Committee on Finance. - Vote 55—Industry and Commerce (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:—
That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration (Deputy Hickey).

At the present time especially, and for that matter, at all times, the problem of unemployment, I am sure we all agree, holds the greatest interest for all of us. I consider it an appalling scandal that thousands of our people in an age of plenty should be deprived of the mere necessities of life. I believe that work should be found and found quickly for such people. Speaking with all seriousness, I am inclined to think that the Government, and indeed I must say most members of this House, are not facing the reality and gravity of the situation. I believe that if they were, we should now be trying to mobilise the resources of the country, by which means we might arrive at some solution of the problem. The Taoiseach in his broadcast recently to the people of the nation appealed for co-operation with a view to ending opposition to the institutions of the State and pleaded for ordered conditions in this country. I want to say to the Minister in all sincerity that I believe much of the disorder and unrest in this country is due to poverty and privations arising out of the unemployment problem. I have the experience daily of meeting men with large families who have been unemployed for two, four and five years with the exception of four or five days per week for some months of the year. I meet daily young men from 19 to 23 years of age who have not yet been given the opportunity of earning a week's wages. I have some knowledge of the thoughts that these men have and what they think about the present social system. I want to say to the Minister that with these rigid regulations, employment period orders and means tests, you are creating a revolutionary spirit amongst young men in the country. I have known a number of these men who are anxious to work and who cannot get work, and they are even taken off the unemployment lists because it is alleged that they are not genuinely seeking employment.

I want to point out to the Minister that some of the regulations are contrary to reason and justice. We have at the moment a large amount of casual unemployment in the building and shipping trades. I often wonder does the Minister or responsible people in his Department realise the irritation which these regulations create in the minds of our young men in cities and towns. Under the system at present in operation, if a man is employed on Monday and Tuesday, gets a half day's work on Wednesday and Thursday and is again unemployed on Friday and Saturday, he will get no benefit from unemployment assistance or the unemployment insurance fund. He can continue under that system of casual employment for a whole year and never draw as much as a solitary penny from the unemployment funds. If he works on Monday and Tuesday and is idle on the following two days, he can then draw six days' benefit in a period of two weeks. Will anybody say to me that a man who is anxious and willing to work and who is deprived of benefit when he cannot get work under the system which I have mentioned, can have any respect towards the State or the institutions of the State? We have also a regulation in unemployment insurance whereby a man has to sign and undergo a six days' waiting period without receiving any benefit whatever. If, on the sixth day, he happens to get a day's work he will lose any benefit for the previous five days for which he had signed. He will start all over again on the following week and will have to sign for six further waiting days. These regulations operate very harshly against dockers, builders labourers and men engaged in that seasonal kind of work. I want to suggest to the Minister that as long as we have that system of unemployment insurance benefit we shall have nothing but unrest and disregard and disrespect for the system that tolerates it.

The Minister stated recently in a letter to the Clare County Council that unemployment assistance was intended merely to help unemployed persons over a period, as far as resources of the State would permit. I want to say to the Minister and to the House that the theory underlying the Unemployment Assistance Act was that no person who was willing to work would be allowed to want for the necessaries of life. Clearly the necessaries of life mean food, clothing and shelter as a minimum. We have at the moment over 100,000 unemployed in the State, and how are we facing that problem? To keep a family of five or more persons, we allow 23/- a week. In other words we value family life on the basis of allowing for seven or more persons a mere pittance of 23/- or 25/- per week. I want to say that the Government and the people of the country generally, but particularly the members of this House, are not facing up to the realities of the situation. I think it is time for us to recognise that there is need for a new conception of economic life, not only a policy of action to meet the present situation but a new theory of social organisation to facilitate the evolution of a new social and economic programme to meet the changed circumstances of the present day. We had an illustration of that recently when Mr. Lloyd George, a man who has had a very wide experience of dealing with social problems, stated that all parties must fearlessly recognise that the old machinery of wealth production and wealth distribution had broken down and must be reconstructed and made new. I want to say to the Minister that we shall have to think very seriously along these lines in the near future. I think it will be admitted by any reasonable person that, given an efficient organisation of production and distribution, we could provide here adequate supplies of food, clothing and shelter for every section of the community. I know the Minister will ask me, how is that to be done. My answer is, that before we can tackle it with any hope of success we must have control of the credit of the country.

The Deputy is now making a Budget speech.

I expect I have been. We have to face the position that, at the moment, we have not control of our financial system. While that is so, I believe we cannot get rid of the crime, because it is a crime, of having thousands of people waiting to produce, and thousands of people waiting to consume. I can quote a very high authority for that statement, the chairman of the largest banking system in the world, a one-time war Chancellor of the Exchequer in England, Mr. Reginald McKenna, who said, in effect, that those who control credit hold the destinies of the people in the hollow of their hands.

I think the Deputy must hold that speech for the Second Reading of the Finance Bill.

The one serious position in the country to-day is that of the unemployed. I want to put their position in all seriousness to the Minister. I do not want to exploit their position. I am simply saying all this in order to bring home to the Minister the seriousness of the situation. I have a very clear realisation of what their position is, due probably to the fact that I hold a certain position. I have people coming to me day after day expressing their minds to me. Because of the fact that I want to see ordered conditions maintained in the country, I suggest to the Minister that he will have to face up to the present position and seek a remedy for it. We must all view with great concern the amount of irritation which the means test imposes on unemployment assistance applicants. When I spoke on this before, and urged that certain things should be done, the Minister gave a quotation from one of the Encyclicals of the late Pope—that the poor we shall always have with us. I can quote for the Minister words that were used by the Pope on another occasion when he said, in effect, that the despotic economic domination of the people would continue until such time as we had control of the currency of the country. Until we get control of that, I am afraid that our unemployment problem will remain with us.

I do urge on the Minister that something should be done to get rid of the irritating conditions imposed on applicants for unemployment assistance. In England the position is that an unemployed docker or builder's labourer can have three days' work in the week and still get three days' unemployment benefit at the labour exchange, while in this country a man may work four half-days or three half-days in the week and cannot get either unemployment benefit or unemployment assistance. The means test, as applied here, imposes, in my view, a cruel hardship on the unemployed. I ask the Minister to take serious notice of what I have said because I want to assure him that the position is much more serious than many seem to realise.

Two points of view seem to be expressed in this debate on the general industrial question. It would appear that the main Opposition Party realise now that the policy of self-sufficiency, in the light of present circumstances at any rate, is the only possible policy, and would seek to remove certain disabilities under which industrialists are labouring. On the other hand, Labour agrees with the policy, and always have so far as I know, of industrial expansion, and of protection generally. On Friday, however, Deputy Norton, when speaking on this Estimate, made the charge that nothing had been done during the present Government's tenure to increase employment. This viewpoint, to me at any rate, is not readily understandable, because we can all see for ourselves the number of factories which have been erected throughout the country since the present Government came into office. A cursory glance through official statistics shows that, during the year 1938, the gross industrial output was approximately £32,000,000 more than in 1931. I should also like to say that recent expressions of opinion at the annual meetings of industrial concerns go to support the contention that our factories have been doing good work and are producing products which can compare with the products turned out in any country in the world. At the ordinary general meeting of Messrs. Arnott & Co., Ltd., Dublin, on the 12th March last, Mr. William Nesbitt, the chairman, said:

"That while present conditions made the task of their buyers anxious and difficult, many of the new factories were rising to the occasion in a very creditable way. The quality, finish and variety of their products," he said, "are greatly improved, and indeed in the circumstances to-day we may feel grateful for the energy and perseverance of our late Minister for Industry and Commerce, as without those sources of supply we might well be in an awkward position."

At the ordinary general meeting of Todd, Burns & Co., Ltd., Dublin, held on the 28th March, Mr. L.G. Sherlock, LL.D., who presided, in the course of his statement, said:

"Attention should be directed to the fact that their factories had been more than successful. They were working at peak production, and, because of the quality of the work done and the excellent value offered, they were able to secure increasing orders from the wholesale trade."

These are only two of the many speeches of a similar kind delivered recently which Deputies can read for themselves in the Press. They pay high tribute to our industrialists and to the work that is being done in our factories generally. One thing, at any rate, is clear to me, and should, I think, be clear to all, namely, that our efforts towards self-sufficiency must at this juncture be more than ever intensified, and serious efforts made to remove any disability which affects maximum efficiency in industry. We must plan with a view to learning from our past efforts. Unrest in industry here has undoubtedly stemmed progress, and to obtain a better understanding as between employers and employed is, I suggest, the immediate task to-day. I hold that our industries have not had the chance that they should have had during the last ten years. When one consults the statistical abstract it is amazing to find that from 1931 to 1938 we had a constantly increasing number of industrial disputes in the country. In 1931 the number of such disputes was 60; in 1932, 70; in 1933, 88; in 1934, 99; in 1935, 99; in 1936, 107; in 1937, 145; in 1938, 137, making a total of 805 industrial disputes during a period of eight years—an average of 100 a year. In the face of that, the miracle to me is that there is any industry at all left in Ireland to-day. Of these 805 industrial disputes only 367 of them concerned questions of wages. It is obvious then that between the employer and the employee everything is not right.

It should be our immediate task and it will be the immediate task of the Government I hope, if no other method is available or no other method can be found, to see that that state of affairs is not permitted to continue. I do not want anybody on the Labour Benches to misunderstand what I am saying. I know that the worker who has his labour to sell has the only ultimate redress against bad conditions in the strike weapon, but it is the last weapon that should be used and I believe that some system should be hammered out by which strikes and the prevalence of strikes could be minimised. I would like to point out to the Labour Benches that for the last 40 years there has been in New Zealand a system by means of which wages have been determined by judicial legislation. Disputes involving unions there must be referred for final settlement to the court of arbitration. I am not advocating compulsory arbitration. I would like to hear the views of the Labour Deputies on some points of compulsory arbitration in relation to New Zealand, a country that has been held up to us as a land flowing with milk and honey. It is a country we are told that we might well copy whenever there is any industrial legislation needed to be carried through here.

Hear, hear!

I am glad to hear the Lord Mayor of Cork saying "hear, hear." I would like to ask the Labour Party whether they consider that compulsory arbitration has not done good?

What is Deputy McCann advocating? What are his views?

I interrupted no Deputy and I want to be allowed to proceed. Labour Deputies might remember that in New Zealand at one time compulsory arbitration had to be shelved and it was upon that that the Labour Government first got into power. No one can dispute that. What has been found to be good for us in one respect—borrowed from New Zealand—might be good in other respects. Consequently, I would like to hear Labour's views about compulsory arbitration in connection with the parallel between New Zealand and Ireland. I believe that there is need for an economic council for Ireland and I think that council might be well constituted first by a representative of the State; next by representatives of the employer; representatives of the workers and, lastly, representatives of the consumers. Whether that council would or would not solve these questions in relation to industrial disputes I do not know, but I think it should be given a trial, at all events, before we try what might at a later stage have to be adopted here. On this Vote I am not advocating legislation. It might work out towards obviating legislation in connection with industrial disputes.

I am glad that in his statement the Minister announced that a turf generating station was to be erected at Clonsast Bog. I think that is a tribute to the work of the late Sir John Purser Griffith, the man in whose writings many of us were keenly interested years ago. I believe the erection of that station is a sound idea. I believe that consequent upon the erection of that generating station we might yet develop on the lines that Sir John Purser Griffith indicated years ago. Other countries, particularly Germany, manufacture a number of by-products from peat. I cannot enumerate all these now. I would like to know if there is a proper research department in connection with peat and if there is any intention on the part of the Peat Board to deal with numerous by-products of peat?

There is just a matter in connection with the Dublin Labour Exchange that I want to mention. Recently I put down a question in relation to that Exchange; I suggested that it was incommodious and insalutary. Despite the Minister's reply, I am informed that the conditions in the exchange still are deplorable. I would like to make an appeal to the Minister in relation to applicants who live in the new corporation areas. Some of them have to travel three or four miles to get to the labour exchange. Remember that they have often to travel that distance on wet days. Of course we all can very readily realise what it would cost them in bus fares. The appeal I make to the Minister is to consider the question of regional exchanges.

I want to make another appeal on behalf of superannuated men. The average trade union member pays to a fund which provides through his society for superannuation. Such a man works until he can no longer work. When he attains the age of 70 he has to discontinue working. He does not get a pension; he retires on a very small allowance from his society. This is the point I want to make to the Minister and perhaps he would bear it in mind and discuss it with the Minister for Local Government and Public Health. I suggest that together they might hammer out a scheme. When a man attains the age of 70 he is paid a small pension out of a fund towards which he has contributed over a period of 30 or 40 years. Because of that little help he is denied the benefit of the old age pension. I would like the Minister to examine what could be done about that matter. This man is not in the same position as the man who has a certain means or a man who can draw on a certain investment. I do not think that this little pension he gets from the society should be taken into account when computing his income. After all it only just amounts to the savings of 1/- or 2/- a week he might have put into a box over a period of 30 years. I feel that the Minister in collaboration with the Minister for Local Government and Public Health might hammer out some scheme by which cases of this kind, the little weekly pension from the trade union, would not be taken into account when computing the old age pension.

The Minister in his speech referred to strikes. At the present time these are very much in the public eye. I suggest that the employers and the workers should get together and see what they could do to obviate these strikes. I know for certain that no employer wants a strike. There is one aspect of the question that I am sure the Minister must have in mind, namely, the use and abuse of the Trades Disputes Act. There is another aspect of strikes, namely, that nobody would suggest that Labour embarks on a strike for fun. They suffer just the same as the employer suffers. There is no doubt about it that at the present time the rise in the cost of living is responsible for strikes. Just how much of that raising of the cost of living is due to Government action is a subject for controversy. Now, in other countries they have subsidised the cost of living. Of course, it may be argued that that is only a war measure—and, certainly, it is not a very desirable expedient— but the other alternative is that there should be a general lowering of the standard of living, and, inevitably, that would react on the lower-paid workers very unfavourably, not alone on their physical well-being but, ultimately, on the country at large.

There is another matter in connection with which I have been rather disappointed—and I did not see any reference to it in the Minister's statement. At the present time we are either cut off from a number of supplies or else these supplies are restricted or have risen enormously in price. In other countries a systematic effort is made to keep down waste, and such things as paper, glass, metal, and various other waste products, which are thrown out by the ordinary householder in a city of a population such as Dublin, are collected and carefully sorted out. On the other side, I understand, there has been some computation made as to the savings that have been made under this head, and I believe they amount to millions. I realise, of course, that over here in this country more difficulties would be encountered in connection with the cost of picking out the different articles. At the same time, however, nobody who travels through the City of Dublin in the early morning can fail to notice the number of people who go along and systematically search the dust-bins of the city. Very often, they leave half the contents of the dust-bins on the sidewalk, as a result of their search. I do not know to what extent the corporation is supposed to remove the contents of these dust-bins that are left on the sidewalks, but at any rate it leaves a very untidy city. Coupled with that, you can see children going along and taking a catalogue or some such book from a dust-bin outside a house, pulling off the leaves of the book, and casting them in the gutter or on the sidewalk. The result of all this is that it leaves a very untidy city—not forgetting, of course, the people who eat oranges in the street, and throw the orange peels on the sidewalk for people to slip on.

Those matters come under the Department for Local Government and Public Health.

Well, Sir, I think it comes in with regard to this matter of waste.

I do not think, Sir, that it has anything to do with this Vote.

Well, I do not suppose the Minister will accept responsibility for an orange peel. However, I shall leave the suggestion at the Minister's door.

Hoping he will slip on it?

However, there is another matter that I should like to raise in connection with this Vote. Deputy Norton, when speaking the other day, wanted the Irish manufacturers to produce 100 per cent. of the requirements of this country. Now, that hope seems to be very prevalent in a number of cases, but when one looks into it, one realises that it is an absolute impossibility. That is one of the problems that we have to face in this country. Over here, manufacturing is complicated and rendered difficult by the fact—and I believe there will be no contradiction about this—that we have the same range of varieties of goods as is called for in England. In other words, practically every sort or kind of manufactured goods might be called for in this country that is called for in England.

However, the volume is very different. I do not know whether the incidence runs to one-fortieth or one-hundredth, as compared with England, but the fact remains that the manufacturer who starts in here to supply this market has to choose between selecting a very limited and narrow range of manufacture, and manufacturing that particular range of goods very efficiently, and going out and manufacturing or trying to manufacture a range of goods that will land him into bankruptcy. The reason for that is apparent. The reason is that no single manufacturer, on the other side, has a monopoly and he knows that, even in one particular line alone, there will be 20 or even 100 different competitors. Now, when one expects the Irish manufacturer to supply the whole range of commodities in such a connection, he immediately gets into difficulties. I am afraid that, in this connection, the Minister's Department has rather helped the manufacturers here to incur a great deal of odium with the purchasing public, which our manufacturers do not deserve. What has happened is that the Government has put on a tariff—a very high protective tariff in some cases—and I take it that the attitude of the Government is that they will give the manufacturer protection in order to enable him to manufacture goods here and that, even if he does not manufacture goods, the public will still have to pay the price for the imported goods and that, therefore the Government will get the revenue in any case. Now, in my opinion, that has been the cause of the rise in prices of a great deal of goods which are not actually manufactured in this country, on which protective tariffs have been imposed, and which, the manufacturer will tell you, if you approach him, he has no intention of manufacturing.

To my mind, therefore, there should be a good deal of revision as to what goods can be manufactured efficiently in this country, and as to what should be let into the country after that. That problem is still further complicated by the Irish manufacturer, in some cases, being too greedy and asking for protection for a line of goods which is really only allied with the line of goods he is manufacturing —the result being that people are forced, through the consequent rise of costs, to take the line which is manufactured here, at a greater price than they would have to pay otherwise. I suggest to the Minister that a wholesale revision is required to see what is tariffed legitimately for the protection of industry and what is merely tariffed to an enormous extent which the producer has to pay.

That brings me to another phase of industry to which I would direct the Minister's attention. It is, I think, properly the function of the Prices Commission; but I have some difficulty in that the functions of the Prices Commission seem to run in and out between the Department of Supplies and the Department of Industry and Commerce. Some of the functions come under this Vote and some under the Vote for the Department of Supplies and it would take a very intensive study to discover exactly just how much comes under this Vote and how much under the Vote for the Department of Supplies. But I am raising a matter which, whether it is common to both Ministers or not, is an evil which I think was not properly realised when the very considerable industrial tariffs were put on for the benefit of manufacturers.

Before the present industrial drive this country was very unequally weighted industrially. There were few manufacturing concerns and the distribution was carried out in a rather peculiar manner. Owing to proximity to the shores of Great Britain, a whole lot of wholesale and almost semi-retail people travelled the country for orders to be executed in other countries.

The position is that the distributors in this country form a very important body. They are probably second only to the manufacturers. I suggest to the Minister that they have been placed in an invidious position. Before the advent of very high tariffs, if a distributor, whether wholesale or retail, had to complain of the treatment which he received from a particular manufacturer, he had the remedy in his own hands; he could deal with another manufacturer. Probably, by reason of this, a system of economy was established which worked fairly well, namely, that if manufacturers did not conform to ordinary trading ideas they had to suffer the consequence. Now the position is quite different. In a great many cases there is only one Irish manufacturer in a certain line and he can establish what trading conditions he likes for the distributing trade, and if they do not like these conditions they have no remedy, because they have no other manufacturer to whom they can turn. I do not know how far the Minister might lend a sympathetic ear to stories such as this: that a distributor would say that formerly he was treated by manufacturers in a certain way and that now he was faced with conditions which amounted to "take it or leave it" by a local manufacturer; that he had to send goods by the railway which the manufacturer would deliver to his own customers at a cheaper rate. The Minister may ask how this comes under the Vote for his Department. I suggest that the Prices Commission, when considering a tariff or inquiring into the revision of a tariff or the prices to be charged, have consistently refused to hear what the retailer has to say about getting a proper return on the goods he has to sell.

