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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 5 Mar 1930

Vol. 33 No. 10

Private Deputies' Business. - Oireachtas (Payment of Members) (No. 2) Bill, 1928—Second Stage (Resumed).

On the last day that this debate was on, I was dealing with the speech made by Deputy Flinn apropos of this Bill. I adverted to his comments upon certain Senators and whether they were worth the salaries that were paid to them, or, indeed, the salaries that were suggested to them by Deputy Thrift's proposal.

I had called some attention to what I thought was the record of certain Senators who had served the State in the Seanad in comparison with what we know of Deputy Flinn, and of what his services have been to this State. Following what the Minister for Agriculture had said, I also referred to the change we had noticed with regard to Fianna Fáil Deputies in this matter of payments. We find Deputy Lemass on the Joint Committee putting forward this resolution:

That the Committee is of opinion that the duties attaching to membership of the Seanad do not necessitate the payment of an allowance equal to that paid to members of the Dáil; and also that the existing economic circumstances of the State do not permit of any increase in the allowance paid to members of the Dáil.

It seems to me that there is the implication there that, in other economic circumstances, Deputy Lemass would have been in favour of a higher allowance for members of the Dáil. Deputy Lemass, with other members of the Joint Committee, is in favour of charging against the State "full facilities for travel in all parts of the Saorstát for Deputies and Senators." I was contrasting the attitude of Deputy Lemass on this question of charges against the State in relation to Deputies' allowances of £360 and Deputies'other allowances in the matter of free travelling facilities——

Might I correct the Minister in two particulars? The Minister is seeking to imply that I proposed that, in certain circumstances, Deputies' allowances should be increased. I did not. In the second place, the Committee expressed the opinion that these travelling facilities could be obtained at a cost that would not exceed the cost of the present facilities provided.

The Deputy proposed a resolution which contained this phrase: "That the existing economic circumstances of the State do not permit of any increase in the allowance paid to members of the Dáil." There is the definite implication there that, in other economic circumstances, the Deputy would be seeking a larger allowance for Deputies. Further, the Deputy voted for, and had carried, this:

That the Committee considers that a system of providing railway facilities for Deputies and Senators so far in operation has been unsatisfactory, both from the point of view of Deputies and Senators, and of the cost to the State, and that the State should take up with the railway companies the possibility of providing full facilities for travel in all parts of the Saorstát at the minimum real cost, irrespective of the railway companies' existing scheduled charges.

A very good proposition. Give us more travelling facilities and let the railway companies bear the brunt of it. The Deputy cases his conscience by that. The cost to the State should not be any more. Somebody else should bear it, throw the cost on to somebody else, with a lot more trouble hereafter in regard to transport services in the State. But, in spite of that, Deputy Lemass wants further travelling facilities.

And the Minister's Party.

Certainly. We have never had any doubts on that. We have always held the view that the £360, plus free travelling facilities, was nothing extravagant to pay Deputies, but that was not the point of view that the Deputy's Party had. They had a completely different point of view. They have now come to this: in other economic circumstances we would want more money, and we do now, no matter what the economic circumstances of the country are, want more travelling allowances. That, I say, is completely in contrast to what Deputies opposite had previously said.

Can the Minister produce quotations to prove what we previously said?

I alluded on the last day to a statement made at a meeting in Carlow-Kilkenny.

In the Minister's hearing?

And not reported in the Press?

I stated that I did not know whether it was reported or not. Does the Deputy think that the statements were not made?

The Deputy thinks that? Well, I have since discovered the quotation. Deputy Brady is reported in the Press as having said——

What Press?

In the "Irish Independent" for the 31st of October. This statement was made at a meeting in connection with the Carlow-Kilkenny election, at a date when the Fianna Fáil Party had been in here for some time. Deputy Brady is reported to have said that when the Fianna Fáil Party went into the Dáil the first thing they did was to try to reduce their own salaries. Speaking afterwards, at a meeting in the same place, I characterised the Deputy's statement as a lie. The Deputy made some other statements that were equally true. On the last day here I was wrong, and must apologise to Deputy Killilea for ascribing that statement to him as well as Deputy Brady at the Carlow-Kilkenny meeting. Deputy Killilea was present at the meeting, but his contribution is passed off by the newspaper with this comment, that "Mr. Killilea, T.D., also spoke." What he said is not reported. My memory is that he went over the same ground and said exactly the same things as Deputy Brady. I also referred to the self-denying ordinance——

May we take it that the report in the "Independent" is the basis for the Minister's statement, that it was the policy of this Party to reduce Deputies allowances?

May we take it, then, that the Minister has got more quotations?

I give that quotation as the type of statement a Deputy makes when he gets loose before a cross-roads audience in the country—before an audience where he could not be criticised or queried as to day and date. Deputy Brady made the statement that the first thing the Fianna Fáil Party had done—he made the claim that they had done this—was to try to reduce their own salaries.

I want to get the Minister back to what he said—that Fianna Fáil Deputies have repeatedly stated that the policy of this Party was to reduce Deputies' allowances.

I never said that. I said that Deputy Brady had made that claim at a meeting in my hearing. I want to say further that when Deputy Briscoe was challenged one night at a cross-roads meeting in which he talked about salaries, as people did in those days, a cynical voice in the crowd asked: "What about your own salary." He replied to that by saying that "The Fianna Fáil members are not going to take salaries."

That is not correct.

That was also reported in the Press. I will read the Deputy everything. This is what appeared: "A voice from the crowd —‘How much do you want yourself?' Mr. Briscoe—Fianna Fáil is not going to take their salaries.'"

May I point out to the Minister that that statement was contradicted by Mr. Briscoe in a letter published in the next day's issue of the paper.

