Committee on Finance. - Appropriation Bill, 1943—All Stages.

Leave granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to apply certain sums out of the Central Fund to the service of the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1944, and to appropriate to the proper Supply Services and purposes the sums granted by the Central Fund Act, 1943, and this Act.—(Minister for Finance.)
Agreed, that the remaining stages be taken now.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. Deputies are aware that the purpose of the Appropriation Bill is to authorise the issue from the Central Fund of the balance of the amount granted in respect of those Supply Services which have already been considered in detail by the Dáil. The Bill is, therefore, complementary to the Central Fund Act, 1943, which authorised the issue from the Central Fund of the propertion (£13,820,000) of the total of the Estimates for the current financial year which had been granted on account by the Dáil: the further release from the Central Fund provided for in Section 1 of the Bill will make available the balance of the total amount already granted for the public services for the current financial year.

The Bill also provides for the appropriation to the proper Supply Services and purposes the sums granted on account, or in the case of those Estimates which have been considered in detail and approved by the Dáil, the full amount voted for the current financial year. Provision is also made for the formal appropriation of such of the supplementary and additional grants for 1942-43 as were voted after the Appropriation Act, 1942, had been passed.

As to individual sections and schedules, Section 1 provides for the issue from the Central Fund of the sum of £9,551,899 which together with the sum of £13,820,000 authorised to be issued from the Central Fund under the Central Fund Act, 1943, represents the total amount estimated to be required from the Central Fund to make good the grants voted for the supply services for the current financial year. So far the Estimates (including two Supplementary Estimates) for only 29 Supply Services have been considered in detail and the sum of £9,551,899 mentioned in the section represents the total of the amounts granted to complete the sums necessary to defray the cost of these 29 services during the current financial year.

Section 2, sub-section (1), empowers the Minister for Finance to borrow up to £9,551,899, that is, the amount mentioned in Section 1, and to issue any such securities as he thinks fit for the purpose of such borrowing. It also provides that the Bank of Ireland may advance to the Minister any sum or sums not exceeding in the whole £9,551,899.

The purpose of Section 3 is specifically to appropriate to the various services set out in Schedule B annexed to the Bill the total amounts granted for the Supply Services since the passage of the Appropriation Act, 1942. The grants making up the total as set forth in Schedule A are:—

(1) Supplementary & Additional grants for 1942-43

£1,295,608

(2) Vote on Account for 1943-44

£13,820,000

(3) Balance of Estimates approved for 1943-44 (including Supplementary Estimates already passed)

£9,551,899

Total

£24,677,507

Sub-section (2) of this section provides the necessary authority for the utilisation of certain Departmental receipts as Appropriations-in-Aid of the grants for the specific services mentioned in the Schedule.

Schedule A gives particulars of the issues out of the Central Fund provided for by the Central Fund Act, 1943, and the present Bill.

Schedule B sets out in detail the specific services to which the sums so granted are to be appropriated. Part I, of this Schedule is, in effect, an extension of Part III of Schedule B of the Appropriation Act, 1942, since it shows the additional grants for 1942-43 provided to meet Supplementary and additional Estimates approved by Dáil Eireann subsequent to the passing of the Appropriation Act, 1942. Part II of Schedule B forms the basis of the audit of the Appropriation accounts for the current financial year which will be carried out by the Comptroller and Auditor-General.

I wish to raise a few matters on this Bill. First of all, everybody must notice the extent of the bill presented to us for the year, and must ask what value are we getting for it. I am satisfied that within the next fortnight or three weeks the Government Party will be at the crossroads trying to defend this Bill to the people to whom they are responsible. I do not wish to raise any controversial issue now, except that I want official notice to be taken of the figures announced by the Minister. There are many questions that I would like to ask the Government, and first of all the Department of Defence. I put down a question to the Minister for Defence to-day asking him if he was aware that Private James Crosby, of Lower Water Street, Longford, who served in the National Army, died on active service on the 17th October, 1941. The Minister for Defence did not answer any of the points upon which information was sought. I asked the Minister if he was aware that this soldier became sick one morning, and I suggested that his illness was due to hardship that he had undergone the previous day. I asked the Minister if there had been any investigation as to whether this soldier's death was or was not due to such hardship. The Minister did not answer. I also asked what provision had been made for the widow and four orphans of a soldier who had served his country, and I got the brazen reply that this Party had voted against a certain Act, and, therefore, had held up payment in such cases to widows and children of soldiers. It is a well known fact, and the country appreciates it to the full, that when Deputy Mulcahy and others voted against that Bill they did so because the provision was not made for widows and children which we felt the Government should make. For a Minister of State to make such a reply on a very well settled question is a very grave reflection on the mentality of those who occupy the Government Front Benches. I want to stress this point, that where men of the calibre of this soldier about whom I inquired, enter the Defence Forces to serve their country, and owing to the hardship imposed upon them they lose their lives, the State should become the guardian of the widows and orphans, or whatever other dependents they have. I feel that the Government have been lacking in ordinary justice when they throw the onus in such cases over on somebody else.

