Private Deputies' Business. - Relief of Rates on Agricultural Land.

Debate resumed on the following motion:—
That the Dáil condemns the action of the Government in reducing the total of the grants payable for the relief of rates on agricultural land. (Deputies Belton, O'Higgins and Minch).

The debate on this motion has covered a good deal of ground and has occupied a good deal of time. I would say at the outset that I hope that I will not occupy too long a time. Some of the avenues into which this debate has wandered have rather mystified the House and, perhaps, it would not be any harm if we came back to the motion and approached it from a non-Party point of view. Not having the advantage of belonging to either of the big Parties, I suppose they cannot accuse me of trying to secure Party gain from the motion. I would rather approach it from the standpoint of a humble farmer representing an agricultural constituency and seeking to examine it from that standpoint and also to make some comment on some of the assertions that have been made. The motion reads:—

"That the Dáil condemns the action of the Government in reducing the total of the grants payable for the relief of rates on agricultural land."

Why does the motion set that out? Why does it condemn the action of the Government? I should like to go back to the contribution of the Minister for Industry and Commerce at an earlier stage as reported in column 2157 of the Official Reports in which he said:—

"It is the duty of the central authority to help the farmers to weather this depression so that they will be able to take advantage of any trade revival that may come about with their productive capacity unimpaired."

I take the same ground with the Minister on that and I proceed to examine it from that standpoint. Has the central authority taken the situation seriously and has the central authority examined it from the point of view of giving those who are bearing the burden and the brunt of this economic depression, as he calls it, a chance to live? I believe that we are confronted at this time with one of the most serious economic situations in the memory of most of us in the Dáil. It is dignified by the name of an economic war. War is a thing in which we usually expect to have two conflicting armies dealing blow for blow, but so far as one can see, the blows in this case are all on the one side, or, at least, the blows that are given in retaliation are very weak. The reduction of the agricultural grant amounts to £448,000. Is this reduction reasonable? I think that anyone who examines it in the light of agricultural conditions will say that it is not reasonable for a number of reasons. First of all, those engaged in agriculture are less able to meet their obligations. That may be true in many countries and yet the blame need not be laid at the door of the Government, but in our case the Government, by its own act, has brought 99 per cent. of this situation upon us. They have taken away the farmers' market and the farmers' livelihood; they have destroyed his live-stock market and they have increased his production costs. I come from a county of small tillage farmers, and I think that if there is any county in Ireland that would delight the heart of the President it is surely ours. I had the opportunity this year of touring a good part of the Free State and—I do not know if my calculation is right, but taking a rough and ready calculation—I believe I could find more tillage in one mile of my own county than I could find in any five miles of any other county I passed through, so that it is not because we are ranchers that I am standing up here to fight the cause. It is because we are trying to take the most we can out of the soil and to produce all the food we can for man and beast and to have an exportable surplus.

Now we ask what is being done for us? What has the Government done for us to help us to weather this storm of economic depression that the Minister for Industry and Commerce mentioned? We are thankful to Providence that we have had a splendid harvest. We have had a fairly good crop and it is well saved. What is the prospect for us this winter? I say, and let us be under no mistake about it, that the farmer who uses his crop in the country is making the biggest contribution to the country's wealth. Without being disparaging to anybody else, I want to say that those who simply grow oats and sell it are not farmers in the true sense of the word. We grow these things to produce more, to produce the finished article. We have been producing pork, beef, eggs, butter and other agricultural commodities. What prospect have we of disposing of our products? I think the Minister for Agriculture on the last day on which we discussed this motion played a very poor role as advocate for the farmer. We looked to the Minister for Agriculture to plead our case. Yet he talked for nearly an hour and his main arguments were to prove that we were in fact better off than the farmers in almost any other country in the world and that if we were not really well off, if we were under any disadvantage, it was counterbalanced by the reduction of the annuities to one-half. Surely it does not take any great intelligence, either in this House or outside it, to know that we are considerably worse off. The annuities are merely a portion nowadays of the farmer's expenditure. If we are losing one million a month—and that is a very low estimate of what we are losing in our markets—surely it cannot be counterbalanced merely by a reduction on one-half in our annuities.

Then, the Minister said that he was giving us this reduction. I think that statement was misleading. The Government at the present time are defaulting in the payment of the annuities to Great Britain and they are not raising out of the Central Fund the reduction that they are giving to us in the annuities. Half the annuities which it is proposed to collect now will cover the Government's obligation to the bondholder. The Minister for Agriculture gave us many figures to prove that we were much better off than farmers in other places. Surely no Minister in this House has ever given us such misleading figures as he gave us on that occasion. For instance, in regard to eggs, he told us that on the 4th November we were getting 1/8¼ here. Then he went away to 1931 and quoted the British market. We find that on that particular date in Northern Ireland, a district which follows agriculture much as we do here, in some districts eggs were worth 2/6 a dozen. He quoted the price of butter, but surely butter has not a market that is free here. It is bolstered up by the bounty, by restrictions, and it is selling at an artificial price. He instanced the case of sheep and said that sheep were really doing very well. This year I sold horny ewes at 15/- each. The same ewes in Northern Ireland were making 25/-. Then he instanced the case of fat cattle. Fat cattle have been averaging in the Dublin market from 18/- to 23/- or 24/- a cwt. In other markets outside here they have been averaging up to 30/-.

As regards pork and pigs, surely no greater fiasco has ever happened here than in regard to the pork trade. Take the case of our own town on the day on which the Minister spoke, not the last day but the previous day. On that day we had 800 pigs in the Monaghan Market, from one corner of Monaghan. The price for these pigs was from 37/- per cwt. back. On the same day in Northern Ireland for the best pigs it was 58/6, notwithstanding the fact that there was a bounty given to those who wanted to export our pigs. Then take the question of feeding costs and I should like to draw particular attention to that item. People do not realise what we are losing by the mixture which we are forced to use at present. I do not make any apology for comparing our price with the price charged in Northern Ireland because I live on the Border. Without looking for them, the prices are sent to me. In our town previous to any restriction on the import of maize, the price charged to us was the same as the Armagh price. We may take it that the price of ground maize per two cwt. bag was 10/-. In the case of the mixture which we now have to use, we will say that two-thirds of the bag is worth 6/-. Then a trader has to add one-third of oats at 6d. or 6½d. per stone— a total cost of about 2/8. Then he has to add the cost of procuring that, the cost of mixing it, the extra cost of grinding it and the result is that whereas the two cwts. of maize meal is being sold at 10/- over the Border, we are paying 13/- for our mixture. We are paying 3/- more for the mixture than the farmers in Northern Ireland are paying for maize meal and we are getting £1 per cwt. less for the pigs to which we feed that mixture. Surely the Minister for Agriculture with these conditions staring him in the face ought to be ashamed to tell the farmers that we are better off than the farmers in Northern Ireland. The people who are selling oats to-day are selling it at a very low price but the people who are feeding it are giving far more for it than for the maize meal. Our production costs have been increased and when we have our stuff ready for the market we get a very small price for it.

Take the case of cattle. I do not stand up to speak in this House about things of which I know nothing. On the 27th October last a friend and I marketed 20 cattle in Killalea fair in the County Armagh for the simple reason that there was no market for them in our own town. We paid £96 duty on them at the customs station. We paid that to get on the same footing as the farmer in Northern Ireland exposing his cattle, grazed on derating land, at the same fair. Will the Minister or any person in this House tell me that we were as well off paying our £96 on these cattle to expose them for sale there as the man who started off without paying any duty and who grazed his cattle on derated land? Only to-day I handed over a guarantee cheque to export ten cattle which will cost me £60. Will anyone tell me that I am on an equal footing with my competitor across the Border? The Minister says that I am recouped by the halving of the annuities. My annuities run into £60 per year and, therefore, I am out of pocket to the extent of the full annuity on these ten cattle. Of course, the Minister will say that I will get the bounty. We hope to get the bounty, but we have not got it on the cattle that we sold a month ago. It possibly will come in time.

Has the Deputy any doubt about it?

I do not say we shall not get it.

He is suggesting that he has.

I say it will come in time. I have not any doubt, but I can get people who have doubt—people who are waiting for months after having paid out their ready money, to get the other ready money back.

What bounty does the Deputy expect to get on the 24 cattle?

Thirty-five shillings on half of them and 15/- on the rest.

How has the Deputy to pay £96 on 24 cattle?

Take £6 on cattle with four teeth and £4 on cattle with two teeth.

How does that work out?

It would average, if they were equal, £5 per head. They were not equal, however. There were more cattle with four teeth than with two teeth. It works out at £96 and that is the duty I paid on 20 cattle.

