight or nine months.

Measures like the Tourist Traffic Bill and the Undeveloped Areas Bill are good in themselves, as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government has said, but they are going to cost the taxpayers money and they will not counter-balance the harm that has been done. Undoubtedly as a result of the speeches we have had from the Taoiseach, from the Tánaiste and from Ministers, the key word in business and industry at present is "caution." Credit is undoubtedly restricted, as any bank manager will tell any individual Deputy if he cares to ask. By different methods every Department of State, and in particular to my knowledge the Department of Local Government, has cut down expenditure as far as it can. I do not think anyone would agree that expenditure should be cut down in the Department of Local Government and more especially in regard to housing. Might I refer now to a recent allegation of a member of the Fianna Fáil Party that an action of the late Minister has been responsible for the slowing down of housing in the City of Dublin? No matter what one has to say about the late Minister for Local Government, or his predecessor, the late T.J. Murphy, this will have to be admitted, that as far as red tape and officialdom are concerned the late T.J. Murphy and the present Deputy Keyes did more to expedite house building than any other Minister of State in this country since 1922. So much did they cut red tape and officialdom that we had screeching complaints from the present Minister for Finance—Deputy MacEntee, as he was then—and from Deputy Childers and Deputy Briscoe, who are now complaining that the action of the last Government is responsible for the slowing down of housing in the City of Dublin. It is extraordinary that the allegation is that Deputy Keyes did this two years ago when he was Minister and yet Deputy Briscoe only sees fit to mention it in the last week or two.

Not only in respect of Dublin is there a slowing down in housing but all over the country, and I can talk of my own constituency as well. It is not that the Minister or the Government have said they are going to cut down the amount of money but by other methods, such as by slowing up decisions and by foolish queries, they are delaying the making of plans and the general progress towards building of houses in the rural and provincial town areas. No member of the Fianna Fáil Party would stand behind a hidden policy like that because it is an effort at economy. In my constituency there is a definite slow down, as in Dublin. I do not think that should be encouraged. It is up to each and every one of the members of the Fianna Fáil Party to insist that the Minister give the same freedom of planning and the same general freedom as was given during the three years of the inter-Party régime.

Furthermore, there has been an allegation that the last Minister cut down the grants under the Local Authorities (Works) Act very substantially. That is a fact. I can tell why that was done and anybody in a turf county knows the reason. During the year 1949-50 we had difficulty in the Department in getting some counties to spend the money that was allocated to them. In some cases there were returns and for the year 1950-51 when a turf drive was again organised, the county councils were exhorted to produce two years' turf for their own requirements. It was felt and agreed then by local officials that they would not be able to spend in the turf counties the normal allocation under the Works Act. But—and there is this very important "but"—there was a definite understanding last year between the Department and the Department of Finance that if more money was required for the Works Act schemes it would be forthcoming. If the Minister for Local Government or any other Minister who is concerned about that particular question takes the pains to inquire from the officials of the Department of Local Government, he will find that what I say is true.

To indicate the desire of the former Minister for Local Government to keep as high a level of employment as he could in the rural areas, may I quote these two examples: For the last two years of the inter-Party Government, when the Counties of Laois, Meath and Wexford found that they had a problem in regard to rural unemployment or when it was visualised that there would be such a problem towards the end of the financial year, and where there were schemes to be executed, money was forthcoming and as much money as these counties asked for was given every time. I think Deputy O'Reilly will bear me out in respect of County Meath and I think Deputy Davin can say the same as far as Laois is concerned. Where it meant employment in the rural areas on the important work of drainage, as far as the last Government was concerned, money was no bar.

