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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 27 May 1936

Vol. 62 No. 8

Turf (Use and Development) Bill, 1935—Committee (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That Section 13 stand part of the Bill."

When we adjourned consideration of this Bill last week it was put to the Minister that a difficulty had arisen, in the event of a person ordering more than 2 cwts. of coal buying supplies in individual cwts., and the Minister said he would consider the matter, and let us know how he proposed to deal with that possibility.

I do not anticipate any such development.

The Minister agreed that if people who wanted to buy 5 cwts. of coal went to a coal vendor and bought 5 cwts. in separate transactions no statutory obligation would devolve upon those people to take any turf. The Minister indicated that it was his intention to apply this Bill primarily to rural areas. If persons whom this Bill is designed to coerce into taking turf do not want to do so, by resorting to the methods I have outlined, it appears that the whole Bill will become inoperative in these areas. There is no insurmountable difficulty to any person who wants to buy coal in separate cwts. or in 2-cwt. lots doing so. I think it devolves upon the Minister to tell us how he proposes to deal with that situation, if it arises.

I do not propose to tell the Deputy how I will deal with that situation until it arises, and I do not anticipate that it will arise.

If it arises the Minister will not have any power under the Bill as it stands to deal with it.

Then it may be necessary to deal with it.

Does not the Minister realise that the practical difficulty will be in the case of a person who ordered a ton or half a ton of coal, ordering two cwts. in the morning, two cwts. at lunch time, and two cwts. in the afternoon, making three separate orders? Would that be an infringement of the Bill? Would the coal merchant be compelled to insist on the purchaser taking whatever amount of turf is mentioned if it is in the specified area, or would he be justified on looking upon them as separate orders or as one order? The Minister knows that that is the difficulty he will be up against in the operation of this Bill. He either does not realise what is going to happen or he does not want to face up to the difficulty. It seems to me that he realises the difficulty but he is not taking any steps to deal with it. This provision is going to make it difficult for everyone concerned, if there is no indication what steps are to be taken. I think the Minister ought to tell the House how this is going to be dealt with, because difficulty is almost bound to arise in every specified area.

In the city I do not think it is a practical difficulty at all.

Will the Minister say why not?

We are prepared to allow people to buy coal in lots of two cwts.

If a person who previously bought ten cwts. of coal to be delivered to his house in one lot, now orders five cwts. and, instead of having it delivered in one lot, has it delivered in one or two days, in small lots at a time, that person can evade the whole purpose of the Bill. Does the Minister not consider that a practical difficulty? It is hard to believe that he is serious about this measure. His attitude regarding the arguments put forward on this section seem to prove that he is not serious.

What does the Deputy suggest? Is it to eliminate the two cwts.?

It is not for me to suggest. It is the Minister's Bill has created the difficulty.

Are Deputies opposite worried that this Bill will not be effective?

It is time for the Minister to remember that he is a member of the Government. Deputies on this side are not members of the Government, and when there is a Bill before the House it is the duty of the Government to explain it. The Minister and his colleagues in the last couple of weeks have fallen into the habit of thinking that it is not their business to justify policy put before the House. It is not the business of the Opposition to explain how the Government is to work Bills. The Minister has done this again and again within the last couple of weeks. Why that has been so in the last couple of weeks I do not know. Certain difficulties have to be faced so far as this Bill is concerned, and the Opposition and the House is entitled to get information. We have dealt with several sections but the most important ones are Sections 2, 4 and 13. I doubt if the House knows the purpose of the Minister regarding the Bill. His performance to-day does not give us any further information, even to clear up one point, whether it is a serious Bill or not. We have had again and again statements from the Minister that there is no seriousness at the back of this Bill; that it is purely advertising and window-dressing. For instance, could passages in the Minister's speeches be quoted to show that it is the intention to use the compulsory powers ruthlessly?

Personally I do not know what the mind of the Minister is. Certainly I do not think anyone would suggest that it is the business of the Opposition to meet the Minister's difficulties. That is the Minister's business. Whether it is the coming disappearance of the Second Chamber or not, Ministers are treating this House, even before the disappearance of that Chamber, with contempt. Anyone contrasting this with anything the Minister has insisted upon in connection with his tariffs within certain limits within the last couple of days can see how vague was the information he gave as to what his intentions were. Here every appeal for information as to the working of the Bill has been met—hardly with refusal—with complete failure by the Minister to make a beginning in giving information to this side. A practical difficulty has been mentioned, and the Minister simply says: "I do not think so." He does not say why it is not a practical difficulty. Obviously the provisions of the Bill can be evaded. This is legislation, and it is the business of the Minister to meet objections that are raised. The Minister's opinion is that he need not say anything in this House. Yet we are supposed to have Parliamentary Government. The Minister is ignoring the rights of the House.

May I put this example to the Minister. Supposing John Ryan goes to a coal retailer and usually orders a quarter or a half ton of coal, but now orders 2 cwts., and an hour later goes and orders another 2 cwts., and in the afternoon orders 2 more cwts., what is the position? I want the Minister to look at subsection (2), and to remember that there is a responsibility upon the coal retailer. Because of the Minister's refusal to say exactly what has to be done, is that coal retailer to be put in the position that he may be charged with being a party to evading this legislation? There is a difficulty there, and the Minister ought to admit that there is a difficulty there. He should face up to it and tell us what steps will be taken to clarify the position.

We have discussed this ad nauseam, and I think it is unnecessary to discuss it further. We have had this Bill before the House for several days, a much longer time than is frequently devoted to much more important measures. I am quite certain that Deputies do not expect to convince me that their interest in this Bill is a serious one, or that all the questions they are asking are designed for the purpose of getting information. I do not believe it. In any event, I cannot answer arguments the purpose of which I do not know. What is the attitude of Deputies towards this section? Are they afraid it is going to be evaded? In my opinion, the compulsion imposed by this section on consumers of coal requiring them to take a certain quantity of turf is sufficient. Do Deputies want them to take more? I admit that we are giving this right to consumers to buy coal without turf provided they buy coal in quantities or less than 2 cwts. If Deputies want to give me further power to prevent persons evading the obligation of purchasing turf, they can do so, but that is what is set out in the Bill. I am quite satisfied to leave it at that. I do not know what Deputies are concerned with. Do they object to my giving that concession, or do they think a much bigger concession should be given? I think that is sufficient compulsion to ensure the attainment of our immediate purpose.

We have got to keep at the back of our minds the fact that the position needs to be clarified and that there will be at least three separate sets of inspectors calling on the coal retailers and upon the coal purchasers to see that they do not evade this section in any way. It is what the inspector, whether he is the inspector appointed by the Minister, the officer appointed by the Board or a member of the Gárda Síochána, thinks that will count. The Minister, of course, objects to having this matter discussed. He says it has been discussed fully and that no further discussion is necessary in his opinion. He suggests that we are raising these points merely for the purpose of obstruction. The Minister has very little knowledge of the way in which this Bill has been received down the country. He has very little knowledge of the fears which have been created in the minds of a great number of people. He has very little knowledge, if any knowledge at all, of the practical difficulties that are going to arise in the working of the Bill. We are certainly entitled, so long as the House remains here, to look for information, to criticise any measure that comes before the House, and to criticise it for as many days as are necessary to get the infor mation which the House thinks it is entitled to get. I suggest to the Minister that he should have learned from the experience of some of his colleagues that the quickest way to get legislation through this House is to treat members as members of the House and to give them any information they require in a full and frank way. Whatever hold-up there is when dealing with the Bill is very largely due to the attitude taken up by the Minister himself. The Minister's attitude is: "This is my Bill. I have fully considered it. It is the best I can do and I cannot improve on it." That is not an attitude which is going to be accepted by this House.

We oppose this Bill because we believe that, primarily, it is a fraud and, secondly, because we believe that in some of its minor sections it is going to work hardships on the small farmer who, as Deputy Victory said, cuts turf and sells it as a side line. The Minister must have a short memory if he does not realise what our attitude is. The Bill having been carried through Second Reading against our opposition, our duty is to examine it in Committee and to direct the attention of the House to any administrative evils that may appear on the face of the Bill with a view to correcting them so that the actions of the House will not be a nullity. Section 13 says: "Whenever a coal retailer sells and delivers a certain amount of coal." That formula of "sells and delivers" is repeated in each subsection of the section. For the benefit of the coal retailers in the country the Minister might explain what will happen in a case such as this: A consumer comes in at 11 o'clock in the morning, buys a cwt. of coal and then leaves, having completed the purchase. He comes back at 12 o'clock, buys another cwt. of coal and again leaves, having completed that purchase. He repeats the operation every hour thereafter that the coal retailer's premises are open, buying on each occasion an additional cwt. of coal. In the evening orders for, say, 8 cwts. of coal will have accumulated from that person, representing a series of separate, closed transactions. Is the coal retailer entitled to deliver in the evening 8 cwts. of coal, represented by these 8 separate transactions that have taken place during the day? That is one problem.

Deputies living in the City of Dublin will feel that such a suggestion is absurd, that nobody would go down town eight times in the day in order to evade the obligation of taking turf. Deputies living in rural Ireland, however, will readily recognise that a person living in a small country town passes up and down a street perhaps half-a-dozen times in the day and it is no trouble to him to walk into the coal retailer's shop each time he reaches it and say: "Send me up a cwt. of coal." That raises the question of whether a person must sell and deliver coal together, within the meaning of the Act. If he only sells coal in individual lots and delivers it all toegther, then that would leave him outside the Act. Supposing that that difficulty was overcome and that the Act is amended to say that no coal retailer shall deliver less than 8 cwts. of coal without delivering the requisite quantity of turf, what will happen in regard to the other person, mentioned by Deputy Morrissey and other members of the Opposition, who deliberately goes in and orders five separate lots of 2 cwts. of coal and asks the merchant to deliver them separately? It may happen, on the other hand, that the merchant would allow these orders to accumulate on his premises until he has, say, five or six different orders, each for 2 cwts. of coal. He then proceeds to deliver 2 cwts. of coal to each of his five customers on his delivery cart. He makes a round of the town, delivers the coal, comes back and takes out another five 2 cwts. and delivers them perhaps to the same people. Do these persons successfully evade the provisions of this Bill?

The Minister says to us: "What do you want? Are you solicitous that this Bill should work, or are you just trying to obstruct it?" The answer is perfectly simple. Any Bill passed by the Oireachtas should work. Once we have been overruled on the principle of the measure, our remaining function in Committee is to make it a workable instrument. Even after we have improved it by making it workable, if we still dislike it, we are entitled to oppose it on Fifth Stage. The function of the House is clearly to bring to the Minister's attention points of view that might not have been brought to his attention by his officials or by his supporters. That is what we are doing, and that is what we are bound to do. However, there is an additional reason in connection with this Bill, because this Bill is going to work considerable hardship on the people to whom Deputy Victory referred. But if this Bill becomes a nullity in operation after a large body of poor people through the country have been induced to accumulate quantities of turf, to establish co-operative societies and involve themselves in expense, the turf will be left on their hands, because they will have been induced by the false representations of the Government to equip themselves to deal with a demand out of all proportion to the demand that will ordinarily develop. Then, if Section 13 breaks down and makes the Bill inoperative, these unfortunate people will be at the loss of whatever turf they have saved and got ready for the demand which they expected would be created under the section. It is surely the duty of this House to provide against that danger, and it is to provide against these two dangers that we are directing the attention of the Minister for Industry and Commerce to what appear to us to be grave flaws in the drafting of this measure.

It appears to me that there is something strangely inconsistent in the speeches of the Opposition on this Bill in general. We are now dealing with a situation in which people are conspiring against the turf movement. There is an anti-turf movement on, but during the Second Reading debate on the Bill Deputy Professor O'Sullivan frequently told us that there was no necessity for compulsion at all; that there was an immense amount of goodwill towards turf in the country.

