No. The Deputy wonders why people go to England. They go because they get good coins there, but when it is sent home the money buys only half what it buys on the other side. I have often given the statistics. The Deputy was probably not in the House at the time. Wages in England have increased. The purchasing value of their pound has increased. We are almost unique in this that we are picked out by the International Labour Office for odium and contempt before the world that, with three other countries, we are the only non-fighting country in which wages, as paid at the present moment, have dropped below their 1938 value — ourselves, Czechoslovakia, France and Japan, a goodly company — three countries that were devastated by the war when we kept safe. With thesc three we stand, having lowered the real wages of the community below, and much below, the values of 1938.
I am going to examine the Minister's statement in connection with the Budget and relate it to this Finance Bill. He said in the Official Report of the 7th inst., column 2241:—
"The expenditure for Supply services anticipated this year is £54,256,000... Central Fund services are to cost £6,277,857 which is £298,000 more than last year. The two services total £60,534,000.
I am going to call that £30,250,000. I want to examine that with some aid from a speech made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government and find out how we stand with regard to the exaction of what I will call £30,000,000 from the community this year, although the impact on the community is not to be measured in the terms of £30,000,000. I am going to take that figure and inquire what debt has been piled on this community since the Minister and his colleagues took over, and then ask the House to examine four or five other items with me. If there is more money being exacted from the community, if both national and local debt have almost doubled, one would expect an improvement in the community. Are the people emigrating in more or in fewer numbers than they used? How do the unemployment figures stand? Is disease more rampant in our midst than it used to be? At what point have we stabilised crime? Where are we, Judged by the standard of poverty in the country?
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government thinks that speeches made on this side of the House are whining, dreary, tremulous bleats. It is easy for the Parliamentary Secretary to talk. If he were one of the quarter of a million who have been forced to emigrate, he might bleat. If he were one of the 70,000 unemployed, left over the years unemployed, he might whine. If he were one of the people stricken with tuberculosis and not able to find a bed to get care, there might be a whine from him. If he lived in the conditions of poverty that there are in certain Dublin households, there would be much more than a bleat, much more than a tremulous bleat. The parliamentary Secretary puts up to this House the case that we are not so badly off; we are not as badly off as the war-ravaged countries of Europe. It is a nice standard. If that is the best he can do, it is a confession of failure. He tries to make the point— as is the propaganda going at the moment — that, of course, emigration is not really a matter of people being forced out of occupation here. According to the Parliamentary Secretary, we are an adventurous people. We are. We go far in search of either food or work or health and that is what people have been doing over the last 15 and more particularly over the last seven years.
The Minister's Budget, this year, on my calculation, was £30,000,000. He tells us, at part of his Budget speech, column 2250, what the State and local debt amount to. The gross indebtedness of the State is now £100,800,000. The gross indebtedness of the local authorities is £37,000,000. The joint debt State and local, is £137,000,000. In 1932, it was about £75,000,000. The debt has doubled nearly. Even a Budget of £30,000,000 is far above the Budget that there used to be in this country. The average Budget, from 1922 to 1931, was something over £24,000,000. Even on my cut down figure, the demand that the Minister is making on the community is £6,006,000 more and, of course, the £30,000,000 cannot be looked on as £30,000,000 from that point of view because, if one examines the Book of Estimates, one finds that the salaries have not doubled. There has been in some cases an advance of 25 per cent., in some cases, an advance of 30 per cent., but the highest average will not go above 30 per cent. So that salaries have been cut, and cut desperately, and the human beings who are in the background of the Government service are suffering, themselves and their families, in their health and in the education of their children. Even with that cut the Minister wants £30,000,000 this year as opposed to annual average Budgets from 1922 to 1931 of about £24,000,000.
Naturally, if expenses arise in the State and if people are not getting incomes equal to the added burdens that are put upon them, there are two or three results that must follow. People will leave the country — they are leaving it. People will be unable to get employment — quite a number have failed to get employment. People, through malnutrition, will fall into disease — there is an amazing spread of disease in this country. Other people will take the short road and steal what they cannot get by honest work — the best the Minister for Justice can boast of in his Estimate is that we have stabilised crime at about 100 per cent. above the figures for the year 1938. The rest of the community have to depend more and more upon doles or what are called social services.
