Estimates, 1987. - Vote 3: Department of the Taoiseach (Revised Estimate).

I move:

That a sum not exceeding £6,998,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 1987, for the salaries and expenses of the Department of the Taoiseach, including certain cultural and archival activities and for payment of certain grants-in-aid.

It is necessary that I should avail of this debate to give the Dáil and the general public a progress report on the Government's performance since we assumed office in March last.

Even before I came into office I had been able, by courtesy of the out-going Taoiseach, to receive a comprehensive briefing on the state of the economy and the public finances. The story that unfolded then and subsequently was an intimidating one and the state of the public finances was clearly a cause of deepest concern. Worse still, the general state of the economy was such that there was no immediate prospect of increased economic growth providing additional resources to help solve the problem.

By the beginning of this year the country's national debt had risen to £25 billion and was continuing to rise steadily and inexorably. We were heading in 1987 for the addition to the debt of still another £2 billion. This process of going further and further into debt could not continue without threatening the future viability of the State. Action could not be postponed. The realities had to be confronted. I would like to emphasise as strongly as I can that this was not a matter about which there was room for debate or disagreement. There was no scope for compromise or temporising. Remedial action of a major kind was urgently required. It is not legitimate for any Deputy in this House to deny that reality; to try and gloss over the stark facts of the situation, to suggest there was some alternative or that we could simply go on as we were. We could not.

A few key figures give the picture clearly.

In this year almost one-third of all tax revenue will have to go to service the public debt.

In this year after all the cuts that have been imposed the State will still borrow over £1.8 billion. That is not much less than the cost of servicing the national debt.

It is now essential in the national interest that Government action succeed in continuing to reduce the current budget deficit and that within a limited period the national debt should not rise any further relative to GNP. If we are to achieve this, the total level of Exchequer borrowing for all purposes in any year should not exceed and preferably should be less than the total of estimated growth plus inflation, in other words nominal growth in GNP. In this year growth is conservatively estimated at 1 per cent and inflation at 3 per cent. Exchequer borrowing therefore needs to be reduced to less than 5 per cent. In fact in this year it will be 10.7 per cent. These figures clearly show that we have a long way to go to get on top of the problem.

This Government have firmly set for themselves the following policy objectives which are interdependent and related to each other: to restore the public finances by reducing overall Government expenditure; to reduce Government borrowing and to stabilise and then reduce the growth of the national debt as a percentage of GNP; to restore confidence, bring down interest rates and maintain the stability of the Irish pound within the EMS; to stimulate and encourage economic growth, investment and employment in every possible sector of productive activity; to reduce the overall burden of taxation and in particular the level of direct personal taxation, and to reform the tax system to make it more equitable and to improve the cost-effectiveness and equity of our social services.

With regard to the first objective, the Government in formulating and implementing this year's budget had by force of circumstances to resort to the process of reducing Government expenditure right across the board, coming down more heavily on those areas which accounted for the greatest level of expenditure. There was no alternative to that approach. Having been compelled, however, by the urgency of the situation to start the process of corrective action in the budget we proceeded immediately afterwards to set about tackling Government expenditure in a much more thorough and selective manner. All expenditure is now being examined thoroughly and in detail during the remainder of this year. In this way we hope to achieve further reductions in expenditure during the current year. But the primary purpose of the exercise is to enable us, well in advance of 1988, to have taken decisions on a prudent and realistic basis on the estimates of expenditure for 1988. This will represent a significant improvement in the administration of our financial affairs. A high level committee in the Department of Finance are now undertaking this task with the full co-operation of the accounting officers in all the different Departments of State.

With regard to the stimulation of economic activity, I would like to refer Deputies to the comprehensive Programme for National Recovery which Fianna Fáil published in advance of the last general election. In that programme we gave an outline of specific measures which we intended to take in each different sector of the economy. Since assuming office we have been following through on that programme in all the areas outlined.

With regard to taxation it is obvious that the current state of the public finances has allowed little immediate scope for reductions in taxation. However we are quite clear in our minds that two things are essential to get economic growth under way again, firstly a reduction in interest rates and, secondly, a reduction in personal taxation. If we can succeed in our efforts in getting public expenditure down to a sustainable level it should be possible for us to start looking realistically at reductions in taxation.

The budget introduced by the Minister for Finance in March is central to our approach. The limits set for expenditure and borrowing are fundamental to our policy. The discipline imposed by these targets is being and must be adhered to. Circumstances this year do not allow any room for slippage. Budget limits are being carefully monitored. So far, the signs are that the targets will be met, but the balance is a fragile one, and, as the Minister for Finance has pointed out, if further action is required it will have to be taken. I believe that the firm action we have taken and the discipline we have imposed is receiving widespread support. The belief that there is now leadership and control is bringing back confidence. One beneficial result is that the disastrous outflow of funds from our economy has been reversed.

The high interest rates of recent years have been preventing investment and inhibiting the growth we need to provide jobs. Of course, further downward movement will be strongly influenced by the trend in international rates as well as by the extent to which confidence at home builds up in our ability to solve our problems. This confidence in turn depends on our success in curtailing and reducing Government spending and borrowing. We have made a start. Current Government expenditure had climbed in 1986 to 56.2 per cent of GNP. This year it will be reduced to 55 per cent of GNP and that process must be continued. There is no other way. For too long we have been living at a rate we cannot afford, enjoying a standard of living we were not earning by our own efforts. Until the time comes when we can generate greater growth in the Irish economy we must reduce State spending right down to the actual level of resources available.

The whole tradition of Fianna Fáil Governments back to the early thirties is one of active intervention to promote economic and social development in accordance with the resources available. Since the late fifties much progress was achieved on the basis of economic plans or programmes, with increasing involvement and participation by the social partners. The philosophy behind The Way Forward, the reduction of Government borrowing to a sustainable level on the one hand and active sectoral development policies on the other remain at the basis of Fianna Fáil policy and was at the heart of our Programme for National Recovery.

Substantial reductions in current expenditure were recognised as necessary by the last Fianna Fáil Government in The Way Forward in 1982. The Coalition Government in 1983 took the wrong turning. They relied instead on massive increases in taxation in an attempt to avoid the necessity of expenditure reductions. We criticised this in Opposition. We also criticised the one-sided emphasis on the public finances which was not accompanied by any serious effort to promote economic development.

The principal initiatives we are now taking as a Government are based on the policies we elaborated in Opposition and which we put before the electorate in our Programme for National Recovery, which took into account the circumstances in which this country found itself at the beginning of this year.

As far back as 1985 I promised in my Árd Fheis speech to bring forward a major programme of national economic recovery. Many of the important policy initiatives we are now implementing, the setting up of the Department of the Marine, a science policy for development with a Minister of State in charge, a horticultural development board, a Department of Agriculture and Food to build up a food processing industry, were first announced by me at successive Árd Fheiseanna in the years 1984-86 and in many cases were later elaborated in full-scale party policy documents.

At the Fianna Fáil business conference on 18 January 1987, before the election, I set out our policy for the public finances. I stated:

We see the level of interest rates as of crucial importance to our central programme of economic recovery... There is no doubt that the persistently high current budget deficits which the Coalition has incurred are a major factor in causing the present high level of interest rates.

In the stringent financial framework set out at the front of our programme we were the first political party ever to place a firm ceiling on Government expenditure, and we committed ourselves both to the progressive reduction of the current budget deficit and the slowing down and halting of the growth of the national debt-GNP ratio in line with the NESC report of last autumn. At the press conference to launch our election programme I stated that the estimates for every area of public expenditure would be examined rigorously and in detail "and reduced to the irreducible minimum". We made no spending promises, and made it very clear that there could be no question of increased net public expenditure. The approach we have adopted as a Government is, therefore, firmly based on our published election Programme for National Recovery, which summed up all we had argued for in Opposition.

That approach has as its other aim positive and determined action to stimulate growth and investment in every sector of the economy that offers scope for development. Development in all such areas is the positive corollary to financial discipline. It is vitally important that the dynamism and ability in all sectors in the Irish economy be harnessed to produce growth and jobs. The Government are at present engaged in incorporating this approach in a medium term economic programme designed to tackle the problems and develop the opportunities.

In formulating this medium term programme we have decided to seek a realistic consensus with the social partners and to avail fully of their expert knowledge and experience in the preparation of the plan. The NESC study on A Strategy for Development provides the basic framework for this work.

The establishment of a constructive dialogue with the social partners representing the main economic and social interests in our community, with a view to developing a programme for national recovery has been one of the most important endeavours of this Government. As stated in our election manifesto, a consensus with the social partners is in our view an essential element in planning economic development. Such consensus is all the more important in the face of the acute economic and social problems we face, problems probably unprecedented in the history of the State and problems whose gravity few other countries in the Community face. The appalling level of unemployment — almost the highest in the European Community — must, alone, unite us all in a major combined effort to put our nation back on the road to economic and social recovery. In fact this kind of spirit exists among all the social partners. The social partners, through the National Economic and Social Council, had already by an exceptional and determined effort, agreed on the principles of a strategy for national recovery. The Government have accepted the broad thrust of those principles and the process we are now engaged in is to turn these principles into a practical detailed programme of decisive action by the nation as a whole over the next three to five years.

A special impetus has been given to the discussions by a request from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to the Government to prepare, through discussions and consultations, a development programme which would balance the various requirements for economic growth and social justice in a fair and equitable way and which would launch a new period of economic recovery.

Working groups have been established on employment and development measures, taxation, social policies, and the environment for industry, agriculture and construction. These groups will examine proposals tabled by the social partners and by Government and will bring forward agreed proposals for policy initiatives which can be incorporated into our Programme for National Recovery.

No programme of national recovery can be easy which tries to tackle the fundamental causes of the lack of growth in the economy and to bring order and stability to our public finances and to bring about a better and fairer distribution of the resources and the opportunities in our society. It is clear that the social partners understand the difficulties and are prepared to examine and discuss, in the interests of all, how Government and social partners together can formulate such a programme.

The objectives of the medium-term programme are fourfold, covering macro-economic policy; development of the economy with particular reference to new employment; tax reform and tax equity; and reform of our social policies. These four elements are interdependent and interactive and the programme will contain specific measures and commitments in regard to each element.

As regards macro-economic policies, we must succeed within the time-span of the programme, in first stabilising and then reducing the GNP-national debt ratio. Otherwise interest on the national debt will continue to grow, as it has been doing, at a pace which consumes an ever-increasing share of our resources.

Unless we halt that process, we will have less resources each year to spend on new activity. The corrective process will not be painless. We, and the social partners, consider, however, that such a corrective process alone is not sufficient and needs to be accompanied by measures to bring about greater growth in the economy and in employment. In fact, such measures will also contribute to restoring the public finances. The more people we can put back to work by our development measures, the more tourists and exports we can generate, the faster the economy will grow and generate greater buoyancy of revenue even at lower tax rates. By bringing about a better balance in the public finances we will also bring down interest rates which in turn will reduce the burden of the public debt service.

Our macro-economic policy also envisages maintaining the stability of the Irish pound within the EMS. This stability will also help to reverse last year's outflow of funds. This will increase the liquidity of the money markets here, again helping to bring interest rates down.

These macro-economic policies are already working. Interest rates have come down and the haemorrhage of funds out of the country has been effectively reversed. I would recall in this context what we said in our election manifesto —"A major priority will be to use all policy instruments at the Government's disposal to reduce the level of interest rates so as to encourage investment. In this context Fianna Fáil will seek by establishing trust and confidence in Government policy and intentions to attract back funds that have gone abroad recently". That has been happening.

Inflation is now down to its lowest level in 20 years, and has dropped below 3 per cent per annum. Only excise duty increases and other price increases imposed at the beginning of the year have prevented it from being much lower still. This year's budget with its emphasis on expenditure reductions instead of tax increases has contributed to this low rate of inflation.

Our inflation rate is now lower than in most OECD countries. Inflation is around 4 per cent in Britain, the United States and Italy and at over 3 per cent in France. There is no inherent reason why we cannot bring inflation down close to zero, as is the case in Germany, Japan and Switzerland. Our level of inflation can no longer be used as an excuse for lack of competitiveness. Our present low rate helps to underpin the stability of the Irish pound exchange rate, and should help regain some competitive edge. It is helpful also for those on social welfare who will be getting a 3 per cent increase next month.

An inflation rate of under 3 per cent is something very valuable and important. It is of significance for those involved in wage negotiations or arbitration. It fully justifies the firm guidelines on pay which the Government will be strictly adhering to. We must aim at a situation where annual pay negotiations to compensate for inflation are no longer necessary, and where pay increases come from improved productivity and result in real income increases.

In the public service many employees received substantial annual increments of between 2½ and 4 per cent. We will not succeed in containing public expenditure as long as the public service pay bill, which is £2.8 billion this year, in spite of restrictions on numbers, continues to increase by several points more than inflation, as has happened in these last three years. Agreements this year concluded by the previous Government have been honoured by us but we cannot again permit the public service pay bill to increase by double the rate of inflation as it did this year.

It has been a notable failure of industrial policy to date that it has not succeeded in developing our indigenous manufacturing companies particularly those using our own raw materials. All the other small countries of Europe have been able to develop their own manufacturing capacity, as distinct from the valuable input from overseas investment. So much so that it is clear that our manufacturing sector is significantly smaller that it should be if we were to succeed, as they have, in developing our own resources and abilities. We believe that Ireland has the skills, the raw materials and the ability to develop much further its own domestic-based manufacturing capacity and our industrial policy must be directed to that end. State support must be concentrated on the Irish companies that have a clear potential to increase exports and employment. The development of our horticultural, forestry and marine resources which are now under way are other examples of this basic policy orientation and, what is more important, of the capacity and the determination of the Government to put it into action.

The whole strategy for industrial development, the institutional arrangements for industrial development and the thrust and effectiveness of industrial policy are being reviewed. Detailed discussions with the IDA are taking place. We have had many notable successes in terms of industries brought into this country. We have also had some major failures, and we must learn the lessons taught by both the successes and the failures.

When all the existing grants and tax incentives are added together the overall annual cost to the State is a formidable figure and it must be acknowledged that the matching results particularly in recent years have been fairly disappointing. On the other hand, it must also be realised that the international scene in this regard has changed dramatically. The competition for mobile international investment between countries is now intense and other European countries and even individual cities are offering very attractive packages. The IDA are now paying close attention to the Far Eastern market, to which resources have been reallocated where important opportunities are now seen to be arising.

However, it is very encouraging that the first major industrial project to be approved by this Government, and the first large project to come along for some time has been launched by an Irish firm and is based on the produce of Irish farmers. I refer to the decision of the Goodman Group to invest £260 million in new meat-processing facilities throughout the country.

The underdeveloped state of our food processing industry has been apparent for quite some time. In the early days of EC membership the continuous price increases and availability of intervention storage meant there was no great pressure to develop more sophisticated food products. The main emphasis was on increased production. Recent trends in the CAP have made it very clear that this heavy reliance on intervention must end and that we must process our agricultural produce into quality foodstuffs and find markets for them.

In our Programme for National Recovery we stated that Fianna Fáil would lead a market-driven approach to food-production, creating new opportunities for adding value. We outlined our plan to integrate the entire agricultural and food sectors so that we can quickly adapt to changing patterns of consumer demand, and we expressed our ambition to make Ireland, “a quality food producer of international importance”.

In Government we have taken the necessary action in accordance with that concept. The Department of Agriculture have been expanded into the Department of Agriculture and Food and a Minister of State appointed with special responsibility to fully develop the potential of the food processing sector. The new Goodman project involves an investment in our beef industry of £260 million in 11 centres around the country and covers all the main regions. It is the intention of the promoters to put our beef into world retail outlets as the premium market leader. The grass-based methods of cattle production used here, the quality of our environment are factors we can capitalise on, by producing meat to the highest technical standards. It is an early and welcome sign of that return of confidence which is needed for investment to start again.

We have identified the financial services sector as an area where we have advantages. Those countries in Europe which have made conscious efforts to develop their financial services industry have seen a major return in terms of jobs and economic activity. We have the necessary ingredients in Dublin for a financial services centre — a prime city site in the Custom House Docks, an educated computer-literate young work-force, a favourable time zone location, and an excellent telecommunications system of international standard.

The arrangements for the development of the Dublin Financial Services Centre has been entrusted to a top-level committee representative of the financial services industry, the IDA and CTT. A special unit to market the centre has been set up in the IDA. The passage of this year's Finance Bill will put in place a package of incentives. It is now clear from the level of inquiries we have received, both from domestic and international interests, that the demand to locate at the centre will be such that we may have to enlarge and extend it.

This kind of illustration of this Government's capacity to make decisions and to implement them quickly and effectively is beginning to restore confidence in the management of the economy among the business community at large and to generate new investment and new business initiatives and enterprise generally.

On another front we took swift and effective action to stop the abuse of the cross-Border travellers allowances. Some £300 million annually was leaking out of our economy in artificial travel generated by these travellers allowances. Our view was very simple and sensible. It was unacceptable that these allowances should be allowed to cause a distortion of normal trade. That this trade was entirely artificial and generated solely by the travellers allowances — which should properly be only a concession for normal travel — is proved by the fact that day shopping expeditions have now virtually ceased. The economic importance of the measures we took is self-evident and highlights the determination of the Government to get to grips with problems and solve them.

Export performance so far this year has been strong. A 5 per cent growth for 1987 is now being forecast, compared with very weak growth in 1986. Last month for the first time ever Irish exports exceeded £1 billion. Because economic growth must be export driven however we are concentrating on improving our export performance still further. The new export trading houses which are being encouraged by tax incentives are designed to help small firms to export which do not have the resources or the expertise themselves. Nearly all the development measures we are initiating, in financial services, forestry, food-processing, horticulture are export-orientated.

We must constantly try to improve industrial relations. A bad industrial relations situation in an area or an industry kills investment in that area or sector. It is tragic to see a town or locality devastated by the closure of a thriving business or factory because of some dispute that goodwill and commonsense could have resolved. Jobs today are too precious to be gambled with. Everyone, on the factory floor, in the office, in the boardroom must face the realities of the fiercely competitive world we live in today.

We regard the semi-State sector as providing an important strategic resource for growth and development of the economy. We will restore to the State companies their role as development corporations. I have already met the chief executives of all State-sponsored bodies and I would comment that they, together with their colleagues in each agency, constitute a formidable bank of talent, ability and expertise. We propose to harness these resources as part of the Programme for National Recovery now being elaborated with the social partners.

The State-sponsored bodies, therefore, have been asked to submit to their relevant Ministers by end-August any development proposals they could undertake which would increase employment and earnings. These will be considered in the context of the programme. Where legislative changes are necessary to enable such development proposals to be undertaken, consideration will also be given to these.

The corporate plans of State-sponsored bodies will be given a new focus so as to ensure that these plans become the basis for constructive dialogue on policy and development between the bodies and their parent Government Departments. I propose to continue with these meetings so as to ensure that the full potential of the semi-State sector can be realised, their difficulties understood and any obstacles to their full contribution to the economy removed.

Our failure to date to develop and implement a full-scale science and technology policy has been a serious deficiency in our economic development strategy. It greatly inhibited investment in industry in particular. This Government are determined to make good that defect.

We need innovation, new products, applied research. Science and technology must be consistently applied to natural resources, to produce new marketable products; third level institutions must be brought into an increasingly close working relationship with industry. Spending on science and technology and on research up to now has been spread over a number of different Departments and agencies. To ensure a new kind of central direction and co-ordination we now have a Minister with special responsibility for this area. We have provided him with a budget of £2.5 million for the remainder of this year by re-allocating funds within the Department of Industry and Commerce. This modest budget has been prudently allocated to endeavour to get the best return and includes the key areas of bio-technology and micro-electronics. I recognise this is only a modest beginning, but it is our intention that the science budget should be a permanent feature from now on. The whole area of science and technology will occupy a central role in our plans for economic development. The Programme for National Recovery identified our national resources as a major source of development.

We are putting a new emphasis on horticultural development, an industry which is labour-intensive, and which is far too import-dominated at present. Following on the appointment of a Minister of State an interim non-statutory board, An Bord Glas has been set up, which will help to organise the industry. The decision to extend the gas pipeline through north Dublin to Drogheda and Dundalk will be of great assistance to the horticultural industry in that catchment area. Our target is to replace £37 million of imports and to generate £23 million in exports, which should create significant additional jobs.

We plan to greatly expand production from our forests and to increase planting levels. The Government have decided to set up a semi-State body on the lines of An Bord Post and Telecom Éireann to manage our forests along fully commercial lines, and legislation will be introduced in the autumn session. There is enormous potential in forestry for import substitution, for exports to the rest of Europe for the foreseeable future and for further development in wood-processing. Our aim would be to increase employment in forestry and timber processing by several thousand between now and the end of the century. Ireland has very real natural advantages, in particular, space and climate, we have the fastest growing trees in Europe, and there is a market for everything we can produce. The aim of this Government is to give the whole sector a new commercial dynamic. This year State and private planting will reach an all-time record of 11,000 hectares, 1,000 hectares in excess of the target set out in our election document, Forestry — A Programme for Development.

Another area to which we propose to give a new priority is our marine resources. In accordance with our 1985 policy document a new Department of the Marine has been set up, and we are actively planning the setting up of a Marine Research Institute. The wealth potential off our coasts has never been properly exploited. We envisage a major expansion in mariculture to enable Ireland to catch up on our principal competitors.

The Government will endeavour to have the question of Ireland's quotas reopened at Community level. I am particularly disturbed by parliamentary evidence that fishermen of one member state of longstanding have been over-fishing their quotas with Government connivance both in Irish waters and elsewhere, and that false returns have been made to Brussels. The implications of this and any appropriate action will have to be considered carefully.

Ireland was left in a vulnerable situation following the liquidation of Irish Shipping. To help re-establish an Irish shipping fleet we have extended the business expansion scheme and the 10 per cent corporation tax rate to the shipping industry.

We have authorised the extension of the natural gas pipeline from Dublin to Dundalk. As part of the Valoren Programme adopted by the EC we have approved a number of important peat development projects in the midlands and west, as well as a number of small hydro-electricity schemes. No contribution that can be made by our natural resources, however modest, to an economic development, should or will be neglected.

The Government are also concerned about the price of energy, especially electricity and oil products, which is higher than in most other European countries. The agreement recently entered into between the management and the work-force in the ESB, for instance, contained a range of measures to improve productivity. The Government wish to see these implemented and translated as soon as possible into lower prices for the consumer.

