Financial Resolutions, 1981. - Financial Resolution No. 9: General (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:
That it is expedient to amend the law relating to customs and inland revenue (including excise) and to make further provision in connection with finance.
—(The Taoiseach)

While we welcome the additional money for social welfare services provided in the budget I must protest about the matter Deputy Mitchell has been raising and that is the non-payment and lengthy delays in payment of social welfare benefits. To illustrate the point and the grave hardship that is being caused I should like to bring yesterday's and today's Order Paper to the notice of the House. Questions Nos. 315 to 343, a total of 28 questions which are for written answer, deal specifically with the matter raised by Deputy Mitchell — non-payment of social welfare benefits, primarily disability benefits to people who are out of work due to illness or some other disability. In the oral questions on page 287 of yesterday's Order Paper there were something like 20 similar questions from a variety of Deputies asking the reason for delay in the payment of disability benefits. Most of these questions are from members of the Opposition.

Deputy Pattison of the Labour Party listed approximately 15 or 20 questions on yesterday's Order Paper. There are also questions from Deputy Robert Molloy of Fianna Fáil. Surely Deputies do not put down Parliamentary Questions without good reason. The reason we have such a barrage of questions in this sphere is that Deputy Mitchell's assertion is quite correct. There is an inordinate delay in the payment of benefits. Those of us who hold clinics in constituencies each week-end know well the magnitude of the problem. People are virtually hungry because they do not receive benefit in time. It is not unusual for a constituent to tell one that he, his wife and family have not received payment for six, eight or ten weeks. It is a run of the mill complaint which should not be tolerated. How can anyone justify delays like that?

The Minister, Deputy Woods, has told us the delays are largely due to the fact that people do not supply their correct social welfare number, whether it is the new or old number. I can vouch for the fact that the vast majority of people supply the correct number and details. There seems to be a deliberate attempt to slow up the outflow of cash from the Department of Social Welfare. The delays have been the subject matter of questions raised repeatedly in the House over the last three years particularly by Deputy Crotty and other Labour and Fine Gael Deputies. The situation has not improved. Writing to the Department is a waste of time and one may as well ring Santa Claus at the North Pole as ring them. One cannot get through. For anyone who wishes to check, the relevant number is 786444. We all know that number off by heart. The chances are one will not get through at all but if one does one will have to wait a considerable length of time before one's case is dealt with. How can we expect poor people down the country using public telephones to spend half a day trying to get through and more than likely end up with no satisfaction whatever?

The Government should show compassion for such people. It is the most striking thing for any of us doing constituency work at present, and the Order Paper before us illustrates this. It is bad enough to have Deputies Pattison, Liam Burke and Kenny with a whole list of them but when one sees Members of the Government Party — and specifically Deputy Molloy — with a whole list of similar questions it means there is no magic formula, that every Deputy in the House is experiencing the same problem. It is not good enough and I fully back up Deputy Mitchell's plea here today that the matter should be discussed on the Adjournment. But as that request has been turned down, I feel obliged to discuss it on the budget debate.

What is the point in providing for vast social welfare increases in this year's budget if we cannot pay existing allowances. It is all right to say that they will get it eventually but people are going hungry and nobody seems to care. The Minister tells us he has gone to the trouble of placing an advertisement in the national and local press and on television explaining to people how to go about claiming. I am sure the bulk of people claim properly but it appears that there is insufficient staff in the Department of Social Welfare and/or a deliberate policy on the part of the Government to slow down the outflow of cash.

One might well ask: why should the Order Paper be clogged up with dozens, if not hundreds of such questions, whether they relate to social welfare, reconstruction grants, solid fuel conversion grants, new house grants or similar payments? It is clogged up because the ordinary representation made by a Deputy is not receiving prompt attention. The delays involved could amount to weeks or even months before a definite reply to the original representation is given. Therefore the last resort of Deputies is to put down Parliamentary Questions because there is no other hope of a satisfactory result within a reasonable period. We all understand that it constitutes a vast volume of work. But where disability benefit is involved a reasonable period would be a week or two weeks at the very most. That is why we are forced to put down Parliamentary Questions to get the money from the Department, or shame the Minister into giving a reply to the House here showing up that there is a deliberate policy in the Department to stop the outflow of cash, or that there is insufficient staff in the Department to cope with the volume of work. Of course the answer from the Government benches may be: "They can go along to the local assistance officer". There is a new name for them now——

The community welfare officer.

The community welfare officer dishes out the supplementary welfare allowance which is supposed to cater for people who have not received their entitlement. In other words that constitutes a sort of bridging loan. But a lot of people are too proud to do that. Irish people are peculiar in that way in that they do not like to go along looking for a hand-out, which is how they regard the supplementary welfare allowance. They feel they are entitled to their disability benefit — which of course they are — or their old age pension, or whatever the allowance may be. They feel they should not have to look for this supplementary welfare allowance which is generally ment to cater for people who are down and out, people who are in extremely poor circumstances, not a person who may be out of work temporarily because of illness or injury. Such a person does not feel that he or she should have to look for a hand-out. Notwithstanding that fact those community welfare officers do a very good job, probably the most thankless one in the country. I find they carry out their duties generally in a compassionate manner. But it should not be their problem. There must be a shake up in the Department of Social Welfare. It minimises the value of major increases in the budget if the existing allowances are not being paid. We welcome these proposed increases but we want to see these benefits being paid in good time.

At the outset of my contribution yesterday I referred to the fraudulent manner in which the Book of Estimates had been drawn up. Fraudulent is the only word that can be used in this respect. As we all know, the budget is based on the Book of Estimates and should constitute the country's annual housekeeping plan, informing the public what money is available in the forthcoming year and how that will be raised. I contend that the Book of Estimates for the current year setting out the various amounts for the different Departments is not realistic and everybody so admits. All the financial correspondents and economists know that the figures do not add up. We know they did not add up last year, and the Estimates have been cut to a considerably greater degree in the current year. We must remember that the Supplementary Estimates introduced in this House last autumn amounted to almost £300 million. There is no doubt but that those Supplementary Estimates which will have to be introduced in the current year will greatly exceed that figure and are more likely to approach the £1 billion figure, perhaps even in excess of that, but in any event they will be vast. That is why I contend the budget, as presented to us, is thoroughly dishonest.

Let me give another example, there is mention in the budget of an investment in the public sector from the private sector of an amount of £200 million. Let us face it, that is not on, it is a fairytale. Possibly one could achieve an investment of the magnitude of £40 million or £50 million but even then one would need to be very optimistic and that would be the maximum that could be reaped from the private sector. But the budget tells us that there is provision for an investment from the private sector of £200 million. That is a fairytale and relieves the Government of the obligation of raising revenue to the extent of £200 million, just at the stroke of a pen. I contend that is thoroughly dishonest. Anybody who read the articles of Paul Tansey, the economist, in The Irish Times on 29 January last, the day following the budget, will remember that he alluded to that very point, contending that it was utterly ridiculous and not at all realistic. Rather is it a cosmetic operation to shore up the budget, making it look better than it is in reality.

Indeed if one goes through the Book of Estimates one will find discrepancies and vast underestimation in the amounts for each Department in the current year. Indeed various spokesmen from both my own and the Labour Party have pointed to these deficiencies. I heard Deputy O'Keeffe point out yesterday that there was no way in which the Department of Justice could carry on with the Estimate it had been allocated, but that it would have to be considerably larger. I want to refer now to the Estimate for the Department of Transport, in particular the amount of the subvention to CIE for the year 1981. We are all aware that CIE's deficit in 1980 amounted to £70 million. The Book of Estimates tells us that the subvention for CIE in 1981 will be £65 million, constituting a reduction of £5 million, that notwithstanding the fact that there has been negotiated a national understanding giving a 16 per cent increase to all employees. We have a £5 million reduction in the amount being provided for CIE.

Let us face it, it is a misnomer, it is dishonest and there should be a public admission of that. If this present Dáil were to go on until September or October we would be flooded with Supplementary Estimates. They would probably start arriving in August this year, the shortfalls are so great. But obviously the Government's thinking is that they will have an election in the late spring or early summer and that they can wade in with an autumn budget or a vast number of Supplementary Estimates. But Supplementary Estimates or an autumn budget we will certainly have, because there is no way that a Government can go on more than seven or eight months with the amount of money which is being provided in this budget.

In referring to the £65 million provided for CIE, I asked the Minister for Transport last week how were CIE going to be operated on such a reduced figure, because as late as last night one of the leading trade unionists in CIE stated that it will take an extra £18 million to run CIE in the current year. So the figure should have been £83 million instead of £65 million. We all know it will be at least £83 million and not £65 million. But the Minister continues to waffle on the subject and to pretend that CIE are going to survive on £65 million. That is not a realistic assumption. On 10 February I asked Deputy Reynolds how he envisaged that a reduction in the subvention to CIE from £70 million in 1980 to £65 million in 1981, as provided in the Book of Estimates, would be achieved. The Minister replied:

CIE are at present examining the measures necessary to contain subvention requirements within the limit of £65 million as provided in the Estimates for my Department. Decisions on the manner in which this is to be achieved must await the completion of the CIE examination.

Virtually two months of the current year have already passed and there have not been any magic wands waved. There have been no cutbacks in services, thanks be to God for that. There have been no increases in fares. So where is the extra money to come from? We know that it is going to come by means of Supplementary Estimates. Where are the reductions going to be made? Are certain services within CIE to be cut off? Are certain rail services or bus services to be curtailed or terminated? We are entitled to know because that is what the Estimate would indicate. This curtailment of services will be strongly resisted because such a policy is not in the national interest. It is not in the national interest for a variety of reasons. Obviously it will cause unemployment and this is a time when we are told that there is going to be an increase in the number employed, that there is going to be an all out drive for job creation, an all out drive to reduce the number of people on the unemployment register. How can there be if Estimates are cut back, services reduced and unemployment thereby generated? How can there be? It is a myth. It is totally unacceptable that there should be any reduction in these services.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Energy, Deputy Colley, has been touring the length and breadth of the country for the past four or five weeks telling the people how essential it is to conserve energy and to improve our balance of payments. Yet here we are being faced with a curtailment in CIE services whether it is on rail or road transport, particularly public buses. If we are to conserve energy surely it is logical that we should be making an all out effort to increase the numbers using public transport here whether it is on rail or on road. But the figure in the budget and in the Book of Estimates would indicate the very opposite. It would indicate that these services are being reduced and the sooner we have a clear explanation of these two contradictory policies the better, because they are contradictory.

The CIE services are obviously going to be reduced on the one hand and, on the other hand, the Minister is hell bent on saving fuel. That is a very praiseworthy objective and we all agree with it. Anything that will serve to save the amount of oil that we have to import is to be condoned to the fullest degree. I heard the Minister speaking in one of these brain storming sessions on the conservation of energy in Waterford last week. Not once did he mention a cut back on fuel consumption by a reduction in the use of the private motor car and the greater utilisation of public transport. It all had to do with the conservation of fuel in industry, notwithstanding the fact that one-third of the oil and petrol and diesel oil used here is used in the transport business. So, instead of advocating greater use of public transport and expansion of the public transport services, we are, according to this budget and this Book of Estimates, going to reduce these services. I would like very much to hear an explanation for that.

On the same day, 10 February last, I asked the Minister what was he going to do to provide facilities for the public using these transport services. I specifically related my question to CIE mainline services and the need for more passenger coaches and more and better rolling stock. I asked him for a commitment that the railway network in this country would be retained in its entirety. There was no such commitment forthcoming. I asked him for a commitment that new passenger rolling stock would be provided by CIE. There was no commitment forthcoming although the Minister did make a half promise. That is what is being sought by the CIE board of management for years past. The Minister's reply to the question, as stated in Volume 326, Column 1281, of the Official Report, was:

...I would envisage that the provision of rail coaches at Inchicore will be necessary. The scope and extent of the activities involved will depend on the decisions to be taken by the Government and on the long term role of the railway.

That would indicate that the Government are considering a reduction in the extent of the railway system in this country and because of that they are refusing to provide new railway passenger carriages. That is the only conclusion that I can come to from reading the answers to those Dáil questions. An area where there is vast potential for expansion in the use of public transport is the mainline railway services as well as suburban railway line services.

I went to the trouble some months ago of asking CIE a number of questions about their activities, and some of the statistics which I received are most illuminating. I want to use them to verify the backup of what I have been stating about the wish and the desire of travellers to use public transport more and more and to use their own motor cars less and less. It is only common sense. People do not want to pay almost £2 a gallon for petrol if they can get to their destination by public transport within a reasonable time and at lesser cost. The important aspect is to have a good, reliable, fast, punctual service, and the railways can provide this. I can come by rail from Waterford city to Dublin just as quickly as I could driving at breakneck speed. Any member from Cork will tell you that he can come by rail much faster than he can travel by car, even travelling by car at breakneck speed. Similarly people in the west of Ireland also can come to Dublin faster. That fact is borne out here in the set of statistics which I received from CIE. In 1970 the people who travelled by main-line rail numbered 9,900,000, slightly less than 10 million. By the end of 1979 that figure had increased to 17,800,000, a tremendous increase the House will agree, almost double the number of people travelling by mainline railway services within ten years, and that despite the fact that not just the quality but also the quantity of the coaches being used by CIE have deteriorated seriously. The number of passenger rail coaches in use by CIE in 1960 was 643 and by 1980 it had decreased to 348. It had almost halved. Of those 348 coaches currently in service with CIE more than half are over 20 years old. They were built prior to 1960. How long prior to 1960 I do not know. For all I know they could be pre-war, and we might even ask which war. As those of us who use public transport know — and I regret that the Minister opposite does not use it for obvious reasons, what with State cars——

I did for some years.

Yes, for many years, but I tell the Minister that things have not improved in the meantime. They are the same carriages, they have just got older like the rest of us. The point is that over half those carriages are over 20 years old and still the public have shown a distinct desire to use that form of transport. What would the increase in passenger traffic be if we had a really modern railway system in this country? I think it would be enormous, and that is the line that this Government should be pursuing. That is what the board of management of CIE have been asking repeatedly of this Government for the past three years, and every single time the answer has been "no, no money for rolling stock on the railways, not a shilling." It is a disgrace.

I will turn to the other very important aspect of public transport in this country, the Dublin city buses. The traffic chaos and the unsatisfactory service being provided by public transport in Dublin at present and for years past has really angered the public at large. They are fed up with the inadequate bus service and they generally blame CIE, and that is not where the blame lies. There may be a certain amount of problems within CIE, such as labour problems, management problems and operating difficulties; but the bulk of the blame lies in the fact that the Government have not made any proper effort to solve Dublin's chaotic traffic problems and people will not use public transport which cannot get them to work on time, which is not punctual and which is too slow to provide a reasonable service. CIE are not to blame for that. Something should have been done years ago to solve the chaotic traffic in Dublin.

A year ago in this House I welcomed a report commissioned by the present Government. It was brought in by the Transport Consultative Commission. It was brought in, a Cheann Comhairle, when you were Minister for Transport and it was you who commissioned that report. It is a very good report if it is implemented, but in this country for the last ten or 11 years we have had a plethora of reports. There must be a dozen, all good reports but not one of them has been acted on. Those reports spell out the problems and they spell out the manner in which they can be solved, but we have had no action. Dublin traffic chaos is greater than ever today, and that report has been out for just about a year.

To pinpoint what I was going to say about Dublin city bus services, the following figures will illustrate graphically the disillusionment of the public with the services being provided. In 1960 when the population of Dublin was much less than it is at present the number of people who used Dublin city buses was 245 million. By 1970 that number had decreased to 219 million. By the end of 1979 that figure had been reduced to 166 million. Despite the fact that the population had increased enormously we have had a decrease in the number of people using Dublin bus services from 245 million to 166 million. The Minister's bland explanation for that was that there is greater ownership of private cars. That is not the correct answer, because the number of cars has increased in the same ratio in Cork, Waterford, Belfast, Galway and Sligo but the number of people using public transport from those centres has doubled. In Dublin it has decreased. People are not using their own cars because they want to, they have no reasonable alternative. A real attempt must be made to solve the traffic chaos in Dublin. We should have a public transport system which will be utilised by the public, which will be a credit to us and which will not be a loss-making venture as it is at present. Last year, Dublin bus services lost £16 million. Ten years ago the service made a profit and it is a service which inherently should make a profit.

