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Dáil Éireann debate -
Friday, 17 Dec 1937

Vol. 69 No. 18

The Adjournment. - Government's General, Financial and Economic Policy.

Question proposed: "That the Dáil do now adjourn until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, January 12th, 1938."

We are going to adjourn over Christmas. I remember somewhat distant days on which, when there was a motion of this kind for the adjournment, those who are now on the Government Benches used to protest and say that, with the problems facing the country, it was wrong that the House should adjourn. I cannot take up that line. I should not be honest in taking it up, considering the conduct of the Government and the way they have conducted the business of the House since the election. They have not brought forward any measure of great importance tending to promote the welfare of the people since the general election. So far as important Government business is concerned, that is, business affecting the daily lives of the people, the House might as well not have sat. That is the Government contribution, so far as the welfare of this State is concerned, since they were elected last July. Not merely that, but though there was again and again opportunity to discuss many things in which the country is interested, many problems that do vitally affect the people, the Government deliberately prevented this House from discussing them. Therefore, I cannot take up what used to be the time-honoured pretence of an objection to the motion that the House should adjourn for longer than a week or two.

I do not think that anybody who has the welfare of the State at heart, anybody who is interested in the wellbeing of the people, can look forward with any great pleasure to the coming Christmas. Our export trade is still in the same muddle, is still in the same most unsatisfactory state into which the Government deliberately plunged it some five years ago. Ministers may now pretend that they were not responsible, but surely the memories of Deputies are not so short that they cannot recollect when they boasted here and elsewhere of the fact that in this particular war they had fired the first shot? The President made it clear that, so far as the effect of that war was concerned, it was only going to hurry on the policy he had at heart. How could he then regard the chaos into which he was plunging the economic life of the country as anything else except a blessing, something, in his own words in College Green, that was calculated to bring to an earlier fruition the ideals he had for this country?

That was the situation then. The situation has not improved essentially since then. Everywhere we look, what is the picture? Agriculture is depressed, not a single branch of it in a sound condition. The cattle trade, one of our main sources of revenue, has been almost destroyed—deliberately at one period the Government set out to destroy it. They set out with that as their policy. Look at the dairying industry and see the muddle it is in. Is there a single person in town or country who understands what the policy of the Government is so far as the dairying industry is concerned? As regards the pig industry, all I can say about that is that the muddle there is almost equal to what it is in the dairying industry. Poultry and eggs show a lamentable decline. I do not think even the Minister for Industry and Commerce with his new breed of hens could save that industry now. All the important branches of agriculture are in as bad a condition as they could be.

Any slight improvement recently means simply that you have given to a man who was actually, in the full sense of the word, starving, a little assistance, a little food to keep alive. That is all there is of so-called improvement. The condition of our main branches of industry still remain essentially unhealthy, unsound, such that the nation cannot long stand. Where are we as regards that great tillage policy that was to be the compensation for the wilful destruction of all these things—one of the reasons that made us hail the economic war as a blessing in disguise, that great instrument that was to bring about in 18 months the results that the President suggested otherwise would require 17 years? You have had that policy in force for 18 months, and more than 18 months, and are we any nearer that policy of economic salvation which was then preached than we were when this trouble was started? Every day the country has to bear, not merely the present strain, but the strain of the losses of the last three or four years. People think that because there might be a slight improvement in certain branches that it means a general improvement. It does not, because that is only the bringing up of people from an exceedingly low condition to one that would have been slightly less low had not the weight of the past losses to be borne by them.

As regards your wheat policy, is the Minister for Agriculture satisfied with the experience of the past 12 months? There was a decline easy to understand in the acreage under wheat, and obviously there was a decline in the quality. Is that to be the substitute for the destruction of the wealth of this country that the Government deliberately engaged in? Will the Minister for Agriculture treat these hard facts of the economic situation of our farmers with the same light-heartedness as the President always treats cogent arguments? Will he simply ignore them? I fancy the stronger they are the more he will ignore them. The cost of living is going up, not because there is a demand for our goods from outside, and, therefore, a bigger market for them. If that happened, there would be ample compensation for the rise in the cost of living, but we have no such compensation. The cost of living is going up and keeping pace, not with an increase of our wealth, not with an increase of our trade, but with the decrease of our wealth and the continued destruction of our trade.

Elsewhere, in industry, what have you but chaos? Factories are started every day without any plan or system. Does anybody pretend that there is a plan or could be a plan? Factories fairly recently established are already working part time. That is called an industrial policy! No wonder the Minister for Industry and Commerce sometimes casts an eye on another Department—Agriculture. I know that an industrialist did express the view that it was a pity the Government did not appoint Deputy Lemass as Minister for Agriculture. He justified that view by saying that as the Government were deliberately setting out to destroy agriculture, it did not matter whom they appointed Minister. At least, if Deputy Lemass had been appointed Minister for Agriculture, only agriculture would have been destroyed and industry would have had some chance.

We have a position in which our principal industry—still our basic industry—is in a deplorable condition and is deliberately kept in that condition; we have the cost of living increasing without any corresponding increase in our national wealth, and we have chaos in our industrial system as a result of the complete lack of plan or system on the part of the Minister responsible. The Minister for Industry and Commerce is beginning to acknowledge that. He is beginning to say things that it would have been treason for us—a "sabotaging of our industrial policy"—to say some time ago. That was the charge made a couple of years ago when these things were pointed out from these benches but they become as holy writ when spoken from the opposite side by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. In addition, there is industrial unrest. Can any Deputy tell me what strikes have been on, what strikes are on and what strikes will be on in the City of Dublin as a result of the intolerable situation mainly brought about by Government policy? It has been pointed out on every side, except the Fianna Fáil side, that you are looking for industrial unrest when you increase the cost of living and do not, at the same time, increase wages. We have a ruined agriculture, chaotic industry, industrial unrest, and emigration. It is all very well for a Minister to go down to his constituency and bemoan the flight of the people from the land. It is all very well for the Minister for Agriculture to suggest, as a method of keeping them on the land, the provision of light reading. That is not a serious way to treat a serious problem any more than was the suggestion as to the light beer we were to get from Clare. The President has good reason to laugh. We have not seen the light beer. Very few of us have had an opportunity of drinking it in the large quantities the President recommended.

They can substitute cider.

There is a difficulty about the cider-apples, as Deputy Gorey showed. However, the President might hit upon that. It would be a change of policy and the farmers would be safe. The beer remedy was dropped very quickly but it was not a bit more absurd than many of the other suggestions or remedies put forward by the President.

When we brought up the question of emigration here, we were scoffed at by Ministers. There was no such thing, they said, yet everybody knew there was. Ministers think that by denying what everybody else knows to be plain, desperate facts, they can cover up a situation. You have had increasing emigration and a net loss of population by emigration. It is quite true that the number of people on the live register of unemployed may be down. That is because the living workers have gone to England. They found there, as was said in the British House of Commons, the unskilled work they could not get in this country. Our factories were to provide skilled workers but our people have had to emigrate and get unskilled work in England while the Government complacently sits down and does nothing. It will not even face the facts. It will not even admit that there is a problem to solve.

Members of the Government bring forward certain tests of good government such as increased employment. Where is the increased employment, when you take the emigration and unemployment figures together? There is, we are told, a higher standard of living. These were great things for the Minister for Industry and Commerce to mouth about at Geneva, but, here in Ireland, he cannot speak so convincingly about them, because he is faced by a people that is realising— and every day realising more—what the policy of the Government means so far as employment, meeting the needs of the people, and improved standards of living are concerned. A nice record for the Government to show—agriculture ruined, industry in chaos, industrial unrest and increasing emigration of our young people to Great Britain! A glorious record, and one of which the President may well be proud! If he so desires, I am sure he will find reasons for being proud of it, and will prove that a policy with these results is a really sane and sound policy—the only policy that is worth carrying out. The Government's fantastic policies in regard to butter and bacon have not alone practically driven the people affected out of their senses, but have driven them out of production. What is the explanation of the decline in the pig population? Interference—incompetent interference—on the part of the Government.

We are approaching Christmas. It is only a couple of years since a person highly placed in the Government— very highly placed, though not as highly placed as the President—told a friend of mine that there was a settlement coming, and that it would be a good settlement. We were told the same last year—I do not say from quite the same authority. I expect the same rumours will go about now. A settlement must come some time, and, therefore, the prophecy about a settlement will come true some time. It is impossible to think that this thing can go on year after year as a sore poisoning the whole life of the country.

It is quite possible that the Government, in spite of that, will be forced by the actual conditions that prevail in this country to make such a settlement. Every month and every year that a settlement has been postponed, and will be postponed, means the infliction of severe losses on this country. What does the Government care about that need? First of all, they took up a complete non-possumus attitude. In some matters the Government say they cannot compromise; they look upon compromise as certain surrender. That is an extraordinary confession of inferiority complex. But when they had brought the country to the last gasp, then they were forced to make the Coal-Cattle Pact: they were forced to break with the policy that they held to be fundamental and supreme. These pacts were expedients, palliatives that helped for the time being, that merely kept the patient alive. Now, after a couple of years of Coal-Cattle Pacts they are realising—I hope the Government has realised—that the country can no longer be satisfied with them, that something very different, something much more far-reaching than any Coal-Cattle Pacts, is what it requires, and that no pride on the part of Parties or individuals should stand in the way of such a measure of that kind as the country finds necessary.

Opportunity after opportunity thrown away! It was only the other day in the House of Commons that the British Premier pointed out what the Ottawa agreements meant to those in the Dominions that participated in them. There was an increase of over 40 per cent. in the trade of every one of them as a result of these agreements. Our foreign trade went down over 40 per cent. as a result of our non-participation and as a result of the President scotching the agreement that was come to there. No wonder you have agriculture in the state it is. No wonder you have industrial unrest, no wonder you have chaos everywhere, and no wonder people are beginning to realise that there is neither leading nor light in the Government. There was this economic policy, this economic war, this other round with England, that the President once blazoned forth in the country. Of course everyone misunderstood him. I have heard the real explanation of what the innocent man meant by "another round with England." Here is an extract from a Republican organ, the Kerry Champion, of 27th February, 1932. I want really to whitewash the President, to show that what everyone thought he meant was not what he meant, that he was quite innocent—Pickwickian, in fact:

"During Mr. de Valera's last visit to Tralee I have been told that when he was staying at Dan Browne's he gave some account of that much-used propaganda: ‘Going another round with England.'"

Listen to the innocence of the man.

