PRIVATE BUSINESS. - UNEMPLOYMENT PROBLEM.

I move:

"That the Dáil condemns the Government for its failure to deal seriously with the problem of unemployment and its refusal to provide means for ameliorating the distress arising from the failure of the Unemployment Insurance Fund; and, in particular, disapproves of any attempt to use the promised scheme of State Aid for road improvement and the existence of a large number of unemployed demobilised soldiers as means for forcing down the rate of wages paid for the ordinary work of road maintenance."

Speaking on the Railway Bill last night, the President said that next to unemployment the matter of the railways was the most important before the country, thereby admitting that this matter of unemployment is the most important problem with which the country is faced to-day. We are glad that the President and the Government have realised that, because one would be inclined to think, from the attention, or rather the lack of attention, that has been given to this matter, that they were not aware of the fact. Within the past two months thousands of men and women under Section 8, Sub-section (4) of the 1920 Unemployment Insurance Act have been cut away from unemployment benefit. Their ranks, as everybody knows, are being swelled, from day to day, by soldiers demobilised from the National Army, and by thousands of political prisoners who are being released from prisons and internment camps. There is no prospect before these people for the coming winter except the prospect of hunger and ultimate starvation. There is no unemployment benefit to be got. We know, of course, that every section of the community has suffered from the mad, destructive civil war which has been waged in the country for the last year and a half. But the workers have inevitably suffered most of all.

at this stage took the Chair.

We will be told, and perhaps properly, that were it not for that civil war, the Government would have been in a position long before this to undertake works of reconstruction and development that would have given employment. But the workers are being starved to-day in order that the country may be enabled to pay for the war that was waged about words and phrases, a war that the workers had no responsibility for. We will be told that because certain political parties saw their way to indulge in the luxury of civil war, that no money can be given for the relief of unemployment, that there can be no grants for reconstruction work on account of that war. The Government will, no doubt, claim that their first duty is to maintain law and order in the country. It must be quite clear to the Government that they must fail in that duty if they do not remove the cause or the causes of the lawlessness and disorder that obtain in the country to-day. The remedy for unemployment is work. I maintain that it is the duty of this Government to provide work for every man and woman in this country who is willing and able to work, and to provide it at a living wage. It is the duty of the Government to undertake works of reconstruction in order to provide the employment that is so badly wanted. I quite realise, and so do my colleagues on these benches, that if we are to have works of reconstruction, and if the nation is to be developed, as it should be developed, we must have the cooperation of every section of the community, and that every man must be prepared to take off his coat, and do his own part in the building up of the nation. The workers are prepared to do their own part, and the workers are prepared to make sacrifices for the general good of the nation. But the workers certainly are not satisfied to make all the sacrifices, and that is what is being asked of them to-day.

Speaking on the Railway Bill yesterday evening, the President said that if the country were to make proper progress, employers and workers would have to cut their cloth according to their measure. I would like to ask the President if he is aware of the fact that a lot of the workers in Ireland to-day have no cloth to cut. I believe if the Government does not tackle this problem of unemployment in a bold and determined way, in such a way as to give employment to men and women who are anxious and willing to work, that the country in the very near future will be faced with a situation compared with which the recent civil war was a mere bagatelle.

The Minister for Local Government recently issued a circular to public bodies about the grant of a million and a quarter which is to be made for reconstruction of the roads. And he said the public bodies must see that the present high wages obtained by road workers must be reduced, and that the present privileged position of the road workers must be altered. I wonder has the Minister for Local Government any idea of the wages paid to road workers?

Does the Minister know anything of the privileged conditions under which road workers work? I suppose it would be held a privilege that, in most counties, a worker on a road starts out to work at 8 o'clock in the morning, and if the day comes wet he has to walk back again wet to the skin, perhaps a distance of three, four or five miles, without receiving anything at all for his day. I desire to know if the Minister is aware of that? That is one of the privileged conditions under which the road workers live. We are told that the present high rate of wages must come down. I am sure nobody here would consider that a wage, say in Leitrim of 28/-, for a 60-hour week is a high wage with broken time. The wages of road workers range from 28/- to 45/-, and the hours worked by road workers range from 48 to 60 hours a week. I do not intend to deal at any great length with the question of this circular. It will be dealt with by other Deputies from this side of the Dáil, but I certainly say that if the Government want to face the problem of unemployment, they certainly are not going to do it by adopting such a policy as that of pitting demobilised soldiers from the National Army against the road workers of the country, and that is what they are trying to do.

In Mallow recently 35 men were let go, and were replaced by ex-National Army men at a reduction of 10/- per week. That is not the way to deal with the unemployment problem. I repeat what I said before, that it is my honest belief that unless the Government are prepared to make a determined attempt to provide employment and work for the people who are ready and willing to work at a reasonable wage, it will be faced with a position which, to say the least of it, is not pleasant to contemplate.

Mr. MURPHY

I rise to second the motion, and I do so with very much regret. I think it will be apparent to everybody that it is a matter of very deep regret, not alone to members of the Labour Party, but to every other person in the country, that the Government of this State have done practically nothing towards the solution of this question. What is the position in the State to-day? As I understand it, as the members of the Labour Party understand it, and, I think, as everybody understands it, the position is that there are about 50,000 persons unemployed in the country to-day. You have that large number of people faced with this position, that they are not able to tell where the means to support them on the following day are to come from. The actual position is, that you have 50,000 persons on compulsory hunger strike to-day. I think that fact alone ought to be sufficient to induce the members of the Dáil and the Government of the State to realise that this is a very urgent problem, and one that requires to be dealt with at once if the calamity that we are faced with in the future, followed to its natural conclusion, is to be averted.

In addition to the 50,000 persons unemployed in the country, you have, as Deputy Morrissey pointed out, the ranks of the unemployed being swelled day after day by the men leaving the National Army at the present time, and the ranks will be further swelled by the unfortunate workers coming back from the prisons to their homes. In a good many cases these men will not be able to get unemployment benefit, because, as Deputy Morrissey pointed out, the Unemployment Act is for all practicable purposes already scrapped. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce issues a series of figures from time to time to the daily Press showing that the number of unemployed in this country is decreasing. I do not think that the figures that are being issued to the Press are correct. I would even go further and say that the figures, quite unintentionally perhaps, are most misleading. I believe that these figures, which are being served out from time to time to the Press as to the alleged reduction that has taken place in unemployment in this country, are not correct. The alleged reduction, I suggest, is due to the fact that unemployed men are not getting work, but rather to the fact that men are being knocked off the unemployment register, because under Section 8 of the Insurance Act they are held to be debarred from getting any further benefits.

It has been the fashion all over the country, and even in this Dáil, to sneer at the Unemployment Act. While I have always taken up the attitude that the Unemployment Act will never solve the question of unemployment, I still believe that that Act did a certain amount of good, and that it had certain merits. I know, of course, that the Act has certain faults, but these, I think, were due rather to its administration. It contained faults that could not be corrected, I suggest, on account of the loose code of morals that existed for the last two or three years, and also on account of the experiences that the country has passed through. To my mind, there was certainly not much ice cut by the cheap sneers that we have heard from time to time in the Dáil on this Unemployment Act. Neither do I think that there is much point in the remarks that we hear from time to time in this Dáil and elsewhere about the chronic idler.

There is one thing certain, and nobody can deny this, that the overwhelming majority of the workers in this country are not chronic idlers. The workers of the State are anxious to work for the benefit of their country, and they are not anxious to quarter themselves on the funds of this State, or to live at the expense of the taxpayers. To illustrate the points I am arguing, I desire to bring to the notice of the Dáil some of the conditions that exist in the constituency I represent as regards the Unemployment Act. I have before me, as I speak, instances of persons whose cases will be the subject of legal proceedings for obtaining unemployment benefit under false pretences. It is important that I should state that these persons are not workers. I have a couple of cases in mind which are to come before the Courts in the County Cork in the course of a few days of persons who attempted to get unemployment benefit, although at the time they were in the possession of two or three farms. At the outset of my remarks, I expressed the fear that nothing practicable would be done by the Government to solve this unemployment question.

I do not deny the fact that certain attempts were made or that certain schemes were brought about for the temporary relief of distress, and I would like, in passing, to say a word in connection with some of the schemes. Some time ago the Distress Committee of the Dáil initiated a scheme for the relief of certain districts. In a part of the country that I know the sum of £700 was allocated for the relief of distress. I would like to bring before the Dáil some of the facts in connection with the manner in which this money was spent. I have before me a case in my own district where the sum of £700 was handed over to a Rural Council to relieve distress amongst two or three hundred working men in that district and I know, and I could prove before any assembly or inquiry that may be set up, that that money was spent, not on the workers but for the benefit of members of the Council who kept the money and gave it to different people not in distress, and I think it fit and proper to say that in connection with any future scheme laid down for the relief of distress it would be well, and most necessary, that enquiry should be made and strict supervision carried on over the spending of that money. The position in the district I refer to was that the comfortable farmers' sons, members of the District Council, obtained this money given for the relief of distress and spent that money themselves among their friends and their cousins who are a class amongst themselves, and this money was spent upon horses and so on. That state of affairs is a gross wrong and it demands supervision, enquiry and attention from those responsible for the giving of that money. I have seen men who were unemployed for months go to a meeting of the council for the purpose of obtaining assistance from this fund, but they were turned away and would not get a single penny.

Now, I will mention some instances that came under my own notice in the constitutency that I represent in connection with unemployment, and I will try to illustrate some things I have seen, even in my own locality, or in the County Cork at any rate, that have been done to relieve unemployment. Two or three days ago I put a question to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, and I might say in passing, it is a matter for regret, on our part, to see that in an important debate like this the Minister for Industry and Commerce, or somebody from his Department, is not here. I put a question down to the Minister in connection with the closing down of Barytes Mine at Clonakilty in April, 1922. It was not closed down because the workers were turbulent or that they created an impossible position for the owners of the mine. As a matter of fact, and I do not know whether it is to the special credit or shame of the workers, they had previously accepted a reduction in wages, but they were guided in accepting that reduction by the fact that in doing so they were helping to keep the enterprise going. At any rate the mine closed down and that position obtained for the last twelve months, and between 100 and 105 men are now unemployed and walking the streets of Clonakilty, and in the last two or three weeks I was told that all these people, under the Section quoted by Deputy Morrissey, will be deprived of unemployment benefit. During the last twelve months the Minister for Industry and Commerce paid these people a sum of £5,000 at the lowest calculation, and I submit that if that money was spent in helping to keep the enterprise these men were engaged on going it would be well spent, and would save the awful position that the 105 men I have referred to have to face this coming Christmas.

I have other instances besides that. I questioned the Minister for Local Government a few days ago in connection with the allocation of money for the relief of distress in another part of Cork — Castletown-Berehaven. That district is one of the hardest hit by the present situation. It used to be a fishing station of some importance, but now it is practically deserted in that respect. There again we are faced with the position that the Ministry of Fisheries has no money available for the development of the fishing industry. The Minister for Local Government, in his reply to me, said that a certain amount of money had been allocated to this district for the relief of distress but that the money was held up owing to irregular activities in the district. I understand there is a certain amount of truth in that statement. I think some measure of comfort for the men in that district depended on the employment that they could get and if the Minister for Local Government, or some official in his Department could have devised some scheme, if not then, well, at a later day, it would have given these poor people at least the right to live. I could go on multiplying for a long time the instances I have given in this matter, but I do not intend to weary Deputies in the Dáil by long speeches or by numerous statistics on the question. But I claim the indulgence of the Dáil to refer to the circular mentioned by Deputy Morrissey already. The Minister for Local Government in issuing this circular and sending it out to the Council makes, to my mind at any rate, two or three extraordinary statements. He says: "It is in the national interest to secure a high standard of road maintenance, but if the large mileage of trunk roads requiring reconstruction is to be dealt with efficiently and with due regard to the cost which can reasonably be borne by ratepayers, a stricter control of expenditure must be instituted, existing rates of wages must be reduced and the present privileged character of road labour reviewed."