1987 will, I believe, achieve a major breakthrough for Irish tourism. The industry has now been given the priority which its enormous potential warrants. International tourist travel is expanding rapidly. West Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and France are in that order the most important countries of origin of international tourism in terms of the total number of nights spent abroad. Because of our links with the United States and our geographic location we are in a strong position to exploit these markets. For some time, however, we have not done so and we have actually lost market share in key markets. Immediately on coming into office this Government took action to reverse this trend. We set up the new Department of Tourism and Transport and instituted a crash programme to boost this year's tourist season. The central thrust of that programme was to reduce the price of access transport, accommodation and petrol. Early indications are that in the first four months of this year, traffic will be up by about 17 per cent. We are aiming for 20 per cent for the year as a whole.

We intend to introduce later this year a major development plan for Irish tourism. The objective of the plan will be to achieve a major increase in net earnings and employment. Four hundred thousand visitors bringing in an extra £100 million in revenue and creating 5,000 new jobs is what we are aiming at. The initiatives which we have already implemented as well as a long-term development plan which we are preparing will ensure that this sector is enabled to make its full contribution to our economic recovery.

The Government are proceeding with extensions to the runways at Dublin and Cork airports. We have also given a subvention to the Cork-Swansea Car Ferry, which was long demanded by the tourist interests in the south-west region. We have continued to give support to the B&I company despite its financial problems and the prospects of a good tourist season will not be jeopardised by any lack of that service.

In relation to infrastructure, a special priority must be given to road improvement where the pace of modernisation is still painfully slow. Where private investment can be involved the whole programme can be speeded up. The East Link Bridge was given the go-ahead in 1981 during my first Administration and it has been a very significant amenity. A second wholly private financial project is going ahead, the West Link Motorway at a cost of £31 million. The completion of a Dublin ring-road will have major priority.

The Government have reviewed their decentralisation programme. Within a month of resuming office we announced the decentralisation of sections of Government Departments to Ballina, Cavan, Galway and Sligo. This is only a first phase. The programme makes both economic and social sense. Offices will be built by the private sector and rented at lower cost than offices in Dublin, and will help young people to find office work in their own home areas.

The Irish film industry has yet to achieve its full potential. To facilitate the development of the industry, the Government have brought forward section 35 of the Finance Act, 1987, to complement existing tax incentives, so that it will in future be possible for corporate investors as well as personal investors to secure taxation relief on significant investments by them in the Irish film industry. The Government have thus created for the first time a suitable framework for substantial investment by the private sector to help Irish film production become a genuine business activity and thereby facilitate a continuing process of production of a wide range of film projects.

The Government have decided that this new provision for a tax incentive for corporate investment in film-making — an incentive long sought by the industry — should replace the support given by Bord Scannán na hÉireann and that, accordingly, that body should be wound up from a current date. As it happens, the mandate of the present board of Bord Scannán na hÉireann is due to expire on 5 October, 1987. The chairman, Mr. Muiris MacConghail, tendered his resignation as chairman on 10 June with effect from end July. The contract of the chief executive of the board is due to expire in mid-August and he has already indicated that he is not seeking the renewal of his contract. I would like to acknowledge the distinguished work done by the chairman, members of the board and the chief executive and to thank them for the services they have so capably rendered.

The Arts Council, which has a statutory function in relation to the promotion of knowledge, appreciation and practice of the arts, including the cinema, has expended close on £1 million in the period 1981-87 on film-related projects. The council will be able to continue that work out of the increased funds being made available to it.

The other essential element in the Programme for National Recovery will be tax reform and equity which we came into office pledged to achieve. The programme will progressively reform and improve the equity of our taxation system. We are currently engaged, in the programme discussions with the social partners, in ascertaining and articulating the necessary measures.

We have already taken definite steps toward tax reform and tax equity since coming into office by establishing a special task force as a separate and additional arm of the Revenue. This force is now making a significant contribution to collecting the arrears of taxes. Further administrative action in this area is being considered, particularly the possible introduction of self-assessment. Initially this will include corporations and the self-employed.

We have brought to an end the interminable dispute about farmer taxation. Farmers will now be taxed on the same basis as everyone else and pay their proper contribution to the administration of the State. The new withholding tax on professional fees paid by public bodies is a step towards bringing the tax treatment of those affected into line with the treatment of the PAYE sector. Our most important objective in income tax is to bring two-thirds of taxpayers down to the standard rate. This will be a major reform of the tax burden and will be achieved under the programme we are now elaborating.

This is an example of the comprehensive and complementary approach we are adopting to putting the economy back on the path to growth and expansion. While, on the one hand, we must reduce Exchequer borrowing, priority must also be given to reducing the burden of taxation on income tax payers so that greater discretionary spending power can promote growth, pay increase expectations can be moderated and a greater incentive to enterprise and work generated.

The other element in the Programme for National Recovery will be reform of our social services to bring greater equity into their application within the constraints of the public finances. There are a number of problems with the social services which impede their efficiency and equity. We must ensure that all services are operated in a cost-effective manner since the total spent by the Government in the health services, the educational system, social welfare, housing and on subsidies, amount to nearly £5.5 billion.

We must also ensure that the access and opportunities these services provide must have full regard to the needs of those served. In particular, the needs and requirements of the disadvantaged, economically and socially, must have priority. We are now at a stage in our economic and social development where we have built up in health, education, social welfare and housing publicly financed services which are very large and very costly. It is clear that there are inequities in the application of and the access to these services which we now propose to remedy in the context of the programme. By remedying these deficiencies we can contribute to the general acceptance of the adjustments that may be necessary in these and other areas of public expenditure.

This Government see themselves as an economic management team with the primary objective of managing the national economy back to recovery. To ensure that we can do this effectively and expeditiously we have carried through a major reorganisation of the machinery of Government. Government Departments have been restructured so that they can be more directly aligned to the needs of economic management and in a position to respond effectively to the economic priorities we have set. Ministerial duties and functions have been similarly reallocated for this purpose.

To give a new priority to the development of our maritime resources we have set up the new Department of the Marine. The tourist industry's nomadic departmental existence has been ended and the industry given the status it requires at Cabinet level. The reincorporation of the Department of the Public Service back into the Department of Finance has been carried through. The Department of Agriculture has been restructured to become the Department of Agriculture and Food, reflecting the vital importance of food processing to the further prosperity of our agriculture.

Several Ministers of State have been given strategic responsibilities through the creation of special offices. They have a special role and status as an integral part of the Government team. There are Ministers of State with special responsibility for forestry, the food industry, trade and marketing, science and technology, and horticulture. The results are already becoming apparent.

A new board to develop the horticultural industry has been set up and a similar one for forestry is on the way. Export marketing, science and technology and food processing are receiving urgent attention.

Our main concentration as a Government has been on the economy. From every point of view that is essential. A Government that is successfully managing the national economy and the public finances will have the ability and the confidence to confront all its other problems.

Fianna Fáil's basic position and long term aim in relation to Ireland as a whole continue to be as set out in the report of the New Ireland Forum. As far back as 1980 at the Dublin Castle Summit, the Irish and British Governments clearly identified the Anglo-Irish framework as the basis for political progress towards peace, reconciliation and stability on this island. We are continuing to use that framework including the more recent Anglo-Irish Agreement to try to achieve political progress and reform in the interests of all the people of Northern Ireland. We made it clear long before the February election that, whatever our reservations, international agreements would be honoured, and could only be changed by mutual consent.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs has already co-chaired a meeting of the Intergovernmental Conference in Belfast, and the mechanism of the conference and the secretariat will continue to be used by us as an instrument to seek reform and to clarify problems and difficulties as they arise.

We will through the conference strenuously pursue the achievement of equality of opportunity in Northern Ireland and the elimination of discrimination in employment there. We see this as a fundamental issue, which arouses legitimate concern among Irish people both here and abroad.

We will also be seeking meaningful reforms in the administration of justice so that the whole community there can have confidence in the impartiality of the courts, the laws and the police force. We will be giving special attention to economic co-operation between North and South, particularly in areas which will help to alleviate the unemployment problems being faced in both parts of this island, and we appreciate the assistance being given to a number of projects by the contributors to the International Fund.

People, North and South, must be given hope that a climate of moderation can be realised so that the search for peace and agreement can take place in an atmosphere free from hatred, violence and suspicion. The recent electoral success of the SDLP is a very welcome development and an encouraging sign that there can be no return to the failed structures of the past.

I promised some time ago that this Fianna Fáil Government would be an environmentally conscious one. In this, the International Year of the Environment, the Government can point to its continuing record of concern and action to ensure the protection of our environment and heritage. In dealing with the Kowloon Bridge threat and the rape of the oak woods at Coolattin we became very keenly aware of some glaring deficiencies in our legislation for dealing with environmental problems of this kind. We will be proceeding expeditiously to remedy those gaps, and there are a number of Bills dealing with oil and maritime pollution which will be introduced in the Seanad over the next few weeks.

The Minister for the Environment is establishing a special working group to make recommendations on whatever legislative, administrative and organisational action should be taken. This working group will have representatives of all the Departments and offices concerned as it is particularly important that the provisions in both the Planning Act in this regard, and the Forestry Acts are considered together. The House can be assured that this review will be carried out as expeditiously as possible.

My colleagues and I in Government are very conscious of the fact that in many areas legislation is urgently required. While our efforts in the months immediately ahead will, of necessity, be concentrated on dealing with the public finances and promoting economic development, we intend at the same time to pursue to the greatest extent possible a comprehensive programme of legislation.

Even though the Dáil will be in recess it is our intention to press ahead. For this purpose we intend that the Seanad will sit well into the summer and deal with as much legislation as possible. A great deal can be achieved if legislation is introduced in the Seanad and subjected there to detailed and thorough examination, and to the greatest extent possible, difficulties teased out and any deficiencies or anomalies eliminated. Legislation dealt with in this way by the Seanad during the summer can be available to the Dáil in the autumn and we could expect that because of the manner in which the legislation would have been dealt with in the Seanad, it could receive a reasonably expeditious passage through the Dáil. The Government would hope to have the following measures dealt with in this way: the Adoption Bill, the Companies Bill, the Family Law (Protection of Spouses and Children) (Amendment) Bill and the Children Bill; the Agricultural Credit (Amendment) Bill, a Bill to improve the standards of hygiene of local abattoirs; the Customs and Excise (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, which proposes to give additional powers to customs and excise officers to tackle drug smuggling; the Restrictive Practices (Amendment) Bill which deals with the issue of supermarkets seeking unwarranted contributions from suppliers and outlaws below cost selling; the Air Navigation and Transport Bill to promote greater security at airports; the Oil Pollution of the Sea (Civil Liability) Bill, the Sea Pollution Bill, which will enable the ratification of important international conventions and give us better protection from disasters like the wreck of the Kowloon Bridge, and the Shipping Investment Grants Bill, the Criminal Law Bill, the Video Recordings Bill and the Data Protection Bill.

I have outlined the progress we have been making in many difficult areas. I invite Deputies to look at this stage at our document published in the general election, Programme for National Recovery. They will, I believe, be surprised to see the remarkable progress that has been made already in undertaking the programme outlined. In virtually every area our policies are being actively implemented. In many of the strategic development areas, international financial services, tourism, food processing, science and technology, exporting, shipping, the film industry, decentralisation, to name but a few, this Government have already made key decisions that will give a major impetus to the sector or programme in question. I do not think that anyone can point to a Government in recent times which published such a comprehensive programme in a general election and which followed through on that programme so thoroughly and expeditiously.

This Government since elected to office have shown a firm and resolute determination to confront the financial realities and tackle the fundamental problems in the economy. On assuming office we saw clearly what had to be done and we decided that we would not be deterred from doing it by any political or electoral considerations.

It is the duty of a national political organisation like Fianna Fáil to face up to the task of the day; to recognise what is the national priority; to identify the problems and set about solving them. This duty takes different forms at different times in the nation's affairs. The challenge to this Fianna Fáil Government was to tackle head on the crisis of confidence which had arisen, to combat the sense of failure which had developed and which manifested itself most clearly in the queues of young people outside foreign embassies. Economic collapse was at the heart of the national malaise. We saw this clearly and decided to act urgently and decisively. We have demonstrated that our financial problems can be overcome with the necessary political will. We have shown that there are initiatives that can be taken by Government to promote new wealth and create employment.

Political leadership must be concerned about the real problems of the nation and developing the will and capacity among all concerned to tackle and overcome them. The difference between good Government and bad is often not so much a matter of different outlook as of relative determination. The very best policies are of no avail if they are not implemented. We are beginning to get things moving in the right direction both on the economic and financial fronts. Anyone, who for their own party political purposes, seeks to deflect us from doing the job that must be done will bear a heavy responsibility.

Only a few months ago the leader of Fine Gael, the former Taoiseach, said at the outset of this Dáil: "We are going to find it difficult at times to offer the degree of support which will be necessary for the Government to carry out their functions effectively and to overcome the great problems that face us and to take on the vested interests which are strangling this country. It will not be easy for an Opposition to support some of the measures the Government will have to take. Yet we will do so".

We have made visible and tangible progress in our first three months in office. In practically every area determined action has been taken. Confidence has returned and some of the basic economic indicators are exceptionally good. Money has flowed back into the economy, interest rates have been reduced, and there is a new and healthier climate for investment. If ever a Government acted solely in the national interest this is such a Government. Our only concern is to restore the Irish economy to sound good health and to take all the measures necessary for this purpose. The Irish people have a deep and long term interest in seeing the Government succeed. They have a profound hope that we will succeed. The sooner we can put our fiscal difficulties behind us, the sooner we can create new employment opportunities and commence a new era of development. We have still a long hard road to travel but we have made a brave start and I believe that the revival of national pride we need to carry us on to complete recovery can already be emerging.

An gcuirfear tús leis an díospoireacht faoi Roinn na Gaeltachta ag an bpointe seo nó an mbeidh díospóireacht eile faoi sin?

Tá cead agat tagairt a dhéanamh do Mheastachán ar bith atá os comhair an Tí.

An díospóireacht atá anseo, baineann sé le Roinn na Gaeltachta chomh maith?

Sea. B'fhéidir go mbeidh Aire na Gaeltachta ag teacht isteach níos déanaí.

(Limerick East): The Taoiseach's introductory speech to the Adjournment debate is a tapestry of fact, fiction and mythology which he hopes will become history. I have no doubt that the Taoiseach, as he has proved in the past, knows the correct thing to do. In 1980 he illustrated very well on television one of the best and briefest economic analysis of the country's problems. We have had a similar type analysis today although of greater length. Will he do it this time and, if so, what are the implications?

On a similar occasion in the Taoiseach's last administration in 1982, in the budget debate he said his Government intended to adhere to these targets through rigid control of the public finances and that should any additional expenditure become necessary, it would have to be made by a corresponding reduction in expenditure elsewhere. We have heard exactly the same today, in almost exactly the same words. In 1982 the current budget deficit overrun was £309 million which was 2.5 per cent higher than budgeted. We agree that the Taoiseach knows what to do but whether he and his party will do it is an open question on which the jury are still out.

The Taoiseach proposed six policy objectives. I should like to examine each in turn and to try to separate fact from fiction. Fianna Fáil policy is now Government policy and it will be interesting to see how it measures up to those objectives. The Taoiseach is committed to restoring the public finances by reducing overall Government expenditure. So far, so good. People all around the country are suffering from the effects of decisions made.

The current budget deficit is supposed to come in at the end of the year at 6.9 per cent of GNP. I hope the Taoiseach will be successful in doing that. We heard the commitment again today that if the coach goes off the rails further action will be taken. Is the train on the track? I understand, for example, that the unemployment figures for the year are now calculated by the Department of Finance at 247,000, although the budget for Social Welfare allowed for 242,000. There is a serious overrun there.

The Government have been tardy in many of the expenditure cuts they introduced and will not get the full year effect for which they budgeted. For example, the withholding tax will not yield enough and the Government are probably running over target by £100 million at present. However, I take the Taoiseach at his word and I presume we will have some action next week when the Dáil is in recess or, alternatively, in the early autumn. The half year returns will be interesting as they will be the first indication of whether the Taoiseach will do what he committed himself and the Government to do or whether we will have a repeat of 1982 in which there was the biggest overrun in the history of the State. We will wait and see. On this side of the House we can only encourage the Taoiseach. He knows the problems, I hope he will have the courage to implement the policy necessary in the national interest and that he will not deviate from it for party political considerations. If he does that we on this side of the House will encourage him to maintain the targets he laid down. However, a seminar will be necessary for the Members of the House, particularly for Fianna Fáil backbenchers, if they think this will be easy. I tabled a question two weeks ago to the Minister for Finance regarding the national debt which on 31 March stood at £25.380 billion. The cost of servicing it is £2.146 million.

There is a perception in the country — and certainly on Fianna Fáil backbenches — that the current budget deficit is being eliminated and that there will be no borrowing this year. We know the Government will have to borrow up to £2 billion this year; £1.87 billion is the budgetary figure which I think the Government will overrun. However, I will not quibble about it. The money borrowed will be added on to the national debt. Central to the way in which the public finances evolve over the coming year will be the rate of growth and the money value of GNP relative to the interest rate applicable to the national debt. This relationship also provides an indication of how restrictive Government policy will need to be if the public finances are to be put back on a sustainable path. At present, it seems unlikely that the rate of growth in the economy will exceed 2 per cent. Indeed I am being generous as it is unlikely that it will be exceeded in real terms in the period to 1990. This is allied to a prospective inflation rate of 3.5 per cent annually which means that the money value of GNP is unlikely to grow by more than 5.5 per cent per annum in the next three or four years.

The interest rate which currently applies to the national debt is not far short of 9.5 per cent and there is a good prospect that that will fall somewhat, by how much it is impossible to tell. A lot will depend on international factors and movement in the exchange rate of the £ and on the ability of the Government to fulfil policy objective number one of sticking to financial targets. On balance, it is reasonable to expect that interest rates on the national debt will come down to maybe 8 per cent over the period about which we are talking.

The prospects for GNP growth in interest rates is such as to require significant further restrictions in relation to public finances to do no more than halt the growth in the debt relative to GNP. In theory there can be a number of adjustments, tax increases or reductions in the capital programme, but from what the Taoiseach has said he does not intend going down either of those roads so he is left with the area of current expenditure. It will require cuts of £350 million in the 1988 budget relative to the 1987 outturn just to stand still on present targets. Everybody in the House should note that figure and take it in — £350 million of expenditure cuts of the 1987 outturn is what the Government are faced with as they go into the budget in 1988. You can run the numbers up and down, over and back and while you may gain £10 million here or £10 million there, you are still talking about cuts of £350 million of the 1987 outturn and that is to stand still, not to make progress. I hope the Taoiseach now that he has the bit between his teeth will go from 6.9 per cent down to 6 per cent on the current side. That is taking not even a full 1 per cent off it but we should encourage him to do that.

Where does the £350 million come from? There is another notion around, and I am afraid it has pervaded this House as well, that there is money there which is not being used at all if we could only find it, that the public sector and the Departments of State are flabby and that if they could have the fat taken out of them then we would have reductions in public expenditure, soft option reductions which would not hurt anybody. I can assure everybody in the House that any fat that was in the system has been long since taken out and to get a reduction of £350 million in the 1988 budget will be rough and tough.

When we ally to that the fact that 70 per cent of our current spending is on health, social welfare, education and housing, that is £5.2 billion, we do not have to have very developed imaginations to see where the axe will fall. There is the situation which is facing the Government. When the Taoiseach promises as a policy objective to reduce Government borrowing and to stabilise and then reduce the growth of the national debt as a percentage of GNP, I am informing the House and his own back-bench Deputies that just to stabilise it will involve horrific decisions later this year and early next year. I wonder will the Government stay on the rails to do that? Are we in this House being honest with the people and are all parties in this House being honest with the people when they point the finger at the Fine Gael Party and say "Why do you not vote the Government out? Why do you not take every possible opportunity to vote them out?" Is that the reasonable position, or is that the direction in which we should be going, faced with problems like that?

I do not know if the Taoiseach is a connoisseur of western movies, but in the standard western when the tall dark stranger finally draws the gun, the street becomes littered with corpses and it is usually the layabouts in the saloon who are the first to hit the ground. The aleckadoos who make the smart remarks about macho on this side of the House would want to think very carefully before they provoke the reaction which will put us all walking again and which will bring about a situation which is not in the national interest. No matter what Government are elected, whether it is a Fianna Fáil one with an overall majority, or an alternative Government or a minority Government again, the figures will not change and whoever brings in the 1988 budget will be faced with the scenario I have outlined.

I wonder at times if we are caught in the rigidity of our historic parliamentary systems and would we not be better, as we look at everything, to look at the way we operate in here also? Would it not be easier to get Members of this House to do what is necessary in the national interest if we had a fixed term period for the life of this Parliament in which to do our work? If we all knew there would be no election for the next four years, would not a lot of the play-acting stop? Would not many of the positions taken, the posing and codology and the bar talk, all at total variance with the pretentious speeches in the House, stop?

We have a real problem, the solving of which the Taoiseach set as his second objective. His back-benchers should know what it means. It means, for a start, £350 million off health, education, social welfare and housing, and I predict there will be a fair amount of screeching by the time that target is achieved. One might say if we had a single party Government with an overall majority all our problems would be solved, but history is against us there also. The worst Government this country ever had since the foundation of the State was that from 1977 to 1981, with the worst set of economic Ministers this State ever had. They broke the country and we are paying for it since — and they had the largest majority ever in the history of the State.

I should like to proceed to objective number three of the Taoiseach's speech. He says he will move to restore confidence, bring down interest rates and maintain the stability of the Irish pound within the EMS. I shall say this to the Taoiseach: he would have less trouble in restoring confidence if for four years he had not systematically, day after day, undermined it in this House and around the country. I remember the final session of the Dáil from October to December of 1986 when Fianna Fáil put down 13 motions, virtually one every second day, calling for an increase in Government expenditure in every one of them and voting in the lobbies to increase Government expenditure. Now we are to believe there has been a consistent thread through his economic and financial policies since he first became Taoiseach in late 1979, that any of us who think there may have been a certain inconsistency between thought and action were simply misled and that we do not see the historic record correctly. It would be a lot easier to restore confidence if the confidence had not been undermined in the first place by the Taoiseach and his party and the sensible voters know that quite well. That is why if there was an election now or in the immediate future, in the words of a distinguished Member of this House the Taoiseach's party would be "haugh-eyed".

