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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 27 Mar 1923

Vol. 2 No. 46

BILLE UM AM SAMHRAIDH, 1923 (SUMMER TIME BILL, 1923). - Second Stage.

We come now to consider a piece of legislation about which there will be no unanimity either in the country or in the Dáil; and there is, of course, a reason for that probable absence of unanimity. The Bill is not in the interests of all the people. It is not claimed, it never has been claimed, and it is not proposed to claim now that it is directly in the interests of all the people. The case for this Bill would be rather that it is so much in the interests of a section of the people which is not inconsiderable, that the other section, possibly larger, who may be slightly inconvenienced by the Bill, should be prepared to put up with that inconvenience for the sake of the greater good. The case for the Bill is based on National economy in the broadest sense, the saving of light and fuel, considerations of public health, reacting, as they must, on the generations in the future. The case against the Bill is that the agricultural community will have to do a sum in subtraction every time they look at their watches. Besides, much as some of us might wish it, we do not stand alone. We do not stand absolutely isolated in the world's scheme. We form part and parcel of an economic group, and there is interdependence rather than independence between the communities of that group. Considerations of commerce, considerations of public convenience in two countries closely grouped and associated are in favour of this Bill. The question of trains, traffic generally, post office considerations, banking considerations, and so on, are behind these proposals, and much as I have tried to investigate the matter I can find no really substantial considerations against the Bill that should be allowed to outweigh the good to the commerce of the country, and to all that large body of people within the country whose fate has thrown them into the position of being indoor workers. The extra hour in the evening for these people is of very definite value, and of very definite value not merely to them, but to the country as a whole. There is not a pulmonary disease or a nervous disease which cannot be traced one way or another back to the lack of exercise, and back to the lack of fresh air. The advantages of fresh air and the health-giving rays of the sun are invaluable. The presence or absence of that extra hour will react in the future for the people whose lot throws them into the group of those who work behind closed doors, and inside walls. That will react ultimately upon the health of those people as a whole.

If we want to make for a stunted, degenerate, neurotic population we will deny to those indoor workers that extra hour's sunshine and exercise in the evening. The case against the Bill is not as considerable as it seems. A good deal of this opposition sprang up in the first year when this legislation was introduced. It was introduced as a war measure, and we can say that the bulk of the people of this country were not with the British in that war. The British introduced this Bill as a measure of national economy—to save fuel and light in a time of war—and we, in our own way, said, "Well, if it suits them it cannot suit us, and if it is going to be a help to them we should be against it." We make no apology for that, and we never did make apology for it. It was the traditional policy of this country to be always for the Power that was against the country that was sitting on our chest. Then in that state of anti-British feeling in the country, this Summer Time Bill came on and we all raised our plaintive voices against "this rotten British time and this rotten British legislation." Now, with the responsibilities of our own housekeeping upon us, we have to realise that for this as for other measures operative in the past there is a good deal to be said, and there is a good deal of sound sense to recommend it. We have to get out of that mere irresponsible and unsound criticism of measures of this kind. There is just one particular section amongst the agricultural community which this Bill does not suit and that is the farmer on a very big scale who carries on both mixed and dairy farming. I have his case here and I will read it:—

Agricultural opinion, though by no means unanimous on the point, is unfavourable to Summer Time. Investigation shows that there is very little reasonable ground for this opposition. Indeed, except in the case of mixed farming—that is combined dairying with corn growing—scarcely any hardship arises. This class of farming is not extensively pursued in Ireland and no difficulty occurs except during the harvesting. Where dairy farming is engaged in, milkers are required to rise very early in order to have the milk ready for the delivery trains. Then a break occurs in their work as owing to heavy morning dews harvesting operations must be postponed until the day is well advanced. If this interval is spent in carrying out minor duties on the farm, the employers are forced to pay overtime rates for the extra work necessary in the evening, which appears to be the best time for bringing in the crops for storage in the haggards. It must be added, however, that these difficulties are not experienced by farmers engaged in fruit and market gardening because fruit and vegetables are benefited by being gathered with the dew on and transported during the cool of the day. Besides, farmers in the vicinity of large towns owing to Summer Time have additional sources of labour for evening work during the harvest season thrown open to them.

The difficulty in Ireland appears to be due to the agricultural labourer being disinclined to change his hours of labour. The probable reason is that by the operation of the Labourers' Act he has become possessed of a plot of ground to which he devotes his spare time and he is therefore unwilling to work for his employer after six o'clock in the evening. If this difficulty could be overcome by some arrangement, whereby his employer would grant him facilities for looking after his allotment—say by the loan of horses or implements or an occasional day off—the opposition of the farming class to Summer Time would dwindle away.

Taking a broad view of the question the country districts are dependent on the towns for the marketing of most of the produce of the farms, and the inhabitants of the towns are overwhelmingly in favour of the continuance of the Summer Time arrangements, having benefited morally, physically and materially thereby. It seems therefore in the best interests of the State that the farming community should be induced to make arrangements so that the artificial advance of the day by one hour during the Summer months should not adversely affect their interests. In practically all the European countries which have adopted the Summer Time principle, the farmers have met the same difficulties as in Ireland, but the national and international benefits have been so great that the farmers have withdrawn their opposition.

After this piece of legislation had been in operation in England for some time a committee was set up to hold a searching investigation into its effects, and to show whether in their opinion that legislation should be continued or not. I have the report of that committee before me, and it shows from a great many different sections of the community, an opinion overwhelmingly in favour of the altered time for the summer months. I propose to read one of two clauses of the report of the committee——

We do not want it.


