Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 6 May 1958

Vol. 167 No. 10

Committee on Finance. - Resolution No. 9—General (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:—
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.—(Minister for Finance.)

It was stated during the debate here last week that the National Farmers' Association and the Minister for Finance had been informed that the country could be saved £3,000,000 by the consumption here of an all-Irish loaf. To substantiate the case for an all-Irish loaf, they forwarded by post to me and, I am sure, to all other Deputies, a sample of the product of all-Irish wheat. Having tasted the all-Irish loaf, I am convinced that it is far superior to any loaf I have eaten in my time and I can see no justification for importing wheat to blend with native wheat to make bread for our people from now on. The people are not being asked to make any sacrifice whatsoever by eating bread made from all-Irish wheat. That is my opinion and I will be quite pleased to hear the opinion of other Deputies. The use of all-Irish wheat would help the balance of payments to the extent of £3,000,000, and if the same extraction flour is used as was used to make the sample bread, there will be a big supply of pollard and bran of the very best quality, instead of our having to import from all the countries of Europe inferior offals at over £1 a cwt.

If the scheme for producing an all-Irish loaf is put into operation forthwith, it will ease the minds of many wheat growers. I do not come from a wheat growing area, but I know that it will ease the minds of wheat growers. It will certainly ease the mind of my colleague, Deputy Corry, who speaks so ably on this subject on every possible occasion. It will help to give the farmers the price which is their due for the extra wheat for which there is a ready market in the production of an all-Irish loaf.

In his financial statement, the Minister for Finance said:—

"Every year about this time the Minister for Finance is faced with the rather distressing duty of having to listen to the many groups and organisations who feel that they have a good case for some form of relief under the Budget. Many of them have impressed me with their arguments, supported by figures."

The Minister also said:—

"First, I feel obliged to do something to help to preserve both the revenue from cinemas and theatres and the employment which they can afford."

I do not think that anyone from the rural area from which I come would put cinemas and film renters first, when it is a question of giving some form of relief. When I see queues hundreds of yards long outside cinemas in Dublin and Cork on a fine summer evening, I feel what a great waste of time and money it is. We have entirely too much of that form of entertainment. While long queues are waiting outside cinemas in Cork and Dublin, the hard-working industrious people of the country are out in the fields producing the wealth of the country. I was very disappointed that the first big slice of the national cake, about which the Taoiseach spoke, which has been enlarged over the past 12 months as a result of the farmers' activity, should go to film renters, cinema owners, civil servants, Garda, teachers and various other sections and that only the crumbs, if there are any crumbs left, should go to the people responsible for producing that enlarged cake.

The amount of money, £50,000, which went to the film renters and cinema owners is exactly the sum asked for by a deputation from Cork Country Council to the Minister's Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister for Local Government for the improvement of by-roads which were deemed to be of general public utility in County Cork. If we could get that £50,000, I can assure the Minister and the House that a far greater number of people would benefit from it than are benefiting from the £50,000 which has been given to the cinemas and film renters.

I am not at all surprised at the decline in rural areas. I explained on Thursday last how the population of the diocese of Ross had declined from 32,000 to 20,000. That has happened because the people follow the money and follow work. Instead of staying in rural Ireland, they flock into the cities and then the demand for housing, hospitalisation, cinema entertainment and amusement of every kind increases. Who is to produce the wealth of the country to keep the cities and towns going, to build hospitals, to clean the cinemas and to maintain the big industrial populations in the cities and towns, if rural Ireland is depopulated and if the people of rural Ireland do not get a reasonable and due share of the money from the public purse?

Generally speaking, 1957 was a better year than 1956. Nevertheless, the trend of emigration increased and continued. The outlook for this year is not good. In 1957, exports of cattle and the prices of cattle increased, but large numbers of the cattle then exported were held over from 1956 and some of the cattle which should be sold in 1958 were disposed of in 1957. I want to warn the Minister that the exports of cattle may not be as great this year as they were in 1957 and he will have to be very wary lest the balance of payments be upset again. He should avail of the scheme to produce an all-Irish loaf as soon as possible so as to save £3,000,000 on wheat.

I was quite pleased that Deputy Haughey spoke of tourism in this debate last Thursday. He referred to the lack of hotel accommodation in this country. He just beat Dr. Lucey, the Bishop of Cork, on that subject. Dr. Lucey mentioned it in Bantry last Sunday, when he criticised the action of Governments here in razing to the ground the finest hotel in Ireland some years ago and failing to replace it. That was done in Glengarriff, the most picturesque spot in Europe, a delightful tourist resort. The ruins of that hotel are still there, an eyesore in that beautiful scenic spot.

Deputy Haughey recommended the provision of more hotel accommodation for tourists. I am wholeheartedly behind the tourist industry. It is of great importance to the country. Tourists can enjoy the hospitality of this country, the food and, in future, the all-Irish loaf. They come here to enjoy the fresh air, the healthy food, the bread, butter, beef and bacon which they can get fresh from the farms of Ireland. I agree with Deputy Haughey and I hope that the case he has made will bear fruit. I hope the hotel in Glengarriff will be replaced in the very near future by An Bord Fáilte and the Government.

In reading the Minister's Budget speech, I noticed that we have joined the World Bank, and that there are representatives from that bank coming to this country next June. I do not know who will make recommendations to these representatives. If we are to have capital development in its true and proper sense, there should be some representative of the farming community meeting these people. I know that when the Capital Investment Committee issued their last report, it was not too welcome to some of the farmers down the country, and it was not so highly appreciated by the Government because they did not carry out all the recommendations. I do not know who are the members of that committee, but I should be very nervous of whatever they may recommend to the representatives of the World Bank next June. Instead of recommending something sound and practical for the development of this country, they may recommend the establishment of more cinemas, of a television service, or something nonsensical like that. That is what I am very nervous about.

Generally speaking, farmers do not have proper representation on such committees, with the result that their views are not heard, the agricultural industry is neglected and the country suffers as a consequence. The agricultural industry has suffered sufficiently already. It always suffered for lack of capital. If more money had been diverted to agriculture 20 years ago, this would be one of the greatest agricultural producing nations in the world. Our young men, our young farmers, are as good as any that can be found in any other country. They are not shy of work. They are not lazy but, unfortunately, when they produce so much of the nation's wealth, oftentimes they are the very last to get any of it back in return.

Agricultural credit is one of the most vital factors for the development of this country. It is especially necessary for young farmers endeavouring to build up their own homes. Any young farmer who wants to buy land, stock it, furnish his house, marry and bring up a family, should be encouraged in every way to do so. He should get cheap credit facilities and, when I say "cheap," I do not mean money at 5 and 6 per cent. I mean money at as cheap a rate as it possibly can be given by the Government—say, at 2 per cent. It would be money well spent because such a farmer would produce the wealth of this nation, instead of emigrating to a foreign land to produce wealth for another country. If the decline of the rural population should continue, I have no doubt that the wealth of this country will decline also. Productive capital expenditure is the cure for all our ills, not social capital expenditure to give more amusement to those who are unemployed. It would not be good for the Capital Investment Committee to advise those representatives who are coming from America that we wish to have a television service to occupy the time of the unemployed in their spare moments. We have too much of this nonsensical type of thing at the moment.

We must get down to the hard bedrock of common sense, producing enough for our own requirements. Surely, what we produce in Ireland is sufficiently good for the Irish people, whether it be bread, butter, or fish. I spoke on that subject of fish last year because I was shocked to see we were importing large quantities of fish, from other countries, for which we had to pay dearly. Our own goods are sufficiently good in every respect for our Irish people and for the visitors and tourists who come into the country. There is no necessity for importing so much. If we go abroad as tourists or on business, we have to be quite content with the food and wine of the countries to which we go. We cannot get Paddy whiskey or Irish bacon and bread in those countries. We have to climb down and be content with their native foods and drinks.

We should develop our own tastes for our food and, if we did so, there would be less necessity for importing the wine and foods of other countries to feed ourselves or the tourists who visit us, tourists who would much prefer to eat our native foods. They cannot be induced to appreciate our native food and drink if it is a fact that we do not consider them good enough for ourselves. If we do not consider them good enough for ourselves, how can we expect tourists to appreciate them? It is high time we changed our tune in that regard and depended more on what we produce at home.

