Dáil Éireann - Volume 253 - 05 May, 1971
Committee on Finance. - Financial Resolution No. 8: General (Resumed).
Debate resumed on the following motion:
That it is expedient to amend the law relating to customs and inland revenue (including excise) and to make further provision in connection with finance.
—(Minister for Finance.)
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan) Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan)
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): We have just had a long and detailed lecture from the Tánaiste, the deputy leader of the Government, on the evils of inflation, and an appeal by him to the people in general, and to wage earners in particular, for responsible action. In dealing with inflation the  Tánaiste said that it started in this country in about 1963 and got progressively worse until 1970. He dealt with inflation in many countries in the world. There are two matters I should like to deal with in relation to the speech of the Tánaiste.
First of all, I think the Government of the Tánaiste must be the only Government in any country in the world which deliberately started inflation. They started inflation by imposing the turnover tax and immediately after that in 1964, for political reasons, they encouraged the 12 per cent wage increase to restore themselves to political favour which they had lost in the aftermath of the turnover tax. This was on the eve of the by-elections in Kildare and Cork. About that there can be no doubt.
Since then the Government have been in office and they have guided the economy in a stop-go fashion. The people do not know from year to year or, indeed, from month to month how they are to act or what is expected from them. In the light of that type of performance the Tánaiste's lecture and appeal will carry very little weight, I am afraid, with the people. The Government have been adopting a greenred approach to the economy and to wages and increases and finances generally.
On 18th March, 1969, the then Minister for Finance came on television, grim-faced, to warn the people that we were in the throes of a dreadful financial crisis. He appealed for a tightening of the belt and for everybody to act responsibly. I speak subject to correction but I think that is fairly accurate. Within a month of that speech here in this House when the then Minister for Finance was dealing with a Bill making provision for the Agricultural Credit Corporation he seemed to be trying to create an atmosphere in which there was no crisis. I said to him in effect that what he was saying then seemed to be very far removed from what he had said on the 18th March and he let the cat out of the bag. From then on it was: what crisis? no crisis. Of course, we knew that we were then facing a general election  which we had on the 18th June of that year. From that good day until this the people have not known from one month to another what the position was. There was a general election in June and before the end of that year we had another crisis. In 1970 the Taoiseach and his Ministers warned us again about a financial crisis and threatened a wage freeze and price control. They wobbled about that under pressure; they said it would not be an all-out wage freeze, that the 12th round which had been promised would be allowed to be implemented. Under further pressure they gave in completely and said there was no necessity for any kind of wage freeze.
The same Government threatened internment; then there was no internment. In more recent times the Government introduced an employment period order to discontinue unemployment assistance to all single men, the order to apply to all areas throughout the country, urban and rural. Again, they wobbled on that. They said it was a mistake and that it was intended to apply only to rural Ireland. They watered it down further and exempted persons over 50 years of age.
This is the kind of Government the deputy head of which comes into this House and asks the people to act in a responsible and reasonable way and to appreciate what they owe to the country. The only snag about this, in addition to the short history I have given, is that we have a Government which is completely irresponsible. This is a Government that have lost the confidence and respect of the people and yet they send the Tánaiste into this House to ask the people to do what the Government failed to do, namely, to conduct their business in an orderly manner.
This appeal from the Tánaiste brings home the enormity of the crisis we are operating under at the moment. I am not referring to an economic or financial crisis but to something much worse—that the country is trying to operate without a Government. I intended to commence my contribution to this debate under a different heading but the Tánaiste prompted me to commence as I did in order to get down  to realities. Some short time ago the Government party called themselves the party of reality. We are dealing with a Budget of enormous dimensions——
Mr. Kitt Mr. Kitt
Mr. Kitt: Everyone in the country is happy about it.
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan) Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan)
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): They are not even happy with themselves. There is an exhortation to change over to Boland. That used to apply to a change of bread but now it means something more. We are dealing with an enormous Budget where capital services exceed £70 million and other services are in excess of £423 million. This is part of government business which should be treated seriously. It should get very great consideration from the Minister for Finance and the Cabinet. It should be introduced here seriously and debated on both sides of the House in a responsible manner and, more important, the people should see that it is regarded as a serious matter.
The position is that this Budget was framed in an atmosphere that was far from real. The last touches were put on the Budget in the light of Deputy Blaney's speech at Arklow, the contribution of Deputy Paudge Brennan at the same place, and in the light of what effect those speeches might have on the Government party. When the Budget was introduced here the people of the country were not exercising their minds on what was in the Budget or on the effects it would have. They were asking the question when the Taoiseach would dissolve the Dáil.
We have been debating the Budget for the last few days and this debate will continue for some time but when people read the newspapers tomorrow they will not be interested in what the Tánaiste said but in what went on at the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party today. People will be interested to find out if the Whip was removed from Deputy Blaney or Deputy Brennan. They will wonder if those Deputies are expelled from the party, how many more will go with them and, if that happens, will there be a general election? Members of this House should be sensible and reasonable. In this kind  of artificial, unreal atmosphere, how can the people heed the exhortation given to them by the deputy head of a Government that is operating in these conditions?
I am not calling on the Government to hold a general election but if the Taoiseach had decency he would dissolve Dáil Éireann and hold an election. Until the air is cleared and until people are given an opportunity of speaking there is no sense in the Tánaiste coming in here with appeals. The Taoiseach is overworked because, so far as public relations are concerned, he is doing the work of the entire Cabinet but it does not mean a thing until people have been given an opportunity of speaking and until confidence is restored in the Government of this country.
The Tánaiste covered a wide field. When I saw him coming into the House to speak today I hoped he would solve at least one problem for me because there is no man better equipped to solve it. The matter concerns his own Department and the problem arises out of the Budget. The Tánaiste trotted all over Europe and spent a long time on generalities in relation to Ireland but he did not deal at all with pages 32 and 33 of the Budget speech of his colleague, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Colley. It is stated on page 32:
A scheme of compulsory health contributions for the middle income group to ease the burden of health costs on the Exchequer has been under consideration for some time. The Government have been examining the feasibility of such a scheme and they have now decided to introduce legislation for a scheme of health contributions to be payable by insured persons, farmers and other self-employed persons in the middle income group who are entitled to hospital services under the Health Acts. Hospital charges for those paying contributions—at present up to 50p per person per day will be abolished and all hospital services will be available free of charge to contributors from the commencement of the scheme.
The speech goes on in some vague terms to say that a stamp will have to  be paid for by this middle income group, that eventually it will bear some relation to their earnings but for this year it will be a flat rate. It is also stated that legislation will have to be introduced and one gets the impression that it will take a great part of this financial year to get this scheme going. However, we know that for whatever portion of the year it will be in operation the Minister expects to collect £2 million on it.
I would have thought that the Tánaiste should have clarified that position because I believe that it is a confidence trick to take from the State the cost of hospitalising the middle income group and to put it on this middle income group so that the highest earner in that middle income group and the lowest will pay the same contribution.
This is not the comprehensive health scheme which Deputy O'Higgins tried to get the Government to introduce. It dealt only with that for which it is costing ill people ten shillings a day at the moment if they have to go to hospital and does not make any provision whatever for the general medical services. The House should have been made aware of that. Perhaps before the debate is concluded by the Minister for Finance he would find out what exactly this means, whether another Budget will be introduced later in the year, and tell the House and the people about it.
I accused the Government of failing to give this country and its people a lead, and I accused them of wobbling and waffling on various things. I want to point out clearly by way of example what I mean: the way the Government handled the Employment Period Order, 1971. We know that an order was made discontinuing unemployment assistance in respect of every single man in the country, urban and rural.
Mr. Kitt Mr. Kitt
Mr. Kitt: I do not think that is correct.
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan) Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan)
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Originally. Of course, the Government had to make a new order cancelling  the previous one. Do not tell me the Parliamentary Secretary is not aware of that. There were three of them introduced. I will not embarrass the Parliamentary Secretary any more.
Mr. Kitt Mr. Kitt
Mr. Kitt: I do not believe urban people ever came into it.
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan) Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan)
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): Let the Parliamentary Secretary wait for a moment. I am saying that an order was made which applied to every single man between the ages of 18 and 70, whether he resided in urban Ireland or rural Ireland. It was stated by the Minister for Social Welfare that that was a mistake, that is was not intended to apply to urban men but only to rural men. I want to suggest that that simply is not so, because if we look at Vote 47 in the Book of Estimates we will see that under the heading of unemployment assistance there was anticipated a saving of £1,594,000. I want to put it to the Parliamentary Secretary that that is abundant evidence that this was an order that applied to everyone, and I am dealing with this purely as an argument that what the Tánaiste said cannot be accepted.
I say that is conclusive evidence, but in view of the fact that the Parliamentary Secretary has said that it was not intended to apply to urban dwellers I would like to read from a circular that the Department of Social Welfare sent to every social welfare office in this country, and it is time that this was put on record in fairness to the civil servants. It says:
Unemployment Assistance (Employment Period) Order, 1971.
1. Duration and Scope. An Order entitled the Unemployment Assistance (Employment Period) Order, 1971 has been made by the Minister for Social Welfare under section 4 (3) of the Unemployment Assistance Act, 1933 describing the period from Wednesday 14th April, 1971 to Tuesday 16th November, 1971 (both dates included) to be an Employment Period in respect of every man who has no dependant. “Dependant” means a dependant for the purpose of the Unemployment Assistance Acts as described  in paragraph 8 of Leaflet U.A. 19 (July 1970).
I would ask Deputy Kitt to pay particular attention to the next paragraph, the first sentence of which is underlined:
2. The Order differs from past Orders in the fact that it will apply to all areas of the country, urban and rural, without exception. It will thus affect all male applicants without a dependant whether they belong to U.A. Live Register category or to the category of U.A. Smallholders.
Let us hope that that circular which the Minister for Social Welfare sent to the unemployment exchanges or social welfare offices of this country will put an end for all time to the argument that this was a mistake. I am not going into the merits of it. I am only pointing this out as evidence of the way the Government order their business.
The next thing—and it is in relation to the same topic—is that we were told by the Minister for Local Government, Deputy Molloy, and by the Government in general, that the effect of this order being introduced would be eased off in some way by an increase in the local employment scheme grant to be spent in Deputy Kitt's part of the country, in the west of Ireland. For the purpose of this order, my constituency is also being regarded as being in the west of Ireland. That was another afterthought because if we refer to the Book of Estimates, page 66, subhead K, we find that in 1970-71 the allocation for local improvements schemes was £500,000 and for 1971-72 the figure is the same. It was not until I came in here today that I was handed a Supplementary Estimate in respect of the year 1971-72, even though the Budget has not yet been passed, to increase that subhead from £500,000 to £1 million. In other words, the Government copped themselves on under pressure. The real situation was that when this Book of Estimates was printed the intention of the Government was that all single men in the country, whether they be in Dublin or in Caltra——
Mr. Kitt Mr. Kitt
Mr. Kitt: The Deputy is not forgetting his sojourn there.
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan) Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan)
 Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Cavan): ——would be deprived of unemployment assistance and that there would be no increase in the local improvements scheme grant. However, out of disaster sometimes comes merit and I am delighted that one effect of this was to increase the local improvements scheme grant but it was not a voluntary act on the part of the Government.
In the Minister's speech I notice that he thinks things will not be too bad next year if our invisible income increases. By “invisible income” he means tourism. Indeed, the Minister for Transport and Power dealt with the tourist business on a radio programme of Sunday, March 7th and he said: “We are trying to sell peaceful Ireland, the Ireland of tranquillity, which we have here under our jurisdiction.” He was referring to tourism which is one of our most important industries. If we are depending on tourism, as I believe we are, as an important element in improving our economy, it is very important that we maintain a peaceful Ireland, an Ireland of tranquillity, as the Minister for Transport and Power referred to it. However, it is necessary, above all, that we have a Government who would not be attracting adverse attention from potential tourists from all over the world. In this context it must be said that the sort of publicity that we were given last year all over the world and which we are continuing to get because of the way in which the Government have been carrying on or failing to carry on is anything but good for tourism.
