Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 2 Feb 1966

Vol. 220 No. 5

Economic Situation.

Debate resumed on the following motion:
That Dáil Éireann agrees generally with the views and recommendations contained in the Report of the National Industrial Economic Council on the Economic Situation, 1965, which was laid before Dáil Éireann on the 24th November, 1965.
—(Minister for Finance.)

In addition to this motion, the House is also discussing the following motion in the names of Deputies Sweetman, T.F. O'Higgins and Donegan:—

That in view of the support given by both the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Federation of Irish Industries to an Incomes Policy, the Dáil calls on the Government to take steps to initiate an Incomes Policy designed to secure a continual and orderly growth in the economy.

(Dublin): When the Dáil adjourned on Thursday evening last, I was speaking about the present condition of our labour relations. I mentioned that we must set about creating a peaceful environment between management and labour. It is useless for us to formulate any policy or to sign any agreement unless first we establish proper labour relations. The unpleasant conditions that have prevailed in the past 12 months and which are continuing into 1966 are seriously damaging our economy. We must be careful lest we should project a wrong image of ourselves abroad because if foreign importers of our goods take the view that we cannot be relied upon, it could place our future economy in a very dangerous position. How best to rectify this unhappy situation is quite a problem.

I believe that the Labour Court could play a bigger part in labour-management relations—not but that, at present, it is doing an excellent job. Many disputes have been brought to a successful conclusion by the Labour Court but my conception of that Court would be that it should operate on a broader scale. If we could enlarge its scope and make it more accessible, it would be a good thing for the nation. At the moment, the Labour Court is accessible only when all other means of negotiation have broken down. If there were a larger personnel in the Labour Court so that small disputes could be rectified before they reach the last stage, it might solve a lot of problems because advice could be sought at an early stage from the Labour Court. It is desirable that we should avoid friction between labour and employer and early contact with the Labour Court might bring about very satisfactory results.

The NIEC recommend the introduc tion of an incomes policy. This is very desirable. I can see many difficulties from time to time in regard to the apportionment of wealth in various professions, in the services, and so on. There are basic principles and equities which have always existed and which must be maintained in the future. We must always recognise a man of initiative, drive and integrity. We must never try to equate him with the unambitious and the lazy. We must reward him for his efforts. If we should in any way hinder the man who is ambitious, then private enterprise will stagnate.

There has been much criticism of the Government in this and in other debates on the economic situation. Personally, I cannot see any justification for that criticism. Undoubtedly we have difficulties but that is true in every walk of life and in every country. We have a balance of payments difficulty but we are not the only country to run up against that problem. We should try to solve it in a businesslike manner.

Our present and past economy reminds me of an autobahn. We have been moving along quite smoothly for the past eight or nine years. Every section of our economy has been expanding. Our industrialists have set new records. Our agricultural sector also has expanded to a considerable extent. We have now reached a danger point. The danger signals have been set and we are told to take heed. Who set the danger signals? The Government have done so for guidance. They have pointed out the steps we must take if we are to come through this passage smoothly. They themselves have taken certain actions to ensure the safety of our economy.

Last July, the Taoiseach took certain measures to help us along the way. At that time, there was restriction of capital expenditure. There has also been restriction of credit by the banks to projects of a productive nature. Those of us who are engaged in business realise that credit is given today only where it will produce results valuable to the economy. Then there was encouragement for saving. Import levies were imposed to restrict the importation of certain goods. Price control was introduced. All these steps were taken because the Government considered them necessary for the wellbeing of our economy.

With co-operation and team spirit, we will get through this difficult situation. There is no good in moaning and grumbling. I heard during the course of this debate such words as "broke", "bust" and so on from Deputies of various Parties. That is a defeatist attitude. A businessman who encounters difficulties must renew his determination. Moaning as to the decline of his business will not improve his situation. There is a much better chance of surviving difficulties if one develops determination and confidence. I deplore the pessimism that some Deputies have been spreading amongst the public.

If the Government were to ignore the facts of the present situation, that would lead only to economic disaster and unemployment. I hope that in the interests of the nation, and of employers and employees, we will all make the necessary temporary sacrifices and follow the example set by the Government in cutting down public expenditure.

