Many matters that I had intended to raise on this Estimate have been already raised by various Deputies on both sides of the House and I do not intend to go over to a great extent what has gone before. Whatever I have to say in addition on this Estimate will not take very long. I should like to refer to one or two items, particularly to an item that was raised yesterday by Deputy Hughes. The Minister, in speaking yesterday, said that he proposed to arrange an additional reserve of 50,000 tons of wheat and, as an inducement to the millers to reserve 50,000 extra tons of wheat, he proposed to allow them to charge 1/- a sack extra on flour. That statement of the Minister suggests to me, as it did to Deputy Hughes, that what will happen is that 1/- per sack will be charged on all the flour produced and consumed. In other words, that there will be 1/- a sack on 2,750,000 sacks of flour. If I am wrong, the Minister can contradict me. If that is so, the millers will get roughly £137,500 for reserving 50,000 extra tons of wheat. That seems to be rather a good arrangement, if it is a fact, and I believe it is, for the millers, but a very bad arrangement for the consumers. I would like the Minister at this stage, in order to prevent any further Deputy making a statement which may not be correct, to say if, in fact, we are arguing on a wrong basis. It appears to me, from what the Minister said, that that is what is happening. For the reservation of 50,000 tons of wheat, the consumer is to be mulcted to the extent of 1/- a sack on his flour. If that is so, we are paying the millers £137,000 odd for reserving 50,000 tons of wheat.
Committee on Finance. - Vote 57—Industry and Commerce.
That is only a fleabite to what you are paying already.
We know what we are paying already. We want to know what the additional fleabite is, and it appears to me to be a very big bite of the flea, if that is a fact.
The question of the alcohol factory has been already referred to. I do not want to go into it further, although I would have liked to have said something on it. There were various other matters to which I would have liked to refer. There is one definite thing in the Minister's speech on which I would like to say a word, that is in regard to the proposed new invasion of European industrialists. I want only to express the hope that these industrialists will not get terms similar to those given to some people that have set up factories in this country in the last four or five years and that the resources of this country are not going to be, in effect, distributed amongst certain European financiers.
Last night I rather suggested, I think, that I regretted that the Minister for Industry and Commerce was not also in charge of agriculture. I did not mean to suggest that the Minister for Industry and Commerce would have made a better Minister for Agriculture than the present Minister. What I was trying to convey was that it was a pity that someone had not the dual function of arranging for agriculture as well as industry because I believe that, if somebody, this Minister or any other Minister, had the dual responsibility, it would have forced him to adopt a saner policy of national development for the whole industry, agriculture as well as what is commonly called industry, and it might have saved the country the result of the vicious and haphazard race for the erection of factories which we have had in the last five years without any particular consideration of the effects of the industries that were set up in those factories on the agriculturists and on the general consumers in the country.
Deputy Childers, I think it was, referred yesterday to the prejudice that existed against Irish-manufactured goods. Perhaps there is a prejudice against Irish goods. I think there is, perhaps, a little prejudice and it is natural that that prejudice should be there because the people in general recognise that the manufacturers are the spoiled children of the Government; that they are pampered and spoon-fed, and that their general way is made rosy and easy for them at the general expense of the community. It is no wonder, to my mind, that there should exist this natural prejudice against them, in that particular set of circumstances.
One prominent Deputy on the Government side of the House said last night, in arguing the whole question as between industry and agriculture, that the talk about people leaving the land was nonsense, that we were always leaving the land, and that the fact was there were too many people on the land. I do not know whether there would be general agreement with that particular statement or not. Personally, I believe that every reasonable Deputy in the House, whatever Party he belongs to, knows full well that if conditions pertaining to agriculture were as reasonable as conditions pertaining to industry that particular statement of the particular Deputy would not be confirmed by anybody else. Every reasonable Deputy knows that given fair conditions you would have thousands of extra men employed on the land — doing drainage, manuring, fencing, cleansing the land and many other things. That work would be going on if only farmers had the wherewithal to pay for it, and if their overhead charges had not been increased so much, mainly by the policy of the Minister for Agriculture. Due to these causes they are unable to undertake the very necessary works that I have referred to.
We are told that the Government have a fully thought-out plan for the development of industry. Why should all arrangements be made for the development of industries that concern only one section of the people? These arrangements are made in advance. Provision is even made for the percentage profit that is to be paid to those who put their money into those industries. Why should that be when no such arrangement is made for the industry which is represented by 60 or 70 per cent. of the people, the section that will have to shoulder the burden of the cost of the successful industries that we were told about? I think it is time that stock should be taken of the whole question. I agree with the suggestion made by Deputy Mulcahy and supported from the Government Benches by Deputy Childers that some body should be appointed to determine what industries are to be regarded as the country's first line of industry. Agriculture, our largest industry, should be represented on that body whose function it would be to determine what industries, outside agriculture, should be conserved here. If something on that line had been done at the beginning we would not be in the position in which we find ourselves to-day.
The Minister said yesterday that we were facing critical years. We have survived some critical years, and that we are facing critical years is probably true. How we shall emerge from them will depend largely on the policy that we pursue during the next year or two. The policy that the Government have been pursuing in regard to the general economic development of the country has proved futile in its effect so far as the largest section of our people is concerned. It has been most unfortunate in its effects so far as unemployment is concerned. It has provided no solution for that problem. It is not too late now to revise that policy. Therefore, I hope the Government will adopt Deputy Mulcahy's suggestion.
What the country needs is a gradual side-by-side development of agriculture and industry, proper provision being made for the success of both. If it is found impossible to do that, then, in my opinion, the full resources of the country and of the Government should be expended on the agricultural industry rather than on a combination of both if it is found impossible to provide for both at the same time. When the essential industry of the country is in a bad state, it is clear that the Government's haphazard plan of an industrial revival cannot be pursued with any measure of success. In conclusion, I would appeal to the Minister to consider the suggestion made by Deputy Mulcahy with a view to arranging a sane, a sound and an economic policy for the development of the country.
The Minister, in his opening remarks, referred to the establishment in his Department of a special branch dealing with, among other things, a rationing of petrol and fuel oils in the event of war. I think that nobody doubts that the rationing of both will probably have to be even more strict than it was in the last war because the demands made by the fighting services of the world for petrol have increased enormously since that time. I want to know from the Minister whether that branch, looking at this from the wider point of view, has considered if it is in the national interest, and in the interests of the national economy, that a public transport undertaking in this city should turn over from the use of a home-produced fuel to the use of an imported fuel. The last figures published by the E.S.B. showed, I think, that the Tramway Company were taking roughly 10 per cent. of the board's total output for some years back. If the Tramway Company's present policy is continued the result will be that the E.S.B. will lose that 10 per cent. consumption, and that the imports of petrol will be very considerably up, resulting, among other things, in a further increase in the adverse balance of this country. There are many things that could be said in favour of trolly buses as against motor buses, but this is not the time to discuss that question. I do ask the Minister to consider that aspect of the matter: whether it is in the national interest that that changeover should take place. The Minister may reply that he has no power to deal with such a matter. I am satisfied that if he felt that the matter was important he would have no difficulty in procuring the necessary powers to control development in that form.
There is another point which the Minister might consider, and that is whether any further concession can be made to help the use of battery-driven vehicles as opposed to petrol-driven vehicles. The former admittedly have a limited sphere, but within that sphere they are far and away more economical and better than the petrol-driven vehicle. If any encouragement could be given by the Minister in favour of the use of battery-driven vehicles as against petrol-driven vehicles the same advantage would apply there as in the other case that I have referred to, namely, that a home-manufactured fuel would be used rather than an imported fuel.
The point has been made from the opposite side that wheat-growing is being subsidised. I cannot agree. Under the legislation in force, the millers are obliged to pay a fixed price for wheat to the grower. I do not call that a subsidy. This fixed price which the millers are obliged to pay has raised the price of flour to an exorbitant figure, so much so that consumers to-day are paying in or about £1,500,000 more for flour than they should be paying. That has a serious effect on the price of flour and also on the loaf of bread, which is one of the most important foods in the cities and towns. In the country parts flour is a very important and necessary article for food. The milling legislation has had a serious effect upon the price of flour, as can be seen when you compare the price of English-made and Irish-made flour. Irish-made flour to-day is in the region of 37/- or 38/- a sack, while English flour is about 23/- a sack. That is a very big difference in the price of an important commodity in this country which cannot be done without. It has the effect of putting up the price of the eight-stone bag of flour by 5/- or 6/- as compared with imported flour. In rural areas and mountainy districts, where they have to buy a bag of flour in the week if there is a large family, an extra outlay of 5/- or 6/- is a serious problem. It is one of the things that is creating a lot of uneasiness in the country. The same thing applies in the towns and cities with regard to the price of the loaf. The increase is equivalent to an increase of 1d. on the 2lb. loaf. and 2d. on the 4lb. loaf. These are things which are creating unrest. There are cases in the country where they find it hard to buy flour, as they have not got the money. That is one of the reasons why I say that the milling legislation is putting this commodity above the reach of the people's income.
Sometime ago when there was going to be a strike in the milling industry we saw that there were only 1,500 or 1,600 people eligible to vote, so that there are only 1,500 or 1,600 employees with permanent positions in that industry. When you compare the number who may have got employment in that industry owing to this legislation with the number who lost their employment at the quays and ports and on the railways and in cartage and haulage, etc., it is possible that the number who lost employment and who are, perhaps, receiving unemployment assistance to-day, is much greater than the number who got employment as a result of the milling legislation. Even if you compare the amount of tillage done to-day with what was done six or seven years ago, it is possible that tillage has increased very little over what was done then. There may be an increase in wheatgrowing, but some other crop, possibly oats, may have suffered as a consequence. The growing of oats is more or less rotational and might take the place of wheat. If the growing of oats were neglected, it would be a serious matter, because it is a very valuable crop and is necessary in order to foster and promote egg production. Without oats egg production would more or less fall away, as the farmers find it very expensive to buy meal.
The second thing I should like to speak about is the question of the alcohol factories. Surely these factories are not a paying proposition for the farmers when you take into account the price offered for potatoes, which is from 35/- to 40/- a ton. This year potatoes for export were worth £5 or £6 a ton and last year £4 or £5. In the ordinary market town potatoes were making from 3/- to 4/- a cwt. last year and this year from 5/- to 6/- per cwt. People who sell potatoes in the market towns when they expect to get a reasonable price for them are told, "We cannot pay that price; if you sell them to the factory you will have to sell them at 1/9 per cwt. or 2/- at the maximum." That has the effect of reducing the price of the potatoes for the producers.
Another matter I should like to mention is eggs. To-day Eire "specials" are quoted at 10/- per hundred on the English market, while North of Ireland eggs of the same quality are quoted at 11/3; standard Eire at 9/6, and North of Ireland, 11/-; Eire selected, 9/-, and North of Ireland, 10/3. I admit that there is a subsidy which brings the prices fairly level. Something should be done, however, to bring our eggs up at least to the standard of North of Ireland eggs, as I believe our eggs are even better than North of Ireland eggs.
The Minister for Agriculture should be approached on that subject.
Something should be done to give more prominence to our eggs in the British market. In that way we may be able to get the North of Ireland price for our eggs and that will increase their value by 1/- per hundred. The same thing applies to bacon. Even with the subsidies and all the legislation which has been passed, we only get third place in the British market for our bacon. Our bacon should at least get second place in the British market.
That is also a matter for the Minister for Agriculture. The Deputy will have an opportunity of raising it later.
These are the few points that I wish to raise on the Vote. If there is anything in them that might improve the position, I should be glad to hear what the Minister has to say when replying.
I want to direct the Minister's attention to a feature in the industrial situation that I think threatens rather grave consequences. Everyone remembers that at the beginning of the industrial drive the Minister insisted that decentralisation of industry would be a feature of his policy so far as he could achieve it, and those who approached him with regard to tariff arrangements or other concessions were told, quite correctly in my opinion, that the help of the Department would only be available on condition that they started their industries outside Dublin and went to important towns which were more in need of the employment which industry would give. Very many people, of course, accepted these conditions and invested their capital on such conditions. In many cases, it meant very serious disadvantages. It meant using a port that was by no means as favourable as Dublin. It meant that there was greater difficulty in getting skilled workers, where they had to be imported, to come to the place where the factory was located than it would be if the factory were situated in Dublin. It meant considerable disadvantages in the way of administration. At all events, all that has happened. Now, there is the prospect looming up for many of these people that, after they have done the pioneer work, after they have shown that certain things that were never manufactured before in the country can be manufactured here with success, other people are to come along to take advantage of that situation. Without permission from the Minister, they are availing of the advantages of manufacturing in Dublin. If that development takes place, I do not think that anybody needs to be told that it will threaten certain industries very seriously. There are certain industries which could hardly bear any competition. The market here is not much more than sufficient for one factory.
What are these industries?
The Deputy knows them as well as I do. I am not going to mention them lest I might be taken to be pleading for certain industries. The Deputy knows that there are certain industries in that position. That is not the most important factor. The really important thing is that those who pioneered the industries have, in conformity with the Ministerial policy of decentralisation, accepted the Minister's terms and gone to the country. Now, rivals can come along and manufacture much more favourably in Dublin. Is there to be no protection? I can understand the Minister replying that he has no power to interfere with them if they comply with the Manufactures Act. What I suggest is that the circumstances would justify the Minister in taking power to protect the people concerned. After all, if one set of industrialists complies with Government policy and accepts the disadvantages of that compliance and another set does not but, in fact, takes all the advantages of the compliance of those who preceded them, is the Minister to sit idly by and take no notice? I think that the Minister owes a duty to those who did accept his policy and went out and placed their factories in towns where they were extremely badly needed, where they are giving considerable employment and where, in fact, their existence means the existence of the towns.
Are there any such cases?
There are such cases and the Deputy knows them. He wants to trap me into pleading for special industries.
I want to know what we are talking about.
It is easy for the Deputy to imagine such cases. I put it to the Minister that those who have acted in that way have a certain claim upon him and that he should not allow them to be seriously interfered with, particularly in view of the very serious economic and social disadvantages that would follow if such an industry failed in a provincial town. There is the further aspect that, in some of the industries I have in mind, Government money is indirectly invested. In fact, the greater part of the capital probably came from Government sources so that I think it would not be too much to ask that the Department should take special action where such a threat exists.
It is rather amusing to hear Deputy Benson pleading for native power with regard to transport while, at the same time, Deputy Cosgrave, Deputy Dillon and Deputy Browne emphatically decry the use of native fuel.
There is a vast difference between the two fuels.
I wonder if there is. Deputy Cosgrave and Deputy Dillon seem to have industrial alcohol on the brain. Deputy Dillon, in order to try to justify his position, made a statement here yesterday which has no foundation in fact at all — that the principal use of industrial alcohol was for other than motor-fuel purposes. He is miles away from the facts in regard to that. There is another anomaly with regard to this matter. We have a constant plea to look after the adverse balance. We are told, for goodness sake, to try to cut down imports and to rectify the very serious position disclosed by the adverse balance. At the same time, when a beginning is made in an effort to reduce the importation of oil, there is nothing but abuse for the effort. It seems to me that, if the adverse balance is to be rectified, we shall have to do a great deal more than we have done, up to the present, in reducing imports, particularly the import of commodities for which substitutes can be found within the country. I confess that I should like to see the Department applying itself more energetically to the task of finding substitutes for a great many of the things we import at present. It is rather too much of a gamble to look to the export of one or two things to carry the whole trade of the country. At the moment, one might say that the only export which is paying is cattle. Butter does not pay, bacon does not pay, according to the Prices Commission, and eggs do not pay, so that you have now one big export carrying the whole trade of the country on its back. I do not think that we should indulge in wishful thinking to the extent of expecting that that position is going to improve, that the English market is going to show a great advance in price or an unlimited demand for our exports. I think that, while doing everything possible to encourage exports, we shall also have to reduce imports and find substitutes within the country for a lot of the present imports. I think also, that if the Labour demand, that employment be increased and made more varied, is to be conceded, we shall have to try a great many more experiments like industrial alcohol. From the point of view of the labourer and the farmer and from the point of view of trade and finance, there is a great deal to be said for the existence of the industrial alcohol factories. The Department must be giving great satisfaction when practically the only thing that can be said against it is that it has indulged in that experiment.
The Deputy must have his ears stuffed.
There is another curious feature of the speeches that are made here from time to time, particularly the speeches made by Deputy Dillon. Deputy Dillon never tires of talking about the high profits that have been made by flour millers and bacon curers. These are the two classes to whom he most frequently refers.
It is a curious thing that Deputy Dillon never once referred to the immense profits being made by a firm of brewers in this country, a firm which does not even pay income tax in this country. The Deputy has never once called attention to the fact that they do not attempt to share with their customers any part of their immense profits though they pay bigger dividends than any of the bacon people or any of the flour millers. The Deputy never makes a reference to them even though they do not go to the trouble of using anything like the quantity of raw material from within the country that they could use. They would not be guilty of buying all their raw material here but instead import large quantities of barley and malt — probably to a quite unnecessary extent. I wonder why is it, with the facts present to him in reference to that concern — a concern that pays a 30 per cent. dividend, that makes no attempt to reduce its prices, a concern that is dealing with practically every family in this country — that the Deputy would not at least have some word of the general condemnation against them that he has about firms in regard to excessive profits? But apparently there is to be a difference between an Ascendancy firm and plain people like the O'Maras. How dare people like the O'Maras make dividends? These things ought to be reserved for people like Guinness and Company.
The Deputy has already succeeded in hunting £1,000,000 worth of Guinness per annum out of the country.
So that also is to be viewed through Party eyes?
It was Party policy that did it.
That is a new revelation. It is the first time Deputy Mulcahy ever mentioned that, and I thought Deputy Mulcahy had availed of every stick that he could find with which to beat the Government.
The Deputy's eyes are opening wider and wider.
It is the first time the Deputy has ever said that the present Government was responsible for the removal or part removal of the Guinness business. Surely the Deputy has been unnecessarily silent on that question if the Government were to blame?
The Deputy's ears are being stuffed.
Does Deputy Mulcahy really believe that the Government was responsible for the transfer of part of Guinness's business?
I would like the Minister to explain the figures that showed this up recently.
I suppose it is the present Government, too, who are responsible for the fact that the company remained a British company. Though the product is manufactured here, it never gave this country the benefit that would accrue through it being registered here.
Has the Deputy any better defence than that for his policy and the policy of the Government on flour and bacon?
I was not speaking of flour.
I thought the Deputy was. I heard him speak of flour.
I think the vagaries of the Opposition in regard to the organisation of the bacon industry and all their agitation on the subject of bacon profits have somehow ended in very little. To my mind, there is very little in the Report of the Prices Commission that could be regarded as condemnatory of the policy of the Government on the bacon curing and pig industry.
Could the Deputy explain why it is that the Irish people have to pay 76/- a cwt. more for their own bacon than the price at which they are prepared to sell it to the Englishman?
Is not that the worst feature of all international trade at the present time — export at prices much below home prices?
Can the Deputy explain the question I have put to him?
The Deputy amazes me. He has evidently made a marvellous discovery. Would the Deputy tell me how he thinks the dairying industry would exist to-day if no action had been taken to get the farmers more than the export price for their butter?
How long are we going to keep in existence the policy of supplying the Englishman with butter at a much cheaper price than our own people can get it?
The Deputy has been a long time silent with regard to his great discovery on that question. I could understand him if the Deputy said that our policy should be to say to all outside countries that unless we get an economic price for our exports, then we will export nothing. Is that the Deputy's policy?
The Deputy is much more marvellous if he thinks we are to start an industrial fabric here on industries located in such places that they cannot stand competition.
It is very hard to keep up to Deputy Mulcahy. The Deputy runs away from one thing to another so rapidly that one does not know where he is prepared to stand and give fight. Apparently he runs away at all events from the proposition that we can get any price we like for our exports— that we can demand a price and if the buyer refuses to pay that price we are in a position to say to him: "We refuse to export any goods to you." The Deputy runs away from that now.
If the Chair will allow me I will stand.
The Chair would prefer the Deputy to sit at present.
The Deputy has now been a long time here. That situation has been a long time in existence and he has not proposed any remedy for it. We would all, I am sure, be very glad to get a remedy for it. No one wants to give John Bull butter or bacon or anything else below our own prices. If the Deputy knows any way in which we can fix prices for our exports, then Deputy Mulcahy is very much wiser on that subject than he has ever previously let on to be.
The Minister rose.
The Minister to conclude.
There are just a few points I want to put to the Minister in connection with unemployment assistance. Men have been sanctioned by the Department for work on minor relief schemes. After these men have worked for some weeks, and when that work was finished, the men are for a fortnight and sometimes for 16 or 17 days compelled to wait before they get the first payment under the unemployment assistance. What happens? Public bodies have to come to their assistance. I can quite understand if it was the first time these men had been working on minor relief schemes, that this thing might have happened, but the men are already established and have been registering at the local labour exchanges whence they were sent to work on the relief schemes.
I cannot understand that this procedure should go on for two or three years. It seems a very unnecessary delay, especially when these men's claims to being on unemployment assistance have been already passed. The various labour exchanges are familiar with the procedure in these cases. They are fully aware that the work to which the men were sent has been finished. Having that knowledge, I fail to see why it is necessary to keep these men waiting for 16 or 17 days to have their claims to relief sanctioned. While the men are waiting, the public bodies who have already contributed 60 per cent. of the cost of the schemes have also to contribute to the maintenance of these insured men.
Then there is a new system coming into vogue in the rural areas. I would like to know if that is going to be a permanent feature of the Department's policy. I refer to the issue of postdated cheques by the Department. A post-dated cheque is sent to a rural area. A man may have his claim passed but he must wait until the following week before the cheque is cashed. The man has been already certified as entitled to the allowance. Why send the cheque and notify him of the fact that he will not receive payment until the following week? The man is kept a week or a fortnight in suspense. The post-dated cheque is no good to himself or to his family. That procedure is depriving the man of receiving home assistance at the time he needs it. In addition, the relieving officer knows that the cheque has come and he has to refuse relief in the circumstances.
Dealing with the industrial policy of the Minister, I am sorry to say that I have a very strong grievance against the Minister or whoever in the Department is responsible for the new factories. I am aware of a case in one constituency where a factory was about to be established. It appears that some official in the Minister's Department advised against the establishment of the factory there. What do we find a short time afterwards? A prominent member of the Minister's Party in about three months had a publication in the Irish Press that he was responsible for securing that factory for another area. I believe that there is some reason for that; I believe that certain members of the Minister's Party work some influence in that particular section of his Department. The factory was not suitable for one particular place, although the people were very keen on having it——
The Deputy must hold the Minister responsible— not an official.
I am holding him responsible. He may or may not be aware of it, but I am giving him the facts. The public are beginning to be aware of the fact that, unless you have some influence, no matter how keen the people are on having a factory in some particular place the Minister's officials will refuse to sanction it.
I support the plea put up by Deputy Moore in connection with factories being established in the cities in opposition to those already established in rural areas. We are aware of the fact that there is a great cry at the present time to keep the population in the rural areas, but factories established in provincial towns have not the facilities that there are in places like the City of Dublin or Limerick or Cork. At the same time you have more unemployment in those places, and I would support Deputy Moore's plea in regard to that matter. Cork, Dublin and Limerick get preferential treatment over provincial towns. The people in the provincial towns have invested their money and have established certain industries, and if they are going to close all those industries it is not for those three cities which have greater facilities to claim the advantage of it. Protection has been given to the industries in those particular towns; they have for the last two or three years been making a success of those industries, and there are no other sources of employment. You are not met with the same problems in the cities, where there are other means of providing an outlet for the unemployed. For that reason I think the Minister should do something in the way of giving special facilities for country towns, and not to give the old protection to new factories that may want to be established in the cities. If we are going to help the rural areas the first thing we have to do is to help the provincial towns. They will be able to purchase the produce from the rural areas. Where some of those factories are established the people for ten or fifteen miles around have got the benefit of those factories in the way of produce sold by agriculture.
I would ask the Minister to consider those few points. I would ask him to reduce the period during which the men have to wait before receiving the first payment under the Unemployment Assistance Act. I should also like to see some adjustment made in those rural areas, and not to have those post-dated cheques sent to the insured person asking him to wait a week or a fortnight before he is paid on those cheques.
The main feature of the Minister's policy which strikes the casual observer is the failure of the Department, notwithstanding all that we heard about industrial development, to make any reduction in the number of unemployed in this country. As a matter of fact, we find that the number of unemployed is steadily increasing. Yet we are told that this country is engaged in big schemes of industrial development — that we are engaged in an intensive industrial drive. Nevertheless, we find that although the population of the country is actually decreasing, the number of people unemployed is increasing. Again, we find that the Minister has failed completely to devise any effective means of relieving unemployment. We have minor relief schemes, but they are, to a great extent, inadequate and ineffective. They fail because, to a great extent, they are based on the number of unemployed in each electoral district, and not on the national need for big development schemes. If the Minister, instead of endeavouring to provide little works in each particular district, would seek to develop big national works of drainage and so on in each area where they are needed he would, I think, be going a long way towards relieving unemployment.
At the present time, in regard to industrial development, we have a serious situation. There is growing up in this country a strong feeling of hostility towards industrial development, and I think that is an undesirable state of affairs. Wherever farmers meet together, we have declared hostility to industrial development. We find that Irish manufacturers are being described as the greatest enemies of the Irish farmer. On the other hand, wherever we have Irish manufacturers assembled together they seem to be able to find nothing better to do than to ridicule and deride the Irish farmer and his methods. Now, I think there is going to be no industrial development in this country, no agricultural development, and no general economic development, until those two sections of the community learn to co-operate with each other. The Irish manufacturer and the Irish farmer are to a great extent brothers inasmuch as they are both engaged in production, and I hold that while the agricultural industry is the most important industry in this country industrial production is also important. Any citizen of this country who contributes to an increase either in agricultural or industrial production is rendering the greatest possible national service at the present time. However, instead of that co-operation which should exist between the Irish farmer and the Irish manufacturer, we have a position at the present time in which the two groups are becoming more and more hostile to each other. It may be asked: What is the cause of that? To a great extent it may be due to the fact — and I think it is due to the fact — that agriculture is going down whereas there has been a certain amount of development in industry. When the farmers find their position becoming worse, whereas the position of certain manufacturers has become very much better, they assume that the manufacturer is their natural enemy. However, I do not entirely share that view. If I were a professional politician, in order to gain popularity with the farming community I would, like Deputy Dillon, go all out to attack the Irish manufacturers. I hold, however, that an improvement of the economic position in this country is not to be achieved by pulling down the Irish manufacturer but by raising the farmer to the same level of comparative prosperity. Therefore, I am not prepared to join in a general attack upon the Irish manufacturers.