Like Deputy Morrissey, I have yet to learn that the position of the road workers, as far as I know it, or so far as our Party knows it, is in any way privileged. Down in the County Cork where we had experience of the ravages caused by two wars, I make bold to say that the position of the road workers has been anything but an enviable one. In my opinion when the Minister for Local Government says that there is not a proper standard of efficiency under the direct labour system at present he is condemning that system without giving it due consideration and I do not think that without going into the matter fully he is warranted in coming to such a conclusion. He should get all the facts of the question put before him and give the matter due consideration before coming to such a conclusion. I know that the road workers in the County Cork who have been trying to earn a living as road workers during the last two or three years were certainly not in a privileged position. I know that in many of their homes at the present time, and even during the period I refer to, there was nothing but pure naked and unashamed hunger. Therefore I say it is a slight on a body of unfortunate men to suggest that they occupy a privileged position without at least adducing some evidence as to what the privilege consisted of. I understand it is the intention of the Government at the present time to put on the roads members of the National Army who are demobilised. Two or three days ago I heard a handsome tribute from the President uttered in this Dáil in praise of the men of the National Army. I certainly, and I am sure I may say the same for everyone on these Benches, would not gainsay a word that the President spoke in praise of the men of the National Army on that occasion. We are as much indebted to them as to any other class for the way in which the structure of this Nation has been saved, but I do say it is not worthy of the traditions of the Army nor of the Government of the people to ask these men when leaving the National Army to go back into the world and engage in a mobilised system of scabbing on their fellow workers.

I do not think it is right to ask the men who are leaving the National Army to go back and assist in breaking down the system of wages. I do not think it is wise to ask men of the National Army to go back into their own districts and to take the bread out of the mouths of their starving brothers. The workers of this country looked forward to the establishment of this Government with hope. They gave some earnest of what they were prepared to do in the establishment of this Government. I say that the workers have been disappointed. I believe—and I think I have some reason for believing —that the attitude of the Government, as revealed from time to time, is an attitude of hostility to the workers. Three or four weeks ago we had announced here the decision of the Minister for Finance to attack the position of the National teachers and old age pensioners. Yesterday we had a report from the Postmaster-General that turned down the recommendations of the Commission set up by the Government to enquire into the conditions of the Postal Service. Now we have the attack on more unfortunate people still— the road workers. I cannot believe that any Government that set the slogan, "Justice, Equity, Freedom, and Common Citizenship," in 1918, would have adopted a policy that means reduction in wages and starvation in 1923. The Government has not attended to this matter in the fashion that it ought to have done. The question does not brook any further delay, and believing, as I do, that the Government has ignored this matter, either deliberately or unintentionally, I second this motion.

The two speakers who supported this motion referred to the road workers and to the road workers only. There is another class of worker in Ireland to-day who is in the same deplorable condition as the unemployed road worker. That is the agricultural worker. He has suffered at all times from unemployment, and when unemployment came he was always left out in the cold. He had not the assistance of unemployment insurance. That Act was not at any time meant for the protection of the agricultural workers. Coming from an agricultural county— Co. Meath—as I do, I am aware that there are figures available showing that 37 per cent. of the agricultural workers of that county have been idle for the past seven months. They have been thrown on the roadside by the employers, who call themselves farmers. As every Deputy here is aware, Co. Meath is not a county that is inhabited, in any sense, by a farming community. It is a county that is controlled and owned by the large propertied classes, known as the grazier and the land grabber. It is within the knowledge of everybody that you will find in County Meath 2,000 acres of land owned by one big capitalist, who calls himself an employer. But when we come to examine his machinery of employment, we find that on that 2,000 acres of land he has employed only two men and two dogs. The same thing applies to Westmeath and to many other counties. When the Government formulates its plans for the relief of unemployment, I trust that it will embody in them some provision for the relief of the unemployed agricultural workers as well as for the unemployed road workers.

Down in County Meath there are at present only 33 per cent. of the road workers employed, leaving 67 per cent. with no means of livelihood, save in very few instances. Some of them draw the miserable dole from the Unemployment Exchange. It is a fact that the unemployed road worker went to the Labour Exchange—a distance in some cases of from 6 to 15 miles—signed the usual declaration there, got the usual forms of declaration signed in his own locality by householders, certifying that he was unemployed during the period in question, and notwithstanding all this trouble, to my own knowledge there are 39 men who have been looking for this unemployment benefit since the 27th October last, and who never got a penny yet. Moreover, there is no sign of it. They have been told "Come back next week and we will have it for you." But it does not come. The Government are well aware of these things. When questions regarding the relief of unemployment have been put to the Government, it has often occurred to me that the Government have not been one bit sincere in their replies regarding the unemployed workers. We have been told time and again—and the Labour Deputies in the last Dáil were told— that the matter "is under consideration." It is always "being considered," or "it will receive immediate consideration." But this piece of administrative machinery, which I take leave to describe as "the machinery of consideration" is turned by a very slow process. The engine that is driving this piece of machinery must go out of order very often. Like a piece of elastic, "consideration" can stretch 900 times the length of itself. "The matter will have immediate consideration !" That is one of the familiar phrases from the Government benches. And you may be assured that that is the last of that particular matter you are going to hear until you raise the same question again. And again you will be told that the matter is going to have consideration. The process of consideration is apparently very long drawn out.

To come back to the road workers— and I am very glad to see the Minister for Local Government here—there has been collected in County Meath in motor tax £16,404 between January, 1922, and November 30, 1923.

Notwithstanding the fact that that money has gone to the Government not one penny of it has been distributed in the maintenance of the roads or for the relief of unemployment. Another rate, of 6d. in the £, was raised by direction of the last Minister for Local Government in connection with the Damage to Property Act. That rate was supposed to be for compensation and for repairs to damaged property. In County Meath £13,937 1s. was raised, and at the same time £3,916 0s. 7d. was spent by the County Council in repairing bridges. Although the County Council spent £3,916 repairing the bridges and raised nearly £14,000 under the Damage to Property Act, the Minister for Local Government never recouped the £3,916 to the County Council. The Minister promised the Vice-Chairman of the County Council that the £3,916 would be refunded and that it could be used for the relief of unemployment in the county. That promise was like the piece of machinery entitled "consideration." We have to wait for it, and probably we may get it as an Easter gift, when a new rate will be in course of collection, and when the County Council will be in a better financial position than it is now.

On the 30th January last the estimate of Dunshaughlin Rural District Council was put before the County Council by the County Surveyor. The estimate amounted to £5,588. The District Council believed that there would be no grants available. Apparently they were fortune-tellers, because they were right. They increased the estimate for the one year by £7,000, and it was adopted by the County Council on the 26th February. On the 15th March sanction was requested for the increased expenditure, but several months passed before the machinery of the Department could be moved. It was on 12th July they sent their sanction, over two months after the statutory time for the striking of the rates by the County Council. The County Council could not wait for sanction and had to carry on with the estimate they had adopted. Some of the rate that was struck on the 7th May was collected when some of Deputy Gorey's people became uneasy. They challenged the rate and got it quashed. At this time Dunshaughlin District Council and the County Council, as well as the workers, were agitating with the Local Government Department for relief of some kind as a substitute for the rate that had been quashed. These bodies were supported in their appeal by the largest ratepayer in the county, who was resident in the Dunshaughlin area. The request was that the County Council should be allowed to raise a loan of £7,500 for road maintenance in Dunshaughlin Rural District. Dunshaughlin Branch of the Farmers' Association did everything possible to assist, and endeavoured to have the loan spread over a term of seven years. They thought that would be better than having the amount collected in two moieties this year. A deputation, representing all parties, interviewed the Minister for Local Government and statements were made during the interview by officials that I do not think really represented the mind of the Minister. I do not believe the Minister is as hard as some of his officials. It is my opinion that the machinery of that Ministry needs a little touching up.

We are not discussing the Ministry of Local Government now.

We are discussing the failure——

That is outside the scope of the motion.

It is through the Minister for Local Government that we will have to get relief for road work, and an opportunity was afforded for providing relief in Dunshaughlin by raising a loan of £7,500. Since that date the Ministry of Local Government has not communicated with the Meath County Council nor has it given any authority as to what line of action should be taken. While that is going on road workers and their wives and families are starving. The children are bare-footed and hungry as their parents have no means of livelihood. If we believe we are economising by leaving the workers and their families in that plight we are certainly making a big mistake.

If these workers go on the rates in another way, if they go into a county home, or receive home help, they become a burden. Before any of these relief systems are put into operation in the country, the Government should endeavour to relieve the present distress. In County Meath we have something like 2,800 men unemployed. I believe unemployment is worse in County Meath than anywhere else.

What is the cause?

It must be realised that in 1920 and 1921, during the "Black-and-Tan" period, the workers throughout Ireland were disemployed for ten months and never grumbled, as they knew that it was in the interests of the country and that it was to assist in the national struggle, and also that the County Councils could not, at that time, carry on. Now, we have a lot of them still unemployed, and if a grant is available for employment on the roads, we are told that discharged National soldiers are to benefit by taking the place, as we have been told by Deputy Morrissey, of the ordinary road worker. He has to be dismissed and they are to be employed. The road worker who sacrificed a good deal in 1920-21 is again called upon to sacrifice his interests and those of his wife and family. He is, moreover, asked to accept a lower wage. The discharged National soldier is to be turned into a machine whereby a system of lower wages for road work is to be adopted. I do not think that that is very fair. If a soldier has served the nation, as undoubtedly every one of them has, I think it is up to the Government to give him a decent means of livelihood, without interfering with the unfortunate road worker who has toiled for years on the road. I do not think that that interference should take place at the hands of the discharged National soldier. I appeal to the Government to do everything humanly possible in the matter. I think it is about time that they got in earnest about their business, and instead of passing some of the Bills which they have brought before us, they should tackle this very serious problem that affects the means of livelihood of a large portion of the community. The question of unemployment will have to be faced, and it is the duty of the Government to adopt some immediate and adequate means of dealing with it. I hope the Government will take up that attitude and relieve distress. We do not want to burden the ratepayers, but the Government have sufficient money to deal with the problem. There is, for instance, the road tax, for which £16,000 has been collected in Meath, and probably the same amount in other counties. Why not put this money to its proper purpose, and why not, also, allocate for that purpose the money collected under the Damage to Property Act?

Deputy Morrissey, in moving this motion, was terse, and the arguments in support of it were in the main temperate and commendable. We are now dealing with the natural sequel resulting, as he said, from a mad war of words and phrases. I agree with him that the remedy for the position is work for all and that it is the duty of the Government to employ all they possibly can, as he suggested, on works of a reproductive character at a living wage. Now, without revealing any secret, I can relieve the mind of any of the Labour Members of any doubt they may have as to the intentions of the Government in this matter. The Government are going to deal liberally and generously with the situation. They are going to discharge their duty in a generous spirit to labour and in a manner which is the country's due. With that spirit on the part of the Government, I anticipate hopefully, as a result of the statement of Deputy Morrissey, that we shall have the active and healthy co-operation of the Labour representatives to enable us to round any corners that may arise on the question of wages or on any other detail associated with the scheme. Deputy Morrissey said that the workers were prepared to make some sacrifice, but that it would be unfair to expect them to make all the concessions. Nobody expects them to make all the concessions. It is a situation of "give and take," a situation in which labour should yield something, and in which capital or the Government—whichever way you regard it—should also yield something to labour. There is a common interest in a satisfactory settlement of the situation, and I believe that if the details are worked out to a healthy end it will be the beginning of an era in which unemployment, as we now know it, will be virtually unknown. The work to which the Labour Deputies have mainly confined themselves is work in association with unskilled labour—the reconstruction or the re-making of the roads.

I anticipate as far as possible the Government will expedite the beginning of such work. I need hardly point out that schemes should not be embarked upon without due consideration of all the work, that the men associated with the work should be selected in so far as selection is permissible, and that all those details will take some little time.

They are taking a long time.

