Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 10 Nov 1953

Vol. 142 No. 11

Supplies and Services (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1946 (Continuance) Bill, 1953—Second Stage (Resumed).

As a result of the attitude adopted by the Minister during the course of this debate, Deputies have experienced a certain amount of difficulty in making their speeches and in keeping within the Rules of Order so far as the subjects to which they can refer are concerned.

In my view the Title of this Bill— the Supplies and Services Bill—is a misnomer because this Bill gives vast powers to various Ministers of the Government. Its terms are entirely dictatorial. I believe that the proper Title for this Bill would be the Public Safety Act. Its terms and the powers it gives are such that it is entirely similar to that old Act of the British Parliament which was known as D.O.R.A.—the Defence of the Realm Act.

One would expect, having regard to the fact that eight years have now passed since the end of the Second World War, that there should no longer be any necessity for the introduction of a Bill of this nature—a Bill which gives power to the Government, if they so desire, to extend this Dáil, for instance, for a period of 50 years or any number of years and, in fact, to prevent certain Deputies from entering Dáil Éireann at all. There is no limit to the powers contained in this Bill.

The Deputy must regard himself as a service essential to the community.

It was a very astute move on the part of the Minister for Industry and Commerce to give this Bill its present Title—Supplies and Services Bill—instead of its proper Title, the Public Safety Act.

We cannot prevent the Deputy from attending the Dáil. He would have to be a service essential to the community before he would come under this Bill.

Under this Bill, the Minister can prevent the import of any commodity, even a very essential commodity. He can also prevent the export of commodities from this country. In fact, there is nothing that cannot be done by the Government under this Bill, which is absolutely autocratic in its terms. I understand, however, that in his opening speech the Minister stated that it would definitely be ended in the year 1955.

If we refer to this Bill as the Supplies and Services Bill, and if the Minister exercises his full powers under it, something has certainly been done by which the supplies available —supplies of all kinds: foodstuffs, clothing and everything else—have reached such a high price to-day that people in our cities and towns, in particular—working men and working women—find it absolutely impossible to live in accordance with the decent standard of living that they would expect a Government to maintain in this country. The position is so bad that many children are deprived of foods which are essential to build them up in a proper state of health and yet the Minister does not seem to have exercised any of his powers to keep down the cost of living.

The inter-Party Government set up a Prices Advisory Body to investigate any claims to increase the prices of commodities. Since the present Minister took office, we have not ever been told that he had recourse to that body in connection with the prices of essential foodstuffs or other commodities. The position in this State to-day is that, between high prices and high taxation, there is a good deal of unemployment—and where there isunemployment there will be emigration.

While the Minister possesses powers to alleviate the distress which exists in many sections of our community, he is not doing his duty in striving to keep prices at a reasonable level and to reduce the unemployment figure which affects a vast number of our people.

Last week, the Minister interrupted Deputy Blowick to say that he longed for constructive proposals. I need hardly say that I do not believe him. Nevertheless, I think it desirable that, when he makes that bluff, it should be called. The first thing to which I wish to direct the attention of the House in connection with this Bill is that, as a result of the constructive work done by the inter-Party Government, without very much help from the Minister or his colleagues, who did all in their power to harass and confuse while they were in opposition, the exports of this country, as a result of the prudent policy pursued by our Government, bid fair in this year to exceed £105,000,000 sterling, after eliminating the Minister's valuable contribution to our external trade of sweetened fat and minced meat which amounted last year to something like £4,000,000. They have vanished like snow in summer sunshine, but the agricultural policy of the inter-Party Government now coming to fruition not only takes up that entire deficit of £4,000,000 but promises to provide a total export value of £105,000,000 sterling, or perhaps a little more, the greatest figure ever recorded in the economic history of this country.

I think the House ought to dwell on that, because, if this event were not now transpiring, consequent on the work we did despite the unrelenting opposition of the present Government, this country would be bust wide open. When Fianna Fáil left office in 1947, the total value of our exports was of the order of £70,000,000 sterling. It now bids fair to reach £105,000,000 sterling, and if you study the exports, you will find that they are not sweetened fats, not minced meat, noneof the other exotic products sponsored by the Department of Industry and Commerce, but cattle, meat, sheep, pigs, bacon and pork, the despised products of the land of Ireland and of those farmers who Fianna Fáil had been concerned to say for the past five years are lazy, incompetent, old-fashioned and unworthy of continued occupancy of the land. When will Fianna Fáil wake up to this fact, that the performance of the farmers on the land of Ireland since 1948 outshines the performance of any agricultural community in Europe?

I do not want to raise the question of relevancy again, but this seems to me to be a terribly long way from the Bill.

I am giving Deputy Dillon an opportunity of relating it. I am expecting and hoping that he will endeavour to do so.

I understand that the Minister wants constructive proposals. I propose to give them to him.

Within the framework of the Bill?

Yes. So far as I know, under this Bill we could do anything.

In respect of supplies and services.

And supplies and services have been interpreted by the courts to mean anything. I made Orders myself under the Act of the most extraordinary character.

They are very well delimited in the original Act and this is only a continuation of the original Act. We cannot discuss what was agreed on in that Act; we can only say whether we should continue these powers to the Minister.

Powers that we all of us exercised, when Ministers, and which the present Ministers exercise now.

I am only interestedin the powers the Bill proposes to give. I do not know what was exercised by any Minister.

And what we did under this Bill in the years in which it was in operation. God knows there were some strange things done under it, too, by our predecessors in office. I am trying to point out that all the things that were done made very little contribution to the economic welfare of this State in so far as they were done by the Minister or those for whom he is responsible, whereas the agricultural community of this country bore, are bearing and will continue to bear, the whole burden. It is on that front that constructive proposals can be made if there is any hope for the economic salvation of this country at all.

I am going to make three proposals and I will give 6 to 4 now to anybody that they will all be categorically rejected by the Minister in his concluding speech and will all be put into operation within the next five years. I will give 2 to 1 on that proposition to any amount and I bet there will be no takers, in the Fianna Fáil Party in any case, because generally any suggestion made from these benches they try to adopt in their own flat-footed way as soon as they hope the public have forgotten whence the suggestion originally came.

One of the purposes for which powers were granted under the Act was to control the cost of living, and I suggest a method now whereby 6d. per lb., and quite possibly 1/- per lb., can be taken off the price of tea within the next month, that is by declaring, as of to-morrow, that there is no control on the importation of tea.

It would put the price up by 6d.

Do not talk to me. I have forgotten more about tea than the Minister will ever know. I could buy tea to-day 7d. or 8d. a lb. cheaper if there were no control than we are at present paying.

The constructive suggestion is to say how you would do it.

Let the Minister take off control for a month and we will give him a demonstration that will take the breath out of him.

Every tea merchant knows that you are talking nonsense.

Take the control off for one month—there is no difficulty about taking it off for a month or two months and putting it back again, if the event does not transpire as I declare it will —and the price of tea can be reduced by at least 6d. per lb. My constructive proposal is: Take it off altogether. Why have we got it on? Why are the people of this country being constrained to pay 6d. per lb. more than they ought to pay for it? I will tell you, because I happen to know. A certain small group of tea wholesalers in this country came to know that the Minister had a bee in his bonnet and that that bee was that at the beginning of the European war, supplies of tea from London were suspended. The Minister's quarrel, however, is with the then British Government, which has long ceased to exist, and the existing British Government dislikes it more than the Minister dislikes either of them. He is quite resolved that he is going to carry on that quarrel, not with the British Government but with the wholesalers of tea in the City of London. They never wanted to cut off supplies of tea from Ireland. The more tea they sell, the more money they make.

The Deputy does not know what he is talking about.

Oh, go fish. I was selling tea when you were cutting calico down in Capel Street.

I know who stopped our tea during the war.

The British Government.

The British wholesalers.

Oh, go fish. Why should a wholesaler refuse to supply his customers? The British wholesalers did not rise up to wrap the green flaground them and then proceed to cut off their noses to spite their faces by refusing to supply tea to their customers. They would sell tea to Johnny Dog if they were paid, but they were told by the British Government not to sell any more tea to Ireland because the British Government wanted to keep all the tea for their own people. It is now rather late to start disputing the equity of that arrangement made in 1939 or 1940. If there was to be any argument about it, it could not go on because the other party to the argument is gone and they can never come back. That arrangement was made by a Government which was a coalition of Labour and Conservatives, and that you will never see again, in the Tánaiste's lifetime or mine. There is no use in arguing the past when the other party to the argument is dead or liquidated, gone like a puff of air. He cannot be found; he will never be found; and you are simply arguing with a blank wall.

Why should our people be asked to pay 6d. per lb. more for tea in order to wreak vengeance on something that does not exist? That is just draft. That would not work and the bee would not be allowed to buzz very long in the Tánaiste's bonnet if there was not a very powerful vested interest in Ireland that suddenly woke up to the fact that the bee in the Minister's bonnet was pure gold for them and then emerged this brilliant plan by which our tea was bought in Colombo and Calcutta, and only a limited number of persons would be allowed to purchase it—a few large wholesalers in Cork, Limerick and Waterford.

Once they get the wholesale trade of this country sewed up in a bag, there will be no agreement. But there will be a weekly luncheon at which current prices of Orange Pekoe, B.O.P., Fannings and Ceylons will be discussed in the most gentle way. There emerges this astonishing consequence that when you write to 15 wholesalers asking for samples, there will not be one-eighth of a penny per lb. between the samples forwarded, and if you do not like that, you can lump it. If you do not buy from them you will have no tea to sell.

It will be a great compliment to get any tea at all from them—loose tea. There will come a day when you will be told that the health officers wish all tea to be packeted before it is sent to a shop in the backwoods—shops which have no right to expect to have the same accommodation as shops in Ballsbridge or Rathmines. Of course, you will be told that the price for packing tea has gone up. It will be made up in a red packet, a blue packet and a green packet, all at different prices, and if you do not like it you can lump it. You will be told that your customers can drink light beer if they will not drink tea from a packet, and if they will not drink light beer you can put up your shutters. That is all there is to it.

You will discover this further amazing fact: that wholesaler A has packed his tea in red packages, white packages and blue packages at three different prices, and wholesaler B has packets in green, white and orange at three different prices and they are all at the same three prices. You can have any colour you like but there will be three prices and you will pay these prices or you can lump it or make your customers drink light beer, and if you cannot make them drink light beer you can put up your shutters. Then they tell the public that they deprecate this interference with the free practice of their trade and that they exhort the Minister to withdraw control. Did you ever see two fellows fighting at a fair? "Let me at him; hold me back!" The 15 wholesalers protest against this restraint and speak of delicate representations to the Minister when he proposes to consider the whole question but if he shows the slightest inclination to relinquish his control on tea they get a terrible shock. There was a panic a month ago when there was some talk of the Minister dropping control. The Minister said: "Now, boys, you put up a scheme." They protest that they will not put up any scheme, that they do not want any control. When the Minister says: "If you do not there will be no control scheme at all," there is immediately a desperate rush to place their servicesunreservedly at the disposal of the people of the Irish Republic, and they lodged a scheme before you could crack a match. I say that it requires nothing but an Order under this Act to suspend the control of tea and if that is done, within one week the price of tea will be brought down by 6d. per lb. I will give 6 to 4, even 2 to 1, on such an eventuality. If the Minister gives the slightest indication to-day that he is likely to do it there will be a deputation of wholesalers over in Kildare Street that will frighten them.

I make another proposal to the Minister. Here is a proposal that would reduce the cost of living ten points in six months and would provide better protection for those who seek it, and a better quality merchandise at a lower price and in greater volume for every consumer in the country. Let the Minister take any commodity he chooses, whether it be spades, woven underwear or children's readymade clothes and abolish the quota restrictions on the import of that commodity, inform the manufacturers of that commodity in Ireland that he proposes to reduce the tariff levied on that commodity to 20 per cent., and that he proposes to devote the revenue derived from the said tariff to give a subsidy per article on the corresponding commodity produced in Ireland. Let us take, for example, a pair of stockings. That pair of stockings is costing to-day, say, 1/- c.i.f. Dublin and we levy a tariff of 25 per cent. on that. That means that henceforward it costs 1/3 f.o.q. and the Irish manufacturer has to compete with that.

Is the Deputy not adumbrating an industrial policy rather than dealing with the provisions of this Bill?

The Minister asked for constructive proposals.

I know, constructive proposals within the terms of the Bill before us. The question before the House is whether the House should continue to give the Minister the power he already has in respect of supplies and services. A debate onthat question does not extend to adumbrating industrial policy or criticising an industrial policy already in existence. It is only a question of whether we shall give him the necessary powers to control imports and exports and the cost of living.

I remember a debate on this Bill going on under your distinguished chairmanship or that of your distinguished predecessor for six weeks.

I know, but that is a thing which the Chair thinks should not continue. Surely it rambles over the edges of policy.

According to the Rules of Order, if I carefully consult the previous debates on the Second Stage of this Bill——

There is no compulsion on the Chair to observe precedents.

Set by yourself.

I am not admitting that I set any. I have communicated to the Deputy the confines within which he must remain and they are wide enough.

I propose that the Minister should make an Order under the Act on the lines suggested by me, which he could do perfectly easily, which would have the full force of law and bring down the cost of living by ten points; which would increase employment; which would serve the exact purpose for which this Bill is designed; that is by an executive Order to carry into effect certain reforms which will relieve the stresses in the economy of the country and so utilise the supplies of goods and the services in such a way as to derive the greatest possible benefit for the community. Surely if I can propose to the House plans which can be given effect to under the Supplies and Services Act which will reduce the cost of living by ten points, which will increase employment, which will reduce the burden on the consumer,I am advocating the use of these powers in a way which will be for the benefit of the community.

Is not that advocating policy rather than giving the Minister power to exercise the powers he has already within the terms of the Act?

I will judge whether we ought to give these powers by the answer of the Minister. He said: "Give me a concrete suggestion." I will give him that, and I will decide to vote for or against the Bill when he tells me whether he will adopt the suggestion which I am making by using these powers. If he does, I think he ought to have the powers; if not, I think he ought not to have them.

It would be an extraordinary thing if the Minister could deride the Opposition by saying that they are not making any constructive proposals and, if the Opposition do make constructive proposals, they are to be told that this is not the time and the place to make them. I look to the six weary weeks of precedent when the rights of Opposition Deputies were vindicated to speak trenchantly on unemployment and the cost of living. When I think of the three points increase in the cost of living which kept this House going for six weary weeks and look at the 22 points that the modest Tánaiste clapped on within a week, it is very interesting.

