The Dáil will now go into Committee on the Criminal and Malicious Injuries (Amendment) Bill, 1923. The original motion was that Section 12 stand part of the Bill.
THE DAIL IN COMMITTEE. - CRIMINAL AND MALICIOUS INJURIES (AMENDMENT) BILL, 1923.
I beg to move Amendment 1, Sub-section (7), in line 23, to insert after the word "interest" the words "not being less than 4 per cent. per annum"; and Amendment No. 2, in line 24, Sub-section 7, to insert after the word "redemption" the words "at any time during a period not exceeding twenty-five years."
These first two amendments on the paper are in my name. I do not desire to attempt to force the figures that are mentioned in them upon the Ministry. The object of the amendments is to obtain some statement from the Minister in charge of the Bill as to the nature of the security which is to be issued in part payment of the compensation under this section. I judge from the Bill that the Government do not propose themselves to create a stock and to sell it in the market and to pay cash out of the realisation of that stock, but that the applicant is to receive in cash part of the amount of his compensation and the residue is to be given to him in stock or bonds or securities of some description which he must take at their face value for the balance of the compensation that he does not himself receive in cash. If I am correct in that it appears to me essential that the Bill should contain some indication, or, rather, the Act when it becomes a law should contain some indication on its face of the nature of the security that is to be given to the applicant in lieu of cash. If, for instance, he were given £200 of irredeemable 2 per cent. stock the effect of that will be that he will receive a thing which he could sell in the market at £30 or £40 at the outside, but which was issued to him, and which he was bound to take, as being worth £200. Therefore, it appears to me, that in the Section which prescribes the securities that are to be created for the purpose of being handed over to an applicant instead of the cash to which he is entitled under the decree, there should be some figure or other from which he can form some estimate as to the amount that he is actually going to receive in cash or in securities which he can take into the market and commute into cash. It is quite obvious that where a man gets a decree for something over £2,000, of which he receives part in money and the rest in stock, in many cases he will want to realise the stock he gets at once in order to rebuild, or reinstate, or furnish the place that he has reinstated, or that has been reinstated for him, and he will want, not interest upon a capital sum, but a further capital sum, which he can only obtain by realising the security issued to him by the Government. That cannot be done unless there is some means of estimating what the probable value of that security is going to be, and that can only be achieved by letting the applicant and the public know what rate of interest this stock is going to bear, and what the period of its redemption is, if it is going to be redeemable at all. I have put down two amendments on this matter. The first is that the stock should bear interest at the rate of not less than 4 percent. per annum. At the present time the British Government, I think, is giving something like 5 per cent., and 4 per cent. per annum would represent considerably less, I think, than the face value of the stock, and it would be saleable at considerably less than the face value. The market value of the stock will also depend on the period within which it was going to be redeemed, if it was redeemable at all. I beg, therefore, to move the first amendment, that the securities that are issued to the applicants in lieu of the balance of cash that they are not to get, shall be securities bearing interest at a rate of not less than 4 per cent. I suggest also that they should be redeemable over a period. I do not really care what the period is, but I suggest 25 years. Let it be 25 years or 33 years, or whatever period may seem advisable—I am quite willing to accept that—but that some period of redemption ought to be fixed for these securities is, I think, reasonable, clear, and just.