Except amongst those who do not want it.

The Deputy did not qualify his statement in any way. He said there was immense goodwill towards turf, in the country, and that there was no necessity for compulsion. Now we have got to base the Bill on the supposition that consumers are going to conspire against the operation of it: that they are going to go to the most ridiculous rounds to defeat its provisions, and that they are going actually to enjoy getting coal into their houses, a thing that householders never enjoy. I think that most householders usually regard the getting in of coal supplies as a bit of a nuisance. Deputy Dillon postulates that people will be so opposed to the measure as to object to buying even a bag of turf with their coal; that they will arrange to have coal delivered to them in a number of small lots each day. That, I think, is a most extraordinary assumption. Really, I do not think that such finicky criticism should be indulged in with regard to a measure like this.

How much coal does the rural householder buy at a time?

Deputy Moore told us the other day that they buy none; that no one around Wicklow uses coal.

I said that the great bulk of the people in the countryside, the average rural family in a bog area, do not use coal. In many cases the amount of coal they use throughout the year is confined to the quantity required for threshing purposes, and perhaps another quarter-ton or half-ton that may be required for boiling of turnips during the winter. I would like the Deputies opposite to tell us the classes of people who, in their opinion, are going to make such efforts to defeat this Bill. Certainly, it will not be the poor people who will not be affected by it, because as a rule they buy their coal in less than 2-cwt. lots. The extremely poor sections of the community will not be affected by the Bill, and they certainly are not opposed to it. Then there are those who buy turf for convenience sake. I imagine they will be prepared to pay even more for turf than they will be required to pay when this Bill becomes an Act. How many, then, are there who will be so anxious to defeat this measure? I cannot locate them in any country town or village that I know of. If there are any such people, I think they would constitute a very small minority. In my view the whole of this criticism is really looking for trouble. I do not think that the Bill requires any further amendment so far as this particular question is concerned.

Deputy Moore is very much concerned about the turf industry and so are we all. But what has been sticking out in the whole situation since the Government started to meddle with the turf industry? It is this: that since they began to interfere with the production of turf the quantity produced has declined.

I submit to the Chair that we have had this speech from Deputy Mulcahy at least six times already on this Bill, and I suggest that his remarks are not relevant to this section.

I submit to the Chair that I am entitled to speak with-cut interruption on an important subject like this.

If the argument is relevant.

Since the Government began to interfere less turf has been produced for three years running.

The Deputy does not believe that.

Not only do I believe it, but the Minister told us.

I have already told the Deputy that he does not know how to read the figures I give him.

Two and two make four.

That is about all that the Deputy knows.

Does the Minister realise that 300,000 tons of turf are less than 400,000 tons, and so on? Deputy Moore says that something is destroying the turf industry. What is destroying the turf industry, and what is going to do further damage to it, is that people are tinkering at it who know nothing at all about it. Nothing more damaging to any interest that the Minister may have in the Turf Bill has been said of it than was said in a broadcast we had recently in connection with the turf-cutting festival.

That has nothing to do with this section.

It has to deal with the capacity that the people, referred to in Section 13, have for using turf. The speaker who gave the broadcast on the occasion of the turf-cutting festival the other day implied that in our towns, at any rate, there were no fireplaces fit to burn turf, and that the whole fault of that was all John Bull's; that John Bull had seen to it very definitely that the fireplaces in houses in this country were such that only English coal could be burned in them. In order to advance from that poor situation, from the point of view of turf consumption, this person suggested that a prize of £1,000 should be offered by the Government and paid to anyone who would invent a fireplace that would take turf, and then that the people should be forced to get fireplaces of that particular kind. On the occasion of that turf-cutting festival the Minister told the country what he was not prepared to tell the Dáil, namely, the great amount of money that he was going to spend on a big turf development scheme as soon, I suppose, as he has people in the position that they can be forced to use turf.

The Minister has made it utterly impossible for us to help him in a discussion of this Bill in a practical way. Deputy Moore talked about the average rural family in the bog area. If we knew from the Minister that we were discussing here an experiment that is going to be tried on the average rural family in the bog areas then we could concentrate on that; but instead the Minister brings in a Bill which, as far as we know, is as applicable to the City of Dublin, the City of Limerick, and to the town of Nenagh as it is to any small village in a bog area. If the Minister wants the help of the Dáil in discussing a measure for the improvement of the turf industry, he surely ought not to ask us to discuss on the one Bill questions of administration and questions as to the use of turf in such widely scattered places as the City of Dublin, the City of Limerick, towns like Nenagh, and smaller towns near bog areas. It is because the Minister does not know what exactly he is going to do that all this confusion has arisen, or, alternatively, he is not prepared to tell us what he is going to do. If we accept the Minister's statement that 2 cwts. of coal can be bought, then 2 cwts. more, and another 2 cwts., even then the situation is objectionable because it forces a system of buying coal on people who simply want coal. There are people who ought not to be told to do that. Take the case of a person who has a lodging-house. That person keeps three or four lodgers. Lodger A. will have to order 2 cwt. of coal for himself; lodger B. will have to do the same, and lodger C. likewise, and maybe the servant will have to order another 2 cwts. for herself. We have a right to object to these plans, without objective, which create personal and family interference of that kind. We have the responsibility to examine into them to the smallest detail, particularly when the people to be interfered with by this system of inspectorate will, obviously, have to charge their home economies in a manner quite unsuitable to the nature of the home and the means of the persons.

There is another point to which I want to draw attention. On page 6 of the Bill we are given the first set of fines. There is to be a fine of £10 in respect of the non-display of his registration certificate by a coal retailer. There is a fine of £50 for a person who has not a registration certificate and who engages in the selling of coal. There is a fine of £10 for purchasing from an unregistered coal retailer, and there is a fine of £1 for every ton or part of a ton of coal greater than 2 cwt. purchased or sold without a suitable quantity of turf. Where are these fines to go? Are they to go to the Minister for Finance to bolster up the Exchequer or how are they to be used? If they are to be used to foster the turf industry, will they be used to buy more sacks, or will they be used for the £250,000 new scheme the Minister has in mind?

These fines will go into the same fund into which every fine imposed by a court goes.

It seems to me that this section is really the root of the whole Bill. In essence, the Bill is a measure to provide a subsidy for the production of turf. That would be all very well if it worked equitably to all sections of the community, but apparently it is going to cut across different people in different ways. We pressed the Minister to say how many appointed areas he proposed to create. He was not willing to do that. Having tried the experiment on some of the districts best suited for this measure, success in those districts would invite other people to have areas appointed even up to Dublin. Coal and turf are two different substances, requiring two different grates or ranges in order to get the best out of them. To be logical, people compelled to burn turf at one stage and coal at another ought to instal two fireplaces side by side and use one range or grate for coal and another range or grate for turf. We are all familiar with the difference in these ranges and grates. A range or grate which is to burn turf requires a bigger fire-box. What will be the position of people compelled to comply with this Act? The incidence of complying with it will work out in different ways. Plenty of grates, ranges and cottage hearths throughout the country are perfectly suited to the burning of turf. It will not impose the slightest hardship on those people to continue to burn turf. But what will be the position of other people not so well circumstanced? Deputy Mulcahy raised the question of the grate installed by John Bull to burn his own coal. What will be the position of a person down the country who has a range or grate suited to the burning of coal but who is compelled to use turf? He will not get the same measure of heat out of it. That is the plain truth of the matter, and that is what is going to happen to the poorest section of the community who have coal grates. They are not going to be as warm as they were.

What is the next difficulty which strikes one in connection with this Bill. Certain people, especially in the cities, have only got limited storage accommodation. A ton of turf takes up a great deal more space than a ton of coal. I take it that it is outside the bounds of possibility that a person in a flat will leave his stack of turf out on the landing. We all know what would happen if that were done. What is a person who is compelled to give an order beyond the storage capacity of his coal-bin to do? The coal retailer supplying a quantity of coal greater than 2 cwt. must also supply a certain quantity of turf. What would the Minister advise the retailer to say to a person who told him that he had not storage for turf and that he was not going to burn turf? Certain people may object to the ashes from turf, but in the case I mentioned the retailer will probably say: "You got coal at 3/- a cwt. before, and now you will have to pay 3/6 to get 2 cwt."

Does anyone think that a person is going to leave the appropriate quantity of turf out on the landing or out on the street, if he lives in a flat? I think the Minister ought seriously to consider how he can best promote the use of turf by something that will bear equitably on all sections of the community, because apparently there are certain people who cannot comply with the law. It will either be that or they will have to pay an excessive price for coal by buying it in 2 cwt. lots. The Minister, to my mind, has not seriously approached that problem. Deputy Moore seems to suggest that there is a conspiracy to refuse to burn turf. I should like, on behalf of the members on this side, indignantly to repudiate that suggestion, but I should like to add that nothing brings the law into such disrespect as finding out that it is quite impossible for the people to comply with it.

Deputy Moore made a reference to a statement of mine. May I point out to him that it was fully borne out by the Minister, who, at column 1730 of the Official Debates, said:

"I think Deputy O'Sullivan was correct when he said that over a large part of the country the people would prefer to use turf instead of coal, and, that being so, there can be, I am sure, little objection to a Bill which is designed to increase its production."

I think that is the attitude of the people. One Deputy referred to people as being too grand to burn turf. I find no evidence of that at all. It is not there, and surely by this time the Minister and Deputy Moore must have realised the fact that they are tackling this at the wrong end. The Minister has never given any explanation of his failure to see that even in the houses subsidised by Government aid there were proper facilities for burning turf.

What are proper facilities for burning turf?

I presume the Minister knows, seeing that he is going to compel people to burn it, or does he not mind that? Is it his attitude that the people must be compelled whether the proper facilities are there or not? Does the Minister not know whether there are proper facilities there or not?

I was merely trying to elucidate the Deputy's argument.

I thought you were interrupting.

For the purpose of helping the Deputy.

Indeed? Will you keep silent for the purpose of helping me now?

If it will be of any assistance to the Deputy.

Not the slightest; the interruptions are most useful. Last night, when we were dealing with another matter, we found that there was communication between the Minister's Department and the Department of Local Government, and a provision was put in that articles of Irish manufacture should be used in the building of houses where a Government subsidy was given. Why were no steps taken? Why was it possible on the occasion referred to by Deputy Mulcahy for the impression to be conveyed over the wireless, in connection with a function at which the Minister was present, that there was scarcely a grate in the country suitable for turf burning? These statements, coming from Deputy Mrs. Concannon and from the Minister's own ardent supporters in the matter, ought to bring home to the House what the Minister is trying to do—to compel people to do a thing for the doing of which, without grave inconvenience, he has provided no facilities or possibly even to do at all. There is no prejudice against turf in any part of the country with which I am acquainted. There the Minister and I are in full agreement, but there are not facilities for burning it in many of the houses, and particularly the smaller houses in country towns, which I gather the Minister has chiefly in view, at least in respect of the initial stages of the enforcement of this Bill. These facilities are not there. Deputy Moore speaks of an average house, but from this point of view there is no such thing. A farmer's house in the country with an open hearth is one thing, but the house of an ordinary resident in a country town is a different thing. So far as this Bill is concerned, there is no average possible between those two types of houses.

When I speak of the average house, I refer to the rural areas.

The Deputy said the bog areas.

A rural house in a rural area.

The Deputy said "an average rural family in the bog areas."

I can assure the Deputy that he is the last person in the House I should like to misinterpret. If he thinks I have done so, I withdraw.

Deputy Mulcahy has given a quotation which corrects it.

