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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 20 Feb 1930

Vol. 33 No. 5

In Committee on Finance. - Vote No. 66—External Affairs (Resumed).

Yesterday evening I was dealing with some of the points raised by Deputies on the question of the appearance of the Irish delegation at the Tariff Truce Conference. Deputy Lemass quoted extracts from newspapers, and from these sought to draw conclusions rather difficult to follow. One time it seemed to me we had, contrary to his opinion of what was correct, decided to go there against the Truce. Another time, contrary to his opinion, we decided to go there to support the Truce. Another time, still contrary to his opinion, we went there not knowing whether we were going to support the Truce or to be against it. This was founded on three newspaper excerpts. In the first of these the political correspondent of an Irish newspaper said: "The Free State Government has not yet decided whether it will participate actively in the Conference." The word "actively" is to be noted.

In the second extract there was an account of an interview with myself in which I said—and there was a certain part of this which Deputy Lemass was unfortunate enough to leave out of his recital—"Any suggestion that the decision of Saorstát Eireann to take part in this Conference indicates a fresh orientation of the Government policy on the matter of trade barriers is very wide of the mark." That is surely precise enough to start with.

The newspaper says—not from me: "The statement was with reference to a comment in the ‘Financial Times' which suggested that our decision to take part in the Preliminary Conference to assemble at Geneva during the month might indicate that we were prepared to agree to a tariff truce for two or three years." In reference to that suggestion, it "might indicate that we were prepared" to do so. I said: "Any suggestion that the decision of Saorstát Eireann to take part in this Conference indicates a fresh orientation of the Government policy on the matter of trade barriers is very wide of the mark." The Deputy says he cannot understand what that means. I went on to enlarge on that: "A blunt proposal to mark time on tariffs is not acceptable to us." I said that our people would not be called exactly observers. Their main duty will be to watch the proceedings for my Department. I enlarged on that and said: "The question of a tariff truce is only one of many recommendations to be discussed at the Conference. The matter which interests us most and of which we approve is the proposal for an economic rapprochement with particular reference to the question of assisting countries which are mainly agricultural and which from various causes are undeveloped industrially." Surely that is a perfect description of the attitude to be adopted by anyone who knows things in this country as they exist, and when he knows that that country is to be fitted into a European mould where in Europe there is developing this very definite tendency against tariffs. I further said: "We anticipate that whatever results from the Preliminary Conference will be reviewed in the light of the larger recommendations of the World Economic Conference at the final Diplomatic Conference. As Professor O'Sullivan, Minister for Education, and I pointed out at the League of Nations Conference this year, our tariffs are organised on scientific lines, or, at least, much more scientifically than the tariff systems of many other countries. At present we are in a process of examining the whole problem and various industries have not yet been finally considered. In these circumstances we could not agree to a state of affairs which would stereotype our tariff system in its present state of development." Yet the Deputy is afraid that delegates who go over after that sort of statement are bound to commit this country to a lowering of tariff barriers.

Finally he quoted again, though not in full, the statement sent to the Secretary-General of the League of Nations announcing that the delegation from this country was going to take part in the proceedings. The terms of that are important. "The Government of the Irish Free State are anxious to examine how they can, conformably with the principles advocated by their delegates at the last session of the Assembly, co-operate to the fullest extent with other members of the League of Nations in economic disarmament. Accordingly, I am instructed by the Minister for External Affairs to state that my Government are prepared to appoint representatives at the proposed Tariff Truce Conference with a view to considering whether, having regard to the special conditions of countries industrially under-developed, a truce could be arranged in which the Irish Free State would find it possible to participate." The Deputy, if one is to get any line of policy from him, apparently was stronger on this line, that we should not have been there at all. We give a wrong impression of public opinion in this country, notwithstanding the interviews I have read, and the very definite communication to the Secretary-General of the League, that we are anxious to see how far we could co-operate. But that is limited by the words "conformably with the principles advocated by their delegates at the last session of the Assembly." Finally we said we were prepared to appoint representatives at the proposed Tariff Truce Conference with a view to considering whether, "having regard to the special conditions of countries industrially under-developed, a truce could be arranged in which the Irish Free State would find it possible to participate." I wonder has the Deputy viewed the state of Europe? Has he any idea of the varying policies there are in Europe, and that attempts are going to be made to reconcile them at this trade conference? Has he any idea that the main mover in this was the French and not the British delegation? The main representative of the nation moving most in the matter stated that no matter what would be the outcome of this conference there would be certain industries in France that would have to be protected, and that they would have reservations in regard to these, and almost the same statement was made by all the people who confessed themselves to be in principle in favour of the lowering of the tariff barriers.