While on this topic of tourism and while it might be a hackneyed phrase, I must say that we are pricing ourselves out of the tourist market both in regard to hotels and in regard to the luxuries which tourists desire. It should not be beyond the capacity of the Government to invent a scheme of some kind whereby tourists would get a discount on purchases here. Such a scheme has been in operation in continental countries—at least that was the case up to some years ago and I am not sure whether it has been changed—so that when people purchase goods by means of travellers'  cheques, they get the benefit of the discount. Of course, it might be argued that such a system would be only adding to the bookkeeping complications of the traders of this country but they could not be much worse than they are because of turnover and wholesale taxes and so on.
In so far as our tourist industry is concerned, there are two factors which we should keep very much in mind. One is the image of our island as a whole and, in particular, the image of the part of the island that is under our jurisdiction. The Government have not done much to enhance that image in recent years. Secondly, we should bring into operation a scheme that would ensure value for money for the tourists who come here.
Another matter that is supposed to be affecting very much our economy is borrowing. Of course, there will have to be borrowing because people of this generation cannot pay for everything they want. However, I am against foreign borrowing because foreign borrowing is one of the principal causes of inflation. I think the Minister for Finance agrees on that but he talks about it with his tongue in his cheek because he knows that the Government are borrowing now from abroad on a scale that is unprecedented. Even during the past few months we have seen the passing of a Bill which legalised borrowing from abroad by State-sponsored bodies such as Aer Lingus, CIE, the ESB, the Agricultural Credit Corporation and others. That is not sound practice.
About the same time as the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance appeared on television last year to talk about the economic crisis, the Governor of the Central Bank, Dr. Whitaker, appeared also on a television programme and the main message I got from his speech was the danger of borrowing abroad because he said that this was injecting money into the economy that was not earned and that this was the best way he knew of expediting inflation. The Government, if they are serious, should heed the advice of Dr. Whitaker.
Despite what the Parliamentary Secretary  seems to think, this Budget is not socially just. In respect of income tax in particular, it is unjust. Income tax has become a matter of social justice since the innovation of PAYE because we must remember that most people made their own arrangements in relation to the payment of their income tax until this system was introduced whereas now everybody who is under the PAYE system has to pay the last penny in income tax, and under this Budget the little relief given last year in respect of the first £100 of taxable income was abolished. The general effect of the Budget is that a Minister of State earning £6,000 a year will be called on to pay £11 more this year—without going into detail I fear I took a bad example in citing a Minister because he will not have to pay £11 more this year as compared with last year—but a man earning £10 a week will have to pay the same increase, £11. That is socially unjust. Income tax which is supposed to be a tax on income should be operated equitably by a Budget. The two men will pay vastly different amounts but the net effect of this Budget will be that the single man earning £500 a year will pay marginally less than £12 extra income tax this year while the man earning £6,000 a year will pay only the same increase.
It is long past the time when the personal allowance for income tax purposes should have been adjusted. Despite the fall in the value of money this has stood at the same level for years. Since it was adjusted to any appreciable extent, the figure at which a person becomes liable to sur-tax was increased from £2,500 to £3,750 in one jump and to £4,500 in another. That shows the thinking of the present Government regarding these taxes. That was done on the argument that it was necessary to raise the figure at which sur-tax became payable from £2,500 to £4,500 in order to attract managers from across the water but when we benefited these managerial personnel we also made it easy for many other people, including many in this House. That is the Government's approach to income tax. It is the duty of the Government to be absolutely sure that income tax is just. In regard  to the extra £12 income tax payable this year it is necessary to point out that the retired local government official living on a small pension will have to pay it, the widow on a fixed income will have to pay it. I want to go on record that I consider that sort of taxation unjust and indefensible.
I could continue much longer but the Tánaiste led me off at a tangent and I spent time on that which I intended to spend on other things. The Tánaiste seemed to be advocating a prices and incomes policy. He certainly advocated an incomes policy. Fine Gael advocated that as far back as 1965. When we campaigned on it in that election the Leader of Fianna Fáil said he was against a prices and incomes policy, that if he was in Government he would not operate it and, if in Opposition, would oppose it. These are things that should be said and put on record here because it is this sort of backwards-and-forwards policy that leaves the people not knowing where they stand.
I welcome the increase in the local improvements scheme grants even though it came about by accident, because there are many lanes and jobs of that sort to be done in my constituency. I shall end on this parochial note. I got a letter from Cavan County Council dated 21st January, 1971, in relation to a case in which I was told: “I wish to inform you that we are treating correspondence dated 28th December, 1968, as a request to have this lane listed for improvement under the above scheme.” This is 1971. The letter continued: “However, there are a considerable number of requests on this list and it is unlikely that any progress will be made with your application within the next few years.” Is it any wonder I am glad that grant has been increased? I conclude by saying that it is very difficult, if not impossible, for the people to heed the lecture or to obey the dictates of the Tánaiste in view of the record of himself and his Government.
Mr. Desmond Mr. Desmond
Mr. Desmond: The Budget can be classified as being rather mundane and generally unimaginative and, I should think, a rather careful one; in parts rather adroit, politically somewhat  neutral and by no means a major event in the economic management of the country. It is perhaps easiest summed up in the attitude of the Fianna Fáil backbencher who assures everybody: “We will not lose any votes with this Budget.” I suppose one should take the economic management of the country and the criteria of managing the economy at a slightly higher level. I think the Minister may rest assured that he is not likely to lose many votes but certainly, on the basis of this Budget, he is not very likely to gain many either.
The thanks of the House are due to the staff of the Department of Finance for assisting the Minister and the Cabinet in the production of this Budget. I have just been going through the statement on the introduction of corrective measures and it has struck me that a different atmosphere is generated in the Budget itself. The staff of the Department have managed to bring in a Budget which will not damage the national pay agreement currently in operation. The slightly hysterical anticipation by the Tánaiste of what might happen when future negotiations take place is more likely to do damage than anything contained in the Budget itself. I was surprised the Tánaiste should react in such a manner. It is quite obvious from this Budget that the Government have been preoccupied keeping the party intact instead of trying to advance the economy as a whole.
It is not unfair to suggest that there will be an autumn Budget. For many months now I have felt that the Taoiseach has been aiming at an October election and provided he survives the next few weeks—the indications are that he will—I feel he would like to go to the country before he has another debacle in the RDS or the Mansion House at the next Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis. I do not think he would take that chance again even with Mr. Boland out of the way. I am quite sure he will try to avoid the cheer leaders lined up at six o'clock in the RDS for the Minister. They might grasp the nettle next time and therefore the Taoiseach is preparing for an October election having lost his opportunity to go to the country last year.
Mr. Kitt Mr. Kitt
 Mr. Kitt: It will be too bad for the Deputy if he does.
Mr. Desmond Mr. Desmond
Mr. Desmond: In view of some of the vague comments made by the Minister I think we shall probably have an autumn Budget as well.
I do not share the Minister's opinion that investment aided by a revival in building construction is expected to be well above last year's low level and should lead to a welcome increase in opportunities for employment. Undoubtedly there will be an improvement in the abnormal difficulties which arose in the middle of 1970 but the impact of the cut-back in the current capital expenditure programme of £76 million will certainly prevent any major growth. The Cabinet went through some very traumatic sessions in relation to the reductions in the current capital expenditure programme. I understand Deputy Flanagan walked out of a Cabinet meeting when he discovered that some of his Estimate was being slashed, but he did recover some of the lost money for his Department. We should not underestimate the tensions and the difficulties within the Government in regard to the reduction of £76 million in the current capital expenditure programme. I do not share the optimism of the Minister but I am not prepared to go to a wailing wall as suggested by Deputy Dowling—I shall have something to say about his contribution later on. There is always the danger in Opposition that one can talk the country into a critical situation, in the same way as one can talk oneself out of wage negotiations with an employer, but one has to be reasonably objective in one's approach. I suggest that the Minister's grounds for optimism are not as great as he indicated in the Budget statement.
The OECD Report for March, 1971, prepared without the economists looking over their shoulder to the same extent as the staff in the Department of Finance might have to do in terms of their briefing of the Minister, analyses the present difficulties of our economy more reliably. The report, at page 43, points out very clearly that,
costs have risen faster than on average in many other countries in recent years, and the lowering  of tariffs in the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement has reduced by one-half the tariff protection of domestic industries competing with imports.
The report also said,
Industrial production lost momentum already in the middle of 1969, rather earlier than in most other European countries, although foreign markets and home demand was still rising relatively strongly.
The Minister has been reluctant to come to grips with the need to spell out the problems outlined in the OECD Report. The Minister did deal with the other aspect referred to in the report and I quote:
The performance of industrial exports has so far remained strong, but a further rise in prices would have adverse effects. Moreover, there is evidence that imports have been taking a bigger share of aggregate demand in recent years.
The report is deserving of much greater concern than was evident in the Minister's speech and this is regrettable. I do not share the submission of the Confederation of Irish Industries who assured the Minister that industry was facing a crisis of survival. The industrial situation is becoming much more difficult. I do not agree that the creation of new jobs has been impeded in any way or that the effort to halt emigration has been progressively frustrated. I think the Minister was carried away to some extent in that exercise by his particular ideology. He was, I believe, trying to provide succour for the Fianna Fáil backbenchers rather than for the nation as a whole.
It is a matter of profound regret that the Minister did not give us something more in relation to the EEC than the somewhat bald statement:
The successful conclusion of these negotiations this year should enable our accession to the Community to be made at the beginning of 1973.
We have therefore little more than a year and a half in which to complete our preparations for membership.
 I should have thought the Minister would have identified more with the NIEC reports and the various other reports we have had. There is growing concern about the impact of the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement. The Confederation of Irish Industries could not be accused of being anti-free trade; they have indicated that trade with Britain will continue to expand, but in an unfavourable direction. At times the Confederation of Irish Industries are inclined to deify the concept of free trade, but that is their opinion. The agreement seems to be favouring Britain more than Ireland and Irish manufacturers are suffering in the home market. The Minister should have dealt with that aspect to a greater extent and should have shown a more direct involvement in measures to inhibit the worst impact of that agreement.
Dealing with the control of expenditure, the Minister said:
This aggregate will be divided into block allocations for each service and Ministers will then be free, within broad limits, to decide the detailed subdivision of their allocations.
This innovation was overdue. It should take off the shoulders of the professional civil servants in the Department of Finance functions, responsibilities and cost benefit investigations which they themselves, I believe, feel have been placed on them unnecessarily in certain connections. Block allocations will assist Departments and Departments will, I hope, reach the stage at which they will decide their own detailed expenditure. I also hope that we will at that stage have Ministers in office in the various Departments capable of doing this work. In my opinion, the various political heads at the moment are incapable of deciding detailed expenditure. One could describe some of them as very young old fogeys or very old young fogeys. They are markedly incompetent of dealing with the kind of block allocations proposed. From my experience of Dáil Éireann, limited as it is, and it may be more limited in the future, for that matter, I would have no great confidence in the ability of the current Cabinet to undertake this kind of exercise.
 The Minister referred to the thorny problem of price increases. The social changes in the Budget are there not because of any social conscience on the part of the Government but because of pressures from outside. The one signal merit in the Budget is that it has not attempted to interfere in any way with the national pay agreement. There is grave need to ensure that this agreement runs its full course and is not in any way impeded by Government action.
There are hidden implications in the Budget in relation to social insurance contributions and health service charges which could react against the concept in the agreement. These would hold down inflationary pressures which would militate against the national wage agreement. I welcome the fact that the Budget will not cause any major upheaval in prices.
I support the Minister's decision to press ahead speedily with steps to ensure that non-wage incomes will be subject to the same sort of discipline as wages and salaries. We have been talking about this for the past six years and in the OECD report there is a clear-cut statement at page 38:
There is, therefore, a clear need for policies that reduce and progressively eliminate excessive rises in incomes in order to deal with what is largely a problem of cost push inflation. With this in mind again the NIEC issued a report in 1965 which outlined the possible approach to instituting a prices and incomes policy but progress to date has been slow.
I can exonerate Deputy Colley, Minister for Finance, for part of that period but I suggest to those who held office since 1965 that if action had been taken, action that might in many quarters have been rather unpopular, in relation to non-wage incomes, as outlined by successive reports of the NIEC, a good deal of what Deputy Dowling would call wall wailing on the part of some sectors of the trade union movement would not have been given ammunition.
