Agricultural Workers (Holidays) Bill, 1949—Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

When the debate on this Bill was adjourned on Tuesday night I was discussing the Minister's claim that the increased volume of agricultural exports was an indication of the farmer being able to meet this additional charge. I was making the point that if in the present year, or in some future year, those exports fell, was that to be an indication that the farmer was not in a position to meet this additional charge, or even to continue to pay the present statutory minimum wage of £3 a week?

I made it clear at the outset that I was anxious to see the agricultural labourer get a week's holidays, but I am doubly anxious to see that the man who employs him is also in a position to take a week's holidays and to give a week's holidays to the members of his family who work on the farm. I think no one will dispute that they are as well entitled to a week's holidays in the year as any hired labourer. They are at least as skilled as any hired labourer. I claim that they are more skilled. They give more personal attention to the work and are more anxious that it should succeed. To say that, is not to cast any reflection on the agricultural labourer. He belongs to a class that I maintain is more skilled than most other workers in the State, and he is certainly as honest and upright as any other class of worker. I see no reason at all why the man who employs an agricultural labourer should not be in a position to afford to take a holiday himself and to give a holiday to the members of his own family.

We now come to the question, can he afford to take this holiday, could he ever afford to take it? Anyone living in rural Ireland will, I think, agree with me when I say that he could not and cannot, and that, as things are at the moment, he will not be able to do it in the future. How can he get into the position, first of all, of being able to afford a holiday with pay to his labourers, and, secondly, to take a holiday himself? It can only be through the prices which he realises for his produce, the net price he gets after meeting all expenses. Therefore, unless the farmer is guaranteed, first of all, the costs of production and sufficient to guard against the risk of loss in any year, with a small profit for himself, how can he afford to take a holiday?

If anyone is prepared to assert that he is in a position to do that at the moment, he has only to look at the division list on the agricultural costings motion which was discussed here a year ago, and there he will get the answer. Why did the Minister and those behind him, and his enemies across the House, and Labour almost en bloc join forces in the Division Lobby to prevent us putting to the test whether it was possible to work a farm profitably on current prices for agricultural produce where that farm was run completely by hired labour? That was the acid test. If there was any doubt in the minds of the majority of those who voted against that motion that the price we are getting for our produce would not pay the labour, then why should they prevent it from being put to the test?

We had another fairly good example, on the question of milk costings on the farm attached to the Grangegorman Mental Hospital, in the past week as to what it takes to pay hired labourers. I am not conversant with the system of running that farm, but I assume that it is, and has been, run entirely by hired labour. The net result is that it cost 3/1 a gallon to produce milk there in 1948, and the estimate for the past year is 2/10½. If that is so, it is quite clear that the farmer who is producing milk either to supply it to creameries or for sale for human consumption is getting much less than half the cost of production. That, to my mind, is the test that the farmer himself has not a labourer's wage. If he has not, are we not imposing an impossible burden on him if we compel him, by law, to pay something that the work of his agricultural worker will not take out of the land?

Let me reiterate that I do not want to keep down the agricultural labourer or any other class of labourer, but I want to lift the income of the farmer who employs labour, and still more so the man who works his farm entirely with the aid of unpaid family labour.

That hardly comes in on an Agricultural Workers (Holidays) Bill.

Will the Deputy say whether he is going to vote for or against the Bill?

I am not going to vote against the Bill. I do not want to cut down the agricultural labourer, but I want to draw attention to the financial position of the farmer and to his inability to meet this. I want to refer particularly to the case of unpaid family labour. The Minister's estimate of the income from agriculture in the past year is in or about £100,000,000. We have not got the figure of the total national income, but to make a rough guess I suppose it would be in or about £300,000,000 or £400,000,000. If that is the case, then for £1 which the farmer earns the other sections of the community are getting say £2 10s. Od. That does not reveal a healthy state in our national economy.

And would not be statistically correct.

I need not dwell further on that because these figures reveal a very unhealthy state in the economics of the country.

Deputy Dunne objected to the proposal whereby holidays may be arranged between employer and worker, and said it should not be tolerated. He said that the worker should be guaranteed his holidays at the time that other people are taking their holidays which is usually August or September. Just imagine what would happen if the agricultural labourers, their employers and unpaid family labour all took their holidays in the middle of the harvest. What would become of the harvest and who would save it? What would become of the cows, the calves, the pigs and the poultry and so on? Would you not have an impossible position, and would not that situation create dire consequences for everyone in the State? The thing is so ridiculous that, I think, it does not need consideration.

There was another point made, chiefly I think by Deputy Dunne, who I think was joined by Deputy McQuillan. They appeared to represent agricultural employers as heartless individuals who abuse their workers and give them bad housing and bad sleeping accommodation. Deputy McQuillan, in particular, seems to be very keen on that, but I suggest to him that, if he is aware of any instance in which an agricultural employer has his worker sleeping under insanitary conditions or anything approaching them, it is his duty to report the matter to the county medical officer of health, and let him investigate it. If the medical officer finds that the surroundings are bad, let him take action but, at the same time, let him examine the conditions under which the farmer's family is living and compare them with the conditions under which the labourer is living. I resent that idea of farmers being tyrants. Are we to believe, as between employers and employees, that it is a case of sinners on one side and saints on the other? Common sense ought to teach anyone that one person cannot have a monopoly of virtue and another a monopoly of vice.

On the question of the desirability of the State interfering in the relations between the farmer and the agricultural worker, it would be wise to consider the report of the Commission on Vocational Organisation. Nine or ten years ago that commission reported that the case of the agricultural worker was different from that of the industrial worker for this reason: in most cases the agricultural worker had to live in as one of the family and only in rare instances were agricultural workers employed who were living out; the vast majority live in with the family with which they are working and anything in the nature of trying to make hard-and-fast regulations as between them would not be to the benefit of the employer or employee. Living in the same house and eating at the same table, they had a great community of interests and nothing should be done that would interfere with the family relationship which existed between the agricultural employer and his worker. That commission was not biassed in any direction. Therefore, I suggest that serious attention should be given to the recommendations of that commistion on that subject.

Deputy Dunne made the point that the Agricultural Wages Board was not competent to interfere between the agricultural employer and the labourer and should have no say in the matter of the operations of this Bill because, he said, the Agricultural Wages Board was prejudiced against the labourer. I agree with Deputy Dunne that the Agricultural Wages Board is not and never was competent to deal between the farmer and his labourer, but for a different reason. I believe that, owing to the method of selection of the personnel of the board, it was definitely prejudiced against the employer. I am not conversant with the personnel of the board itself, but my experience of the area committees has been that in the selection of members to advise the Agricultural Wages Board there seemed to be one qualification for those selected and that was that they should have no connection with any farmers' organisation in their area. I shall conclude by asking if the Minister can give an assurance that the price of agricultural produce will be increased.