"It would seem that Mr. de Valera has never seen a boxing match and does not know what a boxing ring is like. The ring he had in mind was the one at Blackrock College where the college sports are run every year.

"He was a fairly good athlete, and the mile and half-mile were his favourite events. It would seem that the mile at Blackrock is run on a circular 220 yards track, and on one occasion when he competed one of the other competitors made the pace so hot that all the others except himself and the pace-maker dropped out before the end of the seventh lap. At that stage de Valera felt done in...

Like the country does at present.

"He was about to give up when he reasoned that the one in front might be as much played out as himself. He continued, and the pace-maker dropped 30 yards from the post."

Poor man, he collapsed like England.

No, the Cumann na nGaedheal Party.

Mr. de Valera staggered. He is keen on staggering to-day.

"De Valera staggered past him, fell two yards from the line, and was able to get up and crawl past the winning line.

"This race seems to have a marked impression on him in after-life..."

He is still staggering and gasping, and his ideal, according to himself, is that the country is gasping and gasping for the last few years. That is the explanation he gave to his friends in Tralee. Everyone will understand the innocence of the phrase. Like many before it, another famous slogan of the President was given a twist. Whether it is going to collapse or not, he has brought the country to the last gasp.

Remember we all heard it preached through the country that England could not do without our cattle, that the English people would starve without them, and that they would be brought to their knees. In fact, the war was won almost before the first shot was fired, so far gone was that conclusion. I am afraid the ordinary farmer does not feel that it is, and that it is not England is brought to her knees, but that we are brought to the last gasp. Therefore, I am sure the time will come when even the pride, the wilfulness and the obstinacy of the Government will have to give way, whether they like it or not, and that, despite all the opportunities they have missed, they will be forced, if still in office, to settle this matter. Every year that passes makes us weaker as a result of the policy of the Government and of the two Ministries I mentioned, Agriculture and Industry and Commerce. Every year makes us weaker and makes our position as bargainers worse.

There were certain things, undoubtedly, before the electorate at the last election, matters in which anybody who took part on any side in the election campaign must be aware the people were extremely interested in, the cost of living, the economic war, and emigration. These are matters on which, undoubtedly, there was a pronouncement against Government policy by a majority of those who cast their votes. What has been done in any of these matters by the Government in the five and a half months they have been in office since the election? Absolutely nothing. They have not advanced a solution to any of these questions. They have not made any of these things press less heavily on the people in the towns or in the country. I heard in various towns with which I am familiar that there is a scarcity of purchasing power at present, especially in certain shops that sell clothes and things of that sort. No wonder Ministers are beginning to whine, to find fault, and to object to opposition which they gave the House no opportunity of exercising. No wonder they are doing that, when they are really up against a situation that they have themselves brought about in this country. Their policy, if I may follow the agricultural bent of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, has come home to roost, and with quite as lamentable results as the breed of poultry he is promoting. There is emigration, a flight from the land and flight from the country, even by Government supporters in many cases, of young men and young women to unskilled work in England, because there is work enough neither for the skilled nor unskilled in this country. There is confusion and chaos practically everywhere. No wonder the Government, from the President down, are feeling the bleak wind that now blows upon them. They know perfectly well that whatever prestige they had last June has been largely dissipated now by their incapacity and by their failure to deal with the very things the people were interested in. They did manage to scramble through the last election. They pretended, and we all remember the pretences, that they were delighted with the results and quite satisfied. Why is it necessary, then, for Minister after Minister to address statements to the people that they are not satisfied with these things?

All we have for remedies of the situation are light literature, crowing hens and the abolition of proportional representation. These are the only contributions to our national policy by the Government. It is quite true that a new Constitution comes into force on the 29th December. This is a happy country in which to introduce such a Constitution and I am sure it will be a great help to the people who are suffering from the policy of the Government. It is a Constitution, according to which we are, to ourselves, apparently, a Republic and to all outsiders we are a part of the British Dominions. That is what it means and it follows the unfortunate precedent which the President himself set in 1921, namely, that it does not matter what we are; we will regard ourselves as independent. Apparently, he is now satisfied that the rest of the world may regard us as portion of the Commonwealth of Nations, but we will regard ourselves more or less, less or more, a Republic, and that will save the farmer and bring order into the chaotic condition of our industries. In these happy circumstances, the Dáil wishes the people of Ireland a happy Christmas.

I have listened for the last half-hour to Deputy O'Sullivan's remarks, and there are a few points in connection with his statement on which I wish to speak before dealing with the matters with which I want to deal myself. I noticed that during the 30 minutes he spoke, he concentrated at least ten minutes on a more or less personal attack on the President. If we were so insane as to believe all that we have heard from him, it is not in this House we would be, but inside a mental home somewhere. I think the Government deserve congratulations from all sections of this House and from all sections of the community for the progress it has made in its national, social, industrial and economic policies. I think it is also to be congratulated, and the people of the country do congratulate it, on the peaceful conditions which have prevailed in this State for the past year or more. During the past year the first consideration of the Government has been to cater, as usual, for the poor people in the community and to add to the long list of social services already established and put into force. We had improvements in those social services during the year, including an improvement in the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Act. The Government's housing scheme, which is undoubtedly designed chiefly for the benefit of those who are not in a position to build houses wholly from their own resources, has progressed greatly since the Government came into office and particularly in the last 12 months. Even in the constituency which did me the honour of electing me among its representatives, housing, and particularly housing for the working classes, has progressed in the last year, but there are still certain towns and villages that are more or less left out in the cold at the moment. That, however, is not the fault of the Government, but of the local board, which is run and controlled by the Opposition Party.

Deputy O'Sullivan has tried to persuade himself, the House and the country that agriculture and industry in this country are in a terrible muddle. He must think that members of this House have very short memories. It is not many weeks ago since the Minister for Agriculture proved to Deputy O'Sullivan and the members of the Opposition, and at the expense of some of the Opposition, that every agricultural product sold at present, with the exception of cattle, is sold at a higher price than in 1931, before Fianna Fáil came into office. Deputy O'Sullivan has alluded to the very bad state of the dairying industry, but he and everybody else knows well that the Government saved the dairying industry from ruin.

Was it by killing the calves?

No, but by subsidising butter.

At the expense of the poor.

This Government has catered for the poor and Deputy O'Leary should know that.

Butter ¼ a pound here and 10d. a pound in England.

Deputies must remember that the statement was made that the industry was in a ruinous condition and now you have to acknowledge that the Government saved the dairying industry, I might almost say, from extinction. I know there is a little bit of a ramp being carried on by certain interested parties who had cold stored butter in stock, with a view to getting the world market now, but they were not looking for that world market during the last three years. They wanted it a month or two ago when the price in the world's market suddenly went up. They wanted a free market then, but in 12 months' time, if the price goes down again, they will be asking for a protected market.

Allusion has also been made to the bacon industry. Deputy O'Sullivan tried to make capital out of the low pig population in the country at the moment. As a farmer, and speaking as a farmer, I can well remember the time when a large pig population caused the farmers of this country enormous losses. Is it not better that a farmer should produce, let us say, 20 fat pigs at a profit than 100 pigs at a loss, and that was the position when the Cumann na nGaedheal Government was in office: it was a position which that Government closed its eyes to, and one which the Fianna Fáil Government, by its wise policy of protection, has changed, and thereby stabilised the industry. The same applies to poultry and eggs. As regards wheat and beet, we have heard fictitious tales told in this House of wheat crops that never ripened and of yields of three, four and five bushels to the acre. The people who told them knew well that their statements were far removed from the facts. They knew that what they said was not true. I calculate, and I think I calculate rightly, that when the results of this year's crops are published it will be found that the yield will be up to the average—somewhere in or about one ton to the acre, taking the good with the bad.

The wheat-growing policy of the Government has been welcomed by a large number of farmers in the constituency that I represent. It has resulted in putting money into the pockets of the farmers, and it was about time that the farmers and those who live on the farm—the farm labourer—got a place in the sun, a price for their products and got paid for their labour. That is the policy that has been adopted by this Government. They have encouraged certain lines in agriculture in order to help the farmer to maintain himself and his family, and the people working for him, in decent conditions.

At 24/- a week.

Some Deputy opposite mentioned 24/- a week. I do not mind going into that. In the constituency of North Cork, which I represent, the Cumann na nGaedheal farmers threatened their employees if they voted for Fianna Fáil at the first election that they would reduce their wages, and they did. Some of them made a further reduction in the men's wages in 1933, but thanks to the Fianna Fáil Government some of that reduction was restored in 1937.

Working on schemes at 12/- a week.

I am stating facts, and the Deputy cannot deny them. The same conditions apply all over the country. What I have said with regard to wheat applies also to beet. The trouble about the beet is that the farmers who grow it would like if the price was a bit higher. I hope the price will go higher, because the farmer and those working for him are entitled to a fair price for their products and their labour.

The Deputy changed his mind in the last ten days.

Do not be interrupting the man now.

He can interrupt as much as he likes. I am not one who changes his mind, to try to persuade a man that black is white or white is black. I say what I mean, and I mean what I say. The Government have helped the agricultural community in various other ways: by grants for the reclamation of land, by minor relief schemes, drainage, the making of accommodation roads and land division. The division of land has been carried out by this Government in the teeth of the opposition offered by the people on the other side. The only fault I have to find with it is that the land cannot be divided more quickly, although the speed is at least ten times greater than it was when the Cumann na nGaedheal Government was in office. The same applies to afforestation.

I congratulate the Government on what they are doing to develop our native resources. We have heard a lot about industry. The Deputies on the Opposition Benches tell us that it is in a chaotic state. Take the constituency of North Cork which is not a highly industrialised area. Here are some figures that I can stand over. In 1931 the total number employed in the hosiery industry in that constituency was 107. Now the number is 210, an increase of 103. In the new cheese factory put up at Mitchelstown there are 120 hands employed, thanks to the policy of Fianna Fáil. In the milling industry—and this is a very generous estimate—161 persons were employed in 1931. Now there are 222 employed, an increase of 61. In the combined bacon and ham industry 35 persons were employed in 1931, and now 131, an increase of 96.