I welcome the decision now that the present arrangements for price control be reviewed with a view to improving  their effectiveness. I strongly urge that the Minister should implement the proposals of the ICTU. I hope that the Government will spend a bit more time at their Cabinet meetings worrying about the opinion polls of market researchers in relation to Government spending—obviously this has been a major subject of debate in the Cabinet —instead of wondering whether Deputy Gibbons will again resign. He has resigned I think three times in the past 12 months. The Taoiseach keeps minutes at the Cabinet meetings since the last debacle. I suggest that the national prices commission proposed by the congress in relation to price increases should be instituted as quickly as possible because the proposals made by the ICTU were quite comprehensive and detailed. They were responsible proposals. This could make a very considerable contribution to keeping prices under control in so far as they can be kept under control in the current international inflationary situation.
I welcome the decision of the Minister to introduce multi-annual budgeting. I advocated this on a number of occasions in this House. There is nothing particularly novel about it but any kind of novelty these days from the Government is welcome and the decision of the Government to extend the present annual expenditure estimates for a further two years ahead, that is, three years ahead in all, and making provisional allocation in respect of those estimates based on general projections of resources, is welcome. It is a rational decision. It does have, of course, political implications. There is not much point in getting a change of Government in many respects if annual expenditure estimates are more or less decided for two or three years ahead. The only hope is that before the Government bring the concept into formal operation they should be out of power. I do not think that would be very difficult if the Opposition were determined to do it. There should not be any great difficulty in that regard in the months ahead.
Mr. Colley Mr. Colley
Mr. Colley: Hope springs eternal.
Mr. Power Mr. Power
Mr. Power: Whistling in the dark.
Mr. Desmond Mr. Desmond
 Mr. Desmond: I think the day of reckoning is coming. The Minister suggested in his speech that there was an need for rationalising the conciliation and arbitration system. I find myself in agreement with the Minister on this. The Minister presided over joint labour committees on the Labour Court and I was on the trade union side. Since then I think we have accepted that multiplicity within the industrial relations system is undesirable. It is time the four major arbitration boards covering the Civil Service, local authorities, teachers and gardaí and the other boards for the smaller groups were brought in under an expanded Labour Court system. This is a personal view. I have no doubt that after the consultations between the Minister and the public services committee of the ICTU and the other trade unions responsible for the other boards provided the Minister takes the initiative, there could be a major improvement in this field. I am aware of the fact that the staff previously rejected this proposal but I do not think that the concept of the Labour Court having a broader function and a broader overseeing involvement and a broader role generally has been spelled out sufficiently. It is regrettable that successive Ministers for Finance and the Department of Labour have been hesitant and lacking in confidence in taking this kind of exercise by the scruff of the neck and putting it on the table for negotiation, for agreement between themselves and the trade unions. The only man whom I saw able to do that, with due respect to Deputy Colley, was his immediate predecessor. He had this flair whether we liked it or not and if he had continued as Minister for Finance for the lifetime of the current Government he might well have brought it about.
In regard to the proposition in relation to the report of the public services organisation review group, one must again, in conscience, deplore the delay on the part of the Government in not implementing more expeditiously the various proposals made in the Devlin Report. The Minister's progress report is not something which one can be proud of. It lacks urgency. I am conscious that the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Bill, 1971 has  been circulated but it will be next year before we get down to having any real discussion on that and the other aspects of the report. Although this report contains immense difficulties for the Cabinet in terms of the allocation of power and function and negotiations with the public service, nevertheless, with our Budget growing dramatically each year the administrative machinery of the State is becoming more and more rusty, more and more antiquated and unresponsive to the needs in that area.
I am surprised that the Minister is merely hoping to raise £48 million of Exchequer requirements from the banking sector and £25 million from abroad during the current year. The Minister did say that in the past borrowing from the domestic banks was confined almost exclusively to the associated banks but in view of the growth of deposits in the other financial institutions an approach is now being made to the non-associated banks for part of the £48 million. The Minister should be more forthcoming. I should like to know some of the power play that went on in the allied banks and associated banks in recent weeks. It would make a very interesting column in the Financial Times. As public representatives we are entitled to more information than merely vague aspirations by the Minister about raising £48 million. He should indicate if this is merely a pious hope.
I do not entirely share the view expressed by Deputy Fitzpatrick that the Government are unduly preoccupied with foreign borrowing. This is now an essential ingredient of any Exchequer policy, providing the implications are fully recognised by the State. Such foreign borrowing carries responsibilities which were not spelled out in the Minister's speech. There is now a greater recourse to foreign borrowing. Apart from a speech some time ago by Deputy Haughey justifying the need for recourse to foreign borrowing periodically on the part of the State, and by the various State-sponsored organisations, I have not seen any current analysis of the state of the play, if I may call it that, by any Government Minister or by the Taoiseach.
I was very surprised that relatively  few Members of the House were critical —as they should be critical and hypercritical—of the Minister's decision to abandon the reduced rate of tax on the first £100 of taxable income. His decision is to apply the standard rate. That is a deplorable decision. I consider it a most regrettable step. It is quite retrograde. The justification for that decision has not been given to the House in any detail. It is all very well to come into this House and say that everybody will pay £12 a year extra in tax or £1 a month.
Let us put that £12 a year in a different setting. If the Minister said in the Dáil that he was raising the social insurance stamp by 5s a week, there would be a howl of protest but that virtually is what he has done. He is taking a straight 5s a week from the lower and middle income groups. It is all very well to say that there are 650,000 taxpayers and that by virtue of certain changes in the income tax reliefs, that figure will be reduced by 20,000, but there are still 630,000 people who are caught in the tax net. A very large number of relatively poorly paid families are liable for tax. I think £20 or £25 a week is not handsome pay for a person who is rearing a family. Many of these people are liable for tax and they will be paying this £12 a year. The Minister implied that the families in the lower income group will not have to pay it. I do not think that stands up. It is a poll tax. It will bring in £5 million. It was a ridiculous decision.
Deputy Haughey brought in a very welcome change in relation to the first £100 of taxable income. This was a more egalitarian approach, a more supportable approach. I suggest that the vast majority of the lower paid workers will be caught by this new provision. In principle the Government's decision is regrettable and it is to be deplored. That aspect of the Budget has not been dealt with to the extent that it should have been by Opposition spokesmen. It is worthy of very serious consideration by the House.
I want to refer now to a hidden aspect of the Budget in relation to the increases in social insurance benefits. I suspect—and I challenge the Minister  to correct me here and now—that there will be a substantial increase in the social insurance contribution rate next October. There is a tradition in the House that we have it well after the Budget. If my figures are correct there will be an increase of 3s in the stamp in about four months time. I think that decision has already been taken by the Minister for Social Welfare and the Government. This is one of the remaining parts of the Budget which are not in the Budget Statement. In the Minister's speech we had one-third of the Budget. We had the £12 tax provision. We had the increase on spirits. The third that is missing is the social insurance contribution increase which will come but which was not referred to.
Another point that is missing is the increase in insurance rates to cover the health proposals. Would the Minister spell out now how much each insured worker in the so-called middle income group will have to pay for the Government's proposals? The Minister said that the contribution income from the scheme is expected to be about £2 million in the present financial year. I am not quite sure on what date this is due to be brought in, but I would hazard a guess that it will bring in £5 million in a full year. That is a pretty hefty burden to place on a large number of insured workers. I submit that is an aspect of the Budget which many people have not taken into account in their analysis of it. I challenge the Minister very strongly to spell out the implications of his statement on health expenditure and the introduction of a scheme of compulsory health contributions. This is very necessary. Otherwise we are leading industrial workers and the insured population up the garden path.
The Tánaiste waxed eloquent about wage increases and so on. He overstated the position. I have not got the issue of The Economist with me contraining the article on the proposals for an incomes policy. I remember that they advised Mr. Carr to put a 12 months freeze on wages. The Tánaiste pulled up rather quickly and did not go into that territory. Some months  ago The Economist took an entirely different view of the need for an incomes policy. The view of the British Prime Minister is that through sheer misery with 1,000,000 unemployed we will eventually accept his conception of an incomes policy. I do not share that view either.
I want to stress to the House very strongly in relation to wage increases that there has been a quite phenomenal increase in the collection by the State of income tax under PAYE. This should be pointed out. In 1965-66 the tax collected under PAYE amounted to £21.5 million. For 1970-71 the provisional figure is £63.2 million. When workers receive a substantial increase in wages there is a tremendous deduction under the income tax system. I do not particularly object to it provided the income tax system is fair and equitable. I do not think it is equitable and it could be very much improved. The Minister is fortunate that this growth to £63 million has taken place and has saved him from further financial embarrassment. When one recalls that surtax receipts have increased from £2.6 million to £3.8 million in the same period, the relative importance of the £63 million from tax collected under PAYE is appreciated. Perhaps the Minister might acknowledge that where wage increases are given workers do not benefit dramatically in the increased purchasing power given to them. I welcome the decision by the Minister to clamp down on the various tax avoidance devices. This is necessary and is long overdue.
In dealing with the social side of the Budget, I am concerned that it does not reflect any real indication on the part of the Government of any social conscience. It is the greatest example of haphazard, piecemeal planning in which the Government make up their minds as they go along. If deserted wives scream loud enough and long enough they may get something next year. When the widows quite rightly made their case in the past 12 months they got a concession in the Budget. However, the Minister is not reacting very generously to social pressures and he does not deserve the hosanna of  credit he is trying to claim. I would have thought any Minister for Finance would, within the context of his own party's policy, take special care of the deprived sections of the community and those who are disadvantaged. I notice the Taoiseach used the classical social term in his contribution on television recently.
The Budget gives very little indication of any real social concern on the part of the Minister. Therefore, I reject entirely the proposition in the Budget Statement that the Government decided this year to improve the position of widows, deserted wives and dependent children. I do not see anything exceptional in what the Government have done. The provisions are sparse and the House should not be under any illusions about them. For a widow with a contributory pension— provided the regulations are met—she will receive from next October the princely sum of £5 for herself and £2 for two children, a total of £7 or £1 a day. I do not regard this as exceptional in a Christian community which professes tremendous social concern for the family. I wish some of the spotlight which has been devoted to Church/State relations and to family planning practices and so on could be given to the plight of a widow with two children living on £1 per day. From next October this will be her magnificent income. There is also the case of the deserted wife with three young children who must live on £1.05 per day. Having regard to these facts I do not think some of our priorities in terms of social concern measure up to the views that are expressed frequently.
The muddle regarding the unemployment assistance gives some indication of the Government's social thinking. I do not want to dwell on this subject because it has been more than adequately dealt with by Deputies Lenehan and Foley and other members of the Fianna Fáil organisation. I would make one point: it is disgraceful that any Government should, by implication, try to shift the blame to the public service staffs either in the Department of Finance or in the Department of Social Welfare. I am  not privy to what happens at the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meetings or what happens at Cabinet meetings, but some of the attempts to shift blame to people who have neither the privilege nor opportunity of speaking in public is to be regretted and should not be tolerated in the administration of the State. The political heads of Government Departments are there to take the rap. If much less serious events occurred in other western democracies, the Ministers concerned would resign out of sheer personal shame, but in this country there appears to be an abundance of hard neck or, perhaps, an over-endowment of political ignorance. In this country Ministers continue to hold on to their positions and they must accept responsibility for mistakes made.
I suppose the most uncharitable and inhuman advice one could give to a person who is retiring at 65 years is that he would be well advised to die before he is 75 years, particularly if he must depend on a fixed income or on social assistance from the State, assuming that the Government remain in power. This is an aspect which does not show the conscience which Deputy Colley in earlier years was wont to flaunt very vigorously from here to Galway. In former years he would speak in the context of the policy of social development of Fianna Fáil. For a time I personally thought there was a great deal to it and then it dawned on me there could be young fogeys and old fogeys. However, the very minor treatment given by the Review of 1970 and Outlook for 1971 to the social development side of the Budget reflects some of the non-thinking of the Government in this sphere. The report itself said:
During the year interdepartmental examination of the basis appropriate for a comprehensive social development programme continued.
