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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 9 Dec 1924

Vol. 9 No. 23


On Friday, when the Standing Orders interrupted me, I was endeavouring to persuade the Dáil that they would not be justified, in view of the past protestations and professions of the majority of Deputies, in passing this Bill. In the main Railway Bill which was passed some months ago, on the proposition of the Minister the Dáil decided that the Directorate of the Amalgamated Company should be elected by shareholders, and that the qualification of a director should be the holding, in his own right, of such amount of share capital as might be specified. The Bill proposes to alter that provision with respect to the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, and to confer upon them the right to appoint a director to the Irish railways without holding any shares in the company, and without any other qualifications except the continuance of an agreement, which is not laid before us, making certain concessions, allowances and advantages to the new company. It has been estimated by the Minister that these concessions may be worth £20,000, and from £15,000 to £20,000 in the estimate of the G.S.W.R. In virtue of that estimate we are asked to confer a right upon the L.M.S. Co.

It must be borne in mind by representatives of the various Parties in the Dáil that this concession to the L.M.S. to appoint a director without qualifying does not apply to any other company, association or body of men of any kind whatever. It does not confer the right, let us say, upon the Great Northern Railway of Ireland. It does not confer any right upon, say, the Cattle Traders' Association, by virtue of the traffic that they provide for the Irish railways, to have a director. They may increase their traffic by any sum, but traffic will not give a right to a directorship. Other shipping companies that provide traffic for the Irish railways will not have any right. No public authority—not even the State itself—is provided with any right to have representation on the directorate of the new Irish railway company, notwithstanding that we are proposing to give a right of that kind to the L.M.S. Co. by virtue of certain concessions. Those concessions the Minister described as being so valuable as to make it good business on the part of the Government to confer this right upon the English company. I think a report in yesterday's papers of a speech made by an eminent official of this State shows how easy it is for any concession which is alleged to be contained in this agreement to be counterbalanced by a very slight charge upon any kind of traffic which may travel over the English railways from the Irish railways.

One wonders what is the purpose of selecting a director for the Irish railways. Is it to serve and benefit Irish railways? More particularly—and this is very much more important—is it going to serve and benefit the Irish public, the Irish national well-being? I can conceive and, possibly, go so far as to say that I can admit, that as a purely railway affair between two railway companies a proposition of this kind might be defensible; quite possibly, even, may be advantageous, if one is thinking purely in terms of commerce and business arrangements between private companies. I want to ask the Dáil to bear in mind that the railway service here is a public service, and to think of it as a public service entrusted to a private company by statute to administer, bearing in mind all the time that it is intended to benefit and develop industry and commerce and national growth everywhere. If we bear that in mind we can see that when we introduce as part of the management of an Irish public service a person whose main interest it is to look after the interests of a non-Irish public service, where the interests may likely clash, and have clashed, and do clash, then I say we are doing an unpatriotic thing in passing this Bill to confer that right.

It is said, of course, that because the L.M.S. Company controls all the ports except one on the west coast of England, therefore that railway company can help or retard as it wishes Irish economic development, and that we have to try and buy favours of that company by allowing them to nominate a director on this Irish public service. I am afraid one has to suggest, and almost, shall I say, one is forced to believe, that the object of the company in its rather protracted antagonism to the wishes of the Government and of the Irish railways in respect to this railway scheme as a whole shows that they were very anxious by any means to force themselves upon the Irish railway service. They stood out at the beginning against the proposed unification of the Irish railways. They suggested various counter proposals. They have used influences of various kinds to impede the programme that the Government set out before us here.

Now they find that they have succeeded in obtaining their ends by slightly different means from those which they first announced, and we are now asked to accept this as a matter of good business for the Irish railways on the one hand, and, on another hand, to throw up our hats with joy because of the opportunity this proposal gives for co-operation between the Irish and the British railways. It seems to me that we are asked practically to go on our knees to the L.M.S. Company and to admit that, notwithstanding any measure of political autonomy which may have been won, at any rate so far as Ireland is concerned in its traffic with England, they are the predominant partner. We are not asked, for instance, to say that collaboration between the Irish railways and the Great Western Railway of England requires that that railway should have a nominee on the Irish directorate. One would imagine from some of the arguments adduced that there is no need to collaborate, to act co-operatively, to think of reciprocity of any kind, between the Great Western Railway and the Irish railways, but only with the L.M.S. Company, because, of course, they control the western seaboard of England.

I suggest that the closest analogy that can be drawn would be a suggestion that there should be a British representative on, say, an Irish Board of Customs to ensure that there shall be some kind of co-operation between the two services. The Irish railways can, if they will, assist the development of Irish industries, assist economic development in Ireland, in a way which railway companies in the past have declined. If there was a desire within any section of the directorate of Irish railways to move in the direction of developing Irish industries, by preference on the internal traffic for instance, here at least is one director who is going to try his best to thwart that—the director that we are asked to appoint —because that is the effect of the Bill. If we take the analogy and said we shall appoint upon a Board of Customs in Ireland a nominee of the British Treasury, we can make our proposals, make our suggestions, to assist and develop Irish industry, but, at any rate, this nominee of the British Board would, first, be kept in touch with the proposals, and, secondly, would do his best to thwart, if by any chance—as in all probability they would—they ran across British interests. In this case, if Irish railway policy runs in any way across British railway policy, we are conferring a power upon the British railway company to use considerable influence to thwart Irish railway policy in favour of British railway policy.

We have read a good deal lately about the British financial adviser and legal adviser to the Egyptian Government. The Egyptian Government is autonomous—independent within limits. These limits are set by the appointment of financial and legal advisers. This is not far off a similar position. We are asked to appoint on the directorate of the Irish railways a British adviser, nay, more than an adviser, a director, one of the Cabinet of the Government of the Irish railways. I would like, had there been still in the Dáil a number of those Deputies who had been insisting upon the utilisation of the powers given by the Treaty to develop Irish industry and help Irish development, in order to support my opposition to this Bill. I hope that Deputy Casabianca, who still remains on deck, will at least voice the views of that group or party. There is, I believe, a very important consideration that I wish to put before Deputies in this matter.

I have said that it is not really a railway matter. It is a question affecting the general national position economically. Through economics, it affects the political development of the country. We have seen a good deal, during the past couple of weeks, of the apparent resurgence of what was aptly called, up to recently, the "West-British policy"—a sort of pro-Imperial policy. The attitude that I would adopt to this Bill has been quoted as being antagonistic to the rise and development of a sane view in regard to the relations between England and Ireland, that "sane view" being one which would maintain the economic relationships and the business associations as they have always been in the past, while recognising that political changes have taken place. I speak as one who has always remembered that all political developments can be thwarted, provided they are not used to impede economic forces. If we are going to take the view that political change is satisfactory in itself and that we ought not to use it to alter the relationship between commercial companies— that the ordinary processes of trade and commerce which have prevailed for seventy or eighty years, and that railway policy in the country which has helped those ordinary processes of trade and commerce—should continue, then, I say, that within a very few years it will be proved to the country, as a whole, that no real change has been accomplished.