The Committee says that the replies received to the very comprehensive inquiries described under para. 9 show beyond all question that the opinion of employers in every trade in industry and business throughout the country is overwhelmingly in favour of summer time. The Committee summarise the evidence on point of detail under headings such as the Effect on Health of Workers, the Saving of Artificial Light, and so on. The only industry which had any opposition to offer was the cotton trade. The evidence under the heading of Public Health is very striking, and in a section here dealing particularly with the effects in Ireland the difference of opinion amongst the rural community is admitted. But the case simply rests on this: That the advantage to the town workers and to the people who work indoors is so very great that the slight practical inconvenience to the agricultural community should be borne, and borne cheerfully, for the sake of the greater good of the country as a whole. In addition to the advantage to health of a large section of the people, there is also the very large question of the National economic aspect. It would be impossible to produce figures showing to what extent the country benefits, but it stands to reason that there must be a very considerable national economy in fuel and light as a result of the operation of the Bill. I move the Second Reading of the Bill.

I second that.

Before offering any observations on the Bill I want to extend my sympathy to the Minister who introduced this measure. I sympathise with him in the platitudes that he uttered, and in which he did not believe. It is quite patent to anybody sitting here, that he does not believe in what he urged. Of course, we cannot blame our modern legislators. They are attempting to do something that was never done before. They are attempting to do something that the Creator never intended should be done. It seems to be that this phase of modern legislation aims at out-doing the Creator. They are trying to show that they are cleverer and know more than the Lord did when he created the world. I have listened to the Minister's opinion about English opinion. Everybody knows, without being told, that England and Ireland are two different countries.

English time is considerably earlier than Irish time according to the sun. I think there is a difference of between 25, or perhaps, 45, minutes between Irish and Greenwich time. That has already been conceded. Added to that you want another 60 minutes. There is no similarity between Ireland and England in the matter of industry. Ireland is purely an agricultural country; practically speaking, it has no other industries worth talking of. England is purely an industrial country. The bulk of its population works in factories. There is no similarity between the peoples of the two countries as regards their method of living, or their outlook. We have listened to a lot about fresh air in the evening. I would like if the Minister, or anybody who has studied this question, would give us figures, or even decimals of figures, indicating the difference between fresh air in the evening and fresh air in the morning. It may be worked out in fractions for that matter, but I would like to get the figures. If one gets off an hour earlier in the evening it means that one goes into a factory an hour earlier in the morning. I would like the Minister to give us the relative values between the morning and the evening air. How will an extra hour do all the things that the Minister claims? It is all very well to make statements and to read extracts from reports, but how can he prove the claim he makes?

It is said that you can prove anything on paper; you can for fools, but I think, you cannot prove very much to men who know their business, and who believe that God was right and that He knew a little about the world when He created it. Why not go the whole hog and make this country similar to Australia? You are looking for 1 hour and 45 mins.; why not go the whole 12, and convert night into day? It is a wonder this—shall I call it a disease—has not spread to Canada and the rest of the Colonies, and that they are not putting on the same time in their countries as in England. It would be quite as logical, and there would be as much reason in so doing as there is in this proposition. The Minister has admitted candidly that this measure is not in the interests of all the people. As a matter of fact, I believe it would be in the interests of a very small section, possibly one-fifth or one-sixth of the population. We are asked at this age of the world to allow the one-fifth or the one-sixth to make arrangements whereby they would be considered, while the remainder would be made white slaves. It is argued that the alteration would be good for some. Perhaps it would be good for Bank officials and others of that sort. In my opinion, one of the reasons that we have taken up this is because, as a people, we have been fond of taking up cant phrases and cheap inventions. A cant phrase is not out three or four days in England when it is in vogue in Ireland. We are fond of imitations without considering whether the things we imitate are right or wrong, or are likely to be successful. A Commission on Agriculture has been sitting for some time. Has any evidence been given, by witnesses examined there, in favour of this measure? This Commission has been dealing with an important industry in this country, and evidence has been given before it that represents the considered opinions of men who know their business—not mere platitudes from those who do not. How would this suggestion go down with the bog men of Leix or Offaly?

Or Kilkenny.

Yes, Kilkenny; or, to go further still, how would it go down with the people in Clare, where time counts for most? Has any evidence been given at the Commission in favour of this measure? I do not know what evidence has been given, but I venture to ask that question, because I know there are sensible men giving evidence there, and I am sure that not a word in favour of summer time has been said. Here are some of the arguments that can be put against this measure:—The average agriculturist is not a fool. He knows that the early morning is not the time to do work. In the morning they are waiting for the dews to clear away in order to allow them to deal with crops. We know that people have to get up to milk cows in order to supply the Dublin markets; they have to get up at an early, unseasonable and unnatural hour. We want to drive them to get up an hour earlier, so as to give comfort to a few of the fly-boys about the city. We want, by this suggestion, to have the railway trains start an hour earlier, to get the people up to do the milking and to get that milk on the trains an hour earlier than should or could be the case, if any interest were taken in the people's welfare. In the creameries work would have to be started an hour earlier, and, because of that, earlier hours would have to be observed by those who send the milk long distances. Of course, these things will not count in the scheme of things here.