I want also to deal with another case. I would prefer somebody else to do so, but as I am the only person who knows the facts I wish to bring it before the Dáil. A man was driving cattle home from a fair in Edgeworthstown when he was struck by an Army car and killed. One of the cattle was also killed. A coroner's inquest was held, and adjourned pending directions from the Attorney-General—otherwise the State. The solicitor acting for the deceased man informed the Minister for Defence that he represented the family. The Attorney-General directed that no action should be taken in the case, and not only that, but it was intimated that the Minister for Defence or the Minister for Finance would not pay one-halfpenny towards defraying the funeral expenses.

That may be good finance, and may be in accordance with the strict regulations made by the Department of Finance but it was the most uncharitable and most unchristian act ever committed in the history of any country. I am perfectly satisfied that under any of the so-called non-Christian Governments, if an enemy were found dead on the field, these Governments would, at least, accord him the honours of war or expend the amount necessary to bury him decently. This Government, for what reasons I do not know, cannot see fit to make a contribution in that particular case. If the Minister wants the particular details, I will send them to him. I have already sent them to the Minister for Defence, whose answer was that there is no fund available to defray the cost.

When you consider the enormity of the expenditure that is imposed on the people of the country and the promises that were made by this Government when they came into office, you begin to wonder if there is any public decency left. You ask yourself the question: "If a Government of this country can get things by promising and not fulfilling, where does justice end, and at what stage should the Attorney-General take people up for offences against justice and prosecute them for having made statements and obtained goods under false pretences?" I would much rather not have to speak at this particular point at all, but I ask the Minister for Finance to see that, where a soldier dies in the service of the country, at least he will not leave his widow and orphans to depend on charity, with nothing to sustain them in their struggle for life.

It is quite clear that there is no use in discussing anything on this Appropriation Bill but a matter of urgency which needs immediate action. On three separate occasions, I have asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health as to whether he is aware that the phytic acid content of 100 per cent. flour at present being used in bread is resulting in an immense increase in rickets in children. At first, the Minister said that he had no evidence that my contention was true. Then I asked the Parliamentary Secretary if he had received from the Dietetic Council set up by the medical profession, conclusive evidence that the facts I had adumbrated were true. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health said he had received no such communication.

In fact, I know that the full information was supplied to the Minister in April, 1942, and that, on April 24th, 1942, the Minister acknowledged having received the communication. The medical adviser to the Minister met the secretary of the Dietetic Council and was furnished by him with a full digest of all the relative material, and with the whole of the report of Dr. McCanice of Cambridge. That conclusive report establishes beyond doubt that the 100 per cent. extraction of wheaten flour does contain phytic acid in appreciable quantity, and that the presence of phytic acid in the diet of an individual results in a considerable destruction of calcium—or, technically, a prevention of calcium metabolism— and also that the inadequacy of calcium metabolism results in an increase in the incidence of rickets in children. It establishes that the easiest way to correct this is to reduce the flour extraction to 90 per cent.—because the phytic acid occurs mainly in the last 10 per cent. extraction from the wheat —or, if the circumstances demand that you should maintain 100 per cent. extraction, that you should add to the flour calcium carbonate.

Calcium is cheaper than flour: there is no question of increased cost. It is readily available in any quantity, and a modest addition of this mineral to the flour will be detected by nobody who is consuming the flour, but will immediately correct the ricket-producing effect of the bread that is at present being supplied. It is statistically established that, for every one case of rickets in the population in 1938, there are 10 cases of rickets now. I do not mean by that these cases are cases of advanced or marked rickets, but rather that there are symptoms of rickets to be found in 10 cases, where they were in one case pre-war. That may not be due exclusively to the presence of phytic acid in the flour, but there can be no doubt that it is a contributing factor.

This is a matter of urgent importance to every expectant mother. It is a matter of urgent importance to every child in the country whose bones are still going through the process of formation. Every week that passes, damage is being done. The flour millers are ready instantly to put in the calcium, if the Minister will indicate to them that he agrees to their doing so. They do not want an Order, nor any facilities of finance. They have the calcium ready to put in, and are deterred from doing so only by a message from the Department of Supplies, asking them to suspend action in this matter until the Minister for Local Government and Public Health has considered it and made recommendations. All I am asking the Minister to do is to say to the millers: "You have my approval." If the Minister will do that, I will do the rest.

