Private Deputies' Business. - Immediate Needs of the Unemployed.

I desire to move the motion standing in my name:—

That the Dáil is of opinion that steps should be taken forthwith by the Executive Council to provide work or maintenance to meet the immediate needs of the unemployed.

I should like that the House would take note that I am asking in the motion that the Executive Council should take steps forthwith to deal with the immediate needs of the unemployed. I am sure that I shall be told of the many schemes which the Government have on hands for dealing with this problem. I have no doubt that the Government have many schemes, and are still dealing with or examining schemes which they hope will have a bearing upon this problem. But I want to remind Deputies, if it is necessary to remind them, that we have to-day in this country, so far as we know, anything from 80,000 to 100,000 unemployed. The figures circulated recently of the census taken in 1926 show that there were then almost 80,000 unemployed and that, with their dependents, the number of people affected is something like 150,000. I do not think that any Deputy will fail to agree with me when I say that the position, so far as the unemployed are concerned, is much worse to-day than it was when that census was taken. Speaking for my own constituency, I have no hesitation in saying, and I am sorry to have to say it, that conditions are infinitely worse to-day than they have been at any time during the last ten or twelve years. I know that in my constituency there are unfortunately more people compelled to apply for outdoor relief or home assistance than ever before. Only in this morning's paper appeared a report from the Superintendent of Home Assistance for the administrative county of South Tipperary that the total expenditure for March of this year was £1,512 for South Tipperary and for the half year £9,144, this being £927 more than for the half year ending March, 1931, due, he states, to an increase in unemployment. During the half year ending March, 1931, 211 cases required assistance owing to unemployment, and during the half year ending March, 1932, 361 cases. I just give that as an indication of the position in Tipperary to-day. I think we may take it that if conditions such as these obtain in a county like Tipperary they must be considerably worse in many other counties and must be very much worse in cities like Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford.

I know that this problem of unemployment cannot be solved by this Government or any Government within a few months—I mean we are not going to find a permanent solution of the problem—but I do say that the unemployed of this country have been led to expect more from the present Government than from the Government which they have replaced. We know that the President and other members of the Executive Council and Fianna Fáil candidates generally told us during the general election that this was one of the most serious, if not the most serious, problem which would have to be faced after the election. We know that the President and his Ministry when in opposition told us that this problem could be solved and would be solved if they were in power. We know that on many occasions the President, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and other members of the present Government told us that if this country were being run as a Christian country this state of affairs would not be allowed to continue. We know that we were told that there was no country in the world where the unemployment problem could be more easily or quickly solved. But, unfortunately, so far as the unemployed of this country, so far as those who in many cases are nearly hungry, so far as those who are forced to live on charity and beg for home assistance are concerned, the present Government are more concerned with other things which in their opinion and in my opinion are not so important. I submit to the President and to the Executive Council that if there was one mandate which they got clearly from the electorate at the last election it was that they should tackle this problem immediately to the exclusion of any and every other problem.

Except the land annuities.

To the exclusion of any and every other problem. I submit to the Ministry that it is more important that this should be tackled immediately than either the Oath or the land annuities. People who are paying land annuities will not be hungry unless they are too lazy to grow enough to feed themselves, but the unfortunate 150,000 or 200,000, between the unemployed and those dependent on them, have no annuities to pay, and in many cases have no rents to pay because they have neither land nor houses. I do not know whether it is necessary for me to elaborate this very much. I would not have been one bit surprised if it had been intimated to me that the President was accepting this motion. I know that if this motion had been put by me or any other Deputy on the Order Paper three months ago every member of the Fianna Fáil Party would have voted for it.

Would the Deputy have put it down three months ago?

I did, before either the Minister for Industry and Commerce or the Minister for Finance ever came into the House.

Would the Deputy have done it three months ago?

Yes. I do not know whether I should waste the time of the House replying to the Minister for Finance, but I would say this, that on most occasions on which a motion dealing with unemployment has been put down in this House, I was asked by the Labour Party, of which I was then a member, to sponsor that motion. The Minister can take it from me that this motion would have gone on the Order Paper in my name no matter what Government was in power. That is not the point. The Minister, short as he is in his position, has picked up a few of the tricks of the trade, if I might say so, and when I put a statement which was not very acceptable to him he tried to put me off the track by asking me a question. I want to repeat, in case the Minister did not hear me clearly the first time, that if I had put this motion on the paper three months ago the Minister and his colleagues would have voted for it. Will the Minister say that he would not have voted for it three months ago?

I certainly would have voted for it.

I should be delighted to hear the Minister explain why he would vote for it when he is not in a position to give effect to it and why he refuses to accept it when he is in a position to give effect to it.

It is going to be given effect to.

At the moment I am dealing with Ministers only. But I want to emphasise the real point of this motion and that is that we have to-day—and I do not think my figures will be challenged even by the Minister for Industry and Commerce—at least 80,000 unemployed; that the majority of that 80,000 is dependent upon charity; and that a small minority of them are entitled to and are receiving unemployment benefit. I believe the Minister will agree with that, but the point I want to get at is this: what are the Government proposing to do for the immediate needs of the unemployed pending their schemes coming to fruition, if they ever do? I hope they do. I want to make this point, and I am sorry to have to make it. Speaking now for my own constituency, as far as I know there is more unemployment and poverty, and more people were compelled to look for charity in Tipperary to-day than ever before in my knowledge. I think some of the representatives for Tipperary in the Minister's own Party will agree with that statement. I put it to the House that it is the duty of the Government to carry out as far as they can the promises they have made. It is their duty to come as quickly as they can to the relief of the unemployed. I want to emphasise this before I sit down, and I put it to the President: That this matter is of more importance to the unemployed, to the citizens and to the nation, much more than either the Oath or the annuities. I put it to the President it is his duty to give all the time of both himself and his Ministers, if necessary, to the exclusion of everything else, to dealing with this problem and dealing with it immediately.

