Committee on Finance. - Agricultural Wages Bill, 1936—Money Resolution.

I move:—

That it is expedient to authorise the payment, out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas, of any expense incurred in carrying into effect any Act of the present session to make provision for regulating the wages of agricultural workers, and to provide for other matters connected with the matters aforesaid.

I want to know from the Minister if it is his intention to do anything with a view to assisting the farmers to pay a reasonable wage. The Money Resolution should, in my opinion, contain provision for assisting in the payment of a living wage, if it is the policy of the Government to allow the present dislocation to continue in the agricultural industry. The Minister's figures, supplied to us in debate on Second Reading, are very remarkable and show that a stage has been reached where the farmer really appears to be getting far less in proportion than the farm labourer. The purpose of this Bill is to improve the position of the labourer and my submission is that, if it is true that the income of the farmer has materially deteriorated for the last four years, it is quite impossible to improve the position of the farm labourer out of the farmer's pocket. We are back to the fundamental fact that no legislation of this House can extract blood from a turnip or water from a stone.

My submission is that the farmers have not got the money. In that connection I would direct the attention of the House again to the fact that the income of farmers in this country has dropped from £64,000,000 in 1929-30 to £40,000,000 in 1934-35. One-third of their income has gone. In 1929 the average wages obtaining in this country were something between 24/- and 25/-. The figures that, I think, the Minister gave us were that in 1926-27 the farmer was getting £93 per annum and the farm labourer was getting £66 per annum. In 1934-35 the farmer was getting £51 and the labourer £54. The Minister then proceeded to make a calculation and he said that by making certain calculations he desired to alter that figure and to say that the farmer was getting about £66 and the labourer about £55. Well, that represents a drop of about 30 per cent. in the income of the farmer between 1926-27 and 1934-35. It represents a drop in the income of the labourer of approximately 18 per cent. Over the same period the average cost-of-living figure, covering all the things that are taken into account when you are assessing the cost of living, dropped from 180 in 1926-27 to 154 in 1934-35. If you take the increase in food alone, you find that it dropped from 174 to 137. That is to say that the average cost of living for all things dropped 26 points, but the index figure for food alone dropped 37 points.

The farmer naturally has to buy most of the things other than food which are mentioned in the cost-of-living index and, therefore, although the average cost-of-living figure appears to have fallen by 26 points, in fact when you realise the cost of food has dropped 37 points, it becomes apparent that the things the farmer has to buy have in fact dropped only slightly, so his effective cost of living for 1936 is very much the same as it was in 1926. Nevertheless, his income has dropped by about 33 per cent. while the labourers' income has dropped 18 per cent. So that the farmer instead of being better able to pay a living wage to-day is very much worse than he was seven or eight years ago. Deputy Corry——

May I interrupt the Deputy to point out that there is a growing practice of regarding the debate on a Money Resolution as an opportunity for resuming the Second Reading debate? On the Money Resolution, discussion is or should be confined to the purposes for which the money is required.

The Chair will realise that there is sometimes a little difficulty——

I quite realise the difficulty.

——as to the very fine distinction that should be drawn. I am very anxious to keep strictly within the terms of the Money Resolution.

The Chair is not singling out Deputy Dillon. The practice is becoming general.

I quite understand. The difficulty is that, if certain amendments in my name are carried, the Money Resolution must make financial provision for them. The whole theory of labourers' wages and farmers' incomes is based on a pool of money. Out of that pool of money wages and profits must come. The Minister explained in detail that the pool was such-and-such a figure some years ago and we answered that it has dropped by £24,000,000 since. Our suggestion is now that if substantial justice is to be done to the agricultural community, including the agricultural labourer, that money will have to be put back into the pool before we can get out of it what will do substantial justice to all.

When we made that case to the Minister, we pointed out that the pool had been depleted in a peculiarly severe way, that in respect of cattle as much as £10,000,000 had been taken out of it, to which Deputy Corry said:

"Do not ask the Government to put moneyqua money into the pool because what they are doing is that they are instituting new systems of agriculture which are putting back into the pool just as much as their policy is taking out.”