I would like to know something about that interdepartmental examination. The programme certainly continued and seems likely to continue but it does not seem to be producing very much at the moment. There is one statement I welcome:
 The possibility of establishing a system of social indicators is receiving attention in the light of developments taking place abroad in this relatively new area.
It is relatively new in the context of the 1960s because one should not have to search that far if one wants to ask for the social indicators of the various reports to be produced on social development. I have not noticed any marked attempt on the part of the Department of Finance or on the part of the Cabinet to urge, for example, the Economic and Social Research Institute to expand its work dramatically as it should and produce some of the social indicators we need.
One has only to contrast the position in Ireland and in Northern Ireland, for that matter, with that in Great Britain. Certainly in the late 1960s and in the 1970-71 period a great deal more systematic social knowledge has become available in relation to social life in Britain and in Northern Ireland. This information is not available in relation to the Republic and our social programming is very much behind as a result. Throughout the 1960s there was a succession of publications in Britain documenting in very considerable detail facts about contemporary poverty in Britain. It should be possible to produce comparable reports in respect of this country. Some of these reports are from Government sources; others are from other official sources, for instance, the Circumstances of Family Report, the Plowden Report on Educational Deprivation and so on. Some of them came directly from the universities, others from the academic research departments, for example, the Abel Smith Report, the Townsend Report.
Much greater information should be available from State sources to assist Governments and politicians generally in making a breakthrough on the question of poverty in our community. It is about time we stopped the budgetary charade, which is about all it can be called, of providing an extra 50p for the windows, deserted wives and, hey presto, there is an approach towards a solution of poverty. It is a much more  serious problem. The biggest problem facing the country is to make a breakthrough in budgetary thinking and in social thinking on the meaning of poverty and the kind of thinking behind giving an extra 50p to people “to improve their position exceptionally” in the Minister's phrase. Talking in those terms relates to the 1940s or 1950s; it is certainly not talking in terms of the changes that have occurred particularly among the social scientists in Britain, among the socially conscious section of the community in Britain and among the more liberally-minded section of this country. There has been a very considerable change in our concept of poverty and there needs to be a better appreciation of what constitutes poverty in modern society. If we do not get to grips with these problems now I cannot see that anything worthwhile would be achieved by the late 1970s.
A great deal of thinking behind Budgets over the years has been based on the concept of poverty at a subsistence level of the 1900s or certainly of a half-century ago. There is considerable need for a change in attitudes in that regard. I do not wish to speak at undue length but I wish to quote one authority in this connection, Richard Silburn, a lecturer in social science at Nottingham University. On the question of the concept of poverty he says:
What, in practical terms, does this mean? It means, for a start, that when discussing domestic budgeting, one should avoid making a priori judgments as to what is an acceptable outlay and what is not, what is a “rational” expenditure and what is not. In Rowntree's work such arrogance .... is seen at its most wretchedly parsimonious, but even today there is many a mandarine social worker or minor bureaucrat who is not advanced one jot in understanding or generosity. To plead for a more subtle appreciation of spending habits is not new; in 1954 Peter Townsend attacked Rowntree's shopping list and asked “If clothing, money for travel to work and newspapers are considered to be ‘necessities’ in the conventional  sense, why not tea, handkerchiefs, laundry ... cosmetics, hairdressing and shaving, and life insurance payments.” More fundamentally, he suggested that “it may be that spending habits are determined by the conventions of the lowest stratum of society and by economic and social measures ... currently adopted by the community as a whole.
This should indeed be the decision of those who are concerned. He then went on to say, and I agree with him that if Rowntree was prepared to allow a wireless set in the 30s we should be prepared to allow a television set in the 1970s. Therefore I resent very much the cynical attitude of Deputy Dowling when he spoke about what the Government gave. He spoke about the wailing wall. A little bit of wailing does not do any harm at all. Indeed I would remind Deputy Dowling that he seemingly graduated successfully from the life of being a not terribly well paid tradesman in this country to the somewhat better life of being a Fianna Fáil Deputy from the Dublin South-West Constituency and is now I understand a rather well heeled auctioneer living in surburban Dublin. He should be the last to talk——
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle Denis Francis Jones
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: It is not usual to refer personally to Deputies in the House.
Mr. Desmond Mr. Desmond
Mr. Desmond: I shall refrain. I would strongly suggest to the Minister that economic growth by itself cannot resolve the question of real poverty in our community. Even if we had a dynamic economy and technically a highly advanced economy, we would still have major social problems. Economic growth can in some respects lead to greater inequality. In many respects this may seem to be unacceptable but it is the case. We only have to look to America to realise this. Economic growth can lead to greater relative poverty unless we as politicians take a very deliberate decision to direct this growth into the areas of greatest social need. Otherwise, in a free market situation the problem would not be relieved to any great extent.
In an increasingly consumer orientated  economy, in a society in which a large and growing proportion of our population do not necessarily share fully in all the available economic opportunities, we must not have the position at this point of time where widows, orphans, deserted wives and others in our community who are obliged to live on social assistance must look forward to a life which has little but poverty to offer. At Budget time each Member of this House should remind himself of the very obvious material effects of poverty. I do not think any of us here has to suffer the deprivation of continuously saving on our own food budget but I know a number of my constituents who must do this on a regular weekly basis. We do not have to economise systematically on fuel, lighting or heating. Neither do we have painstakingly to try to get a little more use from our clothing or furnishings. It is only when one becomes a public representative that he realises there are many in our society who must do all of these things. As a trade union official I met industrial workers in trade union halls but I did not have to go to their homes. However, since becoming a Dáil Deputy I have been to the homes of men and women who must live on very low incomes, especially those who are in their seventies. I have found among my constituents a life style that is harrowing and rather brutal. This way of life for these people has been perpetuated in this Budget as it has been in previous Budgets. Anybody who must live on only £5 or £6 a week is placed in a position where he will suffer from persistent poverty which slowly will undermine his health and will erode his capacity to take advantage of whatever small opportunities might come the way.
I make no apology to the House for stressing this matter this evening because poverty and a continued low income has a demoralising effect and it becomes extremely difficult for anyone in such circumstances to try to retain his self-respect. The optimism and hope that one has for oneself and one's family is destroyed and the ability to contemplate the future is diminished under the Irish social security system.
Therefore, I submit to the Minister that if in future he wishes to speak,  as he so eloquently spoke in the final part of his speech about the quality of Irish life and the need to raise our standard of living, to have each member of our community contribute in a distinctive way to Irish life and Irish culture, he should start with the very simple quality of life as expressed in the Budget itself. He should recognise the corroding experience of continued poverty.
I shall conclude with some brief comments on some relatively minor aspects of the Budget. The Minister referred to manpower and training and to the allocations given in that regard. I understand that an Estimate for the Department of Labour will be before the House tomorrow. I welcome the decision to give £50,000 towards the industrial training centre at Cork but this is long overdue.
I would urge the Minister to try to improve the benefits to State pensioners. To fix the levels to bring the pensions up to the level appropriate to pay rates of June 1969 was not all that generous and even if the total cost came to £1.35 million in a full year, by and large, it is not as great as it should have been. Certainly, the representations which the Minister received in that regard were more than merited.
Regarding free travel, I welcome the innovation of permitting parents who have children in institutions, be they hospitals or industrial schools or elsewhere, to avail of free travel facilities when they wish to visit their children. I agree that this can be of psychological benefit to the children concerned. Might I make a plea to the Minister— it is a difficult plea because it could be misconstrued—in relation to providing free travel facilities for a limited number of visits by their wives and families to prisoners who may be serving their sentences outside the Dublin area? I recall a family in Dublin who, in my opinion, broke up because the wife could not afford to visit her husband who was serving a long-term sentence in prison away from Dublin. This family was living literally at the poverty level.
If a man, because of his wrongdoing  in society, loses his own personal freedom by being sentenced to prison, I fail to see why the whole family should be punished because they cannot afford to visit him even on a monthly basis. I think the State should help to preserve such tenuous human links between the family. Therefore, I would urge the Minister to extend it and provide that where wives or husbands are in prison families could even, perhaps, travel outside the major urban areas and have an opportunity on a limited basis of visiting them. This would be a welcome and humane innovation.
I urge the Minister to do his utmost in the coming 12 months to introduce, as promised in the annual Review of 1970 and Outlook for 1971, the scheme for pay related disability and unemployment benefit and, generally, to have a sharp look at the whole matter of children's allowances. The current children's allowance scheme which is costing some £18 million per year could be reshaped so as to secure more equitable distribution of that amount of taxpayers' money. We could have a much better system of assisting large families. There are severe anomalies in the present system which could be remedied without great cost to the State and this would mean a great improvement.
I express the wish that the Budget should not be introduced by the present Minister. If there is anything that damages a country or parliamentary democracy and destroys the parliamentary political structure it is a Government too long in office and an Opposition too long in opposition. In this country we suffer very much from that disease. As a nation we have the obligation to provide a real alternative to the present Government with the possibility of introducing a radical social and economic programme capable of broad appeal to the electorate and capable of managing the country much more effectively without the contempt into which the Cabinet and parliamentary institutions have fallen. This is necessary. In the Labour and Fine Gael Parties I think there is sufficient competence and experience and detail of policy available to enable such a change to be brought about.
 We in the Labour Party believe that the State must be used as a much more powerful instrument of economic growth and that our social services must be dramatically overhauled and brought into line with the normal demands of human decency. The basic investment necessary to get our economy off the ground more effectively in the seventies, I suggest, has not yet been made and cannot be made while we suffer from the restriction of a very bad Cabinet, a very third-rate Cabinet, and a Government which seem to be deciding their policy from day to day, depending on when they might decide to have or not have a general election. This is no way to run a country. After a decade of programming we have not even taken the first few steps towards achieving a self-sustaining growth in the economy. We have been trifling with the problem in the past 12 months. The easiest way to end the misery of the present Fianna Fáil Cabinet is to put them out of office.
Mr. J. Lenehan Mr. J. Lenehan
Mr. J. Lenehan: Who is going to put them out?
Mr. Desmond Mr. Desmond
Mr. Desmond: Deputy Lenehan seems to be moving in the right direction.
Mr. J. Lenehan Mr. J. Lenehan
Mr. J. Lenehan: No, no.
Mr. Desmond Mr. Desmond
Mr. Desmond: I would prefer to collect my Green Shield stamps elsewhere and I certainly would not be inclined to give them to the Government at this point in time. While the Taoiseach may hang on to office until next October I think that in conscience he should now put this Budget and the record of his Cabinet to the country. While the Budget has done no great harm it certainly has not brought about any major changes in society. The public servants who drafted it will look after it in the meantime and I think they deserve the thanks of the House. It is the Minister's first Budget. I think it is a rather mediocre one and that about sums up the present Cabinet of the Fianna Fáil Party.
An Ceann Comhairle Cormac Breslin
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Power.
Mr. J. Lenehan Mr. J. Lenehan
 Mr. J. Lenehan: Is an Independent Deputy not entitled to speak at all?
An Ceann Comhairle Cormac Breslin
An Ceann Comhairle: Yes, Independent Deputies are entitled to speak and will be called in due course by the Chair.
Mr. Power Mr. Power
Mr. Power: In the past week I have listened to the Budget row. I confess I must have been indoctrinated somewhat by the prophets of doom opposite because I was a little worried but when I heard the Budget I was extremely pleased. I do not speak as an economist; perhaps that is as well, seeing how longwinded economists can be. I speak as a very ordinary person and I know that my feeling of pleasure at the Budget is shared by the vast majority of the people in my constituency.
Deputy Fitzpatrick said he did not consider the Budget was socially just while Deputy Dr. Browne seemed to think it was a good social Budget. Deputy Desmond does not seem to share Deputy Dr. Browne's views. I listened to Deputy Desmond attentively and I have been asking myself what he thought of the Budget. Having listened to his rambling style, I believe he thinks it was, in fact, a good Budget but he would not give the Minister any credit for that and says that the officials in the Department of Finance who helped to frame the Budget did a very good job. I suppose, coming from a Deputy who is never very prone to embarrass anybody with compliments, we must consider that a compliment Deputy Desmond found time to deal with forecasts and predictions and even with the next Budget. It was a pity he did not tell us what he would have done in the rather remote possibility of his being Minister. I came to the conclusion that if he is as able as he is self-opinionated he would make an excellent Minister. It is a pity we were not given an opportunity to hear his lengthy deliberations and learn what he would have done if he was Minister for Finance.
