Committee on Finance. - Vote 55—Industry and Commerce.

I move:—

Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £165,057 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 Oifig an Aire Tionnscail agus Tráchtála agus Seirbhísí áirithe a riartar ag an Oifig sin, ar a n-áirmhítear Ildeontaisí-i-gCabhair.

That a sum, not exceeding £165,057, 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 Office of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and of certain Services administered by that Office, including sundry Grants-in-Aid.

In introducing this Estimate last year I stated that my remarks would necessarily reflect the impact of the European war on our trade and industry, and that statement is as true for this year as for last year. Since then, time and the development of hostilities have intensified our difficulties, particularly in relation to the procurement of plant and raw materials, but we have not yet experienced that general dislocation of our normal productive activities which we all fear and which, to most, must seem to be inescapable. Indeed, so inevitable does it appear, that there is some temptation to be over-pessimistic as to the future course of quite incalculable events. It is wiser and more practical then to review the proximate past and the immediate present and, beyond saying that we must take a serious, indeed a very serious view, of the future, avoid prophecy. The real tests of the immediate economic position are production and employment. I am not yet in a position to give the House full particulars of the census of production in 1940, but I can say that the results available, covering almost half the area of industrial production, indicate that there has not been any decline in output on the average as compared with 1939.

This position is all the more striking when it is remembered that the total volume of output in 1939 of transportable goods was about 5 per cent. greater than in 1938. From this we may conclude that in the very critical year of 1940 we were in possession of or managed to obtain the requisite quantity of raw materials to enable the generality of our industries to continue in normal production, which is something to be thankful for. I dare not suggest that I shall be able to report so favourably next year upon our experience in this. On the contrary, I anticipate a marked deterioration in the position in so far as it is governed by the availability of many essentials which we have normally to bring from overseas.

So far as employment is concerned, the figures of employment in the protected industries in March, 1941, show a decline of about 5 per cent. as compared with the corresponding period last year. As a test of employment generally, outside agriculture, the income of the unemployment fund from the sale of stamps at post offices has decreased by 3 per cent. in the first quarter of 1941, as compared with the same quarter of 1940, and it is down by about 4.8 per cent. as compared with the corresponding period in 1939. On the other hand, the income of the National Health Insurance Fund from the sale of stamps likewise at post offices in the first quarter of 1941 was .25 per cent. greater than the same quarter of 1940 but was 3.4 per cent. less than in the corresponding quarter in 1939.

The figures for employment on farms for the midsummer period of this year are not yet available, but the number of males so occupied in the midsummer of 1940 was 544,000 as compared with 531,000 in 1939. It is not, I think, an unwarrantable assumption that the number so employed this year will show a marked increase over the figures for 1940.

So far as urban employment is concerned, we may take the figures on the live register of unemployment as reflecting the net position. According to the latest return, the total number of persons on the live register who were residing in the cities and urban districts on the 24th May, 1941, was 44,751, including 35,159 men, as compared with 46,793, including 38,970 men, at the nearest corresponding date in 1940. It is significant that there are 3,800 men fewer on the live register this year than there were this time last year.

That is 38,970 as compared with 35,159?

Yes. I may perhaps anticipate questions in this connection by remarking that the operation of the employment period orders, so far as cities and urban districts are concerned, does not affect the comparability of the figures for this year with last year, so that I am justified, I think, in drawing the deduction that there has been a decline in unemployment of about 4.4 per cent. in cities and urban districts where the decrease in the case of men only is about as much as 9.8 per cent.

Has the Minister made any estimate of what employment these people have been absorbed into?

I have not been able to do that, but I am going to make a suggestion which may cover some part of the decrease.

They are probably gone to the bogs.

There has been a decrease of 9.8 per cent. as far as the men are concerned. As I said of the volume of production in 1940, I may also say of the comparative steadiness of employment, taking the country as a whole: the worst of our earlier fears in that regard have not materialised yet, which is due in part, no doubt, to the fact that so many of our citizens have left their normal pursuits to enlist in the Defence Forces. At the same time, in this connection, and while making every allowance for the enlistments, we must not lose sight of the very significant fact that on the balance inwards and outwards of passenger traffic over our land and sea frontiers, the estimated balance inwards by rail, road, sea and air, except in regard to passenger movement on foot or in private vehicles, during the period from September, 1939, to May, 1941, was between 45,000 and 50,000.

The two largest accessions to positive employment have been in the production of food and the production of fuel. The drive for increased agricultural production inevitably led to additional new employment and to more full-time employment for those ordinarily working on farms. The turf cutting campaign has created an intense demand for labour suitable and available in the vicinity of bogs. When I spoke last year on the Estimates I referred at some length to the duty which then rested on me of increasing production of native fuel, particularly turf. In the course of the year, after full consideration it was decided to unify the control of all the various turf-producing agencies, and this control now rests in the hands of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance. The Dáil has already indicated how whole-heartedly it approves of that arrangement. So far as coal is concerned, the House will be interested to know that the production of semi-bituminous coal in the year 1940 from the Arigna district was more than double what it had been on the average over several preceding years. It is hoped that the production in 1941 will be still further increased. So far as anthracite is concerned, the estimated output this year will be something over 100,000 tons, without taking into account possible additions to the output of new production from the mine opened some time ago at The Swan, and from the Slievardagh property. The House is already aware of the steps taken recently to establish a new company for immediate development of the anthracite deposits in the Slievardagh district. That company is in existence, and is proceeding as rapidly as possible with the development. The present Estimates include a sum of £21,100 for that company, as well as £18,100 for the Mineral Development and Exploration Company, which is now in process of formation.

In the course of the year I have been giving constant consideration to two problems; the first relating to the impact of the war conditions on the poorest class of the community, and the second, how best to prolong existing employment. By Emergency Powers (No. 93) Order, 1941, allowances for dependents under the Unemployment Insurance Acts were last month increased from 5/- to 7/6 per week for adult dependents, and from 1/- to 2/6 per week for child dependents. So far as recipients of unemployment assistance are concerned, plans are in active course of preparation for the distribution of vouchers entitling the recipients of unemployment assistance, as well as of old age and widows' and orphans' pensions, to weekly rations of milk, bread and butter. It is hoped that this scheme will be in operation within the next few weeks. It is intended in this case likewise to put the scheme into effect by an order under the Emergency Powers Acts, 1939 to 1940. Recently, I have had conferences with representatives of the Trade Union Congress, of Federated Employers Limited, and the Federation of Irish Manufacturers, regarding the need for formulating plans for short-time working where the supply position dictated such a course. Naturally, such plans will take time to work out in detail, and must, of course, be based upon agreements between employers and employees in each particular concern or industry. In the meantime, however, I am in the course of making such amendments in the Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Assistance Acts as will enable unemployment benefit or assistance to be paid in the case of alternating periods of employment and unemployment much more flexibly and much more readily than can be done under the existing regulations. The changes I am considering will definitely ease the situation for the employees of such firms as may find it practicable to produce schemes for part-time or rotational employment.

Is the Minister going to introduce these changes by order or by Act?

By order. In connection with all this, there is close collaboration between my Department and the Department of Supplies in the matter of the availability of supplies for each industry, and this collaboration of the two Departments with the industries concerned, with all engaged in the industries concerned, should yield helpful results in prolonging employment. There will, no doubt, be special difficulties in certain industries, but I am hopeful that, by the cooperation of all concerned, we shall mitigate the hardships which the present conflict will impose upon large sections of our industrial workers.

An allegation was made recently in this House that men were refused unemployment benefit or unemployment assistance because they had refused to go to the United Kingdom to take work. I should like to take this opportunity of stating categorically that there is no shadow of foundation for such an allegation.

Would the Minister say who made that allegation?

It has been made by several people.

In this House?

In this House.

Will the Minister quote from the record?

I am not prepared at this stage to quote it, but I know it has been made.

Surely that is a very serious statement to make.

No Deputy has been named.

On a point of order. The Minister alleges that a statement was made in this House not once but several times, and he has been asked to give the quotation. I definitely say that, so far as I know— and I have been in the House fairly constantly—the statement which the Minister has now put before the House was not made. I think in fairness to the House itself the Minister should give the quotation. If the statement was made in the House it is on record.

On the point of order, the Chair cannot ask the Minister to quote, since he has not attributed the statement to a Deputy.

Then we know what it is worth.

Statements, perhaps not in those precise words, have been made in this House, which do suggest to uninformed people——

That is a different thing altogether.

——that men have been deprived of unemployment benefit or unemployment assistance because they refused to go to the United Kingdom to take work. I should like, as I have said already, to state categorically that there is not a shadow of foundation for that statement or for that suggestion.

The Minister is merely putting up skittles for the pleasure of knocking them down.

As a matter of fact, the opposite would seem to be the case. Over and over again I have had complaints of difficulties being experienced by Irish workers who desired to take up employment in Great Britain. My own view, in that regard, is that it would be wrong to exercise any form of compulsion on workers of this country to leave this country for such work, and that it would be equally wrong to take active steps to prevent men, who are unable to obtain employment here, from obtaining work elsewhere if they desire to do so. Indeed, my wish would be to do everything to safeguard and protect the interests of those who may have been called upon to look for work outside the country.

On occasions, references are made in this House and elsewhere to the possibility of the Government providing work for all the unemployed. Accordingly, it is necessary to make the position in that regard quite plain. The policy of providing economic work by way of developing new industries and maintaining those recently established is meeting with almost insuperable difficulties and obstacles in present conditions. Except in quite exceptional cases, or under unacceptable conditions, new machinery is virtually unobtainable. There are difficulties of a like kind in relation to the necessary supplies and technical direction for operating such plants. The fundamental factors in the present situation are frequently ignored. Yet, the fact that we are being drastically rationed in regard to such common commodities and industrial essentials as coal, timber, fuel oil, kerosene and petrol, should bring home to us how difficult it is to procure specialised equipment, the production and export of which are much more rigorously restricted.

We are faced with the same difficulties in preparing programmes of public works to deal with the unemployment in many industries which will be inevitable in consequence of the cessation of normal supplies of raw materials. Once again, plant and materials, often unprocurable, are required if works are to be undertaken upon any rational basis. The exhaustive examination made some years ago into the problem of providing work for the unemployed revealed that, apart from other very serious difficulties, one of the most serious then—and it is still more serious now—was to devise public works, of any practical utility whatsoever, in which the labour content would be sufficiently high to provide an adequate alternative to relief by way of benefit or assistance. It is necessary, I think, that this fact should be grasped by those who talk as though the task of absorbing the unemployed in useful occupations was as easy as putting pen to paper. As an example of the practical difficulties which confront those who undertake the planning of major public works as a means of relieving unemployment, I may refer to the recently published report of the Drainage Commission. We all know that the execution of large-scale drainage works has very often been pressed as a remedy for unemployment. That matter was exhaustively examined by the Drainage Commission, and here is what the report of that commission has to say in regard to it—I am quoting from paragraphs 202-206 inclusive, of the published report:

"Many witnesses strongly advocated a national scheme of arterial drainage for the reasons that it would make a very considerable contribution to the solution of unemployment, that several thousands of men would be permanently employed all over the country for many years, and that the savings in unemployment assistance would in large measure meet the cost of the works.

"It is, however, necessary to point out that drainage construction works do not afford a very satisfactory solution for unemployment. Drainage areas do not always correspond with unemployment areas. Even if work is continued all through the year, the pace of operations must be reduced in winter and intensified with low river flows, good weather conditions and long hours of daylight in summer, when the problem of unemployment is less pressing in agricultural areas. Works will not be in progress simultaneously all over the country. They will tend in a particular year to be concentrated in a very few catchment areas. The work will have to be organised in gangs moving up-river with the gradual progress of the operations. Assuming an annual expenditure of £250,000, an unskilled labour content of 30 per cent. a year of 300 working days, and a weekly wage of £1 10s. 0d., whole-time employment would be afforded for only 1,000 unskilled men which would probably work out at 1,500 men for the six months summer period and 500 for the six months winter period. Assuming that 1,000 unemployed men secure regular work on drainage for a year, and that all these men are unmarried without means or dependents, to whom the lowest rates of unemployment assistance (ranging from 6s. to 10s. 6d. per week according to area) are payable, the approximate annual saving on unemployment assistance would range from £5,100 to £27,300. In view of the fact that rates of unemployment assistance are graded according to dependency until they reach a weekly rate (in the case of a man with a dependent wife and five or more other dependents) varying from 14s. to 23s. according to area, it may be assumed that the saving on unemployment assistance will be more substantial than £5,100 especially as the practice in the case of works wholly or partly financed from public funds is to give preference for work to recipients of unemployment assistance and priority to those in receipt of the highest rates of assistance. During the summer employment period, some 32,000 rural residents may be off the register. During this period they cannot register for assistance, but they can register for work when they rank on the same basis as those in receipt of unemployment assistance.

"The lower figure of £5,100 is based on the assumption that all the workers come from rural areas and consequently would not qualify for assistance during the summer employment period which during the present year covers a period of 35 weeks. The higher figure of £27,300 is based on the assumption that all labour would be recruited from the county boroughs, where the rates of unemployment assistance are highest and the Employment Period Orders do not apply. It will, however, be appreciated that it is highly unlikely that workers from the county boroughs would be employed to any substantial extent on drainage schemes. If all the labour employed were recruited from the rural areas and employment were provided for 1,000 men in winter as well as in summer, the maximum saving on unemployment assistance—assuming that those employed were entitled to the highest rural rates of assistance —would be £11,900 per annum.

"The Office of Public Works informed us that on employment schemes the equivalent of full-time employment for 15,000 to 16,000 men is provided each year. Approximately a quarter of the benefit goes to urban areas, half to congested rural areas, and the other quarter to other rural areas. It is estimated that, under the system of rotational employment by which a workman receives 16 to 18 weeks' work each year, each week consisting of three to four days' employment, the cost to the State is about £43 per man per year including all costs of work, labour, material and unemployment assistance for the balance of the year. It may be argued that each such man put into steady employment represents an offsetting saving to the State of £43 per annum. The extent of such savings on drainage works would, however, depend in substantial measure on the location of the actual works. As indicated above, only a quarter of the expenditure on employment schemes is incurred in rural areas outside the congested districts and it may be taken that the expenditure normally provided for in many of the areas where drainage schemes would be undertaken would be small."

Now, what are the salient facts which emerge from the report of the Drainage Commission with regard to the practical utility of drainage works as a means of relieving the unemployed? They are these: that for an annual expenditure of £250,000 on arterial drainage, whole-time employment would be provided for about 1,000 unskilled men at about 30/- per week. That is to say, these 1,000 men if working all the year round, would draw out of that £250,000 about £78,000. As against this, the State, which of course in this connection means the general body of taxpayers and their dependents, would save about £11,900 per annum in unemployment assistance formerly payable to the men employed on the drainage works. The net cash benefit of the drainage works to the 1,000 men employed thereon accordingly would be £66,000—no inconsiderable sum no doubt, but nevertheless only a very little in excess of one quarter of the total burden of £250,000 annually which the community would have to shoulder in order to provide this work for 1,000 men.

Now, it is true, and I wish to lay all the emphasis possible on the fact, that the execution of arterial drainage works serves many other purposes than merely to provide employment. Some of these are set out in paragraphs 153-157 of the Drainage Commission's report, where, for instance, it is stated

(1) That an efficient system of drainage is an essential condition for good tillage, healthy pasture, and the elimination of disease in farming stock.

(2) That the reclamation or development of bogs on a national scale cannot be successfully carried out unless preceded by arterial drainage.

(3) That in many areas injury to public highways and bridges and dislocation of traffic and transport will be relieved.

(4) That a good system of drainage will bring considerable improvement in public health conditions.

(5) That relief will be afforded to many urban areas by the prevention of periodical flooding, and by the provision of better sewerage outfalls.

Accordingly, a national scheme of arterial drainage might be justified upon many grounds of public utility other than as a relief measure to deal with unemployment.

But in regard to how many of the other types of relief work which are sometimes suggested could that be said? In order to demonstrate the importance of the utility factor in relation to public works as a means of relieving unemployment, let us consider the cost of a project undertaken, not because it had any public utility whatsoever, but merely because it affords an opportunity of compelling men to work. Assume now that the project is a substantial one involving an expenditure, like arterial drainage, of £250,000 per annum, and that the unskilled labour content of the works is the same as for an arterial drainage scheme, let us see what the effect of undertaking such a project would be upon community employment in general.

To start off with, the community must, somehow or other, provide £250,000. Since the unskilled labour content of the work is about 30 per cent., the maximum sum which can be spent in wages is about £75,000. If the works are carried out in a rural area, this would give employment to about 1,000 men for one year. If, on the other hand, the works are being carried out in an urban area, the amount of employment would be correspondingly reduced, since the wage rates are higher, and probably only about 600 men would get the 12 months' job. If the works were in a rural area, the State or taxpayer would be saved about £11,900 or, say, £12,000, in unemployment assistance payments, while, if they are carried out in an urban area, the saving would be about £16,000. Thus, the net additional cash gain to the men employed would be about £63,000 in a rural area, or £59,000 in, say, a county borough; while the net cost, accordingly, to the taxpayer of the works would be £238,000 in a rural area, and £234,000 in an urban area. In either case, the money would all have to come out of the taxpayers' pockets, and would only be found by imposing additional taxation.

Now, it does not matter in what form the taxation is imposed, wheather it be as a tax on tobacco, a tax on tea, a tax on sugar, or a tax on income; it means that those upon whom the tax falls have less money to spend upon their needs and according to their own desires. The poorer classes will have less money to spend on the necessaries of life; the better-off classes will have less to spend on amenities. Because the additional taxation compels people to curtail expenditure upon goods or services to which they have been accustomed, there must inevitably be a reduced demand for those workers who were formerly employed in supplying either the demands for the necessaries of life or the demands for the amenities of life.

In relation to this particular work of low utility which we have been considering, we therefore find ourselves up against the following practical difficulty if we are proposing to carry it out merely to provide work for the unemployed. Is it wise or justifiable to divert an expenditure of £250,000 from its normal and natural use in procuring necessaries or amenities to which the community as a whole, or sections of it, have become accustomed? Particularly, is it wise or justifiable, when we thereby reduce employment to a proportionate extent in those trades and industries which are meeting this demand, and when we are not in a position to ensure that anything more than one-third of the money so diverted will find its way, in the form of wages, into the pockets of other individuals in the community? Is it not clear that in the extreme cases which I have been discussing, the employment which is afforded to 1,000 individuals to earn £75,000 over the year is given to them at the expense of all those other workers amongst whom £250,000 was formerly expended? We are, therefore, I suggest, driven to the general conclusion that unless a public work is of great public utility, and has a high labour content, the net result of the undertaking will not be to increase employment in the community in general, but to diminish it, some times very seriously indeed. Accordingly, when we endeavour to frame a programme to deal with unemployment, we must be very careful not to indulge in unwise expenditure, the result of which will be merely to aggravate the very evil we are endeavouring to cure. It is necessary that I should stress this danger, because it is important in our present circumstances that we should face our problems, and particularly this problem of unemployment, in a coldly realistic frame of mind. By all means we must put as many of our people to work as is practically possible, but it must be on work which is reproductive and useful, work, indeed, which those who are employed on it will regard as such, for there is nothing so demoralising to a man as to set him to do something which he knows to be valueless. We must employ the limited resources of plant, materials, and technical skill with the greatest possible economy, so as to ensure that they will provide the utmost good for the community as a whole. Our restricted supplies of timber, metals, chemicals and fuel must be conserved for the normal needs of industry. In my view we cannot do that if we squander our stores by impracticable, ill-considered and grandiose schemes which may have nothing to recommend them, beyond the opportunities which they afford for political tub-thumping of the most blatant and unscrupulous kind.

Speaking from the depths of experience.

As to the practical problems which arise out of that fact, it is essential that our raw materials should be put to the best possible use. I may say that the closest liaison is maintained between my Department and the Department of Supplies in relation to that matter, and not only that, but for a considerable time past officers of my Department and of the Department of Supplies have been meeting several industrial groups in the country to discuss with them the particular difficulties which they are experiencing in regard to supplies and other matters. Since the establishment of the Emergency Research Bureau these conferences have been attended by representatives of that body. I think I may say that they have been of great value, both to the particular industrialists concerned and to the Government Departments.

How is that?

Over 100 meetings have been held in the course of 12 months, and out of that number members of the Emergency Research Bureau attended 30. The reduction in our fuel oil supplies since the beginning of the year necessitated a substantial reduction in the operation of transport road services both for passengers and merchandise. Reductions of rail services have been recently found necessary consequent on the shortage of coal supplies. These reductions have been confined to the passenger services, and being of a limited nature, affecting mainly excursion and Sunday traffic, they are occasioning the least possible inconvenience to the travelling public and the business community in general. Should, however, the position not materially improve, I should like to give notice that it may be necessary to restrict even more substantially the services, both by rail and road, but in any restrictions which may be necessary, the interests of the other users of the railways, and particularly the necessity for the provision of sufficient transport for essential commodities, will, of course, be kept carefully in mind.

Consequent on the loss of revenue experienced by the Great Southern Railways owing to the reduction of their passenger road traffic and increased cost of operation, the company considered it necessary in March last to increase substantially the fares on passenger road services. While I appreciate that there are grounds for increased fares on these services, I should say that I am not satisfied that the extent to which they were increased was fully justifiable. I have the matter still under consideration with the company, which in the meantime is introducing some attractions in the form of cheap one-day tickets on practically all services. The falling off of the trade of our ports consequent on the reduction of shipping due to the war has necessitated in many cases an increase of port charges and in some cases has seriously affected the financial position of harbour authorities, which is a problem to which I have been giving some attention.

But promising nothing.

It is better to promise nothing until one is satisfied that he is able to give effect to the promise. The Deputy must be aware that the matter is not fully in my hands and that we have a duty to the community in general as well as to the harbour authorities.

The harbours have shut down.

After all, the lot of citizens to whom no compensation is given comes first. We cannot say that harbour or any local authorities can be considered a first charge on all the citizens.

This is a public service.

Some fears have been expressed as to the ability of our transport services to cope with the carriage of grain, beet and turf. So far as the capacity of the railway rolling stock and road vehicles is concerned we need have no apprehension in that regard. They are ample for the purpose. Of course the difficulty with regard to fuel supplies remains, and may necestion sitate further restrictions on services, both on rail and road. The Department of Supplies is, however, dealing with that aspect of the problem and, no doubt, will do everything possible to ensure that supplies of fuel will be available for the transport of essential commodities. The shipping of the country has had both gains and losses since last year.

Since the outbreak of hostilities ten Irish registered ships have been sunk, and in eight of these cases it has been established that the loss was due to belligerent action. Irish ships have also, from time to time, been the targets of attack by bombing aircraft, but the damage caused in this way has, happily, not been serious. On the other hand, the Irish mercantile marine will be substantially strengthened by the addition of a number of vessels acquired by Irish Shipping, Limited. Generally I may say that my powers under emergency legislation have been used to ensure that, so far as possible, ships on the Irish register are used to the best advantage from the point of view of our trade.

