Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 15 Jun 1954

Vol. 149 No. 1

Committee on Finance. - Resolution No. 2—General.

I move:—

That it is expedient to amend the law relating to customs and inland revenue (including excise) and to make further provision in connection with finance.

Those Deputies who were members of the last Dáil will remember that the leaders of the Parties which now form the Government put forward then in this House last March the reasons why we felt that an immediate general election was desirable. A general election inevitably means disturbance of the economic life of a country. Businessmen, if they are able to do so, naturally defer decisions. There is uncertainty and instability until the people have made their choice. Those were some of the reasons why we wished, in the interest of the community, to have an immediate election to cut the period of uncertainty to the minimum.

The previous Government were not prepared, however, to accept the course we then advised and, accordingly, that dislocation and instability continued for almost three months up to the time when the new Government was formed on the 2nd June. I am afraid that the unnecessary suspense has left its mark both on the country and on the revenue of the Government. Tax revenue, for example, when compared with last year, was down in the first two months of this financial year, that is, for April and May, by £1,750,000. Even allowing for the reduced balances carried in on 1st April, there was a drop of £1,250,000 in the current collection of taxes.

This Government has, however, now been elected with a clear mandate from the people and with a substantial majority in this House. The decisiveness of the people's verdict and the assurance of that majority in the Dáil will, I hope, make it clear to everyone that we can look ahead to a period of political stability—political stability which, as everyone realises, is one of the requisites for economic stability and progress.

The present Taoiseach made it clear also in March that there was another reason why an immediate election was then desirable. We were approaching the commencement of a new financial year—the period when the Government of the day must introduce its budgetary proposals. In modern times, the Budget expresses not merely the manner in which revenue will be collected and services paid for but also the economic policy of the Government of the day. We pointed out then that by deferring the election, the new Administration would be deprived of the opportunities which the framing of a Budget presents. That was the position in which the Government found itself when it came into office two weeks ago. We inherited a situation which it was too late to change. Two months of the financial year had gone and obviously the year would be far advanced before Ministers had an opportunity of making a thorough study of the problems facing them in their respective spheres of administration. By then it would be too late for different financial proposals to have real operative effect in this financial year and the inevitable delay would merely add to the uncertainty and dislocation of business and retard that recovery which the very stability of this Government will bring.

The Government has, therefore, decided that it has no option but to adopt for this year the proposals of my predecessor and, accordingly, the Resolutions which have been circulated and the Finance Bill which follows merely carry those proposals into effect.

At the same time I should inform the Dáil that a rigorous examination of the Estimates for the Public Services prepared by our predecessors has already commenced with a view to the elimination of extravagance and waste and to the securing of a better return for the expenditure of public moneys.

We hope and believe that, in that way, and under our policy of economic expansion we will be able in time to achieve our objects as a Government.

I stress the phrase "in time" because it will clearly take time for our policies to operate and for their success to become apparent. The Government, however, does feel that it is essential that something be done soon to ease the burden of the cost of living, particularly where it falls most heavily.

While it is right that the best possible provision should be made for those members of the community who are unfortunately suffering from sickness or disease, it is wholly illogical at the same time to allow the health of others to be endangered by undernutrition. Few will deny that one of the articles of food of highest nutritional value—particularly for children— is butter. It is the common experience of each member of the Government that the high retail price of butter is one of the principal causes of anxiety to people everywhere, not merely in the cities and towns but also in the rural areas. The poorer people and those with large families find it particularly onerous. The provision of enough butter for her children is almost invariably the greatest single source of worry to the mother of a family when she is considering the purchase of her weekly food supply. In recognition of the importance of butter in the people's diet and to bring about a reduction in the cost of living as part of its social policy, the Government proposes to lower the price of butter by 5d. per lb. as from the 23rd August next.

I need hardly stress how substantial is this contribution now being made by the Government. It represents a reduction of 10 per cent. in the present price and it will enable the housewife to provide more butter for her family or of course if she prefers, she will have more money available from the saving to make other purchases. It represents a reduction in the cost of living that will be felt in almost every home and it is one that will lighten the load of the household budget where it weighs most heavily. This concession will cost £1,250,000 in the current year and the Government is taking firm steps to meet that cost in the manner I have already indicated. The appropriate Supplementary Estimate will be introduced by the Minister for Agriculture in due course. I should add that this will reduce the price of butter to its approximate external economic level and the butter subsidy, therefore, operates to cover the gap between the price at which butter is produced and the price at which it could be bought from abroad.

Having regard to the magnitude of that concession, it is the maximum that can be made at present. In one newspaper there was a report that there would be a Supplementary Budget in the autumn. If believed, that would cause some dislocation in certain trades. I must make it clear therefore that such a suggestion is entirely without foundation. So that traders and others may plan what purchases they should make and what stocks they should carry, I should state there will be no Supplementary Budget and no further concessions, remissions or impositions during this financial year.

The Government is also committed to the payment of the portion of the arbitration award for civil servants which was not implemented by the previous Government. That commitment, which covers the Army, the Gardaí and teachers as well as the Civil Service, will be honoured, but until the full examination of the commitments left to us by our predecessors has been completed, I cannot indicate the probable date of payment, but it may be taken that it will be prior to the expiration of the current financial year. I must, however, indicate that we have taken over no legacy such as that acquired by our predecessors on the 13th June, 1951. When they acceded to office, they had no less than £22,500,000 ready and available in cash in the Marshall Aid Loan Counterpart Fund to carry on the capital programme.

We are not in the same easy position. There are no similar funds available for us in the Marshall Aid Loan Fund, or elsewhere. On the contrary, in order to meet immediate capital commitments, we will have to obtain accommodation. The difficulties of that situation by comparison with 1951 are at once apparent. It is essential, therefore, that a real drive to expand savings should be commenced and that it should have the active co-operation of every citizen and particularly of those bodies in close contact with the community. In that way our people can help to complete the capital development programme. At the same time, we shall take due care to ensure that private enterprise has adequate access to the capital market for the funds so vitally necessary for the fullest commercial and industrial development. As that development progresses, and with wise and prudent handling by the Government of national affairs, we are confident that the resources of the country will be adequate to provide a reasonable living for town and country alike.

The Chair regrets that it has become the practice for visitors introduced into the Gallery to participate in the proceedings of the House by expressing approval, or otherwise, of what is said in this Chamber. Deputies are responsible for the conduct of the visitors they introduce into the Gallery and this participation by visitors in the proceedings of the House must cease.

Would the Minister say when will the reduction of 5d. per lb. in the price of butter take place?

On the 23rd August next.

Everything that is produced has to be paid for at some time or another by somebody. Although the Minister for Finance has indicated that he has found that the yield of taxation is down by £1,250,000 for the first few months of this financial year, he is now proposing to spend another £2,250,000. That money will have to be raised somewhere. If it is not raised in this particular year, it will have to be raised next year and in the following years.

The farmers must continue to get their present price for milk and therefore this 5d. will have to come from the taxpayers this year or next year and the following years.

We have a lot of things to sell.

If it is not paid by the taxpayers this year it will have to be paid on the double next year and in the following years. It is very, very easy for a Government to shed its responsibility for the future and to spend and borrow in order to avoid political unpopularity or get the support of certain elements such as Fine Gael had to get in order to become the Government.

And which you could not get.

It is very easy for a Government to do that. If this game is continued by a succession of Governments and if this kind of action by Fine Gael is to become the standard for all Governments, our people will very quickly become beggars on foreign doorsteps looking for the money with which to pay for their imports. As a result of a similar policy in the three previous years of Coalition our taxation this year is £4,000,000 more than it should be or than it would have been had the Coalition Government paid its way.

It is quite obvious now that this Government is embarking on another series of expenditure which will have a similar result. The Government will avoid raising the proper amount of taxation to meet expenditure; it will avoid taxing within the financial year by borrowing and leaving the debt to be paid next year and in the following years. Those who have the long-term interests of the country at heart, either in this Dáil or outside it, must be disappointed with a Government, irrespective of its composition, that deliberately sets out on such a policy. The net result of the few words that the Minister for Finance has said here to-day is that he feels that the Exchequer will be at least £1,250,000 worse off than the Fianna Fáil Minister for Finance estimated. Tax revenue was down by that amount in the first few months of this year. In addition, he has taken on expenditure of at least £2,250,000 in respect of butter and the civil servants. Does that mean that the Government deliberately intends to add £3,750,000 to the national debt? There is no doubt that that is what it does mean as a minimum. It may be more. We shall have to pay for the installation of this Government next year and in the following years as we had to pay for the Coalition Government after they left office.

The housewife will have 5d. a lb. off butter.

Deputy O'Leary must restrain himself. He will have to conduct himself in an orderly way.

During the election, of course, a number of people would have been very disappointed if the Fine Gael spokesmen had told them, despite all the advertisements issued by that Party about reducing the cost of living and reducing taxation, that for the first year they were going to impose the rates of taxation which had been announced by Fianna Fáil. Instead of reducing tea, as they had promised by implication from 5/- and 6/- a lb. down to 2/8, of coffee from 5/- and 6/- a lb. down to 4/- and of sugar from 7d. down to 4d., bread from 9½d. to 6½d. and butter from 4/2 per lb. down to 2/10, the one thing that has happened is that butter alone is to come down not by 1/4 per lb. but by 5d.

You could not do it when you were in office.

Of course, we could have done it if we were so minded and if we were so dishonest as to avoid taxing for the current year at the expense of leaving it to future taxpayers next year and the year afterwards to meet our bills. That is exactly the position, even with the 5d. The lesson which the people have to learn from all this is to be more than doubly suspicious when Fine Gael come along making such promises as they did make in every paper throughout the country—promises such as this.

Is that the Irish Press?

This is from the Southern Star, this particular one. In that newspaper, at the last general election, it was indicated that butter was not to come down by 5d. per lb. but was to come down by 1/4 per lb. Not only was butter to come down by 1/4 per lb. but sugar was to come down by 3d., tea was to come down by a few shillings per lb., flour was to come down from 4/6 to 2/8, and bread was to come down from 9½d. to 6½d. That is what the people thought they were voting for; but the vast majority of the people, that is those who directed themselves to the question as to whether to believe Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil, believed that what Fine Gael were promising was impossible. The result was that they voted for the Fianna Fáil policy.

There were other promises made in this particular advertisement which I have here in my hand. There were to be "old age pensions for all, with the abolition of the means test." That was put out by Deputy S. Collins and Deputy O'Sullivan, both of whom got is on the promise of old age pensions for all. We did not hear the Minister for Finance talk about that or about the abolition of the means test.

Another of the things promised was top prices for farmers for all their products. There is one question which I want to ask the Minister for Finance. It is this, that I take it that this 5d. per lb. subsidy is on creamery butter only? I take it that the amount of money which he mentioned of £1,250,000 would only cover that. That means that the ordinary farmers' butter is to be left without any subsidy. The subsidy is to go only to the creamery farmers so that the ordinary farmer, making butter in his own house which he sells at the present time at 2/6 a lb., will have to compete against the creamery butter carrying the subsidy. He can only get 2/6 a lb. for his butter now, and will have to compete against cheaper creamery butter in the future. In other words, he will have to sell his butter against the creamery butter, which is to be 5d. per lb. cheaper. The Minister for Finance has made no provision for a subsidy for farmers' butter. I think that is quite an invidious position to create.

You did not do anything about it.

The Wexford farmers who are producing farmers' butter at the present time and are selling it at 2/6 will, I think, have very little thanks for the Minister for Finance or for those who support him when he gives a subsidy of 5d. per lb. on creamery butter and nothing on farmers' butter.

Do you object to it?

I do not want to make the task of the Minister for Finance any more difficult either here to-day or for the future. I hope that, even though they got into the position of forming a Government with other groups in the Dáil on the basis of promises which could not be fulfilled, as long as they are in office they will behave as responsible individuals.

You were 20 years in office and you did nothing.

