On the Money Resolution, Sir. The Money Resolution in connection with this Bill is designed to render more effective the remedies at the disposal of the Minister for Agriculture for implementing the maize meal mixture scheme and the compulsory use of home-grown wheat in flour sold in Saorstát Eireann. On the Second Stage of this Bill I referred at some length to the maize meal mixture scheme, and, I think, made an unanswerable case for the winding up of that scheme as a thoroughly unsound experiment that has conferred benefits upon nobody and that has increased the burden on the producers of pigs, live stock, and live-stock products, by 3/- per cwt. on the costs of their feeding stuffs. I reminded the House that, if a contention be made that benefits have been conferred by this legislation on the producers of cereals—a contention which I categorically deny—those who make it must go on to admit that the benefit accrues mainly to those farmers living in Leix-Offaly, North Tipperary, Kilkenny and Kildare, while the burden rests on the shoulders of those farmers who produce pigs and who, according to the report of the Pig Tribunal, live almost exclusively in West Cork, Kerry, Clare, Galway, Mayo, North-East Donegal, North Longford, Cavan and North Leitrim.
That list of areas corresponds exactly with the list of areas described by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance as the list of areas in which unemployment, poverty, and low standard of living are most prevalent in this country. I say that it is a rank injustice to finance any relief which may be extended to farmers living in Leix-Offaly, Kildare, North Tipperary, and the more comfortable parts of the country, out of the pockets of the uneconomic holders in the west and north-west of the country. If we want to subsidise the production of cereal crops in Kilkenny, Leix-Offaly, North Tipperary, and such parts of the country, then let it be done out of the Exchequer and let the whole community bear its fair share of the burden. You have no right, however, to lay the whole burden on the shoulders of the small farmers who are finding it hardest to live in the existing circumstances.
I do not want to trespass unduly on the patience of the House, but it would be possible to expatiate at greater length on the peculiar hardships that will fall on the small farmer who is a producer of live stock, not the fattener—not the person who buys live stock at a low price, and having fed it, sells it at a high price—but the man who is the primary producer of agricultural produce, on whom ultimately the whole burden of the destruction of the agricultural industry falls. It is that class are asked to bear the burden of this maize meal mixture scheme, and I say it is an unjust burden, a burden that is being borne with no good purpose, because no one derives any benefit, good, bad or indifferent, from it. This financial motion is also directed to promote the compulsory use of Irish-grown wheat in flour mills in this country. I entirely agree with the Government, in so far as they take the view that the milling industry should be protected from absorption by any extra Saorstát combine. I think that could be effected much more efficiently by another machine than that at present employed for the purpose. I would be prepared to notify anyone, whether from outside the Saorstát or inside the Saorstát, that if he attempted by trade operation of any kind to monopolise the entire milling industry, the Government would step in and take over the milling industry altogether as a Government concern. I think that would be a very deplorable development, that would react most unfavourably on the community as a whole, but if I had to choose between a monopoly of the flour-milling industry by an individual capitalist and monopoly by the State for the community, then I would choose the lesser of two great evils, and that is monopoly of the milling industry by the community. But I am satisfied that if potential monopolists were given notice, that any attempt to monopolise the milling industry by any individual would be met by the State with resolute and, if necessary, punitive measures, any danger of such would disappear, and we would not be confronted with the danger of a monopoly arising either from a national of this State or someone coming from outside.
I want to ask the Minister for Agriculture this question, and it is one to which I have never succeeded in getting an answer from any member of the Fianna Fáil organisation, from the Minister down to the secretary of a cumann in the country. It is a question that we need not lose our tempers about. It is purely an economic question, a theoretical question, which ought to be the subject of illuminating argument between us. What sound reason can there be for burdening the community with added expense in order to induce farmers to grow wheat? What advantage does the community get from growing wheat in Ireland? I can quite understand the individual farmer, who likes to have a bit of his own wheat ground into wholemeal flour for his own family, growing wheat. Any farmer who does that, does a wise thing. The more wheat that is grown on the individual farm for consumption in the household or on the farm, the better it is for everyone, because there are no transport costs. That is a raw material to manufacture, a process which the farmer carries to completion on his own land. If an individual farmer wants to sow a bit of wheat, and wants to have it ground into wholemeal flour and have it eaten in the household, I think all Parties will take the view that that is a harmless form of agriculture. When we come to the State intervening to induce farmers to grow wheat which is sold and milled into flour, I want to ask Deputies what is the point of it? Why do you want to do it? I remember warning the House many times and often that we are actually paying more for worse wheat when we buy Irish wheat than we would be paying if we bought Canadian wheat. The Minister for Agriculture sternly rebuked me for that allegation, but I challenge the Minister to deny if he can that at this present moment no miller in this country is putting a grain of Irish wheat into bakers' flour.