I listened very carefully to the debate which took place yesterday upon this Vote and I have not heard any definite statement as to how the industrial position can be improved. Neither have I heard of any particular industry which should be scrapped. I think that there is not any established industry in this country which is very detrimental to the farming industry. What is detrimental to the farming industry at the present time is the definite failure of the Government to realise the poverty of the agricultural industry, the result of years of depression, and to take steps to relieve it. I do not agree, or never will agree, that the Minister for Industry and Commerce is the farmers' greatest enemy. There have been. I know, cases in which excessive profits have been made by some manufacturers, but I do not think it is possible to have a condition of prosperity, or even a condition of progress in industrial development, without having certain cases in which some manufacturers will make considerable profits. It is not always the manufacturers who makes no profit or who, as a matter of fact, makes a considerable loss, that is the greatest asset to this country.
Again, a good deal of condemnation was directed against the Minister's policy in regard to the storing of wheat against an emergency in this country. On that question, I think everyone will agree that the Minister was justified in seeking to lay in stores of wheat against a national emergency, but I think nobody will agree that it is right, proper or desirable that the Minister should go to hard-headed business men and ask them to help him in providing against a national emergency of that kind. I think it is only natural to assume that when the Minister goes to hard-headed business men and asks them to relieve him in a serious economic situation or to help him to get over a serious economic difficulty, that the taxpayers are going to be made to pay for any assistance which is given. I think the whole policy of the Government in regard to storing food supplies, particularly grain, against a war emergency should be on the lines of the State taking action by purchasing whatever grain the Government may think necessary and storing it in their own stores instead of being dependent on a system for which they have to pay dearly. It may always be taken for granted that private firms are not going to provide facilities of this kind without their being very well paid. The storing of grain for a war emergency is not an ordinary commercial transaction. It is work which belongs to the Government and which should be performed by the Government itself, not through any private firm. Therefore, I think the Government should take immediate steps to consider the question of providing stores for grain in this country against any emergency that may arise.
In this connection, I do not think that the Government should be confined to wheat only. They should also take into consideration the question of storing, in addition, supplies of oats and barley when there is a surplus, as there may be a surplus during the coming year, as a result of the changed policy in regard to the admixture scheme. I do not see any reason why the Government should not be prepared to take any surplus of oats and barley that may remain after the coming year, in addition to purchasing supplies of foreign wheat that may be required for a war emergency. That, I think, would be a sound policy because I think everybody will agree that supplies of grain in this country might be even more valuable in a national emergency than supplies of gold.
Many criticisms have been directed against the Government's industrial policy but, as far as I can see, very few suggestions have been made as to how that policy can be improved. I listened very attentively to Deputy Dillon's statement that the high price of boots was leading to increased use of rubber boots. I think that on that question Deputy Dillon was somewhat misled because it is not alone the high price of boots that is responsible for rubber boots being used more extensively, but also the fact that rubber boots are a more suitable article of wear, particularly for farmers during wet periods of the year. Everybody knows that farmers and agricultural labourers for a very great portion of the year work under conditions in which their feet are six inches under water. There is no doubt whatever that the water proofed rubber boot, the top boot, is a more useful article of wear than any leather boot that can be produced at any price. This just shows how unwise it is to jump to conclusions from figures or statistics produced before us. While I have studied the statistics very carefully, I have been rather careful not to draw any conclusions from them for that reason, that there are so many different factors which must be taken into consideration.
My main object in rising to speak was to urge the Minister, in regard to the relief of unemployment, not to continue the present system under which the whole Department is confining its activities to small schemes in each electoral area. I think the Department should seek bigger development schemes under which they could transfer unemployed men from one area, or one county, to another if necessary. We know that for a number of years past we have had people from the West of Ireland migrating to Great Britain in search of work. If people are prepared to migrate to Great Britain for a few months of the year, there is no reason why, if there is a surplus of unemployed in one area, they should not be prepared to travel to some other area so long as work is provided there for them. For that reason, I think the Minister should try to find out where development schemes are needed, schemes such as drainage, afforestation or reclamation of land. The Minister should find out where useful schemes can be carried out, and if there are no unemployed in particular districts, they could be taken from districts where people are unemployed to other areas. If the Minister was prepared to adopt that suggestion, it would go a long way towards providing a certain amount of relief for the unemployed. I should mention that it is not in works of that kind alone, but in the development of productive industry, and particularly the agricultural industry, with which the Minister is not concerned, that unemployment can be relieved. The main fact we must take into consideration is this, that industry at the present time is facing a serious crisis. One of many reasons is that a large section are becoming somewhat hostile to irish industrial development. That is a matter that the Minister must carefully consider. The feeling of hostility must be removed, and a feeling of confidence re-established, and also a feeling of co-operation between farmers and industrialists.
I want to draw the attention of the Minister to the desirability of having an embargo placed on the importation of marble. I remember that during the period of the Italian sanctions there was a mild boom in our marble quarries, which seemed to indicate that a good deal of the marble that was previously imported could be replaced by the home article. When the sanctions were lifted the boom ceased. In this connection, I think the Minister should have an inquiry made into applications for licences to import marble, and should seek, as far as possible, to ensure that no applicants with an overriding interest in foreign marble, should get licences to work any of our products. At a time when foreign imports were checked, as they were effectively checked during the period of the Italian sanctions, these people, as an alternative, fell back on Irish marble. They just looked upon it as an alternative. That is not fair to our quarries. It should be our primary concern to see that, if possible, other people should not get licences to work this marble. I ask the Minister to have the matter examined very closely.
I believe that we have reached the stage when we must seriously consider our industrial policy. After five or six years of an intense industrial drive where do we find ourselves? The principal aim in the establishment of industry is to give employment, and I am satisfied, from that point of view, that we have definitely failed in our object. Although a certain amount of employment may have been given, we must, at the same time, realise that we have at present 105,000 people unemployed, while the flight from the land is as great as it was during the famine years. That in itself should make us believe that there is something wrong about our industrial development. What I believe is wrong is this, that we have gone far too fast, and have not realised that we should have done as much for the main industry as was done, to a great extent, on the industrial side. If the Minister for Agriculture had taken off his coat on behalf of agriculture, as the Minister for Industry and Commerce did in order to develop industries, we might be at a better stage in our history to-day, because while the agricultural community are practically starving, and cannot find the means of working their land economically, we find their sons and daughters leaving the land to try to get work in some of the new industries. While these industries give employment in the towns, the people from the land are flocking to the towns.
One of the most serious problems we have to face, and the principal thing we should be doing here, is to try to find means of keeping people from going from the land to the towns. I think the Minister realises now that the Cosgrave Government was wise when they adopted a policy of selecting the industries to be started here. They studied the kind of industries that were suited to this country and the type of minerals that could be developed. If people sat down to consider what industries could be considered economically suited, they could find eight or ten main industries that had their roots here. They could find out if slate quarries, flour mills or copper mines could be worked to advantage. We have started 200 or 300 so-called industries which have not their roots here, and that have really given more employment to people across the Channel than to people here, and that have also raised the cost of living here far more than the people are able to afford.
As far as my county is concerned, I have a grievous complaint against the Minister. It is one of the few counties that has during the last six or eight years suffered severely from the economic war. The people there go in for live-stock raising, which is their main industry. I expect it will be their main industry in the future, because the land there is suitable for nothing else. The Minister should realise that during the last few years the people in that county got a desperate knock. They are impoverished and almost poverty stricken now, where in the past they had bank accounts and were in a big way of business. There was no flight from the land by the people in Meath in the past. In fact, workers from the West of Ireland came to Meath to help at the harvest, and when they returned to their homes they had nice little wads of money at the end of the season. That is finished now, and the sons and daughters of the farmers are flying to England to earn a living. That should not be the case. A few years ago, when tobacco-growing commenced, everyone thought that there would be a new heaven on earth in Meath. Many people rushed to the Department to try to get licences to grow tobacco. A good many of the selected men made handsome profits, perhaps of £200 or £300 an acre, and they thought that that would continue. What do we find this year?
The Deputy can find that in the Agricultural Estimate.
I shall refer to this matter on the Agricultural Estimate. There are brick works in Slane and the board of health endeavoured to give that local industry a chance in connection with their building schemes. They decided when building cottages to use the product of the Slane brick works. Having done that, an order came from the Department of Local Government that the board would not be allowed to build with bricks.
It did not come from the Department of Industry and Commerce.
No, but I am mentioning it so that the Minister for Industry and Commerce can go after the Minister for Local Government, to see that he does not interfere with that industry. That is really what happened. I want to give the Minister a lecture on that matter. We had also very progressive flour mills between Trim and Drogheda, and we were told from 1932 up to 1936 that these mills would be working to their full capacity. In 1939 I find that not one of these mills is working. In fact, they are more of a nuisance than any thing else at present, and if the Minister is not going to get them working, I think the weirs should be lifted so that the country would not be flooded. I would prefer to see the weirs remain if the mills were to be worked, but otherwise these weirs are a serious menace because of the flooding they cause. We were also told that there were vast resources of copper in the Navan area, in which there were in the past prosperous copper mines. The shafts are still there showing that the mines were worked successfully at one time. When the big drum was beaten in Navan a few years ago the people were told to put in the present Government, and that the copper mines would be working to full capacity. The copper mines are still there, but they are not working, and not a Minister or a Deputy from the Government Party went down them to see if there was copper or gold there.
About two years ago, there was another great rumour in the Hill of Down area, that a big peat works was to start. Machinery was to be brought from Germany, Russia and other places, and hundreds and hundreds of men were to be employed. The Minister for Unemployment, Deputy Huge Flinn, sent down a squad of 60 to 80 men and set them to work on a bog for six or eight months, working in two shifts a day. They spent thousands and thousands of pounds, but, after six or eight months, work suddenly ceased and the men were sacked. No one could find out the reason for it, but the reason was that the Minister found that it would not be a paying proposition to start his peat works there. By his action, he has done serious damage, not alone to the unemployment problem, but to the farmers in the area, because canals were made through the bogs and the water diverted from its natural course. Where is it running to-day? Right into the good land in the Hill of Down area, because it has nowhere else to go. Thousands of pounds worth of damage has been done to the farmers' property there. Having made that blunder, it is the duty of the Government to rectify it and to send down at least as many men to restore conditions in the bog and not have the water flooding the land.
We have also in County Meath two of the very finest stone quarries in the country, one at Ross and the other at Ardbraccan. No one seems to boost them at all and they should be working to their fullest capacity because they are two of the finest in the country. They are at present being worked in a half-dead way for want of being boosted. Surely the local Deputies should waken up to the fact that these quarries can be, and should be, worked. If they want to gain popularity, let them bring a Minister down with a big drum and get a headline in the paper as to the existence of the quarries. Instead of that, they are left unnoticed until an election comes along. It is time that something were done in my county to liven up the Government. I think that what is wrong is that the county has two Deputies who are "sheepy" and quiet, and who bow and sit down if the Minister says "boo" to them. I wish to God we had men like Deputy Corry in my county, men who will not be afraid of the Opposition or the Government, but who will have their say. That type of man is really worth having.
One of the most serious problems the Minister will have is whether he will be able to keep the 34 or 35 boot factories in the country going. I am afraid he has a problem there. In that respect, he made a big blunder, because he knows as well as I know that five, six or eight properly-developed and properly-situated boot factories would be quite sufficient and would give just as good employment as the 34 factories he established. I mention this matter because we were lucky to get a boot factory in Kells. It was in a serious condition last year and was going to close down, but the local people got together and put up more capital, with the result that it is going pretty well now; but if it is to be kept going by putting up new capital every year, surely there is something wrong. If the Minister is going to close down 15 or 20 of these factories, as I expect he will some day, I ask him not to close the Kells factory. It is the only industry he has given us in County Meath.
With regard to peat in general, I am not satisfied that the amount of money being spent in trying to find out whether peat is worth developing is money well spent. I believe we are doing just as much harm as good. In my county we had some good bogs on which a large amount of employment was given for the last 50 or 60 years without any of these new developments. We had our bogmen who employed six or ten men on a natural bog, working from March to September and turning out the best of fuel. It was a thriving industry and we had farmers carting the fuel on every road by ass and mule and horse. Since the new briquettes have started the bogs are idle. The briquette is being brought to the people's doors and they buy it because it is handy. It may be all right to give work in the making of these briquettes, but the Minister must realise that he has closed the Irish bogs which we had in County Meath, which is a most serious thing. There was a bog divided amongst the local farmers last year which had been giving very good employment. They got a perch or so each, but not one was allowed to spread a bank, with the result that no farmer can cut on his own bank, and unless three or four come together and spread a bank nothing can be done. It was a blunder to give only a perch to each man.
I do not think the Minister for Industry and Commerce is concerned in that.
There, again, I say that he should have collared the Minister for Agriculture.
I think the Minister will have enough to do with his own Department.
There is another town in Westmeath in respect of which, not alone this Government has failed, but the previous Government failed, We who got the invader out of this country realise that we gave the town of Mullingar a severe blow when we put the British out, because one of the greatest barracks the British had was in Mullingar. There were perhaps 8,000 or 10,000 soldiers there all the time and every trader in the town lived on what he could get out of the barracks. To-day, that town is almost dead and deserted, with no hope of a revival unless the Minister takes a special interest in it. He did give us, a few years ago, a kind of an industry, although I could not call it an industry. It is a thing called a pencil factory, and it is really the laughing stock of the county because, in what is called a pencil factory there are, I think, two girls, one colouring the pencils black and blue and red and making them nice-looking, and the other pointing them. If you use one, you want a secretary at your side with a sharp knife to put a point on it every five minutes. It is more like a pencil that would be suitable for lipstick than a pencil with which to write. It is absolutely useless for that purpose. There is no use in the Minister thinking that this is an industry because it is not.
The town of Mullingar wants an industry and it is the duty of the Minister, as it is the duty of us all, to give that town an industry. It is a good, large town on the main road and on the main railway line. I do not know whether the local people are quiet and easygoing, but something should be done for that town because if it is allowed to die the whole centre of Ireland dies. We inflicted a hardship on that town when we put the British out and did not put Irish soldiers in. Let us, even at this last moment, try to get some class of industry for that town which will suit it. The industry that will suit County Meath and County Westmeath is a tannery because they are the livestock counties. Fine horses, cattle and sheep are reared there, and I believe they are counties in which tanneries should be started. The towns of Mullingar and Trim should have tanneries. In the latter town we had two fine tanneries giving very good employment, and I do not see why we cannot get a tannery going there again. I, and those on this side, will make every effort to help the Minister by getting capital from the local people, who will put up the capital if they get the chance. We are told that Members on this side of the House endeavour to stab Irish industry in the back. I say that is a lie, and a bare-faced lie. I know little industries in my own county, and when people went to find money for them they failed to get one penny and could not start the industry. They found that they had to call on Fine Gael to join with them and, when they combined, the money came pouring in, and if we want more we can get it. There is no use in one side trying to stand on its own. The only hope we have of reviving Irish industry is by a combination of every sane and sensible man in the country.
I ask the Minister to remember that he has forgotten Meath and Westmeath. He may have a chance to start a few dozen industries in the future because I think we have come to the time when a large number of these so-called industries which were started in the last five years must die out. If they can be kept going at all as paying concerns, then keep them going by all means, but if they are at a dead-end, then let them die out and let us cut our losses because there is no use in eternally losing money on these factories and industries and telling people that they will pay some time. We heard that about the Roscrea factory—that it would pay some time. It certainly paid some people, but it did not pay the country. It paid a few people, and paid them handsomely, with the result that they can travel around now at their leisure.
I do not think I have anything more to say, Sir, except to tell the Minister that he should be very cautious because we are at the turning point in Irish history at the moment, and I suggest to him that, before he starts new industries, he should bring the Minister for Agriculture into consultation with him so that they could put their heads together and, if the Minister for Agriculture finds that there is something in an industry that is proposed to be established that would be hurtful to agriculture, then that particular factory or industry should not be gone on with. In that way you would avoid a clash, and there has been a clash, and the result of that clash is that the people are going down while a few concerns are going up.
Another matter that the Minister should take into serious consideration is the question of foreign capital here. He should not allow foreign capital in here for a new industries. I do not mind a small amount of foreign capital coming in, but I have in mind a few industries that were started here without Government aid or without Irish aid. The particular industries I have in mind had a huge success, but I am afraid that the capital invested in these industries is 100 per cent. British capital, and while they have been devoting their energy to producing good and serviceable commodities, I fear that some of these factories were not put up for that purpose, and if there should be a crisis at some future date, that 100 per cent. British capital will be used for other purposes. Such factories have 100 per cent. British capital and are 100 per cent. British in the minds of the Irish people.
Looking over this Estimate we find that Estimate for the Department of Industry and Commerce in 1930-31 was £100,221, and that in 1939-40 it has increased to £307,640— that is, really, three times the amount the Estimate was in 1930-31. I should like to know whether or not the House agrees that we are getting value for such a huge increase. Probably the Minister and his Party are gloating over the industrial policy that has been going on for the past five or six years, but if that industrial policy is such a help to this country, why is it that our population is dwindling away day after day? We have more unemployed at the present moment than we had in 1930-31 and each board is paying out more home assistance at the present day than they were paying in 1930-31. Along with that, the rates are one-third higher at least than they were in 1930-31, and there is less industry and activity in the smaller towns throughout the country. Why are these conditions prevailing in the country, if this industrial policy is such a success as we are told it is? We would like to hear the Minister's reply to that.
We heard from Deputy Moore that we should have even less imports into this country than we have at the moment and that we should develop the natural resources of this country. That is really what his words amounted to. Are we doing that? Let us look back on our old industries and our natural resources. What is the position of the woollen industry in the country to-day? Why have you some mills working on half-time and one big mill closed down for the last year and a half? Take the leather industry. What is the position there? What are the boot and shoe factories doing at the present day? Take the slate industry. Why have you so many unemployed in that industry at the present day? Two or three years ago you could not get a slate at any price, but now they are there but they are not being bought. Why is it that they are not being bought? They are not being bought because the policy of the Government has crippled building to such an extent as to put an extra cost of at least 20 per cent. on building. By the policy of the Government you have a huge tariff on the imports of certain raw materials coming in for assembly here from countries that have always been making them, and the result has been that you have added to the cost of building at least 20 per cent. Even though you may have put a few into employment, you have crippled building by the policy you have been pursuing in the past five or six years.
We would all like to see as much industry as possible in this country, but at the same time there is a limit to what the people can pay for it, and they should not be asked to pay more than they are able to pay. It would be much better for this country if you could have the different industries going. Take the building industry. That is crippled now, and it is crippled principally because of the high cost of building materials that has been brought about by tariffs here. People are only able to pay for the houses that are being built for them, with the result that you have the Minister for Local Government and Public Health refusing to sanction loans for more labourers' cottages at the present time.
The next matter to which I should like to refer is the statement made by Deputy Childers yesterday. I read that statement in the papers to-day and, to my knowledge, the Deputy made that statement once before in this House. In the first instance, he said that the Irish people were prejudiced against Irish-manufactured goods and that the Minister for Industry and Commerce should show his hand in order to make people buy Irish-manufactured goods. That is reported in to-day's paper. Now, I think that such a statement should be challenged, not alone by this Party in the House, but by the Minister's own Party and the members of Fianna Fáil —the statement that the Irish people were prejudiced against the buying of Irish-manufactured goods. Deputies on the Government Benches know as well as I do that the people of this country, 20 and 30 and 50 years ago, as far as was possible, bought Irish-manufactured goods where they got value for the money. Even within the last 20 years you saw an Irish week organised by the Gaelic League, during St. Patrick's week, where parades were held and prizes given for the best shows and best exhibits of Irish goods. You had that going on in Dublin and in all the provincial towns. I think it is a wrong statement to make, that the people of this country are prejudiced against the purchase of Irish-manufactured goods.
Some of them are, of course.
Some of them are? Well, there may be a few left in Cork, but that is the only place. Again, however, if you look back to a few years ago when the district councils were in existence you will notice the amount of stuff manufactured in Ireland that was purchased by these councils in the way of small industries such as the brush and hosiery industries. You will find on their lists, even 20 years ago, that they were buying from those small firms. Local authorities, district councils and boards of guardians were buying Irish-manufactured goods from these small firms 20 years ago. I do not want to go any further into that matter, but there is just one other matter to which I should like to refer, and that is the peat industry. It is strange to see that there is a reduction in this Estimate, from £93,952, in 1938-39, to £70,500, in 1939-40. The reduction is rather strange, seeing that inside of seven years you have the total Estimate gone up by about three times what it was.
Take the case of the Turf Development Board. You have a reduction there from £21,000 to £16,000. You have General Development (Grant-in-Aid) reduced from £2,800 to £1,000. In the case of advances for general development, there is a reduction from £1,500 to £500. For the development of Clonsast bog there is a reduction from £60,000 to £50,000. Can the Minister explain to us what is the reason of all the decreases in this Estimate? Is it that the Government are satisfied now that there is no future for peat development? Is it another of the experiments such as the alcohol factories that have been tried at great cost to the country and have failed? If that industry was a success I would imagine that the Estimate would be increased instead of decreased. There is one thing that I have observed since the Government put their hand to the peat industry, and that is that it is nearly impossible down the country to buy turf. I would like to have an explanation from the Minister in regard to that matter. I believe that it will be a very difficult job to make it a success. Will the Minister let the House know what is the opinion of the experts in regard to the peat industry? We are all anxious to know whether it is going to be a success or, if not, when we should cut our losses, as we may have to do in the case of the alcohol factories.
Statements have been made by Deputies during the course of this debate to the effect that our industrial development is in some way detrimental to the progress of the agricultural community. It has been stated that for every man put into industry, one man is taken off the land. If there was any truth in that statement the position would be serious. We agree upon one thing, and that is that the agricultural industry is the one big industry of our country; that every farm that is worked properly is in itself a small factory and vast numbers of these go to make up the agricultural industry as we know it. I am satisfied to leave this problem in connection with the assistance to be given to agriculture to the Agricultural Commission which, I feel, will find a solution.
My point is that the development of the second arm of our economy, our industrial arm, instead of being detrimental to the interests of agriculture, is definitely helpful. The workers in our industries in the towns and villages constitute a home market for the produce of the land, a market that is more remunerative to the farmers than any foreign market could be. The workers in these industries purchase the products of the farms. They purchase the beef and mutton, and this gives a market to the farmer, who is guaranteed a better price than he would get for his beef and mutton in a foreign market. Then, again, they purchase the butter, milk, eggs, fowl, vegetables and fruit, to mention but a few items. I could, of course, enlarge upon that subject and state that they consume oatmeal, which is grown in the form of oats on the farm, and if the farmers are unable to produce or supply the necessary amount of wheat to provide our industrial workers with all the wheat meal and flour they require, then the fault does not rest upon the shoulders of the Government.
Further, I submit that practically all the wages paid to our industrial workers find their way back to the pockets of the farmers. I will go so, far as to say that, in my belief, the future welfare of agriculture, to a large extent, depends upon the success of our industrial development. The Minister has asked for the co-operation of all Parties. I fear, listening to the speech delivered by Deputy Cosgrave last evening, that we cannot have the measure of co-operation which we would desire. His speech had a very definite free trade bias. It was to the effect that we could not expect his co-operation, or the co-operation of the Party he represents, if the setting-up of our new factories caused a tax to be put on any of our goods. Our new industries, according to him, should compete with the products of foreign countries, where the wages paid often-times do not exceed 1/-, or the equivalent of 1/-, per week. They will have to compete with the surplus products of those countries, products that are subsidised by their Government in order to be dumped into this country. In other words, no new industries could be established here if they were not able to compete with the products of the sweated labour of the world. We would be forced to employ, as heretofore, Japanese, Chinese and Russians to do the work that our Irish workers could be doing and are capable of doing at home.
He expresses sorrow that the consumer of bacon here is able to consume only 3lbs now as against 4lbs. before the Minister closed the ports against the importation of bacon. I do not know whether these figures are correct or whether they make allowance for the extra amount of bacon that is cured and consumed by the farmers in their own homesteads. But the question of the food value of the bacon arises, and what effect it must have upon the health of the community. Certainly there is a greater vitamin value in 1lb. of home-produced Irish bacon, home-cured bacon, than there could possibly be in 14lbs. of Russian or Canadian bacon and I think it is only natural that the people of a country should consume the products of that country; it is only natural to expect that these products will be more healthy.
I am afraid the same mentality permeates the Fine Gael Party now as it did when they were in power, when they accepted the dictum that it was not the duty of the Government to provide work for any man, that a man might die of starvation but it was not the duty of the Government to relieve the situation. We are definitely changing that position. We are establishing industries to provide employment. The Opposition tell us that we have a huge unemployment register. All I can say about that item is that we are not afraid to expose the number of genuine unemployed, and when Deputy Cosgrave and the Fine Gael Party were in power they ran away from that position. They did not tell us how many unemployed they had because they gave them no inducement to register. Not alone do we ask our ordinary unemployed people to register, but we ask our small farmers and our farmers' sons to register also. We ask those with means and those without means, and all are included in this figure. It gives the Minister and the people an idea of what the problem is that has to be faced and it is only reasonable to expect that, if we intend to face a problem and solve that problem, we must know its extent.
A number of Deputies on the Fine Gael Benches have belittled the efforts of the Government in establishing industries. Not alone that, but they told the people that a number of our industries have been failures. It is only, perhaps, natural to expect that from them. They have been telling our farmers, for a number of years, that the farming community are on the verge of bankruptcy. There is as much truth in one statement as there is in the other. In connection with the farming community, I think it is only right to remind Deputies on the Opposition Benches that the deposits of the farmers in the banks when the economic crisis was at its height, from January, 1935, to January, 1937 increased, and that the amount of money that the farmers have now in the banks, as last recorded in 1937, lying idle, after meeting all liabilities and commitments, is £23,000,000. Even the farmers are beginning to think, in spite of all the propaganda they have been listening to and which has been poured into their ears for years past, that they have not been as near the verge of bankruptcy as they were told.