I wish to direct the attention of the Ceann Comhairle to the fact that Deputy O'Leary is obviously starting off on a campaign in this Dáil similar to that which he pursued in the last Dáil of preventing anyone in the Fianna Fáil Benches from speaking. I want to call the attention of the Ceann Comhairle to that.

I do not think he will prevent anyone from speaking. His interruptions are grossly disorderly.

I trust that Fine Gael, notwithstanding the showing which they have made here to-day of increasing State expenditure by £2,250,000, in spite of an anticipated deficit of £1,250,000, will stop at that, and not add further intolerable burdens to the backs of the taxpayers next year and the years thereafter.

Did not the Minister for Finance tell you that he would not?

I am asking all the Fine Gael people to keep on breaking their promises to the people, the promises which they made when they implied that they were going to reduce all these things.

You want it all done overnight.

I am now issuing a warning to Deputy O'Leary that I will carry out, when I say to him that I am warning him that he will have to cease interrupting.

I am asking Fine Gael, which is the responsible Party in this Coalition Government, to behave on the basis of having responsibilities to the people, and not only to the voters of this year, but to the people who will have to meet tax bills and have to endeavour to build up the country next year and the years thereafter. If Fine Gael are going to play ducks and drakes with national finance, as they did during the last Coalition, it is going to be almost impossible to get the country back on its feet again. After the last spree we had to come in here to take the responsibility of putting on very crushing taxation in order to get the finances of the country restored to a sound basis. We had to impose the measures which had the result of cutting down our adverse trade balance from something like the £61,000,000 which it was running then to under £9,000,000. But if Fine Gael are just going to throw money around and spend the money they should meet by taxation—borrow it and spend it— then the time is coming when it will be very difficult to get Parties to come in here and face the unpopularity of putting the matter to rights. I warn the people who are behind Fine Gael throughout the country that they should have their eyes open as to what Fine Gael are doing and those of them who could think a little bit beyond to-day should make their views known so that to-day's bit of dishonesty in public finance should be the end of blatant dishonesty in financial matters. It is bad enough that we are—by the Minister's statement to-day—compelled to add £3,750,000 to the national debt next year, but it would be much worse if that matter progressed until, instead of £3,750,000, it might be—I am talking now of the deadweight national debt—it might become £9,000,000 £10,000,000, £15,000,000 or £20,000,000. If a modern Government is so minded it can carry out that process.

I trust that we will not have to debate this thing again and that for the future the Fine Gael Party will live up to its responsibility, which is the responsibility of any Irish Government, to safeguard the finances of the Irish people instead of putting them to ruin.

I would just like to say a few words on this. I heard Deputy Aiken talking when the first matter on the Order Paper was introduced by the Minister for Finance and the tenor of Deputy Aiken's complaint at that stage was that the Fine Gael Party and other groups supporting this Government and in particular the leader of the Fine Gael Party, the Minister for Education, had advised the people during the general election that one of the first tasks of a new Government would be to lighten the load, to lighten the burden, and that the Minister for Finance was breaking that undertaking by moving Item No. 3—I think it was—or No. 4 on the Order Paper. The next time I heard Deputy Aiken speaking, he was complaining because the Minister for Finance and the Government had in no uncertain way set about implementing their undertaking to lighten the load. I think that any Deputy on these benches and indeed most Deputies opposite will feel as I do that the present Government has been elected with a mandate from the people to do their utmost to lighten the load which was imposed by the Fianna Fáil Government, and so far as I am concerned I believe that the Minister for Finance and the Government as a whole deserves to be complimented and congratulated on the initial step they have taken in that direction.

It was amusing to hear Deputy Aiken talking, using such phrases as "throwing money around,""going on a spending spree," within half-an-hour of hearing the Minister for External Affairs giving the total of the money spent by none other than Deputy Aiken on the buying of a mansion in Paris for £153,000 odd. Deputy Aiken was the man responsible for that, and Deputy Aiken then talks of "spending sprees" and "throwing money around." I wonder did he let his mind wander back down the corridors of time even a few years and think of the animal he was galloping around this House some years ago—Tulyar—for £250,000, or did he think of any of the other items of expenditure incurred by himself and his colleagues in the last Government. Deputy Aiken refers also and appeals in a very moving voice to the people on this side of the House not to allow the Minister for Finance to impose intolerable burdens on the people. Did it ever occur to him that, sitting within a few yards of him, was his leader who, two or three years ago, had, in all solemnity, told the people of this country that they were staggering under the weight of taxation, and giving an undertaking—implied, if not stated in so many words—that his Government, the Government to which Deputy Aiken belonged, was not going to add to that staggering burden of taxation? Yet the ex-Minister, who now talks about "intolerable burdens," was a member of the Government who immediately after his leader had referred to the people "staggering under the burden of taxation," permitted—not only permitted but by deliberate Government action—imposed further taxation on the people, taxation both direct and indirect, and taxation which, in any event, the people were not able to avoid paying.

I think it was the ex-Minister for Posts and Telegraphs who in the last Dáil complained that it was not fair to refer to such things as the increase in wireless licences, the increase in postage rates and so on as taxation, that it was not taxation because the people need not use these facilities if they did not want to. The fact of the matter is that nowadays these facilities are used as a matter of necessity by practically every section of the people. These were some of the intolerable burdens to which Deputy Aiken should have been directing his attention over the past three years. It certainly at least calls for comment that in the second day of the new Dáil when Deputy Aiken finds himself in the Opposition Benches that he should so trippingly talk of "spending sprees" and of "throwing money around" and of "intolerable burdens". I want to say, as I indicated at the beginning, I have no doubt whatever that the people of this country will look to the present Government to use their best endeavours to lighten the load as the Minister for Education undertook to do when he said it would be one of the first tasks of the Government. The Government is to be complimented on the steps they have taken already. I believe that they will continue to have, as they have at the moment, the support of the overwhelming majority of the people, so long as they continue on the road that has been mapped out by them and has been indicated by the Minister for Finance here to-day.

I agreed with many people when this Government was formed that one of the best means of vindicating the policy which was pursued by the last Government was to let them have the alternative for a period in order to convince the people of what a good many of them were already aware—the insincerity of the Parties which now compose this Coalition Government. Those of us who fought the election and went around the country know what the people expected, and do expect, from the Parties which now form the Coalition Government. They expect what was implied in their advertisements during the election campaign, that was a complete reversal of the Fianna Fáil policy both with regard to prices and taxation; and they will be the most disappointed people that ever were in this country when they read their papers to-morrow to find that they have been merely given a sop equal to about 1/3 per week per household for all the promises made by the different Parties who came together to form a Coalition—5d. per lb. off butter without telling the people where the money is to be found. They have no doubt whatever that it will come out of the pockets of the people themselves. That is the sum and substance of all the promises made and all the bribery that was used to succeed in getting sufficient members to form this Government. It is the greatest betrayal of the confidence of the people that ever was witnessed and, mark you, an assurance is given that nothing further is going to be done.

The Minister for Finance has gone out of his way to point out that there will be no Supplementary Budget. In other words the people can expect no further reductions as a result of Government policy. That is the reason why I am glad, and every member on these benches is glad, that that Government has come into power, because one of the best means of convincing the people that Fianna Fáil were on the right line and on the straight road is to give them the alternative for whatever length that alternative was capable of remaining in this House. I have no doubt that there is one thing certain and sure——(Interruptions). I heard Deputy O'Leary once in my life making a speech in this House and it was a very poor effort.

Five long years——

Mr. Brennan

He is continually interrupting, but on one occasion I heard him make a speech, or endeavouring to in this House, and it was a very feeble effort indeed. One of the things that will convince——

I have not in this Chair the authority of the Ceann Comhairle who has been elected to conduct the affairs of this House in an orderly manner, but while I am here I have the responsibility of seeing that order is preserved. I prefer to do that by co-operation than by regulation, and I appeal to all sides of the House to listen to the debates calmly and to allow the speakers to develop their points.

Mr. Brennan

That was the reason why we are perfectly pleased and absolutely satisfied that the people have got a chance and got the alternative, because we are convinced that when the next opportunity arises to return Fianna Fáil to this House as a Government it will be a simple matter indeed. We were told about the high price of bread, flour, tea, sugar and the various things—beer and tobacco. There is not a word about them to-day. They will remain at the same figure. There is an assurance that there will be no further reductions. There will be no Supplementary Budget to make any further effort to implement all the promises made about these foodstuffs, and the people will to-morrow, when they get their daily papers, be disillusioned and once again realise that they have been fooled on another occasion by all the groups who comprise the members of this Coalition Government.

As far as we are concerned, we welcome reductions in any foodstuffs, but we would like to be told explicitly from what source the money is to be derived, because if the people are to be saved 1/8 a week it might be a terrible thing if the poorer sections had to contribute maybe 5/- later on towards that reduction. I wonder if the better-off section of the community has to-day been given a gift of almost £2,000,000? What is that going to do for the hunger-marching unemployed of Dublin we heard so much about during the past few years? What benefit is it going to be to the small farmers and the rural community of this country? That was a very shrewd political move in order to purchase votes of the people in the cities and towns, but it is very poor consolation to the small farmers and the rural community. I think that the people are now being taught a lesson, and it should not now be necessary to teach them a second one. So far as we are concerned, we will lose no opportunity to expose in this House everything that is a betrayal of what those Parties promised during the election.

Deputy Aiken has already instanced the implied promise in the advertisement which was widely distributed throughout every constituency during the election campaign. Every single increase in prices was instanced, with the implied suggestion, which the people definitely expected, that on the first opportunity there would be a Supplementary Budget or a complete reversal of the one already brought in, for which an opportunity was presented here to-day; yet the Minister for Finance availed of that opportunity to confirm the proposal already made by the Fianna Fáil Minister for Finance prior to the dissolution of the Dáil. Now the people will have to wait until they are at some future date once again delivered from a financial mess by a Fianna Fáil Government. That is exactly what the position amounts to. On this occasion we hope that when the Coalition have gone as far as they can go, as they did on the last occasion, they will publicly admit that they have brought the country to the brink of financial ruin, and not use any other excuses for the dissolution of the Dáil, so that the people will be clear in their minds as to what the position actually is. We had three years of the Coalition before, and the Dáil was dissolved without the slightest warning and for no possible reason. We afterwards discovered what the reason was. The Coalition Government knew that if they had gone on for another year they could never come back into existence in this country again. We must ensure that when they dissolve the Dáil on this occasion it will be made quite clear to the people that they have gone on as far as they have been able to go and that the real reason for a dissolution is that they have brought the country to the brink of financial collapse. That is our duty here, and we have an important duty to the people whom we represent.

The sop of 5d. per lb. off butter, the total thing that Fine Gael and the various Parties who comprise the Coalition have to offer the people, will disillusion them, I hope, once and for all. As I say, they will now have a chance of considering the Fianna Fáil Government policy by comparison, which perhaps is the most convincing means. It is not much use pointing the way to the straight road. I hope that some future Party will have the courage of their convictions to do unpopular things if they lead to the proper development of the country and to the development of a sounder economy. That approach will eventually get over the system whereby immediate appeals are made to the voters to get their support at election time by attracting them without considering what the future is going to bring or what those sops may lead to in the future. Fianna Fáil will have courage to put before them a long-term policy for the development of the country even though it requires unpopular things to be done at the time.

It is no wonder that the public sometimes lose confidence in politicians generally when they are prepared to play up to the public at election time to the extent of offering them anything and everything for the sake of purchasing votes and, immediately the election is over, pursue any sort of policy they may desire. I know that the people who supported Fine Gael were definitely expecting a complete reversal of the Fianna Fáil policy. They expected reduced taxes and a general reduction in prices and that they would find to-day a sort of heaven on earth in this country. They will find out to-morrow that it all boils down to 5d. a lb. off butter, without any indication of the source from which the money is to be derived. They know perfectly well that they must pay for anything they get in the way of subsidies. They certainly will be a disillusioned people.