That is outside the scope of this Bill, I am afraid. The Deputy has a motion actually under way dealing with that matter.

I hope the agricultural labourer will get a week's holiday with pay and that his employer will be put in the position to get the same for himself and his family.

The Minister seems to be anxious to know how Deputies will vote. I can tell him that I intend to support this measure. I believe that the farmer and the worker are the greatest assets we have in this country. I believe that the farmer and the agricultural worker should at least get as decent remuneration as any other section of the community. I would, however, point out that there are certain difficulties in that regard. There are certain people who want fresh milk of high quality from healthy cows delivered twice a day and they ask the farmer and the agricultural worker to produce that milk and deliver it at a certain price. If the farmer were in the position of the person who makes lemonade, he could sell his lemonade in a bottle containing a quarter or one-third of a pint at 7d., which works out at about 13/- or 14/-per gallon.

A man can make all the lemonade he likes in one day or one week, store it, and sell it when he likes, whereas the person who produces this very valuable commodity has to produce it fresh and deliver it twice daily while getting nothing like the price that this so-called lemonade, composed of water with gas pumped into it and a little bit of flavouring, can command. I have been long enough in the world to know that it is an unfortunate thing in this and every other country that the people who produce the essential commodities get the lowest possible prices for them. It is only a fool who will go into the production of these essential commodities. Anyone who wants to make money will go into the business of producing luxury goods. There is a difference between the farmer and the producer of luxury goods. I have instanced lemonade to show the difference. If the essential commodity the farmer produces was not produced for even one day grave upset would be caused in the City of Dublin.

Unfortunately, the farmers are not in a position to treat their workers in the same way as can the owners of firms producing luxury goods. I think that position is wrong. Certainly the farmers in County Cork do no begrudge for one moment paying a decent wage to their labourers or giving them decent facilities. They treat the man who reaps and sows the wheat the same as they treat the man who handles it in the mill and who delivers it from door to door. But they are in the difficult position that in many cases they are not able to do what they would like to do. They have the will but they have not got the wherewithal. In the last day or two we have heard what it costs to produce milk on the lands of Grangegorman Mental Hospital. I presume there is a certain amount of unpaid labour on those lands because I understand that it is excellent treatment for mental patients to put them working in the fields now and again.

They must be operating the accounts too.

Deputy Dunne mentioned on the last occasion this measure was before the House that in Dublin, an area which takes in Grangegorman, the agricultural workers have half-days, a week's holidays, Church holidays and bank holidays. To produce a gallon of milk at Grangegorman costs 3/1. Yet the ordinary farmer is expected to and does produce it at 1/2 a gallon. I was rather intrigued with the solicitude of the city Deputies for the welfare of the farmers. No one has a greater regard or respect for the farm worker than I have. I believe he and the farmer are the greatest national assets we have. There is a little bit of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde about those city Deputies who come in here and crawthump about the agricultural worker. In one debate they look for all sorts of things for the agricultural worker. In the next debate they look for cheap food, cheap milk and cheap everything else. That attitude is not consistent. They cannot have it both ways and they need not think for one moment that they are fooling either the agricultural worker or the public.

This is not a debate on the general conditions of agricultural workers. It is a debate on holidays.

I am referring to matters that have already been mentioned in the course of this debate.

I do not think Deputy Dunne referred to the question of Grangegorman milk.

It was mentioned. Deputy Dunne did not refer to it but certain other Deputies did. Certain city Deputies referred to many matters and I would suggest to them that they are very inconsistent in coming in here and saying we should give holidays and better conditions to the agricultural workers to-day when they will come in to-morrow saying we should have cheaper food. The only way in which we can have cheaper food is by cutting down the wages and facilities given to the agricultural worker.

Are they not to have any holidays then?

Holidays will certainly increase the cost of production. That is quite simple to understand for anybody with ordinary intelligence.

At how much would it work out?

That does not matter. It increases the price of a gallon of milk by "x". You can call "x" what you like. I know what I will make it. I would suggest to the city Deputies, including Deputy Captain Cowan, that they have plenty of problems to which to apply themselves in the city. When they have solved those problems they can then come out and speak to the country. Reference was made here to the agricultural workers as being the depressed class. In my experience—I speak for Cork, about which I know something, but I am sure the same applies in Dublin— the depressed classes are the unfortunate typists who work for solicitors for 15/- and 20/- a week and are expected to pay their bus fares and buy their lunches out of it.

That has nothing to do with this.

And it is entirely untrue.

Mention was made of the depressed classes and the agricultural worker was referred to as a depressed class by certain city Deputies.

He is treated like a slave.

But nothing like the slaves in the solicitors' offices in Cork.

The wages of typists have nothing to do with this Bill.

We are in the very fortunate position that the relationship between the farmer and his worker is a friendly one. The farmer and his worker work side by side. They understand one another's problems. I think it was most unfortunate that on this debate on holidays an effort was made to introduce an unchristian atmosphere of class hatred as between the farmer and his worker. That is something to be deplored. Both the farmer and his worker will resent some of the remarks that were made in the course of this debate.

Would the Deputy now introduce some remarks on holidays?

Some city Deputies suggested that a specified period should be laid down during which holidays should be taken. One brilliant suggestion was the month of August. Another was the month of September. Somebody else suggested May. If they had the slightest idea of conditions in rural Ireland they would know that they might as well come here and propose that the shop assistants in Dublin should take their holidays during Christmas week.

It shows a complete misunderstanding of the position in the country. May I cite the example of the postmen? They will not take their holidays in the summer months because they prefer walking around in those months delivering the post. They want their holidays when the snow is on the ground, when it is raining hard or freezing. That is the time they take their holidays. Deputy Dunne and Deputy Cowan do not understand the rural mentality. If they did they would know that what they suggest would not suit the people in rural Ireland. While they are shouting and pretending to speak on their behalf they are doing something against the wishes of the rural workers in Ireland. The natural and the sensible thing, if they know anything about conditions in rural Ireland, would be to let the farmer and the farm worker arrange that matter for themselves. Deputy McQuillan made an outrageous speech. It was scurrilous and full of misrepresentation. It was the most extraordinary speech. I have ever heard from anybody who is supposed to be in a responsible position.

