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Dáil Éireann debate -
Friday, 28 Jun 1929

Vol. 30 No. 16

In Committee on Finance. - Vote 1—Governor-General's Establishment.

I move:—

Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £3,760 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íochta an Mhuirir a thiocfidh chun bheith iníochta i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1930, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Teaghlachas an tSeanascail (Uimh. 14 de '23).

That a sum not exceeding £3,760 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1930, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Governor-General's Establishment (No. 14 of '23).

As Deputies will see, there is very little change in this Vote as compared with last year's. There is a saving as a result of the abolition of the offices of medical attendant and assistant private secretary.

We are entirely opposed to the granting of this money. We regard it as a crime under present conditions to squander a sum of close upon £27,000 this year, when we know there are people unemployed whose families are on the verge of starvation. We are spending on this absolutely useless office a sum of money that could be earned on an average by 200 workers in any of our industries. If you take the Census of Production, you will find the average wages and salaries earned by those employed in industry amounts to about £133 a year. It means, therefore, that on this absolutely useless office—I will show later it is worse than useless—we are spending a sum of money equivalent to that earned annually by 200 people employed in industry. In other words, in maintaining this office we are spending a sum of money which ordinarily would maintain about 1,000 individuals. Why should we do it? It is not compulsory on us to spend that money even under the Treaty. The expenditure of part of that money, I will admit, is undertaken under an Article of the Constitution. We have heard a good deal about our independent status from members on the opposite benches. If we are independent we ought not to spend on a useless office the money that is so badly required in other directions. I call it a useless office. As I indicated, I regard it as even far worse. That office is regarded by the majority of our people as a symbol of our defeat and as a badge of our slavery. That the people of this country should be taxed to maintain that symbol is one of the most disgusting things that exists in this whole régime.

I pointed out last year that the average amount spent in this connection for a number of years was £28,000. That sum is now stabilised at about £27,000 a year. In the Constitution an obligation was foolishly undertaken to give a salary to our Governor-General equal to the salary that is given to the Governor-General in Australia. Australia has a population well over twice the population of the Free State.

The Deputy is aware, of course, that the Governor-General's salary does not come under this Vote but is dealt with elsewhere.

I am quite aware of it, but I am anxious to point out that, in addition to the salary, we are making extra provision for the Governor-General's establishment. This person is not asked to meet out of his salary a single one of the expenses which an ordinary person has to meet out of his salary. We are giving this huge sum of money, and, in all conscience, it should be sufficient to meet everything connected with that office. As I was pointing out, our population is only half the population of Australia, and our State revenues are only one-third of the revenues of Australia. If we have this independence we hear so much talk about, I think the proper manner in which to exercise it would be to say that we are not going to spend on this office a sum of money which, relatively, is three times the sum spent in Australia. Similarly, if we compare ourselves with Canada, we find that the population of Canada is about three times our population, and its revenues are also three times greater. In all matters concerning finance we ought to have a sense of proportion. Remember that in Australia you have a territory which is roughly one hundred times the size of ours. The same applies to Canada. There is natural wealth in these countries many times greater than ours. If it is not nearly in the proportion of one to one hundred, still the natural wealth possessed by those countries is many times greater than ours.

What does the occupant of this office do for us? Is there anybody here who imagines that the people of Ireland would be otherwise than better pleased that the elected head of the State should be the real head of the State? Is there anybody here who will say that the people of Ireland will not be very much better pleased if this rubber stamp were done away with and if those who are really the Executive, as they tell us they are, were put in the position in which it would be plain to everybody that they are the Executive? If that were done we would save an expenditure of £10,000 a year which is given to this rubber stamp, and we would be saving the extra provision of £16,000 a year for the upkeep of his establishment. Last year I pointed out the ridiculousness of the provision made by referring to the United States of America. The salary of the working head of the United States can be met from the taxation paid by 117,000,000 of people. They bear the proportion of taxation which falls upon them, and they are the richest people in the world, probably. They have a territory about one hundred times the size of this country. Here, as the result of partition and the rest of it, we are paying £10,000 a year to one nominal head of the State, and another gentleman in the North gets £8,500.