And when these initial difficulties are got over the machine will then be in a position to secure that for every expenditure of public money we shall have the largest amount of labour employed and the greatest amount of beneficial results. I was sorry to hear the different Labour Deputies harp so much on the question of the employment of demobilised soldiers on this work. Who are the demobilised soldiers? They are the men without whose aid we would not be in a position to-day to discuss the question of unemployment or that of any other material reconstruction work in the country. Are the wounded soldiers of the war, if I may use the expression, to be thrown on the world and to become the new recipients of the dole or of home assistance. From what ranks were they recruited? They were recruited largely from the labour ranks. Surely if we are to differentiate at all with respect to those men, we should differentiate in their favour rather than otherwise. There is no necessity for differentiation. I think there will be room for all. They are all citizens of the common State. They are entitled to receive, at the least, common treatment with other members of the Labour ranks, and it was a mistaken policy on the part of some Labour Members to suggest that they should not be so treated. There is room for all, and all will be generously dealt with.

The seconder of the motion said it was work and not the dole that was wanted. I agree. The dole to a certain extent may have been a necessity, but no one can deny but that it has had a demoralising influence on the worker. I trust that the money the Government are now going to place at the disposal of labour—it will be largely used in labour, material will only to a small extent enter into the expenditure —will have the result of making unemployment disappear in the future by reason of the encouragement given not alone by the Government but by private employers in a more generous employment of labour when they see that Labour recognises its responsibilities as well as its rights.

There is another class of labour, the claims of which have not been touched upon so far, and those are the skilled workers. In that respect I hope the Government will hasten forward a generous scheme of housing, particularly in favour of the dwellers of the towns and cities of the country. We know many cases, particularly in the City of Dublin, of the conditions under which the workers are housed. It is a disgrace to civilisation, and in no small degree, I believe, accounts for the discontentedness of labour. With respect to that particular phase of activity in favour of the disappearance of unemployment, I would like to call attention to what I might call attendant industries of the country, that have been hitherto neglected, and about one of which I put an important question in the Dáil a short time ago. I got an answer that the matter was being considered. That was with respect to the slate industry which in this country has a capacity of taking off the unemployment market a large number of men who will have a large earning capacity, and which in addition will provide the roofing of Irish buildings with Irish slates produced by Irish labour with material as good as the imported article. Following the question I put in the Dáil, I had a communication from, I think, the Manager of the largest slate industry, at present in Ireland, one that has been dormant for some years past but has been recently revived.

What is the address?

He says that he has 74 men employed but for want of capital he is unable to discharge one-fiftieth of the orders placed with him. Here is his suggestion to relieve the difficulty. If the Government will give him, not a grant, but the loan of £6,000, to be repaid in 10 or 15 years, he guarantees that within six months he will employ 100 additional hands, within 18 months a further 100 additional hands, and at the same time within the period discharge the loan to the Government.

I say that that ought to be closely inquired into by the Government, and if they are satisfied that there are assets behind it to warrant an advance of £6,000, that it should not be a loan in the ordinary sense, but an absolute grant as long as the man receiving it keeps up his end of the wicket, because I look upon the continuous employment of 100 men alone as of greater value, morally and materially, than an absolute grant of £6,000 out of the nation's purse. Furthermore, this man states that want of capital is holding him up, that this grant would enable him to develop an industry that has been recently associated with slate quarries, the crushing of slates for the production of bricks and cement. Deputy Morrissey and the other Labour Deputies demurred to the suggestion contained in the Government's proposal that wages should be revised with respect to the proposed expenditure on the roads. I am sure that they do not object to an inquiry, at any rate, as to that.

The very figures quoted by Deputy Morrissey go to show that there is a necessity for an inquiry. He stated that in some districts the road workers' wages were 28/-, and in others 45/-. There is no earthly reason why, within the Twenty-Six Counties, there should be such a difference in wages to the same class of men who do the very same class of work.

Will you level it up?

A further point I want to impress on the Government is this: Hitherto all the speeches have been directed to the subject of the reconstruction of roads in the rural areas. We have also to consider the worker in the urban area, where the cost of living is higher, where the numbers are greater, and where poverty and unemployment are more dominant. I say that in any scheme the claims of these men must be carefully considered. I understand that the administration of any scheme will be largely in the hands of the county surveyors, who have very little association with town interests. Officially they are not connected with the town, as the urban areas are self-governing bodies. I hope also that if the county surveyors are engaged on the question of a most important work, the early reconstruction of destroyed bridges, they will engage a large number of skilled and unskilled labourers to make good the damage. Owing to the condition of the bridges throughout a large part of the Twenty-Six Counties, and particularly in County Cork, this is a work of great urgency. That question was raised recently by Deputy Hennessey, and I have a letter from the South complaining of two very dangerous bridges that ought to be put in hands immediately.

I think these are the main points to be considered as regards the present position of unemployment. The motion in its present form and in all its detail is one that I cannot support. In so far as it states that the time has arrived when the Government should take active and immediate steps and give prompt effect to any decision arrived at to deal with this problem, I am in hearty agreement, and I hope that if any question should arise as regards wages, or any other matter, that we will all lend whatever little weight we possess to round off the corners and to cause the differences to disappear owing to the great demand that the conditions of the workers make upon us for a speedy settlement of the problem.

I agree with what the President said yesterday and also with what the mover of the resolution has told us, that unemployment is one of the most serious problems facing us at the moment, but I am afraid in Ireland we are too prone to rely on the Government for everything. I would suggest that we should now set up a new order of things, that we should try to rely a little more on ourselves and less on the Government. It has always appeared to me that the system of relying on the Government to help us in every emergency is demoralising and injurious. It has been pointed out by Deputy O'Mahony, it was also mentioned by Deputy Morrissey, and I agree, that the remedy for unemployment is work. Work depends very largely on cost and on wages, and if wages are so high that they stop the progress of work, how are we to get work for the unemployed?

The industry that I happen to be connected with, and with which Deputy O'Mahony, I think, is also connected, is one that could give employment to a very large number of the unemployed in this country of ours. It could give immediate employment. We are sorry to say that there was destruction of buildings in a great many parts of the Free State. There is an urgent necessity for their restoration, and that work could provide immediate employment for a large number. How is it that we cannot give immediate employment on this work? The reason is, as I have pointed out before, that the cost of carrying out building work is so high at the moment that it is absolutely prohibitive. I have pointed out here on two occasions, I think, already, that the wages of a bricklayer in Dublin to-day amounts to £4 2s. 6d. a week. Men in London in all these skilled trades are looked upon as super-men. The super-bricklayer in London to-day receives, for the same number of hours, £3 11s. 6d., 11/- a week less than the man in Dublin. What has stopped employment in that large industry is obvious from that, and in order to get over that difficulty I suggested, a couple of weeks ago, to Deputy Johnson, who, we all know, has great influence with those engaged in the Labour movement, that if he would use that influence and that great ability which we all know he possesses, in a short time, I am sure, with a conference, we could get rid of this difficulty and thereby provide employment for a very large number without worrying the Government or adding to the burden of the taxpayer.

I agree with what has been said that the dole is a demoralising, if not an iniquitous system of providing for unemployment. I do not think the dole, as regards the Free State, has ever been administered on a fair basis. As we know, unemployment exists largely amongst what is known as unskilled labour, and unskilled labour, I suppose, receives in Dublin an average wage of approximately 50/- a week. The average family unemployed at the moment would receive approximately 25/- a week from the dole. That means practically half of the rate of earning that would be received by the head of that household if he were working. Our attention has been directed to the fact that the road labourer, in some cases in Ireland, receives 28/- per week, and though I do not know much about the farming industry, I think that 28/- would be an average for many of the districts in Southern Ireland. A family unemployed in these districts receives the same dole as a family unemployed in Dublin district. While in Dublin districts it is only 50 per cent. of the wage earned by the head of the family, it is practically equivalent to the wage in the other case. It has done untold harm, and it has killed industries, I am satisfied.

This question of unemployment is not new in the Dáil. It was mentioned more than twelve months ago, by Deputy Johnson and his party. Means of relieving unemployment were suggested, and several channels mentioned, which could be utilised towards this end. It is not a matter that has been sprung on the Government. Deputy O'Mahony, in talking about the industry of the slate quarries, said that a certain quarry, in Munster, I presume, and probably in Cork, would go on working and employing more men if they got a loan of £6,000, or a grant. We have a quarry in South Tipperary that wants no grant or loan. It wants work in the building trade started where it can get a chance of tendering for contracts. A Deputy, speaking of unemployment in Meath, referred to the road-tax, and the allusion was meant to keep up the wage of the road-worker in Meath to 45/-, or whatever it is. I would say, as the Minister for Agriculture often says here, let us face the situation, let us realise the facts. Deputy Good evidently does not know the country when he says that 28/- is the average wage. It is less than that. A strike has been fought out in Waterford, and the Labour Party have asked their men to go back, and the wage is 25/-, a reasonable average, I think, for counties I am acquainted with. If the agricultural industry can only afford 25/-, I am taking that as the basis for argument, how can a worker who does less on the road expect to get 45/-, 38/-, 37/-, or, as in Dublin, 52/- I believe; Wicklow, 40/-, and Cork, 43/-? Do we want work for a few, or work for all? If we want work for the unemployed as a mass, we will have to cut our coat according to our measure. We can only employ them according to the resources of the country, and if we are going to relieve the mass of unemployment we cannot give a fancy wage to one class of the community, and none at all to another. We will have to give a reasonable wage to all, according to our resources. Deputy Hall referred to unemployment in Meath. Strikes and unemployment go hand in hand in the agricultural districts, and they are common where the Labour leaders have not realised the position in agricultural districts. They have put up and fought strikes without knowing the position, or realising what they were facing. They have been fought out in several districts with very bad results for labourer and farmer, but they were fought out because, as I say, the men who started them did not realise the position. It is no use, to use a very homely phrase, expecting blood out of a turnip, for there is no blood there. I have every sympathy with the motion. I advocated in the Dáil time and again that there were several heads of work that could be started for the relief of unemployment if the money was there, or whether it was there or not, if it was productive work it was the duty of the State to give work. Are the Labour Party ready to accept a wage if this productive or non-productive work is given—I do not care which, but I prefer productive—common to these districts where the work could be started? If Labour is prepared to do that, they are facing the situation, and there is no excuse for the Government not facing the situation. If both parties do not want to face the situation, according to the resources and conditions of the country, there is no use in handing in motions on unemployment and talking about it.

It is by facing the situation honestly and trying to deal with the country according to its resources, that we will get on the right road and come to a happy ending of this matter. If we are all genuine about settling it, let us come to the scratch and say so. You cannot pay a wage in agricultural districts—a wage that sometimes agriculturists cannot afford—except every worker in the district is prepared to accept the same amount as a wage. There has been talk about the wages of the road-workers and the wrongs inflicted on them. That is merely tinkering with the question. It is not honestly facing the situation and facing it in the interests of the masses of unemployed. Is it going to be a big wage for some people and none at all for others, or is it going to be a reasonable wage for everybody? If Labour is prepared to say it is going to be a reasonable wage, the Government, if it is not ready to meet them half way, does not then deserve to be a Government, and taxpayers do not deserve the rights of citizenship if they do not heartily agree. If the situation is not met honestly on both sides, I see no hope at all for relieving unemployment. If the situation is not met fairly and squarely what is the use of this motion?

I am really surprised at the speech of Deputy Gorey.

Deputy Lyons is generally surprised at me.

When one reflects on the beautiful landscape that was painted by Deputy O'Mahony, recollecting Deputy Gorey's speech, one would imagine he was doing his utmost to soothe the nerves of the Labour representatives in order to prepare them for the attack of the Leader of the Farmers' Union. Deputy Gorey's statement was an attack on wages. How can any honest man think for a moment that a wage of 25/- or 28/- a week is capable of maintaining a husband, wife and family?

Face the situation.