I think that any person who has examined fairly the railway policy of this country since the beginning of railways here will admit that the purpose of the railways has been to encourage the export of raw material, largely in the form of live stock, and to import manufactured articles and distribute them through the country. Railway policy, directed to that end, has undoubtedly played a great part in the economic development in the wrong way that we have experienced. I had hoped that even with the form of railway control which the Dáil has agreed to we might have an opportunity of forcing the development of a railway policy which would help to protect and nurture Irish industry, even if this was done at the cost of imported traffic in manufactured goods; even if it meant some cessation in the export of raw material and cattle. Apparently, that view does not prevail with the Ministry. Apparently the Ministry continues to think of railway interests as purely an industrial and commercial affair, having no particular relation to national economics, and to be treated purely as a matter of business.

It is hardly necessary for me to say that that is not correct.

The Minister may say that but I would like him to prove it by acts. I have no doubt he will try to justify the statement he makes now with his action in promoting this Bill, but I think the action is a contradiction of the profession. If we desire that railway policy shall assist in the development of internal industry—production and distribution—even if it means a decline in the returns of the railway companies of revenue from cattle traffic or in the returns of revenue for distribution of manufactured imports—we ought not to pass this Bill, conferring a right on a British company to put a director on the Irish Companies Board to thwart what would be Irish national railway policy. I think the passing of this Bill would be an indication that the views expressed by the Irish Times are going to prevail with the Government, that we are going to turn our backs upon the line of development which most of us have looked for, with the coming of Saorstát Eireann. If we really did entertain any hopes of that kind, then we ought not to give a Second Reading to this Bill.

The proposal before us has two aspects—the business aspect and the national aspect. On the business side, the Minister said, on the First Reading, that the question Deputies have to decide is whether they were going to allow the new Amalgamated Company to be deprived of the sum of £20,000, previously guaranteed to the Dublin and South Eastern railway company. From the details of the position that we have had put us in the discussion by the Minister and others, I do not think it is unfair to say that from the business side the proposition is reduced to this—are we going to keep this £20,000, in consideration of appointing a director on the Board of the Amalgamated Company, or are we going to lose it? I do not think it is unfair to suggest that, on the details before us, that is what the question resolves itself into. If that is the case, it seems to me that, even from the business point of view, the present proposal is a questionable one. The Railway Bill was projected with a view to the more efficient and the more economical working of our railways. If that is so, and if the position is that left to our own resources, we are going to be £20,000 down this year, surely it is better as a start-off that we should probe the question from the purely Irish point of view and see whether that is the fact or not.

From the business point of view, the question puts itself to us: in tackling our Irish railways, with a view to making a success of them, is not the realisation that there is the possibility of being £20,000 down if we do not direct them in the most efficient way, a more vitalising factor than the getting of this £20,000 subsidy from outside the State. From the purely business point of view alone, it seems to me that we cannot very well support the proposition as it stands at present. There is then the national point of view. Deputy Johnson says that this proposal will affect the position economically and, through the economic position, that it will affect the political position. It seems to me that it affects a much more deep thing—that it affects the whole outlook of our State and the status of our State here. At the present moment, the idea of an Irish State is attacked from two sides. It is attacked from the Irregular side; they deny that the Irish people have the powers in their own State that they actually have. It seems that there is another section that while not denying the powers of the Irish people over the Irish State, practically deny their right here in their own State, and practically seek to deny the status of our State. Those are the people to whom reference has been made as having the Irish Times outlook. An attack is being made from that particular side on our State which is, perhaps, more insidious than the attack that is being made from the Irregular side.

When we are considering the railways of our State here, we are very much concerned with the fact that the people of the country will recognise the existence of this State, and the frontier that you are going definitely to recognise as your frontier in commercial matters and in financial matters. It seems to me that while we are in such a condition that these matters are not fully accepted by our people and that every point of vantage for attack on our position here as a State is being taken, we are doing a very serious thing, if, in the matter of our railways, we take action which can so affect the minds of our people as to suggest that there is not a clearly defined frontier to our State here. The insidious attack on the State is there. There is a group in our country who have the phraseology of the last century when they speak of our being an "independent Dominion within the British Empire," but who have a rather up-to-date outlook in physical matters. You have a group here who, while not prepared to set themselves up definitely as a political entity, for fear of showing their weakness, from that point of view, or showing that they are very small fry, want to keep a sort of wireless control over the activities of the people in the country who have political energy.

In our railway matters you have the same suggestion, that you must have some kind of control over Irish railways from Britain; in the organisation and control of our medical profession here you must also have wireless control by the Medical Association in London. These are new schemes of wireless control in all our organised matters here, whether political, commercial or professional. Now, we are being invited to come in to the open and say where we are. I think the Dáil must show very plainly that we recognise ourselves as an Irish nation, and that we are going to organise our professional, commercial and educational groups inside our own country first, bring all these matters to a focus inside our own country, and show that we are clearly an independent State, and that in consultation with other members of the Commonwealth of Nations, just as in the League of Nations, we are co-equals, and that we are not going to have any obscuring of where our national frontiers are.

So it seems to me very dangerous for us at present to take any action regarding a big national concern that would show that we do not clearly realise that we are a clearly defined State and that we are not going to organise that State into an intensely organised one, so that we may very readily and safely enter into any interchanges of a helpful nature which we may have to enter into with other States. If we were a State fully accepted by our own people in every way—and it is not challenged that we are not—and fully accepted by people outside, and not challenged as we are here, there would be no very serious reason for having such connections with any group of railways working into our own system of railways as is proposed here. I feel that we could not, and should not, consider the proposal that is put up now for, say, the next three years until the Amalgamated Company has been properly set up, and our Irish directors have considered their Irish problem and looked into the whole question of the railways here, and until we know that, from one quarter or another, the actual existence of our State is not challenged by any group of any kind.

I propose to give a vote for the Second Reading of this Bill, and, in view of all the circumstances, I feel compelled to place my views on record for doing so. At the outset, I may say that it is very refreshing, indeed, to find a Deputy like General Mulcahy, who must have a very important share in the responsibility for railway policy of the present Government, coming along at this stage and admitting, as by inference he does, that he has already made a mistake. This and the Third Dáil were first of all responsible for setting up an Irish Railway Commission to inquire into and report as to how the Irish railways could be put under a better system of management and control than that in which they were when the Commission was set up. Deputy General Mulcahy was responsible, by reason of his position in the Executive Council, for setting up that Commission and, what is more important, for turning down its recommendations. General Mulcahy was then subsequently responsible for turning down the Bill promoted by the Irish Labour Party and introduced by Deputy Johnson, and which would place the control of the Irish railways under the State and free them from any external and anti-Irish influences. Further, when the Committee Stage of the Railways Bill was going through in last May, an amendment claiming this right —I admit on different grounds—was brought forward by Deputy Alfred Byrne, and at the concluding stage of the discussion, as indicated by reference to the Official Report, Alderman Byrne withdrew the amendment in deference to a promise made by the President to give the matter more careful consideration. I cannot find on the records that General Mulcahy took exception to the discussion that took place then on that matter.

