Committee on Finance. - Vote 3—Department of the Taoiseach.

I move:—

Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £9,167 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1942, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Roinn an Taoisigh (Uimh. 16 de 1924; Uimh 40 de 1937; agus Uimh, 38 de 1938).

That a sum, not exceeding £9,167, be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending the 31st day of March, 1942, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of the Taoiseach (No. 16 of 1924; No. 40 of 1937; and No. 38 of 1938).

As Deputies are aware, a sum of £4,600 has already been granted for this service by means of the Vote on Account. The amount now asked for is required to complete the total of £13,767 which is the estimated expenditure for the current financial year. Last year's Estimate was for a total sum of £14,577, and there is thus a decrease of £810. This decrease occurs entirely in sub-head A (Salaries, etc.), and is mainly due to the fact that the duties of Director of the Government Information Bureau are now being performed by an officer on loan from the broadcasting service, whose salary is borne on the Vote for Wireless Broadcasting. The sums provided under sub-heads B, C, D and E are the same as in 1940-41.

I move that the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration. Less than two years ago the Taoiseach, acting in his capacity as head of the Government, made arrangements for certain changes in the Ministry, and I contend that the changes then made have not been justified; that the majority of the members of the Ministry have not been doing their work efficiently as heads of the various Government Departments. If an increasing number of people in this country are of the opinion that this Parliament is not doing its work efficiently, in my opinion it is because certain members of the Ministry are incompetent and unfit for their positions. It is also due to the fact that a fairly high percentage of Deputies, particularly of the Government Party, do not deem it necessary to attend this House as often as they should to discharge their duties as representatives of the people and to assist the members of the Ministry to do their work better than they have been doing it up to the present.

Speaking to his constituents recently at a meeting in Ennis, the Taoiseach said that we can agree to differ; that differences of opinion can exist between the different Parties in this House on questions of social and economic policy. On other occasions in this House and outside, the Taoiseach has invited representatives of the different Parties to consult, advise and assist the Government in the discharge of their duties, and to co-operate with the Government in every possible way, especially on the question of national defence. He has admitted this evening that co-operation in the matter of defence has been given, not alone by every Party but by every Deputy, in a whole-hearted manner. If we are to co-operate in the most effective way with the Government in doing their duty on behalf of the citizens, the representatives in this House, regardless of Party, are entitled to all the information at the disposal of the Government or Ministers who are heads of the different Departments.

On several occasions during the past few years, and particularly since the emergency arose, information has been denied to Deputies in connection with matters that would not in any way endanger the neutrality of the State. Questions have been addressed to different Ministers by Deputies on this side of the House and by Deputies of the chief Opposition Party asking for information of a purely internal nature having a direct bearing on the welfare of the community, and having nothing whatever to do with external affairs. In some cases that information has been refused on the alleged ground that it would not be in the public interest to disclose the information. In other and more recent cases, Ministers have departed from that excuse and said that it was not in the interests of economy to give the information, that it would cost too much to supply the information asked for. I make the case that, if Deputies are expected to do their duty in submitting proposals for the good government of this country and criticising the work of the Government in a constructive way, they must have at their disposal all the information which members of the Government Party have access to. I see no reason why Deputies should not be given any information which is in the possession of Ministers, and which, previous to the emergency, was normally supplied to Deputies whenever it was required.

Shortly after this Government came into office, the members sitting on this side of the House had every reason to hope from promises previously made that the plans which the Government said were in existence for the solution of the unemployment problem and other problems confronting the country at the time would be put into operation. As against that, the Ministry, shortly after their election in 1933 particularly, proceeded to set up a number of commissions and tribunals for the purpose of giving them the information and advice which we understood they had in their possession previous to their coming into office. One of the most important commissions set up by this Government, or by their predecessors, was the Banking Commission, which sat for four years. It is now four-and-a-half years since the reports of that commission were made public and circulated to Deputies, but up to the present the Minister for Finance has been unable to make a policy pronouncement arising out of them. The solution of the problem of unemployment and every other problem confronting the Government and the people of this country is bound up with the financial policy of the Government, and, after nine years of consideration, it is time the Minister for Finance was able to make a policy pronouncement, arising out of these reports. If the Minister is not able to make such a pronouncement, I am taking advantage of this opportunity to invite the head of the Government to do so. If the Minister is unable to make up his mind on the matters raised by the various reports on banking matters submitted to the Government, over four and a half years ago, I seriously suggest that he is quite an unfit person to hold the position of Minister for Finance.

Over two years ago, on 7th December, 1938, the then Minister for Industry and Commerce came to the House and invited Deputies to agree to the establishment of a transport tribunal. In doing so, he stated quite plainly and deliberately that the matters to be submitted to the tribunal were matters of urgent public importance. He stated that the transport industry was in a chaotic condition and financially bankrupt, and that the position was so serious that he expected the tribunal to bring in a report inside two months. He promised in that speech that amending legislation would have to be introduced and passed as a result of whatever report was made. Not alone has no action been taken to regularise the position of the transport industry, to put the industry on a firm financial foundation, to cut out the wastage which has been going on over a long period, but the members of the House, notwithstanding the promise made by the Minister for Finance about six weeks ago, have not yet been furnished with the report, which has been in the hands of the Minister concerned for nearly three years. How, therefore, can members of the Opposition Party, or of the Government Party, who are not given access to the reports issued by tribunals set up at the public expense, discharge their duties as Deputies in an efficient manner or submit constructive proposals for the consideration of Ministers?

Several years ago, the then Minister for Finance set up a Drainage Commission. That body sat for a couple of years and submitted their report to the Minister in October last. The report was circulated during the past few weeks, but we have not yet heard what the Government proposes to do arising out of the recommendations of that very important commission. The solution of the greatest problem confronting this country, unemployment, is bound up very definitely with Government policy arising out of the reports of the Banking Commission and, to a great extent, a large number of persons at present on the unemployment register can be found employment, if a progressive policy is announced in connection with the difficulties associated with the solution of the transport, drainage and other problems. If the transport industry is to be modernised, is to be put on a sound financial foundation, is to do its duty towards the citizens of this State, I say that a large number of our unemployed can be found useful employment in the carrying out of that process. The same can be said to a far greater extent— and I am sure the Taoiseach will agree —of drainage, and very large numbers of our unemployed can be put at useful and necessary work, if the recommendations of the Drainage Commission are put into operation.

It is impossible for Deputies who are desirous of doing their work as efficiently as they can to comply with the wishes of the Taoiseach and his colleagues unless they get the information which the representatives of the people are entitled to get and unless they have access to the reports of the different commissions and tribunals set up by vote of the House. I could refer to a number of other commissions, the reports of which have been circulated in recent times, but on which no action of any kind has so far been taken. If the Government, in setting up these commissions, were desirous merely of getting a certain number of people to continue talking, while the Government are not even thinking—in other words, if it is their desire that time should be wasted and the taxpayers' money squandered—it is all right, but I take it that that is not their desire or their wish. If that is so, I think the reports of any tribunals not circulated so far should be furnished without further delay, and an early announcement made by the Government as to what they intend to do arising out of them.

In November of last year Deputies of this Party tabled a motion asking the Government to set up a commission to submit proposals for the solution of the unemployment problem, and it was so worded as to request the commission to furnish its report inside six months. The Government at the time tabled an amendment to the motion, which was passed, agreeing to the establishment of a commission for the purpose of dealing with the unemployment problem, but not stipulating, as did the Labour motion, that the report should be issued inside six months. To-day I addressed a question to the Minister for Industry and Commerce as follows:—

"To ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether it is intended to give effect to the decision of Dáil Eireann expressed in a resolution adopted by the House on December 12th, 1940, that the Government should appoint a commission to inquire into and report upon the extent, cause and incidence of unemployment, and, if so, whether he will state the cause of the delay in doing so and the steps in contemplation now for the purpose of implementing the decision in question."

I was amazed to receive this reply from the Minister:—

"The terms of reference of this commission are in course of preparation and it is hoped that the commission will be duly appointed in the near future."

That is how the House was hoodwinked.

The terms of reference of a commission which the Government agreed to set up on December 12th of last year are still in course of preparation and not yet agreed upon, and, so far as I know, nobody has been invited to act upon the proposed commission. If it takes the Minister for Industry and Commerce seven months to consider and prepare—he had to admit to-day that he has not yet completed the preparation—the terms of reference for an unemployment commission which the Government last December agreed to set up, then the Minister, for that reason alone, is unfit to hold his position, and some other person should be found by the Taoiseach who will, in an important matter of this kind, do the work more expeditiously than the Minister, who is apparently unwilling or unable to do it.