In connection with our new industries, I think it was Deputy Dockrell who, last year, when this debate was going through the House, produced a broken handle of a spade. The implication then was that because there was a broken handle in a spade the whole industry, as far as spade-producing was concerned, might be closed down. This year I listened to him and he did not produce any evidence of the failure of any of our industries, but he did suggest to the Minister, if I interpreted his words correctly, that some of our industries were not just up to the mark as far as efficiency was concerned, and that the Minister would be well advised to have those industries closed down. I do not know that such inefficient industries exist, but if they do exist, as the Deputy stated, then I suggest to the Minister that a better method of helping those industries would be, instead of closing them or scrapping them, to assist them by advice. I think the Minister should investigate the system of management in such industries, if brought to his notice by Deputies or others interested, and advise as to the operation of those industries and suggest better methods because, after all, one industry that is saved is as important to the country as one new industry established. Therefore, I think the Minister should institute some system of investigation of the affairs of any industries where it is brought to his notice that they may not be carrying on as they should. A minor system of inspection by the Minister and periodical reports from him to the Dáil on the working of those industries would be at least more convincing than any second-hand information coming from Deputies.
A pleasant feature of the industries in my own constituency is that the products have reached a very high standard indeed. In fact, the industries in my county are becoming noted for the excellence of their manufactured articles, and I can safely state that they are equal to the best that have been supplied to this country from any foreign country. We look forward to the day when we can take part in export trade. We certainly have the right stuff. We are able to produce it at the right price, and we only require the market that we believe exists. I hold that our exiled brethren in other lands would be only too anxious to help us in our industrial revival here and would be only too anxious to purchase the stuff we would be able to give to them, if they could secure it. We have not the available capital to enable us to link up with the foreign markets and I suppose, even if industrialists had that capital available, it might not be wise for them to undertake the task of linking up with foreign markets because of the fact that it might be a waste of effort, if it was not a waste of money.
I suggest to the Minister that he should examine the industries and ascertain their capacity for development. He should also ascertain the possibility of each industry producing something for the export market and then explore all possible markets so that he could set up connections between them and the industries involved. Of course, in countries where we have an adverse trade balance I suppose reciprocal trade agreements could be drawn up. The Minister, of course, is well aware of these matters but, anyhow, I submit it because I believe that we are now ready, in some industries, to undertake export trade. The excellence of our manufactures will ensure that we will be able to retain our foreign trade. It will be remunerative to us and we can carry on that trade while, at the same time, developing our other new industries.
It has been truly said that industrialisation serves a social as well as an economic purpose and the idea the Minister had in placing industries in the country districts and the rural towns was to counteract the trek from the land. We want more industries in the country districts and, perhaps, my only complaint against the Minister for Industry and Commerce is that we have not got sufficient industries. I can say that I know it is not his fault, that, as far as he is concerned, he is only too anxious to have those industries placed in the country. Our country towns and villages have responded splendidly to the call for industrialisation. They have produced a certain amount of capital and have produced the workers. The workers in our rural towns very quickly adapted themselves to the new conditions, and I think it is to their credit that it can be stated that they very quickly reached maximum efficiency. Furthermore, they take a pride in their work and the manufactured article bears testimony to that fact.
We will not be able to stop the trek from the land. If the trek is only to a rural town or to the rural village, there is nothing serious happening. We always had a trek from the land because of the fact that a small farm could only maintain a man and his wife and family until the family had reached school-leaving age. Then the children had to look out for themselves. Heretofore, the usual outlet was into the local services and social services and into the professions.
Now, a further outlet that those sons and daughters of farmers have is into industry. Fine Gael Deputies should examine the matter from this angle and advise farmers to invest some of their £23,000,000, which they say is lying idle, in the new industries, if they are not willing to invest it in agriculture, so that it may be the means of providing employment in those industries for their sons and daughters. I think that we can compliment the Minister on all that he has done for the industrialisation of the country. I know that it is his intention to go ahead with his programme. I can assure him that he can do so in the knowledge that we can produce here superior goods. The slave mind would tell us that the foreign goods were much superior, but that idea is fast disappearing in the light of the experience gained during the past few years. People down the country now glory in the fact that the money which they pay for those manufactured articles finds its way into the pockets of the farmers and into the pockets of Irish workers. They are now no longer compelled to subscribe towards the employment of workers in Japan, Russia, China, Canada or Germany or any other country while leaving their own people idle at home. They appreciate the efforts of the Government and of the Minister to secure the circulation of so much money throughout the country.
I have a few words to say on a particular item in the Minister's Estimate which was criticised by some Deputies. I refer to the money expended on peat development. I want to appeal to the Minister to continue assistance to peat societies which have taken advantage of the money given for carrying out improvements on the bogs that they produce turf from. This is a very important matter as far as my county and constituency are concerned. We have in that county at least seven very successful peat societies. We have a local market for the produce they have to sell. Very generous assistance undoubtedly was given to repair the roads and drain the bogs. The people concerned were not slow to avail of it. The secretary of one society showed me a cheque value for £2,076 which he had received for the quantity of turf produced by the members of his society. That was a considerable amount of money to have circulated in a small area. Quite adjacent to it is a town, and I am sure that a large amount of that money found its way into the pockets of the business people there. I do not find any fault with the policy of curtailing expenditure in areas where societies have failed to function, but where societies have taken advantage of assistance for peat development and are prepared to supply turf at a competitive price, I would ask the Minister to allow them further assistance to complete important works begun and left in an incomplete state.
I have no objection to machine-won turf. In fact, I think you will have a number of other areas where that kind of work will be undertaken. There is a bog in County Galway that has been surveyed. I understand that the depth is suitable and that the turf there is of superior quality. The bog is conveniently situated near the railway line between Dublin and Galway. I am sure there will be no difficulty in finding a local market for the products from that bog in addition to the turf supplied by the other peat societies in the County Galway. I refer to the bog near Athenry. I hope to see it developed and worked. It is convenient to the town of Athenry, in which for about eight months of the year there is held what is known as a hiring fair. It is held on Sundays. Migratory labourers from Connemara attend it. The four months when the output of peat is at its greatest is for those migratory labourers what may be described as a slack period. They come to that area generally from the 1st October to the end of December, and again from the 1st February to the 1st June. During the remainder of the year they are at home. The development of this bog at Athenry would be a very important matter for those migratory labourers. It would be a real asset to them.
We have heard a good deal in this debate about unemployment. Unemployment is perhaps rife in the towns, but I do not find that it prevails to any great extent in the rural areas. Any increase there is in the unemployment figures, so far as they relate to the rural areas, is due more or less to an extension of the social services and to the facilities that have been offered to the sons of farmers to register with a view, ultimately, to getting employment on certain schemes such as sanitary and waterworks schemes. I have heard a very sad picture painted about the 105,000 registered unemployed. With regard to that figure I want to say frankly that I believe it is a very exaggerated figure. If it were correct it would indicate that we had acute unemployment in the country. I am quite certain that it exaggerates the position. If it be contended that we have 105,000 registered unemployed and that 75,000 people have emigrated, well, then undoubtedly the problem is a serious one. It has been suggested from the opposite benches that, in order to put people into suitable industrial employment, an advisory committee be set up to inquire into and decide on suitable industries to absorb them. I think the Minister might be well advised to appoint that advisory committee from the different Parties in the House giving equal representation to all Parties. The Farmers' Party has only a membership of two, but if they were to bring in the secretary to their federation she would make a third and I am sure would prove to be a great asset to the committee. When that committee was set up it could proceed to outline a scheme——
——for the setting up of suitable industries to absorb the unemployed. The Minister, however, should be free to lay down this stipulation that he would be given a free hand to find the money, and the money would amount to about——
That is the trouble.
It is the trouble, undoubtedly. The money which it would take to absorb the 105,000 and pay them £2 a week would be come-thing in the neighbourhood of £11,000,000 per year. Where is that money to come from? Would the people who would act on the committee and set out the suitable industries be prepared to go back to their supporters on all sides and ask them if they would be prepared, in addition to the amount of taxation they are paying at present, to make a voluntary contribution out of their assets or yearly income? If that suggestion were put forward, I think that some people who are criticising the industrial policy of the Government, and who talk so much about the great amount of unemployment, might not like to put their hands down in their own pockets and contribute £30, £40, £50 or £100, or whatever it might be, to relieve that situation. That is one of the things that the people have to bear in mind and that is one of the things that the people who talk about the way the unemployed have been neglected should face up to. I would be prepared to face up to that. We, on this side of the House, and our supporters have made very great sacrifices in the past without a murmur, even during the economic war, and to meet that situation I believe we would be equally prepared, if that were a solution for it, to make a similar sacrifice without any murmur. But to continue that is another matter.
The unemployed made many sacrifices during the economic war.
Undoubtedly. I know a lot about the unemployed. There is no Deputy who meets the unemployed and the average person in this country more often than I do. I have heard all that was said about poverty. I quite agree that in the towns there is a considerable amount of poverty, but in the country districts there is not very much poverty at all. I heard Deputy Hickey yesterday reading a letter which painted a very gloomy picture. I am sure I have got letters in a similar strain. But perhaps there was something more in the background. To say that any man is starving in the rural areas at present is very far from the truth. There is no such thing.
What about the reports of the medical officers?
Whatever the medical officers may report, I say that there has been more done for social services and for the people generally since the present Government came into office than the people ever expected they would see accomplished.
Yes, more than they ever expected!
That is not saying much.
I agree with that policy and I hope it will continue. It is very easy to parade poverty, to put up the plea of poverty, and for people to say that nothing is being done for them. Those people should be asked to try to do something for themselves. We hear a great deal about increasing unemployment allowances and all the rest of it. It would be very interesting to find out how some of the unemployment assistance that is being paid out is expended. It would be very interesting to go into the rural towns and find out which are the best-equipped houses in them. In a number of them you will find that the very best-equipped houses are the turf accountants' offices, and it is not mainly the wealthy who are keeping them going.
I know what I am talking about. There are people placing bets who will come to you the next day and tell you that they are in poverty and are starving. I am not at all afraid to talk my mind here, even though it may make me very unpopular amongst a certain section of the people. It is about time that somebody talked out on a matter of this kind. That is happening all over the country. There are, of course, people who are genuinely in need of assistance, but there are also people who get it that make very poor use of it. There should be a very great tightening up in that respect. The sooner we bring it home to people that they ought to set a little more value on the pence and the shillings and not spend so much time on "studying form," as many are doing, the better it will be for the country.
Have not you a means test?
How does that test come in when a man who gets this money, instead of spending it on himself and his family, spends it on making a bet? Ninety-nine times out of 100 he is not going to recoup himself. If we are going to get back to sanity in this country, one of the things I suggest would be the closing down of all the turf accountants' offices all over the countryside. This also might be very unpopular. But it is not the Irish race meetings which are beggaring a lot of the people; it is the English race meetings which are going on every day of the week from one end of the year to the other.
It is the "tips" in the Irish Press.
It might be possible that they are doing a certain amount of it. I should be pleased to see the Irish Press, the Irish Independent, and the other papers making the people understand what the proper use of money is and how they ought to expend it in a proper way, rather than having people coming along in a kind of mendicant fashion and saying, because somebody cannot hand them out a hatful of gold or silver, that they cannot get along. I find there is a good deal of that in the country and that they are more concerned with the “studying of form”—at least some people are, not all of them. I am only just referring to a section, but that section is there. They are more concerned with “studying form” than they are with trying to find some productive work of their own. As to the industrial policy of the Government in general, I know that there is not a town in the country that is not anxious to have an industry established. Political affiliations do not count in that matter. When an industry is being formally opened, I find that there are as many of the Opposition Party and the Labour Party who attend at the function and reply to toasts as there are of the Fianna Fáil Party.
We have as much right to be there as you have.
I do not want to make it a "closed borough." If this industrial policy is so damaging, and if the members of the Opposition have greater vision than the Minister and his officials, the time to nip it in the bud is when an industry is about to be started; that is the time to talk and say "It would be much better for this part of the country that no such industry should be started." Furthermore, they should boycott these functions and not be responding in a hypocritical manner to toasts that they do not believe in. A lot has been said about Irish manufactured goods. Irish manufactured goods, on the whole, are just as good and probably better and much more substantial than the goods imported from outside. A colleague of mine referred to the imports of bacon. I believe that the home-cured bacon is just as good. I have seen that put to the test on many occasions. There are such things as "meicheals" on the occasion of a threshing or something like that. Neighbours gather in, and many of them were accustomed to say that American bacon was much better for dressing the cabbage than the home product. I have tried them with both the home-cured and the American article and I know which remained on the plate when they were finished; it was the product of the foreigner. If we had more consumption of home products it would be better for the people. If unemployment is to be tackled, it will have to be tackled in some other way than criticising every industry that is started. Instead of paying lip-service, people will have to be prepared to say that they are willing to make the necessary sacrifice to give the 105,000 persons—if there is that number—who are unemployed a decent living.
I do not intend to make any reference to the speech to which we have just listened save this —that during my time as a member of Dáil Eireann a speech was put on record by another Fianna Fáil member which could not be described otherwise than the most disgraceful speech ever made in this House. On that occasion, Deputy Hugo Flinn made reference to an Irish funeral. My friend, Deputy Beegan, has gone down miles in my estimation as a result of the speech to which he has just treated us. I resent his reference to the unfortunate Irishmen, women, boys and girls who, after seven years of Fianna Fáil Government, find themselves to-day no further removed from the bread line than they were when they were listening to the rosy promises of 1932 and reading the glowing posters affixed to every dead wall and tree-trunk in the country. I am genuinely sorry for Deputy Beegan. I would expect a reference like that to come only from the gentleman who referred to the Irish funeral—Deputy Hugo Flinn. I shall pass from Deputy Beegan's speech. I hope it will be forgotten because he is a member of this House for whom I have always had a very high regard. I am afraid it will be very hard to get the people to accept the explanations Deputy Beegan will attempt to offer later on for the remarks he has made about the unemployed.
I want to avail of this occasion to make a few observations on the activities of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I have always tried to give to the Minister credit where I believed it was due. In 1933 this House passed an Act called the Unemployment Assistance Act, and the House and the country took it that that Act was intended to give only temporary relief until such time as the Government's permanent plan for the relief of unemployment could be implemented. While we all agree that the rates of assistance under that Act are absolutely inadequate, no words of mine could be strong enough to condemn the manner in which the Act is administered. Five years ago, when the Act came into operation, there was great confusion. In fact, it was admitted on all sides that the Department responsible had allowed the administration to get into a most chaotic state. I do not know if all the members of the House had as much reason as I had to know of the chaos that prevailed in the Department. One would expect that with practice the administration would have improved. Since then a certain amount of reorganisation was carried out in the way of the appointment of a Parliamentary Secretary and a new staff. We now have the Minister for Industry and Commerce dealing with a certain number of activities in his Department and the Parliamentary Secretary—a new officer—and his staff dealing with other activities. I understand that the administration of the Unemployment Insurance Acts and the Unemployment Assistance Act come within his domain. I am sorry the Parliamentary Secretary is not here. Perhaps he will read the Official Report. The delays which take place in respect of complaints made by unemployed people concerning their claims under the Unemployment Assistance Act seem to be unwarranted. There must be something radically wrong when complaints cannot be dealt with in one-tenth of the time that they at present occupy. It is regrettable that our appeals to the responsible Minister and Parliamentary Secretary seem to fall on deaf ears. They do not appear to take any serious action. From these benches hints have been given as to where the weakness might be found, but the weakness still exists. When Deputies communicate with the Department or make reports, concerning their unemployed constituents who are left without weekly assistance it takes seven or eight weeks to obtain a reply. Usually when one sends in a report he gets a stereotyped acknowledgment. One has then to wait for six or eight weeks before extracting a reply and the reply is generally a most unsatisfactory one. On occasions one does not even get an acknowledgment. When one gets a reply one has to make further inquiries to ascertain the cause of the additional punishment inflicted on an unfortunate family. I hope that during the coming year the Minister will take appropriate action to correct the chaotic state of affairs which seems to prevail in that section of his Department. I do not know if it is in order to refer to the rates of unemployment assistance.
They are fixed by statute and legislation would be required to effect any alteration in them. The Deputy cannot advocate legislation on an Estimate.
What I intended to refer to related to the means test. There does not seem to be any guiding principle by which one can measure the assessment made. Like other Deputies, I have had cases in which the circumstances were similar and I found that, in one case, there was an assessment of 5/- while, in another case, the assessment was nil. The facts were the same. I have made it a point to collect these cases and compare them and I have definitely come to the conclusion that the Minister's assistants who deal with that part of the administration, seem to have no such guiding principle as we might expect and as we know obtains in the Department of Local Government and Public Health who deal with the widows' and orphans' pensions and with the old age pensions. I would like to hear from the Minister, when replying, if he would tell us something about the formula or method employed in making calculations under this Act. I might say, in passing, in connection with old age pensions and widows' and orphans' pensions that representations are permissible. But there does not seem to be any door open at all in the Department of Industry and Commerce by which representations of a helpful kind could be made in connection with this matter.
Then there is the means test. The means test covers as a maximum a man, his wife and five children. I do not think I am out of order in raising this question. I cannot understand why a family in which there are eight or ten children should not be recognised as a State responsibility, particularly in this country, which is supposed to be directed under the principles of a Christian Constitution. I feel very strongly on this matter; I am only one of thousands who do so. The poor seem to have more children than anybody else, and it is very hard to see in the case of a family where there may be eight or ten or 12 children that only five of these children are recognised and only five can be provided for under the Unemployment Assistance Acts. The remainder are not recognised by the State or are not included in the family at all. Indeed it looks as if they were nobody's children.
That is the position under the law. The Minister has no responsibility beyond what he has in administering the Acts as they stand.
Except, of course, to amend the Act.
Yes, but a Deputy cannot advocate changing the law in a debate on the Estimates.
I hope, however, he will do something to change the law without delay.
The Deputy can put down a motion on that matter.
The Minister made a statement on the holidays question when introducing this Estimate yesterday. While I welcome the announcement that he will bring the Act into operation in May, I think there will be keen disappointment inasmuch as it will not be in operation for the Easter holidays. The people affected by it will be much disappointed. I suppose it is useless, at this particular stage, to appeal to the Minister to change the date so as to bring the Act into operation for the Easter holidays. It would be a very splendid gesture if the Minister would have the necessary orders made to give effect to the Act for the coming Easter holidays. On more than one occasion, by way of Parliamentary question, I have inquired of the Minister regarding legislation he promised over three years ago in relation to the Health Acts and hygiene in factories. It is a matter of which I am proud that the welfare of the workers is pretty well looked after in most of the old industries. In some of our new factories this legislation would have a very active time if brought into operation. I am one of many who are very anxious to see the promise of the Minister given effect to in this respect. I hope as a result of my remarks now it will not be necessary for me to put a motion on the Order Paper to get information about this matter.
In regard to the problem of unemployment, I do not want to indulge in any cheap gibes or anything of that kind. But I think it is not out of place to say that one does not feel sympathetic to the feeble efforts that have been made by Government Deputies in the debate on this Vote to defend the present position. These Deputies want conveniently to forget all the promises made, all the reams of paper that the printing presses turned out and the rosy pictures painted of what the present Government was to do in regard to unemployment. I am sure these Deputies now realise, as does anyone who gives serious thought to the problem, that unemployment cannot be solved until the Government find the courage that they professed to have before they came into office. It cannot be solved until they find the courage again to make up their minds to do something by way of adopting, for instance, the minority report of the Banking Commission. Every sensible person knows that until something like that is done this cancer is going to eat into our social system. In this country, though it is admitted we have an abundance of everything, yet there are 100,000 of our citizens on the hunger line. Deputies who try to defend that by saying it is due to the extra facilities given by the Government for registration purposes, have evidently forgotten the shiploads of emigrants who every week pass out of the country. The fact is that if only Uncle Sam would extend his generosity and open his ports to Irish emigrants they would be going in ship loads, by the thousands, to the United States.
I ask the House to regard this problem of unemployment as a national one. I agree that it should never be an issue of Party politics. Any of us who has any knowledge of the sufferings of our less fortunate fellow citizens should not be guilty of bringing this problem into the arena of Party politics. For that reason, I think that we should all try to agree— no matter who outside this House may dislike it—to come together and try to solve this question; the sooner we do that the better. There were a number of people on the Banking Commission who do not want that. There are plenty of pretended friends in the ranks of the Government to-day; these pretended friends will be in the ranks of the Government no matter what Party is in power. There will be plenty of these who want to see the unemployed there because they want them there.
The Deputy does not believe that.
I do believe it and I am sure Deputy Kelly believes it too.
I do not.
I must conclude by expressing the hope that the Government may, even at this late hour, face up to this problem. In my opinion— and many people to whom I have spoken are of the same opinion—that problem can only be tackled in an efficient way by adopting the minority report of the Banking Commission.
A Leas-Chinn Chomhairle, if there is one healthy sign about this particular Estimate, and the discussion on it, it is the speech of the Minister. Anyone who has studied the group of Estimates which is now before the House must come to the conclusion, despite the kind of talk we listened to from Deputy Beegan a while ago, that there is a very serious problem here. What made people hopeless, and made not only members of this House but people outside despair of this problem ever being tackled in a really serious way, was the attitude which the Minister himself adopted up to this year. I have listened to the Minister for Industry and Commerce for the last six or seven years introducing his Estimates. He got up in the House and he told us that things were considerably better than they had been the previous year; that everything was improving; that the difficulties about which the Opposition talked were not really there—that we only imagined they were there. He told us that there were more people going into employment in the country than ever before. He insisted on stating that, despite the fact that we had thousands emigrating, and more people registering as unemployed year after year. The Minister adopted an attitude which seemed to suggest: "It does not matter to me whether we add another 5,000, 10,000, 15,000 or 20,000 to the numbers of unemployed in the country. I am still going to insist that we are better off, and that there are fewer people unemployed."
This year there is a change—a welcome change. I do not know what is the reason for it; I do not know whether it is that things are so serious this year that even the Minister has been brought up against it. The Minister certainly adopted a certain line. In a speech here in Dublin the night before he prepared us for the line he was going to take on these Estimates. He admitted that there were difficulties, and very grave difficulties. He admitted that it was going to be a tremendous task, requiring all the intelligence and the energy not only of this House but of the country outside, to solve those problems. That is a healthy sign. Listening to Deputy Kelly and Deputy Beegan a while ago, I came to the conclusion that perhaps the Minister was not altogether to blame for the attitude he has been taking up here in this House for a number of years. If that is the sort of talk that goes on at the Fianna Fáil Party meetings, if that is the sort of report on conditions in the country that the Minister has been getting from the members of the Fianna Fáil Party, then we cannot be surprised that he has not a grip of the actual situation. Deputy Beegan talked as if, at the end of the week, all the unemployed in the country were rushing from the labour exchange with their few paltry shillings into the nearest bookie's office. Deputy Beegan has been a member of this House for a number of years. As far as I know, he is a fairly active member of the House, and looks after his duties fairly well. Deputy Beegan must know that the maximum amount paid to an unemployed worker by way of unemployment assistance, outside the cities and the large towns, whether he has five children or ten children, is 4/- a week. How much of that does Deputy Beegan think he can put into the bookie's office, or how often does he think he can go there? In the case of the single man, who has to prove to the satisfaction of the Department that he is without any means whatever, that he is destitute, how much does he get? He gets 6/-. Let us take the men who are even getting a few days' work in the week. Deputy Beegan knows—he ought to know anyway—something about the men in Galway who are on relief work, rotational work, for three days in the week if the days are fine. Those are the men who are going to the bookies' offices?
The Deputy also told us that in his opinion the figures issued by the Department were not at all correct. He said he did not believe we had anything like 105,000 unemployed in the country. Apparently what was puzzling him was what was puzzling all of us. He said to himself: "If 83,000 of our men and women have emigrated to Great Britain in four years, and if we have opened a number of new factories in the same period, and if—as some of the members tell us—agriculture is better off to-day than it was seven years ago, where, in God's name, are we getting 105,000 unemployed?" Deputy Beegan went on to tell us that he was saying this even though it might be unpopular; that he, for one, was not afraid to speak out his mind. I would remind the Deputy that it was not in that tone he spoke out his mind in 1932 about the unemployed. He took jolly good care that he was not going to make anything in the nature of an unpopular speech to the unemployed at that particular period. There was then no question of £11,000,000 being required to put the unemployed into work. The Deputy and his colleagues had a plan which was going to be put into operation. It was not going to increase taxation by £11,000,000, but was going to give employment not only to every unemployed man who was in the country, irrespective of the number that were unemployed, but was going to be so successful that we would have to send for the exiles. We were going to do all that and, at the same time, far from putting an additional burden of £11,000,000 on the taxpayers, we were going to reduce the then taxation by £2,000,000. That was the time for the Deputy to speak his mind. When the Deputy talks about members of this Party making themselves vocal about industries before industries are started in their particular towns, might I suggest to the Deputy that if he felt so deeply about the demoralisation of the unemployed queuing up outside the bookies' offices in the country he was in a much better position to make his voice heard over a far wider area when he was campaigning seven or eight months ago in the general election. That was the time he should have told them they were being demoralised, and how shameful it was that, as he said himself, they should be going begging for doles so that they could back horses running in England.
We had from Deputy Kelly another example of the sort of woolly thinking there is on the Opposite side. Deputy Kelly was contesting statements made from this side about the drift from the land—the drift from the rural areas into the towns. He did not seem to see anything very serious in the fact that they were going from the rural areas into the towns so long as they were not going out of the country. I do not think very many people will agree with him in that. He said if there was any truth in the statements made by the Opposition, then the position in the country would be serious. Is there any man in this House to-day —I do not care on which side of the House he sits—who is at all conversant with conditions in the country, who would dare to deny for one moment that the position in the country to-day is serious? I do not think there is one responsible man in the House who would deny it. Then, as I said, we had an example of the sort of woolly thinking that is going on on that side of the House when Deputy Kelly told us that the future of agriculture depends upon our industrial prosperity. Now, I suggest to him that he should have put it the other way about—that our industrial prosperity depends upon our agricultural prosperity; that unless agriculture is prosperous and is working properly, unless you have full agricultural production, and a decent return for the work of the people on the land, no industry however started, however subsidised, however tariffed, can live in this country. He talked about unemployment and he said that to solve the problem we must be able to see the full extent of the problem. Surely to goodness, there is no man, even on the Fianna Fáil benches, after the last seven years, who is unable to see the full extent of the unemployment problem in this country to-day?
