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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 14 Apr 1948

Vol. 110 No. 6

Committee on Finance. - Vote 63—Defence.

I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £3,021,640 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, 1949, for the Defence Forces (including certain Grants-in-Aid) under the Defence Forces (Temporary Provisions) Acts, and for certain administrative expenses in connection therewith; for certain expenses under the Offences Against the State Acts, 1939 and 1940 (No. 13 of 1939 and No. 2 of 1940) and the Air-Raid Precautions Acts, 1939 and 1946 (No. 21 of 1939 and No. 28 of 1946); for expenses in connection with the issue of Medals, etc.; for expenses of the Bureau of Military History; and for a Grant-in-Aid of the Irish Red Cross Society (No. 32 of 1938).

In moving this Vote, I think that, at the very earliest point, it is necessary to explain to the Dáil that that sum is the balance of the amount contained in the Book of Estimates. The Book of Estimates contained a figure for the proposed Army expenditure for this year of some £4,600,000. I do not propose to spend that amount of money. The Estimates have been gone through very thoroughly and exhaustively, and have been revised, and I propose to reduce that sum by a figure of approximately three-quarters of a million pounds—by £744,282. For the benefit of Deputies, I propose to read out after each sub-head in the Estimate the amount of reduction proposed or decided on, and I have circulated some sheets with the figures on them for the convenience of Deputies.

Under sub-head A—Pay of Members of the Defence Forces—the reduction proposed is £71,522; under sub-head C —Pay of Civilians—£50,000; under sub-head D—Chaplains—£876; under sub-head E—Medical Corps—£2,000; under sub-head F—Medicines—£946; under sub-head H—Transport of Troops—£3,000; under sub-head J— Transport generally—£38,000; under sub-head K—Allowances in lieu— £68,015; under sub-head L—Petrol, Oil, etc.—£3,400; under sub-head M— Clothing and Equipment—£11,260; under sub-head N—Animals—£3,000; under sub-head O—General Stores— £35,993; under sub-head P—Warlike Stores—£63,641; under sub-head P (2) —Navy—£44,620; under sub-head Q— Engineers' Stores—£7,750; under sub-head R—Fuel, Light, etc.—£16,513; under sub-head S—Barrack Works and Maintenance—£6,680; under sub-head S (2)—Construction Corps—£23,518; under sub-head V—Barrack Services— £13,000; under sub-head W—Insurance, £4,494; under sub-head Y— Minister's Office, £17,110; under sub-head Y (2)—the Reserve—£200,228; under sub-head Y (3)—Second Line Reserve—£3,226—making a total saving of £744,282.

To put that more briefly, for the assistance of Deputies who may not have the Book of Estimates with them, those savings, amounting to £744,282, fall under six headings. Under the heading of Allowances and Maintenance of the Permanent Forces, there is a saving of £186,316; under the heading Pay Allowances, Maintenance Grants to Reserve and Construction, the saving will be £226,972; under the heading, Pay and Allowances of Civilians, the saving is £67,110; under the heading of Warlike Stores the saving is £94,141; under the heading of Ordinary Stores the saving is £167,945, and under the heading of Incidentals the saving is £1,800, making a total of £744,282.

It would have suited me as Minister in charge of the Defence Forces not to have taken this Estimate so very early in the year, but in the interests of the members of the Defence Forces and of the general stability of those forces, I have found that my hand has been forced to a very considerable and entirely undesirable extent by the prevalence of rumours—of a vastly disturbing kind of rumour—appearing in a number of English papers, rumours circulating through some Irish papers. The Department of Defence in peace time is not an organisation controlled by any secret society. Any information that it is in the public interest to give will always be, and is always, freely given to the public by that Department. Many responsible newspapers circulating in this country on hearing the rumours that were going round, communicated with the Minister or with the Department in order to find out to what extent, if any, there was any truth in them, and they were told without any evasion exactly what the position was, what decisions have been taken and what things were under consideration. Others did not behave with the same degree of responsibility and rumours circulated and were taken up by one and carried to another with the result that there was a serious wave of uneasiness, anxiety and unrest in very, very many units of the Defence Forces in this country. I think that most Deputies would agree with me that in normal times, but particularly in abnormal times, it is very far from being in the national interest to create anything in the way of uneasiness or unrest in the minds of members of the Defence Forces. We must remember that the Army, the Navy or the Air Force, as the case may be, is the career of those officers, N.C.O.s and men, that to a great extent their wives and families are dependent on the successful career of the husband or father and that these rumours create a degree of undesirable uneasiness and anxiety in very, very many homes up and down the country. It was because of that that I have asked permission to take the Army Estimate at this early date.

If the Deputies throw their minds back over the types of rumours that have been circulating within the past two months they will find that there was scarcely a unit in the Army that was not to be completely wiped out and liquidated because of the new Government taking up its position on these benches—the Army School of Equitation, the Construction Corps, the Navy, the body compiling the history of the period, et cetera, et cetera. As I said, anybody who made the inquiry got an answer and a truthful answer. There is not, and there never was any intention of disturbing the position of any officer, or any non-commissioned officer or of any single member of the Defence Force through the change of Government or through a change of policy. Everybody from the Chief of Staff down to the youngest recruit on the uniformed side of the Army and everybody from the secretary down to the youngest clerk on the civilian side occupies exactly the same position to-day as he did before the change of Government. I think that was a wise decision because if people trained in the services cannot be trusted, then nobody can be trusted and I am prepared to trust everybody, whether in uniform or out of uniform who has given service within those forces or that Department to my predecessor.

I know that the proposed reductions will be criticised on the grounds that this is not the time to reduce the strength of the Army, that there are war clouds still in Europe and that we should maintain our fighting efficiency at the very highest pitch. I can understand that point of view, but I am also entitled to adopt the attitude that we can suffer from an overdose of jitters or war nerves. There are too many people, in this country and elsewhere, that read, as it were, a shower into every shadow, a cloudburst into every cloud. Modern war has become a matter of total war. If a small island country such as ours is to make ample provision in advance for a possible war in the near or distant future, we must bear in mind that the military front is only one front in modern war. The other fronts are the economic front and the supply front. Industrial and agricultural production in advance of war are just as important as men and armaments. The wisest course, if we are to have anything in the nature of an outbreak that may in time involve or affect this country, is to have in the interval the maximum degree of production. We have to remember that every man knocking sparks out of a barrack square is one less man in production and a thousand extra men marching and counter-marching in any barrack square in this or any other country is the productivity of a thousand men lost to the people.

There is another aspect of the matter. Military outlook has become, and must become, an outlook ranging far and beyond the four walls of every barrack. Every Chief of Staff in every threatened country is as anxious about the health of the people in that country as he is about the number of soldiers that he counts any morning in the barrack square. Anti-tuberculosis campaigns elsewhere, school medical inspection elsewhere—how did they originate? Did they originate with the health authorities, either in Europe or Britain? The whole scheme of anti-tuberculosis and the whole scheme of school medical inspection emanated from the general staffs of countries that were perturbed by the low standard of the people going into their army and the high percentage of those who had to be rejected on medical grounds.

When we apply that standard to our own people, we have a higher percentage, unfortunately, of medically unfit for Army life than most other countries. We have a people more extensively ravaged by tuberculosis than most and we have appalling housing conditions. We have such a scale of social services that barely keep the people above the destitution level. In the light of that set of circumstances we have a demand on the cover page of this Book of Estimates for £16,000,000 more than was asked for this time last year.

If we are to tackle the problems that really matter militarily, we have to get a sound health foundation. If anything like that sum is to be found, we must, as far as possible, save money in one direction so as to spend it in another. We must spend every £ collected from the people in the spirit of people determined to get 20/- worth of value for every £ spent and to ensure that every £ spent is spent in an essential direction, that it is necessary to spend that £ and that it is spent in a businesslike manner, after sound and thorough investigation of all the circumstances demanding its expenditure.

It was in that particular spirit that the reduction in the Army Estimates was effected and I am glad to say that the proposed reductions which I have outlined in the Dáil were the proposals of the general staff and there is not a single reduction there imposed on them by me. What was put to them by me was the general picture of the national situation and the desire and determination of the Government to effect sound economies everywhere that economies could be effected and then I asked for their proposals. Their proposals are the proposals I have read out in Dáil Eireann.

With regard to the general policy of the Army, there is no change in the general policy. There is no change in the general organisation. There is no change in the paper establishment. The only change with regard to the internal policy of the Army is the abandonment of recruiting for the Construction Corps. I think most Deputies will agree that the Army Construction Corps was not fulfilling any defence purpose. In so far as it was fulfilling any purpose, it was fulfilling a purpose that would be best described as a social service. It was a kind of organisation unsuited to the Army. The Army officers, N.C.O.s and men who had anything to do with that particular unit made a very successful hand of a very difficult job of work but it was about the most cumbersome and the most expensive way by which that problem could have been dealt with. There was no decision taken to disband the Construction Corps. The only decision taken with regard to the Construction Corps is that we will not continue to recruit into that corps and that any boy or man who wants his discharge can get it.

In the beginning the Construction Corps was taken up heartily and, I am told, was fulfilling quite a useful function. Recently, recruiting has dwindled. It is really the type of immature young boy who, perhaps, was in difficult economic circumstances or who, perhaps, was attracted by a poster and foresaw a glamorous life, that came into the unit. But recruiting had dwindled and the whole strength of the corps was dwindling and those that we had in it, to a very, very great extent, could be regarded as unwilling, discontented, semi-conscripts, people that were never meant for the rigid discipline of Army life, people completely unsuited for that kind of life—discontented, unsettled. I think most Deputies will support me in the view that it was wise to take a decision to let go any of those who wanted to go, to give them their full gratuity as if they had served their full period of office. With regard to the Construction Corps, that is the decision taken, that any of them who want to go will be allowed to go, any of them who want to pass into the permanent Army and who are up to standard will be entirely welcome there, and there will be no obstacle put to their entering the Army; but there is to be no further recruiting to that particular unit. That is one decision that could be regarded as a departure from policy.