On 20 cattle?

Yes. I have not suggested that the Minister will not send the bounty. It may come in time. In these days, however, money is not so plentiful that one can lie out of a considerable sum of money like this and not feel the need of it, because on every hand here is a demand for money. I merely mention these things to show some of the fallacies to which the Minister for Agriculture treated us on this day week. I do not suggest, and I never have suggested, that the Minister is determined to mislead the House. But, either he has not been informed of the real situation, or else he conveyed a wrong impression. I am giving concrete facts. I think the fair comparison to make is to compare our situation as farmers in the Free State with other farmers who are farming like us and I cannot get any nearer comparison than that of the counties which I have to look into every day, and I know the conditions there. It has been stated over and over again that they are not rolling in wealth in the Six Counties. Is it not all the worse for us that they have to bear the brunt of the decline in world conditions and prices? If we are 40 or 50 per cent. worse off, is it not all the worse for ourselves?

In regard to the question of rates, I have not to trouble making assertions that I had nothing to do with the non-payment of rates. It is a thing I never interfered with. I always advocate that when people can pay their just debts they should do it rather than be looking for loopholes. I am responsible for the payment of rates on a number of farms and I can tell the Minister that these rates are paid for the last half year. But there are people in whose confidence I can trust who are thinking seriously of whether they will be able to pay their annuities or the coming rates. Their funds are depleted. They seem to think that the Minister for Agriculture has forgotten us and that he has quit our cause. We are not suppliants for charity or the dole. We are here as responsible people carrying on the basic industry of agriculture, and we hold that if agriculture is not right nothing else in this country can be right. To take away our power to pay our rates, to raise our rates because of increased services and other things, and to reduce the Agricultural Grant by £500,000 is surely neglecting the interests of those who are working hardest in the country. The Minister for Finance, of course, has his own troubles to make his budget balance, but we have taken it very seriously to heart that the Minister for Agriculture should have deserted us; that he should have, during the last two weeks, deliberately gone out of his way to try and convince us that we are better off than we were before he took office. If I might put it that way, he has taken one eye out of our heads and told us we are far better with one. If he believes what he has told us it proves that our confidence in him has been misplaced. He has given figures which have been confusing to most of us. He has gone back a couple of years. We do not expect to get the prices of some years ago for our stock. All we want to get is the full market price to-day and to have a chance of getting it. If we are not going to get it, then do not make it harder for us by reducing the contribution towards the reduction of our rates. The summing up of the situation by the Minister for Agriculture shows that he is put ting his faith in wrong things and that he is willingly allowing himself to be misled. If he believes in what he said, all I can say is that, as Minister for Agriculture and the representative of the chief industry of the State, he is as hopeless in the job as Moses Primrose at the fair of Wakefield.

We have listened to a very interesting speech from Deputy Haslett, a speech which was full of first-hand information, a speech of a man who can speak from his own personal knowledge and who, from that personal knowledge, can compare the condition of the farmer in the Twenty-Six Counties and in the Six Counties. Deputy Haslett's figures have been rather striking. I do not think they have come as any surprise to any Deputy who has taken a serious interest in the agricultural condition of this State. There is, however, one thing about Deputy Haslett's speech which rather surprised me and that was his statement that he is rather disappointed that the Minister for Agriculture was taking very little interest in the well-being of the farmers. It surprised me that it has taken Deputy Haslett so long to make that discovery, because surely anyone who has listened to the Minister for Agriculture addressing this House must have had it driven in upon him that the Minister does not consider the agriculture needs of this country except in so far as he thinks he can identify them with the political advantages of his own Party.

The Minister for Agriculture is not making any serious endeavour to benefit the Irish agriculturist. The Minister for Agriculture, in his speeches and in his actions, is doing nothing else than seeking how he can, even for the time being, to buy votes for the Fianna Fáil Party. We heard a speech from the Minister for Agriculture which occupied portion of two days. Part of that speech he devoted to defence, part to attack. I shall deal now shortly with both his defence and his attack.

His defence amounts to this—that the economic war was not doing the farmers any harm. Then he proceeds to produce figures. In the very middle of them he admits, out of his own mouth, that so far as sheep farming and cattle farming are concerned, the economic war is doing us very grave harm. He starts off with a proposition. He brings forward arguments, as he said, to support that proposition. Then he gives us figures dealing with the two main sources of agricultural wealth—cattle production and sheep production. He admits, as he has to admit and as no cooking of figures could possibly hide, that this State is suffering, and suffering desperately heavily, from the effects of this economic war. That fact is so clear, so apparent, so well-known to every person who owns a single head of cattle, grazes a single head of sheep, rears a single pig or even owns a humble hen that lays a few eggs, that it does surprise me that the Minister for Agriculture or any other member of the Fianna Fáil Party should have, I shall not say the courage, but the audacity, to get up in his place in this House and make a statement which to the knowledge of every person in this House and to the knowledge of every person who follows the debates of this House, is not in accordance with the facts.

The Minister tells us, of course, that he has got certain great schemes for the improvement of the lot of the Irish farmer. He has got his wheat scheme. We do not hear so much at present about that sorry wheat scheme. I await with interest the figures of wheat production even in this favourable year. In his other scheme, dealing with oats, it must be admitted that he has failed. And for what reason? He has failed for this reason—that he is not aware, seemingly, that there is only one way in which an oats crop can be used. That is, by feeding live stock with it. If you kill your market for live stock you are killing your market for oats. It must be so. After all, oats is not what one would call a "finished article." It is the raw material of animal feeding and nothing else. If you make conditions such that animals cannot be properly fed on oats, then, of course, the market for oats tumbles down to absolutely nothing. If the Minister for Agriculture were in his place during this discussion, which deals with agricultural matters, I should like to ask him how does he think that the breakdown of the horse-breeding industry, which he and his Government has brought about, affects the market for oats. I do not believe that you could get a collection of men in Ireland who know so little about farming or agricultural conditions as the Government Front Bench. I wonder if a single member of the Government Front Bench or if the solitary occupant of that bench at present would make even a wild shot as to how many acres of oats and hay it takes to keep a hunter in the stable for a year. I should like to hear the solitary occupant of the Government Front Bench interject some figure, but I am positive that the solitary gentleman who is sitting over there like a pelican in the wilderness will say nothing. In order that he may carry away something of value to him, that he may at the next meeting of the Executive Council give them a little bit of practical information, I shall tell him that the calculation made by the best authorities is that it takes something like four acres of average land to keep a single horse——

I thought that your Party did not believe that Irish oats were good enough for Irish horses.

Our Party believe that Irish horses should be fed on the very best, that the proper thing for us to do is to turn out the best finished product. I am glad that, at last, I have succeeded in getting the Minister for Education to break his silence. It takes four acres under hay and oats to provide for one hunter during a season. Consider what that means. If you break down, as you have broken down, the Irish horse-breeding industry, then you break down successful tillage, regarded even by itself. We had a short time ago some of the very best animals in this country. Those are being steadily brought out of the country. I do not suppose that the Minister for Education knows that some of the best-known horses have been removed from the country. Stratford, Trigo, Soldennis, and others have gone. The presence of those three horses meant that 90 mares were being fed here. How much land is put out of cultivation here by reason of those 90 mares being fed in England? How much does that affect the growing of oats and the market for oats here, leaving out of account altogether the number of stable men and stable boys who are flung out of employment by the breakdown of the horse breeding industry? There is where the Minister for Agriculture is. I think he must be wilfully blind, because I cannot understand any man being blind without being wilfully blind when the matter is so plain and clear as this matter is.

There is only one way in which you can farm at least three-quarters, perhaps more than three-quarters, of this country and that is by the production of live stock and live-stock products. Nobody can now have any doubt as regards the wisdom of the policy which was put forward by the former Minister for Agriculture, now Deputy Hogan, the policy which was summed up in the jingle: "One more cow and one more sow and one more acre under the plough." Nobody can now doubt that that is the only sound and possible method of farming successfully in this country. By all means till as much as possible. That has always been the policy preached from this side of the House, but till in order that you will consume the produce of your tillage on your own farm. Produce your tillage and feed it to your live stock. That is the sound method of farming for much more than three-quarters of this State and that is the method of farming which the present Executive Council has rendered it absolutely impossible for the Irish farmer to follow. The net result is that you have poverty all over this State. I do not believe you can point out a single farm out of which the owner can make his livelihood. It was quite different a couple of years ago, but you have changed the whole economy and by your folly and your bungling, and now by what I must describe as your wilful default, you are keeping the farmers of this State in that reduced position.