I have it here; I will give you Deputy Briscoe's ipsissima verba. "They did not seek election for self-gain or to secure a salary of £360 a year. The policy of Fianna Fáil with regard to these allowances was to pool the whole lot into one common purse out of which those who required it would be paid to enable them to carry on their public duties. The surplus would be used for National purposes or for helping to alleviate distress in the constituencies." I think that was a pretty thorough-going repudiation on this question of salaries from Fianna Fáil. When Deputies were challenged about that statement in the House we were told that out of the fund that had been built up from the surplus that Fianna Fáil Deputies did not take there had already been allocated—this was in November, 1927, and not bad for two months after Deputy Briscoe had made that statement—for the relief of public assistance a sum of £107. I ask how much more has been allocated since.

And there was an offer made.

Yes, an offer made which had nothing to do with the question of whether the Fianna Fáil people wanted their salaries or not.

We will publish the accounts on the conditions stated.

As far as the Fianna Fáil people are concerned, and with regard to what Deputy Briscoe and Deputy Brady said at cross-roads meetings, they are either going to be repudiated, or else there is going to be a veil cast over the question of what is being done with that money. I suggest, at any rate, that Deputies ought to know what the country is expecting from them. They expect that a whole lot more has been allocated to public assistance, because now a considerable number of Fianna Fáil Senators have, since those statements were made, been sent to the Seanad by a Party which believes that the Seanad is no good as at present constituted, and that it is only costing money and is a waste of time.

There must be a tremendous amount of money pouring into that fund. We know from Deputies opposite that there is a tremendous amount of distress in the country, and there must have been a tremendous amount of money spent in the alleviation of that distress, and they should not be ashamed to let what they have done be known. We have heard a lot about Ministers' salaries which was not relevant to this debate. There is in Fianna Fáil a Senator who, in 1928, was getting more from public funds than the salary of any Minister. There was a man who was getting a salary from an undertaking which is financed by Government money, and he asked for an increase, though he was over the £1,000 a year mark. I am not sure whether the enthusiasm with regard to the £1,000 a year mark which was set up by Fianna Fáil as the high water mark of salaries in the early days has also waned.

We are dealing with the question of allowances to Senators. References to the allowances of Deputies as Deputies and Senators as Senators are quite relevant, but anything outside that is not.

On a point of order, I submit that we are dealing with my bank book.

Fortunately, we are not. We are dealing with the question of Senators' allowances. There is no question of salaries arising out of this at all.

It is difficult to recognise that.

I cannot help the Deputy's difficulty.

Is it in order in the debate to refer to the addition which £360 a year makes to what a Senator already has?

I am afraid that part of my speech must be left aside for the moment. There will be other opportunities of discussing what additions to £360 a year certain Fianna Fáil Senators get, and we will see how far they are in line with their own statements about £1,000 a year, and the £360 being more than adequate, and also whether or not the Seanad is an evil Assembly in which nobody does any work and for which no conscientious person should consequently receive any pay.

Deputy Lemass said, speaking in the debate, that there was one thing notable about the whole Committee, and that was that the Seanad as a whole, irrespective of Party, plumped for themselves; they wanted all they could get out of it. Deputy Lemass only halts at one point. Senator Moore, for instance, wants postage and further travelling expenses, and he certainly wants that his salary should not be reduced. Deputy Lemass does not want Deputies' salaries reduced, and he wants further travelling expenses, but he is against Senator Moore on the question of franked envelopes. That is the one point upon which Deputy Lemass differs from Senator Moore, and this at the end of the campaign that people were being paid too much, and that the salaries of these people were to be paid into a common pool and paid out to those who required it to enable them to carry on their public duties.

I am against the proposal to reduce Senators' allowances from £360 to £200 for one simple reason. I would put the minimum salary of any person going into the Seanad as the amount people would think adequate to pay that man for leaving any other work he happened to be at, and even in the case of the lowest paid man in the State who would have the ambition to go into the Seanad, to enable him to do that £360 is not an extravagant sum. If other people can afford to go in at less money that is for themselves hereafter. They can decide what they will do with the money. The datum line we must fix should not be the lowest point, but a fair point, a point sufficiently high to tempt any man, a man of the working class, say, to leave what he is at and go into public life. If others get more pay that is their outlook, or it is for this House to determine what deductions are to be made, but if we are going to fix a figure as a minimum and then keep subtracting from the incomes of other people who have more than the minimum until we get to zero point for a man with independent means, I wonder whether the Dáil or the Seanad would welcome an approach to the problem on these lines? As long as you do not make that approach you must put your line at such a point as will bring in certain people who could not come in without it. We are aiming there at the working man. We are aiming at getting a certain type of man in who has nothing else to support him but what he receives in allowances. £360 is not extravagant, even if we are to take as true all that is said about the Seanad, the small number of meetings Senators have to attend, their light duties, and the fact that they have no constituencies to go around.

I do not believe a Senator's or Deputy's work is to be gauged with any accuracy from the number of meetings of the Dáil or Seanad, or the number of Bills considered by the Dáil or Seanad. The Seanad is in the position of dealing with Bills after they have got the most thorough overhauling in the Dáil. If we got Bills that passed their five stages in the Seanad, would we spend so much time on them in this House as Senators spend on Bills which go to them from the Dáil? Senators are able to consider amendments that have been put down and defeated in the Dáil and they can gauge whether amendments are going to strengthen the Bill or not. Merely to sneer at the Seanad as a rubber stamp passing Bills en bloc without giving them consideration shows failure to understand the relative position of the two Houses. The Seanad gets Bills after they have gone through the five stages in the Dáil. If Senators have to plod through all that is said in this House they must have a weary time of it, and that is not represented by public appearances, for he may do that at home. I am not saying that all Senators or Deputies do that when they are away, but I say if you take the Seanad on the average and the Dáil on the average there is not a sufficient difference between the work the average Senator and the average Deputy has to do to warrant lowering the salary given to the Senator from a sum of £360 to £200. For that reason, and that only, I am going to vote against Deputy Thrift's Bill.

