With regard to the amendments to Section 2, I propose to put the question on amendment 1 in this form: That in line 42 the words "has been resident" stand. If these words stand, a residence qualification of some kind remains in. I will then be able to take Deputy Thrift's amendment, which is an endeavour to make the two years' period into a three years' period by putting the question that the word "two" stand. Deputy Good's amendment 3 hangs on his amendment 5 and the debate on the whole question could be taken on amendment 5. So I will put amendments 1, 2 and 4.
Orders of the Day. - Poor Relief (Dublin) Bill, 1929—Third Stage.
I move amendment 1:—
"To delete all words after the word `workhouse,' line 41, to the end of the section."
The purpose of this Bill originally was to give relief to all people who were destitute, and to bring Dublin City into line with the rest of the country. In the rest of the country, where a man is unable to obtain work the board of health is liable to give a small amount towards his subsistence. I am asking that the residence qualification be removed I find that, with the exception of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, the ratepayers of Dublin, according to a report of a meeting of that body, are not opposed to the proposal.
The statement is not correct.
A report appeared in the newspapers to-day of a meeting of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. In that report, it appears that one of the members mentioned the fact that there was no opposition to the Bill, notwithstanding that they had got a Commissioner to come to the Chamber and to warn the people of the great increase in the rates it would mean if this Bill were passed. Notwithstanding the propaganda of the Chamber of Commerce, they have failed to get the support of the ratepayers of Dublin in opposition to this Bill. The Dublin members are requesting that the Government should give a contribution towards any extra expense that will be incurred. It is only when Dublin is asked to give similar relief to that given in the rest of the country that we find the Dublin members united in appealing to the Government to bear a portion of the cost. We have no objection, but I would ask them to remember the ratepayers in other areas. The amount of relief given in my county in 1923 was less than £5,000. The cost of home assistance now given in small sums to able-bodied men with dependants who are willing to work and unable to obtain work is £15,000. Dublin is complaining that its rates have increased, but their rates, according to Deputy Byrne, have increased from £163,000 to £264,000. So Dublin rates have not increased in proportion to the rest of the country, as regards home assistance for the able-bodied.
I would appeal to those Deputies not to demand what I consider another boundary in this country. They are asking that a man who happens to be out of work should not get relief unless he was living for two years in the city. Some of the people who are making that appeal, have made huge fortunes out of the sweat of people like these, and are living outside the city themselves. Probably, outside of Dublin there are many people in receipt of relief at the present time, who are Dublin people. We have to maintain people who come from Dublin to the country looking for work; they are a charge upon our rates. We have in my own county at present a large number of people who are not natives of the county in receipt of home help. I would ask the Minister if he has any statistics as to the number of people who may not be native born or two years in Dublin and who will be likely to be looking for home help. I put it to him that the proportion is very small. If there are any persons from the country districts out of work in Dublin and who would be looking for home assistance, the proportion is altogether smaller than the proportion of Dublin people who have to be maintained in country districts. If the city of Dublin says that it is not going to fall into line with the rest of the country in this matter it will be going against the principle of the Poor Law Acts, because under these Acts a destitute man is entitled to get relief no matter from where he comes. The expense of officials in trying to find out whether persons have two years residence in the city will be greater than the amount of immediate relief that an able-bodied man who is willing to work, if he can get it, will ask the ratepayers to pay. It is not usual for a man from a country district who happens to be in the city to find himself out of work. It is not likely that such men, when out of work, will remain in the city. If only people with two years' residence are to get relief, it may hit the people of Dublin far harder, because we in the country districts will send back to Dublin those people who are at present getting home help, to be maintained at the expense of Deputy Good and other people.
Deputy Byrne says that men from the country districts are putting Dublin men out of employment, and another Deputy says that these men should be sent back to the place where they were born. If many of us were sent back to the place we were born in, probably some people would not be in the comfortable position that they are in to-day and would have smaller bank balances. I would remind the House that reprisals will take place from Cork up to my own county and that these Dublin people will get short shrift and will be sent back for the Dublin people to maintain them. We have never advocated that—I personally would not advocate it, because I hold that if a man is destitute, no matter where he comes from in the thirty-two counties, he is entitled to get relief, and no man, unless he is in very bad circumstances, will look for relief. What we on these benches want, even if the Bill is passed, is not relief, but employment for men who are willing to work, instead of looking for charity or doles.
The Deputy from Wicklow wants to add to the burden of the poor Dublin ratepayers. One would have thought that these ratepayers are being harassed quite sufficiently by the Bill already without Deputies from Wicklow wanting to add to that burden. The Deputy said that there was no opposition to this Bill outside the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. Might I read for him a resolution which reached me this morning passed by a council in part of the area which will have to carry the burden of the Bill—the Pembroke Urban District Council? The resolution was passed unanimously, one member not voting, and is as follows:—
The Pembroke Urban District Council desires to record its protest against the unjustifiable burden which will be cast upon the ratepayers should the Poor Relief (Dublin) Bill now before the Dáil be passed. The poor and unemployed from all areas in the Saorstát come to Dublin with the hope of obtaining employment, and after failing to do so become a charge on the ratepayers in the Dublin area. In the opinion of this council every county, including Dublin, should be called upon to carry its share of the burden.
In face of that I am afraid the Deputy must spend all his time in the country and very little in Dublin, if he is not aware of the fact that a large proportion of the ratepayers—I am satisfied it runs into 90 per cent.—are opposed to the burden imposed under this Bill. Let me say that they are not opposed to the principle of the Bill, as far as I know. As I said on the Second Reading, I have not heard a single protest against the giving of assistance to a destitute man or woman, but we do say that this Bill is unfair to the city, and for that reason we are opposed to it.
We on these benches agree entirely with the proposition put forward by Deputy Everett when he says that every destitute person should get relief. We maintain that under the Bill, as we have it here, that relief is provided for. It is set out there that every destitute person must get relief. If they do not get relief from the union they will get it outside. Those who come from outside the area are also dealt with in the Bill. Provision is made in the Bill for sending them back to the place that they are residents or inhabitants of. The Bill therefore provides for relief for every destitute person. We think that it is reasonable to ask that there should be some residence qualification, that two years is a reasonable period, and we propose therefore to vote for it. It may be that there are Dublin people who seek relief outside the Dublin area. They may go to Wicklow. Many people probably do, but not many destitute ones, I think, go to Wicklow. Many people who are ratepayers in Dublin live in County Wicklow, and Wicklow gets some return out of them. I do not think that any great proportion of destitute people go out of Dublin to seek work in the country —not anything like the same proportion goes out of Dublin as comes into it. Speaking from personal experience—and I think any Deputy living in Dublin will have had a similar experience—I know that a number of people come to my door day after day from the country looking for work or for money to take them back to the place where they came from. That is, as I say, an almost daily experience of mine, and I think I am no exception in the matter. As far as the citizens of Dublin are concerned, I think that it is fair to them to have a qualification of this kind, and we propose to stand by what is in the Bill.
I wish to emphasise on behalf of the ratepayers in the city of Dublin that they have no objection to shouldering their own liability and obligation to the destitute poor of the city.
What does it represent?
It represents that they have the strongest objection to shouldering the burdens of the whole country for the destitute poor which the Labour Party wants to have thrown upon them.
I hear the word "rubbish." Everything that I am saying here is absolutely true, and nobody knows that better than Deputy Everett. Deputy Everett throws out a terrific threat. He says that they are going to send back to the city of Dublin all the Dublin men who are unemployed in the County Wicklow. We are not at all frightened by that threat. If that happens one bus would contain the whole of the unemployed Dublin men who are sent back from Wicklow. We will look after them when they arrive.
Would you refuse to serve country customers who come to your shop?
As far as my shop is concerned, nobody gets anything there except he has money to pay for it, and I do not have regard to where he comes from. I say the ratepayers of Dublin are opposed to this Bill, and I say that the statement made by Deputy Everett is not correct, that the ratepayers are not opposed to it.
Read the Chamber of Commerce report.
I have no connection with the Chamber of Commerce. I represent the smaller people, and the smaller shopkeepers who are the largest ratepayers, and I say that they are opposed to this Bill which would throw upon their shoulders the support of the unemployed people coming into Dublin. Deputy Good has read a resolution which shows what real opposition there is to this Bill. The City Commissioners themselves are opposed to this Bill, the urban councils are opposed to it, the business men of the city are opposed to it, but we are not opposed to shouldering our liabilities to the destitute poor of the city. Deputy Everett contended that people will not remain in the city who do not find work. What happened after the disbandment of the National Army? Forty or fifty thousand people remained in the city of Dublin, and never left it. What will happen after the completion of the Shannon scheme? The people who will be unemployed will drift up to Dublin with the hope of finding employment.
Why not build a wall around the city of Dublin?
Deputy Everett referred to some figures, and there he was about as correct as in some of the other facts that he gave the Dáil. He said that I stated that £133,000 was spent here in relief of the destitute poor. That was the figure for 1914, but he should have gone along and said that in 1927 the sum of £264,000 was spent in Dublin on the destitute poor. Why cannot the Deputy be honest and straightforward and when he gives figures give correct figures? This Bill will mean the placing of half a million of money on the shoulders of the people of Dublin. We object to that, and not to taking our own fair share of the burden. We want to see that the destitute poor are not allowed to go hungry. That is the duty of all of us, and we are prepared to do it, but we strongly object to supporting the unemployed of the whole country, and that is the principle involved in this Bill.
In this amendment.
I did explain that the sum mentioned, as spent in 1914, by Deputy Byrne, was £133,000, and that it is now £264,000, but I pointed out that the increase was not in proportion to the increase we have to pay in the country, and that Dublin has not such a grievance.
As far as members of this Party are concerned, we realise that this Bill, if passed into law, will place a fairly big burden upon the ratepayers of Dublin city and county. But we want again to emphasise that Dublin is not being asked to do any more now than other parts of the country. Deputy Byrne said that Dublin was shouldering the burden of the whole country. That is not so. I might put it this way: that Dublin is living on the remainder of the country. That would be nearer the truth than Deputy Byrne's statement. We know, if this burden is put on the people of Dublin, the business people or others, in the end it will be the people down in the rural parts of the country who will have to pay it. People come up from the country on buses and trains and go into Deputy Byrne's shop and make purchases. That shows that the Deputy is transferring the burden put upon him to somebody else.
Competition is too keen for that.
I think it is most unfair to suggest that only those who are destitute and down and out come to Dublin from the country. We know that most of our pensioners, and also traders, who make a certain amount of money in other parts of the country, come up to Dublin and spend the remainder of their lives and their money there. Deputy Byrne told us that the people whom he represented and spoke for were against this Bill, and against even the principle of it. Deputy Good tells us that the people for whom he speaks are very sympathetic towards the poor, and are in favour of the principle of this Bill. Deputy Good knows as well as I do that the principle of this Bill is worth very little to the unemployed, and to those who are hungry unless the money is forthcoming.
I am rather surprised at the attitude taken up by Deputy O'Kelly. I believe Deputy O'Kelly has had experience in poor law administration, and I am satisfied he is a man who would like to see the unemployed and the destitute getting sufficient to keep them alive. Knowing the Deputy's very strong feelings upon any question of partition, I am surprised he should be in favour of a section of the Bill which aims at building a wall round the city and county of Dublin. We believe that the people who are destitute should be relieved. It is said that under the Bill those who do not come within the residence qualification can be sent back to their districts. How, and by whom? Who is going to pay? And what is to keep them between the time they make the application, and the time they are sent back, and the next meeting of the county board of health in their particular county? I know the Minister will probably say that the home assistance officers are entitled to give emergency relief. The Minister may not be aware that some of those county boards of health have given instructions against giving emergency relief, although the assistance officer is, by law, required to do so. I do not see that any serious case can be made against Deputy Everett's amendment. Deputy Byrne does not try to make any case whatever, and Deputy Good has not tried to make any case against it The gist of Deputy Good's speech was that those for whom he speaks are in favour of the principle of the Bill. As I say, the principle of the Bill is of no use to those who are unemployed and looking for food. Again, it ought to be emphasised that Dublin is not being asked to do any more under this Bill than the other poor law authorities in the country are doing already.
Really the only point at issue in connection with these amendments is the one referred to by Deputy O'Kelly. This is no question of erecting a wall around Dublin city and county. At the moment you have this position in Dublin city and county, that you have workhouses and that indoor relief is afforded. Because an amalgamation scheme has not been set up in Dublin city and county, the provisions with regard to relief for the able-bodied have not, up to the present, applied. This Bill proposes to apply them. In deciding in the special circumstances of Dublin city and county how, in this temporary measure, relief to the able-bodied should be applied, it is proposed that relief, outside institutions, will only be given to persons who have a residence qualification here. There is no question at all of denying relief to persons with a non-residence qualification. The Bill provides that they can be relieved in the institutions that exist in Dublin city and county for the provision of indoor relief. On the application of a person without a residence qualification, the payment by the guardians in the city and county of Dublin of his travelling expenses to a place where the board is satisfied "that such removal is likely to enable such person to support himself and his dependants by his own industry or other lawful means" can be made, On the board being satisfied that his removal will help him to support himself by industry or otherwise— by being kept by his friends or in any other way—the travelling expenses to the place suggested by the applicant himself can be paid.
Could the Minister say in how many cases he expects that to arise?
There is no question of taking a man and saying to him, "You are destitute here and you have no residence qualification here; we will remove you to the board of health area of such-and-such a county." There is no proposal to do anything like that. The point that Deputy Morrissey raises about another county board of health coming into the matter does not arise at all.
But it does.
It does not.
Are these people to starve, then?
The point at issue then is simply this: that Deputies want to secure that every person applying for relief in the county and city of Dublin can, subject to the discretion of the guardians, get outdoor relief. The proposition in the Bill is that certain institutions exist in the county and city of Dublin at present for the giving of indoor relief. It is proposed to utilise those institutions for that purpose so that, say, people coming from the rural districts into Dublin without any prospect of getting employment in the city, but coming in the hope that they can get relief in the city, will not be invited by any arrangement here to leave the country and come into the city. There is the danger with regard to the city and county of Dublin that, if there was no residence qualification, people at the present moment in the rural districts would be attracted to the city. They would come up here really looking for relief, whilst pretending to look for employment. The difference between other counties and the city and county of Dublin is not so marked, for the giving of outdoor relief to able-bodied people is a matter of discretion with those dealing with the distribution of relief. In these circumstances, if there is anything unreasonable in the situation of a person who applies to a local body down the country for relief, it is entirely in the hands of the local body as to whether they will give it or not. As far as I know, there has not been any scrap of complaint from any area that persons from other counties or other areas have been applying for this particular class of relief in their area.
I would like to know from the Minister if the Commissioners administering home help in Dublin have the same discretion as members of boards of health in their counties?
