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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 18 Nov 1926

Vol. 17 No. 3


I beg to move:—

That this House views with grave anxiety the continuance of widespread and prolonged unemployment, deplores the inadequacy of the measures so far taken by the Government to ensure opportunities of employment for unemployed workers, and disapproves of the Government's decision not to introduce legislation to amend the Unemployment Insurance Acts so as to provide subsistence for workers unable to find employment.

It is not easy—I was going to say it was not possible—to add very much to the frequent claims we have made in the Dáil for greater activity and greater consideration on the part of the Ministry in dealing with the problem of unemployment. Shortly before the summer adjournment, on the 24th June, the matter was discussed in the House, and the only thing that has happened since has been an increase in the number of men whom we ought to be concerned about, and whose means of livelihood is less, in prospect at least, than it was at that time. That is to say, the problem of unemployment is greater to-day than it was in June. I do not think anybody will disagree with the statement that we do view with grave anxiety the continuance of widespread and prolonged unemployment. Everybody at times repeats the statement that the case is serious and requires treatment of an abnormal kind; that is to say, it is a disease which must be treated in a way apart and different from the ordinary course of life. I think we will also deplore the fact that the measures so far taken by the Government to ensure opportunities of employment have been inadequate. We have been told frequently of the measures that have been taken and the moneys that have been voted to assist local authorities, or by means of direct works to promote employment and reduce the number of unemployed persons; but whatever may be the claim on behalf of the Government in respect of that, nobody will contend, I think, that they have been adequate.

They have not been adequate because they have not resulted in reducing the number of unemployed persons to any material degree. Undoubtedly, had such moneys not been spent the numbers would have been greater. How much greater it is impossible to say, because as things are in the Department of Industry and Commerce it is impossible to get adequate and accurate statistics of the number of persons unemployed. I think the figures that are available are more unreliable than ever they were, not from any fault of the Department, but by the fault of the machinery that is available. The steps taken so far have been inadequate. A certain number of public works have been started and a large sum of money has been provided. Notwithstanding the provision of those large sums of money we still have immense numbers of people unemployed, and an ever-growing number—growing weekly at any rate—of people who are not only unemployed but are going out of resources to keep themselves alive. The claim is made, and has been made continually, that it is much better to deal with the problem of unemployment by means of the provision of employment than by means of insurance, or the payment of money in any form without return in labour.

I am making the claim that, if means of obtaining employment are not available, it is our duty to provide subsistence, and the best way to do that is by means of an extension of the unemployment benefit scheme. When we were discussing this problem in June, I made an appeal to the Ministry that they would, in the interim between the adjournment and the resumption, go into the question of extended benefits, of improving and extending the Unemployment Insurance Scheme, so as to ensure to the unemployed man who was willing to work benefits by means of an insurance scheme to cover the whole time that he was unemployed, certainly to extend considerably the period in which unemployment benefit would be paid. The Minister responded with sympathy to that suggestion. He said that the problem of providing employment was a very great one and could not be solved easily. "I am pointing out," he stated, "that when we are asked here to provide a remedy for unemployment we are being asked to do what is not, I think, possible for us to do. The best we can do is to alleviate it. There can be alleviation by way of relief and by way of extended unemployment benefit."

I think he meant by that that there could be alleviation by way of relief work and by way of extended unemployment benefits. Then he went on to say: "We had some hesitation in arriving at the decision not to pay uncovenanted benefit any longer. We had the position under review at various times since then and we are not tied in the matter. If, on further consideration of the situation, and if other measures do not sufficiently lessen the unemployment problem, we would be prepared to restore uncovenanted benefit. We do not want to do that, because we believe that the payment of uncovenanted benefit gives rise to abuses and has its own economic disadvantages; that it is not as good as a scheme of work, which perhaps might not cover as many people, but if we could meet an appreciable number of individual cases by works it would be better than meeting the larger number of cases by unemployment benefit."

The specific promise there was that "If on further consideration of the situation any further measures do not sufficiently lessen the unemployment problem we would be prepared to restore uncovenanted benefit." I take it that further consideration has been given to the situation and we must ask ourselves, and the Minister must ask himself, whether the other measures that have been taken have sufficiently lessened the unemployment problem to warrant him in not restoring uncovenanted benefit. I do not know what evidence the Minister may have as to the number of unemployed in the Saorstát to-day, as compared with the numbers in June, 1926, but I say it is very difficult to obtain any figures that can be relied on to indicate the number of unemployed persons. We have, from time to time, records of the numbers registered at the Labour Employment Exchanges. We have also the number of those who have current claims for insurance benefit. The latter are, of course, very much smaller than the number on the register, but those figures, at any rate, may constitute some index of the relative position as between June and November, though they do not do more than give an indication of the persons who are registered.

Those of us who are any way familiar with the problem know how true it is to say that comparatively few persons register after they have ceased to be in benefit. The figures that were given in July of this year as to the number on the Unemployment Register was 21,931 and the latest figures on the Register— I think last week's figures—are 22,496, so that even on that showing there is an increase of 500 since July, that is an increase of the registered unemployed. Therefore, there has not been any result in the way of lessening the number by virtue of the measures that have already been taken. In view of those figures, apart from any other knowledge that we may have of the extent of unemployment, it was a great disappointment to learn from the Minister for Industry and Commerce that because of the position of the Unemployment Insurance Fund he could not recommend such a change in the scheme as would involve a further deficit upon the funds. I have not got the exact terms of it, but some such answer as that was made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and I take it that he was speaking, in making such an answer, the decision of the Executive Council.

I cannot reconcile the promise with the performance, and I therefore am asking the Dáil to agree with me that we disapprove of the Government's decision not to introduce legislation to amend the Unemployment Insurance Acts so as to provide subsistence for workers unable to find employment. Those figures, as I have said, can only be taken as an index, and they show an increase as compared with June. But to show how unsatisfactory those figures are, as a picture of the position in fact, I would remind Deputies from the country areas that they are now in November and that considerable numbers of men who are employed on the land in the summer become disemployed in November, and they do not register because they are not entitled to Unemployment Insurance, and it is not usual for the landworkers to register in the Unemployment Exchanges. So the number of men who have finished their summer employment on the land has to be added to those who figure on those registers.

Another factor that must be observed is that there is a growing stringency noted in the Department in respect of depriving of benefits men who may have a couple of acres of land on which they may work at certain times of the year. I read in the newspapers a couple of days ago a statement which may be taken as the views of responsible men, and while it may contain considerable exaggeration, it is for somebody to disprove the exaggerations if they prove to be so. It is an appeal for British ex-Servicemen issued by the Southern Irish Loyalists' Relief Association. It is signed by the Duke of Portland, the Duke of Northumberland, the Marquis of Lansdowne, the Earl of Selborne, Lord Danesford, and Colonel J. Gretton, M.P. These gentlemen are not intimately associated with the condition of the unemployed in the Saorstát, but no doubt they are advised by men in the country who claim to be intimately associated and directly interested in the conditions of the unemployed ex-Servicemen. This particular statement is not one which is, on the face of it at any rate, antagonistic to the Government of the Free State. On the contrary, it shows evidence of friendliness.

That is a change.

There are other changes too.

They even go so far as to say this: "Considerable sums of public money have been expended by the Free State Government on relief works in an effort to alleviate some of the distress arising out of unemployment, but in the selection of applicants for work preference is, perhaps not unnaturally, given to men who have served in the Free State Army." They give some figures and it is to the figures I am asking the Minister to direct his attention. The statement says that "there are about 186,000 British ex-Servicemen in the Irish Free State, including some 18,000 in Dublin and 12,000 in the Cork area. Of these, approximately one-third are unemployed"—one-third of the 186,000. In the view of these people who are supplied with information from the ranks of the organised British ex-Servicemen there are 60,000 odd of them unemployed. I think it is possible that that is an exaggeration—how great an exaggeration I have no means of knowing. I do know, though, that many thousands who are not British ex-Servicemen are unemployed, and if we discount their estimate by 50 per cent. I have not the slightest doubt but that there remain in the neighbourhood of 50,000 unemployed men. While I say I have not the slightest doubt, I confess I can produce no evidence. No figures are available as to the complete extent of this problem. We know, however, that there are 26,000 registered, and we know that large numbers, because of their ineligibility for unemployment insurance, do not register. We know there are large numbers who have become out of benefit and who ceased to continue their registration.

This does not apply solely to the unskilled men. It may surprise some Deputies to learn, for instance, that outside the larger cities quite a considerable proportion of skilled tradesmen in the building trade are unemployed. I have the figures of the Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers, the percentage of unemployed from a number of the smaller towns of the country. It is appalling to learn that there are no less than 36 per cent. in Cobh of organised trade union woodworkers unemployed; in Dundalk 25 per cent.; Fermoy 28 per cent.; Droichead Nua and the Curragh 30 per cent., and Sligo 57 per cent. These figures are taken from the November Journal of the Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers. Even in the City of Dublin to-day—we cannot, I find, omit bricklayers from any discussion on unemployment—there are 71 unemployed bricklayers out of a total of 450, or 16 per cent. If that applies to skilled men in the building trade, how much more serious is it in respect of the unskilled men? If you take engineers and ironworkers generally unemployed and on short time, their position is very serious indeed. It is an unfortunate fact, but it is a fact, that there are certain classes of men who have been brought up and lived in that state of casualness, if I might so put it, where irregularity of employment is normal—men who work for a week and are off for three weeks, who then work, perhaps, for a month or six weeks, and are then off for another four or five weeks—and the irregularity of employment has inured them to all kinds of hardship and carelessness, if one likes to put it that way, as to their way of life.

But when you take the other class of men who have lived for years in fairly regular work, who might look upon it as fairly sure that they would have, perhaps, 35 to 45 weeks' regular work in the year—it might be enlightening to some Deputies to know that it is quite a fortunate workman who has 40 to 45 weeks' work in the year— those are the fortunate men. When we realise that men who, perhaps, for 20 years have lived in that state of regular work have come down now to long periods of enforced unemployment, with the demoralising effect that unemployment has when it is long continued, you can begin to realise some of the evils of this state of affairs, and the effect upon the stamina of the people that will result from it if it is not remedied.

I am emphasising in this case that, the Ministry having done everything they can do to promote employment and to assist in the creation of employment, there still remain the 22,000, or 50,000, or 60,000 of those various estimates. What do we expect these people to do for a livelihood? The majority of them, perhaps, certainly a very large proportion of them, are married men with dependants. How are they to live? They did prepare, through the aid of the compulsory insurance, for normal periods, or for the unemployment that might come in the normal course of industry, and the insurance has been eaten up. Very large numbers indeed, and growing numbers of people every week, are now out of benefit. Somebody has to answer the question how they are expected to live. They cannot borrow without pawning and without their furniture and clothing gradually finding its way surreptitiously to the pawnshop, hidden in the case of the respectable families not used to visiting pawnshops. The furniture and clothing gradually disappear. The house is not as pleasant-looking as it was, nor as comfortable as it was, in good times, and other places become more attractive.

They cannot borrow, I say, because they can give no security. Their trade societies have exhausted their benefits. We are not going to ask them, I hope, to resort to the poor relief schemes, or to the workhouse. That surely, we will agree, is their last resort, and many of them would prefer anything to doing it. Foolish men, nevertheless they do it. We dare not suggest that they should steal. And what do we suggest? Charity? Again we cannot ask 50,000 men to go begging.

I know of no other method that will retain men's self-respect, that will have fewer evil consequences, if any, than the continuance of unemployment insurance benefit to men while they are unemployed. The Minister will tell us that the Fund cannot stand it, that it would be no longer insurance. Well, it may not be. It can be replenished by grants, and can be put in funds. If the evil that has to be remedied and prevented, that fund can be put within a reasonable possibility of being made solvent; it may have to be made up by a definite grant, as distinct from an advance. But however it is made up, or in whatever way, I think it is undoubtedly deplorable that the Ministry have come to the conclusion not to extend unemployment insurance benefits.

I can see no alternative to condemning the action of the Government in this matter unless and until they can find the means to provide employment for unemployed workmen. I said nothing about unemployed women. I am told that they are growing in numbers, notwithstanding the successful efforts in respect of one or two industries. I shall not say any more on this matter because I should like to know what the Ministry have to say in defence of its position as indicated by the Minister for Industry and Commerce yesterday. I can only think of it as a decision, though it was not put in that straightforward fashion. He said he was not prepared to recommend the extension because the Fund was in debt. I hope I misread his answer and I hope he will be able to tell us that that was not the decision, but that on the contrary they have decided to introduce at the earliest stage a Bill which will provide continued benefit for unemployed workmen. I beg to move the motion.

I beg to second the motion, and I think it is well worthy of note that when such a vital problem as unemployment is under discussion that less than a dozen Deputies of the Government Party think it worth their while to sit in this House. We had the Minister for Agriculture yesterday boasting of his sixty followers, and only one-fifth of that number can come along here to-day and sit in the House while the problem of unemployment, which goes to the root of the very existence of human beings, is under discussion. Unemployment and the measures to deal with unemployment and the steps to be taken to deal with unemployment have been under consideration in the Dáil for quite a long time.

Notwithstanding all the consideration and notwithstanding the statements of Ministers and Deputies of the Government Party that the prospects of employment are better, that trade is improving and that the prospects of employment are likely to brighten, we find that unemployment is worse to-day than ever it was in any period during the last four years. The Minister may quote figures to disprove what I am saying, but I am going to ask the House to subject the problem of unemployment to one simple test. That test is—is it more easy to-day for an unemployed man to get a job than it was four years ago? Take any unemployed man in the streets and ask him whether he finds it easier to-day to get work than at any time during the past four years. That, in my opinion, is the only reliable test which can be applied to the present situation. If that test is applied, I venture to say that in every instance the answer will be that it is much more difficult to-day to secure employment than it has been at any time in the past four years.

The local authorities in Dublin and throughout the Saorstát are being deluged with deputations of people asking them to do this, that and the other thing with a view to relieving unemployed workers. When asked to do something to relieve unemployment, local authorities find, before anything can be done for the relief of unemployment, that money is necessary, and money to-day is not available to local authorities to carry out many of the schemes which they could carry out if the money were available.

There is no better example of that than on the question of housing. Let any local authority endeavour to borrow money from the Irish banks for housing and they will find that it is practically impossible to get money. That is the experience of many local authorities, and not only in regard to housing but in regard to other matters as well. We are approaching the Christmas season, the season that ought to be for every person a season of joy and happiness. We are approaching it with tens of thousands of workers unemployed and with no funds available from which grants could be made for relief purposes.

When the Housing Act of 1926 was being discussed here I suggested that a loan of about ten millions might be raised, that figure being half the amount that certain Deputies promised the electors of North Dublin would be raised if two Government nominees were returned. At the time I made that suggestion the President pooh-poohed the idea of raising a loan; he said it was impracticable and a dangerous thing. The House might take note of the fact that the talk of raising a loan is becoming more general now, although there has been no change in the industrial or economic situation; there is no change beyond the fact that an election is likely to be held in the near future. I am still convinced, and I have heard no arguments to the contrary, that a loan to deal with the problem of unemployment is absolutely essential. I can see no other satisfactory way in which money can be raised. If we have a small national debt, and certain Deputies of the Government Party take pride in that fact, surely there ought to be very little hesitation in increasing that debt. Even if the national debt were increased by 100 per cent. it would still be very much lower than the national debt of any other country in Europe, or for that matter in the world.

I am of opinion that the only satisfactory way in which we can deal with unemployment is to make money available so that employment can be given. On that point I suggest that employment should not be confined to certain phases of work—for instance, drainage or road work—because in certain areas there may be no drainage needed, and in other areas local authorities may consider that the roads do not need attention. I suggest to the Minister for Industry and Commerce that this matter can be tackled in a satisfactory and economic way if the Government raise a substantial loan and make money available for use by local authorities at easy rates so that the local authorities, scattered as they are throughout the Saorstát, can each undertake work of a constructive kind in the area under their jurisdiction. If that were done I venture to think the local authorities would be prepared to borrow the money on reasonable terms, and with that borrowed money they could put into operation schemes of work which would do a good deal to relieve the unemployment that exists.

Deputy Johnson has referred to the need for the restoration of continuous unemployment benefit. I also desire to favour that. I think it is preferable— and I think Deputy Johnson agrees with me—that, if possible, work should be provided for these people; but if work is not available the minimum that should be conceded is the restoration of uncovenanted benefit. We have had experience of this unemployment problem for four years. During the period this Government has been in power employment has got less and less, men have got hungrier and hungrier, and children are feeling more and more the pinch of unemployment which their parents are forced to endure.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce thinks that the solvency of the Unemployment Insurance Fund is a very desirable thing. No doubt that may be so in normal times, but I suggest there is now something more important than the solvency of the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and that is the saving of men and women and helpless children from the poverty and destitution which inevitably follow in the wake of idleness. I suggest to the Minister, in conclusion, that he should not pay so much attention to the solvency of the Unemployment Insurance Fund; he should pay much more attention to the saving of men, women and children from the poverty and misery which they have been compelled to endure for the past four years.

I wish to join in this protest against the Government's inadequate efforts to deal with the unemployment question and, further, to state that the speeches, to which we have just listened in support of the motion, practically repeated a case made here last June. From last June until to-day nothing has been done for the unemployed or their dependants and, as Labour members have stated, unemployment has been on the increase. I must be careful as regards the words I use, so that I will not say that men are being put out of the Army, but I do say that a small number are being demobilised weekly—time-expired men— and they are being added to the unemployed list, with not even stamped cards. I have a letter here, one of the latest I have received, and it is as follows:—

"Dear Alderman Byrne, —Some time in September I wrote asking you to help me to get employment. Since then I heard nothing. As you are aware, I am a married man with a wife and four children, aged from one-and-a-half to twelve years. I was discharged last March from the National Army, time-expired, after three years and eight months' service; I am not getting any unemployment money or pension, and I do not know in God's name what to do."

That is only one of the bagful of letters which I could produce from married men with families in which they say that they do not know, in God's name, what to do to provide the ordinary means of livelihood for their wives and children. I notice in this morning's papers an announcement by a public authority that, as the fuel shortage has been unsatisfactorily dealt with, they are prepared to give to poor persons— they do not say working-classes—a bag of coal at certain depots on the production of five shillings. Some of these poor persons have not seen five shillings for the past two years. The man to whom I have referred says that he has had no unemployment benefit since his discharge from the Army. When did he last see five shillings? I think the time has arrived for the Government to face this problem and make up their minds that there is a duty cast upon them to save the women and children of this country from the hardships which, personally, I know they are enduring in the slums of Dublin to-day.

In O'Connell Street you can see the barefooted child coming back amongst us. We had hoped that the barefooted child which had been provided for during the period of the war would not return, but to-day you can see barefooted children parading the principal streets. They do not beg, they are simply trying to get away from the destitution that surrounds them in the slums. According to the Unemployed Register, there are 22,496 persons unemployed. You could multiply that number by three, or probably five, to ascertain the number of dependants of the unemployed, and you would find that you would have practically from seventy-five thousand to a hundred thousand dependants who are hoping that some day the Government will wake up and do its duty towards them. There is another class of which I frequently hear. I refer to young persons, boys and girls, whose ages range from sixteen to twenty-one years, who are not allowed to register, but from the day that they left school they have not, as a result of bad trade, been able to get any kind of employment. The unfortunate parents of these boys and girls are deserving of the sympathy of every member of this House. They do not know what to do or where to turn to get employment for their children. If you add that number of young people who reach the age of sixteen and who leave school every year, say, for the past four or five years, with no outlet for their energy or brains, you will get a substantial increase in the number of unemployed.

