Dáil Éireann - Volume 346 - 15 December, 1983

Supplementary Estimates, 1983. - Adjournment of Dáil: Motion.

The Taoiseach: I move:

That the Dáil at its rising on 16th December do adjourn for the Christmass recess until 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 18th January, 1984.

The first anniversary of the formation of the present Government provides an opportunity to review the progress made since then in tackling the problems we inherited. These problems were numerous and grave.

Most immediate was the threat to the financial viability of the State posed by the scale of the budget deficit facing the new administration. While a Book of Estimates had been prepared by the previous Government, the decisions needed to give effect to the spending cuts implicit in the volume had not been made, and in some instances at least seemed beyond the bounds of practical possibility. The [2461] shortfall in local authority finances in 1983, for example, was estimated at the beginning of the year at £97 million. It was envisaged that £20 million would be found in the forthcoming budget. The net effect of this was that local authorities would have had to produce an additional £77 million, namely an addition of 30 per cent to their own revenue, if local services were to be maintained. This they just could not do. The new Government accordingly cancelled this Fianna Fáil decision and increased significantly the provision in the budget for assistance to local authorities. Similarly the proposed cut in school transport finance, the magnitude of which left no room for hardship cases, was adjusted to deal with these cases. Had the Fianna Fáil Government remained in office and implemented these cuts which had not been decided the increase in taxation needed to attain their target of a £750 million deficit would have been about £700 million. The new Government, commanding greater confidence amongst those from whom the State borrows, were able to aim at a less ambitious target while at the same time restoring the confidence that had been weakened by the actions of their predecessors. As a result, while modifying some of the more unrealistic cuts proposed by Fianna Fáil in its Book of Estimates in relation to the reduction of funds to local authorities, for school transport, and so on, the new taxation raised was less by about £350 million than that which Fianna Fáil's proposals would have entailed.

To have restored international and domestic confidence while at the same time imposing significantly less burdens on the taxpayer than would have been the case if Fianna Fáil had remained in office was the first major achievement of the new Government and the Minister for Finance, Deputy Alan Dukes.

Mr. Haughey: How often has the Taoiseach mentioned Fianna Fáil?

The Taoiseach: This achievement is all the more remarkable if seen over a slightly longer time-scale. One has only to go back to the point two-and-a-half [2462] years ago when the first Government was formed which I had the honour to lead. That Government was faced, when it took over, with a financial crisis of terrifying magnitude. Even after a careful re-examination of the figures first presented had narrowed down the scale of the problem somewhat, it emerged that if the new Government did not take immediate action, current spending in 1982 would have exceeded current revenue by some 13 per cent of our national output. This is a level of current over-spending by Government that would have totally destroyed public confidence at home and abroad if it had been allowed to happen.

A year and-a-half later, as a result of three budgets prepared by Coalition Governments, and despite the fact that one of these was subsequently watered down by Fianna Fáil after the 1982 election, the excess of current spending over revenue had been reduced to about 7.5 per cent of national output, and this process will be continued in January's budget. This is evidence that we are already a long way through the tunnel, with light now visible at the end of it.

Other recent economic achievements have included the negotiation of a pay agreement with the public service unions which provides for a phased increase, including a pay pause of 6 months, totalling 8 per cent over 15 months, or an annualised rate of less than 6.5 per cent together with the postponement of payment of special pay claims over a period extending in some cases to 1986. Moreover, despite the fact that this lead was not followed in parts of the private sector, inflation has been brought down from 21 per cent eighteen months ago to around 10 per cent in the past 12 months — and would indeed have been reduced to single figures by this time were it not for the effects of the sharp rise in the values of the dollar by 18 per cent and sterling by 14 per cent during the last nine months. During this period, these exchange rate changes have, I estimate, contributed to a rise in import prices of well over 10 per cent after a period of over a year during which they had remained static. This development has seriously inhibited the [2463] drop in inflation to single figures. Any weakening in either or both of these currencies in 1984 would, of course, reduce inflationary pressures and could enable us at last to get inflation well down into single figures during the year ahead.

At the same time, our over-spending abroad — the balance of payments deficit — has been reduced from almost £1,400 million two years ago and just over £1,000 million last year, to about £300 million in the current year, despite greatly increased interest payments on pre-1983 foreign debt. A remarkable rise of 13 per cent in the volume of industrial exports in the first ten months of the year has been the principal contributor to this achievement, although stability in the level of imports in the face of the continued low level of domestic spending has also been a factor.

The export boom has contributed to a recovery in manufacturing industry output, which has grown this year by about 5 per cent, after a year of stagnation in 1982. Much of this growth has been concentrated in two leading sectors — chemicals and electronics. It must be hoped that it may become more widely spread in response perhaps to a general recovery of demand in some important markets, such as Britain, the United States and Germany — a recovery which, while still hesitant and patchy, is showing tentative signs of spreading to some other major trading partners.

It is too soon to say how far and how fast the present recovery will go. Some independent commentators expect it to reverse the decline in demand at home and thus for the first time in several years to provide, in addition to the quite dynamic export growth, a dimension of increased consumption at home. There are divergent views on this, but the fact that the possibility is now being seriously canvassed is certainly encouraging.

This recovery in industry has been accompanied by a virtual halving of the rate of increase of unemployment from 3,200 per month in the six months ended May last to 1,800 per month in the six months to November. Some part of this, however, may be attributed to the use of [2464] the Youth Employment Levy to finance during the current year training and work experience for almost 50,000 young people for periods of up to about six months each.

An Ceann Comhairle: I would remind Deputy Mac Giolla that it is not in accordance with procedure to read a newspaper in the House.

Mr. Mac Giolla: I am sorry, but I was trying to catch up on the information which was not circulated to us.

Mr. Lenihan: Exactly. It was handed out to the media.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy will have to find another place in which to do it.


The Taoiseach: I am glad Deputy Lenihan mentioned it. Fianna Fáil never came clean or gave information. If we are to go beyond this, if we are to tackle unemployment radically, we shall first of all have to take steps that will make us more competitive at home and abroad, so that our share of the home market may rise again from the low level to which we have allowed it to fall, and so that our penetration of external markets will be even more effective than it has been.

At the same time we shall have to ensure that the competitive jobs thus created are shared by as many of our people as possible, instead of — as at present — being the preserve of a smaller and smaller share of the work force. It is not long since 93 per cent of all those in the labour force had work. Now the available work is shared amongst only 85 per cent of the labour force; 15 per cent are thus excluded.

The Government have taken a number of steps to improve competitiveness by bringing the burden of public spending under control, and thus eliminating the pressures for higher taxes, which in recent years have drastically reduced incentives both for entrepreneurs and for workers. Thus:

[2465] 1. Numbers in the public service have been cut by almost 4,000, or 1.5 per cent, — the first such reduction in living memory.

2. The percentage increase in the public service pay bill in this calendar year will be less than one-third what it was in 1980, when it was allowed to rise by 34 per cent in a single year.

3. The rate of increase of public spending has been virtually halved. Whereas in every year from 1978 to 1982 inclusive, current public spending rose by between 20 per cent and 30 per cent, (the average was 25 per cent), this year the increase — including debt service — will have been held to around 13 per cent and in 1984 will have been reduced to around 10 per cent.

The Government in recent weeks have initiated talks with the principal economic and social interests on the general economic outlook with particular reference to unemployment. We have already had discussions with the Confederation of Irish Industry, the Federated Union of Employers, the Construction Industry Federation, the Irish Farmers' Association and the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers' Association. We will shortly be meeting with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

In the talks we have had, we found not only a clear appreciation of the economic and fiscal difficulties that beset our economy in common with the economies of so many other industrialised countries but a willingness to seek by co-operative action ways of reducing these difficulties. In particular, it is clear that rising unemployment and the threat it holds to our social fabric is accepted widely throughout our society as our greatest problem and the one to which we must direct all our efforts and energies. I am sure that we shall find in our discussions with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions that they also give the highest priority to halting and reversing the trend in unemployment.

In these talks, we are asking the economic and social interests concerned to put forward proposals and suggestions [2466] which, within the accepted constraints on the public finances, could contribute positively to growth in employment. When we have heard all the views, we will consider positively the possibilities they offer for a programme of co-operation and partnership between the Government and the main economic and social interests to strengthen the trends in our economy which make for growth in economic activity and in employment.

I should, perhaps, add that while we are still losing jobs in many industries, although at a slower rate than in earlier years of the recession, we are also continuing to provide new jobs in industries which are still growing, even in present recessionary conditions. In the first half of this year, we have succeded in providing some 8,000 new jobs in manufacturing industry.

This continued success in creating new jobs underlines the growth possibilities which exist in industry today, and justify our policy of intensifying our tripartite sectoral studies of industry. These studies are steadily establishing the prospects for each industrial sector and the changes in structures, management, technology, product range and design, and marketing required to enable us to compete more aggressively and successfully in current and foreseeable market conditions. Already, two studies, covering the textiles and clothing industries and the mechanical engineering industry, have been completed and published.

A particularly important recommendation in these reports was that the large training funds at our disposal should be used to help firms with growth prospects to acquire, during a development period of several years, new management, technological and marketing skills. The training agencies have, therefore, been requested to prepare schemes on the lines recommended.

Over the next few months, the Sectoral Development Committee will complete the other sectoral studies in progress coverning the electronics, construction, beef, dairy, plastics, chemicals and pharmaceuticals and fishing industries as well as a cross-sectoral study on marketing. [2467] These reports will be given the same prompt study and decision by the Government Task Force on Employment as the first two sectoral reports to which I have referred.

Moreover, at the national level a realistic medium-term plan is in preparation by the independent National Planning Board, the staff of which had a very constructive meeting yesterday. This will provide the basis for rallying all groups in the country in support of national development and will combine incentives with equity in a way that has not previously been attempted.

The Government are also concerned that the available work will be shared equitably. An Hours of Work Bill controlling overtime is before the Government for approval prior to early introduction in the Dáil. Work-sharing proposals are under consideration in the civil service. And the Youth Employment Agency, with the help of the 1 per cent levy on incomes and aid from the European Social Fund, has virtually trebled the volume of training and work experience programmes for young people, who are now being helped, on a scale exceeded nowhere else in Europe, to avoid the worst effects of massive unemployment.

I spoke recently in this House on the outcome of the European Council in Athens earlier this month.

Each of the issues discussed at the Council is obviously of vital importance to the Community. First, there was the question of where resources are to come from, now that the Community's own revenues are at or near the point of exhaustion. This is connected with the problem of enlarging the Community to take in Spain and Portugal in that some countries hold that any agreement to increase the Community's resources must be contingent on enlargement. Similarly, some countries hold that an increase in own resources must also be contingent on agreement on ways in which contributions to the Community Budget are to be shared and on better procedures for ensuring budgetary discipline. With this question, in turn, is associated the rationalisation [2468] of agricultural expenditures including measures for the abolition of MCAs and the proposed super-levy, about which Ministers and I have spoken at length inside and outside this House. In addition, we faced in Athens proposals for increasing the efficiency and size of the structural funds, special measures to deal with Mediterranean problems and proposals for increased Community involvement in research, technological innovation, a strategic programme for research in information technology and other issues.

But important as these questions undoubtedly are, they are insignificant, even in total, in comparison to the failure of the Athens Council to take a firm decision on any question. That failure implies a failure of political will which is, in itself, the most serious aspect of Athens.

For these reasons it is imperative that every institution and every country within the Community, and in particular France, on whom the onerous burden of the Presidency now descends, must work towards eliminating the present difficulties.

There are many problems other than the economy which the Government has also been tackling energetically and with some success.

When the Government took office it inherited from its predecessors a dangerous situation; political interference with the police had reached the stage where the phones of political correspondents were being tapped through an abuse of the official system of phone interception set up to combat serious crime and subversion.

Quite apart from the dangers to democracy inherent in such a move towards a police State, the morale of the gardaí, many of them aware that abuses of this kind were taking place as a result of political interference, was at a low ebb. This problem was tackled at once, skilfully and effectively, by the new Minister for Justice, Michael Noonan.


An Ceann Comhairle: This is most disorderly. [2469] We must have order. The Deputies will have an opportunity of replying and the Chair will see they get that opportunity.

Mr. Lenihan: The Taoiseach is a most vindictive man.

An Ceann Comhairle: Order.

Mr. Lenihan: It is the Taoiseach's comments of this kind that lead to disorder.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Taoiseach must be allowed to make his speech without interruption.

The Taoiseach: I will not allow myself to be prevented by the Opposition from putting on record the achievements of this Government in each sphere, not only in the economic but in other spheres as well, and the Opposition will not shut us up.

The morale of the gardaí was restored and confidence in the democratic system revived. At the same time the recruitment of additional gardaí, the re-deployment of the force, getting as many as possible back on the beat, and the strengthening of the law against crime, were undertaken. In another related area additional prison accommodation was provided, increasing the capacity from 1,250 to almost 1,600, thus relieving the situation in relation to the release of short-term offenders to make room for more serious offenders in over-crowded prisons. Moreover, order and discipline were restored to the prison service after a period in which there had been considerable and potentially dangerous disruption.

Another area of reform has been the new composition of An Bord Pleanála. The Tánaiste, Dick Spring, as Minister for the Environment, has taken planning appeals out of the political arena with the introduction of a new system of appointment to An Bord Pleanála from panels nominated by a range of independent bodies. The board of Udarás na Gaeltachta has also been changed by the Minister for the Gaeltacht, Paddy O'Toole, to ensure accountability to the Minister [2470] and the Dáil which had lapsed in a deplorable manner.

The transfer of the Post Office from civil service to commercial management, under two independent boards, An Bord Telecom and An Bord Phoist, which has been allowed to drag on for years, has now been achieved by the Minister for Transport and Posts and Telegraphs, Jim Mitchell, and the new boards are taking over on 1 January. The two Departments of Transport and Posts and Telegraphs are being merged in a single Department of Communications, and the functions of the Department of Industry and Energy and Trade, Commerce and Tourism have also been re-organised in the interest of greater efficiency.

A crisis that would have threatened the very existence of motor insurance, and would have brought losses to well over 300,000 motorists, has been resolved by the prompt and skilful action of the then Minister for Trade, Commerce and Tourism, Frank Cluskey.

The long drawn out problem of the Clondalkin Paper Mills has also been resolved by John Bruton, on a basis that will provide the best possible prospect for viability and the restoration of employment in the mills.

The same Minister also established an enquiry into the high cost of electricity, which has already submitted an interim report.

As Minister for Industry and Energy, Deputy Bruton also brought to a successful conclusion two highly important negotiations directed towards securing outlets for natural gas at premium prices during the closing years of this century. These agreements relate to the provision of natural gas to the two principal cities in this island and their conclusion will provide a stimulus to further gas exploration in the Celtic Sea.

In the case of the Dublin Gas negotiation, the Minister's efforts have redressed the imbalance of a grossly inequitable agreement proposed and, indeed, virtually entered into by the preceding Government. This agreement which Deputy Bruton re-negotiated would, for example, have given to the shareholders of the Dublin Gas public [2471] utility a return of £6.25 million by the year 1991 on the assumption that market forecasts were achieved, whereas in fact it proved possible to negotiate an agreement reducing the share of the benefits accruing to the private shareholders to less than half this figure.

This result, together with other significant modifications of the draft supplemental agreement initiated by our predecessors, shows in the most clear-cut way the difference between the slipshod and careless approach of Fianna Fáil to national issues of this kind and the careful and determined approach which we in this Government have been adopting in pursuit of the national interest. It is one of the contrasts between the present Government and Fianna Fáil which I am sure that the electors will bear in mind when the time comes in 1987 for them to consider whether to renew the mandate of this Government, or to return to power the previous administration which has such a poor record in so many areas including these negotiations.

Plans for future longer-term development in such disparate areas as industrial development and education have been prepared by Ministers John Bruton and Gemma Hussey respectively, with a view to early publication. In the educational area a new Curriculum and Examinations Board will take over on 1 January next.

The Minister for Agriculture, Austin Deasy, is introducing a revised farm modernisation scheme in 1984. Gross expenditure on the scheme will be £37.6 million, offset by receipts of £10.6 million from the EEC.

New and radical proposals for land leasing are in preparation by the Minister for Agriculture, Austin Deasy, and his Minister of State, Paul Connaughton, while the Minister for the Gaeltacht and Fisheries and Forestry, Paddy O'Toole, and his Minister of State, Michael D'Arcy, now have new proposals for forestry development at an advanced stage.

Oil has been found off the Waterford coast in quantities that could prove commercial, and the Minister for Energy. Tánaiste, Dick Spring, and his Minister of State, Eddie Collins, will be taking [2472] action to ensure that if commercial development proves practicable it will be undertaken as soon as possible and on a basis that will ensure substantial benefits to the Exchequer.

In the social area the Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Barry Desmond, has established a Social Welfare Commission, which has already met on four occasions, to review the operation of the whole complex social welfare code within two years, so that major reforms may be introduced during the lifetime of this Government. At the same time, major economies have been undertaken in the health service with a view to increasing the cost-effectiveness of the service on which very large amounts of taxpayers' money are spent. The Minister of State for Environment, formerly for Health and Social Welfare, Fergus O'Brien, has, in his earlier role, presided over a Task Force of Ministers on Drug Abuse whose prompt report is now being implemented. Major successes against drug pushers have been secured by the Garda Síochána.

At the same time drafting of a wide ranging Children Bill, which will place central responsibility for child care services under the Department of Health, is now at an advanced stage, and I expect the draft Bill to be before Government early in the New Year. This Bill will provide for the registration and supervision by health boards of all preschool child day-care services, the strengthening of various provisions in regard to foster and residential care, and a number of new provisions in relation to court proceedings in so far as they affect children.

The Government's social concern has also been demonstrated by the increases in social welfare payments which, in contrast to the position in a number of other European countries, have matched or have exceeded the rate of inflation, thus maintaining, indeed improving, living standards amongst the least well-off sections of our community at a time when the living standards of others have been falling.

The removal of remaining discrimination against women is being pursued by [2473] Minister Nuala Fennell in my Department, working with a committee drawn from other relevant Departments, and equality opportunity officers are to be nominated in State bodies. An Illegitimacy Bill is nearly ready, as are other laws to deal with issues such as joint family home ownership.

The Minister for Transport and Posts and Telegraphs — soon to be Minister for Communications — Jim Mitchell, and his Minister of State, Ted Nealon, have introduced legislation to legalise local community radio.

Mr. Leyden: That is inaccurate. They have not brought in legislation.

Mr. Lenihan: They have not introduced it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Order.

Mr. Leyden: The Taoiseach should not mislead the House.

Mr. Lenihan: It has not been introduced.

Mr. J. Mitchell: It is not a mistake. Draft legislation is before the committee.

Mr. Lenihan: He is telling lies.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy will withdraw that.

Mr. Lenihan: There is no such legislation. I withdraw that. There is no such legislation. There is no such legislation.

The Taoiseach: I am sorry if the language used has caused any confusion. Legislation is before the new Dáil Committee on Legislation. It is at this stage technically draft legislation so that the committee can make recommendations on it.

Mr. Lenihan: That is all we are saying.

The Taoiseach: I am sorry.

Mr. Lenihan: We had to drag it out of you.

[2474] An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Lenihan, please.

The Taoiseach: I am more than happy to satisfy Deputy Lenihan's pedantry on the point.

This legislation is currently the subject of public hearings by the new Dáil Committee on Legislation. This is one of a dozen all-party committees which — as part of the Dáil reform initiated by Deputy Bruton, as Leader of the House, in conjunction with the Government Chief Whip, Sean Barrett — are now considering in a co-operative way a wide range of subjects including marriage breakdown, women's rights, the cost of building land and aid to the Third World. I just wanted to pay tribute to the Opposition at this point.

Mr. Haughey: It is not in your script.

The Taoiseach: Allow me to make my own speech with my own interpolations. I wanted to say at this point that the manner in which these committees have started to work is something which resounds to the credit of the House and both sides of the House. Even on this morning's papers there are accounts of two committees which show that when Members of this House get together in committee to discuss problems of this kind away from the somewhat confrontationary atmosphere of the House when we sit opposite to each other, they can co-operate in the most constructive way, and I believe the work of Government and Opposition together in these committees will make a considerable difference to the whole system of parliamentary democracy.

Mr. Haughey: Hear, hear.

The Taoiseach: Minister of State, Jim O'Keeffe, is supervising the use to which our development aid, increased to £33.8 million for 1984, is being put both by international and national agencies.

The Government's commitment through Minister Gemma Hussey and Minister Ted Nealon to sustaining and [2475] enlarging public interest in arts and culture is evident by its financial support and positive initiatives. In the coming year, the ultimate provision for the Arts Council at around £5.2 million, including provision from the Vote for Remuneration will represent an increase on the 1983 outturn figure of £4.95 million. In the current fiscal situation this is a very positive provision for the arts. I would like to take this opportunity to thank publicly the Council members of the Arts Council whose five-year term of office has just ended. They have worked with flair and imagination, tempered by a realistic grasp of what is achievable.

The National Concert Hall continues to be a major focus for musical activity offering the best of Irish and international artists to an appreciative audience. The provision for it in 1984 represents a significant increase on 1983 and has been warmly welcomed by the management.

The past year has also seen the further success and generous public acclaim by the European public for the tours of the “Treasures of Ireland” exhibitions. At a time when the international news media is tending to focus on the more negative news items emanating from this country, this exhibition serves to remind the world of our proud creative heritage. These exhibitions are made possible by the joing endeavours of the National Museum, TCD, the Royal Irish Academy, various Government Departments, Aer Lingus and Bord Fáilte. I should say, by the way when I was asked a question about membership of the academy several months ago I said “yes”. For some reason this was quoted as “no” in the newspapers.

Mr. Lyons: Great news is very important.

The Taoiseach: It is right to correct the record.

Mention of the international dimension of our artistic and cultural life brings to mind next year's Rosc exhibition, and I expect that, as with previous such exhibitions, it will produce much fruitful [2476] interaction between foreign and local artists, and the general public.

The Government have recently approved draft legislation for National Archives, and I personally look forward to the introduction of the Archives Bill in the next parliamentary session. The ultimate objective of that Bill is to facilitate historians in making informed evaluations of the factors which shaped public policy in the relatively recent past. As an interim step, all Departments are being asked to prepare to set aside those papers aged over 30 years not now required for official business, and to refrain from destroying any papers unless and until such destruction is authorised under the new National Archives legislation. I hope that such papers will then be evaluated in a thorough, systematic and prompt fashion by the State Paper Office, thereby facilitating early general public access to such papers.

Mr. Haughey: Very important.

Mr. J. Mitchell: More than you think.

The Taoiseach: I am happy to pause for the comments of the Leader of the Opposition on this particular point.

Mr. Haughey: I pushed the proposal forward myself in my own time, but I do not think it is appropriate for an Adjournment Debate in the present state of this country.

Mr. J. Mitchell: It just might be.

The Taoiseach: The Taoiseach has responsibility for certain particular areas. The Deputy as Taoiseach when he had responsibility for them spoke about his own activities from time to time, which I am now doing.

Mr. Haughey: I give you credit for the great work you are doing in regard to national arcives. I give you all that.

The Taoiseach: Thank you very much indeed. I move away from my own Department, which apparently the Leader of the Opposition does not like [2477] me to refer to. I do not know why he is so sensitive about it.

In the area of labour relations, proposals for changes in industrial relations structures have been presented by the former Minister for Labour, Liam Kavanagh, to the social partners and will be pushed ahead by the new Minister, Ruairi Quinn, after consideration by the trade unions and employers' organisations.

The Members of this House, like the rest of the people of this island, have been shocked by the appalling series of murders committed by people who profess to advance the cause of Irish nationalism.

Mr. Gene Fitzgerald: There is no Labour Minister present, I notice.

The Taoiseach: If Deputy Gene Fitzgerald is not concerned about the violence and murders in Northern Ireland he should at least have the decency to stay quiet when I am speaking about them. These murders have had, I believe, an impact which the perpetrators were not seeking — if indeed it is ever possible to understand the reasoning which coldly uses murder by way of argument. There is now a greater realisation than ever before that the activities of para-military organisations cannot and will not bring one step nearer the reconciliation of the two traditions in Ireland. Instead if they continue they will make the reconciliation impossible. The onus now rests firmly on the two sovereign Governments and the main political parties North and South to halt the alienation which the present situation is causing and to bring about in its place a system which can accommodate these two traditions — with which people of the two different persuasions can identify and live together in peace.

Mr. Lenihan: Exactly.

The Taoiseach: The task is urgent. That it is so has been recognised earlier this week with the publication of the European Parliament's report on Northern Ireland. The Government welcome many [2478] — although not all — features of Mr. Haagerup's report and its acknowledgement that the Northern Ireland situation is one of the gravest political and social problems existing in the European Community. I note the report's positive encouragement to the elected representatives of Northern Ireland, to continue their co-operation with the European Commission on economic development matters. I hope that this suggestion will be taken up by those concerned in the interest of all the people of Northern Ireland. The Government also welcome the central message of the report, which is that any lasting improvement in the situation in Northern Ireland requires the closest possible co-operation between the Irish and British Governments.

Mr. Haagerup has had to deal with a most complex issue. He has approached his task with sincerity and with the laudable objective of contributing to a better understanding thoughout the European Community of the tragedy of Northern Ireland.

The close co-operation between the Irish and the British Governments, spoken of by Mr. Haagerup, has been a major feature of my Government's approach to the problem. The work of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Council has been intensified in the past twelve months, and the documents which I laid before this House following my meeting with the British Prime Minister in early November are a record of the close co-operation which now exists at many levels between our two Governments. I have met the British Prime Minister on four occasions in the past year. Such meetings are, in my view, an essential element in the process of building up a close relationship of trust so that, together, we can give to the people of Northern Ireland a future.

The task requires fundamental reassessments on both sides of the Irish Sea. For our part in this State, this reassessment is already well underway. The work of the New Ireland forum is a serious attempt by elected representatives here to seek out means of restoring peace and stability to this island. All the parties in the Forum have approached the issues [2479] frankly and openly. This is now widely recognised and accepted by those who were initially sceptical. I cannot, of course, anticipate the outcome but I can say that we have a unique opportunity in the Forum to reach a measure of agreement on the policies which we wish to put forward to achieve the goals of peace and stability in Ireland.

Against an ominous background of world tension, continued violence in Northern Ireland, and economic and financial difficulties at home, 1983 has been a year of considerable progress as the Government settled down to the first of their years in office. But no one should underestimate the problems which face us, or the radical changes in public attitudes and in the performance of both the political system and the public service, that will be required if we are to overcome our problems. The scale of the financial problems which we have inherited, and the limitations they impose on the Government's freedom of action to take new initiatives is, I believe, still widely underestimated.

We have, as I said at the outset of my speech, made significant progress in tackling these problems, but what remains to be done is formidable and includes perhaps even more difficult decisions than those already taken. As a people we have not yet overcome the tendency, so evident in so many sectors of national life, to look to the Government, and above all to the doling out of taxpayers' money, as the solution to difficulties which with even a moderate improvement in self-reliance could be tackled best of all on their own account by those concerned.

Our problem — not just the problem of the Government but the problem of all the democratic politicians in this House — is, while preserving the independence and freedom of action of both the Government and the Opposition, to find, together with people of goodwill throughout the community, a basis for mobilising our people in a joint effort to face the crisis.

Increasingly the crisis is being seen not merely as one of disordered public [2480] finances and constantly rising unemployment, but one of confidence in our own ability to tackle these problems. And the threat to democracy emanating from para-military groups, and from others who would wish to subvert our democratic system and to replace it by a regime that would threaten the freedom that we have come to take for granted, is increasingly present in all our minds as elements in the situation that call for a unique effort to make the democratic system work effectively on behalf of all our people. If this is to be done it will require an exercise of responsibility on the part of politicians, public servants, sectoral interests and the media going beyond anything that we have seen since the time of the last war. The effort required could all too easily flounder in mutual bickering, with each blaming the other for what would be a communal failure. This must not happen. The Government will give the lead, and for my own part I will honour my responsibilities to the full.

Let us all use the Christmas break to reflect on our joint and several responsibilities so that we may return here, refreshed, and determined to ensure that 1984 will be the year in which we shall begin to throw off the shackles of the past — whether these be historical myths which are now used as justification for murder, and thus that stand in the way of the achievement of peace and stability in our island, or outmoded practices, customs and methods of work that reduce our capacity to provide self-sustaining employment at home for all our people.

May I wish the members of the House a Happy Christmas, and a more prosperous New Year!

Mr. Haughey: I wish there was one Labour Member to join in that applause.

Mr. Lenihan: Lovely party, lovely people.

Mr. Haughey: This Adjournment Debate takes place against the background of very low national morale and a widespread loss of confidence among our people. The year now drawing to a close will long be remembered as a black [2481] year, one of the worst in modern times. We must all recognise this reality and face up to it. We must also try to understand what has brought it about and why the people have come to the level of hopelessness that now prevails.

The economic and social problems we face are certainly intimidating because of their very nature and size. But much more significant than the nature and size of our economic and social problems is the very real loss of confidence, the depression and defeatism, that prevails in every section of our society.

There are, I believe, many causes for the present mood among our people, but I would identify three as paramount in their impact. Firstly there is the present long-lasting world-wide economic recession. An assumption of continuing progress has been an essential part of western philosophy since the last war. There was a general belief that rising economic output would carry us through any crisis or difficulties that might arise. That has now been shattered. The former certainty which existed in people's minds that while there might be occasional hitches the upward trend of economic and social progress was assured no longer exists. This malaise manifests itself here in Ireland as acutely, if not more so than anywhere else in the western world.

Secondly, there is a worry about the capacity of our political structures to provide solutions to our problems. When thing go wrong it is only natural that people will look critically at those who represent them and to whom they have entrusted the management of their affairs. I do not at all believe that the falling-off in confidence in the political process is in any way as serious as some suggest, but we must recognise that it does exist to a greater or lesser extent. Thirdly there is the clearly manifest failure of this Government to cope with our economic and social problems.

During 1983 the level of unemployment has risen steadily and inexorably to frightening levels, with widespread factory closures, job losses and redundancies. There has been an almost total collapse of the building and construction industry. The burden of taxation both [2482] direct and indirect has been increased to a level which has brought real hardship and deprivation to countless families who have never known it before. Nineteen eighty-three has seen a real lowering in the living standards of all those on low incomes, but especially pensioners and social welfare recipients.

All these things have been imposed on the Irish people in the name of what if euphemistically called financial rectitude. The cruel reality, however, is that notwithstanding all the sacrifices and burdens imposed on the people nothing in fact has been achieved. The precious books have not been balanced and the Government's own professed targets are still way beyond their reach. After a full year in office the Government cannot point to any improvement whatever in the area that they singled out as their primary pre-occupation.

The hardship, deprivation and disappointment have been imposed but there is no corresponding achievement, no improvement of any significance in the public finances. This is due mainly to the basically mistaken policies being pursued. The formula is wrong. Government budgetary policy has depressed the level of economic activity to an unprecedented degree, and this has proved to be completely counterproductive.

The more the economy is depressed the less resources there are available to achieve any budgetary targets. The spiral leads inexorably downward, consumer spending falls, investment dries up, factory closures multiply, the dole queues lengthen. Even the most enterprising and most optimistic lose heart.

Deputy Cluskey has talked about the Labour Ministers taking difficult decisions because they are in the best interest of the country. Unfortunately for them this was not the case. The best interests of the country have not been served. This group of Labour Ministers have deserted their party and its principles in vain. There is nothing to show, no improvement in the public finances or anywhere else. Do these Labour Ministers not think it is about time they took a hard look at the advice they are being given in Government about the economy and the [2483] public finances? Have they no access to some independent advice of their own or are they so totally sold on the perquisites of office that they do not bother even to seek alternative counsel from the now totally discredited policies that have been sold to them by Fine Gael? Deputy Cluskey's difficult decisions may have brought gladness to the finance establishment but they are not in the best interest of the country or the workers they are supposed to serve.

Because of this exceptionally severe deflationary policy pursued Ireland experienced in 1983 the biggest fall in employment of any EEC country. The fall was 2.5 per cent in the number at work. Whereas in the EEC as a whole unemployment rose by less than by 1 per cent in 1983, in Ireland it has risen by about 3 per cent. While in almost every other EEC country the improvement in world conditions has led to a slackening in the rise of unemployment there has been no similar slackening here, and this is directly attributable to the type of budgetary and financial policies being pursued by the Government.

The year 1983 has seen a disastrous fall in employment in manufacturing industry, in construction and in the hotel industry in particular.

As yet we have the figures for employment and manufacturing industry only up to June 1983, but these figures show a worrying and accelerating fall in manufacturing employment from 195,000 in December 1982 to 185,000 in June 1983. The haemorrhage of factory closures has been appalling — Ranks, Dunlops, Telectron, Kingdom Tubes, Weather-glaze, Black & Decker, Dublin Meat Packers, De la Rue, Golden Vale Engineering, Plessey, Macardles, Snia, Scarriff — a gloomy, depressing litany of closures. Behind this list of factories lies a toll of human misery and disappointment. People who gave a lifetime of service to their firm now find themselves discarded, with no hope of reemployment.

Fine Gael and Labour Ministers stood aloof while these local disasters took place one after another. They were [2484] unconcerned and uninterested. They did not seem to know or care that in some of these cases a subsidised package to enable them to continue would in effect have been of net benefit to the Exchequer in the long run.

To a very great extent the unprecedented increase in unemployment that has taken place this year is directly attributable to the policies initiated in the budget of February 1983. At the end of 1982, for instance, the Central Bank in their fourth quarterly report predicted that employment in manufacturing industry would fall by about 3 per cent. In fact, as a direct outcome of the budget in the first half of 1983 it fell by 5 per cent. It is perhaps, however, in the building and construction industry that the deflationary impact of this Government's budgetary policies is most manifest. It is a basic fact of our economic life that the building and construction industry is an unfailing barometer of our economic well-being. It is a key element in our national economy that invariably reflects accurately the general state of the health of that economy.

What should have been one of the most important undertakings given in this present Coalition's agreement for Government was that they would provide an extra £100 million as an immediate measure for areas of defective infrastructure which had the highest priority, the tackling of which would provide productive employment. These areas were to be provided by a Cabinet employment task force on the National Planning Board. What has happened? All the indicators are that expenditure in 1983 on public construction will be only three-quarters of the figure that the Coalition committed themselves to, and instead of any rise in the number employed in construction there has been a further substantial fall. The £1,424 million promised by the Coalition was reduced to £1,251 million in February and was again reduced to £1,202 million by the time the annual report of the building industry was published in September of this year. It will probably be seen to have been reduced again when the 1983 outturn is finally published. Coalition policy, therefore, [2485] can be clearly seen as being responsible in one year for increasing unemployment in the building and construction industry by well over 10,000, and possibly as much as 13,000 or 14,000. This accounts for about half the increase in unemployment since mid-1981.

The 1984 Estimates show that in the coming year the decline will continue as a result of even further reductions in public capital investment in building and construction. By any standards this is sheer economic madness.

Are the Government not aware that unemployment has spread to every corner of our country, that it now spares no age group or social class? Do they know the immense difficulties young people have in finding jobs? Do they know the fears and uncertainties facing families, and the burden that is placed on homes with grown-up teenagers who, despite their constant and persistent efforts cannot find employment?

In this House and in debates like this it is necessary to reiterate again and again that the greatest menace, the greatest injustice in our society today, is unemployment. It has spread like a disease right across the community bringing hardship, misery and helplessness into thousands of homes. Even those who are fortunate enough still to be in employment fear rightly for their children and their future.

This Government now do not even talk about employment any more. There was no Government statement accompanying the last set of figures, which brought up the level of unemployment to 200,000. The leaked White Paper on Industrial Policy reveals that Fine Gael and Labour envisage a rate of unemployment not less than 225,000 for the rest of the 1980s. This is not just defeatism. It is a total abdication of responsibility. Unemployment and their failure to tackle it are the scandal of this Government.

Because of the crushing levels of taxation and the massive cuts in public investment the Government are away off course in reaching their objectives. The current budget deficit will be in or around £1,000 million in 1983, higher than the deficit in 1982. The public debt will have [2486] increased by well over £2,000 million and the total foreign debt will have increased to $8 billion.

Let us recall that in the February budget the official target for the current deficit was set at £897 million. By July the Government because of their failure to control public expenditure had to assemble solemnly in Barrettstown and by their own edict increase the target to £950 million. Now the final outturn is likely to be £1,000 million. How is that for management of the public finances?

The budget deficit target for next year, 1984 was stated originally by the Taoiseach to be £855 million but this has now been raised to £950 million.

The Taoiseach: I never made such a statement.

Mr. Haughey: The Government have by now clearly abandoned their policy of eliminating the current budget deficit by 1987. This should now be publicly acknowledged by the Government and clearly understood by everybody, but especially by those commentators and leader writers who are still prepared to write daft editorials about this Government's policy of financial rectitude and their honest intentions.

The borrowing situation is, if anything, worse than the current side. Devaluation and depreciation have added enormously to our national debt and to our foreign debt. The national debt will increase by over £2 billion this year, and our foreign debt will increase by a figure in excess of last year. Fine Gael have preached fiscal rectitude and have sold it to their foolish Labour partners, but they have totally failed to come anywhere near achieving it.

The attempt to distort recent economic history is still being pursued by Fine Gael and their allies in the media. The factual record, however, is that the Fine Gael and Labour Parties in Government have been responsible since 1973 for incurring a substantially greater portion of the outstanding foreign debt than Fianna Fáil. As I pointed out during the last economic debate the Fine Gael and Labour Coalition between 1973 and 1977 purposely [2487] adopted what they claimed at the time was a very progressive policy of high budget deficits and massive foreign borrowing. The problem we have today began then, when as a deliberate act of policy they increased foreign borrowing eightfold from a little over £100 million in 1973 to over £1,000 million in 1977.

Dr. FitzGerald: By how much did Fianna Fáil increase it?

Mr. Haughey: No Government have boasted more about the borrowing and the deficit budgeting it undertook than that 1973-77 Coalition, of which Deputy FitzGerald was a Member. Former Labour Party leader, Brendan Corish, at his party conference in November 1975, said that with the `willing and full support from our Fine Gael partners', Dr. FitzGerald included, `we have swept aside the restrictions of conservative economic policies so beloved of Fianna Fáil and have replaced them with the most progressive economic policies ever pursuded by an Irish Government. If I might put it more dramatically the Government are borrowing more money this year than the entire revenue raised by VAT'. Richie Ryan in his budget speech of 1977 said `It is undeniable that the heavy borrowing to finance growing current deficits was the correct economic response'. I challenge the Taoiseach, as I have done before and I want him to respond to the challenge, to acknowledge his own responsibility in supporting reckless economic policies in the mid-1970s which first created the problem we face in our public finances today.

When we left office in June 1981, the foreign debt was less than £3 billion. Today it is about £7 billion. Well over half of that amount has been incurred by Fine Gael and Labour Governments since 1973. The facts can be checked in the Central Bank Reports, and I recommend again that some of those leader writers who continue to trot out Fine Gael lies in this area should do so. Former Labour Party leader Michael O'Leary who has been welcomed into the Fine Gael fold, spoke the truth about his [2488] Coalition colleagues, when he stated in his usual cynical fashion in Business and Finance on 5 November 1981: `We as a two-party Government are going to continue borrowing. We will be borrowing to frenzied Keynesian levels into the foreseeable future'. The truth is that the Government have not got the budget deficit, public expenditure or the problem of foreign borrowing under control, and the state of the public finances is a great deal worse now than when they took over. In June 1981 the foreign debt was some 37 per cent of GNP. Today in December 1983 it is 52 or 53 per cent of GNP, and it gives the lie to claims by Government Ministers that they have the financial situation under control.

My contention is that the Government adopted the wrong strategy and that this is now obvious for all to see. The ESRI in their latest quarterly review on the Irish economy found the reduction of the current budget deficit and the rate of inflation `rather disappointing'. These are their words, not mine. The European Commission in a comment which has clear application to Ireland points out critically on page 23 of its Annual Economic Report, “There is still a tendency in several countries to curb budget deficits more by further increases in the tax burden than by economising on expenditure”.

In another remark of interest to us in Ireland the Commission also notes that `several countries have been introducing a positive discrimination in favour of investment expenditure in roughly maintaining their level in real terms alongside a severe curtailment of current public expenditure'.

Fianna Fáil strategy last November was in line with what is recommended by the Commission and indeed offered the only real chance of overcoming both our unemployment and financial problems at the same time. The economic commentators should now have the honesty to admit that a Government genuinely determined to tackle the problem was pushed out of office last November to make way for a Government that adopted a different and disastrous strategy that has caused a massive economic [2489] slump and yielded no worthwhile improvement in the public finances. Our plan was to maintain broadly the level of investment in 1983 and increase it thereafter, while pruning current expenditure.

The European Commission report to which I have referred shows that taxation as a proportion of GNP has increased by over 4 per cent since 1981 to 46 per cent, and that we have the highest burden of indirect taxation in Europe at over 18 per cent of GNP. This has led to significant seepage of consumer expenditure outside our borders and into the black economy to the detriment of the Exchequer.

The Government's record on inflation, which the ESRI calls rather disappointing, is indeed unimpressive, in view of the Taoiseach's claims in the confidence debate last year that he could bring inflation far below the level of 10 to 13 per cent targeted for 1983 in The Way Forward by Fianna Fáil. The fact is that this November according to the Central Bank the rate of inflation is likely to be around 11 per cent. So much for that claim by the Taoiseach.

The only bright spot on the economic scene is the increase in industrial production. This is almost entirely due to the coming on-stream of the new high technology industry Fianna Fáil brought to Ireland in 1977-1981 and in 1982.

On the other hand, there must be real concern at the fall in investment of 12½ per cent, which will inevitably prejudice industrial production in the future. Indeed, Commission figures show investment in Ireland at 1983 at its lowest level for 15 years, at 22½ per cent. I recall time after time in this House, no matter how depressing the economic and financial scene might have been or how gloomy the outlook might have been, that we could always point to a very high rate of investment in the country. It was up to 30 per cent, the highest in Europe, until this Coalition Government came to power. Now it is down to 22½ per cent of GNP. That is probably one of the most serious indicators regarding the future of our economy. Much the same remarks can be made about the fall in the balance of payments deficit. This is due to a mixture of factors, the growth in exports [2490] from new industries coming on-stream but also the deep depression of the economy and the fall in investment to which I have referred. In The Way Forward we envisaged an increase in exports of 12½ per cent in value on average.

This year the actual increase will be 9½ per cent. If the development and investment we envisaged had taken place, the target could probably have been achieved in 1983, despite the cynical comments and scorn that was thrown on our targets at that time. Imports are expected to increase by 6¼ per cent, which is below the 8¼ per cent target in The Way Forward. The drop in imports of capital equipment is directly responsible for this. In spite of all the partisan attacks made on The Way Forward at the time the figures now beginning to emerge prove we were on the right course. As we look at 1983 we see an economy that is struggling to survive in a recession whose effects have been greatly exacerbated here in Ireland by the application of harsh taxation policies and huge investment cuts.

We now have the Estimates for 1984. It is clear that financial rectitude died a sudden death at 1 o'clock yesterday afternoon. There is no clearer evidence of the paralysis of this Government when it comes to decision-making than the 1984 Book of Estimates. We hear the Government have argued over the Estimates for months. If so, there is nothing to show for all those interminable Cabinet meetings, no achievement of any significance in regard to the level of Government expenditure.

The Taoiseach a few short months ago talked about cuts of £500 million. More recently it was toned down to cuts of £200 million. Now it is clear that there is no overall reduction. The ESRI predicts a rate of inflation averaging 8 per cent next year. The Government's net non-capital supply estimates show an increase of 8 per cent. Therefore, there has been no real reduction in the level of current government spending, and the public finances will have to be balanced by further cuts in capital expenditure, a higher deficit and borrowing and presumably increased taxation. It may be recalled [2491] that with an expected inflation rate of 11 per cent in 1983 Fianna Fáil kept the increase in the estimates down to 6 per cent last November as against 8 per cent in these Estimates now before us. Who put in the better performance?

I should like to draw the attention of the public to the false propaganda which is being fed out by the Government Information Service about the Book of Estimates, The simple fact is that current Government expenditure for 1984, as outlined in the Book of Estimates, will be up by 8 per cent on the outturn for 1983, not on the Estimates but on the outturn. Despite that, on the basis of false and misleading information fed out from Government sources, our media are talking about cuts in public expenditure although they cannot make up their minds whether it is £460 million or £220 million. It is totally dishonest and disreputable for the Government to be putting out these false and misleading impressions and figures. They should let the people see exactly where they stand in regard to the level of Government expenditure for 1984.

There have been increases in Government expenditure to balance out some damaging cuts in certain areas. There has been an increase in the provision for unemployment. It seems that the Government are calculating on a rate of unemployment of 225,000 by next autumn at least. I note there has been an increase of 140 per cent in information and public relations services for the Department of the Taoiseach. Are things really that bad?

There have been huge increases in consultancy services, 82 per cent in Social Welfare, 300 per cent in Labour, 71 per cent in the Public Service, 18 per cent in Finance, 80 per cent in Environment, minus 80 per cent in Agriculture. I think this needs some explanation. We should like to know who these consultants are and to get some information on their background and affiliations.