Make your own case.

That is the case I am trying to make, and to place upon General Mulcahy a responsibility which he would, perhaps, like to disclaim at this moment. This Bill is unique in so far as it proposes to amend an Act before that Act comes into operation. That is another indication of the hasty manner in which legislation is being rushed through this House without giving the serious matters concerned adequate consideration.

Where is this amendment?

This is an amending Bill to increase the number of directors in control of the future Irish National Railway, or whatever name it is to be given, and it merely proposes to give legislative sanction to an agreement already entered into by two contracting parties, namely, the Irish National —I query that word "National"— Railway Company on the one hand, and the London, Midland and Scottish Company on the other. A Bill of this kind must either be accepted or rejected, because an agreement, being an agreement, cannot be amended, and, therefore, it must be voted upon without any amendment. Previous to the establishment and setting up of the Free State Government the operations of the Irish railway undertakings were largely controlled by a tribunal which was purely British in its character and which had its headquarters in London. As a result of the passing of this Railways Act and of the amalgamation of the various railway companies, or at least those which come within our jurisdiction, a tribunal was set up which nobody can dispute is Irish in its character, and, so far as the future control of Irish railways is concerned in regard to this Bill, the new Great Southern Company will be subject to the Irish Railway tribunal instead of being, as the Irish railways were, subject to the British tribunal.

That argument must be taken into consideration by anybody who speaks of anti-Irish influences. Whether those influences be external or internal in the future, so far as they affect and concern the working of the Great Southern Company, that company will always be subject to the scrutiny of the Irish tribunal so far as the Railways Act is concerned, and that cannot be denied by any Deputy unless he admits his ignorance of the terms of that Act. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, when introducing this Bill, referred to a sum of £20,000 being the value of a concession supposed to have been received from the L.M.S. Co. in consideration of a directorship for that company. So far as I can learn from making inquiries, that sum is only fixed at a valuation of the concession for a fixed period, and with the increase or decrease of traffic passing between the points that have hitherto been affected that amount will either increase or decrease. The Minister's reference to the fixed figure of £20,000 does not actually represent the facts of the case. Another point is this: the agreement is not between two companies only, and it only operates, according to the wording of the agreement, until the 30th November, 1940, or, if, as we all hope, at a very much earlier date the Irish Government will take over the management and control of the Irish railways for the State.

I believe they will be forced to do it in the near future, and immediately on the acquisition or control of the Irish or British railways by the Governments of either countries, this agreement will automatically terminate before the 30th November, 1940. I think it is agreed that if the railways are nationalised in any country all Acts concerning agreements between private companies, such as the railway companies are at present, cease to exist on the acquisition of the railways by the State in any country. The Minister explained the effect of the agreement so far as it concerns the existing shareholders of the Dublin and South Eastern Company and how it would affect the shareholders on the transfer of the existing stocks to the new company. If the money is not to be found either in the form of a Government subsidy or given by somebody to the Dublin and South Eastern Co. and transferred to the amalgamated company, nobody will dispute the fact that it will have to be found by the Great Southern Company, which is, just the same as any other company, not a charitable institution. If they find that they are £20,000 short of their working expenses or revenue, in a particular year, as a result of the operations of this Bill, this money will be found out of the pockets of the people who use the railways either as senders of goods or as passengers. There is no use in anybody pretending that in any railway company carrying on as a private trading concern their work either in England, Ireland or anywhere else, it is not the first concern of the management to make certain dividends for the shareholders.

Pay the directors first.

Yes, Deputy Gorey is right; pay the directors all the time, and that is probably the first charge on the revenue. The claim which was originally put up in this House, in a different form from that which is being put up to-day, was not supported by me on that particular occasion for the reasons that were then given. Deputy Alfred Byrne moved an amendment to the Railways Bill in Committee claiming that the London, Midland and Scottish Company should get a director on the Great Southern Company by reason of the loan given by them to the Dublin and South Eastern Company for the development of the New Ross and Waterford extension.

They gave that loan, and they are protected in the Act of 1905 so far as their rights are concerned, on the assumption that it would bring a return of 3½ per cent., provided that the New Ross and Waterford extension get the revenue which would enable it to pay on that particular section of the line interest at the rate I have named. It may be information to learn that no interest was ever paid on that particular loan of £100,000. In reality, what happened was that hundreds of Irish shareholders and hundreds of thousands of pounds of Irish money are invested in the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. They agreed to reinvest £100,000 for the development of the New Ross extension without any interest. That was not explained by Deputy Alfred Byrne, but I think it is worthy of the attention of the Deputies. I believe, and I have expressed the view before on many occasions, that so far as we are concerned as a State everything depends upon producing inside our own limits of jurisdiction as much as we can produce, so as to reduce as far as we possibly can the amount of manufactured articles imported. I supported that by my vote on the protection policy proposed by the Government, and I still believe in it and will support it until the profiteering element in the country will make it impossible to do so any further. I mention that as a counter argument against some of the arguments used in the opening stages of this discussion. In taking this view I have certain industries in mind, one of which is on the verge of death in my own constituency, and which affects 200 or 300 workers. If Irish people are not prepared to put their thousands and hundreds of thousands of pounds into the development of Irish industry, I do not care whether a Chinaman or a Jew comes along, I will take that money so long as it is used for the development of this country's resources.

From a Chinese Jewman.

Yes, unlike some people who are trying to build a Chinese wall around this country, as if we were living in a golden island.

There seems to be a Chinese wall built around this Bill.

A statement was made, and I think Deputy Johnson was justified in referring to it, by a public man in a high position in this country. Deputy Johnson referred to it as an argument in favour of his opposition to the Bill. I wonder if it was proved to Deputy Johnson that that statement, though made by a distinguished individual, was wrong would he change his opposition into support of the Bill? The statement was: "It was a fact that the London, Midland and Scottish Company controlled every port on the west coast of England except one, due to the fact that the British railways were compelled to combine. That was followed by an increase of rates against Irish agricultural products," but the individual concerned was "not without hopes, however, that a remedy would be applied to reduce these advances." I can only attribute that statement to the fact that it was made at a luncheon on board the high seas, and probably the tide was so high that it interfered with the equilibrium of the people who were enjoying themselves at the expense of a well-known British and Irish company. However, the fact is, and I think the Minister knows it full well, that as a result of the grouping of the British railways there was an immediate decrease in the railway rates in England from 100 per cent. to 50 per cent over pre-war, whereas in the Irish National Railways, as they are to be called, the rates are at present 100 per cent. over pre-war.