I desire formally to second the motion proposed by Deputy Morrissey reserving for myself the right to speak later.

When I learned that Deputy Morrissey proposed to move this motion in the Dáil to-day I was curious to know the reasons that prompted him to do so. I was doubtful in my own mind as to whether Deputy Morrissey was really concerned in getting from the Dáil a declaration of acceptance of the principle embodied in this motion, or whether the desire was merely to score some points against the Government. I am still in some doubt as to what exactly he had in view. There is a big principle embodied in this motion, and the Dáil must not be asked to accept that principle on purely debating points. I submit to the House that Deputy Morrissey has not said one single word in the whole of his remarks in support of the principle of this motion.

You have already accepted the principle of the motion.

That is another point. The point we are faced with now is we are asking the Dáil to consider a motion embodying a big social principle, not asking for a declaration of what the Government is going to do immediately for the relief of unemployment or discussing the relative merits of the unemployment problem in relation to other problems, and I suggest that Deputy Morrissey would have been serving the interests of his constituents, and of unemployment, much more usefully by confining his remarks to the motion he has tabled. On the question of the relative importance of the unemployment problem let us spend a few moments. I do not know if Deputy Morrissey thinks of the problems of this country as being in water-tight compartments, having no relation one to the other, so that the Government can ignore one, concentrate on another, and pass again to a third. If that is his view it is a shortsighted view and a very ill-informed view, if I may say so.

I have not the Minister's experience yet.

I do not think at any time in this Dáil, any member, no matter how inexperienced, ever argued before that it was possible to solve the problem of unemployment without producing reactions upon every other problem in the country. And I say this, and I say it deliberately, that one of the essential steps that must be taken for the solution of the problem of unemployment is the removal of the Oath in so far as it is necessary to secure political stability here, and the retention of the Land Annuities. I say that anybody who pretends, or who tries to make other people believe, that it is impossible to effect substantial permanent improvement in our economic conditions, while at the same time continuing the exhausting payment to Britain which the Land Annuities represent, is only endeavouring to fool the unfortunate unemployed who are dragged into the debate. We are proposing to deal with unemployment and we are proposing to deal with these other problems because they are related to the problem of unemployment. I say to Deputy Morrissey and to Deputy Anthony and to the Dáil, that if they can show one single thing that would ease the lot of a single unemployed man which the Government could have done and have not done or are not doing, then there is substance in their complaint.

What have the Government done?

The Deputy seemed to anticipate that we would have some difficulty in accepting this motion. He said that if the motion was moved three months ago we would have voted for it. We have not changed our policy or outlook on social problems overnight, and so far as the principle in the motion is the principle that we stood for at the general election, the principle we were elected to implement, we are accepting it. Let us examine what it is. The Dáil is asked to state its opinion that steps should be taken forthwith by the Executive Council to provide work or maintenance to meet the immediate needs of the unemployed.

The members of this Government have always taken the view that if the system of industrial organisation, which the State permits to operate, and protects in its operation, is not capable of providing opportunities for work, for all who are able to work, then provision out of the general resources must be made for those who, in consequence of their inability to find work, are unable to provide for themselves. In modern conditions, in fact, since the creation of the world, it has always been the rule that people provided for their necessities by working for them. "In the sweat of their brow did they eat bread." If that is to continue, if people are to be enabled to provide for themselves and their dependents only by being given the opportunity to work, then, undoubtedly, we accept it, as a direct obligation on the Government, to see that work is provided.

Deputy Morrissey has spoken about the gravity of the unemployment problem. It is, perhaps, useful that we should have this opportunity of informing the general public exactly how grave the unemployment problem is, because it is only when all classes realise its exact dimensions that we will be able to get the necessary wholehearted co-operation from them in the successful operation of the plans devised to deal with it. In the past there was, rightly or wrongly, some tendency to represent the problem as being of smaller magnitude than some of us, in fact, believed it to be. We have got to change that outlook. I do not say that any useful purpose would be served by exaggerating the problem, but it is important that we should have an exact and true idea of its size so that we will know exactly what is to be done in order to solve it.

For a number of years the numbers of persons registered as unemployed at the Labour Exchanges hovered round 20,000. We never accepted that number as representing the total volume of unemployed, but we did accept it in its fluctuations as an index to the volume of unemployment. If the number of registered unemployed increased, we could assume that the total number of unemployed increased. Similarly, if the registered number of unemployed diminished, we could assume that there was some diminution in the total number of unemployed. There has been a very substantial increase in the number of registered unemployed. It is now approximately 31,000. It may be that that figure is not entirely comparable with the earlier figures, because the Department of Industry and Commerce and I, personally, have been endeavouring to induce all unemployed to register at the Exchanges. I have met deputations from labour unions and in public speech and in various Press announcements, I have endeavoured to impress on the unemployed the advantage it would be if they registered at the Exchanges. I would like to take this opportunity to repeat what I have already said in this matter, that if we get all the unemployed registered at the Exchanges we will not merely have an accurate picture of our problem, but it will also enable us to make a more systematic attempt to deal with it.