It is very interesting to note what the Minister for Industry and Commerce forgets about the last debate. He mentioned at the beginning of his speech to-night a lot of interesting points where he left off when he moved to report progress when this debate was on before, but, as a matter of fact, he forgot the real point where we left off.

I know that it would be out of order, according to the ruling of the Chair, to discuss Ministers in this debate, but seeing that Ministers have discussed everything from Fianna Fáil funds to Deputy Flinn's overdraft, I think that while we cannot discuss the Minister for Industry and Commerce as such, we can discuss him as Minister for Cumann na nGaedheal British subscriptions. It would be interesting to know when the Minister was sending round his circulars——

I refrained from mentioning this point because I could see that it had no relevance to the debate, but the thing has been dragged into it again. If it is going to be discussed I must have some right to reply. If it is not going to be discussed I demand the right to advert to what Deputy Aiken has said.

Was it relevant to use confidential information in regard to a particular concern that happens to be working on a Government loan to expose what the manager of that concern was getting by way of salary? Was that relevant? Was it decent?

The Deputy will recollect that the Minister was ruled out on that and was precluded from speaking on it.

When he had said it.

I am sure that the Deputy will realise that it is impossible to rule out statements until they are made.

In that case the Minister should have been made to withdraw the statement and to apologise for having used confidential information.

Or we should be permitted to deal with the Minister's statement.

I want to give the Minister every latitude, and I will give him an opportunity to reply to everything I say. The best way to do that would be by question and answer.

I want to give the Deputy as much liberty as I can, but I do not want this debate on the Second Reading of the Payment of Members Bill to develop into a debate upon particular Party funds to the exclusion of the Bill itself.

The unfortunate thing about it is that the debate has developed on those lines. The Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Industry and Commerce both devoted a considerable portion of their speeches to a certain Party fund.

Oh, no, not to any Party funds.

Well, a fictitious fund, a fund which the Minister calls the Save the Country Fund, a fund which does not exist at all.

Out of Deputies' salaries, which makes it relevant.

At any rate, there is no fund of that name.

Speaking from recollection of what happened the last day, I think the Minister connected what he calls the Save the Country Fund with Deputies' allowances. Whether it is possible to get other Party funds in on that and make them relevant I do not know. I want to give as much freedom as I can, but, at the same time, I do not want the House to forget that we are discussing the Oireachtas (Payment of Members) Bill and not Party funds.

That is what we were discussing.

Of course, Cumann na nGaedheal Deputies get £360 a year for their good work for the country just the same as we do, and Cumann na nGaedheal funds, like Fianna Fáil funds, occasionally fall a little bit below what would be regarded as a good bank balance. On such occasions as that we have circulars going around to people asking them for funds for Cumann na nGaedheal, asking them to "stand behind the Law and Order Government that keeps you where you are." That is addressed to all the people who are doing business in Ireland. The Minister denied it when we accused him of sending one of these circulars to British millers. The Minister denied that he circularised British millers as such. We would like to know from the Minister if he did not circularise them "as such" how did he circularise them?

I did not circularise them at all. I did not circularise them as such.

"As such." The Minister sends a letter to, say, John Blank, asking him for funds for Cumann na nGaedheal. John Blank, or Joseph Blank, or Joseph Dash, is a British miller.

It was never sent.

The Minister did not send it to Joseph Blank, doing business in Ireland as a British miller? I would like to know how he did address him. Did he say "Joseph Blank, an English firm doing business in Ireland"?

I would like the Deputy to show me the relevancy of this. I cannot see it.

The relevancy is this: We are discussing a most important Bill introduced by Deputy Thrift, dealing with the payment of members of the Oireachtas, and members of the Oireachtas have to deal with the economic upbuilding of the country. The people are going down rapidly; the nation is becoming disrupted; our people are fleeing from the country, and at the same time £39,000,000 worth of British-manufactured goods are being dumped into this country every year.

Surely that is not showing the relevancy of the Deputy's statement.

Of course, we do not want to discuss the Minister for Industry and Commerce as such, the Minister whose duty it is to build up the industries of the country in order to keep people at home and give employment; but it is relevant to discuss the Minister for British Collections for Cumann na nGaedheal.

The Minister who allows in £39,000,000 worth of British goods and allows our people to emigrate.

The Deputy is getting further away from the Bill.

I submit that when this matter was debated on the last night, the Minister for Industry and Commerce as such debated it, and that both the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Minister for Agriculture spent between them about two hours debating all sorts of funds. I think the most interesting fund that was discussed was this fund which Cumann na nGaedheal has got from British firms doing business in Ireland.

I want to have this quite clear. The fund may be very interesting—I am not going to deal with the merits of it—but the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Minister for Agriculture dealt with certain funds in relation to the allowances made to Deputies and Senators, and to that extent their contributions to the debate were relevant; but the point which the Deputy is now making has no relevancy whatever to the Bill under discussion.

I submit that this has reference to the salaries of Cumann na nGaedheal Deputies and Senators.

If the Deputy can connect the allowances given to Deputies and Senators with what he is now saying I would be glad if he would do so.

I am dealing with the Cumann na nGaedheal funds which have been depleted by by-elections in an effort to stem the growing tide of dissatisfaction against the Government.