There are many matters to be raised on this group of Estimates. I know it is the practice to discuss the whole group dealing with a particular Minister in the general discussion. I am rather sorry that that is the practice with regard to this particular group, because the Minister for Industry and Commerce is responsible for many and varied activities, some having practically no relation whatever to others. Whilst I said at the beginning that it was a healthy sign that apparently the Minister wakened up to the fact that there were very serious problems to be dealt with, I am afraid I cannot see any sign that he proposes to deal with them. Either in his speech or in the Estimates that are before us, the Minister did not give any message to this House or to the country that would hold out any hope whatever that the numbers of our unemployed would be less this day 12 months than they are to-day. One significant fact is that notwithstanding the very large numbers that are emigrating, notwithstanding all the industries, notwithstanding all the subsidies towards industries and towards agriculture, the numbers of those unemployed, wholly unemployed and partially unemployed, are far greater than they were even 12 months ago. There are two substantial sums that stand out in the Estimate for unemployment assistance. The first is a reduction of £35,000 in the amount provided for unemployment assistance and the other is an increase of £13,878 for salaries in the same service. The amount provided for the unemployed is reduced, as I say, by £35,000, which is a very substantial reduction. The staff is increased in numbers by 40 and the cost is increased by £13,878 These figures speak for themselves.
There is another figure to be considered. If the Minister were serious in his efforts to find work for the unemployed, if he were determined to try every road that might possibly lead to work for the unemployed, and to the development of our natural resources, we would not find the amount for mineral exploration reduced from £7,500 to £2,000, I do not know whether other Deputies are satisfied with the Minister's statement. I do not know whether Deputies are satisfied that you can continue as if there was nothing wrong in the country with 100,000 or 110,000 unemployed. I do not know whether Deputies are satisfied that this country, with its much-reduced income, can continue supporting, or rather helping to keep in existence, that number of unemployed. I do not want to be harping back on the promises that were made, but we have the right to ask this question: Did the Fianna Fáil Party, when they were looking for the confidence of the people of this country, when they promised definitely—not merely through the speeches of candidates at cross-roads, but by pronouncements of responsible members, by speech and by poster in the public Press—that they had a plan which could be put into operation to absorb all our unemployed, believe that then or were they being merely dishonest? I think we are entitled to ask that after seven years.
We are entitled to ask the Minister responsible for these Estimates to explain to the House and to the country what, in his opinion, is responsible for the fact that, notwithstanding the immense drain of emigration, there are to-day 106,000 unemployed signing the register. We have got no explanation from him as to why that is so. The only hope the Minister holds out to us is that, with the help of people from certain European countries, we may be able to start other industries in the coming year. So far as I am concerned, I am prepared to welcome any industry that will give employment in this country. I have always been prepared to do it. I am prepared, within reason, to support even an industry that has to be subsidised by the Irish people to a certain extent, so long as they are not fleeced, but, remember, the people of this country were asked to agree to high prices, high tariffs, quota orders, prohibition orders, and so on, on the grounds that they were making these sacrifices to provide work for the unfortunate unemployed. There is not very much point in telling us that so many men and women have been put into employment in industries if you are not reducing the number of unemployed. If you merely put 40,000 into work and another 40,000 out of work, that is not advancing very much. What we have got to look to is the net decrease or the net increase in employment in this country. We cannot see any net increase.
I am glad the Minister for Agriculture is here because, whether I am right or wrong, I believe, so far as making any serious impression on the numbers unemployed goes, it is to agriculture rather than to industry we will have to look. Until such time as agriculture is put in a position to absorb labour, by employing it and paying it, we will have a big unemployment problem. I am satisfied if we were able to establish industries, and to produce all our requirements, that that would not be sufficient to absorb all the unemployed. As the Minister for Industry and Commerce has come into the House, I simply ask him, whether he can offer, when replying, any explanation as to why there are still 106,000 people unemployed; whether he is in a position to say what hopes he has, towards a reduction of that number during the coming 12 months, and how he hopes they will be absorbed, and where. Very big sums of money are being set aside for the benefit of certain, what might be called, native industries. The Minister did not go into the matter in much detail by telling the House what return he hopes will be got by the expenditure of that money. I should like to hear the Minister's views on that. However, after eight years, it is something that we had a speech from the Minister in which he admitted for the first time that these problems were there, that they were big problems, that they were going to be difficult of solution, and that the intelligence and the resources of all sections would have to co-operate to solve them. That would be a step in the right direction, even though it comes after eight long years.
Deputy Kelly stated that the farmers had over £20,000,000 in the banks.
The trouble is that we are not concerned with people who have money in banks, but with the farmers who have no money.
Deputy Dillon prated here yesterday about the flour question, and stated that Messrs. Rank were making more profits since Fianna Fáil came into office than they made previously. The Deputy also alluded to flour mills in Cork in which Messrs. Rank were interested. That firm neither owns nor controls any flour mills in Cork.
Do they not control mills in Mallow?
I am making a statement of fact, and the Deputy can contradict it if he wishes.
So I am—Mallow.
Neither in Mallow, Clondullane nor Cork do Messrs. Rank own or control flour mills.
They may not have control.
Deputy Dillon also stated that these firms made more profit in one year now than they did during Deputy McGilligan's term of office as Minister. I wonder if any Deputy took the trouble to see what profit was made by foreign millers during Deputy McGilligan's term of office, and what was made within the last two years. For instance, the price of imported wheat in 1929 was 11/- per cwt. and the price of imported flour 17/4. That is a difference of 6/4 per cwt. In 1933 the price of imported wheat was 9/10 per cwt. and the price of imported flour 5/11, showing a difference of 3/6. Roughly, there was 3/- of extra profit for foreign millers in 1929 compared to the position now. Deputy Mulcahy had a good juggle with regard to flour and flour prices about a fortnight ago, but he should look at the difference in the price of wheat between 1929, 1930, 1931 and 1932 and the present time. It will rather surprise him. Much play was made with regard to a statement made by Deputy Maguire, about the flight from the land, in which he said that the people were not flying quick enough from certain portions of the land. Any Deputy who studies the position in different counties will find that in certain counties the average rateable valuation of holdings is under £5. I do not think any Deputy would urge that any individual could earn a livelihood out of a holding with a valuation under £5, not to speak of supporting a wife and family.
We have come to the point in certain counties, particularly along the western seaboard and in Kerry and portions of Leitrim, where land has been sub-divided until there is not a living for anyone on it, and if the owner rears a family the only outlet for them is to clear out. I remember meeting Deputy Bennett at an election meeting in Leitrim, and when I asked him what he thought of the land he said he would not take 1,000 acres and live there. Unfortunately, the position is that we cannot get the Land Commission, owing to the manoeuvres of the Party opposite when legislation was before the House, to be quick enough about dividing up the ranches in order to find an outlet for these unfortunate families. That is the difficulty. Coming to industry, I would draw a very wide distinction between industries established here that can be based on agriculture as the raw material, and industries for which we have to get raw materials abroad. I expect to be able to tell a nice story regarding raw materials at a later stage. I certainly say this, that in connection with the principal industries here that are founded upon agricultural produce as the raw material, farmers should not be expected to pay for inefficiency—for gross inefficiency. Farmers should not be expected to be beaten down in regard to the price of the raw material of beet, while you have factories managed inefficiently and incompetently. I will give an instance. We have foreign managers in the beet factories. They are imported managers.
There is no money in this Vote for beet or the beet sugar subsidy.
I agree, but when we are discussing generally the position in regard to industry, I think points of this description or instances that we can show definitely are a weakness can be exposed, and that this is the place to do it.
The Minister is not responsible for the administration of these factories.
We have to admit openly that a very strong statement was made, for instance, by the Minister for Finance, the other day as to protecting one class of the community, and that was people who have money invested in these Irish industries. We find that an Irish manager of an English beet factory can give me information, and is able to show that, with machinery 15 years old in his factory, he was able to extract 5 per cent. more out of the beet than the new beet factories, with new machinery and foreign managers. It is wrong that Irish farmers should be asked to take a reduced price for beet.
That means the Minister is responsible.
I am giving the facts as I know them. They are facts that can be borne out and proved.
But that is not the responsibility of the Minister.
It must be remembered that the greater portion or over 60 per cent. of the shares in the Irish Sugar Company are held by the State, and that that money is invested by the State.
Therefore, they should be under the control of the Minister.
I hold that where you have Irish managers managing the English factories in England, who are able to extract a minimum of 5 per cent. more out of the beet than the foreign managers of Irish factories here, there is something wrong, and I suggest that such an Irish manager should not be in an English factory, but should be here teaching the foreigners what to do.
Now we come to other factories whose raw material has to be imported. We are, unfortunately, in the position that many of those factories have their parent bodies in England, and I suggest that the profit is not made or shown in this country, but that it lies in the raw material, and that there is very little use in our putting up a factory here to produce an article, if we have to import that article partly made from the parent body in England. I had a rather amusing experience a few years ago when we endeavoured to get a corrugated iron factory started in Cobh. A Cork man who was interested in it went a long way to find out where he could get his raw material. He went to Belgium where he was told: "We are very sorry, but we cannot supply you because we are in a cartel and the trade of the Irish Free State has been handed over to a British steel combine.” We went a little further, to Czecho-Slovakia where we got the same yarn. We went to Germany and got the same story, and it was only when certain facts were brought to the notice of Herr Hitler himself that we succeeded in getting an option on black sheets in Germany.
What happened? A competitor for the licence to start this factory was a dummy for a British firm, and that dummy got the licence. As soon as he had got the licence, it so happened that another factory was being started at the time and the owner of that factory met him and said:—
"You will be very glad to hear, sir, that you need not import your black sheets from England. I will make them for you in Haulbowline."
The moment he found that, the licence, for which this gentleman had fought for two years, was thrown into the fire. It was of no further use. We found this amazing position, that the corrugated iron for which the Irish farmer had to pay £13 10s. per ton was sold in South Africa for £11, in India for £12 5s. and in Canada for £11 10s. In all probability, we are still paying through the nose to the British steel combine for what we require in the line of corrugated iron. Those are facts which cannot be contradicted by anybody. Unfortunately, what we have in the Department of Industry and Commerce is the outlook to which Deputy Dillon gives so much expression, that there can be nothing good in an Irishman. That is what is wrong with the Department. A Czecho-Slovakian, a German, an Indian, or an Englishman can walk over to the Department in the morning and get a licence for his factory, but when it comes to an Irishman doing it, he knows nothing at all about it. That is what is wrong and the sooner that attitude in the Department is changed, the sooner we will have more control here over Irish industry.
The Minister has a responsibility. The Deputy should address the Chair.
I am just criticising the Department concerned. These are the facts with which we are faced in connection with industry in this country. There is too much control of our industries by foreigners, too many foreigners coming in here and getting control of industry.
Deputy Morrissey spoke at some length on the position in regard to unemployment, the flight from the land and the increased taxation of £11,000,000. Every piece of legislation that would increase taxation—legislation to provide increased old age pensions, to provide widows' pensions, unemployment assistance, housing schemes—every one of these social services which were neglected and forgotten during the ten years Deputy Morrissey's Party was in power here was voted for by Deputy Morrissey and supported by him in speeches. What complaint has he because this Government sees fit to bring in social services that will alleviate the sufferings of the poor? With regard to the unemployment problem and the flight from the land, in particular, you are faced with the position that while you have farm labour at sixpence an hour, having to work on Sunday and on Monday, and while their brothers in the factories and in the towns have a 48-hour week, with a half-day on Saturday, so long will you have the flight from the land.
How much an hour has the farmer's son?
The amazing position that one sees is that where you have the majority of the small holdings, where you have very little labour employed, as we understand the term, that is the first area which has failed in regard to the production of beet— Galway and the West. The small farmers' sons to-day have no intention, thank God, of turning themselves into white slaves in order that somebody may fatten on their sweat. I am proud and glad that that position has at last arisen. You are face to face there with a very difficult problem and it is very hard to know how to cure it. You are not going to cure it by proceeding on Deputy Dillon's plan.
What about the Fianna Fáil plan?
It works all right. Deputy Hughes made a share of cash on his farm for the past few years, so far as that is concerned. He was not one of the victims of the economic war. That plan works all right, and he benefited by it. At any rate, you are brought face to face with this position——
I was not living on a pension anyway.
Neither the Deputy nor anybody else—nor did the Deputy do anything for this country to deserve a pension from anybody except from O'Duffy, and O'Duffy is gone.
You are brought face to face here with a problem that will have to be tackled by somebody and tackled earnestly. Deputy Morrissey talked here about the extra £13,800 in salaries. I have stated repeatedly in this House that this country cannot afford the Civil Service or the Civil Service system, that was taken over from Britain and clapped in here. The agricultural community cannot afford that overhead burden on them, and the sooner the Government and Deputies here realise that that system has got to go by the board, the better. You cannot carry on with a system where, for instance, you are faced with a situation such as a case I came across in Cork a few weeks ago, where a young man of 43 years of age retired, under Article X of the Treaty, with a pension of £450 a year for life. That is a very good pension for Deputy Hughes to pay—£450 a year for life. This country cannot afford that kind of game, and I say that, if we were able to abolish other Articles of the Treaty, that particular Article should go the same road. If you are going to try to solve that problem you will have to start with things like that, reduce your overhead charges, and try to form some basis on which to estimate what this agricultural country can afford to pay for these services, and you have got to cut your cloth according to that. Until you do that, you will have that same problem of three-fourths of the population here slaving in order that the other one-fourth may live in idleness and luxury. That is what is happening here. There is no doubt about that.
I am anxious and more than anxious to see industries established here and to see employment given here. I am prepared to make a fair sacrifice towards seeing that done, but I am not prepared to see this agricultural country paying for incompetency or inefficiency in industry or in anything else. If a farmer is incompetent or inefficient he very quickly finds his way to the wall, and there is no sympathy for him, and we are not going to stand for inefficiency or incompetency in regard to industry in this country, and the sooner that is realised by everybody the better. There seems to be some kind of an idea in this country that certain individuals in it are entitled to something to which other people are not entitled. Deputy Kelly alluded here to the £23,000,000 of farmers' money in the banks. I wonder was that ever investigated?
I have met a lot of farmers in my time and, God knows, I have travelled a lot among them from my childhood up, but I never found a farmer having any association with those millions Deputy Kelly spoke about.
If there are farmers with those millions, God knows I should like to meet them. As a matter of fact, I think that if Deputy Kelly could find one of them he should be put in a museum because I never heard of a farmer yet that had association with any of those millions. If the Deputy would tell us the plan by which a farmer was able to make that, it would be worth listening to.
Not even under the Fianna Fáil régime?
Nor under the Fine Gael régime, nor even under the Cumann na nGaedheal régime, because if we go back to the famous statement made by Deputy Cosgrave in 1931, when a deputation of farmers went to him asking him what he was going to do about the plight of the farmers, we find the Deputy said that it was a dying industry and that there was no use in anybody trying to revive it. That was Deputy Cosgrave's opinion of the agricultural industry in 1931, and that was given with all the solemnity that attached at that time to the President of the Executive Council. He said that it was a dying industry. Well, the dying industry is still living, and apparently we were able to revive it sufficiently to put eight years of life into it at any rate.
You had a good try at killing it.
Deputy Cosgrave said that it was dying, but it is still alive after eight years. I came across that statement last week and cut it out, and I hope to produce it next week or whenever Deputy Cosgrave is in a humour to hear it.
He will be well able to answer you next week.
Well, I hope so, and I shall be delighted to hear his explanation. I am sure it will be very interesting. I do not want to take up the time of the House further, Sir, but I think that the things I have referred to are matters that should be investigated and I am particularly anxious to hear the Minister's reply.
Deputy Corry, I think, has made a very convincing point as to the inability of a man on a £5 valuation to eke out even an existence in this country, not to mind make a living. I think there are very few Deputies in the House, of any shade or colour, who will challenge Deputy Corry's statement, but I am not so sanguine that he has convinced the Minister on that point because, at the time Deputy Corry was making that statement, the Minister and his Department are indicating their knowledge and confidence of the ability of a man on a £4 valuation to stand on his own feet without any State aid and are making him the victim again of the Employment Period Orders. Since the passing of the Unemployment Assistance Act, which was intended to give relief to people during periods of unemployment, pending the time when the Government would be able to provide employment for all people who are willing, able and anxious to work, that Act, in my opinion, has been scandalously violated year after year by the application of these Period Orders; and the first section of the community to feel the brunt each year of these economies are the people of whom Deputy Corry spoke so volubly this evening. The man of the £4 valuation is being completely robbed of the benefits of the legislation provided for him by this House, from the end of March or April till the end of October, and he is told that this vast holding of his will call for all his attention during those months and that he would be well and remuneratively employed in looking after that vast holding of £4 valuation which, as Deputy Corry tells us, is utterly incapable of providing him with a livelihood—and we all say "hear, hear" to Deputy Corry's statement.
Year after year, appeals have been made here to the Minister to reconsider the application of those Period Orders and to consider the hardship they entail, but, so far, those appeals have fallen on ground as stony as the plots these people are trying to till. The people who have not the £4 valuation are also denied the benefits of the legislation provided for them by the solemn promise of the Government who came in and stated that they were going to take up the responsibilities hitherto denied by the previous Government, and were going to be responsible for the employment of men and that, during periods of unemployment, they would be responsible for their maintenance as a State charge. How that promise has been carried out, in the face of these Period Orders, calls for no comment. Probably, from 40,000 to 50,000 men will be robbed of the benefits of the Unemployment Assistance Act for the period from June to October, inclusive of the people who are being robbed of these benefits from the end of March or April to October. The Minister has machinery at his disposal, and if he were to take sufficient trouble to ascertain whether or not these men had in actual fact, succeeded in securing employment which would render the payment of this benefit unnecessary, nobody would cavil at the decision, but since the setting-up or putting into operation of these Employment Period Orders we have failed to trace any attempt by the Department or by the Minister to ascertain how many people actually had gone to employment. All we know is that a certain number of men are transferred from the unemployed end to the employed end of the register in so far as they have ceased signing their names at the employment exchanges. There is one touch with a magic wand, and automatically we are supposed to be quite happy and all our people usefully employed. Anybody who has contact with the workers knows definitely that they do not get employment. Vast numbers of workmen do not get a chance of earning a shilling in between.
This has proved to be one of the most fruitful sources of driving our people to emigrate to Britain. Whatever chance they had of keeping body and soul together with the few shillings a week that were given to them when that was taken away from them the last shred of hope was removed, and they had nothing left but to turn to Britain and seek some employment there. We have heard many complaints, no doubt justified, about losing the flower of our manhood and womanhood, thousands of the youth of our country having to leave our shores to seek employment elsewhere. The attempts made by the Government to find employment for our people, and so render unnecessary the payment of unemployment assistance, the attempts made to put our people into employment and thereby apply the real wealth of the country to useful and fruitful production, have been a miserable failure. Anyway, the attempts have been made and the results are there in the Minister's Department in the records of the many thousands out of employment at various periods. When the figures decrease I suggest that the decrease is brought about by artificial, fictitious methods. The unemployment problem remains static and no impression has been made upon it by any of the plans applied by the Government.
The local bodies have been charged to the extent of ? in the £, and that was increased to ? in order to co-operate with the Central Funds in helping to maintain the able-bodied unemployed. They contributed a very considerable amount and got a very poor response. Even when the assistance is being paid, apart from the time when the Period Orders are operating, the home help funds have frequently been called upon to co-operate with the amounts paid in order to maintain the recipients. If a bargain was made and if the Central Funds were to be relieved by the local contribution, that bargain surely ought to have been maintained. We contend that the amounts payable are too small. Not alone are they too small, but the methods adopted in connection with them could be improved. If the same ingenuity were to be employed in procuring employment for our people as is displayed in trying to deprive them of their benefits, then everybody would be happy. The local authorities have reason to complain of the inadequacy of the assistance given to the unemployed and of the constant drain made on the home assistance funds to supplement the assistance given in order to keep body and soul together.
In the rural areas, where the application of the Period Orders bears hardest, the contributions are not being made. In that respect I have tried, time and again, to draw the Minister's attention to a glaring anomaly in connection with the Period Orders. When the Order operates from a particular date, all men without dependents, outside the urbanised areas, automatically cease to become beneficiaries under the Act and they are expected to procure employment in the so-called prosperous agricultural industry. The farmers are supposed to have plenty of work for them. The point is that there is no discrimination as regards the men unemployed and resident in the immediate purlieus of the cities and towns. Many of these men are craftsmen, but they are put into the same category as the agricultural labourers and they are told to go to the farmers to seek employment which is not really there, even for the honest-to-goodness farm labourers.
If the Minister would only give this matter his serious consideration, I am sure the equity of the situation would appeal to him. He would see the injustice of asking unemployed tailors, railwaymen, carpenters, joiners, and all kinds of people of that sort, to seek employment in the farmers' fields during the period when they are supposed to be busy there, from June to October. Whether the farmers are busy or not, these unfortunate men are struck off the books in the labour exchanges. That situation could not be defended with any show of equity. I trust the Minister will look carefully into that point so that the men from the areas adjacent to the cities and towns who have no earthly hope, no matter how busy the farmers are, of getting employment, because they are really foreign to agricultural work, will get more consideration than they are getting. These men have no hope of getting employment with the farmers and, even if there was justification for saying that there is plenty of agricultural work—a thing which I deny—there can be no justification suggested, in the case of ordinary craftsmen, city workers, for putting them into the same category as agricultural workers.
Practically all departments under the Minister's control have been covered in the course of the long discussion that has taken place, and I have no desire to go over ground already adequately traversed. I want, however, to make a brief reference to the lack of supervision in connection with the operation of the Conditions of Employment Acts. The two Acts that were passed, together with the Holidays Act which will be soon operative, entailed a good deal of time and thought on the part of the House when they were being made law. Surely, when they were being enacted, it was not the intention that they would become a dead letter? I think it will have to be conceded that since they have been made operative the attempts that have been made to have them properly carried out have been negligible, almost to the point of being non-existent. There were certain hours of labour set down and certain conditions to be applied under those Acts, but I suggest they are not being observed. We find that the big employers in the cities and towns who have heavy responsibilities are held up, when occasion demands, by well-organised workers who are well able to defend themselves. In that way they get a certain amount of supervision.
But the small employers get clean away from the Conditions of Employment Acts. Even in the commercial houses, where the second portion of the Act has been brought into operation, no attempt has been made by the inspectors to have it properly carried out in the manner intended by the House. I suggest that is a cause of friction on the part of the employers who are carrying out their responsibilities. They find themselves badly handicapped by the other people undercutting them in contracts in regard to the building of houses and various other things. There are cases where the workers are allowed to work all through the day and even into the night; there is no respect for the holiday conditions and very little respect for the wage conditions. Whatever increase it may mean in the number of inspectors, I think it is essential that additional men should be appointed if the law of the country is not going to be made a laughingstock because of lack of supervision.
Some speakers have referred to the question of reciprocity in connection with insurance. I should like to develop that because it is a matter of great importance. The year 1939 ought to mark the termination of the anomaly that exists. We find many of our workers who crossed to Britain paying contributions under the Insurance Act there and they are entitled to draw benefit in respect of their wives and families in Ireland. When they come back here there is no regard whatever for the contributions they have paid over there. If they pay their insurance contributions in England and if the occasion arises subsequently, surely they are entitled to draw benefit in respect of their wives and families in this country? The responsibility is on the Minister to try to secure from the British Government the reciprocity that is long overdue in regard to the operation of the Insurance Acts. In Northern Ireland the Government have been rather obdurate in this matter for many years, but they ought not to count for very much as this is really a question between the British Government and our Government. If the British Government see their way to acknowledge the need for reciprocity, the recognition of it in Northern Ireland will have to be automatic. They are not recognised at Geneva on a separate basis, and it is really a matter between the Government of Eire and the Government of Great Britain. This matter has been frequently brought to the Minister's attention and he is fully aware of the hardships caused through this lack of reciprocity. I ask him to make a final effort in order to secure the co-operation of the British Government and wipe out this anomaly, which has too long existed.
I just want to say a few words on matters which I have brought to the notice of the Minister. One is in connection with the woollen industry in the districts around Cork City where it is situated and where it has been for a number of years. I speak of Blarney, Douglas and Dripsey. There was another factory in Sallybrook, but that has now been closed down and no effort has been made to resurrect the industry there. The woollen industry in the places I have mentioned is in a very parlous condition and I am told that that is partly due to the fact that the Trade Agreement that was made with Britain some time early last year had a very unsteadying effect on the industry, but I am also told, and I hope the Minister will give his attention to this side of the question, that the ready-made firms, who did in some manner deal with the woollen manufacturers, have got a licence to import extra stuff. I suggest to the Minister that the ready-made firms should be compelled to take a portion of their needs from the woollen manufacturers, either the stuff they actually look for or a substitution for other cloths. In that way it would help this woollen industry, which is the staple industry in the places I have mentioned and which, if allowed to lapse, will cause serious unemployment in those areas.
The woollen manufacturers in this country, I understand, control only about 40 per cent. of the market. Sixty per cent. of the market is held in the hands of the manufacturers across in Britain and they have made a claim for portion of the market which is in the hands of the Irish industrialists. Instead of giving them any portion of that market, I think it is only reasonable to suggest to the Minister that more of the Irish market should be reserved for the woollen manufacturer in this country. I am particularly interested in this because in Blarney, Douglas and Dripsey the industry is an old-established one. It is one which has competed very successfully during years gone by but, with the present mechanised system in Britain and the rationalisation of industry there, their chances of competing successfully would not be very hopeful. I think the Minister could very well apply himself to the preservation of the woollen industry in those places.
I would also like to refer the Minister to another matter which I raised here previously. That is with reference to the workers, some of them unemployed who, under the Cork Corporation housing scheme, are brought just outside the city boundary. It does not in any way change their location, as far as their way of living or their shopping centres is concerned, but owing to the regulations of the Department of Industry and Commerce, if they are unemployed, they come immediately under the unemployment assistance rate for the county. I think that is a great hardship on the people who are compelled, willy-nilly, by the corporation to vacate insanitary houses which are being demolished, and because it happens that the only available land for building purposes lies outside the city boundary, those unemployed people, many of them with large families, are compelled to fall back on the rural rate. I am sure if the Minister looked into the matter it should be possible to assist those people through the ordinary city rate which they have been receiving. As I say, they have not changed their way of living. They have not changed their location as part of the city because they are still city workers, those of them who are at work. There was a concession given by the Department that they would be allowed to work on city schemes, but when they are on unemployment assistance, and many of them are, they suffer the hardship that through getting better and more hygienic accommodation, they have not so much money to provide for the necessities of life. The unemployment numbers in Cork City have gone up by, I think, 17 per cent. I mentioned these matters to the Minister. I have already discussed them with him by questions here in the House and I would like to draw his attention to those two points.