There has been steady development in our air transport. Despite drastic restrictions on travel during the summer and autumn months, and the complete suspension of flying, owing to weather conditions, for a fortnight in January and February last, some 2,500 passengers more than in the previous year were carried during 1940 on the service operating between this country and Great Britain. Transport by air has many attractions in war time, and the aircraft engaged in the cross-Channel services are operating to their fullest capacity. Building operations on the new Dublin airport slowed down somewhat owing to the difficulty of supplies, but the aerodrome has given every satisfaction in operation. Our interest in the transatlantic services is maintained through the services which are now being operated from the Shannon airport to Lisbon. I do not think there is anything further I can add to the very full review of the activities of my Department which I have just given.

I move:—

That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration.

I think I can say without the least exaggeration that this Vote comes up for discussion at a time of very great gravity in this country. I think I could go somewhat further and say that, in the 18 years during which I have been a member of this House, I do not remember this Vote coming up for consideration in circumstances of more exceptional gravity than those which prevail to-day. One would have thought that in such a situation, a situation of unparalleled gravity so far as our experience so far has gone, this Vote would give some indication of an appreciation of the position. I regret that the Minister's statement has shown no indication whatever of any adjustment to the new and very serious situation which has developed here. To a large extent, of course, the situation is not new, but it is freely granted to the Minister that the difficulties which have arisen since the outbreak of the war have greatly intensified the situation. My submission to the House this evening is that that situation has been made worse by the inaction and ineptitude associated with the Minister's Department during the year, and that has been amply reflected in the statement, or, rather, the apologia, given to the House by the Minister.

It seems clear to me, and I think it must be fairly apparent to the House generally, that the Minister is still definitely and firmly wedded to the old, time-worn methods of dealing with a problem of this kind, and that he at least has concluded that poverty, want, destitution and decay are matters for which he has no special responsibility, and in respect of them he has not seen fit to present any special proposals to the House. If we are to regard the situation which prevails at present as inevitable, to throw up our hands in despair and to say that things might have been worse, then our main function, and indeed the function of the Minister as the Minister responsible to the House and to the country for industry and commerce, go entirely by the board. The Minister has spoken in practically the same vein, and has offered the same opinions as can readily be found in any statement he made to meetings of the Chamber of Commerce in this city, to meetings of bankers in this city and to other gatherings of the same kind. The new and terrible facts which are forcing themselves on the minds of the people, no matter how lightly they apply themselves to a consideration of the position, had no place, and did not get even a passing mention, in the Minister's statement. We just heard a lecture of a kind which is going to be cold comfort and which will bring very little hope to the people in the terrible plight in which they are at the moment.

The Minister has referred to unemployment. Could anything be more regrettable than the Minister's inaction in that respect? I rely on one concrete instance to show how blameworthy the Minister is in this regard. In December, 1940, this House was asked to consider a motion by the Labour Party that proposals should be formulated within a period of six months to meet the unemployment position, and yesterday we learned that the terms of reference of the commission set up in pursuance of an amendment presented by the Minister to that motion, and carried by a majority of the House, have not yet been settled, and so this fiddling, this reproduction of the attitude of Mr. Micawber, continues, while our whole social fabric is in danger of being overthrown. I say that the Minister in his statement has shown that, if the outlook in his Department is not changed completely, there is very little hope in his Department for the people who are idle at present, and whose numbers are increasing daily.

We got the very significant information in the last day or two that 1,100 persons per month up to the date for which the latest figures are available, were leaving this country to seek employment in another country, and taking all the risks which are bound to attend their looking for employment in that country and continuing in any employment they get there. To that figure can be added the large number of people who are unofficially leaving this country through the Six Counties to join the British Army. The majority, if not practically every one, of the people concerned have no interest in the war. They are going for the plain and avowed reason of endeavouring to get some employment, and are joining the army for preference, in order that their dependents who remain behind will get some allowance to sustain them in the difficult times through which they are passing. Years ago, the LondonTimes joyously announced that the Celt was going from this country, and going with a vengeance. It is certainly one of the tragedies of our present time, when this country is in the control of a Government of Irishmen, that that position can be reflected and repeated in the happenings of to-day. I consider that the attitude of the Minister and his Department, and his inaction, and the inaction of the Government generally, in this connection, is a very strong factor in the repetition of the condition of things that was so joyously reported on by a newspaper that hated this country and everything this country stood for at that particular time.

I want to urge the Minister, before this debate concludes, to give the House some indication of a change of heart from a policy that talks of unemployment, of want and of the difficulties of the present position, in some other way than the academic way that the Minister has dealt with this problem. I want to refer to one happening during the year—the establishment of what has been described as the Construction Corps. If that act was intended as a contribution towards the relief and reduction of unemployment, the conception behind it was singularly unhappy. It has done a great deal to arouse suspicion that has not been eased by happenings since then which have emanated from some official quarters. There never seemed to be any direct explanation as to whether unemployed workers who were offered recruitment in that Construction Corps would be within or outside the Army. There was the statement of the Taoiseach that they were within the framework of the Army. The whole atmosphere in which that arrangement was conceived and certain things that have happened since go very clearly to show that there was some ground at least for the suspicion that the ideal behind the scheme was one of industrial conscription, and that the people recruited behind it might be used for the purpose of lowering wages and breaking conditions of employment throughout the country.

In fact, in Cobh some time ago, a situation arose that goes to bear out that particular point of view. Members of the Construction Corps—we were informed lately on this matter— were asked to do work that civilians did formerly, and when certain members of the corps expressed the view that they should not be asked to do that work, as it was interfering in a direction and a domain they never intended when they were recruited for membership, they were put under arrest and confined or imprisoned—all because they refused to take the bread out of the mouths of civilians who always were engaged on this work formerly and paid certain rates of wages for it. The Minister should look into that whole question again.

I do not stand, and have never stood in this House, for people who would refuse to work. I have no sympathy with such people, but I think the approach to this whole question in that respect is wrong. The Minister should have no doubt about the fact that, if the approach to this question is made in the right way, he will get a 99 per cent. response from the working people, who are anxious—and have been anxious always—to work. If approached in the proper way and in the right spirit, they will give a response that will gladden the Minister's heart, if he has any doubts about this particular matter. I have had experience before me in the matter of the production of fuel in the last two or three months, of people vieing with one another to go a very considerable distance to work.

It may be said that that is a characteristic of the working man in the rural areas, that he always has been prepared to do that. It may be said that it does not apply in the cities; but let us take the experience in Cork recently, where over 2,000 unemployed men—many of whom had never seen a turf bog—offered themselves for employment in the turf bogs. Many of them were men who had been cut off unemployment assistance because they refused to join the Construction Corps. The Minister must be aware of the fact that, amongst many in this country—now or at any time—there would be for many reasons some reservations about undertaking military service. In depriving people of that kind of employment assistance without ascertaining whether they had refused any other bona-fide or genuine offer of employment, the Minister acted in a way that showed a very lamentable lack of consideration for this whole question.

For the few little rays of light that are shed by the Minister's statement we are thankful. It is well to know that, after a very long period of consideration, the Minister has realised that the amounts paid to the dependents of people in receipt of unemployment insurance have been entirely too low. The small increases which have been granted in that respect go at least to show that there is some realisation of the great injustice and continued wrong over a long period to which people in that position have been subjected hitherto. It is not, of course, true to say that extra grants in the way of vouchers of food are being given to old age pensioners, widowers, and dependents of persons in receipt of unemployment assistance. The proposals, as I understand them and as I have been informed about them, are very far short of doing anything of the kind. They are being confined to urban areas, and the people in the rural districts are entirely excluded from the benefits. Surely at the present time, if a scheme of that kind is to be worth anything it must have national application, and before it comes into force I ask the Minister earnestly to reconsider this matter and bring proposals to this House or deal with it otherwise—I think he has indicated that he proposes to deal with it otherwise—so as to enable the people in the rural areas to benefit by it.

The method of granting assistance to people of that kind by way of food vouchers is a most unfortunate one. The operation of such schemes through the agency of the boards of health and the assistance officers is a singularly unhappy method—it is a reflection on the housekeeping ability and the worth of the people concerned in managing their little affairs, to say to them that they could not be trusted with money allowances in respect of whatever little increases they will get.

Furthermore, as one having a great deal of experience of the working of a board of health, I say that the giving of assistance of this kind in the way that a board gives it between one meeting and another to the poor, as provisional assistance or by food vouchers, almost inevitably means that the persons concerned cannot get the best value out of it. It affords them no assistance in meeting the other charges that are recurring problems. I suggest, therefore, that the allowances referred to be paid in cash and I suggest that, after fully considering the view point of the Government in this particular connection—that it is the amount of food and the particular food that will matter in the future. I should like to know whether it is permissible on this Vote to refer to the unemployment insurance and unemployment assistance. I know that they are separate Votes but I seem to recollect that, in former years, all the Votes were discussed at the same time.

I think that would be the most convenient procedure— to discuss the subject matter of all the Votes on this Vote.

Before I pass on to the matters with which I am concerned, I want to say—and this is not for the purpose of attacking the Minister—that I very sincerely regret, which regret must be shared by other members of the House, that we spent two or three weeks in discussing a measure recently which could, under no circumstances, be regarded as urgent, while we have not been able to give any considerable amount of time to the urgent problems that exist and which are reflected in the figure of 60,000 persons on the live register— a figure that would be immensely increased were it not for the large number of persons taken into our Defence Forces, the number of persons who have gone to England, incurring the risk of maiming and injury, as well as the risk to their life, to get employment, and the large number of able-bodied men who are being conscripted by hunger and want into the ranks of the British Army to fight in a war in which they have no interest and in which they only engage because they have been denied a living in their own country.

One begins to despair of the future of this country when proposals for the relief of unemployment are left to enterprising and well-disposed organisations. I do not say that by way of reflecting on what has been done in that way; I think it has been well done. But if we can have no greater national approach to this question of poverty and want than that made by Judge Wylie, the Mount Street Club and various organisations in this country, then we might well say "God save Ireland," because it will be necessary for some agency other than this House, and this Government, to step in and save the country from the catastrophe which is otherwise bound to overtake us. The situation which gives us a huge number of idle people, ready to work, with opportunity for absorbing their labour, and a continuation of the policy of inaction which separates the unemployed workmen from the labour which is at hand for them to do, represents a grave indictment of the Minister and of this House as a Parliament that legislates wisely for the country, which ought to be the first function of Parliament.

Regarding the question of unemployment assistance, I want to repeat a complaint I have made in this House more than once as to the unsatisfactory method that has been adopted in dealing with assessments of means. The question is not, so far as the rural areas are concerned, an urgent one now, and an opportunity is provided to deal with the matter in a proper way. The applicant for unemployment assistance ought to be informed of the basis on which his means are calculated. The same applies in the case of assessment of means for old age pensions and widows' pensions. The applicant should be given an opportunity to rebut whatever statements are submitted officially regarding his means. I am entirely unconvinced by any explanation I have heard so far, that an entirely fictitious standard has not been set up in calculating the means of a large number of applicants for unemployment assistance. I want to repeat, too, the complaint that there has been too much delay in notifying decisions in these cases. This was the subject of discussion before, and I, as well as other members of the House, have had correspondence with the Minister on the subject. A great improvement ought to be effected in the clearing of cases of that kind and in notifying members of this House and others interested of the decisions taken. That is not outside the region of reasonable practicability, and I press that viewpoint on the Minister.

I am wondering how up-to-date is the information of the Minister's Department as regards certain matters. I asked a question some time ago about the number of registered unemployed in part of my constituency, which is off the mainland—Bere Island. Bere Island, as some members of the House know, is a well-defined area. It is entirely surrounded by water and there could be no difficulty in establishing that fact, which is a geographical fact, entirely unassailable. In the reply which I received to that question, I was referred to the number of people on Bere Island and reference was made to the possible population of all the other islands in the neighbourhood. I have tried—whether I have succeeded or not I do not know—to convince the Department that the other islands referred to were just barren rocks which had never been inhabited. They were never inhabited by anything more than birds. To mention places of that kind for the purpose of unemployment returns would seem to me to be nothing more than putting up a smokescreen, as there was never a living soul in residence on some of these islands. There is no purpose in evasion of that kind. I cannot understand why a State Department should make a laughing-stock of itself in this way, to the knowledge of everybody locally who knows the facts.

It seems to me that from whatever aspect one wants to examine this Vote, no case can be made for the Minister. He has been found wanting in this respect. If the Minister has any doubt that that is the viewpoint of the ordinary citizen, the person one meets in the rural districts and in the small towns and villages, he can easily ascertain what that viewpoint is. I think he will have no difficulty in ascertaining that the people who expected some approach, some leadership, some effort from him in facing the present menacing position have concluded that up to the present there has been no sign of that approach. The Minister's statement to-day confirms that view. I do not think the Minister is entitled to this Vote on the case he made and, therefore, I am moving that it be referred back for reconsideration.

I formally second the motion, reserving the right to speak later.

Listening to the Minister's comments on the report of the Drainage Commission, I felt that I never listened to a greater piece of economic heresy. His approach to the consideration of the commission's report was typical of Fianna Fáil's approach to the whole problem of unemployment. He merely looked at it from the employment utility aspect and he condemned national drainage on the grounds that its cost of £250,000 annually——

I did nothing of the sort.

The Minister condemned it on the grounds that an expenditure of that magnitude imposed on every class in the community would not be justified, viewed from the aspect of the amount of employment in the rural districts it would afford, namely, 1,000 men each year.

I did not say anything like that.

A proper approach to the unemployment problem will not be made by looking for the type of work that will absorb the greatest number of unemployed, irrespective of what type that work is. The Minister said, in relation to work of low utility—I took down what he said, word for word——

That has nothing to do with the drainage recommendations.

The Minister was talking about drainage.

No, I was not.

Then, what were you talking about?

About a hypothetical work of low utility.

You were talking about work arising out of the Drainage Commission's report.

The Deputy had better get the report of my speech.

Dealing with unemployment, we must approach it mainly from the point of view of production. If we are going to find a permanent solution for unemployment, it can only be found through the medium of increased production. I stress that point in approaching the problem of drainage. The Minister overlooked the fact that arterial drainage might improve a considerable amount of land.

Did I not say that?

Not only would it give employment in the actual work of arterial drainage, but there would be a considerable volume of work on field drainage as well and, incidental to the opening up of field drainage, it might mean bringing a considerable area of land into production and cultivation. The Minister seemed to overlook that aspect. I regard the farm improvement scheme, which was in operation for the first time last year, as a very useful scheme, but that scheme cannot be made a complete success without some sort of arterial drainage. Most of the money spent under that scheme went on field drainage and that work cannot be properly done if there is not a proper fall for the field drainage. When we talk about national drainage, we have in mind mainly the construction of a suitable fall which will enable farmers to complete the drainage of their lands and bring those lands later into production. The natural corollary to good drainage work is increased production and, in turn, that brings about increased employment.

Huge sums of money have been spent during the last ten years on works which were mostly of an unproductive nature, works that gave little return to the State. Those works were a heavy drain on the financial resources of the country and they never could hope permanently to solve unemployment. In fact, those works had almost the reverse effect; the State was getting no return out of the work done and, at the same time, it was becoming poorer. We must approach this problem mainly through the medium of production. We should talk far more about production as the real solution for unemployment because, if we get the increased production, the unemployment problem will largely be solved. I was disgusted with the Minister's outlook on drainage. What he said was the height of economic heresy.

It is quite clear the Deputy either did not hear or did not understand.

The Minister knows nothing at all about it.

The Deputy seems to know very little about what I said.

The Minister did not know what he was talking about. There was one important matter that I thought the Minister would refer to, and that is, how soon he will be able to get the Mineral Development Company into operation? This country is deeply concerned with food production. We were lucky enough to have a certain amount of artificial manure this year. In some cases we had not quite enough, but, on the whole, we fared pretty well. So far as one can see, we will have very little next year unless something is now done about it. We have phosphate rock deposit in County Clare, and, since the inception of the emergency, it has been mentioned on numerous occasions here. Questions were submitted in relation to it, and it has been discussed on Votes for various Departments. The Government have been asked what they are doing about it. We are within three months of next winter's sowing period, and nothing has been done about the development of our phosphate resources. I submitted a question to the Minister recently, and his reply showed that he knew very little about it, but he informed us that the phosphates there were not as rich as North African phosphates, and were not as soluble, and we would require more of the Clare phosphates than we would of the North African phosphates. I do not know what it is going to cost, but as a farmer I know that there is a lot of land in this country that will give a very poor return if it is put into cultivation without any artificial manure.

In the old tillage districts especially, we shall be facing a very serious situation next year if we have to try to produce crops without any artificial manure, particularly the basic manure, superphosphate. We have raw material here; it is a most important matter that it should be utilised to stimulate food production next year, and this is the time we ought to be on our toes about it if anything is to be done. Precious time is being lost. In another three months the season will be upon us, but the Minister, as far as I can see, is quite indifferent about it. He made no reference to the problem, good, bad or indifferent, this evening. It has certainly been agitating and worrying my mind for the last few months, and I have asked a number of questions about it. I have brought it to the Minister's notice. I have tried to get a move on as far as the Minister is concerned. Whether he fails to appreciate the gravity of the situation, or what is wrong, I do not know, but I do know that nothing has been done about it up to date.

I should like to point out that normally our supplies of sulphuric acid are derived from imported pyrites. I should like to know from the Minister whether it is possible to import pyrites and, if not, whether any consideration has been given to the manufacture of sulphuric acid from gypsum. In Subhead M (4) of this Estimate a sum of £3,000 is provided for a research laboratory. In that connection, I should like to know whether any examination has been given to the question of the manufacture of sulphuric acid from gypsum or whether it is possible to import the pyrites necessary for the manufacture of sulphuric acid, because if we are going to deal with large quantities of phosphate rock, particularly rock of a hard nature— and our rock is definitely much harder than North African rock—we should certainly require large quantities of sulphuric acid. Again, has any consideration been given by the Research Council to the production of nitrate of lime here? We have the raw materials here; we have the limestone, we have the anthracite and we have the electricity. I do not know what it would cost to provide a plant for the production of nitrate of lime, but that is certainly another problem that calls for examination. If we have no manure in the form of nitrate for poor land the result will be a very serious falling off in production.

Take again the question of potash. We were told by the Parliamentary Secretary, who deals with the Gaeltacht services, that something was being done about the manufacture of potash from seaweed. What progress has been made in that direction? We have not got any information so far. If the Minister is dealing with the matter, I should like to know what is being done and what measure of success has been achieved. Are we likely to get any great quantity of potash from seaweed? To my mind, these are matters of the very gravest importance at the present time, and they ought to engage the Minister's immediate attention. First of all he should see that we get all the basic manure, superphosphate, that we can manufacture because even if it is of poorer quality than the North African phosphate it is better than nothing at all. It is better to try to secure a profitable yield from poor land with the assistance of artificial manure than to attempt to produce crops off that land when we know that it cannot give a satisfactory yield without the addition of some form of plant food. If it is discovered that Clare phosphate is not soluble in the 2 per cent. citric solution, which is the equivalent to soil conditions, or if its solubility is much lower than North African phosphate, to counteract that slower effect the farmer will have to be asked to apply it to the soil three or four months earlier than normally. That slowness in solubility can be counteracted by an earlier application to the soil. The Minister for that reason will appreciate the necessity of getting anything we are able to get on the market as early as possible, so that it can be applied as soon as possible to the land. Here, however, we are in the month of July and nothing so far has been done about it. I should like the Minister when he is replying to give us the full facts of the case, to state when the new company is likely to start operations, what the production is likely to be and what supply we may hope for next year.

The Minister gave us some figures about coal production. I think he told us that in the Arigna district production of coal had been doubled and that the output of anthracite in other districts had been increased. A short time ago the possibility of developing the old coal deposits in the Munster coalfields and also the Leinster coalfields around Carlow was brought to the Minister's notice. While I realise that the coal in some of these fields is of rather doubtful quality, that the seams are very thin and probably faulty, it struck me, having regard to the emergency situation and the very serious shortage of fuel we are experiencing, that some of these fields or the outcrops of them might be well worth working. The outcrops in the Carlow-Kilkenny area and also in the Munster coalfields could be worked. The possibility of working these outcrops is, I suggest, well worth examination. In fact, it might prove more useful fuel than turf. To my mind, turf is going to prove expensive. When dealing with the question of coal, Deputy Morrissey expressed his anxiety as to our inability to provide transport for turf during this slack period. We are approaching the busy period. Before long we shall have the harvest with us. After it, we shall require all the transport available for the removal of grain, and later for the beet campaign. I can understand the order that has been made prohibiting the moving of turf from the turf areas to the non-turf counties. If that were to be permitted without restriction, the transportation required would eat up enormous quantities of fuel, and naturally that would add to our transport difficulties.

In peace time we imported coal. As all our large centres of population are on the coast, one might say that no transport was required for it. The coal was landed from the boats in the different cities and towns. With the limited amount of petrol that is available, it would not be possible at the present time to permit of the transport of turf from the turf areas to the non-turf counties. Before any of that turf is released under licence, it will be necessary to find out what quantity of coal we are likely to get during the coming year, or if there is any hope of making a deal with the British in the matter of securing coal supplies. In a letter to the newspapers recently, the manager of Messrs. Sutton's, a big coal-importing firm in Cork, stated that in the last two or three weeks he had been over at the other side trying to secure coal supplies for Cork. He suggested that a deputation of coal importers, accompanied by one of our Ministers, should go to England and see what could be done in the way of getting supplies of coal released.

Before he wrote that letter he naturally must have satisfied himself, from what he had seen in the South Wales coal area, that the coal is there and that it is only a question of getting it released. I think his suggestion is worthy of consideration and that the Government should do something about it. I do not think the Government can decide what quantity of turf can be released, or will be necessary in Dublin and other big centres of population during the coming winter, until they know the quantity of coal that we are likely to be able to import. If that quantity is likely to be sufficient to meet the needs of Dublin City then there may be no necessity to bring turf to Dublin, and in that way we may be able to save a good deal of fuel on transport. We need to be very careful, because only very limited supplies of petrol and fuel oil are available. There will be big demands on both after the harvest when the grain has to be shifted off farms into the stores and when, later, the beet has to be removed from the fields to the factory.