They have been reduced from 120 to 100 per cent. against the express wishes and opposition of those on the National Board who are to control the future of the railways of this country. I defy contradiction on that statement. That inaccurate statement was made by an individual who at one time was a director in one of the constituent companies that is going to make up the amalgamated company. With regard to the Board of Directors, I think from 18 years' experience in dealing with Irish and English boards of directors I ought to be competent to say something in regard to the patriotism of both the Irish and English directors. Everybody who has opposed the Bill up to the present has assumed that the people who are now, or are to be in the future, for how long I do not know, in control of the Irish Railway Board of Management have always been of the super-patriotic type. I can tell them quite plainly from my experience, and can prove it by statements I will make on the matter, that that is not the case. If anybody in the Dáil says it is, it will be a keen disappointment to the railwaymen in this country who know what they have been in the past.

It may appear strange also to say that I support the Bill from a railway-worker's and trade union point of view. It is correct to say that the conditions of service of the employees of the London, Midland and Scottish in Ireland, England and Scotland are the best enjoyed by any railway workers, whether in Ireland or England at present. So far as the claims for better conditions of service by Irish railwaymen are concerned, they have always been based on the conditions in operation on the British railways, particularly on the London, Midland and Scottish, and I say that as a representative of Irish railwaymen, and a representative of the employees on the railway where I work, and have worked, for twenty years. Everything in regard to salary, superannuation, etc., is looked upon as something which would enable the representatives of the Irish railwaymen to work for in their anxiety to improve the existing conditions of Irish railwaymen. Recently £1,000,000 was lent at the rate of 4 per cent. by this particular company to their staffs in different parts of the country in Ireland and England to enable the staffs to build houses. In that matter this company have gone further than the Government in providing suitable housing accommodation for citizens of the Free State.

Another consideration which influences me in this matter is that whenever agreements are made between railway companies and their staffs, I have always found, and I regret to have to say it, that the agreements have been always carried out in the letter as well as the spirit by the English companies, whereas in the case of the Irish companies they have constantly quibbled, and in many cases repudiated the agreements they have made with the trade unions. As well as that, the conditions of service of the employees of the London, Midland and Scottish, the London and North Eastern, the Great Western, and other English groups of to-day practically admit of control in the management of the concern by the workers, with representatives of the shareholders on the Board. Another thing which is quite uncommon to us here is the fact that the employees can go from the bottom to the top, and reach the highest positions in these particular companies.

I want to bring one case home to the minds of people opposing this Bill with reference to the aspect of the case which assumes that everything is pro-British and anti-Irish as regards this English company. All I wish to say is that in the strikes of 1911 and 1913 in Dublin I worked at the time at the North Wall, and I had practically most of the responsibility for the conscription strike, the munition workers' strike, and the strike in connection with the Mountjoy hunger strike in regard to things going on in pre-Truce days. My experience as an authorised delegate of the railwaymen was that any railwayman who was arrested in 1916, or who took an active part in the fighting which led to the Treaty, and got arrested, on release from jail was immediately taken back by the London, Midland and Scottish without any opposition so far as the management was concerned, but when they went to Kingsbridge or Amiens Street, which are to be controlled by super-patriot people in the future, they found their positions were filled, and were not allowed to return. If General Mulcahy were here he could bear that out, for I know many representations were made to the Government up to two or three months ago, and even to the present Minister to reinstate the men victimised or left out as a result of their activities in pre-Truce days. That is an instance if people want to have that information, of the attitude of one company as against another. It proves conclusively that all the patriotism is not on the side of the Irish National Railway Company. I am voting for the Second Reading of this Bill, and I propose to assist the Minister in getting it through the remaining stages for the reasons given, and particularly for reasons given from a railway worker's and a railway trade union standpoint. I believe if there is on the board of management of the new Irish Railway Company an individual who will stand for proper treatment to the Irish railway worker in the same way as they have treated their own employees on the other side of the Channel, that the Bill will be welcomed by Irish railwaymen on the whole for that reason.

I would like the Minister to take a note of this, that the Government and the Dublin and South Eastern Board are mainly responsible for the holding up of the amalgamation scheme. I believe it was only yesterday an agreement was arrived at in regard to the terms upon which the amalgamation was to take place. That has resulted in the new directors electing themselves so far as three or four of the constituent companies are concerned. The further result has been that in the new appointments made, thirteen of the principal officers of the new company, no Dublin and South Eastern man has been included. I put it to the Minister that he is responsible as well as the Dublin and South Eastern Company for the hold up which has taken place, and which as a result is likely to prejudice the position of the Dublin and Southern staff in the new railway combine.

It is scarcely fair to make that statement without attempting to prove it.

It is true, and let the responsibility rest upon the shoulders of the people responsible. I say that the Government is responsible as well as the Dublin and South Eastern Board.

That is the same statement without any proof.

The Minister was talking to his chief Whip when I was speaking on some of these matters.

You said I was responsible to a certain extent for holding up the progress of the arrangements under the Bill. No proof was given of it. You can leave it as a statement.

The proof is that the tribunal set up under the Railways Act is under your Ministry, and the tribunal is concurring in the delay, and to that extent you are responsible.

At any rate I will not repeat the statement, but it is a fact that the Dublin and South Eastern Railway staff have been, as it were, left out in the cold. I think it is due to the Minister, and it is only fair, that there should be invited from him an assurance that, in asking for support on this particular Bill, he will make representations, in his own diplomatic way, both to the members of the board, who are to be appointed by the Dublin and South Eastern Railway Company and the new director of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company, that things in that respect should be put right. He may not dispute the fact, at any rate, that the staff of the Dublin and South Eastern Railway Company have been prejudiced because not one of their officers, high or low, has received any share in the appointments that have been made by the new board which was only partially set up at the time.

One may assume that in this discussion a certain amount of prejudice has been shown as against the English and on behalf of the Irish company; but from my own personal view of the matter, the coming into operation of this Bill, which enables a directorship to be given to the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company, will mean that not alone has it been a good proposition from a purely business point of view, but it will also be a good proposition from the taxpayers' point of view, and will be the same ultimately from the point of view of the shareholders as well as the workers of the Amalgamated Company. For those reasons I intend to support the Second Reading.

Listening to the speeches that have been delivered on this Bill since it was introduced, one is compelled to say that their effect has been to fill one rather with despair as to the commercial future of the Free State. I read in the Press some weeks ago a rather interesting letter from an American who is not unknown in this country —I think it was Judge Coholan. Writing on the subject of the importance of tourist traffic in Ireland, he stated that, in his opinion, it contained a gold mine for the Free State, and he went on to point out that it should be one of our first objects in this new State to recognise the importance of encouraging tourist traffic and to do all we could to develop that traffic. Those were wise words, and that was useful information of a practical kind, coming from a man who was interested in the development and the progress of the Free State.

I wonder what would be the views of that man if he had listened, as some of the Deputies here have had to listen, to the speeches that have been delivered from the Labour benches on this particular subject? I am sure he would have returned not too full of optimism as to the future of the Free State; I am afraid he would be rather pessimistic as to its future progress. Those who have had any experience in connection with tourist traffic tell us that monies left by tourists—and some of them leave considerable sums when visiting the country—percolate through to many of the poorer inhabitants of the cabins that are to be found on the south coast and in the western parts of this isle of ours. The industry at which those poor people worked in the past has been almost entirely supported by the tourists who visit our island. They, as well as a great many others in this country, have missed the tourists. I do not think the importance of that industry needs stressing—at least it should not—in the Dáil.