Last Friday there was an amendment standing on the Order Paper in my name which was disposed of because I understood that you had called upon a subsequent matter, and I left the Dáil for an appointment. I make no question about it having been gone back upon and disposed of. I merely raise it in connection with these two amendments because the purport of my amendment had been to delete the entirety of Section 7, not because this matter should not be dealt with—obviously it must be dealt with—and in any Bill of this kind in any other country it would be automatically dealt with as it is being dealt with in this Section. But we are a new State, and there are certain procedures that we have not yet established precedents for, and I feel, and I urge upon the Minister for Finance now, that it would be a better course if the whole of this Section were to be deleted and were to be made the substance of a further Bill altogether. So that hereafter, when matters like this arise, in which the creation of stock that would have a quotable value and have to pass currency in the Stock Exchange, all that stock of the future, as well as these matters now, could be referred back to that Bill in which the stock would be given some definite name such as it would have in any country, and it would be known by its reference that it was a stock of, say, 4½ per cent. redeemable in 25 years, or such other stock or conditions as circumstances might seem to warrant. I feel that is required. I support this amendment of Deputy Fitzgibbon failing the other course, which I do think is better, and I urge the Minister for Finance that it would be better from the point of view of finance, and of the Ministry, and of the Dáil and subsequent legislation, if all these questions of the kind of stock it is to be, and the manner of its issue, could be taken away out of this Bill altogether and postponed to a subsequent Bill, in which it could be adequately treated. In any case, I think the procedure outlined here, even with the changes suggested by Deputy Fitzgibbon, is hardly a desirable one. It is stated: "The Minister for Finance may create such securities bearing such rate of interest, and subject to such conditions as to repayment, redemption or otherwise as he shall think fit." And having come to that decision with the best advice at his disposal—executive advice, although this is primarily a legislative matter—that the Order there made should be laid on the Table of the Dáil, and could only be brought up and challenged if some member desires to raise it. It does seem, as I said on the Second Reading, that this is a very haphazard and casual way of dealing with the first issue of stock in this new State, and, as I have said, it will be an exchangeable commodity in the Stock Exchange and Bourses of more than one country. It will at least have a quotation, and should expect to have a quotation, in the Exchanges of more than one country. I think in a matter of this kind it will be raising the credit of the country in a striking form. It is one that should be carefully gone into by the Legislature, and if that course were adopted it would have this essential benefit, and subsequent legislation would be able to refer back again to the securities or bonds, or whatever name they are given, and it would necessitate that all issues of that kind would be according to the precedent now established in a separate Act of its own. I urge that that should be done as a matter involving the credit of this country, and involving the question of establishing a precedent in a very clear, definite form, as a result of a definite Bill brought before the Legislature and receiving legislative sanction.
To come back to the amendment, the Deputy who moved it desires to have inserted the words "that the interest shall not be less than 4 per cent. per annum." The Bill as presented provides that the rate of interest "shall be subject to such conditions as the Minister for Finance may think fit." I take it that the Minister, in introducing the Bill in this form, had in mind that he would occupy a middle position. The Deputy who moved the amendment does not mind how high the interest may be. He wants to provide that it shall not be less than 4 per cent. I would be inclined to say that it shall not be more than 4 per cent., and would endeavour to press the Dáil on that issue whether we should make 4 per cent. the maximum or 4 per cent. the minimum. The Minister, as I say, steers a middle course, and wants the decision as to the rate of interest to lie with him. As between the amendment and the motion, I will vote for the motion. If the amendment were accepted and carried I would endeavour to move a later amendment, altering the word "less" to "more." I sincerely hope the Minister will not bind himself, will not bind the country to pay a minimum of 4 per cent., notwithstanding what the credit of the country may be. I do not know whether the Minister requires any urging upon this matter, but for fear he might be inclined to give way to the Deputy I would strongly press him not to accept the amendment.
I think that the case for the adoption of the amendment is that persons getting securities in lieu of cash will not be getting a depreciated security. I think that the two amendments could be taken together as they hang together.
They have been moved together.
The second amendment specifies repayment any time during a period not exceeding 25 years. Well, I do not personally approve of either amendment. If we were to adopt the first, and some general re-organisation and stabilisation of the Money Market were to take place, and if we could possibly borrow money at anything like the pre-war price we would be committed in that case to pay a percentage in excess of the normal amount unless we come here or get the Dáil to repeal, to enable us to pay 3 per cent. or a lesser sum. And in the same way the 25 years being included might give rise to some idea that it was not intended to discharge the nation's liability in respect of this particular service for 25 years. It ought to be, and we ought to work towards a shorter period.
I must say I do not see any likelihood of issuing this money, in the beginning at any rate, at 4 per cent. It would not be fair to persons who require to get a fair security for whatever sum is awarded, and 4 per cent. at present would not, in my opinion, get a market quotation beyond eighty, if it did get that far. In that case a man getting a decree for £1,000 would in reality get securities negotiable only at £800. The case made by Deputy Figgis comes to me as a surprise, as I understood that the Deputy was well experienced in financial matters, but his statement does not warrant that assumption on my part. I think it does not serve the purpose which Deputy Fitzgibbon has in view to put down these two amendments. In the first place, it is not our intention to issue at 4 per cent. It would not be just or equitable, and it is not our intention to give a period of anything like 25 years for repayment. If we gave it it would, perhaps, mean binding us, and I do not think that that would be advisable.