The emphasis in this particular debate seems to be on stockpiling. Anybody in the gallery listening to the debate would not know whether Fianna Fáil were for or against stockpiling or whether the members on this side of the House were for or against stockpiling. I see a lot of snags as far as stockpiling is concerned. It was admitted last night by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs that stockpiling had been done by the last Government. He tried to infer that stockpiling has been responsible for a lot of the unemployment in the country at the present time. I will not argue in detail as to whether that is a fact or not but I would like the present Government to have some official control over stockpiling because the stocks that have been piled in the last 12 or 24 months have never been regarded as stockpiling proper. My idea is that if there is to be stockpiling, whether of clothing, footwear, the raw materials for foundries, or whatever it may be, the stocks should be kept for a period of emergency.

The position at the present time, as far as I know, is that goods which have been imported for the ostensible purpose of stockpiling are being issued and are being sold. I think the Government should take steps to see that if goods are imported for the purpose of stockpiling they will be kept aside for a period of emergency when such goods might be in short supply.

In order to explain away the unemployment figures the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government said that there has been mass importation of various types of goods which it was unnecessary to import and which we could have done without. I do not want to take sides one way or the other in these arguments about stockpiling. As far as the town of Wexford is concerned, the present Government, by allowing the importation of foreign materials, have been responsible for unemployment. During the period of office of the inter-Party Government £1,000 worth of springs for motor-cars were allowed in every six months. The Fianna Fáil Government allow £10,000 worth of goods to be imported every six months. That has caused unemployment in the spring-making industry in Wexford. If Fianna Fáil accuse the last Government of causing unemployment by stockpiling I suggest that they are every bit as guilty in many respects of which I am aware.

There is a controversy as to whether or not there is a crisis in the country. We hear from the leaders of the Government that there is a crisis and that the inter-Party Government has been responsible for it. On the other hand we get a speech from Deputy Costello to the effect that this is one of the best-off countries in the world. I am inclined to agree with Deputy Costello that this is one of the best, or has been one of the best, and one of the happiest countries in the world.

The present Government got the country in a state where the people had a strong sense of security. The Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Lynch, preferred to describe that as complacency. I would call it security. Undoubtedly there was security of employment in rural areas. There was security of employment in industry. We cannot say that there is the same degree of security now. There is certainly no security of employment in the rural areas. The Parliamentary Secretary says that people are not emigrating. They are emigrating from Wexford. They are emigrating from Wexford town. I know that they are emigrating from other counties. If the Parliamentary Secretary thinks it is any consolation to us to know that there is a depression in the Six Counties, he is making a very big mistake. There is no use in my going to the unemployed in Wexford or Deputy Cowan going to the unemployed in County Dublin telling them they are not too badly off; that there are 40,000 unemployed in the Six Counties.

Every time Fianna Fáil want to defend a certain line of action or policy they try to represent to the country that they are up against it. Their excuse for lack of progress from 1932 to the beginning of the second World War was the economic war. Then they had the emergency from 1939 to 1945. They could not make any progress and we were all supposed to pile in and give them our co-operation and support. From 1945 to 1948 was a difficult period. Fianna Fáil could not make much progress, so they said. But, from 1948 to 1951 was the time, according to Deputy Childers and Deputy Lemass, that this country had the best opportunity that ever presented itself to put industry and agriculture on their feet. Fianna Fáil came back to power in June, 1951, and they are up against it; there is a world depression; there is a shortage of raw materials; there is a shortage of feeding stuffs and we are supposed to pile in again, not to criticise unduly but to give all the co-operation we can.

Despite the picture that has been painted by the various Ministers, despite the boast of the Minister for Finance that the deficit in the Budget will be £50,000,000, I do not believe that we are going to have a bad Budget. I believe it is a scare made up by Fianna Fáil. I believe this whole talk of a crisis is one of the greatest frauds that have ever been attempted or perpetrated on the public because, presto, on the 2nd or 3rd April, we are not going to get such a bad Budget, and probably it will be announced to us by the Minister for Finance that Fianna Fáil once again has come to the rescue of the country.

That is the idea.