Emigration is a sore subject at the moment. The attempt is made to weaken the figures by speaking of the adventurous spirit of this community, or the Minister for Finance parades the argument that it is propaganda by the Opposition that sends people to England and that, in fact, if people Go to England, they will find that their situation is not just as pleasant as he says people on this side of the House represent it to be. In any event we have it, in the last figure given to us and stood over, that 120,000 people left this country in five years. I consider that an under-estimate. That is what is called the war emigration. Remember what it means. It is the entire population of the last three Ulster counties left to us. So that while we are fighting about Partition and wanting to get back the six Ulster counties, we hand over to England the equivalent of the entire population, men, women and children, of Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal.
There was emigration before 1938. According to an answer given in the British House of Commons in March, 1939, the people who had come from Ireland to go into work in England in the year 1937, numbered 20,000 — almost 21,000. In 1938, it was 18,953 — almost 19,000 and there was emigration in the years before that. No less than 225,000 have left this country for England since Fianna Fáil came into office. I balance those figures again by reminding the House that the entire population, men women and children, of Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo is only 232,000. So that we have fired out the equivalent of the entire population of those five counties since Fianna Fáil took office. Then one hears phrases about whinging bleats.
There were whinging bleats before. I quote from a paper called The Sun, in New York, in the year 1930, when the Taoiseach was there on a visit. The headline is:—
"Grieved to see the Irish leaving. Emigrant flow appalling.
"Men and women in the prime of life are forced to go abroad."
It wound up, however, with this note of optimism:—
"Ireland is to-day a land where mothers rear their children for export, but a rural backwardness has one advantage — it simplifies the problem of industrial reorganisation and gives to our people a unique opportunity to become pioneers on the path of social progress. In no other country, perhaps, could the benefits of improved machinery and modern efficiency of production be so readily made available in the homes of our people."
We know the promise that was made that the emigrants would have to be brought home, that there would not be enough people to fill all the jobs there were going to be when Fianna Fáil formed a Government. We would have to summon back the emigrants who went abroad in the previous decade.
Now the Parliamentary Secretary tells us that we are an adventurous people and the new 120,000 people have simply gone for the sake of adventure. Deputy de Valera is wondering why the people go, as they are really not any better off in England than at home. He wonders why they prefer to go to England. If anybody wants to know the answer, let him do a simple calculation. Let us take it that 120,000 only left this country and let us get figures for the emigrants' remittances from England and the money we are told our people coming home on holidays spend as tourists. You get a calculation which shows that those people are sending home nearly £3 a week each — that is, after they have paid the enormous taxation in England that the Minister is always talking about. They are enabled to send home the equivalent of the wage to which all but 66,000 of our population have to accommodate themselves. Am I speaking in propaganda tones for England when I say that? I am at least speaking the truth. I am giving accurate figures, or if they are not accurate let them be refuted. Those people have gone abroad because they cannot get work here, because they can get better conditions in England and because, in any event, they get a bit of money which they can save to send home to provide the necessities of life for the members of the family who are left behind.
As to propaganda taking people abroad, I am not sure how this counts— whether it is propaganda or not. In the month of April, 1946, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Department of Local Government, speaking on the Public Health Bill, boasted that they had set up a whole embarkation scheme under which people who proposed to secure employment in another country would have to be medically examined and certified as being in a clean and healthy condition. We set up a special department to clean the emigrants. I wonder if the opportunity was taken, when these people were passing through these disinfestation and delousing chambers, to tell them of the shocking conditions they were going to in England or the grand conditions there were here at home? Why was it necessary to set up a special health embarkation scheme under Government auspices? For fear our people would not get to England — that was the only reason. The British Government had insisted that this should be done and we were so anxious, not merely to get rid of 120,000 people but to get rid of them under such conditions that the British would keep them, that we got them all disinfested and cleaned, certifying them in a clean and healthy condition.
I have never done anything so widely propagandist in favour of emigrants going to England as that scheme was. The Minister knows and the Parliamentary Secretary knows that the employment exchanges were used for the purpose of enabling English agents to get the material they wanted and that, during the war years, our people went to the boats with bandages round their arms to indicate the centres to which they were to go. That was all done here with Government connivance and support. I have spoken to people who were at the boats when these things were happening and they said they came away scandalised. It was like the old days of the slave market: people were marked out for their physical fitness and not merely marked out and afterwards given a certificate that they were clean and healthy, but they were being herded by English agents around the exchanges, who told them exactly where they were going.