The Taoiseach has repeatedly appealed to Deputies to co-operate with the Government in the solution of the very difficult problems that are confronting the country, but it appears to me, from my limited knowledge, some of it inside knowledge, of dealings with the present Minister, that that co-operation is always asked and expected on the condition that you will allow the Government to do what they please, or to do nothing at all if they so wish. There is no plan before this country for dealing with the issues arising out of the emergency; there is no plan for the critical position which we all know will confront the citizens during the coming winter. Notwithstanding the position that exists, we are told by the Minister for Industry and Commerce that he is not able to prepare or get approval for the terms of reference of the unemployment commission.

During the past year or two many questions have been asked in connection with matters arising in the country. Every Deputy who has been actively doing his duty has had the experience of sending communications to Government Departments, particularly to the Board of Works, for the purpose of getting sanction for small grants for the making of bog roads and the carrying out of very necessary works of public utility. I have repeatedly received communications from the Board of Works stating that, although these undertakings are regarded as essential, the necessary money to carry them out was not available. I have in mind minor relief schemes in the rural portions of the country.

We were informed by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance during the Budget discussion that £500,000 had been returned to the Exchequer because suitable schemes could not be found upon which to spend it. Is there any Deputy who has not submitted minor relief schemes, such as bog road repair work and bog drainage schemes, only to find them turned down? Now, when there is a fuel drive, it is suggested that the requisite number of men cannot be found to repair bog roads in order to get out the fuel that will be so urgently required during the winter.

We are sometimes told that there is no difficulty in getting money for schemes of a useful nature upon which numbers of men can be employed. I know from personal experience that there is no difficulty in getting money to buy guns, bombs, and bayonets, and the other articles and implements of destruction which make up our defence machine. The Taoiseach sees to it, and I suppose it is part of his duty, that whatever amount is required, be it thousands or millions of pounds, it will be found by the bankers and the moneylenders for the building up of our defence services. But, when it comes to getting a small grant for a minor relief scheme, you can carry on correspondence for a long period, and eventually get the reply that there is only so much money available for each county, and that that sum has already been exceeded, although it is admitted by the Department that these minor works are necessary and would give useful employment.

The most serious thing that confronts us is unemployment, due largely to the failure of certain Ministers to do their duty since the emergency arose. This evening we had a statement from the Taoiseach in connection with the position which has arisen as a result of the cutting off of the supply of raw materials. Is the Taoiseach aware that close on 2,000 industrial concerns failed to get the necessary supply of raw materials during the past year because they had not financial backing either from the banks or State guarantees to enable them to do so? I have been allowed to read correspondence between the representatives of a very big industrial federation and the Minister for Supplies and the Minister for Industry and Commerce. In one communication addressed to the Minister for Supplies within the last 12 months, a request was made for the reception of a deputation in order to enable representatives of the industrialists to satisfy the Minister that they were not in a position to get the necessary raw materials without backing from the banks or State guarantees.

I remember listening to a discussion in the House in September, 1939, when the Emergency Powers Bill was being debated, and Deputies were certainly left under the impression that every possible assistance would be given to industrialists to enable them to secure a reasonable supply of raw materials or get sufficient supplies to carry them on over the period of the emergency. Does the Taoiseach know that close on 200 industrial concerns failed to get raw materials because of the lack of financial backing by the banks or State guarantees, backing which has been given by Governments of every country under similar circumstances? I had a discussion recently with representatives of industrial concerns in my own constituency arising out of short-time working and the reduction of persons employed in at least two concerns. One of the concerns in normal times was giving employment to 630 persons. They failed to get the necessary supply of raw materials, and less than half the number of workers who would normally be employed are now obliged to work every second week.

Economic self-sufficiency for ever.

This particular concern was in a position at a certain period to get supplies of wool tops, the raw materials which are required for these industrial concerns, if it could get State assistance or the necessary facilities from its own bankers. I am informed, and I invite the Taoiseach to contradict my statement if he can do so, that the woollen and worsted people in this country could have got a surplus of 1,000,000 wool tops in the year 1940 if they had been able to get the necessary financial facilities to enable them to buy and pay for them. I understand that the allocation for all these industrial concerns for the current year is only 885,000 wool tops, while a surplus of 1,000,000 wool tops was left on the hands of the British Wool Control Board last year. To-day between 2,000 and 3,000 workers in the woollen and worsted industry in this country are either out of employment altogether, or are only working part time, as a result of the failure of the Minister for Supplies and of the Minister for Industry and Commerce to do their job, and as a result of the failure of the Government to give these industrial concerns the necessary financial assistance which they should have been given in the period of the emergency.

An announcement appears in to-day's newspapers from the principal transport concern in the country to the effect that, as it is impossible for it to get the necessary coal supplies, it will be obliged to cut down passenger train services almost immediately, and in the near future services which are much more essential in so far as transport is concerned. Will the Taoiseach say whether any representations have been made by this concern—the Great Southern Railways Company—for financial facilities to enable it to purchase sufficient supplies of coal to carry it over the emergency period, and if so whether these facilities were refused? I am not in a position to state definitely that such an application was made, but whether it was or not, it is evident to those who know the directors of that company that four out of seven are also directors of some of our principal Irish banks. It would be an amazing thing if the majority of the directors of the railway company, who are also directors of the Bank of Ireland mainly, and of other banking concerns, could not arrange the necessary financial facilities for our principal transport company of which, as I have said, they are also directors, to enable it to buy a reasonable supply of coal to carry it over the emergency. If they were not able to do that, then I take it their duty was to make the position on that matter known to the Government.

I am very anxious to know from the Taoiseach if an application for such financial facilities was made by the Great Southern Railways Company during the past 12 months, and if so whether it was refused. It strikes me, speaking with some limited knowledge of the operating side of the railways of this country, as being rather peculiar if the principal transport company in the Twenty-Six Counties could not get a reasonable supply of coal to carry it over the present period, while the Great Northern Railway Company could have a ten times greater supply in its possession at the present time than the Great Southern Company has. I wonder how the Great Northern were able to make arrangements to get a 22- or a 23-weeks' supply while the Great Southern has only a two or at most a three weeks' supply to enable it to carry on essential transport services in this country. There must be something radically wrong behind the scenes. Otherwise, we would not have our principal transport company making the announcement, which we all read in the papers this morning. I take it that it was made with the approval of the Department of Industry and Commerce and of the Department of Supplies. Would the Taoiseach tell us how he thinks the fuel which will be required by the citizens of Dublin during the coming winter is going to be got here if our principal transport concern is to be paralysed because of the shortage of coal?

When the Transport Bill of 1933 was going through the Dáil, we on this side advocated, as an alternative to the policy of the Government enshrined in that Bill, a policy of State ownership or of public ownership, a policy which had been previously advocated by the present Minister for Supplies when sitting on the Opposition Benches. As a last resort, we advocated that the Government should have a nominee on the Board of the Great Southern Railways Company. It is not yet too late for the Government to take that step. It would enable the Government to be more fully informed than I understand they are, in regard to the inner working of this concern. I cannot recall the name of any other country in the world to-day where the principal transport concerns are not State owned or State controlled.

The United States of America.

I suggest to Deputy Dillon that they are pretty well under control there. I see nothing wrong in the Government, in present circumstances, having direct representation on the board of that concern, especially when we are confronted with the terribly serious, if not impossible, problem of providing the necessary fuel supplies not only for the citizens of this city, but for those in every other city and town in the country during the coming winter. In my opinion, if all the registered lorries were in possession of a full petrol supply, if all our canal boats were in use, and if every railway wagon were put into full effective use, we would hardly be able to do the job of transporting all the fuel that will be required for our people in the cities and towns of the country during the next four months. I think that this matter of the Minister for Industry and Commerce writing a letter to the manager of the Great Southern Railways asking him for certain information as to what the company propose to do in relation to certain matters in the present situation is a pure waste of time. The way in which contact between the Government and the principal transport concern in the country should be maintained is, in my opinion, by having a nominee of the Government on the board of that concern. Personally I do not believe in that kind of control in the case of public transport companies. I believe in the policy of public ownership advocated by the Minister for Supplies many years ago, a policy which the Government have, so far, failed to put into operation.

Does the Taoiseach know how the petrol supplies available are going to be allotted during the next few months? What percentage of the supply available during the next three or four months will be given to commercial lorries to transport fuel and do other transport business? How much of the supply will be allocated to commercial lorries and private car-owners? I am of the opinion that all the available supply of petrol should, as far as possible, be given to the commercial lorry owners—that is, if the transporting of fuel and other essential commodities is to be done in the way the Government think it should be done. I think that certain classes of private car owners are getting too much.

They are not getting too much, only about four gallons a month.

I was present at a conference in my constituency on Sunday last—I cannot prove what was stated there, of course—and I was informed that at a recent function in a certain golf club 120 motor cars were seen outside the club premises. I am not prepared to support the Government in allocating petrol to private car owners to be used for pleasure purposes, while commercial lorry owners are badly in need of petrol to enable them to do their work for the community. I know that certain private car owners must have petrol, such as medical men and so on, to enable them to carry out their duties.