I would like to see the Minister for Transport getting out and doing something to improve this ludicrous situation. We are told that as a result of the report which you, a Cheann Comhairle, commissioned, something was going to be done. Nothing has happened except for the employment of a few extra traffic wardens. There was a task force set up to bring in interim measures to solve the chaos which exists at present. That task force has not reported, as far as I know. That is over six months ago. What is going to be done? We were told last year that bus lanes were going to be introduced, whereby people from the suburbs would be able to get into the city in 15 to 20 minutes. At present it takes an hour-and-a-half. I am told that the lanes will be introduced in April. On the other hand, I am told there is vigorous opposition from motoring and vested interests in the city, who do not want these lanes introduced. If they are introduced, they are obviously going to reduce the amount of road space for private motorists and this will probably cause more chaos than exists at present. I am not a traffic expert. I do not know which theory is correct. We thought bus lanes were a good idea but other people, such as the AA, are not so sure. They think it will create more problems than it will solve. The Minister's views on that will be extremely interesting.

The Government have not committed themselves to the excellent report on Dublin traffic which was published in 1975. It was a report commissioned by CIE in 1973. That report dealt with a rapid rail transit plan for the Dublin area. What happened to that plan? Has it been shelved? The Commission's report to which I refer did not really enthuse over the rapid rail plan, but it surely is the ultimate solution to the traffic problem in Dublin and to the Dublin public transport system. We need new rail lines. At present — I give credit to the Government for this — the Bray-Howth line is being electrified, which will provide a faster and more efficient service for people in that area. We need many more suburban electrified lines and the rapid rail plan outlines what should be done. We need lines to places like. Tallaght which is not served by a railway. We need a much greater utilisation of existing railway lines to major population centres such as Clonsilla, Blanchardstown, Maynooth and Leixlip. There are railway lines passing through some of those townships and it would be easy to add spurs to them. We need trains running every 20 minutes or half an hour or even more frequently.

The Government has made no commitment whatsoever to the implementation of the plan. If Dublin traffic problems are to be solved, a rapid rail plan will have to be provided for the greater Dublin area. I would like to see a commitment to that. That type of rail system already exists on the continent and in Britain. There was a most interesting article in The Irish Times about two months ago which illustrated a similar rail system for Newcastle-on-Tyne in the north of England which is a city comparable in size to Dublin. If the Minister would say, in principle, that the Government were going to do it over a phased period of even ten or 15 years, people would be reasonably pleased. They are obviously not prepared to invest money to solve the traffic problems in Dublin, improve the public transport system or to conserve fuel. At present, a vast amount of valuable fuel is used by people who are choked in traffic jams, spluttering along at three or five or seven miles an hour. We want free flowing traffic in the city and a public transport system which will be used by people to get them to work on time and home again quickly in the evenings. There have been no positive moves to bring about that situation.

I want to refer to the depression in the farming industry and to the disappointment felt throughout the country at the increases which were announced by the EEC Commission in Brussels yesterday. An average increase in price of 7.8 per cent is not acceptable to the farming community. They have seen no real growth in their incomes — they have seen a decrease — over the last two years, whereas during that period their input costs have gone up by about 40 per cent. To make ends meet they need an increase of 35 per cent in farm prices. Seven per cent can only be described as a derisory figure. It has been rumoured that we will get some special concession from the EEC in the coming weeks. The farmers need it. It is well known that when the agricultural sector is in trouble, every other sector in the country is run down. That is what is happening at present. It is not just agriculture which is suffering but every associated industry also. Almost every industry here is associated with agriculture. It is up to the Minister for Agriculture, to the Taoiseach and to the Minister for Finance to fight for these increases. When the Coalition Government were in power nobody fought better than Deputy Mark Clinton, the Minister for Agriculture in that Government who fought for good increases for farmers. It is the same in any line of business: you must show a bit of spunk, which is lacking in our negotiators in Brussels. It is like being a selector on a hurling or football team or a local representative. If you want to get what you think is right and what is necessary, you must fight for it. You must fight your corner. But that type of spunk is missing so far as the negotiators we are sending to Brussels are concerned. We should be getting a much better deal, a much better percentage increase because the special circumstances of the Irish agricultural industry should be recognised in Brussels.

During the week I had a letter from a constituent who happened to be a widow with seven children. This lady is a farmer whose valuation is in excess of £70. That is not unusually high in my county because of the land there being highly valued. She has experienced two disastrous years in farming. The figures she has produced can be verified. In writing to me she set out the demands that have been made on her in terms of rates and taxation. Though she has suffered a net loss for the year 1980, she has been asked to pay resource tax to the extent of £1,006.60p. In addition, her income tax liability has been estimated at £2,200 while her rates bill is £3,300, making a total liability of £6,500. Admittedly her farm is quite large but is not in the best of condition. Because she has not made a profit for the past two years, she will be exempt from the income tax payment but it is an outlandish situation that in her circumstances she should be faced with a resource tax bill of more than a £1,000 and a rates bill of more than £3,000. How can people in such circumstances be expected to make ends meet?

It may be said that there have been some concessions in the budget but these only go half way towards meeting what is necessary from external sources, leaving aside what we expect to get from the EEC. People in circumstances such as those I have outlined are being severely penalised by being asked to pay irrespective of their income. Something must be done to bring farm incomes to a realistic level. The cost of farming inputs has increased by about 40 per cent in two years. I am not making a plea on behalf of the agricultural industry solely. We must have regard to all those who are involved in the ancillary industries, all those people who are dependent on agriculture, whether they are employed in co-operatives, in meat-processing industries or various other support industries.

In the past couple of months, 2,000 people have been laid off by the meat-processing factories and the representatives of these factories say that this number will be increased considerably unless something is done to rationalise our farming system and to bring about a greater investment of money in the industry. On the support industries side, the situation is equally grim. I know of a number of farm machinery firms that have either gone to the wall or are about to do so. This is not surprising when we realise that in the past year, for instance, tractor sales have reduced by 60 per cent while farm machinery sales in general have decreased by 50 per cent. Sales of farm building materials are down by 60 per cent while cattle feed stuffs are down by 22 per cent and the sale of fertilisers is down by 12 per cent.

These figures speak for themselves. It is obvious, then, that productivity in the agricultural sector will be reduced for several years to come. The farming community have not sufficient money for investment in the industry. Therefore, we must make it our business to ensure that the necessary finance becomes available and that is why we must have people who will go to Europe and insist that the special circumstances of Irish agriculture are recognised. The only other source of finance for the industry would be by way of a diversion of resources from internal funds but that would affect other resources which are already stretched to the maximum.

In these circumstances I am saying to the Taoiseach, to the Minister for Finance and to the Minister for Agriculture that they must go out to Brussels and fight hard on our behalf so that they may be able to come back with something positive for the agricultural industry. Perhaps what is needed most other than major increases in prices is a reduction in the rate of interest on farm loans because loan repayments are crippling our farmers. How can our people be expected to compete with their counterparts in Italy, France or Germany who can avail of loans at interest rates of 4, 5 and 6 per cent? The rate here is between 17 and 18 per cent but last year it was as high as 21 per cent. In addition our farmers are getting only 60 or 70 per cent of the target price for beef and they are getting only 54p for a gallon of milk while their counterparts on the Continent are being paid more than 70p a gallon for the same product? We are playing by the same rules as the other members and selling on the same market.

We must ask what is to be done to stop imports of farm produce from other EEC and from third countries, imports which amount to nothing more than dumping. In my county of Waterford which is renowned for market gardening, an activity engaged in by many small farmers along the coast, the situation for some weeks past is that these producers have been ploughing vegetables such as cauliflowers, cabbage, potatoes and onions back into the ground because they cannot sell them. The same applies to the apple producers in the area. All of this is the result of our market being flooded with cheap apples and vegetables from other countries. What are the Government doing to protect such producers? The type of competition involved is highly unfair. Though there has been such competition for some years, no effort has been made to deal with the problem. All we are told is that objections have been raised with the Commission on the matter but we know that a number of years may elapse before the Commission take action. Many of the people I am talking of will be ruined financially before there is any solution to the problem. Refrigerated lorries make their way daily from this country to the Continent loaded with meat. They go out full and come back full also, but their return loads are made up of vegetables and apples from the continental countries. This is the produce that I refer to as cheap surplus vegetables and fruit which is saturating our market. This dumping must be stopped.

The Deputy must conclude.

Unfortunately, I have not been able in the time available to me to speak about fisheries and forestry.

The Chair cannot help the Deputy in that.

Bhí tamall ann agus mé ag éisteacht leis an Teachta do pháirtí Fhine Gael agus nár chreid mé i ndáiríre go raibh cónaí ar an mbeirt againn san tír chéanna. Sílim go bhfuil sé soiléir don phobal ar fad gur cáinaisnéis í an cháinaisnéis seo atá díreach curtha os comhair na Dála agus ós comhair an phobail roinnt seachtainí ó shin a dhéanann iarracht mhacánta le cothrom na Féinne a thabhairt do chuile dhuine agus do chuile aicme sa tír seo trí chéile. Is cáinfhaisnéis í a rinne iarracht cothrom na Féinne a thabhairt dóibh sin is mó atá ina chall. Beidh méaduithe suntasacha a mbeidh éifeacht leo ó mhí Aibreáin seo chugainn le fáil acu siúd atá ag brath ar íocaíochtaí leasa shóisialaigh. Beidh ardú 55 faoin gcéad le fáil acu siúd atá i dteideal íocaíochtaí leasa shóisialaigh fad-téarmacha agus ardú 50 faoin gcéad le fáil acu siúd atá i dteideal íocaíochtaí leasa shóisialaigh gearrthéarmacha. Ina measc siúd atá i dteideal íocaíochtaí leasa shóisialaigh gearrthéarmacha tá siad siúd in mo dháilcheantar-sa agus i ndáilcheantair eile in iarthar na tíre nach bhfuil acu ach feirmeacha beaga suaracha nach féidir leo slí bheatha ceart cóir a bhaint amach ar na feirmeacha sin agus atá i dteideal agus atá ag fáil le blianta fada anuas íocaíocht leasa shóisialaigh ar a dtugann siad féin an dole.

Tharla rud anuraidh go raibh ar go leor acu seo cur isteach ar an ardú. Creidimse i ndáiríre nár thuig go leor dóibh siúd a tháinig amach le fiosrú a dhéanamh ar an slí bheatha a bhí le fáil nó ar an teacht isteach a bhí le fáil ag na feirmeoirí beaga seo, cás na bhfeirmeoirí beaga seo. Ní raibh tuiscint cheart acu b'fhéidir ar an slí bheatha a bhí le fáil acu seo san mbaile. I mbliana tá áthas ormsa go raibh mise mar bhall den Rialtas a shocraigh nach mbeadh orthu cur isteach ar an ardú an bhliain seo ach go bhféadfaidís an t-árdú a fháil san am chéanna le chuile dhuine eile.

Anuas ar na híocaíochtaí sin tá ardú fresisn socraithe do mháithreacha ar fud na tíre do liúntais leanaí atá le fáil acu agus tá sé sóiléir gur ardú é seo a théann go mór i gcion ar mháithreacha na tíre gur airgead é dóibh féin le caitheamh ar mhaithe leo fhéin nó ar mhaithe lena gclann. I gcáinaisneis na bliana seo caite tháinig athrú réadúil ar chúrsaí cáin ioncaim na tíre seo do dhaoine pósta. Bhí costas an-mhór £227 milliúin in aon bhliain amháin ag baint leis an athrú réadúil sin a dhéanamh. Is fiú a rá nach bhfuil aon mhéadú i gcáin dhíreach sa cháinaisnéis seo agus go bhfuil faoiseamh eile san mbreis socraithe do lucht PAYE, mar a thugtar orthu, arís i mbliana.

Bhí an Teachta Deasy agus go leor do na Teachtaí a labhair roimhe sin freisin ag caint ar an gcaoi a caitear airgead a chuirtear ar fáil do na ranna Stáit éagsúla ina gcuid Meastacháin féin agus b'fhéidir nár mhiste a lua ag an am seo go gcreidimse agus ar ndóigh to gcreidimid ar fad atá i gceannas aon Roinn Stáit gur ar mhaithe leis an bpobal trí chéile a chaitear an t-airgead a chuir siad ar fáil ina Meastacháin féin.

Tá an-áthas ormsa gur éirigh leis an Rialtas breis is £23.5 milliún a chur ar fáil domsa do Roinn na Gaeltachta i mbliana agus mar atá a fhios againn ar fad caitear é sin ar mhaithe leis an nGaeltacht agus ar mhaithe leis an Ghaeilge agus creidimse gur ar leas an phobail agus ar leas na tíre a chaitear é freisin. Cuirtear an t-airgead sin ar fáil ar bhealaí éagsúla agus caitheann eagrais éagsúla é atá faoi chúram mo Roinnse, cuir i gcás an tÚdarás, Bord na Gaeilge agus roinnt eagras eile freisin. Ach ba mhaith liom ar dtús ceist amháin a lua, ceist atá mar bhun pholasaí ag Fianna Fáil ó tháinig siad i Rialtas den chéad uair sa tír seo. Sin é an polasaí díláraithe atá ag Rialtas Fhianna Fáil. Aontaíonn chuile dhuine pé acu ar anseo i mBaile Átha Cliath atá cónaí orthu nó thíos faoin tír gur céim mhór ar aghaidh é dílárú at bith ó Bhaile Átha Claith síos faoin tír agus mar sin ba chúis riméid domsa gur tharla sé le linn mo chuid ama féin mar Aire na Gaeltachta gur díláráraíodh páirt do Roinn na Gaeltachta ní h-amháin go dtí iarthar na hÉireann ach go dtí mo Dháilcheantar féin. I mí an Mheithimh anuraidh aistríodh aonad feidmiúcháin de chuid na Roinne ó Bhaile Átha Cliath go dtí oifig bhreá nua a tógadh d'aon ghnó le sin sna Forbacha i nGaeltacht Chonamara. Is amach as an oifig sin a théann íocaíochtaí uile na Roinne. Is ansin freisin a dhéantar an obair oifige a bhaineann le deontaisí tithíochta, deontaisí labhairt na Gaeilge, nó an deontas £10 mar a thugtar air, agus deontaisí freisin do mhná tí a choinníonn foghlaimeoirí Gaeilge.

'Séard atá ar intinn agam ná go mbeidh scéimeanna uile na Roinne á reachtáil, nó an beartas athshocraithe á chur i bhfeidhm, tríd an oifig sin agus nach mbeidh fágtha i mBaile Átha Cliath féin ach an chuid den Roinn ar a dtabharfar an Aireacht, is é sin an chuid den Roinn a bheadh ag cabhrú go príomha leis an Aire chun beartas a chruthú agus a fheabhsú. Tá sé beartaithe agamsa an obair seo a leanas a aistriú siar i dteannta leis an obair atá ar siúl cheana féin sna Forbacha, is é sin scéimeanna feabhsúcháin sa Ghaeltacht agus seirbhísí ilghnéitheacha sóisialacha agus cultúrtha, agus beidh mé ag súil leis go rachfar ar aghaidh leis an aistriú i rith samhradh na bliana seo.

Rud eile a thárla ó ceapadh mar Aire Gaeltachta mise ná gur tháinig eagraíocht ar an saol san Ghaeltacht ar a dtugtar Údarás na Gaeltachta. Le blianta fada bhí eagraíocht sa Ghaeltacht le cuidiú le forbairt tionsclaíochta sa Ghaeltacht ar ar tugadh Gaeltarra Éireann. Ba chéim ar aghaidh íontach gur tugadh seans agus deis do phobal na Gaeltachta ionadaithe dá gcuid fhéin a rugadh agus a tógadh san nGaeltacht agus a bhí ag obair san nGaeltacht a thoghadh ar Údarás daonlathach, agus sílim go bhfuil sé fíor-thábhachtach go dtuigfeadh daoine, nuair a tháinig Rialtas Fhianna Fáil i gcumhacht bhí ceithre bliana go leith de Chomhrialtas feicthe sa tír seo. Bhí ceithre bliana go leith caite ag an Aire Ghaeltachta a bhí ann ag an am ag caint ar an Udarás a bheadh ar fáil, ag rá go gcuirfeadh sé féin ar fáil é, go raibh an Bille réidh aige le cur os comhair an Rialtais agus os comhair na Dála. Ní maith le aon duine a bheith ag caitheamh anuas ar Airí Ghaeltachta nó aon Aire Rialtais eile ach tá sé chomh maith go dtuigfeadh an pobal an fhírinne agus go mbeadh a fhios acu nach raibh Bille dá leithéid réidh le cur os comhair na Dála faoin scéim a bhí le fáil sa Roinn féin nuair a tháinig Fianna Fáil i gcumhacht. Ní raibh sé i gceist go dtoghfadh pobal na Gaeltachta aon ionadaí ar an Údarás nua seo go daonlathach. Bhí sé i gceist go gceapfadh an tAire agus an Rialtas na hionadaithe seo, ionadaithe na Gaeltachta ar an Údarás. Níor ghlac Fianna Fáil leis agus ní chreidim go nglacfadh pobal na Gaeltachta le Údarás den chineál sin.