With regard to the proposed strength of the Army, I think it is true to say that the general policy, passed down along the line from one Minister to another, with regard to our defence arrangement was to a very great extent a continuous policy. The policy generally accepted was that of a small, very highly-trained regular Army and the maximum possible number of reserves of different types outside that barrack wall—a small Army where the officers would be so highly trained that any one of them or every one of them in time of war would be capable of filling a position at least two ranks higher than the one he held, and the same would apply to N.C.O.s, and where every individual private soldier would be so highly trained that he would be capable and qualified to fill the position of an N.C.O. in a larger Army. That was, I think, a continuous policy. In addition to that, the policy was to keep the headquarters or paper establishment of bigger formations, so that, if at any time it was necessary to recruit rapidly, you had the overhead organisation and the new recruits had merely to roll in under that umbrella, as it were.

That means in practice a small Army which would appear on a mathematical basis to be top heavy in the way of officers and non-commissioned officers, because the units underneath would not in peace time be anything up to strength. These establishments are being retained. The officer number is approximately the same as estimated for in the larger Estimate; the N.C.O.s are approximately the same as that estimated for in the Book of Estimates; the number over all of all ranks is the number we have at the moment and the number we have had for the last 12 months. It is approximately 1,000 less than is provided for in the Book of Estimates, excluding the Construction Corps. If any Deputy looks at the Book of Estimates he will see at the top of the page the total establishment and then the words "Deduct for over-estimation" and you substract one-third from that for over-estimation. The peace establishment is 15,500. The number estimated is 10,570. Subtract the Construction Corps from that. The number in the bigger Estimate was 9,600; the actual strength in January and February last was 8,672.

Major de Valera

All ranks?

Yes. The strength I am budgeting for is approximately 8,500, without any Construction Corps, or 100 Construction Corps, taken into account. On examination, Deputies will agree that there is nothing very drastic or startling in suggesting that we should carry approximately 1,000 less than was estimated for at a time when the Minister and his Department may not have been aware that such huge financial demands were going to be made as appeared subsequently in this particular book.

On this point that will be raised, of war or impending war, I would submit with absolute conviction that, if we are to budget for a war position or a situation in which we may be involved in war, this Estimate can have no relation whatsoever to that war situation. Neither would the figures in the Book of Estimates, for £750,000 more than I am asking, have any real meaning in a war situation. The only kind of Estimate which would have any real meaning then would be one four, five or six times larger than is contained either in that Estimate or in the figure I am asking the Dáil to approve.

The recruiting drive which was in being last month has been called off. No matter what strength of an Army we were aiming at this year, I do not think the early spring was the time for recruiting in this country. The early spring is a time of sowing and if we are to make an effort to make ourselves a little bit independent of world conditions in the event of any outbreak, it was highly essential that the last grain of corn should be sown and the last "spud" be put into the ground. To make that effort, it was desirable to have the maximum number of men employed in the field at the time when they would be best employed.

Even if we are to accept a war coming, they would be better employed, in those early spring months, in the field or in the factory than undergoing training in any of our military barracks. I took that decision in the light of the encouraging knowledge that, through our Army, through our Volunteers, through our various reserve organisations, we have a very high percentage of at least semi-trained men. Their response to the calls that went out from many platforms over the last ten years was very gratifying and young men of military age enrolled in the various forces freely, generously and enthusiastically. That was one side of the picture. The other side of the picture was that we were not involved in that war, that we did not have casualties and that we still, thanks be to God, have available the services of all those highly-trained or semi-trained men. The position is that a large army could be very rapidly recruited in this country. We have the N.C.O. establishment and the officer establishment highly trained and ready for the job.

A large economy in these proposals, a very big figure, is covered by not calling up the first-line reserve and not calling up the whole of the second-line reserve. That is bound to be a decision that will lead to a certain amount of discussion and of comment. I consider it absolutely reasonable that there would be different points of view on a question such as that.

The reason is not one purely of economy. The real reason is that I firmly believe, and the General Staff also believe, that any sound defence policy in this country must, and will, always have to be based on getting the maximum number of highly-trained reservists of different categories outside of the regular Army; that we will never be able to afford a big standing Army. The cost of soldiers is going up by leaps and bounds every year. Our wealth, unfortunately, is not increasing with the cost of armies. A thousand soldiers at the present moment, of any type, would cost something like £250,000 a year. We could never afford to rely for our defence system on a regular Army because we would never be able to maintain a regular Army big enough for the job. That being so, hard facts, tight finance, and common sense direct that we must keep our eyes on having the maximum reserve strength carrying the greatest number of effectives trained as highly as possible, and in a very intense manner.

A considerable amount of energy and attention on the part of Army officers will be given during this year to a complete investigation and overhaul of the reserve position. The first line reserve, as you all know, is composed of men who are as highly trained in modern weapons as the soldiers in our barracks. They are a very efficient and highly trained force. I do not think we are losing anything in the way of effectiveness by not calling them up this year. There is not any type of modern arms in our possession that that first line reserve is not completely familiar with.

With regard to the second line reserve, there is where we have the very big numbers. On paper the number is something like 48,000 men. That is the particular force that we are concentrating on investigating and overhauling with the object of arriving at the best plan of training the maximum number of that very big reserve. The calling up of the second line reserve last year was practically a failure. At all events, the response was thoroughly disappointing. I think approximately 12 per cent. of the second line reserve reported for training—one man in ten.

Major de Valera

That is, the F.C.A.?

Yes. I do not think anybody will hold that that was good enough. Of course, we have to be conscious of the fact that those men have their occupations and they do not want to get too far away from their bases. I think the only policy for more effective training with regard to the F.C.A. is to follow the moral to be drawn from Mahomet and the mountain. It is along that line that matters are being investigated at the moment. For this year, so far as the F.C.A. goes, it is proposed to call up for training the officers, the N.C.O.s and a body that is classed as potential officers, and not to call up the main body. During this year 35 halls of the larger type will be constructed, or will be under construction, in different parts of the country with the object of giving training more in the local sense to members of the F.C.A. The Dáil may accept it from me that I regard that body as an invaluable organisation and I think time will show that it is wise to rely to a very great extent on such a large body of volunteer troops coming to the assistance of a highly trained regular Army. No labour should be spared in the direction of making their training more and more effective so as to have those large numbers of men more and more efficient. That is as far as the reserves go.

So far as any Deputy may have a genuine anxiety with regard to maintaining the strength of the Army for the time being just at the figure at which it has been for the past 12 months, I think that would be an unwise policy. In view of the possibility of an outbreak in Europe which might in time affect or involve us, I would ask Deputies to think of the particular type of outbreak and to cast their minds on the particular menace that will be there. Let them ask themselves would there be any difficulty in getting all, and, indeed, more than the recruits we would want overnight, if a call were sent out. If a particular outbreak of that kind did take place the people of this country would look upon it as something in the nature of a "holy war" and the problem would be to stem the tide of recruits rather than the problem of going out to look for them. There can be no doubt as to numbers coming forward in such an eventuality. We are keeping the holding-machine to take them in. The headquarters establishments will be there. The N.C.O.s to handle them will be there. The barracks are there. The equipment is there. The only difference is that for the time being the potential recruits are engaged in valuable productive work—a production invaluable to our people should there be any interference with our supply lines or communications.

One last word with regard to the Navy. That was one of the forces that was to be abolished. The Navy is there. I think that any Minister, in a world situation such as we find ourselves in at the present time, would be overstepping the bounds of his responsibility if he disbanded, liquidated or abolished any particular arm, unit or branch of our defence organisation which was doing its work honestly and efficiently and which had a particular part to play and a particular function to fulfil. Even from this side of the House—I might not in the past have subscribed to the setting up of a navy because of our limited funds and all the other drawbacks—I would certainly not subscribe now to the abolition of the Navy which is already there manned by personnel keenly interested in their profession and serving a useful purpose even in time of peace with the possibility of serving a still more useful purpose in time of danger. There will be no interference whatsoever with the organisation or strength of that particular force.

On the question of stores, a substantial economy is shown in the figures I read out with regard to warlike stores and war material. All these figures are very much of an estimate. As Deputies on all sides of this House know, each year we have had a figure for war stores. It is easy enough to put down a figure in the Book of Estimates, ask the Dáil to approve of it, and then tax the people for its equivalent in money. That is only the first step. The next step is to get the supplies. To-day supplies are as difficult to get as they ever were in the past. The War Office at the present moment will take our order. Perhaps in 12 months' time they will notify us to turn that order into a firm order and they will then supply. We will always get a free supply of obsolete armaments—that is, armaments which become obsolete because of military development and day to day experiment. I do not believe for one moment that, if one checks back over the Estimates, the figure I have provided for warlike stores is going to be touched or reached within the particular year with which we are dealing here. It is merely a matter of firmer estimation in view of the knowledge obtained since the material for that Book of Estimates was first put together. I believe that if at the present moment my predecessor was speaking from this particular bench and he was asked about this particular sub-head, in the light of the knowledge to hand since that Book was prepared, he would make just as big a reduction in that particular sub-head as I have made.

I have dealt with this Estimate in a rather rambling way. I am anxious to take the entire House into my complete confidence in regard to defence matters. If there are any particular points that I have overlooked dealt with in subsequent discussion I will give the maximum amount of information asked when I reply. If there is any particular point raised upon which at the moment I am not competent to give a reply through lack of knowledge or experience, as soon as I obtain the information I will communicate privately with the Deputy seeking it.