In that case, all I can say is that Deputy Moore's statement does not touch the subject, because the Minister had mainly in view not the farm house where turf and turf alone is burned. It cannot apply there. Has he in view then the farm house which is not in a bog area? Deputy Moore does not refer to that. The only type of house we can refer to is the type I have spoken of, namely, the house in a country district in a bog area. There is no average between that house and the country house with the open hearth of the ordinary farmer. The Minister, instead of taking the normal steps, proceeding in a normal rational way to see that there were facilities for the burning of turf, prefers the method ingrained in the Ministry—so ingrained that they cannot get out of it—compulsion, without any advertence to whether or not the people have the facilities for making use of this particular fuel.

If there is no prejudice against turf, as the Minister says, why do the people not burn it to a greater extent? The Minister admits there is no prejudice. Does that at least not raise the question in his mind that there must be some reason, when prejudice, which he generally alleges against Irish goods, does not operate, why the people are not in a position to use it? If Deputy Moore goes to an ordinary country town situate in a bog area, he will find that that is the view of the people there. If they were in a position to use the turf, they would certainly do it, but they are not. It is useless for a broadcaster to refer to the injury done us by the English in imposing English grates not suitable for burning turf. If that statement by the Minister's supporter is so, objecting that that injury was inflicted upon us by the English does not get rid of it. It does not put grates suitable for burning turf into the different houses. A protest against the past conduct of the English does not solve the domestic difficulty of the ordinary householder in the country towns. Then, the Minister, in the course of one of his numerous interruptions, objected to Deputy Mulcahy's figures. I wonder why he always loses his temper when Deputy Mulcahy quotes figures?

Because they had no relevance to this discussion.

Was that the reason? It would be hard to convince us of that. I asked the Minister before why he did not give the figures he stands over. I put that question to him last week, but he has not done so. Why does the Minister have figures published which nobody apparently can understand and from which the obvious lesson that follows is apparently the last lesson to be drawn from them? The Minister always loses his temper the minute figures furnished by his own Department are quoted. He protests that Deputy Mulcahy is misunderstanding the figures, but he does not show us how he is doing it and he does not state in what respect the figures are wrong.

I object to Deputy Mulcahy quoting figures and making the same speech ten times over.

But the Minister did more than that. He said: "As usual, I think he is misunderstanding the figures." That was what the Minister said of Deputy Mulcahy. That is something more than making the same speech over and over. If once or twice the arguments have been repeated, it is because the Minister pays no attention to them.

Just as well.

That is the Minister's idea of Parliamentary practice. That is his idea of Single Chamber Government. The Minister here gives us an excellent example of what we are to get. In the effort to prepare the country for this, the Minister goes gaily ahead seeking compulsory powers. Whether the people are able to comply with these provisions or not does not matter. The Minister does not explain what his compulsory power is. I would ask him to take to heart the speech delivered here by Deputy Mrs. Concannon. In that speech she indicated to the Minister what was the reasonable, rational and logical line to follow. For that reason her advice was rejected by the Minister.

There is one matter to which my attention has been drawn. It has been the custom of mill owners throughout the country to sell small quantities of coal to their employees, and they do so without any profit on the sale. I was glad to hear from the Minister to-day that they will be permitted in the future to sell quantities of coal to such employees up to 2 cwt. without incurring any obligation of selling turf with this coal. Is that the position?

Any person retailing coal in an appointed area would require to be registered, but so far as he confines his business to selling coal in quantities of less than 2 cwts., he need not sell turf with it.

The practice of these mill owners is to sell this coal to their employees. They do not want to make a profit on it. I would like to know if, under the Bill, there is any prohibition against the carrying out of that practice in the future?

There is a prohibition.

Is there not a provision in the Bill that the particular men who deal with coal must become coal merchants in order to do what Deputy Good suggests?

They must be registered.

And they must purchase turf in proportion to the amount of coal they sell.

Not necessarily.

They need not purchase turf if they are registered merchants selling coal—I am speaking now of mill owners?

There are two possible sets of circumstances. One set of circumstances would arise where the miller, merchant or industrialist only sold coal in quantities so small that the provisions of the Bill do not apply, in which case there is no obligation to sell turf. If the merchant sells coal in larger quantities, then, undoubtedly, turf must be sold with the coal, but that would not impose any great hardship. In any event, any person who sells coal by retail must be registered. There is no difficulty about registration. The register is prepared, and any person who applies can be entered on the register. The only purpose of the register is to ensure that there will be a method of applying sanctions to such coal retailers as do not comply with the provisions of the Bill, but these provisions will cause no difficulty to these industrial concerns. I have had representations made to me on this matter from some of the industrialists who engage in this practice. I considered the question as to whether it was necessary to make any provision in the Bill to meet their cases and I decided that it was not necessary. If it happened that they sold coal in quantities over 2 cwt. I do not think we could release them or the persons purchasing the coal from the same obligations that we are imposing on others in the district, if the area were made an appointed area. As I understand it, Deputy O'Sullivan's argument is this: that because there are some fire grates in the country that are not suitable for burning coal——

The Minister has not quite answered my point on the matter raised by Deputy Good.

In my opinion, I dealt with that matter fully and adequately.

Is it not a fact that the industrialist to whom he refers who retails coal in quantities of less than 2 cwt., must buy turf in proportion to the amount of coal he sells?

The Deputy is confusing the provision which deals with the sub-retailer but these industrialists are not in that position.

But is not such an industrialist a registered coal merchant under the Bill? Must not registered coal merchants buy turf in proportion to the amount of coal they sell?

There is nothing in the Bill which says that they must buy turf. They must buy turf if they sell coal in such circumstances—they must sell turf with the coal.

If they sell coal in quantities of less than 2 cwt. they do not incur any obligation in regard to the turf?

They must be registered and pay a fee.

That is for registration. Now Deputy O'Sullivan's argument is this: that because there are some fire grates in the country that are not suitable to burn turf; because there are some ranges in the country that are not suitable to burn turf; and because there are some flats and dwelling-houses in parts of the country where there is not sufficient storage accommodation to hold the turf, we should do nothing to encourage the production and use of turf or that we should do nothing until we recondition the houses in the country and replace the grates and ranges. That is a very good argument for doing nothing. That is the reason why Deputy O'Sullivan's Government did nothing to encourage the use of turf.

They cut more turf than the present Government.

They cut in 1931 half the quantity that was cut in 1922.

And each succeeding Fianna Fáil year the production and consumption of turf have gone down more.

There was a reduction of 50 per cent. in the last year of the Cumann na nGaedheal Government as compared with their first year, and if the Deputy looks at the figures supplied in answer to Parliamentary Questions he will find that that reduction was continuous under his Government.

I am prepared to admit any figures on the official records, but the Minister must remember that the official records show that in every year since 1931 the consumption of turf has gone done.

The Chair will not allow that either the Minister or the Deputy is in order in discussing that matter now.

I do not think that there is anything else that has been raised by the Deputies which requires to be dealt with by me. The existence of grates and ranges not suitable for the burning of turf and the absence of storage accommodation are, in our opinion, regrettable, but, nevertheless, we think we should proceed with our plans to encourage the consumption of turf. I do not think, because changes may have to be made in certain houses, that we should on that account abandon a programme which offers considerable possibilities to improve the conditions of life for large numbers of our people. There are very few of those grates or ranges which cannot be adapted to the use of turf. In fact the modern grate of the most up-to-date design is as suitable an apparatus for burning turf as any grate that could be designed. When I say that the modern grate is as suitable as any that could be designed, I admit that I have no technical knowledge upon these matters, but there is an examination being made of the most suitable apparatus for the utilisation of turf for all purposes, industrial as well as household purposes, and whatever information results from that investigation will be made available to those interested in the manufacture of this apparatus.

I think most of the manufacturers have already on the market grates, ranges and stoves designed primarily for the use of turf, in regard to the efficiency of which the manufacturers are quite proud. When Deputy O'Sullivan desires to recondition his house by the installation of apparatus for that purpose, he can get quotations from a number of manufacturers who will be interested. The same applies to anybody in the country. In fact, in most of the country towns I am sure that the grates and ranges in the great majority of houses burned turf before they burned coal, and they burned it efficiently and can do so again.

There is one matter upon which I should like to ask the Minister a question. This Bill sets out: "Whenever a coal retailer sells and delivers." I should like to get the word "delivers" clarified. Does the word there mean delivered by the carts or lorries of the coal retailer to the residence of the person who orders coal?

Not necessarily

It is a legal term.

I would like to have the matter made more clear. If a person drives in a cart to the retailer, orders coal and takes delivery of it, what is the position?

Then obviously the coal has been sold and delivered.

It is no harm for an ordinary man in the street, like myself, to get that point clarified. So far as the trade is concerned, delivery means coal delivered by the carts or trucks of the coal retailer. As a matter of fact, there is a difference in the price, because a higher price is charged for delivery. The Minister may not know that, but it is the fact. A person by taking delivery from a particular store may get the coal at a lower rate.

With regard to the miller who has been mentioned, I would like the Minister to be clear on this point: If a miller or an industrialist, who has been supplying coal at cost price to his employees or anybody else, supplies coal in greater quantities than 2 cwts., does the Minister imply that he will have to supply turf as well?

If he sells coal retail, and the quantity exceeds 2 cwts., then in an appointed area the appropriate proportion of turf must be delivered as well.

And he will have to register as a coal retailer and, because otherwise he would be liable to a penalty of £10, he will have to keep prominently displayed during business hours a certificate that he is a coal retailer?

Presumably most of the coal retailers are already registered.

Under Section 10 they have to keep prominently displayed during business hours a certificate of registration under a penalty of £10. Perhaps the question may arise more appropriately on Section 19, but if a miller or an industrialist is able to supply coal in quantities of less than 2 cwts. to any person without having to buy turf, why may not the person who is a dairyman, or runs a small grocer's shop, buy coal without turf and retail it in quantities of not more than 2 cwts.? It seems to me that Section 19 is going to discriminate against a dairyman or a grocer, while, according to the Minister, a miller or an industrialist will be in a different position.

It is obviously a different position altogether.

I would like to hear it argued.

In the one case the company sell without any profit to their employees, and that is an important consideration.

I would like to call attention to the flippant way in which the Minister dealt with important aspects of this matter. I can only say that it is quite characteristic of the Minister. He referred to flats and dwelling houses where there is not sufficient storage accommodation for turf, and he dealt with my argument in that connection. I contend that the majority of grates are not suitable for turf burning. Indeed, one could gather from the Minister that in many cases they are not suitable. But I am not referring at the moment to flats. I have in mind the ordinary houses in the lanes in country towns, in the streets in country towns. These are places of which, apparently, the Minister has no knowledge. All the comfort that we can get here is not that the Minister has made an investigation to see whether our complaints are justified, but that an examination is being made. First you use compulsion and then you proceed to see whether there is any justification for it. That is quite characteristic of the Government. The Minister speaks of encouraging the people, and his only activity is on the side of interference and compulsion. I think the whole thing represents an absolute abuse of language. There is one thing clear, he will have a little difficulty about the legal interpretation of "delivery." I do not argue that matter now; it is more a matter for the courts to consider.

Question put: "That Section 13 stand part of the Bill."
The Committee divided:—Tá, 55; Níl, 27.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Cooney, Eamon.
  • Corbett, Edmond.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Fred, Hugh.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Davin, William.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Everett, James.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Hales, Thomas.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Dowd, Patrick.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C.


  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Bourke, Séamas.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Daly, Patrick.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Finlay, John.
  • Good, John.
  • Keating, John.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Rowlette, Robert James.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Bennett.
Question declared carried.
Question proposed: "That Section 14 stand part of the Bill."