I have nothing further to say except to express the hope that the Minister will take cognisance of what I have said in this regard. Reduce imports, increase exports, and our balance of payments will be all right. By doing that, we will set out on the high road to recovery as a nation. I am afraid I must say we have yet to prove ourselves capable of ruling ourselves in a proper manner to save this country for future generations.

The debate on the Budget this year, particularly in so far as the Government are concerned, is something that may be described as very mournful. If one compares the speeches from the Fianna Fáil Party in relation to this Budget, with the speeches from that Party in relation to the Budgets introduced by the inter-Party Government, one must ask oneself what extraordinary spell of silence, what extraordinary form of somersault has taken place in so far as Fianna Fáil are concerned? The Deputies who spoke on behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party spoke of every single Budget introduced since 1947. Not alone did they make reference to every Budget since 1947, but they spoke on the topic of every Budget, except the Budget under debate. Why did they single out as, for example, did the Minister for Health, the Budgets of the former Minister, make long speeches in relation to them and make no reference whatever to the Budget under discussion?

More extraordinary still, apart entirely from the silence of the Fianna Fáil Party, is the fact that there is no relationship whatever between the policy put into operation by the Government and the promises and undertakings they gave the electorate a little over 12 months ago. It would be wrong for any Deputy to say that the general public did not expect a general reduction in taxation. They did. Not alone did they expect a general reduction in taxation but they expected a considerable reduction in the prices of essential foodstuffs. They expected a considerable reduction in the heavy burden of taxation deliberately placed on their shoulders by the Budget of 12 months ago. They were the more convinced that there was to be a substantial relief in taxation because they were told by the last Government that the special import levies were designed purely for one purpose alone and that was for putting right the balance of payments problem.

The balance of payments problem is now practically righted and it was the belief and hope of the taxpayers, and of everyone concerned with the special import levies, since these levies were only a temporary measure designed for one purpose alone, that when that purpose was achieved the levies would be immediately relaxed, reviewed and withdrawn. Now, to the great amazement of every taxpayer, and of every concern associated with this additional and extra burden of taxation, it looks as if it is to be permanent. There was keen disappointment expressed with the Budget and also a feeling that there was failure on the part of the Government, firstly, to keep their promises, secondly, to honour the undertakings given by their predecessors regarding the special import levies and thirdly, to be at least honest with the people. The public expected them to be honest because they expected that the levies would have been removed. They considered that the most opportune time for their removal was the occasion of the Budget now under debate.

Those levies were imposed at a critical time and every citizen, from the lowest to the highest, people in every walk of life, farmers, businessmen, capitalists, industrialists, labouring men and farm labourers, knew quite well that there was a national problem to be faced. They knew that that national problem called for stern and unpopular measures but they were given to understand, as has been pointed out on this side of the House on more than one occasion, that these stern and unpopular measures, in the form of levies, were only of a temporary character. I venture to say that if the inter-Party Government were in office they would have honoured their undertakings and relieved the taxpayers at least of the burden of the special import levies, because of the fact that they have achieved their aims.

I should like to hear what the Minister for Finance has to say with regard to the removal of those special import levies and whether he is quite satisfied that this country should be asked to carry permanently those additional levies designed to be only of a temporary character. For the information of the ordinary taxpayer, he has not made himself clear to any great extent on that issue. Not alone has he not made himself clear but some of us gather from his speech that there will be no question of relief from those levies and that we may now look upon them as part of our permanent taxation, that they are here to stay. They are not to be removed; they are there for all time.

I want to ask what is the attitude on this matter of the Fianna Fáil Party, and particularly of the Minister for Finance himself, who on more than one occasion expressed the opinion that the inter-Party Government were too severe and too strenuous? Many of the Deputies of the Fianna Fáil Party looked upon the special import levies as a savage and bitter attack on the taxpayer and upon everybody directly or indirectly affected by those levies. At any rate it is only right that the people should realise even now the seriousness to be attached to the speeches made during the last general election.

The level of taxation has now gone beyond the capacity of the people. One would imagine, if we are to consider the promises and undertakings given by the present Government, that some serious effort would be made to reduce taxation, if it were only to put a face on the manner in which the people were cheated of their votes in the last election. However, brazenly enough, no effort whatever has been made by the Government even to give an appearance of an attempt to reduce taxation. The taxation problem affects all citizens because it cannot be stated that only a limited few are obliged to pay taxes. Every single human being is obliged to pay his share of the national taxation. It is all the same whether it comes from him in the form of income-tax, tax on his food, tax on his machinery or his radio, or even in the form of his dog licence—every section of the people is obliged to contribute to the pool of taxation.

It is all very fine for taxpayers to be obliged to pay this very heavy burden but at some stage they expect not alone to get value for their money but that the money extracted from them will be spent wisely, cautiously and well. The Government, I suggest, can legitimately be accused of not spending the taxpayers' money wisely. Not alone are they not spending the taxpayers' money wisely but the money is being put to bad use.

We were told at one stage by the Government that their energies would be devoted towards relieving unemployment and reducing the ever-increasing number of unemployed. Without the least fear of contradiction by any member of Fianna Fáil, I deliberately accuse the Government of failing in their duty to provide work for the people. It is their bounden duty to provide work for the people. It is not for the Government to criticise to any great extent what their predecessors did or did not. They should face the problems of the present and should be prepared to tackle them courageously.

Apart from placing a growing burden of heavy taxation upon the shoulders of our people, the Government have failed completely to provide work for them. The fact that the Government are deliberately closing their eyes to unemployment shows their complete disregard for family life. It shows their complete disregard of a duty which is the duty of every Government, that is, to see that the fathers of families are provided with work so that they will have a decent standard of living in their own country and be able to bring up their families in Christian decency.

From my own experience in rural Ireland, never before has there been such distress, such want and such dire poverty in the homes of our working-class people. Local authorities are employing fewer; Bord na Móna are employing fewer on bog development schemes; and there is a complete reduction in the numbers employed on rural electrification. Factories and mills are on short time. For example, the Irish Worsted Mills at Portlaoise, which, during the term of office of the inter-Party Government, were working to the fullest possible extent, and even working overtime, are now forced to go on four days per week, which will mean a considerable loss of income to the workers employed in those mills and a considerable loss of income to the traders and shopkeepers of Portlaoise and other towns similarly affected.

The farmers were asked to work harder and produce more but the more they produced, the more was taken from them and the less they were paid. Apart entirely from the savage attack which was made on the farmers, there was nobody who had to carry the burden of distress, torment and trouble to the extent to which the working man and the low wage-earner have had to carry these burdens during the past 12 or 14 months. Unfortunate citizens were faced with having to join the long queues outside the labour exchanges. It was stated in this House that no Irish worker wants deliberately to be in a queue outside a labour exchange. No Irish worker wants to extend his hand either for unemployment benefit, doles, reliefs—whatever you call them —or for sums from charitable organisations.

The evidence in the annual reports of all charitable organisations submitted at the end of December shows clearly that there never was such a drain upon some of these societies by decent hard-working people who have been deprived of work and who, because of necessity, were forced to apply to such organisations for funds to keep body and soul together.

When we are faced, as we are, with a discontented people, there can be little hope or prospect for the future. Every time conditions become really bad, there is an increase in crime. If the statistics in the form of charges at the local courts for theft and larceny are made available, it will be found that there are a greater number of charges in respect of larceny and theft and a greater degree of disrespect for the law than there are when people are contented and in full time employment.

It is bad enough that our people should be faced with unemployment, but the position is still worse in regard to those members of the younger generation who leave school each year. I want to ask the Government and, indeed, the House what future faces the young people of 14, 15 and 16 years of age to-day? What future faces those who are leaving the secondary schools, the national schools and the universities? Young people with degrees leaving the universities cannot find work as engineers, agricultural instructors and doctors. Is it not coming home forcibly to the mind of the Government that there are extremely well educated people in the country, people who leave our universities with honours degrees, qualified doctors, engineers and accountants, who, every single week, leave for Great Britain, the United States, Canada and New Zealand?

Every Deputy who is a member of a county committee of agriculture knows that for every vacancy for an agricultural instructor, there are from one to 12 applicants. The statistics are available in the offices of the Local Appointments Commission as to the numbers of applicants for every dispensary district which becomes vacant. Yet you have large numbers of professional people, on whose education their parents have spent sums running into four figures, who have to be exported, because they have no hope of any kind of a job, unless they have some political pull. Then it is all the same whether they are educated or not, because, if they have that pull, they will get the job. That is the unfortunate position in this country.