The people do not believe that the security of this country was undermined by the inter-Party Government. There was a feeling of security during that time, and people were beginning to spend. Above all, people were beginning to invest. Now we are exhorted to pay as we go. I do not believe in it. I believe in borrowing for capital expenditure. I do not believe that the people of 1952 should be saddled with expenditure on items that will be of benefit to coming generations. I do not think that I should be expected to pay for the trees that will be planted in State forests and which will mature in 25 years' time. I believe that should be financed by borrowing.

I believe that the development of our harbours, the building of houses, hospitals, schools, roads and many other items of capital development should be paid for by borrowing. We have the security of this country on which to borrow. We have the security of the goodwill of the men and women in this country and, above all, we have the security of the richness of our agricultural industry. Very few countries in the world have such strong items of security as we have. If we pay as we go we will still need 100,000 houses; we will still need schools; we will never have afforestation developed in this country and we will still be scrambling. Nobody can say we have made the progress we should have made since the State was founded, so to speak, in 1922, when the Provisional Government was set up. We have not made enough strides, and one of the reasons for this is that the political life of this country has been born out of the bitterness of the civil war. I do not want to introduce the question of the civil war. Neither have I anything to say to any man who took this or that side. Without meaning any offence to Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael—Cumann na nGaedheal as they were called in the beginning— let me say this: The members of the Fianna Fáil Party have joined their Party because they were anti-Treaty, and those in the Fine Gael Party find themselves in their Party because they were pro-Treaty. Fianna Fáil was founded not on a policy. Their establishment was based on no particular policy, but only on the fact that they were on one side when there was a civil war in progress in this country.

This does not seem to be relevant to the Vote on Account.

Sorry if I stepped beyond bounds. I merely wanted to give my reasons as to why we have not made the progress we should have made. I do not want to make any particular point about that and I have no particular criticism of any man on one side or the other.

He is giving the historical background.

That is why the banks are so poor.

Possibly it would be a good thing if every Deputy in this House was told to stand on the floor of the Chamber and say: "Pick your Party"—let it be Conservative, Labour or Liberal. I feel if we did so that some new faces would appear in the Labour Party both from the Fianna Fáil Party and from the Fine Gael Party. I could mention the names of a few in both Parties who have the Labour outlook. However, they are bound by tradition and bound by their own particular history to stand by a particular Party. I maintain that until we can get Parties with definitely defined policies very little progress will be made. I would prefer to describe some of the Front Bench members of the Fianna Fáil Party at the present time as very, very good candidates for the Tory Party.

I wonder what did the rank and file of the Fianna Fáil Party think of the speech made by the Minister for Finance and about the speech delivered here last night by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs? His complaint was that we were too wealthy. His was an attack by inference on the mass of the workers of this country. He told us last night that 5/6d. out of every £ earned in this country was spent on drink, tobacco and amusements. He tried to give us the impression that the agricultural labourer spends 5/6d. out of every £ he earns on drink and on amusement and that the old age pensioner who received £1 per week had only 14/6d. to spend on food and clothing. Probably he is perfectly right in saying that 5/6d. out of every £ is the average amount spent on drink and amusement in this country. However, that is not the practice of my constituents or of the people who support me. Those who frequent the big hotels, cocktail bars, dinners or banquets, may spend 5/6d. out of every £ on drink and on amusement. This amount is not spent in the public-houses of my constituency. If the average is as high as 5/6d., I suggest that it is not contributed by the manual workers, or those people with incomes below £10 per week. I suggest it is the aristocratic spiv who frequents the big hotels, the cocktail bars, parties, dinners and banquets who spends this amount.