This Bill, in my opinion, can do more, and ought to do more, to develop that industry than any other step we could take, because with the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company depends the success or otherwise of that traffic. They can either make or mar the tourist traffic in Ireland. They have the railways and the steamers and they can make arrangements which will encourage tourists to visit this country. And when a Bill comes forward that will do more than any other step this Dáil could take to encourage that traffic, one cannot but deplore the speeches that have been made against it. Deputies have spoken of the business aspect of the proposition. As one who has some authority to speak on the subject, I took the liberty, when the Railways Bill was going through originally, of supporting the principle of giving privileges to those railway companies in order to get some of the results that we hope to get from their co-operation. That, I think, did represent the view of thoughtful business' men.

They would go further and, in view of the importance of railway and shipping connections to the industry in the Free State, businessmen would almost be inclined to say that as a business proposition, without any other consideration, it would be a wise thing to give representation to those particular interests. Let us look at this matter from a business point of view in connection with the Free State. I have not heard any Deputies from the Farmers' Benches speaking on this Bill; doubtless we shall have some speeches that will let us know the views of that important industry on this particular question. One does not need to go into all the details to show that it is advisable in the national interest to establish and retain friendly connections with Great Britain. It is almost unnecessary to repeat that the great staple industry of this country—agriculture— is entirely dependent on its export trade.

Practically the whole of that export trade goes to Great Britain. Great Britain is the best customer of our staple industry. Will anybody suggest as a policy that it is not in his interests to keep in with his best customer? Or, put it another way: Would even the smallest shopkeeper suggest that it was not to his interest to keep on the most friendly relations with his best customer? Now, the best customer of our staple industry is Great Britain. Does anybody in the Dáil suggest any other policy in the interest of that industry than to keep on the best possible relationship with your best customer for any product of that industry?

At what price?

That point, I think, needs no stressing.

Does it pay the English customer to encourage the Irish traffic?

No matter from what point of view you look at it, whether it is from the tourist traffic on the one side or whether it is in the interest of the agricultural trade on the other side, one cannot come to any other conclusion but that in the national interest we ought to encourage the most friendly relations with Great Britain. This is only one necessary step in connection with that policy. What is the alternative to that policy? Doubtless some Deputies will say: "Cut the connection; the connection is not worth developing." What would the result of that policy be?

What policy?

Suppose you were to create what we might call unfriendly relations with your best customer, and he was to fall out with you and buy elsewhere——

Has there been any suggestion in the speeches delivered about what the Deputy is referring to?

Of unfriendly relations with our best customer? I do not think so. I do not know what point the Deputy is making about the Bill.

I argued in connection with this Bill and tried to establish that this was a linking up commercially with Great Britain and that it was an essential linking up from the commercial point of view.

Does the Deputy realise that we are linking up already with Fishguard, and we are not appointing a Great Western Railway director on the Irish directorate, and there are no unfriendly relations created thereby?

I am glad the Deputy has raised that point, because the case I made when the Railways Act was going through was, that the Great Western Railway of England had invested large sums in Irish railways in return for certain considerations which are recognised in the Bill. But when it came to the question of the London, Midland and Scottish, which had invested a large amount of money in a railway in Ireland, and had, as one of the conditions of investment, got representation on the Board, we held the money and refused to recognise the obligation. At the time, I argued that that was an unreasonable attitude, and I urged that this representation should be given for reasons that were obvious. Now there are additional and possibly stronger reasons than were then urged, and, as far as I am concerned, I am prepared to support the Bill.

I rise to support the Second Reading of the Bill. I cannot see why there should be any opposition to it. As Deputy Good has said, the Great Western Railway of England have certain safeguards provided for them in the Railways Act regarding unconsigned traffic. At present a lot of unconsigned traffic that should naturally go via the port of Dublin is being diverted via Waterford, Rosslare and Fishguard. Traffic from Athenry and other places in that part of Galway are being sent by that route. The principal reason I have for supporting the Bill is that I consider it is good business for this country. The London, Midland and Scottish Railway have always given great help to the development of the live stock industry here.

Hear, hear.

Deputy Johnson says "hear, hear." I have been connected with one of the principal industries in this country for the last 25 years and I know what I am talking about. I always found the London, Midland and Scottish Railway ready to assist the live stock trade. There has been too much sentiment in this country latterly. We can carry sentiment too far, and it has been carried too far. When the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, after the amalgamation, wanted a good manager for their system did they bother about sentiment? No. They put an Irishman at the head of affairs. I think it is very petty for people in the Dáil or outside to talk in this way about one director out of fifteen. He will be a watchdog there in regard to the Great Western Railway of England, and what we want is competition.

Where is the watch dog of the Great Western?

The Great Western have safeguards in the Railways Act with regard to unconsigned traffic. The London, Midland and Scottish are losing a lot of money which they had invested in the Dublin and South Eastern and they have no safeguards. Apart from that, I do not think that one director on a board of fifteen will make a lot of difference to the future of the railway system in this country. Furthermore, Deputies should look at the matter from this standpoint: owing to the passing of the Free State Act we are finished now when we leave the port of Dublin so far as the Rates Tribunal is concerned. If I want a through rate established from an inland station to some destination in Great Britain, and if I go before the Railway Tribunal, they have no power to grant that through rate unless the London, Midland and Scottish Company are an assenting party to it. Since 1913 through rates have been discontinued from many stations in Ireland to destinations in Great Britain. It is only recently that some of them have been resumed. One of the chief things that the live stock trade and people generally are complaining of is the excessive railway rates. As Deputy Davin pointed out in his able speech in defence of the Bill, we are paying 100 per cent. and, in some cases, 120 per cent. over pre-war rates. In England railway rates are down to 50 per cent. over pre-war. Previous to the war and to the discontinuance of these through rates, we had head rates and wagon rates from inland stations in Ireland to Great Britain. Now you have to book locally to the port of Dublin and rebook there across channel. I may point out for the information of Deputy Johnson, that the port of Dublin, so far as head rates for pigs are concerned, was always a couple of shillings more than Waterford. There are evil influences at work to divert as much traffic as possible from the port of Dublin, north and south.

I have tried to get as many opinions as I could about this Bill from those engaged in the live-stock trade, and the general consensus of opinion is that the Bill should be supported, and the London, Midland and Scottish Railway allowed to nominate a director. The directors will be a very foolish lot of men if they allow one man to boss the whole show. Majority rule will prevail on that board just the same as in any other assembly. I think it is very petty to have all this opposition and talk about a simple measure such as this is.

