Confidence in Government: Motion.

Wednesday, 3 November 1982

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 338 No. 4

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The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I move:

That Dáil Éireann reaffirms its confidence in the Government.

I believe that the moving of a motion of no confidence in the Government by Fine Gael will be seen by our people as blatant political opportunism. Their motivation is certainly not the best interests of our country and it is not our economic welfare nor the need to provide employment or restore order to the public finances. Any of these objectives could be secured by a responsible, constructive approach to the Government's national economic plan, The Way Forward. These vital matters are not the concern of the Fine Gael Party at this critical time for our country and our economy. Fine Gael in my view and in the view of most disinterested observers are activated by naked party political interests and an overwhelming desire for office. They cared not what the financial or economic implications of moving their motion would be. In the naive belief that this is for them the favourable opportunity they seek to precipitate the country into the throes of a general election.

I ask Deputies on all sides if the Fine Gael Party at present are not presenting a very unattractive, opportunistic, arrogant face to even the most ardent of their [645] supporters. See, for instance, how they pounced with unprincipled haste to enrol in their less than enthusiastic ranks that errant truant of Irish politics, the former leader of the Labour Party. They only deigned to inform their old faithful friends, the Labour Party, who have so often to their cost propped up Fine Gael in the past, of their decision to move a vote of confidence a few minutes before they actually did so. They see the Government party weakened by the death of one of its members and the serious illness of another and they rush in undemocratic haste to seek our downfall. Practical politics perhaps. An understandable grab for office maybe. But for many a very unattractive, undignified spectacle.

For our part, we have been devoting our time and energy pursuing the best interests of the nation. Throughout the summer and autumn we examined and analysed our fiscal situation and initiated a programme of action necessary to overcome our present difficulties and get us back into a sound economic and financial position from which progress will again be possible. We have approached our economic and financial situation and the difficulties inherent in it on two fronts. Firstly, we have formulated and published the National Economic Plan and brought it before the Dáil for discussion and debate. We have, well in advance of the end of the year, prepared the Estimates for Government expenditure in 1983 in conformity with that plan. As I have already informed the House, we will be in a position to publish those Estimates for discussion here shortly.

The plan clearly charts the course of our economy for the next five years. The basic strategy is the creation of a modern economy with an expanding and competitive productive sector which is capable of providing sustainable employment for our rapidly growing labour force. It is a courageous programme of corrective and also developmental economic and fiscal measures. Rather than discussing and examining in depth that National Economic Plan, a major Government document designed to set the course for the nation over the next five years, we are [646] discussing this motion this morning because Fine Gael are interested only in trying to cause a general election, our third in 18 months which I know only a very small minority of Deputies really want.

This action by Fine Gael calls into question whether they have any real interest in issues of national policy or whether they are only concerned with who is and who is not in office. What is urgently, even desperately, required at this stage is for Dáil Éireann to adopt the plan we put before it with any modifications Members deem appropriate and then rally the country behind it and its resolute implementation. Instead of following that course, Fine Gael are endeavouring to plunge the country into a general election compaign with all the economic uncertainties and interruptions that entails. This Government in their limited period in office have had successes in the economy despite the worst external economic conditions since the thirties. The rate of inflation in the middle of this month will be 13 per cent, over eight percentage points down on the middle May outturn. Interest rates have fallen steadily this year. The new mortgage rate of 13 per cent is the lowest since 1978 and all the indications are that it will fall further. Our balance of payments position has greatly improved. Industrial exports will rise by about 10 per cent in 1982, a year in which the volume of world trade will at best be static. Agricultural incomes will rise by about 25 per cent or about 7 per cent in real terms.

In our National Economic Plan, The Way Forward, we set out to tell the people the truth about the economic situation, the corrective action needed to be taken and what we need to achieve through positive development measures if we are to support our growing population with a reasonable and improving standard of living. This we saw as responsible Government. That is the overriding national requirement at this time. We put it before the House for constructive debate and said we would welcome any practical suggestions for the improvement of its contents or implementation. What was the response from Fine Gael [647] in particular? The leader of that party has not seen fit to speak on the debate in this House. He contented himself by asking 28 Parliamentary Questions on statistical details of the plan.

Deputy Bruton contributed to the debate, though I rarely witnessed a more destructive approach to important issues of national policy. All he could do was list a number of issues on which he said the Government had not taken any decisions. There was no criticism of the basic analysis of our economic and fiscal situation on which the plan is based, no constructive examination of our strategy and no positive suggestions. Political expediency was all that emerged from Fine Gael during the course of what should have been a major important economic debate. This is not because the Government failed to put forward an honest appraisal of our economic situation, a series of far-reaching measures for corrective action and numerous proposals for the development of the economy in the years ahead. I do not say they could not have been improved upon. However, the plan is a specific detailed set of proposals put forward honestly to meet the present need for a programme of national recovery.

Our plan was prepared on the basis of the skill and advice of all relevant Government Departments, the Central Bank, independent national economic experts and the services of the European Commission. It was a document of which Commissioner Ortoli, Vice President of the Commission, could say: “Its objectives and strategies are on the lines recommended by the Commission”. It was a document of which Dr. Kennedy, Director of the ERSI said: “I can confirm that in every material respect the Government's plan faithfully reflects the advice unanimously given by the steering group”, a group of which Dr. Kennedy was a member. The plan has received the stamp of approval and endorsement of all our key financial institutions. Farming and business organisations welcomed the strategy and objectives. It is false and misleading for the leader of Fine Gael to suggest that this plan has not the [648] approval of expert financial opinion because it has to a most encouraging degree.

In the debate on the plan I said that just as the Government accept the fundamental correctness and unassailable logic of the advice they received, I was satisfied that the people would accept the message put to them fairly and honestly that the plan, incorporating any constructive suggestions for improvement, represented the only way forward out of our difficulties. Fine Gael by their negative, destructive attitude brought confusion where the imperative need was for clarity and consensus. In the face of unprecedented difficulty and harassment this Government pursued a consistent coherent policy since they were elected last March. We have shown our resolution and firmness in contrast to Fine Gael's turnarounds on vital issues. Having brought in our budget we resisted pressure from Fine Gael to add hundreds of millions of pounds to the budget deficit this year. When it became clear that serious devergencies in our public finances were emerging in the budgetary projections, we took firm action in July to restore the situation. At the same time we set about solving the looming problem facing us in 1983. The level of that problem was intimidating. The last Coalition Government left us a legacy of between £250 million and £300 million in special public service pay increases arising on 1 January next. We undertook successfully the difficult task of procuring a public sector pay agreement which will be within the available resources of the Exchequer.

We have always sought to demonstrate that this Irish Government is the independent Government of a sovereign State. We have re-asserted our traditional policy of neutrality. Instead of supporting us on that issue the Fine Gael Party did their best to misrepresent the motives of the Irish Government and to undermine us at home and abroad. They made it clear they would have conceded to British demands no matter what the cost of that concession might be to our independent status in the international councils of the world and the United [649] Nations or to our traditional policy of neutrality.

On the question of the Prior initiative in the North, the leader of Fine Gael gave no support either to the Government or to the SDLP in the stand they took on that scheme, which has now clearly disintegrated. From reports in British newspapers, which have not been denied, the leader of Fine Gael seems to have encouraged the British Government to proceed with their disastrous initiative without consultation with us, even though anyone with commonsense — never mind political acumen — could have foreseen the disastrous output of that initiative. The Fine Gael leader has made it clear that he will continue to pursue his campaign to dismantle the Irish Constitution and that he will accept fully the legitimacy of Northern Ireland at the very time when it is more obvious than ever that it has failed as a political entity.

I recommend this motion to the House. I ask the House to re-affirm its confidence in this Government on the basis that we are facing up to and tackling our economic, social and political differences and that we will stick to our guns no matter what the difficulties may be. I ask the House to support this motion on the basis that Deputies know where we stand on every important issue in contrast to the ambivalent ambiguity of Fine Gael. We seek support of Deputies on the basis of our national economic plan, The Way Forward, which charts the way to economic recovery. We seek support on the basis of our determination to restore order and balance to the public finances. We seek support on the basis of our determination to uphold the right of this nation to pursue its own independent policy in international affairs to defend our tradition and policy of neutrality. We seek support on the basis of our proposed amendment to the Constitution.

On many of these fundamental issues I suggest we cannot trust Fine Gael or their leader. This attempt by Fine Gael to bring down this Government in the critical economic and political circumstances of the day is untimely and irresponsible and I believe it will be seen as [650] such by the Irish people when the time comes for them to give their decision.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald The Taoiseach's concluding words ring somewhat hollow. I do not think anybody looking at the situation that has developed over the last seven months would regard it as untimely for an Opposition to put down a vote of no confidence in a Government which have behind them the record of internal disunity and division, indecision in regard to crucial policies and the record of putting forward an economic plan which from the first moment it appeared was discredited by independent comment from every angle.

The country is now in a situation where it has a Government in respect of which over 100 out of 165 Members of this Dáil have publicly indicated that they lack confidence in their leadership. There is no precedent for that. No situation has ever arisen in the history of this State where over 60 per cent of the Members of the House indicated they lack confidence in the Government and their leadership and for that Government to continue in office. It cannot be to the advantage of the country that that situation should persist. The country has to give a verdict. That verdict, I hope and believe, will be a clear one and will change the Government; but that is for the people to decide. The people must be given the opportunity of making that decision because it is impossible for the affairs of State to be carried on by a Government which clearly lack the confidence of a very large majority of this House and which have been unwilling to govern in terms of their own convictions, and because of the extent to which they feel hamstrung by not having a majority and their unwillingness to face up to issues regardless of not having a majority.

There is a marked contrast between the two Governments. We took our decisions. We came before the House with our budget. We sought no deals beforehand. We were faulted for that as being politically naive. I am willing at any time to accept that verdict rather than the verdict of being a Government unable and unwilling to govern in terms of their [651] own principles and convictions but instead tied to carrying out the policies of not even parties but of individuals sitting on the Independent benches.

We continue with that situation. The people will have to give their verdict and they will do so in three weeks' time. I believe it will be a conclusive verdict. One of the reasons why this is a timely moment for a vote of confidence is that there is reasonable evidence that it will be a conclusive verdict. It would certainly be damaging to the country if an election were held which reproduced for the third time the situation which persisted in the last two Dáils. An election held in the immediate aftermath of the last one, when for a period public opinion hovered around the same centre of gravity as the last election leading to another inconclusive result, would certainly be unfortunate.

One can never be certain what the results of an election would be but there is enough evidence now to suggest that the people, having considered and reflected for seven months, have made up their minds. There is enough evidence to suggest that the time has come to give them the opportunity to deliver their verdict and to decide whether they want a Government with a clear majority, with united ranks behind them, with confidence in the leadership of the party, and the Government being formed to govern this country and to tackle the problems which are not being and which cannot be tackled because the present Government lack the capacity and will to do so. They have not even been given the opportunity to do so because internal distractions within their ranks have taken precedence over almost everything else. At this stage the country must be given the chance to give their decision. We decided to give it that chance and I believe the verdict of the Dáil will be that we must give the country that opportunity.

When one looks at the history of this Government over the last seven months one sees we have had a period of unique political instability within the Government party and of exceptional economic policy chaos in the country in terms of [652] the policies being pursued. The political instability scarcely needs to be recorded. It began uniquely with the attempt to unseat the leader of the party between the election and the meeting of the Dáil. That attempt was blocked by tactics which have been widely reported by a number of the Deputies concerned, tactics which demean any democratic parliament.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey That accusation demeans Deputy FitzGerald.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald I will make no accusations in the course of this speech. I can only refer to statements made by members of the Taoiseach's own party. It is by their statements that the country will judge, not by accusations by me from outside——

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey The Deputy is indulging in personal vilification.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald There will be no personal vilification. I am proceeding in my speech to record events that happened as they have been seen by the public and reported to the public by Members of the Taoiseach's own party. It is on their verdict of the Taoiseach that the people will decide.

That was followed by the so-called McCreevy report, by attempts to force Ministers to express a personal loyalty which they had never conceded and by the denial of a secret ballot in a successful attempt to frighten the timorous into voting against their judgment of what was good for the country and the party. There could be no justification for that other than the belief that if a secret ballot were allowed the verdict would have been different, because a significant proportion of the party, at least one-quarter, were not prepared to say before the party what they felt and could be intimidated into action if there were not a secret ballot.

My views on the importance of the secret ballot for the leadership of a party are well known. I introduced into the constitution of my party a requirement that after any election where we were not [653] involved in the process of forming a Government and were in Opposition there should automatically be a secret ballot vote within one month, sought or proposed by no one. No member of the party would have to plot or plan because automatically there would be the opportunity to change the leader without lifting a finger. In that way alone can the democratic system be preserved in a situation where Deputies, at least in the party opposite, can be and are believed to be capable of being intimidated if they have to vote openly.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr. Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr. That is the smear. There is no basis for that.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald That comes from the members of the Fianna Fáil Party themselves. It is the claim of the members of the Taoiseach's own party that 15 to 20 others would have voted against him if there had been a secret ballot. It is not my claim; it is their claim. It is the Fianna Fáil Party who make these statements and the people will judge by what they say.

No Government so riven by internal dissensions, marked by such bitterness in the party ranks against the leadership of the party and held together by this kind of tactics, should be allowed to remain in office. This problem could have been solved by the Fianna Fáil Party themselves. They have rejected or failed to take the opportunity to salvage themselves.

Those in that party who know, believe and have voted in many cases that the Government do not deserve the confidence of the House and have voted no confidence in their leader have been unable or unwilling to save their party and their country from the destructive damage being inflicted on both. One can understand the reasons why they have done so, but objectively they have failed their country. They must now share the fate of those whom they allowed to take over that party and whom they failed to oust after the take-over had been effected. In the election to come the people's verdict will have to be negative on them also because they have shown [654] that if they are returned, providing an artificial majority for those who have hijacked Fianna Fáil, they cannot be relied upon to take the necessary courageous action to resolve what they themselves see as a hideous problem. If they vote for the Government in this division they will put the people on notice that they should not vote for them. They cannot seriously say to the people: “Vote for me because I oppose the present leadership of the party and those associated with that leadership and I guarantee if re-elected that I will vote that leadership back into office as I have just voted to retain them in office”. That is the kind of platform on which they will have to stand and which the people will reject where such candidates go before them.

Even if there were no economic crisis, even if the Government had a record of tackling this crisis — which they have not — it would not be in the national interest to return this party to power at the present time. They must be sent into opposition to sort out their problems and rid themselves of what they themselves see and have described as a caucus dangerous to the State as well as the party. Many of their Members make no secret of their conviction to this effect.

The party opposite is, by the admission of its own Members, divided into three groups. There are the 22 who say the leadership of the party and a number of the members of the Government are people in whom they do not have confidence. If they vote for that leadership and for that Government tomorrow the electorate will be on notice that a vote for any of these 22 is a vote for keeping in power the people who the 22 say should not be trusted. We are told by members of the 22 that the second group consists of 15 to 20 who, they say, share their view that the present leadership and certain other members of the Government do not deserve the confidence of this House but are so timorous and afraid that even within their own party they will not vote according to that conviction. It is hard to see why the electorate should be expected to vote for them. The least the electorate can expect from a public representative is to stand up and be [655] counted within his own party, within the Dáil and before the public. The third group consists of those who actually support or are prepared to tolerate the present Government. There will, I think, be little public enthusiasm in voting for them.

The situation is pitiable and, indeed, tragic. Despite what the cynics proclaim — and there are far too many cynics about politics to whom too much fodder has been given in recent times — politics is a profession of public service. The vast majority of people in politics in all parties are and have been since the foundation of this State good and honourable people seeking to serve their country. In almost all cases they do so at considerable cost to themselves and at great cost to their family lives.

No one concerned for public life, for the public good, can be other than unhappy that a party, even if not their own, should find themselves in the plight in which Fianna Fáil find themselves. I say that with sincerity. I believe it is vital for our institutions that all parties should in their own way command confidence and trust so that there can be a free alternation of Government, so that the people faced with alternative policies and alternative teams can choose between them without having to consider whether one or other can in some broad sense be trusted. It is vital that all parties, all leaderships, can be trusted to live up to certain standards and that this should not be seen to be the case in respect of any party is damaging to politics, damaging to all parties and to the country. It is an immense irony, lost on no one, that the Fianna Fáil Party find themselves in this situation at a moment that coincides with the centenary of their leader, Éamon De Valera.

I have limited myself in what I have said to the public record and to what people in Fianna Fáil have said about their own party. I do not intend to refer to any other matters outside that. The public will make their own decisions. There is only one other matter to which I wish to refer before turning to the economic aspect. I refer to the dependence [656] of the Government on the support of Independents or other parties.

When the time for the change of Government came about, I, like the present Taoiseach, met Independents and other groups to hear their views. One of them, Deputy Blaney, came to me and indicated his conditions of support. One was an economic condition to do with the building industry and investing more heavily on it. It was a perfectly reasonable point of view, although one which in present circumstances would pose problems for any Government. The other was a requirement that I would call for a withdrawal of Britain from Northern Ireland, something which it is well known that neither I nor until recently the leader of any other party have been willing to contemplate as something to be proposed in advance of a political solution, given the dangers to the lives of 1½ million people that would arise from such a precipitate action by a British Government abandoning their responsibilities before they have adequately carried them out. I rejected that. Since then we have had a Government dependent among other things on Deputy Blaney's vote. Much has been made of the dependence of the Government on Deputy Gregory's vote. Frankly, I am more concerned about their dependence on Deputy Blaney's vote. I find it hard to dissociate the reversal of policy in regard to Northern Ireland and Anglo-Irish relations between the two Governments led by the present Taoiseach from the approach made to me and, so I understand from Deputy Blaney, to the present Taoiseach in regard to such a change of policy. I do not believe it is tolerable that government should be carried on——

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Deputy FitzGerald has no grounds for making that statement.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald ——as a puppet with strings wielded by a man whose views are repudiated by the vast majority of the people in regard to the issue of Northern Ireland.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey There are no grounds for that statement.

[657]Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald We have heard on RTE a member of the Independent Fianna Fáil group saying publicly in reply to questions that the Taoiseach's speech in the United States in which there was a muted reference to British withdrawal had been seen by the Independent Fianna Fáil organisation before it was made and effectively cleared with them.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey The Deputy is very clever at innuendo.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr. Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr. The classical smear man.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald I am simply repeating the statement made by a Senator appointed by the Taoiseach which was not denied by the Taoiseach. The Taoiseach has to live with that and face it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I am denying that I gave any undertaking to Deputy Blaney, which the Deputy stated as a fact in this House. The Deputy gets away with too many false statements in this House.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald The record is there. I want to turn now to the economic side. I shall ignore the Taoiseach's remarks suggesting that I encouraged the British Government——

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I accuse the Deputy of making a misstatement.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald It is not worth referring to these kinds of statements. My record on Northern Ireland and on foreign policy is well known and does not need to be defended here at this point. I turn now to the economic side. It has to be said that the Fianna Fáil record the people have to consider goes back to 1977. It would not be correct or fair to look only to the period of office of the Taoiseach. There have been attempts by some people to say one should look further back than that. We are willing to do so. If an election is to be fought on the record of Governments over the past nine years, the contrast is clear between the National Coalition policy to secure a [658] reduction in the balance of payments deficit, in the Government current deficit, in inflation, in unemployment, and combining those four with economic growth.

The combination of those four with economic growth, the five elements together, is a most difficult task. Indeed, many would say it is impossible to achieve these objectives together. The facts are that they were achieved in 1975 and 1977 by a Government who had a clear policy and pursued it in a united way, and secured those outcomes, a reduction in the balance of payments deficit to a very low level, a significant reduction in the Government's current deficit, a reduction of inflation by something like two-thirds over a three year period, some reduction in unemployment—the beginning of such a reduction with less progress there than in the others, but moving downwards and starting to accelerate at the end of our period—and the achievement of an economic growth rate of 5½ per cent at the end of the period. Those were secured by that Government between 1975 and 1977.

If one compares that with what has happened since 1977, what we have seen since then has been a Fianna Fáil policy which set out to reflate an economy already growing at the rate of well over 5 per cent which, as a result, pushed up inflation again to four times the level of early 1978, and which quintupled foreign borrowings from £1 billion to £5 billion in three years, which doubled unemployment, which raised the balance of payments deficit to an astronomical level never previously reached, and pushed the current budget to a record level, raising serious doubts as to whether the finances of the State could continue to be maintained on that basis.

These were the results of policies initiated not by the Taoiseach but by Deputy Colley and Deputy O'Donoghue in a Government in which Deputy O'Malley also played a leading role. They are policies whose dangers were recognised by the Taoiseach in 1980, but they were not tackled by him for fear of the electoral consequences of taking firm action. They are policies which were reversed by the National Coalition [659] regardless of the effect on their popularity, policies which were, however, restarted by the Taoiseach in the course of the election campaign and pursued by him until after the Dáil adjourned in July last. The reasons for that became clear last night to anybody watching television. It was a clear requirement of The Workers Party that, if they were to support Fianna Fáil, Fianna Fáil must pursue those policies and must not tackle the economic problems facing the country. The price Fianna Fáil have paid for having to face reality since July last has been the loss of that support.

During four months they did immense damage at the behest of The Workers Party. Let me list what is involved in that damage. During the four months from March to July the truth about the deteriorating situation was withheld. Early in July the Minister for Finance said that, despite the fact that the budget deficit target for the year had been exceeded in the first six months, that would be put right in the second half of the year and that the budget deficit target for the year would be adhered to.

Six weeks later the Taoiseach said there had been a slippage of £200 million in six weeks. A further six to seven weeks later the Taoiseach said there had been a further slippage of over £100 million. We still do not know what the slippage is. No one in the country now feels he can believe any Government statement on this matter. That is a very serious situation. It must never be allowed to recur. One of the things we will do in Government will be to establish an independent check on us and any future Government. I will come back to that later on.

I will come back now to what happened in those four months. The ground lost in that period can be calculated. The Taoiseach tells us the deficit will be of the order of £900 million after £100 million of cuts in expenditure. The slippage, therefore, has been from a deficit of £679 million to, on the Taoiseach's own terms — one does not look behind them; one accepts what he says—£1,000 million, [660] that is, a slippage of £320 million in four months.

Let us remember that follows a deliberate slippage in the budget of £170 million when that amount of taxation was foregone and that amount of expenditure cuts was restored, this being covered by bringing forward an equivalent sum from 1983 regardless of the appalling damage this action in regard to VAT would do to industry and to employment. The total slippage, therefore, since March last has been not less than £500 million, £170 million in the budget itself in terms of tax foregone and expenditure cuts restored, and £320 million since then, that is, £500 million slippage in seven months. That represents much the greater part of all the halving of the current deficit which we had achieved.

Our budget introduced in January of this year involved a current deficit of £719 million, that is, a cut of £660 million on what it would have been had we not acted. Of that £660 million, £500 million has now gone by the board after seven months of Fianna Fáil in office. The Taoiseach has claimed that £200 million of this is due to a shortfall in revenue due to the deepening of the recession. I accept the figure. I have no reason to question it at this stage although I may be unwise to do so. If he is right, that means that, apart from that shortfall in revenue, over that seven month period £300 million of expenditure slippage has occurred also.

As a result cuts have to be made in panic which are deeply damaging to the economy and to social equity. They need not have happened. Had our budget been maintained, and had we been able to carry through our policies, we would now be starting from a position which would be at least £300 million better, even if one allows that £200 million of the slippage is due to a shortfall of revenue which might have occurred under our Government as well as under Fianna Fáil. Let us not try to exaggerate. Let us take the facts as given to us by the Taoiseach. On the basis of what he says himself, we are now starting £300 million worse off than last January, and that has to be made up.

Already we have been told the first £100 million of that has to come in ways [661] some of which to me and to this party are unacceptable. When you come to shorten the list of drugs for which public finance is available — and there may be reasons for doing that; I think there are; some of those drugs are not drugs and perhaps some of them should not be available in that way — leaving aside whether the whole 900 should or should not be removed, I cannot accept that should be done in respect of medical card holders and no one else.

I cannot accept that it is equitable that somebody in my own position, or the position of other Members of this House, should be able to recover the full cost of any of these 900 drugs, as I am recovering at present in respect of my family situation, while somebody with a medical card cannot get this money back. By what possible standards of equity could any Government stand over that? If there have to be cuts one could reasonably say let us start with the better off and spare those on medical cards. To start with those on medical cards and spare the better off is a policy which no one on this side of the House, in any group on this side of the House whoever they may be, can possibly stand over.

That is why if it had gone ahead we would have been voting in favour of the Labour Party motion which is a carefully worded motion and does not suggest there should be no cuts in the health services. Of course there have to be cuts in spending on the health services as elsewhere after what has happened in the past seven months, after this £300 million slippage in expenditure and in face of a shortfall in revenue. Of course there have to be cuts. Whatever Government are in office will have to make cuts. If they are a Government of the Fine Gael Party, and a Government I lead, whoever supports them whether the Government have an overall majority as I hope they will, or are supported by others, they will not pick out the weakest elements in the community to be hit in that way.

We will continue to pursue the policies we pursued in Government of helping the less well off, policies involving tax credits to ensure that taxation measures are spread evenly and fairly instead of [662] giving greater benefits to the better off, policies such as the policy we introduced for a family income allowance to supplement the incomes of the less well off, and such as the policy we have now put forward of reducing PRSI on people with incomes of under £6,000 a year and recovering that from people at higher levels of income. Consistently we have pursued policies designed to be redistributive in favour of the less well off at the cost of those who can better afford to bear the burden.

Consistently the Government have taken the opposite view. They abolished tax credits. They abolished the family income allowance. They put in a PRSI proposal in a panic when they were faced with public opposition, a PRSI proposal which gives far more to those who are better off than to those who are less well off and when it comes to making cuts they hit the medical card holders and spare everyone else. That is the record of this Government and that is why everybody on the benches at this side of the House of whatever party or group has no confidence in this Government who are incapable of thinking in terms of equity when they have to take tough decisions.

Deputies: Hear, hear.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald I made four offers of consultation before the plan was introduced because I feared that the Government would succumb to the temptation, to which any Government are prone and to which this Government might be more prone than most, to make unrealistic assumptions with a view to putting forward a plan that would purport to solve the nation's problems, painfully perhaps, over a short time as a basis for going to the country hoping to secure a popular mandate. Recognising that, I made four offers of consultation and if that had taken place we would have sought to establish an agreed basis of assumptions for the plan. If that had happened we could in this House have had a debate in which all parties could have come together behind a plan, which, God knows, is needed, to get us through the next five years and into calmer waters.

[663] That offer was rejected and the reasons for that became clear when the plan was published. One of the most crucial assumptions in the plan was that the labour unit cost increase in the countries with which we trade would rise in the next five years by 7.5 per cent a year and, therefore, if we could reduce our labour unit cost increase to 3.5 per cent we would have a 4 per cent annual improvement which would transform our society, yield vast profits for investment and put us in a position over that time to increase our share of world trade substantially and increase exports very rapidly. That 7.5 per cent figure is one in respect of which Dr. Ciaran Kennedy — whom the Taoiseach has just quoted — has stated came from the last medium term review of the EEC. I had a reply to a parliamentary question yesterday which was at variance with that, but I am prepared to take what Dr. Kennedy said. He is the person on whom the Taoiseach has pinned his credibility. Dr. Kennedy said that that figure was based on the last medium-term plan of the EEC. That plan was published 18 months ago. It related to a period 1980-85 three-fifths of which has now elapsed. It is not at all relevant to the next five years and to pretend that it was so in putting forward the plan was an attempt to mislead people. The reality is shown by the latest figures we have from the OECD in respect of unit cost competitiveness for our leading trading partners which indicate that next year the increase in their unit labour cost is expected to range from 0 per cent up to a maximum of 4 per cent in the US, an average of 3 per cent as against the 7.5 per cent figure which was what the EEC 18 months ago thought would happen in a period three years of which has elapsed. The plan is based on out-of-date data relating to a different period and yet this is the linchpin of the plan on which everything depends. The whole basis of the plan is that if we can achieve this marvellous improvement in competitiveness all our problems are solved. However, when the plan comes to discuss policies to take advantage of that it becomes very weak indeed. The basis of the plan is unsustainable. [664] Had consultations taken place as I proposed and had that been put forward I would immediately have challenged it and said no, we must look to see what are the current projections for increases in unit labour cost in other countries for the five years of the plan. We would have looked to OECD and their figures; we would have seen what projections were there and our targets would have had to be set on that basis.

One result of the Government's decision to use this out-of-date and irrelevant data is that their targets for inflation in the plan are unrealistically high. They have not in this respect been sufficiently — this is the right word — ambitious. If the rate of inflation in the period of the plan were to be as high as the Government propose and if we were to fail to get it down to a lower level, then the present trend in the price situation for agricultural products in the EEC that Irish farmers would have to face on the Government's own plans for inflation would mean a further reduction in real income in the next couple of years at least and possibly for the next five years. This is unacceptable to the farming community and to the country. We cannot continue to accept and tolerate the rate of inflation proposed in this plan, a rate of inflation which is throughout the whole period higher than the rate of inflation achieved after three years of effort by the National Coalition Government in the period immediately after we left office in 1977 when inflation came down to 6.5 per cent. It must be said that part of that, 1.5 per cent, was due to certain Fianna Fáil policies that were beneficial temporarily to the cost of living, such as the removal of rates and road tax. On the basis of our policies the cost of living figure would have been 8 per cent. I must not claim credit for Fianna Fáil's 1.5 per cent and we know what damage was done by so eroding the tax base. That 8 per cent to which we brought down inflation in three years from 24 per cent is something which this Government are not even prepared to think about over five years ahead. They are prepared to face the farming community and all our people with a rate of inflation which will not be tolerable, [665] which will reduce real farm incomes and which would not be compatible with any possible improvement in our competitiveness. At that rate of inflation we would, vis-a-vis the countries we are trading with, become more and more uncompetitive year by year. Such a plan cannot provide a basis for recovery.

A further difficulty about the plan is that it has no policies. If you read through it carefully in an effort to find out what policies exist in it you will find that the plan envisages an average annual gain of wage cost competitiveness of 4 per cent against our trading partners — I have pointed out how that is totally illusory — which can be obtained by moderate wage increases combined with increases in productivity. In so far as pay increases claimed on grounds such as productivity or relativity were to be conceded, then it is assumed that other pay increases such as those conceded by way of general pay increases would be correspondingly reduced. The sum total of policies to reduce inflation in this plan are contained in the words “envisaged” and “assumed”. There is not even a commitment to secure this outcome, never mind any statement as to how it is to be achieved. Simply the Government envisage this happening and assume the problem will be solved, and that is supposed to be a plan.

They come then to the question of industrial policy and the aims of industrial policy are set out. We can all agree with those aims. They seem to be unexceptionable and I would not quarrel with them. I might word them differently, but there is nothing wrong with them. However, having set out the aims, the section that follows contains no clear statement of policy other than the repetition of some conventional wisdom which is now rendered out of date by the Telesis report. The extraordinary thing about this plan is that 18 months after the Telesis report was furnished to the Government it is not referred to by name and none of its recommendations appears to have been read or taken into account by the authors of the plan. The industrial policies put forward are pre-Telesis and take no account of the analysis of industrial [666] needs in that document. As a result they offer a totally inadequate basis for achieving any real progress in the industrial area.

All these deficiencies of the plan must be taken into account when we come to deal with this matter in Government. Forthwith I want to add one point. I put down a number of statistical questions, indeed, but they included questions about assumptions made with regard to future trends in world interest rates, in respect of import prices, interest rates, production costs, domestic profits, the amount of Exchequer borrowing to be financed from domestic sources and from abroad, the projected shares of wages and salaries, agricultural income and profits in national income, export projections by the different sectors and the projected figures for GNP and GDP in 1987. These are factual questions. These figures must exist, because one could not have a plan without them. One cannot have a percentage of GNP for this, that or the other in 1987 if one has not a figure for GNP. One cannot have an export figure of 12 per cent if one has not seen what the increases will be in manufactured and agricultural products unless one takes it out of mid-air. Yet, when I ask these questions the reply I get is the following:

I do not consider that any useful purpose would be served by providing the information sought in these questions. Medium-term projections, of their nature, must be flexible enough to allow modifications from time to time in the light of extraneous developments in the economy, interest rates, the public finances, etc. Detailed elaboration of the planned figures would not be compatible with this requirement.

We are told with great precision what percentage of GNP in 1987 will be taken by taxation or expenditure, but there is no figure of GNP to be percentage of. If there is a figure, we are not to be told because detailed elaboration on figures would not be compatible with this requirement of allowing modifications due to extraneous developments. Either [667] there is or there is not a GNP figure for 1987. If there is, we have to be told it because percentages are based on it and if there is not, there should not be such percentages in the plan. A Government which is unwilling to provide any of the basic factual data behind their plan cannot expect serious discussion. It is no wonder that the discussion has been truncated in this House in those circumstances.

When we come to review the position in Government, we will have to take account of the following in revising—and revising is an understatement of what is necessary—the document before us. Firstly, we will have to make a realistic assessment of the problems of competitiveness. We will have to assess the likely trend of costs in other countries over the next five years and by how much we would need to improve on that and what level of income increases here and productivity increases would be required for that purpose and set out clear targets relating to reality and not the imaginary situation in the Government's document.

Secondly, we will have to set a more ambitious inflation target, because the inflation target set is one which would further bankrupt Irish agriculture and would be incompatible with the achieving of competitiveness.

Thirdly, we will have to review just how deep the recession is. The Taoiseach and the Ministers have said, regarding Government revenue, that the situation has deteriorated. That is clear. The recession is deeper than was expected and it will be necessary for us to examine that and see what policies are appropriate in the situation, when the recession has become so much worse than any of us anticipated. We will then have to consider, in the light of that, the appropriate pace of phasing out the deficit within four years, including making a realistic assessment of the deflationary effects of reducing the current deficit. This is not worked out at all in the plan. The plan appears to assume that one can reduce the current deficit in this way, without having any deflationary effect.

