Private Deputies' Business. - Annulment of Unemployment Assistance (Employment Period) Order—Motion.

I move on behalf of Deputy Keyes and myself:—

That the Unemployment Assistance (Employment Period) Order, 1941, tabled on March 5th, 1941, be and is hereby annulled.

In 1933, the Oireachtas passed the Unemployment Assistance Act. While it is true that, in that Act, certain provision was made for the possibility that Employment Period Orders would be made and that these orders would have the effect of excluding certain persons from receipt of unemployment assistance, we have seen during the years 1936-41 what, in effect, must be regarded as a violation of the principle of the original Act. Between the years 1936 and 1939, two Employment Period Orders were made each year. The first of these excluded small landholders whose valuation did not exceed £4 from the receipt of unemployment assistance. That order was usually current from the first Wednesday in March to the last Tuesday in October. In addition, a second order was made, the effect of which was to exclude from unemployment assistance unmarried men and widowers living in rural areas and small towns. They were excluded from benefit from the first Wednesday in June to the last Tuesday in October, so that, in the years 1936 to 1939, we had two Employment Period Orders the effect of which was that smallholders whose valuation did not exceed £4 and unmarried men and widowers in rural areas and small towns were excluded from unemployment assistance between March and October, in the first case, and between June and October, in the second case. Last year we had the first and second orders made but, instead of the second order starting in June and running until October, it was applied concurrently with the first order, and the effect was that the two classes of persons to whom I have just referred were excluded from unemployment assistance from 6th March, 1940, until 29th October.

Not only had we that extension of the operation of the Employment Period Orders, inasmuch as it deprived one class of benefit between March and July, when benefit was formerly allowed, but the Government went still further. They made a third Employment Period Order for the first time and the effect of that order, which ran from the 5th June to 29th October, was to cut off unemployment assistance all married men, widowers and single men living in rural areas and small towns. By small towns, I do not mean areas which are virtually rural but towns of substantial size which are not at present administered by urban councils or town commissioners. Nobody could say that the town of Kildare is a small-sized town. It is a town of substantial proportions but there is no body of town commissioners in office there. Under this order, those persons resident in Kildare—married men with families, single men and widowers—will be automatically deprived of unemployment assistance from 5th March this year until the end of October. Consequently, we can see that, as compared with 1936-39, when the position was acute so far as unemployment assistance recipients were concerned, matters were worsened in 1940 by the making of a third Employment Period Order. This year, instead of having a first, second and third Employment Period Order, the Government have applied a single order which deprives all unemployment assistance recipients in the entire State, except in areas controlled by an urban council or town commissioners, of unemployment assistance between March and October.

It was officially estimated last year that 52,000 persons ceased to be entitled to unemployment assistance benefit as the result of the operation of the three orders. This year, although the economic position is very much worse, and although it tends to become still, more acute, the Government are not merely continuing last year's practice, but aggravating it by the extension of the scope of the Order and the bringing within it of a large number of persons over an extended period. One has only to examine the official statistics issued by the Department of Industry and Commerce to realise at once that thousands of persons have already been deprived of unemployment assistance benefit. Thousands who formerly went to the labour exchange for the miserable pittance which they received there have now been cut off unemployment assistance benefit and the position of these people is really desperate. Anybody who has experience of rural areas, anybody who has experience of local boards of health, anybody who has experience of local social organisations will have no hesitation in testifying to the fact that the depriving of such persons of unemployment assistance benefit has created for them a very serious position and intensified the hardships which they were enduring even when in receipt of unemployment assistance benefit.

I have tried to ascertain to my own satisfaction what was the purpose and the inspiration behind the making of this Order. Is it suggested, for instance, that work is available in those areas? Is it suggested, for instance, that 52,000 persons within the course of a month can possibly pick up employment in the rural areas and small towns throughout the country? Nobody in his sane senses would dream of suggesting that within a month, or within the next six months, anything like 52,000 persons could possibly obtain employment in the rural areas and small towns throughout the country. Apart from the small number that will be absorbed in agriculture, the general position will become very much worse. Industries in existence in small towns are already discharging their staffs and the general economic position will be such that a very large number of persons, notwithstanding whatever intensification of tillage follows from the making of the Compulsory Tillage Order, will be compelled to discharge numbers of their employees as well.

If work is available, it is surely no burden on the labour exchanges to send the men to that work wherever it is. If they can get the work there is not one of them but would prefer to work rather than submit to the conditions imposed at the labour exchanges under the Unemployment Assistance Act. Then those persons would automatically go off unemployment assistance benefit because they would have got work. But the Government know perfectly well that no work is available for these people and are not concerned whether there is work available for them. All the Government are concerned with is the fact that, by slicing 50,000 people off unemployment assistance benefit between March and October, there will be a substantial sum of money saved to the Exchequer. The Government are not concerned in the slightest with the plight of these people during the months from March to October.

On a point of order. This is a very important matter as there are already over 52,000 people cut, off unemployment assistance benefit.

That is not a point of order.

I am referring to the absence of Deputies from the House. There are only two Deputies on the Fianna Fáil Benches.

Does the Deputy formally draw attention to the fact that there is not a quorum present?

Yes. It is a shame when there are thousands of our people unemployed.

The Deputy may not make a speech on the matter, there being no House.

Notice taken that 20 Deputies were not present; House counted and 20 Deputies being present.

I was saying that the Government know perfectly well that work is not available and that this blanket order was not necessary because of the existence of work; that it was prompted solely by the desire to save money for the Exchequer. The Minister may try, but it will be a very poor effort, to convince the unemployed that employment is available for them and that they will experience no difficulty in getting work. That is the kind of speech which is usually made by a Minister completely out of touch with the circumstances.

Let me quote for the Minister just a few of many letters which I have received from persons indicating what their position is in respect to unemployment assistance benefit and what their economic position will be in consequence of the making of the order by the Minister. One woman writes to me to say that she was receiving 7/6 per week for herself and one child from the employment exchange; that she has not been able to get work for some time and that she knows of no place to which she can turn for work. Under the Minister's order that person will be in the position for the next six months that she may fend how she likes, that the Government do not care, and that she will not get 7/6 per week from the employment exchange after the 5th March. Here is a resolution which I have received from a pretty large-sized but non-urbanised town to the effect that there is a large number of persons unemployed in the town; that a local relief scheme has just concluded; and that the workers do not know what they will do if the Government continue to withhold unemployment assistance benefit from them. That comes from the town of Tullow in the County Carlow, by no means a rural area.

Here is a letter from a person in Donegal:—

"Will you please put the following matter before Mr. MacEntee, the responsible Minister, concerning the Employment Period Order? In the district in which I reside there is no work and no industry. Would you please ask the Minister where the employment is to be found, as the farmers here work together; one helps the other and they employ very little labour? As I have four small children, I am prepared to take work in any part of Éire, if I can get it, as the only alternative to the county home. This affects 100 persons in my district as well as myself."

That person is not apparently going to get much employment with the 100 other unemployed people in an area where there is no work and no industry.

Another person in County Tipperary writes:—

"On behalf of myself and a number of other fellow unemployed workers—our wives and children have been left in a hopeless and deplorable state as a result of the Government's action in stopping our only method of existence—the home assistance—especially at this awful period of the year, as there are big rents on some of us and not even one hour's work to be got. We do not know what a fire is. Our wives and children are starving. If something is not done very soon, the position of those unfortunate people will be desperate. The Government should be fair and just with the poor, anyway. Taking away the little they allow them, especially in mid-winter, when they cannot give them a day's work, will not raise the standard of life in this country."

A solicitor writes from Donegal saying that

"he was instructed by over 90 unemployed persons in his area to send a memorial to the Minister for Industry and Commerce protesting against the stoppage of unemployment assistance payments from the 5th March. These unemployed are mostly landless men, and it is a very considerable hardship that they should be deprived suddenly of an income that has barely helped to keep them alive. It is presumed that these men will be able to get work and earn wages from now on, but most of the farmers in this locality are small holders and unable to hire help or pay any wages, as they just have not got the money to pay. Consequently, the unemployed are suddenly faced with privation and hunger."

These letters—and they are only a few of many I could quote—furnish conclusive evidence to anybody who cares to seek evidence, that the operation of this order has imposed, and is imposing, very severe hardship on the unemployed throughout the country who are affected by the order. Even a more striking illustration of the hardship which has been caused by the Minister's order is furnished by reading theKerryman of the 15th March. The County Kerry Board of Health received a deputation from, the unemployed and one of the spokesmen who attended before the board of health said:

"I am an unemployed man and am representing the unemployed of Castleisland. We have interviewed our Fianna Fáil T.D., Mr. McEllistrim, and informed him that we have been knocked off the roll. He told us that our only alternative was to apply here to-day for home assistance. We have letters from farmers in the district telling us they cannot employ us. All the members of our deputation are willing to accept work if they can get it. Starvation is rife in Castleisland and some of our men who came here to-day had not their breakfast this morning. They could not afford it. Some of them had not a quarter stone of sugar or a quarter stone of flour with which to feed their families. They are going to stay in the county home to-night and send for their families if they do not get home assistance. They will not leave the county home if they do not get some assistance to-day. Since they were thrown off the dole they have been looking for `tick' all over the town and shopkeepers would not give it to them. We cannot get employment in town or country. The cost of the lorry which brought us here was subscribed to by people in Castleisland. The majority of us cannot afford to buy a penny bun in Killarney to-day. I include myself in that category and I am the father of nine children."

One member of the county board of health said that he agreed with every word the speaker said, that the same position applied in his own area, and he added: "I do not know what we are going to do with these men." I had a deputation of about 60 last Sunday evening. I know they are hungry and something must be done for them. I agree that the farmers are not hiring men. The secretary of the board of health came in then to say: "There is a letter from Mr. McEllistrim which bears out what the spokesmen of the deputation has said. The men have applied for work and are willing to work." He had told most of them to apply for home assistance and asks the board to consider their claims sympathetically. The secretary added that he had similar letters from Deputy Fionán Lynch and Deputy S. Fuller.

These cases are only a fragment of the evidence that might be quoted. They provide sufficient evidence that there is a wide stratum of poverty, not merely endemic poverty but a new type of poverty which has been caused by the emergency situation. In face of that widespread evidence the Government make an Employment Period Order, the effect of which is to sweep tens of thousands of persons off the employment exchange, and there is not the slightest concern on the part of the Government as to how these people are to be fed during the period of the operation of the order. If the Minister believes that these people can get work, will he tell us where the work is, and what type of work they can get? If the employment exchanges throughout the country know of the existence of work, surely it is possible for the exchanges to send the unemployed in those areas to the work. If any person is offered employment through the medium of an employment exchange and fails to take that employment, he loses his unemployment assistance benefit. The Government will not rely on that method of testing the availability of work because they know that the work is not there. Instead, they make an order of this kind and automatically deprive 50,000 persons of unemployment assistance until October next.

It will be a tough job for tens of thousands in this country to live, even with regular wages, between this and next October, having regard to the increased cost of living and the uncertain position in industry. If tens of thousands of people with regular wages and employment are going to find it hard to live in the next six months, what will be the plight of people deprived of unemployment assistance benefit, unable to get any reasonable standard of home assistance, and being sent adrift throughout the country endeavouring to fend in any way they possibly can? I can only say that this order discloses a most callous disregard of the sufferings and needs of the unemployed, especially in existing circumstances.