We were lucky enough to get a sugar factory in our part of the country. At the time that we did get it the members of the Opposition started a ramp and a campaign, going around telling the farmers of the district not to grow beet. They said: "If you grow beet you will be helping to keep Fianna Fáil in office; you will be helping to keep de Valera in office." That was the kind of stuff they used, but what did we find? That after the first 12 months the very people who had joined in that ramp against the growing of beet were those who were most eagerly looking for acreage at the time that we were trying to get a decent price from the company, and in that way spiked our guns, so to say. That is how those great friends of agriculture helped their fellow farmers. In the sugar factory there are 180 permanent hands employed at the moment and 14 loading agents. During the campaign period there are 500 extra hands employed, and if you take it that they only do three months' work, it will average 125 for the whole year, making a total of 319. As far as industry in North Cork is concerned— and I am only dealing with my own constituency—the total number employed in industry before Fianna Fáil came into office, in the industries I have named, was 303 persons, whereas the number now employed is 1,001, an increase of 698.

How many emigrated?

I am speaking of the industries there, and whatever may be said about the number of people who emigrated, a far greater number emigrated during the time when Cumann na nGaedheal was in office. I am giving facts. I am not dealing in fictions, and I am not trying to persuade myself, like Deputies opposite, that this is the case, or that is the case, knowing very well that it is not the case. That is the position, as I see it. I believe that any Parliament is not of any use or of much use unless you have a good, sound Opposition with a constructive policy, and I do not think that an Opposition that acts in some matters in the same way as the Opposition in this House are acting could be of much use to the country or to the Parliament as a whole.

This is a time when all the other States of Europe are out for a policy of self-sufficiency and are organising all their national resources. We know —and the whole world knows it also— that at any moment Europe and the whole world may be plunged back into the position in which we were from 1914 to 1918. Is it not our duty, then —our duty to our people—to safeguard our people against what might happen in times like that? Is it not the duty both of the Government and the Opposition to help in every way possible in such circumstances, but you certainly are not helping your people when you turn around and try to convince the people and the rest of the world that they are very badly off, when they are not as badly off as you say, or even anything like as badly off as you say, and when you know that very well yourselves.

The attitude of the Opposition seems to be that they want to show the rest of the world that there is an incompetent Government in charge here. That should not be the attitude of an Opposition in regard to matters of broad national policy. Such an attitude might be all very well in certain respects, but in dealing with States it is not the proper attitude to adopt. We have been told by the Opposition that they could settle all this matter, well, why do they not go across the water and ask their friends there to settle the matter? All I can say is, that if they do, they will come back again and the Irish people will send them across once more for a happy Christmas.

I had not intended to intervene, Sir, in this debate and I would not intervene were it not for what Deputy Meaney said with regard to pigs and bacon. The Deputy is inclined to paint a glorious picture—it was typical of his whole speech—of the position of the pig industry at the moment. The facts, however, are not those imagined by the Deputy. According to official figures, there are 10,000 sows less to-day in the country, as on the 1st June last, than there were 12 months previously, and that means an actual shortage of about 120,000 pigs this year. That, added to the 77 of a shortage the year before, means that the resulting shortage is a cause for grave apprehension and consideration and it gives a clear indication of the state of the country. If evidence were needed to corroborate that, I need only produce the quota that has been given to the factory with which I am connected for the month of September. The average quota for the last few years would work out in the neighbourhood of 1,000, or perhaps a little more, per week. This amount of 2,733 for a month, comprising a period of 31 days, works out at 600, and all the reports and all the informed opinion we can get on the subject point to a still further decrease. There is no way of getting over these figures. They are the official figures. On the one hand, we have the Minister for Industry and Commerce issuing figures that we must take as accurate, and, on the other hand, we have the Pigs Marketing Board issuing figures that we must take as accurate. There is no disputing these figures.

In a previous debate here, causes were suggested as to why the pig population in this country had decreased. One of the reasons put forward was that the producer was not getting enough for his pigs, and another reason put forward was that, possibly, feeding stuffs were too dear and also were of the type that would not give a proper return for the expenditure incurred. On the other hand, on enquiry during the last three months or so, it has been found that there was a much graver cause than either of these, and that is that the pig producers are not able to buy the feeding stuffs in the shops and are not able to get credit in the shops or anywhere else to purchase the materials with which to feed their pigs. That is the real cause of the shortage, and I suggest that that is much more alarming than the fact that a certain admixture scheme was not giving an adequate return or that the Pigs Marketing Board had not been paying enough for pigs. The actual fact is that the people cannot produce the pigs and cannot get credit anywhere. That is very alarming, but it is typical of the whole position and typical of what is happening all over the country.

Certain figures were quoted here by me in the course of the debate on the cost of living, and certain figures were given by the Minister for Agriculture. Although the Minister for Agriculture has found out since some facts in connection with these statements, no opportunity has been taken to contradict these statements or to put the matter right. The fact is that the Minister for Agriculture did not get his figures at Dublin Castle; he got them at Lord Edward Street.

Does the Deputy challenge the figures?

And he got them for the year ending the 1st December each year, whereas our figures were for the year ended 1st April. Our figures were figures that had been duly audited and sent in by the auditor. The point is that the Minister was correct for his particular portion of the year, and I was equally correct for my portion of the year. I have the detailed figures if the Minister or anybody else wants to examine them, showing exactly all the figures, and they will prove that everything I said was exactly true, except with regard to our quota of pigs. I certainly made a mistake there, and I admit it, but all the rest is correct. The statement as to the profits we were making then was correct, and the statement of the profits we are making now, for 1936-37, is also correct. However, what I really rose to draw attention to is this question of the decrease or decline in the pig population, which is the keynote of the position of the people at the present time. They have been driven into a position in which they cannot feed pigs and cannot get credit anywhere to enable them to purchase the materials for the feeding of the pigs. The result will be that pigs will disappear out of the country in the next few years because the producers cannot feed them or get any credit anywhere. The creameries have refused credit, and the shopkeepers all over the country have refused credit. If the people on the opposite side would only open their eyes to the position they would realise what is going to be the inevitable result, but in my opinion they do not care a damn. They tell us a lot about what they are doing for the people and about how everybody must get a rise in the world and so on, but it is my opinion that they do not give a damn how the rest of the people suffer so long as they have the right end of it.

I do not know, Sir, whether this is a general discussion on Government policy or whether it has to do with the particular motion that has been debated here from time to time since we came here, but most of the Deputies who have spoken in favour of this motion seemed to be travelling in circles around it. So far as I can see, no serious attempt has been made to deal with its actual terms or to point out to the House exactly what the motion requires to have done. If we are to understand the plain language of this motion it deplores the lowering of the standard of living——

I think, Sir, you ought to tell him that the motion is to go home.

This is a motion for the adjournment, and the usual practice is to discuss Government policy on it. That particular motion is not under discussion.

At any rate, the whole policy of the Government has been directly challenged, and the speeches made by the Deputies who have spoken this afternoon and those who have addressed this House on this particular question in the past seemed to indicate that the real motive is to throw down a direct challenge to the Government's whole industrial policy. References have been made to the duties and impositions on foreign foodstuffs and commodities of various kinds, and the necessaries of life and so on. I will take a few examples in regard to the necessaries of life and foodstuffs. We have sugar, butter, bacon, flour and meat. We all know that we can import sugar into this country at a lower price than it could be produced here, but will anybody contend that we derive no compensating advantage from the production of this or any similar item of our food supplies at home? Is it of no concern that something like 50,000 farmers receive something in the nature of £800,000 for the production of beet, or that 2,000 seasonal and permanent workers find employment in the beet sugar factories? Speaking generally, is it seriously contended that we should remove the tariff on foreign sugar with its consequent loss to the 50,000 farmers growing beet and to the workers employed in the beet factories? Apart altogether from the necessity of providing ourselves with these necessary items in our food supplies and safeguarding ourselves against war or any other disturbance that might result in the cutting off of supplies, I think that the policy is a wise one. Even if the cost of this commodity is greater than it would be if we allowed free imports I think that, weighing one thing with another, the increased amount of money put in circulation justifies the adoption of this policy.

The same thing can be said in regard to all the other items. Deputies who represent the dairying counties will be certainly aware of the fact that were it not for the assistance which the Government gave to that industry during the last five years it would have been wiped out long ago. I represent a dairying constituency and I know a fair share about it. No dairy farmer, I am sure, would support any suggestion that would have for its object the withdrawal of Government support from the dairying industry. We must remember that the butter-producing industry constitutes the foundation of the whole agricultural economy of these counties and, to a lesser extent, it constitutes the foundation of the whole agricultural economy of this country.

In the same way, if the Government assistance is to be withdrawn from bacon producing, we are going to revert to the position that we had in 1931, when we imported bacon to the value of £1,420,195 from all corners of the globe. I have here a short list of the foodstuffs imported into this country in 1931. Dairy produce, butter, cream, cheese and milk were imported to the value of £350,738. We imported poultry and poultry products to the value of £97,276. We imported oats to the value of £227,333. We imported feeding stuffs and food for animal consumption to the value of £294,048. We imported sugar to the value of £789,902. In all, we imported something like £12,000,000 worth of produce which we could have produced here ourselves. It was an absurd situation to be importing food into a food-producing country. Next to these in importance are clothing, boots and shoes, hosiery, soaps, cotton goods, etc. All these require a protective policy in order that they may be produced here at home, and that is one of the things that has been challenged.

The whole principle of protective tariffs has been challenged, and at a time when, as Deputy Meaney pointed out, every country in the world is engaged in the adoption of a similar policy. I will just quote one example. We have a country like CzechoSlovakia, one of the most progressive Central European countries to-day, where six times the export price of sugar is being charged to the consumer, with the difference devoted to an export subsidy. That is just an example of what has been done in other countries. I do not say that the position in many of these countries should be regarded as parallel with our own, but nevertheless, so far as these things are concerned, we can learn a lot from these countries.

With regard to the industrial concerns which have been established here it is the opinion of experienced manufacturers and people who have had experience of industrial activity, that many of these industries will require further time to reach full development. An industry cannot reach full development overnight in the matter of organisation and getting a proper footing in the markets, and so on. What is more important than anything else as regards industrial development is that those engaged in it, whether investors, employers or employees, should have a reasonable hope of continuity of industrial policy, and I think it is the duty of all political Parties in this country to subscribe to that guarantee of continuity of industrial policy.

As to the attitude of the Fine Gael Party, if it is indicated by the statements they make here from time to time, particularly within recent months, I think we are entitled to assume that, if they are ever again given the responsibility of government, they will immediately reverse the present industrial policy and revert to the pre-1932 position.

If that is not their policy, and if they feel that they have a genuine grievance with regard to any part of the industrial policy pursued at the present time, why not indicate the particular items over which they have a grievance in regard to duties, levies and taxes? Why not indicate the particular things on which they feel these duties are not justifying themselves and ask for their removal, or why not point to any particular industry, or number of industries, which they consider are not justifying their existence? If they consider that undue profits are being taken out of industry, why not suggest a method by which these abuses can be met or remedied?