The Government, that is so anxious about propaganda, helped in that. I have yet to hear of a single man, who was told, when these English agents came to him, to beware of the conditions in England, that they were not as rosy as they were made out to be, that the wages they would get would be infinitesimal, after the taxation was deducted, and consequently they would have nothing to send home. But 120,000 of them went, certified clean and healthy and, herded like cattle, shoved off to different centres. Yet we bleat and we whinge and are tremulous if one dares to speak of that; and the counter-accusation levelled is that it is only because of propaganda from this side that people are deluded into emigration to bad English conditions.
The Parliamentary Secretary is anxious to explain away the unemployment. One would have imagined that a country which could get rid of 120,000 people in five years and had a vast number of people in an army and an additional number in the Civil Service would have little in the way of an unemployment problem. There is one old figure that still persists — the 70,000 that were signing on as unemployed. The Parliamentary Secretary is anxious that these figures should no longer be printed, because people are making a wrong use of them, they do not understand them. They do not realise that 70,000 really does wt mean 70,000 at all, that there is a hard core of unemployed, and if you take that, then it is only about half of it.
In the Census Report of 1926, exactly that explanation was given of the figures then totted up by those who signed themselves as out of work; and the explanation was sneered at by everybody in Fianna Fáil as being only an excuse and an equivocation. Statisticians of that day made that sort of count, with very much teat result. The Parliamentary Secretary thinks he has unfolded a great secret when he tells the House not to think of 70,000 unemployed but only of 35,000. Let him read the preface to the 1926 Statistical Return and he will find that, in 1926, that same explanation was offered and his colleagues would have none of it then, and now to-day why should not any of us have none of it?
Remember, unemployment was one of the things that was going to be cured. The present Minister for Industry and Commerce, speaking in June, 1930, told about his voyagings up and down the country and he said, as reported at column 426 of the Official Report for the 4th June, 1930: "The outstanding fact concerning unemployment in this country is that it need not exist at all." It need not exist at all. And later, when I quizzed him that some of his phrases seemed to suggest a gradual absorption of the unemployed, his answer, as given to me in column 499 of the same report, was: "You could find an immediate solution for unemployment to-morrow."
The Taoiseach, addressing an Árd-Fheis of Fianna Fáil in 1929, delivered himself of this:
"The more I consider this problem, the more convinced I become that the problem of unemployment in Ireland is quite capable of solution and the more certain I feel that it was a crime against the unemployed and against the nation to leave it unsolved."
It could have been ended immediately, there could be a solution the next day, it was a crime against the unemployed and against the nation to leave it unsolved. Now the Parliamentary Secretary tells us that it is just the same 70,000 as before and that, when you break it up, it is only 35,000 and that, mind you, after dislodging 120,000 people across the waves, and, as I say, carrying in the Army more than three times what used to be in the Army and having added largely to the ranks of the civil servants.
I do not know if the Parliamentary Secretary ever read Alice in Wonderland. At one time, Alice is being dragged around by the Bed Queen and exhorted to go faster and faster. Suddenly she arouses herself to the consciousness that she is under the same old tree the whole time and she remarks on it to the Bed Queen. The Red Queen says: “Of course, we are,” and Alice, wonderingly, replies: “In our country, we would expect to get somewhere else if we ran very fast, as we have been doing recently.” The Red Queen's answer was: “This is a very slow country. In this country, you have to run very fast to keep exactly in the same place, and, if you want to get somewhere else, you have to run at least twice as fast.” The Parliamentary Secretary pats himself on the back, although we have been spending money hand over fist for the past 15 years, piling up national and local debt, exporting people as emigrants, drawing off other potential unemployed into the Army and shoving certain more into the Civil Service that, notwithstanding all the running he is doing he is still in the same old position as in 1932.
The Parliamentary Secretary thinks it hard to get employment in this country under the conditions which operate. He apparently has never read a speech made by the present Minister for Finance in the Seanad in June, 1946. He was asked by a Senator if there was any real likelihood of capital development in the country with the present scarcity of capital equipment, and his answer was: "The principal industry in this country is agriculture. It can be expanded by taking in the people who are idle at the moment and giving them spades. The agricultural industry could do more capital development inside the next year than has been done in industry over the last five or six years." He said later: "There are no imported materials worth while used in that development."
