Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 2 May 1967

Vol. 228 No. 4

Committee on Finance. - Resolution No. 4—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)

In the past 12 months it would be true to say that agriculture has taken the headlines more often than in any of the previous years. One would get the impression that there may be an over-emphasis on agriculture in the Irish economy at the present time. I say this because of the very many publications issued to Deputies from time to time on full employment and reports of progress on economic programmes. One cannot but very fairly come to the conclusion that the whole future of this country depends very largely on whatever progress we make in the industrial sector of our economy. One of the greatest social obligations on any Government is to see that employment is provided for all our people. In this country, this is probably one of the most difficult things to achieve, despite the tremendous efforts made by all Governments we have had in the country down through the years. But, because of certain agitations and discontent among a certain section of the agricultural communities — not necessarily that section which was greatly affected or in the worst off position—one gets the feeling that too much emphasis is being put on agriculture at the moment because all these publications, facts and information put before us lead Deputies but to one conclusion, that is, that the employment content in agriculture has been diminishing, is diminishing and will diminish.

Where will our people be employed? If it is not in agriculture, then it must be in industry. Therefore, I feel that, with the pending entry of this country into the European Economic Community, there are before us very grave dangers, and a tremendous number of question marks surrounding this question of our entry. I do not think there are many people in the country at this time who would say it would be a mistake for us to enter. This is said, because of the fact that our entry is based on the British entry, but I fear the day, and I hope it does not come too soon, when Ireland will find itself in this Common Market area because our industry is certainly not prepared for the tremendous competition we can expect to meet.

Tremendous efforts have been made with adaptation councils and investigations into all our industries to try to assess their position, their strength and their potential in free trade conditions. The very wise move of initiating a Free Trade Area between this country and Great Britain has given in some small way an insight into the difficulties with which we may expect to be confronted. Rather than hoping Mr. Wilson will be successful in his latest negotiations, it might be right for this country to run a national novena that Mr. Wilson will not be successful with the negotiations he is about to make with the Common Market leaders. I say this because we have the trend of the supermarkets, the trend of the big combines, the trend of tremendous rationalisation of all industries throughout Europe, which have been rationalised long before this country ever got the opportunity to compete in that sphere of economic activity.

I can quote one example of a shipload of biscuits imported into this country from a European country to a particular group of supermarkets. They have been selling these biscuits at a tremendous loss. They have paid the import duties and could not care less about the loss; they want to establish their goods on the Irish market. This ties up with what I was saying last Thursday evening—the danger these supermarkets will be for this country. By allowing them freely to set up, we are allowing retail outlets to be established now, in present conditions, which will be to our detriment in free trade conditions, because we will not then be able to put any import duties on those goods coming in. Once they get themselves established now, the day will come when we will rue our lack of foresight in this matter.

To come back to the question of employment, if one looks down through the figures of employment in agriculture and industry in the member countries of OECD, as presented in the February issue of the OECD Observer, which is circulated to all Deputies, one sees that all the advanced countries in Europe are providing, through agriculture, a very small percentage of their employment. The United Kingdom is providing only 3.5 per cent of its total employment through agriculture; Sweden, 11.5 per cent; Denmark, 17 per cent; Germany, 11.1 per cent; the Netherlands, 9.5 per cent. Come to Ireland and we see, on these figures presented in this booklet, which I take to be accurate that 32.4 per cent of our total employment is provided through agriculture. The only other country comparable with us is Spain at 35.1 per cent. Spain is not a very developed country: it is a country in which there is tremendous poverty and vast areas of which are backward. It certainly does not set any headline on which this country could base its future. The only other country which is also providing large employment in agriculture is Italy, but we know the poverty of the small farmers in the southern part of that country.

It is important for our people to realise the difficulties that face us and to realise the full implications of the situation that will exist if we enter the EEC in the near future. One wonders are sufficient steps being taken by our industries to meet this competition? In Galway recently we had a merger between two small family firms, brought about on the advice of the Furniture Adaptation Council, the productivity committee and other Government agencies. This type of merger is to be highly recommended, where two industries manufacturing more or less the same type of product, two industries started as a one-man operation and retained within the family group, were existing side by side in the one town. But the progressive younger members of the two families came together and decided that, in view of the possibility of our entry into a vast free trade area and of meeting fantastic competition from outside groups, it would be necessary for them to come together to protect themselves.

I was astounded to hear the Minister for Industry and Commerce say on that occasion that that was the first such merger in Ireland between small manufacturing concerns and family businesses. One wonders do the Irish business people fully realise the position, or are they hiding behind the cloak of a "couldn't-care-less" attitude and fooling themselves that the day will never come. Because of the recent efforts by the British Government, the day may come sooner than we would wish it to come. I think these thoughts should be expressed in our Parliament.

I can foresee various difficulties arising in many of our industries if the proper efforts are not made now to scrap those which will not be able to exist and to involve ourselves more and more in those which have a good chance in this Community. The Industrial Credit Corporation, which issues the grants on behalf of the Government, should be given a direction that no industry shall be State-aided unless it can be fairly definitely assessed beforehand that it has a good chance of survival in free trade conditions in this part of Europe.

To further illustrate the trend which is taking place one can quote the figures for industrial employment in this country which show that between 1961 and 1966, there has been an increase of 38,200. On the other side of the scale, we have a tremendous drop in agricultural employment in the same period, a drop of 48,700 people. One often hears the Opposition Parties quoting statistics to prove a case. One of those used most frequently is the cry that there are fewer people employed here today than there were years ago. Of course, in particular circumstances, this could be said to be true. But what is it proving? It is not proving anything except stating a bald, statistical fact.

Hear, hear: a bald statistical fact.

Somebody said long ago that there were lies, damned lies and statistics. This could not be better applied to anything than to this type of statement which emanates from the benches in which Deputy Dillon is now sitting.

Facts is facts.

One has to take cognisance of the overall situation existing in an economy before one can pick out a bald fact and state it to prove a case. In the past 12 months Irish industry had to meet many difficulties—difficulties created inside and outside of this country and difficulties inside and outside of our factories. We had import levies on the English market; we had strikes in some of our own major industries; and we had a strike in the shipping industry. However, in the September quarter, which could be said to have been a fairly average quarter—a quarter in which there were no great outside influences bearing upon our industries—it can be clearly seen that manufacturing output expanded by up to six per cent. This proves that our industries have the ability to increase production, which they are constantly being asked to do. It proves they are able to market their goods in present circumstances and that they are making saleable products. Given favourable circumstances, there is no doubt that industry in these conditions will continue to expand and to provide additional employment.

Another factor which should be taken into consideration when quoting figures of the lesser number of people employed is the fact that between 1957 and now our emigration figures have been greatly reduced. In that year there were up to 60,000 people emigrating from this country. Is it not significant to be able to state today that that drain of our brains and manpower has been reduced to a figure around 25,000? This is a very substantial reduction in one of our most vital statistics. One of the greatest scourges of our nation from the time of the Great Famine has been the constant drain of people from this land to seek work in other countries.

I suggest to those members of the Opposition who seek to decry the efforts of a Government working hard and sincerely that they are trying to create a sense of despair in this country by telling us there are fewer people employed here today than there were in some other year. This type of statement does not help anybody. It does not help the morale of the workers or of the people generally. It does not instil confidence into anybody. One should state all the facts, show the progress that has been made and show that we have confidence in ourselves to improve on this position.

Another factor which should be taken into consideration when assessing the efforts of this Government and their success or failure over the past ten years roughly is the fact that for the first time, one can say, since the Famine there has been a substantial increase in our total population. In 1961, the figure was 2,818,000. This has now gone, according to the census of 1966, to 2,881,000 people. This is an increase of 63,000 in the population.

Surely the Deputy is not boasting about that?

We shall wait to hear Deputy Coogan's contribution to the debate. I am sure it will be well worth listening to.

The Parliamentary Secretary cannot boast either.

The parliamentary day has been made; we have had another brilliant interruption from Deputy Coogan.


No matter who is responsible for this increase in population, it is something of which the Government can be justly proud, that people were able to stay in the country, find a living here and rear a family. I do not have to tell the Deputy on the opposite side that in the period of the last inter-Party Government the population decreased by 88,000.

The Deputy nearly believes it himself.

And unemployment went up to 100,000.

Nearly as much as it was in 1934, 134,000.

Would Deputies allow Deputy Molloy to make his speech?

Having regard to the great efforts of this Government to promote industry, we become accustomed to hearing from certain benches on the opposite side derogatory statements about certain industries in certain towns.

And hoping they will fail.

Not alone hoping, but praying they will fail.


I have often heard here political capital being made of the difficulties of certain factories in my town. Questions were put down to embarrass Ministers because of a loss of sales in foreign markets. These people thought it was politically cute, but let me tell them these efforts at jumping on the bandwagon get nobody anywhere.

I shall see the Deputy in Mervue when the election is on.

I should like to see the Deputy opposite from my own constituency stand with me in Mervue, 12 months from today, and the smile will be on the back of his face.

The ballot box will show the difference, as it did in 1954.


Order. There are far more counties in Ireland than Galway.

I am trying to demonstrate that there have been improvements. There are still difficulties and we must have the confidence to face up to them. Last year because of the balance of payments position, it was necessary to introduce a rather severe Budget. The success of that Budget has been well shown in this year in which Opposition Members who have come in here have failed to pinpoint any item in that Budget on which they could criticise the Government, and they have constantly raised matters which have nothing whatsoever got to do with the Budget. We travelled from Taca right back to last year's Budget, but never a serious mention of this year's Budget.

Last year's adverse balance of roughly £42 million in our balance of payments was reduced to £16 million. This had to be brought about if the country was to be allowed to make any further progress. If we had continued without taking the severe measures adopted last year, the economy would have run into dire trouble. We would have run into a storm which would have sunk us. Realising the elements that were about, the Government took precautionary measures and the ship of State was brought safely through that storm by the then Taoiseach. Deputy Lemass, and the then Minister for Finance, and now Taoiseach, Deputy Jack Lynch.

Before I conclude, I should like to make a passing reference to some news which I was very sad to hear recently and which concerns the future of the Fine Gael Party. I always believed Deputy Sweetman was one of the best men Fine Gael had and I am sorry to hear of his imminent retirement from those Benches.

Ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a ghabháil leis an Rialtas as ucht an méid atá déanta sa cháinaisneis ar mhaithe le muintir na Gaeltachta. Is maith liom dul siar don cheanntar sin i gConamara agus na thithe nua atá curtha suas le deich mbliana anuas a fheiceál. Is féidir a rá go bhfuil buíochas mhuintir na Gaillimhe ag dul don Rialtas as ucht an méid cabhrach atá á thúirt chun an Ghaeltacht a chur ar aghaidh. Tá a lán deacrachtaí fós sa Ghaeltacht seachas ceist na dtithe. Mar shompla, níl go leor oibre le fáil ag buachaillí óga a fhágann na ceard-scoileanna. Is maith an rud oideachas agus oideachas maith a thúirt do pháistí na Gaeltachta. Tá ceard-scoileanna curtha suas ar fud na háite agus iad ag déanamh a lán maitheasa sa Ghaeltacht. Ach níl dóthain oibre le fáil ag na buachaillí seo. Ní hamhlaidh nach bhfuil siad cliste go leor ach nach bhfuil an deis acu leanúint leis an gceard a d'fhoghlaim siad sa ghairm-scoil. Bíonn orthu, mar sin, dul go Sasana. Is mór an áis dóibh, má tá orthu dul thar sáile, oideachas maith a bheith acu, ach nuair a théann na daoine óga seo go Sasana, éiríonn siad as an gceard atá acu chun airgead mór a thuilleamh. Ba mhaith liom dá mbeadh obair le fáil ag na buachaillí seo ins na ceann-tracha in a gcomhnaíonn siad. Ní thig linn an obair sin a chur ar fáil gan monarcain a thógáil.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,

Tá rud amháin sa cháinaisnéis ar mhaith liom cúpla focal a rá faoi—an chabhair mhór atá a túirt ag an Rialtas do lucht iascaireachta ar fud na tíre. Tá airgead curtha ar fáil sa cháinaisnéis chun cé mhór nua a thógháil i gCill Rónáin ar Oileán Árainn. Tá mé cinnte go gcuirfidh an cé nua seo caoi níos fearr ar fáil do na hiascairí sa cheantar sin chun leanúint ar aghaidh agus chun méadú níos mó a dheanamh ar an dtionscal íontach úd —tionscal na hiascaireachta. An bhliain seo chugainn nuair a bheidh an chéad cháinaisnéis eile ós comhair an Tí, tá súil agam go mbeidh scéal eile againn maidir le cabhair a thúirt do Ros a' Mhil i nGaillimh. Tá scrúdú a dhéanamh ag an Rialtas ar an gceantar sin agus tá sé beartaithe céanna nua a chur ar fáil ansin má tá sé indéanta chun a chur ar chumas na n-iascairí dul go dtí na margaí i bhfad níos luaithe. Faoi láthair is éigin do na hiascairí na báid a thúirt ó Oileán Árainn go dtí Cuan na Gaillimhe in ionad dul go dtí Ros a' Mhil. Tá súil agam go mbeidh dul chun cinn faoin gcé sin sa bhliain atá romhainn.

One other aspect with which I should like to deal is the question of education in rural areas. A large number of technical schools have been provided. That is a very good thing. I have experience of my own constituency and I assume the position is somewhat similar in other constitutuencies. In these technical schools, courses are provided for pupils leaving the national school. Many of these pupils are getting very high marks in their group certificate examination. The difficulty is that, having gained the group certificate, they are not able to apprentice themselves to the trades of their choice. Because the despicable system of the closed shop prevails, these brilliant young pupils are not able to take up a trade and they are lost to the country because they are compelled to take the first boat to Britain, where they are compelled to fall back on what is known as navvying.

This does not seem to be relevant to the matter before the House.

It is relevant from the point of view of industry. If industry is to be the main source of employment in the future, there is great need for technological education. I wonder if too much emphasis is being placed at the moment on the literary type of education provided in our universities.

That will come up more relevantly on the Department of Education Vote.

It is important from the point of view of the economy. If I am out of order, I shall refrain from mentioning it further.

It is not administration.

I should like to add that, if further technological courses were available for these pupils leaving the technical schools, they would be very much more in demand and these boys could command much better jobs if not here, then even in England.

This Budget demonstrates how deeply committed the Government are in regard to tourism. It also demonstrates their realisation of the importance of the tourist industry. Coming from a tourist area, I should like to take this opportunity of expressing my appreciation of the way in which this Government have helped and are helping that industry. The development of farmhouse holidays has begun to snowball and I think that development will become a tremendous source of income for our people. I was surprised to hear Deputy Dillon criticise this type of income; he said that anybody who took people into his home must be hard-up or on his last legs. In other words, according to Deputy Dillon, it is degrading to promote or encourage farmhouse holidays. I should like to tell Deputy Dillon that there are a great many people in my constituency who supplement their incomes to a substantial extent by means of these farmhouse holidays. Some are my neighbours. They are by no means on their last legs and no one thinks any the less of them for engaging in this holiday scheme. They are dedicated to the promotion of this industry. Many of them are the leaders of the local development associations.

The hotel industry has always been the backbone of the tourist industry. It has been given special consideration in this Budget, but to provide the number of beds which it is estimated will be needed in the four or five years ahead of us, if we are to continue to meet the targets set in the Second Programme for Economic Expansion, we cannot rely solely on the hotels and the farmhouse holidays scheme to provide, at a much increased rate, the necessary additional beds and accommodation for the ever-increasing number of people who come here on holidays. There is one note which I would not like to strike too hard but it is a suggestion I would make in relation to Bord Fáilte and the administration of its grants. I feel they will have to improve. There are indications that people applying to Bord Fáilte for grants are meeting with certain difficulties, and, if more thought were given to the problem, a lot of needless inconvenience would be avoided.

That would be a matter of administration, for the Estimate.

In any event, it is about as untrue as the remarks he made about me.

What remarks did he make?

Well, tell us?

I think it is fairly generally known now.

I will be here long after you have gone, boy.

We are all very sorry to hear it.

Long after you have gone.

I would not like to transgress your ruling, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. I will conclude by saying that we, in the west of Ireland, have taken great hope from this Budget, which has instilled new confidence into the people in the area. The Government should be given every assistance to continue the work they are doing to develop the west of Ireland.

Aontaím leis an méid adúirt an Teachta ó Connacht maidir leis na scoileanna—gur beag an maitheas oideachas fónta a sholáthar muna mbéifear i ndán fostaíocht a chur an fáil do no páistí ina dtír féin tar éis fágaint na scoile dhóibh. Sílim go bhfuil géar-ghá tionscail agus monarchain a mhealladh chun an tír seo chun postanna a sholáthar do pháistí tar éis dóibh an scoil a fhágaint. Fillfidh mé ar an cheist seo arís, b'fhéidir ar an Meastachán.

I was rather startled to hear Deputy Molloy enunciate that we should be all joining in a novena in regard to the question of the Common Market. He believes we should be joining in a novena at the present time to ensure that Mr. Wilson does not get into the Common Market. I understood that the Taoiseach had just come back from London where he has been doing his best to ensure we keep step by step with Britain's attempts to get into the Common Market. When Deputy Molloy speaks in terms like this, there must be some variation of views within the Fianna Fáil Party itself in regard to this matter of the desirability or otherwise of pursuing our application for entry to the Common Market. I take it, however, that it is the Government's view, as enunciated by the Taoiseach, both before he left this country for his recent visit to London and at his press conference after his meeting with the British Prime Minister, that our firm aim was to get into the Common Market.

I hope we are not going to open a debate on the Common Market.

I hope not. I do not intend to proceed any further. I listened to what the Taoiseach had to say and although he seemed to think that we would not have an opportunity of discussing it in this House, that he feels the Government have a mandate to pursue the policy of getting into the Common Market, I presume at some stage we will have an opportunity of debating it.

With regard to the question of statistics which were mentioned by Deputy Molloy, I am sure statistics can be turned about, have been turned about and will continue to be turned about to make a particular case. However, the statistics in use at least are held to be valid statistics inasmuch as they are produced by a Government Department.

Deputy Molloy imputed the lessening morale of the people to this Party. I propose to lay that charge at the feet of the Minister for Finance in his Budget on this occasion. If there is lack of morale in the country the Minister has done quite a bit to ensure that lack of morale. In that connection it appals me that we go on continually in this House year after year on an upward spiral all the time in regard to expenditure. It never seems to taper off. There always seems to be something desirable that should be done. The end of it that certainly worries me is the fact that according to the Minister we will have to pay in the coming year something like £69 million to service public debt, that the increase which is occurring in this Budget will provide £7 million in regard to the servicing of debt. If I have looked at the figures properly, this sum of money which is being provided for the extra service of debt is more than the amount that is being provided for, I think, three of the Departments of State in regard to their expenditure so far as the welfare of the people is concerned.

One would ask oneself at this stage with what view is the Minister looking in the long term at this country. What view does the Minister and his advisers and his Department have in regard to the outlook for this country, in regard to money values? Does the present policy which is being pursued for years now and which we propose to continue mean that the Minister believes he ought to borrow more money at the present time, believing that money will become less in value? Does this fit in with the Minister's thinking in regard to savings and what moral value has it for the public if they are to feel that this is true, that money values are becoming less and that as the years go by we will find ourselves in the position where somebody would say: "Was it not a pity we did not do more in housing, for instance, when money was cheaper, was it not a pity we did not do more in agriculture when money was cheaper? Was it not a pity we did not do more with regard to the encouragement of industry in this country when money was cheaper? Was it not a pity we did not promote full employment when money was cheaper?" These are some of the thoughts that struck me when trying to read into the Minister's Budget Statement the Kind of philosophy which he seems to exude in this statement of his.

I agree that the Minister in his Budget has made some innovations but the basic thing to me in a Budget statement is that it is an instrument of financial policy being used by the custodian of the public purse, first and foremost to ensure that the taxpayer is not unduly pressed and that the public are getting value for the money that is being spent and furthermore that the money being spent is creating some kind of promise for future progress and employment in the country. I doubt if these suppositions could be validated by what the Minister has said in the Budget.