In this section again the Minister is taking rather extraordinary powers in regard to prescribing the quantity of turf in relation to coal sold by a retailer to a purchaser. The section says that the Minister may make separate and different regulations in respect of different appointed areas, and may prescribe different quantities of turf in respect of different appointed areas or different parts of the same appointed area, and may by regulation fix such quantity of turf in respect of each appointed area or parts of the same appointed area. So we are likely to have this position. We may have a particular appointed area, and for one part of that area it may be prescribed that for every ton of coal purchased a quarter ton of turf must also be purchased. In another part of that area it may be prescribed that for every ton of coal purchased half a ton of turf may have to be purchased. Does the Minister realise the great difficulties that may arise in connection with that? Does he realise the amount of hardship and damage that the retailer may suffer in his business in such a connection?

Let me put to the Minister the case of two villages or towns fairly close to one another. A person finds that by purchasing his coal in one town he will be only compelled to take a quarter ton or an eighth of a ton of turf, whereas if he purchased in the other town he may have to take half a ton of turf. It seems to me that it is bad enough to have the amount of turf in relation to coal differing in some appointed areas, but I do not see any reason at all why such a thing should occur in the same area, with the prospect of creating difficulty and trouble and the danger of doing definite damage to the existing business of certain people. What is the necessity for this, and what has the Minister in mind in putting such a proposal into the section?

I do not think the Deputy need be under any apprehension that regulations will be made which will operate in the manner which he fears or that there will be a very sharp distinction between the requirements under the Act in one area as compared with the requirements in an adjoining area. It is desirable to secure that the percentage of turf which may have to be purchased in relation to coal will vary from locality to locality, from area to area, as the economy of using coal changes. There are many parts of the country where it can be said that turf in relation to coal is a very much cheaper fuel, even at the present time without organised production or marketing. There are other areas where that would not be correct, but where it could be said that turf and coal were on an equal footing. There are parts of the country where undoubtedly coal is cheaper to use than turf. While the percentage fixed in any area will, of course, have most direct relation to the quantity of turf to be disposed of, nevertheless the intention is to use the powers to ensure that turf will be used most where it is cheapest to use. That is why power is being taken to vary the requirements from area to area, or in different parts of a single area.

I do not think that meets the point I raised. The Minister said I need have no fear. We have to have fear. We have to realise that, after all, the Minister is not going to be always there—there may be another Minister. Once this Bill passes from this House we have no further control over the matter. We have to realise further that this whole section is to be given effect to by regulations made in the Minister's Department. I cannot see any point in what the Minister said. If it is more economic to burn turf in particular areas—as I know it is, but they would have to be very close to the bog, practically on the brink of it to make it more economic— then there is no necessity for this power of differentiation at all.

I suggest to the Minister that what I have stated is much more likely to happen and I can see its creating a very definite and positive difficulty. I can conceive its damaging very considerably the business of coal retailers. It is bad enough to have the quantity of turf in relation to coal differing in different specified areas, but to have different quantities specified in the same area—so far as we know there may not be any differentiation, or there may be four or five different quantities specified—is, to say the least of it, very loose and unsatisfactory and it should not be left in this section at all. It seems to me that the Minister is going far enough and getting sufficient power when he asks the House to give him power to make regulations specifying different quantities in different specified areas.

It comes to the same thing.

We are asked to do this without having any idea whatever from the Minister as to what he has in mind as regards specified areas.

What precisely is the difference between taking power to appoint different areas and different quantities in each area and taking power to appoint only one area and to prescribe different quantities in different parts of that area?

I have not said that. If the Minister divides the country into three areas for the purpose of the Bill, and specifies, say, that in the Leinster area there is to be so much turf in relation to coal, in the Munster area something slightly different, and in Connaught and Ulster something slightly different again, that is one thing. But if the Minister specifies, say, North Tipperary as one area, and then proceeds to say that in the town of Roscrea for every ton of coal bought there must be a half-ton of turf bought; that in Thurles for every ton of coal bought there must be 6 cwts. of turf bought, and that in Nenagh for every ton of coal bought there must be 2½ cwts. of turf bought, what will happen?

I cannot follow that the business of a particular retailer can be damaged. A person ordering coal is required to purchase with that coal a proportion of turf, and the retailer is required to supply him with that coal and that proportion of turf, irrespective of where the retailer is situated, in what area he is situated. The proportion that he must sell to that purchaser is determined by the area in which the purchaser resides.

Supposing he brings a cart and takes delivery at the door?

This only goes to prove that the Minister has no grasp of where this is going to lead. The Minister has not the faintest idea of the difficulties that are going to be created as a result of a section like this.

Not the difficulty the Deputy is talking about—that could not possibly arise.

I have a little practical experience, and I know it is going to arise. The Minister has not tried to make any case for the section and has not given any reasons why we should pass it. We are going to have orders made by Ministers and civil servants under every section of the Bill, and once it passes from the House we have no further control—we do not know what regulations may be made.

This is a very remarkable section, and it is a very remarkable thing that the Minister did not give the House some detailed explanation of it.

I have been explaining the Bill for a month.

I should like to be referred to any explanation that the Minister has given on this point. The Minister has in his mind, or there was in the minds of the people who prepared the Bill, the idea of appointing certain areas, and having sub-areas inside appointed areas, or at least the possibility of that. We ought to have some general idea as to what are the characteristics of an area that would warrant its being regarded as a separate appointed area. Deputy Morrissey spoke of the possibility of having three areas, one of them being Leinster. If the Minister has any idea that he may make an appointed area as large as a province we ought to know. If he has at the back of his head that a county is suitable for an appointed area we ought to know that. For instance, if, say, County Galway is to be made an appointed area, surely we ought to be taken to that extent into the Minister's confidence. We ought to be told whether there is a likelihood of Galway being made an appointed area, of Clare being made an appointed area, or of Galway and Clare combined being made an appointed area. Then we ought to know something of what would be the characteristics and conditions of an area that will warrant separate regulations being applied to sub-divisions of such an appointed area.

The House has not got any information that I know of as to what is to be the size of the appointed area normally made by the Minister under the Act. On this section we would expect that the Minister would indicate what kind of sub-areas will be appointed if this section is put into the Bill. The people who drafted the section must have had some plan in their minds. If the Minister wants to persuade us that it was done by people who know anything about the turf industry they would have had some particular appointed areas, and possible areas for sub-division inside the appointed areas, in their minds when drafting the section. We do not know anything about the likely size of the appointed areas or sub-areas. The Minister has given no information as to the things that will enter into his mind, or into the mind of whoever deals with the matter, in deciding that differentiation shall be made as to the quantity of turf to be accepted by any person, based upon differences in the price of coal, the particular period of the year, and the place at which the coal will be delivered.

We are asked to give the Minister permission to fix different quantities of turf for coal at different prices, and we would like to have a general idea as to what is at the back of his mind in that. We do not want to tie him to any special detailed prices for coal, but we do want to have some idea of the different prices of coal he has in mind when he wants different quantities of turf to be taken with that coal.

Will the quantity of turf go up with the price of coal, or will the quantity of turf come down with the price of coal? If the year is to be divided into particular periods from the point of view of the quantity of turf that has to be supplied, will the Minister indicate to us what time of the year the most turf would have to be taken, and what time of the year the least turf would have to be taken? If differentiation is to be made in the quantity of turf according to the place of delivery of coal, will the Minister tell us into what particular classifications he has put the places of delivery as warranting differentiation in the matter of turf? Those are points on which we want the Minister to take us into his confidence.

Will the Minister tell us what kind of inquiry is going to be held in any appointed area or in any sub-area before regulations providing for those differentiations are made and given his imprimatur? Will there be an inquiry held in any sub-area, at which persons may attend and give reasons why certain differentiations should be made or why certain differentiations should not be made? If, in any sub-area, regulations are going to be issued, based on the price of coal, the place to which coal is delivered, and the period of the year, it seems to me that that can be satisfactorily settled only by an examination of the local conditions, and that that examination of local conditions, in order to be satisfactorily done, must be done by means of some kind of an inquiry. Will turf-cutters, householders or manufacturers in any of those sub-areas have an opportunity of appearing before any such inquiry and giving their assistance in seeing that the regulations are provided upon lines which meet local requirements?

I am wholeheartedly in favour of the policy contained in this Bill, and do not want to be in any way associated with the Opposition in the attack which they are making upon that policy.

Have no fear of it.

I am in favour of giving every possible encouragement through this Bill, through the voice of the Minister, and through any agency he may have at his disposal, to induce more people in the countryside and in the villages surrounding the bogs of this country to burn more turf. I should like, however, to hear the Minister a little bit further in regard to his own intentions in connection with the administration of this section. I should like to know, for instance, whether, before he compels a coal retailer or any other person to buy and sell a certain quantity of turf with a certain quantity of coal, he will have official inquiries made through his own Department to ascertain if there is a sufficient supply of turf available in that particular area to comply with his proposed regulation? If the Minister, for instance, makes a regulation compelling people in a certain area, whether coal retailers or others, to buy and sell a certain quantity of turf with coal, and the necessary supply of turf is not available there, I can see the price of turf being put up immediately. The price of turf, I think, is regulated in the same way as the price of every other commodity, by the law of supply and demand.

That is gone out of fashion.

While I want to see a fair price given to the turf producers for their turf, I do not want— especially when there is no control over the price of fuel of this kind—a false price forced upon the people who are compelled to burn turf, particularly those who may be compelled to burn it in the future in the towns. I should also like to remind the Minister that in and around the towns and cities where this regulation might be applied he should take into consideration the lack of storage accommodation for turf by the cottage people who have not more than a big garden attached to their houses.

All that was discussed at length on the preceding section.

I say, Sir, that those considerations have to be borne in mind by the Minister. I was wondering if he could indicate to us whether he took those matters into consideration when he was drafting this section, and, if so, what his intentions are with regard to forcing the purchase and sale of a percentage of turf. I should like to know whether official inquiries will be made and, if so, from what source, as to whether the supply of turf is there to meet the regulations which the Minister may make under this section of the Bill.

There are quite a lot of people in the House, I think, who do not believe that there is really any serious policy at all behind the Bill. I am glad Deputy Davin thinks there is; it is some encouragement. Personally, I think the Bill is a huge joke as far as giving employment is concerned.

I do not agree with the Deputy.

Then we can agree to differ. The Minister was interesting when he told us that he wanted this particular variation in the section, so that he could vary, from village to village, if you like, the amount of turf which he would compel people to buy. One of the reasons he put forward for that was that he wanted to specify a greater amount of turf where it would be more economical for the people to burn it. Mind you, I thought that the people of this country were sensible enough to realise that for themselves without any governmental or ministerial interference, and I think so still. I think that the people have always burned turf where it was more economical for them to do so, and it is not necessary for the Minister to go down and tell them: "You must burn more turf here, because it is cheaper for you to do so." That is all humbug; the people of this country are not fools.

Then it will do them no harm.

Of course not, but the Minister must have his hand in; he wants to be able to interfere with the liberty of the people in that regard. The Minister also told us that the amount of turf to be bought would be the amount that would apply to the area in which the purchaser resided. If we examine that, it rather brings us to a pretty involved state of affairs. The Minister can make an Order which will entitle him, I understand, to fix the amount of turf, varying, if you like, from week to week and from month to month. Let us take the case of a coal retailer, say, in No. 8 area, wherever that would be. That man knows the complement of turf that he must sell with coal in his own particular area, but, according to the Minister, he must also know the amount he would sell to a man from No. 1 area. He should supply that man with exactly the amount he was entitled to in his No. 1 area. Does the Minister hope to operate that type of what I might call affliction on the people? He will not be able to do it. It is humbug on the part of the Minister if he thinks he is entitled to vary his Orders from day to day and from week to week, and if all the retailers in the country must not alone know what is applied to their own particular area but what is applied to every area in the country.

Deputy Brennan, I think, is in a position to testify that the people of the country do foolish things occasionally; they sent him here. Most of the points raised by Deputy Mulcahy and by Deputy Davin were dealt with in a previous discussion, and it is hardly necessary to go over them again.