Industry and agriculture, environment, higher education and health seem to be the main areas where some cuts have taken place. The cuts in the provision [2492] for industry mainly reflect the Government's total failure to promote industrial development.

As far as agriculture is concerned, the Minister for Agriculture has clearly acquiesced in the decision not to restore fully the farm modernisation scheme in 1984. Agricultural education has been slashed. Moneys to ACOT and the Agricultural Institute have been cut. These are where the knife had been wielded most severely.

The Minister for Agriculture signalled this a couple of weeks ago in a speech to the General Council of Committees of Agriculture on 29 November. I would like to quote from that speech, to illustrate how much sympathy Irish farmers get from a Donnybrook-set Government. The Minister said — and I quote — `I know we're all well aware that agriculture is the area where we have the greatest growth potential and the greatest eventual employment content. It is difficult to justify cutbacks in agriculture, but when you're at the cabinet table and everybody is looking for his pound of flesh, it's a very difficult situation....' The Minister has said it all. We understand this will mean interest subsidies instead of grants for some farmers, that the reintroduction of the scheme will be further delayed, and that there will be lower rates of grants for land improvement.

I regret very much that environmental works grants and the local improvements scheme are to be severely curtailed. The amount of the saving is very small, yet these schemes have given useful employment. They show that the Government have very little commitment either to urban and inner city renewal, and none to employment in these areas. No funds have been provided for inner city projects.

The estimates amount of finance for local authorities will inevitably mean that local charges will go through the roof next year notwithstanding the widespread rejection of present level of such charges. Health expenditure is to increase by only 3 per cent. This will mean real cuts or economies of the order of 4½ per cent to 5 per cent or alternatively increased health charges. I look forward [2493] to the Minister explaining what this will involve. It will obviously involve a significant percentage of the population losing their medical cards.

Here I wish to refer to the Ceann Comhairle upbraiding Deputy Mac Giolla because he was reading the newspapers. Deputy Mac Giolla rightly complained that he was reading his newspaper because that was the only way he could get information about the cuts under different headings in the Book of Estimates. I condemn the Taoiseach and the Government for their behaviour in this regard. We have been very helpful and co-operative with the Government, particularly with the Chief Whip, in connection with the Book of Estimates and Supplementary Estimates. We got the Book of Estimates at the eleventh hour but, nevertheless, we accepted the situation. However, it appears that yesterday Ministers, spokespersons or whoever went through the Book of Estimates and detailed what exactly was involved under each heading in practical terms and what the impact on people would be. Deputies were not given that information, and that is why Deputy Mac Giolla had to read his newspaper here this morning because, apparently, the Government think it more important to cultivate their own image with the media and incur favour with them than to give Deputies the information to which they are entitled. How dare the Taoiseach or anybody else come into this House and talk about improving Dáil reform and procedures so that we can discuss our financial business more effectively? How can he have the audacity to make that suggestion when the Opposition and other Deputies are treated in the way we were treated by the Government with regard to the Book of Estimates?

There are some curious features of the Estimates of the Department of the Taoiseach. I notice that the grant-in-aid to the National Economic and Social Council has been cut by 18 per cent, while the grant to the National Planning Board has increased by 69 per cent. I see nothing to justify this decision. The NESC has proved its value over a long number of years, by producing studies which can [2494] form the basis both of decisions and informed public debate. The National Planning Board are an utterly useless body, which have done nothing to justify their existence since they were set up.

The Government's protestations of their concern for law and order are exposed as hypocritical by the Book of Estimates. We already have the Criminal Justice Bill becalmed in the House, with no sign of the promised complaints procedure promised by the Minister for Justice.

The purpose of the Bill was supposed to improve the effectiveness of the Garda Síochána. Yet we see in the estimates an exactly opposite approach. The Garda communications systems are to be decimated. Post office services for gardaí are down 16 per cent, transport is down 21 per cent, radio and other equipment is cut by 69 per cent, and there is only a nominal provision for air support. These figures demonstrate that there is in fact no real commitment on the part of the Government to defeating crime and lawlessness.

Similarly the level of expenditure on prison modernisation is far below that proposed by us last year, which puts another question mark over the Government's commitment to improving law and order. On 15 September 1983, as reported the following day in the Irish Independent, the Minister for Justice said on RTE radio that as many as 1,200 convicted offenders would not serve their sentences because of lack of space. When one takes into account that roughly two-thirds of prisoners have previous convictions, the shortage of accommodation and the lack of urgency in dealing with it represents a direct contributory cause of crime. I would urge the Government to rethink that policy, and to restore the level of prison building we decided was necessary last year.

A further real cut in the roads programme is taking place next year. Last year we allocated £100 million. The Coalition reduced this to £90 million, and are maintaining it at that level in 1984. Funds for road maintenance have been severely [2495] cut by close to 10 per cent. The Government have chosen to ignore completely the advice of both the CII and the CIF and other bodies on the necessity for a better road system.

The level of taxation, both PAYE and indirect taxation, is manifestly too high. Given the Government's failure to make any net cut in current Government expenditure, hopes of tax relief in the budget have faded. Indeed, it is more likely that tax levels will have to be further increased, if a £250 million gap to bring down the current deficit to £950 million is to be achieved. This completely ignores the urgent need there is for substantial tax relief for the lower paid.

Large sums are being spent every day across the border. The level of indirect taxation has become counter productive, and is depressing both tax yields and economic activity. I now propose again to the Minister for Finance to consider making carefully selected reductions in indirect taxation. I have suggested cuts in the real level of excise duties on alcohol. But there is also a case for reducing the very high level of VAT on other items, particularly those affecting the tourist industry.

Last year in 1982 Fianna Fáil abolished VAT on books, and thereby gave an enormous boost to the book trade and to the publishing trade, particularly to the writing of fiction and novels. Some of that revenue has certainly been recouped from PAYE an PRSI.

Our actors and concert performers are under grave threat from 23 per cent VAT on theatre and concert tickets. Theatres will close with considerable loss of employment if the situation goes on much longer. There is not much point the Taoiseach talking about the National Concert Hall if that situation prevails. If the Minister of State with responsibility for the Arts is in any way in earnest about his job, he should have the VAT rate applied to the performing arts reduced in half. I regret that the small subsidy to the Irish Theatre Company has been withdrawn, and that the grant to the Arts Council has been cut in real terms by about 8 per cent. This is evidence of the Government's [2496] total lack of commitment to the arts.

The Taoiseach: Not true.

Mr. Haughey: The Government must realise that one of the policy instruments affecting employment is taxation. Tax cuts in the right areas can stimulate employment, and they can be self-financing in a number of ways. Taxable consumption can be increased as a result of cuts, so as to fill the gap caused by lower tax levels, and of course if extra people are employed as a result then the saving to the Exchequer in dole and the gain in PAYE/PRSI must also be added to the balance. The rise in unemployment will not be halted, so long as the current high levels of indirect taxation are maintained in certain areas.

I am deeply concerned for the young people of Ireland today. We must try to understand their outlook and how they see their situation so that we can communicate with them and offer them any assurances we can about their future. They are the future of our country, but they are also the section of our community which has most to lose and which is most vulnerable in the present circumstances. All over the country, young people are crowding into our second and third-level schools, training centres, colleges and institutes, applying themselves to their education and training as no other generation has done or has had the opportunity to do.

What can they or those who have just finished their education and training look forward to? Hope is an essential requirement of the human condition. Young people must be offered hope, and they are at least entitled to be assured that there is a place for them in their own country, that it is their fundamental right to live and work in their own country and to enjoy here a satisfactory and satisfying way of life, the limits of which are only set by their own ambitions and endeavours. I want to urge them not to be discouraged or dismayed. The present state of affairs is not the natural order of things, nor need it be permanent. It represents only a temporary failure of economic [2497] management and political leadership.

This country possesses all the necessary resources, human and material, to enable us to provide standards of living for ourselves, equal to those obtaining anywhere else in Europe.

We are living in a time of major far-reaching economic change. The whole structure and character of industry is being transformed. The application of research, science and sophisticated technology to industry is not alone changing the way in which industrial processes and production are carried on, but it is also resulting in totally new products and services emerging from the technology itself.

High technology affects the economic situation in two ways. First, the technology is brought to bear on the existing industrial processes, making output more efficient and cheaper, but in addition, the technology itself is bringing forward new products and creating new services which have not been provided before. This is particularly evident in the information technology industry which is emerging as the major growth area. A whole new range of products and services is now being provided, as a result of the increasing application of the micro-processor to all forms of economic activity.

I believe that in this country, we are particularly suitably poised to participate fully, successfully and prosperously in this new technological era. We have a relatively small, young, flexible, highly-educated, well-trained population which is capable of adapting easily and readily to new technology, new industrial processes and new services.

We have a comprehensive training and educational system, fully adequate to transform our work-force in whatever technical capability is necessary. We must move rapidly in this direction, take the right decisions about the high-technology areas into which we are going to move and in which we will specialise.

We must encourage our young people to persevere and continue with their courses of education and training. The greatly changed high-technology economic world which is already happening [2498] all around us and to which we must adapt rapidly will require specific skills and qualifications which are directly related to its demands and its products and processes. I would, therefore strongly emphasise to the young people that their future lies in advanced high-technology industries and services and the better they train and equip themselves for this world, the better their prospects will be, even if no particular opportunities seem to exist at present. In this connection, it is significant that home computers are one of the things that are being bought most extensively this Christmas. Our population instinctively see the way we must be going in this new high technology era.

Fianna Fáil economic policy and our policy for employment will include the following: maintenance of a high level of public investment especially in the productive and infrastructural areas, creating jobs in the construction industry, maintaining employment in agriculture and farm services and other sectors; support for employment and investment in the commercial semi-State sector; improvements in the tax situation and the purchasing power of the lower paid; selective reductions in indirect taxation, both excise and VAT; voluntary promotion of a Buy Irish campaign. Here let me recommend the efforts of OGRA Fianna Fáil who have been conducting an active campaign this Christmas throughout the country; and the revival of integrated policies for inner city renewal. My belief is that if these policies, or something along these lines, were followed, there could be a marked impact on the unemployment situation next year.

I would like to reiterate Fianna Fáil's commitment to the role of the commercial semi-State sector. Fianna Fáil have always supported the role of public enterprise in the Irish economy as complementary to the activities of the private sector. The commercial semi-State bodies have played a key role in our industrial development and make an indispensable contribution to employment. Their role is especially important in times of recession and high unemployment when private industry is under severe pressure [2499] frequently short of capital and finding great difficulty in finding markets.

The Taoiseach and other Fine Gael Ministers have indicated in recent days that they are about to close-down significant sections of the State sector. Fianna Fáil had to sustain a barrage of criticism about a decision to carry through the nationalisation of Whitegate and to reopen it. It has now become increasingly obvious that it was the right decision.

During the course of this year Fianna Fáil have played a crucial role in defending the State sector — Whitegate, the Tuam Sugar Factory, the peat-burning stations of the ESB. We put pressure on the Government to reopen Clondalkin, and we now strongly criticise their failure to keep Scarriff open.

We in Fianna Fáil have no doubt about how our natural resources should be used. They belong to all the people in common and must be used for the benefit and the betterment of all the people. We intend to be back in office in plenty of time to make sure that they are so developed and used.

In relation to natural gas I would contend that it is as a result of Fianna Fáil decisions in recent years that the country has begun to reap the benefit of natural gas. The whole strategy for the future development of natural gas was laid during 1980-81, when the Department of Energy were first set up as a separate and independent entity by us under the late George Colley. At the time the rationalisation of Dublin Gas, the building of the Cork-Dublin gas pipeline, the decision in principle to offer gas to Northern Ireland and the extensive use of gas for electricity making huge savings in oil imports were all taken.

Statements by Coalition Ministers about making the best use of our natural resources sound distinctly hollow in the Scarriff context where the Government including Deputy Cluskey decided to close down an industry which processed our native forestry resources.

The decisions in relation to the development of offshore oil are of fundamental, long-term importance, and Fianna Fáil will insist that the whole development [2500] be undertaken in the best interest of the Irish people to whom the resource belongs. We will also insist that the oil is landed for processing at Whitegate. The State must also insist on the maximum use of Irish companies in offshore development.

As far as the young are concerned, we fully support intensive efforts to provide training for unemployed school-leavers and young people. Nevertheless, there are 61,000 young people unemployed and, in this connection, I would emphasise the importance of providing sporting and recreational centres. They are all the more important in times of high youth unemployment. The national programme we started for the provision of sporting and recreation facilities must be carried forward.

While the desperate state of the economy and mounting unemployment are our primary concern, we must also avail of this debate to point out other areas where the Government have been seriously failing to measure up to their responsibilities. I have been a long time in this House listening to speeches by Leaders of parties and the Leader of the Government on occasions such as this. I do not think that in a long time I have heard a more pathetic contribution to a debate of this sort than that made by the Taoiseach here today.

Deputies: Hear, hear.

Mr. Haughey: If we go through the speech what happened is quite clear to anybody with experience of Government. He sent out a message to all Government Departments saying: “Please send me something of a good nature that I can put into my Adjournment speech”. Look at it. All the evidence is there. Ask the Minister for Education is there anything good she can say. Ask the Minister for Labour is there anything good he can say, and so on. That is the speech the Taoiseach delivered to us today.

The Taoiseach: I did not, in fact.

Mr. Haughey: Instead of facing up to the real issues——

[2501] The Taoiseach: It is my speech, not like the Deputy's.

Mr. Haughey: ——and trying to explain to us why his financial policies have failed so disastrously and trying to explain to us whether he has anything to say to us about mounting unemployment, and particularly the tragic situation in which our young unemployed people find themselves. Instead of that, he gave us a fairly long paragraph about national archives and legislation to deal with national archives. That is the sort of speech we got.

Mr. Flynn: He will be in the archives shortly himself.

The Taoiseach: I would come out much better than some people.

Mr. Haughey: Every Deputy realises, especially today, that the nuclear arms race is a matter of deep and serious concern to very many people, particularly in view of the present disturbed state of the world and increasing international tension. This is a time when the Irish Government should be clearly speaking out in favour of a positive policy of multi-lateral disarmament and re-asserting our neutrality.

The chilling reality of which we must all be aware is that there now exist in the world enough, and more than enough, nuclear weapons to totally destroy mankind.

There is an alarming absence of policy and activity by the present Government in this vital area. The Fine Gael Party seem to be divided, with one policy being advocated by the Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and another by the Minister for Defence. I want to call on the Government to wake up to their responsibilities and respond to the very widespread demand there is among the Irish public for a clear declaration that Ireland wants an immediate end to the production and deployment of nuclear weapons and a positive programme of realistic multilateral disarmament.

[2502] I did not intend to say anything about the tragedy of Northern Ireland in this debate because I believe the work of the Forum is continuing. I agree with most of what the Taoiseach said about the work of the Forum. I would have been content to leave the problem of Northern Ireland to one side in the course of this debate and to concentrate instead on the economic and financial problems facing us, and particularly the problem of unemployment.

I must draw attention to one very revealing sentence in what the Taoiseach said. I quote:

The onus now rests firmly on the two sovereign Governments and the main political parties North and South to halt the alienation which the present system is causing and to bring about in its place a system which can accommodate these two traditions.

That is exactly what I said in my first speech to the Fianna Fáil Árd-Fheis when I assumed the leadership of our party. At the time I can recall being severely criticised from every quarter because I wanted to point out clearly that it was the two sovereign Governments who had the responsibility for solving this problem. The situation is the same today. I am glad to see the Taoiseach coming out clearly and firmly in support of that basic thesis of mine.

The Taoiseach: And the political parties North and South.

Mr. Haughey: Of course. I would never deny that. I want to claim that I was the first in the recent past to underline the basic and fundamental truth that the British Government in conjunction with the Irish Government, the two sovereign Governments, have the primary responsibility to solve this problem. We must not for one moment or in any utterance permit the British Government not to face up to that responsibility and see where their duty lies in that respect.

There is one fact above all others which has emerged clearly from the extraordinary series of events at Government level which have taken place during the past [2503] week. That fact is that there is no Cabinet or party colleague whom the Taoiseach is not prepared to abandon; no policy he is not prepared to alter or discard; no principle he is not prepared to sacrifice; no promise he is not prepared to dishonour, in order to hold on to office.

The treatment of Deputy John Bruton will stand out in the political history of our time as something particularly dis-honourable and an example of party political bargaining and manoeuvring at its lowest level.

I have always maintained that this is an inherently unstable Government. It is now clearly seen to the public as a deeply divided Government. This is not a temporary division about a particular issue. It is a deep division of an ideological nature; a division on basic principles; a division on the fundamentals of economic policy, on the type of economy we should have, how it should be managed, controlled and operated. We have now a Cabinet that has to divide by vote on a basic issue such as the use of our natural resources, and a Taoiseach who has to abstain from that vote.

The Taoiseach: I have already said that is false, and the Deputy knows it is false.

Mr. Haughey: That this Government could break up at any moment is now generally recognised. This is a most unfortunate situation for our country to find itself in. This confused and divided Government cannot possibly tackle the difficult economic situation and the financial problems that confront us. The character and strategy of the 1984 budget which will have to be introduced in January, will be of crucial importance for our economic future. We now know that if that budget is brought in by this present Coalition Government, its provisions and its strategy will not be dictated by the requirements of the economic and financial situation, but rather, on the basis of a compromise between two diametrically opposed political doctrines. It will be framed in accordance with party political requirements, rather than on valid economic [2504] and financial principles. Everybody now accepts that this Government's days are numbered. It may go tomorrow or it may continue for some time on a basis of party manoeuvring and compromise. It now no longer has the competence or the capacity to govern in a rational manner.

To this Government I would say that you no longer have the moral authority to govern. You have deprived the old, demoralised the young and depressed the remainder. You have broken too many promises. Your policies have failed and you have lost the confidence of the people.

You owe it to the country to go now rather than later and make way for a government that will tackle the job you have totally failed to do.

Mr. Mac Giolla: I must refer again to a matter which has been raised by Deputy Haughey, the lack of information given to Deputies in regard to the Book of Estimates which we received only yesterday morning. We were all quite shocked at the fund of information which was available to journalists when we listened to the 1.30 p.m. news yesterday and read the newspapers. It was only when we read this morning's newspapers that the amount of information given to journalists became clear. I must protest and add my voice to Deputy Haughey's.

There has been much talk about Dáil reform since this Dáil first met 12 months ago. The reform was intended to make more information available to Deputies, to keep them more up to date with what was happening and to provide a system whereby they could contribute more to legislation. This led to the setting up of committees. A fundamental point was communication to Deputies, allowing them full access to all the information which the Government were prepared to give to the public. It was to be given to Deputies beforehand so that they could make a real contribution in the House. There is a clear indication that there has been no change whatever, and this is most disappointing. The Government's attitude is not one of Dáil reform but of closed government, as far as Deputies [2505] are concerned. When it suits them they will give their interpretation of events to the media so that the Government's answer will be out before Deputies have even seen what the Government proposals are. That is the primary purpose of what occurred yesterday.

I do not think the Taoiseach's speech could be called an Adjournment speech or a speech on the economy. It was simply a commentary on some selected events which have occurred during the past year and the Government's interpretation of them. It was totally colourless and lacking any guidelines for the future. On many of the issues raised, whether the Taoiseach took them from the newspapers or elsewhere, he gave no indication of Government policy or of how he felt a particular issue could be handled to give some hope for the future. There was neither a political nor an economic strategy outlined in regard to any of these issues. As far as the economy was concerned, it was obvious that the Taoiseach wanted to get out of it as quickly as possible and move into other fields where he thought something positive could be said.

The Taoiseach speaks of the present recovery. I presume he refers to the present recovery because of the growth of exports which he mentions, but there is no indication whatever of a recovery at present, nor has the Taoiseach or any of his Ministers throughout the year given an indication that they felt any recovery was in sight. That was the position until yesterday. The Book of Estimates does not give any indication that the Government think we are in recovery. Yet the Taoiseach speaks of the “present recovery”. There is no such recovery.

He talks of a decrease in the growth of unemployment. He specifically gives what I take to be a lie because he tells us that the growth in job losses halved last year from 3,200 per month from November to May to 1,800 from May to November.

Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Deasy): Is that in order?

[2506] An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I did not hear it.

Mr. Mac Giolla: I will withdraw the word “lie” and call it a misinterpretation of the facts. He makes no reference whatever to what he well knows to be the seasonal adjustment required for the summer months over the winter months. Seasonally adjusted, there was no decrease whatever in the growth of unemployment. He does admit that part of the decrease to which he refers is due to training programmes which have taken young people off the unemployment register, but he makes no reference to the seasonally adjusted figures which are always produced by the CSO. The Taoiseach as a statistician — his forte is statistics, not economics — must know that it is totally misleading to give such a figure, attempting to indicate that there has been a decrease in the growth of unemployment during the past six months.

The Book of Estimates makes it clear that the Minister for Finance sees no such decrease in the growth of unemployment, even in 1984, because he projects, according to the newspapers, the loss of 30,000 jobs in 1984. That would certainly not indicate recovery or even a decrease in the growth of unemployment. There is not any recovery evident. We keep hearing that a recovery is beginning to occur abroad, but that would not automatically bring a recovery here while the present policies are pursued. Our problem is much deeper than the worldwide recession and a recovery abroad will not necessarily lead to recovery here. The Taoiseach's only answer is the elimination of overtime and the sharing of the jobs of the 85 per cent who have them with a 15 per cent who have not, thereby cutting the living standards of the 85 per cent but helping to reduce the number on the unemployment register. While he continues to pursue this purely economic and monetary policy of balancing the books the effects of the recession will be felt increasingly here each year. This has been said repeatedly in the past year and next year will be even worse than this disastrous year has been.

There is no reason for the Taoiseach [2507] not making a U-turn now. There is nothing wrong in doing that when it is obvious that one is heading in the wrong direction. He must realise now that he has taken what is totally the wrong road. Even if he succeeds in balancing the books, he will still be in the wrong direction because the economy will be in a disastrous position. Just because Mrs. Thatcher stuck to her guns, the Taoiseach does not have to follow suit. And Mrs Thatcher literally used the guns by way of using the Falklands war to get herself out of a dangerous political situation. She would have been out of office if it had not been for that war. But what has the Taoiseach got by way of saving his bacon? He must realise the misery the policies being followed in Britain have created. There is little scope for him to recover the sort of confidence and credibility that Mrs. Thatcher recovered by her Falklands effort. Certainly even the capturing of Rockall would not put him in that situation.

The Taoiseach endeavoured to point to positive results but he did not expand on any of the points made nor did he give any indication that there was any justification for some of the steps that have been taken by way of achieving these results. He referred to cuts in the Public Service of 4,000 people in the past year and told us that this is the first reduction in the number of public servants. However, he did not give any indication of where these cuts were made. If they were in the administrative area, thereby indicating an effort to bring about more efficient management and use of staff, there would be some justification for them but we have not been given this information. If, on the other hand, the cutbacks were, say, in the Department of Education and related to reductions in teaching staff rather than in the number of civil servants in the Department, the situation would be different. Again, in relation to Health, instead of the cuts being within the Department and within the various health boards that are enormously cumbersome and where apparently there is over-staffing, the cutbacks are in the area of workers in hospitals, either nurses or [2508] other staff within the hospital system. I understand that the cutbacks in Forestry have been in terms of workers out in the forests rather than of personnel in the Department. In other words, the productive workers are losing their jobs while there are no reductions on the administrative side.

In these circumstances it is important from the point of view of credibility that the Taoiseach would indicate to us where exactly the cuts that he speaks of are being made. Then, we can decide whether they have been justified or otherwise, whether the Government are doing a good job in terms of more efficient management or whether they have merely cut back in the area of the services provided for people. If the latter is the case, the cuts may be not only economically dangerous but very bad.

The Taoiseach referred briefly to the problems of the EEC. Despite the great crisis in that respect in the past month or two, the subject warrants only a few lines in his brief. He gives no idea of what is to be the future in terms of the EEC, of where he visualises the problems arising next year or of whether the situation will be much worse, as would appear from present indications. The Taoiseach has not given us any idea of how the Government propose to tackle the problems that may arise or of what support he will be seeking from the people in that regard. We do not know what guidelines or policies he has in this matter. At least he should have indicated that in the next month or two he will be giving us a review of the effects of the policies of the EEC and of what the projections are, not only for the coming year but for the coming four or five years. In this way he would be indicating how our agricultural and industrial policies should be geared.

Moving away from economic problems, the Taoiseach went on to deal with other areas in respect of which he seemed to have more confidence. He referred first to the alleged political interference last year with the Garda, a subject that became part of the agreement for the new Coalition Government in that they promised a judicial inquiry into the allegations. That was a year ago and in September [2509] last when we made some inquiries as to the situation in that regard we were told that the suggestion of a judicial inquiry had not been dropped. However, the matter is still in the air. The Taoiseach seems to indicate that the Government have dealt very well with the matter but what about the judicial inquiry for which there was support from all parties in the House? I am asking the Taoiseach to let us know what has happened in the meantime to prevent him going ahead with the inquiry. Has it been dropped or will it be held? If the Labour Party were serious in considering the matter to be so important at the time as to be part of their agreement for Coalition, are they satisfied to allow it to be dropped in the manner in which the Government have dropped it? The undertaking was repeated by the Minister for Justice in January of this year. That was after he had said that a plan for a judicial inquiry was in train by the Government, but we have not heard a word about that.

The Taoiseach told us this morning that the Tánaiste had taken planning appeals out of the political arena, something many people felt was important. The Planning Appeal Board was established to take planning out of the hands of the Minister. It was felt that because it could be politically motivated by the Minister it would be better to have the board established by people outside the political arena. The Taoiseach has told us that that has been done. I will believe that that board is free of political interference when I am told who has been appointed to it. We have been told that it will be free of political interference because there will be nominating panels of independent bodies selecting people. We all know that many independent bodies can be politically motivated and politically manipulated. We will know whether there is political interference or political manipulation in the Planning Appeal Board when that board is established. It is extraordinary that the board has not been established although the amending legislation was rushed through some months ago. At that time we were told it was of vital importance and that the construction industry were waiting [2510] for a new board to be established to rush through planning appeals. We all thought this was going to be a great thing and we agreed to the legislation but the whole thing is left hanging in the air. We do not know what is happening. The Planning Appeal Board has not been established and we cannot express a view on whether it is free of political manipulation and political interference.

The Taoiseach had the gall to refer to the Clondalkin paper mills this morning. He told us that the long drawn out problem at the mills had been resolved by John Bruton. The Taoiseach told us he was happy that the problem had been resolved. The Taoiseach should be ashamed even to mention the deal that was made.

Mr. Deasy: That is not fair.

Mr. Mac Giolla: He should be ashamed because the deal has not done anything for Clondalkin mills, the workforce or anything to ensure that papermaking will develop here. A type of backyard operation is being put into this magnificent mill for an outstanding workforce to operate. Any backyard merchant could have thought up such an agreement.

Mr. Daly: A con job.

Mr. Deasy: The Minister for Industry and Energy did a wonderful job.

Mr. Mac Giolla: The further use of semantics does not help.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Minister for Agriculture will have an opportunity of speaking later.

Mr. Deasy: I want to contradict the Deputy.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Minister will have an opportunity to contradict the Deputy at the appropriate time.

Mr. Deasy: The Deputy did not get sufficient political mileage out of this and that is his problem. The Deputy went down like a flat tyre.

[2511] An Ceann Comhairle: The Minister will have to cease interrupting.

Mr. Mac Giolla: It was not a deal and it did not have anything to do with the commitments given. We had plenty of semantics about whether there was a commitment, what the words meant, whether the Minister for Industry gave the commitment, whether he was at a meeting, whether he was at the meeting earlier and was not present later and so on, but the facts are that as far as the public, Congress and the workers are concerned, they understood that there was a commitment. That was not denied over a period of six months.

Mr. Deasy: Did the Deputy see the apology from Congress?

Mr. Mac Giolla: If the Minister read that statement he would see that Congress made it clear that while they agreed John Bruton's semantics were probably correct, he was not present at the time they thought he was——

An Ceann Comhairle: I notice that the Deputy is inclined to refer to office holders by their Christian name. It would be more appropriate if he gave them their office title.

Mr. Deasy: The Minister concerned did such a good job that he has annoyed The Workers' Party, and the other Opposition party.

Mr. Mac Giolla: I agree with the Chair, and I apologise, but I was led into that error by reading the Taoiseach's speech.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy will notice that in his speech the Taoiseach prefaced the Christian name by the title of the office, and that is in order.

Mr. Mac Giolla: The Chair will forgive me for saying that he is mistaken in this. When I mentioned Clondalkin paper mills I referred to the Taoiseach's statement to the effect that the long drawn [2512] out problem of Clondalkin paper mills had also been resolved by John Bruton.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair must have nodded at that stage. The Chair noticed in the Taoiseach's speech that several Christian names were mentioned but in most cases they were preceded by the title.

Mr. P. Gallagher: It is possible that the Taoiseach's speech was prepared at a time when he did not know which portfolio Deputy Bruton had.

Mr. Mac Giolla: The reference I gave was not preceded by the title. We want to know the Government's attitude, policy, strategy or tactics. How do they feel with regard to papermaking, the Scarriff chipboard factory and timber processing? What is their policy for the use of our forests? Are they satisfied with the way our maturing forests are deteriorating because we do not have a processing industry? Are the Government satisfied that the big multi-national company brought to Clonmel at a cost of millions of pounds to taxpayers is not producing the jobs they were supposed to produce? Are they satisfied that all the forests in the Minister area are under the control of that multi-national company, Medite in Clonmel, a company that is putting all other processors out of business? Are the Government satisfied that due to the closure of places like Clondalkin, Scarriff, Athy, Munster Chipboard and so on our sawmills are non-viable because they do not have any place to send their waste products? The sale of such waste products helped to pay the wages of the workers of those factories, but because it is impossible to dispose of them we can expect practically all small sawmills to close down in the coming year.

Are the Government satisfied that after 60 years of putting taxpayers' money into this great natural resource, our forests, we will not be using the timber at home and must export it? Are the Government concerned that our construction industry has to import timber, that one firm that produced timber for the home industry closed down a few [2513] months ago and Woodfab of Wicklow may be in a similar position next year?

Mr. Deasy: Is the Deputy aware that Munster Chipboard would be open still if it was not for his crowd?

An Ceann Comhairle: There should not be any interruptions.

Mr. Daly: The Minister has made a serious allegation.

Mr. Mac Giolla: I do not know what the Minister was referring to when he used the words “his crowd” but it is his crowd that closed Scarriff, his crowd that refused to do anything about Clondalkin paper mills and his crowd who should give us the answers. The Government should have some policy. They should tell us if they realise the number of jobs that could be created in the timber processing industry. Do they see job creation as part of Government responsibility? It is my view that the Government do not think it is part of their responsibility and comments I have heard indicate that their view is similar to the Thatcher-Reagan attitude, that it is not the responsibility of the Government to create jobs, that it is a matter for private individuals and if they do not wish to do so that is their business, not the business of the Government.

Is that their attitude? There is an absolute lack of policy or strategy on job creation, on the development of our natural resources, whether they be in the form of timber, oil or gas. Later in his speech, the Taoiseach had a short paragraph about oil discovery off Waterford. We all know there is the possibility of a commercial oil find there and I am sure the Minister for Agriculture knows more about it than the Taoiseach.

Mr. Deasy: He left it all to Deputy Collins. I am not covetous. Deputy Collins has the tankers while I have only super-levies and super-headaches.

Mr. Mac Giolla: If the Minister for Agriculture sees the possibility of a commercial oil find I am sure he is thinking [2514] of job creation and the huge unemployment rate in Waterford with its consequent massive crisis. I am sure he is hoping that the oil find off Waterford will be used to ensure that the people of Waterford, and the country in general, will get the benefits.

However, we did not see anything about this in the Taoiseach's speech. He did not even hint whether the Government have even a short-term policy or a long-term strategy for the use of the natural resources of gas and oil if it is there. The only indication he gave us about the further find of natural gas is that it must be put to use.

What kind of strategy have the Government if there is a further gas find of equal size to that already in use? Have they any plans for it, or do they intend to pipe it to Britain? Have they any concept of how it can be used for industrial development with consequent job creation? Do they intend to get rid of it in some way? Have they any policy in regard to the possibility of converting it into other chemical products? What do they think of ESB use of oil and natural gas? Is there any energy policy? The Taoiseach has not given us any clues today or during the year.

Today we expected the Taoiseach to give us and the people some hope that although things are hard at the moment and that there will be a tough budget, they can have hope that our timber, oil and gas will be put to good use to create new industries with consequent extra jobs. If the people had been given such hope they would have been prepared to take the hard things, but the Taoiseach did not give the slightest hope that the Government have any policy except to give all the natural gas that is left to private enterprise, to any private enterprise that might wish to use it, and if that private enterprise does not intend to create jobs, does not have the incentive to make millions of pounds for that purpose, there is nothing the Government can do about it. That is the Government's attitude. I am sure the Minister for Agriculture was shocked to find only 8½ lines in the Taoiseach's speech devoted to Agriculture.

[2515] Mr. Deasy: He left it to me.

Mr. Mac Giolla: All we were told is that the Government have revised the farm modernisation scheme. It took him four lines to say that. He said the Government have great new proposals for land leasing. That is the end of it. We expected more than that. We did not expect him to give us details of Government policy in relation to every crop, but he should have given us some indication of his broad agricultural strategy. He knows that agriculture is in grave crisis, that there is need for increased production, need to bring all the land into use. He did not tell us what he intends to do in regard to co-operatives or the food processing industry, which is in danger. Has he any strategy that would improve that industry, including meat and vegetable procesing? He did not tell us that he knows this is a major issue, that there is a major crisis in regard to restructuring, that dairy farmers will have to move away from that business and get into other productions. He did not tell us that the best use is being made of our land.

During the year the Taoiseach made a number of speeches and so did other members of the Government but they all clearly lacked any strategy for the future that would give our people hope. The people want to know whether the Government have any plain commonsense, whether they understand the effects of their policies on people in their homes and in our streets. Do they realise the effect last year's budget has had on our people? Does the Taoiseach know how our people are living, or nearly dying? Is all this a mere statistic to him? Does he realise that one million people are on the poverty line? Does he know about the thousands of men and women who cannot put food on their tables for their children, or clothe them, have the kids looking a bit respectable going off to school, or how to find the £5 or the £10 the local parish priest looks for from parents to try to keep the school going, or whatever? Does he realise the effect of cutbacks on people's lives? There is no [2516] indication that this is realised. There is no indication that the Taoiseach is in a hurry about seeing that this level of poverty is eliminated, about seeing that unemployment is halted. There is no indication of any change in the industrial strategy which was set down at the time of Lemass and no one has ever looked at it since.

The IDA was given the job of looking after our industrial strategy and, no matter how many places close down, we are all quite confident the IDA will get a new industry in and that will make up for all the job loses. We carried on for a decade in that way, the IDA doing a magnificent job with, of course, taxpayers' money, bringing in new industries, getting them established and covering off in that way for the ones that were closing down, so much so that we did not even notice all the closures that were taking place. New multi-national companies were opening up, giving new jobs, introducing new technology and so on, and that was all fine.

It is shown in the Estimates now that clearly the IDA has failed. They have over-built factories all over the country. The country is spattered with huge empty factories, so the Estimate cuts back on the building programme. It could have cut back altogether. It cut back £2 million. It could have cut the other £12 million as well because there are plenty of factories there and nobody to work in them and nobody to run them. Secondly they are cutting back their grants for the IDA. The reason they have cut back on the grants for the IDA is because the IDA are not able to use the money. They have not got the people coming in. They cannot get them in any more. They are going to various Third World countries, like Taiwan, Korea, the Fiji Islands, or wherever. They get a better deal there. They took a lot of ideas from the IDA, who were top class in their field, but now they are able to winnow these industries away from the IDA. The IDA is not in the same league any more, and therefore the old IDA strategy has failed and the Government have not yet re-examined the situation and said what other strategy [2517] should be adopted now that the one which kept us going for 12 years has totally collapsed.

Have we any new strategy? That is the kind of thing we want to hear from the Taoiseach. Has he got any new ideas here? Has he got any ideas? Is he prepared to listen to ideas from other people? There is no indication from his speech that he has learned anything, that he is open to any new ideas, that he is prepared to change industrial strategy, prepared to review industrial strategy. He has given no indication that he has any idea as to what can be done with the natural resources we have in our land, our forests, our seas, our minerals, our oil, our gas, from the point of view of a new industrialisation programme. He has not given us that. This is what the public out there are looking for. This is why we had the attitude of the public out there when Deputy Frank Cluskey resigned from Government last week. There was various speculation as to whether or not the Government was in crisis, whether or not an election was coming. The general attitude of the public out there was they did not particularly want an election. They had enough elections.

But one thing they do want — they want to see this Government out. They do not see them as doing anything relevant to them. Anything they do just brings the public out there down further through taxation, PAYE, PRSI, 1 per cent Youth Employment Levy, another 1 per cent just for nothing because the Government want another 1 per cent, and then the various cutbacks in education and health and on services, local government services, the introduction of water rates, and so on, which is just another tax. These services have already been paid for out of the taxes the public have paid. That is what taxation is for. PAYE and the 1 per cent levy et cetera is to pay for all these services, but now the Government charge for the services as well and the people feel this is double taxation and the people cannot take any more.

The people have had enough. They do not want an election. They have had enough of elections, but they do not want [2518] this Government, and, until the Government face up to this and take a new turn and changes their attitude and their policy there will be no improvement. The best way of cutting back on spending and increasing revenue is to increase jobs and increase employment. The more jobs you create the less you spend on social welfare and the more you get in in taxation to the Revenue Commisioners. The more the economy ticks over the better it is for Government and the Minister for Finance. The Government must alter their tactics to balance the books by increased wealth creation, increased production, increased jobs and employment. I said last year that unless they altered their tactics to that of wealth creation and balancing the books in that way then everyone in this country and in this Chamber will be trying to see they are brought to their knees, that there is a general election, because that is the only way, and I think the coming budget will make very clear to people whether or not they want this Government out.

Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Deasy): At times I am very impressed by the social concern of The Workers' Party. There are a great many genuine people in that party who have a very strong social conscience. Of course in a recessionary period such as this and with the policies they adumbrate The Workers' Party have attracted a great many idealistic people to their ranks. I believe they have a significant role to play in the future of this country and in the Parliament of this country. Having said that, I feel they can be very misguided at times. They blame our problems on multi-national companies. They talk about job creation or the lack of job creation in the same breath. We depend very heavily for job creation on multi-national companies, and it ill behoves anybody who is keen to see increased employment criticising multinationals.

Mr. Mac Giolla: You are not bringing in any more of them.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Order.

[2519] Mr. Deasy: Whether they are American, British, German, Japanese, or whatever, they are doing a great service to the country. They are berated instead of being appreciated. They are a very major factor in the industrial fabric. They create very large-scale employment. That fact should not be lost sight of.

I found Deputy Mac Giolla criticising the IDA for not creating more jobs, saying jobs are going to places like Korea, the Fiji Islands or whatever. I would suggest to Deputy Mac Giolla that he might have a look at his own influence in this regard. Is it because of militancy — I do not like to use the word “militancy”— is it because of extreme left-wing agitation that a lot of these companies are not coming to Ireland that they are going elsewhere where there are better labour relations and less such agitation? People should have a look at themselves and not blame people who are genuinely creating jobs. Maybe they should blame themselves for adopting an attitude not conducive to attracting these companies to this country. That is a very relevant point, and it needs to be reiterated time and again.

The Workers' Party have a very important role to play in the politics of this country. I do not believe that they have their priorities right in this regard. To tell the Government to do a U-turn and thereby create more jobs is absolutely ridiculous. We must first of all get the finances of the country into proper shape. We would love to increase employment in the morning, but obviously the position of the economy is such that it is not possible to create massive new employment, as we would wish. It is just not possible. It will take some years for us to create the proper climate. Deputy Mac Giolla was right in saying that what we need is to create increased wealth if we are to have new industries and considerably increased employment. He is dead right in that. That is a far healthier way to look at the problem. To create employment you must have wealth, you must have incentives. We all appreciate that the taxation burden is considerable and is a disincentive for people to work. I do not [2520] think that the Deputy diagnosed the problem in the proper manner.

I shall refer to my own Department from here on. This year has been a good one for the agricultural sector. Output has increased and the industry has benefited from the reduction in the rate of inflation, which is expected to continue next year. The early months of 1983 were reasonably favourable for farmers but the position changed dramatically with the months of April and May being the coldest and wettest in sixty years. Then we had a period of good warm weather but with near drought conditions, which adversely affected the main tillage enterprises. I am sorry if I sound like a weather bulleting on RTE but I am giving a background to the year in general in agriculture. In recent months we again had favourable weather conditions with consequential savings in input usage. It is a measure of the resilience of farming that, despite these varying conditions the volume of gross agricultural output increased by over 3 per cent and is now at its highest level ever, influenced by positive growth in both the milk and the beef sectors. Milk output increased by some 7.5 per cent, while milk prices increased by some 8.5 per cent with the result that milk output will be worth £850 million this year at farm gate. The output of cattle, worth over £800 million, increased by 2 per cent in volume and by 7 per cent in price terms.

An increase in the use of farm materials, largely to counteract weather conditions, has limited the increase in net agricultural output to 1 per cent. When allowance is made for other farming expenses and subsidies, family farm income increased by over 11 per cent in nominal terms in 1983. Allowing for inflation and the fall in the farm labour force, this represents an increase of over 5 per cent in real income per head.

The recovery in agriculture in 1982 has been continued and been reinforced in 1983. Output increased in many of the main commodities. Farm incomes have continued to rise in both nominal and real terms. This recovery should be built upon over the coming years so that agriculture can make its full contribution [2521] towards the revival of the national economy.

As Deputies are aware, it had been hoped that the question of changes in the Common Agricultural Policy arising from Commission proposals last July would be resolved along with other major issues at the recent session of the European Council in Athens. Unfortunately, it did not prove possible to arrive at solutions satisfactory to all on any of those issues. This means that the Community discussions of the CAP will have to continue for at least a few more months before the problems can be resolved and, as is well known, our principal objection to the Commission's agricultural proposals is that they suggest a super-levy on milk production above the fixed quota. We find this unacceptable in its application to this country in view of the damaging effect on our whole economy. Following intensive contacts by the Taoiseach, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and myself with the other member States it was gratifying that by the time of the Athens Council there was widespread recognition within the Community of our position.

The Greek presidency put forward some compromise suggestions which, though not acceptable to us, nevertheless represented a welcome step in the right direction. I sometimes feel that due recognition of the progress which was being made is not given in this country or is not understood in this country.

I will just recap as to the extent of the original Commission's proposals. In July, the Commission proposed that milk production of all member States should be at the 1981 level plus 1 per cent. Eventually, the Greek presidency made a new proposal in the month of November which gave Ireland a special position vis-à-vis the other countries. We were specifically named as a country which should get an exemption until 1983 whereas no other country was named in the document for any special treatment. That was a very significant move forward, particularly for us, in view of the fact that our milk production last year and this year has increased enormously, by something [2522] like 9 per cent last year and 7.5 per cent, we believe, in the current year.

Last week at the Summit meeting in Athens the presidency put forward a further proposal which gave us a base of 1983 plus 2 per cent. That was not a very major shift but it was another move in the right direction. On Tuesday morning the Greek presidency put forward another document which would allow Ireland to produce milk at the 1983 level plus 4 per cent increase in 1984, plus 3 per cent increase in 1985, plus 2 per cent increase in 1986 and 1 per cent increase in 1987. This is unacceptable to us, but nevertheless I must say that it was a considerable advance over our initial position and we greatly appreciate the efforts made by the Greek presidency to be of assistance in this regard.

The Taoiseach in particular deserves the greatest of credit for the work he has done in the past few months to gain support for our case in Europe. I do not think it is appreciated in this country as it should be, but I am very much aware that his contacts in Europe have been invaluable to us on this whole super-levy question, and while people may be critical and say we have not got complete derogation, have not got what they would like us to get, the advance we have made on the original position has been enormous and has been extremely valuable. The very intensive and successful lobby which has been carried out by the Taoiseach has been largely responsible for that improvement.

The Community still face the task of the milk surplus problem while ensuring the the measures taken are equitable between member States. I assure the House that the Government will continue to pursue this matter with firmness and diligence. We must be aware of the likely problems which will arise if the next Summit meeting in Paris in March does not reach a successful conclusion. It is all very well to say that we should get everything we demand, but it is important that that Summit succeeds, more so from our point of view than from the point of view of any of the other nine member States. We are more dependent on the Community than any of the other countries and definitely [2523] more dependent on the CAP than any of the other nine member States.

The whole problem at the Athens Summit resolved around reform of the CAP because, as Deputies know, it accounts for two-thirds of the spending of the Community. The Stuttgart Summit in June made it clear that spending on agriculture would have to be brought under control. Obviously some of the heads of state last week were not satisfied that this was the case and that the moves which are being made would bring it sufficiently under control. That is why they would not agree to the proposals put forward or to any further demands by us and some other states.

It is a very serious situation. If there is a breakdown of the Paris Summit obviously the whole debate will go on for a further three months. That will create a greater air of uncertainty, which is not conductive to our interests. It may be that the whole concept of a super-levy on milk will be abandoned. People would do well to bear that in mind and to examine the likely alternatives.