It was interesting to hear from the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs that a quarter of the week's wages of the workers in this country was contributed towards the cost of the Government. Take a quarter of the £3 7s. 6d. earned by the agricultural worker in my constituency and contribute it towards taxation and one will see what he has got left for himself. We were told that the way to drag this country out of the crisis which Fianna Fáil say has come upon us is by producing more. When that admonition is made it is taken by most people as being directed towards the manual worker. Every time the Minister for Finance, the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste say: "Produce more" everybody immediately thinks of the agricultural labourer or the person who works with his hands. Some people say: "The road worker should work harder." The ratepayer says: "Is not this a scandalous amount of money to be spending on the roads? Why should I pay rates to keep that particular lazy blackguard in employment?" I, myself, think that the road worker should work harder, but I also feel that these admonitions should not be directed to any particular section of the community. I feel that civil servants, local government officials, the Minister, university professors, and newspaper men should work harder. Every single person in the State should work harder.

Including Deputies.

As Deputy Dunne reminds me, Deputies should work harder.

And Senators.

If we are going to ask for bigger and better production, let us give encouragement and let us give some incentive. I said here some time ago that, whilst I did not believe that agriculture was at its peak in this country, it was not proper to say that the standard of living of the farmers in this country, compared to their standard of living in 1939, had increased something like 60 per cent. as against the increase in the standard of living of the agricultural labourer of 25 per cent. If the agricultural labourer is to work harder, he has got to have incentives, and the incentives we have suggested are these: his weekly half-holiday, his week's holiday and better wages. Every time we talk about those, every single person in Dáil Éireann, whether he be a farmer or businessman, says: "I am in favour, but how?" Looking at the figures I have just quoted, I suggest it could be done to some extent. The farmers in part of my constituency, and in other counties, are growling and grumbling because they cannot get labour. If the Government has to subsidise the farmer so that he may be able to give the agricultural labourer a proper wage, let it be done, if that is the only solution. If we want to keep him on the land, let us do so by giving him good wages and by offering him good conditions. In my opinion, the farmer was treated very well for the three years while Deputy Dillon was in office, and he is doing pretty well under the present Minister's administration. Of course, the present Minister for Agriculture is going a little further than he ever intended going by trying to outdo Deputy Dillon, but, in any case, that is good for the farmer and for the country. It does not make much difference to me.

I would like to conclude by saying this again. Fianna Fáil have been responsible for the abnormal increase in the unemployment figures. There are 73,000 or 74,000 on the unemployed register at the present time. I would rather imagine that was an abnormal figure for the winter period but now we are coming into the month of April and we still have a gap of 12,000 or 13,000 compared to this time last year. There has been a decrease in Local Authorities (Works) Act moneys. In my county there has been an increase in road grants but the decrease in money for drainage schemes cuts down the total figure by about £5,000. It seems to me, therefore, there is going to be a slightly bigger increase in unemployment as far as my constituency is concerned. Figures were read out for Cork to-day and they showed that, compared with this time last year, there are 700 more unemployed in Cork City. I rather imagine that Deputy McGrath is concerned about that, as is Deputy Hickey, and the question Deputy Hickey and Deputy McGrath ask themselves is: what is the Government going to do about it? The Tourist Bill will not put them into employment; the Undeveloped Areas Bill will not give employment in my constituency, in Cork or in Dublin. Therefore I, like other Deputies, want to know, and expect to hear, from the Minister how he proposes to bring that figure of 75,000 down to some reasonable level.

Again, let me say that this crisis has been artificially created by Fianna Fáil so that when the 2nd April comes and the Budget is presented, we will find Deputy MacEntee will proclaim for the Fianna Fáil Party and for his leader, Deputy de Valera, that Fianna Fáil have once again come to the rescue.

I rith na díospóireachta ar an Vóta seo chuala mé na léachtaí céanna a rinneadh sa Teach seo don tríú uair. Rinne an Teachta Ua Coisdealbha agus na Teachtaí eile ar an dtaobh eile den Tigh na léachtaí céanna i rith díospóireachtaí éagsúla le naoi mí anuas, agus is é an tiún céanna atá á sheideadh acu an t-am ar fad, is é sin, nach bhfuil rud ar bith cearr, go bhfuil gach rud go maith agus go mbeadh gach rud go maith, ach ab é na ráflaí atá Fianna Fáil a chur amach. Ach tá fhios againn, na Teachtaí a bhíonn amach ar fud na tíre agus ag caint leis na daoine, nach bhfuil gach aon rud go maith. Tá fhios againn gur gá rud éigin a dhéanamh, agus gníomh a bheartú a chuirfidh stop le eisimirce ár ndaoine, le dífhostaíocht agus le earraí iasachta atá, nó a bhí, ag teacht isteach chun na tíre seo.