On a point of order. I take it that when Deputy McQuillan was speaking either the Ceann Comhairle or the Leas-Cheann Comhairle was in the Chair. To say that a Deputy made a scurrilous speech is, I submit, not in order.

The word is frequently used in debate here.

There have been certain remarks and certain statements made here that the farmers were all sorts of people—that they were not giving a holiday or increased wages to anybody although they could afford to do so. I want the House to throw their minds back a little bit. Was it possible for the farmer to be generous in regard to holidays or anything else as far as his workers were concerned? I have here a report of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland of a lecture given in 1939. At that time the agricultural wages were 24/- a week.

How much are they to-day?

They were 21/- before that.

A certain inquiry was carried out by Professor Murphy of University College, Cork, on a number of farms on the Golden Vein. The average acreage in the Golden Vein or on the borders was 74 acres. This is the report. The wages were 24/- a week:—

"Charging family labour at the same rate as equivalent hired labour, but making no allowance for interest on capital, and the managerial and risk-taking functions of the farmer, the average ‘surplus' per farm was £23."

On that basis how could farmers pay a decent wage?

This is not a debate on farm wages.

I am replying to a statement made by Deputy McQuillan and Deputy Dunne to the effect that the farmers were the whole-time economic slaves of their workers.

There is at present, in Private Deputies' Time, a discussion on the price of milk in which those statistics were quoted by Deputy P. O'Reilly and others. They cannot be relevant to every debate.

I want to refer now to the figures given by the Minister. I have a great respect for him. I believe he is fundamentally right but only occasionally wrong. He made a good case but he has given figures of increased production to justify his wages—increased agricultural income. I think the Minister was a little bit flamboyant in that in as much as he gave the gross agricultural income instead of the net agricultural income. The gross agricultural income really conveys nothing because, as the Minister and the House know, there were considerable quantities of agricultural fertilisers, machinery, maize and other commodities imported in a certain year and to give the gross agricultural income does not necessarily mean that the farmer is so much better off.

The Deputy is quite mistaken.

While I agree with the Minister in his efforts to improve the lot of the agricultural community generally—and I am with him in seeing that the agricultural worker gets a fair percentage of what is available for him and I am glad that he is getting much more now than he was getting in 1939—I want to point out that he cannot at the same time expect to impose on the agricultural employer a number of charges while the price of the commodity he is selling is falling and the price of his raw material is increasing and the amount of his rates and other fixed charges is increasing.

I just want to mention that point to the Minister and to say that, generally, I am glad that an effort is being made to improve the position of the agricultural worker and that I hope that the city Deputies, in future, will at least be consistent in their remarks.

I would very nearly start my contribution to this measure by saying "God Save Ireland". It is an extraordinary state of circumstances that those leading the company are Deputy P.D. Lehane and Deputy O'Reilly, who is sitting behind me. But when I see Deputy Corry on the other side with the same type of mentality I think I am very wise to be independent, all alone. I am not going into the price of milk in Grangegorman.

Or lemonade.

Or lemonade, for that matter. But if the figures mentioned by Deputy Lehane and Deputy O'Reilly are correct it would seem to me that it is not the cows they are milking in Grangegorman but the ratepayers. It is an extraordinary thing that when the Minister has introduced this measure of justice—because that is all one can call it—for the agricultural workers, we have Deputies damning the measure with hardly discernible praise.

For many years the agricultural worker has been endeavouring and seeking to get a short period of six or seven days' holidays in the year, with pay. It is a very small thing to ask for. Were it not for the development of a trade union, that ensures it in the particular part of the country in which the union operates, the agricultural workers in that area would not have got that measure of justice. But, even when the agricultural workers by trade union organisation in a small section of the country established that, no effort was made by the farmers in the rest of the country, friendly and all as they were, so that their agricultural workers would get the benefit also. Some farmers did it, but they are in a very small minority. It required the Minister to introduce a Bill in this House to make it a statutory obligation on them to give those six days' holidays in the year to agricultural workers and if that Bill had not been brought in, and is not passed, no matter how good the relations are between the agricultural workers and the farmers, the agricultural workers will not get those few holidays in the year.

Of course, it is the height of nonsense when the Bill very properly leaves the period to be decided between the agricultural worker and the farmer, for Deputies to ask: "If all the workers went away in the month of September, what would happen to the harvest?" That is not argument. It is nonsense and nonsense is being advanced here under the guise of argument. I can see these Deputies going down and speaking at farmers' clubs, condemning the Minister for Agriculture for putting this extra impost on them, when he would not give them some increase in the price of milk or in the price of some other commodities they produce. I ask Deputy O'Reilly and Deputy P.D. Lehane, when this measure is passed and passed with the aid of their votes, are they going down to farmers' clubs to condemn the Minister for introducing it?

May I say that I never condemned anything in support of which I voted?

It would be only justice to get an increase in the price of farmer's produce to compensate him for this extra expense.

I have asked how much does this cost? If a farmer employs one agricultural worker, and gives him his holidays in accordance with the Act, how is that going to affect the price of milk? If any Deputy produced any statistics to show that the giving of these holidays with pay is going to interfere to the smallest decimal point of a penny with the cost of production, then there would be some argument to be made. I am not concerned with the matter except from the angle that farming, and I have always said so, is a very important industry in this country. We have other industries in this country too and under other Acts those industries and industrialists are bound to provide holidays with pay for the workers. I do not know that representatives of these industries when the measure was going through this House demanded because of that an increase in their selling prices. I am not concerned with that, but there is one point that struck me as very strange. This is a Parliament which is legislating for the people as a whole and there are Deputies here who represent interests other than those of farming.

If on every occasion that arose, those Deputies got up and advocated their own claims to an increase, I do not think they would be doing the nation's business. If every time some matter of law arose, Deputy Con Lehane, myself or some other legal Deputy made a demand for an increase in our costs, what would be said about it? But on every conceivable debate farmers who are Deputies are availing of this House for the purpose of making claims for an increase in their own remuneration. I do not think that is part of the business of the Dáil. I do not think it is right. I think that a Deputy who is sent in here to represent a constituency is bound to represent that constituency and not his own interests in that constituency. I think farmers who are Deputies ought to realise that just as those who are not farmers. Deputy Lehane speaks about city Deputies What does he mean by a city Deputy? He describes me as a city Deputy. Am I a city Deputy because I represent a city constituency? May I say that I am the son of a worker in County Cavan——

The son of a farmer.