One of the matters that are always exercising people in this country is how it is that so many people have, nominally, been put into industry and yet the total in employment does not appear to be increasing. I have made a list of a number of firms who were engaged in selling, amongst other things, one particular article, and who have gone bankrupt, gone out of business, or whose business has changed hands within the last 12 months as a result of the policy that I have been referring to. These firms all sold one particular commodity which I have in mind and I have marked them A, B, C, D, E, F, G. According to my computation, these firms had employees numbering 190. These employees have lost their employment or perhaps found other employment at a lower scale or something like that. The change-over along those lines for the whole country must be pretty considerable. I suggest that the Minister, I do not say deliberately, but probably without thinking of it, has brought in a certain number of foreign manufacturers, giving them a prohibitive tariff behind which they can manufacture in this country, and that he has delivered over his own nationals, who are engaged in the other section of that trade, bound hand and foot. I suggest to the Minister that he should see that unfair trading, or a radical departure from previous methods of manufacturers such as I have outlined in some instances, should be discouraged.

As a further instance of the kindliness of some Irish manufacturers towards those engaged in distributing their goods. I am going to read the gross profit allowed in one particular case, under a series of five items. On the first item the distributor, who has to pay all his establishment charges and make a profit, is allowed 13 per cent. gross, on the second item 9 per cent., on the third item 6 per cent., on the fourth item 3 per cent., and on the fifth item nothing. Is it any wonder that people are going out of business in certain lines? An alteration in prices may be brought about, either by a demand for the revision of the tariff which, I understand, might come from the other side of the Channel, and would be investigated under the Minister's Department, or revision by the Prices Commission, in which case it would come from the Minister for Supplies. I suggest to both Ministers that, in revising or looking into tariffs, people who have spent their lives in one section of a particular industry, and who are dealing with the public every day, are in a better position to give information than even the experts employed by the Departments. I heard once of an investigation by the Minister's Department and having listened to both sides of the case, the official concerned said: "I know one of you is lying, but I cannot tell which." I suggest to the Minister that, in a dilemma like that, the assistance of the distributing section of a trade would be a great help to the Departmental officials in making up their minds. I am raising these questions on the Minister's Vote, because I have an amendment down which dealt with only one aspect of the case.

In moving the Vote for £209,223 for his Department the Minister referred to the growing number of industrial disputes and resulting strikes, with great loss of time, less output and disorganisation generally of dependent industry, and said:

"I should prefer that, in this matter, employers and workers should themselves take the initiative and come together to consider and solve the problem."

This matter has been referred to by other Deputies, and I wish simply to say that the public generally would appreciate any effort which could be made towards a solution of such a very serious problem, but I am afraid pious wishes on the part of the Minister, that the two parties concerned would come together to discuss their differences, are not going to be very effective. I suggest that the Minister is in a position to take the responsibility upon himself of bringing the two parties together, and in trying to find a solution, and that some sort of industrial court or effective machinery should be set up to deal with disputes. Nobody wants to deny the right of workers to strike for their lawful and just rights, but I am sure workers generally, and their organisations in particular, will admit that strikes have very disastrous effects not only on employers but on employees. Within the last six months the present Minister for Industry and Commerce addressed two important bodies, the Federation of Irish Manufacturers and the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, and gave very clear expression to what he considered to be a very serious burden on agricultural production, namely the excessive prices charged here as a result of inefficiency and low output in some of the new industries. With your permission, Sir, I propose to read extracts from what the Minister is reported to have said.

The Deputy does not propose to read whole columns?

No. Referring to the improvement in industrial output in the decade ending in 1936, which continued to expand in 1937 and 1938, the Minister stated:

"Agricultural production, there was reason to believe, had remained virtually stagnant over the same period, while agricultural incomes had substantially declined."

He asked:

"How is it that Irish agriculture continues to languish, that the rural population continues to drift to the towns, and that our social evils and social discontents continue to be aggravated thereby"?

He continued:

"How can Irish farmers hope to increase their output and to expand profitably their export sales in order to employ themselves and their labourers fully, if internal costs continue to rise steadily against them. This goes to the very root of the problem. To a certain extent industrial economy is out of step with our agricultural economy, not because of any fundamental weakness in the policy of industrial development, but because many, though not all, of those who had the chance to put that policy into practical effect have not sufficiently adverted to the position of the Irish farmer and his labourer.

"Many of our new industries are enjoying the protection of very high tariffs. These were granted to safeguard them from being crushed at the start by dumping from abroad. They were not granted to enable them to run up charges against the consumer. Unfortunately, this fact would appear to have been lost sight of in some cases, so that occasion has been taken by workers and employers alike to inflate costs grossly against the community, so that their undertakings carry charges which bear no relation whatsoever to what can be earned on the land in Ireland."

That was what the Minister said in the course of an address to the Federation of Irish Manufacturers on January, 16th. When addressing the Chamber of Commerce on November 1st, 1939, the Minister, according to the Irish Press said:—

"The farmer has to produce efficiently because he has to sell competitively. Most of those engaged in our other industries are more fortunate, for they are strongly protected against competition in our markets but that does not relieve them of the obligation of producing efficiently.

"Sometimes it would seem as if some of them thought it did. The other day I had occasion to examine the costings of an undertaking which for a number of years has had the advantage of a high tariff. I found that even to-day the cost of doing a certain important job which is part of the ordinary routine of the factory is at least twice as much here as it would be elsewhere; that factory wastage due to bad and careless workmanship represents from 30 per cent. to 50 per cent. of the finished and passable product and the gross output is only about 85 per cent. of what is customary in the trade. And this after four or five years working."

I do not think I need quote any further. I agree absolutely with what the Minister said. I was very interested in both speeches. The Minister, certainly, went to the root of the question. I referred to it on other occasions and I take this opportunity to do so again.

Our Party is not opposed to industrial development, nor am I. We support industrial development. We appreciate the necessity for developing industry, but I suggest that our industrial policy must be made fit into our agricultural policy. It must be developed in relation to agriculture and not apart from and outside agriculture. That is what has happened here for the past few years—since this Government came into office. We had a strong industrial drive by the Minister's predecessor and an attempt made to develop all sorts of industries without any examination as to the consequences to, or reactions on, our main industry—agriculture. One would imagine that if the industrial policy was to be a sound and sane one, the responsible Minister would have said to himself: "We have here, in agriculture, an absolutely sound, wealth-producing industry; on this industry we must depend for furnishing us with the means whereby to import our requirements; any industries we set up must be of such a nature that they will not detrimentally affect agriculture." Many of the industries established have had a very serious effect, even a disastrous effect, on agriculture, and the Minister rightly expressed the view that inefficiency and low output were the causes. What does he propose to do about that matter?

We are living in very serious times— in a world crisis. There are, probably, opportunities for development of our agricultural industry which ought to be availed of, and availed of immediately. Improvement of the agricultural industry cannot be brought about if the cost of the raw materials of agriculture and the cost of manufactured goods in this country are going to rise step by step with the prices of agricultural products. If that is going to happen, there will be no hope of improvement for agriculture. It looks like happening and that is why I have put the question I did to the Minister. In his reply, I hope he will tell us what he proposes to do. I suggest that there is an opportunity at present for lowering a number of these high tariffs. The most effective way to deal with inefficiency and low output is to reduce the high tariffs protecting the industries affected. I put down a question to the Minister for Finance with a view to getting some information about the number of tariffs in operation and their classification, in order to ascertain the extent of their impact on agriculture. I wanted to find out how many tariffs there were amounting to 40 per cent., 50 per cent., 60 per cent., or 75 per cent. The reply I got was that it was impossible to give the information required. This House is entitled to the information so that it may be given a picture of the real tariff position. It is a matter that ought to be seriously tackled by the Minister. I believe the Minister is sincere in what he said in addressing these two important bodies. If he is, I suggest that any tariffs that can be lowered ought to be lowered.

The present crisis is, in great measure, a protection in itself. It affords ample protection to many industries without any tariff at all. With that measure of protection in operation and with a high tariff in addition, the consumer is very often being robbed. On one of the Financial Resolutions I asked the Minister a question about the 75 per cent. tariff on tiles and whether it was intended for protective or revenue purposes. He told me that the tariff was protective and that the effective amount was 50 per cent. because there was a 25 per cent. preferential rate. It is very hard for agriculture to improve if we have to carry industries with protection amounting to from 50 per cent. to 75 per cent. We have heard very interesting references by Deputy Childers to the position of agriculture here and to its lack of progress over a number of years. He has compiled statistics showing the relative position in this country and in many competing countries. I agree with Deputy Childers that it is absolutely essential to adopt up-to-date methods. In normal times, competition is so keen that any little increase in the impositions on agriculture is detrimental. I speak as an agriculturist, and I know that the margin of profit in agriculture, no matter whether the Government in power be Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael, is bound to be narrow owing to keen competition. It is only by the adoption of modern methods and by lowering the cost of production that we will secure a decent margin of profit in agriculture. Take one example of a modern idea—that the farmer's cart should be on pneumatics. If a farmer wants to buy a set of pneumatics on ball bearings, including axle and wheels, it will cost him £8 18s. 6d. more than it would cost him in Northern Ireland. The protective tariff payable in that case comes directly out of the pockets of a man who is in keen competition with the agricultural producing countries of the world.

If the farmer wants to buy a set of pneumatic wheels and axles complete for his car or, if he is a big farmer, if he wants to buy half-a-dozen sets, he has to pay at the rate of approximately £9 each more for that article. I ask the Minister is that fair or is it possible that he can carry that charge? Can agriculture succeed if we are going to continue that policy of imposing that charge on the farmer, regardless of the effects it is going to have? The result is that the farmer has been forced to use second-class articles, cast-off bus wheels and that sort of thing. The new article is what he should have and the farmer is entitled to it just as much as any other industrialist. He should not have to go to the scrap heap to get a substitute. That is what he is being forced to do at the present time, to dig up something that is good enough for the farmer but which may not be good enough for anybody else.

Very few people in this country keep motor-cars for pleasure only. Ninety per cent. of the cars are kept for business purposes.

You say that 90 per cent. of the cars are used for other purposes?

Yes, for business purposes.

That is a big estimate.

Very few farmers, at all events, keep cars for any purpose other than for business.

That may be, but I think a big number of people have them for pleasure.

At all events, I wish to point out that it is most unfair to expect any man engaged in agriculture in this country to pay 31? per cent. more for any motor tyre that he has to buy as against farmers in England, Northern Ireland or elsewhere. I question the utility or the national advantage of any industry that is going to impose these charges and these burdens on agriculture. While we may listen to Deputy McCann, talking purely from the city aspect, with a typical Fianna Fáil mind, I say to the Minister that we have started a lot of industries, without any regard to what effect they may have on the one great industry in this country, agriculture, completely ignoring that aspect of the case altogether. That does not matter from Deputy McCann's point of view. He is utterly indifferent to the welfare of agriculture provided that a few highly protected industries can survive. It is very easy to start an industry in this country. It is very easy for the Minister for Industry and Commerce or any individual to start any industry in the country. There is nothing to be proud of in setting up an industry that ignores the consumers' interests, which has a monopoly to produce any kind of article, whether it is good or indiferent, and charge their own price for it. That is the position that many industries in this country enjoy at the present time and that is what the Minister has stated himself is the position in many of these industries. There is no competition. The protective barrier is so high that it gives them the opportunity to be inefficient. Their output is low, and the price they charge for the article they manufacture is out of all proportion to the profit earned in agriculture. I take the Minister at his word and I expect the Minister to do something about it. I hope the Minister will make particular reference to it when he is replying.

My suggestion to the Minister is that the only really effective way to deal with inefficiency and low output in industry in this country is to lower the barrier and to allow a measure of competition that would secure efficiency and adequate output. Agriculture in this country has always had to compete against efficient and modern methods of production in the various agricultural countries in the world. It has had to compete in an open market. If we have failed within recent years to meet that competition it is because burdens have been placed on our shoulders that we cannot bear. The predecessor of the present Minister was very fond of making references to a balanced economy. As far as profit-earning goes, the balance in our economy at the present time is altogether in favour of industry, to the detriment of agriculture. In referring to the turf schemes, the Minister said —

"I should hesitate to say that it is as yet certain we shall succeed".

Are we to take it that this is still an experiment and that there is a possibility of failure in some of these schemes? We put £200,000 into Carbury Bog and had no hesitation in burying it there. When it came to affording help to agriculture by providing a subsidy for artificial manures, in the first year, we could only afford the miserly sum of £40,000 and it was only a couple of weeks ago that we were told that, for the coming year, we would get a subsidy of £100,000. If there is one thing on which you would get an immediate return for any money spent on it in this country, it is artificial manures. If there is one thing above anything else for which there is going to be a very definite return it is the increased use of artificial manures on the land. That is the type of encouragement we get from the Government. We have no hesitation in putting large sums of money into speculative industries, into foolish projects, such as alcohol factories and other industries, and we hesitate to put money into something which, it is obvious to any man, is a sound investment in this country. I would like to say to the Minister that he ought not to follow the lines of his predecessor in developing industries by a policy of experiment, trial and error methods, because we are not sufficiently wealthy in this country to proceed along those lines and by that method.

There is only one other point I wish to refer to, that is, shipping. The Minister referred to the small percentage of our exports and imports carried by Irish shipping and he told the House that there were some proposals for the development of Irish shipping. I personally welcome those proposals. I have seen various suggestions made in the Press and we have been told that there is a huge quantity of American tonnage hung up at the present time.

It is gone.

I do not think it could disappear like that in a few days. I do not know to where it could be gone. The bombs have not reached that shipping yet. I think it is an opportunity that should not be lost sight of.

Would the Deputy like to pay the price? He has been talking about all the money that we are sinking in other projects. Would he like to pay the price of developing that one?

I admit I know nothing at all about it. It looks feasible, and it seems that there is an opportunity there, possibly, to buy it cheaply.

Unfortunately, we would have to buy it very dearly, in a very unstable market.

There is another point to which reference was made by Deputy Hickey, and that is the hardship imposed on workers who are drawing unemployment assistance and who get casual work. He said that that hardship applied principally to dockers.

Casual workers.

Yes, casual workers, but it applies to agricultural workers as well. A farmer often wants a man for a week and, under the present regulations, it is a hardship on a man who goes to work for that week because he loses six days later in the matter of drawing unemployment assistance. That is hardly fair, and it makes for dishonesty. There is no doubt that it is an encouragement to dishonesty, and the regulations are responsible for it. You will get men to do the work and to sign on at the same time rather than do an honest week's work and suffer the loss of six days afterwards. It is hard to expect a man in poor circumstances to do the week's work that may be offered to him if he knows that he will lose six days unemployment assistance. That is a matter that should be immediately attended to. We are sometimes very critical if men are offered a week's work and they fail to turn up. Under the existing regulations they can scarcely be blamed and the Minister should remedy that matter. If a man is required only for a week he should get the unemployment benefit immediately he becomes unemployed.

I had hopes that the assistant Minister was going to give me a further opportunity of listening to the Government defence in relation to the proposal to refer this Vote back for reconsideration. Apparently the Minister gave him the wink to sit down. It is quite true that the Minister has not, as he was in the habit of doing in the past, painted a rosy picture of the present or the future position of the country. He did not dwell on any proposals which the Government may have in mind for the solution of the unemployment problem or the reduction of the number unemployed. In my opinion, the position in the country, particularly in the towns and villages, is going to be worse—and it is bad enough at the moment. It is true that the increase in the area of land under tillage will call for additional agricultural labourers, but the employment that will be provided will mean only casual rather than continuous employment for whatever additional number of agricultural labourers are brought on the land.

There are many ways in which the number of registered unemployed could be reduced, if there is a desire on the part of the Minister and his colleagues to reduce them. On a number of occasions I have drawn attention to the fact—the last time was about a week ago, when we were discussing the Department of Lands—that registered unemployed were being refused work on schemes undertaken by the Department of Lands while people with other means of livelihood, people actually in other employment, were taken out of that other employment and given work. I suggest that is a wrong line of policy, if the Minister wants to reduce the number of registered unemployed and automatically reduce the amount of taxation that goes towards the payment of unemployment assistance.

I will not now go into the details of a very glaring case that I furnished recently to the Department. I gave all the essential particulars to the Minister in regard to that matter. It was in connection with a big scheme for the improvement of land in my area. I gave the names of individuals who were taken out of employment on the lands where they were working as agricultural labourers, and in one case I gave the name of an individual who was brought back from England; someone gave him the tip that work was available in the locality from which he had migrated. We are dealing with a very serious situation in the country and in all cases where Government grants are made available for the provision of employment, whether it is through land improvement work, housing schemes, the building of schools or any other work for which the taxpayers' money is provided, the first preference should be given to suitable unemployed people who are registered; that is, if there is a desire to reduce their number, and assume there is.

The Minister made a statement with regard to what has been done in connection with turf development. Previous to the Minister's speech on that very important matter, there was a reference to the same subject by the Taoiseach when he was speaking last Saturday week in Galway. He referred to the necessity for producing more turf instead of relying on imported coal, which naturally will come in decreasing quantities while the war continues. The Taoiseach, speaking on that subject, and apparently not too well informed, made an interesting statement. I am quoting from the Irish Press report, and no one opposite will contradict the statement, because it is published in the paper that does not make any mistakes when it reports Ministers, and particularly the Taoiseach. He said that everyone cutting turf in the coming season should cut three times as much as usual and wherever there were bogs around large towns and cities the people would, in his opinion, have a profitable market for turf.

That statement was, in effect, repeated by the Minister. Referring to the same subject, the Minister said that if they were to deal with an emergency shortage of fuel they must rely on the producers of hand-won turf to make good the possible, and, he should say, perhaps probable, deficiency in imported fuel. I quite agree with the Minister and the Taoiseach in giving encouragement to the people in the rural parts—and to the people in the towns if they are in a position to do so—to double or treble the quantity of turf formerly produced for the purpose of selling it locally. I am certain, so far as my constituency is concerned, that there will be a keen demand for it in the near future, if not at the present time.

I should like to know from the Minister and the Taoiseach whether they are aware of the conditions under which town tenants secure turbary rights convenient to towns, especially in the midland areas. Is the Minister aware that, in the majority of the towns in my constituency, and particularly in towns where there is a great deal of unemployment, the output or the production of turf is limited by the landlords who own the bogs? The landlords who own the bogs around thickly populated towns in many of the midland counties let only a very limited number of perches per year to the tenants on the estate, and particularly a very limited number to people living in the small towns.

Before this Government came into office, and since, I have repeatedly raised questions here concerning the activities of the Land Commission in connection with this matter. I should like the Minister to inquire, for instance, how long the Land Commission have been dealing with proposals for the acquisition of the Coote bogs around Mountrath, where there is a considerable amount of unemployment, and where there is no hope of providing work for the unemployed, except through small grants allocated by the county council for road repair work or through the Road Fund for the repair of trunk or main roads. Would the Minister also inquire how long the Land Commission have been making inquiries in connection with the acquisition of bogs on the Ross estate convenient to Birr, where at the moment there is a considerable amount of unemployment, and would he make the same inquiries in regard to the bogs around Mountmellick, Edenderry, Tullamore and other towns in these areas? I think he will be satisfied as a result that the bogs are owned by landlords who make only limited lettings and that there cannot, under existing circumstances, be the increased output which the Taoiseach and he demand, and with which I agree.

It is a serious matter for every citizen and it is a serious thing to have to state here that there is an avenue for increased employment through turf development, but that the people who want to produce more turf cannot get the letting on the bogs which they might be able to secure if the bogs were owned by other persons. I suggest that the Minister, when making these inquiries, or when getting his colleague, the Minister for Lands, to make these inquiries, should ask for information as to the extent to which the bad condition of bog roads makes it impossible for large numbers of people to get turf out of the bogs when it has been cut, and particularly if the weather is wet. These are lines which, I think, can be pursued with effect, if the Department of Lands would get a little busier and make it possible for the people, for the unemployed and for all classes of people who want to use turf, to get turf from the bogs, in the immediate vicinity of towns and, especially, towns in the midland areas.