We have not in this Budget any hope of creating full employment. The Minister admits that, because he makes provision in the Budget for the payment of unemployment assistance over the full year. The Minister does not believe in the viability of small farms, or that they can ever be made viable, because again he makes provision for the payment of assistance to the small farmers for the foreseeable future, but expresses a hope in regard to their being made viable in the future. This reminds me of some of the things that were enunciated here by the Minister for Transport and Power. He spoke of viable farms in the sense of the elimination of small farms and their being welded together into larger units. I wonder how that contrasts with the Minister's professed care for the western regions.

What hope has the Minister that the aids he is giving to the West will help the people who live there—the people about whom Deputy Molloy spoke a short time ago—to remain in the West and to maintain their distinctive culture? How can they remain there in the circumstances in which we frame a Budget which acknowledges the fact that the small farms are doomed to extinction, and that the people who work in the rural areas can look forward only to unemployment benefit or assistance? That is something to which the Minister should have given much more attention.

As a fresh Minister for Finance, and coming to the Ministry of Finance from the Ministry of Agriculture with which he dealt previously, he knows quite well what is happening in the rural areas, and he knows that rural employment is declining. He knows that people are leaving the land and that these statistics are not wrong. Each Deputy from a rural area got a document this morning from the Minister for Local Government pointing out to him the areas in his constituency which could rate for a grant under the Special Employment Schemes because they have a high level of unemployment.

Does the Minister believe it is desirable to create employment opportunities? Does he believe it is desirable to provide for housing, and schools, and roadmaking, and improvements of that kind, to create employment opportunities? If we are to follow his philosophy of continually upping Budgets without any pause, at what stage in Irish public life will a halt be called to that programme, and in what way will the necessary wealth be generated to pay this debt and the service of the debt? That takes no account of the local authorities' debt.

Even though interest rates are high, and deplorably high, if the Minister believes that money values will become less—and it is generally accepted that money values will become less and that the ordinary units of currency will automatically be devalued over the years — it would have been a well worthwhile exercise for the Minister to have indulged in large scale borrowing to create conditions of full employment, and having done that let the future generations deal with the problem of the National Debt when money values have depreciated far below what they are today.

In regard to this question of borrowings, the Government also sustain the local authorities' borrowings from the Local Loans Fund. Here is something which has been stultifying employment so far as the rural areas are concerned. The building programme last year, while it picked up on the previous year, was still low in relation to the needs for housing. There is a grave need for housing in the large centres of population, and there is a growing need in the country areas because of obsolescence in rural housing. One wonders at this stage what the end of this matter will be. We still have a continuing rate of obsolescence in housing and our current programme is not able to take up the slack.

In Dublin, for instance, we still have a position in which married couples must put their names in a lottery to obtain houses. In the rural areas when people apply for borrowing facilities, the local authorities are confined in the amount of borrowing they can make. It is well nigh impossible for young people to build their own homes, and we should be encouraging them to provide their own homes in the rural areas if we believe in the rural areas at all. I am being forced reluctantly to the conclusion that this Government do not believe the rural areas can be saved. That has been made apparent by their policy on education, which is to move children from these areas into larger centres, and also by their policy in regard to the creation of industrial projects and industrial regions around towns. That seems to be the mentality at the moment. I do not condemn it out of hand. You must face the situation and you must take some steps, but the Government seem to believe that the countryside is doomed.

If we were to examine the statistics, which at times we do not like to take note of, and take the number of small people and small farmers in the country, and perhaps maybe small landowners too, and regard them as constituting the rural population, we would see the percentage. We must believe that their position is such that the Minister for Finance has come to their assistance in the way of unemployment assistance and rates remission. It is now being brought to £20 poor law valuation but the Minister believes that all small farms with a poor law valuation up to £33 ought to be assisted. This is a further admission that agriculture is in the doldrums.

In relation to a Budget which seeks an extra £20 million this year, it would seem that £7 million will go to the service of debt. That means that the taxpayer and the people generally will have to work all the harder to provide this extra £7 million which, of its nature, is non-productive.

A sum of £3½ million is mentioned for education and £2 million for health. For agriculture, including rates relief, a figure of £2 million is mentioned. With regard to the £3½ million for education, I notice that the Minister deals with £1 million of this amount of money for a start. He mentions that the extensive programme of improvements now under way includes the introduction this year of important new plans for post-primary education. I do not propose to deal with education today: I shall deal with it when the Estimate for that Department comes before the House.

I should like to ask the Minister for Finance if the Minister for Education is satisfied that this £1 million can be used this year. Is the Minister for Finance satisfied that the plans for this expenditure have been accepted or are at the point where they can be accepted? I know from experience that quite a lot of conferences are being held in the country to try to get this programme working. We shall perhaps have an opportunity of debating all this with the Minister for Education but, at the moment, I doubt if part of it at least will not provide another portion of the windfall which the Minister is anticipating in his estimation of errors in the preparation of Estimates by Departments to the extent of £4 million.

In the light of the experience of the past few years, a figure of £4 million in respect of over-estimation seems very generous, especially in view of the kinds of instructions Departments have been getting in regard to curtailment of expenses. This extends over the whole sector of the public service. Every Department of State had to prune their Estimates. It will be interesting to see if, at the end of this financial year, the Minister's estimate in relation to over-estimation is correct. I must say here, however, that it is possible to create a surplus at the end of the year, provided the Minister for Finance is strong enough to curtail the expenditure of other Departments. He can always create the necessary amount of slack at that period.

Coming up to the second week of March of this year, it looked as if the returns would show a much larger surplus. At that stage, the Minister might very well have finished with a surplus of £3 million to £4 million. Inexplicably, however, that money seemed to fade away within the framework of the Department of Finance and the Minister finished with the surplus of which he spoke and on which he is basing his programme for this year—a surplus of £1.3 million; £2 million odd being raised by taxation and this supposition of an over-estimation of £4 million. Let us hope that that £4 million over-estimation will be spread over all the Departments and that some Departments will not find themselves with too much over-estimation, indicating that their Estimates were not well framed. At that stage, some Accounting Officers will have very hot ears if such should be the case.

It is surely contradictory of the Minister to say that farming will be prosperous only when output is steadily rising. If I understand this correctly, the Minister believes that, when we have more produce off the land, everybody will be happy. Consider the situation in the past year and the continuing situation of a glut of cattle. This has created a grave problem for the farming community. They have had to accept prices for their cattle which were too low to enable them to run their farms economically. There will be a glut of any farm product unless there is a market for it. Unless we have a guaranteed market for our various farm products, we shall be on the wrong foot from the point of view of price to the producer and from the point of view of the taxpayer who must provide the necessary financial support.

I have spoken already of rates relief and assistance. The steps taken by the Minister in this Budget are indicative of recognition of the situation which prevails generally in the agricultural sector. Again referring to what Deputy Molloy said in regard to the Common Market, may I say I hope our market research in regard to Common Market proposals will be more forward, as regards our prospects, than that in regard to the British market? I hope that, somewhere in the Estimate of the Minister for Agriculture, there is money to enable market research to be carried out. Such research was initiated years ago with a grant of £250,000 when we first started to probe the British market in regard to dairy products. I hope the Minister will ensure that the Minister for Agriculture, and the Council he has set up, will have the groundwork prepared for the kind of markets which will give agriculture the type of incentive it needs.

Deputy Molloy referred to the fact that he believes the future of this country depends on industry. It was interesting to hear the Taoiseach speaking, within the past day or so, of slight recession and the difficulties in regard to manufacturing industries when we do get into the Common Market. On what are we going to base it? Is it on agriculture or is it on industry, or is it on a combination of both? I believe it will be on a combination of both. I do not accept for a moment that our entry into the Common Market, whether that should be in 1970 or afterwards, is going to be an easy exercise or one that is not going to be without pain at times. Anybody who has read the OECD Reports can see the comparison between the state of our economy and the state of the economies of countries which are Member States of the Council of Europe. The Minister for Finance has sounded that note of caution in his Budget speech. Everybody will need to be careful and not be overoptimistic or led astray by false promises or dangerous assumptions in regard to what is in store for our people when that era comes about.

I should like to ask the Minister a question about the travelling allowances for old age pensioners and also the provision of free electricity for these people. I presume that these benefits apply to the State at large. In regard to transport in Dublin and in the builtup areas, which I presume include Cork and Limerick, the term "valley period" was used. Does that mean that the old age pensioner living in a rural area cannot avail of CIE transport when there is only one bus a day, one to the centre and one back in the evening? Are we going to create a further demarcation line between our people in this respect?

As I said, we had this morning an indication from the Minister for Local Government in regard to schemes which could be submitted for unemployment assistance and for grants for minor employment schemes. Again, you have this creation of areas. I received a list of areas in my constituency but I am certain that there are other areas in the constituency which are just as much in need of this kind of assistance as those on the list, but because people there have not been signing on at the labour exchange, these areas are out. As they have not got pockets of registered unemployed, they cannot qualify. This is discriminatory against a rural population.

I do not see why we should have this sort of discrimination. Surely the officers of the Departments will be able to satisfy the Minister in regard to these schemes and to show employment is justified or that a grant is justified? Generally speaking, there is too much of this discrimination. I shall deal with another aspect of that shortly.

The Minister mentioned a grant for milk coolers and he has set aside a sum of £250,000 for this purpose. I wonder when he is replying would he deal with the question of the availability of credit because many farmers who would wish to install a cooler have not got a water supply.

The grant is in the region of £50.

I am sure that the Minister has seen not only plenty of estimates but also the vouched copies of expenses for the sinking of wells and he will know that the cost is anywhere in the region of £300 to £600. I know from my own experience that seeking credit from the Agricultural Credit Corporation is not always the easiest process in this matter. Therefore I would ask the Minister to go that much further and ensure that wherever a grant for a cooler is being made available, and this would be as a result of some inquiries being made, the money necessary for the provision of a water supply will also be made available. Coolers without water are of no use to the farmers.

I should like to hear what plans the Minister has in regard to the incentive bonus, on what he intends to spend it and where is it to be spent. Is this to be confined to certain regions or to certain phases of farming operations or who may expect to gain from the incentive bonus? This is something which the public are entitled to know well in advance, that the Minister has a scheme in mind and intends to apply it in a certain fashion.