The motion, however, asks us to do two things in relation to these unemployed, to provide them with work or with maintenance. Let us take the question of maintenance first. To some extent, the principle that persons who are unable to provide for themselves should be provided for by the State is accepted, and has been always accepted here during the lifetime of this State. Provision has been made for them, one way or another, by a system of Unemployment Insurance Acts, Old Age Pension Acts, by relief grants under the poor law and otherwise. The questions we have to consider, therefore, are not so much whether a new principle is to be brought into operation, as to whether the existing methods of giving effect to that principle are efficient, in all the circumstances existing, and whether the provision made is adequate.

There is, undoubtedly, a strong case to be made for the revision of the machinery by which relief of one kind or another is administered. Various aspects of that question are at present being considered in the different Government Departments. It is obvious, however, that that examination must take some time, and the preparation of legislation to give effect to any conclusions arrived at will take still further time. I, for one, do not think it wise that we should delay patching up an existing system while waiting for a better one. There is an old proverb that the best is the enemy of the good, and while we are waiting for the elaboration of what Deputies might consider the best system, in relation to our resources, and our needs, of dealing with unemployment and destitution, it is our view that such amendments in the existing arrangements as can be conveniently made should be proceeded with.

It is on that basis that legislation to amend the Unemployment Insurance Acts is being prepared and that the question of provision for widows and orphans and similar questions are being proceeded with. The Government, of course, does not accept the view that our industrial organisation is not capable of providing work for all our people, if adequate steps were taken for its development and improvement. I think it will be accepted as axiomatic that the real solution for the problem of unemployment is the provision of work, and not the provision of maintenance. When we come to consider this question of the provision of work, we find that our problem is divided into two parts, the long run solution and the short run solution. In the allocation of the functions of Government, between the various Departments, the Department of Industry and Commerce acquires responsibility largely for what I might call the long run solution, the provision of permanent employment. The main administrative responsibility in respect of the short run solution, that is, the provision of administrative relief, falls mainly to certain other Departments.

In the Department of Industry and Commerce work upon the long run solution is at present in progress. In other words, we are endeavouring to push forward industrial development so that permanent employment may be found for all or most of those who are now idle. During the past five years, and Deputies should not forget that the Government has only been in office for five weeks, the circumstances of all, or nearly all, existing industries have been examined in considerable detail and their development possibilities explored and discussed with representatives of the trade associations concerned, not merely the associations of employers but, in the case of a number of these industries, in relation to associations of the workers as well. Various decisions have already been made and will be submitted to the Dáil in due course. For obvious reasons, it is undesirable that the nature of some of these decisions should be communicated at this stage.

In addition the possibilities of establishing new industries are being investigated. I mean industries which do not exist here now such as that referred to by Deputy Finlay in his question here to-day—the cement industry. We are satisfied of the possibilities of getting them, and a number of other industries not now existing in the country, established here within a reasonable period and plans are being elaborated to that end. We are endeavouring to inaugurate a system of general planning of industrial development so that progress can continue, once started, uniformly over all fronts, if I might say so, and that one part of the system will not outrun the other, so that we will be able to direct our energies, in so far as it is possible for us to do so, and the resources of the country, into channels in which they are likely to be most effective in the immediate circumstances.

I agree with what has been said that unemployment need not exist here. I always had the opinion that unemployment in this country was due mainly to misdirection, bad industrial organisation or some such man-made cause. The additional information which it has been possible to acquire with the assistance of the Government Departments at our disposal, has only convinced me in that view. It is true that the world depression has produced its reactions here to some extent. An increase in the volume of unemployment has been due to that world depression but, despite all that may be said in that connection, I am more than satisfied that unemployment, as we now know it in this country, can be remedied, and it is the intention of the Government, in so far as its ability will permit it to do it, to find that remedy and to give effect to it.

It may be that we will fail. We are prepared, however, to stand over our efforts, and if we find that our views are mistaken or that we as individuals are incapable of effectively working out that policy, then we will not stand in the way of some other group who may wish to attempt the task in which we have failed. It is, of course, quite true to say that while these long-run solutions of the problem are being worked out, the unemployed must exist, and, in so far as it is possible to do so, work must be found for them in the near future. There are men unemployed to-day for whom, if we could, we would be all very glad to provide work to-morrow or the next day. Each day out of work is an additional day's misery for them. In these circumstances we have been investigating what it is possible for us to do. It is possible in the course of any debate that may follow that some other speakers on these benches may be able to give more detailed information in that connection than I have had at my disposal. But, generally speaking, our aim has been to proceed as rapidly as possible with all the work in hands in the various Government Departments. In other words, to take the year's programme as set out in the Estimates, and endeavour to complete it in shorter time, and in addition to give effect to other projects of an extremely useful nature which have been hanging fire for some time. In order to ensure co-ordination in that work and to prevent overlapping and to make certain that there will be no wastage, and that the maximum results in employment will be obtained, the entire task is being planned out under the direction of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Hugo Flinn.