We are calling on men throughout the country to join the Local Defence Force and the Local Security Force and various other defence organisations. We tell them that the country is in danger, that it is a country to fight for, and one that is worth defending. Yet this is the way we show our gratitude to our people who have joined the Local Defence Force and the Local Security Force. We call them to arms, to give service in time of danger and in time of need; and we make an Employment Period Order and cast 50,000 of them adrift throughout the country, with no assurance of even the miserable pittance that they formerly got from the employment exchanges. Is it any wonder that thousands of these people are embracing a philosophy which says: "What have we got to fight for?" That is a dangerous philosophy, but its author is the Government which stands idly by while thousands of people are suffering the misery and privation which is the lot of the unemployed people affected by this order to-day.

The Minister may say he believes that employment will be available. I say to the Minister that, in existing economic circumstances and having regard to the picture of unrelieved bleakness which we are facing in the future, it is money very unwisely saved to cut these people off unemployment assistance.

If large numbers of them do adopt and disseminate the propaganda that they have nothing to fight for in this country the Government will be solely responsible for the creation and development of that philosophy in the country. Government Deputies, if they were permitted to speak freely on this matter without fear of penal consequences at Party meetings, would have no hesitation whatever in denouncing this Employment Period Order. They know that in their own areas large numbers of persons cannot get work and they know that under the operation of this Order it will not be possible for them to get unemployment assistance.

Many foolish things have been done in the past both legislatively and by administrative action. This is the most foolish thing that has been done from a national point of view. It is creating disunity throughout the country. It will show itself in attenuated ranks of the Local Defence Force and the Local Security Force. It will create a spirit of despair amongst the unemployed throughout the country and that kind of economic despair in the face of other difficulties which we must meet is a contagious kind of despair which may well cause difficulties much greater than those envisaged at this early stage. I put it to the Government that the economic position at present does not justify the issue of an Order of this kind, that it is cynically cruel to the unemployed to make that Order operative at the moment, that if there is work available these men are willing to do the work. If it is not available then we should tell them that they have a country to serve and to fight for and we ought to sustain them and shield them from the ravages of unemployment. One hears talk to-day about defending your country against external aggression. We may not be able to help the aggression when it does come.

It will not be our fault if an invader lands here; it will be the fault of the invader but, at least, while we cannot probably prevent an invasion if an invader endeavours to launch an attack upon this country, we can at least defend the homes of our people in this country. We can defend the homesteads and the hearthstones of this country and we ought not, while prating about defending the country against a foreign invader, actually play the rôle of a marauding invader ourselves so far as the homes of our workers and our unemployed people are concerned. That is what we are doing in this case.

This Order is described as an Employment Period Order. It is an Order the effect of which is to make war on the homesteads of unemployed people throughout the country. The Government do not appear to realise either the havoc which their Order will cause at this time when national unity is so much to be desired, or are they concerned with the physical and moral consequences to the unemployed from the operation of an Order of this kind. I know it is not easy for Government Deputies to say what they think on this matter but I know, if left alone, they probably would express their feelings that this Order was unjustified. I hope, whether they can do it in the House or elsewhere, that every human being, still in possession of humanitarian principles, will raise his voice against such an inhuman Order as this. It is unfair to the unemployed; it is dangerous from a national point of view. I put down this motion in the name of the Labour Party for the purpose of giving the House an opportunity of discussing the matter, of drawing attention to our cynical disregard of the needs of our unemployed people and in the hope that even on reconsideration of the matter—it may be a vain hope—the Government will realise that this is carrying things too far and that it ought to withdraw the operation of the Order at once.

I wish to second the motion moved by Deputy Norton. I think on a day such as this, with two items on the Order Paper, one of a kind which occupied only a brief period of time and a motion of the importance and the national character that unquestionably this motion is, such an attendance as is in the House since the motion started to be discussed, notwithstanding the fact that a call had to be made to fill the House, is liable to bring the reputation of this Parliament, in the minds of the workers, into considerably lower regard than it is already held, because if a motion which is catering for the actual sustenance, the bare existence, of a very considerable section of our community cannot succeed in filling the benches to any greater extent than the benches are filled here this evening it has to be taken either as cynical disregard for the hardship of these people on the one hand or, as I am more inclined to think, the reluctance of a good many of the Deputies to come here to listen to what they themselves believe in but will be compelled by the Party Whip to vote against later on.

I am perfectly satisfied, with Deputy Norton, from my conversations with supporters of the Fianna Fáil organisation and the Fianna Fáil Government that they have no more support for this proposal than there is amongst the ranks of Labour or any other Party in the country and it brings us seriously to question our democratic forms of government. I want to challenge the Minister on this question to-day: Does he say or can he feel in his conscience that he has the support of his Party behind him in imposing this Period Order? If he feels he has that, there is a very simple acid test he could apply to it and I would ask him, as I did on two occasions previously in moving the annulment of Period Orders, not quite as drastic as this one, to give the Deputies of his Party an opportunity of showing their consciences in this question by taking off the Party Whips. After all, we are all elected Deputies in this House from various parts of the country, cities and towns.

We are supposed at least to have a modicum of common sense and to be responsible to the people who sent us here and I do not think we ought to be all the time in swaddling clothes or tied up in tight bandages. When we come to an issue of this kind that is recurring here year after year, with increasing severity, but in a year such as 1941 when, as has been pointed out by Deputy Norton, it is the desire of the Government and of the Opposition Parties and of the country as a whole to try to consolidate all types of opinion, to bridge all class differences and gulfs in the national interest, I think it is anti-patriotic and criminally stupid for the Government to introduce a motion of this kind which cannot but have the effect of disrupting that national effort for solidarity.

Letters read by Deputy Norton indicate the feeling of the people who are going to suffer. I have bundles of letters of a similar kind, not alone-from my own constituency, but counties outside it. There is one, signed by a distinguished parish priest in County Galway, sending me 50 names of men who have no possible chance, he says, of getting work, and asking the Government to cancel and annul the Period Order. Then from Kilfinane, in the County Limerick, there is a letter in which the following occurs:

"As re the cutting off of the dole this is going to become a serious matter as there is a lot of grumbling and unrest already. Because of the Minister's action in cutting off the dole, they need not trouble about rationing tea and all the rest, for the workers and their families won't have the price of food unless they get assistance from the County Board of Health. Also from the Local Defence Force and the Local Security Force side of the matter by what can be seen I think all the workers will chuck in unless the Government are going to provide work or as an alternative give back the dole. They cannot expect a man to parade and drill and tramp the roads all night on an empty stomach."

There is another letter, from Cappamore, County Limerick, which says:—

"There are several men here with large families and, having to pay 4/- a week for a house, they have to live on a few potatoes and sour milk, to pay 4/9 now for a cwt. of coal and flour 3/- per stone. The shopkeepers have closed their doors as far as giving credit is concerned. We want work or is it out on the roadside we are going to be, eating the grass?"

From Caherconlish, there was a similar letter and from Doon, County Limerick, I received a letter from the secretary to the East Limerick Executive of the Irish Labour Party:—

"On behalf of the above, I call on yourself and Mr. Norton to use your strongest influence to have the Employment Period Order annulled. Otherwise every member of the Local Security Force in this district will have to withdraw. A country that is going to let the unemployed starve is not worth fighting for. I am giving you permission to use this letter in your Dáil debate if you think it will be any way effective to change their minds."

The Minister has told us on previous occasions and probably will tell us again to-day that an unnecessary scare has been raised from the Labour Party benches. I do not want to go into a long debate because the facts are so simple that they call for very little elucidation. They have been clearly covered by Deputy Norton, and I want simply again to direct the attention of the Minister and his Department to the cardinal facts of the case. The people are entitled to unemployment assistance under the laws of this land, while work is unavailable for them.

The Minister is entitled in certain circumstances to introduce a Period Order. Does the Minister consider that, in the application of that power, he has any responsibility whatsoever to see that he is not going to rob those people of their rights as citizens to a livelihood? What steps has he or his Department taken that would enable him to say that work is available for these people whom he is striking off, or what steps did he take last year, when he struck them off, to ascertain how many of these people did actually get employment? For three years previous to last year I have been asking that question of the present Minister's predecessor, and the Department of Industry and Commerce told us that they never attempted to trace these men once they were struck off as a result of an Employment Period Order, and that they did not concern themselves about them further until the men applied again for registration in the following October We are told, in the statistical returns, that so many people have ceased to be employed, but we never hear how many of these people have secured employment, and the transference from one page of the statistical return to another is very little solace or comfort to these unfortunate people who have no food or firing in their homes.

I say that the Minister and his advisers are taking a very serious responsibility on themselves when they impose this Order, if he or his advisers cannot say where exactly these people are going to get employment after they have been struck off on the 6th March. Last year we were told that, as a result of the Compulsory Tillage Order, there would be any amount of work available in the country, and we were also told that the Minister was contemplating a further scheme which would absorb a considerable number of unemployed people. I asked the Minister a reasonable question at that time, which was: Why not withhold the Employment Period Order until the proposed scheme shows itself? I ask the same question now. Why apply that Order on the 6th March, for married men and all kinds of people in these areas, until such time as work is available? I can assure the Minister that, when he can tell us that work actually is available for these people, no Deputy on these benches, or in any part of the House will dream of asking him to continue the payment of unemployment assistance for one day longer than is necessary. On former occasions I suggested to the Minister that the machinery at the disposal of his Department is quite adequate to protect the unemployment assistance fund from abuse. As time has gone on, the officials of his Department have got more and more experience in detecting people who were malingering and in protecting the fund, generally, from abuse, but I challenge the Minister to say that, with all the investigations that have been made, he can say that there is work available to meet the demands of the unemployed, at the present juncture, after they have been struck off.

Those people who have written to me —and I have the signature of a distinguished clergyman to back up what they say—ask that the Minister should send down somebody or come down himself and see whether or not they are telling the truth, and find out what are the actual conditions. In some of the villages and in rural areas in my own county, for which I can speak particularly, the conditions are worse than I have ever seen them in my whole life. Conditions were bad enough last winter, but they are far worse at present. Conditions are very bad even in the areas that are supposed to be excluded. Down around Athea there is one small area that is excluded from the operation of the Order, an area around Mountcollins, but even in the case of the area that is alleged to be excluded from the Order, what are the effects there? In such a case certain other conditions are inset, with which a man must comply before he comes under the exclusion clause, and I think the House should know of them. For instance, I have also the case of one man who had eleven children, ten of them alive. Two of his children were serving in the Army, two in the Local Security Force, six of them under the age of 14, and the mother was dead. Yet that man was struck off the register at the Newcastle West Labour Exchange, under the Employment Period Order, which actually was not applicable to that area. He was struck off because he was an unmarried man, and he says, quite naively: "If I am not a married man, where did I get all these children? Is it `losing' them I found them?" But that man was struck off. In the same week I had a letter from another man, from the same area, who said he was struck off although he had a wife and five children, who were hungry, because he was not a rated occupier. As he says: "I am not a rated occupier; I am only a tenant, and the landlord is the rated occupier."