I sympathise with what the Minister for Finance has said, but it seems to me that the wording of the motion, as put forward by him, leads to something different from what he wishes to secure, and would effect something quite apart from the intention in his mind. It seems to me it would give the Minister for Finance a power of really varying an award made, if it were made on a certain definite basis, because apparently it leaves the Minister for Finance with the right to say, after an award has been made, what the rate of interest on such securities should be. I do not believe that that is in his mind at all, but unless some wording which would involve the principle at which Deputy Fitzgibbon was aiming, namely, that the securities should not be depreciated—unless some wording of that kind were put in, it would mean that an award in the first place could be made on some unknown basis, and in the second place, might be made to have a different effect to that intended. I do not know whether I have made myself clear, but I hope I have.
Amendments put and negatived.
I move the following amendment:—In Sub-section 10, line 55, to add after the word "Finance" the words "Provided that the Minister for Finance may in any case withhold payment of any compensation payable by him until he has received from the Secretary of the Council of the County, County Borough, or Urban District, or Commissioners of the town in which the injury occurred, a certificate that there is no money due to such Council or Commissioners by the person to whom such compensation is payable, in respect of any poor rate or other rate levied by such Council or Commissioners."
The object of this amendment is to provide machinery for giving effect to Sub-section 3 (c) of this Clause, which provides that the Minister for Finance may deduct from the amount of any compensation payable by him any money due or payable by the applicant or other person entitled to such compensation in respect of any poor rate or any other rate levied by any County or District Council or Town Commissioners. The amendment provides that he may withhold payment until such time as he received from the local authority notification that there is no money due in respect of rates.
The purpose of this amendment is that in either case we are entitled to deduct whatever sum would be due in respect of rates. As regards the rates. I would not be in a position to disburse that sum. This puts it in another way, that until we are satisfied that these sums are paid we should get the receipts in respect of their payment before we issue the money.
I desire to move the following amendment:—
"To add the following Sub-section after Sub-section (11):—
"The Minister for Finance, with the concurrence of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, may issue Orders requiring that in all cases in which a reinstatement decree is attached to a decree, the compensation paid shall, subject to such conditions, exceptions, and limitations as the Order may prescribe, be expended in the purchase of materials produced or manufactured in Ireland."
This sub-section merely desires to give power to the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Industry and Commerce to insist that in reinstating premises with money paid by compensation, as much of it as possible shall be expended on materials required for such reinstatement which are manufactured in Ireland. I formally move the amendment.
I must say that I have a good deal of sympathy with this amendment. The purpose that it is intended to serve is excellent. I observe it myself; I find it rather costly, but I have observed it at any rate up to this. In this particular case I am afraid I cannot accept the amendment. It comes to this: that an amount of responsibility of one sort or another would be thrown on those two Ministers and their Departments for which there is no machinery at present available. It would take some time to construct that machinery, which, if worked in the spirit in which this amendment is put, would necessitate the judge taking into consideration that fact, and possibly awarding sums in excess of the amounts that he would have in mind if he were to concern himself solely with getting the actual cost of the restoration of those particular buildings. It may be said, of course, that you can exclude certain items; but if you do exclude certain items, does it not mean that the purpose which the mover of the amendment has in mind is not carried into effect? Take slates, for example. There should be slates supplied in this country for the buildings required to be constructed, and I believe they are not available. It is well known that a good deal of activity was to be undertaken by local authorities for the last twelve months; still the slate quarries remain unopened. There is not a corresponding cordiality between persons engaged in the supply of building materials which would justify us in adopting this amendment in the spirit in which it is moved. It is now twelve months since the notice about slate quarries was given, and yet there is no indication whatever as to any activity in that direction; at least the last time I heard of it there was not. I fear that the cost here would be prohibitive, and that in essence it would mean subsidising local industries or activities of some sort or another. That, in our present state of national finance, is a thing which we cannot afford. There must certainly be a contribution put up by local persons in these cases. There must be a little harder work, there must be more self-confidence than at present exists, and a better appreciation of the Nation's burdens at the present time, together with a determination on the part of local people to do their duty in easing those burdens.