I was speaking to a man the other day about the matter now under discussion in the House. He said to me: "How simple life would be if people consisted of a mass of computerised digits such as are envisaged by economists. How simple it would be to arrange things to the liking of economists and at the same time how utterly and intolerably horrible it would be". He was having these thoughts in relation to the dock strike, amongst other things. He said: "It seems to me that people are just as human as politicians are and just as liable to make mistakes and to do selfish things and to want to live as well as the next man".

I have heard a great deal in the last week about wages and the duty of trade unions. It would appear from the pictures painted by the Taoiseach and by some of his aides that the organised trade union movement is engaged in a Marxist conspiracy to destroy society. One would be led along that line of thought, if one were foolish enough to fall for the propaganda which has been poured out, from Government benches principally, since this debate on the NIEC Report was initiated.

The Taoiseach and those who surround him have tried to create the impression that the workers are the cause of our present economic disquiet. The Taoiseach did not advert to the circumstances of life, which are, that we live in a rapacious world, in a world in which the workers do not set the pace of grab-all which is the order of our society.

It is very easy to give "holier than thou" lectures here about what workers outside this House should do. I can give Deputy Fitzpatrick one example of a man whom I met last Sunday, who is earning £11 a week, who is living in Deputy Fitzpatrick's constituency. That man has five children, none of whom is working. He is paying 27/6 a week rent to the corporation, which leaves him something over £9 with which to clothe, feed, and otherwise provide for, himself, his wife and his five children.

It must be infuriating to such a man to be told that the most he can look for by way of an increase in wages in the time that lies ahead is three per cent, which would amount to 6/7, less, of course, the cost of the stamp. What use would it be to him if I were to say to him next Sunday, after having interceded with the corporation in order to try to prevent his being thrown out on the street because of the fact that he is in arrears with his rent, that he should read the NIEC Report, wherein he will see why he should contain himself? What would he say to me? I suspect that he might use language such as was described in the House a short time ago as language used by the British Army of Occupation here which, of course, was totally unknown to our own heroes. He might very well use such language to me or to anybody else who would offer that kind of solution to him, and I would not blame him.

When we talk about wages, production, and so on, let us talk about the facts of life. Let us remember that people are human, that no matter how the computer may arrange them or how the economist may deploy columns of figures, people are flesh and blood. A man may have to strain himself in a job, perhaps work overtime, in order to get barely enough to keep him out of the courts. Mark you, a hard job it is to keep out of the district court for debt, a very difficult operation for the man who is straining himself to achieve that, very often denying himself the ordinary, simple pleasures of life in order to keep his home intact and himself and his family off the side of the road, when he is adjured to restrain his normal inclination to look for more and when he looks around him and sees the inexorable rule of capitalist life— the less work you do the more money you get for it and the harder you work the less you get for it. The people who engage in what appears to be the most frivolous, unnecessary, unproductive and parasitic activities in the country live in luxury, and you never find them a hundred miles from a lounge bar, and many of them carry on all their business activities in these places. I know; I used to be in public bars and I saw them. And yet these working people are lectured to by, amongst others, junior and senior chambers of commerce, consisting in the main of middle-class, lately sprung up young business men, with their institutes for this, that and the other, conferring degrees upon one another for being able to tie parcels. You can get a degree now for tying parcels. These have the impertinence, and it is nothing less, to lecture, with all the pomposity of which they are capable, the working people of this country as to production, as to what is demanded of them in the present situation.

(Dublin): Is Deputy Norton one of those?

I cannot qualify on that basis—I am sorry.

I do not know anything about that aspect of Deputy Norton's life but, if Deputy Fitzpatrick wishes me to pursue this discussion on a more personal basis, then we can do so, but perhaps he will not like it.

The fundamental labour position remains where it has been, where it has stood down through the years. We want a fair distribution of the existing wealth of the country. We are far from having achieved that in spite of the historic struggles of the trade union movement and the continued efforts of the Labour Party inside and outside Dáil Éireann. Our activities have been a process of inching towards the economic exaltation of the community and the redistribution of wealth amongst those without whose efforts and whose toil not alone would there not be greater production but there would be no wealth to distribute at all. This is the fundamental difference between the Labour Party and other Parties in this House.