They were not, and this section, I submit, Sir, is the place on which they should be dealt with.

The matter raised by Deputy Davin was dealt with on the last occasion here, and I said that the powers concerned would only be used to the extent that would enable the available turf to be disposed of and that there was no intention of creating an artificial scarcity of fuel. There will, of course, be precise information as to the quantity of turf available. There are only three sources from which it can be procured: the Turf Development Board, the co-operative societies recognised by the board, or a company approved of under the Bill— and from each of these sources it will be possible to get, at the commencement of each season, accurate information as to the total quantity available.

At the commencement?

Yes, at the commencement of the winter season. The regulations to be made, if any, will be such as to ensure that that quantity will be disposed of. It is possible that in many areas, or in some years, regulations will not be necessary, and the turf will be available in such quantities that we can hope to dispose of it without the use of the powers contained in the provisions of this Bill at all. However, in the event of it being necessary in any year, or in any area, to use the powers contained in this Bill, they will be used to such extent as will enable that turf to be disposed of, and to see that there is no possibility of an artificial scarcity being created, resulting in a rise in price. Deputy Mulcahy referred to the law of supply and demand in this connection, but in this case there is a price fixed at which the turf will be available, and the price which will be paid by the purchasers and paid to the producers. It was thought desirable to have these powers in order to vary the manner in which the proportion of turf to coal would be determined in accordance with different circumstances.

The Bill is, of course, in a sense, experimental. It proposes to confer powers of a kind which have not been heretofore used, and it is desirable, therefore, to have these powers expressed in words which will enable them to be adapted to the requirements of the situation according as the situation develops. Ordinarily, the requirement in any area in respect of the purchase of turf could be expressed in terms of weight, or the quantity of turf in relation to the quantity of coal, but it may be necessary in some areas or on some occasions, or because of difficulties that we do not at the moment foresee, to express the particular requirement in some other form. Therefore, power is being taken to vary the proportion in whatever manner may be required as the occasion demands. I think it is a wise precaution, when the Dáil has approved of the principle of conveying these powers, to ensure that the form in which it is done will be such as to obviate any necessity for an amendment of the form at a later stage if it should not prove to be entirely suitable when it comes to be operated.

The Minister says that the Bill is in a sense experimental. The Government Press, on the 18th March, 1936, told the world: "The experimental period has passed."

What is that? The experimental period of what?

The Minister says that the Bill is, in a sense, experimental, and, in connection with the Turf Bill, in a leading article headed "The Turf Bill," on the 18th March, 1936, as I say, the Government Press declared: "The experimental period has passed."

That is a gross misrepresentation.

There is nothing experimental about the production of turf.

What else would we expect?


The Government Press also stated in the course of that leader:—

"The attempts which have been made to put it into force on a voluntary basis have proved signally successful. Where it has been tried it has exploited a neglected source of national wealth, and it has been the means of giving a considerable volume of local employment, of providing a supply of valuable fuel for household and domestic purposes, and of keeping at home the money which would have gone abroad for the purchase of coal."

The question which remains is whether——

The question before the House is Section 14, which is not concerned with the production of turf. The Minister is not responsible for an article, whether a leader or a sub-leader, in any newspaper. The Minister is here to state his own policy.

I am talking about the Minister's policy, Sir.

What is the Deputy quoting from?

I am quoting from a leading article in the Irish Press, headed “The Turf Bill,” in which people on whom this thing is going to be operated are told that the experimental stage has passed.

Deputy Mulcahy reads that paper so consistently that I am surprised he is not more intelligent.

On a point of order, Sir. When the Minister tells us in this section that, to vary the amount of turf, people will be forced to take it according to the price of coal, the quantity of coal, the period of the year, and the premises to which it will be delivered, surely we are entitled to ask for information as to what is at the back of it. We are told that this has been dealt with already. This has not been dealt with in this House, Sir. At no other stage of this Bill has the Minister informed this House what are the considerations that are going to make him set up different areas with different regulations inside them. At no time in the discussion of this Bill has the Minister told the House what are the conditions in any areas that would dictate that a different supply of turf would be taken with a ton of coal according to the price of that particular ton of coal. I should like to know if there is any Deputy in this House who has heard from the Minister what are the types of premises to which, if one ton of coal is delivered, a different amount of turf should be delivered. I should like to hear from any Deputy in the House who is in a position to tell me or the other members of the House that the Minister has dealt with that particular point already. The Minister says that he has. I should also like to know —and the Minister ought to be able to tell us this—how the period of the year is going to affect the amount of turf that has to be taken with any particular quantity of coal. The Minister says he requires these powers. Apparently, according to his reading of parliamentary procedure, they have been fully approved of in principle by being passed by the Party majority on the Second Reading, and therefore we need get no further information about it. The Minister thinks that difficulties may arise that they cannot foresee and that these powers would be useful. That, apparently, is the only explanation that the Minister can give on this particular section, because he seems to have no idea in his head as to why differentiation in the matter of the amount of turf should be related to price of coal or particular premises, except that the premises may be inspected with a view to seeing whether there is suitable equipment for the consumption of coal or turf in them. If the Minister had any idea in his head, I am sure he would tell us.

The section, coupled with the Minister's remarks, bears the stamp of what has been emphasised here, that people are dealing with this question who do not know anything about it, and do not know where they are going. When they drafted the Bill they did not foresee the difficulties that would arise. Now they want this hotch potch of powers to do the most astonishing things that could be put into a section. It gives no idea of what are "appointed areas," what conditions are going to require sub-areas being called into being, and no idea of what is going to happen inside any of these areas by way of inquiry of any kind to warrant differential regulations bearing upon the various amounts of turf that go with one ton of coal.

I hope Deputy Davin is quite satisfied with the assurance he got from the Minister in reply to his queries. At the beginning the Minister assured him that he was not going to use this measure to compel people to burn turf that did not exist. Then he told the Deputy that the Government saw the difficulties that might arise in the event of this scheme being put into operation, but so little did they know of the amount of turf produced, the amount that could be consumed in any particular area, or the period of the year, that they felt it was necessary to come to the Dáil and to ask for a blank cheque, by getting a Bill so loosely worded and so vague that it would be possible for the Government to make any regulations to deal with any conditions that might arise. That is about the most amazing statement I ever heard made by a Minister. He said the Bill was deliberately worded so that it would not be necessary to come before the Dáil with an amending measure. That means that his Department could legislate for this House. That was the assurance the Minister gave to such a democrat as Deputy Davin. I am sure the Deputy would not lend himself to that type of autocracy, to hand the power of this House to pass amending legislation into the hands of officials of a Department. That is what the Minister is asking. He admitted that. Deputy Davin said that he voted whole-heartedly for this Bill.

The policy contained in it.

And the basis of the policy contained in it is to pay 11/6 per ton for turf produced. Deputy Davin gives that whole-hearted approval.

The price is not fixed under this section. We have had five or six Second Reading debates on this Bill.

This is the sore point.

Deal with Section 14.

Everybody but the Minister is dealing with Section 14.

I am replying to the point made by Deputy Davin. This is the sore point, the one point that the Minister does not want to make quite clear.

What is it?

The starvation price to be paid for the turf.

It is a very good price.

It is a permanent price.

It is the price fixed and the Minister says it is a very good price.

That does not arise on this section.

I respectfully suggest that it does arise out of what Deputy Davin says. I can deal with it more fully on the next section. We have now got to this position on Section 14 that the Minister wants it worded in this extraordinary way because he has no idea of what is going to happen, and if he finds it necessary to make different regulations he does not want to have to come to the Dáil with an amending Bill.

On price.

On anything. Is the Deputy satisfied to do that?

Of course I am.

If so, he would see that the matter was properly investigated to see if it would be necessary to come before the House for amending legislation. I would like the Deputy to consider the Minister's statement.

A most intelligent statement.

I am not doubting the intelligence of it. A great many people in this country think Mussolini a most intelligent man, and probably a great many people think the same of Hitler.

What about Cronin?

If the Deputy wants to know what Commandant Cronin thinks, he ought to have a talk with him.

What about Section 14?

I do not know if it would be possible to restrain the Deputy. I was explaining that the only reason for this extraordinary section was that the Minister wanted it to meet any contingency likely to arise, and to meet any success or any failure that might attend his efforts. Under this Bill the Minister can trim his sails, and his Department can trim them, without the necessity of coming to this House for amending legislation. The statement of the Minister sums up his knowledge of this subject.

I take it for granted that these regulations need not be laid on the Table of the House?

According to the provisions of the Bill.

I ask the Minister for the third time if he refuses to tell me what he has in mind that may dictate the varying amount of turf to go out with a ton of coal, according to the time of year, the price, and the quantity of coal included in a sale. He is seeking powers to differentiate under these sections.

Ask Deputy Finlay. He knows more about it than you do.

The Minister has not explained.

I did my best to make it intelligible.

This section must be read along with Section 4. Under it the Minister has power to "declare that a particular area specified or delimited in such order shall, as on and from a date... specified in such order, be an appointed area for the purpose of this Act." In the following sub-section the Minister takes power to make additions or alterations. He is not restricted in any respect. He can make the whole or portion of Ireland an area. He is not bound to explain to anyone what addition or subtraction is required. I should like to know if our friend the Duce or his brother in Germany has taken more power than that.

The Minister answers to the Dáil for everything he does.

There is no power in this Bill by which orders the Minister makes come before the Dáil. This is a very involved section of a dozen lines, and the Minister can make separate regulations in respect of "appointed areas." He can have one area at one side of a street and another area at the opposite side. He can make them different areas in respect of orders, and still he has no responsibility to the House in connection with such regulations. Then the whole section stands upon this, that the Minister may take into account the period of the year at which coal is sold, the quantity of coal included in any one sale, the price at which coal is sold, and the place of delivery of such coal. Now, he has told us that what may be the governing factor in connection with the regulations he is going to make is the quantity of turf that is available. It was not worth his while to put that into the measure. Does the Minister know that there are different qualities of turf? He may make regulations prescribing the purchase by citizens of turf which is not of good quality. No Minister could possibly get more power in connection with a Bill of this kind than the Minister gets, and no Minister is less responsible to the Dáil in connection with any of the regulations he will make under this Bill. He makes these regulations, taking into account the price at which coal is sold. He tells us that the price of turf is out of order on this section. Surely the Minister has in mind the price of turf when he is considering the price of coal?

Not under Section 14.

The quantity only, evidently, is to be taken into consideration. Surely when the price of coal comes into it, the price of turf is also relevant. The quantity of turf is relevant; the price must be. I object to the section.

The Minister made an extraordinary interruption. I gathered from him that when he is making regulations under this section the price of turf is not a relevant consideration. That is the only thing that follows from his interruption. Otherwise the price of turf is relevant.

Not under Section 14.

Therefore the price of turf is not a relevant consideration in making regulations under this section?

It may arise in connection with other sections.

It is one of the matters that may be taken into account.

Not under Section 14.

The Minister can modify the amount of turf to be sold or the amount of coal to be sold. Surely the Minister should explain to us what are the factors he will have in mind in making the regulations. Is not the price of turf one of the matters that is relevant when he is making regulations, regulations which this House will never see? When we had two Houses we generally insisted that all such regulations should be laid before the two Houses. Now the most extreme powers are being assumed by the Minister without giving any opportunity to the House to consider them. Every step the Minister is taking is in the one direction.

I just rise to refute the contention of Deputy Cosgrave that the Minister is not responsible to the Dáil for his actions under this Bill. I do not know what Constitution Deputy Cosgrave had in mind. No doubt the resurrection of his Blueshirts is responsible for his Corporatism to-day, but as far as I am concerned I, like every other Minister here, am responsible to the Dáil for all my actions as Minister.