The Minister has unconsciously, I think, made a speech in favour of the amendment moved by Deputy Everett. He has stated that the destitute poor resident in Dublin city or county for less than two years will be entitled to indoor relief under the provisions of this Bill, but that they will not be entitled to outdoor relief. I would like to know from the Minister if he has taken into consideration the fact that, in most cases, indoor relief costs more than outdoor relief, while of course it must not be forgotten that the giving of the latter helps to keep the homes of many people together. The Minister has not contradicted the statement of Deputy Morrissey that this amendment only asks that the same treatment be given to the destitute poor in the city and county of Dublin, as is already being given in other counties through the boards of health. As far as Dublin men are concerned, they have always been looked upon in other parts of the country as people with a very broad outlook. I must say that the remarks of Deputy Good and of Deputy J. J. Byrne would give one the impression that they have a very narrow outlook. They want, as it were, to get preferential treatment for the city and county of Dublin as against the other counties. It has been asserted by the Chamber of Commerce and by Deputy Good, I think, at one time, that Dublin was carrying the rest of the country on its back. I believe it is the other way about. I believe that if a wall were built around Dublin city and county, and that the trade of those residing within that area was cut away from the rest of the country, there would be no necessity for the existence of such a body as the Chamber of Commerce.
Deputy Good made what I can only describe as a laughable plea on behalf of the poor Dublin ratepayers. I suggest to him that he does not represent the poor ratepayers in Dublin city and county who—and I admit there are some— are altogether in favour of this Bill. They believe that the destitute people in the city and county of Dublin, even if they are not resident here for two years, should be relieved in the same way as the destitute poor are relieved in the other counties of the Saorstát. Deputy Good referred to the fact that the Dublin Chamber of Commerce was not the only body that passed a resolution condemning this section in the Bill. The Deputy quoted a resolution that was passed by the Pembroke Urban District Council. The Deputy, however, did not tell us who the mover of the resolution was at the meeting of that council. I wonder would I be correct in saying ——
Would it not be better for the House not to worry about that? Simply take it that it was the resolution of a local body, and not go into the personnel of that local body?
I was going to say it was moved by a member of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. As far as Deputy J. J. Byrne is concerned, listening to his speech one would come to the conclusion that the Deputy cares very little for the destitute poor in Dublin.
I object to that statement being made.
I am only just commenting on the speech that the Deputy has made. The Deputy appears to be more interested in the wealthier classes of ratepayers in Dublin City and County than he is, say, in those who reside around Talbot Street, Gloucester Street, Gardiner Street and other areas around there. The Deputy is really asking for preferential treatment for Dublin City and County. Might I point out that Dublin City and County has already got preferential treatment because, in regard to tariffs that were put on certain articles, Dublin got the benefit of the industries that were established and the employment given as a result of them.
What portion of the city is going to bear the £500,000 which will be imposed under this Bill?
Where did the Deputy get his figure?
From the City Commissioners.
Keep to the residence qualification.
I do not know that Deputy Byrne's figure is correct. I put it that any money taken from the ratepayers under the provisions of this Bill, if Deputy Everett's amendment is accepted, will go towards the cost of relieving the destitute in the city and county, for whom I am sorry Deputy Byrne has not more regard. If a person who has not the two years' residential qualification is given indoor relief that will be more costly than if he were given outdoor relief. I think the House should support the amendment moved by Deputy Everett, which will not alone help the destitute poor in the city and county of Dublin, but will also help the ratepayers, because otherwise the cost would be greater in the long run. I think the House would be well advised to accept the amendment.
Deputy Morrissey stated that he had some difficulty in understanding Deputy O'Kelly's attitude in relation to this amendment. I have listened very carefully to the speeches which have been made in support of the amendment, and I have not yet satisfied myself that I have discovered a real reason why the amendment was tabled. Deputy Morrissey gave in the course of his remarks only one such reason, and one which indicated that he had either not read or failed to grasp the proposals contained in the Bill. Deputy Everett did give one reason which, I think, requires examination, and that is the difficulty which will arise in determining the two years' residence qualification, and the expense which may be involved in making inquiries in that connection. I asked the Minister for Local Government on the occasion of the Second Reading to inform us as to the actual machinery which it was proposed to set up for the purpose of deciding disputed cases in relation to the residence qualification, and he could not inform me what the machinery would be. He said it would be a matter for the City Commissioners to decide. I would like if he could give any more information on that matter now, because it seems to me that no matter what appears in the Bill the residence qualification will, in fact, prove to be inoperative because of the difficulty of proving or disproving statements made by the applicants for relief. The case for the maintenance of the residence qualification is that there is undoubtedly a drift towards Dublin of the unemployed from the rest of the country. That statement can be and has been questioned. I ask those who doubt it to do no more than examine the census returns for the year 1926.
That applies to all cities and towns.
Yes, to all cities to an extent, and to some towns, but to Dublin more than any other. The mere fact that the population of Dublin is increasing and continues to increase while the population of the entire country is decreasing is proof that the abolition of the residence qualification would mean that the destitute poor at present coming to Dublin from any other part of the country would be immediately in the position to qualify for outdoor relief. That would tend to increase the drift of the unemployed towards Dublin, and, in my opinion, such a result would be nationally bad. Let us be quite clear about this. There is adequate provision in the Bill for dealing with the destitute poor that have been resident in Dublin for more than two years. They can get outdoor relief. If they have been resident in Dublin for less than two years either they can be sent at the expense of the Dublin ratepayers to any other place where they can secure employment or maintain themselves through their own efforts, or else they can, at the expense of the Dublin ratepayers, be maintained in the workhouses. There is, I admit, a strong case in favour of outdoor relief as against institutional relief. Deputy Cassidy is on fairly sure ground in his argument in that connection, but he has not, I think, examined the position far enough. In the first place, the question of preserving family life will not arise, for the only persons debarred from getting outdoor relief will be the destitute poor from the country with less than two years' residence, and they will not be people with families.
I grant that in a small number of cases they may, but in the majority of cases they will be young people who come to Dublin for the purpose of getting employment and who will find themselves temporarily destitute here. Deputy Cassidy argued that the cost of indoor relief is greater than the cost of outdoor relief. It is per head, but it is not the cost per head that is worrying the ratepayers of Dublin, but the total cost of the whole scheme, and the total cost of providing indoor relief to the destitute poor who are without the two years' residence qualification will, I am convinced, be less than the cost of providing outdoor relief.
What are the approximate figures?
I cannot give the approximate figures. The scheme has not been in operation, and we can only make up our minds upon our own calculations as to what the results of the various provisions will be. My conclusion is that the abolition of the residence qualification will increase the drift of the unemployed towards Dublin. People who might come to Dublin for the purpose of seeking employment here are prevented by the prospect of being here a considerable time without getting work, but if the residence qualification is abolished they will come knowing that if they cannot get work immediately they can get outdoor relief——
They can get that at home.
Yes, but they cannot get employment at home. There is no doubt that though there is considerable unemployment in Dublin there is more employment in Dublin than in the country, and the person who cannot get work in the country may get employment in Dublin. There is more employment here, and the destitute person will feel that there is some prospect of improving his position in Dublin and that there is no prospect in the rural area in which he is resident, and as he can get outdoor relief in Dublin as he can at home he will come to Dublin and take the chance of getting any work that may be available. Deputy Morrissey was wrong in his interpretation of the Bill when he said it proposed to send a person with less than two years' residence qualification back to the area he came from. There is no such proposal in the Bill.
What is the proposal?
It is to send that person at the ratepayers' expense to any place where he can get work. As far as I can make out, he can be sent to any union area in the country.
Or give him indoor relief.
He can get indoor relief, otherwise.
Which would prevent him from getting a job.
There is a case to be made for outdoor relief in preference to indoor relief from a theoretical point of view, but this Bill imposes a substantial burden upon the ratepayers of Dublin. so much so that one of its effects will be to increase the number of unemployed, as there are struggling industries that may go under as a result of this burden, and new industries which might otherwise be started will not be started because of the high rates that will prevail. Let us consider that aspect of the question. The burden will be very heavy. I do not agree with Deputy Byrne that the ratepayers are opposed to the Bill. I think the general attitude in Dublin amongst the ratepayers is that there is the duty to provide for the destitute poor, and that though the burden will be very heavy they would like to meet that burden, and they do not want to shirk their obvious duty to the destitute poor. It is obviously in the national interest that the burden should not be unduly increased, and it would, I think, be unduly increased if the residence qualification was abolished, not merely because there will be that drift of the unemployed towards Dublin for the purpose of getting relief out of the rates, but also because the whole work of the scheme will be impeded by its deletion. As I said in the beginning, I am not at all sure that the residential qualification will prove workable, but there should be some means of checking any such tendency on the part of the unemployed, destitute poor throughout the country gravitating to Dublin for the purpose of seeking work, knowing that while they are looking for it they will be maintained out of the rates in Dublin. I think that the residential qualification of two years is fair, because they can get institutional relief or get back to some place where they can get employment. The ratepayers are not shirking their duty to the poor. They are devising a method to meet that duty which will make the burden to themselves lighter in consequence.
Deputy Byrne claims to be the eloquent spokesman of the poor down-and-out shopkeeper, the poor fellow who can buy potatoes at threepence per stone from a countryman and sell them at tenpence per stone. The poor down-and-out shopkeeper passes on this and every other charge to the persons who buy in his shop. Deputy Byrne admitted that he is always willing to welcome any person coming into his shop, even those who come from the country, to buy anything which he is in a position to sell so long as he gets a reasonable return. I suggest that if he is prepared to take money from a countryman who buys what he has to sell, he should take the risk involved in having people coming to the city to get employment and subsequently losing it. He should shoulder the responsibility which will save that individual from starvation. Deputy Lemass made a far better case in support of the Bill than the Minister attempted to make, but neither the Minister nor Deputy Lemass, unlike the Chambers of Commerce, the "Irish Independent" and other newspapers, which are bawling and groaning about this Bill, gave us anything like reliable estimates as to the cost of the Bill. I want to know from the Minister what would be the charge which, in the ordinary course, would fall on the Dublin city and county ratepayers by leaving out the two years' residence qualification and what would be saved to those ratepayers by the inclusion of that qualification. I think that we should have figures from the Minister, as I am not, and apparently Deputy Lemass is not, disposed to accept the figures which have been floating around from the Chamber of Commerce and other bodies which represent nobody.
Would the Deputy undertake to give an estimate as to the extent of the influx there might be from the country if you gave relief to the able-bodied poor without a residential qualification?
The Minister has all the information to answer that.
I am not a prophet.
I am asking a question, which I am entitled to ask, from the only person who can, if anybody can, produce reliable figures.
Surely it is a question to which the Deputy does not expect an answer. Is it not purely a rhetorical question?
Like many Irishmen, the Minister answers a question by asking another and thereby evading it.
Does the Deputy suggest that I am paid for prophesying what the influx of the unemployed into Dublin would be if we introduced a Bill to give relief to everybody who is destitute and unemployed without a residential qualification?
I will leave the Minister where he has left me—in the dark.
You are in the dark already.
We are looking for light, and I am willing to accept information from the eloquent spokesman of the poor down-and-out shopkeeper. Deputy Lemass contradicted himself in his enthusiasm, I suppose, for the measure. I agree that it is right and proper for Deputies O'Kelly and Lemass to shout and bawl as much as they can against the Bill, but what about Deputy Boland or Deputy Sheehy from Tipperary? What have they to say on this matter? Are they in agreement with the Front Bench shadow Ministers in backing the Government in support of this measure? That is a coalition which we sometimes see in this House—the Minister for Local Government and the shadow Minister for Local Government backing each other in building a wall to divide the rich from the poor, but not in building a wall to keep out of the city those who have money to buy anything from the shopkeepers. Deputy Lemass stated that the drift towards the city is a drift of the unemployed, and he went on to say that it is a drift of people who come to the city to take up employment and who subsequently become destitute and unemployed. Which is it?
I suggest that there is such a thing in this country as movable occupations and nobody knows that better than Deputy Good. Deputy Good and people in his line of business, in the building trade, often induce men, such as plasterers, carpenters, and bricklayers, to come from the country in the hope of getting permanent employment in the city building trades. Deputy Good and others who are similarly circumstanced get people to leave their homes, such as they are, in the country on the assumption that they will get permanent employment here, but these people subsequently find themselves out of work without any home to which they can return. That often happens in the building trade. There are many operatives walking around the city who came to Dublin some years ago in the hope that the work which they got would be permanent. Deputy Good suggests that they should be shifted back or given indoor relief which might possibly prevent them from getting any employment that might be going. Deputy Byrne was suffering from an elastic imagination when he suggested that between 40,000 and 50,000 of National Army men were thrown on the city when they were demobilised. Does Deputy Byrne know that the strength of the National Army never exceeded the figure of 52,000? I suggest that he is suffering from an elastic imagination when he says that 40,000 of them were thrown on the ratepayers of the city.
I am safe in saying that 40,000 of them remained in Dublin.
The present Minister for Local Government was Minister for Defence when the National Army was at its height, and I am sure that he is in a position to tell his colleague in the representation of North City that there were never 40,000 Army men stationed in Dublin. Deputy Colohan knows that very well, because a big percentage of them were stationed at Cork, or rather at the Curragh. What I meant to say was that a good number of them came from Cork, but were stationed at the Curragh. It is quite true that the Dublin ratepayers are actually living on the fat of the land. Any wealth or extravagance that one can see in the country to-day is to be seen in the principal streets of the city. Those who make money out of the people who work on the land are spending it in the city upon themselves, but apparently they are not able to do anything for the down-and-out people who may come from the country to seek employment here and become destitute.
Do the people who come from the country not get value for their money?
I would like to ask Deputy Davin how he would put the burden on those who are living wastefully, as he suggests, and not on the poorer classes who have to pay rates.
I sympathise with Deputy Lemass as to the results of the measure, but if Deputy Lemass will, as the Minister will not, give us some reliable figures which will go to show what is the present cost, supposing it were administered properly, of giving relief to the destitute poor in the city without the inclusion of this residential qualification clause, and with it, then we will be in a position to know where we are.
I must say that I am not at all in sympathy with a residential clause in the administration of relief, but one must view this matter from all angles, and I have sympathy with the Dublin ratepayers who are being asked to shoulder the burden of the whole country. If Deputy Everett was correct in his contention, in introducing the amendment, it would indicate that at the present time in Dublin City there must be a tremendous number of destitute poor who are under two years in the city. I wish to disagree with Deputy Everett on that, and I am satisfied that the number who would be affected at the present time by the residential clause is not so very big. None of us has any figures and none of us can say how many will be affected by the residential clause. I am prepared to say, as a result of an investigation that I have been trying to make over the week-end, that the number of destitute poor from the country will not be so great, as distinct from the poor in Dublin itself. I think that Deputy Lemass is quite right in saying that, if this residential clause was not inserted in the Bill, we might find ourselves in Dublin called upon to shoulder the burden of the nation, and we are not prepared to do that. The Government will not solve the unemployment question as a national problem, and certainly it cannot be expected that Dublin City itself should take the whole burden on its shoulders.