If that kind of technicality, designed to deprive the people of their rights, were introduced by an alien Government here, the platforms of the country would ring and the walls of the country would be placarded with denunciations of such conduct, but that is the kind of thing that is being dished up to delude and defraud the hungry workers of this country. As I have pointed out, last year's order applied even in areas where it was not supposed to apply, and I presume that this year's order will also apply to areas where it is not supposed to apply, just as it is applied in the general sense. Deputy Norton has said that 52,000 people were affected by the order last year, and we can assume that the order will apply to at least the same number this year. If you take the percentage of married men amongst those who were knocked off last year—I estimated 42,000, the Minister said 16,000, and his figures eventually showed 20,000—I think it would not be an unreasonable assumption to say that each of these persons would be responsible for four persons— that is, for a wife and children. That means that you have over 110,000 people in this country being driven completely away from the doors of the social services without any consideration whatever, and the only reply is: "Let them go and look for home help." The home assistance officers and the local authorities have budgeted only to provide assistance for a certain type of case outside the case of the able-bodied men who are able and willing to work. They only budget for invalided old men and decrepit old women, and they are not competent to deal with, and have not budgeted for, this huge increase which is being thrust upon them.

When the Government accepted the principle that a man has a right to maintenance until work is provided for him, and when at that date they struck a levy on the municipal and urban areas to make a contribution towards this charge—we, in Limerick, pay 1/2 in the £, as others have to also—the rural areas did not contribute, and is it because they did not contribute that these people are to be struck off, regardless of the fact that these people are there? I say that the unemployed there are as much entitled to this thing as the people in the cities and towns that are making the contribution, because, on the first introduction of that law, the reason for its introduction was the promise of the Taoiseach that every citizen of this country, who was able and willing to work, had a right to maintenance from the State until work was provided for him.

Unfortunately, the plans to put people into employment have not yet materialised, and I submit that that charge and that responsibility is on the shoulders of the Government, particularly at this juncture when much more than the money to be expended is involved in this Order, because, by such action as you are now taking, you are laying the seeds that, perhaps, are going to shatter the magnificent solidarity and unity in the country which the events of the past six months have brought forth. On the one hand, you have Ministers going around, with the co-operation and assistance of all Parties in the House, pleading for solidarity and unity in defensive measures. How can you continue, without being a canting hypocrite, to ask these people to go on drilling and inarching and tramping around night after night when, as this chap says to me: "We are doing it on empty stomachs and without a crust at home for ourselves or our families"?

I do not want to say much more on this subject, but I would say, in all sincerity, that there is no question, in what we are saying now, of trying to score or attempting to make debating points on this side of the House so far as this question is concerned. We feel and believe that this is a question that requires very close and serious study, and I ask the Minister to inquire of any Deputy, whether of the Opposition or of the Fianna Fáil Party, and he will find out how serious the situation is. Or let the Minister go down himself and inquire into and investigate the matter, but whatever may be done, for goodness sake do not strike these unemployed people off, and, by doing so, drive them into the wilderness into which you are driving them, without making a close, personal investigation, and realising the seriousness of your action.

I rise to support this particular motion by Deputy Norton, and in doing so I just want to convey shortly to the Minister the fact that not a word has been uttered by Deputy Norton that cannot be vouched for and certified by every Deputy in the House, irrespective of Party. In the constituency from which I come, within the last five weeks, over 100 men have applied for employment at Clonsast. I am glad to say that, approximately, 40 men have gone there and taken up work, who were already registered as unemployed, and that there is a long waiting-list of men willing and able to work and anxious to get work there.

To-day I had a letter from the manager at Clonsast which stated that his labour requirements were filled at the moment and that, owing to weather conditions and for one reason or another, he could not take on any more men. The men who have gone there are young unmarried men but there is a vast number of married men with wives and families who have been peremptorily cut off unemployment assistance although they and their families have no chance of employment whatever. So serious is the situation that when some of them came to me I felt it was a matter requiring urgent and immediate attention, and I wrote letters in each case to the home help officer of the Longford Board of Health, saying: "This is a man with a wife and family. He has been cut off unemployment assistance owing to this particular Order. There is no chance of his getting employment until next April." In our constituency about the middle of April some seasonal employment is provided in the shovelling of potatoes and the sowing of mangolds or turnips. Turf cutting starts about the end of April or the beginning of May, and there is no chance of men getting employment anywhere in that district until work of the kind I have mentioned starts.

If Deputy Victory were in the House he could support my statement that North Longford is an area in which the average valuation is approximately £5. The Government were good enough at one time—and I give them credit for their action—to declare that particular area a congested area, and therefore one entitled to certain rights. For some reason I do not understand, without consultation with anybody, they not only abrogated that declaration and declared it to be a non-congested area, but they came along and applied this Employment Period Order to it, as if it were the most prosperous area in the whole country. Therefore it appears to me that a number of things have been done without reasonable consideration. Firstly, the Minister should have made sure before he applied the Order generally that the employment exchanges would report to him the districts in which there was a surplus of persons available for employment and the districts in which there was a shortage of labour. I see that it was stated in Tullamore the other evening that they could not get agricultural labourers. I want to tell the authorities in Tullamore that if they applied to Longford labour exchange they would get more men than they would be able to place.

They will probably get all they want through the Tullamore labour exchange.

Probably they will, but the fact remains that these men have been left without any means of subsistence. I am not going to read all the letters I got, but I can say that there is not a letter which Deputy Norton or Deputy Keyes has read for which I have not five in my bag. This is the type of case that is put to me: "I am a married man. I am a member of the Local Security Force or the Local Defence Force. I have a wife and six children, but all my allowance has been cut off. There is not a bit of bread in the house. What am I going to do with my wife and children?" When faced with a case of that kind, all I can do is to put my hand in my pocket, poor and all as it is, and say to that man: "All I can do is to write to the home assistance officer; meanwhile here is the price of a loaf of bread!" I am only putting these facts before the House to show that the Minister and the Government, in enforcing this Order, had no sense of responsibility, and that they did not examine the cases which were made subject to this Order. I appeal to them, not from any party point of view, but in the interests of suffering humanity, to suspend the Order and to say that it shall not become effective until approximately the 15th or 20th April, when there will be at least some chance of employment in these rural districts.

I shall be very brief in speaking to the motion. The one thing which I should like to impress upon the Minister is, that I am satisfied that neither he nor those responsible in his Department seriously considered what the effect of the Order would be on the thousands of people to whom it has been applied. I am taking the official figures at the moment. It has been reported through the official returns that there are 36,861 fewer persons registering as a result of this Employment Period Order. I take it that that is a very low estimate, but assume that, on the average, each man to whom the Order applies has a wife and two children. That means that some 147,000 odd persons are cut off immediately from State subsistence. The matter is so serious that it would be callous to give any kind of Party colouring to it, or make any Party capital out of it.

Deputies have mentioned that they have received many letters from their constituents who have been left without any money to purchase the necessaries of life as the result of the application of this Order. I, too, have received a number of letters from places in the immmediate vicinity of Cork, places such as Douglas, Glanmire, Riverstown and Mayfield. All these are districts in which a number of workers have been unemployed for some time. They have now been cut off unemployment assistance and some of them have come to me just as some of Deputy MacEoin's constituents came to him. All I can do is to write a note to the home assistance officer saying "The bearer is a man with a wife and six or seveni children. You understand that the Employment Period Order has deprived him of unemployment assistance. Please give him some home assistance." The man then goes to the home assistance officer and the officer says to him "I can do nothing for you this week; I must submit it to the board."

To support my statement, perhaps, I should tell the House of an incident in which I was personally concerned. On last Saturday evening a man came to my door about 5.30. He told me that he wanted some assistance, that he was going to Newry on the following day—that was last Sunday— to join the British Army. I happened to know the chap well. He had worked at the docks for a long time and we all know the amount of unemployment there is at the docks at the moment. I said to him, "You will hardly be taken on in the British Army." He replied: "I will, I am only 45 years of age." He had eight children, the eldest of whom a girl of 19 was working in a factory mending sacks earning a small wage. To be quite candid I have a definite objection to anybody going out of this country to join the British Army and I said to him, "Look here, carry on for the present; things might get better." He said "No, I have not removed the shirt from my back for a month." He showed me other garments and told me that was all he had in the world. I still tried to persuade him not to take the step that he contemplated. He then told me that he had got a plot to till but that he was so hard pressed in the middle of last week for food, that he boiled the potatoes he got from the corporation to put in the plot. Notwithstanding all I had to say, that man went off to Dublin on Sunday morning, availing of a cheap excursion, and he was to find his way from there to Newry to join the British Army. Here was a man who had worked and rendered service to the nation as long as there was work available for him. He had reared a family of eight children and we all know that the existence of the nation depends on the family. I think we have a fearful moral obligation to maintain such men with their wives and families.

I am alarmed, disappointed and disillusioned that there are men on both benches who have deliberately absented themselves from this discussion, to hear the facts of the case. Let us not forget that if democracy is challenged to-day the reason is that democracy has not been able to realise its possibilities. I want to be honest about this matter, and I do not want to spend much time trying to impress the Minister on the need for annulling this Employment Period Order. If there is work with farmers let unemployed men be told to go to that work; if there is work on the bogs let them be told to go there. If they are not prepared to take up such employment the remedy is obvious. To cut off numbers of men with dependent families, many of them with sickly wives, is most heart-rending. It is appalling that we can treat such cases lightly. I often feel that I should not have 1/- in my pocket while children were hungry. I tell the Minister that I could often see red when I hear stories about unemployment and poverty, apart from what happens under this Employment Period Order. I want the Minister to change the order he has made and to fulfil his obligations to the people. I often feel inspired at the prayer we say here at the opening of our proceedings: "That every word and work of ours may always begin from Thee, and by Thee be happily ended...." But I feel humiliated that we are not acting up to the meaning of that prayer. We hear a good deal of talk about Christian principle. Surely, as a Christian people with a Christian Government we should be the first to give a headline to the nations of the world. I hope the Minister will accept the spirit of the wording of the prayer, and act on it.

The one thing I should like to hear in this debate is the reason for making this Period Order. Apart from the present serious unemployment situation, the order seems to me to be directly opposite to the policy of the Government since it came into office. As Deputy Norton pointed out, the Government started the unemployment assistance scheme, but by various Period Orders, made between 1936 up to 1941, they have been whittling down the value of that scheme. The greatest damage has been done by the present Period Order. Deputies who have spoken mentioned the sad position disclosed in letters they received. I am sure if Kerry Fianna Fáil Deputies, who backed the claims of the unemployed around Castleisland at a meeting of the board of assistance spoke to-day, they would have to say what has been said from the Labour and the Fine Gael benches, that in the rural areas the condition of these unfortunate people, as a result of this Order, is shocking and scandalous.

I live in the type of town that Deputy Norton referred to. It is not very big, and not very small. It is a non-urban town. About three weeks ago, with local Fianna Fáil Deputies, I attended a meeting of the unemployed people. The hall was packed. As an instance of the unemployment that prevails, I should mention that of the 28 carpenters in the town, members of the Amalgamated Union of Woodworkers, 18 were unemployed. Apart from ordinary farm work, and casual farm work at the busy period, the one thing that prevented unemployment increasing in rural areas was the private and public building that was going on. The grants that were given for the building of houses and for various public schemes gave a good deal of employment. We have reached the end of that work now, because even a grant of £80 will not induce any sensible person to start building a house. Unless people have private means they cannot afford to build. Everyone knows that building by local bodies, even with Government assistance, is at an end so far as municipal and non-urban schemes are concerned. The people who were employed on these schemes, carpenters, masons, slaters and unskilled workers, are thrown on the unemployed market. In small areas much of the employment required on farms is carried out by families. No increased tillage on small farms will increase the demand for labour to any great extent. At any rate, the employment given will not be permanent, and means very little extra work, except during the sowing period and in August and September. It is doubtful if that would relieve unemployment in rural areas to any extent. It should be remembered that there are numbers of people unemployed in country districts who, because of their training, would not be of much use for farm work. They would not be able to do that work except in a poor way, and would be of very little use to those who employed them.