I will not keep the Minister long but I would like to draw his attention to the high cost of everything the farmers have to buy. Take even the bolts. A small farmer lately went into the local town to get ordinary bolts for his donkey's cart. That man used to be able to buy those bolts at 4/- or 5/-. It cost him 18/- to get the bolts to-day. We hear a lot of talk about the flight from the land. One of the reasons for the flight from the land is the rise in the cost of living of the farmers. Take the ordinary slash-hook. A few years ago a farmer could buy a slash-hook for 3/6 or 4/-. It is 10/- now, and it is no good. If you cut a good hedge with it, it is gone. Whatever way they make them, they break between the iron and the blade. Take the ordinary fork. If a strong man lifted a good forkful of hay in the hayfield in the summer time, one of the prongs would break. Those are the things that are causing the flight from the land and raising the cost of living on the farmers. Deputy Corry stated another instance—the corrugated iron. It is 2/- or 3/- a cwt. more than it costs say in other places. Take the ordinary sock for a plough. I bought a Ransome plough 15 or 16 years ago. I could not afford to buy an Irish plough. I have to go to Dublin to get a sock to fit that plough, made by Pierce or some other firm, but I found by experience that even though I get a sock made by Ransome and pay the tariff, one of those will wear two or three of the Pierce socks. Not very long ago, I had to buy two ordinary socks for my plough, six bolts and a tail-cutter, and the bolts for the whole lot of those. It cost me 16/8 for the two socks, a point for a sock, a skimmer and the tail-bar. I remember buying those things five years ago for 4/- or 5/-. That is the cause of the flight from the land. The farmers cannot carry on with those high costs prevailing, and the Minister should look into those things. If we have factories, let them make the stuff in such a way that people can buy it, and let it be good stuff.
There is another matter to which I would like to draw the Minister's attention. I was not here yesterday for the Minister's opening speech, but I read in the paper that he mentioned that there were factories coming from the continent to Ireland. I had the privilege of being on a deputation about a fortnight ago to the Minister asking for a factory for Mullingar. I cannot see why Mullingar is left out. Athlone and every neighbouring town in the Midlands have a factory and if the Mullingar people are willing to put up the money, they should get the factory. I think there is some boycott on the town of Mullingar. I do not know whether it was on account of the big baton charge there during the economic war. I am beginning to think that must be the cause. I think those things should be forgotten. If the farmers did make a fight at that time, it should be forgotten now. They tried to fight for their rights and to be left in their homes. I would ask the Minister not to forget Mullingar if there is any factory coming. We do not want a dud factory. We want a good sound factory in Mullingar. The people in the county are willing to put up the money for it. I would ask the Minister, if there is a factory coming, to send it to Mullingar. It is the centre of Ireland and should have the best factory in Ireland.
I want to say a few words about this vote, although I think the ground is pretty well covered. The last speaker pointed out to the Minister that the reason why there is so much criticism of Irish manufactures is that they are charging too much and, in some cases, not in all cases, not providing the right material. There are very few people in the country who do not wish to see this the most industrial country in the world. We would all like to see industry prospering, but you cannot turn a country's industrial method upside down in a night. Industries cannot be forced by Government policy. You cannot change the manufacturing outlook and the manufacturing history of a country inside a few years by Government policy. It is ridiculous to think you can. To attempt that upsets everything. It destroys the economic balance, and has destroyed it in this country. It has put some thousands of people into employment, but it has driven twice as many thousands out of our principal industry, agriculture. Not only has it driven them out of employment, but the proportion of those who remain in agriculture are people who are past the age of usefulness, or people who are a burden on their neighbours, drawing money from the State in one form or another. That is the fruit of this rushing policy of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. There is nothing wrong with the policy, but there is everything wrong with the method by which it has been pursued. The Minister's enthusiasm is misdirected. In fact, he has misdirected the whole industry of the country.
We all admire the Minister's enthusiasm to make this an industrial State, but the fault is that he moved too fast, so that, instead of having the desired effect, it has had the effect of driving the people off the land. That is the most serious thing that could happen to a country. It is no use for the Minister to say that those who talk about that are talking blithering nonsense. I say that they are people who talk more sense than the Minister has ever done. That talk has come from certain quarters where one could not expect anything but truth and honour. The Bishops have spoken out in their Lenten Pastorals about the conditions that prevail in this country. The Minister has certainly more responsibility than any other body in this State for bringing about those conditions, because his tariff policy has put the cost of living so high for those on the land that, as other speakers have pointed out, they are not able to carry on, and certainly have not been able to make a profit out of their calling. Naturally, when two standards of living are set up in a small State there is nothing wrong in people flying from one to the other, so that they may be able to enjoy the privileges shared by the class with the higher standard of living.
There is one standard of living for industry, as it is called in this country, and another standard of living for agriculture, just as if agriculture was not an industry at all. One would imagine that it was some sort of a hobby that was a burden on the nation, but the Minister and others are now getting their eyes open to the effects of this policy. It has already been pointed out that there is no opposition to industrial development in this country. We all want to see industry developed, but we want to see it developed on sound lines: on lines that, while one industry is pushed to the front, a greater industry is not destroyed.
Deputy Moore talked about the alcohol factories, and said that we must have further experiments. The experiments of the last five or six years were not enough, it appears, for Deputy Moore. He wants to continue experimenting even though the State is in its last throes. It is time to stop this experimenting and get back to what we know is sound, to an industry that we know can keep this country and has kept it so long; an industry that has provided people for all other industries, for the professions, as well as to maintain the population of the towns. If you drive the people from that industry out of the country you destroy the very source of the country's population, the source from which people may be migrated for employment in those other industries. All experience shows that it is from the land people must come to keep up the population of the towns. If you drive the people off the land in one generation you cannot fall back on it in future generations to replenish a diminished population in the towns.
The Minister's industrial policy has been entirely too fast. He recognises that now himself. The lectures that he has been giving to those whom he started in industry show that he has learned that lesson. We have evidence of it also in the fact that he has put the Prices Commission in control. That shows that there is something wrong in his industrial policy. If the industrial policy was right we would not want any Prices Commission. Prices would regulate themselves automatically if the Minister would lower his tariffs and keep them at a proper level. When we had a proper system for examining applications for tariffs and for the imposition of tariffs—I refer to the old Tariff Commission, which proved very useful to the country—the Minister abolished it and set up another commission, a Prices Commission. The old Tariff Commission was one of the most useful bodies we ever had. It kept tariffs at the right level and regulated industry in a natural and proper way.
The present high tariffs are not bringing about prosperity even for those in the protected industries. We have at the present time industries started only a few years ago and they are now on the down grade. They are moving downhill as well as agriculture. I believe that some of those engaged in the boot industry are coming down. That is but natural and is bound to happen even to a greater extent in the future for the simple reason that the Minister's high tariffs of 75 per cent. and, in some cases, 100 per cent. induced people to come out and enter industry, people who knew nothing about industrial processes and who had no qualifications in the way of training or experience. They were encouraged to go into industry in the belief that they could make big profits under these high tariffs. But the people who put money into those industries forgot that others more efficient than they would be induced to come along. The more efficient did come along, with the result that the inefficient people will go out, and that millions of Irish money will be lost and a great deal of unemployment and difficulty will be created in the case of some of these factories that were induced to start by the attraction of over-high tariffs. That is the danger of high tariffs. You will have more bankruptcies because of high tariffs than you would have without them— much more. I think it was Deputy Kelly who advised the Minister to go round these factories and, where they are beginning to go downhill, direct them as to what they are to do in order to go right. The Minister is responsible, by his high tariffs, for bringing about this condition in many factories and there will be many cases of it in future. If there are inefficient industries, the Minister cannot very well keep out the efficient industries. This country wants the most efficient industries that can be found, industries that will be able to sell their products at the lowest price. If these people come along, the Minister cannot refuse them a licence, and if they are given a licence, they are going to drive out the inefficient factories and the money put into them will be lost. From whatever point of view you look at it, it is a serious mistake to encourage people to go into industry in the hope that they are going to be protected by tariffs which it is impossible to maintain in this country for the simple reason that the people will not be able to pay the prices.
Deputy Corry referred to Deputy Dillon's speech dealing with the profits made by Messrs. Rank Ltd. He says that Messrs. Rank are not getting as much profit now as they did in the time of the previous Minister for Industry and Commerce. But we find that the sum Messrs. Rank and the other millers are getting out of the consumers of this country, over and above a fair price, is £2,007,000 per year. What service are they giving for that sum? They are keeping in stock 50,000 tons extra—I think that is what it is. That is one of the services. Deputy Hughes dealt with that point yesterday. But there is a more important point, and Deputy Mulcahy pointed out that that is only a flea bite as compared with the way people are being fleeced. That £2,000,000 odd is only made up to a small extent out of the extra shilling. But what about the 15/- per sack difference between the price of flour here and the price outside Ireland? Why are the millers getting that? What services are they giving for that beyond the 50,000 tons they are keeping in stock? The only service they are giving is to pay the difference between the world price of wheat and the guaranteed price. I do not know exactly what the world price of wheat is at present, but we do know that the consumers of the country are paying £2,000,000 odd extra, and the only service the millers are giving is that they are keeping this 50,000 tons in stock and paying the guaranteed price to the producers of wheat.
For the year 1937—and I believe that was a record year for the production of wheat in this country—the amount of wheat grown was 3,200,000 cwts. Certainly the difference between the world price of wheat and the price paid for that 3,200,000 cwts. would not come to one-fourth of this £2,000,000 odd. Why have the millers the right to pocket this money? It appears that the Minister has given his sanction to the price they are charging, as he is allowing them 1/- extra for keeping this extra supply in stock. I should like to know from the Minister how he came to fix the proper price for the millers to charge for that flour so that he could add on another 1/- or take off 1/-. How has this price been fixed? Has the Minister fixed the price of flour for the millers, or have they fixed it themselves and put it to the Minister and got his sanction? I do not know in what way it has come about. Has the Prices Commission fixed the price? I cannot understand how there is such a difference between the price of flour in this country and the price outside this country.
I know the Minister will say that it is all nonsense, and that there is no such thing. But facts and figures are facts and figures, and the Minister cannot wipe them away by denying them. The facts and figures are there. They have been put up by different Deputies. If the Minister refers to the prices quoted in the different business journals or papers, he will find that there is no use in trying to deny them. I hope the Minister will explain how the price of flour is fixed, who fixed it, whether the millers fixed it themselves, and, if so, why he consented to it. Did the Prices Commission examine it or agree that it is right? There is certainly something wrong. Even some of the Minister's own supporters admit that there is something wrong in the way these things have been conducted.
Deputy Keyes referred to the payment of unemployment assistance. That works out very inequitably as between different people. Take the case of two families living on small holdings in the same district. In one family there may be four or five grown-up sons of a small farmer drawing unemployment assistance. The other small farmer may have four or five, or even six or seven, children going to school, or, at any rate, who have not reached the age at which they could earn money. They get no unemployment assistance, and the man himself does not get any. He has to provide for six or seven dependents out of a small uneconomic holding all the year round. Each of the other man's sons is getting unemployment assistance. But the man who has an equal number of dependents who are unable to earn gets no unemployment assistance. I think the Minister should examine these cases, because, so long as it is the misfortune of this country to be paying unemployment assistance, the people who are most deserving should get it.
The Deputy should not go any further on that, because that is advocating a change in the law. The law is as it stands, and the Minister can only administer the law as it stands. What the Deputy is advocating would require a change in the law.
I am not advocating that he should change the law.
I am afraid the Deputy is, at least, by implication.
The Minister has power to do it without changing the law. By means of administration he can correct this. I know cases where it has been corrected.
The Deputy must not accept that as true. The Minister has no power to do anything outside the law as it stands. The law is as it stands, and the Deputy may only discuss the administration of the law as it stands. He cannot advocate even a change in that law in a debate on an Estimate. He can do it by putting down a motion, if he so desires.
I think it is unnecessary to amend the law to deal with these cases. I know of one case at least where a more generous administration of the Act met the difficulty. I know that there are hundreds of similar cases. The law should be administered more generously with regard to individuals of the class I refer to who are the fathers of families and whose families are not grown up. In this way, the Unemployment Assistance Act would be a great benefit. In other directions, it is doing great harm —in cases where it induces three or four people to remain on when they could find employment. I think that this is a very important point of view and the persons with the greatest number of dependents should be considered in preference to the others. I hope the Minister will deal with this matter when he comes to reply and that he will deal with the price of flour also but not in the way he has dealt with it on other occasions—by trying to deny that such a difference exists. There is no use in trying to run away from these things. He should explain to the House why these prices should be fixed or, if he has given his consent to this enormous burden being imposed upon the people who are already overburdened because of other forms of taxation, he should explain why he has done so in respect of this necessary of life.
The Minister for Industry and Commerce is responsible for a number of activities and, in consequence, the debate upon the Estimate has covered a very wide field. It would not be possible for me to deal, even in a summary way, with all the points raised by Deputies and I do not propose to try. When introducing the Estimate, I gave an outline of the main administrative activities of the Department during the past year. The Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Cosgrave, criticised me for doing so and urged that, instead, I should have devoted my remarks to matters of major policy. On another occasion, when I introduced my Estimate with a statement dealing with matters of major policy, I was criticised by Deputy Cosgrave and other members of his Party for doing so and accused of endeavouring to avoid discussions upon detailed matters of administration. It is clearly impossible to please everybody and, in selecting points raised in this debate for the purpose of reply, I am quite sure I shall not please everybody. Many of the matters referred to by Deputies are of local importance only and could be more usefully discussed in another way on another occasion. Reference was, however, made to some matters of major policy.
Most of those who spoke in the debate discussed unemployment. Many of the references were very perfunctory and were, obviously, made merely for the purpose of enabling Deputies to say that they had referred to the subject here without, in fact, having very much to say about it. I dislike accusing Deputies of lack of sincerity but many of the speeches made here upon the subject of unemployment seemed to me to lack sincerity. I am not accusing the Deputies who made these speeches of conscious hypocrisy but I do accuse them of having spoken without having given any serious thought to the subject in advance. I accuse them of grossly exaggerating the position and I accuse them that, even in their exaggerations, they did not attempt to follow their contentions to their logical conclusions. I have a dual function to perform now in relation to this problem of unemployment. I want to try to dispose of the exaggerations while, at the same time, bringing clearly to the notice of Deputies and of the public the gravity of the problem. It is necessary that we should not exaggerate it. If we are going to organise our attack upon the problem, to plan our efforts to that end properly, we must know clearly where we stand. Exaggerations will not help. On the contrary, they may well be harmful in so far as they may convince people that it is impossible to succeed and deter them from contemplating the sacrifices necessary for success.
It is, undoubtedly, correct that we have a grave unemployment problem here. The gravity of that problem is not due to the fact that it has increased in recent years. It has not increased. The gravity of the problem consists in the fact that it has persisted through these years despite the many efforts made to reduce it, despite the large schemes of public works undertaken, despite the widespread housing programme put into operation, despite the success of our industrial policy in providing new sources of employment. The efforts made by the Government to minimise and reduce unemployment, to abolish it, if possible, during the past four or five years were of considerable magnitude but, despite these efforts, the problem is there. It has persisted through these years even though we have called upon the resources of the country to a great extent, even though we have increased taxation, for the purpose of getting funds to deal with unemployment, to an extent that has called forth the indignant protest of Deputies opposite, even though we have acted so drastically, in endeavouring to bring about an economic change, that would improve the position, that we have been severely criticised. Nevertheless, unemployment has persisted. That fact is not an indication that the Government's industrial policy has failed. A policy that has produced new employment for almost 60,000 persons cannot be said to have failed and, in the new industries created here since 1931, there are employed to-day 60,000 persons who would not be employed if these industries were not there or if the Government's industrial policy had not been tried. To that extent, in the absence of these industries, our unemployment position would be a lot worse.
I was amused by the efforts of some Deputies on the benches opposite to explain what they were pleased to call the failure of the Government's industrial policy. They did not attempt to make their explanation concrete by reference to particular facts or particular things. But, nevertheless, they all used that word in one sense or another. Deputy Giles was typical of the others. I am not picking out Deputy Giles because his speech was more intelligent than some of his colleagues but it was more typical. He said the Government went too fast. That is the catch-cry of his Party; it was his attempt to prove the orthodoxy of his views to his leaders. But, immediately the Deputy said that the Government tried to go too fast, he proceeded to speak about the situation in his own constituency of Meath-Westmeath, and there he urged that the Government had not done nearly enough. He is familiar with the position in Meath and in the adjoining county. The Deputy deplored the fact that we had not gone fast enough in starting a factory in Mullingar and that we had failed to start another outside Navan.
I complained that the Government did not fulfil their promises.
The Deputy made it quite clear. Having said that the Government's industrial policy was pushed too fast, he followed it up by saying something which shows that he believes that to be untrue. Every other Deputy in that Party opposite is in precisely the same position. They have allowed themselves to be talked by Deputy Dillon into the acceptance of a policy which none of them believes in. Every member of that Party is prepared to accept the position that if we are to solve unemployment and open up new avenues of employment for our idle people, it will be mainly through an extension of industrial activities. I have heard Deputies opposite say that in precisely the same words. But when they come here and fall under the spell of one or two leaders here, they always recant these views in which they believe, for the purpose of showing a formal acceptance of the outworn policy which happens to be the principal item in their Party's programme. The fact is, however, that we have not gone nearly fast enough; that because of the difficulties which were considerable, and over some of which we had no control, our efforts to promote new industrialisation have not been wholly successful. We have not been able to get the results we contemplated when we started. However, we can point to the fact that industrial employment here has increased since 1931 by over 60,000 persons. Now that increase by itself would not have been sufficient to have abolished the unemployment problem, as we knew it to exist in 1932. In the course of a discussion of this kind statistics are used with great liberality——
Will the Minister say what the 60,000 he has talked about are, if they are not statistics?
They are statistics. I cannot get the point of the Deputy's interruption. It may be clear to others, but, unfortunately, I cannot grasp it. I said that in discussions of this kind statistics are used with great liberality, and that statistics are of great value when properly understood and properly used; yet they are a source of grievous danger to Deputies opposite when they are either misunderstood or misused. Every variation of the statistical trend relating to unemployment is capable of more than one explanation. Perhaps Deputies opposite have the right explanation. Perhaps they have not. But we do know there were so many differences as between the manner of compiling statistics in 1932 and 1938 that a comparison between the figures now available and those available eight years ago has no value whatsoever. One must compare like with like. In this country we have a live register which is not in any sense a register of unemployed persons, though Deputies opposite refer to it as such. On the live register here there are many people who are not unemployed in the obvious meaning of the term, and these people do not regard themselves as unemployed.
I need only refer you to the references which Deputy Keyes made a few moments ago to the Employment Period Order which is now coming into force, and under which persons who are landholders will be debarred from receiving unemployment assistance for some months to come. These landholders are on the unemployment register; but, while these people may not be fully employed, while their holdings may not be able to give them a reasonable livelihood for the whole 12 months, nevertheless they are not unemployed in the sense that an unemployed person in Dublin is unemployed. A Dublin unemployed worker is without anything except what he can get through the social services. The small farmer in the country, and the son of the larger farmer who is available for work on the roads, is not left destitute by unemployment. He does not ordinarily work for wages; he does not expect to work for wages during the whole year. These people constitute a large proportion of the persons who are on the live register. That live register has considerable value for certain purposes. It is an indication of aspects of our unemployment problem, and the extent to which new employment is to be created. It has value as a method of ascertaining whether unemployment is increasing or decreasing. But it is of no value whatsoever when comparing the figures now available with the figures of eight or nine years ago.
The live register is prepared on an entirely different basis now. We do know, however, that employment has increased in each year since 1932. There has been an increase in the number employed. Taking the entire population of the country into account, there have been seasonal variations in industries and these seasonal variations are more pronounced in some industries than in others. You have had an upward movement in one year and you have the reverse in another year in connection with various occupations. But taking the country as a whole the number of persons in employment has gone up. Even last year, the year in which industrial development slowed down, the year in which various factors helped to depress employment, there was an increase in the total employment in the country. Deputies opposite have even attempted to confuse thought on this matter by asserting that there was an obvious contradiction in the statement that the total employment had increased while at the same time the total number of persons on the live register had increased. In fact I remember that Deputy Morrissey, on the last occasion when discussing this problem here, attempted to make my contention appear ridiculous by saying four things in succession:— unemployment increasing, employment increasing, emigration increasing and the population decreasing. It is possible to have an increase in the total in employment with an increase on the live register. That has been not merely our experience but the experience of other countries as well. Recent statistics made available from the Census of 1936 showed that one of the statements made by Deputy Morrissey on that occasion was incorrect, or at any rate was misleading. It is true that the Census of 1936 showed a slight diminution in the total population as compared with 1926, but the more recent report which deals with the ages of the population shows that that slight diminution in the total number of people in the country masks a substantial increase in the number of persons of employable ages. The number of persons over 21 years of age increased between 1926 and 1936 by over 65,000. That new fact now known must be taken into account in any examination of our employment statistics. However, if I refer to those matters at all it is merely for the purpose of endeavouring to get Deputies to study in a critical way the information available to them, and not to jump to the conclusions which they want to reach. I thought that Deputy Cosgrave, yesterday, when speaking on this matter, showed unduly his joy in being able to record that economic conditions had disimproved during the period of office of this Government. It is not a matter we need take pleasure in, even though it may help forward the prospects of a single Party. Let us, however, make sure that our facts are right.
Would the Minister give the quotation?
I was referring to the expression on the Deputy's face.
Would the Minister recollect that he did it for five years in this House?
You should not follow a bad example.
I was not doing it.
I sat here from 4 o'clock yesterday listening with great patience to an extraordinary amount of drivel.
I ask for a reason and I am told "your face gave the reason". It is a very good explanation.
I am going to exercise to the full my right to deal with any matters raised.
Quote the words and leave the faces out of it, because you have brass faces over there.
That being said, I may now proceed, I hope.
And vacant ones also. I do not think it would be worth while mentioning anything else.
If, however, we can get the facts agreed—and it should be possible to get the facts agreed—then, before we can make any progress in getting anything like a common effort in dealing with the matter of unemployment, we must do more. We must get an acceptance of the view that the position is sufficiently grave to justify us in giving plans for the reduction of unemployment priority over plans for any other purpose. If Deputies who spoke yesterday and to-day about "the appalling unemployment situation," to mention one of the expressions used, and "the very grave unemployment problem," to use the more common expression which Deputies availed of, really mean those words, really believe that the situation is as grave as they said, then I am sure they will agree with me that in the forefront of our immediate plans we must put proposals for the reduction of unemployment; that we must give those proposals priority over proposals for any other purpose—the reduction of unemployment must be our primary objective, getting consideration before any other objective whatever. When I put that contention to individuals inside and outside this House, I get agreement from them, but I get that agreement before the individuals appreciate the full significance of what I have said. It is for the purpose of ensuring that I do not get agreement here without Deputies realising what that agreement will involve that I want to give some indication of what I consider that that contention involves. We must, I think, seek to absorb into employment those who are unemployed before raising the standard of those who are employed. Now, that is a statement which will, perhaps, enable Deputies to get some idea of what is in my mind, and justifies me in raising a doubt as to whether, in fact, we will get co-operation along that line. Take the attitude of our trade union movement. I think it is not unfair to our trade union movement as a whole to say they have been indifferent to the problem of unemployment. I do not want that statement to be misunderstood. Individuals amongst trade unionists have been greatly concerned about it, have been useful in the suggestions they made in relation to it, and have been quite sincere in their efforts to attract public attention towards it, but the trade union movement as a whole has been indifferent to unemployment. It has been concerned only with raising the standard of living of the employed. It is, of course, not easy to speak of the attitude of the trade union movement as a whole, because at this time in this country the trade union movement has no effective leadership. That fact is, I think, well known to most members of it. Certainly, it is well known to all branch secretaries and members of executive committees, and has, I am sure, caused concern amongst those who are deeply interested in the welfare of that movement. There is no effective leadership, and consequently it is not possible to get any co-ordinated effort of the various branches of the movement towards any objective. If we are going to get the co-operation of trade unionism as a whole in an effort to reduce unemployment, there must first of all be some effort made to create a leadership within the trade union movement.
The Trade Union Congress is powerless at the present time. The smallest union affiliated to it can thumb its nose to it, and get away with it. It has no powers to exercise leadership even if it desired to do so. If we are going to secure the effort which I think will be necessary to reduce or abolish unemployment here we must have the active co-operation of the trade union movement. The trade union movement can be a most effective weapon for the realisation of that objective, but the weapon will not be effective unless the present position in respect of leadership is remedied by action amongst the trade unionists themselves. It is perhaps desirable that I should give an example to indicate what I mean.
During the year 1937 we had a building strike. That building strike lasted for a long time, and arose because of demands which were put forward by various building unions for increased rates of wages. Now, I am not going to say that those demands were not justified. I am not going to say that the rates of wages which were secured as a result of that strike were unduly high. Certainly they were not unduly high when one considers the standard of living which they made possible for those who received them. But there was nobody within the ranks of the trade union movement whom the men on strike, the men associated with that movement, would trust, nobody whom they would know had no other interests except their welfare, to tell them that the payment of higher wages, and the increase in building costs which would follow, was going to reduce the amount of building work done, and was going to create unemployment amongst building trade workers. It has done so. There are in Dublin alone some 3,000 more building trade workers unemployed now than there were this time last year.
Not as a result of that, I am sure?
Not entirely as a result of that.
The Minister ought to be honest.
It is inevitable that the increased costs resulting from the higher wages now paid are going to reduce the amount of work done. Deputy Tadhg Murphy spoke about 250 workers being unemployed from the slate quarries of West Cork because the building contractors are now using cheaper material.
Will the Minister deny that before that dispute took place there were no slates being used in the housing scheme?
One can go over the whole field affected by an alteration in the amount of building work done, and see that in every part of it there is some direct or indirect reaction to any increase in the cost of building. Deputy Giles spoke here about the substitution of concrete blocks for Slane bricks, just as Deputy Murphy spoke about the substitution of asbestos slates for West Cork slates. It is inevitable, if one item of building costs is increased unduly, that efforts will be made to reduce other building costs and that, to the extent the total cost of building is increased, there is going to be a diminution in activity. Remember that the building work done by public authorities is only a small part of the total amount of building work done. The number of building workers employed in Dublin upon Corporation housing schemes was substantially less than the number employed upon other schemes undertaken by purely private builders on houses for sale to private individuals.