This motion deals primarily, though it is spread out widely, with the relief of rates. We heard a bit of ethics, surprising even from Fianna Fáil. I am not often surprised at any new principle of morality that I hear from the Fianna Fáil Benches. They seem to have a new principle of morality almost every day in the week. The only thing is that it never happens to agree with the teachings of religion. I mean the Christian religion. It certainly does not happen to agree with the teachings of the Catholic religion. We have had a completely new morality preached here. "We did give you a definite promise that there was going to be derating; we pledged ourselves to that." That they do not deny. "We have broken our pledge." That they do not deny. "We have made promises and broken those promises and we glory in it, but we say, `Oh yes, we have lied to you, but we are justified in lying to you because we are giving you something else that we think you should like better!' " They say also, "Yes, we have not derated, but we have given you half annuities." The things stand on absolutely different footings. The pledge was definitely given by a Party standing for power and on that pledge, amongst other pledges, they were returned to power. That pledge has not been kept. Under what new principle of morality can you pledge yourself and get returned by the people on the strength and faith of that pledge and then you become the judges as to whether you are justified or not in breaking your pledged word?

What right have the Government got to put half annuities as against rates? Where is their authority for that? The farmers have suffered at the hands of the Government, not merely from the point of view of non-derating, but from the point of view of an increase of rates which this Government have brought about. Farmers have suffered in a great number of other ways. They have suffered the loss of the produce which they sowed by reason of the economic war. They have suffered far more than half their rates and that is a matter that cannot be controverted. Any gain they have got by the non-payment of half the annuities must not be put against the increase which they have to pay in rates. It must be put only as a fraction of the loss they have sustained by reason of the economic war. Let me look at it from another point of view. Let me take the Corn Bill. What does that mean? It means half a million extra on the staple food of the people. Take any protective measure you have brought in, increasing the price of articles to the farming community, whether it be clothing, boots, tobacco, tea, sugar, any of the hundred and one articles that you have taxed. All those things press upon the farmer, with no compensating advantage to him.

If, in the interests of industrial revival, you put taxes upon articles that the farming community must pay, then there must be some recompense made to the farming community out of public funds to make up to them for the extra amount which they are paying in the increased cost of necessary articles. I say that not as against rates, or even as against the losses in the economic war, but as a permanent recompense to the agricultural community for the increased prices that they have to pay for the articles they purchase, these half annuities should properly be put. As a measure of fair play and not out of charity or anything of that kind the agricultural community should not be burdened by any attempt, successful or otherwise, at industrial revival. Therefore, the argument, poor at the best, becomes wrong in fact, with the breaking of the pledged word of the Fianna Fáil Party that they would give complete derating. And they are merely not keeping that promise, but going the other way about and increasing the amount of rates by cutting down the agricultural grant. That cannot be met either in fact or in justice by any reduction which has taken place in the amount of the land annuities payment.

On that ground I may say that over a long period of time the Minister for Agriculture charged this Party with an organised effort to prevent the rates being paid. That statement is not in accordance with fact. This Party has never put forward the view that the rates should not be paid. I may say that I myself both from inside and outside this House and on more platforms than one have declared it to be my view that this country is greater than any Party; that it is the duty of every single person to look to the welfare of this country first; that no matter how incompetent the Government in itself may be; that no matter how it may muddle up the affairs of the country, the necessary services of this country must still be carried on and that in consequence the rates must be paid. I have made that clear myself in many speeches. As a matter of fact, I once told my own constituents that not only had I paid the rates myself, but I had paid the second moiety before it was actually due. That is the view which is the official view and the view held by every single member of this Party. Putting any view to the contrary and stating that any member of this Party holds any other view is to make a statement which is false in fact.

The Minister, however, went on to state that some members of this Party were prominent in refusing to strike a rate last year and insisted on having the matter brought into court. Why should they not have the matter brought into court? Why should they not have it litigated? What are courts for? Our courts are to do justice between private citizens and this State and to do justice between private citizen and private citizen. If private citizens, either in their own private capacity or as members and trustees for the ratepayers of the county, think that any injustice has been done, or that any illegality has been committed, they are perfectly entitled, and it is their duty to have that litigated in the courts of justice. That is what courts of justice exist for. When the Minister for Local Government and Public Health played the trick which he did play upon the county councils of this State, when the Minister for Local Government and Public Health allowed certain county councils—I think all the county councils of this State—to strike a rate and when, after that rate was struck, said to them: "you are not going to get the Government grant you got last year"; when the Minister had in that fashion deceived them and tricked them, then surely it was perfectly within the competence and perfectly within the legal rights of any member of any county council to have that question threshed out in open court as to whether that trick on the part of the Minister for Local Government was a trick which ought to be carried out inside or outside the law.

I do not care whether the courts decide that the Minister for Local Government had acted within his legal powers. That is quite a different question. Whenever there is a matter to be litigated in court, one side must win and one side must lose. But there was a matter there to be argued. That matter was argued and the decision of the courts was taken on it. For the Minister for Agriculture to get up here and to say that it is a wrong thing to suggest that any member of the community should have any single question where he thinks he is aggrieved, litigated in the courts, shows that the Minister for Local Government and Public Health has got a very strange view of what the relation of the Government is to the citizen. When the Minister gets up here and says in effect that it is a wrong thing for any citizen of this State to litigate a matter with the Government when that citizen thinks the Government has acted tyrannously and wrongly, then I say that that Minister has surely mistaken the powers and the duties of the Executive Council to the citizens of the country.

We have it here and it cannot be denied that the farming community has been brought down to a great state of poverty and has been brought there by the action of the present Administration. This motion put forward by Deputies Belton, O'Higgins and Minch does not go very far. It does not even say to the Government: "You made a definite promise and you gave a definite pledge—we are asking you to keep your word." To another Government, of course, an argument like that would be unanswerable. To a Government like this an argument of that nature I know carries very little weight. "You have broken your pledge." But what does that matter to them?

All the motion is asking here is not that the Government should keep their pledge. They are not even asked to do all that they promised. They are asked here, having definitely pledged themselves to do one thing, at least, to let matters remain as they were. They are asked not to alter things from what they were at the time they gave their pledge. They are asked not to go in the opposite direction to the direction in which they have pledged themselves to go. We get no answer. There has been absolutely no attempt at answering. That now is how the matter stands before the House. This Government by the course of conduct it is pursuing is doing infinite harm to the agricultural community. Yet it is going deliberately and in the teeth of this resolution to increase the burden flung upon the farmer and flung upon him by them. The farming community will not be fooled very long. The farming community are not likely to be taken in very long by some of these methods which the Minister for Agriculture has put into force. The farming community are not likely to tolerate for long the injuries inflicted on them by the Government.

The position now is that if a man has got oats at home and wishes to buy yellow meal, he has got to bring his own oats to the mill, sell it to the miller and then buy back his own oats from the same miller. If he wants yellow meal, having plenty of oats of his own, he has got to buy somebody else's oats and somebody else has to buy his oats before either of them can get the maize meal they need.

Can sane people for very long be compelled by methods of that kind by any Government to act so that obviously they must be making a loss? Can it be thought that any single farmer or any two farmers can be made rich by Farmer A being compelled to sell his oats to Farmer B through the medium of the miller, and Farmer A being compelled to buy Farmer B's oats himself through the medium of the same miller; that the farmers are going to get rich because one farmer sells his oats to another and buys back that other's oats, in both cases the seller getting less, and considerably less, by the amount of the miller's profits on what the buyer pays. It is by that ingenious method, if you please, that the Minister for Agriculture thinks he can induce farmers to believe that they are getting a market for their oats. The result is that the Minister has got his dumps of oats all over the State. He has got nobody to buy them, and we have got this precious scheme which has been well discussed on another occasion.

I think that if there is any sincerity in the Government at all they cannot refuse to accept this motion. If they have any sense of honour, if they believe that a man's word should be his bond, and if they believe, above all things, that when a Party pledges itself as a Party and receives consideration from the people and gets into power, and when the heads of that Party reap the benefit of their false promises, they should at least not turn round and, with a cynical disregard for all decency, not only fail to keep their word, but absolutely turn around and act diametrically opposite to the way in which they had solemnly pledged themselves to act. As I say, no self-respecting man could act in that fashion. No single self-respecting person, in my judgment at any rate, could support an Executive that acts in that fashion. We will see if even the Party loyalty of Fianna Fáil will induce them to follow the Government into the Lobby against this motion.

Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney need not have the slightest qualms as to the attitude of the Fianna Fáil Party on this issue because the Fianna Fáil Party are not in the unfortunate position of the Party opposite, which, having conducted a thoroughly disreputable campaign in the country for the past year or so, are now going before the country to wash their hands, and to tell us how contrite they are, to tell us that they never had any evil intentions as regards the non-payment of rates, and so on. In my own constituency I know that, so far back as last September twelve months, the campaign for the non-payment of rates, and, I think, of annuities also, was in full swing there although carried on in a subterranean fashion. But the House, since its reassembly has been treated to endless apologies from our friends on the other side. Nothing on earth could be further from their minds than to encourage anybody not to fulfil their legal obligations in the matter of the payment of rates. I think that our Party are in quite a different position, and Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney need not have the slightest doubt as to what their attitude will be on this particular question. If the Deputy could only bring his mind back to the period of the last general election he would realise that this question of derating versus a reduction of the land annuities, which was the policy put forward by the present Government to the electorate on that occasion, was fought out up and down the country. We had the very same type of speech then that we have had on this motion: that the Government were running away from their promises and, in particular, were running away from the promises they had given in regard to derating. But the Deputy must know that the country had an opportunity then of giving its verdict as to whether it was satisfied with the policy that the Government had put forward as an alternative to derating. The policy was put forward and was accepted by the country and the Deputy and his friends cannot forgive the country and cannot forgive the working farmers of the country for having given a majority to this Party on that occasion. Their sole purpose in public life since that vote was given to this Government has been to try to weaken and demoralise the farmers in this struggle.

The Deputy talks greatly of the farmers' difficulties, but he forgets what the policy of his Party was, when in office, towards the farmer. What was their policy in order to collect their £3,000,0000 of annuities for John Bull? They had the full forces of the law, with all the sheriffs and bailiffs working behind them, to drag that money out of the pockets of the Irish farmers to send across to John Bull, but now that that money is being kept in the country and is being spent for the benefit of the Irish people, these gentlemen have to find a new argument, and side by side with the campaign for the demoralisation and the weakening of the morale of our farmers they tell us that the present Government have no sympathy with the farmers in their difficulties.

Hear, hear!

Deputy Belton says "hear, hear." I hope that the farmers will never have to depend on a politician who has been able to change his principles so quickly as Deputy Belton.

Never. But you have changed them a dozen times.

Deputies opposite referred to the sorry wheat scheme. Why has not Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney attacked the beet scheme? Why has the Deputy not tried in his speech to throw the same amount of cold water on the beet scheme as on the wheat scheme? Perhaps the Deputy has his own constituency in mind. He is trying to nurse his constituency. He made no reference to beet, but he referred to the sorry wheat scheme.

On a point of explanation. I was following the Minister for Agriculture, who also made no allusions to beet. If the Minister wishes to hear my views, or to know my views on that he can read a speech that I delivered very lately.

That is the kind of constructive criticism, the kind of patriotism that we get from the Party opposite. That is the thing, we are told, that is going to appeal to the farmers. Well, no matter what the difficulties of the farmers may be, and they are many and great, I do not think they have yet reached the despicably low level that the Opposition places them at, or that they are prepared, in a struggle such as is on foot at present, to sell their country in order to please the Deputies opposite. The sorry wheat scheme!

The Opposition have done everything they could to throw cold water on the policy of tillage farming, on the only policy, I maintain at any rate, which offers any hope for the future, or affords any reasonable possibility of placing a larger proportion of our people upon the soil of our country. Of that policy that has been recommended by statesmen in every country and that statesmen in every country are coming back to, the Opposition, in their patriotism, can only say "the sorry wheat scheme." It means nothing to them, in a period like the present when this country must inevitably suffer some depression, must inevitably be visited by some repercussion of the world-wide fall in prices, that a Government in office, elected by the Irish people, is endeavouring, in spite of great difficulties, to alter the system and to keep all those millions of pounds, that we were sending to the foreigner every year, in an increasing proportion in circulation amongst our own people. The sorry wheat scheme! That is the kind of puerile and destructive criticism that, I say, is unworthy of the Opposition.

If we look across the water to-day, we will see British statesmen proclaiming that their intention is to make England—Great Britain—a self-contained country; that their intention is, as quickly as may be, to build up British agriculture in order to enable the British farmer to supply the entire requirements, as far as he can do so, of the British market. That policy, apparently, has no interest for the gentlemen opposite. They profess the keenest indifference to it. They forget to tell the Irish farmer that, so far as that particular market, about which they talk so much and which they continually harp upon, is concerned, whether we like it or not and whether the British Dominions as a whole like it or not, whether or not they are prepared to go out to-morrow to protest against it, a definitely new economic policy—a Sinn Féin policy— is in operation over there in England. The gentlemen opposite ought, at least, instead of harping upon the difficulties of the Irish farmers, to appreciate that situation and not mislead the people as they are endeavouring to mislead them into a belief that if they were in office to-morrow there would be some wonderful change, and that a treaty at Ottawa or something else like that would give back a market to the Irish farmer that would put him on the same basis of prosperity as he was on many years ago.

The gentlemen opposite know very well that for many years past that market has been declining. I am not going to waste the time of the House by reading the index figures to show how agricultural prices have declined in that market. The gentlemen opposite know it very well, and they know that if they pick up any farming or agricultural journal there is not a portion of England or of Scotland in which the farmers, and particularly the tillage farmers, are not crying out at this moment against the low prices, in spite of the fact that this policy of a gradual control of the entire British market in the interests of the British farmer is in operation at the moment. In spite of that fact, and of the fact that every day we have further quotas, further taxes and further restrictions of imports, not only from foreign countries but from every one of the British Dominions, we know that the British farmer—and the Opposition cannot deny it—are in a very sorry plight indeed, and say themselves that they are worse off than at any time within the remembrance of the present generation.

We are 40 per cent. worse off.

We are not 40 per cent. worse off. That is the kind of argument that Deputy Belton uses. He is as good a mathematician, sir, as his leader, Deputy Cosgrave, who, in order to tell us how much we are losing on the economic war, adds together the amount that is being paid in tariffs plus the amount this Government is paying in bounties. According to the reasoning of Deputy Cosgrave not alone are we losing the amount the British are collecting in tariffs, but the amount that our own farmers are getting from the bounties is a dead loss also. In order to get the total loss he adds these two items together, and instead of £2,500,000 or £3,000,000 you get £5,000,000 or £6,000,000. Of course, like the £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 of former years you can go on increasing it by geometrical progression until it will be as big as the sum of the famous financial agreement long ago.

Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney rings the changes on the statement that the farmers are getting no compensation for the policy of industrial protection, but he does not bring forward a single example, at any rate so far as manufactured articles are concerned, in support of his contention. It has been stated over and over again in this House that at the present moment, in spite of the fact that this policy is in operation for only a very short time, we are producing, as far as boots and shoes and clothing are concerned at any rate, not only as good a quality of article but as cheap articles as we could have got had the market been open to the dumpers of British shoddy. Gentlemen on the opposite side do not desire, I suppose, that these new factories and new industries should be closed down, and I should have thought that they would have been sufficiently ashamed of the attack that was made on the policy of protection when it was brought in here in the budget of 1932. Why, the country was threatened with national bankruptcy. As some speaker said, every six months we were to go bankrupt in this country. At that time we were to go bankrupt because it would have been absolutely impossible, we were told, for this country to produce the requirements that the Ministers for Industry and Commerce and Finance sought to have produced here under these tariffs. We were told that prices would rise enormously, but these arguments have been belied by the trend of prices, because there has been a steady fall in the cost of living and no evidence whatever has been forthcoming to show that there has not been a fall also in the price of manufactured articles.

If the Deputies opposite, instead of going around the country, as Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney has been doing, telling the farmers that they are suffering from increased prices as a result of tariffs, had a reasonable or a sound case, I venture to suggest that they should go to the Prices Tribunal and make their case there. If there are examples of profiteering, there is a way to deal with them; but at this hour of the day I think that the House should not be treated to such statements as those to which Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney has given utterance without some concrete support in the way of evidence. This Government has no appreciation of the difficulties of the farmers, we are told. We told the farmers that, so far as these moneys were concerned, we would give them the largest possible reduction in the charges for which they were liable to the State. We did give the largest reduction possible, and any money that will be collected in the future from the farmers in the way of annuities will be collected because it has to be collected in order to meet the charges under the 1923 Land Act.