No; the Deputy is absolutely irrelevant.

If Fianna Fáil funds are relevant for two speeches lasting two hours I cannot see how Cumann na nGaedheal funds are irrelevant. It is interesting to note that from the Minister's own admission these Cumann na nGaedheal funds have been swelled by donations—by some of the invisible gold imports of the British millers.

I want the Deputy to be clear on this. Unless the Deputy can show me the relevance between the question of Senators' and Deputies' allowances and the particular fund to which he is referring he is absolutely out of order.

If it is out of order, I ask that I should be allowed an opportunity to repudiate what the Deputy has called an admission.

No, I am not going to hear another word about it.

If the Deputy is to be allowed to quote these things surely he must substantiate what he says? The Deputy talked of an admission of mine. There was no admission whatever as such. I say now distinctly that neither as P. McGilligan, nor as Minister for Industry and Commerce, nor as treasurer of the Cumann na nGaedheal funds did I solicit British millers for subscriptions for Cumann na nGaedheal, nor did I authorise anyone so to solicit them, nor after inquiries did I find that anyone had been soliciting them, and I know, as a matter of fact, that no such money was received.

Will the Minister deny that on the last night when I asked if he had circularised British millers for the funds of Cumann na nGaedheal he answered "as such"?

Certainly not. That is what I said.

That is good enough.

No, it is not good enough. I said then, and I say again, that that must be substantiated.

We will give you a full opportunity of putting all the books on the Table, yours and ours.

The Deputy must substantiate what he said.

The statement is true, all right.

This very clever young Minister—I do not know whether to call him the youngest or the oldest Minister in Europe—was stupid enough to stutter out the truth for once, and to let the cat out of the bag.

Nothing was let out.

He denied that he circularised English millers as such. He did not address them as English millers, but sent circulars to Joseph Blank. He was very careful to address them to Mr. Joseph Blank, a British firm doing business in Ireland.

I have already told Deputy Aiken that he is absolutely out of order. I want to hear the Deputy on the Bill. If he is not going to speak on the Bill he must not continue his speech.

On a point of order. May I point out that apart from the irrelevancy of the Deputy's remarks——

Is this a point of order?

On a point of order. The Minister for Industry and Commerce has given a categorical denial to the statement made by Deputy Aiken. Deputy Aiken gets up and repeats his statement, and I suggest that in view of the categorical denial of the Minister he is out of order.

The Minister did not deny what he said. That is all I am interested in.

I have denied the whole thing.

I am not going to hear another word about this.

We are accustomed to Ministers getting up on points of order, and when they get under the cover of the robes of some august person they then throw squibs.

Might I again suggest that the Deputy is out of order?

I would like the Deputy to explain what he means by Ministers getting under cover? Under whose cover?

When the Treaty came along——

Oh, no. Perhaps the Deputy will answer my question. Will he explain what he means by Ministers getting under cover?

They always try to creep under the legs of the Chair, as far as I can see.

Is the Deputy now stating that the Chair is partial to Ministers?

No, but I say——

Is the Deputy stating that the Chair has given liberty to Ministers that it is not giving to other Deputies?

I am not stating any such thing.

Will the Deputy explain what he means?

I am saying that Ministers try to raise points of order in order to cover up their own graft in connection with their own funds.

I would like to hear the Deputy on the Bill now.

Ministers are continually doing such things, and every time a question of national importance comes up they always try similar tricks. They told us before when we tried to discuss questions like this Bill on the merits, "If you do so-and-so, Lloyd-George will eat you." On another occasion they said, "If you do so-and-so, the Bishops will excommunicate you." On another occasion they said, as Minister Hogan said, "If you refuse to pay the land annuities to England you will be damned; you will break the Seventh Commandment." Now when we want to discuss the funds which Cumann-na-nGaedheal got from England they are trying——

Now the Deputy must end.

On a point of order, as Deputy Aiken will not be allowed to refer to these funds, I wish to point out that this fund is subscribed to the Party as such, and naturally the spoils are divided. Do you think those Deputies voted for the abolition of the Irish mills without getting portion of the swag?

That is not a point of order.

They are not going to stop the British mills.

Ministers threaten that if I continue along these lines the Leas-Cheann Comhairle will eat me, so I had better leave it. We have to treat as absolutely fair and impartial the ruling of the Chair, that we cannot discuss Ministers; that question has been decided and, of course, we have to accept it. Deputy Corry was wrong in asking was it irrelevant to discuss Ministers' salaries. He should have asked if it was irrelevant to discuss any Providence-sent Ministers like those opposite. When speaking in Dublin recently the President stated that he had been put in his present position by Providence, if you please! That is a sort of strange god that the British always thanked for signal victories, as Cromwell expressed his thanks after the Sack of Drogheda. The President of course should get more salary than an ordinary Deputy——

We are not discussing the President's salary. The Deputy has been speaking nineteen minutes and he has never said a word about the Bill.

If I cannot reply to what Ministers have said, and treat them as they treated us, I do not propose to continue.

I do not know what position we are in about this matter. I do not know whether it is out of order or not to discuss what Fianna Fáil Deputies have done with their salaries. We had two speeches from Ministers on the subject and when we asked for a show-down on both sides as to funds, it suddenly becomes out of order for us to discuss what would correspond to the fund mentioned by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. After all I think it is as much in order for the Minister for Industry and Commerce to discuss what a Fianna Fáil Deputy may do with his salary when he receives it as it would be for us to discuss the funds collected to pay for the libel action of the Minister for Agriculture who we know had to send round the hat when he lost the action.

Surely the Deputy cannot state that.