We read the announcement in the newspapers yesterday that passenger train services on the Great Southern system are being curtailed in order to conserve coal supplies. I do not approve of the way in which the curtailment is being made. Some train services are being retained that might possibly be knocked off, while some have been knocked off that I think should be kept on. In the case of districts 60 or 70 miles from Dublin, the evening train will now leave an hour or an hour and a half earlier than heretofore. That appears to me to be unreasonable. If a person travels that distance to do business in the city he likes to have a full day to enable him to do his business. For such people there should be an early and a late train. For people who come to Dublin on business an early and a late train service ought to be maintained. I would also suggest to the Minister that railway and bus services ought to be "staggered". It is ricidulous to see a train and a bus service running simultaneously. That still happens. If the train service is curtailed, then I suggest that train and bus services, as far as possible, be "staggered". If there is an early train service to a district, there ought to be a midday bus service. Generally speaking, such a service ought to be provided as will ensure that people who come to Dublin in the early morning will be able to get home that night.

In conclusion, I again desire to stress the importance of getting supplies of artificial manure for next year and of getting them as early as possible. We shall soon be approaching the winter sowing period. We have the material for superphosphates, and that more than anything else is necessary. The Minister ought to get a move on about this matter now.

There are just a few small points that I want to refer to. The Minister still retains on the Estimate a sum of money for expenses in connection with the Prices Commission. There is a note which says that its functions generally are under the control of the Minister for Supplies. In that connection a question was asked here about a fortnight ago with regard to the prices of boots and woollens. The statement made was that the prices were under supervision all the time, and that recent supervision had led to a lowering of prices. The effect of the statement made was that, generally speaking in regard to boots and woollen clothes, prices were lower in the last 12 months than previously—not that they had been brought back to the pre-war figure. Deputy Dillon raised this matter referring to boot prices. He gave a series of boot prices and of "numbers" of boots which have a certain significance in the trade and which definitely showed an increase. I have before me a list of materials as supplied to the tailors of this city, and I wonder how it is possible to reconcile the prices I have here with the statement made that prices on the whole are lower than what they had been. I take a particular type of cloth manufactured by Messrs. Clayton of Navan; the trade number is 221. The price per yard in September, 1939, was 12/9. In 1940 it had risen to 14/3, and by August of that year it was 17/6. It had risen during the year 1940 from 14/3 to 17/6. There is another cloth, trade number 215, manufactured by Messrs. Morrogh Brothers, Cork, and the movement of it is: September, 1939, 13/3, rising to 15/9 in March, 1940, and in June of this year, 1941, to 17/9. It has gone up as between September, 1939, and June of this year from 13/3 to 17/9 per yard.

And there has been no increase in wages in the meantime.

There is said to be no increase in the price of the cloth, which is what I am at at the moment. Messrs. Morrogh Brothers, Cork, manufacture, a fancy worsted, trade No. 527, which stood at 14/- a yard in April, 1940, and by January, 1941, had gone up half a crown. Another material, black Vicuna, trade No. 1139, manufactured also by Messrs. Morrogh Brothers, has moved, as between January, 1940, and January, 1941, from 11/6 per yard to 15/4 per yard. A certain type of worsted manufactured by Messrs. Mahony of Cork moved from 13/6 per yard up to 16/-. The only case I can find of a reduction is the case of a certain Cork firm who were apparently brought before the Prices Commission, not for having increased the price of their cloths at all, but for having increased them too much. A certain type of blue serge which used to be sold at 7/8 rose by degrees to 8/3, to 10/6, to 11/3, to 11/10, to 12/2, and finally reached 13/-.

At that point the people were brought before the Prices Commission, and the price was compulsorily reduced from 13/- to 11/3, but the original price was 7/8. I am giving these facts, because it is not possible to put the details of these in Parliamentary question and hope to get an answer that will deal with the details. I gave these prices as they have been given to me by the merchant tailors of the city here. They were brought to me because there was a statement made by the Minister for Supplies in the House that in regard to cloths—he also mentioned with regard to boots—there had been a lowering of prices on the whole this year, and although he did take away from the statement that there was anything like an approach to pre-war prices, the impression left on the public mind was that, if tailors were charging more for suits, they could not relate any great part of the increase to an increased price they were paying for the raw materials. I give these particulars to the Minister, and I ask him to have them examined and to see whether they are true. I can give him the details in the greatest particularity —prices of cloths, types of cloths, and range. I have given him the run of the prices as I have them here, and I certainly say that they must make anybody very suspicious with regard to the statement made as to prices.

There is one other matter, a somewhat delicate matter, which impinges somewhat upon people who are not supposed to be discussed here. They are not being discussed, I think, in any of the capacities in which discussion is precluded. The Minister carries in his Vote here moneys that are to be expended under the provisions of the Minerals Exploration and Development Company Act. A case has been brought under my notice where a person got a licence under that Act, and in the course of the prospecting under the licence he trespassed upon another person's land. Of course, that having been brought to his notice—whether it was in the original licence or not I do not know—the situation was rectified so as to give him a right-of-way over the second person's land; but in the course of operating his right-of-way he used to leave gates open, and cattle began to wander around the land. Eventually, things came to a head when certain damage was done to the property. Application was made to the licensee, who holds the licence from the Government for exploration, to see if he would remedy this. He proposes now to get this man's land, the land over which he had only a right-of-way. He proposes to get a further licence to exploit that land. That might be tolerable enough in an ordinary citizen, but when the person is a judge of the Circuit Court, I think it is something that amounts to a scandal. I suggest to the Minister that if we have a Constitution which states that judges on appointment are to receive no other emoluments than those peculiar to their office, and may not hold any other office or position that brings them in any money, it is somewhat in breach of the spirit of that if under this Act his Department gives a licence to a person who is a judge, which enables that judge to get a right-of-way over another person's land, and eventually to try to seize that person's land, simply because a request is made to deal with the land in a proper way.

If it is suggested that the phrase that is in the Constitution does not cover a person getting a licence to work for minerals over another person's land, then, of course, we are opening a door very wide. If that principle be allowed to go, one of these days we may have a Circuit Court judge running a draper's shop in some town in his own circuit or, maybe, running a public house in his own circuit. I suggest that that latter would certainly be regarded as a highly undesirable development. I do not see how you can stop that if you are going to allow people in that capacity to come in before the Minister's Department or before a committee, under this Act, and get a licence to prospect over other people's property—naturally for the good of the particular gentleman who has got the licence. I think there is not more than one judge who has a licence of this type, but I think the Minister should bring this licence to an end as speedily as possible. I do not think the country would like to contemplate the position that people in that walk of life would be allowed to get licences and to operate in the way this man is doing, or to operate at all. I would ask the Minister to have the matter looked into.

I was listening to the Minister with interest trying to convey to the House what is being done for the unemployed and their dependents. He stressed the fact that the supplementary assistance that was to be given to unemployed men's dependents was to start in a few weeks' time, notwithstanding the fact that it was announced that they were to be paid as from the 19th June. It would be interesting to hear from the Minister what justification there is for not giving an increase in the allowance paid to unemployed men, while agreeing to give something to the unemployed men's dependents. It would be interesting to know from the Minister what is the Government's point of view and why it is that single persons who are in receipt of unemployment assistance at the moment are not to get any increase whatever under these supplementary increases. The one thing about the unemployed and the treatment of the unemployed is that they have lost their place in the family relations, so to speak. We have been told that everything that is done by the Government is being done from the viewpoint of the family. The important thing to remember in these scales of benefits is that it appears to be the settled policy of the Government in dealing with the unemployment problem to punish a man because he is committing the crime of being unemployed for a longer period than his fellow man, and if he continues to commit that crime of being unemployed the punishment is increased and is continually increased. A man who becomes unemployed will receive 35/-unemployment insurance if he has five children. At the end of six months he is cut off that insurance and put on to unemployment assistance. He will get a lesser sum under unemployment assistance than he got under the unemployment insurance. That means that the man who is the victim of unemployment is punished for being so long unemployed.

I should like to hear from the Minister on what grounds that scheme of things is arrived at. Surely a man who is unemployed has no control whatever over the means by which he might get employment. Is it not brutal, therefore, to punish him because he is unemployed over a long period? Can anyone tell me that he has any means of increasing his opportunities of employment? Should he then be punished because he has no control over those things?

On the question of the unemployed in the rural areas, it is a rather sad thing to find that a man in the rural areas is getting only 14/- a week for himself and his wife and five or more children, and the Minister decides that that amount is not to be increased. He said this evening that those supplementary payments will be made by Order rather than by any means which would give us an opportunity of discussing the figures. I should like to know how much longer we are going to treat in that way those decent, sober and industrious men who are anxious to work to maintain their families? How long more do we expect them to remain cheerful and quiet, when they see abundance all about them and are kept from enjoying that abundance? I want to say to the Minister that the position is a very serious one. It is well that the Minister should realise that there is a good deal of resentment and despair concerning the whole economic system under which we live. We heard the Minister making a long statement about the danger of embarking on schemes which would not be productive; in other words if those things cannot be done at a profit there is going to be no employment. I would remind the Minister that the wealth of a nation does not consist of the gold in our banks or the entries on the bankers' ledgers. It consists of the capacity of the people of the nation to produce goods, their capacity to consume goods, and their capacity to exchange their surplus goods for materials from other countries. I would say to the Minister and to anybody else who is thinking like him that if all the bank notes and gold were sunk to the bottom of the sea, this country would still go on, and perhaps go on better than it is going on at the present time. If all our money were done away with, production and distribution would still go on. If the farming community and the workers as a whole stood idle, those who control our wealth and currency and credit would disappear for ever. As I have said, production and distribution would go on without money, but without the workers the money would be useless.

The Minister has talked to us here to-night as if we were a lot of boys in school, telling us what were the principles of economics. He may talk to me as long as he likes about the principles of economics, but to me they crumble into dust before the abundance of goods which are kept from the people owing to what are known as economic laws. I want to say to the Minister and to the Government that there is going to be in this country a very strong revolt against this economic system. I should like to hear the Minister deal with this problem of unemployment from an entirely different angle to that from which he has approached it this evening. Speaking, I think, on a Money Resolution three or four weeks ago, he told us that there would be no yarn spun, that there would not be an ounce of food produced, nor, I think he mentioned, a ton of turf produced, unless the people were going to get a profit out of it. If that is so, there will be no production unless there is a profit. I often wonder why it is that the air we breathe and the sun we enjoy cannot be controlled. Then of course there would be no air to breathe and no sun to enjoy unless those who controlled it made a profit. I want to express my regret and disappointment at the way in which the Minister has dealt with the unemployment problem, and with the whole economic position of the country.

He mentioned the question of our harbour authorities and their financial condition. I was one of a delegation which approached the Minister some time ago looking for assistance for the harbour authorities in Cork. We pointed out that the position in regard to Cork harbour was rather difficult owing to the fact that we had no shipping. We came to the Minister and to the Government asking for a loan of £50,000 to help us to carry on some very important and necessary work, such as the building of quays and jetties to meet the situation which will arise when the war is over. After a period of three months we got a reply from the Minister stating that he was unable to give us that financial assistance, and stating that he was not able to do so because other boards might look for similar treatment. We returned, and consulted the banking institutions in Cork, but we were informed that they could not see their way to grant us the sum of money we required unless we got Government securities. We had a long lecture from the Minister to-day about the danger of embarking on certain schemes. Here we have necessary national work to do in preparation for the future. We have the materials to do it, and have men standing idle and ready to do it; the only obstacle is this thing called money. We cannot do this necessary and important work because we have not the money to do it. Yet, the Minister says that we must put the people at work which will give us a return. I agree that we do not want to put men to work on schemes which will be useless and futile, but when necessary and useful work is ready to our hand it should be carried out. I want to suggest to the Minister that the social and economic problems which are with us to-day are due to the fact that we are thinking as we are, and to the fact that we are voting as we are. I believe that this financial system is dying slowly and surely, and the sooner it dies and gives way to a more equitable system the sooner will the people not alone of this country but of other countries achieve the justice and peace of which the world is so much in need. The present financial system has got to change, because money cannot remain the dominating factor over the lives of our people. We have been told that employment would have to be provided on the basis of production. I agree, but there is no use in producing if we have not also the means of distribution. I want to tell the Minister that if he intends to deal with the unemployment problem in this country he will have to forget some of the old and outworn ideas that he has about the question of controlling credit.

In the course of the Minister's speech introducing this Estimate, I understood him to say that the total production of anthracite coal in this country last year—I think it was last year he referred to—was 100,000 tons.

It is hoped that it will be 100,000 tons in the current year.

That is the estimated production?

Well, that is a rather interesting figure. I am speaking from recollection, but I think I am accurate when I say that the last figures we had showed that the imports of anthracite coal were 92,000 tons. Now, anthracite coal has become of increasing importance in this country, and I should be glad if the Minister could tell us, when he is replying on this Estimate, why it is that even in this year, the second year of the war, our production of anthracite coal, which is so badly needed, is limited to 100,000 tons. I understand, from figures that were given by the Minister himself in this House recently, that it is estimated that in one coal mine in this country alone there are between 4,000,000 and 5,000,000 tons of anthracite. I refer to Castlecomer. That is a mine that is working, and if there are 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 tons of anthracite coal in that mine, why is our output limited to 100,000 tons from all the mines in the country?

It is a well-known fact that the anthracite coal produced in Castlecomer is at least equal to the best anthracite imported from abroad. It is further a well-known fact that at periods of the year, often fairly long periods, there is practically no output whatever from Castlecomer. What the reasons are I do not know, but I do suggest that steps should have been taken, either by the present management themselves or, if necessary, with assistance from the State, to produce from that stock of 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 tons of anthracite, a tonnage, certainly far in excess of that mentioned by the Minister. The Minister also referred to the company that has been formed for the development of the mines at Slievardagh. I should like him, when he is replying, to be a little more definite on that matter and tell us whether he is in a position to intimate to the House when work is likely to start at Slievardagh, whether he has any information which would enable him to indicate to us that there is a prospect of coal being produced by this coal mining company during this year or, if not during this year, whether there is a prospect of its being done early next year.

The Minister's speech was, to say the least of it, a doleful one. He was not optimistic. He was not even hopeful. He was least hopeful of all when he was dealing with the employment position, and he rather suggested that he resented people in this House suggesting that the solution of the unemployment problem was easy to find. I do not know that any member of the House—certainly any member on this side of the House—ever suggested that the solution of the unemployment problem was an easy one. Any time that was ever suggested, it came from people on the far side of the House. We are, however, in what is to me, at any rate, an extraordinary situation. We have heard, for a long number of years, that we could feed half the world. We are, this year and, so far as one can see, next year, in danger of not being able to feed ourselves. That is understandable and can be appreciated by anybody who realises the difficulties of importing raw materials and of getting into this country the things which we are not in a position to produce ourselves, but it is not so readily understandable why we cannot produce in sufficient quantities the things which can be produced in our own country. The materials are there, the ground is there, and the men are there. Still, we are not able to produce enough. It is doubtful, to say the least of it, if we will have enough food produced in this country this year for human consumption. It is extremely doubtful if there will be enough food produced in this country for animal consumption, and I think it is beyond any shadow of a doubt that we will be unable to produce enough fuel.

We are told, in respect of most of the commodities to which I have referred, that the shortage is due largely to the fact that the men are not available for the work. I want to return to a matter that I have raised more than once in this House, and I raise it now because I think the Department of Industry and Commerce is primarily responsible. We have at the moment somewhere in the neighbourhood of 50,000 unemployed. Let us say that we have 40,000 men unemployed even at the present moment. Side by side with that we have county surveyors looking for men to produce more turf, and they say they cannot get them. We have farmers looking for men to save hay, and they say they cannot get them, and we know that within the next four or five weeks farmers all over the country will be looking for men to save the harvest, and they probably shall have the same story to tell then. Now, on the face of it, there must be something radically wrong, and it is inconceivable to me that if this Government were facing up to its responsibilities, active men, married men—many of them living in the urban areas and cities of this country—should be compelled to try to eke out an existence not only for themselves but for their wives and families on a maximum of 14/- a week when they could be earning at least 30/- a week and at the same time contributing their very valuable quota to the work that is so necessary if we are to produce anything approaching our requirements.

I know that I shall be told that there are difficulties. Of course there are difficulties, and I know quite well—as well as the Minister or anybody else can tell me—that it is not possible to get all of the 40,000 men and shove them either on to a bog or on to a farm. I know that. But I assert, from my knowledge of those men who are even to-day lining up at the labour exchanges in the cities and urban areas of this country—and other Deputies could assert the same from their knowledge—that a very big proportion, if not a big majority, of these 40,000 could be usefully employed, certainly for the next two or three months, with advantage both to themselves and to the nation.

This problem is not as difficult as it may appear on the surface, nor is it as difficult as the Minister may wish to make it appear, because there is a complete register available of every unemployed man and of every man who was unemployed for the last few years. There is a card index to show every man's name, whether he is married or single, what his occupation was, and the number of his dependents, etc., fully classified for the whole of the country. Yet with that available there are many men to-day who are trying to support themselves and three, four, five, six or seven children on 14/- per week, who could be earning and should be earning, both for their own sake and for the sake of the nation, at least 30/- per week.

The Minister seemed to get a good deal of consolation from the fact that there are about 3,000 fewer unemployed in the urban areas than there were at this time last year. The Minister can find very little consolation in that fact. I do not know the exact number who were unemployed in the urban and city areas and who are now working temporarily in the bogs, but I can safely assert that it would be far in excess of 3,000.

One striking aspect of the Minister's speech dealing with the question of employment and unemployment was that there seems to be no plan, no scheme, no approach even to a scheme for providing not only for the present situation, but for the appalling situation we shall find ourselves in at the end of the emergency. At the end of the emergency, even according to the Minister himself to-day, we shall find ourselves with a very big proportion unemployed of those who are to-day in very useful employment. We shall find ourselves with about 40,000 men who are now in the Army, and who will not be required in the Army at that period. Very probably we shall find ourselves with thousands of men—I will not put it any higher than thousands—at the end of the war period returning here from war work upon which they were engaged in Great Britain or from the British Army. If the Government are unable to face up to the problem as it presents itself at the moment, what hope can we have that they will be able to face up to what the problem is likely to be at the end of the emergency? I suppose we should not be very terribly surprised at the picture I have painted. I suppose it is unreasonable to expect that a Government that was unable to make any contribution whatever to this problem during normal times could possibly contribute anything to it in the abnormal circumstances under which we live to-day. It would not be unfair to say that the Minister's contribution to-day to this question of employment, production, and unemployment was a confession of absolute failure and, I might say, a gospel of despair.

I do not want to be continually raising this matter, but it is a very important matter. I think any Deputy will admit that if, on the one hand, you have, as we have, plenty of work available in the country, and if, on the other hand, you have men willing to work and able to work lining up at the labour exchanges, and you do not succeed in bringing those two together, there is something radically wrong. I would ask farmer Deputies, who know more about this business than I do, to ask themselves how easy it would be to lose a crop, particularly a crop of wheat, if you had broken weather during the harvest, and you had to cut the wheat and to try to save it, and found yourself unable to get the necessary labour. Farmer Deputies know that you could lose a whole crop of wheat in 24 hours. That is a risk that we cannot afford to take. I say that, if the Minister was doing his job, no farmer should be in a position to say that he wanted a man and could not get him as long as there is an unemployed man in this country willing and able to work.

The Minister made a lot of other points that one could deal with, and probably would deal with in a normal year. I do not want to go into them now. I just want to make the point about the position, as I see it, as clearly and as briefly as I can. It is a very important point; it is a matter that brooks of no delay. We have a tremendous amount to produce and to save, and we have only a very short time in which to do it. If the maximum production is to be got—and I think it is admitted on all sides that even our maximum this year will not be sufficient—and if it is to be saved in the way it ought to be, we certainly would not have anything like 40,000 men lining up at the labour exchanges.

Mr. Byrne

So long as there are 10,000 people getting relief from the Dublin Board of Assistance I must continue to protest against the Government's inadequate effort to deal with unemployment in this city. About £5,000 a week is being paid to these 10,000 people by the Dublin ratepayers, and even at that the allowances are totally inadequate. All these people are desirous of getting work. That shows that the Government have not awakened to their responsibility to the unemployed in this city. Other Deputies have spoken about country districts, and mentioned the scarcity of labour on farms. I stated last week that I had read in an evening paper that 2,000 men, who were anxiously waiting for work, had left Mayo for the potato fields of Scotland. It was pointed out in the report that they were men with practical experience of turf cutting, yet we have the position that there is a scarcity of fuel not only in Dublin, but all over the country. Reference has been made by some Deputies to mineral development, and one might ask whether the Government were utilising to the full the brains of experts here who could help them in that respect if they got some encouragement. It has been announced in the newspapers that the train service is to be reduced, but that the Drumm train will continue to work. I wonder if the services of Dr. Drumm and others are being used to the full extent to develop our resources. There is a scarcity of petrol at present, and there has been talk during the week that supplies of oils will be short for threshing purposes. Is it not a fact that Dr. Drumm and others are at present engaged on investigations—and I believe with success—in an effort to find a substitute for petrol? If the Government would pay serious attention to development of that kind, and to the advice of those engaged on it, we might look forward with a little more confidence to having the necessary oils of which farmers complain there is now a shortage. I avail of this opportunity to protest against the Government's failure to allow certain parish councils to get licences to bring turf into the city. This matter was raised before.

Yes, and on another Vote.

Mr. Byrne

I do not intend to touch on it further, except to say that it is one to which the Minister should pay attention. At a time when some of our people have fireless grates, and empty teapots, and the cost of living increasing, I see no effort being made to remedy the position. There is growing discontent, especially in the city, because this House is not paying sufficient attention to the situation, or is not finding remedies to ease the hardships which the poor are bearing. I express the hope that the Government may be able to find employment for those who have lost their work owing to the present emergency. Many people are getting only an odd day's work recently, as well known Dublin factories which always gave good employment have had to go on short-time. I earnestly appeal to the Minister to try to have that state of affairs remedied, so that these people may be able to resume full-time employment, to keep their families and be in a position to meet the rapidly increasing cost of living.

The unexpected overnight change in the Parliamentary programme prevented me, unfortunately, from having an opportunity of hearing the Minister's statement but I heard from my colleagues that it was a very depressing one, and that no indication whatever was given by the Minister that he had any plan for finding work for the registered unemployed, or for the greater problem, of which he must be aware, of finding suitable relief schemes to provide employment during the coming winter. The registered number of unemployed is, in my opinion, abnormally low at present, because very large numbers of our young people have joined our national Defence Forces, and also, according to the information at my disposal, an extremely large number have joined the British Army and Navy, and in addition, the Minister knows better than any Deputy, that large numbers have gone to England, particularly during the last three months, to find work there that they were unable to get at home. I do not know what the position would be, or what the number of unemployed persons on the register would be, if such large numbers of men were not required for the defence forces here during the emergency, or if those who are now in the British Army and Navy, or working in England had remained at home. The Minister ought to have some idea of the problem that will confront himself and his colleagues when the emergency ceases.