I notice that the Minister for Lands was speaking at the week-end about the implementation of the land policy in western regions. The Minister for Finance has made £200,000 available for this work in the coming financial year. The Minister for Lands called together a number of inspectors and he is sending them out to carry out a survey. This survey will supply the Minister with facts on which he will frame some kind of scheme. I thought, from previous utterances by the Minister, that he had a plan in mind and that the survey had already been made. One thing strikes me in regard to the £200,000 for the enlargement of farms in the West to make them viable: I wonder how many people are contemplating being made viable through this sum when one considers the administrative expenses that will come out of it.

If we are to believe that congestion is as great as it is said to be—and I accept that it is—I wonder what type of policy will be adopted to make them viable. When the Land Act was going through the House, I objected strenuously to the exclusion of my constituency from its operations, under which people getting land under the Land Act would still get it on half annuities and where many facilities would be made available to them if they wished to purchase land on their own. I still maintain that it is discriminatory to leave a constituency which has as many small farms and as much poverty in the western portion of it as any part of the western region, outside the scope of any ameliorative measure for the people of the western areas. The people I have in mind, apparently, are to be condemned to remain in their present situation until the families die out or the younger people leave.

I have already pointed out that, as regards industry, we never had in my constituency any encouragement for industry to come to that area, although we had unemployment there. In the four larger towns in the constituency, Kilmallock, Newcastle West, Rathkeale and Abbeyfeale, apart from what private enterprise has accomplished, nothing was ever done to provide any alleviation for the unemployed by way of inducement to industry to move into the area. Perhaps that is the fault of the Deputies representing the area; God knows, we tried often enough but we were always met with the same bland argument: "The first thing necessary is for the people to put up some of the money themselves." There was always this magic dividing line across the Shannon; we were on one side and the people who benefited were on the other. We could never get the type of incentive and encouragement needed to secure industry in that region.

I welcome the grant the Minister is making for caravan parks and camping sites. I have in mind places in the south-east of my constituency in the foothills of the Galtees. This type of help might draw some tourists to the area and encourage them to remain for a while.

It is refreshing to find that the Government have accepted an incomes policy. I do not say that in any disparaging sense but it is not very long since the former Taoiseach said in the Seanad: "an incomes policy, whatever that may mean." Evidently, the present Fianna Fáil Government and Minister for Finance are more up to date in their thinking on incomes policy. I hope the Minister will pursue that policy, as he says, by the Government accepting that this applies to everybody and to all sectors of the economy.

It is an aside at this stage but I was very disappointed that the Minister did not grant some greater measure of relief to married people by way of the personal allowance which has remained static for years. Evidently people do not need it when they get married so long as they have a certain income but the Minister did provide in this Budget for people in the upper brackets. That generous provision can be applied all round. When he comes to frame another Budget, he should give very deep consideration to the limit which he maintains at present on personal income, particularly in regard to people starting off to earn and also married people. To raise this limit would be a gesture very much appreciated, particularly as the Minister has indicated by his actions otherwise that the cost of living has been going up. To use one of these new terms, it is always "escalating". We have plenty of these terms nowadays, inflation, deflation and reflation. One would wonder between all these terms and the modern jargon spewed out in Government documents and in the House, sometimes by Ministers, how the ordinary taxpayer is to cope with it all. He must wonder what GATT is and EFTA and NIEC——


At one stage benchmarks were supposed to indicate the depth at high water but I think we have long passed the high water mark so far as finance is concerned.

I was interested in what the Minister said regarding the Civil Service and the study that is taking place in that connection. I remember listening to a previous Minister for Finance who had set up another type of inquiry concerning the Civil Service. I also heard of the various survey teams put into Departments, efficiency experts of all kinds, but at the end of all the operations and the various reports, the present Minister for Finance is in exactly the same position—or a better position —inasmuch as he has a larger Civil Service at present than his predecessors had, and that despite the introduction of very expensive computers which sometimes go wrong also.

State and semi-State bodies are so sacrosanct a subject that we dare not talk about them in this House. We may not ask questions about them. If we do, Ministers will tell us that the questions deal with day to day affairs in the running of these companies and that it would be unwise to ask too many questions or to interfere in this way with the running of these bodies.

I seriously suggest to the Minister it is time that he and his Department and the Government generally took a good look at State-sponsored bodies. We have reached a stage when a very large sum of money passes through in grants-in-aid and otherwise to these bodies—the people's money, of which the Minister is the custodian. From time to time requests have been made here that the accounts of these bodies should be subjected to the scrutiny of some Committee of this House but they have been constantly refused. It is very difficult to see why. The practice abroad is to have some kind of annual review of such activities. If the ordinary citizen makes a mistake, an error of judgment, he pays for that error from his own pocket but if the State makes a mistake, what is the position? If a State or a semi-State body makes a mistake or an error of judgment, the payment is made from the public purse.

This should give the Minister cause for reflection. He is the custodian of the public money and has a moral responsibility to the taxpayers in this matter. In recent times there has been criticism of the kind of escalation that can happen in regard to expenditure on Government projects and it is only years afterwards that we are told that it was impossible to estimate what these works entailed. I do not readily accept that this is what happens. Of course the fact that there is not some body which can question these procedures is a reason why this type of mistake can be made.

I may mention at this point something which has been referred to previously and which I have no doubt will be referred to again. When works are being done for the State—for the people—where there are additions or extensions to these works, or errors of judgment, the public purse not only pays for these mistakes or under-calculations but also pays for the professional services which have succeeded in enlarging these works.

I should like to finish on that note and to ask the Minister very briefly whether the thinking involved in the recent statement of the Minister for Justice in Athlone is valid thinking in relation to these matters at the present time. First and foremost, I should like the Minister to say whether it is proper and fit thinking to say that any political Party should be able to raise funds and whether this, coming from a Minister of State, connotes something at the present time to which serious consideration should be given. In Irish public life, there is a morality to which we are all subject and I believe that as long as we are politicians, we shall be subject to that and that the public will look at us, judge us and form their own conclusions when Ministers get up and make these statements, coupling with them the suggestion about how wise it is to have a strong Government. Such statements, coming at the same time, are most unwise and could give rise to very serious misgivings in the public mind.

The Minister may be able to reassure me in this matter. He may indicate when replying whether he is thinking in terms of Budgets in the future which will be increasing Budgets. What message would that have for the saving public? Does it convey to them that it is wise to save if they are made to feel at the same time that their money will be of less real value several years hence? Unless there is something else in the Minister's mind on this matter, we have the undoubted suggestion that the policy during the years of continuing to increase Budgets, of continuing to increase sinking funds and repayments calls for an immediate moratorium. Otherwise. I wonder what state the country will be in.

I should like to begin my reply by dealing with what, on the one hand, might be considered the most serious attack that has been made on the Budget but which on the other hand, can be readily recognised by the older hands among us as a well-worn gambit. I refer to the suggestion made by Deputy Sweetman and others that we cooked the books. This, of course, is a hoary old chestnut and it seems to me on this occasion that it has come to us, as it were, in two parts.

First of all, it is suggested that we overtaxed the people deliberately last year for the sheer pleasure of doing so; and secondly, that this year we deliberately underplayed the satisfactory outcome of last year's Budget to benefit the current Budget in some obscure sort of way. Firstly, I should like to draw the attention of Deputies to the inherent contradiction involved in these two criticisms. Apparently it is suggested that last year the Government wanted to falsify the figures so that they could inflict unnecessary taxation on the people and that this year we went the opposite way, seeking to cook the books so that we could avoid putting on taxes we should in conscience have put on. It is obvious from these two simultaneous criticisms that neither is valid, that they are in fact just a device resorted to by an Opposition who have very little genuine ground on which to criticise the Budget. However, since the allegations have been made it is my duty in replying to deal with them.

I shall take first of all the suggestion that last year we deliberately budgeted for a surplus; in other words, that we imposed a greater burden of taxation on the people than we need have done. Let me, first of all, ask why in the name of goodness should any sensible Government in a democratic State bring on themselves the odium of putting on taxes for some reason that was not apparent? As it happened the actual surplus in last year's account was £800,000 or about 0.3 per cent of the total revenue. I think it should be obvious immediately that such a relatively small surplus could not be the result of deliberate policy but rather represents the normal variations as between revenue and expenditure.

As I indicated in my Budget Statement, one of the major contributions to revenue buoyancy and, therefore, to the Budget surplus last year, was the yield from the wholesale tax which amounted to £2.3 million as against the Budget estimate of £1.5 million. This is in fact, if you like, the very surplus of £800,000. It is perfectly understandable that when you bring in during any year a completely new type of tax there should be considerable uncertainty in estimating its yield. This is precisely what happened. Fortunately the tax brought in a good deal more than we anticipated and in fact, at the end of the year, there was a surplus which corresponded to the amount of that excess.

I do not think anybody can seriously suggest, with regard to the current year, that we are budgeting for a deficit. When Deputies suggest this I presume they have in mind that I took credit for an allowance of £4 million for errors of estimation. I feel that was a reasonable allowance to make in this year. A similar amount was taken on a previous occasion by a former Minister for Finance. I do not think there is any danger that the taking of this allowance will result in any significant deficit.

Last year we made no allowance at all for two very good reasons. In the first place, the very heavy deficit on the Budget of the previous year acted as a warning, if you like, that it would be unwise to rely too much on an upsurge of buoyancy in that year. Furthermore—this is probably more important—the difficulties we were experiencing in financing the capital programme would have made it irresponsible indeed to run even the risk of an unbalanced Budget which would have to be met by borrowing, when we were already in some difficulty in borrowing enough to meet the programme. This year our economic prospects are a great deal brighter and there is no doubt that we can honestly expect reasonable buoyancy. The circumstances seem to indicate that it is quite in order to do this, though it may result in a minor deficit, or a minor surplus. I certainly do not anticipate that this will have any significant effect on the outcome of the Budget. After all, if you look on the Budget as comprising a total between expenditure and revenue, of about £600 million, surely it is not unreasonable to be able to expect in a favourable situation, with either excessive estimation, on the one hand, or buoyancy on the other hand, to be able to get the benefit of about £4 million.

Deputy Sweetman has been at some pains to suggest that whatever about cooking the books last year, we certainly did something with them in regard to the outcome of that year. He has suggested that we by manipulation deliberately reduced the surplus with which last year should have ended to a figure of £800,000 and transferred in some way, which he did not explain, the benefits of that manipulation into the first fortnight of this current year. This, of course, is completely untrue. I will give the House some figures which explain the difference in the 1966 and 1967 figures to which Deputy Sweetman has referred. Deputy Sweetman has examined the figures for the first fortnight of April, 1967, and compared them with the first fortnight, or the first 15 days of April, 1966. He bases his accusation on that comparison.

The first figure I would like to deal with is that for issues out of the Exchequer. The figures in the period, 1st April to 15th April, 1966, were £5½ million odd, whereas in the period 1st April, 1967 to 14th April, 1967, they were only about £3 million. There is a difference there of about £2½ million. Issues out of the Exchequer in the same period in 1966 were about £2½ million greater than they were in 1967. That is almost entirely accounted for by the fact that a payment of £1¾ million interest was due on 15th April, 1966, which was a Friday and was made on that date, whereas 15th April, 1967, when the current payment should have been made, was a Saturday, and the corresponding payment was not made until Monday, 17th April. The explanation is as simple as that. The due date fell on a Friday in 1966 and the interest was paid on that date, whereas it fell on a dies non, a Saturday, in 1967 and the payment was postponed until the following Monday. That accounted for £1.75 million of the difference of £2½ million.

On the receipts side, receipts in this year, the current year, were about £11¼ million for the same period compared with about £7.8 million in 1966, the difference being £3.38 million. Again, there is a perfectly simple factual explanation for this difference. First of all, customs and excise account for £752,000 and this increase reflects the fact that the rates of duty on petrol, oil and tobacco, which were increased in the supplementary Budget last year, were naturally that much higher in April, 1967 than they were in April, 1966 because the increases were not operative in April last year and they were this April. In addition the general level of consumer expenditure rose considerably during April, 1967. That, as I say, is an explanation of the increase of about £752,000 in customs and excise receipts.

Income tax also showed a considerable increase between the two years. In the first fortnight of April, 1967, they were £5¼ million roughly, whereas they were about £4 million in the corresponding period of the previous year. Again, the simple explanation for this difference is the fact that the Easter holiday from 24th to 28th March came just before the end of the financial year. Many business concerns were closed for holidays and did not remit their tax until the last day or two of the financial year. The tax offices also were closed during the holiday and as a result the normal processing of payments made in the closing days of the year was not completed before 31st March. Last year in 1966, the Easter holidays covered the period 8th to 12th April and they had a similar effect in that regard.

The Exchequer returns show that for the period 1st to 8th April receipts from income tax totalled almost £3 million, while in the following week, which included the holidays, receipts from income tax were just under £1 million. Receipts from wholesale tax in 1st to 14th April, 1967, were £173,000, which was not there at all last year. Furthermore, there was a payment of £1 million from the Post Office in the period 1st to 14th April, 1967, whereas there was no similar payment last year. This is because it has been decided this year in the interest of better financial management to take in Post Office receipts as they arise, whereas previously these receipts were brought into the Exchequer at the end of each calendar month. These figures I have indicated explain quite clearly the differences there are in the amounts of issues and receipts between the first two weeks of April in the two years.

Deputy Sweetman also had a query about corporation profits tax and income tax and the estimated receipts from these sources in the year 1967-68. In this instance, he, to some extent, discovered the truth of the matter for himself. His explanation, by and large, is the correct one. Perhaps I should just explain for the benefit of Deputies how these estimates are framed. First of all, I want to say that these estimates of receipts from taxes are framed by the Revenue Commissioners. They are, and can never be more than, estimates, but as estimates they are compiled as meticulously and accurately as is humanly possible on the basis of comprehensive statistical data available to the Revenue Commissioners.

Deputy Sweetman referred to the increase in the estimates of corporation profits tax from-£9.4 million to £13.7 million. That increase of £4.3 million is largely due to the changes which were made last year to facilitate double taxation adjustments. Deputies will remember that the rate of corporation profits tax was raised from 15 per cent to 23 per cent as from 1st April, 1966. The taxation position, however, of Irish companies was left practically unaltered because the whole amount of the corporation profits tax payable became an allowable deduction for income tax purposes. In fact, these were technical adjustments made for purposes of the double taxation arrangements with great Britain. The new system had little effect on the yield of corporation profits tax for last year, but of the extra £4.3 million for this year, to which I have already referred, £3½ million is due to this increase of from 15 to 23 per cent. There will, of course, be a corresponding diminution in the yield from income tax, but as the basis for assessment and the dates of payment of the two taxes do not exactly coincide, the incidence of the change is somewhat different for income tax. It is estimated that the reduction in the yield falling into 1967-68 will be something over £2 million. This, of course, is taken fully into account in the Budget Estimate of income tax receipts for 1967-68.

I have been, and I am sure my fellow Deputies on this side of the House have been, a little amused at the anxiety by which Opposition Deputies have sought an admission that there will be no supplementary Budget introduced this year. It is difficult for me to know what to say about that. First of all, should I take it seriously as a genuine Opposition query or is it just another political smokescreen? However, I can assure the House without any hesitation that the Budget which I have introduced contains the very best estimate it has been possible for me to make of the year's revenue and expenditure. It is an honest attempt at an estimate of the next year's finances, taking into account all foreseeable revenue and calculating all foreseeable expenditure and providing for the two to balance as closely as we possibly can. I believe that supplementary Budgets should be avoided if at all possible and should only be resorted to in very serious circumstances indeed.

Our whole community, but especially business people, like industrialists, bankers, traders and so on, should be able to plan their year on the basis that changes or alterations announced in the Budget will be constant for at least 12 months. That is something to which they are reasonably entitled and they should be able in any year to plan their business on that expectation. Therefore, so far as possible, the Government should avoid having to have recourse to any form of supplementary taxation during a financial year if it can possibly be avoided. I do not think that any Minister for Finance in any Government in any country in the world can say at the beginning of the financial year—there will be no supplementary Budget this year.


Hear, hear.

But he can say——

That was not what he told you.

——and I can say, and what I do say to the House is, first of all, I do not think there will be any need for a supplementary Budget this year.


Hear, hear.

And, consequently, I have no intention of introducing one, unless there is an overwhelming need for it.


Hear, hear.

That is spelled out anyway.

He has covered himself very well.

Deputy Donegan and others were concerned about the question of bank credit. Deputy Donegan, in particular, suggested that the public programme as outlined, the capital Budget and the current Budget, might have the unwelcome effect of making less than sufficient credit available for the private sector. I feel I can assure him that he is being unduly apprehensive in that regard. The Government are fully aware of, and indeed have been stressing from time to time, the importance of there being adequate credit at the disposal of the private sector for investment. This is one of the major points which we took into consideration in settling the level of the capital programme for this year.

For next year the programme estimates that we will require about £25 million to be raised from the banks or by foreign borrowing. I said in my Budget speech that sufficient credit should be available within a balance of payments deficit of about £20-25 million for the continuation of productive development by the private sector. That is the best estimate of the situation we can make. If it appears during the year that the public sector demand for bank resources cannot be fully met in this context then we will not hesitate to resort to a limited amount of foreign borrowing so that the private sector can be assured of its full requirements. I would hope that such a need will not arise.

Since I made my Budget Statement, Deputies will be aware that the Central Bank has advised the commercial banks of the extent to which they consider that credit expansion should take place in 1967-68, and the sectors of the economy to which that expansion of credit, in the main, should go. Perhaps, at this time I could read from the letter which the Governor of the Central Bank has sent to the Chairman of the Irish Banks Standing Committee in this regard. The relevant quotation from that letter is:

They accordingly advise that, in the year ending 31st March, 1968, the total amount of credit to the public and private sectors may expand by ten per cent of the amount outstanding at 31st March, 1967. This would make available additional credit of about the same amount as in 1966-67.

As Deputies know, this means in money terms an expansion of bank credit of about £40 million during the coming year. As I have said, we in the Government—the public sector—maybe seeking about £25 million of that increase, and we anticipate there should be sufficient available for the private sector for productive purposes. But we will keep the situation under close review and take action if it appears to us to be necessary to do so, to help make available additional resources to the private sector, in the form of bank credit.

I underline also the advice which the Central Bank has conveyed to the following effect:

It is requested that the Associated Banks will continue to bear in mind the requirements of the private sector of the economy and to give particular attention to the importance of encouraging productive activity and exports.

The apportionment of credit between the private and public sectors is not simply a matter of attempting to reduce the public sector to the greatest extent possible, so that the private sector can get more. I should like to remind Deputies that the public capital programme provides strong support, directly and indirectly, for private productive activity. As I pointed out in my Budget Statement, about half of gross domestic fixed capital formation is attributed to the public capital programme and about one-third finances directly the creation of assets for the private sector. There is a very great degree of interdependence between the private and public investment programmes and the stimulus which public investment can give to private capital formation is, therefore, very important indeed.

The public capital programme for 1967-68 has been settled at £108,500,000, and has been calculated to provide the desired stimulus, while leaving adequate credit available at the disposal of the private sector. While I mention the capital programme, it brings me to a great deal of criticism which has been expressed here about our housing programme and the amount of capital which has been made available for it. A great deal of expenditure on housing is, of course, of a capital nature and is included in the Capital Budget. The main item of housing expenditure included in this current Budget is the local authority housing subsidy, which represents the State's contribution for the loans purposes of local authority housing. For the benefit of the House, I want to give some figures about capital expenditure on housing generally.

The provision in the capital programme for 1967-68 is £23.82 million. That is approximately £1,500,000, or 6.4 per cent more than the estimated expenditure for 1966-67, and nearly £2 million more than the original 1966-67 Budget estimate. Expenditure on housing has doubled in the past four years; from £12.1 million in 1963-64 to £23.8 million in 1967-68. The increase of about £1,500,000, to which I have referred, between the expenditure in 1966-67 and the estimate for 1967-68 is due mainly to about £800,000 for local authority houses and £400,000 for loans and grants for private housing. That is not a bad increase from one year to another. Expenditure on local authority housing, including Ballymun, for 1967-68 is provisionally estimated at £12,500,000.

Could the Minister say how much of that is applicable to Ballymun—how much of the total?

About £3 million. The increased allocation we have been able to make available this year, purely for local authority housing, will enable work to be started on a greater number of new dwellings than in 1966-67 and ensure that activity all round will be at a much higher level. Some 3,600 local authority dwellings, including Ballymun, were completed and handed over to the authorities in 1966-67, as compared with 3,000 in 1965-66 and 2,300 in 1964-65. I think the aim in our local authority housing programme should be to try to keep the volume of building and expenditure rising steadily over the years and not have great discrepancies as between one year and another, to try to have a consistent programme and, in as far as possible, eliminate slumps in industry.

The expenditure on loans and grants which we project for the construction and improvement of private houses is £10.76 million. The total output of private houses, of course, depends also on the availability of loans from insurance companies, building societies and so on. Deputy James Tully, in particular, claimed that the provision for private house grants this year is inadequate. I admit that the 1967-68 provision is £3 million net, which is less than the corresponding provision for last year. It is, however, £250,000 greater than the actual expenditure last year.

The Minister knows the answer to that: there was no money available from housing authorities or from the Local Loans Fund to build houses last year.

Nevertheless, the figure for this year should be adequate and, if it is not adequate, you can be quite certain the Minister for Local Government will not be backward in coming to me and looking for more money to make sure it is adequate.

Will he get it?

He will. Deputies will realise we have also, in this Budget, undertaken considerably increased expenditure, both on the capital and current side, for better educational facilities, hospitals and social investment of one sort or another. Indeed, as I pointed out in my Budget speech, we are planning, on the capital side, an additional expenditure of about £9 million this year and we have sought to divide that £9 million almost equally between social investment and productive investment. I think most Deputies will agree that that is a fair allocation in any economy such as ours, which we are seeking to develop in every way possible.

I have been looking at the most recent figures for unemployment and emigration and I am sure all Deputies will be glad to know that, despite some vague accusations made here, in recent months there has been a very substantial reduction in emigration. In the 12 months ended February of this year, the net outward passenger movement, by sea and air, totalled 18,300, as compared with 30,000 in the preceding 12 months. As explained in my Department's publication—the Review of 1966 and Outlook for 1967—net outward passenger movement figures have in recent years tended to exaggerate the actual emigration figures by about 40 per cent. This suggests that, in the 12 months ended February last, emigration amounted to about 11,000 or 7,000 less than in the 12 months ended February, 1966.

The Minister is aware that the Statistics Office had to make a correction before?

All these statistics have to be treated with reserve. The best estimate the Statistics Office can make at the moment would indicate that the net emigration figure was down by about 7,000 in the twelve-month period to a figure of 11,000. It may be a complete coincidence but it is significant that there is a corresponding increase of about 8,000 in our unemployment figures. That perhaps— though again I must emphasise that it is wrong to read too much into any particular coincidence of figures of this sort—could possibly be a reflection of the decline in emigration. In other words, it may be that the slowing down of economic activity in Great Britain has had the result of people not emigrating from here and thereby increasing the unemployment figures by the amount of the decrease in the emigration figures.

Of course, this question of emigration raises the whole matter of economic development, particularly in the west of Ireland. There is no doubt that the emigration problem springs to a large extent from the undeveloped 12 western counties. I want again to emphasise to Deputies that we have in this Budget sought to the greatest extent possible to strengthen the whole apparatus for the economic and social development of the West. I outlined in the Budget speech the various measures which have been introduced to help spur on this economic and social development of the West.

I hope the facilities which are there will now be widely availed of. As I said, we have still to rely a great deal on local effort. The machinery is now reasonably adequate. The financial provisions are fairly liberal. What is needed now are specific projects and undertakings. We want these to be undertaken as far as possible by local initiative at local level. I hope we will get plenty of them. As Deputies know, there is now a special development fund, to the credit of which we have put £250,000. It is my earnest wish that that will be used up during the coming year. If it is not, it will be carried forward until it is eventually used up. I hope sufficient activity will be generated throughout the 12 western counties to make sure it is widely used and, if at all possible, exhausted in supplementing productive projects throughout the area.

What are Gaeltarra Éireann going to do to help?

If the Deputy from Galway will come in and listen to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Gaeltacht when he introduces his Estimate, he will learn of important and very beneficial developments.

I heard them last year, too. I heard the bees but I do not see the honey.

I invite the Deputy to come in and listen to the Parliamentary Secretary. He will hear good news on a variety of matters.

Deputy Donegan also cast some doubt on the value of the depreciation allowance provisions which I made in the Budget. I think he is wrong in not regarding them as significant. I think they will have a very beneficial effect indeed. I want to point out two things in regard to them. First of all, the initial depreciation allowance—that is the allowance of 40 per cent instead of 20 per cent—which was due to end on 31st March next has been extended to 31st March, 1971. Secondly, it has been increased, of course, to 50 per cent.

I think these are two significant incentives in themselves. If you take an expenditure in respect of a piece of plant and equipment which would be entitled to, say, 15 per cent a year under the normal depreciation provisions, that 15 per cent can be added to the initial allowance in the first year and you can therefore get up to 65 per cent of the expenditure allowed against your profits in your first year if you so wish. I want also to mention this point, because I think it is significant, that this allowance of 65 per cent or 70 per cent or whatever it happens to be in the first year—the combination of the initial allowance and the ordinary depreciation allowance—is allowable on the gross cost of the asset without deducting any grant which the industrialist may receive from any source such as Foras Tionscal or otherwise.

This is a very important concession and I would hope it will be successful in its purpose of generating increased investment in plant and machinery, both from the point of view of getting new industries going and also from the point of view of re-equipping existing industry, getting rid of obsolete, out-of-date and inefficient machinery and getting in the most up-to-date plant available.

Deputies will realise these particular provisions have been further extended in so far as the 12 western counties are concerned. We are introducing to those counties for the first time a system of free depreciation. I would earnestly invite the attention of industrialists to this provision. It means that if they establish an industry in the 12 western counties they will be entitled, if they so wish, to write off the entire cost of that plant and machinery in any year they wish, whichever year is most advantageous from their point of view, the first, second, third or fourth year or whatever it may be.

Is that not the Swedish system?

Yes. Some questions have been asked about the increase of 12 per cent in public service pensions. One query was whether this would apply to local authority pensions. I am glad to be able to assure Deputies that it will. Of course, the granting of the increase will be a matter for each individual local authority, subject to the sanction of the Minister for Local Government. He will be issuing instructions to the authorities about this matter in due course.

I do not mind telling Deputies that, personally, I am particularly pleased about the introduction of the new schemes to make life a bit more pleasant for our old people. I really cannot understand how any Deputy, no matter how activated by political animus, would have the heart to criticise in any way either of these two provisions. However, I wish to reiterate exactly what is involved because I think it important that there should be no confusion about it and that people who will be entitled to these benefits in due course should know exactly what they are entitled to.

The first one is the provision of free travel on CIE services in off-peak hours. I want to emphasise that this applies to all old age pensioners and all blind pensioners. It will be introduced as soon as we can get the necessary administrative machinery working and it will be applied throughout the CIE network. It will be applied equally to buses and trains and there will be no limit whatever as to the distance that may be travelled. The only restriction will be that the old people will be expected to use this facility in off-peak hours, and I think that is fairly reasonable. There will be no great rigidity about this, but we would expect that the facilities will not be availed of in the rush hours when bus services, particularly, are heavily taxed.

Since we announced the provisions about the new scheme of free electricity for old people, many Deputies in my own Party have been in touch with me about this and have been pressing me about certain aspects of it. I am glad to be able to tell them that, after discussions with the Minister for Social Welfare, we have been able to expand a little on the concession as I first announced it, particularly in regard to the sort of old age pensioner who will now qualify.

Deputies know that the concession will consist, first of all, of the abolition of the 11/- minimum tariff, and, secondly, of the provision of 100 units free electricity in every two-monthly period. I announced in the Budget speech that it would apply to households which consisted exclusively of old age pensioners, but on further reflection, taking into account the arguments which a number of Deputies on the Fianna Fáil benches have advanced, we have decided the following people will also be covered. First, where a household consists of old age pensioners only or blind pensioners, it does not matter how many of them there are—one, two, three—provided they are all old age pensioners or blind pensioners, the house or establishment will qualify. Secondly, where there is an old age pensioner living with his wife who is not an old age pensioner, that establishment will qualify. Thirdly, where an invalid husband or other invalid person ordinarily resides with an old age pensioner, that establishment will also qualify. Finally— and I think this is important—where you have an old age pensioner living with a child or children under 16 years of age whom he or she has to look after, that establishment will also qualify for this concession.

I want to repeat that both CIE and the ESB will be paid for these services by the Exchequer in so far as they are provided, and estimates can be made of how much they will cost both organisations in any year.

I have been accused of endeavouring to mislead the House with regard to the adjustments which will be made in the financing of the new social welfare benefits. The Leader of the Fine Gael Party went so far as to say that the Budget was faked in this respect. I want emphatically to refute these allegations and I will simply refer the Deputies who have made them to my Budget Statement. I want to read from that Budget Statement again because I think it is important. On page 33 I said:

The taxpayer here is bearing a high ratio, by international standards, of the cost of social welfare. In the first place, assistance services, which are financed wholly by the Exchequer, represent a high proportion of our total outlay. Secondly, even in the case of insurance services the Exchequer bears a higher proportion of the cost than in Britain or the European countries generally. When the unified social insurance scheme was instituted in the early 1950s, the intention was that the taxpayer would contribute about one-third of the cost of social insurance. In fact, however, his contribution has been nearer to 40 per cent down the years. The extension of the duration of unemployment benefit, which will lead to a saving on unemployment assistance, is a step towards the goal of more comprehensive insurance cover with a lessening of our dependence on means-tested assistance schemes. It is proposed also to make a modest adjustment in the proportion of the Exchequer contribution to the insurance services by putting the cost of the extension of unemployment benefit and slightly more than two-thirds of the cost of rate increases on the insurance contribution. This should go some way towards achieving the apportionment of cost between contributors and the Exchequer which was originally envisaged.

The details of this will be announced in due course by the Minister for Social Welfare when he comes to introduce the legislation to give effect to the proposals in the Budget.

There has been a certain amount of loose talk about our expenditure on health services during the coming year. I feel that Deputies who have been talking like this must not have been in here to hear the Minister for Health a few weeks ago when he dealt with the subject comprehensively in replying to the debate on his Estimate. I do not think it necessary for me to add to what he said on that occasion, except to point out, as an indication of the progress which the Government have been achieving in raising the general standard of our health services, that the total expenditure of health authorities increased from £27.8 million in 1964-65 to an estimate of £36½ million in the current year, an increase of almost £9 million. That is a big increase on the health services, in the context of our total Government expenditure, but perhaps even more important than that total increase of £9 million is the fact that the Exchequer contribution has increased by £6.4 million.

Deputies know that part of this increase of £6.4 million is due to the change in the arrangements under which health costs previously were shared evenly by the Exchequer and the health authorities and under which the Exchequer is providing almost £2 million of supplementary grants, in addition to the normal 50 per cent grant. The result of that in this year is, as the Minister for Health has already pointed out, that the Exchequer will be contributing about 55 per cent of the total cost of the health services. Can you imagine the song and dance the Coalition Government would have made if they had transferred an additional five per cent of the health burden from local authorities to the Exchequer, but when we do it, all they do is to criticise us for doing it.

Deputy Sweetman referred to the general question of the adoption of mechanised procedures by the Civil Service and, in particular, to the computer used in the office of the Revenue Commissioners. I indicated in my Budget Statement that every effort was being and will continue to be made to adopt the most up-to-date administrative accountancy procedures throughout the Civil Service, and, in particular, full use will be made of computers where possible.

The Revenue Commissioners are criticised by many people from time to time, and I want to avail of this opportunity now to pay them a tribute for their progressive-mindedness in this regard. One of the first, if not the first, full-scale electronic computers to be installed here was installed by the Revenue Commissioners. It is now being used, not as a receipting machine as was suggested, but for the assessment, collection and control of all income tax, surtax and corporation profits tax, and for the collection and control of turnover tax and wholesale tax. As far as I am aware, no other revenue administration elsewhere is as fully mechanised at this point of time as our Revenue administration is. Not content to rest on their laurels, the Commissioners have ordered a new and more powerful installation. This will be delivered in July next. With this new computer, mechanisation procedures will be extended to PAYE, the annual preparation of certificates of tax-free allowances and the end-of-the-year review will also be done electronically. In addition, the payroll of the Revenue Commissioners' staff will be computerised.

As in the case of the first computer, there will probably be teething troubles, but that is a common experience with most new computer installations. The installation of this machine will undoubtedly contribute considerably towards greater mechanisation and increased efficiency. I am very much in favour of an extended use, where appropriate, of mechanised procedures throughout the public service and we are doing everything we can to foster this. Indeed, there is a special branch in my Department charged specially with this task. Again, for the benefit of those Deputies who have hard things to say from time to time about Revenue, when this new computer is installed, all the processes connected with the computation, assessment, collecting and accounting of taxes will be completely mechanised. We will, I understand, be the first country in Europe to do that, and that is no mean achievement.

If we could get some of the smaller machines down the line that would be a help, too.

We shall do all that. Deputy Clinton and others talked about the pilot areas. I confess I do not understand this criticism of the pilot areas. When I was in Agriculture, I was absolutely convinced that the pilot area approach offered a real solution to the problems of western agriculture. In the past few years in the pilot areas, we have worked out a system of approach which will ultimatetly be capable of being extended throughout the whole 12 western counties and will, I hope, offer a solution of the problems which exist there.

We have been keeping an eye on the progress made in these pilot areas. As a result of experience, and especially of a special progress report which was prepared, it became clear that the next big job in these areas is a job for the Land Commission. It is the job of structural reform. Whereas the agricultural answers have been worked our fairly satisfactorily, there is a limit to which these can progress unless the problems of structure are tackled and solved. The Government have therefore decided that the Minister for Lands should be authorised and equipped to make an all-out intensified drive directed towards solving these structural problems. This pilot area drive is a preliminary to a full-scale assault on these structural problems in the west as a whole.

The Minister proposes to use all the powers available to him under his new Land Act, including the take-over of derelict land, unworked farms and so on. In addition, the Government are providing for him in the Budget an extra £200,000 to enable him to get on with the task during the current year. As Deputies will have noticed, he has already taken preliminary steps to get this work under way. I do not want Deputy Jones to be misled by the word "survey" in the speech of the Minister for Lands the other day. The Minister's staff are already well aware of the problems. The survey in this particular instance is a survey with a view to immediate action and to getting on with the intensified effort in the pilot areas. The £200,000 made available in this Budget is over and above the normal estimate of the Minister for Lands. In fact, his Estimate as published had already been increased, at his request, to enable him to carry out a considerably expanded programme during the current year. This extra sum is being made available over and above, to enable the Minister intensively to tackle the problems of land structure in the pilot areas. I hope I am not being unduly optimistic but I believe that between the existing intensified agricultural effort by the advisory services and the effort which is already going into these pilot areas, plus this intensified drive for structural reform, we will devise a satisfactory solution to the problems of the small farm type of agriculture predominant throughout the West.

Deputy Sweetman asked me about the position in relation to Part VII of the 1965 Act. It is my intention to honour the undertaking given by my predecessor with regard to these particular provisions. It is true, I am afraid, that the provisions as framed have resulted in a great deal of difficulty for many people and have undoubtedly been responsible for some inhibiting of industrial and commercial development. I want to solve that problem. I know Deputy Sweetman appreciates it is not an easy problem to solve. I want to ensure that those engaged in the business of dealing in land and property, in building and development, will be liable in full to the last penny on the profits they make on their business operations. On the other hand, I want to try to ensure that the casual profits of persons not engaged in the business of dealing in or developing property or building will be exempted to the fullest extent possible. Deputies will appreciate that the difficulty here is to distinguish between the genuine casual profit, as we understand it, and various devices.

I think there is general agreement that the problem should be tackled in this way. It will not be possible to have amending provisions ready in time for the forthcoming Finance Act, but I intend to deal with the matter in a Miscellaneous Provisions Bill in the autumn. As I have indicated in my Budget Statement, any relieving provisions will be retrospective to 1st April, 1965.

Would the Minister like to amplify whether he is going to repeal Part VII and bring in an entirely new section or whether he is going to amend Part VII leaving out part of it?

I have not finally resolved that question in my own mind. I must admit that frankly. It is a question of which can more appropriately achieve what we wish to achieve. It may be possible to achieve our objective by amending the existing Part VII but as Deputies will realise Part VII is fairly complicated as it is and the amending of it would result in a fairly complicated situation, even though the overall effect would be of a relieving nature. There is that consideration. I have no doubt that the abolition of Part VII and the substitution of a completely new provision, if such could possibly be devised, would be preferable. However, this is a decision which I have not as yet finally taken.

Does the Minister anticipate that he will be in a position to make an announcement in greater detail before the autumn?

Yes, I hope so.

Would the Minister endeavour to get the Bill circulated anyway before the recess?

I will consider that.

I am not holding the Minister to that, I am asking him to endeavour to do it.

I will certainly try to do that. I feel it is important with a complicated measure of this sort that Deputies should have an opportunity of considering it for as long as possible at their leisure.

And getting outside opinion on it.

The prospect of Deputy Sweetman on the beach at Ballybunion with a Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, studying it——

I took a worse Bill to another place where the Minister was once.

Deputies will be aware that in the past year or so considerable changes have been effected in our financial institutions. Not only have the existing Irish banks come together in mergers which make for greater strength and efficiency in each case and protect this important sphere from foreign domination but new investment banks, both native and foreign, have been set up to provide wider facilities for our expanding economy. This evolution, of course, is welcome. It is important to encourage it and to make sure it moves along the right lines. During the past year, we have had the benefit of some outside comment on the changing scene. In particular, I would refer Deputies who have not already done so to read carefully a paper which was prepared by Doctor Hein of the US Federal Reserve Board, a paper which he prepared for the Economic and Social Research Institute on Institutional Aspects of Irish Banking. This paper contains a number of interesting suggestions which merit and will receive further consideration. I think we would all be in favour of evolution and change in our financial institutions which would make them more flexible and enable them to provide an increasing range of services to meet the needs of a developing economy.

The Minister need not worry. He will not be met with the same type of cartoon as he met with some months ago.

Deputy Cosgrave purported not to be satisfied with the progress we have made towards the development of an incomes policy. I want to assure the House that the future development of our economy is far too dependent on the success of such a policy for any of us to be satisfied with the progress that has been made to date. I should have thought that the repeated references that have been made by Ministers to the necessity for ensuring that increases in incomes follow and do not precede increases in productivity would have made it clear that the Government are by no means complacent about this matter.

I do not think Deputy Cosgrave does the aims of incomes policy any service by suggesting that nothing has been done by the Government so far nor by the way in which, in pressing his argument, he appears to minimise the difficulties involved. An incomes policy embracing all categories of income must have effective co-operation from the community at large unless recourse is to be had to very wide-ranging statutory powers. In our view, as a Government, it is worth spending a great deal of effort to get voluntary co-operation before considering any question of more drastic methods. This approach which in-volves gaining widespread appreciation of the fact that an incomes policy is something essential to our long-term economic well-being will take time. The NIEC dealt in Report No. 11 largely with principles and a number of its recommendations involved further examination and research before the necessary basis for decisions could be arrived at and that examination, I want to assure Deputies, is being pressed ahead by the various Departments concerned.

At the beginning of February, the Minister for Labour—as a positive measure to keep employers and trade unions fully aware of the economic background to negotiations on pay and conditions — published a comprehensive statement setting out the economic facts relative to the development of incomes in 1967. The Minister subsequently discussed the implications of these facts with both sides of industry.

On the prices front, the Government have, as I said on Budget day, extended the operation of the Prices Stabilisation Order, 1965. This, coupled with the development of freer trade with Britain should play a positive role in keeping prices and profits in check. I also mentioned that it is not really the amount of profits but the rate at which profits were earned that is important and here, increasing competition will have a very important part to play.