The schools are another matter. People in the country generally have families, and in the morning they have a good many other things to do in addition to getting the children ready for school. Now they cannot do the latter. Fairs are another matter. You have markets here in Dublin. Trains all have to be run an hour earlier. I make a very fair proposition. We want to give the same liberty to people in the country as we would like to have ourselves. We do not want to coerce the residents of cities or towns, and if people in urban areas want to make arrangements let them do so. We give them the liberty we demand for ourselves. We will not have laws from them, but we have no objection to their making laws to suit themselves. I want to be quite honest with the Minister and the Dáil on behalf of our people. We have opposed this under the English regime. We have opposed it as much as we can. We will continue to oppose it, and to obstruct this measure, and will call on our people to refuse to send their children to the National School. We will block this measure in every way we can. We look upon it as an unnatural measure, because it is an attempt to improve on nature, and I have not so much respect for the arguments of the legislators as to think that they are able to improve on nature. Notwithstanding the fact that I have a respect for the Minister, I ask the Dáil to reject this measure.

I was waiting for my friends on the left to indicate in what way they looked on this particular measure, but I notice they are rather in the background to-day. There are members on my left who represent a considerable portion of the rural dwellers in this country. The leading member on the left represents a good deal of agricultural labourers in North County Dublin. Every morning in the week Dublin has a market, and he is condemning his constitutents, if he does not vote against this measure, to six or eight hours' night time in the week. The Dublin market opens for potatoes at 8 o'clock. The unfortunate farmer has to get up at 3-30, if you calculate three hours for driving and 1½ hours for getting ready, to oblige people in the city. The thing is morally wrong. We are told that the majority should rule. Here is a measure principally directed for the management of the people in the cities, and the requirements necessary for them. These requirements could be met by private arrangement. We are told that railway and banking arrangements hold in accordance with other countries. Banks open at 10 o'clock in the morning. Why could they not open at 9 o'clock? What is wrong in saying that all Banks should open at 9 and close at 2? All the Chambers of Commerce could do the same, and you would have the same advantages effected as you have in this Bill, and you would not be forcing us in the country to fall in with those new-fangled ideas which we do not require.

I shall not touch on the obstruction to agriculture with which Deputy Gorey has dealt, but I would point out that Germany was a great nation before she brought in this new time. So was France, and so was England, and the French to-day are wondering whether they shall not dispense with this measure, and adopt what is known as the Strasburg hour, which will place them in the same position as we are in to-day. We are twenty-five or thirty minutes in front of the sun. You cannot say the people in France are not intellectual, and they have a population of 40 millions in the country. With all the association they have with others they will dissociate themselves from their neighbours. Why cannot we who are the most western people of Europe, the last place——


God made.

I am sorry you are so much ashamed of your country, but remember what applies to other countries in Europe, that is those closely associated with No. 1 The Greenwich Meridian, which is fifty per cent. of an impost on us over and above those other people. The West of our country is fully 9 degrees west of the No. 1 Greenwich Meridian, and therefore we are fifty per cent. handicapped over Scotland, England, France and even Germany. Germany has it all her own way.

As regards the national standpoint I would point out to the Minister for Home Affairs, and I also have respect for this Minister, because he deals with those matters in a businesslike way, that he is going to impose legislation which he knows will not be carried out by the majority of those in this country. He knows that four-fifths of the people will not give a twopenny ticket for his legislation, and will not obey it, and he cannot make them obey it. He could avoid all this by letting things run as they were running, and by advising the Chambers of Commerce, the Bank Managers, and the Insurance Companies to bring their employees one hour earlier in the morning to the office.

I must ask the sympathy of the Dáil in the particular dilemma I am in at the present time. I am torn between two allegiances. On the one side you have a large proportion of the farmers, and on the other you have practically everybody else. That is a rather awkward position to find myself in, but there is one comfort, and that is, that we can treat the question upon its merits and not as a political or class issue. The merits of the case are, to my mind, simple enough. To one section there is not a loss but a certain amount of inconvenience, and to the other section summer time is not only a convenience, but a positive gain. That sums up the position. I have listened to Deputy Gorey and Deputy Wilson, and neither has alleged actual loss. The most they have alleged is inconvenience in a greater or less degree. In fact, I have not seen it suggested anywhere at any time by any of the opponents of summer time, that there is actual loss to any class, so I repeat that the position is that you have on the one side a certain amount of inconvenience, and, on the other, not only convenience but positive gain. If that truly represents the position I do not care whether we speak for the farmers, for commerce, or for any other class, I think it is the duty of Parliament to regard the country as a whole, and to pass this Bill. There would, I agree, be actual loss as far as farmers are concerned if they had to start work an hour earlier—if their workmen came an hour earlier and left an hour earlier that would be a considerable loss, it would be losing an hour's sun, but, as far as I know, and I have discussed the question with many farmers, there has never been any difficulty in making arrangements with agricultural labour. Simply the thing is that the labourer comes to work an hour later by the clock and goes an hour later. It would be a serious thing, I admit, if that could not be done, but, as far as I know, there has never been any difficulty in making the necessary arrangements. Deputies stated that the country will not observe this time or obey this law. It is one of those laws that ought to be very popular in this country, because it does not matter two pence whether you obey it or not.


Why bring it in?

Nobody need go by it except he is going to a train—and he reed not obey it then, for as a Deputy behind reminds me, if he does not obey it nobody will punish him.


He will be in time for the next train.