The Minister for Finance?

Is not Government policy at large to be discussed?

Neither of the two speeches delivered dealt with large questions of public policy.

The business of 100 per cent. extraction is public policy.

For the Department of Local Government and Public Health.

A 100 per cent. extraction of wheat is Government policy at large. All I ask is that the Minister for Local Government and Public Health would address a letter to the millers, saying: "You may put in the calcium, with my blessing" and I will do the rest. Will the Minister for Finance ask his colleague, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, to send a postcard to the Millers' Association at 32 Nassau Street, saying that they can put the calcium in the flour, with his blessing? If that is done, grave and irreparable injury will be prevented.

When speaking on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill, I quoted figures to show that the taxation per head of the population had increased from £2 3s. 11d. in 1913-14 to £12, under the arrangements presented in this Appropriation Bill for our final approval. I notice that the Taoiseach, speaking in Tralee on Sunday week last, expressed surprise that the Labour Party should object to the policy of increasing taxation for the purpose of social services.

This is expenditure.

This is policy.

This debate deals with expenditure, not taxation.

I am talking of Government policy. I would like to put on the records of the House, before we depart, that the Labour Party do not object to increased taxation for the purpose of improving the social services, so long as it is understood that we are prepared to do it to increase the pensions for widows and orphans, for the old age pensioners and the aged and infirm generally. We do object to the policy of increasing taxation—and I would like to have this on record— for the purpose of maintaining an increasing number of able-bodied citizens in idleness while there is plenty of work to be done. If the Government had the courage to prepare the plans, or put into operation the plans that they had prepared, they could provide our able-bodied citizens with the work which they promised to provide for them when they came into office. If the policy of self-sufficiency had been put into operation, there would be no idle man in the country to-day and, if that were so, the amount provided by way of social services would have been reduced by £6,000,000. A sum of £6,000,000 out of the £10,000,000 provided for social services in the Bill now before us is to be raised for the purpose of maintaining able-bodied men in idleness. That is the part of the policy which we object to.

There is another matter which I think can be regarded as a matter of urgency and which was raised by Deputy Dillon in the House this afternoon, that is, the recent sinking of the "Irish Oak." In a supplementary question, the Taoiseach was asked what was the nationality of the captain of that ship and he rather resented such a question being addressed to him. The question of the nationality of the captains of ships employed by Irish Shipping Ltd. has been a subject of discussion in another place.

Are you of opinion that it justified the submarine sinking the ship?

Certainly not. I am sure the Deputy does not want to suggest that I shared that opinion.

Your words sounded as if you did. I am delighted to hear that you do not.

I was endeavouring to press on the Minister for Finance the urgent necessity for putting into operation the recommendation of another body, of which a number of his colleagues are members, which recommended to the Government that preference should be given to Irish nationals who had the necessary seafaring qualifications whenever there was a vacancy for a deck officer or an engineer on the ships under the control of Irish Shipping Ltd. I made written representations to the Minister for Industry and Commerce on this matter on two occasions. I do not want to go into the matter in detail now.

That is, surely, administration.

It is a matter——

Of administration.

——of national policy whether, for the purpose of maintaining the neutrality of this State, Irish nationals who have the necessary qualifications should get preference for employment on the bridges and as deck officers and engineers of Irish ships. I do not want to go into the reasons given for putting forward that recommendation which was unanimously adopted by another body.

What body?

I am not going to answer that. The Deputy knows what body I am referring to.

I do not.

I do not and I would be glad to hear it.

That matter was discussed at a meeting of the Defence Conference and a recommendation was made to the Cabinet.

The Deputy is on dangerous ground.

I was challenged to make the statement.

I understood that discussions of that body were confidential.

I certainly did not intend to do that, but the challenge was thrown out.

When was the recommendation made?

I suggest that the Deputy should not pursue the matter further.

All I say is that a recommendation was submitted. An advertisement was issued by the Minister for Industry and Commerce following the adoption of that recommendation by the Cabinet or by the Minister for Industry and Commerce at any rate and, so far as I know, it has not been strictly adhered to. I want to impress on the Minister the necessity for doing so, if he believes, as I am sure he does, that it is sound national policy to maintain a position of neutrality. I know Deputy Dillon's views on this whole question. I have good reason to know them from hearing them in another place. I know sufficient of his views in connection with this whole matter not to involve myself in any further discussion with Deputy Dillon on this matter.

Deputy MacEoin referred to a certain matter here and although, you might say, it did not refer to the general policy of the Government, still I think it refers to general policy. In the discussion on the recent Military Service Pensions Bill, I said that if the standard relating to certain citizens was the standard that was being held before this country, then I would not stand for the amount of money that was being spent on the general administration here and, particularly, on the maintenance of the Army for the purpose of defending the country, because, when we spend money on the Army, we spend it in order to defend something that is worth defending. Under the Military Service Pensions Bill, which was referred to, if a man were permanently disabled, who was anything from a private to a sergeant in the Defence Forces, a certain basic provision was made for the man himself, and, if he were a married man, he got an additional 10/-to keep his wife and the rest of his family, whatever the rest of that family was.

It was because there was that fundamental blemish on the Bill that the Bill was resolutely opposed here and for no other reason. What is wrong with the general policy of the Government is that, in matters which are fundamental to the well-being of the country and to the moral outlook of the country on its public responsibility, they have no standard.

When the 1934 Pensions Bill was going through the House I urged at a particular stage of the Bill that, as the net of the Bill was spread to widely, it ought to take cognisance of the fact that there was a particular class of people, some of whom were in difficult circumstances and who ought to be provided for; that is men who, although they had no contact with the Civil War on any side, had been out in the Rising of 1916. I urged that the Bill should make some provision for these men. The Government refused during the remaining stages of the Bill to accept the suggestion, but they remedied the matter in the Seanad. In the Bill which was before the House the other day they advanced further in consideration of the position of the 1916 men, and provided that in the case of 1916 men with families they would raise their income to a standard level. It was indicated that, in the case of a man and his wife whose income was below £97, I think it is, by way of supplementary pension they would raise the income of that family to £97 and, in respect of the children of that family under a certain age, there would be an additional payment of £10 8s. per year in respect of each child. Now, take the case of a man who would have been a beneficiary under that Act. He had a wife and seven children and he had a 1916 pension of £34. Under the provisions of that Act, that man, if he were alive to-day, would be entitled to have his income raised to £170, as he would, under the Act recently passed, get an additional sum of £135. In the meantime, the man has died and, because the man is dead, his wife and children are not to have any contribution made to their upkeep under that Act. The Military Service Pensions Act of 1934 made a certain provision for the man himself. If there were any reason for dealing with that particular type of person under the recent Bill, it was because he had a wife and children. I think it is to our credit that we opposed the Bill when one of the provisions of the Bill leaves that man's wife and children utterly unprovided for because the man died. As I say, the Ministry have no standards. They talk with any amount of sympathy and patriotic reference to certain classes, but they have no standards with regard to them, and when they have no standards with regard to these, they have no standards with regard to any classes. One of the things absolutely necessary is some kind of standards to apply to those people who have been prevented from maintaining themselves and their families by reason of positive public service. If we cannot get a standard for these, we cannot get a standard for the ordinary citizen. That is all I want to say in relation to this matter, and I say it only because it was raised so positively, so bluntly and in such characteristic manner by the Minister for Supplies to-day.

Mr. Byrne

Several times within the past 12 months I made efforts to get increases in the allowances to soldiers' wives and children. These people are bearing very grave hardships, and I ask the Minister if he will do something to ease the burden of the wives and children of our serving soldiers. Their allowances are totally inadequate. They have got nothing whatever to meet the increased cost of living since they last got an increase, I believe about two years ago. I have been asked dozens of times to bring this matter to the notice of the House, and I have done so. I earnestly hope that the Minister will make some effort to ease their lot. They are not able to buy clothing for their children at the prices which they are asked to pay at present, or to buy the necessary foods to feed their children properly. I have seen children of all classes in this city clothed in a way which would not protect them properly, and their clothing is so dear to-day that there is a danger of their health breaking down. I suggest that children's clothing should be available at some low fixed price, and that soldiers' wives—and I am speaking only for soldiers' wives at the moment—should get increased allowances and should be paid weekly instead of fortnightly, so as to enable them to buy to the best advantage.

Appeals have been made to the Minister during this debate on behalf of sections of the community who are poor, destitute and dependent on the State for assistance. While these appeals will meet with universal sympathy, the Minister will not forget that no grant of monetary relief to any section of our people will avail unless there are available within the country the essential goods which the people require, and on the purchase of which they can utilise their money. No money will relieve these people if the goods are not available, and the Minister should pause to consider what would be the position of the country to-day if we had, in addition to a shortage of potatoes, a shortage of wheat. We would have a shortage of wheat were it not for the heroism and self-sacrifice of Irishmen who sailed the oceans and carried a wheat supply to this country. Our home-grown wheat supply was totally inadequate, as may be judged from the fact that millers are to-day empowered to add an admixture of 50 per cent. of imported wheat. If we were able to provide only 50 per cent. of the grist required from home production, the Government have placed us in a very difficult and very dangerous position, because a failure of the wheat or flour supply, in addition to a shortage of the basic cheap human food, potatoes, would have meant absolute famine, and there is no indication that either the Minister for Finance or any other Minister has faced up to the danger of the situation. Neither the Minister knows how much wheat was sown during the present season, but there is grave reason to fear that the acreage has not increased very much as compared with last year. Therefore, we are again facing a position of grave danger with regard to an essential food supply, and nothing in the way of monetary relief to our people will avail so long as we have that inefficiency in important Departments of State connected with the provision of our food supply.

The Deputy would not be anticipating the debate on agriculture?

I am afraid there will be many other debates before the debate on agriculture takes place.

Possibly, it will be debated; presumably by the Deputy.

I simply raise the point in a general way as an urgent and important feature of Government policy. No matter what Government is in power for the coming years, plans should be pushed forward for ensuring that the maximum amount of food will be got out of the land. Other nations, and particularly our neighbour, Great Britain, have shown what can be done in the way of expansion of the food supply. They have achieved that not by giving doles and reliefs to people who are unemployed or destitute but by giving an adequate return to those engaged in production.

May I ask your permission, Sir, and that of the Minister, to ask two questions? Would the Minister, when replying, make a statement on the question of drainage, and would he give an assurance to the House that the Military Service Pensions Board will remain in session for at least six months after the new Parliament comes together?

If the Deputy had given me notice, I should have been very happy to make inquiries and to answer as fully as possible the questions he asked. So far as I know, the Military Service Pensions Board will not continue its operations much longer. I think it has almost come to an end. It is only now hearing appeals from awards made and it may continue for three months, but I do not know whether it will continue longer. I speak subject to correction, but I think that is the general position.

With regard to drainage, I think that whatever statement can be made has been made more than once here, that is, that the recommendations of the Drainage Commission have been adopted in principle and for some months past—I do not think I exaggerate when I say, for at least the last six months—the proper authorities have been drafting the necessary legislation to implement those recommendations. It is a most difficult Bill, one upon which the experts have varied opinions. But I can assure the Deputy that, so far as the Government could force the pace, they have been doing it, in order to get that Drainage Bill drafted and brought before the House.

The Minister is acquitted.

At present estimates, when this legislation is in operation it will cost the Exchequer at least £7,000,000. But we are facing up to that and it will not be the fault of the Government, certainly, if the recommendations in the report are not implemented. I have been asked dozens of times by the Taoiseach what we are doing about it—it comes partly into my Department in the Office of Public Works—but there have been difficulties that we have not been able easily to get over. At any rate, that report is going to be implemented.

I cannot answer the Deputy with regard to the detailed questions he asked about Army pensions or the killing of the unfortunate man at Edgeworthstown by a military lorry. This much I can say, that I put through here, as Minister for Local Government, a Road Traffic Act and, against the advice of very important people, I put into it a section which made it possible for the ordinary citizen to take an action against a Minister whose car, or the car of whose Department, was responsible for an accident. Up to that time nobody could take an action against the Government, or a member of the Government, following a motor accident in which the Government or a member of the Government might be involved. I made it possible, with the consent of my colleagues, for the ordinary citizen to take his case into court. Previously, a citizen, if injured, had to leave himself at the mercy of the Government or of an individual Minister. Since I became Minister for Finance, I have observed the alarming number of cases, and the size of the awards, against the Government. However, that has not changed my views as to the right thing to do in such cases.

In this case, if the dependents or relatives of the man who was killed have a case, why do they not take it into court? Is that not the remedy— the proper remedy?

Yes, and no.

Anybody can do that now, because the law has been changed, and I am happy to say that I changed it. There must be some reason why the relatives of the injured party have not taken the case into court.

No actual dependent.

Somebody acting as representative of the man could take the case into court. He probably has relatives.

Yes, relatives.

That is the remedy of the ordinary citizen. The relatives are not now tied to any ex gratia grant from a Minister or a Government Department. I do not know the circumstances of this case, but it seems to me that there must be something wrong when it was not brought in the ordinary way into court. On the question of Army pensions, the subject Deputy Mulcahy grew so eloquent about and has been so eloquent upon recently, I do not maintain that the Army pensions are as generous as they might be, but they are much more generous than the pensions granted when Deputy Mulcahy was a Minister.

Devil a much that is saying for them.

It is not saying much for them; they were miserable, starving pensions in Deputy Mulcahy's day, but they are a bit better now.

Devil a much.

The last man who ought to criticise pensions is Deputy Mulcahy. Deputy MacEoin was not in the Dáil at that time. Deputy Mulcahy ought to say little on that subject, because a meaner Pensions Bill was never brought in here than the one Deputy Mulcahy and his Government were responsible for. Mean, miserable and starving—that is what the pensions then were called. That applies, not alone to the pensions, but to the Army allowances. We improved all these things, but still they are not what we would like, or what Deputy MacEoin would like.

Is the Minister dragging the Army into the election?

No, but did the Deputy hear the criticism of the man who introduced a Pension Bill when he was a Minister in the last Government? Anybody else might justly criticise our Bill in many ways, but certainly not Deputy Mulcahy. It was not a generous Bill, but we cannot afford to be generous. It is all very well for Deputy Mulcahy to criticise our efforts. He has not the responsibility of providing the money. He can shout now about miserable pensions, but when he had the responsibility what did he do? In our present circumstances we cannot afford to be as generous as we would like to be. I am the Minister for Finance and I admit I am soft-hearted enough, but I hope I am not soft-headed. We have to try to measure our generosity with our resources. The defence services are costing us a very big sum of money.

The meaning of the word "resources" is misunderstood.

It is not. We are limited here. Our Exchequer has to have some bottom.

That is the bank manager's view.

It is not; it is my view, and I am not a bank manager. Within the past 12 months we increased the allowances for married people and others in the Army by nearly half a million.

Why not pay allowances to all married men in the Army?

They all get it.

They do not; you do not understand it.

I think there are not two per cent. of the married men with dependent wives and children who are not getting allowances.

Does the Minister know that a man must be two years in the Army before he gets the married allowance?

I do not think that is true now.

Will the Minister look it up?

I will; I know there is an age limit.

Ask your colleague, the Minister for Defence.

With the consent of the proper military authorities, any married man in the Army can now get the allowance.

Since what date?

That is the rule now.

From this date. Leave it alone now.

I think Deputy Davin is not up to date with his information.

If I find out I am wrong, I shall write to the Deputy.

Will I forward you particulars of some of the cases that have been refused?

And will the back pay come?

The Government have the responsibility, not the Deputy.

I am amazed at the Minister. He does not know the Defence Forces' regulations.

I do not, and why should I? Does Deputy Davin know them?

The Deputy does not know them in this case.

I know about the marriage allowance.

The Deputy is wrong, and it would not be the first time. He should not pretend to be a know-all.

No, I am not.

It would be a very foolish line to adopt. I do not pretend —and I have much better sources of information on this matter than the Deputy—to know everything about it.

Would the Minister be surprised to know that this matter was discussed at the Defence Conference in recent times?

Leave the Defence Conference out of it. Do not try to buttress up your argument by dragging in the Defence Conference. Leave it alone; it is not properly brought in here, as the Deputy knows.

It is only that I was amazed at your exposing your ignorance of the regulations.

I am ignorant of a whole lot of things, particularly in connection with Army regulations and also police regulations, and the farther such things are kept away from me the better I am pleased. Deputy Dillon asked about the absence of calcium carbonate from flour of 100 per cent. extraction. That is a question on which I am not competent to speak. I know nothing whatever about that question, beyond what I heard the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health say in replies to Deputy Dillon during the last few months.

Of course, I do not expect the Minister to be competent to deal with this matter. What I asked him was whether he realised that his colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, said that he never received representations from the Dietetic Council in connection with that matter, and I know that he has had these representations in his portfolio since October, 1942.

But what is the use in telling that to me?

So that you can tell the other fellow.

Well, I think that Deputy Dillon himself is a very good hand at telling Ministers their jobs, and I think I shall leave that to the Deputy.

I cannot get a chance of telling him.

Now, the Deputy has been telling the Parliamentary Secretary that for the last couple of years.

And, as I said, he is a pretty good hand at telling us our shortcomings.

All I want is for you to try your hand at it.

The Deputy is better at that, and I certainly do not want to try my hand at it.

I should not like to deprive the Deputy of all the opportunities of which he makes such good use in castigating Ministers. However, I shall mention the matter to the Parliamentary Secretary.

Good enough.

But I expect I shall get a similar answer to that which was given to the Deputy which, in my recollection, was that doctors differ, and that even specialists differ.

I think the Minister will find that he will get a different answer from the one I got. The Parliamentary Secretary was quite wrong in the answer he gave to me, but he is an ignorant man.

Maybe I will get a different answer, but I think that that was the answer given to the Deputy, and I am sure that the Deputy will agree that if it were obvious that there was any increase, even a small increase, in the incidence of rickets or rickety conditions in children, the Department of Local Government and Public Health and the Minister would get busy about it at once.