As I said at the outset, the best means by which the people will eventually discover the soundness and the honesty of Fianna Fáil policy is a chance to compare it with what they find in operation as the alternative. That is the reason why we welcome the change of Government. We know it will make our opportunity to come back, solid, increased in strength and numbers and to take over, as we did before, whatever mess may be left behind.

It is amusing to hear Deputy Aiken and Deputy Brennan. I know it is hard on them that they have to go back into opposition. They speak of coalitions. They had a coalition for three years with four Independents. Where are the Independents to-day?

You have a few yourselves.

The people gave them their answer. I am very glad to come back as a second Labour Deputy from Wexford, in spite of State cars, in spite of letters sent from the Department of Health to every poor woman in my constituency, asking her about her children and saying how well off they would be under Dr. Ryan. I came back, and Deputy Corish came back, in spite of slander, in spite of everything that could be used by Fianna Fáil speakers in my constituency. I, as representing the working-class people of my constituency, am glad to have the announcement made here to-day of a reduction of 5d. a lb. in the price of butter. That will be welcomed by every housewife in the Twenty-Six Counties.

For three years, under Deputy de Valera's Government, we had a high cost of living. Unemployed marchers in the City of Dublin were lying down on O'Connell Bridge to bring home to the then Taoiseach that there was unemployment. Of course, Fianna Fáil said that the figures were not alarming. The ex-Taoiseach said he did not know how many people emigrated. They knew the numbers of horses that were exported and the countries to which they went, but they did not know where the human beings went. They were not interested. The people gave them their answer in the ballot boxes.

I welcomed the election, because, in my constituency, the working-class people, the aged and the poor were the sufferers. "Where would the money come from?" we heard. Did the present Taoiseach ask this House where would the money come from to pay the Aga Khan for Tulyar? Fianna Fáil came in here a few weeks ago and told us that C.I.E. were going to balance the Budget. Where was the £4,250,000 to come from to buy diesel engines from an English contractor? We heard nothing from the Fianna Fáil back benchers on those occasions. We had a ½d. Budget. We had the ex-Taoiseach telling the people to keep the straight road. Yes—the straight road to emigration of our people and starvation of our old age pensioners, under a Government who, for 20 years, had tricked the people every time an election took place that they were the Republican Party. Yet, only for the inter-Party Government, in 1948, the Republicans would still be in jail in the glasshouse in the Curragh. I was glad to be in that Government to release those young Irishmen—the married men to go home to their wives and families and the sons to their mothers and fathers—who were held by Deputy de Valera as head of a Republican Government.


I would ask the Deputy to keep to the points of the Resolution before the House.

There was talk about a straight road on the other side. I am just reminding them of the straight road. We are back here now and we do not want any slurs cast upon us because we are on this side of the House. We went to the country. We told the people that, if elected, we would support an inter-Party Government. We made no bones about that. What did Fianna Fáil say? They would not co-operate with anybody. They wanted a dictatorship. They are now a minority. It is all very fine for Deputies to attack the Labour Party for being with Fine Gael, to attack Clann na Poblachta or the small farmers' Party for being with Fine Gael. In the history of this country it was the Fianna Fáil Government who put the farmers in jail for looking for their rights.


I have asked the Deputy to keep to the points of the Resolution before the House.

Yes. I am keeping to it. The country welcomes the change. This is the second meeting of the new Dáil. What did we hear from Deputy Aiken? What did we hear from Deputy Brennan? There will be headlines in the Irish Press to-morrow that there is no reduction in prices, only 5d a lb. off butter. Is not it a great thing that, within such a short time, a Government can take 5d. off the price of butter? Is not it a great thing to the poor people? Is not it a great thing to the citizens of Dublin? It must be admitted that it is a good thing. That is the kind of thing we all want and hope to do as we go along. We know that people cannot do wonders overnight.

You did not tell them that during the election.

When Deputy de Valera said that Fianna Fáil were leaving the country in a sound position, the present Taoiseach answered him and said that we did not know that until we got in behind the iron curtain and saw how the finances of the country were. These are very true words.

And how are they?

We do not know at present what the position is because Fianna Fáil told the people, in their Budget, that C.I.E. would balance it, a company for which this House voted £2,000,000 over a number of years and in respect of which Fianna Fáil allowed taxes to go up and bus fares and train fares to be increased. Yet we were told by the ex-Minister for Finance, Deputy MacEntee, that C.I.E. would balance the Budget. That came as a surprise. Everybody wanted to know how it could be done in view of the fact that the House had to subsidise that company for years.

I am speaking as an ordinary member of the rank and file, living in a community of poor people. I have been in public life since 1934. The most difficult task of a public man is to try to help his constituents who are living on home assistance and similar low incomes. That is the hardest job a T.D. has to perform. Our Dáil work is comparatively easy. The local duties with which every T.D. is confronted, and the effort to get something for the poor people, are the most difficult part of our work. Now that we have a Government comprising representatives of Labour, businessmen and farmers, why should Fianna Fáil try to put across every cross-wipe they can to discredit the Labour Party? They should remember that it was the Labour Party away back in 1932 who helped to elect Deputy de Valera as Taoiseach. Let us look back over the years. When the Labour Party was pressing Deputy de Valera at the time to do certain things for the people, what did the then Taoiseach say? He said:

"I cannot get on with these Labour fellows. I will dissolve the Dáil; I will go to the country and get an over-all majority."

A Deputy

And he did.


I would remind the Deputy that we are not here now to fight the last election or previous elections. We are here now to face the situation that has arisen as a result of the last election. We have a Financial Resolution before the House and I would ask the Deputy to keep to it.

Quite so, but other Deputies were allowed to refer even to the local elections and to the last general election. Deputy Aiken referred to the last election, and Deputy Brennan also referred to it and to what the people of the country would say. I think I am quite in order by reminding people on the opposite side of what they said in the past. However, it is the future I want to look to. That is what the country is looking to. There is no doubt that any Government which remains too long in office becomes stale. Surely when Fianna Fáil spent 20 years in office, they should have done all the things they promised to do, but they did not do these things. They were, as I say, 20 years in office with a majority. I think that, in fairness to the new Government, they should receive the co-operation of everybody in this House. We want to see conditions improved in the country. We want to see the unemployed taken away from the labour exchanges and provided with work. We want to see houses provided for the people and the cost of living brought down.

During the time that Fianna Fáil was in office for the last three years, they brought in over £1,000,000 worth of New Zealand butter. Did any of that money go to the Irish farmer? No, it went to the New Zealand farmer. When we came in here before in 1948, what did we find? We found that the previous Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Lemass, had brought in wheat at the highest price in the world, and the inter-Party Government had to fulfil the obligation of paying for it.

And it was full of weeds.

We found that coal was brought in from South Africa, although we could not get rid of the turf in the Phoenix Park. I remember we had to pay 6 per cent. interest on the money borrowed——


I have asked the Deputy to refrain from introducing these matters at this stage.

All right.


There is a time and place for these matters, but not on this Resolution.

I welcome the statement made by the Minister for Finance. He is a young man, and, mind you, his job is not a bed of roses. We all have an idea of that. It will be the job of the new Government to put into operation some of the other things that all the Parties on this side of the House promised, such as pensions at 60 for women and at 65 for men. We welcome that in the Labour Party and I believe it is long overdue. I think that all men should have pensions at 65 and women at 60. Similarly, we welcome any reduction in the cost of living. We believe that it can be brought about. We believe that the spending of money on Constellations and on schemes such as the building of the Bray Road, Kilmainham Jail and on new Government buildings should cease. We believe that all these schemes were nonsense and should not have been introduced by Fianna Fáil. I often wonder how Deputy de Valera allowed his Party to introduce them. Please God, with the co-operation we asked for from the people—the people have given us a good working majority—we shall be able to carry through our programme. We are here representing all sections of the people, except Fianna Fáil, who can see nobody else's point of view but their own. We believe that this country can be run more economically. We believe that the unnecessary expenditure incurred for the last three years with the help of certain Deputies who had no authority from the people —the four Independents—was not carrying out the wishes of the Irish people and the general election has shown that.

It is no new thing for me to have to fight a general election. I have fought five general elections, not to count local elections, and the people I represent sent me back here every time. I must be satisfying the people of County Wexford, and if I were not I would not be here now. I know some of the Fianna Fáil Deputies who were here before the last election and their faces are missing from this House to-day. They are gone. I think that if for the next five years this Government make the progress which they hope to make, Fianna Fáil will be dead for all time. I say to the Minister that I am delighted, as a working man, that it will be possible for us to broadcast to the country to-night that during the short time we have been in office we have been able to do something for the people we represent by bringing down the price of butter by 5d. per lb. Please God, the people will be able to buy butter now whereas under Fianna Fáil many of them were able to buy only Stork Margarine for themselves and their children.

One of the statements made by Deputy O'Leary was that now the Labour Party were looking to the future. The future, at least for the term of this financial year, involves the fulfilment of one of the promises made by the Parties composing the Government. I refer to the reduction of 5d. per lb. in the price of butter but it is pertinent, for some of the Labour representatives especially, to ask or to get their Ministers in the present Government to ask, what is going to be done about the promises in regard to the price of the loaf? The price of bread and the price of flour were frequently referred to on platforms during the election compaign, and a guarantee was given by canvassers that the price of these commodities would be reduced.

I am just wondering what effort was made by the Labour Party to see to it that an immediate reduction will take place in the price of those commodities. There were other promises in respect to the price of drink and the price of cigarettes. Over the last three years we have had various speakers, especially from the Labour Party, who said, and I thought at the time honestly believed, that unemployment was caused in the brewing and distilling industries by the present high price of drink. Yet we have a guarantee from the Minister for Finance that in the remainder of this financial year which has just started there will be no reductions on those lines. We had promises of reduced taxation, but again we cannot see any evidence that in the next eight or nine months taxation will be reduced. As a matter of fact, the announcement made to-day will increase taxation after this financial year—the payment of the £3,000,000 will mean taxation unless the money is found out of some of the money to be borrowed or to be got otherwise.

When the people read to-morrow's papers I think they will get a shock— especially those who gave their votes on the clear understanding that all or at least a major part of the three or four different programmes expounded by the combined Parties who now form the Government would be fulfilled, and when they find that all of those promises amount to what might be regarded as 1/- or ? of a benefit per week to the ordinary householder. The people will welcome a reduction in food prices, but they will also examine the reduction to find what it means. The change of Government has meant to them, at least for the remainder of the financial year, a benefit of not more than ? per household per week.

I do not think it is right that the affairs of the country should be bartered in that way. There may be temptation at election time to do certain things in order to win votes. Certainly the programme, and the publicity given to the programme by way of advertisements and handbills, has amounted to very little here. If a poster were got out before the election pointing out to the people that for the coming year they would get the one and only benefit Deputy O'Leary refers to, the benefit of 5d. per lb. reduction in the price of butter, I fear that the Coalition Government would not hold the seats they occupy now.

They would have headed the poll everywhere.

It took a very large litany of promises to put them over there. If the one and only promise now fulfilled had been the one and only promise made, I think the result of the election would have been different.

You said it could not be done.

I, in common with pretty well most of the Deputies in this House, irrespective of how they show it, welcome this reduction in the price of butter. From every election platform throughout the country assurances were given by my Party that one of the points of our programme would be, if we associated with the Government or caused any Government to be put in power, to require a promise that the prices of essential foodstuffs would be reduced to within the means of the ordinary person. We made that promise here following the 1952 Budget and now that the election is over, there is no reason why we should vary from the promise and assurance we gave the people then. During our association with other groups we found they were equally in agreement with us that the cost of living was too high. It was a pleasure to be able to announce, as we did announce in the public papers prior to our being elected, that there was common agreement amongst the Parties that that policy would be implemented. Here to-day is the first instalment of it.