He instanced wheat. I am not going to circumvent your ruling, Sir, but you see the difficulty, that it depends on the pool how much there is to go round. The Government's entire attitude has been: "If we admit, as we must admit on our own figures, that the result of our own policy has been gravely to deplete the pool in certain respects, then we plead in extenuation that we have contributed something else to the pool to make up for the deficit." Mind you, powerful propaganda is kept up to establish the truth of that contention, but when it comes to be examined you discover that the Minister has managed, by the policy of the Government to which he belongs, to take out of the pool approximately £21,000,000, and to put back into it, by the increased value of wheat and beet, about £1,000,000.

Where does the Deputy get the figures?

The value of the wheat crop increased between 1929 and 1934 by £600,000.

Who is the genius?

The Deputy should not be led away by interjections.

In 1929 the value of the wheat crop was £111,000, and in 1934 the value of the wheat crop was £703,000.

What is the value in 1936?

I am dealing with those years now; I will deal with 1936 in a minute. Between those two years, £21,000,000 was taken out of the pool by the Minister's policy. That is here in his own figures in theIrish Trade Journal. I fully admit that he put in £600,000. I specifically avoid referring to the cost of that to the community, because it does not come within strict relevancy to the Money Resolution. I admit that in respect of sugar beet he put in £460,000 between those two years. He increased the value of sugar beet from £360,000 to £820,000 between those two years to which I have referred. That makes £1,000,000 out of £60,000,000; that represents about 2 per cent. of the entire pool. Let us assume that he doubled that figure. Let us assume that he doubled the value of the wheat crop and doubled the value of the beet crop. I do not think Deputy Corry will accuse me of being ungenerous in that estimate. Let us assume that he made the £1,000,000 into £2,000,000 in the last year.

And a half.

In order to meet Deputy Corry let us say he made it £3,000,000. That represents 6 per cent. That is the fleabite which the Minister offers us as justification for the allegation that he can get out of the pool of agricultural profit at the present time a fair wage for the labourer. Let us assume that he grows all the wheat that is consumed in this country. Let us assume that he grows all the beet which is consumed in this country, as he is doing at the present time. I still say that, with the current Government policy, there will have been so much taken out of the pool of agricultural profit that unless the Government comes directly to the aid of the farmer a fair wage cannot be got for the agricultural labourer. It has to be borne in mind that the only source from which the pool of agricultural profit can be replenished is the produce of agriculture.

The Chair would like the Deputy to relate the speech he is now making to the paying of any expenses that may be incurred in carrying this Act into effect. It is for administration purposes that this money is required, not for paying the difference between what the Deputy calls an economic wage and a fair wage.

I see, Sir. Then the rules of procedure preclude me from suggesting that the Money Resolution should make that provision? That ought to be done by a Supplementary Estimate.

No, that is not the position. The Deputy may not, as he is aware, put down an amendment which would involve a charge. Precedent allows him, on the Money Resolution, to ask the Minister to make provision for the purpose of the amendment which he obviously has in mind but which he cannot move later. The Deputy is entitled to ask that the grant be increased. Although such request might be outside the scope of the Money Resolution the Chair will hear the Deputy.

That is the trouble I am in—that my amendment is not a complete amendment, because it is impossible for me to move an additional charge on the Exchequer. Therefore, we have got the principle that this pool, which we admit must be supplemented if a fair wage is to be got out of it for the labourer, is, in fact, filled out of the price of agricultural produce. Now, at first glance, it might appear that the wages pool was filled out of the entire price ruling for agricultural produce. But that is not true, because the wages pool and the profit pool consist of the surplus remaining over after agricultural produce has been produced and overhead charges paid. For instance, if you feed a pig that is agricultural produce. You might buy the pig as a bonham for 25/-, and sell it as a fat pig for £5. You might think you had a profit of £3 15s. but, of course, you have no profit until the merchant's bill for the feeding stuff has been paid, and you have no criterion whereby to judge of the wage you can pay the man who looks after the pig until you have ascertained what was the cost of the raw material which went into the producing of the fat pig. The same applies to a crop of oats which you used a mowing machine to reap. The same applies to a field of turnips which you used a plough to open up. All those costs must be met.

