I beg to move the adjournment of the debate indicated in the Order Paper, and in doing so I want to say a word or two on this statement made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. With quite a good deal of the statement, I am in agreement. We all realise the difficulty that the Government has been placed in, and feel that they are entitled to some sympathy from the Dáil in regard to their method of dealing with the problem. It seems to me that what they are doing now is simply putting off the evil day, as they might seem to call it, or the good day, as they may seem to call it. They are putting off the decision. The Minister has told us that the Government is not prepared to accept either the majority report or the minority report of the Commission, but the Commission is not going to make any complaint about that. The Commission was asked to do a certain thing, and it did that thing to the best of its ability. But the Government has decided that the recommendations of the majority of that Commission are not worthy of much consideration, and that the recommendations of the minority, of one, of that Commission are no more worthy of consideration, which practically implies that the recommendations of the Scotter Commission, which was undoubtedly composed of influential people with knowledge of the situation and the railway position in Ireland, were equally unworthy of credence, or that their judgment was not sound or satisfactory. The Scotter Commission also recommended nationalisation by a majority, and we had to take that into account, and we did take it into account when we made our recommendations; and we took into account the very material effect of all the arguments, and the very many statistics produced by that Commission, and which apply equally well to-day, and therefore did not require very much comment or repetition. But, as I said, the majority of the Commission is not going to be very much perturbed by the refusal of the Government to accept its recommendations. I want to say that the Minister, in referring to the position of the Labour party on nationalisation is under some little misapprehension. He says the policy decided on is not likely to be acceptable to the Labour party, which insists upon nationalisation. The Labour Party does not insist upon nationalisation. The Labour party puts forward nationalisation as a reasonable and sensible proposition for dealing with the railway problem in Ireland, because it believes that it is not a kind of system of industry that can be satisfactorily worked by private enterprise. If the Ministry can find a more satisfactory method of working the railways, while serving the public interest, than nationalisation, then by all means let them do so. We shall not grumble. We do not look upon nationalisation as something inherently good, and everything else as inherently bad. We believe that the facts of the situation will compel you to adopt this solution unless you are prepared to hand over to private profit the interests of a public service. If the Government can find a better method of serving the public interest than nationalisation, then by all means let them produce their plan, but the plan outlined by the Minister, I suggest, is going to lead to nationalisation whether he likes it or not, not because it is going to be the plan he prefers, but because there is no other end to the proposal he puts forward unless he is prepared to hand over to a few people, whose only interest in the railway service is to draw dividends, the right to exploit the public demand for transport services. I am sorry that the notes I made on these matters have been lost, but it would be well for the Dáil to understand what the history of the railway service in Ireland has been financially. It would be well to understand what the power of extraction from the public pockets has been with the railway companies, and how generously the public have served the greed of the railway shareholders. I find from a report published, that from the year 1871 — that is about half way between the time the railways began, from 1871 to 1913—that is leaving out the question of war-conditions entirely — there has been paid into the railway companies' coffers for public services — in other words for transport services, passenger services and goods services—a total of 145 millions odd. Now, of that sum, no less than 62 millions found its way into the pockets of the shareholders. The position is roughly this: About 40 per cent. of all the receipts go to the shareholders and 60 per cent. go to running the railways, including management, renewals and upkeep; and that obtained more or less regularly — a little more and a little less — up to the end of 1913 and the beginning of 1914. In other words, out of every hundred pounds paid for railway traffic by the public — I think the actual figures are about £29 per cent. has been spent in renewals and upkeep, which means that that sum is spent in keeping in good order the property of the railway shareholders, in keeping up and improving the property of the shareholders. The remainder is divided into two equal parts. One of these parts has gone in paying the running charges from the General Manager's salary down to the trimming of the lamps. The other half has gone to pay interest and dividends upon the capital invested. I have no doubt most people will say it is not unreasonable that the money on which the railway companies have been built should obtain 4 or 4½ per cent., and that that is not an unreasonable charge upon the public, and that the shareholders ought to be recompensed to that extent for the services given by the railway; these services being, of course, the allowing of money to be spent and utilised as capital for railways. But we must bear in mind that that capital investment has not only been maintained, has not only been improved, but that it can never wear out, and that once £100 has been spent upon railway material the public maintain the capital of £100 of material in perfect order for ever and ever, and that the shareholders will be guaranteed their percentage on that £100 in addition to maintaining the property that that £100 represents. Then we have to ask ourselves whether we are prepared as a community to continue that process. I suppose most industrial proprietors and most commercial men will