I am quite sure that when I go back to my constituents I will not be treated with the scorn Deputy Cunningham seems to think there will be because butter has been reduced by 5d. a lb. I will not be able to say that all whiskey and stout and various other things are tumbling down, to-day or to-morrow. Things will have to be done gradually, but the Labour Party is quite determined, now as it ever has been, that this is but an instalment of the good things that are to come. No ordinary, sane, commonsense Deputy could expect the Minister for Finance or his Cabinet to plunge in and say suddenly that everything in the other Government is now being changed automatically. No one with any common sense expects that. The people know that this is a good instalment, that it is a promise and an assurance to the people that this Government is going to keep the promises made from the several platforms during the election. The fact that it costs £1,250,000 is significant. It is a considerable sum to find. The Labour Party always said they were not too worried as to where the money came from—we knew there was no section of the community so hard hit as the workers, and if it had to go on to some other section then we were satisfied. We believe, however—and whether we are right or wrong will be shown in the finances of the next Budget—that savings can be made that will compensate not only for this but for the other reductions that we hope will follow in times to come.

It is not butter alone, Deputy Cunningham says, that weighs heavily: the price of bread, we know, is weighing heavily. Surely no sane Deputy is foolish enough to think that any Government or Minister could examine anything in connection with a reduction in the price of flour or bread until such time as the harvest is taken, until we know what we will get in and what we have to pay out. That is quite obvious. I have no hesitation in saying, as a Labour man, that I hope and expect—and will in time demand, if necessary—that bread come down to within the means of the ordinary worker, that sugar will come down; but these things have to be done gradually. We in the Labour Party are in this Government not because Fine Gael and ourselves want to grab office, not because Clann na Talmhan and ourselves want to grab office, but to help the other Parties to run this country in such a way that the ordinary people will be able to live.

We expect a lot more things than a reduction in the price of bread, butter and sugar. We want to see employment given, we want to see extravagance stopped and we want to see sane living. We will be asking and hoping for co-operation from Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and every other group in this country. I do not want to make any political capital out of it. I only want to say, in the name of our Party, that as an instalment—and only as an instalment—of Labour Party policy and inter-Party policy we welcome the reduction in the price of butter.

Ba mhaith liom cupla focal a rá faoin gcainnt a rinne an tAire Airgeadais agus faoi chuid den chaint a rinne Teachtaí eile a labhair sa díospóireacht seo. Tá sé suimiúil a chloisint anois cuid den chaint atá ar siúl ag Teachtaí a bhaineann leis na dreamanna atá ag taobhú leis an Rialtas agus an chaint sin a chur i gcomparáid le cuid den chaint a chualamar ó na daoine sin i rith an toghchán agus roimh an toghchán agus anseo féin sa Dáil le trí bliana anuas. Tá sé an-shuimiúil anois an chaint chiúin, bhinn a chloisimíd anseo inniu a chur i gcomparáid leis an ruascar cainte a chualamar annso cupla bliain ó shoin nó fiú amháin san am sar ar scoir an Dáil deireannach roimh an toghcháin mór.

There are a few matters which were referred to by some of the speakers in this Debate that I should like to follow up. I should like, in particular, to refer to two matters which were mentioned by Deputy M. J. O'Higgins in his speech here to-day. First, he referred to the recent purchase by the Department of External Affairs of a premises to house our Embassy in Paris. That arrangement was initiated by the previous Government: I do not know whether or not it was concluded before they left office. If the purchase was such an outrage and such a gross extravagance from the point of view of expenditure, why have the new Government, instead of approving the matter, not broken up the whole thing and stopped the purchase?

Because your Government had paid the money before we came into office.

I should like to ask the present Minister for Finance this question. If he had been the Minister for Finance, would he have stopped that arrangement to purchase a better premises for our Ambassador and Embassy in Paris? Will it be denied that when the Coalition Government were previously in office a premises was purchased in London for the housing of our Ambassador and Embassy there? Is it or is it not a fact that a premises was purchased in London for a sum of £200,000—a premises with a lease of only 40 years—when Deputy MacBride was Minister for External Affairs? If so, why was that arrangement permitted by the then Minister for Finance and by several Fine Gael Ministers who were associated with that Government? It was let through because it was considered, as it was considered in connection with Paris, that the premises that were then in occupation by the Embassy were unsuitable. I understand that some of the rooms in which the staff had to work in Paris were reconstructed stables and that the premises which were offered as suitable premises were purchased on the advice of people who were best qualified to advise in the matter. That is the position as I understand it. It is very easy to make political capital out of it. However, will the Deputy who was Minister for Finance in the Coalition Government explain how it was that a sum of £200,000 was paid for a premises in London, a premises which had a lease of 40 years? I understand that that sum of money was paid over.

Deputy O'Higgins also referred to the purchase of Tulyar by the Board of Governors of the National Stud as an extravagance of the previous Government. I should like to pose this question to the Minister for Finance. Is it or is it not a fact that not one penny of Government money was spent on the purchase of Tulyar? Is it or is it not a fact that what the then Government did was to guarantee an overdraft in respect of the National Stud to enable them to purchase Tulyar? In any event, that is what happened, according as I understand the position: I may be wrong. Further, since the purchase of Tulyar was referred to, is it not a fact that the present Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Dillon, rose when he was in these Opposition Benches and said that if he had to take the decision he would take a decision similar to that which was taken by the then Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Walsh, when he decided to support the National Stud in the matter of the purchase of that horse? Is it not also a fact that the Fine Gael Party were divided in their opinion in regard to the purchase of that animal? I suppose that Deputy O'Higgins is with the opposition in the Fine Gael Party and that his colleague, Deputy Dillon, supports the purchase of that animal. The propaganda which was made out of that whole incident was unfair, unjust and untrue, and it is time that it stopped. I should like to ask the Minister for Finance, who represents Kildare—which is a great racing county, and where the National Stud is situated—whether or not it is the intention of the Government to tell the National Stud to sell Tulyar.

That might be very embarrassing.

There is the question of making money on it.

I come now to the matter of postage rates, the cost of wireless licences, and so forth. Is it the intention of the Government to reduce these? I thought that the present Tánaiste and Minister for Industry and Commerce, when he was speaking from the Labour Benches, laid down the principle that the Post Office should pay for itself. I thought he laid down the principle that the services rendered by the Post Office should pay for themselves and that he supported the increased postage rates.

All that is in keeping with the type of dishonest and mean propaganda made use of by the Fine Gael Party, in particular, in the leaflet they issued about lower taxes, lower prices and better times. We have an experience of it here to-day in the matter of this reduction of 5d. per lb. in the price of butter. I understood from all the literature I saw emanating from Fine Gael, and the other Parties, that the price of butter was to be reduced to 2/10; per lb. —the price it was in 1951 before the subsidies were taken off. I realised that that would cost millions to do and I realised that it would be impossible.

The Deputy is not being fair.

We realised, as a Government, what it would cost and we realised as a Party what it would cost. We have been told that there will be a reduction of 5d. per lb. in the price of creamery butter and that news will be welcomed by consumers all over the country: indeed, it will be welcomed by those who produce it and by those who purchase it. However, the methods by which this position is being brought about are rather dubious. I understood the Minister to say that, from August next, it will cost £1,250,000. As I understand it, that sum of £1,250,000 is to be obtained without the imposition of additional taxation: it will be obtained within the framework of the Budget which was prepared by Deputy MacEntee, when he was Minister for Finance, by what the Minister called "economies".

The Minister's statement also provides for an additional £1,000,000 in respect of the payment of certain moneys to civil servants and other officials who are remunerated out of State funds. That extra £1,000,000 is also to be found without the imposition of any additional taxation. Of course, that is welcome news but I hope I will be pardoned if I express the doubt that such money can be found within the framework of the current Budget which, apparently, the Minister intends to work on. I hope that the Minister's prognostications in regard to the out-turn of the Budget for the present financial year will be realised. The extra expenditure that is being announced—£2,250,000—is a huge sum of money which it is hoped to find by way of "economies." Well, somebody will be hit somehow. Somebody will be hit by the "economies" or else the financial structure and the financial mechanism will be hit. Either the people who will suffer from the "economies" will be hit—whatever the "economies" are likely to be—or else the financial structure and the financial mechanism will be hit if we are to be presented at the end of the year with deficit financing and an unbalanced Budget.

I should like particularly if the Minister would tell me, in view of the pronouncements of a responsible Deputy like Deputy Michael O'Higgins, who must be regarded as a very responsible member of the Fine Gael Party, whether the Government have decided that Tulyar is to be sold and whether the Government have further decided that the postage rates and the wireless fees are to be decreased to the figure at which they were before they were increased a few years ago.

As a new Deputy to this House, I must admit straightway that I did find the attitude adopted by the Opposition here to-day on the proposals of the Minister for Finance both bewildering and somewhat amusing, because in my constituency in the City of Cork we experienced during the election campaign an attempt by the then outgoing Government Party to provoke both the Labour Party and the Fine Gael Party into a position where they might make rash and wild statements regarding their policy on prices, might make promises that they would find afterwards they might not be able to fulfil. Serious efforts were made in that connection and then, when the Fianna Fáil Party did not succeed in wresting from the Labour Party or the Fine Gael Party in Cork City wild or rash statements on price policy, they dashed into print in the Cork Examiner and the Evening Echo and warned the electors of Cork against voting for the Labour Party or the Fine Gael Party because, they stated, these people were not promising anything.

Then we had Deputy Aiken coming into the House to-day and saying that they promised this, that and the other thing—two most conflicting statements, and I must admit that I find them both amusing and bewildering. A word used very often by Deputy Aiken in his contribution here to-day was the word "honesty". As a new member, I think I can call myself an honest man, at any rate, and I do believe that this Government and the Parties who joined together to form this Government are honest people and are prepared to carry out an honest policy for the sake of this country. It illbehoves a spokesman from the Opposition to dwell on honesty or dishonesty when it is a well-known fact that it is on record that the last Fianna Fáil Government deprived civil servants of the full amount of the very just award that was given to them.

I was very glad to hear the new Minister for Finance making the statement that that debt would be paid in full, because we in the Labour Party accepted that as a State debt and we stated that we would be glad to participate in any Government that would clear that debt.

When we campaigned during the general election we told the electors that we in the Labour Party were not connected with any other Party, that there were no strings or attachments, but that we were prepared, if the opportunity arose, to join with other Parties to form a Government in an endeavour to bring back sanity to the administration of this country. We got that opportunity and, as far as the Labour Party are concerned, we took it. We took the 12-point programme which had been agreed upon by the Leader of the Fine Gael Party and the Leader of the Labour Party back to our ordinary members, as represented by their delegates from the various parts of the country. That programme was agreed to unanimously by the members of the Labour Party and here to-day, as far as we are concerned, No. 1 point of that programme has been tackled. I know that as far as the people whom I represent, or try to represent, are concerned they will receive the news of the 5d. reduction in the price of butter with approbation and as an indication of the fact that the policy which the Labour Party pursued and on which they got 19 Deputies returned to this House is a good policy and a policy which they intend to carry out.

It was interesting to observe the chagrin with which the Opposition Party listened to the announcement of the reduction in the price of butter. As Deputy Casey has told the House, we of the Labour Party went to the people with a clear-cut policy about which there was no doubt in the minds of the electorate. We stated that we had a certain programme, and the fundamental plank in that programme, the main objective of our policy, was to improve the standard of living of the ordinary people and to reduce the cost of living.

It will be remembered by those of us who had an opportunity of listening to the previous Minister for Finance introducing his Budget in 1952 that that Budget was received by the people with astonishment and with horror. It will be recalled that from that Budget there flowed for the ordinary people of the country hardship, economic want and distress on a scale unknown during the previous 20 years. Incidentally, I think it will be agreed by the thinking members of the Fianna Fáil Party that from that Budget there flowed the ruin of the Fianna Fáil Party. The people gave their opinion as to the activities of the previous Administration in no uncertain way. They indicated that they wanted a reduction in the cost of living and they indicated, too, that they wanted a stable Government, that they wanted a Government which would improve the lot of the ordinary people progressively and over a period and it cannot have gone unnoticed by the present Opposition that the change of Government which came as a result of the election was hailed throughout the country with joy and with celebrations. The first fruits of that change are apparent here to-day.