I also gave advance notice that legislation regarding the keeping of records of business and professional transactions will be introduced. That arises from an NIEC recommendation which was aimed at removing the dissatisfaction which was caused by a belief that some people in trades and professions can more easily evade income tax than wage earners and salary earners can. This is something that must be tackled if we want the wage and salary earners to voluntarily undertake the discipline of an incomes policy. They must not have a sneaking suspicion, whether founded or unfounded, that other sections of the community are getting away with less income tax than they should. With that in view, this legislation will be introduced so that everybody who carries on a business or profession will be compelled to keep records of that trade or business.

The NIEC also made the point that the removal of grievances as between wage earners and salary earners would result in a sounder basis for the successful implementation of an incomes policy. I agree with that and I want to tell Deputies of a decision which the Government have taken in regard to some of the less well off sections of workers in our community. Until recent times industrial workers generally have had no sick pay schemes and they had to rely solely on disability benefit provided by the Department of Social Welfare. Industrial employees of the State were in the same position. Important changes have, however, taken place notably the sick pay scheme which was introduced earlier this year for the construction industry. I feel rather than wait for sick pay arrangements to be introduced one by one in the various employments the time has come to bring in a common sick pay scheme for industrial workers in the State service. Therefore, the Government agree to a scheme for all those workers including forestry workers, civilian employees of the Department of Defence and the Office of Public Works——

Does that include agricultural workers?

All State employees. An outline of the scheme will be sent to the unions for their views.

I am glad also to say that the Government have approved a pension scheme for building trade workers in the Government service. Up to now they have had no occupational pension scheme. This follows on the discussions regarding the provision of a pension scheme in the building industry. Serving employees who at present are eligible for retirement gratuities will be given an option to join the scheme or remain outside it. New employees being recruited will automatically become members of the scheme when they have six months satisfactory service. The new scheme, I believe, compares very favourably with the scheme for similar workers in outside employment. I am sure it will be welcomed by the workers concerned and their trade union.

Is there any pension scheme for the other types of workers?

So far, it applies only to building workers in the Office of Public Works.

The Minister is aware that similar types of workers elsewhere are in fact joining such schemes?

Deputies, I am sure, have, from time to time, been approached about another matter also. At present, where an officer gives unestablished service, prior to his establishment in a Civil Service post, half of his unestablished service is reckoned for superannuation purposes. Many of the officers affected by this rule are persons such as messengers whose recruitment is initially in a temporary capacity and who later may secure establishment as a result of limited competition within the Civil Service. Representations are frequently made to Deputies and to the Minister for Finance in individual cases that greater account should be taken of unestablished service in determining pension in such cases. It was not possible to deal with such cases in isolation. A general claim on the subject has been before the Civil Service General Council for some time and, while I cannot anticipate the outcome of the discussions, I am hopeful than an acceptable solution will be found to this long-standing problem.

That will be very welcome in this House by both officials and Deputies.

Great things have happened in our time.

They have not happened yet but we hope they will.

There have been a number of references to the recent and highly important Report of the NIEC on Full Employment. In spite of all that has been said in the Report itself, quite a number of Deputies profess to believe that the Government have only to produce a plan, based on this Report, for full employment to be realised. The one thing the NIEC Report emphasised is that that is just not the case. The Report emphasised how much the attainment of full employment by the 1980s will depend on factors other than Government policy, in particular, on a significant and sustained change in the attitudes and actions of all sections of the community. More concern for the welfare of the whole community, more responsible, unselfish and dedicated commitment to this ideal, is a fundamental condition of success. The Government's part will be, first, to try to bring about this greater sense of interdependence, of the need for co-operation and for putting national above sectional interests; and, second, to frame their policies and programmes so as to contribute effectively towards the ultimate achievement of full employment. Economic programmes will, as far as realism allows, be aligned to the full employment target suggested in the Report. "Realism," in this context, includes the general climate created by the response of the whole community to the problems and choices indicated in the Council's report. It is now possible, in a programme of the Government alone to set out specifically to obtain full employment by any given date. The Report clearly indicates all the various things necessary in addition to the Government planning if we are to achieve full employment.

Deputy Dunne suggested that we are not really active with regard to manpower policy. The best reply to give him is to point to the Government White Paper on this subject which was placed before this House in October 1965. Its development since then is indicated by the steps already taken to achieve the objectives set out in that White Paper. The Department of Labour was set up last year. Since then, we have seen the passing of the Industrial Training Act to provide for the establishment of An Chomhairle Oiliúna and shortly a Bill to provide for redundancy compensation and resettlement allowances will be laid before the House. Arrangements are also being made for the setting up of a manpower forecasting unit in the Department of Labour. This will provide short and medium term forecasts of manpower requirements. It is quite clear, then, that, contrary to what Deputy Dunne suggests, the Minister for Labour is working actively on the formulation of a comprehensive manpower policy.

Probably the surest sign of the merits of this Budget is the amount of time Opposition Deputies, in debating it, have spent on the irrelevant matter of the fund-raising activities of the Fianna Fáil organisation. It is clear that, for them, this was a heaven-sent side-issue and the very eagerness with which they clutched at it is, in itself, a reflection of the soundness of the Government's budgetary proposals and the dearth of valid criticism to be levelled at them. Do the Opposition really think that they can discharge their duty in a Budget debate by this sort of thing? I do not think they can. I believe they have been guilty of a dereliction of duty in refusing to examine the merits of the proposals we have put before the nation and of seeking, instead, to throw up this political smoke-screen because that is what all this talk about Taca really is.

A political organisation, like any other body which seeks to achieve anything worthwhile, must move with the times and, in Fianna Fáil, we have always done that. In common with most other voluntary organisations, we have found ourselves, to an increasing extent, faced with a need to find new ways of raising money. Many Catholic parishes in Dublin, for instance, faced with spiralling costs, have adopted a system which is known as "planned giving". Every day, we can see from our newspapers different schemes and new methods for fund-raising by different organisations.

Anybody in a voluntary organisation today who is faced with the very difficult task of looking after the finances of that organisation knows how increasingly difficult this task has become.

I would not tell them all about it. I might want to do it myself.

I will tell them a few things. In our case, our national collection for many years has been barely adequate to meet our annual running costs with no margin at all to spare to provide funds to fight elections. It would be unthinkable and a negation of democracy if a political Party like ours, or Fine Gael or Labour, for that matter, were denied the opportunity at election times of putting their policies and programmes fully and adequately before the people by all the media available so that the people, fully armed with all the necessary information, could decide on the relative merits of those seeking their support.

I recall some few years ago an announcement by Fine Gael, in connection with a re-organisation drive on which they were embarking, of the establishment of a fighting fund for election purposes. As a political Party, we are perfectly entitled—indeed, there is an obligation on us—to do that and that is all we wish to do. These people who pretend to see something sinister in our organising ourselves to provide funds to fight elections are doing a disservice to our political institutions. The people who have come together in Taca to help to raise money for our election funds have no other end in view. The vast majority of them are members of our Party and so were their fathers before them. They have been subscribing to us for years. They want nothing from Fianna Fáil but good government and that is all they will get. It is quite absurd for Deputies to go through the pretence of suggesting that they can gain in any material way, even if they so wished.

Fortunately, the administration of this country, due to the high standards set and maintained by generations of administrators and politicians—I give them all credit—who have looked after our affairs since we first achieved self-government, is completely watertight. All the procedures in regard to the purchase of goods and services and the awarding of contracts are by now firmly established and rigidly controlled. No one knows better than ex-Ministers on the other side of the House that a Minister never sees a tender or a contract document and if he is wise, he does not want to.

He used not.

He does not; he never did; and he never will.

Indeed he does.

All these things are dealt with by official machinery.

There used to be a contracts committee but you took it away.

That is not true.

It is true.

They are dealt with by well-established, watertight procedures. We are proud of the fact that a number of people think it important for our country that our organisation should be provided with the funds necessary to fight a general election campaign whenever this is necessary, and are prepared to raise such a fund. We knew full well that no matter what we did in this regard we would be attacked. If we had decided to run raffles, or bingo, or dances, or excursions to the Isle of Man, there would have been this same sniping.

I can assure the House that there are no £100 a plate dinners; there have not been; and there will not be. This new group will organise the type of political, educational and social functions we have always held for our members and supporters. There is no secrecy. The president of our organisation gave a clear outline of our financial position at our Ard-Fheis last November, and pointed out clearly that with mounting costs new methods of fund-raising were necessary and appealed for support from our supporters for this purpose. Shortly afterwards a group of young men prominent in business and commercial life accepted the invitation extended by the president and announced that they intended to help and were inviting all who shared their beliefs to help in the cause because they believed that prosperity and progress in our country demanded the keeping in office of Fianna Fáil.


Hear, hear.

They published their names and still make no secret of them. I suggest that Fine Gael should stop codding themselves about this whole matter. I have already said that experience in public life has taught me one lesson in particular that is, always to distrust the man who is always parading his own virtues and shouting corruption at others. Does everyone not know that when a general election comes, Fine Gael and Labour have to fight it the same as we have, and have to spend roughly the same amount of money? Indeed, I venture to suggest that during the Presidential election campaign Fine Gael spent more money, by and large, than we did.

I wish we had it to spend.

Where did you get it?

Is it not obvious that when a general election comes around, all the Parties have to raise roughly the same amount of money to fight roughly the same type of general election? We will continue to do this. We are not ashamed of it. We think it is a necessary exercise in democracy.

I want to conclude by saying that sometimes there is a misunderstanding about appeals which I myself and my colleagues in the Government make from time to time calling for greater effort from our people. We appeal for increased production and increased efficiency but we do not see these things as ends in themselves. We are simply asking the people to help to build up our country so that we can provide better facilities and better amenities for them, better education, better cultural facilities, better health services, and better social welfare provisions, better protection against old age and misfortune—better housing. That is the purpose of the appeals we make for increased productivity, increased efficiency, and increased effort all round. I can give this assurance to the House and to all concerned. When we get increased resources and as they become available, Fianna Fáil true to their historical social traditions, will lead in seeing that they are used for the benefit of all our people in equal measure. I hope this Budget will be looked on as another step along the road to the economic and social development of our country—an aim to which Fianna Fáil are dedicated now as always.

Question put and agreed to.

That shook you.

It must be better than we thought.

Poor Deputy Booth and Deputy Molloy had to speak on Thursday because they did not know what was going to happen.

Financial Resolutions Nos. 1 to 4, inclusive, reported and agreed to.