That is, in this small island a total of £18,500 has to be found for the salary of those individuals, and in addition to all that, an extravagant sum provided for the upkeep of their establishments. The salary of the President of the United States is only £15,000—that is, it is £3,500 less than the combined salaries of the two Governors-General here, whom we have at the head of the two States in this country. It seems to me to be ridiculous, and any Deputy who will vote for it must be wanting in a sense of proportion, particularly when those in favour of the Treaty, and who think that it must be maintained at all costs, are not bound by the Treaty itself to provide an establishment of this sort. I suggested last year that the signing of Bills could be very well done by the Chief Justice. The President of the Executive Council, in reply, said it was a wrong principle that the judge should have anything to do with the making of the law. The mere attesting or countersigning of an Act which would have been, in the first instance, I expect, signed by the Ceann Comhairle here and the Chairman of the Seanad, as long as you have a Seanad, would not be participating, in any ordinary sense of the word, in the making of the laws. If the Executive is the real Executive, let us have done with nonsense and the fripperies of this particular office. What does he do? Go to a few functions. We are told by the Minister for Finance that it is necessary to have somebody to entertain. Nevertheless, the people who ought to have the first obligation to entertain in this country are the people who at present have to leave it, and the other people we ought to entertain are the people on the unemployment list at the moment. We ought not to spend what would maintain two hundred families, or one thousand individuals, on a gentleman who will go around to visit a few race meetings and go to a few functions. As I said, it is not really useless; but, on the whole, the people in this country regard it as a definite symbol of their defeat, and the sooner that office is abolished the better will it be for the people of this country as a whole. If there are people who are insisting on maintaining him, at least let them get a sense of proportion and see what it would be right for the revenue of this State, with our resources, to spend on him. We in this State do not want that office. We believe it can be very well done without; it is ridiculous for us to be paying a sum of £27,000 a year for a rubber stamp.

I would like some information on those matters. This is a gentleman to whom we are paying a salary of £10,000 a year.

The salary does not arise on this Vote at all.

I think a gentleman drawing that amount should, at least, be able to pay his servants.

I certainly object to the payment of £1,825 for salaries, wages and allowances of the household staff. I would like to know what check there is on these expenses. I notice an item of £3,000 allowance to the Governor-General for expenses. I would like to know how that arises. I think he ought to pay his ordinary expenses out of the £10,000. A most extraordinary thing is an item for motor car replacement. Last year he got £1,000 for a new motor car. Surely to goodness he could not absolutely destroy a motor car costing £1,000 in twelve months, unless he took it into all the bog holes down the country. Now he wants £740 for a new car this year. We are told in the note that there are arrears due for replacement, after providing £1,000 for a new car last year. I object to this because, as this official knows, we have a motor factory in Cork that is giving employment to six or seven thousand men.

Making motor tractors.

That firm turns out motor cars as well as tractors, even if the cars are produced elsewhere. I consider that a gentleman who draws a salary of £10,000 yearly should, at least, have the patriotism to order a motor car from a firm that gives employment to about seven thousand hands in this country. That is the point I wish to bring forward.

How many Ford cars have the people on the opposite benches got?

Let the Deputy make his speech.

I wish that dumb-bell would keep quiet until I am finished. Let him go back to the dogs. On looking over the salaries I wondered if the comptroller of the household is a kind of high class butler. I presume he gets £600 for looking after the grub for the Governor-General, and seeing that he is properly fed. I think that is extraordinary. I see that he has a private secretary and an assistant private secretary, each drawing £350 yearly. No; I am wrong; I see that one private secretary was got rid of last year. I congratulate the Governor-General on finding that he wants only one private secretary this year to put on the stamps. I think it is a disgrace for an Executive Council to allow this state of affairs to continue, while leaving the dependents of those who died for the independence of the country to draw home assistance, so that they may live and keep out of the poor-house. I think it is a scandal, and I totally object to the payment of £16,000 to a gentleman who has a salary of £10,000. I think it is not in keeping with the condition of this piece of the island and I think it should be stopped. Unless the Executive Council stop it we will have to get some other means of doing so.

I want to say briefly that we have made our position very clear on this Vote on several occasions, especially last year, and I do not want to refer to it at any great length now. We recognise that under the Treaty settlement it was accepted that this position was created, but we feel that it is not necessary to maintain the establishment on the scale on which it has been maintained. There is no justification, in my opinion, for the inclusion of £3,000 in this Vote for the upkeep of the establishment of the Governor-General. Salaries of men in high positions are fixed in relation to the expenses they have to bear, and that, no doubt, was taken into account in fixing the figure for the Governor-General's salary which, to my mind, is altogether too large. I agree with Deputy de Valera that in that matter at all events we should not be anxious to be placed on terms of equality with either Canada or Australia, because we cannot afford to do so. I think that the allowance for expenses is one that we might very well cut out. The President of the State has only a quarter to the salary of the Governor-General, and he gets no special grant of this nature for the expenses which he, and any man in his position, must necessarily incur. For that reason we will vote against this Estimate as we have done on previous occasions.