I am afraid the Minister picked a very unfortunate illustration when he mentioned slates. I think it will be generally agreed that you will not get slates in Ireland as cheaply as you will get them from across the water. What I had particularly in mind was cut stone for the front facings of buildings, and red bricks. Take, as an example, the College of Science, which is at present in possession of the Government. All the facings there are of Portland stone. Several of the buildings reconstructed in O'Connell Street following the fighting in 1916, and particularly the banks at the corner of Lower Abbey Street, are faced with Portland stone. I believe you could get limestone in Kilkenny quarry and in other quarries throughout Ireland which would be as suitable as the Portland stone, and which, excepting a slight difference in colour, would look as well. You can get red bricks in Ireland as cheap as, if not cheaper, than you can across the water. I am sorry the President picked slates as an illustration. I do not admit that they can be got as cheaply as across the water, yet our aim should be to get as far as possible in Ireland the material that is required. We do not suggest native industries should be subsidised if they are not going on as well as foreign ones. We all agree if you do not get them as cheaply in Ireland you should get them elsewhere.
The Minister has not read the amendment, I think. It is:—"The Minister for Finance, with the concurrence of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, may issue orders, and shall impose such conditions, exceptions, and limitations as he desires." In opposing the amendment, the Minister has suggested certain exceptions and limitations. They could be put in an Order. If they are reasonable they are still in his hands to put in an Order. This Bill purports to spend public money for the purpose of re-erecting premises which have been destroyed, and which will remain in possession of private persons. The Dáil also votes public money for public purposes to be spent directly by the Government. The Government has accepted that within certain conditions, exceptions, and limitations, the public money shall be spent as far as possible on goods produced and manufactured in Ireland. We are asking you to do with this expenditure of public money what you have already agreed to do with the expenditure of other public moneys—to impose, with such limitations and exceptions as you yourself prescribe, a condition that this money shall be spent on materials produced or manufactured within this country. It is a reasonable condition. The Minister will be the first to say that, legally, public taxation is not responsible for this expenditure, that it will have to come upon the local authority, which could not bear it. You are coming to the relief of the sufferers from this destruction. You have a right to impose certain conditions, and they will be mild conditions, at the discretion of the Ministry. A part of the reconstruction movement will be reconstruction and rehabilitation of industries, together with their encouragement. This is one way—a very direct and non-punitive way of encouraging those industries —that you shall, as far as possible, spend the award which has been given to you for reconstruction of premises in the purchase of home-manufactured materials. Without such a condition there is too great a likelihood of materials being brought in, perhaps from Germany, possibly from Russia, but at any rate from countries which are able to produce goods cheaply, and where, owing to currency conditions, goods, and materials can be produced and poured into this country at a rate which cannot be competed against. I recognise quite clearly that this question involves very many other questions, but it involves ultimately this problem, whether you are prepared to allow in all kinds of cheaply manufactured articles, produced under any conditions the producers are willing to suffer and simply pay in exchange grazed cattle. Ultimately you have that problem against you, just as you have had it for the last seventy or eighty or ninety years —whether this country is going to be a cattle grazing country, and have a population which is serving cattle graziers directly or indirectly, or whether you are to have an industrial country. The Bill that was introduced in the early stages of to-day's proceedings had relation to a teacher who insisted that there must be some positive assistance given to the revival of Irish industries. Here is a very easy, obvious, and opportune way of aiding that revival.
The weakness of the amendment seems to me to lie in the fact that it is after a decree has been given that this particular order is sought, and that a Judge, in awarding a decree, may be asked by counsel—and reasonably asked—to advert to the possibility of such an order. An able counsel could, no doubt, enlarge upon such possibilities, with the result that the particular award given would be increased appreciably You may say you have got to give this decree, remembering that it will be open to a Ministry, or to Ministries, to attach to it certain conditions, which may mean in effect and in practice that the value of the decree would be depreciated. As the President (Minister for Finance) pointed out, that would work out in practice as subsidising of a particular industry, not in any open way where how much can be measured, and not by any protective policy, but without consultation, without discussion or mandate, and without being in a position to measure the extent of the subsidy. It cannot be claimed that we have been unmindful of the necessity of fostering native industries. Even in difficult circumstances we have moved, and moved strongly and rapidly, towards the fostering of these within our own territories. The Local Government Department, for instance, has taken a big step in its policy of inviting the local authorities to pool their contracts so that nascent industry or the enterprising business man contemplating the laying out of capital can be given an inducement that with reasonable energy and initiative on his part there will be a market on the collective demand of the local authorities for the particular article if turned out up to standard. This question of fostering native industries by Governmental action by this particular method is of doubtful wisdom, and particularly doubtful wisdom when practically no steps are being taken to foster them by any other means. and when we are not even sure that the people themselves in an organised way— party organisations, even if I might say so, labour organisations—are not contributing their utmost to ensure that the products of the country will be bought within the country. This, of course, is an easy way. It seems a simple thing to put the onus on two Departments and say whenever a decree for compensation is given you can come along with your order and say, "Only Irish materials are to be used in this reconstruction." Does it not point straight to the possibility of the value of an award being decreased, perhaps twenty per cent.? It may be; there is nothing here to prevent it. What a clamour would be raised by a particular industry if you say "you must attach to the re-building award to which a reconstruction condition is attached, an order saying that only native stone or timber, and so on, shall be used," and it would be very hard to resist such an appeal. It would be more practicable, I think, that party organisations and Trade Union branches should act, and non-governmental steps should be taken to encourage the purchase of native products within the country, than that the Government should be asked to take power to attach conditions of this kind. If there is to be a protection policy in the country then let it be a declared protection policy; put the embargo or duty on foreign products, and let it be discussed openly, and all the consequences measured, but this is a subtle step in that direction without the fullest consideration of the consequences, and it would leave these two Ministries open to the charge consistently repeated, the recurring charge, that they were not using sufficiently the powers given by that amendment.