Tá an tÚdarás ann anois breis is bliain agus creidimse go bhfuil siad ag gluiseacht ar aghaidh chomh tapaidh agus is féidir leo ar mhaithe le cúrsaí geilleagair na Gaeltachta, agus ar mhaithe le dul chun cinn ó thaobh teanga, cultúir, sóisialachta agus gnéithe eile freisin. Bhí sé deacair ar ionadaithe dul i dtaithí ar an gcineál oibre a bhí ar siúl ag eagras Stáit den chineál sin. Thóg sé roinnt míosa i dtosach do na hionadaithe tosaigh, na baill ainmnithe agus an fhoireann istigh san eagraíocht dul i dtaithí a chéile, mar a déarfá. Thóg sé tamall le fáil amach cá raibh said ag dul agus le cinntiú gur i gcomhoibriú lena chéile a bheidís ar fad ar mhaithe leis an nGaeltacht.

Bhí tionchar, mar atá fhios ag chuile dhuine, ag an gcúlú domhanda ar chúrsaí eacnamaíochta na tíre anuraidh, ar chúrsaí forbairt tionscail sa Ghaeltacht mar a bhí san chuid eile den tír. D'ainneoin sin, d'ainneoin na gconstaicí iomadúla a bhíonn le sárú le tionscail oiriúnacha a mhealladh go dtí an Ghaeltacht, cheadaigh an tÚdarás cúnamh airgid do 21 mhórthogra agus 76 mhionthograí tionsceaíochta i rith na bliana seo caite. Meastar go gcuirfidh na tograí sin breis agus 1,200 post nua ar fáil do mhuintir na Gaeltachta amach anseo. Beidh os cionn £17 milliún le fáil ag an Údarás i mbliana agus caithfear roinnt den airgead sin ag tógáil réamh-mhonarchana anseo agus ansud ar fud na Gaeltachta agus, mar atá a fhios agaibh ar fad, i gceantair cosúil leis an nGaeltacht, atá níos faide ó na hionaid mhóra, na cathracha móra tionscail na tire, bíonn sé níos deacra ar an Údarás tionsclóirí a mhealladh le cur fúthu, tionscail a bhúnú agus fostaíocht a chur ar fáil sna ceantracha sin.

Mar sin, sílimse gur rud an-tábhachtach réamh-mhonarchana a chur ar fáil, mar cuidíonn sé tionsclóirí a mhealladh nuair a fheiceann siad go bhfuil foirgneamh, ar a laghad, curtha ar fáil agus go mbíonn lán tacaíocht le fáil acu, ní héamháin nuair a thagann siad chun tionscail a bhunú san Ghaeltacht ach go mbíonn an cineál sin tacaíochta le fáil acu i gconaí.

Mar sin, tá an dualgas atá ar an Údarás i leith forbairt tionsclaíochta fíor-thábhachtach, agus tá sé tábhachtach go dtuigfeadh daoine—b'fhéidir go bhfuil beagán mí-thuiscint ag roinnt de na Gaeltachtaí ar fud na tíre — gur féidir le duine a rugadh agus a tógadh sa Ghaeltacht tionsclóir atá ar imeall na Gaeltachta nó b'fhéidir atá cortha faoi sa Ghaeltacht féin aige, páirt a ghlacadh i bhfostaíocht sa Ghaeltacht. Tá dualgas ar an Údarás oifigigh forbartha a bheith acu i gceantair na Gaeltachta, agus tá oifigigh forbartha ar fáil sna Gaeltachtaí ar fad. Sílim go bhfuil mí-thuiscint in áiteanna éagsúla faoi sin agus ba mhaith liom an mí-thuiscint sin a ghlanadh as aigne an phobail. Ba mhaith liom a mhíniú nach mar sin an scéal.

Tá dualgas mór eile ag an Údarás freisin. Tá sé sin leagtha síos in alt 8 den Acht um Údarás na Gaelatchta, 1979:

Déanfaidh an tÚdarás caomhnú agus leathadh na Gaeilge mar phríomhmheán cumarsáide sa Ghaeltacht a spreagadh agus cinnteoidh sé gurb í an Ghaeilge a úsáidfear a mhéid is féidir nuair a bheidh a fheidhmeanna á gcomhlíonadh aige agus thar a cheann.

Tá fo-choiste ar leith ceaptha ag an Údarás le pleananna chun na críche sin a ullmhú. Mar thoradh ar obair an fho-choiste go dtí seo tá cabhair tugtha d'ógchlubanna agus ar fud na Gaeltachta agus tá cabhair tugtha do mhianraí ar fud na Gaeltachta. Tá cúnamh tugtha do ghníomhaíochtaí sóisialta, cultúrtha agus caitheamh aimsire agus tá caidreamh bunaithe le Bord na Gaeilge agus leis an Roinn Oideachais. Tá dualgas orainn uile muintir na Gaeltachta a spreagadh i dtreo go mbeidh fonn orthu cloí leis an nGaeilge agus í a chur chun cinn "mar phríomh-mheán cumarsáide" mar a luaitear san Acht: baineann sé sin go háirithe leis na ceantair beaga nó pócaí beaga sna Ghaeltachtaí oifigúla nach bhfuil mórán Gaeilge á labhairt iontu faoi láthair.

Chuir an tÚdarás béim ar leith ar na scéimeanna oiliúna d'ábhar bainisteoirí i rith na bliana mar bhí call mór ann, má bhíomar le Gaeilge a chur i réim ar urlár na monarchana féin, go mbeadh bainisteoirí cáilithe le fáil a mbeadh Gaeilge ar a dtoil acu. Tá sé soiléir i gceanntracha sa Ghaeltacht nach raibh traidisiún tionsclaíochta iontu go dtí blianta beaga anuas agus nach bhféadfá teacht ar na scileanna bainistíochta a bheadh riachtanach i dtionscail den tsórt seo. Mar sin, shocraigh an tÚdarás iad féin go gcaithfidís cuidiú le muintir na Gaeltachta na scileanna seo bheith ar a dtoil acu.

Tá líon na mbainisteoirí anois a bhfuil Gaeilge ar a dtoil acu ag dul i méid i gcónaí sna tionscail éagsúla, agus fáiltíonn muid ar fad roimh an dul chun cinn sin.

Tá comórtas ann ar a dtugtar An Comórtas Forbartha Pobal chun féin-mhuinín a chothú sna comhluadair áitiúla Ghaeltachta, ionas go mbeadh fonn orthu an cumas agus an mianach atá iontu a léiriú agus a gcion féin a dhéanamh ar mhaithe leis na ceantair ina bhuil siad ina gcónaí. Shocraigh an tÚdarás ar chomórtas nua a bhunú a mhairfidh ar feadh cúig bliana agus bhí áthas orm bheith i láthair ag ócáid a d'eagraigh an tÚdarás cúpla mí ó shin chun tacaíocht lucht gnó agus tráchtála na tíre le airgead a fháil uathu don chomórtas seo. Tá áthas orm go bhfuil ag éirí thar cinn leis an bhfeachtas sin agus go bhfiul cuid mhaith comhlachtaí tar éis pátrúnacht a dhéanamh ar ghnéithe éagsúla den chomórtas.

Is é ceann, sílim, de na scéimeanna is tábhachtaí atá á reachtáil ag an Roinn ná scéim na bhfoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge. Is é tá faoi cheist anseo ná go n-íocann mo Roinn airgead díreach leis na mná tí ar fud na Gaeltachta a choinníonn scoláirí as taobh amuigh de na Gaeltachtaí gur mian leo an Ghaeilge a fhoghlaim ar feadh míosa nó b'fhéidir dhá mhí sa samhradh. Tá an deontas sin méaduithe i mbliana go dtí dá phunt in aghaidh an lae, £14 sa tseachtain, ar son chuile dhalta a bhíonn ag chur faoi i dteach Ghaeltachta i rith cúrsaí Gaeilge. Ar ndóigh, ní bheadh éinne ag súil gur leor an t-árdú sin do na daltaí. Ní ón Roinn amháin a fhaigheann siad an t-airgead seo. Faigheann siad freisin é ón bpríomh fhuinse airgid, ó na coláistí Gaeilge féin. Tá súil agam go mbeidh luach saothair maith ag na mná tí ar fud na Gaeltachta as na coláistí Gaeilge seo agus go bhfaighidh na coláistí táillí dá réir ó thuismitheoirí ar mian leo a gcuid gasúr a chur chun na Gaeltachta.

Tháinig 18,500 dalta chun na Gaeltachta anuraidh agus tá mé cinnte go mbeidh líon i bhfad níos mó ann i mbliana. Má bhíonn socruithe éifeachtacha ann le cinntiú go mbeidh an comhoibriú atá riachtanach idir na mná tí agus na coláistí, tá mé cinnte gur chun leasú don Ghaeltacht agus don Ghaeilge a rachaidh na cúrsaí sin. Is íontach an deis a thugann sé do fhoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge a thabhairt isteach ar bhlas agus ar líofacht nádúrtha na Gaeltachta agus na Gaeilge trí chaidreamh le cainteoirí dúchais ina dtithe cónaithe féin. Ach tá easnamh bunúsach amháin sa scéim — tá sé ráite go minic agus go minic le blianta anuas — gur beag a dhéanann formhór Údaráis na gcoláistí seo le iar-chúram a chur ar fáil do na daltaí seo. Caitheann siad mí nó b'fhéidir dhá mhí san Ghaeltacht ina gcónaí agus ag labhairt le muintir na Gaeltachta. Agus bíonn a bheag nó a mhór den Ghaeilge agus de líofacht nádúrtha na háite acu agus iad ag dul abhaile. Téann siad abhaile agus b'fhéidir nach bhfeictear san Ghaeltacht arís iad go ceann bliana. Ba cheart go mbeadh sceim iomlán iar-chúram ar fáil do na daltaí sin sa chaoi go mbeidh siad in ann teacht le chéile ina muintir beaga anseo agus ansúd ar fud na tíre ó am go chéile i rith na bliana agus go mbeidís in ann an Ghaeilge atá foghlamtha acu i rith an tsamhraidh a chleachtadh ina measc féin go taithneamhach. Tá an cheist sin chomh tábhachtach sin go bhfuil mé féin ag plé bealaí ina bhféadfaí cur go mór leis na gníomhaíochtaí iar-chúraim atá ar fáil ag coláiste amháin nó b'fhéidir dhá choláiste faoi láthair.

Tá cúnamh á thabhairt do dhá nuachtán sheachtainiúla, Inniu agus Amárach. Athláinseáladh Amárach i mí Mheán Fómhair seo caite agus chuir lucht na Gaeilge, iad siúd taobh istigh den Ghaeltacht agus taobh amuigh de, fáilte roimh an nuachtán. Tá cúnamh á chur ar fáil freisin do na tréimhseacháin Ghaeilge An tUltach, Comhar, Feasta agus go leor eile Cuirim fáilte freisin roimh iris nua ar a bhfuil an teideal aisteach sin b'fhéidir “Mahogany Gaspipe”, mar is iris í sin a fhoilsítear gach dara mí agus is ar dhéagóirí na tíre atá sí dírithe agus mar sin nil amhras orm ach gur cabhair mhór í do dhaoine óga agus gur iris í a b'fhéidir cur léi agus feabhas a dhéanamh uirthi amach anseo.

Caitear go leor airgid — airgead a chuirtear ar fáil trí an gcáinaisnéis agus trí mheastacháin na Roinne ar rudaí a chuireann feabhas ar shaol na ndaoine sna Gaeltachtaí ar fad. Is é atá i gceist ann ná na scéimeanna feabhsúcháin éagsúla a bhíos á reachtáil ag an Roinn. Sin na bóithre áise, na bóithre portaigh, scéimeanna uisce agus séarachais a thuilleann deontais. Tá deontais fhorlíontacha freisin le fáil faoi na muirir iasachta, más scéimeanna réigiúnacha iad, suas le £150 in aghaidh gach teach más grúpscéimeanna iad. Bíonn deontais ar fáil do mhuiroibreacha ar fud na Gaeltachta le cuidiú le muintir na Gaeltachta a bhaineaann úsáid as céanna agus a bhíonn ag iascaireacht le slí bheatha a bhaint amach; deontais le hallaí agus ionaid spóirt a chur ar fáil sna Gaeltachtaí, rudaí atá fior-thábhachtach ní amháin do na daoine óga a bhfuil áis den sórt sin riachtanach agus ag teastáil uathu ach freisin do phobal na Gaeltachta féin i dtreo go mbeidh lár ionad acu i gceartlár a gceantair nó a ndúiche féin go mbeidh siad in ann teacht le chéile ar ócáidí thaitneamhacha agus caidreamh a dhéanamh lena chéile.

Anois, aon duine a dhéanas taisteal ar fud na Gaeltachta feiceann sé go bhfuil na tithe is áille sa tír seo ar fáil ag muintir na Gaeltachta féin. Déanadh méaduithe móra ó tháinig an Rialtas seo i gcumhacht san bhliain 1977 ar na deontais atá ar fáil do thithe na Gaeltachta. Agus tá sé tábhachtach, sílim, go dtuigfeadh daoine, nuair a bhíonn deontas á chur ar fáil nach dtugtar aon aird ar an teacht isteach a bhíonn ag an iarratasóir, ar an bpá a bhíonn aige, agus nach dtugtar aon aird ach oiread ar mhéad an tí. Mar atá a fhios againn, tá deontas 50 faoin gcéad níos airde dóibh siúd atá ina gcónaí ar oileán Ghaeltachta amach ón gcósta. Tá £1 milliún ar fáil i mbliana chun na deontais títhíochta a íoc, beagnach trí oiread na ndeontas íocadh i 1976, agus ní féidir a shéanadh ach gur chun leas an phobail agus na tíre agus na Gaeltachta atá an t-airgead sin ag dul. Ní airgead curtha amú é.

Os ag caint ar na deontais tithe atá mé, ní dóigh liom go bhfuil Teachta sa Teach seo, atá ann faoi láthair nó a bhí ann, a bhfuil páirt dá dháilcheantar ina Ghaeltacht — mé féin áirithe ina measc — nár tháinig chuig Aire na Gaeltachta ag am amháin nó ag am eile ag caitheamh anuas ar an mbealach nach bhféadfadh duine as an Ghaeltacht deontas tithíochta a fháil mura raibh sé ina chónaí sa Ghaeltacht agus ina cheantar féin fhad is a bhí an teach dá thógáil. Bhí daoine ag caitheamh anuas, agus mé féin ina measc, orthu siúd a phós cailín nó buachaill ó taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht nach raibh Gaeilge ar a dtoil acu agus nach bhféadfadh deontas tí a fháil dá bharr sin. Shocraigh mise nuair a tháinig mé isteach mar Aire na Gaeltachta go gcaithfimís athrú éigin a dhéanamh ar an scéim deontais a bhí ann ag an am. Thosnaíomar ar an athrú sin i lár na bliana. Thugamar isteach scéim chun cuidiú le muintir na Gaeltachta, dóibh siúd atá ag togáil tithe sa Ghaeltacht, deontas ar dtús a fháil ón Roinn Chomhshaoil, agus ansin deontas £800 sa bhreis ó Roinn na Gaeltachta. Iarracht bheag atá ansin le teallaigh a chuaigh ar aghaidh le tithe a thógáil nuair nach raibh siad, b'fhéidir, ina gcónaí sa Ghaeltacht, nó le cuidiú leo sinn nach raibh an Ghaeilge acu mar theanga theallaigh. Tugann sin deis dúinn iad siúd a spreagadh an Ghaeilge a labhairt níos minicí agus í a chur i réim ina gcuid tithe agus i measc na bpáistí. Níl anseo ach tús beag, níl ann ach athrú beag, ach ar a laghad táimid ag dul sa treo cheart; táimid ag cuidiú le daoine agus ag spreagadh daoine agus ag míniú do dhaoine go bhfuilimid sásta na deontais a íoc.