A farmer recently directed my attention to the fact that certain wages were fixed in 1917—25/-, 22/6 and 20/-for labourers over 21 years of age, and he said that the pool out of which they had to pay that was made up of wheat and rye, the price of which was then fixed by Government Acts at 2/2 a stone, which represents 43/4 a barrel. Now, he said the fixed price of wheat is 24/6, although the millers are giving us 27/6 and we hope to get 28/-, but there is a big difference even between 28/- and 43/4. He said at that time oats were worth 2/- a stone, or 28/3 a barrel, and now they are worth about 12/6. Recently there has been a little increase in the price. That depends on the artificial scarcity which the Minister is creating by keeping the maize-meal mixture at 50 per cent. We do not know to what the price of oats is going up, or what contribution it will make to the pool out of which those wages will have to be paid. The farmer went on to point out that in 1917 barley was contributing 1/11½ per stone, or 31/6 a barrel to the pool.

Would that price affect this Money Resolution; even as amended to meet the Deputy?

Only in so far as I can argue that that was contributing to the wages pool. There is only one other item I propose to mention. He mentioned that his fat cattle were then contributing 67/- per cwt. to the pool out of which he paid his labourers' wages, and they are now worth 23/-. At that time he was deemed to be giving a fair share of those profits to the labourer if he was giving him 25/-. He says now, on the present prices, and with the average agricultural wage at present being 21/9, the obvious purpose of this Act is to raise that wage substantially— or certainly it ought to be its object —and how can it be raised substantially, assuming that the figures of 1917 were fair, unless the Government provides money to bridge the gap? Now, Deputies of the Labour Benches made strong speeches on the principle of this Bill. Now comes the time for them to tell us where they expect the money to come from to make up that difference.

Is the Deputy for or against the Bill?

Yes, I am for the Bill. I am for the Bill on condition that the Government will make up the difference between a fair wage for those agricultural labourers and a wage that the farmer can pay. How does Deputy Corish expect that to be done? Does he think that it can be done by the mere grandiloquent gesture of passing a Bill and making a few speeches?

I was able to make myself sufficiently clear on the Second Reading without having to make two or three speeches like the Deputy.

How does Deputy Corish propose to get 30/- out of a farmer for his labourer if the farmer himself is earning no more than 29/-? There is no other method of getting it under the present circumstances than that of the Minister making a contribution out of the Exchequer. A sum of £20,000,000 has been taken out of the fund from which these wages must come. That £20,000,000 must be put back before a fair wage can be paid to the agricultural labourer. On the Second Reading, I urged one method by which the thing could be done, but that has been rejected and now there is only one other method, and that is that the Exchequer should put the money there—and, if it is going to put it there, now is the time to do it. If it is not going to do it, then it is up to the Minister to tell us how he proposes to meet the dilemma of paying a fair wage to the agricultural labourer if the men who employ him have not got the money to pay him. There is no escape from that dilemma. Deputy Corish says that he has made himself perfectly clear. To this categorical question, I ask an answer: How does this House propose to get a fair wage for an agricultural labourer out of a farmer who is not able to pay him that wage, unless the Exchequer makes up the difference?

Is the Deputy in favour of that?

Of what?

Of the House agreeing that the Exchequer should make up the difference?

Yes, as long as the economic war continues and you take £20,000,000 out of the farmers' income.

I just wish to deal, Sir, with a few of the statements made by Deputy Dillon. Deputy Dillon completely ignores the position in which we found agriculture when we came into office. The position of agriculture then was very clearly exemplified in a resolution that was proposed at a meeting of his local council, by a member of the Party opposite here in the Dáil, calling on the then Minister for Agriculture, or the Minister for Lands, not to look for any annuities and to grant a moratorium on account of the depressed prices of agricultural produce in the year 1929. That resolution was proposed, at the meeting of his local council, by Deputy Carey, who represented my constituency in the Dáil at that period.

Well, the farmers are £20,000,000 worse off now.

That was the position in 1929—that the farmers in my constituency, under the then Government, were completely unable to meet their annuities or the charges that were on them. Anybody looking at the value of agricultural produce in those years, will realise that that position had worsened considerably up to 1932, and it is only within the last three or four years that the farmers are recovering from that position. It is true that they have had to change completely their methods of farming in order to recover from that position. Let us take an instance of Deputy Dillon's own figures for 1934 and compare them with the figures for 1936. Last year the farmers grew over 250,000 acres of wheat. That was practically £2,500,000 for wheat as compared with his figures, and the value of beet has gone up also. My figures for beet are close on £900,000 this year.