I confess I am very much at sea in this matter, because I imagine that it would be grossly out of order for a Minister to discuss what a member does with his salary once he gets it. I am sure that many of the members on the Cumann na nGaedheal as well as on the Fianna Fáil side devote a portion of their salary to certain public purposes. I wonder how many of us are to be called upon to say what we do with our salaries. It is very difficult in ordinary intercourse as between gentlemen to say exactly how one could characterise that particular type of filthy argument. I think that the proper course would have been, the minute the Minister started on that line, either to have prevented him from speaking on that line as to what individuals do with their salaries, which have absolutely nothing to do with the payment of members, or else when that was allowed, to have a show down, to allow the discussion to continue on the lines of where the funds come from on either side. I think it is just as well perhaps that the Minister for Industry and Commerce digressed from the subject, because at least it had this effect that it had warned the country as to where they seek funds from. If it were not out of order I could quote a case where funds were sought from Unionists.

On a point of order the Minister for Industry and Commerce gave a categorical denial of the untruthful statement made by Deputy Aiken, and I suggest that Deputy Little is grossly out of order in attempting to repeat that untrue statement.

He did not give a categorical denial.

I think that Deputies will recollect that on more than one occasion, when certain charges had been made, and there has been a definite denial from the person so accused, that that has had to be accepted by the House.

The Minister did not deny what he said.

I find it very difficult to know exactly where we are in this matter. I quite admit that this thing should be seen through to the end, and if it cannot be seen through in the House here it must be seen through somewhere else. I myself regret very much the turn which the Minister for Industry and Commerce gave to this debate, but having given it that turn I think it should be continued, and that he should get exactly the kind of answer which his method of dealing with the matter deserves.

This Debate I agree has taken a most extraordinary course. The Bill, I think, originally dealt with the proposal to reduce Senator's salaries, but I think that you, or any other impartial auditor, would have to concede that the one thing which has not been discussed, particularly in the speeches from the Government Benches, has been the purport and principle of Deputy Thrift's Bill.

An attempt has been made to justify the many irrelevancies in this debate by saying that it was quite in order to discuss the particular allowances paid to the Deputies of the Fianna Fail Party, because this Bill dealt with the question of the Senators' allowances. The ruling was so extraordinary as to exclude from discussion the allowances paid to other members of this House.

Is the Deputy now challenging the ruling that was made?

Challenge is not precisely, I think, the word which would explain my attitude.

The Deputy must either accept the ruling or challenge it.

I am accepting the ruling. I do not propose to discuss the Ministers' allowances.

Apart from that the Deputy said that the ruling was such that it was permissible to discuss the allowances paid to Fianna Fáil Deputies but not to other Deputies. There was no such ruling given from the Chair.

I am merely stating that fact so that it may be on the record. May I put it to you that while I am accepting your ruling, and not going to refer to the salaries paid to the Ministers, I must say that I do not know whether it was you or the Ceann Comhairle made the ruling? I am not going to refer to the sacrosanct salaries of the Ministers and what they do with them, a thing which it might not possibly be in the public interest to investigate. I am, at the same time, perfectly within my rights as a member of this House to have on record the difficulties under which I am speaking.

The Deputy said that a ruling had been given which made it permissible to discuss the allowances paid to Fianna Fáil Deputies but not the allowances paid to other Deputies. I want to make it quite clear that there was no such ruling given.

Am I to understand that no part of the salary paid to the Ministers is an allowance?

We are not discussing salaries.

Do the Ministers receive any allowances?

No, Ministers receive salaries.

Do they receive allowances in respect of travelling?

They are firing from cover, so; there is no question about that.

We shall leave the Ministers' allowances and possibly the Ministers' Party Fund to the judgment of the country and come back to one of the speeches which was delivered in this debate. I suppose I shall be in order in reminding the House of what was said here in the Debate on Wednesday, I think 19th February, by the Minister for Agriculture. "What happens here?" asked the Minister. "There is a Party opposite with nothing to do, nothing to do except politics. The Party on the Government Benches are mainly men with other interests, mainly men who have to work hard at home." That raises a point and makes a charge which was repeated in another Debate by the President of the Executive Council, the point that in this party there were no men of business experience. If that charge is to be levied against one side of the House and if we are to be traduced and slandered up and down this country as men of no standing in the community and as men of no substance, I think we are perfectly entitled to examine the personnel of the present Government of this country and to see what substance and what status they had before an act of treachery elevated them to their present position.

Hear, hear.

We shall begin, so far as the House and the country are concerned, with the least energetic of the Ministers, the Minister for Fisheries.

The Deputy may find many other occasions for discussing and criticising Ministers. This is not the occasion to do it.

I am criticising the Minister as a member of this House. Deputies on these benches have been criticised as members of this House.

The Deputy cannot do it upon this Bill.

I understand the Leas-Cheann Comhairle was in the Chair when the Minister for Agriculture made use of this expression, "There is a Party opposite with nothing to do, nothing to do except politics." I desire to apologise for saying that you, a Leas-Chinn Comhairle, were in the Chair. I now find you were not. But if the Chair regarded these remarks as orderly, then what I have to say in regard to those who formerly had nothing to do except politics will be quite in order too. "There is a Party opposite with nothing to do, nothing to do except politics." There is a Party opposite in this House, many members of which formerly had nothing to do except politics. There is the Minister for Fisheries——

Now, the Deputy cannot pursue that line.

Of course I cannot. In this House it is always the case of dogs tied and stones loose.

I am sure the Deputy made that statement deliberately, and that is, I take it, an accusation of partisanship against the Chair. Is the Deputy prepared to withdraw that statement?