He will be in time for the next certainly. There has been some mention that the health of children is interfered with by their getting up an hour earlier. That is a subject I do not know much about, but with great respect to the numerous Deputies who do, I take leave to doubt it, and I prefer to wait to hear the medical Deputies on the subject. The Minister for Home Affairs has evidence which shows that the adoption of summer time has had a very beneficent influence on public health generally. In regard to travelling, farmers travel less than business men, and small farmers hardly travel at all by train. Business men want this. It does not make any difference to a farmer whether he has to catch a train at 10, 11, 12, 1 or 2 o'clock; he makes arrangements accordingly. In one case there is serious inconvenience, and that is to the farmer who has to take his milk every morning to the train, say, at 8 o'clock, but that applies only to a section of the community small in numbers who have to take their milk, let us say every morning to the train at 8 o'clock, or their cattle two or three times in the week, on market mornings. They have to get up and have their cows milked, and the milk at the train at, say, 7 or 8 o'clock; that is a certain amount of inconvenience, but will anyone who thinks over the subject say that it is in any way commensurate with the gain from the adoption of summer time? Great inconvenience and confusion would be caused to the whole commerce of the country by not adopting summer time, and by having our Post Offices, Banks, Railways, Shipping Offices and Stock Exchanges, and so on, run on a different time table. If I am right in stating that there will be no difficulty in arranging with agricultural labour to come in an hour later and leave an hour later by the clock, I do not see any inconvenience. I have examined the subject very carefully, and to the small farmer who travels very little, and does his own labour it means little or nothing. He will grumble about it, and object to it. If he asks you the time and you say, "it is 6," he will say, "is that 5 now, or is it 7?" His objection to it is the mental effort that it requires to make the necessary calculations.

That is what it comes to. There is no question about it, but that to the commerce of the country it would be extremely serious if we did not adopt the same time-table as the countries with whom we trade. There is no representative of commerce here who will not admit that; in fact, commerce is calling cut for it. But even apart altogether from these great advantages I would be sorry to think that farmers, as a class, would be so illiberal for what is only an inconvenience to themselves, and at that a small inconvenience, as to begrudge the people who live indoors, who work in offices, in factories, in cities, the measure of enjoyment that long summer evenings will give them. I do not believe that any farmer who thinks over it would for a moment, for the sake of a little inconvenience he would have to suffer himself, deprive all the other classes of the positive advantages in the way of leisure, the enjoyment of the sun and the open air that they could get in the long summer evenings. An hour makes a big difference in the sun, as any farmer knows. The fact is that the opposition to this Bill is really reactionary. I do not believe that the farmers, if they think it over, if they weigh up the situation themselves, would oppose this Bill. The Bill asks you to put on the clock. If you do not put on the clock you are putting it back.

I know, from personal experience that some of the arguments used by the Minister for Agriculture do not hold at all. For instance, he holds that because the Stock Exchange in London opens at a certain time the Stock Exchange in Dublin should do the same thing. I saw from experience that I had in America that while New York had adopted summer time Pennsylvania had the sun time, and there was a Stock Exchange in Philadelphia and another in New York, and it did not seem to trouble them. The trains went the same, and it did not seem to cause any inconvenience, although trains were running every hour or oftener, between the two. I do not think that that argument holds very much. Again, until recently we were 25 minutes behind England, and it did not seem to cause any inconvenience to the trade and commerce of this country until in the last few years the time was made the same in Ireland as in England. At the present time we are 25 minutes ahead of the sun and if we put on another hour we shall be 1 hour and 25 minutes ahead of it. and in the West of Ireland probably much more. I submit it is a loss to the farmer. As I know farming in the North of Ireland they begin work at about 8 o'clock in the morning, but even at that time there are several kinds of work, especially as regards hay and corn, that cannot begin at that time. It is too early, and the dew is too heavy, and I do not think you can compare this country to other countries which do not get the same amount of dew. I know I never saw it in America, where the grass is dry at all hours of the day and night. In Russia, I think, the time is three hours, or two hours, at least, in advance of the sun, but there no one went to work earlier than 11 o'clock in the morning, and, I think, that is the reason they were ahead of the sun. There is an argument for the cities, and an argument for the country, and I do not think that both should be mixed up. I think you should leave it optional for the cities—for the Dublin Corporation, for instance—to make Summer Time regulations if it wishes. Let the County Councils make regulations for the rural districts and the Urban Councils make the times for the towns, if they like. That is the way that it is done in America. Then if Dublin believes in having the benefit of having the sun in the evening and working early in the morning, there is good reason why it should adopt Summer Time. If the farmers of Dublin cannot work in the morning you may say that the farm labourers can come to work an hour later, but they will also like to get off at 5 o'clock, when it is 5 by the recognised time. They will come an hour later, but they will look to get off an hour earlier in the evening. I think it is a great inconvenience to the farmers, and the same arguments apply to the children. It is not easy to get children ready in the morning, and get them to walk two or three miles to school.

What about the schoolmasters?

I do not mind the schoolmasters so much; they get the benefit in the evening. The children suffer. It is all very well where you have only to walk around the corner, as in the city but where a child has to walk a couple of miles in the country it is a serious consideration for the children. I believe in sticking to the farmers, and I believe I will stick to them in this.

I would like to endorse the remarks of the last speaker. As far as I understand the views of the people in my constituency they would certainly be very much opposed to this Bill. In trying to voice their opinions I intend to vote against it. It seems to me that there is only one service in the community which this really affects, and that is traffic, and it seems simply a question of an unnecessary dodge to call 8 o'clock 7 o'clock. It seems only a question to me of regulating time-tables of the railways in order to meet whatever regulations should be made. I believe that the constituency that I represent is typical of most Irish constituencies, and I have a recollection that on one particular occasion when I went down there for a meeting, they had three or four different times; they had what they called chapel-time, railway time, and they used to call new time freak time, and it seemed to lead to the most indescribable confusion.