On a previous occasion in connection with this question I drew attention to the wholesale dumping of foreign goods in Dublin. In the woollen trade I am told that thirty-three per cent. of the workers are unemployed. In the printing trade we had a meeting a few nights ago in the Mansion House and it was stated that practically twentyfive per cent. of the members of that trade are idle. You can go to the North Wall any morning and see the wholesale dumping of printed matter. Go to any book-shop, ask to buy an ordinary prayer-book, and you will find that it has been printed and bound either in Belgium or Germany. You see handsome posters on the hoardings of the city, but these are printed in London or Glasgow. No effort is made to stop these coming in so as to provide work for a deserving class of unemployed persons. As a result of the appeal made to-day, I hope that the Minister for Industry and Commerce will make some effort, even only a temporary one, to alleviate the suffering of the unemployed and give them some that the coming Christmas will not be as dark as those of the past few years. I earnestly trust that the Government will make up its mind and do something quickly.

I suppose that in discussing this motion we cannot look for a lot of sympathy; it comes up so regularly the Government Party are getting tired of it. They only speak about unemployment when they are in the country gulling the workers. Deputy Norton referred to the few members who thought it worth their while to sit here while Deputy Johnson was introducing the motion. That is not strange. Last Friday night there was a meeting called in Newbridge by the Cumann na nGaedheal Party to discuss means of alleviating unemployment in the district. How many turned up to show their sympathy with the unemployed? Two or three, and they went away without finding out how they would alleviate unemployment. That is the situation all over the country so far as the Cumann na nGaedheal Party are concerned. They do not give one damn about the unemployed. Yesterday I had a question on the Order Paper asking the Minister for Local Government to start work in connection with the widening of the bridge over the Liffey at Newbridge, but I was told that that was not an urgent case.

Urgency in relieving unemployment is not an urgency of which the Government will be guilty, though I must say they have given employment to about 350 men in South Kildare who are standing up to their knees in the swamps of the Barrow at the miserable wage of thirty shillings a week. These men have been debarred from being insured under the Unemployment Insurance scheme. That has been done in order to cheapen the estimates for the Barrow drainage. There are about three thousand persons unemployed in Kildare and no relief schemes have been put forward there in the last two or three years. Very little money has been spent in North Kildare either in the Carbury, Ballymore, Celbridge or Leixlip districts. I ask the Minister to provide some relief for the unemployed in those districts. From our experience here in the last three or four years, I am afraid we will get very little satisfaction. In view of the general election, I think it would be wise if the Government would realise their responsibility in the matter, otherwise I hope that the workers will have more sense than they had on the last occasion.

Some time ago when reading reports of speeches made by Ministers, a statement was credited to the President, I think in Cork, in which he said that the country had at last turned the corner. Having in mind the state of my constituency, I was wondering whether the President meant it to be understood that the country was on the way to bankruptcy or national prosperity. If the condition of things in my constituency now is compared with its state at any time during the last three or four years, I say that down there we have turned the corner towards bankruptcy and not towards prosperity. I would be very glad if I could agree with the statement made by the President. I am sorry that I cannot do so. I think it is the duty of every Deputy to state frankly what the situation is in his constituency.

Deputy Johnson has drawn the attention of the Minister for Industry and Commerce to a statement made by some British nobleman regarding the number of British ex-Servicemen who are unemployed in the Irish Free State. The individual who made that statement may have been unfriendly towards the Ministry in the past, but there is plenty of evidence, from what we saw of recent happenings in London, to show that the enemies of the past are the friends of to-day. Therefore, we may take the statement attributed to the Duke of Northumberland and other distinguished noblemen in England as having some relation to facts that exist regarding British ex-Servicemen. If the position is such as was stated, it is a very serious one——

Do you agree with the 186,000?

That was the statement, and I am surprised that it came to the total of 186,000 in the Free State.

And one-third unemployed.

It states that one-third of the British ex-Servicemen in the Free State are unemployed at present.

Do you believe that?

I want the Minister to express his opinion with the figures he has.

Is the Deputy supporting the Duke in this case?

I take it that the President, who has been recently in the company of the Duke's friends in London, knows something about it.

I never met His Grace—your friend.

I think the statement should be dealt with in a serious way and, if the Minister has figures at his disposal, he should contradict it. I would be glad if the Minister could give his reasons, and contradict such a statement. The Minister stated that many measures had been undertaken by the Government to deal with the unemployment problem. As far as I could follow the statement made last night, it was to the effect that the position to-day is much better than it was twelve months ago. Speaking from what I know, I emphatically contradict that, and Deputies from my constituency on the Government benches, who are not now in the Dáil, will, I hope, come in before the debate concludes and contradict me if I am wrong. I have received numerous communications from portions of my constituency asking that influence should be used to secure grants for the relief of unemployment in localities where distress is acute. I have had to reply to these communications stating that as far as I knew no money was available for the relief of distress.

A considerable amount of money was set aside last year by the Minister for Finance for relief schemes, as a result of which hundreds of men were engaged in work of a useful nature. We are now only five or six weeks from Christmas and, up to the present, there has been no indication that anything of that kind will be done this year. I can promise the Minister, if he can tell the Dáil this evening, before the debate concludes, that funds for work of a similar nature will be available before Christmas, that so far as my constituency is concerned, schemes will be put up, and they have already been put up, to absorb a certain amount of such money, and give useful employment at this critical period to hundreds of people.

In Leix, one of the counties in my constituency, there are only 23 men employed on normal road maintenance work over 1,100 miles, and on last Saturday the County Council had only £511 to credit for road maintenance work for the remaining twenty weeks of the financial year. I think the Minister will agree that that is a serious state of affairs, especially when he takes into consideration the fact that the normal road maintenance work in this county gave employment to about 300 men. I visited the constituency and saw the material on the roadside, but unless money is available the work cannot be carried on for the remaining twenty weeks of this financial year. I believe a scheme was sent to the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Local Government asking for a grant of £15,000 to enable work of that kind to be completed in areas where unemployment was most acute.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce, and probably other Ministers, may say that 2,000 men are engaged on the Shannon scheme, and some hundreds in the beet factory at Carlow. As far as Leix and Offaly are concerned there is a considerable acreage under beet but very little employment will be given to unemployed workers in that area in the factory. I saw a communication from one of the managers of the factory, in which he stated that there were six applications for every vacancy in the factory. The employment given there will be only for three months and it was indicated—and I sympathise with the policy of the firm—that it was the intention of the directors of the factory to give employment to suitable applicants in Carlow urban and rural areas. That means that while beet may be grown to a considerable extent in Wexford, Leix and Offaly and North and Mid-Tipperary very little employment will be provided for unemployed workers in the beet factory. To that extent the Carlow beet factory does not relieve the unemployment that exists in my constituency. Deputy Colohan referred to the employment given on the Barrow at Athy, and to the conditions under which they were working, and the wage they were receiving. I should like to draw the attention of the Minister for Industry and Commerce to another aspect of that matter. I understand that the wheelbarrows used by the workers have been imported from outside the country. I wonder what the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs has to say to that?

He was not consulted.

He may not have been consulted. I give him credit also for the fact that if he were consulted he would probably be able to find, as the Minister for Local Government and the Minister for Industry and Commerce could have found, factories and works in this country that could provide wheelbarrows for this work. The Minister for Local Government is compelling the local councils to purchase whatever they may require for the County Homes and other administrative institutions through the Trade Department. I wonder why he did not intervene in this case and give the carpenters of Wicklow or somewhere else a few weeks' work in making wheelbarrows, instead of sending to America or elsewhere for them. These things count when we come to the question of relieving unemployment. A few weeks' work could at least be given to a few carpenters in the Free State if the wheelbarrows were not imported from America, as I understand they have been.

What is really occurring in my constituency is this, and I hope the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs will pay attention to it: the people who are engaged in tillage, who are producing the wealth of the country, are selling below the cost of production, and instead of there being more prosperity as a result of increased tillage they are facing bankruptcy without any hope of relief. Potatoes, for instance, are being sold by farmers in the Midlands at five-pence and sixpence per stone, while in Blackrock, Williamstown, Dun Laoghaire and the City of Dublin they are being retailed at 1s. 7d. The result is that the tillage farmer, the person that the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs is interested in, and that the Minister for Agriculture should be interested in, is unable to find a market at an economic price for his produce, and he cannot give employment without having such a market. Failing to find a market at a reasonable price, he is being put into the position that he cannot give the employment that he was able to give formerly. The tillage farmers in my constituency have been in that position for the last three or four years. They have now come to the end of their tether. They have been drawing on their resources for the last three or four years and now they have no resources to fall back upon, with the result that hundreds of agricultural workers are without employment who would have work if the position of the tillage farmers was looked after. The Minister for Agriculture may smile. He knows the reasons well, because they have been explained to him on several occasions. He may wake up to a realisation of the situation when it is too late for him to come to their assistance.

Deputy Byrne referred to the fact that his attache case was filled with applications from persons looking for employment. We are all unfortunately in that position. In my twenty years' knowledge of Dublin, I have never experienced anything like the pitiable appeals made to-day for jobs for men out of work. I do not think it is the duty of a Deputy to go round to influential people looking for jobs for men out of work. It is the responsibility of the Government to prepare and undertake schemes which will find employment at this time of the year, at any rate, for the largest number of available men suitable for such employment. Such schemes can be produced in my constituency if the Minister will find the money for them. I am not supporting this motion for the purpose of asking the Government to provide doles, because I know that work of a useful nature can be undertaken if the money is forthcoming. The Government is proceeding to set this State on what they call a firm foundation by a policy of reducing the purchasing power of the community. They will have to look in the other direction, and they will be forced to realise before long that their policy is a wrong one. Deputy Johnson referred to the unemployment that existed in the building trades. I was recently informed that a number of building schemes in the Fairview and Marino district had been stopped since the storm. As a result of that, probably the figures and percentages given by Deputy Johnson would be increased.

It does not affect them.

The general tendency in my constituency and in neighbouring constituencies at present is for the young men in the country districts to drift into the cities and towns, otherwise they are doing their best to get away to America or some other foreign country. If the country has turned the corner on the road to prosperity, that certainly is not an indication of it. To-day we passed a Bill through its final stages, and probably as a result of it we will have a state of national emergency proclaimed. I have been studying the situation seriously for the last two or three years and I can assert that the unemployed workers here are the most law-abiding citizens to be found in any country. They have tolerated this state of privation and destitution far too long and I would not blame them for resorting to any kind of tactics that would rouse the Government out of the sleepy condition in which they are at present. I have never regarded it as my duty to come here and exaggerate the condition of the area I represent. I see no ray of hope whatever in that area unless something is done for the producers of wealth that will enable them to give more employment to the agricultural workers, who were employed in far greater numbers three or four years ago.

Let us look at the situation from one point of view. Three years ago we had in the National Army 50,000 men who could find no other kind of work. To-day there are only 15,000 men in the Army. Can any Deputy say that the men demobilised from the Army, representing the difference between 50,000 and 15,000, have been absorbed into some form of employment? Personally I cannot say they have been. Therefore, to that extent the situation is worse to-day than it was three years ago. I could deal with other aspects of the situation which might not come within the terms of the resolution but which have a considerable effect on the unemployment problem. I support the resolution for the purpose of asking the Government to bring in a vote for relief schemes that will enable the local authorities in Leix and Offaly to give employment on schemes that are necessary and that will be a lasting benefit to the people of the locality. The schemes are ready—some of them have been put forward; some of them are in the Department of Finance and others in the Department of Local Government. Let the Government supply the money, and then the schemes can go ahead. If that is done there will be an improvement in the position as I see it to-day, and the position in my constituency is utterly hopeless from every point of view.

Those of us who have sat here for the last three years know that unemployment has been very frequently discussed in this House, and it is rather sad at this time in the life of the present Dáil that we find ourselves again dealing with the subject and having to confess that very little progress has been made in the situation. I am glad the President is in his place, because he was in Cork recently. I am going to deal with the position from the facts as I see them and as I know them in the part of the country that I come from, and I take it that that reflects the position all over the country. The President toured the constituency that I represent; he had the advantage of seeing the best parts of it, and he was not in touch perhaps there with the part of the county where the position is at its worst. But I doubt whether throughout his tour he had made one single stop without finding the case as regards unemployment put up to him. I do not know whether that is a fact, but I know it ought to be the fact in view of the position that exists there.

Public assistance affairs in Cork are administered by a Local Government Department Commissioner. He has found it absolutely impossible to deal with the applications for home assistance put up to him at the present time. And he has had to ask the local authorities in the county to co-operate with him in putting the section of the Local Government Act that provides for relief of able-bodied destitute people, into operation. In one area in South Cork he is looking for a loan of £14,000 to relieve distress, a great portion of which has already been spent by him in exceeding his estimates. The same will have to be done with regard to the North Cork area and the West Cork area, with the result that local taxation will be simply unbearable if the needs of the people are to be met locally.

The Commissioner is powerless to deal with the position; he is dealing with it as well as he can, and I am glad to pay this tribute to him and to say that he is doing his best. Is it not very sad to be faced with conditions in the county at the present time, that the local authorities are being asked to help in framing a joint scheme of outdoor relief? I have here some documentary evidence in support of the arguments I am putting forward. I have a letter from a clergyman in one of the islands in the constituency I represent. He is not a man to exaggerate the position. He simply states the facts that are in existence in his own place. He says:

"I have no hesitation in saying that, without immediate help, there will be starvation and deaths due to cold and hunger. In the interests of those poor and suffering specimens of humanity I would ask you to petition the Government or the powers that be to grant them a sum of money to tide them over the winter. I had a man lately who came to my house for a bit of bread who is out about the country at present trying to get a little money to help him to buy the necessaries of life. I go to those people and find them famishing with cold, and no fuel whatever to burn. It is pitiable to see their little ones without a boot or stocking in such terrible cold weather as we experience here. The shopkeepers have told me that if something is not done immediately to relieve those unfortunate people Skibbereen and West Schull will be stormed with beggars during the winter. I do not doubt if the Government really understood the dire distress of the people of this island, that a grant would be given to relieve those unfortunate islanders. I have seen old people crying with cold and hunger, and if there is a spark of humanity amongst the rulers of the country it is up to them to show us sympathy and consideration in the hour of need."

Then he goes on to mention the works of one kind or another that could be done. What has occurred here is similar to what has occurred in many other places—though, perhaps, this is one of the worst districts. There is very considerable distress, though not, perhaps, to that extent, obtaining elsewhere. I have heard decent people in the town I am living in declaring that they had no food for a day-and-a-half and asking for a note to the Home Assistance Officer in order that they may get temporary assistance. It is an awful position, and we would be lacking in our duties if we did not endeavour to call attention to this evil, having regard to the fact that it might be said the real position is not known. I know what the position will be in that area during the winter.

In many parts of the constituency that I represent, certainly in four or five extensive districts, the potato crop is practically a failure. The people have no fuel for the winter. The turf has been cut and taken away to Cork and other places. I leave it to deputies and to the Government to try and picture what the situation will be in these circumstances. There are a number of cases of acute distress in the Castletownbere district. The worst cases, perhaps, are those of people slightly ibetter off in position than agricultural labourers. There are a number of small farmers with one, two, or three cows who are unable to obtain home assistance because they are farmers, and these men are starving at the present time. Decrees from the Land Commission for the non-payment of annuities, and from the banks and shopkeepers, are hanging over their heads. That is the position in that area, and that is the position that obtains all over the peninsula.

The Minister for Local Government will say, so far as Cork County is concerned, that a very considerable amount of money is available for road work. So it is. But the local authority has cut down the estimates for the road work by 50 per cent. I believe that is unwise and I believe it is wrong, but it is a fact, and the ordinary road staff of the County Council has been reduced to a considerable extent.

We were discussing the other day at a meeting of the County Council the amount of money that would be available for work in the future, and both the County Surveyors inform us that they have entirely too many applications for the work that they can give. A good deal of this money will be spent by contract. Many formalities have to be complied with yet, and it will be some time before the money is available, and what I am trying to urge now on the House is that in Cork, as everywhere else, there is need for procuring something immediately. I very strongly urge on the Government the need for doing something between now and Christmas. A great many people are giving up hope. I was at a meeting last Sunday and some person there, a victim, apparently, of what I have described, asked: What was the use of talking, things were going from bad to worse. That represents the view of a great many affected people at the present time. I am satisfied that the members of the Government are not, perhaps, entirely aware of the position in many parts of the country. If they are, then I am very much amazed. I urge that something should be cone quickly, between this and Christmas, because, in my opinion, we are going to have the hardest winter we have had for a very long time. We are, I fear, going to have a shortage of food as well as a shortage of fuel, and in addition, a shortage of employment. All this is making the people desperate, and if there is going to be any hope for the people of this country then this question must be tackled at once. I urge that it be tackled not in a grudging but in a generous manner. I trust that some message of hope will be given tu the people that this serious question is to be dealt with at once.

As one of the representatives of Dublin I desire to join in urging on the Government to give further consideration to the question of unemployment, and particularly as it affects the City of Dublin. For some time I have been in communication with the City Commissioners on the matter of their providing works or schemes which would give some relief to those unemployed. As a result of the communications that have passed between the Commissioners and the Local Government Department, a deputation waited on the Minister for Finance last week, when a number of schemes were put up which, if carried into effect, would be of considerable improvement to the city. I understand that a conference took place afterwards, but I have not heard the result of it. At any rate the City Commissioners, I believe, are most anxious to do something to meet this problem which they are confronted with day after day, but as they have no funds available they are unable to cope with it as they would desire. I think the method employed by the Minister for Industry and Commerce or the Minister for Local Government to ascertain the number of unemployed in the city and in the country generally needs to be remedied to some extent for this reason: I for one dispute the argument that unemployment is not as bad in the city now as it has been for some years. When there is a difference of opinion with the Government and Deputies who are urging this point, there ought to be some other method, I think, of ascertaining the number. Personally, I would be delighted to know that unemployment was not as grave as has been represented. If the Government considered the schemes that I have referred to, it would be far better to adopt them than to be giving relief grants. I know that there is a certain objection to relief grants. At this time of the year, particularly around Christmas, it has been the custom to give relief grants in the city. Now, if there is an objection to that, some method ought, I think, to be employed by which local authorities could put schemes in hands when money was made available. Good results, I think, would follow from work undertaken in that way. I desire again to urge on the Government the consideration of the schemes that have been submitted to the City Commissioners. I believe that if money were made available to put these schemes into operation, good use would be made of it.

After the discussion that has taken place it ought to be manifest to the most unprejudiced Deputy that the position of unemployed workers in the country to-day is regrettable. Though I come from a part of a constituency which has had the advantage of getting a certain amount of employment in the erection of the beet factory, I must say with frankness that this undertaking has not provided work for all the unemployed people in the County Carlow. In Bagnalstown, which is about nine miles from Carlow, there are about fifty people who have been unemployed for a considerable time. I sought to get a waterworks scheme started there with a view to providing them with work, but when I went about the matter I found that the County Carlow Board of Health was not in a position to finance the scheme. We all know, of course, that the ratepayers of the country are at their wits' end to pay the rates demanded from them. The position in the City of Kilkenny is also very bad. If the President, when he goes down there, were to visit some of the back slums he would find many people with, I might say, nothing to exist on. I am inclined to call the Minister for Industry and Commerce the hard-hearted man. If he were to see the condition of things that exists there he would not say that we cannot get the money to provide relief for these people. After all, it is the health and happiness of the people that is to be considered, and that is the work that I consider a nation ought to engage on. We ought to see that our people are well fed, well clothed and well sheltered. The condition of things at present in parts of my constituency would make you believe that we were not far removed from primitive man. The people have no employment and no unemployment insurance.