I gcáinaisnéis na bliana 1980 chuir an tAire Airgeadais ag an am £100,000 speisialta ar fáil domsa le caitheamh ar mhaithe le dul chun cinn na Gaeilge. Shocraíomar ag an am gurb é an bealach a bfhearr an t-airgead sin a chaitheamh ná ar chúrsa tarraingteach Gaeilge a bheadh ar mheáin chumarsáide na tíre, an radió agus an teilifís. D'iarr mé ar Údarás RTE ag an am a bheith ag cinntiú gur i bfhómhar na bliana 1980 a chuirfí amach an cúrsa sin. Bhí sé i gceist freisin, ar ndóigh, go dtabharfaí daoine le chéile anseo is ansúd ar fud na tíre sa chaoi go bhféadfaidís an cúrsa seo a chleachtadh ina mheasc. Bhí díomá ormsa nár éirigh le RTE é sin a chur ar siúl i bhfómhar anuraidh nó san earrach i mbliana. Ach mar a deirtear, is fearr go deireanach ná go bráth, ach beidh an cúrsa sin ag tosnú i bhfómhar na bliana seo, ach beidh an réamhchúrsa ag tosnú Lá le Pádraig. Níl amhras ar bith orm nó go bhféadfaidh an cúrsa atá beartaithe aghaidh an phobail a tharraingt ar an Ghaeilge, go mór mhór iad siúd atá bodhar ar a dteanga féin, agus nach airgead curtha amú a bheidh san £100,000 seo. Tá áthas orm a rá gur chuir an tAire Airgeadais an £100,000 seo ar fáil mar bhreis ar an airgead atá ar fáil i gCiste na Gaeilge i Roinn na Gaeltachta arís i mbliana. Creidim go bhféadfaidh an cúrsa seo tús a chur le feachtas úr nua ar mhaithe le cur chun cinn na Gaeilge.

Tá eagrais éagsúla sa tír seo ag cuidiú le dul chun cinn na Gaeilge le blianta fada anuas. Tá a lán acu, mar Chomhdáil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, Gael Linn, Conradh na Gaeilge, eagrais éagsúla den tsórt sin, agus cuireadh bord reachtúil ar bun i 1978, Bord na Gaeilge. Tá sé leagtha síos san Acht sin an Ghaeilge agus úsáid na Gaeilge mar theanga beo, mar ghnáth theanga cumarsáide a chur chun cinn. Is eol dúinn uile chomh deacair is atá sé beartas faoi leith aon teanga a chur chun cinn, a thabhairt chun foirfeachta agus a fheidhmiú. Bíonn sé riachtanach staidéar a dhéanamh agus smaoineamh a dhéanamh le na bealaí is féiliúnaí le úsáid na teanga a scaipeadh níos forleithne i measc an phobail. Tuigeann Bord na Gaeilge an cúram ollmhór atá curtha orthu agus baineann an dualgas sin—ní hionann agus an gnáthforas Stáit a mbíonn, cuir i gcás, réimse teoranta oibre leagtha amach dó— le mórchuspóir tábhachtach náisiúnta atá chomh fairsing agus chomh hiltaobhach le saol an phobail. Baineann sé le ceann de na príomh-aidhmeanna a bhí ag polasaí Fhianna Fháil agus a bhí ag an gcéad ceannaire a bhí ag an páirtí sin nuair a chuireadh ar bun an páirtí na blianta fada ó shin. Ní mór mar sin don bhord chun a chúram a chomhlíonadh, comhghuaillíocht fheidhmiúil a bhaint amach on gcóras Stáit uile ar a bhfuil Ranna Rialtais ar fad, na eagraisí Stáit agus ó iliomad dreamanna eile, ina measc na heagraisí Gaeilge, muintir na Gaeltachta féin, na heaglaisí, na comhlachtaí gnó, na ceardchumainn, na heagraisí fheirmeoireachta, na hinstitiúidí oideachais, lucht siamsaíochta agus drámaíochta, foilsitheoirí agus go leor daoine eile a sholáthraíonn seirbhísí éagsúla sa tír. Is féidir a rá mar sin go bhfuil sé de dhualgas orthu freastal ar an bpobal ar fad chomh fada agus is féidir leo sin a dhéanamh.

D'aithnigh siad ag an tús an tábhacht a bhain leis an Roinn Oideachais sa mhéid go mbeadh sé beagnach do-dhéan ta úsáid na Gaeilge a chur chun cinn sa tír go hiomlán mura mbeadh lán-chomhoibriú agus lán-tacaíocht ar fáil leis an Roinn Oideachais agus sa gcaoi go mbeadh bun-inniúlacht sa teanga bainte amach ag daltaí na scoile sula bhfágaidís an scoil. Tá comhchoiste bunaithe acu idir iad féin agus an Roinn len é sin a dhéanamh agus leis an gcineál sin forbairt teanga a dhéanamh sna scoileanna ar dtús pé acu sa bhun scoil no sna hinstitiúidí ard oideachais, atá sé sin le cur ar fail. Labhair mé tamall ó shin faoi chuid amháin den obair sin a bhfuil tacaíocht a fháil acu ón Údarás in a thaobh agus sin forbairt na naíonraí Gaeilge atá á gcur ar fáil i gceantracha taobh istigh agus taobh amuigh den na Gaeltachtaí ar fud na tíre. Tá an-mhéadú tagaithe ar líon na naíonraí sin le bliain anuas nó b'fhéidir le sé mhí anuas agus cuirtear chuile chomhairle agus chuile sheirbhís taca ar fáil dóibh siúd a bhíos i bhfeighil na naíonraí seo. Tá lámh-leabhar treoracha ar fáil, caiséad ceoil agus rannta agus chomh maith le sin tá fístéip de naíonraí i mbun oibre mar sórt eiseamláir do na naíonraí eile.

Tá scéim deontas le haghaidh trealamh agus gléasra á cur ar fáil agus leathnaíodh an ghluaiseacht ar fud na Gaeltachta mar a dúirt mé i gcomhar le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta féin. Ní bheidh an tairbhe ceart le fáil as na naíonraí sin go dtí go mbeidh an dul chun cinn sin á dhéanamh sna mbunscoileanna, i scoileanna an dara leibhéal, sna coláistí oideachais, sna hollscoileanna agus in aon institiúid oideachais eile den tríú leibhéal. Tá naíonra den chineál sin anois bunaithe i mo pharóiste féin sa Rinn Mhór i gCathair na Gaillimhe. Feicim féin na páistí atá ag freastal ar sin. Níl Gaeilge ag formhór a dtuismitheoirí, b'fhéidir go bhfuil go leor acu a raibh suim acu á baint as ach nach raibh sí ar a dtoil acu, nach raibh in ann í a labhairt. Ach teastaíonn uathu an deis seo nó an seans seo a thabhairt dá chuid páistí an teanga a bheith acu, agus trína gcuid páistí b'fhéidir cleachtadh a dhéanamh ar an nGaeilge iad féin.

Tá fíor thábhacht ag baint leis na múinteoirí san ghluaiseacht mór seo ar fad. Tá eagraíocht ann ar a dtugtar Comhar na Múinteoirí Gaeilge, sin eagraíocht a chuireann seirbhísí taca gairmiúla ar fáil do mhúinteoirí Gaeilge ar chuile leibhéal den chóras oideachais. Déanann an teagras cúram ar leith do mhúinteoirí sa Ghaeltacht agus do mhúinteoirí freisin atá ag múineadh i scoileanna lán-Ghaelacha taobh amuigh den Gaeltacht féin. Bíonn an-tionchar ag scoil lán-Ghaelach ar a timpeallacht. Tugann an bord cúnamh dá bhrí sin don eagras a bunaíodh tamall de bhlianta ó shin le tacaíocht a thabhairt do na scoileanna Gaeilge seo ar a dtugtar Gaelscoileanna. Cuireann an eagraíocht sin cabhair agus comhairle ar fáil freisin do dhaoine ar mian leo scoil lán-Ghaelach nó sruth Gaeilge, b'fhéidir scoil atá ann cheana, a bhúnú ina gceantar féin.

Tá coistí Gaeilge freisin ag feidhmiú i go leor de na scoileanna agus tá sé mar aidhm acu na modhanna is fearr a aimsiú leis an nGaeilge a chur á úsáid go nádúrtha mar theanga chaidrimh in institiúidí oideachais de chineálacha éagsúla atá ar fáil agus freisin len í a chur ar fáil san timpeallacht thart orthu féin. Tá coistí ag gníomhú i dtrí choláistí ollscoile, i gcoláistí oideachais agus i 16 de iarbhunscoileanna ar fud na tíre.

Tá sé de dhualgas speisialta ar an mbord cuidiú le teaghlaigh agus le daoine ar fud na tíre a chleachtaíonn an Ghaeilge oiread agus is féidir mar gnáth-theanga. Tá gá ag daoine den tsórt sin, creidim, le bunáiseanna den saghas a bhíonn ar fáil ag daoine a mbíonn teanga eile acu agus déanann an bord chuile dhícheall chun a chinntiú go mbíonn agus go mbeidh na bunáiseanna céanna seo ag muintir na tíre seo a dteastaíonn uathu an Ghaeilge a fhoghlaim.

Táthar ag leanúint den obair i gceanntracha éagsúla a roghnaíodh i gcaitheamh na bliana seo caite agus i gcaitheamh na bliana roimhe sin chun iarracht faoi leith a dhéanamh leis an teanga a chur chun chinn iontu, sin ceantracha a fhaigheann cabhair ón bpobal áitiúil féin agus ó na heargraíochtaí éagsúla atá ag feidhmiú iontu idir eagraíochtaí náisiúnta agus eagraíochtaí Gaeilge. B'fhéidir nár mhiste a lua na ceantracha sin go gairid. Tá ceann amháin acu i gCaisleán an Bharraigh, Contae Mhaigh Eo, ceann eile acu i Dúiche Ide i gContae Luimnigh ar a raibh mé ann roinnt míosa ó shin, An Daingean i gContae Chiarraí, Cois Móire sna Déise, Contae Phort Láirge, agus Dúiche Chrónáin i gceantar Ráth Cúil agus Chluain Dolcáin i gContae Bhaile Atha Cliath. Tá comhluadar Gaelach bunaithe thart ar Scoil Lorcáin i mBaile na Manach i gContae Bhaile Átha Cliath. Tá cuid de na ceantair sin mar a bheimís ag súil leis, i bhfad níos gníomhaí ná cuid eile acu, ach is scéim an-spéisiúil í an scéim seo agus ba cheart lán-tacaíocht, a thabhairt do na hiarrachtaí atá ar siúl sna ceantracha éagsúla.

Tá fíor thábhacht ag baint le litríocht na Gaeilge sna hiarrachtaí atá ar siúl chun an teanga agus an cultúr dúchais a chur chun cinn. Mar chomhartha air sin, cuireann an Stát cabhair mhór ar fáil ar mhaithe le foilseacháin Ghaeilge, irisí, nuachtáin, leabhair, ach creidimse nach raibh na foilseacháin sin á léamh chomh forleathan agus a b'fhéidir leo agus ceann de na deacrachtaí a bhí ann i gcónaí nach raibh siad á bhfógairt i gceart, nach raibh siad á ndáileadh chomh maith agus a d'féadfaí iad a ndáleadh agus nach raibh na háiseanna ann len iad a dhíol. Shocraiodh dá bhrí sin seirbhís dáiliúcháin a chur ar fáil do leabhair agus do thréimhseacháin Ghaeilge agus tugtar Áisíneacht Dáiliúcháin Leabhar air. Chuaigh sé sin i mbun oibre tamall roimh an Nollaig. Dá bharr sin tá mise ag súil agus tá an Bord ag súil freisin go mbeidh leabhair Ghaeilge agus irisí Gaeilge le fáil go flúirseach, go héasca agus go forleathan ag an bpobal i siopaí ar fud na tíre.

Ní fhéadfaimís bheith ag caint ar chur chun cinn na teangan sa tír mura luaimís na rialtais áitiúla. Sé atá i gceist ansin ná na comhairlí chontae, na bardais chathrach, na coistí ghairmoideachais, na coistí talmhaíochta agus mar sin de atá le fáil i chuile chontae sa tír. Tá ag éirí go maith leis na hiarrachtaí atá ar siúl leis an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn sna ceantracha seo. Is é atá á lorg ná bealaí a bhféadfaí an Ghaeilge nó oiread áirithe de ag braith ar chúrsaí an cháis mar a déarfá, a chur in úsáid de réir a chéile sna gnóthaí oifigiúla agus i ngnóthaí poiblí na nÚdarás sin agus i saol sóisialta na ndaoine a bhaineann leis an réimse sin freisin. Is obair réasúnta nua atá anseo. D'fhéadfadh tionchar tábhachtach a bheith leis agus is fiú, mar sin, tacaíocht láidir a thabhairt dó. Tá iarrachtaí ar siúl freisin i réimsí eile Rialtais níos mó Gaeilge a úsáid — anseo sa Dáil, sa Seanad, sna Ranna Rialtais éagsúla, sa saol tráchtála, sna ceardchumainn, i gCumann Lúthchleas Gael agus in eagraíochtaí móra eile mar sin. Ó tá mé ag caint ar an Dáil d'fhéadfaí i bhfad níos mó a dhéanamh sa Teach seo. Mar formhór na dTeachtaí atá sa Teach seo tá Gaeilge, b'fhéidir fíor-bheagán, ag cuid acu, tá roinnt mhaith ag cuid eile, ach tá ranganna Gaeilge ar fáil anois. Bíonn siad ar fáil chuile Luain agus Dé Céadaoin sílim, agus tá freastal réasúnta maith ar na ranganna sin. Ní mise ná Roinn na Gaeltachta a chuir na rar ganna sin ar fáil ach Gaeleagras na Seirbhísí Poiblí agus mar sin ní féidir a rá go bhfuil baint ag páirtí amháin polaitíochta leo níos mó ná ag páirtí eile, ach creidim gur féidir linn ar fad, is cuma cén taobh den Teach ar a bhfuilimíd ag suí, an méid atá againn a labhairt. B'fhéidir nach féidir le cuid againn Gaeilge a labhairt go minic, ach chomh minic agus is féidir linn é a labhairt.

Mar atá ráite anseo agam go minic, agus má ag caint go poiblí, is i gcomhair agus le comhoibriú na n-insitiúidí uilig ar fud na tíre a athshlánófar an teanga, agus bheadh súil ann go mbeadh an comhoibriú sin le fáil go fial agus go flaithiúil i gcónaí. Tá áiteanna ar leith ar ndóigh ag na heagraisí Gaeilge san obair atá ar siúl ag Bord na Gaeilge, agus tá sé fíor-thábhachtach go mbeadh comhoibriú iomlán eatarthu i gcónaí. Tá sé seo ráite go minic agam freisin, dá bhféadfaí na hiarrachtaí sin uilig a tharraingt le chéile agus aon mhór-iarracht a bheith ann, dá mbeimís uilig ag obair le chéile agus i gcomhar lena chéile, d'féadfaimís, tá mé cinnte, dul chun cinn suntasach a dhéanamh i leith na teanga. Tá caidreamh ar siúl agam agus ag Bord na Gaeilge le fada le Radio Teilifís Éireann chun cur leis an méid Gaeilge atá le cloisteáil agus le feiceáil ar an raidió agus ar an teilifís. Ní dóigh liom go dtuigeann cuid dóibh siúd istigh ins an eagraíocht in RTE a mbíonn cláracha a bhfuil tarraingt mhór ag an bpobal orthu, cláracha a mbíonn ar fáil, b'fhéidir, chuile lá, ag daoine mór le rá a bhfuil ainmneacha móra san eagraíocht sin acu, ní dóigh liom go dtuigeann siad an tionchar mór atá acu ar an bpobal, agus dá n-úsáididís abairt amháin Gaeilge chuile lá ar a gclár mar thús, bheadh tionchar fíor-thábhachtach aige sin ar phobal na hÉireann i gcoitinne. Sílim gur fiú dóibh cuimhneamh air sin agus smaoineamh air sin. Dá ndeanfaidís é sin agus dá mbainfidís úsáid as, déarfaimid, abairt amháin mar thús bheadh a rian sin le feiceáil agus creidimse go bhfaighidís tacaíocht iomlán an phobail dá ndéanfaidís é sin.

Cé go n-aontaím leis an méid atá ráite ag an Aire, níl sé soiléir domsa, ná éinne eile is dóigh liom, go bhfuil aon bhaint idir an méid atá ráite ag an Aire agus cúrsaí eacnamaíochta agus cúrsaí airgid na tíre seo.

B'fhéidir gur ceart a chur faoi ndear don Teachta, sula tháinig sé isteach anseo bhí cúpla Teachta a labhair roimhe.

Tá cead ag an Aire caint a dhéanamh ar a Roinn féin.

Sin riail nua.

Ní hea. Tá sé ann ar feadh na blianta.

Dá fhéadaimís caint faoi Chonradh na Gaeilge ar radio agus teilifís, agus níl aon bhaint——

Tá cead ag spokesman caint a dhéanamh ar a Roinn féin, an dtuigeann tú?