say it is perfectly normal and satisfactory. I suppose the Government will defend that position and say that it is a position that ought to be maintained because their every act seems to show that they do intend to maintain such a position that capital invested in railways or any other public undertaking must be allowed to draw from the public a sufficient sum to maintain the material which represents the capital, as well as to draw what is called a reasonable rate of interest or profit upon that capital. Well, if it is intended that that system shall be perpetuated in Ireland the consequences must be faced. It means, as a matter of fact, that one-third, and more than one-third, of the total productivity of this country, the total produce of this country, is going to be paid over to people for doing nothing, and you are not going to have any real prosperity under that system. I think the Minister is to be commended upon his statement that if the railway Companies are not able to run their business satisfactorily, if they prefer to keep 40 odd companies in existence, if they prefer to go on as they have been going on, the Government has no right and ought not to be asked to guarantee dividends to shareholders. But when we are told that nationalisation must not be thought of, and that the railway Companies must be allowed to carry on their business as private enterprise, you have got to bear in mind that the railway Companies are responsible for the present condition of the railways. These people upon whom you are throwing responsibility of running the railways in the public interest have been responsible for running them all these years and, quite apart from the present abnormal situation, it is these particular people and these particular Companies that you have to blame for any mal-administration or any failure to meet the public needs of which the public is so frequently complaining. The mercantile community, in so far as it has expressed itself, the farming community, in so far as it has expressed itself, the Government as it has now expressed itself, are all in favour of private ownership of railways, and they all agree implicitly that the method of private ownership is the best way to stimulate and ensure efficient management, and, as one of the General Managers has said more than once, the whip to stimulate efficient management, is the desire for dividends. Well, if the commercial public, the travelling public, is determined, with the assistance of the Government, that that idea shall prevail, I take it that they are prepared to pay for it, and if they are prepared to pay for it, we are not going to complain. But we are not going to agree with private management of the railways meaning private dividends around about 3, 4 or 5 per cent., unless the commercial public is prepared to pay higher charges or unless private management can introduce tremendous economies. We are not prepared to agree that the cost of private enterprise without any additional extraction from the public is going to be borne by the railway servants. This particular problem really epitomises the position of the workers in Ireland in relation to the community, and in relation to capitalism and in relation to the political situation in which we find ourselves. We have gone through a political revolution, and the workers generally assisted in the accomplishment of that revolution. They did not enter into that struggle, they did not assist in that struggle simply for the purpose of making a political change — to have a Parliament here to do the same kind of thing as the Parliament in London. It was intended, it was in the mind of the people generally, and the workers generally, that so far as they were concerned, they intended that the political change should mean an improvement in their lives, an improvement in their relative conditions as well as their absolute conditions, an improvement in the position of the worker relative to the position of the wealthier class in the community. And when we are told by the public — those who call themselves the public, meaning the newspaper public, newspaper editors, newspaper proprietors, manufacturers, Chambers of Commerce, Farmers' Unions — when we are told that wages must be reduced to meet the new economic conditions, the stress of economic circumstance, we want to have some assurance that these things are necessary. We admit they are necessary if you are going to continue your present system, but whether they are absolutely necessary as affecting the workers in relation to the whole potential productivity as well as actual productivity of the country is another matter. When you speak for the railways and say that the claims of the railway shareholders must be brought to a position something equivalent to the pre-war position, that they must be assured of something like a reasonable return on the capital invested, we say you must have that out with your customers. If it is insisted that these railways must be run as private institutions, then you must have that problem out with your customers, but you are not going to have it out with us. We believe the public is prepared to pay a sum for the railway services, for work done in running the railways, a sum which will give the men working on these railways reasonable conditions of living and reasonable conditions of livelihood. But we are told by the railway management and the railway directors, backed up as they are in fact by all commercial interests, that their claim for a reasonable rate of interest on the capital invested is a proper claim and shall have first consideration. There you have in fact what was often talked about, the problem of what is called the class struggle. Now a good many people talk very ignorantly of that phrase and they speak as though when we speak of a class struggle we are advocating a class struggle, when as a matter of fact we are only pointing to existing conditions. I have a note here confirming what I said a few moments ago with regard to the whole of the railways. I am sorry I mislaid my notes, but this is an answer to a question by Senator Bagwell, then Mr. John Bagwell, of the Great Northern Railway. He showed that in 1913 out of £1 of gross receipts there was paid in salaries and wages 6s.; there was paid for loco coal 1s. 7d.; other expenses 5s.; a total of 12s. 7d.; covering