We have had a motion debated here for the last three or four weeks, but the speeches and suggestions made surely cannot provide a solution to the problems which they have in mind. In my opinion the adoption of any of the suggestions that we heard from the Opposition—if the Government were to accept the viewpoint, for instance, of Deputy Professor O'Sullivan—would mean that we would be guilty of a gross breach of faith with all those who have engaged in industrial development in this country, employers and employees, and particularly the young who have taken up careers in these industries and whose careers are now at stake. If the Opposition spokesmen were listened to, and if there was to be a reversal of the present policy it would have another effect. It would destroy all public confidence and would have the effect, in the future, of exposing our manufactured goods, and all our agricultural produce, once again to what I can only call the cold winds of Japanese and other foreign competition of the same kind. The whole attitude of the Opposition spokesmen, as expressed in the statements I have heard from them from time to time, is simply what I can only call presuming on the absolute ignorance of the Irish people.

I wish to take advantage of the privilege afforded Deputies on the motion for the adjournment to raise the position of the unemployed in my own constituency. For the 15 years that I have been in this House I have never had to go back to my constituency at Christmas until this year with the sad news that the men who are there waiting for employment were refused such employment by the Government who had promised to give them employment or subsistence. I am glad that the President is here, and I should like to draw his attention and the attention of his Ministers to the serious position that exists in some of the towns. We shall take the position in Bray, where a small grant has been allocated for a fortnight's or three weeks' work. What are the conditions attached to that grant? That three days a week are to be given to 100 men, while 200 men, who are just as eligible for employment as the first 100 who have got employment, are denied anything but the dole approaching Christmas. The urban council appealed against that and asked that a deputation should be received on the matter, but that deputation would not be received. That deputation wished to put before the Department the serious position of the unemployed in Bray coming up to Christmas. Owing to their financial state the council were unable out of their own resources to give any assistance to the men who want work for the Christmas period. The urban council put up a plea that the Department should allow the grant that had been allocated to be expended so that 200 men could have a week's work at the Christmas period. They would be quite satisfied with that arrangement. The unemployed men were all agreeable to that arrangement so that the remaining 200 might get some employment, but they were refused any concession whatever from the Government. An order was sent down to the public bodies that the first 20 or 30 men unemployed must get three days' work.

Then we have the Minister for Industry and Commerce pointing out that there must be a larger number of men employed than the Labour Party admits and he seeks to prove that by quoting the returns from the sale of insurance stamps. What are the facts? The Department refuses permission to public bodies to give any more than three days' work in the week to these men. The result is that if a man works three days his card is stamped and another stamp has to be put on when he works a similar period the next week. In that way the Minister for Industry and Commerce is able to show, from the returns for the sale of stamps, that a larger number of people are engaged on relief work than is actually the case. As I say, in the town of Bray there are 300 men unemployed but the council is allowed to employ only 100 on this Christmas relief work. In the town of Wicklow there are 150 registered as unemployed in respect of unemployment assistance. Orders received from the Department are to the effect that only 50 men are to be employed while the other 100 men are left to depend on home assistance and unemployment assistance for this week.

As I say, it is the first year during my 15 years in this House in which the Government has refused to allow public bodies out of the grants allocated for work during the Christmas period to give a full week's work to these men. This is the first time that the Government has sent down an ultimatum to the public bodies in County Wicklow to provide only three days' work for these men. In other years the county council provided £3,000 for the relief of unemployment but this year we are not allowed to do so. We are not in the privileged position of the Deputy from North Cork. We have no industries in County Wicklow. We had two coming to it but they were sent to other parts of the country and certain members of the Government were responsible for that. We have no beet factory and I think the Minister for Agriculture will agree that the farming community in County Wicklow are not making much profit out of wheat. As far as oats is concerned, I think the Minister will agree that the majority of the farmers in the county have their oats in the barn and that they are unable to get even 9/- per barrel at the present time.

I am not out to remove tariffs. I agree that you must protect Irish industry and I am prepared to say that it is better that we should pay something extra for the goods produced in our own country rather than import foreign goods. I am not, however, prepared to allow anybody to draw a red herring across the track of this discussion by suggesting that Labour demands are interfering with the industrial concerns of this country. They are not. I for one would not interfere with tariffs on industrial products if I find that the Government are really in earnest in trying to do something for the large number of men who are deprived of their right to earn a livelihood at the present time. We may talk about the rotation scheme. I have always opposed it. Three days a week are bad enough, but now coming up to Christmas there is this order from the Department that only one-third of the men are to be employed. What will be the position of those men? Have not the unemployed, through their organisations, threatened to march to the county homes even on Christmas Day as a protest against the way they are treated?

What can the public bodies do? I know that in County Wicklow the home assistance has been increased up to £15,000 a year to try to meet the serious position that is facing us. We are not even in the fortunate position of having industries. The farmers are not even in the position of being able to send beet to the factories. We are then solely dependent on agriculture and a few small industries which we had before either the Cumann na nGaedheal Government or the Fianna Fáil Government came into power. We have a large number of unemployed looking for work. The public bodies are prepared to put up, and have put up, certain schemes to the Government. I am satisfied that those schemes, if the Government would agree to them, would give useful returns during the Christmas fortnight at least. The public bodies were prepared to make sacrifices so that the schemes which have always been in operation during the past 15 years would be in operation this year, and there would be a fair return for the money spent. I am not going to say that you will get 100 per cent. value from work on relief schemes during the Christmas period, but I maintain that we have always got a good return for the amount we allocated during the Christmas period for the relief of unemployment through work on quarries, the repairing of roads and so on. This year the Government will not allow the public bodies to do that. It sent an order to the county councils not to allow them to give work in the quarries and so on to the men who are unemployed. What is the position? Those men are looking for extra home assistance. We were told that the first duty of the Government was to be to look after the unemployed, and the first order they made this year was to prevent the unemployed from getting a week's work to enable their families to have a dinner during the Christmas period. That is the position.

I hope the Executive Council will take that matter up. I hope they will cancel that order and have a further order sent out. The public bodies are prepared to arrange that a week's work or as many days' work as possible will be given to the unemployed men who are deserving of it during the holy festival. Surely to God it is not the intention of the Government to deprive any of the unemployed men of having some little comfort in their homes during the Christmas period? I make a special appeal to the Executive Council for the constituency I represent. We are not in the flourishing position of other constituencies. We are not out to attack the Government and say it was due to the tariffs. We are out only to say that we could have industries if the Government had more sympathy for us. I think they got more votes in other counties and that is why the factories are sent to those other areas. Of course, there is another occasion to remind the Government of that. I do ask the Government to rectify the mistake they have made and allow the urban council to absorb as many men as they possibly can during this period, and not to say that only the 50 lucky men who were employed through the labour exchange are to be retained until the particular scheme is finished. When I go back to my constituency I will have done my duty in drawing the Government's attention to the facts. I would be the first to sympathise with the unemployed men in my constituency when I know that they are treated unjustly, and I say this to the Government—they can take it whatever way they like—that they will have to put up with the responsibility for what may happen in County Wicklow during the next fortnight as a result of the way in which the unemployed have been treated during the last 12 months.

I think it has been definitely proved to the Government, and after five years of office I think they must agree, that there was never more poverty in this country. It has been stated and proved certainly by Deputy Everett. Deputy Meaney put up a very good case; he put up the case of the increased employment in North Cork. I suppose the matter of that increased employment and better conditions in North Cork will be answered by some North Cork Deputy. But Deputy Meaney mentioned what the Government had done for widows and orphans. My answer to that is that were it not for the Fianna Fáil Government in this country we would not have so many widows.

Are we entitled to talk about that, Sir?

Deputy Meaney spoke about it.

Are we entitled to talk about the number of widows that the Government are responsible for?

The Minister feels that the Government is responsible for them.

There were 77 for whom they were not responsible. If that is what Deputy Brodrick is going to talk about he had better close up.

We had better keep to Government policy now.

I thought widows' and orphans' pensions were part of Government policy. My answer to Deputy Meaney is, that were it not for the policy of the Fianna Fáil Government there would not be the need for so many widows' and orphans' pensions at the present time. It is a sad change when we have Deputy Meaney and Deputy Colbert and all the great Fianna Fáil Deputies, who a few years ago were talking about self-sufficiency in this country, complete independence, nothing but the Republic for us——

The Deputy went out for it in 1916, and went back on it afterwards.

I was out when the Deputy would not attempt to go out. It is all right when you have the Fainne badge on your coat. Here we have the great teachers opposite, who once said they would never bow to England, and that we could support our population in this country, but what have they done for the last two years? They have driven 80,000 young men and women from the land of this country. For what kind of a living? To go into the bothies in Scotland? They have to take anything they can get over there in order to provide a livelihood for their families in this country.

Is it only in the last few years they have had to go there?

How many years will it take to make up that 80,000 people who had to leave the country?

Mr. Walsh

Not so long as it will take to make up the 250,000.

The next thing that happened in order to complete Fianna Fáil independence in this country was that we lost 42 per cent. of our export trade to a country with which we are supposed to be at war. Deputy Meaney tells us that in years gone by we imported so much bacon into this country. Did we not as late as last May import Irish pigs from Northern Ireland—you might say it was from Great Britain—the produce of the young sows of the Free State that were exported by the bacon curers into Northern Ireland a few years ago? Did we not import live pigs into the Free State and export them to Britain with a 40 per cent. tariff on them?

We would like to hear some straight talk in a debate like this, in which we have got to deal with the position of the people. I mentioned a matter in the Dáil on two occasions, and up to the present I have not observed that any notice has been taken of it. It has reference to the children in the West of Ireland who are attending national schools along the western seaboard. My point is that the only meal that they get during the day, ever since Fianna Fáil came into office, is the school meal. We have also seen on the western seaboard where the parish priest of a particular parish had to appeal to an association in Dublin to give assistance in order to provide clothes for the children. That has not been contradicted.

Now let me turn to the great beet, wheat and peat racket that is proceeding in this country. If you take peat, a lot of legislation has been passed in regard to it during the last four or five years, and there is a fair amount of that legislation that we never saw coming into operation. The introduction and the passing of that legislation must have cost a considerable amount of money, and I should like to know why it has not been made operative. Is it that the Government can only see the faults that lie in that legislation immediately after it is passed? What has been done in connection with the peat legislation? At one time we were told that in order to buy so many cwts. of coal one had to purchase a certain quantity of turf also. What has happened to that? Have we ever had any account of all the money expended on the peat industry? I would not mind expending money on an industry of that kind if there was something to balance that, or if the people were to derive some benefit from it. Has any such benefit been derived? Take the drainage of the bogs as an example. In many places they are being drained into rivers and there is no intention of draining those rivers, with the result that the draining of the bogs will not be any benefit whatsoever.