That was true once upon a time.

That is true to-day; it was never more true than it is to-day.

That is not relevant on this motion.

The Government have a definite responsibility to provide work. Very little of the Minister's Budget speech was devoted either to the problem of unemployment or what he proposes to do to remedy it. Surely it must be clear at this stage—after 14 months of the Government's existence—that they have done practically nothing towards solving that problem. To the knowledge of every Government Deputy, it has been stated that the volume of emigration in the past 12 or 18 months could not be equalled during the period of office of any Government previous to this. The silence of the Minister and the silence of the Head of the Government and of the other members of the Government on such important matters as unemployment and emigration, shows disregard for the future of the country and certainly shows disregard for the unfortunate people who are put to the pin of their collar to get an existence.

The speech of the Minister for Health and those of the other members of the Fianna Fáil Party were devoted entirely to a concentrated attack on the inter-Party Government. Would it not be only right to ask the Government whether during the years the inter-Party Government were in office they did any one thing that was any good? Is there any credit whatever given to them for anything? Was there ever any action taken by the inter-Party Government without regard for the people? We have never heard any such statement coming from one Fianna Fáil Deputy. Instead, their energies are pooled in order to make a maliciously designed and outrageous attack upon the inter-Party Government.

What is the Deputy's speech?

Is it not right that we should enlighten the people as to what we did to their advantage and benefit? Is it not right to recall that in 1947 this country was in such an extraordinary state of disorder, distress and poverty that there were fewer cattle, fewer sheep, fewer pigs, more unemployment and less business than ever before? The one thing I am afraid of is, instead of this country thriving and making headway, that by 1960, as a result of the re-entry of a Fianna Fáil Government, we shall be back again where we were in 1947.

Might I suggest to the Deputy that it would be more relevant to discuss the Budget for 1958?

In relation to the present Budget, there does not seem to be any hope of giving substantial relief to the farmers or in regard to the cost of living. Let us take the cost of living. Does the present Government feel that the electors tore the paving stones up getting to the polling booths 14 months ago so that that Government could present us with a Budget such as this? The results of that election would have been different if the Fianna Fáil Party had gone to the people and said: "If we are elected as the Government of this country, we shall take no hand, act or part in reducing taxation nor shall we give any relief whatever to the old age pensioners, widow pensioners, orphans, and so on." Those and other needy sections of the community who are feeling the effects of the increased cost of living as a result of this Budget, and who should have been given substantial increases by way of compensation, are omitted deliberately from this Budget.

I want to criticise the Budget for failing to provide for these people. I want to criticise the Budget for not providing for the old age pensioners. Without any great difficulty arrangements could have been made to increase old age pensions by at least 5/- a week. Widows' and orphans' pensions could have been substantially increased. Unemployment assistance and other social services and benefits could have been increased because there is justification for such increases. There is a justification for an increase in the old age pensions and the widows' and orphans' pensions because of the increased price of foodstuffs.

We on this side of the House who disagree with Fianna Fáil on their policy of savagely attacking the price of essential foodstuffs, do not sufficiently harp upon the cost of living. It was the cost of living which was the chief subject of every speech made by the Fianna Fáil Party. I should like to ask the Minister for Finance what he has done in this Budget about the cost of living. What single item of foodstuffs will be cheaper? What essential commodity will be cheaper? Is there to be no relief in regard to the price of bread, flour, butter, cigarettes, stout, sugar, tobacco, and so on? It was the deliberate policy of the present Government that made the price of these commodities excessive. The people expected that at least the Government would have been honest in regard to those prices. Although the price of bread, flour and butter, three essential items, has increased substantially, there has not been a corresponding increase in the rates of blind pensions, widows' and orphans' pensions and old age pensions.

An arrangement has been made between the trade unions and the Minister for Industry and Commerce that certain sections of the people are to be given an increase in pay to the extent of 10/- per week. It must be borne in mind that there are tens of thousands of people who are in no way affiliated to a trade union and who will receive no such increase. Yet these people are obliged to exist on the sum they were receiving before the price of those foodstuffs was increased.

I expected to hear some form of explanation, when the Minister was dealing with unemployment, as to why more money was not provided for rural electrification. The inter-Party Government, from 1948 to date, were mainly responsible for spending something like £50,000,000 on rural electrification. We have been told in the Dáil by the Minister for Industry and Commerce that the estimated number of new rural areas which will be completed in 1958-59 will be approximately 60. No information was given as to the reason for the slowing down of rural electrification. During the last three years, particularly the years in which the inter-Party Government were in office, the figures provide an illuminating comparison. In 1954-55, 75 areas were completed. In 1955-56, 99 areas were completed and in 1956-57, 80 areas were completed.

I accuse the Minister for Finance of slowing down rural electrification and, simply and solely because of his policy, this is causing unemployment. It is remarkable that when Fianna Fáil were in office in 1951-52 only 49 areas were completed; in 1952-53, 49 areas again was the figure, and in 1953-54, 60 areas were completed. This must show that Fianna Fáil policy with regard to rural electrification is to cut it out completely, slow it down, and have a fewer number of men employed on it. They have taken no action to see that more areas are completed and given the benefit of rural electrification. It is no wonder that the figures for unemployment are so high because of the slow down in rural electrification.

The Minister for Finance must know that there are parish councils, local authorities and development associations set up in the most mountainous and most remote parts of the country seeking rural electrification. On the one hand the E.S.B. are saying they are producing too much electricity and, on the other hand, there are people demanding electricity and cannot get it.

I think the Deputy is straying into the administration of the Department of Industry and Commerce.

I shall obey your ruling, but I was just endeavouring to show that the Government could provide more employment by concentrating on schemes such as rural electrification.

The Minister for Finance must take responsibility for the slowing down of the activities of Bord na Móna. I do not propose to go into the administration of the Department of Industry and Commerce, the E.S.B. or Bord na Móna, but I do want to press home the fact that there are fewer people employed on bog development schemes than there were. I respectfully submit it is due to the fact that sufficient provision has not been made for bog development purposes. That is one of the reasons why I accuse this Budget of being a failure, of holding out no hope for the future of bog development schemes, for the future of rural schemes, and, as Deputy Wycherley pointed out, for the future development that should take place in the fishing industry if sufficient capital were made available for that industry.

The Fianna Fáil Government always seem to look upon the farmer as a chief target for attack any time they feel like it. I feel there is no other section of the community carrying greater taxation to-day than the farming community. I expected that in this Budget some provision would have been made to relieve the farmer of some of his burden. I expected there would be some relief of taxation on agricultural machinery. I expected that the levies would have been removed on all imports required for agricultural purposes. We have asked the farmers to become mechanised, we have asked them to become more efficient, to purchase machinery, and the result has been that the horse is a thing of the past on the land.

The horse has had his day on the land and the change has made for greater efficiency, greater speed and greater production. It is necessary in the age in which we are living. It is necessary that tractors and other modern machinery be at the disposal of the farmer in his efforts to increase production but, in regard to tractors, the taxation on them in the Twenty-Six Counties is £14 8s. 9d. while in Northern Ireland it is only £4 15s., if the tractor is to be used for hire. While we urge the farmer to become modernised we place a special tax on his machinery and implements. I should like to know why there should be this extraordinary difference in the rate between the Twenty-Six Counties and Northern Ireland.

The farmer who uses a tractor in Armagh and Tyrone to plough and sow, and who uses it for hire, can do so at a rate of £4 15s. a year but, in the Twenty-Six Counties, he is obliged to pay £14 8s. 9d. The amount collected on tractors is roughly £120,000 a year and we must bear in mind that while we collect in taxation on tractors alone £120,000 a year, there is nothing collected in Denmark, nothing collected in the Netherlands, nothing collected in Germany, nothing in Sweden, and nothing in New Zealand. Yet, we ask: "Why is the Irish farmer not like the New Zealand farmer, why is he not like the Danish farmer? Why are our farmers not able to take their place side by side with the farmers of the Netherlands?" We see the Governments of Germany, Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark and the Netherlands giving special tax reliefs to those on the land; here, not alone have the farmers the heavy burden of local taxation in the form of rates, but everything they have to buy—spades, forks, shovels, implements, barbed wire, netting wire and all other wire they use—is taxed. On top of that, the most essential piece of machinery, the tractor, is taxed. The tractor has come to stay because the people, particularly the younger element in agriculture, believe that the day of ploughing and sowing by following horses from sunrise to nightfall has gone; they will never go back to it, never want to go back, and never should go back, if they are to keep up production. With a tractor and modern machinery, one can do more work in less time than can possibly be done otherwise.