The discussion which has gone on here has been concentrated in the main in critical fashion upon the trade union movement, upon wages, upon the need to contain wages and upon what is to be done with whatever wealth is earned in the future. The Labour Party say that, before we talk about that, we want a just distribution of the wealth that is there now, before there is any three per cent. It was of course natural, I suppose, that the major Parties should more or less go along the same lines in this matter. As time goes on, it seems to be inevitable that they will draw closer together. From the point of view of philosophy, little or nothing separates them in the political sense. All that ever separated the major Parties in the past were the personal differences which arose from the unhappy conflict of 40 years ago. As time goes on, and the sharpnesses of that period disappear, it must inevitably ensue that the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Parties, or elements thereof, will come together in a natural alignment of forces in which those who represent privilege and vested interests, as quite obviously Deputy Fitzpatrick (Dublin) is proud to do, and as quite obviously Deputy Fitzpatrick insists upon maintaining— he said that the things we have known for so long cannot and should not be changed—will be grouped together in one Party and the other side of the House will be representative of those who work, whether by hand or by brain, and of those who are interested in creating a society which will come somewhat nearer to what was talked about by those who preached the elements of Christianity in deed.

I do not like to appear presumptuous, and perhaps I should not refer to it, but I feel such a society will be nearer to the desire of the Creator Himself because there will be more justice. There is none now. Social justice is not to be found outside expressions of opinion. Social justice in practice, especially for those in most need of it, is just not there. That is the kind of society we have; you get out of it what you can take from it, because of the manner in which it is governed, and the extent of your welfare depends upon the extent of your organisation and what you can compel others to pay you for your goods or for your labour. That is wrong. It is materialistic. It is unfortunate, but it is the truth.

The Government put down a motion concerning this NIEC Report and the principal matter discussed in this Report is the question of an incomes policy. I have listened to most of the debate and I have yet to hear the Taoiseach or any Minister of the Government referring to this question of what will be done about an incomes policy. This debate has been used by the Taoiseach and Government spokesmen simply to attack the trade unions. There has been no reference at all to the considerations and arguments set out in this document by the Council as to the need for an incomes policy. Paragraph 13 in page 7, reads:

An incomes policy that does not embrace all categories of money incomes, namely, wages and salaries, farmers' incomes, professional earnings, rents, profits and realised capital gains, is repudiated as inadequate and inequitable.

That, which is the nub of this whole Report, was not referred to by any Government speaker. I do not know if it was referred to by Deputy Cosgrave—I did not have the opportunity of listening to him—but it is quite obvious to me that the Government have sidestepped the full import of what has been said in these pages.

An incomes policy must apply to all sections of the community. I have not heard anybody here suggest how farmers' incomes should be fixed or at what level they should be fixed; nor have I heard it suggested, so far as reimbursement of the farmers is concerned, what percentage should apply to them. The Government are very tender on the matter of farmers. Some time ago a commission was set up to examine the structure and incidence of income tax. That commission recommended that farmers should pay income tax the same as the fellow about whom I was talking, whom I met last Sunday and will meet next Sunday, is required to pay income tax if he works sufficient hours' overtime to earn it, the same as a labourer or a clerk or a bus conductor or driver or anybody else living in a city or town whose earnings are traceable is required to pay income tax.

It was suggested by this commission some years ago that farmers should be required to pay income tax. The evening before the commission's report was released to the press, the then Minister for Finance, the predecessor of the present Minister, at a dinner—which is the usual place for Fianna Fáil to unveil their policy—hastened to assure the farmers that there would be no such thing—even before the report was out at all, so the public knew this was in the report of the Commission on Taxation. The then Minister for Finance assured the farmers that such a thing would not happen to them: income tax was all right for workers and people like that but not for farmers, the reason being the political fact that if Fianna Fáil antagonised sufficient farmers, their position in Dáil Éireann was liable to change from there to here very quickly. Of course, the question of justice does not come into it at all. That is a superfluity where the Fianna Fáil Party are concerned.

The policy of any Government interested in fair play for all should be to try to ensure that all section of the population are treated equally. Recently on television in connection with the celebration of 1916, when a number of people were asked what did they think of the progress which had been made towards the ideals of the men of 1916, somebody said very truly that the Proclamation called for the cherishing of all the children of the nation equally. "Children" in that context does not merely mean juveniles; it means all the people of the nation. It does not seem to me that the Government are cherishing all the people of the nation equally. In fact there are favoured sections and amongst them I have no hesitation in including the farmers.