At the World Economic Conference where this question was first brought up there was a model drawn up by a certain English one-time member of Parliament, showing in a particular form, the tariff barriers throughout Europe. He had all the countries there represented. How the particular figures he had were reduced to numbers I do not know. What his index figure was and how the scheme was laid out I do not know but on the back of this pamphlet, which was circulated around Geneva at the time the Conference sat, the countries were all given in the order of their tariff barriers. Out of 33 countries mentioned this country stood about fifth in the list. The list started with the untariffed countries. What do we find at that Conference? The countries most definitely in favour of stereotyping the present conditions and having a tariff truce were the countries that stood at the other end of that list, the countries represented by the figures 46 and 43, whereas we were represented by the figure corresponding to 12. Is it wise to stay away from a conference of that sort and let the whole issue go by default, to have ourselves represented as irrefragable, looked upon as people trying to stand against what is almost the unanimous European desire with regard to tariffs.

We found that there are quite a number of nations who are of the same mind as our own in this matter, and even nations that have the greatest drive towards the lowering of tariffs or the stereotyping of them had also reservations and provisos with regard to many of their main industries. Is it the proper thing to let your case go by default or to stand and make your case? Our representatives are not going to appear before the Committee as advocating something which is apparently in contrast to the European movement at the moment. Where the work done is getting your case pleaded through personal contact with delegates of other countries, getting people to appreciate the conditions under which your country exists and getting the European system moulded to allow for the fuller development of other countries at present not industrially developed, the Deputy cannot speak with any appreciation of the proceedings unless he has steeped himself in the proceedings of the World Economic Conference or appreciated at least the position of certain countries which said that certain terms would have to be made for these countries, and that special consideration would have to be given to the backward state of agriculture even in the main agricultural countries of Europe.

Now this has become an important matter. It is worth while going into it in detail. I spoke last night in summary on points that happened in the Assembly of this year. The resolution on which the present Conference was founded was something, at any rate, whether for good or bad. The presence of an Irish delegation at the last Assembly was something for good or bad. The main resolution presented to the Assembly last year was sent to the second Commission of the League. The Minister for Education was the Irish representative on that Commission, and when this resolution came forward he adverted to it in the following way: The resolution was then framed in different terms from what it is now. Professor O'Sullivan queried the phraseology used in the first resolution, and asked what was the relation between the two ideas as expressed in two paragraphs. He asked "was paragraph 5 the principal and necessary condition of paragraph 4. In other words, would it be necessary, in order to be admitted to the Conference of Governments, for them to have undertaken to conclude an economic truce? To his mind, the drafting as it now stood demanded this interpretation. If such were the case the speaker would presently draw his conclusions, but if, on the contrary, paragraph 4 was the most important he considered that it would be necessary to revise the drafting of the resolution. He believed that by excluding certain Governments from a Conference called by the League of Nations the latter would be making a barrier between nations whose economic situation was good and other nations which, by reason of their economic situation, could not pledge themselves to an economic armistice. The speaker could not associate himself with any resolution which would exclude such nations, because such a resolution would not only fail to be progressive, but would be a step in the wrong direction." But the speaker pointed out that his Government "could not adhere to paragraph 6 of the resolution. The Customs Tariffs Committee of his country had, it was true, received a great number of proposals and tariff regulations and the Government would be obliged to apply the latter if the Committee gave them their approval. Ireland could not therefore adhere to the Customs truce as the Government did not wish in such a matter to tie the hands of its successors."

That was the only part of the discussion which took place when the motion first came before the Committee. In the end, to get the matter clarified, because there was considerable doubt as to what these two paragraphs to which Professor O'Sullivan had drawn attention meant and what was the reaction between the two of them, Professor O'Sullivan brought forward the following resolution. He said: "He was of opinion that the report did not sufficiently take into account the objections raised by the delegations of countries with under-developed industries. The Committee had definitely admitted the differences in the point of view between the delegations of these countries and the others. He drew attention to the inadequacy in the drafting of the report on pages 4, 20 and 21, and proposed that the Drafting Committee should meet to modify the text on page 4." He also proposed the following amendment. This is what I really want to draw attention to. The amendment proposed by Professor O'Sullivan was to this effect: Following on the line of the previous paragraph, it "Recommends that negotiations should be begun between such members of the League of Nations and non-member States as may desire to participate therein with a view to promoting, at the earliest possible date, a meeting which would be convened by the Council to frame a first collective agreement for developing and facilitating economic relations by all practicable means, and especially by lowering excessive tariffs (instead of ‘Customs barriers') and reducing other hindrances to trade, while taking account of the provisos and reservations necessary to meet the just demands of States which are still at an early stage of their industrial evolution, and do not wish their freedom of development to be hampered."