I wonder if he could venture to give any figures as to the numbers that would be thrown on the unemployment register if our young citizens were demobilised from our defence forces, as well as the others who joined the British Army and Navy or who went away within the past few months to England. I believe the Minister must have machinery at his disposal that would enable him to give some idea of the problem that he will be facing at the end of the present world war, as far as providing for the unemployed is concerned. Every Party in this House is willing and anxious to assist the Minister and the Government in facing up to this problem, but the lead must be given by the Minister, because he has the authority of the people, and the machinery of the State at his disposal to solve it.

As far as I am aware the Minister seems to think that the problem will have to be solved under the existing system. We had repeated assurances from the head of the Government, particularly in 1932, that if he could not solve unemployment under the existing system, then he would go outside that system for the purpose of doing so. I daresay the opinion then expressed by the head of the Government was shared by the present Minister for Industry and Commerce, who was at that time in charge of the Department of Finance. Nobody can suggest proposals of a practical nature unless there is some indication from the Government, and particularly from the Minister for Finance, as to what the financial policy of the Government is, or is likely to be, arising out of the reports submitted by the Banking Commission. The solution of unemployment and every other problem associated with it depends on the adoption of a progressive financial policy by the Government. I was amazed yesterday, in answer to a question put to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, dealing with a proposal passed by the majority of the House on December 12th last, to set up a commission to advise the Government regarding the provision of suitable work for unemployed people, although seven months have passed, to hear the Minister stating that the terms of reference and the members of the commission have not yet been finally dealt with. If it takes seven months for the Minister to make up his mind about the terms of reference of such a commission, which the Government decided to set up, then it is hopeless to think that before the next general election the same Ministry will produce a solution of this terrible problem.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce, in his wisdom, and acting, I presume, on the advice of his official advisers and with the consent of the Government, several months ago called into conference the representatives of the Irish Trade Union Congress and the several organisations representing the employers of this country and suggested that, during the period of the emergency, the different employers should adopt a system of rotational employment for those who were still left working in the several industries. I should like to hear what progress has been made in that direction, and I should like the Minister to indicate the industries which he thinks, without interfering with the efficiency of their organisations, could adopt that policy and whether that policy was intended by the Minister to be adopted by employers and applied to those in permanent employment. The Minister might also tell us what leaders of industries have expressed their willingness to adopt the suggestion and what industries, if any, have so far put the scheme into operation. I do not know whether it was intended that the proposal should apply to workers under local authorities. I should like to know how far the proposal is to be put into operation, or whether it is, generally speaking, acceptable to the employer.

The number of unemployed is bound to increase as the months go by, for reasons which it is not necessary for me to explain, and I should like to hear from the Minister what plans he has in mind, what plans he has prepared or are in course of preparation for providing work during the winter months, for unemployed people, for the large number of people working on the bogs to-day, many of whom, for understandable reasons, may be unable to work at turf production, bog drainage, or bog road repairs during the winter months. We had a statement last week from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance on the turf situation, in the course of which he indicated that 30,000 people were at present employed on turf production. That number is almost certain to be considerably reduced during the winter months, and I should like to know if the Minister has any scheme in mind for the absorption of those on the register at the moment, and the additional numbers who will go on the register, into useful employment during those months. I know of schemes sanctioned some time ago— waterworks, sewerage schemes, and housing schemes—which are held up, either because the necessary money is not available, or because there is a shortage of the necessary material. Is there any hope that in a number of towns where it was intended to carry out improvements of the existing water supplies, such schemes will be put into operation during the winter months?

I have been very much interested for a long period, and I am sure every Deputy is equally interested, in the policy of the Minister or his colleagues in connection with the reports of the Transport Tribunal. I think it is six weeks since the attention of the Minister for Finance was drawn to the failure of the Government to publish and circulate to Deputies the reports of several commissions and tribunals, and, on that occasion, the Minister promised, without any qualification, that the reports referred to—the principal reports outstanding were those of the Transport Tribunal, the Drainage Commission, and the Dublin Bakery Inquiry—would be circulated in the near future. The Drainage Commission report has since been circulated, as has also the report of the Dublin Bakery Inquiry, but I cannot understand, although I am sure the Minister does, why the report of the Transport Tribunal has not been circulated as promised. I raise this question because the Minister's predecessor, when asking the House for the power to set up that tribunal, said that the matters to be referred to it were so urgent that he expected the report to be in his possession within two months. He also indicated in the same speech that it was the intention of the Government to bring in legislation to amend the Transport and Railways Act, 1933. Not alone has the amending legislation not been brought before the House, but the members of the House, irrespective of Party, have not been taken into the Minister's confidence and have not been given the contents of the tribunal's report.

Apart altogether from the policy issues involved in the necessary reorganisation of the transport industry, I think it is the duty of the Minister to see that Deputies are furnished with copies of such reports within a reasonable time. If it is the intention of the Minister and his colleagues to modernise our transport system, I think that, by doing so, whether the reorganised system is under public ownership or semi-State control, a considerable amount of employment can be given, and particularly on the railway side. I am sure the Minister will not challenge the accuracy of my statement that the rolling stock of the railways to-day is not sufficient to meet the requirements of any modern transport concern. There is plenty of work to be done in increasing the rolling stock which should be available to any modern transport concern in any part of the world. The permanent way of the railway must be known to those who travel, even on the main lines, not to be in first-class condition, and considerable employment could be provided there for some of those who are on the list of registered unemployed. I do not know whether the Minister has at any time given any consideration to the question of the electrification of our main railway lines, but if such a scheme were decided on, it would certainly give considerable employment for a very long period to a large number of our able-bodied citizens now on the list of registered unemployed.

I would like him to indicate whether he is satisfied, from the reports in his possession, that the mileage of our principal railways is in a safe condition, and that the necessary number of wagons and railway vehicles is at the disposal of the principal transport concerns, or that, generally speaking, the community is getting a satisfactory transport service, whether it be by rail, road or canal. I asked him these questions before and he did not answer. There is too much transport in this country for the quantity of traffic to be carried. I often hear people talk about the cheaper services that are given by road transport as against rail or canal transport, but I have yet to find the trader who has got the benefit of that cheaper system, and who has allowed the difference in the prices charged to consumers. Citizens of the State, and the community as a whole, have never, in my recollection, received the benefit of any cheap system of transport by way of reduced prices. I have discussed that with traders in my own constituency and asked them why that was so, when we were getting cheap rates by road, in some cases by railway companies not complying with the law.

Or with trade unions, either.

The Deputy will be able to develop that point later on and I hope that he will do it. I asked them why those who got cheaper rates for tea, sugar and flour by road transport were not giving the benefit of those reduced rates to purchasers of those commodities in the shops. There was no explanation. They simply pocketed what they got by the cheaper system, instead of passing it on to the community. Therefore I think there is no reason in this argument that the cheaper system of transport is always the best. I raise this question for the purpose of finding out whether the Government have any policy in mind on the transport question, after all the time that has been given to considering it and to making up their minds.

The Transport Tribunal Report has been in the hands of the Minister for Industry and Commerce —both the present Minister and his predecessor, for nearly two years. The Banking Commission Report has been in the hands of the Ministers concerned for four and a half years, and they have not made up their minds on this question. I do not know whether it is possible for them to make up their minds on any question arising out of any report of any commission set up since this Government came into office. If they are unable to make up their minds on these matters when a Commission or a tribunal reports, let us save the taxpayers' money by refusing to set up any commissions in future. If they are set up, Deputies are entitled to the benefit of whatever information is contained in their reports and recommendations.

One other aspect of the transport problem, and one which I hope the Minister will deal with in his reply, is one which has been referred to on more than one occasion by Deputy Morrissey, and rightly so. Where transport companies have been brought into consultation with the Minister and his advisers, in connection with the transport of turf from the bogs in different counties to the cities and towns, where it will be required in the coming winter, I want to know if any scheme has been presented by the railway, canal or road transport companies which will indicate the extent to which that very serious problem can be dealt with in a satisfactory way. What percentage of the turf in the bogs will be carried by rail, canal or road? I hope the Minister will make some attempt to give us some information on that point in his reply.

Was not similar information sought on the Vote for the Minister for Supplies?

It was referred to, but the Minister for Industry and Commerce is the responsible Minister to deal with the question of transport— both policy and administration. I am not aware that the Minister for Supplies has any responsibility whatever in connection with the distribution of turf from the bogs. He has no right to make direct representations to the railway companies on the matter unless some new transfer of functions has been made recently under the powers, presumably, of the Emergency Powers Act, but I am not aware of that. I am aware that some few orders were slipped into the Library in a very quiet way, but I am not aware of any order having been issued to relieve the Minister for Industry and Commerce of his responsibility in connection with this very serious matter.

To me it is an almost impossible problem, but in any case if there is no consultation between the responsible Minister and the representatives of the companies who will be responsible for doing this job—and doing it particularly at a time of the year when railway wagons, canal boats and motor lorries are available—I do not know that there can be any hope of getting the job done later on in the year, when all these transport services will be required for doing other and perhaps equally necessary work. Under this Vote I suppose it is not possible to deal with the question of the price of turf. I do not want to go back on any discussion concerning the production, marketing and price of turf that might have been more rightly raised under other Votes. However, the Minister should have some interest in the matter.

I think it desirable, at any rate, that he should give us some detailed information regarding any plans he may have in his locker for the solution of the great problem of unemployment, which will be worsening as the months go by. I sympathise with any Minister who has to face up to the preparation of a plan for this particular purpose. The Minister can be assured that any assistance possible will be given to him and to the Government in helping them to solve—if at all possible—this terrible problem, and to reduce the poverty and destitution that seem to be facing the community during the coming winter months.

I think it rather strange to hear Deputy Davin looking for the Transport Tribunal report and asking the Government to have their minds made up on any transport position up to the moment, when he knows that the question is whether we will be able to get any transport at all or not. This is not a time to decide on policies of transport for the future.

There is, however, one particular matter on which I am anxious to have the Minister's decision. We know there is a great deal of unemployment, and that there will be a greater volume of unemployment according as raw materials for certain industries disappear. I would not agree with Deputy Morrissey that these people will get employment on the land, even in the harvest time. What rural labour is there will be required for that purpose, and nobody else. From time to time in this House I have seen the Minister take up other essentials as Government problems, make them into Government works, and work them as Government industries; and I would like to know definitely whether it is the Minister's intention to deal in that way with the iron and steel industry. There are over 300 people in the town of Cóbh drawing unemployment assistance at the present time. There is no use in telling those people to go out on the land, where there is any amount of work. They would not be worth feeding on the land; they are men who are accustomed to ship building, ship repairing, iron and steel work, and who were reared at that, trained to it, and have become skilled at it. Still, we have the extraordinary position of industry after industry closing down for want of merchant iron and steel. One after another they are closing down, and, at the same time, we have had a whole factory lying idle for five months.

The Vote for Haulbowline was before the House recently.

This pertains particularly to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. As far as Haulbowline is concerned, the premises are merely situated in Haulbowline. It has no more to do with it than that.

The Deputy did not raise these issues on the Haulbowline Vote?

No, Sir.

It does not matter where an industry is situate. Deputy Corry is speaking of the industry, as such, which is the responsibility of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. The location of the industry does not count, and Deputy Corry could not raise this question on the Vote for the Board of Works, where Haulbowline came in.

The Chair is interested to ensure that Haulbowline,simpliciter, will not be again discussed.

I am discussing the industry known as "Irish steel" and I think I am entitled to do so on this Vote. For the past five months, this factory has been idle. No effort has been made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce to get the industry working. I am a member of the agricultural community. I have seen the Minister for Agriculture, where a member of our fraternity failed to do his part, take over the land and have it ploughed and sown. Here, we have this eyesore which, in the end, will mean the disemployment of thousands of men all over the country and absolutely nothing is being done about it. I shall not deal with the scandalous manner in which this matter was left to be carried on by the Department of Industry and Commerce for the past six or eight months. When I raised a question here about seven months ago about the export of scrap iron, which is the raw material of this industry, I was informed by the Minister for Supplies that the export of scrap iron was prohibited. When I said "except under licence," I was told that no licences were granted. I produced in this House a fortnight ago a copy of the report of the Dublin Port and Docks Board which shows that 17,800 tons of scrap iron left the Port of Dublin last year and, lo and behold, in yesterday's Press I read a notification from the Minister for Industry and Commerce that the export of scrap iron and steel was now prohibited except under licence—what we were told was prohibited 18 months ago. That is bordering on the ridiculous. Our farmers will find themselves, when they want to start their ploughing operations, without a ploughshare or a steel bar for their ploughs while all the time this industry is lying idle. There were about 350 people employed there for a period——

Does the Deputy assure the House that he has not raised that precise matter on the Vote for the Office of the Minister for Supplies?

I raised it on the Vote for Supplies and I submit I am entitled to raise it on this Vote.

The Deputy is not at liberty to raise the same issue on both Votes.

Will the Minister show me how he is not responsible in this matter?

It is for the Deputy to show that he is not raising the same issue on two Estimates——

On a point of order——

The Deputy may not raise a point of order when the Chair is addressing the House. A matter cannot be raised in the same connection and in virtually the same words on two Estimates. One or other Minister is responsible, not both.

On a point of order, I was listening to Deputy Corry and Deputy Hurley when they raised a certain aspect of this matter on the Vote for Supplies——

I shall have the report of the debate in a few minutes, and I shall be much surprised if there is a 10 per cent. difference between Deputy Corry's speech on that occasion and his speech on this Vote.

Is it not in order to raise a question as to the disappearance of an industry, and the disemployment of large numbers of persons, on the Vote for Industry and Commerce?

It is, but not verbatim, and to the same end as it was previously raised.

This is the fifth time I raised this matter in the House.

The Deputy should not give himself away.

This is the first occasion on which I could put the matter here before the Minister who has primary responsibility—the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I had to raise it on the other Votes so as to call attention to it on account of its urgency. This is the first occasion on which I have brought the matter before the Minister who has primary responsibility. I submit that it is my duty, as representing that constituency, to raise the matter here. I do not want to go into it fully. I want to draw the Minister's attention to the position and get a definite statement from him as to his intentions. I think that the House is entitled to that. We are entitled to be told, definitely, whether this industry is to be taken over as a national industry, as it should be, and worked, or whether it is to lie there idly, an eyesore to the country.

When the farming community get an order from the Minister for Agriculture to plough their lands next season, they will find themselves without the essential implements. That is my reason for raising the matter. An additional reason is that the Minister for Industry and Commerce has primary responsibility for the prohibition of the export of scrap iron, the essential raw material for this industry, and he did not prohibit its export until two days ago. If export had been prohibited when I was told by the Minister for Supplies it was prohibited, why should we be faced with an announcement in the public Press two days ago that the export of scrap iron and scrap steel had been prohibited? I do not believe that any man living can tell us how many years this war will last. We do know that, while it lasts, our imports of ordinary merchant iron and steel will be nil. If we have the materials and the factory to produce the essentials for our industries, are we to be deprived of them on account of any pernickety ideas in the Department of Industry and Commerce?

Would not that matter arise on the Vote for the Department of Supplies?

The supply of agricultural implements would, surely, relate to the Vote for the Department of Supplies.

The industry for making these supplies is in this country and, therefore, it is not a matter of supplies. It is the industry which is responsible and the Minister for Industry and Commerce is in charge of all the industries in the country. Unfortunately, the agricultural community will be made to bear the brunt of all this.

It is bad enough to have burdens thrown on our shoulders month after month and year after year, without having wilful discrimination between two classes of the community, the agriculturist and the industrialist. If a member of the agricultural community, owning land, fails to till it, that land will be taken from him and will be tilled under the instructions of the Minister for Agriculture or the county council. Here is an industry which is producing something very vital for the agricultural community, steel for the manufacture of machinery essential in food production, and no effort has been made to put it again on a working basis. If the people connected with that industry are unable or unwilling to produce these essentials, then the Minister should take the industry over for the purpose of putting it into production. That is his duty, just as much as it is the duty of the Minister for Agriculture to take over land if it is not put under cultivation.

There is too much class discrimination carried on, too much anxiety to put burdens on the only real producers, the agriculturists. The manner in which this industry was carried on for 18 months would not be tolerated by any other Department. This is an industry that was supposed to convert scrap iron into merchant iron. Instead of doing that, the scrap iron was, under licence, exported. This might be regarded as practically the most important industry in the country to-day. Soon it will be difficult to get shoes for the horses, because the iron is not being produced. Soon it may be difficult to get agricultural machinery, because of the lack of iron and steel. I know one industry in Cork City that may have to close down within the next month and 200 men will be rendered idle, all because this factory is not producing merchant iron. The same thing may soon happen in the town of Clonmel and in other places.

If it was good policy for the Government to take over the sugar industry and work it, to take over the peat industry and work it, equally it ought to be good policy to take over the steel industry and work it. Unless we do that we will have difficulty in getting the necessary implements that will enable us to provide food for the people during the emergency. If the Minister does not do that, he will be neglecting his duty to the people.

I am not worried whether the debenture holders or the original swindlers lose their money in this undertaking. I will not worry much if the get-rich-quick gentlemen go out. I am worried about the production of iron and steel to meet our requirements. The Government should have no hesitation in taking over the industry. I called attention to this matter some five months ago. I thought it necessary to draw attention to the scandal going on and that was being winked at. I was told that there was no export of scrap iron at a time when the Dublin Port and Docks Board statistics revealed the export of thousands of tons.

Really, the Deputy should not repeat himself so often.

I find that one might as well be in the wilderness as endeavouring to deal with this matter here. I do not intend to repeat myself, because I am simply fed up calling attention to the conditions in this industry. I know the position can be remedied now, but later on it cannot be. I will make one last appeal to the Minister. The longer this industry is idle the longer will be the periods of unemployment, the more industries there will be closing down and there will be a bigger problem to be tackled later on. Faced with that prospect, surely there should be no hesitation in taking over the steel industry and working it as a national concern.

I join with Deputy Corry in his appeal to the Minister to use his influence to get going what I consider is a national asset. Like Deputy Corry, I am not concerned with the banks or the people who are connected financially with it. I am mainly concerned because the industry is a national asset. I have evidence to prove that there are many subsidiary industries that will definitely close down in the near future if they cannot get a supply of steel. The Irish steel industry has been closed down since February. The Minister should tell the House the reason for its disappearance, and what plans he has in mind to get it going again.

Deputy Corry rightly pointed out that there are certain industries which private enterprise could not undertake to run, and I think the steel industry is one of them. It is no use delaying; if the industry is to be revived as a State enterprise there should not be a day wasted in carrying out that intention. The longer the delay, the more certain it is that other industries that depend on the steel industry will go out of existence. It is the responsibility of the Minister to keep whatever industries we have going. We have the raw materials for the steel industry in this country. We have the materials for putting up the necessary open - hearth furnaces. The only stumbling-block is finance. Surely that should not stand in the way where it is a question of the existence of a very important industry.

I wish to reiterate every word Deputy Corry has said, and I can assure the House that there is no difference of opinion in Cobh or elsewhere so far as the restarting of that industry is concerned. All Parties, all creeds and classes are anxious that that industry should get a fresh start. The only solution of the matter, in my opinion, is that the Government should take it over as a State industry. That can be done, especially in this emergency, when more drastic things have to be done, when, as was pointed out to the House already, farmers who neglect their duty in the production of food have their land taken from them.

There is one law for us and another for the thieves.

I think that it does not require any great argument to convince this House of the necessity of taking over this industry. There is no doubt that the harbour area—I am sure the Minister for Industry and Commerce and his officials know it from the unemployment returns—is one of the hardest hit areas in the country. There is no possibility of connecting the unemployed men in that area with turf cutting or with any of the other schemes operated as a solution, or a partial solution, for unemployment. It is only in the industry that formerly existed there, and the ancillary industry at the docks in Rushbrooke that employment can be found for the skilled and semi-skilled men who have been unemployed in that area since the 11th February of this year. I think that the Minister should tell this House the reasons for the disappearance of this industry, and of the plans, if there are any, to restart that industry under State control. I think that much at least is due to the House from him as Minister for Industry and Commerce. If he has no intention of restarting that industry, he should tell us what alternative industry he intends to operate in that area, because, as I pointed out—and I want to emphasise the fact—the bulk of the unemployed men in that area are skilled or semi-skilled men who had, as Deputy Corry stated, a training in skilled work in connection with the dockyards and steel production. These men cannot find employment in any alternative work such as turf cutting, employment by outside firms, or otherwise. Again, many other industries are dependent upon this industry for their raw materials.

Just as in the question of Irish steel, I am convinced that this Government will never solve, or even partially solve, unemployment by the methods they are adopting. At the present time, they seem to have gone back to a defeatist policy, that there can be no solution, not even a partial solution, of unemployment. They are content to let things drift, and they carry on in the hope that we shall not reach the worst climax in this country. That is not tackling the problem. We in this Party charge the Minister with a dereliction of duty as far as that is concerned. He has made no appreciable effort to deal with the question of unemployment. As Deputy Davin pointed out, the numbers who have gone over to Britain, who have gone into our own Army and the British Army, have provided a partial solution of this problem for the Minister. These outlets have been a godsend for the Minister; otherwise the employment problem would have been one of appalling proportions. That is so because the Minister and his Government are completely wedded to the old worn-out policy of the Manchester school, the old policy oflaissez faire:“Let things carry on; private enterprise will provide a solution.”

That policy has been discarded years ago even by the people who were the greatest believers in it. Still we cling on to it. The attitude is that unless things can be produced at a profit and sold at a profit, then they are not worth producing—no question of the good of the community or the good of the nation. We are the only country in the world that clings to sterling. Even England itself has gone away from that system. I could never understand why the present Government, the Fianna Fáil Party, that was born in revolution and that came in here as a semi-revolutionary Party, have not the pluck to break away from the British system of sterling and its implications. We had Deputy Childers last night telling us about the danger of inflation. We have as much control over that question as the man in the moon. That question of deflation or inflation is controlled by the Bank of England, in consultation with the British Government.

A Deputy

And the Bank of Ireland.

And the Bank of Ireland which is only a subsidiary of the Bank of England.

Are we to be allowed to discuss sterling, because if so some of us would like to have notice of it?

That question can only be dealt with indirectly on this Estimate.

Is the Deputy afraid to hear a discussion on it?

It is a highly technical question and we should like to have some notice of it.

I do not want to discuss it, but I am suggesting to the House that most of the failure of the Government to solve the unemployment problem is due to the fact that they have so steadfastly clung to that financial system. I leave it at that.

I think that the Deputy ought to put down a motion. We should like to hear him on it.

We should like to hear the Minister's speech of ten years ago on that question.

The Deputy ought to read it.

I did, but the Minister seems to have forgotten it.

Mr. Morrissey

There are motions on the Paper for the last nine or ten months.

They are not so long there.