Nílim chun mórán do rá ar an Vóta so. Dubhairt mo cháirde annso a riabh le rá agam, beagnach. Aontuighim le Tomás O Conaill, Teachta, nach gá an méid seo airgid do chaitheamh. Ní mór dúinn a thuigsint go bhfuil na daoine annso atá ar thaobh an Chonnartha, ar thaobh na h-oifige seo, agus chófada agus atáid annsin beidh an oifig sin annsin. Nítheastuigheann uaim-se í do choinneáil annsin, ach do réir an Chonnartha beidh sí annsin chó fada agus a bheidh siad-san annsin. Ach nuair do bhí an Connradh fé dhíospóireacht, roinnt blian ó shoin, bhí níos mó ná duine amháin de'n tuairim go gcuirfí an duine seo isteach in oifig bheag imBaile Ath Cliath, nach geaithfí morán airgid leis, nach mbeadh mórán tráchta air agus nach dtiocfadh sé ós cóir na ndaoine ar chor ar bith. Ba é sin tuairim na ndaoine nuair a bhí an Connradh fé dhíospóireacht. Ach ní mar sin a thuit an sgéal amach nuair a cuireadh an Connradh i bhféidhm. Aontuighim go láidir le Tomás O Connaill. Teachta, nach gá an t-airgead so do chaitheamh ar an oifig seo; is féidir claoidh leis an gConnradh gan an t-airgead so do chaitheamh leis an duine seo agus gan é do thabhairt ós cóir an phobail mar atá á dhéanamh fé láthair. Níl aon rud sa Chonnradh a cuirfeadh d'fhiachaibh ar an Rialtas an méid airgid seo do thabhairt do'n Seanascal no an teach no an oifig seo do thabhairt dó; níl aon ghá é do thabhairt ós cóir an phobail agus é do dhéanamh chó-údarásach agus a dheineann an tAire é ós cóir an phobail. Dá mba mhian leo, thiocfadh leo an oifig seo do laigheadú ar shlí go ndéanfadh na daoine dearmad air. Ba mhaith le n-a lán daoine atá ar thaobh an Chonnartha é sin do dhéanamh. Má's mian leis an Rialtas, is féidir leo sin do dhéanamh. Ach ní féidir leo é do dhéanamh agus an méid seo airgid do chaitheamh leis an oifig gach blian.

We have heard very much the same kind of arguments on this Vote as we heard on previous occasions, and I do not suppose that there is anything very new that I can say in reply to them. Deputy de Valera's talk about the other uses that could be made of this money makes no impression on me. I do not believe that it represents his point of view. There is nothing in his attitude on other questions that indicates that any kind of expenditure which does not directly give employment to the poor, shall we say, is to be condemned. There are many kinds of expenditure which are in their nature essentially the same as the expenditure on the Governor-General that have the support of Deputy de Valera and of the Fianna Fáil Party. The expenditure on, say, foreign representation is essentially expenditure of the same nature. It does not give employment to those who are in need in the congested districts or in our cities. The returns that it gives to the nation, though important, are not returns that can be measured by direct economic results. Therefore, I regard the attack made by Deputy de Valera on this Vote as simply the old attack on the Treaty, and I do not propose to deal with that at all.

I would say, in passing, that it is ridiculous to suggest that if this Vote were not here some two hundred people might be given employment who are unemployed now. This money goes down through the hands of the Governor-General, and most of it gives employment. The Deputy was not merely talking about the money in this Vote, but about cognate expenditure. A great deal of that money gives employment, and probably employment not very different from the employment it would give if it were not taken out of the taxpayers' pockets or if it were expended directly on employment.

I have stated before that my view is that the expenditure on this office is not excessive. I do not think it is possible to fix a standard of expenditure for this office by reference to expenditure in other countries, though we might look at the expenditure in other countries as affording us some guidance. I do think that if there were different circumstances politically, if there were the full acceptance of the Treaty and the full acceptance of this office, which I think will come, from the national point of view more money could usefully be spent on it, money which would not, as the Deputy would perhaps pretend, be denationalising in its effect but would be the opposite. However, that is a matter, perhaps, for argument at some future time.

Deputy O'Kelly said that when the Treaty was passed various people had the view that everything possible should be done to minimise the office of the Governor-General, and that everything possible should be done to keep him, as it were, in the background. I have no doubt that a great many people held that view, but those who held that view believed that we would have appointed as Governor-General from time to time some English peer whose influence in the country would be a denationalising influence, and for that reason they took up the attitude that they did take up. I do not think that even those of us who took the most optimistic view at the time of the Treaty were at all sure that we would have by now reached the position which has actually been reached. where the Governor-General is definitely the nominee of the Government here, where he is appointed solely on their recommendation, appointed without consultation with and without having any regard to the wishes or the desires of the Government in England. I am certain that my own view of the office of Governor-General is different, because the position is what it is, from the view I would have taken of the office of Governor-General if the appointment had been in reality made by the British Government, and if the Governor-General had been a stranger, sent into our midst for a period.