Deputy Corry cried salt tears for the farmers here the other night. We are not unused to that. If some method could be found of collecting all Deputy Corry's tears, there would be enough table salt for many years to come at any substantial dinner table. He is very sorry for the farmers and the farm labourers, the men who get only £8 a week. Deputy Corry puts the responsibility on the Government for the fact that farmers are not getting more for this, that and the other. He never suggests that, as farmers are the employers of farm labourers, they might pay their farm labourers more. He tells us the farmer is poverty-stricken and in a desperate economic plight. At the same time, he tells us the other evening of the great success attendant upon his efforts in his constituency for his neighbours or the people within his area whom he encouraged to grow peas which produced £60 an acre net profit after payment of wages. Very often these farm labourers to whom I referred are the farmers' sons and very often they do not get even the minimum laid down by law. However, that is a family matter and something for themselves to look after.

In the course of this debate, the Government have taken up a very firm position, the position of the employers. They have adopted completely the role of defending the employers against the unions. There are members of this House who could reasonably be expected to voice the arguments in favour of the employers in the present economic situation. One does not have to mention names but they are there. It was not given to them to speak on behalf of the people in whom they could be deemed to have a special interest. The Government themselves have assumed the prerogative; they have spoken for the employers against the unions, and called for a display of responsibility. This is one of those platitudes which the Taoiseach likes to trot out, and other people, too, including the pompous little junior chambers of commerce throughout the country, beardless youths pretending to know all there is to know, pontificating upon the obligations of workers, about the need to be responsible.

The first responsibility of the worker is to provide for his wife and family and it is something which every effort of the Government is directed towards undermining, perhaps unconsciously. Surely after so many years of the exercise of our freedom in the Twenty-Six Counties, it has to be accepted that the trade union movement is a very important part of the social set-up and that the leaders of the trade union movement do not go lightly about their business. They are not people who can be easily induced to take steps which may have a detrimental effect upon the economic fabric. Any reasonable person would accept that that is so.

While mentioning that, I want to make a passing reference to a misconception which exists in the minds of those who do not know what they are talking about, a misconception about trade union leadership. You find this misconception and ignorance lurking very often under the anonymity of editorials and you find trade union leaders as a class being criticised. In some cases they are belittled for their lack of ability to lead. I can speak about this because I am not concerned with trade unions at present but I know a little about them and I know a good deal about the people who have the responsibility of leading trade unions. A trade union leader in any union has one of the hardest jobs given to man and one of the most thankless jobs. He will not be an effective trade union leader unless he is an idealist and believes he can improve the conditions of his members by doing his job well. He will not be anything like adequately paid because nothing would pay him for what he will have to endure. We find that he is very often in the position of having to listen to free advice and sometimes to abuse from people who do not now the first thing about what is required in the matter of the organisation of workers or the leadership of unions.

I have seen, in moments of grave industrial crisis, attacks being made from the anonymity and shelter of editorial columns upon men trying to do the best job they could. I have seen trade union leaders being derided for what was claimed as the loss of control over their members. What is the position of a trade union leader? He is working for his members and they are his first responsibility. They are the people who pay him and they expect him to discharge his duties as well as he can. I have seen criticisms of trade union officials to the effect that they lead from behind. Any person who makes that observation in regard to leadership in any sphere of human activity is a fool because all good leadership has quite a considerable amount of the ingredient of leadership from behind in it, whether it is political leadership or trade union leadership. The alternative to a certain amount of that kind of leadership is to get so far ahead of the crowd that you lose touch completely and they let you go on your own and you find that you are very lonesome.

Something needs to be said in defence of trade union leaders because they have been accused of all kinds of things. The most reprehensible is criticism from outside the House, sometimes it is inside, by people who know nothing at all about what the job consists of or what the problems are. The criticism is expressed by people who would not last five minutes in front of any reasonably-sized meeting of workers in any industry because in the first instance they would not know the language. This talk about the threat there will be to the economy if workers seek more than three per cent this year is guesswork because, mark you, a lot of the material in this very excellent Report is guesswork, perhaps inspired guesswork, and the three per cent is at best an inspired guess. The discussion has centred around the awfulness of the possibilities that may follow from exceeding this three per cent. This kind of build-up such as we have seen since this matter has been discussed runs along classic lines in a way.