Some people said at the conclusion of the unsuccessful Athens Summit that the whole concept and future of the Community is now in jeopardy. The CAP is under very serious strain, and nobody should underestimate that fact. It is a very dangerous position as far as this country is concerned. If the idea of a milk super-levy were abandoned the obvious alternative would be price reductions for agricultural commodities. This has been promoted by the British in particular and is acceptable to some other countries. That would be far more detrimental to us than the super-levy proposition. We must see that, if at all possible, the Paris Summit in March reaches a successful conclusion. If it does not we could have a more uncertain climate than is presently the case.

Deputy Mac Giolla said that the Taoiseach should have been able to spell out for us what the consequences of the Summit failure will be. The Taoiseach could not do that and I cannot do it, because nobody in Europe knows what the consequences will be. I was at a Council [2524] meeting in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday of this week and there was a complete air of uncertainly about. When I say uncertainty I do not want to be scare mongering. I do not believe that anything dramatic will happen, certainly not until after the March Summit, but people are very apprehensive. We cannot be too sure of the future in Europe until after that Summit.

I do not believe there will be any significant changes in the interim as far as farm prices are concerned. I know this is a worry for the farming community. The position is not as difficult in the period up to the Paris Summit as some people would lead us to believe. If the budget is passed in Strasbourg it means that farm prices will continue as they have been, and if it is not passed then the Commission will operate on the basis of the 1983 budget. When we consider that the 1984 budget is only 4 per cent in excess of the 1983 budget we can see that there will not be any dramatic changes. There may be some further controls and closer monitoring of the financial position but there will not be any collapse in prices. We have to make every endeavour to see that the March Summit is successful and that we get a satisfactory conclusion in those talks.

I would like to point out the dangers, not alone in price reductions but things like export refunds which are worth a lot of money to our farmers. They could all be affected to some degree if the Paris Summit does not succeed. My message is that people should be very aware of the situation, they should tread carefully and weigh up all the prospects. Some of these are fairly daunting and could be very demanding to our economy generally.

I would not want to give the impression that the Community's difficulties are confined to dairy products. There are marketing imbalances in quite a number of agricultural products, not all of which are produced in this country. There is a difficult overall position on the financing of the Community, which has an unfortunate impact on the CAP. New resources are needed but, as yet, there is no agreement for providing these. As the House knows the British, in particular, will not [2525] agree to any new resources or any increase in resources unless agreement is reached on spending in the agricultural sector. We face a period of considerable austerity at Community level in which saving will have to be made. So far as agriculture is concerned, it is my intention to ensure that the burden of any necessary savings will be distributed fairly between member States and that third countries, which share Community markets, will share those burdens.

Some people have been critical of me because I agreed to a two month roll-over regarding the import of butter from New Zealand. I agreed to that after two very tough days of meetings earlier this week. I believe it was the prudent approach to adopt. We cannot afford, in the talks relating to the milk super-levy and other contingent matters, to make bad friends and to alienate people. It would be stupid — that is the only word I can use to describe it — to do so. If countries regard our attitude as hostile and unfriendly then it could seriously affect our negotiating position with regard to the super-levy on milk.

An Ceann Comhairle: Will the Minister move the adjournment of the debate?

Mr. Deasy: How long more have I got?

An Ceann Comhairle: The Minister has as long as he likes. There is no limit on the debate.

Dr. O'Hanlon: I thought it was half an hour.

Mr. Deasy: I will not need half an hour.

An Ceann Comhairle: Maybe, but it is not an order of the House.

Debate adjourned.

Business suspended at 1.30 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.

Mr. Deasy: I think we agreed to a time limit.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair made [2526] it clear before the adjournment that he has no knowledge of any arrangement and there is no Order of the House.

Mr. Barrett (Dún Laoghaire): On a point of order, we regret that it is not on the Order of Business but there is an understanding that there will be a maximum of half an hour. Everybody has been told so.

Dr. O'Hanlon: That is agreed on this side.

Mr. Deasy: I will conclude within ten minutes. That will be my half hour.

An Ceann Comhairle: Might I make that an order? It is agreed that the remaining speeches will be half an hour. Is there a time for the final speakers?

Mr. Barrett (Dún Laoghaire): Tomorrow at 5.30 p.m.


An Ceann Comhairle: The Minister for Agriculture has seven minutes.

Mr. Deasy: Before the break I was speaking about the importation of New Zealand butter into the EEC, specifically Britain, in 1983. The level of these imports was 87,000 tonnes. The Commission have put forward a proposal to cover a five-year period, which would mean that there will be a reduction in the level of that importation. Immediately it will mean that in 1984 the level of importation will be 83,000 tonnes or a reduction of 4,000 tonnes, and in each of the subsequent four years there will be a further reduction of 2,000 tonnes, eventually working itself down to a level of 75,000 per annum. I have refused at the Council of Ministers to accept that proposal, and I will continue to refuse to accept any long-term proposal until the outcome of the debate on the milk super-levy is finalised satisfactorily in our favour. That decision will most likely be in March, but it may be put back further, depending on the outcome of the Summit in Paris. I have agreed to a two-month roll-over, in [2527] other words that they be allowed to import at the proposed 83,000 tonnes level for a two-month period. I think that is the proper thing to do in present circumstances while we are involved in very delicate negotiations and for us to be seen to be belligerent and antagonistic would counter-productive and would do our case regarding the super-levy a great deal of harm. I do not mind if people are critical of the fact that I have agreed to this two-month roll-over period, but I must look at the broader aspect of our whole agricultural scene, in particular with regard to the milk sector. It is in the interest of Ireland at present to be agreeable and generate goodwill rather than create an antagonistic atmosphere. We will review our strategy in regard to these imports in the light of the outcome of the Summit.

In regard to imports from third countries the cuts in agricultural spending must be fairly distributed between member States and third countries. It is against this background in general that the Commission will be formulating its price proposals for 1984. While it may be premature to speculate on their content, it is almost certain that they will incorporate many of the main proposals already put forward in the common agricultural reform package. On price policy, it will be recalled that the Commission considers it necessary to pursue a restrictive line that will take account not only of the farm income situation but also that of the market and the budget. Where the market situation is particularly serious the Commission suggest the possibility of freezing or even reducing prices. The Commission will be presenting its price proposals early in the New Year and they will then be considered by the Council of Ministers for agriculture. It is likely that they will be considered side by side with the other proposals aimed at reforming the CAP. My objective during the forthcoming discussions will be to achieve the best possible outcome for Irish agriculture by ensuring that its special circumstances are recognised in any package of measures which are finally adopted. As I said this morning, I do not want people to get the [2528] impression that there will be drastic reductions. If there are reductions I anticipate that they will be relatively minor. I would not like people to get an impression of doom and gloom.

I should like to turn now to the 1984 Estimate for Agriculture. For 1984 the Estimate covers the Land Commission, which formerly was the subject of a separate Estimate. The change reflects the incorporation of the lands work more closely into the overall work of my Department and the change in emphasis from the traditional policy of land acquisition and distribution towards the current approach of encouraging leasing, group purchase, re-arrangement etc. My Minister of State, Deputy Connaughton, is deeply involved in the land leasing arrangements which are being drawn up.

The gross Estimate of £390 million for 1984 shows an increase of 10 per cent on the 1983 outturn. Appropriations-in-aid go up by some £30 million. The bulk of this represents increased receipts from the EEC, but it also includes receipts from the reintroduction of the disease levies and from higher inspection fees at slaughtering premises, which the House approved earlier to-day.

One of the major items in the Estimate is that for the Farm Modernisation Scheme. Certain modifications to the scheme were announced in the 1983 budget. These were the suspension of grants for investment in farm buildings and fixed assets with an estimated saving of £10.3 million and the termination of some other aids under the scheme resulting in a further saving of £2.5 million. The primary objective of the modifications was to save money in 1983 and to provide an opportunity of reviewing the operation of the scheme. A detailed reappraisal of the Farm Modernisation Scheme was undertaken with the object of ensuring that the scheme would operate in the most productive and efficient manner possible. Submissions were considered from organisations connected with the agricultural industry.

I might say that EEC Directive 72/159 on which the Farm Modernisation Scheme is based is due to expire this year. The EEC Commission has recently put [2529] forward proposals for a review of the Directive and a further revision of the Farm Modernisation Scheme may be required in the light of the eventual decision of the Council of Ministers on the Commission's proposals.

In considering the grant levels and scope of the revised scheme it has been necessary to try to balance the need for agricultural investment with the availability of Exchequer resources at a time of severe financial constraint. The highest priority in the new scheme is the provision of suitable housing for livestock. At present some two million cattle in this country are not housed in winter and this affects the quality of the herd. It is about one-third of the total herd.

In the Estimate we are also providing a substantial increase in the hardship fund for disease eradication. An extra £1 million is being provided for the calved heifer scheme which attracted 23,000 applications in 1983, an increase of 8,000 over last year.

There is an increase of some £32 million for market intervention. This reflects the heavy stocks already in intervention and the further increase expected during 1984. The gross increase of £32 million to which I have referred will, however offset by an increase of some £27 million in appropriations in aid from EEC receipts. This is a widespread problem in the Community with the vast amount of butter and especially skim milk products which we have in intervention.

All these moneys involve a very substantial benefit for the agricultural industry to assist its development and enable it to make a significant contribution to our economic recovery.

Dr. O'Hanlon: I should like to deal with a few of the comments of the Minister. He said there was a certain amount of support for an exemption for us on the basis of the production of milk up to 1983. That would be totally unacceptable to us. If the super-levy is introduced it will be devastating for the whole country. In the Ceann Comhairle's constituency and in mine there are many small dairy farmers and there is considerable farm labour in the various co-operatives, and [2530] the super-levy would have serious consequences for the area. Having regard to the development stage of the milk industry here and the low yield per cow compared with other European countries, such a proposal would be totally unacceptable to us. The Minister and the Government are aware that any constructive proposals that come from them will have our full support. I am concerned the other EEC States do not realise the gravity of the situation for us, that the case has not been made forcefully enough to them. I ask the Government to look at that matter.

With regard to butter imports form New Zealand, while I accept — to use the Minister's words — that it would be stupid to make bad friends, nevertheless the EEC is confronted with a situation where there is an excessive amount of dairy products. It is wrong that any member State should continue to import dairy products from outside the EEC, particularly the UK who have increased their imports of butter from New Zealand. They are now importing 33 per cent of their needs as against 24 per cent ten years ago. The Minister said that the Farm Modernisation Scheme was due to expire——

Mr. Deasy: No, I said it was to be reintroduced.

Dr. O'Hanlon: The words he used were “due to expire”.

Mr. Deasy: If I said that I wish to correct it.

Dr. O'Hanlon: My comment is that it expired on 9 February when the Coalition Government introduced their budget. With regard to the Estimates, I should like to know if a third document was published yesterday which Members of this House did not receive. I received a copy of the current Estimates and of a summary of the public capital programme for 1984 but I did not receive anything with the information that was available to the newspapers this morning. I wonder if there was a third document which Members did not receive.

[2531] The Estimates were promised in September. It is now on the eve of Christmas when the bad news has arrived. It is somewhat similar to last year when there was bad news about school transport on Christmas Eve. Because of the importance of the Estimates and the importance this House should attach to discussing them, it is disappointing that this year we got them in the last two days of the session. It is obvious that, as happened last year, the poorer sections of the community will suffer. I refer to people who are sick, the unemployed, small farmers and PAYE workers. They will suffer in 1984 as they did in 1983.

Looking through the Estimates one wonders what the abortive effort at financial rectitude in 1983 has done for the country. It has undermined public confidence and it has created hardship for many. The Minister for Agriculture said we should increase our wealth, but if we are to do this the Government must first look at their own policies. The most serious economic problem is the lack of employment particularly for young people. While the ESRI predicted that unemployment would stabilise in 1984, the Minister for Finance has admitted that the figure will rise by 30,000 next year. At present there are 200,000 people unemployed, of whom 61,000 are young people. While I accept that there is a world recession, it has to be said that the rising rate of unemployment is as a result of Government policy, of their cuts in public expenditure and of increased taxation. In other EEC countries the rise in unemployment was kept below 1 per cent but here unemployment rose by 3 per cent in 1983. Some 15 per cent of our workforce is unemployed, the highest rate in the EEC.

Last Tuesday the Minister for Social Welfare introduced a Supplementary Estimate and he told us there was a shortfall of £35 million in the amount of PRSI collected. He looked for £70 million, £35 million to make up the shortfall in PRSI contributions and £20 million to pay unemployment benefit and pay-related benefit to the additional people who [2532] found themselves unemployed as a result of the Government's policies.

This morning the leader of our party mentioned that £100 million was supposed to be put into public construction last year but we heard nothing about that. Earlier this year the Taoiseach told us in this House that the policies of the Government were directly opposed to the type of policies which were necessary to create employment. He was pursuing a policy of financial rectitude. However, in the statements since and in the Estimates there has not been any evidence of an improvement in the finances of the country.

Looking through the Book of Estimates one sees that with regard to health expenditure there will be a reduction of 4 per cent in the amount available. The most serious consequence of this will be the loss of jobs. It is estimated that 2,500 jobs will be lost throughout the health boards. This is very serious for the people concerned and for young people who are looking for jobs. I wonder if the trade unions have been or will be consulted about this? What is their view on the loss of 2,500 jobs?

The amount available to the general medical services is to be reduced by 4 per cent. Students who had medical cards up to now will lose them. If there were phenomenal wealth in the country one would accept that one could remove medical cards from students whose parents were wealthy, but in the vast majority of cases the students are the children of people who have great difficulty in making ends meet. Even though they may have higher education grants, many people have to struggle to allow their children to attend university. The Government are now going to take medical cards off students so that if they are ill, parents on very low disposable incomes will have to find money to pay for their children's health care.

The newspapers got a very good briefing on the implications of the Estimates, which is more than Deputies got. Have the Government made a decision that there will be no increase in the eligibility guidelines from 1 January for those applying for general medical services? [2533] Since the general medical services scheme was set up in 1972 the guidelines for eligibility limits have increased, for the first five or six years twice a year on 1 January and 1 July and, in subsequent years, the guidelines increased on 1 January each year. If the guidelines are not increased in 1984 it will be the first time that this has happened and it would create tremendous hardship for people who are already suffering because of their lower disposal incomes.

With regard to the drug refund scheme, a patient will now have to pay £28 per month before they can claim back from their health boards. When one considers that this time last year, when the Government took office, it was only £16 one can see how the Government are raising money through the health services and penalising those who are just outside the limits for medical care. We have discussed here on numerous occasions the drugs that were removed from the general medical services list, and if you cast your mind back, a Cheann Comhairle, it was that issue that brought down the Fianna Fáil Government last year. The Taoiseach was one of the harshest critics of the Fianna Fáil decision to remove some drugs, and the Coalition Government promised that they would review the situation. In fairness, they did review it but then they added another 200 items to the list excluded from the general medical service. That shows the sincerity of their contribution last November.

There are to be increased charges for patients in private and semi-private hospitals. This will create an extra burden on those who wish to join the Voluntary Health Insurance and will mean a massive increase in their subscriptions, as the Minister intends to raise £5 million by way of increased charges for private accommodation. It is no harm to ask at this stage why the Minister has adopted such a doctrinaire socialist approach to the creation of private accommodation. Why has he objected to the building of private nursing homes in Beaumont and Tallaght? If people are prepared to pay for their own health care in a private hospital surely it would make good economic sense to allow them to have the [2534] facilities of a private nursing home which would effect great savings to the Exchequer? It would also make sense in terms of good health care because it would be much better for everybody, including those in public hospitals, if the medical consultants and staff were on the same campus as their private and public patients. It would save them from having to commute, say, from Beaumont to Dún Laoghaire and perhaps, therefore, not being available to their public patients.

The voluntary hospitals are only getting an increase of 2 per cent, which will probably mean a net reduction of about 6 per cent. This will create a very serious problem for the health service. According to today's newspaper, there will be no more new hospitals built pending a review of the existing programme. I hope that, as a result of the Minister's action earlier this year in my health board area, this does not mean that the hospital in Cavan will not be built. In that context I ask the Minister to allow Cavan hospital to be built as planned and to retain the maternity and other services in Monaghan.

I was surprised to learn that the Health Education Bureau will only receive the same amount of money as last year. The previous year, the Fianna Fáil Government gave them an extra £250,000 for the purpose of combating the serious drug problem which exists, expecially in Dublin. It is surprising in view of the fact that the Minister said in answer to a question a week ago that he fully supported the World Health Organisation, that his programme for health care for all in 2000 lays very special emphasis on the need for self health care and educating people to the need for developing good health.

I do not know how the filling of vacancies operates in the health service because of the embargo. I hope that areas are not going to be left without doctors because of the policy of filling one vacancy in three.

With regard to social welfare, the significant figure is an increase of 21 per cent for unemployment assistance. This obviously means that the Government expect unemployment to rise by about 30,000 next year. This is a defeatist attitude [2535] on the part of the Government, and the figure does not include whatever increases, if any, may be announced in the budget although it allows for an increase in the numbers applying for unemployment assistance. Evidently there is not much hope for those looking for work, especially young people.

Those on PAYE are again going to be penalised this year. The ceiling of their disability or unemployment benefit is going to be further reduced to 75 per cent of their take home pay. Last year it was reduced to 80 per cent by the Coalition Government and the floor for the receipt of pay-related benefit is going to be increased from £36 to £43 per week. In other words, the first £43 per week will not be taken into account in calculating pay-related benefit. We have already talked about the £70 million in the Supplementary Estimate. The reason for that is the bad policies adopted by the Government over the past year. There is £1 million in the Social Welfare Estimate for the anti-poverty programme. I wonder if we will ever see an anti-poverty programme, because it was referred to the Commission on Social Welfare. The Taoiseach told us this morning that the Minister for Health and Social Welfare has established a Social Welfare Commission which has already met on four occasions. They met on four occasions in 1983 and are publishing a report on the whole area of social welfare, but unless the Minister introduces some other anti-poverty programme while waiting for the results of the commission's survey, I doubt if we will see one during the coming year.

At this stage I question why the Minister did not allow the National Community Development Agency to go ahead. That agency was set up by the previous Government and incorporated the work of the National Social Service Board and the anti-poverty programme. The Fianna Fáil Government allocated £2.25 million for that purpose, but in last year's budget the Minister for Finance told us he expected to save £1.8 million which would not be spent on that agency.

[2536] This proves that the Government did not encourage the National Community Development Agency or the anti-poverty programme which could have been included by that agency. So much for this Government's social concern.

This morning the Taoiseach said:

The Government's social concern has also been demonstrated by the increase in social welfare payments which, in contrast to the position in a number of other European countries, have matched or exceeded the rate of inflation, thus maintaining, indeed improving, living standards amongst the least well-off sections of our community at a time when the living standards of others have been falling.

That is not in accordance with the facts, and the Taoiseach should be the first to know that. Social welfare benefits were increased by 12 per cent and 10 per cent for a nine months period, effectively this was 9 per cent and 7½ per cent, and according to the Central Bank inflation was 11 per cent last November. It is wrong to even suggest that people are better off as a result of the social welfare increases. If the Taoiseach had spoken to the people during the Dublin Central by-election or the Donegal by-election he would recognise the problems the people are facing.

Other areas which must be a matter of concern are the cutbacks in education — the £9 million cutback for the primary school programme and £8 million in the post-primary school programme. IDA grants have been cut from £122 million to £104 million, and buildings from £19 million to £12 million. That will have very serious implications because over the years the IDA have done an excellent job. In the years 1977-81 when Fianna Fáil were in office 80,000 new jobs were created, many of them in the electronics industry, which is a major contributor to our increased exports. I would have expected the Government to give support to the IDA particularly at this time when the NIDB are being so highly financed. There has been a reduction in the money available to local authorities, particularly for roads. Last year there was a £10 million [2537] reduction on what Fianna Fáil had allocated and again this year the Government are providing £90 million, which is a net reduction of 7 per cent in real terms. This, too, will add to the numbers of unemployed.

Since the foundation of the State we do not have a Minister from the Border counties at the Cabinet Table, and this has been disastrous for that area. The Minister for Finance increased the price of petrol by 35p per gallon and increased the VAT on spirits in his first month in office. This created a situation where people crossed the border at an unprecedented rate to buy goods, particularly spirits. In 1981 Irish Distillers Limited supplied 85,000 cases to the Cavan-Louth-Monaghan area and in 1982 sales dropped to 45,000 cases. In December 1982 £64,900 worth of petrol was sold in County Monaghan and that figure was down to £19,000 in April 1983. This is an indication of how this Government's policies are affecting the border counties.

The family income supplement was promised in the budget and a lot of play was made of it in the run up to the election. At Barrettstown we were told the £5 million promised was being reduced to £1 million, and that this scheme could not be implemented until December. December has almost passed and we have not heard a word about it. This morning the Taoiseach said:

The Members of this House, like the rest of the people of this island, have been shocked by the appalling series of murders committed by people who profess to advance the cause of Irish nationalism.

The Taoiseach made no reference to the paramilitaries who are not promoting the case of Irish nationalism nor did he refer to the forces of law and order, the UDR and the RUC, some of whom are alleged to have committed murders in the very recent past. I am surprised he did not condemn all murders and attacks on human life, no matter who the perpetrators are. I expected him to back the statement made by a former member of the Seanad, Mr. Séamus Mallon, who called for the disbandment of the UDR.

[2538] We had the saga of the double payments at Christmas. The Minister told us last week that the position was the same as in 1982, but that was not correct, because the child dependants of shortterm recipients of social welfare will not receive the double payment at Christmas. In reply to a written question the Minister eventually admitted that, but he should have been aware of it when he was answering the question on 7 December. He said he was confused because he did not realise children were included. At column 1347 of the Official Report of 7 December he said this allowance was paid in September 1982, but not at Christmas 1982.

The Coalition made numerous promises: the Children's Bill was promised this year but that has been delayed and we do not expect it before Easter. White papers on health and the disabled, and a National Pension Plan were promised but we have seen no sign of them. The Dental Bill was promised but legislation was passed a few weeks ago to allow the Government to delay it for a further two years.

I would like to quote a statement made by Robbie Gilligan, of the Department of Social Studies, Trinity College, Dublin, which was published in the Social Service Supplement, July 1983:

This year seems an inauspicious year for those concerned with the welfare of children. Mixed in with the normal round of inertia, fumbling and fragmentation that can be discerned in such services as exist, there is a new layer of problems added to earlier layers. Cuts in public expenditure are being applied without adequate reference to, or consideration of equity and social need. The cynic might observe that there is another logic to their application. Cuts are applied where the least political reaction will occur due to the already downtrodden, marginalised, and hapless status of their victims.

While that was written about children in July of this year, it could be written about all sections of the community in December of this year.

Minister for the Environment (Mr. Kavanagh): I should like to put on record [2539] my pleasure at taking over responsibility for the Department of the Environment. I have not yet had an opportunity to consider in detail the programmes or problems of the Department. I am a former member of a county council. I was chairman of Wicklow County Council for a year and I was vice-chairman of years. I am also a former chairman of Wicklow Urban District Council. I spent seven years on that council. I was a councillor until yesterday when I tendered my resignation on acceding to the position of Minister for the Environment.

I am acutely aware of the immense contribution my Department and the local authorities must make together in order to stimulate economic development and help to meet the very difficult challenges now facing us. The services controlled by my Department and the local authorities impinge on the lives of all of us in one way or another, whether in the area of housing, local authority and private, in the provision of basic services and infrastructures which are essential to industry, agriculture and tourism, in the maintenance of fire and emergency services and in guiding the overall development and protection of our physical environment. The work in the Department touches every part of the life of the individual. I am vary aware of and somewhat overwhelmed by the challenges which must be faced as I take office.

I look forward to working with an excellent staff who have been very highly commended to me by my predecessor, the Tánaiste. I also look forward to working together with the staff of the Department and the members of local authorities and their staffs. I have just returned from the annual meeting of the General Council of County Councils. I am sure my job will be made easier by the good wishes and offers of help and encouragement which I received from the general council. I thank the Members of the House who, since my appointment to this Department, have encouraged and congratulated me and assured me of their assistance and help in the difficult tasks [2540] which lie ahead. I am glad that encouragement has been given to me from all political parties in the House. I thank them because, in a big Department like the Department of the Environment, it is important to have this support.

On all sides of the House we have people who worked in local authorities and served on local authorities or in the Department at one level or another. This area of our democracy has probably been the breeding ground of more public representatives who reached this House than any other area. Most Members of both Houses have been or are serving members of local authorities, be they county councillors, urban councillors or town commissioners. There we learned the groundwork of our trade in politics and it has stood us in very good stead. I thank everybody for the encouragement and the good wishes I have received.

I should like to refer to the Department of Labour which I have just left. I made many friends in that Department. I wish to thank the Secretary and his staff for the very efficient manner in which they run the Department and for the help and guidance they gave me in the almost two years I spent in the Department in my two periods in office. If the figure for strikes is an indication of some of the success we have had, I can tell the House that, in the nine months up to the end of September, the number of strikes was, if anything, slightly above the number for the past three years, but the number of man days lost has been reduced considerably. Although we have had strikes, we have achieved a level of settlements in the Department which compares favourably with the strike pattern over many years and certainly the past five or six years. The Department have been using the structures and the machinery available and were encouraged to use those structures by me while I was Minister.

I wish the new Minister well. I encourage him to continue to allow the officials in the Department of Labour to continue to initiate talks and interventions on strikes rather than jumping in as Minister in an endeavour to bring about industrial peace. That is not the answer. The answer is to use the machinery set up at [2541] great expense to the taxpayer. He will achieve success by following the method I followed while I was in that Department. I want to pay tribute to everybody who worked with me there. My term there was a very pleasurable one. The work we did was very much enhanced by the high level of efficiency of the staff.

From the talks I have had with the Tánaiste already and the meetings I have had with a number of members of the staff of the Department of the Environment I know the staff are very accomplished and have the best interests of the country at heart. I hope my association with that Department will ensure that they will continue to give the great service they have always given to Ministers irrespective of their political persuasion.

As I said, the services controlled by my Department and the local authorities impinge on all of our lives in one way or another whether in the area of housing, both local authority and private, in the provision of basic services and infrastructure which are essential to industry, agriculture and tourism; in the maintenance of fire and emergency services or in guiding the overall development and protection of our physical environment.

I am new to the Department of the Environment. I have, of course, participated fully in the Government discussions leading up to the Estimates now published, both for my Department and the public sector generally. These Estimates must be considered in relation to the very difficult economic situation in which we found ourselves when we returned to office. I am particularly pleased to recognise the very significant change in attitudes which has taken place in our short time in office. Everybody, including the Opposition, now recognises that we could not continue along the lines followed in the past in managing our economy. In short, we cannot spend our way out of our difficulties without regard for the consequences, including the levels of increase in foreign borrowings and inflation.

The financial policies being pursued by us cannot in present circumstances be popular ones. What we are seeking is to give good Government which, regrettably, [2542] is not always popular Government and to create the conditions in which economic development will again more freely take place, thereby ensuring more jobs and an increase in the standards of living of all our people, not just the privileged few.

Present indications are that our policies are beginning to show returns. There has been a very significant fall in the rate of inflation which will benefit everyone and improve our competitiveness abroad. Total merchandise exports have risen by 19 per cent in value and manufacturing exports by 21 per cent in value in the first nine months of this year. We are also benefiting from reduced interest charges. I am confident that provided we continue to pursue the proper responsible statesmanlike policies, the implications for the future are hopeful. We must avoid any return to the irresponsible spending policies of the past which are in large measure the reason we must implement special control measures now.

In the Estimates now published, both current and capital, my Department are responsible for well over £1,000 million of expenditure. The great portion of this will go towards key programmes such as housing, roads and sanitary services, all of which are likely to show an increase in output and in average employment in the current year. Overall housing output, which accounts for over 40 per cent of total construction output, is holding steady. Completions in 1983 are now expected to be in excess of the forecasted 25,000 and at this stage the provisional forecast for 1984 is for a modest increase over the 1983 figure.

The performance of the local authority house building programme has been particularly encouraging this year. The indications now are that well over 6,000 new local authority houses will be completed this year, representing an increase of anything up to 500 on the 1982 level. It is also the first time since 1979 that the 6,000 level will have been exceeded. At the end of this year, there will be over 8,000 houses in progress which again is well up on last year. The improvement in the level of the programme has been [2543] achieved by the substantial capital allocations made available towards local authority housing and a considerable effort on the part of local authorities to achieve the best possible return on this capital investment.

Bearing in mind a number of factors, particularly the current level of unit costs and the cost control procedures recently introduced by my Department, it is anticipated that the £211 million being allocated to the programme in 1984 will maintain the current satisfactory levels of activity and employment. In a time of distressingly high unemployment, it is noteworthy that the numbers directly employed on the local authority housing programme have increased by over 400 on the 1982 figure with average monthly employment in 1983 running at about 6,300.

The performance on the private housing side has turned out to be better than had been expected earlier in the year. It now looks as if private house completions this year will not be much short of the 20,000 mark. As far as next year is concerned, there are some encouraging indicators. For example, the level of building society loan approvals for new houses up to the end of October this year was 18 per cent up on the corresponding period last year. In the first 11 months of this year, new house grant approvals exceeded 11,500 — over 1,500 up on last year. The number of houses and flats for which certificates of reasonable value are issued is running about 12 per cent ahead of last year. Both the SDA scheme and the Housing Finance Agency continue to play vital roles in encouraging home ownership and sustaining the house building industry by providing housing finance for those in lower income brackets who would not normally be catered for by the commercial mortgage agencies.

The Housing Finance Agency are successfully raising funds for house purchase loans by means of index-linked bond issues and in doing so have channelled funds, which would otherwise have gone elsewhere, into the housing sector. To keep pace with the level of demand for their loans, the Government have [2544] recently increased the capital allocation for the agency for 1983 by £5 million, from £50 million to £55 million, and it is expected that this will finance about 2,800 house purchase loans this year. I am glad to announce that the capital allocation to the agency for 1984 is being increased to £60 million and that this will finance about 3,000 loans.

Demand for SDA loans is holding fairly steady and the allocation of £80 million for 1983 is financing about 5,500 loans.

Building societies are, of course, the main source of mortgage funds for the private housing sector — providing as they do about 70 per cent of loan finance. In the current year, the societies are now expected to advance home loans totalling about £390 million in respect of some 16,500 houses. With loan approvals running at higher levels than last year and the inflow of funds holding up well, the societies are in a good position to provide a continuing high level of mortgage finance next year. Also, I am glad to say that the societies' mortgage rate, at 11.75 per cent is now at its lowest level for five years.

Between all the lending agencies, it is expected that about £530 million will be provided in mortgage finance this year and that sufficient mortgage finance will continue to be available next year to satisfy demand.

The new house grant and mortgage subsidy schemes are of key importance in helping people to become home owners and in maximising housing output. The Government have again made very substantial provision for these schemes in 1984. The sum of £11 million is again being provided for the £1,000 grant scheme. The provision for the five-year mortgage subsidy is £20 million and this compares with expenditure of £14.3 million this year, indicating a major increase in the State's commitment in support of this scheme.

For the third year in succession, the Government have earmarked a provision of £1 million for the task force on special housing aid for the elderly. This will allow for the continuation of the emergency programme to improve the living conditions [2545] of elderly persons living alone in unfit and unsanitary accommodation. Aid is available for necessary repairs to make a dwelling habitable for the lifetime of the occupant, repairs to a chimney or fireplace to ensure a source of heat, the provision of water and sanitary facilities, the provision of food storage facilities, etc. The scheme is being operated with the help of the health boards.

One of the worth-while developments in the housing area in the last year has been the setting up of the Rent Tribunal to determine the terms of tenancy of dwellings formerly controlled under the Rent Restrictions Acts. Previously the work of the Rent Tribunal was undertaken in the District Court. This arrangement was considered unsatisfactory because of the formal and intimidating nature of court proceedings, and it is hoped that the Rent Tribunal will provide a more suitable forum for determining disputes concerning rents and other terms of tenancy between landlords and tenants.

There has been great public interest in the Rent Tribunal since it was established on 2 August last, and I think it is almost universally welcomed. To date, over 2,500 application forms have been sent out and the tribunal has received over 150 applications. Cases have been heard in Dublin, Cork and Dundalk and are due to be held soon in Galway.

Another recent achievement in the housing field was the successful negotiation of revised national differential rent and tenant purchase schemes between my Department and the National Association of Tenants' Organisations. The new schemes were notified to local authorities on 30 September 1983. When preparing the new rent scheme every effort was made to keep it as fair as possible to the tenants. The burden on the lower paid tenants and tenants on social welfare was kept as low as possible, while moderate increases were fixed for those in a better position to pay.

The capital expenditure outturn for 1983 on sanitary services is estimated to be £95.8 million. Direct employment on the sanitary services programme throughout 1983 is projected at 1,890 [2546] jobs, which compares favourably with the 1982 average employment of 1,810 jobs. The total provision for sanitary services in the 1984 public capital programme is £98.6 million and it is estimated that this amount will be adequate to meet all commitments likely to arise during the coming year.

The main element of this is £88.6 million for major and small public schemes which local authorities borrow from the Local Loans Fund. Another important element of the programme for 1984 will be the continuance of the capital grants which are made available for major regional water schemes in certain western counties. These grants are paid at the rate of 80 per cent of the estimated capital cost of the schemes, reducing the burden on the local authorities on the schemes designated for grants to 20 per cent. The amount being provided in 1984 is £3.3 million. This also is estimated to be adequate to meet all the commitments likely to arise and is broadly similar to the outturn figure of £3.2 million expected for 1983.

Another important element of the programme is the system of grants paid to private group water schemes. Estimated expenditure on group water schemes will be £4.5 million for 1983. Grants were paid for the installation of water in over 5,600 rural homes. Approximately £3 million of this expenditure was on schemes which qualified for EEC aid of 50 per cent under the FEOGA western package. The EEC have recently approved a welcome extension to the western package programme. A sum of £6 million is being provided for 1984 and, again, this should ensure that all commitments will be paid in full.

A number of important road schemes have already been realised in 1983: the Naas motorway, a milestone in Irish road construction, the Santry by-pass, a five mile section of new road on the N20 from Cork to Mallow and the Belgard Road at Tallaght have all been opened to traffic.

Major by-passes on the approaches to Dublin, at Cornelscourt-Cabinteely and at Palmerstown-Ballydowd are expected to be completed by the middle of the year. Work will continue on various other [2547] major works including the ring road and bridge at Kilkenny, the Redmond bridge in Waterford, the Bandon line road and bridges in Cork and the Swords by-passs. Work has now begun on the major by-passes and new bridges being planned for Athlone and Galway, and these will also, of course, form an important part of the roads programme in the coming year. These major works will be supplemented by a programme of improvements on the existing road lines on the national route network. Provision will also be made for essential works on a number of roads other than national roads.

This road improvement programme must be accompanied by a determined approach to traffic management and road safety. I will be looking into the question of a new system of traffic and parking controls for Cork city and county, developed by the Garda Commissioner, which could serve as a model for other counties.

I will also be giving early attention to a new Road Traffic Bill designed to effect a revision of penalties under the Road Traffic Acts. The Bill will provide a greatly improved framework for the gardaí to enforce road traffic law in relation to uninsured and drunken driving, illegal parking, excessive speeding and many other matters connected with the safe and orderly use of our roads.

The provision for the fire service in the 1983 capital programme at £6 million is substantially greater than the allocations of £2.5 million in 1981 and £4.75 million in 1982. I am glad to say that for 1984, the provision has been increased by a further 25 per cent, to £7.5 million. These increases in the 1983 and 1984 capital allocations are remarkable in a time of economic recession, and they highlight the Government's commitment to investment in, and development of, the fire service.

In regard to local authority finances generally, the reality is that local authorities cannot be insulated from the prevailing economic climate. They have to carry their share of the burden while at the same time doing everything possible to maintain services at a reasonable level and to protect employment.

[2548] A number of factors have contributed in a special way to the local authority financial difficulties. They include the situation which arose following the abolition of domestic rates in 1978 and the imposition of limits on local rates increases. There was a substantial loss to local funds through the withholding of agricultural rates in 1982, related to the challenge to the constitutionality of the land valuation system which was upheld by the High Court. That matter is now under appeal to the Supreme Court.

Now, in 1983, we are in a situation in which approximately 66 per cent of local authority current spending is financed from the Exchequer. Under current conditions this is obviously a serious problem for the Exchequer, but it is a problem for local government too, because a reasonable degree of financial self-sufficiency seems essential for healthy local government and we seem to be slipping away from that position. Certain important steps have already been taken to arrest the trend through the restoration of the discretion of local councils to decide on local rate levels and the provision of wider powers to levy charges for services. It must be recognised that unless local authorities have reasonable resources, they cannot provide the level of service which people have come to expect. I know that my predecessor had been examining the whole question of local authority financing and I intend to continue with that. In the meantime, the Government have added £31.5 million to the level of rate support grants being paid to local authorities this year, and the estimates show that this position will be maintained for 1984. Indeed there is provision for a slight increase.

I have not, in the time available to me since changing office, been able to go in detail into the various programmes operated by my Department. I have, therefore, concentrated on the major ones. I wish to emphasise that what I see as of primary importance is that we as a Government continue with the controlled, disciplined policies already being operated by us. I am confident that we have the support of the vast majority of our people for this approach. These [2549] people recognise that this is the only approach that can lead us back to a situation in which we can benefit from increased employment and higher living standards.

Mr. Noonan (Limerick West): I congratulate the Minister on his new appointment.

I should like to avail of this opportunity of referring to a number of points raised earlier today by the Minister for Agriculture. Of course I agree with the Minister when he said that the spending on the Common Agricultural Policy must be kept under control. I agree that such control must be maintained by member States causing the problems. Indeed the Common Agricultural Policy has been under attack for many years, long before we ever became a member of the EEC. Irrespective of the Minister's doubts I am confident that the Common Agricultural Policy will be sustained and will continue to give the necessary assistance and impetus to our economic development.

But I deplore the attitude adopted by the Minister for Agriculture. In regard to his about-turn on the importation of butter from New Zealand into the United Kingdom — and I do not intend going into the merits or demerits of the recent decision — I might refer to a statement of his in mid-September that, under no circumstances, would he agree to the importation of butter from New Zealand into the United Kingdom until such time as the matter of the super-levy on milk had been sorted out. Yet there was this decision in recent days which in my view constitutes a complete about-turn. Are we to take it that henceforth we cannot accept any statement of the Minister, that he will allow himself be manipulated by other member States?

I deplore also the attitude of the Minister in regard to the negotiations at present in train within the EEC, and also within the Council of Ministers, particularly in regard to the recent Athens Summit. His approach seemed to me to be a “cap-in-hand” one. As a member State we have an amount to contribute to Europe and we should not adopt such an approach. Therefore, I would appeal to [2550] the Minister to examine his attitude and outline clearly that our approach is a positive one, of having something to offer. The Minister should not go “cap in hand” to these meetings, particularly to meetings of the Council of Ministers.

Indeed the Minister's speech, like that of the Taoiseach, was very hollow with no signal of a way forward, no real hope being given for the future so far as agricultural development is concerned. The Taoiseach spoke of his contacts in Europe and of his close contacts with the British Prime Minister. If that is the case his representations ahead of that recent Summit fell very much on barren ground in Athens where not one member State expressed any support for our serious problems with regard to the imposition of the super-levy on milk and its disastrous consequences for our economy. I appeal to the Taoiseach to renew such contacts and revisit other member states before the Paris Summit, outlining to them yet again the seriousness for our economic development of the imposition of the super-levy, in any form. As we have said time and again what this party wants is complete exemption from that super-levy. We contend that it is not comparing like with like, that we are not causing the problems in Europe or those in regard to the spending on the Common Agricultural Policy. Therefore, the Taoiseach and Minister for Agriculture should make representations again in appropriate places, signifying clearly and unequivocally where the real problem lies, where over-production takes place as a result of imported cheap concentrates from third countries, whereas our produce emanates from natural resources in the form of grass in its natural and conserved form. The problem of the surplus in dairy products lies where I have just said. Therefore, the Taoiseach and Minister for Agriculture must insist on curbs by way of levies being introduced on such cheap concentrates, stressing that our economy is almost totally dependent on agriculture, that our production is not even in line with the European average and, until such time as it is, we should be given an opportunity of expanding our agriculture and increasing our dairy produce. [2551] After all, it should be remembered that our agricultural production accounts for something in the region of 4½ per cent only of the total within the EEC. Under the proposals before the Athens Summit, which were subsequently modified to a certain extent, we would be required to contribute in the region of 10 per cent. I contend that would be most unfair because of our total dependence as an economy on agriculture.

I want to say also how confused I am by the statement yesterday of the Minister for Agriculture that An Bord Bainne were withdrawing from United Kingdom markets so far as dairy products were concerned, and the subsequent denial by An Bord Bainne that they were doing any such thing. Therefore, there is a clear obligation on the Taoiseach — and I told him so this morning — to outline clearly what is the true position rather than have this confusion reign. Our problems are sufficiently severe without their being aggravated by a confusing statement by a Minister. It is important that the way forward be clearly signalled so that, irrespective of the outcome of the negotiations with regard to the super-levy — and I have no doubt but that they will be positive — this confusion will not continue.

There was no signal, no indication given of a way forward in agricultural development in the Minister's remarks this morning. While one might contend that there has been an increase of something in the region of 8 per cent in the Estimates for Agriculture for 1984, when one takes into account inflation running at a rate of 10 per cent, it can be contended that, in real terms those Estimates are down in the region of £20 million. Therefore, the Government outline signifies clearly a reduction in support for agricultural development. In 1984 farmers' incomes will not keep pace with inflation because of the lack of input by the State. In other words, farming incomes will be reduced this year. We in Fianna Fáil do not favour any restraint next year in so far as agricultural expansion is concerned. The approach the Government are adopting, as identified clearly in the [2552] Estimates just published, is a remote, unfriendly, accountant-type approach which must be damaging not only to the agricultural industry but to the entire economy. It is interesting to note also that while there is an increase in the overall estimate of the order of £5 million, £4 million of which will be spent on administrative costs, leaving £1 million for expansion, in real terms there is a massive reduction of 8 per cent.

In the context of the reduction of the balance-of-payments deficit as a proportion of GNP which is expected to be at zero in 1984, there should be no external restraint next year in agricultural expansion. For that reason the reduction in agricultural development can be seen only as an unfriendly approach to the agricultural industry.

As to individual items in the Estimate the reduction of 11 per cent in the provision in respect of disease eradication is alarming. I wonder if this has anything to do with the Minister's difficulties in regard to the introduction of the long-delayed pilot scheme in County Kerry. There is an obligation on the Minister to outline clearly to the House what the present stage is in regard to that scheme. It is very disturbing, too, to discover that there is a massive drop of 51 per cent or more than £6 million in the programme of special measures for Ireland. This is a blow to the most disadvantaged farming areas. The general approach to the Estimates leads us to believe that the Minister for Agriculture has not the ear either of the Minister for Finance or of the Government as a whole. We can only conclude that the Government have little sympathy in so far as agriculture is concerned. The uncertainty and the lack of confidence that have arisen throughout the whole agricultural sector as a result of the milk super-levy question can only be deepened by what is contained in the Estimates for Agriculture in the coming year.

Irish farmers know that they have few friends in governments abroad and they can only conclude now that they have fewer, if any, friends in the Government at home. This party have held always that the key to increasing output and to prosperity [2553] is by way of an expansion of the national livestock herd. For reasons of economic advance this objective should be given priority as an investment guaranteed to yield excellent returns.

The Estimate is one of despair at a time when farmers are looking for something to give them hope for the future. It is obvious that once again this Government have engaged in a book-keeping exercise without having any underlying plan for the future. Speaking of plans, perhaps the Minister at some stage in the near future would make a full statement on the present situation in regard to the four-year plan for agriculture which was submitted to him some time ago and which owes it origin to a former Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Lenihan.

Mr. Kelly: That was so long ago that I had almost forgotten that he held that Ministry. He is an amazing man.

Mr. Noonan (Limerick West): It is no harm to remind the Deputy of that occasionally.

Mr. Kelly: Is there any portfolio that Deputy Lenihan did not dignify?

Mr. Noonan (Limerick West): Irish farmers are entitled to the support of advisory and research services which are at least as good as the services available to those with whom our farmers are competing. At a time when increased efficiency is called for, it is wrong to reduce both the advisory and the research services. There is the consideration also that this diminishes the information base essential for future advance. I deplore the serious reduction in real terms in the case of ACOT and also the severe cut in the grant to An Foras Talúntais. The Minister is aware that both organisations are basic for farm development and enjoy the confidence of farmers. Farmers are annoyed at the way the Government are treating them.

An Foras Talúntais, in its relatively short history, has made an impressive contribution to the volume of technical and managerial knowledge necessary for agricultural progress. The advisory [2554] services use this knowledge to bring about increased farm output and incomes and raise the standard of living of the farming community. A close relationship has always existed between the advisory service and An Foras Talúntais and that will be essential in the years ahead. I deplore the reduction in the allocation to that organisation for 1984. If we are to rise swiftly and steadily out of the present recession we will have to make full use of all our resources, human and natural. We have heard rumours of the possibility of an oil discovery and we are aware of the growing importance of natural gas but our farm land is still one of our greatest natural resources. Land use, and ownership, have always been emotive issues in Irish life and politics and that can be explained partly by the different ways people look at the whole land question.