[668]Acting Chairman (Mr. Sherlock): Information on Joe Sherlock Zoom on Joe Sherlock The Deputy has five minutes.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald Thank you very much, indeed. Finally, we will have to make a radical review of industrial policy based on the Telesis Report, which provides a very good basis for such a review and is not taken into account in the plan. All of this would have to be accompanied by a very rapid reform of Dáil procedures, the establishment of a public expenditure commissioner to prevent the events of recent days ever being repeated, giving independent verification on all Government targets and performance.

The people need to be given confidence that the problems that we face will be tackled honestly and courageously, that they will be brought into the Government's confidence and told the full truth — and can be certain that they are being told the full truth because there will be a cross-check, whoever is in Government. It is, perhaps, too much to expect our people, after the last seven months, to trust any Government in the immediate future until confidence is restored. The problems then must be debated and the choices put openly to the public. We have the capacity to solve our problems and the people will support us in doing so, if we put the solutions to them openly. There must be more open Government.

We are told that consultations have taken place on this plan, that various interests have been consulted and have favoured the plan, although they have not been very explicit in coming out in favour of it. All this has happened outside the Dáil, behind closed doors, which is unsatisfactory. In future we must bring the Parliament and the people into our confidence in the way we proceed and not give precedence to vested interests over Parliament and the people. Parliament must decide.

There is hope for our people. I believe that, with the restoration of trust in politics and politicians, we can secure the kind of support which will be necessary to overcome our problems. We can — and it is vital that we do so — halt the alienation of youth, by giving them a real role in policy formulation. I attach great [669] importance to this. It became clear in the mid-sixties that we would face the present population explosion, with a vast number of young people. This was foreseeable from the end of 1963 — I remember writing about it at that time. Ever since then, I have been convinced that it is vital if we are to come through to the end of this century with a democratic system working satisfactorily and standing up to the threats facing it, that we find means of bringing the younger generation into the political decision-making process in a way which is meaningful to them. Otherwise, the scale of the problems we face and the burdens which these will place on them, because they would bear the brunt of them, could undermine our whole structure.

I have been convinced of that since before I came into politics and one of my reasons for coming into politics was that I foresaw this and believed that I could do something to help resolve it as we approached this problem in the late seventies and into the eighties and nineties, foreseeing that we would face it in demographic terms. I sought to do that by saying in opposition that we would make use of the socal partners — a full social partner, because they are not represented by employers, or by trade unions that they have not joined, or by farming organisations. They are excluded from the consensus and from any say. It is not easy to bring them in, because they are not a well-structured sector for that purpose. However, I said that I would do so and I did. In Government, we had quarterly meetings with representatives of youth and tried to orientate them towards discussing these problems and getting their views across, so that the full weight of their interest would be brought to play against the other established vested interests of the country. That is something which was kicked in the face by the Minister of State for Youth a couple of weeks ago in a manner which certainly will not happen when I am in government. We can bringour youth back into the political process. Already in our own party we have done this to a significant degree because, uniquely among democratic parties in the developed countries, two [670] out of every five members of this party in the Dáil and Seanad are in their twenties and thirties. We represent, in a way which no other party does, the younger generation. However, we have to ensure that it is not simply representation in the Dáil. They must be brought into the whole process of consultation with regard to policy, so that they can have their full weight. Otherwise, we face terrible risks which I am not prepared to face and if it means disturbing existing interests——

Acting Chairman: I must remind the Deputy that his time is up.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald Thank you. If it means disturbing existing interests to achieve this result, I am prepared to do this.

Finally, we have the task of restoring Ireland's reputation in the world. That reputation is not now at a high level. I am not talking of our reputation in Britain, because much of what comes from there is based on animus against this country which is deep-seated and atavistic. While at certain times it is not expressed, scratch the surface and it comes out. We are not going to change those deep-seated feelings quickly.

In the world in general, whether our reputation stood high some years ago when we joined the European Community and began to play our role in world affairs, it does not now stand high. I need not go into the reasons for that. It will be my determination to take every possible action to restore our reputation in the world and to ensure that, as we move to the middle and end of this decade, our country will be seen in the councils of the world states to be a positive contributor and a country which, in its own performance domestically, will merit the respect of other countries throughout the world.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond Zoom on Barry Desmond At the outset, I am sure all Members will have heard with regret from the Taoiseach that apparently Deputy Gibbons will not be here for the critical vote of confidence. I am sure all Members will join with me in wishing Deputy Gibbons well.

Our country enjoyed stable Government for many decades. We all accept it [671] is essential that that stability should be restored as quickly as possible following the now apparently inevitable general election. On occasions, we have had stable successful Government by the largest party in the Dáil. Such Government can provide stability, but whatever the outcome of this election it is essential that current paralysis of Government and of the management of the economy should be eliminated wholly and that a reasonable period of stable parliamentary democracy will ensue and be seen to exist for the lifetime of a Dáil.

As one who has gone to the electorate, like other Deputies, in three elections in one and a half years, I am only too well aware of the strain and the cost and the upheavals such elections cause not only in the parties but within one's family and one's constituency. It is imperative that the current paralysis should be eliminated. In doing that we must not lose sight of the fact that here we have a great country in which to live and work. We have built up a young, skilled population. What is missing is a simple ingredient in a great country: that is, we need reliable and competent politicians capable of managing the economy, of representing the country in international relations and of maintaining the security of our institutions of State.

I have considerable doubt that at present that situation exists. We have the potential to develop many sectors of the economy which are only partly developed. We have a relative advantage in our agriculture and food industries which are still considerably untapped. We have a State sector which, if properly organised, could generate far greater wealth. What is missing, then, is political and economic management.

It is with regret that I must come to the conclusion — I fear that this election campaign might develop into a degree of considerable personal acrimony between the leaders of parties, which would be to the detriment of the national good — that there can be little hope for the country's future so long as it is governed by the present Taoiseach. That is a purely objective, impersonal conclusion which I have [672] come to, having been in the Dáil for a number of years. Therefore, it is essential that we have a general election in which the people will be asked to judge.

I am basically optimistic about our overall economic prospects. It may be hard to say so at the moment, but I have a fundamental belief in the strength of our economy. There is great strength still in our industry, in our agriculture and in the work force of the country. Of course my optimism does not blind my eyes to reality. I do not think anybody would be more pleased than I with a sudden improvement in our economic fortunes and prospects.

However, a Government should not behave or govern as if improvements were being banked on. My optimism flows from the prospect of the people being told the full truth, being given leadership; if they are given both truth and leadership they are capable of responding in a way that will overcome our present difficulties.

It is important that this should be the first election since 1977 when no political party will campaign with offers of soft options and promises, particularly in the field of taxation. That temptation is wide open. There is no doubt that the most decisive factors in the elections of 1977, 1981 and 1982 were the anticipated cash handouts in political promises, particularly of Fianna Fáil but to a lesser degree Fine Gael in the 1981 election. I repeat emphaticaly that the only party in those elections who did not make any promises were Labour. I do not propose to go back on the occurrences of 1981 and 1982 or to cost the promises made then — it is all well documented, all fairly recent — but I strongly urge all parties not to attempt to repeat the irresponsibility in an election campaign of saying to the people: “We will bring in a new system of tax credits; you need not worry, you will be paying less tax. We will bring in a new system of relief of PRSI and overall you will be paying less. We will mend VAT in this and that direction. Overall you will have nothing to worry about, you will be paying less in direct tax.”

That kind of political dishonesty if repeated in this election campaign will [673] rebound on the parties who indulge in that kind of supermarket offer. As we know, the customers ultimately pay for such supermarket offers. No matter what the temptation, that sort of dishonesty must be resisted strenously.

I have no wish to personalise my contribution to this motion, but a central issue has continued to reside during the last two years in the overall credibility of the Taoiseach's approach to our economic affairs. When Deputy Haughey took over as Taoiseach he promised to get our finances back into shape. Instead, quite wrongly, he reverted to his earlier characteristic, namely, being rather flaithiúlac with the nation's money.

Now we have “The Way Forward” before us and we are assured that the Taoiseach has reverted to the path of general fiscal rectitude. The problem is one of credibility; we are not so sure that the Taoiseach is not a prisoner of his past decisions, attitudes and U-turns in these directions. One must pose the question: has there been a conversion or not? I have considerable doubts that the Taoiseach has undergone this conversion. That is why I think the people should be asked to judge in a general election. So far I have stressed one major factor in any general election campaign, my adamant desire and that of the Labour Party that the political parties should restrain themselves from indulging in election promises.

I hope any election campaign will centre around the fundamental issue of unemployment. There is nothing of more importance than the stark figure of 168,000 persons out of work and on short time. I stress this particularly. It is true, with regard to the Fine Gael Party in particular, the Fianna Fáil Party as well, that all other issues of total preoccupation with current budget deficits, with setting the nation's finances right and lowering the level of inflation pale into relative insignificance compared with the misery and hardship of unemployment. Unemployment is continuing to increase in real terms. Unemployment and short-time are now at an all-time record of 168,000. Many people, including many Deputies in this House, do not understand [674] the depths of human tragedy obtaining with this kind of unemployment. We have seen the development in our community of a rather superficial anti-welfare, anti-unemployment benefit and assistance attitude emanating, from the most part, from those who have employment. While every Deputy of the Labour Party is opposed to any abuse of the system we will not be carried overboard, as are some commentators, into major changes in social attitudes towards unemployment and the cost of meeting unemployment in our community which must be borne by those who are at work. I stress that youth unemployment now constitutes a major fact of Irish life. Indeed it may well constitute our greatest single political challenge. At least 31,000 persons under the age of 25 are now out of work. We must ask ourselves: why was it that the Fianna Fáil Party did not try to grapple with the kind of situation obtaining in 1977 and 1981 when they trotted out a series of slogans such as —“Let us make it our kind of country” rather than dealing with the basic question of unemployment? Indeed a figure of 168,000 persons out of work probably means that one is talking about 350,000 to 400,000 people living on these benefits. Surely that underlines the gravity of the situation. I would hope, in any election programme published, the uppermost need would be that Exchequer resources be provided to meet the needs of the unemployed and school-leavers of this summer. I would hope that need would be stressed above all others.

I would plead also that, when this House resumes, whichever Government may take up office, there would be particular emphasis laid on long-term economic and social planning because there is none at all at present. Government Departments operate in panic-stricken end-of-year approaches, coming into Estimates situations. Having done that, invariably they sit back for another six to seven months, when they begin the operation all over again. There is very little co-ordination of economic and social policy between different Government Departments, whether it be Industry and Energy, Trade and Tourism or Transport [675] and Communications. The lack of economic co-ordination between different Government Departments is appalling. It stems from the fact that successive Cabinets have not grappled with their primary responsibility of co-ordinating economic policy and integrating economic decisions thereby ensuring that we have proper industrial and agricultural development. Whichever Government take up office after a general election I hope there will be a renewed effort at economic and social planning, incorporating a coherent industrial strategy. In the future that strategy must rely, to a greater degree, on domestic resources and utilisation of the most advanced technologies within domestic control.

As we are aware now, there is not the slightest possibility that the private sector alone can meet those demands. The State must provide the basic motor for a sustained and successful programme of industrial development for the remainder of this century. Public enterprise must and should be central to the planned development of our economy, leading to technological advance and in job creation. The public sector must be underpinned by sound legislation and effective central administration, stressing the need for high quality management and innovation. In the central economic divisions of the Department of Finance very clear, workable objectives must be set with great urgency and also structures of accountability for our State enterprises, manifestly absent at present. All public enterprises must be properly funded, including direct State equity participation.

It is Labour Party policy that the expansion of the State sector is crucial having regard to the scale of the economic task now facing the nation. I welcome the fact that other parties have picked up the need for a national development corporation and I hope to see an effective body such as that established to supervise and promote the State manufacturing and service enterprises and open up areas to technology where viable openings are in prospect. I hope such a national corporation [676] will plan for the expansion of the State sector by all appropriate areas of productive investment and develop and expand State holdings in mining, gas and offshore oil developments.

State enterprises in a mixed economy such as we have if they are properly structured and directed can be a very powerful source of dynamism which can satisfy substantial employment needs of our people. I reject the idea — this may well be my last speech in the House because we are all subject to the outcome of an election — that the State sector is inherently inefficient, uneconomic and bureaucratic. It is possible to devise a new economic structure in which the goals of Irish society are clearly articulated and pursued in a system in which enterprises owned and worked by our people play a major role of leadership and profitable outcome. If there is a new Government, a Minister responsible for State enterprises should be appointed. A total recasting of Government is needed. We need an effective Minister responsible for State and public enterprise to co-ordinate that activity for the 100,000 people who earn their living and make a contribution to the State in that regard. That Minister should also co-ordinate and have a direct role to play in a national development corporation.

I welcome the comment made recently by Deputy O'Malley in the course of an interview in the Sunday Independent in which he stressed that there was a need for other measures, including planned State purchasing, the establishment of a large State trading corporation, the gaining of control of relevant distribution companies, the buying of technology through licence arrangements or the takeover of foreign firms. He also advocated direct incentives to encourage the development of some large firms. That was a constructive and farseeing attitude adopted by Deputy O'Malley. In the forthcoming election — I presume there will be one — there is a need for a constructive analysis of our taxation system and a reform of it. Our existing system is perhaps the most visible evidence of injustice in our social structure. The taxation system will not be dealt with properly [677] unless the whole structure is dealt with in a comprehensive and just way. The next Government must take action on the taxation front and PAYE reform must be complimented by the restoration of effective capital taxation. That will be a fundamental part of Labour Party policy in the forthcoming campaign. It would be dishonest on the part of any political party, particularly those in opposition, to suggest that one can reform the PRSI, PAYE or VAT systems without extensively reforming the capital taxation system. We must have a foolproof system of ensuring that reasonable contributions are made by the self-employed and farming sectors into the Exchequer. That is part of Labour Party policy and I do not make any apology for it.

In terms of gains from development land and speculative profits earned in that regard — I have fought this at great length at Dublin County Council meetings — we must not be content with a wish to introduce a system to tax them. Any Government worth their salt, or any political party, in terms of an election programme must ensure that those antisocial pursuits for pure profit at the expense of the community, gaining from taxpayers money put into the development of infrastructure when development lands come on stream, are eliminated.

On farmer taxation I want to be clear about the policy of the Labour Party because there is a great myth that we are after farmers in regard to tax. That is not true. We believe in a fair system of taxation on farm profits but that must be accompanied by a fair deal for small farmers, farm workers and young people who are anxious to start in farming. We do not support the proposal of The Workers' Party that when small farmers reach 65 years of age their land should be expropriated from them and they should be given an income and health benefits and permitted to live in the house on the lands. That is not a reform of farming structures and we do not support it. That is not in accordance with the needs of farmers.

We make no apology for stressing the need for the maintenance of income at [678] Exchequer level to pay for basic public services. There is a divergence between the Labour Party and Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in this regard. The whole rationale behind Fianna Fáil's plan is that next year the current budget deficit will be £750 million or 5.5 per cent of GNP. That postulates a reduction in State expenditure of the order of £500 million. We do not accept that. Fine Gael for the most part are preoccupied with reductions in public expenditure and we do not accept their view. We maintain that there is a clearly balanced way of doing this. While there should not be waste in the delivery of public expenditure programmes and waste should be eliminated at all levels in programmes, nevertheless we must maintain basic Exchequer moneys and taxation to ensure that the best standards of health care are available to those in need. We must ensure that taxation moneys are maintained to put greater emphasis on preventive medicine, community health programmes. We must ensure that moneys are spent in the best way in education so that second and third level education is opened up to all persons and social groupings. That does not happen at present in terms of State expenditure and, therefore, there is a clear difference between the attitude of the Labour Party and that of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. The crux of the matter, therefore, is in many ways the structure and the equity of our taxation system. I hope political parties will not abuse the system of taxation to make further political promises.

I believe the current budget deficit should be eliminated in the shortest possible time but we have grave doubts that it can be eliminated between now and 1986 in four budgets. The doubts I expressed are confirmed by the Department of Finance in their internal documentation. The Department of Finance advised the Government in April 1981 as follows:

The group considered the feasibility and the economic consequences of eliminating the current budget deficit of 1986 and concluded that even with the very optimistic assumption of [679] development in the private sector and externally it would not be possible to achieve the full elimination of the deficit while maintaining growth and employment in our country.

I do not believe one should set targets which are not sustainable. Needless to remark the deficit should be eliminated in a reasonable phased way.

I fully accept if the current budget deficit is not eliminated the country will simply slide into forced devaluation, a situation where foreign and domestic bankers will not give us a shilling on any terms. Therefore, we must have the phasing out of the deficit over a reasonable period bearing in mind that servicing foreign debt alone this year is in the region of £810 million. We make the point that any such reduction in the deficit must be done in a manner which is consistent with the maintenance of economic growth otherwise the deficit goes mad altogether with the declining yield from taxation. It must be done in terms of maintenance of employment and to ensure the maintenance of our exchange rate stability. The elimination of the deficit must be done in a socially responsible way to avoid an extreme deflationary impact on our economy and to avoid the creation of further unemployment in the community. I submit quite vehemently that the sacrifices which this exercise entail must be borne by all those who can best afford to do so and that there is no great need to dismantle and eliminate whole sections of health programmes, local government financing, education services and social welfare programmes in that process.

I believe the phased reduction and elimination of the deficit must be consistent with the maintenance of economic growth, employment and exchange rate stability. I do not believe it is possible next year to start on that operation with an incoming budget deficit of approximately £1,300 million. I have no doubt that the European Economic Community would accept that situation.

There will be candidates in this election from various parties and I hope the election [680] campaign will not be soiled by candidates from Provisional Sinn Féin. Our democratic processes are difficult enough without having the intervention of Sinn Féin Provo-candidates in this election. If I were to disagree with the Taoiseach on many aspects of economic management there is one matter with which I can record profound agreement with him and that in his vehement denunciation of the decision of the Sinn Féin Ard-Fheis held last weekend when a resolution was passed demanding, as stated in The Irish Times of 1 November, that all Sinn Féin candidates in national and local elections be unambivalent in support of the armed struggle. I repudiate those people, I reject those candidates and I hope they will not be imposed on the people in any election campaign on any ballot paper in the Republic of Ireland in any general election. I fully support the Taoiseach in the comments he made about those psychopathic political criminals who masquerade as democrats and who inflict such sadistic, murderous crimes on fellow Irish people in the name of a political philosophy. I trust all parties in the House, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Labour Party and the Workers' Party will be united in their rejection and urging that PR be used with total emphasis against such people.

It is important to note that part of the reason why we have had continuing difficulties in the national budget is that every year since 1970, starting at a rate of about £30 million and finishing up this year at a rate of £110 million, we have had to spend such sums of money on Border security. Let us not forget that we now spend, in terms of Exchequer moneys wholly contributable to Border security, about £105 million per annum. We have to spend a great deal more money on internal security for lives and property. That £105 million, which is an ongoing cost since the early seventies, would have produced from 12,000 to 14,000 jobs in the country every year and would have produced 3,000 new houses every year right through the seventies. I doubt very much if it would have produced the political instability which we now have in discharging [681] our democratic responsibilities as Members of Dáil Éireann.

I want to state as emphatically as I can that I hope all parties in this election campaign will share a common political determination and will ask for full community support to disown and to bring to justice those who rob our money from our post offices, shopkeepers and institutions of State and who destroy jobs, houses and the good name of the country in that regard. While I fully support the denunciation by the Taoiseach of such an Ard-Fheis active criminal incitement I regret very much that I cannot share his views in terms of Northern Ireland and the emotionalism which, regrettably, he allows himself to be consumed by in terms of his attitude to Northern Ireland.

I hope whichever Government take over, whichever Taoiseach is in the country, that there will be a rapid restoration of the normal, friendly co-operative relations between the Government of the UK, whoever is Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the Government of the Republic. These relations have never been, with the exception of a brief period during World War Two, at such a low ebb. It is essential that we have a general election in order to see the prospect of these relations being restored to a better level. I earnestly wish to see that taking place. There is a great inter-action of trade and a great inter-action of our people living on these islands and we must maintain normal balanced relations with the UK while at the same time being proud of our Irishness, our nationality, our economy, our neutrality in any such relationship with the UK.

I wish to make a final point in terms of Labour's contribution in the election campaign. Our contribution will be constructive. It is essential that there be a national coverage of the election but having regard to the plight of RTE at the moment it will not be possible for them to undertake a normal, conventional constructive election coverage. Therefore, I suggest to the Taoiseach that, regardless of which party or parties may form the new Government, there be agreement that a Supplementary Estimate of at least £400,000 be voted to RTE to put them in [682] the position of being able to discharge their national responsibility by way of the provision of election coverage. If there is no such agreement the coverage provided will be minimal and that would be a diminution of the democratic process.

We will put our policies before the people during the election campaign. We will do so as a proud and long-established political party, a party who defended PR when there were many in political parties who refused to defend that system. We have opposed always any strand of sectarian violence in terms of our policies towards Northern Ireland and we have always advanced what we regard as the best policies in terms of the economic and social well-being of the less well off. We are proud of our long tradition in that regard. Our leader will be concluding the debate on behalf of this party tomorrow afternoon. In accordance with the decision taken at our annual conference in Galway there will devolve on Deputy Spring the responsibility, in consultation with myself and the rest of my colleagues in the parliamentary party and also with the administrative council, of entering into negotiations with other political parties in the event of no party being returned with an overall majority.

We will have the responsibility of trying to ensure Labour participation in Government, that is if such agreement can be reached, and to report on the outcome of the relevant negotiations to a special delegate conference of the party after the general election. That conference will then decide whether Labour will enter Government or support a minority Government. That may seem to be an elongated process in terms of democratic decision making, but it is democratic. We do not repose exclusive control or party policy either in the party leader or in the Ard Comhairle. We leave the decisions to the people who make up the party. In many European countries that is the normal process of decision making.

I welcome the prospect of a constructive election campaign, one which I hope will be devoid of civil war bitterness, though there is always that prospect. The campaign should be concentrated on fundamental [683] economic and social issues and if that is the case I am confident that the country will produce a Government and that normal parliamentary governmental stability will be restored. The people are crying out for leadership and for stability. Accordingly, Labour will support the opposition to the motion of confidence and we will be asking the electorate to share our views during the forthcoming campaign.

Mr. Sherlock: Information on Joe Sherlock Zoom on Joe Sherlock Following the general election of February last The Workers' Party found themselves in a situation in which they seemed to hold the balance of power. That was not a situation which we sought and neither was it one which we enjoyed. However, in February last the two main parties as the ones closest in terms of policies and philosophy failed to form a majority Government with the result that we were left in a difficult situation but one with which we have tried to cope since then. What makes it so difficult is that our party, because of the balance of power situation, have been in the position of being able to threaten the Government's majority without having the power to influence their policies. This is a classic responsibility without power dilemma. Politicians in the conservative parties have used the media to portray our party as the holders of the balance of power and, consequently, having responsibility for the country's ills.

Fianna Fáil politicians, for instance, allege that the Government cannot take the necessary steps to solve the economic crisis because the Taoiseach is afraid of losing the support of Deputy Gregory. One prominent political correspondent has referred to the “benevolent neutrality” of The Workers' Party while the coalition parties have proclaimed persistently that our party are a prop for the Government, cynically keeping the Taoiseach in office out of a sense of political expediency and a desire to hold on to our newly-won seats. That is a heads-you-win, tails-you-lose, argument. This party have pursued an non-aligned role, judging issues, politicians and parties on their merits.

[684] The Taoiseach received the support of this party on his nomination as Taoiseach because of his commitment to modifying some of the most objectionable aspects of the Coalition budget and a willingness to discuss matters of mutual interest. Deputy FitzGerald made no attempt to negotiate for our party's support and did not bother to present us with proposals that would have enabled us to assess Coalition policies vis-á-vis Fianna Fáil strategy in crucial areas such as the economy. Instead, it was left to the hard-liners like Deputy Bruton to indicate by way of public statements that there would be no climb down from the tough monetarist policies proposed in the January budget, policies which involved PAYE workers, low-income families and growing numbers of unemployed bearing the burden of balancing the then Government's programme. That situation left us with little choice as to who should be Taoiseach. However, we made no deals with the new Taoiseach and, consequently, we were free to judge issues on their merits. This is being done, but with one important proviso: because by voting against the Government we are likely to precipitate an election there is the obligation on us to ensure that the issues concerned are of sufficient importance to Irish workers to warrant such action.

A case in point was the new Haughey budget. It was a watered down version of the Coalition budget. Proof of this lies in the fact that while The Workers' Party put down 24 major amendments to it, Fine Gael's former Finance Minister, Deputy John Bruton, put down eight. Of these none could be described as major.

Nevertheless, Deputy Bruton, the man who slapped VAT on basic essentials, suddenly discovered he had a social conscience. He attempted, with the obvious consent of his party leader, Deputy Garret FitzGerald, to turn all proposed amendments to the budget into votes of confidence in the Government. His purpose in doing so was clearly to bring about a defeat for the Government and force another election — an election from which he hoped his own party would emerge victorious and a monetarist budget could follow.

[685] In the event, the only amendments proposed by The Workers' Party which could be effectively exploited by Deputy Bruton were those on PAYE allowances. The party felt that these were sufficiently important to risk bringing down the Government because tax reform is such a crucial class issue. Defeat for the Government was averted by votes other than ours.

On other issues where the party amendments clearly flew in the face of Fine Gael class interests, such as the proposal not to refund farmers the resource tax, Fine Gael voted with the Government — as indeed did Labour.

This particular issue highlights another problem faced by an Opposition party, namely their inability to propose any measures that would constitute a charge on the public purse, that is to introduce new taxes. The Workers' Party proposal on not refunding resource tax was permissible because it simply called for the Government to withhold money already collected. Nevertheless the party did succeed in pressurising Fianna Fáil into making commitments to amend some taxes in the next budget, for example ensuring parity in tax relief for widows and single parents with married persons.

The party have also been able to influence Government policy to some extent in other important areas. Examples are — the decision to allow Údarás na Gaeltachta to be investigated by a Joint Oireachtas Committee after the Government had earlier ruled out any inquiry; the comparatively strong neutral stance adopted on the Falklands war and on Lebanon; the Social Welfare Bill in which the Government repealed section 35 of the 1980 Act, which disallowed benefit for workers locked out in industrial disputes; the Rent Restrictions Bill, in which important concessions were won for protected tenants; the Trade Disputes Bill, in which the Government agreed to extend legal protection to public sector workers involved in trade union disputes; the Postal and Telecommunications Bill, in which the party are seeking wider powers for the new semi-State bodies enabling them to engage in profitable areas of the new telecommunications industry [686] and create a national giro bank to compete with the commercial banks; the Fuel Bill which ensured the salvation of Whitegate refinery and the survival of a national refining capacity within the State.

The Workers' Party have also supported motions from other parties where they have seen them to be in workers' interests. A good example of this is the Bill to control building land prices introduced by the Labour Party. Unfortunately, the Labour Party succumbed to Fine Gael pressure and agreed to put this Bill on the shelf and make way for an all-party committee to investigate the issue. A similar fate befell proposed divorce legislation some years ago.

The Workers' Party have also opposed legislation introduced by the Government which threatens workers' interests. For example, the Urban Renewal Bill. Under the guise of improving inner city areas it seeks to establish local bodies appointed by the Minister of the day to run large areas of our large cities and towns. On its own behalf, the party have initiated Bills to allow for divorce in the Republic, commute ground rents to ordinary contract debts and introduce a new PRSI system.

We believe that the decision taken by our party last March was the correct one. We believe that Fianna Fáil were given a fair chance. We cannot believe that the Taoiseach or his Ministers or any member of the Fianna Fáil Party can be surprised at the opposition our party has expressed to their recent policies.

There was a definite change in emphasis in Fianna Fáil policy from the time the Dáil rose for the summer recess. There was the question of their attempt to break the public sector pay agreement; there was the threat to increase substantially local authority rents; there was their continued reliance on private enterprise and the running down of essential public services. But most of all there was their callous approach to the health services, the effects of which I outlined in the debate last night.

Finally the publication of our own economic plan, An End to the Crisis, and the publication of the Fianna Fáil document [687]The Way Forward, showed that there was a total and irreconcilable conflict on economic strategy. We believe that full employment can and should be achieved; we believe that it can be done by increased output and by expanding the State sector. Fianna Fáil's document offers only the bleak prospect of further unemployment and more public funds wasted on private enterprise and the farmers.

The leader writer in this morning's Irish Press asks if The Workers' Party believe that the cutbacks under a Fine Gael-led Government would be any less severe. The simple answer to that is no. We do not believe that the cuts under a Fine Gael Government will be any less severe. We do not believe that there is any fundamental difference in the political and economic positions of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. In short we have confidence neither in a Fianna Fáil nor a Fine Gael Government. We have full confidence in the ability of our policies to solve the country's problems and offer the people a better way of living. As there is no immediate prospect of a Socialist Government in Ireland in the immediate future the best prospect for working class people is to ensure that there is a strong Workers' Party presence in the Dáil to moderate the worst excesses of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Governments.

The Government were given plenty of time to demonstrate any commitment to the working people. They have not shown any commitment. We have no confidence in their policies and we therefore cannot be expected to support this vote of confidence. Accordingly, my colleagues and I will be voting against the Government tomorrow.

Minister for Defence (Mr. Power): Information on Patrick Power Zoom on Patrick Power I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak on the motion of confidence put down by our party. It was precipitated by Fine Gael, who indicated they would put down a motion of no confidence. I should like to explain a few matters. This action of Fine Gael is a mean, cowardly, political stroke. They are taking advantage of the death of Dr. Loughnane and the illness [688] of Deputy Gibbons to gain a political advantage. It is the action of a small-minded, politically-motivated, power-hungry party. They have gained a recent recruit to the ranks. The disillusioned former Labour leader announced he would join their ranks yesterday. They are welcome to this fellow traveller. It will be helpful to me to know that he does not have to fly his starry plough or flag of convenience but can show his full blue colours from now on.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte Is that what the Deputy thought when Deputy Norton joined them?

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power Zoom on Patrick Power I would appreciate it if you, Sir, would get that man over there to shut up.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte I do not think it is in order for the Minister to say: “Get that man to shut up”.

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power Zoom on Patrick Power Seeing that it is the only thing that the Deputy would appreciate as the laws of the House do not mean anything to him——

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte Just because the Minister is ignorant he does not have to demonstrate it.

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power Zoom on Patrick Power In the ignorance stakes if there was a handicap the Deputy would have 12 to 7.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte The Minister made a personal attack on Deputy O'Leary. Did he think the same way when Deputy Norton joined his party in Kildare?

Acting Chairman (Mr. Griffin): Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin Deputy Harte will have an opportunity to speak at a later stage. I remind the House that by agreement with the Whips there will be no sos at 1.30 p.m.

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power Zoom on Patrick Power The indecent haste of this action by Fine Gael should be condemned. They did not wait until Síle de Valera was elected in the Clare by-election in a fortnight's time. By this action they will force Deputy Gibbons to risk [689] leaving his sick bed to be present at the vote tomorrow evening. Are these the actions of a party one would vote for? Will the loyal columnists who consistently point to Deputy FitzGerald as Garret the good and paint the scenario of Garret the gentleman condone these actions? There was a time when “gentleman” was defined as a man who would not willingly give pain to another. Perhaps that definition is romantic and old-fashioned. Today's motion proves that if romantic Ireland is dead and gone it is definitely not with Deputy O'Leary and Fine Gael. It is disgraceful that there will not be a real Kildare man in the ranks of Fine Gael when they go to vote on this.

We have been busy during our stay in office and will continue to put the country first when we win the vote. We carried out a minute examination in every Government Department to such effect that the Estimates are now ready for presentation and discussion. I should like to be able to put these before the House and the public and spell out how we propose to implement our economic plan and point the way forward.

If the motion is defeated the people will not have an opportunity to see our plan in action. The economic plan is the result of painstaking analysis. It is realistic. There are some people who say it cannot be attained, but we believe it can. We are not asking anyone to take our word for it. We have the backing of the most prestigious international bodies and economic experts. It is a well thought out plan. It is a measure of belief in Fianna Fáil. The people will give us a fair chance and an equal opportunity.

Immediately we took office we identified inflation as the first matter to be tackled. After the Coalition went out of office the rate of inflation was 21 per cent. We worked to such an extent that we reduced that to 13 per cent. I am sure very few Fine Gael experts would have predicted that this could have been done. What does it mean? It means that the mortgage rate has dropped in recent months. Mortgage holders will be very pleased with this result. Bank interest rates have also dropped and many people will appreciate this. Farmers have identified [690] inflation and high interest rates as the principal cause of their difficulties and they will be pleased.

Before the second last election I met members of the IFA. They asked me what I thought Fianna Fáil would do. I predicted that with the best will in the world we would be lucky to reduce inflation to 12 per cent in three years because we import 6 per cent of our annual inflation. If we annualise the rate of inflation, over the last three months it would be about 10 per cent. An inflation rate of 12 or 13 per cent is good work. The first step we took was to bring down the cost of living and contain inflation. We have done that. That is the prerequisite for any economic plan. This should help us to break the vicious circle of wage increases chasing the cost of living. I hope it will lead to realistic wage increases and moderate demands.

The negotiations conducted during the long hot summer over the public sector pay freeze have created an awareness that our situation is very serious. We are serious and we need a serious response from the people. The fact that we are discussing this motion today shows that others in the House are not so serious about the long-term good of the nation Our next objective must be to work towards a solution of the unemployment situation. This is a frightful problem. It is not only in Ireland but all over the world. Countries with sounder economies and more solid industrial bases have been hit hard. In our country the problem is aggravated by the number of young people coming on the labour force each year. The figure is 17,000 per year. I realise how soul destroying it is for young people who have passed examinations and cannot find jobs. Our first priority is to provide jobs for our young people at home. We do not look to emigration as a solution. We stemmed the haemorrhage of our country's young people some years ago and look upon them as the real hope for the country's destiny.