The son of a worker.

The son of a farmer.

I never knew he was a farmer.

They are synonymous.

It is nothing to be ashamed of.

It is nothing to be ashamed of but I certainly would be ashamed of being the son of a farmer who was crying out in the same way as some alleged farmer Deputies are crying out in this country. Conditions for the farmers may be shockingly bad but that is not represented in the prices that are paid for farms when they are put up for auction. I think Deputy Giles knows that the farmers of this country never did as well as they are doing now. I know if I were a sensible man I would be a farmer and not a fool. We have two types of farmer in this country—in fact we have several types. We have the type of farmer whom Deputy O'Reilly knows and he is a very different type from the type Deputy P.D. Lehane knows. They are completely and absolutely different. In one case the main work is done by the farmers' sons and daughters.

Are we discussing holidays or what are we discussing?

I think Deputy Cowan is doing pretty well as regards order. He strays occasionally but he comes back.

That certainly comes badly from Deputy P.D. Lehane. Even in that part of Cavan and Longford that I know very well, where the main work on the farm is done by the farmer's own family, these farmers' sons and daughters do get a few days off now and again. I am glad to say that I see them at the time of an all-Ireland final up here in Dublin for three days——

What proportion of them?

If we had more extensive accommodation in Croke Park we would have more of them.

The Deputy has strayed a bit far now. He had better come back to the subject matter of the debate.

I think, when a measure like this was introduced by the Minister, the first Deputies in the House to praise it and to praise it without the damns that accompanied the particular type of praise it got, should have been the farmer Deputies. They should have said: "We are living in the closest co-operation with our agricultural workers; we are delighted to see a law passed by which each and every one of those workers will be guaranteed a week's holidays in the year; we know there will be no trouble between ourselves and the agricultural workers in regard to the time at which those holidays are going to be taken; we are sorry that, as farmers, we could not have combined and unanimously, with one voice, arranged to give these holidays without putting the Minister to the trouble of introducing a Bill to compel us to give them." That would have been a reasonable and proper attitude, but no matter whether Deputy O'Reilly or Deputy P.D. Lehane or Deputy Corry says he will vote for the Bill or not, the fact will be clear that this little measure of justice, when it is passed, will be passed in spite of those Deputies who say they represent the farmers in this House.

I can see in the near future a substantial change in the machinery of agriculture. I can see developing a situation where seven days' holidays, one week's holidays, will not be acceptable to the organised agricultural workers. That position will come from organisation on the part of the workers themselves, and it will come from the development of agriculture under the Minister, who is anxious to see farming industrialised in this country.

Not industrialised— mechanised.

Well, mechanised. We are just proceeding by steps. The union of which Deputy Dunne is general secretary has done a good day's work in opening up this question of holidays for agricultural workers. The Minister has done a tremendous job in proposing to give statutory sanction to that in this Bill. When the social history of this country is written in the future those things will be considered just as steps on the way and Deputies like Deputy O'Reilly and Deputy P.D. Lehane, whether they call themselves farmers' representatives or not, will and must realise that the time has passed when agricultural workers could be, as they have been, treated as slaves in this country.

At the outset I should like to protest against the winding up remark of the last Deputy. I want to assure him that the agricultural workers in this country were never treated as slaves by the farmers. The agricultural workers have worked side by side with the farmers and as the farmers' conditions improved or disimproved so did the conditions of the agricultural workers all down the years. They had the same basis of livelihood as the farmers who employed them. It must be remembered that 90 per cent. of the farm workers worked on farms where the farmer himself was an ordinary worker. In the 40 years that I can remember they lived on the same basis as the farmer for whom they worked, whether it was a bad one, a middling one or a good one.

People who come from the country and who understand the position must resent remarks such as were made by Deputy Cowan, and Deputy Con Lehane a few days ago, and other Deputies, who do not understand the problem. Nobody will deny that over long periods the standard of farm workers, just as the standard of the farmers for whom they worked, was not as high as might be desired. I can remember quite well the conditions over 40 years and farmers never treated their workers as slaves. There was no such thing at any time. It is an unfair libel on the farming community to say so.

There are different problems in different parts of the country. Probably you have around the cities, where relations between employers and workers are different from what you meet with in the heart of the country, a certain viewpoint, but it is grossly unfair to suggest that there is a deliberate policy on the part of the agricultural community to treat farm workers as slaves. They have always been treated by the farmers as well as they could afford to treat them.

I saw them sleeping over barns—compelled to sleep there.

The Deputy never heard of a hiring fair?

Where they were sleeping it was their preference.

The Deputy is not serious.

There are workers, single men, who have no homes of their own and they may have had accommodation like that, but they lived in comfortable conditions. There may be odd ones who are unfairly treated in the matter of their sleeping accommodation, but that is not the fault of the farmer. Most farmers would prefer to employ married men who live quite convenient to them. Farmers have to employ them sometimes. It is not for choice and it is no advantage to them.

The Minister when he was introducing the Bill was assured of the goodwill of all sides of the House. It is something nobody can object to. I cannot see any difficulty in having it operated. Given goodwill there will be no real difficulty. There is quite a possibility that a good number of farm workers will get fewer holidays under this Bill when it is in operation.

Why do you not vote against the Bill if you think it will do harm?

There will be numbers who will receive fewer holidays in the year. That is quite possible in the matter of staggered holidays and because of the staggered way in which they are paid—the days they do not do any work. I suggest to the Minister that he might improve the Bill as regards the period he allows for broken time due to sickness. I think that eight days are too short a period. A man might be out sick for a month, six weeks, or two months. I think that should not debar him from getting his full number of holidays.

A man might be laid up for two months and the Deputy thinks he should have a holiday before he comes back.

I think no one would object to it.

Put down an amendment. If you do I will consider it favourably.

If the Minister brings in an amendment I will have no objection to it. The eight days seem to me to be too short a period to allow for illness. I do not want to see this Bill a cause of friction between farmers and their workers. I am sure that neither the Minister nor anybody else desires that. This matter about the eight days might be considered by the Minister. The matter of staggered holidays may give rise to a difference of opinion. Possibly the proper thing to do would be to give a man all his holidays at the one time. It would be the simplest way from the farmer's point of view. Otherwise difficulties may arise with men as to whether they got the full number of days or not.