I should like to refer to an article published in the Farmers Journal concerning land leasing and my party's approach to that and land development. I should like to put on the record of the House the fact that, as Fianna Fáil spokesman on Agriculture, I sent a letter to that journal about three weeks ago in response to that article but it has not been published. In the course of that letter I stated that the article had missed the thrust of our criticism of the Government's land policy, or lack of policy. We are not talking about land leasing alone. We are concerned that the Government took a number of important decisions such as opening up the land market to EEC nationals — I understand that this has to be done — suspending the compulsory acquisition powers of the Land Commission and promising to repeal some sections of the Land Acts without preparing a well thought out and co-ordinated land policy.

Our criticisms were directed at the overall policy and not at one aspect of it. We support land leasing, subject to proper controls. Earlier this year when I put forward ideas with regard to land leasing I stated that we supported the concept of land leasing. We realise that there is a serious problem in regard to the under-utilisation of land in many areas but land leasing is but one of a [2555] number of policy instruments that can be used to tackle this problem. The farm taxation system penalises a person who works hard to make a living on his land but leaves alone the person who does not do anything to cultivate his land. That is wrong and is not in the best interests of the development of the economy. We are in favour of land leasing as part of an overall land policy subject to proper controls as were contained in the 1981 White Paper on land policy. The Government are intent on disregarding those controls. Those controls were introduced at the same time as controls on purchase by EEC nationals were lifted and the activities of the Land Commission were changed. Our land policy proposed that there would be a surcharge on land purchases by non-EEC nationals, non-farmers and large farmers and we proposed giving assistance to small farmers to be funded by that surcharge to help the progressive farmer-purchaser. Fianna Fáil also proposed to retain the powers of the Land Commission in regard to compulsory purchase and wanted approval of all land transactions in advance.

An improved farm retirement scheme is an essential element in our proposals. Our proposals formed an integrated policy of which land leasing on a one-to-one basis was merely one element, not a general one. The Government are intent on permitting a free for all and that is wrong. The compulsory acquisition powers of the Land Commission have been suspended and EEC nationals can now buy land freely. The legal obstacles to the recreation of the landlord system are to be done away with without any proposals on how any new such system will operate. As there is no upper limit on the acquisition of land by an individual or a company, or penalties, there is not anything to prevent a wealthy person, or company, buying up many farms and leasing them through agents.

The article I referred to said it was not understood what we meant by a one-to-one leasing basis. We mean land leasing on the basis of one landlord to one tenant, not one landlord and dozens of tenants. Fianna Fáil are not prepared to go [2556] along with the undoing of the social revolution of the last century which has created a better system of land ownership such as exists in Britain and in other countries. We should be proud of our achievements in that regard, not ashamed of them. To say that the new landlord should be Irish and not British is neither here nor there, as the article states. There must be control of land leasing on a one-to-one basis and it must develop slowly rather than allowing, by default, counter-revolution in land policy. That would only store up problems for the future which, thankfully, we are without today.

It was depressing to hear the Minister for Agriculture refusing to give any indication of a way forward for agriculture. It is a pity that the various subventions to the advisory services are being curtailed. Those services were built up over the years and they had become the bedrock for agricultural development in Ireland.

Mr. Kelly: This morning the Taoiseach listed the achievements of his Government. He did it in fairly sober terms. I regard the points he made as justified and, though I stand at a distance from his Government from the point of view of its composition, I must say that I think the record which that Government have racked up in the last 12 months is very admirable. The points for which the Taoiseach claimed credit are fairly justified ones. He drew attention to the steep fall in the balance of payments deficit which had been a great handicap to us for many years in the way it inexorably rose in response to inflation rates as a result of Government manoeuvring between 1977 and 1981 and thereafter.

The Taoiseach pointed to the steep rise in the volume of our industrial exports and the steep fall in inflation. Most significant of all he pointed to the steep and unprecedented fall in public service numbers. It is the first time that has happened since the State was set up. Growth in public service numbers are down by about 4,000 since this Government took office, not by redundancies or by simply firing people out, but by not replacing them and by devising or asking the public [2557] service to do the same quantum of work with fewer people, which should be possible in this electronic age which allows all forms of services, except the public service up to now, to shed human labour and to have reiterated jobs done by machines.

That is an enormous achievement which is insufficiently recognised. I do not ignore the reverse side, that the drop in public service numbers means fewer jobs in the public service for school leavers. That is an absolutely unavoidable by-product. Once one has an apparent uncontrollable growth in the public service that has been at the root of our financial problems here, as it is, then there is no alternative but to turn that process, at whatever cost, and this Government have had the courage to do that, but so far have not got credit for it from anyone except myself. I do not think even the Government pat themselves on the back for it, as they might.

In the past 12 months I have heard the Government being complimented only once from the other side for showing courage and taking an unpopular decision. The decision that earned the praise of Fianna Fáil was that we would all pay ourselves an extra 19 per cent. That was the unpopular decision, the only one, for which Fianna Fáil were prepared to admire the Minister's courage, knowing well that he was the one who would carry the odium, deserved to some extent in my opinion, as I said at the time. This move to sweat off some of the fat from the public service which cost an immense fortune to keep alive, is a courageous one because it implies a shortage of job opportunities for school leavers who are in no way to blame for the expectations they have been led to grow up with and which the mould of so-called job creation which Fianna Fáil indulged in in 1977 led them to take almost as part of the order of nature.

These are achievements which the Leader of the Opposition was at some pains to try to belittle in a way which is natural to him and which is not all that different from the approach of any other Opposition Leaders I have ever heard. One point, however, came very poorly [2558] from him. He said the Government performance had led to a drop in confidence among the people. He said there is a mood of despair, of gloom, among the people from top to bottom. He said it is vital to keep hope in the people's breasts.

Since I became able to take an interest in politics there has been only one purely political event which led people in ordinary conversation to say that what they had read in the newspapers that morning led them to consider seriously emigrating for the first time in their lives. That was the story in the newspapers on 8 December 1979 that Deputy Haughey had become Taoiseach. People spontaneously said that for the first time in their lives they had begun to wonder was there any hope for the country. They said: “For the first time in my life I think I will clear out”.

I do not say that in a spirit of vindictiveness, but when I hear Deputy Haughey — everybody knows I have a low opinion of him and I do not attempt to hide it — talking about a mood of despair throughout the country, of gloom, of lack of confidence, I can scarcely believe my ears. Since the British walked out of Dublin Castle no single purely political event caused such absolute panic here as when he assumed the leadership of his party.

In relation to the sector which he regards himself as being an expert on — the business sector, the wealth creators, the entrepreneurs, those who create the rising tide on which all boats lift — the opinion polls show that for every businessman who thinks Deputy Haughey would be the best man in charge of affairs, many others think the opposite notwithstanding the presence of the Labour Party who are ideologically queasy over the measures which this Government have had the guts to put into effect. Talk about diminished confidence in these circumstances comes very poorly from Deputy Haughey.

Deputy Haughey pointed out that millions of pounds were leaving this country across the Border in purses, handbags and pockets to buy goods on the Northern side. He attributed that to the disastrous taxation levels applied by the [2559] Government. He could speak only of VAT and excise. VAT has not been radically changed here in the last year. Excise duty probably has had an effect on everybody's drink consumption, but excise on drink has always gone up and I remember that Deputy Haughey, as Minister for Finance, described drink as an old reliable. “Hit it”, he said “and it will come up smiling. Hit it again and it will come up smiling again”.

I do not deny that it may have been hit a bit too hard and it may be that there is a natural limit to what drink and tobacco will bear in the form of excise increases. I agree that must be part of the picture that leads shoppers across the Border, but the principal reason why they cross the Border is the difference in the inflation level between here and there. Because of action by the much despised Coalition Government between 1973 and 1977 we have no VAT on foodstuffs. That is not the case in the UK. They have VAT, admittedly modest, on foodstuffs.

There is a head start for us. When VAT was introduced on our entry to the EEC the Fianna Fáil Government said there was no question of taking VAT off foodstuffs — foodstuffs would have to bear their share of VAT the same as everything else. Deputy Creed and I were candidates in the 1973 election and we were both in a room together when we put forward the 14-point plan which included an undertaking, which we subsequently discharged, to remove VAT from foodstuffs. I have no doubt that that played a part in our getting in that year.

That is a head start for us. If there were only that factor and should other things be equal it would lead to bus loads travelling in the opposite direction but they are not. The reason they are not is because in Britain, rightly or wrongly, the Government are led by somebody who has focused, at terrible cost in other directions, on the elimination of inflation as a source of economic weakness and she has very largely succeeded. Her inflation has been running at 5 per cent, 4 per cent and sinking to 3 per cent for the last three years. Two years ago our inflation rate was over 20 per cent. Naturally the [2560] buses are running over the Border and the Government are absolutely right to focus on this, even if it is painful and it spreads a certain amount of gloom and despair among simple people who do not understand that their long-term welfare depends on us getting this sort of thing right.

Mr. Wilson: In the long term we are all dead.

Mr. Kelly: In the long term we are all dead. The reason why the shopkeepers of Cavan are wringing their hands and the ones in Belturbet, Swanlinbar, Blacklion and Glangevlin is because of the inflation rate differential between the shops north of the Border and those south of the Border. We can thank Mrs. Thatcher for the situation in the North and Deputy Haughey and his team for the situation in the South. The pain and distress we are causing — there is no doubt that the Government are unavoidably doing so in their efforts to pull back the inflation rate — is directed towards causing the shopkeepers in Cavan, Belturbet and Glangevlin to wake up one morning and find that the drain on their livelihood has ceased, that their customers, their own comharsana béal dorais are staying at home, that they are able once more to afford to buy in the Cavan shops and have not to cross the Border and go to Enniskillen. That is what it is directed towards.

Mr. Wilson: Let the Government take a few bob off the whiskey.

Mr. Kelly: I am sure Deputy Wilson's constituents will be sorry to hear him putting obstacles in the way of that process. Deputy Haughey was not even able to complete his speech this morning without a sneer at what he called “the Donnybrook set”. It is a trivial debating point and I hope I will not have to mention it again. I want to get something clear. The Taoiseach does not live in Donnybrook and his close associates, as far as I know, do not live in Donnybrook.

Mr. Wilson: He used to.

[2561] Mr. Kelly: I live in Donnybrook but I am a long way from the Government benches, and former residents of my parish included the late Seán T. O'Kelly, who lived in a handsome detached residence in its own grounds, surrounded by shrubbery, which made it impossible to see from the road, about three minutes walk from where I live. Tom Derrig, a former Minister for Education, lived at the bottom of my road and Seán MacEntee, whom I believe is still in the parish, lives about a mile away. Present residents of that parish include Deputy Michael O'Kennedy and Deputy Gerry Brady, both former Ministers, unless I am very much mistaken.

Mr. Wilson: He was talking about a philosophy.

Mr. Kelly: It is a philosophy but it is cheap to put a name on a philosophy which does not mean anything. It is cheap but I am afraid it is characteristic of the source of that silly, childish jibe. The Leader of the Opposition spoke about the necessity to offer hope to the younger generation. I am with him here. We have to offer hope to the younger generation but the way you do that is to conduct yourself as an adult in such a way that they can respect you and in such a way that they do not instinctively, even with the untutored inexperienced instinct of an 18 or 19 year old, turn from you in disgust. They turn in disgust from the form in which they see politics laid in front of them in this House. They turn in disgust from the kind of behaviour which children are taught to avoid but which grown-ups in here think is perfectly all right for themselves. They turn in disgust from grown men who, depending on what side of the House they are, claim all credit for their own doings and belittle everything done by the other side.

Deputy Haughey said this morning that about the only bright star in the present economic constellation was the booming industrial export scene. What is booming, what is doing well in exports? It is the high technology industries brought in by Fianna Fáil between 1977 [2562] and 1981. The rest are only peanut stuff. When an 18 or 19 year old hears that kind of talk from a man, who, as the Germans say, is well into the second half of life, as I am, he cannot keep his lunch down. That kind of talk is revolting. Children are taught not to go on in that sort of way, boasting about their own doings and trying to make nothing of those of others.

It goes without saying that the claim that the export boom is entirely due to things brought in here in the 1977-81 period cannot be substantiated. Even if it could be substatiated, and even if every stick of produce that left the country in the last few years, contributing to this export boom, depended on industries brought in here during those years, who brought them in? Who did the leg work? Was it not the IDA? What must they think? They are citizens also and they have wives and families. What must an executive in the IDA think when he goes home in the evening, hangs up his hat and coat, sits down, shakes out the paper and his wife asks him what kind of day he has had? The kind of day he has had is, as likely as not, attending some, as he would no doubt think it, jackanapes of a pumped up self-important twit from whatever Government provides it, who comes up, makes a speech, cuts a tape and takes the credit for something he and his colleagues have slaved to bring about during the last three or four years, perhaps for even a longer time than that.

I will not take credit away from the political instinct which founded the IDA. If I am to desend for a moment to patting ourselves on the back it was actually poor old Fine Gael who founded the IDA. It was actually a Fine Gael baby. As a matter of fact, it was damned from the Opposition benches by Seán Lemass in 1950 as what he called “a typical product of the Fine Gael mentality”. I would not base a speech on trying to rub anybody's nose in that kind of stuff because we have had enough of it. If that authority have experts in the field who are able to look ahead and see what proper growth areas there are for us in trying to encourage industrial investment, that is an achievement for which they should get the credit. I am not trying to take away credit from [2563] whatever Government are here who give them enough funds and enough encouragement. They are entitled to a share of it as well but to listen to a man like Deputy Haughey say, “We brought in this high technology industry and that is the reason you are having the boom in exports now” is pathetic.


Mr. Kelly: I do not absolve anyone from this. I went along with this for a long time myself too and I probably could do so again. I am, for the moment, in a kind of lucid interval, which the back bench existence here allows me, and I am anxious to try to point out this weakness in ourselves. The Taoiseach mentioned a series of Departments, some of which were singled out by the Leader of the Opposition.

Deputy Haughey mentioned natural gas. He was inclined to give his own party the credit for that one too. He said; “we would not have this situation today if it were not for the efforts of this party. It was while we were there that the gas pipeline was built and the decision was made to export gas to the North of Ireland”. For the record, whatever that expression means, as if anybody ever reads the record, the first party who committed themselves to building a pipeline and to supplying gas to the North of Ireland was again the Fine Gael party, not the Labour Party, not the Fianna Fáil party.

It was while I was the Fine Gael spokesman for Energy that happened, not because I was clever enough to spot the possibilities but because I was advised by some very generous, selfless people who remained anonymous, who put their heads together and helped to produce the energy document which I launched in 1979. Fine Gael were the people who first did that. I do not go around boasting about it or expect people to vote for me for that reason. It was done on a sober calculation of what a sensible national interest would require. I expect the party opposite would have done it anyway for the same kind of reasons. To be boasting [2564] about it; that “It was in our time that it happened, we did this, we did that,” is a thing which deprives young people of hope. They may not be able to articulate it in the way somebody in here who gets fed up with it can do. They cannot put their finger on or describe in language what turns them off, but that switches them off. I can see it switching my own children off when they hear it from me or on radio and television from somebody else from whatever party.

On issues like this every party can be right and every party, being human, can be mistaken. Deputy O'Malley was in charge of the energy scene here for most of the period 1977-80 if not all of that period. I have exchanged many a bitter word with him perhaps more than with anybody else on the far side since I first encountered him politically. I suppose, like a fine flitch of Limerick bacon hung in the chimney, he has matured and mellowed with the curing process over the years and he is a different man now from what he was four or five years ago. I remember him taking up varying positions on energy matters in that era and defending them all with the utmost abrasiveness and then abandoning them without a care in the world. I remember him saying that there was no alternative to the nuclear option. We were to have a nuclear station at Carnsore, naturally providing a kind of August camp-out for thousands of young people in the style of the times, and he saw no need for a public inquiry, although I pressed for it from that side of the House. Then he changed his mind and said that there would be a public inquiry but there was still no option. Then he dropped the whole thing. Suddenly it was not necessary.

I am not saying that these three positions were mutually inconsistent or that any of them was dishonest. I have no doubt that all of them at the various stages he adopted them were a response to objective, informed, expert advice. I am merely saying that he is fallible. I am fallible. We are all fallible and Governments are all fallible just as oppositions are. The opposite of what should be done if we are trying to encourage hope in young people is to boast and brag about [2565] one's own apparent successes, covering up with bluster and lies one's own failure and doing one's best to belittle and do down what somebody on the far side sets out to do.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputy, you should not use the word “lies”.

Mr. Kelly: I am speaking generally, I am not attributing them to any individual.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: It is the wrong word.

Mr. Kelly: The point is that the two sides start out on the very same set of economic premises. You could not put a knife between the positions on economic and financial matters occupied by Deputy Wilson, Deputy Noonan and Deputy Briscoe over there and Deputy Creed, Deputy Cosgrave and myself on this side. I defy anybody, if the names and the sides were changed, to distinguish between the Fianna Fáil side and the Fine Gael side in the first two speeches made here this morning, but that does not stop one side form indulging in this mean-minded, childish belittling and bragging which children are taught not to do but which somehow people who affect and assume to themselves the right to leadership feel entitled to display to the people. Then they wonder about the alienation — as Deputy Haughey did this morning — of the people from the Dáil process. What the devil does he expect but to be alienated when he sees people behaving in here in a way they are taught at home as children not to do?

I know that I have only a few more minutes. That is all I wanted to say about the question of hope for young people. The best way we can offer young people hope is by behaving here rationally and getting away from the horrible football hooligan partisanship that characterises party politics here on both sides.

The Labour Party, perhaps because they are small, have not been in power by themselves, have not been big enough to develop bad habits, have one reason to be proud of the standards of their [2566] behaviour in that respect than either of the two big parties. I do not want to worry the Labour Party or to rock their boat in any way, but I hope that, having made a bargain with my party, they will stick to their decision and that they will see this Government out and pull with us loyally, recognising that anything which they insist on which is difficult for Fine Gael voters to accept and support will put them out of office just as fast as it will put us out of office. There is no use in Deputy Quinn, Deputy Taylor or the rest of them thinking that a vote in my constituency does not matter. If a seat is lost in my constituency that will be a brick gone from the plinth on which the Labour Ministers now sit in state. That is what happened to the 1973-77 Government. The Fine Gael party lost seats in big numbers. We were the ones who lost a dozen seats over wealth tax and this, that and the other. The Labour Party lost only one. Had it been only that seat that was lost we would still have been in office. This was the party who lost the seats but it put Deputy Corish and Deputy Tully out just the same. I warn the Labour Party about that.

I do not want to appear to slight Deputy Quinn when he deserves congratulation on his promotion in the Government, but I have heard that he said on television the other evening when asked about a Minister from the Labour Party being in charge of energy, that it was proper that a representative of the people should be in charge of a national resource. I say to him in all friendship that I resent that kind of language. I am just as much a representative of the people as he is. In fact, I represent somewhat more people than he does. Every member of my party must resent it, although perhaps many of them have not as short a fuse as I have and would take it in their stride. I do not take that sort of talk in my stride and he is a very foolish man to utter it. That sort of thing switches off people in my party as it does me. If the Labour Party are anxious to achieve part or all of their programmes they must have regard to the sensibilities of the people who vote for this party in far greater numbers.

[2567] In the long term, after this Government have gone their full term successfully, the best hope for the left here and for the country is that there would be an independent and strong Labour Party. The other two parties here, who have nothing between them except a number of old slogans that most of them do not believe in and personal, vindictive, inherited dislike and partisanship, should put these behind them. We should have a system here — not a merger; we do not need to live in one another's pockets or take in one another's social washing — whereby people who think more or less alike on economic and financial matters, as we do, would work together even on a basis of frigid civility but perhaps on a more cordial basis such as I see evolving in the Committee on Public Expenditure, of which Deputy Wilson and I are members. There is no limit to what could be done with co-operation. This party here should be left with what is rightfully their property, namely the leadership of the left, present and potential, and the potential is a great deal bigger than the present force. I say in all friendship to the Labour Party, to every member and not least to yourself, Sir, whom I respect as colleagues in this House, that I have never had any trouble with them. When I was Government Whip they were the most loyal and solid of colleagues.

We should devise our politics in such a way that they have an unencumbered leadership of a very large number of people who are now feeling frustrated and for whose allegiance strong bids are being made from a different quarter of the House and from outside the House by people whose belief in free elections and in the survival and superiority of ordinary civilised standards of ideology I cannot have confidence in. That would be a healthy revolution. I do not mean in any sense to try to provoke convulsion in the middle of a Government's term, but, even to the point of tedium and boring the ears off everybody, I would like to try to keep this theme in front of people so that we will have one day here a less infantile form of politics, more rationally organised in which recognition of one [2568] another's strengths, sincerities and weaknesses will take the place of an inherited instinct to be in conflict, and in which exchanges across this House will be about real differences.

When Deputy Mac Giolla or Deputy De Rossa speak here I can feel the flash of real debate. Those Deputies believe in what they say. I believe they are wrong much of the time but in some things they are curiously correct. If we were to devote our minds to try to bring about such an evolution — perhaps after the next election, three or four years from now — the country would thank us. Thereafter, no one would have reason to complain about our young people being disillusioned and disenchanted.

Mr. Wilson: I cannot help but regard some of what Deputy Kelly has said as being true in that his objective was to indicate the seriousness of purpose that should belong to Members of the House and to the House in general. Nevertheless, some of his strictures on the party leader on this side of the House indicate to me something akin to hatred of that leader because he speaks about him vociferously and in terms bordering on hatred. I admit I spoke to Deputy Kelly briefly in the corridor a short time ago and indicated to him a certain concern that was arising in me about politics, about the profession of politics, about attacks on politicians and the suspicion that has been cast on their motivation for being in politics. This is something that is rampant and dangerous to our concept of representative democracy. In many cases the media have been less than just to the elected Members of the House. I agree fully with Deputy Kelly that he is a representative of the people. He could not refrain from a little boast that he represented more people——

Mr. Kelly: I regretted that at once.

Mr. Wilson: He fell into his own trap and I am going to fall into that trap also and indicate that I represent more than the two Deputies put together. The Deputy can check the statistics. He said that a person who had worked hard as a [2569] public servant with the IDA to get a factory for the country must feel peeved when somebody else claims, with the silly kind of pride we have, to have done the work. The fact is that the IDA is an agent of this House, funded from the House and the people provide the taxes for the organisation. The person who is speaking may be puffed up but he is representing this House and, through the House, is representing the people.

I would indicate to Deputy Kelly that the change in energy policy did not come about from a change in Deputy O'Malley but a change in the person responsible for energy for the Fianna Fáil Party — I refer to the late Deputy George Colley. The final point that gave me the shivers was when Deputy Kelly indicated there would be very little between a representative group on that side of the House and the people who happen to be on this side. This was one minute after he has praised Thatcherism and what it had achieved in the UK economy.

Mr. Kelly: I did not praise Thatcherism in its totality.

Mr. Wilson: The Deputy threw in a little saving parenthesis when he said it was done at a terrible cost. I do not want to be rude to Deputy Kelly but he praised what Thatcherism had achieved in reducing inflation. It does not impress me. Admittedly Deputy Kelly said it was done at a terrible cost in other ways and I am sure he was thinking about the high cost of unemployment. I was born and reared in rural Ireland. I was at national and secondary schools at a time of grave economic stress throughout the world. It is true there was no inflation then but there was a damn lot of misery and people suffered a lot. Admittedly it is important to bring down inflation but I do not see it as the touchstone to economic success, as some people seem to do in our neighbouring island.

This morning the Taoiseach said the usual practice was followed with regard to the introduction of the Book of Estimates. I understand the Minister for Finance was present at the briefing yesterday. As far as I remember, normally [2570] such briefings are at official level but I do not want to state something that is not true. I understand the Minister for Finance gave the policy decisions behind the figures contained in the Book of Estimates and this was a departure from the usual practice.

Again, there is a very heavy element of propaganda in the publication of the Book of Estimates. It seems to me the Government are anxious to get their own version of what the Book of Estimates means before this House has an opportunity of studying, assessing and giving a judgment. This is blatant propaganda. Reading one of the daily papers today one gets the impression that £407 million of cuts are involved but on reading the article one sees this was a cut in the demands made by Departments. The whole business is childish. Anyone who remembers the old fairs or markets would know that the farmer asked for £150 for a beast, that the dealer bids £100 and so on. Deputy Kelly was a member of a Government and he knows much the same kind of thing happens when Estimates are being settled for the various Departments. What we were reading was that the Departments had looked for £407 million more than they got. The figure was given in the newspapers today and it had to come from the press conference. However, it meant nothing with regard to the Book of Estimates.

I am glad Deputy Haughey, leader of Fianna Fáil, reiterated this morning what he said here in a debate quite recently with regard to the economic policies followed by Mr. Richie Ryan, the then Minister for Finance and Mr. Brendan Corish, Tánaiste in the 1973-1977 Government. It is a fact — and the words of the two men were quoted — that they laid down the principle of borrowing out of one's difficulties. They were hit with the oil crisis not too long after taking office. That must be admitted but there is something less than honest in claiming that it was not the 1973-1977 Government who started the process of borrowing but the Fianna Fáil Government of 1977 to 1981. Deputy Kelly will have to agree with me that that kind of propaganda is in line with what he had been criticising [2571] when he referred to the leader of Fianna Fáil.

Mr. Kelly: I admit it is not true that borrowing started in 1977.

Mr. Wilson: We will have a future discussion about that, perhaps before a meeting of the committee dealing with public expenditure. We have to emphasise it from this side of the House because the facts are there for anybody who wants to take the trouble to study them.

I have no precise expertise in economics but to a certain extent it is the science of everyday living. The payment for oil imports in dollars upsets the finances of countries like ours which have a fluctuating currency. I mentioned before in the House that there was a conference at Williamsburg accompanied by a great beating of drums and television cameras there from all over the world. There was a hope that something would emerge from the greatest financial wizards in the western world and Japan. However, nothing emerged from that conference. After the war, when things were in a bad way, John Maynard Keynes and his colleagues succeeded as a result of the Bretton Woods agreement, in laying down a framework for international finance which stood the world in good stead for a long time. It has broken up now.

I know we are very weak and small, but ideas are not the monopoly of the big batallions and our Minister for Finance should try to create something on those lines. When the dollar strengthens for reasons we cannot control I do not see why we should immediately be spending more money as a direct result and not because we made any mistakes in economic planning or governmental decisions here. We should have some kind of regulatory system because it is very serious when we read in the paper that due to the strengthening of the dollar against the IR£, oil companies grumble about the prices they are paying for oil and look for increases. This, of course, has an effect on the whole economy. Petro-dollars have to be paid for oil and the Reagan-Thatcher line — although President [2572] Reagan has softened a little, possibly for political purposes — is bound to affect us and our oil prices all the time. There was a school of thought at Williamsburg which pushed the idea of getting some kind of international regulatory system going but this did not happen.

Could the EEC not have its own petro-currency? We joined the EMS, and I notice that some people are now attacking it and saying it was a mistake. However, I do not believe that. The UK have not joined the EMS and I suppose that is a weakness but I cannot see why the EEC could not have a currency which would pay for dollars and which would not have the same kind of impact as paying out the few dollars we have for oil, especially as we have to pay more of them each time the US dollar increases in value.

I had not time to check the figures but I think the GNP of the ten EEC countries is larger than that of the United States. I do not see why the EMS could not be expanded to that kind of position. At the moment it is impossible to envisage that but there are quite a number of people in Whitehall who are anxious to join the EMS and they may have their way eventually. That might bring more stability and enrich the European Economic Community.

An economist writing in The Sunday Tribune is the only one who emphasised the advantages to our exporters in the UK market of having joined the EMS. Of course there are disadvantages, the purchase of raw materials and so on, but most of the statements coming from the Confederation of Irish Industry tend to ignore that and concentrate on labour costs. They never tell us about the advantages of being in the EMS. Perhaps, after the debacle in Athens — no blame attaches to any of our politicians in regard to that — it might be too much to expect an initiative in the EEC at this stage but I know that the founders of the EEC had such objectives in mind when, in the first flush of developing the European philosophy, they thought up the system of the European Economic Community. In this regard there is a tendency to take what harms us as something which is fixed and not to examine problems as deeply [2573] and thoroughly as we should. In The Economist for the week 3-9 December 1983 there is a graph indicating that West Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Belgium are losers and that Holland, Denmark and Ireland make net gains as a result of the EEC budget. The statistics and figures revealed in the graph indicate that we are having trouble from the UK Government with regard to refunds. The final paragraph in this article says:

The EEC commission recently made a stab at estimating the real incidence of the cost of the EEC's policies. Its new reckoning attributed farm spending not to where subsidies were paid but to where food was grown. This new method suggested Britain's over payment would be as little as half what the British claimed. The IFS calculations present a different picture. In its league table of who gains and loses from community transfers of resources between member states, West Germany and Britain are even larger losers than the naive calculation would suggest.

If the Commission has a different system we should know about it. I never heard it mentioned in this House. We should discuss it and reject it if it has no validity, but the very fact that it puts half of Mrs. Thatcher's argument away is a good reason for knowing a little more about it.

I am slightly worried at the whole attitude to agriculture. I come from an agricultural constituency and the economy is based on Killeshandra Co-operative Society, Monaghan Co-operative Society, Lough Egish Co-Operative Society and Bailieborough Co-Operative Society. The super-levy worries the members of those societies. They have written to me and lobbied me and we should realise fully what it means to areas such as those and, a fortiori, to heavy dairying areas in Munster and Leinster. The Minister for Agriculture should be strengthened in his resolve to reject the attempt being made to make us accept this super-levy.

We have made some progress — we cannot boast too much about it — since we joined the EEC with regard to increasing production. We have reached a 700 gallon cow production per annum, starting [2574] from 400 in 1973, but it is far from the 11,000 plus gallon cow which is the average for Europe. In this country at present there are 2,200 gallon cows in County Meath. They are very special cows. What I am saying is that we have tripled the national average of milk per annum. Even with the same numbers in our cow herd there is the potential of trebling the production of milk here. If we are pegged to a bad production year like 1981 there is no possibility of keeping large numbers of people from bankruptcy who are relying totally on the dairying industry.

I do not want to be simplistic; I know there are difficulties when negotiating at international level, but the Minister should put in the boot as far as New Zealand and factory farms are concerned. I know an impost has been placed on the factory farms but the cow that sees the sun and eats the grass produces the best product and more severe imposts should be suggested for the factory farms.

What battered small farmers insensate was the Government's action on 9 February in discontinuing the farm modernisation scheme. I do not know what was at the back of it. Was there a smart handler in the Department applying a cost benefit analysis to the farm modernisation scheme at a time when people were beginning to make some progress in development? I do not know. I do not know if a suggestion came from the press conference yesterday because nobody knows what came from the Minister, what came from a journalist's imagination, what came from misunderstandings or what came from yesterday's press conference, but the suggestion is that commercial farmers only will benefit by the new farm modernisation scheme. I hope that is not true. The suggestion is that the farm modernisation scheme will apply as an interest subsidy only. I hope that is not true either.

I reserve the most severe condemnation for the 21 per cent cut in money for agricultural education. Dr. Tom Walsh, the crusader for farm education, where are you? Centres were to be set up all over the country. Young people were [2575] enthusiastic to learn. Applications for admission to agricultural schools and colleges were greater than the schools and colleges could cater for. I am appealing to the Minister for Agriculture to see that the money for agricultural education is restored.

I do not know what are rumours and what are not, but the figures for CIE in the Book of Estimates are given and some commentator indicated that the new executive chairman will be closing down services. I do not know what authority that statement has but I think this House should be told about closures first. We had a debate on transport in this House and passed a Bill recently but there was no hint from the Minister about that. It is alarming to think that this is the development of policy by rumour or innuendo.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has six minutes left.

Mr. Wilson: I have about 60 pages to go; maybe you would have mercy on me. Is it an order of the House?

An Ceann Comhairle: Yes, it is an order of the House.

Mr. Wilson: The Dublin Transport Authority have been referred to as something about which the Minister is having a change of mind, in some of the details anyway. It was difficult enough at interdepartmental negotiations to get the agreed heads of a Bill, which I sent to the draftsman before I left office. I would like this Bill to be brought before the House as soon as possible because the task force, for which some money has been provided, have run out of steam. They can no longer make the important regulations about the traffic in Dublin city that the Dublin Transport Authority will be able to make when they have statutory feet.

There are no details of expenditure on harbours. I have here the public capital programme booklet for 1983 which we prepared. It is a fairly extensive booklet and has details of the harbours, hospitals [2576] and so on that would be built throughout the year. I would like the Minister for Transport to give some indication of what is happening about Ringaskiddy and other places, which I do not have time to speak about now.

There is £750,000 allocated to regional local airports. Connacht Regional Airport has been the subject of some controversy and I would like to know how much money is being allocated to that airport, how much to Abbeyshrule and Letter-kenny where there was a scheme for the development of a local airport. I do not want a monetarist point of view to prevail and a cost benefit analysis applied beforehand and development stopped in that area.

What is the Minister's policy in regard to the Dublin-Derry link? Subhead O indicates that £100,000 is available and I would like to know if that £100,000, which is a reduction, is being provided for the Derry link. I would like to ask about the B & I Cork-Pembroke service. From the newspapers I learned that B & I are supposed to have lost £1 million on this service this summer. Is there going to be a Cork-Pembroke, Cork-Swanseal or Cork-Fishguard service? The people in Cork told me that any of those places would be more suitable as a terminal for the service than the one to which they were tied in Pembroke. The Government have decided that the cost alleviation payment has been reduced by £1 million, from £5 million to £4 million. Again there are rumours. Are the Government thinking of phasing out the transatlantic service? Is there any truth in that rumour? I can see why the rumour would arise from a historical point of view, but I hope there is no truth in it.

I want to mention the difficulty of the one-in-three rule with regard to technical staff in the Department of Transport. I do not have to elaborate on what I mean by that. If the Minister is contributing to this debate, would he indicate the position of the Aireacht concept in the new Department of Communications, which will absorb all the Department of Transport and the residual section of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs?

There are indications that the Minister will be announcing to the House some [2577] decisions with regard to the McKinsey report in the near future. I do not have time to touch on the Lough Swilly railway system, the transport situation in northeast Donegal, which I was asked to raise here, the purely social service to the island of Tory, off the coast of Donegal, or an improvement in the service from Galway to Aran.

Freight legislation is imminent. It is very important that it should be brought in as soon as possible. A decision was taken to liberalise freight transport. People do not know whether to pay £8,000 for a plate now and find that it is worth nothing to them in a month's time. That is a problem which is continually with us. The many changes of Minister in the Department of Transport, I suppose, affected how quickly that could be brought before the Dáil. It is a matter of some urgency.

As far as hospitals are concerned I should like to know how much of the £55 million allocated in the capital programme is committed to buildings already under way in 1982. I have an interest — and so has the Chair although not qua Chair — in the new Cavan hospital and whether it will be built this year. There was some kind of a hint that nothing would happen until 1 March. The people in the area are sick, sore and tired of the vacillation and want a strong decision. They want the building to start as soon as possible in the New Year.

An Ceann Comhairle: Perhaps that would be a good note for the Deputy to conclude on.

Mr. Wilson: I will finish on this point. The Public Capital Programme should not have been reduced to the extent that is has been reduced at this time. A sum of £88½ million extra has been provided for social welfare. Much of that is being paid out to people with skills in the construction industry. There are jobs and enterprises calling out to be done. The last figures I saw were that somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 construction workers are out of work. Yet £88½ million extra is being provided for social welfare for workers who have skills. The trowels, [2578] the hammers and the spatulas and all the paraphernalia are left there, while these men go to the dole office or the UB office to get money. If the Government had decided to invest in the Public Capital Programme in the construction industry, this would have been eminently reasonable and we would have an increase in employment.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has gone over his time.

Mr. Wilson: As Deputy Kelly said, we are following the example of the British. Fine Gael think they will get back into Government as Mrs. Thatcher got back with over three million people unemployed.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy will get the Chair into trouble and have him accused of being partisan.

Mr. L.T. Cosgrave: The Government have been in office for over a year. At the last general election the Government were given a mandate. For the second time in 18 months the electorate decided they did not want the party opposite to continue to govern the country. Recently we heard frisky calls for another general election from Deputies opposite. One could compare the calls from the Leader of the Opposition for a general election with a small child looking for a toy from Santa which Santa knows is good neither for the child nor the child's friends.

Having regard to the difficulties we are facing at the moment and will continue to face over the coming years, the one thing the country does not need at this time is another general election which would divert us from our job of governing the country. The Government were elected by the people and must carry out that responsibility. They were given a mandate to govern the country for the foreseeable future, to take it through these difficult times, to implement the rule of law, and to ensure that people can go about their business in peace. They were elected to ensure that we achieved financial stability and to restore order. Because of the recession we have a large [2579] unemployment problem. We must ensure that our national finances are on a relatively sound basis. We have to stick to our task. We must solve the problems. We must be decisive and give the country the leadership and the firmness it needs. When we make decisions on policy we stick to them. When we give commitments we stick to them. There will be no U-turns and no going back on our decisions. The country is looking for decisiveness. We must give hope to the business sector and to many people who are in difficulties at the moment that things will improve and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and give hope to our young people that there will be jobs for them when they have completed their education.

The Government should concentrate on the task in hand and not allow themselves collectively or singly to be diverted onto certain fringe issues, issues which would create headlines but which are not regarded by the people as the central problems. They want to rear their families, to provide for them, to educate their children and, when they come to retire they should be able to enjoy the decent retirement they deserve.

The country wants a strong Government with a definite purpose and a definite sense of direction, knowing where they are going and giving the people the lead they require. We must avoid unnecessary distractions. To a certain extent, many Members of the House have been maligned over the past number of months and years. Some of us may have brought this upon ourselves. Most Members of this House have worked hard and for the good of the country. At times, unfortunately, short-term political gain or power-seeking initiatives have deflected Members from their true purpose, ruling for the good of the country.

As we look towards the next year or two we must consider the problem of unemployment, the problem of the nation's finances and the burden of servicing the national debt, and the necessity to lift the burden on the taxpayer who has reached the end of his tether and whose initiative has been sapped by continual [2580] tax rises. We must attract investment. We must ensure that there is an incentive for firms to develop and take on extra work and they must not be taxed at a rate which would make it almost as attractive to invest overseas. Businessmen must not be crippled by tax and various payments to the Revenue Commissioners. Those who are at work must be able to earn more by working than by drawing assistance while doing jobs on the side and contributing to the black economy. The small businessman must be compensated for the hours he spends in making VAT returns to the Revenue Commissioners. We must be aware of the problems entailed and of the difficulty he encounters as a result of the high VAT rates here as compared with those obtaining across the Border.

The message must go out from this House that all Deputies realise these problems. Most people are trying to get by, trying to bring up a family, pay a mortgage, run a car and educate their children and they are not too worried about the budget deficit and the present state of the balance of payments. They want a response in regard to the tax rates because they feel this cannot go on. They want some measure of hope and confidence, that there is light at the end of the tunnel, that we will provide the necessary jobs and that not as much money will be taken from them in order to run the day-to-day services. We must look at areas of wasteful expenditure.

I now turn to the subject of Dáil reform and I am glad that the Leader of the House is in the Chamber. He and my constituency colleague, the Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, have been responsible for the setting up a large number of committees, with the co-operation of the Opposition. The idea behind the committees is good and much work has already been done by them. Sometimes, however, the theory has not become reality and some committees have spent much time discussing accommodation and staffing, with the result that deputations have been sent at regular intervals to the Leader of the House and the Minister for the Public Service about the facilities available to [2581] these committees. The Minister and the Government must realise that all is not well with the committees, although some of them have been working well.

The committee system is to be commended in many respects, particularly the opportunity the system provides for Deputies to contribute to the formation of legislation. It is a move away from the system whereby legislation, once introduced, was forced through the House. Some good ideas emanating from Government backbenchers or the Opposition may in the past have been tossed out because the draftsman was not as fully aware as Deputies of the situation on the ground. From their attendance at meetings and clinics Deputies are in a far better position to judge the situation than certain individuals in the civil service who are behind closed doors looking at the theory and not the practicality. I would ask the Minister to look at the workings of the committees. I am sure my committee colleague, Deputy Gene Fitzgerald, would agree that——

Mr. J. Bruton: To what committee is the Deputy referring?

Mr. L.T. Cosgrave: There is a staffing problem in the Joint Committee on Commercial State-Sponsored Bodies. I welcome the various measures on Dáil reform but more can be done in getting work before the committees and ensuring that when reports are brought forward they will be looked at by this House, not like previous reports which have gathered dust on the shelf. I hope the Minister will consider making a certain amount of time available in each session for debating these reports.

Much criticism has been laid at the door of politicians regarding constituency work. Some of us might prefer not to have to attend so many clinics and advice centres if these problems were not being brought to us. Sometimes these problems are caused because people have not got their entitlements or received them in a reasonable time or because of lack of information. I am not going to criticise the civil service but there must be greater accountability from all concerned, a [2582] greater awareness that they are in jobs for which the taxpayer is paying and that the taxpayer demands a similar service to that given in the commercial field. They should be performing as if there were a fear of redundancy and of the job not being as secure in the future as it is at present. Each and every individual in the public service, from the bottom rank right up to the top — because I am sure that there are faults in all categories — must give the same service as a consumer coming in off the street would be entitled to in the private sector.

A committee has been examining the present situation with relation to CIE and some other semi-State bodies. I give one example regarding a restaurant opened in the Powerscourt House Centre off George's Street which sustained losses of £250,000 over a 15-month period. Certain members of that committee had indicated, when the restaurant was being opened at great expense to the State, that they had reservations, but because the State were paying the bill they decided to let it go ahead. A 35-year lease was entered into at £32,000 per annum, but the restaurant folded up after 15 months, leaving liabilities and duties under that lease which will continue unless a similar tenant or lessee can be found at the same rent. I understand that a new tenant was found, but for the past couple of months he has failed to pay the rent. Inevitably, whether it be CIE or the State which pays, it will fall back in the end on the taxpayer. We must ensure that decisions like this are never made in future without the people who take the decisions putting their own necks on the block. As long as a cushy atmosphere prevails that no matter what happens there is a big father over all to pay the bills, these decisions will continue to be made. It is important that there be a greater accountability with reference to committees, Ministers and Cabinet. The taxpayer is paying the piper and he is entitled to call the tune that he wants. If he does not get it, the piper should be fired.

The escalation in crime has resulted in ever-increasing numbers of victims. In the light of the Criminal Justice Bill which was introduced eventually by this [2583] Government — and I say eventually because it has been promised by various Ministers in the past — it is important that we do not forget the rights of victims. While all are entitled to justice, the papers concentrate on headlines concerning possible infringements of the rights of suspects or criminals. We must not just pay lip service to the protection of the rights of victims of crime and they are many, from little old people who are mugged, robbed and attacked so that they are afraid to open their doors and people whose houses are robbed and cars broken into, to victims of more serious crimes. I regard attacks on the individual as every bit as serious as raids on larger establishments where valuable equipment is stolen.

In the coming year there must be greater use of the services of juvenile liaison officers so that our young people are given every chance to have their energies guided in the right direction. As much money as possible must be allocated to ensuring that young people in areas lacking facilities are cared for while at play as children or when let out on their own in later years.

I turn now to housing and the Department of the Environment. Local authorities are at present in very severe financial difficulties. This is because Governments from both sides have never faced up to the fact that with the stroke of a pen in 1977 rates were abolished and no provision was made afterwards. Deficits were gradually built up by many authorities over a period of time. Eventually the crunch had to come and it has come this year. The previous Government had made provisions for certain sums to be raised by water rates. Whether we call them water, refuse, or any other type of rates, the money must be raised. Additional charges will have to be levied, as they were previously. If the money is not available from the Central Fund, the public will have to face the option of paying for the services or going without them. There were murmurings and whisperings during the recent Dublin Central by-election campaign following on water bills having been issued at that time, but no [2584] matter which side is in Government, the stark reality must be faced sooner or later.

With regard to housing and building, whatever money is available must be allocated towards giving a bit of a boost to the building industry, even if specifications must be for smaller houses. The building industry has been going through a very difficult period of late and the people involved in it need support. I hope that the Government will consider this proposal very seriously. It is also our hope that in ensuing months the Government will bring forward an educational policy catering for the needs of the many young people at present in school, some attending university or other colleges, some engaged in various other programmes, so that they will have a job at the end of the day.

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Cosgrave has three minutes remaining.

Mr. L.T. Cosgrave: There has been a disturbing trend recently in politics in this country in relation to certain publications, information, whether it be in regard to Cabinet meetings, in relation to policies to be brought forward by the Government or whatever. Leaks, whether inspired or otherwise, must be deplored by all Members of this House. It is important that the Government establish from where such leaks have emanated and ensure that the plumber seals them off.

It is important that a Government take decisions, be seen to take them, discussing them adequately and then adhering to them. It must be remembered that we continue to face difficult circumstances. Although the Opposition may play politics from time to time, it is to be hoped that they and Government backbenchers will support the Government over the next few years with the national interest at heart. It is important also that, over the next couple of years, there be seen to emanate from the Government decisive, emphatic leadership, that they be seen to adhere to decisions taken so that the country knows where it is going, thereby giving our young people and old alike a [2585] sense of security and hope. At the end of this year we must reflect on any mistakes made and on decisions taken in the course of that year, not being afraid to admit that some might have been handled differently. We should look forward to the coming year with confidence. We should be said to be worthy of our past and, through our efforts, render the future more certain.