I do not want to be misunderstood. I am not suggesting that any rate of wage now fixed should be reduced. I am not suggesting that the trade union movement should relax its efforts to remove anomalies or to redress injustices. I am not suggesting that they should fail to move to secure rectification of wage rates to keep them in adjustment with the cost of living, but I do ask them to consider the desirability of getting a general policy which can be applied to individual cases as they arise. I urge that that general policy should be this: that before seeking to raise the standard of the workers employed in any way they will endeavour to increase employment and to diminish unemployment, to open up new ways and means of absorbing into work those who are now without it.
Is the Minister aware that the bakers in Cork give a day or two days a week to their unemployed members?
I do not want to get down to individual cases. I am aware of this in Cork, that building contracts, involving a substantial amount of money, were held up for months because of a silly dispute between two unions of carpenters, a dispute which was referred to the Trades Union Congress, and which the Trades Union Congress was unable to rectify.
The facts are wrong.
I am referring to the carpenters' dispute, about which I set up an industrial court to report, and the report of which is available in the Library. Incidents of that kind would never have occurred if there had been some effective leadership in the trade union movement as a whole, or in the trade union movement in Cork. These things will be considered in their true perspective if we get that co-ordination in the trades union movement, towards the main national objective, the relief of unemployment. I am not suggesting that we should endeavour to coerce the trade union movement to move along that line, or that we should restrict their activities in any way. It would be useless to attempt to achieve the sort of organisation we desire by coercion. What I am urging is that, they have a function to discharge in the matter of unemployment, which they are not equipped to discharge now.
Will you tell us what has to be done in order to get that co-operation?
I mentioned that they have not got the machinery for co-operation. There does not exist at the moment the organisation which would result in a common policy being decided upon and being applied to all branches of the movement. I make that statement not merely as representing a conclusion I have arrived at myself——
Does the Minister say that that applies to the railway workers?
It applies to the trade union movement as a whole. I could refer to numerous statements made by trade union leaders to the same effect.
I understand the Minister himself addressed a meeting of railway workers on a certain auspicious occasion. I am sure he does not forget that.
I do not quite get the reference. I am aware, however, that the trade union congress has set up a committee, a committee which submitted not merely a report, but a couple of minority reports, upon this question of internal organisation. There are many men amongst the leaders of the trade union movement who are aware of the defects in organisation and who are striving to get rid of these defects and to make the organisation one that can be directed in support of some general policy. At the present time, there is nothing to prevent one branch of the movement going in a diametrically opposite way or towards a completely opposite objective to another branch of the movement. I had many examples of that in connection with a number of disputes in the last couple of years. If we are going to get any general drive towards a solution of the unemployment problem here—I am not now talking about the position of political Parties— any general realisation amongst all sections of the people that there is a grave problem, the solution of which is going to call for the maximum effort the nation can make, then it is necessary that we should get not only the willing co-operation of the trade union movement but that the machinery for that co-operation should exist in the trade union movement. I believe that such co-operation involves that the trade union movement should be equipped in such a way that it will be possible for it to direct all its branches towards a single objective.
Give us your plan.
When I talk about increasing employment there is one matter that I should refer to, lest my remarks might cause misunderstanding. I do not agree with the views that are often suggested, that labour-saving devices are detrimental to employment. I have always opposed the efforts sometimes made to prevent the installation of some new machinery or some new method of production which may temporarily have the effect of disemploying a few persons, because, in the long run, efficiency in production and the utilisation of the most modern up-to-date methods of manufacture will mean more employment. They have always meant more employment and they will mean more employment in the future. It is a very short-sighted policy, indeed, to oppose the installation of new machinery or more efficient methods of organisation in industry.
What I have said in relation to the trade union movement applies to practically every other section of the community. It certainly applies to the agricultural community, although not perhaps to the same extent, because plans that might operate to raise the standard of living of farmers would affect the volume of employment in agriculture. It is necessary that those who have been speaking loudest about the complaints of the farmers, who have been in fact inventing complaints for the farmers, should make up their minds what their attitude is going to be in connection with unemployment.
When the Minister speaks about new leaders of the trade union movement, what does he want?
I do not want any new leaders. If the Deputy wants to misrepresent me, he is doing it very crudely. I do not suggest any change in the leaders.
A more effective leadership.
What does the Minister want?
To make it possible for the trade union movement to follow a consistent policy in matters of general concern, such as unemployment. A Deputy referred to-day in the course of his speech to a matter which was mentioned by other Deputies as the clash of interest between industry and agriculture. I said before that fundamentally there is no such divergence of interest. It may be true that agriculturists could purchase manures or other materials which they require cheaper if there were no tariffs. It is equally true that our industrial workers could work for less wages, and, nevertheless, enjoy the same standard of living, if there were no tariffs on agricultural goods that were coming into the country, such as butter, eggs, and bacon. These do not affect the fundamentals of the position at all because it is worth while, and it is good policy, for our industrial workers to pay an economic price for agricultural goods to keep our farmers in production, just as it is worth while for our agriculturists to pay an economic price for industrial goods that are produced here, so as to keep our industrialists in production.
Has the tariff on artificial manures increased the output of superphosphates?
You can destroy any general contention by a reference to a particular point.
It is a very important particular as far as agriculture is concerned.
At the present time artificial manure is available here at as low a price as anywhere.
Has the output been increased?
I have sat here during a long-drawn-out debate, and during the time I was in the Chair there was no interruption of Deputies by the Minister. The Minister is now entitled to conclude without interruption.
By reason of the Government subsidy, and by reason of the reduction in the price of artificial manure, which was effected while the Prices Commission investigation was proceeding, the price of artificial manure has been brought down to as low a level as it would be if we had a free market. We could not get artificial manure cheaper.
At the price of 10/- a ton.
We could not get it cheaper, quality for quality, than it is now available for farmers. It is quite true that a very cheap type was sometimes in the past imported from Belgium, where it was a by-product of the metallurgical industry, and therefore the product was poor. I know that when it was open to farmers to get these artificial manures from Belgium and other places, 80 per cent. of the manure used was Irish manufacture. They used it in preference, because of its higher quality, even though it cost them more.
That is so. I can bear that out.
I want to ask that proposals relating to agriculture should, at least, be considered in relation to unemployment, in the solution of which problem industrial development must play a vital part. I do not propose to deal with that at any undue length, but I have frequently contended that any substantial improvement in agricultural conditions, any big increase in agricultural production, or substantial rise in agricultural prices would not, of itself, directly increase in the same proportion, the number of persons employed in agriculture. Deputies who study the statistics of agricultural production not only in Ireland but in Denmark know that a substantial increase in total production is possible. The only direct effect upon employment of improved agricultural conditions and increased output and prices is to make those engaged in agriculture better contented with their position, by raising their economic status, raising purchasing power, and keeping them in employment that they might be otherwise induced to leave to seek their fortunes elsewhere. If we are to keep people at home, if we are to improve agricultural production, and check emigration, we may do so temporarily by various schemes of public works, but in the long run only by increased industrial production. Increased employment in productive industry will indirectly increase employment in other non-agricultural occupations, but the essential part of our plans much be to increase industrial activities.
That fact is sometimes not contested. It is quite true that Deputies opposite preface their remarks by indicating general goodwill for industries, except those started by Fianna Fáil. We know the story of the lady in Aberdeen who met a Scotchman and said she was half Scotch and he replied: "That does not prevent you from sinning but it does prevent you from enjoying it." That is the attitude of the Party opposite. Their antipathy to Fianna Fáil is such that, while claiming to support an industrial policy, they get no pleasure in the industrial successes that have been recorded. There have been successes. The fact that we have 51,000 more people employed in industrial occupations than there were before is an indication of what can be done.
But three times as many were put out of employment.
Out of what employment? If the contention is that they were put out of other employment there must be some record of that. Out of what employment were they put? So far as our statistics show, they were not put out of employment in distribution, transport or in any of the non-productive occupations insurable under the Unemployment Acts. They were not put out of employment in agriculture, with which I will deal later, because I want to put Deputy Mulcahy right in respect of many matters to which he referred, and in respect of which he is liable to fall into serious error.
I hope there will be an opportunity to ask the Minister where there was error.
I have given that information in statistics made available by my Department.
May I refer the Minister to the statistics?
These people have been put into employment in the production of food and drink, in the production of other transportable goods, in building and in other services. I have a tabulated list of people engaged in these occupations.
May I ask the Minister to relate that, together with the 61,000 of an increase indicated by the National Health Insurance Fund, to the total number of people engaged in building houses and the additional number engaged in relief schemes?
I do not know what the Deputy is trying to get at. The number of persons employed in industrial production, of the forms to which I referred, has increased between 1931 and 1937 by something over 50,000. That cannot be denied. These people are counted. The number of persons insured under the Unemployment Insurance Act has also increased. I can give the Deputy the exact figures if he wishes. I can give the number of cards issued and the number of contributions paid, showing that a substantial increase was recorded. The increase last year was not as substantial as the previous year. If we are to deal with unemployment, if we are to reduce the number of unemployed, if we are to create new work into which these persons can be put, we have to concentrate on an increase of industrial activities. That does not mean that we need diminish by one iota our efforts to expand agricultural production or to improve conditions in agriculture. We have to recognise, in the long run, that the solution of unemployment involves an increase in industrial production, and anything that tends to delay or to prevent industrial production is detrimental to the best national interests. We have been told that we can get better industrial plans by means of an economic council. I think that was the suggestion of Labour Deputies, while Deputy Mulcahy referred to a commission of experts, which would be charged with the task of picking out those industries that were wanted, the industries that should be preserved, while condemning industries which, in their opinion, should be scrapped.
In any event, I take it the idea of some of the members of the Labour Party was that there should be some expert committee or tribunal outside the Department of Industry and Commerce to examine the industrial sphere as a whole and arrive at a long-term plan.
In conjunction with the Department.
That suggestion has been frequently made, not merely by members of Fine Gael and of the Labour Parties, but by members of the Government Party, and I always opposed it. I opposed it because I feel that its institution would delay progress, that all the time spent preparing elaborate plans would be lost, and that, in the end, we would be no wiser than before.
It is not a question of planning. It is a question of marking down these particular industries that we could say are as important to this country as agriculture is.
What the Deputy has said is meaningless. No committee of experts, no individuals in the world whom the Deputy could name, could possibly say that one industry is going to have an important future in the history of the country and that others are not going to count. No committee of experts you could have set up in the past would have said it was possible for us to develop here a firm like Jacobs, which brings in imported products, manufactures them into biscuits and then sends those biscuits throughout the world. Any expert committee would have ridiculed the idea of any such industry being set up here, and, if they had reported in favour of the establishment of such an industry, the Deputy Dillon of the day would have received it with a loud guffaw. There is no industry which cannot be established here, provided we get the technical knowledge, the business experience, and the financial resources to put it there. That is all that matters. Think of the most difficult industry that was ever established, the most intricate industry, that which involves the highest degree of technical skill. That industry can be established here, if we have the men to do it. The whole work of your committee, all the planning you can do, cannot substitute for the individuals, the men with the knowledge, the men with the competence, with the experience and with the drive that are necessary before any industrial enterprise can be created.
The problem of promoting industrial development and the problem of our agriculturists are entirely different. You can set up a commission to elaborate and prepare a general plan for agriculture. The agricultural industry consists of a very large number of small-scale producers who have a great deal in common, and it is possible to have a general plan in relation to them, even if it is only a plan for the combined marketing of their products; but industry is different altogether. It is essentially an individual affair. It does not matter who owns it, it does not matter whether it is State owned or privately owned, its success and development will depend on the existence of individuals with specialised knowledge, specialised experience, and with some advantage over others which enables them to build up an industry where others cannot succeed. Examine the industrial history of any country, and you will find that the big industrial developments that took place in England and Germany and Switzerland were not due to the possession by these countries of any exceptional raw material, any natural advantage which other countries had not got. They were due entirely to the development of a particular form of skill amongst the people, due to the efforts of individuals who had a particular idea, a particular invention, or a particular business conception which they put into operation.
In respect of the industries that were established here which put new names into the industrial vocabularies of the world—Balbriggan hosiery, Limerick hams, Limerick lace—there did not exist in Balbriggan, or in Limerick, or anywhere else, special advantages which made these towns more suitable as the centres of these industries than other towns. It was because there were associated with the development of these industries in these towns individuals of exceptional ability and of outstanding merit that they achieved the success which they finally secured and which made them renowned throughout the world. I say here that so long as you have a general atmosphere favourable to industrial development, so long as you have a governmental policy which is designed to assist and facilitate those who are prepared to embark on industrial enterprise here, you can do no more than endeavour to interest individuals in your industrial possibilities. We have succeeded in doing that. The success we have attained so far will, in fact, help us to a greater success in the future because the only real difficulty we had to overcome in initiating our industrial drive was the hesitancy of our own people, and of outsiders, in associating themselves with Irish industrial enterprise, which, in the past, had always been a source of financial loss.
It was always the idea that Irish industry was a hot-house plant, and that the first cold breath of air would kill it. There were no facilities for the investment of public money in industrial enterprise; there was no industrial tradition in any part of the country, and there was no experience of management and no experience of the adaptability, the suitability, of our people for industrial work. We have got over that. We have killed that hesitancy and we have created a means of contact between the investing public and the industrial organisers. We have shown the competence of our people to learn, to practise and to carry out, as skilfully as anyone else, the technical processes of modern industry, and, provided we can get a general atmosphere favourable to industrial development, I am satisfied that industrial development will go ahead. The one thing that will kill it is an atmosphere of hostility and, more particularly, an atmosphere of political controversy. If we can get the matter of industrial development taken out of the political arena, our progress will be more rapid. Up to the present, the fact that every new factory started was called a Fianna Fáil factory, and that one Party was able to take credit for it and that another appeared to oppose it, was the biggest hindrance we had to industrial progress. If we could end that, and get some agreement that industrial development is essential to our national well-being, if our national well-being is to be served, by a diminution, or an abolition, of our unemployment problem, if we can get rid of this highly critical atmosphere in relation to individual enterprises, I am satisfied that this time, the present year and the next year, subject to whatever may develop in the international situation, is as favourable as any in the history of Ireland for the promotion of industrial expansion.
I merely give these views as representing the attitude of the Government on these matters. It may be that events will prove that there are other difficulties that will have to be overcome and other objections that will have to be met, but I think the way is clear, provided we are prepared to follow it, to the creation here of sufficient employment to deal with our immediate unemployment problem. I would not say that we are going to create new employment capable of absorbing 100,000 or 105,000 people. I do not think we need do so. Apart from the fact that for every two additional persons employed in production, economists tell us, one additional person will be employed in distribution, or some other non-productive occupation, there is also the fact, to which I have referred, that the number of people on the live register does not represent accurately the volume of our unemployment.
Reference has been made here to the diminution in the number of persons employed in agriculture. It is correct that some of the available statistics appear to indicate a diminution in the number of persons recorded as employed in agriculture during recent years. Again, I ask, in all sincerity, in the national interest, that there should be no attempt to exaggerate that position. It is the easiest thing in the world to take the figure for 1938, and subtract it from the figure for 1934, and say that there are 42,000 fewer people employed in agriculture now than there were in 1934. The number of people employed in agriculture in 1934 was exceptionally high. If Deputy Mulcahy will take the years 1933, or 1935, he will get a much less impressive total.
Why was the number exceptionally high in 1934?
I intend to deal with that. The figures which form the basis of the Deputy's calculation are those secured by Civic Guard enumerators who are asked to make a return in respect of each area of the number of persons employed in agriculture on 1st June. I ask Deputies to note the fact that the figures for each area refer to 1st June, and quite a number of considerations may influence that figure. A number of factors may operate to make the number higher or lower in one year than another. In fact, it is unsafe to base any conclusion concerning the average number of persons employed in agriculture throughout the year upon that figure at all, because, one year with another, there will be various factors which will operate to increase or decrease that figure. In the year between 1933 and 1934 the number of persons recorded as being employed in agriculture on the 1st June showed an increase of no less than 28,000. Now, I do not believe, and I am sure no Deputy opposite believes, that in 1934 there was in fact an increase of 28,000 persons employed in agriculture—the year in which the economic war had its worst effect upon our agricultural industry—and yet that increase was recorded. Since that, there have been decreases recorded, taking one year with another. We can, however, get a line upon that figure. We can secure some information concerning the average number of persons employed for wages in agriculture during the year—and, again, the figure that we can get is not an accurate figure, but is merely a figure secured by certain calculations made in relation to the number of National Health Insurance stamps sold, from which are deducted the number of unemployment insurance stamps sold.
As Deputies know, persons employed in industrial occupations, as defined under the Unemployment Insurance Act, are insured both under that Act and the National Health Insurance Act; but apart from these there are persons employed for wages in agriculture, as well as domestic servants, who are not insured under the Unemployment Insurance Act at all. As a consequence of an examination of the margin between these, you can get some idea of the fluctuations in employment in these occupations, agriculture and domestic servants, and the calculations based on the available figures would indicate that there was, on the average, a diminution of 3,000 in the number of persons employed in agriculture and domestic service last year. Again, however, that figure is not final, because it is impossible to segregate them into the two classes, but it is a more accurate indication of the trend of employment in agriculture than the figure given by Deputy Mulcahy.
And still not reliable.
And still not reliable.
Would the Minister relate the figures 43,000, which are from his own statistics, to the figures of 34,000 of the fall in population between 1934 and 1937? If he will ascertain whether that fall took place in town or rural districts, he may get a figure that will bear on the fall in agricultural employment.
The Deputy has got to take into account another factor than the distribution of that decline in population between urban and rural areas. I ask him to consider the fact that was brought to light in the most recent report published as a result of the Census of 1936—a fact to which I have already referred here—that despite the decrease in population recorded in 1936 as against 1926, there was an increase of 65,000 in the number of persons over 21 years of age, that is of employable age. The whole decrease in population occurred amongst children.
What about the emigrants?
The subsequent diminution, to which the Deputy referred, may be capable of a similar explanation. I cannot say so, and neither can he.
If the Minister refers to the birth figures of the last four years, he will not find much to support him in that argument.
Nevertheless, the facts recorded by the census of 1936 are there. The total population, the details of which were given in the first report, are divided in that second report into ages, and they reveal that the number of persons of employable age increased substantially during the intercensal period, that the decline of population is attributable to a much greater decline in the number of persons under 18 years of age.
That has nothing to do with the 1934 and 1938 period.
Of course not, but it shows that the Deputy should not rush to conclusions of another kind on the basis of these figures and assume that there has been a diminution in the numbers of employable age. However, my sole purpose here is to get the facts known. I have no desire whatever to conceal these facts. On the contrary, I believe that it is essential to get these facts made known to and widely appreciated by the public, because it is only when the public clearly understand the problem that is there, and the gravity and urgency of the problem, that they will be prepared to cooperate fully in whatever plan may be evolved to deal with it, and to bear cheerfully whatever burdens may be put on them in order to enable the resources to be provided that will permit of that plan being carried into effect. It is fruitless to be discussing here what is the meaning of particular statistics, or the accuracy of particular statistics. We always get into a dead end when we proceed on that line, because, no matter how carefully we may study the statistics themselves, and no matter what our previous convictions may be, or what conclusions we may want to arrive at, if we are honest with ourselves we will arrive at the same conclusions that the experts arrive at, and they are very tentative ones indeed; they merely purport to suggest that the figures seem to indicate that a certain development is taking place, without suggesting that there is any conclusive evidence to that effect.
However, there are one or two matters to which I want to refer particularly before a vote is taken on this Estimate. I may have left Deputies under the impression, when I referred to the national emergency wheat reserve in my opening remarks, that the 1/- per sack that is being charged on flour will be charged indefinitely, or that it is necessary to recover the cost of the storage, or that it is going to the millers. None of these things is correct. The reserve which is being built up, to date, is about 50,000 tons. I understand, however, that recently it has been further enlarged and that at the moment it might be put nearer to 60,000 tons. The cost of maintaining that reserve—that is, the interest on the capital invested in the wheat—the cost of storing and maintaining it— would be much more than recouped by a charge of 1/- per sack, spread over the whole year. It would not need even a half of the amount secured by such a charge to meet the costs involved.
Would the Minister say that again?
Certainly. I say that the amount which would be secured by a levy of 1/- per sack, spread over the year, would produce a sum much more than double the amount required to finance the wheat storage scheme on the scale I have mentioned.
We want to hear what it is costing.
The Deputy cannot be told what it is costing. The cost will depend on the amount stored, and that will depend on a number of factors. We are trying to ensure that when an emergency arises, no matter what time of year the emergency may occur, there will be a sufficient quantity of wheat within this country to ensure that, given due economy in its use, we would be able to carry over until the next season has occurred here in which we can increase the production of wheat at home. You will understand that the amount of wheat necessary for national safety varies from one season to another. For instance, at this season of the year, the margin of safety is probably at its lowest, whereas in the month of September the margin of safety would be at its highest; but we should have in this country a sufficient supply to ensure that we can see our way ahead—assuming that only minimum supplies can be brought in—to have a much larger acreage grown here and to have the harvest of that much larger acreage reaped.
And now is the time to do it.
And to secure that, I presume, without an emergency cost to the people?
There has been none.
No, but on the arrival of an emergency there will be a decreased supply and, with that decrease in supplies, there would be an increase in cost.
Quite, but the idea of the reserve is to ensure supplies. Of course, with regard to that reserve, we were fortunate in one sense, since the reserve was bought at a time when it was favourable to buy it. Of course, there was no emergency, but it would nevertheless permit of an economy in the cost of wheat being made. That is, however, a matter which is of no importance. The essential thing is to have available that adequate supply of wheat. Naturally, the greater the extent to which that reserve is increased the more costly it becomes. All the economic stores of the country are being utilised. The stores not so economic have also been utilised. The greater the extent to which that wheat becomes available for storage, the more costly it will become, because the less economic will be the methods of storage available to us.
What I want to make clear is this, that the levy of 1/- per sack under which that scheme is now being financed is not being made by the millers. The proceeds of that levy are not going to the profit and loss accounts of the millers, but to a special wheat reserve fund, which is controlled by a wheat reserve committee, and is being utilised for the purpose of defraying the cost of storage. The amount cannot yet be determined, but it will be substantially less than the annual revenue which will result from that charge.
How much is the pool at present?
I could not say that.
But the shilling is being charged to the consumer.
Whose property is the pool?
It is the property of the Flour Millers' Association, but it is subject to our control.
Who constitutes the Wheat Reserve Committee the Minister talks of?
It is a committee set up by the Flour Millers' Association. Deputy Dillon spoke, as usual, about the price of flour, and I do not know that it is necessary once again to try to disprove his contention. I have no brief for the flour millers. If the flour millers are over-charging, then they have got to be dealt with. It is necessary that we should understand the facts. Deputy Dillon says that the flour millers are making a profit of 8/- to 10/- a sack more than they should make. The Prices Commission say that in the worst days they made a profit of 1/1 a sack more than they should.
Deputy Dillon went on to describe the whole process. His contention was that we took the matter to the Prices Commission and they gave us a formula; that the millers applied that formula to the most uneconomic mill in the country, and, on the basis of the application of that formula to the circumstances in the most uneconomic mill in the country, they fixed the price of flour, and that enabled the big mills to make enormous profits. That was all so much hooey. I asked the Deputy did he know what the formula was. The point is that anybody who knows what the formula is would know that the story told by the Deputy was just so much boloney. The formula is based on the standard price of foreign wheat quoted at recognised exchanges, and the formula which was set out in the published report of the Prices Commission permits of a variation in the price of flour only in accordance with the variation in the price of foreign wheat. The other charges are all fixed in relation to the average mill, applying to the smallest and the biggest mill.
The Prices Commission arrangement was on the basis of that formula. The formula was applied by the flour millers in the determination of the price to be charged to consumers for flour, and the millers would be getting only the ordinary profit, 7½ per cent. on invested capital. The flour millers assured us that they accepted that formula. The Prices Commission investigated the matter and they were satisfied that the formula had been applied. There was a dispute about one or two minor matters.
Are any of these shares available for sale at par?
I do not know. The Deputy knows quite well. There have, however, been transactions in flour shares in recent years and the Deputy presumably knows all about them.
I am asking the expert now, the man who knows all about them.
I have not lost sight of the significance of these transactions, nor have the Prices Commission, and there is being undertaken another inquiry into the flour position by the Prices Commission, in conjuction with officers of my Department. I do say that it is consciously dishonest of any Deputy to compare the quoted price of flour in London or Liverpool with the quoted price of flour in an Irish mill, because these Deputies know that flour cannot be bought in England at that price—it cannot be bought there. The Deputy who spoke about the difference of 15/ knows full well that before anybody in England can get delivery of the flour he has to pay a wheat levy, which amounts at present to 6/6 a sack.
Which has not to be paid here?
Not on exported flour?
We are talking about the price of flour in England.
Has the 6/6 to be paid here?
It is embodied in the quoted price.
To whom is it paid?
I know that Deputy Cosgrave is a master in the art of interruption.
I want to get the facts about the figures. I have only one strong suit—figures.
I will try to help the Deputy to understand.
The 6/6 quoted in England has to be paid here?
The Irish price is the price of flour in sacks, free on rail to the consumer, and includes every possible charge. That is the price at which the consumer can get a sack of flour in a railway carriage in Dublin.
And we have to pay the 6/6?
The English price is the price of the flour naked at the mill. It does not include the cost of the sacks, about 1/6 extra. It contains nothing for delivery, or the wheat levy of 6/6 payable under the British Wheat Subsidy Act. There are other factors which operate to justify a difference between the price of flour in Ireland and the price in England. It is, of course, quite true that flour can be manufactured in certain parts of England cheaper than it can be manufactured here, for reasons set out very fully in the report of the Tariff Commission in 1927. There is the fact that wheat offals are £1 a ton cheaper here than in England, and that is one explanation.
That is absolute nonsense.
It is not nonsense.
The Minister does not have to buy them.
It is not nonsense. I will refer the Deputy to any reputable journal in which these facts are recorded.
Show me a reputable purchaser.
I will bet a package of cigarettes that the Deputy will not prove me wrong.