I am prepared to face any situation against any member of the Farmers' Union in any part of the Saorstát. Take the case of a single man who has to go into lodgings; he has to pay 30/- a week for his upkeep. A lot has been said concerning road-workers. I know the road workers have been very hard hit. Under the circular letter sent out recently by the Minister for Local Government, the road-workers generally will suffer a serious amount of harm. I agree with the Deputies on the Labour Benches that it will have that effect. Take the case of Westmeath county. The rate of wages there is 45/- a week. That certainly appears to be an enormous wage, but when you take into account that 45/- a week is only paid during alternative weeks, the situation is quite different. The wage really amounts to £1 2s. 6d. The workers have been employed fortnight about for the last 12 months. Every second fortnight they have to hold out their hand for alms at the Labour Exchange. The majority of those workers live in South Westmeath and they walk a distance of 9 miles to Athlone where they are told by the Manager of the Labour. Exchange to call again next day. Meanwhile, their children go hungry from morning till night.

Then again, there are demobilised men from the National Army. A lot of those now demobilised were not fortunate enough to be working prior to enlistment. When they had not an unemployment card before joining the Army, on demobilisation they are not entitled to anything. Some of them in the town of Athlone are dependent on the rates or the funds of the St. Vincent De Paul Society. Is it not a shame that men who offered their lives in order that we might meet here are dependent on the St. Vincent de Paul Society or on the County Home for their own and their dependents' upkeep?

I have written letters to different Ministers concerning most of those cases. In Co. Westmeath we have received, by way of a grant to relieve unemployment, a sum of £2,330. Sixty per cent. of the workers in the county are unemployed. The Council have decided that as soon as the Minister for Local Government forwards the money, work will be started and the wage will be 32/- a week. The man who worked on the roads before joining the army will be receiving 13/- a week less now than he received then. Still we hear the cry that the wages must come down. Every employer of labour, let him be a shop-keeper, manufacturer, farmer or any other professional gentleman—I do not associate professional gentlemen with some of the Farmer Deputies—must fully realise the position of the workers.

In 1914, when manufactured commodities went up in price, the wages of the workers did not rise in proportion. Now the cry is that the cost of living cannot be reduced until the wages come down first. Where are the excessive profits made on the sweat of the workers between 1914 and 1917? I agree with the terms of the motion, and I realise that the unemployment problem must be relieved. I do not like the first words of the motion, because they indicate, to my mind, a vote of censure upon the Government. It must be realised that the Government has tried to carry on against a minority which was out for the sole purpose of cutting the throat of the nation.

Since I had the honour of being a member of this Dáil—since September, 1922—there have been some very hard times, and I am sure I am voicing the opinion of the people that I represent when I say that it is not the intention of the workers in general to pass a vote of censure upon the Government they have elected themselves. But the workers have made sacrifices, and they ask in return that they be given employment in order that their sacrifices may not be in vain. I appeal to the Government to have something done immediately to ease the unemployment situation. Let them not do so in a manner like the slow motion picture that you see in the cinema after a great fight. I ask the Government and I honestly impress upon them to start the work at once. I quite agree with one of the Deputies on the Labour benches, the Deputy for Cork, when he says that when you write to a Minister or ask him a question the reply you get is "The matter is having attention."

Now, I would like to point out that there are a great many industries in the country on which employment might be given, apart altogether from the roads. We have at the present time, in Westmeath and Longford, hundreds and hundreds of acres of turbary and bog land. This is an absolute loss to the nation at present. There is a huge amount of wealth in it and great possibilities for employment if properly worked. The lakes and bog land can be drained and the turbary can be turned into fuel. If you invest money in that you get your money refunded again. I know very well it is necessary to keep up the roads. But I think it is just as necessary to keep the home fires burning, and I ask the Minister for Defence not to make scavengers of the men who went out to fight for the freedom of the country. It is a very poor return for a man who left his home and family and went out at the call of his country in order that he might bring peace and save the nation from utter ruin to be put in the position that the song he would sing now would be "Scavengers are we."

As a matter of explanation, what does the Deputy mean by "making scavengers"?

A scavenger is a man who works on the roads with a brush and shovel. I think that the Minister for Defence or the Government should have something better to offer the man who went out to fight for the country. I know it is very hard to cope with the large number of men who are being demobilised, but I think at the same time that something a little better than scavenging work should be given them. If it is necessary to turn them on to road work, give them enough wages to keep body and soul together.

I appreciate very much the speech of Deputy O'Mahony, and I was delighted with the beautiful picture he painted for us. I sincerely hope his suggestions will be put into practice. In speaking on the matter twelve months ago, I said I hoped something like that would be done, but up to the present my hopes were not realised. The workers of Ireland have too long been treated to the invitation "live horse and you will get grass." What I am afraid of is that the horse may die in the meantime, and the same fate may befall the worker. We are told "Live; there are good times coming." I sincerely hope Deputy O'Mahony's suggestion will be put into operation and that the Government will do something to relieve unemployment by breaking a link in the unemployment chain and giving them an opportunity to live in the country for which they have made so many sacrifices.

I desire to support this resolution in its entirety. At the outset I wish to say that as far as the word "scavenger" is concerned, it was introduced into this motion by Deputy Lyons. The men for whom I speak are so anxious for work that they are prepared to do any sort of work, and I do not think it degrades a man to sweep the streets if he is paid for it.

I did not intend, when using the word, to make little in any way of the National soldiers. I do hold if they are employed on the road they should get the same wages and not be given very much less than has been paid up to this.

I also would like to resent at this stage some of the statements made by Deputy Good. Deputy Good has stated that the dole was an iniquitous system, and he talks as if the dole were in operation at this period. He stated that the administration of the dole by the Free State has been abused, or he used words to that effect. Now it must, and I am sure it will, be information to Deputy Good to be told that there is no such system at all as the dole in operation in the Free State, but that in England and in the North of Ireland the dole is still in operation. Deputy Good draws a comparison between the wages paid in England and in the Free State. In doing so he suggests that if the wages that prevailed in England were in operation in the Free State, we would have no unemployment here. Anybody who has read the history that is being made in England for the past two or three weeks will know that that statement is an absolute fallacy. The great Tory Government found it necessary during the past six or seven weeks to go to the country and have a general election on this very question of unemployment. I think that proves conclusively that although wages are lower in England than in the Free State that low wages is not a remedy for unemployment.

On a point of information, might I point out that what I said was that it would be a remedy, or would give employment to a great many unemployed at present. I did not say that it would do away with unemployment.

I do not think that makes the situation anything better. I think the inference I drew from Deputy Good's speech is the inference anybody might draw from listening to his argument. So far as the county councils are concerned, the inference that Deputy O'Mahony endeavoured to get the Dáil to draw from Deputy Morrissey's and Deputy Murphy's remarks was that we on these benches resent the employment of ex-National soldiers on the road. That is an entirely wrong idea to convey to the Dáil. On the contrary, we did not object to ex-National soldiers being employed on the road. We, as well as every other section of the people, recognise that a great deal of gratitude is due to the National soldiers, and the country ought to be thankful to them for bringing us into the state of comparative tranquility that we enjoy to-day.

What we do object to is that the men who have served their country well for the past 12 or 18 months are now being sent back to civil life to blackleg upon their fellow-workmen, because that is the meaning of the circular referred to. Deputy Gorey has spoken about the agricultural wage. Other Deputies and Deputy Gorey have spoken about a 28/- a week wage. In the circular that has been sent to the Wexford County Council by the Minister for Local Government, we were asked to decrease the wages below the standard of agricultural wages. The standard agricultural wage in Wexford is 28/-, but it was suggested that we should pay men a figure very much less than that. The suggestion was that we should pay men on road work 4/6 per day and that all these men employed should be ex-National soldiers, and we resent that. And I appeal confidently to the men themselves who were asked to take up work at that wage to resent it, too. It is not a fair position to place these men in, and one is forced to think that when the Ministry of Defence or whatever Department was responsible for it, suggested or made an order that the unememployment cards of the National soldiers should not be stamped during the period they were serving in the Army, they had this in mind.

That was done with the idea that you could force those men into the certain position that they cannot draw unemployment benefit at the end of their period in the National Army. Now, so far as the dole is concerned, I want to make it absolutely clear and plain that the workers of Ireland, or the huge majority of them, so far as I know them, want honest work; and they are prepared to give a good return for any money the Government are prepared to put into any scheme. Certainly, to some extent, and so far as a few instances go, there were men who did not work very much who were demoralised by the dole, but men who were working at the time the slump came, in this country, want work again, and do not want this unemployment benefit if there is anything else forthcoming to provide them and their families in decent comfort. I had a letter from New Ross a few days ago stating that 400 unemployed men held a meeting, and passed a resolution, and sent it on to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, stating that they did not want unemployment benefit, that they wanted work, and that the time had arrived when everybody should do his best to put the country on its feet, and so long as unemployment continued, the country was not going to be placed in the position in which it should be in.

Let me give an example of how wages affect certain districts. Again referring to the statement of Deputy Good, I would like to point out this particular instance. In Wexford plans were submitted by the Local Government Ministry for the building of certain houses, and a contractor undertook to build them at £630 each. The wages in Wexford for bricklayers, carpenters and plasterers are 1/6 per hour. Similar houses were built in Dublin by a contractor for £475 each, although the wages in Dublin and its vicinity are 4d. or 4½d. per hour more. You cannot blame the workers, in this occasion. That is one instance, and one example, and there may be more, which show that the workers are not always to blame and that the contractors are getting a great deal more out of the work than they profess to in matters of this kind. Deputy O'Mahony talked about building houses, and I do hope the Ministry, before very long, will seriously tackle the housing problem, but as there are necessary details in connection with matters such as house building that take a considerable time to get ready, I do not think the present moment is the proper one to consider housing schemes as providing an immediate remedy. So far as skilled workers are concerned, I know they are prepared to do unskilled work if it is offered to them in present circumstances. I appeal to the Government to look at this from the proper angle and to try and secure the confidence of the average man in the country. People in the country certainly realise that the Government has gone through a very bad time. They know the state of affairs that prevailed for the past 12 months contributed to the state of affairs now existing, but they are looking with confidence to their Government to do something to help them in this crisis, and I do hope our appeal on this occasion will not be in vain.

I join in the demand put forward by the Labour Party that something should be done, and done quickly, for the relief of unemployment in the Saorstát. In the city of Dublin to-day I can give the Minister for Local Government a few instances, if he wishes, where there is actual starvation within a stone's throw of Nelson's Pillar. It is very hard, almost impossible, indeed, to get people to believe that that is so, but it is so, and quite recently we had a coroner's inquest where the verdict was that the deceased person who was the subject of the inquest had died of starvation. There is starvation in the city of Dublin to-day, and I ask if the Government is going to do anything for the relief of the unemployed that it should be done very quickly. In Dublin we have not got the number of road workers referred to so frequently in the debate. I am aware that the road workers are a very deserving class of persons, but we have in the city of Dublin men engaged in the workshops, men engaged at the lathes who are walking round the streets of Dublin, who do not want the dole and do not want charity, but who do want decent work. I make a suggestion to the Minister for Finance and to the Minister for Local Government as to how they could immediately remedy these things. We have in Dublin at least 25,000 people living in single room rookeries. These rookeries should be swept away. They are rat-infested rookeries and we have people living in abject poverty in houses without any proper sanitary accommodation. I made a suggestion some time ago, and I was satisfied at the time that there were many persons prepared to adopt the suggestion made, and that was that private builders—men with small capital—should get a Government grant, no matter how small, towards building houses. If that were done it would remedy the housing shortage and it would also provide decent employment for many men now hanging round the Labour Exchanges looking for anything that comes their way.

I am a member of the Dublin Port and Docks Board, and about two years ago a very elaborate scheme of reclamation of valuable land fell through because that Board could not raise sufficient money to continue the reclamation of the land. The grant in that case was first given by the Lord St. David's Committee. The continuance of the grant would have provided employment and produced very valuable rateable property for the citizens of Dublin. I also think it is time that we had the Fiscal Commission's report. If this report could remedy some of the injustices to Irish industries, if it could stop the wholesale dumping of manufactured articles which could be made at a very reasonable rate in the city of Dublin, I think the Fiscal Commission would be doing very good work indeed. We have in Ringsend three or four bottle factories closed down entirely, and we have every Thursday at the Port Board a return showing—and it is rather unfortunate that it should be so—on an average from twenty to thirty tons of bottles dumped in Dublin almost every week. The boat carrying these manufactured goods, manufactured on starvation rates of pay, is allowed into this country without paying a penny tax, and the ship that carries these goods passes by, before it gets to its landing stage, the bottle factories that used to supply Ireland with bottles. I think something should be done in that direction.