Mr. Gene Fitzgerald: The tenor of this debate was set by the Taoiseach this morning at a very low level. I would hope that Opposition speakers would not stoop to the low level of politics set by the Taoiseach this morning, when I believe he returned to the gut, sewer politics that he introduced into Irish politics in 1979 and which, since then, have done irreparable damage to this nation. A year has passed since he and his Government took over the reins of office. Despite the best efforts of his handlers, the unprecedented expenditure on public relations exercises, the people are fully aware now of his inadequacies for the office of Taoiseach.

Today we are discussing the Estimates and Adjournment Debate of a Government in office now one year. Some of the language used in Adjournment Debates in this House over a year ago by the Taoiseach and his front bench, now his Ministers, was indicative of the problems confronting the country. They seemed to convey the impression that if once they got the reins of office, by the end of that year we would have reached a euphoric situation never before experienced by our people. What a disaster that year has turned out to be.

Our leader outlined clearly this morning from where the deficit budgeting emanated, who undertook most of the borrowing undertaken. He outlined very clearly the pattern of Government developed by the present Taoiseach during his participation in the Coalition Government of 1973. The truth and accuracy of that is so important it must be conveyed to our people, to belie the attitude of this Government, the impression they are endeavouring to create that theirs is a Government of financial rectitude. As he [2586] said, financial rectitude died at one o'clock yesterday. Financial rectitude was preached by the Minister now present when he was in the Department of Finance, by the present Taoiseach and the present Minister for Finance. A new system of estimating savings was introduced to the media this morning, obviously perpetrated by the handlers, when we were told that X millions of pounds were saved in various Departments. We had to read on to discover how these figures were reached. All of us know from experience in Government that each Department submit demands for various schemes and programmes under their control or for various agencies and operations under their aegis. The Government go through each Estimate carefully and finally come up with a figure they regard as being adequate for the service of that Department. In other words, if a Department seeks X millions of pounds it is pared down and becomes Y millions of pounds at the end of the day. We are told the difference between X and Y millions of pounds constitutes a saving. That is the land of mythology; there is no basis whatever for that in fact. For long the experience of every Government has been that the demands of a Department in its entirety have never been met; they have and always will be pared. But, for goodness sake, let not the impression get abroad that this Government have saved something in the region of £456 million.

What has been said throughout the year obviously has not been realised because our opening budget deficit will be of very substantial proportions. Having gone through a year of severe hardship, activity must be and be seen to be increased. The rates of value-added tax must be examined with a view to their reduction, particularly in key areas in order to stimulate activity. The construction industry and its difficulties must be examined closely, as must tourism, and value-added tax which affects all of those. Personal income taxation has long been acknowledged as being too high and successive Governments have allowed that continue. The Government of which I was a member genuinely tried, with a lot [2587] of success, to improve that situation but it deteriorated again in the course of the past year. I share the concern expressed by the President of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union in my city last evening when he said that unless the tax burden was eased, then the role of wage negotiators would be rendered impossible.

The biggest single problem confronting us at present is unemployment, more especially youth unemployment. We have heard little or nothing from the planning board set up with such a blare of trumpets earlier in the year, although we were told by the Taoiseach that, in the interim, they would be feeding essential information to the Cabinet in the preparation of these Estimates, and that they would be drawn up in such a way as to generate and stimulate employment. Such is not obvious from the Estimates nor is it from a reading of the newspapers following yesterday's press conference to explain them.

The newspapers today make interesting reading because they reveal that we have a new style of Government operation in which the handlers play a major role. Once the Estimates are printed, the handlers take over the presentation of them to the public with the Estimates being channelled in the normal way through the Deputies. Obviously, the handlers considered it necessary that a slant be put on the Estimates by the Minister for Finance, that the policy decisions which normally one would expect to be outlined to the House were outlined first to the people by way of the media, there being no opportunity for the main Opposition party to have the information first hand.

The official figure for unemployment is in the region of 200,000 but we know that it is a good deal higher than that. Figures of 225,000 and even 250,000 are being mentioned. In any case the situation in that regard is very serious and the Government are not helping by continually preaching a message of doom and gloom. In Cork city and county we are dealing with an unemployment rate that is increasing monthly while apparently [2588] there is little or no concern being shown by the Government for that situation. I will have some very forceful questions to put to the Minister though I might add that I have some sympathy in so far as his experiences this week are concerned. The new Minister for Trade, Commerce and Tourism is probably one of the hardest-working members of the Government. Undoubtedly, he was the hardest-working member of the Fine Gael Front Bench when the party were in Opposition. However, while the Government problems are being patched up and while the splits are being mended, responsibility for the Department of Energy, despite the protests of Deputy Bruton, is being placed for publicity reasons, in the hands of the Tánaiste. I can understand that all this is traumatic for the Minister. He has undergone a good deal of pressure during the year but nevertheless I will be putting some questions to him about inconsistencies and an apparent lack of interest in respect of my city and county.

It is impossible to measure the press conference held yesterday in relation to the Estimates. We are told that medical cards available to students over 16 where there is not a means test involved will be withdrawn and that there will be a reassessment in terms of entitlement. This will cause severe hardship at a time when third level education costs are increasing. This change in the system will put in jeopardy the health of many young people because of the prohibitive costs of medical treatment. A year or so ago we heard the Coalition parties talk at every church gate and on radio and on television about the hardship the Fianna Fáil Estimates would create. How small the cuts were then by comparision with those now being imposed.

The Minister for Health says that people who have not paid their health contributions will not be allowed enter hospitals for treatment unless they produce £100 by way of admission charge. I wish the Minister well in collecting health contributions because it is only right that people pay what they should pay in this regard but in demanding that there be an admission charge of £100 for a person [2589] who may have to travel up to 100 miles to hospital is imposing a great hardship for people who simply may not be in a position to pay. We are told, too, that the VHI are to increase their premiums by 25 per cent because of the increases in charges in respect of private and semiprivate patients. These changes relate only to the area of health but there are many more to come. The ceiling for pay-related unemployment benefit is being reduced from 80 to 75 per cent. If we turn to page 6 of The Irish Times for today we find the following headlines:

Public capital spending bears the brunt; Hospital consultants told by Desmond to bring down costs; Rise in local authority housing subsidy; Bord Fáilte to get less for marketing next year; Farmers face higher fees for services; Cutbacks in Post Office services; National Gallery grant cut.

In the middle of all this there is the bright gem of a headline:

Job exam fees abolished.

The House will recall the debate we had here last year about the silly move to introduce such fees.

On page 7 of the same paper we find the following headlines:

IDA gets less for grants to industry and new factories... funds for Aer Lingus cut, Construction outlays may fall 5 to 8%; Allocation for AnCO trimmed.

There are some questions in relation to the Estimates to which we are entitled to have answers. I have been considering the consultancy service charges in respect of most of the Departments. Amazingly so far as most Departments are concerned there are substantial increases in this respect. One wonders if this is a case of more money for the handlers, of more gravy for the people who helped to put this Government into power. We are only too well aware of the way the Government have been hatcheting people in State boards. We are aware of the dreadful situation pertaining to Údarás na Gaeltachta into which this party have been calling for a judicial inquiry to clear [2590] the air. Nothing less is acceptable though a member of the Joint Committee on Semi-State Bodies has said that they intend carrying out that investigation. I do not believe this is an investigation for a political forum having regard to the long-drawn out battle in Údarás and to the amount of publicity that has received. A judicial inquiry in these circumstances would be much more appropriate.

The Government, immediately on coming into office, eliminated Bord on gCapall. They gave strong reasons for that at the time. We had the elimination, too, of the chairman of Bord na gCon, a man who during his 18 or 20 years in that position had served the greyhound industry to a far greater extent than it had been served by any other. We read now of new people being appointed to all the boards of semi-State bodies but of course these people are all of one political persuasion.

We were told that An Bord Pleanála was to be abolished. That has not happened yet though I am aware of advertisements that have been placed in the papers in regard to appointments. I do not know the reason for the delay in appointing a new board. There was a great deal of pressure to have the relevant legislation enacted before the summer recess but nothing has happened since in so far as the board is concerned. Neither has there been any improvement in the speeding up of planning appeals and applications. I feel strongly about that just as I felt strongly about it when we were in Government. I do not think that bureaucracy should play such a big role in the area of planning applications.

I have a very healthy respect for safeguarding of the environment. It is a matter of extreme importance. We have gone to the other extreme now. We have bureaucrats, some for philosophical reasons, others who are not anxious to work hard enough to establish the real position and others who have a biased approach to development, who tend to delay applications for development and planning that would give employment. I sympathise with any Government who must face obstacles in that direction. That must be eased. There is a new subhead [2591] in the Estimates for the Department of Labour, the enterprise allowance scheme. I welcome those efforts to encourage enterprises. However, physical planning is inclined to slow down and hinder the creation of some jobs. The Minister should review that scene and give it priority.

It is interesting to read in the Estimates the allocation for consultancy services. I should like to know why the Government have decided to increase that allocation. Is it a question of more money for the handlers to help them to continue the propaganda exercises they have been engaged in, although they have not been very successful in recent months? Is more money needed to help them carry on the campaign at a high level? The estimate for consultancy services in the Department of Social Welfare has been increased by 80 per cent, from £220,000 to £400,000 at a time when I understand that the pay-related ceiling has been reduced from 80 per cent to 75 per cent in the same Department. The Department of the Taoiseach, who are well known for their employment of handlers, have increased their estimate for consultancy services by 111 per cent, from £16,000 to £33,700. The Estimate for those services in the Department of Finance has been increased from £33,000 to £72,000, a rise of 118 per cent. In the Department of the Public Service the estimate for those services has been increased from £180,000 to £308,000, a rise of 71 per cent, while the Estimate for the Department of the Environment for this service has been increased by 80 per cent, from £10,000 to £18,000. The increase for the service in the Department of Labour is 300 per cent, from £5,000 to £20,000. On a quick calculation I estimate that the total for consultancy services is in the region of £3 million. Why did the Government increase the allocation for those services when we are hearing so much about cuts? I suspect that a lot of the money is needed to keep the propaganda machine well oiled and the handlers well supplied with the necessary oiling material.

In the Estimates for the Department [2592] of Labour I notice that the 1983 estimated outturn was £9,585,000 but the 1984 Estimate has been reduced to £8,605,000, a decrease of 10 per cent. If one takes account of inflation that decrease is in the region of 20 per cent. It is difficult to pinpoint where that cut will occur. I presume AnCO will continue to get money from YEA sources and the European Social Fund. The money from the latter is greater when it applies to schemes for young people. I should like to know if there will be a cutback in the training and retraining for those over 25. If that is the proposal I regard it as serious at a time when our unemployment figure is in excess of 200,000. If the Government intend to cut the allocation for training or retraining of adult workers they will hear many protests from me.

I should like to wish the new Minister for Labour well. He will be able to outshine his predecessor because there has not been much activity in the Department this year. We were promised legislation in regard to the hours of work, offshore safety, amendments to the Acts dealing with unfair dismissal and equality and methods to deal with the increase in the amount of dangerous substances, but nothing has happened. The Taoiseach, who this morning searched through every Department to find goodies, found one in respect of the Department of Labour. The goodie he found was that the former Minister had succeeded in circulating a discussion document to both sides of industry. After one year in office he produced a little mouse but the mouse was kicked as it emerged because the comments from both sides of industry were anything but complimentary. To the best of my knowledge no further progress has been made. The Taoiseach is wrong if he considers that that amounts to progress.

The last speaker referred to CIE hotels. Although I am not clear about the details of the scheme for those hotels, I welcome the Government's decision in that regard. I can see some difficulties arising on the transfer but I wish the scheme every success. In the many dealings I had with the CERT organisation I found them to be very efficient in the hotel and catering training area. The new [2593] scheme is a challenge but I am satisfied that if the Government are helpful we will see a successful hotel chain emerging.

I should like to return to the scene in Cork where there is high unemployment. I have been screaming for a long time about the need for a great capital injection to provide a deep water berth. Fianna Fáil provided £1 million in the Estimates in 1982 for that project but that was dropped by the Government when they took office. The Cork Harbour Commissioners, the local chamber of commerce, all sides of industry and elected representatives, have been demanding that berth. I do not know if a provision has been made for that work but if it has not it is disastrous for Cork. There is extra money in voted and non-voted capital for the Department of Transport. According to an article by that eminent journalist, Liam O'Neill in today's issue of The Cork Examiner he asked the Minister for Finance about the harbour project at the press conference where the Estimates were presented and was told by the Minister for Finance that a memorandum on the issue would be before the Government in the near future and before that was discussed he could not make any statement about what the provision would be. Contacted later by The Cork Examiner, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Peter Barry, said that the memorandum had actually gone to the Government from the Department of Transport and would be considered soon. He said that it sought finance for new proposals that had been put forward by Cork Harbour Board shortly after the visit of the Taoiseach to Cork about three months ago. The Minister must be aware that the proposals were put forward many years ago and were updated and strengthened at the request of the Taoiseach when he met public representatives and Cork Harbour Commissioners in Cork about three months ago. Had the people who met the Taoiseach thought that three months later they would not have had an answer from him they would have been appalled and astounded.

Money is provided in the Transport Estimate for harbours. The voted amount is £1.6 million and the non-voted [2594] sum is £8.038 million, if the Minister for Finance is right. How much of that will be provided for Cork? Deputy Coveney today endorsed what I am saying. A deep water berth is important for short-term employment in Cork and it would open up a whole development area of 1,000 acres with enormous potential. One industry there will start production in January but the lack of a deep water berth will cost them money.

I have not time to say half what I had intended. The biggest problem we have is unemployment, particularly among the young, but the Government are not doing anything about it. If they cannot improve their performance in weeks rather than months they should hand over to those who can.

Minister for Trade, Commerce and Tourism (Mr. J. Bruton): It is important we should realise that the world is going through the process of major economic recovery. It has been under way in the US for 12 months and already there is economic recovery in Germany, the United Kingdom and, somewhat more slowly, in France. The difference in France is that in the early months of their initiation the Government there made some of the mistakes for which the previous Government here were responsible; they threw money into the economy but found it did not solve their problems. Now the French are having to restrict their economy and are not sharing so much in the world recovery as they would like to.

Output is rapid in the US. Civilian unemployment has fallen by 2.4 per cent from 10.8 per cent since last December. Now the unemployment rate is 8.4 per cent. That is a major drop in unemployment and it shows that in the US the economic recovery is turning itself into actual jobs.

If we organise our affairs properly we can share in this recovery. The US economy gives a boost to world export markets. We depend on exports for 49 per cent of our output and if there is an upturn in export markets, if our competitiveness is right, if our products are of the right quality, if there are no industrial [2595] disputes or restrictive practices to interrupt deliveries, we can get a major share of those markets.

That should be the focus of our activities—to ensure that Ireland can share in the economic recovery now under way in the US where the economy growth was able to lead to a fall in the level of unemployment. There are reasons why the US can turn recovery into jobs quickly. It is because there are not so many restrictive practices or restrictions on the ability of people to move from one part of the country to another to take jobs as there are throughout Europe and here. We suffer from the rigidity of our labour market, and I refer to Europe as a whole. Here economic recovery does not turn itself into jobs as quickly as in the US.

I should like, therefore, to see us looking at the unemployment problem not in terms of production alone but in terms of how we can turn production into jobs. If you look at the incentives in our tax code and the number of employed people, we can also see that we impose all sorts of restrictions on employment—it is almost as if our policy was designed to avoid a situation wherein increases in production lead to increases in jobs. If the balance of our labour market is not looked at we may be defeating our own objectives.

I have referred to this in a number of speeches during the year. I have dealt with employment opportunities. As a Government and people we cannot be sure we will be able to translate production into jobs unless we reform our labour market and make it more flexible.

We are doing very well in the manufacturing sector. Manufactured output in the first six months of this year was 5 per cent more than in the same period last year. Manufactured exports were up by 11 per cent in the first eight months of 1983. That is the best performance in Europe. As I pointed out elsewhere, we seem to feel an unjustified sense of powerlessness and failure in the manufacturing area. In the period covering 1980, 1981 and 1982, 19 countries were surveyed by the IMF. They included Ireland. In that period we had the fastest growth rate in manufactured output of [2596] the 19, which included the US, Japan, Britain, Germany. Only three countries had increased output at all. Ireland had the largest, followed by Japan and Denmark. The others showed a decline in output in those three years.

We can see that we have the capacity for very substantial increases in manufactured output here. We have been doing it and can continue to do it. Our problem is our inability to turn these increases in manufactured output into jobs. I believe that a large part of that lies in the rigidities in the Irish labour market. I participated in discussions with other Ministers yesterday with the National Planning Board, which is a very valuable initiative of the Government, to ensure that independent advice is given to the Government on all economic questions. I was particularly concerned that the planning board should look at the way in which the labour market works in this country. Are we able to ensure that increases in output are translated into increases in jobs rather than increases in investment and other factors of production?

I would like to say something about my work during the year, in particular in the industry area. As far as industry is concerned I have been mainly interested in trying to improve the environment for industry, particularly the cost environment. There is no doubt that there is a very large array of aids available to a new industry establishing in Ireland and, to a great extent, there is quite a substantial array of aids available to an industry which gets into difficulty, through the agency of Fóir Teoranta, who are an outstandingly good body. Other countries can learn from Ireland in regard to that body. The firm not engaging in a new project and not in danger of falling by the wayside, the firm in the middle, the broad mass of Irish industry who are simply getting on with the job of producing a product reasonably well without any major investments, are unfortunately over-burdened by excessive internally generated costs in our economy, whether they be electricity costs, telephone costs or taxation costs.

I believe we do not pay enough attention [2597] to those types of industries that are simply getting on with the job, that are not looking for grants of any description. We are allowing a situation to develop where gradually, not overnight, the ever-increasing burden of costs will force them into the situation where they will be turning to Fóir Teoranta or other agencies of that kind for assistance. During my 12 months as Minister for Industry I have been concerned with trying to change the environment for those type of firms by trying to do something about industrial costs. The most important initiative I have taken in this regard has been the establishment of the industrial costs monitoring group, which is a very high level body involving some private industrialists and all the major agencies and major Departments, including the Department of Finance, that have anything to do with anything that could increase costs in industry, to monitor the way in which the cost of the industrialist and his employees are being increased. Most of the increases in costs which take place, as far as industry is concerned, take place with the impact on industry only being given very peripheral consideration by whoever it is, whether it be the Electricity Supply Board, or the Government, who increase those costs. They always do it for some other apparently good reason. It is only after the decision is made that the impact on industry is analysed.

This industrial costs monitoring group will be there to institute an early warning system for the Government and for decision makers, to alert the Government to the implications of any decisions they might be contemplating for adding to industrial costs. It will be designed, if not to be a means of reducing existing costs, at least to prevent any further unnecessary additions to industrial costs. This is very important and I hope to develop further, in the work that is being done on industrial policy, initiatives which will be helpful to reducing industrial costs as well as preventing their further increase.

Another sphere in the industrial area in which I have been particularly interested is the food industry. I am sure [2598] everybody will agree that there is great potential in the food industry for the creation of more jobs based on our very ample food resources but I am not so sure that we have a national food export policy in Ireland. We have food being produced under the aegis of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Fisheries and its processing is under the Department of Industry. Until the decision amalgamating my present Departments together exports of food were the responsibility of yet another Department, the then Department of Trade, Commerce and Tourism. I am glad to say now that both production and exports are gathered under the one Ministry, which is a logical development as far as the promotion of food and other industrial products is concerned. There are still divisions between production from the land, in the Department of Agriculture, or from the sea, in the Department of Fisheries and the industrial side, the processing side and the export side.

I have taken certain initiatives, which I will be announcing in the next few days, to provide for better co-ordination of the entire food effort. We have great advantages in this area because we have an image internationally as a country that is relatively unspoilt with a more natural way of life than many other countries in Europe. That clearly is a very great marketing tool for our food. It is one we are not using to the full. We have not developed the generic image for Irish food that we should have developed. If we can co-ordinate better the marketing and production strategies of the entire food industry we can exploit that to a much greater extent than we have been able to do.

I am glad now to have responsibility for the legislation in regard to industrial and provident societies co-ops. There are certainly problems in the agricultural co-ops as they are under-capitalised and have to rely to an undue extent on bank borrowings for their development. This perhaps leads them not to invest as much in long-term product development that they should because it all has to be financed out of bank borrowing and they do not build up sufficient equity basis to [2599] do the job otherwise. I hope the legislation on industrial and provident societies, to which I will be giving a high measure of priority, will help to improve the capital base of the co-operatives.

I also have on my desk, although I have not had the opportunity to study it in great detail yet, a very substantial file on proposed changes in company law. We must eliminate the abuse of limited liability by certain individuals who are ripping off consumers and creditors in an irresponsible fashion but we must do it in a way which bears in mind that we need people to go into business. Any new business, whether it be an incorporated business or an un-incorporated business involves very substantial risk taking by the individual concerned and we must ensure that the legislation is so balanced that it will take the necessary steps to eliminate abuse without creating undue problems for an individual who in good faith is trying to set up a new business in an incorporated form.

I would like to say something about the work I have been doing over the last 12 months in regard to energy matters. During that period we have had considerable achievements as a Government in this area. I am delighted to say that I was responsible for concluding two major agreements for the supply of natural gas to the two large urban areas in this island, Belfast and Dublin. It is important to realise what this does for the country. We now have arrangements for the distribution of an Irish fuel, not just to Dublin, but to Northern Ireland as well. It means that we are able to avail of the best possible market for natural gas. It is far more efficient to burn natural gas in peoples' homes at the best possible price and replace imported oil rather than to use it in industry where very often it is merely replacing imported coal which is a cheaper product. If you can replace the most expensive product, which is oil, you are getting the best possible value for your gas.

That is why it is justifiable for the Government to have put a major investment into the development of a natural gas distribution system to get into the [2600] homes and industries of Dublin. The arrangements that have been made in that regard have been very good indeed. The House is aware that they were provided for in the event of the success of the project with 80 per cent of the profits to be returned to the taxpayer. The involvement of private enterprise in this area in partnership with the State will ensure greater prospects of success of the project, because more than one insight will be brought to bear on the way in which the thing is being done. There will be the public sector input through the State directors and the State-appointed person involved in taking on the whole conversion and development programme in Dublin. Other views will be brought to bear on the project to ensure that we get the best possible return for the taxpayer and the consumer in this area.

The investment is not in the form of substantial investments of cash. The amount of cash being made available by the State to the project is very small indeed and it is in the form of a loan. The vast bulk of the investment by the State in Dublin gas conversion will be in the form of rebates of the gas price and a large part of those rebates will be refunded to the State once they have done their work. They will not be grants, they will be rebates repayable with interest. A small portion of them will not be repayable but they are still only rebates of a high gas price which probably you would not be able to get anyway if you did not convert Dublin. Therefore, the State is putting in money to ensure that it can get some of it back anyway and get the rest of it back through having a much larger premium market for the product the State is trying to sell — namely, natural gas — which replaces imported oil rather than imported coal, as would be the case if it were simply being supplied to industry rather than to the domestic market.

It is a sensible investment that will rebound greatly to the benefit of this country and will improve significantly our infrastructure. The existence of an extended natural gas distribution network is now considered to be one of the basic infrastructural items that one [2601] should have in a modern country. There is a natural gas distribution network in practically every city of Europe and the targets being set by Dublin in this regard are quite realistic by comparison with what has been achieved by other countries using imported natural gas. Most European countries do not have natural gas of their own, yet they have seen it worth their while to put in such a network so that they can use an imported product. That is all the more reason why we, who have natural gas of our own, should ensure that we can use it in the best and most efficient way possible within our own shores.

I am also glad to have been responsible for achieving the completion of the negotiations in regard to the supply of natural gas to Northern Ireland. As I said at the time, I do not regard this arrangement as a political one. It was a business arrangement made to the mutual advantage of both parts of this island. It is valuable in that it creates a very physical and tangible link between the two parts of the island. It provides a basis for future co-operation and sets a headline for what can be done in the future for the people on both sides of the Border. It is a tangible measure of our concern to be in constructive dialogue with people in Northern Ireland. I am glad that I had the privilege of being the Minister who was able to complete these negotiations. In saying that I do not intend to take in any way from the contribution made by any of my predecessors — they were many — who were involved in setting this up.

I am glad also that I had an opportunity of establishing an inquiry into electricity prices. I set a very tight deadline of six months for the production of their report. An interim report has already been produced which makes a number of useful suggestions and the final report should be supplied to the Minister for Energy sometime in the first three months of 1984. We need to look at electricity prices and costs because they are a major problem for industry and consequently for the job creation effort. I hope that the reports will provide a basis for an objective assessment which will be a prelude to resolute action in this area.

[2602] I have been responsible for the initiation of an inquiry into the use of peat resources. There has been quite an amount of controversy about the boglands and peat use in recent months on foot of a strategic plan supplied by the ESB. This debate, although it has many negative aspects and people are concerned about some proposals in the ESB strategic plan, affords an opportunity to have an overall look at how we are using our turf resources and to consider if there are better ways in which we could use them. I am glad to have been involved in arranging for an official of my Department to visit Finland recently, which is one of the other three countries in the world with substantial peat resources in use. They have a number of initiatives in this area for using peat as a fuel directly in industry rather than converting it into electricity for sale further on, and we could consider using it in that way here. The inquiry that I have established could I hope — and it is too early yet to be certain whether the technical evidence is such as to justify this hope — be the prelude to substantial industrial development in the bogland areas where we can use Irish fuel directly in industry rather than converting it to electricity. When you convert a fuel into electricity you lose almost half of its thermal value. The ultimate product is thermally reduced in value because of the conversion process. If you can use it directly you get greater thermal output for a given unit of energy.

I initiated a major study of oil exploration policy. I visited the Netherlands and the UK and my Minister of State, Deputy Collins, visited Norway. Those are the three major European nations which have offshore oil reserves. Our intention was to examine their policies and how they have worked out in practice. The policies in each of the three countries are quite different. I was struck by how well drafted our own offshore exploration terms are. Nothing that I saw abroad suggested that there is significant room for improving on the terms that were prepared by one of my predecessors who was also my Minister when I was Parliamentary Secretary, former Deputy [2603] Justin Keating. They provide a very flexible instrument whereby we can adapt to the needs and opportunities that exist in the offshore oil exploration area.

Here again we must take a balanced and pragmatic view of the situation. We must have terms, and we cannot say what they will be until we can see whether we have commercial reserves and the extent of those commercial reserves. One must realise that the terms will tend to vary depending on the size and marginality of the field. If the field is only barely marginal and it is touch and go whether it will be worth developing, clearly the terms would tend to be different from those which would apply in the case of a field that was clearly very commercial and no matter what happened people were going to want to exploit it. You must have flexibility in setting the terms, depending on the size of the field. If you set them too severely in a marginal field the oil company might say that it does not matter, they will go and develop a field in Borneo or off the north coast of Alaska instead of in Ireland. One must make a pragmatic decision in this area. The terms set out by the former Deputy Justin Keating provide us with a very flexible instrument for making the right balanced decision in this area of our natural resources.

Tourism is one of the areas now included in my brief and I am interested in initiating a considerable study on tourism policy. There have been extensive reports on tourism policy in recent times. I have here an NESC document produced about two years ago and there have been further studies in my Department on this matter. There are a number of factors we need to look at in the tourist area to ensure we get the best value. We must be realistic about it; we have not been outstandingly successful with tourism in recent times. The Irish share of spending on travel abroad by UK residents has declined from 15 per cent of UK spending in 1970 to 9 per cent in 1977. The Irish share of US visitor numbers to Europe declined from 9.3 per cent in 1968 to 7.7 per cent in 1977.

A number of factors have been identified and the question of costs is something [2604] about which we should be concerned. We must also review the structure of incentives we have for the tourism industry. Our domestic tourist business is peaking unduly in the sense that it is almost entirely concentrated on the months of July and August. There are hotel bedrooms catering for the domestic tourist industry which are under-utilised for the rest of the year and obviously that is under-utilising a valuable capital asset. We must try to find ways of encouraging Irish people to take their holidays at home at off-peak times so that the available rooms can be used to the full extent.

Mr. G. Collins: I wish the Minister every success in his effort to try to get Irish people to take their holidays in Irish hotels at Irish hotel prices in the off-season. With the kind of weather we get in the off-season, one would nearly need to pay people to take their holidays in Irish hotels. I am concerned about the state of tourism here but without any disrespect to the Minister for whom I have a high regard I think there is a certain amount of wishful thinking in what he said. However, the Minister is facing a major challenge. I wish him well and I hope he can do something about it.

We do not need any major reports to show what has gone wrong with tourism here. The answer is that we have priced ourselves totally out of the market. At the moment one would need to be a millionaire to take a holiday in an Irish hotel. Perhaps the Minister could afford such a holiday but I and many others could not. There is a major problem here with regard to costs. The Minister will have full support from all sides of the House if he can do something to help the many people who are involved in the industry.

The debate we are having here this afternoon is an occasion when the Government tell us what they have been doing and when the Opposition tell them that while they have done certain things they have not done as well as they think. I will confine myself to a number of points. I was totally disillusioned with the contents of the Taoiseach's speech this [2605] morning. In my view it was a feeble effort by those who advised him on the contents of the speech.

What hope did that speech hold out for the many thousands of young people who have left school with various qualifications and who are now in the unemployment queues? What will it do for the 200,000 people out of work? The Minister, Deputy Bruton, represents a farming constituency as I do but there was nothing in that speech this morning but despair for the farming community. What hope can there be from today onwards for the many thousands in this and in other cities who are scared out of their wits with hooliganism, vandalism and the break down of law and order?

At time it does not matter too much what we say here and how we view things. We should listen to the people outside and they will give us a totally different picture. On a number of occasions I have made known my views with regard to the relevance of this and other parliaments. I am not saying this just because a Coalition Government are in office: I said it when we were in office. We are distancing ourselves more and more from the problems of the people and this will do Parliament and the nation immense harm.

I am being very generous to the Taoiseach but it has to be said that the contents of his speech were unbelievable. He must be suffering from some kind of political inferiority complex. In my 16 or 18 years as a Member of this House, this was the first time I heard a Taoiseach mention every member of the Government by name and list what they were doing and for some unknown reason Ministers of State were named in the list today. It was as though the Taoiseach were handing out bouquets for jobs well done. The whole thing was unreal.

Somebody should let the Taoiseach know that it is an established fact that in this year 87,000 homes in Dublin were broken into and robbed. That figure was supplied by the Garda Síochána. What is even more frightening is that it is estimated that figure will increase by 20 per cent in the coming year. There was a sick joke told on the radio a few days ago with reference to something written by Seán [2606] Cronin of The Irish Times. A question was asked in one of the Washington newspapers what one did in Dublin on a Saturday night and the answer was, “You get mugged or you get drunk”.

From long experience as a former Minister for Justice I consider that what the Government have decided to do in the Estimates shows a degree of madness. If they are serious about protecting people and property they are going about it the wrong way. I support in principle the legislation which is under discussion at the moment althoug I have certain reservations about it as I am sure have many other people here. The Minister of State is a legal person and I am sure he also has reservations. I know the legislation is necessary but it will not be worth the ink with which it is written unless we give the Garda the resources they need to do the job demanded of them. Now we will have a big cut-back in Garda recruitment and I am sorry about that. I am sorry the Minister for Justice was not able to succeed at Government level to convince his colleagues of the necessity to have more gardaí as a matter of urgency. The Minister of State and Deputy Coveney are urban Deputies. They know that if one visits a Garda station and sees the personnel available during the day or night one realises that the thin blue line which affords security and protection for the people is extremely strained and sometimes it is practically non-existent.

One of the greatest problems facing the community today is the breakdown in law and order. It is a live issue and people are scared. I am not an alarmist, I spent over four years in Government dealing with the problem and three years as Opposition spokesman on law and order. I have a good idea what is involved and I feel sorry for the Minister for Justice on a personal basis but more so for all those people who depend on him and the Garda to protect them. He should have rejected the decisions that were made concerning the Estimate for his Department and tried to hammer out a better deal in an effort to help the Garda Síochána. Things are chaotic. Armed robberies are becoming almost as [2607] frequent as they were during one period when I was Minister for Justice. Indeed they were worse then but it has again reached crisis proportions.

At that time the Garda had a plan to deal with it and we established a special task force in each of the Garda divisions, a small group of highly trained, dedicated gardaí who specialised in dealing with the paramilitaries, subversives and political gangsters who resorted to every means possible to raise funds, sometimes for the sake of the “cause” but more often for themselves. This task force were highly trained and specially picked. They were extremely effective because, within a short period, the graph for armed robberies, violence, kidnappings and intimidation in which these people specialised showed a very sharp decline. It is with deep regret that I learn now that in most Garda divisions these task forces have been almost totally dismantled.

I do not want to score any political points, the only people I want to score over is the criminal and the subversive and I see myself as representing the families of those who were their victims. I know I am speaking for everybody in this House when I say to the Minister that he was extremely unwise to allow others to dismantle these highly successful Garda units that were doing such a good job. I have not spoken on these matters since I left the Department of Justice. If I manage to convince one or two people in the Government parties within their own parliamentary parties, at Government or Minister of State level, to look at the problem, I will have done a good job because it is a serious problem.

I had difficulty in restraining myself here recently when the Minister of State at the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, Deputy Donnellan, was under fire during Question Time concerning a robbery in Galway post office where something in the region of £200,000 was stolen. He could not say, for security reasons mark you, whether there was an armed guard at the post office. If we are going to treat this House to that sort of nonsense by way of reply to a parliamentary [2608] question, where we could not be told whether there was an armed guard on duty, we are making a laugh out of this little Parliament and inviting the cynics and youngsters who are being attracted to other parties to lose faith in us as a serious political entity who can genuinely reflect their views. I did not know that at that time the special task force of six highly efficient young men in Galway city had been dismantled. There were gardaí across the road from the post office who could have been on duty as and from the time the safe was opened until the moneys were disbursed throughout Country Galway. We now have a system where the Garda are not being given the opportunity to do what they were trained to do and what they are best able to do. That is wrong and that is why I say to the Minister of State, who is a barrister by profession, that you can have all the laws you like but, unless the police are allowed to do the job for which they were trained at damnably great expense, the criminal is going to win.

Deputy Donnellan thought he was very smart and clever when he refused to tell us if there was an armed guard on duty on the occasion of the robbery in Galway. He did not have to tell the subversives that there were no gardaí there. In most cases they will know it before Deputy Donnellan or any of us here will know it. It was mentioned in the Irish Independent the following day that I was involved in a supplementary question. I got a letter from a member of the Garda telling me what the situation was. He does not mind if his name is made known and said he will come to Dublin to brief me fully on the way that the subversives are the first to know the weaknesses in the Garda Síochána and that the hands of the Garda are tied in relation to this matter. Is it any wonder that we have these groups considering kidnappings once more? They know that the special task force is practically non-existent and it is no secret that there was a strong, subversive connection with County Kerry in the kidnapping of Mr. Tidey. It shows that these people knew they would have a clear run to Dublin to do their dirty business and could return home safely. The only way [2609] to deal with the criminal at present is to mark him man to man. Thank God there are not many of them but if we are going to prevent the Garda from dealing with them by cutting back on their resources and overtime, they will never win.

Overtime is often regarded as a dirty word. Since Judge Conroy presided over the Garda pay inquiry in the late sixties, there was a recommendation that they were entitled to work a 40-hour week the same as everybody else. The Government of the day accepted this but the criminal does not work a 40-hour week, he works around the clock. It is often necessary to ask members of the force to give up their spare time to go on duty. They do that although it is difficult for them. When figures are bandied about in this House concerning overtime there is never any mention of what the State takes back by way of income tax. In many cases it is more than half of what they receive. In this year's Estimates we are really crucifying the Garda and encouraging the criminal. It will be a walkover for them to follow their criminal activities for the next 12 months.

The Garda communications system, I understand, is to be decimated. If the Garda do not have a proper communications system, we will not go anywhere. I was privileged to succeed during my short term in office in making a start on getting the best possible radio communications system for our Garda so that they would have a chance to keep up with the criminal. A lot of hard work went into it. There was a panel of advisers consisting of lay personnel, university professors and other experts who gave their time to come up with this system. If that system is thrown aside, let there be no doubt in anyone's mind but that the criminal will be the first to see that weakness and he will exploit it.

I understand Post Office services for the Garda are down 16 per cent. Do the Post Office services cover part of the purchases for the Garda? We will know this when we get the chance to tease it out. The Post Office are the purchasing agent for the Garda until the end of this month and if their allocation is reduced [2610] by 16 per cent, things will be unbelievably bad for the Garda.

Transport is down 21 per cent. Unfortunately, the criminals do not depend on an Avenger or a small Escort: normally they have the pick of the fleet, if they are nimble-fingered and effective. I have heard they have a liking for the BMW, a damnably expensive but very fine car. If our gardaí cannot match them, we are in serious trouble. Here we are, in this day and age, with crime levels going through the roof, and we are cutting back on the force.

I understand that radio and other equipment has been reduced by 69 per cent. I cannot understand how the Minister could tolerate such a cut. I know him to be a man well able to make his point of view known. I respect him for that, although, naturally, I do not always agree with him. But there is something radically wrong when we cut this service by almost 70 per cent. This is ridiculous.

Another matter causing concern is the discontinuation of the prison building programme which I got underway on a large scale because there was a great need for more prisons. I do not think the Minister of State, Deputy G. Birmingham, was in this House when I was trying to defend the prison system and fight for money to ensure that those convicted by the courts were denied their liberty, and that the innocent would be protected. A Cheann Comhairle, I am not too sure that you were innocent but from these benches you flayed the life out of me when I was having a prison built in Clondalkin. As a party Fine Gael used every weapon they could lay their hands on. You did not put the country or the protection of the citizen first on that issue.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair is wondering to whom the Deputy is referring. He should address the Chair.

Mr. G. Collins: I am looking at the Ceann Comhairle. He probably has a guilty conscience——

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should address the Chair.

[2611] Mr. G. Birmingham: The Deputy was addressing the Chair very specifically.

Mr. G. Collins: I was addressing you, but you were not looking at me. The Government have been very unwise not to continue the prison building programme I got underway. On an admission by the Minister for Justice we know that 1,200 to 1,600 offenders who should be put away cannot because there is no place for them. This has a very disastrous and demoralising effect on the Garda because they bring these people in one door, but the judge cannot send them anywhere and they go out the other door. They are back on the streets before the gardaí and continue their career in crime. This has a dreadful effect on old people who are scared out of their minds. We ment such people recently in Dublin Central. We met old people who were afraid to go to the shops to buy provisions, afraid to leave their flats because they would be watched and then the flats would be broken into. They were also afraid for their safety while on the streets. I know what will happen now because the Government have published the amounts to be provided for the Garda and I am telling them what the consequences will be.

Every Member should be very deeply concerned about our youth. We have to look at the situation as it is. In every parish there are many homes with young boys and girls from vocational schools, secondary schools, universities and other third level institutions with qualifications which were acquired at great expense to the taxpayer, but no work for them. We are sitting on a time bomb unless we do something about this situation and fast. These young people see this institution as totally irrelevant to their problems and there is nothing in what the Taoiseach said today that will give them any comfort. I do not think the Minister, Deputy J. Bruton, mentioned that the IDA industrial grants were reduced by 14 per cent this year and that grants for building are down 40 per cent. Their building programme is halved. If the Government put financial fetters on the IDA, they will be [2612] following a very short-sighted policy. It is unbelievable that that could happen. These people should be encouraged to use their talents in an effort to deal with the many thousands of young people who are unemployed.

Is it any wonder that these young people become cynical or demoralised, or that there is a danger they will look to others for solutions to their problems? The two major parties — we can forget about the Labour Party; they are not present; I believe none of them has been here all day long; they are not interested — have justification to worry our party political existence because, unless we deal with that problem, they will go to others. There should be no doubt about that. Before this by-election in Dublin city recently, how many of us would have predicted that the Labour Party would finish up as a lame duck behind the IRA gunmen who put on the mantle of respectability for the occasion? Very few of us did. That is why I say there was no solace for the many thousands of young people in what the Taoiseach said.

It appeared to me that the Taoiseach's brief was prepared by the PR merchants who abound in great numbers in Government Buildings at present. I would have expected better from him. I got better from him as a student when he used to lecture me in UCD. He has gone off his game altogether. I mean that sincerely. He offered no hope whatsoever for the plight of the 200,000 people who are out of work. He told us provision has been made in the Book of Estimates for more dole for another 23,000 people above and beyond the 200,000 people already out of work. That is what they can look forward to.

The year 1983 was a very bad year for many. Unfortunately the prospects do not look great. I have restrained myself to an unbelievable degree from having an unmerciful bash at the Government. That would be one's natural inclination. I will not do it. I have not got time anyway. I hope the Minister of State will listen to what I said about the breakdown in law and order, the young people and the unemployed.

[2613] Mr. Coveney: Deputy Collins and I must have heard the same speech, but I took a different view of it from him. I thought there were messages of hope and confidence in it. I accept that people will interpret things in different ways.

I should like to refer to the background of these Estimates. In Opposition it is very easy to look at the Book of Estimates and find a whole range of things missing from it which they would like to see in it and which we would like to see in it. Deep in their hearts the Opposition know the background is different. This Government are caught in a vicious triangle of borrowing, taxation and expenditure. The Government who are being pilloried here and in the country for being Thatcherite and monetarist and all those terms, are borrowing up to the hilt and right up to the level beyond which we can borrow no further. That is the reality of the background to these Estimates.

The Government are not afraid to borrow. They are borrowing to the realistic limits to which they can go. The Fianna Fáil Book of Estimates and their document The Way Forward involved a substantially lesser level of borrowing and, therefore, much bigger cutbacks in expenditure on the basis that they would not be proposing significant increases in taxation as we are not. The charade here about the dreadful Book of Estimates — and it is a tough Book of Estimates — has to be looked at against that background, with our backs to the wall, and nowhere to go outside the country for more and more borrowing to sustain a standard of living which we neither earn nor can afford.

If the Opposition criticised the balance of this Book of Estimates — and they may well have done so; I did not hear all the speakers — rather than the end result, in other words, if they proposed that, instead of an 8 per cent increase on the non-capital side against a 2 per cent increase on the total capital programme, we should have shifted that balance a bit and cut into the non-capital side even deeper and increased the public capital programme in the way the Taoiseach inferred on the radio three or four [2614] months ago, I would probably agree with them.

I suppose the price of being in coalition, in a partnership with people with different ideas and genuinely held beliefs, is that there must be some compromise. The balance is probably the one most of us expected. I should like to emphasise that, on the capital programme where the increase is only 2 per cent, one of the things which should be borne in mind is the building industry. When I am not here, I am involved professionally in that industry. One of the most striking factors in the construction industry over the past year has been the way in which construction firms have increased efficiency and lowered tendering levels. In many instances we are now getting projects tendered at levels below the levels of tendering a year or two ago. This is quite remarkable in view of the fact that they have also had to absorb significant extra costs. In an examination of the public capital programme that ought to be borne in mind.

I should like to confine most of my remarks to the subject of employment which is the biggest single problem by far confronting us. There has been a great deal of debate and discussion about shorter working hours, early retirement and work sharing. These are elements which need to be looked at critically. They are not, and never can be, a major contributor to the increase in employment which we need so urgently, although they are important. The only way I can see that we can create the kind of job numbers we need, which are extreme by any standards, is by a very rapid expansion in our manufacturing base and in the penetration of the home market and export markets. Any other solution suggested is a cop-out in a sense. We must confront that problem.

We have had a lot of success in our export industry and we have a scandal in our imports. We cannot compete on our own market in so many items, not the least of which is food. We have to address that problem. It is a complicated one and there is no easy answer. We have to look at our overall cost competitiveness, stop talking about it and do something about [2615] it. That means we have to look at very moderate single figure inflation. We have to improve our productivity, and we have to have impeccable quality because a small country like ours selling in a big world needs to have the stamp of excellence to succeed. We cannot compete in the mass markets of vast quantities of output. We have to pick a quality image, inevitably with smaller quantities.

We must lose our fear of new technology. When there is high unemployment the great temptation is to retrench and to stop progress in the hope that somehow technology will pass by. This does not work and too many businesses have gone to the wall because of that philosophy. It shows lack of courage on behalf of management, unions and the country itself if we do not face up to it. The shining example of a country which has embraced new technology is Japan. If we look across the water we see a country with three million unemployed and a floundering, out-moded industrial base. We must look at the newer countries like Japan, Korea and others which have seized opportunities. Allowing that their social background and structure are much different from ours, we can learn a great deal.

We must grasp the industrial relations nettle. I know that this sometimes presents difficulties for a Labour Party Minister but on the other hand he has a more in-depth knowledge than others might have. I hope the nettle will be grasped and that we will develop in co-operation with employers and unions, a better industrial relations climate.

About two years ago when we had an inflation rate of over 20 per cent, I recall asking two company executives, one American and one Japanese, what was the biggest single problem they saw in Ireland from the point of view of attracting industry. They replied that there was only one problem, with which no manager could cope or plan for, and that was the fact that a man could put a placard outside the gate in a totally unofficial way and bring everything to a halt. That is as big a threat to trade unions as it ever was to employers and we must have the courage [2616] to confront the problem.

