The Order Paper omits the first amendment moved by Deputy Johnson to the motion on the Address, because it was expected that that amendment would have been taken yesterday. It was postponed by general consent in order to allow the railway situation to be discussed. I take it that the debate on that amendment can be continued now. The Clerk will read the first amendment.
MOTION ON THE ADDRESS.
To omit all after the word `Dáil' (line 1), and to insert:—
regrets that the policy of the Executive Council transmitted through the Governor-General should consist in deferring to an indefinite future any attempt to remedy social and economic difficulties of the people, especially the evils arising from wide-spread unemployment; and also regrets that no indication has been given of the intentions of the Executive Council respecting the recommendations of the Commission on Irish Railways."
I take it the discussion on the last matter does not arise now, as an indication has been given.
The last day I was supporting Deputy Johnson's amendment in so far as it expressed disagreement with the fact that the Governor-General's Speech did not lay down a policy for dealing with the evils of widespread unemployment. Now, a good many speeches were made on that particular day, and many Deputies here, I am sure, think that unemployment is not a thing that should get too much stress. On the day previous to the adjournment of the debate Mr. Bonar Law, at a meeting of the National Unionist Association in London, talking about unemployment, stated that it was a terrible problem, and he said that there were losses due to unemployment, not merely the losses of spending money that should be taken into consideration when dealing with it, but that they should take into consideration the fact that there would be a great loss for the nation at large, as the result of workmen losing the habit of work. He went on to state that any Government should do its very best to deal with this question; that there were certain proposals that had been made in the House of Commons, but that they were not the last word. Now, I would like Deputies here to consider the fact, prior to the last election in England, that Mr. Bonar Law stated definitely that he had no policy at all for dealing with the unemployment problem and since then he has come to the conclusion, as a result of pressure being brought to bear on him from various sources, that it is such an awful thing that they must do their very best, at whatever cost, to try and relieve it. Speaking on the last occasion I was giving a quotation from a paper called "Business Organization and Management," where a well-known business man in England, who is Chairman of Lowther and Chairman of the Nitrate Produce Company, was dealing with unemployment, and he appeared to think, and tried to make everyone else believe, that the unemployment problem was incapable of solution. Now, it is a very sorry state of affairs to think that business men, who claim to possess practically, if not all, of the best brains of the community should make such a statement as that. He told us about unemployment in England, and, as I said before, stated that much of the present unemployment was unavoidable, and more of it was due to the Labour policy, through inefficiency on the part of the workers, and through the regrettable ignorance amongst the British workers. He also mentioned that the tragedy of Russia appeared to be without meaning to the workers; that manufacturers, shipowners and traders generally are alive to the fact that after war, living conditions must be on a lower scale than in pre-war days. He contended from that, as some of the Deputies in this Dáil did on the last occasion, that the only real remedy for the relief of unemployment was the wholesale reduction of the wages of the working classes in Great Britain. Now, I think myself that it is an awful thing to consider that a prominent business man, or any business man, whether prominent or not, should make a statement to the effect that living conditions must necessarily be on a lower scale now than they were in 1913 and the years previous. In view of the fact that it was stated at the Food Prices Commission here recently that in Britain at any rate—this, I admit, does not apply to Ireland, because Ireland is not an industrial country in the same sense as Britain—that the productive ability of the workers as a whole had increased by 50 per cent. It is rather a peculiar thing that with added methods of producing the necessaries of life, improved machinery and the like, that the effective productivity of the workers has increased 50 per cent., but at the same time they must accept a lower standard of living. He went on also to state that no artificial standard of living, however desirable in itself, can withstand the remorseless pressure of foreign competition, and he pointed out, of course, that in America they were able to adapt themselves to the changed conditions owing to the fact that the workers in America were willing to work harder— Deputy Gorey gave us as an instance that of the building trade workers—were able to do considerably more than the workers in this country and to work for less wages, and as a result of that they captured the trade in the Far East that was formerly catered for by Great Britain. Now, any individual like myself, or any ordinary working-man, finds it peculiar when he reads statements like that and he is apt to think that in the event of the American workers, by working harder, having less wages, and working more up-to-date methods, even if they had not used these methods and had not been able to capture the trade from Britain, that there would be unemployment in America to the extent of the unemployment in Great Britain due to Britain being able to keep the Far Eastern trade. We are led to believe that that remedy, so called, which is suggested to be put into operation in one country or one part of one country only means that for the amount of employment given there under present conditions there must be unemployment in some other parts of the country. As that applies between Great Britain and America and between one country and another, so it applies between different parts of the one country. I am inclined to think that even if we accepted that statement made regarding a reduction of wages and got an increased output, even if you got that increased output by the workers working for nothing, as they may be asked to do one of these days, it would only mean that there would be considerably more unemployment in another part of the country, as a result, and certainly I think it is not any remedy at all. Now he has generally followed Deputy Gorey's and other Deputies' lines, and suggested that there must be wholesale reduction of wages; and he accused bodies of workers, like Deputy Gorey did the railway workers, of profiteering scandalously at the expense of other workers. Now I would like to mention very briefly the reason I have quoted him as saying that the workers in Britain do not appear to understand the tragedy of Russia. About two or three months ago in this Dáil there was some discussion on unemployment, and one Deputy in a passing remark pointed out Russia as an example of irregularism gone mad. Now we claim that it is a great pity that the masses in this country and in Britain do not appear to understand what is happening in Russia. I will not go so far as to call the tragedy in Russia as irregularism gone mad, as described in this Dáil. Actually Russia is in her present plight, not because of the actions of the Soviet Government and the people there who tried the problem of making ends meet