They certainly ought to.

They have doctors and specialists at their disposal, and they would not delay one minute in dealing with such a condition.

No one should know the incompetence of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health better than the present Minister for Finance, since he himself was formerly in charge of that Department

He was as active a Parliamentary Secretary as a Minister could desire, doing his work well and conscientiously

"Active" is a good word. At what?

Active with the work of his Department. I do not think that there is anything else I have to reply to.

Mr. Byrne

Soldiers' wives' allowances.

I did say that we increased the allowances to married soldiers this year by a sum that I think is in the region of £500,000.

Mr. Byrne

It is not sufficient.

If it were increased by £6,000,000 the Deputy would still say that it was not sufficient, but the fact is that we did increase it. Deputy Davin is perturbed about the increase in taxation. A lot of the taxation since the emergency has been due to emergency services. Nearly £12,000,000 of what we are spending this year is due to emergency services—that is a very big sum—and somewhere in the region of £11,000,000 is being spent on social services.

A good deal of that would be unnecessary if work were provided.

Yes, but unfortunately, we cannot employ people at present on many desirable schemes— not because of the want of money. I said before, and I repeat, that for desirable schemes, where we have raw materials, I will find the money.

I am not convinced of that.

I have had no scheme of desirable national work, where men could be employed at reasonable wages, put up to me since I became Minister for Finance, for which I have not found the money.

Why do not you get all the bog roads repaired?

We are spending a big amount of money on bog roads— this year more than ever.

There are a lot of them waiting to be done.

Perhaps there are, but money is being spent and I have given additional money, every year since I became Minister for Finance, for desirable purposes of that kind. More money will be found when it is proved to be necessary.

I should like to put a question to the Minister. Is there any machinery whereby this Parliament can ensure that its Official Reports will not be misused, and purported extracts from the official records published which, in fact, are not the actual extracts from the Official Report? Recently, the Irish Press gave what was alleged to be an extract from the Official Reports of this House, which actually consisted of a false extract of a sentence from the report and the addition of another extract. It was alleged to be an extract from the records of our House, and on it was based a lying and slanderous attack on a member of this House, to wit, Deputy McGilligan. Can we prevent a newspaper publishing as an extract from our Official Reports that which is not a proved extract?

It does not arise on this Bill.

Well, I hope it will arise on some Bill, so that we may know whether anything can be done to prevent newspapers from sinking to that depth of degradation.

Surely, this is a matter that could be discussed under the heading of the Censorship?

The discussion on this stage of the Bill concluded when the Minister's statement came to an end.

Question put and agreed to.
Bill passed through Committee without amendment, reported and agreed to.
Question—"That the Bill be now received for final consideration"—put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

On that, Sir. There is provision in this Bill for the printing of the Official Reports of this House. I want to raise on this a specific instance of what, in my opinion, is a gross abuse of that official record. Those reports are designed to present to our people an authentic record of what passes here in this House. It is recognised, of course, that an ordinary Pressman may be more struck by one aspect of our proceedings than with another and that, in introducing it to the public he might present a picture which would not be a really accurate or objective one, but over and above that, there is the official record of the proceedings of Dáil Éireann, which records every word that is uttered here with objectivity and detachment.

Some years ago, when Deputy McGilligan was Minister for Industry and Commerce, this House was discussing the incidence of destitution in this country and, in the course of his reply, he turned to Deputy Davin and said: "Certain people in this country might take up the position that citizens of the State might have to die of hunger." Then Deputy McGilligan said, looking at Deputy Davin: "Neither Deputy Davin nor I would ever subscribe to such a doctrine." That is what the Official Report contains. The Irish Press says in effect: “We are now about to quote the Official Report of the Dáil.” They say: “Deputy McGilligan said, when he was Minister for Industry and Commerce, that certain citizens of this State might have to die of hunger.” Then, they go on and pick out—several sentences later—a statement he made in the course of his speech, that it is no part of a Government's duty to provide work for people who are unemployed. That was to use the Official Report of this House to convey to the public an impression diametrically opposite to that conveyed by what Deputy McGilligan said. I am 20 years in politics. I have no thin skin. I believe that I can give as good as I get, but there are limits to the extravagant dishonesty, rascality and villainy that ought to be tolerated by this House. The Minister for Local Government smiles. The time may come when the official records of this House could be used in just that filthy way to blacken his record as a Minister.

The time "may" come.