Last week I looked across the House at the expectant faces of the Opposition, who were licking their lips, waiting to see what the Budget would  unfold but, as the Minister made known the facts in the Budget, I could see nothing but dismay and consternation. They could hardly believe their ears when the Minister presented such a proper and palatable Budget. In their heart of hearts the Opposition know, as I know, that this is an excellent Budget. They will not admit this and they are racking their brains trying to find faults in it.
When the Minister finished his Budget speech I waited for some time to listen to Deputy O'Higgins who said that this was a phoney Budget. I have an uneasy feeling that he said the very same thing last year. He had predetermined what he was going to say and he was rather like the man in the poem who would that his tongue could utter the thoughts that arose in him but he could not say them, instead he said it was a phoney Budget. If we examined it we might find that Deputy O'Higgin's speech was phoney.
We all admit that the Minister had a very tough task but I feel he did his job well. This Budget is a sensible attempt to curb inflation without strangling the economy. It is framed towards keeping prices at their present level and encouraging realistic and sustained growth. The Minister outlined a policy of prices and incomes keeping pace with one another and he has the backing of every fair-minded person on this. Judging by some of the remarks made by Deputy Desmond he also has the backing of some people who are not so fair-minded. This climate in our economy came about last year with the national pay agreement and I am hopeful it will succeed and peg down inflation. We are all aware that we are not out of the wood yet and the goodwill of everyone is needed if we are to succeed.
I welcome the cut-back in Government spending as proof of the Government's earnest in this regard. If we are realistic we must all admit this step had to be taken and I am hopeful that the good example given at the top will be followed down along the line.
Dr. O'Donovan Dr. O'Donovan
Dr. O'Donovan: Where is the cut-back?
Mr. Power Mr. Power
 Mr. Power: Is there not a cut-back in Government spending? The Deputy is the economist; he knows all these things.
Dr. O'Donovan Dr. O'Donovan
Dr. O'Donovan: I can count.
Mr. Power Mr. Power
Mr. Power: The Deputy can count up to 17.
Mr. Desmond Mr. Desmond
Mr. Desmond: There is a cut-back of £76 million.
Dr. O'Donovan Dr. O'Donovan
Dr. O'Donovan: My colleague Deputy Desmond talks the same language as Deputy Power.
Mr. Power Mr. Power
Mr. Power: He talks in the same language. I am not an expert but I am sure I am at liberty to give my own opinions here.
Dr. O'Donovan Dr. O'Donovan
Dr. O'Donovan: Provided the Deputy does not talk about a cut-back when there is an increase of £105 million.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Lemass) Noel T. Lemass
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Lemass): The Deputy must compare it with the previous year.
Dr. O'Donovan Dr. O'Donovan
Dr. O'Donovan: With last year.
Mr. Lemass Mr. Lemass
Mr. Lemass: And the year before.
Dr. O'Donovan Dr. O'Donovan
Dr. O'Donovan: Yes, an increase of £105 million.
Mr. Lemass Mr. Lemass
Mr. Lemass: A 9 per cent increase compared with a 16 per cent increase.
Mr. Power Mr. Power
Mr. Power: There is nobody so blind as he who will not see. The Deputy does not want to see anything. I shall deal with savings, perhaps the Deputy would like to hear about that?
Dr. O'Donovan Dr. O'Donovan
Dr. O'Donovan: Yes.
Mr. Desmond Mr. Desmond
Mr. Desmond: The Deputy is on sounder territory there.
Mr. Power Mr. Power
Mr. Power: I have the notion that as a people we are not very prone to saving. Every effort that can be made should be made to inculcate that habit. The national instalment saving scheme is a good one and it deserves vigorous promotion. Some big employment concerns have saving schemes and workers should be encouraged to take part in these schemes and perhaps a higher interest rate or some other incentive  should be offered for this purpose. The biggest difficulty many people wishing to buy their own house have is to find the down payment for that particular house. If a saving scheme was pursued from the time a person took up employment he would be in a better position to house himself. I commend the Minister on the good rate of interest that is being paid and would ask him to consider broadening the scheme.
With regard to income tax I understand that some people will pay less than £12 a year more and 20,000 people who did pay income tax last year will not pay it this year. Deputy Fitzpatrick said he would like to go on record as being strongly opposed to any increase in income tax, but he did not go so strongly on record in suggesting how he would provide this money if he had to do the job.
With regard to social welfare benefits, Fianna Fáil have again proved their concern for the poorer sections of our community. It is not as much as we should like to do but it is the best we can do and those involved welcome and appreciate it. They know that in each consecutive budget Fianna Fáil will do the best it can for them. It may be said that these increases only offset the increase in the cost of living but those who say that should remember that we in Kildare are firm believers in looking up the form book and, although we have had only two opportunities in my memory to judge the social conscience of the Opposition, we saw that being unburdened to the tune of 10d per year and the poor and needy of the community were sold out for 30 pieces of copper. That seemed to absolve them from their duty to the poor during their three years in office.
I welcome the increases in pensions to widows and deserted wives. We have found £3.1 million extra for social welfare benefits and £½ million has been provided for the needy and unfortunate who might lose their unemployment assistance. I approve whole-heartedly of the recent Employment Period Order which was needed. If we were a party out to buy votes we would not have brought it in. I am confident we are prepared to be judged on that issue if need be.
 I welcome particularly the £½ million made available for local improvement schemes but much of this may be channelled towards the west. This is something we should follow up annually. From my experience the people who avail of local improvements schemes in my particular area are usually rural dwellers in bad laneways who want to get their laneways brought up to a standard and taken over by the county council. This work has been going ahead for a number of years and we have now reached the stage where only the awkward ones are left. A special grant is needed to deal with this and I believe everybody, whether he lives in the west or the east, is entitled to a decent road to his house. I am sure it is hard for people in urban constituencies to realise the hardship, but it is a hardship on school children and old alike every day when they travel along these inferior roads. There are not many in my own constituency now, but any that there are have my sympathy and I hope a bigger grant will be made available to them in future.
Free travel for the parents of a sick or retarded child, where there is hardship, in order to allow them to visit that child in whatever institution the child is in, is very humane, very necessary and very good. I am glad that Deputy Dr. O'Connell sees eye to eye with the Minister on that and has complimented him on it. I am sure we should compliment Deputy Dr. O'Connell on his honesty.
The increases given to the farmers are very welcome. The criticism levelled by the Opposition has been, as usual, biased and ill-informed. To illustrate this I should like to quote what Deputy Begley said at column 898 of volume 253 of the Official Report when dealing with the price of milk:
The increase of one old penny in the price of milk is an insult to the dairy farmers and the Minister should be ashamed of himself in this regard. Already members of the ICMSA have refused to tax their motor cars and it is not difficult to foresee that this campaign will be stepped up. It will be only a matter  of days until the farmers are on the streets again. In their statement this morning, the NFA are gravely disappointed in the increases given to the farmers. Perhaps the Minister is not aware that he is sitting on a time bomb, a time bomb that is ready to explode on the streets.
Nothing could better illustrate how ill-informed Deputy Begley is than that little contribution. The no tax campaign is now over. It was probably over by the time Deputy Begley's utterances appeared in print. To me his speech is nothing less than an incitement to unlawful action. Perhaps it was motivated by wishful thinking, but it indicates how far removed Deputies like Deputy Begley are from the ordinary man in the street, or in the field, as the case may be. More and more the farmers are realising that their true friend through thick and thin is Fianna Fáil.
The Minister dealt with sheep production. I am glad of the increased subsidy of £2 for the hogget ewe. It is a pity sheep numbers should have been allowed to decline. There is a great future for sheep in Europe. We should try to cultivate a taste for mutton and lamb on the Continent. This would pay a dividend ultimately. I would ask the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries to broaden the basis of the mountain lamb subsidy and to extend it.
The small farm incentive bonus scheme has not been very widely availed of, but, to my knowledge, where it has been availed of it has proved very beneficial. This year, there is an increased bonus for the first year. This may bring more people into the scheme. We should encourage others to avail of the scheme and extend it to those with a higher valuation or a bigger acreage. I am personally aware of the excellent results of the scheme. The targets set were exceeded long before the deadline. Now that farmers are more receptive to advice and to educated suggestions this scheme will be very beneficial to them if it is properly pursued.
Liquid milk suppliers to Dublin have got a small increase. They deserve it and they need it. I welcome this and I compliment the Minister for Finance and his colleague, the Minister for  Agriculture and Fisheries, on their work for the farmers. I assure the Minister that his help is appreciated.
With regard to the value added tax there is one problem I should like resolved. There was a demand for this tax in certain quarters. To illustrate the problem I will give the Minister an example: A farmer buys a calf for £40 and sells it as a bullock for £70; the buyer holds on to it until it is worth £100. When it is sold through the mart at that stage are we to assume that £5.26 will be added to it? If that is what will happen I believe the buyer will tailor his bid to include that in the value of the beast and the seller may lose out. I know the farmer will have to get an opportunity of getting that back, but I should like the Minister to clarify that particular point.
Listening to the Opposition speakers, I have been struck by the inconsistency of the case they make against the Budget. Deputy Begley seemed very concerned about the working man. He mentioned the increases in foodstuffs, clothing, entertainment and drink. I took note of his four priorities. I noticed, too, that in the “dole” debate he was worried about the bachelor deprived of the dole and what he would do for a drink or a night out. You will get very few in my constituency who share Deputy Begley's views. I spoke to a barman here in Dublin and he told me he has not heard one complaint from anybody concerning the increase in the price of drink. Deputy Begley felt that a little extra in the price of cigarettes would be a good idea to give something extra to social welfare recipients. I am not an economist, but there is some theory about diminishing returns and, if we put a little more tax on, we might get a little less in return. This kind of argument is indicative of the Opposition's approach generally to this Budget.
Speaking as a pioneer, I know the increase in the price of drink is accepted. Deputy Dr. O'Connell said it would do untold harm to the tourist industry. I believe he is completely wrong in that. The increase has been accepted without a murmur and I am confident it will not make one bit of difference. Every bar, lounge and  otherwise, is pretty full at all times. It is obvious the increase can be afforded. I believe there is a built-in margin of profit in the increase from the publican's point of view and judging by the figures quoted to me I am inclined to think the margin of profit may not be enough.
One of the things that have struck me very forcibly since I came in here is the propaganda from the Opposition benches. Nothing is likely to do more harm to our country, our tourist industry and to everything we value than this harmful propaganda. The Government are blamed for the decline in tourism. We are constantly being told about the drift to anarchy, about low standards in high places, pricing ourselves out of the market, and so on and so forth. We have all these doleful predictions. Deputy Fitzpatrick said this evening that we are pricing ourselves out of the tourist market. That kind of propaganda will not encourage anyone to come here on holiday. Indeed, we would need to spend a considerable sum on promotional propaganda to counteract these misguided and ill-founded criticisms made here. The prophets of doom forecast a 40 per cent decrease in bookings this year compared with last year. Where, I wonder, did they get that figure? I do not have access to every hotelier in Kildare but I am friendly with quite a few and I am assured by them that bookings this year are better than they were last year. It would be better if the Jonahs on the Opposition benches, who feel compelled to speak at all times, irrespective of whether or not they have anything to say, could be muzzled now and again; that would be the best thing that could happen for our economy.
Under Fianna Fáil this country has gone far. Great progress has been made and I am convinced that with Fianna Fáil at the helm it will continue to prosper and go even further. The people are aware that we are a party that will do our duty even if it is an unpleasant duty and that they can rely on Fianna Fáil not to run away from their responsibilities. I shall not labour that. I compliment the Minister. He has done very well. Even the Opposition will grudgingly admit this. I am confident  too that whenever we face the electorate they will reaffirm their trust in our party.
The Opposition predictions and thoughts seem to be very much centred on a general election. Certain Deputies over there were very concerned that this Budget might be a Budget for the road or a Budget contrived to knock at the door. I believe that it is a Budget for the road of continued prosperity and it is a Budget with which to knock on the door of Europe.