for the people as a whole and not for the favoured few or classes, as the railway shareholders mentioned yesterday, and the Soviet Government, which represents the majority of the people of the country, but because of the actions of the counter revolutionaries, Dennikin, Koltchak and others, helped by Britain, America and other countries. For instance, Great Britain gave over one hundred millions to help to overthrow the Soviet Government, while twenty millions of people, owing to natural causes, were starving in Russia, while in the United States and South America millions of bushels of wheat were being burned as fuel for locomotives. Now, irregularism gone mad is what Russia has been described as, but the Soviet Government were in the same position as the present Government is here and the people who were attacking the Soviet Government were in the very same position as the people who are attacking the soldiers of the present Government in Ireland. It is rather a peculiar thing to think that the Deputy who opposed the rule of majority in Ireland, and denounced all those who use force against those who are sent to uphold the rule of the majority, should make a volte face, so to speak, and uphold the rules of the minority in Russia when it is backed up by the militarists of other countries—such as America and Great Britain. Now, another reason—and I would like this to sink into the minds of the Deputies here—why there was a lot of unemployment and chaos in Russia, is because a number of the Governments refused to trade with Russia, and because they thought that if Russia was allowed to go on progressing she might become a headline for the peoples of other countries, with the inevitable result that the people who were living on the rent and interest and profits in these other countries would have to go down to the superior forces of the proletariat in these countries when they saw what had happened in Russia. Consequently in Britain they were willing to allow a lot of unemployment, because they refused to trade with Russia in order to stave off the demands of social revolution in Britain. Now, the workers in Britain—and some, of course, in Ireland might have benefited from it—could have been working all the time in supplying engineering goods for Russia, and up-to-date farming necessities, but the British capitalists could not see any sense in doing that. I saw in a paper during the last week that the firm of Krupp, in Germany, found that they are likely to make something by trading with Russia, with the result that for 36 years they have leased 25,000 acres from the Russian Government, and intend to send the most up-to-date machinery from their factories in Germany in order to get what they possibly can out of that 25,000 acres in Russia. Now, Deputy Gorey, and why I refer to Deputy Gorey so often is not that I have any disregard for him, but he is the only Farming member present who discussed the question, as Deputy O'Shannon said, with an intelligence that would entitle him to sit on our Benches. Deputy Gorey made a statement regarding unemployment and he gave as one instance the cost of the building of houses and he stated that houses were dear because of the small output of the building tradesmen, and he particularly mentioned bricklayers in this country, and he stated that because of houses being dear owing to this building cost and as a result of this people who might be induced to build had no encouragement to build houses; consequently there is unemployment in the building trade. He gave us some instances in proof of these assertions, he told us that the Irish bricklayers lay two hundred and forty bricks in the day, English bricklayers 1,200, and the American bricklayers some thousands a day. That statement has been trotted out so often that it has become old. Mr. Lloyd George on some occasions since the end of the European War made similar charges against English bricklayers and gave it as a reason for the reduction in building operations in recent years and he compared the English bricklayers with the German and Belgian workers. He pointed out that the Belgian workers did considerably more work than the building tradesmen in England and that consequently there was comparatively no shortage of houses in Belgium, Germany, and other places. I would not be a bit surprised if I were in New York or Chicago and picked up some one of those business journals there issued by the American building trades to find that the Americans were comparing their building workers perhaps with the Irish and the Co. Kilkenny to the detriment of the American worker.
Fie, fie, fie!
That is the usual thing that goes on all over the world. For the honour of the Dublin tradesman I would like to state I was speaking to a building contractor in Dublin a month ago. I met him accidentally and I had occasion to inquire of him how the men in his particular employment were going on and his words were that they were magnificent, that they were doing as much as they did in pre-war days. There may have been some slackness during the war in this country and in England. There is a certain reason for that. When we consider that the building contractors got a percentage on what they expended, and that the man who would expend £2,000 would get twice as much profit as the man who expended only £1,000, we can understand that naturally he wanted to get as little work as possible done by the men. It was up to the building contractors in Great Britain and Ireland when they were doing Government jobs to reduce the output of work. It was the greed of the building contractors in Great Britain and Ireland who were doing Government jobs, when there was no limit to the amount of money available, that did reduce the output of work. But when they had contract work the builders' men in this country never get an opportunity of slacking. I know that myself, because I worked for twelve years for building contractors in this country and across the water. Mr. Gorey also mentioned about the rights of the State as against the rights of the workers. I would like to remind Deputy Gorey and every other Deputy that the workers' rights are greater than the rights of the State by virtue of the fact that the people are older than the State. Man is older than the State. Man himself or a combination of men established the State and they established it for their own benefit and they used the State in a sense in certain directions for their own benefit throughout the ages. If at any time man collectively decides to get better conditions by changing his attitude towards the State, he is perfectly entitled to do so. If he finds that by using the State in one direction he gets a certain return and if he finds at the end of a certain time that the pendulum is against him and he is not getting as good value as formerly, then he is perfectly justified in deciding to act against the State in any way he pleases. Deputy Gorey speaks as if the State were above us all. The State is not above us all. It is made by men in general, it is supported by men and it could be smashed by men whenever they find they can gain more by smashing it than by keeping it in existence. The people of Ireland would be perfectly justified in smashing it when they think it desirable to do so. In the meantime I think they are perfectly justified in using it in any way they like. In the past the State was under control of a comparatively small class in the community. This small class used all the appurtenances of the State, the Police and the Army, for their own benefit as against the interests of the common people. The common people are now coming into their own. One day