I want to find out what was behind the making of this Period Order. The only justifiable explanation for it, in my opinion, would be that the employment situation had improved so much that there was no longer any necessity for this assistance. But everybody who understands the position realises that that is not so. I do not believe the ordinary poor people have ever gone through a worse period than from Christmas Day to the present time. They are unemployed, and without home assistance or unemployment assistance at a time when the cost of everything they have to buy is going up and up. Even if they were getting unemployment assistance, it would not be sufficient to provide their families with one-quarter of what the same amount of money would provide two years ago. I am very much afraid that the Government has done a very dangerous thing by making this type of order. The natural reaction of an unemployed married man, whose family was dependent on the pittance he was getting in the way of unemployment assistance, is that he will say to himself: "I am told there is a national effort being made, and that we must all pull our weight to preserve the State; that we must put our shoulders to the wheel and be united, but the poor and the unemployed, with wives and children, seem to be the forgotten men in that national effort. There is no hope for me, no farmer will give me employment. Farmers who might employ me cannot afford to do so, and others do not need extra labour." Men unemployed because of cessation of building schemes in villages and towns are now added to the unemployment market. What is going to happen to these people?

At the meeting of the unemployed that I attended, of the 28 carpenters idle, 18 had been employed by two contractors on the building of houses, waterworks and sewerage schemes. The men were delighted to be at work, but as the contractors have now no work for them, these 18 carpenters are walking about the streets. It is not because people are born in country districts that it should be thought they would make efficient farm workers. Men who have served their time as carpenters, and who then worked at their trade, are not going to be of much use to farmers, except to thin turnips. They are not going to be efficient farm workers.

I would like to hear the Minister say what is the reason for this Order. As I have said, the only justifiable reason would be the fact that employment had increased in the rural areas and that the payment of unemployment assistance was no longer necessary. A second reason, one tnat I would not consider justified, might be that it was going to mean a saving of money. I do not believe anyone could argue— the Minister would not have argued it ten years ago—that this House, or the Government of this State, would be justified in making economies at the expense of the unemployed at the present time. Even if we were to save £1,000,000 by the operation of this Order, no one, surely, would seriously suggest that we would be justified in doing that at the expense of the unemployed. There are people in this House who give lip service to the unemployed. I think the Minister, in his time, gave plenty of it. He ought to be familiar with the position in the cities. He is living in Dublin, but what I would like the Minister to do is to go down to the country, into some of the small towns and villages and visit the hovels or labourers' cottages in which a number of those unemployed people are living. Many of them were in regular employment until economic circumstances drove them out of it. Some of them have been unemployed for years because there is no work available in their districts. If the Minister got into conversation with them they would, I think, tell him very quickly what they think of him, of the Government and of this House, because I am afraid they are beginning to feel that they are "the forgotten men." Just imagine having a big hall in a small country town, with a population of 1,200, filled by people who are unemployed. The sight would almost frighten one. It was almost unbelievable the number of unemployed who went into that hall. The one hopeful thing about the meeting was that the unemployed had the sense to get two Deputies to attend it so that they could explain their grievances to them with a view to seeing what could be done.

We are fairly lucky in my area, because it so happens that one or two public authority schemes will be started there in the near future. These will help to relieve the situation. But all over North Cork, in every town and village and through the country districts, you have unemployment. Deputy MacEoin spoke of Longford, and thanked the Minister for making it a congested area. Deputy Hickey and Deputy Hurley know the district that I have in mind, and I think they will agree with me that portion of the area on the Kerry-Limerick border might be described as a congested one. A man there may have four or five acres of good land, and the balance of his holding may be a bog. The people there are in dire distress. Their condition is almost unbelievable. You have there young men, old men, single men, and men with families. I honestly believe that if work was available for them, many would be glad to take it if only they could be guaranteed, not wages, but enough food to take home to their families. The tales I have heard from some of those people simply shocked one. I found it hard to realise the position until I had an opportunity of seeing it for myself.

The Minister must have some reason for making this Order. If it was made in order to save money, then I say that is a rotten reason, one that should never be put forward in this House. The other reason that I mentioned earlier is not a possible one, because the employment situation in the country is not improving. The Minister's only justification for making the Order is if he can tell us that he has now some scheme ready for dealing with the unemployment situation and that matters are not going to be let drift. In a small area, such as I come from, we have a couple of hundred people unemployed. Now, what answer am I, or any other representative of that area, going to give to those people when we get back? Can I be told now, are they going to get work or assistance? I know that the farmers and business people in the district are employing every one they can. They are even holding on to men whom they might feel justified in letting go, due to present economic circumstances. I know some of those unemployed men, and they would be glad to get a job from the Minister in his garden if only they were to be provided with something that they could take to their families to eat and not get a penny cash. I put it to the Minister that we should never let it be said that, in a time of national emergency and of national crisis, we economised at the expense of the unemployed. I say that because I think there is the danger that people whose interest in the unemployed is of the lip service variety only may try to convince them that they are right in thinking they are the "forgotten men." If this House ever wants to prove that it is really the national Parliament, then, I think, all of us should try, by the use of our brains and energies, to do something for the unemployed before the situation in regard to them gets worse than it is. Finally, I want to know from the Minister why he made the Order, how he is going to justify the making of it, and what is going to be done for the people who are being hit by it. Are we to be told by the Minister that the only message he has to send to those people is "Live on and hope"?

Mr. Byrne

I desire to support the Deputies who have spoken on this motion. As one of the representatives of a Dublin constituency, I have not as intimate a knowledge of conditions in the rural areas as some of the Deputies who have spoken. I do know, however, that when men in the country lose their employment assistance many of them find their way to Dublin. They call to the houses of Deputies seeking their assistance to get employment for them. A number of letters have been read by Deputies in the course of the debate. We all receive letters of that kind. I myself have received such a very large number of letters from country districts that it is now beyond me to try and answer them. They all contain the same story. I sympathise with those Deputies who are making an effort to get the Government to do something for the unemployed, especially those with large families. In many of their homes there are children cold and barely covered; they are not properly fed; the mothers are not properly nourished, and in that condition are bringing new babies into the world.

I would ask the Minister to withdraw this Order, and to make a raid somewhere else—on the Road Fund, or to borrow a million pounds. The Minister could borrow money for other purposes if called upon to do so. It is amazing that nothing can be done where the unemployed are concerned. But if money is wanted for the purchase of arms or ammunition to destroy life, then those who have the money give it readily.

A number of those unemployed men find their way to Dublin in the hope that this big city, with its bright lights, will give them consolation and work. What happens? They drift into the rotten basement dwellings already condemned as unfit for human habitation by the local authority, the original occupiers having been removed to corporation houses or flats. In the course of a short time one finds that the class of men from the country, referred to by previous Deputies, are occupying these basement dwellings.

Others will seek home assistance, and unless they have been resident in Dublin for two years they cannot get that assistance. They can only get indoor assistance, and from the indoor assistance point of view I should say that the building will need to be enlarged very shortly if the number seeking its shelter continues to be as large as it has been in the past two months. I have had fine young countrymen at my door, asking if I could get them passports to England in order to find work there. Like Deputy Hickey, I have had calls from other young men who are prepared to go anywhere in order to get a means of supporting their children. Again, I say, I wonder if we all fully realise our responsibility to those people? We had a question raised here yesterday about our own Dublin unemployed who have given service to the voluntary organisations. I have known them to do duty at night, and go home to empty grates and bare tables, but when they go to the labour exchange they are told that they are not genuinely seeking work, so they are deprived of benefits. I do earnestly join with the other Deputies in urging that the Order which is inflicting such great hardship on so many thousands of our countrymen, women and children, should be withdrawn.

Are we going to hear anything from the Government side of the House?

I think that the Government has acted very unwisely in deciding to impose this Order. While it might be claimed by some people that an Order of this kind would be helpful to farmers, as far as my experience goes I have found no support among the farming community for the striking off of those men from the register. The feeling of the farmers generally is very strongly against the provision of unemployment assistance, or "dole" as it is called; their feeling is very strongly in favour of work instead of maintenance. In the present emergency, and in the unsettled condition of the country, the Government, having once decided to provide maintenance instead of work, should not have discontinued that maintenance until they were in the position to provide work. There is one aspect of this question which does very closely affect the farmers, and that is the increased burden which it throws upon the local authorities through the fact that those unfortunate men are compelled to apply to the boards of health in their various counties for home assistance. I have here a letter from the Secretary of the Wicklow Board of Health to the Secretary of the Wicklow County Council, explaining the position, and this letter was afterwards circulated to the parish councils in the county. It states:—

"The amount provided under this head in the current year's Estimate was £16,000. Notwithstanding that the superintendent and home assistance officers have made every endeavour to keep their expenditure within this figure, this rate of expenditure was exceeded in the first half of this financial year, and present indications are that by the end of March next the amount provided will have been over-expended to the extent of from £1,500 to £2,000. This increase arose from the fact that in the last "employment period," both married and single men were debarred from the receipt of unemployment assistance, and was accentuated by widespread unemployment. On the last Saturday of September, 1940, 212 able-bodied men, with 910 dependents, were in receipt of home assistance, as against 103 able-bodied men, with 620 dependents, on the corresponding date in 1939. On the last Saturday in September, 1938, 70 able-bodied men, with 500 dependents, were in receipt of similar assistance. In the present year there is an added hardship on the poor in many parts of the county by reason of the fact that they are unable to avail of the benefits of the free milk supply scheme, in consequence of prices proposed to be charged by suppliers being in excess of the maximum amounts which the Local Government Department are prepared to sanction. No part of the increased expenditure is due to additional allowances to recipients of home assistance. For the coming year, I am placing the figure, tentatively, at £18,000; not that I believe this sum to be adequate, but because it is at this rate that assistance is at present being disbursed. I propose to leave to the board the fixing of the exact figure."

That shows that the farmers, even from a selfish point of view, have a deep interest in supporting the motion that this Order be annulled.

Last night the Taoiseach expressed very grave fears as to our future in regard both to food supplies and to fuel supplies. What strikes the ordinary Members of this House as being very strange is that some definite plan has not been introduced to put the unemployed men to work on the production of fuel. Why is it not possible to form a public company to operate all our bogs for the purpose of providing fuel? If we consider ourselves sufficiently efficient and sufficiently strong to organise our national defences against any power which may think it desirable to invade our country, surely we ought to be able to organise our working people under such a scheme as will provide us with ample fuel supplies? Why should the Government keep on tinkering with this question? Why do they keep on appealing to private enterprise to solve this problem of providing our fuel supplies? Anyone who gives a moment's consideration to the matter will understand that the provision of sufficient turf to meet our requirements is not a work which private enterprise could undertake to the extent which is necessary at the present moment. What is needed is a nationally-financed company which will employ every available man in the work of winning and saving turf by hand to supplement whatever can be produced at Clonsast and other places of that sort.