I withdraw the statement. May I refer to Deputy Lynch?

Let us get clear on this. The Deputy has made a statement that it is always a case in this House of dogs tied and stones loose, putting it very definitely that the Chair is absolutely biassed.

The Deputy withdrew that.

I want to get a clear withdrawal of that statement.

Mr. O'Connell

He did withdraw it.

I withdraw that statement.

On a point of order, A Leas Chinn Comhairle, would you kindly explain how it is out of order to refer to individuals on the other side while a Minister of the House who surely ought to know the principles of order better than the ordinary Deputy has been allowed to use the debate to make personal accusations against 55 members collectively?

I do not admit for a moment that the Minister necessarily knows more about the rules of order than an ordinary Deputy.

That is only a side issue.

Deputies will have to realise and ought to realise that it is permissible to say things about a Party as a Party which it would not be permissible to say about an individual. I think that was made quite clear.

That was a statement that we have got to consider in the light of the facts that are common and public knowledge. The names of most of the members of this Party are known to the public. Some of them have been known to the public for a considerable number of years and when a statement such as that made by the Minister is made in this House the members of this Party are going to be injured in their public and private reputation and in their business standing. A statement that any member who sits on these benches has nothing to do except politics is going to injure everyone of us in his private and personal affairs, not only in his reputation as a politician or as a public man but also in his reputation as a citizen and business man. Therefore, I submit that since a member of the Government has been permitted to stigmatise members of this Party in the way in which he has done it is only fair that we should be able to turn against himself the weapon which he has used against us. There should not be, at any rate, licence given to certain members of this House to traduce their colleagues unless their colleagues are going to have an adequate opportunity of reply.

I do not want to interrupt the Deputy, but I want to make it perfectly clear that I am quite anxious to give to the Deputy or any other Deputy as much liberty as is given to any Minister, but no more. I do not want this matter to be so developed that we will forget all about the Bill that is before us. I am prepared to give the Deputy at least as much liberty as was given to the Minister or anyone else.

Would it be in order then to ask if the Minister for Industry and Commerce would produce the Minutes of that meeting referred to, the meeting of the particular commercial or trading organisation at which the particular Senator applied for an increase of salary?

No, because as soon as the Minister got that statement out I ruled him out of order as quickly as I could.

Still his statement stands on the records of the House.

There must be another method of dealing with it.

Members on this side of the House did not gamble on railway stock over the Drumm battery.

I am sure you will admit that it is not very satisfactory to the particular Senator concerned to rely on that statement, that there must be another way of dealing with it.

It was private and confidential, like the document sent to the British millers.

I was going to refer in detail, categorically, to the statements which the Minister for Agriculture made in his speech, not that the speech had any relation whatsoever to the matter under discussion, but because I thought that since it had been made and since the Minister had been allowed to make it in his own way that I should have the right of similarly replying. Since I am unable to do that I can only deal with the speech of the Minister in general terms. The contribution which the Minister for Agriculture made to this debate was characteristic of him. There was very little new in it. It was reminiscent of the Minister's former pronouncement upon similar questions, a re-issue of the garbage which he flung from public platforms at the General Election of 1927, and at the by-elections which followed.

It was, however, a very significant indication of the attitude of the Minister, because those who listened to that speech noted the similarity which there was between it and those which the Minister delivered upon the Pensions Bill and upon a motion to reduce the salary of an officer of this House. It was quite clear from the speech of the Minister in this debate and from those former speeches that the Fianna Fáil Party has only to propose to prune pensions and reduce salaries in order to stir the cesspools of the Minister's imagination to their very depths. The Minister has taunted those who sit on these benches with inconsistency in regard to allowances paid to Deputies. I only mention that charge of the Minister in order to tell him that, at any rate in this matter of pay and emoluments, he has been staunchly consistent throughout his whole public career. From the moment that a freak of fortune thrust him into public life in this country his eyes have been fixed upon one thing and upon one thing only, the main chance. That has been the Minister's ideal, that has been the Minister's lure, that has been the Minister's one purpose, the pursuit of the main chance, since he came into public life in this country. Who was he, this Minister who says that the members on these benches have nothing to do except politics? An unknown country attorney——

He was a distinguished University graduate.

For whose knowledge of law, as he himself admitted, he would not give one halfpenny.

Then all I can say is that even in that respect he did not show an overweening modesty. With no other equipment than an abusive tongue and an unswerving fidelity to self he has placed himself in his present position.

Is it in order to discuss the personal character of the Minister on this Bill.

It certainly is not.

Well, let me see. What happens here. "There is a Party opposite with nothing to do except politics." What is the Minister doing at present except politics? He has discussed the character of men who sit on these benches and, since he has done that, we are perfectly justified in discussing the character of the Minister. We did not conduct and we did not drag the debate into these lines.

We will court-martial him.

Did somebody say something about court-martial?

I said that we will court-martial him. We will court-martial the gentleman you were speaking about.

The Minister for Agriculture?

The gentleman you were speaking about.

When did you court-martial him?

I said that we will.

That is all right.

I want to say, for the information of Deputy MacEntee, that it may be permissible to say things about a Party which it would not be permissible to say about an individual. I think the Deputy will grasp the difference.

The Fianna Fáil Party.

While we accept that ruling, you may take it that we very strongly protest against it.

I am not giving it as a ruling, but I am saying that while it would be permissible to say things about a Party it would not be permissible to say them about an individual.

That particular statement is the kind of statement that is injurious to each individual of a Party.

In that regard may I direct attention to this statement? "A large proportion of Deputies on the Fianna Fáil Benches have nothing to do except politics and draw their cheques."