The essence of parliamentary government is that regulations of this character should come before the House for approval. We know the sensitiveness of the Minister in this regard. We know perfectly well whither he is tending. He has no conception of parliamentary government and he never had.

I indignantly refute that suggestion.

He has nothing but contempt for parliamentary government. He has shown that yesterday, to-day and last week. This very section is further evidence, if evidence were needed, that he has nothing but contempt for Parliament. Of course, every dictator pretends that he is responsible to the people. Every modern dictator believes that he is an exponent of democracy, but he is not an exponent of parliamentary institutions. That is what is wrong: the Minister does not know what parliamentary institutions are for.

I am getting a good object lesson to-day.

Unfortunately the Minister never learns from lessons. He should have learned sufficient lessons from the experience of his Party, but he never did. He objects to being asked for information and he refuses to give it. He refuses now to allow these regulations to come before the House.

The bright picture contained in Section 14, as depicted by Deputy Cosgrave, deserves to have its brightness heightened by Section 17 (1), which states:—

The Minister may, if and whenever he thinks proper so to do, grant to any person an exemption from the provisions of this Act relating to the compulsory purchase of turf.

The whole picture is a little bit complete then. Having refused to answer questions put to him in regard to the various matters that are dealt with in this section, will the Minister answer this question: Will an inquiry be held locally when it is proposed to make a differential regulation with regard to the amount of turf that has to be taken with a ton of coal? Will it be possible for the local people to appear, express their opinions, and give evidence before such an inquiry?

It is not proposed to hold a public inquiry, but if necessary inquiries will be undertaken.

What does that mean?

The inquiries necessary to get whatever information is required to enable the officials of the Department to act as sensibly as they have done in the past.

Does that include an inquiry as to the relative price of turf and coal and the quantity of fuel available?

It would include an inquiry as to the quantity of fuel used in the area and the quantity available.

And the relative price?

I think I have explained that at great length already.

Whenever the Minister has a bad case he introduces politics and other irrelevant matters into the discussion here. One of the first things he introduced to-day was the Blueshirts. The Minister will remember——

Does the Deputy stand over the statement that the Minister is not responsible to the Dáil?

I certainly say that the Minister for Industry and Commerce under this Bill has no responsibility to the Dáil. He can say at any time that anybody raises any question in connection with this Bill: "There is no responsibility on me to defend any of these Orders in this House." The terminology used here is that the Minister may whenever he thinks fit issue an Order. Will the Minister show where in this Bill it is prescribed that any regulation has to be brought before the Dáil? Will he show where the sanction of the Dáil has to be obtained in respect to any regulation? Will he not admit plainly and definitely that this Bill throws over parliamentary responsibility completely and vests in an individual absolute power which he can exercise at his own discretion, if and when he thinks proper? He may be asked a question but the Minister himself has had experience of Ministers refusing to answer questions. The Minister himself would be one of the first to say: "No responsibility was imposed upon me in connection with the administration of the Act to answer to the Dáil for what I did."

Under this Bill?

Yes, under this Bill. Will the Minister show me——

There is no one else responsible to the Dáil for it. I am answerable to the Dáil for anything that is done under the Bill.

There is no mention of any such responsibility upon the Minister in this Bill from A to Z. In fact, it has been systematically taken out of the Bill, if it were ever in it. The whole history of the Ministry in connection with the administration of public affairs is to seize power and to refuse to answer for it. On the last occasion on which the Minister appeared before the Dáil in connection with an Order made by him, the Leader of the Labour Party made a very poor speech in respect to an Order, for which the Minister was responsible, and the Minister was dumb. Is that responsibility to the Dáil? Is that the Minister's conception of parliamentary procedure?

And you remained dumb.

It was a serious case but the Minister was not prepared to face up to his responsibility to the Dáil.

That was your parliamentary tactics. What did your Party do in the Seanad?

The people who put down this motion have the obligation on them to stand for it.

What did your Party do in the Seanad?

That does not arise on this section.

It arises in this way, that the Minister portrays himself as a Minister responsible to the Dáil. I direct his recollection to his recent failure to accept that responsibility, and I say that parliamentary institutions are being made a farce and a mockery of by the two Parties opposite, the Government Party and the Labour Party. This section is the fruit of that mockery.

Question put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 57; Níl, 27.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Cooney, Eamon.
  • Corbett, Edmond.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Davin, William.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Everett, James.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Hales, Thomas.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Dowd, Patrick.
  • O Grady, Seán.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C.


  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Bourke, Séamus.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Daly, Patrick.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dockrell, Thomas Morgan.
  • Dolan, James Nicholas.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Finlay, John.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.
  • O Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Wall, Nicholas.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith; Níl: Deputies P.S. Doyle and Bennett.
Question declared carried.
Question proposed: "That Section 15 stand part of the Bill."

This is the section that puts an obligation on coal retailers to obtain their supplies of turf from what is known as an approved source. This section is going to impose hard ships not only on the retailers but, what is, perhaps, more important from the Minister's point of view, on the producers of turf. There are individual turf cutters, and in some cases small groups of families in a turf area— relatives forming two or three households—who come together for the marketing of their turf and whose turf, because it is of good quality, commands a better price than that of the local society. The merchants are prepared to pay for turf that is of consistently good quality—hard and well-dried—a higher price than they would pay for the ordinary turf which they would have to take. It seems to me that this section is going to impose a hardship in that regard. I gather from the Official Reports that Deputy Mulcahy raised this matter on the last occasion, and that the Minister made some interesting statements in reply. One of his statements was of very great interest to me personally and to, at least, one other retailer whom I know. If the Minister's statement is correct, he has given very useful and, if I may say so, rather valuable information, so far as I am concerned. The Minister said in reply to Deputy Mulcahy that the railway company would charge the individual retailer the same for carriage of turf as they would charge a co-operative society, that they had no right to discriminate. That is very welcome news to me. I can give particulars of my own experience, and there are others also affected. I can give the names to the Minister if necessary. These people have been purchasing turf, not under the Government scheme, but from individual turf cutters, and they have been paying these turf cutters a higher price than would be payable to the society. The Minister said that the people who did this should be in Grangegorman or some place like that. These people do not pay a higher price for turf for the sake of philanthropy. They pay the higher price because the turf they are getting is of better quality than the turf which they would obtain from the society. The flat rate for carriage of turf under the Government's scheme is 6/- per ton. The Minister says that the railway company will charge indiduals the same rates as they charge people from co-operative societies, that they have no power to discriminate. Would it surprise the Minister to know that, when I asked for quotations from the Great Southern Railways Company for the bringing of turf from Clare to North Tipperary, I was quoted £1 per ton.

For turf packed in sacks?

No, packed loosely in the wagon.

That is a different matter altogether. The flat rate applies only to turf packed in sacks.

If the Deputy cannot see that it is a cheaper business for the railway company to carry turf in sacks than carry it loose. I despair of explaining it to him.

The Minister despairs of a great many things. Would he not think it possible to put more turf loosely into a wagon than he could put into it in sacks?

It takes a longer time to do it.

Is not the turf loaded by the people who sell the turf, and not by the servants of the railway company, and is it not unloaded and brought away from the railway company's premises by the merchant who purchases it?

Is there a charge for dirtying the wagon?

To be fair to the railway company, I should say that, although their quotation was £1 per ton originally, when I went to one of the officials at Kingsbridge and explained the position to him, I got a reduction to 10/-, on undertaking that I would take certain minimum quantities. That rate is 4/- more per ton than I would have to pay under the Government scheme.

More than you would have to pay for the carriage of turf in sacks.

I hope to have the assistance of the Minister in getting a refund.

Is that a carrier's rate?

That is beyond me. I hope to have a talk with the Deputy about it afterwards and avail of his assistance. The Minister is surprised that anybody in his senses should purchase turf in that way and not get it under the Government scheme. It is worth more than 4/- to anybody in the business not to be tied down by the irksome restrictions made by the Department. Then, there is also the question of getting good-quality turf. It is worth while paying a higher rate for that. Are we to have the same position when this Bill becomes law, and are we to be confined to approved sources with regard to the sacks? Is the old stupid regulation, originally made by the Turf Board, that retailers will have to keep a minimum of 10 tons of turf in stock to be retained? What is the purpose of that regulation? Has the Minister any idea of the storage required for 10 tons of turf? Many persons who are trying to make a living out of retailing coal have not sufficient storage for 10 tons of turf.

There are many other irksome regulations. We are asked why we do not get it in sacks, but does not any person who has been in the business know quite well that it would be utterly impossible to keep trace of those sacks? Does he not know quite well that when they are given out, they are very often not returned? There is no coal merchant or coal retailer in this country who has had anything to do with the Government's scheme who has not had a great deal of trouble and been put to substantial loss, so far as sacks are concerned. Anybody who has knowledge of rural life knows quite well that when a farmer gets hold of a few good sacks, there is going to be some trouble in getting them back from him. It is quite a common practice in the country.

Putting them on a shed and tarring them.

It is a good job Deputy Finlay is not here.

Deputy Finlay is a sensible man——

The farmers are too honest to do that.

——and, unlike Deputy Davin, he is just as honest inside the House as he is outside. He knows that it is so, and so do Deputy Davin and everybody else. I want to get back to the other point, that there is going to be definite hardship so far as these approved sources are concerned, and I want to ask the Minister if he has taken into consideration the people we have spoken about, the people, who, from the beginning or middle of this month until the end of August, cut turf, who live on pieces of poor land adjacent to bogs, and who spend the winter disposing of the turf in towns and villages by the load or in smaller quantities hawked from door to door. In that way, they make at least double the price for their turf that it will be possible for them to make when this Bill becomes an Act. There are hundreds of those people in the country and I do not think it would be an exaggeration to say that there are thousands of them. Day after day from next October until the following February or March, so long as their supply holds, they cart that turf into the local towns and sell it in the market to persons who buy turf by the load, or hawk it from door to door selling 3d., 6d. and 1/- worth. In that way, it is not 11/- or 11/6 a ton they make, but at least double that, and so far as those people are concerned practically their whole market will be wiped out. I admit it will not be altogether wiped out because many of the people who will not be affected by Section 13 will still be able to purchase some, but even those people, when they go to the local coal store for their coal, where turf is available, will get out of the habit of buying from these people and will get it where it can be obtained at any time of the day. I think that is a very definite and very big hardship.

Then the other point arises that these people will lose money. There is one man—and I talk from personal knowledge—who next year will get anything from 2/6 to 3/- per ton less for his turf than he is able to obtain this year, and certain other members of his family also. I give that just as one illustration, but I have no doubt there are many others. The other case is that of the men who hawk turf in the towns. In my opinion, whatever good this Bill is going to do, if it is going to do any good, is going to be offset by the very definite harm and loss it is going to cause to people who have been in this turf business all their lives.

The considerations which prompted the inclusion of this section were discussed at very great length on the motion for the Money Resolution and on Deputy O'Sullivan's amendment to an earlier section, and I do not think it is necessary to reiterate them. We are requiring people in areas which are made approved areas for the purpose of the Bill to purchase certain quantities of turf. There is, therefore, I think, on us an obligation to ensure that they get good quality turf, or, at any rate, turf the quality of which can be supervised, and, therefore, it is provided that the turf sold to them must be turf obtained from an approved source, that is, one of the sources set out in the Bill. The reason for that provision is that we think it necessary to keep under supervision and control the quality of the turf supplied to merchants for resale in accordancce with the provisions of this Bill.

The statement I made to the Deputy as to the cost of transporting turf by rail stands. The railway company applied to the Railway Tribunal and got from the Railway Tribunal an order fixing 6/- a ton as the flat rate for the transportation of turf packed in sacks, and that rate is, and must be, available for anybody requiring turf to be transported, but when turf is packed loose obviously different considerations arise, and the flat rate does not apply.