What about the garage owners?

If the commercial lorry owners get the necessary quantity of petrol they will help the garage owners to maintain their business.

What will happen to the garage owners if you put all the private cars off the road?

I will not engage in a wordy warfare with Deputy Dillon; I presume he will express his point of view before this discussion ends. The petrol which is available should be given, as far as possible, to those who are engaged in essential services. I am not opposed—I do not want it to be taken for granted that I am—to the allocation of petrol to private car owners if the petrol is available, but essential services must get first consideration. I wonder can the Taoiseach give us any information as to the number of commercial lorries registered for every kind of work at the present time? If he has not that information at his disposal at the moment—it is very essential information for some Minister to have at his hand—I will take another opportunity of getting that information by means of Parliamentary question and answer. I should also like to know from the Taoiseach, on this question of transport, whether any of the Ministers concerned, or himself in particular, has had any consultations with the transport and carrying companies in the country in regard to the distribution or transport of turf from the bogs to the areas where turf is required?

I think it is desirable that he or the responsible Minister should know as soon as possible what percentage of the turf required to be taken from our bogs to our cities and towns will be carried by rail, road and canal. I should like to know whether there is any detailed plan in the possession of the Government, submitted by the carrying companies concerned, indicating what percentage of the fuel requirements will be carried by the several methods into the cities and towns before the winter comes along. If that matter has not been given consideration up to the present time, it is very desirable that it should be given immediate consideration, and that the carrying companies concerned should be requested to indicate what they are prepared to do in that respect.

With regard to the general question of supplies—the supplies which our people are sending out of this country to Great Britain, and the supplies which we are getting in such small quantities from Great Britain—I should like to ask the Taoiseach whether any representations have been made to the British Government, or whether he is prepared to agree that our responsible Ministers here should get into immediate personal contact with the appropriate British Ministers, in regard to the exchange of commodities. The Taoiseach must be aware that large quantities of fresh meat, fat cattle, bacon, eggs, butter, porter, whiskey and other commodities of that kind, are being sent out of this country to Great Britain up to the present time, whereas the people of this country are suffering from a shortage of tea, petrol, coal and the raw materials which are necessary to carry on our industrial concerns and keep our industrial workers in employment. I think there can be no loss of dignity on the part of the Government of this country in sending over the Minister for Agriculture, the Minister for Supplies, or the Minister for Industry and Commerce, if the Taoiseach himself is not willing or able to go, and asking the British Government whether they are prepared to discuss on its merits the question of exchanging our fresh meat, fat cattle, bacon, eggs, butter, porter, whiskey and other commodities, for a reasonable supply of tea, petrol, coal, and the raw materials necessary for the carrying on of our industries.

Suppose they say "No"?

I am prepared to say that they should go even though there is no response from the other side. I think it is a business way of doing things. It is surely a sound basis upon which to make a good business bargain. It is fairly well known that the British Government or the British authorities, whoever they are, have a fairly long-period supply of tea in their possesion. I have heard it stated, although I do not speak with any great authority on this matter, that there is a seven years' supply of tea in Great Britain under the present rationing scheme in existence there. They have large quantities of petrol; at any rate, they have the power to control the diversion of whatever surplus petrol they may have to this country, if they are willing to do so. They have in their possession certain raw materials which they are not using for their own purposes, and I am sure a good business bargain could be made by good Ministers on the lines which I have suggested. At any rate, there can be no loss of dignity on the part of the Government here in making such a proposition, and sending their Ministers over, if they have not already agreed to do so. I want to say quite definitely—I have personal knowledge of it—that for a long period British agents acting for big concerns in Great Britain, and agents of the British Ministry of Food, have been here in this city and have proceeded all over the country trying to get every bit of food they could possibly pick up for the use of their own people. If they are badly in need of our food and commodities of the kind I have mentioned, and if we are badly in need of what they can give us, I think we can make a good business bargain on that basis, without interfering in any way with our relations with Great Britain on other matters.

In previous discussions, the members of this Party have already raised the question of the failure of the Government to set up any effective machinery for the control of prices of essential commodities. Cases have been cited here in this House where tea has been sold, freely and openly sold, at 5d. or 6d. an ounce, without the purchasers being called upon to produce ration cards in some cases. Petrol has been sold at prices ranging from 5/- to 10/- per gallon. White flour has been sold here publicly in Moore Street, and advertised for sale in the windows of several shops in the city, at 7d. a lb. Coal is being sold at excessive prices. Turf is being sold at excessive prices. Vegetables produced here convenient to our own city are being sold at outrageously high prices.

No effective machinery appears to be in existence up to the present for the purpose of dealing with people who are charging excessive prices to the community. I do not want to go over ground which has been already covered in connection with this matter, but I invite the Taoiseach as the head of the Government to say whether it is the intention of the Government to set up effective machinery to control the prices of essential commodities, and to punish in a proper way through our courts the people who are found guilty of charging excessive prices. I do not see why there should be one law for the farmer, the producer of our food, who gets a fixed price— though not in all cases—for what he produces, while there is a different law altogether for the person who sells the produce of the farmer at excessive prices in the cities and towns. I have quoted a case here in this House, and I can prove it, where certain distributors in the city picked up turf at Kingsbridge Station and Grand Canal Harbour, and got 22/6 for themselves for picking up that turf out of a canal boat or a railway wagon and handing it over to the person to whom they sold it, whereas that turf was sold on the bog at 15/9 a ton; in no case, as far as I know, did the price exceed 17/6 a ton. I think there is something radically wrong with the system which allows that, and I hope the Taoiseach or the responsible Minister will set up effective machinery for the purpose of dealing with profiteering without any further delay. Most of the trouble which arises as a direct result of the bringing into operation of Emergency Powers Order No. 83 is because of the fact that the workers of this country are being compelled to live on low wages at the same time as prices are soaring. The failure of the Government to deal with the question of profiteering from that angle is, in my opinion, going to provoke considerable trouble for the Government in the coming months.

I was amazed to hear the Taoiseach attempting here this evening to justify the many orders which have been issued under the Emergency Powers Act by saying that, in his opinion, it was necessary to take swift action. I do not think that anybody sitting on this side of the House, or any of his own Deputies who sit so silently behind him, can accept the plea that swift action was the justification for bringing Order No. 83 into operation and for relating it to any of the Financial Resolutions that have been passed in connection with our Budget Resolution. The swift way in which this Emergency Powers Order was brought into operation, without any previous consultation of any kind with people who might be able to tender good advice, has been the cause of a great deal of the trouble that has arisen since that very drastic order was brought in by the Minister for Finance under cover of his Budget Resolution.

The order has been amended on two occasions since it was brought into existence, and that in itself shows that the contents of the order must not have been given any careful consideration by the responsible Minister. It was amended, in the first instance, for the purpose of allowing certain employers who had made agreements with their workers, or with the representatives of their workers, between 7th May and 6th June, to legalise these agreements and to enable the employers concerned to pay the increased wages that had been agreed to between the dates mentioned. It was amended in the second case so as to allow the low-wage employers in this city to increase the rates of wages to any workers who are employed in this city under a wage of £2 10s. 0d. a week. That second amendment of the order was made on the night that a vote on the order was taken here in the House, and it was announced in the papers the following morning. I notice, from looking up the order, that it was signed by the Taoiseach on 13th June, and a striking instance of how the wireless is used for propaganda purposes is that an announcement was made on the wireless, giving particulars of the amendment to the order, on 21st June, eight days after the Taoiseach signed it. Of course, we all know why it was announced over the wireless on that particular night. It was the night before the College Green protest meeting against the issue of this order, and the details of the order and the amendment were announced on the wireless at 10 o'clock—I was listening to it—on Saturday night, 21st June, eight days after it was signed by the Taoiseach. It was announced then for the sole purpose, I suggest, of confusing the minds of the workers of Dublin on the issue with which the meeting at College Green was concerned, and which they would be attending on the following Sunday morning. Of course, we shall be told that that was not Government propaganda. We know, of course, that the Minister for Industry and Commerce has not been able to explain anything that he has done, either in regard to this matter or the Trade Union Bill, for the last three or four weeks.

A Deputy

Invite him to Carlow.

I told the Minister that he would be welcomed down there if he would confine his speech to the contents of the Emergency Powers Order, the Trade Union Bill, or any other Parliamentary measure, and cut out the dirty personal abuse that he was guilty of using on the last occasion.

Is the Deputy referring to the Taoiseach?

No, Sir.

I understood that the Taoiseach's Vote was under discussion.