Take the case of beet. I am glad Deputy Meaney changed his mind within the last few days in regard to this subject. I have already raised a question in connection with the beet-growers, and I referred to the poor prices they were getting. My argument was that the price should be increased, and to achieve that object something should be taken from the profits of the Sugar Company. Deputy Meaney says there is great employment given in the cultivation of beet, and Deputy Colbert also referred to the employment. Why should they talk in such a manner when the average yield this year was eight tons to the acre and the freight on that beet was up to 11/2 per ton in some parts of my constituency? What it amounts to is that the farmer gets between £10 and £11 per acre for what it costs him £13 to produce. We are told that that represents prosperity.

Deputy Meaney referred to afforestation and talked of the headway the Government have been making. We recollect the promises that were made in 1932. The Fianna Fáil plan was produced here, and we heard all about the thousands of acres that were to be planted every year. What is the position in the West of Ireland? Two so-called experts went down to Connemara. I do not know what length of time they remained there, but I know they went through 25,000 acres, and all they could recommend for planting was 285 acres. So much for the plan about afforestation.

We heard from the Minister for Industry and Commerce that he is to start a shoddy factory here. I have often dwelt on the natural resources of our country, and I cannot let this occasion pass without bringing to the notice of the Minister for Industry and Commerce the way the Galway Woollen Mills have been treated. The mills are situated in the centre of a county that produces one-sixth of the sheep population of the Irish Free State. The mills to-day are practically facing bankruptcy, largely because of the Government's policy. Every other mill is helped by the Government, and foreigners come over here to take away as profits the earnings of our people.

Irish capital is invested in the Galway Woollen Mills, and those fine mills are left practically idle. The mill directors learned that the Minister is anxious to start a shoddy factory in this country. They approached the Minister and told him they were prepared to carry out his instructions. "No," said the Minister, "your mills cannot manufacture shoddy, and the answer is that your mill will not be allowed to exist in this country." There is a mill in the centre of the best sheep-producing county, and the Minister is not prepared to facilitate it in any way. Is that the way Irish people who invest their money in Irish industry are going to be treated? I would appeal to the Minister before he brings in an outside firm to manufacture shoddy to examine what the Galway Woollen Mills can do in that direction.

There is only one other point that I wish to refer to. I forgot to mention it when the Housing Bill was under consideration. We have what is called a housing board set up by this Government. I think one member of that board is paid £1,000 a year and two others have £500 each. I would like to know if that board is still in existence, and, if so, what are they doing to solve the housing problem? In what way are they a help to the Local Government Department or the local authorities in the matter of housing?

On a point of order, the House has just passed a Housing Bill, under which this question could easily have been raised.

On the point of order, it is true the House has to-day passed a Housing Bill. The subject notified to the Chair by the main Opposition for debate on the adjournment is "general, financial and economic policy of the Government." I submit to the Deputy that the points he desires to raise would require notice, and might better be put as a Parliamentary Question. The Deputy will realise that it is impossible for a Minister, possibly a Minister not responsible in the matter, to answer such questions without notice. If a Deputy gets down to particular cases, it would be difficult for a Minister to deal with them offhand without his brief.

I merely wish to know if such a board is in existence and, if so, what are its activities. Again, if there is such a board in existence, we might be told what it is costing the country and what duties are the members carrying out. That is all I wish to remind the Government about. I certainly think Deputy Everett has made a good case to show the poverty that is existing in this country. He has shown how the rotational scheme has worked and that under it a man can get only three days' employment in one week. That should not be the case in a country where you are supposed to have such a large number of industries working and where you have the Government telling of the numbers of people they are putting into employment. We have been told of the large numbers who are being put into employment and that the wages they are receiving are sufficient to live on, but it has been proved quite clearly that such is not the case.

I desire to refer to a few points on this motion. The first point is in connection with unemployment assistance. We have a rather peculiar grievance in Cork — probably it is an anomaly under the Act — whereby people who have been taken from slum areas in the city and housed by the corporation outside the borough boundary cannot, if they become unemployed, receive the rate of assistance which they had when unemployed in the city. The grievance is quite apparent to anybody who understands the situation when people are shifted from slum areas to places immediately outside the city. To all intents and purposes, they are part and parcel of the city population. So far as their economic circumstances permit, they still take part in the city life. Owing to this anomaly, they are deprived not alone of the rate of assistance to which they were entitled while unemployed in the city but they are not allowed — and this is an important matter — by the rules of the labour exchange, to come under the city schemes for relief of unemployment. They have to turn their attention to the country. These men have never worked in the country. When they could get work, they worked in the city. They have been part and parcel of the city life and they were compelled, owing to circumstances over which they had no control, to move to these places outside the city for better health and better accommodation when the slum areas were being cleared. The matter was discussed at a meeting of the Cork Corporation, and the Minister has got a resolution from the corporation asking that this state of affairs be remedied. I suggest to the Minister that, under the new Unemployment Assistance Act, there will be an opportunity for remedying this anomaly whereby people who have been compelled to go outside the city — I do not know if there is any other case of a similar kind in the State — will be allowed to continue on the unemployment rate paid in the city. That is the first point I want to make.

I should like to draw attention to the fact that the rates of unemployment assistance are abominably low— so low that they are almost a disgrace to any civilised State. We have one shilling a week allowed for the support and sustenance of a child — to provide a child with the 21 meals which a child or adult is supposed to get during a week. I often wonder if the Government is really facing up to its responsibilities with regard to the unemployed. They have these abnormally low scales in operation, and their only system of relieving unemployment seems to be that of the rotational schemes. These rotational schemes are totally inadequate. As Deputy Everett has pointed out, they do not absorb the unemployed in any particular district. The men who are unemployed are recruited in such fashion that everybody gets a little but nobody gets what you would call a decent amount to sustain himself or his family. We had a very striking case of that kind during the week. Cork Harbour Board have a scheme for relief of unemployment, partly financed by the board and partly by the State. The Harbour Board asked that for the coming week — Christmas week — the men who were on the scheme should be kept on for five days. We had before us at that meeting a letter from the Parliamentary Secretary, who had the hardihood to tell us that the work under the rotational system was efficient and that the output under it, when properly supervised, was satisfactory. He said that "results as technically and financially efficient are being attained under it as under any other possible system employing the same labour." I do not think that anybody would say that that is in accordance with fact. Take the case of any ordinary business man. Would he adopt that system in any business for the sake of efficiency? If you employ that test alone, you will find that that statement is not in accord with fact. The Harbour Board asked that these five days should be allotted to the men who were on for the week and that request was turned down. Again, I do not know what the reason is. Certain reasons were put up. I have been over with the Public Works Department and they put up certain reasons which I do not consider satisfactory.

The point I want to make is that there does not appear to be a real attempt to carry out the Government promises made in 1932. It is not a long way to throw our minds back — to 1932. Not alone were we promised that unemployment would be relieved, but we were told that it would be abolished and that we would have so many posts to give away that we should have to send for some of our people across the water. The present rotational schemes and the attempt made by means of unemployment assistance to relieve unemployment are a contradiction of these promises. They do not harmonise with the idea of abolishing unemployment. Not alone is it evident from what I have said with regard to rotational schemes and rates of unemployment assistance that the Government are not facing up to their responsibilities in these matters, but, if we turn to other aspects of Government policy, we shall be inclined to say that the Government is definitely of the opinion that low wages and bad living conditions should be the idea of life in this country. We have had a wage of 24/- a week fixed by the Agricultural Wages Board. I have already referred to the shilling a week allowed for a child by way of unemployment assistance. I may go further and point to the scandalous way in which the national teachers have been treated, not alone by this Government but by the previous Government. We are told that the national school is the poor man's university, but the Government have very little regard or respect for the professors in these universities when they are treated as the national teachers have been treated.

So far as I can see, the teachers of this country are being driven back, both by the way their salaries have been slashed and by the cost of living in the country, to a position similar to that in which Lloyd George, before the War, said that the salaries of national teachers in this country were a disgrace to the British Empire. I do not know whether we are in the Empire or not at present, but I say that the salaries of national teachers here are much worse than those which obtain in the other portion of the country, Northern Ireland. They are about 17 per cent. worse. We hear from time to time various orators pointing out all the bad and wrong things done in Northern Ireland, but they can boast in Northern Ireland of treating their teachers much better than we do here. May I be allowed to refer for a moment to the position of teachers' salaries previous to 1920 in this country?

The question before the House is general economic policy. I stated to another Deputy on the point now raised that it is very difficult for a Minister to reply to particular cases without previous notice. The matter would rather arise on an Estimate, or on express motion. Previous notice should have been given.

Am I not allowed to refer to the fact that teachers' salaries here, as a result of Government policy, compare very unfavourably with those in Great Britain and Northern Ireland? What I want to refer to particularly is that under this Government, which had experience of a previous Government which did its part in cutting teachers' salaries, we had, in March, 1933, the putting into operation of the Temporary Economies Act which cut teachers' salaries from 1 to 8 per cent. That cut was made permanent in the next year when we had the salaries cut from 6 to 9 per cent. and a Government saving effected of £290,000. I want to point out the unfair discrimination made against the teachers on those two occasions. On the first occasion the Government, by its Temporary Economies Act, took an amount from the teachers which was not a fair proportion compared with what was taken from other Government servants.

The Deputy being a new member, the Chair has no desire to rule strictly in his case, but, as I said before, if he expects an answer to his present statement, he must realise the difficulty of a Minister replying without notice of such matters. The matters will at least be disputed and the Minister has no opportunity of getting facts, figures or any brief.

Is it not correct to say that the last cut in teachers' salaries was introduced to the House as a direct result of the Government's economic policy?

May I submit that the Deputy is quite wrong?

It was part of the Government's temporary economies.

I beg the Deputy's pardon, but the Deputy forgets that the House discussed a regulation dealing with national teachers' pensions and it was part of that pension scheme that the teachers' scale should be reduced. It has nothing to do with the economic war or anything else.