I want to ask the Minister for Finance why some relief was not given in taxation on agricultural machinery and what are the prospects of such relief in the future? I ask the Minister to take special notice of the tax on tractors here compared with the similar tax in Northern Ireland. How does it happen that there should be this extraordinary drain on the owner's pocket through taxation here as compared with Northern Ireland in view of the fact that in most European agricultural countries the tractor is free of tax?

I do not know if the Minister's attention was directed to a memorandum from the National Farmers' Association in regard to tractor taxation and machinery tariffs when he was framing his Budget. That memorandum was submitted for the consideration of the Government by the Secretary of the National Farmers' Association on 22nd February, 1958. Was that circular considered by the Government in connection with the talks between the Minister for Agriculture and the National Farmers' Association relating to taxation on the agricultural community? What, if any, consideration has been given to it? If consideration was given to it, why was no favourable decision reached? I feel there is a case here for granting considerable reliefs.

The House is entitled to some information from the Minister as to why the land rehabilitation scheme has been slowed down or practically cut out, why further funds have not been made available for that scheme to proceed at a greater rate and why provision was not made in the Budget——

That surely is administration. The Budget is the means by which taxation is secured for the administration of the Departments of the Government.

I agree, but I was endeavouring to demonstrate the Government's failure—and they have failed seriously—in regard to the land rehabilitation scheme in not providing funds.

I am sure the Deputy will get an opportunity to do that on another occasion.

Having regard to the heavy burden of taxation and unemployment, I want to refer to a speech by the Minister for Lands in Kilbeggan last June, because I feel this is an opportune time to ascertain whether the Minister for Lands was speaking with the approval of his colleagues in the Government, or whether he was taking it on himself to say that millions had been wasted in the vain hope that building houses and hospitals would keep our people at home——

I know that the Minister for Finance has a good deal of responsibility, but I am sure he does not bear responsibility for everything his colleagues say especially outside this House.

I would not expect the Minister for Finance to answer to this House for everything the Minister for Lands might say, but I want to know if it is the opinion of the Minister for Finance, or is it Government policy, that money spent, as it was spent, by the inter-Party Government, in building houses and hospitals, has been wasted? That was the text of the speech of the Minister for Lands and of most of the speeches made by the Fianna Fáil Party. The building of houses and hospitals is essential: that is why the inter-Party Government devoted so much time and energy to that task. It was regarded as of the greatest importance because, not alone did it provide work but it also provided homes for people who had none and hospitals for the aged and infirm. Yet advantage was taken of that, and speeches were made by members of the present Government condemning the inter-Party Government's policy of building houses and hospitals.

Deputy Wycherley said that production could be increased, if sufficient capital were made available for the agricultural community. He was quite right in that. If we want more produced in this country, those who are to produce it must be facilitated by having capital made available for them. It has been said here that all our energies should be devoted to increasing production and exports. A great deal has been done to increase exports. A vast amount was done during the years in which the inter-Party Government were in office to increase our exports. In 1947, out total exports were £39,000,000. To-day they are £131,000,000. The Fianna Fáil Party cannot take the credit for that since they were not in office consistently from 1947 to the present day.

It is a matter of pride and gratification for the inter-Party Government that that increase has taken place. They can look upon their years of office as years which yielded great and beneficial fruits for the country. The increase in exports from £39,000,000 in 1947 to £131,000,000 to-day shows that attention was directed towards increasing production for export, particularly increasing production for live-stock export.

It has been said that we must increase production still more. If that is so, then, as Deputy Wycherley has so rightly pointed out, we must devote all our energies towards providing capital for those on the land. All of us who are intimately connected with the people in rural Ireland know quite well that the people in the Midlands failed to sow their lands, set their lands or asked neighbours to take their lands under the conacre system simply because they had not got the capital with which to stock the lands. They regarded the time as too dear to purchase live stock. They suffered from a shortage of capital. The Agricultural Credit Corporation has played an important rôle in assisting some farmers, but the Minister must be aware that it is not always the most needy or most deserving farmer who will be sympathetically considered for a substantial loan by the Agricultural Credit Corporation.

That is a matter for the Estimate, not for the Financial Motion.

I merely wanted to point out to the Minister the importance and urgency of providing capital to enable farmers to increase production on the land. Until such time as those on the land are provided with sufficient capital to increase production, there is little use in asking them to do that in relation to which they are handicapped at the present time because of lack of capital.

The Budget is a disappointing Budget. It has given nothing to the people. It has given no relief to the taxpayer. It is a Budget which carries disappointment for the housewife. It is a Budget which has brought no relief whatsoever to the poorer and weaker sections of the community, the old, the sick and the infirm. It is a Budget that holds out no hope for the unemployed. It is a Budget that holds out no hope in respect of the heavy burden of taxation placed on the shoulders of the agricultural community. It is a Budget that holds out no hope for Fianna Fáil. It is a Budget that will help to hasten the day when Fianna Fáil will be removed from office. Fianna Fáil has always talked about balanced Budgets. This Budget has brought nothing but disappointment to every section of the community, and the most keenly disappointed of all are the back benchers in the Fianna Fáil Party, particularly when they are questioned as to their general election promises to provide more work, cheaper food and lower taxation. Where is all that to-day? What about all those promises? The day of reckoning is approaching and the people will be alive to the manner in which they have been cheated.

I say this is a good thing because the people have at last had the opportunity of seeing for themselves the deceit and dishonesty of Fianna Fáil policy all down through the years, from 1932 to the present day. The last election was just one further demonstration of the manner in which Fianna Fáil gained votes by means of trickery. They have shown a complete disregard for the entire economy of the country. They have turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to unemployment and emigration and to the heavy burden of taxation. All sections of the community have but one song to sing to-day, namely, that the promises made by Fianna Fáil have not been honoured and that they have been deceived. This Budget discloses the hypocrisy and deceit of the Fianna Fáil Party, hypocrisy and deceit which will be remembered by the electorate and particularly by those who put that Party into office, in the sincere belief that, when in office, they would fulfil the promises they made. To-day, they are keenly disappointed and, for that, we have some cause for gratitude. We must, I suppose, accept evil, if, out of that evil, we may eventually be able to do good. This Budget has served its purpose in proving to the people the dishonesty of the Government, their total disregard for the country and their complete bankruptcy of policy.

I have listened to the debate on the Budget over the past few weeks and I have noticed the Opposition using the old Coalition formula which stood them in such good stead even though on a short term basis, namely, Fine Gael looking for a reduction in taxation and Labour looking for an increase in social welfare benefits. But nobody has told us how these can be achieved and when the Coalition Government was in office its members did not seem to be as interested in these things as they were during elections.

I can appreciate that the Opposition are worried about this Budget, not merely because there is no increase in taxation but because our economic position is such that no further taxation is necessary. This is a good Budget. To appreciate the achievement in holding the line of taxation at the level at which it was last year one must not look upon the Budget as a self-contained unit. One must examine it against the background of the financial chaos we inherited in March, 1957. Partly because of the indiscriminate imposition of levies, particularly on the raw materials of industries whose goods would ultimately be exported, we had a very high jump in unemployment, with consequent emigration. Thousands of Government grants all over the country were unpaid. Local authority cheques were refused by the banks.

Other Deputies have said that before. I ask the Minister to answer this question: Is that true or is it not true? No local authority cheques were refused. It does not do the credit of the country any good to repeat it.

I had one specific sample of it.

I do not believe it. I challenge the Deputy to give the details.

We were forced by the financial position of the country to bring in an unpopular Budget.

Why, then, did you not change it this year?

Deputy O.J. Flanagan spoke about the 1957 Budget as if it were something for which we were responsible rather than something which came as the ultimate result of blunders made by the Coalition Government. I could use a simple analogy in respect of the Deputy's reasoning. The Coalition made the bomb, put it on the plane, piloted the plane to its objective, released the bomb and then blamed us for the explosion.

Who put the bomb in at New York, the other day?

The Opposition have described the Budget as unimaginative. Various speakers from this side of the House have said that if what they mean by "imaginative" is something like the Budgets brought in by the Coalition Government, then it is time we had a change.