In addition to these schemes of work to which I have referred, and which are available in the various departments, which are being tabulated, some other projects are being devised concerning which, however, it is not possible to give information at this stage. But Deputies will have a much clearer idea as to the extent to which it is possible to proceed along these lines with the introduction of the Budget statement in the near future. It is, of course, correct that housing is one of the means by which widespread employment can be given. The Government Housing Board policy is being worked out in the Department of Local Government and it will be brought into operation as soon as possible.

[An Leas-Cheann Comhairle took the Chair.]

In the meantime, however, we are anxious that housing programmes in hand, or under contemplation, should be pushed ahead. The question of the facilities which can be given to local authorities is being considered, and it is hoped that the Government will be able to help them to proceed more rapidly and with larger schemes than in the past. But again, because of the circumstances of the time, definite announcements must be postponed. I think Deputy Morrissey must appreciate that this motion has probably been introduced in the Dáil at a most awkward time.

It is five weeks after the Government came into office and two weeks before the annual Budget is to be introduced.

What about the Fianna Fáil plans that were prepared?

It is therefore very difficult to go into greater detail than I have done now. Some attempts will be made to do so by other Ministers who are more familiar than I am with the programmes in hand in their Departments. But I ask the House to realise first of all that we have got a serious unemployment problem and that a genuine attack upon that problem is now being made, but that the success which will attend that attack will depend upon the measure of good will which we receive from all classes and sections of our people. It is no easy task to take 75,000 people or 80,000 people, or whatever the number may be, now idle and to find useful work for them. But it can be done, and so far as it is possible to do it, it will be done by this Government.

I rise to support the motion proposed by Deputy Morrissey. The language used by him emphasises to an inordinate degree the very serious view he takes of the situation. I think the Minister who has just sat down has also realised how serious the situation is, and I am glad that an effort will be made on his part to alleviate the position which exists in the country to-day. It has been brought home to me, as Chairman of the North Cork Board of Public Assistance, that owing to the enormous amount of unemployment in Fermoy, Mitchelstown, Mallow, Charleville and Buttevant, and other towns in North Cork, public assistance has materially increased. The problem before us is to provide employment for all those able and willing to work. Probably the Government of every country has realised that it is their duty, at any rate, to do something to alleviate the problems caused by want of employment. It is no less our duty here to try to indicate, as far as lies in our power, what means we propose to take to provide for those who are willing to work and who are industrious, but who are unemployed through no fault of their own. We know of several instances where milling concerns, railways, and various other industrial concerns have closed down because of economic conditions. The problem that presents itself to the Government to-day is to help some of these concerns which are in need of resuscitation. There are in this country young men and young women who are not able to emigrate, for emigration has been closed to them. That is one of the problems that will have to be tackled quickly, because idle men, no matter how well they have been brought up, will turn their minds, perhaps, to things and problems which they would not think of had they been employed. I feel sure that when you have concerns like the milling industry becoming practically non-existent, or, at least, in danger of extinction, you are faced with problems that will need to be taken in hands at once.

There is a bigger problem needing to be faced, and that is unemployment on the land. Encouragement of tillage is needed—encouragement to those who are not able to carry on tillage. That is a question that will have to be tackled. I believe protection for agricultural products is a necessary part of Government policy in this State. We have the malting industry, which requires protection, and the development of this industry would help tillage. We have the corn-growing industry, which would also help tillage, and I feel that it is right to say that it should be encouraged by protection.

A good deal of employment in this country has been given by the reconstruction work done on the roads. I think that is an indication of what can be done in that direction, and I would urge that loans be given to further improve the main roads of our country. A proposal has recently been put up to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health to start a loan for the purpose of further road construction. This would relieve unemployment to a very material degree. I do not agree that the Labour Exchanges are always the best methods of securing employment. Sometimes the man in charge is not able to indicate where the necessities arise. Our markets, too, are a very serious problem. We are in danger of losing these markets. That would bring no possible good to the country. I think that, whatever may be said for such a question as the Oath or the Land Annuities, it is, at any rate, incumbent on us to secure by every means in our power that our markets will not be alienated to the injury of the farmers and the people of this country. Our markets are the means of giving employment to agricultural labour, and their alienation would mean driving still further people off the land.

We have concerns like the Youghal brickworks, the Silica Mines in Cloyne and others which have been closed down and we have not enough of employment on the land. I am not able to say specifically what the number of unemployed in this country amounts to. Deputy Morrissey has given certain figures and other Deputies have given other figures. I do not know what the correct figure is but whatever the number is the problem is there and there is before the Government the necessity of providing work for the unemployed. If that employment is not provided then the burden of public assistance will grow still greater. I am personally brought very closely into touch with this matter of unemployment not alone from my position on the Board of Public Assistance but also in connection with other schemes of relief. I would add my best efforts to those of Deputy Morrissey in impressing on the Government the necessity for immediately tackling this problem. Such is the urgency of the question that I know that everybody in the country is in absolute sympathy with whatever means may be adopted by the Government for its solution. I do not think there would be a single dissentient to any workable scheme that they may put before the Dáil.