I should like to hear from the Minister, also—and nobody can give us more reliable information on the subject—what his opinion is of the recent experiment of bringing down young single men from Dublin for employment on Clonsast Bog, the conditions under which they were employed there and the reasons, if any, which they gave for leaving, together with a statement as to the number out of the total taken down at present working there. We are entitled to that information, and I am sure that the Minister, who must have it at his finger tips, will have no hesitation in giving it. I was personally rather surprised to see the Department looking for single men from Dublin for the purpose of experimenting under certain conditions with turf-cutting on Clonsast Bog. Since my childhood days, I know that turf-cutting is a very laborious kind of work.

Oh, dear, dear.

The Minister says it is not? The next time he is near Clonsast bog, let him have a look at the type of work being carried on there.

Was the Deputy ever on a Monaghan bog and did he ever see the people who were doing the work there?

No, I confess I was not; but I can tell the Minister that I have watched people cutting turf in a bog since my childhood, and 34 or 35 years ago in my native part of the country, where the people have always relied upon turf for fuel purposes, turf cutting was always regarded as laborious work and was paid for in those days at a far higher rate than any other kind of work in connection with agricultural employment, if it could be called agricultural employment. I can tell the Minister that, 30 or 35 years ago, men employed by farmers to cut turf in my part of the country were never paid less than 5/- a day and that some were paid up to 7/6 a day. The fact that they had to be paid such high rates in those days must be some evidence that the work was more difficult and laborious than ordinary agricultural labour.

I am interested to learn the reasons why the Department, or the Turf Development Board, for whose activities the Minister is responsible, sought single men from Dublin for carrying out certain experiments at Clonsast. The reason I ask is that I thought that, in the ordinary course of events, if they were looking for men who would continue to work on a bog, men with knowledge and experience of turf-cutting operations, they would have gone to the areas where men were unemployed in the parts of the country in which they know something about the business. I am interested to hear why they came to Dublin to look for young. single men to come down there, the majority of whom, I am informed; have returned to Dublin.

The Minister in his statement also dealt with the position of his Department in connection with mineral development. I am glad to recognise the fact that his Department, and particularly quite recently, has been giving evidence of its desire to encourage the development of our mineral resources. I know that a small sum of money was provided for boring purposes in Wolfhill, a coal-bearing area, which has been the subject of many discussions in this House, and I should like to hear from the Minister whether he has yet received from his official advisers any report on the results of the borings carried out for some time past in that area, whether he has come to any decision and what assistance he proposes to give to those who are prepared to put private capital into the development of that coal-bearing area, if there are people available who are prepared to risk their money in mineral development there.

I am reliably informed that such people are available and I would be glad to hear from the Minister as to what assistance he is prepared to give to them. Would he say what evidence he has in his possession regarding the results of the work already carried out there? I have looked recently at certain work being carried out there in fairly difficult circumstances, and notice that a considerable quantity of coal has been secured in the rough-and-ready way in which the work has been carried on.

In one of the areas where this coal is being obtained the work is being hindered seriously as a result of the refusal of somebody—the Board of Works, the Minister for Industry and Commerce or the local authority—to provide a reasonably small grant to make roads into the place where these mining operations are being carried on. Would the Minister look into that matter sympathetically and see if a grant can be made for the making or repair of roads under the control of the local authority? An application was made, in the first instance, to the local authority and it was turned down, the person in charge saying that it was a matter for the Board of Works. The Board of Works, in turn, referred the applicants to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and the application has has been going in this way on an excursion from one person to another. I wonder if it has yet arrived at the proper centre for sympathetic consideration and if the Minister will say whether he is prepared to recommend the allocation of a small grant to enable work to be carried on under better circumstances than those which I have observed recently. The case has been put very well to the Department concerned and it has been pointed out that, as a result of this boring work in the centre to which I refer, 45 men are getting work. These men would otherwise be unemployed and in receipt of unemployment assistance. There should be some money available in the coffers of some Government Department to make proper roads into places where this work is being done.

I am not sure of the exact position, but would ask the Minister whether he has received any representations regarding the possibility of developing the mineral resources at Killeshin and Rossmore in Laoighis, convenient to Carlow. I understand that, in years gone by, certain Departmental officials made a survey in that area. People are prepared to put money into its development and it appears to them that, with some Government assistance and encouragement, good-class coal can be mined there and that a good quantity can be produced there per week, with considerable employment as a result. If the matter has not been brought under the personal notice of the Minister, I should be glad if he would inquire into it and see what can be done.

There is another matter which I have raised in this House by way of public question on more than one occasion, namely, the refusal of the Minister and his predecessors to publish the report of the Transport Tribunal, or to give some understandable reason for the failure to do so. On the 8th November, 1939, and again on 21st February, 1940, I raised this question in the House. The Minister informed me that the failure to publish the report of this public tribunal up to the 21st February last was due to the fact that certain consultations were going on between certain Department officials.

Between certain Departments.

In the reply to the question addressed to the Minister on 21st February last, the Minister said:

"I am not yet in a position to indicate when the reports received from the Transport Tribunal will be published, as the consultations with other Departments to which I referred in my reply to the Deputy's question on 8th November last have not yet concluded."

I should not like the Deputy to get the impression that it was merely consultation between Departmental officials which was holding up this matter.

I do not wish to say that, as I know that they are not doing so. This tribunal was set up by resolution in this House on the 7th December, 1938. In moving the motion to set it up the then Minister for Industry and Commerce said he expected that the report of the tribunal would be available for Deputies on resumption of the Dáil after the Christmas Recess, that is to say, on the 8th February, 1939 As the report of the debate will show, I indicated that I was doubtful personally whether such a very important matter could be disposed of satisfactorily inside a period of two months. However, it turned out that the commission furnished its report in six months, instead of in two months as anticipated by the Minister, and the report or reports are in the hands of the Minister for ten months. In the Minister's opinion they should have reported in two months: they reported in six. In spite of the fact that we were told previously—as far back as 1931— that the Government had a clear policy on this question, they have not yet seen fit to publish that report and have not announced to the House or to the country what they propose to do arising out of its submission.

The Minister does not require me, I am sure, to remind him of the public pledges given by himself and his predecessor —particularly by his predecessor—in regard to Government policy for the solution of the transport problem.

Does the Deputy suggest that I made any pledge?

The Minister was committed by his colleague and the Minister, having collective responsibility, surely is not going to repudiate the policy which was put before the House as far back as the 9th December, 1931.

The Deputy is introducing a new constitutional principle now.

On the 9th December, 1931—reported in the Dáil Debates, column 2645—Deputy Lemass said:—

"I think there are no Deputies who will deny that preservation of the railways is essential to the industrial development of the country."

I should like to hear Deputy Childers' comment on that. Deputy Lemass continued:—

"If we are seeking unified control we must also make up our minds that public ownership of these services is desirable, if not essential."

That is a fairly clear-cut sentence. However, the Minister came into office in the early part of January, 1932, and the next thing we heard of Government policy in regard to transport was the introduction of the Railways and Transport Acts in 1933. Speaking on the conclusion of that debate, the Minister's predecessor said that the position created by this policy would ensure that traffic will be carried on the railways and roads at the lowest economic rates which would be sufficient to give a reasonable return on the capital invested. He wound up with a remarkable prophecy—which has not turned out to be true:—

"That is what we are aiming at and that is what we will achieve."

That is definite language. He announces a policy in 1931 and implements it in 1933, and I should now like to hear from the Minister who has succeeded him—accepting his share of responsibility for Government policy —whether he is satisfied that nothing further requires to be done to patch up our transport system or to put it on a sound financial foundation. In other words, is it the opinion of the Government that nothing further requires to be done in regard to the present position of the transport industry? When introducing the motion in this House on the 7th December, 1938, the then Minister— Deputy Lemass—said:—

"The Government are satisfied that a major decision on transport policy must now be taken."

I am tracing the history of Government policy from 1931 to 1933, and then on to the 7th December, 1938. Apparently the Minister does not know what to do.

The Deputy is too definite about what he is doing.

Has the Minister read the evidence given by the General Manager of the Great Southern Railways before the National Railway Wages Board, or has he any information regarding the financial position of the Great Southern Railways? In opposing a recent application before that board for an increase in the rates put forward to meet the increased cost of living, the general manager, amongst other things, said in his opening remarks:

"The applications are opposed on three main grounds in the following order of importance: (1) the absolute inability of the company to meet essential expenditure and fixed charges, if labour costs are further increased."

Dealing with that aspect of the matter later on in his remarks and after submitting to the members of the tribunal up-to-date evidence of the financial position in a confidential way—I am not quoting the document, but it would be quite easy to get it—he said:

"It will be noted that in our revenue estimates for the current year we perforce have had to leave out all provision for renewals of rolling-stock notwithstanding that a large number of wagons particularly are urgently required."

I am afraid the Deputy is getting into a general discussion of railway policy, a matter which is outside the Minister's Department.

I was attempting to give some information to the Minister which I thought, from the way in which he looked around, he had not in his possession.

I am afraid the matter is outside the discussion of the Estimate.

For what reason, if you do not mind telling me, Sir? I am not challenging your ruling.

I do not think it is a matter for which the Minister is responsible. The Deputy is dealing with the administration of the railway company.

When the Ceann Comhairle was in the Chair, I attempted to raise this matter on the Budget Resolution and I was definitely informed then that I would be allowed to raise it on this Vote.

What is the matter which the Deputy wishes to raise?

I want to attach responsibility to the Minister's Department for railway policy in this country.

The Minister has no control over the railways.

He can get that control and he has the power, if he has the will and courage, to use it. Does the Minister suggest that he has no existing power to deal with the precarious position of our railways.

None whatever.

Has he not such powers under the Emergency Powers Act?

Well under the Defence of the Realm Act which is contained in existing legislation?

I think the Deputy had better look that up.

Am I entitled to proceed?

If the Deputy can relate his remarks to the Minister's responsibility in connection with the Department, I have no objection.

I am relating it to the proposal of the Government so long ago as the 7th December, 1938, to set up a tribunal to inquire into transport at the public expense and their refusal to furnish us with a copy of the report of that tribunal. If the Minister or his predecessor comes and asks the House to set up a tribunal at the public expense to inquire into that matter, surely the people are entitled to demand and to get the reasons for withholding the report of that tribunal?

I think the Deputy would be in order in referring to that matter.

Are we not entitled to get a statement from the Minister as to whether he has any intention at any time during the lifetime of the present Government to put the transport industry on a proper foundation? I could give him a good deal of information but, Sir, in deference to your ruling, I shall leave it over until some future date.

Another question which I want to ask on this Estimate is whether the Minister is in a position, as I understand he should be, to give the House any information regarding the future of the malting industry. With other colleagues of mine, I have been engaged for a period of a year and a half in endeavouring to persuade a particular brewing concern in the country not to close down one of the oldest malthouses in my constituency, situated in the town of Mountmellick. The Minister's predecessor made representations to the firm concerned over a year ago and the brewery, the biggest in the country, notwithstanding all the representations made by the Minister, decided to close down that malthouse after the work, connected with last year's malting season, had finished. However, representatives of the local authority in the town and of all parties interested in preserving that concern which gave valuable employment, though not full-time employment, for about six months of the year to about 80 families, succeeded in getting an extension of the time until this year for carrying on the business in Mountmellick. Notwithstanding the fact that further pressure was brought to bear on the firm to carry on for at least another year, or until somebody could see daylight in regard to the future not alone of this country but of the world, the firm, I understand, definitely decided recently to close down the malthouse at Mountmellick. That is a serious matter for the 80 families who will be affected.

I am raising the matter because I was given to understand that the present Minister had been consulted on this whole question quite recently. I am not giving anything away when I say that it was definitely indicated in a public statement issued last year that a considerable number of other malt-houses were likely to be closed down in other parts of the country in the very near future or as opportunity offers, as the statement said. A statement published in the Press last year, and issued by the firm of Messrs. Guinness, gave the reasons for the closing down of the malthouse at Mountmellick. Included in that statement was this paragraph:

The excess malting capacity is so great that it cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely, and from time to time malthouses must be closed as opportunity offers.

I have no function in regard to malthouses.

I was informed with a number of others, that the Minister was consulted.

People can come along and consult me, but I have no function in regard to malthouses. I cannot compel people to keep them open if they feel that they must close them.

But surely the Minister for Industry and Commerce is concerned with the unemployment that will be caused by the closing down of these malthouses?

I may be concerned with that, but I have no power to run people's businesses for them. The Deputy knows that is a silly idea.

I know perfectly well that you have no power to suspend the operations of this House and close it down. Apply that to every activity affecting the individual life of the citizens and you come to the conclusion that there is no necessity for a Government, no necessity for Parliament. You can shut down this House——

I could not do that either.

The Minister has power, with the clear majority that is behind him who will vote for anything, to take whatever steps are reasonable to prevent public concerns from closing.

We are not like the members of the Labour Party.

I admit that the Minister is a sort of superman, and that we have not any such men in the Labour Party.

I disclaim that.

That is sticking out, especially to the Minister. At any rate, I want to ask the Minister to state to what extent he has consulted and to what extent, if any, he has endeavoured to use the influence which his Ministerial position gives him to persuade Messrs. Guinness not to proceed any further with this kind of policy under existing circumstances. Nobody on the board of Messrs. Guinness, or, indeed, in the Ministry can say what the position of this country, or of the malting industry or any other industry, will be this day 12 months.

Or this day month.

For that reason the Minister might be able to use his well-known eloquence with the directors of Messrs. Guinness and Co. to stay their hand, not to pursue this policy any further, until they are able to see, so to speak, daylight in regard to the internal as well as the international situation.

Eloquence sometimes has unexpected effects.

The Minister committed himself, in writing, to the statement that he could not do anything further last year to prevent this firm from closing down this malthouse at Mountmellick. But, last year, a deputation representative of all classes of the local people, and of the Parliamentary representatives for the constituency, succeeded where, apparently, the Minister had failed.

They succeeded, as the Deputy knows well, upon terms: that a certain sum was to be placed at the disposal of the people employed in Mountmellick on condition that the malthouse was closed.

Who succeeded upon terms?

That is what the success was, and the Deputy should be frank with the House and say that. The Deputy was on the deputation, and, I believe, he knows what the conditions were.

I want to be quite frank with the House and with the Minister and to say that that question was never discussed: the question of accepting monetary compensation in lieu of continued employment in the malthouse. I stated, speaking for myself, that I should prefer to see the money that was offered used for the purpose of continuing employment there.

It was not offered in compensation. It was offered as an ex gratia grant to relieve hardship. What is the use of the Deputy putting it that way?

I want to assure the Minister—my colleagues in this House who accompanied me can contradict me if I am wrong—that we did not accept, although it was offered, compensation as an alternative to the continuance of employment in the malthouse.

The Deputy is misusing the word "compensation". It was not compensation. It was a grant which the firm, at their own discretion, proposed to give in order to relieve the possible hardship that would ensue on the closing down of the malthouse. It was not compensation, and if the Deputy wants the matter to be dealt with he ought to be frank and clear about it.

I accept the Minister's correction—that the sum offered was the equivalent of one year's wages or salary to every person employed in the concern in the previous year. I can quote from the document if the Minister wants any further argument on that.

I am not controverting that.

I am raising the question for the purpose of asking the Minister whether he can do anything to prevent this firm from pursuing this policy under present circumstances. I think that he could use considerable influence with the board of Messrs. Guinness & Company in a matter of this kind, and I want to give him every encouragement. I would urge him, in view of the existing circumstances in the towns concerned, to use his influence in that direction. This is the fourth malthouse that has been closed by this firm in my constituency. We do not want any more of them closed. There are some still there.

There is one other matter that I want to refer to. It was raised, in the course of the discussion this evening, by Deputy McCann, who more or less encouraged the Minister to proceed to introduce legislation for the establishment of industrial courts: in effect, encouraging the Minister to say that he was in favour of compulsory arbitration. I should be interested to hear what Deputy Childers has to say on that matter. I hope that he will speak on this before the debate concludes. I should like to hear from Deputy Childers quite frankly the reasons, if any, why he favours compulsory arbitration. There has been a good deal of talk about uncalled-for strikes, lightning strikes, but there has been no reference from the people who have been making these statements in this House to those who lock-out workers. I should like to hear from the Minister what is his opinion, if he has any opinion or information, in connection with the dispute that has been going on for a number of weeks at the Castlecomer collieries. Is it a fact that the man who is in charge of the Castlecomer collieries refused to agree to arbitration for the purpose of settling the dispute which has been forced on the workers—the miners working in Castlecomer? I know something about the conditions of the miners employed in the Castlecomer collieries. With a very prominent member of the Minister's Party, who is now a member of the other House, I helped to settle a strike that took place in the Castlecomer collieries about nine years ago. I know the conditions under which it was settled. These conditions are in writing, and I imagine that a copy of them is in the Department of Industry and Commerce.

Has the Minister made any inquiries concerning the reasons which have led up to the present stoppage, and does he agree that the employer concerned in this case is justified in refusing to submit the issues in dispute to arbitration? What is the case on the other side? I am sure Deputy Childers knows something about this case because he is one of the most influential men in the Saorstát Federation of Industries, and surely the dispute in the Castlecomer collieries has been the subject of serious consideration by the executive of that organisation. The Minister—in this everybody agrees with him—is giving every encouragement, I am prepared to admit, to those who are prepared to cut more turf and produce more coal. Yet, in spite of that we find those workers walking about Castlecomer for the last five or six weeks simply because the man who owns the mines, mines which should be the property of the nation if things were right, refuses to submit the issue in dispute to arbitration. The price of the coal sold in Castlecomer is now about 3/6 per ton more than what it was when the last dispute was settled, while the men are earning less to-day than they were at that time. The man who owns the mine refuses to cough up any of the increased profits which he is getting out of the working of that mine to the people who have helped him to make that increased profit. Let us have a word on this important matter from Deputy Childers and the Minister.

In the discussions on the Estimate for this Department in previous years we have been told by the members of the Opposition of the advantages of buying in the cheapest market and of the madness of putting a protective policy into operation.

Who said that from the Opposition Benches?

Mr. Kelly

It has been said here year after year.

Mr. Morrissey

I have asked the Deputy who made the statement.

Mr. Kelly

I have listened to Deputy Hughes——

Mr. Morrissey

Is the Deputy now quoting what Deputy Hughes said?

Mr. Kelly

Deputy Hughes asked the Minister to lower the tariff barrier.

Mr. Morrissey

Would the Deputy say if he is quoting Deputy Hughes?

Order! Deputy Kelly is in possession.

Mr. Morrissey

I simply wanted to call the bluff of the Minister.

Mr. Kelly

Deputy Hughes spoke of inefficiency, due to low output, as he said, in a number of our industries——

Mr. Morrissey

What Deputy Hughes said was that it was the Minister who said that.

Mr. Kelly

——and that all that was having a disastrous effect on the agricultural industry.

Mr. Morrissey

The Deputy is now suffering from the effects of making a stock speech.

Mr. Kelly

Deputy Hughes, of course, made very general charges against the inefficiency of our industries. He did not give us any proof that would lead us to identify any of these industries. There are very many industries supplying the farmer with his agricultural implements. I would like to know the particular industries to which the Deputy refers when he says that there is inefficiency and lower output and that these are having a disastrous effect upon agriculture.

Why not ask the Minister?

Mr. Kelly

The Deputy told us that they had to pay more for motor tyres here than in Northern Ireland. I do not see how he could put that down to the manufacturers here.

On a point of accuracy, I want to say that I never mentioned motor cars.

Mr. Kelly

Motor tyres. We have efficiency in our factories although we have been told here year after year about inefficient factories closing down. Nevertheless, they are standing up now, or at all events a majority of them are standing up, to strong world disturbances. That cannot be denied, even though the cost of raw materials where the raw materials have to be imported, and the cost of transport during the past year have enormously increased, they are standing up satisfactorily to it all. The price of commodities—the price of the manufactured article here—has not been increased to any considerable extent. There has been one statement made in connection with the matter of producing 100 per cent. of our requirements here. The trouble is that we are up against the mentality of certain people who believe that foreign goods are better than Irish-manufactured goods. These are people with the mentality that they are prepared to pay a higher price for the foreign goods. In the face of that I would say that imported articles should not be allowed into this country if similar goods are manufactured here, because it is unfair to those who purchase Irish-manufactured goods. The greater the amount of goods manufactured in any particular industry the lower will be the price of the manufactured article. We usually find that overhead charges in industries and in factories would be about the same for the production of double the amount or double the output ordinarily produced. Practically the same overhead charges are incurred if a firm is manufacturing for the whole market, as if it were manufacturing for portion of that market. If Irish goods are good enough for the majority of our people, I think they should be good enough for the minority. I believe that people should not be given an opportunity of purchasing foreign goods at 50 per cent. or 100 per cent. increase in the price as compared with the native goods——

Mr. Morrissey

That sort of speech injures Irish industries.