all charges. The other 7s. 5d. was the balance for interest and dividends. That is, the cost as he states it of earning £1 of gross receipts was 12s. 7d., and the balance left for interest and dividends was 7s. 5d. When you pay one shilling over to the pay box for a railway fare you pay 7½d. for running the railway, and 4½d. to shareholders. But a later return from the same Company for the first four months of 1922 shows that there has been a difference in proportionate charges. The cost of earning £1 of gross receipts on the Great Northern Railway for that particular period was 18s. 1d., the 6s. for salary and wages had gone up to 9s. 10d., loco coal remained the same, and other expenses had gone up from 5s. to 6s. 8d. That is to say, the total cost of running the railway, maintaining the line, renewing and improving the line was 18s. 1d., and the balance for interest and dividends was only 1s. 11d. Now that is a very grievous decline in the minds of railway shareholders and railway directors, and perhaps also in the minds of the majority of the members of this Dáil. But what we speak of as the class struggle lies there. It is a conflict between these two elements, the people who do the work of the country and the people who do not do the work, but who want their interest, profit or rent, as to the proportion each side shall take out of the public purse. When wages were sweated on the railways—admittedly sweated—admitted by Railway Managers, then the rent, interest, and dividend receivers were able to take 7s 5d. out of every £ paid by the public. But now, at least in the first four months of 1922, on that particular railway the people who did the work of the railways and provided the material got a greater proportion of the sum paid by the public for this service, and the struggle between these two elements has been as to whether that proportion shall fall or whether that proportion shall rise, and we stand for this, that the people who do the work, provide the material, whether management or lower grades of the service, should be the people who shall be paid, and not the people who are simply drawing rents, or interest or profit. Now the Minister has told us that before they can do anything of a definite kind, that is to say, of a permanent kind, it was necessary to find out how far existing railways are adapted to the needs of the country, how far they serve the public interest, and how far they are comparatively useless. Well, that is all very commendable; that has been the desire of both Railway Commissions, but if the Government is going to treat the railway system as it would treat, and as it seems to outline here, a private business of its own, then the public interest is not going to be served. For one reason or another railways have been spread into parts of the country where they cannot pay. There are many miles of line that cannot of themselves pay. In this respect railways are very like the postal service which we discussed a little while ago. If you are going to try to make this a business concern, and if you are going to lop off those parts of the railway system which cannot pay for the service, then you are not going to serve the particular public interest in that part of the country. Many miles of lines will be closed down. I think it is very well to find the Government thinking of the possibility of putting into operation rival modes of conveyance. I am wondering whether they have in mind when they have put into operation, if they do so, systems of motor traction, and that the privately-owned companies decide to close down certain parts of the lines which are not paying; whether they contemplate that these lines in general shall suffer the fate of certain other lines which have vanished almost completely, where the rails and the sleepers and everything connected with the railway have been taken away, and where the capital that had been invested had somehow vanished, and where the owners of the capital, the shareholders who claim dividends on their capital invested, had not moved one finger to keep that capital in being. The Government's policy is to see that the present owners bring the system to the highest attainable degree of efficiency and economy. Now, that sounds very well, it is really a splendid aspiration, not only to aspire to it but to insist upon the present owners bringing the system to the highest attainable degree of economy and efficiency. Well, they have been sixty or seventy years on the job, and they have been serving the interests of the shareholders quite efficiently all that time. They have done it so efficiently up to four years ago that the shareholders now are naturally grumbling because that efficiency cannot be kept up to the mark. But we have had more than one commission on Irish railways; there have been quite a number of inquiries into the Irish railway system, and the newspapers, of the last 30 years at any rate, to my knowledge have been constantly complaining of the inefficiency of the Irish railway system. The same people are in charge, the same whip has been playing on the backs of the railway controllers, but the Government says the present owners who have failed in the past to bring the system to a degree of efficiency and economy, must now bring it to that position. I hope they will succeed. I hope they will be able to reorganise their system and really give an efficient service to the public. But when the Government suggest, as they do, that they are going to give that efficient service, that they are going to satisfy the shareholders with a reasonable dividend on the capital invested; that they are going at the same time, either to reduce charges or not increase them, and at the same time are going to pay something like a reasonable wage to the employees, then I say we are going to see failure; that is inherent in the condition of things. Every witness that knew anything about the subject gave evidence of such a kind that the only deduction therefrom could be that the companies could not give reduced rates, that they could not at the same time pay reasonable dividends and pay reasonable wages; they could not do those three things with the present railway system. Neither the agricultural situation of the country nor the physical configuration of the country would allow of such a three-fold satisfactory solution. You