Many men get staggered holidays throughout the year for which they are paid. That happens right through the country. It is not correct to say that men on farms work 365 days and never have a day off with pay. Conditions in the heart of the country are different from what they may be around a city like Dublin where farming is not carried on in the same lines. A man near the city who is not a farmer at all may own very big tracts of land. The less regimentation there is in farming life, between farmers and their workers, the better it will be. Farming is, and always will be, different from industrial life. Nothing that we do here will make farming similar to what industrial life is.

Is this Bill regimentation?

To a certain extent it is.

Are you voting against it?

I said openly that I was voting for it. In connection with the Agricultural Wages Act, or any other Act dealing with agriculture, the less regimentation you have the better. If there is too much of it you can create difficulties and friction. At certain seasons of the year there has to be, in the case of farming, a good deal of give and take. There is that spirit amongst farmers and their workers all the time. They agree to give and take in periods of broken weather and at other difficult times. That position cannot obtain in the case of industrial workers.

I do not agree with some of the reasons which the Minister gave for bringing in this Bill. He gave some figures setting out the increased value of agricultural produce. I would ask him to take note of this, that the farmer is getting no more for his milk and his beet to-day than he was getting three years ago.

Is not production higher?

Production fluctuates according to the season. In respect of milk, beet and wheat, which are three important items of agricultural production, the farmer is getting no more per ton or per gallon than he was getting three years ago under the prices fixed by the Minister's predecessor. Is that not true?

I do not agree with the Minister. As Deputy Lehane of Cork pointed out a moment ago, the farmer's income is no greater now than it was two or three years ago in respect of many items of agricultural production. The farmer that is not engaged in cattle raising, but is engaged in milk production, is paying more wages and more rates now—and his overhead costs are higher—than he was paying a couple of years ago. His costs of production are higher. I think no one can deny that. The Minister may claim that the farmer is getting more for a dropped calf. I make him a present of that. But the farmer who is depending for the main portion of his income on the beet that he grows is getting no more per ton for it than what the Minister's predecessor allowed him. There may be an increase in the tonnage from year to year, but tonnage will go up and down according to the seasons. That depends, mainly, on the seasons, and on the amount of artificial manure that is available, and on some other factors. With Deputy Smith, I want to say that this Party welcomes the Bill, and will do their best to help the Minister to implement it.

In order to put the Minister's mind completely at rest as regards this Bill, I want to say I am supporting it. I believe it is better that the relationship between the farmer and his workers should be governed by statute rather than it should be controlled by conflicts between big organised unions. If we have relations controlled by statute, at least there is a chance that reason and commonsense will prevail. But, if we have the worker controlled and dominated by city men to a great extent, and the farmers' organisations controlled by big employers who may have other interests apart from farming, you can expect nothing but bitter conflict. Therefore, I say it is better that this matter should be settled by statute.

This Bill, in so far as it will need to be enforced—and I think there will not be very great need for the employment of sanctions by the Minister to enforce it—will be enforced by Government inspectors. It is necessary to say this because, when the Minister first assumed office, he pronounced with a great flourish of trumpets that inspectors were to be kept outside the farmer's fence. Under this Bill, a Government inspector will have a right to go on any farm and see how that farm is worked and what are the relations between the farmer and the workers. He can drive his polished car into the farmer's yard, stop some man who is in the act of ringing a pig or cleaning an outhouse, and ask him if he has had his holidays or when he proposes to take them. If he finds out that the man he is speaking to happens to be the farmer, he can ask him if he has any men employed, if he is giving them their holidays, and when and how many.

It is necessary that the lie should be killed once and for all that a farmer is immune from inspection. The Minister has gone through the country announcing that the farmers were a privileged class whose farms no inspector could dare to enter, and that any inspector who would enter upon a farmer's land without the farmer's consent would have to step across the Minister's dead body, or words to that effect. It is satisfactory that this position has been cleared up. From now on people in the towns and cities, who are jealous of the farmer and who think the farmer is specially privileged, will know that the farmer is in the same position as themselves so far as inspectors are concerned. Business men's premises are subject to inspection; factories are subject to inspection. Under this Bill, the farmer will be subject to inspection. I am not objecting to that. We are living in a small country; we are all interdependent upon each other and there is no reason why any section should have the special privilege of being completely immune from inspection. Our only claim — I think the Minister will agree with me in this—is that the regimentation and interference ought to be cut down to the minimum. I think everyone will agree on that. So far as the farmers and their workers are concerned, there ought to be the best relations between them; there ought to be friendship and goodwill and co-operation between them.

Will the Deputy show me what section of the Bill authorises any inspector to enter anywhere?

Section 5 says "the power conferred on the board by Section 17 of the Agricultural Wages Act, 1936, to make orders fixing minimum rates of wages shall extend to the making of orders fixing minimum rates of holiday remuneration and the provisions of that Act relating to orders under that section shall apply accordingly". We all know that the board have the right to go in upon farms and see that their orders are carried out.

The Deputy does not understand what he is reading. I shall explain it to him.

The Minister wants the House to believe that this Bill can be enforced without any officers of the Agricultural Wages Board taking direct action or making an investigation. If that is what the Minister wants to put across the House, he is only trying to deceive himself, but he is not deceiving the House. I have said that it is desirable that good relations should exist and that so far as the farming community are concerned they will cooperate in carrying out the provisions of this Bill and in making it work through goodwill and co-operation between themselves and the workers.

Over a period which those of us who are middle-aged can remember there has been a better standard of living for the working classes generally. The improvement of the standard of living of the agricultural workers, however, has been much greater than the improvement in agricultural prices. We know that the Agricultural Prices Index shows that agricultural prices have increased 150 per cent. since 1911, but agricultural wages have increased 500 per cent. Therefore, so far as there was a gap between the standard of living of the farmer and the worker, that gap has been very much narrowed. As a matter of fact, I think it has been wiped out completely, because the Minister quoted a figure which I think will be accepted by the House without reservation, the figure of the net income of agriculture. I think it was the net income he was referring to. He stated that the net income last year was £100,000,000.

No. That is the estimated agricultural income. There is a slight statistical difference between the net output and the agricultural income.

I understand that. I think that figure will be accepted. So far as I can ascertain, it is reasonably accurate. It looks an enormous amount of money when you take it altogether but, when you realise that there are over 600,000 people gainfully employed in the agricultural industry and you divide £100,000,000 between 600,000 people, you find that each person engaged in the agricultural industry has a yearly income of £166. These are the people who, according to the statistics, are registered as working in agriculture. That has to be divided between them; £100,000,000 is £166 per year for each person, or £3 4s. Od. per week. I want to amplify that by saying that there are a number of people who help on the farm but they are not included in the statistics because they are under age. Now £3 4s. 0d. per week is the average income for each person. We know there are people who have considerably more than that. Since there are people who have more than that there must be a considerable number who have far less. There must be a considerable number who are working for practically next to nothing. They are not agricultural labourers because their wages are controlled by statute. Who are the people, then, who are working for less than the average?