If the Deputies opposite stand for the policy that farmers should pay no annuities and that the taxpayer, in addition to paying what he is paying already for social services and everything else, should pay the entire charges under the 1923 Land Act, I hope they will say so. But somebody has got to meet the minimum charges under that Act, and we have considered that the annuitants should meet these charges. We have considered that very carefully indeed. "The Government has no appreciation of the difficulties of farmers; has done nothing to compensate them for their losses; has made no effort to remedy the situation." I would remind Deputies, once more, that the reduction in annuities means that £2,000,000 that would have been collected from the farmers, if the late Government were still in office, every year for Great Britain, now remains in the pockets of the farmers; that as regards their annuities for a period of two gales they have been funded, and that the sum of one and a half millions in arrears which the late Government, if still in office, would have been dragging out of the farmers, is being funded; so that in addition to the actual reduction of £2,000,000 the sum of four and a half millions of arrears, which was a gripping burden upon the shoulders of the farmers in arrears, is being funded.

But the other farmers have paid that amount.

And in addition to that the agricultural community is still getting a reduction in rates, from the Exchequer, to the extent of one and three-quarter millions. According to Deputies opposite, something dreadful was done to the farmers when the agricultural grant was reduced. We must realise that, in the first place every year, until these moneys were kept in the country, those who had the audacity to put the Resolution on the Paper that we are discussing to-night, reduced this agricultural grant by £150,000 while the farmers were still paying their full annuities.

In 1931-1932, when the opposite Party were in office, they took £135,000 out of the agricultural grant to make up the deficit in the Guarantee Fund, so that John Bull would get every single penny. And these are the people who talk to-day of the difficulties of the farmers. They forget that every year that they dragged every penny in respect of these annuities out of the farmers they made substantial reductions, indeed, in the agricultural grant. The result was that last year the total paid in respect of the agricultural grant was £1,812,000, while this year the amount is £1,750,000, so that, as far as the actual amounts are concerned, when you take into consideration the fact that last year and previously these sums were withheld, there is no very substantial reduction in all the circumstances. It is something like £62,000, although the actual sum as it appeared on the Paper was £450,000.

The Opposition forget also that when the Unemployment Assistance Bill was brought in it took a very heavy burden off the shoulders of the farmers. The British Government, the wealthiest in the world, has not done as much as the Irish Free State Government has done in the matter of the new unemployment scheme now put into operation in both countries. The rural ratepayers, although losing the £450,000, are not asked to make any contribution. The urban dwellers and taxpayers are making the contribution for that directly as taxpayers and also as contributors under the insurance schemes. Under the Unemployment Assistance Act, although the amount contributed by the rural community is strictly limited, although the whole of that £450,000 is only a proportion of the total requirements, everybody knows we will have farmers' sons, and small farmers, up and down the country, working on the roads and so, too, coming in under that. And everybody knows that many thousands of able-bodied men and women who swell the figures of home assistance, of which the Opposition talk so loudly, will all be brought in under the new scheme and to that extent the farmers will be relieved. Therefore, the Government, I maintain, in spite of the Opposition, and the efforts they have made to demoralise the farmers, have successfully proved to the agricultural community as a whole, and to those who are really interested, and who really want to give the Government a chance, that we have not been negligent of whatever opportunities we have had in doing our duty to the agricultural community. The figures are very instructive—£2,000,000 reduction in annuities, £4,500,000 in arrears funded, and £1,750,000 in agricultural grants.

Again, the new unemployment assistance scheme of relief relieves the rural ratepayers of the burden of maintaining the able-bodied unemployed. In addition to that there has been very heavy and substantial expenditure in the way of grants towards education, for example, and towards housing and towards public health. Under each of these three heads the Government is giving far greater grants, if not in respect to individual cases, at any rate the gross total is certainly far greater now under the heading even of education, than it has been under our predecessors. But in addition to that, as I have indicated, you have housing schemes and public health schemes. Deputies opposite, when they talk of the reduction in the agricultural grant, conveniently forget the additions made for unemployment assistance, and the greater increase in State expenditure given in every county in the Saorstát in respect of housing and health schemes.

I do not think I need delay the House further. But I would remind Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney that when the question of Irish oats was first discussed in this House, and when a demand was made from the Fianna Fáil Benches for a tariff on foreign oats, we were told by Deputies opposite, and on the authority of a then Deputy for Westmeath, Mr. Shaw, that Irish oats were not suitable for Irish thoroughbreds and at any rate for Irish racehorses. Now Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenny is anxious about the four acres of oats that he says will be required to feed every Irish hunter and he is afraid that we may lose these few acres. If the Deputy, and his Party, were really patriotic and had a real appreciation of the situation, I venture to say that instead of wasting the time of the House and the country, in making these gloomy speeches and indulging in these moanings and wailings that have no reflex amongst the good Irish national farmers in the country, they would set out to support this Government, as the people of the United States, and the people of Great Britain and every other country to-day are supporting their Governments in the present juncture to build up a self-contained, a self-reliant and comfortable and contented country.

I did not intend to intervene in this debate as I think that the action of the Government will bring its own condemnation, but I should like to refer to a few statements made by the Minister for Agriculture when dealing with this motion on Wednesday evening last. The consolation which the Minister for Agriculture offered to the farmers whom he has brought to the verge of starvation was that if there was a reduction in prices here there was a similar reduction in prices in Great Britain. It is cold comfort for the farmers here that their neighbours across the water are badly off, but apart from that he did not mention to the farmers here that they have to bear 40 per cent. tariff on the prices. He quoted, from I think the journal issued by the Department of Industry and Commerce, the prices prevalent during the past six or eight months. In his quotations he reminded me of the poor woman down the country who had a pig at the fair. A buyer came up and she asked him "What price are pigs to-day?" He said "They are 50/-," and she replied "Oh, the paper is paying 56/-." If the poor farmers could go by the paper they would be a little better off, but unfortunately they have to face hard men in the buyers, and have to face a competitive market.

To come to the prices, I shall only instance one case of a neighbour of mine in West Cork who had six yearling cattle for sale. Those six cattle are as famous as the Clonmel heifers. He was not offered a price for them at any fair, so he decided to send them to the British market—the market of which the President said "Thank God it is gone, it was no good." Those six cattle realised in Glasgow—and the figure is authentic, as he shipped them through the Cork Farmers' Union— £44 7s. 6d. His net return was only £5. The cattle realised almost £7 10s. a head—a good price. There was a tariff of £28 on them. Freight and insurance were normal. If this £28 were added to the £5 it would give him a profit of £33, which would be profit out of which that man could afford to pay the rates and annuities which he had to pay—but he is deprived of that. That case is known through the country. As I say, those six cattle have become as famous as the Clonmel heifers.

Why is it that this motion has been tabled? Why has this year, above any other year, been chosen by the Government to reduce the agricultural grant by £500,000? Why is it that they have, owing to their policy while in office, deprived the agricultural community of their means of livelihood and endeavoured to change the whole economic situation? As I said here in this House once before, we had established a condition of affairs here under which we were able to produce certain commodities that we could beat the world on. We produced butter, beef, bacon, eggs and poultry. We produced also wheat, potatoes, oats, barley, mangolds and turnips. We fed those to our cattle. As a result we walked those commodities to the market, through our fat pigs, bonhams, cattle, poultry and so forth. We have been deprived of the market for those commodities and we have been told to grow wheat and to grow beet. I have nothing to say against the production of beet nor the production of wheat, but at the present time when the market value of wheat is 17/6 a bag of 20 stone—bolstered up by the Government bounty it would be about 23/6—we are faced with a rate that is heavier than the rackrents which our grandfathers had to face 100 years ago. A hundred years ago, when they were rack-rented and had no rates to pay, they were getting £3 a bag for wheat. We are supposed to pay a rate greater than the rackrent which our grandfathers paid to the landlord, and to pay it out of the price of wheat at 17/6 a bag. Those are the conditions to which the Government have brought the farming community through their foolish, mad policy.

They have also compelled us to change our system of feeding. In my own constituency recently a mill-owner told me that he was able to buy maize at £4 10s. a ton. After grinding that maize he could sell it at £6 a ton. The farmers were compelled to sell oats at £5 and come and buy their oats back mixed with maize at £7 4s. a ton. That is an increase of £1 4s. a ton that the farmer has to pay for a job which he could do much better himself. There is no miller or anybody else who would know how to mix the stuff as well as the farmer. There is a pig feeder in my town who is, on that particular thing alone, losing £800 a year. Not alone is he losing that directly but owing to the feeding value being inferior he is losing more time in the production of his pigs. That £800 a year would be distributed amongst the producers of young pigs through the country, and he could afford to pay a better price to producers of the young pigs. When the Government were seeking office they promised full derating of agricultural land. They also promised to withhold the annuities. They have withheld the annuities, but at this terrible cost. This is the derating that they give us. This is the promise fulfilled! Instead of giving us derating they reduce the amount of the agricultural grant by half a million pounds. Where are the farmer Deputies on the Fianna Fáil Benches?

They are here.

Deputy Kelly is one of the farmer Deputies on the Fianna Fáil Benches!