Shíl muintir an Coalition go raibh leigheas gach aicíde acu nuair a tháinig siad isteach leis an cháinfhaisnéis anuraidh agus nuair d'iarr siad an dalladh mullóg a chur ar na daoine nach raibh an cháinfhaisnéis ard. Tá siad ag rá anois go bhfuil an cháinfhaisnéis atáimid ar tí a thabhairt isteach níos airde ná mar a bhí anuraidh.

Tomás Ó hUigin

Tá sé.

Níl sé. Rud eile, deir siad nár tugadh isteach earraí iasachta a bhí déanta suas, ach duine ar bith a théann isteach i siopa ar fud na tuaíthe nó sa chathair, chifidh sé earraí a rinneadh i Sasana. Chífidh sé earraí leis an dá chiorcal "utility" orthu agus earraí nach gceannódh muintir Shasana iad féin, nach gceannódh muintir na Sé gContae, agus cuireadh isteach sa tír seo iad. Bhí an Rialtas a chuaigh amach toilteanach earraí mar sin a ghlacadh i rith na dtrí bliana seo chuaigh thart.

Caithfidh gach duine a aontú gur maith iad na céimeanna atá an Tánaiste tar éis a ghlacadh maidir le cáin ar earraí iasachta a honnmhuirítear go dtí an tír seo. Tá an cháin sin ag glacadh éifeacht faoi láthair. Bhí mé ag caint le déantúsóir léinte agus dúirt sé, de thoradh na cánach sin, go bhfuil orduithe ag teacht isteach ina mhonarchain agus go bhfuil sé tar éis céad oibritheoirí, a scaoil sé chun siúil ag deireadh na bliana seo caite, d'athfhostú an tseachtain seo chuaigh thart. Sin mar a bheas an scéal sna monarchain eile ar fud na tíre nuair a bheas éifeacht na cánach sin feicithe.

Gníomh molta eile agus rud a laghdóidh an dífhostaíocht sna contaethe in iarthar na hÉireann is ea Bille na gCeantar gCúng, a tugadh isteach le déanaí. I mBaile Litir Ceanaínn coicís ó shoin d'fhogair Nestles go raibh siad ar tí monarchan le haghaidh leasú bainne a thógáil. Bhí cainteanna ar siúl le dhá bhliain anuas idir an Coiste Forbartha i Litir Ceanainn agus muintir Nestles ach ní rabhdar in ann réiteach a dhéanamh agus ní éireodh leo an réiteach sin a dhéanamh go dtí gur cuireadh an Bille seo tríd an Dáil agus gur tugadh cúnamh d'ár monarchain sna ceantracha in iarthar na hÉireann.

Má leanann an scéal mar sin agus má cuirtear ar bun na déantúsaí sin agus má cuirtear suas na monarchana sin—agus tá gach dealramh ann go leanfar de—is gairid go ndéanfar laghdú ar na 74,000 daoine atá dífhostaithe faoi láthair.

An Satharn a chuaigh thart, tháinig fear chun mo thí. Tá sé ag obair sa tír seo ag comhlucht Beilgeach atá ag iarraidh cré atá foirstineach do bhrící a lonú i dTir Conaill nó i gceantar éigin eile. Tá an comhlucht Beilgeach sin toilteanach teacht isteach agus monarchan a chur suas. Ní hé amhain go n-úsáidfear toradh na monarchan sin sa tír seo ach tá margaí acu i dtíortha eile fá choinne na n-earraí a déanfar sa mhonarchain sin. Níor shíl an Teachta Mac Fheorais go ndéanfadh Acht na gCeantar gCúng mórán maitheasa ach sílim féin go ndéanfaidh sé a lán maitheasa—ní amháin go gcuirfidh sé daoine isteach in obair ach tógfaidh sé daoine ó Bhaile Atha Cliath agus áiteanna mar sin.