What I want to point out is that this country is at the mercy of the British economic policy— the policy of Jewish bankers aided by the win-the-war policy of Britain. They want unemployment in this country so that they can get cheap labour for their war effort and cannon-fodder for their armies through the operation of this policy. We have not the energy, the initiative or the pluck to break with that policy. Employment means purchasing power in the hands of the workers and purchasing power means that everybody gets his share—the grocer, the baker and everybody else. We could have in that way prosperity in the country but when we have mass unemployment, such as exists at present in this country, we have poverty, misery and destitution amongst the poorer classes. Purchasing power is restricted and goods cannot be bought that would be bought in the ordinary way if people had employment. As a substitute for employment, we have unemployment assistance. Unemployment assistance is at the same figure now as it was in 1934, the year after the Act was introduced. Take the case of an unemployed man with a wife and five children, living in a rural area, who was getting 14/- a week in unemployment assistance in 1934. That amount is now reduced by 4/-, because since then the cost of living has gone up by over 30 per cent. We hear a lot of talk about the family, that it is at the root of social life in this country. The case I have quoted shows the respect we have for family life.

Some time in March the Great Southern Company, after giving very little warning to the people, raised bus fares in Cork by 50 per cent., in some cases by 75 per cent., and in others by almost 100 per cent. I put down a question to the Minister at the time, and, as I was not satisfied with his reply, I raised the matter on the adjournment. The Minister then undertook to make an investigation as to whether the increases were justified. He has had ample time since to carry out his investigations, and I want him to tell the House now what has been the result. The people feel they are suffering from a great grievance by reason of the increases made. From parts of my constituency people travel by bus to and from the city where they work.

In some cases their fares have been increased by 50 per cent. That, taken in conjunction with the operation of Emergency Powers Order No. 83 means a serious reduction in their weekly wage. Will the Minister say if, as a result of his investigations, he is satisfied that the increase in bus fares was justified? If he is, I want him to relate that to the principle underlying Emergency Powers Order No. 83, because I think it has a definite bearing on the wages of workers. It certainly has a definite bearing on their spending power, because if they have to spend more in travelling to and from their work they will have a smaller sum to bring home at the end of the week.

I would like to hear from the Minister what the prospects are as regards keeping such industries going as Dunlops in Cork City, Fords', Sunbeam or the bacon factories. I understand the latter are in danger of closing down. Will the Minister say if he has made any efforts, or intends to make any efforts, to keep these industries going? They give a big amount of employment not only to people in Cork City but to numbers in the outlying districts. If they are closed down it will mean that great numbers will be thrown on the unemployment list. I have already dealt with Irish steel and the Rushbrooke docks. If I remember rightly the Minister answered a question dealing with the latter, and said that it was being kept in mind. I would like to know from him if there is any hope of a resumption of work in the docks. We have a number of men still living in that area who follow the trades connected with dockyards, and who are still available for work. If there is no prospect of employment for them here, I am sure they will find work across the water. In view of that I would like to know from the Minister if there is any prospect of getting the Rushbrooke docks going very soon, especially in connection with some ships that have been purchased by the Irish company.

The omission from the Minister's statement on this Estimate of anything in the nature of a concrete plan for the solution of unemployment or, indeed, I might say of anything in the nature of a hint towards an approach to a solution of that problem, must be regarded as a tacit admission on the part of the Minister of his complete inability to cope with the situation as it exists to-day. I am certain that there has been no year in the history of this city, since the famine period, in which poverty has been so much in evidence: so much so that in some of the newly-built areas a social organisation—I am glad to have the opportunity of saying here in this House that it has great work to its credit in this respect— found it necessary to introduce mobile food canteens to stave off the hunger and want which were evident in these areas.

If any further evidence is needed of the poverty that has existed in the city during the past year, one has only to refer to the remarkable increase in the incidence of malnutrition in hospitals where children are specially treated. In these circumstances it must cause a great deal of surprise to those people outside that the Minister, whose Department is responsible for industry and commerce in this country, has no plan, or even a suggestion of a plan, to cope with the situation.

It may give the Minister great personal satisfaction to rely on an isolated statistic that there are 3,000 people less on the unemployed register than there were at this time last year, but that statistic is of very little value unless it is related to the existing circumstances. If we take that statistic, in conjunction with the fact that thousands of people have emigrated from the country during the last year and that thousands and thousands have been recruited into the Army, we find there the conclusion to be drawn from the fact that there are 3,000 less on the unemployed register than there were at this time last year. In Dublin one of the principal employing units is Jacob's factory. Already, I understand, quite a number of hands has been laid off there and quite a number of workers are working on shorter periods than is the custom, on account of the restrictions—necessary no doubt—in regard to the manufacture of various types of bread, biscuits and so on. I mention this fact just to show how it is linked up with statements made by other Deputies in the House in respect of industries in urban districts throughout the country. Surely the Minister does not consider for a moment that the House will be satisfied with his opening statement on this Estimate? So far as I can see, taking the statement as a whole, it summarises very nicely what appears to be the policy of the Government, simply to drift from day to day, to live a day-to-day existence so far as the country is concerned, hoping for the best.

In connection with this Estimate, I think we ought to say a little more about the constructive work of the Department in increasing industrial production in this country over a considerable period. I thought the Minister, because of the urgent problems that confronted him, was more than modest in speaking of the work of his Department. I think that now that we are facing a prolonged war and now that we have watched the effect of an intensified industrial policy, the members of the House should be given some indication of what our progress has been.

I think it is a magnificent thing that, in the middle of a war which surges around our coast, in respect of practically every single industry of importance for which 1940 industrial production figures have been given there is an increase, not only in the value of the production but in actual volume of output; that in spite of difficulties with regard to raw materials, in spite of every circumstance of an adverse character, at least throughout the whole of 1940, the policy of this Government to establish industry in this country was more than justified. It has been more than justified because, in so far as I know, from examining the general supply position since the beginning of the war, it has been easier to obtain raw materials or even semi-manufactured materials than finished goods in the case of a great number of industries. Therefore our industrial development, both through the use of our own resources and through the use of imported raw materials, has been an advantage to us in maintaining employment and in supplying the country with goods that it needs. I think I should give the House a few figures in addition to those given by the Minister in respect of some of our more important industries. For the year 1940 I note that we produced 1,169,000 cwts. of bacon as compared with just over 1,000,000 cwts. the year before.

Will the Deputy state from what he is quoting?

I am quoting from the Census of Industrial Production,Irish Trade Journal, June, 1941. I note in connection with boots and shoes (wholesale factories) we produced 39,000 dozen pairs of men's heavy boots, as compared with nearly 36,000 dozens in the year 1939. I note that we produced altogether goods to the value of £2,200,000, as compared with goods to the value of £2,000,000 in 1939—an increase of 10 per cent. So far as brewing is concerned, there is evidence of stability in the industry, in spite of all its difficulties in transport. If we take an industry such as hosiery, where the raw materials are in some cases imported and in some cases home-manufactured, we may note that the actual production, for example, of adults' stockings and hose, mainly of cotton, increased from 78,000 dozens in 1939 to 119,000 dozens in 1940. These are just items taken at random.

If we examine the employment in these industries we find the same progress. We find, for example, in the hosiery industry the number of people employed increased by over 800 persons in the year 1940 as compared with 1939 in spite of the fact that many of the raw materials were imported. There is no need for me to go on reading figures from this census of production. Even if we examine the figures in industries where the raw materials commenced to become scarce in the middle of 1940, the figures for production are highly satisfactory. When we take the progress over a period of years, resulting from the Government's industrial policy, the results are, of course, far more notable. The gross output of industry which was £60,000,000 in 1931 had increased, by 1938, to £90,000,000—an increase of 50 per cent.—and the net output, which represents the actual increment of money value to the country, the actual increase of circulation of money due to manufacture, which has eliminated all what may be described as neutral charges, such as the cost of raw materials, increased from £25,000,000 to £35,500,000, or by £10,500,000. £10,000,000 is a very considerable sum for a small country of 3,000,000 inhabitants, a country which was at that time passing through an economic war, a country which was facing all kinds of internal difficulties. That represents a solid achievement as does also the fact that whereas there were 102,000 persons employed in 1932, by 1938 there were 166,000 persons employed in the whole of our industries, including building services as well as the manufacture of transportable goods.

In regard to the direction of these increases — where they were most notable—the production of food in this country or, shall we say, the processing of food in factories, increased by one-third from 1931 to 1938 and that increase is of enormous importance in connection with the present crisis in our supplies. The fact that we have been able to increase in a period of ten years the actual processing of our food products is of enormous importance in enabling us to have the maximum variety and quantity of food in this country at the present time. Aside from that, other remarkable increases in our production have been no less than 106 per cent. in clothing, over 300 per cent. in footwear and nearly 300 per cent. in hosiery. I am giving these figures, comparing the year 1931 with 1938, because 1938 was the last normal year and since then there has been a slight increase in production, which has not been notable and which, of course, has been affected by many unusual factors. I think we should recognise, at the same time, the enormous value of the principal exporting industry of this country, the brewing industry. Of the total net output of the country, 10 per cent. is represented by brewing and that fact has to be borne in mind, particularly as it is an industry which uses agricultural raw materials.

In connection with the work of the Government and the work of the Department in trying to decentralise industry and to bring new factories into towns where there was dreadful deadness, towns which served purely for the purpose of distribution and minor agricultural industries, it is interesting to note that about half of the whole of the new industrial development which took place was in rural districts. In actual fact, out of about 1,000 new establishments, both small and large, the province of Munster got 700, Leinster got 170, and Connaught got 70, the balance of 60 going to the three Ulster Counties of Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal. Many people imagine that industry is concentrated in Dublin to too great an extent. In fact, very nearly half the new employment and very nearly half the new production went to places other than Dublin City. The suggestion has also been made that many of the factories are small institutions. In a small country it is inevitable that the factories would be small, but it is interesting to note that, of the new factories, no less than 14 employ over 500 persons; that 282 employ from 50 to 500, while 475 employ from 10 to 50 persons. In other words, there have been established here at least 300 large-scale factories. Those factories have very great importance in relation to our total output. It is interesting to note in that connection that in 1936 60 per cent. of the factories employed less than 15 workers, but produced less than 10 per cent. of the net output. In other words the larger factory units are very important in giving employment. In view of the criticism by certain members of the Opposition that the industries in this country which are contributing to our national income are employing juvenile female labour to a great extent, I might say that the actual facts point to the opposite. In 1926, 6.3 per cent of the workers in industry were under 18 years; in 1936, 10.4 per cent. were under 18, the corresponding figure for the United Kingdom being 13 per cent.

Would the Deputy quote the 1941 figures?

I do not think they have yet been provided by the Department. But in 1936 the actual facts show that the new industrial development had not increased to any extent the proportion of workers under 18. In regard to the employment of females as compared with males, in 1936 about one-quarter of the workers were women, as compared with 17 per cent. in 1926. In the United Kingdom the proportion was approximately the same. It is comforting to note that our new industries have neither resulted in a large increase in the employment of females as compared with males, nor have they tended to an increased employment of children or young persons.

We hear a lot about industrial disputes in this country, and it is interesting in that connection to examine the wage levels here. There is nothing to be ashamed of in that regard in so far as a considerable number of our industries are concerned. I have here a statement from the International Labour Office journal of 1939 as to the comparative wages in this country and in the United Kingdom. If wages in a number of industries in London and Dublin are compared—London being the highest wage area in the United Kingdom, and Dublin being the highest wage area in Ireland—it will be seen that in all but one of 16 classifications of employment the wages in London were about 10 to 30 per cent. less than the wages in Dublin. The figures show that, in respect of organised industries here, there can be no suggestion that the workers are paid at an excessively low level.

Of course, we have to bear in mind one fact—it has been made obvious to us during this war—that, just as in other countries, the proportion of raw materials imported for our new industries is very high. Out of about £47,000,000 worth of raw materials used in our industries in 1936, at least £23,000,000 worth were imported. If one were to eliminate from that figure the importation of wheat for flour milling, it would be correspondingly reduced. When the members of the Opposition refer to the fact that many of our raw materials are imported, it must be remembered that that proportion of about 50 per cent. is no greater than in many other countries. The proportion of national income in Denmark which arises from industry is something over 30 per cent.—a fact which is unknown to many people—and most of the raw materials for Danish industries are imported; they have very few raw materials of their own. There is nothing to be ashamed of, then, if we have established industries in this country which are using a large percentage of imported raw materials, provided we can manufacture goods at a price which the people can afford to pay. But the fact that we have imported raw materials to the value of 50 per cent. of our total raw materials for industry does suggest that, if we could develop industrial exports on a larger scale, particularly when the war has ended, it would be to the advantage of industry. We have a very small market in this country for many of our industries, and that is one of the problems which the Minister for Industry and Commerce will have to face in the future. That is revealed by the fact that a very large number of our factories enjoy what might be described as virtual monopolies. No monopoly has been conferred on them by law, or by any action of the Department of Industry and Commerce, but the market is just large enough for the products of one factory only. Although a second factory may at any time be started, provided the Control of Manufactures Act is observed, if that second factory is started, one or other of them is likely to go out of production because of the limited nature of the market. I have compiled a list of at least 40 quite important products which are made in single factories, not by reason of a legal monopoly, but simply owing to the circumstances of our economy. There is, as the House knows, a very limited number of legal monopolies. They are restricted, I think, to about five commodities altogether.

With regard to the price at which our products are sold, I think it should be stated in this House that as soon as our workers became more accustomed to the new forms of production, and partly owing to the revision of tariffs which occurred at the time of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the price of goods produced in this country in a great number of instances has become more and more equivalent to English prices. At the beginning of this war, and before the whole price situation changed completely owing to war conditions, a very creditable number of industries here were producing goods at prices near the English prices. That is a fairly good criterion to work on— if we can approximate to the English prices we are doing very well. It must also be remembered that there was a great deal of leeway to be made up, because many of our new plants were manned by workers unaccustomed to production. I think it is also important to note that there had been what might be described as disciplinary action, in so far as industry is concerned, before this war took place. In addition to the 23 tariffs which were reduced at the time of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, there were modifications of tariffs under that Agreement in, I should say—I have not the exact figures with me—at least 20 other industries. It is a fine thing to be able to record that in most cases these industries managed to survive. Some of them had to face a reduction of tariffs, and in some cases they ceased to produce certain classes of goods and were able to manufacture other goods here at a lower cost and more efficiently. There might have been adverse effects from the Anglo-Irish Agreement, and we might not have been so successful were it not for the activities of the Department of Industry and Commerce. Great credit is due, in my opinion, to the Prices Commission, that section of which operates under the Department of Industry and Commerce, for the way in which they conducted negotiations between the parties concerned and the manner in which they allowed Irish and British groups of manufacturers, producers, and so on, to get together, and thus, perhaps, avoid the necessity for examination and delay. I think the greatest credit is due to the Department for that work.

I think that in connection with the more recent development of industry that has occurred since the war began, it is very important that the public should be aware of the fact that prices of imported raw materials have increased enormously, and a very good answer could be found to Deputy McGilligan's rejoinders regarding the prices of certain worsted and woollen goods in connection with the economic indices, 1938-41, in the June number of theIrish Trade Journal. Every single person in this State who buys an imported article, or an article manufactured from imported raw materials, should be aware of the fact that the import price index, based on the prices of various categories of imported goods, was, in September, 1939, 89.5, in September, 1940, 134.2, and that in April, 1941, that figure had risen to 147.3—an increase in price which was out of our control and for which we cannot be held responsible, but which must affect the prices of all commodities. I am not trying to argue from that, that price control is necessarily effective, or that it could not be improved, or that profiteering has not occurred, but I am arguing that there have been very large increases in the prices of imported goods which we cannot possibly control ourselves. In actual fact, to give a comparison that would be of interest to agriculture, the agricultural export price figure—that is, not the whole figure—on the 1930 basis of 100, stood, in August, 1939, at 86.6, and in April, 1941, it was 164.7, showing a very considerable increase. The figure for the whole agricultural price index, covering goods sold in this country as well as abroad, did not increase to the same extent. That figure, which was based on the 1911-13 figure of 100, was in August, 1939, 116.3, and in April, 1941, it was 166.1.

I think it is useful at this time to review our industrial production and reiterate what has been done generally, giving briefly the value of our new industries, their value to the economy of the country, and at the same time point out the dangers that may arise and the reactions that may take place as a result of any new policy, with a view to having such deally ficiencies corrected now and in the future. I should say that the first and most important reason for industrial development in this country is a factor that has not been sufficiently considered, and that is the rural exodus from the country to the towns all over the world, in every State, and in particular the States where there has been a notable increase in agricultural prosperity.

There have been certain States which were famous for efficiency in agricultural production and where, for reasons that are hard to tell, they managed to maintain a sufficient number of agricultural workers and to maintain agricultural employment, but it would seem, generally, that when a State becomes prosperous agriculturally, it may give a certain amount of employment to begin with, but after that people tend to leave the land and go into districts where they can service the agricultural community. In the smaller cities and towns, for instance, they can operate a greater amount of transport for a greater amount of agricultural produce; they secure employment in factories processing agricultural products, and at the docks and in ships helping to transport agricultural produce. There is no hope that I can see in the future, with all these precedents that we have before us, of our being able to give largely increased and permanent employment on the land of this country as a result of the development of agricultural prosperity. The employment will have to come, as I have said, through transport services, through the processing of agricultural products, and through industrial employment generally increasing as a result of there being a greater consumption.

One of the most notable facts about the rural exodus is that in all countries people move out of the country districts much more quickly when there is work available for them. I am not arguing that we have really begun even to consider proper methods for bringing about agricultural prosperity, but I am saying that even in countries where there were no disturbances such as an economic war, where there was stable government, it has been found necessary to take artificial measures and the State has had to interfere in order to produce employment for people who leave the rural areas, even though, apparently, there may be no economic necessity for their leaving them. Therefore, I suggest that the securing of employment in industry is a vital factor. It will be a limited factor, so far as this country is concerned, and will never be able to give more than a limited amount of employment. Nevertheless, it is necessary to provide employment to deal with the rural exodus that is going to continue, and it is vitally important for us to vary our economy by increasing our secondary and primary industries, and by making everything that we can for ourselves, whether of raw material imported, or home-produced, in order to provide employment for these people.

I think that a second important reason for the establishment of these industries lies in the fact that we have certainly a very large number of potentially intelligent persons who are naturally addicted, if I might put it that way, to industry—people who desire employment of a technical kind in the towns and cities, and who refuse to remain agricultural labourers, and the only way we can find employment for them is by increasing industrial production by every means possible. Going through the country, it is quite obvious —aside altogether from the depression, or the war, or anything of that kind— that there is an enormous number of people who, through having relatives or friends in England, can manage to find work there, and who would remain here, possibly, if we could provide work for them, and therefore the more work we can provide for them the better.

One thing that is obvious is that, were it not for the industries that have been established here, we would not have been able to provide ourselves with many of the commodities that are manufactured from home produce and which now, owing to the war, it would be impossible for us to have otherwise. For instance, it would have been a frightful thing if we did not have our flour mills in full operation. Notwithstanding the criticisms that have been made by Deputy Dillon as to profiteering, and so on, whether they are true or not, the fact that we have modern grain mills in this country and that, for the first time, we have grain-drying plants capable of drying grain that might be produced in a poor agricultural season, is of vital importance at the present time. The fact that we are able to produce our own cement from our own home-manufactured or produced material is of equal importance, not only in continuing employment in the industry itself but in helping to keep going whatever housing or building is possible at the moment.

I could go through a whole list of articles which we now provide and which we can maintain, if we can obtain certain quantities of processing materials. Take, for instance, the boot and shoe industry. With the leather industries included, it employs thousands of people, and if we can get certain processing materials, that industry will continue. Were it not for that fact, there would be a serious scarcity of footwear at the moment. As a matter of fact, people have been over here in this country trying to buy footwear from us, because there is a scarcity in England. I could give many cases where, as a result of bombardment or other causes, English importers have come to us for goods, some of which we have been unable to supply them with, because we needed them ourselves, although in other cases we were able to supply them. There is abundant proof that the manufacture from home-produced or foreign raw materials of goods here in this country has been of immense advantage to us in this war.

There is another reason for satisfaction in our industrial development, and that is in relation to what may occur after this war if, as a result of war action, our external income collapses. We have about £300,000,000 invested abroad, and we receive from that an income of over £13,000,000 per year. We also receive from emigrants an ever declining remittance which has gone down from about £4,000,000 to £2,500,000 in the last ten years. We also received money for the Sweepstakes, whose existence is extremely hazardous, and the loss of that external income has made an enormous difference in the standard of living to-day. It has made a difference such as that between a Balkan State and a country with a high standard of living for a large number of people. Whether we should have done something with part of that external income in advance of this war is a matter which is nowpost mortem. We know, at least, that as a result of the war it is unlikely that that income will remain at the same level, and the more units of production we have, by means of which we can export to other countries, the better.

I refuse to accept the position that at the end of this war it will be impossible for us to export linen and cotton goods to Brazil solely because the output of the industry is about 15 per cent. too low to enable us to compete efficiently. I believe that the Government will have to take steps at the end of the war to correct output in industries where there is a possibility of export and that industries which are receiving high protection and are capable of exporting will have to be summoned before the Department of Industry and Commerce, and they will have to discuss how far they will be able to export if we have the capacity to make an international agreement in order to compensate them. Inevitably our whole industry may have to be mobilised to export as far as possible. I know there are enormous difficulties. I am aware that in very new industries, where our workers and employers are still without experience, the possibility of export is limited. But I certainly believe that, in so far as textiles, preserved foods, and hand-woven goods are concerned, we can develop exports to a considerable degree.

I have noted cases of export in industries which were entirely new. For example, before the war we were just about to export electric lamp bulbs to Brazil, which may seem strange to those people who are too easily cynical about such exports. We were exporting bakelite goods made from casein obtained from a co-operative company in North Cork on a large scale before the war. I think it is a matter of genius, skill, organisation and initiative on the part of the people concerned aided by the Government by every means possible, and that the existence of our industries will be vital in the post-war period if we lose part of our external income.

I have described as far as I could the positive results of industrial development in this country and the fine work done by the Department in developing industry. It is essential, in order to maintain industry and to give encouragement to the Department, that we should examine some of the adverse reactions. For the last 15 years the total national income of this country has been stagnant; it has hardly changed. If it is weighted according to some price factor and the price changes examined in relation to any change in the income, it will be seen that it has remained almost exactly the same. The reasons for that are known to everybody. We had to get through the economic war and the increase in the industrial income which took place in that period was offset by an almost corresponding decrease in agricultural income. That is the one difficulty we have to face in the future. We have to preserve the tremendous advantage of our new industrial development and, at the same time, we must, shall I say, dovetail agricultural and industrial development so that one does no harm to the other but that one stimulates the other.