The figures which Deputy Davin asked for would certainly be interesting, but we cannot get these figures, and I think it is a waste of time for Deputy Davin and Deputy Byrne to be haranguing each other as to what happened the demobilised members of the National Army, when we know that if the whole 52,000 had been disbanded in Dublin and remained here, their maintenance would be on the shoulders of the ratepayers here, according to this Bill, because it is over two years since disbandment took place. We are trying to give relief to those who require it. The position is that Dublin will have to shoulder a big burden, but it cannot be expected that even the shopkeepers whom Deputy Byrne and Deputy Davin spoke about should be compelled to close up altogether to pay for the maintenance of the destitute poor from country districts. There is no question that if this residential clause were not inserted we in Dublin City and County would find ourselves called upon to provide for the poor of the whole Twenty-six Counties. I am rather reluctant to find myself in the position of differentiating at all as to whether the destitute poor come from Dublin or from the country, but I feel I have a responsibility to the constituents of Dublin City, and I must in the circumstances support the residential clause.
I rise to support the amendment moved by Deputy Everett. The residential clause of two years, as set out in the Bill, is a two-edged weapon. We could use it with effect in the different counties outside Dublin, especially in county Kildare. A lot of the men demobilised from the National Army are Dublin men. There are men from other counties also, and when they are demobilised from the Curragh, they remain hanging round the county, and we have to give them assistance. I want to make it quite clear that I am not opposed to giving assistance to the destitute poor from any county, but I certainly believe that this clause which provides that in order to qualify for relief in Dublin a person must be resident here for two years is a retrograde step and a reactionary measure. Further, the word "workhouse" appears in the Bill. When we were setting up the county boards of health seven or eight years ago we were led to believe that we would not use the word "workhouse" in any enactment of this House, and we have it now in a Bill in 1929. At that time it was said that assistance was to be given outside the workhouse wherever possible. No one was to go into the county home, and if one mentioned the word "workhouse" at a meeting of the board of health, one would be asked to go outside. Here we are bringing back the old taint of pauperism again and demoralising our people. That comes from both sides of the House.
Unemployment has been caused in the rural areas in many cases because the people come to Dublin in buses to make their purchases. The Dublin shopkeepers get the benefit of the country money in that way, and the traders in our country towns are complaining. I can see if this amendment is defeated that our county board of health will get to work to see what they can do in the other direction, in sending people after demobilisation from the Army back to Dublin. The Minister for Local Government and Public Health was the Minister for Defence seven years ago, and I remember that as a member of the board of health and of Naas No. 1 District Council I had to try to get separation allowances for some of the men serving in the National Army. I found I had great difficulty in getting these allowances from the Minister. When I brought the matter up at a meeting of the board of health and urged that the Minister should provide for these people the Minister's officers would not allow the proceedings of that meeting to be published in the local papers. He threw the charge that should rightly attach to his Department on to the county board of health of Kildare. We have the exact opposite now in this case, and I say that it is grossly unfair to insert a two years' residence qualification to debar any man who may become destitute in the city from getting relief. It is not right to offer him the workhouse. I hope the Deputies on my left will reconsider the position and vote for the amendment.
- Aiken, Frank.
- Aird, William P.
- Allen, Denis.
- Alton, Ernest Henry.
- Beckett, James Walter.
- Bennett, George Cecil.
- Blaney, Neal.
- Boland, Gerald.
- Boland, Patrick.
- Bourke, Séamus A.
- Brady, Seán.
- Brennan, Michael.
- Briscoe, Robert.
- Brodrick, Seán.
- Buckley, Daniel.
- Byrne, John Joseph.
- Carey, Edmund.
- Carty, Frank.
- Clery, Michael.
- Colbert, James.
- Cole, John James.
- Collins-O'Driscoll, Mrs. Margt.
- Cooney, Eamon.
- Cooper, Bryan Ricco.
- Corkery, Dan.
- Cosgrave, William T.
- Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
- Crowley, Tadhg.
- Davis, Michael.
- Derrig, Thomas.
- De Valera, Eamon.
- Doherty, Eugene.
- Doyle, Peadar Seán.
- Duggan, Edmund John.
- Dwyer, James.
- Egan, Barry M.
- Esmonde, Osmond Thos. Grattan.
- Fahy, Frank.
- Myles, James Sproule.
- Nally, Martin Michael.
- Nolan, John Thomas.
- O'Connell, Richard.
- O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
- O'Dowd, Patrick Joseph.
- O'Higgins, Thomas.
- O'Kelly, Seán T.
- O'Leary, Daniel.
- O'Mahony, Dermot Gun.
- O'Reilly, John J.
- O'Reilly, Matthew.
- O'Reilly, Thomas.
- O'Sullivan, Gearóid.
- O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
- Powell, Thomas P.
- Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
- Flinn, Hugo.
- French, Seán.
- Good, John.
- Gorey, Denis J.
- Gorry, Patrick J.
- Goulding, John.
- Haslett, Alexander.
- Heffernan, Michael R.
- Hennessy, Michael Joseph.
- Hennessy, Thomas.
- Hennigan, John.
- Henry, Mark.
- Holohan, Richard.
- Houlihan, Patrick.
- Jordan, Michael.
- Jordan, Stephen.
- Kelly, Patrick Michael.
- Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
- Kent, William R.
- Keogh, Myles.
- Killilea, Mark.
- Kilroy, Michael.
- Law, Hugh Alexander.
- Lemass, Seán F.
- Leonard, Patrick.
- Little, Patrick John.
- Lynch, Finian.
- Maguire, Ben.
- Mathews, Arthur Patrick.
- McDonogh, Martin.
- MacEntee, Seán.
- McFadden, Michael Og.
- Mongan, Joseph W.
- Moore, Séamus.
- Mulcahy, Richard.
- Murphy, James E.
- Murphy, Joseph Xavier.
- Reynolds, Patrick.
- Rice, Vincent.
- Roddy, Martin.
- Ruttledge, Patrick J.
- Ryan, James.
- Sexton, Martin.
- Shaw, Patrick W.
- Sheehy, Timothy (West Cork).
- Sheehy, Timothy (Tipperary).
- Smith, Patrick.
- Thrift, William Edward.
- Tierney, Michael.
- Walsh, Richard.
- Ward, Francis C.
- Wolfe, George.
- Wolfe, Jasper Travers.
- Anthony, Richard.
- Cassidy, Archie J.
- Coburn, James.
- Colohan, Hugh.
- Corish, Richard.
- Davin, William.
- Everett, James.
- Morrissey, Daniel.
- Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
took the Chair.
In line 43 to delete the word "two" and substitute the word "three."
With nearly everyone who has spoken I too recognise the necessity for some exceptional measure for dealing with the destitution which is rife in the city. No one, I think, challenges that. But I and other Independent Deputies are very anxious that the exceptional measure that is taken shall not be of a character which is likely to intensify the very evil it seeks to alleviate. We do not want that anything should be done which is at all calculated to increase unemployment, which is really the cause of the destitution that is abroad, and we think that there is great danger—though the Minister has given us no figures— from the figures which have been supplied, that this Bill will actually tend to increase unemployment and not diminish it, because there will be such extra charges put upon those who are very little able to afford it that there will be a tendency amongst them to employ fewer people, and the more you increase the rates that that kind of person has to pay, the more likely it is that the effect will be that somebody is to be thrown out of employment. I admit that the amendment which I am advocating is likely to have a very small effect, but we believe that it will have some effect in diminishing the charge which is likely to fall upon the city of Dublin through this Bill. We cannot give the figures to show to what extent this may operate, but we think the tendency will be that to a certain extent it will diminish the total charges that fall upon the rates of the city, and that is the reason that I am suggesting that the residential qualification should be increased from the two years' period to the three years' period.
With the exception of the Labour Deputies, I think almost everybody admits that Dublin is in an exceptional position, for to an exceptional degree the unemployed are drifting towards Dublin in the hope of getting employment, and therefore I think there is no point in the argument which says that the effect of this Bill is simply to put Dublin in the same position as the rest of the country. It cannot be so done. It can be done in the letter of the law. In fact, if you make the letter of the law the same for the city of Dublin as for the rest of the country it puts Dublin in an unfavourable position. That is our argument. Dublin is to bear a greater share, as a matter of fact, from the inevitable tendency of the unemployed to drift towards the city in the hope of getting employment. As Deputy Lemass showed definitely, that is the case; the unemployed are so drifting. In that connection I would quote a paragraph from the Report of the Commission on the Relief of the Sick and Destitute Poor. That is the paragraph in which Mr. MacLysaght, the Chairman of the Dublin Union Commissioners, recommended that persons with less than three years' residence in the Union area before admission to the institution should not be chargeable to the Union. He gave some figures which tended to show the fact to which I have referred. He submitted the following statistics as to the number of persons admitted to the Dublin workhouse through a period of nine months and who had not been three years resident in the city. The figures are:—Persons aged 60 and upwards, 59; persons aged 59 and over 40, 138; persons aged 40 and over 30, 156; and persons aged 30 and under, 513. You have, out of 866 persons, 513 who are under the age of 30, young people not resident three years in the city of Dublin and who had drifted into the workhouse, no doubt having come to the city in the hope of getting employment.
Mr. MacLysaght suggested that, unless a person had been resident for at least three years in the city, the charge of maintaining him or her in the Union workhouse should not be made chargeable against the Dublin Union. Our contention is that Dublin is in an exceptional position and that therefore there is no point in making the letter of the law exactly the same for Dublin as for the rest of the country. If you do so you make the burden upon the city and county of Dublin unfavourably heavy. I am not able to give you figures which will tend to show the nature of the relief that would come by the substitution of the three for the two years' period. It would be difficult to get those figures. I do not anticipate that the difference would be serious, but it would be something and we think it is imperatively necessary that we should do everything we can to make the charge that is going to fall on the city ratepayers as small as possible. For that reason we are supporting certain amendments which will have the effect of somewhat diminishing the extent of that charge. I hope this amendment will commend itself to the House because we believe it will have some small effect on the total magnitude of the rate which will inevitably have to be borne by the city. We believe that that rate will be so big that it will make it increasingly difficult for many people to make both ends meet.
Apropos of what Deputy Thrift says in regard to Mr. MacLysaght's evidence, that question was fully considered by the Commission at the time and their opinion was that even if it were thought advisable to put a residence restriction on persons coming to Dublin to seek institutional relief, that restriction should not be more than one year of residence. They pointed out the very great difficulties that had arisen elsewhere and that would arise here if there were a restriction like that. We propose a restriction here and we say in connection with it that we are not, by reason of putting on a restriction, denying relief; we are not preventing persons who have not any residence qualification from getting institutional relief.
It has been pointed out that institutional relief is more costly than outdoor relief, and possibly there would be no reason for not giving outdoor relief as against institutional relief if there was not the point that the giving of outdoor relief direct would inevitably lure to the city persons who were unemployed. The type of relief that we propose here for persons who have not the necessary residential qualification is indoor relief or payment at the expense of the Guardians to return persons either to their own homes or to some other place where the Guardians would be persuaded that they can earn their own livings or get sustenance as apart from relief. To extend the residential period of two years to three years would make the period too big, in my opinion.
I think if a person has been resident in the city for two years and has been in employment, perhaps casual employment, he is then faced with the problem of suggesting where he could go and get work. A man who has spent more than two years in the city is in a very different position from the point of view of possible connection with work elsewhere in the country, from a person who has been less than two years here, and I think the additional year between two and three is very material from that point of view. The two years gives us all we want in the matter of a safeguard, that is, protection against persons being lured into the city by the hope of employment, and more particularly in expectation that if they did not get employment they would get outdoor relief. I think two years is ample for that particular purpose, and that to extend it to three years would create a difficulty between two alternatives, between the alternative of accepting indoor relief or accepting a transfer to some other place where they expected to get work. I would like to say, a propos of the point raised, that this period applies to the able-bodied who have not a residential qualification, and does not apply to the infirm or sick who may lack a residential qualification, or to persons who may be entitled to what is called provisional relief. I submit to the House that two years' residential qualification is ample to provide for the cases we ought to provide for.
We intend to oppose this amendment for the same reason as Deputy Thrift stated he had in proposing it. We think it would increase the burden that will be placed on the Dublin ratepayers under the Bill. The case for the existence of a residential qualification, whether or not that residential qualification could be made effective, is that it will act as a deterrent against poor persons coming to Dublin in the hope of getting employment. But if any of those persons come to Dublin and get employment, or continue to reside here for a period of two years, I think we are safe in assuming that they will remain for three years; in other words, that they will look upon Dublin as their permanent residence, in which case, if they are destitute, we will have to provide for them either in the institutions or by outdoor relief. If we have to provide for them in institutions, the cost is going to be heavier than if we have to provide for them by outdoor relief. Therefore, we think it is much better that the local authority should be free to meet their cases by the method of outdoor relief in preference to the method of institutional relief. It will be cheaper and more efficient, and will not be subject to all the various objections to which institutional relief is subject.
The point made by Deputy Thrift concerning the recommendation that only persons with three years' residence should receive institutional relief does not arise in connection with the amendment at all, because whether this amendment is passed or not, any person will be entitled to claim institutional relief, and I think it is right that they should be able to do so, because otherwise you would have the possibility of having persons in the city, for whom no provision of any kind could be made, who could in fact die of starvation before relief could be brought to them. There must be certain provision made to ensure that no one will die of starvation. I think that will be agreed. That provision can be more cheaply and more efficiently provided by outdoor relief than in institutions. If we have provided for the difficulty which the absence of a residential qualification would involve, by having two years' residential qualification in the Bill, then we can afford, and in fact we would prefer to give outdoor relief to those in need of relief in preference to institutional relief. I think the Deputy would be well advised to withdraw the amendment.
I do not admit at all that Deputy Lemass is right in his view as to the way this would work out. I am quite sure he is wrong. I do not think he surveyed the situation rightly. If it were the case that everybody having somewhere between two and three years' residence in the city were to go into the workhouse instead of obtaining outdoor relief, no doubt it would be more expensive. But we know quite well that that is not what happens. There are various other ways by which these people get assistance, and by this Bill we shall very largely remove the tremendous strain that has been put on philanthropic institutions. That will be to a very large extent taken out of their hands. I had definitely in mind that by extending the limit a certain distance you would relieve those institutions of quite a perceptible amount of the work which they have done in the past, and for which they are supported by benevolent people's subscriptions, and I do not think that would be a wise thing to do. I recognise that there is not the slightest use in pressing the amendment against the united will of the Ministerial side and the Fianna Fáil side. However, I am still convinced that if this amendment were accepted it would relieve the burden to some small extent. I cannot give figures, and, under the circumstances, I ask the leave of the House to withdraw the amendment.
I would be much more opposed to the amendment following Deputy Thrift's second speech than I was after his first one.
I will not move my amendment No. 3 at this stage. I will consider it after a decision is taken on Section 3, and if necessary I can bring it forward on the next stage.
To add at the end of the section the following proviso:—
"and provided always that the expenses incurred by such relief shall not exceed the amount that would be raised by a rate not exceeding three shillings in the pound on the corresponding area of charge."