Do you remember, Sir, every Deputy of the Fianna Fáil Party, some of them who sat dumb for ten or 15 years, getting up and shrieking to high heaven the time the cost of living went up by three points? Do you notice that not a single one of them has let a yap out of him or her ever since the cost of living went up by 22 points? I confidently expected my distinguished and charming colleague from Monaghan, Deputy Mrs. Rice, to be holding meetings at the crossroads in Monaghan and asking the Minister to make an Order to raise the price of turkeys at least to the level at which they were when I occupied the position of Minister. But every time the price of turkeys falls the heavier the silencethat shrouds my colleague. I am full of hope that she will call a protest meeting at any crossroads and I will be there to second any proposal which she has to make.

On a point of order. Has the price of turkeys anything to do with the Supplies and Services Bill?

Yes. There was a time when we had the right to enforce a price for turkeys and the right to make an Order under this Act that if a jobber defrauded a woman who had turkeys to sell we would take the licence off him and put him out of business. There has been no talk of that since the price of turkeys began to knock along the bottom. We had not even mention of the price of eggs. I would not wish to cause my distinguished colleague any undue distress on behalf of the women of Monaghan, but I remember when she would rise from these benches saying that she rarely interposed, moved by her solicitude for the women of Monaghan because her sleep was disturbed by the cackling of the fowl.

The Deputy should get back to the Bill.

Is it unreasonable for me to make suggestions which will increase employment and reduce the cost of living by a device which the Minister can apply in respect of any commodity? I simply take one by way of illustration. We had reached the stage that one commodity is coming in at a cost of 1/3. I suggest to the Minister that he should use the revenue derived from the 20 per cent. tariff on that to subsidise the domestic product. Does not that suggest a new procedure which would relieve the consumer, stimulate domestic production, bring down the cost of living, and in fact do all the things we want to do? If the domestic stocking costs 1/- to produce and the British stocking costs 1/- to produce, I suggest that we should subsidise the domestic stocking by a levy on the incoming stocking of 3d. and pay the domestic producer 2d. per pair on each pair he produces. His competitive positionthen would be that he would have a 10d. article competing with a 15d. article. Can we not then go to him and say: "We started you off with an initial overhead cost of your product of 10d.; the incoming competing article we have levied to the point where its initial cost is 15d. Now go and compete and let the consumer derive the benefit of your more energetic competition with the incoming commodity"? I think that is a good idea.

I think that if a lady resident in Ballsbridge wants to buy stockings for her children with frills and furbelows and has to pay 3d. extra on them so that the woman in more straitened circumstances and perhaps with a larger family can get a comfortable and serviceable stocking and find herself in the advantageous position, if she wishes to forgo the frills and furbelows, and having access to the more serviceable garment, that is made available by the contribution to the cost of the more serviceable garment made by the levy on the imported article. Does not that reduce the cost of living and provide employment for our people in producing the kind of goods we want? Does it not give an assurance that we will by this device not only protect the existing market for the woman who has to pay a retail price based on a 15d. cost but that other people can buy stockings at a retail price based on a first cost of 10d.? In that way this proposal would not only reduce the cost of living but be a substantial material stimulation to the domestic market as a result of reducing the cost.

The Central Bank gets into a state of apoplexy if you increase consumption by raising the total quantity of spendable money available in relation to the quantity of goods, but they rejoice if you raise the standard of living by maintaining the volume of money stable and reduce the cost of goods. Come now. We can bring peace to the restless pillow of the Central Bank. That will appeal to the Minister for Finance. I often wonder if it is his four-wheel cab I see waiting outside the Central Bank. It is an interesting symbol because there is only one public building, I think, inEurope outside which waits a four-wheel cab drawn by an ancient horse and that is the Central Bank. The Minister for Finance is always solicitous of that institution. Here in my proposal is a method to bring peace and calm to the fevered pillow of the Central Bank, to bring down the cost of living and stimulate the domestic market. Would the Minister do it? I will give him 6 to 4 he will not—not at least until he hopes the House will have forgotten that it was I who proposed it and I will give 6 to 1 that by that time he will no longer have power to do it or not to do it.

I will make another constructive proposal. I make no criticism of past performances. We had 20 years of intensive concentration in this country on what we have been pleased to call industrial development with an obbligato from the same inspired sources which alternate between thanking God that the British market for live stock was gone for ever and fierce phillipics against the lazy farmers who would not produce for export to the British market.

The latest variation that we have to deal with is that we are bringing gentlemen from Denmark, Holland and all over the world to tell us how lousy we are, how incompetent we are and how we fall down on the job in the matter of research, modern methods, and everything else. We are all quite oblivious to the fact that for 18 years in this country anyone who dared to have a four-legged beast on his land was regarded as a quasi-traitor. Oh, yes. Deputy Ó Briain smiles at that.

I saw men in this country selling four-year-old cattle for £4 15s. apiece. My colleague, Deputy Mrs. Rice, saw people selling their turkeys in Monaghan for 4d. per lb. We all joined together to send over butter for the British, who eat it at 8d. per lb. and we paid them 6d. per lb. to eat it. We got back nothing but the empty boxes and they eat the butter. It was after that enjoyable 18 years that we found ourselves, in 1948, in the trough of despond and ruin agriculturally. Deputy Ó Briain doubts thatbut I notice that the rest of the faces on the Fianna Fáil benches are not quite as hilarious. They do not forget that in 1948, after 18 years of that, there were less cattle, less pigs and less sheep in Ireland than at any time in the 20th century. Some Deputies will not forget that cattle were dying of starvation on the land they grazed for lack of phosphates.

The Deputy is travelling.

I am, Sir, but I hope I am travelling rapidly towards concrete and constructive proposals asked for by the Minister.

They should be relevant.

I am going to make concrete and constructive proposals in a moment, none of which will be adopted by the Government. If this country is to survive at all, I think we will all agree that we have got to be able to pay for what we import. The purpose of passing this Bill is to provide the Minister for Industry and Commerce with the powers to ensure that that will come to pass and, if it should not, to limit imports, restrict imports. This Bill is habitually used for that purpose. I want to suggest that it should never be used for that end. It should be used to ensure that there shall be exports of volume and value sufficient to permit the enterprising elements of our community to import whatever they require, employ their neighbours to produce and to enjoy the fruit of their own labour. It has been made abundantly clear by the Minister for Industry and Commerce that as regards what he describes as industrial activity he can make no contribution to that end. No industry is in a position to export.

We brought over a team of American surveyors and their answer was —when they were asked to recommend ten commodities ripe and ready to be stimulated for export—very simple, because the answer was there was none. The Minister for Industry and Commerce now regards himself henceforth, not heretofore, as dependingfor his reputation not on how far he succeeds in importing but on how far he succeeds in stimulating exports. He came down on the mineral water bottle manufacturers and informed them, if they were patriotic men, they would stand up and cheer when they were called upon to pay 36/- for bottles which were being sold in Northern Ireland and Great Britain for 22/-. Could he not make an Order prohibiting that? I asked him and he said he would not. Does the Minister for Industry and Commerce deny that it is quite within his power, under this Act, to make such an Order as might be requisite to prevent the continuance of that practice? I suggest he should do it. He says himself that it is the only basis on which industry succeeded in making exports to-day. I want to stimulate exports of a character which place no burden on the domestic consumer but which will ensure that the domestic consumer can have what he requires through the payments earned by the agricultural industry in the export market.

I suggest that the first step might be, in fact, should be, to anticipate the approval of the Congress of the United States for the proposal of the Veterinary and Agricultural Science Institute in this country and go ahead with that so that those services will be available at the earliest possible date. I suggest that a time has come when we should face the fact that the question of fertilisers and seeds is of primary importance in a country the annual rainfall of which is 42 inches as compared with the 22 inches for Denmark and 32 inches for Holland.

I could conceive a Minister under this Bill—the Minister for Agriculture —properly sequestrating to himself in successive years the task of allocating fertilisers, taking each year a different fertiliser, and, on the same principle that we adopted in regard to lime, making in each successive year a particular fertiliser, in which the land is peculiarly deficient, available to farmers on terms which would induce them to use it on a scale heretofore unprecedented. I think that a scheme to that end could be worked out, and in view of the manifest fact that thereis no other source from which to get money to pay for the imports that our people require than the land, I think it would be justifiable seriously to consider emergency measures over the next ten years to bring that land up to the level of fertility requisite to get the production to provide the trade balances which we require. I think that the parish plan should be brought into operation forthwith.

The Deputy knows that he cannot discuss the whole ambit of agricultural policy on this Bill.

Well, what does the Minister for Industry and Commerce mean by constructive proposals?

I have already indicated that that must be done within the terms of this Bill.

Surely the provision of fertilisers for the land, so as to get increased production, must come within that.

If it did, we could discuss everything on this Bill.

That is all very well, but are we not discussing supplies and services? Where else can we get supplies of food other than from the land?

We are discussing supplies and services in respect to the powers given to the Minister in that regard under the terms of this Bill.

And how they should be used. This is the Second Stage of the Bill. Am I not entitled to argue how these powers should be used for the purpose of evoking abundant supplies for the common good?

Not in general. The Deputy cannot travel over the administration of every Government Department under this Bill.

The Tánaiste says: "I hear no constructive proposals." Here is one—the possibility of evokingsupplies and mobilising services for the common good. I am making that constructive proposal, to mobilise services and to get in supplies which are not at present forthcoming, but which could be made to come forth by the user of the powers under this Bill. I know of no more relevant matter than that. If I am told that I cannot discuss these matters generally, but in particular, I have no guide as to what particular I can apply my mind to.

The Deputy will be allowed to discuss any matter that is within the rules of relevancy. The Chair is endeavouring to prevent the administration of Departments being discussed on this Bill, and surely the parish plan is a matter of administration.

Not at all. On the contrary it has been denounced in principle by the present Minister for Agriculture.

It is a matter of administration to be discussed on the Estimate for the Minister's Department.

No. If I tried to do that and to advocate legislation on the Estimate for the Minister's Department he would tell me that he could not do so without an Order under this Bill or without legislation.

The Minister can operate the parish plan under the administration of his Department.

I assure you that he cannot.

The Chair understood that he could. Can it be done under this Bill?

Under what section?

By the making of an Order for the better procurement of supplies and by the introduction of a system of intensive publicity. I invite the Minister for Industry and Commerce to deny that. He canmake an Order strictly within the rules of this Bill declaring that the Minister for Agriculture may incur certain necessary expenditure on the grounds that the purpose of it is to evoke additional supplies.

I cannot authorise the spending of a penny under this by the Minister for Agriculture.

The Minister says that he cannot empower or order the spending of one penny under the parish plan. Deputy Dillon knows that.

Is the Minister contending that he cannot authorise the spending of one penny under this, and is that the certificate that he is giving to the Chair?

The Deputy knows quite well that he is rambling and irrelevant on this measure.

Does the Minister contend that he cannot authorise the spending of a penny under this Bill?


How do you operate your wheat subsidy so?

On a Vote from the Dáil.

Under the authority of this Bill you are entitled to bring in the Estimate in question.

If the Minister brought in an Estimate, I would not be allowed to discuss the desirability of legislation in connection with the parish plan.

The parish plan could be discussed on the Estimate for Agriculture.

Let us not discuss it then; let us leave it at that. I have already mentioned the institute, fertilisers, seeds and the parish plan. The fourth thing that I mentioned was the expansion of artificial insemination. I do not know whether that can be done under this Bill or not. Anurgent and vital necessity is my fifth proposal, namely, the restoration of the land rehabilitation project to its previous vigour and activity. I do not know whether the progeny-testing of pigs and fowl, at present in operation on a limited scale, is relevant to this Bill or not, but I think it should be developed and pursued.

I am sorry that Deputy Hickey is not here because I am now coming to something that is relevant to this Bill, and that is credit for farm buildings and machinery. I want to say, with full deliberation, that this is something to which I have applied my mind not for a month or a year but for a much longer period. If we are going to get effective progress in the equipment of the agricultural industry in this country, the time has come to make the money for that purpose, under approved schemes, available to farmers who use it free of interest. If that is not done, no effective progress is going to be made. I have myself seen in operation from both sides of the table schemes for the erection of farm buildings and the purchase of machinery. I have seen men lay out £500 or £600, and then finding themselves subject to a charge thereafter of £30 per annum in respect of their outlay, only to discover that they would be paying that annual charge in perpetuity, and still just as deeply in debt at the end as they were at the beginning, whereas if the money were applied to a reduction of the capital sum originally borrowed by them, the position would be that in 12 or 13 years they would be free of their debt, and over that period would have been able to produce that much more as a result of the equipment with which they had provided themselves. I am not sure that I would not be prepared to sponsor that proposal, whatever our past history was.

I am quite certain, looking back on the days of Lord Lucan of County Mayo, who, in the vicinity of Castlebar, was known as the great exterminator, that it is right for us, the grandchildren of those whom he sought to exterminate, to tax our resources to ensure that those who hung on and frustrated Bingham's purpose and succeeded inretaining the land for our own people, should have redressed in our time the appalling handicap he sought to hang upon them. It amused me to read some of our own neo-reformers in this our day telling us we ought to give up the idea of farmers owning and running their own holdings, and that we ought to lump the holdings together and ensure that the men who heretofore were little better than peasants would get a regular weekly wage to raise their standard of living. These gentlemen do not know that Bingham, the great exterminator, who filled the workhouse of Castlebar until the floors and passages were covered with men, women and children, was the first prophet to enunciate that doctrine in Ireland. He thought there were too many of the dirty Irish in County Mayo, and the only way to deal with them was to clean them off the land and group their paltry little holdings into decent farms and bring in industrious Scottish men to run these farms and employ the Irish. Bingham first proposed that in Ireland, and I make the suggestion that they ought to get a portrait of Lord Lucan and get a buttonhole made of it.

What Bill is this?

Deputy Allen would not know whom I was talking about. I am talking about Bingham. If the Deputy knew as much about the history of the West of Ireland as I do he would not be asking his neighbour who was Bingham.

I did not. I asked what Bill this was.

Cross your heart and hope to die, do you know who Bingham was or do you know B from a bull's foot? There is not one in the whole Fianna Fáil Party who knows about this.

This is not relevant to the Supplies and Services Bill.

I was talking about credit for farm buildings and I was suggesting that under this Bill we could devise a plan whereby it wouldbe made available free of interest. This is a modest proposal which would not cost very much.

Who killed Cock Robin?