A later paragraph reads:

"In order that the preparatory work and the negotiations themselves should be pursued on a firm basis and in an atmosphere of confidence it also recommends that States which are prepared to participate therein, other than States which are at an early stage of their industrial evolution, should agree not to increase their protective tariffs above the present level...."

That formulates not merely our case but the case for a considerable number of other countries in Europe who feel themselves to be in the same position as ourselves. An amendment which put in the phrase "lowering excessive tariffs," instead of the phrase which was formerly in, "removing Customs barriers," was put in at the instance of the Professor and in this proposed amendment the phrase from the World Economic Conference Report did not go against tariffs but against excessive tariffs, and when they went to recount what they meant by excessive tariffs they spoke particularly about tariffs put on for bargaining purposes between the nations in mid-Europe and tariffs more or less of the retaliation type. These were the tariffs specially aimed at, while no doubt there was an atmosphere that tariffs generally were a hindrance to international trade. However, this resolution was proposed and we drew attention in that phrase to the situation in our country and to that in other countries. Again, this is a quotation of the World Economic Conference Report: "The just demand of States which are still at an early stage of their industrial evolution and do not wish their freedom of development to be hampered." Portion of that is again from the Economic Conference Report and it drew that whole resolution which had been distorted and warped in the Economic Conference back to what they had before them. That almost broke up the second Conference—the bringing forward of that resolution.

In the end that resolution was sent down to the Drafting Committee and at that Committee there was a smaller number of nations represented than at the main Committee, in which all the nations represented at last year's assembly took part. In the closer association of the Committee a resolution was formulated and passed and emerged from the Committee, and that resolution is now before the people at Geneva and is being discussed as a basis for negotiation. The agreement reached and the modifications made amounted to this: that countries that wanted to get freer development, as between limited groups of themselves, might agree to stereotyped tariff barriers as they were at the moment and so, having to sterotype them, they would get a certain atmosphere and go on to reduce them; further, that there should be a Conference called to see what kind of Customs duties should be entered into and that later, following on that, there might be negotiation between the States interested and who showed their interest by signing that tariff truce to develop in other ways freedom of trade between themselves, to cut down barriers, or to prevent economic aggression between that group. They were to pursue negotiations leading to these things, but the big thing that was determined at the instance of the States for whom that resolution spoke—nations mainly agricultural and necessarily so, and nations mainly agricultural but not necessarily remaining so and with their industrial position necessarily backward—was that it was finally added on to what was previously agreed, that before anything was done with the imprimatur of the League there should be a diplomatic conference of all the States called and that whatever emerged from the previous conference would be discussed before anything final was determined. That, to my mind, shows how Geneva works and shows the benefit of paying attention to Geneva. It also reveals the danger of closing our eyes to Geneva, and simply remaining here at home and saying that we are going to stop at home, shut ourselves up into a pocket, have no connection with the outside world, and are going to pursue our own policy.

We cannot close our eyes to what is going on in Europe, and we certainly cannot close our eyes to a movement which has such force and power behind it, and which, to anyone acquainted with the situation in Central Europe, is so necessary for this scheme in regard to tariff barriers. How are we to negotiate trade treaties with foreign countries? Are we going to remain at home, simply saying that we are determined on economic development inside the country and that we are indifferent to what happens outside? Are we going to get our position made clear and have our position met with a more sympathetic response when we come to negotiate trade treaties with other countries who are interested in the dropping of trade barriers to the development of trade more freely between nations? Will we get ourselves better understood by staying here and adopting a sulky attitude, saying that we do not care what happens, or by playing our part in negotiations and seeing if we can negotiate commercial treaties? I think it should be clear to anyone who studies trade reports that if it was only for the preservation of the trade of one firm in the country, the Ford firm in Cork, it is necessary that we should negotiate in this way.