When other speakers were contributing to this debate I noticed the forced laughter of some of the members of the Fianna Fáil Party. I should like to put this now to the Opposition. The Opposition during the three years in which they imposed themselves as a Government on this country sought to establish that the economic policy which they were promulgating and the financial policy for which they were responsible were the only ones for this country. It flows from that that the step which is now being taken by this Government in reducing the price of butter is entirely wrong and unwise and unsound from the viewpoint of Fianna Fáil. Are the Opposition now going to vote against the reduction in the price of butter? It will be interesting to see how these people, who like to pose as monuments of consistency in politics, will act on this occasion.

The Labour Party will play a very vital rôle in this Government and, as has been instanced, they propose to bring about, with the co-operation of the other Parties which form the present Administration, not alone a reduction in the price of butter but, as was specifically stated within the memory of every member here, when the harvest is in and when it is possible to examine the wheat position in this country, in the cost of the loaf. There will be further approaches made towards a reduction in the cost of living and the cost of the loaf about which Deputy Cunningham showed such belated anxiety will then come before this Dáil for consideration and attention.

We of the Labour Party told the people that we wanted the essential things brought down in price, that we intended to see them brought down and members of other Parties did likewise. I do not think there will be found in the history of native government so clear an example of prompt action following upon election promises as is evidenced here to-day by the announcement of the Minister for Finance that butter is to be reduced in price by 5d. per lb., and, while members of the Opposition may have looked on that as a subject for levity and perhaps laughter, the people of the country will take a different view. Workers throughout the country, many of whom were misled into voting for members of the Opposition and putting them into this House, will take a different view and will welcome this reduction. I know that in regard to my constituency, and particularly in the very densely populated areas of it such as Ballyfermot, since 1952 it is not incorrect to say that the majority of the people living in these working-class areas have seen very little butter. They have been forced to exist upon margarine and other substitutes because they could not afford to buy butter at 4/2 per lb. Any member of Fianna Fáil who is not over-injected with political virus must surely admit that a price of 4/2 per lb. for butter put butter completely out of the reach of working-class people.

It is proposed now to reduce the price by 5d. per lb., and my hope is that in time, with the progressive development of the economic life of the country, with the increase in employment which will undoubtedly ensue from the change of Government, particularly when we get down to tackle the question of restriction of credit which the previous Government condoned as a result of their acceptance of the report of the Central Bank of some years ago, we will see, I am certain, an infusion of new life into industry. We will see fewer small industrialists and small employers throughout the country being driven to desperation and in many cases to bankruptcy, as has happened over the past three years as a direct result of the policy of Fianna Fáil. We will see then a blossoming of the economic life of Ireland and we will see, I hope, a return to the days of the first inter-Party Government when we had more workers in the employment of local authorities than ever before or since, and when we had more workers employed upon the building of houses for the people than ever before or since. There is still an urgent need, particularly in the City and County of Dublin, for the building of houses and the present Government will bend its energies to the solution of that problem.

It was noted by everybody that when, in 1951, there came a change of administration and when the building drive was at its peak, when people were being provided with houses in every county in Ireland the dead hand of Fianna Fáil, which had grown palsied from being too long resting in office, stopped that drive, brought it almost to a sagging finish, with the result that we were forced back again to the situation which existed in 1947 and early in 1948 when we were exporting our skilled building trade operatives by the hundred to find work in Britain, where, I may say, it was very difficult for them to find work, and when we had many thousands of skilled building labourers with nothing better to do than to sign on at the labour exchanges, particularly in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and other big cities.

We look forward to a change in that situation and the people will judge upon the actions of this Government just as they did the previous Administration upon their actions. The people have already had ample proof that what we said on the hustings we meant, that we were going to bring down the cost of living. We have taken the first step along that road to-day and the greatest proof of the disappointment of the Opposition with that step has been the blustering approach of the former Minister for External Affairs. He tried very feebly to make the case, where no ground for a case existed, that this was the end of the effort of this Administration so far as a reduction in the cost of living is concerned. The people, I think, will react to the announcement which will be known all over the country to-night of a reduction of 5d. per lb. in the price of butter in an entirely different way from that envisaged by Fianna Fáil. There will be wonder that so much could be effected in so short a time by a Government in office for just a couple of weeks.

It must be remembered that Deputy MacEntee, when Minister for Finance, came into the House in 1952 and undid the work of years in a few short sentences by his announcement of the austerity policy of Fianna Fáil. I do not think the greatest financial wizard the world produced could undo the damage Fianna Fáil did to the economic fabric of this country in an extraordinarily short time. A very constructive step has been taken in regard to the price of this essential foodstuff and we of the Labour Party welcome it as the first point in our programme which has been put into effect. Finally, I want again to say that we will be watching with interest—those of us sitting here who sat on the opposite side for so long and saw the damage being done— to see if Fianna Fáil will now follow their so-called policy of consistency and vote against this reduction in the price of butter for the worker.

Ba mhaith liomsa cupla focal a rá ar an tairiscint atá ós comhair na Dála. Ba mhaith an rud é dá mb'féidir an toghchán a chur ar siúl arís tar éis an ráitis atá déanta ag an Aire Airgeadais annso inniu. Tá sé ceart go leor ag Lucht Oibre agus cainnteoirí eile a bheith ag cur a mbarúla i gcionn orainn, anois gurb é an bhrí a bhí leis an gcaint a rinneadar leis na daoine a mhealladh chun a vóta a thabhairt dóibh le linn a toghcháin nach raibh sé in aigne acu na rudaí a ghealladar a déanamh taobh istigh bliain amháin, ach níor dhuradar leis na daoine go mbeadh siad fágtha ar an méir is faide atá acu. Tá sé soléir ón Aire Airgeadais féin agus ó na cainteoirí eile, fiú amháin an Lucht Oibre, an dream is mó a bhfuil cumhacht acu a tháinig as an gcaint a rinneadar annso gur mar sin atá an scéal anois. Tá chuile chúis ag an Lucht Oibre a bheith sásta anois mar is iad a chuir an Rialtas isteach. Chaith breis agus 1,300,000 vótóirí a gcuid vótaí sa toghchán, ach níorbh iad siúd a chur an Rialtas seo in oifig ach 700 de lucht an Dream Oibre a tháinig le chéile i mBaile Átha Cliath ar an Domhnach roimh an toghchán chun a shocrú cad é an saghas Rialtas a cuirfí i gcumhacht.

D'féadfadh an seacht gcéad daoine sin an Páirtí atá ar an taobh seo do chur isteach mar Rialtas dá mba mhaith leo é, ach bhí Fine Gael ag braith ar an seacht gcéad toscairí sin a tháinig le chéile i mBaile Átha Cliath ó gach áit in Éirinn ar an Domhnach roibh an toghchán. Sin é an saghas "democracy" a taispeánadh suas sa toghchán seo. Thug an Teachta Seán Ó Duinn ár ndúlán vótáil i gcoinne laghdú praghas an ime.

Tá Fianna Fáil a rá gur féidir leo an rud seo a dhéanamh agus é a dhéanamh níos fearr ná an Comh-Rialtas. Ní bheidis sásta fiacha a chur ar an nglúin seo agus ar na nglúin atá le theacht maidir le costas ime agus costas beatha. Is é leirgas Fhianna Fáil go bhfuil dualgas ar mhuintir na hEireann íoc as rudaí reatha as teacht isteach na bliana. Tá sé ceart go leor fiacha a chur ar an tír maidir le hoibreacha forbairte ar nós Bord na Móna, Coras Iompair Éireann agus mar sin de. Bhí Fianna Fáil níos toilteanaí ná dream ar bith eile sa Teach seo airgead a chur ar fáil agus airgead d'fháil ar iasacht le haghaidh na rudaí seo ach ní raibh Fianna Fáil sásta riamh fiacha a chur ar mhuintir na hÉireann maidir le tobac, beoir, im agus a leithéidí.

Táimid sásta, mar adúirt Taoiseach an Phairtí seo, dul ar ais san bhfreasúra agus seasamh ar an bprionsabal sin agus sin é an fáth go bhfuilimid ar an taobh seo den Teach inniu. Táimid sasta fanúint anseo agus éireoidh linn arís nuair is soiléir do na daoine nach féidir na rudaí a chur i bhfeidhm atá in aghaidh a chéile lenar mheall Páirtithe an Chomh-Rialtais iad.

I would like to find out from the Minister for Finance whether it is possible for him to say if the counterpart of the Marshall Aid can be used in this country for domestic purposes without prior reference to the American Government. Is the Minister not prepared to answer now?

When I am replying.

Can the Minister say on present consumption how much it would take to the nearest round figure in subsidies to reduce butter by 1d. per lb.? That figure ought to be available.

The Deputy got that figure to-day.

If 5d. takes £1,250,000, 1d. takes £250,000.

For a full financial year?

Did the Minister not say that it will require £1,250,000 for some part of the present financial year for his present proposals?

That is right.

In any event, I think a great many references were made at least which were not relevant to the issue although they might be related to this question of finance. I would like again to stress what Deputy Donnchadh Ó Briain said in reply to Deputy O'Higgins with regard to the purchase of an embassy in Paris.

The figure given by the Minister was £153,000. It is a strange thing that what was apparently a virtue in the Coalition Government should have been a vice in the previous Government and that they could find and make a good case for the spending of a much larger sum of money, also for an embassy. This is what I cavil at. During the last few days of the election campaign the present Minister for Finance brought this red herring across the track before it was possible for this Party to reply to it and point out that they themselves had sinned in the same direction and sinned more grievously.

New Zealand butter is another matter about which we were challenged. As a matter of fact, we did not introduce it. It was introduced for the first time since native government was established by the Coalition Government. Again, what was a virtue in the Coalition Government apparently is a sin when approved of by Fianna Fáil.

The Labour Party are entitled to the utmost attention in all their pronouncements in this present Parliament for the reason that although 1,300,000 cast their votes in the election to elect all the Deputies it required a conference of 700 Labour delegates to decide what sort of Government we were going to have. They could have decided that Fianna Fáil was to be the Government just as well as Fine Gael. For that reason, I take it that the Labour influence in the course of events for the duration of this present Parliament will be a vital one. In that respect it is as well, perhaps, to point out that a Labour Deputy has been made Minister for Industry and Commerce.

We remember that the present Minister for Industry and Commerce expressed the opinion, when he was a Minister on a former occasion, that the business people and the manufacturers of this country robbed and rooked the people and that they had made enormous profits. He is now Minister for Industry and Commerce and has, therefore, been given the responsibility of reducing prices and seeing that no unfair profits are made. One of the main hopes of the Coalition for the reduction of prices is the question of tackling the profits of business people and industrialists—that, taken with a statement made by the Minister for Finance that they hope by the elimination of waste and extravagance to find the moneys necessary to finance reductions in prices.

The Minister could not very well say so early as this whether it was intended to apply any extra taxation seeing that one of the great appeals to the electorate was that not only would they increase all sorts of social welfare benefits and restore subsidies but also bring down the cost of government. When it comes to an examination of waste and extravagance in government, I do not think any Minister, not even the Minister for Finance himself, will be able to disemploy any very large proportion of his staffs. If he does not do that either by immediate dismissal or the termination of the employment of temporaries or the stopping of recruitment, I do not see how he can make any savings in this connection. My own experience was that some of these offices are, in fact, understaffed.

This reference to extravagance and waste brings one's mind back straightway to services such as Defence. I am sure Deputies from the Government side know as well as we do that the economies indicated in this reference to waste and extravagance really mean that the economies are to be effected very largely in the Army and that the strength of the Army is to be reduced; the Guards have also been mentioned in that connection. One naturally asks what will happen to the men who are at present in the Army. Will they be put on the unemployment register, and, therefore, have to be provided for from another Government source?