The Minister for Finance thinks that if we could only get spades enough and put them in the hands of the agricultural community, we could do all the capital development required in agriculture and absorb all the unemployed. Why has he not done it? Why do we go on sending people to England, if conditions are so bad there and if we have such a handy and easy way of keeping them at home, giving them profitable occupation and getting capital development in agriculture at the same time? "Get the people who are idle at the moment and give them spades — you do not require imported materials for that," the Minister said. "Just put them to work and you can get more capital development done inside a year in agriculture with spades than has been done in industry in the past five or six years." One wonders why it was not done.
The Parliamentary Secretary is also worried about the talk there is about profits and profiteers in this country. He said that people in his constituency had often marvelled when he told them there are only 106 people with incomes of £10,000 a year or more. He still has something to learn about profits and profiteers. Just before the war started, in 1938, a Mr. C. McElligott, who was then in charge of prices, was asked about profiteering, and his answer was: "Following the adoption of measures rendered necessary for the establishment and protection of native trade and industry and because of certain pre-existing and continuing trade conditions in this country, the temptation to excessive profit-taking is ever-present and there is ample evidence that advantage is being taken of this circumstance." That was before the war gave these gentlemen their chance —"ample evidence that advantage is being taken of this circumstance."
Then we came to the war and the war period. In 1941, the then Minister for Finance told the Dáil on 17th May that he had investigated the Revenue Commissioners' accounts, and that the accounts showed that "a considerable number of business concerns had been making substantially increased profits since the outbreak of the war and that he proposed to get for the Exchequer a substantial proportion of the increased profits which have accrued as a result of the war." He went on to point out that, because a man made profits, he was not a profiteer, and he was getting after the profiteers. Later, he returned to it and said: "The businesses which have been making substantial, excess profits are mainly in the hands of limited companies." In the Seanad, on a date in 1945, the same Minister was asked about profits. He referred to an article in the Irish Times and said that a writer there referred to the millions gained by Irish, industry. Senator Douglas interrupted to ask: “Do you believe that?”, and the Minister replied: “I do, and I know it is true.” Senator Douglas interjected the word: “Millions?” and the answer came again: “Yes, I know it to be true. I have the advantage, as Minister, of seeing the results.” Again, it was the Revenue Commissioners' accounts he was talking about—“millions gripped by these people in excess profits.”
The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs went to his constituency in February of this year and said that if individuals were determined to charge the highest prices or rents they could get, without regard to what could be called a just profit, it often proved impossible for the Government to exercise control. Later in the same speech, he said: "If clever individuals kept one set of books to deceive the Government and adopted various other subterfuges to deceive the office of the Revenue or Industry and Commerce, it was an expensive and difficult task for the Government to get after them." The Minister for Finance says: "Substantial excess profits made." Questioned about it, he says: "Millions," adding that he knows it, and the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs thinks there are people who keep two sets of books and adopt a series of subterfuges to hide their real profits from the officials of Finance and Industry and Commerce. Yet the Parliamentary Secretary wondered the other day if there was any truth in these statements about the profits made in this country.
I want again to pull out into prominence the drapers of this country, or a group of them. In January, 1944, the Irish Times published an analysis of the wartime profits of five business firms — Messrs. Arnott and Company, Crowe Wilson and Company, Pim Brothers, Switzers and Todd Burns and Company. The article made a comparison between the profits, after taxation had been levied, in the year 1939 and the last year they had for reference, 1943. Messrs. Arnott and Company, in 1939, had lost £1,400; in 1943, they made, over and above taxation, £23,689. The comparison is between 1939 and 1943 — they have been making them ever since. A loss of £1,400 in 1939 was changed into a profit of £23,689 in 1943. Crowe Wilson had good profits in 1939— £7,500. They rose to £15,750 in 1943. Pim Brothers had suffered a loss of £3,500, in 1939. After tax had been paid, their profits were £12,648 in 1943. Switzers had almost £5,000 profits in 1939. They increased that figure to £12,000 in 1943. Todd Burns, who had lost almost £1,000 in 1939, rose, in 1943, to a profit of £18,000. I have made the calculation before — I think it is right— that, from getting something in the neighbourhood of £4,000 in 1939, they had got £82,000 in 1943. Remember, that applies only to five drapery firms in this city in the year 1943. Everybody knows that that has been going on since. Yet, there is anxiety as to whether this talk about profits has not been overdone!