Can I not refer to the fact that the economic policy of the Government is responsible for the cuts in teachers' salaries, and not alone is it responsible for those cuts, but it is responsible for the demand of the national teachers for the restoration of the cuts sustained since 1934 being denied and strenuously opposed by the Government as part of its economic policy? If the economic policy of the Government is that the general standard of living should be reduced, that idea will, I am sure, not find favour with the people. If we in this country cannot attain a standard of reasonable comfort, I think the economic policy, the financial policy and all the other ideas of the Government will fall to the ground. I am quite safe, I think, in saying that the people expect to have teachers who will be well paid, contented in their jobs, and will give a decent return for the salaries they receive. Under present conditions, we have a state of affairs being brought about in which we have a body of teachers, discontented and dissatisfied and being gradually driven back to a position in which their economic circumstances are such that they will not have sufficient to pay their way and to live as people who have responsibilities to the community should live. I want to stress the point that it is evident to me, and to those who think with me, that unless and until there is an appreciation by the Government of the human element, and less regard for machine-like rules imposed by Government Departments and carried out as if they were the laws of the Medes and Persians by these Departments, all these policies must fall.

In the letter from the Parliamentary Secretary, we have the statement: "The work and costings of the schemes now being carried out for the Harbour Board will be inspected from this office during the progress and after the completion of the work." I would suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary and to his staff that they might also include an inspection of some of the unfortunate people who have to work on these schemes and an inspection of their way of living, of their homes, and of their families, and they will then have an appreciation of what we are trying to put before the House.

Gearóid Mac Phártholáin

Ní raibh sé im aigne cur isteach ar an ndíospóireacht seo ach dubhairt an Teachta O Bruahdair cúpla rud go mba cheart dom tagairt do dhéanamh dóibh. Dubhairt sé, ar an gcéad dul síos, nach bhfaghann páistí scoile san iarthar— agus is dócha go raibh sé ag tagairt do Chonnamara — ach aon bhéile amháin sa ló agus go bhfaghann siad an béile sin ón údarás puiblí. Deirim nach fíor an méid a chuir sé os ár gcomhair ina thaobh sin. Bím ag dul tríd an gceanntar sin i gcomhnuidhe agus níor chuala mé riamh aon sgéal dá leithéid le fada an lá.

Bé an dara rud a ndearna an Teachta tagairt dó ná an muileann olna i nGaillimh agus rinne sé gearán mar gheall air. Bhí sé ag fáil locht ar an Rialtas mar gheall ar a laighead a rinne siad ar a shon. B'fhéidir go raibh sé ag iarraidh maitheas do dhéanamh don mhuileann seo ach ní shílim gur thug sé cothrom na féinne don Rialtas. Nuair a bhí sé ag innsint an sgéil ba cheart dó an fhírinne iomlán do nochtadh agus a chur in úil do'n Dáil go raibh an muileann dúnta go dtí gur tháinig an Rialtas seo i réim.

I did not intend to take any part in this debate, but there are a few things which Deputy Brodrick said which I do not think I should let pass without commenting on them. He said that children going to school in the West got only one meal and that that meal was the meal supplied by the public authority. That statement is absolutely untrue. I do not know of even a chance case in any place, and I am very well acquainted with every part of the Connemara Gaeltacht, at all events. Another thing Deputy Brodrick has done a disservice to by his remarks is the Galway Woollen Mills. I take it that his intention was a good one, and that he wanted to draw the attention of the Government to the desirability of helping the Galway Woollen Mills by giving them a monopoly of the shoddy trade. But the Deputy did that in a way calculated to create the impression that the Government had done everything it could to hamper the Galway Woollen Mills. He might have pointed out that these mills were shut down for a long period, until this Government came into office. In so far as the Deputy was drawing the attention of the Government so as to assist the Galway Woollen Mills, I am all with him, and I would add my voice and ask the Government to consider the question of giving Galway Woollen Mills a monopoly which I think they ought to get in this respect.

When an angry, hungry people were clamouring at the gates of Versailles on an historic occasion, and when Marie Antoinette asked what was wrong, she was told they had no bread. Her answer was: "Why do they not eat cake?" Similarly, when the question was raised in this House as to the hunger and the lowering of the condition of our people, brought about as a result of the Fianna Fáil economic policy, we were told by the Minister for Industry and Commerce that there were more motor cars in the country, and that more spirits were being drunk. That reply is practically on a parallel with the historic reply of Marie Antoinette and brings home to me and to every Deputy from a country constituency the terrible air of unreality that prevails in the Dáil. There is no relation to the real facts of life of our common people. Just like some of the debates we heard from the Government Benches, there is no realisation of the real condition of things, or of the circumstances under which these people have to live, when there is talk about motor cars and spirits. I wonder how many motor cars there are in the Island of Cape Clear, and how many cinemas, or how much spirits were drunk in Muintir Mháire and Mushera. These are the people we are legislating for, the common people, and we should bear them in mind. It was said that Roman civilisation and the Roman Empire perished to the cry of "Bread and circuses."

In other words, the realities of life were lost in the clamour for amusement and in the fight for doles and sops. That is what is happening in this country to-day. It strikes me that with the cry of doles and cinemas, bright lights and unemployment, Fianna Fáil is hastening to its doom. The whole policy of this Government, which we have now under review, is one that has made our poor people poorer. It has done them a greater disservice, because it has taken away their nobility, their independence of spirit and character, and has made them a people clamouring for doles. In the constituency I represent there are about 10,000 small farmers whose total poor law valuation does not exceed £4 each. It is the circumstances in which these people live, and the economic conditions of this country that we should have regard to. We heard very extraordinary statements from the Ministerial Benches. We had a speech a few nights ago from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Lands; it was a doleful and sorrowful tale. He was a really like a man who did not believe in the policy he was asked to speak about and there was a sort of apology in the mournful tone of his voice, which said: "I came to bury Cæsar, not to praise him." I think the Minister for Finance in one of his Budget speeches said that the consumption of spirits was on the increase because we had certain visitors coming to this country from the arid desert of protection. In other words, the tourist trade was responsible for an increase in the consumption of spirits. Seeing that we brought 84,000 people to this country as tourists, the increase in the consumption of spirits was possibly traceable to persons who came here to rejoice and to be happy amongst us.

On the other hand, increased consumption of spirits may be due to some of the banquets held to celebrate the great progress and prosperity of the new industries, some of the Lucullan banquets at which the Minister for Industry and Commerce was to speak, surrounded by his friends, a small number of whom have waxed rich on Fianna Fáil policy, persons who are rolling in fat, whose hands are literally dripping with the fat of tariffs. If there is increased consumption of spirits it may be traceable to some of these causes. The time is too short to go into the manifold manifestations of the poverty-stricken conditions of the lower classes of the people that was brought about by Fianna Fáil policy. One speaker to-day, and some speakers a few nights ago, dwelt on a few important things, and as these form the primary necessities of life I ask pardon if I pay more than usual attention to them. In the first place, the most elementary thing —the staff of life—is bread. It is an extraordinary thing that, as this country is not able to grow all the wheat it requires, the cost of the 4lb. loaf to-day should be 1/-. It is a long time, and the circumstances are very strange indeed, since the price of bread attained that level. Across the water it costs only 9½d. Flour is, on an average, 12/- to 13/- cheaper in England than it is here.

That refers both to baker's flour and domestic flour for home baking. In a speech some time ago I drew attention to the fact that the produce of a sack of flour was 90 loaves. Taking the difference in the cost, I worked it out at about 12/- per sack, or nearly 2d. a loaf. In the aggregate, therefore, our people are paying £1,600,000 per annum more for their bread than they should be paying. I ask Deputies if, in a poor country like this, that is not a terrible and a horrible tax! It is one of the sins, I think, that will cry to heaven for vengeance — that people should have to pay for bread £1,600,000 per annum more than they should be paying.

The Minister for Agriculture, in replying to that speech of mine, said that what I had stated would be true if all the flour in this country was turned into baker's bread, but he said that a lot of it was used for home baking. As a matter of fact, at one time nearly two-thirds was used in home baking; but people do not eat flour, they eat bread, whether the flour is turned into loaves in the home bastable or the baker's oven. The average output of the sack of flour may, for ordinary purposes, be taken as 90 pairs. I was not on that occasion indicating the millers for rapacity or for profiteering. I have made an examination of the figures with some Irish millers, and I know that it actually costs them up to 11/- more than it costs across the water to mill and to produce one sack of baker's flour. The Minister for Industry and Commerce has often said that he is satisfied that there are factors in the production of flour here that make the cost higher than in England, but he has never told us what those factors are. They have never been disclosed to the members of this House or to the people of the country. In my opinion there is no reason why flour should be 12/- and up to 13/- per sack dearer here than it is in England, but the fact remains that it is so.

The millers are satisfied that there are certain factors responsible. What are they? In my opinion the factors are not real. They are unnatural and artificial factors forced and imposed upon the Irish flour millers by the economic policy of the Fianna Fáil Government. There is no rapacity among the millers themselves I have figures here with regard to some other expenses involved in the production of bread. Take London, where the wages paid are of a pretty high standard. In London the 4lb. loaf is produced and finished out of the oven in the bake-house at about the same sum as the flour costs the baker here—that is, the flour before it leaves the mill. Here the quantity of flour that it takes to make a loaf costs the Irish baker about 7d. before ever it leaves the mill. In England the baker has the bread manufactured on the trough of his bakehouse for a slight fraction over 5d. I indict the Government for being responsible for the difference in the cost of bread here. That difference is entirely due to the factors that have been spoken of, factors founded upon the conditions which the economic policy of Fianna Fáil has imposed on our Irish millers.

The question was thrown at me the other day, why do you not go down to the Cork mills and close them up? The answer is that in the last five years we have put into employment in the flour-milling industry in this country about 700 extra men. Heretofore we imported about one-third of our flour, and there was actually more employment given in its importation than in the milling of the remaining two-thirds at home. The prohibition of the import of flour led to the disemployment of great numbers of people at the ports and elsewhere. The gross result is that we have put 700 extra men into employment in the flour-milling industry. The value of the gross output of the milling industry in Ireland is in or about £10,000,000. There are only 4,000 people employed in the milling industry here. Taking every mill that we have in the country, and seeing that our flour is costing us £1,600,000 more than it should, we could afford to put those 4,000 people out of employment, give them £400 a year, and pay nothing extra for our bread on the figures I have quoted. That is an aspect of the milling and baking trade which in my opinion is crying out for retribution. It will certainly bring down misfortune on the heads of everyone responsible for it.