Poor silly Deputy Allen would greet its adoption or its rejection with the eloquent interjection: "Who killed Cock Robin?" so we need not worry for his peace of mind. That is the seventh proposal I have to make. The eighth proposal I have to make is, I think, of equal value. Seventy years ago, mark the date, there was a geological survey proceeding in this country. A Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer came to the conclusion that economy for the benefit of the British Exchequer required that the geological survey in Ireland should be suspended because if the drain on the Exchequer continued they might have to stop the survey in England. Therefore, the geological survey in Ireland was stopped, and it never was started again. We have some very competent officers for this purpose, but there is a standing injunction to do nothing at all because there is no money with which to do it. We are still eloquently repeating the observation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of 1883. The Fianna Fáil Deputies are itching in their seats to say: "What did you do about it"? I did plenty and only for the disaster of Fianna Fáil scrambling back to office on the backs of the three tulips, the busted flush, who have now dwindled away to a lonely joker——

This has no relation to the Bill.

I did attempt to procure an aerial survey of Ireland. There has been an aerial survey made of Great Britain and, I think, of almost every square mile of inhabited land in the world except Ireland. We had estimates prepared to have that survey made and the usual skirmishes were going on with the Department of Finance to procure the money. That is the eighth of my proposals for the rapid expansion of supplies in this country, that the Minister for Industryand Commerce should resume the geological survey of the whole country, that he should renew the peripatetic ordnance survey and that he should direct the completion forthwith of an early photographic survey of the country.

All these things could materially contribute to the increase of supplies. I might warn him that if he tries to have the aerial survey made he will be obstructed by obscurantist elements in certain divisions of the Department of Defence. If he puts his foot on their face as effectively as he puts it upon the face of his colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, I have no doubt they will be quickly expunged from the scene, but I am not so sure that he is willing to put his foot on the face of his fellow-townsman, the Minister for Defence, as he seems so happy to do, whenever opportunity arises, with his colleague, the Minister for Agriculture.

I feel that is a good series of constructive suggestions. There is not one of them that would not produce immediate and striking results. However, it is a comment on the kind of Government we have that we may be virtually certain that none of them will be adopted. I look forward with amazement to the contribution which the Government proposes to make to the solution of our economic difficulties. We are to borrow large sums of money for the purpose of rebuilding Dublin Castle and the Naas Road.

Let us observe the situation. Three years ago our problem was that there was a shortage of labour. We had actually to bring skilled operatives back from Great Britain, induce them to come in order effectively to mobilise the building industry here. Within three short years we are shipping the timber for building out of the country and we are using the Supplies and Services Act to start relief works in the City of Dublin and throughout the country. Is it not astonishing that Fianna Fáil now considers it one of its great achievements to say to the public: "Have no anxiety. We are going to continue relief works for the next five years"? One of the relief works, he said, is that we will spend an unascertained number of millionsrebuilding Dublin Castle. I saw the model of the plan they had to rebuild Dublin Castle. It lay in the ante-room to the Government meeting-room in Government Buildings for two years. I think the model cost £1,500 to make. It would occupy a large diningroom table. Our advice was that originally the rebuilding was estimated to cost £4,000,000 but it was more likely to cost £9,000,000—if undertaken in 1950.

Conceive the feelings of the people of this city when I am stopped by a friend of mine living in this city who has a good job as a motor mechanic at a fair salary and who tells me that he was up all last week chasing rats off the baby's cradle in one tenement room in the City of Dublin. He says it is not a question of his not being able to afford a house. He wants to rent a house and he is prepared to show what he is earning weekly and that he has saved a sufficiency to guarantee that his rent will be paid for any reasonably forseeable period. There is not a house to be got, he says. "Oh, that could not be," I said. He told me he has a wife and two children—one child is three and the other rising one in the cradle. I rang up the Dublin Corporation and said: "Here is a man with a wife and two children, living in one tenement room; he is not getting a right night's sleep trying to protect the baby from the rats." No one could have been more courteous than the city authorities, but their answer to me was: "Mr. Dillon, there is no question of considering him for a house; we have not yet dealt with the people who are living five and six in one room." Is not that right?

That is true.

They said: "We are only coming to them; a man living four in a room cannot be given a promise that we will consider his case for 18 months to two years." Now, that is the context in which we are going to spend £9,000,000 on building the castle. Are we all gone daft altogether? Can you imagine the feelings of an unfortunate man who has the wages to pay the rent and who wants nothing but the opportunity of getting a house and paying rent for it so that he mayhave accommodation for his wife and children and be able to get a good night's sleep, when he is told that his case will not be considered for 18 months or two years? But we are going to start work on the Castle forthwith—we have £9,000,000 to spend on it. Can you imagine that fellow, when he turns in despair to see if he could not build a house for himself, and goes to the local authority and says: "Tell me how I would go about getting a loan under the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act; I know a neighbour who got one and who is paying 22/- a week." The local authority says: "Yes, that man borrowed a couple of years ago but the same loan from the same local authority over the same term of years will cost you 34/- now." Can you imagine the exasperation of the average working man to whom the tale is told? When he goes to recite that to someone who wants to create trouble in our community, his exasperation is inflamed by being told: "Stay in your tenement rooms; they are going to rebuild the castle; they have finished Áras Mhic Dhiarmada, and when the castle is finished they will see about you and the baby and the rats."

What a metamorphosis has come over the country? Three years ago, I am proud to think, two things took precedence over everything else in the economic life of Ireland—the rehabilitation of the land and the housing of the people. Three short years, and these two projects are supplanted by Dublin Castle and the Naas Road. Three short years ago there was nearly full employment in this country, and now the Government glories in the fact that they forecast abundant relief works for the next five years. They are tearing up the tram rails, they are cleaning the Dodder, Glory Halleluiah! Ireland is on the march—down the Dodder and up the tram rails!

What has happened to them? Is it something to be ashamed of that we want to build houses for our own people? Is it something to be ashamed of that we were able to give the smallest, poorest farmer in Ireland facilities equal to those of the richestlanded proprietor in Europe? Did the results not show that our policy not only paid dividends in social amenities for our own people but in hard cash for the benefit of the economic life of the country? Why have we substituted for that, relief works, Dublin Castle and the Naas Road?

Ask Deputy Sweetman.

I am asking Fianna Fáil, together with all their recent recruits. Dublin Castle and the Naas Road— while there is many a citizen living in one room with a wife and two children and no place else to go. Does Deputy Allen think that is right? He will not say yes and he will not say no. You remember the person who would blow neither hot nor cold and what he was deemed fit for?

Is it not possible for the building of Dublin Castle and the housing to go on side by side?

I do not see that. I am told by the municipal authority there is no hope of considering anyone living with a wife and children, four in a room, for 18 months or two years.

The corporation is building over 2,000 houses a year.

Does the Deputy not think more could be done if we concentrated our resources on housing the people first, before turning to build Dublin Castle, Áras Mhic Dhiarmada, or any such monster?

The corporation is doing its level best—2,000 a year.

I do not think so, with all respect to the Deputy, for whose intervention I have respect. I do not blame the corporation; I blame the Government.

The question of housing can be raised on the Estimate. It does not seem to be relevant to Supplies and Services.

If I have the supplies and the services and put them down on Áras Mhic Dhiarmada and DublinCastle, how can I have them to erect houses for my friend, who has a wife and two children, living in one tenement room? If that is not "supplies and services". I am blowed if I know what it is.


The poor, innocent Tánaiste cannot see the connection at all.

I never heard such damn nonsense in this Dáil in 25 years.

How chastening it is to listen to it now! The Minister would not understand it, of course, but when the Minister has had time to think it over he may understand it.

We know what is on.

What is Deputy Allen's illuminating contribution?

We know what is on.

I will read now for the Minister an extract from his favourite bible, the Report of the Central Bank of Ireland for the year ending 31st March, 1953. At page 17 the following appears:—

"There seems to be a desire prevalent in many sections of the community to insulate their particular sectors of the economy from the effects of changes in the outside world. With that object, agricultural and industrial prices are inflated beyond economic levels by means of guarantees, subsidies, quotas, tariffs and other arrangements. In a number of occupations, wage rates are higher than those in Great Britain and, unless these rates are offset by superior productivity, the prospects of developing an industrial export trade are not bright. Money incomes in many spheres have continued to expand without a corresponding rise in output, and so have tended to inflate domestic costs, thus reducing our ability to compete in foreign markets and lessening the attractiveness of the country as a field for investment and for tourism."

I do not often agree with the directorsof the Central Bank, but it is nearly time the Tánaiste came to brood on that paragraph.

I want to ask the House now a question I asked before. It is all right to raise the price of wheat, for that is something within the discreation of our own people; if our own people choose to pay £3,000,000 per annum extra for wheat grown at home, that is their own business and they have a perfect right to do so. That is what home grown wheat is costing us this year. Next year, if we have 4,000,000 barrels it will cost us £4,000,000. But that is our own business. That is something we can settle for ourselves. I want to remind the House, however, that if one is trying to produce, or if one is seeking to evoke supplies to be sold on foreign markets one is committing economic suicide if artificially one pushes up the cost of one's raw material, because no amount of hard work will offset an arbitrary increase in the cost of the raw materials on which our people have to work.

I told the House before, and I tell it again now, that I negotiated a trade agreement in London in 1951 and I am glad to see that Mr. Stanley Evans, a member of the British House of Commons, speaking on that matter yesterday in the British House of Commons, said that Mr. Dillon—and, strangely enough, he linked me with Mr. Péron—spent his time beating the British Minister for Food about the head and face——

With eggs?

——to get a price which Mr. Stanley Evans thought was too big. By heaven, if I beat them about the face and head with eggs, devil a much eggs they will be "bet" about the head and face with now. But I do not mind that. I told them that if they brought the price of eggs down they would get no cheap eggs from Ireland.

The 1951 Trade Agreement in relation to pork, bacon and pigs linked the prices payable for Irish pigs, bacon and pork to the prices payable for pork, bacon and pigs to the British farmer. I knew when I made thatagreement that the price paid to the British farmer was based on an index founded on the price of feeding stuffs and I reckoned that if the price of feeding stuffs came down in Great Britain it must come down in Ireland because we were both depending on the same sources of supply. The cost of imported feeding stuffs into Great Britain has come down twice in the last six months and there have been two consequential reductions in the price of pork, pigs and bacon in Great Britain and both these reductions have been reflected in the prices paid for these articles in this country. Over the same period the price of feeding stuffs has been artificially kept up here. Maize is being quoted for December shipment in the Irish ports to-day at £26 per ton and Indian meal is being sold at £38 a ton to the feeder. The price of that Indian meal ought to be 29/- or 30/- per cwt. There is a surcharge maintained on the price of feeding stuffs in this country by our own Government at the present time of at least 6/- per cwt. on a balanced ration. If one reckons that it takes 8 cwt. to feed a pig from birth to 12 stone weight that means that there is a levy of £2 8s. per pig.

I warn the Minister there is not that much profit in pigs and if there is an artificial levy imposed on every pig produced in the West and South-West for the benefit of farmers in another part of the country what will happen is what happened here before. Pigs will disappear and, remember, pigs will not come back again if they disappear. It was a hard, bitter fight to persuade the farmers to get into pigs again. If that trick is played on them another time, if the number of pigs rises and they eventually produce an exportable surplus and prices are allowed to crash or their profits are extinguished by the costs of production, while they have no means of raising their prices correspondingly, they will get out of pigs; and, if they get out of pigs for a third time, all the king's horses and all the king's men will not get them back into pigs again.

How is the question of pigs relevant to supplies and services? Would that notarise on the Estimate for the Department of Agriculture?

Because, Sir, it is this foolish man and his colleagues who are juggling about with the prices of feeding stuffs through the medium of this very instrument we are now discussing.

This has nothing whatever to do with it.

Rubbish! Nonsense! The glib way he says that and he admitted a few minutes ago that the whole flour subsidy machinery is operated under this Act.

I said nothing of the sort.

He is quite willing to say anything. He is prepared to contradict himself three times in the one afternoon and trust to Providence that everyone has forgotten what he said. The Chair may take it from me that this is relevant. I want to warn the House that the continued use of this legislation for the purpose of creating artificial conditions will end in irretrievable disaster. There is no getting away from that. There is only one hope for this country and that is to clear out the whole ging-bang lot. If one considers the question as to whether or not powers of this character ought to be put into the hands of this Government, the answer is categorically "No", for they are so preoccupied with fighting one another and struggling for the succession that they have no thought of anything else.

Certainly that is not relevant.

The House is being asked: Should we give these powers to this Government? The answer is "No" because they are so busy struggling for leadership they have no time to consider these important matters. Since the Tánaiste and the Minister for External Affairs fought one another to a standstill and the Minister for Health, Dr. Ryan, has become favourite for the succession, "General Chaos" has taken command.

This has nothing to do with supplies and services, and the Deputy should relate his remarks to the Bill.

Deputy Dillon should put this to music and make a ballad out of it.

Does not every Deputy on that side know that that is true?

Since you say it, we do.

Look at him blushing so prettily. I say the Minister is incompetent in the use of these powers. The Minister for External Affairs is manifestly incompetent to use these powers. The Minister for Agriculture will not be let use these powers. The Minister for Health is too lazy to use these powers. These are all good reasons why these Ministers should not be given these powers. They are an incompetent, quarrelsome lot. They have wrought havoc on this country on three separate occasions and on every occasion they have passed the buck to someone else to clean up the mess they have made and, one way or another, they have managed always to find some dross to hawk them back into office. They have now got back into office with the help of the three bluebells that they have now swallowed and are in process of digesting.

The Deputy is travelling wide of the Bill.

Can I not discuss the competence of these fellows to have these powers? Can I not describe their incompetence? Is it not relevant, or is it relevant, that everybody knows they are so incompetent that there is no need to argue the question any longer? You cannot laugh that off. There is nobody left to laugh at but yourselves. It is the record of the Fianna Fáil Party that is under examination in this House. It is a shocking one. In many ways it is a laughable record, but it is a record that Fianna Fáil should not laugh at; they should cry. If these men are got rid of at a reasonably early date, the powers contained in this Act can justifiablybe sought from Parliament in the times in which we live. I am not so sure that the Minister is right in his pious affirmation that at the end of 15 months the Government are finally and absolutely resolved to wind these powers up. Something has happened to the Minister. I suppose it is what happens to every other mediocre man —he was a socialist when he was young and he grows more Tory with the passage of the years.

He was a Republican.

There was a time when I would sooner be a Republican than a Spanish-American external relation.

If the Deputy has nothing to say on the Bill he should resume his seat.

I have plenty to say on the Bill, and I have said a damn sight more on this Bill than a lot of the Deputies that I have listened to. I am talking now of the competence of that man to exercise the powers he is asking for under this Bill.

Surely "man" has not become a term of opprobrium in this House. His worst enemy would not forbear to call him a man.

He took a man's part in the struggle for freedom—what you did not do.