If we are buyers of English flour, do we pay the 6/6?
No, of course we do not. Does the Deputy want the Irish flour millers to compete against a subsidised price? That is typical of the whole attitude of Deputies opposite. We had Deputy Mulcahy, Deputy Dillon and other Deputies speaking about the possibility of building up an export trade in one breath and at the next they came out with the old catchery that we were selling our bacon to John Bull cheaper than we could buy it ourselves; that we were giving cheap butter to John Bull while we were paying the full economic price ourselves. That type of catch-cry indicates the confusion of thought that exists on the opposite benches. It is quite true the only price we can get for our butter in the English market is the price prevailing there; the British are not going to pay us a subsidy. The only price we can get for our bacon is the world price, the open market price. It is true that you can buy English coal in Italy cheaper than you can buy it in England. We can buy English coal in Ireland cheaper than the consumers in England can buy it.
Does the Minister say that, quality for quality.
Certainly, quality for quality. The Deputy has only to compare the published lists to see that. It is also true that we can buy Czecho Slovakian sugar here at a fraction of the price at which the Czecho Slovakians can buy it, if there are any of them left; we can buy it cheaper than the people living in the immediate vicinity of the factories. German machinery can be bought cheaper in this country than they can buy it in Germany. Every country in the world has tried to maintain its export trade by devices of that kind, whether by direct subsidies or by manipulating the exchanges or by one means or another. They have kept themselves in the export markets of the world by the simple process of selling their goods there at lower prices than they were charging their own people. We could not have maintained our butter industry or our bacon industry or agriculture at all unless we were prepared at least to ensure that the prices prevailing here were economic, so long as the prices in the world market were uneconomic. It is completely misleading to talk about giving cheap butter to John Bull. We did not give John Bull cheap butter or cheap bacon. We gave him the butter and the bacon at no lower price than that at which they could obtain it from anywhere else.
If the Deputy is serious in this idea of building up industry with an export possibility, he has got to be reconciled to the fact that the export industries will mean selling our industrial products in England and elsewhere at a lower price than here.
Will the Minister deny that a cargo of wheat can be brought into the port of Cork as cheaply as into the port of Liverpool?
I am not talking about cargoes of wheat. I am not speaking of my own knowledge in these matters. Whatever information I have, I got from the Report of the Tariff Commission.
I am not disputing what you said. Is it a fact that a cargo of wheat to be manufactured into flour can be brought into the port of Cork as cheaply as into the Liverpool port?
The Deputy will not get an answer to that.
I know the Deputy is trying to make some propaganda for Cork port. It has nothing whatever to do with the matter in this case.
And I suppose the bread is no dearer here than in England.
Of course, the loaf is a lot dearer, substantially dearer, not merely because flour is dearer, but because a number of other factors operate—the fact that higher wages are paid to bakers and the different quality of the loaf. There are a number of other considerations which operate to make the price of bread dearer here. I am quite prepared to say that I think the price of bread here is too dear, but you are not going to get it reduced without a fight.
Or a general election.
Does Deputy Cosgrave seriously suggest that the price of bread was as low in this country as it was in Great Britain in 1931?
It is never as low as it is at a general election.
I want to say a few words about the substitution of electric buses for the petrol buses. One of the problems we have got to deal with in preparing plans for a possible emergency is the extent to which we should go now in interfering with normal commercial affairs in view of the possibility of such an emergency. The emergency may never come and, consequently, it is difficult to decide always to what extent you are justified in interfering with the affairs of private individuals or private companies against that possibility. That question arose more or less acutely in connection with this matter to which Deputy Benson referred, namely, the substitution of electrically-driven trams by buses in Dublin. The emergency may come and that fact must be kept in mind, but there arose for the tramway company in Dublin, as I understand it, a financial problem of considerable magnitude. Not merely was the city spreading out over a much wider area and, consequently, bringing changes in the problem of providing suitable transport in the city, changes which, if trams were the principal vehicles used, would have involved the construction of new lines, new permanent ways and new overhead lines in the new areas, at considerable capital cost, but also, the existing equipment was becoming out of date, and would, I think, have to be replaced at some stage, at considerable cost. In fact, the financial problem of the company was very largely influenced by that fact. If they were to retain trams as their principal vehicles in use and at the same time, provide an adequate service in all parts of the city where new services were required, they would be involved at once in very heavy capital expenditure, both in relation to the permanent way and the overhead system. They could, of course, provide that service with petrol buses without any of that capital expenditure and I felt that, while I was obliged to draw their attention to the position that might arise in the event of an emergency and some curtailment of our supplies of motor fuel, I was not called upon to interfere unduly with the decisions they made, apart from the fact, of course, that I have no power to prevent them following any policy they consider wise if they are determined to proceed with it. That problem would arise again and again in the preparation of plans to deal with the possibility of a war situation arising.
Why not make use of the Drumm battery?
I do not know that I should discuss that matter now. There is no Estimate for the Drumm battery this year and, consequently, the opportunity for making a statement concerning that will not arise, but if any Deputy is really interested I am prepared to do so. I may say, however, that we are in fact expending a considerable amount of money upon various experiments—perhaps I misled the House in saying we are doing it— but I know money is being expended on experiments concerning the possibility of utilising peat for the propulsion of public service vehicles. It has been done successfully with other fuels, as Deputies no doubt are aware, in other countries, and possibly, it can be done here. Private interests and semi-public interests of various kinds are, in fact, experimenting in that matter. We ourselves are proposing, through our industrial research organisation, to set up a special department for peat research, which will be financed by the Government and which will be charged with the responsibility of carrying out all the investigations that are necessary to enable us to utilise to the full our peat resources.
The matters that were raised here in connection with the Unemployment Assistance and Unemployment Insurance Acts can be dealt with by me in moving that Estimate. I do not think it is desirable to deal with them now because, undoubtedly, they will be discussed again when the Estimate is before us.
The other matters that were raised by different Deputies could not be very conveniently dealt with here and I do not propose to refer to them; but some of them, I think, could be very easily adjusted if the Deputies concerned would get in touch with the appropriate officers of the Department and discuss them there.
I want to ask one question. The note that dominated the Minister's reply to this Estimate was somewhat like this: That proposals for the reduction of unemployment must get consideration before any other objective whatever.
The Deputy is paraphrasing. I do not accept any paraphrase.
I am stating the exact words of the Minister.
I used a lot more words than those.
Oh yes, the Minister did, but these, at any rate, are his exact words. From the general trend of his remarks and the way in which he addressed himself, particularly to the question that I raised in making this motion, I say that this dominated the whole of his attitude: "That proposals for the reduction of unemployment must get consideration before any other objective whatever." What are the Minister's proposals in this matter? He asks us to agree on facts. We do agree. I think the Minister will find that most people here agree that it is in an industrial occupation, and in commercial occupations connected with it, that he must look for the absorption of the unemployed that are in the country at the present moment and of any increase in population here. The Minister has not indicated what exactly is in his mind, but makes this point dominate his outlook on the situation. If that be so, we do not see that any more moneys are being voted for unemployment schemes this year than were voted last year. I think the House would like the Minister to outline his proposals for dealing with the grave situation which he admits exists.
I am only concerned with the Department of Industry and Commerce now, and it is only in connection with the industrial aspects of the Government's policy that I have to answer to the House. Other Ministers have responsibility in connection with the Government's general policy, and perhaps will speak for themselves.
It seems to me that the Minister side-stepped addressing himself to the question of industrial development, particularly industrial development over an area that could be definitely taken out of, say, public controversy by indicating that a more urgent thing required attention, namely, the grave unemployment situation: that above and before any other objective that had to be pursued, and that the treatment of it was to be attended to before all else.
I did not intend to convey that idea. On the contrary, I think the whole purport of my remarks was to the effect that a solution of unemployment depended very largely on the success of the industrialisation policy.
Does the Minister understand how valuable a thing it would be if we could get clear, as between all Parties in this House, and between the general mass of the people in the country, that there was a certain range of industries that had to be maintained here even if sacrifices had to be made at the present moment in order to do that: that it was only when you got a situation like that, where a definite range of industrial life was accepted as being as necessary to our people here as agriculture, that we could really see whether the greatest technical efficiency possible was being achieved here, or that we could really achieve the greatest possible technical efficiency here?
The Minister seemed to imply that the attitude of the trade union movement was an impediment to him to do things that he wanted to do.
I said that we were not getting from the trade union movement the co-operation which, I think, we could get.
The things the Minister mentioned were only a little inter-trade union dispute. The Minister did not give any indication as to where he failed to get co-operation from the movement as a whole. He knows that we have plenty of food, that we have clothes in abundance, milk in abundance, and will he state what is standing between the people who need these things and the abundance that is there? I suggest to him in all seriousness that until such time as the Government become masters in their own house, and control the credit and money of the country we will never solve the unemployment problem.
- Belton, Patrick.
- Bennett, George C.
- Benson, Ernest E.
- Brennan, Michael.
- Broderick, William J.
- Brodrick, Seán.
- Browne, Patrick.
- Byrne, Alfred (Junior).
- Coburn, James.
- Cole, John J.
- Cogan, Patrick.
- Corish, Richard.
- Cosgrave, William T.
- Costello, John A.
- Daly, Patrick.
- Dockrell, Henry M.
- Doyle, Peadar S.
- Esmonde, John L.
- O'Higgins, Thomas F.
- O'Neill, Eamonn.
- O'Sullivan, John M.
- Pattison, James P.
- Redmond, Bridget M.
- Everett, James.
- Fagan, Charles.
- Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
- Giles, Patrick.
- Gorey, Denis J.
- Hickey, James.
- Hughes, James.
- Hurley, Jeremiah.
- Keating, John.
- Keyes, Michael.
- MacEoin, Seán.
- McGovern, Patrick.
- McMenamin, Daniel.
- Mongan, Joseph W.
- Morrissey, Daniel.
- Mulcahy, Richard.
- Nally, Martin.
- O'Donovan, Timothy
- Reidy, James.
- Reynolds, Mary.
- Rogers, Patrick J.
- Ryan, Jeremiah.
- Aiken, Frank.
- Allen, Denis.
- Bartley, Gerald.
- Beegan, Patrick.
- Boland, Gerald.
- Bourke, Dan.
- Brady, Brian.
- Brady, Seán.
- Breathnach, Cormac.
- Breen, Daniel.
- Breslin, Cormac.
- Buckley, Seán.
- Carty, Frank.
- Childers, Erskine H.
- Cooney, Eamonn.
- Corry, Martin J.
- Crowley, Fred Hugh.
- Crowley, Tadhg.
- Derrig, Thomas.
- De Valera, Eamon.
- Flinn, Hugo V.
- Flynn, John.
- Flynn, Stephen.
- Fogarty, Andrew.
- Fogarty, Patrick J.
- Friel, John.
- Fuller, Stephen.
- Gorry, Patrick J.
- Harris, Thomas.
- Hogan, Daniel.
- Humphreys, Francis.
- Kelly, James P.
- Kelly, Thomas.
- Kennedy, Michael J.
- Killilea, Mark.
- Kissane, Eamon.
- Lemass, Seán F.
- Little, Patrick J.
- Loughman, Francis.
- Lynch, James B.
- McEllistrim, Thomas.
- MacEntee, Seán.
- Maguire, Ben.
- Meaney, Cornelius.
- Moore, Séamus.
- Moylan, Seán.
- Mullen, Thomas.
- Munnelly, John.
- O Briain, Donnchadh.
- O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
- O'Grady, Seán.
- O'Loghlen, Peter J.
- O'Reilly, Matthew.
- O'Rourke, Daniel.
- Rice, Brigid M.
- Ryan, James.
- Ryan, Martin.
- Ryan, Robert.
- Sheridan, Michael.
- Smith, Patrick.
- Tubridy, Seán.
- Victory, James.
- Walsh, Laurence J.
- Walsh, Richard.
- Ward, Conn.
I move that the Estimate be reduced by £10 in respect of sub-head A. I do so in order to draw attention to the way in which the House was misled by the Minister and his departmental staff in presenting certain aspects of the industrial alcohol position before the House passed the Industrial Alcohol Act. The Minister indicated that the cost of the mixture of 1,000,000 gallons would mean an increased charge of £75,000 per year, which in fact he indicated was met by an increase of 1/2d. per gallon at that particular time. At the present time, with a consumption of petrol of 36,000,000 gallons, the users of motor spirit here are paying a sum of £187,500 more than they would pay for it if they got it at the Six-Counties prices.
Has the Deputy moved this motion in order to reply to statements made on the Second Stage of a Bill?
That is what I understood. There is, of course, no money in this Vote for industrial alcohol.
I am moving this motion in order to inquire whether the persons who contributed that information to the Minister for presentation to this House are still in his Department and whether they are still in a position to deal with important matters and mislead the House in other matters of equal importance.
The Deputy may not arraign civil servants in that fashion. The Minister is responsible for any information he supplies.
I am making the Minister responsible, and it is for the purpose of pointing out the Minister's responsibility in the matter that I am moving this motion. I want to do it very simply and very clearly. As I say, we are paying £187,500 more than we would be paying at the Six Counties prices, and that is based on this: that in the Dublin price area for No. 1 spirit the price is 1/8 and for No. 3 spirit, 1/6. In the rest of the country the price is 1/9 for No. 1 spirit and 1/7 for No. 3 spirit, all ex-pump. Three-quarters of our consumption takes place in the rest of the country.
The question of industrial alcohol was discussed on the main Estimate; how then does it arise in relation to salaries and allowances?
May I submit, Sir, that the Deputy has moved his motion to sub-head A, which includes the Minister's own salary. We are, I take it, in accordance with the usual practice on this Estimate, reviewing the administration of a particular Department for the last 12 months.
I take it that on the motion to refer back, which has been disposed of, the House discussed the policy of the Department for the past 12 months. Surely the Deputy does not want to duplicate debate.
This is a matter purely of administration under the Minister which occurred within the last 12 months.
According to the Deputy's statement so far it is not clear that the Minister's statement was made within the last 12 months.
The particular measure was introduced and piloted through the House by the Minister and the information which the Deputy has taken exception to was supplied by the Minister.
In May last year.
I do not think that a statement made on the Second Stage of a Bill is a matter for discussion on an Estimate subsequent to the passing of the Bill.
It is a question of administration.
This is a matter of considerable importance.
The importance is not in question; the relevancy is.
You indicated that this might be discussed on the motion. I addressed myself on the motion to refer back the Minister's Estimate to a matter of very definite and broad policy. There are details of the work of the Department during the past year that I wish to discuss simply, clearly and without any long-drawn-out debate. I claim to be quite in order in drawing attention to a state of affairs that has arisen and that is causing substantial expense to people here, a state of affairs that is entirely at variance with what was indicated by the Minister when he made a particular presentation of his case in May last. I have indicated what the prices of No. 1 and No. 3 petrol are in the Twenty-Six Counties and I have said that the consumption outside the Dublin price area is three-fourths of the total consumption. The price for the whole of the Six-County area is 1/7½ for No. 1 spirit and 1/5½ for No. 3 spirit, and with a consumption of 36,000,000 gallons, the expense to the people here over what they would have to pay at the Six-County price is £187,500. Therefore, they are paying now, not the £75,000 the Minister indicated they would be paying in May last, but a much more substantial figure, and they are doing that in spite of the fact that there is a penny more customs duty to be paid in the Six Counties on petrol than has to be paid here.
The Minister indicated that about 250 persons would be employed in this industry. With the money being paid over the Six-County level for this petrol, we could pay these people about £750 a year each. If we consider what we are paying as against the Six-County level, brought to our own, we could pay them £1,350 a year each. What are we getting for all this?
Does the Deputy not see the fallacy of his own argument? A pupil of a kindergarten would see it.
I am asking the Minister to point out where my contemtions are wrong, if they are wrong. The Minister may say that that is not due to industrial alcohol. There is, at least, £125,000 due to industrial alcohol. If there has been mixed 1,000,000 gallons of industrial alcohol with 35,000,000 gallons of motor spirit imported here at 4.6d., the industrial alcohol costing 3/- per gallon, then the price to be paid for the mixture is 5d. and the increased cost of industrial alcohol is £175,000. What we are paying is the figure I gave and the whole thing is obscured by the idea that, in paying an additional price for petrol, we are supporting an industry that is doing some good for this country. It is not doing the good the Minister indicated it was to do and for which it was established. It is not assisting agriculture. So far as using molasses from the Sugar Company, which the Minister stated would be used if we had to depart from potatoes, it has been stated that we are importing molasses. Although the Minister indicated that if imported molasses were used, the alcohol so produced would be much cheaper than that produced from our native production of molasses, there is no indication of a cheaper rate in the price we are paying for our petrol. We are paying £187,000 more than we would be paying at the Six-County level in spite of the fact that there is a penny additional customs duty per gallon on petrol in the Six Counties. The Chair precludes me from putting the question in the way I should like to put it but I ask the Minister if that is the type of handling that important matters are going to receive in the coming year?
In the past, when there was a really effective Opposition in the House—that is to say, when I belonged to the Opposition—this question of differential between the price charged for petrol in the Six Counties and in the Twenty-Six Counties was raised frequently. If the Deputy wants to know all about the matter, he can read the speeches I made when his Government were over here. There was always an unexplained differential between the charge in the Six Counties and the charge here. I do not say it was entirely unexplained because you had a much more densely populated area around Belfast, with a number of towns with large populations. That permitted of lower distribution costs than was the case down here but the margin of difference was, in my opinion, always more than was justified by the circumstances. In fact, that margin of difference has been reduced as a result of representations made by me since I became Minister. The difference between the prices charged in the Six Counties and in the Twenty-Six Counties is not explainable by the additional cost of industrial alcohol here. The production of industrial alcohol is less than our estimate by reason of the supply of potatoes having been curtailed.
What is the production?
I could not say what the production will be, yet, as we are only in the middle of the season. There was, however, a partial failure of the potato crop in some areas and there is a substantial scarcity in those areas— a scarcity referred to more than once in this House when appeals were made to the Minister for Agriculture to provide seed potatoes to replace the destroyed crops. That has, naturally, affected the supply of potatoes to the industrial alcohol factories and the arrangements for utilisation of molasses have not yet been completed.
The Minister has evaded the whole point of the Deputy's question.
There is naturally an effect on the price by reduction of production. The estimate of the price that would be chargeable for the alcohol produced was based upon a certain production. If that production is not realised, the alcohol is going to cost more. I do not say that that need necessarily be reflected in the price charged to the consumers of it but the overhead charges will have to be borne on a smaller production and will, therefore, increase the cost per gallon or per unit of calculation.
The Minister stated that there was a differential between the price charged for petrol in the Twenty-Six Counties and the price charged in the Six Counties and there has been a reduction in the differential.
Well, I am speaking from recollection. That differential was modified some years ago as a result of representations.
The facts now are that we make allowances for the difference of customs duty and that we are paying £337,500 more for 36,000,000 gallons of petrol than we would be paying as against the Six-County rate of charges and the Minister's only answer to that is that there is always a differential between the price here and the price in the Six Counties; and the fact now is that it has been reduced and he can give no idea of what that differential was.
I said that I am speaking from memory.
To what extent has the price of petrol been raised here as a result of that?
A 1/2d. a gallon.
Before moving motion No. 3, I want to say that more than ten days ago, and again three or four days ago, there was a notification in the Press in reference to a series of statistics arising from the 1936 Census. Deputies have not got any copies of these census volumes. I want to ask the Minister what volumes have been issued, and what steps are being taken to circulate them to Deputies?
The volume about conjugal conditions and the volume about religions. These are only two of the reports made of the census. The remaining volumes will be made available as soon as possible.
Perhaps the Minister would like to indicate what additional volumes will be issued in the near future. There is also another matter about which I want to put a question to the Minister. I indicated already that there are about 5,000 boys leaving the national schools in Dublin every year. As a matter of fact, there is a report from the Juvenile Advisory Board that they are able to do very little to place these boys in occupations. I would like to ask the Minister would he consider the feasibility of making a census during the coming summer of the number of boys, say up to 19 or 20 years of age in Dublin who are looking for work?
Does the Deputy mean a census other than the register?
Yes, a census other than the register. That is the preparation of a particular type of inquiry form that would be circulated. That would be about young boys leaving school this year, or boys who have left school in the last year or two and who are in much larger numbers than the numbers that are presenting themselves at the employment exchanges. These boys are looking to where they can get a start in industrial life here. Many of them are too young to take the steps they would naturally be inclined to take if they were a little older—that is to emigrate. There is a very keen problem in this connection in the City of Dublin and an inquiry form could easily be drafted and an inquiry made about September or October this year. That could be done in rather an inexpensive way and it would bring a lot of valuable information as to the boys above the school-leaving age who have not got into employment. The inquiry could be conducted so as to bring in boys up to 20 years of age. The Minister will never understand the kernel of the problem that requires to be dealt with in the matter of industrial development in the City of Dublin without a systematic and a scientific plan.
In the discussions that have taken place here to-day there has been natural arguing on the part of provincial Deputies that the industries that are in the provinces should be protected and should be made sound and stable. Nobody will question their right to argue that. On the other hand it is a natural tendency for population to circulate to the larger accumulations of population. Apart altogether from the tendency for population to circulate towards Dublin from the rural areas there is the natural growth of population in the City of Dublin that must find an economic outlet for itself in increased commercial and industrial work in the City of Dublin. The growth of employment that there is in that city at the present time is not able to absorb any very big fraction of the young people who are leaving school and now is the time to get an inquiry into that position. It could be easily done. I think if it were done during the current year it would give us a picture of a particular part of the social and economic life of Dublin, a picture that it would be most valuable to have. I say again that it is the kernel of the problem that the Minister has in the employment or unemployment situation in the City of Dublin.
Before the Minister answers that, I want to say that there is one feature in connection with it that he should have in mind. That is, the danger of suggesting to the young boys in question that they are all to get jobs. In the corporation we go round and take names in connection with various matters, such as housing, and immediately we have numbers of people saying: "We are to get houses." Unless that is made plain now, you would have a remarkable demonstration here in Dublin afterwards if you do not provide those boys with jobs.
I was going to say at first sight that it would not be an easy matter to do what Deputy Mulcahy asks. There are a number of difficulties, but these may resolve themselves.
When the Minister considers the very intricate work that has been so magnificently and perfectly done by the census staff for the general census, he will find that certainly there is no real intricacy in the kind of inquiry that I am now suggesting. It can be scientifically done, and it can bring a lot of useful information to the public. I appreciate Deputy Kelly's point about the hopes that may be stirred up in these people's breasts. But the hope is there, and if an inquiry of this kind is in any way able to justify that hope, I think it will be well worth doing. The Minister will never have a real picture of the kernel of the problem in Dublin until something of the kind is done.
The census volumes issued are Volume I—Part I, relating to populations of the different areas, and Volume V—Part I, relating to ages and conjugal conditions. Volume II (Occupations) and Volume III (Religions and Birthplaces) will be issued in a few months time. The volume issued recently was No. V—Part I. The volumes have been numbered as on the last occasion. The volumes do not appear in the order in which they are numbered.
I move motion No. 3:—
That the Estimate be reduced by £10 in respect of sub-head K.
I just want to ask the Minister what is the explanation of the reduction in the amount of money being provided for mineral exploration? The Minister rather indicated at one particular time to-day that he had given a complete report recently on what had been done in the matter of mineral exploration. I would like to ask him if he would mention the circumstances under which that statement was made, and where we can refer to it; and, in the second place, what is the meaning of the reduction in the amount?
The amount required in any year depends entirely upon the explorational projects in contemplation in that year. If any new project should emerge during the course of the year, for which additional money would be required, then we would get it by means of a Supplementary Estimate, as we have done in the last year. The statement as to the present activities under that section of the Department, to which I referred in my opening statement, was made by me here some weeks ago on a Supplementary Estimate to provide additional funds for that service. The amount provided for here is the amount required to complete the payments to which we are already committed under the projects that have been approved of.
Can the Minister say what those projects were?
The gypsum exploration in the Carrickmacross area, and the coal exploration at The Swan, in Leix. Those are the only two works of any magnitude which are proceeding at the moment. There may be, and probably will be, others during the course of the year, but it is not possible to provide for them in those Estimates because the extent of the cost cannot be known as yet.
I move motion No. 4:—
"That the Estimate be reduced by £5,000 in respect of sub-head L (1)."
Really I think it should be reduced by more. I do not at all see how the Prices Commission can be worth spending £14,000 or £15,000 on under the present circumstances. They inquired into bacon last year. Their report was published I think in October. It drew attention no doubt to facts that we all knew. It drew attention to very serious profiteering on the part of the bacon curers, but it was sat on for four or five months before it saw the light of day, and the Minister had so far forgotten it that he did not know what had happened to it. The same thing happened when the report on flour was issued in 1934. That also was sat on. The Prices Commission is asked to do its work in an atmosphere that I think must completely warp its whole mind. I indicated before that in the year 1937, the last year for which we have full figures with regard to consumption, our people paid £1,039,391 more for their bacon than they did in 1931, although the amount of bacon supplied was down by 31 per cent.
It is the Prices Commission and not the bacon curers we are discussing at the moment.
I am discussing the atmosphere.
Well, I am not responsible for the atmosphere; I am responsible for the Prices Commission.
I say that the Minister's policy is entirely responsible for the atmosphere in this country at the present time with regard to price levels.
The Deputy himself gives off some gas. That affects the atmosphere.
I did not hear the Minister, but I want to deal with certain effects of the atmosphere in which the Prices Commission has got to work, and in which we cannot possibly expect to get £15,000 worth of value out of it. As I say, in 1937 the people paid £1,039,391 more for bacon than they did in 1931, and the quantity of bacon they got for it was down by 31 per cent.
How much did the farmers get for their pigs?
How much? Would the Minister tell us?
I merely ask the question.
I do not know what the farmer got for his pigs.
It is a most relevant consideration. The Deputy should have taken the trouble to find out.
There are so many aspects of this that appeal to me in relation to the Prices Commission that I can only deal with a few of them. While the Irishman was consuming that amount of bacon and paying that additional price for it, this was the position: The difference between what the Englishman had to pay for the Irishman's bacon compared with what the Irishman had to pay for his bacon was as follows:—In 1931 the Irishman paid 7/- a cwt. less for his bacon than the Englishman paid the Irishman for the Irishman's bacon. That was all right until 1932, when the Irishman paid 1/6 more for his bacon than the Englishman paid the Irishman for his bacon.