Tá sé creidithe ag go leor den phobal sa tír nach gcreideann Páirtí Fhine Gael go bhfuil aon tábhacht ag baint leis an Ghaeilge, go mór mhór ó thaobh cúrsaí eacnamaíochta. Muna bhfuil tábhacht ag baint leis an Ghaeilge ó thaobh cúrsaí eacnamaíochta na tíre, is cur amú dúinn bheith ag caint ar an nGaeilge ar chor ar bith. Tá sé tábhachtach go mbeimís in ann a chruthú gur ar leas na tíre a chaitear an t-airgead a chuirtear ar fáil trí an cáinaisnéis agus go gcuidíonn sé le forbairt na tíre i gcoitinne. An t-airgead a chaitear in mo Roinn féin is ar leas na Gaeltachta agus na Gaeilge a chaitear é, ach tá sé cruthaithe go soiléir le blianta fada má dhéanaimid dul chun cinn le forbairt na Gaeltachta nach ag cuidiú leis an Ghaeltacht amháin atáimid ach go bhfuilimid ag cuidiú le forbairt eacnamaíochta agus tionsclaíochta na tíre ar fad. Tá daoine ina gcónaí sa Ghaeltacht atá sásta obair sa mbaile agus a bhfuil obair sa mbaile ag teastáil uatha agus caithfimid an cineál sin oibre a chur ar fáil dóibh. Tá sé soiléir gur chun a leas siúd atá sé, agus chun leas na tíre, má chaitear an t-airgead a chuirtear ar fáil i gceart.

Bhí aidhmeanna éagsúla ag cáinaisnéis na bliana seo, aidhmeanna, mar shampla, fás eacnamaíochta a chur chun cinn — sin é céad aidhm an Rialtais. Tá fhios againn go léir go raibh cúlú domhanda eacnamaíochta ann an bhliain seo caite agus nár éirigh linn éalú ón gcúlú sin agus gur chuir sé isteach go mór orainn anuraidh. B'fhéidir an rud is mó a chuir isteach orainn, agus atá ag cur isteach orainn i gcónaí ná praghas na hola ar fud an domhain ar fad. Tá sé sin ag cur isteach orainn i gcónaí. Labhair an Teachta Deasy leath uair ó shin faoi úsáid fuinnimh sa tír seo. Bhí an ceart aige nuair a dúirt sé go gcaitear i bhfad an iomarca airgid sa tír seo ar chúrsaí gluaisteáin, nach mbainimid an úsáid is éifeachtaí ón ola chun ísliú ar an méid airgid a chaithimid in aghaidh na bliana. Tá sé sin fíor. Bhí ola chomh saor ar feadh na blianta go bhfuil sé de nós, má tá tú ag dul ar an scoil le gasúr ar maidin, má tá tú ag dul ag an siopa agus b'fhéidir gan é ach cúpla coiscéim thuas an bóthar, dul isteach sa charr in ionad dul ag siúl. Ní thuigeann mórán daoine nó níor thuig siad go dtí le gairid go bhfuil praghas an-ard ar ola sa tír, go bhfuil sé tábhachtach nach gcaithfimís oiread airgid air sin agus a chaitheamar go dtí seo agus go gcaithfimid a thuiscint go bhfuil an t-am tagtha anois chun comhoibriú lena chéile. Má táimid ag baint úsáid as carr le dul ag obair b'fhéidir gur cheart triúr nó ceathrar a bheith i chuile charr in áit ceithre cinn de charranna bheith ag dul san áit céanna ag an am chéanna chuile lá.

Anois an chéad aidhm atá ag an gcáinfhaisnéis seo, mar adúirt mé, ná fás eacnamaíochta a chur chun cinn; an dara aidhm ná leibhéal an airgid gur gá don Rialtas a fháil ar iasacht thar lear a ísliú. Rud amháin gur féidir a rá faoin Rialtas seo ná aon airgead a fuarthas ar iasacht ó tháinig siad i gcumhacht, is chun forbairt na tíre a caitheadh an t-airgead sin. Bhí sé i gcónaí le rá ag tionsclóirí a tháinig isteach sa tír seo nach raibh infrastructúr mar ba chóir ar fáil sa tír, mar sna blianta go mb'fhéidir go ndearnadh neamart san méid airgid ba cheart a chaitheamh ar rúdaí den tsórt seo, ar chúrsaí bóithre móra, ar chúrsaí uisce agus séarachais, ar chúrsaí teileafóin, agus má táimid ag iarraidh cur le forbairt tionsclaíochta nó forbairt eacnamaíochta na tíre, tá sé tábhachtach go gcaithfimís i bhfad níos mó airgid ar an chineál sin oibre ná mar a rinneamar go dtí seo.

Is é ceann de phríomh-aidhmeanna na cáinaisnéise i mbliana ná go bhfuil an t-airgead caipitil seo á chur ar fáil le go mbeimid ionchurtha le haon tír eile san Eoraip ó thaobh cúrsaí infrastructúra dhe. Bhí sé d'aidhm aige freisin cuidiú le feirmeoirí. Mar atá a fhios againn uilig, bhí an-droch-bhliain ag ár bhféirmeoirí. Tuigeann chuile aicme sa tír seo agus glacann siad leis go raibh fíor-dhrochbhlian ag na feirmeoirí. Cuireadh faoiseamh ar fáil dóibh sa cháinaisnéis. Creidimid ar fad, agus is é an tAire Talmhaíochta is túisce a déarfadh é, nach raibh sé féin sásta gur cuireadh oiread agus ba mhaith leis sin a bhfaigheadh siad ar fáil dóibh sa cháinaisnéis. Tá a gcuid moltaí féin foilsithe ag an gComhmhargadh i leith na bhfeirmeoirí agus nílimid sásta gur leor na moltaí sin le cuidiú leis an ngéarchéim a bhí ar na feirmeoirí anuraidh. Beimid ag súil, agus tá an tAire Talmhaíochta ag obair ar seo leis na míosanna anuas, go mbeidh moltaí speisialta ar fáil do na feirmeoirí.

Bhí sé de cháil i gcónaí ar rialtas Fhianna Fáil gur chuidigh siad leo siúd nach raibh in achmhainn cuidiú leo féin. Mar a luaigh mé ar dtús, ní raibh súil ar bith, cheapfainn, ag muintir na tíre seo go dtiocfadh na céadatáin arda leasa shósialaigh sa cáinaisnéis seo agus a cuireadh ar fáil. Is iarracht speisialta i sin cuidiú le daoine nach bhfuil in ann cúnamh a thabhairt dóibh féin agus nach mbeadh an t-airgead acu mura bhfuigheadh siad na híocaíochtaí leasa shóisialaigh seo.

Ní fhéadfá faoiseamh den chineál sin a thabhairt don phobal mura gcaithfí íoc air ar bhealach éigin, agus ar ndóigh bhí sé riachtanach go gcuirfí cáin indíreach ar toitiní, ar ól, agus art-ola le go mbeadh an t-airgead ar fáil le caitheamh ar na feirmeoirí, orthu siúd atá i dteideal íocaíochtaí leasa shóisialaigh agus dóibh siúd atá ag íoc PAYE. Rúdaí iad siúd ar fad, na toitiní, an t-ól agus an t-art-ola gur féidir linn féin gearradh siar orthu, gur féidir linn féin a shocrú nach bhfuilimid ag dul ag úsáid an oiread acu i mbliana agus a d'úsáidíomar anuraidh. Is rúdaí iad sin a bhfuil a gceannsú ag baint linn féin.

Mar sin níl aon náire ormsa tacaíocht a thabhairt do cháinaisnéis na bliana seo. Creidim gur iarracht mhacánta atá inti cothrom na Féinne a thabhairt dóibh siúd nach bhfuil in ann cuidiú leo féin, dóibh siúd a raibh droch-bhliain acu mar gheall ar chúrsaí éagsúla, cothrom na Féinne a thabhairt do chuile aicme. Ní ghlacaim leis nuair a deireann Teachtaí ar an taobh eile den Teach gur cáinaisnéis mí-macánta é. Is iad an fhorbairt tionsclaíochta agus an fás eacnamaíochta i mbliana na haidhmeanna a chuir an Rialtas rompu nuair a thosnaíodar ar an gcáinaisnéis a chur le chéile agus nuair a thosnaíodar ar gearradh siar ar na Meastacháin agus ar chaiteachas ó lá go lá a cheannsú. Sílim go bhfuil na haidhmeanna sin ceart agus cóir agus go mbeidh a n-éifeacht le feiceáil ag deireadh na bliana seo.

Before I commence my contribution to the debate I should like to compliment the Minister on the blas of her Gaeilge this spring morning. I envy her because I lost it years ago. Not only the blas of her Gaeilge but her general appearance I hope will inspire us so that our contributions will rise above the ordinary during the day.

I do not know how relevant that is, but we will all agree with it.

I am only human.

The Deputy is talking about the Minister's demeanour.

The Deputy is talking about the Minister's demeanour.

There was a time when budget day was a combination of a general confession and a spring cleaning operation. There would be an open declaration of our economic sins. Our House would be put in order by the infliction of financial penances and we would face the year ahead prepared to accept the punishment meted our for our indiscretions during the past year. However I regret to say that in recent years budgets have become cosmetic operations, concealing the real facts of life and putting a good face on a much more serious financial crisis. This year was no exception. Deputy Fitzgerald's or Deputy Haughey's budget was a more dangerous exercise, claiming that the worst of the recession was over, which is unsupported by many expert opinions. The full story of the budget can be summed up as follows: an exercise in financial juggling with a political end in view and with little regard for the consequences on industry, agriculture and the general life of people.

How can one sum up this year's budget? PAYE people got what was guaranteed to them in the national understanding. Social welfare recipients received barely sufficient to keep ahead of rising inflation. The serious agricultural crisis was overlooked in the hope of a future EEC support programme which, unfortunately, does not appear to have risen to the standard we hoped for. After all that the old reliables were hit. Cigarettes, beer and petrol took a severe bashing to raise much needed finance. Despite many statements from the Taoiseach and other Ministers that our economy is basically sound we are facing a national bankruptcy situation. The Book of Estimates confirms my statement when one reads of £2 million per day needed to service the national debt, a faked current deficit of £550 million, borrowings running to £1,200 million with a prospect later in the year of a further £700 million, and all this just to keep the economy afloat.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs is on record as saying the budget was even handed and had shown that Fianna Fáil had looked after those people who had no voice. That was a typical Lenihan statement, because the budget has left us all speechless. That is the feed-back I am getting from my constituency three weeks after its introduction. As far as I am concerned the 1977 manifesto and its effect on our economy in 1981 are as much related as is the Bible to Aesop's Fables. How can PAYE taxpayers accept the credibility of sound management when 60 per cent of their payments of £1,200 million this year will go to servicing the national debt? For that matter how can they be expected to accept the continuing erosion of their living standards because there is no control over ever escalating living costs? Where is there to be seen sound management of an economy when there are 160,000 approximately out of work, with every prospect of a further deterioration in industrial employment?

In 1977 Fianna Fáil's rallying cry was: let us get the country moving again. It was very appropriate that the music played at the opening of last week's Árd Fheis was "On the one Road". It was very relevant because, unless there is substantial change in Government policy, we are on the one road to national disaster. Unless there are positive policies introduced and tailored to meet the growing needs of an ever increasing young population that song will become even more appropriate as the year progresses.

I am glad to learn that the Deputy was looking at it.

I have RTE 1 only. I am not blessed with five channels like the Minister of State.

Another boast of the Minister for Foreign Affairs rings very hollow, that is, the number of our students being the highest in the EEC — in inverted commas —"one of our great assets". I might add also that another great asset is the 160,000 unemployed, these people who have been thrown on the industrial dung heap created by the mishandling of our economy since Fianna Fáil assumed office in 1977.

Having said that, our next obligation is to examine individual Departments and ascertain the effect of budgetary provisions in one's own area. The first area about which I want to speak is that of the Office of Public Works, which has tremendous responsibility in rural areas, where, for example, they deal specifically with the implementation of major arterial drainage schemes. I can assure the House that the financial contribution to the Office of Public Works this year gives my area little consolation or hope. It affords little hope to the many thousands of smallholders in my area who have been adversely affected over the years in the catchment areas of the Rivers Suir and Mulcaire. I listened last evening to a programme on RTE 1 on my region in which grave concern was expressed by many people in the agricultural field at the lack of interest shown over the years in the terrible effects of flooding of hundreds of thousands of acres and its disastrous effect on the lives of many farmers in the Mulcaire catchment area. I can repeat the same contention about the Suir catchment area, which extends from Waterford, through all of Tipperary, affecting some of the finest land in the country. We have been fighting for years to have those two schemes implemented. It would appear from budgetary allocations that we are as near to their implementation in 1981 as we were in 1961. Indeed this problem of good land being flooded, resulting in a sharp decline in farmers' incomes, is becoming a very sore point amongst farmers in my constituency, whose patience is gradually diminishing. I am sure we will have marches about farm incomes and the general effect on farmers' ways of life. I can foresee this problem becoming a vital issue in my area in the near future. Indeed farmers appear to be disenchanted with all governments, but particularly with the Office of Public Works, on account of promises having been given on platforms over the years but not fulfilled. Last year lands in both the Mulcaire and Suir catchment areas were flooded for almost the whole year. That is enough to drive any farmer wild, and, when a Tipperary man gets excited, one can look out, because the timber will start flying.

Another aspect of the Office of Public Works responsibility about which I am concerned is the provision of new school buildings. I was delighted to note an increase of £9 million for new works, which would seem to indicate an impetus being given to the provision of new schools and extensions to existing ones. I might mention here the urgency expressed by boards of management about school extensions at Portroe, Carrig, Ballyconnell and Ballina and also the urgency of the provision of a new VEC school in Roscrea. These are vital to the different parishes I have mentioned, where there is a fast growing young population, where the existing schools are insufficient to meet the needs. In these schools teachers are endeavouring to teach pupils in grossly overcrowded conditions. We want to see our children educated, but in the proper environment. Roscrea is a thriving town, with a wonderful staff on the Vocational Education Committee but working in a very old school. The Department of Education and the Office of Public Works should get on with the job of providing that school in Roscrea as soon as possible.

I thought Deputy O. J. Flanagan was looking after that.

Let the Minister of State not worry; he might need the Deputy's assistance before the year is out. I am well able to look after my affairs.

He told us that last week.

Will the Minister of State accept that?

—— and Michael Smith will confirm that if the Minister wishes.

I was only being helpful to the Deputy.

The Minister should not interrupt. The Deputy does not need any help.

Perhaps the Chair would tell the Minister that.

I am telling him now he should not be interrupting, that is not his job at all.

It is a bad habit he has developed over the years. He is finding it difficult to break.

It is very hard to get away from bad habits sometimes.

I should like to refer briefly to the Department of Justice. Unfortunately we are becoming very concerned with the serious increase in vandalism in rural areas. Indeed it is a terrible reflection on our way of life and highlights the lack of a public spirit, that now in rural areas a church cannot be allowed to remain open after 4 p.m. Indeed in a school in my own town to which an extension costing £50,000 was completed last year there was an incident the other evening involving vandalism to the extent that we must now refurbish some of that extension. In this respect perhaps the Minister for Justice would give some consideration to increasing garda strength in rural areas. I appreciate that for some years past there have been serious vandalism problems and crime in major populated areas, such as Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford.

I believe that there is a need now to increase the strength in rural Ireland, because when one sees parishes having to close churches at 4 o'clock it is tragic. The Minister will have to consider it in the light of strengthening the rural barracks. I would like to pay tribute to the Garda. They are doing the best they can with the numbers they have. But we owe it to the people of rural Ireland to protect their interests so that they can go about their work. We need particularly to protect the older people. I say that in all earnestness. It is sad to have to say that rural Ireland is suffering now from this ever-increasing scourge of vandalism. Something will have to be done. The answer is extra vigilance by the Garda; we have to put more gardaí on the beat and in cars and on mobile patrols throughout the country.

I would like to refer in more detail to the Department of the Environment. I want to refer particularly to the present situation of people with housing loans who have been paying them back for years and who are now, due to the recession, unemployed. I appeal strongly to the Minister to request the local authorities, the banks and building societies to relax somewhat in their ever anxious efforts to obtain repayments of these loans. I know of cases where families are facing the continual worries and pressures of meeting house repayments out of unemployment benefits. In good times these people were responsible mortgagees and always met their commitments. But through no fault of their own they are now finding it extremely hard to meet their commitments. I appeal to the Minister to do his utmost to try to effect some relaxation so that the man of the house will be able to feed and look after his family without this continual pressure from the building societies which are urging him to forget about feeding the family and pay the loan. It is a human and sad story, but this is continuing despite the situation caused by the recession.