I am not saying anything about that. We will not argue about that to-day. I am suggesting that the Ministers of the Government might for the moment look back to their more radical days and inquire if this Tory passion for uncontrolled, free enterprise should entirely dictate their daily thought. There are powers in this Bill which, situated as we are, a Government might properly want and might properly have. Everything a Government does under this Bill is subject to the review of this House. I am not one of those who share the conviction that all delegated authority is intolerable because anyone who has experience of government now knowsthat government in a modern State could not be carried on without such delegated authority. What is important is that this House should retain its right to review whatever is done under delegated authority. We have that right and we should preserve it. But if you abolish all these and bring in a whole series of Bills to try permanently to replace these powers you may discover that you are setting up a forest of Bills in the place of this instrument which it will be subsequently very difficult to bring under control.

I ask the House to remember that when the Restrictive Trade Practices Bill was before this House I warned the House that if they passed the Bill in its present form, giving the vested interest a right under it to seek to have fair rules of trade approved, the Bill would become, not an instrument of liberation for the consumer, but an additional padlock on the chains in which the vested interest seeks to tie him up. Was not I right? There has not been a single reference to this fair trade tribunal of an alleged abuse, but there have been about 17 applications from vested interests to have schedules of fair trading practices approved so that thereafter no citizen will dare to object.

The Deputy is now discussing another Bill.

Exactly and by analogy. I want to point out where we are going.

That has no relation to the Supplies and Services Bill before the House.

Every Bill has a certain relation to another inasmuch as all of them have a consequence. I am suggesting to the House that if we abandon this Bill with the power of review which is inherent in Dáil Éireann and substitute for it a whole series of Bills which will subsequently become Acts, designed to furnish forth each Minister of the Government with the powers he wants in lieu of the powers that he has declined in this Act, we will see a forest of statutes the outcome of whichmay be far different from what this House believes it to be.

Bear in mind what has happened in the case of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act. It is not a Restrictive Trade Practices Act any longer. It is a restrictive consumers Act, under which charters will be established for the protection of trades from consumers, not of consumers from trades. I would suggest to the Government that they might think again before the end of this debate with a view at least to qualifying the Tánaiste's unqualified undertaking to abolish this Act before the end of 15 months. We may all have bitter reason to regret such a decision if we take it.

The Minister said that up to the time Deputy Blowick was speaking he had received no constructive proposals. I have now made to him 11 separate constructive proposals, any one of which would be an improvement on the programme of this Government. I will make an even more constructive proposal before I sit down: resign quick; get out.

That is what you would wish.

I ask them to do no more than this—come to the country——

In our own time.

——and ask them to pass judgment on the patch-work quilt with the four bluebells embroidered upon it and the slippery joker left weeping alone. Nobody will inquire why the Senator who has joined your organisation is not on the hustings.

The Deputy is discussing matters that are not in the Bill.

I wish to give notice that with your permission I shall raise the subject-matter of Question No. 25 on to-day's Order Paper on the adjournment to-night.

The matter will be considered and the Deputy will be informed.

What is the subject-matter of Question No. 25?

Find out.

That is very polite. Charming creature. On a point of order. Is it permissible for a Deputy at this stage of our proceedings to give such notice? Is not such notice, which refers to the naval dockyard at Haulbowline and some bargain that Deputy Corry thought he had made with the Government and which has not come off, given after Question Time?

Read the Standing Orders.

Deputy Corry is in order until 8.30 p.m. in giving notice to the Chair of intention to raise a question.

But not to the House.

I will teach the Deputy a few more things before I am finished. I wonder if the unfortunate individual whom Deputy Dillon was bewailing with regard to his housing position here this evening had a house in 1945, or was the housing position in this country better in 1945 than it is now? I think that is a fair question, for in 1945 Deputy Dillon proposed here in the House the borrowing of some millions of pounds for the purpose of building a new Dáil Éireann. He entered into a long wail at that time as to the condition of the present House, the room that was in it, and the facilities in it for Deputies; and he wound it up by telling us about all the beetles that were in the roof at that time. I do not think that our housing programme was as well advanced in 1945 as it is now, but Deputy Dillon evidently thought then that we should spend some millions on the erection of a new Dáil which he afterwards endeavoured to father off on the Fianna Fáil Party or Government.

They do not like the Castle.

Deputies should go down and read it. In the 1945 Official Report they can read it all.

I know that Deputy Dillon is very much upset and saddened in regard to those loans for farm buildings. He was saddened when he gave up another plan that he had, a plan under which the farmer was to accept a bob a gallon for his milk and which had a very severe effect on supplies even up to the present when we had 157,000 milch cows disappearing in 12 months due to the activities of Deputy James Dillon and his offer to the farmers of this country of a reduction of 3d. per gallon in the price of their milk. I am well aware of Deputy Dillon's anxiety as shown here to-day and his worry, because the agricultural community were going in wholeheartedly for the Fianna Fáil tillage policy. I know his anxiety and worry of mind when he told us that beet was gone up the spout after the wheat, and I can imagine the upset it must be to him having to read in the papers that there was an increase of some 12,000 or 13,000 acres of beet this year, and that there is going to be an increase this year as a result of Fianna Fáil policy of some 200,000 tons of beet to the factories with resultant employment. I can imagine the misery that that must be to the individual who sent over to Cuba and out to Czechoslovakia for the sugar. I can also imagine the worry it must be to him whose boast and delight was that the beet was gone up the spout after the wheat and the peat. I can well imagine the worry it must have been to Deputy Dillon that there were produced in this country this year something like 80,000 or 90,000 extra acres of wheat. I can well imagine the worry it must be to him, and the upset it must be to his applecart, after the three and a half years he spent endeavouring to wipe out of existence that tillage policy. I can well imagine the worry that must be to him. This is not, I admit, the time for going into those particular matters.

You are quite right.

But Deputy Dillon succeeded in getting pretty far into them and I think other Deputies are entitled to follow.

The Deputy might relate his remarks to the Bill before the House.

That is very complimentary to the Chair.

So were the remarks of Deputy Dillon on that matter. I would like to assure the Minister for Industry and Commerce that that policy of increased production on the land is going to continue and that there will be further increased acreage of both wheat and beet next year. The agricultural community have always held to one dictum, that it was the duty of the farmers of this country to provide food for our own people.

Deputy Dillon stated that there was a loss of £3,000,000 because the people of this country grew wheat this year. That was his statement here, that we could not grow it as cheap as on the foreign market. That was just in keeping with the Deputy who made the very self-same statement in this House a few years ago as regards beet, and told us that he did not know how long the people of this country were going to continue on a policy of producing their own sugar which was costing the people £3,000,000 each year. Evidently the £3,000,000 has gone up where the beet was going. He stuck to that, and as a result of the manner in which he dealt with the beet industry he found himself two years afterwards having to go out to the foreigner and to pay the foreigner for 74,000 tons of sugar, £12 per ton more than for Irish sugar produced in the Irish factories here. That is rather a change. Deputy Dillon's policy has been tried by the agricultural community and was found wanting, and he got the high-road and the wattle on account of it. Now he comes in here endeavouring to bring forward the very self-same policy again, bewailing the production of wheat, bewailing the production and manufacture of our own sugar. Then he came along on the beet. Why? Because he wanted to kill now the market that the Irish farmer has found in this country for feeding barley, because he wants againto have a market in this country for foreign maize.

You would not need any land at all for the policy as preached by Deputy Dillon. All you want is one big yard into which you will shove the pigs and get the foreign material, foreign grain, in and feed them in the yard. You would not want any land, and it could be devoted fully to being the fruitful mother of flocks and herds and the production of beef for Britain. That was the policy that Deputy Dillon, with the help of Fine Gael and the Labour Party, set himself to carry out in this country for three and a half years. We have seen the result of it. Now we are on the march back. We are back again, not through any compulsion but through the free action of the people and the agricultural community of this country in the production of food for our own people. Against the best market for beef that existed in this country for many years the wheat and the beet are proving more attractive propositions to the farmers. So much for that.

I wish to protest against the manner in which Deputy Dillon has succeeded in insulting certain Deputies of this House. He comes up here and talks about the bursted flush and all the rest of this kind of vilification of certain Deputies.

Deputy Dillon was informed by the Chair that those matters were not relevant and should not be discussed on the Bill.

All I wish to say about them is this—that those Deputies were the cause of a general election in this country because they opposed Fine Gael policy here. They were not elected to this House on the inter-Party ticket but as Deputies standing against the inter-Party interests.

Deputy Corry should come back to the Bill.

I do not wish to go further into it than to say that the people of this country—and the agricultural community, in particular —were very grateful and very thankfulfor getting rid of Deputy James Dillon as Minister for Agriculture.

I do not want to cover the wider aspects of our whole economy on this Bill. In so far as I raise economic matters, it will only be in relation to the Bill which is now before the House.

In his opening speech, the Minister told us that the Government propose, by 1955, to introduce some permanent price control machinery. I must say I was surprised that the Minister deferred the introduction of permanent price control machinery until then because, in this House in 1950, the Minister made a peevish and intemperate speech about the uselessness of the Supplies and Services Bill of that year, saying that it was quite unnecessary and unwanted and that, in fact, it should be scrapped and permanent price legislation introduced in its place. Although that statement was made in this House in 1950 by the present Minister when he was sitting on the Opposition Benches, we are now told by him that it will be 1955—five years after that speech was made by the Minister from the Opposition Benches—before we see the permanent price legislation.

In view of the length of time which has elapsed since the Minister stated that the Supplies and Services Bill is unnecessary and unwanted and that it should be scrapped and permanent price legislation introduced in its stead, I do not know whether we shall see that legislation by the year 1955 or what the character of the legislation is likely to be. I have an unhappy feeling about price legislation and all the talk we have heard about price legislation over the past two years. We can see clearly that the Government are slipping away, day by day and month by month, from their responsibility for the regulation of prices in this country.

Week after week and month after month, Price Control Orders have been repealed. Week after week and month after month, something else is taken out of the control of the Prices Sectionof the Department of Industry and Commerce. Now, a whole collection of commodities have been allowed to ride free of any control or any effective supervision by the Department of Industry and Commerce—and we are going to have a further period of 18 months of it. How much of the remnants of price control will be here at the end of 18 months it is not possible, at this stage, to forecast. If the Government continue to shed responsibility for price control in the next 18 months as they have, in an accelerated way, shed that responsibility over the past two years, I venture to say that, 18 months hence, there will hardly be a Price Control Order in operation at all.

I am one of those people who believed, and still believe, that price control is imperative. It is imperative not merely in the general public interest but particularly in the case of those sections of our community who are compelled to live on subsistence standards. Price levels for them are not the basis of a mere academic discussion. Price levels for them determine the standard of living in their homes. If the Government adopt the attitude that price control is unnecessary and can easily be relinquished then for those people there will be a still bleaker outlook in the future than that which exists to-day.

If price control is necessary, price supervision is even more imperative. One may say that there is a sufficiency of goods on the market to ensure availability of supplies, but we must not forget that it is possible for groups and rings so to orientate themselves as to fix prices on the market at levels which give them an unreasonable return on their money. These days, people are struggling to make ends meet, to get the best possible value for meagre wages and to see that they get access to the sweet things of life. It is highly desirable that no group and no ring should feel that it is outside the range of supervision and control so far as price levels are concerned. Nobody will attempt to deny that the public confidence in price control, as exercised by the present Government during the past two years,has been rudely shaken. The public have a feeling that the Government have thrown away from their own control the range of supervision which, during the past two years, at least assured the public that their interests would be protected in some measure against the rapacity of those who wanted to exact the highest possible price for anything they produced or sold.

I do not think it will be easy for the Minister or the Government to ride away from what should be their obvious responsibility—that is, to give the public an efficient system of price regulation, price control and, above all, price supervision so as to ensure that there will be no exploitation of the public and especially of the weakest and most defenceless section of the community. Price control and price supervision are necessary for other reasons also. Of course, the public do not take a deep and scholarly interest in the factors which affect price levels nor in the factors which go to make the ultimate wholesale and retail prices. All they know is that every time prices rise and wages remain static, their standard of living is correspondingly reduced. In the public interest, as well as from the point of view of promoting a wider knowledge of the factors which enter into price control and price regulation, I think there ought to be a permanent prices tribunal which, from time to time, would be asked to examine price levels in particular industries and, by means of a public hearing, to hold a full examination of all the factors which are involved in the fixation of prices.

In that way, the public would be enabled to appreciate the factors which are at work and which ultimately determine the prices which they pay for the commodities which they purchase. I hope that when the Minister is replying to this debate he will give us some more information in respect of the future character of the price control machinery than we have got from him so far. At most, we have an idea that, by 1955, some type of machinery will be produced. We have heard rather vague references to a Bill which the Minister introduced in thisHouse many years ago and which he subsequently abandoned. I think the Title of the Bill was the Price Regulation and Efficiency Bill. Beyond a vague reference to that Bill, and an intimation that we will see some kind of price regulation machinery in 18 months' time, we have no idea whatever of the direction in which the Government's mind is travelling, but we do know that, every day, the Government are shedding more and more of the responsibility which, previously, they had in regard to price control. I do not think it would be irrational to bet or prophesy to-day that when this Bill goes through both Houses of the Oireachtas, more Price Control Orders will be repealed.

It has lately become fashionable at dinners, functions and other occasions, for Ministers to talk in terms of approval and pride of what they describe as "price stability." What is the basis for all this ranting about price stability?

What are the facts about price stability to-day? Can anybody deny that prices are higher to-day than they have ever been in the past 30 years? Do the Government's figures issued by the Central Statistics Office not prove that the prices of commodities to-day are higher than they were in 1923, 30 years ago? Does everybody not know to-day that prices are higher in Ireland than at any time of peace in living memory? Never before in times of peace have we hit the price level we have hit to-day. In face of these unchallengeable facts, we get people preening themselves that we have reached price stability. We are now expected to take pride in the fact that we are paying 4/2 for butter that we could buy a couple of years ago for 2/10, but because we get the privilege of paying 4/2 for it, and have had that privilege regularly, constantly and with stability for the past 16 months, we are obliged to believe that there is a virtue in the stability which makes us pay 4/2 for 2/10 butter. That is called price stability.

We have another privilege to-day, of course, masquerading under the euphemism of price stability, that thepeople are now paying 5/- a lb. for 2/8 tea. They have been paying that 5/- a lb. for it for the past 16 months, and now they are told to cheer up, to forget their wounds and their sorrows because we have reached price stability, which takes the form of having to pay 5/- a lb. for 2/8 tea, or, as Deputy Byrne says, 9d. for the loaf they could get 18 months ago for 6d. Then we have people saying that is price stability. Would it not be a damned good job if we had no price stability, if that is what is masquerading as price stability—gearing prices up to this high level and telling the people that they ought to be glad they have that stability?