It is worthy of note that in the document issued by the Central Statistics Office we find that, for the week ending 26th April, 1958, there was a reduction of nearly 2,500 in the unemployment figure; in 1957, the reduction was less than 200 and in 1956, it was 1,000.

Stop, man. Read it again.

Who can deny that this Budget was responsible for that reduction in unemployment? People in a position to give employment felt secure and were able to give employment. That is obvious from the figures I have quoted.

Deputy Dillon commented on our remarks in respect of the unsuccessful Coalition Government loans and inferred that we had taken from the credit-worthiness of the country by our remarks. That is not true. We felt that, because of the vacillating policy of the Coalition Government, the people had lost faith in them and for that reason, would not give money in loans. It did not mean that the money was not available. One might as well say that if an uncredit-worthy person went to a bank for a loan and the bank refused him, it meant that the bank had no money.

There has been considerable discussion on the balance of payments. I listened to what the members of the various Opposition Parties had to say on the subject. I find it difficult to understand their exact attitude towards the question. Sometimes they clap themselves on the back because they made the necessary changes to rectify the balance of payments, while at other times they allege that we are correcting the balance of payments but are not doing anything for employment. We feel that the correction of the balance of payments is necessary to enable us to have credit in other countries with which we can purchase the raw materials essential to our industries. It is obvious that if we have a debit balance in other countries we shall eventually be refused the raw materials which are so necessary to our economy.

I agree with Deputy Fanning's remarks about introducing the P.A.Y.E. system in relation to income-tax. I am sure his remarks can be applied to most constituencies. Working-men who get bills for large amounts in respect of income-tax are not able to pay those bills in one lump sum. The P.A.Y.E. system would be helpful, inasmuch as they could pay so much income-tax per week.

With regard to unemployment, while the figure are being reduced, there is certainly no room for complacency. I feel that this Budget has laid the foundation for a future policy on which we can build and from that foundation go forward towards the ending of unemployment and emigration which are causing so much damage to our people and our country.

I do not blame Deputy Faulkner for repeating untrue statements such as the one on which I interrupted him a few minutes ago. He has heard that pitter-patter from his leaders. I do not blame him, a comparative neophyte, for accepting what they have told him as true. However, we had that untruth in relation to local authorities in the past 12 months from Deputy Allen. If Deputy Faulkner cares to look at the reply given by his Minister for Local Government, he will find that the statement he has just made is untrue. The repetition of that type of statement—that cheques presented by local authorities were refused by the banks—does not do the credit of the country any good, no matter at what time it is alleged the cheques were repudiated. It is obvious that if any such cases occurred during the time when I was Minister for Finance, they would have come to my notice. No such case came before me.

The only case in which there was any difficulty whatsoever was where the local official concerned neglected to take the normal course of ensuring that they would get the appropriate sanction and permission from the elected county council. Where the officials concerned had endeavoured to get capital accommodation in excess of that which their county council had sanctioned, it was unquestionably a mistake by the officials concerned. As soon as that mistake was rectified, the matter was cleared up without any delay. I am sure every member of this House, as well as every member of a local authority, is aware that permission for overdraft accommodation must be given not by the county manager but by the elected representatives of the county council.

A Budget debate is a debate in which we should have a serious consideration of the economic and financial conditions of the country and of the economic and financial prognostications of the Minister in relation to the time ahead. Above all else, this is a time in which we should not indulge in amusement of scurrility. Therefore, it is a tragic thing that a former Minister for Finance, Deputy MacEntee, the present Minister for Health, should have taken advantage of the Budget debate last Wednesday to indulge in a type of dishonest scurrility which has seldom met its equal from any responsible Deputy here.

Deputy MacEntee, above all else as an ex-Minister for Finance, should have been one of those who would have set a tone in a debate such as this. Instead of that he chooses to indulge in certain personal abuse and in pseudo arguments, based on figures that, if he had taken the slightest trouble, he could have found were not correct, and in general to deal with it as a joke rather than as a matter for serious debate. Let me assure the Minister for Finance that I do not propose under any circumstances to make any references to his Budget, no matter what I may think of it, in the personal terms of "Philip drunk and Philip sober" to which Deputy MacEntee referred. To do so would be the reverse of anything that any constructive criticism should be.

As I say, Deputy MacEntee is not a neophyte. He is not a back bencher in Fianna Fáil who has little experience. He is a former Minister for Finance. He is in a position more accurately to determine for himself than are most Deputies the true facts in relation to any matters of financial policy about which he wishes to speak. I do not mind Deputy Davern saying that this was the first Budget in ten years that had not increased taxation. Of course, that is not true. I imagine some of the members of his own Front Bench will rap him on the knuckles for that. I will make you a present of this. During the past ten years, certain Budgets introduced by Fianna Fáil did not increase taxation, just as certain Budgets introduced by us did not increase taxation. I do not mind that from Deputy Davern. He is merely repeating something he has heard dishonestly stated by somebody else.

Nor do I mind somebody like Deputy Doherty from North Mayo getting up and repeating falsehoods he has heard in other circumstances. Perhaps he is not able to analyse himself the falsity of what he has spoken. As I have mentioned his name, I do object to the insolence he displayed, not towards me, but towards the members of the Capital Investment Committee when he suggested that they were just "yes" men for my successor or for myself. I do not think that is a way in which people serving on a voluntary committee such as this should be described, by implication or otherwise.

Deputy MacEntee challenged the remarks I made in reference to my charge that Fianna Fáil had put their Party before country. I want to repeat that charge in the most specific terms. I did not make that charge, as he suggested, on the Budgets of 1952 and 1957. I made it on an entirely different basis. I shall repeat that basis and that charge now. In 1951 Deputy MacEntee was Minister for Finance. On the 19th July, 1951, he came into this House and deliberately for Party purpose made a speech as Minister for Finance crying havoc, a speech that undermined public confidence very substantially at that time and, by such undermining, considerably injured the national economy and the whole financial structure of 1951.

In 1957 we had emerged, as I shall show at a later stage, from the difficulties of the end of 1955 and the first six to eight months of 1956. What the country needed more than anything else at that time was an expression of confidence in that we had been able to surmount those difficulties or an expression of confidence that the measures that had been introduced for their surmounting had been successful. If they had got that expression the people would have felt that, if unfortunately for other reasons other difficulties had arisen, it would have been possible to surmount them again. But, because it did not suit the Party book of Fianna Fáil, they did not give the country in 1957 that expression of confidence it should have been given.

Let me in fairness say to my successor, the Minister for Finance, that he did endeavour to start on the correct line in his Budget speech this time last year. But it was a line that was quickly forgotten and deliberately contradicted by his own colleagues afterwards for purely political party purposes. It did considerable damage to our economic structure and delayed the resurgence that was beginning to come and would have come following the necessity of having to take certain steps in 1956. I am quite positive that the reason the members of the present Government took that line in the country of talking all the time about how bad things were, instead of saying that the corner had been turned this time last year, was purely for the purposes of their own Party, ignoring the effect it would have on our national economy. In so doing, I repeat, they were putting their Party before their country.

In his speech Deputy MacEntee made an attempted analysis of everything that happened since 1948. I do not propose in any way to follow him into the detail in which he went except to say this: that he was grossly inaccurate and in many respects quite untrue. He started off by telling us that everything was lovely in the garden in 1948, that when Fianna Fáil went out of office everything was absolutely beautiful and that there would be no difficulties whatever for the inter-Party Government. It is rather peculiar, if that was the position, that Deputy Lemass had been speaking a couple of months before in entirely different terms. Deputy Lemass went up to Letterkenny, County Donegal, and is reported on 15th September, 1947, in the Irish Press. In case Deputy Burke should think I am misquoting or taking it from a paper unfavourable to Deputy Lemass, I invite Deputy Burke to inspect the Irish Press.

Mr. Burke

I am delighted to read it.

I always read it. I like reading what Pravda says so that I can contradict it. Here is what Deputy Lemass said in Letterkenny:—

"We are entering four years of most acute difficulty in which economic disaster will threaten on every side and our only weapon of defence is our capacity to work hard."

He went on:—

"There should be no doubt about the reality of our danger. Our agricultural output has fallen. We must get it up again. This year's fall may be attributed partly to the abnormal spring and winter but our figures for years past are disturbing."

If, as Deputy MacEntee tried to suggest to this House, everything was beautiful when the inter-Party Government took over in the beginning of 1948, why did his senior, the Tánaiste, express the views he expressed in Letterkenny?