I need hardly deal with the details of the Vote. We were bound to provide a salary for the Governor-General, and in negotiating with the British after the Treaty we accepted for the Governor-General the salary of the Governor-General of Australia. I think, strictly speaking, by the Treaty we could have been held to be bound to provide a salary equal to the salary of the Governor-General of Canada, but it was agreed that the salary should be the same as that of the Governor-General of Australia. We were bound to provide not merely a salary but an establishment. If Deputies would consider this matter in the ordinary way, instead of using it as a means of starting the old arguments about the Treaty, I do not think that they would regard the amount as excessive. Certainly it would be impossible for anybody to maintain the sort of establishment that it is necessary for the Governor-General to maintain, if he is to discharge any of the duties of an official host, on the salary that is provided. The other sums are certainly required.

We have here the beginning of a diplomatic corps. We are going to have additional ministers appointed here shortly, and it is possible that ultimately there will be a greater number in that diplomatic corps than can be foreseen now. I have no intimation that it is going to happen immediately; I have no official intimation at all about it, but I think it is likely that there will be a British representative on a diplomatic basis appointed here. We are certainly going to have an addition to the American representation here, we will have a Papal representative shortly, and we will have French and German Ministers. There will be expenditure by those people on hospitality and on certain types of social activities, and in my opinion it would be against the public interest if there was no public officer here who could do some of these things on behalf of the Free State. In other countries where much lesser sums than that voted here may appear clearly on the face of the Estimate, for similar purposes, in reality much greater sums may be spent. Our form of Estimates enable Deputies to see the full expenditure. In various other countries it is not possible for anybody but an expert, and, in fact, in some of them I doubt if it is possible, even for an expert, to see what the cost is. Various sorts of activities are charged under different Votes and under a variety of headings that make it impossible to see what the actual outlay is.

Question put.
The Commitee divided: Tá, 63; Níl, 59.

Aird, William P.Beckett, James Walter.Bennett, George Cecil.Blythe, Ernest.Bourke, Séamus A.Brodrick, Seán.Byrne, John Joseph.Carey, Edmund.Collins-O'Driscoll, Mrs. Margt.Conlon, Martin.Connolly, Michael P.Cosgrave, William T.Daly, John.De Loughrey, Peter.Doherty, Eugene.Dolan, James N.Doyle, Peadar Seán.Duggan, Edmund John.Dwyer, James.Egan, Barry M.Fitzgerald, Desmond.Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.Gorey, Denis J.Hassett, John J.Heffernan, Michael R.Hennessy, Michael Joseph.Hennessy, Thomas.Hennigan, John.Henry, Mark.Hogan, Patrick (Galway).Holohan, Richard.Jordan, Michael.

Kelly, Patrick Michael.Keogh, Myles.Law, Hugh Alexander.Lynch, Finian.Mathews, Arthur Patrick.McDonogh, Martin.MacEóin, Seán.McFadden, Michael Og.McGilligan, Patrick.Mongan, Joseph W.Mulcahy, Richard.Murphy, James E.Nally, Martin Michael.Nolan, John Thomas.O'Connell, Richard.O'Connor, Bartholomew.O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.O'Higgins, Thomas.O'Leary, Daniel.O'Mahony, Dermot Gun.O'Reilly, John J.O'Sullivan, John Marcus.Rice, Vincent.Roddy, Martin.Sheehy, Timothy (West Cork).Thrift, William Edward.Tierney, Michael.White, John.White, Vincent Joseph.Wolfe, George.Wolfe, Jasper Travers.


Aiken, Frank.Allen, Denis.Anthony, Richard.Blaney, Neal.Boland, Gerald.Boland, Patrick.Bourke, Daniel.Brady, Seán.Briscoe, Robert.Broderick. Henry.Buckley, Daniel.Carney, Frank.Carty, Frank.Cassidy, Archie J.Clancy, Patrick.Clery, Michael.Coburn, James.Colbert, James.Colohan, Hugh.Cooney, Eamon.Corkery, Dan.Corish, Richard.Corry, Martin John.Crowley, Tadhg.Derrig, Thomas.De Valera, Eamon.Dovle, Edward.Fahy, Frank.Flinn, Hugo.Gorry, Patrick J.

Goulding, John.Houlihan, Patrick.Jordan, Stephen.Kennedy, Michael Joseph.Kent, William R.Kerlin, Frank.Killilea, Mark.Kilroy, Michael.Lemass, Seán. F.Little, Patrick John.Maguire, Ben.McEllistrim. Thomas.MacEntee, Seán.Moore, Séamus.Mullins, Thomas.O'Connell, Thomas J.O'Kelly, Seán T.O'Leary, William.O'Reilly, Matthew.O'Reilly, Thomas.Powell, Thomas P.Ruttledge, Patrick J.Ryan, James.Sexton, Martin.Sheehy, Timothy (Tipp.).Smith, Patrick.Tubridy, John.Walsh, Richard.Ward, Francis C.

Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Duggan and P. S. Doyle; Níl: Deputies G. Boland and Allen. Motion declared carried.