We feel that the Coalition have not, either in the 1948 or 1951 election, been honest with the electorate. Prior to the 1948 election they announced that they accepted the award made by the Arbitration Tribunal in respect of the pay of public servants. That acceptance involved a commitment of over £3,000,000 but there was no provision made in the Budget to find that money. A somewhat similar deception was practised on this occasion, when the back money of £1,000,000 was promised two days before polling took place at a time when the rural part of the country had no time to examine it.

This reference to the rural part of the country tempts me to follow some other Deputies in alluding to the election results. One would imagine from what has been said that Fianna Fáil had been completely wiped out in this last election. My own constituency has the largest urban area west of the Shannon and in its agricultural parts there is little or no tillage land. That is a constituency of a type in which one would expect the appeals made by the Coalition to have a very great effect, but when the results were known it was found that the Coalition poll dropped considerably there. An examination of the results will show that, outside Dublin and Cork, Fianna Fáil lost one seat only. The appeal made, particularly by the Labour Party and, indeed, by the Fine Gael Party in their pamphlet on prices is one that was bound to get the housewives' vote in Dublin and Cork City.

I have heard many Fianna Fáil people saying that if the Coalition could carry out the programme which they outlined to the public and upon which they got their votes, they would deserve to remain in office for all time and Fianna Fáil would deserve, in the words of one of the Deputies this evening, to fade out completely. But the people did not vote for a reduction of 5d. a lb. in butter and for the payment of £1,000,000 of back money on the Kathleen Mavourneen system. The civil servants, I believe, have all made out to the last shilling what each of them is to get out of this £1,000,000 back money and now they are told to-day by the Minister for Finance that it may be paid before the end of the financial year. Does not everybody who took part in the election, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour, know that the public were led to believe in no uncertain terms that a Supplementary Budget would be introduced as soon as Fianna Fáil were put out, that the subsidies would be restored in full and that the promises contained in the pamphlet issued by Fine Gael giving the scale of 1951 and 1954 prices would be fulfilled in this financial year? Let them go back now to the people whom they canvassed and whose statements were repeated to us by those same people whom we canvassed after them, and let them say: "We did not really intend cigarettes to come down to 1/8 this year. It may happen before our five years are up. We did not really expect the pint to come down to 1/- this year. All we meant was that instead of bringing the butter down to 2/8 a lb. we would bring it down by 5d".

As I said in Irish I would like this election to be fought again now and fought on the basis of the statement made this afternoon by the Minister for Finance. I am quite satisfied that if we had an election now on that basis, Fianna Fáil would get a majority greater than any Party ever had in this House.

I did not mean to intervene in this debate as I am one of the new boys but a reference was made by the previous speaker to the present Minister for Industry and Commerce and that is what brought me to my feet. For many years I was chairman of a branch of the Federated Union of Employers and it is my belief that Deputy Norton will make a very good Minister for Industry and Commerce. I regret on this my second day in the House having had to listen for the second time to the suggestion being made by the Opposition that there is something undesirable about Deputy Norton as Minister for Industry and Commerce. I am confident that Deputy Norton will bring to that Department a new conception of what that Department should mean. It is a Department that should represent three distinct and important sections of our people: first, the employer, manufacturer or industrialist; second, and very important, the worker; and third, but more important than any of them, the consumer. I feel sure that the two sections which have not been sufficiently regarded in the past will receive attention in the future.

Having listened to the debate this evening, I am not quite sure whether the Opposition are grumbling because things are done or because things have not been done. I understand we can afford to take this 5d. off the lb. of butter and it will be of great benefit to do so. With regard to the points raised by various speakers in relation to the purchase of an embassy in Paris by the last Government and the purchase of an embassy in London by the inter-Party Government, and so on, none of us would object very much to these things provided there was an even policy: the objection arises when these things are done at a time when those who are so badly off are denied all relief. It is that that causes irritation amongst the people generally and it is that that has put the previous Government on the Opposition Benches to-day.

We did not expect this Financial Resolution to be moved to-day. During the debate on the Budget in April last there was very strenuous opposition from both Fine Gael and Labour. It was pointed out by the Opposition then that at the first available opportunity they would alter in the main the financial provisions of the Budget. It is rather extraordinary that the very first Resolution moved here to-day is one accepting in toto the financial provisions of the Budget. One would have thought the Minister for Finance would have come in here to-day with a new Budget and a new alignment of policy adumbrating reduced taxation. After all, they asked the people to vote for reduced taxation within the last few weeks and from that point of view I think the first act of the most important Minister in the Government, after the Taoiseach, can be regarded as a dishonest act, because he is now asking the House to accept taxation to the tune of £104,000,000 or £105,000,000. He has not sought to alter the Budget of his predecessor in any particular.

He did state that he proposes to subsidise the consumption of butter. I assume the Minister proposes to pay a subsidy of 5d. per lb. on butter available for export in addition to that consumed at home. It is estimated that on present production figures that will cost, roughly, £2,600,000 a year. That will be additional taxation over and above the £105,000,000 for which provision was made in the Budget last April. I think that is an honest way to interpret the Minister's proposal.

I do not know where the Deputy got his figures.

This is June; we will wait until next April and time will prove whether my figures or some other figures are substantially correct. We will know then whether or not it will cost £1,000,000 to subsidise at the rate of 2½d. or 1d. per gallon. The Minister says he does not propose to pay any of this subsidy on the production of farmers' butter. I am sure the Government has carefully considered that and I am sure it is appreciated that there is a considerable amount of farmers' butter on the market at this time of the year. The present proposal will mean an immediate reduction of 5d. per lb. on an already lowpriced agricultural product.

I am sure the Government will provide a pool as was done by the Fianna Fáil Government when a subsidy was paid on that butter in 1951. I think a subsidy was paid by the Coalition Government for a short time, too, on the export of farmers' butter. I am sure the Minister and the Government would not wish to do anything that might seriously affect the interests of a fairly substantial section of the farming community.

I would like the Minister and his colleagues to turn up the speeches they made a few weeks ago on the Budget introduced here by Deputy MacEntee, then Minister for Finance. I would like them to refresh their minds on the statements they made during the recent election and the promise they gave that, if they were returned as a Government with the aid of the Labour Party, they would substantially reduce taxation. This is the Minister's first opportunity but he should, after a fortnight in office, have been able to reconstruct the Budget. There was nothing to prevent him doing that.

The Deputy must think I am a great man if he thinks I would be able to do that in a fortnight.

There was nothing to prevent the Minister doing that. We read in the daily papers during the last fortnight that the Minister was sitting during the night with wet towels wrapped round his head probing into finance and seeking, I suppose, where he might find money being misspent. He and some of his colleagues said there was plenty of fat in the recent Budget. I wonder did he find any of that fat. It would appear he did not. Had he done so he would have given the taxpayers immediate relief as he and his colleagues promised.

It is all-important from every point of view that the Government should from the beginning set out on a path of honesty. The Government should try to be honest with the people. If words mean anything, or statements, or promises, it would look as if the Minister and the Government are breaking faith with the people at the very first opportunity by accepting the Fianna Fáil Budget and the taxation imposed thereunder. We remember the circulars sent round pointing out that in 1951 income-tax was only 6/6 in the £; it is now 7/6. I am sure Deputy J. Larkin would be delighted to help his colleague, the Minister for Finance, to bring back income-tax to 6/6.

All in good time.

Deputy Larkin campaigned for that. I have no doubt he will use his influence to table a motion here reducing income-tax to 6/6 in the £. Deputy Larkin and the Labour Party were very interested in the excess profits tax. It was never high enough for them. Now, they appear to have accepted the policy of reducing it. Certainly they are accepting the present rate of excess profits tax. It is true the Government intends to reduce the price of butter by 5d. per lb. Does the Minister propose to finance our friends across the water to the extent of 5d. per lb. on the export market to help them to consume our butter? That may be good policy, especially when you are likely to have a considerable surplus of butter as we are this year. Our people are said to be, after New Zealand, the second highest consumers of butter in the world.

They can afford to buy it now and to use more of it.

I hope so. I suppose that the average family buys between three and four pounds of butter in the week. If they are able to buy more of it all the better. I am afraid, however, that the extra consumption of butter which Deputy Morrissey expects as a result of reducing the price is bound to be small in view of the fact that already our people are said to be the second highest consumers of butter in the world. I hope that our people will be able to buy all the butter we can produce. The extra production of butter that we have is due to the sound policy that was pursued by the Minister for Agriculture in the Fianna Fáil Government. Production went up considerably as a result of his policy. We hope that is not going to prove an embarrassment to this Government.

We have not yet heard from the Minister for Finance, or from his colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, whether or not the Government have received the report of the body that was appointed to investigate production costs. We should like to know if it has reported and, if so, what are its findings. Now that we have opened up again on the subsidisation of an agricultural product, we should like to hear what the future liability will be on the Exchequer, in the matter of subsidy, if production is to continue at the present rate or if there is an increase in the coming year. Will it be possible, in that event, for this Government to grant other reductions in the cost of living? Will it be possible, for example, to reduce the price of tea, sugar and other commodities? I hope that the Minister for Finance will be able, out of the fat that is in this Fianna Fáil Budget, to reduce not only the price of butter but of tea, bread, and sugar, and other important items such as beer and tobacco which were very popular during the recent election. There are a great number of people who would like to see the price of beer going down. We would all like to see it going down because, I suppose, it would be cheaper and the people who drink it would enjoy it the more. If, out of the fat of this Fianna Fáil Budget, the price of beer and tobacco can come down then the more popular this Government will become. It is our desire on this side of the House to see this Government as popular as possible. The way that they can become popular is by carrying out in full, and at the earliest possible opportunity the promises they made during the recent election. We all remember the circulars that were printed in blue, indicating the various commodities that would be brought down in price.

That got under your skin all right.

You promised during the election that you were going to do all these things, and you would be dishonest with the people if you fail to do them now. It was on these promises during the election, mainly in the cities and in the built-up areas, that you received the people's votes.

We got no money from the dance hall proprietors.

You are all powerful now and there is nothing to stop you from doing anything you want to. We shall anxiously await to see the Minister for Finance coming before the House with a Financial Resolution to put a tax on dance halls. He has the power to do that in the morning if he wants to, and if he thinks, from his point of view, it would be expedient and in the best interests of the country to do so.

We shall also await with interest to see what the Government will do in regard to the sum of £250,000 that was paid for Tulyar. During the election the Labour Party campaigned to have the horse sold at once. I do not know if the Government have decided on that yet. If it has been decided to sell the horse, that will be bringing some more money into the Government coffers. While that was the Labour Party policy, I doubt very much if it is the policy of the Minister for Finance because I think he approved of the purchase of that horse and so did his constituents. So did the constituents of the Tánaiste. Whatever about the Tánaiste himself, his colleagues, the back benchers and some of the front benchers in the Labour Party, did not approve of the purchase. I definitely heard more than one Labour speaker during the recent election campaign very heavily about the price of Tulyar. It was said that one of the first actions of the new Government, if it got in with the support of the people, would be to sell Tulyar and give the money to the poor.

Who said that?

Candidates on behalf of the Labour Party.

Will you give the name?

It was said on several occasions.

Give us the name.

They were speaking from Labour Party platforms and speaking with authority, I have not the slightest doubt.

Give us the name.

We shall all await the announcement with interest—I take it it would be from the Tánaiste's Department—that Tulyar has been sold, and that it is proposed to divide the money amongst the poor of this country. On behalf of the people we are asking this Government to honour in full, and at the earliest possible opportunity, out of the fat that is in this good Fianna Fáil Budget which the Coalition Government are delighted to stand over to-day, the promises they made in the recent election by reducing not only the price of butter but of tea, sugar, bread, beer and tobacco as well as the sale of Tulyar.