This economic plan aims to provide jobs for our young people on an increasing scale and reverse the unemployment trend by 1986 or 1987. We are honest enough to say that it will not happen in [691] 1983 but the proper groundwork will be laid and inroads will be made into the unemployment problem from next year on. More moderate wage demands and production costs should make us more competitive so far as prices are concerned and enable us to boost exports and maintain jobs. When we joined the EMS we did so on the assumption that an Irish worker was as good as, if not better than, his European counterpart. If our demands must be moderated, if our unit costs must be kept down, if our production must be increased, we ask all our people to make these effoerts and to accept the sacrifices contained in this economic plan for the common good.

Fifty years ago de Valera asked the Irish people to make sacrifices when our economy was in danger. They responded magnificently and we won through. I know some shoneens still regret the belt-tightening they were asked to do at that time and some of them may have preferred to settle for the secure slavery we had suffered for so long. We in Fianna Fáil believe the Irish people will again respond when sacrifices are sought. We do not offer them a bed of roses, easy pickings, pie in the sky, but we ask them to back us and to work with us to turn the economy around and put the country on a sound footing.

I would like to refer to some of the things that have been done under the Fianna Fáil administration and to correct some misconceptions and false statements that have been made. Many people have recently become aware of our State forests, some people must have read articles and assumed they were true. I want to refer to a recent statement by Deputy Bermingham which proves that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. One might ask: What we have done with our State forests? There was a demand for all the saw-logged timber we could produce. Three years ago we had one million tons of thinnings in our State forests for which there was no demand, principally because of the closure of chipboard and wallboard factories and we had to find a market for that. I negotiated a deal with a Swedish firm who agreed to [692] keep a work force here to extract timber and export it to Sweden, but that agreement expires this year. In any event, they took only 24,000 tons in one year and there was plenty left for anyone who wanted it. With the help of the IDA and a visit to some firms we succeeded in encouraging a firm from Oregon to base a factory in Clonmel. Next year they will start processing timber thinnings and all waste from our sawmills to produce a medium density fibreboard. They have a market in Europe where they already sell 20 per cent of their furniture board produced in Oregon. This means all timber grown here will be utilised and given the greatest possible added value by 1983. It will create 500 new jobs in the factory and upstream, and in the long term hundreds more. Much work has been done to avail of our Sitka spruce poles by treating them and using them as transmission poles. This should help import substitution. These are the facts and it is well that they should be known.

I believe that the work done under the present Government in regard to the gas pipeline to lessen our dependence on imported oil, bringing natural gas to Dublin and other towns, and the long-term plans to provide natural gas in the North is an innovation and will be very significant.

I would like to compliment the Minister for Fisheries, Deputy Daly, for his work on the common fisheries policy and his recent stand in Europe to bring that policy to a successful conclusion. It looks as if the policy will be implemented this year and so avoid the uncertainty of a free-for-all fishing situation which already exists. It appears that in ten years, from 1984, a further derogation will be granted and the Irish fishermen can see some security up to the year 2004. I would like to point to the hypocrisy of Deputy Fitzpatrick who criticised the present Minister for accepting terms when Deputy Fitzpatrick was prepared to accept terms which were of less advantage to this country.

I am happy, too, that a trend has developed that in future the emphasis will be on smaller industries, particularly locally based industries. I am pleased that the [693] IDA and Government institutions will adopt a stand which will be more helpful to those people whose roots are in the rural and urban areas and that their businesses will be allowed to grow naturally. I remember getting in touch with Government Departments years ago trying to get assistance for small rural joineries, furniture shops, engineering works and so on, but I was always told there was an over-supply and that if these businesses were assisted there was a possibility that people down the road would be put out of work. I am glad there has been a rethink in this area because it can only do good.

During the past few months there has been a dredging up of every possible problem that might exist, or be invented, and every half truth, rumour or suspicion, has been urged ad nauseum by the Opposition, not with the idea of reaching solutions but to get publicity — and they have been very successful. I compliment them on their willing accomplices, who are sitting under the clock in this House. Never have I seen such a concerted attempt at character assassination by the Fine Gael Party and the media.

In the early days of this Government and the previous one our leader was attacked when Deputy FitzGerald made his “flawed pedigree” speech. Recently Deputy J. Mitchell came out of his glass-house to look for a judicial inquiry into the allegations of interference with the Garda. That inquiry must have caused a few raised eyebrows not alone in the Bridewell but in Ballyfermot as well. I consider that the ultimate hypocrisy.

In our economic plan we had dealt at length with the unfair burden being carried by PAYE workers and said we wish to widen the base. From listening to people discussing the plan and taxation in general, one theme that comes through is that people do not mind paying their taxes or even increased taxation, if they know everybody else is paying a fair share. We must show that we are determined to make the taxation system more equitable and that we are willing to tackle fraud and abuses of our social welfare system, that we must try to eliminate those abuses and do away with the black [694] economy and the avoidance of taxation. We should also remove the enticements to remain on a three-day week rather than work a full week.

Last week, when the new Government Ministers were announced, the Leader of the Opposition gave his opinion about the different Government Ministers — he had nothing good to say about any of them — but he referred to a statement I had made. If I remember rightly, he and the others called for my resignation. A little comparison might be helpful now. The last Fine Gael Minister for Defence was Deputy Oliver Flanagan and I would not mind asking any soldier to choose between him and myself as the man he would like to see in charge. I would abide by that decision.

Regarding unusual statements made by a Minister for Defence, what about the “thundering disgrace”? Did that man resign? He did not but his speech caused the resignation of a President of Ireland. It is high time to point to the two-faced hypocrites on the benches opposite.

Our leader and our party have been consistently attacked but nobody has been more consistent in his stance regarding the peaceful reunification of our country than the Taoiseach and I firmly believe that he is the man most likely to bring about that peaceful reunification. A comparison between the leaders of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael would be helpful and we should ask ourselves why the Tories, traditional Unionists and even Paisley are anxious that Deputy Garret FitzGerald should speak for the nation. The answer cannot be a helpful one in the context of the reunification of this island and the future of its unfortunate people. I have no doubt that the sovereignty of this nation that was so dearly won and the right of the country to decide its own destiny is safe under Deputy Charles J. Haughey. I would be very fearful of a sell-out if Deputy FitzGerald were Taoiseach.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte There will not be a sell-out and that hypocrisy is unbecoming.

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power Zoom on Patrick Power At the last general election [695] we went before the electorate with our cards on the table and showed how we could improve the Bruton budget. We did not feel it necessary that there should be 18 per cent VAT on shoes and clothing and said it was the right of the mother, not the Minister, to decide whether a child should go to school at the age of four or four-and-a-half. We said that subsidies on foodstuffs should be retained and indicated how we would do this and pay for it. We showed the human, caring social conscience of Fianna Fáil. We nailed our colours to the mast and they are still there. We will not take them down because we feel we have been correct.

It might be worth noting that no Government Estimate has been exceeded this year, that there has been no slippage and no need for Supplementary Estimates. The items that were sacrosanct to Fianna Fáil before the election and which we said could not be modified or debated were thrown over by Fine Gael in their dying efforts to hold on to power. Those who wish to paint themselves whiter than white were quite prepared to say that VAT on shoes should go, that food subsidies could be retained and that the four-year-old child should be allowed to go to school. I am confident that Deputy FitzGerald would have found his way to doing a deal with Deputy Gregory if he could have found his way to Summerhill.

Two days before the election Deputy Dukes made a promise to people in Kilcullen that an extra £50,000 would be found for an amenity centre and he produced a letter from Deputy Keating to prove it. No provision was made for that money until Fianna Fáil took up the tab and settled the unpaid bill.

I am a rural Deputy and there are no votes in it for me, but I should like to talk about the Gregory deal. We have no apology to make. For 30 years Dublin has grown and expanded and people from all over Ireland have gravitated towards the capital. Satellite towns have grown on its outskirts and residents from the city centre have been housed in these new estates. The city centre has become [696] derelict, depressed and dying. From my limited experience of European capitals, the centre of Dublin is a disgrace and something must be done to bring people back to that part of the city. It needs houses, industries and proper planning. Much has already been done in areas like the Coombe but much remains to be done and it would have been done without any agreement. I look upon the present scheme as a breakthrough and I trust it will serve as a model for necessary work in other cities such as Waterford and Limerick. The inner city shambles which we see today must contribute to our rising crime rate and lack of employment opportunities. It is my hope that this programme will eradicate these problems and give fresh hope to a disaster area like central Dublin.

I am confident that the Government are working well and will not be diverted from their purpose. This is no caretaker Government. We have been programmed for a full term in office. If others wish to bring us down they can do so and face the consequences. We are doing what the electorate elected us to do and giving the country responsible Government. We are confident that Fianna Fáil are the party to lead us out of the recession and economic indicators such as the decrease in the inflation rate have already been set fair. Some prophets may not read the signs so well but the country is fortunate that Fianna Fáil was at the helm and working towards this first up-lift in our economy.

We realise that we must produce more if we are to succeed. The value of industrial exports grew by 30 per cent this year and there was a 25 per cent increase on the agricultural side. When the gloom and doom scaremongers ridiculed us we refused to panic. We did not adopt deflationary measures. We were accused of borrowing too much but we spent a lot of capital on infrastructure, roads and telephone services, thus providing employment. These investments will pay rich dividends in years to come.

There is a possibility that we may be beaten in the vote tomorrow night but we can go before the country with a clean sheet and a proud record of a job well [697] done in a short time. If we are beaten it will be only because mean advantage has been taken of a temporary decrease in our numbers. If the country is asked, I am confident that the country will send us back again in increased numbers.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly Zoom on John M. Kelly The Minister who has just spoken was complaining eloquently about “character assassination”. He must have meant that his party's leader has suffered from it and been a victim of it. He then moved on to make some attacks on the people of this side of the House, and included someone who is not even in the House any longer. That, of course, is a normal ploy.

I must admit to a certain sympathy with people when they are in a corner and every man's hand seems to be against them. To some degree that is the situation of the Minister's leader. I have to say this to him: I am not aware that in this party there is any animus towards that leader, other than the feeling of resentment and rejection generated by his own actions and his own style over the years he has been in public life. If I may put it in another way, metaphorically speaking, characters who get away with murder cannot be surprised if character assassination attempts are made back on them.

I will be saying something which I hope will be temperate — I will not lay myself open to the rebuke the Minister delivered to my party at large — I will be saying something later about the question of style. It is not entirely irrelevant, particularly when we are a small open country with the presence here of a press corps from a country like the neighbouring British State which, as the leader of my party said this morning, contains within it a latent hostility towards this country and a latent willingness, and sometimes by no means so latent, to take advantage of our weaknesses, to play upon mistakes, to exploit things which we do wrongly, or which are done wrongly in our name by the Government of the day, or by a faction of the Government, and make us look ridiculous in the eyes of the world.

I concede — and Deputy FitzGerald [698] was quite right to say this — that unhappily that disposition is present in the British press, and it tends to be the medium through which impressions of this country are passed on to the outer world beyond. Therefore, it is particularly important for the Government here to avoid all acts, all utterances, all kinds of behaviour, even in matters not directly concerned with the business of Government, which can attract that kind of notice which makes ordinary Irish people squirm with resentment and sometimes with shame.

I realise I am leaving myself open to the charge of not being specific enough. I do not want to be specific, because I will be accused by the Minister and others of carrying on a character assassination campaign. The Minister opposite does not need me to recite the various episodes, not just over the past eight months, but over the preceding period as well, which invited and duly got very hostile attention from a not over well-disposed foreign press.

I believe I am speaking for every Member of the House when I say that personally I am fed up with this country being pilloried in the British press for every half-considered statement thrown out by somebody like the Minister opposite who thinks he can get out from under the implications of what he says by saying: “Of course I am no diplomat”. I am fed up with the country being pilloried, misrepresented, done down, blackened, made look ridiculous by things said and done by the party opposite. We have not got a perfect record either. I recognise it is legitimate for the Minister to mention things in our own record which were equally unfortunate.

In the case of the instance he mentioned, that of Deputy Donegan, I have to say this. Whatever Deputy Donegan may have done or said, he did it in a white heat of zeal for this country. What he said was deplorable and inexcusable in many ways. He chose a deplorable time and place to say it, but there was nothing base in his heart, no self-seeking in his heart. He said something with which I profoundly disagreed. It came as a thunderbolt to me to find that a member [699] of the Government I worked for even entertained such an opinion about the presidential function which President Ó Dálaigh was absolutely entitled to exercise. It never crossed my mind that anyone in the Government thought the less of him for doing so. It was a thunderbolt when I heard on the midnight news that Deputy Donegan had spoken as he did. But what he said, deplorable though it was and deplorable though the circumstances were, was said in a white heat of resentment against murderers and savages who the previous day had blown an unarmed garda to pieces.

I wish all the episodes associated with the other side of the House could have at least that much said in their favour. Strangely enough, not so much seems to be expected of them. After the Donegan episode The Irish Times— and I am speaking from memory; I may not be absolutely exact about this; I felt very strongly about it and I was probably fairly far out on a limb about it in some ways — ran ten editorials in a row demanding that the then Deputy Liam Cosgrave should dispose of the services of Deputy Donegan and/or himself lay down office and/or go to the country. They based ten in a row on that episode. I am still waiting to hear a fraction of that amount of indignation being expressed by The Irish Times or any other organ of opinion — about the rank hooliganism seen in the precincts of this House less than three weeks ago when within these precincts drunken fisticuffs were engaged in, and why.

These are questions of style, questions of one's associates, questions of the atmosphere and the climate in which one leads one's political existence. The atmosphere in which the Fianna Fáil leadership leads its existence is rank and poisoned. I do not know why it got like that. The Fianna Fáil Party were crazy, in my judgment, to have not dropped but sabotaged Deputy Lynch in the way they did. I cannot understand why they panicked at two lost by-elections and gave a chance to a man whose supporters — whom he had diligently massaged and back-slapped, some of them the most [700] obscure and unremarkable members of the party in the Dáil — to collaborate and dig a trench for Deputy Lynch, push him into it and fill in the trench. I thought they were crazy to do that. I still think so, even though Deputy Lynch is a man with whom I often had hard words and to whom I often said hard things.

That is part of the atmosphere which underlies the lack of confidence of which the intention of this party to put down a motion is only a symptom. It is part of the background. I missed the first few minutes of the speech of the Leader of this party this morning, but he dwelt far less on that than on the facts and figures of the economy which alone would be sufficient to warrant any Member of this House voting no confidence in the Government leadership. That picture is a somewhat two-dimensional line drawing and, in order to be filled out, the landscape behind it needs to be inserted in technicolour. That landscape, that climate, that atmosphere in which the Fianna Fáil leadership lives, and in which it seems to thrive, will explain the feeling in the country and in this party and I suppose in the Labour Party — I am not in their confidence — and perhaps to some extent in The Workers' Party.

I think I said a few minutes ago that I could not resist a certain sense of sympathy for a man, whatever his faults, who finds himself in a corner in the way the Taoiseach now does and has been for some long time. At the same time I cannot absolve those who have at last found enough courage to stand up and express disagreement with him in his own party. It may be — I do not rule it out; it would not be a crime anyway — that sheer, naked personal ambition is driving on Deputy Colley, Deputy O'Malley, Deputy McCreevy, Deputy O'Donoghue and all the rest of them. So far as one might have reason to suspect their position as being disingenuous, I suspect it very strongly because, as I think Deputy FitzGerald said earlier today, these people were four-square behind the 1977 election manifesto which was the source and beginning of all our troubles today. Not only were they four-square behind it, but they were the principal dynamos [701] in it. Senator Eoin Ryan, if I may mention him, was the Chairman and Deputy O'Donoghue was the principal adviser of the committee who spawned this manifesto. I do not recall Deputy Colley or Deputy O'Malley disclaiming it. I do not recall even now that they have said anything publicly about how it was mistaken. Quite the contrary. Only recently — I hope that I am not doing him wrong by saying this — I heard Deputy O'Malley saying on the radio that he had not known about the Gregory deal. He heard Deputy Gregory read that deal into the record of the House the evening Deputy Haughey was elected Taoiseach before he himself had been nominated to the Government. If he was so shocked and astonished by it then, was it not open to him to refuse to serve in that Government? I admit that in the elation and euphoria of seeing the leader of your party elected your judgment can be distorted, and it may be that that excuse could be made for him, but that he knew nothing about the deal before accepting office and serving in that Government is not true. I sat here, as he did, and listened to the details being read into the record of the House before Deputy Haughey announced his Government, from which presumably Deputy O'Malley was at that stage free to withdraw. The same can be said for Deputy O'Donoghue, had he felt like that. I am not impressed by these political penitents, these political Magdalens who are now wringing their hands about the state of the country and the state of their party under its present leadership. They are going around with, so to speak, their long hair down around their shoulders in despair and contrition——

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn Not mine, Deputy.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly Zoom on John M. Kelly ——I take the Minister's point — for the part they may have played in bringing it to its present condition. I have very little sympathy with them on that score, but I want to say this about the Fianna Fáil dissidents. I left the Front Bench of my party in order to do what little I could to encourage people on both sides of this House, and outside, [702] to think seriously of where we were going, to look up from the smoke, dust and powder of the political battlefield and the silly bragging and blackening which goes on, which passes here for the deliberations of the national Parliament, and which goes on even worse outside. I have not met with a great deal of sympathy from my own party for the point of view I have tried to express. Those of them who are friendly enough to talk to me for my own good, so to speak, tell me that I am making a big mistake about the Fianna Fáil Party if I think that they have the national interest at heart in the way that I suppose, or that a number of them, or even any of them have. They are there for one thing only — I am told — namely to get in and to stay in and the devil take the hindmost. Perhaps I am making a big mistake and maybe I am politically naive. In years I am not a child. I am very far removed, I am sorry to say, from childhood; but perhaps I am merely being childish in supposing that in the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party, or the party at large, or their support throughout the country, there is some willingness to put the country first and the party second. I may be making a mistake; but I am willing to stake something on my belief that they are not devils incarnate, and they are not all, or all of the time, selfishly committed to their own party interest and indifferent to the larger issues which the country has to face.

Therefore, I say in no mean sense of political party advantage that the people in that party who in their hearts have not the confidence which this House is being asked to express in the Government should indicate that tomorrow evening. I am not speaking simply to The Workers' Party or Deputy Gregory — little though I imagine Deputy Gregory would be accessible to any arguments from me — I am speaking to people in the Fianna Fáil Party. Let it not be said that men who have torn the party to bits, who have shredded it in public, will go through that lobby in support of a Government whom they would cheerfully see beaten in order that the leadership would be changed.

I invite them to look at what I might call concrete economic reasons, based on [703] the plan produced last week, why the confidence which they have been asked to express is undeserved. I have looked at this plan; I have read through it once or twice and I had hoped to speak on the debate on the plan itself this week and I hope it will not be out of place if I mention it in the context of this confidence motion. I have to note first of all the absolute reverse effect which this plan conveys compared with what has been said much less than a year ago, at the beginning of the year shortly before and shortly after the election, by the Fianna Fáil Party.

I have heard Deputy Haughey, now Taoiseach, describe the sort of warnings which Deputy FitzGerald, my party's leader, had been uttering over the preceding months since becoming Taoiseach and even before that about the condition into which the economy was heading as “an act of national sabotage”. How is that point of view reconcilable with the note of panic with which this plan resounds? If it was national sabotage for Deputy FitzGerald, who made no U-turns of any substance, to march on with his party and at that time with the Labour Party and to produce a budget which was bound to be unpopular plus other measures such as the reduction of the school entry age, and to be very nearly returned by the people in spite of it, what is to be said of a man who says one thing at the beginning of the year and a completely different thing at the end of it? All that has happened in the meantime is that, as was predictable, the economy has been steadily going downhill.

I mentioned the note of panic in this document and I want to say a word or two about it. How many minutes have I left?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney Zoom on James C. Tunney The Deputy commenced speaking at 1.09 p.m. and he has a total of 45 minutes.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly Zoom on John M. Kelly I have another 25 minutes and I will hardly take so long. This note of panic is instructive, and it will say something about the kind of political debate we have been reduced to in this [704] country because the subject matter of the panic is simply not faced up to. The panic I am describing relates to our population growth. Of course it is not called that, it is called “our rapidly growing labour-force” which is “our chief national asset,” the resource on which we depend to solve all our problems. The rapidly-growing labour force is mentioned at no fewer than 13 different points in this document. At 13 different places there is a panic-stricken reference to our rapidly-growing labour force, which is another way of saying rapidly growing population. Unfortunately, politics here is so arranged that if one faces up to a problem like a rapidly-growing population, each of the two big parties is afraid that the other one will tell lies about it, that they will misrepresent and contrive lying election propaganda out of anything which may be said about it.

Many countries which have a rapidly growing population regard it as a severe handicap, but I do not regard it as such in the case of a small country like Ireland where the rate of growth in any case, even though much bigger than that of the rest of western Europe, does not compare with the rate of population growth in Turkey, to take perhaps the nearest geographical example. However, it is regarded as a very severe handicap and politicians in these countries are not afraid to say so, but we have to walk in this House over wall-to-wall cant about how it is “our greatest national asset,” when this document, with a bandage made of cant tied around its teeth, is in a muffled way saying that this is a very serious national problem. It may be an opportunity also, but it is a very serious problem.

I can think of two ways off the top of my head to provide jobs for all our people. Perhaps that is short-circuiting my argument a little bit, but there are two possible solutions and neither of those solutions is discussed in this House, because if either of them were put up by either of the big parties the other would take expensive advertising — as the Fianna Fáil Party so ludicrously did last year when they spent £70,000 highlighting my use of the word “contaminated”[705] on a television programme; all I can say is that it did our party much more good than harm in any constituency I visited — what would they do, or what perhaps would we do in a moment of weakness, if they were to put forward something of comparable radicalism about suggestions for dealing with a rising population in a context where advancing technology and world recession and diminishing competitiveness necessarily mean job opportunities will be smaller?

I am not advocating this solution more than any other one, but this is something which should be reasonably talked about in this House. One solution is the Marxist solution. In Bulgaria, Rumania and Hungary they have not any unemployment. I take it for granted that there is a sediment of unemployable people, a residue of people who are momentarily unemployed or on their way from one job to another. But officially there is no unemployment in the sense that the western world knows it. The reason for that is that they are able to control the wages of the people and the prices of goods the people have to live on. If you can control those things, and control them in the way it is done in eastern Europe, then unemployment will disappear with the stroke of a pen. We could not only have no wage-growth, but we could cut 20 per cent off industrial wages and become one of the most competitive countries in Europe if this were the kind of state in which that was tolerable.

I do not recommend any such solution, a totalitarian solution of that kind. It will solve unemployment, but at a terrible cost in relation to values which in a country like this are regarded as important. Nothing of this kind was ever discussed in this House because if someone in this House were to advocate a statutory wage freeze and a price freeze which would be enforced — I mean enforced and you cannot talk about enforcing a law unless you are willing to envisage and are prepared ultimately to put up with the political consequences of the slamming of a cell door — nobody on this side of the House has ever suggested something like this, because they do not believe in it; but if somebody were to suggest this and [706] thought it was worth discussing such a person would be instantly accused from the far side of the House of trying to introduce an eastern style economy, totalitarian economic conditions. They would be accused of that, not because Deputy Flynn or Deputy Bellew had any strong ideological convictions along those lines, but because it would be a convenient stick to beat them. We would do the very same thing if Deputy Flynn or Deputy Bellew were to advance a similar suggestion. In other words, the real interests of the people are being left behind, left out, and solutions, which even in this particular case are wrong solutions, do not even get an airing because of the collective cowardice of the great majority of the House.

I hope I will not be advocating this either: I am not advocating it, but I certainly would be interested to hear other Deputies' views on it if they are not afraid to express their views: another solution would be to look at the Treaty of Rome and to realise that the EEC, which we entered ten years ago, is an organisation intended to secure not just mobility of capital, not just an open market with 200 million people in it, not just mobility of establishment but mobility of labour too. Let us just look around at the EEC. The continental EEC — the same goes for Britain — has a virtually static population. In Germany, and the same is true to a lesser extent about Holland, the population is falling fairly fast. The EEC predict that by 1990 there will be three million fewer people in Germany than there are at the moment, in the richest, most progressive, most successful economy in western Europe. I hope I can rely on the sense of fairness of the Deputies opposite not to misunderstand or misrepresent what I am saying. It would be an easy thing to say “What Deputy Kelly is proposing is to export our problem.” I am not proposing that at all, but I am not afraid to say this, that as between a young person at the age of 22 or 23 years being unemployed, and with no prospect of being employed in this country, and being in good, lucrative employment an hour's flight away from here, the second option is the one I would choose.

[707] I would choose it for my own children. I would have chosen it for myself. I lived abroad for four years earning my living.

It is not like the days when families were ruthlessly broken up by the operation of a grotesque economic system such as we had here in the early 19th century, when if a son or daughter got on the boat the poor parents never expected to see them again. It is not like that. If we run economic plans on the assumption that people have a natural-born right to a job virtually in the street where they were born we will leave ourselves open to a lot of disappointments. I hope Deputy Flynn and Deputy Bellew will be fair enough to recognise——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney Zoom on James C. Tunney May I remind the Deputy of his persistence in referring to members of the Government as Deputies. He realises that that is not in accordance with Standing Orders.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly Zoom on John M. Kelly It is hard to remember from one moment to the next what they are.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney Zoom on James C. Tunney The Chair will be satisfied with the Minister.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly Zoom on John M. Kelly Even then one could be wrong by a day or two. Nothing has been done along the lines of inquiry if there might be a solution for this element which is causing so much panic in the plan; if there might be some solution for it in the larger context, which is supposed to be so important to us, of north-western Europe, in which there is such a severe labour shortage, which is not so severely felt because of influxes of Italian, Greeks and Turks; if this could be of advantage to us, because the people we are talking about are so relatively few in number that they could be easily absorbed. I do not mean absorbed in digging canals, laying railways, hewing wood and drawing water. I mean absorbed in highly technical, highly skilled, highly paid employment at one hour or one-and-a-half hours' flight from Dublin. It would be possible for the kind of people I am talking about, who are never discussed here, to maintain an establishment, a flat or some foot-hold [708] in Ireland, to come over and see their parents, as often as if they lived in Cork if they were Dubliners, and possibly as often as they would see them at the moment.

That is just one solution. It is not considered because we have this fetish, which is now 160 years old, in regard to emigration. This is not shared by the very large number of our people who despite the best efforts of Government or the best talk of Government have emigrated anyway. That is not discussed here for reasons of political cowardice, and it is not mentioned anywhere in this economic plan. That is a very unworthy way to treat the people. The fact that this is supposed to be a last-chance plan, and the fact that it does not even articulate this point would damage it for me.

There are a few quick observations I want to make about the shape and the appearance of this plan. Its composition is slapdash. I read through it. I have had some experience of reading Department inputs into composite documents but what has happened here is that each Department was asked to provide an ongoing review of its own work. That is all it is.

The Minister who spoke a short while ago referred to forestry but in respect of either this or any other section there is no hint of planned input in so far as the document is concerned. There is nothing to indicate any momentum or new thinking on the part of the Government. Even if the Government were not in such straits as to have had to produce this plan, surely in the normal course there would be some kind of general ongoing policy in a Department such as Fisheries or Forestry. All we have in the plan are simply ongoing programmes. It has been proclaimed loudly that this plan represents our last chance. I hope that is not the case.

Another point about the plan is the absence of any reference in it to the national sabotage of which Deputy FitzGerald was supposed to have been guilty a year ago. Another concept that is missing from the plan is the creation of jobs for jobs' sakes, a concept that had a very high profile in the 1977 election manifesto [709] as well as in the months before and after that election. This resulted in holes being dug and filled in again simply to provide jobs for people. I am glad that that is no longer the case though I would have expected that instead we would have had some degree of penitence on the part of the Government for having squandered the country's future and thrown away hundreds of millions of pounds on that effort.

There is much pious bleating about how the health authorities are overloaded with staff. Between 1977 and 1981 the health boards, largely in areas of administration, were expanded in terms of personnel to the extent of 8,000. During the same period more than 5,000 people were recruited to the civil service, not to mention all the other public services that were expanded ruthlessly and which corresponded more or less with the degree to which employment was reduced in those years. As I have said many times before, such a policy of recruitment was a scandal. I have complained about this type of regiment on regiment situation, of people being recruited into the public service and quartered, so to speak, for the rest of both their working lives and their pension lives on the wealth production of the shrinking number of people who were productive. My complaints in that regard were met by allegations from the other side of the House that I was against the provision of jobs for young people. Some young people got jobs at that time, jobs which even at this time of stringency will not be lost, like, for instance, the 20 people who work in Deputy McEllistrim's private office. What can they be doing there other than constituency work? I am sure there is no talk of economising there.

There is much emphasis in the plan on efficiency and expenditure. In paragraph 19 we read that there are to be special measures to ensure the greatest possible efficiency and economy in the provision of services, to eliminate waste and prevent overlapping. That is in the context of the health boards. The same sentiments are expressed in paragraph 31 and on page 109. Why is it not part of the [710] ordinary work of Government to eliminate wasteful expenditure? Why must we wait for this last oasis before the trek across the Sahara to be told that the Government propose to eliminate wasteful expenditure? When people here complain about such waste they are laughed at.

I have said enough about the Office of Public Works in the context of this building for this year but I would like to refer to the fact that the Government intended sending Deputy Barrett and a retinue around the world to inspect our embassies. This tour was to have taken four weeks and would have cost £25,000. Presumably the Minister was being sent to ascertain such matters as whether plaster was becoming loose in any of the buildings concerned. The tour would have gone ahead had it not been for the press drawing attention to it. Slán beo leis an rationalisation. In such circumstances I am not impressed by talk of curbing expenditure. There is no sign of the rationalisation that we were told about at the time of the 1981 budget. The Minister for the Public Service has been able to pencil himself in £25 million in savings. Constraint in capital finance is another matter that we hear nothing about. We must be very careful about husbanding our scarce resources. Where does this leave the Connacht Regional Airport, for instance?

Minister for Trade, Commerce and Tourism (Mr. Flynn): Information on Pádraig Flynn Zoom on Pádraig Flynn That is good for another line.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly Zoom on John M. Kelly Where, at election time, would it leave us in terms of lobbys in, say, Limerick or Clare, if, to take a hypothetical situation, there was a proposal to dock the Aer Rianta provision? Think of the lobby — and one might say that Limerick is a lobby — that that would bring about. How can we be assured that anyone on either side would have the political backbone to resist such a lobby? Where, then, would be the restraint on wasteful and extravagant capital expenditure?

There are a number of inherent contradictions in the plan. In page 10 we are [711] told that one of the positive things on our side is the high efficiency of our farmers but, according to page 16, there is no efficiency among farmers. This document was put together with such haste that there are many of these blatant contradictions in it. We are told in page 17, for instance, that one of the principles on which the plan is based is that oil prices will remain constant for the period of the plan but in pages 73 and 74 we read that oil prices will rise during that period and that this will pose serious problems for us in terms of our balance of payments and so on. Another proposal that we never would have thought of had not the British thought of it first is the proposal to abolish the telegram service. Unless this service were to increase by 50 per cent it could not be economic. In England recently the service has been cut down. I want to tell the people who put this plan together that in Britain they have a telephone system. They are able to ring each other up. They can dial a number and get through to anyone in the kingdom. We have a telephone system, but what telephones. Does anyone really imagine that a telegram service, to which people in business or otherwise are driven in desperation, can be dispensed with? Not only has Britain a telephone service, but they have roughly three times as many telephones per 1,000 population as we have. And these telephones work or, if not, the engineers are out in a couple of hours to fix them. I do not say that particularly in relation to Britain; it is the same everywhere in western Europe — Belgium, Germany, or Italy. Only here is it different; and here is the place where we are seriously suggesting doing away with the telegram service.

These are all serious things which I would have been anxious to say at greater length if I had been able to speak on the plan as such. Getting back to our present situation and trying to wind up, we are faced with a situation — I hope I will not be accused of “national sabotage” for saying so — which certainly is no less serious than that plan suggests, at which it hints in panic-stricken whispers. It is serious, and if the President is advised to [712] dissolve this House and does so — although he has it in his discretion not to do so and let the House sort out its own problems without stirring out of the building, so to speak — and if we have an election, the Dáil that reassembles here in a month's time or in six weeks' time will have a terribly heavy responsibility. I hope I shall be among that number — nobody can be certain of it — but I believe that a personal, absolutely inescapable responsibility will lie on every Deputy elected to that Dáil to look beyond the limits of his own party and see what needs to be done for the country.

I think I know in a general way what does not need to be done, and what we cannot afford. For example, Deputy Sherlock's speech suggested the solution lies in an expanded public sector. The expanded public sector is something which does not solve our problems. Undoubtedly there are junctures in an economy's history where what is needed is something like that; but that is not the case here and now. Any ideology of that kind, or anything approaching it, will lead this economy into total disaster. I say that with no personal or ideological hostility; had this been a different year, or had I been at a different stage of life I might have been in the Labour Party if they would have had me; I have nothing against them in that sense or against The Workers' Party either, but the ideology which thinks in those terms is just the thing which this economy does not need at present. When the Dáil reassembles after an election, if there is one, we shall have to look seriously at the way the country is going and at the responsibility which the House collectively has to provide the people with a Government roughly corresponding to their own majority wishes and with a majority strong enough to run the country without looking over its shoulder, without conciliating and without being cowardly.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John F. O'Connell Zoom on John F. O'Connell I am sorry but I have to limit the Deputy's time.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly Zoom on John M. Kelly I have finished; but I had been meaning to ask the Chair's indulgence [713] to say something quite different, in the nature of a personal explanation, if the Chair would allow me one minute. I should like to correct something which in a moment of inattention I said at the beginning of business this morning, and which was wrong. I heard Deputy Michael Higgins raised the question of the text of a constitutional amendment which I heard him say was in one language only. I took his word for it. I had not actually seen the Bill myself. One of my colleagues put into my hand a green Bill in which I could see there was a section wholly in English. On the strength of that I said something which may have misled the House. What I was relying on was the Referendum Bill whereas in fact the amendment Bill itself seems to be in order. I have not had a chance to look at it properly. I am sorry if I have misled anyone else.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John F. O'Connell Zoom on John F. O'Connell The Deputy was not the only one to say that.

An tAire Trádála, Tráchtála agus Turasóireachta (Mr. Flynn): Information on Pádraig Flynn Zoom on Pádraig Flynn An rud atá déanta ag Ceannaire an Fhreasúra agus an Freasúra uilig cuireann sé ionadh mór ar chuile dhuine sa Teach seo agus dar ndóigh cuireann se ionadh freisin ar an ghnáth phobal an ionsaí uafásach atá déanta acu ar Cheannaire Fhianna Fáil agus ar an Rialtas ata againn faoi láthair, agus an fáth go bhfuil sé sin déanta acu, i mo thuairim féin, ná go gceapann siad go bhfuil laige éigin sa Rialtas faoi láthair agus nach bhfuil comhaltaí sách láidir againn seasamh in aghaidh na tairisceana seo. Ceapann siad go bhfuil an Rialtas i gcruachás de bharr bás an Teachta Loughnane agus cúrsaí fo-thoghacháin i gContae an Chláir agus freisin maidir le tinneas an Teachta Gibbons.

Níl imní ar bith ormsa agus níl imní ar bith ar an Rialtas ach an oiread. Níor thit an Rialtas an uair dheireannach a bhí tairiscint dá leithéid seo os comhair na Dála agus ní thitfidh sé an uair seo ach an oiread. Tá an gnáth phobal lán sásta go bhfuil na fadhbanna aitheanta ag an [714] Rialtas agus go bhfuil siad leagtha amach mar ba chóir agus go mbeidh chuile dhuine in ann iad a léamh, iad a aithint agus a scrudú ins an plean eacnamaíochta náisiúnta atá déanta againn le déanaí. Tá na deacracthaí eacnamaíochta ann agus deacrachtaí eile freisin agus tá scrúdú mion déanta ag an Rialtas ar na deacrachtaí sin agus ar na fadhbanna agus ar na leigheasanna atá á gcur ar fáil don tír seasamh in aghaidh na deacrachtaí sin. Tá súil agam go gcuireann sé diomá ar an bhFhreasúra go bhfuil sé seo déanta againn direach mar a gheallamar roinnt míosa ó shin. Tá sé leagtha amach san plean eacnamaíochta seo an smacht atá le déanamh ag muintir na tíre seo chun freastal ar an phlean ionas go mbeidh tairbhe le fáil as. Is é sin an smacht atá in ndán maidir le cúrsaí tuarastail. Tá sé sin aitheanta ag chuile dhuine. Tugann an Freasúra íde béil maidir leis an rud gach uair is féidir leo é a dhéanamh ach caithfidh mé a rá go naithníonn comhaltaí an Fhreasúra na fadbhanna sin go pearsanta agus go príomháideach taobh amuigh den Teach seo. Níl siad sásta teacht isteach anseo agus an fhírinne a rá maidir leis na tuairimí a nochtaíonn siad taobh amuigh den Teach. Tá na cúrsaí tuarastail á bplé againn agus caithfimid rud éigin a dhéanamh maidir leis sin agus na seirbhísí poiblí. Nílimid ach ag leanúint ar aghaidh leis na sonraí a bheartaigh an t-iar Rialtas maidir le seirbhísí poiblí agus maidir leis an costas atá ag dul le seirbhísí poiblí. Tá deacrachtaí ann freisin maidir leis na scéimeanna poiblí agus caithfimid iad sin a chur faoi smacht ionas go mbeidh an tairbhe is mó ag teacht as an méid airgid atá ar fáil-dúinn do na scéimeanna sin. Tá tagairt déanta ag cuid de na cainteoirí maidir le cúrsaí sláinte agus na heagrais áitiúla agus caithfimid na heagrais sin go léir a chur faoi smacht ionas go mbeidh an tairbhe is mó le fáil as na cánacha a íocann an gnáthphobal chun na seirbhisí poiblí a chur ar aghaidh.

Ná déan dearmad, tá níos mó ná sin ann maidir leis an plean eacnamaíochta ceithre blian atá foilsithe ag an Rialtas le déanaí. Tá an taobh eile ann freisin, an taobh forbartha agus tá cuid mhaith [715] daoine ag déanamh dearmaid — dar ndóigh níl siad i ndairíre ach ag cur in iúl do na daoine — nach bhfuil forbairt ag dul leis an plean seo ach tá mise ag leagadh síos anois díreach do chuile dhuine gurb í an chuid forbartha an chuid is tábhachtaí den phlean atá foilsithe againn maidir le cúrsaí tionsclaíochta, agus tá scéim leagtha amach don náisiún chun tuilleadh fostaíochta a chur ar fáil. Creidim féin go bhfuil deacrachtaí fostaíochta ann faoi láthair, ach tá sé leagtha amach díreach don ghnáth phobal go bhfuilimid chun tabhairt faoin difhostaíocht agus cúrsaí fostaíochta ionas go mbeidh seans ann, i ndiaidh agus i ndeireadh na bpleananna seo, don aos óg postanna seasta a fháil ina dtír féin. Sin iad na cúrsaí atá riachtanach agus an tábhacht atá ag dul leis an plean forbartha seo. Freisin tá cúrsaí feir-meoireachta — tá tagairt ann don fhor-bairt ata i ndán dúinn ansin — cúrsaí foraoiseachta agus iascaireachta agus sin é an rud a bhí mise ag tabhairt amach anseo tamall ó shin nuair a bhí mé mar Aire na Gaeltachta, go gcaithfimid béim mhór a chur ar achmhainní nadúrtha sa tír seo ionas go mbeidh tairbhe iontach ag dul dár muintir as ucht an méid costasaí atá ag dul maidir le achmhainní nádúrtha agus forbairt na nachmhainní nádúrtha atá againn go forleathan ach go háirithe in iarthar na tíre.

Tá tagairt ann freisin maidir le leasú cúrsaí margaíochta agus cúrsaí deantúsaíochta agus níl tada ar bith déanta ag an bhFhreasúra maidir leis an taobh sin den phlean ar chor ar bith agus sin rud atá os ár gcomhair is dócha, an cúlchaint agus ráflaí ata á gcur thart maidir leis na cúrsaí atá beartaithe ag an Rialtas ionas nach mbeidh aon tacaíocht ag teacht ón ghnáth phobal. Ach ní mar sin a bheidh sé. Seasfaidh an Rialtas in aghaidh na tairisceana seo atá os chomhar na Dála agus leanfaidh siad ar aghaidh leis an plean forbartha atá i ndán do mhuintir na tíre agus atá riachtanach chun forbairt agus chun seans a thabhairt do mhuintir na tíre maireactháil ina dtír féin agus slí bheatha a bheith acu ar chomh-leibhéal le chuile dhuine atá ina chónaí i dtíortha eile na gComhphobal Eorpacha.

[716] Quite a few people were dismayed when the Leader of the Opposition introduced this motion of no confidence yesterday. It was right for the Government to reply with a motion of confidence in that the Fine Gael motion was not just political opportunism on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition but a naked thrust for power. There is no doubt that in all the discussions which have taken place in the recent past Fine Gael are not the slightest bit concerned about the economic development or economic difficulties of the country at present. They are more preoccupied with upsetting the Government by whatever means they can, be they fair or foul. They have undertaken initiatives on both counts which I shall be glad to outline for the House.

They are not concerned in the slightest with the financial consequences that will be thrust upon the people should this motion not succeed. They forget that when there is no Government, economic difficulties escalate out of all proportion to what they would if a government was sitting. They forget the tax revenue which will be denied to the Government during that time. They did not take that into their arithmetic when they asked the people willy nilly to elect a Government which can do nothing other than what is set out in the National Economic Plan. That is the fundamental reason why this motion was put before the House. That is why Fine Gael are so upset at this time.

We have undertaken a policy to develop the country and created a plan which is accepted by the vast majority of people as the only way forward. It must be supported if we are to turn to a position of improved development, improved opportunities and employment. This is one of the reasons why Fine Gael find it so necessary to try to recover some of their lost ground in the political arena. The truth is that they did not expect that the Government would be in a position to move the Bill dealing with the pro-life amendment. They were taken unawares yesterday and decided before they got caught full square by the people they had better move another motion and so divert the people's attention from what they [717] want, namely a plan to deal with our economic difficulties.

Mr. E. Collins: Information on Edward Collins Zoom on Edward Collins On a point of order, I wish to raise on the Adjournment the question of the Celtic Sea for herring fishing.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John F. O'Connell Zoom on John F. O'Connell I will communicate with the Deputy.

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn Zoom on Pádraig Flynn These are the two main reasons why the Opposition chose this time. The Opposition are well used to such tactics for one reason and that is because they have been in opposition for most of their lives. They try to deflect people's attention from matters which they cannot cure. This stroke which Deputy FitzGerald and Fine Gael are trying to pull will be seen for what it is: a mirror of their attitude towards Irish life, the economic difficulties we face and the wishes of the vast majority of the people as far as the constitutional amendment is concerned. They are attempting to sabotage this amendment by bringing about the downfall of the Government and a situation where it cannot be proceeded with. Fine Gael do not want to proceed with this matter and they are using this device to put it into cold storage. They will be denied that opportunity as far as I am concerned.

This is another example of Opposition politics. It is not just that they want to catch Fianna Fáil out at this time. They are more concerned with trying to catch out their Opposition partners on this occasion. They find out that their Coalition bedfellows are in considerable difficulty and they wish not just to bring down the Government but destroy the Labour Party on whose support they relied so heavily over the last number of years. They caught their Labour colleagues offside or would it be more correct to say they caught the left wing of their own party offside and are sincerely hoping if there is a general election that they will see the Labour Party cut to shreds. Then they could be subsumed and taken in holus bolus just as they took in the Ard Ceannaire in the last few days. They will be aided and abetted in that by [718] The Workers' Party who have no love for the Labour Party. They too are anxious to get an opportunity to do some damage in that regard. The biggest item in the Fine Gael bank of opportunism at this time is to catch the Labour Party on the wrong foot so that the new leader and the dissension that exists at organisational and parliamentary party level can be worked on and maximised to Fine Gael's betterment leaving the Labour Party so weak in politics that they will be a nice tailend to the Fine Gael Party and cause no problems as far as their future is concerned. This is typical of Fine Gael tactics but they are well versed in them and their period in opposition since the foundation of the State has made them adept at that. This hunger for power at all costs must leave the ordinary citizen devastated. Everybody recognises there are difficulties, which are being dealt with by the Government, and a document of national order has been put before the people, which they welcome. That is recognised by Fine Gael and that is what inhibits them from giving their support to this document at this time.

It was interesting to note that when Deputy Kelly was making his speech he used the words “if and when a general election took place” and “if and when there was a change of Government”. It is obvious that there are some Fine Gael people who doubt that this motion of confidence will be defeated tomorrow, and that if it were to succeed there is a very strong doubt in Deputy Kelly's mind that we would be replaced as a Government. He says that if all those hypothetical things were to come to pass, it would be necessary for the incoming Government, this conglomeration and hodge podge of Deputies, so diametrically opposed that they cannot even speak together in this House, to come together and they would need to have a look at what should be done in the national interest.

I understood from some of the speeches made in the recent past and from the economic document submitted for the consideration of the Irish people recently, that Fine Gael had done all these exercises, that they had examined [719] all the difficulties, that all the figures were put together and that they had the solution to The Way Forward. It is obvious now that Fine Gael have not done this exercise or, if they have, they have not taken Deputy Kelly into their confidence. Pity his chances of ever getting promotion should it ever come to pass that a Coalition would rule this country again. It is obvious he is being ditched as a supporter of a wing not tolerable to the existing hierarchy in Fine Gael. He made some very wild suggestions about arrangements and coalitions that would be unacceptable to some of the new head-hunters in Fine Gael. Consequently he is no longer privy to the council who decide economic policy for the main Opposition party.

We understood that what was suggested recently at the Fine Gael outpourings on economic policy and their proposed plan for the economy had been given the full support of the Fine Gael Party but it transpires that it has not yet taken place. We must take cognisance of that and recognise that what was attempted was another confidence trick on behalf of the Donnybrook inner set of Fine Gael to cod the Irish people that they had an economic solution which would be much more acceptable than the national economic plan of Fianna Fáil. So much for the Fine Gael economic plan. It means nothing to Deputy Kelly. I suggest that, in accordance with good Opposition practice, the Chief Whip of the Fine Gael Party should take aside Deputy Kelly and those other truant Deputies who support him, and brief them on what is contemplated at this time, because obviously there is a wing of the Fine Gael Party who are not in the confidence of the powers that be. That would be most unseeming and would hurt the holier than thou attitude which is practised and preached by the lieutenants of Fine Gael——

Mr. Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett (Dún Laoghaire): Look after the 22.

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn Zoom on Pádraig Flynn The Chief Whip of the Fine Gael Party has a duty to his back wing, [720] conservative and new left wing pseudo-socialists of the Labour Party who are about to be swamped once and for all in the hope that Fine Gael will be the majority party in Leinster House. God help them to learn sense. Do they have any idea what is planned for them by the Labour Party? Are they listening to what is going on in the corridors of the Fine Gael and the Labour Parties about how they will deal with this motion?

This is the kind of thing that leaves the people dismayed at the efforts being made by Fine Gael to bring down this Government. There is no talk about economic difficulties or a properly detailed and costing plan that would be run against the properly detailed, costed and endorsed Government plan, just a suggestion that when they get in, if they do, they will look at the figures again. We expect that they will look at them and pay particular attention to the caper they tried on one other occasion — that they will use the device of the three wise men once again to advise them on what is necessary at any one particular time to produce the desired results as they see them.

I have no doubt that the Iar-Cheannaire of the Labour Party was spoken to before yesterday's announcement and that arrangements had been made to scuttle the Labour Party on behalf of his new masters. How effectively he did it. What kind of fifth columnist was he in the ranks of the pseudo-socialists of this country? Without rhyme or reason, without anybody's support, without giving a confidence to anybody, he turned around and said “I am out. I am joining the other party because there might be another general election, I might be accommodated if things go against the Government and I might be acceptable to the left wing of Fine Gael”. I wonder who engineered the plan that Deputy O'Leary would carry out this treacherous act against his own colleagues and against the party he so proudly, according to him, championed over a number of years? How many more fifth columnists, infiltrators of the Labour Party are there?

When can we expect another Labour Deputy to desert to the Fine Gael Party? [721] It is obvious that there were those in Galway who supported the Iar-Cheannaire of the Labour Party. Are they waiting for a suitable opportunity, or a suitable period to elapse before transferring their allegiance to the Fine Gael Party? Is that what is happening? Is there a witch hunt going on in the Labour Party to find out who are the comrades of Deputy O'Leary who have to be watched carefully to ensure that they do not do the same thing? It is all in the Fine Gael plan to totally disorientate Labour, with their weak organisation and their weak leadership and not give them a chance to reorganise or to give the new leader an opportunity to stiffen his resolve, but to catch them flat-footed so that Fine Gael will have a good chance to grab some Labour seats. Is that the reason why it has been found necessary to put down a motion of no confidence in the hope that the Government would fall? I think that is the thinking behind it.

The plan outlined by the Government is upsetting Fine Gael. They never felt that the Government would be able to bring out a package that would be approved by the public and given the imprimatur of every economic interest, that it would be welcomed by the Irish people as the road to recovery, the way to give an opportunity to our growing population so that we can build on the strength of our native industry and tackle all the difficulties, economic and social. They surely thought that the Government have not the will, the expertise or the capacity to do it and they are caught flatfooted. We have also put forward developmental measures so that the country can grow and prosper. They are so scared it will be a success that they want to sow the seeds of distrust among the people to make them think that there may be another way. This is the forked tongue attitude. They admit that times are difficult and hard decisions must be made but claim that they will soften them if they get another opportunity. The people are experienced when it comes to that kind of thinking from the Opposition. It was well displayed before this administration took over. Everything they had claimed as necessary, fundamental [722] and essential for the protection of the economy could be quickly thrown overboard in the naked pursuit of power.

We have the endorsement of all economists, worthwhile economic institutions, the Commission and everybody involved in the development of this country. What we have set down is realistic and can be achieved. We never offered a guarantee. We said that if the corrective measures we outlined were taken then the developmental measures would follow and at the end of the plan period we would have a stronger economy, a greatly enlarged workforce, stability for our currency and inflation and interest rates that would lead to further development.

Why are Fine Gael trying to scuttle this effort? They certainly do not show any attitude of patriotism. They preach it, mealymouthed, but they offer no alternative. They say that Fianna Fáil are bad boys and that they have internal problems because some people in the party do not like their leader and this is their justification for throwing everything out the window. That is not a satisfactory or realistic approach to the problems being tackled by the Government and it is asking the people to accept too much. While they will not get the opportunity on this occasion to voice their opinion, when that day comes the people will give their answer in true nationalistic fashion. They will opt for the consistency of Fianna Fáil and the economic plan.

The negative attitude of the Opposition is nothing new. They believe that everything emanating from the Government side is wrong. Since 9 March there has not been one speech from the Opposition benches in support of any economic measure being taken by the Government. They believe we are all wrong, despite the fact that all the leading economists, all the financial institutions and all people dealing with these measures, both at home and abroad, say we are right. We are all out of step except Deputy FitzGerald. I can live with that negative attitude because it is the customary attitude of the Opposition parties, but there is something much more sinister — the destructive element. They do not want the Government to be given the opportunity [723] to proceed with the development and continued betterment of the country. They want to unbalance a very finely tuned awareness among the public that we have a problem which must be tackled. They want to suggest that the Government might be able to move left or right in the interests of staying in power. They wish to suggest that there might be another way, that the difficult corrective measures might not be as necessary as suggested in the plan and that the way to avoid difficult measures is to put Fianna Fáil out of office and elect a Coalition Government. That is destructive and brings no credit on the perpetrators of this theory.

What consistency have the Coalition parties ever shown either in or out of Government? Everything they ever did was available for changing, but they levelled the charge of U-turning at this Government. The experience is entirely different. How could they sit down with their Labour Party supporters in Government? Their policies were supposed to be so diametrically opposed that they could not sit in the same room. They never did sit in the same room. What has been the history of Coalitions? They have been torn apart by internal strife after a certain limited time and then they went off to the Park. They accuse us of having some kind of internal difficulties as if we were the guardians of such experience in Irish politics. It is well known that within the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party there are left wings, right wings and centres. Now they suggest that the people should give them another chance to look at the figures, to introduce some hotchpotch conglomeration of policies hatched in some theatre subsequent to an election and they offer this as a solution to our problems. The people will not fall for that attitude any more and that is why they have welcomed our plan. That welcome has come to the ears of the Front Bench of Fine Gael and for this reason they have decided to attempt to get the Government out of office.

A sadness has entered into political life. This started in late 1979 but the lesson has not been learned by the perpetrators [724] of personal vilification in speeches that have become the norm. Policies mean nothing if one can have a good political cut either at one's colleague or at someone in the opposite benches. It started and was given prominence by the person who started it most vociferously here in 1979, the leader of the late Opposition party. He dismayed not just the people in the gallery that evening, he dismayed the members of his own party when he treated in such a fashion the elected Taoiseach. That revulsion was brought home to his own party members throughout the country when they were seriously and severely tackled by their own supporters for that attitude in this, the premier forum in the country. However, the lesson was not learned. We saw another example of such conduct today and it has led to a kind of bitterness. The charge must be made that when personal vilification and speeches of a derogatory nature become part and parcel of discussions in this House, surely the perpetrators of that kind of performance must be castigated, and I have no hesitation in saying that the Leader of the main Opposition party has brought political debate in this forum into disgrace.

It did not finish there. It was discovered that this tactic was to be improved on as a method of weakening the Government's stance and in particular the Taoiseach's position within the Government party. It is no secret that in the last general election campaign the first item of instruction to the Fine Gael canvassers was that they would intensify their attack against the Taoiseach, Deputy Haughey, they would undermine him in every way possible and so eventually bring him down. It was a misjudgment of course but it was a fundamental tactic. Forget all talk about policies, economic difficulties or anything else that the Government might be able to reply on. Continue your attack from door to door against the Taoiseach. That was Irish political life Fine Gael style 1979-82.

I think the instructions have been changed a little. I am not privy to the inner sanctums of Fine Gael nor am I interested in so being, but it is suggested now by some of those who are not quite [725] as tight-lipped as they should be and some decent, responsible, mature politicians in the Fine Gael ranks who are so disgusted with the type of canvassing instructions placed before them heretofore that it has been decided to broaden the scope a little. The previous tactic has failed dismally to unseat the Taoiseach or to unnerve the Fianna Fáil Government and it is losing credibility for Fine Gael, therefore we must broaden the scope now and the shocking list of vilification is to include other members of the Government. “Seek out and destroy” I believe was the common instruction to certain brigades during the last war, and now the attitude of Fine Gael in their absolute lust for naked power is, “Seek out around the country in any place you can anything of a personal nature that might infringe on the credibility, good standing or reputation of certain chosen Fianna Fáil souls in the front and second rows of benches.” It is a terrible way to go about political life and a poor example to the ordinary, decent, God-fearing supporters of Fine Gael. Their disgust has been voiced in the corridors of power and I presume that that will be heard.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Moynihan): Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan The Minister has five minutes left.

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn Zoom on Pádraig Flynn Cúig nóméid eile. As this is my first opportunity to speak to the House as Minister for Trade, Commerce and Tourism, I would like to make a few comments. It is appropriate that, apart from the manner in which this motion was put down, I reflect for just a few moments on matters which are of interest as far as my new Department is concerned. The House can only agree with me that the expansion of exports is a major national priority requiring the full effort of all concerned. This Government have continued to make scarce resources available to assist and foster exports. The Government's national plan seeks to direct and concentrate on resources to the achievement of a significant expansion of our exports. To achieve this objective our national plan has identified a number of areas requiring immediate attention. I propose to cover briefly the [726] measures which the Government propose taking to enhance our export drive.

Firstly, we should seek to identify the problem areas. Serious weaknesses are perceived in Irish industry in the area of market and product development. This problem has been particularly acute as regards business on international markets, and product obsolescence has been identified as a serious impediment to export growth. Therefore, there is a pressing need to improve levels of marketing skills in Irish business. An evaluation of marketing practices is currently being undertaken by one of the sectoral development committees against the background of recognised weaknesses in the marketing function in much of Irish industry. The aim of the evaluation is to identify the changes necessary to improve the current position at both firm and national support levels. The result of the evaluation will be available by the end of the year. I assure the House the CTT will be providing an increased level of marketing advisory and developmental support to firms to assist them to increase export sales. Additional finance will be provided by the Government for this purpose in the 1983 Estimates. In this respect CTT will undertake an extensive programme of market research to support marketing campaigns of existing firms. These will encompass the purchase of information on export markets, the initiation of reports for individual firms and detailed studies of the export performance and potential of industry sectors with a view to identifying obstacles and the opportunities for growth.

They will also increase the level of incentives which they provide under the various schemes to improve marketing skills in marketing firms and to intensify export promotion work abroad by those firms. Similarly they will intensify their advisory services with a view to upgrading and elevating marketing and product-development activities in management priorities. They will continue to pursue actively the development role as regards seeking out opportunities for existing and new products in existing and new markets and monitoring trends in [727] international demands requiring product development and adaptation.

The scheme for the training of export executives has proved very beneficial. It addresses directly the problem area of inadequate personnel and incompetence in export marketing and sales amongst Irish firms. It also has immeasurable impact in terms of export achievement and can be constantly monitored for its effectiveness. The development of this scheme, as proposed in the plan, represents a very significant contribution towards developing among Irish businesses the requisite professional skills for successful export marketing activities while simultaneously making a very significant impact on our export performance.

So far the scheme will lead to the development of 94 marketing executives concentrating solely on exports. It is envisaged that each executive will win between £150,000 and £500,000 of new export orders for his company in the first year of its implementation. This is the kind of thing that we say is essential for the development of our exports, the protection of our existing industry and the development of new industries to cater for the export markets that will be there and will be developing in the Community and outside it in the coming years. This is the kind of attitude the Government will proceed with. This is the kind of thing that Fine Gael and the other Opposition parties do not want us to proceed with because it might improve our situation. This is the kind of thing the Irish people cannot accept from Fine Gael and from Labour as being in the national interest. Fine Gael and Labour say that this should not be done. They have not a plan to offer as an alternative. Our plan is there. Our pro life amendment to the Constitution Bill is there but they do not want that because the Irish people have given them the message that they want it. The idea at this time is to try to unseat the Government to seek political power and the devastation of their once close Coalition partners, the Labour Party. Tá i bhfad níos mó le rá agam maidir leis na cúrsaí seo agus is dócha go mbeidh an [728] seans agam go luath: má seasfaidh an Rialtas i aghaidh an tairiscint seo beimíd in ann leanúint ar aghaidh leis na socraithe atá beartaithe againn chun freastal ar na deacrachtaí agus na fadhbanna eachnamíochta atá ag an tír seo faoi láthair. Tá súil agam go dtabharfaidh Comhaltaí uilig an Tí seo tacaíocht don phlean eacnamaíochta sin.

Mr. Yates: Information on Ivan Yates Zoom on Ivan Yates The Fine Gael Party have precipitated this motion that could well bring about the end of the 23rd Dáil. We do so in the full knowledge that this will be the third election in 17 months. The implications that has for the Irish democracy and politicians on a financial and personal basis is immense but our lack of confidence stretches to the point that we want an election where normally politicians fear one. I do not intend to dwell, as the Minister for Trade, Commerce and Tourism did for the greater proportion of his contribution, on the politics of this motion. The epitome of why we oppose this Government can be found in the content of that speech, because we no longer see Ministers appointed on the basis of calibre, on the basis of ability, but on the basis of personal loyalty to a Taoiseach.

We all know that this Dáil since 9 March has been paralysed through inaction. What have the Government been working on since that date? Have they been working on unemployment, fighting inflation or rescuing our currency? No. They have been watching what the gentlemen who sit near the corridors opposite will do and they do whatever is necessary through backstreet deals and midnight meetings to ensure they cling on whatever way they can. It is because of this political paralysis that Fine Gael made up their minds that enough is enough. We have seen the opinion polls, we have heard the verdict of the people and we have said that we will do whatever is necessary to ensure that the lifetime of this Government and this Dáil is terminated at the earliest possible date.

I do not wish to dwell on the character assassination of any member of the Government or their party nor on their internal troubles because the main issue [729] in this debate and at this election time is the economic plan, The Way Forward, as set out by the Government. There was great heralding of this plan. Before the election earlier this year Fianna Fáil said they would have the plan within three months of coming into office. Because the introduction was so belated the buildup to it was all the greater. Fine Gael were very interested in having a proper document in which we could clearly see the Government's financial, economic and fiscal thinking. We would welcome such a document. I did not come into politics to fight three general elections in 17 months, to go to Dunmore, County Galway, Miltown Malbay in County Clare or to go to Clondalkin and Lucan in Dublin West and spend all my energies canvassing, cajoling and getting votes in whatever way I could in election campaigns. It is a degradation of this House and the Members of it that all our time should be devoted in such a manner.

I welcome a document such as the one produced by Fianna Fáil which clearly sets out in the Government's view and what they stand for in terms of economic and social policy because we will get the type of constructive debate in the House which is worthy of an Irish Parliament and worthy of our time and attention, unlike what happens when we are plunged into one election after the other. I welcome the general philosophy in relation to planning. It is no secret that the Taoiseach showed his commitment to planning by the abolition of the Minister for Economic Planning and Development on assuming the office of Taoiseach. That shows his commitment and one can easily differentiate between his need for an election document and any real commitment to long-term planning.

The recommendation in the plan to set up an institute that will continually monitor, assess and develop a planning institute for the Irish economy and advise the Government is essential. That is not to say that the Department of Finance and the Department of the Taoiseach do not already have planning sections. I believe there is a need for a non-political independent State-sponsored planning institute. At the moment we have the ESRI [730] and NESC. It would be no harm, with all the talk of rationalisation and cutting down, to have one solid institute for planning and to amalgamate those two. It would add to their weight and would combine voluntary representations, from the farmers, the unions, the FUE, the CII and so on.

I believe there is a tendency among economists to go off at a tangent one week, develop a thought and then to set up a chain-reaction among State and private economists in universities and so on. They tend to be in almost an academic paradise of their own, removed from reality, whereby their good offices are not being utilised to their fullest. While I welcome this plan I certainly could not accept it as the way forward. As the House knows, Fine Gael set forward, without the resources of the Government by working through the summer, a jobs for the eighties programme. That was not in any way a Fine Gael policy document to cover the areas of Dáil reform, civil service reform, employment creation, of economic and fiscal policy. In the time available to us and in the context of available resources we could not do that but we did set out then, as we are setting out now, a broad view of where Fine Gael stand in relation to economic policy. As the conclusions are more detailed in our document we could hardly accept the Government's plan as being the only way forward. That plan is totally unacceptable.

In page after page of the document there are vague innuendoes of what the Government's intentions are. We have such phrases as, “We will put emphasis on the concern for X; we will be considering the possibility of Y”. We have waited so long for this plan that we expected at least some decisions. Some of the plan, especially the analysis section at the beginning, is written excellently. At best the plan can be described as being against sin and for virtue. Much of it is no more and no less than that. We are told that our national income depends on our ability to produce and sell goods and services at competitive prices and which are competitive also in terms of quality. That has been Fine Gael policy for a long [731] time. We are not now saying that we disagree with such a concept simply because it appears in the Fianna Fáil document. We are saying that the analysis is correct but that the targets and the decisions that arise from that analysis are totally false, over-optimistic and purely political. It is an attempt to try to con the people into thinking that Fianna Fáil alone can provide the way out of our difficulties.

With the crises of redundancies and receiverships in so many constituencies there are people who will say that no plan at this time can solve our underlying problems but we are at a cross-roads and we must make decisions. Other spokesmen from this side of the House have dealt with the targets as set out in the plan and how they are wrong in terms of our activities vis-à-vis other countries in terms of inflation, export projections and so on.

This plan is not a good programme so far as economic recovery is concerned. It is a good discussion document and that is the light in which it should have been presented to the House instead of having been sold politically by way of propaganda on the part of the Taoiseach as something that would solve our economic ills. It will not do so because the Government are not facing up to the realities.

Regarding economic policy, we have for the first time in black and white since January 27 when our budget collapsed and we were put out of office, an admission that our economic and fiscal policies were correct. There is little mention in the document about latitude, about slippage, about the need for borrowing for growth, about the potential of our young population and the need to borrow in order to exploit that potential. We are back to the doom and gloom situation, a situation in which we must balance our books and where deficits must be considered and must be paid for instead of being put on an endless list of tick. If anything the plan vindicates the Coalition stand of the last 18 months.

As spokesman in the area of employment creation I wish to deal specifically with the question of employment. This, [732] I believe, will be the greatest single issue in any forthcoming election. Unemployment is the greatest economic, social and political problem facing us not only because of the recession or because of future technological changes but more specifically because the demographic considerations and population trends are such that the levels of job creation we will require are something that has not been attempted before in the history of the State. Therefore, the whole emphasis of any economic thinking should be devoted almost totally to the ways and means by which we would set about creating employment during the eighties. There is nothing in the plan about employment. There is no indication of any commitment on the part of the Government towards singling out this problem as the greatest one facing us.

We will be seeking the confidence of the people in our proposals in relation to the massive problems of unemployment. Before outlining our position in that regard there is one interesting area that I will mention. During the last election campaign we heard much from Fianna Fáil about their intention to establish a national enterprise agency and to discontinue the National Development Corporation. The new agency was to be the forerunner in the area of job creation and of employment-creation thinking. I consider myself to be reasonably attentive in terms of following in the media what is happening but it was only through departmental press releases that I have been able to get details of where the agency are and what they are doing. There are excellent people on the board of that agency. These include Mr. Liam Connellan, Mr. Tom Hardiman and, on the trade union side, Mr. Harold O'Sullivan. I have ascertained that at the inaugural meeting of the agency the Minister referred to them as a venture capital and development body. At this point I have nothing but cynicism in terms of any approach to this agency on the part of the Government since they allocated to the agency only a pittance in terms of finance. They have no real commitment to that agency. Like the famous think-tank set up some time ago by Fianna Fáil [733] it will not be long before the agency are disbanded. In saying that I do not reflect in any way on the personnel involved. I should like to see the agency being successful but there are not inherent in it the structures that will enable that to happen.

If we are serious about the creation of employment there are various aspects of the matter that we must consider in a new light. The first area I would instance is that of indigenous development. In our programme we set out in detail what we would like to see happening in this area. We have said that on our return to Government we will establish a national development corporation. We have spelled out the way in which the agency will work and who will work it. We will endeavour to utilise existing IDA personnel. We will have a new equity structure whereby the Government instead of giving a cash handout, something that has been fine in job improvement terms but most disappointing in terms of job creation and maintenance, will provide for an equity to be used on a minority share-holding basis and to be injected as a catalyst between various groups to establish industry. If we take the areas of our indigenous development such as forestry, fisheries and agriculture, particularly food and vegetables, as well as the area of mineral resources, we can appreciate the potential there.

We all know of the situation in relation to potatoes. One season there is a glut and the next season there is a scarcity and they have to be imported. There is a need to organise primary producers. I saw fishermen at the port of Duncannon in my constituency dumping boxes of herring back into the sea. They had made no attempt themselves to try to sell their fish. Apples are dumped in the same way. We are giving our timber away, through the port of Waterford, at a deplorably low price. The potential in this area is enormous. The IDA's strategy for the development of the agricultural processing industry is excellent. It clearly outlines the areas of secondary processing. Instead of just slaughtering a beast and exporting it whole, and there are too many being exported live, we should utilise [734] fully the vacpac potential of boneless beef and salami products. The same applies to poultry products, the sugar industry, confectionery and so on. Thousands of jobs can be created in the canning, cooking, pickling, jarring, freezing, pulping and smoking processes that will all add value to our natural resources. Food imports are in the region of £800 million. Forestry and timber product imports are in the region of £300 million. We can, therefore, see where Irish resources are going. They are going to create jobs in other countries. They are not creating the viable base on which jobs will be created.

There is no escape from the economic reality in the plan and in Fine Gael's thinking over the last number of years that unless there is the economic environment in which people can set up businesses with cheap interest rates, with controlled labour costs, reasonable electricity costs, reasonable telecommunications costs, they will not be viable. At present due to Government policies we have the highest ESB costs and almost the highest telecommunications costs, especially if you take currency variations into consideration. This is what is crippling Irish industry and Irish job creation. When we get into Government, which is not so far away I hope, we will direct all our efforts to ensuring that the environment, which is such an essential prerequisite to job creation, will be established first.

I was astonished last night, watching “Today Tonight”, to hear the Minister for Education, Deputy Brady, taking credit for the reduction in inflation and interest rates. He said it was as a result of successful Government policies and I almost fell off the chair laughing. Inflation has fallen because imported inflation has fallen. Interest rates have fallen because world interest rates have fallen and if we kept our levels too high the currency situation would be imbalanced. It is ludicrous for the Government to take any credit. Our domestic inflation rate is still amiss and our basic costs of essential services are wrong and that must be the primary goal.

To get back to the National Development [735] Corporation, what we will try to do is to combine the multi-nationals and the primary producers to have a streamlined flow of production, capitalised with the equity, so that these people will give absolute, solid, legal commitments to produce the goods and not sell them at the highest price to another bidder. That continuous supply of quality goods will ensure that the jobs can be created, the factories can be set up and we will then no longer import the goods but will produce our own indigenous development where we have climatic and other advantages. It also has the advantage that the 26 Departments, State agencies and bodies that are involved in the ancillary assistance to industry will be utilised to the full. Bodies such as CTT and the IIRS have valuable information much of which is only gathering dust in files in Dublin offices. We need to disseminate this information and through the equity, through the State involvement, on a viable commercial basis, not on a political patronage basis, utilise it to create jobs, to cut down on the balance of payments and to ensure growth. That is the major aim of Fine Gael's economic development policy.

There are other specific measures which should be projected and discussed in this House such as the fact that no matter how good our economic environment is, no matter what potential there lies in various sectors, there will be very little job creation unless we have the spirit of enterprise, the entrepreneurial commitment. Only last Saturday I had somebody with me who wanted to set up a business using pigs' heads, boning them and producing food products. Such a person can be sent to the county development officer, the local officers of the IDA, CTT, the IIRS, the IPC in relation to productivity studies and so on, but there is no place where that spirit of enterprise can be fostered and developed. Incubator-type factories, mentioned only briefly in the plan, are an excellent idea and I would suggest to the Government that they consider the possibility of establishing such a business centre, run by the IMI or somebody else. [736] This could be a residential State-run business where the markets could be studied, where grants and loans mechanisms could be got together and where one could be encouraged after, say, a two months' course, to go ahead with one's business. The IDA already have many ambitious and good schemes. All these things could be condensed into the one unit. The proliferation of State bodies, agencies and Departments is so great that we have got to the stage where there is an industry of these. There is a multiplicity of them and they are not cohesive or co-ordinated. I suggest that the bottom line should be looked at. To set up another Ministry to co-ordinate these things would, unfortunately, the way civil service and political structures work, mean that there would be yet another body making a contribution in this area. We should expand the front line of job creation. They are the county development officers. They consist of one man and, if he is lucky, one secretary. That is the front line of job creation in County Wexford. They have a regional office in Waterford which is being pulled asunder by politicians from five-and-a-half counties. The whole resources of the State in this area should be channelled through expanded county development teams. They could co-ordinate on the ground all the marketing expertise of CTT and all the research and technical developments that are taking place. There was a suggestion some time ago by the former Minister for Industry and Energy, Deputy O'Malley, that these would be used through field offices of the IDA. A better way to do it would be to redeploy people from centrally-heated city offices down the country where they are needed and can do effective work.

Another idea for job creation lies in the fact that there is no doubt as to the success in certain areas of SFADCo. In other strategic points in the country there is the same potential for development and I would cite in my own constituency the potential of Rosslare Harbour, a major tourist area, third largest and fastest growing port in the country. It has its problems at present. There is not a single industry within ten miles of Rosslare put [737] there because of the port potential. I am talking not of service but of manufacturing industries. There is not even a suitable terminal or disembarkation ramp. There is a multiplicity of State agencies and bodies which could investigate the possibilities. The fact remains that there is no single co-ordinating body. You go to CIE one week or Bord Fáilte another week and you end up by meeting a Minister who says it is not for his Department to talk about coast erosion. There is potential for job creation at certain strategic points whether in tourism, manufacturing industry or industrial development by the establishment SFADCo. Possibly a reasonable way to go about it would be to encourage detailed applications from different areas which would be considered strictly on a viability basis and then pushed forward.

The Youth Employment Agency was established by us when in Government. It was given a budget of 1 per cent of all those at work whether through health contributions or PRSI, a type of budget and the type of commitment by a Government in terms of financial resources suitable to tackle the massive problem of young people experiencing unemployment. At present, both on and off the live register, I believe we are talking in terms of 70,000 people. I believe that what you do not spend today in encouraging them to become constructively involved in employment and recreational facilities tomorrow you will spend through the Department of Justice on malicious damage claims. What the Government should be doing and has singularly failed to do is telling the agency what to do and how to do it and then leaving the executive function to the agency and its staff. We have heard nothing from the Government in this regard, only bland platitudes and wait-and-see attitudes. Unequivocally, this House should say what the agency should be doing. We committed this money to the agency. We asked people to sacrifice some of their income in order to provide for the agency and we should therefore have our role in saying what the agency should do. It is not enough for the agency in any policy review to say that it will [738] look for a more enlightened approach in the leaving certificate curriculum so that people will be more adjusted to work when they get out. That is the job of the Department of Education who should have that attitude anyway and should not need to be told by another State agency what to do. They should be thinking in practical, viable terms. Nor is it enough to say that we are doing a great job by having young people who are unemployed registered so as to identify the problem. That is essential but it is the job of the National Manpower Service. They should have this information and should have had it even before the agency came into being. We must look at new ways by which the agency will develop and really set about tackling the needs of our young people.

First, I think they should set out a guarantee scheme for all school leavers unable to find employment within six months of leaving school, so that they would have a job development scheme for one year whereby they would combine with AnCO to provide practical technical information to improve their viability. The Manpower Service through the work experience programme which has 80 per cent job attainment could be used to put people in touch with employers, paid by the State, which would give them the chance to get the training and the employers the chance to know them so that they will be kept on. We could also utilise our regional training colleges and technical schools which are empty and useless in summer and which are not using our capital allocations, which cost so much, in the summer. They could combine an eight or 12 months' course with these three integral parts which would ensure that at the end of it at least the young people would have been usefully occupied, would be more employable. The scheme should be so devised as to concentrate on future job potential and not on office jobs which do not exist and which will be replaced by technology. This could be done in such a way as to have links between industry and education and would give people the opportunity to find employment.

I come to a point that is touched on in [739]The Way Forward, the greatly deprived areas of inner city Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Dublin where people left school before the intermediate or group certificate and do not give a damn. They are against society, against the system and so on and are not clued in to it. Such people exist. We must work towards them and see that community training workshops are established to cater specifically for them to improve their employability by giving them basic educational and training facilities on a six months' course in their area. They would be told about practical social welfare and so on, clocking in and out, education in reading and writing and whatever they need and be given some chance of finding employment later.

It is a basic principle of the country that so often we look to the State to do what we should have the initiative and drive to do ourselves. We should encourage young people to set up their own businesses by combining the agency and the Irish Goods Council which in conjunction with the research library of the IDA has a full list of items, albeit small, that can be produced but are presently imported. For instance, these might include bottle tops for Irish liqueurs or Christmas cards which we will all buy now or something similar. These are small items that can be produced and which the Goods Council have recognised as being imported when we need not import them. Small businesses, employing five, 10 or 20 people could be set up specifically to produce these goods and service this market and so improve our balance of payments and create jobs. The goods council have a small staff of 22 but are very committed and well organised and should be combined with the resources of the agency to set up such self-financing enterprises, co-operatives on an employee-shareholder basis under management, advice and loans provided by the agency to help them get off the ground and encourage self-help and job creation.

This agency is new and powerful within itself, even within the Department of Labour budget. I am sure the people in [740] AnCO and the NMS are fighting to get their share of that budget. The agency that has sole responsibility for these young despairing people who have not or cannot get jobs could indicate to the Government the pilot schemes that would possibly lead to new job creation. At present we have quite generous grants for sanitary services, insulation and so on. Possibly we could do away with these grants or the agency could say we can review this policy and instead of pouring money out through cash grants we can get young people in the most deserving cases, for instance the pensioners who need toilets, and these young people would do the work. It seems this would fulfil a dual role. The same applies to insulation of public buildings. We are all converted to the need to conserve energy. We need a practical commitment perhaps through an employment scheme to insulate public buildings and conserve energy or provide insulation in homes of elderly people and so on. These are just two vague examples. It is not my job to detail the specifics of such a policy. It is the agency's job. They should be the champion of new proposals for new areas of job creation and new schemes to benefit our young people. As far as Fine Gael are concerned, with the commitment we made to them in setting them up and with their resources we shall not be slow to criticise their performance if they do not deliver the goods, and especially to criticise the Government if they do not ensure that they utilise the opportunity that we established and lead it to fruition.

I mentioned indigenous development, the National Development Corporation, the Youth Employment Agency, county development teams and so on. There is precious little in this great document which is our economic saviour on how to create jobs. In Opposition we have difficulties about the detail we go into because we do not have access to costings. In relation to employment creation the document is very disappointing and this is one of the many reasons why we put down an amendment to reject its conclusions.

The incentive to work is dealt with reasonably succinctly in the document. [741] Prior to Fianna Fáil's belated conversion to this we said that the five-day operation per week of social welfare and the taxing of short term social welfare benefits was a step in the right direction. In my constituency I know of one factory which went on a three-day week. The employees were upset by this until they found out that they were better off working a three-day week. Even those employees benefitting from it are able to tell me it is wrong. We should not shilly shally about saying it is wrong. People should not be better off working a three-day week. We must be positive in our thinking on this.

Taxation is the best way forward. It is fair and takes account of family circumstances and so on. One point which was not mentioned in our document or in The Way Forward is that we can have a situation where tax rebates are paid on a four-weekly basis. People can be very well off with this cream of the cake which ensures they are better off not going back to work. Instead of paying PAYE they get a juicy rebate. All rebates should be paid at the end of the year. No amount of incentive to work will solve our problems such are their dimension and size.

We spend £400 million on unemployment assistance, unemployment benefit and pay-related benefit. This has nothing to do with children's allowances, widow's pensions and so on but it is merely unemployment compensation. We should look at the possibility of re-allocating this money not in terms of giving people bread and butter and a roof over their heads but in terms of giving them something to do. I do not know why we do not say to people that if they get £64 per week in unemployment assistance or benefit they should do £64 worth of work. We have lots of work to be done. We have the environmental scheme, community development projects and so on. People who want to get off work — for example, to pursue courses — could do so. If that system was adopted we could pay people at the rate of benefit for the work they did. This would be a way to look at the social cost of unemployment. It would also give some idea of the loss to the Exchequer. It has never been estimated but we could be losing £600 million [742] by paying people to do nothing. The Government did not look at this.

There is a major area I should like to address myself to and that is a positive policy of privatisation. The average cost per week of a hospital bed for a geriatric patient is £380 in a State hospital. In a private nursing home it is £100 per week. Surely it would be logical for the State to give them the subvention and save £200 a week instead of building more hospitals. We cannot build the number of houses we would like to. In County Wexford alone there are 1,600 people looking for houses. We will not build 100 this year. We know there are flats and vacant houses so why not subsidise the rent? Why not say we will pay people to live in these because we cannot afford to build houses? This policy of privatisation has not been looked at because we do not have the resources.

The McKinsey Report is dealt with in The Way Forward. It is stated in that document that transport should be divided into rural buses, expressway buses, rural trains and Dublin trains. Why is the operation of rural buses not given to private enterprise? Instead of the Government pumping £4 million into it there are people who could run the service and make a profit out of it. Why should the State have a monopoly? There should have been an attempt made to look at the policy of privatisation and do a cost-benefit analysis. The Way Forward has not touched on that and I was disappointed with it in that regard.

There is nothing in the document in relation to Dáil reform or Oireachtas Committees. As the youngest Member in the House I feel the Dáil is not geared to deal with, for example, a crisis in a constituency. The Dáil is more like a District Court or county council than a Parliament. Britain can bring people in and cross-heckle them. We should be able to do that whether it is Mr. White of the IDA or Dr. Kennedy of the ESRI and so have a more enlightened debate unlike Deputy Flynn's contribution, which was purely political and nonsense.

I do not want an election. I do not want to run around in Wexford asking 60,000 people for a vote. The other choice I have [743] is to go to Miltown-Malbay. Not much of a choice. We have no confidence in the Government. Members of the Fianna Fáil Party have voiced no confidence in the Government. The people have no confidence in the Government. We all know it cannot last. There are people in the corridors of the House betting on when it will fall, whether it is tonight, tomorrow night or next week. One thing is certain: it will go. The people know where the parties stand. The issues will decide themselves. This document failed the youth in terms of unemployment. In that regard we have no choice but to seriously consider this plan. The writing in the plan is good. If the Government's credibility had not been so low it would have got a better hearing. We have had enough. The people have had enough and it is time the people had their say.

Mr. M. Brennan: Information on Matt Brennan Zoom on Matt Brennan It is obvious, listening to the previous speaker, that he is one of the youngest Deputies in the House. I wish to turn my mind back a few years. In the fifties the economy was in a state of almost total collapse. The price of agricultural products had nose-dived. At that time there was a railway station in a small town in my constituency and many mornings I saw young men with tears in their eyes holding one way tickets to such places as Birmingham, Manchester, London and so on. There were no jobs in Ireland. These people made up but a fraction of the thousands who left this country in search of a better life. They had no choice at home; there was nothing for them to do.

At that time there were 500,000 farmers; today there are 160,000 and the number is falling. In the mid-fifties it was realised that if something was not done the country would bleed to death. It was said that an Irishman at home was as rare as an Indian on the island of Manhattan. Something had to be done and something was done. The country began to urbanise and industrialise. Things began to improve. Emigration slowed down, rural electrification went ahead, the quality of housing improved rapidly and dramatically, mechanism in farming and other [744] areas expanded. We established our own television network and the number of car owners rocketed. In these and many other ways the quality of life continued to improve through the sixties and into the seventies. Then came the oil crisis in 1974 and 1979, which brings us up to date with our own set of problems, some of them frightening.

We have problems in agriculture. We have a large very young population with hopes and aspirations and they are facing daunting challenges. Our young population is growing faster than in the years before the Great Famine of 1847. Today we do not have the escape valve of emigration as we had in the fifties. If this nation cannot give our young people jobs, homes and a secure future, there is nowhere they can turn to because there is massive unemployment all over Europe and North America. Everywhere the story is the same and the problem is getting worse.

This is the age of the microchip where machines have replaced people in work-places, factories, farms, shops, offices, places of leisure and all other areas. Every year an extra 17,000 young people come on our job market and many people come home in search of jobs and a better way of life. It is said that the savage loves his native shore, and it is every Irishman's ambition to live and work in Ireland and, even if he had to emigrate, to return.

In the area I represent we have our own problems. Relatively small farmers are being faced with ever-increasing overheads — paying more for fertilisers, machinery, seeds, materials used on farm buildings, and other improvements, such as land drainage and so on. I listened to the Minister for Agriculture last night saying that this Government had done a great deal for farmers under the farm modernisation scheme and drainage works. During the term of office of the Coalition Government — seven months — they cut farm grants to almost half. That is why we have confidence in a Fianna Fáil Government, and the farmers will realise that if we go to the polls in a few weeks' time.

It is said that this year farmers' incomes will increase by 25 per cent and I have no [745] doubt they will under the present Fianna Fáil Government. If this problem of high inflation is not dealt with it will affect not only the farming community but the industrial sector, the unemployed, the old and the underprivileged. The Government's economic plan goes a long way towards solving our problems, but unfortunately it is not getting the necessary support.

Projects such as the co-operative movement must be recognised and encouraged. The western development plan must be utilised and exploited to the full. Priorities in farming must be identified and promoted enthusiastically. We must look beyond our shores and learn from the success of others.

One of the priorities in my constituency of Sligo-Leitrim is the drainage of the Owenmore and Arrow Rivers. Those river basins cannot be utilised to their full potential because of a lack of drainage. Such a drainage scheme would provide much-needed employment and lasting benefit to the community as a whole.

Industry in my constituency has not escaped the savage effects of inflation. Some factories have closed, some are on short-time and others have had to cut their work force in order to stay in business. There is a factory in Tubbercurry owned by a former Member of this House, James Gallagher, which produces Basta locks. Much money has been spent on this House in recent times but I have yet to see a Basta lock here. One would think we did not have a factory manufacturing locks. At one time it was necessary to use Irish made locks in order to qualify for a housing grant but this condition has been waived since we joined the EEC.

I wish to register my concern for small family traders. For many years they have been an important feature of community life in towns and villages. It has been calculated that during the past 12 years over 12,000 small shops and businesses have closed down because of changing shopping and trading patterns and other factors over which we have no control. These little shops have given great service and much employment over the years and it is a pity that more cannot be done to enable them to survive.

[746] The previous speaker mentioned rehabilitation facilities for young people. Fianna Fáil Governments have done much over the years to help our young people and those who are deprived. Courses are available through AnCO and facilities are also available in prisons. The Itinerant Settlement Committee offer courses in most towns. The Deputy should have done a little research on this subject. Nobody knows more about it than I because I was an instructor in a young itinerant workshop and I derived great job satisfaction and pleasure from the experience.

This Government have done much for our young people. Unfortunately, the rising crime rate, increased violence and drug abuse are disturbing problems and many of those involved in these activities come from deprived backgrounds and are unemployed. It is estimated that the annual cost of keeping an inmate in an institution is £50,000. A small fraction of that sum spent on improving the circumstances of these unfortunate young people and giving them a better preparation for life might well be the best investment we could make in our efforts to stem the rising tide of crime.

Community councils have been set up in recent years in many towns and parishes. Their value should not be underestimated and they should be helped in any way possible, perhaps with some form of EEC regional assistance, to promote community development. The people who serve on these councils do so in a voluntary capacity and at their own expense and their services are of great value.

This Government have spent more money on the provision of national primary and national secondary roads than any Government in recent times. Last year alone they made massive allocations for road improvements because they realise that we need a much better road network. Much work has been done on improving our existing roads and the Government are doing everything possible in this regard.

Fianna Fáil Governments have made available considerable amounts of money for sports complexes and all types of [747] sports facilities. I look forward to the day when there will be a sports complex and a swimming pool in every parish, not only because of their recreational value but also because of their potentially beneficial effects on the health of the community. If we achieve full employment we will have a shorter working day of, perhaps, six hours and maybe a four-day week and there will be a need for far more recreational facilities.

Much has been said about an airport which is being built within 15 miles of my home. I refer to the Connacht Regional Airport at Knock. I compliment Monsignor Horan of Knock for his initiative in providing such an airport, and no doubt that airport will be completed regardless of whether we have an election in three weeks' time. Our Lady appeared in Knock and Knock is entitled to an airport. Knock regional airport is of potential benefit to the region, and an airstrip is vital in this technological era. I am sure similar squabbles occurred when the airport for Lourdes was projected. In 1954 20,000 pilgrims flew into Lourdes Airport and last year the number was 379,000. If we apply that to Knock by the year 2000 about one quarter of a million people will be using Knock airport. Thousands of people are travelling to Knock today by road and rail and, please God, we all will see the day in the not too distant future when a quarter of a million people will fly into Knock airport.

Our problems are many but our hopes are high in spite of the difficulties that people young and old from all walks of life will face the challenge bravely and go forward with success in the onward march of time.

In conclusion, I may say speaking for the first time in the House, that, the events of recent times in Northern Ireland are sad. Again I hope that we will live to see the day when we will have peace on both sides of the Border and that we will see a united Ireland where Catholics and Protestants will live in lasting peace.

Mrs. Fennell: Information on Nuala Fennell Zoom on Nuala Fennell It gives me no great pleasure to contribute to this debate [748] although I believe to do so is essential. Very few people in this House or in the electorate at large are happy at the thought of an election now but it is the only way to clear the air and look into the future with any sense of positiveness or vision. I have news for the Minister, Deputy Flynn. He proclaims public support for the performance and economic projections of the Government. I say to him that the public will no longer go on tolerating the kicks in the shins and the kneecapping that they have had to tolerate from the Government in the last eight months.

I would like to put on record the feelings of distress and sadness that have been conveyed to me in the last six months and particularly the last three or four months by many parents because the Government have cultivated a climate in which the traditional honesty, decent standards and integrity that we have held and which those of us who are parents have tried to instil into our children have come to mean nothing. Parents have tried in a difficult time to rear teenagers to uphold standards. How can we attempt to inspire these good standards, these objectives for the future which will guide our children's moral integrity and behaviour when they see and hear of cheap strokes, exchanging of political and ministerial perks for personal support or party survival at the highest level? That calibre of behaviour, lack of integrity is the greatest obstacle for Irish parents. Above all the kind of knock-about and pub-closing-hour scenes which occurred in the forecourt of this establishment a few weeks ago must make it very difficult for young people to reconcile respect for the institutions of this sort with what they see.

Regarding the Government's economic plan, it is good to see from this document that Fianna Fáil after four years spending like drunken sailors have been converted at last to the reality of our economic problems. To say the least, their conversion comes late in the day because the money they have been spending was our money and, worse still, our children's money. Between 1978 and 1980 — two years — the foreign borrowings [749] of the Government increased from £1,000 million to almost £4,000 million and semi-State foreign borrowing increased by almost another £1,000 million. What have we to show for this foreign borrowing? Certainly not jobs, when our unemployment rate is in excess of 160,000 at the moment. Remember back to 1978 when Deputy O'Donoghue was going to abolish unemployment by this year 1982. Fianna Fáil's record in unemployment would be funny if it were not so very tragic, and tragic because — I refer to the comments of the last speaker and also to those of Deputy Yates of my party — many of the parents' generation such as myself went abroad in the fifties, and it would be hard to imagine a grimmer time in Irish society in economic terms than the fifties. I was one of those who emigrated in that time like many others. We went away because there was nothing in this country, no future, no jobs, no free education, but there was a very strong invitation from other countries who needed a workforce. What happened to those thousands who emigrated? Many of them sacrificed material advantages abroad because they wanted to come back and live in this country, because they felt they had something to contribute in this country. They came back and they reared their children in the belief that what happened to themselves in the fifties would never happen again. Therefore, it is tragic that the parents of today who have children coming out of school looking for jobs — we see such children in this gallery every day from the schools — see so little ahead for those children and that in those 20 years the Fianna Fáil Party who dominated Government in this country have not had the vision to plan for this time.

Now we are promised another economic miracle. Let us look at the document which promises so many things. Two things which the document shows up are (1) the extent of Fianna Fáil's mismanagement of the economy in the period from 1977 to 1982 and (2) that Fianna Fáil are incapable of making any input into the most important problem, reducing unemployment. I would like to [750] demonstrate what I mean. The public service pay bill rose by 24 per cent in 1981. The plan talks of it increasing by 5 per cent during 1983 to 1987. This is on page 19. Is this realistic considering that the 5 per cent is to cover general and special increases? There is talk of increased productivity although there is very little that is specific, which has been the greatest criticism of this plan. Even allowing for increased productivity does anybody really think that the Government have the will to contain public service pay increases to 5 per cent per annum? Even if we were willing to believe in the 5 per cent target, on page 35 we see that salaries and wages are programmed to rise by 10 per cent per annum.

How do we reconcile the two increases? Are the public service getting increases which are half those prevailing in the private sector or is it assumed that there will be no productivity? If so, does anyone accept the target of 4,000 redundancies in the public sector as realistic?

On pages 32 and 45 manufacturing output is programmed to rise by 9 per cent per annum on average. I accept that this is possible because growth at this level was achieved in 1976 when the Coalition Government were in office but it has not been achieved since they left office. Could a Fianna Fáil Government really. achieve this target? Certainly not on their past performance. Gross national product is programmed to rise by 5 per cent per annum. This is on page 36. This is optimistic. I again accept that this is possible but the average growth since 1978 under Fianna Fáil in Government was 1 per cent per annum. Now we are asked to believe that Fianna Fáil will achieve 5 per cent per annum.

The plan talks about imports substitution as a major source of new output and, therefore, new jobs. This is a reasonable objective but what happened when Fianna Fáil were running the economy? Between 1977 and 1980 import penetration increased from 29 per cent to 38 per cent. It says so on page 44 of the document. If import penetration can be halted and turned back like this what were the Fianna Fáil Government doing during [751] 1977 to 1980? In this area I would like to make some comments regarding marketing and suggest the possibility of setting up a marketing institute or an Irish marketing organisation, which would include things like the quality of manufacture, standards, design, market research and also promotions and, in particular, some sort of Irish marketing control certificate, something on the lines of what they have in Japan for products from the camera and optical industry where all goods of this kind produced in Japan meet the standards of the institute.

There are already a number of councils like this here, the Buy Irish, the Irish Goods Council. They should be re-examined and brought under one umbrella organisation because I believe quality is so vitally important if we are to compete. It is in this area we should have the best possible brains. I feel, even if that means hiring brains and bringing them in from abroad we should do this. We did in the case of the Kilkenny Design Centre. We should set up reasonable standards which can then be absorbed into the Irish manufacturing mainstream. I believe this is the line we should follow. We will have to approach it in a commercial way and not in a semi-State, civil servant fashion.

On page 10 the plan talks of having created 100,000 new jobs outside the public sector in 1979, 1980 and 1981. It reads very well but, sadly, the reality is much more modest. Manufacturing employment actually decreased by 5,000 during those three years. That is on page 44. The private services sector group had 25,000 during the period. This is on page 50. Agricultural employment also fell. Thus, the net increase was less than 7,000 per annum and not 37,000 per annum as page 10 implies. Despite this modest achievement Fianna Fáil are now promising 20,000 additional jobs each year, 10,000 in manufacturing and 10,000 in private services. This is on page 32. I do not believe this target is too high. I believe it is far too low but, in view of their dismal record, would Fianna Fáil please tell us how they will improve this performance by 300,000? Is this the track record that inspires John Healy when he [752] says that the Taoiseach is not interested in running an economy.

Let me turn to the problem of unemployment and examine what the plan does to assist the 160,000 who are on the live register, up from 87,000, when Deputy Haughey became Taoiseach at the end of 1979, and immediately told us all the things that are contained in this document. Unemployment is the most important and most urgent problem facing the nation caused by a rapidly growing population and jobs being lost through (1) lack of competitiveness, as illustrated by the import penetration, (2) taxation policies, high taxes to support giving medical cards, for instance, to all contributory old age pensioners irrespective of need and (3) little new investment because the Government are borrowing to pay the salaries of civil servants rather than investing in new jobs.

The worst thing about this plan is that it does not solve the unemployment problems any more than Deputy O'Donoghue's economic policies did. The second worst thing is that the plan pretends to solve them. This must further damage our democratic system when the people realise they have been conned in order to prolong the life of the Fianna Fáil Government. By its own admission the plan makes no impact on our unemployment figures. Even if you believe it can work, which is very doubtful, the average annual increase in employment for the period 1983 to 1987 is 19,000 made up as follows: in manufacturing 10,000 increase, construction 3,000 increase, private services 10,000 making a total of 23,000. From that we take agriculture 3,000 increase, public service 1,000 increase giving a total of 4,000. The net total increase is 19,000, which we see on page 32. The projected annual increase in the national workforce is 17,000 — this is given on page 31 — giving an annual reduction in unemployment of 2,000. By 1987 unemployment will have been reduced by 7,000 from 160,000 to 153,000. That is assuming that everything goes according to this plan, that all the hopes and the pious platitudes work out, even though Fianna Fáil's fellow travellers, The Workers' Party, have promised [753] a reduction of 20,000 jobless and are forecasting a mere 140,000 unemployed in 1987 if their policies are adopted.

The Fianna Fáil plan actually forecasts a rise in unemployment in 1983 and 1984. This is on page 34. So much for the Minister for Finance's boom and Deputy O'Donoghue's promises of 1977 to abolish unemployment in 1982. I would like to compare this 116 pages of vague political waffle with an excellent document for 1958, economic development, a book of 251 pages of hard facts and firm targets. The document before is a pale imitation of the 1958 one just as the Cabinet are a pale imitation of Seán Lemass's Cabinet. We must unite in national will and resolve on action. The tragic fact for the people of Ireland is that the Taoiseach is incapable of providing such unity for the people of Ireland. He cannot even provide unity within his own party. We should take this fairytale document and tear it up. Let us look on the job we started in June 1981, the Coalition Government, implementing a brave programme which people now accept and accepted last February as the right programme. The Irish public now know that Fianna Fáil have sold them short, certainly economically, with false promises and bogus policies.

While the whole question of our economy is central and vital in terms of the alleviation of the unemployment problem, in terms of our reputation abroad and of the very future for ourselves and for our children, there are other issues that I wish to raise at this point. In general I wish to speak of women in the context of our society. I raise this matter at the invitation of the Taoiseach whom I met at a reception last week in the offices of the Council for the Status of Women. First I would draw attention to the situation in which we have an all-male Cabinet. It is not for me to dictate to the Leader of any party as to whom he should nominate to serve in his Cabinet or shadow Cabinet as the case may be but it seems odd that a man who has spoken so often at election time with so much seeming sincerity should fail to appoint a woman to his Cabinet. Only last week when appointing new Ministers [754] the Taoiseach again ignored women. An all-male Cabinet, regardless of which party may be in power, cannot be expected to reflect or to put forward the thinking and the needs of the female population who incidentally, comprise half the electorate.

The meeting at which I spoke with the Taoiseach concerned the report of the Council for the Status of Women in the context of women on State-sponsored bodies. The Taoiseach did not enjoy a good time at that meeting but this was due to his presuming that women were still at the point of development and of political consciousness that would have been the case perhaps six or seven years ago when the then Minister for Finance, Deputy Colley, referred to the majority of women as being well-heeled and articulate, a remark which I am glad to say brought the wrath of both men and women on his head.

Minister for Fisheries and Forestry (Mr. Daly): Information on Brendan Daly Zoom on Brendan Daly A small minority.

Mrs. Fennell: Information on Nuala Fennell Zoom on Nuala Fennell The Taoiseach and his Government have ignored women's issues. They have failed to recognise that it is in the area of State-sponsored bodies and other such fora that they should be giving the lead in regard to the appointment of women. It is in the area of State-sponsored bodies that the Government have power in real and practical terms to make changes and to influence the status quo. I accept that in many cases it can be argued that there are limitations to what can be done but there are areas in which progress could have been achieved without any extra cost being involved. It is regrettable that the record of this Government is so deplorable in terms of the selection of women to serve on the boards of semi-State bodies or of various committees. That criticism applies also to the various Fianna Fáil administrations that we have had down through the years.

The Taoiseach is under a great illusion in proclaiming that he is committed to the appointment of women to public office. His performance in office contradicts that claim. At the Fianna Fáil Ard [755] Fheis in 1980 he gave a commitment to appoint women consistently to boards and agencies as the opportunity arose. Only some weeks ago he had the opportunity of putting that promise into practice when there was a vacancy on the board of the Abbey Theatre but instead that vacancy was filled by Mr. Ulick O'Connor. I have the greatest respect for Mr. O'Connor but his appointment left the board comprised of men only. That was a regressive step so far as women are concerned.

The Taoiseach must accept that we live in an era in which the contributions of women to the various institutions of society are seen to be positive and important. If the Government wish communities to develop in a balanced and equitable way, they must involve women actively. The appointment of women to the boards of State-sponsored bodies provides an opportunity for enlightenment in addition to setting a suitable example for other bodies. Government action in this regard would tend to bridge the wide gulf between private and public life. It is no longer acceptable to consider the home as the place for the woman and the public arena as the preserve of the man.

I welcome the introduction of the Bill to amend the Constitution. The subject involved has evoked much discussion and has caused much polarisation. I appreciate that there were difficulties in regard to the phraseology of the legislation and that these led to the delay in bringing forward the Bill, but now that we have sight of it I trust that the bitterness and the division can be forgotten.

I have maintained all along that the issue is one on which there should be all-party agreement. If we had had the document sooner perhaps we would have avoided much of the bitterness and political punching that has occurred.

When the Coalition were in Government they put forward terms of reference for an all-party Oireachtas Committee on womens' affairs. There is much need for such a committee. We do not have any up-to-date documentation, report or commission on the problems, the needs [756] and the expectations of women. I have written to the Taoiseach asking him to re-enact the committee but he has not done so. In the forthcoming election he must stand judged on that issue.

Deputy FitzGerald got no response to the terms of reference he put forward. We were prepared to negotiate on those terms of reference but there was a lack of will on the part of the Taoiseach to enter into an all-party committee situation, a committee which I would envisage as consisting of men and women who would work together for the purpose of producing a document that would be broader in its objectives and wider in its scope than the excellent report brought out by the Commission on the Status of Women and presented to the then Taoiseach, Mr. Lynch, in 1972.

During the two elections of recent times one of the main promises made in relation to women was that the question of the extension of dental and optical benefit to married women would be dealt with. Such a change is of crucial importance. There are about 517,000 women engaged in what are known as home duties and they have the dubious claim to having the worst teeth of any group in Europe. The reason for this is that successive Governments have never considered it necessary to give these women the right to dental benefit under the health services. While the worker has a right to dental benefit it is seen fit that the wife's teeth should rot or fall out. I would remind the last speaker from the Government benches that while his jets will be coming into Knock the teeth of the women of Ireland will be falling out. I regret that this has been bandied about as an election issue for far too long.

I must refer to the issue of law and order, the worsening crime rate and the absolutely unbelievable reluctance of this Government to give the Garda the powers they have been seeking. We can talk in abstract terms of law and order but the reality is that a man who lives in Dundrum in my constituency has suffered his fifth break-in. He phoned me in desperation and told me that between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. on last Thursday the Garda station in Dundrum was manned by one [757] garda at the station, two plain clothes detectives, and two uniformed gardaí in cars. That is five gardaí looking after a vast sprawling area stretching from Rathfarnham to Donnybrook. This is reprehensible. How can the Minister for Justice say that he is aware of the situation and is trying to do something about it? It is not good enough to ask the public, through media advertisements, to assist him. This man in Dundrum has a business and cannot now get insurance for it because it has been broken into five times. He is suffering very unfairly because the Fianna Fáil Government have resisted right along the way, and we can speculate about the motives for resisting, the introduction of legislation which would make it possible for the Garda to do their job. It is like asking the Garda to do their job with their hands tied behind their backs. All our constituents are suffering but particularly the constituents of urban Deputies. I do not believe the crime rate is quite as bad in rural areas or small towns. We need new law and order legislation and I do not see that there is a will to enact that. There is plenty of talk, plenty of advertisements, plenty of very cheap capital being made out of it, but nothing is being done.

A Cheann Comhairle, can you tell me how much longer I have?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John F. O'Connell Zoom on John F. O'Connell I am very sorry, Deputy Fennell. You have another 15 minutes.

Mrs. Fennell: Information on Nuala Fennell Zoom on Nuala Fennell I see you are listening very attentively to me.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John F. O'Connell Zoom on John F. O'Connell I was until I was interrupted.

Mrs. Fennell: Information on Nuala Fennell Zoom on Nuala Fennell I wish to refer now to the lack of commitment on the part of the Government to the social iceberg of our time, the problem of marital breakdown. We in the Coalition Government during our too-short term, even with our political and economic difficulties, were prepared to set up a committee. We badly need this committee to look into this area. We do not know the extent of it numerically, in terms of suffering, in [758] terms of the effects on our children. We need to record and document what exactly is happening. We have a constitutional ban on divorce. We accept that. That is a reality. But it is not good enough to allow that constitutional ban to inhibit us in this House from recognising that each one of us has a responsibility to respond to the social and the legal problem which is being created here. I would indict the Government on their lack of recognition of this problem and their lack of will. They have reneged on and done nothing about the industrial action by District Court clerks. That has left many men and women without access to our courts. That has been going on since last May. Social workers, community workers and voluntary workers all over the country know that this is surely a Government without very much conscience. The people who are affected by this industrial action do not have trade union organisations, are unlikely to be walking up and down outside Leinster House with placards and may not even figure in the great voting force. Such people should have a voice and should have clout in this democratic institution.

The Government have shown a disregard in the area of marital breakdown and problems are being created and built up for the future. A lot could have been done since the Government took over from us. There is a lot that we can do when we come back into Government. I accept that there will be a lot of economic restraints. What about legislation to change the status of illegitimacy, community services order, family law reform, new criminal justice legislation? Important as it is, not everything has to do with money. We must have a social reform programme which recognises that for too long we have left social issues which concern women, children, families, communities, by the wayside. I want to bring them in from the cold. I am sorry that this Dáil term, like the last one, will be absorbed with electioneering. It saddens me that our Dáil is being so treated. We must have a brave economic policy and a brave policy for social reform. This is something we must face. We in this party are prepared to do it and we are prepared [759] to face the public. I believe there is an electorate here who want to change this Government. I suggest they deserve the right to vote to achieve that.

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

Minister for Fisheries and Forestry (Mr. Daly): Information on Brendan Daly Zoom on Brendan Daly I do not wish to be sidetracked by the contribution of the previous speaker but I should like to make some comments especially in regard to the comments she has just made concerning women's rights and women's issues. I should point out to the Deputy that she now has the opportunity in the Clare by-election to approve of one of three women candidates going forward in that by-election. She mentioned specifically the absence of women on boards of State-sponsored bodies. Here is an opportunity and if she is not satisfied that her own lady candidate is capable of winning that seat, certainly we have a very able candidate in the person of Síle de Valera, who I have no doubt will represent the women's point of view in this House when she gets an opportunity in that by-election. For that reason I take with a certain amount of salt the remarks of Deputy Fennell in regard to the opportunities provided for women to enter this House and speak here. There is now a glorious opportunity with three women candidates in County Clare. The Deputy should avail of that opportunity and campaign down there.

Might I say also in regard to the whole question of women's rights that it was the present Taoiseach when Minister for Finance who established the Commission on the Status of Women. It was the present Taoiseach in the last Fianna Fáil Government who provided the finance to enable the Council on the Status of Women to have those offices in Merrion Street where the Deputy attended the other night. A Fianna Fáil Government provided those facilities. The recent most progressive piece of legislation dealing with women's issues was debated here when I was Minister of State in the [760] Department of Labour, legislation granting paid maternity leave to women. It is the most progressive legislation of that kind in Europe. There was not a single contribution from the Fine Gael benches at that time. I recall clearly that over 50 sections of the Bill went through the Dáil without a single contribution except a short reference from the spokesman at that time. I think it was Deputy Mitchell, but in fact he said so little that it was hard to discern what the Fine Gael point of view was on those issues. When the former Deputy Nolan was Minister for Labour he established the task force on child care facilities for working parents. I have yet to see from the period of office of the former Coalition Government——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney Zoom on James C. Tunney May I ask Deputies to desist from holding pre-election meetings on the balcony?

Mr. E. Collins: Information on Edward Collins Zoom on Edward Collins That is an interesting statement.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly Zoom on Brendan Daly Can Deputy Fennell name any item of importance in relation to women's rights which was dealt with by the Coalition Government when they were in office? There is not a single sign of any evidence to support the view that they had any concern on this subject. In this House at that time very few questions were raised or any other moves made by Fine Gael in relation to women's affairs generally.


Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly Zoom on Brendan Daly It is a little hypocritical for the Deputy now to come along and claim that there is no concern with women's affairs on this side of the House. I refute that. The evidence is there to support us and show that at all times we have been concerned and have taken the measures necessary to deal with these issues. We did this very clearly. The record is there for all who want to see it.

In this debate I listened to Deputy Yates, whom I must compliment. He made a very constructive and positive contribution in regard to the present economic situation and put his points of view [761] quite clearly. By contrast, at the beginning of Deputy Fennell's contribution we had the type of insulting whispering campaign which is mouthed by a handful of Deputies in Fine Gael. They deal in personal insult and accusation in a whispering way which does not have to be substantiated.

We had evidence of this in Ennis recently when the leader of Fine Gael off the record was prepared to make reference to the methods used in isolated areas of Clare where people vote in private houses. This only happens when there are no public buildings or schools in an area. The Fine Gael leader asked specifically that his remarks would not be recorded but they were later referred to by his director of elections in a radio programme when he said that unorthodox methods were used in isolated areas in Clare in successive elections. It was not only an insult to people who give their premises but an insult to people who conduct the elections.

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley Zoom on Michael Begley Tell us about the fishermen.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly Zoom on Brendan Daly It is regrettable that prominent people such as the Leader of the Opposition would engage in such activity. I support the vote of confidence proposed by the Taoiseach.

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley Zoom on Michael Begley What about the fishermen?

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly Zoom on Brendan Daly I will deal with the fishing industry later on.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn That is the trouble.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly Zoom on Brendan Daly We have demonstrated we have the will and determination to realistically face up to our problems. When we took up office the country was shaken by indecision as a result of a deeply divided administration.

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley Zoom on Michael Begley Fianna Fáil are divided.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn How many resignations have there been from the Cabinet?

[762]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney Zoom on James C. Tunney Both Deputies will have an opportunity to contribute. Please desist from interrupting.

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley Zoom on Michael Begley We are only helping the Minister out.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney Zoom on James C. Tunney We have a long evening ahead of us and there will be ample opportunity for you to make a speech.

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley Zoom on Michael Begley Twenty five days.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I do not wish to advise you but I should like to draw your attention, Sir, to rulings of the Chair when on several occasions the Chair suggested to speakers that they should not invite interruptions.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney Zoom on James C. Tunney Deputy Quinn can safely leave matters for the Chair to the Chair. The Chair will handle the responsibility of the office in the fashion in which I have done to date. I will be intolerant of any persistent interruption in respect of my protecting whoever has the floor whether a Minister or an Opposition Deputy.

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley Zoom on Michael Begley It could be the Chair's last day.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney Zoom on James C. Tunney Beidh seans agat.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly Zoom on Brendan Daly There was a difference in policy and principles in the Coalition Government. One headline was that the Tánaiste at the time of the snow storms was incapable of moving the snow from the streets of Dublin. While he was endeavouring to do the best he could — he had enough problems — the Taoiseach was sunning himself and had to rush back almost immediately to take over. This is the kind of administration that Deputies would have us believe could be put in place of the Fianna Fáil administration which has shown a determination to face up to the issues and prepared a document to put before the House.

I was present for a number of contributions [763] and the economic plan was the basis of every contribution made. We asked for a debate on this but the Opposition wanted a vote of no confidence. The first major endeavour of Fianna Fáil was to restore confidence in every sector of the community. We carefully assessed the economic situation and set out The Way Forward. We identified areas which needed to be dealt with. The document has been criticised as not being comprehensive. Alongside this document a full and carefully prepared one will be published dealing with agriculture. Nobody would expect that a full programme dealing with agriculture could be put into a document like this. The same goes for fisheries and forestry. We will do this in co-operation with the various interests involved. We will then have The Way Forward and detailed plans for agriculture, fishing and forestry. I met representatives of the Irish Fishermen's Organisation and also executives of the regional fisheries boards and other organisations who have an interest in fisheries and forestry development.

It is important to look at some of the decisions made in other countries which have a bearing on our situation. In France over the last four-and-a-half months they have had an emergency pay and prices freeze. When that ends it is likely that prices will increase by 10 per cent and also transport costs. There are plans in France to cut public service wages in real terms and curtail pay increases to 3 per cent. It is also proposed to put a levy on all salaries in order to fund unemployment schemes. We see a wage increase of 8 per cent for 4½ million workers for 1982 as against a 10 per cent increase which was anticipated by the workers. The French Government are running into difficulty with the unions because the anticipated wage increases cannot be paid. The same applies to the French social security scheme. Sweeping cuts are anticipated in social security payments. There is a major deficit of about £600 million in their social fund and this will be reflected in a curtailment of unemployment benefits.

There is 13 per cent unemployment in [764] Belgium and the unions are being asked to accept voluntary pay cuts and a 5 per cent reduction in working time in all industries. If companies do not employ the required number of people a percentage of the amount they would have paid in wages will be levied on them and this will help deal with unemployment.

Japan has the largest ever tax revenue shortfall. The situation is so bad that they introduced a supplementary budget and simultaneously massive Government cutbacks were taking place. There is at present a freeze on the salaries of all Government employees. There has been a substantial cutting-off of funds from central government to regional and local government areas. This will cause problems for the Japanese administration.

We have always spoken very highly of the West German economy and admired the way they handled their economy over the past number of years. What is the position there today? It has been described as a difficult, delicate balancing act, trying to balance public sector savings without intensifying the general weakness in demand which is present in the German economy. Unemployment is rising from 1.8 million to an estimated 2.5 million by the middle of next year. There has been a massive fall-off in tax revenue. Borrowing requirements are much higher than expected, almost £10 billion as against an anticipated borrowing requirement of £6.5 billion. There will be no real income growth in 1983. There will be cutting back in State subsidies. There will be a compulsory deduction from salaries of the higher income earners to fund some of the schemes to deal with unemployment. There will be drastic cutbacks in social spending. Increases of 5.6 per cent proposed for pensions for the elderly have been postponed for six months, until 6 July 1983. The less well-off sections of the community — with which we have always been concerned, as have the German Government — have had their modest increases postponed because the Government cannot afford to pay them. They have also imposed a 1 per cent levy on medical insurance. There has been stagnation in the economy for 1982 and a zero growth [765] rate has been predicted for 1983. All this is happening to the West German Government of which we have been so proud and which we have tried to copy in so many different ways. They are granting student loans instead of student grants as had always been the case. Patients are now paying a share of their hospital bills. This never happened before. Lower levels of unemployment benefit and unemployment assistance are being given at a time when unemployment figures are increasing. There is threatened industrial unrest there because workers are being asked to forego some of the major advances in social welfare benefits and facilities they enjoyed for many years. For example, there has been an almost total slump in the output of cars in West Germany and exports for September will be 16 per cent below the projected figure.

In dealing with our present situation we have to take into account what is happening all around us. We cannot isolate ourselves. Anyone who thinks there are any easy options for the future should think again. We may be forced out of office now or later because unpopular decisions will have to be made. People should bear in mind that whatever administration take over they will have to face the same options and decisions that politicians the world over have to face. The sooner we get from our Opposition the kind of constructive contributions we had from Deputy Yates and the support needed to deal with the problems facing us, rather than negative votes of no confidence which will not help solve our problems but will merely aggravate the situation, the better. Even after a general election we could have a situation where, because of the indecisive results, the Government would not be in a position to do the job that must be done.

I am sorry to see Deputy Begley has left the House because I wanted to touch on fisheries and the future of the Irish fishing industry. When I came into office I found a certain amount of disarray in relation to fishery policy. There has not been a meeting of the Council of Fishery Ministers for months. There had not been any interest shown by the Coalition [766] Government and they did not make any effort to work out a fishery policy or to have any discussions on the establishment of a common fishery policy in Europe, which will be the cornerstone of any fishery policy we have. It must be recognised that in dealing with a national fishery policy there are European implications and it is difficult to build a framework of a national fisheries development policy without first establishing a community fisheries policy, which has not been established over the last five or six years.

I instructed the officials of my Department to undertake bilateral discussions with officials of various member states of the Community in an effort to determine what the situation was in relation to various member states and how we could improve our situation. A series of bilateral discussions were held at official level and I immediately set about a series of ministerial bilateral discussions with member states, especially those who had a traditional voice in our waters, where we felt it was necessary in the long-term interests of the industry that we would have these waters for our own fishermen.

I met the French Minister and impressed on him that French fishermen had traditional rights within our six to 12- mile area and lost no opportunity to highlight the plight of the Irish fishing industry. I drew attention to the rights French fishermen had in areas like the north-west and south-west coasts. I succeeded in establishing an exclusive 12-mile zone in the north-west and south-west zones, the areas around Killybegs and Castletownbere, two major fishing harbours in the west.

I made representations to the Council of Ministers that we were interested in pursuing a policy which would bring about the formulation of a common fisheries policy at the earliest possible time. We have vigorously pursued this matter and endeavoured to convince member states that we have a special case, that our fishermen have special problems and that we need special conditions to enable our fishing industry to develop further.

I embarked upon a tour of all the major [767] fishery harbours and had discussions with fishermen to find out their views on the common fisheries policy, as well as on marketing, processing and other matters of interest to the industry. I saw for myself what was needed in places like Killybegs, Castletownbere and Clogher-head. I was at all times prepared to visit these places and discuss with people the issues and priorities and how we should tackle them, in consultation and co-operation with bodies such as the Irish Fishermen's Organisation who have a legitimate voice in such a discussion.

Immediately upon taking office I took an interest in the problem of the herring fisheries in the Celtic Sea. Deputy Collins was present at a function in Dunmore East when I spoke at length about this matter and the need for a proper management and conservation plan based on the scientific information available. I stated that the ban on herring fishing would not last longer than was shown to be necessary by the scientific data. At European level I undertook to make available scientific data on improving stocks at the ICES Council. This is the body which makes recommendations to the EEC Commission regarding the opening or closing of fisheries. We submitted to the ICES Council the up-to-date data on fishing stocks. The council did not reject the findings of Irish scientists but they asked that further research be carried out during the 1982 fishing season and said that further data would be required before they would be satisfied that stocks had expanded to an extent that would allow a further limited opening of the Celtic Sea herring fishery. At the ICES Council in July the evidence was not fully accepted. When the fishing season opened we began larval surveys and submitted the information to the council. This is on the agenda at the council meeting now being held in Copenhagen and they are discussing whether they will recommend to the Commission any further opening of the Celtic Sea.

A central issue in any fishery policy at either Community or national level must be conservation. Stocks of all of the nine [768] species of fish which have traditionally been fished by Irish fishermen are under pressure and in many cases severely threatened. Proper conservation measures must be taken to preserve stocks of herring or salmon or any other species. Nobody should think there can be a free for all because there has been a slight increase in herring stocks in the Celtic Sea or in salmon spawning in the Atlantic.

It is difficult to include in the time available all the topics I should like to discuss. Charges have been made about inactivity on my part regarding the ban on fishing in the Celtic Sea. I wish to point out that this ban was first introduced five years ago by the then Minister for Fisheries, Patrick Donegan, during the period of office of the Coalition Government. This was as a result of a decision made by the Council of Ministers based on the scientific evidence available and at the instigation of the then Irish Government. I find it hard to take this type of criticism from people who know quite well why the ban was first introduced and the reason it is necessary to have a proper management and conservation policy.

There is tremendous potential in a variety of areas which have not so far been exploited. We need to develop our marketing strategy. The point was made earlier that there is on the one hand a ban on herring fishing in the Celtic Sea while on the other hand herring are being dumped and the ordinary man in the street cannot make sense of it. There is a basic weakness in the marketing area and I have placed very strong emphasis on streamlining our marketing efforts and taking further initiatives in the marketing area.

This is why I undertook earlier this year to seek out further markets, to try to consolidate our markets and to try to ensure that, in the event of our getting adequate stocks of mackerel and other species from the European Commission as part of the quota arrangements, we would be able to market those and we would not have this chaotic situation of, on the one hand, quotas and restrictions of catches and, on the other hand, dumping [769] of fish which is unnecessary and must be stopped. It is very easy to say that but it is difficult to do it. You cannot expect people who are making their livelihood from fishing to wait around to have these facilities provided for them. Processing facilities are needed urgently in many areas so that we can avoid dumping, but dumping has been the traditional way in which fish have been disposed of where there is a glut of fish and markets not readily available for them. It is difficult to provide a steady market if you do not have continuity of supply. We have this difficult problem which can be dealt with by first of all providing the facilities and the markets and then as far as possible providing continuity of supply which would be essential if we are to have success in the whole undertaking.

One area in which I have had a very special interest since taking office is the whole question of the training of fishermen and especially our young fishermen. Fishing today is a highly expert and complex area. It will be necessary that our young fishermen and our fishermen of the future will be fully trained and conversant with all the various issues relating to the industry and will be fully capable of adapting to the new technologies and fully trained in the skills and the precision so necessary now in the modern expanding fishing industry. For that reason it is urgent that more care should be taken in the training of our young fishermen and the development of the skill of fishing which is now going through very dramatic changes. With modern technology and changes in gear and equipment there is an urgent need for more intensive training of young skippers and people who wish to take part in the industry.

One area which applies not only to the fishing industry but generally across the board is the transition from training to working life. There is a need to make it smoother and easier for young people to move from the school and the training involvement into the practical fishing experience or any other job. I feel strongly, as I did when in the Department of Labour, that between schools, industry-linked schemes and so on there is a very great need, which will be [770] greater in the future with the changes and technological advances which are taking place, to have young people who will be able to adapt to the new technologies and to change from one occupation to another. In the whole area of new technologies, whether in the fishing industry or any other section, one of the challenges that will face young people will be the challenge to face up to changing technologies and changing industrial developments. In the future we must have a more adaptable work force who will be capable of moving from one occupation to another and as well as that we will need the capacity to provide the information which will help us to keep abreast of these changes in technology. That applies to the fishing industry as to other industries.

I have been concerned about safety aspects at sea and a working party in the Department have been looking at this whole area to see how we can improve safety requirements and encourage fishermen and people engaged in the fishing industry to utilise fully the safety aids at their disposal. For far too long we have seen tragedy and families almost wiped out because safety standards were ignored. There is and will in future be a need to make people involved in the industry more familiar with the dangerous tasks involved.

One area of tremendous importance which will have far-reaching consequences in the future of fishing generally is aquacultural development. I can see in the future the sea being farmed as the land is farmed at present. I see tremendous potential and opportunity all around the coast for aquacultural development and fish-farming projects. We are now only at the pioneering stage of these developments which can provide employment opportunities spreading into remote and isolated areas where it is important to create employment. With a sound aquacultural development programme we can provide jobs in isolated areas at very little cost in farming the sea as we farm the land. As I have said, we are at the pioneering stage where the opportunities are enormous if we tackle them properly and ensure that we [771] develop it properly. We have set up in a number of places, especially along the coast, pioneering fish farms and reared salmon can be obtained in Mulroy Bay and other bays along the west coast. This is an exciting development which offers tremendous potential and opportunity for us.

As time is running out, I would like to refer to the forestry section of the Department and the opportunities I see there. I was appalled when the fact was brought to my attention after I took office that timber was being exported and sold off at £1 a ton. Thinnings were being exported from Waterford and other places around the countryside. The contract was entered into because at the time we had no place for these thinnings and unless the forests were thinned permanently, long-term damage would be done to our forestry. It was essential that we would continue to tend the forests, clear out thinnings and get rid of waste timber. With the provision of the new Medford plant in Clonmel we will have an outlet for this type of waste. The contract I have referred to has almost run out and this will never happen again. It came about because there was a surplus of timber thinnings which otherwise would have had to be destroyed, and we had a possibility of getting a return for them. Now we will have the opportunity in the future in the Medford plant to use the waste thinnings and that export will no longer be necessary. We have set down in The Way Forward the basis for the timber industry. The further document which I will be publishing relating to this will spell out more clearly and in more detail than I can go into here in the time at my disposal the whole area of timber development into the year 2050.

This vote of confidence should be supported by all sides of the House. Even at this late stage perhaps the Opposition should reconsider their position and withdraw their opposition to this vote of confidence.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn In order to facilitate the House and because my comments should of necessity be brief I do not propose to [772] take my full allocation of time, if that is of any benefit to you, Sir, to know it. Following on the Minister for Fisheries and listening to what he had to say, one cannot but think that it would be a good day for this country if the kind of progressive work about which he talked could in some way or other continue on and that we did not have to bring down the Government, as I believe they will come down tomorrow, to enable the kind of things he talked about to be implemented. Like him, I believe we can farm the seas and we can farm the forests but — this is why regrettably the Government have to be brought down — the Minister said that he foresaw a time when we would be farming the seas around Ireland in the same way that we farmed the land. Unlike him I hope for my children and for my children's children that we never farm the seas of this island in the same way as we are currently farming the land.

We are farming the land very inefficiently, very wastefully and very unproductively. We are exporting jobs every day because of farmers who refuse to allow their cattle to be processed in the country but who insist on taking the highest price in whatever foreign market will grant it to them. If we farmed the bogs of Ireland with the same reliance on private enterprise as we farmed the small farms of the country or that the Minister now proposes to farm the seas, the bogs of Ireland would still remain undeveloped, under-utilised, and we would not have Bord na Móna today. That is the fundamental difference between the Labour Party and Fianna Fáil and, with respect to Fine Gael as well, in relation to how we can get ourselves out of this crisis.

There is a consensus in the House now that there is a crisis. The Labour Party did not discover it now: we said it 18 months ago in the Labour Party document of 1981. We all agree that public spending cannot continue by resort to borrowing, particularly from overseas. We all agree all that has to stop, but that is where the consensus ends. Fianna Fáil in The Way Forward, although perhaps it may be appropriately described as the way out, are very explicit on how they [773] will cut public expenditure. They state quite clearly, for the first time ever, that they will attack the welfare State which it has taken years to establish. They will cut social welfare spending, indiscriminately freeze public sector pay. From the lowliest forestry worker, to whom the Minister recently referred, to the highest paid public servant in the land the same set of criteria will be applied. On the capital side they will cut expenditure, some of which will have immediate consequences particularly in the public housing programme for local authority tenants and others will have more damaging consequences.

The Minister referred briefly to the Forestry Section of his Department in his brief contribution. He did not refer to the fact that the acreage proposed for planting this year is less than that of last year and that there are massive secret hidden cutbacks in the forestry industry which, if we do not maintain the planting programme that is required over the next five to ten years, will mean we will not have any waste timber products to feed into the plant the Minister spoke about in Clonmel. That is the kind of indiscriminate cutbacks which are to be made.

Why are these cutbacks necessary? They are necessary because there is a consensus between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael that the taxation base cannot be extended, that there is not any more room for taxation. Fianna Fáil mean by that that they recognise they cannot any longer screw from the unfortunate PAYE worker the maximum amount of taxation they have screwed over the last three years. Therefore, there is an end to more taxation, but they refuse to contemplate the possibility of some form of capital taxation. They refuse to contemplate the possibility of extending tax in relation to property. Most incredible of all, at a time when local government is literally disintegrating around the country, they refuse to take legitimate and legal action against the thousands of large farmers — there are only large farmers involved — who have uniquely benefitted from our entry into the Common Market, who are now hiding behind a High Court decision and are withholding millions of pounds of [774] rates from local authorities.

Is that a just, equitable plan in which we can have confidence, representing ordinary working people? How in all honesty could the Minister come into the House, briefed as he is in a Department of the future, if there is any future in the country, and ask the Labour Party not to vote against the Government tomorrow at 5 p.m.? How can the Minister justify in his county that a small rural farmer who depends on some road work in the winter from the county council — the Minister knows many of them because he represents many of them — this Christmas will not have any such work because the large farmers are refusing to pay their rates?

The country has got itself into a sorry mess, which was not made by the people. It was in the main made by the disastrous Fianna Fáil manifesto of 1977 which, because it relied on private enterprise to create new jobs and recognised that that was a political and economic lie, had to cover over that to a certain extent by creating 30,000 new jobs in the public sector in the full knowledge that there was not the economic base to sustain the wealth required to service those jobs. Now, because of that, they are threatening every job in the public sector.

Let us look at what we mean by the public sector. The public sector is the Garda who protect me and my children outside this building. It is the ambulance driver who will come to my aid, take me to the nearest hospital and, unlike America, the bastion of free enterprise, will not look to see my Visa card and my cheque book before I get into that ambulance. It is the sector where a national school teacher teaches every child above the age of four who presents himself or herself at that school and does not want to see the kind of money those children's parents can provide. The public sector is the libraries in Pearse Street and other places where children and teenagers studying for exams can go in and study in the warmth of an open room with desks, where there are not three or four other people sharing the same room. That is the public sector the Labour Party know and that is the public sector Fianna Fáil [775] want to cut indiscriminately. If this is republican justice in the centenary of the birth of Éamon de Valera I am glad he is not alive to see it.

There must be major radical changes in the way in which we run the country. The children playing in every school yard in the country know that because they have looked at the way their parents are trying to come to terms with costs that are increasingly mounting. We are agreed on that, but not this way forward, this way out or this way continuously having your hand on the throat of ordinary working people who have carried the burden for too long and who to this day carry the burden of the wealthy sections in the community who have benefitted from inflation, the property owners and the large farmers who come out to add insult to injury in counties throughout the country refusing to pay their rates.

The House can reasonably ask is there an alternative. The Minister of State in the House at the moment can say that the Government have put their cards on the table, that this is the way they believe we should go forward, leaving aside the unproductive arguments of the past. Fine Gael, since they precipitated this vote of confidence, indicated this morning what they think should be done and, regrettably for the country, there is not much to choose between the two in economic terms.

I do not know if Fine Gael are prepared to say where and how the cuts are to be made. Are they prepared to tell us which section are to carry the burden first? Perhaps Deputy Harte or some other speaker from that party will indicate to us in advance where the cuts might occur. In any event, the people have a right to know the answer. Consequently, I await with interest what the Fine Gael speakers have to say in this regard. What the Labour Party have to say is that we recognise the crisis, a crisis that confronts not only this country but the entire western world and by extension the entire globe. It is not some kind of passing crisis which like the bad winter of last year gave way inevitably to a fine spring and long summer. [776] We live in a world that has changed totally. We cannot return to the past because the Third World or the emerging countries of Africa, Latin America and particularly South-East Asia will not return to the good old colonial or post-colonial days when they supplied us with cheap coffee, rubber and tea, when they dutifully supplied raw materials to industrial Europe where they were processed before being sent back. As the late Seán Lemass said often, the world does not owe us a living: we must pay our own way and earn our own living among the nations of the world. How can we begin to do that, not just for this generation but for future generations?

In terms of the economic crisis that confronts us we must expand the tax base within our economy. It is not sufficient to say that we cannot raise any more taxes. We can. We can extend the tax base in respect of property and wealth. We in this party do not suggest that a simple expansion of the tax base will solve the nation's problems. Neither will it generate a good deal of revenue but it will generate a good deal of justice. If we are to put any kind of social cohesion back into our society, social justice must be perceived and put into effect and to that end we could start on the taxation level.

Secondly, we must begin seriously to eliminate waste both in respect of the public and private sectors. We must give serious consideration to the way in which money is spent both publicly and privately and we must consider how that money can be controlled and used productively. To give an example of the kind of politically-inspired waste there is in terms of the public sector, I would cite the case of the Minister for the Environment having ordered An Foras Forbartha to transfer themselves from Dublin to Cork. This is being done without any consultation among the staff. The Minister has taken this action in order to make possible a property development on the quays in Cork. In other words to make possible a private development he has ordered a Government body to transfer themselves at considerable cost from Dublin to Cork.

I am glad that Deputy Creed is here to [777] hear me mention what I regard as a considerable scandal in so far as this move is concerned. When An Foras Forbartha arrive in Cork, a city of immense hospitality, they will have to pay more than the going rate per square foot to rent space in that office block. When these mechanics of the operation have been completed we can expect some smart economist or some right-wing crazy politician who supports Fianna Fáil to say that all of this is more evidence of waste in the public sector. This is merely an example of the kind of in-built political waste in our system and I am sure that anyone in the gallery as well as anyone in this Chamber can cite his or her own example of such waste. Why can we not start eliminating that sort of waste? To do so might upset the cost balance particularly approaching election time and with the cost of a full paid advertisement in the Sunday Press costing between £4,000 and £5,000. Instead, the softer option is taken and we find some drugs being removed from the list in so far as medical card holders are concerned. These are the people who do not contribute to election campaigns. Or we remove bandages from the elderly or discontinue the supply of free milk in the schools, changes that people will not notice very much. That is an example of republican justice in the year of the late Mr. de Valera.

Let us turn now to the private sector, that sector who pay little or no corporation tax, who have their staff trained by AnCO, who have their exports provided for by CTT, and who get their grants for new factories from the IDA. The only aspect of the private sector that is private are their accounts. Their books are kept private in particular in terms of the workers, the people whose PAYE contributions pay for CTT, for the IDA and for AnCO. There is no effective assessment of the kind of value we are getting in relation to the aids given to the private sector. If, however, with all that kind of rigorous support for these fine virile merchants of the private enterprise, they find themselves in trouble, the first people they call on are the State Ambulance Service, Fóir Teoranta, who in turn are [778] paid for by the PAYE people. What kind of return in terms of efficiency do we get for that kind of service? There are millions of pounds being poured into the private sector by the public sector and it is because of that that we have been asked to make cuts. The Irish Management Institute which is funded by the public service have experts who continue to tell us how to be efficient but they, too, should apply the criteria of efficiency to private industry in relation to the way in which taxpayers' money is used in the institute's backyard.

The next step that must be taken is the effective control of our financial institutions. I am not seeking some kind of dinosaur, nineteenth-century socialism that has as a slogan the nationalisation of the banks and the taking over of all their assets. The purpose of the thinking behind the necessity to control the banks and other financial institutions is based on the sure economic assertion that until such time as these institutions are controlled and regulated, we will not be in a position to determine investment policy.

It is very popular not only in this House but in Dublin Corporation and Dublin County Council or in local authorities elsewhere to criticise the building of office blocks. In economic terms the reality is that 70 per cent of the office blocks built in this country are built with public money. The largest single property developer in this city in so far as office blocks are concerned are a State-owned company. There is no reason, given proper social, efficient and effective control that the vast resources of working people's pensions cannot be put to more productive and effective use.

Within the operation of our financial institutions I will cite one example of gross inefficiency which is designed to benefit in particular the merchant and associate banks. I refer to the legal situation whereby building societies who account for 90 per cent of the loans for all new private houses which in turn amount to 80 per cent of all new houses constructed or approximately 20,000 units per year at an average cost of £40,000, are precluded from extending bridging finance to loan applicants until [779] such time as a sale is closed. This is on the grounds that the title of the property must be established, cleared and conveyed to the society before a loan cheque can be transferred. By simple amending legislation and by a levy on all mortgages to ensure title, which may be defective, and to indemnify depositors with building societies we could eliminate bridging finance as a financial problem in our society. By simple efficient management of our own resources we could eliminate that. The biggest problem for many young house purchasers is the problem of closing the sale and coming off bridging. That is the final nail in the coffin. If they try to contact the Revenue Commissioners to get tax relief they are knocking on a closed door. Why can we not do it? Who is preventing us? Who benefits from it? The associated banks. It is money for old rope for any kind of financial institution putting out a bridging loan of, say, £25,000, all of the risk is taken away, for two or three months and netting something like £600 or £700 at least. The present Government seem frightened to take on the banks or to take on somebody. This is the Government in whom we are asked to have confidence.

At the end of the day, even with an increase in the taxation rates, even if the Government got in £100 million of extra capital taxation, which would be very difficult to achieve in a fiscal year because of the way that tax must be collected, even if waste was eliminated with the full co-operation of staff in both the public sector and private areas, we still would not bridge the gap between what we can afford to spend on public services and what we are currently spending. This is where the Labour Party diverged diametrically from both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. At that stage if we have to look at social services expenditure let us look at it from the basis of need and from the basis of those people for whom it was actually constructed in the first place.

It was fashionable in socialist thinking in Europe to consider that a means test was wrong, that somehow or other it offended against the purity of the idea of a free-for-all system. The Arabs have [780] softened the cough of many people in relation to how much money is around generally. I am coming around to the idea that a means test might be a very good thing provided the means test is for the rich instead of what it has always been, a means test for the poor. If you apply a means test for the rich to the health services and if you say: “We are an open democratic society. If you like private medicine you pay for it 100 per cent. If you want to go to St. Vincent's Nursing Home and have a private room with two or three nurses and nice food that is perfect. We are a republican, open, free, democratic society. You can have it but you pay for it 100 per cent. If you want to send your children to third level education because they are bright, because they are intelligent or maybe because their marriage prospects might be improved that is fine. Send them but you pay for it”.

What is the reality? In housing there are in-built secret hidden subsidies for the rich in relation to mortgages. In education, the further down the line you are in terms of class, in terms of privilege, the less you get. In health, the richer you are the healthier you are in terms of what you can get, subsidised by the PAYE sector. It has been the most successful rip-off of any social welfare system by the middle class anywhere in Europe and we have done it here in the era of republicanism of Eamon de Valera. Will it be touched? Will it be altered? Not one bit of it. Instead the free school bus is gone. I am sure Donagh O'Malley is turning in his grave. The free school is gone. The free milk is gone. The extra school classrooms are gone. The free school books are gone. These are the soft, easy targets for the republican party. If there have to be cuts let those who have done well in the good years carry not their fair share but more than their fair share I say, because they have had it good for a very long time. Why should a generation of people be hit, who are only for the first time getting something that was denied to them by conservative societies and Governments for so long and which was their right in every other European country? Just as they are beginning to hope [781] that a bus conductor's child can automatically go to university with some sacrifice, why should that be whipped away from them when sections of our society which can carry more than their fair share are not being touched?

Let us have cuts in the public service, let us have, if necessary, cuts in our social service, but let them be positive discriminatory cuts designed to remove the hidden subsidies that are there deliberately for the benefit of the rich at the expense of the poor. If any of the two major political parties want to talk to us after this election those, among other things, will be some of the things we will be talking about as far as I am concerned.

The Labour Party warned the nation and campaigned against the common market in 1971. We said it would produce a major transformation in the Irish economy, it would eliminate many industrial jobs in traditional urban areas and correspondingly it would produce great wealth in the agricultural area. It did both. We were told by the great advocates of the common market on both sides of the House that there would be a marvellous regional policy and a marvellous social policy and that the EEC would give us special consideration for our resources and our weak economy. The Minister for Fisheries today spent about 20 minutes trying to explain why the EEC are not prepared to give us any consideration in relation to fish. We are now importing from other EEC countries good products which we could produce ourselves and which, in many cases, are simply being dumped in our economy by other EEC countries or EEC countries like Britain acting as clearing houses for cheap goods produced in third country production areas. For a limited period of time, utilising the necessary provision of the special protocol attached to the Treaty of Accession, an Irish Government could apply for a temporary ban or a temporary surcharge on all imports in order to preserve existing jobs which are disappearing at the rate of one per minute in the Irish economy at present because of the ravages of indiscriminate imports. Not even marathon running keeps one fit enough for that. I relish it with the same [782] enthusiasm as everyone else in the House. I do not mind fighting an election, knocking on people's doors or arguing on the doorstep as I have tried to argue here today on policies and not personalities but what saddens me is the probability that we will be back here — some, not necessarily all of us — and the essential questions will remain the same. The essential problems will remain except that they will be worse as a result of five or six weeks of indecision.

In contributions from the Government and the Fine Gael sides I and my colleagues in the Labour Party do not see any substantial shift or change in the direction of policy. Yes, we will have nicer people in office, better-spoken people, better-behaved people, people who are well-dressed and articulate nicely, according to the set to which they belong. But if you live in a two-roomed flat in Pearse House and you are 79th on the waiting list and they are going to build only 50 houses in your area because of cutbacks, it is not much consolation to learn that the new Minister for the Environment is a very nice, compassionate and concerned individual who will explain to you more gently and with greater sympathy the reason why he can do as little for you as his predecessor did, because of the inability of the new Minister's Government as much as of the old Minister's Government, to make fundamental changes in the structures of our society.

Mr. F. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey Zoom on Frank Fahey Since the action which precipitated this motion of confidence is based mainly on opposition to the Government's economic plan, I propose to deal with some positive aspects of the plan. This plan provides the main economic framework for our development over the next four years. It is a framework which lays down the guidelines for economic recovery and development. It accurately identifies the deep-seated defects in our economic structure and it sets out the paths which must be followed to achieve economic growth.

It sets out in a concise manner the monetary and fiscal policies which must be pursued in order to bring a balance [783] into our public finances. It lays down practical policies to be implemented in order that the objectives of the plan are attained. It is an excellent document in that it accurately identifies the problems, prescribes the remedies and lays the framework for their implementation. But its success depends on how we as a Government and as a nation put into action the sectoral policies whose objectives must be realised if the targets of the plan are to be met. There is an agreement between economic commentators across the board that the monetary targets in the plan must be achieved if we are to avoid financial chaos.

The achievement of those targets is to reduce the current budget deficit and so reduce foreign borrowing and to control public expenditure and these are firmly in the hands of the Government. Now that the targets are set all that is required is the courage in the face of inevitable opposition to achieve them.

This Government have that courage to carry through those difficult decisions. Their failure to see them through, the first indication of flinching on the part of the Government will see this plan going to the wind. But it is the economic area that poses the real challenge to the success of this plan, bringing the balance of payments deficit under control, boosting exports, controlling inflation, bringing about industrial growth.

The assumptions which are made in the plan, which are based on successfully achieving those disciplines, have already been described by economic commentators as “wishful thinking”, “only an aspiration”, “pie in the sky”. I believe that those assumptions can be achieved if we tackle the social and financial malaise which is now deep-rooted in Irish society. Financial rectitude in monetary and fiscal policy will solve little unless we can achieve the assumptions in the plan which the pessimists have already written off as not being possible.

I am convinced that we can reduce the balance of payments deficit. We can improve productivity in existing industry; we can create jobs; we can boost exports if we make simple changes which are [784] basic to financial rectitude and economic growth. We have continually failed in the past to correct those problems which are strictly within our power to correct.

I want to outline and elaborate on those problems and their solutions which are outlined in the plan. The greatest cancer in this country at present is the importation of millions of pounds worth of foreign products which are or should be manufactured in this country. We have as a nation lost our pride in Ireland in so far as the purchase of Irish goods are concerned. We have lost our nationalistic pride and we have pursued a selfish short-sighted policy of buying foreign products at the expense of Irish products.

Successive Governments have failed to make any impact on the correction of this problem. It is not good enough to make an annual contribution to the Irish Goods Council and expect them to solve the problem. In recent times the acute effects of this economic madness have become clear and we have had various remedies put forward to solve the problem, including a suggestion by one of the country's leading trade unions to ban imports. This plan sets out a clear path by which we can bring about the action necessary to solve that problem. There is one simple solution: we must convince the Irish people to buy Irish goods whenever and wherever possible. The serious consequences of not buying Irish goods must be clearly pointed out to every man and woman in this country. We must motivate people to see the immediate benefit to each and every one of us if we now take a conscious decision to buy Irish. A massive campaign must be put together by the Government put before the people and kept before the people. This is the kind of campaign that Opposition parties should be advocating now rather than what they are advocating at present. This campaign must be given the lead here in Dáil Éireann and relentlessly pursued by every interested group across the country.

We must make people determined to the extent that they will become intimately aware of the folly of buying foreign products, that they will clearly see the wider benefit to themselves of buying [785] Irish goods. We must achieve the stage where a person going into a shop to buy a product will realise that his or her job may be on the line if the purchase which is made is not that of an Irish product.

Hundreds of extra jobs could have been created in factories like Dubarry or Tuf if a decision had been taken by the majority of people to support the Irish shoe industry. There is a Dubarry or Tuf in every county. We can bring such factories alive. There are family men who are afraid of being made redundant. There are young people walking the towns of Ballinasloe and Killarney who are unemployed. We can help find secure employment for our young people by buying Irish goods. This would not cost millions of pounds in public expenditure

I could go on all day about the scandal which takes place every day as we show disregard for our fellow countrymen by purchasing foreign goods. We as a food producing country promote foreign food products in our supermarkets. We import vast quantities of vegetables. In the building industry we purchase millions of pounds worth of foreign products every week, timber, slates, nails and so on. I gather from an advertisement in last week's Sunday newspapers that we will import cement. Cement Limited are fighting this and their advertisement states: let us not import unemployment. Who loses out if we import cement? We all do. That is a clear message. What amazes me is that one would think that a new phenomenon. The fact is we import unemployment every week.

We import £60 million of goods through Dublin port every week. Penetration of imports have increased from 29 per cent in 1977 to 37.5 per cent in 1980. At least this advertisement by a private firm may provide a new beginning. Even if we convince people to switch to Irish goods our problem does not end there. We find that many of our products do not match up in quality and price. There is vast potential for improvement in efficiency, productivity and quality control which companies will respond to given buoyancy in sales and Government financial backing required to modernise and [786] replace outdated equipment. In this context I welcome the specific proposals in the plan in relation to company development plans and the company by company approach.

We cannot deny that the quality of some Irish goods is below that of imported products. Take a man's suit and compare the difference in quality and finish between Irish suits and their French counterparts. One will immediately see how difficult it is to blame people for buying foreign products. There is an urgent need for action to improve quality, efficiency and design. How can we hope to boost exports if we cannot compete at home? Sales and marketing of Irish products must be improved. Guaranteed Irish products must be brought to the forefront in our shops and supermarkets.

If we substitute Irish goods for imports we can create employment and reduce the balance of payments deficit. We could then enjoy the ensuing benefits such as a reduction of our bank interest rate. To be successful this campaign should be debated on an ongoing basis in the House. It is from here that the inspiration must come and people must be properly informed. The media would have an important role to play in providing this information. The campaign should also be introduced throughout our educational system.

People will respond. I am confident of that. Young people will see their future enhanced by the success of this campaign. We have a challenge we can meet and overcome or we can continue as before and do what Fine Gael wants us to do — have a general election. The commentators will then be proved right and the assumptions in this plan will amount to wishful thinking. Controlling cost competitiveness is the key to the economic strategy in the plan. Wage restraint is given as the main discipline in achieving this objective but other assumptions are also made. The welfare ethic must be replaced by the work ethic. There must be a greater incentive to work, greater reward for hard work and initiative and stringent control over the payment of benefits to those who do not work.

[787] We cannot deny that for many people it is more profitable not to work. Over the years people have become dependent on the State. In the minds of many people we have become a welfare State to such a degree that many people do not want to work or are working and receiving unemployment benefit. There is no incentive for people at work to do better and show initiative and increase productivity because we have a regressive form of taxation particularly in the PAYE sector where people who work overtime or improve work practice are taxed at a high rate on their additional earnings. This situation must be reversed so that on increased productivity people pay a lower rate of income tax. How can we expect people to produce more if they have to give their extra income to the taxman? This Government are committed to redress the tax imbalance. This plan has proposals to ensure a fair and equitable tax system which will give an incentive to people at work.

The number of man-hours lost through certified illness clearly shows that the issue of medical certificates must be controlled. It is ludicrous that we are paying £3 million per week to people who are allegedly sick. If there is this degree of sickness in our community we must look closely at our expenditure of almost £20 million per week on the health services. I disagree with the sentiments expressed by Deputy Quinn when he spoke about the need to increase expenditure in this area. This must be controlled. I do not believe there is this degree of sickness in Ireland but rather there are lazy people playing the system. There must be stringent control on this wastage of public money.

I welcome the plan of action contained in the economic plan in regard to social welfare abuse. The problem is so deeply rooted that radical action is required to put it right. I look forward to this being followed up by the Government.

A further strategy in the plan which must be successful if it is to reach its target is growth in exports. The targets laid down have been described by economic commentators as an economic [788] wonderland. However, a positive policy framework in regard to manufacturing industry is contained in the plan in particular in relation to key areas where new measures are required such as management expertise, marketing, industrial relations, research and development and export development. Various policy measures are outlined. Little attention is given to this positive area of the plan since it was published. We have the structures to improve performance in this area such as the Irish Management Institute, IIRS and CTT. We must ensure that those and other agencies are expanded and that their influence is brought into the shop floor of every company. They have the ability and the expertise to play a very crucial role in preparing Irish industry for export markets. Unfortunately up to now their contribution, although significant, has had a limited effect due to the shortage of resources.

I believe there is a vast potential in the export of Irish food products. We like to think of ourselves as being among the finest food producers in the world, and so we are. However, while we have concentrated on developing high technical industry, we have forgotten about the great potential of agriculture-based industry. The result is that, while we produce the finest meat and dairy products, we have been unable to process and market those products and get their full economic return. With the singular exception of Kerrygold butter we have failed to make any significant impact on foreign markets, in particular the EEC. We have direct access to a market of 900 million people. We have a high quality raw material but we have failed to process and market our food to get a full added value and to sell it in the supermarkets throughout Europe.

The economic plan states that this problem should be tackled as a matter of urgency. There are thousands of jobs that can be created if we establish a proper food processing and marketing industry. I believe the way forward is the establishment of a high-powered body — call it the Agricultural Development Authority along the lines of the Industrial Development Authority — and make it responsible [789] for the processing and marketing of Irish food products. Its members should be drawn from all the sectoral agencies at present involved. It should co-ordinate its efforts and its objectives should be to develop the food processing industry so that all agricultural products being exported would have their full added value. In this context I believe all Irish food products should be identifiable as being Irish with a common brand name, a uniform marketing approach along the lines of the successful Kerrygold marketing campaign for Irish butter. This body must be given the massive financial support necessary to achieve its objective. However, we are guaranteed a high return on investment in terms of jobs and export sales.

I have talked a great deal about motivation. The way forward is put before us in this plan but there are many aspects of political life, as we have seen from the Opposition benches, which still hinder that way forward.

Our educational system has in some respects failed to adapt to our changing society. Young people still want to work in attractive areas such as the civil service, the banks and careers in nursing. There are 2,008 girls being interviewed in the Regional Hospital Galway this week for 90 places. We have not yet succeeded in getting across the attractions of modern industries, the challenges of entrepreneurial activity, which are clearly laid out in this plan.

We have a young highly motivated population who are prepared to work hard if they are given the proper incentives and rewards. They are our greatest asset. They are my generation. Despite all the gloom and doom, this is a great time to be living in Ireland. There is a way forward, as the Government have shown in this plan. I am proud to give my vote of confidence to this economic plan and to this Government. I find it difficult to understand the opposition's stand, especially that of Fine Gael, in precipitating this vote of confidence. I am surprised at the attitude of the Fine Gael Party in putting down a motion of no confidence because this plan contains much of what they advocated, in particular [790] what their leader advocated. This might explain why he did not come into the House to oppose it when it was being discussed.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange What is the point of having a good motor car if you have a bad driver?

Mr. F. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey Zoom on Frank Fahey As a Deputy making his maiden speech, I could not let this opportunity pass without referring to the political situation which results in the kind of opposition I have been talking about. Since I became a Member of this House I have been saddened by the performance of Members here. It is no wonder so many people — young people in particular — are cynical about politicians and the political system. It is sad to see the kind of opposition I have seen here. That opposition has been characterised time and again by personal attack and innuendo and by statements which do not agree with facts. I would like to see in future a change in the attitudes of some Members who disappointed me and I would like to see the issues being discussed rather than Members indulging in personality conflicts. I am convinced that the young people want the issues debated. They want leadership in these areas. Sadly, in my seven months here the Opposition did not appear to have any interest in discussing those issues. Their main interest was in personal attack and short-term political gain. That is why we are discussing this motion tonight.

The people want the points in our economic plan, some of which I have outlined, discussed. They do not want another election, especially the young people. For that reason, I believe young people will see that the motive behind the action which precipitated this motion was not in the country's best interest.

I would like to pay tribute to the new leader of the Labour Party, a young man. I wish him well and hope he will never stoop to the type of personal attack and innuendo we have heard from others in this House.

Mr. E. Collins: Information on Edward Collins Zoom on Edward Collins The Fine Gael Party have forced a no confidence motion onto [791] the floor of this House because they are satisfied and convinced beyond doubt that the present Government are not capable of governing the country and are led by a Taoiseach in a manner which is not doing the country justice. I came into this House in 1969 and from 1969 to 1973 we had a stable majority Fianna Fáil Government led by Jack Lynch. It was a straight case of Government and Opposition and there was plenty of cut and thrust but by and large it did work. We had a Government. From 1973 to 1977 we had a Government composed of Fine Gael and the Labour Party and that, too, was a good Government run by a straight, honest Irishman, Liam Cosgrave.

We then had the disastrous election manifesto published by Fianna Fáil in 1977 and designed to put them back into power at any price. Fianna Fáil were successful in fooling the people into believing that the country could be run on the basis of continuing budget deficits. That Government, led for most of the time by Jack Lynch, had a 20-seat majority in this House. I remember thinking that this would be a good Government, that we would see decisive action, moves in social policy, steps taken in the industrial and agricultural sectors which would help their expansion, measures to deal with social welfare, industrial relations, modernisation of the civil service and even changes in the procedure in this House to make us more efficient. I held hopes that we would see decisive action taken by that Fianna Fáil Government, but it was not to be. It was our weakest Government, up to the time of the present Government. Opportunities were not grasped and from that time there has been economic decline of large proportions.

Deputy Haughy took over as Taoiseach in late 1980. He went on television and gave an excellent performance, spelling out the ills of the country and what he would do to cure them. In the event he did nothing but ran away from the problems of agriculture, industry and the public service. He was a most inept Taoiseach until June 1981. We in Fine Gael, together with our partners, formed a [792] minority Government at that time. We did not shirk our responsibilities We saw that the financial position had deteriorated so drastically that unless serious steps were taken our finances would be in such dangerous straits that the IMF would have to be called in. We took corrective action in July and in our January budget this year we again did not shirk our responsibilities. We were defeated on that occasion by the Independents, by Deputies Sherlock, Kemmy and Loftus in particular.

In February this year we had another indecisive election following which we had another hung Dáil. This time the wheeling and dealing of Fianna Fáil were more obvious. The Gregory deal, while beneficial to Dublin, was detrimental to the rest of the country because there was an unfair allocation of finances to other places badly in need of money for hospitals, housing and infrastructural development. These projects have had to be cut to ensure the survival of Deputy Haughey. We were in an unsettled situation. The Fianna Fáil party were unhappy with Deputy Haughey. They did not want him to be Taoiseach and there was an abortive attempt to remove him as party leader.

Since then we have had a number of incidents which have shattered the confidence of the people in the Government. There was the Pat O'Connor personation allegation and the situation which arose when the Attorney General was allowed by the Taoiseach to leave the country in circumstances which, to say the least, were not acceptable to me. I am convinced that the then Attorney General, Mr. Connolly, however innocent he is — and I have no doubt that he is innocent — should have remained in the country to give whatever assistance the Garda felt necessary. That the Taoiseach of the day should have allowed him to go showed great ill judgment.

A case against the brother in-law of the Minister for Justice was allowed to proceed when an essential witness had been arrested in the Six Counties. That case should have been postponed until the witness was available. It raises serious questions about the Minister for Justice [793] which to this day have not been answered. There is also the matter of the Garda escort car which crashed in County Kerry and in which a machine gun was left. This has again cast doubts on the Minister for Justice. We have not heard in public full details of this incident but it certainly leaves much to be desired when a State car is abandoned in a ditch and a machine gun is left inside. This was a serious breach of security.

Then there were the resignations from Bord na gCapall on foot of allegations of financial mismanagement and other malpractices. In any other decent democratic country there would have been an inquiry established, but not here. Under the present administration these things are pushed under the carpet and forgotten. There should of course have been an inquiry into the affairs of Bord na gCapall immediately the allegations appeared in the newspapers and most certainly when the chairman and members of the board resigned.

There are also the allegations against Údarás na Gaeltachta and this matter has not yet been resolved to the satisfaction of this House.

We have moved our motion of no confidence because we have seen the incapacity of the Government to handle the nation's affairs. They came in on a bloom and boom tide and they were going to dispel the gloom and doom. I am afraid the present Minister for Finance, Deputy MacSharry, will have to swallow those words in the coming general election campaign. The March budget was designed to have a deficit on current account of £679 million. It now transpires that juggling of the VAT at import payments has misfired drastically and seriously and has jeopardised the structure of the State's finances. It was, of course, in the first instance a sleight of hand operation in which moneys were transferred from next year back to this year. It was not correct budgetary practice. However, it was done but it transpires now that the budget deficit will be around £1,000 million, that is one-third more than was originally budgeted for. How, I ask the House, could a Government allow a situation to arise where the [794] planned budget deficit became so transparently wrong each month of the year after March and to continue without taking corrective action? That is the question the people will ask which the Government have not been able to answer.

They have blatantly brought in some cuts in a haphazard fashion. The health cuts are designed to hit the poorest worst. I came across a couple of cases in my advice centres where medical card holders and elderly people with chronic illnesses have not been allowed to get freely the basic medicines they require. That is a serious social injustice which this Government have allowed. I would suggest that if there were to be changes in the health service to effect savings it would be only fair to ensure that the better-off would be hit more harshly than the less well-off. The cuts in Garda overtime when in urban areas vandalism and assaults have reached a level which is causing serious concern would not have been necessary had this Government done their work and governed this country properly. The cutbacks in education and free school buses will hit families in remote areas most harshly, families who may not be able to afford to pay for the school buses and basically these cuts may deprive less well-off families of the essential basic education for their children. On this question of social justice this Government stand condemned.

Having failed to govern the country, having been involved in the strokes, deals and wheeler-dealing which I associate with Chicago rather than with Dublin, the Government decided to bring out a plan. They brought out a plan in 1977 and called it their manifesto, and we have seen where that has led us. This vote of confidence which we put down and which was superseded by the Government's own motion involves the Government. It does not refer to the Taoiseach, and that is very important because every member of that Government over there is responsible for the sad financial plight of this country and Deputy ODonoghue and Deputy O'Malley cannot absolve themselves from blame simply by resigning and washing their hands of the affair, decent men though they may be. The fact [795] that the Taoiseach could not have a secret ballot to find out the confidence of his own party in him is indicative enough of his weakness in that party, so he forced two Ministers to resign, but that does not absolve them, and they were two leading Ministers in the original manifesto of 1977. Deputy O'Donoghue is credited with being the architect of that ill-conceived manifesto which fuelled inflation and unemployment to their present extremely high levels.

The young people will not thank Fianna Fáil. Nearly 30 per cent of the numbers on the live register — which are probably around 170,000 but with concealed unemployment perhaps nearly 200,000 — are young people, school leavers, young men who left school with ideas of having jobs, building careers, getting married and settling down. How deeply disillusioned they must be when they find that they cannot get jobs. How deeply saddened those young people must be with this Government. Deputy O'Donoghue and Deputy O'Malley, and for that matter Deputy Colley — another decent man whom I have known since I came in here as being a kind gentleman — cannot be absolved from what happened in the 1977-81 period or from the debacle of Government we are witnessing now.

When I read The Way Forward it led me to the conclusion that they put in the figures first and wrote the story around them. It is fiction, of course. The assumptions are very badly and unsoundly based. I have not heard any of the reputable research organisations come out in favour of it or accept its assertions and assumptions. It seems to have been written to suit the political situation. That is not a plan. It is only a fairy tale. As a boy I read programmes of economic expansion which impressed me but which did not work either.

It is extremely difficult to plan an open economy like we have, which is so dependent on growth in other countries in Europe and in America. It is almost impossible to lay down a physical plan. An indicative plan, which I suppose this plan is, is also extremely complicated. [796] The assumptions in this plan are open to serious questioning. I have yet to hear accredited economists agree with its assumptions or with its conclusions. I have no doubt that the plan was written to suit the political situation and, perhaps, to strengthen the Taoiseach within his party. It has failed to do that because I believe we are fairly satisfied that we will have an election in the near future.

I was Minister of State in the Department of Industry and Energy in the last Coalition Government and I remember when I came over to this side of the House last March being attacked by the present Minister for Industry and Energy about the damage the Coalition Government did to promotion abroad. I remember the thoughts he threw across the floor of the House in the early days of this Government. How untrue they were and what damage has been done by the Fianna Fáil Government in industrial promotion is now very evident. New industrial projects have almost completely dried up. Why is this? There are a number of reasons which directly affect the Government and the Minister for Industry and Energy. The rate of inflation here, which has been fuelled by this Government is twice that of our competitors in Europe. That is not attractive for American or European investors. No attempt has been made by the Government to ensure higher productivity. Our rate of productivity is not high enough to justify industrial expansion. This has not been recognised by the Minister for Industry and Energy or by the Government.

The interest rates, though marginally decreasing, are extremely high and are a serious disincentive to future industrial progress here. I am satisfied that new industrialists would go elsewhere rather than here because of the high interest rates here at the moment. The Minister for Industry and Energy and the Government have damaged the international image of the country abroad. They have damaged relations between this country and our nearest neighbour, Britian, in a very serious manner and to such an extent that relations seem to be at an all-time low. That is directly attributable to the [797] political machinations of the Taoiseach. His implicit support for the Provos in the Northern Ireland Assembly is in black and white. I know he comdemned them afterwards. His speeches abroad have the same implicit support for violence in Northern Ireland. That is a very sad thing for this part of the country because I believe we have a serious obligation, on every possible occasion, to condemn violence, men and women of violence and all those associated with violence especially with violence in the North.

Our standing abroad as a nation has been questioned because of our failure to handle our financial affairs. This has been exacerbated by the carrying on of the Government. I believe the greatest damage of all, with regard to the attraction of industrial projects, has been the political instability which has been obvious to everyone. That does not promote industrial development and has not done so this year. That can be directly attributable to the posturing of the Taoiseach in relation to Government in this part of the island.

I would like to refer to one aspect of my responsibility in the Coalition Government, that is in relation to Whitegate. The purchase of Whitegate has been criticised by a number of reputable bodies. I supported the purchasing of Whitegate. At the moment we are in a glut situation as far as supplies of oil are concerned but should the situation arise — I have no doubt that will arise some time in the future — that we are cut off from our source of oil supplies I believe we will find that Whitegate was a very valuable investment from the point of view of the economy as a whole. I am satisfied that this Government or any other Government have a responsibility to ensure that there is a security of oil supplies for the continuous running of industry and agriculture.

The whole area of oil storage has not been tackled fully. Nearly half of our EEC 90 days' stocks of oil are held outside the country. We have failed to build up the necessary infrastructure to ensure that we have our own 90 days' stocks. No final decision has been taken with regard to the Whiddy terminal whether it is to [798] be modernised, rented or bought. We are certainly at risk until we have 90 days' stocks of oil and possibly even a higher number of days' stocks. I believe we will rue the day that we did not take the necessary steps to ensure our stocks of oil. I was very surprised at the decision of the European Commission to take us to court on the 25 per cent off-take of oil products from Whitegate. I had discussions in Brussels, when I was Minister of State, regarding this matter and it seemed to be accepted then that the matter was in order. I suspect that the British oil companies who detested the move of the Government to become involved in Whitegate——

Mr. Lawlor: Information on Liam Lawlor Zoom on Liam Lawlor They were the Deputy's neighbours when he was talking about them a few minutes ago.

Mr. E. Collins: Information on Edward Collins Zoom on Edward Collins I am talking about the British oil company who wanted to have full control of the Irish market. Those oil companies have brought undue pressure on the Commission to bring us to court but I trust that as happens often in European affairs, a satisfactory agreement can be arrived at between the Irish Government and the Commission on the matter.

From the point of view of security, the purchase of Whitegate was correct. There is grave responsibility on the Government to ensure that at any time we have within the country a 90-day supply of oil. This means the development of an infrastructure that does not exist at the moment.

I should like to refer also to fisheries. My understanding of the situation in relation to herring fishing in the Celtic Sea is that the Irish Fisheries Research Centre are satisfied that the stocks of herring are such as to allow at least a limited opening of the Celtic Sea for herring fishing this year. I agree in principle with what the Minister said earlier today — that we cannot allow unrestricted fishing of our fish stocks. I accept fully the need for good management in this area and for good development of resources but I am satisfied from the information available to me, information that herring of between seven and eight years old have [799] been caught recently in the Celtic Sea, that there should be a limited opening of the Celtic Sea to fishermen. As I am being allowed to raise this matter on the Adjournment, I shall not go into it further now.

Our farming industry has come through a very difficult period. Those farmers who in the past five years invested heavily in equipment, buildings and stock have found themselves being pressed harshly by the commercial banks. I have never defended the purchasing of land at £3,500 or £4,000 per acre. It should have been obvious to everyone that that was not a viable proposition, that such prices were not justified in terms of the yield that could be expected.

However, there is an obligation on the Government to support full-time farmers who find themselves in financial difficulties. I do not consider the measures taken to date to be sufficient in this field. The banks should be asked to desist from bringing so much pressure to bear on the farmers in cases where in the long-term the farmers can be considered to be viable. I would ask also that the ACC be requested to give farmers every possible opportunity both to justify and to rectify their financial position.

Farming is one of our greatest assets. It is the backbone of our economy. I trust that the expected increase of about 25 per cent this year in farm incomes is realised because the purchasing power generated in that way is of great significance to the economy as a whole.

The subsidies in respect of calves and sheep have not measured up to expectations. There are excellent markets abroad for both sheep and cattle though there is a controversy surrounding the export of live cattle. This is a difficult question. I presume that most farmers would prefer their cattle to be slaughtered at home, thereby giving much-needed employment, but the meat industry has always been sensitive to the changing situation in terms of price and demand. I do not think that the Government should impose any ban in regard to the exports of live cattle. I say this in the knowledge that workers in Clover Meats, [800] for instance, would wish all cattle to be slaughtered here, but the cattle are the property of the farmers who are entitled to get the best price possible for them.

Perhaps the meat industry has failed to grasp the marketing opportunities available but that is not the only reason for our failure in this whole sphere. Some of the Middle Eastern countries prefer to slaughter animals by way of ritual, so that is a market that cannot be supplied. I was pleased to note the Minister for Agriculture's visit to the Middle East and Libya. The point is that we must maintain a balance and ensure that the farmer gets the highest price possible for his produce. It must be said that there has been a failure on the part of the beef industry to go out and tackle the markets and to ensure that meat would be the better commodity to sell.

I welcome the anti-abortion amendment as contained in the Bill just published. I understand that the wording of the amendment caused considerable difficulty in legal terms but the experts tell me that the wording that has emerged is good and acceptable. Undoubtedly the Bill will give rise to dissension in some quarters but I am told that it will not be possible to improve on the wording. Our parliamentary party have indicated their acceptance of the wording in the proposed legislation and we are committed to ensuring in Government that a referendum is held on the matter. The end of March has been mentioned as the deadline.

I should like to refer now to matters concerning my own city and county of Waterford, an area which in the past five years has suffered serious industrial setbacks. In the early seventies we had the closure of Dennys, of Goodbodys and other long-established industries. They had been established during a period of protection but because of bad management mostly and also because of changing market situations they could not survive the competition brought about by our membership of the EEC. I pay tribute to the IDA for the excellent job they are doing especially at this time of very difficult circumstances. By and large the Authority have been successful in Waterficul [801] ford. Their four-year plan, 1978 to 1982, for the area has been more or less achieved; but unfortunately job losses have totalled 2,229 whereas the target figure in the plan was about 2,200. The number of jobs created has been 2,046. Yet, the net result has been a loss of jobs. In the context of a growing population this has meant that unemployment has increased very seriously. The number on the live register has increased from 2,250 in 1978 to about 4,200 and it is increasing.

The job losses have occurred in places like Siekmann's, where 119 jobs were lost; in Wellworthy's, where 103 jobs were lost; in Munster Chipboard, a major indigenous industry, where 186 jobs were lost; and in the National Board and Paper Mills, where 496 jobs were lost. In the last two weeks further grave industrial news was heard in Waterford. The Irish Leather Group are to let off 202 men in Dungarvan. This is a town which has been particularly hard hit in recent times by the closure of Quigley Magnesite. Only today the gates of Waterford Iron Founders are being closed and 240 men and women are being let off. Waterford Iron Founders were part of the TMG Group. Not too long ago the group had a restructuring injection of £6½ million. It is my information that none of that money went to Waterford Iron Founders. I am to have a further discussion to find out if this is true and if it is I will be taking a very serious view of it. There have been allegations that too many directors and managers were brought in from outside and other allegations which caused me concern. The net result is that Waterford is a disaster city. In manufacturing industry in 1978 there were 9,750 employed. In 1982 the figure is more or less the same, probably less in the last two weeks than it was in 1978. That is an intolerable position for any major city to find itself in. I am calling on the Government to take the necessary steps to bring in large and small industries not only to Waterford city but to Dungarvan, Cappoquin, Lismore and Tallow and indeed Portlaw and Tramore. There is a need for an injection of industry, a need to re-establish confidence in industry. I would like [802] to have Waterford classified as a designated area although I believe the Minister would not accede to that and I understand the reasons why. I am certainly seeking a clear statement from the Minister for Industry and Energy and from the Government that serious steps are being taken to bring industry to Waterford.

If we are to have an election I hope it will be a decisive one. I am deeply unhappy about hung Dáils. I hope the electorate will give Fine Gael an overall majority if at all possible. When we come back here next month the people will see that Fine Gael are united behind our leader and with regard to policies. I hope they will entrust us with the responsibility of governing this country as it should be governed.

Mr. Lawlor: Information on Liam Lawlor Zoom on Liam Lawlor I should like to address my remarks to the document The Way Forward because it is the basis of the Government's present policy, to assess what we are trying to achieve and to give a clear definition of Government policy. Since coming to this House in 1977 I have received many documents as part of Government programmes and planning. Some of those documents have proven to be factual and some of them amazingly inaccurate. One could assess this document as a two-stage programme. Stage one is the intention of the Government to get the Government's finances into order. Why is that necessary? I have come to the conclusion that the looseness and the laxity and the lack of accuracy in planning our finances over the period of a number of different Governments has been quite amazing and positively unacceptable for the future. This document spells out that there is a great need to get the current budget deficit, the capital programme, taxation income and the various other components that make up State finances accurately into order. It has become the accepted practice in this House, under consecutive Governments, for the Minister for Finance of the day to rise here in the early part of the financial year and outline his financial strategy for the year. We put that budget through and it was implemented. After the summer [803] recess we have been coming back into this House and, whichever party or parties were in Government, we very readily walked through those lobbies again voting Supplementary Estimates. We can all take responsibility for this major lapse and for accepting this over-spending or downturn in income. I hope the first part of this document will ensure that that type of financial planning comes to an abrupt halt.

Whatever criticisms may be levelled at the Government, for the first time in many years we have got the spending side of our finances under control for the second half of this year. That in itself is a major step forward. It has shown a real determination on the part of the various Cabinet Ministers to get to grips with their duties. On the income side there has been a fairly dramatic drop. That probably should have been forecast, or the likelihood that there would be a downturn in incomes and taxation should have been recognised. We must endeavour to establish what has caused this method of running the country's affairs to be accepted. Have the politicians been at fault? Have the public servants been at fault? Have the capabilities of the people been at fault? Have there been circumstances which could not have been foreseen? I would suggest that much of the overspending and the lack of out-turn against plan and programme has shown up among the politicians of all parties and the public service a deal of inefficiency which just will not be acceptable in the future.

One can give many reasons why this can happen but it is not acceptable. We have now rolled up a massive borrowing situation, the bulk of it for very good use. There have been major achievements. There were major Government investments in education, in infrastructure, in telecommunications. All of those were very necessary and might not in a five-or ten-year programme pay for their investment but they do have a spin-off effect. They were essential and we rightly borrowed for those things. However, in many other areas there have been over-spends [804] which have put a tremendous strain on us in the present situation.

As a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee dealing with semi-State companies I had the opportunity to meet at first hand in an all-party committee with my colleagues from all sides of the House over 20 semi-State companies. We had the opportunity of bringing before us management, trade union members and other interested parties in the major semi-State companies. One could not but be disappointed with what we found in some of the very large State companies. Earlier I asked did the politicians or the public servants not foresee situations. We had the situation where many semi-State companies who retain expertise from the private sector to assist them in their capital projects also make grave errors in financial planning. One cannot but recall NET, the Irish Sugar Company at present, Irish Steel with a major problem at present—a number of very major capital programmes where all the expertise was put forward and yet we did not seem to be able to manage affairs efficiently. It leaves us at the commencement of this decade with a great debt to service and to do so we must collect taxation. The burden of taxation has become excessive and the problem is compounded when you have an international and national recession. As a result, in the second half of this year—one can see it in the private sector particularly job losses have resulted and tax revenue has dropped leaving us facing an even greater problem than we were projecting at the half-year stage. For that reason alone, phase one of The Way Forward was essential. If one was never planning forward, it is essential to get this aspect of the nation's affairs under control.

Deputy Bruton in his contribution on the document recognised most of these aspects and the reasoning behind the list of suggestions we are making as to how we must get our finances under control, but there was no recognition that the document was the correct recipe. Therefore I recommend the House to consider that aspect in dealing with the motion before the House. Probably the document should be renamed The New Way [805] Forward because that is what the House must give to the country, a new approach and a new acceptability about various aspects of Government policy, about personal behaviour in employment and in attitudes. We must show the way. Have we been doing that in the past? Has not a great emphasis been laid in the political arena on Cabinet Ministers, the remaining Members of the House being seen as part-time politicians mainly preoccupied with constituency matters? Have we been accountable for our actions in handling the finances of the nation? From the backbenches of all parties, have we been sufficiently probing and constructively critical of whoever happens to be in a Government position, in the interests of the nation? The party situation and the working system of Dáil Éireann do not allow for that kind of open constructive discussion and debate. You have the Opposition opposing for the sake of opposing.

This plan was the first major item on the agenda. We on this side say it is the most crucial policy we have brought before the House for many a day. During the long summer recess we had many calls by the Opposition to recall the House. When we reassembled, after the first half hour the House emptied and Members went about their constituency business and the House droned on to the debate we are having now and which we were having on The Way Forward. That has happened in successive budget debates since I came into the House. Speakers on different sides of the House keep the debate going by one saying how good the particular policy is, the other criticising it for what is lacking and no consensus in the national interest in some areas where there must be agreement.

I am coming to the conclusion that there is great need for a forum where consensus can be reached. Unfortunately, in the past two Dáil terms this has not been the case because of the marginal voting situation, but there is great need for a major Dáil reform to allow Members of the House to get together in committee and do real, constructive and practical work in finding consensus on issues that are non-party political but are in the [806] nation's interest. I hope that if we are successful in this motion of confidence that matter will be discussed by the Committee on Procedure and Privileges and, if we are not, that it will be high on the agenda of the new Dáil when it assembles. This matter has been talked about for far too long and there is too little action. We have the experience gained on Dáil reform based on having worked with Opposition colleagues on the Joint Oireachtas Committee on semi-State Bodies where we were able to investigate the working of over 20 companies and where we were able to produce a consensus report on each occasion. On no occasion was there dissension regarding the content of the report. What has happened those reports? This points the finger right into the arena of Government finances and management. Many of the main recommendations have not been implemented by consecutive Ministers from various parties who have held office since those reports were completed.

The document, The Way Forward, recognises that no longer can Government Departments and semi-State companies and local authorities, as is happening in Dublin city and county at the moment, willy nilly accept funding and finance that is made available to them through this House and consistently and regularly come back here to find that over-spending of vast amounts of money, running into hundreds of millions of pounds, on a variety of Government and semi-State projects is quite acceptable. That must stop and it is the intention in phase one of this document that that will be the case. I do not think anybody in the House will disagree with that.

Having said what is necessary, let us face the fact that in 1983 we must be very practical and forthcoming in our views as to what holds for the economy, existing employment and future employment. It will be a difficult year. To make progress, move forward and create jobs will be a difficult task. Why should that be? Is there anything that can be done to improve the situation? If we look at major economies, for instance, Britain and America, in the management of their affairs they set about achieving a five-point [807] programme. They had to get interest rates down, reduce inflation, get the current budget deficit under control and introduce equity into taxation. Their major problem was the high level of unemployment. We have the same percentage of our workforce unemployed as have the USA, Britain and Germany. One cannot help but feel that it is being politically parochial and negative to criticise various aspects of Government policy. These difficulties must be faced up to. We must be practical and realise we must take our medicine before we get a cure.

That is the main thrust of our document. Suggestions and various comments were put forward. The document was criticised for not having enough detail. Others say there was too much optimism in stage two. That may be the case but we must get through stage one first. If we do, stage two will fall into line, hopefully with an upturn in the international trading position to give us momentum and create extra jobs.

Fundamental to stage two of the programme is job creation. There is a major shift in employment trends in industry. There are many people in my constituency who have been made redundant. Some firms have closed down because of antiquated capital equipment, a decline in the need for their product, overmanning in some technical industries and a downturn in markets. Major shifts in technology will create substantial problems for Governments all over the world and we will not be the exception. We must recognise that the implementation and utilisation of advanced technology will have a spin off effect on job creation. We can pour money into certain industries and shore them up in the medium term but we must accept that technology is here to stay. We must, through various retraining programmes, gear people to take up employment in different sectors. That will be difficult particularly with a young population coming onto the workforce.

There is need for co-ordinated Government policy in dealing with technology. It will have to be taxed substantially [808] to allow us to create a fund to assist those who will be made redundant. Some industries will not be able to compete competitively. I am thinking in particular of the car assembly industry in my own constituency. Here is an industry where there are four assembly plants within a radius of one mile. Each of them are cutting back. Fiat Ireland have finished assembling; Datsun, Toyota and Motor Distributors are not looking forward to 1 January 1983. Ford in Cork had to complete a major refit and produce a new product in order to capture a market. That industry can operate with great efficiency but with few employees. We must recognise that and face up to it. In discussions with the trade unions we must introduce equity into the situation and allow new technology to come forward together with a social balance. That will demand positive political leadership. We must deal with that situation as vigorously as possible in the early part of this decade.

I should like to refer to some of the major documents which have come before the Government and see what has happened to them. Two major commission reports were prepared for the Government, the Commission on Taxation and the Commission on Industrial Relations. If we take the Commission on Industrial Relations, we in the House cannot be too proud about what was done with that report. It made some far-reaching recommendations which will be difficult to implement. It was fragmented before it commenced. Trade union participation was reluctant initially and then they withdrew. They got some concessions and various changes in labour policy and legislation which allowed them to have a final comment on the report. It has been in the hands of successive Governments for the past number of years. We must face up to this situation. We must bring the trade union movement and employers with us and show them the way to rejig labour practice, demarcation lines, relativities and the whole facade of the web of bureaucratic difficulties which have been allowed to grow in the past 15 years. We will not dismantle them overnight. It is possible we would [809] not want to dismantle many of the procedures but we must have recognition that we will never again see a repetition of the industrial action — picketing and closure of strike bound operations for the most unbelievable and meaningless reasons — such as we witnessed in the seventies.

Because of the recession that difficulty has receded but that does not mean it has disappeared. I urge the Minister for Labour to meet the simple request from the employers although it may have major consequences within the trade union movement. The employers demanded that the Government give a response to the recommendations in the commission's report and to outline if they are acceptable. If the commission's report, which is very important and comprehensive, is not quickly dealt with and the main recommendations implemented, it will lose its importance and over a number of years some of the recommendations will become irrelevant and that ground cannot ever be regained.

The recommendations in the report of the Commission on Industrial Relations should be implemented where possible. This is such an important document that we should have an all-party committee to look into the recommendations and see what can be implemented. Is there ground for rationalising the trade union movement? Could Government funding be made available? Politicians and others like to talk about being overworked, but is there anyone more overworked than the full-time trade union official? Many of these men work in small trade unions and endeavour to do a number of jobs going from site to site all over the country trying to give representation to their small groups but without back-up facilities or the proper resources. The contributions paid by their members are very small. This causes many difficulties and makes it very hard for the full-time trade union official to carry out research and to bring forward recommendations. Very often it is a fire-fighting activity with factory closures and industrial actions. Many small problems blow up into major problems mainly because these officials do not have the necessary resources.

[810] I visited the educational facility of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. Following that visit I made a very strong case, as did congress, to the Minister for Labour for increased funding to allow key people, such as shop stewards, to have background training to fit them for their positions. Many people who have the power to make decisions in industrial disputes have not had a proper comprehensive training for those jobs. These men work in a voluntary capacity, following recommendations from their colleagues on the shop floor.

Without going into too much detail we all agree that enough has not been done on that comprehensive and very important report. There is no point in government after government requesting recommendations from commissions but not implementing what is acceptable and necessary.

The second major commission report which has come before the House in the past couple of years is the Report of the Commission on Taxation. In my view there is not enough in our document, The Way Forward, dealing with that matter but that is understandable because the implementation of taxation review is a matter for the annual budget. I sincerely hope the Minister for Finance, in framing and implementing the 1983 budget will bring forward some measures to ensure tax equality. We all agree this is necessary, but the most difficult time to implement a major tax review is during a recession. The main thrust and recommendations in the commission's report is to get increased taxation from the capital sector and from sectors that we feel have not been paying their fair share. When the economy is depressed the capital sector is not making profits and this is probably the worst time to seek additional revenue for the Exchequer.

Everybody agrees that the PAYE sector have been caught up in advancing technology and every pound earned under that heading is taxed at the appropriate rate. This has gone out of line with Britain and the USA. In the United States the rate is between 18 per cent and 20 per cent on a high income, while it is 35 per cent and upwards here. Time and [811] again this has been seen as a disincentive to work. I urge the Minister for Finance to take the most progressive steps possible in framing the 1983 budget.

The public sector, a big section of the PAYE sector, agreed to face up to the realities during their negotiations with the Minister for Labour. They must accept lower increases if they are to get additional taxation benefits, but we must be careful not to promise what we cannot deliver. Our document does not deal with this matter in great detail but I hope we will see major changes in that direction in the next budget.

I would like to refer to Dáil reform, how it can help the policies of the eighties and what should be done. Various Members of Fine Gael and Deputy Desmond of the Labour Party made major suggestions on Dáil reform during the summer recess. It is amazing that many of those suggestions and recommendations were never brought by the individual Members before their parliamentary parties. Therefore, one has to question their sincerity on this subject. They suggested that the Committee Stage of Bills should be examined in detail by committees of the House. This would ensure that the work of the House was not delayed and it could get on with important business. They also suggested longer sittings and shorter recesses. All these suggestions were made in the media by Opposition Members, and by some of my colleagues. Nobody has been affected more than the Acting Chairman Deputy Sherlock, by the strict procedures of this House and its inflexibility in dealing with urgent matters.

Our party have discussed what can be done. We must give credit to Deputy Bruton who produced a document, Dáil Reform. I hope we will see progress on this matter in the next Dáil session. It is a very unsatisfactory situation. I have heard many debates dragging on with long speeches for or against, depending on the side of the House the speaker is sitting, accepting Government suggestions and agreeing policy matters that are for the common good and in the national [812] interest. I hope we will make some major progress in this matter.

I should like to refer briefly to the Telesis Report. In December 1979 the Taoiseach and the Cabinet decided to look in some detail at how the IDA are spending the millions of pounds that we vote to them annually. We must measure their achievements, the number of jobs created and the number of jobs lost. The Telesis Report was leaked about 12 months ago. Its main thrust is that there are some aspects of our industrial policy which have not given a great enough yield. During a ten-year period we have invested £2 billion.

The NESC report Policies for Industrial Development states:

The overall performance of manufacturing industry, particularly during the 1970's, must be viewed against a background of continuing State financial incentives to the manufacturing sector. Over the period 1973-80 the total cost of industrial policy more than doubled in real terms and has been calculated by Telesis to have involved a total disbursement of £2 billion (in 1980 £'s) in the form of direct and indirect grants. About three-quarters of the total funding was in the form of direct allocations, twelve per cent in the form of debt, and the remainder in the form of tax foregone from the banking sector.

The report continues:

In this report the Council adopts the approach taken by the Telesis Consulting Group to the analysis of Irish industry and the identification of the appropriate objectives of industrial policy. Two key aspects of business are emphasised — international trading and complex-factor cost structures.

From 1973 to 1980 politicians in this House have voted £2 billion to the IDA which they in turn have passed to manufacturing industry. There are various figures concerning the jobs created for that investment. I do not want to go into detail other than to say that the thrust of the Telesis Report, now that the international climate is so difficult, is to revert to a policy of supporting Irish firms. We [813] in the political arena have been too long in coming to this conclusion. Where investment of State funds over a particular figure is involved, the State should have equity participation. Huge sums of money should not be given to companies without the State having some voice in the decision-making of these companies. The Workers' Party policy document makes very acceptable reading in theory but its implementation would have a disruptive effect and is probably too extreme. My philosophy is that where State funds are involved the State should have participation. This has not been happening. There has been a vast gap between the number of jobs approved and the number of jobs created. There has also been very substantial investment in prestigious foreign industries. Perhaps less newsworthy projects with longer-term job potential would have been preferable. Better late than never. The Telesis Report dictates a new trend for the IDA and I hope the appropriate Minister will ensure its full implementation as soon as possible.

The matter with which we are dealing is so serious that I appeal to the Kilkenny Deputies across the floor to agree to a pair with Deputy Gibbons if he is not in a position to attend this House tomorrow evening. No political party should be seen to use Deputy Gibbon's illness to unfair advantage for cheap party political gain. It would be very sad if in their lust for power the Opposition would not agree to this request. It would reflect badly on Dáil Éireann and on all of us. It may not change the result but there is a principle involved. Speakers on the other side of the House have been making suggestions during the day about members of this party. No appeal can be more reasonable or balanced than the one I have made.

We are dealing with a motion of confidence in this Government and if this House should decide tomorrow that it does not have confidence I would look forward to the challenge of an election, asking the voter to make a decision that will allow us to carry on with our plan and our policy for the eighties. If it is over-optimistic or has shortcomings we [814] will redress them. We are the largest single party with the experience to run the affairs of this country. The other parties will be trying to get the voters to believe they are in a position to form a Government but they would have to figure out how to do it after an election. I am confident that the people of my constituency will respond to this challenge and return us with a majority to enable us to continue the implementation of our plan, The Way Forward.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte I want to mention briefly a few matters raised by Government Deputies. Deputy Lawlor sheds crocodile tears asking that there should be a pair for Deputy Gibbons. I hope Deputy Gibbons will make a full recovery and will be back in this House before long. Deputy Lawlor forgets that I was at the centre of a certain amount of controversy when the new Government met in June last year and Deputy Eileen Desmond was missing due to ill health for the vote on the position of Leas-Cheann Comhairle. Fianna Fáil were not willing to pair with Deputy Desmond, who was at that time in a Cork hospital. Let us stop fooling ourselves. That type of talk will not get Deputy Lawlor anywhere. He asks that we should support the Government's economic plan and give them a chance. Fianna Fáil have had their chance. They have been in government almost all of my lifetime and longer than Deputy Lawlor's lifetime. They have had their chance and they must realise that the role Fianna Fáil must play from now on is that of Opposition for about ten years. They must serve their time in opposition. What was wrong with Fianna Fáil was that they thought they had the divine right to govern, and that is what has left us in our present position. In the budget of this year they voted against the taxation of beer and spirits and pulled down the Government and then without a budget introduced taxation greater than that against which they voted. They put 4p on the pint of beer and 6p on spirits.

They must stop this wishy-washy appealing to the Opposition. Fianna Fáil have made a hames of government and have got us into this plight. We have no [815] more confidence in the Government than have the 22 members of their own party have in their Cabinet. I do not lay the blame at Deputy Haughey's door as those 22 Deputies did. The house was on fire long before Deputy Haughey took over. The strange thing is that the people who wanted to slag him, not in the national interest but in the power struggle within Fianna Fáil, are the very people who got us into this mess.

Young Deputy Fahey made his maiden speech and as a Deputy doing such he is entitled to express his own views. He talked about buying Irish and said that the future of Ireland lay in the Irish people buying Irish. This is green shamrock politics, making ourselves believe that no matter what is produced in Ireland the people will buy it because it was made in Ireland. Let us look across the water to Britain. When the British people started to buy Japanese, German, Italian and French cars, the British car manufacturers decided that the British people would not buy British cars because they were British, they would buy them if they could compete with foreign cars. Down through the years Fianna Fáil have preached this fallacy, this false gospel that we must be patriotic, we must buy Irish because it is manufactured in Ireland. We know that we are manufacturing goods which are not competitive. How can we export goods in a competitive export market if we cannot get our people to buy them at home? I will prove this point later.

Deputy Quinn said that the tragedy is that after the general election the economic and social thinking of this House might not be very much different. I am beginning to think that there is a lot in what Deputy Quinn said. The economic thinking of this Parliament since we gained independence has been totally wrong and in total conflict with our aspiration towards Irish unity. I want to make my stand on this very issue. We have a document called The Way Forward. Deputy Lawlor called it “The New Way Forward”. It is no way forward. Politicians in this House do not realise their double thinking in asking for Irish unity [816] by peaceful agreement and then talking independent economic politics. If we cannot understand this contradiction in terms, then either we are hypocritical or we do not really intend to talk seriously about Irish unity. I have no great hangups about Irish unity, about one flag, one parliament and all that nonsense. I would like to see Irish unity, but if the Irish people want to see Irish unity then I will buy it. If a Government talk about it then I argue that they must be consistent even if that is painful.

We used to talk about a difference in politics between us but we were bluffing ourselves. It is deeper than that. After 60 years of native Government we must understand that at least a million people north of the Border and maybe a few others who fall into the category of being called nationalist will not leave the security of the British economy and will not change the status as between Great Britain and themselves inasmuch as they do not want a customs frontier. They do not want the nonsense of filling in papers and paying customs duties, VAT or any other type of tariff that would be imposed upon them between the northern part of this island and the mainland of Great Britain. Above all, they will not change to a currency system which is exchangeable only in the Twenty-Six Counties from an international currency which they enjoy at present. We must recognise that basic position if we want to talk about unity by peaceful agreement.

If we talk about Irish unity from that position from now on, every economic policy, every document that we produce must be consistent with that basic political position, otherwise we will be talking nonsense, we will not be really interested and we will inflame the passions of young people. Then we wonder why two or three young boys go into a school and shoot a teacher in front of ten-year-old students. We wonder at the depravity and the butchering going on in the North of Ireland and why it is happening. If politicians here cannot find answers to the questions of a peaceful coming together of the Irish people, the next 60 years will be no better than the last 60.

At this stage we should realise that we [817] have failed. We have gone in a wrong direction economically, apart altogether from our politics. That wrong direction was first of all an economic war. Then we had the Control of Manufacturers Act which made it impossible for foreign investment to be in this country unless it confined itself to 49 per cent. That insular thinking about this separatist State, this Catholic, nationalist, 19th century narrow outlook has left us in the position we are in.

I despair when I realise in my talks with people north of the Border of both traditions, Catholic and Protestant, that they wonder why we joined the EMS and why we made six counties in Ireland foreign. I trace the Government's decision back to the influence of 19th century nationalism which implied that we could go it alone and when we talked about that we talked also about the peaceful coming together of Irishmen. Politically we were singing one song, economically we were going in the wrong direction. Fianna Fáil have snapped their own trap and bolted and locked the door on Irish unity. That party came into public life in this part of Ireland on the basic premises of Irish unity and the national language. Since I have mentioned that I will deal with it. We have a little box up here in the corner of the Dáil which was not here when I came first and we employ someone to translate the language of any Deputy who comes in here and chooses to speak in Gaelic, and that is for the benefit of the natives and Members of this Dáil. We must be unique because I doubt whether any other parliament anywhere are compelled to translate what would compare with what we call our native language into what we call a foreign language for the benefit of the natives. The Fianna Fáil Party paid lip service to the native language. In their ranks they had two Tánaistes who did not know the Irish language and did not attempt to learn it. They had Cabinet Ministers who did not know it and did not attempt to learn it. They had back-bench Deputies in the same position. That summarises the Fianna Fáil attempt to promote the Irish language.

Fianna Fáil have been equally successful [818] in their unity approaches. They must get down to the basic fact that we cannot talk about the peaceful coming together of Irish people unless we take into consideration the economic policies which we pursue in our relationship with Northern Ireland. I do not know how to consult the Northern community at this stage. I believe we are in an almost impossible position, but it was ourselves who got us there. I do not believe I am being disloyal or out of tune when after 60 years I can look back and question where are we now, where have we come from and what have we gained? We are now further away from the prosperity we envisaged in the early twenties. We are not economically independent now and we are far away from Irish unity. The more we say about Irish unity the more we are condemning further generations to the violence which has erupted in the North over the last 12 years.

Fianna Fáil have been in Government for 40 out of the last 50 years and they did most of the talking about unity. They are the people who promoted Catholic-Gaelic politics. They have been pretty successful about it. This is the centenary year of the founder of the Fianna Fáil Party. He was pretty successful during his lifetime, like Craigavon was in the North of Ireland and Sir James Craig. They spoke about a Protestant-Unionist Northern Ireland and they were very successful with it. Anybody in their community looking at Sir James Craig or Edward Carson would say they were very successful people in their lifetime, just like anybody in the House looking at Éamon de Valera would say that he was a very successful man during his lifetime. They were also successful in the politics they preached to the people who listened to them, but what a legacy they have left behind. None of them was talking conciliatary policies. They did not want to be Irish leaders. They wanted to be sectional leaders.

Things are not any different today. We are still thought of by our nationalism. When I talk to people on both sides of the Border about our break with sterling and joining the EMS, the old age pensioners [819] who can scarcely write their names and had not the opportunity to go to school know that this was a mistake.

It does not matter which church they go to on a Sunday morning or which political party they support, the despairing thing is that 90 per cent of the Members of this House do not realise that. We are in some way defending it. I believe that joining the EMS contributed more to our economic difficulties than anything else. We can point back to the Economic War, the Control of Manufactures Act and the 100,000 jobs of the late Seán Lemass during the general election campaign in the early seventies, we can talk about the Fianna Fáil manifesto and we can argue that all those things contributed to the position we find ourselves in now. I believe the break with sterling caused more of our difficulties than all of those others put together.

The political concept of joining the EMS was wrong because you cannot have Irish money as foreign currency in one part of the island. The Government's decision to join the EMS made Irish currency foreign currency in Fermanagh, Derry, Tyrone, Armagh, Down and Antrim. We no longer have a Border. We have an international frontier because when one goes across the Border one has to convert one's currency into the currency which is exchangable at the other side. You are charged for doing this. Any person from the Republic of Ireland who is doing business in Northern Ireland must repatriate his profit. Was that the decision of the Unionists or the British who are keeping Partition, as the Fianna Fáil Party say? No. That decision was brought about because of the influence of the earlier leadership of Fianna Fáil which still manifests itself in the economic thinking of that party today.

I do not know how we can get ourselves out of this position but I believe we are going in the wrong direction economically. During the first ten years of the Border there was not an economic barrier between North and South. There was a political line across the map and after ten years it became a nuisance to both Nationalist and Unionist. We are revering [820] Éamon de Valera this year. His contribution to Irish life was notable. He had leadership qualities and had great charisma. I did not particularly like the man but I recognised those qualities in him. He could have made a greater contribution. His fault was that he was blinded more than anybody else and he never tried to understand that there was another tradition on this island. He believed that by separation our economy could equal that of Britain.

The emigration boats took our people away from here during the thirties, forties and fifties and if the first inter-Party Government in 1948 had not repealed the Control of Manufactures Act it would not have been possible for the entrepreneurs of the seventies to prove their worth. Those people were here in the thirties and forties but they were not allowed to develop native industry. They could only get into it under protection and as soon as we took away protection they were blown away. They were paper industries.

I am convinced, as I was when we joined the EMS, that you cannot follow economic policies independently if you preach Irish unity by peaceful consent and peaceful agreement. The sooner we realise that that is a contradiction the better. I do not know what Government will come back after a general election, if there is one. Whatever Government come back and if I am re-elected I will continually argue this point because we are not going anywhere. The Way Forward document is just a lot of pious nonsense and a lot of political waffle which will make no contribution.

When Deputy Haughey was elected Taoiseach seven months ago I was one of the Deputies who wished him well. I know he has an economic difficulty. I wish he took his opportunities in the interest of all the people concerned. He did not do so. He took the soft options until he discovered there were not any soft options. Now he has snookered himself. This election should not be taking place for about another eight years because the average is three-and-a-half to four years. There was no need to have a general election in 1981. The Dáil could [821] have gone on with a 20 majority until 1982. We could have been fighting a first general election since July 1977 in July this year. Nobody chased the Fianna Fáil leader to the Park in June 1977. Since then we have had only political instability.

It may be that I will be the last speaker in this Dáil, that we will not meet tomorrow. On the other hand, we may meet tomorrow and find at 5 p.m. that we are facing a general election. We do not know. Surely such a situation is a strong indictment of the political system especially when we find ourselves in such a position after three general elections. Either next time out we are given a mandate to govern the country properly or we change the system. We are not in a position as parliamentarians to make a proper contribution in the present circumstances.

There was no reference in the Taoiseach's speech to the question of north-south relations, of Irish unity. The Taoiseach concentrated on the question of independent economic politics. Having done that he should not, when it suits him, begin talking about Irish unity. Does the Taoiseach not consider the effects of the economic policies he preaches in the context of north-south relations? If he does not, then our contribution in Irish public life is stalemate and that means that the younger generation will be as emotional about Irish unity as were the older generations. It gives me no pleasure to put that basic fact before the House. The hour of truth has arrived for Fianna Fáil. They have snookered themselves, have snapped their own traps.

The concept of Irish unity held by many people in the south was of this part of the country being more economically viable than the North so that the Unionists would be willing to come here, speak Irish and dance jigs at a crossroads. I do not know what Fianna Fáil supporters believe in but that was a concept many of them had in respect of the North. The country will not be united by way of conversion. Neither will it be united by way of coercion and it certainly will not be united by means of force. This island [822] will be united only when we sit down together and work out a peaceful formula taking into consideration the political and economic values held by one million people north of the border. If we think otherwise we are blind to the facts. Until such time as we admit publicly that we have been wrong, others will not believe what we say. Surely any Government who wish to change direction must first tell their supporters what they are doing and admit that we have been wrong in the past.

Grattan, too, gets special mention this year. Is it not amazing that so many years ago Grattan was able to perceive an Irish nation more clearly than we are able to perceive it dispite all our technology and 200 years of experience? He was making a contribution towards the formation of an embryo of an Irish nation. Basically, he argued the cause of political separation from Westminster or, in other words, for our own parliament, the right to organise our own affairs and to plan our destiny. After the recent elections in Northern Ireland we witnessed on television the most extreme Unionists, the Leader and the deputy leader of the DUP, talk about the necessity for a Belfast parliament. These people have no wish to be subservient to Westminster anymore than they wish to be subservient to us. Many people in this part of the country did not wish for any more division from Britain than the division of having the right to run our own affairs. Grattan understood that there were people on the island in his time who could not be sold the idea of an Irish parliament following on a break in the economic link with Britain. We cannot go back to that position but if we are sincere about Irish unity and if we wish to talk with northern Protestants in terms of coming together by peaceful means, we must be prepared to listen to their point of view. If we fail to do so we are being hypocritical and not really interested in the unification of our people by peaceful means. In some ways, we have given tacit support to the men of violence and in so doing we have encouraged young people in such activities as the use of guns and the placing of bombs.

We have been witnessing the spectacle [823] of Irishmen butchering Irishmen. That situation must not continue. Sometimes people try to pin on me the label of being a West Briton or of being partly Unionist. I am Irish and proud to be so. I have no desire to say that I belong to the republican party, whatever that may mean. My wish is merely to belong to the Irish nation but if I say that I want a united nation in which there is first-class citizenship I am implying that every citizen must have the right to practice his religion, must have the right to civil rights and to property rights. Each individual must be given the opportunity of taking his place in society. The other right is the right of political expression.

We must acknowledge the right of Unionists to express themselves. This is the kernel of the whole issue. As somebody pointed out earlier today we are spending £120 million on Border security. I do not know what image of Ireland has been created abroad as a result of the deeds of 2 or 3 per cent of the population but a lot of time and energy has been spent on what I can only call the festering sore that this generation must tolerate. It is obvious that we must find a solution. Fianna Fáil have been in office on and off for many years but their contribution has resulted in nothing more than stalemate. There are those who would argue that it was right to have a tariff barrier in order to enable Irish industry to get off the ground in the early days of the State. There are those who would argue that economics can influence politics.

I say the economics have failed because they have not influenced the politics. They have not influenced the politics of getting Unionist people in the North to join us, and the economics of Northern Ireland have not influenced the Nationalists to become Unionists. Economics and politics are different. If you take a political decision and if you declare as a cornerstone of your political thinking that Irish unity is your aspiration, and all parties in this House have done this, then there is no escape. The economic policy which we pursue must take into consideration our relationship with the people of Northern Ireland. Otherwise we are [824] living in cloud cuckooland. I would like to talk to Deputies of this House or people outside who could tell me that there is another way. After 60 years of native Government Irish people from the North coming to this part of Ireland must convert their money into punts and people from this part of the country going to the Northern part must convert their money into sterling. The Central Bank is treating Northern Ireland in the same way as Germany treats France or Italy treats Germany, as a foreign country. Southern Irish businesses which operate in the North of Ireland must throw their books open and repatriate any profits which they make to the Republic. That situation is one of failure. We are not going in the direction of economic prosperity or Irish unity.

When we joined the EMS we were told that interest rates would fall and inflation would fall. We were told we were joining a strong international currency and that we should be getting away from the weaknesses of sterling. Those were good economic arguments. Nobody ever thought that by putting a currency curtain between North and South we were contradicting our basic philosophy and political thinking. Interest rates did not fall, inflation did not fall and our currency did not appreciate the 2 or 3 per cent that we thought it might against sterling. The reverse has happened. Last year we imported £800 million worth of oil. We bought that with dollars. If we had been buying our dollars with sterling we would have paid £170,500,000 less for that oil. Our total imports for last year cost £1,600 million. We could have saved £340 million if we had been purchasing through sterling.

There are people who will argue that our exports would have suffered. We were told that when we went into EMS our pound would be stronger. When the pound dropped Government spokesmen told us this was an advantage to our export trade and that we would take advantage of the British market. That has not happened. We imported inflation when we paid £170 million more for our oil. Small industries paying their men at the end of the week found that the money [825] was being paid to the bank manager to service an overdraft account and they were paying 20 to 25 per cent more for the goods they were importing, which meant they could not produce an article in competition with Britain.

When I say that Fianna Fáil have snapped their own trap I am referring to the narrow nationalism which I have described as nineteenth century nationalism and which existed all over Europe at the end of the century and which still exists here. This narrow nationalism made us believe that we could go it alone, that we could be economically independent of the North of Ireland. Whoever said that if the economy of the Republic improved there would be a queue of Northern Unionists at the border wanting to join us does not understand. There are people who want to talk about Irish unity. I compare them with the local artist who is asked to sing at a parish concert. He will sing the most popular song and he will get the most applause but there it ends. The people who talk most about Irish unity are making the same contribution except that the person singing the song is not harming anyone, he is not causing any tension anywhere. Since I came into this House I have been hearing about the reunification of Ireland from people who have never gone across the border to talk to Northern Protestants. There are people in the Fianna Fáil party who stand at election after election and sign the party pledge that they believe in Irish unity and will do everything in their power to try to achieve it by peaceful means. They do the reverse, and by doing the reverse they incite young people to violence, and then we wonder what has gone wrong. I have come to the conclusion, after 21 years in this House, that we are not really serious about Irish unity. If that is the honest position let us say so. Let us say to the Northern Unionists and the Northern Nationalists that we want to be economically independent down here, that we will make our economic decisions independent of them. That is one honourable position. The dishonourable position is to talk about our wish for a coming together of the two parts of Ireland.

[826]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney Zoom on James C. Tunney Beidh cúig nóiméad ag an Teachta amárach.

Debate adjourned.

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