I do not need to add anything to what Deputies Johnson and Mulcahy have stated with regard to the national or political aspect of the Bill. They have stated the case against the Bill with great moderation and conciseness. There is also the business aspect of this Bill, the value of the bargain which we are asked to support. In the first place, the Dáil is asked to assist the carrying through of the Bill without having the exact text of that deal before them. We have to rely upon statements from the Minister, Deputy Davin, and others, as to the contents of the actual agreement which is mentioned in the Preamble. As far as I can make out from these generally vague statements, the Bill is not a very satisfactory one from our point of view. The London, Midland and Scottish Railway are obviously taking advantage of the financial difficulties of the Irish railway and of the Irish State at the present moment in order to drive a much harder bargain than they would be able to do in a few years time.

Which Irish railway?

The amalgamated railway. They gave concessions to the Dublin South Eastern Railway which were supposed to be worth £20,000 per year, and for these concessions they obtained one director on that railway. They are now willing to provide those same facilities to the amalgamated company, but they are given in return a director on the general company, which is a far more important thing than simply a director on the Dublin and South Eastern. Whereas before they had one director out of perhaps 100 directors on the Irish railways, now they are being given one out of fifteen for only the same concessions as they originally gave to the Dublin South Eastern.

The Minister has not, I think, shown any very great enthusiasm for the Bill, and I do not think, particularly after the speeches of Deputies Johnson and Mulcahy, that he should continue with this Bill if he does not supply the full text of the agreement to the Dáil. Alternatively, he should leave the question of Second Reading to a free vote of the Dáil, because I certainly will oppose it.

When the last Deputy stood up, I thought we would have got more information about the Bill than from any other Deputy. One would naturally expect that, but instead of our expectations being realised, we have been given less information than by any other Deputy. One thing which must have struck every Deputy is that anything referring to our national aspirations is absolutely outside what is contemplated by this Bill. In listening to the debate one could only think of pounds, shillings and pence. One could only observe the interests of one English company pitted against the interests of another English company. Deputy Good talked about the advantage that a director from an English company would be to the development of this country—of the necessity for and fitness of it. Why did not the Deputy speak about a director from the two English companies which are competing for the trade of this country— the London, Midland and Scottish and the Great Western? To my mind, the Deputy over-painted the picture—in fact, it became a daub before he had finished. Is there any director of an Irish railway company who, by reason of English trade with this country, is a director of an English company? If the picture be good at one end, it should be good at the other end. The Deputy talked about our English trade, and said England was our best customer. Ireland is also the best customer of England. And if the argument is good in one case, it should be good in the other case.

Might I point out that there is an Irish director on the Great Western Railway of England.

Who appoints him?

He is chosen by the other directors. He is a representative of Ireland and that fact was challenged in this debate.

Is that on the Great Western?

This Bill, as Deputy Mulcahy said, can be painted in very peculiar colours. It can be painted in such a way as to misrepresent the actual facts. A full and clear statement, which the people of the country could understand, would be the best thing that could be done in connection with this Bill. The people will be told that this Bill is due to certain trade facilities and through routes, and that an English company has been paying an Irish company, which is now portion of the new amalgamated company, £20,000 per annum. I want to know whether it is on account of the £100,000 or whatever the amount was that was lent the old Dublin and South Eastern Company, that this is asked for?

It is asked then on account of the payment of £20,000 per annum derived from an understanding with one particular unit of the Amalgamated Company.

No. The position is that the London, Midland and Scottish Company have made an agreement with the companies already amalgamated.

Had they anything like this agreement with the Dublin and South Eastern Company before they were amalgamated?

They had no contract.

Was it done, in practice, without a contract?

They used pay.

They paid that sum to the Dublin and South Eastern Company without a contract?

It is well to know that.

I stated that last Friday.

It will bear re-stating. Deputy Good said that this proposal will mean a lot to the tourist traffic, and that the London, Midland, and Scottish Company could make or mar the tourist traffic. I am not prepared to accept that statement. That statement hits me as water hits a duck. There are two companies competing for the tourist traffic of this country, and while those two companies are in active opposition it does not rest with one of them to make or mar that traffic. It is their business to protect their end of the traffic. It is not a question of philanthropy at all, and there is no use in over-daubing the picture. I suggest— I speak under correction—that fifty per cent. of the traffic of the London, Midland and Scottish Company is Irish traffic, and that they could not pay a dividend or keep their system going without their Irish trade. The Irish traffic means life or death to the London, Midland, and Scottish Company.

I rose particularly to refer to the position of the employees of the Dublin and South Eastern Railway Company under the new Amalgamated Company. We have it that two or three of the Dublin and South Eastern directors will also be directors of the Amalgamated Company. I am more or less asking for information as to the number of directors of the Dublin and South Eastern Company who will be directors of this new company.



And it is proposed to add another, which will be three. They have provided for a fair percentage of directors. We would like if they would provide for a fair percentage of their employees. What was the great obstacle to amalgamation? Was it the price that had to be fixed between the two companies, or was it the number of directors that had to be appointed? I fancy that it was more the number of directors of the Dublin and South Eastern Company that were to be appointed that retarded the ultimate agreement than the price that was to be paid in respect of the ordinary shares.

Mr. GEORGE NICHOLLS took the Chair.

I think, as Deputy Davin said, that the position of employees of this company is prejudiced. It is only fair that the tribunal or the Ministry should see that employees of the Dublin and South Eastern Company, where they are fitted for the work and where they are needed, should get the preference under the amalgamated company. I hope the Minister will take a note of that.

I have rather an open mind on this question. I do not know very well what is right or what is wrong in regard to this matter, but I know that the national position has very little to do with it. The thing that has to do with it is £ s.d.

I have very rarely listened to a speech which founded itself upon a national viewpoint, which proposed to argue against the ancient spirit of dependence, and which, at the same time, breathed so much of the ancient slave spirit as did the speech which Deputy Johnson delivered partly on Friday and partly to-day. He stood up to oppose this Bill mainly on principle, and if one were to judge his speech by time, his arguments were mainly business arguments, plus imaginings. The Deputy treated us to a hectic picture of the future if this Bill were passed. According to the Deputy, one railway director out of 16, one appointed to a board of 16, is going in a short space of time to get the 15 others completely in his grip— the 15 directors appointed by the Irish proprietors of Irish railways—and keep them so completely in his power that no question of Irish goods and no question of the benefit of Ireland will enter into their minds when any question of railway administration arises; in a short space of time that one man, having special experience—having experience which no Irish appointee could have—would absorb the Board. He would even get control of the general manager, and all "routeing" of traffic and every little point of detail in railway administration would be governed by the one man; so far as the railway directorate was concerned, the 15 others and the general manager—presumably, if he could so operate on the mind of the general manager he would operate on all other officials—would disappear and you would have got one dictator of the Irish railway companies.