The other night I was reading about the techniques of politics and it is not dissimilar in most countries which have a system such as ours which could be said to be relatively democratic and where the Government are elected by the votes of the people. When a Government are in danger, it is essential to find a menace. This Government have come through a period of increased prices when, I would say, it is fair to judge that their popularity is not at its apogee. I would say that if there were to be a decision by the electorate at present—I am not seeking it and please do not let anybody think that I am just now—if there were to be such a contest, it would be a fairly good bet that this Government would not be returned with their present support in Dáil Éireann. Whether that would mean that there would be an alternative or not I could not foretell, but it is a fairly good bet that the Government would lose sufficient to reduce their position in the House.

Of course, the Taoiseach being, we all acknowledge, an excellent politician, a professional of many years standing, one of the originals, and the person whom it is impossible at times not to admire because of his ambience, summoned into existence a menace in the 1930s, the menace being that the importation of British goods would destroy our native manufacturing industry, then about to burgeon. Then came the war and there was the menace to our neutrality, the menace of invasion. After the war we had a Deputy, still happily a Deputy, but one whose activity has become less obvious on those benches, who when he was a Minister was an expert at resuscitating another kind of menace known as the Red Menace. Deputy MacEntee could always be relied upon, on the immediate sound of the approach of a general election, to exhume as many Reds as were necessary. He used to have his agents go through the files of yellowing newspapers to discover what might well have been the indiscretions of another century in so far as many of his political opponents were concerned.

I would suggest that an interesting period for historians of the future would be the newspaper files leading up to the by-elections of 1947 which was the first time of the departure, temporarily unfortunately, of the Fianna Fáil Party from office. The tracing by Deputy MacEntee of the lives and connections of members of the Clann na Poblachta Party and, indeed, of members of other Parties at that time is vitally interesting. You would never think that these were the same people.

I am afraid the Deputy is getting away from the subject before the House.

That may be, but it bears on the point I am making that there is a great deal of talk of the imminence of economic disaster: we are not broke—that is stupid talk— but we are heading for economic disaster if the workers look for more. This is the menace I am talking about. The practice is that when in doubt, one should look for a menace and the menace today is the trade unions looking for more money. There are 100,000 workers in this country getting less than £10 a week. I do not know how many of them are getting married but a fair proportion would be so that you might say that from 200,000 to 300,000 people are living at that level.

Is it seriously suggested by the Minister that such people will be content or can be expected to be content with an increase of 6/5d or 6/7d a week when they know very well that prices have been allowed to skyrocket, particularly in the period before the Government invoked the provisions of the Prices Act, not that the making of the regulations under that Act has caused any great stir in the country? There was one example which was brought before the Minister's Department as a case of profiteering. It seemed to me to be a gross case of profiteering but the reduction effected was so minimal that it might as well have been left alone.

However, the menace is the thing. We are asked to consider the menace of economic disaster. As one political writer said in regard to a situation of this kind in another country and the plight of a Government faced with a difficult situation because of its own inadequacy:

First there needs must be a menace. Then there must be such a tremendous menace that the nation is convinced that it stands at the brink of disaster, shuddering and trembling.

That statement might very well be applied to statements made by members of the Government as a yardstick of their truth.

I am not suggesting that we do not need greater production in this country but I am suggesting that there is enough wealth here at the moment if social justice is to prevail, enough wealth to improve very considerably the condition of the most needy sections of our people. These are, in order of priority, the old people depending on old age pensions, the unemployed and the sick, and the workers, farm labourers, roadworkers or workers throughout our towns and cities earning less than £10 a week. There is a need for something to be done for these people. Do the Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance and the Government seriously consider that this country is so poor that we propose to permit the wages of such people to be increased by a miserable 6/- or 7/-a week with prices what they are today?

We turn now to the subject to which this Report devotes considerable thought and space, the question of an incomes policy, to which no Government speaker made any effort to advert. The motion before the House asks us to confirm our acceptance of the NIEC Report and generally the principles contained therein. We agree with that. We agree with the idea that there should be an incomes policy but I want to ask the Minister how it is proposed to determine the incomes of farmers. Is it thought that if you ask them they will tell you? That is hardly likely.

There was a rush on the banks to take out deposits when it was announced a year or two ago that certain investigations would be carried out in relation to deposits which might be drawing £15 a year or more in interest. How are we to find out what are the farmers' incomes? How are these incomes to be determined? Deputy Corry will tell you that the farmers are in a desperately bad way. I feel they are not in such a bad way at all. By and large, the land-owning farmers in this country are far and away better off than the workers in manufacturing industry, the average workers, and not the exceptions who may earn reasonably big money.