I was very interested in the reply of the Minister for Industry and Commerce speaking on Deputy Morrissey's motion. The part in which I was specially interested was the new ideas which may govern the policy of the new Government in the solving of the problem of unemployment. I do not intend to deiay the House very long. There are other people besides the Government trying to solve the unemployment problem in this State. It is on the question of the new ideas that I became interested when the Minister spoke. It is these new ideas that some firms are very anxious to find out. I refer to firms who are not going to the Minister for Industry and Commerce looking for subsidies and protection. I refer to firms that are prepared to use their own capital and labour in order to help in the solution of unemployment, but who have no way in which to do it. If these new ideas are ready to the hand of the Minister for Industry and Commerce to-day let him put them before the people at once so that we can assist in this unemployment question in a real genuine and sincere way.

I agree with what the Minister for Industry and Commerce said when he declared that there ought not to be any unemployment problem in this country. In a country in which primary and secondary industries are neglected, in which the population is so sparse but which, nevertheless, is rich in spite of it all, we ought not to have an unemployment problem. We certainly ought not to have a problem of the dimensions that we have to-day. That is one of the extraordinary features of capitalism—although nature never gave more bounteously of her products than she does to-day, yet side by side with that we have a picture of abject misery, poverty and starvation. We have nature giving generously, science aiding more and more in speeding up production, we have more widespread production of foodstuffs, and yet side by side with all that we have that abject misery of which I spoke.

There is no excuse for unemployment in a country such as this. There is less excuse for the misery and poverty which we see all around us. I want to endorse the viewpoint of Deputy Morrissey. He said that the unemployment problem is getting steadily worse and worse. I represent a constituency in County Kildare which formerly provided a good deal of employment by reason of the occupation of certain military barracks there by British troops. These barracks were evacuated and to-day, instead of employment being given to the people, there is blank misery and hopeless despair in many of the little homesteads where industry and a decent standard of life formerly existed.

Deputy Morrissey said that in his constituency more and more people were being driven to seek home help. In County Kildare 41 persons out of every 1,000 are compelled to seek home help. The national average is 18 persons out of every 1,000, and that shows conclusively that so far as Kildare is concerned there is poverty and there is distress on a scale which certainly demands immediate attention and relief.

The Minister mentioned that the Government had been only five weeks in office. I quite appreciate that and I make due allowance for it. A short period in office must necessarily handicap one in the promulgation of plans for the relief of unemployment. At the same time, I was hopeful that we would hear something more definite from the Minister for Industry and Commerce than we heard this evening. In one statement he indicated the secret character of certain plans, and it would seem to me that the Government's proposals revolve in a large measure around the policy of tariffs.

There is, in this country, a section of people who fondly cherish the illusion that if you put on a tariff a day you will keep unemployment away. I warn the new Government that the policy of a tariff a day to keep unemployment away is going to be a very costly one for the consumers, and is not going to yield the results that some people fondly imagine. Let us take, as an example, the tariff on boots and shoes imposed by the last Government. Will anybody who can read English and add figures pretend to believe that the tariff on boots and shoes has been a success? I venture to say that if the late Minister for Industry and Commerce would speak from his heart, as distinct from a political platform, in relation to the imposition of that tariff, he would probably be the first to confess that the tariff has been a ghastly failure.

Not at all.

When the tariff was imposed the home industries catered for 10½ per cent. of the home market for boots and shoes. After eight years of tariff, during which the consumers paid nearly £2,000,000 by way of tariffs, the home manufacturers to-day are supplying from 11½ per cent. to 12 per cent. of the home market. That indicates that £2,000,000 have been paid by the unfortunate people who, in the main, are scarcely able to afford it, for the purpose of increasing our productivity in the way of boots and shoes by from 1 to 1½ per cent. In the case of every other tariffed industry the same doleful tale may be told. Reliance on a policy of tariffs is an illusion. The policy of imposing tariffs as a means of safeguarding our industries is one which will bring its own reawakening. Unfortunately, in the meantime, many workers will have suffered.

The new Government ought to learn from the experience of other countries. Other countries have gone through their industrial Gethsemanes. I think in this country we should profit by their experience. If tariffs could make a country prosperous every country in the world to-day would be prosperous. If tariffs could make America prosperous, would not America be prosperous? If tariffs could make every country prosperous, we need have no unemployment problem. Tariffs on their own will not make a country prosperous. In this country we appear to hug the delusion that we have some divine destiny and that the imposition of tariffs will automatically cure all our industrial ills. I invite anyone who believes that to examine the extent to which our productivity has increased under the tariff policy of the last eight years. I think it will be found that, having regard to the price paid, the results are very dismal reading indeed.

This country cannot supply all its home requirements, but there are requirements which it can supply. Instead of attempting to supply all our home manufacturing requirements we ought to concentrate on the provision of staple commodities which the nation needs and which it can supply. Let us ascertain what these commodities are and let us plan in a national way how we can produce these commodities for ourselves. I am glad the Minister has given an indication that the Government is thinking of a national plan and national direction. I am glad the departmental mind has not saturated the new Government. I hope in surveying the industrial position the Government's general policy will be one of deliberate and ordered planning, and behind it all there will be an enthusiasm such as we have never known for the last ten years. I was a bit concerned when I heard that all the planning was to devolve on a Parliamentary Secretary. I hope that is not an irrevocable decision.

That is not what I said. I said that the duty of preventing overlapping in relation to the expenditure of money upon relief schemes or public works seemed to me to devolve on a Parliamentary Secretary, who is the Parliamentary Secretary of the Board of Works.