Ba cheart luí isteach ar obair talmhaíochta na hÉireann agus ba cheart níos mó airgid a chaitheamh ar an talmhaíocht agus ar rudaí a bhaineann leis an talmhaíocht. Ni hé sin le rá gur ceart airgead a chaitheamh gan suim ar bith cé mar caitheadh é. Bhí an Teachta Ó Diolúin inné ag rá gur chaith sé cúig mhiliún— nílim cinnte cé acu púint nó dolaerí a bhí i gceist—i lá amháin. Ní shílim gur maith an rud d'Aire Talmhaíochta rud mar sin d'adhmháil, gan a rá conas a chaith sé é. Aontaíonn gach duine sa tír gur ceart tuile airgid a chaitheamh agus an bhéim a chur ar ghnó na talmhaíochta mar is ar an talmhaíocht a bhrathann mórchuid de mhuintir na hÉireann agus is ón talmhaíocht a gheibhimid morchuid den airgead a thig isteach sa tír seo. Ba cheart gan toradh na talmhaíochta d'allmhuiriú i staid nach n-úsáideann mórán d'oibritheóirí na hÉireann. Ba cheart iad d'allmhuiriú i staid chríochnaithe, is é sin an obair a dhéanamh sa tír seo mar tá á dhéanamh i gcás na feola reoite.

Sa mBille Leasa Shoisialaigh, tá réiteach á dhéanamh—tar éis naoi míosa den Rialtas seo—staid an lucht oibre a dhéanamh níos fearr agus tá difir mór amháin idir an Bhille sin agus an Bille a bhí ar tí a thabhartha isteach ag an Rialtas deireannach— nach mbeidh an oiread le díol ag an fhear oibre agus a bhí beartaithe faoi Bhille an Rialtais eile. Gheobhaidh sé mórchuid de na buntáistí, ach as díolaíocht níos lú.

Mr. O'Higgins

This debate, like the debate on the motion of no confidence proposed by the Leader of the Opposition in the last session, has largely been concerned with the economic position of the country and I do not propose to follow in any great detail into much that has been said in that connection. It is, I think, perfectly clear now to the thinking people of the country that, when the Government changed last June, the position of the country appeared to be a sound one. There was then, or as near to it as we have ever been in this country, a condition of full employment. There was good employment of a long-term nature, good and rising wages available to our working people, confidence in industry and booming and expanding markets not merely here at home but abroad. In agriculture, there was a condition of prosperity which had not been experienced for many years back and up to June of last year all the signs of prosperity abounded in this country. It was in that situation and completely contrary to the expectations and desires of our people that the present Government found itself in office.

Having found itself in office in June of last year, as a result of a defeat in the general election, the present Government started a particularly tragic campaign. They endeavoured to combat the facts of the situation, the fact that the country appeared to be prosperous and the people contented, by looking around to discover some weakness in the financial policy and programme followed by the inter-Party Government. If the finances of the country were weak, if they were unsound, the present Government saw in that weakness and unsoundness some method by which they could discredit the financial programme and policy followed by that Government. As a result of that particular desire on the part of members of the Government, we have had this tragic compaign conducted for the past nine months—it was initiated by the Minister for Finance last June—week after week and month after month, with one design behind it, to discredit, if at all possible, the steps taken by the former Government and the policy which it pursued.

That policy made phrases such as "Frittering away our external assets,""Living beyond our means,""The critical situation which the country faces" and "The dark clouds of inflation" familiar to the people of the country. I move to report progress.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.