Mr. L. Burke Mr. L. Burke
Mr. L. Burke: Much has been said about the Budget since last Wednesday but the one point that has to be repeated day after day is that the Government have made this a political Budget for their own ends. The Minister has enabled the Taoiseach to keep his options open if he decides to test the acceptability of his Government by the people. Yet again is the population being misguided and fooled for the sectional interest of the Fianna Fáil Party. For months the prophets of doom had a field day. Massive deficits were forecast. There are massive deficits but where are they? As usual they are swept under the carpet. This is a Fianna Fáil Budget not a Budget in the interests of the Country. The waving of the magic wand, a mild Budget by the Minister, seems to be Fianna Fáil's answer to the country's economic problems and headaches. The economic problems facing the country and the taxpayers are too great for us to be able to afford the luxury of avoiding positive, intelligent and far-thinking decisions on matters affecting our economy.
The Minister has been loud and clear in his praise for the national wage agreement. He has exorted everyone to see that the spirit of that agreement lives and by this to allow breathing space for the economy to move forward again and increase the real earnings of the worker. But is the Minister sincere? In spite of the noise about price increases since Decimal Day the prices of essential commodities have risen from 5 to 7½ per cent since February last and the standard of living of our less-fortunate citizens has fallen. No wages and salary policy will  stand the test of time without a prices policy. Did the Minister attack these increases? Definitely no. He had the gall in his Budget further to increase taxation. Who suffers? The working man, the so-called friend of Fianna Fáil, the man who goes out every night and drinks his pint of stout which is now costing him is 6d per pint, for every pint he drinks, in taxation. A pint is one thing but it becomes a problem when taxation is endangering the jobs of workers. What will Guinness's future policy be? All we have to do is to ask the workers. In my constituency in Cork what will the future be of the workers in Murphy's Brewery or in Beamish's Brewery?
The pint is one thing but bread and butter issues are another. The Minister for Finance conceded allowances on the first £100 taxable income last year. This year these allowances are withdrawn. The working man pays the full rate on every £ he earns. It now works out that a single man earning £9 weekly will be saved the grand sum of 11 new pence while a married man will be relieved by the same amount if he earns £14 a week.
People who are au fait with the subject will deal with the effects of corporation profits taxation and the tax charge on companies profits. How do we expect the companies to provide for the future when our Government are crippling them with taxation and taking money which should be used for modernisation and preparation for the EEC and the competition facing us when all our tariff and protection walls are down? The short term strategy used by the Minister to raise taxation receipts by this means is foolish and something for which this poor country of ours will pay very dearly in the future.
Business and industry thrive on investment. The Minister is discouraging investment and should repeal these proposals. The day is not far off when because of the heavy burden of national and local taxation the people of this country will cry halt. In typical Fianna Fáil fashion and following on its record  of first performance Budgetwise the people can expect not alone another Budget but as well various departmental financial proposals in the form of mini-budgets. The all-embracing reliance and confidence of the Minister in that magical phrase of his “buoyancy of revenue expectations” is one which the Minister already realises is unrealistic. Certainly the Taoiseach recently in Cork speaking on the Budget outlook did not have such rosy prospects. He did not speak here as he did there because he did not want to embarrass his Minister for Finance.
This Budget is trying in some way to compromise for the present revolt within the Fianna Fáil Party. When the Taoiseach spoke here quite recently he said that industry had now become export-orientated and that our manufactured products were being sold on five continents. How has his Minister for Finance in this Budget encouraged this effort? He did not give the slightest relief to this group of industrialists. In fact by raising various State interest rates he has further discouraged investment here or efforts to provide financial backing for further expansion.
I suppose we must congratulate the Fianna Fáil Government on at least seeing the merit of Fine Gael's longstanding proposals on health insurance. They have only taken a weak, faltering and uncertain step in the direction which we pointed out but even so we welcome it. Can anyone believe that a Government who so bungled their approaches to the social assistance scheme that it has led to such divisions and withdrawals are capable of correctly assessing any situation, social or economic? There is so much dissention within the party and amongst the Members of the Government that weak government is inevitable. Lack of decision is rife and a tottering leadership, assailed from many sides within the party, is slowly learning that to govern needs firmness and decision-making, and dedicated determination to carry out decisions when the national interest demands priority over party expediency.
The Fianna Fáil Government are afraid to take up the challenge and test  their feelings with an election. In spite of holding on to power the Fianna Fáil Party are doomed. The day is not far off when they will have an opportunity to settle their squabbles and domestic battles here on these Opposition benches, when Deputy Liam Cosgrave and a Fine Gael Government will be over there as the next Government of this country.
Mr. J. Lenehan Mr. J. Lenehan
Mr. J. Lenehan: It will be doomsday though. If anyone thinks I intend to launch an attack on the Government or something like that, let me tell them that I do not. Independent Members of this House are entitled to have their say like anybody else. I do not agree with the last speaker. I do not think there is a hope in hell of defeating the Government. I want to say here quite publicly that, as long as they carry out policies which are beneficial to the people I represent, I will support them as usual. I could not imagine anything in their place except a mixum-gatherum like the one we had in 1948. At that time I saw them putting two men into a room with another man to try to get him to vote a certain way. It did not work.
I will not launch any attack on the Government. I do not regard this as a Budget at all. I have often heard about cookery books but this is nothing but “bookery cooking”. It is the same old Budget that was brought in here back in 1924. It has been going around in circles from that day to this without any great change one way or the other. It is like an old ship that was out in the first world war and which has been painted every year since—sometimes twice a year. It is completely and entirely out of date and unfit to meet the requirements of the present day. That is the type of Budget we have. Why a Minister for Finance in this day and age has not got enough sense to come in here with a modern Budget geared to meet the requirements of the present age I do not know. I fail to see why that cannot be done.
We hear talk about balancing Budgets. That is only a joke. Nobody knows whether they are balanced. Even the Committee of Public Accounts do not seem to know anything. They do  not know whether or not it is balanced. In 1931, or around that time, the Yanks had a brainwave. They decided that they would never balance a Budget and, from that day to this, they never looked back. The imbalance is greater than the amount of money they spend and still they are the greatest nation on earth. I do not agree with this nonsense about balancing Budgets. I am an accountant and I know what I am talking about. I laugh when I think of anybody coming in here and talking about balancing the Budget in 1971. I do not believe anyone knows whether it is balanced. The type of figures handed out to us are drivel generally speaking.
I cannot understand why over the past 49 years or so, no Government have been able to produce a Minister for Finance who was in some way imaginative and constructive. Each Minister has just pursued the same stupid, silly, backwardinglooking policy. That goes for all Governments. It does not apply to this Government any more than to any Government before them. They are equally bad. I would have expected the present Minister to have been a great deal more imaginative than he was, and to have produced something which would have given a kick up to the economy and tried to put us on our feet. Instead of that he has produced the same old unimaginative dose of tripe. As I said, it is like an old ship that has got a coat or two of paint each year since 1924 and that is a long time ago. We got the same old daftness and the same old codology.
We are told that allowance was made for the old age pensioners. What type of allowance is made for them? They get 10s or 50 new pence. The Minister could well afford it having taken £3 6s from their sons. There was not much trouble in giving 10s there, was there? He has taken it six times over with the other hand. It is as simple as that. I do not accept that this is the proper type of Budget. As a matter of fact, at the moment we are committing economic suicide because of the fact that we have not got people here who have the ability to look forward. We are talking about  going into Europe. There is not the slightest doubt about it that if we went into Europe today we would be instantly engulfed, smothered and strangled. Even if we brought with us the best life-belt we could produce, we would still go down because we have not got a clue. We are completely out of touch with the European set up. We have no imagination whatsoever.
Our social services are about 50 years behind those in Europe, and 50 years behind those of most countries except an ignorant country like the United States where there are no social services. We are blowing and boasting and talking about bringing in the North and bringing it in the easy way. Would the people in the North be daft enough to come in here? They would want to be lunatics. No matter how they fight I think that is attributable to a militant spirit rather than lunacy. There are far fewer lunatics in asylums in the North than in the South. They would not come in. There is no danger of their coming in until we put our social services in order and, until we straighten out our own accounts, we cannot expect them to come in with us.
When we go into Europe, where do we go from there? I do not know. I can well believe that if we went into Europe at this moment that would be the end of us once and for all. I was forced to learn Latin and Greek. I am probably one of the few people in this House holding honours degrees in Latin, Greek, Irish, English and Maths. I do. These subjects were forced down our necks. It would be very interesting to know today what use Latin and Greek are to me or to anybody I represent. Yet we still have schools which failed to march with the times and still expect people to learn Latin and Greek just because they think they will become monks or nuns or priests. I do not know what they will become, but I will not be one of them anyway.
It is time and past time we wakened up. It is time the people of this country got control of their own institutions instead of a selective clientele having  charge of them as is happening at the moment. Our secondary schools must be amongst the greatest fiascos in the world. Our vocational schools are a step ahead because they are democratically controlled. As for our national schools they descended to the category of a joke long ago. Anybody who leaves the control of a national school to an individual who might not on some occasion know his own religion, never mind anything else, is stupid. These schools should be controlled by the public. It is well past the time when action must be taken to have the necessary change made.
I got into trouble here last week— I want to be quite clear on this—for voting against the Government. If a man votes one way for ten years I believe it is accepted that he has no mind of his own, and probably no brain. I am not one of those people. I have a mind of my own and I can assure the House that I will make up my mind in my own way. Nobody ever thought that I would vote as I did. John Healy said “That is the first man elected next time” but I do not know if I shall be going forward for election. However, after travelling the country in the past week I know that I could easily be the first person elected next time.
As a result of my intervention certain action was taken. I had asked that people in the Gaeltacht areas and in poor areas plus those over 60 years, be left on the dole. It was decided by the Government that they would leave it to the people over 50 years of age plus people on the islands. According to the Government, Valentia and Achill are islands; the Mullet peninsula is not an island. I would point out that Valentia is connected with the mainland, not by a Bailey bridge which is a doubtful structure, but by a sound Blaney bridge. If Valentia and Achill are classed as islands then the Mullet peninsula must be an island. There is nothing connecting the Mullet peninsula with Belmullet except sticks and rubbish.
We cannot have it both ways. There must be some kind of honesty in the country. The finest bridge in Ireland connects Valentia with the mainland and the finest bridge in Mayo connects  Achill with the mainland. I am not begrudging these people these rights but I cannot stand idly by and see my own people being deprived of their money.
It is a funny thing that the Government can come along and take £1 million from poor people who are unemployed in order to give it to the big midland farmers who should be able to provide their own livelihood. Surely in the midlands the farms should keep the people? Where I live the people have to keep the farms; it is a different set-up entirely. The money was taken from my people and given to the rich farmers in the midlands and this is most unfair. I think that any Government that adopts this course are committing political hara-kiri.
I had a letter from the Minister for Finance in which he said “It is difficult to get work in the city and urban areas but there is plenty of work in the western areas”. I have a question down to the Minister next week asking him the places at which this work is available for the people of the west. The Minister will have a job to answer that question because there is no work in the west. The Government should have had some commonsense because the amount of money involved was very small. The fact that the president of the NFA and a few bishops came along and pressed the Minister and the Government to withhold the dole from the people was no reason to do this. I can assure the House that some of the bishops are sorry now for their action because they can see the parish priests' collections dwindling quite considerably. Some of the people who shouted for the elimination of the dole, including some of the Ballina publicans and so on, have got a shock because they know how many people are going into their pubs now.
It was a stupid action. In 1932 Cumann na nGaedheal took 1s off the old age pensions and they never returned to this House with power on their own. At this moment £3 6s has been taken from our people and when the Government go to the polls they will not return either. This Government have always claimed to be the poor man's Government. I suppose that is true: as long as they are here they  will have a very good following because everyone will be poor. How the Government cannot realise what they have done I do not know.
We have the workers in the west but we have no industries. Nowadays men are brought down to Cork but the funny thing is that as fast as one factory is opened four are closed. Who gets the money? There are more than 100 hotels for sale at the moment. What will happen to the money that has been paid to these playboys for the hotels by way of grants? Will the amounts be repaid? It appears we have no control over these people. It is my belief that that money has been thrown away. I remember negotiating a colossal grant for a man and it might as well have been thrown into the tide. The person concerned erected a hotel and any time I was there there was nobody in the place.