——as this has the effect of increasing the cost of the Irish article. The larger the output of the Irish article the lower necessarily will be the price. That in itself is an important consideration. We are all agreed, I think, that we require more industries. The agricultural industry, even though it is the chief industry of the land, will be found incapable of giving employment to all our workers. Consequently, it is necessary to supplement the agricultural industry by having manufacturing industries running alongside it. The need for the expansion of our industries is still very large. There may be difficulties in the way of having an export market at present, but let us remember that there is still a very large field for expansion in the home market. We know that there are a number of articles that can be manufactured under mass-production methods in other countries that could possibly be manufactured here. These could not compete in price with the article coming in from the foreign country, produced under the mass production methods. On the other hand, money spent on purchasing foreign goods is money lost to this country. Consequently, we should examine the position and find out if it would be possible to avert such a loss. As we are aware, there are some industries that are uneconomic and could not be undertaken here by private enterprise and with the amount of local capital that would be available. I think it would be advisable in such cases to consider whether such industries should be assisted by the State. We should not calculate the gains to the country by reference to the ordinary balance sheet of an industry. Rather should we have regard to the amount of money kept at home and expended amongst our own people. I believe that the time has arrived for a definite drive towards producing all our requirements here. I must say that a good deal has been done during the two years that Fianna Fáil has been in office. Our people expect that more will be done in the future. A reference to the volume of our imports will give us to understand that such expansion is possible.

When the Minister was speaking he stated that home investments by our citizens were as likely to be as stable and safe as any investments on earth. Irish investors have over £200,000,000 invested in foreign stocks and shares. Most of that money is helping foreign industrialists to manufacture goods for other countries and for our own country. We should strive to obtain some of this money for investment in production here at home. It would be a patriotic thing for those men who own foreign securities and foreign shares to bring back the money and invest it here——

We cannot do that now.

However, patriotism is one thing and it is always necessary to consider the financial aspect of the situation. I suppose it would be impossible at the moment to bring these investments home. However, there may be some money that the investors could make available for home investments. It strikes me that it might be advisable for the Minister to consider the possibility of offering a guarantee of a small dividend for any money invested in new industries in this country which might possibly afterwards turn out uneconomic. That may be a new idea. But under the eye of the Government and under proper control and management it is not likely that this guarantee would have to be paid, at least not to any great extent. The money that would be subsequently saved as a result of the saving of grants and doles would more than make up for such deficiencies in dividends and the country would benefit. We would have a good market for our stock exchange transactions, the capital could be realised at any time and new capital would be secured. I believe the time has arrived when we should have a broad survey of the whole problem. I believe the Minister, who is very anxious to see our industrial position improved, will give the country the necessary lead. This would enable us to withstand the conditions during the war and enable us also to stand up to the aftermath of the war.

One little matter has been referred to here by Deputy J.P. Kelly and that is the very serious question of the production of turf. It is evident that fuel is going to be a difficult problem for this country in the coming winter, and going to be a more difficult problem as the war goes on. In this connection, the Taoiseach, very properly, has warned everybody to cut and stack up as much turf as possible; but in this connection also there is some evidence that a certain amount of gross profiteering has been going on. A reference has been made by, I think, Deputy Davin, to the effect that certain landlords in possession of turbary rights, to which poor people have access, have increased the prices for access to turbary enormously. Now, I do not know whether these people hold these bogs from the Land Commission or otherwise, but it may be thought that the poor people to whom I refer have access to these bogs without any kind of charge. That is not so. The poor people, in County Cork at least, usually pay 30/- per season, and I believe that that has been very much increased, by the present landowners, even by as much as 100 per cent.

I do not know whether or not it is the Minister for Industry and Commerce who has to deal with that matter, but I do suggest that it is a matter that calls for attention by the Minister or by some other Minister. I think that the Minister could deal with this matter through the Prices Commission and I also believe that, no matter by whom the matter may be dealt with, an order should go forth as soon as possible to make it a penal offence to charge more than the 1938 price for turbary rights of this kind. I am putting this matter forward in order to show that these landlords, holding these bogs, are carrying on in this rapacious way, and I think it would be a very serious crime and a grave infliction on the people living close to these bogs if these increased prices for turbary rights are to be inflicted on them by the land owners.

In connection with the Estimate for the Department of Industry and Commerce, I think it is very gratifying to notice that we no longer generalise so violently, as we used to do in this House, on the question of the benefits to be achieved as a result of industrial development in this country. Industrial development has now come to be regarded as a national problem, not only as a Party problem. We no longer regard ourselves either as free traders or as protectionists, from the Party point of view, but realise that the whole question must be regarded from the really national point of view, and I think it is necessary that, in discussing any Estimate such as this, we must preserve a very balanced point of view. Quite obviously, a high tariff policy alone cannot wreck or impede a policy of production in this country. Such a policy could not wholly prevent an increase in agricultural production, or be responsible for a diminution in agricultural production in the country. Quite obviously, the price of goods sold in this country has a bearing on agricultural production in this country. It is a remarkable fact that, since 1926, the net output of industry in this country has steadily increased— increased very slowly from 1926 to 1931, and very rapidly since then. It is also a remarkable fact that, while there has been that increase in industrial production, the agricultural output of this country has not increased to any degree and, in fact, has diminished to a certain extent in the last few years. As a matter of fact, our agricultural output decreased during the first years of the present Administration and recovered afterwards. At any rate, it is rather extraordinary that industrial production in this country has increased to a great extent since 1926, and that agriculture has not increased. We, on this side of the House, at any rate, can say that, as a result of our efforts, there has been an increase in net output— covering wages, salaries, profits and the general cost of manufacture—of something like £10,000,000. I mention that sum, because it is the net output — which is the important factor—and not the gross output.

What was the net output of agriculture during the same period?

I think I have already dealt with that, and I am only trying now to make a balanced statement.

That is the reason I am asking the Deputy to answer the question.

At any rate, I can say that, so far as the present crisis is concerned, we have every reason to believe that the present Government's policy is the right policy. It is far easier at the present time to procure raw materials from abroad than to procure the finished article, and I think that therefore, the Government's policy of encouraging the production of as great a proportion of the raw materials of industry as could be produced here has been proved right ten times over since the war started. Anyone connected with trade or industry can tell the House that, in the case of the majority of raw materials of any industry, it is much easier to get in the raw materials than to get in the finished article—in other words, that it is much easier to procure shirtings than to procure shirts, or to procure hides than to procure boots or shoes. Now, when we come to commodities, of which the raw materials are native products, the Government's policy has been proved to be more than right. I refer to such commodities as bricks, tiles, cement, and so on, where most of the raw materials are native. There we have a tremendous advantage in having these industries already created. As far as the future is concerned, and as far as the possibilities of future industrial development in this country is concerned, we have to divide that problem into two parts: first, the question of industries which, in the "ersatz" sense, would be described as industries that would be useful during the war, and for nothing else, and, secondly, the long-term industries that would be useful to the country, apart from the war. So far as an industry that would be useful during the war is concerned, quite obviously, turf is the most important at the moment, from the point of view of fuel, and I should like to hear from the Minister whether he has any plans for the further development of turf in this country and whether he has taken into consideration the question of the time factor. There is no question that all of us in this House should advertise the fact that, when coal reaches £3 or over £3 a ton, hand-won turf, at its present price, has the same calorific value as coal.

Of course, as far as what one might call long-term industrial development in this country is concerned, I agree with the Minister's statement that the possibilities there are definitely limited, or at least limited to a certain degree. I very much doubt, however, if we can increase the net output of this country by very much more than £3,000,000 per annum in that particular regard, and therefore we have to develop, as far as possible, an extension of our existing industries and also try to increase the consumption of the goods produced by these industries. I think that there again arises the question as to what is going to happen to our industrial progress when the present hostilities end and when agriculture in this country is going to be faced with a very severe deflation in prices. Quite obviously, when hostilities end, we shall have to consider the whole question as to whether we are producing sufficient per worker in this country, whether our production is sufficient to enable the farmers to go on competing in a market where competition will be fiercer than ever and prices lower than ever.

I think it is just as well that the House should examine realistically the position of our industries. Our industries might be described as being on the border-line as regards consumption. There are a great number of them for which there is only just an adequate population to consume their goods at an economic rate. A great number of them quite definitely would like to see a very much larger consumption of their products before they can regard themselves as being economically sound. A great number of them find that a very small shift in the price of a product immediately diminishes consumption. To give an ordinary common example. If you increase the price of a certain type of mattress commonly used in this country by as little as 2/- on the original price of 19/-, you will practically cut out the sale of these mattresses, because the people will buy a mattress of an inferior quality at a lower price. The whole question of consumption and price must obviously be studied to the greatest possible extent if industry is to prosper.

When we examine the return from industrial development and revival, and the dividends paid by new industries, we find that we must speak guardedly in many cases. Generally speaking, it may be described as variegated. Some of the larger industries with a virtual monopoly have not paid a proper dividend on their ordinary shares; others have managed to do so. In some of the small industries, there is evidence of great prosperity; in others, there is a failure to pay dividends. I think the whole matter is connected with consumption and price, and with the ability of the agricultural community to consume the products of industry when they are produced for them.

We have the position that we have given employment to 50,000 more persons in industry as a result of protection and, to my mind, it is a question as to whether the Government have gone far enough in securing for this country an adequate output at adequately low prices for the goods produced in our industries. I speak more or less in a speculative vein. I speak principally as a representative of an agricultural constituency. The Government have interfered in private commerce in this country to a very considerable degree in the past eight years. They have interfered through tariffs and quotas in a variety of things that people consume. They have interfered very drastically in the social conditions under which our working people operate. They have interfered in the degree to which capital can be used for the promotion of new industries. They have interfered in the general position in regard to revenue by obtaining large sums in revenue through tariffs on our industries. They have insisted that conditions for workers should be adequate. In other Departments of State they have insisted that houses, when they are made the subject of a grant, should be built efficiently and finished properly. They have insisted, when improvement grants are given to agriculturists, that the work should be done adequately and finished properly. But they have never yet interfered, so far as private commerce is concerned, by insisting on sufficient output in our industries. They have never yet examined the question of output. They have never yet made the standard of output an absolute sine qua non for the continuance of protection. The reason is quite obvious—that it is a very difficult thing to do.

But I myself question whether we are not living in a vacuum created by high tariffs; whether we can continue to allow the whole question of output in an industry to be regulated by the industry alone without regard to the national economy as a whole and without great harm being done to our agricultural production. I should like the Minister, if he wishes to speak, let us say, speculatively and not to commit himself, to let the House know whether there is some particular reason why there should be interference in pratically every aspect of our economic life and no interference in the question of the standard of output of our industries and in the standard of the output of the workers themselves and in relating industrial output, profits, wages and salaries to the nation's economy as a whole.

In what way does the Deputy complain of the lack of output?

I think I have already indicated that the principal lack of output is due to the fact that agricultural output has never shown an adequate expansion in this country. If we had a larger consuming power in our population we would be able to absorb far more of the products of industry.

Would managerial incompetence have anything to do with it?

As far as industrial output is concerned, responsibility is shared between the workers and the employers definitely and absolutely, and shared in proportions that it would be hard for the House or anyone not acquainted intimately with industry to determine. That output is an essential factor in our future prosperity is evident from examining the figures for output in this country as compared with England. We cannot escape from the fact that the farmers produce the raw materials for industry, and they will have to go on doing that as long as this country is in its present position and as long as we lack the essential raw materials for our industrial workers.

The output of industrial goods in this country should be on the same basis of comparison as the output of industrial goods in England. That situation, as far as we know, will continue, no matter what circumstances come on us. The figures for output per person in this country and in England show that something needs to be done about this matter. The figures, as given in the Census of Production for 1936, give a series of examples. For example, in the woollen and worsted industry, the output per person in Ireland is £134 worth per annum, and in the United Kingdom £179. In the fellmongery and leather industry it is £181 here, and in the United Kingdom, £213. The figures vary; some of them are fairly satisfactory; but most of them show a very definitely inadequate production in this country per worker. Obviously we can never have mass production such as there is in the large scale industries in England, but the fact remains that the discrepancies are too wide and, somehow or other, they will have to be narrowed.

There is no possible way by which the output in this country can increase except by the personal effort of employers and workers; and the personal relations between employers and workers, I venture to say, having regard to the fact that we call ourselves Christian, could scarcely be worse than they are at present.

Question.

The relationship between employers in industry and workers, with definite exceptions, shows an attitude of mutual suspicion, an attitude of boss versus worker, an attitude which has created dictatorships in many countries and paralysed industry in many countries at previous times. That is an absolute fact that cannot be denied. Moreover, in many cases neither the employers nor the workers have yet been made to appreciate, either by the Government or the House, their obligation towards the community at large and the fact that the output per worker and the price of the goods they sell are a vital consideration for agriculture. I suggest that if industry is to prosper in this country something should be done by the Government whereby the nation as a whole would have a right to present a view through some Government institution as to what the output of any industry should be, what the remuneration of its workers should be, and what the profit should be in that industry.

It is with a view to that, that I suggest to the Minister that the question of the formation of some kind of industrial court is one of supreme importance to this country. When one examines the human relations between employers and workers, as far as industrial disputes are concerned, the figures are disgraceful to a democracy. Taking the years 1934 to 1936, inclusive, the average number of persons on strike per year was 9,400, or 2.23 per cent. of occupied persons, other than those in agriculture, fishing or administration. Of the 9,400 persons on strike in every year, 3,600 were on strike for 11 days or less, and two-thirds of the total were on strike for more than 11 days. When these figures are compared with the position in England it will be found that the average number on strike per year in England was 240,000, or 1.1 per cent. of the persons I mentioned, or just about half the numbers here. What is far more important is that they were only on strike for an average of six days per worker during the whole of these years, compared with our case where two-thirds were on strike over 11 days. Taking the figures from 1934 to 1937, including the year of the building strike, the average number of days on strike worked out at 35 days in this country, and six days in England.

If we eliminate from the English figures, strikes in coal mines, an industry which has suffered from depression and bad conditions, because of the mental attitude of owners and workers, the figures in this country are infinitely worse. Taking the number of strikes per 10,000 workers in eleven of the principal countries it will be found that we have a worse record, with two exceptions, than any country in Europe for strikes. I submit that that is an appalling situation. A correct mental attitude of employers and workers towards industrial production is absolutely vital if output is to improve, and nothing but a drastic revision of that outlook can possibly improve our production. I speak as the representative of an agricultural constituency, and I agree with Deputy Hughes when he emphasises the low profits in agriculture, and the fact that although indutrial costs by themselves cannot wreck or make agriculture, they have an important effect on it.

Deputy Davin raised a question as to what is to happen with regard to industrial courts, and speaking again as the representative of an agricultural constituency, having no connection with any body or any organisation, I believe that we gravely lack some kind of education, which will eliminate a hot-headed and intemperate attitude as well as ill-considered thinking from our industrial relations. I do not believe compulsory arbitration would be acceptable here, or could be imposed, or be proved anything like an unqualified success, but I do know that three of the Northern democratic countries, most of whom have socialist or quasi-socialist governments, selected principally by the workers, have been carrying on constantly during the past 20 years with legislation to benefit the workers and to improve conditions. In these three principal Northern countries legislation exists which, while leaving the workers completely free to withdraw labour, definitely delays all strike action until an impartial court can deliver a verdict. I see no reason why we should not be willing to submit to a form of legislation like that when workers in Northern democratic countries have done so, and have shown the great example to the world of orderly government and good living conditions.

Those who speak against compulsory arbitration are merely confusing the issue, because no one who has favoured it has suggested that we should remove the sacred right of the workers to withdraw their labour. I believe that strikes in public utilities should be made almost impossible—if not quite impossible—save in most exceptional circumstances. Speaking on behalf of an agricultural constituency, I believe that if employers and workers in industry are going to quarrel, my constituents, who are principally farmers, should have the right to enter into any discussions to this extent, that they should have the right to representation at the industrial court through the State, and have their point of view, as to whether or not they are able to bear any particular increase in remuneration considered. Many countries have either gone bankrupt or have had to resort to makeshifts because a section of the community operated without due regard to other sections. At the present time industry in our present circumstances is operating in a vacuum without regard to the rest of the community and, to my mind, only State action can, possibly, change that situation. The development of an industrial court would do nothing to harm the ultimate independence of the workers but would enable workers and employers to forget the immediate position created by the division of opinion, and allow the whole weight of dignified conditions to operate when discussing wages and remuneration, as well as enabling the community to give some point of view about the whole question of their attitude in relation to wages and to industry.

The future of industry in this country is very uncertain, but we can be sure of one thing, that unless workers and employers are prepared to adapt their conditions to those which are acceptable to agriculture, industry will not survive. I close with this question to the Minister, on which I would like him to give an answer: why should the State not interfere regarding standard of output as it has interfered with practically every other section of our economic life?

In the course of, roughly, 18 years in this House I have listened to many speeches, but I doubt if I ever listened to a stranger speech than the one we have just heard. The Deputy, of course, was obviously in a difficulty. He was trying to play hot and cold, trying to speak for agriculture without any knowledge of it, while he disclaimed speaking for any industry of which obviously he has some knowledge. The Deputy was lucky. He was very fortunate that he was not making that speech five or six years ago. Let me assure him that the most polite expression that would be used—or, should I say, that would be hurled at him?—by some of his colleagues then was that he was sabotaging Irish industry. If the Deputy suggested five or six years ago that the whole question of production and prices must be examined there would be a howl from the benches on which he sits that he was sabotaging Irish industry. I am sure that that howl would be led by Deputy Kelly.

Which Deputy Kelly?

Mr. Morrissey

Deputy Kelly, of Meath. Deputy Tom Kelly would have much more sense.

I do not know about that.

Mr. Morrissey

Deputy Childers told us that he wanted to make a balanced statement, that he was anxious to hold the scales evenly. The first contribution we got from the "balanced statement" was that, over a period of years, the net output of industry in money was £10,000,000. We were told what a great benefit that was to the nation. When the Deputy was asked to give the figure for the net reduction in the output in agriculture in £s, for the same period, he refused to give it. That is called a "balanced statement". Another of the Deputy's clear and balanced statements—a statement which purported to be a just and full statement—was that we should be proud that Irish industry in the past ten years had absorbed more than 50,000 additional persons. The Deputy left it at that. Those who would not take the trouble to analyse what he said would assume that we had 50,000 more persons in employment than we had ten years ago. Nobody knows better than Deputy Childers that that is nonsense—utter nonsense. In his balanced statement, the Deputy might have told the House that, over a shorter period, according to the Government's own figures, there are more than 40,000 fewer persons engaged in agriculture. Do Deputy Childers and Deputy Kelly think that the type of speeches they made here to-day will help Irish industry? I have not heard a statement made inside or outside this House more calculated to injure Irish industry than the statement made by Deputy Kelly. I acquit the Deputy immediately of any intention to injure Irish industry but that can be the only effect of his speech. He told us that we should have whole-hog protection, that everything in this country should be put behind a tariff wall and that the Irish people should be compelled to buy these articles whether they were 100 per cent. or 150 per cent. higher in price than articles which could be got outside.

I did not make that statement.

Mr. Morrissey

What did the Deputy say?

Mr. Kelly

See the records.

Mr. Morrissey

Perhaps I was wrong in saying 100 per cent. or 150 per cent. but he did definitely say 50 per cent. or 100 per cent.

Mr. Kelly

No. I did not make that statement.