A good deal of what I might have said in support of this amendment has already really been said by Deputy Lemass, Deputy Briscoe and Deputy Thrift. We all agree that Dublin is in a very exceptional position as regards other large centres, and Deputy Lemass and Deputy Briscoe especially stressed the point that whatever increase there is in the rates in order to meet this relief for the poor, which we all admit is right, will tell very heavily against certain businesses and industries in Dublin, and perhaps outside it, and produce unemployment. My idea is that we should not give a blank cheque to those who are going to administer the relief. It has been stated in various newpapers, and at meetings, that the relief may mean anything from 2/- to 5/- in the £ in any one year. We have had nothing definite from the Minister—perhaps he is not able to give us anything definite—but what I suggest is that the rates should not be increased by more than a maximum of three shillings in any one year, and if the amount produced by these three shillings is not sufficient to afford the relief contemplated in the Bill, those who administer the relief should cut their clothes according to their cloth. or else that the Minister should supplement the amount raised by some contribution from Government funds. There is really nothing more that I can say. I think Deputy Lemass put it very clearly as to the effect that this may have on industries, and I would ask the Minister to consider seriously fixing the maximum of three shillings.
I am rather surprised that this amendment should appear on the Paper at all, because it seems to me to be in direct conflict with the whole principle of the Bill. I have had some experience of home assistance as administered by other boards, and I cannot see how the people who will be entrusted with the administration of this Bill can be asked to differentiate between applicants for home assistance. I take it that the principle of the Bill is to relieve the destitute, and I cannot see any case whatever for putting a limit to the amount and to the number of cases that are to be dealt with. If it is a question of getting the Minister to contribute a certain amount to the fund which will be available for this purpose, that is another matter, but from what appears on the face of the amendment it seems to me to be undesirable, and I ask the House to reject it.
In case any confusion may have been created by Deputy J. X. Murphy's remarks, let me say that I intend to oppose this amendment. Despite the burden the Bill places upon the citizens of Dublin, they should be asked to meet the cost of providing relief for the destitute poor, and if Deputy Murphy's amendment were in operation it would result in a certain number of the destitute poor being unable to secure relief. I take it that the amount which a three-shillings rate would bring in would be expended, as long as it would last, upon the relief of the able-bodied poor, and as soon as it was exhausted no further relief could be given until the next year, when a further amount would be realised by another three shillings rate. That would mean that towards the end of each financial year there would be a certain number of destitute poor who would be unable to get relief. If we are going to put this burden upon the ratepayers, let us put it in such a way that we will not appear to be hoodwinking the destitute poor. It seems to me that if we pass this Bill, while at the same time strictly limiting the amount which can be spent under it, we are, in fact, hoodwinking those who are to receive relief under it. Deputy Murphy indicated that it more money were needed it might be provided by the Minister for Finance out of State funds. But if moneys are provided by the Minister for Finance out of State funds, this amendment is not necessary. Certainly, I would like to hear the Minister for Finance promising to supply the money before the amendment was even moved.
I want to put this point to the Deputy, that if the money comes from the Exchequer to the Corporation as a grant-in-aid of relief, the amount which the Corporation will be required to levy off the rates in order to supplement that sum will be fixed by them, and this amendment will certainly not be necessary at all, because obviously they will not strike a rate higher than three shillings if it is not necessary. If the money does not come from the Central Fund, or from any other source, then the burden must be placed upon the ratepayers. Personally, I hope that some means will be devised for making the burden sit as lightly as possible on the shoulders of the ratepayers, but if that means cannot be devised the burden will have to be placed there. If this amendment were passed the problem would be dealt with only in a partial manner by giving relief to one section of the able-bodied poor, and making it impossible to give relief to another section.
The amendment has one advantage at least: it will show the House the magnitude of the problem that will confront the Commissioners in administering this Bill. I understand that a penny in the £ on the rates of Dublin produces something like £6,000, and three shillings in the £ would produce a sum amounting to £216,000. Deputy Murphy wants to fix a limit to what this Bill will commit the city of Dublin to, and we now have the official Opposition committed to the principle that we should fix no limit to the amount which must be paid by the ratepayers under this Bill. I think that at least it is a good thing to have that principle appearing on the records of this House, and I hope that when the representatives of Dublin City in that Party face their constituents again their action in connection with this Bill will be carefully considered by those who have the best interests of Dublin City at heart.
It has been stated here to-day that the commercial community of this city are reaping fortunes under existing conditions. That statement was made without a scintilla of evidence produced to support it. It was, in fact, an utterly untrue statement. Anybody who looks at the balance sheets of business firms in this city will be aware that the maximum dividends paid are about ten per cent., that the greater number of them are unable to pay two and a half per cent., and that a very large number are unable to pay any dividend at all.
For income tax purposes two sets of books.
My friend from the country wants to be witty at my expense, but these are things about which he knows nothing whatever, and they are things with which I am dealing every day of my life. I also want to make it perfectly clear that another statement made by members of the Labour Party has no foundation in fact. They stated that this burden can be passed on by the commercial community to the consumers in extra prices for the goods which they sell. I wonder if they have any idea of what competition there is at the present moment in the city of Dublin for the limited volume of trade that is available. I wonder if they know that firms established in this city for over a century are unable to pay any dividends at all. Do they realise that many firms, in order to keep afloat, are drawing substantially on their reserves?
The destitute poor have no reserves.
As I have stated on more than one occasion, the ratepayers of Dublin are ready and willing to foot the bill for the destitute poor of the city, but we are not, as we are asked in this Bill, ready to accept responsibilities for which there is no right or title. It has been said by some of the most serious speakers in this House that there is no doubt whatever that this Bill will lead to unemployment. I believe that there are certain large firms here which, when this Bill becomes law, may have to face an increase in their rates ranging from £300 to £500 a year. I know that some of these firms are competing against English firms, that they are in a very bad way of business, being able to pay no dividends whatever, and being anxious, if possible, to transfer their businesses to other hands. That is what is involved in the principle of the Bill. It requires a business man to understand these things, and those are the real facts, if the House wants to have them and wants to consider the net effect which this Bill will have upon the city. There is scarcely a shopkeeper in the city who will not be faced with an increase in his rates of from £20 to £30 a year. I can speak for a large number of the shopkeepers of Dublin, and I know that the greater portion of them are very hard pushed to meet the rates at all, even at 14/8 in the £. If the rates go up to something like 19/6 or 20/- in the £, what will become of the families of the smaller shopkeepers? Have they not got a claim upon the consideration of this House? Are they not entitled to consideration? I think that Deputies ought to take a wide and a broad view of this matter and endeavour to do what is best, not alone for the destitute poor of the city, but what is best in the interest of all the citizens.
It has been pointed out by many Deputies that this will have repercussions upon industries set up in this country. In that respect the Labour Party is the most irresponsible Party that one could meet They never take into consideration how the bill is to be met. It means nothing to them where the money is to be found. That is one fault I have always to find with the Labour Party in this House—their tendency to commit the nation to anything and to let the men in authority and responsibility find the money and foot the bill.
I am opposing this amendment. The question has been raised from time to time as to what burden this measure is going to place on the city and the county. All kinds of figures have been talked of. When figures are mentioned they can be multiplied and increased and translated into rates and then the rates multiplied and increased. There has been generally a volume of criticism based on what are alleged to be the possibilities of this Bill that would suggest that Dublin was not a place where people ought to invest their capital. The whole of that is very unfounded. I am asked whether I will accept the estimate that has been publicly given by the Dublin City Commissioners that in certain circumstances the probable cost of this will be an additional £200,000 a year. My answer is, I do not accept that. The amount spent during 1927 on outdoor relief in the Dublin Union, that is, that part of the city and county taking in the city proper— Rathmines, Pembroke, the North Dublin Rural District, the South Dublin Rural District, and Celbridge—was £99,607, and that £99,000 included £11,000 spent on special relief under what is known as Section 13. In the year ended March, 1928, the total amount spent was £86,050, including £4,500 special relief. The amount of money spent in the year ended March, 1929, was £88,538, including £1,280 on special relief; and the estimate this year, including a certain amount on special relief is £93,000. I admit the Commissioners will expect to exceed that estimate, but these are the figures for the whole area covered by the present Dublin Union for ordinary outdoor relief for the last three years, and the figures that were estimated at the beginning of this year. I am asked to believe that because relief is extended to the able-bodied that an amount of £200,000 additional is going to be spent upon the additional class of relief. My answer is, I do not believe it. And in the face of the five shillings and the six shillings and all that we are quoted as falling upon the unfortunate ratepayers of the city of Dublin, I say that even if the £200,000 fell upon the area of Dublin, Rathmines and Pembroke, it would be less than 2/9 in the £ in the rates for a full year.
If the Minister would allow me to interrupt, it is agreed, I think, that the coming rates will have to cover a much larger period than one year. They will have to cover a period of eighteen months.
I said for a full year something less than 2/9 for £200,000, which I do not believe. So that assume that this Bill comes into operation on 1st December and that you run four months, and assume, as the calculation of £200,000 has been made on an expenditure running normally month for month without any fluctuation over 12 months, that one-third of it is going in addition to fall, it gives you, to your 2/9, an additional 1/3. It gives you 4/- in special circumstances, assuming that the burden is going to fall on the city, which, personally, I do not believe. Deputies want exact figures. I cannot give you exact figures, but I can say that, with a very considerable sense of responsibility in the matter, I do not believe that the expenditure on this particular class of relief in the city, if it is administered in the way it ought to be administered, is going to be more than twice what the expenditure on ordinary relief has been for the last few years over Rathmines, Pembroke, Dublin, the North Rural District of Dublin, the South Rural District and Celbridge.
Would the Minister have any estimate as to the number of additional persons who would become eligible for outdoor relief under this Bill?
The number estimated is that the same number will become eligible as are being treated for outdoor relief at present.
Then the number will be doubled.
Deputies will understand how difficult it is even for a City Commissioner who may be close up to the situation to arrive at a figure of the unemployed and to say with regard to a figure like this particular 3/-, that fifty per cent. of this expenditure should fall over the whole State. If you put up a figure of three shillings here, you put up a figure to be aimed at for this particular class of expenditure, not only here in the city of Dublin but in Limerick, Cork, Mayo, Donegal and other counties where this particular class of relief can be given. As I say, it is absolutely unnecessary. There is only one way, in the present circumstances, to find out what is the true problem of this nature in the city and to prevent extravagant expenditure for whatever problem there may be. That is proper and effective administration. If we here and ratepayers in the city of Dublin are frightened by expressions of one kind or another and are driven to run away from the problem instead of facing it up and saying "this is a problem which if it is serious will require our serious attention," it is a serious matter.
The city may not be able to bear a rate of 3/- in normal circumstances but there is only one way of facing the problem and to prevent it growing unnecessarily and that is setting out with a determination that this matter is going to be looked at thoroughly by an efficiently laid out scheme of administration and that such relief as requires to be given will be given but will be given by an effective machine of administration. I submit that the arrangements which will be made under this Bill will be the most perfect that can be made for the administration of this particular class of relief. They will be more perfect than any other class of machinery that exists in any other part of the country at the present time, and we ought to have confidence in that machinery. At any rate, I certainly would object very much that we should put up before the bodies responsible in Rathdown, Balrothery and the city of Dublin a suggestion that in any way we think this particular class of relief to the destitute able-bodied should or could in any circumstances reach 3/- in the £ in a normal year. I think it would be very inadvisable and it might be disastrous to put in this limit. There is a limit to which any body of people socially organised can bear a burden of this kind, but do not run the risk, when you are only finding out what exactly the problem is, of doing anything that is going to increase the rate. If you put in 3/- I submit you are going to increase the burden for yourselves and probably for other persons.
Could the Minister tell us what proportion of this rate would fall on business people as against ordinary householders? I have been informed that the bigger end of it will have to be borne by the ordinary householders. If that is so, I am not in favour of this amendment. I heard Deputy Good, Deputy Byrne and other persons talking as if the shopkeepers and manufacturers would have to bear the lot. I would like if the Minister would give us figures to show what percentage will be borne by the ordinary householders.
I have not the figures. I doubt if there has been a census of the city showing what portion of the rates is paid by business establishments and what portion by the ordinary persons.
It would be very interesting. I believe that the poor people will have to pay most of it.
Before Deputy Murphy speaks, I would like to say a few words. I think Deputy Murphy was not wise in putting down an amendment in these terms. First of all, I am sure that he would not like to be charged with the death of any person, if such person died of starvation as a result of there being no funds at the disposal of the Commissioner or whoever else may be in charge of the relief of the destitute poor, as a result of there being a limit to the amount that they could raise. I do not suggest that it would be possible that there would not be enough money if 3/- in the £1 were raised, but still something of that kind may happen if we adopt the principle of putting a limit to the amount that the Commissioners or other poor law authorities might raise for the relief of destitution. From that point of view, I do not think it was wise, although I do agree that he left himself a fairly wide margin in putting down 3/-. On the other hand, the complaint that I hear most against those who now deal with poor relief in Dublin is that they are parsimonious in their dealings with the poor and that they have cut down the services to the poor inside the Union institutions to an extent that was not known for long before their period of service. I think in that way the Commissioners or those in charge, are not likely to ask for more than they require for the relief of the poor this year or any other year. Our experience of them has been that they will certainly not err on the side of being over-generous. To put up then any limit at all, to my mind, would be bad, and to put up a limit like 3/- is bad from several points of view. It is putting up, as the Minister said, a limit that some authorities might be anxious to strive to reach, even though it would not be necessary. From every point of view, a limit is bad, because you must feed the poor. If we have any consciences, they must not be allowed to die of starvation. The Minister gave us probable figures for the year ending the 31st March, 1930. He estimates that in the Dublin Union area the cost will be £93,000, roughly.
That was the estimate for ordinary relief made in the beginning of this year.
That is an estimate made in the beginning of this year by the Union authorities. If that sufficed, then it was strange that a gentleman who ought to know what he was talking about, one of the Commissioners for Dublin, Dr. O'Dwyer, could suggest, as he did, that this might mean a charge of anything from £200,000 to £250,000 additional. He did say that.
For the additional liability under this Bill.
The original liability. That was his statement as it appeared in the "Independent" of the 22nd October. He meant, of course, spread over the whole area. The Minister gave a figure that was certainly far and away below that. I wonder on what he bases his estimate. The Commissioner definitely stated that 5,000 additional cases would be put on the outdoor relief list, and that the total cost would be from £200,000 to £250,000 per annum. That is a fairly definite statement. If the Minister's figures are correct—and, after all, his officials ought to know, and I am sure do know what the expenditure has been in the past in this respect and what it is likely to be in the future—there is a wide discrepancy, and there was justification for alarm in the minds of those business people in Dublin who saw danger facing them as a result of the great additional cost that was foreshadowed by the Commissioners. But it does not speak highly, if the Commissioner's figures are incorrect, as the Minister would suggest, for the competence of the Commissioner that he would give an estimate of that kind and do what the Minister suggests—shake the confidence of the people of the city of Dublin by raising a scare of that kind. I take it that the Minister's figures are correct.
May I intervene? I have not quoted a figure, but I have said that, taking it that the estimate for ordinary relief this year is £93,000, and that the figures I have quoted for the three years before were as I stated, I do not accept it that £200,000 is going to be spent in dealing with this additional class of relief.
Could the Minister give us any figure as to the amount he thinks might be spent?
I could not.
How then can the Minister dispute it?