The Irishman buying his own bacon in 1933 was at a disadvantage of 16/- a cwt. In 1934 he was at a disadvantage of 30/- a cwt. In 1935 he was at a disadvantage of 30/6 a cwt. In 1936 he was at a disadvantage of 38/- a cwt., and in 1937, the Irishman had to pay 76/- a cwt. more for his own bacon than the Englishman paid the Irishman for his bacon. All that what I call the Government Press had to say about it, arising out of a discussion at the Women's Industrial Federation the other day, was:—
"Bacon is becoming a political gag. It is beginning to get a laugh. The Englishman used to laugh at the Irishman's pigs. Now the Irishman laughs at the Irishman's bacon."
That is a good joke.
At the same time the Englishman was buying bacon from Denmark.
On a point of order, it seems to me that the Deputy who has moved to reduce the Vote for the Prices Commission is in fact paying a tribute to it. He is quoting information made available by the Commission, and is addressing his remarks to facts revealed by it in relation to the bacon curing industry.
An Leas-Chean Comhairle
As a matter of fact, it would appear to me that the Deputy is going a bit wide of his motion. The Deputy's remarks would be more relevantly addressed, I should say, to a motion in connection with the Bacon Report.
I want to say that that was the position as far as bacon was concerned. We have got a report from the Prices Commission——
I hope the Deputy will not go into detail about any further reports. We are dealing now with a specific matter. The general policy of the Department has already been discussed and decided upon. The Deputy should confine himself strictly to what is dealt with by the motion on the Order Paper.
I am saying it is not worth spending £15,000 on the Prices Commission. In October last the Prices Commission reported a serious position with regard to bacon prices. It reported a serious position with regard to the profits made by the bacon curers. Not a thing in the world has been done arising out of that report.
That is not true.
It was lost in the Minister's office for four months. It was so lost that he was able to say in this House that we were so ignorant and so careless that we had not read it, although we had not an opportunity of reading it. That is the position with regard to bacon. The position with regard to flour is that the people are still paying through the nose for the flour, that huge profits are being made by the millers in spite of the fact that the Prices Commission reported four years ago that very substantal profits were being made.
There are two reports bearing on matters that are vital for the ordinary lives of the people and they have been completely ignored. The general atmosphere of prices in the country is that, as I say, the people are paying £1,000,000 a year for two-thirds of the amount of bacon they used to consume in 1931, and that they are paying £1,100,036 more for butter than in 1931. They are eating an increased quantity of butter, no doubt to make up for the lesser quantity of bacon they are consuming. In regard to wheat, the atmosphere of the Prices Commission is coloured by the fact that there is a smaller quantity of wheat and flour used—2 per cent. or 3 per cent. less— but the people are paying £2,917,000 more for the amount they are using. As I say, the net effect is that there is £4,985,000 piled on to the bill of the people of the country for bacon, butter and wheaten flour through Government policy. Yet the Prices Commission has been asked to take into consideration the condition of the people and not to allow them to be overcharged, when the whole policy of the present Government is to raise the cost of living for the people. That is one aspect of the matter. The second aspect is that new duties have been put upon the Prices Commission arising out of the Anglo-Irish Agreement made in the beginning of last year. In the first place, I do not believe that the Prices Commission could do that work.
It is their work, given to them by the Dáil. I did not give them that work. The Dáil did.
I do not believe it is worth while spending £15,000 to do that work, because they cannot do it. The terms of the Agreement with Great Britain are terms that were absolutely out of date as a practical approach towards arriving at an international trading agreement.
What sort of agreement would the Deputy make?
If the Minister had adopted the proposal I made, and that Deputy Childers suggested in a different form he would accept, if he were to approach a review of our industrial situation here, and our possible industrial development during the next five years, as the Australians indicated would have to be done in the agreement they signed with the British in July last, it would be possible for the Prices Commission to get some kind of a clear picture as to what were the real foundational lines on which industrial developments here were to be built up and safeguarded. They would be able, perhaps not at the moment, but in a couple of months, to do safely and satisfactorily the work which the Minister is asking them to perform. As I understand, what is being done now is that individual manufacturers are being invited into a back room in the Minister's Department——
There is no such thing as a back room in my Department.
At any rate, they are invited into a room where nothing very much will be known of what is going on. They are being catechised and brow-beaten, and made to understand that if they do not do their business in a particular way, if they do not scale their profits in a particular way, they are going to feel the displeasure of the Department.
Is the Prices Commission responsible for that?
For the Minister's back-room?
The Prices Commission is dealing with some inquiries at the present moment, not publicly, but by taking industrialists before them, ordering them to do certain things, and suggesting that it would be better for them to do a particular thing rather than run the risk of inquiry before the Prices Commission. Instead of reasonable inquiry at which the facts could be brought out, there is a kind of Star Chamber procedure.
By the Prices Commission?
Yes, by the Prices Commission, for which we are asked to pay this £15,000. It is hard to blame them, because the facts of our industrial policy are so obsecure, and the ramifications of our industrial programme are so peculiar, that it might not be easy to conduct an inquiry of which a full report would be taken. I oppose the granting of this money, firstly, because of the Government's attitude towards a reduction of prices that really matter, an attitude that would rather induce the Prices Commission to allow prices to be kept up than to reduce them.
In the second place, the approach of the Minister towards delineating his industrial policy is such that the Prices Commission cannot carry out their work in a reasonable way. My third reason for opposing it is that under the conditions in which they find themselves the Prices Commission are conducting their business in a way in which they should not conduct it.
I merely rise lest a wrong impression might be created by interruption of the Minister when he said that the farmer was getting all this money. There was some mention of £1,000,000 and he said that the farmers were getting it all and that the consumer had to pay that.
I merely asked a question. I emphasised the fact that I was merely asking a question.
The facts are that the farmer was only one of the parties concerned. There are curers, millers and people in charge of the admixture scheme also concerned in this matter. Between the lot of them they have driven the farmer out of production of bacon to the extent of 10,000 sows last year. I could add another 10,000 sows for this year. There is a shortage of between 15,000 and 20,000 sows now so the Minister had better not get away with a wrong impression from the arguments used. I rise merely to state these facts.
So far as I can recall Deputy Mulcahy's remarks, he said the amount provided for the Prices Commission should be reduced because, he thought, the Government had not acted on its recommendations and because it was too effective in its dealings with industrialists. On the first point, I can say that the Prices Commission, in relation to flour, recommended that the price should be fixed having regard to a particular formula, and secondly, that the price of bread should be controlled. Legislation to control the price of bread has been enacted and, as regards flour, an assurance was received from the flour millers that they would conform to the Prices Commission's recommendations. The report on bacon was furnished to the Government last October, and proposals for legislation arising out of the report have already been prepared and will shortly be submitted to the Dáil. I cannot agree with the Deputy that the Prices Commission has exceeded its functions in its present dealings with industrialists. I am quite prepared to argue with the Deputy whether there should be a Prices Commission at all or not. I am prepared even to admit that the logical development of Government policy would not involve the existence of a Prices Commission, but we are not all logical in these matters, and sometimes we have to depart from the ruthless line of development that we would otherwise pursue. We have established the Prices Commission and, having done so, we are naturally anxious that it would be as effective as possible. I do not propose to interfere in any way with the activities of the commission in securing the regulation and adjustment of prices, even though their methods may be described as those of a Star Chamber, by the Deputy or anyone else.
The position is that the Minister completely washes his hands of the situation, but accepts the commission's recommendations.
Will the Minister say what he means?
I am not committing myself to accepting the recommendations of the Prices Commission in any matter bearing on the control of prices. I accept their recommendations only when I consider they are founded on wise arguments and proper appreciation of facts.
The Minister has not indicated what steps he proposes to take to keep the House informed on the questions that have been put to the Prices Commission, either arising out of applications from Great Britain, or out of actions of his own, or applications from other persons.
I think all such references are officially published.
In the official journal—Iris Oifigiúil.
In view of what the Minister says, that he has, in a kind of way, put the Prices Commission entirely out on its own and does not interfere in any way, would he undertake to publish monthly a statement about the matters that have become the subject of inquiry by the Prices Commission? Would he also issue monthly a statement of the things on which the Prices Commission have reported, and undertake to put in the Library a copy of the reports of the commission as soon as they have been made to him?
I could not undertake that. As I stated before, a report from the Prices Commission might contain information concerning the business of individual firms that should not be made public in the ordinary way. In cases in which such did not arise, there would, ordinarily, be no objection to publication, but I think the Minister must retain his discretion in that matter. As to matters sent to the commission, the position is that all such references are published by advertisements in the daily papers. If at any time the Prices Commission is requested to undertake, or is about to undertake any investigation, whether for the purpose of a tariff review or a price investigation, the fact is published in the Press.
The Minister indicated that a large number of questions had gone before the Prices Commission for inquiry, and it is not easy for Deputies to carry these details from the daily newspapers. It is important that we should have, in a convenient form, an opportunity of looking at a list of the cases before the commission on the one hand, and on the other hand looking at, in a convenient form, a list of reports made by the Prices Commission, whether the Minister considers that they are of a kind that could be made public or not.
Any Deputy who applies to the Department for particulars of matters referred to the Commission can be supplied with them. I will undertake to do that. The majority of the reports of the Prices Commission recently received are very formal in character. The Commission is not required to give detailed reports such as were given by the old Tariff Commission. Any reports I have seen are merely reports to the effect that they have investigated that they have interviewed certain persons, and that they came to conclusions, without giving facts or the reasons that led to those conclusions. Reports of that kind would not ordinarily be published.
I move motion No. 5:—"That the Estimate be reduced by £10 in respect of sub-head M (1)." It is very difficult to understand what is happening with regard to the turf situation generally. In the first place, we had a Turf Act some years ago that seemed to indicate that there was going to be very elaborate use of turf, and districts were marked out in which only turf would be used as fuel. That has been completely forgotten, and the system by which the bags of turf were to be distributed in parts of the country and at a flat price in Dublin has been forgotten. Then there was the case that happened yesterday, where the Meath Board of Health rescinded a resolution passed a couple years ago deciding to use turf in future. They have now gone back to coal.
Deputies will have seen notices that appeared in Iris Oifigiúil from time to time, concerning a large number of turf co-operative societies that have been wiped out of existence. The general position there indicates that something has gone radically wrong with what was propaganda, about the big scheme for using turf throughout the country as a whole, and in particular to assist the western and poorer districts. As a contrast to that, very substantial sums of money are being spent in other directions in particular developments. The Minister indicated in the discussion that took place in the House last year, that at the end of that year, he hoped to be in a position to report on the success or otherwise of certain experiments, upon which a considerable amount of money had been spent. I asked him at that time what way he intended to report, as I intended at some time to put down a question to get particulars. I am moving this motion in order to get from the Minister a statement as to what is the position with regard to the original and widely propagandised claim for assisting the ordinary turf cutting industry. I want to know when we may expect, and in what form, a report as to the success or otherwise of the experiments to which he referred at the end of last year.
I should like to get some information on this subject. A very substantial sum of money is involved under this sub-head, nearly £70,000 for this year. Although there is a reduction of over £5,000 in the grant for the Turf Development Board, we are still asked to vote the very substantial sum of £16,000 as a Grant-in-Aid to that board. We should like to know how that £16,000 is expended by the board, what particular work they do for it, and what value, if any, the country is getting for the expenditure of that money.
I do not know that it would be fair to draw any particular conclusions from work in the bogs last year, because we know that it was a particularly unfavourable year for the saving of turf, but, as Deputy Mulcahy says, there seems to be a great falling off in the enthusiasm of the Government for this turf drive we had a couple of years ago, which led to the introduction of what was from the very beginning a completely absurd and unworkable measure, the Turf Act. The only sensible thing the Minister did in respect of that Act was that, having secured the maximum publicity and the full benefit of whatever propaganda could be got for it, he immediately put it on the shelf and forgot all about it. The facts, of course, are that, far from compelling anybody to burn turf for the last couple of years, those people who always burn turf were unable to get it, and great numbers of people, during the winter just past and up to the present day, had to burn coal for the first time in their lives, because they were unable to get out of the bogs the turf which had been made and saved there. But there is a very substantial sum of money of over £70,000 involved and I doubt if any member of the House has got any picture whatever of what return we are getting for that expenditure, over and above the ordinary turf cutting and saving that always went on.
There is no doubt at all that it is much more difficult to get supplies of turf for sale in the ordinary provincial town to-day than it was three, four or even ten years ago. The only attempt that I have seen to make turf what might be called a commercial commodity is the very fine attempt being made in the shape of turf-briquettes, but the difficulty with the briquettes, so far as the getting them into the ordinary provincial town is concerned, is that by the time freight is paid on them they are actually dearer than coal.
The Minister probably knows that, but the question is are we getting value for this very big sum of money, or can the Minister say that we are likely, in the near future, to get value for the amount of money going to be spent this year and which has been spent for the last three or four years.
Earlier this evening, I tried to get some information from the Minister——
I did not get a chance to reply yet.
——as to what is his policy. A few years ago, we heard a good deal about turf and, last year, we had an Estimate of £92,000 for turf development. This year, it is £70,000. If this is one of the natural resources of the country and its development is to be of great advantage to the country, one would imagine that the Estimate would have been increased. What I find fault with mostly is that administration costs account for £16,000 out of £54,000 for development which is roughly one third. That is exceedingly high. Practically one third of the money is being expended on administration costs. I think it is up to the Minister to let us know how that money is being expended. I travel a fair amount of the country in the West of Ireland and I do not see any great enthusiasm in the shape of increased burning of turf, and I am not aware that a number of the institutions throughout the country, of which the Government have control and to which huge grants are given, are sincere about the burning of turf.
There are two bogs mentioned in the Estimate, one in Kerry and another in some part of the Midlands. With the amount of money being expended, £73,000, £16,000 of which is for administration, there must be much more work done, and the Minister might enlighten the House as to the activities of the board. With regard to the different peat societies, he might give us some idea of what money has been realised from the money paid out for the development of bogs. He might also give the House an honest opinion as to whether he is serious about this matter. I know that the Minister for Defence was very keen on it two years ago, but since the Estimate was brought in, I have not seen him in the House. He always represented the Government at the national turf-cutting meetings, and he spoke very highly of turf. I think he told us that last year was the last year in which they would ask for a big sum, and that inside 12 months there would probably be great developments. The only developments we have seen in the Estimate is in respect of two bogs.
I want to ask the Minister a question with regard to sub-head M (4).
We are on motion No. 5—that the Estimate be reduced by £10 in respect of sub-head M (1).
I do not intend to move individually in respect of sub-heads M (2), M (3), M (4) and M (5), and perhaps the discussion could cover all the sub-heads, and the Minister could reply to all together.
I notice that there is a grant-in-aid of £50,000 for the development of Clonsast Bog. The figure was £60,000 last year. It seems a very big sum, and I should like the Minister to tell us if the number employed justifies this expenditure and what number of men are employed.
I should be interested to know what has damped the Minister's enthusiasm with regard to turf as revealed by the Estimate. I think his enthusiasm has become burned out and has disappeared in smoke, because I remember a time when the Minister was very enthusiastic about turf. I remember that we had a lot of fears when the Minister brought in a certain Bill providing for turf and coal quotas, but, as Deputy Morrissey said, the only decent thing he did was to put that measure on the shelf and not to operate it.
Deputy Morrissey is usually wrong in his statements.
It was never operated with regard to the quotas of turf and coal. That is true, in any case.
I should like to ask the Minister if any part of this money is going to be utilised for the purpose of advertisements such as "Burn more turf." Are we providing money for that? If so, I should like to tell him what effect that has had on some of his supporters down in our county. The board of health there is building a hospital at a cost of something around £100,000, and when we had the foundations in, the contractor wanted to know, through the architect, what fuel we were going to burn in our furnaces there as it was important for him to know. Out of our patriotism we said we were going to burn turf, because we had had all these advertisements through the country three years ago: "Burn more turf" and we had the Minister and all his people preaching that up and down the country, and we had the Minister's Party's "Truth in the News" telling us, and the Minister telling us down in Ballinasloe, that the whole future of this country, at least in the West of Ireland, rested with the product of the bogs in the west. So we decided to burn turf. Now, what we find this year is that, in the county home and the two hospitals in County Roscommon—we always burn all the turf we can get in addition to coal—we could not get any turf this year at all. I raised the matter with the board of health and pointed out the position we were in with regard to our new hospital for which we had provided turf burning furnaces.
The chairman of the board of health —a great admirer of the Minister— said that it was a very important matter to raise. As a matter of fact, he said in effect: "The Turf Development Board has let down all the turf societies in the country. That is the position, and we cannot get any turf. No turf is coming in, and we have no turf for our institution here, and if we cannot have turf for our new hospital we will have to start off with providing furnaces for the use of coal." We then addressed a letter to the architect, and, very fortunately as it turned out, he told us that, notwithstanding that turf-burning furnaces had been required, the present furnances could be used for dual purposes and we could burn coal in them.
Now, with regard to this business of turf and the development of bogs, I never had any faith in it, although I am a turf burner myself, and I say, just as in the case raised by Deputy Gorey a while ago with regard to pigs in this country, that you must judge everything by results. Notwithstanding all the Minister's advertisements, we are not putting in more turf than we were using previously, and the position now, apparently, is that we are abandoning it, or at least abandoning it to a certain extent. I should like to ask the Minister what is being done with regard to the development of the two bogs, Clonsast and Lyracrompane, mentioned here under two headings. Is it going to be hand-won turf or machine-made turf, or is it for the manufacture of briquettes, or is the Minister developing these two bogs by way of experiment in order to see what he can do to produce alcohol or some other substitute? At any rate, the Minister referred a while ago to industrial alcohol or some substitute of that kind. We are entitled to know that, and the Minister ought to tell us whether he has abandoned the hand-won turf idea down the country, or whether in fact he has abandoned all the turf societies in the country.
I do admit that a lot of good has been done by the turf societies as regards the draining of bogs and the making of roads, which was a great convenience to the people benefited by the draining of the bogs and who are using these roads, but the Minister has certainly allowed his enthusiasm to get burnt out, and I think it was burned out by coal and not by turf. If we are going to have any more of these advertisements, such as "Burn more turf," I say that it is going to be bad for the Minister and for the country. I do not want to have local authorities patriotically walking into this thing—of course, patriotically, we ought to burn turf, and all the Minister's friends preached that, and we decided to do so —and then find that they cannot get turf and that nobody can get it. If the wealth of this country is shut up in the bogs, then I am afraid we cannot get it out of them.
I remember that here, some time ago —possibly it was a year ago or more— the Minister brought in a Supplementary Estimate, I think it was, by way of grant to the Turraun Peat Works. What has become of these peat works? Are they ours, or do they belong to the Government? They do not appear here in the Estimate.
Are we working them, and are the works paying for themselves? Are the briquettes produced there a commercial proposition? According to what we hear from local authorities in the immediate neighbourhood of the place that used these briquettes they are at least one-sixth dearer than coal. If we cannot do better than that, we have no business providing public money for them. The Minister, however, should tell us why he has altered his whole outlook on turf because, according to that, he has altered his outlook.
The Turf Development Board, when originally established, was charged with the function of bringing into existence the co-operative turf societies and of organising the central marketing of the turf produced by those societies. It carried out that work, expending in the process a considerable sum of money, a large proportion of which went in the construction of bog works of various kinds and, in fact, most of the turf societies came into existence for the purpose of getting and using grants that were available for the construction of bog roads, and so forth.
When the turf societies, however, had been in existence for some time, it was decided by the board to abandon the central marketing of hand-won turf and allow each society to dispose of its own turf through its own efforts in its own locality, assisted, where necessary, by the Turf Development Board; and the Turf Development Board proceeded to undertake another form of activity, that is the production of machine-made turf on bogs owned by it and made by workers employed by it.
The first development of that kind was at Clonsast. Deputies referred to the amount of money that is provided here for that purpose. That is capital money. The total amount of money that will be invested in Clonsast will be considerably more than the amount voted this year, but that is the amount of capital money required this year. We anticipate that the Clonsast bog will commence production during this year. I do not know what joke Deputy Brennan was trying to make when he asked what product we hoped to produce, whether it was industrial alcohol or what. We intend to produce electricity. The mechanical production of turf at the Lyracrompane bog, in County Kerry, was commenced last year. That turf is on sale. The Turraun Peat Works, to which I think Deputy Brennan made reference, was purchased by the Turf Development Board from its original owners some years ago and is now in full production, producing machine-won turf which is being sold in the vicinity of the bog.
Is it paying for itself? It is not mentioned in the Estimate, and that is my reason for asking. Is it paying for itself?
Undoubtedly so. The Turraun bog had many disadvantages. It was not as large, as well drained, or as suitably located for this type of production as the turf board would have chosen. It had been undertaken as an experimental development by the late Sir John Griffith, and we had some regard to the amount of money put in by Sir John himself and his family, and to the enterprising public spirit he showed in undertaking that development, when we acquired the bog from him at the time we did. The whole organisation of the bog, however, has been improved; new machinery has been installed, new methods of production introduced, and it is providing more successful than we anticipated when we purchased it. The Clonsast development is a much larger development altogether.
Is Turraun carrying on without any Government assistance or subsidy?
It is being carried on by the Turf Development Board.
And part of the £16,000 goes to help it?
The £16,000 goes to meet the costs of the operations of the Board. The operations of the board are many and varied. They are not merely concerned with the operations at Turraun, Clonsast and Lyracrompane, but they are carrying out investigations all over the country and are preparing plans for the development of other bogs. They are doing an amount of research work of that of character, in addition to advising the turf development societies. The reduction in the Vote under subhead M.I is due to the fact that the amount of assistance given by way of inspectorial visits to turf societies has been reduced. The staff of the board has been lessened.
Turraun is apparently the property of the Government?
Through the Turf Development Board.
Are there any accounts kept by anybody? Are we getting any money from it? What is happening there?
Each of the schemes is not merely completely independent of the other, but is entirely economic. The turf is being sold at a price which covers the cost of production.
The position is that we do not know we have it.
If the Deputy would stop talking for a moment I might be able to explain the position. This is a commercial undertaking and it is being run as such. The Grant-in-Aid that appears in the Vote is due entirely to the fact that the Government considers it a wise policy to meet the total charges of the Turf Development Board as distinct from any charges incurred by reason of commercial undertakings conducted by the Board. As regards the board's commercial undertakings the production of turf at Lyracrompane, Clonsast and Turraun is on a commercial basis. The board has other functions, but it is supervising these enterprises, which will be the forerunners of a number of others of a similar character. We are proposing to undertake a similar development on a bog in Kildare during the course of this year; at least, to begin the development, because it takes some years to get a bog to the stage when production is possible. The necessary surveys and other preliminary work are being carried out in connection with similar schemes on bogs in Donegal and Galway.
The amount provided for Clonsast bog is part of the total capital to be invested in the enterprise. The enterprise will be entirely independent and will, I believe, yield a profit. When production begins, and it will begin this year, it is anticipated that the employment which will be given there will embrace about 400 men. The turf, of course, which will be produced there this year will be disposed of for sale in the ordinary way, but when the electricity generating station has been established there it is anticipated that almost the whole of the production of the bog will be utilised in that station.
It is entirely incorrect to say that I have lost any enthusiasm for turf development. I think that it will prove in time to be by far the most important development that we have undertaken in these years. The application of mechanical science to the problems of turf winning will open up a new source of wealth of great importance to this country. Deputies may scoff at that, but in other countries they have succeeded in solving the technical and engineering problem of turf winning to such an extent as to make their peat resources a real source of national wealth. We can do the same here. We are only at the beginning of what I think will prove to be a really important development in the economic life of this country.
We are not scoffing. We merely ask, the Minister why he introduced a Bill two or three years ago which he obviously did not want.
I am now dealing with the allegation that there is a falling-off in my enthusisam for peat. Far from there being any falling-off in my enthusiasm, I am confirmed in my faith in regard to the great possibilities ahead. That is all that has happened. I have every confidence that what I anticipated will be achieved, and I can view with perfect unconcern the scoffs and sneers and jeers of the unbelievers. In due course you will be all converted, and you will be denying emphatically that you ever opposed this development. Indeed, you will be claiming credit for having initiated it. Deputy Morrissey will stand in the Square at Nenagh, in front of the beautiful statue that is there, and he will be telling the citizens how he, and he alone, forced this Government to under take peat development. I can almost visualise that.
And he will have a great audience of turf societies and their members.
The Minister is getting enthusiastic now: we are whipping up his enthusiasm.
I am merely trying to convey an air of quiet confidence. I have explained why there has been a reduction under sub-head M (1). The reduction under sub-head M (2) is due to the fact that we will not have as much turf for sale this year as in other years, and consequently the same amount of advertising will not be necessary.
As regards sub-head M (1) do I take it that the factory at Kildare which is making briquettes is completely independent of the Turf Development Board?
It is; it is operated by a private company. The amount provided for the development of Clonsast and Lyracrompane, the amount of capital which will be required this year, is of no real significance.
May I raise a question about coal, not turf? I think I should have raised this under an earlier sub-head, but I was not here. I should like to know what efforts, if any, is the Minister making to secure that there should be a greater supply of anthracite in the country. The Minister is, no doubt, aware that authracite stoves are being used to a greater extent and there is a great scarcity of anthracite nuts. I know it is difficult to get them in Wexford.
We have operations proceeding in that connection at Slieveardagh, but commercial development must depend on an amendment of the Mines and Minerals Act which we have in contemplation.
There is likely to be a considerable quantity of anthracite coming into the country unless the native supply can be developed.
Our imports exceed what can be produced at Castlecomer.
I should like to draw the Minister's attention to the fact that there was a considerable amount of disappointment among railway men and others that the Holidays Employees Act of 1938 did not come into operation in time to give them St. Patrick's Day as a holiday. I think that question was raised.
I propose to make an Order bringing the Act into operation about the middle of May. There have been representations that it should be done before Easter, but I think in the long run it would not be in the interests of the workers that that should be done. I explained when the Bill was before the Dáil why each of these Acts should be brought into operation some time in May. There is a period of three months during which workers in constant employment become entitled to their first annual holiday. If the Act is brought into operation in May they get that first annual holiday in June, July or August. If they do not get it in these months, it is possible that workers in continuous employment who would become entitled to holidays at some other season of the year would ordinarily get them at some other season. In the interest of these workers it is desirable, I think, that the Act should begin to operate some time in May. Even though it may mean that workers who would otherwise get paid for holidays at Easter will not get paid, it was not contemplated to bring it into operation earlier.