We have heard from time to time Fianna Fáil complaining that we were taking 1947 as a year of comparison. Is not it rather significant in that respect that the Tánaiste himself then said in relation to agricultural prices that the figures for years past were disturbing?

Deputy MacEntee passed from that to Marshall Aid. As I am referring to different Ministers for Finance, the Chair will not think that I am being in any way discourteous to the Minister by referring to him as Deputy MacEntee. He then passed to Marshall Aid. Of all the subjects upon which he should not speak in this House, I suggest that that is par excellence the one. When Deputy MacEntee, as Minister for Finance, took over the reins of the Department of Finance, in June, 1951, he had there to his hand more than 50 per cent. of the Marshall Aid.

Prior to that, Deputy McGilligan, as Minister for Finance, had been utilising Marshall Aid as it should have been utilised, for the purpose of supplementing year by year the ordinary facilities available for the capital expenditure necessary to make up the backlog of the war and scarcity years. We all know that the position was that there was a backlog that had to be made up. Goods were not available, particularly capital goods, during the war and it was desirable that, when these goods became available, they should be obtained as soon as was possible.

Up to June, 1951, the Marshall Aid moneys were utilised for the purpose of supplementing the ordinary savings that were available. From June, 1951, to December, 1951, however, the pattern was entirely changed under the aegis of Deputy MacEntee in the Department of Finance. Between June, 1951, and December, 1951, £24,000,000 of that Marshall Aid money was scuttled out of the central Exchequer as quickly as Deputy MacEntee could shovel it out, a procedure which added in an appalling way to the inflationary symptoms and inflationary pressures then operating following the outbreak of the Korean war. As I say, more than half the Marshall Aid was paid out by Deputy MacEntee in that short space of six months and it is pretty breathtaking that his audacity should enable him to come in here and speak about inflation and Marshall Aid in the same breath when that is his record in that respect.

The Minister for Health then proceeded to discuss the 1955 Budget. In column 1044, Volume 167, of the Official Report he says:—

"The Budget for 1955 was not an honest Budget."

He makes no effort whatsoever to prove that statement. He could not because it is an untrue statement and very little research by a person of his experience would have shown categorically and clearly how untrue was the statement. Unfortunately, he went further than that; he proceeded to make statements that were of themselves untrue, an attempt, by the implication of those statements, to bolster up the charge that he had made. He said:—

"On the Budget for 1955, despite the fact that they had the advantage of the proceeds of the first special import levy"

—the Minister must have forgotten that the special import levy in that year yielded £54,000 and that that £54,000 was put, not to current account, but to capital account, to reduce the amount that otherwise would have to be raised by the creation of debt—

"and that there was an increase of £860,000 in the amount of current expenditure which he defrayed from borrowing, Deputy Sweetman was forced in respect of that Budget to disclose a deficit of £312,000."

Let me say categorically that there was no £860,000 increase in current expenditure defrayed from borrowing. On the contrary, there was less current expenditure in that year defrayed from borrowing than there had been in Deputy MacEntee's Budgets of 1953 or of 1954. There was a deficit of £312,000, which is the equivalent of about one-third of 1 per cent. on the total current revenue and let me make this present to my successor as Minister for Finance, that if he can get any Budget that he introduces within one-third of 1 per cent. of the amount at which he strove in his Budget statement to balance his accounts, then he is doing a good job. It is utterly absurd for anyone to suggest that any Minister for Finance can get his Budget Estimates nearer than the figure I have said of one-third of 1 per cent. and nobody knows that better than the Minister for Health.

The Minister then came on to discuss the Budget of 1956, about which I will have something to say at a later stage. At column 1044, Volume 167, he said:—

"So we have this position: that £5,725,000 of additional taxes yielded a deficit of £5,946,000 or a short-fall on Estimates of over £11,500,000."

Deputy MacEntee, of all people, should be able to make computations without having double counting in them, particularly when he had before him, or when he should have had before him when he made that speech, the speech made by my successor last year, when he said there was a short-fall on revenue of £4,500,000. The method in which the Minister for Health attempted to blackguard the Budgets of 1955 and 1956, introduced by me, by dishonest and untrue statements of that sort, should be beneath the dignity of a former Minister for Finance.

He followed that by suggesting that the General Election of 1957 took place because we did not wish to introduce a Budget. Surely he does not expect that the people of the country have forgotten the manner in which the Fianna Fáil Party campaigned up and down the country that they wanted a general election at once? We had the Taoiseach, then Deputy de Valera, the Leader of the Opposition, rampaging through the country with his dictionary talking about how he would define a limpet and how he would examine all the attributes of that animal. Everybody knows that the General Election of 1957 took place because of the withdrawal by the Clann na Poblachta Deputies of their support for the Government. Everybody knows also that the reason for that withdrawal had in reality nothing whatever to do with economic factors but was because the Government were determined to govern and to preserve democratic rights in this country. Is it not, there, fore, dishonest for the Minister for Health to come into the House now and suggest that the reasons for the general election were that we were not prepared to make a Budget and that we had not in any way disclosed what the position was?

I want to refer to a speech I made at a time when I knew that a general election was to take place, a speech made on the 6th February, 1957, at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis. That speech made it clear beyond question that I appreciated there would be difficulties ahead, difficulties in relation to the budgetary position for 1957-58. If I wished to hide from the country that these difficulties were going to arise it would have been a simple matter and, perhaps, do as Fianna Fáil did to get votes on the head of that deception. Quite deliberately I chose to say truthfully what I knew was the position. There cannot be any suggestion by the members of the Fianna Fáil Party particularly, that they were unaware of that position because Pravda, the Irish Press, made a point of featuring my speech the next morning in their issue of the 7th February.

They made a point of featuring it in an effort to pretend that while I saw difficulties ahead they, and the people they represented, the Fianna Fáil Party, saw no such difficulties. I am quite aware myself that the fact that I did disclose those difficulties to the people may have cost the Fine Gael Party votes, and even seats in the general election. I did it quite deliberately and I am glad that I did it, even if it did mean that. We did not wish to hoodwink the electorate in any way. Indeed, it would be impossible for us to compete in hoodwinking with the boys over there—they are such past-masters in that, that anything we would do would be only just trotting down the river.

Anybody interested in that can see that issue of the Irish Press and they will see that I disclosed the true facts. They will also see another thing, if they wish to make the analysis. They will see, in relation to the weekly returns published in Iris Oifigiúil that, while I was Minister for Finance, we were disclosing the true position week by week in that return. I assume there is a statutory obligation on the Minister for Finance to publish that weekly return in Iris Oifigiúil. I have not been able to check the exact statute that deals with it, but it is being done year after year and, I presume, in pursuance of a statutory duty. When I was Minister for Finance that published return was a true return. This last year I am afraid it was not a true return.

In 1955, the March expenditure was £17.9 million. In 1956 the March expenditure was £18.3 million. In 1957 the March expenditure was £18.2 million but in 1958 the March expenditure was £25.9 million. Deputy Cunningham suggested on Thursday last, when I criticised the March expenditure of that year, that I criticised it because I wished it had not been paid. I did not. I criticised this from the aspect that a large succession of payments must have been quite deliberately held up over earlier months of that year and thrown into the expenditure for March, 1958, so that expenditure for March, 1958, was approximately £8,000,000 more than the March expenditure of either of the three previous financial years. I am not suggesting that the Minister for Finance had not got to pay that money but I am suggesting that the manner in which they were all held up to the end of the financial year shows the returns made of expenditure throughout the rest of that year had not got that genuineness, that forthrightness, which would be desirable when it is a statutory duty to publish such a return.

The point of such a return is that everybody may see how the receipts and expenditures for the Government are going ahead. Let me, however, return to the 1955-56 Budget on which Deputy MacEntee, the Minister for Health, was so voluble. He said that the 1955 Budget was not an honest Budget. Certainly, the Budget of 1955, which he said so much about being dishonest, had a deficit of £312,000. His Budget of 1952 had a deficit of £2,480,000 and the Budget of 1953 a deficit of £702,000. Those figures would seem to imply that he would have been wiser and more prudent in not throwing stones, considering the glasshouse in which he was himself situated.