I take it that the rates generally throughout the country, whether in cities or in the rural districts, have not risen anything like that proportion because of the putting in of this particular class of relief. It is impossible to say, because the local bodies do not keep their figures in that particular way, what proportion of the money spent on outdoor relief since 1924 has been spent on the able-bodied. I have been able to get the figures for the city of Limerick. Limerick is a city where a Commissioner had to be put in recently to deal with the Poor Law side of administration. In the city of Limerick the proportion of the total expenditure on outdoor relief last year spent on the able-bodied was 36 per cent. If the expenditure in Limerick on this particular class of relief has been a third of the total expenditure on outdoor relief. I cannot bring myself to see that it is going to be 60 or 70 per cent. of the total amount of money spent on general relief here in the city of Dublin. When I quoted a figure of £93,000 for this year I meant the whole of the Dublin Union —the rural parts and the city parts.
The Minister is aware that the Shannon scheme is in Limerick and not in Dublin.
I am aware that many people complain that the Shannon scheme, through bringing workmen into Limerick, has thrown a large number of able-bodied on the outdoor relief list in Limerick who would not otherwise be there, and that is part of the argument in connection with requiring a residential qualification in the city.
On this figure that the Minister has given, I should like some more information. The Minister has a Department behind him, and this House is entitled to expect an estimate from him. There is no use in the Minister saying that he cannot form an estimate. The Minister should be able to give the House an estimate of the probable expenditure. As I take it, the figure given by the Minister is his estimate of the charge which will fall on the city— that is, the additional burden— namely, 2/9 in the £.
Assuming that the worst happens and that it costs £200,000.
Let us take it that the worst has happened. That is the Minister's estimate.
It is certainly not my estimate that this additional relief is going to cost £200,000 in the city. I have said that more than once.
We have got the figure of 2/9 from the Minister. Let us take that basis to start with. It is quite clear that any deficiency in the estimate of this year will have to be a first charge on the rates for that particular purpose for next year. Rates are struck on 31st March, and we have four months of this year to go—four of the worst months of this year from the point of view of the burden on the rates. Whatever that amount will be, it will have to be added to the rates next year. That has been estimated at something like 50 per cent. of the rates, in view of the period we have to run through. The Minister has given us 2/9 as an outside figure.
For a normal year.
We will not take an abnormal year—we will take a normal year. The figure is 2/9. Add 50 per cent. to that for the period of this year which is unexpired and for the burden accruing out of that period, which will be the first charge on the rates next year, and what do you get? Over 4/-. That is the Minister's estimate. We are told that the figures given by Dr. Dwyer are fallacious. Let me read his figures:—
If this expenditure were a Union-at-large charge it would be about 2/6 to 3/- in the £ of an extra rate. If it were charged only on the city, it would be 3/6 to 4/6 in the £ extra on the city rate. In addition, any expenditure incurred and not provided for in any year must be paid in the following year. That is, if this relief were granted as from 1st October, 1929, the extra rate next year would be, if a Union-at-large charge, 3/9 to 4/6 in the £ and, if a city charge only, 5/3 to 6/9.
Then he proceeds:—
The conference called by the Minister for Local Government of representatives of the contributory bodies and the poor law authorities of Dublin has since recommended that the Dublin Union be divided into two districts—the city and urban district in one area and the rural portion of the Union in the other area. If such a proposal is adopted the increase in the city rates will be about 12½ per cent. more than if the entire cost were a Union-at-large charge.
Dr. Dwyer says that if it is a Union-at-large charge it will be 2/6 to 3/- in the £. The Minister says that according to his estimate in a normal year it will be 2/9. There is not very much variation there. Then it is pointed out that you have to add the additional burden for the period of this year that will have to be included next year. That will bring it up, if it is a Union-at-large charge, to from 3/9 to 4/6. But, as it is not going to be a Union-at-large charge, as the area is to be restricted, you have to add to that 12½ per cent., and that would bring it up to 5/-. That will show the seriousness of the situation. This is the first time we have had a figure from the Minister, although we were entitled to have it at an earlier stage. I can only say, with regard to Deputy Murphy's amendment, that if the House refuses to put a limit of 3/- on the additional expenditure that this will put on the estimate for next year, that fact will create a further element of suspicion in the minds of the ratepayers that 3/- is inadequate to carry the burden. That is all I will say at present on the matter.
The Minister said that he was not in a position to give an estimate, or else that he would not give one—that he would only express an opinion. All that I can hope is that his opinion is correct and that Dr. Dwyer's estimate is wrong. Deputy O'Kelly and Deputy Lemass seemed to think that I was inhuman and that I would rather that the rates were not increased above 3/- and that the people should die of starvation. I do not really think they meant that. What I wanted to convey was that if the 3/- in the £ should not produce sufficient to keep up the scale of relief as mentioned by Dr. Dwyer, whoever administered the relief would have to cut down their scale so as to fit the amount raised by a 3/- rate. With regard to Deputy Boland and the small ratepayers, surely he is just as concerned with the small ratepayers as with the large business men. Any increase in the rates will fall very harshly on them. If we went into the Division Lobby on this amendment we would be a very small minority and there is not the slightest use in wasting time over it. However, I think the Minister should consider the matter, if he can, at a later stage.
Might I point out to Deputy Murphy as one more reason for my voting against this amendment limiting it to 3/-, that I have here the second Report of the Department of Local Government and Public Health for 1925-27, in which it is set out that the number of people in the Dublin Union in receipt of outdoor relief in 1925-6 was 6,873, and in 1926-7, 6,933? If we take the total of the Dublin Union, the Balrothery Union, and the Rathdown Union, all three of which will be concerned in this Bill, the total receiving relief in 1925-6 was 8,103, and, in the second period, 8,755. Even suppose the number has increased in the last year or two, it is probably not very much beyond 9,000. I take it that Deputy Murphy, in putting on this extra 3/-, would imply that the number that would secure relief would be trebled, because the total charge for outdoor relief for this particular purpose on the rates in the Dublin Union was 1/0¾, according to the statistics given here, so that 3/- would almost cover treble the number seeking outdoor relief. Great as the number may be, it is hardly likely to be that number. Therefore I think it would be unwise, from that point of view, to put in a limit of that kind, even with such a wide margin.
Before the Bill goes any further, I think it would be advisable if the Minister would give a considered estimate of the cost. There is considerable uneasiness about it, and I think most of the opposition to the Bill has been occasioned by the statement of one of the City Commissioners at the Chamber of Commerce, which the Minister is not prepared to accept. Otherwise I feel certain there would not be this uneasiness and opposition to the Bill in this House.
I do not know where I could go to get anything like an estimate that you could say. "You can face that in respect of relieving the able-bodied destitute in the city," until you have had actual experience of the measure for a year, with machinery that will receive applications, that will examine the condition of the persons applying and that will give relief. There is no way of finding out except by actual trial. When provisions were introduced in 1923, extending this particular class of relief to the whole country, there was no question of an estimate, and there could be no question of an estimate. If I wanted an estimate, I would have to set up machinery, I would have to invite applications, and if an estimate was wanted earlier than, say, the next six months, I would have to take the first month and the second month and examine what came out of them. Any other way is purely thinking of a number. I think it is very much better to look at the situation in this way, that while unemployment may to a certain extent be concentrated a bit in Dublin City, the proportion of unemployed as against the ordinary people seeking relief should not be so very much different in Dublin City from that in Cork City or in Limerick City or Waterford City. At any rate, it should not be the outrageous proportion suggested here. You can only find out the position by actual experience of the machinery set up to meet it, so that I could not take the responsibility for getting an estimate made up or suggesting an estimate. But I do take the responsibility for suggesting that the proportion of relief of the able-bodied to the ordinary outdoor relief, up to the present—and I say this after giving a considerable amount of thought to it—is not what has been suggested up to the present, and that the ratepayers need not fear that the burden suggested will be put upon them.
Might I ask one other question? Is the Minister not aware that every local authority is called upon at the beginning of the financial year to estimate for the requirements of the coming year, and is not that an obligation put upon every local authority throughout the Saorstát?
Then are we, in asking the Minister to do for this House what every local authority is asked to do for itself, asking anything unfair?
Very well. I will leave it for the public to judge.
Remember I suggest that you are asking the poor law authorities of the city to make an estimate for a class of relief that they have never given before.
I would like to ask the Minister one other question. Are not the figures we had before us the figures given by one of the three individuals who will have to draw up and fix the rate in Dublin for the coming year?
The Minister claims to be in a difficulty in arriving at some definite figure, but Deputies in this House have a greater difficulty still. I think the Minister is overlooking the fact that he must have the means of getting the figures or the estimate required from information already in his possession. When this House voted a sum of money to relief work a certain proportion was devoted to Dublin, and he must have some idea, from the number of applicants for relief work, as to roughly the number of people who would apply under this Bill. As against that, I do not know how we can make any comparison between the figures of cost with regard to outdoor relief up to the present and outdoor relief under this Bill. We do not yet know what the class of outdoor relief is to be, how people are to be paid, and what return is to be given. I heard it stated that people are to get food only. The Minister must have some means of calculating, and he must have a rough idea of the number of people seeking relief and the cost per head that would give us some idea of the amount.
In asking leave to withdraw the amendment, I should like to refer to what Deputy MacEntee said. He spoke of our opposition to the Bill. I hope Deputy MacEntee does not think that I and my colleagues object to the Bill in principle—that is the principle of giving relief. We certainly do not. It is only to certain provisions of the Bill that we object. We want to know where we are.
I agree. I did not want to convey that Deputy Murphy is opposed to the Bill. I should not, perhaps, have said "opposition," but I should have said "uneasiness." In connection with the question I put to the Minister, did he ever discuss with Dr. Dwyer the basis on which he made the estimate that he put before the Chamber of Commerce?
Subsequent to his statement, certainly.
The Minister is satisfied that the estimate is not well founded; that is what it must amount to.
In amendment 5, wherever the word "three" occurs the word "two" should be substituted.
Quite so. I move amendment 5:—
To insert before Section 3 a new section as follows:—
"(1) Where a destitute poor person in a Union to which this Act applies has not been resident either in the County of Dublin or in the County Borough of Dublin, or in the said County and County Borough, for a continuous period of not less than three years, the Board of Guardians of the said Union shall pay the reasonable expenses of his removal from such union to the workhouse of the union responsible for his relief under this Act, or if there be no such workhouse shall charge the cost of his relief upon the said union responsible under this Act.
(2) The Minister for Local Government and Public Health may make regulations to determine the responsibility of the several boards of health and public assistance for destitute poor persons in the County of Dublin or the County Borough of Dublin who have not been resident in the said County or County Borough for a continuous period of not less than three years.
(3) The expenses of removal of a destitute poor person from a union to which this Act applies to the union responsible for his relief under the regulations made by the Minister shall be a charge upon the responsible union and be repayable to the union from which the destitute poor person was removed.
(4) The whole of the expenses incurred by a board of guardians of a union to which this Act applies in or in relation to the granting of relief under this Act to destitute poor persons who have not been resident either in the County of Dublin or in the County Borough of Dublin or in the said County or County Borough for a continuous period of not less than three years shall be a charge upon the union responsible under this Act and shall be repayable to the union granting the relief."
If there should be any doubt in the minds of any Deputy about the abnormal position of Dublin in connection with this matter, I think the point we have just been discussing will clear away that doubt. I have before me the figures for the other areas in the Saorstát, for 1926-27 and, as has been pointed out, these areas have all been discharging this particular burden, including the area of Cork. In Limerick borough I see that the rate is 1/10½d. and in South Cork 1/1d. I think that the rates in Limerick are the highest, and they run down as low as 4d. in the £. All those areas are discharging a liability that we are going to thrust upon Dublin. If it takes a rate of 4/- or 5/- to discharge the liability in the Dublin area, that indicates that there is something abnormal about the Dublin area, some liability to be met in that area that does not exist in any other area. The figures that I have given make it clear that Dublin is in an exceptional position. The question is, how are we to meet that particular burden: how are we going to distribute it equitably? In the Second Reading debate there was practically unanimous opinion amongst parties in all parts of the House that the burden falling on Dublin was an unfair one. Deputy de Valera said—I have his speech here but I do not think that it is necessary to read it—that it was unfair that the burden should fall on Dublin. Deputy Lemass said the same thing to-day. In my opinion, anyone who has given any thought to the subject must come to the same conclusion. From our discussions here, therefore, we have reached the point that it is unfair to put the whole of this burden on Dublin. That appears to be common cause. The question now appears to be, how are we going to distribute the burden so that it will not fall unfairly on Dublin.
The Minister called a conference at which he had representatives from the different areas present, so that, before he introduced this Bill, he might discuss with them the question as to how the difficulties that presented themselves might be met. I might say, in passing, that I am sorry, when the Minister called that conference, he did not invite delegates from the Rathmines and Pembroke areas. Both areas are to be subject to this additional burden, but neither body was called in or had anything to do with the conference. That conference urged that half the moiety of the liability falling on Dublin should be met by the State. The Minister was not prepared to meet that. As members of the House are aware, no ordinary Deputy can bring forward an amendment the effect of which is to throw an additional burden on the Central Fund. Such an amendment can only be moved by a Minister. Therefore ordinary Deputies are debarred from moving an amendment embodying such a principle. In fairness to the Minister, I wish to say that it is not a principle that one would altogether approve. This Bill is only to be in operation for a period of eighteen months. It is to expire on the 31st March, 1931. While there may be a justification for bringing it in as a sort of temporary measure for dealing with a difficulty, it is not the sort of proposal to commend itself. Anyone who has any experience at all in municipal administration will agree that it is advisable, in the local as well as in the national interest, that expenditure of this class should be kept in the hands of the municipalities so that it shall be properly scrutinised.
The proposal put forward in my amendment was in fact made by the Chairman of the Commissioners, Mr. MacLysaght, in his evidence before the Poor Law Commission in 1924. His suggestion was that the charge should be made a county one, each county carrying its own burden. That was his recommendation on behalf of the Commissioners. That recommendation did not meet with the acceptance of the Poor Law Commission. It is only right to point out that the proposal embodied in my amendment and the proposal made by Mr. MacLysaght has been working in England for many years. They found a difficulty there and, after considerable inquiry, came to the conclusion to put the charge on each county. It is only right to point out that we also have the same principle in operation as regards admissions to our mental hospitals.
Members of the House who have served on mental hospital committees are aware that the qualification for admission to these institutions is one of residence in the particular area. That shows that the proposal embodied in my amendment is one that has already met with acceptance. To my mind it is the only equitable method of dealing with this particular problem. If this burden is to be left as it is in the Bill at present, I am quite satisfied that the effect of it is going to be very serious in adding to the number of the unemployed. There can be no doubt, I think, about that. The adding of anything like 3/-, 4/- or 5/- in the £ to the rates is, in my opinion, going to stultify the enterprise of municipalities on the one hand and the enterprise of individual effort on the other, and in the end you are going to do far more injury—of that I am satisfied—than good. That is a line of policy that none of us is going to support. If that is so, then let us consider alternatives. I put forward this alternative, of a county proposal, a proposal that has been tried on the other side and has been found to work satisfactorily. The only objection that I can find to it is that it will involve a certain amount of accountancy work. I cannot see that that is a serious objection. In sub-section (1) of this amendment I propose a remedy for dealing with removals from one particular county to another. Under this system, if you have the nationals of one particular county chargeable to another county that other county can, under this proposal, have them changed back and recoup itself for carrying that burden. Sub-section (2) of the amendment gives power to the Minister to make regulations to de-to be a birth or a residence qualifications of the individual, whether it is to be a birth or a residence qualification. It will be for the Minister to determine what the qualification will be. Sub-section (3) deals with the responsibility of the county for defraying the cost of removal, and sub-section (4) deals with the county which has no workhouse of its own.