Has the Deputy got the average yield of wheat for the past harvest and that of 1934-35?

I admit that the average has gone down owing to an inclement season, but it has not gone down in every area. It has been good in some areas.

Would it be true to say that the average has dropped from about ten to seven?

No, it would not.

What would the Deputy's estimate be?

Ah, well, I have to be arguing this in another place, and I do not wish to make a definite estimate now.

Do not make the mistake you made about the beet.

If Deputy Morrissey, who seems to be very interested in beet, will read the prices and see the arguments that have been put forward in England, where an agricultural wages board is operating and where wages far in excess of the wages here are being paid——

And which is a few hundred miles away from here.

I am only pointing out, Sir, in answer to Deputy Morrissey, that if he will only take the price prevailing in those areas, where a ploughman is paid two guineas a week and where the ordinary labourer gets about 37/6 and where the price paid for beet was 35/- a ton last year, without pulp, then he will come nearer his mark; and I may also point out that the average yield of beet there is three tons per acre less than it is here.

I suppose it is the Deputy's contention that the farmers are making a fortune out of it here?

No, I am not contending that. I do not say they are making a fortune out of it. I never said that, but I consider that I know a hang sight more, and care more, about the farmers' interests than Deputy Morrissey does.

Well, if the farmers are as happy as the Deputy says they are, all right.

Taking all these things into consideration, I wonder where Deputy Dillon's argument comes in? According to his argument, the farmers over there must be wasting their land and throwing it away by growing beet at 35/- a ton, and are they not foolish people to be doing so? Perhaps Deputy Dillon will go over there.

Mr. Brodrick

How is it that the Irish labourer gets such a big wage in the growing of beet and wheat in England?

The Deputy cannot speak for the farmers of Galway. He has been hunted. He is the last of the Mohicans over there. He is the only Deputy now representing Galway on that side of the House; he is the only Deputy out of nine. I am not in favour of subsidies. Deputy Dillon has been all the time arguing against subsidies. I am not in favour of subsidies for anything nor do the farmers want subsidies in order to pay their labourers or for anything else. They do not want subsidies. They want what they are entitled to——

Free markets.

The free markets that they are entitled to and a fair price for the goods consumed by the industrialists and capitalists and others and they are going to get that fair price.

On 25 per cent. of their output.

Wisdom again.

You know everything even about engineering on the Liffey. God save us. I do not consider that there is any necessity for the subsidising of agricultural wages. In the first place, I believe that when those boards are operating and when we see their position worked out, then will be the time for the farmer to say that he is to get a price for his produce that will enable him to pay a wage something on a par with the wages paid in other industries that are equally protected.

Does the Deputy realise that only 25 per cent. of the agricultural output is affected?

Since the Deputy came into the House I have realised that he knows nothing about the farmers—or just as much as he knows about the Liffey engineering.

There is no use on the part of the Deputy in abusing me——

Go out and work for a month on a farm and you will learn something about it.

The Deputy has sufficiently long experience to know that on the motion before the House he should address the Chair.

I apologise, but when Deputy Dillon comes along and professes to know everything, even about the engineering aspect of the Liffey and such other things——

Will Deputy Corry tell us something about this motion?

I have spoken on it and I am only now endeavouring to answer the points made by Deputy Dillon.

Mr. Brodrick

He has not said a word about the motion.

I have already dealt with Galway. Deputy Brodrick is the only representative of Galway on that side of the House. The farmers of Galway gave their decision on the policy of Deputy Brodrick and they gave it in a voice that everybody can understand. The farmers of this country are tired of being told by Deputy Dillon about their grievances.

Mr. Brodrick

Tell us something about the farm labourers.

I have already dealt with the farm labourers.

Mr. Brodrick

The Deputy did not say a word about them since he got up to speak.

There are very few of them in Deputy Brodrick's constituency, and if there were more of them we would have got more votes there. Deputy Brodrick's Party polled about 10 per cent. of the farmers of Galway. As far as Deputy Dillon's contention is concerned, I see no necessity for subsidies being paid out of Government funds to farm labourers. The farmers say that they do not want subsidies. What they want are fair prices for the produce of their land.