To go back to the 1956-57 Budget one of the things which must be considered in relation to any Budget is not merely its balancing its books but its effect from an inflationary and deflationary point of view. This year the Minister has taken into normal current account the proceeds of the special import levies, partly by changing them to protective customs duties and partly by taking the levies as they are. If he does that this year, is it not fair enough to compare the 1956-57 and 1957-58 Budgets as they would have been, if he had done in those years as he has done this year? Then it would mean that the Budget introduced by the Minister in 1957 was, from an inflationary point of view, unbalanced to the extent of £3,329 million, while for 1956-57 it was unbalanced only to the extent of £1.67 million. In other words, on the current account, the Budget of my successor last year was twice as wrong as mine of 1956, to which the Minister for Health referred in such scathing terms the other day.

It was perfectly obvious in the autumn of 1956, immediately the necessity arose for the second import levies, that their restrictive effect would, to some degree, affect the current Budget out-turn for that year, but no matter how much it might affect that unbalance, it was bound to have a very substantial dis-inflationary effect —not a deflationary effect—and bound again to have an unbalance. It became quite clear towards the late autumn of 1956 that our trade position was improving very substantially and that we were surmounting the difficulties that had shown themselves in the earlier parts of the year. If the restrictions and cuts in capital expenditure which had been visualised in July were not eased to some extent, then their deflationary effect would have been more than was necessary and the economy would have gone from dis-inflation to deflation.

It was because of that that the Government at that time released £1,000,000 for the relief of unemployment so as to avoid an unnecessary deflationary effect. We then had, on top of the situation at home, the effects of the Suez crisis. Nobody need suggest that it did not have a severe effect on this country. Indeed, the Minister in his Budget speech the other day acknowledged that when he instanced the effects of the Suez crisis on the Road Fund. There is no doubt whatever that the effect of the measures taken at that time proved adequate without the necessity of the further deflation that would then be required if one were to have brought—after the second import levies and after Suez— the current Budget into balance, in 1956-57. However, I think if I were to deal only, in discussing this Budget Resolution, with the outrageous and audacious impudence of the Minister for Health, that I would not be fulfilling the duty which I have and which we all have.

This Budget about which the Minister for Health said hardly a word, if indeed he said a word at all, is built on four foundations. First of all, it consolidates and continues everything in the 1957 Budget—of which I will have something more to say later on. Secondly, in order to make it balance, it transfers to capital account items which previously were dealt with on current account. In other words, it adds these items to the public debt about which the Deputies opposite are so very found of talking. Items which before were dealt with on current account are, in this Budget, included in capital account.

The third basis upon which it is built is the transfer of the levies and the switch to revenue duties. There is no difference whatsoever between that switch and the Minister standing up here and saying: "Whereas previously we paid these moneys as we went, now we are going to borrow for capital expenditure"—because that is exactly what the Minister is doing. Fourthly, the Minister has arrived at this balance in his Budget by, in the words of his colleague, the Minister for Health, purloining the petty cash.

Let me go over the details of those points. Perhaps I might take the last one first—transfers from the balances in the hands of the Revenue Commissioners. Of the amount of £323,000, £165,000 is a balance in excess of £2,000,000 left over when the 1956-57 financial year concluded, the year in which there was a deficit without any question. The sum of £158,000, the balance of the £323,000, represents an increase in that £165,000, an increased balance in the hands of the Revenue Commissioners, an increase the Revenue Commissioners obtained between 1st April, 1957, and 31st March, 1958.

Surely it is utterly dishonest for the Minister for Finance to come in here and to say that last year in his Budget he had a deficit of £5,800,000 and that he had unfortunately to borrow for that deficit when he could have reduced the deficit by £158,000 revenue that came to him during the year, which he did not use for the purpose of reducing the deficit, but held over to this year so that he would be able to utilise it for the current Budget.

I am not saying that the Minister did that deliberately in relation to the increase of £158,000. I do not think he deliberately gave instructions to the Revenue Commissioners that that excess was to be there. In fact, I think the reverse, but no matter what directions are given by the Revenue Commissioners, inevitably there are moneys that flow in after the decisions have been taken in relation to that balance and show up in this way. But when that balance was there now after a year in which there had been a deficit in particular of the size revealed by the outcome of the Minister's 1957 Budget, the proper way of using that balance would have been to retire some of the debt created by the Minister to meet his deficit of last year. It is quite dishonest to use it for the purpose of balancing this year's Budget.

I do not know whether there is any particular significance in another aspect of this. I have not got all the material yet on which I can express an opinion, but if one looks at the last available Iris Oifigiúil in respect of 29th April and examines in that the expenditure from the Exchequer this year and last year, one will find that the expenditure this year is £2.9 million and the expenditure last year was £4.763 million—a difference of just under £2,000,000 in the same period. It occurs to me that one possible explanation of that decrease in expenditure this year would be that the Minister had brought forward, so to speak, payments last year and paid things before 31st March so that they would not be coming in charge against him during this year. We have no way of telling whether he did so or not. If he did, I would suggest that just as his endeavour to balance his Budget on the transfer of moneys that were not brought to credit last year is a dishonest method of balancing his Budget, so the other would be equally so.

The third point to which I refer is the levies. In April, 1957, the Government made an Order, presumably at the instance of the Minister for Finance, by virtue of which certain levies were switched into permanent revenue duties—not protective duties for the purpose of protecting industries but revenue duties as such. I asked a question recently and I was told that the proceeds of these duties were £692,000 in the year up to 31st March last. It was not a full year and it is fair enough, therefore, to take about £750,000 as being the revenue from these duties in the current full year. Revenue duties, for example, duties on newsprint which I had given a most specific assurance would be a temporary levy became a permanent revenue duty as a result of the action taken by the Government in April, 1957, and brought in £750,000 in a full year. In April this year, the Minister did a further switch on other levies— transferring those levies from that temporary purpose into permanent revenue duties—permanent blisters on the backs of the people to the tune of no less than £600,000.

Finally, in this Budget he has transferred £1,750,000. He still calls them levies, but instead of using them for the purpose of financing capital expenditure, he switched them into current expenditure. He will now have to borrow in all £3,000,000 which those levies would have paid for—out of the levy procedure—but for the manner in which he has introduced them into the current Budget.

I referred also to the items that had been switched into capital account for the first time. There is the bovine tuberculosis grant of £884,000, the net amount. Let me say without any question that the more we can spend on ridding the country of bovine tuberculosis, the better, if it is achieving its purpose. The only test we should have in relation to that is the test of efficiency in the expenditure and that it is doing the job. If we do not succeed in that eradication scheme at an early date, we will find ourselves in a very serious difficulty in relation to the whole store cattle trade. When I say that is one of the methods by which the Minister for Finance has balanced his Budget by switching that into capital account, I want to be perfectly clear that, in so doing, I am not making any criticism of expenditure as expenditure.

I am aware that there was a grant counterpart receipt for that in earlier years. A former Minister for Finance, Deputy Aiken, when I brought that grant counterpart receipt in as an Appropriation-in-Aid or as an extra Exchequer receipt—I forget which— waxed most frightfully eloquent. He said it was the wrong way of dealing with the situation, that it should not have been included in that way at all. Yet now the Minister has switched that item. He also switched the item for industrial grants which I carried previously out of current account into capital account. He has switched industrial grants in that way to the extent of £200,000 and the allocation for Foras Tionscal to the extent of £450,000 from current to capital account.

I wonder what the Minister would have said in criticism of this Budget from this side of the House if I had introduced these three changes. Would he and all the Deputies of the Fianna Fáil Party not have got up and, with one universal wail, said that we were putting the country in pawn; that we were putting off the evil day; that we were putting these items on the never-never system; that we were raising the public debt instead of dealing with them out of current revenue as we should have dealt with them and as they were dealt with before? I know very well we would have had that wail raised from one end of the road to the other. Deputy Burke would not have been able to restrain himself from getting to his feet and Deputy Davern could not have refrained from making interruptions. They would have taken the view that that was dishonest public accounting.

Yet that is what their own Minister has done in this Budget. It is one of the ways in which he has in this Budget arrived in the end at a balance. Let me say also in relation to the levies that I have tried and found it utterly impossible to distinguish and determine what levies are still in existence and in what way they are still operated. Some of them have been amended and some of them have been switched into public revenue taxes and, as I have said, others are still in existence. I did receive an amended print from the Revenue Commissioners of these levies, but I am afraid that I found it difficult to follow.