I cannot assent to the proposition that one appointee of an English railway company is equal to—and, in the old phrase—better than—15 appointees of the Irish proprietors of the Irish railways. On that purely imaginative case, Deputy Johnson founded his main objection to the proposal in this Bill—that it was going eventually, and indeed in a very short space of time, to lead to the subordination of Irish interests to English interests, English interests being represented by one appointee on a board of 16. That, to me, shows timidity. It is even worse than timidity. It shows a lack of respect for Irish intelligence and Irish ability. It shows, to the greatest extent possible, what I said at the beginning —the existence of the slave mind, that we thought might have got some chance of disappearing under the present conditions. I cannot conceive of this mighty Colossus who "doth bestride this narrow world" and who is going to overawe, overpower and override all the decisions and all the points of view that his colleagues, 15 in number, may happen to put up to him at any time.

The Deputy then said it was bad business, or—to put it the other way—that it was good business, from the point of view of the L.M. and S. Company. Although I endeavoured to correct the mistake several times he persisted in it, with the effect to-day that Deputy Esmonde thinks it right to follow him. Deputy Esmonde, with Deputy Johnson, holds that the right as to appointment of a director, previously guaranteed in respect only of the Dublin and South Eastern Co., is now being extended to the amalgamated company, and that there is no extension of the consideration on which that previous right was founded. I think that is what Deputy Esmonde said; it is certainly what Deputy Johnson said. If Deputy Johnson tells me that there is no difference between Deputy Johnson, say, as an employer, who says: "I have been in the habit of paying my workmen a certain amount of money and if you continue to work with me you will probably get what I used to give the other people," and the position of an employer who says: "I contract and bind myself to give you so much for a stated period and for a stated amount of work"—if Deputy Esmonde and Deputy Johnson thinks the consideration is the same in both cases, I wonder what argument would have effect with them. If there is no difference between a voluntary and a discretionary payment of £20,000, which might disappear at any moment, and over which the company had no control, and a binding agreement to pay £20,000——

Was there a binding agreement on the part of the Dublin and South Eastern Company to allow a director to be appointed?

There was a binding agreement by statute that a director should be appointed on certain consideration. That consideration was not the payment of £20,000 per annum. £20,000 per annum did happen to be paid. I hold that to change that voluntary payment into a binding contract to continue to pay is a considerable advance on the previous state of things.

Deputy Johnson pursued the line of argument with regard to the railway director who can overwhelm his fifteen colleagues. He asked was it contemplated that this man should have the rights of an ordinary director, and that he might, on a particular occasion, have a casting vote in deciding that the London, Midland and Scottish Railway shall continue to pay this £20,000 to the new company. That was in line with the general horrible imaginings of the Deputy with regard to this. This incubus of £20,000 per annum might be forced by the casting vote of this representative of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway on a board of directors otherwise divided, and which might otherwise avoid taking this £20,000 but for the presence of that director on their board. That is a sufficiently horrible contemplation, and it is horrible enough to make anybody vote against this Bill! The Deputy can urge it as an argument because it is proposed that the director shall be a director for the ordinary purposes of a director, and would be present if any discussion arose as to whether or not this money was to be continued as a payment.

We are told that the agreement has not been laid before the Dáil. The agreement will be laid before the Dáil before the Committee Stage. An argument was used that because it was vague, and because of an estimate by me as to what the money was, and an estimate by the London, Midland and Scottish, or the Dublin and South Eastern, that therefore there was something far from certain, something far from being fixed, and that there was nothing definite to found an agreement on. The amount of consideration is this, that the agreement was sufficient for the Railway Tribunal to decide the issue at stake. The Dáil can see the agreement, and have the terms of the agreement before them before we reach the Committee Stage of this Bill. The agreement is binding if this Bill is passed. This agreement, on the basis that this Bill is going to be passed, has been considered a good bargain by the three members of the Railway Tribunal specially selected to judge in these matters. I am told, however, by the Deputy who objects to the bringing in of a director, the nominee of an outside company, that his further objection to the Bill is that it does not confer the same rights, to which he objects, on any other body or association. The cattle traders have no power to appoint.

The Great Northern Railway have no power to appoint, the Government themselves have no power to appoint. They have not at the moment. This Bill is singular and deals only with one agreement, and beyond that it does not pretend to go. It deals with a company which is in a very exceptional position with regard to Irish railways, a company which had previously lent a sum of money amounting to £100,000, and which had previously made payments amounting to £20,000 per annum, to one of the constituent elements of the new amalgamation. No other company is in money value in the same position with regard to Irish railways as this one is.

The Great Western Railway of England has been alluded to. The Great Western Railway of England was brought in as an argument by Deputy Johnson, and as far as my memory serves me, Deputy Johnson was by no means willing to allow that undertaking with the Great Western Railway to be continued in full force and effect under the Railway Tribunal when passing through the Dáil. We hold that we have acted fairly to these two great companies when we have secured to the Great Western Railway by the actual terms of the Act all the allowances and rights safeguarded in a proper way for the Irish interests that they previously had in regard to Irish traffic. We could not see our way to grant the directorate previously allowed on the Board of the Dublin and South Eastern Railway in the new amalgamated company by virtue of the old consideration of £100,000, which was consideration having operation only towards the Dublin and South Eastern and towards one end of it. But this is a new and specific and completely different consideration, and it is considered good enough and sufficiently good business in consideration of this £20,000, to agree to a director. I say that on that basis alone, as Deputy Good pointed out, inevitably one result of this is going to be closer co-operation between the amalgamated board and the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, and co-operation with every desire to preserve the national outlook and with every desire to denote very clearly the commercial frontier. It is very desirable to have that close co-operation with that railway company which carries most of the traffic from this country. Deputy Johnson concluded by saying that he thought that this was a very unsuitable measure to proceed from the Government which set out having as its cry that it was out to make full use of the powers of the Treaty. He asked the remaining member of that party here who was going to make a fuller use of the powers given by the Treaty to speak against this. This is a using, a bold and courageous using, of the powers given by the Treaty.

With regard to what Deputy Mulcahy said that our national status should be more clearly defined and our commercial frontier more clearly recognised before any step of this kind was taken here, I would say that I cannot conceive any greater or clearer demonstration of our status or any more clearly marked sign of our commercial frontier than that the company has to come into the Dáil to secure the approval of the Oireachtas before the appointee of a foreign company can be given a seat on an Irish railway board. That, to me, is the greatest demonstration of our status, and very clearly shows the frontier of the country. Deputy Mulcahy contended that as a business arrangement this was questionable, and that a better and more vitalising factor would lie in losing £20,000 per annum. I presume his argument is that it would require greater application and greater diligence and care, and greater work from the railway tribunal, and the railway management if this £20,000 disappeared. That may be arguable. But surely a very vitalising factor to the whole railway management is that a certain revenue has been established, that they have to prove the case before the railway tribunal next year to get such rates and freights established as will enable them by good, economic and efficient management to bring in that revenue, and that any surplus revenue brought in by the application of these rates will go in part to the company and in part to the railway users.