This is the first occasion on which I have addressed the Dáil as Minister for Defence. I think it is only due to the officers, N.C.O.s and men that I should take this opportunity of saying publicly how gratified I was to find such a surprisingly high standard of efficiency and enthusiasm. With regard to the officers and N.C.O.s who have, of course, longer service than the privates, I think the training and knowledge acquired by our Army would compare favourably with that of most armies. The only thing we lack —and it is a fortunate lack for us—is actual war experience. That is a blessing rather than a curse. I did expect, because of oldtime association and oldtime experience, a high standard of training and enthusiasm; even with that expectation, I was agreeably surprised to find how much higher it was than I had anticipated.

Major de Valera

Would the Minister before he concludes complete his picture by saying what is the strength of the first line reserve?

The actual strength at the beginning of the year was 5,748. The estimated strength is 5,760. I would, of course, be very pleased if it were higher than that but that is the number we expect to elect to go on the reserve.

The Minister by his speech this evening has proved that he can accommodate himself to almost any situation. I throw my mind back to the utterances made by him from this side of the House and I find it difficult to identify the speaker this evening as one and the same person. In his opening statement this evening the Minister complained of the volume of rumour abroad. If the Minister wants to find the source of these rumours I would suggest that he should read his own speech last year in Volume 105, No. 1 of the Dáil Debates. He will find in that speech all the information responsible in the main for the rumours about which he complains this evening. For instance, one statement which he made in the course of his speech on that occasion was to the effect that practically every sub-head in the Estimate was a demand for so much nonsense. That is a statement that can very easily be made by a Deputy who has little or no responsibility for what he states but I am glad and I congratulate the Minister on the fact that he is now assuming the mantle of ministerial responsibility and that he is now talking in a manner which is quite suitable to his high office.

I am not satisfied that the Army is not to some extent being reduced, and being reduced deliberately and in a rather insidious manner. I refer to the stopping of the recruiting advertisements and, I presume, the stopping of recruitment generally to the forces follows. That is a haemorrhage which in due course, if it is allowed to continue, will bleed the Army to an extent to which it will become almost useless. We know that the Minister on the occasion of the debate on the last Estimate for the Department of Defence stated that the figures for the peace-time Army, which were contained in that Book of Estimates, were too big by half. I do not know whether the Minister still holds that idea or not. Several of those who are now his colleagues spoke in a similar manner. The Minister himself at that time suggested that we only require an Army to stand behind the civil power. In other words, all he required was an Army to stand behind the civil power on any occasion on which it might be called for, and he also suggested that it could be used on ceremonial occasions. That is a rather belittling situation for the men in the Army. If members of the Army feel that they are merely an auxiliary to a police force or that they are there merely for the purpose of appearing on ceremonial occasions no one can complain if the morale is at a low ebb. I do not believe it is at a low ebb but I do believe that statements of the kind that were made on this Estimate last year would seriously affect the minds of a number of men who had at least feelings that they were doing work of useful importance. For instance, the Minister for Local Government, who is now a colleague of the Minister, speaking in this House on this Estimate last year said:—

"In my opinion this Estimate, in the main, is one that ought to disappear from the financial provisions made by this House. To some extent, any money provided for this service should be spent on something in the nature of an expanded national police force rather than on an Army. The Army should be pruned down to that extent and the money spent on it might be utilised for some more useful and productive service."

Such a statement is not going to create a high morale amongst the members of the Army. Another colleague of the Minister's, the Minister for Lands, Deputy Blowick as he was then, speaking on the same occasion, disagreed with the Minister in his belief that the Army should be only used as a police force. He stated in the course of his speech:

"I do not agree with some of the speakers who spoke about an armed police force, because that is pure humbug."

Later he went on to say:

"I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that we could save £2,500,000 of this sum of £4,500,000 and that the money could be devoted to other useful work...".

These statements were, in my opinion, sufficient to start all the rumours that have been complained of in this House this evening. The Minister, in the course of his statement, mentioned the fact that the defence policy was to have a small force, highly trained, capable of taking the next rank or the rank above that in the event of an emergency. That was the policy of the Government which we succeeded. It was approved by the Government which we succeeded and it was adopted by this Government as a useful policy also. That was the policy we followed but I regret to have to say that neither in the time of the first Government nor in the time of the second Government did that policy ever become operative. We should ask ourselves why it did not become operative. What were the reasons why it did not become operative?

The reasons are simple. The Army consisted then of 6,000 men. These 6,000 men had to carry out guard duties of a most onerous type. A man went on at 9 o'clock, say on a Monday morning, and he was not relieved until 9 o'clock on Tuesday morning. He then was given a rest; he slept throughout the day on Tuesday and rested again during the night. On Wednesday morning he was free to get whatever tuition or training it was possible to give him in that very brief period. The training which these men could receive in that very limited time was merely a type of close foot drill, perhaps a little ceremonial drill, a lecture worked in if possible, and perhaps a little target practice but nothing of a nature that would fit these men for the task which was visualised by the Army authorities. The men were overworked; the officers were overworked and the morale was low. What was the result when the emergency came on the nation? The result was that it took more than two years to train the army of recruits who offered themselves for service in the nation's emergency. We were indeed very fortunate to have been given that amount of time but at the end of two years, it could not even then be said that they had reached the standard which the Army staff had visualised or which the Government had been hoping for, because when the great manoeuvres of 1942 took place, it was found that while the men were capable of marching and of drilling in a simple fashion, they were not capable of accepting orders given right down from the headquarters through the various units to the company units. The result, of course, was that the manoeuvres were not as successful as they should have been. The staff again concentrated their efforts on these men with a view to having a repeat of these manoeuvres in the hope that in due course the standard which was aimed at would be reached. It was not necessary to have the second manoeuvres and we do not know what the results would have been, but we are certain that, with an Army of 6,000 men, it is quite impossible— and we should all realise this fact—to carry out the dual work which is required, that of providing necessary guards for the barrack posts, equipment and so on and at the same time producing a highly trained and efficient Defence Force capable of achieving the things for which we were looking.

As far as I can see, the only solution to that difficulty is the peace-time Army which was strongly recommended by the Army staff after very careful examination and which was accepted and approved of by the Government. Even in these circumstances, Deputies have got to realise that an Army of 12,500 men does not necessarily mean that you have got 12,500 men at your disposal. There are very large administrative staffs: there are medical units in the field; there are the mechanics, the ordnance staffs, the cooks and numerous other personnel of that type which will of necessity reduce that figure of 12,500 to probably 10,000 effectives—that is 10,000 men who can be given that type of training which will render them capable in an emergency of handling an inflow of recruits such as we had in 1939 and 1940.

I put it to the Minister that the world situation at the present time is of such a character that he should not gamble with it. We should have the Army estimated for in this Book of Estimates—an Army of 12,500 men.

You did not estimate for that number.

If you get that number —excluding the Construction Corps— it will be possible, at least I believe it will be possible, to produce a trained personnel capable of handling the inflow of recruits that might be likely to come along in an emergency. I should like to deal with the suggestion of the Minister for Lands when he was in Opposition and when he told us that he would be prepared to reduce this Estimate by £2,500,000. He is now a member of the Government and I am sure his voice is heard in the Council Chamber and is taken note of. He recommended that the expenditure on the Army be, reduced by £2,500,000. A reduction of the Estimate by such a sum would leave £1,919,000 approximately at the disposal of the Minister for Defence. The Army Vote in 1931-32 was £1,437,000 odd. For that sum, you had an Army of 500 officers and 6,000 men odd, but if we take into account the increased cost, to which the Minister himself referred, of equipment and rations and the increase in the pay of soldiers, we shall find that £1,900,000 would cover only an Army of something like 250 officers and about 2,250 men now. I am pretty certain that the Minister is not going seriously to consider that suggestion, however he may feel about reducing the Army to the figure in which he himself believes and which, I am afraid, would not be very much short of Deputy Blowick's.

Only 1,000 short of yours.

I should like to see the Minister taking his courage in his hands and let the Army recruit, as it was recruiting at the time he withdrew the advertisements. There was a certain amount of difficulty in securing recruits. There was a continuous outflow which was not made up by the influx of recruits and hence it was necessary to undertake the great recruiting campaign which was undertaken, not in the spring-time, but at the end of 1947, and which was carried on into the spring-time if you like, and from which we were getting reasonably favourable results, results which were at least up to the average standard of former years. With the stopping of recruiting, of course, the Minister can, without interfering, good, bad or indifferent, with the Army, let the Army drift down to any figure which he desires to let it reach.

As I said, the present is not the time when we should be taking any chances. I naturally hope, as I am sure every other Deputy hopes, that there will not be another world conflict, but we are not entitled to assume that there will not be another world conflict. We are not entitled to assume, as the Minister assumed on the Estimate, that never again in any circumstances will England lay a finger on this country. I cannot understand why a man of his intelligence should make such a prophecy and make it seriously; nor can I understand why he should say that the second mightiest navy in the world is our best defence. Surely it was not for that fact that the men of 1916 went out and sacrificed themselves; it was not for that that the men of the Black and Tan period fought for and won independence—to have the second mightiest navy in the world defend us. If there is to be any defence of this nation, let it be defended by the Irish people. We got ample proof of their readiness and of their desire to defend this nation during the recent emergency. We were prepared then to defend our integrity on two fronts if necessary. It may be true, as the Minister stated on that occasion, that we could only put up a token resistance, but that is all to the good. It is our resistance anyhow and we do not want to be defended by foreigners. We will defend the liberties we have to the best of our ability and, having done that, we can do little more.