Is confidence being restored? What are the signs of it? Yes, there are some signs that there is a restoration of confidence and as long as this party on this side of the House generally support the policy objectives of the Government party confidence will be maintained. It is as strong or as tenuous as that. The Taoiseach has made great play about the visual signs of restored confidence, money flowing back into the country, he said. Well, I do not know what the evidence is of money flowing back into the country but there was tenuous enough evidence of money flowing out of the country for any other reason except for valid trade reasons and for the purchase of currency abroad to make legitimate trading kills. Obviously, when the Irish pound went very high against sterling people bought sterling in advance so that they could settle later. Certainly, much of that happened but now that the pound is down to a more reasonable exchange rate that has tended to stop. There tends to be a flow back. We explained all that at the time, but the Taoiseach and his party said "this is not trade at all, this is the Fine Gael Government wrecking the economy". We were told that this is the DIRT tax and that when they got back to office they would abolish it as it was the cause of the outflows. The DIRT tax is still there and the Taoiseach and his party are glad of it. When they get the return on it at the end of the year their tongues will be out for it because they will have overrun on expenditure.

If money is flowing back into the country it is not as a result of the DIRT tax because it never flowed out because of the DIRT tax. This was another attempt by the Taoiseach and his party in their no holds barred opposition to the Fine Gael/Labour Coalition to undermine confidence in the economy. There is legitimate political opposition, but there has been a tradition here that Opposition did not undermine confidence in the national economy. The Taoiseach broke that rule and he will live to regret it.

One of the Taoiseach's objectives is to bring down interest rates. We will see how that measures up. Certainly there have been falls in interest rates since the budget and we are delighted with that, but the falls are not of great magnitude so far. Between the budget of last year and the adjournment of the Dáil falls in interest rates were bigger and that went on up to June last year. Our Government overran in the autumn, not by very much, a matter of £125 million at 1987 values compared to £309 million at 1982 values which the Minister for Finance Deputy MacSharry overran in the last Administration over which the Taoiseach had control.

In talking about declining interest rates, about what happened last autumn and about confidence, there is another Deputy in this House who should be ashamed of himself and he is Deputy Brennan. Last autumn I heard him on radio systematically predicting overruns of £600 million and £700 million with no basis for that. In undermining confidence in the Government, the Deputy had no hesitation in undermining confidence in the economy by deliberately talking up interest rates. I was sorry that Deputy Harney was associated with that at the time. These are the things which undermine confidence. There is no point in coming back now with thunder storm repentance and saying that we are building confidence, when the main element in that build up of confidence is that they have stopped the things they were doing to destroy that confidence 12 months ago.

There is a contradiction in the interest rate policy. I wonder why it is there. Why would 10 per cent of the mortgage interest relief be abolished if the policy is to reduce interest rates? Why not allow the benefit of declining interest rates go to the householder? Why hoard it up back into the maw of the Revenue Commissioners by ensuring that people with home loans pay more interest? Why would the Minister for Finance and the Government legislate to increase the tax rate from 35 per cent to 45 per cent on the profits which banks earn on the home loan sector of their business? The banks, being sensible business people will not load their lack of profitability on to the home loans side. They will spread the burden of that across the whole portfolio of their business and as a result there will be a break on the reducing interest rates in the banking sector, not simply in the home loan area but right into the investment side of their portfolios. The Taoiseach should look at this again. He is trying to ride two horses when it comes to interest rates. On the one hand he is trying to get them down but the Finance Bill contains two measures which push pressure in the opposite direction.

I have talked about interest rates before. Anyone with a home loan or overdraft immediately thinks of reduced interest rates as more money in the pocket. All that is true and then there is a little boost in consumer spending and that might generate a little growth in the economy but the main effect of reduced interest rates is that people who have money or companies who have money will invest in the wealth creating area of the economy, the risk taking area, and this will lead to employment. That is the main reason apart from debt servicing. To do that the Taoiseach will have to maintain his policy for at least 12 months and will have to be seen to deliver over the long term. People with money do not make investment decisions on the basis of death bed conversions which may or may not last. The Taoiseach will have to maintain the low interest rates and the curbs on public expenditure to which he has committed himself, right into the next budget and on to the one after before he will get the investment effect which falling interest rates will produce. To get the benefits of the Government's economic policies for electoral purposes, the Fianna Fáil backbencher will have to swallow the pill so far as the 1988 budget is concerned because until their sincerity is proved by taking at least £350 million off the 1988 budget, interest rates will fluctuate. They will not come down and stabilise, and people who watch interest rates will not make the investment decisions. Obviously if one can sit at home beside the fire and get 13 per cent for buying Government paper, one will do that rather than taking risks. But, if interest rates come down significantly and are perceived to be going to stay down over that long term, this can generate growth in the economy.

The Minister has recommitted the Government to maintaining the stability for the Irish pound in the EMS. The Taoiseach will have our full support on that objective. Exchange rates should not be debated and I have no intention of debating exchange rates while the Taoiseach sticks to that policy.

Another of the Taoiseach's objectives is to stimulate and encourage economic growth and investment in every possible sector of productivity. That is painting with the broad brush strokes all right. There is a certain sense in what the Taoiseach says. On the one hand one gets the environment right for productivity and investment and one then seeks to stimulate or fast grow particular sectors in the correct environment. We do not object to that strategy, a strategy which the Taoiseach inherited from us in a situation which was different from the situation we inherited in 1982. When we took office inflation was running at about 20 per cent. The inflation rate is running at 2.8 per cent when the Taoiseach's party has taken office. Fianna Fáil should not start claiming credit for lower inflation rates because they are a couple of months in office. We suffered hard to bring inflation rates down to that level.

The Taoiseach also talked about a better environment for exports. We are in surplus now for the first time since 1945/46. The greatest monthly surplus ever was in May of this year with no credit due to the Taoiseach or anybody on his side of the House. When they left office last autumn the balance of payments deficit was about 14 per cent of GNP. The fact that we are now in surplus and have an export lead economy is due to the economic decisions taken on this side of the House. I hope the Taoiseach will continue——

The Deputy has three minutes left.

(Limerick East): I have a lot more to say.

Let us consider some of the sectoral policies being pursued by the Government. The Taoiseach made great play about tourism. Does he expect us to believe that an initiative taken on the last day of March or in the first week of April and put into effect during the first week of May can effect this year's tourist season to any degree? It is ridiculous to claim that the harmless bit of nonsense which was announced about the tourist industry and which upset the relevant Minister to such a degree that he had to visit the studios in Montrose to make sure it went out over the airwaves has led to a 17 per cent increase in traffic this year. That is the silliest claim in his speech. Listening to the Taoiseach was like watching a film one had not seen before but which was similar to four or five others one has seen and which were made by the same director.

With regard to financial services I maintain that the 10 per cent tax regime will not apply to the Custom House Docks site in so far as it relates to American banks who set up subsidiaries here. When I said this here before the Minister for Finance told me I was wrong but he did not explain how I was wrong. I would like to remind the Taoiseach that one of the development agencies in this country is giving that advice in the board rooms of North American banks. When I had responsibility for industry and commerce I saw a detailed analysis of the effects on industrial development of the United States Tax Reform Act, 1986. It stated clearly that the 10 per cent tax regime would not apply to subsidiaries of American banks or finance houses because they would be taxed in America on current year terms for any profits that accrued overseas. If this is so, can the Taoiseach explain how he is going to achieve the targets for financial services he spoke about in the context of the Custom House Docks area?

I welcome the initiative on the food industry. For a very short time I was responsible for development in that sector. We all agree with the theory but the scope for development is limited. The Taoiseach said there was to be an investment of £260 million in the Goodman case over five years. We were told by the Minister for Agriculture and Food at Question Time yesterday that this would mean 600 permanent jobs. If it costs £260 million to produce 600 jobs what is going to happen to the 250,000 people who are unemployed. Where are we going to get the investment to produce the jobs for them?

While the Taoiseach said we were getting the environment for development right and were fast growing certain sectors no concern was expressed for the unemployed. This was the most disappointing feature of the Taoiseach's speech. The only initiative on the unemployed at present is the Jobsearch scheme. If the people who come to my clinics are representative of the way the scheme operates, it is obvious that it is an attack on the unemployed all right but that it is not much of an attack on unemployment. There was nothing in the Taoiseach's speech which would give hope to the people who are on the dole queues.

I hope the Taoiseach will adhere to the policies he has outlined. I am sorry I did not have more time to deal with the fifth and sixth policy objectives he outlined. In the sixth one he wants to improve the cost effectiveness and equity of our social services. There is not much equity in them at present because of the way the cuts are being administered. One of the most recent cases in my constituency——

I am sorry Deputy, we have to bring equity to the matter of time.

(Limerick East): This is my last sentence. A mother in my constituency who wanted to donate a kidney to her three year old child was going to be charged £10 a day in a public ward of a hospital for the ten days it would take to do the tests and transfer the kidney. If that is equity in our social system we would all want to think again.

I wish to move the amendment standing in the names of Deputy Harney and myself.

I am sorry Deputy but that is not possible at this stage.

The only motion we have before the House is one in respect of Vote 3, the motion being discussed at present.

I put down an amendment and it has been printed and circulated.

That does not make it in order.

Why is it not in order?

It is not possible at this point to move your amendment. The only motion before the House is in respect of Vote 3. The motion to adjourn is not the one we are discussing at present.

I have put down an amendment to the motion to adjourn.

It is not possible to accept that amendment at this stage.

That is the position. The Deputy knows we cannot have before the House at any stage two amendments being discussed simultaneously.

There is only one.

There is a motion in respect of the Estimates. We are discussing with this motion Revised Estimates for the Public Services, Votes 3, 4, 5, 6 and 36, one of which has been moved and the balance of which will be moved at the end of the discussion.

You told me a minute ago that we were discussing the motion to adjourn.

I told the Deputy that at present we are discussing — and I will give it to him as I gave it to him before — the motion for the adjournment for the summer recess together with Vote 3. It is not possible to move your amendment at this point as the only motion before the House is in respect of Vote 3. The motion to adjourn is being discussed with it.

No. 7 was ordered for today and I understand that we are discussing an adjournment debate.

That is correct, the motion to adjourn being discussed with it, but not moved.

I do not think I will worry too much about that.

The Chair would not like to impose any additional worry on the Deputy. The Deputy should accept the position as he knows it to be.

Perhaps you can tell me when it would be in order to move my amendment.

It would not be in order to move it now.

Now we know.

The Deputy knows that we cannot have before the House two amendments moved simultaneously or an amendment to a motion not moved.


Will the Deputies be patient and listen again? The motion for the adjournment for the summer recess is being taken in respect of the motion on Vote 3. The motion to adjourn is being discussed with it. The motion on other votes shall be moved at the end of the debate tomorrow.

On a point of order, which is the motion and which is the amendment?

There is a motion on Vote 3 for the Department of the Taoiseach.

Is there a motion also to adjourn.

There is a motion to adjourn.

That is not an amendment, that is a motion.

We have a motion on Vote 3 and no motion to adjourn. It is being taken at the moment for the purpose of discussion. Perhaps Deputy O'Malley may move his amendment tomorrow when the debate has concluded.

I hope you have not blown the starting whistle yet because you have used up five minutes of my time.

I have not used up the time. The Deputy has used up his own time.

The position is that I cannot move a motion today, for whatever obscure reason, that the House should adjourn not for an unspecified summer recess, as motion No. 7 which we are discussing suggests and which I have not seen before but that the House should adjourn until 2 September 1987 nine weeks away. That would be an adequate recess given the amount of business which potentially would be before the House and the large amount of business which apparently, accordingly to the Taoiseach, is being sent to the Seanad and which this House will not be able to deal with until the end of October. It seems to me that a nine week recess would be adequate.

Apart from any new business, of which there has been little or none, there is substantial business available and carried over from the previous Dáil which has not been dealt with. Much of it is of considerable importance. One Bill which is very important is the Courts Bill, 1986, which cannot but have a beneficial effect in an area of difficulty and great cost for many people, namely, the area of motor insurance. There is a substantial Companies Bill, published earlier this year and republished again within the few months by both Governments. It is not controversial but, nonetheless, it is difficult and will take some time to tease out. It is vitally important because there are many areas of company law which everyone in the House knows are being seriously abused at present and have been for some years and clearly will continue to be abused. The sooner this legislation, with whatever amendments are felt necessary, is brought in the better.

The month of July could have been devoted to things of that kind. If those two Bills alone had been passed in the month of July, it would have been a worthwhile month's work for this House. Since we are asked to go into recess on 26 June, which is the earliest date I recall in my 20 years in this House, I think it is not unreasonable to come back nine weeks later which would be early in September. That would accord with the sort of summer recess one would see generally. Apart from the business which has been carried over from the previous Government, which is substantial, there are a great many other matters which should be the subject of legislation which should be brought forward now. It is extraordinary that this House would now propose to go into recess for one-third of the entire year when all these urgent matters are awaiting attention and where there is a great public need for them.

Since it first met in March of this year, the present Dáil has seen some curious developments in its alignments and in how it does its business. It has seen some strange new alliances and the disintegration of old alliances. Once strong allies have become bitter foes and once bitter foes have become strong allies. All these developments, in one respect or another, have been caused by the advent of and the success of the Progressive Democrats. Our influence on the policies being pursued is clear for all to see. Our influence on the procedure of the House may be less obvious but it is no less real. The changing of the fundamental rules of the House in relation to debate and the ordering of business is not some minor procedural change relevant only to the Members of this House, as some commentators would have us believe. The decision of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael earlier this year to hold meetings only between their own two Whips dramatically breaks the precedent that has been in existence in this House since its foundation more than 65 years ago. It is not even claimed that it is being done for any other reason than to exclude the Progressive Democrats whose arrival on the scene has disturbed the cosy club atmosphere of this House and threatens to rationalise and modernise the whole Irish political scene in a way that disturbs the vested interests of the two Civil War parties.

What is at issue here is the way the public parliamentary business is arranged and discussed. The public parliamentary business of this country is the business of everyone in the country. Every party elected to this House has both a right and a duty to have some say in these matters. What is happening is that the two Whips, those of the two main parties, at the behest of their respective leaders are meeting behind locked doors to arrange the public affairs of this nation in a surreptitious way, in collusion with one another, and to the inevitable detriment of the country. The ultimate in connivance was reached on Tuesday of this week when a guillotine motion was put down to guillotine 11 items of business, some of which were of considerable importance, all of them to be passed in short periods and some without any debate whatever. On top of that guillotine motion a further guillotine motion was moved, again with the agreement and collusion of Fine Gael, to guillotine any discussion on the guillotine motion.

I could perhaps pursue matters which would be of more popular concern but I cannot pursue anything much more important than the independence and sovereignty of this House. If by the collusion of a large majority of its Members for their own party political purposes this House is reduced to a rubber stamp for arrangements arrived at behind closed doors, then all is not well. If this sort of conduct is appropriate now, why was it not carried on in this House during the past 65 years? If it is thought appropriate and right now to curtail enormously the rights of the third and fourth parties in this House, why was it not though right to do so last November and December when the present set of Standing Orders were drawn up after long consultations between parties.

It is a matter of concern for any parliament if its chairmanship comes in practice to be perceived as a perk to be distributed by the incoming Government of the day. That concern should be greatly compounded in any parliament if the incoming Government in turn have to rely on the chairman for its election and, in the last resort, for its maintenance in office. For these reasons the great majority of democratic parliaments, where the executive is drawn from the legislature, tend to have a continuity in their chairmanship and do not see the chairmanship change with every change of administration. That was the practice and tradition in this House for many years.

Who changed it?

It would be invaluable for the House and, therefore, for the country if it became the practice again.

The Deputy was a member of a Government when it changed.

So much has been said and written about health policy in recent weeks and months——

Mr. Lynch changed it.

Deputy O'Malley is entitled to speak without interruption.

——that I am loath to go back over it in historic fashion. I prefer to set out briefly what can be done for the future. I will confine myself in looking back over the unhappy events of recent weeks to making the observation that one would have thought Deputy Dukes would have supped with a longer spoon when he sat down to sup with some people. Surprisingly, however he does not appear to have learned any lessons. Even as recently as this morning, rather incredibly he put forward the suggestion that there should be a health committee of the House. As I pointed out to him, he forgets that as recently as last week he not alone voted against my suggestion that there be additional committees including one on health but he even voted to guillotine any discussion on any such proposal.

What concerns me about the control of health spending as we have seen it applied by the present Government, is not the principle of cutting health expenditure, or any other expenditure, but the crude and unthought-out and unscientific way in which these cuts are implemented which results in the genuine belief by many members of the public that it is not possible to control or curtail public expenditure without causing enormous hardship and anxiety. A serious disservice has been done to the whole concept of the very necessary control of public expenditure. It appears to arise from a lack of thought-out policy more than anything else. Nobody can seriously deny that there is waste and excessive and unnecessary expenditure in many areas of health which is costing the Irish taxpayer so dearly. There are many things that can be done that will not cause the anxiety and potential hardship we have seen.

Our drugs bill is tens of millions of pounds higher than it need be because of the refusal of the Department of Health to insist that drugs should be dispensed under their generic name rather than under their brand name. The international pharmaceutical industry is allowed to take tens of millions of pounds out of the Exchequer and out of this country quite unnecessarily. In a huge number of cases the same drug is available and manufactured here but under a generic name or a different brand name and at a much cheaper price. I think it is wrong that we do not have some nominal charge on a prescription. That would not create hardship but would prevent a lot of the unnecessary prescribing and unnecessary visits to doctors. The general medical service is considerably more expensive than it need be because doctors are remunerated on a fee per item of service basis rather than on a capitation basis, as is normal elsewhere. This change could be easily achieved in a relatively short time and should now be done without further delay. It will cause no hardship to anybody and will result in worthwhile savings.

Everyone must be aware of how costly and unsatisfactory the consultant position is in Irish hospitals. It should be speedily rationalised for the benefit of public patients in particular and for the incidental benefit of the Exchequer. As medicine develops, equipment becomes more important than inpatient beds. A great many procedures can be carried out in day wards and on non-resident patients. Increasingly, this is the trend elsewhere and it should be properly worked out and developed here where the savings could be enormous. What has happened in practice has frightened people because institutions have been closed in whole or in part without the alternative services being provided. If people live too far away from the hospital to be discharged to their home at night, why not discharge them to an hotel and pay for them at a fraction of the cost of keeping them as an inpatient?

On the question of waste, inefficiency and duplication which seems to be endemic in the health services, I would like to refer briefly to three quotations from public documents which bear out the views I have expressed. The first quotation comes from the National Planning Board. Proposals for plan 1984-87. It says:

Economies in health expenditure should as far as possible be achieved by reducing the inputs to the health services, (beds, drugs, payments to doctors, hospital buildings, administration, etc.) rather than by reducing the quantity or quality of beneficial and necessary care delivered to the public.

I think that statement is reasonable and if it had only been taken into account over the past three or four months, look at the different atmosphere that would exist today.

I will give a brief quotation from the Tussing report on the health services where Tussing is commenting on the Department of Health's method of managing their budget. He says:

How budget decisions are made is obscure and so necessarily is the degree of efficiency and rationality of the resulting mix of services.

Put in the delicate and slightly genteel language that reports of this kind use, that is as strong a comment as could be made on the methods of the Department of Health managing their budget. In the same document he describes the Department of Health's procedures as ad hoc rather than automatic and formula-based. That sums up in general terms the philosophy underlying a lot of what I have said in specific or in particular terms.

I will now turn to State institutions generally. It is valid at this juncture in our history to ask if it is not true in many instances that the empire which has been created has now become more important than the need which is was set up to meet. Is it not true that many of these bodies now exist primarily for their own sake? Have not the public purposes and needs become secondary? These prolific quangos develop huge organic appetites of their own. In some respects they resemble prehistoric monsters that become no longer relevant to their own surroundings but still managed to survive for a long time notwithstanding their voracious appetites. Is it not time to have a serious look at reducing our public administrative and developmental bodies of all kinds, both in terms of their numbers, their cost, and their size to what is necessary and relevant today?

Do we really need a dozen or more institutions dealing with different aspects of industrial development and economic promotion? Was it appropriate when the previous and present Governments both correctly decided to amalgamate three of the Manpower and training agencies, that in each case their nerve should fail them at the last minute and instead of having a genuine amalgamation into one body the three bodies were preserved with the addition at the top of a holding company which, in practice, adds a further layer of bureaucracy to the several layers that were already there.

From the start the Progressive Democrats put forward commonsense proposals in relation to many of the difficulties that have afflicted this country and its economy in recent years. It is interesting to see even in the short time of our existence how many of these have begun to be implemented, and in other cases where ideas which we put forward and which a year ago or more were regarded as unthinkable are now the subject of public debate. Among the latter is our suggestion for widespread privatisation. The debate has well and truly started. The predictable knee-jerk reaction has come and, we hope, gone and the present Government, in spite of what they said before the last election, that they would have no privatisation, have, I am happy to say, begun in a small way to think in these terms. Two recent examples were their announcement of the sale of some immature forests and the possible privatisation of the school bus service. Both of these are obvious and necessary, and I would like to encourage the Government not to be so tentative about them but to get on with it. However, they should not confine themselves to such relatively minor matters as these. As often happens in this country when any concept is discussed, it is compared with what happens in Britain and with that only. It seems that the British type of privatisation, of getting state companies into profit and floating them through the sale of shares on the Stock Exchange, is appropriate only to relatively small numbers of State companies here. I hope that this development will take place rapidly where it is appropriate.

In addition to that three other areas should be looked at seriously here. These come under the same general heading. The first is the disposal of assets with a view to utilising the proceeds for the reduction of debt. It makes no sense whatever for us as a country to hold assets in State ownership when the State is borrowing money that costs between 10 and 14 per cent and when an acceptable current yield to institutional holders of property would be somewhere between 4 and 7 per cent. The economic argument for the disposal of fixed assets is more cogent here than in most places because of our abnormally high level of national debt. Every reduction we can make in that is invaluable to the country and to the economy as a whole. We are afflicted here with a historic obsession about ownership. Use of assets is what counts, not who formally or legally owns them. Scarce and limited capital should go into the area of financing production and employment rather than into the unnecessary financing of capital assets. Successful commercial firms know that and practice it.

Secondly, the disposal of loss making assets, even for nothing, is a net benefit to the country if others are prepared to provide the service. Frequently private people are prepared to provide a service on the basis that in their hands it would not be loss making. Thirdly, a number of services at present are provided directly by the State through different institutions or local authorities. There is no measurement of efficiencies or real costs and there is no accountability for value where this happens. Private contractors will establish costs and in turn that will introduce competitiveness from which efficiencies will flow and the net result will be the provision of these services at a higher standard and much lower cost.