No attempt should be made at the present time, at least not to any great extent, to divert men to other than the provision of food and fuel until the Government are satisfied that ample supplies of those commodities have been produced. The Minister for Industry and Commerce is surely aware that the time in which to win and save turf is very limited. So far as my experience goes, there are only four months in which turf can be properly saved by hand. For that reason it is desirable that the full forces of our unemployed reserves should be turned to this task so as to make sure of adequate supplies. When we are assured that sufficient men have been put on this work, then it would be desirable for the Government to turn to other useful work. It would be desirable, for instance, to see that sufficient men are available for harvesting operations. When our supplies of food and fuel are considered adequate, we could then turn to other works of a permanent nature, such as road-making and building.

Building has been mentioned as a likely source of employment and as an industry in which grave unemployment has arisen. If we want to avoid the worst effects of unemployment, then, having made sure of our food and fuel supplies, we should direct attention to building and engage in that industry as far as we possibly can, having regard to our limited supplies of materials. If it is not possible to complete the building of the houses that are needed, we should not hesitate, during this emergency period, to carry out the preliminary work of building so as to keep men in constant employment. Fortunately, we have supplies of cement and other materials which will allow us to proceed a certain distance with building schemes. If, through a shortage of materials, it is not possible to complete them, we would have the satisfaction of going a certain distance and creating a permanent asset instead of having, as we will have under this order, a liability and a danger to the community.

I consider there is no greater danger to the stability of the community than to have, at a time of emergency such as this, at a time when the cost of living is increasing so rapidly, large numbers of people who cannot find adequate food and clothing for their families. It is a very dangerous state of affairs to have men, who were seldom, if ever, out of employment before, now thrown into unemployment. Such men are not likely to be content or satisfied with a condition of poverty or destitution. Last year we had numbers of young men coming to this country from Great Britain, telling terrible tales of the destruction and death and desolation that existed on the other side. An extraordinary thing is now happening. Many of these young men who fled here for safety are now going back to face the bombs and the ruin and desolation on the other side rather than face slow starvation in this country. That is a terrible reflection upon our country, a country with a small population and fairly adequate resources, if they were properly developed.

I think the Taoiseach should have a very deep interest in this matter. I believe he is deeply concerned in solving the problem of unemployment. I feel he should set himself to the task of putting those men to work, no matter what obstacles may confront him, whether these obstacles come from the Civil Service permanent officials, who do not want to be knocked out of their present procedure, or from the banks or other financial interests. He should not be deterred, whatever the obstacles may be to the carrying out of a plan for the employment of people in the production of food in particular. The Government should go ahead with whatever plans they consider feasible. If they require powers to carry these plans into effect, the country will be only too glad to give them. The Government may confidently rely on the co-operation of the people. We should avoid, in so far as we can, having large sections of our population living in destitution while there is urgent need for work to be done in the production of essential requirements.

This Unemployment Assistance (Employment Period) Order, as other Deputies have stated, has created a great deal of confusion in the country. When the legislation was passed, the then Minister had in view that it would enable large numbers of men to get unemployment assistance who previously did not come under the provisions of any Act. I distinctly remember the time when the Act was passed, and I was not absolutely convinced of its necessity in so far as it applied to certain types of workers. Reference has been made to small farmers. Very large numbers of them down through the ages have lived without any unemployment assistance, and they have reared large families, but unfortunately, from the national point of view, the Government thought fit to pass that legislation, which brought thousands of men within its provisions. It strikes me that when the Government considered this matter further, they saw that there was a mistake made, and they tried to rectify it by making an Employment Period Order. That is where the difficulty comes in. Just as in the case of an increase of wages, it is much easier to fight against the increase than to give it and take it off again. It is more difficult to reduce wages than it is at times to fight against an increase, and that is more or less what happened on this occasion. These men, having enjoyed the provisions of this Act for the last few years, regarded this Employment Period Order as a regular thunderbolt. It is time we recognised that there is no use in asking the Government to solve the unemployment problem.

I make a special appeal to the Labour Deputies when I suggest that the solution of this matter must be the work of the people in general. I would rather be addressing the people of this country at a big meeting in Stephen's Green, because one would like to put some plain facts before them. I cannot see where there is any possibility of the Government finding a satisfactory solution for this problem. People may say that every man should be in constant employment, but human nature is such that that would be impossible. I think, however, a great deal could be done by large sections of our people who at the moment are tolerably well off, if they think an odd time, when they are criticising and complaining of the little sacrifies that they have to make, of the major sacrifices that have been and are being made by the thousands of our people who have been unemployed for the last few years. If people in that position would just think of their happy conditions, they would possibly make a little more allowance and devote a little more time, care and thought to the position of others who are less fortunate. In that way much could be done to help the Government to solve in part, and only in part, this very pressing problem.

Many Deputies have tried to reason out the motive or motives which prompted the Minister to make this Order, and here again we must face facts. There are many people who, on public platforms and at meetings of various county councils, urban councils and committees of agriculture, make statements to the effect that the dole is not a good thing. Sometimes their arguments look very good on paper, and at times I am somewhat sympathetic towards the views expressed by these people, but when I go deeper into the subject, when I cast my eyes around the country and see the position of the people, I come to the definite conclusion that, when all is said and done, the provision of money by way of dole might possibly be the cheapest, most economic and best way of dealing with these unemployed men. For instance, there has been a scheme in operation for several years—it is a very good scheme for which great arguments can be put up, but against which I could put up good arguments, too— under which men are given three days' work a week. It has the advantage that you employ 100 men for three days a week, whereas if you gave them six days a week, you would employ only 50. It has the advantage that you employ double the number for half the time, but against that it is possible to put up the argument that if you give employment to 50 men and keep them constantly in employment, or very nearly so, you have 50 men who are satisfied, whereas under the other arrangement you have 100 men who are neither comfortable nor satisfied. There are arguments for and against, and undoubtedly the Minister and his officials are trying to do the best they can in very difficult circumstances.

This Order has been made and it is general in its application, except for some small exceptions in regard to congested districts. In that respect, too, I could argue that there are people in congested districts who might be better off financially than people in other districts who, by reason of the nature of the land and their surroundings, might be considered to be more affluent. With regard to the application of the Order, the Minister must know that immediately surrounding large towns like Dundalk or Drogheda—I will not refer to cities because they are too big and spread too far—there is a rural area which is very thickly populated. The Minister, I think, will agree that 99 per cent. of the wage-earners in these areas found their livelihood in either of these towns. The Minister himself spent some time in the district and he knows the area to which I refer. For the last 100 years, it has been a matter of tradition that the people in those areas almost exclusively earned their living in Dundalk and Drogheda, and this Order, as it is applied at the moment, deprives these people of the right to receive unemployment assistance. They will get unemployment benefit if they have stamps, but these are congested districts so far as employment on the land is concerned, because, in the case of Dundalk, the area immediately surrounding it, for a radius of three miles, is divided up into small farms and any work done there is, in the main, done by the farmer and members of his family. Consequently, there is a large number of decent workingmen who are completely cut off from the unemployment assistance and thereby forced, much against their will, to apply to the board of health for a little assistance, which is not at all equal to what they would be entitled to if they enjoyed the benefits of the Act as heretofore and which does not at all meet their requirements in regard to the provision of food for themselves and their families.

I do not want to worry the House, or to make the position of the Minister any more difficult, by reading letters, but I have a letter here from one who, by reason of his duties in connection with the spiritual needs of the people, is brought into close touch with the type of persons I refer to. He has written me a very strong letter asking me, if at all possible, to have an interview with the Minister and to get this Order withdrawn in so far as it affects the areas around Dundalk and Drogheda, because there is no such thing as employment for these people. I hope that the Minister and the Taoiseach, whose presence here proves the great importance he attaches to this motion, will understand that these people cannot get employment on the land because they were always employed in these two towns. They suffer from another grievance, that is, that they can see as well as we, because some of them are well educated, though they are poor, the Government going out of its way at times—and very properly so, in many cases—to help industrialists and to give them concessions with a view to keeping those engaged in these industries in constant employment, and in many cases the concessions granted mean hardship, let it be great or small, upon these unemployed. They are beginning to say to me and to others: "If the Government does things with a view to keeping certain people employed not at the unemployment assistance rate of 13/- or 14/-, but at trade union rates, surely we are entitled to ask the Government to provide ways and means whereby we can enjoy some of the good things of this life?"

That is one of the things put up. Another thing with regard to these unemployed people is that, unfortunately when they go into a shop for their groceries or bread,they have to pay the same price out of their 10/- or 12/- a week as the man who has £4 or £5 or £10 or £50 a week—in fact, as much as a millionaire. Owing to the fact that they have to buy some of these commodities in small quantities, they have even to pay from 25 per cent. to 30 per cent. more than these other people. Take the case of butter. Very few of the people to whom I refer can afford to buy a pound of butter at once. If they were able to do that, they would pay 1/7. They have to buy their butter by the quarter-pound, and the shopkeeper charges them at the rate of 1/8. That is the case with other things, when divided into four parts, because there are no farthings. In many cases, these people find that they have to pay 15 per cent. to 20 per cent. more for articles of food than other people pay, in addition to bearing the increased cost of living. They are entitled to say, as they often do say: "If I cannot get unemployment assistance or relief, the Government should see that the cost of living should not be increasing day by day, and that we should not have to meet that cost to the same extent as the man who is in a position to do so."

We may reconcile ourselves to a certain amount of unemployment in these times—much more than any of us would like to see. I would remind those people who decry the dole, and who, possibly, could put up arguments against it, that they should be in a position to put up an alternative. Time is the essence of this problem. A man cannot live on air. We must pay these people this tribute—that, up to the present, they have not given much trouble. Take them as a whole—you will, of course, have exceptions—and converse with them, and you will find that there is no undue amount of bitterness in their remarks regarding what has been done for them. I have met many examples of that old Irish dignity and tradition which induced men to starve rather than beg or go to the home assistance officer. When I congratulated one man on his appearance, he said to me: "Poverty there may be, but do not preach it. That is a thing I never do." There was poverty in his case, but he was not preaching it.

I impress upon the Minister that he should examine the areas to which I have referred—the areas surrounding the large towns in which live people who have earned their living almost exclusively by working in these towns. They suffer great hardship by the application of this regulation. It is about the first time that this Order has been applied in its entirety. There is absolutely no hope for these people in the immediate future, so far as I can see, and I can view the economic position as well as the next. We might as well be candid about it.

One of the industries that did absorb a large number of men—the building industry—is practically at a stand-still owing to difficulties many of which are beyond the control of the Government, such as shortage of material. A boom obtained in that trade for six or seven years and it had the effect of attracting thousands to it who, otherwise, would not have entered it. These men will, as I have often said, have to get out of that trade when the boom ceases, as it will some time or other. It has been abruptly interrupted recently. Naturally, when there is a boom, higher wages are obtainable. Workers now find themselves cut down to at least a third of their former earnings.

Many of the people who work in the building trade in Dundalk and live outside the town are not in receipt of assistance from any body except the board of health. Many people will deny themselves the bare necessaries of life rather than consent to take relief from that source. I ask the Minister and the Taoiseach, if possible, to do something to relieve the hardships which these people are suffering. As I said the other day, I cannot see why it would not be possible, as some Deputy suggested, to raise a loan to meet this abnormal situation. We enjoy peaceful times. Many people in other countries would pay a big price for peace. They would give all they possess to have their country restored to the position, which our country enjoys at the moment. Irish people who could afford to do so would, I think, be willing to give assistance to the Government in providing funds to meet the emergency in which we find ourselves, particularly in regard to the type of work which comes under this employment Order.