That is a sufficiently strong factor to make them use their best endeavour to see that the railways are more efficiently and more economically managed. Deputy Esmonde, I think I have answered. He said that these concessions were the same as before, and as that argument has been very often used, at the risk of being tedious, I want again to say that the consideration is entirely different. The consideration previously for a director was that a sum of £100,000 had been supplied in a certain way. Interest was paid on it; the payment of the interest, remember, being dependent upon certain other circumstances, and interest, I think, for a sufficient number of years was paid, but the right to a director remained. In addition to that, there were voluntary payments of £20,000, which might disappear at any moment. This directorate has nothing to do with the £100,000. It is a directorate founded upon the £20,000 agreement, and that £20,000 now must be paid. It is a directorate no longer voluntary or discretionary, it is a power given to the London, Midland and Scottish when this Bill is through. It is a contract, and there are penalties for breach of it. The Deputy asked about the agreement; the agreement will be circulated before the Committee Stage is reached.

Deputy Gorey spoke, but I did not rightly understand him at one time. Did the Deputy ask whether the Great Western Railway should be given any right to appoint a director on the board? I may have mistaken the Deputy; I wonder was that what the Deputy was urging.

I was simply wanting information.

The Deputy put a question which apparently did not involve an answer, as to whether or not the Great Western were really entitled to a director on the new board. At present they are not. They have secured in the Railways Act of 1924 all the rights and privileges they previously had with regard to Irish traffic, and it was one of the most contentious points, fought bitterly through the Dáil, as to whether or not this agreement should be continued with the Great Western.

The point is, you were really opening up co-operation of the Irish railways, with the Great Western, without having to pay the price of a directorship.

Yes, because we continued to the Great Western, but we did not, and had no necessity to continue in the Railways Act of 1924 to the London, Midland and Scottish. We continued all the previous rights that the Great Western had with regard to Irish traffic, and we stereotyped these rights in the Act of 1924, and that was our bargain. We gave them everything they previously had in this country, and we carried that over in the new undertaking.

But you gave them no director.

They never had a right to a director on any railway board in this country, and we were not setting up a new practice or breaking out into any new principle. We took everything that they had previously in regard to any railway in this country, and we carried it right on and gave them all their rights and privileges in the Act of 1924. That was our bargain with the Great Western Railway. Now this is a corresponding and complementary bargain with the London, Midland and Scottish.

It affects much more than the Dublin and South Eastern.

It affects much more than the Dublin South Eastern, and it affects an entirely new bargain and a new basis. It is a discretionary promise to pay £20,000, converted into a contract, to pay for getting one director on a board of sixteen. Deputy Gorey asked another question. He wanted to know was the delay in coming to terms with the Dublin and South Eastern due to any quarrel about the number of directors or what was the cause of it. That I cannot say. I could make a guess and I could make statements, but I might be contradicted. If the Deputy had been in the House the other day, and if, being in the House, he had attended he would have heard me say that the chairman of the Dublin and South Eastern towards the end of August made a statement of the position and outlined the various obstacles and gave the main obstacle, and the main obstacle was this getting of £20,000 a year. That was really the obstacle. It operated this way, that until the Railway Tribunal knew whether that sum of £20,000 was to be continued and to be given as part of the rates and assets of the Dublin and South Eastern, the tribunal had no security and no foundation on which to base the value of the stock of the Dublin and South Eastern with regard to the amalgamated company.

That cancels as far as the public are concerned the value of the concession, because the stock of the new amalgamated company is increased by an amount equivalent to that annual value.

I understood that the statement made by the chairman of the Dublin and South Eastern referred to the £100,000 and not the £20,000, of which I heard for the first time in this Bill.

I am only attempting to quote from memory as to what the chairman of the Dublin and South Eastern said. I said I could make a statement and that probably it would be contradicted. I endeavoured to quote the chairman and I am contradicted. I can go no further. I gave what the chairman stated, at a meeting of the shareholders. The point Deputy Johnson made does not affect the revenue of the amalgamated company. That revenue is stated. The revenue upon which the whole basis of the Railways Act is built up was stated, and the rates will be made out on that basis but sufficient to make up that money, and the only point on which the public could come in is this: that if the contention of this House appeared to be that the Railways Act should destroy this £20,000 of receipts, then it would be for the Central Fund to make up the equivalent payment.

That is a point which the tribunal have not been asked yet to decide and will not be asked to decide if the Bill is passed, because the agreement is going to be based on the assumption that the Bill will pass, but they would have the right to re-open that if the Bill is defeated. But if that contention were to be upheld by the railway tribunal, then the Central Fund would have to make a payment corresponding to the £20,000, and in that extent the public might easily suffer. Now, the whole question of the Bill has been put as if it was a matter of conflict between business and national interests. It has been argued that it is not good business from our point of view, but that contention has not met with much support—the whole question is a matter of business. It is very good business from the Irish railway point of view and from the national point of view. If you stated that you were selling a birthright for £20,000 per annum, of course a certain amount of rhetoric can be spoken on the matter, but I am putting forward the business point of view. We have taken our stand firmly upon this. We know our position. We know our status; and, confident in the strength we have got, we can come to this House and ask this portion of the Oireachtas, the Dáil, to assent to the Bill. We hold when they come here, the necessity of coming here to get the assent of the Oireachtas, is in itself the clearest definition of our status and shows very clearly the independent position we have at the moment.

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 34; Níl, 13.

  • Richard H. Beamish.
  • Earnán de Blaghd.
  • Séamus Breathnach.
  • Seoirse de Bhulbh.
  • Sir James Craig.
  • John Daly.
  • Máighréad Ní Choileáin Bean
  • Uí Dhrisceóil.
  • Seán de Faoite.
  • Desmond Fitzgerald.
  • John Good.
  • Pádráig Mac Fadáin.
  • Patrick McGilligan.
  • Patrick McKenna.
  • Liam Mac Sioghaird.
  • Liam Mag Aonghusa.
  • John T. Nolan.
  • Peadar O hAodha.
  • Ailfrid O Broin.
  • Seán O Bruadair.
  • Partholán O Conchubhair.
  • Séamus O Cruadhlaoich.
  • Liam O Daimhín.
  • Eoghan O Dochartaigh.
  • Séamus O Dóláin.
  • Mícheál O Dubhghaill.
  • Peadar O Dubhghaill.
  • Aindriú O Láimhín.
  • Séamus O Leadáin.
  • Fionán O Loingsigh.
  • Domhnall O Mocháin.
  • Séamus O Murchadha.
  • Seán O Súilleabháin.
  • Caoimhghin O hUigin.
  • Patrick W. Shaw.


  • Séamus Eabhróid.
  • Osmond Grattan Esmonde.
  • Connor Hogan.
  • Tomás Mac Eoin.
  • Risteárd Mac Fheorais.
  • Pádraig Mac Fhlannchadha.
  • Tomás de Nógla.
  • Tomás O Conaill.
  • Aodh O Cúlacháin.
  • Mícheál O hIfearnáin.
  • Risteárd O Maolchatha.
  • Domhnall O Muirgheasa.
  • Pádraig O hOgáin (An Clár).
Motion declared carried.
Committee Stage ordered for Thursday, 11th December.