The Minister must by now realise that not only had we got a defence policy but that we had also a defence plan. He is now in control of the Department of Defence and of the Army, and he can put his hand at any moment he so desires on the plans for the defence of this country, plans which were made by the Army staff, by men who worked into the small hours of the morning unremittingly for weeks and months to perfect these plans. He must also know by this that we were menaced, not by one belligerent but by both belligerents, and that the Army was quite prepared to meet any circumstances likely to arise. It is quite true to say that, if we had been menaced by the German Army, we would have been at war with Germany there and then. It may be just as true to say that, by reason of that fact, we would have been involved in the war on England's side. But the reverse might easily have happened also. We maintained our neutrality and we maintained it mainly by reason of the fact that we had the forces which were there. We had an Army of well over 40,000 and we had a citizen army made up of the personnel of the Local Defence Force ready to defend every town and village and every street in every town and village at least to the best of their ability. These were the things that counted when it came to the question of deciding whether this nation should be menaced by invasion or whether it should not be menaced. A similar loyalty in the future will, I believe, ensure a smilar safety for this nation.

I know that the Minister is concerned mainly with the cost of the Defence Forces, but he, like everyone of us, must realise that the cost of the Defence Forces is the premium that we have to pay for the insurance against attack. If we have not got defence forces of one kind or another, then surely we are inviting an enemy to come in and occupy this country. It is only by reason of the fact that we have, visible to those who want to see it, an Army that will put up even a token resistance that will make the invasion of this country a costly affair and make it necessary for an invader to maintain very strong forces to keep our people suppressed.

I feel that the fact that we are not calling up the first line reserve is an injustice to the men of that body. The calling up of the first line reserve means providing what might be described as a refresher course for these officers once a year. The Minister is not saving a whole lot of money by his refusal to call up the reserve because, so far as I can remember, the Minister will have to pay out something like £74,000 in grants to the members of the reserve who are not called up and, from the Book of Estimates, I estimate that the saving will only amount to something like £51,000. Surely it cannot be the amount of money he is saving that he is after in that particular instance. What then is his aim in taking this extraordinary step of not calling up the reserve for their usual annual training? There are numerous reasons why this year, above all years, the first line reserve should be called out and should get this refresher course which is so absolutely necessary to keep it up to par.

I have very little to say with regard to the Construction Corps, and the virtual disbandment of it. Its establishment served a very useful purpose. It was intended to take young fellows off the streets, young fellows who since they left school had failed to find employment and to engage them on some type of useful work within that corps. Quite a number of young fellows received an amount of skilled training in it. As a result of their membership of the corps, they were prepared to go out into the world and become reasonably good citizens with at least semi-skilled knowledge of the crafts in which they were trained during their period of service. I regret its passing, but I do admit that it did not get the support that it should have got. I agree with the Minister that it was not a job for Army officers, but the Army took it on at the time when it was very necessary that somebody should take it on. In doing so the Army did a very useful social work.

In regard to the Estimate I want to make a very sincere appeal to the Minister to give serious consideration at the present time to the retention of the larger Army for the purpose for which that Army was designed: the purpose of producing the greatest possible number of highly skilled soldiers and the greatest possible number of highly skilled officers who would be ready at the shortest possible notice to undertake the task of drilling and making ready for the Army those whom it might be found necessary to recruit in a time of emergency.

I should say at the outset that I feel this general problem of defence should be removed as far as possible from ordinary petty Party considerations. I do not think it helps an awful lot to have the matter considered in a serious way, to be reminded of what somebody said last year or the year before or the year before that.

It is nice to hear it.

It may be nice to hear it and it may be good Party politics, but I do not think very much of it. I feel that defence is one of those things that should be taken completely out of the arena of Party politics. I feel that, in this House, we ought to have a committee representative of all Parties that would consider defence problems in a responsible way and make recommendations now and again to the Minister for Defence. I think that if we had something on those lines we could all unite to ensure that the best defence force that could be made available would be available for the country. I am quite sure that if I were to go back over the debates that took place in this House in a period of 20 years or more I could find expressions of serious criticism of having an Army at all and expressions of absolute support by the same persons for a bigger Army than we have, those expressions being determined by the side of the House on which the speakers happened to be at a particular time.

One of the problems that worries me is this—it has worried me for many years—have we a defence policy at all? I do not think we have, and I do not think we ever had a defence policy, a policy seriously considered by the General Staff of the Army and by the Government and made available in the Department of Defence for the guidance of the officers who have the responsibility of organising, training, drilling and adminstering a Defence Force. I do not think there is any such policy in existence now, or that any such policy has ever been in existence. We had what one may term a hand-to-mouth policy with regard to defence. In other words, if things were serious we recruited, but when the danger seemed to pass we just discharged or retired or fired out the personnel that we did not want. That is a regrettable state of affairs. Even now, I feel that it is the duty of the Minister and of the Government to decide on some line of defence policy, on the nature of the force that would be necessary, and to implement that policy with due regard to our financial limitations—to organise a type of force that would fit into that scheme of things. Unless that is done we are only tinkering with this whole problem of defence.

Defence is much more than a land force. We have a land force, we have a sea force and we have an air force, and although these are three separate and distinct forms of combat, requiring different kinds of organisation and knowledge, we have the peculiar position that these three forces are controlled by what I may term the land force staff. That is an absurd position —that all directions with regard to the training, the administration and the organisation of our Navy should be given by officers who are trained only in regard to land forces. The Minister shakes his head, but I will develop the point. The same thing applies with regard to our air force, although the same serious problem does not arise there.

Under the statutes in force, we provide for a Defence Council and that Defence Council takes account of things as they were probably 20 or 25 years ago. It is the supreme governing authority, with the Minister, of our Defence Forces and it consists of the Chief of Staff, the Adjutant-General and the Quartermaster-General. There is no provision at all in relation to that Defence Council, the supreme governing authority, for any direct representation on matters naval to advise the Minister, and what advice he gets may come second or third hand and may come through minds that are unsympathetic to the Navy, and the same thing applies to the Air Force.

At an early stage in the history of the Free State, when serious matters occurred here, this Parliament decided that there was a great danger of a spirit of proprietorship growing up in certain leading Army officers, if they were allowed to remain in their posts of responsibility for too long a period. They fixed a period of three years for membership of that Defence Council and from the day that Act was passed until there was a change of Government in 1932, there was a change pursuant to that Act regularly every three years in the membership of the Defence Council. The result was that we had fresh minds brought to bear on the problems of defence. Every three years, a new person came in, a person who had been away from headquarters, gaining real experience in the command of troops or with the troops somewhere, to fill one of these important positions; but, for some extraordinary reason which I could never comprehend, the previous Government seemed to think that unwise.

When they came into office, they found three officers there and they carried on with these three officers in these responsible positions until they died or retired. They then appointed others to succeed them and, having appointed them, unless they died or retired, they continued them in office. Every three years they made an Order extending the period of membership, with the result that for many years the Minister has not had the benefit of the fresh advice he ought to have, the fresh advice which was contemplated when that statutory enactment was passed by this Dáil. It was a wise provision but, for some reason or other, in all the changing circumstances of the times, the Minister was quite content to keep in office the people who were there or who were appointed by him, some of them for ten years or more.

I think that was a serious mistake. I sincerely hope the new Minister will examine that problem and that both the Minister and the Government will have at their disposal the advice of fresh minds, because when you have minds directed to the same problems for a long period of years, they become stale and you do not make the progress you ought to make. Perhaps that explains some part of the very serious grievances which have existed in the Defence Forces over a long number of years. The Army is not a big Army. It is a small Army and always has been a small Army. Even during the emergency, it was a small Army and, being a small Army, everybody knows everybody else. That was always the position—everybody knew everybody else and they were like one family. That spirit of familiarity to some extent was good and, in other directions, not so good.

If we are to be serious, and we ought to be serious, about this matter of defence, this idea of an all-Party committee might be considered. Defence policy ought in so far as it is possible to be withdrawn from acrimonious debates in this House, and if we are to have a new policy in accord with the serious times through which we are passing, I suggest to the Minister that he should implement and put into force the provisions of the statutes with regard to the Defence Council to which I have referred.

All these Defence Forces, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, are operated under an Army Act of 1923. It was introduced in this House as a temporary measure in 1923. At that time the then Government said to the Opposition that they wanted it as a matter of urgency and that there could be no time for discussion, that it was vitally essential that the powers asked for should be given to them, but they made a promise to this House that they would only operate the powers for one year and that they would come back to the House, put a Defence Forces Bill before the House and have a debate by all members so that each and every Deputy in this Dáil might contribute something to the passing of a Defence Forces Act that would be suitable for our own forces. As I said, that Act has never been discussed in the House and its principles have never been adopted by the House. It was passed by this House without debate and without discussion for the purpose of easing a temporary situation, and every year since that—a period of a quarter of a century—an amending or a continuing Bill has been brought in here by the Minister who happened to be Minister for Defence for the time being, and on almost every occasion a promise was made to the House that a permanent Bill would be introduced at a later date. Many of the difficulties that face the present Minister and many of the grievances that affect so many serving and discharged members of the Defence Forces have their roots in that unfortunate history.

The last speaker, Deputy Traynor, had the honour of being Minister for Defence for many years. He knew as a Deputy in Opposition before he became a Minister how necessary it was to have this position clarified by Parliament, and I regret very much that he did not avail of the opportunities that he had during those years to put the Defence Forces Act on a proper basis in this House. I feel that he could have done it, and I think that this House would have agreed with him in making the provision that was necessary. I regret that he did not do that, and I regret that his predecessors in the Fianna Fáil and the FineGael Parties did not do it.

It is all very well to talk about recruiting. It is all very well to talk about stopping recruiting but the position, as I understand it, was that notwithstanding a very expensive campaign of recruiting there were more soldiers discharged than were being recruited under that very expensive scheme of propaganda. Why was that? Why will young men not join up in our Defence Forces—young men who are quite ready to cross the Border, who are quite ready to take the boat across to England in order to join the military service of another country—why will they not join up in our own Defence Forces?

There is not enough excitement.