I accept the statement of the Minister in connection with that matter. However, it only drives me to this conclusion, that there is nobody, at the moment, specifically charged with thinking out and planning except, perhaps, those in the Minister's own Department. I want to say that the Minister charged with the everyday work of administering his Department cannot find the time, so long as there are only 24 hours in the day, to do this national thinking and national planning which is so essential if we are going to achieve success.

What I would say to the new Government, and to the President in particular, is what I said to him on another occasion, that some body, or some council, should be charged with the responsibility of planning our industrial development rather than that things should go on in a piecemeal, huckstering fashion, and that we should have that sort of pigmy growth that we have had for the past 10 years. Let us do something new, let us do something big, and let us do it after we have thought out the plans and decided definitely that these plans are to be reinforced with national enthusiasm, and with all the energy and legislative power that the Government can bring to the assistance of such a scheme. The Minister stated, and I think stated quite truly, that our prosperity and our capacity to absorb our unemployed people must revolve around the development of our primary and our secondary industries. In the past our system of agricultural economy has given us a lopsided system of productivity. We were content to rely in the main on nature's bounteous supply of grass as the chief source of livelihood of our people, while at the same time we have been content to import manufactured commodities and to pay the fruits hardly won in the agricultural industry to foreign workers in exchange for the manufactured goods which they sent here. It is probably too much to expect that having relied upon the agricultural industry so long we can get away from that industry now, even if it were desirable in existing world circumstances to do so. I suggest to the Minister that every effort should be made to stimulate a balanced scheme of industrial activity. Let us maintain and develop the primary industries until such time as they supply the whole of the home market. At the same time let us realise that our secondary industries will be found to be the really wealth producing industries and thus take steps to ensure that these secondary industries are built up in such a way as to provide employment for the people, and wealth for the nation.

I hope the Minister for Industry and Commerce will not pin all his faith to a policy of unrestricted tariffs. Tariffs and capitalism seem to be some people's method for solving our industrial problems. I hope the President, in particular, will give us an indication that he is not standing for an industrial system which will give us soulless capitalism, existing by means of unrestricted tariffs. I hope he will give the House an assurance that he has some higher, more scientific and more human method of stimulating our industrial productivity and prosperity than mere reliance upon tariffs. The Minister for Industry and Commerce suggested that the solution of the housing problem would make its own contribution to the solution of unemployment. I gladly concede that it would. I have already said so here. The Minister said that he was prepared to help local authorities in the matter of speeding up a house building programme. I want to remind the Minister, and in particular the Minister for Finance, that many local authorities anxious to go ahead with the house building programme are being held up in their activities, because of the fact that they are not able to get money except for short periods and at such high rates of interest as would impose crippling rents on the working class people who would occupy the houses. I hope that the Ministers for Industry and Commerce, Finance and Local Government will, as part of Governmental policy, do something to make money available for long terms at rates of interest which will not necessitate the imposition of such high rents as have been imposed under short term loans.

The Minister asked if any Deputy had any suggestions which would deal with the problem immediately. He said that the best was the enemy of the good. I think that indicated a desire on his part just to struggle on until such time as the Government found the permanent and best solution of our economic and social difficulties. It may be true that the best is the enemy of the good, but I suggest to the Minister that there are diseases, physical and economic, which are so serious that there must be some temporary remedy found for them, until such time as there is convalescence and a permanent cure. I hope the Minister's speech does not indicate that he is not going to do something immediately to relieve the problem of unemployment. The Minister asked for suggestions, which I hope indicates that he is prepared to do something. I would make just one suggestion. There is no way in which work for the unemployed could be distributed better than by the provision of work on the roads. Our first-class roads are in fairly good condition. I would say that they are as good as any roads in Europe. The second and third-class roads are by no means in good condition, and I would suggest to the Minister that £2,000,000 could readily be raised on the strength of the Road Fund, and that that money would carry out a scheme for improving these roads, and would provide relief on a national scale for our unemployed people. In every town and village relief could be provided in that widespread way. I hope the Minister for Industry and Commerce will give some consideration to that suggestion and that, as a result of the debate, and of the Minister's own appreciation of the gravity of the unemployment problem, we shall have, at the earliest possible date, a definite declaration of the Government's detailed plans for dealing with unemployment and with our agricultural and industrial development. I am glad to have the assurance of the Minister that he accepts the basic Christian principle that it is the duty of the Government to provide work or maintenance for the unemployed.

Does the Minister accept that? The Minister has not stated that.

Always did.

The success of the Government will be judged by the measure of success which attends their efforts to provide work for the people. If other difficulties cannot be surmounted, I hope the Government will see that, no matter what the cost may be, our unemployed people are saved from the poverty and from the starvation which must inevitably follow in the wake of long continued and widespread unemployment.

It is difficult for this House to realise that the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who spoke here to-night, is the same man who thundered forth, when he sat on these benches, about the various remedies that his Party had up their sleeve to deal with the unemployment problem. He was very meek and mild this evening. We heard a great deal about world depression, but when we, from the opposite benches, ventured to speak of world depression, it carried very little weight with Deputy Lemass. The Minister in his opening remarks made one very important admission. In introducing this motion, Deputy Morrissey said that unemployment had become much worse than it had ever been. The figure of registered unemployed given by the Minister to-night at 31,000 shows an increase since last July of over 9,000. There are 9,000 more workless people on the roll to-day than there were then. Since the Government came into office, there appears to be in the City of Dublin— I do not know what the reason is—a perceptible slackening off in all endeavour and development. We have now in power a Government which accepts the responsibility of providing work or maintenance for the unemployed. They accept that as a State responsibility. I am glad they accept it as a State responsibility. Speaking on behalf of the harassed ratepayers of the City of Dublin, who are paying an annual contribution of about £250,000, I hope that one of the first acts of the new Ministry will be to remove portion of this stupendous burden from the overburdened ratepayers who are barely able to pay their own rents.