We must likewise encourage and demand a better standard from management. We need firmer and fairer management which is seen to succeed and breed confidence in its employees and fellow managers.

Some elements of our social welfare system need reform. It is lunacy that a person cannot obtain social welfare benefits and take a part-time job without breaking the law. That seems to be crazy. Some of our redundancy practices are defeating the objective of maintaining employment and it is of no use to blame a worker who sees the prospect of a large lump sum on the closure of a company. There is no point in saying he should not go after it because if there is an asinine situation existing, human nature dictates that most people will take advantage of it. It is the system that is wrong, not the people.

Personal taxation levels are definitely a serious disincentive and are breeding a bigger and bigger black economy. We must try to get the Government and Government agencies off the backs of industry, particularly in relation to the costs of energy and transport. We are certainly losing industry as a result of the cost of energy, especially electricity.

The Minister for Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism, Deputy John Bruton, has mentioned on a number of occasions the need for greater emphasis on marketing. One of our great marketing wizards, Tony O'Reilly, recently stated at a seminar in Dublin that if we want to penetrate the US market with any particular product it will cost $100 million over five years. That is the scale of the marketing challenge facing this small country. No individual manufacturer can face it. I agree with the Minister that we should be redirecting some of the grant-aid we put into buildings for the IDA towards marketing. If we do not, we cannot fill the factories that are empty or sell the products which they will produce.

I welcome the announcement in the Estimates of the reintroduction of the farm modernisation scheme. Many of us regret that it ever had to be terminated [2617] and the sooner it returns the better. I hope that some means can be found to pay out grants to those people who undertook modernisation schemes during the year, having been clearly given to understand by ACOT advisers and others that the grants would be forthcoming, but were then caught by the sudden ending of the scheme. I hope that in restructuring the system some consideration can be given to them.

I should like to comment on the performance of the Taoiseach in Europe during discussions about the EEC package and the super-levy. I congratulate him on the way he put across the message which, at least in principle, has now been accepted, that we must be a significant exception. One can only hope that he and the Government will bring the matter to an early conclusion because the uncertainty surrounding it is a serious impediment to the development of farming.

One of the interesting side-effects of the super-levy matter was the way in which it brought together people of very diverse views in the national interest. It was heartwarming to see a farming leader and a great trade unionist together in Thurles, binding people together in the national interest. We need more of that in other areas as well.

I now turn to the subject of offshore oil and gas. This week we had the shift of ministerial responsibility and the Tánaiste, Deputy Spring, is now responsible for Energy. Some of the things that have been said by his more left-wing supporters are, I believe, dangerous because this above all times is not a time for ideological battles about our natural resources. What we need above all else is a good deal in the national interest, while at the same time preserving the confidence of those people who are spending enormous amounts of risk capital in that area. It is easy for people who talk about national resources from a very left-wing position to forget that over 70 dry wells have already been sunk around our coast at the cost of hundreds of millions of pounds, not a penny of which was or could have been put up by the State. Where the risk is high, people are entitled to a profit and I have no doubt that [2618] Deputy Spring, whom I greatly admire as an individual and as Leader of his Party will, as Justin Keating did, produce the right balance, but it is important that he should be seen to be doing that quickly, so that there will be no erosion of confidence nationally or internationally on this matter which is so vital to our furture.

Many people may think that the oil which we hope will be found offshore in the next month or two is the most important thing, but it is not, of course. Most important is that over the next couple of years we should have a massive amount of exploration around our shores as a result, and find out its real wealth, depth and extent. Please God, it will ensure a rich future for the country.

I want to say a few words about the Cork region which I represent, and particularly about unemployment. I am mindful of the fact, and could not be otherwise, that the gravest unemployment in manufacturing in particular, has taken place in the Cork region over the past couple of years. Somehow or other, in the previous recession of 1974 to 1976 we seemed to escape the worst of it because we had major construction works going on at the time — NET, the ESB, the regional hospital, gas board pipeline and so forth. The present recession seems as savage now as the previous one was relatively gentle. I want to tell my colleagues in Government that six things must de done in the Cork region. Firstly, a replacement industry must be found for Dunlops; secondly, Ford's must be maintained in Cork; thirdly, we must get a major new industry — one at least — into Ringaskiddy over the next year; fourthly we must provide the funds to commence construction of the deep water berth in 1984 at Ringaskiddy; fifthly, we must protect the major industries in our harbour, about which I shall say a few words in a moment; sixthly, we must be more mindful of and concerned about the subject of tourism and the way in which it can beneficially affect the south-west regions of Cork and Kerry.

Regarding Dunlop's, we have read this week some cautiously optimistic and welcome news that Dunlop's have sold their company to a new company led by Irish [2619] people. It has been said that 500 jobs will emerge from that and we wish them good luck. They have not yet commenced discussions with the IDA, as I understand it, and we can only hope that those discussions will take place soon and lead to a successful venture. They will be welcomed in Cork.

The subject of Ford's is more complicated. Ford's are the greatest employers and have been for generations in Cork. They were the first Ford plant outside the United States, which American firm have very strong economic and emotional ties with Ireland and Cork. It would be an unmitigated disaster if anything were to happen to that company. This week the Managing Director and Chairman of Ford's in Ireland, Paddy Hayes, gave an extensive interview on the subject in The Cork Examiner. He said that there were four criteria for Ford's decision to remain in Cork or not — firstly, the overall size of the European market; secondly, how successful Ford's were in that market; thirdly, the rate of inflation in Ireland by comparision with other countries in which Ford manufacture, and lastly, the efficiency of the Cork plant. When asked to comment on each of these, Mr. Hayes said that the European market was poor at the moment but that there were prospects for improvement, that Ford's were successful there, that inflation in Ireland was too high and that the efficiency of the Cork plant was not good. One may well ask what the Government can do about that. They can do little or nothing about the European situation but plenty about our inflation rate and they are tackling that. They can encourage in every way possible Ford's management and employees to sit down and negotiate about efficiency and all entailed in that, so that there will be no excuse whatsoever for a pull-out from Cork on that basis.

A number of my fellow Cork Fine Gael Deputies today met Minister John Bruton and his Minister of State, Deputy Eddie Collins. They asked the Minister if he would issue a direct invitation to Ford's and the trade unions to meet him and have some exploratory discussions and to get information about the future [2620] of Ford's. That meeting will not solve the matter, but it is important that the Government, through the Minister for Industry, would be in dialogue with Ford's so that no stone is left unturned in ensuring that Ford's are maintained in Cork. At the end of the day, of course, it is primarily a matter for the Ford Motor Company, for its management and employees. However, it would be an unmitigated disaster if Ford's manufacturing were to cease in Cork.

I would go further than that. I would ask the Taoiseach to use his good offices with the President of the United States if that dignitary comes here as is expected next year, or, alternatively, if the Taoiseach visits the United States, as he may well do around St. Patrick's Day, to explain to President Reagan the importance of Ford's to Ireland. American Presidents are not unmindful of the influence and effects of the presence of large American companies around the world. That is not often used to our advantage here and I would ask the Taoiseach to do this because it is so important nationally and for the Cork region.

I refer now to Ringaskiddy. The construction of a deep water berth was something which I had hoped would be provided for in the Book of Estimates. I understand that, while it is not there, there is a separate memorandum before the Government in the name of the Minister for Transport, supported, I have no doubt, by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, proposing that funds be provided in 1984 to commence construction of that facility. We are not talking about a minor infrastructural piece of harbour work, we are talking here about a national facility which happens to be in Cork — a thousand acres of land in the ownership of the IDA, the largest potential industrial base here and one of the largest in these islands. It is not the same thing to tell a prospective industrialist that if he comes in here we will provide him with that facility as to tell him that we have already commenced its construction and that he can be assured of the matter.

Secondly, apart altogether from that aspect of the deep water berth, the whole nature of shipping is changing and ever [2621] larger ships are now requiring deeper water and larger facilities. Cork harbour, which is the second largest port in the country in terms of trade, will lose trade if we cannot accommodate larger ships, particularly in the coal trade, the fruit trade and the motor importation trade. That requires a deep water berth of the scale and size proposed at Ringaskiddy if the future of Cork harbour, irrespective altogether of the industrial development end, is to be maintained. I urge the Government to give absolute priority to this because it is seen in Cork not only for what it is but as an act of faith in the future of Cork. I ask the Taoiseach and the Government to make that act of faith, even in these difficult times.

I want to say a few words about the major harbour industries — Irish Steel, Verolme Cork Dockyard and NET. These are major national companies which happen to be in Cork, but have enormous national significance. Of course Irish Steel Limited, a most impressive and efficient plant now, has an EEC dimension but it is being strangled by the cost of electricity. I would request the Minister for Industry and Energy to examine that factor quickly. Certainly it is now a viable industry in which there has been a lot of investment, the management and unions having negotiated in a most impressive way. The cost efficiency of that plant is comparable with any of its competitors, particularly in Europe.

On the subject of Verolme Cork Dockyard, one of the saddest episodes in our industrial history was to see a Russian ship sail out of Cork harbour about three weeks ago because of a small industrial dispute at the dockyard. It would make one cry to see such happen at a time when that industry was bleeding. I understand that the Minister for Labour has been asked by all sides involved to help sort out their industrial relations problems. Always there are two sides to everything. I wish him well in that endeavour and stress that it needs to be tackled quickly.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has two minutes remaining.

Mr. Coveney: I want to say something [2622] about tourism because the Cork-Kerry region, the major tourist region of the country, depends very heavily on it. In recent years there have been assaults on our direct transport links with the outside world, particularly in regard to our cross-channel ferries and airport. I want the Government to bear in mind that they constitute the lifeblood of tourism. It is nonsense to suggest that people who came to this country from the United Kingdom to spend their holidays in Cork or Kerry can just as easily come through Rosslare as Cork. That is not so and our roads structure ensures that it is not so. I hope the Government will bear that in mind. John Bruton's leaked industrial policy——

An Ceann Comhairle: The habit is creeping in of Deputies referring to Ministers by their Christian names.

Mr. Coveney: Minister Bruton's industrial policy, which was leaked — so that I do not know whether it really constitutes policy — mentioned that Cork was to be singled out for special attention; that would be seen in Cork as tangible evidence of Government concern. I hope that is true and I would urge the Minister to confirm it as soon as possible.

We live in very challenging times but I contend that there exist also great opportunities. We have the best land, in terms of grass, in Europe. We have the largest zinc mine, hopefully we have large quantities of oil and gas, we have masses of fish and a lot of things going for us. Although we are going through difficult times I believe we will survive them.

Mr. Leyden: Deputy Coveney would appear to have a fair approach to the whole subject under discussion. I know he is deeply concerned about the crisis in his part of the country but he should remember that it is one which has been brought about by his Government. It is about time he stood up, was counted and represented the true values of the people of Cork.

This morning there were two major speeches, one from the Taoiseach and the other from the Leader of the Opposition. It was obvious that the most outstanding [2623] contribution was from the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Haughey. He outlined exactly the position of the country at present, the false promises of this Government over the past 12 months, given particularly in 1982 when they set out to conspire to bring down the Fianna Fáil Government of that time. They succeeded in doing so in a most unusual and undemocratic fashion, in circumstances which hopefully will never be repeated again and had not occurred up to then.

At that time we were working on our document The Way Forward which we had brought before the House. We were planning the economy in a proper, balanced way. The Leader of the Opposition at that time, Deputy FitzGerald, set out to bring us down on the basis that we were not performing to his liking. The facts are there now for all to see, that after 12 months in office we have a Government totally incapable of tackling the serious problems confronting us.

This morning we had a detailed statement from the Leader of Fianna Fáil, Deputy Haughey, who clearly outlined the problems obtaining in our economy and how they arose. As far as borrowing policies are concerned he clearly stated that they went wrong during the Coalition Government of 1973 to 1977. I am delighted he had an opportunity of placing that fact clearly on the record of this House. Nobody could deny the facts contained in his speech.

Minister for Fisheries and Forestry (Mr. O'Toole): It is most difficult to sit silently and listen to that.

Mr. Leyden: It is a fact and the Minister is aware of that.

Mr. O'Toole: It is not a fact.

An Ceann Comhairle: The debate will run more smoothly if there are no direct exchanges across the floor of the House.

Mr. O'Toole: I am sorry, a Cheann Comhairle, but you will appreciate my difficulty.

Mr. Leyden: The Minister has serious [2624] difficulties, in Scarriff, in Údarás na Gaeltachta and he has solved none of them.

Mr. O'Toole: And I am solving them too.

Mr. Leyden: We are indeed disappointed in the western region with the performance of this Minister — that is a genuine concern — that he has let us down very badly in Cabinet in relation to major projects affecting our region.

In the course of his remarks this morning the Taoiseach said:

The Minister for Transport and Posts and Telegraphs — soon to be Minister for Communications — Jim Mitchell, and his Minister of State, Ted Nealon, have introduced legislation to legalise local community radio. This legislation is currently the subject of public hearings by the new Dáil Committee on Legislation.

The Minister has not introduced a Bill to regulate the situation in relation to broadcasting; he has not brought before this House a local community radio Bill. The only Bill in that respect brought before this House was done on behalf of Fianna Fáil by myself in June 1983, a Bill defeated by the Opposition at that stage. Six months later we still have not got a Bill presented to this House. Furthermore, the situation is chaotic not alone in the Dublin region but throughout the State as far as illegal broadcasting is concerned. The decision to submit the Minister's thoughts on broadcasting to the Committee on Legislation may have been a useful exercise but, as far as a broadcasting Bill is concerned, it has led to delaying tactics only. Unless the Minister gets down to work very quickly we will not have a Bill passed through this House within the next six months. It is a matter of grave urgency because the law is being flouted. Nobody on the Government side seems to be concerned about the illegal broadcasting situation that obtains, and no steps are being taken to regulate the situation. This is particularly unacceptable from a Minister of State appointed with the objective of devoting his attention [2625] to broadcasting. It appears he has not had the capacity or ability to introduce a suitable Bill in this House which could be supported and passed before the Christmas recess, which would have been the appropriate action to have taken. In that respect certainly he has neglected his duties. I would appeal to him to introduce a Bill outlining Government proposals in this respect in this House in the next session.

I received today the arbitration report on a claim by the Irish Postmasters' Union — a copy of which has been placed in the Library — for a revised system and increased rates of remuneration. I should say it is a document agreed between the postmasters' union and the Department. I think I would be speaking for quite a number of postmasters when I say they are extremely disappointed that there has been no consideration whatsoever given to accommodation in this report. As I stated last night, in this situation the 2,100 postmasters located throughout the State provide accommodation without charge to the Department. During the conciliation and arbitration discussions it was thought that special payments would be made to the postmasters in respect of the provision of this accommodation, because it is very difficult at present for postmasters to have to provide for lighting and heating and for the payment of rates to county councils in respect of suitable office accommodation. I appeal to the Minister in the dying days of his Department to reconsider his decision in relation to this area because the increase of 15 per cent which will be backdated to 1 July 1983, though very welcome, may not be of great benefit if there is a decrease in the demand for postal services in 1984. I am particularly concerned about the Book of Estimates in the context of the drop in demand for Government postal services. I have estimated that there will be a reduction in the region of £16 million in terms of demand by Government Departments for postal services. I am asking the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs to clarify the effect this reduction will have on the employment situation within the Department [2626] and in the new boards from January 1984.

The reduction in the demand for Government postal services is considerable especially when one takes into account an inflation rate of at least 11 per cent. It seems to me that there must be job losses in such a situation. Therefore, the unions must consider their position seriously in the light of the Book of Estimates. I hope that the unions representing the Post Office workers and the engineers on the postal side will have the opportunity of discussing this matter with the Minister. The reduction is an indication of the Government's reaction and their lack of support for the two new semi-State organisations. One wonders why there was this decision to decrease the postal services in the Department. How is the shortfall to be made up or what method is to be used to communicate with the general public and with Deputies in so far as the Departments are concerned?

The Revenue Commissioners have reduced their postal services by 39 per cent or by about £6,500,000. This, too, is a lot of money so we must ask whether the commissioners have decided not to send out demands for income tax in 1984 or whether it is a question of their sending out fewer letters of demand. The same situation arises in the case of the Civil Service Commission where there is a reduction of 52 per cent while in respect of the Department of the Taoiseach there is a reduction in the postal services of minus 56 per cent for the coming year. I would be very concerned as to the reason for these reductions so perhaps if the Minister has not intervened in the debate already, he will give the explanation when he is contributing. Perhaps there is some reasoning for these reductions or perhaps there has been some rearranging of figures which account for the loss of this £16 million but if not are we to have a situation in which a person writing to a Department will be required to stamp the letter? At present a member of the public when writing to the Secretary of a Department may do so post free. I hope that that facility will continue. However, it is a matter that the Minister should [2627] clarify because there would seem to be serious consequences involved for the staffs of the two new semi-State organisations. We are talking of what is to be the largest transfer of staff in the history of the State. Approximately 30,000 people will lose their Civil Service status as and from 1 January next. Despite all the promises that were made by the Minister in the course of the debate on this whole matter there was no hint that there would be a reduction in the postal services that will be required by Government Departments in the coming year. This new situation is a serious betrayal of the negotiations which took place with the unions during the year.

It is strange also that the majority of Departments have increased their PR and consultancy fees. In the case of the Taoiseach's Department, the increase is of the order of 140 per cent while for the Department of Labour the increase is 300 per cent. In respect of the Department of Social Welfare the increase is 82 per cent, for the Department of Foreign Affairs it is 43 per cent, for the Department of Industry and Energy it is 33 per cent and, strangely, for the Department of Posts and Telegraphs the increase is 150 per cent. We know why the Government will require additional propaganda in 1984. We know how they operate at this stage in so far as their very effective propaganda machine is concerned. That machine works very hard and the whole purpose of it is that when the Government are under pressure from this side of the House, the propaganda machine will trot out some kind of policy, whether by way of leaked document or otherwise or, as happened during the year, by some such act as the expulsion of Russians from the embassy without any explanation. At some stage also should the need arise the propaganda machine will make further allegations about Members of this side of the House. The Government will continue to use propaganda and their public relations people to deflect public attention from the inabilities of the Government to tackle the major crisis of 200,000 people out of work, many of whom have been unemployed for some years and [2628] many of whom are young people who have never had an opportunity to work. Of all the issues facing the country at the moment, this is the one that the Government must tackle with the priority it deserves.

In the meantime cosmetic exercises of trying to deflect public opinion from the major crisis will not succeed. The public will not be fooled that easily in the years ahead. In the Irish Independent and The Irish Times today there are headlines in relation to the alleged cuts in public expenditure. That is not the position. In fact, it is a complete farce because I have studied the figures for 1984 and I find that there is somewhat of an increase on the 1983 figures. Yet, there are banner headlines in today's papers proclaiming that there is a drop of £220 million in Government expenditure. I am sure all journalists realise that in preparing Estimates, Departments put forward the maximum demand to the Taoiseach and the Department of Finance. The heads of Departments indicate the schemes they want implemented in the year ahead knowing that their Estimate will be reduced by the Department of Finance. In this case the demands have been reduced before the Book of Estimates was prepared and that is different from a real reduction in the Book of Estimates when compared to 1983.

The Taoiseach did not give us one ray of hope in his speech. The unemployed will find little to cheer them in that. The Taoiseach did not announce any new scheme or plan to deal with unemployment and his suggestion about hours of work is a minor matter.

The Government will have to give the creation of employment top priority. In recent months in my constitutency we lost IDE Fashions in Castlerea and 80 jobs, Rosco in Roscommon town and in the region of 40 jobs, and the plans for the briquette factory at Ballyforan have been shelved. That factory was financed by a Fianna Fáil Government and supported by the IDA. I should like to plead with the Minister for the Gaeltacht who must have a concern for western development to see to it that the Ballyforan [2629] project commences. If that scheme goes ahead many new jobs will be created in that area and it would be tangible evidence of the Government's concern for the west. The Government must decide to retain the Tuam sugar factory. The Minister for the Gaeltacht should lend his support to the Knock regional airport project which is very worthy. It was started by a man of great vision and supported by Fianna Fáil. There is no doubt that when Fianna Fáil are returned to office they will support that project because we realise that an airport at Knock will lead to the economic development of that region. We are entitled to a proper airport in Connacht. If the project is completed the tourist industry in the area will benefit. We are all aware that tourists want to get to their destination as quickly as possible.

Today the Taoiseach had an opportunity to outline his plan for 1984. A radical plan is needed to relieve the unemployment problem. If we do not move on that the unemployed will mobilise themselves and pressure the Government to show concern for their plight. We face 1984 with the prospect of unemployment levels rising to 250,000 but our economy is being allowed to flag and the Government do not have much hope. I disagree with the Taoiseach's statement that there is light at the end of the tunnel. When Deputy Cluskey resigned from the Government there was great excitement in the country at the prospect of this leading to a general election. I have no doubt that the public would welcome a general election because it has become obvious that the combination of Fine Gael and Labour cannot tackle the problems facing us. That resignation marks the beginning of the end of the Government. They may struggle on for a further 12 months but when the Labour Party examine the serious economic situation they will find it difficult to carry on in Government. The Government should give the electorate an opportunity of expressing a view on their activities since last year. If they are given that opportunity I have no doubt, judging by the decision of the people in a Dublin constituency recently, that many sitting [2630] Government TDs will be defeated. The Labour Party should insist that unless the Government give priority to the creation of jobs they will withdraw. If they do not it is the beginning of the end for them.

The most exciting prospect in regard to broadcasting in the years ahead is satellite broadcasting. That development will give us a great opportunity to create jobs. The business community should be given an opportunity to tender for inclusion in the scheme for satellite broadcasting. It is important that we are in at the start of this development in Europe. This gives RTE an opportunity to make use of the vacant studios at Donnybrook. The station should be preparing for the advent of satellite television.

During the year the House considered a Private Members' Motion on the treatment of Fianna Fáil by the media, particularly RTE. Sadly the situation has not improved. Some people in RTE are promoting Coalition Ministers and Deputies and, indeed, former Members. I refer, in particular, to former Minister Justin Keating who has his own programme on Sundays, “Keating on Sunday”. I understand that former Deputy Keating will be a candidate for co-option to the European Parliament. It is wrong to give a full time politician an opportunity to broadcast live on the national television service. That is not balanced broadcasting. RTE should not promote individuals. In the Dublin by-election one candidate, Mrs. Banotti, was promoted by RTE and appeared on live television programmes. In fact, since her defeat she has appeared on a radio programme promoting herself for the next effort at taking Deputy Alice Glenn's seat. If there is to be balance in Fine Gael Deputy Glenn should be given an opportunity to show how she is representing the constituency.

Mr. O'Toole: The Deputy is an expert on balance. There is a balancing act on the Opposition side as far as I can see.

Mr. Leyden: I hope the position in RTE improves in 1984 and that they give fair play to Fianna Fáil. We are entitled to fair play about broadcasting and there has been great concern about an interview [2631] on the John Bowman programme one morning recently. On radio he interviewed a member of a well-known Dublin family engaged in criminal activities. That person was given an opportunity to engage in a public relations exercise to promote crime. This should be of great concern to Fine Gael because this man alleged he has close affinity with that party. That allegation has not been denied or confirmed by Fine Gael, even with the massive increase in their public relations arrangements.

Is it not appropriate that when a well-known member of a well-known drugs family links the family with a Government party that that Government party would either confirm or deny those links with the godfathers of the drugs trade in Dublin? I disagree that anyone associated with crime, particularly drugs, should be on such a programme, but when such a person links his family with a Government party, that party should either deny or confirm it.

The Taoiseach's speech today was disappointing because it did not indicate any contribution to the economy. It did not contain any new ideas. He should study Deputy Haughey's statement in reply, a brilliant contribution to the debate. The Civil Service and the Department of Finance particularly should also look at it and should try to initiate action to correct the economy with a view to job creation as a first priority. I hope that when we will return in January there will be a legislative programme before us that will enable us to discuss the best method to get some of the 200,000 unemployed back to work. It would be a change from the attitude of the Taoiseach today who did not give any idea of what he would do.

Aire na Gaeltachta (Mr. O'Toole): Beidh £18,089,000 ar fáil i 1984 do Roinn na Gaeltachta agus d'Údarás na Gaeltachta lena chaitheamh ar mhaithe leis an nGaeltacht agus leis an nGaeilge. Anuas ar an nglaniomlán £13,489,000 atá i Leabhar na Meastacháin, tá soláthar caipitil neamhvótáilte mar a leanas ar fáil ó fhoinsí eile:—

[2632] airleacan a íoctar díreach as an Státchiste: suim £4.5 milliún atá i gceist d'Údarás na Gaeltachta, agus

iasachtaí as Ciste na nIasachtaí Áitiúla: £100,000 atá údaraithe d'iasachtaí tithíochta.

Is ar éigean is gá dom a rá gurbh fhearr liomsa go mór dá mbeadh ar chumas an Rialtais soláthar airgid níos mó a chur ar fáil dom i gcaoi go bhféadfainn caitheamh go fial le gach uile dhream a bhíonn ag lorg cúnaimh.

Tá obair thábhachtach ar siúl ag Roinn na Gaeltachta chun leas cultúrtha, sóisialach agus eacnamaíoch na Gaeltachta a chur chun cinn tríd an gcabhair a thugtar ar mhaithe le cúrsaí tithíoctha, scéimeanna feabhsúcháin, agus na scéimeanna cultúrtha agus sóisialacha a reachtáiltear d'fhonn muintir na Gaeltachta a ghríosú chun an Ghaeilge a choimeád beo bríomhar mar theanga theaghlaigh agus mar theanga phobail ina gceantair. Ar na scéimeanna feabhsúcháin airítear scéimeanna uisce agus séarachais, muiroibreacha, hallaí agus coláistí Gaeilge, áiseanna chaitheamh aimsire agus comharchumainn Ghaeltachta.

Ar na scéimeanna cultúrtha agus sóisialacha áirítear deontas labhairt na Gaeilge, Scéim na bhFoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge, cúnamh do nuachtán agus irisí Gaeilge, do Chomhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, do Shiamsa Tíre etc. Tugtar cabhair freisin d'eagrais Ghaeilge, i.e., Bord na Leabhar Gaeilge, Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, Gael-Linn, Conradh na Gaeilge, An tOireachtas, Cumann na bhFiann, An Comhlachas Náisiúnta Drámaíochta, Taoibhdhearc na Gaillimhe, Amharclann Ghaoth Dobhair agus an Gael-Acadamh. Tá dhá bhord Stáit faoi chúram mo Roinne freisin, is iad sin Údarás na Gaeltachta agus Bord na Gaeilge.

Nuair a bhí Meastacháin 1983 á bplé againn sa Teach níos luaithe i mbliana chuir mé in iúl do Theachtaí gur tharla méadú 133 go 4,144 i 1982 san fhostaíocht lánaimsire sna tionscail ar chabhraigh Gaeltarra Éireann agus Údarás na Gaeltachta leo. Cé nach bhfuil ach meastachán ar fáil go fóill tá an chosúlacht ar [2633] an scéal go mbeidh timpeall 100 duine breise fostaithe i ndeireadh na bliana seo sna tionscail éagsúla faoi scáth an Údaráis thar mar a bhí i ndeireadh na bliana seo caite. Is dul chun cinn suntasach é sin ag féachaint do na fadhbanna iomadúla a bhíonn le sárú ag an Údarás chun deiseanna fostaíochta a chur ar fáil. Is cúis sásaimh go bhfuil an fhostaíocht faoi scáth an Údaráis ag méadú arís agus tréaslaím a saothar leo.

Faoi mar a mhínigh mé sa Teach seo ar an 17 Samhain, tá fadhbanna áirithe ag an Údarás agus dualgas ormsa mar Aire féachaint chuige go réiteofar iad. Tá súil agam freisin nach mbeidh an Ghaeltacht féin ná an tÚdarás thíos leis an drochphoiblíocht atá ar siúl le tamall. Ach na fadhbanna sin a bheith réitithe — agus tá dóchas agam go réiteofar gan mhoill iad — beidh an tÚdarás ag feidhmiú mar ba chóir ar mhaithe le leas na Gaeltachta. De bharr na drochphoiblíochta atá faighte ag an Údarás le tamall anuas tuigtear dom go mbíonn fadhbanna ag luacht tionscail a bhfuil cúnamh ceadaithe dóibh ag an Údarás iasachtí gearrthréimhseacha a fháil ó institiúidí airgeadais.

Is mian liom an deis seo a ghlacadh chun a dhearbhú go soiléir nach bhfuil baol ar bith ann nach n-íocfar deontais atá ceadaithe ag an Údarás ach na coinníollacha a bhaineann leo a bheith comhlíonta. Má tá aon imní fós ar na hinstitiúidí sin i ndiaidh a bhfuil ráite agam molaim dóibh comhairle a ghlacadh le bainistíocht an Údaráis sula ndíúltófar aon iarratas ar iasacht ghearrthréimhseach.

Maidir le Meastacháin 1984, tá breis is £11 milliúin á chur ar fáil ag an Rialtas don Údarás le caitheamh ar mhaithe le forbairt na Gaeltachta. Is laghdú é sin, £1.3 milliún tuairim, ar an soláthar don bhliain reatha ach táim sásta go mbeifear in ann dul chun cinn maith a dhéanamh leis an airgead laghdaithe ach cur chun oibre go stuama.

De bharr an chúlú eacnamaíochta domhanda níl an oiread mórthionscal ag teacht ar aghaidh agus a bhí roimhe seo. Mar sin tá béim ar leith á cur ag an Údarás ar na miontionscail mar fhoinse fostaíochta, agus tá an fhoireann don [2634] ghné áirithe sin den obair méadaithe agus neartaithe. Is fiú a lua gur ceadaíodh deontais do bhreis is 200 miontionscal le linn 1982 agus, cé nach bhfuil sonraí cruinne ar fáil go fóill do 1983, meastar go mbeidh deontais ceadaithe do thart ar 240 miontionscal i ndeireadh na bliana seo.

Tá áthas orm gur féidir liom a rá gur éirigh le Bord na Gaeilge dul chun cinn fiúntach a dhéanamh i rith na bliana seo. Bhí sé de phribhléid agamsa An Plean Gníomhaíochta don Ghaeilge 1983-1986 a d'ullmhaigh an bord ar iarratas ón Rialtas a chur i láthair an phobail i mí Aibreáin seo caite. Chuir an bord obair mhór isteach i réiteach an phlean sin agus táimid go mór faoi chomaoin acu dá bharr. Is fada atáimid ag feitheamh le córas faoina bhféadfaí an teanga a chur ar aghaidh ar bhonn náisiúnta pleanáilte agus tá dóchas agam go mbeidh fialchomhoibriú agus lántacaíocht le fáil ó gach uile dhream leis na spriocanna sa phlean a bhaint amach.

Tuigim go bhfuil an-iarracht á déanamh ag an mbord chun na spriocanna sa phlean don bhliain reatha a bhaint amach agus go bhfuil ag éirí go maith leo. Tá súil agam go mbeidh toradh dá réir ar a gcuid oibre an bhliain seo chugainn. Aithním go bhfuil laincisí áirithe orthu i ngeall ar an ngéarchéim airgeadais ach, má luímid uile isteach ar an obair in aon mhóriarracht amháin chun bearta atá réasúnta agus insroichte a chur i gcrích, is deimhin liom go n-éireoidh linn dul chun cinn suntasach a dhéanamh.

Bhí díospóireacht dhíograiseach sa Seanad faoin bplean Deireadh Fómhair/Samhain seo caite agus ba chúis mhór misnigh do Ghaeilgeoirí na tíre an spéis a léirigh na Seanadóirí ó gach taobh den Teach sa Ghaeilge agus an fonn a bhí orthu gach tacaíocht is féidir a thabhairt dár dteanga dhúchais agus gach dícheall a dhéanamh leis an áit is dual di i saol na tíre seo a bhaint amach don Ghaeilge.

Tá bliain dhian romhainn agus is den riachtanas é mar sin go dtacóimid le hiarrachtaí a chéile ar mhaithe leis an nGaeilge agus leis an nGaeltacht. Cé go gcaithfear a admháil go mbeidh airgead gann táim sásta go mbeifear in ann dul ar [2635] aghaidh maith a dhéanamh leis an soláthar a bheidh ar fáil ach eagar a chur orainn féin chun úsáid choigilteach, stuama a bhaint as.

Speaking as Minister for Fisheries and Forestry, I propose briefly and in a very general way to deal with the Estimates for that Department. At a later stage, when the Estimates are being moved, I will be dealing in greater detail with the various services and Deputies will have the opportunity of raising any matter on which they may require more detailed information.

A total of £54.031 million is being provided for the Department of Fisheries and Forestry, broken as between £17.467 for Fisheries and £36.564 for Forestry. While the percentage increases on the amounts provided in 1983 may appear small, I am satisfied that the provisions will be adequate for the continued development of our sea and inland fishery resources and for the expansion of the State forestry estate. I would, of course, wish to have secured more substantial increases in the provisions made but I realise that every sector has to contribute towards the reductions in expenditure needed to bring demands in line with the financial resources available for public services.

1983 has been a very significant year for fisheries because agreement was finally reached on an EEC Common Fisheries Policy which covered all aspects of sea fisheries. Agreement on the policy removed the uncertainty which had existed in fishing circles and it will enable the development of the Irish sea-fishing industry to proceed on a planned basis in the future.

I have just returned from a meeting of the Council of Fishery Ministers in Brussels and I am glad to say that agreement was eventually reached on 1983 total allowable catches and quotas. While such agreement at this stage may appear unimportant it must be borne in mind that guidelines and parameters have been set which should help to achieve earlier agreement in 1984 and future years. The quotas agreed were in prevailing circumstances, and particularly taking account [2636] of scientific advice, satisfactory from an Irish viewpoint. In the case of mackerel, which is of paramount importance to us, we succeeded in negotiating a quota at last year's level of 80,000 tonnes, an increase of 30,000 tonnes on the original Commission proposal.

The question of export refunds on frozen mackerel to selected third countries has been the subject of discussion in this House recently. Following the meeting I had with Mr. Thorn, President of the EEC Commission, my Department made a submission on the subject to the Commission. This submission was prepared in consultation with the exporters and BIM. Recently two EEC officials visited Dublin for discussions and at yesterday's Council meeting I pressed the Fisheries Commissioner for an early and favourable response to our submission. A decision was promised within the next week.

The value of fish landings in 1982 reached the record figure of approximately £43 million. Exports last year of fresh and processed fish were worth £69 million. The national fleet now includes 80 vessels of 100 gross tons and over and these vessels are well capable of fishing in off-shore waters in competition with vessels from other countries which have traditionally fished in these waters. It is evident that, because of pressure on certain stocks which are subject to quota, diversification to fishing for non-quota, species like Dublin Bay prawns and horse mackerel will be essential if progress is to continue. The success of the Dublin Bay prawn fishery on the Porcupine Bank area this summer is proof that such diversification is possible. BIM will be prepared to assist fishermen who wish to re-equip their vessels for this purpose and the necessary provision has been included in the Fisheries Estimate.

Provision is also included in the Estimate for the completion of the Howth harbour improvement scheme, for the provision of a syncrolift at Killybegs and for the completion of other smaller schemes at present in hand. I cannot say at this stage what new works will be put in hand next year, pending a review of the harbour development programme in [2637] the light of contractual commitments existing at the end of this year.

As part of a sectoral approach to our industrial development programme, being implemented following the establishment of the Sectoral Development Committee representing Government, employer and trade union interests, a number of sectoral consultative committees have been set up to examine the opportunities for and constraints on the development of particular industrial sectors and make appropriate recommendations for action to the main committee.

A consultative committee for the fishing industry was established in November 1982 representative of all the main interests involved in the industry. This committee are charged with examining the efficiency and relative performance of the industry, the opportunities that exist for expansion and the difficulties in the way of achieving full realisation of its undoubted development potential, and the action necessary to overcome these difficulties. The committee have been working very hard to complete this difficult and complex task, and hopefully will be in a position to report on their findings before the end of the year. I look forward to their views and recommendations.

Turning to inland fisheries, I am glad to be able to record that the increase in salmon landings in 1982 was continued this year. That does not, however, mean that there is no further need for conservation measures. It must be appreciated by everybody in the industry that there is need for continuous vigilance where the salmon stocks are concerned; this is not just to safeguard the future of the salmon but to maintain a valuable national resource in the interests of the fishermen themselves and their children. I am at present undertaking a comprehensive review of the many and complex regulations which apply to salmon fishing and I propose in due course to have discussions with representatives of interested parties, including fishermen, in regard to conservation and the enforcement of conservation measures. It is to be hoped that commonsense will prevail in 1984 and that we can avoid confrontation between [2638] fishermen and the law enforcement agencies like those which arose this year.

In relation to Forestry, as Deputies will see from the Estimates Volume the nett amount of the Forestry Vote in 1984 is £36.564 million. A noteworthy feature of this Estimate is that for the first time Appropriations-in-Aid, which include receipts from sales of timber, are expected to exceed £10 million.

I am satisfied that good progress will be made during the year in increasing the size of the State forest estate and the supply of wood to be processed for home and export markets. The Forest and Wildlife Service will of course also continue to take account as far as practicable of amenity, recreation and wildlife conservation needs in the implementation of the State forestry programme.

In recent years the expansion of the forest estate has been impeded somewhat by the fall in level of the plantable land reserve. The level of funds for land acquisition in 1984 — which I have succeeded in maintaining at last year's reasonably high level — will enable the land acquisition programme to be intensified and thus lead to a badly-needed improvement in the land reserve situation. The number of price agreements reached during 1983 and the acreage involved are substantially in excess of last year's situation and, while this is very encouraging, continued progress on these lines is essential. I am confident, however, that the demand on the Exchequer for forestry development will be reduced by the increased proceeds from the sale of timber in 1984 and that the Exchequer burden will continue to be lightened as an increasing amount of wood becomes available from the maturing forest estate. Demand for small and large sawlog at present is firm and prices have improved somewhat following a gradual rise in recent months in the prices of imported timber.

There has been quite a lot of criticism from time to time about the timber marketing policies of the Forest and Wildlife Service. I and my predecessors in office know that such criticisms are unjustified and stem from the need to ensure reasonable balance in the allocation of a scarce resource. The real problem at present is [2639] the imbalance between available supplies of sawlog and the sawing capacity of the sawmilling industry. There is no short-term solution to this problem. The saw-milling industry in general is acting most responsibly in regard to this by accepting some voluntary restraint on its purchases of sawlog. There has been a tendency to overlook two fundamental points in this controversy about timber supplies and the prices charged by my Department for timber. The imbalance between wood supply and demand arises from the uneven age composition of our State forests. This arises from the fact that the greater part of the State forest estate has been planted only since the 1950s. The imbalance will only be eased as these forests mature in the years ahead with a consequential increase in flow of large sawlog. The second point very often overlooked or indeed ignored is the position of the heavily burdened taxpayer who is surely entitled to be rewarded for the capital investment in forestry made on his behalf over many decades. I am aware, however, that some more flexibility and variation in the methods of sale may be desirable and I am having the matter examined by an interdepartmental committee as a matter of urgency.

The coming into production of the pulpwood plant at Clonmel to manufacture medium density fibreboard has provided an expanding outlet for pulpwood and the operations of this factory will also have beneficial effect in providing an additional outlet for clean chips from the sawmills.

The House has already debated very thoroughly the issues arising out of the closure of the chipboard factory at Scarriff which was recently put into receivership after accumulating losses of the order of £0.9 million since it was restructured in 1981. Every effort is being made by the receiver and the Industrial Development Authority to attract interested parties to the Scarriff plant. I am hopeful that they will be successful in their efforts to develop a viable enterprise for the continuation of the manufacture of chipboard at Scarriff. Indeed, I understand that a number of foreign parties have in [2640] fact expressed interest and I have offered to make available a supply of 85,000 cubic metres of pulpwood to any new viable chipboard venture that may emerge at Scarriff. From a recent discussion with the Irish Timber Council, who represent the sawmilling sector, I understand that they would be willing to guarantee the supply of a substantial quantity of sawmill residues in the event of such plant being reopened.

On the nature conservation side of the Department, I have recently created six new statutory nature reserves to bring the total number of such reserves to 19. As resources permit, my Department will press ahead with the extension of a network of nature reserves representing the various ecosystem types in the country.

It is my intention to re-inforce the statutory protection of wild flora and fauna and I will shortly be introducing regulations governing the keeping of birds of prey and regulations controlling trade in endangered species covered by the Washington Convention. In addition, my Department will expand the range of educational material on wildlife conservation available to the public.

Finally, I would like to say something about the development of private forestry. The Forest and Wildlife Service are anxious that the private forestry estate should be expanded to the greatest extent possible and will continue to provide a free technical advisory service to all those wishing to draw up proposals for forestry development. I would like to see a substantial increase in the number of farmers in the less favoured areas availing of the very generous grants available under the forestry element of the western package.

Mr. Flynn: I think we must all agree that this Adjournment Debate is a most disappointing affair as far as the Government's performance is concerned. It is a really poor Government effort and the contributions up to now have been uninspired pieces of drivel which could hardly be said to encourage anybody to any greater heights in this economy for the coming year. It has been said, and it is well worth reiterating, that the Taoiseach's [2641] speech was a poor effort by any standards. Of course, it had nothing at all to do with economic debate, investment or job creation. It was an election speech. The whole tone of it was for election purposes. With no achievement to report the Taoiseach had to fall back on and engage in a bit of good old-fashioned Opposition-bashing and pot-stirring. That is all his contribution this morning amounted to. His speech was poorly written and poorly edited. All I can hope on the Taoiseach's behalf is that the consultancy increases which are so enormous in these Estimates will be used to tidy up his scripts a little and at least do the House that much honour.

The Dáil deserves better. Certainly the country expected more on this ocasion. They expected a clear indication of the future policies of this Government and how they hope to deal with our problems. They expected to hear something about these policies and how they would be tackled next year. Seasonal greetings are a very poor substitute for Government action. Contrasting the Taoiseach's speech this morning with that of the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Haughey, which was very concise and well thought out dealing with an end-of-year assessment of our national performance and possible options which were offered up with good faith to the Government, it must be agreed now that most of what the Government are attempting to do — and do very badly — is to implement our document of last year The Way Forward. They have not put forward a single constructive strategy on any front in any of the Estimates to deal with any of our problems.

What is the Government's policy on any fundamental issue facing this country today? It is a litany of mismanagement, starting with the current budget deficit which was to be the bedrock, the platform for the Government. It was presumed that in the very near future they would have control of the current budget deficit, but of course things have gone in the other direction and they must admit failure in that regard. The national debt is greater than it was last year. Borrowings are greater this year than they were [2642] last year. Public expenditure is over and above the 1983 outturn. Capital expenditure was brought down drastically last year and is about to be cut drastically again. This is the kind of stuff they are trying to justify to the general public by putting some kind of gloss on it. How can you equate that with Government control of the public finances? There is no improvement in the financial well-being of the economy under the present administration.

Rumours abound about Government friction and difficulties. We hear about walk-outs and government by blackmail to achieve certain aims by certain individuals in the Government structure. We hear about government by media manipulation which continues to highlight personality bashing in the hope of deflecting public perception from the uncontrolled mess of his administration.

The Taoiseach this morning told us what the various Ministers were doing. What a legacy after one year of mismanagement. Let us take the Department of the Environment first. The building industry is in its death throes, yet we hear there will be further capital cuts next year to depress even further a dying industry. As regards agriculture, every farmer dreads to read his morning newspaper. There has been a series of sell-outs: now we are told we cannot hope to get any derogation from the super-levy and that we will have to face up to it next year. We have to admit that the Department of Finance have succeeded in putting the hair-shirt on every citizen. They seem to take some sadistic delight in inflicting pain on the taxpayers.

With regard to the Department of Defence, the Poppy Day scandal was an insult to the Defence Forces and to the national aspirations of the vast majority of the people. There has been open revolt in the Department of the Public Service for the past three or four months. There has even been talk of threats of Civil Service strikes, an unheard of thing under any Fianna Fáil administration. The Minister for Industry, or whatever his title is now, has been taking all kinds of sidesteps. There has been a Labour Party row over deals undertaken by that Department [2643] in defiance of certain members of the Labour Party. We hear much about the re-negotiation of deals already made, of Cabinet splits and of votes having to be taken. That is a practice to which this country has not been accustomed.

The Minister for Fisheries and Forestry, and also for the Gaeltacht has had the debacle of the Údarás on his hands. He failed to deal with that, as he failed to deal with the Scarriff problem. He has abandoned the mandate he got from the people of my county and from the west to defend them in the Cabinet. I do not have to outline the various aspects of his failure——

Mr. O'Toole: What did the Deputy do when he was in Cabinet? Despite his best efforts, the Castlebar hospital will be commenced this year.

Mr. Flynn: The Book of Estimates spells out his failure for 1984. Once again, he has failed to get enough money for Roinn na Gaeltachta and Údarás na Gaeltachta. All of his colleagues got an increase in their allocations but, once again, the Minister failed to deliver and because of that failure he will not be a Minister for much longer. He is the only Minister who could not get a sufficient allocation to maintain last year's figures. If that is not an indictment of the Minister I do not know what is.