I join with Deputy Lyons who spoke about the discharged soldier, the man discharged from the army and sent home to his wife and family and not allowed to draw one penny of unemployment benefit, the man of whom Deputies in this Dáil were so loud in their praises. It is because of the services rendered by these men that we are enabled to sit here, and it is also because of the protection they rendered that our own houses are still standing. Now we have these men thrown out of the Army and not allowed to get the same privilege as is enjoyed by the men who did not do anything to protect the interests of the State. We grant, of course, that the unemployed did do their share, but as regards taking responsibility and putting their lives in danger, they did not do as much as these men who are now leaving the National Army, and I think something ought to be done for the latter. I think it is unfair and a shame for the Parliament of the country to allow the discharged soldier, who has served perhaps for twelve months or two years in the Army, to be sent home, and that simply because his card was not stamped during the period of service— because a condition in the allocation of unemployed money as regards having twelve stamps on his card previous to joining the Army was not complied with—he should not be entitled to get anything.

I did ask before that some amending measure should be introduced in order to give these men at least the same privileges as are enjoyed by those who did not join the Army. In conclusion, I desire to say that I support very cordially the Motion which has been very ably and very reasonably put forward for consideration from the Labour benches.

There seems to be general agreement in all quarters of the Dáil on several points in regard to this question of unemployment. In the first place, unemployment is there. That is an unmistakeable and an unwelcome fact, and it is also to be regretted that it is not very much on the decrease. I am glad, however, to say that it is not very much on the increase either. The problem also exists in other countries as well as our own. All through the world, since the great world war, one of its consequences has been this awful spectre of unemployment. That is an admitted fact. In the second place, the dole has been condemned in all sections and from all quarters of the Dáil. The dole, undoubtedly, had a demoralising influence on the workers of the country. The workers of the country to-day say that they do not want the dole, the employers say that they do not want the dole, and as far as we are concerned in the Free State, the dole is practically non-existent. The third point of agreement to my mind is that something should be done, and must be done as soon as possible by the Government. Arising out of the third point, as regards agreement, comes the question as to how that something is to be done. I admit most readily that the problem is an exceedingly difficult one. It is a difficult one for any Government.

The late British Government went to the country because they considered that unemployment was rampant there, and that the way to remedy it according to their minds was by a system of protection. They may have thought that was the remedy, but the British electorate evidently thought otherwise. As far as we are concerned here, it has not been seriously suggested that protection shall be our remedy. It is true it has been mentioned previously by Deputy Johnson, but that, at any rate, I do not think is even his immediate proposal. But how is the Government, faced with this difficult proposition, to meet it? It has to, and it must, provide means and methods of doing away with unemployment, financial means in the first place, and channels through which and by which these means may be utilised. Our Government is not overwhelmed with riches, and, therefore, I can thoroughly realise the difficulties that the various Ministers will be in with the Minister for Finance when they approach him on the subject of endeavouring to get means for their Departments to stay unemployment. There are, however, certain channels well known to everyone which, at any rate, suggest a possibility of removing this difficulty.

There is housing and improvement of the conditions of the people, not only in the metropolis, where, as Deputy Byrne stated, things are bad, but, as I can assure the Dáil, in the country and in the provincial towns, where they are equally bad. It is not so much, to my mind, a question of finding employment for skilled, as for the unskilled workers. Possibly it is true that there is a certain amount of unemployment amongst the skilled artisans of the country; but everyone knows that the great bulk of labour in this country is unskilled, and that it is necessarily among the unskilled that the greatest unemployment exists. To my mind, therefore, a system which would give the greatest proportion of employment to unskilled labour and which, at the same time, would be for the benefit of the nation at large, is what the Government should immediately, at any rate, address themselves to. It has been suggested that there should be a great system of national trunk roads instituted. All this requires money, and it is as to how the money is to be provided that I am most anxious to hear what the Government have to say. Housing must be seen to; the roads are there to be repaired; bridges have to be rebuilt, and there is also the necessity for repairing, and even for the construction of harbours round our coasts. There are plenty of means of giving employment, but the difficulty that I see is to find the money for employing these means. When that aid is brought forward, as I am sure it must be shortly, by the Government, I hope it will not be suggested, as Deputy Corish led us to understand, that the Government intend to bring about a reduction of wages throughout the country, by paying the men employed on these works of reconstruction, whether they be ex-National soldiers or otherwise, a less wage than the existing local wage for unskilled workers. Certainly, I think that would be unfair, both to the workers you are about to employ and to those who are already in employment in similar forms of work in the district. It has been stated that unemployment is largely due to the rate of wages. I think Deputy Corish met Deputy Good very fairly on that point, when he showed that in England to-day, though wages in some respects may be lower, yet unemployment is, if anything, more rampant. I am not going into the reason for unemployment, and I am not going to enquire as to whether the present position is due to past actions on the part of employers or trade unions. What we have to go into is the immediate question of unemployment at the moment, and to see what we can do to remedy that state of affairs. I am confident that the Government cannot and do not wish to ignore the state of unemployment in the country, and I feel sure, having heard the speeches from the Labour Benches, that if the Government bring forward a fair scheme of employment, based upon wages that will not in any sense be "blackleg" wages," the Labour organisations throughout the country will meet them more than half way and endeavour, along with the Government and the employers to, at any rate, better, if not abolish, this appalling state of affairs.

As a matter of explanation, and before we get too far away from the statement that was made by Deputy Byrne in connection with unemployment benefit for men who served in the National Forces, I wish to point out that service in the National Forces does not deprive a man of any benefit that he would otherwise be entitled to. Men who before they entered the National Forces were employed in insurable trades are kept by contributions during the time they were serving in the National Forces, in benefit, so that they may enjoy, on leaving the Forces, the benefits of the amounts previously paid, as well as of the amounts paid during their service. A man who was not employed in insurable employment is no worse off on leaving the National Forces than he would have been if he never served in them. The Deputy was present, I take it, when the Act was passed which dealt with that particular matter. As far as making service in the National Forces an insurable occupation, considering the short period of time that men enlisted for, and considering the great cost it would be to make service in the National Forces insurable, it was considered inadvisable to do so. The cost of making National Service insurable would be something like £250,000 for the last 12 months.

I do not intend to detain the Dáil very long, as I am sure Deputies are getting tired of this almost interminable discussion. There are one or two points to which I would like to call attention. In the first place, I would like to say that I have the fullest sympathy with the unemployed. I think it is a shame and a disgrace that any man able and willing to work should find himself in this country in the position of not being able to get work and being obliged to take advantage of the dole. I am aware, strictly speaking, that this is not a dole, that there is an unemployment benefit to which the worker contributes. But the Government also contributes, so that it amounts, to a certain extent, to a dole. It seems to me that if the leaders of labour in this country took their courage in their hands and recognised the economic conditions that exist, we would find a solution of this question much easier. We have sad knowledge of the evil effects of the guidance which has been given in certain cases by leaders of labour, at any rate in the county I represent. In Tipperary, Waterford and Cork creameries belonging to Messrs. Cleeve are now in process of liquidation. That is directly due, in my opinion, to the unsound advice and the unsound leadership that the workers got.

May I ask Deputy Heffernan if he knows the views of Messrs. Cleeve on that point?

I do not know the views of Messrs. Cleeve, but I know the views of the farmers who are very closely concerned in the matter. I am giving the views of the farmers. There are in these counties, and in the towns at present, considerable numbers of unemployed, and I maintain that their disemployment was directly caused by the action of their leaders last year, when they caused these workers to take possession of the creameries, and attempt to establish forms of Soviet.

An immense financial loss was caused to the owners of the creamery but a still greater financial loss was caused to the farmers. A great loss was also caused to the workers, directly and indirectly, because we find that on account of this action there are hundreds of men unemployed in the towns of those counties. In Tipperary town there are a great number of unemployed. I think those men should place the blame for that unemployment on the shoulders of those properly responsible for it—the men who acted as their leaders at that time.

A recognition of economic conditions would greatly help to solve this problem. It must be recognised—it has been stated and emphasised by the Minister for Agriculture and others— that the basic industry, agriculture, is now in a very bad condition and that, as a matter of fact, it is not a paying proposition. I maintain that on the condition of agriculture depends the condition of employment in the country. If the agricultural workers are paid a certain wage, it is not reasonable or fair that other workers living in a rural district should be paid a higher wage. It seems to me that it is not reasonable or fair that men who are working on the roads and living side by side with agricultural workers should be placed in a position of exceptional advantage. My idea is that economic conditions should be so brought about, that the position of the agricultural worker would be improved and that he would be paid a somewhat higher wage. Before that can be done, to me it seems almost certain that the wages which are enjoyed by the other workers must come down to some extent. I do not think anybody on those benches or on the other benches in the chamber desires to crush down the worker to a wage below a living standard. It is my desire—and the desire I am sure of the other Deputies who sit on these benches—to see that wages are paid which will maintain a decent standard of life. But, as Deputy Gorey said, we must cut our cloth according to our measure. We cannot take a quart out of a pint pot. We cannot get more money out of agriculture than agriculture produces.

I also agree with Deputy Gorey that it is advisable that work should be provided, even though it be unproductive work. But, if possible, I think that the work to be provided should be productive work, and I think there are excellent openings for the Government in existing conditions in this regard. I understand that a considerable grant is to be made for the relief of unemployment, and I trust that that grant will be devoted to such uses that employment of a productive character will be produced. I refer to such matters as drainage, afforestation, reclamation and other productive work in connection with agriculture. In particular, I would call the attention of the Government to the necessity for the drainage of certain rivers and consequent reclamation of agricultural land. In my county there are two or three rivers which are always blocked up, with consequent silting. The result is that considerable areas of valuable agricultural land are flooded periodically, and the land is deteriorating from year to year. I suggest that the Government should take serious notice of those facts and, when they bring forward their scheme for unemployment, that they should make arrangements whereby grants should be given to the responsible authorities, so that employment could be provided at the productive works to which I have referred.

I agree, to a large extent, with the first portion of this motion put forward from the Labour Benches. I do not agree with the latter portion of the motion because I think it is advisable that wages paid to the workers on the roads, who would be earning this grant and who would probably be demobilised soldiers of the National Army, should approximate to the wages earned by agricultural workers in the same districts. It would be very inadvisable to add to the jealousies and constant disputes which arise in the country districts. The reason for this circular by the Local Government Department is, I think, easily understood. They have control over those funds in connection with the roads, and they feel, having that control, that they are entitled to specify the wages that should be paid. They do not control the wages of other workers of local Boards, with the result that they cannot dictate what wages should be paid to these constantly-employed workers. It would be advisable, if it were at all possible, that Labour leaders should make a compromise and get into touch with those responsible for paying those wages. Some arrangement might be come to whereby the wages paid to demobilised soldiers would be somewhat increased and that, in order to balance things, the wages paid to the ordinary road workers would be somewhat reduced.

Representing, as I do, the farming community, who constitute the main source from which the money is drawn for the payment of road workers, I think I should state my view that it would be impossible for the industry to bear any longer the immense drain upon it in the form of rates. The cry is common up and down the country that the farming industry is not able to bear the rates. I know perfectly well that that is the case. If we are to have things moving in a harmonious way, it is necessary that some effort should be made by the Government to reduce rates. Evidently their intention in sending out this circular, which has been so much criticised, was to induce economies in local administration and to point out that, in order to bring about those economies, wages would have to be reduced.