I would suggest to the Minister that he should now, regardless of whether he was right or wrong, publish a new clean copy, so to speak, of the existing levies which are there, so that it may be possible for traders, Deputies and public men of all sorts to see exactly where they are. I do not know whether the Minister intends to do that or not. I might give him an opportunity of expressing his view on this between now and the Second Reading of the Finance Bill, because I assume we shall have to have a special section in the Finance Bill to repeal the section which I put in the Central Fund Act of 1956, under which moneys raised from levy had to be used for the purpose of decreasing the public debt by financing capital expenditure. Now the levies will be used for current purposes and, as I have said, that is the same as increasing the public debt. I should like also to see if there is still included the levy on rubber toys about which I remember Deputy Davern making an awful hullabaloo on this side of the House. To the best of my recollection, it is still there and, therefore, Deputy Davern cannot have very much influence with the Minister for Finance.

He is more reconciled to it now.

Perhaps if one thing has happened, that he has grown up a little in the interval, it will be a good thing for all of us. The Minister suggested also in his Budget statement that he had succeeded in making savings in relation to specific economies planned in his Budget of 1957. I must confess that is not quite accurate. He made more of a saving on the food subsidies than he intended, but all his other alleged saving were under-realised. The savings on Land Commission, on Defence and, I think, in relation to the Civil Service, failed to come up to his expectations or to his announced realisation.

The Civil Service position is better than we expected.

I have the figures here if the Minister will give me half a minute.

Table I.

I was going to refer the Minister to the reply he gave me in relation to my question here on 27th February last. He then showed in his reply that 823 additional civil servants had been recruited compared with 807 in the same period of the preceding year, and it seemed to me extremely difficult for the Minister to suggest that he had succeeded in cutting down the Civil Service administrative machine.

You have to get the number going out as well.

That is what I am coming to. You must get the number going out as well, and one of the numbers going out that has been taken by the Minister is 157 civil servants who have gone to Gaeltacht Industries.

Yes. I went to the trouble of going through the whole Volume of Estimates and counting the number of civil servants that are provided for this year. If the Minister takes the tot and excludes Garda, Army and Post Office, he will see that there is even an increase in the number of civil servants this years, if he cuts out the Gaeltacht Company. Taking in Post Office, there is a decrease, but the decrease is significant in the terms the Minister mentioned, because 157 of them have gone from the numbers in the Book of Estimates, from "civil servants", so to speak, to be State company officials and that payment is now, of course, made by the Minister not by paying personnel, but by a grant, and the Minister's own Table I to which he was kind enough to refer me shows that he failed to the extent of £50,000 in relation to civil servants.

No. It is £50,000 better than we expected.

I am very glad indeed to see that, but if that is so, then the Land Commission, Defence and general over-estimation was very much worse. I will confess quite frankly that I read the bracket figure as being the actual figure and the figure outside the bracket as being the Estimate. Apparently I read it the wrong way round. Well, even Homer can nod. I think there is a grant-in-aid of £120,000 for the new Gaeltacht company. Has credit been taken for that as part of the saving not for last year—it did not arise last year—but for the coming year, when the Minister thinks that the Civil Service machine will be costing less? I wanted to deal with a few matters of a general nature like that before coming down to discussing our economic position and the general outcome.

The figures produced by the Minister to us in these financial tables show in certain respects a most unsatisfactory trend. Incidentally, may I say that I welcome very much the innovation that was made last year by the Minister in putting the economic statistics into Table XII? It was a good innovation but I suggest that it would be a better innovation if it were added as an annex of a different sort to the Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure that come out on the Saturday before the Budget.

Last year, not knowing that the Minister was going to publish Table XII, I put down certain questions to him to elicit that information before Budget day. This year, having regard to the fact that they were included in the Tables, I did not put down the questions and made a mistake in so doing, as the Tables are not issued until the Minister has concluded his Budget speech. Those economic statistics are not in any way secret and I suggest that it would enable people who are anxious to give full consideration to what the Budget should be to have an opportunity of considering those figures beforehand. It is a point which perhaps did not occur to the Minister. I wish to give him full credit for the innovation.

It is very hard to get statistics up to a certain date.

There are many of these which could be produced beforehand. Without in any way gainsaying the most valuable work done by the Central Statistics Office, if one says one must have certain figures for a certain date one gets them and it does not matter that one may pitch the day three days before or not. This means that there will have to be a considerable number of questions to elicit that information, so that proper consideration can be given before Budget day, if they are not included in some way in one of the publications before that.

One of the things which arise in relation to the Budget this year is consideration of the position of the Capital Budget. I said to the Minister when I was speaking before that I thought it was a mistake that he had not continued with the innovation I announced, of having the Capital Budget at a different time to the current Budget. It is inevitable at present that attention should all be focussed on the current Budget, but it is desirable that attention should be focussed on the Capital Budget, particularly this year.

As I told the Minister last year his 1957 Budget was bound to inflate current costs, and was bound to give us an all-round higher cost economy, quite apart from the individual hardship we can see being done now. The manner in which the Minister has met the higher cost economy is to deflate violently on the capital side. Perhaps it was because the Minister was about to deflate so violently on the capital side that he wished to hide it and bury it so that it would not get the attention it deserved.

One of the items which will be part of the Capital Budget of this year is the fact that the Minister will have to repay, if he has not already had to repay, the loan made to the Exchequer by Aer Línte. I want to make just a passing reference to the Trans-Atlantic Air Service. I did not think—and we did not think on this side of the House —that it was a sound method of investing the already too small resources of our country. Once the Government had decided that they were implementing it—they are the Government and they are entitled to take decisions—and once they had taken that decision we felt on our part that, once it became an accomplished fact, it was a national undertaking and should be treated as such. For that reason, we did not take action we might have taken otherwise.

I want to decry in the strongest possible terms the manner in which the present Government, from the Taoiseach down, deliberately made the Trans-Atlantic Service inauguration into a political holiday for Fianna Fáil. I want to decry in the strongest possible terms the manner in which that opening was abused for political Party purposes. I think it was disgraceful that no people of public stature in the country outside the Government were asked to take part in those inauguration ceremonies.

Would that not be more relevent on the Estimate?

I am only dealing with it in a very passing way, Sir. It would have contributed far more to the general confidence we need for our financial structure if, for example, presidents of chambers of commerce were brought into the picture, if for example, the former Minister for Industry and Commerce were invited. Nobody will outdo me in my praise of the Civil Service and of the public service, but I think it was quite uncalled for that the inaugural flight should be made into the Civil Service holiday that it appears from the newspapers to have been. I feel that that must have been done by direction of the Government, as I cannot conceive it being done otherwise.

The chairman of the company concerned was appointed by me to be the chairman of the Capital Investment Committee and by that appointment I showed I had complete confidence in his political integrity. I am afraid that confidence has been very badly shaken, though he is a personal friend of mine and I am glad to acknowledge him as a personal friend. It has been very badly shaken by the manner in which he utilised the opening ceremony for political Party purposes. I hope the reaction there has been in the country to a national objective being used for that purpose will——

These charges should not be made against any individual.

I am not making any charge, Sir; I am saying that he delivered himself of a political speech. I hope the mistake made on this occasion, and it was a mistake, will prevent other similar mistake being made in the future.

One of the things I found great difficulty in understanding from the Minister for Finance was whether he felt we were in an inflationary or deflationary situation. I am sure the Minister has seen the speech made by his colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, and publicised in the External Affairs Bulletin on the 23rd March last, the speech made by Deputy Aiken in Cork. I do not know whether the Minister for Finance believes that the time has come when we must not save and must plan to spend. The whole tenor, the whole purport of the speech by the Minister for External Affairs—which was given State recognition by being published in the External Affairs Bulletin—was that, as there would be, he hoped, spending in America to avoid a slump there, a similar line would be desirable here.

I thought the Minister for Finance took the view that that was not what we ought to do, that we ought to conserve our resources as far as possible for productive capital expenditure and that spending, such as appeared to be advocated by the Minister for External Affairs, was not in accord with the policy of the Minister for Finance. May I say, as he has now come in, that I hope the Minister for Health will pay me at least the compliment of reading what I have to say about him, when the Dáil Debates are published?

If, at the end of the week, I am in sufficiently penitential mood, I shall.

I am glad to hear that there is a prospect of the Minister for Health being in penitential mood for his disgraceful behaviour on last Wednesday. I am glad to hear there is some chance even of a hardened old sinner like that getting into penitential mood for one of the worst outbursts ever produced here by any Minister.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.