Does the Minister for Education realise that hundreds of teachers of all grades are out of work? We are told that increased fees will be necessary to support the system but what we get is a reduction in facilities. New school buildings are required throughout the country to replace unsanitary premises but we are told plans in this area will have to be put in abeyance.

The Minister for Labour is quite satisfied to accept 250,000 on the dole. He has not given any hope that the number will be less next year. The former Minister for Trade, Commerce and Tourism, Deputy Cluskey, was a fair, good Minister. I suppose it would not be too much for me to use the words of the Taoiseach concerning him — he was an honourable [2644] man. However, it is strange that the Minister for Transport does not understand why he resigned.

Everyone realises Deputy Cluskey's resignation had nothing to do with negotiations about a gas deal. The only reason a person leaves a Government is personal failure or because of a fundamental difference of principle. I take it that was the reason for Deputy Cluskey's resignation. How many failures are a Government entitled to have before they walk away from their responsibilities? What is the bottom line for the Labour Party with regard to staying in Government? Is it cuts in social welfare or is it a change in industrial relations legislation which is being put forward for consideration? I should think that is more than the bottom line for the Labour Party. Deputy Cluskey saw what was coming and he got out before the tin roof came in on top of him.

We have heard about voting at Cabinet level and I am sure the public would like to know if that is the way business is done. When I was in office not a single vote was taken despite what arguments took place. At the end there was collective responsibility and it was not necessary to divide to see if the arch conservatives or the pseudo-socialists had won the day. That is the way to run a Government.

Mr. O'Toole: Two of the Deputy's colleagues walked out. He has a very short memory.

Mr. Flynn: I regret if I am upsetting the Minister but I look to the Chair for some protection.

Mr. O'Toole: The Deputy should tell the whole story.

Mr. Flynn: We hear about Government meetings that could not take place. It is a blackmail system of administration but still they say they are fit to run the country. According to Deputy Cluskey, the Estimates are one thing but the budget is another. We will wait and see what that means in harsh political terms. That Deputy signalled an end to co-operation unless certain bottom line arrangements [2645] were kept. Collective responsibility is gone. One sentence by the Deputy did not get enough prominence but it will ring long in the ears of the Coalition before next year is over: Deputy Cluskey on two occasions said “Enough is enough”. So that he would be heard quite clearly, he repeated that sentence. I guarantee that before 1984 is over enough will have spelled enough for this Government.

In the Taoiseach's contribution or in the other Ministers' contributions there was not one word about unemployment which is a matter of primary concern to everyone. One can only imagine how that must sound to the 250,000 unemployed people, many of them young people. They have not been given a single message of hope. How can the Labour Party accept that policy and maintain support for this Government who are in disgrace? I think it is a shame that the Taoiseach could not at least offer some encouragement to young people, to let them know there was a plan to deal with the unemployment crisis.

Since this Government took office the average monthly rise in unemployment has been 2,370. What is necessary to stem that rate is growth in manufacturing industry. It is no use saying exports have increased. That is so but it only applies to special areas such as the technological and chemical industries. Exports from all other traditional sources have fallen. It is necessary that some new initiatives be taken in indigenous industries.

There must be some new recognition of the potential of our natural resources and the need to develop fishing and agricultural processing to utilise the raw materials which we have in abundance. It is time there was a transfer of resources to bring about a satisfactory solution to unemployment.

The Estimate for Tourism has been increased by 5 per cent which, in real terms, means a decrease of 5 per cent on last year. This industry generated enormous sums of foreign revenue, helped the balance of payments and created jobs and still there is a reduction in the Estimate. How can the marketing requirements [2646] be met without the necessary money to advertise and so on?

The building industry is in a shambles. Sales of cement were down by 10 per cent in the first ten months of this year as against the same period last year. That is the yardstick which was always used to establish whether the building industry was doing well. Nobody here has even referred to it and it should be a matter of concern to the Government. There has been much talk about why a Minister left Government last week and about the gas deal. It is time for someone who was present when the gas arrangements were first made to say something about the matter. Although I only had charge of that portfolio for a few weeks, I remember very well what went on. I should like to ask where the new deal is? Why are the Government so coy about putting it on the floor of the House, in the Library or printing it and making it available to everybody? The only way we can reasonably assume what the gas deal is is from the letter of the chairman of Bord Gáis to his shareholders. Fianna Fáil are against the nationalisation of this industry and its resources because our experience in other areas of nationalisation in State and semi-State companies such as CIE, NET and many more leads me to believe that it would not be the right course. We have not been good at anything we attempted to nationalise and there is no suggestion that we would do any better with this.

Rationalisation would never have been achieved in the gas area but for the reorganisation that was demanded by Fianna Fáil four years ago. We told them if they did not reorganise and get their act together they would not get natural gas. Our attitude was clear when we drew up that arrangement. We were determined to get the maximum amount of private money involved with the least exposure of State money. As a result of that arrangement we were going to get 50 per cent of the profits and control 25.01 per cent of the equity. That was a very important factor because it gave us the blocking mechanism which would allow us to make sure that no new arrangement could be entered into at any annual general meeting [2647] and we would also be able to deal with dividends or any other matter that would arise. That blocking mechanism was negotiated by Deputy Albert Reynolds and the Fianna Fáil Government. The number of directors has been referred to on several occasions. It is true we only had a few directors but it was a small board then. Does it matter how many directors you have if the quality of those you have is good enough to look after the interest of Government investment?

We also arranged in our deal that there would be no letters of comfort, no guarantees about any of the money being put forward, either by the banks or financial institutions. In the deal we put forward we guaranteed only the contractors' credits which could not be called up until 1991 and the year before that we were to get back £5 million. The price of the gas being made available from Bord Gáis has been referred to. It is a normal practice, when setting up any new investment structure, that the price of the raw material has to be discounted to a certain degree to get production levels up and to sell bigger amounts of the product in question. You cannot maximise the benefits either to the State or to the consumer until the product is in the market place. That is why the price per therm had to be reduced in the short-term but it was under Government control at all times after its target had been achieved in its formative years. What better arrangement has been achieved which caused the so called resignation of one Government Minister and the side stepping of another? There will be no worthwhile profits in the short-term in so far as this contract is concerned. Whatever profits there are will have to be used to pay back the investors for the money they put up in the original development. Bord Gáis will always be able to control the pricing structure to Dublin Gas to make sure that there are no excessive profits and that any profits there are can be directed back towards the Government and the Exchequer.

In their deal, Fianna Fáil put up £34 million to help the conversion of Dublin [2648] Gas and £18 million for development. There is no change in those figures under the new arrangement. Anyway, it is all rebated money which is involved. What about the Fine Gael-Labour deal? Extra money is being put up in hard cash — £17 million by way of State loan and £6 million more from Bord Gáis Éireann. That extra £23 million is to buy 6 per cent of any extra profits that might be made if and when they arise. Can we now accept that they bought an extra 6 per cent of supposed profits for an extra capital investment of hard cash, £23 million, over and above the commitment we could have got away with? Fine Gael have continued to give letters of comfort despite the fact that the former Minister for Industry and Energy said on “The Late Late Show” recently that it was a practice which has been discarded. However, the following Monday the Minister of State at the Department of Energy said on radio that he was still issuing letters of comfort to the INPC and would continue to do so, despite the fact that a few nights earlier the Minister had stated categorically that a Government decision had been taken that no further letters of comfort were to be issued. Since then they have issued letters of comfort to Dublin Gas and for the extra £5 million from the financial institutions that now enter into the arithmetic of this deal, the financial institutions are getting the right to convert that in due course to 25 per cent of the equity of the company if they so wish. The other £5 million they are now going to put up is at a special interest rate plus 4 per cent which will convert the CPI. That is the deal that Fine Gael are now saying is better than the deal made by Fianna Fáil. When we get the opportunity of seeing both deals, the public will realise that the Fine Gael-Labour Government have made a mish-mash of what was a well thought out and well brought off arrangement by Deputy Reynolds.

I should like to refer to a very big failure of the current administration and that is the matter of how they have dealt with Údarás na Gaeltachta. I am sorry that the Minister, Deputy O'Toole, has [2649] left the House because his Estimate shows the failure he is as a Minister. He did not get a single shilling for the Gaeltacht. In real terms there is a decrease of 10 per cent on the total allocation for his Department. That is some success story; he is the only man who failed to make the grade. Does his decision with regard to Údarás na Gaeltachta stand up to three fundamental challenges which I will now put to him? Did he take into account the question of natural justice when he sacked Micheál Ó Máille, and his two friends? Did he concern himself with the fact that they had committed no crime and had carried out every instruction given to them? That was verified yesterday by Mr. Micheál Ó Máille. Did the Minister decide to go contrary to natural justice? Secondly, is his action to be interpreted as Government policy? Does he see it as proper and fitting to use Government nominees to seek personal satisfaction and to settle old scores with an individual? He stated in public that the primary duty of every Government nominee is to carry out faithfully the opinion and the directions of his Minister. Do I take it that that is Government policy?

Why does the Minister not do the honourable thing and at least exonerate Micheál Ó Máille from any guilt? He failed to do so. It is a shame for the Minister to do that to a fellow Irishman, a fellow Mayoman and a fellow Gaeligeor. Thirdly, can he satisfy himself about the constitutionality and the legal safeguards in having the accounting officer of Roinn na Gaeltachta as chairman of Údarás na Gaeltachta? As far as I am concerned, he is using that office as a ministerial mouthpiece at Údarás na Gaeltachta. What checks and balance have you when the majority view is directed by the Minister on all decisions and those recommendations are subsequently stamped by the accounting officer, the Secretary of the Department? He is now being set up as judge and jury on all his own decisions as directed by the Minister. Is that what one expects from a Government?

Mr. D'Arcy: The Deputy should know.

Mr. Flynn: Quiet, little boy. If I turn [2650] on you I will soften your cough. If that is the way Government is to be run it is time somebody had a hard look at the legality of the operation.

Mr. D'Arcy: We enjoy listening to Deputy Flynn making his speeches.

Mr. Flynn: There is a reference in this book that a certain project is going to be scuttled, that is, Knock Airport. They are making available about £650,000 to finalise contracts one and two to which they are committed, but there will be no further involvement by way of State grant or subsidy. So be it. I put it to this Government that nothing is irreversible in politics. While we expected this stab in the back we hoped the Minister would stand by his personal commitment to that project and to the people of the west. I an putting it on record that that object will be finished with or without Government aid. When it comes to pass, let it be known that those who are helping to promote it and support it took all the necessary steps to ensure that even if the Coalition Government had no faith in the west, there were those who believed otherwise and who will see that it will be finished and that it will work. I prophesy that this is one project which will show that not only had Fine Gael, the majority party in Government, no faith, hope or commitment to the west, but that they sold us out. I will live to see the day when this project will be a success, with or without their help. I am restricted from discussing this matter further but, mark this well, this project will be finished and it will be a success.

I wonder what we are talking about in these Estimates. We have a two-tier terror strike against the unfortunate citizens of this country. There is talk about making certain cutbacks, but we all know that hundreds of millions of pounds will have to be found in a few weeks time. I wonder if the food subsidies will be reduced. They are already reduced in these Estimates by over £1 million. Will that be the bottom line for Labour? They already accepted a reduction in food subsidies in the 1982 budget, but one thing is sure: the price of bread has to go up because [2651] of this Estimate. Will the mortgage interest subsidy be scuttled? That is striking fear into everybody's heart. Is that the area that will be attacked? Will children's allowances be cut? The Government will not increase the threshold for medical cards and that will mean a 10 per cent reduction in all those who will have medical cards next year. Will there be increased service charges? If these figures are to be believed, there will have to be at least a doubling of the service charges next year.

Will the deal be for a new wealth tax? We all know what declining profitability running parallel with a loss of competitiveness has brought about in this country in the past. What is necessary is investment, but you cannot have opportunity or motivation for investment, you cannot have planned capital investment in manufacturing industry unless you re-arrange the direct and indirect levels of taxation. All these recommendations are being made, but it was expected today that the Government would give some indication that both personal and capital taxes would be adjusted to bring about increased public and private investment in manufacturing industry. This is the only hope the Government have to deal with the unemployment problem.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy's time is up.

Mr. Flynn: I will conclude by reminding the Government — and I am sure the Ceann Comhairle will remember the White Paper on Economic Development in 1958——

An Ceann Comhairle: A bit before my time.

Mr. Flynn: That was the economic paper that set off the growth in the sixties that brought prosperity to this country. It stated that capital is necessary and ideas can only succeed if domestic conditions for profit-making exist. If you want investment you must allow those who invest to make profits. That is why [2652] we have no opportunities for creating jobs here.

Mr. Kenny: I would never object to giving Deputy Flynn a few precious minutes at a time like this. As a member of Mayo County Council for a number of years he always stimulated meetings when they began to dry up.

Today's discussion brings into focus the problems surrounding Estimates and the kind of Government that is needed to produce Estimates and act upon them accordingly. Estimate time is a time for reviewing Government activities over the year. It is a time to assess the Government's worth in terms of the way Estimates have been drawn up and to assess the Government's intentions in relation to the budget to be introduced as a consequence.

Just 12 months ago this Government were appointed to office and they took up their role with great enthusiasm — new Ministers, new officers, new Departments and increased confidence. They immediately set about dealing with the remnants of what was left by Fianna Fáil. Shortly before last Christmas we had an announcement by the Minister for Education about school transport charges. These naturally caused repercussions right across the country and were discussed on three or four occasions in this House. Eventually a compromise solution was agreed which was broadly acceptable to most organisations, although it was not what everyone would have wished.

During the year the Government faced a series of intense problems which in normal times Governments would not have to face. Rising unemployment has created a unique tension, a kind of malaise, particularly among young people. They have no hope or confidence in the future. It is the responsibility and role of the Government to point out that this is not necessarily so, and to set out their objectives in a clear and determined fashion.

With the production of the Estimates and the responsibility placed upon the Minister for Finance to introduce a budget next year of enormous proportions, [2653] and taking into consideration the fact that practically one-third is already committed to repayments on foreign borrowings made over the years, and one-third is committed to the public sector for pay and allowances, the fact remains that, if a general cut is being made of the order of 5 per cent or 10 per cent, we have to face a cutback of the order of 15 per cent to 30 per cent in the capital and service areas. This places an enormous responsibility of a political nature on the Government of the day.

In fairness to them, the Government are faced with a series of problems which no other Government have had to face. Those problems were not of their making. The fact that some of them were in office for about eight months in 1981 should have whetted their appetities. As a Government backbencher I want to say it is easier to have an objective view of the kind of Government we have got, the ability of the different Ministers to carry out their responsibilities, and the opinion of the public on how the Government are faring in difficult circumstances. It is also easier to speak to the Government in clear terms in a forum such as this, and to make them aware that their own backbenchers are constantly dealing with the problems of Government in a different way from the way in which Ministers have to deal with them because they are constrained by Cabinet secrecy.

The primary responsibility of the Government at this time is to say to the people, “This talk of a general election is pure hypocrisy and totally mythical. There is no danger of a general election. There will be no general election.” The Government were elected to do a specific job over a specific period of time and they will set about doing it. We should cut out all this nonsense of people speculating on whether there will be an election.

We had difficulties in the past year or so which will have repercussions in the future. That does not mean the Government cannot run their full course and carry out their mandate. They should give a clear indication to the people that they will carry out the mandate given to them last year and be judged by the [2654] people when the time comes. The Government should be projecting hope and confidence and giving the necessary leadership through courageous activities. The late President Kennedy, who spoke from the floor of this House, said that the only valid test of leadership was to lead and to lead vigorously. There is an onus on the Government to do just that.

The people of the Twenty-six Counties are prepared to accept that tough decisions must be made and will be made, provided they are implemented across the board in an equitable and just fashion. That has been a trait of the Irish people down through the years. If they can see that justice is being done to everyone, tough decisions are acceptable. The politicisation of many decisions and the consequent assumption by people that politics is inherent in every single appointment made, and in every decision taken, has led the ordinary voters to despise politicians in many ways and to lack of confidence in them.

The Government faced with ability the PMPA crisis which was handled very ably and capably by the then Minister. They dealt with the Clondalkin problem, with the riots in Mountjoy which cost the taxpayer £1 million in overtime and malicious damages. They dealt with the chipboard problem in County Clare — that is not over yet — and we have the ongoing saga of Údarás na Gaeltachta. I suppose these problems arise in the ordinary course of events, but I want to assure Deputies on the opposite side of the House that they are being dealt with by competent and capable people. Although there may be disagreements and divergences of opinion within the Cabinet, when a responsible decision is taken it is accepted by the Cabinet. In due course the validity of their actions will be seen by the people.

The super-levy has been dealt with at length. To summarise briefly, in fairness to the Taoiseach and his respective Ministers the case was exceptionally well made for the Irish farmer. Not only did the Taoiseach travel to Brussels and Athens, but he visited every head of state in the EEC. That has not happened before. It shows the serious intent of the Government [2655] that the Taoiseach saw fit to travel abroad and present the Irish case to the heads of state. I am inspired by the level of leadership shown in that context, and I trust that when these negotiations are concluded finally the country will have benefited.

On the question of the farm modernisation scheme which has been promised for some time, a commitment must be given by the Government to farmers who had applied for grant assistance prior to the termination of the scheme last year. This must be looked at seriously by the Government and, if at all possible, people who spent money and were not approved for any grant should be treated in a proper manner by the Department if the buildings are in accordance with the proper specifications. If possible their approvals should be retrospective and they should receive their money in due course.

The Minister for Education started off in a wave of publicity which was not good for her in a personal sense. I am glad she has begun to grapple with the problems and the complex nature of the Department in a manner which is getting better all the time. The Estimates show an increase of £4 in the capitation grants for national school pupils, £8 in the free tuition grant for secondary pupils and £500,000 for primary schools over and above what was allocated last year. That is a recognition by the Government of the validity of the case made by the Irish National Teacher's Organisation, by parents and others over the years that the primary school sector had been neglected for too long. Pupils are going to school in buildings which are not fit for human habitation. This recognition by the Government, although it is to a small extent, is very welcome. If the school is to be an extension of the home, how can we expect parents to send their children to a building in which they would not live themselves? The standards of houses in rural Ireland have been improved over the past decade. I am glad the Government have recognised that children should not have to attend school in buildings which are not up to standard.

[2656] The Minister should look at the whole complex problem of the provision of new school buildings. There are great difficulties within her Department, the Department of Finance and the Office of Public Works in relation to these buildings, and the various stages which must be gone through before detailed plans can be approved, contracts can be placed and so on. The Minister would do well to investigate these problems and see to it that where possible this red tape is eliminated so that practical, efficient buildings can be provided in the shortest possible time.

There will probably be a row about the proposed increase in university fees but it is high time that the university authorities looked at the kind of courses on offer and the end result for graduates. Unless one is talking about education in a purely philosophical or personal sense, there is little point in providing courses which do not result in jobs for graduates. How many thousands of graduates are there who cannot get employment? This will cause serious social problems and the universities must consider the job prospects for graduates and gear their courses to the availability of jobs in the years ahead.

I am glad that the Government propose to amalgamate and place under the direction of a junior Minister certain sections relative to AnCO and the National Manpower Service. This has been warranted for some time. The NMS has been like a headless corpse wandering around the country. There had not been a chief executive officer for some time and naturally this has led to disputes within the NMS and tensions within the regional offices. One assumes that there must be something of a deeper nature in that conflict. The NMS have come into conflict with AnCO and the change of structure is welcome. Increased efficiency, greater cohesion and the appointment of the Minister of State should bear fruit in that extra EEC moneys will be available and there will also be a streamlining of operations. There are thousands of young people who register with the NMS and say they never hear anything further about job availability. On the other hand, [2657] AnCO people would say that through their LINC courses they place people in permanent employment at very short notice. Sections of AnCo will be dealt with in greater detail in the budget.

Four major types of scheme are operated by AnCO. In-centre training is first class and produces highly trained people. The apprenticeship course is quite good and people with a decent trade will find a job, by and large, if they have either luck or initiative. The community youth programme has done very beneficial work in rural areas and in the inner city areas, provided that the supervision has been up to standard. There have been programmes which have not been up to the required standard because of a lack of adequate supervision. That section needs to be looked at. The LINC courses have given rise to suspicion and the Minister of State would do well to scrutinise this area. Field officers of AnCO with responsibility for link courses have informed some public representatives that they have been able to put young people into permanent jobs. It has afterwards transpired that these jobs were not permanent and many of the people were appointed without having anything to do with AnCO. In the west there were supposedly 130 permanent appointees under the AnCO LINC course but when I raised the matter with the people responsible they checked the figures and found that this was not true. I would urge the Minister to look into the matter. I take this opportunity to wish the Minister well in his new responsibility and I am confident that he will succeed in getting extra funds for the country and put those funds to more efficient use.

Reference has been made to the all-party committees. When the Leader of the House produced his document on Dáil reform those committees formed a fundamental and integral part of it. In order to ensure that these committees become effective in the way he envisaged, it is necessary for the Government not only to provide proper staffing but to make available all the facilities necessary for the proper workings of the committees. One may run into conflict with the Committee on Procedure and Privileges [2658] and the Departments of Finance and the Public Service. The committees can play a very effective part in streamlining the work of this House and can show the people that their public representatives are engaged not only in contentious legislation but in complex legislative matters. The committee system can lead to a far better presentation by the media of the work of the Dáil and Seanad. If the committees are to be a success the necessary facilities must be provided. The meetings to date have been most beneficial in that outsiders attending to give oral evidence have formed a high opinion of the quality of the committees and of their potentially beneficial effects.

I note that there is an increase in the amount provided to the Department of Foreign Affairs in relation to cross-Border studies and North-South co-operation. Both the Taoiseach and Deputy Haughey referred today to the Forum for a New Ireland. As a member of that body I am constrained from speaking about all matters relevant to it. The public perception of the work of the Forum has risen to a unique degree. Documents published by the Forum have shown that the troubles have cost in the region of £13 billion during the past decade, with a consequent 50,000 job losses. This brings one to a realisation that this has been a fundamental problem in our progress as a nation. The lingering scar which encircles the six north-eastern counties has been the cause of so much anguish, grief, disappointment, despair, bloodshed and even death. Time is of the essence and the problem is being dealt with in a most efficient and courageous manner by the Forum.

The media have a very important role to play. The only national newspaper to give a really in-depth coverage of the proceedings of the Forum has been The Irish Times. It behoves every national newspaper to give as much coverage as possible to the proceedings of the Forum, the voice of the people who give evidence there and of the documents produced in putting across to our people exactly how important, urgent and necessary this work is. Radio Telefís Éireann have a great responsibility to see that the coverage [2659] given to proceedings in the Forum continues. This has increased people's awareness, interest and understanding of the very deep conflict which has gone on in the North for so long. I ask RTE, in their wisdom, to continue with the various presentations of invited committees and people at the Forum. As the leaders said today, it is hoped that the results coming in the next few months will be beneficial for the island as a whole.

Much has been said about the necessity to buy Irish and increase our sales. I shall refer to a few statistics which came to my attention today. The Federation of Irish Footwear Manufacturers produce information on a monthly basis. Their summary of exports and imports of footwear from January to September 1983 is startling. Imports of footwear into this country under all headings from January to September 1983 were 10,243,687 — practically two pairs of shoes for every man, woman and child. These cost £58,661,091. The imports in 1982 were of the increased order of 9,752,477 pairs of shoes. On the export side, for this year the amount was 2,158 pairs of shoes at a cost of £20,655. There is something wrong there.

In parallel with a Buy Irish campaign there should be a Sell Irish campaign and the unions have a responsibility in this matter. They should encourage and motivate their members, who are in many cases working in shoe shops and footwear outlets all over the country, to give a potential customer the opportunity first of buying Irish. They should place the onus on the person behind the counter to sell Irish and give a parallel boost to the Buy Irish campaign. That applies right across the board. All customers should be given the opportunity first to buy an Irish manufactured product and, if not satisfied that the product measures up in quality, style, or specification, then the customer has the right to be right, but the person behind the counter has the right to prove the customer wrong. That fundamental aspect has not been put forward.

The Minister for Agriculture at Question Time yesterday referred to bovine [2660] tuberculosis. In recent weeks there have been difficulties with antibiotics, hormones and tuberculosis. I appreciate that TB has not been eradicated in humans, never mind animals. The bovine TB scheme has cost £171.626 million since 1954. It is now in its 29th year and the incidence of bovine TB in 20 of our 26 counties increased last year. Compensation paid to farmers last year amounted to £3.684 million and to veterinary surgeons £7.557 million. The Minister should continue using all the resources of his Department to find out exactly what causes this problem and why it has not been eradicated to date. He mentioned the various procedures for round testing and so forth and indicated, in reply to a question of 15 November last, that the number of reactors slaughtered in 1980 was 26,581; in 1981 it rose to 29,755; in 1982 it was back down to 26,821. This year the Department expect to slaughter 26,000 reactors.

Many vets will tell you that when animals slaughtered as TB reactors are killed out on factory lines with the naked eye it is not possible to see all lesions in the glands of those animals being inspected by the Department vets. They say that in up to one out of four cases one would see lesions with the naked eye indicating that the animal was tuberculin infected. On the other hand under laboratory conditions that number could rise to three out of four, which would appear to indicate that there is a supply of reactor beef getting through. I ask where these reactors——

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has three minutes left.

Mr. Kenny: ——eventually end up. The EEC, in their report, reference 3098/6/81, to Mr. Dalsager, said that back in the early seventies the Department sent out about 50 temporary veterinary inspectors to carry out tuberculin tests. This eventually caused a great controversy but they found, according to this document, three times as many reactors and reactor herds with lesions than did the practitioners. It indicates that the lack of progress since 1965 should not be put [2661] down to lack of money but rather to the fundamental fact “that two-thirds of the reactors are being missed at annual round testing”. That is something on which I shall elaborate in the budget debate and which needs to be investigated even further.

In conclusion, the Government, faced with a unique set of difficulties, with rising unemployment, massive borrowing repayments which were not their own fault, with the problem of the Forum, with the sinister attitude of many of our people, now under the terms of the man-consequences of dealing with that and with the general malaise among young people, now under the terms of the mandate given them last year an onus and responsibility upon them to deal effectively with these problems and to set about showing they have the courage and ability, the motivation and the incentive to get down to the kernel of these problems, sort them out and lead this nation on to better times and offer its young people and the potentially employable work force hope and confidence for a better future.

My last word is of congratulation to the Minister for Health who has seen fit, with whatever cutbacks are coming, to ensure that Castlebar General Hospital goes ahead. That is something which two State cars at full Cabinet level under the direction of the then Minister of State, Deputy Dr. Woods, were not in a position to deliver.

Mr. Daly: I shall come back from County Mayo for a few moments. It is fair to say that the present Government have not settled down to any serious consideration or action on how best to overcome our present economic difficulties. Today no clear-cut policy or objectives are being set down which would demonstrate that the Government are serious about finding solutions to our problems. It appears that no special plan and no action are even being contemplated by the Government to arrive at concise, detailed programmes on how best to tackle and deal with the major economic and social problems with which we are now faced.

[2662] It appears that each individual Department are working in isolation under the overall Government strategy and there is evidence that on many occasions one Government Department are not very familiar with the activities or actions of another.

It is also fair to say that Deputies on both sides of this House wish to see economic and social progress. No Member of this House could gain any satisfaction from seeing factories closing down, industries stagnating, agriculture declining, school-leavers walking the streets, old people neglected, a general air of confusion, uncertainly and pressure reigning throughout town, village and countryside. This is a time for cool, calculated and decisive leadership, accompanied by appropriate policies but, above all, Cabinet unity if such policies are to be implemented. It is essential that there be unity within the Cabinet if they are to deal constructively with the problems confronting us. How can we restore confidence in a shattered community if there is not that basic confidence within the leadership of the country, within the Government who have the responsibility of seeking solutions to our many problems? If our community see a Cabinet split and divided on fundamental issues how can there be any planning in any Government Department?

For instance, the Department of Energy has just been vacated by Minister Bruton whom I felt was doing a reasonably good job in a difficult situation. He has been replaced by another Minister with the energy and drive to do what is necessary in that Department, in sorting out our energy problems, but who would appear to have completely divergent views on strategy and policies, and even to have ideological differences on how such issues should be resolved. How can there be any planning within or direction from such a Department when they themselves have suffered this change in direction within such a short time? In the last few days here we have seen the manifestation of a Cabinet totally divided within themselves, an administration which will not inspire confidence in the community, a community crying out at present for [2663] leadership and confidence so essential if the problems confronting us are to be tackled satisfactorily.

In his budget speech earlier in the year the Minister for Finance said the Government were adamant about their commitment to economic growth and to more employment opportunities being created for our people, aspirations all of us would support. Such economic growth was to be achieved through the exercise of what the Government described then as disciplined financial management. Disciplined financial management is fine but, when it is transformed into severe financial curtailment — hitting the very basic financial structure of every Government Department and area of national endeavour — then it must be assumed that the result of such a policy will be economic stagnation, soaring unemployment, further hardship, misery and disappointment for many people. Government performance to date has been disappointing, a performance which has disappointed many people who supported them at the last general election. Certainly if there were any possibility of an imminent general election I am sure many people who supported both parties last time would change their minds now.

What we had looked forward to from this debate today was a clear indication from the Government, above all, from the Taoiseach himself, in relation to the major area of concern to all of us, the difficulties of employment and unemployment. In times of recession unemployment always constitutes a serious problem for all sections of a community but above all for young people, of whom there are many in our community. Indeed it is the same in most countries in recessionary times, that young people are placed in a vulnerable position vis-á-vis older workers in job situations. Many older workers are protected by legislation in regard to job security and have worked out agreements over years of involvement with managments and their companies. Also employers are often unwilling to hire young people because of their lack of experience; probably they feel safer employing older people. It must be [2664] remembered also that it is in our young people that the future of our country resides. How can we hope or expect young people to achieve the goals set out for them, at levels which can be attained here, with this immediate cut-back in the Education Estimate, a fundamental requirement of theirs? Though the Government have taken some action in establishing agencies and organisations to advise on strategies for dealing with youth unemployment at the same time there is the necessity and the responsibility on this administration, and on the Minister for Education, to provide the necessary financial structures to enable our young people in our schools and colleges to be trained, acquire skills and necessary expertise in the whole range of technological areas and so on spoken of by the Taoiseach this morning. In this debate there has been a total lack of input by the Government, but above all by the Taoiseach, of any new initiatives, thinking or ideas on how we might deal with this massive problem of youth unemployment, which is not being tackled by this administration in spite of all their agencies.

With regard to work-sharing and early retirement schemes, it must be remembered that we are talking about schemes implemented in many European countries in the late seventies and early eighties. Shorter working hours might lead to some reduction in the numbers of unemployed and create a few jobs but, in this respect, one is not talking of creating any major employment opportunities. Rather such talk is more relevant to improved working conditions rather than any improvement by way of the creation of additional employment. The early retirement schemes experimented with in Germany, Denmark and a number of other European countries did take people off the unemployment register on a “once-off” basis. This was done through the creation of early retirement funds and schemes which enabled people to vacate their employments and did create employment opportunities for many young people but it was a “once-off” situation not repeated in consecutive years. Therefore, such policies must be [2665] measured for their overall effect in reducing unemployment against their overall cost, which in my view is merely scratching the surface of this huge problem. Would it not be far more important now that there be investment along the lines suggested as late as this afternoon by the CII and other responsible bodies and agencies? They have expressed the opinion that the time is opportune for investment, above all investment which will yield some return to its investors who will be sheltered from the risks involved, as against those they might incur if they put their money in Government stocks or securities. Those are fundamental issues the Government are not facing up to and which must be faced at present. The Government must give priority to creating employment opportunities, especially in small businesses and enterprises, because it has been shown that they can form the basis of sustainable job opportunities for many people once the necessary financial and other infrastructures are provided.

It is depressing to read in the Estimates that up to £2 million under one subhead alone has been sliced off this year from the Shannon Free Airport Development Company, a company who have been to the forefront in creating employment opportunities throughout the mid-west region and in regions beyond it. They have shown what can be done through proper investment in such small businesses and enterprises in those areas. These small businesses have been the lifeline of recovery in the US. They are the types of business in which we should be investing instead of making matters more difficult for them.

I wish to deal with the Estimates in so far as they affect fisheries and forestry. As a nation we have failed to exploit our natural resources. We have neglected to organise enterprise. In this way we could have saved millions of pounds by way of import substitutes alone. Many industries based on Irish materials have closed down because of lack of investment and lack of modernisation. The co-operative movement, for instance, is working at half capacity. Policy had been directed unduly at outside interests by way of [2666] resolving our problems whereas we should have concentrated on our own resources and ability. It is time that we looked inwardly for a change instead of looking abroad to those foreign interests. We must be prepared to exploit to the full our own resources. Is it not a scandal that even as I speak here there are probably operating off the coast of Donegal, Russian, Bulgarian and East German factory ships processing fish that has been taken from around our coasts? There is enormous potential in the fisheries area alone. It is an industry that can provide hundreds of jobs.

Our neglect in dealing with our natural resources must be remedied by way of both Government and Opposition examining how best to deal with the situation that is taking place at this time. Surely it is within our capacity as a nation to resolve these matters.

One area in regard to which I have concern is in relation to the whole question of fishery harbour works. I am not satisfied that there is adequate provision in the Estimates in this regard. It is a critical area in so far as the development of the potential of our fisheries is concerned. The fishermen must have the facilities for landing catches. If there is not available the basic infrastructure necessary to enable fleets to operate what hope is there for fisheries? It was a scandal that last year more than £1 million was taken from the provision for harbour development schemes. At such places as Rossaveal, Burtonport and Clogherhead, just to mention a few, there is urgent need for development works. In my constituency part of Doolin Pier collapsed into the sea during the year with the tragic loss of lives. This resulted from the failure to deal with the situation there. The investment of £100,000 this time last year would have put the pier in order whereas now the amount required to deal with it will be of the order of £1 million. It is difficult to understand how the fishing industry can prosper or develop while extensive works remain to be done not only at the piers. I have mentioned but at the various other harbours also. Last year when the Government came into office they put a stop to [2667] a scheme of works for Burtonport harbour. That scheme was on the point of being executed at that time. I do not see any indication in the Estimates just published of any prospect of the major works that are necessary at Burtonport, Killybegs or Clogherhead being undertaken. The pier at Clogherhead is in danger of collapsing. Apart from the urgent need to provide essential facilities there, there is the all-important factor of making the pier safe.

The Vote for inland fisheries has been decimated with a reduction of 5 per cent in the subhead. That is 5 per cent of the total of £4 million or £5 million which is being allocated to running the entire inland fisheries setup for the year. When we subtract the pay element from that amount we find that in almost all cases the amounts being allocated are not remotely sufficient to enable the regional boards to carry out their functions satisfactorily. It is no answer to lay off staff. It would not be in the interest of the development of inland fisheries to do so. Therefore, we can only assume that there will be massive cutbacks, cutbacks of the order of 30 or 40 per cent in some areas. Again, this will create a situation in which the boards will not be able to carry out their functions as set out in their statutory responsibilities.

The regional and central fisheries board under recent legislation have been given the responsibility of developing and conserving our inland, coarse and sea fisheries. The potential in that area is enormous, not only in terms of employment but of helping the economy by way of attracting visitors to our shores. How can the boards be expected to undertake any kind of development schemes with this type of budget when they are finding it difficult to survive on the budget they have had for this year? The cutback in this respect is a sign of the poor commitment on the part of the Government in so far as inland fisheries are concerned. In addition it would seem to lend veracity to what was said at a conference of fishermen held in Kerry a few days ago, that was, that the Minister of State, and the Minister too, know very little about fisheries, [2668] know very little about inland fisheries.

I notice, too, that there is the fairly major reduction of 42 per cent in the appropriations-in-aid. This would relate mainly to the £2 million or so which accrues to the Department by way of fines and forfeitures. But I hope that the reduction is not an indication of any slackening off in the efforts to apprehend and detect foreign boats, boats from member States and from third countries, who might be infringing our fisheries laws. I take this opportunity of paying tribute to all involved in the apprehension of those caught fishing illegally. The Minister must ensure that there is no slackening off in this area because illegal fishing can do enormous harm so far as our fish stocks are concerned. The way in which inland fisheries are being treated is alarming and I hope that it will be possible for the Minister to reconsider the situation with a view to providing the necessary finance for the boards to enable them to carry out their duties.

A vigorous development programme is needed in regard to sea fisheries with a change in emphasis. We need more efficient catching methods and a development in the quality of fish products. We must aggressively market our fish products here and abroad. There is no need to depend on the Bulgarian, East German or Russian factory ships. We can process the fish at home and export them. While on a visit to Cairo recently I learned that we could sell our total catch if we were properly geared. We could sell our total fish exports on the Egyptian market if we had a proper marketing system. We will succeed in this industry if we make proper investments and instil confidence in those involved in the industry.

I was disappointed to learn of the changes in the Vote for Forestry. The most notable change was the decision to discontinue financial support for the Scarriff chipboard plant. I will not go into detail about this issue because we debated it last week. We were under the impression that efforts were being made by the Minister to get an alternative system to ensure that the Scarriff plant could [2669] be reopened. Local people who were involved in those discussions with the Minister have accused the Minister of not honouring the commitments and promises he made. They have said that the Minister has not made it possible to go further in the negotiations. Those people are being forced to take to the streets again to highlight their grievance. The 500 people from east Clare who demonstrated in Dublin about the closure of their factory realise that east Clare will suffer because of the shortsighted and retrograde decision of the Government. At this late stage I appeal to the Minister to have discussions with the receiver and the local action committee to try to find a solution to the problem. The plant should be reopened so as to provide an outlet for the raw material that exists in abundance in our State forests. Experts estimate that up to 100,000 metric tonnes of waste timber is rotting in our forests and that timber could be used in Scarriff.

More than one million acres of land has been planted in Ireland and the output from those forests will double in the next five years. It is expected that output from State forests will be in the region of three million cubic metres by the year 2000. For the foreseeable future there will be a shortage of timber in Europe and the UK will have to import 75 per cent of their timber requirements up to 2000. Our forests have been developed by planners and politicians for more than 60 years. More than £500 million has been invested in that project but, for the sake of an expenditure of between £25 million and £30 million, that huge investment is being put in jeopardy. Little thought is given to the job opportunities that will result if we process our timber and pursue export markets. I have no doubt that we could not only secure the existing jobs but create up to 20,000 jobs in associated forestry development projects in the next five to ten years. Many spin-off industries would benefit. In the next 20 years, if a plan is prepared, up to 50,000 people could be employed in the development of timber industries. Are we to allow forestry development to be jeopardised for the sake of a small investment for plant and machinery? In this [2670] area the Government have a way forward to create many jobs. One lesson that can be learned from the Scarriff closure is that we cannot permit a plant which depends on native raw material to close down. We must ensure that the plant is reopened so that we can have a use for thinnings from our forests and the waste from our saw mills.

There has been criticism recently of the staff of the Forestry Division. In my work with officials in that section I found them very dedicated. It is unfair to criticise the staff or blame the shortcomings in the Department on them. Any blame rests with the Minister. People who have been critical of those officials should address that criticism to the Minister. Up to now the Government have not put forward any positive proposals. The indications are that they do not care, do not have the policies, the commitment or the nerve to deal with the problems we face. They should give serious consideration to their position.

Minister for Justice (Mr. Noonan, Limerick East): I am glad to have the opportunity to address the House during this Adjournment Debate and to outline the most important developments in my area of responsibility over the past 12 months and to say a few words about prospects for 1984. The Government accept — indeed as a matter of priority — that the preservation of law and order is vital for progress on all fronts and are fully determined to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that the highest possible level of law and order is maintained.

Despite the restrictions in recruitment and the filling of vacancies in the public sector generally I was able to continue recruitment to the Garda Síochána during 1983 and to increase the strength of the force, which has now reached its highest ever level at 11,240. It is proposed to increase this strength to 11,400 in the coming weeks and to continue recruitment throughout 1984 in order to maintain this strength. Nearly 700 gardaí have completed their training this year and special emphasis is being placed on the deployment of the additional manpower [2671] to provide an increased Garda presence on the streets of our cities and towns. It is my policy, and one with which the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána agrees, to have as many uniformed members of the force as possible available for foot patrolling, which is one of the primary aids to crime prevention. The increased numbers in the force and the operation of a revised rostering system, which provides for a concentration of manpower on duty at the times when the need for Garda services is greatest, have contributed to the improved Garda presence generally and the deployment of the force is being kept under review by the Commissioner with a view to effecting further improvements in the level of patrolling.

There was one development during the year which, I am confident, will prove to have a profound influence on the future morale, well-being and management of the force. I refer to the introduction of a new scheme to govern the procedures for selection for promotion, which will apply to all ranks. The scheme has been accepted by the Garda Conciliation Council and this being so, it has the full backing of the Garda Commissioner and of all the Garda representation bodies or staff associations. I have been only too glad to accept the new scheme and to give it my full support. The scheme is designed to select for promotion, to any position, the candidate who is best qualified and most suitable, and to do this by procedures that are fair and seen to be fair. The scheme provides means by which the talents of all competitors can be fairly assessed and I am confident that it can be operated so as to produce, in the different ranks, a prudent and necessary mix of youth and experience.

A feature of the new scheme is that its operation will be monitored by a Promotions Council which will include persons from outside the force, in addition to representatives of the Garda Commissioner and of the different ranks of the force. It is intended to set up this council in the very near future. This is a development that will be very helpful to the Garda. When promotions are seen to be [2672] fair and being operated on a fair basis, the effects on the force will be major.

A very serious aspect of the crime situation has been the increase in drug abuse. As Deputies are aware, a special Governmental Task Force on Drug Abuse under the chairmanship of the then Minister of State at the Department of Health was established earlier this year to review the situation. The Government gave detailed consideration to the various recommendations of the task force and the recommendations which it was decided to implement without delay were announced some time ago by the Minister for Health. The implementation of these recommendations will, I believe, represent a major step forward in tackling this growing problem.

The Garda for their part are taking a number of measures to increase their effectiveness in dealing with criminal aspects of drug abuse. Permanent units of the Garda Drug Squad have been operating in Dublin, Cork and Limerick for a number of years and the question of allocating additional ban-ghardaí to the Dublin unit is under consideration at present, arising from the report of the Governmental Task Force on Drug Abuse. In addition, there is an intensive training programme operating within the force to ensure that each Garda Division will have a substantial number of members trained in anti-drugs work. Since the beginning of this year alone, 383 gardaí of all ranks have received this special training, bringing the total number trained, to date, to over 1,100.

The various measures being taken by the Garda are, I am happy to say, producing encouraging results by way of increased detections and significant seizures of illicit drugs, particularly in recent months. The Garda have had some notable successes in securing convictions in the courts of some of the well-known drug-pushers or so-called “Godfathers”.

Considerable progress has been made during the past year on the new Garda radio communication network. The bulk of the equipment required for the network in the 18 Garda Divisions outside of the Dublin Metropolitan Area has been delivered and much of it has been [2673] installed. Some essential components have not yet been delivered but delivery of these early in the new year should enable the network to be operational in all these 18 divisions by March or April 1984.

The next phase of the network to be provided is the Dublin Metropolitan Area system. It is hoped that installation of the system will be at least well advanced by the end of 1984. I should mention that sufficient provision has been made in the 1984 Estimates to enable work on this project to proceed as planned.

I should mention, too, that the extensive industrial site and buildings of the Talbot Motor Co. at Santry, County Dublin have just been procured for use by the Garda Síochána. This will solve longstanding accommodation problems in the Garda Depot as it will enable the garage for the maintenance of the force's car and motor-cycle fleets, the Barrack Master's stores and a number of other services to be transferred to Santry. The new premises will also house Santry Garda Station and will avoid the necessity to build a new station on the existing station site which is inadequate in size to meet requirements.

The Garda Commissioner has regularly impressed on each member of the force the importance of good community relations and of crime prevention. One of his first actions on his appointment as Commissioner was to appoint a chief superintendent and superintendent to the Community Relations Section at Garda Headquarters. The expansion of the community relations and crime prevention programme is aimed at developing the support of the community and offers a great potential for effective action against crime and vandalism. Fighting crime by means of prosecution, conviction and imprisonment is only a partial solution. I believe that nowadays we must look to prevention as the preferred approach.

The outline I have given of the steps being taken to tackle the crime problem illustrates the Government's determination to crack down on the criminal and [2674] thus preserve the peace and order that the vast majority of our people desire.

I now turn to the courts area. There has been a very welcome improvement in the general situation in this area. As far as the more or less chronic problem of delay in the hearing of civil actions in the High Court, particularly jury actions, is concerned, I am pleased to say that the statistics for the 1983 legal year — year ended 31 July — which have recently come to hand, show significant improvements in the state of High Court business. The main features are:

(a) an increase of 33 per cent in the number of jury actions disposed of during the year,

(b) an increase of 61 per cent in the number of non-jury actions disposed of and

(c) a reduction from 22 months to 20 months in the average delay from the date of setting down to the date of hearing in the case of jury actions and from 15 months to 13 months in the case of non-jury actions.

What is possibly more encouraging is the fact that the most recent statistics suggest that this improvement should continue into the future. The statistics for 1983 show very big falls in the numbers of summonses issued as compared with the previous year. This reduction in business results from the increases in May 1982 in the jurisdictions of the District and Circuit Courts as provided in the Courts Act, 1981 and in the short-term represents a big reduction in the business of the High Court which should put it in a position to make substantial inroads into its back-log of cases.