Are we to hear anybody from the Government benches?

I was waiting lest some other Deputy might have something to say. It is understood that the proposer of the motion will have a certain amount of time in which to reply?

Ten minutes would be sufficient for that.

That will depend on what the Minister has to say.

I was wondering whether some other Deputy would like to make points with which he would desire me to deal.

There is only one point —why did you withdraw the right to assistance?

The first fact we have got to seize hold of and keep continuously in our mind when considering this Order is that unemployment assistance is not the sole resort of those who are in need of work and cannot find it. Home assistance is available in every area to which this Third Employment Period Order applies for men who are genuinely unable to find work, and who because of that fact are undergoing hardship or are in need. The obligation upon the local authorities to provide that form of relief subsists all the time, apart altogether from the provisions of the Unemployment Assistance Act. In fact, in some cases, not in the generality of cases, to which the Third Employment Period Order applies, home assistance has, in fact, been given to people who have been in receipt of unemployment assistance, people living in our larger towns and cities.

Therefore, notwithstanding what Deputy Linehan and Deputy Coburn and others said—but not Deputy Cogan, because he made the point which I am making, that if people are not relieved through the operation of the Unemployment Assistance Act, they must be relieved by the local authorities—there is still this alternative form of assistance to which these people are entitled. Therefore, the operation of this Third Employment Period Order of itself does not create hardship, need not create hardship, should not create hardship, and so far as we can compel local authorities to do their duty, will not create hardship.

It is a national problem.

It causes hardship to the local ratepayers.

There is nothing new about it. Since 1934 Employment Period Orders have been made from time to time. These Employment Period Orders may have caught in their net occasionally a person, the unusual person, who, during the period for which the Employment Period Orders were made, would be in need of assistance from some public source. What has been the case which has been made here against the Employment Period Orders year after year? Year after year the case has been made that a certain proportion of those who were deprived of unemployment assistance would have to take home assistance instead.

Of course we can be told, as some people will say, that they do not like taking home assistance. But, in my view, and I may say in the view of every reasoning man, there must be just the same objection to drawing unemployment assistance as there would be to drawing home assistance, and the only justification for doing either is that a man cannot earn money in any way, or cannot get any other means of support.

But once you concede the principle that if a man cannot find any other means of support he is entitled to public relief, then, so far as I can see at any rate, we cannot draw any nice distinction between unemployment assistance, which is drawn through the employment exchanges, and home assistance, which is given by the local authorities. In either case it is public money which provides the relief, and, in my view, any person who happens to be in real need because he cannot find work, is justly entitled to have recourse to one or the other, whichever at the moment happens to be made available to him, and there should be no stigma upon drawing the one which does not equally apply to drawing the other.

In considering this problem, having first of all made it clear that, by the simple operation of the Employment Period Order, you do not deprive any person who is in real need of the certainty of help from public funds, let us now try to visualise the extent of that problem. Deputy Norton stated that he has estimated that last year, through the operation of the three Employment Period Orders, 52,000 persons were deprived of unemployment assistance. The fact is, and it is not unusual when statistics of that sort are quoted in the House, that Deputy Norton slightly exaggerated, because the actual number of people who were affected by the three Employment Period Orders of last year, the first, the second, and the third, which have now been consolidated into one, was 48,800, of whom I may say 15,944 were affected by the Third Employment Period Order, an aspect of this year's Order which has been the centre of discussion in this House this afternoon. This year, due to the operation of the consolidated Order, as I shall describe it for convenience of reference, the number affected has been 39,000, as against 48,000 last year. If that Order had not been substantially modified—I am coming to that point in a moment—we might have anticipated that at least the same number of people would have been affected by the consolidated Order as were affected by the three Orders running concurrently last year; that is to say, that we should have had 48,000 or 49,000 people disqualified from drawing unemployment assistance.

Now, the fact that we have only 39,000 affected this year shows the extent to which the consolidation of the three Orders, which were overlapping last year, and also the removal of a number of anomalies, which perhaps did unexpectedly occasion hardship, has relieved the position, even from the point of view of Deputies who have been seeking the annulment of the Order, as compared with last year. It is, if I may say so, rather disturbing to find that when Deputies come into the House and talk on these matters in the strain in which some Deputies talk occasionally about the great hardship imposed, about the effect which the Order was having on the country, about the disturbance which it was creating, about the disrespect into which it was bringing this House, they make themselves merely by suggestion propagandists for all sorts of subversive movements.

That is damn nonsense.

I might put it this way.

It is disgraceful to make a statement of that kind when people in the country are hungry. It is very hard to sit listening to that nonsense.

There is no need to go on in that strain. The point is this. When this discussion is embarked upon, if we are to get any use or value out of it we ought to be really sure of the facts of which we are speaking. It was assumed by a speaker in this debate that the same reservations in regard to persons living in certain areas applied this year as applied last year when, in fact, on its face the Order shows that they have been very distinctly modified in order to meet the real points of substance which, in my view, were made in the debate last year. The Deputy spoke here of the position of a man who claimed to be —and who I am sure was—the father of six dependent children, and whose wife was dead. The fact is that, if he was married and a widower and had that number of dependent children, or even only one dependent child, and if he lives in the area to which the Deputy was referring, he would be entitled to draw unemployment assistance.

Under this Order?

But not last year.

No, but then it is this year's Order we are discussing. That is one of the things about which, with all due deference to some Deputies who have been annoyed, I think I should be equally entitled to be annoyed. I am asked to meet faults or failings which are not justified, and am asked that by reason of the fact that the Order has not been studied. The position is that there is exemption from this Order in the case of any married man or widower who has a dependent and whose place of residence is situate within any district electoral division set out in the Schedule to the Order—among which is the district to which Deputy Keyes refers—who is not the occupier of any land or is the occupier of land of which the rateable valuation does not exceed £2, or any person who resides in a house owned by the council of any county or other borough or urban district or by the commissioners of a town, situate outside such county or other borough, urban district or town, and who, immediately before taking up residence in such house, resided in premises situate in such county or other borough, urban district or town.

Such persons, under the present Order, would be entitled to draw unemployment assistance. I would like to make that clear. The figures which I have already quoted show that there is a very considerable extension of the exemption under the Order. Accordingly, there was not any foundation whatsoever for the suggestion that when representations are made in this House, and upon careful examination seem to be well founded, we are prepared to disregard them, or would not take them into consideration and meet them to the utmost extent possible. That was the suggestion underlying the whole of the speeches from the Opposition, and I feel that, in view of the fact that I have given careful consideration to what was urged in regard to this matter, I have equal reason to resent the remarks of some Deputies as they have to resent any observations that I may have addressed to them recently.

A number of letters were read by Deputies in the course of this debate. One thing about them all was that I seem to have had the same letters from the same persons, and that they had been addressed to more than one quarter. That is not remarkable. They seem to have been addressed to more than one Deputy and more than one quarter. That is not by any means remarkable, but what is to be guarded against is the assumption made by Deputy MacEoin that because one Deputy gets a letter and he gets one, and a third Deputy gets one, they are all coming from three different persons. They may have originated from one person.

For goodness' sake, will the Minister be serious?

Just wait one moment.

How does the Minister know from whom these letters were? The names were not read out. The Minister is simply wasting time.

I have read very carefully over the letters that have been sent to me on this subject, and my memory is sufficiently retentive to recognise the text of them. A number of letters have come this year; some came from the same persons last year. I received about 1,000 complaints in relation to last year's Employment Period Order. These were very thoroughly investigated, and in a number of cases it was found that the persons were in real need, but they happened to be in need at the date of the investigation because—and that may be the case again in relation to some of the letters which have been read out—they had not taken the necessary steps to substantiate their claims. In some cases they had assumed that they were ruled out because they were not the occupants of the land or not the registered owners. In a number of other cases which were carefully investigated, the reports were that the complainants were not in need, or, if they happened to be in need, they were in need due to their own fault. That is why I wish to warn Deputies that they must not assume that, because letters were addressed to them——

I wish to warn the Minister now that he is dealing with 36,000 people who have been cut off and not with the letters of a few cases.

We do not wish to see the people hungry.

Let us see if the people are hungry. I do not believe it, but I would be just as concerned as the Deputy is if they were.

We are tired listening to that. Why not practise what you preach?

Let the Minister speak.

Go to Gardiner Street or Gloucester Street.

Let the Minister speak.

The Deputy has become very fond of Ministers lately. Speak to the unemployed in Gardiner Street.

The unemployed in Gardiner Street are not affected by this Order. Does Deputy Everett know that?

He knows more than the Minister knows.

If they are not affected by the Order, what is the point of bringing them in? We are dealing with a particular class affected by this Order.

We are dealing with the unemployed in Gardiner Street.

I must ask the Chair to protect me from Deputy Everett's irrelevancies.

The Deputy does not wish to hear. I was saying that we had these complaints very carefully investigated and the general tenor of the reports from the districts which were visited was of this nature: "I travelled extensively over the district and I must confess that I did not see any reason why more use is not made of the land. Compared with people living in other parts of the county, they could be in comparative comfort if they applied themselves more to the cultivation of the soil. I would not describe anything I have seen as hardship, let alone destitution. By this I mean that, where there has been neglect there may have been hardship, but that is not because of lack of unemployment assistance but because there has not been attention to the land to a sufficient degree." That is the general tenor of the reports that I have received as a result of the investigations which I ordered into the complaints received last year. In the light of that fact, I regard these investigations as being of much more substance in relation to this problem than the letters which have been read here in this House.

I quoted a letter from a distinguished priest, Canon Cassidy, of Gort, sending 50 names. Do you want to repudiate that? You do not want evidence.

The Deputies must control themselves while the Minister is making his speech.

The Minister is not entitled to write down the value of our correspondence and evidence.

The Minister is in the habit of quoting, but very seldom gives the reference for his quotation, or the name of the person responsible.

On a point of order, when a document is read in the House, or any part of a document, and if a request is made that that document be placed in the Library, I submit the whole of that document should be placed in the Library, and that Deputies are entitled to have that document placed in the Library.

It is quite a new thing to ask that a Minister's brief should be put in the Library.

I want to put a point of order. When a Minister reads from a document——

I am reading from my brief.

I take it these are official documents from the Minister's Department.

Again, on a point of order, the Minister has read an extract from a particular document——

The Minister quoted verbatim from a particular document, from a report or from a communication of some kind, and I submit the House is entitled to get that document placed in the Library for the information of Deputies, if Deputies so desire.

Has the Chair given a ruling on my point? I make the point of order, subject to your ruling, Sir, that if a Minister, as this Minister, is in the habit of giving quotations he must give a reference to the quotation; tell us what he is quoting from.

Is it not well established practice in this House, that if a Minister quotes from a document he must lay it on the Table of the House, which means making it available in the Library? When a Minister is not prepared to do that he has been prohibited in this House before, by rulings of the Ceann Comhairle, from quoting from the document. Will established practice be observed in this case by the Minister who has now quoted a document?

I suggest that that point might be raised when the Ceann Comhairle is in the Chair. I am not acquainted with precedent on the matter.

In view of the possibility that the Minister may exhaust this file by similar quotations, would you consider the desirability of sending for the Ceann Comhairle so that we may get a decision on the matter before the Minister exhausts the pile of correspondence he has?