In most of the rural parts of Kilkenny and Carlow, numbers of agricultural workers are to be found who are not entitled to draw unemployment insurance. These people are living lives of abject misery. There is no employment on the land for them. I do not blame the farmers for that, because they themselves are not getting reasonable prices for their produce. That such a condition of affairs exists is, of course, not surprising in view of the fact that we allow millions of tons of foreign barley and grain into our country. While we allow that, thousands of the sons and daughters of the people of the country have to leave and go to foreign parts to seek the living they cannot get at home. This is the position of affairs that confronts the Government at the moment. I ask that the Government do something in the way of providing relief schemes. Much employment, for instance, could be given by cutting bad turns on many of our roads, and by levelling steep hills that make it impossible for the people to draw their produce to home or market. Down in my constituency, too, there are many broken bridges that have been left derelict and that need to be reconstructed. Work of that kind would provide employment for a great number of people, and would help, to some extent at least, to relieve the present condition of affairs. There is widespread distress in the country, parts of which are rapidly becoming like a prairie. The Minister for Lands and Agriculture knows that there are thousands of acres of land in the counties of Carlow and Kilkenny which, if divided, would provide much-needed employment for the rural workers. Because that is not being done the rural workers are rushing into the towns and cities where many of the people at the moment are living lives not lit lor human beings. In Tullow, in the Co. Carlow, you have at present forty or fifty people who are not eligible to draw unemployment insurance, and at the same time there is no work for them to do. We hear catch-cries from some parties in this country asking, "Why do not the people work," and stating that there is plenty of work for them to do. In regard to that, I can say that if someone will come along and tell me that they have work to be done, I can provide four or five hundred people who are prepared to take up the challenge. I sincerely hope that something will be done to provide work for the people. In my constituency we have got no money at all for any relief schemes. Some persons seem to think that the beet factory in Carlow would provide employment for all the people in that county. I can tell the Dáil that nine or ten per cent. of the people employed in the beet factory are from other counties. The building of the factory is not going to last for a lifetime. I sincerely hope that something will be done to provide work for the people or to give them maintenance.

I feel like agreeing with the last speaker that "it must be apparent to the most unprejudiced Deputy that the position of the unemployed is deplorable," but I would go a little further in defining in what respects it is deplorable. It is deplorable mainly in the fact that the people who are supposed to put up a case to show "that there is widespread and continued unemployment" have failed to produce any facts. That is the most deplorable feature of the whole unemployment situation to-day. Let me take the three people who have dealt with it. Deputy Johnson simply says that the only thing that has happened since some date last June is that there has been an increase in the number of men who have no means of livelihood. That is his statement.

Deputy Davin says that if anybody said there is less employment now than a year ago he contradicts him. Deputy Norton is the only member who advanced a test. What is the test? That it is as hard now to get a job as at any time in the last four years. That is the net sum of evidence with regard to unemployment in the country. I got one item of information from Deputy Johnson with regard to organised wood-workers. I did not gather by whom those figures were put together.

By the trade unions.

In the country?

On that I have one simple test, but I do not want to rule out all trade union statistics on account of it. I was sent by, I think, the Secretary to the Trade Union Council Executive a statement about a year ago with regard to unemployment in three places. The only place that comes to my memory is Ferrycarrig. I compared these figures with the census returns, and I found there were more unemployed by 50 per cent. than there-were people living in the districts. These were the trade union figures supplied to me with regard to three small places. There has been no attempt to deal with this matter in a serious way.

What is your reply to the Duke of Northumberland?

No serious attempt has been made to put up a case with regard to this question that I can deal with. I am told by Deputy Johnson that the only change has been that there has been an increase in the number of men who have not the means of livelihood. Deputy Davin is prepared to contradict me when I say that there is less unemployment than a year ago. Deputy Norton faces me with a test— is it as easy now to get work? My own employment exchanges placed in the six months, May to October, 8,300 in employment.

Out of how many seeking employment?

Let us take up the test as to easiness to get posts. There have been 8,300 placed.

How many displaced?

That is not part of Deputy Norton's test. That is going to get us into other figures. I have no idea of the rise and fall of these things because of one reason, and one reason only, and that is the failure of the unemployed to register through the means provided.

Has the Minister ever provided facilities for the unemployed to register?

I do not know how many branch exchanges there are, but there is a considerable number of them, and the administration of the Unemployment Insurance Acts plus the State contribution costs this country something like 75 per cent. of the total Vote given for my Department by this Dáil. There is even a certain amount of leave given to register by post. Notwithstanding that I am told the unemployment register as a criterion of the number employed in the country at any date is not reliable. I am not going to say that it presents a complete picture, but if it does not the fact is due as much, and even more, to the unemployed than to anybody else. We give every facility possible within the money at our disposal. The administration expenses of our unemployment insurance code are high, but facilities are given within the moneys allowed. If the unemployed do not fill up the registration forms that is not my fault. I cannot be expected to go round and seek out the unemployed in every area.

You do not need to seek them out—they will seek you out.

Better allow the Minister to proceed.

Deputy Johnson says further he thinks it will be admitted, or rather that no one will deny, I think, is the phrase, that we view with anxiety the continuance of widespread and prolonged unemployment. A very general statement, but the implication is not to be neglected without proof or attempt at evidence that there is widespread and prolonged unemployment, while Deputy Davin says that there is more unemployment to-day than a year ago.

Disprove the statement.

The ordinary course with regard to a statement is that the person who makes the statement proves his case, or makes a prima facie case, and then there is a rebuttal.

The Minister is in a good position, as he has the facts.

I go further and say that the ordinary course of evidence is that when a person is in a particularly privileged position, and has access to documents, the rule of evidence turns about and the person with the documents should be asked to make the case. My documents are known to Deputy Johnson. I quoted figures from the Exchange, and I made the simple statement the other day when I was speaking on the industrial insured only that the position to-day is better than a year ago. I simply take two or three things into consideration. There have been at least a few thousand extra men employed in tariff industries over last year, and that about this time last year there may have been 300 employed on the Shannon Scheme while there are 2,500 now, and there are about 400 employed on the Beet Sugar Factory. These things alone are sufficient reason for me to say that the position to-day with regard to unemployment is better than last year.

How many agricultural workers have been thrown out of employment?

Why cannot the Deputy keep himself in a department? I spoke only of the industrial insured people, or such agricultural people as are brought into such things as the Shannon Scheme or the Beet Sugar Scheme—I will leave the Barrow out of these calculations. Deputy Colohan contributed a further item, and when the phrase is used, "men willing to work and not able to find it," we know that it means willing to work on conditions and rates which are considered the standard and which some union has made for them. That is an addition which must be made in the future when it is said that there are people willing to work and cannot get it.

Does the Minister contend that the workers on the Barrow are satisfied with 30/- a week?

I want to get clear as to where we are. We are told, and a piteous appeal is made for them, that people are anxious to work and not able to find it, but we now find brought in as an argument backing that statement up that there is a certain number of people engaged in the Barrow at 30/- a week. Incidentally our abused Shannon Scheme might easily have had good effect up around the Barrow area.

I say you should have given the same wages on the Barrow as on the Shannon.

We got, further, a statement from Deputy Johnson that the measures are inadequate. I waited to hear proof of that.

The Minister knows nothing at all about it.

It is a scandal. You are quibbling with words for the last five minutes.

The measures are inadequate! I am facing the resolution which states that the measures are inadequate.

You are facing nothing. You are quibbling with words. It is scandalous and callous treatment of hungry people in this country.

I am facing the unemployment situation as put up by the representatives of the unemployed.

Can the Minister say that there are no hungry people in the country to-day?

If we are going to have a debate conducted on the lines of——

I must appeal to Deputies to maintain order.

Ask the Minister to deal with the matter seriously.

Deputy Corish will have an opportunity of speaking afterwards.

We want no more quibbling. Deal with the situation, as it should be dealt with, like a Christian.

Not in this cynical sneering way.

I want to be allowed to continue properly.

You will when you deal with the matter seriously.

I must again appeal to Deputies to maintain order.

In regard to the inadequacy of the measures, there was one measure referred to on which there was some comment as to inadequacy— housing. Somebody put up the proposition that Local Authorities had not been allowed to spend money on housing schemes in their areas.

I may point out that I made the remark in connection with housing that the Local Authorities could not get money for housing. The Minister is not entitled to misrepresent the case I made.

Deputies must allow the Minister to proceed.

He is not proceeding.

Inadequacy with regard to the question of housing! They could not get money! From whom? From the Government?

From the banks. You know perfectly well. If the Minister does not, the Government knows it.

From the banks! Very definitely the single item put forward here is that the banks are the people who are holding up housing schemes in local areas. That is put forward here as a complaint against the Government regarding the measures.

It is a complaint in regard to your inactivity, and rightly so.

Tell us what you are going to do in regard to the unemployed.

I will tell you. I will go on in my own way or I will not go on at all.

That is what you would like.

The Deputy is assisting me in my desires because he is interrupting so much I can very easily stop. There have been adequate measures which the local authorities have not been able to avail of. I have here certain information about road schemes. For 26 counties in the country a sum of £652,000 has been allocated to county councils.

That is all nonsense.

That £652,000 is to be paid over to the county councils as soon as the work is completed. If the work is completed to-morrow the money will be paid.

Amongst 62,000 unemployed.

I must ask Deputies to refrain from interrupting the Minister. They will get an opportunity of replying to the Minister's statement.

This is unwelcome talk. There are 26 counties which have received £650,000, and they have only been able to spend

It is not the case that the money is not available or that the unemployed are not available. I want to make the conjunction between the two things. I wonder does the Deputy refer to his own case. He came forward with a scheme for tarring roads in wet weather which would have been a most unbusinesslike proposition.

Would the Minister tell us when this happened? I do not remember it.

The Deputy may not have read the scheme he brought forward, but that is what it amounted to. There was a sum of £650,000 at the disposal of the county councils for a national road scheme. That is divided amongst 27 local authorities.

And there are £150,000,000 in the banks also.

Surely the Deputy should restrain himself and try to have an answer to the set of figures that are being put to him. Can the Deputy give me an answer to this? As far as Government assistance is concerned the Government has done apparently more than the people can absorb; they have at least sanctioned payment and the money is ready to be paid out the moment schemes are put up. Of the £650,000 allocated only £70,000 has been availed of.

resumed the Chair.

I challenge the Minister to disprove, notwithstanding all he claims for the Government, that there are more unemployed in the coun try than there was at any time since the Free State came into power.

The Minister is not concluding the debate. He is merely intervening in the debate, and if eight Deputies make a speech on a particular side surely another Deputy is entitled to speak on the other side. When the Minister has concluded Deputy Morrissey can speak. If Deputies do not agree with the Minister they can speak after him, but if they prevent him from speaking it simply leads to the conclusion that they do not want to hear him. Surely they raised this matter in order to hear him and not to prevent him from being heard.

On a point of explanation, I might point out that this motion was put down to have a discussion on this matter. We thought the Government was prepared to deal with the matter seriously. If the Minister is prepared to deal with the matter seriously he will get all the order and all the respect he is entitled to, but if the Minister seeks to deal with the matter in a flippant, sneering, cynical manner, we are not going to sit down here to listen to it.

I have not heard sufficient of the Minister to know what kind of speech he is making, but I think it would be better for us to hear him for a certain time now and let us judge whether he is serious or not. He may have points to make which have not been reached yet and which cannot be reached unless he is allowed to proceed. If the Minister is in order he must be allowed to speak.

I presume also that when I am going to be allowed to speak, you are to judge when I am to be interrupted and not Deputy Morrissey. To get back to this Road Fund, there is money waiting for the unemployed, more than the county councils have been able to absorb, and as long as this £570,000 is still available out of moneys for which sanction has been given—there is £1,260,000 to be spent on these roads alone—I cannot see that there has been no adequate provision for the relief of unemployment. Deputy Davin has spoken of the Leix district and says there is only £500 in hands. I understood him to say for ordinary road maintenance work on a certain date——

Yes, I got the figure last Saturday.

That, of course, has nothing to do with the money to which I am referring, but I wonder would Deputy Davin have any knowledge of what the Leix Council did when they were striking the rate, and as to whether they acted in accordance with what the Surveyor thought would be necessary for the maintenance of the roads. They cut it down, I understand.

Did the Minister for Local Government take any action?

He encouraged them to do it.

As regards that, it was turned down by the Council and not through any interference from the Local Government Department.

That is just my point.

Turned down by the Council.

Without any interference from the Local Government Department, although they knew it could not meet the situation as far as the normal maintenance work was concerned.

So that the County Council is directly responsible for the fact that there is only £511 there.

Your party are in a majority on the Council.

I do not think that is fair. I think we are about even.

Might I intervene to ask the Minister does he think that these trunk roads are run to to suit the unemployed in every district and to absorb all that money?

I can make this point: that when only such a small amount as £70,000 out of a grant of £652,000 has been availed of, nobody can say that the Government is at fault in the matter of the big unemployment in any of these counties.


The Minister knows that the trunk roads are run at every disadvantage to tap centres of unemployment, and that the trunk roads can not be run through all places where unemployment exists.

Might I ask the Minister a question?

I may make a suggestion to the Minister, and it is that he should move the closure; there is no other method for arriving at a decision in this matter.

You might as well.

I have given Deputies on this side of the House as much liberty as they are entitled to, and more liberty than they are entitled to under the rules of the House, and they will have to respect the Chair. Deputy Hogan knows that he will have an opportunity of speaking later. He has not spoken yet, but the only method of conducting a debate is to listen to a speech and make another speech against it.

There can be no such thing as a debate on unemployment unless the Minister for Industry and Commerce is allowed to make a speech. There can be no debate on unemployment by means of questions, not asking for information but inviting the Minister to make a statement of some kind. If Deputies do not want a debate, then we can conclude. If they do want the debate, I put it to their own good sense that the Minister must be allowed to proceed. A motion has been made to sit late. We can sit late and we can hear what everybody has to say. What is happening now is that we are hearing only one side. We have heard one side very fully. We should hear the other side now. It may not be very palatable, but at least it must be heard. That is what Deputies come here for. If we get into the position that a person speaking on a particular side is going to be continually interrupted by what is really a series of small speeches we cannot conduct the debate. I suggest to Deputies that I should be given an opportunity of hearing the Minister for Industry and Commerce myself and of making up my mind as to the tone of the Minister's speech of which complaint is made——

Is it in order to ask the Minister a question at this stage?

It is not in order to interrupt the Minister at all, even to ask him for information, but, as I said before, I am not against interruptions—they keep us awake. I have never been against interruptions. Whatever would Deputy Davin do if I had been against interruptions? I do not know. Deputy Davin and perhaps some of the members of the Ministry would have disappeared long ago.

I am not such a bad fellow as all that.

The most intelligent form of interruption— I will put it like that—is, at the end of a speech, to ask questions for information, but to ask the Minister argumentative questions—it is obstruction. We are approaching now a position when we are not going to have any interruptions at all allowed. Speaking for myself, I would be very sorry to see the day when no interruptions would be allowed; I enjoy them thoroughly, but I must say that what we have at this stage is not interruptions at all: it is simply obstruction, an endeavour to prevent the Minister speaking. One of the functions of the Chair is to protect the minority, but the majority has some rights too. There is no constitutional provision to make the Minister for Industry and Commerce responsible for members, alleged to belong to his party, on county councils. We will have to leave county councils out of it; the Minister for Industry and Commerce is not responsible for them.

I am told that the main centres of unemployment are not touched by the road money. I rather understood that the trunk road schemes joined up the main towns, and to that extent it certainly touches the main spots where unemployment is bad. When Deputy Norton comes forward with his specific for unemployment— that there should be a loan raised and put at the disposal of the local authorities for schemes—my answer is that the money put at the disposal of the local authorities for a particular type of scheme has not been availed of. The money has been set out on the basis of some estimate as to the cost of repairing the roads in certain places. At the same time it has not been availed of. I do not think the Government can be asked to do any more than to say that two millions of money is going to be spent on roads and that they are pushing forward that as a policy deliberately chosen in order to relieve unemployment in the country. That is the response we got, and notwithstanding the fact that the money is there and has not been availed of, we have these complaints of inadequacy as to the measures taken.

I had to refer to that because there was a complaint that there was a failure to provide local authorities with money for a particular type of housing scheme. My answer is that the proportion likely to be employed and not now employed is very small; and. secondly, as a counter to it, that there is a huge amount of money ready to be spent and that the people are not able to spend it. I have made a reference already to a summary on the question of the tariffed industries and the employment given on the Shannon, Sugar Beet and the Barrow Schemes. On these schemes alone I simply founded the statement I made the other day that as far as industrial employment is concerned the situation to-day is better than it was this time a year ago. I received a summarised report from the Department of Agriculture in which their opinion is that as far as the agricultural workers are concerned the position is better than it was this time last year.

Might I ask the Minister for Lands and Agriculture from what source was that information supplied? Was it from the Gárda?

With regard to agricultural labourers, no. There are agricultural inspectors and instructors and County officials of the different departments who have a knowledge of agricultural conditions in the country, and they supplied the information. I have been met to-day, as is constantly occurring in debates on this matter— and I think it was Deputy Johnson brought it forward first—with the viewpoint which comes to this: that the information available to my Department, or from it to the public, as regards the number of unemployed is not accurate and cannot be considered to be accurate, and we get the usual point put up that the live claims, current register, that is, claims that have been adjudicated upon and allowed, show the number of people who have contributions to credit, and who, therefore, are signing with a definite object, and whose object is about to be achieved. Beyond that we have what is called the live register, the number registered as unemployed, and we are told that that is a completely inaccurate summary, because only those register who think they are going to get benefit.

That I deny as an accurate statement of fact. I take a six months' period, and I find that throughout the difference between the number of persons registered as unemployed and the number of claims current is such that there is a difference running between the two, running through the six months' period, of about 7,000 people, and that keeps pretty steadily there without variation. That means that there are people coming on our registers; that we include all those who have contributions to their credit who may at some time become unemployed; and we have in addition to that something about 35 per cent. of the entire registered people who have not claimed and who, therefore, are registered as unemployed, although, according to the views put forward by Deputy Johnson, they should not be there at all.

The curious thing is that between that proportion of 65 to 70 per cent., of the entire number regularly unemployed is very much the proportion between the industrially insured and the insured for purposes of the National Health Insurance Acts. A glance at the figures and a comparison with what I have just stated lead one to the conclusion that there is very little unemployment which is not notified in the ordinary register, very little unemployment indeed.

I would like to have that point cleared up, if I may be allowed to ask the Minister to do so. Do I understand him to say that the conclusion he draws from that statement is that the numbers registered as unemployed approximate to the actual number of unemployed?