Let us look at the stability we have. I asked a question recently to ascertain the number of commodities that had varied in price since 14th June, 1951. A natural kindness and regard for the feelings of Deputies prevents me going completely through this document, but it is a document of six pages showing increases in prices since June, 1951, which is pretty good going in a short period. What is the range of commodities which have increased in price? I will not go through them all; I will be satisfied to touch on those that affect the ordinary man and woman. This document shows increases in sweets, milk, peas, yeast, fuel, petrol, paraffin oil, methylated spirits, coal, coke, electricity, gas, cigarettes, tobacco, agricultural machinery, bicycles, and various kinds of building materials. There is a source of consolation in the fact, as the House will be glad to hear, that one firm has reduced the price of pot scourers by 3/6 a gross on the wholesale price. Other commodities which have gone up in price are sewing threads, slates, tablet soap, springs of all kinds, steel of all kinds and tiles.

Coming to the food and drink group, we find that these are up in price: ale, beer, stout, whiskey, bread, flour and wheaten meal, creamery butter, cheese, cocoa, condensed milk, cream milk, unsweetened condensed milk, sugar and oatmeal. In face of these increases, what is the purpose of telling us that we have reached stability?Has this Government in the past two years not been responsible for lifting the price level in that short period by a percentage which has not applied to any other period of two years since this State was formed 31 years ago? In face of these facts, it seems to me to be nothing short of a cynical mockery of the people's sufferings that we should be talking about price stability at the same time and in the same year as the Government issues that long litany of price increases inflicted on the community by the policy of the Department and the policy of the Government.

Does everybody not know perfectly well that it is harder to live to-day for the ordinary man and woman than it has ever been in the past 30 years? At a recent meeting of the Sick and Indigent Roomkeepers' Society in Dublin, references were made by people, who are not members of political Parties but religious, indicating that there was widespread unemployment and poverty in this city. Anybody with any connection with these charitable organisations knows that their funds now are not capable of alleviating one tithe of the distress they are called upon to relieve in consequence of the worsening economic situation.

Let us look at the plight of those of our people who are compelled to exist on social welfare benefits. Thanks to this Government's policy of increasing prices by more than 20 per cent. in the past two years, grievous hardships have been inflicted on many helpless men and women and young children up and down this country. Take the case of the old age pensioner and relate the position of that man or woman to the problem of endeavouring to exist on the meagre pittances which they receive to-day under our social welfare legislation. According to an answer by the Taoiseach in the House, on the 1939 value the £ is now 8/7. The old age pensioner to-day receives as a maximum 21/6, and interpreting that sum in terms of 1939 purchasing power, that person is living to-day on less than he or she had in 1939. In other words, although the old age pensioner of 1939 had an old age pension of 10/-,which nobody was prepared to say was adequate for that person's requirements, to-day, because of the increase in the cost of living, that person is trying to exist on a purchasing power which is less than that of 1939.

Take then the case, in relation to prices, of widows and orphans. The new maximum widows' and orphans' pension, the pension paid to a widow with two children, is 38/- a week. Thanks to the rise in the price level, that person is now getting in terms of 1939 purchasing power no more than 18/- per week. Nobody will say that was a reasonable competence on which to expect a person to exist in 1939, and yet to-day we are giving that person only 18/- per week in terms of 1939 purchasing power to sustain herself and her two children.

When you move from that into the other categories of human beings dependent on our social services, you find the very same catastrophic effects on their economy. Their standard of living has been debased. Their efforts to exist are efforts which inflict upon them intense pain and suffering. I should like in that connection to refer to a letter which I received from a constituent this evening asking could she get any home assistance. Her husband is 73 years of age and she is 68. The two of them are living on 21/6 a week. I endeavoured to get home assistance for this poor unfortunate soul and the home assistance officer, when he visited her, asked her had she any live stock and how she fed the live stock. She had not as much as a hare on her bit of ground. She says in the letter that last week she had to pay 14/11 for a shirt for her husband and 3/10 for two ounces of tobacco. "You can imagine," she says, "how much I would have for feeding live stock, seeing that I have got to spend these two amounts out of 21/6 a week." It is idle to pretend that we have a healthy economy while you have cases like that. They can be duplicated up and down the country in every city and town, and furnish a clear indication that there is much yet to be done before we can view with any optimistic complacency the economic position of this country to-day. I think it is no wonder thatin consequence of the rise in price levels we have had an aggravation of the whole unemployment position.

Documents issued to Deputies in the past few days contain some startling news. We see that in the week from the 24th to the 31st October the number of unemployed in that week alone had risen by 8,000—8,000 up in consequence of the termination of the Employment Period Order.

It is 3,000 lower than it was this week last year.

We shall come to that in a second. They are all your figures. We are now in the position in which we have approximately 60,000 unemployed and, mind you, the whole effect of the repeal of the Employment Period Order has not yet been manifested in these figures. Next week the figures unfortunately will be up again. The fact that we have 60,000 unemployed is a clear indication of how much solid work remains to be done, if we are going to rid ourselves of this cancerous disease of unemployment which is having such an appalling effect on the whole national economy. I think every Deputy, particularly Deputies who represent rural areas, will have no hesitation in acknowledging the fact that there is growing unemployment in the rural areas. In my own constituency there are places in which there are very large numbers of unemployed, places where three years ago the problem was how to take unemployment schemes in rotation because it was not possible to line up sufficient unemployed there to work at the time. Deputy Dr. Humphreys, I am glad to see, is in the House. He knows Castledermot well. I venture to say that if he stops there on his way home this week and asks anybody in the town why the number of unemployed there is so large, he will be told it is going up. If he looks at the number registered at the Carlow Unemployment Exchange, he will find a different picture there from that which existed three years ago.

Let us look at the figures to see if, even by comparision, there is any cause for jubiliation. On the 5th Novemberthe figures were 59,390. On the 1st November, 1951, they were 53,580— practically 6,000 fewer than this year. On the 4th November, 1950, the figures were 50,600 so to-day we have about 9,000 more people unemployed according to the Government's own figures, than we had in 1950.

And many more emigrants.

That is the point I want to come to—all this, in face of the fact that emigration continues to rise at an alarming rate.

How does this arise on the Supplies and Services Bill?

In this way, that because of the general policy of increasing prices we have a situation in which people cannot buy the barest necessaries of life, much less the embroideries of life, although the purchase of these embroideries formerly gave a substantial employment to a considerable number of people. So long as we have our economy geared to a high price level, while doing nothing to take up the sag of unemployment, the whole economic fabric of the nation must suffer.

The discussion on supplies and services has always necessarily involved a review of the economic position from a prices and unemployment point of view, and, of course, as you probably know, Sir, on the Supplies and Services Bill last year, the whole matter was freely discussed. I do not want to develop it to any great extent now. I refer to it only from the point of view of showing the very serious economic position and the necessity for endeavouring so to bend our economy that, by an intelligent price policy, married to an intelligent economic policy, we can provide regular employment for our people under a price economy which does not impose on our people the staggering burdens inflicted upon them to-day.

The situation in respect of unemployment is high-lighted by the very serious position which has arisen in the past 12 months in respect to agriculturalemployment alone. I do not say that this is directly due to Government policy. This is a tendency which has been manifested for some years, but the tendency is now manifesting itself in more alarming proportions. The Government figures show that, comparing June, 1953, with June, 1952, there has been a decline of almost 22,000 in the number of males employed on the land. If we had a healthy industrial position that would, nevertheless, be a cause of grave concern, but with an industrial position which affords no ground for satisfaction from any standpoint, it is alarming to find that in one year alone 20,000 males should have shed work on the land. That is an economic portent which I think is not of healthy significance for the nation.

If by mentioning these facts one can induce Ministers to recognise the seriousness of the situation and the need for action, there is some value in these discussions. But I have before me a copy of the Irish Pressfor 5th November, in which the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, speaking at the annual dinner of the Dundalk Chamber of Commerce, is reported as saying: “Unemployment recorded on the 17th October showed that there has been a dramatic recovery in the general position.” I want to underline these words: “a dramatic recovery in the general position”. On 17th October, according to the Government's figures, there were 50,900 registered as unemployed, and to-day there are 60,000 registered as unemployed. The figure of unemployment jumped up by over 9,000 in the meantime. What can you think of a statement by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, presumably one of the people directing Government policy, when he says there has been “a dramatic recovery in the general position”, when between the 17th October and the date upon which this paper was published the figures had jumped up by 9,000 or 10,000?

The Deputy knows that is a complete misrepresentation.

In what way?

One set of figures does not bear comparison with the other, because the Employment Period Orders have now ceased to operate. There has not been that increase in unemployment, and the Deputy knows that.

The Minister is trying to box the compass. The Minister knows well that these 9,000 additional people who trekked into the labour exchanges between the 24th October and the 31st October were people who were unemployed. There was no use trekking to the labour exchange even though they were unemployed because of the fact that they would get no unemployment assistance benefit. The fact that they were not registered at the labour exchanges did not prove that they were not unemployed. It proved that they were unemployed and that it was not worth while trekking to the labour exchanges to record the fact that they were unemployed because there was no money or sustenance for them. The Minister knows perfectly well, even though he may try to use the interruption as a debating point, that what happened when the Employment Period Orders ceased to operate was that many thousands who had been put off the unemployment register in the rural areas came back on to the register the moment the Employment Period Orders ceased. They are there now in all their pristine economic unity to be examined and to attest the fact that they are available for work and they are unable to get it. Yet the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs finds some solace in the fact that, apparently, he thought there was a dramatic recovery in the figure on the 17th October. But the dramatic recovery has turned out to be one in which our unemployed people are now registered at the labour exchanges in much greater numbers than they were when the Minister spoke on that occasion.

The Minister made some further references in his speech. He talked about the increase in the volume of agricultural production and said that farmers' incomes were rising, that the rate of industrial output and the volume of exports were going up, thatthe price of agricultural produce was stabilising itself after an uninterrupted rise by 17 per cent. He went on to make some reference to "external assets cranks" and the Irish Pressgives this heading to the speech, “Real Economic Progress Now Evident.”“Real Economic Progress Now Evident,” and we have got, according to the Government's figures, many thousands more people unemployed than we had a fortnight ago. In addition to that, we have got about 9,000 more people unemployed than we had three years ago. How, in the face of these figures, it can be said that there has been real economic progress is beyond my comprehension.

Let us look at the situation in the rural areas again for a moment. My experience of the rural areas in many parts of the country is that there is considerable and growing unemployment. To some extent we have been able to hold that down in many places by the diversion or diffusion of housing activities in the rural areas. On these housing schemes, large numbers of persons secured employment. Now, two things have happened in respect of housing. The higher rates of interest charged have lessened the demand for house building. There is no new builder going into the building industry to-day. There are many, many builders going out of the industry and, unfortunately, some are going out through the bankruptcy court, as they have been badly stung by the fact that, having built houses, they find it difficult to sell them at an economic price, and they have heavy commitments to those responsible for financing their activities.

Anyone who takes a look at the sites around Dublin which were developed for housing can see that building has practically ceased, that there is less house building going on than at any time in the last five years. On many sites you could see 50 houses going up at the one time; now, if they are going up at all, they are going up in ones or twos. Many people who had built houses have "for sale" bills on them now because there is no sale for them.

In rural areas another situation developed. It is natural that you cannot build further houses if you have satisfied the need for them. In many rural areas a considerable number of houses have been built and, because of the fact that they have been built and that the local housing need is satisfied in some areas, there is no need for building further houses in those places. You may need houses elsewhere. But, if local authorities who have tackled the problem seriously in order to satisfy the housing needs of the people are finding themselves approaching the stage in which they have broken the back of the housing problem, the same need for the erection of houses does not exist to-day as it did in other years, with the result that there is a considerable sag in the building of houses in those areas and the opportunities for employment which went hand-in-hand with house building have ceased to exist in those areas.

What is the ordinary working man in those areas going to do? Deputy Corry drew some satisfaction from an increase in agricultural production. There is virtually no increase in the volume of agricultural production. We may juggle with figures anyway we like because of rising prices on the external or home market; we may say that our agricultural production to-day is X-million pounds greater than it was a few years ago, but we are all the time dealing with a static volume of produce. This year we increased the wheat acreage, but we decreased the oats and barley acreage, and the net result was that, taking the three crops together, the area under the cultivation of the three crops was less than it was last year.

I am not saying these things in any spirit of political partisanship, but the challenge to this House and this nation is the utterly inadequate use we are making of the enormous potentialities which reside in the land of Ireland. Whether this Government or any other Government is in office, we will never have a healthy economy until such time as we get out of the land the produce which it is capable of providing under an intelligentagricultural policy. If we can agree on what lines that policy should take and only disagree as to the speed with which we can put it into operation, I think we can make marvellous progress from the standpoint of gearing-up our agricultural possibilities to a greater rate than I see there at the moment. The fact of the matter is that our agricultural production has been stagnant for 50 years. It has been a challenge to every Government which has ruled the destinies of this country over that period.

Unless we get down to examine the basic causes of that and find the remedy, we will have the same stagnant agriculture, large pockets of unemployment in the rural areas with a rural area not capable of sustaining the industries which are inevitably associated with the towns and cities.

On this Bill, because it deals with food, services and supplies, I would call the Minister's attention to what looked to be a promising new industry —the development of the dead meat trade. I do not want to talk about it in detail and with all the knowledge I have on it, but I am bound to say that there is cause for grave disquiet in that particular field. About 40 of these meat packing plants were erected in the past couple of years. A considerable sum of money was invested in them and there were high hopes that we would develop a dressed meat trade which would provide a stable market for our cattle and employment in the small towns in the rural areas for many who were previously unemployed and that by building up that particular trade and dressing the meat at home we would get valuable offal which would, in turn, provide the raw material for many other industries.

The first difficulty these folk met with was the closing down of the American market. That in itself was not a serious or an insuperable difficulty but the position now is that apparently they cannot fulfil their contracts on the British market with the result that I do not believe there is one of these 40 meat-packing plants in full operation to-day. I know there are dozens closed down almost entirely andthere are some of them on which considerable money was spent, simply lying there as silent as a cemetery. I understand the reason is that they cannot get cattle at a price which would enable them to dress the meat for sale on the British market at the price decided by the British Ministry of Food. The Government might take steps to relieve the causes of that difficulty. I understand that one of the difficulties is that they cannot compete with those whose cattle are attracted to the British market via the Six Counties.