I was not referring to the Taoiseach, but to the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

The Estimates are so divided that all the details of administration may be discussed on the Vote for each Department. The Chair does not subscribe to the theory that everything done by any Minister may be raised on the Taoiseach's Vote. Deputies may not recapitulate the whole discussion of the Estimates on this Vote. The Deputy should address himself to the Taoiseach's Vote. A motion on the standstill order was recently disposed of. It has been discussed, incidentally, on the Trade Union Bill, and again at some length on the Emergency Powers (Continuance) Bill. The Deputy has said enough, relevantly, or irrelevantly, about it on this Vote.

If you were here, Sir, when I opened the discussion on this Vote——

You would have been astonished.

——you would have seen that I was endeavouring to make a case for the removal of certain Ministers on account of their incompetence, and I was citing these cases to prove, if I can do so, that the Minister for Industry and Commerce is an unfit person to occupy that Ministry and, in my opinion, the Taoiseach should take the earliest possible opportunity to remove him from that office and put in a person who would be more suitable temperamentally and otherwise for the position.

Ministers may be impeached by express motion, not casually or incidentally.

I understood that the Taoiseach was personally responsible for the selection of a Minister, and I am sure that if satisfactory evidence can be produced as a result of this discussion, to prove to the satisfaction of the Taoiseach that Ministers are incompetent, he will, in the interests of this State, remove them from office. I think that the fact that the Minister for Industry and Commerce, more than any other Minister, is responsible for the introduction, at this particular period, of such contentious measures as the Trade Union Bill and the Emergency Powers Order——

Of which we have heard for some weeks past.

—— coupled with his general conduct during the discussion of these measures in this House, proves that he is temperamentally unfit for his job.

I think he is a gentleman of the old school, and is too polite.

If I can succeed in getting Deputy Tom Kelly to his feet to say what he thinks about this matter, I think I will have done my job at any rate.

You have not done your job. You are not fit to do it.

It is about 25 years ago since I first heard Deputy Tom Kelly.

I have been listening to the Deputy for some time now, and he has not dealt with the Vote at issue.

I have not heard Deputy Tom Kelly very often since he came into this House about ten years ago. There is one other matter concerning another Ministry that I should like to bring under the Taoiseach's notice, and that is the unwarranted and uncalled for delay by the Department of Defence in disposing, within a reasonable time, of applications that have been made for payment of military service pensions.

That is obviously a detailed matter.

I am not going into details.

Well, if specific cases are not matters of detail, I do not know the meaning of the word.

I do not propose to go into details in any way, or to challenge your ruling, Sir, in any way, on that matter; but if the present Minister for Defence——

The best proof of not challenging a ruling is not to offend further.

On a point of order, Sir, just to clarify the position. Is Deputy Davin not entitled to call the attention of the House, and particularly the attention of the Taoiseach, whose Department is now under review, to the fact that certain Ministers are not performing their duties satisfactorily, and that, in consequence of that, a great deal of urgent work which ought to have attention is, in fact, not being attended to? Is not that a legitimate criticism to make on the Estimate of the Taoiseach without going into the mass of details associated with the ordinary routine of Departmental work?

The submission of the Leader of the Labour Party has substance in it; I would draw the attention of Deputy Davin to the qualifying words.

According to the information supplied to me in this House some short time ago, the Minister for Defence admitted that approximately £150,000 of the taxpayers' money had been spent on the administration of the Military Service Pensions Act of 1934.

Although applications were under consideration, and revision in the case of appeals, for a period of six years, there are still a large number of cases outstanding, even those of men whose claims were dealt with by the board as far back as 1936, 1937 and 1938. Can the Taoiseach give any good reason why claims for military service pensions which were heard as far back as 1936, 1937 and 1938, should be still awaiting decision by the responsible officials concerned? I object on the Vote for the Department of the Taoiseach to any further money being spent in connection with the administration of this measure, because, if the work was done in an efficient way, and if there was any desire on the part of the responsible Minister to complete the inquiries inside a reasonable period, it would not be necessary to spend further money in connection with the administration of that measure during the coming year.

This is the Vote for the Department of the Taoiseach.

I have failed, as a result of repeated representations to the Minister for Defence and his predecessor, to get any satisfaction on this matter, and therefore I am taking advantage of this opportunity to bring under the notice of the Taoiseach the incompetence of the present Minister and his predecessor to carry out their duties in an efficient manner. If the Minister cannot do his duty in an efficient and satisfactory manner, and with less expense to the taxpayers, then there is a clear case for the removal of the present Minister and for putting somebody more active and efficient in his place.

I am sure the Taoiseach will admit that the members of this Party and the workers of this country have, generally speaking, given every co-operation that was necessary since the emergency arose in this country; that no strikes of any importance have taken place since the Defence Conference was established. I should like the Taoiseach to say "yes" or "no" to that question. If he is of opinion or has been advised that there has been any serious industrial trouble caused in this country since the emergency arose or since the Defence Conference was established, I would be surprised to hear that that was the case. I am not aware of any strike having taken place in any big industrial concern.

In conclusion I want to say that if the Taoiseach agrees that that is the case, the introduction at this particular period of a provocative order like the Emergency Powers (No. 83) Order, which, properly christened, should be called the starvation order, and the Trade Union Bill which nobody is looking for is not going to help——

Legislation under way may not be referred to as the Deputy should know.

—— is not going to help to maintain the unity that is so desirable in existing circumstances.

I formally second the motion and reserve my right to speak later.

I do not intend to follow Deputy Davin, although some of his discursive observations are justified by the reputation that the Taoiseach has acquired for himself of being the Pooh Bah of this country. The general impression is that, if you want anything done by a Minister, the best thing you can do is to go to the Taoiseach, because going to the other fellows produces no result as they are afraid to do anything without the Taoiseach's previous approval, for fear he will chew the ear off them for having put their foot wrong. Everybody knows that. Pooh Bah was a stout gentleman who occupied every office in Japan except that of Lord High Executioner. Deputy Davin has been wandering about trying to get things done. Now he has got the Pooh Bah before him and he is trusting that something will happen. It is interesting to see Pooh Bah functioning.

If the Deputy refers to the Taoiseach he must so style him?

I am not referring to the Taoiseach directly. I am drawing an analogy from an opera of Gilbert and Sullivan known as the Mikado. I want to direct the attention of the House to a rather strange development of the Taoiseach's encyclopædic interests. We passed an Act through this House about a year ago called the Institute of Advanced Studies Act. There was a good deal of controversy at the time as to the desirability of passing the Act at all. I took the view very strongly that it ought to be passed. I supported it strongly on account of the Institute of Advanced Studies which was to be primarily concerned with the Irish language.

There is a difference of opinion in the House as to many details of the scheme, but there was unanimity on one proviso, and that was that the independence of the institute was to be as complete as legislation could make it, albeit its endowments were derived from Government funds. All sides of the House said, "If you establish the institute, do not let us have civil servants interfering in it. We have to take the risk that if a suitable council is set up it will employ whatever moneys are available to it to the best possible advantage." Many, I think, were won over to the proposition of a State-endowed Institute of Advanced Studies on that representation, and so that institute was established.

Now mark the sequence of events. The Taoiseach himself chose the council of the institute, consisting of eight gentlemen, and he chose the most distinguished scholars he could find in the country, into whose care he proposed to commit the affairs of the Institute for Celtic Learning, and they proceeded to get on with their job. There were, shall we say, three Regius professors and there was a council. Now, with the passage of time, it appeared to the council expedient to appoint a junior member of the institute. I should like to say at this stage that I think it would be becoming and right that we should leave out of our discussion altogether the personal merits of that appointee, because I think they are quite irrelevant to the matter I propose to raise. The council, by a majority of seven members to one, decided that it was expedient in all the circumstances to appoint this junior member of the staff. The possibility of seconding him from his present occupation to the institute was considered and rejected by the council, and it was decided to offer this young man a junior permament position on the staff of the institute.

That decision being given by a majority of seven to one, the young man very naturally thought he was appointed. The Minister for Education was consulted, and, I think, concurred. But they forgot that in this country we had a Pooh-Bah. The Taoiseach intervened at this stage and said: "No, you cannot appoint him; I will not allow you to appoint him." Remember, eight members of this council were men of his own appointing. Eight members of this council took office on the understanding that their autonomous discretion was to be interfered with as little as it was humanly possible to do so. The eight members concerned were eight of the highest authorities on education in Celtic studies the Taoiseach could find in the whole of Ireland.

The appointee was to be appointed to a particular branch of Celtic studies, of which this body of eight men were peculiarly well fitted to judge; but seven of these men having voted for his appointment and one against, the Taoiseach takes it upon himself to overrule the decision of the council he himself chose, because, he said, they were the best fitted in all Ireland to run this institute, and to declare, by implication, that these men did not know their job, but that he, Eamon de Valera, did know what they ought to do, and that he would cancel that which they attempted to do, and usurp for himself the functions which this House clearly intended he should delegate to the members of that council.