Yes, of the industrial type. Now I come to the other part of the resolution. It is proposed to "disapprove of the Government's decision not to introduce legislation to amend the Unemployment Insurance Acts so as to provide subsistence for workers unable to find employment." I told Deputy Johnson, in answer to a question here the other day, that the Fund was now in the condition that there was a deficit of £1,515,000, and that in the ordinary way it would take fifteen years to make the Fund decently solvent. Notwithstanding that, it is proposed that we should amend the Unemployment Insurance Acts so as to provide subsistence for workers unable to find employment. Deputy Johnson went a little further to-day and said even if it does become insolvent it can always be re-made by a grant. That is a better and more honest way in which to face the position. What is now being asked is not a contribution to be voted from certain classes of the community but that the taxpayers should foot the bill for whatever is necessary to pay all the people in the country unemployment benefit so long as they are out of work.

Yes, to keep them alive.

Now, let it be viewed in that way. All I was indicating was that there is no reason whatever to amend the Acts so as to allow for extended benefit. It may seem that that is an academic distinction, but it is not. It is my anxiety to realise what the state of that Fund is, and I want to preserve what I believe to be a useful piece of social legislation. I believe that useful legislation will disappear if there is any attempt to put on that Fund extra demands. If any greater deficiency arises in connection with that Fund there is only one way to meet it, and that is to increase the contributions from the employers and those who find employment in industrial occupations for a generation. Does anybody think that industry is in so flourishing a state that any extra burden could be thrown particularly on the class who have to pay under the Unemployment Acts, so as to keep the Fund in such a state that it eventually will become solvent? This is not a mere academic point. If there is to be any demand for this let the machinery of the Employment Exchanges which are there be used. The administrative expenses are running against them and they might as well be utilised. Let it be faced that what is demanded is a grant not to be met from industry. That is what I cannot and will not advise, a grant to be made by the taxpayers generally for the relief of an unnamed, undiscovered number of unemployed for an indefinite period as long as they remain out of employment. That is the situation, and that is what the resolution suggests. There can be no question of amending the Unemployment Insurance Acts so as to let the thing run against the Fund that has been built up on a contributory basis.

I was anxious to-night to hear from the Labour benches some idea on their part as to the numbers out of employment at the moment, that is to say, the people who are vaguely described as people willing to work and unable to find it; and how long, in their estimation, is that state likely to last, and what sum of money per week is supposed to be covered by the term "subsistence." Because it is on that one has to make a calculation. The normal thing in the benefit year is that twenty-six weeks' benefit is allowed, provided there are contributions against it. To give that to a man and to give the ordinary unemployment benefit to a man for a half-year would cost £20 to £22. These have to be averaged. All are not adults drawing 17/- a week, but let us take 17/- a week as a fair average, and it is going to cost £20 to £23 to keep a man for the normal benefit, say 26 weeks out of 52 weeks. I would like to have some idea from the Labour benches as to how many men are to be provided. This is a thing into which finance must enter. I heard a statement the other day from Deputy A. Byrne. He was talking about the coal question. He said, quite honestly, I am sure, that he did not care who paid for it. But somebody must take care who pays for it. Deputy Davin spoke of the policy of the Government in reducing purchasing prices. I suppose the counter to that would be that we should all get better salaries and better wages. Where is the fund out of which this is to come? If there is any money stagnant in this country, and not being put into industry and employed, then there is the case for that. But let those people with soft hearts who talk in this ill-defined fashion about an indefinite number of workmen being paid for an indefinite time, get to hard economic facts and look up the Blue Books for some time.

Provide them for us and then we will look them up.

The Deputy has at least enough to go on to make a case with regard to prices. I would like to hear him if he has any estimate of his own——

I am prepared to take the Minister on his own figures.

I am referring to claims current as against the live register.

The case I have made was on the basis of the Minister's own figures, and I dealt with the fact that there are 22,496 on the register today—or at least there were on the register last week—as compared with 21,931 in July. There are over 21,000 persons who want work and cannot get it. What is the Minister going to do with them?

There are not persons—there are claims current——

The figures given by the Minister related to the number of unemployed on the register on the 12th July, 1926, and that number was 21,931. I am not talking about insurance claims but about the number of persons registered.

We register claims; we never register individuals as current claims. If a man makes a claim which has been adjudicated upon and passed, and if that man gets employment even for a day, and comes out of that employment again and re-applies, that would mean two claims, although the claims related to a single person. I am not going to say that there is any big difference between the number of persons and the number of claims.

You referred to the number of unemployed on the register.

What is referred to are claims. I take it there are twenty-two thousand claims or persons —take it either way—registered, representing unemployed, of whom, say, about sixteen thousand have claims current. The remainder are the unemployed; that is to say, the remainder are those who at some time registered as unemployed and who are not getting benefit from our register. But they may be getting benefit elsewhere; they may be getting benefit from a number of places and from any number of schemes. There is no investigation of a person registering as unemployed until the question arises of paying on a contribution; then there is an investigation as to whether certain conditions have been fulfilled. There is an investigation to find out if the person is out of work, if he is available for suitable employment, and if it is true that he cannot find suitable employment.

Now, as regards the twenty-two thousand on the register, every one of these without a claim current may be actually in employment at the moment of registration. When one gets the problem down to some sort of a definite stage, and when one begins to realise the situation, there are other aspects that present themselves. If one considers it desirable that money should pour out plentifully, one should not omit to look at the other side of the picture and see what are the reserves of this State with regard to meeting claims of this sort.

I would like to know what has been the approach of Labour leaders ordinarily to the conditions in this country during the last two or three years. I would like to know how far has there been any attempt to change Trade Union regulations which may have been very suitable for normal times of unemployment and industrial activity, but which one might expect would have been re-adjusted to meet periods when the wheel of industrial work was not going round as fast as might be desired. What appreciation has there been on the part of men actually in employment of the difficulty of getting employment?

Deputy Norton, in the course of his speech, put the question: Is it easier to get a job now than it was four years ago? I would like to place before him a list of the cases reported to me week by week of people who are in employment and who think fit to stop their employment for two or three days because of demands they make, ninety per cent. of the demands never being conceded. Casually, and you might almost say light-heartedly, they leave their employment in order to press a claim which is not conceded and those men go back to work on the old rates. That may not be considered a conclusive answer, but it is just as conclusive as anything that Deputy Norton has put up with regard to the ease of people getting into occupations.

As I have stated, there are people who very light-heartedly leave their occupation for the purpose of pressing claims which, in the majority of cases, are never granted. If those people were able to press their claims successfully, one would not mind at all.

Are you the judge of whether it is right or wrong for these people to leave their work?

I am not speaking of whether it is right or wrong for them to leave their employment; I am speaking mainly in reference to the Deputy's question: Is it easier to get a job now than it was four years ago? If conditions are so bad, and if men are in employment, surely they should be at least anxious to stay in that employment, and surely they might be prepared to tolerate things that ordinarily they would not tolerate? But, as it is, there are men who leave their employment for certain periods in order to press claims that, in the majority of cases, are never conceded. If conditions were really so bad, and if those men had the support of public opinion behind them, one would not mind, but in ninety per cent. of the cases the men who leave their employment come back on the old terms, and sometimes they come back on worse terms.

Do you think because they are in employment people should take anything that the bosses care to prescribe for them?

My argument is directed to the tendency of people who go out of their employment light-heartedly. When they can do a thing like that, it does not seem to be on all fours with the conditions existing around them, and I am sure if such bad conditions exist they would have observed them.

Will that apply to the mutiny in 1924?

How do you know that they go out of their employment light-heartedly?

That is my interpretation of the frequency with which cases of the sort come up. I have already indicated that in the majority of the cases the demands that are put up are not acceded to. The phrase may not be quite a correct one, but in passing I am using it.

You are dealing with this whole problem very light-heartedly.

Has there been any appreciation on the part of men who have been in employment for a considerable number of years past that —to speak generally—if one were to compare the rise in wages as between now and 1914 and set it against the rise in the cost of living as between now and 1914, the wages are considerably in advance of the rise in the cost of living?

Even on the Shannon Scheme?

I say, taking it on the average, that the cost of living in this country represents not merely an increase in the price of certain commodities which people paid in 1914, but it represents also an increase in the standard of living.

Are you sorry?

Do you deprecate that?

I am making an argument and I am putting in a sentimental expression which I am sure the Deputy feels the force of as much as I do. There is this fact, and I want to have some appreciation of it: may it not be that there is a certain reservoir of wages in this country to be paid, and if certain people take more out of the pool than what it can give, is it not likely that their fellows will have to suffer? There has been nothing done with regard to the whole industrial situation in this country on the part of Labour people except to stage a debate here twice a year.

You should be a member of the Employers' Federation.

I repeat there has been nothing done at all on the part of Labour people.

What about the increase in the profits and what about the dividends?

That is again one of the things that Deputy Davin says light-heartedly. You can get figures with regard to wages, figures that will show the rise as between 1914 and to-day, and you can get an easy comparison on the cost of living. I will take up Deputy Davin on his own point as soon as he shows me where I can get figures to indicate where increased profits and dividends were paid in a big way.

Take Guinness's balance sheet, which was published for your own information.

Will the Minister say that the standard of living in 1914 was adequate to keep a human being in existence?

I have said that the rise in the curve of the cost of wages is a bigger rise than that in the curve showing the cost of living. The cost of living curve here does not, as in England, represent simply a rise in prices. It represents an increased standard, not merely a mere increase in prices of certain commodities. Despite that fact, you have the fact that the curve with regard to wages is higher than that with regard to the cost of living. I put it to the House that there has been nothing on which it can go to pass this motion. I do not know if anybody will urge at this moment that there should be a certain amendment of the Unemployment Insurance Act in order to provide workers who are unemployed with a means of livelihood. That would lead to a demand for higher contributions both from the employed and the employers. If the employers and those employed in industrial work came afterwards and made a case that it is unfair that they should be picked out for this extra burden it could not be denied that their case was a sound one. That might lead to the reduction of insured classes to a very limited number or to the abolition of the Act altogether. No one wants to see legislation of that type disappearing. The demand is for Government contribution to provide subsistence for workers who are unable to get employment. The amount to be subscribed by the Government is indefinite. Nobody talked of it in figures or as to what period it is to be given. If it was talked of in that way we could see what it meant. As regards the inadequacy of the measures, I have given the big example that must occur to everybody who knows the facts with regard to moneys supplied from Government resources and unavailed of.

Will the Minister give the figures showing the amounts out of the £650,000 already allocated either to Cork, Offaly, or any other authority administered by Commissioners, how much was spent in the area and how many men were employed?

I cannot give that. I could give the amount for each county, the amount of the grants asked for and the amount approved.

Can you contradict the statement that in Offaly none of the money allocated out of the £650,000 has been spent so far? If so, who is responsible?

I may say with regard to Offaly that, in addition to the money given in connection with the National Road scheme they have a special grant of £9,600 on a special scheme, and they have their proportion of the ordinary road maintenance money.

Is the Minister aware that that £9,600 was sanctioned to be spent on the 25th September last? Is he now in a position to say whether even one man has been employed?

I would be almost glad to hear that no man has been employed so far, as that would mean that there is now something over £9,000 in Offaly to meet unemployment for the next few months.

Who is responsible for answering the statement that that money has not been spent in that particular county?

That I cannot say. The allegation, apparently, is that the Commissioners, or some officials, are responsible.

There is no county council there.

The Deputy can get that information by means of an ordinary question. Offaly is in the strong position of having a certain sum of money allocated to it, none of which has been spent, and there is a considerable amount in hands to meet the problem of unemployment.

The Minister for Local Government is responsible for the action of the Commissioner.

I have no special touch with that. That is a departmental problem for the Department concerned. Has it anything to do with the general statement I made? When Deputy Norton talked of raising a loan to be put at the disposal of the local authority for the purpose of relieving unemployment——

I suggest that it has a good deal to do with the charge you made, that the responsibility for not spending the money is with the local authority. In this case it is the Commissioner. Whom is the Commissioner responsible to?

Let me take the areas in which there are Commissioners. What impression has that made on the general statement that out of the £650,000 thus given only £70,000 has been spent?

Will the Minister read out how the allocation has been made?

Wexford, £36,976.

Which it has not yet got, as the Minister would not allow it. The county council wanted the work done by direct labour, but the Minister wanted it done by contract.

The money is there.

The money is not there.

Up to this the argument has been about the Government not providing adequate money. There was a sum of £2,000,000 talked of, and, according to Deputy Norton, it is to be partly loan. Naturally, the schemes have to be approved. There is this big amount of money. When I talk, not exactly of the delay on the part of local authorities, but when I say that money has been available and when I am told that the unemployed are available, I think it ought to be easy to effect a junction between the two. It is not done, and nobody can say that it is the fault of the Central Government. As to the inadequacy of the measures taken by the Government to find employment, I must say that I fail to see it. The single thing alleged to-night was the matter of housing schemes that were stopped, but we heard that that was due to the action of the banks. I make no advertence to the Shannon scheme, to the Barrow drainage, to the sugar beet factory, to the tariffs in industry or to many other things. I am not going into these and other matters, such as housing.

How much was spent under the Arterial Drainage Act of 1925?

The Deputy can ask that by means of ordinary Parliamentary question.

The Minister should give it.

The Minister is not supposed to produce figures as a conjurer produces rabbits out of a hat. The Deputy can put down a question and get an answer, and, if he does not get a proper answer, he can express his dissatisfaction and have the matter debated.

The Sitting was suspended at 7 and resumed at 7.50 p.m., An Ceann Comhairle in the Chair.

I simply want to reiterate again, with regard to this resolution, that the statement I made in the House a few days ago is evidenced by the fact that employment as far as those in industry are concerned, is not worse but is definitely better than it was this time a year ago. I gave a certain number of facts on which I based that assertion. I say that for anyone to deplore "the inadequacy of the measures so far taken by the Government to ensure opportunities of employment for unemployed workers and disapprove of the Government's decision not to introduce legislation to amend the Unemployment Insurance Acts so as to provide subsistence for workers unable to find employment" is absurd on the case presented to-night, and is rendered even more ludicrous by the facts I stated with regard to the one single item of relief measures.

In that connection I ask has there been any reaction on Labour's part by way of readjusting its old-time attitude to meet the difficulties of the situation, which they contend is very grave. Deputy Corish more or less admitted that a sum of almost £39,000 is being held up from distribution in Co. Wexford on a particular item. The question involved there was: "Is the scheme going to be carried through by direct labour or on a contract basis?" I hope the unemployed in Co. Wexford will realise this point, that this money is being held up from circulation in that county by reason of the adherence to that point by a certain number of Labour people.

On a point of explanation, it is not because of a certain number of Labour people. It was a unanimous vote, and the Council consisted of 13 farmers, 13 Labour members, and an independent Chairman.

I regret to have to say that Deputy Corish's statement is not correct. It was not a unanimous vote of the County Council. To my knowledge there was a minority of nine. I think the Council was composed of 27 members, the majority of whom were in favour of direct labour. I am confident that nine were in favour of contract work. Deputy Corish's statement is not a right one. I state these facts on behalf of the County Council.

That was the original motion, but when the majority agreed that part of the machinery could be purchased out of the grant everyone agreed that the work should be done under direct labour.

Leaving out Deputy Doyle's protest—not that I am neglecting it—which I think is a factor that must be taken into consideration, and admitting what Deputy Corish said, there is the grant of £39,000, and it is not circulating in Wexford now, but it might circulate, if there was not this insistence on direct labour. I hope Deputy Corish will explain that to the people whom he represents. I also hope that Deputy Davin will ask the people whom he speaks for to cast their minds back to the fact that the County Council turned down the surveyor's estimate of moneys or a rate required for road work and maintenance. Let them find out who were present that day and who made a case that the rate based on the surveyor's estimate should not be struck. Let them see if it was better some months ago to have got some political advantage by closing down the rates, rather than accepting the proposal of the Central Government.

Leaving out of consideration the amount of money to be spent in Leix and Offaly under the national road scheme, I want to stress again this matter of road moneys: There is a £2,000,000 grant, and the demand put in came to over £750,000. The proposals that have been approved amount to £652,000, and £70,000 has been spent. If the £652,000 or the £750,000 has all been spent there is still £1,250,000 to dispense, and further, there is, of the road money alone, probably another half million of money outstanding, devoted to county councils under various grants submitted, starting so far back as 1923. There is a sum of half a million outstanding for absorption by county councils for the relief of unemployment. That is not for the national road and trunk scheme but in regard to bridge building, road maintenance and repairs. On that alone—I take nothing else into consideration—there is no reason for deploring the inadequacy of the measures so far taken by the Government to ensure opportunities of employment.

Finally, I say with regard to this resolution, that nobody has yet mentioned any reason on which one could found a resolution of disapproval of the Government's decision not to introduce legislation to amend the Unemployment Insurance Acts. It is the easiest possible decision to take, and the consequences may be such as the Labour Party may not like. A very clear claim could be made by employers and those employed in industry if the extra burden were to be placed on them to provide additional moneys by way of increased contributions, so as to make that fund approach something like solvency in a generation. On the whole, I cannot see how this resolution is going to be passed. I hope that if a resolution such as this is brought forward in future we will have some attempt made to get figures and give an estimate of the amount of money involved. Let us be told the number of people involved, and how long they are to be kept in subsistence. Let us have the Labour Party's idea of what money should be given, covering this term of "subsistence," and let them tell us what money has to be provided by the Central Government at the expense of the taxpayers of the country.

It is to be hoped that the attitude adopted by the Minister for Industry and Commerce in this debate is due to his ignorance of the actual position. I would not like to think that he would adopt that attitude from a full knowledge of the actual position. I think that when some of us interrupted the Minister, particularly when he started his speech, to say that he was dealing with the matter in a flippant and sneering way, we were not saying anything unfair to the Minister. At certain periods during his speech he dealt with the matter a little more seriously. But I want to submit that no Minister should deal with this question affecting the lives of many thousands of citizens in the same manner as he would deal with so many tons of broken stone or so many bits of machinery. During my four or five years in this House I have never listened to any Minister deal with the question in such a flippant way; never listened to any Minister avoid the real issues, and never heard any Minister deal with it in such a cold, matter-of-fact way, just as if he was dealing with bits of machinery instead of human beings. The Minister gets his knowledge of the position from figures supplied by his officials, and we know that figures are very cold. I am not trying to suggest that his officials are supplying him with figures that are not correct, but I am going to suggest that the officials are not in a position to be able to give the Minister information which would enable him to judge the actual position as regards unemployment. The Minister has theoretical knowledge, but some of us have actual practical knowledge of the position.

Perhaps the Minister is not to be blamed for not having practical knowledge. Perhaps he has not the same opportunity of getting into touch with the unemployed and with the poor that we have. Perhaps it is not his fault that his lot is not cast amongst the poor and miserable. But if the Minister were in a position that some of us are in, if he knew that some of the members of his own family were unemployed and were suffering, or if he had been unemployed himself, as some of us have been, and knew from practical experience what it meant, I suggest, with all respect, that the Minister would not deal with the matter in the sneering, flippant way in which he has dealt with it. We go down to our constituencies—some of the Deputies behind the Minister, if they were to speak, could tell him perhaps the same story that I am telling him—and we have to meet and talk to these men and women that are unemployed. We have to listen to their pitiable tales when they come to us and beg us to give them a note to the assistance officer on a Saturday night so that they may get three or four shillings to provide food for themselves and their children. The Minister or his colleagues have not the opportunity of going into those houses and satisfying themselves that the statements made by these people are true. The Minister has not had the opportunity that I have had within the last fortnight of going into at least a dozen houses in my own town in which there was no food or fire and in which children were hungry. In the last house I visited on last Monday night I found the mother and three children huddled around a few embers with sacks strewn on the ground to sop up the rain that had come through the roof and in through the back-door. It would be worth while for the Minister to take a fortnight to get a little actual experience of the conditions and not place so much reliance on his figures, such as they are. His outlook, I am sure, would be much different from what it is now, and that would be a help not only to the unemployed but to the country as a whole.