I am afraid we are now heading for a situation in which practically all the money which has gone into these plants will be lost unless some serious effort is made to devise an arrangement by which they will get cattle for dressing. If they can do that, then I think they can provide substantial employment in these plants. Close on 4,000 people would normally get employment in these plants but there only 400 employed in them at the moment due to the difficulty of buying cattle at a price that will enable them to sell the cattle in the British market. I do not blame the Minister or the Government. That is one of the things which has arisen out of the pattern of our live-stock industry and the methods of our live-stock trade but it is a great pity and it will be a national tragedy if these dressed meat plants are going to be allowed to die. Several efforts were made from time to time to develop a dressed meat industry. There are powerful interests here and elsewhere who do not want to see us do it. It is a valuable industry from our point of view. A considerable sum of money has been sunk in these plants and if these people should lose their money now the unemployment that will inevitably follow will burn as effectively as possible the fingers of anybody who wants to pioneer on that road.

I do not know what the Government's policy is in respect of this. I think it is highly desirable, because of the employment and raw materials which it provides, that we should encourage it in every possible way. Wedo not know what the Government's policy is, but the Minister could do few more useful things than indicate that the Government are determined to save that trade by making use of the devices which are open to them in order to effect the necessary assistance to the industry which is now passing through a particularly bad time. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will in his reply to this debate take some steps to indicate that the Government is alive to the dangers which beset this industry and alive to the loss of actual and potential employment which would follow if these industries are compelled to close down. It should not be outside the bounds of possibility to devise an arrangement by which these plants can be kept in operation and some arrangement made by the cattle trade as a whole with governmental advice whereby it would be possible always to siphon off a sufficiency of cattle to enable these plants to continue to provide the employment which undoubtedly they can provide in a much greater measure than the exporting of cattle on the hoof, and at the same time establish here a really indigenous industry associated with our cattle trade.

Deputy Dillon made some reference to the Central Bank Report, but I do not think it would be appropriate on this Bill or at this stage to make any references to what is contained in this customary blue book of despair which has been issued by the Central Bank. It seems to follow the usual pattern. The only thing changed on it is the date. It is substantially the same as it was five years ago and it will probably be the same in the next five years. I do hope, however, that it will not commend itself to the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

Deputy Dillon commended me to read and study it.

Somebody offered Disraeli a book on one occasion on which he was not terribly keen. He took it from the donor and said he would lose no time about reading it. I hope the Minister for Finance will adopt the same tactics in connectionwith this blue book of despair. It is only intended to make people miserable. It is only intended to irritate the Irish people and advocate the philosophy of loving rags, of being proud to live a poor, impoverished life in Ireland for the privilege of living in this motherland.

I do not propose to waste time on this. I hope the Minister will repudiate it as he did last year even though, subsequently, some of his colleagues really devoted time to an intensive study of it and wasted much public time in relating the dire and sad sentiments which were contained in the report. Notwithstanding what the Central Bank says or the occasional rantings which we get in this House from the Minister for Finance about impending gloom and disaster, I am convinced that there are only three ways in which we can build up an economic fabric to gain a decent standard of life for our people. We have in this country soil and climate which is the envy of every other country in Europe. We are economic and political lunatics if we do not ensure that the soil is utilised in a way that will give us a greater measure of agricultural and dairy production than we have to-day. It is no visitation of God that we have not a greater measure of industrial production in this country. All the difficulties and impediments are manmade and can be remedied overnight if the Government and the Minister take steps to recognise the enormous waste, actual and potential, which is inevitable when following our present-day agricultural policy.

In the field of industry, while we have immense difficulties, in the form of keen competition, in finding a foreign market, we nevertheless have at home a safe market by which we can shelter our people from the worst of the economic blasts that blow from other countries. We can ensure in the home market prices that will give a reasonable return to industrialists, and we are entitled to expect them, in return, to undertake to the nation that, within their capacity, they will supply the nation with all the commodities which it needs and will play their fullpart in endeavouring to find an export market for any commodities which they can produce for that market. Over and above these two considerations, we have got all the benefits which will flow, and which can flow, from the adoption of a capital programme of development, a programme which will give us national assets of a permanent and enduring nature, and which will add to the nation's wealth and will pay dividends, money if needs be, but in any case will contribute to human happiness and to a rising and ever-expanding national economy.

I believe that it is only by a full-blooded development of our industrial and agricultural possibilities, by utilising the nation's assets here and elsewhere, together with the savings of our people in a programme of capital development, that we can ever attain the targets which will mean a decent living, and rising standards of living, for our people. One thing is certain, and that is, that if we do not adopt a policy of industrial and agricultural expansion, geared to a higher level than at present, and do not pursue a policy of capital development which will provide employment and enduring assets for the nation, then this House will continue to discuss the difficulties of living and of life in Ireland.

It will continue to discuss the ever pressing problem of unemployment, the low standard of living for many of our people, and unemployment and under-employment will be permanent problems so far as we are concerned. If, however, we recognise that reliance on the methods which we have pursued in the past, will only give us the same bleak results in the future as they have given us up to now, then we can probably get broad national agreement on a policy designed to expand our industrial and agricultural potentialities. By doing that we can probably reach a production level which will not only finance our social services but will, at the same time, meet the capital charges in the development stages of valuable national works.

I think that while we have had some indications from the Minister in recent speeches that his line of policy was bolder and more courageous than someof the utterances we have heard from some of his colleagues, I feel that if the Minister would take steps to indicate in some detail what the Government's precise plans are in the field of industrial and agricultural development, it might be possible for him to get not merely in this House but outside of it a volume of goodwill and of enthusiasm for a policy calculated to remedy the economic defects in our agricultural and industrial fabric, which at the same time would provide some remedy for our continued unemployment and for what is worse still, the haemorrhage which emigration means to the life blood of a nation.

This debate gives Deputies an opportunity of voicing their own opinions as well as those of the electorate on conditions as they have found them affecting the country over the past 12 months. In my opinion, if the people were asked to state in what particular way this Government has been most remiss and on what particular aspect of policy they had failed most miserably, the answer would be in relation to the twin problems of unemployment and the cost of living. Some people seem to think that these problems are principally identified with the urban areas.

There is no doubt but that they are, but it should also be remembered that there is not a part of the country which to-day is not gravely concerned by the numbers of unemployed in it. The fact is that those who are in employment see that they are able to buy only very little with the wages they are earning. The same is true of those on small holdings in regard to what they get for their produce. There has been an ever increasing rise in the cost of living over the past two and a half years. That certainly was not envisaged by the people when they went to the polls in 1951. At that time, the cost of living was a very prominent feature in the programme of the then Opposition Party, and in the criticisms which they levelled at the outgoing Government. They charged it with not having kept the cost of living stable during its three and a half years in office. These criticisms by the then Opposition wereaccepted by many people as indicating that a change of Government would secure for the entire nation a reduction in the cost of living, or at least an immediate cessation of any rise in prices. Far from there being any reduction in prices, we have seen in the past two years an extraordinary increase in the cost of living. That increase has not been due to any circumstances operating outside the shores of this country. It has been attributable, purely and simply, to Government policy. The result of that policy has been that the State has had to find compensatory benefits for many sections of our people.

In the course of the past two years, local authority and other employers have had to seek some measure of compensation so that their employees would be in a position to meet their ordinary commitments and to maintain themselves and their families in a reasonable degree of comfort and security.

The Taoiseach, when speaking recently at the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis, said that we had now reached the point when we had compensated all these people. That, of course, did not give a true picture of the situation. Would the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste or any member of the Government or any back bencher supporting them tell us how an ex-employee of a local authority on 15/- a week is in a position to meet the fresh charges imposed on him or her by a further reduction in the purchasing power of the £? How can that person afford to pay present prices for bread, tea and sugar and other necessaries of life out of 15/- a week? There are many sections of our people who have got absolutely no increase whatever in their allowances to meet the recent increases in the cost of living. Can any member of the Government, or any Deputy supporting it, deny that the old age pensioner, whether he is receiving 21/6 a week, 16/6 or 11/- a week, is not seriously affected by the fact that he or she has now to pay ever so much more for every single item of food? Many of those people have to bear not alone the direct consequences of the increasein the price of the particular items they require because of the abolition of subsidies but also the burden imposed on them because so many people who have to meet these increased charges are in a position to pass these increases back again on the person at the end of the queue; and the person at the end of the queue is the person least able to bear these impositions.

It must be remembered that people who are self-employed have been unable to secure an increase in their income to meet the higher cost of living. We have provided some compensation for certain sections in the community but the general upheaval created has left its mark on every Department of State and on every section of the community. There has been an extraordinary increase in the cost of running our public institutions and local authorities have been obliged to increase the rates in order to meet their heavy commitments.

It is in connection with unemployment that we find most fault with this Government. The increased cost of living has imposed great hardship on the unemployed. Even if unemployed persons obtained an increase in unemployment assistance, it was swallowed up immediately by the price they had to pay for essential commodities. Let no one from the opposite benches shout across: "What about the producer? Are you defending a reduction for the producer?" We certainly are not because the buffer which existed as between the consumer and producer was completely annihilated when most of the food subsidies were abolished. It is only three years or so since the State was in a position to soften the impact of any rise in production costs; the consumer was not called upon immediately to bear it. The Government has thrown every aspect of public life into disorganisation and caused great distress among the people. It is a pitiable sight to see in our cities and towns the queues of people at the labour exchanges.

It has been indicated several times already that unemployment, of itself, is not debatable.

I at least did not have an opportunity to refer to it.

No other Deputy had.

I respectfully submit that unemployment is linked to the cost of living inasmuch as there have been repercussions.

This measure is not designed to relieve unemployment. It is designed to look after supplies and services.

The Minister is seeking the retention of certain powers for a further period. Government policy has made it impossible for a great many of our people to avail of either the supplies or the services because the Government has taken from them their way of living. They have embarked upon a financial policy which has made it impossible for many people to keep their families in reasonable comfort. Many firms cannot afford to keep their workers in full employment which they previously enjoyed; they are working only parttime and unfortunately some of them are obliged to have recourse to the employment exchanges in order to secure some means of supporting themselves and their families.

We await the reply of the Minister with interest. We await any comments his colleagues in the Government may have to make in the course of this debate so that they can explain how this small country which, thanks to Divine Providence, was spared from the horrors of war, should within a few years of the cessation of hostilities be called upon to meet an increase in the cost of living far in excess of that of any other nation in Europe with one exception. Most of these nations were imperilled and have had to face serious commitments since that time in trying to rebuild their country. We were led to understand in Ireland that we were as immune from the results of that conflict as it was possible for us to be but we can now point to the increases in the cost of living. We point to the fact that although the previousGovernment had many other great responsibilities to face up to, one of its greatest achievements was to keep down the cost of living which was continually increasing up to the time they took office. Then in their latter months of office due to circumstances over which they had no control—the diversion of shipping and other incidental happenings which arose out of the Korean conflict—there was a rise of a few points in the cost-of-living index. Now with import prices falling and the world returning to some measure of calm, we certainly wonder why so many people would be denied what is surely their birthright, employment in their own country. It is the duty of the Government to give them employment and to try to keep down the cost of living so that people may have a reasonable standard of living.

Everybody one meets, no matter what his walk of life may be, has a complaint about the present state of affairs, and it is unfortunate that the people who suffer most are those least able to bear it, the people in the smaller income groups who have to rely on the staple foods, bread, tea and sugar. It is those who have the very least by way of income, whether it be a pension or wages secured from employment, who are affected most rather than those with bigger salaries and income.

Those articles which were subsidised —and which, if still subsidised at all, are subsidised only in a very small way—formed their principal items of diet. For that reason, they felt the outcome of the abolition of the subsidies far more than others. We find now that those engaged in self-employment, those in production, particularly the small farming class, have to bear many other costs passed on to them by middle-men who are able to recompense themselves for any difficulties they had to overcome. Now the consumer has also to face the fact that those producing the vital necessaries of life are meeting increased production costs as day succeeds day.

I referred earlier to the effect on our public institutions. Anyone, no matter what his Party, who is a member ofany hospital board or board of assistance will agree that over the past two years we have had to meet extraordinary increases even in a few items relating to the maintenance of those people it is our duty to look after. That increase has been met by an increase in rates or by some other means. Therefore, we can assume that every housewife has to face the same responsibility. Very often they are very vocal on this matter and when given the opportunity they can record their displeasure very emphatically. That displeasure has no doubt increased because of the fact that they were led to believe by the Party opposite before they attained office that if given an opportunity they could do something useful in this respect. Naturally, the extreme criticism which the Party opposite offered to the previous Government, for failure to deal with a simple three points increase due to forces outside the control of any Government, brought to their Party a measure of support.

They presented a programme to the Dáil showing emphatically that if they secured election they would control the cost of living, which is one of the items they promised to deal with. In particular, they were to deal with rising costs, but now after two and a half years of the present Government, scarcely a month passes without some increase in the cost of the necessaries of life. That is in addition to the extraordinary increases people have to meet in regard to simple luxuries they may enjoy.

I wish also to express my grave concern at the numbers of young people who are leaving this country, seeking employment in England, Canada, Australia and elsewhere. We know there always was emigration, but it was never on the scale it is on at present. I do not think it was ever known for whole families to move completely out of this country, as occurred in the last two years. I cannot say it happens in my own constituency.

I do not think it is relevant, either.

However, we know that applications come in frompeople who wish to remove furniture to new homes in Britain. In my own constituency there are young men and young women emigrating as they cannot find work at home. Much of that is to be attributed to the failure of the Government in giving them some encouragement that they would secure employment and that what they would receive in wages would be left to them to buy the simple necessaries of life and the simple luxuries that should be available to them at reasonable prices. Now, they cannot see any future as long as this Government persists in the policy it has pursued since it secured election two and a half years ago. It is vital that the Minister for Industry and Commerce would appreciate that these conditions exist. It is up to him and to the Government of which he is Tánaiste to take immediate steps to ease this burning problem of the cost of living and to put into productive employment the large numbers that those in employment have to maintain on the dole at the present time.

The Minister, to conclude.

It is obvious that over the week-end the leaders of the Fine Gael Party held a conference and decided that the reports which appeared in the newspapers of the speeches which were delivered from their benches on this Bill last week were doing them political harm. I think they were right in that. I am quite certain the people do not like to hear their public men caterwauling about the adverse factors in the national position without making some effort to deal with them constructively, without taking some responsibility for the putting forward of positive suggestions for dealing with them.

The pawnbroker's sign?

They sent Deputy Dillon in to-day to make constructive suggestions. Whether his effort has repaired the Fine Gael dykes or not is a matter of opinion. No doubt some people may think the suggestions he put forward may have something in them; and if their propagandadepartment keeps on repeating often enough that they are constructive suggestions, an odd person here and there may believe that something of that character was put forward.

Many of the speeches which were delivered in this debate did not seem to me to have any direct relation to the Bill. I intend to confine myself to matters that do arise properly from the Bill before the House. I agreed earlier, when questions of relevancy were discussed, that the cost of living was one of those matters, because at the present time the powers that the Government exercises to control prices are conferred by the Supplies and Services Act, and if that Act should be allowed to lapse or be defeated by a vote of the Dáil then powers to control prices would disappear with it.