I do not put this amendment forward as an ideal in legislation as a solution of the problem before us, but I would ask the House seriously to consider the principle involved in it. As regards the details, if he wishes to alter them it will be easy enough for the Minister to do so. But let us consider the principle involved in the amendment as a practical proposal for dealing with this problem. If the problem is dealt with in the manner outlined in my amendment it will mean that almost half the burden will be spread over the whole county instead of, as is the proposal in the Bill, spreading it over the city of Dublin. I ask the House, in its anxiety to do what is right in the matter, to consider this proposal, and see if they cannot arrive at a satisfactory solution along the lines indicated in it.
resumed the Chair.
Deputy Good referred to the suggestion that was made before the Commission on the relief of sick and destitute poor by Mr. MacLysaght, that a person from a county other than Dublin in the Dublin Union should be charged to that county. That suggestion was in a way turned down by the Commission, who suggested that if it were considered at all, a year's residence should be the qualification for admittance to the Dublin Union. Deputy Good, in his amendment. proposes that if there is a person from Dublin who, under the definition by the Minister for Local Government, is a national of some county, he should be removed to the workhouse in that county at the expense of the county of which he is a national, or if there is no workhouse in that county that he should be maintained in Dublin at the expense of that county. I would not undertake to define a national in the sense mentioned. If Deputy Good has a clear conception of what he wants he should define what he means by "national," so that we would know better where we stand. The Poor Law Commission, dealing with the question of the removal of residents, said:—
The evils which in England have attended the law of settlement and removal must lead us to view with the utmost caution proposals for introducing it here, even in an attenuated and carefully circumscribed form.
It makes these remarks a propos of the suggestion in regard to the people from outside areas in the Dublin Union:
The investigation of questions of residence by local officers, their determination by some judicial or quasi-judicial authority, and the machinery for appeal either to the Minister or the courts would all involve expenditure besides being a fruitful source of friction.
Then it says:
If it could be shown that there was migration to an appreciable extent to the cities merely for the purpose of getting relief in institutions it might be advisable to prescribe a period of residence in the district as one of the conditions of eligibility provided that persons of no fixed abode would not be deprived of relief. The period of residence should not in our view exceed one year. Very little evidence of migration of this nature came before us.
The Deputy says that they have this in England. They have, but every poor law reformer who touched on the question argued very strongly that it should be done away with. I think it was in 1908 or 1909 the matter was discussed by the Commission set up in Great Britain, and in connection with that the present Lord Parmoor said: "I look upon the law of settlement as a survival of the old penal laws. It ought to have been done away with when the parish was no longer a unit." Another member of the Commission said: "A necessary reform is the final and complete abolition of the law of removal that has been so long condemned." In connection with the Commission which recommended a reduction in England of the period of residence from three years to one year, the minority part of the Commission took it for granted that when the present system came into operation in England, that is when they put their poor law system on a county basis, as they have done, the law of settlement and removal would go. Let us assume the workhouses are completely out of the question. If a person who can be described as a national of a county. say Westmeath, applies for relief here in the city, it is not clear whether it is intended that he can be sent down to Westmeath and his expenses charged to the county of Westmeath, and his bill sent after him, or whether it is intended that he shall be relieved in the city, whether in an institution or by outdoor relief and the bill for that sent down to the county body. As things stand at present with institutional relief done away with, except in the city and county of Dublin, we would get into a most chaotic state if we had different areas in the country charged with the administration of poor law sending bills after persons who are nationals of other areas. The expense and confusion of it would be as costly as the cost of relief itself, in my opinion.
Is not that the system in connection with the mental hospitals, and is there any difficulty in working it?
That is not the system. A person goes into the mental hospital in the area in which his affliction overtakes him.
If he is found subsequently to be a national of another area cannot that area be charged for him?
We think it desirable that Dublin should not be asked to bear the total cost of providing relief to persons coming in here from other counties. I do not think that Deputy Good has hit on the ideal solution. It seems to me if some other method could be devised for assisting the Dublin ratepayers to meet the burden of providing relief for such persons than that suggested by Deputy Good, the same end would be served and justice would also be served. I do not know if I would be in order in suggesting that some such scheme as the allocation of the proceeds of a special tax on amusements, or the proceeds of the existing entertainments tax, should be devoted towards the relief of distress in each district, according to the amount of the tax raised in each district. I think that would ease the burden of the ratepayers, while at the same time providing a considerable sum for the relief of destitution. The money will have to be raised in any case, and the only way in which the burden can be made less onerous on industry and commerce is in the manner in which it is raised. The placing of the burden on the rates is likely to have a bad effect upon trade and industry, but the placing of the burden on amusements would not have that effect, and the amount raised by a tax of that kind would help considerably in enabling the city to meet the additional charges which this Bill will impose if there is any considerable drift of unemployed from the country into the city for the purpose of getting institutional or outdoor relief. The city, in justice, is undoubtedly entitled to some contribution from the country to meet the cost of maintaining them.
As I have said, Deputy Good's proposal seems to be impracticable and unworkable and would, perhaps, prove expensive. A general contribution from the Central Fund would provide the same relief in the city and would serve the same purpose as Deputy Good's proposal without additional administrative expense being involved. I will admit that there is a case against contributing out of State funds towards exceptional distress in Dublin, but if the proceeds of the amusements tax were devoted to the relief of unemployment in proportion to the amount raised in each area, there would be no injustice done to any county. As the greater part of the tax comes from Dublin the amount available for relief here would be in proportion to that available in any other part of the country. The result would be to case the burden on industry while at the same time making funds available to meet destitution. We intend to oppose Deputy Good's proposal, but we think that the difficulty which he is endeavouring to meet should be met in some way, if not in the manner which we suggest.
That is out of the Central Fund?
Yes, to some extent.
I think that Deputy Lemass was not quite sure whether he was in order in his reference to the amusements tax but, unless he intended to increase the amount of the tax, would it not be only robbing Peter to pay Paul? Would you not have to put a further tax upon other people?
The total yield of the amusements tax at present is about £150,000 a year. I agree that it would be possible to increase that and to extend it to dances, dog-races, and similar functions, but, even if that £150,000 were devoted to the relief of destitution in each district in proportion to the amount of tax raised in that district, a considerable amount of relief could be given.
Localising poor law relief.
Does not the amusements tax go into the Central Fund?
If it is removed will we not have to put it on some other tax?
Yes, but I suggest that that is more equitable and less expensive than Deputy Good's proposal.
Does not the amusements tax go into the common pool and, if this suggestion is carried out, does it not mean that the people in the country will have to pay for the destitute poor in Dublin?
We cannot have a general discussion on the amusements tax.
There is a proposal in the amendment of Deputy Good that the cost of maintaining in Dublin the destitute poor who come from outside the city should be charged against the areas from which they come or, rather, that the cost of sending them back should be charged against those areas. That is an attempt to spread over the country some of the exceptional burdens which Dublin is asked to bear. Deputy Good's proposal, as has been pointed out by the Minister for Local Government, involves administrative difficulties and probably considerable cost. I am suggesting another method, namely, calling on the Central Fund for the amount of a particular tax, the amusements tax, in order to serve the same purpose at less expense.
You both agree that the country should pay for Dublin.
No, that the country should pay for relief given in Dublin to persons from the country.
Deputy Murphy mentioned that neither he nor those associated with him on the Independent Benches were against the principles of the Bill, but it seems to me that the intention of the amendments moved from those benches was to water down the Bill.
There has been a discussion as to how the money is to be raised.
To divide the burden.
While Deputy Good criticised the expenditure in regard to the relief of destitution in Dublin, he put forward no suggestion. How would he view the suggestion of increasing the income tax on all incomes over £700 or £800? Would he accept that alternative? I believe that his amendment is not practicable and is based on a false assumption. It is based on the assumption that boards of guardians will only have power to send people trying to get relief back to other parts of the Saorstát, but, according to Section 3, the boards of guardians can pay any reasonable expense involved in removing them to some other place. They might be able, for instance, to send them to places like Tyrone, Fermanagh, and other places outside the Saorstát. I would suggest that the proposal that the cost should be borne by the places where they are sent is not practicable. It could not be worked. How would Deputy Good view the suggestion that instead of making it a county-at-large charge the additional expenditure should be obtained by increasing the income tax on salaries such as I have suggested?
It is extraordinary that a proposition like this can work on the other side and cannot work here.
I suggest that there is a fundamental misunderstanding about the matter. I suppose that that is due to Dublin mentality.
What did you say?
I used the word "mentality," but I withdraw it now. The suggestion seems to be that everyone who comes to Dublin from outside is a charge. These are the only people you are considering. You do not consider the fact that all the brains and enterprise which make the rateable value of Dublin have come from outside, and if you are going to charge to the general body of the community the few who fail to be superior to Dublin you will have to credit back to every union in the country——
You are hitting your own front bench very hard.
You will have to credit back the good men and the good service that has been done. Let us have a fair bargain. Jacobs came from Waterford. Are you going to credit Jacobs back to Waterford? Ford came from America. Are you going to credit the Ford Works back to America? You cannot go on the principle of simply picking out a few lame dogs and charging them up, because if you do you fail to recognise the debt which this lethal chamber called Dublin owes to the brains and energy of the rest of the community in the country.
It is a wonder how the Deputy thrives in the lethal chamber.
One would imagine that there must be thousands of people migrating to Dublin every day of the week and every week of the year, whereas the fact is that there may be as many Dublin people supported by boards of health throughout the country as there are people from the country supported in Dublin. The doctrine of trying to set up another partition line between the rest of the country and Dublin is dangerous. I think it would be well if Deputy Good and all the other Dublin Deputies who spoke to this amendment would remember the fact that the rest of the Free State can live without Dublin, but Dublin cannot live without the rest of the Free State.
As Deputy Flinn has truly remarked, the best brains and the best men in Dublin at the moment came from the country.
Not at all.
I think I am in a position to prove that. If Deputy Good speaks his mind in regard to the business in which he is engaged, he will say that the men who occupy the positions of trust in the building line came from the towns and villages of the Free State. I know that from experience. If it were not for the people of the rest of the country I believe that Dublin City would not exist at all. If you want tradesmen or workers in Dublin you must draw them from the rest of the Free State. It is very unwise to make any distinction in this Bill, because you may be up against a double-edged weapon. In dealing with this question I always adopt the attitude which I take up in trade union circles. I have been a trade unionist for thirty years and I always maintain that whether a man comes from China, Japan, or America, so long as he is a trade unionist, he is entitled to get work in any country. The same principle should apply in the case of a man coming from the country to Dublin. There should be no distinction. This country is too small to have any distinction, and if people, through any misfortune not of their own making have to leave their native towns and villages to come to Dublin in search of work, it is only fair and just, in the event of their finding themselves destitute here, that some provision should be made for them whilst they are living in the city, because there are at the moment large numbers of city people who have obtained relief in other parts of the State.
I wonder where?
There were stationed in Dundalk for a considerable time, three or four hundred members of the National Army. On disbandment they settled down in Dundalk, and I am informed that at the present time we are supporting, through the rates, a number ranging from 15 to 20 of these men. I, for one, would not like these people to be banished from the county and sent back to the towns and counties from which they came.
They were not from Dublin.
I think, taking everything into consideration, the attitude of the Minister in regard to this amendment is the logical attitude and is the only feasible attitude to be pursued. As he rightly points out, if this amendment were adopted, the whole question of poor relief throughout the country would soon be in a chaotie condition. You would have nothing but letters passing from the secretary of one board of health to the secretary of another board of health. There would be no finality about claims and the result would be that the unfortunate people would suffer during the period in which these investigations were being made as to where they were born. Taking everything into consideration, I think Deputy Good would be wise to withdraw the amendment, seeing that it would be impossible to work it or at all events that it could not be put into the Bill with any degree of success. As the Minister pointed out, it would be no use as far as the Bill is concerned. Experience of the position which obtains in Great Britain at the moment, shows that it would be impracticable, and it would be well that this amendment should not be pushed at present and that the section as it stands in the Bill should be allowed to remain.
In sub-section (1), line 5, after the word "work" to insert the words "which is not work that, but for the provisions of this section, would be done by persons employed for wages in the ordinary course of industry or trade and"
The object of the amendment is to ensure that, under the provisions of the Bill as it stands, the giving of employment to persons who are relieved by the poor law authority, will not result in the displacement of those who would be recruited in the ordinary way, as that would, in effect, defeat the object of the Bill. So far as we are concerned we are not at all opposed to people who are relieved in this way being required to do work. As a matter of fact we favour that but we want to be sure that the provision of the employment set out in the Bill will not lead to the displacement of people who would be employed in the ordinary course of commerce and trade. I realise that it is difficult to get a form of words or to put anything into the Bill that will ensure what we would like to see there. I think as a matter of fact it will depend very largely on the way in which the Bill is administered. If it were intelligently administered, I am confident that the work which would be required by the poor law authorities would not be work, which would, as I say, lead to the displacement of men who would get work through the ordinary channels. That is the reason for putting down the amendment and I hope the Minister will be able to see his way to accept it or, if not, to agree to put something into the Bill which will safeguard the position that we desire to see safeguarded.
I quite appreciate the effect of Deputy Morrissey's remarks that actually what is intended to be safeguarded in the the amendment can only be safeguarded by administration if you accept the principle at all that it is desirable to provide some class of work for persons who are unemployed and are willing to work, and who are driven to look for relief. I think all Deputies will appreciate the fact that the trouble always is to find work to which a local authority administering poor relief can put persons looking for relief. Different classes of work have been done here in the city to which, while they might conflict with Deputy Morrissey's amendment, no one could reasonably object. I would like to get suggestions, and I am certain that those responsible for administering poor relief would be very appreciative of suggestions, as to the class of work on which relief labour could be utilised.
The only work that it has been used on recently was done last year in the preparation or clearance of ground intended for building. I understood from Deputy O'Connell that he had an objection to that particular class of development work for building being done by this particular class of labour.
Not only that, but the conditions under which the work was carried out.
If relief labour of this particular kind cannot be used on work like that, I find it difficult to know on what particular class of work it can be used. It is desirable to have work for persons desiring work. It is particularly desirable to offer work as a test in the case of persons who are suspected of not being bona fide applicants for work. There are cases such as that. The difficulty is to provide the work. I am opposed to Deputy Morrissey's amendment in this particular form. I put down an amendment here— amendment 8—which might give us, in a more satisfactory way than the original drafting, machinery for getting work done. The intention is clearly not to interfere with or to displace ordinary labour by relief labour—any work that could usefully be done. Personally, I realise that the most satisfactory way of dealing with the unemployment question is by way of stimulating trade and business enterprise generally, and that if work is going to be done by way of relief that would ordinarily be done in the course of trade and business, you are simply creating a further problem. The administration of this section was intended certainly to provide work that would not otherwise be carried out. The suggestion that I make to the Deputy is that instead of restricting any work being done he would add to my amendment (2) (a) the words "undertaken for the purpose of providing additional employment." The new sub-section would then read:
"(2) For the purpose of the provision of work under this section, a board of guardians may—
(a) contract with any person or body of persons for the performance by the board for or on behalf of such a person or body of persons of any work of public utility undertaken for the purpose of providing additional employment."