Just as they were relieved by the last Government.

Mr. Byrne

The Minister stated that, in his opinion, one of the first things necessary was the removal of the Oath in order to restore a state of peace, so that industrial development might proceed. I venture to take an entirely different view from the view expounded by the Minister here. I suggest that there is a feeling of insecurity and lack of confidence in the country and that that has increased the number of unemployed by 9,000, the figure which the Minister himself admitted in his speech.

In the event of any misunderstanding, might I say that that increase has not taken place since the change of Government.

None of it.

Mr. Byrne

In July last, we had 21,000 unemployed. Now we have 31,000.

We had also 31,000 at the end of February.

Mr. Byrne

We had, in the past, the present Leas-Cheann Comhairle, Deputy Hogan, talking about the giving of uncovenanted benefit as in England and about all these grandiose schemes which should be introduced to assist the unemployed. I wonder if the new Minister for Industry and Commerce is going to provide uncovenanted benefit in the Free State. He talks about doing something for unemployment by way of unemployment insurance——

Are you demanding uncovenanted benefit?

Mr. Byrne

One of the things that we did when we were the Government was to relieve the burden on both capital and labour by reducing the contributions of both.

A Deputy

And relieving the unemployed by sending them to the South Dublin Union.

Let the Deputy make his speech.

Mr. Byrne

Deputy Davin is very hot, but he knows there was no reduction whatever in benefits under the last Government. If the Minister for Industry and Commerce is correctly reported in the Press, by one of these grand schemes which are in course of preparation, we are going to have the burden on capital and labour not diminished but increased. That is the solution for unemployment which the Minister for Industry and Commerce has furnished to the House. Nobody will say that since the Government came into office we, on these benches, have acted in an unreasonable way. We did not, and do not, expect a ready-made solution of the problem to-night, but we did expect, in view of the promises which, in the main, secured the return of the Party on the opposite side at the election, that some alleviation of the conditions of the unemployed would be forthcoming, that some immediate help would, as Deputy Morrissey suggested, be provided instead of putting the solution, as the Minister did, on the long finger.

We have read in the papers during the past few weeks of the condition of the unemployed. We have read of wholesale ejectments and of people being put out of their little holdings after 23 years occupancy. What are these people going to do while the Minister for Industry and Commerce is formulating his long-period solution of the unemployment problem? I suggest that the solutions put forward here by those who are now the Government were, as Deputy Norton said, illusory solutions. Deputy Norton dealt very effectively with one industry—the boot and shoe industry. He told the House that it had cost the consumer over £2,000,000. The President intimated in the last unemployment debate that that was one of the industries in which he hoped to find work for over 5,000 additional hands. It is clear that the allies do not see eye to eye on that particular method of solving the unemployment problem. If this motion is put to a division, I hope these seven good men and true, who voted against our relief motion for £250,000 last Christmas, will go into the Division Lobby and show their disapprobation of the new Ministerial policy, as expounded in this House. We did not expect a great deal from the new Government. They have been only a few weeks in office. But we did expect something. I was listening to a Labour speaker in this city a few weeks ago. He said that the Government had only been a short time in power and that it would be unreasonable to expect them to produce a solution of the unemployment problem in that time. But he said that if the Government were in earnest they would, although only a short time in office, have done something for the unemployed by way of giving increased benefits. What the Minister intends to do is to find any benefit he can by a fresh imposition upon capital and labour. The President told us in the last unemployment debate that there was no country in the world in which an easier solution of the unemployment problem could be found than this country. There has not been a single bit of progress made since the President took office, although his Party have no doubt been considering this problem for years. I expected that we would have made much more progress and that we would have heard of much more detailed schemes from the Minister for Industry and Commerce. If no solutions are to be put forward until we get the Budget, the outlook for these unfortunate people who are looking for the rent is not very hopeful. Dublin Corporation could do very effective work if the Minister for Finance was in a position to give them £100,000. The foreshore at Clontarf needs improvement and if that £100,000 was given by the Minister for Finance, it could be expended reproductively. I want to say on behalf of the workers of the city that they would appreciate a great deal more, however small, the wages they would earn than the money which they receive by way of poor law relief, which is the only form of relief that they at present receive.

[An Ceann Comhairle resumed the Chair.]

The Government have undertaken the responsibility of finding either work or maintenance for the unemployed. I agree with what Deputy Norton said this evening with regard to the solution for unemployment propounded in this House by President de Valera. President de Valera told us that the cure for unemployment lies in supplying ourselves with the manufactured goods that we so needlessly import. Since the present Ministry came into power we have had one tariff, that on agricultural machinery, imposed. I wonder is that a tariff that will commend itself to the members of the farming community in this House? Will the farming community be content to pay on the importation of parts alone required for their machinery a sum amounting to something like £20,000? I do not wish to be unfair in my criticism in dealing with this question, but broadly speaking I think we may take it that the import of machinery to this country would run to something like £300,000. There may be some classes of machinery which come into that figure of £300,000 which are not covered by the recent tariff, but if we take it that the figure is £300,000 and that you have another 25 per cent. added to that, then the farmers of this country will probably be paying a sum of £120,000, which the new Minister for Industry and Commerce——

How much do you charge for the buckets and shovels?