Of the various provincial venues at which the High Court sits to hear jury actions, Cork is the only venue at which delay on a par with Dublin existed up to the present. The President of the High Court has arranged to increase the number of sittings at Cork by 50 per cent in the current legal year in order to reduce delays at this venue. Additionally, the drop in business coming before the High Court generally should result in a drop in [2675] the number of jury trials being set down at Cork.

I mentioned the transfer of business from the High Court to the lower courts as a result of recent legislation and, naturally, there is a corresponding need to ensure that we are not merely shifting the problem to the Circuit and District Courts. I have already taken steps to ensure that these courts will be able to deal satisfactorily with their new jurisdiction and I will keep a close eye on developments in the future to ensure that delays will be kept to the very minimum.

While on the subject of the lower courts, I might mention that the industrial dispute involving the staff of the Circuit and District Courts which was in progress when I came to office was satisfactorily settled last spring thus enabling the major jurisdictional changes provided in the Courts Act, 1981 to become effective. There are still arrears of business, which accumulated during the dispute, to be worked off but considerable progress is being made.

A computer has been acquired to help the Metropolitan District Court staff to cope with increasing work volumes and is already printing, issuing and processing most of the summonses for Dublin city. This facility will be gradually extended and will, increasingly, bring about speedier and more effective enforcement of the law in the Dublin District Court area.

Part of the reason for the delays in the High Court in Dublin has been the shortage of accommodation — particularly in the period in which Court No. 4 was out of commission following the arson attack in 1982. In addition to the return of Court No. 4, steps are being taken to provide two new courts in the Four Courts complex. Apart from that, work is expected to commence shortly on the construction of an office block on the site of the former Four Courts Hotel. When completed this will allow for the provision of additional courtrooms and ancillary facilities in the Four Courts building itself.

In all the circumstances I think it is appropriate to pay a public tribute to the judges of all the courts who, I know, have made special efforts to bring about these [2676] improvements and to the courts' staffs concerned.

During 1983 the very high level of prison committals continued. Those committed included very serious criminals and organisers of crime. The daily average number of offenders in custody increased from 1,250 to almost 1,600 at present. The increase in committals put extreme pressure on available space. Shortage of accommodation is not, of course, a new phenomenon. It has been a consistent problem since 1979. Two hundred new spaces became available during the year in Mountjoy and Cork prisons and in Loughan House.

It has been necessary to release a considerable number of offenders without any form of supervision during the year prior to their normal release dates. Those released were short term offenders or offenders serving longer sentences who were considered not to be a danger to the community. I am satisfied that those released were very carefully selected and I gather that only a small percentage were re-committed prior to termination of their sentences. Since September there has been a marked decline in the numbers released without supervision.

The provision of additional accommodation in existing institutions or through acquiring ready-made accommodation that may come on the market is a major priority. I want to reassure the House that I will continue to try to achieve the ideal situation, where those who are a serious risk in the community will remain in prison for the duration of the sentences imposed by the courts while always recognising that a proportion of offenders can be helped while in prison and can be released subject to certain conditions which will assist them to stay crime free and become useful members of society.

Last May the remaining civilian prisoners in the Curragh Military Detention Barracks were transferred to the separation unit in Mountjoy Prison. The ending of military detention for civilian prisoners was a significant development and I am glad to be able to say that the arrangements for the housing of potentially very [2677] disruptive prisoners in Mountjoy have worked smoothly since last May.

On the general subject of prisons, I would like to say that over the last few months the custodial aspect of imprisonment has received undue attention at the expense of considerable developments on the positive side in the prisons. One of the aims of imprisonment must be to help offenders become more aware of their responsibilities to themselves, their families and the community. With this end in mind, the education, library, work-training, psychological and welfare services in the prisons have been developed considerably and further improvements are being pressed ahead. I would like here to acknowledge the contributions of the various vocational education committees who provide staff and assistance for education in prisons, the various local libraries and AnCO who have provided much technical advice and assistance in the development of work-training programmes for offenders over the years.

During the year I made serious efforts to control overtime in the Prison Service. I consider that my efforts were rewarded in that for the first time in a long time expenditure on overtime has been reduced — albeit by a small margin. I expect that expenditure on prison officers' overtime for 1983 will be somewhat less than the £7.4 million for 1982. £6.5 million has been provided in the 1984 estimates for prison officers' overtime. I am determined that this amount will not be exceeded. To do otherwise would be to fail to do justice to other groups who have faced and will face much harsher cutbacks.

I am glad to be able to say that I expect that 1984 will represent a new beginning as far as industrial relations in the Prison Service is concerned. This follows an agreement which I made with the Prison Officers Association in November which, among other things, provides for a period of industrial peace pending the outcome of deliberations of a Committee of Inquiry.

During 1983 the capital programme for prisons and places of detention progressed significantly. Work on the site at Wheatfield, Clondalkin, County Dublin, [2678] which has been in progress since September 1980, continued without interruption. The enclosure of this site of approximately 30 acres, the draining of the site, the provision of servicing and lighting is nearly completed. The buildings to house the heating, central electrical, maintenance and storage services are also nearly completed. It is intended to locate two separate places of custody on this site and tenders for one of these, which will provide custody for over 300 male juveniles aged 17 to 21, have been issued and are due for return in January, 1984. Design of the second place of custody is well advanced and will be completed next year.

At Mountjoy Prison a new building to accommodate admissions, discharges and visiting was completed during the year. This building also provides facilities for professional visits to offenders and for more controlled visits to drug abusers. A new outdoor exercise area, well laid out for games, was also completed. Work on the perimeter wall of the prison is also in progress. Design of new buildings for staff facilities, administration, catering, education, work and recreation is far advanced. At the Training Unit, Glengarriff Parade, Dublin, construction of an extension to provide additional work-training places is nearing completion.

At Arbour Hill Prison a new building to house education, work-training and braille production is virtually completed and should be ready for occupation very shortly. At Cork Prison the north wing of the custodial block was commissioned last summer and new buildings for education, work-training and maintenance were also completed. Design of a new place of detention for about 200 male juveniles on a site adjoining the existing prison is far advanced. At Shelton Abbey a new workshop has been completed and new farm buildings are under construction and at Loughan House the gymnasium has been completed.

At Portlaoise Prison major roof repair is far advanced. A new staff residence for unmarried personnel and new housing for married personnel to replace existing housing gone beyond economic repair [2679] are almost complete. Design of a new security prison, which will be sited near the existing prison, is far advanced and site preparation for this has been carried out. At Limerick Prison new buildings for staff accommodation, storage and services installations have been provided and new buildings to house education, work and recreational facilities for prisoners are under construction. Work on renewal of heating and lighting systems and updated catering facilities is also in progress.

The Government, notwithstanding present economic difficulties, have allocated £11,498,000 to the capital programme for prisons in 1984. This will enable building to proceed on the place of detention for male juveniles at Wheatfield and design of other planned places of custody to be brought to completion or virtual completion. It will also enable the work in Mountjoy and Limerick Prisons to which I have referred to continue, buildings to house work for prisoners to be erected at Mountjoy and Loughan House, updated staff facilities to be provided for staff in Mountjoy and Portlaoise and the new Central Stores Depot at Santry, County Dublin, to be fitted out and brought into operation.

Since I came into office I have taken a particular interest in the work of the Probation and Welfare Service. This service operates on a country-wide basis and provides a probation service to the courts and a welfare service to the prisons and places of detention and some special schools. One of its most important responsibilities is the supervision of about 2,200 offenders who have been placed on probation by the courts.

I see the development of the Probation and Welfare Service as being very important especially in relation to the development of alternatives to imprisonment. In July of this year the Criminal Justice (Community Service) Act was passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas. The legislation will be implemented next year as soon as necessary preparations have taken place. There is money provided in the Estimates to staff that particular project. As soon as recruitment commences [2680] it should be possible to implement it by early or mid-Summer.

It is my firm policy to encourage the use of probation by the courts as much as possible and towards this end I have submitted detailed proposals to the Department of the Public Service for an expansion of the service. The development of probation as an alternative to imprisonment is essential for I believe that, if there is an adequate probation system in which effective supervision can be exercised over the offender, the State on the one hand is spared the expense of imprisonment and on the other hand there is a real chance that the offender can be diverted from graduating to more serious crimes.

Besides providing more probation staff, another way of developing the probation system is through the establishment in the community of hostels, day-centres and workshops to which offenders on probation can be referred. I am glad to say that the Estimates for 1984 provide for an increase of 12 per cent in expenditure in this area as it is one which I am particularly anxious to develop. I would like to take this opportunity of thanking all the local committees involved in this type of work and to say that I will give all the help I can to any responsible group who wishes to establish a hostel or workshop where the need for one has been established.

Despite the present economic difficulties it has been possible to maintain expenditure on civil legal aid at slightly above the 1983 provision. However, I do not expect that the 1984 provision of £1,340,000 will enable the Legal Aid Board to expand their services next year in any significant way. Indeed, I am aware that the current staffing embargo in the public service is having a serious effect on the level of service which the board are able to provide to the public at present, and I am concerned about this matter.

The provision for criminal legal aid in 1984 shows no increase on last year's amount. I mentioned in the Dáil in July, in the course of answering a parliamentary question, that I was having the scheme examined to see what changes [2681] may be needed in the present arrangements for providing criminal legal aid, including changes needed to eliminate possible abuses of the scheme. That examination is proceeding.

Deputies will be aware that the Minister for Justice has a special position in relation to the law and its reform since I have responsibility for a fairly wide area of the law. I would like now to mention some important legislative proposals that I have brought before the House during the past year. A long overdue reform of criminal law and procedure was initiated with the publication of the Criminal Justice Bill. I am confident that the enactment of the Bill, together with the other measures we are taking, will have a significant impact on the level of serious crime.

One of the safeguards proposed in the Bill is the electronic recording of the questioning of persons detained in a Garda station. To ensure that this proposal is implemented as quickly as possible I have appointed a special committee to advise on the practical steps necessary to establish such a system. The committee are at present studying the progress that has been made in this field in other jurisdictions.

In conjunction with the Bill, proposals are being worked out as a matter of urgency for the establishment of a procedure for the independent assessment of the handling of complaints against the Garda. These proposals will, in accordance with my undertaking, be submitted to the House before the Bill becomes law.

Other legislative measures include the Bankruptcy Bill, which passed its Second Stage and is now being referred to the Joint Committee on Legislation. This is a complex measure aimed at modernising and consolidating existing bankruptcy law and procedure. Another measure authorised the granting of a special liquor licence to the National Concert Hall.

Apart from the Bills that were published, a great deal of work has been done on a wide variety of legislative proposals. Because of their nature — most of them affect personal rights in one way or another as between citizen and citizen [2682] — their formulation tends to be extremely complex and to require a high degree of precision. That usually involves having a large number of drafts before a satisfactory text can be produced.

In the past year there have been some important decisions in the field of family law. As Deputies will recall, the Government have decided in principle to introduce legislation to give each spouse equal rights of ownership in the family home. The form the legislation will take is that co-ownership will be presumed in all cases but provision will be made for setting aside the presumption where the application of a rigid rule would cause injustice.

Consideration is also being given to the extent, if any, to which married couples would have a right by agreement to opt out of the provision and to make their own arrangements about ownership. This legislation, in course of preparation at the moment, will be a very important extension of the protection given to spouses by the Family Home Protection Act, 1976, which, while it gave the nonowner spouse the right to veto the sale or mortgaging of the home, unless overruled by the Court, did not give that spouse any share in the ownership of the home. The Government decision is based on the view of marriage as a partnership in which each spouse has a vital role in promoting the wellbeing of the family unit.

As the Minister of State at my Department, Deputy Nuala Fennell, announced in October last, the Government have decided, following the Law Reform Commission's report on illegitimacy, to introduce legislation to reform the law in this area at the earliest possible date. Legal reforms will be concentrated on the elimination of discrimination against children born outside marriage and will also deal with the circumstances in which rights in relation to his child will be given to the unmarried father.

The Government have recently authorised the drafting of legislation which will implement the proposals made by the Law Reform Commission that the age of majority should be reduced from 21 to 18 years.

[2683] In the area of landlord and tenant law, legislation that was promoted and enacted some months ago has extended for a period of 12 months, that is to 31 July next, the special ground rent purchase scheme that is administered by the Land Registry. Purchases under the scheme have now passed the 42,000 mark. In this area of the law also I may mention the Landlord and Tenant (Amendment) Bill, 1983, which is now on the Order Paper and which is designed to remove difficulties that have in some cases been impending ground rent tenants in buying out their properties or in obtaining a renewed ground rent lease.

It is proposed also to abolish the distinction between felonies and misdemeanours and other obsolete provisions in the criminal law area, as well as to amend the liquor licensing code and the law relating to civil liability for damage caused by animals.

A major technological development in the Land Registry is the implementation of a programme of computerisation of its folios which commenced in December 1982. A Land Registry folio contains all relevant particulars of land and its ownership. The whole system in the registry depends on speedy availability of folios both for members of the public calling to inspect them and members of the staff working on applications relating to them; computerisation is ideal for this purpose. While the full programme will not be completed for several years the benefits from it are increasing daily according as implementation proceeds. It is interesting that our Land Registry is in advance of neighbouring registries in Northern Ireland and England in this important and arguably most significant area of modern technology. I hope that it will be possible during 1984 to arrange to have studies commenced on the feasibility of computerising Land Registry maps and Registry of Deeds records.

A proportionally small but complex aspect of Land Registry work which is a source of delay is that of establishment of title by possession. A helpful development during the year has been the holding of seminars for solicitors which have [2684] been attended by Land Registry officials with the aim of minimising the causes of delay.

I turn now to the financial provisions for 1984. In the 1984 Estimates for my area as a whole the total provision for 1984 for the Department's group of Votes is £296,389,000. This is £20,294,000 or 7.35 per cent more than estimated expenditure for 1983.

The following is the net change as between the estimated expenditure for 1983 and the provision in the 1984 Estimates for each of the Votes for which I am responsible: Office of the Minister, down £9,000; Garda, up £15,837,000 or 8 per cent; Prisons, up £3,301,000 or 8 per cent; Courts, up £841,000 or 11 per cent; Land Registry and Registry of Deeds, up £319,000 or 6 per cent; Charities Office, up £5,400 or 5 per cent.

The provision for salaries, wages and allowances, including overtime, in all Votes is £218,917,000 which is £22,455,000 or 11 per cent more than estimated expenditure for 1983. The amount for the Garda Vote is £170,652,000 or £19,182,000 or 13 per cent more than estimated expenditure in 1983. The provision for overtime in the Garda Vote for 1984 is £11.1 million compared with an estimated expenditure for 1983 of £10.7 million. The amount for the Prisons Vote is £27,246,000 or £945,000, 4 per cent, more than estimated expenditure in 1983. The provision for overtime in the Prisons Vote for 1984 is £6.5 million compared with estimated expenditure in 1983 of £7.4 million.

The following gross non-pay figures exclude appropriations-in-aid receipts.

The gross non-pay provision in the Garda Vote for 1984 is £53.351 million or £2.921 million — 5.2 per cent — less than estimated expenditure in 1983. This reduction is largely due to the fact that non-pay expenditure in 1983 is inflated by the advance purchase in December 1983 of radio equipment and fleet cars to the value of about £4 million, purchases which would otherwise have been made in 1984, and a consequent reduction in the estimate for 1984 for radio equipment and fleet cars.

The gross non-pay provision, including [2685] capital, in the Prisons Vote for 1984 is £19.480 million or £2.466 million, 14 per cent, more than estimated expenditure in 1983.

There are two Voted Capital items in the 1984 Estimates, both on the Prisons Vote, that is prisons building and probation centres. The 1984 provision for prisons building is up £1.5 million or 15 per cent on estimated expenditure for 1983 and the increase for probation centres is £190,000 or 118 per cent.

Mr. F. Fahey: I propose to deal with just one aspect of the Estimates and that is the Government's handling of the most serious problem in this country at present, youth employment. The publication of the Estimates once again points to the continuing failure of the Government to tackle this most serious cancer now facing our society, the problem of young people walking the streets for months and in some cases years on end without any hope of finding employment.

I challenge this Government to produce their policy on employment creation for young people. The Government's performance in the past 12 months in this vital area has been miserable. Their actions can be summed up as a catalogue of contradictions and U-turns to cover their failure to come to grips with this problem. After ten months in office the Government, having done nothing up to that stage, cobbled together a committee to prepare a youth policy. This is merely a window-dressing exercise to draw attention from their 12-month period of inactivity until this committee reports. I find it hard to believe that the people who have been put on this committee are expected to come up with the kind of policies necessary to put young people to work. While I do not wish to cast aspersions on the calibre of those people, I fail to see how persons such as Bono of the pop group U2 and the international golfer Elaine Bradshaw can be expected to come up with policies which will satisfy the employment needs of young people. I am quite satisfied that in 12 months' time we will have heard nothing from this committee that we do not know already.

The Government, having added to the [2686] burden of PAYE workers with the 1 per cent youth employment levy, have done everything possible to strangle the Youth Employment Agency which was set up for the specific purpose of providing jobs for young people. There are only 28 people employed by the agency and despite continued requests from its director, Mr. Neil Greene, for staffing the agency is still operating on a shoestring. The fact that only 500 jobs have been created in the past 12 months and that £11 million of the agency's funds were transferred elsewhere must add to the frustration of young people.

The information I received in reply to a parliamentary question on 29 November proves that the Government are more interested in juggling with figures than putting extra resources into the creation of employment for young people. For instance, in that answer I was told that £94 million had been contributed by the hard-pressed PAYE workers towards youth employment but only £6 million of that was spent on the Youth Employment Agency up to 31 October 1983. The remainder of the money was spent on other agencies where Exchequer expenditure has been replaced by the 1 per cent levy.

For instance, AnCO got £48 million. Clearly that was put in in place of finance AnCO have received from the Exchequer in previous years. The other areas that received money were Departments where money has been given from the youth employment levy in place of central Exchequer funds which have been received by them prior to the introduction of the youth employment levy. The Department of the Environment got £6 million, the Department of Education got £5 million, the Department of Labour got £10 million and the employment incentive scheme got £3.7 million.

The above clearly indicates that the Government are not interested in putting extra resources into the vital area of providing jobs for young people. Instead, they have conned the PAYE sector into thinking that by making the extra sacrifice of paying 1 per cent they will provide jobs for young people. That 1 per cent is being spent in simply replacing Exchequer [2687] expenditure and the Estimates today point to a continuation of that policy. For instance, the capital expenditure programme for AnCO is down by a massive 72 per cent and the day-to-day spending on the running costs of AnCO is down by 10 per cent. Clearly money is not being given to agencies such as AnCO from the traditional sources but is being given from the youth employment levy. All there is in the Estimates is a change in the way in which the allocation of money is made. There is no extra money for job creation.

The Estimates point to a series of cuts in areas where there is potential for job creation. For instance, there is a cut in the expenditure of the IDA and there are serious cuts in capital expenditure across the board that will affect the construction industry in particular. This is where most young people look for short-term work before they find permanent employment but next year there will be a reduction of up to 10 per cent in activity in the building industry. The policy of cutting capital expenditure, increasing indirect taxation and killing investment will have only one result and the Government acknowledged that by providing for an increase in the unemployment benefit they will pay next year.

The Government should now take stock of the situation. In the west last week a leading psychologist told me he was alarmed at the number of young people now visiting his clinic. They are suffering from nervous tension caused by the fact that they cannot get work. They have had good education and many have borrowed money to receive a third level education but 12 months after finishing in university they cannot get any work. I will give two examples.

Two young ladies came to my clinic last week. One had a university degree in Commerce and the other had a BA degree in English and Economics and also a first-class diploma in computer programming. Both girls have been unemployed since last May. One told me she had filled up 240 applications for jobs but has no hope of finding employment. The real disaster for those two young people [2688] and the thousands throughout the country is that the only unemployment benefit they can get is a miserable £28 per week. Because one of the girls was living with her parents — where else could she live? — she receives a miserly £12 per week. A sum of £16 is being stopped because it is claimed she has means and the means in the eyes of the Department of Social Welfare is the fact that she is living at home. The other girl who has a diploma in computer programming does not receive any unemployment benefit. She lives at home with her parents on a small farm in County Galway. The Department of Social Welfare have said that because her father owns the land she is not entitled to any unemployment benefit.

The above is the kind of action over which the Government are presiding. I give them a firm warning tonight that the young people will not stand for this kind of policy any longer. There is frustration in every town and village because the young people are walking the streets unable to find employment. That fact will be tied around the neck of the Government for the remainder of their term of office unless they are prepared to make significant changes in the policies they are pursuing.

I believe we must have financial rectitude and careful book-keeping. I am convinced we must get our finances right. However, if the financial rectitude and the book-keeping being practised tears apart the very core and fabric of our economy to such an extent that it will cost many millions to put it together again in future years then I depart from that kind of book-keeping and that kind of financial rectitude. I say to the Minister for Finance that he can run a tight ship but he can do so without causing all this hardship to young people.

As far as the political side is concerned, this will be the stone that will take this Government to the bottom of the sea. Unlike the situation in Britain, there will not be a Falklands war to bring this Government back into favour when it comes to the next election. I want to signal a clear warning that unless we find in the budget a complete reversal of the kind of policies that the Government [2689] have pursued in the past 12 months there will be very grave unrest among our young people.

The Fine Gael-Labour Programme for Government announced the setting up of the National Development Corporation with a capital requirement of £200 million. It was hailed by the Labour Party as the power-house of job creation. In the February budget it was announced that the £200 million was reduced to £7 million. On 26 October the Minister for Industry and Energy informed me in the Dáil that the money would not be spent this year as the National Development Corporation would not be set up.

Subsequently, the Minister reactivated the National Enterprise Agency which he scrapped when he came into office. We can now see that the Government have been involved in yet another U turn in this respect. If the Minister was here to answer the question as to how much of the £7 million has now been spent on job creation the answer would be “nil”. Whatever money is spent on the National Enterprise Agency will simply pay for administration costs which will not help job creation. This cannot and will not be accepted by our young people. To add insult to injury young Ministers and Deputies on the Government side have been coming forward in recent times with the most ridiculous suggestions. I have here a newspaper report concerning the Minister of State at the Department of Labour, Deputy George Birmingham. The unbelievable heading in this article reads: “Scouting urged for jobless”. I find it hard to believe that a Minister would recommend to the unemployed young people that they should join the boy scouts.

It is also hard to believe the statements of Deputy Richard Bruton during the week where he laid all the blame for the present problems on the type of training and education provided by AnCO and other agencies. One need not be very brilliant to understand that at present, no matter what kind of education or training you receive, you will not find a job anywhere. Whether you were educated in a third level college, a second level college, a vocational school or through AnCO [2690] training schemes, your chances of getting a job now are about 1 per cent. This kind of pussyfooting by the Government, at the expense of our young people walking the streets, is leading to social problems of crisis proportions.

I challenge the Government in the forthcoming budget to address themselves to this most urgent problem and to produce immediately a plan of action for youth employment creation. That plan must ensure that they return to the normal Government decisions which bring about investment. I want to give the Government the benefit of a few suggestions which I am satisfied will provide for jobs for young people in the coming 12 months.

The first suggestion is to extend the gratuity scheme which is in operation in local authorities for the benefit of married female employees who wish to leave their employment after two years following their marriage. This scheme should be extended to all employees in the public and private sectors. There should be an income tax incentive paid for a specified period to the husband of a married lady who decides to leave her job two years after marriage. For instance, if it was agreed to provide an extra 10 per cent income tax relief to her husband the effect on the family losing her income would be made more bearable. I am convinced that an imaginative programme such as this would cause thousands of married ladies who are now employed and who would get a reasonably good financial handshake two years after their marriage to decide to leave their jobs, thus creating many vacancies for unemployed young people. There are many married ladies employed in teaching, nursing and the public service generally. Last week in Galway 2,000 girls were interviewed for 60 places in the regional hospital.

The second proposal is to extend the 10 per cent corporation tax which is applicable to manufacturing industry to the service industry. To be specific, by service industry I mean international insurance and re-insurance, international banking, data processing and the siting of European headquarters of multinational [2691] firms here. If we can attract those service firms here we can provide much needed jobs and income. When one considers that 1 of 1 per cent of world wide premium income in international re-insurance is equal to the balance of payments deficit, we could wipe out that deficit if we attracted them here. If Bermuda and the Isle of Man can do it why can Ireland not do it? The results would be immediate; there would be a provision of prestigious employment, especially for the highly qualified young people coming out of third level education who have no opportunities at present.

Ireland is now set to take advantage of such a development because our isolation on the periphery of Europe does not make us any less attractive as a location for service industry because of the improvement in communication and data links to this country. It is clear that the traditional centres, such as Brussels, Paris and London have become overcrowded as far as many of those international firms are concerned. Our young, educated population and our impressive data link services which are now about to come into operation and the introduction of satellite communications now place Ireland on an equal footing with the best locations for international re-insurance. In Galway we have a good example of that where 95 people who received third level education in the west are employed by an international re-insurance company who are now doing business with almost every country in the world. That is the kind of decision which is required to bring about this kind of investment here. The management of that firm tell me there is no doubt in their minds that if the 10 per cent corporation tax applicable to manufacturing industry were to be extended to the service industry, many more firms would follow their example and come to Ireland. I ask the Cabinet to consider such a proposal in the forthcoming budget.

My fourth proposal for employment creation is that the Government provide finance in the budget for the provision of extra services for traditional Irish industries [2692] which have found the going tough. They should provide finance in every way possible to get around the European Court decision on the promotion of Irish products so that our products can compete with foreign goods on the home market and that people will be attracted to buy Irish goods. The statistic is simple. Jobs could be given to 13,000 young people in the coming year if 500,000 householders bought £1 extra of Irish products per week.

This Government have a duty to do more than go on platforms announcing “Buy Irish” campaigns. They have a duty to put resources into traditional industries, to help them with their production techniques and marketing, to help them to become more effective and efficient and to compete with imports. Similar resources must be used to encourage people to buy Irish goods. I was very disappointed to hear the Minister for Industry talk about his fears of this Government getting involved in protectionism. I am not talking about protectionism. I am talking about the Government motivating the Irish people to be nationalistic, like those who went before us. Nationalistic means you support Ireland and everything Irish, that you buy Irish goods and that Irish manufacturers are assisted in every way possible.

There is no point saying that this cannot be done because of a European Court decision regarding the protection of Irish goods. There are numerous ways money can be spent which will not contravene the court ruling. I wish to see in the forthcoming budget initiatives in this regard. This does not mean we have to spend millions of pounds. This is a motivational exercise. When I spoke on the budget last year I asked when was the last serious debate in this House on the concept of supporting Irish products, of improving the share of Irish products on the home market and of ensuring that when Irish products are sold abroad they have a better chance of competing by being able to win at home. Unfortunately, this House is not interested in that kind of simple solution to our problem. I repeat that for every £1 extra spent by [2693] 500,000 householders, 13,000 jobs for young people could be created.

My final proposal to improve the employment of young people is imaginative, that is that an employment incentive be provided to both employers and young people because the present employment situation is not attractive. Employers are not encouraged to employ a young person because of the heavy PRSI payments, heavy taxation and the possibility of being brought to court under the employment tribunal Acts. The Government should provide an employment incentive for firms to employ a certain number of young people. The young person would not be expected to pay tax or PRSI; rather the company would pay the young person directly his gross wage but the young person would still be entitled to all the benefits enjoyed by people who pay tax and PRSI. As an additional incentive to the company and the other workers who would have to improve their performance to ensure the company's continued viability as a result of employing extra people, I propose that a small tax rebate be extended to the company's corporation tax so that the extra burden on the company would be lessened to some degree.

It is not often that proposals are made by the Opposition for action by Government, but I feel strongly about those proposals. I know they would create thousands of jobs for young people in 1984. I propose to submit them to the 15 Ministers for their consideration as part of the 1984 budget. If the Government continue to follow the policies which are clearly seen in these Estimates, and if they continue with the book-keeping exercise I mentioned earlier, there can be only one result: the Minister for Justice will have a much harder job on his hands trying to control the crime, vandalism and unrest that will be found here in the coming years because so many young people are unemployed, walking the streets and without any hope of finding jobs.

Mr. Farrelly: I welcome the opportunity to make my contribution to this very [2694] important debate. Like the previous speaker I agree that steps will have to be taken to solve the problems facing our economy. We all recognise that unemployment is our most serious problem. Unemployment was not a real problem for Governments five or ten years ago because at that time we solved our unemployment problem by the emigration ship. Our ever-increasing young population over the last few years has been a drain on our economy because we had to provide money for schools, education and so on.

We have a problem none of us even thought we would have to deal with. It will be very difficult to find a solution to the problem of unemployment. People who are unemployed become dissatisfied with the community and with politicians. They feel they are not wanted. LINC courses are being given throughout the length and breadth of the country. There is one in Navan in my own constituency. These courses are showing people that they can do something about their unemployment. Numbers of people who have attended these courses have had the courage to start up small businesses. With the help they have been given by the people running the LINC courses, by AnCO and the youth employment programmes they realise that there is a need for different services and that many people can be employed in providing them.

I welcome the new proposal for the enterprise allowance scheme. I believe it will be introduced early in the new year. Married people will receive £50 per week for the first year and unmarried people will receive £30 per week for the first year, if they are interested in starting up their own businesses.

I should like to see that proposal extended to cover farmers and other employers who are prepared to take on somebody who has been on the unemployment register for ten or 12 weeks, or even longer. It should be an even £40 per week and the employer should pay the remainder of the wages and only the remainder of the wages should be taxed. This would give an incentive to employers to take on people who are unemployed. People running the unemployment [2695] exchanges should be told that if unemployed people are offered jobs and they do not turn up for work they should be knocked off the register.

At least 50,000 people are abusing hard earned taxpayers money. They are collecting unemployment benefit while they have other work. They are doing 20,000 to 30,000 young people out of employment. If we tackle this serious problem, people on PAYE and everybody else who is working will thank us for it.

Recently I was talking to some colleagues who mentioned the fact that they knew people who were working and drawing unemployment benefit at the same time. Within ten minutes they had named 92 people in one town who were abusing the system. We have a commitment to the taxpayer, and to everyone who is working to improve this country for their children and their children's children, to tackle this problem.

I listened with interest to a number of speakers identifying the difference between the Taoiseach's speech this morning and the speech by the Leader of the Opposition. Their summing up was that Deputy Haughey outlined specific problems. Long before I came into this House we did likewise. He did it in 1979 when he took office and again in 1982 when re was re-elected. The problem was that, as Taoiseach, he was not prepared to do anything about them. He added to the problems when different groups of people made applications for wage increases over and above the norm in 1980 and 1981 to the tune of 10, 15, 16 or 17 per cent on top of what was being paid to everybody else.

That added enormously to the problems we have today, the problems of over-expenditure and paying ourselves too much. Many people will say we did likewise. We did just enough to keep ourselves in existence. I will defend that anywhere. The Leader of the Opposition alleged recently that the Tánaiste had not handled the Department of the Environment properly over the past year, and that was why he wanted a change. When we took office 12 months ago the Estimates had been prepared by the then [2696] Government. Local authorities were short of £97 million. In the document The Way Forward the then Taoiseach proposed that people should be asked to pay water rates to the local authorities. The Way Forward has gone back for renaming. We were left to do something about the problem of the £97 million shortfall. The Minister for the Environment reduced it and included an extra £34 million in the 1983 budget. There is not sufficient revenue accruing to the Department of the Environment. The abandonment of domestic rates in 1977 was the beginning of the problem, followed by the court case in relation to poor law valuation.

The foundations of the problem were laid by the Fianna Fáil Government in 1977 when they starved local authorities of the finance necessary to operate efficiently. Road improvement works have been abandoned in most areas, except for a number of counties in the western development area which are receiving grants from the EEC. The housing programme has dwindled away. In 1977 we were able to house married people who had only one child but today they must have three or four children to be eligible for housing. We have a duty to the taxpayer not to continue building elaborate offices which are left unoccupied.

Agriculture is at a crossroads because of the EEC proposal to impose a super-levy which would ruin this industry. I will not say I am happy with the proposals to impose levies in regard to disease eradication. Agriculture is the only industry which can ensure the return of the nation to prosperity. I do not want any Deputy opposite to say that we have not done our fair share in regard to agriculture.

Mr. N. Treacy: What about the farm modernisation scheme?

Mr. Farrelly: It is fortunate that we on this side of the House are representing the country in Europe because our European partners could say to the party opposite that they in Government introduced a 2 per cent levy and a resource tax on farmers in 1979-1980. That imposition was a severe penalty at a most important [2697] time for agriculture and nobody could be proud of being party to such a proposal. The farm modernisation scheme has been reintroduced.

Mr. N. Treacy: Not yet.

Mr. Farrelly: It is proposed to spend £37.5 million in 1984. The Estimates were left short last year by the Fianna Fáil Government and I have made recommendations to the Minister that those people who were approved for payments under the scheme should be given priority on its reintroduction. I believe the necessary sum is in the region of £10.3 million and I will do what I can in this regard.

I demand that the food processing industry should get an injection of cash in the budget to upgrade facilities and develop potato co-ops. We must compete with our foreign counterparts. I have worked in potato co-ops in my own area and I will be looking for proper incentives for them. We are the first people to make such a recommendation.

The Minister for Agriculture told the House this week the incidence of tuberculosis has been reduced to 0.2 per cent throughout the country. The 30-day test has been in operation for some-time and I believe the period should be extended to at least 60 days in respect of the free movement of cattle for export and slaughter. I will be in touch with the people involved to ensure that this is done because it would be of great help to individual farmers.

We all realise that the tax burden is very severe and something must be done to help taxpayers. People say, in this House and outside it, that they cannot take any more. No one knows better that they cannot. However, those people over the years required the services which were provided and are still being provided. We have one of the best educational systems in the world, but it is continuously costing more to educate our people. We must do our utmost when budget day comes to reduce the burden on our business people which would mean that our Exchequer would receive more in VAT. Our present rates of VAT [2698] cause serious problems. A single rate of VAT would be a severe blow to some of the poorer in our community and some thinking should be done on this. An enormous amount of money is being lost in cross-Border trading. No one can contradict me when I say that the imposition of 1 per cent VAT on imports at the point of entry on all goods has done untold damage to our large industries which were under severe pressure even before that. It would be very difficult now to get rid of VAT and find the necessary £150 million to replace it. I hope that the Government will do their utmost to ease the burden on the severely handicapped industries.

I welcome the Criminal Justice Bill, although I am not 100 per cent au fait with all the powers to be given to the Garda. We have a duty to do something about the increasing violence and vandalism, especially in our cities and as a young person, I am saddened by the increasing number of young drug addicts who daily end up in hospitals, especially in Dublin. The situation has deteriorated drastically within the last three years and I hope that the Criminal Justice Bill will do something positive towards bringing it under control.

In the last 12 months we have all had a large input into the workings of the new committees set up by my colleague, Minister Bruton, to bring about Dáil reform. From my participation in some of these committees——

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has three minutes.

Mr. Farrelly: ——I feel that we will, in a very short time begin to weed out some of the wilful waste of finance which has been going on over the years. It is our duty, as Members of this House representing the people, to give a better service across the board in health, education and the public service for a great deal less money. From the figures given recently this can be done if we have the will to do it. It is just a small step on the way towards doing something about our serious financial problems. It is easy to say that we cannot run the economy or [2699] create employment by cutting back while the present situation remains. The reality is that in 1983 every penny collected in PAYE will go to pay interest on our foreign debts. The Opposition were not prepared to reduce the budget by £150 million last year. They said that it could not be done because it would cause too much hardship. We agreed that there would be hardship which we want to minimise, but we have a duty to our people to do our utmost as elected representatives to this House, to change the present system because that system, as it has been used and abused, has the country in the state it is in today.

Mr. Coughlan: This is the first time that I have had an opportunity to contribute to an Adjournment Debate and I am sure that the Chair will bear with me because I find the prospect slightly daunting.

As a former teacher, I have a deep interest in education and looked at what the Taoiseach has said on education. I was surprised to find his contribution contained in half a paragraph out of a 25-page script. I thought education got poor recognition. All he offered was plans for future long-term development in education and that a new curriculum and examinations board would apply on 1 January next. Every student teacher and parent will now know that the Taoiseach holds education in very low esteem. As with every other area which needs urgent attention and action, his method in the educational area to prepare reports, make out long-term plans and establish new boards which will bring about new levels in bureaucracy. Instead of solving the problems, he exacerbates them, by his inability to make decisions on the important matters which concern the people.

The matters which were forgotten — conveniently, I would add — with regard to education were the cuts in the Department's budget contained in the Estimates. Two of these will cut deeply into the pockets of students and especially of parents. It would be unfair to just pass over these. The first is the proposed 20 [2700] per cent rise in third level education fees, which will discourage young people from pursuing their education to third level and prevent many fulfilling their academic potential. Their may be a few — and I would emphasise the word “few” — parents who can afford to pay the extra fees. I can talk for my country only but I am sure it is not different from any other of the Twenty Six Counties with regard to the take-home pay in most houses which is now at a point that any further burden just cannot be borne. Even at this stage I would hope the Government would see fit to reconsider this harsh decision. I would remind the House that many parents and students are already experiencing financial problems. As a member of the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the EEC, it has been brought to my notice quite often that the Department have been unnecessarily slow in making grants available for the first term of this school year.

Students are about to suffer a second blow in that medical cards will no longer be available to them. I am totally opposed to such a measure which will bring more hardship on those same parents and students. Coupled with the proposed 20 per cent rise in third level education fees I do not see how this Government could have dreamt of such an idea. However, if in their wisdom they consider such measures must be taken I would request that no medical cards be withdrawn until such time as a fair and equitable assessment of means has been carried out. I understand the normal way this operates is that notification is sent to medical card holders notifying them that their case is under review, that their card is being withdrawn until such time as investigations have taken place. That measure will prove to be detrimental. I do not know how the Department will organise such investigation, whether it will entail visits to the Department by students or visits to parents at their homes when a questionnaire will be completed in order to determine whether they can afford to pay. Parents have a sufficiently difficult job educating their children already. They are making an extreme effort and the Government [2701] should be helping rather than hindering them.

There are many citizens who are members of the Voluntary Health Insurance Board. Many will have read of the proposed 25 per cent rise in hospital fees and so on, which inevitably will lead to increases in premium many people will be unable to afford.

I should like to refer briefly to tourism. Perhaps here I am being parochial but I should like to concentrate on the problems obtaining in County Donegal. I know tourism is not based in one county and that its promotion constitutes an important industry for the nation as a whole, meriting some comment. A deputation from County Donegal came to meet the Minister some time around June last requesting that, because of our geographical location, special consideration to be given to Border counties in relation to tourism. They said that there should be some way of attracting tourists to these counties and pointed out that we were competing with Northern Ireland. All I can say is that the Government failed to recognise this fact. They continued to impose harsh measures which would have detrimental effects on the industry this year were it not for the exceptional summer we had which did a lot to entice tourists. But we cannot guarantee that the same will happen next year. We have no control over climatic conditions. The many representatives from Donegal endeavoured to convince the Minister that steps should be taken to treat the industry in a more realistic manner. I hope that in the forthcoming budget, the Government will implement practical measures in order to treat Donegal and the other Border counties as special cases in this respect particularly taking into account our geographical location and dependence on tourism.

I should like to make a few observations on housing, another national problem. We have a great housing need. While there may be insufficient finance available to resolve the problem completely we should be able to do more than is being done at present. Again in my county insufficient moneys are being allocated to housing there. We have at present [2702] 4,400 applicants for local authority scheme houses, some times described as SI or rural cottages. I am convinced many of these applicants would make every effort to build their own homes with the aid of SDA loans if more realistic grants were available. I believe also the figures on such lists would be much higher were it not for the mortgage subsidy scheme introduced by Fianna Fáil in 1980. It is unfortunate also that the Government saw fit to reduce the payments and extend the repayment period of mortgage subsidies. There is no doubt that Donegal County Council will require a substantial increase in their allocation for housing. For example, the allocation for our roads last year did not even cover the basic needs of their maintenance. It is unfortunate that the Minister for the Environment did not see fit to make a supplementary allocation to Donegal County Council which would have ensured — some time early in November — that labourers, lorry drivers and so on employed by the county council, would not be paid off around this time of year.

At the same time the regional and county roads are in a deplorable state. It would have been reasonable, practical and sensible to have made the requested allocation available because the problem is bound to escalate. Therefore, it is economic madness not to make moneys available. The argument is that local authorities will have to raise for themselves more moneys but that creates the problem of increasing the cost of services, of increasing water rates, refuse collection rates and so on. There are bound to be massive increases in that respect because it is the only way in which local authorities can raise the money they need. Despite what the Government say, the rates are back and they are back with a vengeance.

The allocations for roads remain at reduced levels. This is a recipe for potholed roads, and Donegal is one of the counties that has been neglected most in this respect. The Government seem to have forgotten about us and seem to think that regions such as ours do not merit consideration. While Dublin City and the east coast are looked after, there [2703] is the attitude that we on the northern side must look after ourselves.

It was always the belief of Fianna Fáil that the construction industry was a major economic activator especially in difficult economic times. It baffles me as to why the Government continue to deprive this vital industry of its life blood. After reducing by £120 million Fianna Fáil's original estimates for 1983, the Government, incredibly, are taking a further £100 million from the capital budget, from, in effect, the construction industry. This economic madness will result in a further 10,000 construction workers joining the already too-long dole queues.

Ba mhaith liom cúpla focal a rá i nGaeilge mar gheall ar an nGaeltacht. Maidir leis an deontas do bhóithre Gaeltachta i mbliana níor cailleadh ach £100 ar bhóithre Thír Chonaill i gcomparáid le tuairim is £50,000 a chailleadh gach bliain ó 1977 anuas. Caithfidh mé a rá chomh maith go raibh Fianna Fáil i gcumhacht i rith na tréimhse sin beagnach go léir. Tá suil agam go gcuirfear airgead ar fáil sa cháinfhaisnéis don bhliain seo chugainn chun an eagóir seo a réiteach. Tá deacracht eile againn agus baineann sé leis an Ghaeltacht chomh maith agus sin é na heachtraí a tharla le gairid maidir le Údarás na Gaeltachta. Tá siad ag cur isteach go mór ar fhorbairt na Gaeltachta, áit a bhfuil dífhostaíocht go forleathan. Is mór an trua go bhfuil an t-imreas agus an chonspóid ar súil idir an Aire agus an Udarás i láthair na huaire. Tá a fhios ag gach duine anseo go bhfuil deacrachtaí faoi leith ag baint le fostaíocht a chur ar fáil sna ceantracha Gaeltachta. Tá cuid mhaith acu iargúlta agus mar gheall air sin tá sé níos deacra ar dhaoine tionscail a chur ar fáil in áiteanna mar sin.

Tá a fhios ag gach duine anseo chomh maith go bhfuil an-obair déanta ag Údarás na Gaeltachta le blianta chun tionscail a mhealladh agus sílim féin go bhfuil dualgas ar an Rialtas gach tacaíocht is féidir leo a thabhairt do na monarchana chun an obair atá ar fáil sna ceantracha seo i láthair a choinneail agus, chomh maith leis sin, cuidiú tionsclaíocht a mhealladh do na Gaeltachtaí go léir ní [2704] amháin Gaeltacht Thír Chonaill. Tá Gaeltachtaí eile mar Chonamara agus thíos faoi Chiarraí agus tá obair de dhith ar an mhuintir óg sna Gaeltachtaí sin chomh maith leo siúd againn féin. Déafainn go bhfuil sé fíor go bhfuil muinín ag muintir na Gaeltachta as an Údarás. Ní Údarás neamhéifeachtach atáa uathu anois ach Údarás a bheidh cumhacht aige ag obair ar mhaithe le muintir na Gaeltachta. Anois gan fostaíocht sna háiteanna sin ní bheidh daoine óga ag fanacht agus gan an mhuintir óg, leanann sé go bhfaighidh an teanga bás. Tá gach Ríaltas le blianta ag rá go bhfuil siad ag iarraidh teanga na hÉireann a fhorbairt agus a shábháil agus mar sin de, ach ag an am chéanna níl siad ag déanamh morán in a thaobh, agus go mór mhór anois os rud é go bhfuil an trioblóid seo idir Aire na Gaeltachta agus an Údarás, na daoine atá i lár báire, na daoine, atá ag obair sna háiteanna seo, iad sin is measa mar gheall air.

The views of the people of the Gaeltacht can be heard only through representatives from the Gaeltacht areas so the Minister should have nominated representatives from the Gaeltacht. The fishing industry is of vital importance in my constituency, an industry which this year suffered a severe setback when the export subsidy on mackerel was withdrawn. This was done without prior notice and when people had signed contracts on the basis that the £25 per tonne would have been available to them. The result of this is reduced prices to the fishermen, a situation that will put them under severe financial pressure because the financial commitments in respect of the bigger trawlers are very heavy. Apart from the repayments on these vessels there are other expenses also.

I sincerely hope that the talks taking place between BIM, the Department and European officials will prove successful. The Minister should consider the events which occurred last summer in regard to salmon fishing.

Debate adjourned.