Mr. Kelly

I will answer for them.

That is another one of the ridiculous statements. However, I will not say any more about that. The Deputy is a representative of the agricultural community. He knows all about it. The other Deputies are not here. I doubt if there is a farmer amongst the Fianna Fáil Deputies who will go to his constituency and tell the farmers, as the Minister for Agriculture stated, that they are as well able to pay their rates now as they were two years ago. That was tried by Deputy Corry. I do not see him here now. The Deputy tried it in his constituency a few months ago, after the start of this debate, but he is not here now. He made a speech about it then. The Deputy will not make any further references to it in East Cork. A great deal has been said about a conspiracy not to pay rates. There is no such thing on the part of the farming community. The Minister for Education referred to the demoralisation of the farmers. It is the Minister's Party that has brought about demoralisation, because the credit of the farmers was sound until this Government came into office. Farmers always paid their way and paid 20/- in the £. They were able to pay it. They always paid their rates and their annuities. It is only when this Party came along and preached: "Pay no rates; pay no annuities"—publicly preached dishonesty—that there has been any demoralisation. It is they demoralised the farmers, if there is any demoralisation. The farmer is an honest man, and a decent man, too, and he is going to pay his way, when we get another Government into office that will bring back our markets and restore prosperity. The farmer will then pay 20/- in the £. The Minister for Education should be ashamed to talk about demoralisation, because it is he and his Party that preached and brought it about. The actions of the Government would bring about their condemnation without any motion of this kind being tabled. That condemnation is growing and when the next election comes this Government will realise the mistake they made—when it will be too late. However, it will be a lesson for this country when, once and for all, we get rid of this Government. We have been taught a lesson —probably we deserve it—but we will be rid of them and we will be able to restore normal conditions.

I am supporting this motion. The action of the Government in reducing the total of the grant payable for the relief of rates on agricultural land has had a two-fold effect. In the first place it brought about the impoverishment of the Irish farmers by depressing our main industry; and secondly, it brought about a corresponding depression in the towns and cities. Speaking as a representative of a borough which embraces a city population and a large agricultural or farming population and as one having almost daily contact with farmers in that area, it has been represented to me by most of those farmers that never in living memory have they experienced, or has that important industry experienced, such depression. When listening to the Minister for Education, who deputised for the Minister for Agriculture, I was struck by the unbounded optimism and the exaggeration of the Minister in relation to what he led us to believe was the wonderful prosperity of the Irish farmers! He recited a regular litany of the grants given in relief of agriculture. But no matter what Government functioned in this country for the last year and a half they would be compelled of necessity to come to the relief of agriculture in some way, owing to the economic depression that is admittedly world-wide. What I want to suggest is that we went out of our way to increase that depression. If we were any way logically minded there should be no necessity to emphasise that phase of our present economic situation. What do we find? Our former markets, the Minister for Education said, were gone, or almost gone and in support of that he made the astonishing statement that Great Britain was increasing her agricultural output. Anybody who knows anything about conditions in Great Britain, particularly in what is left of the agricultural areas, must know that so long as Britain continues to be mainly industrial, she can never make even a feeble attempt to feed one-fourth of her population. But this Government, whose mouthpieces tell us that our markets in England are gone, are paying away millions of the taxpayers' money in order to get into these markets. In effect they say: "We do not want your market," but they are paying to get into them. Did anyone ever hear of such lunatic legislation in any country in the world?

Owing to the lop-sided economics of this Government we have a situation created whereby our main producers, as I have endeavoured to show, are reduced almost to bankruptcy, a class that was at one time regarded as one of the most honest and decentest in the country. They now find themselves reduced to the position that they cannot pay their lawful debts. Because of this economic dispute they cannot pay their rents. Those who sympathise with them are told they are defeatists, Imperialists, and that they are helping John Bull. But, no matter what epithet may be applied to those who are honest enough to tell the Irish farmers that most of their ills are due to the activities of the present Government, honest men will be found in this country—even at the risk of being told that they are defeatists, Imperialists, anti-Irish or playing John Bull's game —to say what they believe; that the facts, as we find them, go to show why farmers to-day are depressed, impoverished, and unable to meet their legal obligations. In addition to the illustrations given as to the depressed state of agriculture I could produce documentary evidence in a number of cases to prove my statement. I am not going to weary the House, because we had a most convincing statement from Deputy Haslett, who gave facts that cannot be contradicted. Therefore, I propose to cite only one instance and to produce any evidence that the Minister may require. I have seen these dropped calves quoted in the official journal issued by the Department of Agriculture from time to time at £2 10s. to £3 10s. and I know that the price realised at the public markets in Cork are from 5/- to 10/-, and it must be a very good calf for 10/-. A farmer in my constituency recently sold a calf through the agency of the Cork Farmers' Union and he got the large sum of 1/3 for it by the time the tariff had been deducted and so on. I will produce the necessary documents for the Minister if he requires them.

He ought to get some other agency to sell his live stock.

He ought to seek another Government to live under.

In addition to that, we have a quite recent addition to the farmers' ills. Anybody who knows anything at all about rural life must know that for many months preceding the Christmas, the farmers' wives and daughters engage in rearing a good deal of poultry for the British market. The turkey brought in the annual Christmas box, shall I call it, to the farmer's family and in many cases, it liquidated all the expenses of the Christmas dinner. Now that industry has got another slap. We find that in her efforts to get into the English market the farmer's wife or daughter who rears these fowls is very severely handicapped. In this connection, I want to ask a question which I have frequently asked myself and with the answer to which I have never yet been satisfied. The question has been put to me: "Who gets the advantage or advantages of these bounties?" The farmer tells me that he does not get the advantage and the dealer, on the other hand, tells me that he does not get the advantage. Where does it go? I understand, and I have endeavoured to explain to many farmers, that the dealer when buying his beast at a fair is supposed to include in the price he pays to the farmer the tariff which he must pay when he exports the produce into the British market. The farmer is still unconvinced and tells me that in many cases where he paid £9 for a beast six, eight or nine months ago, he had to sell it quite recently at £6 to £7, showing a direct loss of £2 or £3. If the rosy picture painted by the Minister for Education, speaking, I dare say, on behalf of the Minister for Agriculture, were circulated around my area in Cork and Cork County, I feel sure that it would provoke very serious thought in the minds of many of the farmers. To endeavour to persuade a man who is almost bankrupt and who cannot meet his legal obligations—let his intentions be ever so good—that he got relief under the various headings read out by the Minister for Education to-night would certainly provoke the remark that he could not be much worse off than he is now and the question: "Did anybody expect that he could exist if some kind of relief were not given to him?" But, as I suggested a moment ago, any Government that would have operated in this country over the last 12 months or so would of necessity have to give relief of some kind unless we were to have an absolute breakdown in our agriculture altogether.

We have, as I said a moment ago, the repercussions and reactions in the cities and towns. We have at the moment very large numbers of able-bodied unemployed persons who cannot get work. These, as I have attempted to show, have been rendered unemployed by the absurd economic policy of the present Government. These persons are now about to get some kind of relief because, again, there was the dire necessity for it, because it was found that the unemployment insurance scheme could not stand the strain. It was also found that as a result of the facts I have just related, the St. Vincent de Paul and other charitable organisations were at the end of their tether and were appealing for still further funds. Anybody who has any connection at all with that organisation or anybody who takes an interest in social welfare work must know that I am underestimating, if anything, the present state of affairs in the towns and cities in this country. As a result of the action of the Government in reducing the grants for the relief of rates on agricultural land, we have numbers of persons who usually found fairly remunerative employment at our docks and riversides unemployed. We have dockers unemployed at the moment—a type of worker who is suffering from abnormal unemployment. We have many persons engaged in the cattle trade unemployed and most, if not all, of these persons were brought up to these particular occupations, and are unfitted for any other kind of work. We have such people as cattle drovers, for instance, and others who usually made a good living, unemployed. These men have got no alternative employment no more than our Government has found us the alternative markets.

We were told that we had a home market to cultivate. So far as I can learn we have nearly exhausted all the resources of that home market. If there are alternative markets, I want to ask the Minister for Agriculture or the Minister for Finance if those alternative markets are to be found in China, in Peru or in Kamschatcha or if he will name the place or places where these alternative markets are to be found. Somebody said in this House, by way of irony, not long ago, that we might find a market for our produce in China. We, of course, might be able to make them eat good beef instead of feeding on rice and we might be able to change them from a purely vegetarian race to a beef-eating community. Our Government has seen fit to demand of the farmer that he should change his whole system of agriculture. There is a good deal to be said for increased tillage—for the one pig more, the one cow more and the one acre more—but the fact that they are compelled without any preliminary warning as it were—at least, not sufficient, at any rate—to make these revolutionary changes is unfair and unjust to the Irish farmer. But even granted that they had all the preparations and had made this complete change suggested by Government policy, they ask naturally: "If we increase our tillage, increase our feeding stuffs and feed them to our own cattle, the natural corollary is that we must have more cattle to continue the increased products of our farms. Where are you going to sell your increased cattle?" The home market will not absorb all of them and we will continue to have an exportable surplus of cattle even under the Government scheme.