Does the Deputy realise how much he is talking through his hat?

Now we have the expert on hats interrupting.

The Deputy might as well be singing "Yankee Doodle" as quoting the figures he is quoting.

The figures I am quoting are more reliable and accurate than the figures the Minister is in the habit of quoting here, there, and everywhere.

You are quoting my figures, but you have them upside down and inside out.

The Minister cannot take even the mildest criticism from one of his staunchest supporters. I do not think I should be interrupted like this. The Minister yelled at me for two hours last week for advocating a better price for pigs. I did not then interrupt him once notwithstanding the fact that he was out of order all the time he was speaking because he was speaking with his back to the Chair. I would like those Deputies who think barracking is good tactics to listen to what I have to say. I want to deal with this seriously and I cannot do that if there are interruptions.

I have shown that all the abuse heaped upon the unfortunate farmer in this debate has no foundation whatsoever. When one realises how low is the average income of the agricultural community one must realise, too, that the farming community is doing its best to satisfy the just claims of its workers and to deal fairly with them. We are not dealing with the big employers here. We are not dealing with men who drive to work in their own cars and who can sit in their offices all day long. We are not dealing with men who can have paid officials, supervisors, or charge hands to supervise the work for them. We are dealing with ordinary farmers. Each farm is a small unit of production in which the farmer and his men work together. Any attempt on the part of Deputies to sow seeds of mistrust or ill-will for political reasons between these two important sections of the community must be most emphatically condemned.

I believe the greatest tragedy that ever struck the agricultural industry was that in 1922, when agricultural prices collapsed for the first time after the first world war, the agricultural labourers, who were then organised, and the agricultural employers who were also organised, fought between themselves instead of working to secure better conditions for the industry generally. They engaged in a bitter conflict which ruined them both and smashed their organisation and their industry for many years. That continued until the last war broke out. I think we ought to do all we can to improve the goodwill and co-operation between these two important sections of the community. They can do and are doing good work. They will do good work if they are left alone.

This Bill establishes one important principle. Taken in conjunction with the Agricultural Wages Act this Bill places a floor under the conditions of employment and wages of agricultural workers. The State has intervened to place that floor under the wages and conditions of these workers and, because the State has done that, it has taken upon itself the obligation to place a similar floor under the wages of the agricultural employer, that is, the net price that he gets for his produce. No Minister in future can ever get away with the suggestion that farmers' prices must be governed by the law of supply and demand or by some external conditions dictated by vested interests. Because the State has come to the rescue of the agricultural worker the State must stand between the farmer and any injustice imposed upon him from outside by world conditions. Never again can the pig producer, the milk producer and the oat producer be told to go and take a running jump at himself. The day for these competitions is passed. Those days are gone for all time. From now on the Government must take on itself an obligation which it can neither evade nor ignore. I am glad for that reason that this Bill has been introduced. I am glad that there will now be a decent standard of living as compared with other sections of the community. It is not a very high standard and, indeed, it is a poor standard when compared with some sections of the community. But it is at least a minimum standard for the agricultural worker. Progressively the farmer's conditions must be similarly improved. I have only one fault to find with the Bill. It does not go far enough. It is a good thing to give holidays with pay to agricultural workers. What about the farmer's wife? What about the farmer's son and the farmer's daughter? This Bill should also embrace those.

Perhaps the Deputy would draft a suitable amendment.

I do not think we should make a distinction between those who work for wages and those who work without wages. We should deal fairly with both sections. Our aim should be to raise the standard of the whole agricultural community. I have pointed out that certain sections of the agricultural community endure a lower standard than that of the paid agricultural worker. We should try to improve the standard generally.

How can you give an unpaid worker holidays with pay?

That is the easiest thing in the world. That could be done provided one could afford it. Unfortunately the agricultural industry has been carried on in this country for the last 30 years on the labour of the members of the farmer's family. The Minister knows that. It has been carried on on the unpaid labour of his sons and daughters and other members of his family. I am glad that Deputy P.D. Lehane had the courage to suggest that the provisions of this Bill should apply also to employees in solicitors' and lawyers' offices. I do not think the farmers should be singled out as the only persons from whom it is necessary to extract a statutory minimum wage.

The Minister for Agriculture is hardly responsible for solicitors.

The Minister may attempt, when replying to this debate, to question figures I have given. He may attempt to mislead the House to the effect that the income of the farmer is higher than I have stated it to be. Several attempts have been made, as Deputy O'Reilly pointed out, to put this matter to a test by having a fair investigation. The county committee of agriculture, of which I am a member, have asked the Minister to sanction the purchase by that committee of a farm so as to carry out an impartial investigation into costs, but, so far, the Minister has not given his consent to that proposal. Until we have really reliable statistics on costings in every branch of the agricultural industry we shall be running around in circles and we shall have figures which will be disputed by the advocates of one particular section of the community or another. It is desirable that we should have an impartial investigation into farmers' costings once and for all and so end the interminable debates in this House in regard to farmers' income and the income of the agricultural industry. Therefore, I think that having decided to establish a position, below which it will be impossible to lower the paid agricultural workers of this country, it is only right and proper that we should follow the action to its logical conclusion.

On many occasions I have listened to tripe and nonsense being spoken in this House, but I have never heard anything like the speeches which were made by the farmer Deputies to-night. Why not make up their minds whether they are in favour of the Bill or against it? I feel that the proper course would be to impeach the Minister, almost, for wasting time and money bringing in this Bill. As far as I can gather from those who have spoken on behalf of the farmers, the Bill is quite unnecessary; what it is proposed to set out is already given; the Bill is completely unjustified, and it would not be a good thing to try to intrude on the loving farmer and farm labourer with any type of statutory control or anything that would prevent the tender-hearted farmer from looking after his farm labourers. Even the farmer Deputies themselves cannot make up their minds on what exactly they want. It is interesting that, although all of them said so in their speeches, they are going to vote for the measure. Only one Deputy actually commended the Minister for dealing with this matter by statute—Deputy Cogan. He then felt that he had a very facile argument to make a further plea for farmers. But the attitude of the rest of the Deputies who claimed to speak for the farmers has been very simple. They say that so far as farm labourers are concerned the best friend of the farm labourer is the farmer; that on every occasion, whenever it is possible, the farmers increase the wages, reduce the hours, give them days off in the year—they even give them time off to go to race-meetings. I noticed one gap. They did not say that the farmers actually give a week's holidays with pay to their labourers. As far as I can see, judging by the speeches of these Deputies, whatever the farm labourer asks from the farmer will be granted, just merely for the asking. Is that not codology?