There is another aspect of the housing loan situation that I am not happy with, and that is the shortage of cash. In my area a new system has been introduced in the last couple of months whereby there is a monthly allocation. I am not happy with the development and the trends in finance for house loans in the last couple of months. For the February period, while we had approved loans in North Tipperary County Council of about £300,000, we were allocated £115,000, approximately 30 per cent of the needs of the young married couples who are prepared to build their own homes. There are situations where houses are at roof level and, because of the shortfall in the allocation, the people concerned may have to wait months before they can finish their houses. Unless there is a substantial increase in March and April I can see a serious crisis arising, the outcome of which will be that applicants will be waiting six to eight months for cash to pay for the building of their houses. This is something I do not think the Minister would like to see happen. I am concerned about it, and the local authorities, and most of all the people concerned, are unhappy with the situation. The young couples have enough problems without having to put up with these delays in loans because of lack of funds from central authorities.

I am delighted to see an additional allocation of £27 million for the development of infrastructure such as roads. This is vital. The major towns are urgently in need of by-passes. We have been talking about the Naas by-pass for many years, and the commencement order was issued some time ago, but it is only the commencement. Naas is only pioneering the urban by-passes. In my constituency there are two major towns, Roscrea and Nenagh, situated on the national primary route from Dublin to Limerick with resulting traffic chaos and congestion and the added problem of a lack of parking space. The only answer is to build an urban by-pass. It is planned that this will commence in 1984 or 1985. I appeal to the Minister, in view of the fact that there is an extra allocation this year for such infrastructural development, to consider allocating finance to North Tipperary County Council for the first stage developments on a national primary route like the Dublin-Limerick road. An urban by-pass development in the towns of Roscrea and Nenagh would do wonders for the commercial life of the towns and would solve the traffic problems which the Garda are involved in. We have submitted plans for Roscrea and are about to submit plans for the Nenagh by-pass and I hope that the Minister, in view of the need for this work, will give consideration to the plans submitted.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said about allocations for the county roads, because the improvements for those roads are mainly financed by local rates which now, unfortunately, are almost non-existent. The roads that have become so potholed in the county areas in the last few years are faced with a worsening of the situation unless the Minister sees fit to give additional capital allocations to assist the local authorities to provide a proper road infrastructure for the different counties throughout the country. In the budget we have the second stage of the re-introduction of motor tax which went out in 1977. It is coming back by another road in the form of registration, which is now at £20. The one thing that surprised me is that there was no house registration introduced, but that is probably coming next year if we have not a change of Government in the meantime, which I hope we do.

I would like now to dwell for some time on the Department of Education and on the many aspects of this Department. This Department is most important because it affects our young people and their future education and prospects of employment in their own country. The first item I want to refer to is the question of the higher education grants. I appreciate that in latter years income limits have been raised to a certain extent. Despite that I believe, because of the escalating cost of living and the devaluation and the low return for the pound, there is a grave and urgent need for a further increase in the income limit to enable many more of our young people to avail of the higher education facilities at university level, because I know hundreds in my constituency alone, workers' sons and daughters, who have the ability but because their father has a gross income over the limit allowed they are not in a position to avail of the scholarship grants and so their parents cannot send them to college. This is a sad story because we need these young people. We need their brains and we need to develop their brains to provide the expertise in the years ahead in the major challenge in industry.

I appeal to the Minister to consider raising the income limits for the scholarship grants. It is of vital importance to all the young people. Last year all the educational areas were underfinanced, so much so that later in the year we had to have a supplementary budget of £32 million. In my constituency last year, and I am sure North Tipperary is not unique, there were financial crises in the primary and secondary sectors, basically because the capitation grants were inadequate to meet the ever-increasing costs of running the schools. This has put tremendous pressure on boards of management and on parents. I hope that the Minister will see fit to increase the capitation grants to bring them into line with the realities of life. The grant of £15 to £20 means little to a primary school today when one thinks of the escalating costs of heating throughout the winter. I hope that the Minister will take cognisance of the emergency situation which arose last year and which exists still in both the primary and secondary sectors at board of management level because of shortage of finance.

I would like to refer also to the vocational education sector. I am a member of the VEC in North-Tipperary and I believe that there is a need for a substantial increase in investment in vocational education, particularly in the technical area. That brings me to the need for greater investment in our RTCs. From reading the Estimates I am not too happy about the prospects of further and greater investment in RTCs this year. We have heard about the challenge of the microchip and the need for technocrats to meet this in the 1980s. At the same time there seems to be foot-dragging in the Department of Education as regards the allocation of finance for more technical colleges. We need young boys and girls equipped with the expertise to face this industrial challenge. Without the finances and the colleges we will have thousands of young boys and girls unequipped and unable to face this challenge. I would like to refer in particular to the substantial and very reasonable case being put forward to the Minister for Education by a joint committee of VECs of South and North Tipperary for the allocation and siting of a new RTC in the town of Thurles. This matter has been with the HEA for a considerable period and we, representing all Tipperary, are concerned about the delay, because we believe that we have put a genuine and proven case to the HEA that County Tipperary has the school population and the potential and deserves a college in Thurles. However, I believe that with the foot-dragging of the HEA this should be a political decision, and I ask the Minister for Education if he would as soon as possible make a decision one way or another on whether Thurles and Tipperary deserve a RTC. I will be attending a public meeting in Thurles next Monday night and I can assure the House that the Anner Hotel in Thurles will have only standing room, because the issue has become very vital as was the maternity unit in the County Hospital, Nenagh, some years ago. I appeal to the Minister to ensure an early decision on the allocation.

We are getting into a tremendous number of specific matters. I do not want to interrupt the Deputy at all.

Sorry, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. I appreciate that Deputy R. Ryan is entitled to get some information.

One Ryan to another again.

Well, we are all the one and proud of it. All the Ryans are not rogues.

I would like to refer to school transport where there seems to be an actual cutback of 20 per cent in the allocation this year. In rural Ireland this is very serious and if such is the case I am alarmed that we are facing a 20 per cent cutback in school transport services throughout the country. Another alarming aspect has been brought to my notice of late. I am not happy about it and I am sure the Minister will not be happy with it. If a school transport bus breaks down and a bus is not available to replace it immediately the driver of that bus is not paid by CIE despite the fact that he has offered himself for employment that morning. This has a two-fold effect. First, the school bus driver who has reported for duty that morning is being deprived of his pay. Second, the bus is not operating and the children have to walk to school. Most vicious and frightening of all, and a human development, is if that is the case the driver will not report defects in the bus and the situation may escalate to where the bus may become dangerous and the school children may be at risk. This development has come to my notice in recent weeks. Whether the directive is from CIE or the Department of Education I do not know, but I am becoming very alarmed about it.

I want to deal briefly with agriculture, and this morning's news, which will not be a great consolation to the many thousands of farmers in my area and throughout the country, is that the package from Brussels was not as much as we had expected, although we have a promise of something further to come in a couple of weeks. In the budget the capital allocation for agriculture has been cut to something in the neighbourhood of £22 million and the major cutback has been in the Farm Modernisation Scheme and aids to farmers in certain areas. I would be alarmed if that were the case because in my area many young farmers have taken over farms from their parents and are prepared to accept the challenges of the eighties and invest in their holdings to improve them and make them more viaable to support their families. If this cutback is in the budget I and the farmers will be very worried about the situation. As I have said, the news from Brussels this morning is not very heartening. I hope that the fight by the Minister for Agriculture and his Ministers of State is not over. I appeal to him to continue the fight, because if a 7.8 per cent package is the only one on offer I am afraid that agriculture will not have improved much this year; indeed it will still be in recession as it was last year. As one of the Ministers of State is here I appeal to him not to let this be the last of the fights but to go back to Brussels to get a better deal.

Nothing is finalised in that.

I read the papers and there is truth in the news, it is said. One aspect of an EEC package very relevant to my area is a disadvantaged area scheme which was submitted sometime ago and sanctioned by Brussels. I refer to the Slievefhelim Disadvantaged Area Scheme.

We can thank Deputy Herbert for that.

Deputy Michael Smith might get some compliments, too.

Thank you.

A couple more of us were involved even in Opposition.

The Minister of State will have to keep all these facts to himself for the moment. Deputy Ryan is in possession.

I want to refer to that scheme because again there is grave concern. Many have been included in the scheme but very many more have been left out of it. I am more than surprised because I know the area well. I have represented it for years. In some parts of the Slievefelim area the very worst type of land has been left out of the scheme. I refer in particular to places like Bollingbrook, Knockacullen, Lackamore, Knockaun and Curryquin. These are areas where mountain hill farmers work land which gives a very poor return. I will be attending a meeting next week where farmers from these areas will be protesting about their omission——

The Deputy will be very busy going to meetings.

We all do the best we can. I appreciate the compliment.

The Deputy will be attending protest meetings.

It is the farmers who are protesting.

Deputy Ryan without interruption, please.

The Minister has the happy knack of butting in. It is a pity he does not make his own speech.

Please, no interruptions.

Because of the shortfall in the Brussels package, the Government must seriously consider making a greater contribution in financial support to offset the situation in the agricultural community. Not alone are the farmers affected, the ancillary industries are also affected and it has caused serious unemployment in all those industries.

I am very concerned about the meat industry because there are several factories in my area which are in serious trouble at present because of the shortage of raw materials. Perhaps wrong policies have been the cause, I do not know, but I am concerned for workers in the agricultural industry which has suffered considerably. Unless something is done about the meat industry, a further 5,000 jobs will be lost this year. I am very concerned about that aspect of industrial development, for the sake of the farmers' income and the workers in the meat factories.

I can only deal briefly with the Department of Lands, because from its allocation this year it is in a limbo situation. Despite the best efforts of the local agricultural officers, land is not being acquired as fast as it should be for needy farmers who are trying to make a living and have a viable holding to support their families. Money is not being allocated for land acquisition. Farmers are becoming very impatient because they have been promised land. Many of them have been in correspondence for years about holdings and still the divisions have not been made. Cognizance should be taken of this situation because the small farmers are the backbone of agriculture. The young small farmer with a non-viable holding who sees an adjacent farm lying idle for years, with the Land Commission making good con acre rent from it, becomes a little upset because no effort is being made to divide it, to give him ten or 15 acres to make a better living. It would also give him permanence in his work.

I would like to refer to the Safety in Industry Bill, 1978, which was not finally enacted until 1980. In the budget this year, there is a measly sum of £22,000 allocated to the National Industrial Safety Organisation, which has done a very good job in their effort to educate the workers and industry in general on the need for greater safety measures on the shop floor. We did a lot of talking on the need for this Bill, which took two years to enact. If we are genuinely concerned to protect the workers on the shop floor, NISO should get a greater allocation and should be one of the major infrastructures in our efforts to inform the workers and employers of the dangers involved in their work. NISO should be one of the platforms to implement the Bill, to inform the worker and to ensure the full implementation of the Bill. The allocation of £22,000 this year does not indicate the genuine concern that was supposedly expressed by the then Minister when he introduced the Bill. It has reached a situation where the trade union movement and congress have established a research team and are going to spend a considerable amount of money to ensure that the Bill will be explained to the worker on the shop floor. If this is a Government Bill, the financing of survey and research teams to advise the workers should not be the sole responsibility of the trade union movement. The Government enacted a Bill and they should face up to their responsibilities to finance the study, information and indoctrination of workers and see that the Bill is enacted on the shop floor.

Last week's tragedy was an indication of the need for the worker to have a knowledge of what his responsibilities and duties are in his work field. For that reason, I appeal for an increase in this niggardly allocation towards NISO. They are doing a great job and deserve better recommendation and acknowledgment of their work by getting more money to ensure the Bill is fully understood.

The tourism grant has been cut this year. Last year we were gravely concerned when some tourist information offices had to close due to lack of finance. Small offices throughout the different scenic areas, which provided information for tourists and directed them with regard to hotels and areas to visit, could not function because of lack of funds. Information centres play a vital role in the development of tourism. This year it looks as if there will be no tourist information offices open. I urge the Minister to reassess the situation, because they are a very important aspect of tourism. The taxation on petrol, drink and cigarettes will also affect tourism, despite the fact that the Englishman may get a better deal with the Irish £ at 74p against sterling. That advantage will be greatly offset by the serious disparity in the prices of these commodities in England and Ireland. It makes one very pessimistic about the prospects for 1981. 1980 finished up better than we thought it would, but the imposition of these taxes will not help in 1981.

In the industrial sector, I welcome the substantial increase of 25 per cent in the IDA's development programme. This was needed and was vital because of the unemployment situation. We need even more than 25 per cent if our unemployment figure is going to rise to — as some people predict — 175,000 by the end of the year. I welcome the increase. I am sorry that Mr. Killeen is leaving; he has done a tremendous job over the years and I wish his successor every success.

In my own region we have another Government agency, the Shannon Free Airport Development Company, which covers Clare, North Tipperary, Limerick city and county. I am delighted that their allocation has been increased because they are doing a tremendous job for the smaller industries and for local industries. The owner of the small local enterprise who is prepared to increase his workforce from perhaps 20 to 30 is the backbone of our industry, because the more small firms we have the more certain we are of containing and ensuring the continuation of rural Ireland. Otherwise, the country areas will consist of commuters going off to work in the major centres.

We all realise the need for industrial peace, but if there is not some effort made to control prices this year's national understanding will be in danger. I raised this question before the Christmas recess and I am appealing again to the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Tourism to make every effort possible to stop the serious erosion in the living standards of the workers as a result of increasing costs. This year the inflation rate will be of the order of 15 per cent. Those who suffer most in this type of situation are the lower paid and those in receipt of social welfare payments. I must criticise the Minister for his apparent lack of control in regard to escalating price rises. These increases will have a serious effect in the latter part of the year if they are not stemmed now. I am talking about bread-and-butter issues.

I note that the subsidy in respect of bread has been reduced by £1 million. I appeal to the Minister to increase this subsidy instead of decreasing it and, in addition, to re-introduce food subsidies in total.

Another matter of grave concern is the battle of the major supermarkets or hypermarkets. The losers in this battle among the giants of the retail trade will be the small country shopkeepers and, of course, the consumers. I hope that the legislation in this regard which has been promised by the Minister will be introduced shortly. Otherwise all of us will be the losers and these multinationals, which, unfortunately, are no longer controlled by Irish interests, will take over the whole retail trade. This is a sad prospect for the shopkeeper who has given years of very good service to his customers.

As an ex-CIE man, I should like to raise some questions regarding that company vis-á-vis the Department. First, there is the question of the cutback in the subsidy to CIE from £70 million to £65 million but which, having regard to inflation rates in 1980 and 1981, will be more likely to represent a cutback of £20 million in real terms. Obviously, such a cutback will make the task of the directors and executives of CIE almost impossible in terms of carrying out their directive from the Minister for this year. Consequently, I foresee a serious cutback in services if there is no change of mind in regard to the cutback.

I calculate that the cutback is of the order of 20 per cent and this must mean a cutback of the same magnitude in bus and rail services. This cannot be a step in the right direction. We are all aware that there have been problems for years in regard to CIE. I worked for that company for 27 years and it always seemed that at budget time they were made a national football. The company are doing a job to the best of their ability, but their needs were never considered to be sufficiently big in terms of politics by any Government for a sufficient interest to have been taken in the company. For instance, there was not sufficient interest in the need for a proper rail and road service with the result that a serious run-down was allowed to occur. There was a run-down in terms of rolling stock and in terms of attitude. It is possible that because of this situation the morale of the workers was lessened. We are talking about 18,000 workers who have spent their working years in the provision of a very good service for the people generally. The company have watched patiently while crocodile tears were shed about the needs of CIE but without any action being taken to provide those needs.

We now have a second McKinsey Report. The other was published in 1970 but before then there were several other reports concerning our rail and road services. However, while we have had plenty of consultation and a large volume of documentation, no action has been taken to deal with the situation. Between the two reports, McKinsey has been paid £750,000. There is serious disquiet both at top-and-middle-management levels and among the ordinary rank and file within CIE regarding the latest report in that there was no input from CIE. From the information available to me I have grave doubts about the ability of the team concerned to assess the needs of our country. I have maintained always that in terms of any research or development it is a sad day that we must import experts to tell us how to run our country.

Hear, hear.