I have given a considerable amount of thought to the matter. I realise that the thing can only be done administratively. The insertion of these words will, in my opinion, safeguard it, that is to say, the guardians will only set relief labour on work of this kind where it is definitely the provision of additional work.
There are one or two points I would like to get clear on. From our point of view, the Minister's amendment 8, suggesting a new sub-section, is worse than the sub-section in the Bill as it stands, because it is wider, and, as far as we can see, would, if carried in its present form, enable or allow the board of guardians to contract with any person or body of persons for almost any work that a public authority would do. That being so, there is no doubt whatever that, immediately, the persons who would be in receipt of relief would come into conflict with those who get their work in the ordinary channels or those who get employment through the ordinary channels. There is another matter which arises on this, and I would like that the Minister would give us some information on it. What are the terms or conditions of employment of persons receiving outdoor relief? The Minister said he would like to have that work as a test. What work would they be required to do? At what rate of wages would they be required to do that work? Will the rate be in conflict with the trade union rate of wages? And if it is in conflict, does the Minister realise that it is immediately going to be open to abuse and that it will make the position very much worse than it is? At the outset, I realise that it is very hard to frame an amendment which will give the safeguards which we think necessary. I think the Minister ought to consider the matter more fully between now and the Report Stage, and try to get a form of words which would be more acceptable to us, in a way, than those which appear on the Paper. As I have stated, we are satisfied that it is desirable that there should be some work test—that the applicant for relief should do some work. The difficulty is to find the class of employment which will not bring the people seeking relief into conflict with those who get their employment in the ordinary way.
If the Minister would be prepared to look into the matter between now and the Report Stage I would be prepared to withdraw the amendment at this stage and then to consider the matter on the Report Stage when the Minister brings in a new form. I think we would want something better than the form of words which is on the paper at present.
Our main difficulty is that whatever form of words we put in here will not help in any special way the persons dealing with relief to find work to which they can put relief labour. My amendment 8, giving power to contract with any person or body of persons, looks very elaborate machinery to the Union Commissioners, but the intention of it really is to enable the Union Commissioners to do work for the City Commissioners if the City Commissioners are able to find work on which relief labour can be employed. That is the main intention of that section—asking for powers to contract with any person or body of persons. I would be prepared to consider the matter further on Report Stage. I would ask, however, that the opportunity be taken during this discussion to suggest what particular class of work the Commissioners could carry out.
On the question of wages, I cannot see the Commissioners carrying out any work upon which they would pay the ordinary trade union wages, whether for labourers or for skilled workers of any kind, because I consider that the work which would warrant these conditions of pay would be work that would conflict with the principles that Deputy Morrissey has in his suggested amendment, and that the type of work that the Commissioners would be able to set men to would be a type of work that is not fully remunerative, work upon which the full conditions and the full rates of pay cannot and will not be given. I cannot imagine any relief labour being employed upon work which would warrant their being given trade union wages. Our difficulty is to realise what class of work the Commissioners would find to put men on.
I realise the Minister's difficulty, but I want to be satisfied that if, for instance, the Commissioners are going to give a man, say, £1 or 15/- a week outdoor relief that that man is not, under the terms of this Bill, to be compelled to give in return for that amount a full week's work. There is nothing in the Bill at present to prevent that being asked for and to prevent that test being used. Under (2) (a), in the Minister's own amendment, would it not be possible for a poor law authority in the county of Dublin, if it had a scheme for the building of 50, 80 or 100 labourers' cottages, to contract in such a way that only those who are seeking outdoor relief would be employed on the building of these cottages and that a rate of wages which would be very much lower than the rate ordinarily paid would be paid. Something like that has happened before and the Minister knows it. Attention was drawn to it here before and——
I would like to know where that happened.
It happened in North Dublin, where the Minister stated clearly——
Where houses were being built?
I am not saying that there were houses built, but there were certain relief works where those who were employed were paid at a rate less than that given to ordinary employees, and the excuse given on that occasion was that those men had been unemployed for a considerable time and there had been a certain wastage. They were not able to give as good a return as the ordinary workman and for that reason they were paid at a lower rate. It is because we do not want that to happen again that we want to get the position made clear now. So far as the Labour Party are concerned, we are anxious to meet the Minister, if it is at all possible, on a form of words which will safeguard the persons who will have hopes of securing employment through the ordinary channels.
Perhaps Deputy Morrissey will suggest the class of work on which relief labour can be used?
It is not easy to do that, and I realise the difficulty. I think any person who has any experience of the administration of the poor law or of poor law institutions will be prepared to admit that. You might say that there is work which could be done within the institutions themselves. In many institutions there are farms for the production of food for the inmates; then there could be plenty of work in the way of repairs and road-making and cleaning. All that could be done inside the institutions. I realise that in a scheme like this, which is going to involve a considerable number of men, you cannot find employment for all in that way.
Deputy Morrissey has no suggestion to offer in that connection. If his amendment were passed the relief labour could only be used building follies, or something like that.
Oh no. I have no doubt whatever that the poor law authorities, if it is at all possible to find work, will find it. The Deputy will realise that we want to safeguard this position: that we are not going to have this Bill used in order to get labour at half trade union rates. It is quite legitimate on our part to try to secure that. If the House agrees with us in that attitude, I suggest it is up to the Department and to the authorities concerned to carry out the wishes of the House. So far as we are concerned we have no objection whatever to the Minister insisting that no persons except those who are willing to work will get food, clothing and shelter; but if these people are going to work they should not be asked to work a full week or four or five days for £1 or 25/-.
I am in great sympathy with Deputy Morrissey's point of view. I do not believe in this kind of labour, and I do not think that the community will get any benefit out of such labour in proportion to the amount of expendíture and trouble. There is the fatal bar there. You have the trade unions looking for employment for their members, and if you are going to allow the Commissioners or the guardians to employ labour at half wages—because the Minister, and everybody will agree with him, has pointed out that you cannot possibly pay the trade union rate—you are going to have a clash. You are going to be in the position that the ratepayers will be subsidising a certain type of labour which may in the long run drive persons who would otherwise find ordinary employment out of that employment, as, for example, the building trade. I doubt also whether, apart from the administrative difficulties, you can expect a man who is destitute and who has a wife and family to look after, to give real value for the money. I do not know what the amount of relief in Dublin will be, but I presume that the amount of relief given, even for this work, will not be so considerably increased that it can be regarded as a basis of subsistence for a whole family. I cannot see how that man could be expected to give work really of value for the money. I am against the whole principle.
I would like to stress the point made by Deputy Morrissey. We feel very keenly upon this thing, because there is a possibility that if the Bill were allowed to go through as it is now the men on relief works will be brought into conflict with men who at the moment are doing ordinary work and who may be expecting to get work from the institutions. The Minister and Deputy Lemass have asked what type of work we would suggest. As far as I am concerned. I would not have any objection to men being engaged on clearing housing sites. I think it would be a good thing to have done, so long as they get rates commensurate with the demands of trade unions. As Deputy Morrissey said, we would object to a man getting £1 or 30/- relief and working a whole week for that. We believe that the periods of work which every man should give should be in proportion to the amount of relief he would get. As far as the clearing of housing sites is concerned, I believe it would be of immense advantage to have these men engaged on that work. The clearing of housing sites in a great many, if not in all, cases is charged against the building of the house, and in consequence the rent is made dearer on the man who inhabits the house afterwards. In this case it will be the rates that will be paying for the clearing of the site. I think there would be a double advantage in that. Unless we get some assurance from the Minister that he will try to have Deputy Morrissey's intentions carried into effect, we will have to insist on putting the matter to a division.
There seems to be a general agreement that some work test should be provided, but I am not satisfied that either Deputy Morrissey's amendment or the amendment suggested by the Minister meets the situation. The work upon which relief labour will be employed will be either totally unnecessary work, such as the building of follies, or else it will be necessary or useful work, in which case it could easily be held that the use of relief labour on that work would be preventing persons getting employment in the ordinary way.
Deputy Corish suggests that this labour could be used on the clearing of building sites, presumably, the clearing of derelict sites in the city, as a preliminary to the carrying out of building operations. That suggestion immediately occurred to everyone who considered the question. But it would be most undesirable that this labour should be used to disemploy persons likely to be engaged in the ordinary way, or to force down labour rates in the city. It is not necessary, I think, that that should happen, but, as the Minister points out, it is more a matter to be safeguarded in administration than in the statute. In fact, I think it would be almost impossible to put safeguards into the Bill that would provide against every possible contingency. If, for example, the trade union rate for a particular unskilled class of work is £3 a week, and the maximum relief which you could allow was £1 a week, then the maximum amount of work that the applicant should be asked to do in a week would be, obviously, two days. No doubt that would involve a considerable amount of waste, and the result of the work done by relief labour would be much less satisfactory than work carried out in the ordinary way, but that waste is inevitable, I think, in the administration of relief schemes, and would, in any case, prove better than merely giving relief without any work test whatever. There seems general agreement in favour of the work test, and anyone who has given any consideration to the subject will agree that the work test is not merely advisable but is necessary to prevent abuse. I would be inclined, very definitely, to vote against Deputy Morrissey's amendment as it reads. I am influenced in that decision by the fact that this Party is committed more than any other Party, to the solution of the problem of unemployment by the provision of work on State schemes in preference to the giving of relief of any kind, and we cannot allow the effectiveness of any programme which may be involved to carry out that policy to be hampered by the imposition of rigid restrictions of this nature.
Deputy Morrissey's amendment is much too rigid. It would in fact prevent any work being done of a useful nature, and would confine relief labour to the picking of oakum or something of that kind. On the other hand, the Minister's amendment does not go any way far enough, and would not provide against the various possibilities of danger that Deputy Corish and Deputy Morrissey referred to. I would like the Minister to consider the possibility of giving some guarantee in the Bill, that the amount of work which would be asked from any person in receipt of relief would bear the same proportion to the amount of relief received as the recognised rate of wages for unskilled workers bears to a full week's work. That sounds a little involved, but, nevertheless, I think it conveys the idea I have in my mind. We know that in the past work that was given out of State grants was used to depress the general standard of wages in certain districts.
I refer particularly to work on the roads and on other relief schemes that were started throughout the country.
I wonder if the Deputy would give us an instance comparing the road wages, say, with the agricultural labourers' wages in any area.
The rate of wages for agricultural workers is one of the shames of this country, and I do not think any useful purpose would be secured by comparing that rate with the rate of wages for road workers.
Might I ask another question?
Can the Deputy suggest any area in which, as a result of our fixing road wages in 1924, or whenever it was, wages were depressed?
I do not think I could say any one particular district was affected more than another. I would say that the general rate of wages for unskilled labour was forced down all over the country in consequence of the policy adopted by the Government at that time, not merely in relation to roads, but in relation to other relief schemes, and in conjunction with the rate of wages paid on the Shannon scheme.
The Deputy means they were not forced down but up?
I mean that they were definitely forced down and pinned down. However, that is outside the issue. The Minister will, no doubt, admit that the relief labour under this Bill can be used to force down wages, and that is a most undesirable thing to happen. If it is possible to get safeguards against the Bill being used in that way, I think it is very desirable that we should get them. At the moment I cannot think what safeguards can be provided in the form of an amendment. Undoubtedly, in the administration of the Bill, even if no such provision was there, steps should be taken to ensure that that danger would not arise. But the administration of the Act will not be in the hands of the Minister. We do not know in whose hands it may be from time to time, and quite possibly there may come a time when one of the authorities in County Dublin, administering the Act, will definitely decide to use relief labour for the purpose of counteracting demands, say, from their regular employees. It would be undesirable if that should happen, and accordingly we think that some provision against that danger should be made, if at all possible, in the Bill. Deputy Morrissey's amendment does not meet it; the Minister's proposal does not meet it, and we have not been able to devise an amendment that would meet it. But if another effort were made to do it between now and the Report Stage it might meet with more success.
I think it would be as well for Ministers and Deputies to realise that the workers generally look at Section 4 with a big amount of suspicion. They look on it as an attempt by the Minister to force down wages, and one of the reasons why they look on it in that way is owing to the fact that some time ago at Whitehall the Minister suggested that 30/- a week was enough for relief purposes in connection with work that had previously been performed by men drawing a higher rate of wages. While Deputy Lemass was speaking the Minister interjected a remark about road work. I know that the Minister's Department refused to allow at least one county to pay more than 26/- a week to road workers, and the possibility is that the Minister may endeavour to do in Dublin City and County what he did in that county if he gets away with it in the manner proposed in this section.
In reply to Deputy Morrissey the Minister stated that he intended, with the permission of the House, to add a sub-section to give permission to guardians to contract with any person or body of persons for the performance by the board for or on behalf of such person or body of persons of any work of public utility. Now, what might that mean? It might mean that it would be necessary to build a number of new roads in the suburbs of Dublin and that the guardians, acting under this permission which will be given if the sub-section passes, would employ only men who are drawing outdoor relief, so that what would actually be necessary work would be performed by men who were paid 21/- or 22/- a week. If the Minister is going to give outdoor relief to the extent of £1 or 22/- a week to destitute people why not give them work for two or three days a week at trade union rates? What is the idea underlying this section? The workers generally in Dublin City and County view it as an insidious attempt on the part of the Minister generally to press down the rate of wages. If the Minister is actually sincere in not wanting to force down the rate of wages there is no real reason whatever why he should not accept Deputy Morrissey's amendment.
This is, of course, a painful problem, to be frank about it, and what I suggest to the House is that they should treat it as a problem. It would be quite easy for us all to say the things which would be popular; it would be quite easy for us all to say the things which would be get votes; it would be possible for us to say the things which would be comfortable and pleasant to ourselves, but we may have to say things which will be neither pleasant to ourselves nor bring us votes. I think that we are up against a really serious and difficult problem. It has been suggested that there is a great deal of suspicion in relation to this clause. I personally do not understand—I will be perfectly frank— the meaning and purpose of the latter part of the clause, and when we have had an explanation of that possibly some of my difficulties will be removed.
The way I look at it is this: There are 40,000 houses requiring to be built in this country, which ought to be built, and which, we are told by the responsible people, cannot be built under present conditions. There is an amount of drainage which possibly ought to be done, but which, we are told by the responsible people, cannot be done under the present conditions. That is work which requires to be done, but we have frankly to face the fact at the moment that we cannot do it under our conditions. Now, if 20,000 of those houses, that will not be built with trade union labour under present conditions in the next five or six years, could be built by the people who are anxious to work at the wage which they are prepared to take, is it wrong that these people should be employed at that? That is my position. I am not saying anything for the purpose of getting at anybody; if I say anything it is not intended in any way to be an attack upon anybody. You had the case of the Shannon scheme, where, when a certain wage of, I think, 35/- was proposed——
Well, thirty-two shillings; we will take that; I do not mind what the figure is for the moment—there was an absolute outcry, and every organisation which was regularly called a trade union organisation was undoubtedly put forward for the purpose of preventing that wage from being accepted. Now, if there is one thing that that challenge to existing conditions did prove, it proved that there were in this country far more people than were required by the Shannon scheme who were only too anxious to have the opportunity of working under the conditions imposed by the Shannon scheme at the wages which were authorised.