We have a tariff policy here, a tariff policy that, owing to the incidence of burdens it may put on the consuming population and owing to the fact that that consuming population is much too poor at the moment, has to be spaced out year by year, but is a progressive tariff policy. It is a tariff policy that is going to progress until every industry that likes to make application has that application adjudged by the Tariff Commission, or is an item to be taken out to be treated specially apart from the Tariff Commission, as were the sugar beet and some other matters. That is our situation at home. Can we say that we will pay attention only to the home market and let everything else go? We can close down Fords and try to get the 5,000 workers employed there employed elsewhere. Remember that that particular concern depends almost entirely on its export trade, and gives occupation at the moment to one-third as many men as all the tariffs we have put on have brought into extra employment. It is no light thing to come to a decision which might mean the disappearance of Fords and the employment they give in the country.

Will the Minister say whether the country which does most business with Fords is a member of the League of Nations?

If I am to take Fords business, from the suggestions they make to me with regard to trade treaties, they do business with pretty well every country in Europe. That is the situation, at any rate, that presents itself. I think the only policy is to explain the point of view. It is not necessarily because we have a certain tariff policy and because there is a drive against tariff policies in Europe that we should allow ourselves to be boycotted and become a pariah amongst European nations. We might easily be that if we took up the peculiar attitude of staying at home because we might be afraid of what our delegates might do at such conferences. Delegates going to these conferences have very definite instructions of what they should do. Delegates, particularly Departmental delegates, pursue a policy which is dictated to them by Government policy. There is no justification for anybody having any suspicion that people whom we send out at this stage of the country's development, and particularly sent out by a Government which has tariffed one-third of its imports, and more than fifty per cent. of the tariffable imports of this country, will take any steps that would mean a reversal of engine from that particular point of view and impede the development of industry in the country itself. In the end, that resolution went, as I say, to the Assembly in this form and was passed by the Assembly, that there is to be an invitation to certain States soon as to whether they desire to participate in the Diplomatic Conference or not. Then a conference is to be convened and from that there will emerge negotiations to initiate a truce and, if and when a truce is called, a final Diplomatic Conference will be held. Is it unlikely or is it impossible that there would emerge from Geneva at this point such proposals for a Customs Truce that we, being a tariff Government, could not entertain? If I take the varying opinions that were expressed at Geneva, when the motion was being proposed there, it seems to me that there are going to be many provisos, and that if it is going to be made rigid, a small number of States will take part.

Deputies who follow the Press of other countries will realise that there is hardly a country represented at that Conference in which there has not been a movement of a pro-tariff type. Immediately on the bringing forward of this resolution with regard to the breaking down of tariff barriers, France had many conferences, for instance, of businessmen and industrialists at which French representatives were warned not to entertain proposals of a tariff truce of a rigid type for two years. Britain has had them and other countries through Europe have had them, even the countries most forward in proposing a tariff truce, with the exception of Belgium and Czecho-Slovakia. While there is a big volume of public opinion not objecting to delegates going to conferences such as this, the idea is that the delegates should be instructed that many of their industries call for continued protection and that they would have no interference with these industries.

I look forward with interest to see what emerges from the Conference and to see what will be the exact terms of the proposed truce, whether it is rigid or whether there will be a number of reservations by the nations who will sign the Customs Truce for two years. Even if a number of nations do that our policy would be determined by ourselves, but it will have to be determined with some appreciation of the problems of other countries and how far our trade will inter-act with these problems. After we come to a decision, the final Diplomatic Conference has to meet. If I were to quote the points I made at the Assembly this year in connection with this matter it might be of interest to Deputies:

I said:

"We have little quarrel with that Report or with the excellent statements on economic matters made here by the statesmen of the greatest countries in Europe. But we are anxious that the economic organisations should move forward to action, so that from their approach to and handling of concrete cases, we may understand their method of discriminating between the industrially advanced and the industrially backward countries, and observe if a difference is recognised, and marked in subsequent recommendations, between bargaining, retaliatory and purely protective tariffs. We are anxious to see, what practice alone may show, if the only aim is to secure the removal of those artificial props which are said to bolster up industries in countries unsuited to them, without some investigation first of all being made to discover what other industries are fitted to take their place. We should be slow to think that the assumption will be acted upon that there is none such, and that some countries will be compelled more and more to rely on agriculture, the present depressed state of which is deplored without any effective remedy being suggested or even sought. And if the protective tariff as a weapon of defence is going to be taken away or even limited in use, it will be of vital importance to know how the League on its economic side will react to the various means by which nations promote economic aggression—the system of bounties, the manipulation of shipping freights, the organisation of international cartels, the control of capital and the provision or denial of credit."