When the emergency was over why were so many young men anxious to get out of the Defence Forces and glad to shake the dust of the Defence Forces off their feet? I wonder whether that problem has been considered by the Minister for Defence. I wonder was it considered by the last Minister or is it being considered by the present Minister. Young men have left the Army because they were—to use a military expression and a very fitting expression—absolutely "browned off" with the conditions there. They came home in that "browned off" state and talked all over their localities, painting a picture of Army life that prevented their young friends and comrades from having anything to do with the Army. Somebody is responsible for that state of affairs and until we have examined the question and find out where that responsibility lies it is useless for Deputy Traynor or for anybody else in the House to suggest that the Minister should build up the forces to 12,000 men. If we have got to get those numbers, in the present state of affairs it would be necessary for us to pass compulsory regulations as young men will not join the Army under present conditions.

The Temporary Provision Act, 1923, which I have already referred to, was largely responsible as it was never suitable for our Defence Forces. Under it we had and we have a system of discipline that upsets, annoys and pinpricks the ordinary soldier. How often have we not seen here in the City of Dublin a young soldier out talking to his girl friend and a military policeman in full regimentals stopping him and demanding number and name? If there was any consideration for the ordinary soldier that would never have been permitted. During the years of the emergency some genius had the bright idea of issuing an order that no soldier could move around with his overcoat on unless it were buttoned up to the throat and that regulation was enforced very strictly. Then they ask us why can we not get soldiers, where are they going, why are they going to another country and why are they leaving our Defence Forces.

These were simple problems that would not involve the Government or the Army in finance of any kind. All that was involved was an ordinary human approach to any of these problems. I am glad to see that the new Minister for Defence moves about to military establishments. I am very pleased to see him get in touch with officers, N.C.O.s and men and talk about their grievances for that is the duty of the Minister for Defence. This "brass hat" idea of living apart entirely from our Army except to pay compliments to them in the Dáil has not helped our military force nor has it helped our defence policy.

I have had considerable experience in defending soldiers who have been charged with offences or breaches of the military code and I have been upset very often by the conditions. Any code of law must be based on justice and as somebody well said on one occasion, "justice must not only be done but it must appear to be done."

What is our system of courtsmartial under this old Temporary Provisions Act which I have mentioned? We have this system: a soldier, N.C.O. or officer is charged with an offence and is returned for courtsmartial. The summary of evidence and the charge sheet are sent to a legal officer. That legal officer examines them and settles the charge sheet on which the particular member of the Defence Forces should be tried. Having done that, and being well aware of the evidence against the officer or soldier, having directed, as he often has had to do, that additional evidence be brought forward to sustain the charge, he then, under our very peculiar code, sits on the courtmartial as the judge advocate, supposed to be the impartial person to advise the three or five officers that constitute the courtmartial. It is the highest tribute I can pay to these legal officers, and I would especially mention in that connection some of the legal officers who were commissioned during the emergency, that they have done their best at these courtsmartial to try to give justice to the soldiers. The machinery is unjust; it is unfair; and if this House had an opportunity of discussing it on a Defence Forces Bill it would not tolerate the system.

There is in the Defence Forces Act the famous section that every soldier knows, Section 68.

The Deputy probably has not read the notice that was circulated that criticism of legislation is not permitted on Estimates. I think he has had considerable latitude in that connection already.

May it please you, a Chinn Comhairle. It is a pity that I cannot refer to that famous section. I will not deal with it on the section. I will deal with it in relation to what happens, which prevents soldiers remaining in the Army and in fact prevents young people joining the Army. There is a system of discipline that is pinpricking, that regards the soldier as something there to obey orders and to do what he is told, that does not regard him as a human being. If he cannot be caught on a section under the disciplinary code, there is a general omnibus method of dealing with him.

Unfortunately, it is a section, the sort of section that should not be there at all. However, it is there and has been there for 25 years and it is one of the sections that are responsible for this unfortunate position.

Major de Valera

Could the policy of retaining a section be within the debate?

There has been no settled policy on anything. At one stage, when provision was being made for age limits for retirement, special provision was made for officers occupying certain posts of responsibility, quartermasters and people of that kind who were somewhat different from the ordinary officer. They had got into the type of post in which there were not many opportunities for promotion and it was decided that in their cases they should have ten years longer to serve. That seemed to me and, I think, to most people, to be a contract between these officers and the State. After these men had spent many years in the particular posts and having lost all opportunity of promotion, by a switch in policy, the Minister for Defence cancelled the arrangement whereby they would get ten years additional service and these officers had to retire at the normal age. One would expect, if the matter had been considered fully, that there would not be such a switch in policy that affected so many officers. However, that was done and it was the sort of thing that was being done from day to day. One thing would be decided to-day. The reverse would be decided to-morrow. All that arises from the fact that we have had no policy on defence up to date. I have referred to officers. I could in this debate refer to many grievances but I do not propose to do so. I shall take other opportunities to raise them with the Minister.

I am anxious to see an efficient defence force in this country. As I said at the beginning, I want to see matters of defence policy removed from the acrimonious discussions of Party politicians. At the moment we seem to have what the Minister for Defence calls a regular Army, a First Line, the F.C.A. and a Navy. I am not worried very much about what the particular strengths may be at the moment. That is not the important thing. The important thing is that the organisation is such that it will fit into a well thought out and constructive plan. We are alleged to have 48,000 in the F.C.A. I would be happy to think that we have. It is quite possible that we have that paper strength, that nominally there are 48,000 in the F.C.A. I do not think that the Government or the Minister could consider that 48,000 men are available in that particular force to take their place in the event of an emergency. I do not blame the Minister with regard to that, nor do I blame the previous Minister. I appreciate the difficulty of trying to build up something in the nature of a citizen army, particularly after an emergency situation, when there will not be the same desire to take part in parades, in training or in manoeuvres. I should like to know from the Minister whether there is any check on that membership, whether those people who are alleged to belong to that force are existing at all, whether they are in the country or elsewhere.

I am not worried very much about the strengths; it is the policy that counts. What do we want a defence force for? Is it to defend this country from any invader, Britain included? I do not agree with what Deputy Traynor said, that we were menaced during the last war situation by Britain. I do not believe it, and I think it is an unfair statement to make. It was a very peculiar way of being menaced when our troops in uniform went across the Border to posts on the far side of the Border, to bring down here rifles and military equipment from the British Forces in occupation. That is a queer way to menace us.

Major de Valera

At a date subsequent to 1940.

It does not matter what date it was.

Major de Valera

It does, in the Deputy's argument.

All this nonsense and codology—if I may use an expression that has been made famous in this House—with regard to attacks on this country by Britain, were nothing more or less than petty Party politics, in the middle of the emergency. There was never any danger of Britain invading this country. Nevertheless, we went to the expense and the trouble of building up all kinds of defence blocks right along the Border. I do not know whether it was the Minister for Defence or the Minister for the Co-Ordination of Defensive Measures who was responsible but, however it was done, it was unjust and unfair, because there was never any likelihood of the British forces invading this country during the last emergency. When the true story is told of the last war, it will be admitted that our neutrality in the dark days after Dunkirk was of great advantage to Britain. That will be admitted by any person who has given any study at all to the problem.

It is well that we should be able to develop our defence without this fear of being invaded by Great Britain. It makes the defence position easier. If we can be sure we are not going to be attacked by Britain, then we have to consider our defence policy and defence measures on that basis.

Major de Valera

Ask the Minister some questions in respect of the 4th June, 1940.

The files most probably have been burned.

We do not mind about the burning of the files.

Major de Valera

I merely ask the Deputy to inquire about the date.

If both Deputies would get back to 1948, it would be more in order.

If the Deputy wants to talk about what happened on the 4th June, 1940, he will have an opportunity to do so. Our defence policy must be based on the protection of this country from invasion and if it is clear that we are not going to be invaded by Britain it makes the position somewhat easier. Within our constitutional position, I could not see any attack or invasion from Britain. Our constitutional position is somewhat similar to that of Canada, Australia or South Africa and no person in his senses could imagine British forces invading or entering any of those countries without the consent of the Government of that country.

I do not want to touch on this alleged republican Constitution we have, but it has some bearing on our defence. If we are an independent republic, it is quite possible that we might be invaded by Britain; but while the constitutional position remains as it is, that we are a part—whether we like it or not—of the British Commonwealth of Nations, there is no danger of our being invaded by Great Britain.

Training has been referred to here. When the Defence Forces were mobilised in the early days of the emergency, one section of those forces which deserved great credit was that then known as the Old Reserves. That section did its part in building up the new Army that was created. Those men filled administrative positions, positions as training officers and leaders of troops.

That reserve had an interesting history. It was established under the Defence Forces Act of 1923. That Act provided for an army and a reserve and the reserve consisted of people who had retired from the Army. They were of different sections. That reserve was called up year after year. It had been organised in battalions and it contributed a great deal to training, administering and building up the Defence Force that was formed in the early days of the emergency.

What happened when the emergency was over? It was decided that that particular reserve, to which this country owed so much, should be wiped out. Every officer who reached the age limit that applied to the regular Army was dismissed and those who did not reach the age limit were removed by Order of the Government, on the Minister's advice. How can we, in the future, build up any defence organisation if the persons who carry responsibility treat soldiers and reservists in the way the officers, N.C.O.s and men of that old reserve were treated? Every captain who reached the age of 48 was "axed."

There seemed to be a policy in the Department of Defence within the past few years—whoever was responsible for it, I do not know—of getting rid of the old officers, the old N.C.O.s and the old men, who had built up and handed over to the last Government a very efficient and capable military machine. In America at the moment, because of the world situation, age limits are going by the board. When an appeal was made in this House last year and the year before, and when an appeal was made through the columns of the Press to the Minister not to wipe out these forces, he turned a deaf ear and he proceeded with his plan—I was almost going to say of victimisation—of wiping out that old force to which in the days of the emergency he paid many flowery compliments in this House and elsewhere.

It was incorporated in the first line reserve along with many other units, including the Volunteer reserve.

That is nonsense, and the Deputy knows it.