Mr. Morrissey

Now that it is re-repeated, the Deputy finds it so absurd that he is anxious to disclaim it. I do not blame him. Deputy Childers quoted figures from some abstract relating to output. He gave us the output per £ per person in this country as against the output in England. In the interest of fair play and balanced statements, he left the figures there and asked the House and the country to assume that there were no special factors that might account for the difference. Did the Deputy ever hear anything about difference in machinery having something to do with difference in output? A man with a bad set of tools cannot be expected, even though he be as good a tradesman, to give the same output as a man with a good set of tools. No purpose is served in quoting figures like those. A man with a bicycle will cover ten miles as against the two miles covered by a man walking. You could show, in these circumstances, that an Englishman travelled ten miles while an Irishman travelled only two miles. Why should we get all this balderdash? Some of us expected a more useful contribution to a debate like this from Deputy Childers than that which he made.

To come back to the speech of the Minister, he is a man charged with many responsibilities. His Department covers more of the nation's activities, perhaps, than any other Department of State. His office is a full-time job for any man prepared to do the job. The largest of the Minister's many responsibilities has to do with unemployment and the finding of employment. The Minister touched, very lightly indeed, on that subject in his speech introducing the Estimate. He did not give us any analysis to show what the position has been or what attempt has been made to deal with it during the past few years. The Minister did not commit himself in any way as to what he hoped or expected to be able to do during the coming year. He did not give us any detailed reasons—I doubt if he gave us any reason at all—for reducing the amount provided for unemployment assistance by £70,000. Let us face the fact that we have to-day more people unemployed than we have had, perhaps, at any time in the history of the country —and that notwithstanding Deputy Childers' figure of 50,000. Let me say this to the Minister—it gives me no pleasure to say it, but it is a fact known practically to every member of this House—that British industry and British agriculture have provided more jobs for Irish unemployed in the past three or four years than either Irish industry or Irish agriculture. It gives me no pleasure to make that statement. It is not a position of which any of us can be proud. But it is a fact. Notwithstanding a rapidly decreasing population, and notwithstanding the thousands that we are told have been absorbed into industry, we still have an army—no other word would describe it—queuing up every morning at the labour exchanges throughout the length and breadth of the country.

When speaking, Deputy Norton asked what was the Government's plan for dealing with unemployment. Deputy Norton knows as well as I do that the Government has no plan for dealing with unemployment, and never had a plan. I grant that they succeeded in deceiving the unemployed into believing that they had a plan, but the fact is that they do not even pretend to have a plan to-day. Perhaps it is hardly fair to blame the present Minister for Industry and Commerce, or to put all these sins on his shoulders, because he has only been a comparatively short time in this particular Department, but, as a member of the Government, he must bear a certain amount of the responsibility. The fact is that the Government have thrown up their hands and have said: "We cannot solve this problem. We cannot even reduce the number of unemployed." In fact, the position to-day is that there is less provision for the relief of unemployment and less provision for those who are unemployed in the Estimates for this year than there has been in any year since the present Government took office. The numbers of unemployed increase, the periods of unemployment become longer, but the amount of money made available to relieve the distress arising from that unemployment becomes less and less. Having come to that conclusion, as you must come to that conclusion, there is no necessity to ask what is the Government's plan. There is not a plan. There is simply a muddle. The Government, of course, when they started playing politics with the unemployment problem, only helped to make it more difficult than it was. They are now trying to repair that mistake, but in repairing it they are inflicting very serious hardship upon genuine unemployed people in order to get at those who should never have got assistance, who only got it because their political support was required, not because they were genuinely unemployed.

Deputy Hughes made a passing reference to a matter that has been raised here before. If the regulations dealing with temporary or casual employment were framed deliberately to discourage men from accepting employment, they could not be more successful than they are. Farmers and others, ignorant of the regulations governing unemployment assistance, often say—it has been said to myself—"What is the use in talking about these men being unemployed when they will not accept work when it is offered to them?" To the person ignorant of the regulations, that may appear to be true, but the fact is that, in a great many of these cases, a man, instead of gaining anything by accepting that work, is at a substantial loss. Let me give a case in point which happened in my own county. As a result of the Government's muddling with these so-called rotation schemes, they succeeding in disemploying or securing the dismissal of a great number of men who were always in permanent employment. Those men were unemployed for about three months, and they, with a number of "casuals," on the Friday week before Christmas, got instructions from the labour exchange to go out to work on the following morning. They did so. On that Friday morning they drew their unemployment assistance. They worked all the week before Christmas, for which they got neither wages nor unemployment assistance. They did not receive one penny until the 9th January following. Those men and their families had to go through Christmas without a penny of unemployment assistance or of wages, although they had worked for more than a full week. That is the sort of thing that is supposed to encourage men to seek work, and to accept work when it is offered to them. Let me take another case which occurs under this rotation work, for which the Minister is responsible. Just to illustrate my story, let me say that two men are living side by side in Dublin. They are both married men having, say, five children each. One man gets a note from the labour exchange to go to work in the quarry the following morning, and he goes out and works in that quarry for four days, working hard all the time. He may get at the end of the week, but probably it will be at the end of a fortnight, for his four days' hard work, £1, less 1/7—18/5. His next door neighbour does not go out to work at all, and on Friday morning he can walk into the labour exchange and get his 14/-. That is the sort of scheme, and that is the sort of regulations that we are supposed to accept as a serious contribution to this terrible problem. We hear a lot of talk about the problems this country has to face, the dangers to it, and everything else. If the members of this House, and particularly Ministers, cannot see a menace in 120,000 or 130,000 unemployed men, men who are now driven to believe that there is no hope of their securing work in this country, then there is very little use in talking here at all.

I can only come to the one conclusion, that the present Government have become quite reconciled to the existence of 120,000, 130,000 or 140,000 unemployed persons as just a normal thing, something that we cannot help, that we cannot remedy, and that, therefore, they are not going to take any steps to try to deal with it or to improve it. The Minister has not indicated that the position during 1940-41 is going to be any different. Of course, none of us knows what is going to happen, but, for the moment, I have to ignore the war situation.

I cannot ignore it.

Mr. Morrissey

I am perfectly entitled to do it.

The Deputy is entitled to do what he likes, to shift the moon, if he wants to.

Mr. Morrissey

The war, to everybody in this world, is a curse, but to certain Ministers here it is a Godsend as an excuse for a lot of the problems they are not able to solve. We had not a world war in any of the last ten years, and the attitude during that ten years or the effect upon unemployment were no different from what the attitude is to-day and what the effect is likely to be in the next 12 months.

I suppose I have spoken often, perhaps more often than any other member of this House, on this question of unemployment both during the lifetime of the present Government and of their predecessors, but I do not believe that I ever felt that the position was really hopeless until now. We get no lead from the Minister. We get no insight as to any possible schemes or plans which the Ministry may have. The unemployed are told, in effect, that, notwithstanding the fact that it is going to be more difficult for them to live, notwithstanding the very large increase in the prices of the necessaries of life, the Government cannot help them, that they must provide less money for them this year than was provided last year.

The Minister takes £70,000 off the amount for unemployment assistance, and we are told that £100,000 will be made available next year to encourage the purchase of artificial manures. Again, because of the muddling of the Government this year in the matter of artificial manures, it has cost the farmers who were able to get manure far more than £100,000. The farmers, because of that muddling, were not able to get the principal manures they required in time, and many crops were left unsown because super could not be purchased. When the Government woke up months too late and removed the restrictions, the farmers and others were told that manures, which they could have and should have purchased three or four months earlier, at £4 10s. and £4 15s. a ton, could then be purchased at £7 a ton. They could have manures at £7 a ton when it was too late to use them for this season. The money that has to be provided to try to repair that sort of muddling is to be taken from the unemployment assistance contribution.

The Minister, in his capacity as Minister for Industry and Commerce, has a certain responsibility for employment exchanges, and the finding of employment for the unemployed through those exchanges. Has he made any protest to the Minister for Finance about the raiding of the Road Fund for another £150,000? Does the Minister not know that one of the main sources of employment in rural parts of Ireland is road work, and would not the £150,000 taken this year and last year from the Road Fund provide a great deal of employment? I observe that the Minister is going to make a note, and I am sure the note is going to be: "Does the Deputy suggest we are going to put another tax on tea and sugar?"

Precisely.

Mr. Morrissey

I knew exactly what the Minister was going to put down. The only time the taxes on foodstuffs are ever trotted out is as a cover for robbing something from the unemployed. I knew what the Minister was going to put down.

The Deputy knows all the answers. That is what makes the Deputy's speech seem so hollow.

Mr. Morrissey

The Minister ought not to talk about hollowness—I would not advise him to. The Minister is too vulnerable. It would not require a 70-ton tank to deal with the Minister on that. The Minister will have to think up something a little more original than the old dodge of the tax on tea and sugar. Last year he could find a very big sum for the Army; he could find great sums last year for certain measures—sums far ahead of anything we are asking for.

Is the Deputy in order?

Mr. Morrissey

I would be intensely interested in hearing the Minister's point of order. Usually his points of order are bad ones.

The Deputy has been permitted to discuss the Budget.

Mr. Morrissey

Does the Minister think that this matter can be discussed without some relation to the Budget? I want to know where the Minister is going to get all the money that is set out in the Estimate we are discussing— where he is going to get even his own salary unless it bears some relation to the Budget? The Minister has improved lately and I would not advise him to revert to his old style.

Let the Deputy follow my example.

Mr. Morrissey

It took the Minister a few years before he decided to follow my example. I am not discussing the Minister and I do not want to discuss him in any capacity except in the capacity of Minister for Industry and Commerce. I am going to invite him to repair the very glaring omission in his introductory speech. I should like him to tell us whether he has even tentative plans for dealing with the unemployed. I am not one of those who suggest that the present Minister or any other Minister can cure unemployment completely in a day, in a month, in a year, or even in five years. Nobody in this country with any sense of responsibility would suggest that. The only people who have said it are the Minister and his colleagues. We do say that they ought to be able, if not to reduce it, at least to keep it from increasing and there ought to be some reflection in our unemployed figures of the 50,000 that Deputy Childers says we ought to be proud of and of the 150,000 that have gone to Britain. I do not want to go into other aspects of this Estimate, although there are a number of matters to which I would like to refer. I should like to say a few words about turf development and recent experiences and so on, but I will leave that for another occasion. I should like some definite statement from the Minister. I would be much more satisfied if he does not promise too much. I suggest that a service such as this, costing the State so much money, is entitled to much more than a passing reference from the Minister.

Deputy Morrissey has adopted the old rôle of blaming the Minister and his Party for every grievance, real or imaginary. He has made great play with the misfortunes of the unemployed, and yet he objects when an honest attempt is being made by the State to see that money that is being given to the unemployed should be returned in the form of work. Deputy Morrissey was a member of another Party in this House which controlled the reins of government until 1932. While he has given lip service here to the unemployed, neither he nor his Government made the unemployment problem a live issue or made any effort to give the unemployed money or sustenance. I will leave it at that.

I think this country was exceptionally lucky in that this Government undertook the industrial development drive, and, although it is quite possible that there may be some shortcomings here and there, it is still a very good job for the people that we now have many industries which we had not got eight years ago. As Deputy Childers has pointed out, we are in the lucky position of being able to get raw materials where it is not easy to get the finished article. There is, however, a scarcity of certain raw materials, and I ask the Minister to see that every effort will be made to develop as much as possible certain raw materials at our disposal here at home. I know, and I am pleased to learn, that a great move is being made this year for the cutting and saving of peat, and I suggest that a minimum price be offered for a good standard turf in order to encourage the cutting and saving of turf this season. If that is done, to my mind, many of the men who are either unemployed or semi-unemployed would avail of the fine weather and get down to the saving of turf. That would help to provide fuel in a period when it is scarce, and, at the same time, would enable these people to get some cash with which to provide themselves with the necessaries of life.

As I am on this question of turf development, I should like to draw the Minister's attention to the high price of coal, and to point out that, down in Munster, in the constituency which I represent, there are large coal fields. While I agree that it may not be possible to raise coal economically in normal times there, owing to the changed situation, I suggest that the testing of these coal fields in North Cork might be considered. I was glad when a steel factory was erected last year at Cobh, but from what I can gather, owing to the upheaval caused by the war, there is a great scarcity of iron and iron ore at present, and I would also draw the Minister's attention to the fact that, in a certain area in North Cork, the Araglen area, iron was mined some years ago and sent across the Channel for smelting. In view of the increased cost of iron, and the difficulty of getting the raw material as well as the manufactured article, I think this is a matter which is worth examining.

There is, then, the other very important raw material, phosphate rock. Let Deputies not think that I am raising these matters because they all have to do with North Cork. There is no phosphate that I am aware of in North Cork, but I think there is some in Clare, and with the difficulty of procuring raw phosphate, and the scarcity of the manufactured article, both native and foreign, this, too, is a question which could well be gone into by the Minister's Department in the present situation. As I said, I am pleased that we have had this industrial development in the country, and, despite the difficulties created by the war, I appeal to the Minister's Department and to industrialists not to lose heart, because, in my opinion, now is the time for our industrialists to prepare for the period of normal conditions after the war. As I am anxious to see a fair balance between agriculture and industry, I think it may be wise for our industrialists, in order to stabilise our industry here, and indirectly to help our agriculturists, to try to organise for an export trade when settled conditions return to the unfortunate Continent of Europe.

I should like to allude to another matter in regard to Deputy Morrissey. He has said that the farmers could not carry on if they had not got superphosphate. I know that there was difficulty in this matter, and I know that it was not the fault of the Minister's Department that manures were not more easily obtainable, but I do not agree with Deputy Morrissey that the farmers were unable to go ahead with their tillage programme because they had not got manures. So far as North Cork is concerned, the farmers went ahead with their tillage programme, and I am proud to say that they are doing their duty to the State and to the people in carrying out the tillage policy of the Government, and they were not hampered because of lack of manures or anything else.

Listening to this debate, I am inclined to feel that it would be a good thing if industry and commerce, as well as every other department of our national life, could be removed from the atmosphere of Party politics. We have listened to a very impartial and non-Party outline of the position of industry by Deputy Childers. His statement should not have been criticised as it was—I think, unfairly—by Deputy Morrissey. Deputy Childers has directed attention to what the Minister has admitted in several speeches to be a danger facing industry —the danger that people engaged in newly established industries, whether employers or employees, may come to believe that it is the duty of the Government to support those industries whether the people engaged put forward the necessary effort or not. If that feeling is allowed to grow, it will be disastrous for industrial development; it will mean that those engaged in an industry may be led to believe that, since the Government has been responsible and has taken pride in that industry having been set up through protective tariffs, they must take an interest in it, even to the extent of increasing the tariff, if necessary. That would lead to ever-increasing inefficiency.

The Minister has been right in publicly drawing the attention of those engaged in industry to the fact that the Irish people cannot afford to carry an industry on their shoulders unless the people engaged make an effort to deliver the goods at a reasonable cost. In setting out on those lines the Minister has made a good beginning. The agricultural community has got to export goods to the British market and has got to sell them at competitive prices. They cannot continue to produce, if the cost of production is increased through the increase in the cost of Irish manufactured goods. Every section of the House and every section of the community should support the Minister in demanding that a fair return be given by those engaged in industry, both manufacturers and workers, for the protection which the agricultural community is giving them.

The principal failure of the Minister's Department is the failure to relieve unemployment. It is an extraordinary state of affairs that, in such a time of national emergency as this, when many commodities are urgently needed, we still have close on 100,000 people unemployed. The chief products urgently required at the present time are food and fuel. The Minister's Department does not deal to any great extent with the production of food, but it should certainly deal with the fuel question. Many suggestions have been made for an increase in the production of turf. I feel that the Minister has failed already to face up to this problem, as a considerable portion of the season has been allowed to pass without any real effort having been made to deal with it. In districts where there are adequate supplies of turf it is ridiculous to see men cycling five or six miles to the labour exchange to register as unemployed and draw the miserable allowance provided for them.

I agree that there are many difficulties in regard to turf development. There is a difficulty in securing the right to enter into bogs in certain districts, while in other districts bogs are owned by small farmers. They have been appealed to, in public statements by the Taoiseach and Ministers and by advertisements in the Press, to increase production, but for many reasons they cannot increase production to any great extent. The man who owns a small bog has practically no capital whatever. Probably he is carrying on a small agricultural holding in addition to the bog and he has very little time to devote to turf making except to make sufficient for his own needs. He has not the capital to employ extra labour. In addition to that we must bear in mind that turf saving is a very speculative type of enterprise and that very often a complete year's cutting of turf is lost through unfavourable weather. Naturally, the man owning a small piece of bog, even if he can find the necessary capital to employ labour, feels reluctant to take the necessary risk in cutting turf which may be lost through unfavourable weather. Since the State is paying men an unemployment allowance, I think it should take direct action and should employ these men to cut and save turf.

During the present Administration we have seen schemes developed in rural areas—minor relief schemes of various kinds for the improvement of lanes and roadways—and they have been comparatively successful. A scheme for the cutting and saving of turf, directed by the Department would, no doubt, be equally successful. I do not see any reason why it should fail. It is hoping too much to expect that the unemployed workers in the city can go out on their own initiative and secure the right to enter bogs and engage in the work of cutting and saving turf or, alternatively, to expect impoverished farmers in turf-cutting districts to find the necessary capital to extend their turf cutting. This is a work which could easily and profitably be undertaken and organised by the Department of Industry and Commerce direct. Wherever men are registered as unemployed they could be engaged in this work and thus increase our national supplies of fuel. It is absolutely criminal to maintain thousands of workers in rural areas completely in idleness while there is the urgent and pressing need for increased supplies of fuel.

I ask the Minister to give this matter his immediate attention because, as I say, time is passing, and the prospects of increasing our supplies of fuel, so far as this year is concerned, will soon be very limited. What I have said in regard to turf supplies applies with equal force to coal. I think that in certain cases it should be the duty of the State to undertake the development of coal deposits. I believe that the method of approaching this problem adopted by the Government in the past—the method of importing highly paid technical experts and expending large sums of money on various new developments in the manufacture of turf and peat—has been absolutely wrong. Having regard to the number of people that are unemployed, I think the first principle guiding the State should have been the labour content of any scheme. Instead of that, we find that most of the money spent on the development of peat has gone in purchasing machinery and in obtaining technical advice, while very little has been spent on the employment of workers. That is not a position which ever should have arisen, having regard to the number of workers available. Some controversy has arisen as to whether the work of cutting and saving turf is laborious. I hold it is undoubtedly laborious, but it is work which is healthy and useful. It is also work in which practically any worker who has ever been engaged in manual labour can very quickly become skilled. For that reason, it is a type of work to which a large number of our unemployed could be very easily and quickly directed.

If one were to take seriously Deputy Meaney's contribution to this debate, one would think that the present Government was the only Government that ever did anything for the unemployed in this country. He states that they paid out more in unemployment benefit than the previous Government. That is quite possible, but he did not tell us the number which the present Government drove into unemployment by their policy. It is therefore reasonable to expect that they should expend more in unemployment benefit, because the numbers of unemployed have grown every day since the present Government came into office. The position at present is that the taxpayer has to dip his hand more deeply into his pocket, at the one time that he is least able to do so, in order to provide funds for unemployment benefit and unemployment assistance. That is directly attributable to the policy of the Government. As Deputy Childers told us, the number engaged in agriculture has decreased inside the last five or six years. He also told us of the increased numbers engaged in industry for the last five years. Deputy Meaney also suggested that the unemployed should be provided with bogs, and that they should go out and cut turf. Did anyone ever hear a more foolish suggestion—that an unemployed man, on an empty stomach, should be sent out to cut turf? In the first place, where is the Government going to get all the necessary turf banks? There is another department which has thousands of acres of turbary on its hands which it has not divided, not to speak of making roads into the bogs. When we speak on questions of this kind, we should at least be serious, and not make use of wild statements which may carry away the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who himself does not know very much about turf cutting.