It is a 6/- wagon rate?

A six-ton wagon?

Five tons.

When the Minister talks about ensuring the good quality of turf by getting it from an approved source, it is evident that he does not know what he is talking about. It is a great pity the Minister did not get advice from somebody who knew something about turf and bogs generally before speaking of ensuring the supply of good quality turf by getting it from an approved source. I should like to tell the Minister what I know is happening in the town of Roscommon and surrounding areas. There is a turf society in that district, and there are people there who sell turf to that society, but it is not their best turf by any means. They get a fixed price for it, but they hawk their best turf through the streets of Roscommon, and sell in competition with one another, and in competition with the different districts. That is what happens, and the Minister is going to ensure that he is getting good quality turf by getting his turf from the Kilteevan turf society instead of from the man in the street. The Minister does not know what he is talking about.

I would invite the Minister down to Roscommon on some market day or any week evening to meet the people from Kilteevan, from Beechwood, from Derrycarberry, from Lisanaria, from Weekfield, from Kilgefin, from Clooncroff and from Clooncundra, and to tell them that in future he will not permit them to sell turf in the town of Roscommon except to people who are not buying over 2 cwt. of coal at the time.

Why should I when it is not in the Bill?

It is in the Bill.

The Minister is endeavouring to ensure by this Bill that if a man buys good turf from those people he cannot regard that as a proportion against the coal he requires. Is that not what the Minister is ensuring?

Where is the section that says he cannot sell the turf?

He can sell it, but the user of coal cannot buy it.

Where is the section that says that?

Then the whole thing is humbug and the Minister does not intend to operate it.

The Deputy obviously has not read the Bill.

There is no use in trying to get away with that kind of stuff. That kind of thing will not wash. The people who are the ordinary users of coal and who buy a ton of coal at the time cannot buy that turf, and the Minister knows it, but the Minister will try to put any bluff over on the House. If the Minister does not know the first thing about turf he would not say that he was ensuring good quality by insisting on the turf coming through an approved source. If you want to ensure the supply of good turf, or good anything else, you are going to get it by competition, and in no other way.

The little boy from Lisanaria or Kilteevan who has been coming into Roscommon after school hours with a load of turf to sell to people in the town, possibly for the purpose of buying a pair of boots for himself, or some little household commodities for his mother, must stay at home now. He must deal with the turf society. We are going to have another situation arising in connection with these approved sources. There are merchants in the town of Roscommon who have country people working for them in their yards—maybe a country man who has a young family. There are farmers who have no bogs of their own but whose workmen have a bog, and they cut 15 or 20 crates of turf which they sell to their employers. That is the usual thing that happens around our place, and it happens with myself. I buy that turf from him. He has a sure market, and I give him a good price for it. Now I must cease doing that because that man does not belong to a co-operative society. There is only a small bog where he is, and quite a few people in it, and he cannot join a turf society. Consequently he must cut it. We cannot do without coal; I must buy my turf from an approved source, because otherwise I cannot get the coal. This is the kind of legislation the Minister brings in here, and Deputy Davin thinks that it is a good thing in the interests of labour and in the interests of the poor. It is no such thing. There may be such a thing as the interests of the Turraun peat people, or the interests of the Turf Development Board. But in respect of the small man who cuts his own turf, or cuts a supply for a neighbouring farmer or shopkeeper, all the help given him is that he is being crushed, and still Deputy Davin thinks that is a very good policy.

Deputy Brennan is not aware of what is going on.

Then perhaps Deputy Davin would tell us. I can tell the Deputy that I know what is going on. In Roscommon we have good bogs and good turf, and we have also bad turf and bad bogs. We are users of coal and turf in Roscommon. I would like Deputy Davin to inform the House as to what is happening in Leix. I know what is happening in Roscommon, and I invite the Minister to go down to Roscommon and talk to the people who cut turf there and talk to the people who buy turf. They would tell him some things he does not know and give him their opinion of this Bill. If the people are to buy turf only from an approved source, what is the ordinary private turf-cutter to do? He has the right to hawk his donkey-load of turf around the streets and sell to the poor people who cannot buy any coal. He cannot sell to the ordinary man in Roscommon who is prepared to buy large quantities of turf for his own use. That is the sort of thing that Deputy Davin says is good policy. It is the sort of thing we are opposing here.

I am afraid there is very little use in inviting the Minister down to Roscommon or to any other town——

I do not need to wait for Deputy Brennan's invitation to go to Roscommon.

The last thing of which the Minister is desirous is the getting of practical information on the subject. Is it not quite clear from what has emerged in the course of this debate that the Minister is prepared to crush out the ordinary small producer of turf, the man who cuts turf on his farm as a sideline, brings it in and sells it in the local town? The Minister says there is no provision in the Bill to prevent that. Of course, there is not. There is no necessity for it if you destroy a man's market and prevent him from selling turf in that market. Our contention is that the whole trend of this Bill—I will not say that it is the purpose of the Bill—is to wipe out of existence the ordinary man who cuts turf and sells it in the country towns. Everything that has cropped up in the course of this debate only makes that clearer. It makes equally clear the Minister's complete callousness so far as the welfare of the ordinary turf cutter is concerned. The Minister is prepared to let that man be wiped out, so long as the Turf Development Board can produce the turf. That is the attitude that the Minister is taking up here. His only defence is: "I have no compulsory power to do that; it is not in the Bill." Remember that a man's market is being wiped out, and his trade is being ruined. There is no necessity to pile up further legal penalties to deal with such a man and to prevent him from selling his turf. There is the matter that was mentioned by Deputy Morrissey in connection with the question of the transport of turf. That shows the discrimination that is being used against the private turf cutter. The Minister pointed out that there was a flat rate of 6/- on turf when packed into bags. He did not controvert Deputy Morrissey's statement that more turf could be packed into a wagon if packed in loosely. There was no reason, therefore, why the railway company should charge only 6/- a ton for turf conveyed in bags, while charging 10/- for turf properly packed into the wagon. There is no extra charge on the company in any way.

The rates were not fixed by me.

Is it not possible that the Minister could go before the Railway Tribunal and have a rate fixed for loose turf? Is there any reason why the Minister should not see that there would be fair play given as between the people who transport their turf in bags and the turf cutters who sell the loose turf?

Both sections are charged the same rates.

The Minister has not controverted the charge that the rates to the approved societies are more favourable. Was that matter brought before the Railway Tribunal by the Minister? I daresay the Minister is not interested in this matter of transport of turf. That is my point, that he is not interested in the case of the small producer. That is the point I am making. The Minister in the course of this debate calmly sat down and bore out that point. He is in favour of wiping out the small producer.

The Deputy should not jump to conclusions on facts of which he is not aware. This question about the transport was raised in connection with the West Clare Railway, a narrow gauge railway——

The Minister was challenged to make that case, but he showed his contempt for the Dáil and refused to make it. That is one single instance of his attitude to the House. He refused to make a case on the grounds that he did not need to make it, and now by way of interruption he tries to make a case.

Does Deputy Morrissey not know that the West Clare Railway is a narrow gauge railway?

Did it strike the Minister that the House was interested in this debate? He refused to make a case to the House.

And only 27 members of the Deputy's Party came in to vote on the Bill.

Only a very small number of the Minister's Party are following the debate, or showing by their presence here that they have any interest in it.

Why are Deputies opposite drawing attention to their own shame?

Notice taken that 20 Deputies were not present; House counted, and 20 Deputies being present

The Minister still persists in his attitude so far as these small turf producers are concerned. He has got many powers of inspection under this Bill. There is no reason why he could not allow a coal merchant to purchase turf from the turf cutter. He says it will involve too much inspection. That is the excuse he put forward the last day. It is quite clear from the explanation he gave, even on a small point like that raised by Deputy Good, that he will have to have inspection at the sale. If what he is interested in is the quality of the turf it is obvious he can inspect that quality in the merchant's yard quite as efficiently and quite as thoroughly as he can on the bog. There must be inspection there; otherwise there can be any number of evasions under this measure.

Inspection after a merchant has purchased?

Suppose we reject it?

It is the merchant's business to purchase good turf. As for the Minister, he seems to have no conception of the ordinary methods of trading. He has passed out of them apparently. His use of regulations and compulsion has been so much that the ordinary considerations of barter and exchange seem to have passed out of his mind altogether. It is the business of the coal merchant to purchase turf that will pass inspection, and he can purchase as good turf from other sources as the turf board will give him. Is that the Minister's only objection—that he cannot rely on the merchants to purchase proper turf or turf of the required quality? Is that the principal objection?

My objections are set out in columns 691 and 692 of the Official Report.

They are no use because they conflict with the whole machinery of the Bill. The objections the Minister set forth there are based on the idea that there will not be much inspection. It is quite obvious when you come to the sale of turf by the merchant to the consumer that there will be considerable inspection. Why cannot that inspection be got to cover the quality of the turf? It is quite obvious that the Minister is determined to help his board at the expense of the small producer and he is doing it deliberately. Everything he has said confirms the opinion that he is doing it deliberately, or at least in this sense, quite irrespective of the loss he may cause that individual. It is because of the crying injustice in that respect that we protest against these powers and against these provisions of the Bill.

Deputy O'Sullivan may find it very easy to convince the muddle-headed supporters of his own Party that the individual turf producer is being cut out by the provisions of this measure, but if he had been listening to Deputy Morrissey, who spoke just a short time ago, he would understand quite clearly that the individual turf producer who will go on producing turf for sale of a quality equal to or perhaps better than that produced by the turf society, will always find a purchaser like his colleague, the patriotic Deputy Morrissey.

He cannot. Deputy Davin evidently has not read the Bill.

What is to prevent him?

I am dealing with the argument put up by Deputy O'Sullivan and the contradictory argument submitted by Deputy Morrissey.

Their arguments were on the same lines.

Deputy Morrissey said he was getting turf from a supplier in County Clare and he was prepared to pay 10/- a ton carriage, because it was better turf than he could get from the local turf society. The individual suplier who comes along in the future will have the same liberty as at present to sell turf in the local market.

No, he will not be allowed.

I think Deputy Davin should be allowed to make his statement without interruption.

It is only fair to correct him when he is in error.

There is nothing to prevent the producer selling in the open market in competition with the turf society in the future.

That is quite true.

There is a section in the Bill that will not allow him to do so.

What section?

That is Deputy O'Sullivan's interpretation and the interpretation of his colleagues in regard to this section, but it is not my understanding of it. Why does Deputy Morrissey go to the County Clare for his turf? Why is he prepared to pay more for his turf there and to pay the cost of carriage to his home? There is one point I would like to emphasise, and it is that the turf society will in future, as they have been doing up to the present, turn out turf of a mixed character, whereas the individual who wants to hold his own in the market will have every right to do so and, so long as he cuts turf of a superior quality, he will always find a better market and will secure a better price than the turf societies who will continue selling turf of a mixed quality.

Would I be allowed to explain the position to Deputy Davin?

I would like to know from the Minister if there is anything in the Bill that will cut out that type of turf producer in the future.

Nothing whatever.

We will ask the Minister to deny, if he can, what I am going to say. My point is that when this Bill becomes law, neither I nor any person in a similar position will be allowed to buy turf from the people we are now buying it from, or from any turf producer in a similar position. Again, the individual turf producer will not be allowed to sell to me. He will have to pool his produce with the local turf society and take whatever price is going.

That is just nonsense.

Does the Minister tell me that a coal retailer, who is at present purchasing turf——

Is the Deputy a coal retailer?

He is, of course.

A coal retailer purchasing turf to be sold under the provisions of this Bill must buy from an approved source. But the individuals about whom Deputy Davin is concerned are not selling to coal retailers.

I make the point that the individual turf producer who is selling it on the local market to any individual will have the same rights in the future as he had in the past.