Are we serious in assuming that somebody from Long Island or from Los Angeles is in a position to tell us what are the needs of towns such as Ennis or Nenagh or of an area such as the west of Ireland? Surely such a process is not the proper way of endeavouring to assess the needs of the country. Surely we have people with sufficient expertise and with the ability to set themselves up as a proper board for such assessment. Regardless of whether McKinsey is an antropologist or, as I am told, a professor of oriental languages, and regardless of what his findings may be, we should not consider the possibility of being without a rail system as we approach the 21st century, having regard to the energy situation throughout the world.

Instead of effecting cutbacks in the rail system the Government, in conjunction with CIE, should be launching a massive campaign aimed at encouraging people to use the road and rail services, because the more people we can persuade to use our trains and buses the greater will be the saving not only to the individual but to the nation.

The board of CIE should show their concern about the likely effects of implementing the McKinsey Report by drawing up a major propaganda campaign to encourage greater use of their services. Day after day one sees trains and buses going to the countryside only half full. It for nothing else but for the sake of the conservation of energy and in the interest of keeping money at home, CIE should be making every effort to sell their services. They should be going out to sell their wares in the market place.

The Deputy has approximately five minutes.

I should like to devote those minutes to the Departments of Health and Social Welfare, areas which are vital to most people. There is a question of a cutback in the Government payment under the 1952 Act of £33 million. That seems to me to mean that there will be greater demands on the worker to contribute more towards the social welfare fund this year.

Can somebody tell me what is wrong in Aras Mhic Dhiarmada? Have some army surrounded the building? For five weeks I cannot get a phone call through to Aras Mhic Dhiarmada. I am concerned about sick benefit, disability benefit and all benefits that insured workers have paid for and are entitled to. I am talking of people who have submitted claims for benefit over eight weeks ago and I cannot even get through on the telephone to talk about them. It is a scandalous situation when a representative, not only from his own constituency but even from Dublin when he comes there, cannot get a phone call through. There is something wrong; if extra lines are needed these should be provided. The workers are suffering as a result when they have to wait eight or nine weeks for money that they are entitled to and meanwhile have to beg for a supplementary allowance.

This emphasises again my feeling about the Department of Social Welfare. I believe we have started the process of decentralisation and because of the situation that exists at present in this field I believe there is an urgent need to decentralise the Department of Social Welfare so that a worker in his own area can at least talk to the officials. We cannot talk to them in Dublin; I cannot get them on the telephone. The worker is paying for a service that he is not getting. He is entitled to better treatment.

I see a 3 per cent increase in the Health capital allocation of £691 million, which is really a cutback of 15 per cent. This will have serious repercussions on all health boards and on their development programmes for 1981. It will put health services in a serious crisis this year. It was bad enough last year; it will be worse this year unless there is an improvement in the capital allocation. I was told in the House that there was no crisis in my region where we have an orthopaedic hospital in Croom with 1,000 waiting to be seen at clinics and 425 people waiting for operations, where four surgeons are working under extraordinary pressure and giving a wonderful service working around the clock. We are awaiting an additional theatre with which it is hoped to cut back on the serious waiting list. I face a meeting of the health board tomorrow where we will be told what we are getting in the budget. There will be hell to pay between North Tipperary, Clare and Limerick as to which will get the money because there will not be enough to go round.

There is also a need for psychiatric and geriatric services, which are in a serious situation in my area. We are talking of the old and infirm, people needing operations or psychiatric treatment. These services are in serious crisis and with the present allocation it will be even worse in 1981. A maternity unit was sanctioned last year for the County Hospital, Nenagh, and I am concerned because of the cutback in health services that we are facing a crisis. I am sure this is not confined to the mid-west region; health services throughout the country are facing the same situation. In the light of the present allocation I can forsee little or no development in the case of programmes urgently needed.

Acting Chairman

I have to ask the Deputy to conclude now.

I should like to begin by suggesting that the timing of the budget is most unsatisfactory from a financial planning aspect. By coincidence Deputy R. Ryan is in the House and I know that during his time as Minister for Finance he made a major stride forward in bringing the budget in line with the calendar year. Looking at its working, I think there is great need for introducing the budget in the last quarter of the previous financial year. We are now at the end of February continuing to discuss moneys to be spent in 1981. Assuming that the budget debate is now coming to a conclusion the Minister for Finance will then have to introduce the Finance Bill. Various Departments are now using their allocations as determined in the budget. Tomorrow the local authority to which I belong will be discussing the 1981 Estimates. We must approve them and submit them to the Department of the Environment. Literally half the financial year is over before the machinery of allocating funds and making them available to various Government Departments, local authorities and semi-State bodies operates.

In 1980 there was need, as was explained to the House, to introduce Supplementary Estimates so that we really spent the financial year planning and talking about how we intended spending the funds that should have been spent in that financial year. This tends to make the budget debate and discussions about the nation's finances rather irrelevant in coming after the event. Therefore, there is need to take the further step backwards, so to speak, in order to get the nation's finances planned and programmed in the last quarter of the preceeding financial year so that on 1 January every Government Department, State company and local authority would have had an opportunity of allocating the finances being made available to them in that particular year and be ready to get on with their capital programmes.

On questioning the county manager in Dublin County Council we find that in 1980, despite the great debate about lack of spending on infrastructure, it was not possible in that financial year to spend the allocation we were receiving because of the slippage in debate and planning and getting various figures approved in various Government Departments and the Department of the Environment. Therefore, I suggest there is great need for further consideration of the timing of the budget.

Has the actual budget debate so far given the public the opportunity to recognise that within Dáil Éireann there is a determination and a unity of purpose between various political parties? The public have sent us here and our main responsibility is to ensure equity across the various sections of the community. The budget debate has tended to slip into traditional stances of political criticism by the Opposition of a Minister for Finance or Government of the day. There is need for a new awareness of what is expected of Dáil Éireann when it comes to dealing with the national finances.

Let us consider the present budget and the two previous budgets of the present Government and look at one aspect of them that has provoked a great deal of comment and debate, current deficit budgeting, and identify, in that area, some of the major criticisms levelled at the Government. I quote from a previous Government debate on the introduction of the 1976 budget by Deputy Richie Ryan. Deputy Ryan on that occasion under the heading "Out-turn of current budget 1976" said:

Last year I referred to the disturbing rate of growth in public expenditure, particularly in the non-capital expenditure, over the previous decade and I said that, while high spending policies were justified during a period of depression such as we have been experiencing in common with other countries, nevertheless, as soon as economic recovery returns, the Government would have to be extremely vigilant to ensure that public expenditure did not pre-empt resources needed by the private sector.

The Minister went on to say on that occasion:

I emphasise that the Government's budgetary aim for 1976 would be to use public expenditure within the real constraint and resources to stimulate economic activity and that, in order to achieve this, current expenditure-would be pruned where it would not contribute significantly to increase economic activity in order to free resources for growth and job creation.

Acting Chairman

May I ask the Deputy from what he is quoting?

From Page 13 of the Budget Debates, 1975 to 1979. This is a catalogue of budget debates which is in the Library and which covers the financial years 1975 to 1979. On Page 13 of that document, there is an introduction to the 1976 Budget.

Is there a date on that document?

No, there is not. It would be the out-run of the current budget of 1976, so I assume that it would be 1977.

Acting Chairman

Is that the Official Report, just to get the reference?

I obtained it from the Dáil Library, "Budgets 1975 onwards through to 1979". I assume that it is comprised of the various budget debates.

Acting Chairman

Thank you.

The Minister, on that occasion was highlighting his reasoning behind the current budget deficit. I suggest that the situation is not unchanged today. I would ask our various critics, political and economic, to evaluate the alternatives. If anyone wishes to put forward some alternative suggestion as to how we might rid ourselves of current budget deficit, then we would like to hear it. In the interim period, when charged with the responsibility of Government during world depression, one has very little scope other than to take the path which the present Minister for Finance and his predecessors have adopted in the various financial years in dealing with the budgets and, in particular, when Deputy Richie Ryan was dealing with the nation's finances, as Minister for Finance. It was also a particularly difficult period and he had no choice but to go into deficit budgeting on the current side.

I suggest, therefore, that in this area, we have tended since coming into Government to pick up the tabs for a number of major outlays, particularly in the public sector. I think I am correct in stating that the Garda, the teachers and the nurses have all come forward with various reports on their particular professions and the need for fairly substantial increases in their wages and salaries, which we have had to meet. Either the previous or the present Government set up various commissions looking into the relevant salary structures. They have come forward during the past three years with fairly comprehensive recommendations of substantial percentage increases. It was the duty of the Government of the day to meet those recommendations. We have had to do so and this has probably escalated the current budget deficits.

I move on to the budget as introduced and to quote from The Irish Independent of Thursday, 29 January 1981. The heading is “Minister confident of upturn this year, so... Fitzgerald goes for growth with increases in investment”. The first couple of paragraphs of that newspaper quotation highlight in very clear terms the precise thinking and the main thrust behind the budget. I quote:

and he (the Minister) confidently predicted that we would ultimately benefit from the expected upturn in world trade later in 1981.

He told Deputies that Ireland was not alone among Western nations in experiencing severe recession, inflation, rising unemployment and the need to generate economic activity.

This gloomy position, he said, has persisted for longer than even the most pessimistic observers foresaw, but there were some signs that the worst might be over.

The poor international outlook is both a challenge and a warning to our own relatively small but dynamic economy. The Government have not been prepared to let the economy drift in the prevailing international recession. Active support for investment, development and employment remains at the centre of the Government's strategy.

If we try to identify the Government's achievements as referred to in the concluding part of the quotation we could usefully dwell for some time on what we have achieved in general job creation. Have we been successful? Could we have achieved more? Where do we go from here? In the Minister's 1981 budget speech the Minister went on to clarify precisely the figures achieved from April 1977 to April 1980. These are the figures recently published by the CSO on the basis of its labour force surveys. It shows that new employment was much higher in 1977 than had been estimated earlier. It is now clear that the total employment increased by 80,000 between April 1977 and April 1980.

Then the Minister goes on to refer to the investment plan and the high level of job approvals last year and earlier which will result in substantial new employment this year. He is confident that this record of success will be sustained and that we will achieve this year the growth in employment envisaged in the second national understanding. While international economic prospects this year are uncertain, there are grounds for optimism.

What we are saying there is that, however high the present unemployment figure is, since taking office we have made major strides; we have positively put 80,000 people to work. There was a very high level of job approvals last year and the investment plan envisaged for 1981 is setting a target of 10,000 jobs. One has to evaluate Government policy against the international recession, what actions were taken and how effective they are. We, on this side of the House, claim that the Government's decisive action has positively contributed to a drive in job creation — not satisfactory, but yet on the right path. There are obviously continuing redundancies which cause concern to all Members of this House as to how the situation can be avoided and, where unavoidable, how the IDA, on the instruction of the respective Minister, can move in and remedy or rectify these redundancies, which will continue to arise as a result of changing circumstances in the economic environment, changing patterns in various industries. One can identify a number of the redundancies which were likely whether we had a recession or not, or otherwise due to changing technology.

Another aspect is that our achievements to date have obviously been held back by the state of the economy with our major trading partner within the EEC, namely, Britain. It is unfortunate for us, at a time when there is this great variation between our two currencies, that demand on the British market should be at such a low ebb. If the British economy were on an upward swing it would make our exports very attractive and would help to boost our trade with that country. The past year has not been a successful one for Britain and, as a result, we have felt the cold winds when that market fell off. However, we should not allow the pessimists and the economic experts who refer continually to the weak púnt against the £ sterling to deflect us. They have done a lot to undermine confidence in certain sectors. They have created the impression that the Irish currency has been losing value in a practical way, but we must judge it on the way it has performed against our partners in the EMS. A much more realistic headline would be that sterling has gained strength. That development has done more to harm the British economy than any other single factor because their exports have become uncompetitive. Many exporters in the UK would be glad to see their currency fall in value rather than have it over-valued as it is at the moment. It is not helpful for commentators here to give an incorrect impression about our currency. It has performed very well in the EMS where it is allied to some of the strongest currencies in the world, and that should give us a measure of confidence.

I am a member of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on State-Sponsored Bodies and I feel strongly that far too much criticism has been made about the semi-State sector. A number of semi-State bodies have financial difficulties. The Committee have completeed reports on CIE, Aer Lingus, the Irish Sugar Company and we are currently examining NET. Account must be taken in global terms of what the semi-State sector is contributing to the economy. From the last figures available, which were in respect of 1979, one discovers the total sales of semi-State companies were worth £1,900 million while the total number employed in the various companies is approximately 56,000 — about 5 per cent of the workforce.

Unfair criticism can have an unsettling effect on the companies and unnecessary criticism is totally unjustified. I suggest that during the years Ministers for Finance have in some way contributed towards some of the current difficulties of semi-State companies. Many of the companies have been totally underfinanced. Ministers for Finance wrote letters of guarantee to various financial institutions who gladly advanced funds without getting a proper ratio of investment by way of contribution from the Department of Finance. Thus, the semi-State companies were left without adequate funding and had to pay out of their profits the very high interest rates charged by the banks. Indirectly the banks invested in the semi-State sector but they did so on a gilt-edged basis. A number of the companies the Committee have examined have put forward this valid criticism. We are back to Government spending to solve the problem. Politicians and economists can do much to harm or support the semi-State sector during this difficult period. I agree there have been one or two major mishaps in that sector that have not helped but to undermine confidence in semi-State companies is not healthy. This House should point out that we recognise the considerable contribution made by semi-State companies.

I should like to refer to the Government's intention of getting from the private sector a sum in the region of £200 million for 1981. I should like the Minister for Finance to spell out in detail how this is likely to occur. I am afraid the financial year will have passed before we have made any major step forward in this area. Probably the semi-State companies are most flexible and could take advantage of this development more quickly than some Government Departments. I should like the Minister to outline precisely his intentions in this area so that maximum advantage may be taken in this financial year.

In the investment plan the Minister for Finance proposes a total capital expenditure of £1,733 million in 1981, an increase of 36 per cent. That is the right policy. There has been some criticism about borrowing and people have said that the State finances are out of line with what they consider to be prudent, but I suggest that borrowing for capital purposes is the correct policy. If we are passing on to the next generation a huge debt, let it be on the capital side. In the next two or three years in my constituency more than £10 million will be required for primary school and second level educational requirements. A sum of £4 million or £5 million is needed to bypass a few areas on the western road.

If it is our intention in the capital investment programme to borrow funds to provide those facilities, I hope it is not too late. It is the right policy, and we must continue on that line because it is very desirable to undertake those particular projects which will be more expensive at a later date. The young people who will be able to get the maximum advantage of today's borrowings will be able to make their contribution towards paying back the debts we are accruing now on their behalf.

I believe the Government's strategy, particularly on the investment side, is the correct policy. I recall reading in business magazines that when Deputy R. Ryan was Minister for Finance they recommended that he must invest his way out of the depression. We have slipped back into another depression, which was not planned as far as the experts were concerned. They often do not make correct forecasts about what is likely to arise. We have slipped back into another world recession and we have no choice but to follow the path of the previous Government, which is borrowing for capital purposes. Politicians have to to bridge the gap between theory and practice, between what is politically acceptable and what we are prepared to tolerate by prudent financial management of the economy against the demands of the public. We have got to balance that and implement financial spending to ensure that the weaker sections are catered for and that we are investing in the future even in a borowing situation. That is the balance which we are striking in the budget. I would like somebody to highlight an alternative strategy before rushing to criticise the approach taken in the budget. In my constituency, after the initial criticism of the budget, particularly in the media, the people are saying that it was a realistic, progressive budget based on the circumstances.

The NIEC produced a report some time ago on productivity and management. That report referred to a very important area of our economy, lack of productivity and incompetent management. We have, for far too long, discussed industrial relations, the need for rationalising the trade union movement and neglected to discuss management and improved productivity. This is a very vital area to help us to get our economy out of the recession. If one wants to introduce savings in private enterprise, semi-State companies or the private sector the one mobile outlay is staff. There are fixed overheads, buildings and various commitments to spending which cannot easily be dispensed with. Staff can be dispensed with but that only achieves a situation where an organisation reduce their costs and put the costs on to the Central Fund. The Central Fund has then to come back and extract the contributions which people have made or that the State intends paying to social welfare recipients and we have the vicious circle being repeated. The only way we can insulate ourselves against this particular area of the economy is by productivity.

This morning's papers reported the President of the FUE criticising the strategy of the budget. What emphasis has his particular organisation put into recognising what the NIEC said in their report on productivity and management? They have a major role to play rather than a negative one, as is the case in relation to what one heard on the radio this morning.