I did not notice during this discussion much attention being given to the condemnatory terms of the resolution or to the subject matter with which it deals. After all, if there be unemployment, I think it only fair and reasonable that the ground should be examined in order to see what is responsible for it, what is its cause, what led up to it, and what steps, if any, are going to be taken to try and do away with it. I think that anybody who has observed the course of events in Europe and Ireland for the last ten years will have no hesitation in being able to place his finger on the real cause of unemployment. It is not necessary to go to any length to explain that the whole system of economics was disturbed by the late war, by the revolution here, and by the changes that naturally followed those two events— the raising of prices, the raising of incomes, the lowering of incomes, and alterations in capital. Compared with that which now exists, there was a far sounder system of economy ten years ago. Ordinary business at that time, the expansion of business, industrial concerns, and commerce generally had much more reason to be satisfied at that time than they have now. There is a certain nervousness brought about by rapidly changing circumstances, by the uncertainty of business, by industrial strife, and so on, and, whatever objections there may be to that particular term by the Deputy from Clare, one must not exclude those considerations when considering this problem. Whatever economic basis there was at that time it had a long growth, and the longer the growth the firmer the roots of that growth were implanted in the soil.

It is not for the purpose of standing over or praising that particular economy that I mention it but rather to show that it is not in a day, a week, a month or a year one builds up such conditions of affairs as satisfy the business community, capitalists, financiers, and other people who are almost inseparable from the economic system. I think the changed conditions and the alterations in income and capital led in some measure or another to this particular problem which we have now to try and solve. The reasons which led to those conditions are gone. The late war has gone, let us hope for ever, although there are indications now and again that there is a possibility of its resumption. Our own revolution has gone, and I think it is time for all parties in the State to take stock of the changed conditions and to see how far those changed conditions are responsible for this particular difficulty and this great problem that must be solved, either now or in the future, and see if there are root causes in the changed conditions which are going to make unemployment perpetual with us. We cannot exclude from our consideration in this matter, as I mentioned to the Dáil a month ago and as the Minister for Agriculture mentioned within the last fortnight, what are the prospects and what is the condition of our main industry. Without being in any way disrespectful to the members of the Farmers' Party, I would not be disposed to take their particular interpretation as to how it stands, as, like our friends opposite, they are inclined now and again to exaggerate a little, and one must conclude that this country must become bankrupt if one were to take the farmers' interpretation. One must also conclude that the Government, and those who support it, with all its works and pomps should have been damned long ago if one were to take the labour interpretation.

at this stage resumed the chair.

It is a matter of serious consideration how that particular industry stands with regard to the other industries. If examined on that basis, we must say that the Farmers' Party are entitled even to exaggerate a little and to say that their industry is charged with costs and liabilities which if it is not able to bear is at least groaning under. Some of the recent statements dealt with unemployment as if it were a passing phase, as if it were something which must be given a tonic and the tonic will do the rest. That is not the manner in which the Government approached this matter now or during the last six or twelve months.

A DEPUTY

Hear, hear.

That is, I think, the manner in which the Deputy who says "Hear, hear" seemed to look upon it a short time ago. Ministering to it either in the form of uncovenanted benefit or relief works is only leaving it there, and, to some extent, perpetuating it. If we are prepared now to see how far we can place this new economy that we are all charged with on a more stabilised and a sounder basis than it has been upon, and—even members on the opposite benches will admit it—than it is at present, if we are to take into consideration the question as to whether a mere temporary and passing relief is to be administered, one of the first considerations is the uncovenanted benefit or, as some people will call it, the dole. If we are to consider the dole we ought to consider it from the very beginning. It was not of the seeking, I think, of the Labour Party or of any of the labour leaders of this country that it was given to this country. It was an easy way of getting out of the difficulty when there were capital monies in the possession and under the control of a very much richer country than this. We cannot afford that particular form of assistance known as the uncovenanted dole. The fund which distributes that particular form of assistance, or insurance, to give it its proper term, is now something like £1,000,000 on the wrong side. We will have to advance something like £1,000,000 to that fund in order to allow it to discharge the payments it has made or which it will be committed to.

Even if we were to use that particular form it would only be shelving the problem, and it has this great disadvantage, it makes for indifference. It does not make for comfort, and is particularly costly, and I would ask members opposite when they criticise us on this question not to lose sight of the fact that this is a poor country relatively when considered in the light of our neighbours. The last time I saw a return of the revenue of Scotland, which has not a population much greater than ours, it was in the neighbourhood of £100,000,000. Our revenue is one quarter of that. We are not as rich as Great Britain. We have not her potentialities, and we are not on the scratch mark with any of those countries on the continent whose coasts flank our own. We have not got any right to consider the methods which have been adopted in other countries in dealing with this subject.

Not to consider them?

Yes, not to consider them. In some countries they have adopted what is known as inflation. We have not got a right to consider that. We have made no great sacrifices, and we have got nothing to show why we should disturb a very serious credit situation. In other countries on the continent what we take as a pound standard, is worth only 6/8. We cannot do that. We have in the first place no national debt. The ten millions we have borrowed is a national debt, and in good faith it must be returned in the form in which it was borrowed. We are not entitled to consider that question of inflation as a means of alleviating our situation, even if it has solved the difficulty in other countries.

On an examination of returns that we have had from different parts of the country, we find it very difficult to agree with the case that has been made by various members of the Labour Party. I do not see why there should be an extraordinary difference in the rate of pay in the different counties of Ireland of the road workers. The amount varies from 4/6 to 8/8. I cannot see why there should be for another form of payment the difference between 5/10 and 9/7. The agricultural community in those particular places do not get that difference in the price of their produce, and why the cost of living should vary so much between one county and another is certainly beyond my comprehension. In distributing public funds we are not entitled to pay to one county, 9/7, and to another county, 5/10; nor would there be a justification for giving 8/8 for an article in Leitrim, and 4/6, say, in the County Galway. We cannot make a distinction between the counties, such as that of the different wages paid. I think I would have the majority of the people in the country behind me on that question. Members opposite may dispute it but there are the facts. We get money from the public on an equal basis. We are not entitled, getting it on a level basis all over the country, to distribute it unequally by reason of certain changes in the rates of wages paid in different districts.

Deputies say we have failed to deal with unemployment. What have we done for unemployment? I mentioned the million pounds. Since we came into office, sometime in January, 1922, we have practically provided a million pounds for housing, and I invite the Deputies opposite to concern themselves, even to the point of considering what that million pounds meant. Deputy Corish said a house is built for £630 in Wexford, and the same house costs £475 in Dublin. I wonder would a man who is paid 1/6 per hour for building that house in Wexford pay £630 for it. If you charge the State 1/6 per hour for your work, are you prepared to buy the article at the fair cost at which it was built or made?

On a point of explanation, what I wanted to point out was that the workers are blamed for the high cost of production, and here you have a case in Dublin where tradesmen are paid 1/10½ per hour. The house is built for £475. In Wexford, where the rate is 4½d. an hour less, it costs £630, which shows that contractors are reaping some of the benefit.

Take it at the smaller price. Will they pay £475? If not, we are not on an economic basis. Another Deputy who is a member of two local authorities, said this is the duty of the Government. Then what are the two local authorities doing? One of them will be entitled at the end of the financial year to get £100,000. What are they doing for this unemployment question? They sent us in a political petition a few days ago, and if they spent as much time on considering constructive proposals dealing with important questions, such as unemployment, and then when they had exhausted their energies on that subject, were to take up politics, I think the people they are supposed to represent, would be better satisfied.

Mention has been made of the Fiscal Report, and I am leading up now to a point which I have barely touched on. We are not satisfied, in connection with any report coming from any quarter, dealing with the Fiscal question, to start off at present prices. We want to have those prices examined to see whether or not they are economic, and if they are uneconomic we would not be justified in starting off on that basis. A Deputy said that if we prohibited bottles coming into Dublin by putting on a tariff they could be made here. The Deputy did not state at what price they were being brought in, and at what price they would be made here. It is not fair to get up and say that. Can the people of Ireland afford to pay uneconomic prices for articles manufactured here? If we start on that basis and build on it you will have no money to buy, either here or elsewhere. If it can be shown to us, if the Dáil can be persuaded, that there is unfair competition in the matter of dumping, that there can be a fair return for work done here, we are prepared to do everything in our power to ensure that the men working here will be guaranteed their employment, guaranteed their output and guaranteed from any form of dumping which is unfair, but we are not going to put a tariff on goods coming in if the prices charged locally for the same goods are beyond their value. For something like twelve months we have had representations from people in business from all parts of the country, every one of them having the same story. It is not altogether a question of the high wages. I would not care twopence if the prices were twice as high provided the output were four times up, or only three times up. The question is: Can we get value for value, and I think the Deputies opposite will admit that that is a fair case to put up, that if workers in any part of the country are provided with money for such a thing as housebuilding they should themselves be able to purchase these houses at a reasonable price, that the improvement should start from the bottom, and that it ought not to be a question of building houses for rich people only.

Even with the unsatisfactory state of affairs existing here people are coming along to start businesses. We have evidence that, for the last six or eight or nine months firms have started and manufacturers are coming and spending a good deal of money in putting up factories. But they are banking upon the sound commonsense of the people that if the conditions at present prevailing are unsatisfactory the people will realise it and that it is only a passing phase, to be improved as soon as the people have had sufficient time to consider the importance of these questions.

Recently in a certain Government Department—I cannot vouch for the story, but I mention it now so that if there be any truth in it the people concerned will learn something—some people recently demobilised from the Army were employed, and I am told that it is common talk amongst them that they are not going to give a return for the money they are being paid. That is not the spirit we would expect, that men coming from a fine, honourable service like the Army, should take up, and if we find they are not giving a return they will be shunted, even though they are threatening great things if they are shunted. We are not going to take these threats or be afraid of the consequences. If they do not give a return for the money, no matter who they are and no matter what services they give, they will go, and I think that is the view even of Deputies opposite.

Even! I suggest to the President that it is especially the view of Deputies here.

As regards the Government's failure to deal with this question of unemployment, I think I have at some length dealt with what the Government's view on it is, that is, getting on a basis where value will be offered for Government money, or for the people's money, for any article received or any service rendered. If we are agreed on that—I suppose that it would be with some reluctance that I would be given a Tá vote from the other side just now—then the other points could be very easily supplied. The Government's policy is to apply as much money as can be made available to constructive works rather than to Uncovenanted Benefit. The principal scheme of works is a road scheme. That absorbs unskilled labour almost entirely, and we are prepared to make available for that road scheme a very considerable sum of money. With that scheme and the reconstruction of bridges and such work, I anticipate that we will be able to have available, along with one other little activity that I will mention later, a sum of approximately £2,000,000, or close on that. The Postmaster-General told me some time ago that he expected an influx of something like 100,000 American visitors next year. If that be the case, I think that the roads ought to be in a reasonably good state of repair by the time they come, and that the impression they will get from this country will be such that, in spite of what the Press may have said about us during the last twelve or eighteen months, we can remedy defects in a comparatively short space of time.

Will you re-build the Post Office?

There are other points to be considered in connection with the re-building of the Post Office, and I think that although the present arrangements are, perhaps, not delightful, there are more important matters which might be considered. The Deputy mentioned one, and it is an important thing to bear in mind, that there are a large number of people in the city of Dublin without proper habitations. If we concentrate upon swell Government buildings during the next two or three years, a smaller sum will be available for building houses for the people who are so admirably represented by Deputy Alfred Byrne.

You got in on me there.

I always like interruptions. Now, we come to the second point. A very considerable amount of time has been spent on the consideration of this subject. I have had many unofficial conferences with employers, whom we selected, and with responsible Labour leaders. We put it up to the employers on, I think, the last day what our views on this particular subject were.

We pointed out to them we could not afford much money, but that we were prepared to go a fair distance and guarantee that, if we were met. They agreed to meet us, with some little hesitation. At the last meeting we held one of the Deputies appeared to be troubled with a rather scrupulous conscience, and mentioned that there was a fly in the ointment. I think we made his mind easy on that, so that it would not be a stumbling block, and I think we parted, they, on their side, undertaking to do whatever was in their power to find accommodation on this proposal we are going to make. Considerable advances must be made by the other side.

The Government is prepared to put up a sum of £250,000 in the nature of subsidies for the building of houses, and a sum of something like £50,000 for the reconstruction of houses under certain conditions. These houses are to be built for a certain price. The local authority, or any person bringing down the sum of money we have stated, must be entitled to get a house. In other words, we wanted to make sure that when asking for accommodation from the various trades or trades unions they, in turn, would derive the maximum share of the benefit from this particular accommodation that we are asking for. There are three forms of houses—three-roomed, four-roomed and five-roomed. The Government grant for a three-roomed house is £60; a four-roomed house, £80; and a five-roomed house, £100.