The Minister talks about the position being much improved industrially from what it was twelve months ago. He tells us of the numbers that have been employed on the Shannon scheme, in the beet factory, and on the Barrow drainage, as the result of tariffs. The Minister did not mention the number of factories that have shut down within the last twelve months, and I am going to put up the case, for the Minister to contradict it if he can, that there has been at least as many disemployed as the result of factories having been shut down in the last twelve months as have been employed in those which were opened. The Minister knows that as well as I do, and when he is talking about the numbers employed as a result of these schemes he should not forget the numbers disemployed.

All the Minister's talk about the money allocated to county councils is beside the point. The question at issue is: How many are unemployed to-day as compared with this day twelve months? Can the Minister say that the number is greater or less than it was this time twelve months? I submit that he cannot. It is very poor sympathy for any of us to say to an unemployed man that the Government have allocated £600,000 to county councils. The unemployed man would quickly ask: "What good is that to me; I have got none of it; I have not got an opportunity of getting any of it." The Minister talks about tests—that is the test and that is the fact. It is not a question of the amount of money allocated. We are dealing with the actual position, and we want to know from the Government what steps, if any, they are going to take to see that the money which they have provided is made available for those who are satisfied to work.

The Minister has made a good deal of play about county councils reducing the estimates of the county surveyors. This is not the first time that has been mentioned here. Twelve months ago we brought that matter before the House, and I suggested to the Dáil, and to the Minister for Local Government in particular, that it was not fair that county councils should be allowed to use grants given for the relief of unemployment in the relief of rates. That is what has happened. The real reason why county councils reduce the estimates of the county surveyors by 40 or 50 per cent. is because they are anticipating the grants which they expect to get from the Government. When the grants are given, what happens is this: there are not a great number of additional men employed, but the men who up to that time had been employed on the ordinary maintenance work are shifted on to other work and paid out of the grant. It is all very well for the Minister to say that £600,000 has been made available. If the schemes are ready and have been sanctioned, and the county councils are not doing the work, then I submit that it is the duty of the Government Department concerned to see that they get on with the work.

Is the Deputy in favour of the appointment of Commissioners?

There is no necessity for appointing Commissioners. What about the Commissioner in Offaly? What about the Commissioner in Cork and what about the Commissioner in Leitrim? The Local Government Department have a good many ways of dealing with county councils and urban councils without appointing Commissioners, and the Minister has machinery at his disposal to compel the county councils to do the work that has been sanctioned. Might I suggest that one of the reasons for the county councils refusing the county surveyors' estimates was due to that famous circular sent out by the Local Government Department asking them to economise at any cost?

I agree with the Minister for Industry and Commerce to this extent: that we ought to face matters fairly and frankly and deal with the position as it really is. I ask him or any other member of this House to prove that there are less people unemployed to-day than there were twelve months ago. I am doubtful if we will get that proof from any Minister. The Minister asked the Labour Party to produce figures to show how much should be paid to the unemployed and what the approximate cost would be, but the Minister himself is not able to produce figures that would show how many people are unemployed in the country. The Minister is only guessing, once he starts to deal with the unemployment problem. He has no figures and he has had to admit that. It is an extraordinary thing, if the number of the unemployed is so small as it is supposed to be—and the country is not very big—that the Minister, with all his unemployment offices scattered all over the country, costing seventy-five per cent. of the total amount allotted to his Department, cannot ascertain, with any degree of accuracy, the exact number unemployed in the country.

We have been told about all the schemes—the Barrow Drainage Scheme and the Shannon Scheme, etc. —but we have no figures as to the number of factories that have shut down in the last twelve months, and the numbers of men and women disemployed within the last twelve months, as a result of the closing down of these factories. The point was made, quite-rightly, by Deputy Johnson that it naturally follows there must be more unemployment at this particular time-in the country than there was in June or July. We know that to whatever extent the agricultural industry was able to absorb agricultural labourers during the summer it is only to a very small extent that it would be able-to employ them during the winter. Further, the Minister must know, and if he does not the Minister for Education could tell him, that, in all likelihood, this summer there were far less men employed on the lands than in the previous summer. I cannot but say that to my mind anyway, and I am sorry to have to say this, the Government have no real knowledge of the actual position, and are merely playing with the problem.

The Minister dismissed the motion by saying: "This is a thing that happens very often. We have had it two or three times within the last twelve months." Why has it been necessary to have two or three motions within the last twelve months? Of course, I know a very funny retort could be made by Deputies on the opposite side of the House. That might have a certain amount of truth if our outlook or knowledge of the unemployment problem and the plight of those unemployed was the same as theirs. But we are brought, daily, into touch with these matters, and we know, no matter what figures the Minister may have about the numbers registered, that, day after day, the number of workers who are entitled to draw unemployment benefit is steadily decreasing, and that unless a man is lucky enough to get at least three months in twelve. in an insurable occupation, he is not entitled to any unemployment benefit. If he is lucky enough to get three months' work in twelve, then he is entitled to a fortnight's unemployment benefit. But a man who cannot get any work or who gets work in an uninsurable occupation, such as an agricultural labourer, is not entitled to any unemployment benefit. The Minister knows all these things quite well. There is no question about that; he is thoroughly conversant with the work of his Department, and he is very well able to come in here and make a case, but I submit the reason the Minister had to adopt such an attitude and to use the tactics he has used this evening, was because he knew he had no case. I contend the case we have made that the position is worse to-day than it was twelve months ago is quite true.

I support the motion which has been moved by Deputy Johnson. Ever since 1922 the Labour Party, or some person interested in the workers, has had to raise such questions as this. The Minister for Industry and Commerce has outlined the amount of money that the Government has set aside for the relief of distress, but so far as the £2,000,000 road grant is concerned, no class of unemployed workers benefit under that only the unskilled labourers. We have, at present, hundreds of artisans, carpenters, bricklayers, tailors, joiners, and skilled labourers such as machine workers, and they get no benefit whatever from this grant. I put it to the Minister that if he followed the advice given by Deputy Morrissey to go down the country for one fortnight and visit the homes of the unemployed, he would gain some practical experience, and he would, then, be in a position to give his opinion upon such a question as this, and not depend entirely upon the figures supplied by his officials. When walking to-day from the County Hall to the station at Mullingar no less than fifty men stopped me and asked me if I could do anything to find employment for them. The President and the Minister for Education were in Athlone on Sunday last. I am sure that both are good judges of character, and would know distress when they saw it in a man's or a woman's face. I would like to know from them if, in the towns they went through on Sunday, they noticed distress in the faces of the people they met—distress due to the want of employment.

I did not.

Well, the distress exists in the town of Athlone. There are hundreds of people unemployed there. Three or four months ago I put a question to the Minister for Industry and Commerce as to the number of people unemployed in Athlone, Mullingar, and Longford. The reply I got was that there were 31 people in these places looking for unemployment benefit. That was an absolutely absurd statement, and it was ridiculous for any official to send such a return to the Department. At present there are over 2,000 people unemployed in that constituency. If the Government were prepared to provide employment in Westmeath and Longford for those who are unemployed, at least 2,000 men would be ready to come forward to take up work. I agree with Deputy Morrissey's description of the homes of the unemployed. These people are in a terrible condition altogether. I know that in parts of the country men have been unemployed for more than twelve months. Every bit of furniture they had has been sold. They even had to pledge the bed clothes to get some food. Now the Government, we are told, has given a grant of £2,000,000. and that £750,000 of that has already been sanctioned. I would like to know when the Minister for Finance will release the balance of £1,250,000.

When the other money is expended.

The amount of the grant for Westmeath has already been expended.

What about Longford?

Owing to the tactics of the Government the Longford County Council cut off the percentage allowed to the county surveyor and his assistants for working the grant. The surveyors have "struck" against working the grant. They are not going to carry out the work when they will not get paid for it. It is additional work, and the Government have decided not to allow the Council to give the percentage allowed heretofore to the surveyors for working the grants. In several places they have put the work up for contract. Where the work was done by direct labour it cost only 2s. 8d. per yard, but where it was done by contract it cost 5s. a yard, with an extra 20 per cent. as profit for the contractor. We are told that is going to relieve distress. At least 45 per cent. of the money has to be sent across to England for the purchase of the material to do the roads. There was a grant of £2,000 given for work in the town of Moate. Of that sum, £750 had to be spent in England on the material used in making the roads. You must use tar macadam in doing this work, and for that reason a large part of the money goes across to England. I put it to the Government that they will never relieve the distress that exists by these grants. It would be far better to encourage our industries. If the Government were to help our industries, then employment would be found for all sections of the people.

It would be well if the Government were to give grants for the building of labourers' cottages. You have thousands of families living in single rooms in different towns throughout the country. Some are living in tumbled-down shacks. If cottages were erected in the rural districts it would be far better for the country than the giving of grants. These housing schemes would give much-needed employment, and there would be a good return for the money voted. In the erection of the cottages carpenters, slaters and labourers would get work to do. The Government, of course, say they cannot do that: that all they can do is to give grants. There is to be a grant of £2,000,000 to make the roads nice for the motor people. When the roads are put in good condition, that will encourage motor transport, and then you will have three or four hundred railwaymen thrown out of employment. There will be no goods traffic on the railways, and the men will be told that they are not required. I put it to the Government that money should be voted for productive schemes. That, I hold, is the way to relieve the acute distress that prevails. As regards drainage schemes, the plans and specifications for these must be lodged with the county councils twelve months before a start can be made with any work. The result is that in neighbourhoods where work of this kind is promised men are absolutely starving. Yet we introduce legislation which provides that if these men are found in any kind of an organisation that is detrimental to the State they will be arrested, hungry and all as they are, and put behind iron bars. I agree with the Deputy who has just made the remark that when they are behind the iron bars they will get food to eat. My advice to the workers is not to remain behind the iron bars, but to insist on getting employment and bread for their children. The Government has been painting very nice pictures of all that it has done during the last four years, but look at the position we are in to-day with unemployment. Promises have been made that have not been fulfilled. The unemployed can no longer be satisfied with the false promises made to them.

I know that the question of unemployment is a difficult problem. I am sure the official Labour Party are quite prepared to give any assistance in their power, and as far as I am concerned I will do so. I think the Government should put forward a scheme that will be of some use to the State, relieve distress and provide permanent employment for the people. You have something like 12,000 or 13,000 ex-service men of the National Army unemployed, the majority of whom left good positions to join up when the appeal went out to them. Some of them were earning £4 or £5 a week. When these men were demobilised the President sent a nice mild letter around to county councils and employers asking that preference be given to ex-National Army men. Some of these men were clerks, joiners, painters, and decorators, and when demobilised they were not entitled to any benefit from the Labour Exchange, as they had not their cards stamped. I know dozens of children of ex-service men who have to go to school with an empty stomach and who get nothing to eat when they return in the afternoon. These are the children of men who were prepared to sacrifice their lives in the interest of the State. They helped to establish the Government and made it possible for the members of the Government to hold their positions. A road grant of £2,000,000 was given, but there are men who have to break stones at 3s. 6d., and in some places 2s., a cubic yard, which would be over a ton of stones. It is nothing more than slavery to ask men to break stones at 2s. a cubic yard. It is as bad as the wages paid in the time of the famine. I am surprised these men do not rise up and get some manhood in them and say: "We will make it too hot for the Government to function, and we will do with them as we did with those people we put down in the past." It will come to that if something is not done for the relief of distress.

There are many works in the country that could give employment to extra hands if they got some assistance. This time last year, I think it was, I brought forward a motion asking that a subsidy be given to existing industries. We could afford to pay out £800,000 last year to the Labour Exchanges for unemployment. That would not relieve half the number of those who suffer, because there are dozens of agricultural labourers who, not being in an insured occupation, are not entitled to draw unemployment benefit, and there are thousands of ex-servicemen who are not entitled to do so. If every employer in the State would employ an extra man and were given half that man's wages for twelve months it would be an encouragement to the employers to take on extra hands. I believe that at the end of twelve months the employers would be in a position to continue the services of the extra men and pay them out of the profits of their labour. There are many wealthy people in the country enjoying every possible luxury whilst the workers who were instrumental in making the wealth for them are in distress. These wealthy people will not invest their money to give employment, and the State will not invite those people who have capital lying idle in the banks to invest it in industries. I say if the Government wish they can have every man and woman in the Saorstát who is willing and able to work in permanent employment inside of three months, but I think it is not their intention to make a move to do so. In this unfortunate country we have been so much accustomed to slavery that the present Government may be of opinion that if it came to the relief of the workers the workers might not come to the assistance of the State, or might abuse the wages they get for their labour. From the Government point of view they probably think it is better to keep them idle, for if another rising took place, or if anything happens to the State. they might not find it so easy to get volunteers for the National Army. I hope this will be the last time any Deputy will have to appeal to the Government regarding the relief of distressed unemployed. I could bring forward no fewer than 200 cases of acute distress where people are absolutely starving. That is in one constituency alone. Things are so bad that shopkeepers who a few years ago employed two or three men are now employing only one. and where one or two were employed the work is now being done by an apprentice.

In one particular case, where a woollen factory formerly employed 800 hands, there is now work only for 340 hands, and they are only working five days a week. Sawmills which formerly employed 148 are closed down. There are nine men employed there where formerly there were 148. The sawmills has changed hands, but they were idle for over three years. If the Government were serious at the time, they could very easily invest some money in this concern. The place could have been bought for £1,500. They could easily have invested in that industry to give employment and to have kept these 148 persons working. Any profit they would have made would have come back into the funds of the State. That, however, was out of the question; it was too tall an order for the Government. At present in Mullingar there is no industry whatever, and there are over 300 men walking the streets idle. At least 50 men came to me to-day from one town. In every small village you have unemployment. Any small farmer who can possibly raise enough money either by a loan or by selling a beast, if he has one to sell, is paying his sons' or daughters' passage to foreign countries where they can make a living.

We have a State that is quite capable of maintaining six or seven million people, and at the present moment we have a population of some 200,000 less than three million. Go to any station throughout the country any day in the week and you will always find a father or mother or some relative bidding good-bye to their young people. It breaks their very hearts to part with these young people. You will find that father or mother very often not in a position to pay the land annuity, and the first thing that happens is that a writ is issued against them and they are sold out. The question of unemployment can be dealt with by the Government, but road schemes will never succeed in solving the industrial question. They will never give employment to the number of people who want employment. We find that the Longford County Council—it is a disgraceful thing to have to mention in this House—by a majority vote gave all the main roads for contract. The wages paid by the County Council to their labourers was 28/6 per week, but as a result of the action of the Council, where seven men were employed two men are now doing the work. They are paid the large sum of £1 per week each—£1 a week to maintain a wife and children, to pay rent, and to clothe them.

The Government sanctioned that scheme of the Longford County Council. They gave the roads to the contractors, with the result that you have practically 95 per cent. of the working men of County Longford unemployed at the present time. County Longford is, I think, one of the hardest-hit counties in the entire Saorstát. Why? I am sorry to say because members of the Farmers' Union are in a majority on the County Council. Their sole hobby is to get all the roads under contract, to reduce the wages of the staff, to pay no rates; taxation is too high. In the end the unfortunate employee— they go down to the very gutter—the man who sweeps the road, is the first to be made the victim of the economy outcry. At present you have starvation in the homes of the workmen, and a lot of it is due to the action of the County Council. The Government sanctioned that scheme, whereby the roads are not maintained sufficiently at the present time. The men could not do it at the money. What is even worse, there were so many people looking for the contracts that in a case where the County Surveyor specified £50, the road was let for £20. The Government sanctioned that scheme, and the men cannot blame the County Surveyors. They must blame the Government who sanctioned the scheme.

I put it to the Government that if it is their intention to relieve distress amongst the unemployed they will not succeed in doing so by road work. There must be some industries to give employment. There must be industries created and permanently built up by the State. If necessary let a loan be raised for the purpose of starting industries which will give employment. Let us start creameries, condensed milk factories; let the farmers get more milch cows, produce more milk and make more butter. Let them start tanyards where they will be able to sell the hides and have been manufactured into leather. Perhaps one of them may be able to say afterwards: "I reared the beast; it wore the skin; now I wear it as a pair of boots." Let us get down to realities. It is impossible for any Government to relieve distress by road work. I am sure that if the Minister for Industry and Commerce had a true and accurate return of the number unemployed in the country it would be over 200,000. In reply to a question put by me, I was told there were 80,000. You have 80,000 unemployed on the register and how many thousands more have you who are not registered? I am sure at the present time there are 200,000 unemployed.

We are told that the road grants, the drainage of the Barrow and the Shannon scheme are going to give an immense amount of work. I waited very patiently for the Shannon scheme to come to County Longford, but I think it will be like the old policy of the British House of Commons: "Wait and see." I think I will be waiting a long time. If it comes to County Longford they will get a number of workers to work for 32/- a week. If they were to offer 32/- to-day to every unskilled labourer I am sure they would get thousands of men to work for them. I must ask the Government, however, not to put artisans in the same category as unskilled labourers when they are fixing wages. The Government has sent down to every public body a circular letter advising them to economise and, as a result of that, the wages of the employees are reduced. Every local authority has done that, and every employer has adopted the same attitude.

The Deputy is wandering from the motion.

The result is that a large number who were earning wages are now unemployed. As a result of the circular letter a council which employed two or three hundred men has dismissed a number of them. I put it to the Government that if they want to do anything to relieve distress the first step they should take is to have a proper scheme of housing for labourers. They should also make an effort to start industries to give employment. If they confine themselves to this trunk road scheme they will never succeed.

The Minister stated that there was something like £650,000 available in the way of a grant for road construction. Following that, we have an assertion from another speaker that the county councils were responsible for the delay in availing of that grant and that when a grant was more or less forced on a county council they used it for the relief of rates by putting on men who had been previously in their employment. I cannot speak for county councils generally, but I can speak for the council of which I am a member. I say that that county council used every effort to get this grant as soon as possible for the relief of unemployment. Only a week or ten days ago a deputation was sent from the Kildare County Council to wait on the Chief Engineer of the Department of Local Government and Public Health to get his sanction to a scheme under this grant. The deputation consisted of the Chairman of the County Council, Deputy Colohan and myself. I think that showed that the members of the Kildare County Council were not indifferent to the problem of unemployment. I can say also that instructions were given to the officials of the County Council to see that men who were unemployed were put to work when those grants were available. I think it is not fair to make the sweeping assertion that county councils are responsible for the delay in putting those grants into operation.