In addition to that, there is the question of the free movement of peoples as a necessary corollary to allowing industry and commerce to follow their own course. That is the case that we made at various committees of the League itself and those are the main ideas put forward as representing this country. That was what was referred to in the letter to the Secretary-General of the League when we announced that we were sending delegates:

"The Government of the Irish Free State are anxious to examine how they can, conformably with the principles advocated by their delegates at the last session of the Assembly, co-operate to the fullest extent with other members of the League of Nations in economic disarmament."

Can anybody fail to understand what is meant by that? Can anybody take out of it that we are going to agree to a rigid proposal, that as from 1st October last no further tariffs shall be put in force in this country, and that any tariffs we have should have their amounts raised or that they should be modified in any way?

"Accordingly, I am instructed by the Minister for External Affairs to say that my Government are prepared to appoint representatives at the proposed Tariff Truce Conference with a view to considering whether, having regard to the special conditions of countries industrially underdeveloped, a truce could be arranged in which the Irish Free State would find it possible to participate."

I do not know whether there was any doubt in regard to the attitude before, but that doubt could not have existed if people followed even what the Press gave of the discussions and the reports of speeches made at Geneva last September or October. Is there any doubt now, either as to the trend of public opinion as understood by the Government or in regard to Government action at the Conference? Is there a better appreciation now of the delicate situation there is in a country which has not industrial development as far forward as it should be, where protective measures are being put into force and are to continue to operate, but, nevertheless, a country which has an export trade of some value, and where that export trade has to be safeguarded against venomous or retaliatory tactics of other nations who would certainly construe our absence from the Conference in a particular way? If we stayed away from the Conference we would be the only European State not taking part with the exception of Albania. Is it believed by the Opposition that, except Albania, all the nations of Europe are in favour of lowering tariff barriers, or are in favour of a tariff truce for two years? If they do believe that, do they believe that we would be wise to stay away and to let our case go by default? Should we not enter into the Conference, listen to the details of the proposals, and after listening and learning what modifications could be made to make it more acceptable to our point of view, and after giving our reasons, either accept the tariff truce or abandon it?

I have gone into some details because this is the most important matter that has been raised on this whole discussion. I would like to get other oportunities of discussing what has been done by the Department of External Affairs or by its representatives. We will get an opportunity later of two special items. Complaint has been made that the Department never gives reports out on its own initiative. That complaint comes from the same Deputy who also complained last year that reports were not issued and who was not aware that the reports about which he was complaining were in the Library.

Is the Minister again attempting to create the same false impression which he created last year when he stated that reports were in the Library which were not Tabled?

The Deputy complained that there was no information given. If he took any pains at all he would know. He simply went to see had reports been Tabled and did not inquire in the Library for them. On another occasion he sent a follower into the Library who brought back inaccurate information. He brought back a report dealing with the year 1923 and gave it as a report for 1925, although the printer's mark showed that it was for 1923. The Library is for the information of Deputies and the reports were there and all the Deputy had to do was to ask for them.

In other words they were slipped surreptitiously into the Library.

Slipped surreptitiously is properly applied if the Deputy means that there was no sort of torchlight procession and that there was no parade, no clash of cymbals, when they were put there.

May I draw the Minister's attention to an order concerning shellfish layings in the counties of Louth and Meath? That order is being laid upon the Table and it is now in the Library. Information as to that fact is on the Order Paper to-day. Surely if a matter such as shellfish layings is considered sufficiently important to be notified in that way to Deputies, some similar notification ought to be given concerning the highly-important matter of the action of the delegates to the League of Nations. It certainly is at least as important as an order concerning shellfish layings and I think Deputies should be notified in the same way.

Certainly. I am not saying that they should not, but what I want to call attention to is that last year the Deputy indicated that he had not certain information when, in fact, that information was at his hand. The complaint is made this year that we had not supplied reports. I have promised to give reports to Deputies and I have promised that reports relating to the actions of delegates to the League of Nations Assembly and to the International Labour Conference would be left in the Library, would be sent to Deputies or would be laid upon the Table—whatever the appropriate form would be. Those reports are not going to be surreptitiously put anywhere. I do not know what else the Deputy wants, or if there is any particular desire of his that is not fulfilled.

I will give the Minister another example. A communication to the Secretary-General of the League of Nations concerning the Tariff Truce was in part published in the "Irish Independent." It was never laid upon the Table of the Dáil nor was it communicated to Deputies. Are we to take it that such documents of that kind are always to be communicated to the political correspondent of the "Irish Independent" and not to Deputies?