The President undoubtedly, in this matter, and on a recent occasion, laid his finger upon what is a weak spot in most of our efforts to promote Irish industry by preferential methods, that is the unfortunate tendency of firms who produce to take advantage of the situation that they are to be treated preferentially and to charge accordingly. As the Chairman of a publishing company years ago that advertised its policy of using nothing but Irish paper, I was made painfully aware of this, because the only firm that was capable of supplying the material that we used in very large quantities being aware of the situation applied the higher charge to us to enable them to compete by the cutting of prices with firms in Bristol and corresponding places in England. Now, as a member of the Council of the Dublin Industrial Development Association, I have since seen similar instances, or have become aware of them. I would suggest that this vice of the producer should not be allowed to close the door against efforts at preferential treatment that would have a fostering effect upon Irish industry. If firms can supply the demand of the country they ought to be encouraged to do it. They ought to be encouraged to develop, and the proper check should be put, and could easily be put as a Ministerial check upon efforts in the direction of profiteering. This demand for the use of Irish material in building is not a new thing. When University College, Dublin, was about to be built we had an insistent demand that only Irish materials, so far as these were available, for the purpose, should be used, and Deputy Nagle, in moving the amendment, might have mentioned the case of Ballinasloe limestone, and the beautiful effect of Ballinasloe limestone as a building material exhibited in University College, Earlsfort Terrace; and what is more beautiful, the bluish effect of the limestone in one of the most beautiful buildings in Dublin—the North British Mercantile Insurance Co.'s premises at the corner of Nassau Street and Dawson Street. Now, as regards slate, we are very much inclined to keep on using materials simply because they have been used. Slate is a primitive thing in comparison with the products of recent inventions. There was a time when houses, particularly in exposed situations, were roofed with flags—they were practically of a thickness that would entitle them to be called flags. Slate is only development of a thinner fabric. and is pretty much of the same chemical nature, but there are artificial slates, and anyone who recognises how the cost in building has been raised, because of the cost of timber, will be fully alive to this fact that when timber can be saved it is a very vital consideration, and timber can be saved in roofing if lighter stuff is used instead of slate. And it is possible to produce in Ireland, not with Irish products at the moment, but with imported materials, artificial slates — asbestos material—which will last quite as well, and is quite as serviceable, so that the difficulty about slates does not arise. Furthermore, as I mentioned on another occasion here, it is possible to have cement of the highest quality produced in Ireland if only the capital were put into it, and the capital would be put into it if only the demands were forthcoming; and here is an excellent opportunity of creating the demand. The Minister who has just spoken has pointed out an amendment, by implication, which, I think, would improve this. The amendment on the paper is not imperative on the Ministry. It empowers them to do this. Now, they need not exercise this power unless there is a local demand in the district where the restoration is going on; the public bodies that are concerned in the raising of the rates may petition for it. I hate to be returning to the subject of Art, but Art does enter into this consideration. It is notorious that the countryside might be disfigured by the employment of building materials that are not in harmony. There is a tendency to destroy the landscape in Ireland by houses with red tiled roofs, and buildings on the Swiss model, whereas if you look around and see where the local stuff is used, somehow the building fits into the landscape and is attractive; and, what is more, it has the additional advantage that it is adapted by its very materials to the weather that it has got to encounter. Where this is a demand of the local community, the Minister ought to be able to put in operation a power of this sort which would compel the building to be not according to the fancy or the whim of the rebuilder, but in harmony with the requirements of the district. Now, local quarries could be developed, and the almost lost art of masonry, which was once a very fine thing in the country districts in Ireland, could be revived, if we were insistent upon the reconstruction of houses in Ireland and factories in country districts with local material instead of imported steel, slate and concrete.