they are going to reverse the whole order of things and they are going to use the State for their own benefit, that is for the benefit of the people at large, so as to give the right to live while the right to live is in the country. They could do this by distributing the surplus foodstuffs in the country to persons who are at present without food and to whom the employing class in the country refuse the right to work and consequently the right to earn wages. Now, this unemployment problem, as the Minister of Industry and Commerce said a while ago, is not a new problem. It is not a problem that has existed only since the war or during the past three or four years in Ireland. It existed all the time continually for the last few hundred years in Great Britain and Ireland. There are many ideas as to the method of solving the unemployment problem. Personally, I myself do not think it is quite so necessary to look for work as to look for the right to live and I would be quite willing to waive on behalf of the people out of work at present in Ireland the demand for work if I thought they would be granted the right to live without working. If you look at it that way, and consider it carefully you will find that it is not such a big problem as it looks. I am rather amazed to think that in 1923 there are more than enough of the necessaries of life in any particular country—in fact they are being dumped into the sea, and millions and millions of bushels of wheat are being burned for fuel for railway engines in South America for the last couple of years, simply because the employing classes there could not see their way to make a profit by shipping that stuff to Russia where there are millions starving. I am rather surprised that anyone should insist that a man should work in order to get the right to purchase foodstuffs while the foodstuffs are in such super-abundance that many of them are rotting. I was reading recently in an English paper that farmers who would not dispose of their cabbages because of the small prices offered, actually dug them into the ground for manure. I think that is a shame, and it speaks ill for the intelligence of those who are in power that they would allow men to starve in the country when such things could happen. I was reading recently a book on unemployment by a gentleman named Kitson. I mention the book because Mr. Kitson states definitely in the preface that he is a business man who is not in favour of the extremist in the labour movement. He states he wants to stave off social revolution in Britain, and wants to conserve the property and property rights of property owners who at present exist in Britain. At the same time he puts forward certain remedies for dealing with unemployment, and he does so solely to enable the people of the country to live decently in the country without being at the mercy of the Bolsheviks and Communists who attempt to stir up bloody revolution. He was at a dinner party in London in February, 1920, and there were seven other gentlemen present. They came to discuss the question of unemployment. They were financiers and merchants. One, a merchant, said unemployment and trade depression were the result of natural laws, and had occurred every ten or twelve years for over 100 years and were unavoidable. Another said that such conditions were the result of war and were inevitable. A third said they were due to currency inflation——
On a point of order, are we supposed to hear all the quotations from "Comic Cuts" and other papers?
There is no such compulsion, but that is not a point of order.
I think it is as good for me to give the views of a gentleman who has studied the question of unemployment as it is for Deputy Gorey to say that unemployment is due to the high rate of wages the workers are getting and the small output they are giving in return. Another gentleman, a financier, said it was due to currency inflation and paper money. Yet another said it was due to the unreasonable demands of labour in regard to wages. Another claimed free and unrestricted trade was the only remedy. Mr. Kitson disagreed with all those gentlemen, and he gave his views on the matter. The result was that he was challenged to produce a remedy for unemployment. I hold no brief for Mr. Kitson. I do not believe in a lot of his premises. In the first case, if a prominent business man comes forward and suggests a remedy for unemployment and gives as his reason the fact that he wants the present system to continue and to stave off social revolution, any Government that is anxious to attempt to solve the problem should certainly give some consideration to any claims that he would put forward. I could put forward certain views which perhaps would be called socialistic or communistic. I do not intend to do so because they would have absolutely no effect. I am not going to try the impossible and to try to convert the Deputies and the Government here in the direction of socialistic views. But if views are expressed by a well-known business man who states definitely that his only object is to get something to do away with unemployment and to stave off social revolution, then those views should be seriously considered by the members of any Government who want to do the right thing by the people of the country whom they are supposed to govern. He stated definitely he was no socialist and merely wanted to preserve the present system. This gentleman gave certain remedies. He based his whole theory on the system known as social credit, and gave quotations from a book written by Major Douglas, an ex-Flying Corps Officer, who claimed that he had found the real remedy. He also stated definitely that no good orthodox economist would sanction methods that would solve the problem. Briefly, what he actually aimed at was that it was not so much necessary to improve production, but that you wanted to improve distribution of the necessaries of life that had already been and were being produced. He insisted it was necessary to give the people of the country an opportunity of buying the goods that had already been produced, and it was necessary to do that before you could give an encouragement to the producers to continue to produce more. He stated definitely, and this is a point I would like to make plain, that reductions of wages tended to have the very reverse effect to that which was claimed for them—that it would be far better to increase wages if one wanted to solve, or wanted to help to solve, in a small way the unemployment problem, than to reduce wages. He said that you want to make the power to purchase of the people generally greater than it was at present in order to use up all the goods that have been produced in abundance. Deputy Gorey and Deputy Wilson stated time and time again, and other members of the Farmers' Union, told me personally at conferences in the past few years that they had more farm produce than they could get rid of. Is it not reasonable to expect where there are so many people even who are at work in this country, but who have not sufficient wages to enable them to buy the necessaries of life that if they had more money they would be able to purchase more with the result that there may not be any surplus produce? That is the gist of Kitson's claim, that there should be a better opportunity for distributing the necessaries of life than there is at present. I think myself the unemployment problem is a very simple one. I think that man only works —in fact I am sure of it—in order to live. If you give a man the right to live without working he can very easily do without work, because work in a good many cases is not a very desirable thing at all.