The farmer, as I said a few moments ago, who was able formerly to pay his debts and meet all his obligations, is not at the present moment able to do so. Personally, I have never preached the immoral doctrines I have heard preached by Government spokesmen. They began with the cry: "Pay no land annuities," and it is rather late in the day now to be talking about the morality of that. I have all the time said that it was an immoral doctrine. A question that might have been easily settled by a round table conference was approached in quite a bandit-like way by putting a pistol to the head of the other fellow and saying: "We are not going to pay." That has more to do with the demoralisation that has set in than any other factor. If there is any demoralisation amongst the people the Government are responsible for it. They said: "Pay no land annuities." I have suggested, and suggested quite seriously, mind you, though I am sometimes given to joking——

Never in your speeches.

——that you would have succeeded more quickly and more easily by inscribing upon your banner: "Pay nobody." That is what it is coming to. That is the result of the immoral doctrines, economically and politically, preached by Ministers and their supporters on the other side.

I hope they pay us anyhow.

That, I suggest, would be a far more honest policy because then we would know where we were, but we have got that policy of dishonesty in small instalments. This demoralisation has been creeping in and is having its effects in a thousand and one directions. It is having its effects on many of the younger people in the country who have lost all respect for law and order and who give, as a justification for many of their misdeeds, the fact that they heard it from Government platforms. This motion suggests that the action of the Government in reducing the total of the grants payable for the relief of rates on agricultural land should be condemned. I have not heard one word from any Minister refuting the statements made by Deputies on this side of the House. We have heard a lot of high falutin' statements about what this Government has done. We had one from the Minister for Industry and Commerce a few weeks ago when he told us about all the factories that had been started and all the employment that had been given. Yet we find that the position is infinitely worse than it was 12 months ago.

Has the Deputy any proof of that statement?

If the Minister would come with me any day—I will not stage it for him—on a visit to Cork City and look at the numbers of people who come trooping up to my house daily whilst I am at home, and ask these people who have to line up at the unemployment exchanges what they think about the statements made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce or ask some of the agriculturists, particularly the agricultural labourers, who in many cases are working for their keep without any wages—and I ask any of the farmer Deputies here to-night if that is not a fact——

The blessing in disguise.

That condition I am reminded by Deputy O'Leary—the loss of markets, this cutting of the painter with Britain, politically and economically but particularly economically— was called a blessing in disguise. I do not know what a curse in disguise would be like if this impoverishment of the Irish agriculturist, the agricultural labourer, the city labourer, the docker and the cattle drover is called a blessing in disguise. If it is a blessing in disguise I do not want any blessings, in disguise or otherwise.

The Minister for Education worked himself into a state of great excitement in regard to statements made from those benches. He stated that they went to the country and that they were returned by the farmers, but he did not tell the House that they were returned under false pretences. They told the farmers when they went before them that they would reduce taxation by £2,000,000, but instead they increased it by £6,000,000. They told them further that if returned with a majority over all parties in this House, they would succeed in settling the economic war. That showed clearly that they thought then that it was important for this country that the economic war should be settled. They told them that they would find employment for the 80,000 unemployed. What does the Minister say to-day in regard to that? He says that they have to make provision for home assistance and for an Unemployment Assistance Bill for these people. Deputy Norton at the time the Government were elected said that if they did not fulfil their promises to the people, he would have them out of office in 24 hours. I do not want to dwell at any great length on this aspect of the case. It has been referred to often before but you cannot tell the truth too often.

You do not try to.

I will give you a good whack of it before I am finished. I have great pleasure in supporting this motion. I should just like to quote a a few words from the speech made by the Minister for Agriculture last week, as reported in Vol. 50, page 144, of the Official Debates. He said:—

"I was speaking on this motion some weeks ago when I had to move the adjournment of the Dáil. At the time I was dealing with prices. I had said that the prices were much lower now for farming commodities than they were in 1931 and that the fall in prices was due more to the fall in world prices than to the effects of the economic war between the two countries."

In 1931 President de Valera moved in this House that relief in rates on agricultural land be given to the extent of £1,000,000. The Government of that time agreed to give £750,000. When the present Government came into office, I suppose they wanted to make an appearance of fulfilling their promises and they gave £250,000 extra. This year, however, they came along and took off £480,000. At the time, Dr. Ryan himself admitted that the farmers were in a very bad state. The Minister for Education mentioned John Bull so often that I think I should tell you a story about Tim Reardon's bull. I think it will be a complete answer to the statement of the Minister for Agriculture in which he tried to show the people of this country that they were getting better prices for agricultural produce than before the present Government came into office. I met honest Tim at the fair and I said to him "Had you anything at the fair?" He said "I had a bull." I asked "What did you get for him?""What do you think?" said he. "£2" said I. "Well," he said, "£3.""£3 for the bull," said I, "and £6 for John Bull." Does the Minister for Education or the Minister for Agriculture say that that man who received only £2 for a bull on which £6 had to be paid to John Bull, received as good a price as before the present Government came into power? That is not the only bull on which £6 had to be paid to John Bull. There are unfortunate farmers all over the country who have to pay £6 on two-year-old bulls, and in some cases, perhaps, a bull is the only beast they have to sell. That is the position created by the present Government. We are told that we are doing the work of John Bull in criticising the Government, but will the Government deny that at their Ard Fheis there was a motion brought forward that the present half year's land annuities should be funded? Will they say that those who brought that motion forward were prejudiced against the Government? There was also, I think, a motion with regard to derating. Of course, the argument is used that they are conferring a greater benefit on the farmers by relieving them of half the annuities than by giving full derating. I should say that Tim Reardon's bull paid the difference between the two. At the Ard Fheis the question of the small farmer in the Gaeltacht was also referred to. Anybody who has any connection with the Gaeltacht, or with the poorer parts of the country knows that with a £6 tax on two-year-old beasts they are worthless. What was the Minister's reply? The Minister said he could not solve that problem.

The Government are trying to convince the people of the country that they are no worse off owing to the economic war. Commissions have been set up from time to time to go into different questions. I challenge the Government to set up a commission and to call farmers before it and examine them with regard to the position and then the people will be able to see what is responsible for having the farmers in their present position. Deputy Dillon quoted last week what the Minister for Finance said five years ago when the taxation of the country was only £20,000,000. The Minister then said that industry could not stand the burden of taxation. To-day, instead of taxation being down by £2,000,000 as was promised by the Government before they took office, it has increased by £6,000,000. In addition to that the Government say that they are keeping the land annuities, although England claims that we are paying £3,500,000. The President was challenged in the House by Deputy Belton and he said: "If you are paying you are not paying them to us." That was an admission that we are paying them to England. I shall quote from the Minister for Agriculture when he was Deputy Dr. Ryan, an humble member of the House, as reported in Volume 21, columns 1048-9 of the Parliamentary Debates. Speaking on Financial Motion No. 3 on 8th November, 1927, he said:

"Deputy Good talking about the tariff on boots said it raised the cost of that particular article and, therefore, raised the cost of living, and that the next step was that it made it impossible for the exporters of this country to compete in the open market with other people. That reason is all right, but if it is, he asks later on, what will be the effect supposing England put up a tariff against our beef? The effect would be to raise the price of beef in England, to raise the cost of living in England and, therefore, make it impossible for the Englishman to compete with the exporters of other countries, and so we would get our own back in that way."

I ask are we getting our own back in that way? What is the position to-day? Are we not subsidising the people of England? Are we not giving a subsidy in order that they will be able to buy agricultural produce cheaper? Deputy Dr. Ryan, as he then was, went on to say:

"Finally, there is a lot of talk here about the cost of living being raised. That seems to be the big bogey held up. I suppose a tariff does sometimes raise the cost of living, but other things must be taken into account. For instance, one may take the simple case of a man who buys three pairs of boots in the year. Suppose these three pairs of boots cost him £5. 15/- would be the tariff. Does that mean that that man's cost of living has risen by exactly 15/-? Is it as simple as that? I think it is a bit more involved. For instance, before that tariff was put on, that particular man was paying something towards unemployment. He may have been paying towards home assistance or in some other way. But he is relieved somewhat of that on account of the increased employment in the country. Further, we are told he is relieved by the result of revenue from the tariff on boots, so that the thing becomes very complicated. I believe that the person we are most concerned with is the farmer."