All the efforts of the Opposition speakers were directed towards establishing that increases in the cost of living are solely the responsibility of the Government. They endeavoured to suggest that some course of action was open to the Government which, if followed, would have prevented the cost of living rising. In order to secure whatever political advantage might be obtained by establishing that point, they sacrificed any lingering remnant of reputation they may have had for understanding the problems of this country; they sacrificed all honesty and any attempt at fairness in debate. Every Fine Gael speaker ran away from the real issue of prices.

One or two of them, such as the last speaker, who, in the course of his remarks began to get within reach of the realities of the situation, decided to duck at once and to get back to the old theme: the Government could have done something and, because it did not do it, the cost of living has gone up.

Deputy Declan Costello, who opened the debate for the Fine Gael Party and delivered the most dishonest speech of all those made during this debate, started off on that line. He took certain selected facts and based his argument upon those, suppressing all the other facts and every statistic available to him which appeared likely to invalidate the conclusion to whichhe was trying to lead the House. He said that it is an extraordinary situation that for two years import prices have been falling but the cost of living has nevertheless been going up. On the basis of that assertion he built his entire case that responsibility for the rise in the cost of living rests on the Government and that it was within the power of the Government to prevent that rise taking place by some administrative action.

It is quite true that since June, 1951, there has been a slight downward tendency in import prices. The import price index number showed, as between June, 1951, and June, 1953, a decrease of 9 per cent. As to when a decline in import prices might be expected to show itself in retail prices is a matter upon which we might argue, but that is not the argument I want to make.

The point I want to establish is that import prices are less important than internal prices in determining the cost of living. It was surely dishonest for a Deputy, who was seeking to establish the case that the rise in the cost of living could have been prevented by some action of the Government, to have quoted these import price statistics and to have ignored every other statistic bearing upon that question; to ignore, for example, the fact that during the same period agricultural prices increased by 15½ per cent. Most Deputies will, I am sure, recognise that the price paid to farmers for milk and vegetables and wheat has a far more direct bearing upon the cost of living than the price we pay for timber, fertilisers, newsprint or oils.

There was no straightforward reference to the rise in agricultural prices during that period or to the effect of that rise upon the cost of living and every Deputy who came by accident in the course of his remarks within range of the question of agricultural prices said straightway that he was not in favour of reducing any agricultural prices and then got quickly on to some other aspect of the problem. Surely it was relevant to remark that during the same two-year period since this Government returned to office in June, 1951, wage rates in manufacturing industry increased by22 per cent. The index of wage rates in manufacturing industry which was 170.8 in 1951 rose to 191.6 in 1952 and to 209 in 1953.

What was the cause of that?

Increased wages paid to workers.

It was the Budget.

The Deputy must understand me. I said the cost of living has gone up and if we propose to consider what action could have been taken then or should be taken now to deal with the question of the cost of living we have to consider something more than import prices. We have to consider the prices paid to farmers for the food produced by them and the wages paid to workers. The fact that agricultural prices and wage rates have gone up has surely a very direct bearing on the cost of living at the present time.

Farm labourers' wages have not gone up very much.

Let us take these four sets of statistics and see what conclusions we should draw from them. Since 1951, and notwithstanding the reduction and alteration in food subsidies, about which some Deputies have been so eloquent to-day, the rise in the cost of living as disclosed by the cost-of-living index number was less than the rise in wage rates or the rise in agricultural prices.

Again, let me remind Deputies of the figures. Since 1951 the cost-of-living index number has gone up by 12.6 per cent. Farm prices have gone up by 15.5 per cent. and wage rates by 22 per cent. Therefore, it is a fair conclusion that to-day as compared with 1951 both farmers and workers are better off in real terms than they were in 1951.

Of course that is not true.

It is certainly true of the worker in employment. It is trueof the worker who has secured the average increase in wages which the wage index number reveals. The average rise in wages has been greater than the average rise in the cost of living over that period. If the Deputy says that is not true what the Deputy is really saying is that the statistics published by the Central Statistics Office are to be discredited. I do not accept that. There is another conclusion to be drawn from these figures and it is that the level of agricultural prices and wage rates affects the level of retail prices far more than the cost of importing materials from abroad, the level of import prices. Any Deputy who gives a moment's common-sense thought to this whole problem must realise how obvious it is that there can be no reduction in the cost of living unless farm prices and wage rates come down as well.

And many other things.

I shall deal with some of the other things later on.

The cost of money, for instance.

I have been asked for a declaration of the attitude of the Government. We do not believe it is desirable that the Government should take action to force down either farm prices or wage rates. The Opposition's criticism of the rise in the cost of living, their refusal to face the realities of the cause of that rise and the whole implication of their observations, if they understood it, is that farm prices should be lowered and wage rates reduced at the same time so that the level of retail prices would come down.

What about the people who have no wages?

I do not agree with that view as adumbrated by the Opposition. I have said that the cost of living and the level of prices generally appear now to be more or less stabilised and are likely to remain so.

Why do you not control prices as you controlled wages under the standstill Order?

Deputy Declan Costello asked me for a statement of the Government's attitude on this matter and, in reply, I refer him to the statement I made on the Supplies and Services Bill on 4th December last. At column 880 of Volume 135 of the Official Report I said:—

"What is the position now, and what is the position likely to be in the future? I think it is true to say that only internal factors are causing prices to go up now. The import price index number has fallen fairly consistently since the first quarter of this year. The cost of goods imported into this country and used for industrial and agricultural purposes is tending downwards, but the effect of that fall in material costs on our price level is being offset by rising internal costs. There is a fair prospect that when these adjustments in internal costs are completed a position of price stability will be realised."

That is the forecast I made last year and the only claim I make now is that that forecast was borne out by the events of 1953. So far as it is possible for the Government to influence the trend of prices, and every Deputy who understands the matter knows that the power of the Government to influence the trend of prices is very limited indeed, its power will be directed towards keeping prices stable.

The Minister says the powers of the Government are limited.

Of course they are. It is not possible for the Government to control price levels absolutely unless they are prepared to control every factor that makes up prices, including wages, farm costs and all the other factors the Deputy has in mind. We do not propose to control any of these except to the extent that it is necessary and vital in the public interest and certainly control will not extend either to farm prices or to wages. In so far as it is possible to influence the trend of prices that influence will be exercised towards keeping prices stable. We think that stability of prices will facilitate our progress, that the consequencesof price fluctuations up or down are likely to be bad and that we are far more likely to improve the standard of living of our people and to secure the economic progress of the country if we can hold out the prospect that the value of money will remain stable for a reasonable period ahead.

Is the Minister satisfied that the methods of financing industry to-day are satisfactory?

That is too wide a question to answer on this Bill.

You can talk for the next two days and answer it. That is one of the problems.

Deputy Norton said that price control is not being enforced, that there are groups and rings extracting undue profits—extracting, he said, the last penny they can from the consumer in order to enhance their profits. If the effectiveness of price control is to be determined by the profits made by traders and manufacturers —and may I say that I do not necessarily agree that that is so, but that is the test Deputy Norton wants to apply —then the contrast between price control in 1952 and the Coalition Government's effort at price control is very striking indeed.

Prices were far lower in the Coalition time than they are now.

Deputy Norton thinks the effectiveness of price control is to be determined by the amount of profits made by traders, and his suggestion is that traders are making more profits now than they were when the Coalition Government was in office.

Of course they are. There is no control. They can charge what they like.

The Deputy should allow the Minister to proceed without interruption.

Taking 1950 as a typical Coalition year, the last complete year in which they were in office, retail grocers in that year made profits whichrepresented 3.07 per cent. of their turnover. In 1952 their profits fell to 2.9 per cent. of their turnover. Milk distributors in 1950 made profits of 4.3 per cent. of their turnover. It fell to 3.6 per cent. in 1952. The whole food group of retail traders made profits equivalent to 3.2 per cent. of their turnover in 1950, and that fell to 2.9 per cent. of their turnover in 1952.

Will the Minister give the profit in terms of total money?

I cannot do that. The information which comes in from individual firms is not available to me.

Will the Minister give the percentage change in turnover in the two years?

Yes, I can. I cannot give it for 1950. The total turnover for all retail traders in 1951 was £46,500,000, and in 1952 was £44,500,000.

You have not it for 1950?

I have not the figure here for 1950. Traders dealing in clothing made profits in 1950 representing 5 per cent. of their turnover, and that had fallen to 3.1 per cent. in 1952. Other traders in miscellaneous goods made profits representing 5.2 per cent. of the value of their turnover in 1950, which had fallen to 4.1 per cent. in 1952. I can give similar figures for manufacturers, but I know that Deputies, having in mind the circumstances of 1952, would not be surprised to hear that manufacturers made lower profits in that year than they did in 1950. The fact is, however, that in the year 1952 many groups of manufacturers made profits which were altogether too low, profits which were disturbingly low because they held out prospects of future difficulties for these manufacturers. Certainly, in practically every case, the profits made in 1952 were lower than the profits made in 1950.

I am not proud of these figures. I do not want Deputies to understand that I think they represent a satisfactory position in this country. I produce them to answer DeputyNorton's argument. Deputy Norton contended that by reason of defective price control, traders and manufacturers are making more profits now than they were allowed to make when the Coalition Government was in office. The fact is they are making less profits now, and I think it is important for the future of industrial development that manufacturers as a whole should do better in 1953 than they did in 1952. If they do not do better, certainly, the prospects of promoting expansion of industrial activity through private enterprise will be considerably reduced.

That is a surprising statement for me to hear from you.

What is more, I am certain that every worker in this country will agree with me that it is a far more serious business for him if his employer is making a loss rather than a profit. The security of his employment, he knows, will depend upon the ability of his employer to remain in business.

The Revenue Commissioners can remedy all that.

Deputy Cosgrave said that the cost of living here was the highest ever. That is true. Of course, it is true of every country. It was giving a very false picture to say that and no more. The cost of living was the highest ever but wage rates are also higher than they ever were before. The average wage paid in 1953 was 14s. per week higher than in 1951, according to the Central Statistics Office.

What is the value of the £?

The Deputy must not misunderstand what I am trying to do. I am trying to deal with the false propaganda, delivered from the benches opposite and designed to misrepresent the national position, by putting it right, by putting the facts first. Later I will tell the Deputy the conclusions I draw from the facts.

When Deputy Cosgrave says that the cost of living was higher than it was ever before, that is true but it is notthe whole truth. The truth is that wage rates are higher than they were ever before. The truth is that the value of agricultural output is far higher than ever before. Net agricultural output in 1952, according to the Statistical Survey,was £21,000,000 higher than it was in 1950. The national income was higher than it was ever before. In 1952 it was £71,000,000 higher than it was in 1950. The level of investment was higher than it was ever before. The value of money has altered and it is completely misleading to describe the national position as affected by a higher cost of living than ever existed before and not to recognise that the same causes that pushed up the cost of living have pushed up values in every other operation carried on in the national economy which is calculated in terms of money.

It is true that many of our farm prices are higher than world level. We are guaranteeing to our farmers now a price for wheat which works out at £6 per ton on a dry wheat basis higher than the world price. What the future of the world price may be is a matter upon which experts are debating.

And the consumer is paying for that in the price of flour and bread.

The consumer is not paying for that, but the taxpayer is through the subsidy. We put up the price of milk last year to 1/6 per gallon. We permitted an increase in the price of butter and milk. We could bring down the price of milk again. Am I to understand from some of the speeches delivered by Deputies opposite that that is what is intended? I know that Deputy Costello said that he dissolved the Dáil in 1951 rather than give in to the blackmail that was being exercised upon him to increase the price of milk, but is that the present policy of the Party opposite? Will they now say that they think the price of butter or milk should be brought down by reducing the return to the producer? I do not think they will. There was not one Deputy in the course of this debate who attempted to suggest that the solutionof our cost of living problem might be found in that way.

The Irish farmers are not getting the New Zealand butter price.

They are getting a much higher price.

Surely not.

I thought that that was the complaint. Mind you, there might be something to be said for the argument occasionally advanced by Fine Gael spokesmen that New Zealand butter should be sold at the price it cost to buy so that the public might understand fully the difference between the price we are paying to the Irish farmer for milk to make butter and the price at which butter can be purchased abroad. But we thought it would be far better in the national interest that there should not be two classes of butter at two different prices available, and that the additional profit that was made by the sale of New Zealand butter should be used to offset the cost of storing Irish butter. That is the way it was used.

It is quite an easy matter for some Deputies opposite to compare the movement of the cost of living in this country with the movement in other countries by taking some arbitrary date and calculating the change from that date. It is quite true, as the O.E.E.C. report pointed out, that in the first six months of this year the cost of living was higher than in the first six months of last year. We all know it was. The effect on prices caused by the reduction of subsidies came into operation in the middle of last year. But to contrast that result with the position in other countries is misleading unless all the facts relating to those other countries are also known. Most countries subsidised foods to some extent or another during the war and most of them withdrew them before we did, so that the alteration in the cost of living in those countries just began a bit earlier. I could produce a quite different picture by choosing some other date upon which to base a calculation. In fact,however, all the O.E.E.C. price statistics for European countries are based on 1948. 1948 is the basic year, and if we contrast the change in the cost of living which has taken place here since 1948 with the change in all other countries we will find we were about average. In ten European countries the cost of living rose by more than it rose here; in nine countries it rose by less; so that we have not got the grievance which some Deputies opposite appear to want to exploit.

Arising out of a remark made last week by Deputy Kyne, might I remind the Labour Party of the fact that the whole saving to the Exchequer effected by the reduction in the food subsidies was devoted to increasing social welfare payments. Deputy Kyne said that he would never support a Government unless it was prepared to restore the combined level of social welfare and food subsidy payments to the point at which they stood when the Coalition Government left office. That has been done. The cost of the increase in social welfare payments, which came into operation since this Government came into office, exceeds £7,000,000 per year, and that is more than was saved to the Exchequer by the alteration in food subsidies.

Some people have lost under the social welfare.

I do not know if that is so or not; but the effect of this change is this, that £7,000,000 which was paid out of the taxpayers' money, the benefit of which formerly went indiscriminately to the wealthiest as well as the poorest in the country, to all people, whether they needed it or not, is now being concentrated upon those sections of our community that need help from the Exchequer most, and we think that that was a good change.

Deputy Dillon, as one of his constructive suggestions, made some irrelevant and completely misleading remarks about tea. It is untrue that if we were to permit our tea wholesalers to buy their tea supplies now from the London market instead of through the central importing organisation which is operating here they would get itcheaper. The last time I examined the position, I found that the lowest priced tea available through Tea Importers, Limited, was lower than the lowest price tea available in the London market. He said that I have a bee in my bonnet about this because the British Government let us down regarding tea supplies during the war and that I am getting my own back now.