Are these confined to cities?

Yes; and in rural districts £50 for a three-roomed house; £70 for a four-roomed; and £90 for a five-roomed house. We have a Bill ready to introduce immediately that we get accommodation on this; and every possible facility will be afforded, as far as the Government is concerned, even in the payment of the money. We have been told that a housing scheme would not, of itself, provide much employment. We calculate that the roads scheme I have mentioned should absorb anywhere from 12,000 to 20,000 men. We calculate that the housing scheme should employ somewhere in the neighbourhood of 10,000 men—possibly not 10,000—but with another scheme to which the British Government is committed, there should be something like 10,000 employed. I mention the housing scheme first, because most of the unemployment is confined to unskilled workers. There may not be opportunities just now, or for a month or two, for building. It is the bad season, but it is a time when sites may be developed and other work done which would give employment to the persons most concerned. We want a considerable reduction in the cost of houses. I want to give Deputy Johnson as little chance of attacking me as possible when I said, in the cost of houses, if you put in twice as much work as you put in up to this, I do not care what wages you get from Deputy Good. I do not think he would object to paying present prices provided he gets more work done, but we want the houses at these prices, and I hope that the Builders' Committee which met us will be received in a good spirit in trying to find accommodation on this question. They say:

"That the Government be informed that their proposals have been carefully considered, and the Committee are of opinion that houses can be built with the grant of the subsidy and the assistance of the local authorities as set out in the proposals, provided that labour is willing to reduce materially its rates of wages (which are at present the highest in Great Britain and the Irish Free State) and that the cost of building materials, which are governed to some extent by the cost of labour, can be reduced to reasonable figures. The Committee are prepared to open negotiations immediately with the representatives of labour and the providers of building materials, if the Government will call upon these parties to meet together in the National interest to see what can be done to meet the demand for houses. After these interviews have taken place and the views of both parties are ascertained, the Committee are prepared to put forward proposals."

I am not positively certain about the price of a house. I think about £500 for a five-roomed house, £400 for a four-roomed house, and £300 for a three-romed house.

On what prices were they based? Were they based on a reduction of wages?

Those prices are to some extent based on what we would call the "middle-cut," or, perhaps, not quite the "middle-cut." We took into consideration first what would be a fair price for a house, and then we considered the present prices for houses. We did not go quite, but nearly, half way in this particular price. I hope Deputies will give me sufficient credit for these figures to say we are not getting down in these figures to an economic basis, but we hope eventually to get down to it. Mention has been made of a drainage scheme, but we are not satisfied that drainage schemes are feasible at present. They are big works that take perhaps even more consideration than the question of unemployment, before one is ready to deal with them. Engineering experts have to be employed, and other matters attended to, but there have been certain minor drainage works in various parts of the country which have been almost inoperative for some time, and we propose to consider the question of utilising the Board of Works and having those drainage schemes attended to in the next few months. That was one of the services I had in mind when I mentioned the sum of £1,750,000 or £2,000,000. Representations have been received as to the carrying out of work in the county boroughs, the clearing of sites in O'Connell Street, and reconstruction in Cork. If the Dublin Corporation would put their politics in their pockets for a time and consider that, we might get on with a little business. Large sums will be paid in the current year for compensation, some of which will be for building and reconstruction, and I ask the sympathy of the Dáil and of the people of the country in this matter. Unless the price of building is brought down, the country will be salted in the amounts that will be decreed in the various Courts, and the more the country is salted the less chance there is of providing the common people with decent habitations. Our means are strictly limited. That point need not be stressed, and I think Deputy Johnson is aware of it. What we want in this accommodation we are getting is to see how far it is possible to spread out the money we have got so that the maximum benefit will be derived by the people.

May I remind the President that I think he was going to refer to the £1,500,000 grant from Great Britain for houses for ex-service men?

Would I be in order in asking the President if the Government is prepared to approach the banks to help the local authorities to get the remainder of the money on somewhat favourable terms, such as in connection with other housing grants?

We had not in mind using the local authorities in this housing scheme, except to this extent; if they were willing to give sites to provide builders with an opportunity of erecting houses; they could be utilised to that extent. In the Bill we propose to insert a clause dealing with rates, spreading over a number of years the payment of rates, charging, say 5 per cent. the first year, 10 per cent. the second, and so on until the 20th year, when one would pay the full 100 per cent. That would come out in the Bill, but there is no use introducing a Bill unless there is agreement as regards the cost. With regard to what Deputy Redmond said about the Soldiers and Sailors Trust, we have been in communication with the British Government on that particular subject. Personally, I think what has held up that scheme is the relatively higher price which these buildings cost in the Saorstát as compared with the Six Counties. That is only an opinion, but I am not far wrong in expressing some opinions on these questions of finance.

Is the President in a position to say whether the Trust has been fully completed yet?

We have appointed our trustee. We appointed him many months ago. I have seen a despatch about the matter recently, but I cannot remember the exact terms of it. It was a draft of the Treasury Regulations and we made some suggestions with regard to them. I do not think there will be much delay in this matter. I would almost guarantee that there would be no delay if we can get this agreement. I firmly believe that is the only thing holding it up. We will get our proportion of the one and a half millions.

I was dealing with local authorities and what they can do in this matter. I am not at all satisfied that local authorities are the best method of dealing with houses. Utilise the local authorities and what happens? Every pane of glass that is broken costs twice as much to replace as it would cost the ordinary man if he did the work. Now, as regards the collection of rents, the local authorities must pay a fairly high wage to a man to do that work. Those are charges that the houses cannot bear, and they fall either upon the tenant of the house, or upon the local authority. These are times when I think every possible effort must be made to bring down rates of local authorities.

It is not for nothing that the Minister for Local Government asks for a Special Bill, and tells us that the County Councils were in debt over overdrafts for something like £800,000. One can quite understand that until this is wiped off, and until those Councils have established their credit again, the various banks cannot be blamed for saying: "We prefer to lend money to people who can afford to pay us, or who can make some effort to pay us." I mentioned that local authorities could give sites, and develop ground. Then there is the question of the rates, but I suppose I would be out of order in developing that matter as it would be one of the terms of the Bill that we would introduce if we got this agreement. The Government is not concerned in making an offensive on wages. I hope that point will be appreciated by the Labour Party.

It is very much like confirming it.

I am very sorry that impression has been created. What we are concerned with is seeing that value is given for what is received. During the Election, I stated that every honest day's work done by any man in this country added to the value of the country and enriched it. If 100,000 men do twice the value of the work they have done formerly, the whole country is going to benefit. That is the only point I know which is in dispute between us, although we may have approached it from different angles.

The unemployment position is very serious. I mentioned already the one million for housing. We gave something like £100,000 for roads earlier in the year. We managed to get back from the British Government all the old grants that had been withheld. We also managed to get from the British Government the cost of the damage that had been done by the British Forces, leaving us to bear only our proportion. A very considerable amount of that money has already been put in circulation. To some extent, people who have got it have not used it, or have not started to use it for the purpose for which they received it. There is no use in denying the fact that high prices have kept them from doing so. Even now there is a considerable development in the work of reconstruction in Cork.

We realise that this unemployment problem is a very serious one, and one, too, that makes the general condition of affairs in the country serious. But the Government is prepared to go far towards providing constructive remedies. I would certainly ask the Labour Party to judge these proposals, not in the light of wages resulting from collective bargaining in private industry, but in the light that it is their duty to assist us in securing work and maintenance for as many of the population suffering from the distress of unemployment as the most generous possible extension of the State's resources will permit. I do not want the Dáil to be under any misapprehension about the two millions grant. That is the sum that we are going to make available. The sum that the Government will put up out of that will depend largely upon how the fund is funded in the meantime. That is, the Road Board Fund. We are prepared to start putting it into operation now, and even to put in some money from the State. That, of course, requires a Supplementary Estimate. But there is no necessity to mention that until we bring up the Supplementary Estimates.

Last night I said that we had not extracted from the President much information regarding the Government policy on railways. We are better off to-night, inasmuch as this motion has at least extracted from the President a statement of the Government's present views upon the schemes for the relief of unemployment. I think they are not satisfactory, notwithstanding the promise of considerable sums of money. I had hoped, from the earlier statement made by the President, that he was getting down to the real roots of this problem, that he was going to show us that he had tackled the problem in its ultimate. I was particularly hopeful when he uttered these words: "That the workers should be able to buy houses" (or one might say other goods as well) "out of the wages they obtain." I hope the President will develop that and follow it through. That is good doctrine. It is the whole of our philosophy, that those who produce should be able to repurchase the whole produce of their labour in one form or another, and that there should not be abstracted from their produce certain portions of that produce which go to other people who do nothing in assisting in its production. I hope that the axiom that the President laid down as a desirable one will be adopted by him, and by the Ministry as a whole, as a guide for their future thinking and action on economic subjects.

It appears that the Government has made up its mind that a preliminary to inducing better production is to cut wages. The Scheme that has been put forward says, "Cut wages, certainly; if you can increase the output do so." The Minister for Local Government writing to the County Council says "Cut wages, certainly, and if you can improve your organisation of the road work, do so." I suggested here and in Committees when discussing such matters with the Government, that I am quite prepared to stand for greater production. I am quite prepared to assist in advocating keener attention to business, whether from the employers or the farmers or the workers. I believe it is necessary. I do not believe that it is possible to get out of this country the best value necessary for the up-keep of the people of this country unless a greater effort is made in the conduct of productive undertakings. But I am certainly not going to assist in any campaign preliminary to that effort which will imply a general cutting of wages. Deputy Good has referred to an invitation that he threw out to me a week or two ago, when he said he would be glad to talk over and discuss the problem between employers and workers in the building trades on the basis of a reduction in wages, assuming from the beginning that that was a sine qua non and the only condition to be considered for better and cheaper production. I have stated here publicly that if the employers in the building trade and if the employers of the country generally are prepared to meet and discuss these problems on the basis of work done, and management and organisation as well as labour, that we should find accommodation.

That invitation has been responded to from no quarter. The purpose, as defined here in this debate is we must buy labour cheaply and leave the chance of the market for the disposal of the produce. Now that is not the way to approach this problem if we are going to get anywhere near a solution, either temporary or permanent. We agree most emphatically that this is not a temporary problem, a temporary evil, a passing phase, which is not applicable to Ireland alone, and while I am not going to suggest that it is possible within this winter for Ireland to solve the problem permanently that other people have failed to do, I believe we can get on to the right road if we are willing to look at the problem of production and distribution from the basis of work done and service rendered.

The President emphasises time after time, the necessity for doing these things on a proper economic basis. Houses must be built on economic terms—I do not know at present what that means. Does it presuppose the continuation of present prices, for instance, present rates of profit, present rates of wages? You are going to build houses now at a price, and when we talk about economic basis we have got to assume something stable, and it is all very well to say we must build a house which is economic, meaning thereby that the income it is possible to draw for the rent of that house will pay for the capital expenditure. We then come back to the question what is going to be the basis of wages for the people who will occupy these houses? We fine down and get away from the undergrowths and we find the proposition in the mouths of the Farmers' Party. We find it must be the basis of the rate of wages which agriculture can pay to its labourer.

I only said that in regard to rural districts, not in regard to towns.

I quite understand that, but there are reactions if we fix the price for the basic occupation, and if we fix the rate of wages paid to road workers, on the foundation laid for agricultural labourers and that of the town workers on the foundation laid for road workers we very soon find that the ultimate on which this accretion falls is the rate paid by the agriculturist. But what is the case made by the agriculturists? What do they base their wages upon? Will they contend that they can afford to pay 25/- for labour to-day? Will they contend that they can afford to pay 28/-? Is it not that they are paying their present wages because they can get men to work for these wages, that men for fear of unemployment and for fear of hunger are compelled to work for these wages——

Agriculture is paying more than the industry will yield. The agriculturist is drawing on his capital to pay 25/-.