Will some of the farm leaders not continually bring their industry into depression by negative critical comment? The farming sector have difficulties. The Minister for Agriculture meets farm leaders a few times a week but a lot of the critics of the present situation have held very important positions in the farm sector during the past eight or nine years. Where was their foresight, planning and advice? They are very long on criticism but very short on remedies. I do not feel, whatever political ambitions some of them may have, that they have made a real contribution during a time of difficulty by continually demanding excessive Government spending in an area which has gone into decline because of over-investment in a very concentrated period. We must ensure that we delicately induce the agricultural sector out of its present economic difficulties, but we must be constructive. We must look to farm leaders to play their part and recognise that some of the difficulties the industry is in now are of their making, and we cannot expect the Central Fund to provide funds for that particular sector to get out of their difficulties.

After the budget had been introduced Deputy Garret FitzGerald was quoted as saying the PAYE sector were pushed to one side. The major contributors of revenue to the Government are being asked to contribute more by some people in order to assist the agricultural sector. Where else do the funds come from? We hope the Brussels package will be high enough to ensure continuing growth in the agricultural sector. Everybody realises the importance of the agricultural sector for job creation and earning foreign currency. However, we must point out that there must be a balance in relation to what the PAYE sector can contribute in times of depression. We hope, if the agriculture sector need aid, we will get it from Brussels.

I believe we are on the right path and that the investment programme for 1981 is correct. We must be geared up so that when the European and world economies improve we can take advantage. I believe we are on the correct road when we consider the Government's strategy in the budget. I hope the current budget can be kept within its projected figure. If there is any further outlay in that particular direction there will be a burden placed on the growth sector. I compliment the Minister on taking the attitude he did in the investment plan and pressing forward to create the extra jobs necessary. I would like to remind the House again that while the unemployment figure is high we have created 80,000 jobs between April 1977 and April 1980.

I compliment Deputy Lawlor on his speech as far as it went. He was right in saying that at a time of depression a Government should, if they are able to do so, be expansionary in their budgetary policies. However, he did not mention the corollary that at a time of international and domestic growth a Government should cut back on expenditure. It is because Fianna Fáil did not do that in 1977, 1978 and 1979 that we are in our present mess. From 1977 to 1979 there was international buoyancy that would have provided jobs without extra Irish Government expenditure. The statement about Fianna Fáil having provided 80,000 jobs is unmitigated baloney. I assert, and the figures prove it, that they have created more unemployment through generating inflation and have put Irish manufacturers out of business because their costs became so high that they could not sell their products. That inflation was generated in the years of plenty, in the years of world growth and benign economic circumstances of 1977, 1978 and 1979. They ought at that stage to have continued our programme of a substantial reduction in Government borrowing and expenditure. If that had been done the cost of living here would be about 20 per cent less than it is and Irish goods would cost 20 per cent less than they do. The number of people in manufacturing industry and in employment generally would be much greater than it is at present. That is a sad fact of economic life, and the blame lies with Fianna Fáil.

The Government have an ample majority to do anything they want to if they know how to run the country. If they want to change a law, a system or economic circumstances by getting a decision from the Dáil they have the largest majority any Government ever had. I do not go with the clamour for a general election. I want the Government to use that majority to make the decision that need to be made and implemented. They are not doing that. That is my greatest disappointment with the budget and with their performance in general. Even as we lost office I had some feeling that perhaps Fianna Fáil with their majority would have the guts to rule the country properly. We did not have such a majority but we ruled properly. There was no suggestion in 1977 that the public finances were in a state of disorder. There was no suggestion that the cupboard was bare. Even when the Government changed our successors did not have the temerity to suggest that they discovered a bad situation. There were over £300 million of negotiated loans ready to be spent by them. We intended spending it wisely on investment and in capital expenditure. Instead it was frittered away on a spending spree which is still going on. Most of the spending spree has resulted in a massive increase in imports in many cases of consumer goods that used to be manufactured here. So we are losing on the double; we are importing what we once manufactured and our factories are closing down due to a spending spree of irresponsible dimensions.

Ireland is stumbling into an economic catastrophe and social upheaval of unprecedented dimensions. The Government know it and the country knows it. There is a sense of fear and apprehension gripping the country at present which I never experienced before. People are wondering how soon the collapse will take place. Everyone knows that it is coming and it is only a matter of when. What did this budget do? It shoved and kicked the economy and Irish society towards that catastrophe. Everything that could be done wrong was done wrong in the budget. We had a juggling of figures that no one believes. It pains me, as a Member of the House for 22 years and a former Minister for Finance, that we should have been presented with a budget that no one with any knowledge of finance or economics accepts as valid. I never remember so many people questioning the underlying arithmetic of a budget. I have never seen a presentation of a budget where people said one cannot rely on the figures and estimates of the Department of Finance. I do not believe that the figures of the Department of Finance were those that were read to us by the Minister for Finance on budget day.

There has been political interference with official estimates and reckless assumptions that no person in the financial world could make knowing the realities of the scene at present. I defy anyone opposite to produce an economist or financier who cares about his reputation in his professional field to support the conclusions that have been made in the budget. There are none. No one could say that the Government figures will stick. What they are saying is that on the track record of the present Government we are likely to see a borrowing requirement of £2 billion to meet the current deficit, the Government capital programme and the borrowing requirements of the State sector. That is £700 for every person in the State will be borrowed this year by the Government and that at a time of unprecedently high interest rates at home and abroad. Has responsibility been blown to the wind? Have they any conception of their obligations?

Even accepting the wisdom that was attributed to me by Deputy Lawlor that a Government are justified to spend during a recession there is no justification for borrowing at that level, particularly when more than three-fifths of the borrowing is required not to increase employment but to feed the inflation that Fianna Fáil started in 1977 and which is now running out of control. The inflation rate is well above, in some cases treble, the inflation rate of the nations with whom we have to trade.

Our borrowing this year, by a sleight of hand, is reduced on paper by the Minister from 14½ per cent to 13 per cent. Again this figure is not acceptable to anyone in the know. The figure of public borrowing in 1981 is likely to be, on a conservative basis, 16 per cent and possibly of the order of 20 per cent. When the European average is below 4 per cent Ireland is borrowing at a rate which is four or five times greater than the rest of Europe.

Farmers are disappointed and all Ireland should be disappointed that the proposed increase in agricultural prices for 1981 coming from the European Community will be of the order of 7½ per cent. There is no use in Ireland expecting the rest of the world or Europe to compensate for the sins of gross mismanagement by Fianna Fáil. I know the corridors of Europe, I walk them every week. I talk with my colleagues from other countries, not only in Parliament but in Commission and Council. And whenever one pleads the case for Ireland these days again and again one is faced with the answer: "It is not for us to run Ireland; it is for Ireland to put her affairs in order first."

How can one expect the rest of Europe to feed the inflation that we ourselves have generated? They are not going to do it. In fact it would be bad for us if they did. It would be like giving more drugs or alcohol to a drug addict or an alcoholic. It is not what we want. What we want is an application of some of the basic rules which govern all economies. The truth is that the Fianna Fáil goal set in the election manifesto of 1977 was never capable of being achieved and the way they attempted it has turned out to be catastrophic. It will be recalled that the Fianna Fáil Government admitted that they were engaged in a gamble — a gamble was the word used by Fianna Fáil to describe their policy, a gamble; it has flopped. They have lost and they are now asking the country to pay the cost. That cost will have to be borne very heavily by an economy that will shrink as the population will grow over the next few years. It is a burden that will have to be met particularly by our young people whose futures have been mortgaged in order to give Fianna Fáil a few years of temporary glory in government. Fianna Fáil have a unique capacity to talk economic nonsense which unfortunately leads them into a state of euphoria about the state of the country. They talk statistics, they talk about growth rate, when really they should be talking about economic flatulence because that is most of what we have had by way of economic growth in recent years, not real growth increasing the long-term capacity of this country to provide jobs but rather the feeding of inflationary flatulence. That is the kind of growth we have had. We have had in reality economic and social insanity.

I remember in this House when there was a lot less economic jargon spoken, when economic statistics were extremely rare, but there was a much better understanding then of the realities of life and of the limitations of taxpayers to pay tax to feed the ever demanding appetite of the Exchequer. We are now in a situation in which to some extent this national annual budget is no more than an historic relic because its relevance to the management of our economy is, to say the most, extremely limited. We have now a budget a week. We have ministerial increases in some essential goods and services ratified from time to time, increased ESB charges, increased CIE fares, increased social welfare contributions about which, of course, the Minister did not speak on budget day as he was claiming credit for a 25 per cent increase in social welfare allowances. Of course he did not mention that he would be collecting from those who are still lucky enough to work. We have had enormous increases in rates which have to be paid, peculiarly enough, now by the one sector of the economy that can provide jobs — they are penalised because they provide jobs — the industrial and commercial sector, they being the only people nowadays required to pay rates plus of course, the larger farmers who are required to pay part of their rates burden.

We have a society in which employment is decreasing, in which the decline in employment seems to be endless, in which the main sufferers because of this situation are the young people who have a right to expect from their country and from their betters a decent life, a decent home, whose prospects of achieving either in a declining economy, with increased numbers of people in the unemployment dole queues, becomes extremely remote. We have a society in which, because of Government policies, costs are increasing, as a consequence of which manufacturers are losing markets for their products in Ireland as well as finding that it is not possible for them to compete any longer in foreign markets. In consequence also industry and commerce have come to a standstill and the number of bankruptcies is reaching unprecedented proportions.

Although the outside forces now operating are not as difficult as they were in 1974 to 1976, the depression in Ireland — let us get rid of this euphemism of recession — is much more serious and will last much longer than it did in the mid-seventies. The cost of living for everybody is rising. Even the increases in incomes allowed by the Government to certain sectors have not compensated most people for increased cost. The tax burden is rising also; as the real value of the pay package diminishes the tax burden is rising. The Government are borrowing more, thereby adding to the burden that must be carried by the taxpayer, who must pay not merely for current costs but also for the interest on the money borrowed. And, of course, the balance of trade is in an appalling mess. For over 20 years Ireland was not threatened by difficulties in the balance of trade. In the mid-fifties there were difficulties because our trade got into serious imbalance. But, for over 20 years from then until 1979, there was no really serious problem created by the upset in the balance of trade, not even in the mid-seventies when, for instance, the price of petrol and oil was quadrupled, We have not a quadrupling of the price of petrol and oil now; they have gone up by, I think, 170 per cent. But when we had a 500 per cent increase, while we had a worsening of the trade balance, it did not become as grevious a threat as it now is.

Now the bad trade figures limit our room for maneouvre at a time of depression. Although there has been some slight trade improvement recently that is a reflection of the depression, of the loss of purchasing power. There is disinterest on the part of investors to invest. There has been a substantial reduction in investment, again a reduction much greater than happened in the mid-seventies, underlining the lack of confidence the business community has in the future of this country. Of course, it is not surprising because, as I pointed out, industry and commerce are being penalised, which is a very ironic situation having regard to the fact that not merely are they the only people who can provide extra sustainable jobs but they with farmers are also the only people who can help to correct this appalling balance of trade.

I suggest that the time has come to remove rates from the business community. It is insupportable that the Government, having already removed rates from private domestic dwellings should now leave rates on those who can employ people. It is a taxation on employers, a taxation on industry and commerce and, if it was justifiable to remove them from private dwellings, then they should be removed from industry and commerce. This budget, in a year of serious depression in industry and commerce, adds to the burden of the only people who can give employment in the country, who can generate the wealth out of which taxation can be paid in order to fund the Exchequer. When businessmen are experiencing difficulties, instead of at least not adding to their burden — and that is the least that could have been expected — the Government have deliberately decided to force them to pay one-and-a-half years taxation in one year. The result is that this year alone, in the most difficult year experienced by industry and commerce in over 40 years, in this year when their backs are to the wall, when there are company liquidations and bankruptcies at a rate never previously experienced, this Government say "we are going to stick you for another £66 million and you had better pay it up this year".

Merciful hour, have they no understanding of how business operates? Have they no understanding that business is on its knees? Do they read the papers if they do not do anything else? They are driven around in cars. They could read them in their cars if they will not read them anywhere else. They know that business simply is not in a position to carry this burden. I suspect that the reality is that it will be like the resource tax on farmers where the Government anticipated collecting £7 million last year and they collected a quarter of a million pounds. I do not believe industry will be able to pay that £66 million this year, which shows another element of the ridiculous nature of the budget arithemetic. I would ask the Government, plead with the Government, for goodness sake not to insist this year upon an advance date for the payment of corporation tax. I know the arguments about taxation equity. I suppose I was crucified because I was and still am, a believer in making the taxation code as far as practicable equitable so that everybody is treated fairly, but this is not a year in which to insist that the business community pay one-and-a-half years' tax in twelve months.

There is another element which indicates to me a lack of understanding on the part of the Government of the problems of employers and the self-employed particularly. Last year they gave an additional allowance of £400 to PAYE taxpayers. This year the sum was increased to £600. That is good for the PAYE taxpayer. But why not give it to the small business man as well? Why not give it to the shopkeeper who is an essential element in the sale and distribution of goods? These are people who are still required to pay rates while others are relieved of rates. Why would they not be given the same benefit? It is desirable to recall that with the exception of the PAYE allocation of £600 this year and £400 last year the individual personal allowance of other income tax payers was not increased. There are some marginal adjustments in the bands and so on but the small employer, the individual trader, the sole trader as the person is called in the tax code, has not received this benefit and I again suggest that the Government should be particularly keen to come to the relief of employers not simply for the purpose of easing their lot but to encourage them to employ.

Last year we had a savage tax put upon one of the essential ingredients of industry, oil used in manufacturing processes, so that the cost of oil to Irish industry is dearer than anywhere else in Europe. If we were still occupied by the Brits they could not devise a better method of harming Irish industry than some of the policies applied by the present Government. I would plead once again that the Government having already crucified industry by reckless incomes policies, would at least come to their aid by removing the tax on oil used in industry.

We have also this year a savage and unnecessary increase in the tax on petrol and diesel. I accept the need to discourage people from consuming excessive quantities of petrol and diesel. My track record shows that. But at a time when it was necessary to cool the rate of inflation it was not a time to increase tax on petrol and diesel, which again is a burden that has to be carried by industry. Industry will endeavour to pass it on. But the trouble is they will think we have reached saturation point as far as the passing on of some manufacturing increases are concerned, so the likelihood is that instead of being passed on to the consumer directly the additional cost that industry and commerce has to carry in this regard will lead to a substantial reduction in profits or indeed to losses while the depression lasts.

Then we have the Government very directly itself increasing postal and telephone charges by 25 per cent. That means that within a year and a day the Government have increased postal and telephone charges by 45 per cent. On 1 April 1980 there was a 20 per cent increase; on the 1 July 1980 there was a 25 per cent increase and on the 1 April 1981 there is to be another 25 per cent increase. That is a 45 per cent increase in the Government services in a matter of a year and a day. Have they no conception of the fury of people that they should behave in such a way? How can they ask others to accept income increases of 10 or 15 per cent or even less? We recall that when the second national understanding was under discussion there were talks that wage increases should be 5 per cent — yet the Government increased telephone and postal charges by 45 per cent in a year and a day. All these burdens, while they have to be carried by everybody, have in particular to be carried by those who can create jobs if the Government would only get off their backs. But the Government seem to want to ride on the backs of industry and commerce, the only people who can supply sustainable jobs and generate the wealth to sustain people in the public service and in the service industries. I am not overlooking the contribution of farmers, which I will come to shortly, but the main area of job growth must be in industry and commerce and in the service industries and it will not be in farming, as we know, for very significant reasons.

Now I would like to turn to the question of housing. In relation to housing I want to urge the Government to reduce the rate of stamp duty on houses. I think that the last time the stamp duty on house purchases was reduced was in the budget which I introduced in 1973. I regard it as unacceptable that the rate of stamp duty on houses which have in the meantime increased in value by 400 per cent should be at a rate which was fixed in 1973. Another aspect in relation to housing arises out of the Government's proposal to give a 100 per cent allowance to private sector investors in reasonable housing accommodation which is built to let. I want to attack this head on. That proposal is an outrageous proposal. It stinks just like the Fianna Fáil policy of giving 20 years' exemption for profits made from mining exploration. It stinks like the other exemptions from taxation which Fianna Fáil have given to selected classes down through the years. It is not acceptable in a society which is concerned with equity in taxation that any activity should be totally relieved of tax, because not only does total relief from tax confer a direct benefit because the beneficiary is not required to pay but it also leads to a situation of tax avoidance and tax evasion because the Revenue Commissioners cannot keep track of untaxed profits. Therein lies the scandal and I assert that this proposal to give total tax exemption of 100 per cent allowance for people of substantial wealth to invest their wealth in the provision of housing accommodation to rent is going to generate a new scandal and a new sense of injustice.

Debate adjourned.