Deputy Childers made a rather remarkable speech, or one that would have been remarkable, if he did not remind us so often that he represented an agricultural constituency. If it were not for that reminder, one might believe that he was serious. He constantly reminded us when he spoke of the industrial policy that he represented an agricultural constituency. When he mentioned that there had been a decrease in the number employed in agriculture in the last five or six years whilst there had been an increase in the number employed in industry, one thing that struck me was that he was suggesting that there was inefficiency in agriculture and efficiency on the part of those responsible for our industrial policy. I have the opposite view. I think our farmers would be quite efficient in carrying on their industry in years past if they were not subjected to so much interference. They have been hampered in every way by Government policy. The Deputy talked about co-operation between employers and employees but he did not tell us of the inefficiency in the case of industrial concerns in this country established by the Government. He talked about output but, as Deputy Morrissey stated, you cannot have output unless you have efficiency at the top. There is no use in blaming the employee all the time. If you get a bad employer who does not know his business, no matter how efficient an employee may be, you cannot have a good output.

We should all like to see an industrial revival in this country but, judged by the numbers who have been provided with employment in recent years, that industrial revival is costing us too much. Deputy Childers' speech to-day reminded me of the promises that were made when the Fianna Fáil Government first came into office that we would not have an unemployed man in the country and that our exiles would have to be brought back. What is the position to-day? You have 110,000 unemployed and none of the exiles has been brought back. Over 70,000 of our people have left this country to seek employment in another country in recent years while the total number put into employment during these years owing to the industrial policy of the Government is only 50,000. With reference to this 50,000 the Deputy did not say where the factories in which these are employed are erected, whether there is inspection of these factories or what proportion represented boys, girls, men and women. Having regard to the heavy cost which is imposed upon the public, I would not say that our industrial policy could be regarded as a success, merely from the fact that 50,000 people had been employed.

I believe myself that the Government started at the wrong end in their industrial policy. There was plenty of room for the development of our natural resources if the Government had taken in hand, and followed, the policy of the previous Government which had laid a sound foundation. We had a few old industries which could have been revived. Take the woollen industry. In the county which I represent, a county which produces one-sixth of all the wool that is raised in Ireland, we had in the centre of it one of the best woollen mills in the country. It was closed down, and sold some time ago for a fraction of its value. Why was it not helped in some way by means of a subsidy? The Government are subsidising industries, the raw materials of which have to be imported. I think it was Deputy Meaney who talked of developing an export trade. Due to the war, I suppose, we are doing a fair export trade in woollens at the present time, but for a number of years the industry has been more or less at a standstill. While, as I have said, we raise in the County Galway one-sixth of all the wool that is produced in Ireland, the position of buyers and exporters of wool at the present time is that they do not know where they stand as regards the price of wool. They are only buying very small lots at a small price. Can the Minister tell us what the price of wool is going to be this season? Those buyers and exporters should be told that now. They have bought some small lots at 1/1½ per lb. I believe the highest price paid so far has been 1/2 per lb.

The slate industry is another that could be developed. I know very well why the Government do not want it developed—because there is one industrialist who controls one or two concerns. Due to that, as I say, with the Government's consent, the other slate quarries in the country are not allowed to be developed. Take the question of roofing for houses. What is the position of the tile industry? It is really no industry, because almost everything in it is of foreign manufacture—cement, dyes and machinery. The only thing native that is in it is the sand and the juvenile labour. The position with regard to the cement may be different now, but it was foreign cement that was being used.

Deputy Childers, in the course of his speech, told us that, while there was supervision in regard to some matters, if there was more of it in regard to our agricultural policy—at least that was what I understood him to say—the country would be much better off. He did not tell us about the supervision that had been exercised over the building of the houses in Castlebar; the houses that fell down, and the ones that did not fall down, and had to be pulled down; or about the houses in the County Kildare which Deputy Norton referred to on Friday last. There was not much supervision there, because, it appears, you could put your hands through the cracks in the walls. It would be well if we had more supervision in regard to our industrial policy. Due to lack of supervision the consumer is having a bad time of it. If we had more supervision there would be greater efficiency, and the cost of our products would be less than it is. We have too many at the head of affairs who, in relation to our industrial policy, apparently are going on the get-rich-quick principle.

We find in the Estimate the sum of £83,000 for turf development. The cost of administering that scheme is going to cost the country £15,000. That surely is a very high figure. I would like to see turf development undertaken at a reasonable cost to the taxpayer, but I do not like to see those wild-cat schemes, for which the country gets no benefit, being pursued. I should like to see the Minister's Department make an effort to develop the smaller bogs in which the hand-won turf is produced, of giving the people turbary in those districts, and making roads and drainage, instead of concentrating on the development of big schemes on which machinery has to be employed. I believe that in one of those big bogs the machinery got stuck, and I am not sure whether it was ever got out. The Fianna Fáil Party told the country that when they got into power they were not going to centralise industry. They were going to give everybody in the country a fair chance, and help in the development of small industries by encouraging local people to put money into them so as to give more employment. It is a policy of that kind that should be employed in the case of peat development. The Land Commission have thousands of acres of turbary in their hands for a number of years. The Minister should take steps to see that this turbary is divided up amongst the people who will make use of it. That would be much better than to allow it to lie idle as it has been for hundreds of years.

The extraordinary thing about the Minister's speech on Friday last was that such a small portion of it was devoted to the unemployment situation in the country, especially when we remember that, prior to the general election of 1932, and again in 1933, the importance of the unemployment situation was stressed repeatedly by the members of the Fianna Fáil Party. At that time, of course, they were endeavouring to secure the reins of government. They told the country then about the plan they had: that when they got into power there would be no more unemployed in the country. They have apparently completely forgotten all that now, and in so far as the unemployed are concerned, seem to accept it that the present situation is inevitable, and one that cannot be remedied. As I have said, it is extraordinary that so little attention should have been devoted to that question by the Minister for Industry and Commerce in his introductory speech, in view of the fact that we have more unemployed people in the country to-day than we have had at any previous period in the country's history. Notwithstanding that, the amount of unemployment assistance this year is being cut down by £70,000. One wonders why, in view of the fact that we have about 120,000 unemployed people in the country to-day. In that situation one would think that, instead of a reduction we should have an increase in the Vote so that additional provision might be made for the unemployed to meet the rise in the cost of food prices. It seems to me that it is inevitable that unemployment assistance will have to be increased in the very near future. Even people who are in receipt of a fairly decent weekly wage are finding it very difficult to live, so that everyone can realise how hard it must be on the unemployed to exist on the miserable pittance given to them in the form of unemployment assistance week after week.

The speech delivered by Deputy Childers this evening was a very extraordinary one. He reminded us repeatedly that he was speaking as the representative of an agricultural constituency. I think it was quite obvious that he was speaking as an industrialist representing an agricultural constituency. He dealt at great length with the question of strikes and of trade disputes generally, all the time speaking in such a way as to lead people to infer that it was always the workers who were to blame when a trade dispute of any sort occurred in this country. He pointed out that during the period between 1934 and 1936 about 9,000 people were on strike in this country. That may or may not be so. But there were a great many more people out of work during the same period and no effort was made, good, bad or indifferent, to secure employment for them.

The Deputy referred to the question of output and efficiency. He asked the Government to intervene to secure more efficiency and more output in industry. Again I think he emphasised the point that it was the workers who were to blame for inefficiency in industry; that it was they who were to blame for the lesser output that he considered there was. I do not think it is the workers who should be blamed for the smaller output or who should be blamed for the want of efficiency in the new industries. It has been shown time and time again that the management has been responsible in the case of a great many new industries for inefficiency, or smallness of output. Irish craftsmen can go over to England and secure positions there at a time even when English craftsmen are idle. Surely that goes to show that it is not the fault of the craftsmen or the workers that there is inefficiency or smallness of output. We know that in a great many cases when Irish industries were started here, a certain number of English people who had something to do with the initiation of those industries installed obsolete machinery. I have in mind one particular industry started in my own constituency where old second-hand machinery was brought in. The result was that inefficient goods were put on the market at the start and the output was considerably lower than it would be if proper machinery had been installed. The workers cannot be blamed for things of that kind. I have been told that that sort of thing has happened in other industries in different parts of the country so that Deputy Childers will have to look elsewhere than amongst the ranks of the workers to find out who is responsible for inefficiency or low output in this country. Notwithstanding the fact that there is a war in England at the present time, we have workers going across to the extent of 100,000. These have been able to secure employment. That conclusively shows that Irish workers are efficient and that they are anxious to work. They even leave their native country to seek employment in a country that is at war.

Deputy Childers, when speaking, stated that the new industries were responsible for putting 50,000 people into employment. It would be very interesting if we could have an analysis of that 50,000. It would be interesting to find out how many of these 50,000 were adults, how many were boys, how many were girls, and how many of them were in receipt of a decent wage. I think it would also be found that quite a number of people have been put out of employment by reason of the fact that some of these new industries were established. It will be admitted that a great many people were put out of employment in the transport industries. Many dock labourers have been put out of employment because of the starting of some of these industries. A very high-tariffed wall has been created to protect them, and people in general are paying for them because in every case the tariff has been passed on in its entirety to the consumers. If the whole question were examined it would be found that that is the situation—that the people are paying the tariff in its entirety.

I think the time has arrived when the Government should examine the position so far as tariffs are concerned, see to the operation of these tariffs and to what extent the people are being overcharged. On the matter of unemployment and industry generally, I noticed that the other day, when the Minister for Finance was replying to the Budget debate, he told us that there were certain towns and areas in this country that were in a very prosperous condition in consequence of Government policy. He mentioned the town in which I reside, Wexford. He said at the moment that that town was in a very prosperous condition. I would like the Minister to go down to the town of Wexford and to tell the large number of the unemployed there that their town was in a very prosperous condition. So far as the people of that town are concerned, I know very well the answer the Minister would get. There is a very large number of unemployed there, and they can see anything but prosperity staring them in the face.

There is a sum of £13,903 in the Minister's Estimate for the expenses of the Prices Commission. I am at a loss to know how that money is being spent, and what value the people are getting for the expenditure.

There is a special motion down about that.

Well, this item is mentioned in the Estimate, and money is being provided for it. As a matter of fact, the Minister referred to it on Thursday or Friday last when introducing this Estimate.

Perhaps Deputy Corish is not aware that there is an amendment down by Deputy Dockrell.

I prefer to speak on it now. I will not detain the House very long. There is here an item of £13,903 and we want to know what benefit is being derived by the people from that expenditure? I noticed that four inspectors are supposed to be operating. Do they ever operate outside the City of Dublin or the larger cities in this country? Do they ever visit the provincial areas? It is not apparent to anybody what particular purpose is being served by the appointment of these four inspectors. When people consider themselves being overcharged they are supposed to report to the Prices Commission. I am of opinion that these inspectors should be periodically sent into the different parts of the country in order to find out for themselves what prices are operating because we know quite well that day after day poor people are being overcharged. These people are not going to sit down and write a letter to the Minister that they were overcharged for a particular commodity. Sometimes they would not have even the 2d. for the stamp and in the second place because of their relations with the shopkeeper concerned they would be afraid to draw attention to the fact that they were overcharged. Would the Minister give the House some idea of what the Prices Commission are doing? What are the four inspectors doing? What part of the country do they visit or do they ever visit an establishment until somebody who considers himself overcharged writes to the Minister?

When are we going to have the legislation promised for the improvement of harbours? It is a good number of years since the Piers and Harbours Tribunal sat. That tribunal went all over the country and took evidence in the different centres where the tribunal was operating. It appears to me that the Government are only concerned with the larger harbours. A good many of the small harbours in the country have been neglected. Certain recommendations were made by that tribunal which would be for the betterment of the smaller harbours. I would like to know from the Minister when it is intended to implement by legislation the findings of that tribunal? I do not think I have anything else to say on the matter, but I should like to hear a little more from the Minister on the unemployment situation than he told us in his opening statement.

I can scarcely feel, from my own experience and from my own knowledge, that I could have anything in common with Deputy Meaney in offering bouquets to the Minister in regard to this question of industrial development. So far as the constituency of West Cork is concerned, I can only say that two industries there, which were very important so far as the farmers there are concerned, have almost entirely disappeared, one, due, to a great extent, I believe, to the policy, or lack of policy, of the Minister for Agriculture, but in regard to that I shall have something to say on another Estimate. At any rate, we have very little employment now in one particular industry. All I have to say is, that we have very little employment in these two industries down there. The slate quarries in West Cork have afforded very little employment for quite some time now. The Benduff quarries have turned out products that are well and favourably known not alone in this country but outside this country, and yet they have been working on a skeleton staff for quite a long time now, and I understand that, for some weeks past, they have been closed down.

I am informed that this is largely due to the preference given, either directly or indirectly, by the present Government to the tile-manufacturing industry, but I think that when the whole matter is examined, from the point of view of employment at any rate, it will be found that the amount of employment given in the tile industry, as compared with the amount of employment that would be given in the slate quarries, is comparatively small, and I think it is criminal neglect to allow these slate quarries to reach such a stage as not to be able to give any employment. I think it is criminal that, in view of the amount of employment that would be given by the working of these slate quarries, no effort should have been made by the Minister's Department to develop these quarries, and thereby give employment to a number of people who are in need of it.

There was one other industry, in an extreme portion of West Cork—or rather at the extreme end of the county—which gave a lot of employment. At one time, there were about 70 or 80 men employed there in the quarrying of granite, largely for export. Now, I am not indicting the Minister for what has happened with regard to that particular industry, which has also disappeared. I am not indicting him for the disappearance of that industry, but I am indicting him for his failure to do something towards providing employment in that district. During the last war there was a good deal of remunerative employment given in that district in the barytes industry. The barytes deposits in West Cork have been exploited, from time to time, over a number of years, and one would think that, in a situation such as we have at present, some indication of policy from the Government would be forthcoming in regard to the development of that industry, but there has been no such indication. I complain, therefore, that the two industries in that part of the country which, one might assume, could be relied upon to afford a fair measure of employment, have completely disappeared, and therefore, I suggest, that instead of being in the position of offering compliments to the Government on their success in industrial development or the success of industry under their regime, whatever industry we had, in that part of the country, at least, has completely disappeared.

That brings me to the question of the plight of the workers in this country. I wonder whether there is any realisation of the hardships that are being imposed as a result of the present situation. The hardships imposed by the present situation can hardly be exaggerated, and when one has knowledge of the large number of these cases, and the almost terrible physical efforts made by these people in order to barely exist on their present resources, one is compelled to wonder at the manner in which people seem to have become resigned, to a certain extent, to their difficulties. In that connection, I do not think it is unfair to suggest that the whole official attitude is one of indifference to the hardships of these people. There is no evidence of any policy in regard to the unemployment problem in this country or in regard to the administration of the measures designed, or alleged to be designed, for the relief of unemployment. The administration of the present Unemployment Assistance Act shows, as far as one can see, an attempt to move away from the position that was accepted when that Act was first put into force.

That Act was intended, and believed, to be a measure to provide help for people over a period of difficulty, and the expectation was that, when the unemployment position in this country would have been very substantially reduced—as seemed to be anticipated— the need for that Act would not exist any longer, or at least only to a very small extent. Now, the amounts paid in unemployment assistance, instead of being increased as a result of the increased unemployment and the present situation, are being reduced, and the whole policy of the Government seems to me to be reduced to one of paying less to the unemployed people. Now, I could not very well complain of that position if, at the same time, a corresponding effort was being made to increase employment. One would welcome anything that would tend to end the operation of the Unemployment Assistance Act, and welcome anything that would mean the provision of work for our unemployed. There is no evidence of that, however; and I complain very much, therefore, of this policy of attrition with regard to the operation of the Unemployment Assistance Act, and I think that there should be a revision of the working of that Act—particularly with regard to the complete secrecy which seems to surround the methods of dealing with people who are seeking unemployment assistance. The average unemployed person is not in a position to put up a case in the manner in which a case is prepared for a solicitor going into court. They are, to a very large extent, unaware of the rights under the Act. The only thing they know about is their need, and that is the most urgent and real thing for them at present. Without having an opportunity of uttering a word in their own defence, except in so far as they answer questions when the investigation takes place, certain means figures are arrived at in many cases, with a complete disregard or ignorance of the facts.

There was recently brought to the notice of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Department the case of a mason, aged 68 years, residing with his wife in West Cork, who received unemployment assistance occasionally, and who got certain short periods of work. The information was conveyed to the Minister's Department that since last September that man had not had one day's work. At the same time his case was examined in pursuance of this policy of reducing the amounts paid in unemployment assistance, and a means figure of 8/- per week was assessed, thus depriving him of unemployment assistance. His case came before the West Cork Board of Assistance recently, and he was granted home assistance. The official reply in that case was that a certain figure was arrived at and confirmed, and that the man had no further right of appeal. Is there no hope for people in cases of that kind? I should not wonder at the attitude of people who are the victims of that system if there is not some change of heart in the administration of the Act.

I suggest to the Minister that there is as good a case for the right of personal representation in connection with the assessment of means in respect of unemployment assistance as there is in the case of widows' pensions or old age pensions. I ask the Minister to consider giving unemployed people an opportunity of being represented or being present when their cases are under investigation, and of offering rebutting evidence to the official case that is made in matters of this kind. The Minister for Local Government conceded that right to widows under the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Act some time ago, and it is a recognised right in connection with old age pensions. I know of no reason why it should not be complied with in the administration of the Unemployment Assistance Act by giving to certain officials of the Minister's Department the function of referees for dealing with appeals of this kind and enabling the whole case to be examined in that way.

I ask for some more elaborate statements than we have had already from the Minister with regard to the unemployment problem, which constitutes a terrible menace at the present time. If the Minister consults any of the Church authorities or the social workers or the officials of local authorities, I think he will find a feeling growing up amongst such people who are constantly in touch with the poor people in this country that the position is getting extremely serious. One does not want to exaggerate the position here, but there is certainly a very serious situation developing when the average person, who is idle through no fault of his own, begins completely to despair of anything being done for him. It is a situation of that kind in other countries which is largely responsible for the world being in the condition in which it is to-day. It seems to me that the Minister and the officials of his Department would want to look very seriously at this whole question. If they have failed to provide any policy for substantially reducing employment, at least they ought to see that what is provided by the State for the unemployed is given to them without the official obstacles and impediments that seem to increase as time goes on in regard to unemployment assistance.

I should like to ask the Minister whether the intention is to scrap this Act, not publicly, but by a reduction of the amount paid under it, by reductions arising out of increases in the amounts assessed for means, by increases in the length of the Period Orders, and by this new system of forced labour which has developed recently whereby people are deprived of unemployment assistance if they refuse to go to work in a bog and receive at the end of a week's work the sum of 4/-. If that is the kind of turf development we may expect in the next 12 months, then I am afraid it is going to make the position worse instead of better. In that situation we had the funds provided for relieving and reducing unemployment raided and reduced in order to balance the Budget. That Budget is the most dismal reminder that we could have of how hopeless the position is with regard to unemployment assistance. At a time when the great armies of the world are being shattered to pieces, we make ourselves utterly ridiculous by the provision of large sums of money for an Army that, in the present circumstances, one could not see standing up to the difficulties of the situation even for one day. Money is being spent for that purpose while the people who are unemployed are being reduced to beggary and starvation.

I suggest to the Minister that we have reached a point in this country when the whole matter is becoming extremely grave and that discontent, restlessness, and the other things that ensue from that feeling may be expected if there is not some change in this whole position. One does not want to exaggerate the position, but contact with those who have responsibility, not only for the general wellbeing of the citizens in the physical sense, but also in the spiritual sense, makes one realise how seriously people in that position have come to regard the present degree of poverty and unemployment that prevails. I am afraid there is very little knowledge of that position officially. In this city and in its surroundings there are evidences of wealth and luxury that, to a great extent, cloud the real position, but there is no mistaking the situation in the heart of the country, and I hope that the Government and the House will be able to make some contribution before it becomes dangerous.

Having heard a great deal about what has been described as the critical state of the country, I propose to say a few words on the constructive side, in support of the views put forward by the Minister when introducing this Estimate, in regard to the necessity of those in a position to do so to help in providing fuel supplies during the coming season. Now is the proper time to be up and doing in that regard. One of the great founders of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society speaking at an inaugural meeting in 1885, said:

"If I were asked what is the most important lesson we Irishmen of to-day have to learn, I should say it was to distinguish clearly between what we ought to do for ourselves, and what the State ought to do for us."