There is only one reserve now and it is the first line reserve.

There was an effort made to wipe them out. Every officer was compulsorily retired.

That was in eorformity with the regulations.

Who made the regulations?

The Deputy as Minister did.

The regulations were there for a considerable time.

The regulations were made immediately the emergency was over, to get rid of these officers to whom this State owed so much over a long period of years. I was proud to be associated with that body of officers and men over a long period and I regretted very much that they were treated in such a contemptible way by the administration in which Deputy Traynor was Minister for Defence. I do not want this matter to be dealt with on the basis of Party politics.

But you want to have your say.

I am not dealing with it on the basis of Party politics. I would say the same thing irrespective of what Government or Minister did the things I complain about. If I feel that the present Minister is not dealing with matters as they ought to be dealt with, I will criticise him severely. It is my duty to do so and I shall do it.

I regret there was not a little more time taken to consider this problem. I regret very much the then Minister would not be advised by people who had as deep an interest in this country as he had. It is a sad reflection that when the emergency was over those people were marched out of the Army. I have seen the testimonials given to some of the finest officers they had. These set out the period they began service and the date on which they ended and, in the column dealing with comments, was the simple three letter word "nil". That was the tribute paid to officers who had rendered such good service—that three letter word in the column headed "comments".

I sincerely hope there will be nobody on the opposite benches who will have the nerve to attack or criticise the Minister for Defence because on paper there appears to be a reduction in the number of soldiers. I hope every Deputy on the opposite benches who participates in this debate will do so with a sense of responsibility and a feeling of regret that the last Minister for Defence made it so difficult for us to build up the personnel of an army now. Those officers and soldiers to whom I have referred set out to train the Defence Forces during the emergency and they made a fine job of it. It may have been on the directions of the Minister. I do not know. Every year during the emergency—or almost every year—they had what was known as a General Headquarter's inspection. That inspection staff went around every unit in the Army and every year they were back again to the elements of recruit training and the tests of elementary training. There are many people in this House who know something about rifles. There are many people in this House who know that once you learn to use a rifle you forget all about the tests and the elementary training. You know how to shoot. You know how to hit your target. Year after year that inspection staff went out with full ceremonial to put the unfortunate soldiers through these gruelling tests of elementary training.

Does the Deputy wish to give a history of the past eight years or will he confine himself, as is usual on the Estimate, to the 12 months?

I am following in the footsteps of Deputy Traynor. I thought that he would guide me on the right road.

I did not hear Deputy Traynor.

The Deputy may as well blame me for that as he has blamed me for other things.

I would submit with respect that in trying to deal with a matter of defence policy it would be impossible for me to confine my remarks to the administration of the past 12 months. I do not think that could be done.

The Deputy then cannot keep within the laws.

I think it is impossible as far as this debate is concerned.

It has been done.

Probably next year I shall be able to do it.

And possibly this year also from now on.

I think you have been indulgent.

I certainly have.

I quite admit that.

The Deputy will now proceed to deal with the last 12 months.

I can do that. The last 12 months saw a total exodus from the Army. Every man who could get out jumped out. That was due to matters to which I have already referred and due to matters I should like to mention.

I thought I threw them out. You told me that a moment ago.

No. You threw out certain sections. You abolished the reserve who were at home. As far as the ordinary soldier was concerned and the ordinary N.C.O., their whole ambition was to shake the dust of the Defence Forces from their feet.

There is a rule that a Deputy must not repeat himself. I have already heard that twice myself.

It was in answer to Deputy Traynor.

I heard it twice from the Deputy.

I say to the Minister and to the Government that we cannot afford to have these jack-in-the-box discussions on defence, one's attitude to defence depending upon whichever side of the House one sits. We cannot continue in that fashion. The only way in which we can have a sensible approach to the problem is by bringing into existence some machinery under which we can have an agreed defence policy and through which we can organise within our financial limitations.

Deputy Traynor referred to the position as he found it prior to the emergency when the Army was entirely engaged on guard duties. I agree with Deputy Traynor that guard duty is a soul-destroying duty. Guard duty should not be imposed upon a soldier except where it cannot be avoided. Possibly the bulk of these guard duties could be abolished by substituting for them military police or police patrols for posts now controlled by sentries. In that way the soldiers could be made available for training and in that way the bulk of the training could be given before the soldiers are released from actual recruit training. There are many grievances affecting N.C.O.s and men. I thought I might have raised them on this debate but I want to limit myself to the broad aspect of defence policy. I again appeal to all sides of the House to take defence out of Party politics and deal with it on a national basis. We should all contribute whatever we can to the building up of an adequate Defence Force in which every element will receive humane treatment under a system of administration and control which will give us a happy and contented Defence Force.

I welcome the statement made by the Minister. It should go a long way to allay the uneasiness felt by many of my former colleagues as a result of what the Minister very fairly described as malicious rumours sponsored by certain alleged national newspapers in this country. I admire the courage with which the Minister faced the problem of cutting out some of the trimmings of our Defence Estimate.

It is pitiful to find Deputy Traynor now belly-aching about the stopping of recruiting when, in fact, the sequel to the manner in which he disbanded and demobbed and refused to fulfil promises to men who had served him loyally, as the then Minister for Defence, and his Government during the period of the emergency is that we find to-day throughout the length and breath of this country young men eminently suitable in type, form and background to be soldiers of this State flying far from any recruiting office having heard the bitter experience of brother or relative during the period of serving in an emergency Army in this State. I welcome this opportunity of being able to talk in a straightforward way to the new Minister for Defence. I hope to give him in some limited way the benefit of what was my experience under the conditions of an emergency Army. The sooner this country realises that all the promises and all the grandiose speeches made by Deputy Traynor while he was Minister for Defence about all that would be done for the ex-soldier, for the man who had served in the emergency, were so much arrant nonsense and that most of those men to-day find themselves in the British coal-mines or in the British forces the better for us all. I feel sorry for the new Minister for Defence when he envisages his first line reserve and an F.C.A. that are fully trained as a result of emergency activity. He is going to get a rude and sorry awakening, one which was indicated by the short and very small response to second line training last year. He is going to get ruder and ruder awakenings as time goes on which will show him exactly what the morale and what the criterion of the morale in what is left of this Defence Force is.

We will wait and see.

Mr. Collins

All the pomp, nonsense and complete indifference of little potentates is how best might be described the attitude of the late Minister for Defence towards defence. He knows as much about a soldier as, to use a popular expression, a pig does about a holiday. A soldier is a man of blood and brawn, a human person. I appeal to the new Minister that, when he is considering the problem of building up a defence force against the odds that he will have to build it up, he will build it up on the basis of humanity and understanding and not on the basis of glitter and buttons. There is a lot of talk to the effect that now is not the hour to retrench in defence. Red herrings are thrown across the trail by statements in regard to our being menaced by this person or that person. The only serious menace the Army ever suffers from is the menace of red tape and stupid regulations. Such a menace has it become that the problem of recruitment which the new Minister has stopped had virtually stopped itself. One would think that we were back in the old days when one army was going to face another in the field. One would think that, facing the future and the possibility of a future war, we were going to face conditions in which a standing army or any type of army was going to be a guarantee of defence. I do not think that Deputy Traynor is in earnest when he talks about the difference between 8,500 and 9,000 men. He knows, as well as anybody with any reasonable perspective, that the future war will not be a war in which any armed force will be the first line of attack.

I can assure Deputy Traynor that he can allay his fears in regard to this country because never was there an emergency in this country, never was there a national situation to be met but the Irish people had the courage to meet it, and that goes back to an experience that the ex-Minister should well remember himself. I say to the new Minister that it is unfortunate for him that the commitment of this State by way of defence is so large and that he cannot retrench more so as to enable this country to get down to first jobs first. Deputy Traynor, in talking about the Army, described the length of time it took to train a soldier but then he was talking about the red tape copy-book soldier and it was never that type of soldier who stood in Ireland's gap before. We are envisaging dangers that are fantastic. Deputy Traynor should realise, having spent a long period in the office of the Ministry of Defence, that there is a sound hard core of resistance in this country that needs neither tests of elementary training nor any other type of test to bring it manfully to the front in our hour of need. I think that the new Minister is being realistic. We have too much paper nonsense in our Defence Forces. I am quite sure that nobody is going to welcome more readily than the Army itself the fact that the new Minister is going to deal with personnel in existence and not with personnel in embryo. A lot of criticism and a lot of petty politics are made out of this drive to retrench in the Army. I think that what the Minister is trying to do is something that the late administration conceived in no Department. He is trying to make an efficient force out of the existing Defence Force, trying to make them realise that they are the Army of a small country, to do a job on behalf of a small country, and he is not buildnig it up on grandiose schemes such as were envisaged by the last Government.

I have a few suggestions which I would like to make to the Minister. There are certain areas throughout the country in which military posts are now unoccupied. I hope he will be able to recoup his Department and the Exchequer to some extent by either letting or selling barracks or buildings that are no longer in use by the Defence Forces. I hope he will be able to make available in places where there is urgent need, some of the former huts or barracks of the Army to relieve acute housing crises and at the same time reduce expenditure on the Army itself.

Deputy Traynor spoke about guard duties and how onerous they were. They were not only onerous; they were stupid as well, for the reason that whatever kind of scheme of defence the late Minister had, troops sprawled all over the country in small pokey posts. As a result of that dispersal of forces, the duties were all the more onerous. I hope the new Minister will address his mind to the possibility of getting the Army into compact groups for training and thereby obviate the waste arising from sprawling isolated groups around the country thus making the fulfilment of their duties by some sections of the Army almost impossible. It is indeed fortunate that the Ceann Comhairle has indicated that one cannot go very far outside last year's administration of the Army in this debate because there were things simmering in my mind which took five years to accumulate to which I should like to give expression. I want to say to the new Minister for Defence that I, for one, unhesitatingly support the steps he is taking in a direct way to help the people by the retrenchment he is seeking in the Army, without in any way interfering with any existing officer, N.C.O. or man. The retrenchment he is seeking in the Army represents the difference between the megalomania of the last Administration and the sanity of the new one.