The lack of accountability I mentioned underlines much of our ills in the public domain. In Ireland accountability is regarded as being able to prove that you did not misappropriate public money. Accountability has nothing to do with getting value for public money. In fact, there is no requirement that you get value for money. It is considered appropriate to plough on in a way that seemed right 50 years ago, even though it has no commercial or commonsense relevance today. Is it not now time to establish the principle that not wasting money is just as important as not stealing it? Is it not time, therefore, to rethink fundamentally our entire public accounting system? Can we afford to continue the structures and methods of a public service that has become so large and dominant that it bestrides the narrow world or all Irish economic, commercial and social life like a colossus? Can we afford to continue with a system that makes the ability and dedication of those in it much less than cost efficient and far from rewarding in a personal sense?

I want to say a few words on Northern Ireland which the Taoiseach dealt with in just a passing way. We have a Government here now in the Republic which, notwithstanding their previous statements, are apparently prepared to work the Anglo-Irish Agreement and we have the re-election in Britain with a substantial majority of a Government who clearly are very determined, and have shown in the last 18 months that they are very determined, that that agreement will work. We have the election results in Northern Ireland which show an increase in support for parties of a more moderate view. In particular we have seen an increase in the support for the SDLP and a decline in support for some of the more extreme Unionists. In general the position is satisfactory in the context in which the Anglo-Irish Agreement exists. What is important now is not simply to continue as you were but to realise that to make that agreement and the structures established under it work, it is necessary to encourage a much more positive outlook from the majority of the people in Northern Ireland, the Unionists. I notice that they are not referred to in the Taoiseach's speech. The matter is difficult. There are sensitivities on all sides, perhaps most of all on the Unionist side, but with two Governments recently elected in two countries it is time that each of them should take within reason whatever moderate and reasonable steps are required to get the Unionists to accept the structures which have been set up and to become part of them. It is necessary to allay their suspicions and their fears first, and when that is done there is now a significant body of Unionist opinion, on the ground at least if not among the leadership of that community yet, who are prepared to accept and recognise the reality of the situation in which they find themselves and are not prepared to continue the futility of their objections up to now. They should be given encouragement in a way that ensures that there will be no expressions of triumphalism of any kind, direct or indirect, in relation to them when they become more involved and when moves toward devolution of government on a power sharing basis within Northern Ireland begin to grow.

It is incredible that the tragic situation on the ground in terms of human life and human suffering in Northern Ireland is not improving. The fact that every week several more people die in awful circumstances should suggest to all of us, in this House, in the British Parliament, in the Irish and British Governments, that it is not appropriate to stick to some of your historical aims if a little give and take would help to reduce the loss of life and the suffering which afflict people in that unhappy part of this country.

I want to refer to the developments in defence in Europe generally and to comment on what I think is an appropriate way of looking at it from the Irish point of view. Within the past nine months, since the Summit at Reykjavik last September, there have been very considerable developments and potential developments in regard to the shorter range tactical nuclear weapons on the continent of Europe. There is now a distinct possibility that the Americans and the Russians may agree to their withdrawal. There is a certain reluctance among many of our partners in western Europe because of the problems it will give rise to for them. One can understand their reluctance because tactical short range nuclear weapons were almost their line of defence. It is necessary for them and for us to rethink the situation if this fundamental change comes about. They are doing so and I appreciate their difficulties.

It seems to be quite unreal that when our partners in the European Economic Community and generally in the European continent discuss these matters among themselves — there can be few matters of more importance — we feel it necessary to absent ourselves from such discussions as if they did not matter to us. What can matter more to us? Should we, as a country that has sought to describe itself as neutral militarily, peace-loving and peacekeeping, not be among the first in Europe to welcome a situation if these nuclear weapons are withdrawn from the Continent by the Americans and the Russians? Yet we seem to preclude ourselves for some obscure reason that has no logic but because of some kind of——

Not in any forum where nobody would listen to us. We will have to speak where they will listen to us.

——historical convention to this effect. I would like to think that the day when an Irish Taoiseach feels it is incumbent on him either to take no part in a conversation on these matters or to absent himself from the room when such conversations are going on is at an end.

I saw my poor old former colleague, Paddy Lalor, who gets into a bit of trouble from time to time, getting into trouble again last week and he was reprimanded in the most severe way. He was perfectly entitled to speak about the matters which he spoke about and to express the view which he expressed. It is one of these untouchable areas but it had very rapidly better become not just touchable but should be the subject of debate in this country, in this House and by the representatives of this country in appropriate fora abroad. If this development takes place — and we should universally welcome it — it will have a considerable bearing on the size of the conventional weaponry and armies which will have to be maintained in western Europe. We had better think about that.

Western Europe generally allowed itself to continue for many years in a situation where it was out-numbered conventionally by as much as six and seven to one but it did not matter because of the particular form of defence which NATO would use, and made it known they would use, after the first couple of days. It may matter a great deal now. We should begin to think about where we stand in this regard. I am not entirely proud to be a citizen of the most defenceless country in western Europe. There is something less than complete about a neutrality which is indefensible in the military sense when I contrast it with a neutrality which is very heavily defended by a number of neutral states in Europe. Given our economic circumstances, some of the choices which we might have to make are not easy but I do not know how long we can put off making them.

I found the Taoiseach's speech predictable but a little disappointing. No effort is being made to come to grips with changing what needs to be changed. Everything is discussed within the context of matters as they are. A matter such as the appointment of a new Minister of State is regarded as a major institutional innovation and of great political significance. Unhappily, these matters are quite peripheral. We need to get to grips fundamentally with a public administrative system that has gone out-of-date. Many things in this country have gone out-of-date, not least this House and its procedures. For example, I was told over a five minute period that I could not propose an amendment to a motion because the motion was an amendment to some other motion. Many things need to be changed. It is disappointing to find such conservative thinking in terms of the acceptance of so many things as they are and the belief that only marginal changes are needed in so many of these matters.

One of the more interesting parts of the Taoiseach's speech was when he said: "I do not think that anyone can point to a Government in recent times which published such a comprehensive programme in a general election and which followed through on that programme so thoroughly and expeditiously". I did not like to interrupt the Taoiseach to ask him if he was referring to the 1987 general election. If he was, his recollection of it is somewhat different from mine. I can scarcely remember any political party ever producing less of a programme and what they did produce could hardly be described as having been followed through thoroughly and expeditiously. I would hardly have thought that their attitude, for example, to the Single European Act was a thorough and expeditious following through of what they had said before the election. The same applies to their attitude to the Anglo-Irish Agreement, to "the sick, the old and the handicapped" and to the construction industry into which, in addition to all the existing grants, an additional £250 million was to be pumped forthwith.

Last night I came across in a different context another undertaking in that manifesto which interests me. It indicates how anxious Fianna Fáil were at the time to pick up every possible vote. They undertook during January and February to restore and revamp Bord na gCapall which was regarded as a vital body which had been shamefully deprived of funds at the beginning of the year by the outgoing Coalition Government. I do not know whether restore and revamp are the right words in all the circumstances. In conclusion, I might invent a new word in this context, that is, "remasculate".

Before calling on Deputy Desmond, perhaps I will endeavour to explain to Deputy O'Malley in layman's language the situation in respect of his amendment, in respect of the Labour amendment and in respect of the Workers' Party amendment. Vote 3, part of the miscellany of Votes 3, 4, 5, 6 and 36, is the only Vote that has been moved and that is the motion before the House. Therefore, the amendments that appear are not in order because they are not amendments to that motion which has been technically moved. That, more succinctly is the position I was endeavouring to explain earlier and I hope Deputy O'Malley appreciates that. We are taking the motion for the Adjournment for discussion with Vote 3 that has been moved. The motion for the Adjournment has not been moved.

Does the Taoiseach not wish the House to adjourn if he did not move the motion for the Adjournment?

The Deputy is as much privy to the Taoiseach's wishes as I am. My answer to his question is that I do not know.

I most assuredly am not. You are close to his bosom and I cannot claim to be in such a privileged place.


I am calling on Deputy Desmond and I ask him to appreciate the position in regard to the amendments mentioned in the House.

I will be proposing, on behalf of the Labour Party, that the Dáil should adjourn until 9 September next whether that is out of order or otherwise.

It is not. Deputy O'Malley discussed the terms of his hoped for amendment and Deputy Desmond is at liberty to discuss it but not to move it. That is the technicality we have to observe.

That is why the people outside are laughing at us.

The Deputy might apply himself to removing the technicalities that exist in Standing Orders. I did not put them there.

They might be changed from under us.

The Labour Party will be opposing the motion that the House should adjourn to a date which is not specified because the indications are that the proposal will be to adjourn the House until late October. We will be opposing that motion because there is a great deal of legislative work to be done in Dáil Éireann in the remainder of the year. It is wholly inadequate that we should adjourn the House and resume late in October leaving a mere eight weeks before we adjourn for Christmas in mid-December. We are not ensuring that the work of running the country is controlled by Dáil Éireann.

I am aware that the Taoiseach intends that Seanad Éireann should meet during the months of July and September but that is not enough. My party will be publishing next Thursday a revised Children Bill which will consist of 130 sections incorporating, in addition to the old Children Bill, major issues such as under age drinking, the sale of tobacco and so on.

Before the Deputy gets into his stride, I should like to point out to him that the arrangement is that the appointed spokesperson is entitled to 45 minutes.

I am in that capacity for today. It is our wish that our Children Bill should be enacted, or at least debated during Private Members' Time, during 1987. However, that is unlikely. I should like to point out to the House that that elementary piece of social legislation, the enactment of new provisions relating to the care and the protection of children, has gone on in Dáil Éireann under successive Ministers since 1974. It has taken no less than 30 years to have a children Bill brought before the House. That is one example of how desultory, tedious and ineffective the work of the House is. It is understandable, that the electorate should be disenchanted with the way the conduct of the nation is progressing. They are disenchanted by the fact that we will have from the end of June to the middle of October with no formal parliamentary work to do. Admittedly, our committees can meet during that time. They were set up this morning but it is interesting to note that most of them have not met since 1986.

We hope those committees will meet during July and September but if I know the process of tedium and the disappearing act that can go on they may not meet at all until September. They may meet on one occasion in July, appoint a chairman and adjourn. That is not the way to run the country or Dáil Éireann. It certainly does not help the public esteem of Deputies. For those reasons, which are legitimate we will be voting against the Adjournment of the Dáil. The days are gone when we have morning lawyers and afternoon politicians or when the House adjourns early so that Members can go back to their farms to save the hay, go fishing for a couple of months or disappear to the Continent. They were the good old days in the twenties and thirties when those with money, the elite, inhabited Leinster House. I gather they were the only reasons for us following the Westminster model of prolonged adjournment during the summer period. I ask the Taoiseach who has not announced the date of the resumption, to call a double bluff and come back in September. That would be fair and reasonable and I am sure Deputies would thoroughly enjoy the months of July and August.

The approach of the Labour Party to this debate will be consistent with our attitude down the years. It does not give me any great pleasure to say, in relation to the events of the last few weeks, that the only party in Dáil Éireann displaying a consistency on economic and social policies is the Labour Party. If one examines the taxation policy one will see that we have been consistent in our views in the last seven or eight years. An examination of social welfare policies will show that generally we have not deviated from our approach to the reform of the system of social welfare or the development of it where necessary. For example, we supported the introduction of a child benefit scheme and it was unfortunate that it was frozen in the last budget. We have been consistent in our policies in regard to the health services. Since the early seventies our party have not deviated from a consistent and honourable policy in regard to Northern Ireland.

We have been consistent in regard to our national resources. I heard Deputy Bruton three weeks ago suggesting that we should change the terms for oil exploration and he was prepared to change the minimum royalty terms. The Labour Party were under enormous pressure inside and outside of Government in regard to those terms but we refused to bend. We have been proved right. The Government were due to announce in two weeks major changes in oil exploration terms but I gather that the Minister for Energy has done a disappearing act because the oil is not out there and the oil terms could have been changed before the recent debacle of Atlantic Resources, and we would have been hoist with our own petard. To his eternal credit the former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald who was under enormous pressure from very powerful influences to literally hand over oil resources to a small private group of people, to literally hand over the first 50 million barrells for nothing, resisted that and so did the former Tánaiste, Deputy Spring. The Labour Party in Government or in Opposition have been consistent on the question of protecting our public enterprises. At the same time, we have not been in the conservative mould, as alleged by Deputy O'Malley, of trying to maintain institutions simply for their own sake. We have not succumbed to that malaise.

On economic and social policy there has been a general consistency on the part of the Labour Party in their work in this House whether in Government or in Opposition but that consistency has flown out the window as various parties have endeavoured to accommodate themselves to the exigencies of the political situation. There has been virtually no consistency on the part of the present Government party. The real question now is to what extent will the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance — I suppose that they are the two people who effectively run the party and run the rest of the cabinet — maintain the current policy. So far, despite my profound agreement with the Government's policy on taxation measures and my profound disagreement with them on health cuts, there has been an absolute consistency. The line has not deviated. I do not agree with the line but it has not deviated. How long will it last? That is the question. Is it for real? All the indications so far are that it is for real but there is a legitimacy in asking the question repeatedly because I do not know of one political correspondent, one financial correspondent or one business person who does not repeatedly ask me: "Is the Taoiseach for real on this occasion?"

The Deputy must be busy.

On many a previous occasion, and I can go back to my entry to this House in 1969, there has been an innate tendency to change policy as the going gets rough, to change it rapidly and to change it in many directions. That consistency has been manifestly evident in a whole range of areas. So far in the past four months in Government Fianna Fáil have rapidly increased the PAYE burden. We tend to forget there has been no tax relief this year and that is in marked contrast to the formal promise repeated time and time again. Cast your mind back to the Burlington Hotel, to the launching of the plan for national recovery, the serried ranks of civil servants and the serried ranks of the business community who were going to put fat cheques into the hands of the Leader of the Fianna Fáil Party to fight the campaign. The promise was unequivocal: "Within the framework of our return to Government two-thirds of the taxpayers of this country will be on the standard rate of tax".

That is not right. He said it was an objective that the Government would try to achieve. He did not say it would happen on return to Government.

It is an objective. That is an interesting word. In fact, it appears in the Taoiseach's speech today as if it had actually happened. If you write this officialese often enough it will appear as if it has happened. The Taoiseach said:

Our most important objective in income tax is to bring two-thirds of taxpayers down to the standard rate. This will be a major reform of the tax burden and will be achieved under the programme we are now elaborating.

This is an example of the comprehensive and complementary approach we are adopting to putting the economy back on the path to growth and expansion.

It is as if it has happened. If you say it frequently enough people may well believe it. What has happened? In fact, this year there will be a very major increase in the burden of taxation on ordinary taxpayers because there is no indexation, there is no reduction, there is no increase in allowances. That is after four months of Fianna Fáil Government. There is substantially increased taxation. For example, health contributions are now payable up to £15,000 and they are payable at an increased rate of 1¼ per cent. In their four months in Government Fianna Fáil have abolished the farm tax. It would be interesting to know how many of the farm profile forms have gone out from the Revenue Commissioners. I doubt if any have gone out. It appears that the legislation dealing with health contributions is manifestly defective. Admittedly, this is an embarrassment for the Taoiseach because both he and the late Deputy Colley signed the health contributions commencement order on 6 April 1979, and the regulations were coming into effect on 4 April, thus rendering them null and void.

This Dáil is going into recess tomorrow and this is an out for anyone who does not wish to pay his health contributions. Because of the profound embarrassment facing the Taoiseach who signed this order when he was Minister for Health, the present Minister has not come into the House with a simple three line amending Bill——

Deputy Desmond was Minister for Health and he implemented the same regulations.

I did not sign those regulations.

If the Deputy had been so worried about them he could have——

The regulations in my time were not challenged but if they had been I know what I would have done. Within 24 hours I would have brought into the Dáil a three line amending Bill to make sure that those who are giving the two fingers to the health boards and saying they cannot be brought to court for arrears in health contributions, pay up. As Labour Party spokesperson for Finance I would agree to amend those regulations because there are about £14 million to £15 million arrears uncollected. Meanwhile, every industrial worker will pay increased contributions from 1 per cent to 1¼ per cent. He does not have any legislative mechanism open to him to avoid that imposition.

In the past four months we have had increased health contributions, increased hospital charges, both in-patient and out-patient, and we have had a decision of the Government not to fill 2,000 vacancies in the health services. This means that not one hospital in the country will take on any student nurses this year. In my constituency, St. Michael's Hospital at this time of the year would normally take on about 35 student nurses, but they are not taking on even one this year. The Government have decided to take £80 million out of the health services this year thus causing appalling hardship for many sections of the community.

The interesting thing about the Taoiseach's speech is that there is not one single reference to the health services. The Minister for Health has been hung out to dry, as is the tradition of Cabinets when they find the going rough. The Taoiseach did not devote one line of this 28 page speech — if we cut out the rhetoric there would probably be about six pages — to a defence of the health cuts. The words "Health services" do not even appear in his speech. The Way Forward, this basic biblical document of the Fianna Fáil Party, had plenty to say about health, but there is no reference to the subject in the Taoiseach's speech. It is as if it does not exist. That is why I must ask this question: is the Taoiseach's policy for real?

Another Minister has done an interesting disappearing act — the Minister for Social Welfare. He is much cuter at hiding cuts which are manifestly evident. Unemployment benefit has been cut causing serious hardship and the qualification for unemployment benefit has been increased to 39 weeks from 26 weeks. I know part time teachers who at the end of the season have 30 stamps and some have 26 stamps but they do not have a chance of qualifying for unemployment benefit this year. They will have to emigrate for the summer. Many of these people are young with good academic qualifications, living in flats around Dublin. There are many such people in my constituency who will have to emigrate. They pay their stamps but they do not get entitlement because they do not have 39 insurance stamps to qualify for unemployment benefit.

Is that the kind of society we want to develop here, where people's social insurance entitlements are cut over night? From 5 April 1987 new claims were cut. The same applies to disability benefit. A person must now have been at least nine months in work, as against six months previously, before he qualifies for disability benefit. The Minister for Social Welfare has got away scot free in terms of the cuts in social welfare which have been imposed. Pay related benefit has been slashed in half. When the Hyster workers go to draw pay related benefit with their unemployment benefit, they will find it has been cut by 50 per cent, despite the fact that up to 5 April 1987 they paid their full pay related contributions. Apparently contributions do not matter very much because their actual benefit is cut. Every Hyster worker with a wife and two children will have a straightforward cut of £20 a week, and 240 of these people are now unemployed and getting reduced unemployment benefit.

The Labour Party pointed out all these matters before we left the last Government. We pointed them out in the Cabinet and on the steps of Government Buildings. We told the Irish people this is what would happen within the framework of the health services, but we did not get much thanks in the election. Why? Because the Fianna Fáil Party were saying two thirds of taxpayers would be paying the standard rate of 25 per cent within two or three years, the Progressive Democrats went further in a Dutch auction pretending they are good, solid, quiet, effective economists. They proceeded to vary the bribes to the electorate. Deputy O'Malley said there would be cuts in income tax to 31, 43 and 53 per cent, three new but interesting rates, as part of the first phase of their tax reform programme. He also assured us of the elimination of the 7½ per cent PRSI, youth and health levies on the first £3,000 income for all earners. That was interesting, but how was he going to do all that?

The cost would be met by adjustments in the PAYE and PRSI allowances. He would also meet it by a reduction in life assurance relief, but primarily it would be met from matching cuts in public expenditure. It is interesting to note that so far current Government expenditure as a percentage of GNP has been reduced from 56.2 per cent to 55 per cent. That is the net outturn of this budget. No sooner did the cuts in public expenditure appear than Deputy O'Malley said they did not agree with the way they were being implemented. They accepted the bottom line but disagreed about the internal structure of the cuts. That is total hypocrisy. To bolster his argument he referred to the 1982 Dale Tussing report which is now acknowledged to be based on faulty household budget samples. Even the Irish College of General Practitioners, without much expertise in the field, were able to take it apart in terms of the surveys done and the work presented. There was not much response to the report because it was inconsistent. However, the report was the rationale for the rejection by the Progressive Democrats of the cuts in the health services. Indeed, their approach has been inconsistent because even in terms of the proposal put forward in the last general election on the basic taxation measures their costings were out by about £120 million. On the carry-over to the 1987 budget they were wrong on the expenditure side of £400 million.

It does not give me any pleasure to say that the Fine Gael Party have not been consistent in recent weeks in their approach, particularly to the Health Estimate. They know perfectly well they cannot have it both ways on the fundamental issue of the health services. Nobody knows better than the current front-bench of the Fine Gael Party that a net Exchequer provision for the health services of £1,111 million would result in mayhem. It was evident when the Estimate was being put together in October, November, December and in January when it was published and it is not good enough to say in the House that they agree with the overall level of the Health Estimate but not about the way the budget is broken down and to suggest, as Deputy O'Malley did, that the Department of Health, do not know how to allocate the money is hypocrisy of the highest order. If there is only so much money in an Estimate it must be broken down and inevitably will result in job losses and grave hardship for the electorate. It does not matter how you break down the Estimate, it will still impose hardship, even on mentally handicapped people, because you cannot ask a health board to protect them while penalising psychiatric nurses who look after them. Mentally handicapped people suffer in spite of the strictures from the Department of Health urging that they should be excluded from cuts. Voluntary organisations got an increase of around 5 per cent this year. They are protected but you cannot do the same at health board level because the services are totally integrated.

It is not good enough for Fine Gael to say there is incompetence in the health boards, among consultants, administrators, in the Department of Finance and in the Department of Health and that if the system could be overhauled and reformed there would be sufficient money. That is a threadbare argument which is trotted out every day by the PDs. Unfortunately their health spokesperson succumbed to that argument in recent weeks and was in a totally untenable position in the past few days. I reject such an approach just as I reject the statement in the editorial in The Irish Times today which said:

We simply cannot afford a place among the leaders of the industrialised world when it comes to spending on health.

Who said we cannot? By what criterion can we not? We are spending 6.4 per cent of our GNP on health which is a very low figure relative to any other European country. Those who talk about getting the Government off the back of people and reducing taxation do not know what they are talking about. There are not sufficient people employed to run the health services and the areas of health, education, environment and social welfare are all run down. It also affects job creation programmes. I am sick and tired of the shibboleths trotted out in this House, particularly by the PDs, who say it is time to eliminate unnecessary institutional structures and that we should privatise Mickey Mouse private forests, which would solve our problems. The PDs also said they welcomed the statement by the Minister for Education that we should privatise school transport as if that would resolve the problem of providing a school transport system. These are simplistic statements with very little basis in fact.

The ultimate provision for privatisation, according to the PDs, is that we should sell Irish Life for £200 million which would put the country back on its feet. Proposals of this sort will not resolve the fundamental problems facing us and they should be rejected by the electorate as they would not have a long-term impact. The persistent statements by the Fianna Fáil economic Ministers that if we had an automatic reduction in interest rates the country would suddenly embark on a two stage process of recovery is pure, unadulterated monetarism. We can have exceptionally low interest rates and still have very high levels of unemployment. The correlation between low interest rates and job creation is not interlocking or immutable.