If the Deputy were to make similar statements about members on the Cumann na nGaedheal Benches I do not think that I would rule him out.

No. We are not going to take refuge under generalities. There are many members on the Cumann na nGaedheal Benches for whom, in their private capacity and in their capacity as members of this House, nobody who knows them could have anything but regard and esteem, even though not agreeing politically with them. I certainly am not going to traduce my opponents collectively, and take refuge in the fact that I refer to them collectively. The Minister for Agriculture may think that that is the only way he can conduct the debate and sling mud with safety and with immunity to himself. I was talking about the Minister's consistency. I wonder will it be disorderly, since I have referred to his consistency, to pay an equal tribute to his vigilance. Let any attempt be made to secure an investigation into the claims of Government pensioners or to reduce the salaries of Government placemen——

They do not arise at all.

In the Seanad?

They are not salaries.

Then I shall say allowances of Government place-men in the Seanad. Then at once the Minister for Agriculture bristles with indignation. He bares his teeth and I must say rushes to preserve and to guard not only his own bone but the bones of others who, like himself, have shared in the spoils of the Civil War. With a mentality such as that it is not to be wondered at that the Minister should ascribe to those who sit on these benches and who, as Deputy Derring has said, could just as easily have been on the Government Benches if they had been as false and self-seeking as the Minister, the peculiar gifts of which he is himself the conscious possessor. We are quite well aware that the presence of Fianna Fáil Deputies in the Dáil is not welcome to the Minister. We are quite well aware that he is anxious to traduce and slander us in the country, so that the present Government may remain in office and that the present economic policy may remain in operation, so that the Minister's purpose of making Ireland a market garden for Great Britain can be achieved. Now we know, after some of the statements which were made in the debate on Friday week, how it is that the Minister for Agriculture is the bigoted and bitter opponent of the proposals of Fianna Fáil for increasing tillage in this country, for building up industries, and for making the people of Ireland a prosperous and happy community. We know now why the Minister for Agriculture would rather see, as he himself said on a public platform in Galway, war, fair and square, than that the campaign against the payment of land annuities should succeed.

The Deputy ought to come to the point. He has been speaking for twentyfive minutes but I have not heard a word about the Bill yet.

The Minister was speaking for even longer and said very much less about the Bill but he was, nevertheless, permitted to speak.

Do not follow his bad example.

I do not propose to follow the Minister in his bad example but if I may administer a little chastisement which will make him mend his ways for the future, I think I should be doing a commendable thing. The Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who were so familiar with the funds of this Party, know the source of their own Party funds.

Is that what the Deputy calls chastisement?

Yes, I am rubbing it in.

The Deputy should get an English word for it.

I noticed on last Friday week the Minister for Industry and Commerce was so tender in a certain spot that he ran away. He must get more chastisement.

Chastisement? Get an English word for it.

The Minister says that I know the source of our own Party funds but lest the stream should dry up, lest those who have been maintaining the Cumann na nGaedheal organisation, whether it is English millers as such——

I have told the Deputy already that that was ruled out of order.

We are not subsidised by any English millers. We are sent up here by the people of the nation to protect the Constitution. You are turning the Dáil into a disgrace. You are bringing disrepute, as far as you can, on this assembly, but you will not succeed.

I quite sympathise with Deputy Sheehy in his indignation, but it should not be directed against me, as I am not responsible for these circulars.

Mr. Sheehy

You can take them home with you.

If Deputy MacEntee does not come to the Bill within a minute from now I shall be compelled to ask him to discontinue his speech. The Deputy has been speaking for half-an-hour without saying one word about the Bill.

I thought I was dealing with some of the arguments that had been used.

I would like to hear the Deputy on the Bill after half-an-hour.

Surely I am entitled to follow the course of the debate. Shall I take the Minister for Industry and Commerce?

I prefer that the Deputy would take the Bill.

This is the only opportunity we will have of replying to the Minister for Industry and Commerce in this debate. "Accustomed as I am to diatribes from Deputy Flinn, I must say that I have never listened to a more unctuously self-sufficient speech than that which he has just delivered."... "To bring him back it took that big catastrophe, the great World War.... We have members in the Seanad, ... to whom I would give £1,000, while I would be prepared to reduce Deputy Flinn's salary from the £360 that he at present gets. There are men in the Seanad who serve this country in a variety of ways, men who possibly do not speak as often as Deputy Flinn, men who do not parade themselves before the public as often as Deputy Flinn, and men who never suffered the humiliation of having one little bit of their hypocrisy paraded before the public as one little bit of Deputy Flinn's hypocrisy has been paraded. The Deputy thinks it is a scandalous thing to have 152 members in this House paid each £360 a year for the sake of neutralising each other's activities." ... "If the President ever said that the Deputies in the Cumann na nGaedheal Party were getting paid too much for their attendance in this House, I would repudiate him, but I do not believe he ever said it."

I am endeavouring to show to the House and to the Leas-Cheann Comhairle the tenour of the debate on Friday week. I did not intend to quote from it, but I have something to say about "If the President ever said that the Deputies in the Cumann na nGaedheal Party were getting paid too much for their attendance in this House I would repudiate him." So should I. Strange to say, in that respect, at any rate, I am in complete agreement with the Minister. When Deputies have to come to this House and do such work as the Deputies of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party have shown themselves willing to do in a number of cases, I think that there is scarcely any remuneration which would be too high in order to compensate them for the violence which I know they do their better judgment and commonsense. I know perfectly well that Deputy Sheehy would not leave his beloved town of Skibbereen and wend his weary way to Dublin if he knew that while——

Mr. Sheehy

I was coming here to this city on public business, on the work of the nation, before you were born. You need not insult me.