The cleverest persons in the world have been striving year in and year out, generation after generation, to dodge work, and the persons who have got the highest education have always striven to get more leisure.
To live on their wits.
When you consider that the University educated people want to get more leisure in order to do things that are outside the usual scope of ordinary work, then we must realise that work in itself may not be a very desirable thing—that slavery may not be a very desirable thing—and that a man should not be despised for wanting to dodge work. If the Government take the matter in hands it is quite possible to do away with quite a lot of unemployment in this country. There are brick-fields at present completely shut up. Now, in the very near future when there will be some kind of military peace in the country you will have a great need for building houses. In the meantime, I think it would be quite possible, and very desirable, that these brick fields should be used for the purpose of preparing bricks in order to have them ready when the people would be ready to build houses. There are practically all the means for building houses in Ireland at the present time except timber which would have to be imported. There are quarries, sand pits and other things which might be used to provide employment for men on State credits if necessary, and it would help to get rid of what Bonar Law described as the demoralisation of doing nothing and the fear that they might lose the ability to work. By this means the desire for work could be kept up and the Government would be doing a good thing for itself and the country. Farming also could be encouraged. Deputy Gorey and other farmers here ought to be able to make farming pay. I know myself that there are very many men in this country who would be quite glad of the opportunity of working a small patch of land in order to produce the necessaries of life for themselves, and I think that the Government should take that matter in hands as soon as possible. Of course I understand an Agricultural Commission has been established and is about to sit on either Tuesday or Wednesday next, but we should not wait until we get the reports from the Agricultural or other Commissions. We should start immediately. There is plenty of land in this country idle at the present time, and there are plenty of men idle also who could work the land, and who would be quite willing to do so if the farmers or other employers could not give them work. They would be quite willing to devote their energies to producing food stuffs for themselves and their families out of the land that in many cases is lying waste at the present time. These— perhaps vaguely and imperfectly put— are some of the reasons why I support the amendment of Deputy Johnson, and I hope the Government will give more consideration to the question of unemployment. I hope that they will not merely set up a Commission to deal with the matter, but that in the meantime they will avail themselves of any opportunity, however small, to help to solve the question even in isolated instances.
On a point of personal explanation, the references to my speech made by the Deputy who has just sat down were so inaccurate that I think he must have dreamt something. A dream must have been running through his head. Practically all his references to me are so inaccurate and misleading that they do not represent my speech at all.
I do not propose to endeavour to follow Deputy Nagle, and I have an idea that if I tried I would probably get lost in the bye-roads. I am not a profound economist. I can make that admission now. I could not make it when I was Minister for Economic Affairs. When I pass out from the Home Affairs Ministry I shall have equally interesting revelations to make. I have tried to look the big human fact of unemployment that is so rife in this country in the eye, and I have tried, according to my own lights or twilights, to see the remedy. One thing that I feel here when an amendment of this kind is put up — I do not suppose it is specially devised to do that—is that it has the effect of placing this Government as if it were a Government of a class, a Government of a section, and as if it had as its primary consideration the interests of a class or section. Now, that is not accurate. Individually or collectively we have no brief for a section of the citizens of this country, and one would say, perhaps, sizing us up, that from our antecedents and traditions our sympathies would not lie with the upper rather than the under dog. "The people existed before the State," said Deputy Nagle. Undoubtedly. And casting back and trying to form a picture of the state of affairs that must have existed when people existed without a State, we will suppose that it was from necessity that they formed a State, that it was because they realised that if there was to be peace and order and prosperity they must organise themselves, so that matters would not be settled by the stone axe. That is all that matters, because it shows a lack of a sense of proportion to settle all quarrels with a stone axe. You have no reserve left for a really big thing. You can only use the stone axe again, and it probably became monotonous, and it was certainly wasteful in human life and in human energy and in human happiness. So gradually, I suppose, and after a very bitter experience, and a rather rough time of it, man threw away his stone axe and formed a State that he might govern himself, and that he might organise his life, and that things would be no longer settled by the strongest arm, and that the internal quarrels of man with man would be settled on some peaceable basis and principle rather than by recourse to violence. That, of course, is a mere surmise. We can only surmise about the beginning of ordered society.