No. There may be occasions when it is in the public interest to communicate those matters to the Press and there are times when the papers require it; but the appropriate time both for this discussion and for the public announcement of the terms on which the invitation was accepted would come when the report of these delegates is issued and when the result of the Conference is being announced to Deputies in the House. I think that Deputy Lemass is always too eager to get material for the next Sunday's meeting and, consequently, I assume he had to jump in on this. Deputies were too ready to rush to the conclusion that because we decided to attend the Conference we were about to tear up the whole tariff system of the country. But it was essential that Deputy Lemass should have material for the next Sunday's debate, and so we had this rush in and all the suspicion and hostility excited about people going to the Conference. Surely if the Deputy had any earnest desire for this information he could have asked what were the terms upon which our delegates went to the Conference. It was wise, however, not to seek the information until he got the Sunday meeting over. There is always an appropriate time for these things to be presented to the House and to be placed in the Library. The time would be most appropriate when the report of the Conference has been received and when the results achieved are before us.

This is the first report since 1922 that has been Tabled by the Department of External Affairs and undoubtedly the Minister is entitled to crow over it.

The Deputy is again making a fine point as between laying the information on the Table and placing the material in the Library. I might say that there is an amount of information in the Library which would greatly enlighten the Deputy if he would but sit there and study instead of merely going round to meetings.

That would be bad for your Party.

The absence of the speeches might, but not the application to study.

You would have nothing to hang on to without the speeches.

Is there anything at the moment that Deputies feel is being withheld from them?

I would like to know whether reports are available from the commercial representatives of the Free State in other countries. Have the representatives who are referred to in this Vote charge of the commercial business of the Free State in other countries? In what way can Deputies gain access to such reports as will enlighten them on the labours of these gentlemen?

Speaking last year on the Vote I said, with regard to the offices generally, that there is no great difference between the commercial and the other offices except that a great deal more information can be given than on the other side, much of which is confidential. I said I would have to arrange time for the commercial representatives. Deputies will understand that there has been a big reorganisation of all the offices. Part of it is completed and part is still to come. The full year has not yet elapsed and I have promised that I will have all these reports, but it will take time.

Is not the trade representative in New York a sufficiently long time there to enable the Department to produce some kind of report?

He can produce reports extending over a period of years, but I do not consider that is of great value at the moment. I said before that we would proceed in yearly steps and have reports from time to time. As the Deputy is aware, there has been a change in the New York office and necessarily it takes time for a man to settle down. Questions were raised on this Vote and it looked as if there was some information that Deputies felt was being withheld from them. I would like to know if there is anything of that nature that I could now attend to.

I would be quite satisfied if we could be certain that the political correspondent of the "Irish Independent" is the recognised official channel for communicating information to the public.

I might say on that point that the Deputy had no hesitation in quoting as an authoritative statement what the political correspondent of the "Independent" said.

I take it that I was correct in so doing.

The Deputy can take it that he was, as usual, blundering. It was quite wrong. If there is any information published with official sanction or any information resulting from an interview with me, the Deputy may take that as authoritative, and if he sees anything in the paper which purports to be a statement of what was in a document he may take that as authoritative; but he must not take all the rumours written around by a political correspondent, in a manner similar to what is done by political correspondents in every country in the world, as authoritative.

The Minister referred to the fact that certain reports had been published in various papers and he told us yesterday that we ought to have read those papers in the ordinary course so that we might be informed. To-day he finds fault with Deputies using information which they have got in the newspapers. At least the Minister should have the same state of mind on that matter.

I have not complained. I am only stating that Deputy Lemass quoted from the political correspondent of the "Independent." I think it was quite wrong for him to have done that. He made a statement based on what was written by the political correspondent. It is a different matter when there is an authoritative statement made by the Minister to the same political correspondent or if there are quotations from an official document handed to the political correspondent. I do not at all object to the papers being taken as the ordinary medium for information in the country, but I do object to a statement made on the authority of a political correspondent and to quotations being made from that statement as against the authoritative statements made by the Minister.

The Minister has used the League of Nations Report issued two days ago. I understood we were not going to discuss the League of Nations on this matter. I would remind the Minister that the Minister for Education in a lecture on the League of Nations stated specifically that the Free State were not going to the Tariff Conference. The Minister now goes to great length telling us why they are going to the Conference. The Minister for Education said they were not going to the Tariff Truce Conference.

What did he say —that they were not going to a Tariff Truce or a Tariff Conference?