Everyone knows I do not agree with Fine Gael, I left them a long time ago. One of the first things any Government in this country should do if they want the west to survive is to put people into the west. According to history there would not be anyone there but for Cromwell. It would be very useful if he could come back a second time and put some more people there instead of having them running east as they are doing. Nothing has been done for the west. Subsidies should be granted, particularly for transport, in order to enable the west to compete with the east. There is a great deal of difference between shipping a consignment of goods from County Louth and shipping them from Belmullet.
A great deal of nonsense has been talked about the EEC. If we go into the EEC the only people who will gain will be the big farmers from the midlands, those with 150 or 200 bullocks. They will gain for the first year anyway, but I do not know how they will fare afterwards. It is of no advantage to the man down in the west who has three or four cattle, and whose sons, perhaps, are working in England. It will mean that his sons will have to move on to Germany or Switzerland instead of working in England from where they can come home now and again if they wish.
 No one knows what will be the ultimate results of joining the Common Market. However, I do not think we will get in. The British will not be daft enough to enter, and if they do not go in, needless to say we will not either. If we do go in, what will happen to our fisheries? Along the coasts of Europe today there is hardly a fish left. Since the time I reported the “bucks” who were selling the brandy, the foreign trawlers disappeared from the west coast, but they will be back again if we go into the Common Market and will start the same racket. Our fisheries will be wiped out and every man on the west coast will have to leave the country. How will the people of Erris, where there are the best fishing grounds in Europe, survive if the EEC fisheries policy is implemented? We know what the Dutch can do with their boats. I served my time in the fishing industry and I know all about it, having been working even in Billingsgate. If we go into the Common Market someone must draw the line somewhere and say: “So far and no further”. As it stands although foreign trawlers cannot come in past the 12-mile limit, they could still wipe out our fishing industry.
This is a great nation for schemes. It reminds me of the man who came from America and who asked his brother how he managed to have a hayshed and other buildings erected and the reply was: “I got them under the scheme”. The man then said: “You are the greatest nation of schemers under the sun.” That is about all we have, a plethora of schemes all orientated towards the rich man. If a man in the midlands wants to build a garage he gets a grant for building a hayshed or two, and then turns the buildings into a garage. The man down in the west cannot afford to put up a big enough hayshed. He has to wait until his son grows up and gets a second grant and uses some other excuse. This is happening across the land and Government money is being spent frivolously and wrongly. It is being given to the rich instead of to the poor. It is like a refund on my income tax which was  credited to me when I was anxious to get the money back.
The sooner the Government change their methods the better. About the most despicable organisation ever set up is Gaeltarra Éireann. They amalgamate themselves with everything under the sun. They went in with Ambler up in Donegal and the factory closed after a week; then it opened again under some other auspices. Now they are to be given accommodation of another £4 million. Will they spend any of that in Mayo or Kerry? I doubt it. The only factory they set up in my part of the country they succeeded in getting it burned when they could not do anything else with it.
I have spent two years over on those benches with my mouth shut to a great extent. Now I can talk for as long as I like. It is very hard for a man from the west to put up with what these people have done. They obviously think we do not have to live at all. They are well paid and can have a good laugh but we must stand idly by and tolerate this type of thing. I do not wish to detain the House much longer. I know that, since it is getting late, I shall not get much yardage in the papers but before I conclude I must refer to yet another scheme—the small farms incentive bonus scheme. This must have been one of the funniest schemes ever devised in Europe. Can anybody imagine a small farmer keeping accounts? Even if he were to keep them, he would find that the income tax people would be after him. They have been after me for years for income tax. I remember the day when I saw a fellow in Dublin who sent me to another in Castlebar and he asked me where were my accounts to which I replied that I keep them on the cuffs of my shirt so that when the shirt is washed at Christmas, that is the end of the accounts. He asked me if they were the type of accounts I kept and I replied that they were. He said he could not do much for me in those circumstances and I told him that that was exactly as I expected. It is a joke to expect small farmers to keep accounts. This would only turn them against agriculture. If I had to keep accounts in my business I would never find time to be here. I would ask that that scheme be  changed completely. I admit there must be some type of inspection before money is granted but an unfortunate man should not be expected to keep accounts. He may not even be able to write or his wife may not be able to write. God knows not even the youngsters of today can write—mine cannot anyway.
The stage has now been reached when Guinnesses are prepared to produce their stout in England and export it back here. They say they can do this for less than the cost of producing and selling it here. This is a sorry state of affairs. We have taxed ourselves practically out of existence. In Mayo, the rate is £7.15 in the £. Nobody can afford to pay such a rate today. I know of a man who extended his hotel and who now finds that his rates are £1,500. How long will it take him to take in that amount let alone to make that amount in profit? There appears to be nobody who is prepared to call a halt to all this madness but somebody will have to call a halt to it one of these days because if we continue on those lines, we shall end up in a very sorry mess indeed.
We have many red-ink millionaires in this country and we have the fly-by-nights. Businesses are closing down all over the country. There must be a very good reason for these closures. If hotels that were built two years ago were put up for sale now I do not think they would attract one-third of what they cost to erect even two years ago. In fact, hotels that were built two years ago are now closing down. It is time the Minister for Finance woke up to this situation and took some steps to ensure that those of us who are in Ireland can live here and that it will not be necessary for us to emigrate as the unfortunate man from Erris or Achill must do now since the dole has been taken from him. If they want to get rid of us, they could not have found a better way of doing so. However, we are a fighting people in our part of the country who are well able to fight back and so long as there is life left in us and so long as the spirit of God continues to be with us, no Government, whether it be Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour or any other  will succeed in putting us out of the west.
Dr. Gibbons Dr. Gibbons
Dr. Gibbons: If, as Deputy Lenehan said, he will get very little space in the papers at this time of night, I am sure my contribution will get even less. It is almost a challenge to follow Deputy Lenehan on the subject on which he has been speaking. Arising out of the Budget and out of what has gone on in the House during the past few weeks, I have given some thought to this question of the dole as it is popularly referred to.
I agree wholeheartedly with the thesis of Deputy Lenehan when he states that those people with big farms should be well able to support themselves and their families without getting this tremendous support from the State and that there is nothing out of place with giving financial support to farmers in the west. It is no secret that there is a vast difference of opinion as to how this should be done. Various incentives have been given to farmers throughout the country but the man with the larger farm gets the larger portion of these incentives. By unemployment assistance, the small farmer had an advantage over the larger farmer and this served a very good purpose in enabling farmers in the west to stay on their farms who otherwise would not be able to do so.
However, it was lacking in that it did not seem to be productive. In fact, some years ago it seemed to be the opposite and for this reason the Government changed the system of estimating the means of those who applied. Both in the House and outside it we should ask ourselves what would be the best method of distributing money such as this. Those people who are entitled to unemployment assistance can be divided into several categories; there are the rural people and the urban people, the married people and the single people, the people who are under 50 and the people who are more than 50, the people who are able to work and the people who are not able to work.
In approaching this problem in a proper way, the first thing to do would be to ensure that an effort be made  to separate those who are unable to work from those who are able to work and to give the Department of Health the responsibility of looking after those who are not able to work. Those who are able to work should be treated in a different manner. In these days we hear much about decentralisation of authority and about the development of committees. As an experiment, the Government should ask that five or six communities be nominated throughout the State and then ask these communities to take over the administration of some scheme whereby money that is given out now as unemployment assistance could be used usefully. If the scheme is operated through Government Departments the administration costs will be so high that the large amount of money will be gobbled up in administration costs as has happened so often in the past, whereas if the administration could be done by the community the administration costs would be very little and the result would be an advantage to the community. I have in mind a town that would enter for the tidy town competition, for example. They may have a derelict site or some awkward spot they want improved; things should be so organised that they can go to the employment exchange and ask for two, three or four men who are drawing unemployment assistance and get them for two or three days to work on this particular job. There are many other ways it could be used such as for painting or whitewashing places around the town.
Deputy Lenehan felt he was at a disadvantage in that his peninsula was not an island and he said that there was nothing between it and being an island but dirt and sticks. He and his local committee could get people to remove the dirt and sticks and thereby have the island he wants to establish to present to the Department of Social Welfare. In this way you would get productive use of the money. There may be objections to this. It has been suggested that somebody could be injured and it was asked what would happen to him. It cannot be impossible to find some way of making a contribution to the  Occupational Injuries Fund to cover such people. I know many villages and towns that could avail of this kind of help. There are many little jobs that can be done to help the community but the county council have no money available for them and neither has the State for these purposes. These jobs are left undone and the community and the place are the worse. It would not take great administrative ingenuity to accomplish this. This eases the problem of the urban worker benefiting by unemployment assistance.
In most cases the rural recipient is a farmer owning a certain amount of land. It must be accepted as a pity that this money is not diverted into some productive use on the land. I am not one of those who is prepared to tell anybody that I have a solution for the small farmers: I do not see any solution for them as they are working at present. There are some solutions: you can give them more land and make them big farmers; or give them more money; you can do it under such a scheme as unemployment assistance. You can provide them more land and make them big some time they cease to be farmers with jobs and become industrial workers with land. A fourth possibility, which I think is the only answer to the small farmers problem, is intensive use of land. Unfortunately, so many small farmers and even big farmers have not the skill to use the land in this way and there is much land in different parts of the country which cannot be used for intensive production.
Deputy Lenehan did not think highly of the farm incentive bonus but I think this is an excellent scheme and should be encouraged. I am glad the Minister took the opportunity in the Budget to develop it. Basically, this scheme says that a farmer with a valuation of £25 should be capable of producing an income of £750 per annum, about £30 per £1 valuation. Some smaller farms are also expected to give this production so that those farms would have a higher production per £1 valuation. I have always thought that if this scheme is working properly and is a success the Government must accept the duty of doing more for the smaller farmer. Having given some  thought to this, my suggestion is something like this: take a farmer with £10 valuation: under the Social Welfare code he would be deemed to have an income of £200 or, under the farm incentive scheme, roughly £300. Straight away, he would be £450 short of the income of £750 which the State think should be the minimum to keep anybody on the land. This scheme has been criticised by people who say that £750 is too high but I have always argued that I was glad the State decided on £750 because it indicated the minimum the State thought should be necessary to keep a man and his family on a farm.
To return to my point about making up the discrepancy of £450 I believe the method by which money should be distributed to those people is that the State would decide that this man should get as much money as would bring him up to £750 and this should be so distributed to him that he would use it productively on his land. There are many ways in which this can be done: it can be suggested to him to drain his land or to put out extra fertiliser. Having done this and improved the carrying capacity of the land, he may need more stock in the next year and it can be decided that he will get an extra cow or two extra sheep or he can be invited to go into pigs. At present the grants may not be sufficient to induce him to go into pigs but if this is added as an extra incentive, he may do so or he may be tempted to go into more intensive growing of vegetables. I believe where people have the skill and where the land is suitable this would provide a tremendous outlet especially when one learns that in Galway a retailer must go to Dublin to buy the vegetables he sells at home; he cannot get them nearer.
All this would require new legislation but I think it should be done. By doing it we fulfil many good purposes. We make a more viable living available to people on small farms and we make this living available in a way in which they would have more pride in living and in using their money. I do not agree with the argument that a man has not money to go into a public house because  he is not getting unemployment assistance. That is the wrong way to approach it but more power to him if he can go into the public house and drink some of the profit he made by using this money. All this can be done in this way.
I grant that by using the money in rural areas like this administration costs would be a bit higher but you would have the productive capacity of your land to compensate for this. Much land in many parts of the country is now lying, for all practical purposes, neglected. It has been suggested where I have expounded this scheme that there are farmers who are genuinely too ill or physically unfit to use the land. This must give rise to the suggestion that they be asked to give up this land in return for a decent pension and let the land be divided among those who will use it.
