Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 15 Mar 1960

Vol. 180 No. 4

Committee on Finance. - Central Fund Bill, 1960—All Stages.

Leave granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to apply certain sums out of the Central Fund to the service of the years ending on the thirty-first day of March one thousand nine hundred and sixty and one thousand nine hundred and sixty-one. — (Minister for Finance.)
Agreed to take remaining stages today.

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I understand that while I was out for a few moments the Minister stated, not for the first time, an untruth. He made reference to a Government decision of the 2nd November, 1956, quite correctly. He then went on to say that the Government of that day had taken a decision to abolish the food subsidies. I want to say categorically, and in the most unqualified way that I can possibly so state, that that is an untruth. It is a falsehood. The Minister gave as his reason for saying it that the difference between the previous year's Estimates and the Estimates for 1957-58 was a particular figure. The Minister must attribute to me great prescience to be able to judge on the 2nd November, 1958, what the Book of Estimates in February would reveal, because any of us with any experience of Government know that it is not possible so to state at that time, and indeed the Minister himself in the course of his remarks tonight in relation to the current Book of Estimates so admitted. I want, therefore, to repeat — I have said it before and I want to say it again now — that it does no credit to the Minister for Finance, to the person who holds that office, to repeat what is an unqualified falsehood.

The Minister also went on to make certain criticisms of figures I had quoted when speaking on the Vote on Account. Let me give the correct figures from the tables issued with the financial statement every year. The Minister stated that the figure of the Capital Budget for the last year for which I was responsible was £41.22 million; in fact if he looks at the table furnished at the time of the Financial Statement, 1957, he will find he was over-generous by £1 million, but that does not matter. He then went on to say that my criticism that he dropped the Capital Budget expenditure was unjust, unfair and untrue. If he looks at Table II of the Financial Statement tables issued in 1958, he will see that in his next year the figure had dropped from £40.21 million to £36.33 million. If he looks at the figures for the following year for the out-turn, again he will see that the figure is £37.78 million. Those are the actual out-turn figures of the two years for which the Minister has been responsible, and he himself has quoted the figure for my last year. I trust, therefore, he will realise that when we on this side of the House are speaking in relation to facts and statistics we are speaking in relation to the facts and statistics as published officially and not fairy fancies the Minister may wish to think up.

With regard to industrial employment, the Minister stated there had been an increase in employment in the December quarter of 1959. I interjected the figure. I had not got the exact figure in front of me at that time. I interjected that December, 1959, showed an increase over December, 1958, of 4,000. The correct figure is less than that. I was over-generous to him. The correct figure is 3,720 an increase from 142,435 to 146,155. The Taoiseach acknowledged the other day that in relation to agriculture, forestry and fisheries there had been a decrease in 1959 over the previous year of 9,000. Therefore, if one takes one figure from the other, it is perfectly apparent to everyone that there has been a decrease of 5,000 and that the figures I quoted before were the correct figures and the Minister's figures are not correct.

The Minister attempted further to confuse the issue by quoting in relation to these categories, not the figures for 1959 against 1958 but the figures for 1959 against 1956. If the Minister looks at the correct figures in that regard on page 37 of the Irish Statistical Survey, he will see that taking 1956 against 1958, the last year included, the figure indicates 32,000 fewer at work. When you add 32,000 people fewer at work to the 5,000 of which I have spoken a minute ago, it is clear that, on the official statistics, 1959 shows a decrease of 37,000 in those at work compared to the year 1956 which the Minister was attempting to confuse.

In relation to housing, the Minister did paint or started to paint a much truer picture than his colleague the Minister for Local Government or his colleague the Minister for Agriculture, formerly the Minister for Local Government. The Minister himself stated to-night that it was obvious that except for Dublin — I think he also mentioned Cork; I could not quite hear him, but he certainly mentioned Dublin — local authority housing was ending and that, therefore, less would be paid out for 1957-58 than was paid out for 1956-57. That is correct; that is the true picture from the Minister for Finance in respect of that item, except for Dublin and Cork. It shows clearly and categorically that the statements made by Deputy Smith, now Minister for Agriculture, when he was Minister for Local Government, and the statements made by the present Minister for Local Government, Deputy Blaney, in relation to the position in 1957-58, when they took office, are now proved by their colleague, the Minister for Finance, unqualified falsehoods.

Let me add one thing further. The Minister excepted Dublin and I believe Cork, but I shall pin him only to Dublin because I found it hard to hear him. The Minister excepts the position in Dublin. He said it was agreed that in Dublin there still was a very substantial problem to be met and that the tapering-off of local authority housing to which he referred did not include Dublin. The facts are that the tapering-off in local authority housing did include Dublin and the facts are that the capital expenditure of Dublin Corporation in the main upon housing — virtually and entirely upon housing — in 1955-56 and 1956-57 was at the £4 million mark, £100,000 or so over £4 million, in each year, but in 1957-58, the year for which the Minister was responsible, it was £2,200,000 and in 1958-59, £1,850,000. Those are the correct figures from the Minister's own statistics, given to me by way of answers to questions in this House, and they prove categorically in that respect in relation to Dublin that I was right, and that we on this side of the House were right and that the Minister was wrong.

I am not in a position to deal with many of the figures mentioned by Deputy Sweetman but there will be another opportunity to look at them and see what they are. Take this matter, for instance, of the capital sum provided in the Estimates for 1957-58. It was something around £40 million or £41 million. That was the Estimate——

The figures which I gave were the out-turns, not the Estimate.

I know that. I explained when speaking that it is very difficult to have the whole amount of capital spent exactly as it was put into the Estimates. There are odds and ends which may come up to a few million pounds and you will find sometimes there is a million less than the Estimates have allowed for. This year the out-turn is going to be at least £43 million. There is no doubt about that. In this year, 1959-1960, the year we are in now, we shall have the highest capital expenditure we ever had.

As regards employment, again I have not the figures corresponding exactly to the times mentioned by the Deputy but I gave certain figures towards the end of my speech. There was the figure for insured people in employment in October, 1959, which was 17,500 more than in October, 1958. That has to be looked at, however, as containing an element that was not there in the former year — the people brought into the insured classes who were earning between £600 and £800. The Statistics Office say that their estimate for that is 6,000; therefore there was a general increase in employment from October, 1958, to October, 1959, of 11,500. I thought Deputies opposite would be delighted to hear that but they are not. They should be delighted. Any opposition Party should be delighted to hear that there were more people employed but they do not like the idea and I shall have to leave it there.

Question put and agreed to.
Bill put through Committee, reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.

This Bill is certified a Money Bill in accordance with Article 22 of the Constitution.

The Dáil adjourned at 10.16 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 16th, 1960.