Not anxious, but forced to.
We will call it that if you like. But forced to by what? Forced to by the whole of the existing surrounding conditions, most of which, at any rate, in any immediate sense, are completely outside the control of this Dáil. Anyone who knows the canvassing which went on merely to get jobs at thirty-two shillings a week on the Shannon Scheme and under the conditions of the Shannon Scheme will know that the labour which was there used did not more than touch the fringes of the fund which was available. Now, I have to face these facts. I cannot get away from them. I am up against them every day. Men come to me, and they do not say that 48/- a week, 58/- a week, or 78/- a week is what they want; they come to me and they say that they have a writ or an ejectment notice, that they have children who are ill, that they have no means of employment of any sort, kind or description, and will one for God's sake somehow get them any wages. Those are the actual conditions, and they represent an enormous number of people. Are we to take the line that because these men's demand does not conform to some standard or other of a trade union they shall not be employed?
I suggest that we should pick out those things which to-day are uneconomic under the actual conditions and which cannot be done— the vast mass of housing which cannot immediately be done, for instance. The Government have said that they are prepared to provide so many millions of money for the purpose of building houses if any scheme can be put forward by which they could be built within that sum, and built under such conditions that people could live in them. The people who are to live in them are the people who are coming to every one of us every day asking us for God's sake to find them work at any wages—thousands of them. What are we to do with them? Are we who are healthy and comfortable, and possibly freed from anxiety, to say to these people that because their standard of comfort is not the standard of comfort to which we are prepared to live down, that they shall not have any standard of comfort?
I have said that this is a painful subject. It is deeply painful to me, because I do know people whose means of livelihood, whose actual relations to their own families, to their own children, are matters of intimate personal concern, and I multiply my experience by the number of people in the country, and I know that it must cover a large area of misery. Are we going to say: "We have a standard of conditions, and unless you are prepared to insist upon that standard of conditions you shall not be employed?" I find that a thing which in my heart and conscience I cannot say. I cannot get away from the fact that when an artificial standard was set up in relation to the Shannon it merely exposed the fact that there were tens of thousands of people who were eagerly anxious to get a means of living.
Mr. Hogan (Clare):
A means of living! A means of dying.
I grant you that. I am not suggesting it is good, but it is something. I say deliberately, in the face of this House, that if I could find a means of employment at the rate and under the conditions of the Shannon scheme for the unemployed people in this country I should deserve every honour that this country could possibly pay a man.
Mr. Hogan (Clare):
The reverse holds good, then.
We do not want to argue it. I do not quite understand the Deputy, but I will give way to him if he will put the point.
We will take the Deputy's speech afterwards.
Everything of this kind has to come out of the pool. Are we going to say that that pool shall be distributed, and that the area and ambit of the distribution of that pool shall be restricted by reason of the size of the unit which has to come out of that pool? That seems to be the position. If anyone—I do not care on which side of the House, and I do not care what politics he professes—finds a means of employing the people who come to me every day to ask for work at a standard of wages altogether lower than the standard to which you would prescribe, I certainly will be his grateful follower.
I did not think my amendment would have led to some of the speeches we have listened to. Deputy Lemass, in the course of his speech, said that the party to which he belonged, more than any other party, were committed to solving the unemployment problem.
By the provision of work.
By the provision of work, and for that reason he could not support my amendment or any amendment which would put a barrier in the way to benefit as he held my amendment would. At the time I was not able to follow the Deputy very clearly as to what he meant. I must certainly say, while I disagree absolutely with every word uttered by Deputy Flinn, I certainly have respect for the honest and open speech he has made. Now we know the way in which the Fianna Fáil Party propose to solve the unemployment problem is by using the fact that there are so many unemployed, destitute in the country, and forcing them to work at the lowest rate of wages.
Nonsense; that is utter nonsense; nobody said so.
I do not wish to misrepresent the Deputy in any way whatsoever, but Deputy Flinn said if he were able to provide work for all the unemployed, or even for a large majority of the unemployed in this country, at the same wages and under the same conditions as obtained on the Shannon scheme, he would be entitled to the honour of every person in this country. I can only say in defence of that statement coming from the Deputy that he was not aware of the conditions or the actual wages paid on the Shannon scheme. I was, and I certainly say that the Deputy would not get much honour from the workers of this country if that was the position.
If you could give them 32/- a week, you would be entitled to it too.
A further point was this: we do not wish that any man in this country who is not willing to work should get relief, and we are prepared, in so far as we can go, consistent with the safeguarding of the standard rate of wages which will give a moderate standard of living to the workers in this country, to meet the Minister. The Deputy said houses could not be built; that there were so many workers coming to him who were prepared to work for any wage. Unfortunately, the workers were unemployed and could not do what the Deputy advised a certain section of this community to do some time ago when he said that capital must get its price; if it does not get it in Ireland, it must go elsewhere. Unfortunately, the unemployed cannot go elsewhere. Surely the worker is entitled to his price as much as the capitalist, with this difference, that he cannot go elsewhere to look for it if he cannot get it in this country.
So far as we are concerned, we are as anxious as any person or party in this House to secure employment, and we are prepared to assist Fianna Fáil, Cumann na nGaedheal, or any other party in any schemes which will benefit the unemployed and which will secure work for them, but we certainly are not going to allow either this Government, or any other Government which may replace them, to solve unemployment on the basis that they will only give just what they are forced to give, in other words, that the rate of wages shall be fixed on the basis of the law of supply and demand. That is a fair interpretation of the case as it was put from the Fianna Fáil Benches that this question of wages should be on the basis of supply and demand. As I say, I have no desire whatever to misrepresent Deputy Flinn in any way at all, but that was how his speech appeared to me. That was what it conveyed to me, and if I am wrong I should be very glad if the Deputy would put me right, but the Deputy spoke clearly and, if I may say so, fearlessly on it. I am trying to speak as clearly as I can and to put the point of view of my Party, and I say that we disagree absolutely with the point of view put by Deputy Flinn.
We are discussing a number of amendments and Section 4 together, but the debate has taken a very wide scope. The Deputy will realise that we cannot continue on that line indefinitely.
I was not prepared to go into the debate that has just taken place. I was almost prepared to remark that you had become rather lenient this afternoon. I would like the Minister to tell us before we go any further what Section 4 means. On the Second Stage of this Bill I asked the Minister to let us know on the Committee Stage what his interpretation of this section was. First of all, we have been discussing rates of wages, classes of work, and so forth, and not even Deputy Morrissey can answer to this House whether any wages can be paid at all. Section 2 points out that a person must be destitute. Deputy Morrissey, Deputy Flinn and other speakers have been discussing unemployed people. I would like the Minister to tell us definitely whether a person must be absolutely destitute, as we understand the word destitute, before he can be considered for relief. Secondly, I would like if the Minister would tell the House how these people are going to be paid. Are they going to be paid in money; are they going to be paid in kind? It has been suggested outside this House that all people will get, as a result of this relief measure, will be food in exchange for work— those who can work. If that is so, I would like the Minister to explain how these people are going to keep themselves covered as far as clothes are concerned, and how they are going to maintain their shelter. Then I would ask the Minister to explain how it is understood outside this House by people who are concerned with the administration of this Bill when it becomes an Act. There are already restrictions with regard to the administration of this money. I understand in the case of a widow that unless she has a certain number of children she is not going to benefit by this Bill.
I do not want to delay the House in going into cross purposes as to the national solution of unemployment, rates of wages, and standard of living. What I want a clear understanding on is what does this Bill mean? The Minister cannot say that he has no definite idea with regard to Section 4, because the Minister is responsible for the framing of this Bill and the inclusion of this section, and must have something in the back of his mind which prompted him to frame it. He has not told us yet what this section means, and how it is going to work. One would gather that in exchange for food people are going to be hired out, are going to do work for outside bodies in exchange for their food. I would ask the Minister to be as frank as he can to let us know not only what Section 4 means but how it is going to be put into operation.
Might I take this opportunity of explaining to Deputy Morrissey exactly what I did say in relation to his amendment? I said that if Deputy Morrissey's amendment is carried that the persons in receipt of outdoor relief cannot be used upon any useful work whatever. They can only be employed on the picking of oakum or the construction of follies. Deputy Morrissey was asked two or three times to state by the Minister for Local Government what class of work he thought persons in receipt of outdoor relief should be employed on. He said it was difficult to state what kind of work they could be employed on.
It depends on the rate of wages.
Deputy Corish suggested that they should be occupied on the clearing of sites for housing. Does Deputy Morrissey accept that?
We are getting to the position in which we are agreed that the persons in receipt of outdoor relief can be employed in such work as the clearing of sites, provided that the amount of work which is asked of them in return for the amount they get in relief is not excessive in relation to the prevailing rates for that class of work. If we are agreed upon that it should be possible, I think, to put in safeguards in the Bill which will prevent the labour of these persons in receipt of outdoor relief being used to depress ordinary wages rates or to do work which other workers have refused to do in consequence of the rate of wages offered. If these safeguards can be provided, we have met the only danger which Deputy Morrissey appeared to contemplate, but it seems to me that the putting forward of this amendment in its present form is neither going to secure that it will be possible to do work in that way or to insure that the wages will be paid in the manner in which he suggests. It will only make it absolutely impossible to do anything except that these persons in receipt of outdoor relief are engaged in order to test their willingness to work. For example, transferring a heap of stones from one side of the institution yard to another and taking them back again. Undoubtedly, by asking them to do that work you will find out whether they are willing to work or not, but it is much better, in the national interests, that such persons should be employed upon useful work. If they are going to be employed upon ordinary work then they are going to do work which, if they were not available, would have to be done in the ordinary course of industry or trade. We must face the fact that these persons in receipt of outdoor relief, if they are going to do useful work, would be preventing a much smaller number of individuals getting employment in the performance of the particular useful work in which they are engaged. Nevertheless, it is very much more desirable that a large number of persons doing that work for two days or three days a week and receiving a smaller amount than the other persons would receive for a full week's work is much better than to have the smaller number engaged and the larger number starving.
I think if Deputy Morrissey reads Deputy Flinn's speech, when it appears in the Official Report, he will find that that is the idea that Deputy Flinn has in mind, that it is much better to have the larger number engaged at a lower rate of wages than the smaller number engaged at a higher rate and the balance starving. It is quite possible that persons with whom Deputy Morrissey has no political sympathy whatsoever will be found backing Deputy Morrissey up if it is his view that certain high rates should be paid and that nobody should be employed except at that rate, even if it meant that a large number of people would have to starve.
I never said any such thing.
We want to ensure that every person working in this country will have the highest standard of living possible, but I think it would be much more satisfactory to speak of relation to the standard of living that relation to the amount of money than can be got, because the amount of money means nothing until we know its purchasing power. We think if the State is going to meet the immediate difficulties by the institution of State schemes of work it cannot be bound down by trade union regulations. It cannot be bound down, for example, to pay a carpenter a carpenter's recognised rate of wages even though they have no carpentry work for him to do, if that carpenter has to do whatever useful work is available, such as the planting of trees, or something of that kind. While I think that there should be precautions against the use of such labour for the purpose of depressing the standard of living generally or for the purpose of dealing with a situation that might develop into a strike of workers on a particular job, nevertheless we cannot bind ourselves up so closely as Deputy Morrissey would have us do in his amendment that we would find it altogether impossible to put that relief labour upon useful work. It will be very difficult to get an amendment which will provide against all the dangers that we all want to prevent, even the Minister for Local Government. It is really a matter which must be dealt with in administration. Even if the Bill passed as it now stands, without any further amendments whatsoever, it need not necessarily be used in any way detrimental to the interests of the working classes. But it can be used in a manner detrimental to the interests of the working classes and, I think, any amendment which it would be possible to devise will not alter that position, except one such as Deputy Morrissey suggests, which would be more harmful than the passing of the Bill in its present form, because it would be purely negative in its working. We have to control all those charged with the working of the Act, and if we find that they are acting in some discreditable manner we can kick up such a row about it that they will have to stop.
I would like to say that the reason I suggested the clearing of housing sites as being useful work for these people is due to the fact that I am in a position to know that a great many housing schemes in this country have been abandoned because of the fact that the clearance of the sites was uneconomic, and in view of the fact that this labour would be paid for out of rates, it would serve a two-fold purpose by making schemes economic and providing employment. In almost every case the cost of the preparation of sites is taken into consideration when the rent is being fixed, and it would be very desirable if this labour was so used in the clearance of sites. So long as trade union rates of wages are paid I do not see why they should not be so-employed.
It was very difficult for any one of us who were trying to understand this amendment to make out exactly what is conveyed, but it does not require very much to see, the moment you deal with it, that you are dealing with one of the most difficult problems that have got to be tackled. Unfortunately, I was not here for all the speeches on both sides, but I can see at once where the difficulty lies. It is this: I think Deputy Flinn put it that you have a certain amount to spend, and you are up against a problem. Are you going to spend that in the way in which you are going to give the greatest amount of employment and risk the dangers that are attaching to that scheme? I do not think that big question exactly arises here. Thinking over this, it seemed to me that the poor law authorities are going to fix, in the first place, the amount of relief that they can give. A certain amount of relief has to be given. The Bill, I take it, is to provide an opportunity to those who are getting the relief of earning that amount of money. I take it that that would be the basis. If I had to operate that for myself I would say: "Here is a class of work. This is the ruling wages for doing this class of work. If I am going to give in relief 30/- I will employ that man for the time that he would earn 30/- at that particular wage."
It does not seem to me that to work it on these lines is impossible. It seems to me to be a just way of dealing with it. That is, there is a class of work to be done; those who are engaged in that work will be paid at the rate—the word "rate" is the word which comes in with importance; the time that he will be employed will depend on the amount of relief that you are going to give that particular individual. That is how to look at it. I think that is the way in which every member of our Party looks at it. I think that if it is examined home there will not be found any tremendous difference of opinion in our Party on that particular matter. As far as this particular Bill is concerned, the solution to me is obvious at any rate. As far as we have discussed it, and as far as any members of our Party I have discussed it with are concerned, that has been the solution they have agreed upon so far as I found. There are other wider and more difficult problems introduced into the wider question which Deputy Flinn has raised. There are certain fallacies, to my mind, in what he has raised. The point in this case is that we have not a definite fixed pool—there is not a definite fixed sum as to which we can say, "Out of that it has to come." In this particular case the point is that there is a duty on the local authorities to provide this relief. They have got to provide a certain sum. If they are wise, they will try also to provide work equal to that amount, so that the person getting relief will give an equivalent in work. It does not seem to me that there is going to be any reduction or interference with the rate of wages on that account. It is a matter really of time. I move to report progress.
Progress ordered to be reported.