Hear, hear!

We are here to see that they get fair prices. They are getting a fair price and they are very well pleased with it despite anything that Deputy Dillon may say about it here or elsewhere. Deputy Dillon went to Galway and he was told——

If the Deputy has nothing to say relevant to the motion he will have to resume his seat.

I regret that the interruptions led me a little beyond where I intended going. I am sure Deputy Dillon's arguments were understood by the farmers of Galway and Wexford and he should be satisfied with their verdict without turning himself into further looseness here.

Mr. Brodrick

Tell us something about the farm labourers.

I would like to ask Deputy Corry whether this resolution contemplates in any way where the money will be provided to make up to the agricultural labourers in Galway —whose wages have been reduced by 3/- a week—what they have lost since his Party came into office?

Reduced on the orders of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, but they have since been got back.

Assuming that, is there anything provided in this resolution that will give back 3/- a week to the labourers of Galway and 2/6 a week to the labourers in Cork?

I am not prepared to hear Deputy Corry now.

Perhaps the Minister could tell us as the question has been raised?

Dr. Ryan

I had no idea, after the Second Reading debate, that these questions would be brought up again by Deputies Dillon and Mulcahy. On the Second Reading of this Bill all this matter was thrashed out. They then tried to create a smoke-screen to justify themselves in not voting on the Bill. The Party opposite are afraid to say that the farmer should pay more wages to the labourers. That is through their fear of losing farmer votes. They are afraid to vote against the Bill for fear of losing labour votes. The Party opposite are trying to trim in this Bill. It is a particularly difficult Bill for them. If they vote against the Bill the labourers will be against them, and they fear if they vote for the Bill the farmers will be against them.

Does the Minister say that the farmers do not want to pay their labourers a proper wage?

Dr. Ryan

The Party opposite are afraid to compel the farmers to pay a better wage. This is all a political stunt and they are trying to cover up their tricks. In 1929, when prices were better, there were farmers who paid 17/- a week and less to their labourers. We say that they should pay more. Deputy Dillon is afraid to say so because he is afraid to lose their support. I would like to see the Party opposite displaying, on Bills like this, a little bit of courage. Let them vote for or against the Bill and let them not try to please everybody. Deputy Dillon condemns subsidies, but he is now in favour of subsidies for agricultural wages. He says there must be money made available by the Exchequer to pay a better agricultural wage to the labourer. All this thing was gone into fully on the Second Reading and there is no necessity to go into it again. The Deputy talks about the farmers' income being down by £24,000,000 though it has been pointed out that it has gone up by £10,000,000 in the last two years. There is no reason why we should have Second Reading speeches on this motion. There is no use in Deputy Dillon going into those figures and talking about 67/- for beef and 42/-for barley, and so on. He says he has been given those figures by a friend; but how they were made up I do not know. If this Resolution is passed, the Minister could put £4,000,000 into the funds or put nothing at all so far as the Resolution is concerned. If the Deputy wanted to argue out the point he should argue it out on his own amendment. This Money Resolution would enable me to pay £3,000,000 to £4,000,000.

The Minister, if the motion is carried, could finance it out of that Resolution?

Dr. Ryan

He could, and there is no use in going into all this discussion now.

I should like to set the Minister's mind at rest——

Dr. Ryan

I thought I had concluded the discussion.

I want to set the Minister's mind at rest. I am going to vote for the Bill. The Minister talked about the difficulties in which Deputies on this side of the House found themselves on this motion. The Minister forgets the circumstances under which he promised to introduce this Bill at first. It was to save the Government from defeat by the Labour Party in the last six months.

That is not true.

It is true. In order to save themselves, when they were going to be defeated by three votes, the Government promised the Labour Party to introduce this Bill.

That is not so; that had nothing to do with it. There was a promise made over three years ago to introduce this Bill.

Not withstanding all the faults of the Fianna Fáil Party I am sure Deputy Corry is not in the confidence of the Executive Council.

Dr. Ryan

He could be more than what the Deputy thinks.

I would not be surprised, because of some things the Executive Council did. The Deputy and the Minister ought not to suggest motives in connection with this Bill. I wish to remind the House and the Minister that this Bill was promised, not on behalf of the agricultural labourers but in order to save the Government from defeat in the last six months.