Is the Minister quoting from Professor Laski?

May I put a point to the Chair—I do not know if it is a point of order or not—but when I started to speak it was conveyed to me that it was desirable that the mover of this motion should have time to reply. I have now been subjected to a continuous stream of interruptions which have prevented me from making my case for the Order.

There is nobody irrelevant but the Minister. He has not dealt with the motion at all.

Will you, Sir, rule on the point of order that has been put to you, namely, a Minister has quoted from a document; will it, in accordance with customary practice, be laid on the Table of the House? If it is not possible for you to give a ruling, I suggest that you send for the Ceann Comhairle so that we can vindicate our rights in this House.

I submit the question is ridiculous. I made a reference to my brief, as is customary, and no person has yet demanded that a Minister's brief should be put in the Library.

It is not a brief.

We do not know what it is.

The Minister puts an unsigned document against evidence for which we have quoted the authorities. He wants to put his document, which is anonymous as far as we are concerned, against ours.

Deal with that point in your reply.

We have nothing to reply to. The Minister will not speak on the question.

Mr. Kelly

It is not fair to the Minister to be interrupting.

You have got very fond of Ministers.

Mr. Kelly

I am not a bit fonder of them than I am of you.

The House has no information or any knowledge of what the document is, whether it is a published document or not.

It is supposed to be authentic.

Is not that our complaint?

As far as the Chair knows, it may be a manuscript of his own thoughts in the matter.

It may be imagination.

Are you giving a ruling?

I am not giving a ruling. The Deputy may like to raise the matter when the Ceann Comhairle is in the Chair.

Is the Minister entitled to quote from his imagination, from Professor Laski, or from some unknown Communist economist?

It is now five minutes past six. I understand this debate is to conclude at a quarter to seven. I submit this is deliberate obstruction on the part of the Labour Party.

The Minister is not dealing seriously with the motion. Let him deal with the motion and tell us why he put the people off unemployment assistance, and not deal with one or two cases as to whether a man was married or a widower.

I am telling the Deputy why. At least, I am going to proceed to tell him, if he will permit me. The position, as Deputy Norton mentioned, is that last year, due to the operation of these three Employment Period Orders, there were 48,800 people disqualified from drawing unemployment assistance. The assumption when the Orders were made was that the great majority of these 48,800 people were not really in need of unemployment assistance, that the majority of them could have found either useful work upon their own land or could have found in the rural areas alternative employment upon the lands of other people.

That was the assumption. I have pointed out that if a person is in real need because of the fact that unemployment assistance has been withdrawn, he has the alternative of seeking home assistance, and some of the documents which were quoted by Deputies—and which I have not asked them to table— indicated that in fact the persons who are in receipt of unemployment assistance are well aware of their rights in regard to home assistance, and that they have addressed themselves to the boards of health at the appropriate centres. We have heard from Deputy Cogan as to what has happened in Wicklow. Deputy Norton read to us, I think, what has happened in Killarney, and, accordingly, so far as those who have been recipients of unemployment assistance are concerned, there is no ignorance of their rights under the law. What was the position last year? I pointed out that 48,800 people were affected by the Employment Period Order, and that these, if they were in need, had the right to apply to the home assistance authorities. I hope that after the quotations which we have heard from Deputies, no person is going to submit there has been any undue hesitation in applying to the home assistance authorities for relief on the part of those who are really in need of it.

Of course there is.

Do you know how much they get there?

I do not know how much they get, but what is more important is the number of people who have actually applied and the number of people who have been found to be in need.

And the amounts by which the rates have been increased. You are collecting it already from urban areas.

That is another matter. But what we are concerned about here is not how much the rates have been increased, because we have been told in regard to this matter that money does not matter; money is not to count; what we are concerned about is this one net fact: Out of the 48,800 people who have been deprived of unemployment assistance, how many of them were found on investigation by the local authorities to be in actual need of any relief whatsoever, be it great or small, from public funds?

That is the net point to which we have got to address ourselves, and not to the amount of home assistance that may be given to them. Now, what was the position? The three Employment Period Orders of last year, as the House is aware, were running concurrently in June, July, August and September. They were running together. They had affected no less than 48,800 people, or 9,000 people more than have been affected by the consolidated Order. Now, how was the hardship which we are told the three Employment Period Orders of last year occasioned, reflected in the figures relating to the recipients of home assistance? Here are the figures. In June of 1940, the number of people in receipt of home assistance was 620 greater than in June of 1939; in July of 1940, it was only 345, in August of 1940, it was only 387, and in September of 1940, it was only 923 greater than in 1939. Now, the position in relation to home assistance is that the home assistance officers and the people of the area concerned are familiar, in a way which the central authority cannot be, with all the circumstances of those who apply for home assistance, and that they are able to make an investigation which we cannot undertake because we cannot go on continuously investigating the position or circumstances of 48,000 or 49,000 people day after day. Accordingly, the circumstances of the people who apply for home assistance are fairly well known in their own districts and to the home assistance officers.

They are also known to the Guards and to the labour exchanges.

Yes, they are also known to the Guards, but at any rate the Deputy does not deny my assertion that the circumstances of the people who apply for home assistance can be, and are, closely investigated.

The Minister is not now quoting from a document of 1841?

I would ask you, Sir, to protect me from these irrelevant remarks. Even if Deputy Mulcahy does not take these matters seriously, I do. We are now in the year 1941, and I was dealing with 1940, and I was saying that, with regard to the 49,000 people drawing unemployment assistance before June, July, August and September of 1940, when applications were made for home assistance by people affected by the Order, and when the home assistance officers, quite naturally, before yielding to an application, took some pains to assure themselves that they were justified, bearing in mind their responsibilities to their own ratepayers, in giving relief to these recipients—they could only find, in the month of June 620, in July 315, in August 387, and in September 923, out of the 48,800 people affected by the three figures.

Is the Minister to be allowed to waste time repeating figures?

Now, the Deputy——

I have only one question that I want to ask.

Opposition Deputies spoke here to-day for two hours without a single interruption. There cannot be two codes: one for Deputies and the reverse for Ministers. The Minister is entitled to as good a hearing as was accorded to the Deputies.

May I ask a question?

Yes, provided the Minister gives way.

This question is addressed to you, Sir, and not to the Minister. May I ask you, Sir, if it is in order for the Minister, or if it is good manners on the part of the Minister, to repeat at least six or seven times figures with which we are all acquainted?

I have only one question to ask and it is not obstructive. In quoting figures with regard to unemployment assistance and home assistance in the months of June, July, August and September of 1940, is the Minister unmindful of the fact that the home assistance people could not deal with the other cases because they had not budgeted for them and, therefore, could not provide relief for them?

There is no foundation for that.

It is true.

That is not true.

It is true.

It is not true.

On a point of order, Sir. As a member of a public assistance board, I wish to say——

That is not a point of order.

——that any man——

This is a deliberative assembly, and Deputies ought to have sufficient self-control to make it worthy of the title.

The Minister ought to have sufficient self-control to make it such.

Six Deputies got an uninterrupted hearing this afternoon. The Minister will be heard.

I have not asserted that the figures I have given relate to single able-bodied men. They relate, I presume, to married men with dependents, and the net issue of this debate has been the fact that married men with dependents, in some areas, are affected by this Order. That has been the net issue, and it has been in relation to that that I have given these figures, though I have gathered that in some areas home assistance is given to single able-bodied men. I am not making any point of that, however, and only want to correct the misapprehension under which Deputy Hickey seemed to be labouring. But now, let us see how the figures which I have given have been or are to some extent substantiated by one of the Deputies who spoke in this debate in favour of the motion, Deputy Cogan.

Deputy Cogan has given us the position in regard to Wicklow, and he has stated that, because of the operation of the Employment Period Order, the Wicklow Board of Health had to find from £1,500 to £2,000 net, and had to give additional relief to 109 able-bodied men having 290 dependents. Those are the figures which Deputy Cogan gave, and I am not going to controvert them. I am quite prepared to accept them because they are quite consistent with the information I have had. Now, I have given the figures showing the total number of people who, we may assume, had to get home assistance last year by reason of the fact that there were three Employment Period Orders running through June, July, August and September, and I have shown that the number was very small. I have ascertained that the total amount which was paid by way of home assistance in respect of persons who, but for the operation of the Employment Period Orders, would have been qualified to receive unemployment assistance, was only £16,000. It is quite true, as Deputy Cogan has pointed out, that in some counties more was paid than in others, but in general the average amount which was required to provide relief for persons who were found to be in real need because of the operation of the Employment Period Order was about £29 or so per week, per board of health. That was the net effect of it. Having made the Order, and the position having been investigated by the officers of the local authority, the amount of hardship which it inflicted was of that order: that if every county board in the country were prepared to find £29 a week during the currency of the Order, on the average, it would have provided relief for the people who were in need because of the Order. These are facts, and they are facts based upon close investigation of the position during the period when the Employment Period Orders were in operation. There is no use coming in here and, simply for the sake of making a case against the Order, shutting our eyes to these facts.

I am not going to believe for a moment that the Wexford Board of Health or the Wicklow Board of Health did not do its duty in regard to this matter, or that any single board of health in this country, if it were faced with the necessity to relieve destitution created by the operation of the Employment Period Order, would put up the trumpery excuse: "Oh, we have not budgeted for that." If so, they would not be permitted to get away with it. They would have to provide the relief. I believe that they would do it. Naturally even the Wicklow Board of Health would object to finding an additional £2,000. Even the Wexford Board of Health would object to finding an additional £3,000, but whether it is £2,000 or £3,000, I am perfectly certain that if they were convinced that it was necessary to do it in order to relieve destitution, they would find this money. The only question is whether it is better that they should find £2,000 or £3,000, as the case may be, to relieve the limited number of people whom actual experience showed to be in need during the currency of the Employment Period Order last year, or whether we are to come in here and ask the general taxpayer to find about £150,000 in order to give relief not merely to 300, 400 or even 900 people who may be in need, but to 48,000 others who are not in need. That is the problem which is involved in this Employment Period Order. That is the net position. I contend, as a result of our experience of last year, that the amount of temporary hardship created by these Orders has been grossly exaggerated in this House.

Not at all.

If what Deputy Hickey says is true—I am not sure whether Deputy Hickey is a member of a board of public assistance or not—

If what he says is true I am perfectly certain that Deputy Hickey would not allow any sort of hardship to grow up in Cork, simply because it is going to mean a little additional responsibilty for his particular local body. I feel confident also that no other Deputy, much less a member of a local authority, will permit hardship to grow up. Here we have the figures, and having examined the cases in detail, we find that the effect of these Orders has been greatly exaggerated by those who have spoken for the motion.

I should like before leaving that matter to deal with a few points made by Deputy Linehan. Deputy Linehan made a speech in which he stated that he had attended a meeting of unemployed in a hall—I do not know whether it was a large hall or a little hall.

A large hall.

The meeting was, he said, held in Millstreet, and it was an overflow meeting.

Did the Deputy when he went to the meeting check the claims of the people who attended it?

The Deputy knew every one of them and their circumstances from boyhood.

The Deputy has spoken here about 28 carpenters in his town, members of the Amalgamated Union of Woodworkers who were, presumably, affected by this Employment Period Order.

Not necessarily, but they will be affected very shortly.

Not necessarily? In fact, if they were carpenters who had been in more or less continuous employment over a number of years, they were in receipt of unemployment benefit.