It is noteworthy that seven members of the council voted for the proposition and one against, and that the one against is a distinguished scholar, but the Taoiseach himself is on record as saying that the views expressed to the Taoiseach by that dissenting scholar carried no weight and did not influence his judgment at all, that he, the Taoiseach, had made up his mind to veto the decision of the council before he ever heard that this individual member had dissented from the majority decision. The net issue is this: is the Institute of Advanced Studies going to be run by the Taoiseach, or by the council established for that purpose? So far, the result of the intervention of the Taoiseach has been that two of the most distinguished members of the council, one of whom is one of the Regius Professors, have resigned, and the institute is now denied the services of Professor Osborn Bergin who, in his own sphere, I understand, is probably the greatest scholar in the world. I think it reflects little credit on this country that, within 12 months of the institution of the foundation, it should burst up as a result of the wholly unnecessary intervention of the Taoiseach in a matter of minor administrative detail.

Does the Taoiseach claim the right himself to appoint every minor member of the staff of the Institute of Advanced Studies in all its branches? Because if he does, I suggest that such a claim is daft? He is not fitted to do it; he has not the qualifications to do it, and he ought not to labour under the delusion that he has. Let us be frank and plain about this. We are dealing here with what is meant to be the highest institute of learning in the country. I am an intelligent grocer and the Taoiseach an intelligent secondary teacher. He and I cannot sit down together and declare that in matters of this kind we have superior knowledge to Professor Schroedinger, Professor Osborn Bergin, Professor Alfred O'Rahilly, Dr. Best and the other members of the council of that institute. All we can say as public men is that we can assess the worth of these distinguished scholars, that we can commit to their care the carrying on of an institute of this kind, and that whatever they decide to do in the best interests of the institute, we will facilitate them in doing. That is what I understood this House wished the Government to do—to choose the very best men, to hand over the Institute of Higher Studies to these men and to say: "Now, in respect of anything you want to do to promote higher learning in this country, within the limits of our capacity to pay, we shall do our best to help you."

What is happening is that the Taoiseach chooses to brush all that aside and to say: "I know more than Professor Schroedinger in his branch; I know more than Professor Bergin in his branch; I know more than Professor O'Rahilly in his branch; I know more than Dr. Best in his branch; and, as for the minor members of the council, I know infinitely more than they, including the Chairman, Dr. Browne of Maynooth, and when I do not agree with the seven members of the council, Eamon de Valera's view prevails, and the view of the seven members of the Council must go down." If that continues, I tell the House that the Institute of Advanced Studies will very rapidly become a by-word and a repository of second-class scholars who are prepared to prostitute themselves to political canvass in order to get soft jobs, because independent scholars are concerned solely with the pursuit of truth, are not going to stoop to the task of conciliating the Civil Service and political Governments in order to get positions in the Institute of Advanced Studies, when almost all of them would be welcomed by continental and American universities without any canvassing at all.

This House ought to make up its mind as to what it wants done. Does it want the Taoiseach to run this institute, or does it want the council to run it? If it wants the Taoiseach to run it,in nomine Domini, close the place up, because it will become a disgusting by-word, another repository of crocks. Every old cod whom the Gaelic League are sick of looking at will be dumped on the institute in a soft job. If you want the council to run it, then let it be left to the council, but let us make up our minds which we are going to do. I am in favour of leaving the administration of the affairs of the institute to the council—and it was a good council. I will give that to the Taoiseach. When he chose the council, he chose it extremely well, and, if he had not fallen into the egregious error of poking his nose where he was not wanted, this experiment had a good start and might have done very well. Is it too late to ask him now: will you take your nose—

Is it too late to ask that the Deputy, before he makes a lot of statements, should make sure of his facts?

I am as sure of my facts——

The Deputy is always sure. It is a complete misrepresentation of the position.

Of course.

Of course it is.

But the effect of it is that Dr. Bergin is gone, and Dr. Binchy is gone.

That is true.

Are they labouring under a misapprehension?

I expect I shall not have time to answer this debate, and I want simply to say here that what the Deputy has said is a complete misrepresentation of the facts.

Were they under a misapprehension?

I am not going to answer the Deputy further. I want to put it on record here——

In fact, you want to make a disorderly interruption. The Taoiseach must behave himself. Either he holds his tongue, or he tells the whole story. Let him not try to interrupt me, for I will not allow him to do it. He will submit to the same rules of order as the humblest member of the House when I am on my feet.

And you will do it. Either get up and tell the story now, or keep quiet, but do not be trying to poke your nose in and to prevent the tale being told as the House is entitled to hear it.

To prevent untruths going out.

This House will hear the tale told. If the Taoiseach asks me to give way to enable him to give his version, I shall do so——

I will not.

——but he will not interrupt me for the purpose of misrepresenting the facts as they are. I am going to give my version to the Deputies now, and I know——

I have first-hand knowledge, and the Deputy has not.

No attempt to shout me down will prevent me from doing so. I invite the Taoiseach to keep quiet until I am finished, and then he can talk as much as he likes. The facts are as I have reproduced them for the House, and I want the House to instruct the Taoiseach definitely in its wish. The choice is clear. Either the Council of the Institute of Advanced Studies is going to run the institute or the Taoiseach is going to run it. I stand for the council, chosen by the Government of this State, running the Institute of Advanced Studies. I believe that if they are allowed to run it, that institute can ultimately become a worthy addition to the educational system of this country, and, not only that, but a powerful instrument of higher learning and research, which may be of service not only to Ireland but to the world.

If the Taoiseach runs it, it is going to become the repository of every political hack who wants a soft job and who is prepared to prostitute himself in order to get it. That is the choice, and as certain as we are in this House, we are at the cross-roads, because once that institute begins to go down and to acquire a reputation as a repository of crocks, no decent scholar will seek admission to it. I want to keep the reputation of that institute high. I want to ensure what we all intended originally—appointment to it constituting a high reward for distinguished academic work in the sphere of learning. I say that if the Taoiseach pursues his present course that will not be achieved, and I urge the House to make it perfectly manifest to him now that he has to take his nose out of affairs that should not concern him, leave to those who are capable of handling those matters their control, and turn his own mind to the political matters with which he is peculiarly well fitted to fiddle. That is all I wish to say about the Institute of Advanced Studies. I hope the Taoiseach will approach the problem in a chastened frame of mind and demonstrate that if he has made a very grave error, it is not too late to mend his hand.

Deputy Davin spoke at some length of the Government's failure to fall in with the recommendations of the Banking Commission. The world has changed considerably since the Banking Commission presented its report, and while it is true that many of the recommendations would be appropriate and even desirable for times of peace, it is equally true that in time of war and emergency those recommendations may not be very profitably implemented. It is true that during the Siege of Derry it was good public practice to put the population on a diet of rats when there was nothing else for the population to eat, but few would suggest in the piping times of peace that because rats were welcome in a time of siege, the whole country should continue to eat rats when the siege was over.

This country is in a state of siege, as is almost every other country in the world. We may be obliged to do things now for the preservation of our existence which, in peace time, would be regarded as cracked and foolish. In these circumstances I suggest that we should reserve the full consideration of the Banking Commission's report until the period of the emergency has passed. It was conceived in peace time; it was for a time of peace that its recommendations were designed. In times such as these the recommendations have little application.

Who will decide the whole thing after the emergency— Comrade Stalin, the new ally?

If the Deputy were being pursued by a man-eating tiger, and a panther attacked the tiger, would the Deputy shoot the panther?

You are in queer company now.

I want to ask the Taoiseach who is going to feed the population this winter? I like democratic institutions; I like parliamentary debates; I think it is the decent way to carry on the affairs of men; but it carries with it the temptation to content ourselves by talking and getting nothing done. The Taoiseach has said in public, and his Ministers also have said, that they foresee a situation this winter in which the public may be hungry unless our people put their shoulders to the wheel to overcome the emergency. What plan has he in mind to meet that? He has gone past the stage when he says there may be a danger coming. He says now that there is a danger, that the danger is there. I submit that the moment he sees a danger of that character in existence he is perfectly entitled forthwith to make plans on the assumption that the danger is upon us.

It may be, after he has gone to considerable expense and made comprehensive plans and inconvenienced considerable numbers of people, that something untoward may turn up which will make the whole thing unnecessary and the acute danger may never develop. I do not believe that anyone in this country will complain or charge him with intolerable extravagance should such a state of affairs come about. I think that the unwanted precautions should be regarded as a monument to his prudence. We would be all glad if events so turned out that these precautions which had been taken were, in fact, not required. There would be the feeling of security that, should disaster fall upon us, we had the means to deal with it, and there would not be any danger of anarchy or public upheaval resulting from the failure of the people in this Parliament to do their duty in time.