These words are applicable to the present situation, and I emphasise them in regard to providing an alternative to the fuel that normally comes from across the Channel. If this war develops, there may be a great deal of poverty that has been complained of, but while I do not agree with the picture that was painted here, I urge that we should make sure to have an adequate supply of fuel for our people. The Minister stated the other evening that if we were to deal with the shortage of fuel during the emergency, we must rely on the producers of hand-won turf to make good the probable deficiency of imported fuel. I come from a constituency in the midlands in which there are large tracts of bog developed, partially developed, and undeveloped. As to what we can do for ourselves, to secure supplies of fuel, I may point out that there are available to help thousands of members of co-operative turf societies that were formed in recent years. While there has been a change of policy on the question, the latent enthusiasm is still there, and in the national emergency that faces us the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Turf Board should be able to get these societies working again. While their efforts should go far to supply the needs of our people, the Government and the State should be more active in regard to providing access to the bogs. I know several bogs held by private landlords where so much per perch is extracted for the right to cut turf. The result is that some people are unable to supply their own needs, much less have a surplus available for sale to their neighbours. In an emergency like the present that is work to which the Land Commission might apply itself.

I suggest that the Land Commission has bogs under its supervision, or that it has inquired about bogs on which work could be undertaken now. I know bogs that have been inspected by representatives of the Peat Development Board in recent years, where road-making and drainage could be undertaken, so that the turf could be got out to the roadside during the coming harvest. I suggest that some of the unemployed could be engaged on that work. Probably in two or three seasons out of ten, when turf is ready to be brought home after being reared and clamped on the bog, farmers and rural workers who are finishing the harvest find when the weather breaks that they have to carry it out long distances in sacks. I do not think anybody could criticise a Government Department or the Turf Board if the improvement of the roads, and also drainage, were undertaken. If even £50 was spent on roads on some of these bogs, that expenditure would ensure more turf being available for the local people and for markets as far away as Dublin. Over 160 cooperative turf societies were established some years ago, representing a membership of 13,000 or 14,000. I know something about the formation of those societies, and speaking for at least 15 or 16 of them, I know that if they receive consideration at the hands of a Government Department in the carrying out of work that would have been finished now but for a change of policy, there is a willingness to have more turf cut than is required locally and sold to the community.

Should the present deplorable war that is scourging Europe continue, it would be a good thing for the countryside to have clamps of turf in the compounds that were prepared by some of these societies, where they would be accessible to lorries and could be sent to districts in which fuel was required. In that connection there may be a difficulty as regards the transport of the turf. In the present emergency, with petrol likely to be scarce, the assistance of the railways should be invoked. Societies whose bogs are situate within two or three miles of railway stations or sidings could deliver their turf there for long-distance transport. In that way the transport problem would be eased. The Minister, in his opening speech, said that all the hand-won turf saved would find a market, probably at very handsome prices. I am inclined to think that if, in the case of a reasonably drained bog with any depth of turf, the producer knew that he would get from 15/- to £1 per ton, according to quality—quality makes a big difference in price—it would encourage him to produce more. If the people concerned were told immediately by the Turf Board or by the Minister that they would get the co-operation of the State, that when the season for turf-cutting had expired at the end of June or early in July, some of the unemployed would be turned on to the improvement and repair of the roads and certain necessary small-drainage jobs, it would be a great advantage.

I have in mind some bogs which were drained and partially developed a few years ago when turf societies were functioning. Certain unemployment moneys were diverted to this purpose and spent partially under the control of the county council engineers in co-operation with the engineers of the Turf Development Board. Extremely good work was done in that way. People can bring their horses miles into the bog now where, before, they could not bring them more than half a mile from the roadside. In some cases, the work then done would require to be overhauled in the case of bogs where good production of turf could be expected.

I have, I think, said enough to emphasise that, in the midlands, there is a great opportunity to absorb quite a large number of men on this work. I disagree with the Deputy who said a short time ago—I dislike mentioning the names of individuals in debate— that this particular work is no good to the unemployed. I know quite a number of unemployed men who had the pluck to join up with their neighbours who also happened to be unemployed, get a few perches of bog and produce turf for sale over and above their own requirements. The unemployed men walking the countryside would be much better employed on the bogs. We all regret that so many men are unemployed. Finding fault with this Government Department or that Government Department will not bring a solution of the unemployment problem one day sooner. If everybody would contribute some suggestion, it might go a long way towards helping matters. On the bogs of the area I have the honour to represent, I am satisfied that, if we got certain State co-operation, we could get a couple of hundred men going between now and next October on work of national importance. These men would be much better engaged on that work than in drawing moneys for which they give no return and which they would prefer not to take in the circumstances. I hope that what I have tried to say will be treated as a sincere effort to be constructive and helpful to the Minister and as support for his plea for the supply of all our fuel needs from native sources this year.

Some people have suggested that conditions in connection with machine-won turf were not as desirable, from the employment point of view, as one would expect. I live within six or seven miles of the development works at Clonsast. I know something of that scheme. I know something, too, of good rural workers, brought up in the art of using spade and shovel. As one brought up from boyhood on the bogs and fields of rural Ireland, I do not agree with those who speak with a superiority complex about our rural workers. The agricultural worker—I refer to the man who is a decent worker and not a shirker—is really a skilled artisan. The man who knows how to use a slean in the bog and who knows how to turn a furrow straight or do any other class of agricultural work efficiently is a skilled worker. It would be ridiculous for me to say that I could pilot an aeroplane and, when I hear people talk about the rural worker, I am reminded of the old and true saying, "Let the cobbler stick to his last". There are large numbers of Clonsast workers earning from 35/- to 48/- a week on the development works there. I want to say, frankly, that work on bogs is hard work. Everybody in rural Ireland knows it is hard work. Men accustomed to similar work are able for it when they get in on the knack of things.

No man need expect that he will become accustomed to that kind of work in a week or two. He will have to harden himself to it, and he will have to be satisfied to persist in it for a little while until he has developed the knack of doing the job. I have recently made special inquiry into the matter, and I find that the average wage of men working in the drains is between 38/- and 44/- or 45/- a week. A newcomer cannot expect to do the job well or to earn as much as a man who has been doing that work for some years. Anyone who knows farming conditions knows what used to be done in years gone by when drainage work on the farms was set by so much a perch. Very often, before the harvest, when the field drains would be dry, rural workers would take on that work at so much a perch. They would work hard at it and would be content with what they would earn.

I am satisfied that on the bogs and in the fields of rural Ireland the biggest contribution to the final solution of the unemployment problem of this country will be found. I do not like to hear people saying that Irishmen have to flee to England. I do not think that class of thing helps us in any way. I think every member of this House should contribute something by trying to approach the matter in a constructive spirit and not simply to blame it on the Government or on somebody else, and leave it at that. From experience, I know what I am talking about, and I definitely state that in the fields and bogs of our country, and in a general rural development, we can deal with a big percentage, not all, of our unemployment difficulty. Many former rural residents of Ireland to-day only require some encouragement to come from the cities instead of queuing up outside the labour exchanges. If they would come back into the countryside and admit that they had failed in their quest for better conditions elsewhere, and settle down to the normal life there, it would be better for them. I have in mind men who, for no reason whatsoever, who were not unemployed but who, in pursuit of high wages and better conditions in the farming fields of England and Scotland, two or three years ago— and, undoubtedly, better conditions for rural workers did prevail there as regards wages, etc.—were lured away from their homes. In recent times they have been very glad to come back and settle down in their own neighbourhoods again. I ask the Minister to consider the remarks I have made. I join with Deputy Davin in the plea as regards the bogs around Mountrath, which we knew the Land Commission had in hands a couple of years ago, and where there is a shortage of bogs for the local people. If the Land Commission could speed up the matter there, and also in other places, I think that would have a very useful effect.

Before the Minister rises I wish to outline the procedure. The Minister will conclude the general debate which covered both the Vote and the motion to refer back the Estimate. When the Minister has concluded, a question will be put on the motion to refer back. Deputy Dockrell's motion will then be taken, and any questions on items in the Vote. The general debate will not flow over into the discussion on items. When Deputy Dockrell's motion has been disposed of the question will be put on Vote 55. The Minister to conclude.

In the wide range and variety of this discussion the principal ground for criticism—if there was any ground for criticism at all in the address which I delivered—was that I neither professed to be a prophet nor to hold myself out as a superman. I was attacked because, in the words of Deputy Morrissey, "the Minister did not commit himself as to what he was going to do in the coming year." During the day and a half, almost, that I have listened to this debate, I have wondered whether Deputies have forgotten what are the conditions existing in Europe to-day, the conditions under which we have to carry on, the conditions which determine and govern and make and shape our problems. One thing that is clear is that this world is a much more dynamic world than it was a week ago, or it was in the latter days of last August. We here are now faced with a situation in which, from hour to hour, the whole basis of economic life in this country is being changed, and is being changed by forces which are completely outside our control; and yet all the speeches that have been made in this debate have been made by men who seem to have swept that fact from their minds, and who speak as if they thought that we here, sitting in this House, could ride the whirlwind and control the storm. Let us, at any rate in these days, be realists, and instead of Deputies glibly asking us how we are going to solve the unemployment problem, how we are going to put another 120,000 men to work, let them ask themselves how we as a community are going to keep in employment the 19 out of every 20 persons in this country who at the moment are in a position to earn their bread.

That is going to be our main problem, and it is going to be a problem that is made by Providence much more difficult in present circumstances because of the fact that ours is, as I have said so often, a dependent economy, that a very large proportion of the secondary industries that have been set afoot in this country depend upon our ability to secure and to maintain the ordinary course of supply in this country. As for our primary industry, it depends entirely, in the present world circumstances, on the ability of our neighbours to purchase from us. If any person were to hold himself out as being so omnipotent that he could deal with that situation, the first thing he would have to ask himself is: "How can I help our principal customer to maintain his position as a buyer for my produce? How am I going to secure for myself, from him or from any other source, the things which are essential in order to maintain our ordinary industrial economy here?"

Throughout this debate, which ought to have been made an occasion for helpful suggestion and advice, with the exception of a speech from Deputy Hughes and from Deputy Cogan, I did not receive from the sides of the House that are not associated with Government policy in this country one helpful suggestion.

Instead, I was told that my salary was on the Vote, and my job was to provide employment for every unemployed man. I was told I ought to tear up the unemployment regulations, or that I ought to amend these regulations in order to make it easier for people to draw unemployment assistance and continue to be a burden on this community. The suggestion I got from some Deputies is that by amending these regulations, and relaxing the restrictions which govern the administration of unemployment assistance, I should remove the last sanction that remains to make a man go out and seek work.

That is a misrepresentation.

On Friday last a junior member of this House—I do not use that in a sense of disparagement, but rather to denote the fact that he is a young member in age and experience—complained that the unemployment officers are now enforcing somewhat rigorously the statutory condition for the receipt of unemployment assistance to this effect, that applicants are expected to go round all day and every day looking for work. I want to say emphatically that so long as I am Minister for Industry and Commerce, and so long as the ordinary private citizens who earn their bread by the sweat of their brow are compelled by the State to contribute to the upkeep of other people who do not happen to be in work, I expect such people to go round all day and every day looking for work. The one justification, the one right or claim or title that any man, young or old, in this country has to receive unemployment assistance, is that he is genuinely seeking work, and if he is not genuinely seeking work and does not make a genuine effort—and I do not mean a mere formal request for a job—to get work then, in my opinion, he is not entitled to be a burden upon his neighbours who have themselves got jobs. Life has not been easy in this country for the people who have jobs. They did not find it easy to get the jobs, but the great majority of them went out and got jobs for themselves, and, having got them, they held them, and are entitled to the utmost of what they earn because of that fact.

One of the things I deplore most of of all in relation to this unemployment problem is the way in which the constant harping upon the regulations relating to the unemployed is sapping the whole moral fibre of our people. There is no person who has greater sympathy than I have for the man who is in want through no fault of his own, the man who genuinely wants a job and cannot get it; but I have no sympathy for the slacker or the shirker, and we must be careful, in relation to a matter of this kind, that we do not encourage the slacker or the shirker. We must be careful lest, out of concern for the people in genuine need, we relax the sanctions which are necessary to compel every one of us to work. Work is not such an enjoyable thing that the great majority of us would not be glad to avoid it if we could. That is a basic feature in human nature, and we must be careful, all the time we are talking about unemployment and so on, that we do not encourage and develop that as a failing in our people.

Does the Minister suggest that anybody is?

Quite frankly I do. I do think that, quite unwittingly, there are members of the Labour Party and the Opposition Party—not all of them—and I suppose there are members of my own Party—I do not want to single out one Party more than another in regard to this matter—who have made speeches from time to time in this House in which that basic fact has been lost sight of—that you must give men some urge to work; that it is not the natural inclination of a man to slave from morning till night; that he likes to bask in the sun, just as I would like to, if I could do it.

What do you think of the Clonsast experiment?

I have been asked what do I think of the Clonsast experiment. We heard a great deal about that. Deputy Murphy talked about the men who were sent down to work on the bog and who got 4/- a week. These men were brought down and housed in good, comfortable quarters. I went through the camp myself. I saw it and I can tell you this, that I spent some of the best years of my young life in very much worse surroundings, in much less comfortable beds, and I certainly had not the good food that was provided there. Here was this camp with comfortable accommodation for every man, simply furnished but comfortable, good and clean beds and plenty of fresh air, facilities for amusement and recreation and plenty of good food. They were provided with tool money and the use of boots, and on top of that, during the period when they were learning the job —it is a skilled job, as Deputy Gorry told us—they were given, in addition, 4/- a week pocket money.

These were young men who had been medically examined to ensure that they were physically fit, fit for physical labour. They were taken out of slum surroundings in Dublin and sent to where they had plenty of fresh air, good healthy work and plenty of good healthy food. On top of that they had in their pockets 4/- a week while they were learning the job. Nobody expected that they would earn their keep in the first week or even the first three weeks, but there was a scale of remuneration laid down for them and within a short time they would have been earning 35/- or 36/- a week, the same as the rest.

What happened? Perhaps I had better tell the House the history of this experiment from the beginning. Out of those who were on the live register of unemployment in the Dublin Exchange, after a careful search and scrutiny of the records, a list of 200 men, who seemed to be of the right age and young and healthy so far as one could see, was compiled. Out of that list of 200, 100 men were selected to go for medical examination. One of them did not present himself for medical examination; 11 were rejected as not being physically fit for work of the type that was to be carried out on the bog. There were 88 passed as fit for work and they were presumed to be genuinely seeking work. The 88 were told to report themselves and, of the 88, 31 did not even turn up to see what the job was like.

Mr. Brennan

Who was responsible for it?

On the Saturday 57 went down to the bog, and on the following Monday morning 31 of them left the bog.

They said they did not like the job. I shall leave that aspect of the matter until a little later. Of the 26 who remained, within, I think, a fortnight or three weeks, ten more had deserted, and only 16 out of the original 100 submitted to the doctor for medical examination now remain at work. Of course, I shall be told by some people that it is hard work. There are men earning 27/- and 30/- a week throughout the countryside who do just as arduous work and who, because they are at work, are not according to the demands of some people are to have the privilege of paying for these men who would not stay at work on the bog. I will be told that it is hard work and that you have to be inured to it. That fact was recognised from the start.

I am asked why did these men leave the bog. They left it because they did not like the job, and, of course, naturally, they are no longer in receipt of unemployment assistance. We have an agitation here in Dublin to allow them to qualify again for unemployment assistance, and we have, I regret to say, that agitation sponsored by the organ of the Dublin Labour Party, so that we are now getting to the stage that not merely must the State provide work or maintenance, but it must provide the sort of work that we like. There are men cleaning drains and sewers and doing scavenging work in this city; there are men doing lots of dirty and unpleasant jobs throughout the country; but these men cannot down tools and say: "We do not like the job", walk off and expect to be treated as men genuinely seeking work. But, mind you, that would appear to be the attitude now being inculcated throughout the country in the minds of a very large number of our people, and particularly our young people, by the sort of talk that goes on here in this House and throughout the country to the effect that the Government has done nothing for the unemployed.

There is no Government in Europe has done as much, according to its means, as this Government has done for those who are out of work. There is no other country in Europe can point to an Unemployment Assistance Act like ours, applied to the great mass of the people and giving unemployment assistance to people who are even admitted to have means. Almost 60 per cent. of the people on the live register in receipt of unemployment assistance are people with means, with some source of steady income—not people who are dependent upon casual employment for their means, but people who own land, who have small pensions or some other source of steady income. On top of that, we have the remaining 40 per cent. who are people without means who might normally be upon the labour market in this or any other country. In addition, we are spending enormous sums on the Land Commission; we have been spending enormous sums on employment schemes, on building programmes and on development work of one sort or another; and here at this moment, when the whole community is put to the pin of its collars to meet its everyday obligations, the only matter which can be discussed here on the Vote for the office of the Minister for Industry and Commerce is the allegation that this Government is not doing enough to relieve unemployment.

I do wish, as I said before, that we would remember what the world around us is like to-day, that when we come in here to discuss these matters, we would at least approach them with some sense of the reality of things, and that, instead of complaining because we have not been able to get more money out of the pockets of the people who are at work, we would make up our minds that, in future, we are going to tell those who are out of work that they have to try for themselves and see what they can do to help us out. I should be quite willing, so far as Government action can help them in relation to the need for cutting turf or anything like that, to approach my colleagues who are more immediately concerned in this matter than I am, and to ask them to place all the facilities possible at the disposal of men who think they can turn the present emergency to their own use and advantage by trying to provide us with fuel and other commodities which we may want; but, for God's sake, let us get out of this intolerable habit of thinking that it is the Government's job primarily to put bread in every man's mouth, and to give him jam along with it. It is the ordinary private citizen who has the first and primary obligation for his maintenance, and until we become seized of that fact, and until we stop making our people mendicants upon the Government, there is going to be no hope for the future progress or prosperity of this country.

I was asked by Deputy Mulcahy what steps we propose to take in relation to the conservation of coal supplies. That is a problem which is receiving the attention of the Minister for Supplies and of myself, in so far as my efforts will be ancillary to his. It will be, I think, generally recognised that the problem in relation to the coal supplies became really acute only comparatively recently. I think we shall be able to deal with the problem, and in order that we may eke our supplies out so far as we can, and to give every encouragement to people who own turbaries to produce turf, I feel that we shall be able, when the need for it arises, to enforce the provisions of the Turf Act in relation to certain districts. Deputy Mulcahy wanted to know whether I did propose to take action under the Turf Act. As I say, that is a matter for consideration, and, when the need arises, I think that we will invoke our powers under that Act, but I am glad to see that at least the foresight of my predecessor, who put that Act on the Statute Book in spite of opposition, has now been recognised, and that we have ready to our hand an instrument for the regulation of fuel consumption in the country. With regard to the problem which Deputy Davin, and other Deputies also, mentioned, the problem which arises from the fact that the greater part of the bogs in this country is in private ownership, it may be necessary, in order to get the turf production under way, to bring in a measure to ensure that unreasonable conditions will not be exacted by the owners of these turf banks, where it appears that they can be properly utilised for the production of turf.

Will that be for next year?

It will have to be for next year. This is a matter which cannot be dealt with by emergency regulation, because, as the Deputy is aware, it does touch the rights of property. People who have these bogs have paid for them in most cases, and we cannot just simply ride in roughshod over them, but in relation to bogs under Government control we may be able to make regulations which will, at any rate, enable them to be available to those who wish to work them.

They are available under the Land Acts.

I am not so sure that they are available precisely in the way in which they are required now.

Will the Minister hurry up the appeals pending in these cases?

I am not the Minister responsible for the Land Commission, and I am not going to answer for him. I will represent to him what Deputies have said here in the course of the debate. It is a matter to which my attention has already been drawn. We have been making representations, and I will reinforce my representations by what the Deputy has already said.