There are two particular points involved. Nobody in this House—certainly no one who represents the city constituencies and who speaks on behalf of industrial workers—has a feeling of unfriendliness or antagonism towards the farmers or towards agriculture. But it is about time that the farmers realised that not merely must they try and avoid a sense of antagonism but that they must try and cultivate friendship, and we do not do that by being dishonest with each other. We who come from the cities have never posed in this House as being experts in agriculture. On the whole, I think we have refrained from interfering in a debate where the technical aspects of agriculture were being discussed. We have not taken an arbitrary attitude towards the matters raised by the farmers in regard to prices and conditions although everybody is aware that any improvement in farm prices must ultimately be met by the consumer.

We left it to those whom we thought were competent to judge to try and decide the matter. Everybody knows that it is almost impossible to get two farmer Deputies to agree upon any single matter connected with agriculture, whether it be the technical aspect of agriculture, prices, the type of agriculture this country is engaged in or even the treatment of labourers.

Deputy Lehane and Deputy Allen say that in fact there is no need for legislation to deal with the conditions of farm labourers. Yet Deputy Allen is a member of a Party which, because of the conditions in which they found the farm labourers some years ago, had to impose by statute a floor under the wages of the agricultural labourers. Nevertheless he says there is no need for this measure and that if the farmers are left to themselves they will provide as decent wages as agriculture can provide for the farm labourers.

He says that they will provide holidays and that they will raise their standard of living side by side with that of their own.

I venture to say that there is not one person here who wishes to deny to farmers an opportunity of raising their standard of life. The sooner the farmers themselves and their spokesmen realise that, the more progress we can make. Sometimes men and women have to be driven forward and shaken out of themselves. It is not the first time that an effort made by a wage earner to try and improve his conditions—to try and obtain protection for himself—has been the spur that has driven his employer forward to try and claim what he also, as a human being, is entitled to. I do not claim to represent and to speak for farm labourers although I have had some slight association with their organisation, but when they seek to improve their conditions they do so, not in a sense of antagonism towards farmers, but in the belief that as human beings they have certain elementary rights, and that they would be only too glad if there could be this friendship and understanding that is claimed to exist to-day. It may exist between individual farmers and men. It may exist, possibly, in some restricted areas in the country. However, everybody knows from actual experience over the years—and let us not go back ten or 15 years but over the last half century—that any improvement that has been made in the conditions of farm labourers as a class has been made because of the pressure exercised by these farm labourers themselves and by the general influence of the raising of the general standard in the country.

Go through any farming district where you have a number of farms.

Go into any farming district where you have the bigger and the smaller farms and where, as Deputy Cogan says, you may see one farmer driving around in a luxurious motor car and another farmer trudging along the road. Do you find that the prosperity of the gentleman who is driving around in his car is represented by the difference in wages which he pays as compared with the wages paid by the poorer farmer? Does the well-to-do farmer recognise the value given to him by his farm labourers and out of his prosperity give them something above the minimum wage? We are told repeatedly that that is the case. It has never been borne out in practice yet and I have listened to farmers discussing the matter with farm labourers across the conference table on many occasions.

So far, the farmer Deputies who have spoken on this measure have been completely dishonest in the matter. On the one hand, they say they are voting for the measure, voting to impose a statutory obligation on farmers, and at the same time they explain that it is completely unnecessary to impose any obligation on the farmers at all in this matter. Deputy Cogan says that the statutory regulation of this matter would not have come about as between the farmer and the labourer but for what he calls the "big organisation". It is a very good thing for a lot of people in this country that the big organisation came into the country. Deputy Cogan, of course, was referring to the trade union movement. I have, on occasion, listened to spokesmen of trade unions speaking to farmers across the conference table and expressing the view that if the farmers themselves were not prepared to move forward in a progressive manner and deal, as Deputy Cogan has said, as a collective body with the problems of the industry, with the object of trying to provide for the producers in that industry a higher standard of living, then the farm labourers or the organisation would put pressure on them that would make it impossible for them to avoid a decision and would press them forward whether they liked it or not.

One of the questions to which we must have regard in this measure is that not only is it of benefit to the farm labourers but it can also be a benefit to the great mass of the poorer type of farmers who, as Deputy Cogan says, labour in the same way as the worker and possibly do not enjoy any higher standard of living. The very attempt by the wage earner to improve his conditions must have a very beneficial effect on the conditions of the general mass of the people engaged in agriculture. From that point of view, this Bill should be welcomed by the farmers because it is something that will, in a general way, apart from other advantages, tend to bring about a new outlook among farmers themselves.

Deputy Cogan has also stated that the farm labourer is no more a slave than members of the farmer's own family and that the farmer has passed through a period when he had to contend with very bad conditions. Everybody is aware that farmers have gone through times that we hope they will never see again. All of us would be only too glad to assist and co-operate with them in seeing that those times do not return but we should face the actual position that we know does exist, not only in relation to agriculture but in regard to industry as a whole. I said I have very little experience of agriculture but I have a great deal of experience of employers and I have yet to learn of any occasion where any group of employers of their own volition, without pressure of any kind, out of the increased prosperity that might come from time to time in their business, voluntarily and without pressure, came to their workers and said: "Look here, we have had a better year this year than last year and we think it is only right that you should share in the increased profit." Whether we like it or not, that is not the position. It is because that attitude of mind is not merely peculiar to problems in industry and commerce but is also an attitude to be found amongst farmers —for which I blame neither the farmer nor the industrialist, because it is a product of the system under which we all work—that we have to exert pressure to improve conditions and improve wages, to shorten hours and to provide holidays, and where we have to deal with an industry like agriculture, in which the workers are dispersed all over the country, we are obliged to have recourse to the power of legislation to try to effect what is effected in industry by organisation.

