I hope the Deputy will. I should not like to see him dead or bankrupt or in any way deterred from his regular business. I should like the Deputy to be here next September and to hear him ask the Minister for Agriculture why he does not fix a price so that farmers will know where they are because next September An Bord Gráin will be functioning and the Minister can fix any price he likes in the certainty that, whatever price the Minister names, An Bord Gráin will be called into operation the following July and they will be authorised to fix any reduction that they can persuade the Minister to accept and they will be given the pleasant assignment of disposing, not of the surplus as ascertained by them, but of such quantity of Irish wheat as the Minister for Agriculture, in consultation with the Minister for Industry and Commerce, may declare to be surplus.
This year, the biscuit manufacturers have very kindly consented to accept their requirements at the price payable for pollard and that will be met out of the levy. We do not know what the bakers will be prepared to accept but the Minister for Industry and Commerce will know and the Minister for Agriculture cannot decide the amount of the surplus without his consent. So, when the millers and the bakers and the biscuit manufacturers have all had their whack out of this business it will then be the duty of An Bord Gráin to arrive upon the scene. Where will they get the money to meet the requirements of the millers and the bakers and the biscuit manufacturers? They will get it by measuring the levy to be made on the price of wheat.
Lest that might come as too great a shock to Deputy Corry's supporters in East Cork and to Deputy Moher's supporters in East Cork and lest Deputy Medlar's supporters in County Kilkenny should get neurasthenia at the news, this year the Minister for Finance tells us that the levy is to be 6/- a barrel and the Act kindly provides that, if that should prove insufficient, the Treasury will lend An Bord Gráin sufficient to carry the baby for 12 months, on the understanding that at the end of that period they will raise by levy again sufficient to pay off the overdraft so kindly provided plus whatever charge will come in course of payment in respect of the coming crop. Goodness knows, it is hard to believe that fraud and hypocrisy of that kind can so far deceive our people.
I look back with satisfaction on the fact that when circumstances made it inescapable that the guaranteed price on the domestic market should be adjusted, the Government of which I was a member came into Dáil Éireann and adjusted it, told the farmers what the price of wheat would be, stood over it and saw it paid and that in the following year, when world transport prices resulted in a rise in the international price of wheat, the Government of which I was a member, accepted my advice that the same relationship should be maintained between the world price and the home price and that, inasmuch as world prices had gone up by 5/- a barrel because of freight rates, the home price should be adjusted, and it was. We accepted the entire wheat crop, and we rejected, the proposition that a large percentage was unfit for conversion into flour. All of it was accepted and dried, except that which was manifestly sprouting and unfit for use.
Those who wanted to jettison wheat as animal food were told they would not be allowed to do so. They were told it was their duty, as a milling monopoly, to filter that wheat into the grist in the following year and to let it be used in the ordinary course of commerce. What I rejoice in particularly is that we endorsed no fraud. We told the truth and we faced the mendacious and lying propaganda of the then political Opposition which, I do not deny, was attended with a very high measure of success in Kilkenny, in Laois-Offaly, and in the grain growing areas of this country. I think that Deputies who were responsible for that fraud should ask themselves to-day what brought about that success.
Do they really believe that, had they told the farmers of Laois-Offaly, Kilkenny, and these areas, that their plan was not to do as the inter-Party Government was doing—tell them the facts, guarantee them in September the price which would be paid in the following September—but that their policy was to set up An Bord Gráin, which would be specifically prohibited from telling the farmers what the price was in the September before the seed was to be set, which was charged by statutory responsibility not to tell the farmers what the price was until their crops were growing, they would have been received in Kilkenny and Laois-Offaly as they were received? If, in retrospect, they are obliged to admit to themselves that their reception would have been far different, is it not time they began to ask this question: how often can this pitcher be brought to the well?
If that kind of confidence trick is successfully played upon our people, with the support of a Party newspaper and all the propaganda machinery of one of the greatest Parties in this country, I admit that the consequent disaster is not going to fall upon that Party alone. The tragedy of the situation is that the ordinary people will begin to associate us all in Dáil Éireann with these despicable standards, and that means they will grow to hate Parliament, and those who are guilty of treason, of suggesting that in this free society our parliamentary institutions are founded on fraud and deception and lies will be listened to, and those of us who seek to repudiate those allegations will find our task made more difficult——