That is what I am coming to. I am just taking the Minister for Agriculture at his own word. Continuing he said:—

"Deputy Good stated that the farmer produced 80 per cent. of what was produced in this country. Whatever the Government may cost, whatever unemployment may cost, whatever any public service may cost, will eventually go back to the producer and it is the producer who will have to bear it, because it is quite plain that the non-producer cannot bear it. The man who buys his produce from the farmer can only live off the farmer, the man above him also lives off the farmer, and so on all along. 80 per cent. of the country is living on the farmer and 80 per cent. of the public services is paid by the farmer's money. Therefore, if the increased cost of living comes, that we are told so often will come as a result of tariffs, it will fall on the farmer."

We are paying £6,000,000 in extra taxation this year and we are paying £3,500,000 to the British in tariffs. That is a total of £9,500,000. 80 per cent. of that would come to £7,600,000. That sum, according to what the Minister then stated, is being imposed on the farmers and yet we are told that they are in a better position while they are being robbed of this £450,000. That is not the only increase that is put on the farmer. Every article that he buys has a tax upon it. Let us take the case of flour quoted by Deputy Dillon last week. I believe that it takes 3,000,000 sacks of flour to supply the demand in this country. The increase in the price of flour, I understand, is between 3/6 and 5/-. Let us take it at 4/-. Four shillings on 3,000,000 sacks would come to £600,00. Eighty per cent. of that would be £480,000, so that on that item alone there is a tax of £480,000 on the farmers. Then there is the case of coal on which there is a tax of 5/- per ton. The farmer pays 80 per cent. of that too.

The Minister also talks about tillage farming. Tillage farming is all right. Deputy Hogan, when Minister for Agriculture, advocated another cow, another sow, and another acre of corn, but that was when the people of the country had a market for what they produced. He never advocated the growing of oats and other crops as cash crops. We have had experience of that this year when the Minister for Agriculture finds it almost impossible to get a market for the oats in this country. Deputy Haslett has referred to the position of the small farmers. He said that you can buy Indian meal at 5/- a cwt. in the North. That would be 12/6 a sack. People in Cork are at present paying at least 5/- per sack more for the mixture and farmers will tell you that there is no comparison between them as a food, that it would take a month extra to fatten a pig on the present mixture.

The Council of the Cork Chamber of Commerce drew attention at their meeting to the marked decrease in live stock exports and said that statistics as a whole reveal that the State, apparently from both international and national reasons, was becoming gradually self-contained. The Minister for Agriculture, on one occasion, told us in this House that the more you till the more cattle you will have to keep. According to what the Cork Chamber of Commerce state we have not the cattle in the country, with the result that we have nothing to consume what we produce. Deputy O'Neill has told me that he sold last year's black oats this year at 2/9 per cwt. That is being sold back to the poor farmers at 7/6 and 8/- per cwt. We are told that the farmers, by reason of the bounties, are better off to-day than ever they were. Take the figures on that question. There is the sum of £2,500,000. According to the Minister's own estimate, the farmers are themselves paying £2,000,000 of that. Then, the Government turns around and takes about £500,000 away from them by reduction of the agricultural grant. I take another quotation from the speech of the Minister. He said:

"The Deputy should reserve some of these good points until he is winding up. There is an increase in the price of bacon in both countries over the price obtaining in 1931. In the Irish Free State, bacon was 5/6 higher and in Great Britain 6/6 higher, so that, roughly, the farmer in Great Britain is 1/- per pig better off than the farmer in the Free State."

What does the feeder in Great Britain pay for his feeding stuffs, as compared with what the farmer in the Free State pays? There is a difference of 5/- or 6/- per sack, or 7/6 a cwt. The Minister stated in the House that it took a quarter ton of meal to fatten a pig. That at a difference of 7/6 a cwt. If the farmers were getting that amount more for their pigs than the farmers in Great Britain, they would think they were millionaires. I know something about farmers, because I lived with them all my life. I submit that I have put forward very strong arguments in favour of this motion and I am sure the House will unanimously accept it.

I do not think that the promoters or supporters of this motion will disagree with me when I say that they were not in a hurry. This motion was on the paper last March. It has been on every Order Paper issued since. It has been discussed half a dozen times already and will probably be discussed half a dozen times more. It will probably continue to appear on the Order Paper for the next 12 months. I, with some diffidence, stand up to speak on this motion, because I do not know anything about farming. I told you that before. The last time I ventured to speak on agriculture I had taken an interest in the Centre Party. They seemed to me to be a very benevolent type of men—the type that would lend you £1 or £2 if you wanted it. Now, the Centre Party are linked up with the others. You are all together now, like Brown's cows.

John Brown's, I suppose.

Mr. Kelly

In my ignorance of farming and everything connected with it, I have to use the little brains I have, as a city man, to try to find out for myself the truth, or otherwise, of all the distressful stories I have heard here for the last six or seven months. The only means I have of doing that is to ask questions. I related before the many types of citizens I put questions to regarding the state of the country. Since then I have put more questions to men and women who use the eyes, ears and brains God gave them. One of the men I asked was a bookmaker. He has nothing to do with the printing, binding or distributing of books. He attends race meetings and he pays out when he loses. He is a discerning man, a man of brains and a decent man. I have always found bookmakers to answer that description. I knew this bookmaker for a long time. I said to him "I am now a member of the Dáil." He used only know me as a member of the Corporation. I have got advanced in the world—a little late for my time of life. The bookmaker said: "I know you are." I said "I have been listening to debates and discussions regarding the position of the country for the last six months. The distressed farmer has appeared at every meeting of the Dáil. When they appear, they all tell the same story—that they are in a terible state. Can you, out of your experience, tell me whether the condition of the country is as bad as it is represented? What provinces do you go to?" He said "Leinster and Munster, principally, with an odd visit to Connacht." I said: "What is your experience; is there any diminution in the number of people who are attending race meetings?" He said "No.""Do they appear to be a distressed body of men and women?" I asked. He replied: "They are just as jolly as ever." I asked: "Do they put the same amount of money on horses?" He replied: "No, where they used to put down half a sovereign, they now put down half a dollar." That is the difference. I asked "What about Connacht?" He said: "I only go to Galway. That being a University town, it is a good town to which to go. University people generally patronise the races and always have money to put down."

His summing up of the whole position was that the people were not depressed. I asked him about the women folk, if the women and girls were going about gloomily, saying that their husbands and brothers and sons were putting money on horses that was wanted badly for the home and for the farm. "Not at all," he said, "they put money on themselves." That is a man who understands human nature, and he told me truthfully that there was no depression in the country.

The farmers are hard up. I am sorry for it. They are an industrious, hard-working body and their fathers and grandfathers were that, too. But so are lawyers hard up, so are doctors, so are merchants, and so are workmen. I am hard up myself. That is general and there is no use in blaming the Fianna Fáil Government or any other government for the position of affairs. It has been said that Fianna Fáil got into office on false pretences. No political party in my long experience of political parties ever proclaimed so boldly and so freely their policy as did Fianna Fáil last January. No honest man or woman will deny that. I met a commercial traveller recently and I asked him what his experience was and how the country was doing. He said: "The country is doing fairly well." I said: "Do the people appear to be depressed and downhearted?""They do not," he replied; "my experience does not reveal that at all. I went into a town, tired and worn out, one night. I went to the local hotel. The hotel was crowded." There had been races in the vicinity that day and there was any amount of hilarity, conviviality and hospitality going on. He found that he could not go to bed until the company dispersed. He waited a long time but there was no sign of the crowd breaking up. He continued to wait and there came a lull. He believed they were all going home until he heard a stentorian voice announce: "Come next Tuesday, boys, I will be 47." That was the spark necessary to rekindle the hilarity at the idea of having a birthday celebration. The man who was going to be 47 the following Tuesday was wished many happy returns. Then another member of the party announced that on Thursday he would be 53, so they had two birthday celebrations that night. The commercial traveller put on his hat and rambled around the town. He had a walk by the riverside and came back in an hour's time. The landlord, and probably the police, had cleared the house by that time, but the company were all shaking hands outside and wishing one another happy birthdays. These are comical incidents in a way, but they do not bear out all the gloomy tales we have heard, all the gloomy figures that have been quoted, and all the gloomy prophecies that have been indulged in for months.

Perhaps the Deputy would now move the adjournment of the debate.

Mr. Kelly

With pleasure. I move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until Wednesday, November 29, at 3 p.m.