The introduction of the arrangements which this Bill proposes would lead to indescribable confusion; at least that is my experience. As Deputy Wilson said the people will not observe the new regulations, they will stand by their own time, and that time of the people will be different from the time of the railways and other channels of traffic, and for that other element of the community, such as commercial travellers, or peripatetic politicians there will be at least confusion as to how exactly to make their arrangements. If you want to have a change in hours, in regard to traffic in trains, why not change the hour of departure and arrival of these trains? If a train starts at 8 o'clock, you want to make it still start at 8 o'clock, but to call the hour 7 o'clock, instead of making the train start really at 7 o'clock without advancing the hour. I do not know whether I am making myself perfectly clear, but I think I am as clear, at any rate, in my explanation, as the logic embodied in this Bill. It is to me one of those foolish ideas that have been handed on to us from our connection with that strange country known as the United Kingdom, and I do not see any reason why we should perpetuate this absurdity that has been handed over to us. I do not know that there is any thing even in the Treaty or the Constitution which makes it incumbent upon us to fashion our ideas, in matters like these, on the lines laid down by the people in Great Britain addicted to freaks of statesmanship, or alleged statesmanship, which, I think, will lead to confusion and inconvenience. I agree with Deputy McCartan that there is quite a possibility of finding a way out of the difficulty by allowing, what he suggests might be defined as, local option on this Bill. Cities and municipalities might arrange, if it suited them, to have something of this kind, and Co. Councils, which have to deal with agricultural interests, could decide whether it suits them or not. But to attempt to force it on the country, as a whole, will not do. It will not be observed, and it will only lead to confusion, where people try to observe it.

I should like to support the Bill, and I would point out to Deputy Gorey that I think very few of the farmers would be seriously interfered with in their business by the proposal to institute summer time. Why should the farmers get up an hour earlier if they do not wish to do so? Why not remain an hour longer in bed?

They may have to get the children to school or they may have to catch a train.

The case of catching the train is the exception, and I do not think the question of the school raises a very serious objection. I do believe that children can be got out to school an hour earlier and I hold that it will benefit them to send them out an hour earlier.

(At this stage An Leas-Cheann Comhairle took the chair.)

Outside of Ireland school hours are very much earlier than in Ireland and very much to the advantage of the school-going population. I do not think it is a very serious objection that children have to be got out an hour earlier to school.

There is one section of the population which will be very seriously affected by this summer time proposal. The farmers and the farmers' employees spend most of their time in the fresh air; for them summer time is practically a holiday time, a time for recuperation. Work in the summer time on the land is done in the fresh air, but there are tens of thousands of slum-dwellers here in Dublin condemned, very often, to spend most of their time in tenements. There are thousands in Cork and in Limerick and in Wexford and in Kilkenny and the only holiday they get, or possibly can get, will be the little extension of summer time in the evenings during the summer. These people, I contend, will be very seriously affected by the introduction or non-introduction of this Summer Time Bill. And it is because these people will be so seriously affected that I purpose to vote in support of the Bill. I contend that anyone who does not wish to get up at the new time need not get up. That is general; there certainly will be exceptions. If you want to catch a train you must get up in time, perhaps an hour earlier than usual, but then you can go to bed an hour earlier. If a person gets up an hour earlier in the morning, and wishes a long rest, there is nothing to prevent that person going to bed an hour earlier in the evening. There are thousands and thousands of clerical workers who will be affected, and I also hold that hundreds of thousands of children in the slums will be affected with considerable advantage by the introduction of this Summer Time. I do not at all wish to dwell upon the economic side, from the point of view of the saving of artificial light, because that is very obvious, but I wholeheartedly support this Bill.

I listened to Professor Whelehan, and the Minister for Agriculture, but they fail to convince me by any of their arguments in favour of this new Summer Time Bill. Deputy Whelehan says it is not necessary for every person to rise an hour earlier if they do not wish to. I say it is necessary upon almost every day of the week. It is incumbent upon people in charge of children, and also upon people who have business in the towns and at fairs to get trains or other modes of conveyance to attend to their business, and I should like to know how can these people remain an hour longer in bed when they have to get up an hour earlier. They have to see that the children are got ready for school in proper time, and that could not be done if people remained an hour longer in bed. I thought the Minister for Agriculture had some sympathy for the farming community until this evening, but this evening he used every endeavour in his power to waylay the community that he represents. We are compelled to pay rates and taxes, and we must find the money to do so. Still the Minister for Agriculture, and the Government for whom he speaks, want to hamper us to every extent that they possibly can by forcing this Summer Time upon the country.

Still we are told we must pay our annuities, our rents, our taxes, etc., and that the panacea is Summer Time, whether we lose the best hours of the day by this Bill or not. I do assure you that the country will not take the least notice of it. I know, as far as my part of the country is concerned, the people will not take the least notice of it, and I would advise the people in every agricultural constituency in the country to take up the same attitude towards it. We are told that there is a majority in favour of Summer Time. As one who had the honour of sitting on the Agricultural Commission for the last two or three months I can say that of the many witnesses examined I did not hear one speak in favour of the Summer Time. In fact I can say that every witness examined was thoroughly opposed to the introduction of this Summer Time. We had witnesses before us representative of the different sections and different classes of the community. Every one of them was questioned as to whether or not they were in favour of Summer Time, and I can say that every one of them decried it, and said they did not want it in the country at all. The evidence given before the Commission on this question, and our own experience in the country, goes to show that Summer Time is not wanted by the people. If people in the cities want such a measure they can arrange the time to suit themselves, and we will not find fault with them, but leave us in the country our own time, or, as we say amongst ourselves, God's time. We will not quarrel with the townspeople, no matter what they do, if they do not hamper us with a measure like this which we do not want.