Coming nearer home, and facing our own situation to-day, the prime necessity to meet the unemployment question — and the sooner we all face it the better — is order in the country and the cessation of outrage in the country, and of the man or the combination of men that cut the roads and the railways of the country, it is scarcely a figure of speech to say that they are cutting the throat of the country, and it is scarcely a figure of speech to say that they are cutting the throats of the poor people in the country, and the throats of the manual workers in the country. If reason could prevail with the people who are doing that, they would have stopped it long ago. Reason has failed to prevail, and so the people who have a mandate — whatever their qualifications and whatever their limitations are — the people who have a mandate to preserve this country, and to preserve the lives of its inhabitants, and to give them scope and opportunity for ordered development, have had to resort to force to stop deeds of that kind, to stop the warfare on the country and on the resources of the country and on the material wealth of the country. And we were ill-fitted at the commencement to face a situation of that kind. Of course the improvement has been gradual and painful. We are getting forward towards our objective and that prime necessity of peace and order in the country seems in sight. Now this country is at once undeveloped and under-populated, and I do not see how with the country at once undeveloped and under-populated there could be a serious unemployment question, if a native administration got under way. I do not see it. You have in this country a population of little over four millions, where there was once more than double that population, and it is capable of bearing a population of probably five times that. Now there ought not to be in this country an unemployment question. I do not believe for one moment that if a native administration responsible to the people got a chance there would be an unemployment question. I do not believe that if a Government spending the revenues of the country in the country —a situation we have not had here for many a long year — were under way that there could be a serious, critical unemployment question. The State exists for the people, and that is the mistake that is being made in this country now. Men are acting and advocating that the people exist for the State, and that to secure one particular form of State, one particular kind of machinery rather than another kind of machinery, the people must be sacrificed. "This generation," said one Deputy, "must all perish, and the next generation will do great things," and the reply of the late Arthur Griffith to that was "That is not good statesmanship, that is not sane leadership, that is not even good biology," and it is not sane leadership and it is not good politics and it is not nationality and not humanity to say that people exist to be slaughtered for one particular kind of machinery rather than another kind of machinery. The essence and basis of struggle against the British was to put them and their administration out of the country in order that, that administration being really out, the interests of the citizens of this country might have an opportunity to function. It is due to lack of clear thought; it is because people are not getting down to the fundamental things, down to the kernel of the problem, down to the reason of the things said, that we have a situation like this in Ireland to-day. The people do not exist for the State or to be slaughtered for one particular kind of State rather than another. If the State, such as it is, that has been achieved is good enough for the people, that is the thing that matters. Even if it is not good enough for the people it is the right of the people to say whether it is so bad that they will squander their blood and their fortunes to obtain a better. I am not a profound economist, and I could not follow Deputy Nagle and some others who spoke from those benches opposite. Neither have I the intention of talking the clap-trap of reaction, but I simply ask that there be reasonable appreciation of the difficulties we have had in getting under way. I would ask, too, that people realise that a big change has come; that you have now a country in which all the revenue collected will be spent in the place of collection; that you have an administration here responsible through representatives to the people and that that administration, taking it at the very least, is likely to be more than beneficent and more benevolent in the real sense than any administration we have had in this country for many and many a decade. What is wanted is peace — real peace and real order — and when I talk of order I do not only mean the cessation of bank robberies or the burning of babies or the cessation of bombing or sniping. I mean the orderly outlook when the people will realise that the State exists for the benefit of all, and that if a particular law is unsuited there is in the hands of the people the means of altering it, but there must be a normal orderly outlook if the normal orderly life of the country is to go on. When there is order, when there is peace, then there will be undoubtedly enterprise. Then there will be undoubtedly development, but there can be no development, and there can be no enterprise, where there is no order and no security. And on this question of security, without wishing to be in any way aggressive or truculent or even controversial. I would ask whether organised labour, as such, is creating or helping to create security, and I do not even refer to the fact that there are, as Deputy Shannon has said, "black sheep," or people who are definitely siding with the Irregulars in the conflict, and I am not referring directly to the physical conflict at the moment, but I am referring to their own propaganda and literature. A man will not sow unless he has reasonable prospect of reaping. It is only natural to expect that, and a man will not put money into a commercial enterprise unless he has a reasonable prospect of getting his return. It is not natural to expect him. We came near mental touch when Deputy Nagle said the incentive of work is the individual interest. Men do not work from broad philanthropic motives; they work for their own ultimate good, and perhaps that of their own immediate kin. Men do not go out into business enterprises from any other motives than the motives of the man who works, and the farmer does not break up his lea land and sow his corn and other crops unless he expects to derive benefit from it, and so you get to the kernel of the thing, that lack of security kills enterprise, kills development, creates an unhealthy atmosphere in which development and enterprise die, and then you have unemployment. Now, I occasionally read a Labour journal, not regularly, but occasionally, and one particular journal strikes me from week to week as calculated to create anything but an atmosphere of security. Personally if I were in the farming line, and if in the early Spring I was laying my plans for the year, and if it were a question whether I would break a particular field of lea ground or not, and if that journal were to fall into my hands occasionally and if I took from it the general tone and outlook of organised labour in the country, I would reflect very seriously about whether I would break the field, because I would consider it was questionable whether I would reap what I sowed or not, whether I would have a disastrous strike that would leave my produce caught by the weather, and if not caught by the weather, and if I had cut it in safety and got it into stocks, whether there might not be some disastrous spontaneous combustion that would leave things equally bad. I prefaced my remarks by stating that I had not been a close student of social theories and am more or less groping for light on the whole question. I repeat that now, and I have probably given evidence of it in the course of my remarks, but it does seem to me we must have a more orderly outlook, a more kindly feeling amongst all ranks before you will have the security that will make for enterprise — that enterprise that will once and for all end unemployment.