Equally we have had the nonsense trotted out by the Taoiseach today that because he was elected we have a massive inflow of funds into the country. The inflow and outflow of funds on the capital markets of our country are profoundly influenced by factors other than a change of Government, whether it be the previous or present Government. I suggest very strongly that we shall have a quite serious visitation upon us as interest rates will drop. No doubt in the next four or five months they will drop by 1 or 2 per cent but it is not axiomatic that automatically there will be a reduction in the level of unemployment or that the economy will suddenly take off. That has not been proved in any of the western European economies. The reasons for the improvement in the south of England have very little to do with the dramatic drop in interest rates in the UK, any more than the substantial growth of the deficit in the United States could be directly related to the fact that interest rates have dropped there.

The interlocking relationship which is assumed almost as one of the Ten Commandments of economic policy is rather an outdated 1960 monetarism which certainly became very popular with the British Conservative Party. However, any self-respecting British Chancellor of the Exchequer would not refer to it even in a lack lustre after-dinner speech to a group of first year economic students. The analogy drawn by the Taoiseach and the constant reference to low interest rates by the Government will be regretted. Unfortunately, it has become entrenched in our general approach to economic recovery and when it will not come true the reaction will be all the more severe.

I want to welcome — and again it is a matter of consistency — the statement made by the Taoiseach in relation to Northern Ireland. He has shown no consistency whatsoever in this regard. However, I am pleased to note the change on his part and particularly on the part of the Minister for Foreign Affairs who has shown admirable strength of purpose in his handling of Northern Ireland affairs. Deputy Lenihan has surprised me and I want to put on record my support for his attitude to the Northern Ireland question and in particular for his attitude to the violence and thuggery which has gone on there and his firmness in responding particularly to the savagery imposed by the Provisional IRA. I am glad to note that the Government intend to adhere to the mechanisms of the Conference and the Secretariat and that they will continue to pursue, through the Conference, the achievement of equality of opportunity and the elimination of discrimination in Northern Ireland. I am glad to note that they will continue to seek reforms in the administration of justice and that all these approaches will be carried on in the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of the Taoiseach. That is entirely welcome. If there has been, as unquestionably there has, a massive change of policy in the Fianna Fáil Party in relation to this question, then that is to be entirely welcomed.

In conclusion, I want to make one broad statement about the level of public finances because this is central to the Taoiseach's speech. In endeavouring to stabilise our growing national debt, and it is a matter of profound consequence running at £25.3 billion, the crucial question of stabilising the national debt as a percentage of GNP is, first, the pace at which adjustments are made and, secondly, the manner in which they are made. This year's budget has been excessively deflationary and in that sense has been a bad budget. The cuts on the social services side have not been made in a fair or equitable manner. The changes in taxation have been irrelevant in bringing a degree of equity into the exercise of stabilising the national debt as a percentage of GNP.

We in the Labour Party feel that any review of expenditure must in particular take into account the very large State subventions which are in other areas of the economy, notably in agriculture. There are massive transfers to the agricultural side and, indeed, the many and indirect subsidies which are available to the relatively better off in our society. People write to me looking for an extra couple dozen of incontinent pads for a mentally handicapped child, as their allocation has been reduced to a couple of pads a day when five or six are urgently needed. Families on low income are deprived of such an elementary social service while we continue to give, for example, tax relief at the maximum rate for those who want to join Plan D, Plan E or the other plans of the VHI. Where is the equity there in our taxation system?

Has any effort been made by the Fianna Fáil Party to assess the inequity of the changes in the reductions on the taxation side? I do not at all go along with the alternative view that you can resolve a problem by bringing in prescription charges and get £12 million there. It would be even more inequitable if one were to impose a burden on an old age pensioner living on £47 a week by imposing a £2 charge per prescription. To say that such a person can approach the community welfare officer for help merely extends the problem.

I repeat there are plenty of people, particularly the young, who will go into public houses this weekend and will not mind lashing out, £10 or £15 on three rounds of drinks for themselves and their pals. Plenty of people will spend a fortune over the summer at race meetings and on foreign holidays. Who could blame them when you think of the weather we are having at the moment? Plenty of people will buy new cars and will spend plenty on petrol without giving it a thought. They are not that wealthy but they are relatively well off as compared with those on whom we are imposing very grave hardship by the cuts in social welfare and in health. These cuts were really unnecessary because the £100 million gap could have been closed on an equitable basis. Unfortunately Fianna Fáil in panic drifted to the right and became enmeshed in a budget which was inherently unfair.

The Deputy will be disappointed when I tell him that he is already two minutes into Deputy Mac Giolla's time.

I will conclude on that note. The Labour Party will have to vote against the Adjournment of the House for the summer recess.

The Workers' Party are opposing the Adjournment, this early recess, particularly because we are not aware of when the Dáil will be returning——

The Deputy was here earlier when we went into the technicalities in respect of those three amendments. There is no——

I can refer to them.

Because a date has not been specified for our return we have put down an amendment for a return on 2 September. At a time of growing dissension among the public and when there has already been much discussion about the relevance of Parliament, this adds to the growing sense of irrelevance of the Dáil. A four months Adjournment would be appalling. As far back as November 1983 in a submission to Deputy J. Bruton who was in charge of Dáil reform at that time we said that the present length of the Dáil Recess had seriously undermined the credibility of the Oireachtas and its Members among the general public. We said that the recess at Christmas and Easter should not be more than three weeks and that the summer recess should not be more than two months. A number of submissions which we made were adopted, for instance having a different Minister on Questions each day and limits of 30 minutes on speeches but the motion in regard to the recess was not accepted. Perhaps the Taoiseach is considering an early return and perhaps that is why we are having this exceptionally early recess. Not since I have been in here anyway has the Dáil gone into recess on 26 June.

Never before have a Government broken so many promises and betrayed the electorate in such a short space of time. Never in such a short space has an Administration engaged in such a dazzling series of U-turns on almost every position it held while in Opposition and during the course of the election campaign. The people unfortunately now find themselves with a party in Government who apparently have cast aside all principles in regard to previously stated positions. They must have shocked their most ardent supporters by the turnabouts they have made.

In December last the Fianna Fáil Party voted against the Single European Act on two occasions and without even blushing they exhorted the electorate to vote for the same Act in the recent referendum. Deputy Haughey, while in Opposition found the Anglo-Irish Agreement totally unacceptable and possibly unconstitutional but he now finds no difficulty in operating it. The Fianna Fáil Party rightly opposed school bus charges when they were introduced in 1983 under the Coalition Government, but they were hardly in office when they raised the school bus charges. Fianna Fáil opposed local charges and campaigned against them in the 1985 local elections, on various local councils and again in the general election. They now find that these local charges are indispensable. Most cruel of all were the posters Fianna Fáil put up during the course of the election with regard to the Coalition budget and to the health cuts. The posters said that health cuts hurt the old, the sick and the handicapped. Now that they are in Government they are hitting the old, the sick and the handicapped twice as badly as the previous Government proposed.

Is it any wonder that the Irish people are so disillusioned and cynical? Is it any wonder that most politicians in this country are held in the sort of contempt that was once reserved for the bailiff and the landlord's agent? The people are scratching their heads and wondering what they must do to get a change of political direction and not just a change of Government. The attempt of the people to use their democratic rights to change Government policy has been totally frustrated. This is raising a new element of dissent among the people.

In January last the former Government, one of the most despised and unpopular of all times, introduced a budget which led to their collapse and a subsequent general election. The election was fought on the basis of the budget with Fine Gael defending it and Fianna Fáil attacking it vigorously. Deputy Haughey and his colleagues donned the mantle of champions of the poor, defenders of the weakest sections of society, and fearless opponents of health and welfare cuts, simply to win the working class vote.

The people voted on February 17 to give Fine Gael and their policies their marching orders. Fianna Fáil and Deputy Haughey were returned to power, but within weeks the people found to their cost just how worthless a Fianna Fáil election promise was, when the budget they had voted so massively to reject in the election was reintroduced by Fianna Fáil in an even more severe version. The intent of this Government was clearly signalled by the budget, and the cutbacks which have been imposed since then have been even more draconian, even more sweeping, even more damaging than those of the Fine Gael-Labour Coalition. They were all shown in the budget and as Deputy Desmond pointed out the hypocrisy of the PDs in particular and of Fine Gael is evident in the fact that they voted for the budget, for the cuts, and are now attempting to show they are opposing them.

Given the political history of Fianna Fáil, it is, I suppose not all that surprising that they should have done so many U-turns. But what I find astonishing is that so many commentators and leader writers in the media should now be lavishing such praise on Deputy Haughey for what we and his electors believe to be his despicable conduct. Are we to believe that those who write these articles consider that saying one thing before an election and doing the direct opposite when in office, constitutes political leadership? Are we being asked to believe that to betray those who voted for you constitutes statemanship? The St. Paul like conversion of Deputy Haughey to the policies he was opposing up to February last, has shaken all three conservative parties in the Dáil to their very foundations. Fine Gael, under Deputy Dukes, has proven to be the most cowardly and inept Opposition party in living memory. They have totally devalued the meaning of the word "opposition", and have more often than not run for the cover of abstention, having neither the courage to publicly vote with the Government nor the nerve to risk their own political skins by opposing the Government in the lobbys and provoking a general election.

If Deputy Dukes had any courage he would do the decent thing and move himself and his Deputies across to the other side of the House and accept ministries if they could get them and go into a direct Coalition on the policies they believe in and which Fianna Fáil are promoting.

Similarly, the Progressive Democrats have been running around like headless chickens having found that their political feathers have been stolen by Fianna Fáil who are now implementing basically the same policies the Progressive Democrats called for before and during the general election. Deputy O'Malley and his colleagues have been reduced to calling votes on the Order of Business in order to remind people that they are an Opposition party. That is not to say that the manner in which Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have conspired to ram through important issues of business without adequate time for consideration is not deplorable or that it is acceptable for the two largest parties in the Dáil to exclude all others when arrangements are being made as to when particular items will be taken.

It is interesting to note that Deputy O'Malley, when speaking on this issue, talked about the exclusion of the third and fourth parties from their rightful positions. He would have no hesitation, of course, in excluding the fifth party from anything. I would find the protests of Deputy O'Malley and Deputy Spring with regard to the rights of the smaller Opposition parties more convincing if they had shown this concern when they held Cabinet positions. The last Government, with the enthusiastic endorsement of the Labour Party made every possible effort to exclude The Workers' Party from all areas of activity. During the term of office of the last Government we were excluded from every committee that existed in this House. We were given no time whatsoever for Private Members' Business and the rules for Question Time were altered to allow for a priority questions' scheme. That was to limit the impact of our party at Question Time.

There is nothing new about agreements between Government and main Opposition parties. The Coalition Government imposed guillotines and limited debates. They were a normal feature of life in the last Dáil and there is no doubt that the new arrangement between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael has meant that they have been used more widely and in a more severe form than ever before. One of the worst examples of this was on Committee Stage of the Finance Bill last week. We tabled over 20 amendments and none of them was given any proper chance of being discussed on Committee Stage. During this week only 90 minutes was allowed to debate the National Monuments Bill on which more than 40 amendments were tabled, eight of which were put down by The Workers' Party. On Committee Stage of that Bill in the Seanad 72 amendments were put down and there was a long discussion on the Bill while the debate in this House was limited to one and a half hours.

One of the most frequent accusations hurled against TDs by the Press and the public is that they do not devote enough time to legislative duties and are far more interested in being messenger boys for the public and for their constituents. When TDs do take their duties seriously, examine legislation in detail and take the time and trouble to draft amendments to legislation they are more often than not, as in the examples I quoted, denied the time to have a proper debate or to have their amendments considered.

There is a need to review fundamentally the way in which we carry out our duties and responsibilities as legislators. We are trying to run a country at the end of the 20th century and about to move into the 21st century on a model of parliamentary procedure which has changed little since the twenties. The last Government came into office with major promises of Dáil reform, but little was done apart from some minor tinkering with Question Time and Estimate debates. The standing of the Dáil among the general public is not high, and if it is not to be diminished even further, there must be an urgent and serious effort to up-date our procedures to ensure that legislation is properly examined before it goes through, to enable us to respond promptly and efficiently to issues that arise at short notice — there is no way we can do that at present — and to generally make our operation more relevant to the problems and difficulties of the people.

The one area of Government policy which has met with particular criticism has of course been the health cutbacks. If anyone on the Fianna Fáil benches had any doubt about the depth of the opposition — not just among the health workers but among the community in general — to their attacks on the health services, then they must surely have had the position clarified very clearly for them by the huge demonstration in Dublin yesterday when 20,000 to 30,000 people marched in the biggest political demonstration since the tax marches in 1980.

People from all walks of life marched and demonstrated because they realise that what is going on now is not simply another series of cuts, but a systematic dismemberment of the public health service. This service was painfully and slowly built up over the years and was improving all the time. Now it is being savagely cut and destroyed into a two tier system. What we are witnessing is an attempt to end the concept of a public health service and replace it with an insurance-based health service so that the quality and speed of the service a person receives will depend on their ability to pay.

The hallmark of any civilised society is its treatment of the elderly and the ill yet it is these categories, particularly those from the lower income groups, who will suffer most. Those who can afford private medical care, those who can afford to pay for treatment in the luxurious surroundings of the Mater Private Hospital or the Blackrock Clinic will not suffer. The elderly person living alone depending on a public health nurse, the child awaiting heart surgery in Crumlin hospital, the mother with an incontinent child or adult depending on a health board for nappies and so on are the ones who are carrying the burden of the health cuts. It is significant that while 104 beds have been closed in Blanchardstown hospital the Blackrock Clinic is expanding by 100 beds. There is very big money in private health care for the wealthy.

Despite the assurances to the contrary given by the Taoiseach, the Minister for Health and other Ministers, there is no doubt that the standard of patient care has already fallen as a result of these cuts. There is no doubt also that it will fall even more if they are not stopped. Despite assurances that the hospital out-patient and in-patient charges would be administered in a humane way we have had complaints from people whose children were refused treatment in casualty units in Dublin hospitals simply because they did not have the money with them to pay the £10 charge.

Putting highly trained medical staff out of jobs is false economy. The highly trained doctors, nurses and technicians who are being forced out of their jobs are unlikely to get alternative employment in Ireland and will have no option but to emigrate. Their services and expertise will be lost to the country. The money spent on their training will have been wasted so far as the Irish people are concerned. By the end of this year 3,500 jobs will have been lost in the health services. This is at a time when 250,000 people are already unemployed. This is the equivalent of two Hyster close downs per month during the next six or seven months. Blanchardstown which lost those jobs when Hyster closed will lose another 150 jobs in the hospital as a result of the health cuts. These cuts, monstrous job losses and the danger to people's health are because other people will not pay their taxes.

It is not just in the health area that the cutbacks are having a disastrous effect. The reduction in the allocation to local government is bringing the local authorities to their knees. In the Dublin area, for instance, a halt has been put to the maintenance of local authority houses which will lead to a deterioration in the fabric of the houses and it means they will have to be replaced earlier. In Dublin it now takes up to seven days to get a blocked sewer cleared. There is no point in having local authorities unless they are given money to enable them to function effectively.

The next area where I fear the cutbacks will have a devastating impact is in education. The effect has not been felt here yet but it will be after the summer holidays. This will be at a time when the Dáil will be in recess unless the amendments which are put down for an early return are accepted. When the schools and colleges reopen in September parents, teachers and pupils will be presented with a fait accompli which will mean larger classes, reduced facilities, more charges, no funding for school building or additions to schools. The recent increase in school bus fares is only the tip of the iceberg. The most frightening comment of all, that of the Minister for Education, Deputy O'Rourke, was when she said on radio last Sunday that they — in other words, the Government — were quite entitled to introduce any charge unless they had specifically stated in their manifesto that they would not do so. That is an indication of what will happen when we go into recess and the charges that are going to be imposed for education, the health services and local authority services and so on.

The letter from the Taoiseach to his Government Ministers in May, which came into my possession, clearly shows that there will be many more cutbacks and that the Taoiseach's economic strategy is entirely Thatcherite and monetarist — the two things he condemned consistently in the Coalition Government's policies. Yet, here he is so clearly demonstrating an even closer affinity to Margaret Thatcher and all her economic thinking in his implementation of economic policy. The manner in which he does it is devoid of anything imaginative or innovative. There are simply going to be more and more cutbacks. There has been no attempt to stimulate growth, create more jobs, introduce new revenue raising areas or move towards tax equity. In his letter to his Ministers he asked that they submit the various cuts by 22 May. In arriving at their proposals he said all options should be considered including the elimination or reduction of particular schemes and programmes, rooting out overlaps and duplication between organisations, the merger of organisations, the closure of institutions, the scaling down of operations of organisations and institutions, the disposal of physical assets.

The Taoiseach said a radical approach should be adopted and no expenditure should be regarded as sacrosanct or immune to elimination or reduction. What a prospect that sets out for the health services, for education, and in particular for those on social welfare which they have not yet got round to tackling. It is also significant in that letter of 13 May to his Ministers the Taoiseach set out a time table asking that these decisions be made on a weekly basis from the end of May so that they would be in a position to have the full programme of reductions agreed by the end of August or early September. The end of August or early September could indicate the possibility of a further severe budget in the autumn.

For how long more are the working-class going to be asked to accept cutbacks while the Government refuse to ensure that those who can do so pay their fair share? When are they going to think about alternative sources of raising revenue? The Government have, in every case where they have come up against those who refuse to pay their taxes taken the easy option of cutbacks on those who are already paying. Cutbacks in the health service could easily have been avoided if the Government had been prepared to go after additional revenue. For instance, if the political will was there, the Government could decide to make health contributions payable on all income. At present the 1 per cent contribution is payable on incomes up to £15,000. They could decide to make the health contributions payable on all income. They could also decide to collect all outstanding health contributions from self-employed people, farmers and so on. They could and should decide that all outstanding health contributions should be charged interest on arrears as is the case with income tax. In this case there is no interest on arrears and if a person can avoid paying for four or five years he will pay no interest on it. That is the great benefit. Of course the people who refuse to pay the health contributions are availing of the health services just the same as those who are paying their health contribution. The 1 per cent health levy was raised to 1¼ per cent precisely at the same time as the services available for the extra 25 per cent increase were being cut and the £10 charge was imposed. The very people who are paying their taxes are the ones who are getting fewer services.

The Government could also abolish the tax on VHI premiums for luxury private hospitals. That single part alone has cost £1.5 million in tax relief. The whole VHI tax relief system has cost much more than that. I do not have figures with me but it is in the region of about £35 million or £36 million. Why should there be tax relief or subsidies for private hospitals, private clinics, private patients at the expense of the public health service? That is precisely what happens. As the private health care service increases and develops with subsidies from the State, the public health service deteriorates because the consultants do not give it the same attention. The Government could also reform the general medical service system particularly by ending the fee per item system of payment for doctors and pharmacists. They could also take on the common contract system of payment to consultants which has got to be altered.

They could reform or introduce a drugs formulary to lift out the essential generic drugs from the 3,000 drugs on sale currently to a standard form which would be in the region of 700 or 800 generic drugs required. That would cut the cost of drugs which are dearer here than in any other country in Europe except West Germany, and three or four times dearer than they are in France. Substantial savings could be made in the drugs bill. I ask the Minister to look at the drugs refund scheme. In the GMS system at present the State will pay the pharmacist the wholesale price of the drug plus a prescription charge for each item. In the drugs refund scheme, after the initial £28 per month which the patient must pay, the State pays not only the wholesale price and the prescription price but also a 50 per cent retail mark-up to the pharmacist. The end result is that the State in some instances pays the pharmacists more under the drugs refund scheme than it would pay both the doctor and the pharmacist if that patient had a medical card and was entitled to all services free.

That is precisely what is happening under the drugs refund scheme because of the 50 per cent retail mark up which the pharmacists have. There are major savings to be made here, none of them at the expense of the patient. In addition, under this scheme pharmacists have an incentive to dispense the most expensive drugs because the most expensive brand of drugs prescribed will maximise their income. The whole area of the payment to pharmacists for drugs requires drastic alteration and change but the Minister has not even mentioned the need to tackle this area of savings which would not interfere in any way with patients. The Minister should deal with this scandal in the general medical service scheme and the drugs refund scheme before closing hospital wards and axing jobs because it is here he could make major savings.

The report published on Tuesday by two unions representing 2,000 staff in the Revenue Commissioners and which they call, The Sick Tax System — Proposals for Cost Effective Cure, show that there was more than £660 million outstanding in collectable taxes. It pointed out that if tax evasion and avoidance was stamped out an additional £1,000 million could be taken in this year and another £500 million next year. This shows that the cuts mania is not inevitable and that there is a better way, as the Fianna Fáil slogan had it, if the Government were prepared to take the political decision to follow it up and tackle head on the robbers and scroungers in our society who are responsible for the danger to the health of the community in general by their refusal to pay their taxes. This £660 million in outstanding taxes is money that has gone through all the processes. At present the Revenue Commissioners are processing £3,000 million, some of which is owed and some which may not be owed, but the sum of £660 million has gone through all the processes and is agreed by everyone, including the Auditor General, to be now properly due. Included in that money is a figure of approximately £140 million which was taken off the PAYE workers by employers and not paid over to the State. It sticks in my craw that an employer could take the money from his employees and not hand it over to the State and that the State does not regard him as a criminal or a robber worthy of ten years in jail, or seven years with good behaviour. One would expect something in that region for robbing £140 million from the State. The political will to do that is not there. The problem with Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Progressive Democrats is that they will not face up to this issue, but it is no bother to put the jackboot down on the guy who is trying to crawl on the poverty line. It is very easy to make that person pay a £10 hospital charge to make up for the people who are robbing the State, and who are not paying their due in taxes.