I have an open mind on this subject, and I am not at all convinced by any of the arguments, either on the one side or the other. Time is a matter of convention, pure and simple. Deputy Gorey says people will not observe it, and Deputy Doyle says the country will not notice it. That will be the way, too, with ourselves—we will forget what time it is. Time is a matter of pure convention, and it does not affect people in the least. I remember one time getting up to go to a train. We used to have a train at that time.

It must have been a very late one.

I mean we used to see a train passing every day. I went to the station and was just late for the train. I remarked to the Stationmaster that I thought I was in time, as the other train had not come on. The Stationmaster said to me, "That train will not come on until 10 o'clock." I then asked: "What time is it now?" and the Stationmaster replied "It is only 7 o'clock." That, I suggest, emphasises the point I make, that time is a matter of convention, and that it does not affect people at all. I am not greatly impressed by the arguments of Deputy MacCartan, or Deputy Milroy, to the effect that the people should have local option. That, I think, would mean local confusion. My mind at least is open on the matter.

Will you vote on the question?

I am not absolutely enamoured with this Bill, but yet I have heard nothing to make me vote against it. I believe that, with some amendments, the Bill could be made to meet the convenience of our friends in the country, and to materially assist the dwellers in the towns.

A Daniel come to judgement.

A lot has been said about school-going children, and about school hours. As far as the rural areas are concerned, I think the Minister for Education could make arrangements to suit the convenience of school-going children, and that such arrangements, in the form of amendments, could be embodied in the Bill before it is finally passed. Of course, the passing of the measure may cause inconvenience to some people. For instance, people will have to get up an hour earlier in rural districts if they are going to catch a train, but on this matter, I think, the convenience of the great majority should prevail. I do not know whether a good case has been made out for the Post Office as regards the arrangements to suit commercial interests between the Government in the North of Ireland and the Free State Government, and the Governments of Ireland and England. I think that a majority will be found to vote in favour of the Bill. A good many Deputies who spoke said a lot about the children. I do not know whether they were qualified, any more than myself, to speak for them, but I think the arguments they used against the Bill, as far as children are concerned, can be easily got over with a little give and take. As far as labour is concerned, with very few exceptions, I think, the farm labourers in the country will readily fall in with the new time arrangements, and in a manner to suit the convenience of their employers in the matter of starting and quitting work. In previous years the arrangements worked very well as between farmers and their labourers. The old hours were observed with very few exceptions, and I think very little, if any, inconvenience was caused to farmers. I think if the matter were properly put before a conference representative of the Farmers' and the Labourers' Unions, that an arrangement to suit the convenience of both could be easily arrived at. I intend to vote for the Bill.

I have no hesitation in taking my stand in opposition to the introduction of this Bill, for the reason that my constituents, 98 per cent. of whom are engaged in agriculture, are strongly opposed to Summer Time, not so much because it interferes with the saving of the crops or anything like that, but because of the eternal confusion it causes. In one parish, you have Summer Time, and in another the old Irish Time, and the result is that a lot of confusion is created. I mentioned this matter at a meeting of the Country Council that I attended in Longford on Saturday. The meeting expressed its unanimous opposition to this measure, and they instructed me to vote accordingly. I see the advantage that a measure of this kind is to industrial workers, and I have the greatest sympathy for them, but I think, as far as they are concerned, you could get over the difficulty by advising them to go to work an hour earlier in the summer months, and by leaving the hands of the clock as they are at present. As regards the local option mentioned by Deputy McCartan, I do not think that would work. If you had it in the towns, and not in the country, and if you had it in the cities and larger towns, and not in the smaller towns, you would have endless confusion.

Take, for example, the farmer who goes to work in the morning, he goes into town to do a little marketing in the evening, and then he finds that the shops are closed against him. If he goes a little earlier to do a little banking business or legal work all those offices are closed. We may say it is no inconvenience to those people. It is a decided inconvenience, and I will vote against it on democratic grounds. The democratic grounds are that the majority of the people are against the introduction of Summer Time in this country, and I think we ought to take into consideration the wants and wishes and the welfare of the majority in a matter of this kind. If the industrial population wants shorter hours there is no reason in life why they cannot have them without interfering with the hands of the clock. Let them go in an hour earlier to work and stop work an hour earlier in the evening.

I would like to say a word in reply to what——

You cannot speak again on the same motion.