I do not believe that anyone in rural Ireland is going to be starved. I do not believe it is possible, in any circumstances, for the rural population to starve—and I know the circumstances of rural Ireland very well. There may be very grave inconveniences if paraffin is not provided for the kitchen lamps, or if candles are not available, but I do not expect the Taoiseach to deal in detail with matters of that kind. Paraffin for the kitchen lamp is vital to the morale of the rural population, but outside that, I do not believe there is going to be any vital supply problem in rural Ireland. There may be great inconvenience and annoyance, but no one is going to go hungry or naked in rural Ireland.

But, in the cities, we are going to find ourselves confronted with this problem, that even if we can muster the food, albeit not food to which the city populations are accustomed, we may find ourselves in a situation in which they will have the food and not be able to cook it. You cannot eat raw flour, raw meat or raw potatoes. I do not think the coal problem is one for which this Government can be made primarily responsible, nor can the British Government. I think the fact is that the coal is not there. But it is not very tactful to be delivering six ton supplies of coal at the city restaurants when poor women are passing by while it is being put down the chute, and they are wondering why they cannot get half a stone. That is a detail I do not propose to pursue.

Let us assume we can get the food to the people. The problem is how will they cook it. We cannot establish communal kitchens over-night, but some day we will have to take a decision as to how we are going to meet a situation when the people cannot cook their food. I know of two ways in which it can be met. One is communal kitchens, to which the people will bring their food, cook it and take it away to be consumed in the family circle. The other is communal feeding. I would be prepared to adopt communal feeding if it is the only way to surmount the difficulty, but I do not like it because it tends to disrupt the family system. The people can either bring their food and have it cooked, or purchase it in a cooked state and bring it to their homes for consumption. If we are all agreed that that is the right solution, now is the time to establish the communal kitchen, now is the time to train the personnel, and it is not going to be an easy task.

Although with the best intentions we go out to provide the poor with the best service, it is going to be somewhat inconvenient for the poor. They will naturally resent their troubles, trials and tribulations, and they will vent a good deal of their resentment on the personnel engaged in cooking food at the various centres. These people will be doing their best, but naturally, being the first persons that the people in trouble meet, they will get the weight of the abuse and the dissatisfaction. You have to get tactful, prudent people who will be prepared to face that, to understand it and make the scheme a success if serious disturbances are not going to result.

Suppose we decide to have a communal kitchen where food is brought for cooking purposes and then taken away to be consumed at home, or a communal kitchen where people can purchase food in a cooked state, or if we are to have communal feeding centres, how is the food to be rationed? I say that there is not any system in which you can ration it out other than by giving to the mother of every family a definite allowance. You could then regulate the food issued at those centres at price levels which would enable any women to get a fair meal on seven days a week from the family allowance that is being provided for her by the State. I think that is the limit to which a prudent Government ought to go.

I want to say this in particular to the Labour Party, that in a state of emergency of this kind, in our desire to serve, we may be tempted to interfere to excess in the administration of family life. There are limits beyond which we, as public representatives, should not go in attempting to control the management of children by the father and mother. We have got to assume that 99 per cent. of the mothers of this country, if given the means to feed their children, will feed them. We have got to reconcile ourselves to the fact that there will be 1 per cent. who will not feed them, but, instead, will spend the money on drink or in the betting shop. In fact, we have got to realise that we are not all saints and angels in this country, that there are some weak brethren amongst us for whom we must be prepared to make provision, no matter how exasperating they are. But the great difficulty is that the civil servants are always so obsessed with the danger of public money going astray that they are afraid to launch any scheme for fear one individual in the State will manage to collect 6d. illegitimately. There never was a scheme initiated by a Government in any country in the world in which some money, which was intended to be expended on deserving people, did not find its way into the hands of undeserving persons. That should not deter us from pursuing the scheme if we are satisfied that it is the most effective way of banishing hunger from our people in a period of unexampled emergency. If anyone has a better scheme, let him get up and adumbrate it. There at least is a scheme that will work though it may not be the best scheme. If there is a better scheme, I am prepared to work for it and advocate any taxation or public expenditure that is necessary to finance it, but do not crab this scheme until someone is able to get up and say: "We sympathise with Deputy Dillon, but we think he is wrong, and we have a better scheme." I am prepared to adopt anybody's scheme that will give me the assurance that no man, woman or child will go hungry next winter. I ask Deputies to bear this in mind, and I want to say it deliberately, that no man, woman or child in this country is entitled to be finicky about the diet he or she gets. All that they will have the right to demand is that the diet will be of a character which, when consumed, will be adequate to maintain normal health, and that there is a fair do for everyone.

They have not that in the best of times.

This emergency may be the means of securing that they will have it hereafter. If they did not have it in the past some of that may be due to dire poverty and some of it to a failure on the part of the family administrator to use the money available to the best advantage. Let us be fair and say that some of it was due to one cause and some to the other. This emergency may be the means of carrying to far wider circles of the community good sense in regard to dietetics for children. Let us take advantage of the occasion to do as much as we can to that end. But, whatever we do, let us take the precaution here and now to ensure that, however the wind blows next winter, no one will go hungry as far as we can prevent it, and that no one will go naked.

Some people, I believe, think that I am unduly pessimistic, but honestly, I do not think I am. I was talking recently to a man who came back from Spain, which has a much larger coastline than we have. This man told me, and he was in a position to know, that there are areas in Spain, as big as a county here, where people are actually dying from hunger on the roadside because the Central Government could not get food or fuel to them. The Government knew because they could not get either the food or the fuel to them, that citizens of their country were lying by the roadside dying from emaciation and hunger. Now, that is the case in Spain, which has contact with the United States of America—to which American ships are still sailing. I need hardly tell Deputies that in Belgium, in occupied France and Holland, the state of affairs is shocking, and you have people dying of hunger. Their position is not analogous to ours, because they are belligerents, albeit not all of them by their own desire. Spain is a neutral country. We are neutral, but by the mercy of Providence, and thanks to the British Navy, we are not in the position that Spain is in. If it were not for the British Navy we might easily find ourselves in the position in which Spain is, though not perhaps to such an acute degree, because we are able to provide a supply of food for ourselves, but, from the point of view of fuel, the position might become very serious.

I do not know whether I am going into too great detail if I refer to a matter which is very near to my heart. The Borstal inmates in this country are at the present moment in a prison in one of our cities.

That is a matter of detail that did arise on the Estimate for the Department.

I do not want to discuss the administration of the interior of that prison, nor do I want to suggest for a moment that the Taoiseach is indifferent to the fact that those Borstal boys are in a prison. I want to put it to members of the House: would it not be much better to take those boys out of the prison in Cork City and put them in some derelict house rather than pen them up where they are to-day? I will not refer to it further.

The last thing I want to say is this. I do not mind embarking upon any new departure if we make up our minds deliberately to do so. I do not mind anything going up the spout if we mean it to go up the spout. What I hate to see is something that is vital to the national position of this country gradually disintegrating and no one, apparently, caring where it goes. The Defence Conference either is of value or it is not. Personally, I think it is. I think that if its value is to be maintained we have got to be perfectly clear in our minds as to what its terms of reference are. The Defence Conference has nothing to do with policy. That was made as clear as crystal from the very beginning. There are large lumps of vital policy in regard to which I am poles apart from the Fianna Fáil Government, but that does not seem to preclude me from co-operating with Ministers or the Government on the Defence Conference.

There is one matter on which I am in complete agreement with the Government, and that is: that in accepting responsibility for this sovereign State we must be prepared, whatever the cost may be, to resist aggression against its sovereignty whencesoever it may come. On that agreement I think the Defence Conference can function. I think the Labour Party sometimes talk about throwing up the Defence Conference, and I have heard the Taoiseach say, when he gets vexed, "Well, what is the use of the Defence Conference?"

I do not think that is a correct statement for Deputy Dillon to make. It is very unfair that it should be made by a member of the Defence Conference.

What statement?

That the Labour Party was throwing up the Defence Conference.

Have not the Labour Party made the welkin ring with it? Have I not read speeches on it that made my hair curl? As far as I could gather from some of the speeches made by the Labour Party, they were to the effect that they should withdraw from the Defence Conference. Perhaps I misunderstood them.

I think that is an unfair line to pursue. As far as I know, no such speeches were made.

I am delighted to hear it, and I unreservedly withdraw. If the Labour Party never allowed it to cross their minds that they should withdraw from the Defence Conference——

I think it has been made quite clear.

If I have been under a misapprehension as to the attitude of the Labour Party, I unreservedly withdraw.

Resolutions have been passed by affiliated organisations calling upon us to do so, but it is quite unfair to state that the Labour Party said so.