In actual fact the percentage of our national income represented by industry in 1926 was 17 per cent, in 1938 it had risen to 23 per cent. In actual fact industry gained £10,000,000; our national income from industry increased by £10,000,000 in ten years and our agricultural income decreased by £9,000,000. That is a serious problem to face. To my mind, the whole future of industry is inevitably linked up with agricultural production and an increase of agricultural prosperity. I think the biggest problem that faces the country is the fact that, according to the figures given in the June, 1941,Irish Trade Journal, the agricultural output of this country, in spite of every inducement given to it during the past two years, continues to show the same stagnancy.

I think that in considering anything in relation to industry and future industrial production and the reward that can be obtained by employers and workers and the effect of that reward on the costs of agriculturists, we have to consider the agricultural output in this country. The total value of agricultural output in the year 1939-1940 was £60,000,000; in 1929-1930 it was £62,000,000. If we weight that by price and obtain a figure that is independent of price and which represents the volume, we find that the volume of agricultural output in 1929-30 was 100, and in 1939-40 it was 100.2. To my mind, therefore, the principal problem facing Irish industry is to dovetail agricultural development with the development of industry. The £9,000,000 which was lost must somehow be regained before this Government or any Government can say that they have increased the total national income of the people.

Most of us agree that the present war is being fought partly because the nations of the world have discovered that the policy of economic nationalism as such neither gives employment to large numbers of people nor could be said to solve other problems and bring peace and order to the world. One of the difficulties facing the Department of Industry and Commerce is that no matter who wins this war I am absolutely convinced—although there will be a period of chaos in which we shall retreat within ourselves and perhaps export less than we do now for some peculiar reason— as I am sure most Deputies are convinced, that the era of economic nationalism will be at an end, that we shall have to face a period of far stiffer competition, whether we face it under one system of international order or another. Then will come the testing sime when both workers and employers will have to show esprit de corps and a desire to produce efficiently which has not been necessary up to now because the desperate need has not been there. I hope the Department of Industry and Commerce, in so far as it is able, even in the middle of the war with all the other problems it has, is considering that possibility. No matter how much we may wish to preserve high tariffs and the protection system, we may be compelled by negotiation to modify our tariffs, to have freer exchange of goods, and we will at the same time want to preserve the sound industrial development that has taken place. We shall have a very serious problem to face in that connection.

The principal trouble from which our industries suffered before the war was lack of output. The output was insufficient in many industries, and was gravely less in many cases than in corresponding industries elsewhere, although the position has considerably improved. The Department of Industry and Commerce throughout the whole period up to now inevitably has had to interfere more and more with production in industry. The Department decides how many commodities are to be imported, it decides the tariffs on commodities, and it has a right to modify these tariffs. It also has a right to decide conditions of work in industry. It has an enormous amount of power by which it can supervise industry in general. I want the power the Department has, and that it may have to undertake, to be such that it can stimulate output in industry for the specific reason of safeguarding the national economy as a whole. Although I dislike excessive State control, I can see our living in a world of ever-growing State control. I can see that being increased here after the war. The work of constructively increasing output in industry is a very vital one. It deserves prolonged study and I know that the Minister, by his speeches and warnings to industrialists, has obviously given thought to it. I am also aware that the immediate problems of the country have detracted from the amount of thought that should be given to the problem in present circumstances.

I have tried to give, as briefly as possible, a résumé of the problems that have arisen. In that connection I would like to say that the efforts of the Government to improve industrial relations are in the interests of the workers themselves, because we cannot afford to have waste in anything. If we lost 3,000,000 working days in industrial disputes since 1931, after the war we shall not be able to afford that type of economic waste. Although the loss of working days may have had social and beneficial results, let us hope that after the war we shall attain social and beneficial results without the same waste.

How many days were lost?

106,476 in 1939.

How many were lost last year? It would not suit the Deputy's purpose to quote the number.

I shall give the number.

They are worth putting on record.

In 1939, the number of working days lost in industrial disputes, according to theIrish Trade Journal for March, was 106,476, and in 1940, 152,076 working days. I want to refer now to statements made by several Deputies in connection with this Estimate. One Deputy suggested that this Government was a laissez faire Government. I am not going to recite all the Acts passed dealing with industrial development under the xgis of the Department of Industry and Commerce to indicate reactions quite contrary to a laissez faire attitude. I suggest that it is ridiculous to say that this Government's policy was one of laissez faire, because the Trade Loans Section of the Department and the Industrial Credit Corporation, which were established by the action of the Department of Industry and Commerce, have resulted alone in injecting at least £10,000,000 of money into industry. That does not suggest an entirely laissez faire policy.

I presume we can discuss the Irish Tourist Board contribution on this Estimate, and I should like to hear a few words from the Minister about what has been done by that board during the past year. As remittances from our emigrants slowly decrease in the coming years, the only way to replace that income quite obviously is to get the Irish people to take their holidays in Ireland, and to get foreigners to take their holidays here. One of the ways of giving employment is to schedule areas and districts suitable for tourist development and to build such amenities as concrete breakwaters and promenades, to prepare these resorts for tourist development which, I think, would be a fairly safe speculative proposition when the war is over. The chances are that people will want to travel to this country for reasons that are too obvious to mention. I should like to know from the Minister whether he thinks much employment could be given in preparing the ground for tourist development. The Government has already taken steps of the kind indicated by the Labour Party, to produce where possible commodities without profit. One of the peculiarities about this country is that everyone knows that there has been what might be described as subnormal mineral development, but the present Government has, by means of three Acts, made it possible to consider the development of minerals on a non-profit-making basis.

I am well aware that this Department and the other Departments are studying the unemployment question. I am also aware of the remarks made concerning the amount of employment given by arterial drainage, but I want to know from the Minister whether his Department has been specifically consulted by the Department of Agriculture about the amount of employment that could be given by a really large-scale scheme of land improvement work, or whether it has only come before the Department in a minor way, because it is one primarily for the Department of Agriculture.

I was inspecting a farm the other day which is run by a very great agricultural expert in this country—not a hobby farmer, but a man who has to live off his agricultural income—and I noted that he had got permission from the county council to excavate every drain along the county council roads bounding the farm. He excavated the drains and took tons and tons of earth away for manuring purposes. I noted that he had cut back his hedges and that he had removed leaf mould from under the trees. I then took occasion to review what agricultural knowledge I have, and I realised the immense importance of that work, and the comparative neglect of it in many parts of the country. The fact is that many farmers either have not got the pecuniary means to do large-scale drainage or land improvement work, such as the piling up of big heaps of compost for agricultural purposes, or they are under the impression that they have not got the means. In most cases it is the former, and I cannot help feeling that large-scale employment could be given in land improvement work, such as the removal of furze and ferns from areas of land which have gone back to rough grazing and the provision of valuable compost, humus, for farmers at a time when artificial manures are scarce. When I examined the effect of that work on this farm, I was amazed that it was possible to see the improvement in the character of the grass where this material had been spread. There are many farmers who do it, but one has only to travel through the country to realise that there are large areas where only one farmer in 100 does it. Could that not be considered as a means of giving large-scale employment on an economic basis and on a basis that would be of immense advantage to the country?

I want to ask the Minister whether the question of limekilns is a matter exclusively for the Department of Agriculture. The production of lime is a small industry in this country. It is not only a matter of agriculture, but a form of industrial output. The country desperately needs lime, because the proportion of land which is acid is appallingly high. Would it not be possible for the employment branch of the Department to consider the development of more limekilns, apart altogether from the Department of Agriculture? All the Department of Agriculture is concerned with is that, where lime is produced, it should get a certain subsidy. I should like to have considered as a matter of employment, of industrial development, the re-creation of ruined limekilns all over the country at a time when lime is urgently needed.

Finally, I want to advert to the statement made by Deputy Hickey with regard to sterling, and I have a very quick answer for it. Ninety per cent. of our trade is with Great Britain with whom we exchange a series of well-known commodities for another series of well-known commodities. No matter what you call the pound, no matter what you value it at, no matter what you do with it and no matter how many societies, institutions or boards you create in connection with the issue of it, you come back, in the long run, to the fact that the farmer wants a stable value for his exports and the industrialist wants a stable value for his imports. If you reduce the value of the pound, there will be certain economic and psychological effects which will have to be corrected in some other way, by means of duties and burdens on some other sections, or by restrictive action. If you increase the cost of the Irish pound, you get an opposite series of effects which will have to be treated in the opposite way. Until the day approaches when we can trade with a number of different countries throughout the world, so that we can choose between one form of currency arrangement and another, we shall be compelled to consider the interests of the ordinary farmer and the ordinary importer, so far as maintaining a stability in the prices we pay for our raw materials of industry and a stability in the price level for our exports is concerned. That is a very simple matter, and no amount of talk can possibly dispose of it. Where changes have been made under circumstances similar to our own, corrective action has had to be taken in every case, and I think that the introduction of that matter into a discussion of the Estimate for the Department of Industry and Commerce is altogether apart from the issues we have to face.

At this rather late stage of the discussion on this very important Estimate, it is refreshing to find somebody who has no complaint to make in regard to the running of the Department, in the person of Deputy Childers. It is actually exhilarating to find how completely satisfactory everything has been done by the Department, so far as Deputy Childers is concerned. But one wonders whether or not Deputy Childers is entitled to sympathy or congratulation. I think he is entitled to both. To my mind, to a man with the analytical mind of Deputy Childers, it must be a rather difficult task to make the fine defence he has made for what he knows, in his heart of hearts, and what the majority of the people consider, has been a completefaux pas on the part of the Department he is trying to defend.

He is certainly entitled to congratulation, because he, at least, has made a decent attempt, by reference to figures of all sorts, showing that he has carried out deep research into the subject, to justify it. He has made a much more decent attempt than the Minister to answer to the House for the actions of the Department for which the Minister is responsible. Deputy Childers has tried to do the best he could as a member of the Party to which he belongs to justify what the Minister has not attempted to justify by resort to figures which, to my mind, make a very unsatisfactory meal, but which can be made to prove any sort of thing.

I do not intend to try to follow Deputy Childers into the vast morass of figures into which he has travelled, but I congratulate him on the research he has carried out in an effort to prove his case. I, however, am more or less inclined to fall back on the acid test of what we find in the country, what is the net result of what has been, and is being, done by the Department, and its reactions on the people, as we find them. The Deputy has painted for us a nice picture of what he hopes will be done in the future, arising out of the war, and that is one of the aspects which we should be examining. We should be planning ahead for development in this country after the war, and I suggest that, if that planning ahead is to be left to the people who have failed to plan for the present, the future must definitely be regarded as black. In supporting the motion to refer back the Estimate, I want to say that I know of no Department in the State which has failed more completely in a very important task than the Minister's Department, viewed from any angle.

They are vested with a very serious and important responsibility, and, as has been stressed by various speakers who have preceded me, the main point to be considered is the unemployment problem. More than anybody else, the Minister for Industry and Commerce must be held accountable and responsible for the employment or unemployment of our people, and, measuring the Department by that standard, I ask any of the most ardent supporters or admirers of the Department if he will say that they have been successful in relation to that all-important question. To my mind, they have been a complete failure. They have perpetuated and concentrated on the old tinkering methods, and have never seemed to see the necessity for grappling in a broad national way with it. They have tried to apply small poultices to serious cankers, and the result, of course, has been that the problem has grown worse and worse.

The Minister told us that there were fewer unemployed than last year by approximately 3,000, that there was a decline in unemployment of approximately 4 per cent. What does this reflect? The Minister also spoke of so many people having left their normal employment to enlist in the Defence Forces. The Minister very cautiously refrained from stating to what defence force he was referring. While we are glad to admit that a very considerable number of people went into the Defence Forces of this country, I suggest that the proportion of those from employment was relatively small. But a very considerable number has gone into the defence force of another country, to which he has not referred.

Why refer to that now?

What justification is there?

In the interests of truth.

What justification can the Deputy adduce to substantiate the statement he has made?

Certainly the Minister said in his statement that so many had left employment in order to enlist in the Defence Forces.

In our Defence Forces.

I am quoting from the Minister's statement. He did not say to what defence force. I presume that he was referring to the Defence Force of this country, and I think I am right in attributing that meaning to the Minister. I am extending that, by reference to the Minister's silence, to the fact that one of the methods by which unemployment has been reduced is by a considerable number going into the defence force of another country.

I am asking the Deputy if he can adduce any evidence? I produced figures.

I am repeating that. The Minister has a better opportunity than I have, but I have many opportunities to maintain and uphold that figure from my personal knowledge of my own district, and also of this city. One of the artificial factors which have contributed to keep our employment figure lower is, in addition to migrating and deporting our people to industrial work in Britain, the very considerable number compelled to join the British Army. The Minister states the Period Order, as applied this year, does not relatively affect his computations, notwithstanding the fact that the introduction of the order this year was, I think, three months earlier than last year. If that is so, there is no use in talking of common sense figures. If the fact that you decline to give unemployment assistance to men from the month of March this year as against June last year, and struck them off your books three months earlier than last year, has no serious reflection or does not affect the computation of your figures, there is no sense in keeping books at all.

I said that the reports we have got here from year to year of unemployment figures are only taken from the records of employment exchanges, and do not mean anything. It simply means that men are struck off the records by means of the unemployment period order, as no longer entitled to benefit. They are assumed to be employed at that moment. That is all that happens here. I have asked, for several years past, if the Minister for Industry and Commerce will take the trouble to pursue these people who were struck off under period orders 1, 2 and, subsequently, 3, to know what became of them and how many actually did become employed. However, the Minister's predecessor—not the Minister himself, I think—told us he had not attempted to trace those people. The order came in on the 1st June or the 1st March for the small valuation people, but, whether it was June or March, they were simply taken off the books and told to go away and do the work waiting to be done. It was not worth the Minister's while to ascertain how many in actual fact did secure that employment.

The Minister or his predecessor never told us how many of the people immediately adjacent to cities and towns—and who had never stood in a hayfield or a garden—and who were engaged all their lives in industrial employment, were classified, because they were resident outside the borough stone, amongst the agricultural community, notwithstanding the distinct classification on the books of the employment exchange, and sent ruthlessly to do this work. How many of these got employment? Of course, none of them did. It meant a saving on the books of the employment exchange and a fictitious figure produced for this House and for the people, to delude us that unemployment was not as serious as previously. I remark no change having been made in 1941 as distinct from 1940, except that we have a Third Period Order, sweeping all types of people into its mesh, as in 1940. The Minister states that, for the purpose of his argument, the earlier Period Order does not affect his computations. We find the Department which has been eulogised by Deputy Childers as having done all they possibly can do, engaged in the things which, to my mind, should not matter. They are utterly regardless of the fact that we are passing through a serious economic crisis, which cannot be avoided and which calls for all the consummate skill of the Department and the Government as a whole, to obviate its harmful vicissitudes, but the time of the House has been wasted for the past few weeks, forcing down the necks of the citizens of the country a most unpalatable pill which they did not ask for and which even their medical officer would not consider necessary—in the form of a Trade Union Bill, accompanied by the black draught of Order 83. In the meantime, the same Department came in here some years ago to tell us, at their own request, that the transport industry was in such a parlous position that it could no longer continue to exist without having an immediate and urgent operation performed. As a substitute for the major operation of transport legislation, the Transport Tribunal was formed, which the Minister then said would report before the 8th of the following February. That is about three years ago. That Transport Tribunal report, again promised quite recently, has not yet materialised.

Someone might ask what that has got to do with the case. I suggest that the delay in issuing this Transport Tribunal report is a very serious matter to the general economic success of the country. The railways have been forced back now into a position something like that which they used to be in—because of circumstances they are going up. At the moment, they are being called upon to become the major transport facilities for the entire country, yet they are left unaware—I presume they have not been told, as the House has not been told—of the contents of the Transport Tribunal report. Not knowing their eventual determination and destination, companies in that state are not able to plan, as they should be able to plan, for the vast development which is taking place in their resources. They are called upon now to be the main haulage system for the entire country, for food, fuel and other requirements of the State, owing to the paucity of petrol coming from outside sources.

The railways have to be made now— and are being made—the main factors in the carrying on of the country's trade. I suggest that it is manifestly unfair to them—if for no other consideration whatever—that they are not to be consulted and told the plans, intentions and decisions of the Transport Tribunal which sat two and a half years ago. That would enable them to advance on a big scale and try to cope with unemployment, as the country is entitled to ask them to do. These matters are considered to be only details and are left in the pigeon holes of the Department of Industry and Commerce, while they are pursuing their merry round of introducing new legislation of a character that is inclined not to be remedial but harmful, disturbing and dislocating at a time when harmony is required.

Another one of their activities which should not escape the Minister is that they have distinguished themselves by, in my opinion, violating the Constitution, if not actually conscripting some of our people—no other word would fill the bill to state my feelings about it. Boys from 18 years of age to 25 will not be allowed to participate in the turf drive in the national emergency. They will not be allowed by the labour exchange to cut turf, but must join the Construction Corps, as the Department has decided to pay no unemployment assistance to them. Even if they wished to go to the bog, they will not be allowed to go as the men must be drawn, in the first instance, from people in receipt of benefit or assistance. I suggested on many occasions in this House impartially that that is a bad national outlook to take on a question of national importance. We want to get the maximum amount of turf cut.

I ask is it fair or reasonable to allow anybody to control such an important Department and take this twopenny-halfpenny view of the situation, that men in the prime of life from 18 to 25 must go into the Construction Corps? They must get into uniform. I have had my attention called to the case of a boy on whom his mother and two or three sisters were depending. The few shillings he got from the labour exchange were of some use to the family. That boy will not be allowed to work at the cutting of turf and he will not receive any assistance from the employment exchange. If he joins the Construction Corps, the 1/- a day which he will receive will be of no use to his dependents. That is another item that ought to be placarded as an achievement of the Department of Industry and Commerce—their contribution to the national fuel drive and their endeavour to rob the country of the services of healthy, strong young men from 18 to 25 years, in their attempt to conscript them and put them into uniform which, I believe, is contrary to the Constitution. We were told that this was to be a voluntary force. I do not think it is a voluntary force if you can tell a boy that he must either join the Construction Corps or starve. That may not be held by the Minister to be conscription but I say, definitely, that it is conscription. It is just as much conscription as if the press gang were to take him by the back of the neck and force him into uniform.

The Minister told us to-night—I was glad to hear the reference—that the control of turf development had been transferred to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance. Is it any wonder that a change was made? I hope the turf drive will have a greater chance of success than it would have had under former circumstances. Deputy Childers, in his defence of the Department, said he was dealing only with the 1938 figures, which would not bring him up to the abnormal period. He made quite a good defence for the normal period, but surely the Government ought to have been capable of planning for the abnormal period since the war broke out? If we want a true picture of the position in the country since the war broke out, we should have to appeal to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The Government have failed to tell us what the position in the country is. Only the members of a society such as the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the medical officers of the dispensary districts could enlighten us as to the true position. They could give us a more accurate picture than all the statistics which could be produced.

That position is due to the lack of planning and to lack of provision of suitable employment at reasonable rates of pay and, for this I hold that the Department of Industry and Commerce is largely responsible. The effects of their failure are going to be felt not alone to-day but in the future. They will lead to lasting deterioration in our country as a whole.

I want to refer to a document which I heartily endorse: it is a statement issued from the Annual Ard Fheis of the League of the Kingship of Christ, on the 8th December, 1940. This statement says:—

"A very large proportion of men are still without work of any kind, while others can only look forward to intermittent work or to employment at low rates of pay. Such economic insecurity constitutes an almost insurmountable barrier to marriage and it is apparent from recent official statistics that the situation is becoming more and more serious. Of women between the ages of 20 and 35, only one in three is married and at least one quarter of all the women in the country never get married. Such an overwhelming proportion of unmarried women has no parallel in any other country in the world (Census of Population, 1936, Volume V, Part 1, pages 24, 33, 35 and 217).

"The consequent steep decline in the number of children, which is especially evident in the rural areas, strikes at the very foundation of the nation and spells its ruin if an effective remedy is not quickly applied. It is obvious that a nation without sufficient children has no future, whatever its political status or the extent of its territory."

That paucity of marriages is attributable not to any inclination towards celibacy on the part of the people but to economic stress. The position provides serious cause for reflection for the Minister and his Department. The people are not marrying because of their inability to maintain a home. The race is declining. I think that we are the only white race who, apart from the war, are so declining and deteriorating. The position presents a definite challenge to the Minister and to the Government as a whole. They are not taking the steps which they have been appealed to from every platform to take. They are not giving sufficient attention to the serious effects on the future of our race—not on the labour section alone but on the whole race—of their failure to plan except in the tinkering twopence halfpenny way to which I have referred. The work is there to be done. Deputy Childers spoke of the financial aspect. That there is plenty of work to be done, cannot be denied.

We were left a legacy of neglected work by the people who controlled this country in the past. We have not attempted to cope with that work. We have not dealt adequately with afforestation, coast erosion, or any of the many schemes which suggest themselves to people's minds to-day on which men could be employed at reasonable rates of pay. Their wages would circulate amongst the shopkeeping population and the farmers, and everybody in the community would benefit. We do not set our men at work because it would upset the balance we are maintaining at Thread-needle Street. The time has come to get over this inferiority complex, and to realise that we are entitled to create the necessary credit, and to have sufficient confidence in the future to put our unemployed people into the useful employment which is waiting, so as to enable them to build up assets for the country, and also to maintain their homes and families. Otherwise, there is no future for the country. This Estimate represents a continuance of the definite failure marked by the Ministry since it came into office, and it certainly has not been improved during the régime of the present occupant of the chair in this Department.

Deputy Childers referred to the modesty of the Minister when introducing his Estimate. That is a great tribute to pay to the Minister— that he has preserved his humility notwithstanding the manner in which he has been serenaded by members of the Labour Party and the Opposition during the past three weeks. I do not know whether it is true or not. Deputy Childers dealt, to a great extent, with the distant past and the distant future. He did not dwell, to any great extent, on the very serious present. He did not dwell, to any extent, on the failure of the Department of Industry and Commerce to cope with the difficulties of the present emergency. This is an agricultural country, and it should be the duty of the Department of Industry and Commerce to find substitutes for the many commodities in which the agricultural industry is deficient.

I understand that in Germany they have an unpronounceable word for substitute materials. In this country we should devote a very considerable time to the production of substitutes for the very essential articles which agriculture requires. We have a native supply of phosphates, and we cannot import phosphates now. We have not heard from the Minister to what extent our deposits of raw phosphates are being developed. We have heard very little of the amount of phosphatic manures which will be available for our agricultural industry during the coming year. It should also be possible to produce other forms of manure such as potassic manure, sulphate of ammonia and nitrogenous manures, which are all essential to agricultural production. We have heard very little from the Minister for Industry and Commerce, or those who applaud his good work, as to what is being done in that direction.