There is a great deal of difference between the action taken by the Government in giving preference to local products and compelling the decree-holder to do so. If the Department which is entering into contracts finds that materials are being imported in any way, it can immediately cease to give the preference. The decree-holder would, under this proposal, be in great difficulties, and probably would find it impossible to get relieved of the obligations placed upon him by the Order of the Minister for Finance, although these Orders might involve him in very serious losses. There is an aspect of this matter which, I think, goes outside the scope of this Bill, and may be lost sight of. If this particular provision were to be adopted, it would apply largely to building materials. I do not think, when it comes to the question of reinstating machinery, that very large quantities of the machinery for factories can be purchased here, and I do not think that in many such cases it would apply. However, I would fear that this might have the result of keeping up building costs, a matter which is of very serious importance here, and which will have to be taken into account a little later when we are dealing with the question of our housing policy. Housing in this country costs at least 50 per cent. above the British rate —perhaps a good deal more than 50 per cent. This Dáil has been paying a subsidy to housing at the rate of about £500 per house. If costs do not come down, there is no doubt that the solution, or anything approximating a solution, of the very urgent and vital problem of housing will be impeded, and for my part I would greatly hesitate to assent to anything that might provide a means of keeping up the present extravagant cost of housing, looking at it, not from the point of view merely of the social welfare of the people, but from the point of view of public health. One of the vital needs of the hour, in order that houses can be built, is that the cost of building should be reduced to some sort of reasonable dimensions, and I think that any kind of regulation in regard to materials, which would no doubt be taken hold of by interested parties to raise further the cost of housing, will be very much contrary to the public interest.
In discussing this question we heard Deputy Johnson indulge in his usual sneer. I think it is impossible, practically speaking, where cattle are concerned for Deputy Johnson to refrain from such action. We know that if Ireland has grown rich, or has any money behind it, and is in a sound financial position, it is because of her cattle and the farmers. We are urged to make Ireland an industrial country. How can Ireland become an industrial country if the people of the country do not want to take part in industry? Does Ireland want to be continually subsidised in order that she may compete with other countries? Where is the subsidy to come from? Is it to come from the clouds? The moment Irishmen are able to compete with the people of other countries then Ireland has a chance of becoming an industrial country. Until she is prepared to do that there is no use talking about industrial prosperity while we sit down and do as little as ever we can. There is no use talking about it, unless the spirit of the people is right, and unless the spirit behind it is right. I do think, and I know the country fairly well, that two or three of the items needed for building could be produced more extensively in Ireland than has been the case. One of the reasons why slates are not quarried in the last two or three years, and especially in the last six months, is that the owners could not get powder, or get it in sufficient quantities, and they had no market. If they got a reasonable market, and fair protection, slates could be raised in my county in three times the quantities that are being produced at present. And, I think, our slates are as good as those of any other country in the world. If you want stone, God knows there is as much stone in Ireland as anywhere else. We need not go anywhere for stone provided the people put their backs into the work. We want transit. We have the canals to take stuff to the coast, but I am afraid the railways are out of the question. The whole thing is a question of organisation. With that in an efficient state there are a whole lot of things that could be done. There is no use talking about timber. I do not think that native timber is the best, or that it is equal to foreign timber in durability or anything like it. Bricks can probably be produced in sufficient quantities in Ireland, but cement can not. Are you to wait until these things can be done and set going? We are told that in order to provide cement and bricks, we must get a cement factory and a brick factory. I think with proper organisation we should try and use the few things we produce in building, and it would do a great deal of good. The stone is in the country, and all you want is people to work it at a reasonable cost as they do in other countries, and try and organise the transit. These few things deserve attention. Slates and stones are a practical proposition, but I am afraid that some of the timber will have to be let go by the board. I think the Government would be well advised to try and work our supply of stone and slate by proper organisation; I do not ask them to spend any money.