Exactly. It is not what the industry will bear, that is fixing the wages for agriculture. Industrialists for the moment, when they want to make the point and force reductions, say we can only pay what the industry will bear. Agriculturists say they cannot bear it—and when they are paying, £1, 25/-, 28/- and 30/- they are paying labour the price for which they can get it, and they are paying only the price that will induce men to work for. All right! I want to remind the Dáil of the very important fact that the Dáil will have to bear this in mind in its considerations of this and cognate problems.

We have deliberately for public policy decided that the agricultural land of the country shall be owned by the farming occupiers of the country, with the result that one-third of the population is dependent either upon employing other people or being employed by other people—landless men. This one-third of the population is to compete for the sale of its labour. They cannot fall back again on what they produced from the land. There is no ultimate reserve in the land for them; therefore, they are obliged to combine to get the best price they can out of their labour or, and this is the alternative I put to the Dáil, they must look for some social security for their livelihood. They must look for security, and that security can only be found in common agreement by the community that they will be sustained in their livelihood. That is probably agreed to. Well, then, the question arises what is the standard at which you are going to maintain them, what is the minimum upon which you are going to base their livelihood? The farmers say they cannot afford to employ out of the industry; that they are living upon capital. That is a temporary phase we are told. I suggest that it would be well to look forward to the probability that the prices for agricultural produce in the chief markets are not likely to rise. Well, then, for the agricultural labourers, who are unemployed, I put it to the Government for their very careful consideration whether the logic of the situation does not compel them to provide at least access to sufficient land for the agriculturalist to enable him to live upon his produce as the ultimate basis of security.

The road workers' case then is going to be dealt with on the assumption that the agricultural labourers wage is to be the determinant as to the rate of pay to be given to the road workers. The circular that was sent out by the Ministry of Local Government strikes me, and I speak quite deliberately, as about the worst emanation from a Government Department dealing with economic affairs that ever I have seen or heard of. It begins by quoting the statement of the Minister for Defence, and saying that the proposed schemes that he had mentioned would not be conducted in the manner that would raise or keep prices of wages above the nominal level at which they should fairly stand at the present time. Who is to judge what that level should be, deponent saith not. Then we have this Department, on that as a text, telling the County Councils that there was no chance of their getting any assistance for remaking or for the reconstruction of the roads on the scheme which is to employ demobilised men, and others not normally working at the roads, and that they must, and this is made a condition, cut the wages of the ordinary road workers. They have the audacity to say that the inferior condition into which the main roads of the country have fallen is admittedly due to the totally inadequate return obtained in recent years from the money expended on their upkeep. It may be that road men have been paid wages and have done no work. That may be alleged, but we have heard in this Dáil that the roads have been destroyed by abnormal conditions, and we know that men have been prevented by the action of the party and of the people for whom the Government now speak, from repairing these roads; that men have been held up for months and months and that work on the roads has been stopped for two or three years past.

Then the Local Government Department has the audactiy to write to the County Councils and tell them that the state of the roads is admittedly due to the inadequate return for the money expended. They are informed that the existing rates of wages must be reduced and the present privileged character of road labour reviewed. There is no discrimination. That circular is sent to every County Council, every Urban Council and every County Borough. The County which pays 28/- receives it just as well as the County that pays 45/-. The desire to "level," which the President expressed, is voided. All they require is to reduce. "No matter what you are getting now, reduce it," thus maintaining the difference between the higher and the lower rates. It is contended that the wages for the ordinary road workers must be cut, so that the work of reconstruction of roads may be done at a lower cost and so that demobilised men, for whom Deputy O'Mahony so eloquently spoke, should be employed at "cut" wages. Deputy O'Mahony asks for fair consideration. He suggests that honour should be given to demobilised soldiers. I suggest that it is no honour to ask them to cut into the rates of wages paid to their brethren who did not go into the army but who assisted them in many other ways. I say that it is a scandalous suggestion, unworthy of a Government that pretends to be friendly to the workers and to honour the soldiers that are being demobilised.

The proposition that wages in the building trades must be reduced is made seriously and in the hope that a response will be given. If it is simply cutting wages, then there will be no response from me at any rate. I believe—and I repeat what I said previously on this matter—that it should be a small thing for any body of men, capable of organising their own business, to take even ten thousand of the thirty thousand odd men throughout the country who are engaged in the various operations of construction, unify them in a body, associated with directors of that industry, and propound a scheme that will ensure employment. There is no use going to workmen in the building trade and-saying "Cut wages" unless you can at the same time say "Here is permanence of employment for a period of say five years." You need not take the weekly wages in the building trade. If you want to understand something of the effect of wages increases or wages reductions upon the lives of the workers in those trades, you have got to look at their annual income, taking into account broken time and all the rest. I say it should be possible if there was good-will—I certainly believe it is possible from the workmen's side—to enter into an understanding on the basis of continuous employment. Then you could appeal with some hope and heart to the men to increase their output, to give a better return and to cease the slackness that inevitably comes to men when they are expecting to be paid off a job. Approach the men in the building trade with a promise of permanence of employment, not under one employer necessarily but by a proper association of all the factors entering into the production of houses and I have not the slightest doubt that you will get the response you wish for and that the workers' houses will be built more quickly, more cheaply, and perhaps, with suggestions for better design. The men would enter into the spirit of the operation, but it depends upon this assurance of employment. It is astonishing to me that the employers of this country have not attempted to consider this problem from any point of view except that of the cutting of wages.

They complain of slackness, of lack of interest, and of failure to respond to the needs of the community, and they make no effort to reorganise their own industry, to improve their own methods, or to approach the problem from the point of view of the workman's life, which is bound up with his industry. I say until you do that you are not going to get any satisfaction out of the proposals that have been put forward.

The President has suggested certain cuts in wages. I wish he would be a little more precise and tell us whether he means these cuts should be on the Dublin rates, the Cork rates, the Limerick rates, or the Wexford rates. Is it again to be the proposition that there should be a percentage rate, no matter what wages are being paid to-day? These are some of the questions that immediately arise when you are dealing with a national problem, and not with a local problem. The President has made suggestions that, conditional upon a certain hoped-for agreement which entails the cutting of wages, moneys will be forthcoming to assist in the building of houses. So far as that goes one must be thankful, but it does not go very far. These suggestions have been hinted at before, but we have had no definite proposals put forward, and we are still expected, I presume, to meet employers without any further suggestion than that of cutting wages. I do not know whether it would be complained that the hands of the Government have been forced and that they did not desire to state their policy on this matter until it had been ripened somewhat, but I would like, before it had been made, that they had been a little nearer some understanding, because it seems to me that both the circular of the Minister for Local Government and the statement of the President rather partake of the nature of a threat. It suggests to unemployed men: "We know you are unemployed, we know you have no insurance to fall back upon, we know you are hungry, and we are going to take advantage of your necessity to bring down, not only your own rate of wages, but the rates of wages of your more fortunate fellow-workmen." I am afraid it will be received as having been uttered in the nature of a threat. The whip of hunger is being used deliberately and openly by the Government of the day to drive down the rates of wages.

But one has to bear in mind that while road-work is probably, and, I think, certainly the most valuable work that could be done as emergency work, to employ the largest number of unskilled men, there will be large numbers of skilled men in other trades that are not going to be benefited by either of these schemes. I am led to make a remark regarding the bottle-making industry, which both Deputy Byrne and the President referred to. It may be news, but it is a fact, that the company in Ringsend that make bottles by machinery is quite able to compete with imported English bottles. It cannot compete with bottles imported from Germany, and it has applied for, but has not received, the assistance which would have enabled it to carry on business for the last three or four months. It has not received protection against dumping, though it has applied and has made definite proposals in that respect. The end of it has been that this firm of manufacturers, with £100,000 worth of machinery, has had to go into the merchanting business itself by purchasing German bottles and selling them in Ireland to its customers. I do not know how far that is typical of many other industries, but certainly, if the information I have received from the people affected is true—I have the utmost confidence in their statement—it certainly has meant the disemployment of 300 men in the Ringsend district.

I cannot help saying that the Government has not approached this problem as it would have done had there been a military necessity where the resources of the State would have been mobilised for the defence of the State. I say that the civil interest is of equal moment, and I am going to say now that I believe the cant that is talked from all sides about the dole is entirely unjustified. Uncovenanted benefit may not be pleasant. I never hear from employers, merchants, and farmers that overdrafts from banks or public loans are demoralising, and uncovenanted benefit is nothing more than an overdraft from the State to keep men and their families from hunger. I stand for the dole, but I put this condition, and always have put it, that you have a right either to maintain your citizens or offer them reasonable employment. If you cannot offer them that employment you have a right to maintain them, and I guarantee if you make that condition you will find means very much quicker for utilising the unemployed labour of the country. The dole which is so much derided has, of course, had unfortunate consequences because the right condition of alternative employment has not been given. The Dole saved England from premature revolution and, maybe, if something satisfactory is not done here, the absence of the Dole will cause revolution. Unemployment insurance was changed on the distinct understanding, certainly on the distinct hope and expectation, that the normal amount of employment would be available in this country by October and that the normal unemployment fund would meet the ordinary cases of want. That hope has not been fulfilled. I trust that any efforts which the Government are making will remove the necessity for the revival of the uncovenanted benefit. I do not see very much chance of the promises that have been made being fulfilled even if ten or fifteen thousand men are employed on those various schemes. I do not see what is to become of the other 30,000 without something in the nature of uncovenanted benefit. There is no suggestion of a provision to ensure that the volume of actual trade, that is to be done on productive operations, is going to be increased by the employment of road labourers and house builders. I think the proposals of the Government, extensive as they may seem, are not going to be sufficient to remove the distress caused by unemployment. I think that the line the Government is taking, making it a condition of any of these proposals that there should be wage cuts without any guarantee of more employment, is a false line to take, and it will lead to disaster. I see very little hope in it, and I hope that there will be much more consideration of the problem before the Government says that this is its final word on the matter.

I must say that I neither saw nor heard of that letter from the Ringsend Bottle Company to which Deputy Johnson alluded.

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 13; Níl, 44.

  • David Hall.
  • Tomás Mac Eoin.
  • Risteárd Mac Fheorais.
  • Pádraig Mac Fhlannchadha.
  • Tomás de Nógla.
  • Tomás O Conaill.
  • Aodh O Cúlacháin.
  • Eamon O Dubhghaill.
  • Domhnall O Muirgheasa.
  • Tadhg O Murchadha.
  • Séamus Eabhróid.
  • Ailfrid O Broin.
  • Séamus O Murchadha.

Níl

  • Séamus Breathnach.
  • Seoirse de Bhulbh.
  • Próinsias Bulfin.
  • Louis J. D'Alton.
  • Patrick J. Egan.
  • Henry J. Finlay.
  • Desmond Fitzgerald.
  • John Hennigan.
  • Domhnall Mac Cárthaigh.
  • Liam T. Mac Cosgair.
  • Pádraig Mac Giollagáin.
  • Seán P. Mac Giobúin.
  • Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
  • Liam Mag Aonghusa.
  • Martin M. Nally.
  • John T. Nolan.
  • Peadar O hAodha.
  • Criostóir O Broin.
  • Seán O Bruadair.
  • Próinsias O Cathail.
  • Aodh O Cinnéide.
  • Séamus N. O Doláin.
  • Earnan de Blaghd.
  • Mícheál O Dubhghaill.
  • Peadar S. O Dubhghaill.
  • Pádraig O Dubhthaigh.
  • Aindriú O Láimhín.
  • Séamus O Leadáin.
  • Andrew O'Shaughnessy.
  • Seán Príomhdhail.
  • Liam Thrift.
  • Séamus de Búrca.
  • John Good.
  • Seán Mac Giolla 'n Ríogh.
  • Eoghan O Dochartaigh.
  • Eamon S. O Dugáin.
  • Seán O Duinnín.
  • Mícheál O hIfearnáin.
  • Fionán O Loingsigh.
  • Thomas O'Mahony.
  • Pádraic O Máille.
  • Risteárd O Maolchatha.
  • Pádraig O hOgáin (Gaillimh).
  • Caoimhghín O hUigín.
Motion declared lost.