It is perfectly true that they let us down, that they broke their solemn pledge to us in regard to tea supplies during the war, but my grievance is not with the British Government; it is with those tea wholesalers in London who had the monopoly of this market and would not raise their fingers or lift their voices with the British Government to secure a more reasonable allocation of the available supplies to this country during that period. I said then in the Dáil and on the radio that when the war was over, if I had any influence on Government policy here, I would establish an arrangement which would mean that we would draw all our tea supplies from the country of origin and cut out the British middleman. I think that is good policy now. It is good policy because it means that the reserve stocks, which we should have had before the war but which were then in London, will in future be held in this country. The normal trading stocks which the wholesalers and retailers must hold to meet their commitments will be available here in another emergency to strengthen our supply position. It surely must be possible for us to buy tea direct from India and import it into this country at a lower price than if we pay a British middleman commission for doing it for us. I do not believe that it is possible for tea to be brought through London cheaper than we can buy it direct. It is contrary to common sense, and I am hoping that when the permanent arrangements for tea importation into this country are in operation that will be demonstrated beyond all question of doubt.

But will the people as a whole be consulted as to who will get the monopoly?

There will be legislation to deal with this matter. On my Estimate I told the Dáil that I had hoped that a new arrangement, which would restore freedom to private traders, would be in operation this year but I found that it was not possible to put it in operation this year, and at the request of the trade it was decided to postpone its operation until the opening of the next buying season. The form of the legislation which will be required is at present being discussed with all the interests concerned. I will bring that legislation here and Deputies will have a full opportunity of expressing their views on its merits. It will be devised to give the maximum freedom to individual traders to operate in a normal way, while at the same time giving effect to the Government policy of ensuring that supplies are bought direct from the country in which they are produced without the intervention of foreign middlemen.

Deputy Blowick said that as a result of the Government's policy the level of consumption has fallen. It is quite true that various statistics suggest that the people of this country bought less consumer goods in 1952 than in 1951—very slightly less. There was a general process of stocking up in 1951 which operated amongst private people as well as among traders, and there was a counter process of de-stocking in 1952, so that the statistics for the two years are not strictly comparable; but if Deputy Blowick was trying to suggest that people bought less because they could not afford to pay for more goods, the statistics prove him to be completely wrong, because side by side with that slight fall in the level of domestic purchases there was a very considerable increase in the level of personal savings. According to the Statistical Surveywhich Deputies can study for themselves personal savings in 1952 rose to £30,000,000 whereas in 1951 it was estimated that there was actually a dissaving.

Can the Minister say who saved that money?

The people who putmoney into the Post Office Savings Bank, bought saving certificates and so forth. The figures are there for the Deputy to study, if he wants to.

On a point of explanation. Is it not a fact that the well-to-do people who get children's allowances put that money back into the Post Office?

Not being in that class, I do not know.

That is how the Post Office savings are being increased. You will see it done in any post office in Ireland.

Let me turn now from the question of the cost of living to that of unemployment and consider some of the statements made regarding unemployment during the course of this debate. I often wonder if the Deputies opposite believe, themselves, some of the statements they make, much less hope to get other people to believe them. Deputy Blowick, a former member of the Coalition Government, said here that no time during that Government's period of office did the number of registered unemployed rise beyond 30,000. I read it in the Official Report of the debate. I was not quite sure, when I was listening to Deputy Blowick, if I heard the figure correctly but that is the figure which appears in the Official Report.

In the first year in which the Coalition Government were in office, the average weekly number of registered unemployed was 61,157. Deputy Blowick said that at no time during the term of office of the Coalition Government did the number of registered unemployed rise beyond 30,000. The average weekly number of registered unemployed in the first year of that Government's term of office was 61,157. The highest figure reached during that year was 80,667.

That was when we took over.

In the second year of office of the Coalition Government, the average weekly unemployment figuresrose to 61,817 and the highest figure to 84,475. At no time during the whole of the period of office of the Coalition Government did the number of registered unemployed fall to 30,000.

Deputy Dillon said here that the Coalition Government had to bring workers back from abroad in order to enable work to be done. He said that there was a scarcity of workers. Some peculiar scenes must have been witnessed at the ports during that period because the average number of emigrants per year while the Coalition Government were in office was well over 30,000.

They brought back skilled workers.

The Statistical Abstractsays that the average net emigration during that period was 30,000.

The highest ever recorded.

That means that the number going out exceeded the number coming in by that amount. That was the highest figure ever recorded in this country since 1924.

What is it to-day? They are all gone to Britain now. That is why they are not registered now.

There is another factor which Opposition Deputies are inclined to leave out of account. It is convenient for them that the unemployment statistics for this year are not comparble with those of previous years. They ignore the fact that a new Social Welfare Act has been passed. That new Social Welfare Act considerably extended the scope of the unemployment assistance scheme. It brought on to the unemployment assistance register a number of persons who would not have been on it if that Act had not been passed. The number of additional names on the register, consequent upon the passing of that Act, varied, according to the Central Statistics Office, from something over 10,000 in May last to 5,500 odd in October. If we make allowance for that factor, we have to record that during most of the past summer the number of unemployed was less thanduring the previous summer. As every Deputy who studies the figures knows, there was a steady improvement during the summer months——

How is it that there were no parades of unemployed in Dublin while the inter-Party Government were in office?

Because you did not organise them.

Deputy O'Leary must restrain himself and cease interrupting.

What about the parades of unemployed which we witnessed during the past year? What about putting the leaders in jail? I could not listen to the Minister. I will leave the Chamber.

Mr. Brennan

Deputy O'Leary cannot take it.

There are thousands of unemployed. I could not listen to the Minister.

Deputy O'Leary withdrew.

I have always argued here that our unemployment problem is serious, and I have never attempted to minimise its dimensions. When I was Minister for Industry and Commerce in the past, I took measures at various times to ensure that we had accurate statistics on unemployment so that we would know exactly the size of the task facing us. The practice of publishing weekly unemployment statistics was begun by me as Minister for Industry and Commerce. It is being continued by me now. I have objected to the magnitude of the problem being exaggerated; I would equally object to its being minimised.

If we are to deal properly with the problems of this country, we must know them exactly as they are. I admit that unemployment is the biggest problem of all. This Government are prepared to take, as a test of the soundness of their policy, its effect on employment. If we put more people in employment, create more jobs, then the Government's policy is successful. If there is not that result, then its policy is afailure. We will accept that test and will stand by the results.

Does that include the thousands of men who are on relief work?

I resent most strongly the suggestion that workers employed on road improvements are on relief work. Twenty-three thousand workers are employed on road operations at the present time, and they are doing a job which I think is essential to the development of the country. Their work will not merely save lives: it will save costs and it will increase the over-all efficiency of the national organisation. My view is that we are not doing nearly enough to improve the highways of the country. I have urged that, in addition to the new income to the Road Fund, secured by the adjustment of the motor vehicle duties last year, there should be put into it a proportion of the National Development Fund which is to be set up by legislation before the House. I think that is good work, work which is worth doing. I am sure that those who are engaged on it, and all who appreciate its importance will resent Deputy Dillon's contemptuous reference to the workers employed upon the Naas Road scheme or any other road improvement project of that kind.

Deputy Dillon said that we are substituting relief work on the Naas Road scheme and the Dublin Castle project for house building and land improvement. There is being spent on land improvement at the present time, and there are employed on land improvement at the present time, five times the amount of money and five times the number of persons as were employed when Deputy Dillon was Minister for Agriculture and administering the scheme. That does not suggest that anything has been substituted for it. May I say, in regard to the Dublin Castle project or any other project for the construction of public buildings, that not one penny, not one brick and not one worker will go into these public building projects which is or who is required for the building of houses either by local authorities or private contractors.

It is nonsense to talk as if we were still in the war period with limited supplies of timber, limited supplies of cement or limited supplies of other building materials. There is no scarcity of these materials now and, unfortunately, there is no scarcity of labour either. The more workers we can employ, using available supplies of building materials, on construction operations of all kinds, the better for the community. We can proceed with the rehousing programme, which Fianna Fáil initiated, simultaneously with the construction of necessary public buildings. No public building programme will diminish by one house per year the result of the building drive.

Deputy Blowick says that the Government are controlled by the Central Bank. Deputy Dillon read an extract from the most recent report of the Central Bank and commended it to the Government. It is very difficult to know the common line of policy between Deputy Dillon and Deputy Blowick. Deputy Norton tells me not to read that report. He made special reference to the extract which Deputy Dillon quoted in order to express his disagreement with it. If ever and whenever Deputy Norton and Deputy Dillon get into the same Government again, I hope that it will be Deputy Norton's view that will prevail and that, when that time comes, it will be Deputy Norton who will be able to talk about Deputy Dillon as being "as quiet as a mouse."

The Government has no responsibility of any kind, and never had responsibility, for the views expressed in its annual report by the Central Bank Board. The Act setting up that board makes it quite clear that it has the obligation of expressing its comments on the management of the public finances, but the Government is not bound to have regard to its views in the application of its own policy, if it does not agree with them. It certainly is a useful thing to have an authoritative body in a position to express an independent view upon these important public questions and to point out the possible dangers associated with any course of action the Governmentmay follow. No country is the worse for having an independent view of that kind expressed, but the fact that the Central Bank expresses that view in no way commits the Government to following it or to agreeing with it.

What banking functions has the Central Bank?

Deputy Norton says I repudiated the Central Bank Report last year. I did nothing of the sort. I indicated that I did not agree with it and there are certain observations in this year's report that I do not agree with; but Deputies who have been alleging that the Government is controlled by the Central Bank and does what the Central Bank directs, will, I am sure, have had their confidence in the correctness of their views shaken by the most recent report. The Central Bank is caoining as loudly as ever.

I hope the Minister read Mr. Colbert's statement.

We had here the expression of a most extraordinary opinion from the spokesman of the Fine Gael Party, Deputy Declan Costello. He was put up to lead this debate and I presume he was speaking with the authority of his Party. It was quite obviously a carefully prepared speech he delivered and the views in it must be assumed to conform with Party policy. He told us that the important thing was to repatriate our external assets in any way possible and that they should be brought back even in the form of consumer goods. He said he favoured repatriation of external assets by deliberate planned deficits in trade. I think that is the policy of a madhouse. Apparently, the Fine Gael Party regard the possession of external reserves as something to be ashamed of, as some handicap to be got rid of as quickly as possible. Most other countries in the world would regard them as an essential bulwark of their economic independence.

There is obviously no sense in keeping abroad financial resources which could be more profitably employed athome, and, in case that observation of mine is misunderstood, may I make it clear that, in using the expression "profitably employed at home", I do not confine their use to purposes which are profitable in the financial sense. I disagree with the view implied in the Central Bank Report that external assets should be repatriated for utilisation here only if they can earn more money here than they are at present earning abroad. We could be satisfied with a much smaller financial return if the general economic or social consequences were sufficient to justify the change, but the aim of the Government is to induce people to bring back for use in this country any external funds they may control for the purpose of their productive investment here. We do not propose, as I think Deputy Costello suggested his Party might do, to confiscate or conscript these resources of private persons, at least not until it is clear that it is a life and death matter for the country. During the whole period I have been Minister for Industry and Commerce, I can say that no worth-while development of any kind, whether planned by a Government Department or some private group of people, ever failed to materialise because of inability to get the capital to finance it.

That worn-out argument will not stand the light of day. We had to pay a big price for the money you are talking about.

It is not an argument; it is a statement of fact.

And it just leaves us where we are.

The level of investment, whether on public or private account, is far higher now than it ever was under the Coalition Government. There was not a single project for capital investment started by the Coalition Government. Every form of investment they undertook was under the authority of an Act framed and passed through the Dáil at the instance of the previous Fianna Fáil Government.

To come back to Deputy Costello's point, I want to make it quite clearthat we do not propose to encourage the use of these external reserves to finance the importation of consumer goods, goods we are quite capable of making for ourselves. It is a good thing that Deputy Costello realises, and that others of his Party are beginning to realise, when they talk of repatriation of external assets that the only form in which they can come in is in the form of goods. As I said before, they have to visualise the process of repatriation in the form of ships coming into port and dockers going aboard and taking off goods for landing here.

We repatriated these external assets to the extent of a considerable sum of money when 4,000,000 square yards of worsted cloth were imported in 1951, but the effect of that repatriation of external assets was to put thousands of workers here out of their jobs for a year. We ended that type of repatriation. It is a good thing, however, that this keener realisation of the significance of what they are talking about is beginning to come to the Deputies of the Fine Gael Party, and that they now can talk about repatriation of external assets in a form that people can understand.

The importation of consumer goods, the bringing in of imported products we could make for ourselves, the putting out of their employment of Irish workers now engaged in the production of these products, is a policy we do not believe in and will vigorously oppose in office or out of it. Let Deputies remember that it is not a disadvantage to have external assets. It is a very considerable advantage.

Other countries are making substantial sacrifices at present in order to get into the position we are in, of having external reserves to call upon in times of difficulty. If the terms of trade should turn to our disadvantage, or if the policies of other Governments should make it impossible for us to expand our exports in sufficient degree, it will be a good thing to have these reserves of foreign currency with which to finance imports of essential materials required to keep the level of industrial activity going in this country. If we can, by utilising them,secure release from the necessity for imports by expanding production here, it will be something worth doing and something the doing of which we will encourage; but to dissipate these external assets, merely to get rid of them, on the importation of goods we do not need to import because we can produce them for ourselves, would be, as I have said, a policy fit for a madhouse.

Many matters were raised in the course of the debate which I am not in a position to deal with, including references to administrative details concerning the Department of Agriculture or Local Government. Deputies who want to talk about these matters will have other opportunities, and, so far as local government is concerned, they will have the opportunity in the very near future because the Estimate is ordered for debate.

This Bill is one which gives the Government certain powers they need to retain for the present to carry on certain important activities, including control of prices, regulation of imports, operation of currency control and other functions of that kind. It is intended to be the last Bill of its kind. By the time the Bill will be due for renewal, every Department will have brought to the Dáil proposals for legislation to give it such powers as it permanently requires. We think it undesirable that these very wide powers which some Deputies criticised should be available to the Government in normal times. We are proposing, therefore, to shed them, to get rid of them, but we cannot get rid of them until, in some cases permanent legislation gives the continuing powers we require. That is why we are asking the Dáil to pass the Bill for a further period of 15 months, on our assurance that they will not be asked to renew it at the end of that period.

Question put and declared carried.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 11th November.