I am disappointed at the poor encouragement Ministers have given to this amendment. It seemed to us that while the amendment is not mandatory it gives the Government an opportunity of putting in a proviso in any compensation that may be awarded to encourage, as far as possible, the use of Irish material. We have all been talking about encouraging Irish industry for twenty years but the time has now arrived that will enable us to put our professions into effect, and as far as possible we ought to do so. The President referred to slates, and what he said is quite true; that it is not possible to get slates. Why? Because the slate quarries only get occasional orders, and they are not producing the standard size of slate. Apart altogether from the question of subsidy, the Government could do a good deal in organising and encouraging the supply of Irish manufacture. I put it to the Minister for Local Government, who has been doing good work in organising supplies for local bodies, that he ought to take this question up in regard to building materials. A great lot can be done in that way and in the way of procuring Irish slates, bricks, cement and joinery. I agree with Deputy Gorey that Irish timber is not suitable. But the manufacture of timber could be carried on and all the joinery could be done on a large scale, if doors and sashes and so on were standardised. I quite agree with what the Minister said as to the wisdom of not expecting the Government to do everything, and of relying upon other organization. That, of course, has been tried in a good many respects and will again, particularly with the encouragement given by citing such authority as the Minister for Home Affairs on direct action. The men who work at the various ports, who could do so much in regard to imports and exports, will not lose sight of the encouragement given by the Minister.
I would like to say, in response to Deputy Gorey's remarks, that we are proposing to do exactly what he says is necessary. These industries have not been established, because there was no market. We suggest how to provide the market—the home market, and that is the market you have to look to. What we want to avoid, if possible, is the perpetuation of that state of things which relies upon what Deputy Gorey supports, and claims freedom to preach, simply following the trail of the highest price on the sellers' side, and the lowest price on the buyers' side. If we are going to follow that proposal through, as we have been doing, then I say you are going back to that stage in this country from whence we have been trying to move, where grazed cattle, being the cheapest and easiest wealth production, are going to dominate everything else. I know Deputy Gorey does not take that view; he does not think that ought to be the case; he does not believe in leaving this country in the hands of the rancher simply because cattle grazing is the easiest way of increasing wealth, but although he does not believe it that is where his argument would lead us to, and that is where the policy of the Ministry, as expounded here to-day, would lead us to, though I am pleased to say that is not the policy they practise. I am convinced we must either voluntarily, or by some kind of Governmental pressure, put something in the way of this free competition—the competition of the cheapest product from abroad with the products of the home market. If we are going to rely upon this free play of competition, and simply provide the dearest market with the produce of Ireland's land, and let the recipients of that price in these foreign markets purchase the things they require in the cheapest market—it may be England, Germany, Japan, or China—then we are going to arrive at the stage when "the fruitful mother of flocks and herds" that we have heard so much about will prevail, and the possibility of industrial development will go by the board. The purpose of this amendment, as has been pointed out, is merely to give an opportunity and the authority of the law to the Ministry to use its influence to promote Irish industries. This amendment will assist them in relieving the unemployment that the destructive policy of the past few years has produced. The Minister for Local Government deals with housing. The suggestions made by Deputy O'Brien are put forward, and I hope will bear fruit at an early date, with the idea that there should be a policy of standardisation and production ahead on a large scale to meet the necessary needs of housing that will cheapen. to a very considerable degree, the cost of housing. The trouble is not a wage trouble; it is a trouble of materials more than wages, and of bad organisation. If you think that the problem of housing is going to be met simply by driving down wages, then there is going to be more and more trouble, and we believe honestly——
The Deputy is straying from the amendment now. He is on the question of wages and housing.
I accept your ruling, A Chinn Chomhairle. The condition that Ministers may, under this amendment, impose upon the recipients of compensation may even include wages. It says, "Such conditions, exemptions, and limitations as the Order may prescribe." Conceivably, Ministers may think that the wages condition would warrant the exemption.
That is the next amendment on the Paper, and we can discuss it on that.
I accept your ruling, A Chinn Chomhairle, but I urge Ministers that they should accept the principle of this amendment. If they can suggest any variation in its terms, I am sure the mover would be very glad to meet the Ministry in that matter. The principle of it, I had hoped, would have been accepted, because it would have created the market that Deputy Gorey so much desires to see.