Heretofore, bakers' flour was made of Manitoba wheat, with a little Saskatchewan, and I believe in some lower grades of bakers' flour, there was a very small percentage, five to ten per cent., of Danubian wheat. My information to-day is that for a certain time the place of that Danubian wheat was taken by Irish wheat, but that now in bakers flour there is no Irish wheat being used at all. It is all Manitoban or Canadian wheat of one grade or another, and the entire production of Irish wheat is being used in shop flour. I ask Deputies to bear that in mind, and to realise that we are paying 11/- a sack more for bakers' flour than if we bought it in Liverpool. I do not want to buy it in Liverpool, but I want Deputies to understand what is happening. Millers in Ireland are using exactly the same wheat that millers in Liverpool are using, but the Irish people are paying Irish millers 11/- a sack more for flour than they would have to pay for it in Liverpool. That 11/- a sack means 1½d. on the quartern loaf for people who eat bread. How on earth can Deputies go on believing that a scheme of that character has any merit, unless they are prepared to say that the growing of wheat on Irish land has some extraordinary merit from the community point of view? I cannot see that it has any merit. The only argument I ever heard for subsidising the growing of wheat in any country in the world was that, in time of war, a country was independent of external sources of supply of flour and bread. There may be rumours of war in Europe, but there were no rumours of war last year or the year before. What then is the point of growing wheat when we are not on the verge of war? Are we forever to insure ourselves at the expense of £1,500,000 per annum against being caught in the toils of war or against having a crop of wheat in the land? If that is not the reason why we are to grow wheat, will some one tell me what is the object of growing wheat in this country?
No rational man will contend that the quality of wheat here is equal to the quality of wheat we could buy in Canada. That is no reflection on the community. It is a reflection of the dispensation of God, Who provided that the climate and the season that obtains in Canada would suit the cultivation of wheat, while the climate and the season in this country suits green crops and live stock. It happens that, in Canada and in parts of the United States of America, they can grow peculiarly fine qualities of wheat sufficient to supply the requirements of a greater part of the world. These countries cannot produce horses of the same quality as we produce. Can absurdity be carried to greater lengths than to suggest that Canada would refuse to buy Irish horses, which are unanimously the best horses in the world, and that we should refuse to buy Canadian wheat? We want good wheat; they want good horses, and we are both sitting at our respective sides of the fence, the Canadian saying: "Although we have wheat to sell and although you have horses to sell, we will not take your horses and you will not take your wheat. Therefore, you may cut your horses' throats and we may burn our wheat, you can go on eating bad wheat and we will go on driving bad horses." That seems to me to carry economic insanity to its wildest extreme. I appeal to the Deputies on the opposite side to examine this question calmly and detachedly, if such an examination be possible, and to see if we can arrive at some kind of rational agreement in regard to it because, if we do, we can save the State an immense burden and we can use the money, that we would have if we were not squandering it on this wheat scheme, for a variety of other most necessary purposes which, I believe, command the sympathy of the Government just as earnestly as they command ours. I invite the Minister for Agriculture to set before the House again why he believes in this doctrine of increased cultivation of wheat, and to state if he cannot see that there is some force in the argument I submit, that the benefits conferred on the community by the scheme are very small and that the alternative of allowing wheat to become an ordinary commodity of sale and exchange in our foreign trade, with resultant savings to the community purse, would enable us to do for the country things that we cannot do to-day. I would ask him to consider whether the arguments I put forward do not outweigh any considerations that he may have in mind in sponsoring this increased wheat cultivation.