As pointed out by other speakers, one of the most disappointing features of the Taoiseach's speech was his relegation of jobs to fourth place in his order of priorities. That is the greatest indication of the enormous change which has occurred in Fianna Fáil. During the election contest the major issue by far was jobs. Then came tax reform. Surveys and so on put the jobs issue so far ahead of all others that even the next highest priority was in the halfpenny place. In his speech the Taoiseach outlined the policy objectives of the Government. He told us that the Government have now firmly set for themselves the following objectives: to restore the public finances by reducing overall Government expenditure; to reduce Government borrowings, stabilise growth, the national debt and so on; to restore confidence, bring down interest rates, maintain stability of the Irish pound; to stimulate and encourage economic growth, investment and employment in every possible sector — a kind of half hearted number four on jobs — and to deal with taxation. That is the clearest indication of the level of change that took place within the space of a few days of Fianna Fáil being in Government. The dominant issue during the election was jobs. There was overwhelming evidence during the course of the election that the country was crying out for urgent political action on jobs. Even those who declared their disinterest in politics and politicians expressed their anger and frustration on the issue of unemployment and emigration which is an off shoot of that. Parents also expressed their concern and the stress they were experiencing about the future or lack of future of their children. There was a genuine desire to have the Government do something serious, irrespective of national debts or inflation — do not tell me it is a great thing to see inflation down to 2.8 per cent. I saw it at nil right throughout the fifties. When inflation is at nil progress is at nil. This means just stagnation, it means that we are going down, it means emigration. Unemployment brings down inflation to nothing and that is where we are going now with inflation down to 2.8 per cent, inflation down to nil. There was no inflation for about ten or 15 years at that stage but there was no progress either. It is not a point of policy that anybody can be proud of when you have jobs at the stage they are at. The people wanted the issue of jobs to be tackled irrespective of the books and budgets and what have you.

If the Dáil is to have any relevance to the people it must make unemployment the number one priority. This is the biggest failure both of this Government and the previous Government. The priority of Government is still to satisfy the banks and to hell with a jobs policy.

Our party believe that ultimate resolution of our economic problems requires a process of socialist planning. We acknowledge that it is unlikely in the immediate future that we would have a socialist majority in the Dáil to allow for such radical change, but notwithstanding that, we believe there must be a response to the call from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions for a concerted national effort on job creation. We believe there is a surprising degree of agreement among serious economists about what needs to be done if we are to begin the process of social and economic reconstruction. There are adequate economic reports to provide a sound basis for action on this task. At this critical time our party are demanding a serious political initiative from Government to begin the process of tackling the jobs crisis. We need a concerted national effort to formulate a national plan and then the political will of Government to carry it out.

I must refer briefly to the Taoiseach's speech where there is a short reference to the abolition of Bord Scannán na hÉireann, the Irish Film Board. The abolition of the film board was a grave mistake. The new tax regime that was introduced in the Finance Bill is no substitute for the film board. Films cannot be made on thin air and the role of the film board was to provide pump-priming finance, that is, finance at the early stage when a concept or an idea was being developed up to the stage where production could begin. That is the crucial period and that is when support is needed. It is only when the idea has been developed that private finance can be attracted. Since the film board were established ten professional feature films and numerous documentaries and training films were produced. This is one State agency who have been enormously successful on a tiny budget and their abolition was a senseless move. It will do enormous damage to the prospects of establishing a genuine film industry.

Next month is the 65th anniversary of the Civil War which marked the bloody and difficult culmination of the struggle for political independence for this part of the country. After 65 years of self-government, it is surely time to stand back and take stock of what has been achieved in that period and to see how what has been achieved compares with the aspirations of the Proclamation of 1916. Those who signed the 1916 Proclamation would hardly be impressed by the Ireland of today. Certainly the Ireland of 1987 is not the sort of society envisaged by James Connolly. His commitment was unashamedly to the working class, but what sort of freedom have the working class won?

How can you be free if you have no job and are told that you never will have a job? How can you be free if, like the Hyster workers in my constituency, you turn up for work one morning and find that your employers have done a midnight flit? How can you be free if you are illiterate, as thousands are, or semiliterate, as tens of thousands are? Where is the freedom of expression and communication we talk about among those people, let alone artistic or intellectual freedom? Have we lost our understanding of the meaning of that precious word "freedom" just as we have lost our understanding of the meaning of the word "republican"? The rich owners of property have achieved their freedom but the working classes, the men of no property as Tone called them, remain exploited and enslaved as they were when James Connolly was shot. We cannot consider ourselves to be free unless our people at least enjoy the basic freedoms, freedom from fear and from want, freedom for the elderly from fear of muggings, beatings and violation in their homes, freedom for women from fear of rape and assault and violent crimes growing in intensity, freedom for all citizens from terrorist attacks, kidnappings, bomb attacks, and the bullet when they answer their doorbell.

That is the basic and minimal protection which citizens must expect from the State, but there are other fears which are part of the daily living of working class people. If you have a job you are in constant fear of losing it or you must work harder for lower pay to hold on to it. If you have lost your job you have the fear of losing your home through inability to pay the rent or the mortgage. There is the fear of losing your health or even your life or that of a loved one through inability to pay for the care needed or through the long months or even years on waiting lists for heart surgery or other serious operations. These are only some of the fears and tensions under which working class people must live because of the greed of the capitalist classes for whom profit is all and people mean nothing. Is it not unbelievable that at the end of the 20th century after 65 years of independence we must today be still striving for that most basic freedom, freedom from want of food, clothing, shelter, health care and education? What an indictment of our so-called freedom that there is less freedom from want down here than in the unfree part of our country which is itself by no means free from want.

Tá sé i gceist agarnsa sa díospóireacht seo plé le Meastachán Roinn na Gaeltachta atá faoi mo chúrarn mar Aire Stáit.

I mbliana tá beagnach £24.5 mhilliún á chur ar fáil do Roinn na Gaeltachta, d'Údarás na Gaeltachta agus do Bhord na Gaeilge lena chaitheamh ar mhaithe leis an nGaeltacht agus leis an nGaeilge. Anuas ar an £19,296,000 atá i Leabhar na Meastachán tá soláthar £5,120,000 a chur ar fáil ó fhoinsí eile mar seo a leanas: airleacan a íoctar díreach as an Státchiste leis an Údarás; £5 mhilliun ata i gceist i mbliana; iasachtaí as Ciste na nlasachtaí Áitiúla a cheadaíonn mo Roinnse do thithe sa Ghaeltacht: £120,000 ata i gceist i mbliana.

Is iad na priomhshuimeanna atá i Leabhar na Meastachan na: £1,625,000 do dheontais tithíochta faoi Achtanna na dTithe (Gaeltacht); £1,840,000 do Scéimeanna Feabhsúchain sa Ghaeltacht: áirítear £1,040,000 den tsuirn sin mar chaiteachas caipitil d'fhonn bunstruchtur na Gaeltachta a fhorbairt; £1,590,000 do scéimeanna cultúrtha agus sóisialacha ar a n-áiritear Scéim na bhFoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge, nuachtán agus irisí Gaeilge; £2,248,000 do Chiste na Gaeilge as a dtugtar deontais do Bhord na Gaeilge agus d'eagrais dheonacha Gaeilge; £10,842,000 d'Údaras na Gaeltachta idir chaiteachas reatha agus chaiteachas caipitil ar dheontais: chomh maith leis an airleacan a luaigh mé tugann sé sin iomlán an chúnaimh ón Stát don Údarás go £15,842,000.

Is cúis shásaimh dom go bhfuil méadú i mbliana ar an solathar atá á chur ar fáil don Roinn i gcomparáid le Meastachán agus caiteachas na bliana 1986.

Tá suim £15.842 mhilliún á cur ar fáil ag an Rialtas d'Údarás na Gaeltachta i mbliana i gcomparáid leis an £13.179 milliún a tugadh don eagraíocht sin anuraidh agus leis an teacht isteach a bhíonn acu ó fhoinsí eile, mar shampla, ó Chiste Sóisialta na hEorpa, tá súil agam go mbeifear in ann dul chun cinn suntasach a dhéanamh i rith na bliana ar mhaithe leis an nGaeltacht agus cur chun cinn na Gaeilge. Baineann £10.842 mhillíun den soláthar iomlán le hairgead vótáilte, i.e., suim £2,322 mhillíun mar dheontas-i-gcabhair do chaiteachas reatha agus £8.520 mhilliun mar dheontas-i-gcabhair do chaiteachas caipitil a úsáidtear chun deontais a íoc mar chabhair chun tionscail nó scéimeanna táirgiúla fostaíochta a bhunú, a fhorbairt no a chothabháil sa Ghaeltacht. Anuas ar sin tá suim £5 mhilliún údaraithe don Údarás mar airleacain ón bPríomh-Christe chun monarchana a thógáil, scaireanna a cheannach i bhfochuideachtaí agus i gcomhchuideachtaí agus chun maoin a cheannach. Faoi mar is eol don Teach ritheadh an Bille um Údarás na Gaeltachta (Leasú), 1987, le déanaí faoinar méadaíodh an uasteorainn d'airleacain ó £50 milliún go £60 milliun.

Cuireann sé áthas ormsa a fhógairt go raibh meadú, cé gur méadú beag é, arís anuraidh ar líon na ndaoine a bhí fostaithe go lánaimseartha i dtionscail sa Ghaeltacht a fuair cúnamh ó Ghaeltarra Éireann ón Údarás. Is í seo an cúigiú bliain i ndiaidh a chéile a d'éirigh leis an Údarás an fhostaíocht i dtionscail faoina scáth a mheadú agus tréaslaím a saothar leo. Ar 31 Nollaig 1986 bhí 4,694 dhuine fostaithe go lánaimseartha sna tionscail éagsúla, is é sin méadú de 35 dhuine ar an bhfigiúr ag deireadh na bliana 1985.

Leis an airgead mór atá á chur ar fáil ag an Stát don Údarás tá sé riachtanach go mbainfear an sochar is fearr is féidir as an gcaiteachas sin cibé acu an caiteachas ar dheontais, ar thógáil monarchana le ligean ar léas le tionsclóirí nó mar inftieistíocht i gcuideachtaí i atá i gceist. Tá céimeanna á nglacadh chun go mbainfear an sprioc sin amach. Tá critéir dhochta leagtha síos chun measúnú a dheanamh ar iarratais ar chabhair le cinntiú gur i leith tograí inmharthana a cheadófar cunamh agus go gcruthófar fostaíocht ar an gcostas is lú is féidir. Tá mionscrúdú a dheanamh ar na foinsí agus ar na hearnálacha éagsúla óna eascraíonn tograí le go mbeifear in ann díriú ar na deiseanna fáis is fearr le go mbaintear amach an toradh is fearr as caiteachas na heagraíochta.

Maidir leis an tuarascáil ar an Údarás, ón gComhchoiste den Oireachtas um Chomhlachtaí Stát-tionscanta Tráchtala tá moltaí tábhachtacha déanta inti nach mór a scrúdú go curamach agus tá an scrúdú sin idir lámha i gcónaí.

Tá béim ar leith á cur ag an Údarás ar fhorbairt acmhainní' nádúrtha sna ceantair Ghaeltachta le cupla bliain anuas. Tá borradh an-mhaith faoi shaothrú na mara ar chósta an iarthair i láthair na huaire, rud a luíonn go mór le pleananna an Rialtais don earnáil áirithe seo. Lena chois sin tá dul chun cinn maith á dhéanamh ar chúrsaí taighde agus forbartha i gcás saothrú sliogéisc agus táthar dóchasach go mbeidh toradh fiúntach ó thaobh na Gaeltachta de agus na tíre i gcoitinne dá bharr. Tá de bhuntáiste ag an gcaoi ina bhfuil an tionscal seo á fhorbairt ag an Údarás go bhfuil an Ghaeltacht ag baint tairbhe as ar bhealaí éagsúla toisc go bhfuil na gnéithe taighde, innealtóireachta, táirgíochta agus próiseálta á dtabhairt chun cinn le chéile.

Tá an Ghaeltacht an-oiriúnach d'fheirmeoireacht éisc agus do shaothrú na mara i gcoitinne. Is tionscal é a luíonn le nádúr na gceantar sin agus le meon na ndaoine a chónaíonn iontu a bhfuil seantaithí acu ar an bhfarraige agus ar chúrsaí éisc. Tá dul chun cinn maith bainte amach ag an Údarás go dtí seo i ndáil leis an tionscal sin agus táthar sásta go bhfuil fás mór i ndán dó sna blianta atá romhainn. Tuigtear ón Údarás go bhfuil breis is 100 duine fostaithe go lánaimseartha agus timpeall 40 duine go páirtaimseartha ar fud na Gaeltachta faoi láthair sa tionscal fheirmeoireacht éisc agus go meastar go bhféadfar suas le 500 post lanaimseartha ar a laghad a chruthú sa tionscal sin sa Ghaeltacht thar thréimhse 10-15 bliana. Chomh maith leis sin d'fhéadfaí suas le 500 post eile a chur ar fáil i bpróiseáil éisc agus chun seirbhísí a sholáthar don tionscal fheirmeoireacht éisc. Tuigtear ón Údarás go bhfuil deontais timpeall £8 milliún agus scaireanna de thart faoi £3.5 mhilliún ceadaithe ag an eagraíocht do bhreis is 50 tionscnamh fheirmeoireacht éisc agus chomh maith leis sin go bhfuil timpeall £2.3 mhilliún ceadaithe ag FEOGA i leith 17 dtogra fheirmeoireacht éisc sa Ghaeltacht.

Tá sé mar aidhm ag an Údarás go mbeadh baint mhór ag pobail na Gaeltachta leis an bhforbairt eacnamaíocht, shóisialta agus chultúrtha ag an leibhéal áitiúil. Rinneadh an-dul chun cinn faoin Chomórtas Forbartha Pobal a cuireadh tús leis i 1974 agus a raibh mar chuspóir aige na pobail Ghaeltachta a ghríosadh chun páirt níos gmíomhaí a ghlacadh i bhforbairt a gceantar féin trína gcuid riachtanas, deiseanna agus acmhainí forbartha a aithint agus chun céimeanna a ghlacadh chun plean oibre realaioch a chur i bhfeidhm. Chuir na pobail Ghaeltachta an-spéis sa chomórtas ó thús agus tá réirnse leathan tionscadal forbartha curtha chun cinn dá bharr. Tá an cumas ag na pobail féin tograí forbartha pobail a chur i gcrích go maith anois a bhuíochas sin do shaothar Roinn na Gaeltachta agus an Údaráis.

Tá scéim nua forbartha agus oideachais dar teideal "An Pobal Beo" fógraithe ag an Údarás le gairid a mhairfidh ar feadh tréimhse sé bliana (1987-1992). Faoin scéim sin beidh sé riachtanach go mbeadh plean forbartha bliana, trí bliana nó cúig bliana ullmhaithe ag gach grúpa atá le bheith páirteach. Molaim go láidir do na coistí forbartha sa Ghaeltacht bheith páirteach sa scéim sin ar mhaithe lena gceantair.

Bhí áthas orm a fhógairt, tar éis na cáinaisnéise i mbiiana, go leanfaí leis na deontais fheabhsúcháin tithíochta atá le fáil ag muintir na Gaeltachta faoi Achtanna na dTithe (Gaeltacht). Rinneadh méadú agus leathnú substaintiúil ar na deontais sin ag deireadh na bliana 1985 agus níl aon amhras ach go bhfuil borradh mór faoi oibreacha den chineál seo ó shin i leith. Tá éileamh mór ar na deontais — go háirithe ar na deontais fheabhsúcháin speisialta chun tithe a tógadh roimh 1940 a fheabhsú agus a athnuachan. Bhí drochbhail ar a lán de na tithe seo ach leis an deontas fial atá le fáil anois, tá feabhas mór curthu orthu agus tá caighdeán na dtithe ag dul i bhfeabhas i gcónaí dá bharr. Anuraidh ceadaíodh deontais speisialta i gcás 180 teach a tógadh roimh 1940 agus táthar ag súil go gceadófar níos mó ná sin i mbiiana.

£1,625,000 atá curtha ar fáil i Meastachán na bliana seo le haghaidh deontais tithíochta idir thógáil agus fheabhsúcháin. Anuraidh críochnaíodh 266 teach nua agus 760 cás eile a bhain le hoibreacha feabhsucháin, sláintíochta agus méaduithe (na tithe a tógadh roimh 1940 san áireamh) le cabhair chaiteachais £1,311,000. Leis an bhfeabhas mór atá ar an gcaighdeán tithíochta sa Ghaeltacht táim sásta gur leor an soláthar atá ar fáil i mbliana chun freastal ar na riachtanais. Ní miste a rá go bhfuil measúnú leanúnach á dhéanamh ar na deontais tithíochta atá ar fáil sa Ghaeltacht i bhfianaise an chinnidh nárbh fholáir a dhéanamh faoi dheontais tithíochta lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht agus an fheabhais sa chaighdeán tithiochta a luaigh mé cheana.

Bíonn tionchar nach beag ar fhorbairt na Gaeltachta ag na scéimeanna feabhsúcháin atá á reachtáil ag mo Roinnse agus is cúis bhróid dom go bhfuil méadú suntasach ar sholáthar na bliana seo do na scéimeanna sin — £1.8 milliún — i gcomparáid leis an méid a caitheadh orthu i 1986 .i. £1.4 mhilliun. Cabhraíonn na scéimeanna seo le feabhas a chur ar bhunstruchtúr na Gaeltachta trí sholáthar uisce agus saoráidí séarachais a chur ar fáil, saoráidí calaíochta a fheabhsú, bóithre a dheisiú agus mar sin de. Measaim féin go bhfuil tábhacht ar leith ag baint leis an gcúnamh a thugtar chun bóithre áise agus portaigh a dheisiú. Tá liosta, in ord tosaíochta, de bhóithre den chineál sin a bhfuil obair de dhíth go géar orthu á ullmhú ag mo Roinnse faoi láthair agus meastacháin chostais á fháil ó na comhairlí contae cuí. Ní gnáthach don Roinn deontas a cheadú mura mbíonn Gaeilge ag formhór de na daoine a mbíonn an bóthar ag freastal orthu agus an bóthar ag freastal ar dhá theach cónaithe ar a laghad nó i gcás bóthar portaigh ag freastal ar 10 líon tí. Tá súil agam gur gearr anois go mbeidh an t-eolas uile agam atá á bhailiú i gcaoi go mbeidh ar mo chumas na deontais a cheadú.

Tugtar cúnamh freisin chun hallaí pobail a thógáil agus a chóiriú agus áiseanna chaitheamh aimsire ar nós páirceanna peile, pinniúir liathróid láimhe, cuirteanna leadóige agus cispheile a sholáthar — rud a chuireann, ar ndóigh, leis na saoráidí sóisialacha ar fud na Gaeltachta.

Bhíodh deontais fhorlíontacha anuas ar dheontais ó Bhord Fáilte ar fáil ón Roinn roinnt blianta o shin chun óstáin nó tithe aíochta nó saoráidí eile a fheabhsú nó a chur ar fáil sa Ghaeltacht faoi Scéim na Cóiríochta Saoire a bhí dírithe ar chuairteoirí a raibh suim acu sa Ghaeilge. Tá srian curtha leis na deontais fhorlíontacha sin, áfach, i ngeall ar chinneadh a rinne Bord Fáilte sa bhliain 1985 ag leagan síos nach mbeadh deontais le fáil uathu siúd feasta ach ag ostáin a bhí dírithe ar áiseanna a sholáthar do chuairteoirí iasachta.

Cuirtear cúnamh airgeadais ar fáil freisin do chomharchumainn Ghaeltachta a bhionn ag plé le forbairt iomlán a gceantair fheidhme — forbairt eacnamaíoch agus shóisialach chomh maith le cur chun cinn na Gaeilge agus an cultúr dúchais. Íoctar deontais reachtála do chomharchumainn Ghaeltachta mar chabhair chun a chumasú dóibh a gcostais riaracháin — ar a n-áirítear an tuarastal is gá a íoc do bhainisteoir oilte, cumasach - a ghlanadh. Ní théann méid an deontais sin thar £20,000 (no £22,000 i gcás oileáin) nó 85 faoin gcéad de na costais sin. Is cúis áthais dom go raibh ar chumas mo Roinnse modh íocaíochta an deontais sin a athrú níos luaithe i mbliana i gcaoi go n-íocfar é ag tús ráithe in ionad ag a deireadh feasta — rud a shabhalfáidh ús bainc ar na comharchumainn. Ar ndóigh, cuirtear cúnamh caipitil ar fáil do chomharchumainn chomh maith i ndáil ie tograí fiúntacha a bhíonn ar siúl acu ina gceantair fheidhme.

Maidir leis na hoileáin Ghaeltachta, níl amhras ach go bhfuil feabhas mór taghta ar chúrsaí an tsaoil iontu mar thoradh ar an gcúnamh fial atá curtha ar fáil thar na blianta ag Roinn na Gaeltachta agus ag Údarás na Gaeltachta. Tá feabhas mór tagtha ar chúrsaí tithíochta sna hoileáin; tá scéimeanna leictreachais curtha ar fáil iontu; tá aiseanna breise taitneamhachta agus sóisialta tógtha nó feabhsaithe. I gcás cuid mhaith de na hoileáin, tá forbairt nach beag déanta ar mhuiroibreacha agus ar sheirbhísí farantóireachta agus tá deiseanna fostaíochta curtha ar fáil. Cé go bhfuil feabhas mar seo taghta ar shaol na n-oileánach go ginearálta, ní hionann sin is a rá go bhfuil cúrsaí ar na hoileáin mar ba chóir go fóill. Aithníonn an Rialtas go bhfuil fadhbanna ar leith fós le sárú i gcás na n-oileán — laistigh agus lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht. Dá réir sin, tá coiste speisialta bunaithe ag an Taoiseach ar a bhfuil Airí agus Airí Stáit chun na fadhbanna sin a scrúdú agus chun iarracht a dhéanamh teacht ar bhealaí chun iad a réiteach. Tá an Coiste faoi chathaoirleacht an Aire Comhshaoil, an Teachta Pádraic Ó Floinn, agus is é an Teachta Pádraig Ó Gallchóir (the Cope), Aire Stáit ag Roinn na Mara, atá ag feidhmiú mar Rúnaí. Tá mé féin mar chomhalta den Choiste i dteannta leis an Aire Turasóireachta agus lompair, an Teachta Seán Mac Uilliam; an tAire Stáit ag Roinn an Taoisigh, an Teachta Máire Geoghegan-Quinn; agus an tAire Stáit ag an Roinn Airgeadais, an Teachta Nollaig Ó Treasaigh. Ag an gcéad cruinniú den Choiste, shocraigh na hAirí go n-iarrfaí ar na bainisteoirí contae sin a raibh oileáin faoina gcúram acu oifigeach ag ard-leibhéal a cheapadh le plé go díreach le fadhbanna na n-oileánach. Tá heart déanta dá réir anois agus tá oifigeach speisialta ceaptha sna comhairlí contae i gContae Dhún na nGall, i gContae Mhaigh Eo, i gContae na Gaillimhe agus i gContae Chorcaí. Tá iarrtha ar na hoifigigh sin tuarascáil a ullmhú maidir leis na fadhóanna ar leith atá le sárú ag na hoileáin ina gceantair féin agus tá súil ag an gCoiste Airí go mbeidh na tuarascálacha sin á gcur faoina mbráid go luath. Beifear in aim an cheist a scrúdú tuilleadh ag an bpointe sin agus táim dóchasach go mbeidh dul chun cinn le feiceail go luath.