Mr. Byrne

That buffoon, I wish you would allow me to make my speech. If that is one of the solutions for unemployment which the new Ministry have propounded to this country, I think they had better be careful in making these high boastful speeches about going to the country if there is opposition to this, that or the other. I want them to remember that they are not so secure in the saddle as perhaps they may believe. A 13,000 turnover of a preference vote is not a lot to turn the other way. Therefore, they had better toe the line and get on with the work or put up with the consequences.

Is that a threat?

Mr. Byrne

My opinion with regard to this unemployment problem is this, and I speak essentially as a Dublin Deputy, that the internal and the external policy of the new Government has been such as to create a feeling of insecurity and such a lack of confidence and such a shaking of financial stability that it tends not to cure the unemployment problem but considerably to accentuate it. I remember that at one of the last meetings that the Cumann na nGaedheal Party held at College Green I ventured to say that if the cast iron policy of indiscriminate tariffs propounded by the Party opposite were carried out in this country it would have the most disastrous consequences. I referred to two industries that particularly affect the people of Dublin City who sent me here to represent them. I referred to Messrs. Jacob and Company. I asked the question: If we have an indiscriminate policy of tariffs in this country what will happen to the 3,000 hands employed by Messrs. Jacob and Company, over 2,500 of whom are employed on the export trade of that firm? I pointed out that 500 of the total number would be sufficient to meet all the requirements of the home market. In this connection I may say that the home market seems to have got on the brain of Deputies in the Party opposite.

We have a brain.

Mr. Byrne

2,500 hands employed by that firm will be disemployed if the present tariff policy as outlined by the new Government is put into effect and if the great firm of Messrs. Jacob, which sends its products to all parts of the world, is adversely affected by the policy of the new Government. In making my speech at College Green, I also ventured to refer to the reactions of the tariff policy of the Party opposite on the great firm of Messrs. Guinness, which gives employment to something over 5,000 hands, a firm, too, which is also carefully watching events.

Is the Deputy authorised to speak for them?

Mr. Byrne

I am speaking as a representative of the City of Dublin.

Is the Deputy speaking for Messrs. Guinness?

He is speaking for the Bank of England and well he knows it.

Mr. Byrne

I am speaking on behalf of the workers of the City of Dublin however distasteful it may be to Deputy Davin. I am speaking here on behalf of the interests of Dublin City, and it is my duty to point out that the present policy of the Government Party means threatened disemployment in Dublin City of anything from 6,000 to 8,000 hands. That is the mode and that is the manner—that is the great panacea—the new Government have to offer for solving the unemployment problem. If there was one thing that helped to put the present Party in power—I have often told this to my own Party—it was this problem of unemployment. It was the workless man who went to the polls and voted against us in the last election. Therefore, the new Government have a special duty, as Deputy Morrissey has told them, not to put the solution of this problem on the long finger, but to give us something to be going on with for the present time at least.

The new Press has been teeming with all the plans and activities of the Government Party. We have read in the new Press day after day all the things that were going to be done, all the plans that were going to be carried out for the solution of the unemployment problem. The Minister for Finance, speaking to-night, had not a single answer to give to the House when asked if he had anything to offer on this subject. He said that some of the Ministers who would follow him would probably deal with it. Surely if the responsibility rests on any Minister it rests on his shoulders. The solution that the President of the Party is going to find is a development of the boot and shoe industry, which as Deputy Norton has already told us, is costing the consumers of this country something over £2,000,000. We are told that there is to be fresh employment in the wood-working industry, while we have no machinery in the country. The tariff imposed by the new Government will probably affect the imports of that machinery. If we in this country have got to develop an industrial policy we must proceed upon sound business lines. We cannot dream of imposing tariffs without suffering the reactions of those tariffs.

If this policy of indiscriminate tariffs is to be put into effect I want to ask members of the farming community in this House what will become of the £14,000,000 worth of livestock that we export annually to the English market? What happened in this country when the tobacco industry was set up here? Immediately a tariff was imposed in England and any exports that we sent to the English market were at once locked out. Do you think that Great Britain is going to hold up the cheek and say mildly "Yes, brother, strike me on the other"? In my opinion, you are immediately going to have a tariff imposed if this indiscriminate tariff policy of Fianna Fáil is carried into effect. Surely, as Deputy Norton has said, we ought to profit by the example of other countries. We are going to impose indiscriminate tariffs regardless of whether we can produce economically or not the various manufactured imports which come into this country. If we could produce any of the imports that at present are coming in on an economic basis I, as a business man, unhesitatingly say that we should proceed at the earliest possible moment to produce them, but if, on the other hand, we are going to have a levy of indiscriminate tariffs regardless of whether the production can be carried out economically or not, I say that is a policy that can only end in the national bankruptcy of this country. We have, as Deputy Norton properly remarked, many examples to guide us in dealing with this problem the magnitude of which the Minister for Industry and Commerce spoke of. I move the adjournment.

Debate adjourned to Friday, 22nd April, 1932.