To my mind it must be degrading for a young man of 21 or 22 to have to accept unemployment assistance. It is wrong that he should have to start off in the competitive world with this psychological disadvantage. If such a boy could avail of a scheme like the one I have suggested he would be more inclined to stay on his father's farm. His father would, of course, have to be induced into giving the farm up to him. However, the boy would take a greater interest in the land and he would receive something in return for his work. This criticism of the Government's unemployment assistance order is not all the one way. Many people even in parts of County Leitrim, where one would expect people to benefit from unemployment assistance, agree with the Government's decision to limit it. Naturally enough, this order affects pockets of people, one part of the country is able to support itself while in another part where there is bad land the situation does not arise.
The farming aspects of the Budget interest me most. I went to the trouble of counting the various incentives given to farmers under the agricultural heading and I found there were eight or nine amounting to £10 or £11 million. All those incentives will be of benefit to my constituents and I welcome each and every one of them.
 The various social welfare increases are welcome too and I do not think anyone could find fault with them. There is a tendency in Budget debates for people on this side of the House to praise the Budget and for people on the opposite side of the House to find fault with it and I suppose this will be the case until the end of time. Deputy Lenehan praised one part of it and found fault with another. By and large, this Budget will benefit many people. Granted people will be caught up by the increase in the rate of income tax and the increase in the cost of alcohol, but when a Government provides increases in social welfare benefits it must provide taxation to pay for them. It is only right that luxury goods should be taxed. Those who criticise the Budget say there is no obligation on them to suggest alternatives until they are on this side of the House and there it remains.
I should like to see the whole approach to the provision of financial help for small farmers changed. I should like to see this money used in a productive capacity as I am sure it can be used in a productive capacity in some of the ways I have outlined. If this were done both the people who receive the money and the country in general would be the better for it.
Mr. Donegan Mr. Donegan
Mr. Donegan: I want to say, first of all, a personal word in relation to the contribution made by Deputy Lenehan. Deputy Lenehan has had a very tough time in his political life during the last fortnight, when he decided on a point of principle to vote against his party. His contribution tonight was good humoured. It showed no degree of bitterness and a great deal of commonsense. Whether Deputy Lenehan stays here or not, and maybe he has as good a chance of staying here as I or anybody else, his contribution as an Independent was good humoured, progressive and a credit to him. It is only fair that should be said. I mean that in no spirit of condemnation of Fianna Fáil or anything else. I merely say it in relation to Deputy Lenehan's contribution.
 Something which Deputy Lenehan did not mention during the course of his speech, which has a direct relation to this Budget but which I mentioned when the Fine Gael Party recently held a press conference in relation to its stated policy for the west entitled “A Policy for People”, was that the people of the east must accept that if in the west and undeveloped areas like West Cork and parts of Clare and Mayo, we provide the very minimum of hospital services, Garda services, roads and all the other services of State which the poorest citizen is entitled to, then taxation will be extremely high not only on the people of the west themselves but on the people of the east as well.
The help we can give them in the form of dole or anything else can at no time be any more than a pittance and to have taken away that pittance in my view was a dastardly act and one in stupidity only paralleled by the action of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party years ago when they reduced old age pensions, which is now so historical that I can with impunity mention it from these benches. Anything that can be given to a family in the west will never give the degree of opportunity to that family that such a family would enjoy in the east. We must remember however small that pittance is it will put this nation in the position of being heavily taxed and, therefore, a high cost community.
The development of the west is as much tied up with the prosperity of the east as the activities in the east itself. If that fact is examined in depth by any economist, statistician, expert in industry or agriculture, civil servant, Government Minister or politician, it will be found to be absolutely correct. If there is to be, and it is right there should be, a different definition of dole in the west because of the lesser opportunities and in many cases because of the impossibility for a man or woman to get work, it has to be paid for by the developed areas. There is no getting away from that. The development of the west has as much relation to the economy, income and taxation of Deputies and their friends living two or three miles away as has the very  expenditure they see going on around them in their own parish. That fact has to be accepted and if the message and action of Deputy Lenehan in voting against the Fianna Fáil Party has brought this to light, then the event will not have occurred in vain. Notwithstanding the heavy burden of rates in County Louth it is much easier to provide services through Louth County Council than it is through Mayo County Council. I am quite aware that, because of the low valuations and so on, far bigger State subventions are given to Mayo County Council and the poorer western areas generally than are given to county councils in the eastern part of the country. But, again, these subventions can be described as a pittance. It is a case of what can be afforded and what can be afforded when one is at the receiving end of State assistance will always be low. It will be low in relation to the overall economy.
In Our Boys there used to be a character called “Kitty the Hare” and I have never forgotten one of her sayings; it has a direct bearing on the removal of the dole in the west. “May you or yours never know the coldness of charity.” Surely that is a contradiction; surely charity should be warm-hearted? Personal charity can give one joy in depriving oneself of some pleasure or other. But there is coldness in it where the recipients of benefits are concerned. The Government's action before the Budget and its bumbling handling of the whole sorry business, its three separate moves, non-related and all disproved, one by the other when Government Orders and Ministerial Orders were examined, demonstrated to the people of the west the coldness of the Government's charity.
We, in the Fine Gael Party, have been examining the position. We lost the by-election but in one section of that constituency we saw the sad situation in which single people there drawing the dole eked out an existence in a cold and hopeless environment. We admit there is no easy cure. But we did draw up our policy and we made certain decisions. It would not be right for me to go into the details in this  debate; I merely mention it in passing. We, as Deputy Dr. Gibbons has done tonight, expressed in detail our precise plans for the creation of jobs there and the bringing of that part of the country into line with the rest of the country, not alone to the benefit of the hopeless environment of the west but also to the benefit of the lucky person in the good job in the developed areas. Deputy Dr. Gibbons has his own simple approach to the problem.
This party, of which I am proud to be a member, worked extremely hard hammering out the details of our policy. The details of our work in that regard can await discussion at our Ard Fheis in the very near future and the appropriate Estimate when it comes before the House. Let us face the fact now that in the Budget debate so far it is Deputy Joe Lenehan who has struck the right chord. Whether we like it or not, the saving of a relatively small sum and then the restoration of part of that small sum in another form when the Government finally realised how utterly wrong they were typifies the complete failure of this Government.
This Budget, we are told, is for a sum of £551.04 million. If you subtract the non-capital services you get a Budget of £429 million. Yesterday the increase in the cost of living was the subject of questions tabled by Deputy L'Estrange and by me. The answer gives a detailed list of items ranging over a wide variety of articles, from shoes and socks to food and razor blades, razor blades which are used by those of us who have not gone all mod and are still prepared to face the world barefaced. The list is there to be studied. It indicates a very high increase indeed in the cost of living over the last 12 months. Various estimates of the increase have been given. In one of the documents supplied to us prior to the Budget there was a figure showing an 8.7 increase. This estimate would, of course, have been about three months ago.
The consumer price index does not include luxury items and in my analysis of the hundreds of items in the list furnished yesterday I excluded from my consideration all luxury items  such as drink and tobacco. According to my calculations the cost of living increase in the last 12 months has been in the order of 12½ per cent. I base that on the reply given to questions yesterday. We have the lowest social welfare benefits in Europe. I use the present tense; I could use the past tense.
The Minister circulated with the Budget a synopsis of the figures minus the verbiage. The old age pension rate stood at £5. The increase of £.50 is exactly 10 per cent. But the increase in the cost of living, according to the list of items supplied yesterday, is 12½ per cent.
Mr. Colley Mr. Colley
Mr. Colley: Could the Deputy throw a little more light on how he arrives at 12½ per cent?
Mr. Donegan Mr. Donegan
Mr. Donegan: I arrived at it by taking the list of items. The reply to the question is available to the Minister. I have not got the reply with me now, but I shall probably report progress tonight and the Minister and I can both have another look at it between now and next Tuesday when the debate will resume. The increases are in the order of 13 per cent, 11 per cent, 14 per cent on various items. In my opinion, there was an increase of 12½ per cent over the normal range of items used in the normal household. I shall examine it, too, and he knows, having been opposite me in another office for a few years, that I would be quick to say I was wrong just as he often was if the facts required it. In my opinion the normal household paid 12½ per cent or more for their goods on the day before the Budget than they did on the day before the previous Budget. There are various ways of looking at these statistics and that might not mean over the year on the average an increase of 12½ per cent. I am saying specifically that on the day before the Budget the householder was paying about 12½ per cent more. That means that the old age pensioner or the person on social welfare benefits of any kind was paying about that much more, too.
 I shall run down the increases given. The old age contributory pension was £5. There was an increase of £50 or 10 per cent exactly. A person with an adult dependant got before the Budget £8.5. He got an increase of £.85 or 10 per cent. I do not want to introduce anybody in the clerical field into this but mention was made a couple of months before the Budget by a very eminent cleric of the Roman Catholic Church of the ridiculously low figure being paid to a widow with two dependants. For that reason maybe or, perhaps, for some other reason widows did a little better. A widow's contributory pension was £4.50. She got 50 pence or a little better than the 10 per cent. Her increase for each of the first two children was ten pence. The rate before that was 90 pence. For the third and subsequent children she got 65 pence, an extra 35 pence. She did a bit better than 10 per cent.
For disability and unemployment benefit, invalidity and retirement pension, the personal rate again was £4.50 and the increase was 45 pence or exactly ten per cent. For a person with an adult dependant the rate was £7.65 and that person got an increase of 75 pence. The maternity allowance was £4.50. There was a ten per cent increase, 45 pence. The orphan's contributory allowance was £3 and the increase was exactly 30 pence or 10 per cent.
When one comes to the non-contributory bracket one find that the old age pension was £4.25 and they got 40 pence, marginally less than 10 per cent. The widow's non-contributory and deserted wife's allowance personal rate was £4.25. All they got was 40 pence. The increase for each of the first two children was 15 pence. It had been 75 pence. This was a little better than 10 per cent. For the third and subsequent children it had been 50 pence and they got an increase of 40 pence. The orphan's non-contributory allowance was £2.25 and they got 25 pence or marginally over 10 per cent.
I contend that this proves that the Budget, as far as these people are concerned, was not a “stay as poor as you are” Budget but was, in fact, a  “stay as poor as you were” Budget because they were just as poor or poorer, if my contention that the ordinary necessaries of life cost 12½ per cent more is correct, than they were on the day before the Budget the previous year.
The personal rate of unemployment assistance in the urban areas was £3.60. These people got 35 pence, less than 10 per cent. A person with an adult dependant had £6.40 and he did marginally better. He got 65 pence. In the rural areas, leaving out the aspect of who gets it, the personal rate was £3.30 and they got 35 pence. A person with an adult dependant had £6 and he got 65 pence or marginally better than 10 per cent.
In relation to health allowances and infectious diseases maintenance allowances, the personal rate was £4.10. They got 40 pence, marginally less than 10 per cent. A person with an adult dependant had £7.30. He got 80 pence. A person with a disabled person's maintenance allowance had £4. He got 40 pence.
That means that as far as this Budget is concerned socially we did not improve. The Minister and I may disagree on Tuesday on whether the normal necessities of life did or did not increase by more or less than I have suggested. In a sound broadcast I made for my party I suggested that the figure during the year was 10 per cent. The reply to my question yesterday indicates to me a higher figure. It is not of much consequence whether it was  10, 11, or 12 per cent to the Minister or me. It is of great consequence to somebody who has not got a shilling in his pocket. The fact is that the social welfare recipient did not improve his lot from Budget time 1970. He stayed as poor as he was. Nobody in this House can disprove that statement.
I would be expected, as spokesman on Industry and Commerce, to devote the greater portion of my contribution to the business end of the Budget but I felt it was my duty as a citizen and as somebody who feels for these poor people to devote the first part of my speech to the position in relation to the social welfare recipient and to prove to this House that the social welfare recipient, the infectious diseases allowance recipient and anybody else, except the deserted wife, is as poor as he was before the Budget 1970. I defy any Fianna Fáil speaker or the Minister himself to prove otherwise. On that alone, if for no other reason, this Budget stands condemned because if we had the lowest social welfare benefits in Europe it was time we moved up in that league and accepted our responsibilites.
Let us look at whether it was impossible for the Minister to move up in the league.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 6th May, 1971.
Dáil Éireann 253 Committee on Finance. Financial Resolution No. 8: General (Resumed).