Deputy Cowan has asked that this debate on Defence should be above Party politics. I think that Defence should be above Party politics but while the House remains constituted as it is, that is something which we cannot hope to achieve. I am satisfied, despite what Deputy Traynor may think, that the nucleus Army suggested by the Minister will achieve in full the object of our defence plan. I cannot conceive, particularly after the statement of Deputy Traynor that in the emergency we once had an Army of over 40,000, how a standing force of officers, N.C.O.s and men to the number of 8,000, could not enlarge itself at any stage to train as big an Army again. The only difficulty that faces the new Minister is the trail of broken promises, of spurned soldiers and of emigrant soldiers whose services to this country were rewarded in the contumelious way represented by Deputy Traynor's dismissal of all of them. We built up in this State during the period of the emergency a grand force. Go to any man who served in the then L.S.F. and try to encourage him to-day to serve in the new F.C.A. and you will be told in a realistic and sensible way of the thanks he got from the then Minister for Defence for his six years of service. When it was proposed that they might be given a few shillings to enable them to have a disbanding reunion, it was turned down. The Minister did not think it worth his while even to parade the officers or men of that corps at any centre and say to them: "Well done." That is the heritage that faces the new Minister.

He appeared before them personally and thanked them.

All over the country.

Mr. Collins

Do not talk arrant rot. The problem the new Minister is facing is that of making an efficient Army out of a toy one. He is facing the job of undoing all the stupid arrogance of the late Administration, all the pomp and ceremony that, in the return the soldier got, signified nothing. It is unfortunate for the new Minister to have foisted on him the toy creation of the late lunatic Administration, the puppet Navy. I can appreciate his difficulty in not being able to abolish it because the officers, the N.C.O.s and the men have given their lives to that service and we must honour to that extent the stupidity of the last Government. I hope that the Minister will consider the complete inadequacy of our alleged naval strength and that when he ultimately comes to consider the other purpose which the Navy is alleged to serve, that the corvettes will disappear and that proper fishery protection boats will appear. I am very glad to find the Minister paying a tribute to the officers, N.C.O.s and men of the Army to-day and I feel that there will be a reciprocal warmth in the Army when the officers and men realise that what the new Minister is facing is the difficult task of undoing what one might best describe as the complete killing by insidious, invidious means of any morale that might have existed amongst people formerly serving in the Army, some of whom may now be in the first line reserve or the second line reserve. I am sure they will feel that under the new Minister and the new Government they are going to be given a chance to do a soldier's work without the stupidity of the invasion of hordes of General Staff testing out cooks, etc. The Government will proceed without having all the glitter, the pomp and the ceremony that the late junior potentates wanted. I hope that the courage and the straightforwardness of the new Minister will in some way serve in a salutary fashion, at the very beginning of the period of office of this Government, to offset what I will describe in no uncertain way as the betrayal of the men who served this country in an emergency, the betrayal of the promises made to them by the late Administration as to their resettlement in civilian life in the country.

The various voices, which we are now becoming accustomed to hear from the Government Benches, were very evident in the debate to-day. The Minister wound up his statement by paying a tribute to the efficiency of the Army. Deputy Collins has just told us that the Minister's job is to make an efficient Army out of a toy one. We have had impatience displayed by Deputies on the Government Benches when their statements, made without any supporting evidence were contradicted. In the case of Deputy Collins, Deputy Traynor had to contradict him. Deputy Cowan, referring to the statement that this country was menaced by England in 1940, said he did not believe that statement, although it was made by the man who was then Minister for Defence. The Deputy set himself up as an authority who knew all about the inner history of that period as against the then Minister for Defence and refused to believe his statement. Then, in the next breath, we are asked to put this debate above Party politics.

Last year, when the present Minister for Defence was on these benches, his statements on Army policy, if carried to a logical conclusion, undoubtedly meant that we did not need an Army in this country at all. At first sight, his statement to-day appeared to contradict that. But, when one gets down to examine what he did tell us, it is quite apparent that the Government are trying to arrive at the same point by a little longer road than mere abolition of the Army. It is quite certain that, if we stop recruiting, the Army is going to diminish. It will not be long until it is down to its pre-emergency strength and the whole experience of the emergency showed that that was not sufficient for the expansion such as had to be undertaken in 1940.

We have also here a huge reduction under the heading of maintenance. Does that mean that the various barracks are to be allowed to go back into the desperate state of repair in which they were found to be in 1940? We all know the state that Mullingar barracks was in when the Volunteers had to be called up. We all know that it was outrageous to bring respectable young patriots, who had volunteered to help the country in such a period, into the conditions in which they had to exist there until they put them into order themselves. It is at least the duty of the Government to provide that, if an emergency occurs again, some sort of decent conditions will be provided for these men.

We would not put them into the stables in Ballsbridge again.

We are also told that the reserve is not being called up this year on the ground of economy. But surely there is a contract with the reserve that they will not alone get their annual pay, but that they will be called up for a month per year on Army pay. We all know that a number of these men spent their holidays at this training. I say that the contract with those men is being broken in so far as they will not now get that month's Army pay. We have been charged from the opposite benches with breaking contracts. That is one point, at any rate, in which I say a definite State contract has been broken.

Our policy in regard to defence surely ought to be that which the Swedish Premier announced yesterday for his country—"We must make our defence so strong that it will deter bigger Powers from throwing part of our territory into a theatre of war." Surely that would be a fair summary of what we would all like to see as the defence policy in this country. If we allow our big neighbours, who may be our enemies, to think that we have not sufficient trained man power which can be got ready at very short notice, then there is always the danger that our territory will be a theatre of war and very likely the excuse that would be made by these Powers is that we were unable to defend ourselves. Does anyone think that that factor did not count in the last war? Deputy Cowan told us that there never was any danger of an invasion from England. I wonder does he recall the broadcast made by Mr. Winston Churchill at the end of the war and what he stated about his temptations to invade this country? Does the Deputy think that it was for love of us that he did not do so? Was it because he knew that the cost was going to be so much if he attempted it that it was not carried out? That was his mind even after the war. One can guess what his mind was during the war. Yet Deputy Cowan wants us to believe that there never would be any danger.

As I see the policy of the new Minister, he is going to depend in future on a large number of what I think he called semi-trained men. I doubt if they will be even semi-trained. If we are not going to maintain a sufficient army to keep the F.C.A. up to scratch, well then the men in it will not be even semi-trained. Of course, we know that the Minister told us last year that armies nowadays could be turned out like sausages. I will quote what he said from the Dáil debates for the 28th January, 1947, column 450. He said:—

"The recent war and the previous war have shown us that soldiers can be turned out when they are wanted as quickly as sausages can be turned out through a sausage machine."

That was the view of the present Minister for Defence a year ago. Is there anybody here with any knowledge of military affairs, or who thinks seriously about them, who is prepared to take the responsibility deliberately in peace time of asking our young men to be shoved out into a war as sausages are turned out of a machine—to be turned out with insufficient training? I say it is murder for us to do it: it is absolute murder if we have not regard for those young lives by giving them every possible training and protection that they can get. It is our duty to do that for them. Yet the policy announced to-day on the grounds of economy and retrenchment is just that —that we are going to depend on the young men of the country, on their good patriotic spirit, to be turned out to meet anything that may happen with insufficient training. That is the position, because we are not going to leave them the facilities for that training. That is all to be done on the grounds of economy.

I hope that the more responsible members of the House will think more of the lives of our young men than they will of the saving of £750,000. I do not think that even the taxpayers who want the greatest economy want it at the expense of the lives of our young people. I hope that the members on the Government Benches who, we are told, have such freedom of speech, thought and action, will exercise it on this Estimate, and that they will justify the possible losing of hundreds or thousands of lives for the sake of saving £750,000.

I am not going to go into the question of military training. I am inclined to believe that it will suffer as a result of the discussion that has taken place here. I am anxious to get some information about the £46,000 which is earmarked in the Estimate for the Red Cross Society. I take it that this sum is to be paid to some group of people for organising the Red Cross Society and for giving service in the Society. I have some knowledge of the work done by the Red Cross Society in Cork City. Since it was formed there, I know that the group of men and women in it have never received one penny remuneration for their work. I am anxious to hear from the Minister how this money is going to be spent. I suggest that it should be sent to different parts of the country with a view to encouraging those voluntary workers to continue to do the good work that they have been doing. I feel that if we are going to pay people for working in the Red Cross the true spirit of Red Cross work is going to suffer as a result. It is interesting to know that in Cork City, and indeed throughout the county where there are branches of the Red Cross, marvellous work has been done by the Red Cross Society, both nationally and internationally. Yet not one penny has been paid to the people in it for the work they have done.

If it is the desire of the Minister for Defence that any group of people should be paid an annual salary, or part of a salary, for Red Cross work, I do not think that would be in the best interests of the Red Cross Society. I suggest to the Minister that, instead of appointing anybody to a paid position of a permanent character for Red Cross work, this money should, as I have suggested, be distributed in different parts of the country to help to supplement the work that the present members are doing for the Red Cross Society. During the course of his recent visit to Cork City the Minister was shown all the work that is being done by the members of the Red Cross Society and, as I have said, they have not received as much as one penny remuneration for that work.