I am afraid not only of another interruption from Deputy Hennessy or Deputy Sheehy but also one from the Chair and I am not going to pursue the point which I was going to make. I was going to make this point, that certainly if I were Deputy J.J. Byrne and felt so strongly about the Local Government (Dublin) Bill as Deputy Byrne indicated in the speech which he made on the Second Reading of the Bill last week——

On a point of order, is the Deputy dealing with the Bill?

The Deputy has been speaking for thirty-five minutes now and he has not yet dealt with the Bill. I must ask Deputy MacEntee to be serious. He must either now deal with the Bill or discontinue his speech.

For my own direction—not in this debate, because it is now too late, I shall soon be sitting down—and for my future guidance, if the Minister for Agriculture or the Minister for Industry and Commerce makes such references as these to a member of this House and their speeches are conducted in the same spirit, am I not entitled to pursue the Minister's tactics and to refer to members of the Minister's Party in the same fashion? I just want to know this——

May I put this to the Deputy, that it is almost an impossibility for any member of the House to speak for thirty-five minutes and to be in order without making at least some reference to the Bill which is under discussion. I suggest to the Deputy that he must come to the Bill at once.

(Deputies—"Hear, hear").

I can hear some Deputies saying "hear, hear."

Mr. Sheehy

He is quite impartial.

I am not denying it. I am referring to Deputy Sheehy. I can quite understand that Deputies opposite do not like to be treated to the same medicine as Ministers and others on the Government Benches serve out to us in every debate upon every Bill. They do not like to be stigmatised in the way that we have been stigmatised; they do not like to be slandered and traduced in the way that we have been with the cheering cohorts from Skibbereen and from another Cork district——

Mr. Sheehy

They are honest in Skibbereen.

[An Ceann Comhairle resumed the Chair.]

Before I get back to the Bill I wish to put this point to you, sir. In speaking on this Bill on Friday week the Minister for Industry and Commerce said:

"We must presume, however, that the Save the Country Fund is much stronger now, largely as a result of the contributions it has received from these six or seven members. It would be interesting to get some sort of audited accounts in regard to the moneys in that fund."

Arising out of that Deputy Lemass said:

"Let us have a show-down. We will undertake to publish the accounts in relation to that fund if the President undertakes to publish the accounts of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party funds and the names of the subscribers to that fund?"

I understand that when the Minister referred to that fund, which he described as the "Save the Country Fund" he referred to a fund for which some Deputies in this House are responsible. Both he and the Minister for Agriculture referred to it at great length. The point I wish to put to you is: whether I am entitled to ask the Minister certain questions in relation to certain party funds with which he is connected, since he put a question to us and was allowed to pursue that subject when this Bill was last under debate.

Has this point been raised already to-night?

Not exactly in that form.

Has the Chair decided the point already to-night in any form?

Yes, in another form.

Has the point been decided?

That particular point? If you ask my opinion, I should say no.

It is a very simple point. The quotation from the Minister's speech is from column 828 of the Official Debates of 21st February:—

"We have what is now described as the Save the Country Fund, to which payments were to be made out of the surplus moneys that Deputies get by way of allowances."

Even if the Minister mentioned allowances, it would appear on the Minister's showing to be a fund based on Deputies' allowances.

I am referring to column 829 at the foot of the page:

"We must presume, however, that the Save the Country Fund is much stronger now, largely as a result of the contributions it has received from these six or seven members. It would be interesting to get some sort of audited accounts in regard to the moneys in that fund."

The "Save the Country Fund"—I know nothing about it myself, except what I find in the Official Debates—according to column 828 is a fund "to which payments were to be made out of the surplus moneys that Deputies get by way of allowances." The question of allowances to Senators is what is in the Bill. The question of allowances to Deputies and Senators would appear to be relevant, seeing that Deputies are the only other persons comparable to Senators on the question of allowances. If this fund has reference to Deputies' allowances, then it would appear to be in order, but it does not appear to be in order to go outside that into a general discussion of party funds which have no reference to Deputies' allowances.

Arising out of that, both the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Minister for Agriculture have raised this point, and I suggest that the onus is upon them to prove the existence of a certain fund before they make certain allegations in regard to it. Since they have not done that, I think we are entitled to pursue the same line as they did, that is to say, that Deputies on this side of the House are to be given the same licence in the debate as Deputies on the other side. We are quite willing in this matter to make a "show-down" of our funds and present the audited statement which the Minister has asked for, provided he will permit us to make an audit of his party funds.

The trouble is that in this debate the only fund that would appear to be relevant is a fund based upon Deputies' or Senators' allowances, if that exists.

A hypothetical fund!

It may very well be hypothetical—I have no knowledge of that.

Mr. Boland

The other is not—the millers' fund.

Deputy MacEntee must be quite clear that he could not, on a Bill to reduce Senators' allowances, enter into a discussion of general Party funds; for example, the funds of Cumann na nGaedheal Party, or of the Fianna Fáil Party, or the Labour Party, or any other political fund which may exist in the country. That would carry us altogether outside the scope of the Bill.

Is the principle this—that because certain members of the Fianna Fáil Party may have made, whether out of their allowances or out of any other resources which they may have, contributions to a certain fund, that fund can be discussed in this House?

Because they boasted about it.

I should like to get the fundamental principle in this.

The fundamental principle, which I think will easily last until 10.30 p.m., is this: that on this Bill we may discuss Senators' allowances, and we may also discuss Deputies' allowances, and may discuss other things which may be deemed to be relevant to each or either or both, but not funds further or otherwise. Now we shall take Deputy Ryan's question on the adjournment.

It being 10.30 p.m. the Debate stood adjourned.