It is with extreme reluctance that I join in this debate. At the same time, I feel unwilling to give a silent vote. My reluctance is partly due to a natural distaste for speech-making; but in a large measure it is due to disinclination to take part in any discussion upon this address, because of the character of the ritual to which it belongs. I made — no doubt unnoticed—an individual protest against that ritual by not attending here upon the occasion on which it was put into practice. I accept, of course, as I repeatedly declared here, all that is rationally incident to the Treaty, the natural and inevitable consequence of it, but I object to the title of Governor-General, as much as I dislike the institution. We must perforce accept the institution under some title, but, as was pointed out, it was not necessary to join the tradition of the British Houses of Parliament with such fidelity, or to travel in the ruts traversed by other Governments, so as to make it inevitable for us to have the actual presence here of the representative of the Crown, and to be obliged to hear the programme of legislation of our Ministry uttered through his voice, and not through that of the President of the Dáil. But my greatest and strongest reason for disinclination to join in the debate is the consciousness of the utter unreality of the whole thing. I do not suggest that those who have already spoken in the debate have not been sincere, and did not express their most thorough convictions. No! The unreality I attribute to the situation, because as the Minister for Home Affairs has told us, there is no security for the investment of capital — capital which is so often justly styled a shy bird will not come to rest and brood here. While in a state of war we were actually engaged yesterday evening giving support to an emergency measure by which funds raised out of the taxation of the people are to be applied to making good losses on a railway system, which is a private enterprise, and it is useless for us to discuss legislative programmes in such circumstances, and all the more so, since men are looking forward to an early election in the Saorstát Eireann by virtue of which we shall put an end to the disorder. Then not a single individual can make a claim to say that the majority of the people are not in favour of the system of Government which we had the privilege to institute. And confronted by the fact that we are in a state of not perhaps of war, but of armed insurrection, where life and property are absolutely insecure, particularly life, and that we are looking forward to a general election at the earliest date we can secure, I do not think it is fair or reasonable to complain that the Government has not put forward a programme of measures that would commend themselves to us. At the same time I think, if only as a political device as indicating their mind on the matter, it might have been advisable for the Government to have projected a fuller scheme. I am sorry the Minister for Finance has not declared himself with regard to one positive evil, of which we are aware. There is no lack of money in the country, but that money is not being employed in the most fruitful way. A great deal of it is in the banks on deposit, by virtue of which arrangement the Minister for Finance is cheated out of a large amount of his Income Tax returns. All that money is not being invested in Irish enterprise at the present moment. I am not going to follow Deputy Nagle in his interesting speech. It was interesting because of the mass of excellent matter it contained in close collocation with extraordinary theories, which I am quite confident he has given little thought to, otherwise he would not advocate them. But he dealt with one thing which I had in my mind and that was the using of Irish building material. There is no country in the world, more particularly in Western Europe, not suffering from lack of housing at the present moment — Ireland, particularly so. Now I happen to know that the equivalent to Portland cement can be manufactured profitably in Ireland. All that is required is the investment of the money. The money is there, the materials are there, the brains and the knowledge are there; the combination of them is required. Now that is one thing to which attention might be given, it would relieve unemployment considerably and it would also be a great encouragement to the people at large, because there is no doubt about it, the psychological effect on an onlooker's mind of seeing building carried on is one that makes him feel that things are going well. Only the time is so short I would like to appeal to the experience of other countries similar to ours, more particularly to Belgium, a little country somewhat in size equivalent to the province of Munster and yet one of the most progressive, one of the happiest and one of the wealthiest countries of Europe. There, by virtue of the combination of popular banks, public banks, and State credit and building enterprise it is possible to have no city slums and to provide the workman with an excellent home a considerable number of miles away from the centre of his occupation so that his family and himself sleep in wholesome country air and his family have a little parcel of land which occupies them in agriculture and horticulture which is profitable in every sense. By means of subsidies to railways that distance from the centre of the man's occupation does not make a large inroad on his income. That is something that can be organised here. Now many years ago, as you are probably aware, when Norway was under the domination of Denmark, precisely as Ireland was under that of Great Britain, the Norwegians had the same national failing as the Danes. They drank deep. And Norway was one of the most drunken countries in the world until the reform was instituted of giving the State control of the drink traffic. The liquor traffic became a State concern and everyone employed in it, a Civil Servant. One of the arrangements was that if a man was served with too much drink in any particular public house or was found drunk on the premises, the salesman who served him became incapable of public employment thereafter. All the profits of the drink traffic were applied to road-making, and anyone who has been in Norway knows what a feature of the landscape is the magnificent system of roads. They are among the best roads in the world. It seemed a jest to apply the proceeds of the liquor traffic to the making of better roads, but it was a double improvement on the way for "going home." This bears upon the question which we debated yesterday. It strikes me that the iron railroad system was always crude. This arrangement of laying down steel lines and hedging them from the public was always crude, as it is to-day. In Ireland the larger centres of population are miles away from the railway stations — that is one of the distinctive features of the Irish landscape, just as good roads are the distinctive feature of Norway. If you want to go to Newry, for instance, the Great Northern Railway line leaves you at Goraghwood, because you remember some Director of the Company happen to have a special interest in that locality and wished to develop it at the expense of Newry. So you have a bye-road from Goraghwood to Newry. With our little towns badly served by the railway system the development of motor traffic and the development also of coastal service become urgent that we may not be dependent on railways. All these developments mean work for employees, but there is no use in our beginning to create fine highways and steam-rolled roads if we only provide them everywhere for the destructive exercise of the extremists, so here again the reconstruction of the country and the making of life possible at its highest and best depend on the securing of peace. I feel always up against this difficulty. It is idle to talk about development until the conditions so necessary for it are assured. Before I sit down I should just like to congratulate Deputy Nagle on having the courage to make what seemed to some of the Deputies an unfavourable admission, that it is the desire of working men to have leisure. It ought indeed to be the desire of every man to have leisure. That is one of the diabolical arrangements of modern life: the type of leisure allowed to the workingman is such as to react unfavourably on him as a man. So that the type of education he should get should fit him to enjoy leisure, and the opportunities for a properly civilised, cultured leisure are things the workingman is entitled to demand and entitled to expect. It seems to some that to ask for leisure is to declare a love for idleness. They are sometimes best occupied who indulge in cultured leisure —they are helping to make civilisation and to promote the sweetness of life. Feeling that the Ministry should be attacked for not giving us an extensive programme of reform yet at the same time wishing to make a protest against the procedure which has been used and which I hope will not be used again — I hope this occasion will not serve as a precedent — I intend to vote for the amendment.
Some members may think that this is rather an academic discussion that will lead nowhere, but to my mind it is of great use. It is useful to have had the speech of the Minister for Home Affairs, and to know what is in the mind of the Government with regard to dealing with this serious problem. We naturally expected to hear what he has told us about the impossibility of doing anything under present conditions. That may seem a fairly plausible explanation or excuse, but I would put it to the Government that they can hardly afford to take up that attitude. Unless they attempt to do what can be done under present conditions, those conditions will get steadily worse than they are. We are more concerned with the larger question, and with what policy they propose to adopt when things are once again somewhat normal. Members were somewhat amused at the remarks of colleague Deputy Nagle when he told of the desire of people to dodge work, but Deputies must realise that work is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end. If it was not necessary to work in order to live we would not have the burning desire to work unless possibly to keep ourselves in condition. On this question of unemployment let us ask ourselves a few simple questions. Why should there be any people unemployed? Why should we be called upon to deal with such a problem at all? Deputies may reply that there has always been an unemployment problem. I question that very much. There was a period in the world's history when there was no unemployment, and it is only as a direct result of the industrial system that exists in this and other countries that the unemployment problem has been created. The increased productivity has created the unemployment problem. The fact that it is much easier now to produce things which men have to live on has created the problem of unemployment. When there was no machinery there was no unemployment, and it is because of the invention of machinery and the increased productivity of the soil and because things are produced more quickly to-day that we have that problem. Is it not a remarkable state of affairs that instead of adding to the comfort of man and making everybody better off and more comfortable that this increase of productivity and the invention of machinery have only impoverished the great mass of mankind? We are able to produce things so easily that people are not able to get them. We are producing so much of everything we cannot get enough of anything. We on these benches are not satisfied with this state of affairs, and if the Government say to us, "Do you expect us to do something which no other country in the world so far has been able to do?" we frankly answer, "Yes, we do, we ask you to make an original contribution to the solution of this question, and no matter what happens in other countries we are, in so far as we have the power, going to prevent our class from being degraded to the conditions which now prevail in other countries." You will probably reply that this is a poor country, and that other and richer countries have not found a solution of the problem. What test are you going to apply to find out whether the other countries are rich or poor? I am not prepared to admit that Ireland is a poor country. Taking England and America, or any of the leading countries, you will probabily reply that England is a very rich and prosperous country. You may remember that a few years ago a British Prime Minister, Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman, complained that one-third of the population in England lived below the poverty line. Is that a sign of wealth? England has a greater pauper population per thousand than any other country in the world. Now take America; it is supposed to be the wealthiest country in the world, yet it has the greatest number of tramps according to population. Its tramps have increased in number side by side with its wealth. When there was less wealth, and when there were no millionaires, there were no tramps. The tramp is the complement to the millionaire. Is the ideal we are going to aim at for Ireland to be the ideal of America or of England, or rather that of some of the smaller countries such as those to which Professor Magennis has referred, where there are not such extremes of wealth and poverty? I would like to know on what lines the Ministry would propose to run the country, and in what way they propose to develop their policy. We have heard in the discussions on this motion and on the agricultural situation about the fact that the farmers of Ireland are unable to find a market for their produce. Yet people are starving for want of it. Why is this? The farmer produces not in order to supply the needs of the country but to make a profit. I suppose a good many Deputies have read John Mitchel's "Last Conquest of Ireland," and read his description of the famine years. One and a half millions of the Irish people died between the years '47 and '49. Mitchell points out that there were more cattle and grain exported from Ireland then than in the preceding or succeeding years. That was not an evidence of famine, but it was, as he pointed out, an artificial famine due to the failure of the potato crop. The other wealth of Ireland was there as it was during the preceding years. In these years also the banks were bursting with money. What is the state of Ireland to-day? Are not the banks bursting with money? Is it not a fact that we have agricultural produce and a huge cattle trade? Is it not a fact that many of the leading industries are paying high dividends? Is it not a fact that Messrs. Guinness made a nett profit last year of three million? These things are not evidence of poverty: These are evidence of the unequal distribution of wealth. The Minister for Home Affairs refers to our propaganda. He tells us that capital will fly away; that farmers will not till. I do not know whether he means that the land will fly away or not. We imagine the land will remain, and we imagine that there is some truth in the doctrine Fintan Lalor preached some years ago. We have got indications of the kind of security some people would like. Deputy Gorey told us yesterday that the workers should be beaten down to £2 a week, and should work longer hours.
I said nothing of the sort.
If that is the kind of security you want, we on these benches will take good care that that security is not forthcoming. We on our part will do our best to convince the workers that they are entitled to the best this land can give. The wealth of this country, as that of every other country, is produced by the labour of these people, and the bees are entitled to the honey. If the Ministry is prepared to set itself to this task of making Ireland as self-supporting as possible, realising that the people have the first claim to the wealth of Ireland, realising that John Mitchel spoke the truth when he said, "No Nation but a Nation of slaves exports its produce until it sees that the needs of its own people are seen to first," until they realise that it is not national greatness in the way that England and America are great which we are after, but rather the peace and happiness of the people, so long as the soil of Ireland does not fail, so long as there is machinery here and willing workers to work it this land is capable of producing wealth and enabling the people to live in peace and happiness, as long as that is so we will demand that those who produce this wealth will enjoy it before any capitalists and others come along to create this so-called problem of unemployment.