I am delighted to hear that. All I want to say is this: whatever else we do about the Defence Conference, do not let us just drift out of it. If we make up our minds, as a matter of high policy, that it would be a good thing to wind it up and dismiss it——

Speak for your own Party.

I am going to say what I want to say, and the members of the Labour Party can get up after me and say what they want to say. I speak for myself and for nobody else.

Speak for your own Party.

Do not draw me too far, or I might talk more. If the Defence Conference is to go, it should go by a carefully taken resolution. It cannot satisfactorily function if people will not keep before their eyes what its function is. Its function is to co-ordinate certain Government activities, on the basis of Government policy which is fixed by the Government and not by the Defence Conference. People ought to make up their minds to that, and ought to appreciate that. Differences about policy there are likely to be, strong and emphatic differences, and, so long as this Government is a Party Government, it is right and good—as the Taoiseach said to-day — that those differences should be freely ventilated in the Legislature of the State. I, therefore, would welcome from the Labour Party the strongest possible repudiation of the misapprehension under which apparently I have been labouring.

It will be given in the proper place and at the proper time.

I would welcome from the Taoiseach a clear reiteration of his view as to whether or not the Defence Conference is a valuable factor in the present situation. I am expressing my view. I think it is, and I would be sorry to see it go, but if others take a different view I would be prepared to fall in with it if that view were calmly come to, and the action upon that view resolutely embarked upon, but what I do want to say is that casual observations and petulant gestures might quite casually wreck something which would be extremely difficult to reconstitute. I have said all I want to say, and I invite the Taoiseach to deal patiently and explicitly with the five separate matters upon which I have touched, because I think that they are all-important and all-deserving of the Taoiseach's attention, as distinguished from the attention of such an officer as Pooh-Bah was represented to be in Gilbert and Sullivan's operaThe Mikado.

On this Estimate I want to return to what I consider the most pressing and the most urgent matter with which we have to deal at the moment, that is the fuel position in relation to transport. I want to try to impress on the Taoiseach that the transport in this country, such as it is, will be free and available for turf transport only for another five weeks. At the end of five or at the outside six weeks, all road transport available, and the greater part if not all of the railway transport, will be required for shifting grain. By the time the grain harvest has been transported, we will immediately be up against the question of transporting beet. I should like some members of the Government, if the head of the Government cannot do it, to explain to this House and to the people how they propose to transport grain, beet and turf at the same time. It cannot be done. We are in this position to-day, that turf is not being transported from the bogs into the towns even in the turf counties. In the only period when our transport is available—when, as a matter of fact, the greater part of our transport is idle for want of work—we are not using it.

The Taoiseach complains of the complacency of the people. Notwithstanding the fact that he and other members of the Government and this House have tried to impress upon the people the seriousness of this crisis, notwithstanding the fact that they have tried to impress upon the people the grave economic dangers facing the country, not to speak about the military dangers, he complains that the people still go on in the same old way. My complaint is that, with only five, or, at the most, six weeks' transport time available, the Government are plodding along as if we have unlimited transport and unlimited fuel. I want to state in the most emphatic way that, in my opinion, and according to the best information I can get, it would require all the transport that we have in this country working full time from this until the end of this year to carry from the bogs and from the woods of this country the fuel supply necessary to carry our people over next winter, and it would require that, during all that time, we never had to carry a bag of grain or a ton of beet.

I can see certain reasons for what I might call this Standstill Order No. 2 under which turf is not allowed to be removed from the turf areas. I explained here yesterday that the first effect of that order has been that throughout the bogs of this country the sleans have been thrown down and the turf cutting has ceased. It is understandable. Men have cut X-tons of turf. They have worked hard. I am talking now for the moment of private turf cutters, the types of people upon whom the head of the Government himself has told us that we must depend in the main to make up the additional supplies of fuel. Those men have been working for the last two or three months without getting any money from anybody. Now, when they have the first harvest of turf saved and ready to be sold, they are not allowed to sell it. Does anybody expect that they are going to carry on cutting turf? Those men who are living down the country, who are facing the realities, who know the position regarding transport, are saying to themselves: "My neighbours and my family and myself between us have 100 tons of turf cut and saved. If we cannot get transport now when transport is idle and available to remove that 100 tons of turf, what possible chance have we of getting 200 or 300 tons of turf removed from the bogs when every lorry in the country will be engaged in carrying wheat, barley, oats, and so on?"

I do not like to repeat myself or to raise this matter too often, but I look upon it as the most urgent of all the matters which we have to consider. I must confess that I find it most astounding that the Government can sit down, apparently unconcernedly, during this period, whilst no effort whatever is being made to distribute the turf which has been cut and saved, to clear the grounds to enable the people to cut more turf, and to enable them to get paid for the work they have done on the bogs in the last two or three months. I should like the Taoiseach or the Minister for Industry and Commerce, or the Minister for Supplies, or some member of the Government, to get up here and explain to us what transport, if any, is going to be available during the months of August, September, October or November for the carrying of turf.

Further, I want to get from some member of the Government information as to whether any estimate has been made of the transport that would be required to bring a sufficient quantity of fuel from the bogs and the woods to the towns and cities of this country so as to ensure that there would not be a shortage of firing. I suggest that no attempt has been made to get that estimate and that, if such an estimate were made, it would be shown that more transport will be required than we have in the country.

We have got no clear lead on this matter. Since I spoke here yesterday evening in this connection, I have taken the opportunity of talking to other Deputies from various parts of the country, and they have told me that the position in the various constituencies, which they represent in this House, is, as a result of the recent Turf Order, just the same as it is in my own constituency. Very large numbers of men who had been engaged in cutting and saving turf have ceased to cut it. That is a very unfortunate position, and it is particularly unfortunate when we face the fact that even if they worked all the time and to the very maximum of their capacity, and even if we were granted the most favourable weather conditions that we could possibly hope for, they would not be able to produce enough. It is lamentable that, for any reason, they should have stopped work on the cutting and saving of turf at this particular period of the year, particularly in weather that is so favourable. I do not want to say any more about that matter. I raise it again now because, as I have said, I look upon this as the most important and most urgent matter which should have the attention of the Government.

There is one other matter that I want to raise on the Taoiseach's Estimate. We had one of the results of it here this evening and yesterday in connection with the Emergency Powers (Continuance) Bill and the allegations that were made that the Government were abusing those powers by making orders, covering matters that should have been dealt with by ordinary legislation. The Taoiseach's answer to that was that there was only a difference of two days in the number of days that the Dáil sat for the last two years compared with the number of days on which they sat in the preceding two years. I want to say that the position in which we find ourselves here to-day, of sitting in this House this week, with the prospect of sitting here for the remainder of this month and, probably, a part, if not the greater part, of next month, is due absolutely and entirely to the Government's inability—I shall not use any other word—so to arrange the business of this House as to get discussion to the best advantage and at a time of the year in which matters could be discussed fully with the least—I shall not say the least inconvenience to the members of the House but with the least loss of valuable time. I think that the majority of the members of this House—certainly more than half of them—are farmers, or directly or very closely connected with the land, and it seems to me to be an appalling thing that we should not be sitting here during the winter months and the earlier part of the spring doing our business in the House and that we should be kept here, during the busiest time of the year for the farmers, discussing Bills which, if they had to be discussed—some of them, at any rate— could have been discussed last winter, or else could be discussed next winter, instead of telling us, as we have been told—the only feeble excuse that could be made for Order No. 83—that it is a question of time. Surely to goodness if time and, apparently, unlimited time, can be found for a Bill like the Trade Union Bill, that time could be used to far better purpose in discussing any other Bill. If we had not any more important measures to discuss, the time given by members of this House, and particularly farmer members, for the last two or three weeks—and that probably will be given for the next two or three weeks—could be spent by these Deputies, with much more value to the nation and to themselves, at home on their own farms.

We have had to complain of this before. There is no doubt at all about it, there is, apparently, no intelligent looking ahead or planning ahead of the business of the country and the business to be put before this House. I know, of course, that there are times when legislation has to be brought in or Bills have to be passed or orders made, in a hurry—matters that cannot be foreseen. I know that, but that does not happen every day. So far as the vast bulk of the work is concerned, it should be out of the way long before this, and I think that the time of the House would be used to better advantage if a programme or agenda were prepared by the Government and presented to the House in a much better way than has been the practice up to the present.

I do not want to dwell—although I suppose I could properly do so on this Estimate—on the wisdom or otherwise of introducing the Trade Union Bill, but I do say that it shows, to say the least of it, very little appreciation, firstly, of the value of keeping, as far as possible, highly controversial legislation out of this House during the period of the emergency, and, secondly, very little appreciation, indeed, of how necessary it is that every member of this House, and particularly every farmer member of this House, as I have said, should be at home on his farm working or directing the work that has to be done on his farm, particularly at a time like this.