The introduction of this measure, and the lighthearted, not to say facetious spirit in which it was discussed, must cheer the heart of the country at large. There are no Irregulars destroying the resources of the agencies of industry. All that has ceased. The only thing that need concern us now is at what particular hour the farmer is to miss his train. The issue as it presents itself to me now at the end of the debate is—shall we listen to the voice of the farmer in Ireland or shall we follow the lead of the industrial population in England? It practically reduces itself to that. Because one strong reason why this Bill should become law is in order to keep the system of transport—the railway trains and the rest— in line with those across the water. Some years ago Mid-European time was adopted over practically all the railway systems of the Continent. It undoubtedly expedited the ways of commerce, and now the proposal is that when the moment arrives at which the railway time tables of Britain are to be adjusted, our railway time table, too, must be adjusted, and the consequential amendment upon all that is that the life of the country shall be regulated by Act of Parliament accordingly. Now, if one were to look at this, as one should not, of course look at it, from a detached point of view it would seem utterly absurd that we are such children that we require to have it made a law in order that we should go to bed and get up at a particular time, although we recommend it on normal grounds that it is good for health and that it is good for public business, and that it is good for the national interest. Now, the English population to which this new arrangement of time commended itself, and rightly commended itself, is, as the farmers' representatives here have stated, altogether different from ours. But they dwelt particularly upon one element of the difference. Let me add another. The English people have one great virtue predominantly among many virtues. They are a law-abiding people. They are a placid, easy-going people who love uniformity of action and regularity of conduct, and they follow the routine prescribed by tradition. These people would not alter their lives in order to save the coal resources of the Nation, as regards the burning of fire, the production of gas, and artificial illuminants of that sort. They would not depart from their own settled ways unless they were called upon to do so by the law of the land. Consequently the Legislature introduced a law to secure that uniformity of behaviour, and they obeyed. We are quite a different kind of people. It is hardly necessary to emphasise that. You have heard a declaration made here that once this Bill becomes law it secures the non-observance of the regulation. Undoubtedly for a country like England, which is really so much land studded over with large cities and huge towns and a great urban population, it is most desirable that they should be forced into the open air and be given that leisure which the Summer Time enactment secures, and it is undoubtedly true—I make this concession to the other side—that unless it were done by legislation it would be impossible to secure it by agreement between employer and employee. There would not be uniformity; there would be the chaos of local option. But in Ireland we have only a few towns, and the larger part of the population is agricultural, or, if not actually and decidedly agricultural, dependent largely and collaterally upon agriculture for its support. The staple industry of the country is agriculture, so it is really a question now of public policy. Should we—admittedly much can be said upon both sides—secure the undoubted advantages of such a measure of Summer Time for our urban population? It would be an undoubted boon, and should we secure it by calling upon the rural majority to accommodate itself to changed arrangements, or are we, having in view the peculiar circumstances of the country, to call upon the minority to adapt themselves to a regulation that suits the major industry of the country? I vote for agriculture when it comes to that decision, because I believe that the city population can be provided for in Ireland. It could not so easily have been provided for, I have contended, in the case of England. Now, one of the arguments used here by two different speakers, who adduced undoubtedly very cogent arguments in favour of the measure, was would we who stand for the farming industry—would we deprive the city dwellers of that great advantage? Well, it is easy to answer that appeal. We would not deprive them, and we do not seek to deprive them of it. I do agree that we deprive them if there are no other agencies to secure these advantages for the city dwellers except the passing of this Bill. Now, if it could be shown to me that here in Ireland there are no means available to secure these advantages but the passing of this Bill, then I should say we have a precedent for the whole situation in the case of the Dogs Act. You remember the Dogs Act was passed, and the regulations framed under it, and each county or each authority was left to put it in force or not. That had its inconvenience. I know the answer can be retorted upon me. I found in giving my own dog an afternoon walk that once I crossed the canal and was in the administrative County of Dublin I had to produce a collar and put it upon the neck of the dog, and that it would have to bear my name and address. Once I returned and reached the canal it was unnecessary to trouble the dog with that decoration any longer There are inconveniences on both sides. It is no answer to the case put up by the farmers that to meet their requirements would cause inconvenience.

The Minister for Agriculture, speaking for the Department of the farmers, said it was only inconveniences it would cause. Yes, but there are inconveniences that mean money, the dislocation of time and the interruption of work. Let us take, as Deputy Wilson did, the parallel case of France. France, in comparison with Ireland territorially, is practically a continent, if I may use a deliberate exaggeration. It has its industrial quarters and its rural quarters, yet the whole rural population of France has called out most vigorously against the attempt to reimpose this law. So late as last Friday one of the Ministers—the Minister of Trade—proposed, on account of urgency, to bring in the Bill, and he was out-voted. Unfortunately I am no in a position to quote the precedent of France this year, because the vote will not be taken there until next Monday. We are ahead of France in anticipating summer. Undoubtedly in the more purely agricultural regions of France the operation of Summer Time was found to react very detrimentally on the industry. That is not denied. It is admitted, on the other hand—everyone who views the question closely must admit it—it was very much to the advantage of the city dwellers. I can understand the question being decided according to which is the prevailing interest. This is a case in which, if we do not pass this regulation, we do not do something which would undoubtedly have the effect of benefiting innumerable citizens. On the other hand, if we do pass it, we do something which runs counter to the interests of what is the major industry of the country. It seems to me that, as the farmers declared they would not obey this law if it were passed, we have a way out. This seems to me to be the solution of the difficulty. If we pass this into law and it is well understood that no farmer will do other than ignore it, then there is no harm done unless the ignoring of it is regarded as a punishable offence. The difficulty, however, would remain as regards the time tables of the railways. Until the experiment has been tried out sufficiently to give us a final decision on the matter of value we could do what was done some years ago during a similar transition in regard to the European railways. The time tables gave the two times—the Mid-European time, in accordance with which the larger lines were run, and the local time—and those whose business was to put their traffic on trains had the duty imposed upon them of being acquainted with those times. It seems to me that so long as there is no turpitude involved in ignoring the law there will not be any harm done in passing the Bill.