I think the Minister is to be commended on this Bill. While I have criticised the Farmer Deputies for some of the arguments they put forward in regard to the atmosphere in which the Bill has been introduced and the feeling that it is not altogether essential, I think we should give credit to them to the extent that they are prepared to support the passage of the Bill through the Legislature. At the same time, having agreed in principle that we should deal with wages in agriculture by statute—putting a floor under wages, as Deputy Cogan said—we should recognise that conditions in agriculture make somewhat similar regulations necessary when we come to deal with holidays. Quite clearly, whatever we do provide is not being related to the conditions of the most prosperous farmer, in the same way as when we were dealing with wages, the scales of wages were related to the capacity of the poorer farmer.

If we provide a minimum of a week's holidays, those farmers who are in a more prosperous condition than the average farmer may, out of a feeling of goodwill towards their workers, give more than a week, but at least, we will have put in this floor for farm labourers as Deputy Cogan said. I hope that the farmer himself will also see that he takes the same relief from work as we are proposing to provide by legislation for his farm labourer. Very often a man has to be taught a sense of independence, to realise that he is not some kind of beast to work from dark to dawn and that he should have at least as much respect for himself and his workers as he has for the animals on his farm. A man can easily lose that sense of proper understanding and sometimes we may have to restore it to him. I think that in that respect this Bill will be beneficial in bringing about an improvement in the general standard of life in the country.

There are one or two points in the Bill itself to which I should like to make some reference. First of all, I think it is a pity that the Minister in drafting the Bill did not keep somewhat closer to the framework set out in the Holidays (Employees) Act, because it will be found later when the Bill becomes law, that that particular type of drafting would be much easier to apply and would be open to less misunderstandings and difficulties. However, he has departed from it and we must merely follow his example.

We should bear in mind that the object of the Bill is to give holidays, not additional pay, and therefore I think that whatever amendments may be introduced on the Committee Stage in order to try to ensure that the holidays will be taken and that as much preference or option will be taken away from both the farmer and the labourer as possible, they should be sympathetically considered by the Minister. I have had experience of dealing with industrial workers whose sole concern was not to receive the holiday break from work to which they were entitled but to go on working, drawing holiday pay and drawing an additional week's wages for the week they should have been on holiday. It would be most regrettable if we left ourselves open to the same type of abuse in regard to the farm labourer.

I can understand the difficulty in regard to fixing a holiday period. It is true that we have them fixed in regard to industry, but they were fixed by trade union agreement and not laid down in any statute and the attempt to reconcile the holiday period with the legal obligation to give holidays on the termination of 12 months' service seems to create a contradiction it would be almost impossible to solve.

There is a provision that there must be a day's holiday at the end of every two months.

I speak of the granting of a week's holiday within a certain period of the year. It is a difficulty it is almost impossible to reconcile. The other point is that if we contemplate giving a rest we should also see that we take away as far as we can within reason the option of either the employer or the worker so taking those days of rest as to be of no value to the worker. I think it is objectionable that a worker can be given and can elect to take a day here and there. The whole purpose of the holidays is to give the worker, whether a farmer or a wage earner, a complete break from work at least for one period during the year. That is the main thing. I am quite aware that farmers will argue it is not possible to do that. I frankly do not believe that it is impossible.

I remember on one occasion listening to a farmer's representative arguing against the granting of a half-day. He explained his farm was so highly organised and the last second was so well accounted for that it was impossible with the 365 days to take one worker away from his scheduled task without the whole economy of the farm breaking down. I think it is correct to say that if there is this goodwill on the part of farmers there will be no difficulty within the period of a year to grant to the farm labourer a week completely free from work and not to scatter the days over the year so that they will be of no value to the worker and will be only a cause of annoyance to the employer. Even in highly organised undertakings there are workers taking a week's holiday in the month of December, so those things do happen occasionally.

There is one other matter I want to touch upon and that is the question raised here before, a question on which I am still not clear. I refer to the weekly half-holiday. I am not directly taking issue with the Minister as to whether it should be in the Bill or not. We in the cities frankly cannot understand why it is not possible by agreement, by statutory regulation or otherwise for a farm labourer to be granted a minimum of four or five hours off in the week. I have listened to farmers arguing against it and explaining the difficulties and I am still not convinced that it is not a practicable possibility. As to whether they are entitled to it, I do not think any farmer or his representative will argue that a man is not entitled once a week outside of God's day to have a few hours to himself, the same as every other type of worker in the State has.

I know that so far as the workers in the cities are concerned they would have the greatest sympathy and understanding for the suggestion that what they have enjoyed for so many years— that is, a half-day break either to spend with their families, for shopping or for any other purpose—should also be given to the farm labourer. I do not believe any farmer can argue against the right of the worker to have it. I am equally not convinced that by goodwill, and making allowance for the types of farming in different parts of the country and by agreement on each farm, it would not be possible to grant that short period to this class of worker.

Many Deputies objected to the description given when farm labourers were described as a depressed class. I believe they are. The man to-day who is asked to keep a family on £3 or £3 5s. a week—I do not know how he can be anything else but depressed. The proof is that our main worry in the cities is the continuous drift into them of farm labourers who feel that if there is any outlet from the countryside they should take it to get away from conditions that they feel they cannot any longer put up with. Farmer Deputies are not entitled to protest when we say that these workers are in a depressed class. Many of the farmers themselves are a depressed class. The farmers are not all in the same group. They do not all come up in luxurious American motor cars to the city. They do not all have big bank balances and they do not all invest in industry.

There is as great a gap between the poor farmer and the wealthy farmer as there is between the farm labourer and the wealthy farmer and when we make this criticism about a depressed class and about slaves I do not think the farmer Deputies should feel we are saying things that are unjust and that are inspired by antagonism. There are conditions in this country that we all regret and that we hope we are getting away from and we are all prepared to co-operate in the effort to get rid of those conditions. But we will not get anywhere by shutting our eyes to the fact that we have 85,000 permanent farm labourers and 50,000 casual workers. That means that one-third of the total wage-earning class in agriculture is depending upon casual employment. How else could we have anything but depression in that group?

That is the situation facing us. To what extent the Minister has made an improvement in that situation I will leave to others more competent to judge. But I hope we are getting away from the old, bad conditions and I hope we will not get it by expressions of goodwill and by the feeling that this matter can be left entirely to the desire of the farmer to improve the conditions of his labourer. There are bigger things than the farmer's goodwill and one is the economic condition under which the people work. We suggest that the wage earner in agriculture should be given some protection. He has the least security of any section in the community. If we can spur on the farmer to give his worker better conditions and better wages, that will be all to the good. I move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned.