I am fascinated by some of the comments made by some of the Opposition with regard to this Bill. Last May, the people voted overwhelmingly in favour of this legislation. It was incumbent on us to develop a set of rules the people asked us to put in place in order that the calamity that occurred in recent years will not happen in future. It is strange that Deputy Boyd Barrett has left. He used selective figures. He forgets that there was a total collapse in the income of the Government during 2007 and 2008. There was a serious budget deficit of more than €20 billion. The bulk of that sum had nothing to do with debt repayment or interest payments on the loans outstanding. When one picks selective figures, one can always sing a tune to those figures but the problem is that we must tell the people the truth rather than pick up on what we believe would be to our benefit.
I welcome this legislation. I come from a small business background; I am a small farmer. The measures being put forward correspond to what small businesses and small enterprises are doing. This is what households are doing as well. They look at the budget they have and what they take in and what they can spend. We are applying exactly the same rules to the macroeconomic situation.
The fact that we are establishing the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council under legislation is important. The council has a role in scrutinising our budget and in scrutinising forecasts put out. One need only consider the disparaging differences between the forecasts put out recently. There is a wide range of figures for the projected rate of growth of the economy for the year ahead. The IMF came in with a figure of 0.5% while the council produced a figure of 1.8%. We are introducing this legislation to ensure our books and our budget are open and transparent such that the public can hold a viewpoint in some way and they can see exactly where the money is being spent.
Why must we introduce this legislation? Edmund Burke said that those who do not know history are destined to repeat it. The reason we are introducing this legislation is to ensure that our history between 2003 and 2007 is not repeated. It is vital that we learn from history and this is the reason we are introducing the legislation. I wish to quote another Kildare man responsible for the economic policy which led us to introduce this legislation. He said that when he had it, he would spend it. That is a famous quote from a former Minister for Finance. As a result of the economic policy he put in place, we are here with this legislation. I compliment that former Minister on setting up the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority in 2003. The sad thing is that when he set up the authority he did so with such light touch regulation that it was unable to effect its role. I welcome the Bill. We must learn from and not forget history. There will be people like me standing in this Chamber in future referring to history but we must keep reminding people where we came from. This Bill will help us to go to a better place in future.