Faoi Scéim na bhFoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge íoctar deontas le mná tí Gaeltachta a mbfonn foghlaimeoirí aitheanta Gaeilge ar íostas acu le linn dóibh bheith ag freastal ar chúrsaí Gaeilge. Faigheann na daoine óga deis iontach chun saol na Gaeltachta a bhiaiseadh agus chun feabhas a chur ar a gcuid Gaeilge trina dteagmháil le muintir na Gaeltachta. Fuair breis agus 16,600 dalta cúnamh faoin scéim anuraidh, titim an-beag — thart ar 300 — ar an líon a bhí i gceist i 1985 agus, mar is gnách, rinne lucht eagraithe na gcúrsaí sa Ghaeltacht sárobair. Is obair leanúnach í seo agus ba mhaith liom tréaslú leis na Coláistí Gaeilge faoin méid atá á dhéanannh acu ar mhaithe le leathadh na Gaeilge.

De bharr na géirchéime airgeadais is oth liom a rá nach rabhthas in ann an deontas a íoctar faoin scéim a mhéadú i mbliana ach de bhrí go bhfuil ísliú mór tagtha ar an mboilsciú táim sásta nach mbeidh na mná tí a choinníonn foghlaimeoirí thíos le is. £1,120,000 atá á chur ar fáil sa Mheastachán i mbliana le haghaidh na scéime seo.

Ar ndóigh ní leor do dhaltaí freastal ar chúrsa trí sheachtain nó mar sin sa Ghaeltacht chun go dtiocfaidís isteach go hiomlán ar an nGaeilge labhartha. Cé go leagtar síos dúshraith ag na cúrsaí sin ni foláir freisin do na coláistí socruithe a dhéanamh chun go mbeadh imeachtaí sóisialta trí mheán na Gaeilge ar siúl i mbailte dúchais na ndaltaí. Thabharfadh na himeachtaí seo deis dóibh an teanga a chleachtadh ó cheann ceann na bliana agus cheanglódh sé úsáid na Gaeilge le caitheamh aimsire agus le spraoi in ionad le timpeallacht na scoile mar a tharlaíonn go minic faoi láthair.

Tá an-chreidiúint ag dul do Choláiste na bhFiann atá ag eagrú imeachtaí mar seo le blianta anuas — le cúnamh ó mo Roinnse — i mBaile Átha Cliath agus i mbailte móra ar fud na tíre. Tá súil agam gur gearr go mbeidh coláistí eile ag tabhairt aghaidh ar an ngnó seo agus go rneallfar daltaí chun cur leis an suim sa Ghaeilge a músclaíodh iontu nuair a bhí siad ar na cúrsaí Gaeltachta.

£75,000 atá a chur ar fáil sa Mheastachán i mbliana le haghaidh Scéim Labhairt na Gaeilge. Ar chostas an-bheag is scéim thábhachtach í chun muintir na Gaeltachta a spreagadh chun an Ghaeilge a choinneáil beo. Tríd an scéim tá teagmháil ag mo Roinnse le breis is 2,000 teaghlach sa Ghaeltacht agus tugann oifigigh na Roinne moltaí agus comhairle i gcásanna ina mbíonn deacrachtaí leis an Ghaeilge. Tá na deacrachtaí sin ag dul i méid mar gheall ar na toscaí iomadúla atá ag brú Béaria ar theaghlaigh agus ar pháistí na Gaeltachta.

Tá ár mbuíochas uile ag dul do mhúinteoirí scoile a chaitheann díogras agus dúthracht le forbairt na teanga sna scoileanna Gaeltachta agus ba mhaith liom an deis seo a thapú chun a iarraidh ar thuismitheoirí na Gaeltachta gan seod seo na teanga a cheilt ar a bpáistí: is trí labhairt na teanga sa teaghlach agus sa phobal a chinnteofar go mairfidh an Ghaeilge sa Ghaeltacht, áit a mbeidh sí mar fhoinse as a dtarraingeoidh daoine díograsacha ar fud na tíre meanma agus misneach chun leanúint dá n-iarrachtaí ar mhaithe leis an teanga.

Is rud tábhachtach é go mbeadh nuachtán tarraingteach Gaeilge ar fáil agus eileamh maith air ón bpobal agus is ar an gcúis sin atá airgead á chur ar fáil ag mo Roinnse don nuachtán seachtainiúil Anois. Tá an tréimhse trí bliana a leagadh síos sa chonradh a síníodh le Anois Teoranta ag druidim chun deiridh agus tá idirbheartaíocht ar siúl faoi láthair ag mo Roinnse leis na foilsitheoirí maidir le conradh nua. Cé go bhfuil súil agam go mbeidh ar mo chumas méadú éigin sa dheontas a thairiscint do lucht Anois ni mór a choimeád i gcuimhne go bhfuil teorainn leis an gcúnamh gur féidir leis an Stát a chur ar fáil d'aon chuspóir dá fheabhas é. Tá sé riachtanach mar sin go dtabharfadh gach duine agus gach dream ar spéis leo an Ghaeilge tacaíocht leanúnach do Anois trína cheannach gach seachtain agus/nó trí fhógraíocht a dhéanamh ann.

D'fhonn iriseoireacht áitiúil a spreagadh i gceantair Ghaeltachta ina labhartar an Ghaeilge go coitianta mar ghnáththeanga bíonn cúnamh ar fáil o mo Roinnse faoi Sceim na nirisí Áitiúla Gaeltachta. Baineann an scéim le hiris Ghaeilge a bhíonn á stiúradh ag coiste iontaofa Gaeltachta ar a bhfuil ionadaíocht shásúil ag pobal an cheantair agus a fhoilsíonn nuacht áitiúil, trácht ar chúrsaí reatha, filíocht nua-cheaptha agus rudaí mar sin. Is féidir deontas suas le £500 in aghaidh an eagráin a íoc gan dul thar £3,000 sa bhliain i gcás aon irise áirithe. Tá cúnamh ar fáil ó mo Roinnse freisin do thréimhseacháin áirithe Ghaeilge, mar shampla Comhar, Feasta, an tUltach, Agus, An Sagart, An Gael Óg, Tír na nÓg agus An Timire.

Nuair a bunaíodh Bord na Gaeilge chun "an Ghaeilge, agus go háirithe a húsáid mar theanga bheo agus mar ghnáthmheán cumarsáide, a chur chun cinn" leagadh ualach trom air agus bhí a fhios ag an Rialtas ag an am go raibh obair mhór le déanamh. Tuigeadh, freisin, nach ar an mbord amháin a bheifí ag brath: leagtar síos go soiléir san Acht faoinar bunaíodh an bord go leanfadh Ranna Stáit agus comhlachtaí eile de comhlíonadh na bhfeidhmeanna i ndáil leis an nGaeilge a raibh siad freagrach iontu. Aithníodh go mbeadh comhoibriú ó Ranna, ó chomhlachtaí eile, ó na meáin chumarsáide agus ón bpobal mór féin de dhíth chun dul chun cinn suntasach a dhéanamh.

Tá tréimhse an chéad Phlean Gníomhaíochta don Ghaeilge 1983-1986 a d'ullmhaigh an bord istigh anois agus tá an Dara Plean Gníomhaíochta don tréimhse 1987 go 1990 á ullmhú faoi láthair. Léiríonn na tuarascálacha ar fheidhmiú a chéad phlean a leagadh faoi bhráid na Dála gur baineadh amach cuid mhaith de na spriocanna a sonraíodh. Is cosúil nár éirigh le Ranna agus comhlachtaí áirithe Stáit, áfach, a gcion féin a dhéanamh i ndáil leis na spriocanna teoranta a sonraíodh dóibh. Tá sé riachtanach go mbeadh socruithe sásúla i bhfeidhm san earnáil phoiblií, ar a n-áirítear Ranna Rialtais, comhlachtaí stáit, údaráis áitiúla agus a leithéidí, chun seirbhís chothrom trí Ghaeilge a thabhairt do gach duine a bheadh á lorg agus go mbeadh sé soiléir dóibh go gcuirfear an tseirbhís sin ar fáil le fonn agus le fáilte. Tá súil agam go mbeidh lánchomhoibriú ar fáil ó Ranna agus comhlachtaí Stáit chun an fhadhb seo a réiteach le linn tréimhse an dara Plean Gníomhaíochta.

Tá réamhthuarascáil faighte le fíordhéanaí ó Ghrúpa Oibre ar a raibh ionadaithe ó mo Roinnse, ón Roinn Cumarsáide, ó Bhord na Gaeilge agus ó Radio Telefís Éireann, a bunaíodh anuraidh chun staidéar iomlán a dhéanamh ar cheist na Gaeilge ar an teilifís. Tá moltaí an ghrúpa sin á meas faoi láthair ag mo Roinnse agus ag an Roinn Cumarsáide agus is léir go bhfuil scagadh doimhin déanta acu ar an gceist thábhachtach seo, agus ar na fadhbanna agus na deacracthaí a bhainfeadh le méadú a dhéanamh ar líon na gcláracha Gaeilge ar an teilifís. Ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a ghabháil leis an nGrúpa Oibre as an saothar díograiseach a rinne siad in achar gearr agus tá súil agam nach dtógfar orm é má thugaim focal molta ar leith don Chathaoirleach, Eoghan Ó Cadhain, Uasal. Scor Eoghan ón Státseirbhís i mí Eanáir seo caite tar éis 40 bliain a chaitheamh ag obair ar son na Gaeilge. Is eol dom gur chaith sé an-dua ie hobair an ghrúpa agus táimid faoi mórchomhaoin aige gur lean sé mar chathaoirleach ar an ngrúpa go dtí go raibh an obair críochnaithe. Tá Súil agam go mbainfidh sé lán sásamh as an sos atá tuillte go maith aige anois.

Os rud é go bhfuil na ceantair Ghaeltachta scartha amach óna chéile is gá go mbeadh oiread teagmhála agus is féidir eatarthu. Is mór an chabhair Raidió na Gaeltachta chun sprid an chomhluadair a chothú trí chláir a chur ar fáil sna canúintí éagsúla — rud a neartaíonn na snaidhmeanna cairdis agus cultúrtha atá idir na ceantair sin. Ba mhaith liom tréaslú le Raidió na Gaeltachta as ucht na hoibre atá curtha i gcrích acu thar na blianta — agus le bliain anuas ach go háirithe ó cuireadh le líon na n-uaireanta craolacháin dóibh.

Is as Ciste na Gaeilge a chuirtear cúnamh Stáit ar fáil do Bhord na Gaeilge agus do na heagrais dheonacha Ghaeilge — Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, Gael-Linn, Conradh na Gaeilge, An tOireachtas, Cumann na bhFiann, An Comhlachas Náisiúnta Drámaíochta, agus do Bhord na Leabhar Gaeilge, Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe. Amharclann Ghaoth Dobhair agus an Gael-Acadamh. Tig leis na heagrais Ghaeilge sin an-obair a dhéanamh i mease an phobail ach cur chuige le fonn agus le fuinneamh. Tig leo freisin tacú le gníomhaíochtaí a chéile i gcaoi go mbeidh comhórdú ceart idir na hiarrachtaí a bhíonn ar siúil acu. Is gnó do Chomhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, áfach, féachaint chuige go mbíonn iarrachtaí na n-eagras éagsúla á chomhórdú go héifeachtach d'fhonn an Ghaeilge a leathadh i measc an phobail agus táim sásta go bhfuil aghaidh á tabhairt ag an gComhdháil ar an obair sin i láthair na huaire.

Is cúis áthais dom gur mó é an soláthar sa Chiste i mbiiana d'ainneoin na géarchéime airgeadais agus go raibh ar mo chumas, dá bharr, méadú éigin a thabhairt do gach eagras acu. Cé go raibh an méadú níos lú ná mar a bhí á lorg acu ceapaim gur féidir leo obair fhiúntach a dhéanamh leis an airgead atá ar fáil.

Is breá liom go bhfuil i gceist go n-athbhunófar an Comhchoiste Oireachtais don Ghaeilge a rinne an-chuid oibre chun áit níos feiceálaí a thabhairt don Ghaeilge in imeachtaí na Dála agus an tSeanaid agus i dtimpeallacht an dá Theach. Bhí sé de phribhiéid agam féin bheith mar Chathaoirleach ar an gComhchoiste sin agus d'éirigh linn dhá Thuarascáil a fhoilsiú ina raibh moltaí praiticiúla maidir le leathadh na Gaeilge anseo sa Dáil agus sa Seanad. Is áthas liom go bhfuil feidhm tugtha do chuid de na moltaí sin ach tá a lan le déanamh go fóill. Sílim go dtig le hAirí, le Teachtaí agus Seanadóirí tabhairt faoin Ghaeilge a labhairt níos mó i dTithe an Oireachtais. larraim ar gach duine de Bhaill an Oireachtais oiread feidhm agus is féidir leo a bhaint as labhairt na Gaeilge anseo agus an dea-shampla a thabhairt don phobal ar fad.

Is cúis áthais dom go mbeidh airgead ar fáil don Ghaeilge ón gCrannchur Náisiúnta. Níl a fhios agam go foill cé mhéid ach tá sé i gceist go mbeidh breis airgid le fáil agus beidh fáilte roimhe. Chinn an Rialtas le gairid ar £1,750,000 a chur ar fáil i mbliana do na healaíona, don chultúr agus don Ghaeilge ó na fáltais sin agus socrófar go luath conas a dáilfear an t-airgead idir na héilimh éagsula.

Tá an géarchéim eacnamaíochta ag goilliúint ar gach gné de shaol na tíre agus ní haon eisceacht í cúis na Gaeilge. Ach tá go leor gur féidir linn uile a dhéanamh ar mhaithe leis an nGaeilge nach mbeadh costas ar bith ag baint leis. Dá mbeadh gach duine sásta úsáid a bhaint as an méid Gaeilge atá aige nó aici go mórtasach agus go hoscailte is gearr go mbeadh an Ghaeilge le cloisteáil, ní hamháin sa Ghaeltacht, ach ar fud na tíre uile. Tá súil agam gur féidir bheith ag brath orainn sa Teach seo chun an dea-shampla a thabhairt.

Iarraim ar an Teach glacadh leis an Meastachán seo mar chabhair chun an Ghaeltacht a fhorbairt tuilleadh agus chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn.

This Adjournment debate takes place at the end of what has been an unusual and fascinating session of the Dáil. It is a session that was preceded by an unusual general election. It was unusual in that rarely can there have been quite the contrast between the approaches adopted by the parties in terms of how much they were prepared to tell the public of their plans and intentions. That election was fought by us on the basis of the budget which failed to win the support of this House. In every detail what we had in mind was on the table for examination, for analysis, for criticism. In contrast, the Fianna Fáil Party, and more specifically their leader, rather like Brer Rabbit stayed there and said nuffing. One recalls the disdain with which Deputy Haughey declined to enter into any discussion on whether there were to be public expenditure cuts and if there were to be public expenditure cuts in what areas those cuts might take place. So, we had a very curious general election and a very curious and interesting result.

When the votes were counted it was clear that the only Government that could be formed, if a Government could be formed, and about that there was considerable doubt, was one that would be led by Deputy Haughey but it was not clear from where he would get the extra support required in order to be in a position to form an administration. Some possibilities arose. There was a possibility of some sort of attempt to cobble together, as happened on a previous occasion, support from The Workers' Party — from the Marxists of The Workers' Party — a perhaps improbable alliance but it had happened before and who was to know whether that was to be on the agenda. Would one of the Independents suddenly find a possibility of massive investments in his or her constituency running to tens of millions of pounds? Who knew what treats were in store for South Tipperary or wherever? Or would the Government depend for their continuance in office on the support of Deputy Blaney and what might the implications of that be for Anglo-lrish relations?

All of those were possibilities, but once the election results were in my party thought it important to clear the air, to indicate very clearly where we stood. Therefore, on the night of the count, once it was clear that Fine Gael would not be in a position to form a Government or participate in the formation of a Government, the then leader of my party, Garret FitzGerald, went on television to indicate what would be our approach. He indicated in the most explicit terms that our attitude would be one of goodwill and support towards an incoming Government who were prepared to follow broadly the analysis we had identified.

Subsequently our parliamentary party met and, with a greater opportunity for reflection, considered the matter in more detail. We issued a formal statement indicating what our position would be, assuring an incoming Government that a budget they would introduce which followed the parameters of our budget would not be opposed by us, and neither would the legislation to give effect to that budget be opposed. We thought it important that an incoming Administration should know what the prospects of securing support would be. During the transition period after the election and before the first meeting of the Dáil, because it seemed most probable that an Administration would be headed by Deputy Haughey, we arranged on an unprecedented scale that Deputy Haughey and those who were likely to serve with him would be briefed in detail on the various problems facing the country. The Taoiseach today graciously referred to that fact once again. Even in those few weeks we made our position clear.

Then we all gathered for the first day of the new Dáil session. I recall what a tense and exciting occasion that was. Few recall that better than yourself, A Cheann Comhairle, given the role you were to play in it. Deputy Haughey was duly elected by the skin of his teeth, went to Aras an Uachtarain and came back with the seal of office to announce the nomination of the members of the Government. That gave another opportunity to the parties in this House to indicate what their approach was to be during the course of this Dáil session. My then party leader again made our position very clear. He referred to the very difficult problems, particularly in the economic area, facing the Government, Anglo-lrish matters and difficulties in the European Community. He went on to say what he thought our function should be. He said at column 64, volume 371 of the Official Report, on 10 March 1987:

None of us is or need to be in doubt about the gravity of the problems facing us or about the fact that they can only be overcome by an effect of political will involving a commitment and a degree of united effort on the part of all of us in politics which is outside the normal framework of what has in the past been secured or what has seemed possible to secure given the adversarial character of our parliamentary system.

He went on to say, and this has been quoted already in today's debate.

I know it is going to be difficult for all of us. We are going to find it difficult at times to offer the degree of support which will be necessary for the Government to carry out their functions effectively and to overcome the great problems that face us and to take on the vested interests which are strangling this country. It will not be easy for an Opposition to support some of the measures the Government will have to take. Yet we will do so. It will not be easy for the Government to take these steps but they must do so. It will not be easy for this House to operate in such a way as to secure, on the one hand, the benefits of the degree of unity required to tackle the problems of the scale which now face us and, on the other hand, to maintain the distance there should be between Government and Opposition and to continue to carry out the constructive role of Opposition in questioning the Government's actions, scrutinising them and of keeping the Government up to the mark in the way in which every Opposition have to do.

That was a statement of goodwill for the incoming Government and a promise of support.

The Taoiseach must have found that a reassuring debate because it was not just Deputy FitzGerald and Fine Gael who had encouraging words for the newly elected Taoiseach. Deputy O'Malley, Leader of the Progressive Democrats also intervened during that debate. He promised support on Northern Ireland if Fianna Fáil went along with the Anglo-Irish Agreement, and then continued, at column 71, volume 371 of the Official Report on 10 March 1987:

The same is true as far as economic matters are concerned. The Progressive Democrats will not seek to defeat or bring down the Government on specific policy issues where we judge the Government are trying to do the right thing. We will encourage and support them either by voting with them or by not voting against them as appropriate in such cases.

He said that to show his goodwill he would not challenge a division that night.

The next major occasion in the life of this session was the budget speech of the Minister for Finance, Deputy MacSharry, and our first opportunity to see how serious were those statements of goodwill. In his reply Deputy Michael Noonan indicated, I think rather moderately, his surprise at the extent of the Pauline conversion which had taken place and what appeared to be a willingness to steal other parties' clothes. Having done so, he indicated that in accordance with our commitment, we would not be opposing the budget. At that stage Deputy McDowell spoke on behalf of the Progressive Democrats. He was scathing about Deputy Noonan's contribution simply because he had taken but a few minutes to refer to the change of direction by Fianna Fáil. He said at column 829, volume 371 of the Official Report on 31 March 1987:

This debate is one in which we are reminded, especially by the speech given by Deputy Noonan, that this is an adversarial institution where people come together to argue what is proposed by the Government rather than to get together to do what is best for the country... I find it remarkable that somebody could be so abusive and so scornful when on the Fianna Fáil benches we now see a change of heart of a very substantial kind which has been made in the interest of the country at large. Everyone should have the generosity to accept it.

In the light of subsequent events that really is remarkable. He went on to say:

The Progressive Democrats were founded as a new and separate political party in order to make the Irish political process not more divisive but more decisive.

It was bound to be an interesting session. It was going to be an unusual Dáil. It was a Dáil which would require from its participants a degree of sensitivity, flexibility and generosity. Let us see to what extent the parties in this House have lived up to that responsibility.

The performance of the Government party has been deeply disappointing, most noticeably in their attitude to committees of the House. One might have thought that having failed to secure the majority support of the public and operating as a minority party in the Dáil they would have accepted the fact that there was an unanswerable case for an expanded committee system giving Members of all parties, whether in Government — the minority — or in Opposition — the majority — an opportunity to exercise influence. Instead, we have seen a retreat from the progress that was made during the course of the last Dáil. There has been an attempt to wrap up committees which had worked effectively in the last Dáil and a sluggishness, slowness and hesitancy as they were dragged into movement on committees in other areas. There is a deeply disappointing lack of openness and lack of generosity.

In contrast stands the approach which has been taken by my party because, as Deputy Garret FitzGerald said on that occasion, it was not going to be easy for us at times. We accepted the fact that the election results imposed particular responsibilities on all of us to make this House work and we fulfilled that commitment to a degree of co-operation. Take, for example, the attitude we have taken to Private Members' Time which, traditionally, was used for condemnatory motions to which Governments tabled laudatory amendments and we had ritual playacting at 8.30 p.m. on a Wednesday. We have not sought to make use of Private Members' time in that way. Deputy Shatter introduced a Bill in Private Members' Time in relation to adoption, a serious in justice which had been tolerated for far too long and in respect of which a Bill had already been drafted. The House was presented with an opportunity to end the injustice and to offer to children in institutions all over the State the prospect of moving to a secure and stable family environment. Consider the difference of approach. Fine Gael did not seek to use their time to score party political points, they were prepared to allocate the little time available to Opposition parties to discuss a serious social ill.

Fianna Fáil voted down that Bill and condemned people to a longer stay in institutions. Under pressure, they produced a virtually identical Bill. If there was any substance to the minute differences which existed between the two Bills, they could easily have been dealt with by amendments on Committee Stage. However, Fianna Fáil could not adjust to a situation where there might be merit in proposals coming from any side of the House other than their own, they closed ranks and voted it down, another example of a lack of openness and generosity.