On this side of the House we will support the Bill. The farmers are not against it. I am a farmer and I am not afraid to support it. I recognise that agricultural labourers are not getting enough money. I would like to see them getting a good living. I employ men and pay them 18/-, but I give them other allowances to make up their income. If I have to give them more money the position will be that I will have to employ less men. I would like to see labouring men getting enough to live on, and I believe that no man can support a family on less than 30/- a week. I am not a bit ashamed to support the Bill.

The Minister charged us with trying to draw a red herring across the track, by alleging that the farmers were not in the position to pay what we think is a fair wage. We are held up to public odium as a type of snap politicians. I want to quote shortly a statement made by the Bishop of Ross who, I suppose, is not a politician in the controversial sense of the word. He said that the population was at present decreasing and he attributed that to two reasons —a falling marriage rate and emigration—

"Both," said his Lordship, "arise from economic conditions. No man will enter the marriage state unless he has a reasonable prospect of being able to support a wife and family in frugal comfort. I can see no possibility of the small farmer, and much less the agricultural labourer, being able to do this, as long as the present economic conditions prevail.

"The wages of farm labourers are wretched in the extreme, but, wretched as they are, it is beyond the power of the ordinary farmer to pay them, much less to increase them."

Either that is true or it is not. The Bishop of Ross says it is true, and he attributes it to two causes. Deputy Corry says it is cheap politics because I put it that way deliberately. I say that the wages are wretched. I say, with the Bishop of Ross, wretched as they are, farmers cannot afford to pay more much less increase them. What escape does Deputy Corish suggest out of that dilemma? I say that if we were living in normal times it would be economically sound to put money from the Treasury into a subsidy of this kind. But I say that we are not living in normal circumstances, and that we are faced with the situation that the Bishop of Ross describes. What is Deputy Corish's method of dealing with the dilemma? Does he say that farmers are sweaters; that they could pay their labourers more but are depriving them of the money? Does the Minister say that the farmers are sweating the labourers, or that they are able to pay more but are too mean to do so; or, does he agree with the Bishop of Ross, that while the wages are wretched the farmers are not in the position to pay them much less increase the amount? What position does he take up?

Dr. Ryan

I should like to answer that. I stated here already that in 1925, when farmers were supposed to be better off than they are now, there were working farmers paying labourers much less than 17/-. Certainly, they should have been able to pay more then because the majority were paying over 20/-, and many over 25/-. Those paying under 17/- should certainly have been able to pay more. In operating this Bill there will be no subsidy, and I ask the Party opposite to say "yes" or "no" without any trimming.

The Minister says the majority of farmers are paying 20/-.

Dr. Ryan

Yes, and some more than 25/-.

A question was asked of another Minister regarding the average wages paid labourers in the Free State, and in how many counties 25/- was paid as the average wage.

Dr. Ryan

I do not know.

In one, County Dublin, 30/- was paid as the average. Was there any other county within 6/- of that amount?

Dr. Ryan

That does not disprove my statement.

The Minister tells us that the most of the farmers paid more than 20/- to agricultural labourers.

Dr. Ryan


And that a lot of them pay more than 25/-. Dublin is the only county paying an average of 30/-. The next highest average is 24/-in two counties, Clare and Waterford; 23/- in Limerick, 22/- in six counties, 22/6 in one county, and 21/- in another. When you come to 20/- you get the bulk of the counties. If the Minister is discussing the Money Resolution on the understanding that most farmers pay more than 20/- a week and that a large number pay 25/- he seems to be misinformed.

Dr. Ryan

I am not.

He ought to exchange information with the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

Dr. Ryan

How do you get the average of 21/- unless the majority are paying more than 20/-? That is a simple sum in mathematics.

If you have six counties paying 22/-, one paying 23/-, two paying 24/-, 11 paying 20/-, two paying 19/-, how can you figure it out that the greatest number of farmers are paying more than 20/-?

Because the bigger population may be in the counties paying more. Would that be a fair answer?

I do not think it is. I should like to hear the Deputy arguing it.

It seems to knock you over.

If the Deputy is able to take the various counties and to manipulate their population in a way that will bring out a satisfactory answer to himself, he ought to be appointed director of statistics.