This debate has disillusioned me to some extent. I thought this was an age of materialism. It seems to be an age of miracles. The dove has come out of the ark and it does not intend to return. The Minister for Industry and Commerce has left his hermitage and he comes into a world unknown to him. He finds this a land of milk and honey; there is no unemployment, there is no distress. there is £650,000 for anybody who will take it, but there is nobody to take it. The most he can make out of it is that there are about 60,000 people who do not want work. But the dove is not long out of the ark when he becomes a hawk and he asks the Labour Party here to bring forward figures to prove that there is unemployment. He asks the Labour Party to prove that there are scores of thousands of unemployed in this State. Imagine that from the head of a responsible Government Department: from a man who is responsible for the safety of the citizens, a member of the Executive Council who has joint responsibility for the care and well-being of every citizen in this State. Did anybody ever hear of such a preposterous proposition put forward from Ministerial benches? I refuse to accept the Minister's figures, and I tell the Minister candidly, and I tell the Executive Council of which he is a member, that he dealt with this problem this evening in a manner not befitting his position, in a manner entirely derogatory to his position, and that he should appreciate the fact without any references from these benches that there are thousands in want throughout the country to-day.

I put the position to the Minister without any reference whatever to his figures, for I refuse to accept them. I absolutely deny their accuracy, and I ask him to imagine what is the position of these unemployed men. Suppose a market was cut off from the distributing community of this country to-day; suppose there was no market for the sale of their produce; suppose there was no market for the farmer for the sale of his cattle, the sale of his butter, or any other dairy produce. Suppose any other party engaged in production had their market cut off and that they were left a burden on the entire State, what would their position be? Every party in the community would cry out that it was a disgrace. You have scores of unemployed throughout the country to-day who have only their labour to sell, and the Government say they have no cognizance of it. Where have they been all these months past? Have they locked themselves up? Have they not been in touch with the world? There are scores of thousands of unemployed who are anxious and willing to sell the only commodity they have, but they are not allowed to do it; there is no market given to them to do it.

Let me take the case of the road grant. Much play has been made about the £650,000. That is a big lot of money, and two millions of money is a very much bigger sum. If the Minister accompanied his statement by a map showing how few of the centres these trunk roads touch in the different counties probably he would explain the position far better to the Deputies. Take my own county. Let me take the trunk road from Limerick to Lahinch; it touches five towns and villages. How many does it miss? How many villages are there to the right and to the left, where there are 80, 100, 30, 40 and 20 unemployed who cannot reach this work? They could not possibly go to the centre of employment, because of the wages under this grant. They could not live away and keep two houses. There is no use in making play about that. We should have the whole truth of the matter. There is no use blaming the County Council. I can only speak for the County Council of which I am a member.

The Clare Co. Council has prepared schemes and is absorbing whatever money that has been sent into it. And I think that even although it is absorbing the money that is sent into it, it will be very easily proved that there are between four and five thousand people unemployed in that county. Anybody who knows the Clare County Council will not say that it is a very excitable body or a very revolutionary body. It is rather a conservative body, and its actions on many occasions have proved that it is a conservative body. I have here from the Clare Co. Council a resolution which was adopted unanimously, and it is in the following terms:—

"That this Council, having under consideration the applications of labourers from all over the county for work and knowing as we do the dire distress prevailing among the working classes, respectfully apply to the Government for a Grant-in-Aid so that these extraordinary conditions may be eased by helping this Council to promote useful employment in the way of road construction, drainage, afforestation and other works within the competence of the Council to advance in the interest of the public."

Deputy Lyons told us a very palpable truth, that the work should be useful. I submit to Deputy Lyons that road work is useful work, and reafforestation is useful work, and no county council will put up to the Ministry any insane proposition. We do not suggest to the Minister that he should build round towers or distribute red herrings. We suggest to him something that is practicable and something that is useful. It is useless to say that the county councils and the local authorities are responsible. I have said that we have absorbed the entire amount for the relief of distress in that county. The council has an overdraft of £60,000 and it is useless to ask that council to expend more money or to put any other burden upon the rate-paying community. They cannot afford it.

The Minister for Lands and Agriculture is alone on the Front Bench. Therefore I would like to have a word with him in his loneliness. There has been much wealth destroyed in this country during the past ten years, and you cannot restore the economic equilibrium, I submit, except you replace that wealth, and in order to replace that wealth you must have increased production. I put it to the Minister for Lands and Agriculture, that he on his part is responsible for some of the rural unemployment, because he is withholding from production a good deal of the land in the country. He is not distributing that land amongst the people who would plant it and who would produce on it food that would relieve distress and lower the cost of living. The Minister should have hurried on his Department in that direction. I submit to him that there is a good deal to be done in the county for which I speak. It is unnecessary to elaborate on the problem of unemployment. That problem is known very well to the Ministers, but they come here with academic points and with a full-dress debating society logic they fling platitudes here and make fine points of distinction. But they do not get over the position that there are scores of thousands of unemployed and that there are scores of people, hundreds of people, who, if not actually hungry, are on the verge of hunger, and that between this and Christmas, unless something is done, there will be dire and pitiful distress in many parts of the State.

I would move for an adjournment of this debate until some of the Executive Ministers attend. The Minister here present has not any power to vote money.

That shows what they think of the unemployed.

Before the adjournment of the debate I would like to speak.

Would it not be well if we adjourned for a period until some Executive Minister is present to hear what the Minister for Lands and Agriculture has to say?


The Minister for Industry and Commerce will be back immediately.

There are four or five others in the neighbourhood.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce had to leave the House for a few minutes. Before any adjournment I wish to speak. Speakers on the Labour benches have made great play in the matter of sneers and Deputy Johnson is anxious to have the Minister for Industry and Commerce here. May I speak in his absence? They made great play with the Minister's flippancies and sneers. It was mentioned first by Deputy Johnson, and it has been repeated since by every speaker on the Labour benches. Deputies took copious notes the whole time, and I would ask some Labour Deputy before this debate concludes to quote a sneer or a flippancy used. It has not been done up to this.

You cannot put a sneer down on paper.

It is the attitude of the man delivering the speech.

I say that that is a very poor explanation.

I hope you will not continue in the same strain. Tell us something about the unemployed. You are asking for interruptions and you are going to get them.

Very well, interrupt then, but I must protest against this show of temper by Deputy Corish. He could make charges about sneers and flippancies and a want of sympathy, and suggested every possible bad quality a Minister could have, and when I ask him to quote one sneer that the Minister uttered I am to be interrupted the whole time though we have to listen without interrupting. I want to repeat that I did not hear any flippancies and I am just as good a judge of flippancies as anybody on the Labour benches.

You are a better judge.

I did not hear those sneers and I challenge anybody to repeat them, and the excuse that you cannot take a flippancy down on paper is not good enough. There were no sneers used by the Minister. That is just one of those meaningless statements from the Labour benches that has been made in connection with this debate from the start of it. However, we have been taunted with our want of sympathy for the unemployed. It is easy to express sympathy and talk is cheap. I suggest we have done a lot more than talk on behalf of the unemployed. If our sympathy were to be measured by the amount of protestations we could put up, and if the problem of unemployment could be solved in that way there would be very little difficulty in dealing with unemployment. But this expression of sympathy is absolutely unconvincing. It is as unconvincing as the other charges about sneers and flippancies, just absolutely unconvincing.

To criticise the Government Party because they are not more free with their protestations is a very cheap way of showing sympathy with the unemployed. The country is full of protestations of sympathy and compassion and the rest of it. There is quite a lot of people who are very free with their protestations and their sympathy and nothing else—I do not make that charge against the Labour Benches. But the country is full of compassion for the unemployed if you are to judge by expressions of sympathy. However, I often doubt whether these expressions are sincere. Personally, I do not admire the technique which puts its point of view and sympathies beyond doubt by constantly expressing them. We might give up this talk about sneering and flippancies and come to the point. Coming down to facts, the Minister for Industry and Commerce is perfectly entitled to say that if a grave case was to be put up by the Labour Party it ought to be documented, at least to some extent. Some figures should be given. Some attempt should be made to get down to details. There was some attempt made, for instance, in regard to agricultural unemployment. Let me deal with that first. It was stated here that everybody knew that there was less agricultural employment in this country this year than last year. No reasons were given for that. None whatever. It was just a statement simply like the other general statements.

I do not wish to interrupt the Minister, but I would like to ask a question. Could the Minister state now the number of acres under tillage in the Free State this year, and the number under tillage last year?


I cannot give the number. I can get the figures in a few moments if the Deputy desires. I can, however, tell the Deputy what the position is. It was stated here that there was more rural unemployment this year than there was last year—that there were more agricultural labourers unemployed. No reasons were given. I remember that when the Minister for Industry and Commerce quoted the case of the tariffed industries and pointed out that there were twelve thousand or so extra employed, he was interrupted and asked: What about the factories that are closed and the people that are gone out of employment? Luckily, we have not that particular distraction so far as agricultural labour is concerned. We can compare the figures for tillage last year and the figures for this year, and I may say that the figures are slightly up as compared with last year. Now, let us start with that. Is that any evidence? Let us go on to the other sources of rural employment. Let us take the road scheme, for example. Far more money is being spent on the roads this year. The main roads, as Deputy Hogan knows well, tap every decent-sized town in the country, and they also tap the areas between the towns. More money is being spent this year on roads than was spent last year, and more money is available for employment.

What about the towns that are untapped?


That is another question. Is what I have indicated any evidence that there are more unemployed in the country? Take the Shannon scheme as another example. Look at the very large number of extra labourers employed there who were formerly in agricultural employment. Take the sugar beet industry, and take the Land Commission operations. Under the latter alone fully £300,000 is available this year. I am certain there was less last year. There is more work done this year, because more estates are in hand and there is more building and road-making proceeding. To put it briefly, there is more tillage, there is far more money spent on roads in the country—it is no answer to say that the roads do not tap the country generally —there is more employment under the Shannon scheme, under the sugar beet industry, and under the operations of the Land Commission, for which, alone, £300,000 is available. Under the Land Commission schemes alone more work is being done this year than was done in previous years.

In the matter of drainage—taking, not the 1925 Act but the 1924 Act, which touches the restoration of drainage—there are schemes in practically every county. That is dear and unanswerable evidence as to the state of employment this year as compared with last year. In face of such evidence why should Deputies state that there is more unemployment in the country? How could there be more unemployment in face of these figures? I am not relying on my own figures solely. Deputies should not argue that they are the only people who go down the country and see conditions for themselves. We all go down the country. Deputies on these Benches meet their constituents just as well as Labour Deputies. We all get evidence from our own areas. I speak for my own district, which I often visit, and to which I belong. There is less unemployment there than there was last year. I have seen that for myself. The evidence is not, perhaps, definitely accurate, but it is the sort of evidence that is being put up by the Labour Party.

Taking all the facts in regard to rural employment into consideration, how can it be asserted here with any show of accuracy that there is more rural unemployment this year? There is not. It is also grossly unfair to try to make the case that the Government has done nothing for rural unemployment. Look at all the money that has been spent between drainage, the Shannon scheme, roads, the Land Commission work and the sugar beet industry. There is far more money being spent now than was ever spent by any of these Departments in the past, and yet we are told exactly what we would be told if we were not spending one shilling. That is what I complain of in these unemployment debates. If nothing were spent special arguments could be brought forward. Supposing half the amount of money now made available was being spent, we would just have the same sort of debate. If twice as much were being spent I believe that we would have the very same type of debate.

Hear, hear; while there are unemployed.


Where does all that lead to? Let us see what we are condemned for. Deputy Johnson's position is quite clear: every man in the country must be employed. That is a very fine sentiment indeed, to which we could all subscribe in the abstract. But Deputy Johnson must also tell us how it should be done. It can be done in one of two ways: either by creating sufficient industry to employ them all, or by some insurance fund which will be a substitute for employment, and which will deal with every single man unemployed. I think that is a fair statement of the position. As regards creating sufficient industry, if Deputy Johnson's request to the Government is to create industry so as to absorb every man in the country irrespective of existing conditions, he is asking us to socialise all industry. Let us be sure of what we are being condemned for.

That is what Deputy Johnson's argument leads up to. He is telling us quite frankly, making no secret about it, "My position is this: the State owes a duty to every man living in the country. It owes a duty to that man to see that he gets a decent minimum maintenance." That maintenance is unexpressed; it is easy to arrive at that, perhaps. There is only one way to do that, if it is to be done through creating industry, and that is for the State to take control of all industry and socialise all industry. That is a tall order, and I am quite willing to be condemned. If that is the sum and substance of the condemnation to be levelled at the Government to-night, I am afraid we will have to carry it, because we are not prepared to do that. I do not think the Government Party is alone in that, and, even though the Labour Party is a splendidly united Party—they keep their differences well within themselves and they are very well regimented—I would like to know if that is the point of view of every member of that Party.

That is what the whole thing comes to. Now, if we take insurance as a substitute, every man must be insured. The Minister for Industry and Commerce has made it dear, and I think everyone must subscribe to it, that the insurance cannot be carried by the employer and the employee. I think it is clear enough that the employee would not agree to that. If it is to be done it means an immediate increase in taxation. Who is to pay the taxes? Who is to pay for all these other scheme? The sum to be spent on roads amounts to £2,000,000, and roads go, after all, into every county and into a great many districts in every county, and from that point of view they provide more suitable schemes for employment and for the expenditure of money than could be otherwise got. Deputy Hogan suggests that the amount should be increased to four millions. Who is to find it? I do not want to make a debating point, but I do say that the money would have to be found by people who are finding it extremely hard to live.

The biggest taxpayer in the country is the small farmer, and at the moment he is finding it extremely hard to live. He is able to live. I mean the man who is working.

I would like the Minister to tell us how that happens, because the Minister for Finance has another view.


I never made a secret of the fact that the small farmer is finding it hard to live.

That is true, but your point is that he is the biggest taxpayer.


With great respect, that is a debating point. I know that he does not pay income tax or pay many direct taxes. Deputy Johnson knows that taxation is ultimately paid out of production and that the man who is producing most of the wealth of the country, namely, the farmer, will have to pay it ultimately. Can he afford to do so, especially if we were to extend unemployment insurance, or if we were to spend all of the £2,000,000, most of which is unexpended at present? Even if we were to do that, and also incur liabilities for another £2,000,000, where is the money to come from? Where is the cost of administration and where is the payment of interest to come out of taxation? Is it fair to ask the small farmer to pay much more? If you pursue that policy to its relentless conclusion, namely, that work must be found for every unemployed man in the country, and if it means in practice, as has been put up here to-night, that, notwithstanding the fact that there are £2,000,000 available for roads of which only £70,000 has been spent, you are to incur immediately much greater expense at a tremendous cost, so as to reach every unemployed man, then I say what is to happen the country and who is to find the money? What is to happen the small farmer in that case? It will mean that practically everybody will be on the State before long. It is all very well to enunciate general principles on a big question like this, but these general principles have to be modified when you come to their application. Even if they were correct, even if we accepted them, look at what is being asked here. Deputy Morrissey suggested that it was beside the point to say that the county councils had something like £500,000 on hands. He made that statement, notwithstanding the fact that Deputy Norton suggested that the county councils should get further money.

On a point of explanation, I did not suggest that that was beside the point. My recollection is that I suggested that it was the duty of the Minister for Local Government to see that that did not happen.


That was the second suggestion which I intended to come to. The Deputy's first statement was that it was beside the point. Anyway, they have that money.

The unemployed have not got it. That is my point.


Let me come to that. I am on the same point. They have the money, and the point is that it is not spent. This money is to be spent on a well-defined road scheme, which will give a maximum of employment in the largest areas. The trunk roads go through practically every decent-sized town in Ireland, and touch every county, almost every barony in every county. From that point of view, and from the point of view of employment, it is advantageous. The scheme has been thought out, and has been in operation for some time. The money is being spent through an organisation which exists in each county, yet, in face of that, it is suggested that this method of spending money is not expeditious enough. If there is a case made there at all, it is that the county councils have the money but the unemployed have not got it, and that the method of spending it is not quick enough. What is the remedy suggested? It is this: Put up a big sum, a non-specified sum of money, for schemes in every county which nobody has elaborated—to be spent by whom? on what works? and so on. Put up money for some unknown schemes, presumably in every county, schemes which have never been examined and about which nobody knows anything, and in connection with which there is no organisation in any county. Is it suggested that that will get the money out to the unemployed sooner? That is an extraordinary position. When we point out that there is something like £2,000,000 available for well-defined schemes, and in connection with which machinery exists, we are told that the money is not reaching the unemployed quickly enough and that we should put up a further sum of money. These people say: "We do not know where you are to get it, or how you are to spend it, and we do not care." That is not business, and every Deputy knows it is not business. Deputy Hogan and Deputy Davin told us that they had plenty of schemes. That sounds very well, but no Deputy will be so irresponsible as to suggest that the taxpayers' money should be spent in that way. To meet that case, by putting out more money on other schemes for which there is no machinery and no organisation, schemes unexamined and unspecified, is surely an irresponsible method and, to use an expression used on the opposite benches, is really "flippant." It has been said that the Minister for Industry and Commerce should not ask Deputies to make a case or to produce figures, as that is his business. Deputy Hogan says it is absolutely unheard of to expect a Labour Deputy to document or authenticate any statement made in regard to unemployment, and he says that personally he does not care two-pence about the Minister's figures.

No, I said I did not accept them, which is quite another matter.


That is what is being said all the evening. Deputies on the other side always point out that it is the Minister's business to put up figures and, even if he does, they will not accept them. Most people would agree that if this money which is available for road works were spent, and if it were supplemented by the other thing which I have mentioned, going on through the winter and thus reaching the unemployed, and if it went on as fast as it should go it would absorb a very large number of men. It is likely that practically all the unemployed, except those in remote districts in which the schemes did not operate, would be dealt with.

On short time.


Deputy Morrissey talked about the situation in Tipperary, where he visited the houses of the people and saw persons starving. Did he know that there is £18,000 allocated to North Tipperary and that it has not been spent?

I knew that, and I knew also that the County Council were compelled through shortage of coal to dismiss all the men they had employed under the £18,000 grant.


The Deputy alleges that the reason this money has not been spent is because of shortage of coal.

I never said that there was not a penny of the money spent.


I mean the money still unspent. I am not suggesting that the Deputy said it was all unspent. Is he stating that the only reason for not spending the money is shortage of coal?

That is one reason.


Is the Deputy satisfied that some of this money could not have been spent more expeditiously? Is not that a thing that could have been examined? I think if the Labour Party was serious they could have examined that situation. That is known to every county council and they could see how they could expedite the expenditure.

Is the Minister assuming that all the unemployed in North Tipeprary could be absorbed on this £18,000 scheme?


That is another question. Six hundred thousand pounds could have been spent and would have employed a great many. It is not too much to expect that every Deputy should investigate why this money has not gone out. Probably that would be the shortest way of getting it amongst the unemployed. There is plenty of more money behind that. When the Minister makes the suggestion that Deputies on opposite benches should come down from the making of general statements about unemployment and be somewhat more practical, I do not agree that he is asking anything unreasonable.

I join in the appeal that has been made on behalf of the unemployed. I come from a district where unemployment is prevalent, owing to the fact that the British military were removed from that area. In Cobh, Fermoy and Buttevant staffs of men that were formerly employed by builders are now idle. In Haulbowline and Cobh employment was given to hundreds of men, but they are all now unemployed. I make a special appeal on behalf of these men. We have been told that there is an unemployment grant for the improvement of the roads and that we are to get our share in County Cork. I can assure Deputies that there is no county needs it more at the present time. The County Council reduced the estimate by half. I would ask the Minister and the important officials of his Department to immediately release the money, allocated for County Cork, as the men employed by the County Council are now only engaged half time. If the full estimate was passed they would not be working full time. Those who cut down the estimate are now grumbling at the County Council meetings because the bye-roads are not kept in proper repair.