To-day at Question Time, I asked the Minister about the wages paid to civilians attached to military barracks in different areas. The answer that I received from him was that as far as Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Galway are concerned the rates were those paid to employees recruited under the special scheme for Old I.R.A. men. I am at a loss to understand why there should be a special rate for Old I.R.A. men that is not equal to the rate paid to the ordinary workers in the district. I think it is a poor tribute to the I.R.A. men that civilians attached to barracks should be paid at a lower rate than that paid to workers in a district. That is not a proper recognition of the work that was done by the Old I.R.A. men. I am suggesting to the Minister that these men should at least be paid the rate that prevails for unskilled workers in the area in which they are employed. It may be said that they are not doing the work of builders' labourers. At times they are doing work of a very unpleasant character, and they are a necessary element in the Army in the particular areas in which they are employed. These men should, at least, be paid the minimum rates paid to unskilled workers—apart altogether from the question of the rate paid to builders' labourers. I do not think that this rate for Old I.R.A. men should be so much below the rate paid to unskilled workers in Cork City. I hope the Minister will reconsider the matter. A rate of £3 15s. a week cannot be related to what is being paid to unskilled men in Cork City at the moment.

I should like to see this question of the Army discussed without any kind of Party feeling. I think that a great debt of gratitude is due to our military men for what they did during the emergency. I would like to see that spirit kept alive. I have read complaints from some of those men who were put off. I am inclined to believe that both the outgoing Minister for Defence as well as the present Minister are prepared to give them a decent show. I hope the Minister will give a reasonable explanation about this sum of £46,000. I want to see the spirit of the Red Cross Society being maintained throughout the country as it has been in Cork County and Cork City since the formation of the society.

Major de Valera

Before dealing with this Estimate in the way in which I intend to deal with it, I should like to refer to the matter raised by Deputy Cowan. It is possibly, strictly speaking, outside the Estimate, but it is of some importance—the question of the procedure at courtsmartial. From personal experience I can endorse the objection to a system in which the officer who settles the proceedings also sits as judge advocate. This is not perhaps the best time to go into that matter, but some of us who have seen the system working and who have seen it from a legal point of view as well as from the military have tried to bring it to the attention of authority. Since it has been mentioned here, I think it would be a matter of importance to remedy it. It is a system which apparently has been in the Army from the very beginning, but that should not prevent its being adjusted now.

Coming to the Estimate, I am rather sorry to find that Deputy Collins attempted to misrepresent the whole situation with regard to the history of the Army. I should not have thought that he would have done so, because, as the Minister pointed out in the beginning, the general policy for the Army has been practically accepted and unchanged from the days when the Army was re-organised after the civil war. The difficulties which have arisen have arisen in regard to the implementation of the policy laid down, rather than in regard to the actual defence policy to be followed. The policy to be followed has been pretty clearly defined, as I have said.

The earliest statement of policy I can find, looking back over the reports, is to be found on 6th May, 1926, when a statement in regard to the general task of the Defence Forces was made by the then Minister for Defence. That statement accords with practically every statement of policy made from the Government Benches since, and briefly it is this: in order to cater for the defence of this country, the objectives should be, first, to garrison our own territory and to maintain so far as possible neutrality and to be able to prevent, or at least very seriously to deter, any other Power from trying to occupy the country by force.

The maintenance of neutrality in that sense involves, first, the provision, in time of emergency or war, of an adequate garrison for the territory of the State and, in addition to the mere duty of garrisoning, there must be available sufficient forces to repel diversionary attacks or light attacks, and in any event an ability to offer a resistance sufficient to deter an enemy, having regard to the factors of time and cost in man-power and material. In other words, though one would freely concede that, for a small country such as this, the question of absolute defence against any aggressor might be beyond our powers, it should be within the power of this State to equip and field forces which would be able to compel an intending aggressor to deploy against the country large forces, which would mean a big commitment for him and which would also mean a fairly substantial time factor for him so that he could not occupy us with lightning speed and the cost in time would obviate any advantage of surprise which might accrue to him by occupying us, and, then, that the cost of men and material would be so great for him that he would be deterred from all but the most serious motives from attempting to occupy us. That, I think, must be the basis of our defence policy, and if our forces, such as we can have, are organised with that end in view, it is a relatively simple step to provide for any other commitment in the line of active participation in hostilities or co-operation with any particular Power or adjusting to any particular and given situation. In fact, that general line of policy seems to have been in the long run justified by our experience in the emergency.

If one looks back over the debates during the years since the war terminated, we find that this matter has cropped up again and again. I think that twice last year the tenor of the debate here led me to stress these questions to the people who occupied these benches: are you serious about defence? Do you require an Army, a Defence Force in that sense, to play the rôle which the defence policy agreed upon demands? Do you need an Army for that purpose or do you need merely a police force for the maintenance of internal order? The difference between the two situations was gone into and I merely mention it again now. It now apparently does not arise. We are apparently agreed on the necessity for having an Army here, an Army to implement the defence policy which has been agreed now by three successive Governments. That makes the debate rather more unified than it was on previous occasions and it is on that basis that I shall try to deal with the remainder of the matters in the Estimate.

Firstly this comment might be made. We have had the same policy for well over 20 years prior to the last war. We have had an Army allegedly organised with a view to implementing that policy. We have got safely through the emergency of the last war. It is obvious then that, since we are to continue the same policy for the future, the lessons of the years from 1924 to 1940 should be studied carefully and that, in particular, the sources of weakness which showed themselves when it came to mobilisation in 1939 and 1940 should be eradicated for the future.

During those years prior to the emergency there was room for differences of opinion but now many of these differences will have been solved by the experience of these years. In dealing, therefore, with the defence policy and particularly in approaching the Estimate submitted by the Minister to-day, it is useful to find the lessons of that period and to apply them to the future. In seeking those lessons we shall have to look to the practical steps that were taken and to details of administration rather than to policy. There has been a large amount of talk at various periods in the history of the State regarding an alleged lack of definition of the defence policy. I would like to point out that right from the beginning there has always been a definite statement of policy and that weaknesses in the past have come rather from obstructions in the development of the forces necessary to implement that policy and from difficulties of administration and of providing finance. I think that it is necessary to stress that here to-night because we hear so often this question of a lack of a definite policy. The general policy has been sufficiently defined and it has been a question of implementing it.

For that reason let us have a short review of the figures available in previous years which are of interest. Going back to the year 1925-26 the total strength of the Army was 13,261 and it came down in 1926-27 to 10,535. From that time until the year 1938-39 the strength of the Defence Forces for the purpose of the Estimates—I am taking the figures in the published Estimates for those years—was in the region of 5,000 to 6,000 all ranks. In fact, however, the strength of the regular Army in those years was never, I think, much more than 5,000 and we will say for the sake of argument that it was somewhere around 5,000.

Over the years from 1925 to 1939 the defence of this country was catered for by a regular or permanent force of approximately 5,000 to 6,000 and superimposed upon that force was the reserve. When the reserve was started in 1926-27 the "A" Reserve as it was called was initiated and developed. It was mainly composed of N.C.O.s and men—I will treat the officers' reserve separately—who had served for a considerable period in the regular Army and who could therefore be considered as practically completely trained and whose efficiency was kept up by a system of reporting every year for one month's training. That branch of the reserve was militarily the most efficient and in its attendance at the annual training in the years up to the emergency it gave the highest percentage, a percentage, if my memory serves me, of approximately 80 per cent. That force, again if my memory serves me, never amounted to more than approximately the same strength as the regular Army. You had that reserve on top of a regular Army of somewhere around 5,000 men. These two categories together comprising about 10,000 men were what you might call the trained force. After that you had to rely on reserves of a voluntary type.

The first attempt to raise a supplementary reserve to the "A" reserve was known as the "B" reserve and it was organised on the lines of the militia. The recruits served for three months with the Colours and thereafter were treated in much the same way as the "A" reserve. Some thousands of men were initially recruited into that portion of the reserve. This was discontinued, however, at a later stage owing to the development of another type of voluntary reserve, it being felt in military quarters that it was not calculated to give the material for leaders, although the reserve were first-class men. I had the honour to command some of them myself in my own unit and can testify to their efficiency so when I say that the scheme was dropped I do not want to make any reflections on that type of force. It suffices to say that recruiting for that reserve was stopped and the "B" reserve was merged in the "A" reserve. For annual whole-time training they were treated in practically the same way as the regular reserve and considered to be in the same category. Based on the regular Army of 5,000 men during those years the first line reserve—"A" and "B"—which was kindred in nature to the regular Army, was something over 5,000 during the years just before the war.

Successive Governments apparently came to the conclusion that that force of less than 12,000 men which was available on those figures would not be sufficient for defence in accordance with the policy envisaged by the Government of the day and attempts were made to raise a Volunteer reserve. The first attempt was made by the Cumann na nGaedheal Government in raising a Volunteer reserve together with the O.T.C. The second attempt was made in 1934 in raising the Volunteer force. In those experiments will be found a number of very valuable lessons in regard to the potentialities and practicability of maintaining a reserve of a voluntary nature grafted on to the regular Defence Forces. I would like to anticipate my argument and say that the lesson of those days is this: there is a limit to the size of the voluntary or Volunteer reserve which you can maintain and that limit is imposed by the size of the permanent force which has to provide the cadres and the training personnel for these units. In other words, the lesson of those days is that for every unit of your Volunteer reserve, no matter how perfectly you can train them or how enthusiastic the members are, a certain nucleus of regular personnel is required, and if you set the limit to the numbers of your permanent force you automatically set a limit to the size of the Army you can maintain. It is practically time to report progress, and there is one point which I would make at this stage.

If before the war, it was found practically impossible to maintain efficiently a Volunteer reserve force of only about 10,000 on that cadre of regulars which was there, how do the figures that we are now contemplating stand in regard to the maintenance of what we are told are a second line reserve—which is really equivalent to our old Volunteer reserve—of 48,000? It is the first figure that hits me here to-night.

Does the Deputy accept 48,000 as being actually there?

Major de Valera

Of course, I take the Minister's word for that.

Major de Valera

The Minister has stated that figure and I doubt if it can be maintained on the regular force contemplated. I move to report progress.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again to-morrow.