Similarly with regard to the sugar factories. Deputy Meaney told us to-day that we had opposed the establishment of the beet factories. As a matter of fact I went out of my way on several occasions to boost the new factory at Mallow, because I did believe at the time that there was some advantage in it for our farmers. I knew at the time the price we were paying for imported sugar: that the countries that were exporting sugar here were paying bounties on their exports, and I thought that if there were any bounties going our own people should get a share of them. I wonder are the people of this country satisfied to pay from ¾d. to 1d. per lb. more for their sugar? There is no use in Deputy Meaney telling us what the Government are doing for the farmers. It is not the Government who are doing anything for the farmers, but the poor people who have to pay 3¼d. and 3½d. per lb. for their sugar.

Where do they do that?

I cannot tell now, but in some places.

I thought so.

I think if they have to pay 1d. or 1¾d. a lb. more for sugar that it is an extravagant price for our poor people to have to pay for the sweetening of their tea. That extra charge must amount to over £1,000,000 a year, so that if you were to take the employees out of the sugar factories, give them a good salary for life, and ask them to do no more work, you could afford to do it out of that sum.

There are many other matters I would like to deal with, but I have not the time to do so. I believe in a certain amount of tariffs to help industry and the manufacture of goods that should be made here, but in my opinion it is necessary that the goods we produce should be turned out on a competitive level. I think that we have extravagant ideas with regard to prohibitions. We have those prohibitions at a time when the productivity of the country is going down and down and taxation is mounting up and up. Some of the Fianna Fáil advocates tell us of the great help that the home market is to our farmers, although the Minister for Agriculture told us a few nights ago that his job at the present time is to bolster up prices in the British market. Now, the very people who would destroy that market say that their policy is to try to bolster up prices in it.

The agricultural policy of this Government may be described as a bolstering up one. The bolstering up they are doing is of a very feeble kind. The props that they are using are of a weak and temporary nature, and as soon as those props are taken away the whole thing will come tumbling about our ears. They tell us that they have given us a home market that is worth £11,000,000 a year. The extraordinary thing is that although prices have gone up, and though we have wheat-growing and beet-growing and other agricultural products being subsidised, the value of the home market for agricultural produce, in the last four or five years, has never exceeded £11,000,000 per annum.

Why is that? It is because the people are buying less and because they are consuming less and they have not got the money to pay. As I have said before, these are matters for serious consideration and it means that the whole produce of the country is going down and down. This country produced £60,000,000 worth of agricultural produce when there were no subsidies. To-day, with all the subsidies, tariffs, and so on, the agricultural produce is down to about £43,000,000 or, roughly, down by £20,000,000. In the meantime, your taxation has gone up enormously. When we were in office, and when the taxation amounted to £22,000,000, we were told by the people over there that the people of this country could not stand another penny of taxation. We were told that if another shilling or a penny of taxation was put on the country would flop. The Minister for Local Government and Public Health at one time, when we were dealing with the matter of a loan, told us that we were facing a bog of bankruptcy; but now the people opposite have raised taxation up to £35,000,000. We are going into all kinds of extravagance in high places, but we are taking no account of the conditions of the poor people and how they have to live. We have heard talk about Dublin, which has increased its population to a very great extent in the last few years. That may be true of Dublin and other cities, but what about the little towns in the country? Practically every small town is almost ruined. Their weekly markets are gone, their fairs are of no use, the population of such towns is fleeing and their stores and warehouses are closed. There is no shipping of corn from our ports and no fishing in places such as Baltimore and Kinsale and other places where there was a big fishing industry.

These things have no effect on the people in this House, evidently. No. We talk about very big things and about high things — about creating an Uachtarán and other things such as are proposed to be brought into a country like this. I do not want to delay the House very long, but in connection with this matter, it struck me that I might quote a few lines I came across the other day, in which a certain socialist writer mentioned the recent Coronation in England. I paraphrase the lines because I think they are applicable to Ireland at the moment, and I shall now read them to the House:

"In Ireland now great Demos rules O'er scarce three million city fools;

We have got our Constitution and our Ceremonial Head;

We have got the gaudy circus, but tell us where is our bread."

I congratulate Deputy Eamonn O'Neill. I am glad to see him here in December, 1937, just as rubicund and as rotund as he was in December, 1936. Because, Sir, the Deputy has had a fearsome experience. He has been telling us what Marie Antoinette said when she heard about an angry, hungry people. The Deputy, according to himself, has spent four months amid an angry, hungry people, and he has returned sound and well. We might almost regard the Deputy as a missionary, escaped from a cannibal island — that would be, if his story were true. Deputy O'Neill is a romantic soul; he has been dreaming of a bygone century and of a past age, wooing, possibly, Kathleen Ní Houlihán in the Irish equivalent of the Tuilleries Gardens. He has been one of the lucky ones, but what about his comrades who have not come back from the country? Have they been eaten by the mob?

I notice that the Deputy is leaving the House. I am glad that he is leaving, so that he may come into contact with those realities of life about which he has been speaking. That is just the defect of the Opposition in this debate. As you pointed out, Sir, the occasion of the adjournment is availed of for general criticism of the Government's policy, and during the ten years and more that I have been in this House I never had to listen to so half-hearted an attack as we heard to-day. It was opened by Deputy John Marcus O'Sullivan who, apparently, was so ashamed of his own performance that he left the House immediately, presumably to hide his face; and from first to last, there has not been a single speech from the Opposition to-day that has touched — in the words of Deputy Eamonn O'Neill — the realities of life. The first remarkable and significant fact in connection with this discussion is that, at the end of June of this year, an appeal was made to the people — to the whole people — upon the policy which we are now pursuing and which, up to then, this Government had pursued; and the verdict of the people then was an endorsement of our policy.

Well, if the Deputy wishes to question that, he can have the verdict of the people again. Let him resign his seat, and we will see what will happen.

What about the 89,000 votes down?

What are 89,000 votes here or there to a Party that, for the second time, has created a record in this House? During the palmy days of Fine Gael's predecessors in title, the Cumann na nGaedheal Government, they never had as many as 70 Deputies in this House. They were never able to muster on their own benches a majority. Not at all. They had to depend upon the rag, tag and bobtail, upon the flotsam and jetsam that the stormy sea of politics throws up here and there in a country.

We did not rearrange the constituencies. We abided by the verdict of the people.

When they were in office, the Party opposite, or their predecessors, were relying on Deputies like Deputy Alfie Byrne, or Deputy Alfie Byrne, junior, and probably on about a dozen others like Deputy Myles and so on — people who are not attached to any Party and whom, apparently, no Party will absorb. It was on a sort of higgledly-piggledly collection of that kind that the Cumann na nGaedheal Government were depending from 1922 to 1932, but since 1932 we have stood as a Party that commands the support of the majority of the people——

A Deputy

You have stood on the people.

However, as I have said, we want to get back to the realities of life. We heard a plaintive speech from Deputy Eamonn O'Neill, and I know that there is no person in the House who can use his voice to such advantage on such an occasion, can import such pathos as Deputy O'Neill can into his mellifluous voice. He told us about the hungry people and about what a loaf of bread costs here as compared with what a loaf of bread cost in, say, London. Now, nobody will deny that bread does cost more in this country than in London, but if it does cost more, that difference in cost, or that increase in cost is not due primarily to the cost of flour. It is due to a number of other factors. It is due to the fact that we pay higher wages: that we have day baking: that in general our people demand and our bakers supply a higher quality of bread than elsewhere, and to other factors of that nature.

It is rather remarkable that, in regard to this matter, Deputy Eamonn O'Neill should have endeavoured to ascribe the responsibility for the difference in the cost of bread here and in Great Britain entirely to the difference in the cost of flour. Of course, Sir, the Deputy might have had a reason for that. It might not be unconnected with the fact that Deputy Eamonn O'Neill himself, as I understand, knows a great deal about the bakery business and that, in fact, he runs a bakery himself. It might be that he is rather dissatisfied with the fact that bakers here get higher wages than, say, in Belfast; that the quality of bread which the Irish people demand is somewhat better, and that we have day baking here. Of course, it would be a very good thing from a number of points of view, when we are looking at this question of bread merely from the point of view of selfish interests—it would be a good thing, perhaps from that point of view, to stir up public feeling against the bakery business in general and endeavour in that way, by creating a great deal of prejudice against those who are employed in that particular industry, to get the Government to step in and try, if it could, to so regulate matters that the cost of bread or its price might be brought down or, possibly, the profits of the baker increased.

I do not think the Minister should refer to the business concerns of the Deputy.

I want to say that if Deputy O'Neill wished really to discuss this question of bread in the interests of the people of this country, he ought to have devoted himself to the bakery side of the business and not to the business of flour milling, because whatever difference there may be in cost between bread here and bread elsewhere, that difference is very largely due not to the flour milling end of the business, but, as I have said already, to the bakery end of the business.

Do the Prices Commission think that?

Let us come back to this question of what the realities of life are — the realities of life which Deputy O'Neill alleges we have lost sight of in the Dáil. He said that we had made our people poorer. Has Deputy O'Neill, or any other member of the Opposition, ever investigated that statement and endeavoured to ascertain what foundation there may be for it? I am perfectly certain that they have not, because I would say that, if they did, at any rate they would not be so lacking in candour that they would come here and make the sort of statements we have listened to to-day.

What is a fair test of the condition of the average man and woman in this country? I am not going to take motor cars. I never would have said, as Deputy O'Neill wished to imply, that at some time or another there was a millionaire on Clare Island who spent his life in a motor car. I am not even going to talk about the increase which has taken place in the deposits of our joint stock banks. I am going to turn to the poor man's bank, to the savings bank where thrifty people are able to put away their shillings a week, or shillings a month, or maybe a shilling or half-a-crown in six months, as the case may be, and I say that the position of the savings bank deposits is a fair reflection of the conditions of the people and of the trend of the conditions in this State so far as the generality of our people are concerned.

Might I point out to the Minister that there has been a much improved organisation in regard to savings certificates, and that the teachers in the national schools, in particular, are amongst the most active campaigners in connection with the purchase by their pupils of savings certificates? It is no real indication that there is more money amongst the poor people to-day than there was a few years ago.

I think the Deputy did not catch what I said.

I did, and I am tired listening to that.

I was not speaking about Savings Certificates. I was talking about the deposits in the savings banks, which is quite a different matter. I knew that the point might be made that there has been over the past few years a better organisation of the thrift movement in this country which exists to induce the people to invest in Savings Certificates. But I am talking about deposits in the savings bank, which are not affected in the same way, where people of their own volition, without any sort of inducement, go in week after week, or month after month, or every quarter, or every six months, as the case may be, and put in their comparatively small savings. I do not wish any person to believe that the ordinary individual who has to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow is in a position of complete affluence. But I do say that the great majority of them are able to live in a position of frugal comfort and economic security, and that they are in a position to add penny to penny, shilling to shilling, and so build up a substantial nest-egg against any sort of vicissitude with which life may afflict them.