Our contention is that the provisions of this measure will cut out the individual producer.

Deputy Davin and the Minister are quite wrong; the only difference is that the Minister knows he is wrong. Let Deputy Davin get this into his mind, that the individual who now buys turf from an individual turf seller in the market will no longer be able to do so; the majority of the people who now buy their loads of turf in the market will no longer be able to do so. They cannot get coal from the coal retailer without buying turf. There are people who burned coal and turf before the Minister ever thought of this Bill.

I am mainly concerned about the rights of the individual turf producer.

Let me try to make the position clear.

You will not get me on to your rail at any rate.

I do not want to get the Deputy on to the rails at all. If he got on to the rails, God knows where he would stop. I want to make this point so far as the individual turf-seller is concerned—the man who depends mostly for his custom on people who burn turf and coal.


There is no question about it. There are people who burn turf exclusively but they are comparatively few.

But there are people who burn it mainly, and they are very numerous.

They are not. The point is that a man will not buy a load of turf when he knows that to-morrow or next day he may want to buy half a ton of coal, and that he cannot get it except he buys a certain prescribed amount of turf also. The Minister knows that. The difference is this so far as the individual turf-seller is concerned, and Deputy Davin will find that this is the case in his own constituency: Persons selling turf in the market now, either to a coal retailer or to individuals, will find that instead of getting £1 for a ton of turf, as he was in the habit of getting, will be lucky if he gets 10/- for it.

Another point that has escaped Deputy Davin's attention is this. There can be no question as to the accuracy of what Deputy Morrissey stated. If Deputy Davin did not follow it, he can read it in the Official Report later on. There is an evil going to arise in connection with this whole matter that is not evident on the face of the Bill, and could not be known to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, because he knows nothing about the conditions that prevail in rural Ireland. Under the law, when the Bill comes into operation, any person who buys coal in a prescribed area must buy turf as well. Now let us say the population of any given town consists of 50 per cent. of people burning nothing but turf, and they are not affected by the Bill at all. 25 per cent. of the remainder burn turf and coal, and they are only affected to the extent that Deputy Morrissey explained. But these people will be driven from getting their supplies from their ordinary turf supplier and will be forced to buy from the coal retailer under this Bill. Then you have a further section of the people, persons who heretofore burned nothing but coal. Their houses are adapted for the burning of coal, and, as Deputy Dockrell pointed out, unless they put in new grates and ranges they will not be able to burn turf——

On a point of order. We are discussing Section 16 of the Bill, on which the question of grates and ranges does not arise.

Sit down. That is not a point of order.

The Minister is raising a point of order, and it is for me to decide whether it is a point of order or not, and not for Deputy Dillon.

The only point with which the section is concerned is the purchase of turf. The suitability of the grates for burning does not arise, nor does the question as to people who do not burn turf arise.

That is simply absurd. With very great respect I contend this only shows the morass into which the House is being forced. These people will be forced to buy turf from special sources of supply.

If such regulations are made.

The point is that the question as to whether people have proper receptacles for storing or burning turf does not arise on this section.

I direct Deputy Davin's attention to the case of persons who ordinarily burn coal. For reasons of order we cannot refer to whether they can burn it or not. When they are forced to buy turf they will go to their neighbours, who do burn turf, and say: "I do not want this turf which I had to buy from my coal retailer. Will you take it off my hands?"—The ordinary price of that turf may be 10/- or 8/- a horse creel. —"I ask you to oblige me by taking it off my hands and clear this turf out of my yard. If you take it off my hands, I will give it to you for 4/-." That person was obliged to pay to his ordinary coal supplier the price prevailing for whatever turf he was forced to take. Then, later on, comes along the casual turf cutter who is in the habit of selling his turf in the town. He goes to his ordinary customer and asks him, "Are you buying any turf to-day? I have a horse rail which I can sell you now." The customer to whom that turf cutter ordinarily disposed of his creel refuses to pay the price asked, and says, "My neighbour, who was forced to buy turf with his coal, has sold it to me for 4/-."

You have in this town that I have instanced 50 per cent. of the people burning turf; 25 per cent. who burn turf and coal, and 25 per cent. who only burn coal. These latter 25 per cent. are going to become a constant source of supply to their neighbours who otherwise would be supplied by the ordinary small man bringing in turf to the town for sale. The result will be that these people will be driven out of the market simply for the purpose of subsidising this Bill, because the people who are constrained by the provisions of this Bill to buy turf and coal when they do not want turf, will sell that turf to somebody else at whatever price they can get for it.

Deputy Dockrell spoke of people clamping turf on the landings of their flats. Unless the people affected by this Bill are prepared to build clamps of turf in their back yards they must dispose of the turf somehow, and what can they do but sell it to somebody else who wants it? Deputy Davin knows that if you are going to a market with a commodity that you must get rid of, you will not get the market price for it because you will find yourself in competition with people who get their turf from the retailers and do not want it. If a man offers his labour and says he will take whatever wages are offered to him, the effect would be to depress wages all round. If people are driven to sell turf in the market for whatever other people who do not want it are prepared to sell it to their neighbours, the effect will be to depress the price of turf all round. If the price of turf is depressed below the price at present prevailing, how can any person expect to make a profit out of selling turf as a side line? These people will be compelled to cut turf, foot it and spread it for next to nothing, or else they must get out of the business altogether. They are going to be put out of business and no one will be left in existence but the Turf Board in Dublin. You will have repeated in this case what has happened several times before, namely, that the Minister for Industry and Commerce will take the Minister for Agriculture by the throat, roll him in the mud and tell him that the interest of his Department must go, and that the interest of the Department of Industry and Commerce must prevail; and the country people can do nothing because they have been bamboozled by Deputy Davin and Deputy Victory.

By everyone except Deputy Dillon.

Can the Deputy deny a single syllable of what I have said? So long as he co-operates with Deputy Victory and others this kind of codology will be palmed off upon the people. We understand the condition of the people, but the Minister does not know anything about them. He might be expected not to interfere with those people who have been engaged in the production of turf and who, as Deputy Davin must now realise from what Deputy Morrissey has said, are going to be driven out of the market or out of production of turf instead of getting a better price for it.

I realise the extent of your exaggeration.

I would not have spoken only my name has been dragged into this several times this evening. We are told by Deputy Dockrell that there is no conspiracy on the Opposition Benches. With great respect to Deputy Dockrell, I doubt it. As far as I can see, the conspiracy is against developing anything in the line of native fuel here. I wonder will the Opposition consider that there have been two general elections fought and that the question of self-sufficiency was decided in both cases. If we are tending towards the point of self-sufficiency in fuel, I do not see why the Opposition should carry on what I call wilful obstruction this evening, because it is nothing else. We are told about the side-line men and my name has been joined up with them. Deputy Dillon told us that there were 25 per cent. of the people who do not burn anything but turf; that there were 25 per cent. who burn turf and coal, and that there were 25 per cent. who never burn turf.

Fifty per cent.

As to the 25 per cent. who are too grand to burn turf and who object to burn turf, if we standardise the turf, as we are trying to do in these appointed areas, trying to get a first-class article there, and after a time it is acceptable to those people, will there not be more turf burned than there is?

If these people put in two fireplaces in each room.

What do they want two fireplaces for?

You have only just come in. That was argued before.

Do you think there is a range in every bedroom in the country?

I say that there is nothing to prevent the side-line men from selling turf as they always sold it. I go further and say that they can sell more easily now than heretofore, because if there is a standard article put up of good quality people will go in more for turf, and that is what the Government are trying to do. If there is a serious coal strike within the next couple of months, some of the Deputies opposite will lie very low after the arguments they have used.

I burn both turf and coal, and every year I buy two ricks of turf. Can I buy those two ricks in future and also be allowed to buy coal? The man from whom I buy cuts the turf on his own land and is not a member of any co-operative society, and I give him more than 11/- per ton for the turf. Will I have to come to a merchant in Dublin from whom I buy coal in future in order to buy the turf? I would like the Minister to answer that question.

That is the question.

The question is quite easy to answer. If the area in which the Deputy resides is made an appointed area, and if a proportion of the turf is fixed which must be purchased when coal is purchased, then the Deputy must buy turf from the coal merchant when buying coal, but only to the fixed proportion. That is as far as the compulsory powers go.

What about the man from whom I have been buying the turf for ten or 15 years?

As far as the Bill is concerned, the turf to be sold must be turf produced by a co-operative society or the Turf Development Board. The great majority of the turf producers are in these societies. I fail to see how it is possibly going to be detrimental to turf producers to require a greater use of turf in the country. These people who are pretending to be so concerned about turf producers are the same people who opposed every measure introduced here for the past three years to encourage the use of turf. They even voted against an Estimate to pay the cost of advertising appeals to people to use turf. They voted against all those measures which helped the individual turf producers just as much as the co-operative societies.

The Deputies are concerned about the individual turf producers now, very concerned, but they are concerned only because they can shelter behind the individual turf producers in order to obstruct a scheme designed to encourage and increase the use of turf as fuel. That is their purpose. The rest of it is merely hypocrisy. Their sole purpose is to prevent the development of turf—they have no other aim. All the arguments they have been using upon the Bill, the tactics they have adopted, obstructive tactics designed to waste Parliamentary time and prevent the Bill passing, have all behind them just this desire—that they are not going to let the Government get the credit of the big development in turf which will put a large number of people into employment and a lot of additional money into the bog areas and bring benefit to a large number of families in the country. They do not want that to happen because it may redound to the political advantage of the Government and, therefore, in their own Party interests they are obstructing the measure and trying to prevent that scheme going through and doing it in the name of the individual turf producers. It is the worst demonstration of hypocrisy which has been seen in the Dáil for many a day.

I am sorry that the Minister got so hot over my question. When I was a young lad I cut turf with my brother and sold it for pocket-money and, therefore, I know all about turf cutting. Under this Bill, people in my parish who lived by cutting turf and bringing it into Granard for sale cannot do that in the future. They must dump it with some merchant.

There will be more turf sold than ever.

I cannot buy turf in future from the man from whom I have always bought it.

Why not?

He cannot get coal if he does.

At present I have two ricks of turf.

At long last we have seen the Minister in his old form. When the Minister is beaten in argument, when he has not a leg to stand on, he thumps the desk and lashes out and talks politics.

And makes a Second Reading speech.

He said the reason we were against this Bill—in fact, he accused us of obstruction—was because we did not want the Government to get the political kudos. If we were thinking only of the kudos coming to the Minister and his colleagues from the Bill we would have said nothing— we would have encouraged him.

You want to save us from ourselves.

I doubt that coming from you.

Strange as it may seem, it is true. Unfortunately, the Fianna Fáil Party, in bringing destruction upon themselves, are bringing it on the country also.

And you are sorry.

If it were only the Fianna Fáil Party that was involved in any destruction that would follow from their activities, we might not be so active. But there is a big difference. The Minister thumps the desk and gets angry because Deputy Fagan put a concrete case to him—a case that is going to apply to thousands of farmers. The Minister does not know it.

They can get plenty of turf.

There are farmers who cut their own turf and who also use coal. It will pay these farmers now to buy the turf from co-operative societies, and not bother about cutting their own turf, because there is no farmer paying any sort of a decent wage who can cut turf, save it, and deliver it to his home at 11/- per ton. I want Deputies to go down to the bog areas, where there are decent wages paid and decent conditions, and find whether the people can employ labourers and pay them out of 5/6 per load.

Do you belong to a bog area?

Certainly. I may be smiled at and sneered at by Deputies because, independent of the Government and without any compulsion from the Government, I tried to develop and sell turf myself. I have purchased turf so long as I could get it, and when I could not get it I went to Clare for it. I move to report progress.

Progress reported; the Committee to sit later.