How are the incomes of the professional men such as lawyers to be determined? In what parts of the world has an incomes policy succeeded? I do not know any. Talking about an incomes policy is very much like talking about an immediately unattainable ideal. Talking about it here in the House, as Government speakers have done, shows an apparent desire on the part of the Government to bring about social justice so that everybody will get a fair deal. But really, as it is based, it is an effort to pin the responsibility for the Government's own laxity and faults upon the trade union movement.

There is no doubt we have had inflation here and it is continuing. Who is responsible for that in truth? Who is responsible for encouraging wage demands which meant nothing because they were nullified by prices? Can anybody deny that that was an obvious political ploy used on the eve of two by-elections the year before last? It worked. It won two by-elections which might have been lost. But it did a tremendous lot of harm. The Taoiseach said at the time that the economy was all right and the workers should go ahead for more. If the Taoiseach had taken steps then to control prices, things would not be as they are now and workers' wages would be buying effectively far more than they are able to buy now.

The Taoiseach sought by a little bit of economic jugglery to let things balance out. What happened? Whatever increase was secured by the workers then was completely negatived by the development of the prices spiral as time went on. In the end, the workers are worse off than they were at the beginning. The Government are responsible for that situation. They are trying to shuffle it off by continuing to refer to the need to maintain wages within the three per cent indicated by the Minister for Finance.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce spoke about the impossibility of regulating wages by legislation. That is unquestionably a fact. Neither in this nor in any other country can you, I think, impose wage rates by legislation or by compulsion upon the workers. We saw what happened here four or five years ago when the Taoiseach in a moment of aberration, sought to compel the ESB workers on strike to return to work by the introduction of a Bill which contained penal clauses making refusal to work in certain circumstances punishable by imprisonment. It had a very short life. I do not know if it went through the Dáil. Certainly, it revolted the workers of Dublin and they responded in a characteristic way. The ESB workers, who might not normally have got public sympathy, not alone got massive public sympathy, but huge financial support voluntarily given by the people of this city. That is the kind of people we are. We are not for compulsion.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce was right in what he said about this. He was referring to his own difficulties. I know he is surrounded by them. This very specialist field of industrial relations requires a lot of experience and a cool head. His job is not by any means an enviable one. He stated the facts. Certainly in this country you cannot force people to work if they do not want to work, and that is apart altogether from the fact that it is an abrogation of human liberty. A man has a right to work if he wishes and not to work if he does not wish to.

The Taoiseach was not so timorous. In the course of his remarks, he conveyed to me at any rate that, if he was not satisfied with the progress of the present economic situation, he was toying in his mind—he did not state it explicitly but it emerged clearly from what he said—with the idea either of compulsion or of compulsion by taxation. If he could not secure the fastening down of wages by exhortation, he would turn either to the introduction of legislation to secure that end or, if the workers insisted upon increased wages and succeeded in getting them, he would secure the nullification of such increases to some extent by taxation. This is what I took from his speech. We will see what falls out as time goes on. I would hesitate to think he has not learned a lesson about compulsion. He surely must have done so. It was a wonder to me that a man with his background in this city, knowing the people of Dublin, ever tried that caper at all. But we know the result there.

It is not unlikely that taxation will be brought to bear very heavily on the working people in the near future. We have already had intimations of taxation from the Minister for Finance. He has made it clear we may expect additional taxation in the Budget of this year. Taxation is inevitably inflationary in effect. When people are taxed, they seek compensation in increased salaries and wages. What greater act of an inflationary nature was there than the turnover tax when everything needed by every family in the country was taxed? This was the greatest single incitement. It was an absolute detonator of inflation and much of our economic problems at present stem from it. How do we know but that this year the turnover tax may be doubled? If it is, we will be all in right trouble because it will worsen the present position very much.

Recently, we were talking about a subject very much the same as this. The same matters arose in relation to the Anglo-Irish Trade Agreement. I made inquiry as to what had happened to the legendary First and Second Programmes for Economic Expansion. I wonder how many have read this Report from cover to cover. It is a painful operation. I am not given to reading such prose myself but I read this. I think there are possibly two mentions of the so-called Programme for Economic Expansion but there is definite mention of the fact that, between 1960 and 1965, employment in industry fell each year I think by seven per cent—and this was at the period of the introduction and operation of these wonderful revelations, the First and Second Programmes. I suggested some time ago that not all the booklets in the world, containing all the figures in the world, would secure an increase of .001 per cent in the gross national product if the language used in them was of such a kind as to be completely and absolutely unintelligible not only to workers but even to the average man. Even with this Report, which is written by admirable people on both sides, there should be a glossary, at the very least, to tell the ordinary average person such as myself what some of the phrases mean. I challenge any person in this House to tell me what “gross domestic capital formation”, for instance, means. Very few persons would be able to do so: possibly if Deputy P. J. Burke were here, he might be able to do so, but I do not want to be unkind to him.