What is the position? I cannot find any more recent date which would more truly reflect the position in this country as it was when the Opposition was in power than 31st December, 1931. On that date the accumulated savings in our savings banks amounted to £3,703,000. That was the fruit not merely of the savings of ten years as between 1922 and 1932, but that was the fruit of the accumulation which had gone on in preceding years. It represented the transfer of accounts from the British Post Office Savings Bank as well as the accumulated savings of our own people over the ten years from 1922 to 1932. What was the position at 31st December last, the last date for which I have figures available? I hope, if I have still the responsibility for the Department of Finance, in the Budget to set out figures for the year which has just ended. But at 31st December last year the deposits in our savings bank stood at £7,470,000. Inside of five years the deposits of our people in the savings banks increased by over 100 per cent.

Have you the bank deposits for the same two years?

I can tell the Deputy that they are up by 1 or 2 per cent. or something like that over what they were in 1931-32. I will give him the exact figure in a moment.

The Deputy is thinking of the help he got out of the bank to get himself in here.

At least it was my own.

A lot of these compliments are premature by a week.

The bank deposits of the Irish Free State for the year 1931 amounted to £127,984,000. At the end of December, 1936, the figure stood at £130,314,000 and, on the 30th June, 1937, at £137,784,000. There was a percentage increase between 1931 and December, 1936, of 1.8 per cent., and between 1931 and the end of June, 1937, of 2.9 per cent. Whether we consider people who put their money for safety into joint stock banks or whether we consider people who put their money on deposit in the savings banks, so far as these figures go — and we sometimes hear it said that money talks — they, at any rate, afford one clear indication that the people of this country are not getting poorer.

But there are other realities. Take the case of home assistance. The earliest figures I have in my possession at the moment are the figures for 1934, and I think it is quite relevant to quote them because, since 1934, there has been a general election. In 1934 there were 108,000 people in receipt of home assistance in this country. In 1935 the number had declined to 86,000, and in 1936 to 80,000. It is one of the unfortunate realities of this life that there are people, whether because they are invalids or in some way incapable of work and have no relatives to maintain them, for whom we have to provide home assistance, but the number of people upon home assistance in this country is 28,000 less now than it was in 1934. That is to say, that the condition of our people has improved. We may put it this way, that the condition of our people has improved by at least 25 per cent.; therefore they are 25 per cent. better off, not, as Deputy O'Neill alleged, poorer.

Give us the 1931 figures.

I made the point that I had not got these figures.

They would not suit.

I am sure that if I had the figures for 1931 they would show the same tendency.

The Minister took good care not to have them because they would not suit.

If it were true that the poor have grown poorer since this Government came into office, it would only be by reason of the fact that there was a general stagnation of trade, that the number of transactions as between buyer and seller had fallen, that our people were purchasing less and selling less. The value and velocity of trade are reflected in the average weekly figures for bank clearances. What is the position? In 1934, the average figure for weekly bank clearances was £5,160,000. In 1935 it was £5,280,000. In 1936 it was £5,570,000, and the average for this year up to to-day was £5,723,000.

Could the Minister give us the figures for previous years?

I cannot, but they are not relevant. They are not necessary.

They are relevant.

The Deputy has just come back from the country. The people had before them our record over the period from 1932 to 1937. They had the record of the Deputy's Party from 1927 to 1932 and the one fact that emerges, beyond yea or nay, from the result of the election is that, however angry they were, as Deputy O'Neill wished us to believe, however badly they thought of us, they thought very much worse of the principal Party in opposition to us.

That red herring will not cover the discrepancy of the other figures.

There is no discrepancy. In 1934 the average weekly bank clearances were £5,160,000 and in 1937 they were £5,723,000. The figure is much higher now than it was then. In fact, if I might make a rough calculation, the figure for bank clearances is up by 12 per cent.

Again, take the figure for the circulation of bank notes and legal tender. That is an important figure because it is a fair indication of the cash transactions which take place from week to week. We all know that a great volume of payments are made by cheque. But we do know also that the average farmer when he goes into a village to buy from the merchant, like the average working man in the town when he wants to buy something, pays for it with some sort of currency, either with a coin, a bank note or a legal tender note. Thus the circulation of bank notes and legal tender notes represents the number of small cash transactions that are made from day to day by people in the circumstances to which I refer.

Again, what was the position in 1934? In 1934, the number of bank notes and legal tender notes in circulation represented a value of £13,269,000. In 1935 the value had gone up to £13,811,000 and in 1936 it was £14,344,000. I have not got the figures for 1937 but I notice to-day that the issue of legal tender notes has reached a new high record. All that represents an increased turnover, an increased volume of business, increased profits, increased expenditure and increased wages because you cannot spend unless you have money to spend and, so far as the great bulk of our people are concerned, they cannot spend unless they are in employment. No person has ventured to get up to adduce documentary evidence in this House to controvert the statement which the Minister for Industry and Commerce made during the debate upon the private members' motion, down in the names of Deputies Morrissey and McGilligan, that the number in employment in this country had considerably increased since 1931.

There are other facts as well which go to show that the condition of most of the people of this country has considerably improved since 1931-32. We have heard a great deal about the high cost of living. The Opposition, during private members' time, has been discussing a motion in these terms:

That the Dáil deplores the lowering of the standard of living of the community by Government action through the operation of taxes, levies, duties and like impositions on foodstuffs and other necessaries of life, and is of opinion that all such impositions should be forthwith abolished.

Now what are the facts? So far as the people of this country are concerned, there is no tax on tea. We have reduced the tax upon 80 per cent. of the sugar consumed in this country to an infinitesimal figure. It stands at one-eighth of a penny in the pound. There is no tax upon wheat, and there is no tax on a number of other commodities. In fact, the relative position is that whereas during 1931-32 there was collected by the Government then in power from duties on foodstuffs alone no less a sum than £1,701,504, during this year, by means of the remissions which were granted to some extent under previous Budgets but primarily under the Budget for this year, the amount to be collected from foodstuffs has been reduced from that figure of £1,701,504 to an estimated figure of £650,000, that is to say, that during the past 12 months there has been a decrease in the revenue collected of over £1,050,000 as compared with the amount collected by our predecessors when they were in office from the same commodities. The same is true in regard to other taxes. We hear about a tax on boots, a tax on clothing, a tax on furniture, and a tax on a host of other articles. When our predecessors were in office they collected from those articles £1,120,000. In 1936-7 there was collected from the self-same articles £948,940; that is to say, we collected in the year 1936-7 £171,000 less than our predecessors collected from the necessaries of life such as boots, clothing, furniture, etc.

And how much more have you collected on the total?

In fact, so far as taxes upon food, boots, shoes, clothing and articles of that description are concerned, we are collecting £1,222,000 less than our predecessors collected in 1931-32.

But £2,000,000 more in the total.

The Deputy forgets that because of the increasing prosperity of the people the poor are able to consume a much larger proportion of what were formerly regarded as luxury commodities.

Agricultural machinery for instance?

If the Deputy wishes to study the customs returns the first thing that must strike him is the tremendous increase which has taken place in the tobacco revenue. In regard to this question of the customs, the Deputy is in the same hazy position as his colleague, Deputy Brooke Brasier, was when he was talking on this matter on Wednesday night last, and when he alleged that we were collecting over £11,000,000 from customs. That figure has never been reached.

I agree; but you have gone over £10,000,000.

We have gone over £10,000,000. We have collected £10,222,000 in some years, but this year we are budgeting for £9,440,000, practically none of which will come from taxes upon food. In fact, so far as we are concerned, last year we remitted £360,000 worth of taxation on sugar, £350,000 worth of taxation on tea, and £190,000 worth of taxation on wheat.

Which should never have been on.

If the Deputy wants to argue the merits of any particular tax upon food, I can tell the Deputy that it is said in the Scriptures, "Not by bread alone doth man live."

That is my point exactly.

It is, therefore, just as iniquitous to tax sugar as it is to tax wheat; but the fact of the matter is that civilised communities cannot get on without some form of indirect taxation. Of course, we know that the Deputy's leader, Deputy Cosgrave, has funny ideas about this question of taxation. I remember when he was sitting here on these benches as the responsible head of the Government in this country, he got up and told us that if the farmer did not take sugar, and did not take tea, and did not smoke, and did not drink, and did not wear boots, and did not wear clothes, he need not pay any tax at all. In fact, if he were to run around in a state of nature, he would be as happy as Adam in the Garden of Paradise.

Was it true?

Of course it is true. I should have added that if he did not have furniture in his house, and had no house, he need not pay anything. Not merely need he not pay taxes, but he need not even pay rates. That was the ideal of human comfort which persisted and, apparently, persists still in the Fine Gael Party. When Deputy Cosgrave was translated from this sphere of responsibility to those seats of irresponsibility, he carried that naive idea about taxation over with him, and now, apparently, all his Party subscribe to it. We are to abandon the whole system of taxation, and, of course, if we abandon the scheme of taxation we have got also to abandon the system of social services which is built up and carried on by taxation.

I cannot contend with people who live in that dreamland. We have got to consider the hard facts of life, and so long as we have to provide for the education of the youth of this country, so long, in short, as we have to provide for those who are out of employment in this country, so long as we have to provide for the preservation of the public peace in this country, so long as we have to meet, even upon the present limited scale, the necessities of defending this country, so long as we have to provide a Civil Service and the whole organisation of the State in this country, we shall always have to put on taxes which will hit every element and every individual in the community. If a person is in the community, and gets the benefits and advantages of the community, he has also got to bear the burdens and disabilities, too.

The Minister has made a very delaying speech. Would he now answer my question as to whether the Cabinet has decided to remove the restrictions for this week on the unemployed? It is a very important matter.

The question is: "That the Dáil do now adjourn until 3 p.m.——"

He has said nothing about the unemployed.

Nobody may rise when the Chair is addressing the House.

Mr. Byrne

He has said nothing about the unemployed.

The Deputy should observe the rules of order.

Mr. Byrne

I thought he would say something about the unemployed and he has said nothing. There are 90,000 people——

The Deputy should not take advantage of this last moment to break the rules of order. He has had sufficient experience to teach him.


Question —"That the Dáil do now adjourn until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 12th January, 1938"— put and agreed to.
The Dáil adjourned at 5 p.m.