I would remind the Minister for Lands and Agriculture that there are in my district big schemes that would provide employment. Some time ago I pointed out to the Minister that forestry would give a return for the money expended and at the same time relieve the present unemployment. There is also a big drainage scheme needed in the district. Of course this is the wrong time for drainage, but there are portions of the work that could be carried out, such as the fixing of the levels, etc. I urge the Department of Local Government to release money that has been allocated to County Cork. We have four flour mills running only half-time in the district, and it is pitiful to see the workers going to the unemployment exchange to look for what is called the dole. Some of them cannot even get that. The agricultural labourers have no claim on these exchanges. I appeal to the Minister for Lands and Agriculture to deal with the drainage and forestry schemes. I also appeal to the Minister for Local Government to grant the money coming to Cork. His officials, I am glad to say, have always given every assistance towards alleviating the sufferings of the people.

In spite of what the Minister for Agriculture has stated I am still of opinion that the Minister for Industry and Commerce has dealt with this matter too lightly. He was certainly very flippant at the beginning of his statement. The Minister made a great deal of play about the £652,000 that he says is available for road-making, and made special reference to the Wexford County Council. He made great play about my intervention, and as to whether the work was to be done by direct labour or by contract. He tried to make people believe that the reason the money was not expended was because the County Council objected to it being done by direct labour. That is not the fact. As far as I am aware the first intimation the County Council had that this amount of money was available for certain roads was some time in September. When that intimation was received the County Council considered that as direct labour had been in operation in the county for six years and had worked satisfactorily they should be allowed to carry out this work by direct labour. The Department turned down that proposal at the end of a week, and in order that the work might be proceeded with at once the County Council reluctantly accepted that verdict. That, I think, disposes of the point made by the Minister.

Our object in trying to have the work done by direct labour was to see that it was proceeded with at once. Everyone knows that in giving work by contract a long time elapses before the contract can be placed. In addition to that, we thought it would be desirable to spend all the money we could in the county, as a great number of contractors now doing road work in this country are from the other side of the Channel. If we accept the position put forward by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, that there is £652,000 available for road work, of which Wexford is to get £36,976, that money is to be spent on one stretch of road, fourteen miles long, at one side of the county, and I am given to understand by the County Surveyor that it will give employment to about 80 men. I know that in Wexford town there are between 700 and 1,000 unemployed, and I am wondering how far that is going to relieve the unemployment that prevails in that town and other parts of the county. Like Deputy Hogan, I am wondering how any Ministry could suggest that the amount of money allocated for trunk roads is going to any great extent, to relieve the unemployment that exists. In Wexford at present, owing to the depression in agriculture, the three foundries there that manufacture agricultural implements are practically at a standstill. In normal times Messrs. Pierce employ anything between 800 and 1,000 men. In consequence of the agricultural depression that firm is employing to-day 220. The Star Iron Works in normal times employ almost 200 men. To-day there are 50 employed there. The Selskar Iron Works, which would employ 100 normally, at present employ 20. I am quoting figures which I know to be true, and if the Minister consults the Labour Exchange in Wexford he will find that what I am stating is correct.

The Minister quoted a decrease in the number registered in the Labour Exchanges as against this period last year, and takes it for granted because the number is less that the situation so far as industry is concerned is better. I suggest to him that the reason for the decrease is that people have exhausted all the benefits they are entitled to. I will quote one case for him. Some time in the middle of last year the Drinagh Cement Works were closed down. I made representations to the Minister on various occasions with a view to his making representations to the company to have the works reopened. I want to give him any credit that he is entitled to, and I must say that he certainly did all he could to have all the works reopened. If the Minister consults the records of the Labour Exchange in Wexford he will find that this time last year there were eighty men who had been employed in those works drawing unemployment benefit, and if he will get someone to examine the situation in Wexford for him now he will find that those 80 men are still unemployed, but that they have exhausted all rights to benefit and, therefore, they would affect his figures. If that happens in one small town it is only right to assume that it might happen in the various towns in the Saorstát. I think that it would establish once and for all that the figures submitted here by the Minister are not reliable to any extent.

It was during the Minister for Finance's Budget statement that we first heard of £2,000,000 being available for the reconstruction of roads. I am wondering why that money was not released immediately so that the work could be started in the summer time and got well under way. What was the cause of the delay between then and, say, August and September? To my mind, if the Government had made that money available immediately after the introduction of the Budget, that work would be going on now in every county, and it is the delay in telling the councils the amount of money available that is responsible for the position that the county councils now find themselves in, as it is not easy at this time of year to embark upon a proper scheme of road-making. Then, again, the amount of money that will be spent on the roads is all too little to absorb the unemployed in the rural areas. These men have not got the opportunities that those in some urban areas have of securing employment through the medium of grants made by the Government, and it is, therefore, only men residing in rural areas who ought to be employed on this road work. What, then, is going to happen the unemployed in the urban areas in the next two or three months? The position was bad enough for the last two or three years, but it has been accentuated and has become considerably worse owing to the stoppage in the coal industry. These unfortunate people are faced with a situation which they never encountered before, because along with being hungry they are not able to provide any kind of firing. I would ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce, supposing we accept the position that there is a certain amount of money available to do rural work, to get away from that for a moment, and to direct his attention to urban areas; to ask his officers in the various Exchanges to find out how many people are unemployed in these areas and to send up a reliable list. I do not suggest that these officers are deliberately sending up lists which are not reliable, because, of course, their lists are compiled from the signatures of people who expect to get benefit. I would ask the Minister immediately to provide facilities for making a register in the various urban centres and to tell the unemployed why he wants that register, and ask them to come forward and sign it. I think I am right in saying that if he is not aware of the situation that prevails now, he will be astonished at the figures he will get back. I suggest that it is not necessary for us to bring figures here to show what the situation is. It is so bad and so apparent to anybody living in the various towns that it is not necessary to produce figures.

The situation speaks for itself. In the slum areas, especially, in the various towns and cities, the people are herded together and are without food for days. I would ask the Minister seriously to consider the situation and deal with it in a serious way. I do not think it is too much to ask him to tell the Dáil to-night that between now and Christmas, when we should, at least, expect the Government would try to make everyone happy, a sum of money will be available for the relief of unemployment. I am speaking at the moment for urban areas, as I am mostly conversant with them. The rural areas have suffered considerably, and it is only right and fair that the moneys to be expended on the roads should be spent in the interests of the rural population. But I do hope that the Ministry will reconsider their attitude in this connection and provide facilities in the various towns and places where they have exchanges for the making of a register, and if they do that they will be surprised at the number they will find to be unemployed.

We have had a very long and useful debate and one which I hope will bear fruit on behalf of the unemployed. A great many Deputies have contributed to the debate, and my colleague, Deputy Daly, has spoken. In regard to the district I represent, I can bear out what he has said, that there is a great amount of unemployment simply for the reason he has assigned. But I always heard it was impossible to judge human nature, and that I can see plainly here to-night. Deputy Daly urges that employment should be found for the unemployed. There I agree with him. The ratepayers of the district that I represent put forward a water scheme recently. That scheme is as necessary to them, practically, as the air they breathe. In that area there is a school where there are ninety little children and they have no means whatever of securing a drop of drinking water, and it would be easily understood that if there is no drinking water available there is not a drop available for domestic purposes.

On a point of order, may I ask are we to reduce the dignity of this Dáil to that of the parish pump, for that is the meaning of what Deputy Noonan says. He has letters in the paper every day for a fortnight past about me, but I took no notice of them. This is the first time in his life he has spoken for Labour.

I do not believe there is any Deputy on the Labour benches that would agree with Deputy Daly when he says that this is the first time I have spoken for Labour. I am not long in the House, but during the time I have been here, when debates on Labour matters came round, I always contributed something, in some way or other, on behalf of Labour. I say these children have not a drop of water except what they can get out of the cattle troughs, and Deputy Daly, who is an advocate for Labour, is the only block to the carrying out of a water scheme in that district.

I came to the conclusion that during this debate—I suppose even some of my colleagues were nearly as guilty as the two Ministers who have spoken—that some of them were dodging the issue. The first part of this motion reads that: "The House views with great anxiety the continuance of widespread and prolonged unemployment and deplores the inadequacy of the measures, so far taken by the Government, to relieve same." The Minister for Agriculture started off by saying that we said nothing was being done. We have not said that; at least, I do not say nothing has been done. I admit that a number of things have been done in the last few years by the present Government to create employment. The Minister for Agriculture mentioned several things that have been done, with which I agree; such as the Shannon Scheme, the establishment of the beet factory, the trunk road schemes and the drainage schemes. As a matter of fact, in my constituency some work under the trunk road schemes is going on in one particular district and men are employed in the restoration of the drainage area.

The Minister for Agriculture also-tried to make a point out of the fact that some Labour Deputies said that unemployment is greater, now, than it was twelve months ago. I do not think it is necessary to our case to show that unemployment is greater to-day than it was twelve months ago. If Deputies read the wording of the resolution they will see that it is not necessary to prove that there is more unemployment now than there was twelve months ago, or in any period in the past, but to prove that there is a great deal of unemployment, and widespread and prolonged unemployment, and that the measures the Government have taken are wholly inadequate to deal with that unemployment.

There is one thing I would like to say about the Minister for Agriculture. He said candidly that Deputy Johnson was advocating that industry should be socialised in the country and, unless I misunderstood the Minister, I think he said that that was the only way that unemployment could be abolished, and he went on to say that it was undesirable that such a method of dealing with the question should be adopted, and he doubted if there were many members of the Labour Party who would agree with Deputy Johnson in that particular desire. So far as I am concerned, as one member of the Labour Party, I agree with him entirely. The only reason I have not advocated such a method, as a way out of our difficulty, is I have always realised that one might as well talk to the waves on the seashore as to Deputies in this House about the socialisation of industry. It would be so much wasted effort, but I am pleased that it is placed on record, even though the Minister suggests it is an undesirable way out of the difficulty, in his opinion it is the only way out of the difficulty.

I leave it to Deputy Johnson to clear up the question.

If those who believed him in the past will continue to believe in him in the future, particularly in regard to that statement, then I think in spite of the inadequacy of the measures proposed and the lack of a desire on the part of the Minister at present to do anything to relieve unemployment, that we will come quickly to the day when it will be relieved. Both of the Ministers who spoke talked very calmly and cooly in distinction to the way some of us are supposed to have spoken, and they asked us to supply them with figures. Figures and facts are things that they claim to rely upon entirely. I think there is one fact outstanding, and that is, that whether the amount of unemployment is more or less now than it was twelve months ago, there is unemployment. There is another fact that I think the Minister for Industry and Commerce, if he were spoken to privately, would admit that inasmuch as there is still a proportion of people uncatered for by the schemes now in operation through the aid and action of the present Government, then these attempts to relieve unemployment are inadequate, and I say that our case is quite plain, even if we are unable to prove that there is such unemployment now as there was twelve months ago by virtue of the fact that there is even one man willing to work who cannot obtain an opportunity of working in this country.

If there is one man at the present unemployed, and unemployed for some months, and who finds himself and those dependent upon him lacking the necessaries of life, that proves positively that the measures adopted by the Government to relieve unemployment are inadequate. Certainly the Minister will admit there is more than one such case. So far as the actual facts are concerned for the whole country I could not give, and the Minister for Industry and Commerce cannot give the numbers. I know so far as my own constituency is concerned—it is a small constituency returning three members, about one-fiftieth the whole size of the Saorstát—there are at least a thousand men at present unemployed. I make all allowance for those employed on drainage schemes at the north-east end of the constituency and for the few men that will be employed on the main road schemes. So far as these main road schemes are concerned I know personally that some time in the early part of this year that money that had been allocated by the Department of Local Government to the Cork County Council Tor road work had not been spent, or was not spent as quickly as it might have been if the members of the Cork Council in its entirety have been very anxious to give an opportunity to work to the people who are out of work.

I dare say that, before the present sum of £19,000 allocated from the Road Fund for the trunk road schemes in that county is spent, there may be some delays. There is no use in the Minister saying, because a particular county council refused to spend immediately the money allocated under a certain scheme, that that is a good reason why the Ministry should refuse to do anything further. So far as the road scheme is concerned in my constituency, which touches part of two counties, it would, I think, be a correct estimate to say that it will not absorb more than about ten per cent. of the available workers in the habit of doing general manual work. As regards the other ninety per cent., a small proportion of them live in the vicinity of the area in which the work is to be carried out, but, as the scheme cannot absorb any more men, these people will not be able to find employment. As regards the bulk of the men, they will be living from ten to forty miles from the two areas where the trunk road is to be made. The distance they live from the job will, of course, prevent them from getting employment on it. The Minister for Industry and Commerce drew a distinction between the number of men unemployed and the number drawing unemployment benefit. He said Deputy Johnson was wrong in saying that the unemployed not entitled to unemployment benefit did not register. The Minister gave 35 per cent. as the figure of the unemployed registering even though they did not expect to get unemployment benefit. I know that in the constituency of North Cork that practically no general worker registers at the unemployment exchanges unless he is making an application for unemployment benefit. There are many reasons for that. In the northern part of the constituency there are two unemployment exchanges, one at Mallow and the other at Killarney. The distance between these places would be about 42 miles, so that you have there the position that a large proportion of the workers compelled to register for unemployment benefit would have to travel to either exchange about twenty miles to do so. Men in the country unemployed could not be expected to travel by train or on foot a distance of twenty miles merely for the purpose of registering for a job when they know very well that the people likely to employ them do not, themselves, apply at the labour exchanges for a man when they want one.

When the Minister for Industry and Commerce spoke of the labour exchanges having placed over 8,000 men in jobs, he reminded me of the business man who, when asked what was the state of his business, showed one side of his balance sheet but not the other. The Minister told us that because these 8,000 men had been placed in employment through the labour exchanges that, therefore, there must be a huge decrease in the number of the unemployed. I would like to know from the Minister the names of the labour exchanges that placed this number of men in employment. So far as the number of men employed on the Shannon Scheme are concerned, I know that very few, if any, were sent from the Mallow, Killarney, or Macroom Labour Exchanges, and that these are the only exchanges that cater for unemployed workmen in the constituency of North Cork. I know of one case where a man did apply at the Mallow Labour Exchange for work on the Shannon Scheme. The manager told him that he had no power to send him there. That man went by train on two occasions to Limerick and walked back as he could not afford the train fare for the return journey. He failed to get a job. The fact that a man living in the vicinity of Millstreet, in the County Cork, travelled to Limerick on two occasions under these circumstances in order to try and get a job, certainly affords strong proof of the efforts that some men have made to get employment. The Minister for Industry and Commerce wound up by stating that, on the evidence placed before him, it was absurd for Deputies on these benches to ask the Ministry to do more than it had done. If that is the Minister's view of the matter, then all I can say is that he is not facing the facts of the situation, though he would like the House to believe that he is.

The Minister wanted to know if we understood that the increase in wages since 1914 was much greater than the increase in the cost of living. He asked if we appreciated that fact, and went on to point out that this meant an increase in the standard of living for the workers. He argued from that that something should have been done to create more employment by asking the workers, at present in receipt of a wage slightly greater proportionately than the increase in the cost of living, to work for a lesser wage than they are receiving in order, I presume, to enable the employers to give employment to a greater number of men. I would like the Minister to understand that we realise the fact that he has stated, quite plainly, and that it is nothing for which he, or any employer in this country, ought to boast of or take credit for. At one time I happened to be a trade union official, and in that way came into contact with hundreds of employers through the country. The employers always admitted that before we could get a basis on which an increase in wages in proportion to the increase in the cost of living could be calculated, we would have to increase the pre-war rate of wages considerably to workers in this country.

Deputy Beamish, a leading light in the Government Party and a big employer in the City of Cork, always boasted that his employees were paid far better than the majority of general workers in the South of Ireland. He claimed they were paid £1 per week, which was more than that paid to most other workers. At least 5/- should be added to this £1 before you could arrive at an adequate basis on which to calculate what present wages should be in proportion to the increased cost of living. I would like the Minister to take that fact into consideration: that it is admitted by the bulk of the employers in this country that twenty-five per cent. should be added as a minimum on pre-war rates of wages before you could arrive at a determination as to what the present rate of wages should be in proportion to the cost of living. I would like the Minister to take that fact into consideration when asking that men at present receiving a little more proportionately than the increased cost of living, should accept reductions in their wages in order, as he suggests, that there should be more employment given in this country to those who are unemployed.

I disagree entirely with the attitude of the Ministry on this question. I do not want to say anything flippant. I would not know whether a man was flippant or serious. Being a serious person myself I always assume that the other person is as serious as I am. The Minister for Industry and Commerce appears inclined to think that the people of this country have short memories. I remember before this State was set up members of the Sinn Fein Party, as distinct from the Party who preceded them in popularity, claimed certain things would happen when the first Dáil was set up, and that there would be no such thing as hungry or naked children. The Minister for Finance, in June last, in discussing unemployment, said it was impossible to find a remedy for the unemployed problem. If that is the case then there will always be hungry and naked children, as well as men and women. If the Minister for Finance was speaking of the facts as he saw them on the 24th June last then when he helped to draw up the proclamation of the First Dáil he must have done so with his tongue in his cheek, as he must have understood that he was gulling the people to give him and his Party support, knowing that the promises they were then making could not be fulfilled. The Minister for Agriculture made reference to the nationalising of agricultural resources. The Government should go the whole hog and nationalise the industries of the country. They should go any length to fulfil the promises they made.

The Minister for Agriculture tried to convince Deputies to-night that the work of the Land Commission has, to a large extent, relieved unemployment in the rural areas. My experience of the Land Commission in the area I represent is to the contrary. Where the Land Commission have taken over estates they have thrown men out of employment, and we have no less than 28 men unemployed to-day as a result of the action of the Land Commission. I think it is unreasonable and unfair under circumstances such as these for the Land Commission to claim that they have made provision for the unemployed. It is cheap to suggest the making of roads through acquired estates gave employment. On that matter only a general statement has been made by the Minister although he has accused Deputies on these benches of having made a general statement. The Minister also told us that the farmers were the greatest wealth-producers, and that they were unable to do more than they were doing at present. It is my humble opinion if the Government realised that from the land come all the necessaries of life, then it is the duty of the Government to see that the land maintains the people of the country.

We have a large number of unemployed in County Meath. Last year, notwithstanding grants that the County Council received from the Government, they were forced to raise a loan of £25,000 for the relief of distress in districts that were not covered by the trunk road grants. When the trunk road grant came to Meath they proceeded to work it this year by contract, with the result that 75 per cent. of the money available is being spent on machinery and materials and very little on wages. On a stretch of road last year or the year before, where work was being done under the trunk road grant, 33 men were employed, and this year there were only 5. The grant of £2,000,000 this year has been of no benefit in the way of relieving unemployment. During the past year the unemployed in my constituency organised themselves. A census of the unemployed was taken there, I think last June or July, and the number of unemployed then in the County Meath, independent of those drawing the dole, was 2,300 odd. That is a serious position in a county like Meath, which is not a very big county. The Minister is aware, I am sure, that the only industries in the town of Navan, and they are the only industries in the county, are closing down. Claytons' Woollen Mills are working half time, and the Navan Clothing Company has closed down. Yet the Minister tells us that the opening of new industries has reduced the number of unemployed. It is ridiculous to make that statement. If the Minister took the trouble to find out the numbers who have lost employment as the result of the closing down of industries he would find a different state of affairs to that which he has described to-night. If unemployment this year is not greater than last year, why all the demonstrations at the meetings of local authorities? Why, as in the case of County Meath, have the unemployed surrounded the County Council chamber, locking up the Council, and refusing to leave until prevailed on to do so? The position is certainly worse this year. I think the Minister for Defence will remember that during the past year he received communications in the form of resolutions from ex-National Army men in Navan and district demanding that something be done to relieve the distress in which they found themselves. One of the things they asked for was that facilities for emigration should be afforded to them. As far as I can gather, no reply has been received to these communications on behalf of the men who served the State and who to-day are hungry.