I am sure that the Minister for Finance is getting fond of this Fianna Fáil Budget. He must be, because he is asking the House to honour it to-day. He will have no trouble about that because there is complete unanimity in all parts of the House that it was a sound Budget, even though it was said that it was an austere Budget. Whatever may have been said about its austerity, we now find that there is complete unanimity in the House upon this fact, that it was a good, sound Budget. This good, sound Budget of Fianna Fáil is now accepted in toto by this new Coalition Government.

Mr. de Valera

There are a few things I would like to say before the Minister replies. I take it the Minister's statement was to the effect that the Government is going to operate the Budget as it was brought in by our Minister for Finance, that there is to be no Supplementary Budget and that the finances of the State are, therefore, to be based on that Budget and that when, at the end of the year, we come to examine the position we will find ourselves either with a surplus or a deficit according as the Estimates in that Budget have been proved correct or not.

The Budget, when it was brought in, was criticised on certain grounds. One of the grounds on which it was criticised was that we were expecting too much—in order to get a balance we were expecting too much—in the way of savings, that we had expected savings of a lesser amount in a previous year and that these were eaten up by Supplementary Estimates. This year we made provision, according to my recollection, for about £750,000 for Supplementary Estimates, and if there was any truth in the contention that we were allowing too much for savings the moment that the Minister for Finance brings in a Supplementary Estimate for the butter subsidy he will immediately have exceeded the amount provided for Supplementary Estimates in the Budget. That amount was £750,000, and I think he wants for this subsidy £1,250,000. It is obvious, therefore, that we have exceeded the amount provided in the Budget for Supplementary Estimates.

We are naturally anxious to find out where the money is to come from. Where are the extra savings? I think it is the Minister's duty to indicate where these savings are likely to arise. This, after all, is a Budget discussion and we would like to be told where the Minister expects to find these savings which will enable him to increase the provision that has been made for Supplementary Estimates. He has not done that. When he was talking of the relative values of butter from the point of view of health as against certain health benefits I was inclined to agree to a large extent with him. I think that the foundation of health is good food.

Hear, hear!

Mr. de Valera

I am not at all disposed to say that butter is not one of these good foods. I would like to know from the Minister does he propose therefore to make the savings on the health services?

We were waiting for that.

Mr. de Valera

And why should we not?

Quite worthy.

Mr. de Valera

It is quite worthy. This is a financial discussion and we are entitled to know—it is our duty as an Opposition to see to it that we do know—how the finances of the country are to be run in the coming year. The Minister has indicated that he has put in comparison the health services and butter and I am inclined to agree that if I had to choose in certain circumstances I might choose butter but I could not have both, under the Budget as we have it, and I want to know— and I think we are entitled to know from the Minister—is it from that source he intends to get the necessary money?

The problems we are dealing with here in this country are not dissimilar to problems that had to be faced in other countries and if there was an easy solution to these problems it would have been found long before this. The Taoiseach, during the recent elections, on one occasion gave expression to quite a number of very good fundamental principles. One of the principles he mentioned was that it was useful to educate the public to a recognition of the fact that the benefits they were supposed to get were simply promises by politicians to take their money from them and spend it for them.

I hope he had that very important consideration in mind when he was giving his assent to this reduction in the price of butter by way of subsidy. The money has to come from somewhere. Is it to be got by borrowing? If not, it has to come, we take it, within the four corners of the Budget that has been presented to the House. We are entitled to ask where within the four corners of that Budget you are to get the extra amount required. That amount will not merely exhaust the amount provided for supplementaries but it will go considerably— £500,000—beyond it. Where is this £500,000 to come from? I hope, when the Minister is replying, he will give some indication of where this £500,000 is to be got.

The next thing that is of importance applies to the future. Is the Government embarking on a general policy of subsidisation of food? Undoubtedly by subsidising food you can reduce the cost to the individual householder of the food, but it was pointed out to us when we brought in, in 1947, an Estimate providing for subsidies, that when the family balance sheet was made out and when the extra taxes were put up against the advantages that were derived by the family from the subsidies these subsidies had to be bought dearly. We tried to point out at that time that it was better to subsidise an essential article such as bread at the expense of the pint but we were met—by the Labour Party particularly—in all parts of the country with the complaint that we were increasing the price of the pint. If it were possible to do these two contradictory things at once—increasing subsidies and lowering taxation—a solution would have been found in other countries. We cannot do it and you cannot. You will not be able to meet the expenditure provided for this coming year—you will not be able to meet that on existing rates of taxation, according to the Estimates, anyhow. Were the Estimates wrong? Has the Minister, during his period in office found, or have any of his advisers told him that the Estimates were wrong; that we were overestimating revenue? That was not the position as it was explained to us. We were as anxious, as every political Party is, to give all the reliefs that it was possible to give and at the same time do the nation's business properly.

My fear in this matter is that, as always happens, we rush at once to provide benefits and never think of how the money is to be got and whether the community is better off when we, the politicians—to use the Taoiseach's phrase—are allowed to spend the people's money or when the people are allowed to spend it themselves. That is a fundamental question which has to be faced in every Parliament where there is a question of subsidy.

We will have another occasion on which we can talk on this question of subsidies and especially on the subsidising of butter. My only point at this stage is to know, seeing that it is to be Government policy that money is to be given for subsidies—where is the money to come from? That is my question.

I would like to say this, too. As far as our attitude in this House is concerned—we are here to do the nation's work just as much as the people on the opposite benches and it is from that point of view we are approaching our work here. We are here to examine every proposition. The examination of the proposition is not obstruction. When you examine a proposition home and when you demand from those who are the executives information as to the basis on which they take certain actions, you can, of course, be represented by them as obstructing. That is not the spirit in which we are approaching our work here.

There is another thing I would like to say, and I will finish with it. We have learned about a false oath, that those who take it sinned in taking it but that they also sinned in keeping it. The Government Parties having made, as we believe, false promises to the electorate, we are not going to force them to a still bigger crime against the country, that is, the keeping of the false promises. The position as far as we are concerned is a simple one—that we can do our duty to the country on this side of the House just as well as on the other. We have not the power that we would have on the other side of the House. The only power we have is to examine critically and to do our best to get the Government to follow right methods and when they are following wrong methods to expose them.

I should like to say also that democracy has its faults, but it is for us the best form of Government we yet know of. My own belief is that there is only one safeguard for democracy, and that is an intelligent electorate. Until we have an intelligent electorate which will criticise carefully promises made to them at election times mistakes will be made and undesirable results follow. It is useless to complain. We must only try and hope to educate.

It is interesting to watch the behaviour of Fianna Fáil in this House when they are in Government and in Opposition. When they are in Government it is remarkable how tight a uniformity they can maintain between members of the front benches and the other benches, and it is very seldom that you find contradiction between statements made by their several members. But as soon as they go on the Opposition Benches they seem to go riot. Many will recall that after the change of Government in 1948 we had the same phenomenon that we have had here to-night. I recall on that occasion Deputy Lemass and Deputy Childers, taking two completely opposite contradictory lines as to whether we had inflation or deflation. That, of course, may appear as being the result of the sudden change in their position—a certain, if you like, lack of balance because of the disturbance that has taken place. It might also be regarded as a very clever manoeuvre, adjusting itself to all the winds of chance and to the varying opinions of the country. We have exactly the same thing here to-night.

We have listened to one of the semihumorous speeches of Deputy Allen in which his heart overflowed with concern for the ordinary electorate and his desire to ensure that all the promises which he stated were made by members of these benches will be fulfilled. One by one he has gone through the list, right down to his beloved racehorse, Tulyar, for which he had such a great regard when he was sitting on these benches, and he insists not merely on a reduction in the price of butter but a reduction in the prices of bread, sugar, tea, beer, cigarettes, and, in fact, all the commodities that he can happen to think of. Possibly one thing he forgot was the Paris Embassy. He wants all the promises fulfilled and he wants to lay the ground now for taking political advantage of what he sees as a situation that can react to the advantage of his Party. So he plays the ordinary cross-roads politician's rôle.

Then up gets Deputy de Valera. He is the leader of a serious, responsible Opposition. The Opposition is not merely the opposing Party, it is part of the structure of this House. This House cannot function without a responsible Opposition, and it is the conviction of Deputy de Valera that his Party, not merely by weight of numbers but by its status in the country and, above all, by its experience, is going to provide that responsible Opposition. So in his speech—again a very clever speech—he takes the line that if the Parties in the Government at the present moment have made the mistake of committing themselves to promises which cannot be kept, or, as he says, taking a false oath, God forbid that Fianna Fáil will press them to try to keep those promises. Who are we to follow? Deputy Allen or Deputy de Valera? Deputy Allen wants the Government to keep their promises, and he is not very much concerned as to whether they were well-founded or a practical proposition or where the finances necessary to meet them can be provided. Deputy de Valera, on the other hand, is most anxious particularly that the Minister for Finance will not make the mistake of trying to give effect to promises which, in the opinion of Fianna Fáil, have got no substance, no foundation, and cannot be carried out. So that, as far as Fianna Fáil is concerned, they will cater for what they feel is the opinion among a certain section of the people who will want the fulfilment immediately and without any qualification or equivocation, of promises which Fianna Fáil allege were given during the course of the election campaign. On the other hand, the responsible section of Fianna Fáil, represented by Deputy de Valera, says: "God forbid that we should ask the Government to get into difficulties by trying to carry out promises which quite clearly are not possible, and we would prefer that they would act in a responsible manner, listen to our criticism and take our advice." That is typical of all the contradictory statements we are now going to get from Fianna Fáil in opposition, from this day on. It will be interesting to those of us who have had the same experience during the years 1948 to 1951, when it was quite clear that, so far as policy was concerned, Fianna Fáil had completely run riot and had lost any sense of stability or uniformity, particularly when you had such leading exponents on economic policy in Fianna Fáil as Deputy Lemass and Deputy Childers openly contradicting each other here in the House on fundamental issues at that time.

Whether they have reconciled their views or not I do not know. Whether Deputy Childers has now been replaced by Deputy MacEntee as being the opposing pole is something that many of us have been interested in for the last two or three years.

Another interesting point in Deputy de Valera's remarks is that in speaking of the reduction in the price of butter and the need for additional subsidy he quite properly puts the query as to where the additional money will be found. He points out that there has been provision in the Budget for savings to the extent of £750,000 and that in addition £500,000 will be saved.


When he asked the question where the money will be got he seemed to be somewhat hurt when that question has not been given an answer. May we point out that on this very Budget which is the basis of this discussion, when those Parties on this side of the House were then sitting on the other, we asked the straight, simple question, where the savings of £4,000,000 in the Budget were being found, but we got no details, nor did we even get details of the alleged saving of £3,000,000 in last year's Budget. Granted that an Opposition is entitled to ask questions, that every member of the House, whether he is on the Opposition or the Government side, is so entitled, there is a limit to the type of question to be asked; and if information is sought by members of the Opposition a few months ago in respect of savings in this year's Budget, that is airily waved aside and we are asked merely to accept the statement of the then Minister for Finance. It seems to be peculiar for the members of that same Party now to come along and want exact details of a matter of £500,000. All these matters show the approach we are going to get now from Fianna Fáil. Everything they did is perfect. Everything they want to have acceptance of in principle has to be accepted without question, but when the circle turns they want a different attitude adopted and what they have denied to other people, now they want conceded to them as a right.

There is one other specific point that I want to touch upon. Deputy de Valera says that if there was an easy way of solving this problem of providing additional benefits, social benefits, subsidies, and so on, to the masses of the people without having to impose additional taxation—if there was an easy course, quite clearly Governments in many other countries would have followed that particular course, and that this problem can be resolved into the simple question as to whether it is more beneficial for the members of the community to spend their own money or to have it collected from them and spent on their behalf by the State. He puts the question in that form. Might I suggest that it should be put in another form, and that is whether it is right and proper that the section of the community who have got no income or little income to spend of their own, who have insufficient income to meet the necessities of life, should not be assisted by the State by means of drawing off excessive surplus income from the other sections of the community who have got too much to spend?