Listening to the debate, one realises what all the trouble was about in this country since 1916. It was caused by Summer Time and the grave reactions that iniquitous measure had on the rural population. Deputy Gorey's arguments and the arguments of every farmer-deputy impressed everybody here who knew nothing about agriculture or agricultural conditions. Deputy Magennis said that it is clear that if the farmers can ignore this Act without penalties then there is no harm done. The farmers have ignored this Act without penalties for the past eight years, and they know that well, and they are inwardly chuckling at the way they have succeeded, or almost succeeded, in fooling the guileless citizens into swallowing their arguments. I do not like to boast about it, but I probably have as much practical experience of agriculture as Deputy Gorey has. I have experience of agriculture under Summer Time conditions, and I know that it never made the slightest difference. When you ask yourself what percentage of the population of the average county is driving to an early morning train with produce to send it to Dublin, then really you get this question in its proper focus. The ordinary agricultural routine is not affected. A man, instead of turning up at 7 by the clock, turned up by sun-time if ignoring the official change in the clock, and he regulated his dinner interval and his time of leaving off in the evening in the same way. That small section that I touched upon—the people who combine dairy farming with corn producing—are affected. But that section represents an entirely negligible proportion of the population of the country and an entirely negligible proportion of the agricultural population of the country. On one side you have the slight inconvenience and the mental labour that are involved in that sum in subtraction. Against that you have the positive benefit to national economy, the reactions on the public health and on future generations of boys and girls and the advantage of an extra hour and twenty-five minutes to those engaged in indoor employment. Let us take a side of this question that has not been much touched upon—the inconvenience of having a different time from Britain and from six of our own counties in the North East. Deputy Doctor McCartan mentioned that some years ago, and for a long time before that, we had twenty-five minutes of a difference between British and Irish time, and nothing very terrible happened. The proposal now is that we have an hour's difference. Tracing it out, you do come up against the inconveniences. Telegrams sent here in the evening which, if the time were uniform, would be delivered the same evening in the North East or in Great Britain will be held over until the next day. This kind of difficulty will react on your commerce and must react upon it. If we want to be sentimental, and if we want to be maudlin and to talk about "God's own time" or "the cursed British time," we will pay for our sentimentality in practical commercial values. Of course this talking about God's own time sounds grand, but it is not pious. It is only reactionary. One Deputy spoke of eternal confusion being involved. I am more than seven years old and I remember no eternal confusion in the last six summers. Deputy Gorey is a bit of a die-hard on this matter. He does not want "to be healthy, wealthy or wise." He does not want to rise early in the morning.

I will be a Cabinet Minister when I get sense.


There has been too much concentration on the word "industrial." As a matter of fact, there are involved the interests of a very, very limited number of the agricultural community as against the remaining people in the country. It is not merely the employé in a place like Jacob's or Guinness' that is concerned, and consequently there has been too much read into the word "industrial." By it is meant all the people who are working otherwise than in the fields. All the people whose work lies indoors—domestic servants, shop assistants, clerks in solicitors' offices, and so on—are to do without their little hour and a half relaxation in the sun, so that Deputy Gorey will not have to say: "I wonder now what time is it?" There is really only the question of the trains as far as the rural population is concerned, and the number of farmers who are waiting for the early morning trains on which to put their produce is not considerable. This Bill is not vital. If you reject it nothing terrible will happen, but in a way it is an acid test. It is a test of our responsibility and a test of whether we can give up talking with clichés about God's own time, with tears in our eyes, or on the other hand cursing British time, and face the fact as a matter of practical convenience and act in the way that all considerations of practical convenience urge.

Question: "That the Summer Time Bill, 1923, be read a second time," put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 38; níl, 11.

  • Liam T. Mac Cosgair.
  • Micheál Ó hAonghusa.
  • Tomás de NÓgla.
  • Séamus Breathnach.
  • Darghal Figes.
  • Tomás Mac Eoin.
  • Micheál de Duram.
  • Ailfrid Ó Broin.
  • Seán Mac Garaidh.
  • Micheál de Stáineas.
  • Domhnall Mac Cártaigh.
  • Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.
  • Liam Ó Briain.
  • Earnán Aitún.
  • Sir Séamus Craig.
  • Gearóid Mac Giobuin.
  • Liam Thrift.
  • Eoin Mac Neill.
  • Liam Mag Aonghusa.
  • Pádraig Ó hOgáin.
  • Tomás Ó Conaill.
  • Seosamh Ó Faoileacháin.
  • Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
  • Fionán Ó Loingsigh.
  • Aodh Ó Cúlacháin.
  • Séamus Eabhróid.
  • Liam Ó Daimhín.
  • Caoimhghin Ó hUigín.
  • Séamus Ó Dóláin.
  • Seán Ó Laidhin.
  • Cathal Ó Seanáin.
  • Eamon Ó Dúgáin.
  • Peadar Ó hAodha.
  • Séamus Ó Murchadha.
  • Tomás Ó Domhnaill.
  • Earnán de Blaghd.
  • Uinseann de Faoite.
  • Domhnall Ó Ceallacháin.


  • Donchadh Ó Guaire.
  • Seán Ó Maolruaidh.
  • Seán Ó Duinnín.
  • Seán Ó Ruanaidh.
  • Criostóir Ó Broin.
  • Risteárd Mac Liam.
  • Proinsias Bulfin.
  • Pádraig Mac Artáin.
  • Proinsias Mag Aonghusa.
  • Liam Mac Sioghaird.
  • Micheál Ó Dubhghaill.
Motion declared carried.
At this stage An Ceann Comhairle resumed the chair.