For six months.

At the moment, they are not affected by the Order.

If they are not employed for six months, they are affected by it.

That is a matter which we can investigate. After all, carpenters as a rule are not tied to one place. They move around, and there may be work here and work there for them. We are not bound to provide unemployment assistance for skilled tradesmen who may be able to find employment in other places simply in order that they may be able to live in the one town. I do not know whether these carpenters are married or single, or how they are affected. We know very little about them, but there is this one presumption, that they being carpenters, being skilled tradesmen, being members of a strong trade union, are not merely in receipt of unemployment benefit, but may also be in receipt of benefit from their union as well.

No such thing.

However, we can leave it at that. There was no need to bring them in. If the Deputy had tried to confine himself to authentic cases, instead of making the sort of speech he did, if he were prepared to give me the names of the people whom he represents as being in these circumstances, we might investigate the cases.

Will the Minister tell me anywhere in Ireland where he can get work for 18 carpenters to-day?

Belfast is the only place.

There are other places in which there has been a demand for carpenters. Quite a lot of building work has been done recently by the Department of Defence.

How it it then that 1,400 carpenters were idle on the 1st January last?

The fact that they were out of a job at a particular period does not mean that they are constantly idle. I was going to point out what were the prospects in the coming year of finding employment for men who are affected by the Order. First of all, we have the fact that there has been a continuous drive to increase the area under tillage in this country. The area which a person is compelled to till by Order has been increased from one-eighth of every holding of arable land of ten acres or over to one-fifth. That is to say, there has been an increase of sixty per cent. in the amount of compulsory tillage in the country.

I know it is the fashion to say that the increase will not give additional employment. Personally I cannot see how, if we are going to compel landholders of this country to cultivate least 60 per cent. more than they did last year, you are not going to provide opportunities or additional employment. I am more sceptical in regard to these assertions that the Tillage Order will not mean additional employment by reason of the fact that after the Employment Period Order came into operation last year, a census of people engaged in agricultural employment disclosed an increase of almost 13,000 as compared with the figures of the previous year.

How many of them were paid?

It does not matter.

The interruptions are being renewed.

He is asking for them.

It does not matter how many are paid, because if they have land or if they are the relatives of farmers, or the sons of farmers and their fathers have the land, their job is to find their livelihood on the holding during the summer months or during the agricultural season.

But not on the 6th March.

The fact is that they begin sowing in spring. That is one aspect of the matter. Accordingly, there is going to be, and there is, at the moment, a considerable increase in the area under tillage.

Again, a scheme of farm improvement was inaugurated last year. It did not get going fully last year, but it will be in full swing this year. Under that scheme no less than 22,000 applications have been received from farmers who propose to employ labour in improving their farms and holdings, and quite a considerable sum of money will be devoted to that work. Of the 22,000 applications which have been received, 18,500 have already been inspected, and 10,000 have been passed and approved for grants. The execution of that work is going to provide a considerable amount of employment in the present year.

We have also, through the medium of the Press, through the medium of the Turf Board, and in other ways, impressed upon people who live in areas where turbary is available, the necessity for a considerably increased output of turf during the current year. In fact, we have asked them to cut twice and three times as much turf as they cut last year. If there is going to be that increase in the area under tillage and this improvement of farms, at the same time as we are making more turf, is it not quite clear that there is going to be a great demand for agricultural labour, and for labour in the neighbourhood of small towns?

Not in the small towns.

We cannot go and give money where money is not, in fact, absolutely necessary. Not merely have we asked parish councils, which perhaps will be more directly approached in the next couple of days, but private individuals and coal merchants to make arrangements with regard to turf, and I hope within the next two or three days we shall be able to give power to county councils, to urban district councils, and to town commissioners, to acquire turf banks for letting to people who wish to cut turbary and, where the fuel and employment position warrant it, to acquire work and operate turbaries for themselves. All that is going to give a considerable amount of employment in the present year. As one Deputy mentioned, the position, in fact, is, as we saw by the Press only last night, that in some counties farmers are complaining that they have not the necessary supply of labour available in order to fulfil their arrangements. Of course I know these things will be cried down, but they should carry as much weight in this House as some of the statements made here in contravention. Whatever way we look at it, I think, judging by the experience of last year, and the opportunities for increased employment which exist in rural areas, and which will exist in those areas in an increasing degree as the year goes on, we are fully justified in the basic assumption which underlies the Order, that there will be a considerable amount of additional employment available, and accordingly, it is not necessary to provide, as may have been the case in other years, for the relief of unemployment on the same scale from the public funds. That is the essence of the matter. I am quite content to concede that there will be exceptions to that rule, that there will be cases of hardship, but I say, on the basis of our experience, that that hardship is not going to be so grave, and the number of cases in which it will be found to exist will not be so large that they cannot be dealt with by local authorities.

When the Minister was quoting from a document in his speech in the House, the point was raised that it should be placed on the Table. I want to raise the point now that if the Minister was quoting from an official document it should be quoted in full so as not to convey a partial interpretation to the House. I refer to a ruling to that effect in Volume 49, columns 1177 and 1178 of Rulings of Ceann Comhairle. I also refer to a ruling in Volume 50, column 2220 which states: "Confidential document not available to Deputies: If Minister purports to quote from, should be tabled and made available to the House."

Is the Deputy putting that point of order to the Chair?

I do not know whether the Minister concedes that he was quoting from an official document. If the Minister simply quotes figures from a document or brief in his possession, he is of course entitled to do so without quoting the whole document or statistical table. Obviously, to quote all such documents in full would be impracticable. If official documents not available to Deputies are quoted from and attention is drawn to that fact, the Minister would be asked to cease quotation or table the document.

The matter was raised after the Minister had finished quoting, and I submit the position is as given in Volume 49, page 1177 of the Rulings, which is to the effect that if a document is quoted it should be quoted in full, since an extract might convey a partial interpretation. The other ruling states that if a Minister was quoting an official document it should be tabled so that a partial interpretation of what was contained in the document would not be given to the House.

If objection were taken to the Minister's quoting, the question should have been raised at the time. Precedents have been quoted on the subject, but the Deputy is aware that the Chair is not bound by precedents without considering all the circumstances.

I drew attention to it.

The Minister has not agreed or disagreed to the statement that he was quoting from an official document.

We have listened to a speech from the Minister which might be summed up in the phrase, "jam yesterday, jam to-morrow but no jam to-day" as far as the unemployed are concerned. The Minister has been a keen student of the Red Queen. That is the philosophy he tried to draw on this evening, in an attempt to defend his position. When listening to the speech the only conclusion to come to was that there were persons serving long terms of imprisonment for having made speeches that were less dangerous to the national welfare than the speech he made. It is quite clear from the Minister's speech that he has a completely cynical outlook on the sufferings of the unemployed by the operation of this Order. He indulged in the most specious efforts in an endeavour to persuade these people to believe that there was employment awaiting them in the coming year. He referred to the case of the carpenters, to which Deputy Linehan drew attention, stating that they could get employment without much difficulty. He forgot that on the 6th March 837 carpenters were idle, and that on the 5th January 1,884 were idle. There may not be 884 carpenters idle now, because the trains going to Belfast are bringing away carpenters, bricklayers and others.

If the Minister asks the Secretary of the Plasterers' Union he will find that a good many of the members have left for work in England. These trained craftsmen are leaving this country because they cannot find employment here. They are going to face bombs and the blitz because we have not the capacity here to organise schemes of work to employ them. The Minister told us, in face of the statement that was made about the 18 carpenters who are idle in Millstreet, that they would have no difficulty in getting jobs here.

We are told that there is going to be plenty of work available this year. We were not told that £400,000 has been cut off the Unemployment Relief Vote this year, and that the other spending Departments, which might offer employment to some of the unemployed, are reducing their Estimates by £248,000. Therefore, £648,000 less will be available for employment work this year as compared with last year. The Minister told us, of course, that tillage work will give considerable employment as if the 37,000 who have already been deprived of unemployment assistance will get employment at tillage work immediately. On 8th March this year 105,000 persons were registered as unemployed. Under the operation of the Employment Period Order, that number fell from 105,000 to 68,000, so that 37,000 less people are getting unemployment assistance. Does anyone believe that those 37,000 will get employment? Everyone knows that not even a small fraction of them will get employment in the coming months, and yet the Minister pretends to believe that they will all get employment. Let us take last year so as to get a picture of what happened. In October, 1940, 67,000 persons were registered as unemployed at the employment exchanges. There were three Employment Period Orders then current. The Orders ceased to operate at the end of October. Immediately the figure jumped from 67,000 to 104,000, showing that 37,000 people immediately came back on the register in the employment exchanges in November. Does anyone believe that if employment here was of such an automatic character that in the month of October 37,000 people would go back on the exchanges?

They were presumed to be unemployed, and automatically got their money, whether they were in fact unemployed or not.

The Minister tried to make a case about what the local authorities do. The Minister has got a main street mind on this thing. If he had any experience of local authorities throughout the country he would know what their position is. If the Minister would come down to County Kildare he would get abundant evidence at a meeting of unemployed people, with regard to what the local authorities do. They would be able to tell him that able-bodied unemployed men are not getting home assistance. In a great many cases the local boards of health do not make provision for the payment of home assistance to able-bodied men. Even in cases where they try to stretch a point, and where there is a sympathetic assistance officer, and the board is willing to grant some home assistance, then the amount given is a very miserable one indeed. It is very much less than the low rates of unemployment assistance. Their position, therefore, is this that being unable to get unemployment assistance they are forced to take a still smaller income in the form of home assistance. The work promised to those unemployed people is not there and has not been there. Notwithstanding what the Minister has said about turf and tillage it will not be there this year in the abundance that the Minister imagines.

I think the Minister made no case whatever in resisting this motion. This is supposed to be an Employment Period Order. In other words, the employment that is supposed to be available, and that is not there, is cut off. The Minister takes no cognisance of the title of his Order. There is no employment for those people. This is simply an economy order, to save money and "pass the buck" to the local authority. In my opinion it is a disgraceful Order. The Minister and the Government responsible for it are doing a great deal to create disunity, discontent, and a grave agitation in the country.

We are internationally neutral, and here we are declaring war on the women and children.

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 27: Níl, 54.

  • Bennett, George C.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Byrne, Alfred (Junior).
  • Coburn, James.
  • Cogan, Patrick.
  • Esmonde, John L.
  • Everett, James.
  • Hannigan, Joseph.
  • Hickey, James.
  • Hughes, James.
  • Hurley, Jeremiah.
  • Keating, John.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Linehan, Timothy.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Davin, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • McFadden, Michael Og
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas F.
  • Redmond, Bridget M.


  • Allen, Denis.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Dan.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Breen, Daniel.
  • Brennan, Martin.
  • Buckley, Seán.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Childers, Erskine H.
  • Cooney, Eamonn.
  • Corry, Martin J.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Fogarty, Patrick J.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hogan, Daniel.
  • Keane, John J.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael J.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick J.
  • Loughman, Francis.
  • McCann, John.
  • McDevitt, Henry A.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Morrissey, Michael.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Mullen, Thomas.
  • Munnelly, John.
  • O Brian, Donnchadh.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Loghlen, Peter J.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • O'Rourke, Daniel.
  • Rice, Brigid M.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Walsh, Laurence J.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Conn.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Keyes and Hickey; Níl: Deputies Smith and Brady.
Question declared lost.