There are one or two points I should like to refer to. In one part of Mr. O'Brien's address he referred to the class he represents and in another part he referred to the people of Ireland. I very much regret that any one in this Dáil should refer to a class, because I take it this Dáil as a whole has the interest of the whole Nation at heart, the interest of all the people, and before I come to details I should like to say I am one who holds that the wage earner, the worker, has certainly a right to an honest day's wage for his work. I hold equally that the worker owes an honest day's work to the man who pays him an honest day's wage. Some points were made by Mr. O'Brien about farmers having food which they did not give to the people who are idle and unemployed and who, he says, are starving. The farmers might equally well say, we have work we want done; there are many people unemployed throughout the country, why do they not come and work for us?
He referred again to a time in the world's history when there was no unemployment. Surely he would not have us go back to the conditions under which workers lived when such times existed, when there was no machinery? The condition of the worker at the present day has improved very materially since those times, and I am glad it has improved, and I hold that in a prosperous Ireland, which we all, please God, hope to have, that there is even greater room for improvements in conditions of those who work in the State, whether with hand or brain. In dealing with the amendment there are just two points with which I should like to treat. Deputy Johnson regrets that the policy of the Executive Council "should consist in deferring to an indefinite future any attempt to remedy social and economic difficulties of the people." Now, in the first instance I would like to know who are we to understand by the people of Ireland. From what I have been listening to I am more or less driven to the conclusion that the mover of this amendment means by the people of Ireland a certain section of the people of Ireland. I should like to know does he mean the whole people throughout the length and breadth of the land, or does he mean organised labour alone. I hold that when we speak of the people of Ireland we mean the people who are forced to live on the rocks of Connemara.
Or in the valleys or on the bleak mountain sides of Mayo, of Kerry, and of Donegal. These are the people of Ireland and I do hold that if we mean by such the people of Ireland, there is a promise, there is a definite reference to a scheme to relieve the social and economic condition of the most helpless section of the people. For these people are unorganised and are the most helpless section. Let me give Deputy Johnson a few figures as to the condition of these people in Connemara, in Galway, in Mayo, in Donegal, and in Cork. In Galway the latest returns show that 30,818 agricultural holdings have a valuation of less than £4; that 11,070 agricultural holdings are of a valuation between £4 and £10. In County Mayo we find 16,578 agricultural holdings with a valuation of less than £4, and 12,245 with a valuation between £4 and £10. In Donegal we find 16,886 holdings with valuations of less than £4, and 8,636 with valuations between £4 and £10. In Cork, 10,786 less than £4, and 6,381 between £4 and £10. In Kerry, 7,842 less than £4, and 5,760 between £4 and £10. In the province of Connaught we find 45,549 holdings of less than £4 valuation, and 43,140 between £4 and £10 valuation. And in all Ireland 161,096 holdings of under £4 valuation, and 147,710 between £4 and £10 valuation. Hundreds of thousands of people have agricultural holdings in Ireland which are uneconomic. The Government has promised a scheme to relieve the social and economic condition of those people. It is a big scheme, which requires courage on the part of the Government, and I suggest that Deputy Johnson is altogether inaccurate when he suggests that there has been no communication of any attempt to remedy the social and economic conditions of the people, if he holds that those are the people of Ireland as I am sure he will hold. Last evening a Deputy gave us here returns for certain organised labour showing that 49/6 per week was paid to Railway workers, 45/6 for porters, and for foreman porters 62/-, and to the Dublin postmen 75/-. I do not say that that is a wage that these people ought not to have. If the economic condition of the country permitted they certainly ought to have a higher one, but I would remind Deputy Johnson that there are tens of thousands of people living on agricultural holdings in Connaught, Donegal, Cork and Kerry who have not 75/- per month as their income. They are actually at the present moment starving, and periodically we have outbreaks of fever there. I hold and shall insist as far as one representative from Connaught can insist in this Dáil that it is the duty of this Government in relieving social and economic distress, that it shall be applied, in the first instance, to the relief of those most in need of immediate relief, the uneconomic holders along the whole sea front from Cork to Donegal.
On a point of order, may I ask you a question: Did you not rule earlier in the evening that after the word "unemployment" the rest was unnecessary in view of the statement made yesterday? Is it going to the vote with that included.
Yes, I think it can. I merely suggest there was no necessity to consider that part of it.
The Dáil divided on the amendment: Tá, 12; Níl, 31.
Tá.Tomás de Nógla.Riobárd Ó Deaghaidh.Darghal Figes.Tomás Mac Eoin.Liam Ó Briain.Liam Mag Aonghusa.Tomás Ó Conaill.Aodh O Cúlacháin.Liam O Daimhín.Cathal O Seanáin.Seán Buitléir.Domhnall O Ceallacháin.
Níl.Donchadh O Guaire.Uáitéar Mac Cumhaill.Seán Ó Maolruaidh.Deasmhumhain Mac Gearailt.Seán Ó Ruanaidh.Mícheál de Duram.Domhnall Mac Cárthaigh.Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.Earnán Altún.Liam Thrift.Eoin Mac Néill.Pádraig Ó hOgáin.Seosamh Ó Faoileacháin.Seoirse Mac Niocaill.Fionán O Loingsigh.Séamus O Cruadhlaoich.Criostóir Ó Broin.Risteárd Mac Liam.Caoimhghin Ó hUigín.Séamus Ó Dóláin.Próinsias Mag Aonghusa.Peadar Ó hAodha.Séamus Ó Murchadha.Seosamh Mac Giolla Bhrighde.Liam Mac Sioghaird.Tomás Ó Domhnaill.Earnán de Blaghd.Uinseann de Faoite.Domhnall Ó Broin.Séamus de Burca.Mícheál Ó Dubhghaill.
Mr. G. FITZGIBBON took the Chair at this stage.