A Tariff Truce.

Will the Deputy be precise? Does he know what the Minister said?

Yes; I read the statement in the "Irish Times," which contained a report of the Minister's speech. Does the Minister now find fault with that? I am quite certain that the Minister for Education stated particularly that they were not going to send delegates to the Tariff Truce Conference.

The Minister did not state that. That statement was never made by him. The statement was that we were not going to enter into a tariff truce. The statement was made that we were going to send delegates to the Tariff Truce Conference.

If the Minister for Education has said that we were not going into a tariff truce, surely it seems to be a stupid piece of conduct to go into a conference about a tariff truce to which you are not going to agree. In view of the speech which the Minister for External Affairs has made disposing of the possibility of any truce being arrived at in the matter of tariffs, why waste time by going to the Conference at all?

There is no good in talking to the Deputy or of explaining a matter to him. The Deputy is still, after my very detailed explanation, under a wrong impression and I find I have failed absolutely to make any impression upon him, or to convince him by the facts I have placed before him.

The reply generally is unconvincing.

I am glad the Minister admits he has failed.

Does that include all the Fianna Fáil Party?

We are all too dense.

Apparently the Deputy would rather be in that particularly blissful state of mind on this matter so as to have the material he wanted for his Sunday meetings.

If the Minister has a big case why not make that case and argue it instead of discussing footy points about whether Deputy Lemass should have gone to the Library or not, for these reports?

This point about Deputy Lemass going to the Library is the tail end of a three-quarter hour discussion on material points.

Oh, you are all right. You get a good Press.

Whether Deputy Lemass goes to the Library or not is a matter of little concern to me, or whether Deputy Derrig is able to read accurately what the Minister for Education said is a matter of indifference also. What I want to know now is—is there any information which Deputy Lemass wants at the moment and which he thinks is in my possession and which he thinks ought to be produced but which has not been produced with regard to this Tariff Truce Conference, or is there any matter concerned with this Estimate on which he requires further information?

Does the Minister want to know if I want information concerning the activities of the Department of External Affairs?

No, but the Deputy said that certain information was not given and I want to know what that information is.

My complaint was that the only method of getting information in this House from the Department of External Affairs was by question or criticism or by some process of extraction. We never got any information on the initiative of the Department until two days ago. For the first time since the Department was formed, we got information sent round two days ago.

Two years ago, and last year.

The Minister laid great stress on the fact that one industry in the country had benefited by exports and I asked him if the country to which most of the exports were sent was not a member of the League of Nations. He said we exported practically to every country in Europe. I would like to know what proportion of the exports went to any other country but the one not a member of the League of Nations?

Not a very big proportion.

I would be surprised if a big proportion—more than 10 per cent.—went to any other place except Russia.

South America.

That is not in Europe anyhow. There were no reports available from these trade delegations as to the results of the activities of these representatives that we have in Europe. As to the American trade delegation, we are told that there has been a change there, but the other man was there for a number of years and there should be something from him. The one material result that has accrued to this country in the way of foreign exports has accrued from a country which has not been and will not be a member of the League of Nations at all.

Could the Deputy give us any figures in regard to Russia?

No, but I saw a statement in the papers that about three-fourths of our exports of tractors went to Russia. I have no figures.

Perhaps Deputy Boland will ask Deputy Cooney for that information?

Perhaps Deputy Davin does not want us to send tractors there at all. I am told that there was only one country in Europe, Albania——

That is where a Fianna Fáil Government is in power.

Mr. Boland

I would like to know where is that country now, Albania. If it is not in Europe it is wiped off the map altogether.

I never said Albania was not in Europe.

You said it was not in the League of Nations.

I said that of all European countries members of the League of Nations Albania alone was not attending the Tariff Truce Conference.

That is another qualification.

I mentioned Fords as one example. But we have other exports. I wonder what would the woollen industry say if we were to intermeddle in external affairs so that our action would result in closing down exports of woollens to the Continent, or what would Messrs. Jacob say if we decided that we would have no relations with the Conference? I wonder what would any of our exporters say if, by our meddling in a funny way with the nations of Europe, we got those nations to raise tariff barriers against us?

Is the Minister implying that a continuance of the export trade of this country depends upon our accepting the Tariff Truce?

No, I have never said that. I said that we have a delicate situation to meet. We have our export trade to safeguard and we have a tariff policy here. We would have a better chance of securing both our aims by going to the Tariff Truce Conference. In that way, we could make our aims clearer than by sitting at home and saying that we are not in favour of tariffs and that we will build up tariff barriers here to any height. I say that our going to the Conference gives us a better chance of achieving our aims than by not being represented there.