Deputy Childers referred to another form of fertiliser, lime, which is home-produced, and the production of which could be greatly expanded. This is one matter to which the Minister should direct immediate attention. When it is impossible to secure artificial manures there is no doubt that land can be greatly improved, particularly when it has become sour, by the application of quantities of lime. Agriculturists are only beginning to realise the extent to which large areas are deficient in lime. Therefore wherever limestone can be obtained in sufficient quantities, kilns should be provided by the Government.

With regard to transport, it is generally believed that the Minister's Department has not availed of every opportunity to provide substitutes for petrol and other fuels which are now so scarce. We have found that producer gas plants are workable and have been generally successful. We are at a loss to know why the manufacture of such plants has not been undertaken on an increased scale. I do not think that the change over to producer gas should be confined to the period of this emergency. If we were to change over to producer gas, having regard to the fact that we have the native fuel supplies we would be able to reduce to a considerable extent, even in normal times, our importation of petrol and other motor fuels.

A good deal of concern has been expressed with regard to lighting, particularly in areas which are not linked up with our electricity supply system. I should like to know whether anything has been done in relation to the manufacture of candles from native tallow or some other commodity. These would be a desirable substitute for paraffin when it is not obtainable in sufficient quantities. So far as our native coal supplies are concerned, I am definitely of the opinion that the Minister's Department must have been asleep for the last few years in regard to extending production in our coal mines. We have certain coal mines in Leinster which have been developed fairly extensively. We have others which have been developed only on a minor scale and which are capable of wide expansion if the necessary capital were made available.

It is possible some of these mines may not be capable of being developed on a profit-making basis, but they may be capable of producing a large amount of fuel to meet our requirements, if they are developed by the State. I know a company has been formed for the purpose of developing our coal mines, but a lot of time has been lost and this company seems to be rather slow in proceeding with the work of producing coal. The result is that it is not possible to anticipate if there will be any appreciable increase in the production of coal during the next few months, and we may have to face the possibility of a serious shortage of fuel during the coming winter.

Deputy Corry referred to iron and steel and I think that, apart from whatever has happened to the factory engaged in the manufacture of iron and steel, sufficient has not been done in respect to the collection of scrap iron and waste metals generally. Farmers are to a large extent the heaviest purchasers of iron and steel and so far as I know no attempt has been made to collect scrap iron and waste metal from the farming community. I am quite certain that there are ample quantities of waste metals lying around the country which could be utilised to the advantage of the country and it is regrettable that some system of collection has not been organised.

I asked a question with regard to waste paper. I believe it is the function of the Minister for Industry and Commerce to deal with the industry engaged in the manufacture of paper and it should be his duty to see that there is no waste and that whatever waste paper is available will be collected and utilised in the paper-making industry.

In this connection very little is being done over the greater part of the country. My opinion is that in this, as in every other Department, there is too great a concentration of administration in the City of Dublin. I think it would be a good idea if the Minister were to distribute officials of his Department throughout the country. If I might make a suggestion, it would be to divide the country into, say, 200 administrative districts, with each district in charge of an official, instead of having them all concentrated in the towns. If that were done, a good deal of very useful development work could be undertaken in different areas and a good deal of the time which is now lost sending officials from the city to remote parts of the country, getting back reports and communicating backwards and forwards from the remoter districts, could be saved and, on the whole, you would have a better administrative system and undeveloped potentialities in our rural areas would be given much needed attention.

Deputy Childers referred to one point in connection with the improvement of lands. He suggested that deposits of a manurial nature, such as might be found on roadsides and so on, should be collected and utilised for the improvement of land, and our unemployment problem might be relieved to a great extent by the collection and utilisation of such deposits. In addition, the productivity of our land would be very greatly increased. In that connection, it may surprise the Minister to hear that when a farmer suggested that work of this kind might be carried out under the farm improvements scheme, he was informed by an inspector that work of that kind did not come under the scheme at all, an opinion which I think is rather extraordinary having regard to the fact that we want to get the utmost productivity out of the land. We have not got sufficient artificial manures, which is all the greater reason why the alternative that Deputy Childers suggested should be adopted, yet officials have made it known that grants made available under the farm improvement scheme should not be utilised for that purpose. That just shows how officials in the City of Dublin trying to make rules for rural areas, agricultural districts mainly, are handicapped. I repeat the suggestion which I have already made that the country be divided into small administrative districts, and that the Minister appoint one official in charge of each district instead of having all these officials concentrated in the City of Dublin. I think if that suggestion were adopted the Minister would find that, in a very short time, it would be possible to develop rural areas and to provide employment of a decentralised nature throughout the length and breadth of the country.

Deputy Childers referred also to the fact that our agricultural output has not increased to any extent. I am suggesting towards that end measures which lie within the power of the Minister for Industry and Commerce to adopt, namely to provide as far as he possibly can, an increased supply of manures for agriculture and an increased quantity of home produced lime. I ask the Minister also when he is replying to the debate—it is possible he may not reply at all; he has lately developed a tendency to regard himself as the strong, silent man of a weak talkative Government—to state whether his Department has investigated the potentialities of the mineral deposits in County Wicklow. I think Wicklow is one of the richest counties as regards mineral deposits.

Mr. Morrissey

The Deputy is not the first to talk in that way.

I know attempts were made to get gold in the county, but I do not think that gold at present is a very valuable mineral.

The Deputy means Wicklow gold.

From the point of view of providing us with essential products that we require at the moment, there are other minerals that are more valuable or equally valuable. We have iron ore deposits, lead deposits and other deposits in Wicklow which are capable of very extensive development, and I hope that when the Minister's new mineral development company begins operations they will turn their attention to that county.

One of the subjects which the Industrial Research Council is investigating is seaweed products, and one of the derivatives of seaweed is called calcium alginate. It has been found that calcium alginate is a very valuable ingredient in the manufacture of starch. At the present moment there is a great shortage of starch in Great Britain, and there is a market there for all the calcium alginate that can be produced in this country. I should be glad to know when the Minister is replying what progress has been made with research into this question, if there are any possibilities of its commercial production and, if so, when it will be possible for that commercial production to commence. I have endeavoured to obtain this information from the Department, but so far without any success. Possibly when the Minister is replying, he might deal with the question and let me know if it is at all possible to produce this substance on a commercial scale. I have no idea of what the process is or how much plant is required. It may be that, having regard to the difficulties of the moment, it is impossible to obtain the necessary plant. I think the Minister might at least make clear whether it is possible, because there is a valuable market for this product and one which could be easily cultivated if it were possible to produce it.

Listening to the Minister one would think that the times were normal. No references were made of a constructive nature, at any rate, in his opening statement to any proposal for dealing with the unemployment situation. I think the Minister admitted that that is a growing problem, a problem which will have to be tackled in the very near future, if any headway is to be made. The Minister and other Ministers have reminded us repeatedly that, in consequence of the emergency, they expect that this winter will be a very bad one, for the poor especially. In view of that, it is very surprising that the Minister has not given any indication of what he proposes to do during the coming winter months to deal with this vastly-growing problem. He went to great pains to indicate what he was not prepared to do. He dealt at length with the proposals contained in the report of the Drainage Commission and he pointed out that the labour content of the scheme mentioned would be very small. Of course there is something in that contention. At the moment it may not be desirable that work of that kind should be undertaken, but there are various other kinds of works which have been pointed out from time to time from these benches and other benches which could be initiated.

I would term the Minister's speech an academic statement, a statement which might be all right in normal times. Deputy Childers followed in the footsteps of the Minister in delivering what might be considered a good lecture if delivered at a conference of industrialists. It is to be noted that Deputy Childers has thrown overboard his Party's policy of economic self-sufficiency. I can imagine that if Deputy Childers six or seven years ago had made statements in connection with that policy such as he made here to-night, he would be expelled from the Party. Deputy Childers dealt with the situation which he envisaged might develop immediately after the war Nobody knows how long this war is going to last, and surely we are not going to wait to do any planning until it is over. Nobody knows who is going to win the war. I am sure a lot will depend on the particular set of belligerents who will win.

There are some things that I would like to speak about in connection with the Minister's Department. There was set up in the country during the last 12 months what has come to be known as the Construction Corps. I know the Minister had nothing to do with the setting-up of it, but his Department is responsible for the payment of unemployment assistance and unemployment benefit, and I would like to know from him under what authority he has refused to pay unemployment benefit or unemployment assistance to people who have refused to join the Construction Corps. I know that he has power to refuse benefit to people who will not work. I am submitting to the Minister, and to the House, that this is not work in the accepted sense. There are some people who might be approached to join the Construction Corps, and, if they refused, the Minister would perhaps be right in stopping the payment of benefit to them, but I know of cases where apprentices have been offered work in the Corps and, because they refused it, they have been taken off the employment exchange and refused benefit. I submit to the Minister that, surely, is stretching it too far. I know of cases in my own town, of young men serving their apprenticeship as carpenters, who had been idle for a few months but were expecting to go back to work in a short time, who were asked to go away on the Construction Corps. I suggest to the Minister that is not fair. The fact of their going might seriously interfere with their apprenticeship; it might succeed in preventing them from getting a knowledge of the trade which they have set their hearts on.

In that connection, I want to ask the Minister when it is proposed to put the Apprenticeship Act into operation. I know that, to a small extent, it is in operation in the City of Dublin. So far as apprenticeship through the country is concerned, terrible abuses are occurring. That may be largely attributed to the number of unskilled men that we have in the country. I know a certain firm which takes in young boys, supposedly to serve their apprenticeship to a particular trade. They are kept at work for two or three years, but when it comes to the time that they should get a decent wage, they are thrown out on the streets, and other young men are brought in. The result of all that is that, in this country to-day, there are more young men idle between the ages of 19 and 25 than between other ages. I think the time has arrived when the Minister should seriously consider his attitude in regard to that Act, and try to have it put into operation generally.

At the recent Technical Education Congress, expression was given to certain opinions on behalf of the executive of that body. It was stated very definitely that they were very anxious and, in fact, had offered to co-operate with the Minister in any efforts that he might make to put the Act into operation. There is very little use in talking about vocational and technical education in the country so long as the Minister is content to leave that Act in a cupboard in his Department.

Does not the trades council control apprenticeship?

The trades council does nothing of the kind.

It does, in Dublin.

The trouble with Deputy Kelly is that he thinks Dublin is Ireland.

I do not; but I know that to be so.

I am not talking about Dublin at all.

I am not talking about Dublin, either. I am stating a fact which I know, that the Dublin Trades Council controls apprenticeship.

What does the Deputy mean?

That is all I wanted to tell the Deputy.

Deputy Childers recited a litany of the days that were lost during the period 1939, 1940 and 1941, and prefaced his remarks by saying that he welcomed the action of the Government in introducing certain legislation. Of course he had in his mind the Trade Union Bill, and I presume Emergency Powers Order No. 83. If Deputy Childers is of opinion that the Trade Union Bill is going to cure things of that kind, he is making a terrible mistake.

The Deputy will have further opportunities of speaking on that Bill.

I was just answering what Deputy Childers said. I take it that the Minister for Industry and Commerce, with the Department of Supplies, is responsible for trying to secure certain supplies of raw material for industry. I am sure he is interested in that from the point of view of the amount of employment to be given. There are two iron foundries in the town I come from, and, as the Minister knows, they employ between them from 600 to 700 men in turning out agricultural machinery. Their position is a very serious one at the moment. They are of the opinion that they will be unable to carry over next winter, because they have not been able to get sufficient supplies of steel and iron. I am not blaming the Minister that he has not got steel and iron, but I would ask him to make a special effort to try to secure supplies, especially since we have now got certain ships of our own. It would be a very serious matter if two firms employing that number of men had to go out of production during the coming winter.

During the last fortnight I had occasion to approach the Minister in connection with the payment of office cleaners at the Wexford exchange. I have the assurance of the Minister that he is investigating the matter. At the same time I would like to draw the attention of the House to the wages paid to these two office cleaners. During the summer season they are paid 6/11 per week each, and during the winter season 9/1 per week. I would ask the Minister in all seriousness is that a wage which should be paid by a Government Department— that should set a headline and be a model employer for the rest of the country? These two people have to go into the exchange morning and evening. They have to wash down the exchange completely every Saturday, and for that they get the splendid sum of 6/11 per week. I hope the Minister does not suggest that Emergency Powers Order No. 83 ought to be applied in their case.

The Deputy is no doubt aware of the fact that it does not apply.

I said that I hoped the Minister did not suggest that it should, but the Minister has done such funny things during the last couple of months that I would not be surprised if he did apply it to them. These are the matters in which I am specially interested. I ask the Minister to give special attention to the case of these office cleaners, and to the question of procuring supplies of steel and iron for the Wexford foundries.

Would the Minister say if any serious effort is being made to secure a greater supply of anthracite coal? What is being done to develop the Tipperary coalfields which the Minister got pretty considerable sums of money for some time ago? My information is that more coal could be got out of the Castlecomer mines than is, in fact, being got. There is a big demand for anthracite coal at the present time, but, notwithstanding that, I understand that a number of miners from the North Kilkenny area have gone to England within recent weeks with passports which, of course, were provided by the Government to enable them to go. I think that is a very serious state of affairs. It goes to show that the workers resent the application of Emergency Powers Order No. 83, and that they prefer to go over and stand their chance of being bombed and killed in England rather than remain in this country on a starvation wage.

I did not intend to intervene in this debate, but I do so because the last speaker has made a remark, which I am sure he is able to substantiate, which is of very serious consequence to the whole country. He mentioned it from the point of view of the danger of 600 or 700 workers being thrown out of employment in Wexford owing to a shortage of material for Wexford foundries, where agricultural machinery is manufactured. What is going to be the consequence for the whole country if these foundries are shut down for want of material? Is there any connection between that condition of affairs and the matter that Deputy Corry has been raising here for months? Has the Government allowed raw material, steel and iron, to be shipped out of the country as scrap and at scrap prices while we were rushing headlong to the condition represented by Deputy Corish? If we are moving towards such a position, the Minister responsible should be charged with criminal negligence.

There is no use in issuing emergency orders or in passing Acts requiring certain work to be done when, in the midst of doing that work, people cannot get the machinery or the motive power to do it. I have been speaking recently to people who are interested in the development of native fertilisers and they complained bitterly that they have not got from the Government the support and the encouragement they should have got and which they expected. I do not know if there is anything in that. In the development of industry here we were told, and of course we expected, that the natural development would be in the industries that were racy of the soil, something akin to agriculture. In the present national emergency and international emergencies, we are thrown back entirely on our own resources. Are we making reasonable provision; are we planning ahead? Does the Government think that merely by making an order that a certain amount of land in the country must be broken up and put under cultivation they are going to meet the food situation? They evidently did think that but it is revealed here to-night that they did not make provision to secure the implements of industry to cultivate the land and to produce food. Neither did they make provision to procure the stimulants and food necessary for the soil in the production of food. Another department has been so entirely lacking in foresight that you have not the motive power to drive machinery to cultivate the soil and to garner the crops. It is a wonder the Taoiseach should say that the country does not realise the danger it is up against? Those who are engaged in agriculture and in industry know the dangers they are up against.

I think the Deputy is on the Estimate for Agriculture and Estimate for Supplies rather than the Estimate for Industry and Commerce.

I submit that I do not think I am. The production of iron and steel is an industrial matter and these are required for agricultural production. We are short of them.

How do you know you are?

It has been stated here by a Deputy.

Wait till you hear the answer to the Deputy before you assume that.

To catch the right estimate here on any subject pertaining to the economic life of the country is getting increasingly difficult because what is appropriate to one Ministry or Department this week is shifted to another Ministry next week. You are chasing the hare round about and you do not know what form it is in.

You never catch it.

No. So, when Ministers, on important national matters like this, adopt such elusive methods I feel inclined to give as much credence to a Deputy, particularly when he is speaking of the industrial life of his constituency, as I give to a statement of a Minister. I would like to know what the Minister is doing to make available Clare phosphates. Are there phosphates in Clare? Will we be told whether there are or not? If there are, why are they not worked in sufficient quantities to make them available for the country? If agriculture is to be the handmaid of industry, industry must be the master of agriculture, and why is not a supreme effort made to produce Clare phosphates and make them available for agriculture?

I have been told by one of the most distinguished industrial chemists of the country that 3 per cent. of sea water is potash and that it can be extracted commercially economically, that the Government had been approached on this matter and that they did not give the necessary encouragement. Phosphates, too, are extracted from the air in France. Why is not some effort made to do that here? Can we get any further than talk in an emergency of this kind? I think the policy of self-sufficiency is getting more criticism than it deserves. As has been stated by the previous speaker, none of us knows how long this war will last. The situation has every appearance of lasting for years, and even when the war ceases it will be a long time before we can get back to normality. By that I mean back to the time when we could depend for our manufactured goods on raw materials coming from the ends of the earth. When this war is over there will be no ships. Even if peace were declared to-morrow there would be no ships to carry goods to this country. It would take years to get back to normality. During the years of belligerency and during the period of repairs in the years succeeding peace, we will have to depend on our own resources. We had better get down to that.

In the county that I represent, we are not at all satisfied with what the Government has done to make provision for fuel for the coming winter. I do not intend to go into that. But it seems to me that the Government is shelving responsibility to other bodies, and overcrowding other bodies with work, bodies that have been constituted to do a different kind of work from that which the Government is imposing upon them, instead of setting up their own machinery to meet the emergency created by the shortage of fuel, food and materials. I suppose I will be told that this is appropriate to the Department of Supplies. Our industries depend on the supply of raw materials. If I ask the Minister what is the position of industries which have to depend on imported raw materials, I dare say the Chair will point out that that is appropriate to the Department of Supplies. In discussing matters of such wide national importance, if we are to be hemmed in and not allowed to discuss supplies other than on the Vote for the Department of Supplies— which is only a child aged about a year or two, a child of the Department of Industry and Commerce—it will be very difficult to discuss intelligently the matters which come before this House; it certainly will be very difficult to discuss them comprehensively. I will accept the Minister's reassurance if he tells the House that there is no danger of a shortage of iron and steel for the foundries of this country. If there is no shortage of iron and steel, why are our foundries not put to work on producing parts for all the agricultural machinery we have in this country, imported as well as native produced? I am waiting for parts for a reaper and binder from America. Why can they not be made here? Why are we not producing the necessary parts for all the imported machinery which we have here? We are asked to produce food, and those parts are necessary if we are to produce it. Why does not the Minister see that those parts are made here? When a man goes out to cut 40 or 50 acres of wheat with a reaper and binder, he may not have been working for an hour when a vital part of the machinery is broken, and he cannot get it replaced here. Does the Government appreciate the difficulties which the people who are producing food are up against? If those difficulties are appreciated, the Government should see to it that, in the next five or six weeks before the harvest comes in, our foundries here will set to work on the making of those necessary parts.

I should be glad also to have an assurance from the Minister that we have an adequate supply of horse-shoeing iron. My information is that we have not, and that there will be a serious shortage in a short time. That is a very serious matter. There is an old proverb about the shoe being lost and the rider lost because a nail had not been tightened in the shoe. If the proverbial nail is not tightened in time, it may cause the loss of our neutrality in this world conflict. If we are to retain our independence and retain our neutrality, we must be self-supporting. The policy of self-sufficiency proclaimed by the Government is now on its trial. If it succeeds, the Minister and his Government will succeed. If it fails now, when it is on its trial, the Minister and the Government will fail through not having adequately developed that policy after having had nine years in which to do it.

I suppose it is intended to give the Minister this Vote to-night. It will not be possible then to deal extensively with the matters which have been raised here, particularly by one of the speakers on the Government side. We are getting away a little bit from that period in our history when we had two different policies to put before the country, and the events of the last 14 or 15 years have afforded us an opportunity of examining the results of the two policies which have been pursued. Judging by the results, that is by the facts of the case, we would be very much mistaken indeed if we were to take what Deputy Childers has said here to-night as representing anything like the true situation in the country. In the first place, we must consider what percentage of the people of this country are employed. According to the 1936 Census the total number of persons employed amounted to 45 per cent. Of that 45 per cent., 22 per cent. are engaged in agriculture, 7 per cent. are engaged as other producers, makers and repairers; transport and communications account for 2 per cent., and 14 per cent. are engaged on commercial, professional and other occupations. It is not by any means with a view to belittling the secondary industries of the country that I say that, so far as the secondary industries are concerned, the numbers employed represent one-third of those who are engaged in agriculture. It is obvious, on examination, that the policy which has been pursued here since 1932 has been one of absolute indifference to agriculture, and of hastening, regardless of the consequences, any sort of industrial activity, whether or not it was to the benefit of the country, or whether or not, in giving employment in one direction, the policy was going to put people out of occupation in another direction.

That disturbance which has taken place is responsible for the results as we can see them from an examination of the number of those who have been in occupation from 1927 to date. From the year 1927 to 1931, a period of five years, let us take a certain basis of calculation for the number of those in gainful occupation. In that regard, let us not misunderstand one another, because other figures could be quoted, and one could show different results from other returns. What I am giving is a calculation based upon the sum of money contributed annually in national health insurance. Taking that calculation as representing the number of persons employed, I find that the numbers paying national health insurance contributions increased by 57,000 in those five years from 1927 to 1931. An average of 11,400 additional persons were put into occupations every year. Let us now take the other side of the account, and see what has happened since 1932. From 1932 to 1939, the numbers amounted to only 9,375, a total of 75,000 persons in eight years. I am not taking this year, because it could be alleged that, by reason of the disturbances due to the emergency which has taken place, it would not be a fair comparison. The number has diminished by 11,000 this year, and that would affect that calculation very considerably indeed. Now it is a fact that, in so far as unemployment insurance contributions are concerned, only 27,000 persons were put into occupations in those five years from 1927 to 1931, whereas, for the eight years from 1932 up to 1939, 68,000 persons were put in—an average of 8,500, or 3,000 persons more annually. If that is so, 6,000 additional persons were, each year from 1927 to 1931, in occupations other than those covered by unemployment insurance, whereas the average under the new policy was only 875. Now, there are the two policies for you, as far as the results are concerned: that one concentrated upon a particular sphere of activity in the country, and that the other was directed on a more national basis, embracing all classes of the community and leaning, as far as it was possible to lean, towards the interests and the advantage of agriculture.

Now, it may be alleged that the circumstances of the period operated in favour of the policy that was pursued from 1927 to 1931. It may be. The Minister is perfectly entitled to make that case. During the industrial blizzard, as it was called, when, perhaps, never in the history of the world was there such a shock given to employment, to industry, to finance, and to every possible sphere of occupation that one could mention, as there was during those periods from the end of 1928 down to 1931 or 1932—when even the richest, or what was regarded as one of the richest, countries in the world, Great Britain, staggered off the gold standard, and we had not long to wait until even the United States, that had over £2,000,000,000 in gold, followed suit—surely it will not be denied that in these rather difficult years, 1927 to 1931, taking again into account what we had to pay for our agricultural imports, and paying for them out of our agricultural exports, we had in each of those years an average of almost £15,000,000 of an advantage to agriculture. We had an advantage of £15,000,000 annually, even in those bad years when the world was rocking from the effects of the economic blizzard.