Deputy Davin has raised the question of the Castlecomer strike. The position there is that the price of Castlecomer fuel has been fixed by the Prices Commission, based upon certain wage rates which have prevailed in the mines for some time. I understand that the dispute has been occasioned by the demand on the part of the miners for increased wages. I am not going to enter into the merits or demerits of the dispute, but that is a fact. We have been told by the Deputy's leader about rising prices and about the cost of living going up. If wages go up, naturally profits go up proportionately and—worst of all—the cost of the commodities to the consumer goes up, not merely in proportion to the increase in wages but in proportion to the increase in profits as well. Members of the Labour Party cannot have it both ways: they cannot have high wages and low prices at the same time. They have got to make up their minds as to the leg on which they are going to stand—whether they want a rising cost of living or a cost of living at least remaining as close as possible to the present level.

To pre-war level.

To the present level, which Deputies never tire of representing to this House as already too high for their satisfaction. I cannot do more than say—as I have said already in the House—that we cannot hope to prevent a rise in the cost of living if we allow all other costs to go up indiscriminately. I have to consider the interests of the community as a whole in relation to these matters, and accordingly I cannot be expected to make an attempt to drive up rates of remuneration in the interests of one section of the people only.

I was asked what was the position in relation to the report on transport and railways. That report is still under consideration in certain of the Government Departments, including my own. Deputy Davin, I think, said that the report has been in my hands for ten months. As a matter of fact, it has been in my hands only for nine months. The inquiry was a very difficult one, as the Deputy knows. Certain conclusions were arrived at, and I have now to form my own conclusions from them. In doing that, naturally, I have to consult the other Departments of State concerned in this matter and try to form, as a result, a balanced view. The Deputy seems to have forgotten that since I got the report the European war has broken out and that a very large part of the nine months which has elapsed since the report came into my hands has been devoted —and necessarily so—to other matters of more pressing and more urgent importance. The Deputy has asked whether the statement made by the General Manager of the Great Southern Railways before the Railway Wages Board was true. In the main, it is true that, if an increase were granted, the Irish railways would not be able to meet their overhead charges. What is the Deputy and his Party going to do about that?

The Minister has a policy: he had one in 1931.

And the Deputy has an obligation. If the railways are in the position represented by the general manager, what does Deputy Davin suggest I should do? Am I to must other people in order to meet the increased demands? If not, what am I to do? There is the position of the railways, and those who are engaged in that work will have to look into it and consider it very carefully. Otherwise, there may be a breakdown which would involved them and us— involve the railways and the community as a whole—in disaster. When considering a problem of that sort, naturally, I would like to be guided by the advice of so experienced a railwayman as Deputy Davin.

I am afraid the Minister would not take my advice.

Deputy Crowley referred to the position of the woollen trade. Whether he meant to do so or not, I think he gave the House the impression that the woollen industry had been treated very shabbily by the Government since they came into office. I would like to disabuse Deputy Crowley of that impression. Probably no single industry has received more protection here than the woollen industry. This protection has taken the form of quotas and duties governing all classes and types of cloth made in the Irish mills or capable of being substituted for Irish cloth. The proof of that is the fact that, since 1932, the production of the Irish mills has been doubled. The balance of the cloth imported into this country is of very light and cheap cloths for both men and women either of weight, type and price that could not in any circumstances be fairly substituted by Irish cloth.

It has been suggested that I ought to shut out artificial silks and rayon and all cheap cloths. That would be an attractive proposal from the point of view of manufacturers and of those engaged in the woollen industry, but it must be remembered that they by no means represent all the people and that the majority of the people here might have a great deal to say. While it is true that some of us in the House can gratify our tastes with regard to the Irish cloths and by what we like to wear, the fact remains that there are a great many people who cannot afford to pay for the higher quality cloth turned out by the Irish mills. We have got to think of them. We have also got to remember, this as a basic fact of existence: a person is entitled, as a natural right—while one may limit him in certain ways in the interests of the community—to have an article, if the article is available and if he is able to buy it. In developing Irish industry, I do not think we can start from the point of view that a person is only entitled to buy what the Irish manufacturer is able to supply, because very soon we would find that ours would be a drab and sordid existence, indeed, for suppliers on occasion can enforce very rigid control of the market.

I should like, therefore, to ensure that, while we are doing everything possible to encourage our industries, there will be a certain latitude allowed for the gratification of personal tastes. I think that is the best way to make the industrial development policy more easily acceptable to the general mass of the people. This idea that a manufacturer has a right to turn out a certain article, that he has a right to insist that other people will buy it, use it or eat it, is one of the things that raise the gorge in everyone of us. We like to go into a shop and to be allowed to select our purchases with some sort of choice. Naturally, because the majority of us are patriotic, we give a preference to the Irish manufactured article, but it is our job to see that, within reasonable limits, the same element of choice is given to the consumer in this country as in most other countries.

That is rather strange.

It may be strange, but that is my philosophy in the matter and I think it is going to help us in getting ahead with our industrial programme in a much better and more expeditious fashion than if we were to adopt the rather rigid attitude which has been suggested in regard to woollens.

I have gone into shops and asked for Irish articles. They were not displayed, and when I insisted on getting them, they had to go to the back of the shop to get them for me.

The best course the Deputy could have taken in that case was to have walked out of the shop. I am perfectly certain that if he had taken the trouble to walk out, he would have found another shop ready to produce the Irish article, and to put it into the window. I know there are shops in Dublin which are disinclined to put Irish products in their windows, but it is equally true to say that there are other shops which take a pride in featuring Irish-manufactured commodities. These are the shops which have gone ahead. You can do the same thing in Cork as an influential public man——

There is a sufficient variety of Irish-manufactured articles to satisfy everybody.

The Deputy is entitled to his view, but, mind you, there may be others who have another view. I am only suggesting that the more the people you can convert to your view, the greater demand there will be for Irish products. By that means, we can get more easily a willing acceptance of the Irish article amongst the great bulk of the Irish people than by simply attempting to ram it down their necks.

Deputy Morrissey, in the course of his speech, alleged that we had bungled the fertiliser position, because we had not allowed fertilisers to come in when they were available. If my recollection is right, I think there has not been any duty on fertilisers for some considerable time. There was quota control, and there had to be quota control for certain reasons.

There was a duty on it.

There was a duty on one class.

There was a duty on superphosphates.

So far as the quota was concerned, the quota was so large and it was so easy to get a licence, that it represented almost free import. On that basis, I do not think there was any justification for the criticism which Deputy Morrissey levelled against us in relation to fertilisers.

I think the Minister is incorrect in saying that there was no duty on fertilisers because, so far as superphosphates are concerned, you could not import superphosphates without paying a duty up to six or seven weeks ago.

There was no duty on British fertilisers. There was, I think, a duty on foreign fertilisers.

There was a duty up to six or seven weeks ago.

No, I think the Deputy is misinformed in relation to that.

There has been no duty since the Financial Agreement.

One of my clearest recollections after my becoming Minister for Industry and Commerce—the matter had been in train before I took over the portfolio-was that one of the first things I had to do was to fix a wider quota, so as to allow the import practically free of restriction. As I say, the matter had been in train, and I only completed the job by affixing my signature. The size of the quota now really means that there is no restriction on imports. I am advised that since the Agreement of 1938, there has been no duty on British fertilisers.

Deputy Meaney referred to the question of phosphate rock in Clare. That matter has been engaging the attention of two or three departments for some time. The position has not been an easy one, because it has been very difficult to get a really experienced person to advise us in regard to these deposits; but we are now, I think, taking steps which will ensure some practical results in as short a period as possible.

Deputy Murphy suggested that we had killed the slate quarry industry in West Cork. My information is, that so far from killing the industry, we placed financial resources at the disposal of quarry owners for the development of their quarries. A large number of slate quarries have had the benefit of guaranteed loans under the Trade Loans (Guarantee) Acts. Some of the slate quarries in West Cork, in fact, got free grants of moneys provided for the relief of unemployment. There was also a duty on imported slates. Short of simply telling the people that they would have to use slates, willy nilly, for the roofing of houses, I do not see what more we could have done.

You could have prevented the use of artificial tiles instead of slates.

Naturally that is one of the penalties we have to pay for certain advantages. If the slate industry has been affected in consequence of the utilisation of tiles, it must be remembered that the use of tiles has made houses cheaper for the people.

For the time being.

For the time being. If the time comes when artificial tiles are as dear as slates, and when it becomes economic to reopen slate quarries, they will be reopened. One other factor which Deputy Murphy mentioned as being responsible for the closing down of the West Cork slate quarries was the fact that they had an export market formerly and had lost it. Of course that export market ceased, but what can we do about it, or what can anybody do about it? If people in Glasgow who used Irish slates for the roofing of houses are no longer building, how can the responsibility be fastened on us? You may say that we should have done something, but is there any Deputy on the Labour Benches who can tell us, if an export market falls off, and if our customers outside the country for one reason or another do not want to purchase our commodities, what alternative we have? We cannot coerce our former customers. The sooner people face up to that fact, the better for themselves.

What I have said in relation to slates applies also to cut granite. There was a time here when cut stone was largely used for building, but the expense of building out of cut stone has increased so enormously that you cannot even get it around Dublin or anywhere else, whereas 60 or 70 years ago stone was very largely used for the building of ordinary private dwellinghouses. Again I ask, what are we going to do in a situation like that? To come back to what I said at the beginning, if costs in any industry, for any reason, are driven up so high that the people stop buying, what remedy is there for it, whether you are buying transport, buying slates or buying granite? Instead of coming and complaining because certain factors have made the position what it is, those who are interested in, and intimately acquainted with, those matters ought to try and put their heads together and see how the few natural resources which we once had in this country, and which were of economic value to the community, can be made worth while to the community again. That is a fundamental problem in this whole matter. When we see our slates and granite dying out, when we see even our export trade in beer and spirits dying out, what are we going to do?

Deputy Davin referred to the fact that the maltings at Mountmellick were being closed. Why? Because the output of the brewery on which those maltings depend has been dwindling. If there is no custom for your trade and no custom for your commodities, what are you going to do about it? This idea that everything in the world is going to be cured by a subsidy cannot be applied at any rate to the brewing industry, because even Deputy Davin, I think, has strong views on the encouragement of temperance.

How does the Minister know what my views are on that?

Well, I think they are stronger than mine might be. But again, is not that the foundation of the whole matter? What are we going to do if, as I have said, our export market falls off for a number of things and if our internal market falls off for them? We cannot go on, and no concern can be expected to go on maintaining uneconomic factors in its production. Otherwise it is going to perish. This country cannot remain static. Our producers, who have to produce for a competitive market, must get a chance in relation to that market, if we are even to preserve the remains of our industries here, let alone start to develop them. That is one of the facts which I would like Deputy Davin to turn over in his mind. While I feel like him for the position of those who are thrown out of employment by reason of what has happened at Mountmellick or elsewhere, nevertheless the only thing we can do, instead of going along and getting the Government to try and do something which in the nature of things it would not be justified in doing, is to see what use can be made out of the small grant which has been offered to the people who are engaged in that industry. I have said, a small amount, but it was some thousands of pounds, and if Deputy Davin is interested in the matter he should try and see whether the £6,000 could not be employed reproductively, even in Mountmellick. I think it would be much better to take that line of approach to a problem of this sort than to ask me to make representations where I know representations would be vain and useless, because the people who are responsible for maintaining that great undertaking which gives employment within the City of Dublin to thousands of people as well as to thousands through the country districts have decided that they must close the Mountmellick maltings.

That is not the only one.

It is not, but does it solve the problem to say that it is not the only one? Is it not far better to face up to what the facts are, when the demands for brewing and malting accommodation have been considerably reduced because of a change in the habits of our people, and because of the fact, perhaps, that their export trade is not as flourishing as it used to be?

And because Park Royal is there.

Who put Park Royal there? Can the Deputy give me some way of bringing it back if the costs of production are to remain lower in Park Royal than they are in Dublin? Who is going to bring back Park Royal? Is not the sort of talk which we have had in this House for the last one and a half days going to make a few more Park Royals in relation to other industries in this country? It is because Park Royal is an omen and a warning to us that I have spoken on that aspect of the problem in the way in which I have to-day and why I have tried to insist on my view that the only future and the only hope for industrial progress in this country is along the lines of striving for increased output and increased efficiency in regard to all our productive industries. When we have solved that problem, when we are able here in our own country to face the competitor on fair terms and able to beat him, then we can say that the work of Arthur Griffith has been completed: that we have an Ireland in which her two arms, industry and agriculture, have been equally developed.

Can the Minister say what immediate further assistance is likely to be given to the people who are prepared to develop the coal resources of Wolfhill and Killeshin, and whether the promised legislation the Minister has referred to is likely to be introduced and passed before the end of the summer session?

In relation to the promised legislation, I am hoping to have it introduced and passed before the present session concludes. As regards the people to whom the Deputy has referred, the Government would expect them, if they are going into this thing as a business proposition, to put their own money into it, because they are going to get ordinary profit out of it. I certainly am not going to put Government money into it and allow them to get all the profit out of it. That is the beginning and the end of the situation so far as I am concerned. There have been grants of money given to some people to open up coal resources down there. I think that the grants already given were generous.

For boring?

In another country this is the sort of work the private investor would have to undertake at his own expense.

In this atmosphere, I think the Minister should extend his generosity to North Cork.

I will look into the question of the Cork mines, which the Deputy referred to, later. In relation to the Mines and Minerals Act, I want to say that it is essential that the Bill should go through before we can foster any large scale development of coal mining in this country, and I hope, as I have said, to be able to get the Bill through before the end of this session.

Would the Minister say whether the proposed legislation is to be an amendment of the Mines and Minerals Act?

And only that?

It is essentially an amendment of the Mines and Minerals Act.

Is the Minister aware that the miners in Castlecomer offered arbitration before the men ceased work? Is he also aware that, while the price of coal has been increased by 3/6 per ton, the men are receiving 2/8 per ton less than they had before the increase went on?

I am not aware of that. My information is not that the men offered arbitration, but that they asked for a conference, and the owners said that there was no prospect of a conference being of any use on the basis on which it was asked.

I am officially informed by the men themselves that they offered arbitration before they ceased work, and that they are now getting 2/8 a ton less at a time when the coal is 3/6 a ton more to the consumer, in other words, that there is an advantage of 6/2 a ton to the owners now as compared with the position in 1938-that they offered arbitration and it would not be accepted.

That is not my information.

If it is the case that the men are prepared to submit the matter to arbitration, will the Minister use the offices of his Department in an endeavour to secure a settlement?

I will consider that.

Will the Minister hold out any hope of an immediate settlement? I want to tell the Minister that there is a very serious shortage of coal.

How would the Deputy like to have it settled? Would he like to have the price of coal dearer?

Has the Minister any information?

My information is that the price of coal has been fixed by the Prices Commission, and that there has been no increase in the price that would justify a departure from the existing wage agreement.

The figures I have have been given to me officially.

Question put:—"That the Estimate be referred back for re-consideration."
The Committee divided: Tá, 34; Níl, 47.

  • Bennett, George C.
  • Brasier, Brooke.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Broderick, William J.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Byrne, Alfred (Junior).
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Daly, Patrick.
  • Davin, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry M.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Everett, James.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Giles, Patrick.
  • Hickey, James.
  • Hughes, James.
  • Hurley, Jeremiah.
  • Keating, John.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Mongan, Joseph W.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, Timothy J.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas F.
  • O'Sullivan, John M.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Reynolds, Mary.

Níl

  • Allen, Denis.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Dan.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Buckley, Seán.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Corry, Martin J.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Friel, John.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hogan, Daniel.
  • Humphreys, Francis.
  • Kelly, James P.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Loughman, Francis.
  • McCann, John.
  • McDevitt, Henry A.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Meaney, Cornelius.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Morrissey, Michael.
  • Munnelly, John.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Loghlen, Peter J.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • O'Sullivan, Ted.
  • Rice, Brigid M.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Conn.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Everett and Hickey; Níl: Deputies Smith and Seán Brady.
Question declared lost.

I move:—

That the Estimate be reduced by £14,238 in respect of sub-head K.

In proposing this amendment, I wish to point out that it only serves to bring out the extraordinary similarities between the functions of the Minister for Supplies and those of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I do not want to go into the similarities between the two Ministries but, apparently, they have divided the functions of the Prices Commission between them, and the part that is retained by the Minister for Industry and Commerce is that of an inquiry into an alteration in tariffs. I understand that that is the only function retained by the Minister for Industry and Commerce and that all other matters, under the Prices Commission, come within the scope of the Minister for Supplies. Now, earlier in the debate I raised a point—and I raised it purposely, because it seemed to run in and out between the Minister for Supplies and the Minister for Industry and Commerce—that a major blunder had been made by the Government, in their industrial policy, in not tying up, with the process of manufacture, the proper linking up of the distributing part of the trade. I do not wish to enlarge on the case I have already adverted to, namely, that the distributing trade, in certain cases, had been handed over to the control of a manufacturer who had been brought in here and supported by heavy tariffs. I also mentioned that the reason why the Government should take notice of that was that, in the old days, the distributor had the remedy in his own hands; but now, through Government action, it behoves them to see that what they have given to one section of the community they have not given to another.

One of the things that strikes one in connection with the sub-head about which I have put down this motion is that it is very possible that there will be no inquiries this year and, consequently, no expense. Yet, there is a whole paraphernalia here with regard to officials, such as the chairman, principal officer, secretary, technical adviser, superintending officers, higher executive officers, senior inspector, junior executive officers, accounts and costing investigators, and so on. I suppose that the Minister may reply to me to the effect that that is part of the whole Prices Commission, and that that is the part he took over, and that it really does not matter whether it is put under the head of Industry and Commerce or of Supplies.

That is not the explanation. The explanation is that the formal transfer of these functions to the Minister of Supplies only took place recently, although, in fact, he has been operating these functions since his Ministry was set up.

Well, if that is the position, I take it that that sub-head, in so far as it affects industry and supplies, will be radically altered?

Yes; the provision now in my Estimate for these will be transferred to the Vote for Supplies.

Well, if the functions are going to be less, then, presumably, there will be less on the Minister's Vote?

There will be an allocation of these expenses, in due course, as between one Vote and another.

Will that come up as a Supplementary Vote in this House?

It may, possibly; that is a matter for the Accounting Officer.

My point was to see how far the Minister, or the Ministers, feel that they have any responsibility to set right the position that has been created in the distributing trade. I suppose one could argue the matter from the point of view of the pure question of finance, and I am satisfied, from the Minister's statement, that there is going to be some transfer, but I am interested to find out how far any investigation could be undertaken, or how far any alleviation could be given by either one Minister or the other, along the lines I have suggested, without having to chase the two Ministers with the same energy that I have had to use in chasing them in this connection, because, remember, I was, so to speak, thrown out by one Minister and told to go to the other, and so on.

That was some time ago.

Yes, it was; but in the interval you have changed clothes, so to speak, and it is only Providence that, having raised the matter with the Minister for Supplies, I was told that he had not yet assumed his official garments, and that, having raised it with the Minister for Industry and Commerce, he said that he had divested himself of them. At any rate, between the two I was left out in the cold. The distributing trade in certain industries has a grievance. I should like to know whether, provided a case is made, the Minister will take an interest in it, or whether it is a question for the Minister for Supplies. I want the Minister when replying to pay attention to this point: whether the question I have raised is a matter for the Minister for Industry and Commerce or the Minister for Supplies. The grievance of the distributing trade might legitimately arise under either of the headings. It might arise as the result of an investigation into the price of a commodity or an investigation into a tariff.

I think that if the Deputy had come to me before he put down this motion, we might have had a more useful discussion. So far as I can follow him, what the Deputy is concerned about is the internal arrangements which are made by the producers in relation to their distributing agencies. Am I right in that?

The terms.

Yes, the terms which are offered, shall we say, by the producers to the internal distributing agencies, the agencies which formerly used to distribute largely, I should say, imported commodities. I am not certain that a matter of that sort could come for review before the Prices Commission. At first sight, it seems to me that it would not. If the Deputy would permit me to look into the matter, I will communicate with him, and let him know what I think is the right line to take. It may possibly be a responsibility of my Department rather than a responsibility of the Department of Supplies.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Vote put and agreed to