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.