If the Minister were the victim of that filthy and unscrupulous method of attack, I hope that we, in this House, would react just as violently as against detestable lies of this kind, carrying the specious appearance of truth, allegedly drawn from the official records of this House. I suggest to the Minister for Local Government that, as a member of this Parliament, as a public man, he should join with me in dissociating himself from that filthy kind of lying fraud, designed to do a man a wicked injustice in the eyes of his countrymen —a thing for which there is not the shadow of foundation. I have no personal interest in Deputy McGilligan's affairs. I am no longer a member of his Party and differ profoundly from him on many things. But I do not care what Deputy of this House is concerned, this lie, told by an official paper, a paper which is the Government organ, in the full knowledge of its lying, with the desire to lie and with the desire to stab a man in the back, should not be allowed to pass without repudiation. They hold Deputy McGilligan up as one who would look with indiffernce and calm on his countrymen dying of starvation when they know that he never said that; that, so far from saying it, he said that, while such a thing was possible, the human mind would repudiate and reject it. That is what the official record says. This contemptible rag, founded on misappropriation of the American loan——

Surely, Deputy Dillon is exceeding the bounds of what would be described as ordinary, public decency.

He has got under the skin of the Minister.

This wretched newspaper, financed by the American loan, uses its resources, consciously, deliberately and malignantly for the purpose of libelling a distinguished public man. That should not pass without comment. Every Deputy who honours this House should join with me in condemning that beastly and detestable act and in declaring that, no matter how we differ, we will not tolerate the official record of our proceedings being used by any newspaper for the purpose of lying and libel——

The Deputy is asking us to deal with a matter over which we have no control.

We have appropriated money for the official record. Having that official record, are we to stand idly by if certain persons propose to use that official record——

We have control over the preparation, printing and circulation of the official record but we have no control over its use by other persons.

I am not asking for censorship. I am asking, on the Fifth Stage of this Appropriation Bill, if we are to stand idly by while our official record is used——

I do not like to interrupt Deputy Dillon in his tornado of abuse but I suggest that he is entirely out of order. He wants the House to take action which it has no power to take. I suggest that Deputy Dillon is making use of the House to parade slanders against people who cannot defend themselves when he makes his attack here. If slanders are used by people outside against people in this House, there is a law for their protection.

On a point of order, the Tánaiste has not raised a point of order. He has made a speech.

That is for the Chair.

We have no power to control people outside as to what they do, or do not do, with our official record.

The Chair has already pointed that out.

Then it is a deplorable thing——

The Deputy is advocating legislation.

We appropriated money for the purpose of being furnished with an official record. We appropriated the money so that we might have a true record to which we could turn in times of doubt. I invite Deputies on all sides of the House to join with me in saying that if a person outside this House——

We have no power to act in the matter.

We have the right to resolve amongst ourselves.

There is no power to prevent anybody doing what he thinks right or proper with the official reports that are printed.

The House has no power of control and, to resolve; as the Deputy suggests, would be to indulge in a pious expression of opinion, because we could not implement it. We should be acting ultra vires.

This is only one of many topics with which I propose to deal. What I suggest to the Chair is that there are certain occasions when Deputies decide amongst themselves on a common line of conduct, quite apart from statutory duty or formal action by the Legislature as a body. As decent men and women, we should set ourselves a decent standard. As a body of average, decent men and women, drawn from the ranks of the people, we should resolve that, to one another, we shall extend charity and justice and conduct our proceedings on some criterion of decency and honesty. We are all aware that, in the past, Deputies occasionally attempted to misrepresent one another. In such a contingency, when the attention of the House was directed to the misrepresentation, the Deputy attempting the misrepresentation was required to withdraw. We always pursued this proper and wise procedure in relation to one another. I am suggesting that we should resolve amongst ourselves that, no matter how deeply antagonistic we may feel against another Deputy, when we see a conspiracy to repeat what has been repeatedly pointed out as a lie, with the representation that it is drawn from our official report, quite apart from our statutory duties, we should——

There are Deputies here who listened to the statement being made and resented it.

That is untrue.

I was one of those present at the time and was practically thrown out of those benches following the making of the statement.

Deputy Dillon is not at liberty to ask the House to pass a resolution to which effect cannot be given.

This paragon of public propriety has made an accusation of misappropriation of public funds.

Deputy Dillon would be just as much in order in asking us to take the pledge as in asking us to pass a resolution on this subject.

If it were a pledge to abstain from the conduct I have outlined, I should have no hesitation in asking all the Deputies in the House to become Pioneers. I think that I have said sufficient to draw attention to this disgusting episode.

The Chair has heard sufficient on the matter.

Question put and agreed to.

This is a Money Bill within the meaning of Article 22 of the Constitution.

The Dáil adjourned at 7.40sine die.