I do not even know the counties or what answer was given to the Deputy, but I say that the population might be larger in the counties paying the greater amount. That is the answer but it does not seem to satisfy the Deputy.

It is one of the ready answers to be expected from the opposite benches.

Thank goodness we can rise to the occasion to give the answer.

Dr. Ryan

It is such an obvious answer I did not like to insult the Deputy by giving it. Unless the Deputy has that knowledge as fundamental he should not mention statistics at all.

We are in this position that where there is one county paying an average of 30/-, others paying 24/- a week, and the great majority paying 20/-, that we can take it that a large number of farmers are paying 25/-.

Dr. Ryan

Of course they are.

And the Minister takes it, therefore, that there is no necessity to assist farmers in any way to pay satisfactory wages to agricultural labourers. If that is so, taking the figures provided by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, farmers in Kildare and Kerry have to make up out of their present incomes the 6/- a week that wages have fallen in these two counties since 1931, in Wicklow they have to make up 4/-; and in Meath, Louth, and Wexford 3/6. If the Minister is able to suggest that any amelioration is going to occur in the farmers' condition that will put them in that position, it will be very interesting to hear the Minister arguing the details with regard to the farmers of Kildare and Kerry and showing that they are in a position to restore to the agricultural labourers the 6/- a week cut which has taken place in the wages of these labourers since 1931.

Dr. Ryan

I want to make it clear to Deputies opposite that I am not doing anything in this Bill to give any subsidy to farmers to pay labourers. I want Deputies, as I said, to vote for or against this Bill without any of this trimming, if they have the courage to do it.

Is the Minister afraid that we will not vote against it?

Dr. Ryan

No. I say you should vote for or against it without any trimming.

Does the Minister decline on the Money Resolution to meet that dilemma? He knows that the wages of agricultural labourers in Kerry have fallen by 6/- a week. He would maintain that the rate of wages obtained five years ago was not extravagant. Does the Minister intend that this Bill should restore that 6/- to the Kerry labourers? If he does, where is it going to come from? Does the Minister maintain that the farmers of Kerry are sweating their labourers, or does he maintain that they are giving them as much as they can afford? If he accepts that latter contention, where are they going to get the 6/-that he insists they must pay over and above what they are paying at present? There is no use in the Minister trying to avoid that difficulty. It is an absolutely essential difficulty in the Bill, or else the Bill is the purest fraud designed to do nothing for the labourer except pay him lip service.

Mr. Daly

We are asked by the Minister to vote for or against this Bill without any trimming. I should like to know if there were such a lot of trimmers in this country before as there are on the benches opposite. I am very sorry that the Minister is taking up this attitude and that we have had such high tempers to-night on the opposite side in connection with this Bill. Everyone in the House will agree that the Bill is overdue, but I am sorry that the Bill is coming at such a time when the farmers are in such a sorry plight owing to the policy of the present Government. We all agree that agricultural workers should be paid a decent wage and we know that a great lot of farmers are paying decent wages to their workers. Deputy Corry stated that the farmers are recovering. The Deputy is a member of the Cork County Council and he knows that that council carried forward last year £90,000 in rates which they could not collect. He knows that the "flying squad" is still in Fermoy trying to collect the annuities from the farmers. He talks about the wages paid to the agricultural workers in England. You cannot compare the method of farming in England with the method of farming in this country and the prices paid for agricultural produce. There is no use in talking about beet and wheat. We know that the farmers in England get a good profit from the cattle that they feed and that they get a good price for other agricultural produce. What do the farmers in this country get for any other produce except beet or wheat, and what would they get for these if they were not subsidised?

The farmers are now asked to pay increased wages to their workers. It is only right that the workers should be paid a decent wage. Deputy Corry and the Minister say that there should not be any subsidy paid under this Bill. There has been no objection to the subsidy paid for the growing of beet and wheat to help the farmers to get along while the economic war is on. Subsidies are being paid in these cases. Why should not the subsidy campaign be now extended to the agricultural workers? It is the only way of getting over the difficulty at the present time—that the Minister should subsidise the agricultural workers' wages and not ask the farmers to pay all the increase in the wages.

Question put and agreed to.
Report of Resolution agreed to.