Perhaps the most curious role in the Dáil has been played by the Progressive Democrats who, you will recall, through their party leader, intervened in the debate on the nomination of members of the Government to indicate their attitude. They indicated they would give the Government a degree of co-operation and support. Indeed, when Deputy Noonan, Opposition spokesman, prefaced his indication of support by political remarks on the budget, he was castigated by Deputy McDowell. What has their performance been? Far from offering any degree of co-operation they have sought to turn the Chamber into a bear garden day after day. They have shown themselves to be the parliamentary vandals of the Dáil. That is from a party founded on the basis that they were the party of new politics, which would have no time for the bickering which bedevilled civil war politics. They were prepared to see good from wherever it would come and they would be responsible, open and constructive. The role they have played in the Dáil is in shameful and stark contrast to their stated position. Their antics have directly prevented the Dáil from debating issues of substance. For example, the very early important sections of the Finance Bill, dealing with income tax, were not debated on Committee Stage, not because of an oppressive Government guillotine or because of collusion between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, as the PDs suggested, but because they engaged in the nonsense of calling for divisions again and again that morning, making debate impossible.

One could understand those kind of tactics coming from a very different political party. Those who take an interest in British politics might associate such tactics with the so-called hard left of the Labour Party, the anti-Neil Kinnock group within that party, who, allegedly, have a degree of enthusiasm for extra parliamentary tactics. We did not expect such tactics from a party founded on the basis that it was the party of a modern Ireland, which would put bickering, squabbling and all that old fashioned nonsense behind them. Their antics are mind boggling and the pretence that they were justified because of a change in Standing Orders requires some scrutiny.

The Standing Order to which they take objection is the way in which Private Members' Time is to be allocated between the parties in Opposition. For this purpose, we are talking about three political parties, The Workers Party do not qualify as they do not have enough members to form a group for this purpose. There are 14 Progressive Democrats, 12 Labour Members and 51 Fine Gael Members. We seek neither more nor less than that the time should be allocated on a proportional basis. What the Progressive Democrats seek is that the parties which have only half the number of members which Fine Gael has, should have twice as much time as Fine Gael in Private Members' Time, which makes no sense whatever. Our case is based on simple justice, that we should have our mathematical share of the time available to the combined Opposition——

It is not as simple as that.

Because of their opposition to that they have engaged in this parliamentary guerilla campaign and have reduced the time available for debate on important issues.

Fine Gael managed to shoot themselves in the foot without any help from us.

I welcomed the formation of the Progressive Democrats because I admired the courage with which some of their founders had argued their case within Fianna Fáil. I took them to be people of some substance with whose policies in some areas I agreed. I thought they would have a serious contribution to make to politics. Indeed, it is fair to say that I probably did not increase my popularity within my own party because I did not make a secret of my views. However, those who rebuked me have been shown to have spoken a good deal of sense. Part of the appeal of the Progressive Democrats was that they would be a party of substance and reality and businesslike. The fact that they engaged in this kind of exercise seems to indicate that they are on the slope to irrelevance.

I still have not given up on the Progressive Democrats. They might yet have something to offer and I hope they will get their act together. The Progressive Democrats are essentially a splinter group from Fianna Fáil and they are simply resorting to traditional Fianna Fáil Opposition tactics. During the four years in which Fianna Fáil were in Opposition, not a word of encouragement was forthcoming on any issue tackled by the Government. Instead, week after week, motions were tabled seeking increases in public expenditure. The track record of the Progressive Democrats is all but identical. Formed as the party who would, above all, cut public expenditure, what has their voting record been?

(Limerick East): Cutting Charlie Haughey.

It is true that they did once get their courage together. During the course of the last Dáil they came through the lobbies on one occasion in support of the then Government on an issue of some moment when they supported them in their attitude to the teachers' pay dispute. Having done so once, they so terrified themselves that they never did it again. The very first vote in which they participated as a party perhaps indicated what was in store. Again, the press launch of the new party will be recalled, with all the hype across the road, how they were going to be serious, tough, determined. The first vote they had to face was one of putting 1p on the pint. Scarcely, one might have thought an issue that should have troubled people who were so tough minded and determined and willing to face unpopularity. What did they do? They scurried through to oppose a 1p increase in the price of the pint.

Then, as the Government sought to curb expenditure and the Opposition party week after week brought in motions seeking extra public expenditure, what was the role of the Progressive Democrats? When they were present their attitude was one of supporting calls for extra expenditure while all the time wrapping the garments of financial and fiscal responsibility around themselves. That double think, that hypocrisy, that dishonesty, have characterised their performance and their contribution in the life of this Dáil. I say again, as someone who would like to see them remain around for a while and would like to see them make some kind of contribution, that they are just going to have to sort themselves out. Their leader in the most explicit terms indicated that a Government who were prepared to address a common analysis of our economic problems would be entitled to expect support and would receive support. They have failed to deliver. In the course of the Finance Bill there was a certain procedural tango between the leader of the Progressive Democrats, Deputy O'Malley, and the Fine Gael spokesman, Deputy Noonan. As a result of that, when commitment as to pressing or not pressing an issue was recoiled from, Deputy Noonan charged that Deputy O'Malley was unreliable. That surely is the mark of the performance of the Progressive Democrats during the course of this Dáil.

Let us see just what the consequences are for how our parliamentary system works. Because of Fine Gael's willingness to accept the difficult burden and the Progressive Democrats cowardice in refusing to share the burden they had indicated they were going to shoulder, Deputy O'Malley in his contribution and Deputy Desmond both welcomed the fact that the Fianna Fáil Government appear to be welcoming the Anglo-Irish Agreement at this stage in a U-turn on what they had at one stage indicated was their attitude. I welcome the change of approach on that. Does anybody think that we would have that change of approach if the Government were not in a position to look to these benches for some general support and had to depend instead on the narrow minded irredentist nationalism that is represented by Deputy Blaney on his perch up in the corner? Is that what the Progressive Democrats would wish to have happen? Nowhere is this double think and hypocrisy more obvious than in the outbursts of the last few days.

My party had spelt out their position in relation to the health cuts time after time. We accept the case — and I am not going to go into the details now——

No, it would be too embarrassing.

We accept the case for curbing expenditure if there is room for cuts and savings in those areas. We believe it is impossible to stay within the general allocation for this year. Deputy Desmond says that is a cop-out. Frankly, I am not for one moment suggesting that it is possible to do all that needs to be done simply by finding layers of bureaucracy that can be stripped off, even on the basis of the allocations that we proposed and the decisions we had taken; very difficult decisions would have to have been faced in the health service area and I fully acknowledge that. We pressed our case at every opportunity that was open to us. However, we had the charade over the last few days of the performance of the Progressive Democrats. On Tuesday night, people went home with some speculation that the country was on the eve of an election and no doubt there was a hope that people might have had a good night's sleep. Our backbenchers could not get a night's sleep because of the antics of the Progressive Democrats at the very highest levels ringing them up begging them not to vote in the Dáil on the following day, asking them to absent themselves so as to save the Progressive Democrats from an election they were terrified of.

That is absolute rubbish.

And well they might have been terrified of it and right they were to make those phone calls at the very highest levels because the opinion polls had already shown the Progressive Democrats slipping back. It is not just the Progressive Democrats who are in the business of posturing and of shadowboxing. We had a much publicised application for readmission by Deputy Stagg. One would have thought that that was an issue on which, if people were serious, a full attendance of his would-be supporters and comrades might have been expected. But was there a full attendance of the Labour Party? There was not. Was there a full attendance of the Labour Party even in last night's division? There was not. They would not have known long enough in advance what our attitude was going to be and in order to avoid a general election they had to make sure that Deputy Bell was going to miss plane connections or whatever and was not going to get back in time for a vote.

If the Deputy's party were sincere they might have voted for Deputy Stagg's expulsion.

The truth of the matter is that The Evening Press commented that on a radio programme this morning I made an astonishing admission; that astonishing admission was that I had not looked forward to a general election. The truth of the matter is that there was not a Deputy in this House who looked forward to a general election because a general election at this moment would not have been in the country's interest. We know in broad terms what the outcome would have been. There have been opinion polls which show what happened since the February election. They show that Fianna Fáil support has dropped significantly, that Fine Gael support has increased significantly, by 6 per cent on the basis of the last poll. They show the PDs falling back and the Labour Party beginning to make a little headway. What does all that mean? It means another Dáil in which no party would have an overall majority, so how much better off would we be for that? Everybody knows that that is no solution to our problems. The truth of the matter is that the problems we face at this stage are too serious for play-acting. A Government who are prepared to tackle our problems — and we do not know whether this Government are prepared to tackle them, my own feeling is that they will funk it and run away — are entitled to look for general support from those who share a broadly comparable analysis of our problems. That is not easy for us. We have been prepared to shoulder the burden. There are others who have funked it.

Bheinn ag glaoch ar an Teachta ó Chontae na Mí ach tuigim go bhfuil socrú idir é féin agus an Teachta ó Chontae na Gaillimhe.

(Limerick East): An bhfuil an tuiscint sin aontaithe?

De ghnáth cuirtear na haontaithe seo os comhair an Tí. An bhfuil an Teach sásta? Aontaithe.

Ar an gcéad dul síos ba mhaith liom cúpla focal a rá faoi easpa Gaeilge i ráiteas an Taoisigh ag cur tús leis an díospóireacht seo. An cheist a chuir mé féin ort, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, ag deireadh an ráitis sin ná, an raibh Meastacháin Roinn an Taoisigh agus Roinn na Gaeltachta á moladh ag an am céanna. Dá mba rud é go raibh an díospóireacht ag baint ní amháin le cúram an Taoisigh go ginearálta ach leis na Meastacháin éagsúla eile, chuir sé iontas orm, toisc go raibh deireadh á chur le Aireacht na Gaeltachta agus go raibh sé ráite ag tús an téarma seo go raibh cúraimí na Gaeilge agus cúraimí na Gaeltachta á dtógaint ag an Taoiseach féin, nár labhair sé focal i nGaeilge agus nach ndearna sé tagairt dá laghad do na fadhbanna taobh istigh de na Gaeltachtaí, agus nach ndearna sé tagairt, fiú amháin do ainm na Roinne, Roinn na Gaeltachta. Chuir sé áthas orm a chloisteáil go luath sa díospóireacht, Gaeilge an Teachta Denis Gallagher, Aire Stáit ag Roinn an Taoisigh a bhfuil cúram na Gaeltachta air. Ach ag an am céanna caithfidh mé an pointe a dhéanamh, mar tá sé tábhachtach dom. Níor chuir sé iontas orm a laghad suime agus atá ag lucht Fhine Gael i gcúrsaí Gaeilge mar ní raibh sé ro-láidir riamh, ach tá suim ag an ceannaire, an Teachta Alan Dukes, mar labhraíonn sé Gaeilge breá agus is trua nach mbaintear i bhfad níos mó úsáide as an Ghaeilge sa Teach seo.

Ba mhaith liom cúpla focal a rá faoin méid atá ráite ag an Aire Stáit: ar an gcéad dul síos, an cur síos ar an chaiteachas atá i ndán don bhliain atá ag teacht i bhfoirmeacha éagsúla. Is mian liom cúpla ceisteanna a chur air. An bhfuil sé ar intinn aige, mar shampla, glacadh le moltaí Bhord na Gaeilge agus an bhfuil sé ar intinn ag an Rialtas seo plean cuimsitheach don Ghaeilge a fhoilsiú do na blianta go dtí deireadh na nóchaidí? An bhfuil sé ar intinn aige, cuir i gcás, cúraimí nua a thabhairt do Udarás na Gaeltachta chun dul i mbun oibre atá tábhtachtach, go háirithe infrastructúr agus seirbhísí a chur ar fáil? Céard faoi fostaíocht nua sna Gaeltachtaí? Céard faoi na Gaeltachtaí taobh istigh de Chomhphobal na hEorpa? An bhfuil aon airgead breise curtha ar fáil do athbheochan na Gaeilge féin de bharr ár mballríocht i gComhphobal na hEorpa? Céard faoi na deacrachtaí speisialta sna scoileanna Gaeltachta? Tá an-chaint faoi, mar shampla, obair Roinn na Mara. An bhfuil aon scéim speisialta curtha ar fáil chun sean-chéanna a dheisiú agus céanna nua a fhorbairt, agus mar sin de?

Is iontach an rud é nuair a bhí an Taoiseach ag dul trí na Ranna a bhfuil sé ag brath orthu chun fhorbairt na tíre a chur chun cinn nach ndearna sé tagairt díreach don méid is féidir a dhéanamh taobh istigh de na Gaeltachtaí féin, mar shampla, tionscal na turasóireachta, tionscal adhmaid, tionscail iascaireachta agus mar sin de. Dar ndóigh beimid ag éisteacht leis na Teachtaí eile faoi seo gan mhoill. Tá níos lú ama agam le caint ná mar is gnáth mar tá mé ag glacadh leis go bhfuil Baill eile gur mian leo páirt a ghlacadh sa díospóireacht.

Cén fáth nár tugadh i bhfad níos mó airgid ón national lottery do chúrsaí cultúrtha Gaeilge? Cén fáth nach bhfuil aon tagairt do thionscal na turasóireachta san ghné sin a bhaineann le cúrsaí cultúrtha? Níl na tagairtí sin le feiceáil. Agus chuir sé iontas an domhain orm féin toisc go bhfuil, b'fhéidir, an tsuim a bhí aige i gcúrsaí Gaeilge agus Gaeltachta imithe go mór i léig.

Caithfidh mé iompó anois do rud eile go ndúirt an Taoiseach go raibh suim aige ann, cúrsaí scannán. Indeed, the appropriate transition quotation is that it is said that each man kills the thing he loves. If that is the case, the absence of Irish in the Taoiseach's speech absolutely astonished me, in view of the importance of example at these times when I wonder about the commitment that exists towards the Gaeltacht communities and the Irish language.

I have not identified any clear intention in the Government's policy to comprehensively go through the different Government Departments dealing with the ordinary lives of Gaeltacht people to establish as a fact that they would have the basic right to do their business through Irish. A simple obscene example relates to the national lottery putting its two-sided signs all over the Gaeltacht in English only. The national lottery has become almost as important as the national Exchequer. Everybody is expecting to draw money from the national lottery, the lame, the blind, the people who want to run, the people who want to make pictures and so on. In the Gaeltachts these signs are put up only in English.

I noticed a lack of commitment but I intend to move on from it because as time goes on I hope we will have other opportunities to speak on the importance of the Irish language. There is an issue of rights involved, the right to participate fully in the State. I am becoming weary listening to people who pretend to have an interest in the language but who will not use it in their public life. When I came to Galway first it was normal to expect the Mayor of the day to speak in Irish, at least on public occasions. That is entirely gone. People have abandoned it altogether. It is regarded as chic not to know the Irish language and not even make an effort. I will return to all these matters on an appropriate occasion.

The Adjournment debate deals with matters other than this but I have to deal with these together because things Irish, the language and the Gaeltachts are now within the tight bosom of the Taoiseach. In relation to the arts, it gave me no pleasure to read in the Taoiseach's script his decision to abolish Bord Scannáin. I appeal to the Taoiseach to reconsider that decision. It has nothing to do with ideology. If one wanted to establish a film industry here one could not do a more damaging thing than what is proposed there. The Finance Bill made provision for people who want to invest sums of money up to £100,000 in the production of films to enjoy certain amounts of tax break. The money is for production but Bord Scannáin was a clearing house for all of the preliminary stages to film production. If one decides on a film there are different options available for getting it written and so forth and it was to Bord Scannáin that people came and they could get some money to employ a script writer and for the whole creative pre-production part of film making which any-one who knows anything about films knows is very important. Equally important is the post-production phase, the whole question of the different skills which are not market-oriented. What will happen now is that individuals wanting to make a film will have no assistance up to the point at which they have finished the idea and then they will have to take that finished idea to the different people around the place with bundles of £100,000 and hope that they will be artistically lunatic enough to abandon their most extreme commercial desires of film making and start enabling an individual film maker to work. Any film maker in the business could have advised on that. This unfortunately was not taken up. Lest anyone get the idea that this is just another semi-State body gone, it has a tiny staff, it had a tiny budget of about £600,000, it made ten feature films during the five years of the board, and made 25 short films. The money advanced to the board was £1.22 million and for that it earned £3.295 million in foreign currency earnings for films sold abroad. This proposal is an act of philistinism, damaging to the film industry and it transcends even the excesses of mad Margaret in the neighbouring island, who set an alternative commercial entity in place before she decided that she would abolish the film board.

It is very difficult in a short time to speak about the overall thrust of the Taoiseach's speech. I do not want to be as negative as other speakers. The problem about the speech is the little reference that was made to the unemployment crisis. Something that is terribly important for the people who have built their expectations of living in this country in conditions other than poverty is that somehow or other the presence of Deputy Haughey as Taoiseach will release a kind of atmospherics which will create development. The weakness of economic thinking is getting worse by the day. I do not want to repeat arguments I made in relation to the Export Bill a few nights ago. We are enjoying the lowest inflation rate for 20 years in comparison to many OECD countries. We live in expectation of a drop in interest rates and at the same time there is a massive increase in workers' productivity. In 1980 the output per worker was 100; in 1981 it was 108.4 and in 1986 it was 164.2. The output per worker has increased, the average industrial wage has remained steady in real terms and imports are now less than exports. Therefore, we have a favourable trade balance. However, in 1981, 141,000 people were unemployed. and in 1986 250,000 were unemployed. Therefore, the equation is going wrong.

I wonder if people read the reports of the commissions that are established. The Economic Research Institute have published commentaries on unemployment. The National and Economic Social Council published an analysis of the different economic difficulties that are before us. We can enjoy low rates of inflation and live with some expectation of a drop in interest rates but jobs will still not be created because there is no investment strategy for the different sectors of the economy which will in turn lead to specified levels of outturn in relation to jobs.

This raises a number of questions about this Adjournment Debate. I read the Taoiseach's speech a number of times and I am afraid that the ratio of borrowing requirement in relation to gross national product is now the single greatest priority of this administration. That is why Deputy Birmingham who is so far removed from the reality of the problems I have described can say he is getting irritated that the Taoiseach's consensus is not enthusiastic enough for him. It is only when unemployment has been moved to the top of the agenda that we will make any significant indent on the poverty and misery that is taking place.

The most disappointing aspect of speeches on the economy and in the Taoiseach's speech is the vagueness of the language. There are over 20 State agencies assisting the Irish private sector and this is like saying that an injection given to a cow is not working. The Taoiseach noted in his speech that unfortunately there have been no jobs as a result of the investment that is given every year to industry to try to make it productive. What is the point in saying something like that? Why is it not put more bluntly?

We have a highly over-taxed population on a very narrow tax base who are at the point of extremity because of the burden of taxation they are carrying. People now have to live with lectures about reducing their wages and an embargo on public service employment and at the same time the Government are looking at the dismantling of services. Taxpayers are told they will have to wait for any concessions in relation to tax while at the same time they can see people outside of the earned income sector having one kind of tax liability after another virtually scrapped. They have figures thrown at them to show that Irish exports are doing very well. However, they are not told the amount of those exports that are accounted for by foreign located firms in Ireland selling into the European Community and taking all their profits out of the country without any linkages in the Irish economy.

I would have welcomed from the person who says he is feeling macho about leading a management team that is going to march the new Ireland into health, prosperity and vision an indication of what he thinks about our industrial policy. NESC have written about our industrial policy. Telesis produced a report on the Irish economy and The Economist writes reports on industrial policy. Our industrial policy has not worked. The Taoiseach said that he hopes semi-State bodies will become development corporations. What instructions and allocations have been given to these bodies and what provision is being made for their borrowing needs?

Recently I asked a series of Dáil Questions to establish the nature of the national debt. I asked frankly how much the indebtedness of a number of semi-State bodies was worth to the Irish banking system. In reply to my question I was told that domestic interest paid to banks and other financial institutions was £541 million in 1986; in 1985 £540 million; in 1984 £420 million and in 1983, £368 million. I asked also how much each health board has paid in interest to the different banking systems and I was appalled at the figures I was given. The Housing Finance Agency, the YEA, AnCO, the health boards and the local authorities are all good customers of the Irish banking system. They are paying interest on effectively no risk borrowing.

There was no reference in the Taoiseach's speech to a credit policy which would lead to an investment policy. There is no reference to the credit provisions he might have to make to the semi-State sector to enable them to develop in different ways. Two semi-State bodies under the aegis of the Department of Labour, AnCO — the Industrial Training Authority — and CERT Limited incurred interest charges on loans in the years 1983 to 1986. The total during those years for AnCO was £4,358,158 and for CERT the total was £155,439. There is no reference in the Taoiseach's speech to a credit policy. Where has the fine accountancy brain and the economic genius gone? We are told that we must be happy, optimistic and feel bright and if we meet an unemployed person tell them that the new day is coming. This is like something one would hear at a flower show and it is insulting to the intelligence of people.

Unemployment has been neglected and as a result two societies are being created in exactly the same way as in the North. There is no point in saying that some of the 250,000 people who are unemployed are abusing the system although I am sure an odd few are. There is a crisis in relation to unemployment. With unemployment comes a chain of poverty and deprivation. We have to ask ourselves what the nature of our social policy is. There was a piece of waffle in the Taoiseach's speech in which he said that Fianna Fáil are the grand party who are in favour of productivity and who have a social policy and he referred to the 1930s. We have three choices in relation to social policy — a minimalist social policy like the one in Britain, an insurance social policy or a social policy in which one redistributes. Irish society is deeply unequal and this inequality is being broadened. We are reproducing an unequal society because we have an insurance based system where parents must insure for their children's future education and for illness. If we continue like this we will continue to create two cultures: one based on poverty and unemployment and one based on a battens down for the privileged of what they have. When that happens there will be an effective barrier to participation. These bankrupt economics are cancelling the citizenship rights of half our society.

I thank Deputy Higgins for his co-operation for allowing me the opportunity to speak before 9 p.m. I intend at this stage to make some general references to what has been said tonight. It struck me that Deputy Birmingham, rather than speaking on the topic of the Adjournment Debate and the record of the Government during the past 100 days or so, gave us some kind of apology for Fine Gael's lack-lustre performance during that period. I have heard it said that attack is the best method of defence and Deputy Birmingham's attack tonight seemed to echo that belief — if he attacked enough people rather than turning his attention to the policies and performance of his own party that possibly people would not advert to the very poor performance of Fine Gael over the past 100 days.

Debate adjourned.