cannot pay with this railway system a three or four or five per cent. dividend on capital invested at the same time as you can pay a reasonable wage for the workers and at the same time either maintain or reduce the present charges. If you find that the coal resources of Ireland are to be made available at an early date and that we are going to substitute Irish coal resources for British coal resources, then you might, but until that, or something equivalent to that, is accomplished or until the population of this country is multiplied by three, you are not going to do the things with the railway system which you set out to do. The whole economy of the railway system has been built upon the basis of sweated wages. They induced the people fifty, sixty, seventy years ago to invest capital because labour was cheap — human life was cheap and wages were low. Everything that has been built upon that basis must be maintained if you are going to pay those dividends to the shareholders and at the same time maintain the rates of charges for transport, such as you have now, to merchants, manufacturers and farmers or have a reduction in those charges. I tell them they cannot get it if the Government's hope and expectation is to be fulfilled. If these desires of the public for maintaining the present rates or for reducing them are to have any fulfilment, if the present charges, the present wages, or anything like a reasonable standard of wages, is to be provided for the workers on the systems and if there is to be a guaranteed interest to shareholders, then it is inevitable that there will have to be a State subsidy.
If you are going to have a State subsidy are you still going to have the present owners and the present railway directors to run the show as they think well? If you are going to have a State subsidy, do you propose to have any control over the policy? If you propose to have some control over the policy, then it means you are going to have private ownership with State management. I am perfectly ready to subscribe to that if you are prepared to take out of the hands of the private owners their right to run the business as they wish. Well, you have done that part of the nationalisation proposal which I, for one, would deem essential, that is to say, to interfere with the right of the private owners of the railways to run the railway service in the interest of the shareholders. The railway owners in Ireland have extracted from the public a greater profit for the last twenty, thirty or fifty years, a larger sum per pound invested than either the English or Scotch railways. If that excess had been treated as a sinking fund — as it might well have been, and even might yet be considered to have been in the nature of a sinking fund — then I suggest that the railways are already nationalised. They are already public property, at any rate, without being controlled by the State. There are defects, of course, about nationalisation. Nobody from these Benches has put forward nationalisation as the one and only ultimate solution of all evils. We have put it forward as a reasonable suggestion to meet the present need. It has been criticised by all the people that represent what might be called commercial and trading interests, that they cannot agree to nationalisation because it means inefficient management by politicians. It means bureaucracy and political pull from one side or another. The majority of the Commission was prepared to meet that criticism by saying that the railway services can be efficiently managed by a Managing Director nominated and appointed by the State and owners of the railways, assisted by a Directorate appointed by the various elements which go to constitute the public. The Ministry threw some kind of a slur or sneer upon the suggestion that none but the public, as represented politically, should manage the railways — or be responsible for the railways — the same Government, the same people, that suggested the establishment of vocational councils for running industries. I ask them to try and reconcile those two propositions. The vocational council proposition in the Constitution submitted by the Government, is embodied in the proposal of the majority of the Commission. The Government now say the vocational idea is not to be thought of for a moment. We must have political management, political representation, political control. I do not know where we shall be if ever it is suggested that the vocational idea is to be put into practical effect. I come back to where I began by saying that if the Government insists that the railways must be efficiently run, and that the present owners of the railways must be compelled to run them efficiently, and that they are going to enter upon a system of control in the present emergency, that the end of all that road is inevitably nationalisation. The railway managers and the railway directors are not going to be any more efficient simply because the Government tells them that they must. They have been trying to be more efficient in the interests of their shareholders for forty, fifty or sixty years. They have been trying to obtain higher dividends for all that period. Members on the Government benches—and, I take it, the majority of the members of the Dáil — will argue that the one thing needed to ensure efficiency is a desire for higher dividends, so that we are not going to get more efficient management simply because the Government tells us we must have it. When the period of the emergency control which the Government feels forced to undertake is at an end, it is expected that the railway managers will have propounded a scheme of unification, or of grouping, and the Government is going to decide — that is to say, the Government that condemns this inefficiently managed system — is going to decide whether the scheme proposed of unification or grouping is going to provide more efficient management, and is going to give better public service. I think when members have time to cogitate and consider the implications of the proposals of the Minister, they will see the inconsistencies, and they will see it is a stop-gap proposal, and that it is going to end in that state of things which the Government decries, and which I am inclined to think the majority of the members of the Dáil would not approve of — nationalisation in one form or another.