One matter that ought not to be lost sight of is this, that these reinstatement conditions are attached mainly to the reinstatement of factories, workshops and places of that kind. The cause of a large part of the unemployment that exists is due to the fact that these factories and workshops are not running, and that the men who worked in them are idle because there is no place for them to work. The only way to relieve that unemployment is to get these factories going again, and as quickly as possible. If you are to wait until you get men of capital to set up cement and joinery factories. and other places, to supply the materials for building, the people who ought to be working, and working within six months from the time that the decree is given, will be on the road for years. Another point is, that if you stimulate a series of artificial industries in supplying materials to rebuild these factories—work which will have to be done quickly, and done in a very short time—you will have a great rush of employment during a year or two, but as soon as the factories have been rebuilt, the men who have been drawn into these artificial and temporary industries will be thrown out of work, and you will be faced again with the old unemployment problem, just as happened during the war, when there was a great boom in employment, and then the slump after. Surely, it would be a great deal better to rebuild the factories, that we had and want to see reconstructed, as quickly as possible, in order to absorb the unemployment caused by the fact that they are in ruins to-day, instead of trying to create artificial and temporary industries.
I think if Deputy Fitzgibbon looks around he will find there are not so many factories to be reconstructed. There are shops, but his argument, I think, does not apply to this part of the Bill at all. He will find, I think, there has not been a great deal of destruction of factories, machinery, or anything like that. No one on this side of the Dáil suggests that there should be any delay, or anything that would cause delay, in such reconstruction. He will find that he is a little bit astray so far as the factories are concerned.
I have heard, in Court, decrees given, amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds, for the destruction of factories all over Ireland.
I just wish to say, I think it is a very desirable principle that should be followed, whenever possible—that Irish material should be used. In the present instance, I think, we must look at the matter from two points of view. The first is the economic point of view. I am afraid that Irish materials could not, in every instance, be employed economically in the process of reconstruction, admitting, of course, that the Order will be optional. I still think there is an ethical point of view. Presumably this compensation is given to parties because they have a right to it. Have we then any right to hedge in the injured party by restrictions, or limitations, in regard to his right to this compensation? I think that is a point that has been lost sight of in the discussion. I was rather surprised that Deputy Magennis did not refer to the ethical point of view. I think there is a principle there. If the injured party has a right to compensation, I think the utmost limits have been reached in the Bill, as it stands, in restricting him within his rights. I would be altogether opposed to further restricting him.
The reason such an amendment has been moved may be attributed, I suppose to one of three causes—either the employers, the employees, or the organisation; perhaps to the three of them altogether. In a matter of this sort, if the Order were carried out in the spirit in which the amendment is moved, it would mean that each one of the three knows there is an opportunity for him of getting something that he is not honestly making his contribution towards. If it be output that is wrong, we are going to continue it; if it be profiteering on the part of the employer, we are going to continue it; if it be organisation, we are going to continue that bad organisation. Possibly the whole three of them are at fault. If only two of the three, it means the continuance of it, and I am satisfied, from my experience of the business of the country, that unless there is an entire reconsideration of this problem these industries will go out of existence, and go out of existence through their own criminal fault and neglect in contributing to it.
- Tomás de Nógla.
- Riobárd Ó Deaghaidh.
- Darghal Figes.
- Tomás Mac Eoin.
- Seoirse Ghabháin Uí Dhubhthaigh.
- Ailfrid Ó Broin.
- Liam Ó Briain.
- Liam Mag Aonghusa.
- Tomás Ó Conaill.
- Aodh Ó Cúlacháin.
- Liam Ó Daimhín.
- Cathal Ó Seanáin.
- Seán Buitléir.
- Domhnall Ó Muirgheasa.
- Domhnall Ó Ceallacháin.
- Liam T. Mac Cosgair.
- Donchadh Ó Guaire.
- Séamus Breathnach.
- Deasmhumhain Mac Gearailt.
- Domhnall Mac Cárthaigh.
- Gearóid Mac Giobúin.
- Liam Thrift.
- Seosamh Ó Faoileacháin.
- Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
- Fionán Ó Loingsigh.
- Criostóir Ó Broin.
- Risteárd Mac Liam.
- Caoimhghin Ó hUigín.
- Próinsias Bulfin.
- Séamus Ó Dóláin.
- Próinsias Mag Aonghusa.
- Éamon Ó Dúgáin.
- Peadar Ó hAodha.
- Séamus Ó Murchadha.
- Liam Mac Sioghaird.
- Tomás Ó Domhnaill.
- Éarnán de Blaghd.
- Domhnall Ó Broin.
- Séamus de Burca.
- Micheál Ó Dubhghaill.