Does the Minister think that though we did not achieve a treaty with France we are to join in the economic programme of the other States of Europe?

Has the Minister concluded his speech?

There is just one question I want to put to the Minister. Is it not a fact that the Minister has failed to achieve a commercial treaty with France?

That is not a fact.

Well, we have to depend on the newspapers for our information on it.

Would the Minister tell us if a commercial treaty has been negotiated with France?

We are getting the benefit of a tariff arrangement with France.

Is the Minister aware that South Africa, which sends fruit to Europe and is on the same footing as Ireland, is not sending delegates to this Conference?

I thought I had made the position perfectly clear that this thing was mainly a European matter and South Africa said that in that matter they were pretty well indifferent. I am not arguing as to whether that was wise or not, but that is what they said.

Would not that suggestion hold good for Ireland? It is entirely a question of where your market is. That is your argument.

Then the Deputy holds that, like South Africa, we should be indifferent to it.

That knocks the bottom out of the arguments the Minister used yesterday.

The Minister, speaking in the League Assembly, criticised the other State members because of their failure to ratify conventions signed by their delegates. The Minister stated it was his intention to submit for ratification to the Dáil during this session a number of conventions signed by the Free State delegates. Would he also tell us what exactly the programme of his Department in that respect is for the remaining portion of this session?

There will be at least nine, and possibly fifteen, of these brought forward for ratification one of these days.

Is not each convention separate?

Would the Minister say whether he has received representations from either the British Government or the All-Indian Congress Party respecting the situation in India? If so, would he state the terms of his reply, and inform the House what the attitude of the Government is with regard to the demand for the complete independence of India?

And would the Minister also state if he was consulted by the British Government with respect to the situation in India or in Egypt?

Not consulted.

Would the Minister say if he was informed by the British Government of its intentions with respect to the situation in India or in Egypt?

I had certain information with regard to both countries.

Will the Minister lay that information on the Table of the House?

Decidedly not.

Would it be right to say that the Minister received orders?

Vote put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 73; Níl, 44.

  • Aird, William P.
  • Alton, Ernest Henry.
  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Blythe, Ernest.
  • Bourke, Séamus A.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Broderick, Henry.
  • Broderick, Seán.
  • Byrne, John Joseph.
  • Carey, Edmund.
  • Cole, John James.
  • Collins-O'Driscoll, Mrs. Margt.
  • Conlon, Martin.
  • Connolly, Michael P.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Daly, John.
  • Davin, William.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Doherty, Eugene.
  • Dolan, James N.
  • Doyle, Edward.
  • Doyle, Peadar Seán.
  • Duggan, Edmund John.
  • Dwyer, James.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Thos. Grattan.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Good, John.
  • Gorey, Denis J.
  • Hassett, John J.
  • Heffernan, Michael R.
  • Hennessy, Michael Joseph.
  • Hennessy, Thomas.
  • Hennigan, John.
  • Henry, Mark.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Jordan, Michael.
  • Law, Hugh Alexander.
  • Leonard, Patrick.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • Mathews, Arthur Patrick.
  • McDonogh, Martin.
  • MacEóin, Seán.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • Mongan, Joseph W.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James E.
  • Murphy, Joseph Xavier.
  • Myles, James Sproule.
  • Nolan, John Thomas.
  • O'Connell, Richard.
  • O'Connell, Thomas J.
  • O'Connor, Bartholomew.
  • O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Mahony, Dermot Gun.
  • O'Reilly, John J.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Reynolds, Patrick.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Shaw, Patrick W.
  • Sheehy, Timothy (West Cork).
  • Thrift, William Edward.
  • Tierney, Michael.
  • Vaughan, Daniel.
  • White, Vincent Joseph.
  • Wolfe, George.
  • Wolfe, Jasper Travers.


  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Patrick.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Buckley, Daniel.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Colbert, James.
  • Cooney, Eamon.
  • Corkery, Dan.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • Fahy, Frank.
  • O'Kelly, Seán T.
  • O'Leary, William.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Powell, Thomas P.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • French, Seán.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Kerlin, Frank.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Mullin, Thomas.
  • O'Dowd, Patrick Joseph.
  • Sheehy, Timothy (Tipperary)
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Tubridy, John.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Duggan and P.S. Doyle; Níl, Deputies G. Boland and Allen.
Question declared carried.