The First and Second Programmes were a lot of wishful thinking, a pious expression of opinion. They were really amalgams of cliché, platitude, tautology, guess-work, a few facts and an awful lot of bad English. As seen now, they have no relevance at all to the economic facts of life as we know them and they have hardly been mentioned in these discussion. Therefore, let us have less talk about the so-called plans for economic expansion.

I remember a time when, if one mentioned plans at all, if one mentioned a planned economy of any kind, Deputy MacEntee would be after one with a red hot poker. You would be pinned down as an agent from Moscow and you would have very little chance of ever again achieving membership of this House by the time he would be finished with your character. The world has gone plan-wise now, particularly Western Europe. We have young men who want to be up there and with-it and we decided to produce these plans but they have no meaning whatever in so far as the economic facts of life in this country are concerned. I defy anybody to prove that the First or Second Programme for Economic Expansion has contributed in any real way to the improvement of the economic position of the country—in any real way. Can anybody give me one example?

There is an awful lot of pious talk about what should be done, about what might be done, about what the gross national product should be, about what everybody should strive for. Can anybody give me one example, in that five-year period, of what those propaganda pamphlets have achieved for the country? What they have done is to provide Fianna Fáil speakers on various occasions, particularly dinners, with something sounding important on which to hang their thoughts.

On Sunday last, 30th January, 1966, I happened to read a piece in the Sunday Times concerning an economist. I think perhaps all of these materialistic young men in a hurry, and not-so-young men in a hurry, whom we have in the Fianna Fáil Party, on the Front Bench and elsewhere, might pay attention to it because it is an expression of opinion by a very eminent economist. This is to be found on page 9 of the Sunday Times and was written by Professor Kenneth Galbraith who is regarded as one of the cleverest economists in the world. What puts him beyond criticism from our point of view is that he was United States Ambassador to India and President Kennedy's economic adviser. He is now at Harvard as Professor of Economics. He had this to say about economists:

Unfortunately, the politicians are still the victims of economists. They must shake off their control—and I am talking as an economist. I keep on having the same dream. I imagine the day when the last automobile drives into London and comes to a halt in a solid mass of metal. As the driver slowly suffocates to death of carbon monoxide poisoning, the last words he hears come over the radio from the BBC. They announce the great news that last year the country's gross national product went up by five per cent.

Although that is perhaps a lighthearted observation by this man, it does contain this much of a grain of relevance and truth for us, that is, that we are allowing ourselves, as politicians, or are in danger of allowing ourselves, as politicians, to become the creatures of men whose thoughts are most fitted to the drawing-board of politics rather than to the arena. Economic theorists and such like people have their place in society but greater damage has been done, I think, by the attempted implementation of what were claimed to be perfect economic theories than by most other forms of human activity.

What I am trying to say is that we should not give ourselves over entirely to the control of the professors. We are members of the House and our duty is to reflect the feelings of the people we represent. By and large, I think that if we let our normal instincts operate, we shall do that. The members of the Fianna Fáil Party have been forced to sublimate their normal instincts in this connection. I am sure that many of them would be in complete agreement with what I have to say, particularly in relation to the lowly-paid workers, but that they have had to sublimate their normal instincts. That is a very unhealthy process and will lead to all kinds of queer complexes later on. Not that what I say will be acted upon but I suggest that they should make themselves felt in their Party. They should try to bring some commonsense to bear on the Taoiseach and those around him with regard to the plight of the workers, many of whom are facing grave difficulties. They cannot afford not to look for an increase and a more substantial one than three per cent.

This Government have pretty successfully made a mess of conditions in this country. As I have already observed, I can very well imagine what would be the case if this Government were on the other side of the House and there were another Government sitting where they are now. They would make hay. Certainly, the Taoiseach would make hay because the sun would be shining for him, and the national interest would not be cited.

Debate adjourned.