I recall, on occasions, members of the Fianna Fáil Party, when they were the Government, expressing the view that both social services and subsidies had got a social purpose, that was, to try to secure a more equal distribution of the available national income related to the real needs of the people. If that is the case, it does mean something more than whether the community spends its own money or whether it is spent for it by the State. In this case it was a question of the State performing and carrying out a social duty.

There is no doubt that in so far as the basic foods are concerned, which are the staple diet of the majority of working-class families, in cities, towns and the countryside, the problem for them is a question to-day of securing sufficient income to provide themselves with adequate quantities of these basic foods. If it is wrong for this or any other Government to take measures to enable these poorer sections of the community to buy a greater quantity of these foods, then we have got a peculiar sense of our social obligations.

The Fianna Fáil Party, when they were the Government, pursued a certain course in regard to social services; they pursued a certain course in regard to subsidies. The only difference I see to-day is that at a certain point they changed that course. We, now, are of opinion that that change was ill-advised, was unnecessary and brought hardship on the people and that we should try to get back as far as we can on to that regular course. To do that, it is not a question, as I say, of the whole of the community spending its money rather than the State spending its money; it is a question of what are the relative amounts the different sections in the community have got to spend on their essential needs. The opinion on these benches is that, so far as basic foods are concerned, there is not sufficient money, not sufficient income, in the pockets of the poorer sections of the community to meet their needs in essential foods to-day and that it is, not merely a social duty, but good national policy to try to adjust again the course of Government policy to meet the needs of this great section of the community as a whole. That is something which I think will meet with general acclaim outside.

So far as Deputy Allen's view and comments are concerned with regard to the other foodstuffs—we know it is desirable, from his point of view, that the price of butter should be reduced —I do not think they matter very much. I do not think his opinions will count very much one way or the other. As far as the mass of the people outside are concerned, the projected reduction in the price of butter will be regarded as it is intended to be, as an indication of good faith and of earnestness on the part of the present Government to try to the limit of its power to again bring back and place within the reach of the mass of people these essential foods that were increased so radically through the policy of Fianna Fáil in 1951-52.

That, I think, will be welcomed. The people will appreciate that it is something which is being done with expedition and despatch. They will understand that it is the first step and that other steps will follow and they will, no doubt, be much more clear than Fianna Fáil is to-day as to why the present Government has not taken steps to make changes in regard to the Budget they have inherited. The average man in the street will say: "If they have taken over a pretty bad mess, naturally, they must have time to have a look at it and I am quite prepared to have patience and grant them that time, and can expect, in due course, that the things they told us during the election campaign will come to pass, that they will on their own behalf and on behalf of the Parties forming the present Government, give effect, not to the promises that were given—because promises were not given—but to the commitments that were entered into to try to adjust the policy of the Government as a whole in a different direction from that which was pursued by Fianna Fáil."

I do not want to comment on that policy as a whole, but I do want to say that when Deputy de Valera says that the change that took place in the attitude of Fianna Fáil towards the question of subsidies was one that was necessitated by the situation in this country, I have never been convinced of that, I am not convinced of that to-day, but I am convinced that that change was the outcome of a view in regard to the general economic and social course being pursued in the country at that time and a feeling which was very sharply expressed in publications outside this House and even in the course of contributions to debate in this House, that there had to be a drastic change in the whole financial policy of the Government, whether it be Fianna Fáil or any other Government, and that those in this country, who, as we quite well know, call the tune in so far as financial policy is concerned, decided that there had to be a change and a change took place and, as we have had indicated in debates over the last two years, we are now facing the problem, as it presents itself to this Government or to the Fianna Fáil Government or any other Government, that is, that we have reached the point in development of this country, both economic, industrial and social, where this House and the Seanad, being the nationally elected assemblies of the Irish people, have got to decide, either now or in the immediate future, whether this elected assembly is going to determine the financial and, thereby, the social and economic policy of this country or whether it is going to be imposed upon us from outside this House by elements that have not got any national responsibility.

Mr. de Valera

Would Deputy Larkin tell us how this question of subsidies fits in with the question of reduced taxation?

I am very grateful indeed to the Fianna Fáil Party for the very many tributes they have paid to this Government. They seem to think that in a fortnight we can dispose, according to Deputy Bartley, of the difficulties that were embarrassing the last Government or taking a considerable time for the last Government in regard to the solution of the Marshall Aid Grant Counterpart Fund. According to Deputy Allen, we are able within the same fortnight to solve the difficulties and to ensure that the Milk Production Costings Committee produce their report and, according to many Deputies on the other side, within a fortnight, the Government and I would be able to produce an entirely new Budget. If they were sincere or truthful in any of these things, they were certainly paying us a great tribute because we must indeed be wondermen if we could do all of these things within the period of a fortnight.

The fact, of course, is that if there is not a new Financial Statement in its entirety presented to this House to-day, it is because of one thing alone, because Deputy de Valera, when Taoiseach, would not go to the country in March, when he was asked to do so by the present Taoiseach. If he had done that, there would have been ample time for whatever Government that came in to bring in financial proposals at the proper time of the year and in sufficient time to have those proposals operative during this financial year.

The position so far as this Government is concerned is that it will have been in power exactly one fortnight to-morrow. During that time we have been engaged in examing various matters. I am not proposing to-night to go into detail on them at all, but I will say that, so far as we are concerned, we are quite satisfied that we will be able to produce savings that the previous Government would not have produced to meet the concession that has been given to-day in respect of the price of butter. If there is instability otherwise, it is because of the Budget which was introduced by my predecessor and which, as I say, we could not, in a fortnight, possibly examine to ascertain its fullest commitments. We must at this stage take many of the statements made in respect of it at their face value.

Mr. de Valera

Is it wise to make commitments before you look into it?

I have already stated, and I repeat, that we are satisfied that we can make savings that the previous Minister was not going to make and that when the out-run comes at the end of the year, it will be quite clear that we shall be able to make those savings. The position also, as regards the last question which Deputy de Valera asked of Deputy Larkin, is that he apparently does not appreciate the difference between what we have stated and the interpretation he wants to put on it. We never said that we were going to reduce taxation, but we said that we were going to reduce taxes, and there is a very big difference —a difference which, incidentally, I made it my business to make quite clear at almost every meeting at which I spoke during the election campaign, as members of the Opposition could ascertain, if they wished to do so, by asking their colleague from County Kildare, just as during the election campaign, not once, but many times, I made quite clear my view that I considered the primary commodity in regard to the cost of living was the commodity with which we have dealt to-day—butter.

I do not think I shall go in any detail into the matters raised by the various Deputies but inasmuch as Deputy Bartley mentioned my name specifically in regard to the Paris Embassy, let me just say a short word about it. Deputy Bartley said that I made a comment on it during the general election campaign. I did not. I made the comment on it after the results all over the country, other than those from County Wicklow, had made it clear that the previous Government was going out of office. My comment particularly was that the previous Government had endeavoured to hide it. What are the facts? The facts are simple. The contract was entered into in the first case on the 30th March last, that is to say, approximately some seven weeks before the general election, that on the 14th May, four days before the general election, the contract was finally concluded and the result was that until after the general election, after the people had registered their verdict there was no notification of its acquisition in the public Press. My complaint then against Fianna Fáil and my complaint against them to-day is that they deliberately hid it from the people because of the effect that they believed it might have on the general election.

Mr. de Valera

We shall have all that on the Vote for External Affairs. We need not touch on it now.

Deputy Aiken, when he was speaking, started off on the line as if the Fianna Fáil Party had never heard of any debt in the years in which they were in office. What are the facts? The facts are that if we make a comparison between the years 1953-54 and 1950-51 the amount that was required last year—not the amount required this year, which is more—for the service of the public debt was £12,696,835, while in the year 1950-51 the amount required for the same purpose was £7,223,690. In other words, the amount required for the service of public debt for the last of the three years for which the Fianna Fáil Government was in office was £5.4 millions greater than it had been in the year ending 5th April prior to the time at which they acceded to office in 1951.

Mr. de Valera

Will the Minister say that it will be kept at that in the coming years?

The Minister is exposing the insincerity of the principal speaker put up in this regard by the Opposition Benches. There is no use in Deputy Aiken making that type of speech to-day when the facts are as I have stated. I am not going to argue at this stage whether it is wise or unwise to enter into capital commitments. When this Government announce their capital commitments, the Opposition will have an opportunity of criticising them and we shall welcome constructive criticism. I am saying, and I repeat, that the type of hypocritical approach made by Deputy Aiken will not do any benefit to the nation or to the finances of the country as a whole.

We were told that it was peculiar that the revenue was down in the first two months of this year. It was precisely because of that fact that I mentioned in the earlier part of my statement, one of the reasons for it— the uncertainty and the instability that invariably accompany a general election. That uncertainty and instability are now over. We have a Government now in office that have not only got an overwhelming vote from the people but that, in addition, have got a more substantial majority in the House than there has been for any Government in this House for some years. I believe that that political stability will in turn engender confidence in the community and that that confidence will mean that we can look forward to a better opportunity for all in the future.

We are criticised because we did not do at once all the things we might like to do. One Deputy in the Opposition said that we promised everything. Another Deputy said we had not. What are the facts? The facts are that we made it perfectly clear that we were going into Government, if we were elected by the people, for the purpose of clearing up the difficulties that had been created by the previous Government, difficulties that I suppose are going to take some substantial period of time to wipe out. We believe, and we are confident, that when our policies get an opportunity of showing their effect—and as I already stated that inevitably is not going to be to-day or to-morrow but in time—the Deputies who support the Government on this side will realise that the Government they are supporting has put into operation a policy that is suited to the needs of our people.

Mr. de Valera

Might I ask the Minister a question with regard to the £1,250,000 by which the revenue is down? Does he suggest that there will be a loss of that amount?

I believe it is due to the political instability.

Mr. de Valera

Is it deferred or is it an actual loss?

Mr. de Valera

It is deferred?

I believe that now that we have a stable Government it will be made up.

Mr. de Valera

That is not the point. I am really anxious to get information as to this £1,250,000 which the Minister has suggested has been lost over a couple of months. Is that simply revenue which is held over and which will come in later or is it an actual loss? If it is a net loss, it is obvious that we have less to expect and we are adding to it all these extra sums—the £1,250,000 and the £1,000,000 or whatever it is, to pay the Civil Service award.

I believe that the estimates of revenue which were made for the current year will be reached.

Mr. de Valera

Will be reached? In other words, this £1,250,000 is simply deferred?

If it had not been or the instability, it might be there now.

The Minister announced about the 5d. subsidy per lb. on butter —creamery butter to the Irish consumer. Will the export of creamery butter also carry the 5d? Will the creameries who manufacture butter get it?

The Deputy knows the position quite well in regard to butter. What difficulty there may be in regard to surplus butter is a question that depends on outside markets. The effect of this, in any event, will be to alleviate that difficulty because, as a result of the reduction in price for home consumption, presumably— and we hope—consumption will rise. When that occurs, there will be less of a problem there than there would be if consumption had remained static.

But will the creameries get 5d. per lb. subsidy on all butter whether produced for home consumption or for export?

The Deputy knows the position quite well in regard to the export of butter.

Mr. de Valera

I do not think the Minister has considered it. Otherwise he could give a direct answer.

The Minister has considered the position.

Mr. de Valera

Well, what is the result?

I do not propose to be led up that way by Deputy Aiken. The position as to the amount that is going to be there for export must depend on the increase in consumption. If the increase in consumption reaches production, then the position is clearly quite simple. If there is more production this year than there is domestic consumption, equally the position clearly is that how we can sell our butter depends on what price we can get for it in any market that is available for its export.

But there has been no decision? A decision to give the creameries 5d. per lb. for butter consumed in Ireland does not necessarily hold in regard to butter exported?

Not necessarily.

Are you going to vote against it?

Mr. de Valera

Are we right about farmers' butter—that there is no suggestion of a subsidy on farmers' butter?

Question put and agreed to.
Resolutions reported and agreed to.