I do not want to send these men out of the country, and I have no intention of doing so.

Then find employment for them.

I am doing as much as you.

There are much more agricultural workers unemployed this year than last. I have a place in mind where there were 28 men employed last year and this year there were only 21. I know of other places in my constituency where a number of men have been dismissed. If they were all brought together, I presume, they would bring up the grand total to something approximately about 1,000. There are about 1,000 more agricultural workers unemployed this year than there were last year, and during the summer that has passed, very few agricultural workers who were casual workers, received employment at all. It is a deplorable state of affairs that the Government tries to close its eyes to the reality of the situation. They forwarded a grant to the Meath County Council and the Council proceeded to work that. Notwithstanding the fact that there was a loan of £25,000 last year for the relief of distress, they came along this year again for sanction to raise a loan for £25,000, also for the relief of distress, but the sanction was refused. The Minister would only give sanction to the local authority to raise £10,000. The local authority has raised that money and they are working on it already. An official of the Council told me only last week that the sum of £10,000 would only last a fortnight until it was spent. The number of unemployed and the number of applicants for employment was so great that it would not last in a district where the trunk road grant was not touching. He said that they were not able to give employment to all the men who are seeking employment. The local assistant surveyors are a good help in giving information in that respect because they are besieged morning, noon and night by the unemployed looking for employment and they are unable to give employment. They have no money to do so, and on the other hand they have no place for these men. It is the duty of the Government to relieve unemployment and to find means whereby they can relieve it. It is not good enough for the Government to be taunting Labour Deputies and others across the House, to give figures and statistics. What are the different Government departments in being at all for if they are not able to collect these statistics, if they are necessary to assist them?

We do not believe in them.

There is no effort made to collect statistics. A man simply goes in and signs the register and he is registered as one. There is no attempt made to find out what is the real position in rural Ireland or the real position in the cities and big towns. The man who does not sign on for unemployment benefit or the man who has no right to make a claim for benefit is not on the list the Minister gave here to-night. Of the number I referred to a short time ago, something over 2,000 who were employed last June or July, they were never entitled to unemployment benefit, but the Ministry knew nothing about these men. They never entered a Labour Exchange. They never had any occasion to go there; therefore their names are not recorded. The same thing applies to every county in Ireland and the position is more serious to-day than the Minister appears to believe. I, like other Deputies, believe that if the Minister understood the situation as it exists down the country he would make a bolder effort to deal with it. I hope he will give this matter serious consideration and that the Deputy who availed of this discussion to declare that he stood up in support of Labour and to advocate the cause of Labour, for the purpose of airing a grievance he had over a parish pump, will vote for the motion when it is put.

I have listened with more patience to this discussion than I have on any other occasion, simply because I realise that it is useless, owing to our small numbers and the Government's large majority, to bring forward this question of unemployment. I would only like to reply to two points the Minister has raised—first, the want of evidence that unemployment was in existence and, second, that there was money available for all the Co. Councils and that the Co. Councils did not avail of that money. We, in Co. Wicklow, have availed of £36,000 out of the trunk road grant, and what do we find? Notwithstanding that £36,000 was spent on the trunk road scheme, in the month of August a sum of £897 in home help was distributed over the county at 5/- per person. We have over 200 cases of relieved in the various urban areas by the Vincent de Paul Society and other charitable organisations. The business people and large landowners outside the various districts have to come along with a contribution to relieve the distress prevailing in the urban areas. The Wicklow Manure Works which this time last year employed 70 men, to-day only gives employment to 4 men. In the case of the dockers, owing to the miners' strike there are 50 or 60 men who formerly were employed in casual work in Bri Chualainn, Arklow and Wicklow, who now cannot get a day's work. If that is not evidence to put forward—the chemical works closed down, £890 distributed in home help in the month of August, and £36,000 spent on a trunk road scheme—I do not know what is. Notwithstanding that, the Co. Council had to borrow £6,000 for the relief of the situation in the rural areas in West Wicklow. Surely there is some evidence that in Co. Wicklow at least there is great distress prevailing owing to unemployment? If the Minister doubts the figures submitted for home help, he has a means through the Minister for Local Government, to prove that the figures are accurate. Then we come on to the question I raised to-day, the number of men who have been employed by the County Council. Some of them may be in possession of 2 acres of land and they were forced to have their cards stamped because they were insured through the County Council. When they become disemployed and have no work under the County Council they are unable to receive any unemployment benefit owing to the fact that the Minister holds that because they have land, they are not ordinarily unemployed. That is one way of getting out of it. We have the sailors who have Irish Free State stamps on their cards and who were employed by Irish employers. They may remain hungry too. No compensation is given to the men, no home help, no pension, or any work allowed to them.

Still representatives of the Government get up and argue that there is no unemployment or no distress in the country. The Minister said that money for the trunk roads is available in the urban areas. I at least have gone several times to the various Departments and put up schemes for the relief of distress in urban areas, such as sewage schemes, repairs to roads, and repairs to foot-paths, and I got the answer in the Local Government Department that they had no money available to give grants for the repair of roads in the urban areas. Yet representatives of the Government get up and say that they have granted a certain amount of money, and that it has not been made use of by the local authorities. But there are grievances even in the places where they try to avail of the money, as regards the difficulty in getting the Finance Department to sanction schemes or the amounts to be allowed for schemes. I think if the Local Government Department approved of a scheme submitted by any local authority that they should be the sole judges. But local authorities have to wait until the Local Government representatives go to the Finance Department and until the Finance Department are ready to sanction schemes. While all this is taking place extra home help may have to be given to the people because there is no employment or no unemployment benefit. The only thing the poor people have to depend on at the present time is the charity of those who are in possession of a few shillings. Every Deputy knows the serious situation that confronts him. Numbers of unemployed people call at Deputies' houses looking for assistance, and charitable organisations are being got up to help to relieve them. These organisations got up for the relief of distress are doing work which I hold it is the duty of the Government to do. The Government representatives may say, now that elections are not taking place for a few months, that it is not their duty, but when the elections come along we have promises of thousands of pounds if the people only vote for the Government candidates. I hope there will be a Government candidate for County Wicklow, because we will have promises of thousands of pounds. But we find that these are only promises made at election times, and it is useless for the Labour Party here with a small minority to try to do anything. Judging by the spirit that exists among Government candidates it would seem as if some of them have made an agreement with the Chambers of Commerce or Employers' Associations. I do not know if that is so, but it would seem as if some agreement was made somewhere to keep the unemployed in the state they are in. The Government refused to grant money to councils who will avail of it. If certain county councils will not avail of this money I say that the County-Council of Wicklow will be glad to do so in order to relieve unemployment.

I wish to support this motion on behalf of the unemployed people of Galway. I have had several complaints from the districts of Ballinasloe, Portumna, Mountbellew, Tuam, Loughrea, Gort, Galway and Connemara, with reference to the need of employment in those districts. I disagree with the statement of the Minister for Lands and Agriculture when he says: "There is less unemployment in Galway now than there was twelve months ago." The money allocated for the making and repairing of trunk roads has all been, or is being spent in the centre of the county. Very little of it has reached East Galway, and none of it will, I understand, be expended in West Galway, where there is more poverty to-day than in any other part of the twenty-six counties. If something is not done immediately to bring relief to those poor people, I fear there will be a famine there.

As Deputy Nagle pointed out, there has been a great desire to enlarge the range of this discussion. I thought I had tried to keep it within pretty well-defined limits. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, seeing that he was not able to meet the case that I put forward, on the basis of the Minister for Finance's promises, adopted the usual method of trying to touch upon a lot of points that really did not affect the argument at all. Some of them I will meet, and I think I shall be able to show the hollowness of the case he made. The Minister asked that we who are claiming that unemployment insurance should be extended must make the case on the numbers of unemployed persons in the country, the period of their unemployment, and the cost of any extension. If we had authority to raise the money and to disburse the money we would undoubtedly produce the figures, because we would have the evidence which the Minister is presumed to have.

The case that I made was based upon the figures presented by the Minister. I do not need to suggest, as a matter of fact, that there has been any increase or decrease. I do not know whether there has been an increase or a decrease since last November. I quoted certain figures comparing July of this year with November of this year, figures presented by the Minister which show an increase of 500 odd. But an increase or decrease does not affect my case. The smaller the number the better for my case and the worse for the Minister's case, because the lower the cost upon the unemployment fund or upon any fund that may be charged with extended benefit. The fewer the number there is at present unemployed, the less reason there is for the Minister to object to extending the period of benefit, but the Minister told us—he made what I might say was an extraordinary statement—that the number on the Register, in his belief, approximated to the actual number of unemployed.

In February, 1925, the number on the register was 53,308; in July, 1925, it had fallen to 25,212. Now, I wonder is any Deputy under the belief that there had been such a change in the industrial situation in 1925 between February and July as to warrant the belief that there had been a reduction of more than half of the number of unemployed? There is no reason whatever to think that there had been 25,000 people absorbed in employment between February and July, 1925, to account for that reduction in the number registered. In October, 1924, the Minister made a speech and he presented to the Dáil certain arguments in respect of the figures of unemployment. He said: "The unemployment figures have failed to appear for some time. This has been deliberately done because it has been found that the figures were not being properly understood. There was no distinction made in those figures published as between unemployed and in insurable occupations and the unemployed generally, and the figures did not represent a true index of the unemployment problem in the country; as they were being misconstrued, it was thought better to discontinue them." He repeated that statement in the following March in answer to a question, and went on to give the numbers of the unemployed as in February at the figure of 53,308. He said that: "Figures are not available to indicate the number of unregistered wage-earners at present unemployed in the Saorstát, and there is not sufficient material for an estimate."

On other occasions in the papers, which I am not in a position to lay my hands upon, but which are within the memory of Deputies, the Minister pointed out that the changes in the unemployment scheme affected the number of persons registered, and there were very great variations dependent upon the period in which the insurance year ended. At least at that time there was no reliance placed upon the register as an indication of the actual number unemployed.

But something must have happened which I cannot fathom to warrant the Minister telling us now that the number on the register does, in fact, approximate to the actual number unemployed. Nobody who is in touch with the actual situation through any part of the country believes that that is a correct statement of the facts. But the Minister has got it into his head that it is a fact, and I will accept the statement for what it is worth for the sake of the argument. Supposing there are only 22,000 persons in the Saorstát unemployed, on the register of unemployed persons, I wonder what percentage that is of the total number of insurable persons? The Minister may say that people do, in fact, register who were not insurable, but I think it is very unlikely that he will press that point very far. Now I made an estimate rather roughly, but I think not very far from what the Minister's own Department will tell him, that the 22,000 odd is roughly about 9 per cent. of the number of insurable persons in the Saorstát.

Apparently from the Minister's point of view 9 per cent. is not excessive and does not matter. I suggest without any evidence to support it, except the general view and the general observation, and without any figures, that at least double that number exist in the Saorstát of unemployed willing workers. If that is anything like a fair statement, we are getting into the region of one-sixth or one-fifth of the total number of insurable persons unemployed. The Minister takes pride in the fact, or in his statement of what he believes to be the fact, that the situation is better rather than worse than what it was a year ago. But if it is only somewhat better, is that anything to take pride in? As I have often said in this Chamber, for the single individual that is unemployed it is no advantage to him to know that there are 10,000 other unemployed. He is just as hungry, his children are just as naked, and the responsibility lies upon the Ministry at least not to prevent the machinery working. The responsibility lies upon the Ministry to ensure that that man shall have an opportunity to find employment and to provide for his children. If you cannot enable him by employment to provide for his children, then his children have to be maintained in some way. I wonder will Deputies believe that the way to maintain these children is by charity, seeking charity, by the means of poor law relief, or of some other method? Is it the belief of Deputies that the father should be responsible for the welfare of his children? If you believe that, we are bound, I say, to find some means whereby that father shall have an opportunity of providing for his children. It is for the Ministry to say whether that shall be by home help, by begging, or by theft. There is no other way that I know whereby the man can find means to feed his children when he has not wages to earn.

A very great deal has been said about the six hundred odd thousand pounds in respect to roads, and the Ministry quite astutely endeavoured to throw the responsibility on the county councils and said: "We have supplied this money; it has not yet reached the unemployed. The money is not being spent on employment and the county councils are at fault." But the Ministry cannot get away from their responsibility in that way. It was the Ministry that insisted that the expenditure of this money shall be through the county councils. The Ministry refused to do this work on a national scale, through a central organisation. They said: "It is better, easier and surer when it is done through the county councils." It is they who are responsible for giving this job over to the county councils; they cannot ride off and say that the county councils are at fault.

We are twitted for not having provided statistics. We are twitted over some contention of the Minister that Labour has adopted its old-time attitude; that disputes have been lightly entered upon; that this was partially responsible for the existence of unemployment; that the Labour standard of living was higher than in pre-war days, and this also was responsible for unemployment. It is well to have these exposures of Government mentality. They appear to regret that the standard of life of the workers is higher than it was in pre-war days. They would like to bring it down and apparently they are doing their best to bring it down. The production of figures regarding the unemployed is not a work that can be done by any voluntary organisation. A few weeks ago I wrote a letter to the Minister requesting that he would make myself and the public aware much more rapidly than otherwise might be done if he would instruct the Statistical Department to take out of the census returns the figures relating to unemployment on the day the census was taken. It will be remembered that there was a question relating to unemployment. The answer was given—quite a reasonable answer, and I accepted it—that the method of inquiry, the method of calculation, was difficult and intricate, and the mechanical scheme of calculation would not allow that figure to be taken out independent of the rest. But that is a responsibility for the Minister. I cannot be held responsible for that.

I had a statement a couple of days ago indicating that in the little village of Baldoyle there was not a single man remaining in benefit; all the unemployed men had exhausted their benefit. That is not an exceptional case; the same applies to other small country towns and villages.

We might have been able to provide the Minister with a few more facts had we any reason to believe that the promise of the Minister for Finance would have been unfulfilled, or that we would have got the answer we did get to our questions yesterday, or that after four months' adjournment we would be adjourning for another week. If we had known in time that this debate was coming on to-day we might have got a few more facts from trade unions in relation to the actual returns. When I give the Minister returns from the trade unions, returns compiled in respect to the charges against their own funds, he says he does not believe in them. He throws doubt upon them because he quotes some cases that I have no knowledge of. I do not know what he is referring to. The figures I quoted in regard to the joiners' unemployed are taken from the official journal of that organisation and have reference to charges upon the fund of the trade union. The Minister can throw doubt upon them if he likes, but they were not figures printed for propaganda purposes but figures printed for actuarial purposes.

Then, as to the charge suggested that Labour had failed to modify its old-time attitude, that disputes had been lightly entered upon, and this was the cause of present unemployment, that comes rather cheaply from the Minister whose own Department printed, a couple of months ago, figures which showed that the numbers involved in disputes had steadily declined from 31,780 in 1922 to 6,200 in 1925. The facts are all against the Minister. He has not touched and has not met the case that I made at the beginning.

The Minister for Finance told us in July that "if, on further consideration of the situation, other measures did not sufficiently lessen the unemployment problem, we will be prepared to restore uncovenanted benefit." Now, where is the sufficient lessening? What is sufficient? There is an increase in the figures produced by the Minister of 500 in six months. That is not a lessening, and I claim that the House is entitled to declare that the measures taken by the Government have not been adequate; that there ought to be a Bill to amend the Unemployment Insurance Acts; and that we deplore the fact that the Ministry have failed to produce such a Bill.

This question of unemployment has been raised many times from these Benches, and we have made the plea that, failing employment, insurance should be extended, insurance should be guaranteed, maintenance should be guaranteed. I deliberately avoided entering into the larger issues that were sought to be raised by the Minister for Lands and Agriculture. I will not try to enter upon them now. I do feel that in giving expression to the views of the Executive Council, as was done to-day by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, we have learned that it is useless our attempting to deal with this question or to produce any impression upon the Government in respect to this problem. This problem, to me and to this group, is the key to pretty well all other urgent problems of this country.

If we are met with a blank denial, I really feel, and I speak my personal view, that it is very little use trying to do any work in this Dáil on behalf of the particular community that we are concerned about, primarily. As I say, all other problems to a great extent depend on the treatment of this problem. I feel at this moment that it will be much better for me, at any rate, to see what I can do between now and the election, in persuading the community, if we cannot persuade the Ministry, that this problem has to be dealt with seriously. I do not think there is much use in dividing the Dáil in view of the frank denial by the Minister. I feel that we are up against a wall of brass, and that there is very little use trying to kick it down, or to pierce it by any argument, in view of the present attitude of the Ministry. It may be well though to give Deputies other than those in the Ministry an opportunity of expressing their views, and I hope that opportunity may be given to-night.

Motion put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 19; Níl, 39.

  • Seán Buitléir.
  • John Daly.
  • Séamus Eabhróid.
  • Seán de Faoite.
  • David Hall.
  • Séamus Mac Cosgair.
  • Tomás Mac Eoin.
  • Risteárd Mac Fheorais.
  • Pádraig Mac Fhlannchadha.
  • Tomás de Nógla.
  • Wm. Norton.
  • Ailfrid O Broin.
  • Aodh O Cúlacháin.
  • Liam O Daimhín.
  • Eamon O Dubhbhaill.
  • Seán O Laidhin.
  • Domhnall O Muirgheasa.
  • Tadhg O Murchadha.
  • Pádraig O hOgáin (An Clár).


  • Earnán Altún.
  • Earnán de Blaghd.
  • Thomas Bolger.
  • Séamus Breathnach.
  • Seoirse de Bhulbh.
  • Próinsias Bulfin.
  • Séamus de Burca.
  • Máighréad Ní Choileáin Bean Uí
  • Dhrisceóil.
  • James Dwyer.
  • Patrick J. Egan.
  • Thomas Hennessy.
  • John Hennigan.
  • Patrick Leonard.
  • Seosamh Mac a' Bhrighde.
  • Donnchadh Mac Con Uladh.
  • Liam Mac Cosgair.
  • Seán MacCurtain.
  • Pádraig Mac Fadáin.
  • PatricK McGilligan.
  • Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
  • Pádraig Mag Ualghairg.
  • James Sproule Myles.
  • Peadar O hAodha.
  • Seán O Bruadair.
  • Risteárd O Conaill.
  • Conchubhar O Conghaile.
  • Séamus O Cruadhlaoich.
  • Séamus O Dóláin.
  • Micheál O Dubhghaill.
  • Eamon O Dúgáin.
  • Donnchadh O Guaire.
  • Aindriú O Láimhín.
  • Fionán O Loingsigh.
  • Risteárd O Maolchatha.
  • Pádraig O hOgáin (Gaillimh).
  • Máirtín O Rodaigh.
  • Seán O Súilleabháin.
  • Andrew O'Shaughnessy.
  • Liam Thrift.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Morrissey and Nagle. Nil: Deputies Dolan and icholls. Motion negatived.