The Taoiseach is the head of a Government, and the Labour Party has put down this motion to refer the Vote back because we consider that the Government, as a whole, lacks initiative, imagination, drive or direction, especially in this time of crisis and emergency and, probably, disturbance. The Government still continue to act in the old orthodox, peacetime ways, without any apparent realisation of the dangers that beset the country. The Taoiseach has told us that he apprehends a dangerous position next winter, in the cities and towns, I take it, but I want to ask the Taoiseach what plans he has made to meet that dangerous position.

So far as Deputies and the citizens of the country can see, nothing is being done that will ensure that the apprehensions of the Taoiseach will not be justified next winter. The ordinary man down the country turns to his Deputy and asks him what he is doing about it. By means of Parliament, and other means as well, Deputies have tried to impress on the Government the need for making definite plans to meet the situation which is so imminent. There is no doubt that the war effort of the belligerents will be intensified and will definitely put this country into a much more serious position than it is at present. This is evident to any thoughtful person. But I wonder does it impress on the Government the responsibility to plan and to see that the worst of the impact of that position will not be experienced next winter by our people.

Deputy Morrissey referred to the position in towns and cities with regard to fuel. I want to join in the appeal he made for a more intensive drive so far as fuel is concerned. So far as I can see, the position in Cork next winter will be a deplorable one. Even with all the turf cutting that is going on, the county council scheme, the goodwill scheme, and the work that owners of bogs are doing, there will not be sufficient fuel for Cork City next winter or for the areas east of Cork City, which comprise the greater part of my constituency. I can corroborate what Deputy Morrissey said about the restriction on the removal of turf from turf areas. A man who has supplied a good deal of turf to Cork City from the bogs over the border in Kerry told me that when this standstill No. 2 Order, as it has been called, came into force he was prohibited from taking turf to Cork City.

I do not know what the reason for that is. I made representations to the Turf Development Board in order to get that man a licence. He did a very big business in bringing turf into Cork City. He supplied some of the big coal merchants who, I am sure, are trying to lay in stocks. He also supplied the small coal merchants. Now he is stopped from doing that. Can the Taoiseach give any definite reason why that is being done? From what the man told me, what Deputy Morrissey has stated is a fact. The people from whom that man bought turf—and he spent about £3,000 on turf this season —on account of the turf being left on their hands, are not prepared to go ahead and cut any more.

I do not know what the purpose of this order is. There may be some good reason for it, but to my mind it seems ridiculous, because no matter what supplies of turf can be got into Cork City during the next few months, they will not be sufficient for the coming winter. I would like, therefore, to get from the Taoiseach some indication of the purpose of this order. The area that I mentioned is just over the border of Cork County, and supplied turf to various parts of Cork County. Why that has been stopped I do not know. That is only an indication of the Government's policy in this matter. It looks as if they have adopted a Micawber-like policy of waiting for something to turn up; waiting until the emergency is really upon them.

While that position obtains, we are exporting food to Great Britain. If there is to be a food shortage in the coming winter, and the Taoiseach himself admits that there is a danger of that, I cannot understand why we are exporting food at present. My information is that £100,000 worth of potatoes have been exported, and I do not see what we have got in return. We may have got promises to pay under the signature of the Bank of England. If we have a surplus to export, we should get some commodities in return, either materials that are wanted for industries, or some other foodstuffs such as tea, flour, etc.

The Taoiseach is very fond of describing the nation as a family, and saying that each and every member of the family is entitled to a share. That position has not obtained at any time in this country to my knowledge, and, so far as indications go, it will not obtain. People in my area who are trying to live on 14/- a week cannot get their share of food or fuel. That sum is only given to a man who has a wife and five or more children. The family idea does not go very far in those cases. Extra allowances have been promised to the recipients of unemployment assistance, home assistance, old age pensions, etc., but there is no evidence of these being put into operation, and the position at the moment is that people in those areas are in a very bad way.

I am referring to an area in my constituency bordering on Cork harbour, comprising a big population, and including Passage West and Cobh, in which there is no employment to be had. There are no bogs adjacent to that area, so that the people there cannot be employed on turf cutting. I therefore want to impress on the Taoiseach the necessity for useful schemes for employment in that district. Since the turf drive was started in Cork County the surveyors and their staffs are engaged altogether in connection with turf production. But there should be some consideration for areas where turf schemes and ancillary schemes, such as the making of bog roads, etc., cannot be put into operation. I have had letters from people in that area asking me to get something done. I have put the matter before the Department and before the Taoiseach, and I am putting it now publicly before him. Something must be done in those areas. We are supposed to be making provision so that people will not be hungry next winter, but there have been hungry people in this country for a long number of years. People are hungry at this moment, and we sit complacently here and do nothing about it. If the family idea is the key-note of the Taoiseach's operations now and in the future, let him turn his attention to these places I have mentioned.

There is a steel works in Cobh which has been closed down since 11th February last. I know for a fact that the Taoiseach was appealed to in the matter, because the Minister for Industry and Commerce did not seem to take any further interest in it. Private enterprise had failed and, therefore, it was not the duty of the Government to do anything further. There is a need for that industry, if industries which are useful, such as house building, railways and a number of subsidiary industries are to be kept going. I should like the Taoiseach to listen to the appeals made in this matter. Very probably there will be a further appeal made, because I understand that a conference of public bodies is to be held on next Monday night and a deputation may be sent to the Taoiseach in an effort to get him to do something. Private enterprise having failed on this occasion, the Government has a responsibility and a duty to an industry which is vital almost to the very existence of the State. It was an industry which gave a certain amount of employment. Probably the war caused its dislocation but, at the same time, there is enough scrap material available to keep the industry going and to keep the other industries I speak of going as well.

I think it was the Minister for Supplies who said, in reply to a question by my colleague, Deputy Corry, that no scrap was being exported from this country, but I think Deputy Corry proved to the satisfaction of the House that 30,000 tons of scrap iron were exported under licence from this country last year. My information is that with that amount of material and the amount which can be collected, if there is a drive for it, Haulbowline could be kept going as a major industry in the country. I am sure the Taoiseach knows very well what I am talking about, and I hold that it is his duty to see that this industry is kept going. There is definitely room for it, and there is definitely a demand, even at present, for such material as was being turned out there. There are 2,600 tons of rails there which, if the industry was put going, could be utilised. It is the duty of the Taoiseach and the Government to see that where there is employment for people who cannot find employment in the fuel and food drives, these people should be put to work. I have given one example of what could be done. I do not want to go into the matter in detail, but I want to bring it to the notice of the Taoiseach that the people down there believe that a responsibility rests on him as head of the Government to do something to get this industry going again.

What is the position in the country to-day? We have numbers of people who cannot get employment, no matter how the fuel drive is arranged. They cannot be absorbed in that drive. We have in Cork City 2,300 applications from people who are anxious to cut turf. Half of them could not be employed in the fuel drive, with the result that many of them have gone across to Britain. I am not arguing that they should be kept here in the conditions of starvation which they experienced while they were here, but it is a fact that these people are facing the bombs and the submarines, the dangers and the hardships in Britain in order to get work there. My contention is that if the Government plans its operations in regard to fuel, industries and whatever other schemes are available—and I have a number of schemes which I can give to the Taoiseach, to the Minister for Local Government or whatever Minister is concerned—these men need not go across to Britain.

My information is that there are at present 30,000 men seeking passports to go to England. The Government are well aware of that position and, side by side with that, we have large numbers of young men, the best of our young men, leaving the country to join the British Army to become cannon fodder for one of the belligerents. That is the position because the Taoiseach and his Government have not so arranged matters that these people would have—and they do not expect much more—frugal comfort in their own land by the work of their hands and their brains. The only remedy for the position is to put people into useful employment in which they will have purchasing power in respect of the necessaries of life for themselves and their families. There is very little use in talking of the family as a unit when families are being broken up, and when the head of the family has to go across to Britain to find work, or to join the British Army, so that he can send something home to keep his family.

Does it not show a callous indifference to the whole principle of family life? Is 14/- a week for a man, his wife, and five, six or seven children in a rural area, sufficient to provide the ordinary necessaries of life at present? Surely that is not the conception of family life that should obtain in a Christian Parliament. We are looking complacently on at that position. On the one hand we are told that the work is not there, that schemes cannot be got—and £500,000 has to go back into the Exchequer because schemes cannot be found on which to use the money—but, on the other hand, we are told that the money cannot be got. The men, however, can be got, because they are there in thousands, ready and willing to work, and the work, I contend, is available.

I want to come back again to this question of fuel. In connection with the food and fuel problem, there was a system of parish councils set up some time ago, and I want to say to the Taoiseach that I cannot see any practical good being accomplished by those councils down in my constituency.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday, 10th July.