We then got into a new policy in this country, a policy of self-sufficiency in which, amongst others, the farmers, agriculture, and all the rest of it, were to be helped. Let us take, over eight years, the corresponding figures of what was left from our agricultural export values after we had paid for our agricultural imports. The amount left was an average of £6,400,000. Does anybody, in his senses, think that it is likely that you are going to develop, improve, expand and extend the secondary arm when you have given such a paralytic blow to agriculture? That policy was pursued in direct opposition to the type of policy that had been pursued during the first ten years of the existence of this State, when there was selective protection, when moderate tariffs were imposed, when taxation was reduced, and when the burden and the weight of costs of production were decreased, as far as it was humanly possible to decrease them, upon our main industry, as a consequence of which more money was available to spend on the secondary industries of this country. The results of that policy at the time were reflected in the resiliency and buoyancy of the increased occupations that were made available for the people of this country.

We should be very glad if we could accept the optimistic views that have been expressed by one of the speakers on the Government side. Deputy Childers, but when we want to examine what has been the effect of this industrial efficiency of which the Deputy has spoken, over these few years, with a view to seeing to what extent we have developed an export trade, we have, again, to look in the books to see what the Government themselves have to say about the problem. Let us examine the figures for the period prior to this great industrial expansion, when, as some people would say, a policy oflaissez faire was being adopted by the Government, and the figures for the succeeding period. The exports of industrial goods—I am leaving out now vehicles and parts, because there was a very big extension of the manufacture of vehicles and parts in Cork, principally tractor parts during a couple of those years, and it might be regarded as unfair if they were included—the exports of industrial goods, as I say, excluding exports of vehicles and parts, are as follows for the years 1927 to 1938:— 1927, £1,477,000; 1928, £1,762,000; 1929, £1,606,000; 1930, £1,356,000; 1931, £1,139,000; 1932, £993,000; 1933, £697,000; 1934, £675,000; 1935, £636,000; 1936, £630,000; 1937, £648,000, and 1938, £592,000. Now, these figures are from the Trade and Shipping Statistics, and they show that in 1938, at the peak of the industrial expansion that had taken place here, as we were told, the figures had fallen to £592,000. We are not engaged, at the present moment, in share pushing or anything of that sort, but merely dealing with the facts of the situation. Everybody would wish that our industrial exports had gone up by leaps and bounds, but the figures are there. They are the Government figures, and we cannot contradict them; they are not my figures.

The Minister has been a Minister for Finance as well as Minister for Industry and Commerce, and he has had experience during that period of the trend of taxation in this country and how, year after year, there were piled on industrialists, business people, agriculturists, and everybody else, the costs of production. He entered into possession of office here when we were raising something like £26,000,000 for running the country. We are spending, this year, £40,000,000. We are spending it: we are not raising so much, because we are going to borrow £5,000,000 of it, and we are putting over £8,000,000 of additional taxation on the people—apart from the fact that local taxation has gone up also—and getting into debt as well. Notwithstanding the fact, that, year after year, we have added to our national debt and piled on taxation on the people in order to give employment, what is the result? What has been the result of this policy of self-sufficiency? The result is that it has not been a success.

What I regret about it is this. Most of us have been here in public life 20 years, and we have got to leave it soon, because none of us will live for ever— and perhaps it is a good job for the country that we shall not—and we ought to be able to leave some headline for the future, some hope that things will improve in the future, that the faults and mistakes that were being made during the last 12 years will be remedied, and that we shall get away from this humbug of trying to mislead the people of this country by telling them that there is industrial expansion here when, as a matter of fact, our incidence of employment is going down. The previous Government was by no means alaissez faire Government. This Government, as Deputy O'Sullivan said, was a fairly lazy Government compared with the previous Government. One has only to examine the results to see what has been the effect of their policy. What is the use to us all of increasing and expanding industry in this country if the people are getting poorer, and if, as a result of that so-call industrial expansion, the incidence of employment is going to decrease?

Now, notwithstanding the fact that there was less money raised then, there was a very considerable amount of good work done in the country. We started the sugar beet industry. Deputies have stated that I had that established in my own constituency in order to sweeten my constituents there. I had nothing whatever to do with the selection of that site; it was a matter entirely for the company. But out of the taxation which was imposed, we contributed to the cost of working that particular industry: we did not make the consumers pay. It was done in order to meet a situation which this country, in common with all others, had to face at that time, namely, a drop in the price of cereals. That is one of the reasons why these figures were so favourable. The drop in the price of livestock and livestock products did not occur until later: the price of cereals, foodstuffs and other things fell first. Notwithstanding the fact that we handled less money, our net income was better by reason of it.

I have mentioned that the previous Government raised money and paid for the experiment of manufacturing sugar in this country and I want to put another matter to the Minister. I do not know what his views are about it. I intended to ask him in respect of an item here of £250 for a consultant in connection with steel production, whether anybody has been engaged; if not, when it is expected to make the appointment; and whether the consultant will be requested to report on the plant of Irish Steel, Limited, at Haulbowline. I have no particular interest in Cobh—it is not in my constituency—but there are certain towns in this country which, by reason of the changes which have taken place in the last 20 years, have been very severely hit, and Cobh is one of them. An effort ought to be made, even at the cost of putting up some money annually, to improve conditions in Cobh. It has been hit twice. First of all, by reason of the entry and exit of people, it was a place where a fairly considerable amount of money was put in circulation. Secondly, before the setting up of this State there was a considerable number of soldiers and sailors stationed there. It has lost all that.

I want to know whether the position with regard to these steelworks at Haulbowline is under the consideration of the Minister's Department. From the information at our disposal, it was at the behest, suggestion, or recommendation of the Government that these works were established. At present the works are in the hands of the courts. All I want from the Minister is information as to whether the matter has been examined with a view to seeing whether or not it would be advisable to keep the works going and whether an effort will be made to examine it favourably.

In conclusion, I should like to say to the Minister that he has had a special opportunity, by reason of his long association with the Department of Finance, to look at this industrial situation with different spectacles from those with which the Government have viewed it during the last ten years. We must get rid of this nonsense about the new factory that was making us richer when nobody knows but that it was responsible for the big fall in the number of those registered as being in employment other than those covered by unemployment insurance.

I want to direct the attention of the Minister and the House to a very serious matter about which I thought I would have heard a good deal from various speakers during this debate. I refer to the large number of people who are being engaged by employment agents from Great Britain. On Friday last, in my own town, almost 1,000 men signed up for work in Great Britain. These men are being driven out of the country in many cases by the aggressive attitude displayed by the Government in Emergency Powers (No. 83) Order. The Taoiseach last night told us that the people do not seem to realise the dangers that the country may be up against. He referred to the danger of external aggression. I speak with responsibility when I say that, to my mind, there is greater danger from this internal aggression which is being practised by a native Government through the medium of that order.

The need for an increased production of fuel has been stressed here. Everybody seems to be of the opinion —and I think there is good reason for it—that there will be definitely a fuel shortage in the coming winter. In my constituency we have the only coal mines of any capacity in the country, namely, the Castlecomer Collieries. I am informed that at least 40 of the miners employed there signed on with one of those agents on Friday last for work at coal production in Great Britain, because the Government here have denied them the right to obtain a small increase in their wages which has been long overdue. I want the Minister to tell the House, and to tell me for the information of my constituents, what the Government intend to do to deal with this very serious situation. In my opinion, it is a humbug to be preparing for national defence against external aggression while we allow this kind of aggression to be carried on with such serious effects as I have indicated, not only in regard to people who are unemployed but to people who are employed and who are leaving their employment to go to work elsewhere. I avail of this opportunity to bring that matter to the attention of the Minister and I hope there will be a satisfactory reply to it.

I am sensible of the fact that, perhaps, Deputy Cosgrave and other Deputies have been somewhat at a disadvantage owing to the understanding that we were to get this Vote to-night. I should like the indulgence of the House if I only refer to one or two or more important matters raised in the course of the debate. First of all, Deputy Benson referred to the fact that calcium alginates were produced from seaweed in Great Britain, and he wanted to know what we were doing here in regard to that matter. As he indicated, he has, in fact, been in consultation with my Department in regard to the matter, and he has also been in consultation with myself. I think on the last occasion upon which we met I pointed out that, while it was true that calcium alginates had been produced from seaweed in Great Britain and elsewhere on a commercial scale, the production is not large. The possibility of producing alginates here from seaweed is being examined in University College, Galway, under the auspices of the Industrial Research Council, but the greatest difficulty is being experienced in obtaining plant to produce these alginates upon any very extensive scale.

Deputy Hughes wanted to know what steps were going to be taken to develop the Clare phosphates. The position in relation to the Clare phosphates is this very briefly, that we have had very great difficulty in persuading the manufacturers of phosphatic manures that these phosphates are of some value. I think I gave figures in the House the other day to show that to meet normal requirements we would have to extract about 160,000 tons of material from the better of the phosphates there. Remember, there are two deposits of phosphates in Clare one of which is definitely inferior to the other. As was pointed out in the reply, of the better material we would require 162,000 tons and I am advised that there are not 162,000 tons of that material readily in sight. There may be considerable deposits, which are not readily discernible or accessible. But the deposits are in private hands, and it will be one of the fine tasks of the company which is in process of formation to ascertain upon what terms these phosphates can be secured and developed. The difficulties in the way there are going to be very great. They are going to be great because they are likely, as in the case of Slievardagh, and all other industrial developments in this country, to require plant and mechanical equipment of one sort or another which is hard to get.

I have been criticised this evening because I did not paint a glowing picture, because I did not expatiate upon the possibility of dealing successfully with the unemployment problem. I deliberately refrained from describing, as I might have done—and as Deputy Childers has manifested I could have done—the benefits which the Fianna Fáil policy has conferred upon this country, and the benefit this country has derived from the fact that there was here an earnest attempt to establish industries on a widespread scale during the past eight or nine years. I do not wish to go into the more controversial aspects of this matter, but I would like to relate anything I have to say to the difficulties of the immediate position, because we must realise what these difficulties are if we are going to stop such vain talk as I heard this evening; telling the people that this could be done, and that could be done, that we could have nitrogenous fertilisers, that we could have coal for suction gas producers, and could have petrol substitutes; in short, if it were not for the ineptitude, the incapacity and want of drive in this Government we would be in as entirely a satisfactory position as if there was no war in Europe, and as if we were not in the very centre of the battle of the Atlantic. The fact of the matter is, as I said in my opening statement, so far as procuring plant, mechanical equipment, certain essential raw materials, technical skill and even fuel, is concerned, it is virtually impossible to get any one of these things from outside this country.

Deputy Corish put a question to me as to whether supplies of steel and iron were likely to be available for the agricultural industry. My information with regard to that matter is this—and I do not want to talk too much about it —that so far as materials for the manufacture of agricultural machinery are concerned, there is no reason to fear any immediate shortage; that there are of these materials very substantial reserves. Because Deputy Corish referred to the fact that there was a shortage of steel and iron for the manufacture of agricultural equipment, Deputy Belton had to get up to make a statement charging the Minister and the Government with criminal negligence with regard to our supplies of steel and iron. What are the facts in relation to the Haulbowline industry of which we heard such a great deal? In the year 1937 a proposition was put up to the Department of Industry and Commerce, whereby the owner undertook to establish a comprehensive steel manufacturing plant in this country provided he secured fiscal protection. A company to do that was floated with something like £450,000 capital, which was estimated to be enough to build, equip and provide working capital for a comprehensive self-contained, steel-making plant.

In November, 1939, a proposal was put up to me that I should finance and guarantee an additional £250,000 for that company to enable it, not to complete the comprehensive, self-contained plant as outlined in the prospectus but to enable the company to change its production policy, and to enable it to complete some part only of the plant, which would still have left the undertaking dependent upon overseas supplies of raw materials. On examination of that proposal I refused to give that guarantee. A further proposal was submitted to me about February, 1940, which came to me ultimately in final form some time about May, 1940. The proposal this time was to complete the undertaking as originally projected and to provide a self-contained plant upon the basis of an additional expenditure of £660,000, of which the Minister for Industry and Commerce, with the sanction of the Minister for Finance, was to guarantee £500,000.

On examination I was not satisfied that we could get a self-contained plant for this additional expenditure of £660,000, of which I was to guarantee £500,000. I was not satisfied because of this fact, that the estimates were based on the assumption that the plant would be procurable from Great Britain when, in fact, at that stage, it was already clear that there would be the greatest possible difficulty in getting plant from Great Britain, and if plant was to be secured from America it would cost very much more. In any event, we may say now, that if it were possible to secure the necessary plant from America to complete the proposition project as originally put up, and to keep this undertaking going as it existed in May of last year, in my view it would have taken roughly £1,000,000, of which of course a considerable amount would have had to be paid in advance to the manufacturers of the plant.

What now are the practical difficulties apart from the financial difficulties which exist? I emphasised in introducing my Estimate the almost insuperable difficulties we are up against in procuring plant, and particularly plant of a specialised character. Steel-making plant, I have no doubt, would be very difficult to procure in America at present, but if we did succeed in procuring it, there is next the difficulty of shipping it and the difficulty of getting it erected here. Over and above those, there is what is the key difficulty in the whole matter-the difficulty of getting the necessary technical skill and competent management to ensure that this undertaking would fulfil the needs for which, in these circumstances, the Government would have to finance it.

I have been trying for quite a long time to secure competent advice in regard to this matter, and I may say that it is very difficult. I do not think I would be justified in guaranteeing the substantial capital which would be required to finance this undertaking, if I had to depend upon the advice and administrative capacity of those who have hitherto been associated with it. The undertaking has had to close, but it has had to close because, first of all, the original plans were not carried out and, secondly, because the original management, in my view, has not shown itself capable of running and developing this concern. Until such time as we can really assess the undertaking at its worth, until such time as we can get the technical and skilled experience which is necessary to operate the undertaking and until such time as we can be certain of getting delivery of the plant and getting it erected here, even after we pay for it, I cannot see, as a person who has to look at this matter realistically and as a person who has had some experience in matters of this sort, that we shall be able to resume the manufacture of iron and steel in this country.

There is no use in Deputy Hurley, Deputy Corry, or any other person, getting up here and trying to pull the wool over my eyes, or trying to lead the country to believe that, if only the Minister for Industry and Commerce would go to the Minister for Finance, and take £500,000 or so of the Irish people's money and put it into this venture, we would have iron and steel for our farmers to-morrow. We would have nothing of the sort. I am convinced of that, and I am as anxious and as concerned about the fact that the undertaking has closed down as any other person in the country. Having to say "no" in this case was a great responsibility to have to shoulder, but I am satisfied that if the whole facts of this case were before the people, there would not be one honest man to say me nay.

This is the first time we have heard all that explanation.

It is not the correct explanation.

It is not what?

It is not correct. It is an exaggeration.

Would the Deputy like to have a public inquiry into it?

I would have no objection.

There are ways of getting that, too, if the Deputy wants it.

Will the Minister agree to it?

Put down a motion and see, if you feel like it. In what way is the information incorrect?

It is exaggerated.

It is not exaggerated.

It would be better to leave things as they are, because I understand that a conference is to be held on next Monday night.

Deputy Morrissey and Deputy Hughes asked me what was the position in relation to the Slievardagh coalfield. The position in that respect is that we have the company formed, that we have secured, I think, a very competent board, after some difficulty, and that they are now mapping out their plans and endeavouring to secure the necessary plant and equipment. They have been enjoined to commence operations at the earliest possible date.

Would the Minister say what are the prospects of getting steel and iron for the foundries? The Minister has that matter in mind?

The Deputy was not in the House when I was dealing with that specific point, but my information in regard to both these matters is that the agricultural machinery firms are very well off for raw materials.

The Minister will not lose sight of it?

No. In fact, we have been pressing very strongly to get priority for iron and steel shipments.

It is a matter which affects agriculture.

As I say, we have been pressing to get priority for iron and steel. Deputy McGilligan raised two points, one of them in relation to the price of some woollen cloths. I no longer have responsibility for the control and regulation of prices. If the Deputy looks at the Estimate, he will see that the money there is required for the special purpose of the Prices Commission (Extension of Function) Act, 1938. That is the tribunal to which applications for reductions of tariffs under the 1938 agreement are referred, and it is only in that connection that we have any functions at all in relation to the Prices Commission. With regard to the other point the Deputy raised, as to a certain judge who holds a certain mineral lease, I do not think the Deputy would expect me to endorse what he has said in regard to the propriety or otherwise of that matter. After all, the conduct of a judge is a matter which falls within the purview of the Minister for Justice, and I do not wish, accordingly, to say anything in regard to some of the mild strictures the Deputy saw fit to make. The only thing I can say in that connection is that when the question of this lease was under consideration, the point was raised as to whether the person concerned could legitimately be refused a lease in the matter, and we were advised that there was no ground for doing so. Accordingly, as a prospecting lease had previously been granted, we could only implement what is the usual understanding, that is, that where a person has operated a prospecting lease and subsequently applies for a mineral lease, it shall be granted to him unless there are good reasons to the contrary. I might say, however, that I would prefer that that sort of thing did not arise again.

Deputy Hughes asked a question about the working of the outcrops in the Carlow coalfields. We can see no reason why private interests, having the ownership or being able to acquire the ownership of these outcrops, should not proceed to work them. I would deprecate the attention of the Slievardagh company being diverted from its main task of trying to get a substantial quantity of coal to these outcrops and minor workings, because I think they are going to have a difficult enough job to get the Slievardagh field going.

Deputy Morrissey asked me about the output of anthracite during the different years and why it was that we were estimating only on 100,000 tons. That 100,000 tons is from the Castlecomer field and represents a substantial increase over the output for 1940 and for 1939 and 1938. Since 1937 the output from Castlecomer has been declining somewhat. That is due to the more difficult conditions which are met with in that field periodically. When the miners are working up to the top of the seam, up on the slope, they can get the coal out more easily: when they get on the decline and start to work downwards it becomes more difficult and the output falls off. This year we are hoping to get an increase of almost 25 per cent. on the output of last year. With regard to the practicability of securing a greater output from that field, we have been pressing that on the proprietors of the field for a considerable period and, in fact, the output has risen from about 59,000 tons in 1926 to what we hope will be 100,000 tons this year. The conditions are somewhat difficult. Deputies who know the area understand that many of the miners have small farms as well; and I am advised that the amount of absenteeism which takes place in the Castlecomer mine is larger than is customary in similar fields in Great Britain. Men often take the day off to attend to farm work.

It has not affected the output.

It has. Unless the wool is being pulled over my eyes— and I do not think Deputy Pattison is a coal miner any more than I am—where you have absenteeism on a fairly large scale as in Castlecomer, the output of the whole mine is lower.

Did the Minister get that information from the bosses?

Not merely that, but I verified that information for myself, as I had occasion to examine the wage sheets and attendance sheets over a period in the Castlecomer mine. I am advised that, if there were more constant attendance of the miners and if it were possible to get additional miners, the output could be expanded somewhat, though it might be very difficult to expand it considerably. When we talk of a deposit of 4,000,000 tons, we must remember that it is scattered over a wide area, that it is in seams varying from 15 inches to 18 inches in thickness.

Would the Minister say something about the wages?

I will come to that, too. The Deputy has stated that a considerable number of miners have been leaving the area for Great Britain. I do not know the basis for those allegations which we hear, here and there. The Deputy stated that 1,000 men had been signed on in Kilkenny by an employer's agent for Great Britain on Friday last. The last returns I had in regard to exit permits, for the month of May, showed—speaking from recollection and subject to correction—1,900 issued during May.

I said "last Friday."

During the whole month of May, of the 1,900 persons who secured permits, about 1,100, drawn from all parts of Ireland, said they were going to Great Britain for employment. Others said they were going for other purposes. In fact, we were holding up cases, as we were anxious that the situation in relation to Irish people going to Great Britain should be definitely cleared up. We were holding up in Dublin a considerable number of applications for permits, where there were notifications that there were positions waiting for these people in Great Britain. We were doing that as we wanted the position of Irishmen going to Great Britain to be clarified, to ensure that they would be definitely immune from conscription and, if they were working on jobs there, that they would be entitled to compensation just as any British national working on a job, if by any mischance they were injured. The total number held up by us was only about 500.

What about the figures for June?

I have not got them yet.

They would be very interesting.

They would not be much more than for May. They will come in later.

I would advise the Minister to ask for them.

I think they are in process of being secured.

On the export of scrap iron, from the Scrap Iron (Prohibition of Export) Order, issued last week, Deputy Corry deduces that there was no prohibition on the export previously, but the fact of the matter is that these orders are made periodically, and this happens to be the latest made. Previous exports were governed by other orders. In fact, the position has been that, from December 1940 to date, no licences have been issued for the export of scrap cast iron, as it was retained for Irish foundries.

Scrap steel and wrought iron exports were being licensed up to a few months ago, when a ban was imposed on exports. From the latter date, in view of the fact that there was a considerable amount of wrought steel for which there is no use here it has been necessary to issue licences for the export of scrap iron and steel, other than plates and rails of certain thicknesses and sizes which can be used here. The ban continues on the export of scrap iron.

Will the Minister say when he intends to implement the Apprenticeship Act?

That must stand over until the war conditions have passed.

In view of the fact that the mining industry must be regarded as a key industry, what does the Minister propose to do to induce miners not to leave the country?

It has been pointed out to those miners and everybody else that an increase in their wages definitely means an increase in the price of coal and we cannot have that.

Question—"That the Vote be referred back for reconsideration"—put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 28; Níl, 47.

  • Bennett, George C.
  • Broderick, William J.
  • Browne, Patrick.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Davin, William.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Everett, James.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Giles, Patrick.
  • Hannigan, Joseph.
  • Hickey, James.
  • Hughes, James.
  • Hurley, Jeremiah.
  • Keating, John.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, Timothy J.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas F.
  • O'Sullivan, John M.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Rogers, Patrick J.

Níl

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegar, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Dan.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Breen, Daniel.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Buckley, Seán.
  • Childers, Erskine H.
  • Cooney, Eamonn.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Fogarty, Patrick J.
  • Hogan, Daniel.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Humphreys, Francis.
  • Keane, John J.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael J.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick J.
  • Loughman, Francis.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • McCann, John.
  • McDevitt, Henry A.
  • McEilistrim, Thomas.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Moran, Michael.
  • Morrissey, Michael.
  • Mullen, Thomas.
  • O Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Conn.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Keyes and Hickey; Níl: Deputies Smith and Kennedy.
Question declared lost.
Vote put and agreed to.
Progress reported; the Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.40 p.m. to Tuesday, July 15th, at 3 p.m.