I do not think probably since the great and terrible Treaty Debates there has been a debate in this House of greater seriousness than that which is now taking place. Certainly, in its implications for the country, I do not think even that debate could have more far reaching consequences than the decision which we are now discussing—I shall not say "we are now taking" because the point I hope to establish is that we have no powers of decision on this matter, good, bad or indifferent. It is not unusual to be in a Parliament in which the Opposition have little power to decide anything, but it must be unique to take part in a debate in which neither Opposition nor Government can take any final decision in the great and terribly important subject which is being debated, the question of joining the Common Market.
It happens occasionally that the Taoiseach is transparently frank—I shall not use the word "honest"— with the House and with the people of the country generally. It happens so occasionally that I think it is well worth putting on record when it does happen. It has most certainly occurred in this matter of the Common Market. Repeatedly, on being asked about our joining the Common Market, the Taoiseach has made it clear that it depends completely on the decision which the British Government take in regard to joining the Common Market. I do not think I am misrepresenting him in that statement. He has repeated it on the numerous occasions on which questions were asked in this House, right up to a couple of weeks ago when he said no White Paper could be published, or should be published and that no decision should be taken. He has reiterated that statement again in the expanded statement to the House he has just finished.
There are many sides to this question of the Common Market, industrially, politically, nationally, historically. Those of us who followed just after the Taoiseach's generation have had to sit and listen for the best part of 40 years on and off—some of us for less—to the reiterated panegyrics, the repeated debates and discussions, the repetitions, the arguments, the analyses, the narcissistic admiration of the many things which have taken place and in which that generation has taken part over the last 40 years—all because of their moment of greatness, because in 1916 or 1922 they took a particular stand for the foundation of an independent Irish Republic and the creation of an independent system even in the truncated part of Ireland.
The Taoiseach is now the spokesman for this great organisation, the Fianna Fáil Party, whose leaders took such a prominent part in that struggle. I draw attention to that reiterated declaration by the Taoiseach about our now absolute dependence on British decisions in relation to this most important decision in the life of our nation. Our position is now one of abject dependence on Great Britain, the House of Commons and, ultimately, Mr. Macmillan. We are now once again back sheltering under the battlements of the British House of Commons and British institutions. There can be no doubt about that by anybody—no question on that matter by anybody in this House. I think that must be established.
Therefore, this discussion is likely to have as much impact on the future of Ireland, our future welfare, prosperity, destitution, pauperisation or even commitment to war—this House has about as much information and say in the taking of that most important decision as the merest university debating society or technical students' discussion. Power no longer rests with this House. We have as much say in this matter, the Taoiseach, the Government and, of course, the Opposition have as much say in this matter as the Welsh people or the Scottish people have in their affairs or our fellow Irishmen in Northern Ireland have in their puppet Parliament. We are yet another puppet here.
The Taoiseach cannot be allowed to get away with the idea in this debate that we must forget all past wrongs and let bygones be bygones; that we should come in here and discuss this as if there were no great struggle, as if there were no Civil War, as if young men did not give up their lives for an ideal, as if young men did not fight for the establishment of a free, independent society. This is what they fought the Black and Tans and the British Forces for, so that in 1961 the Taoiseach could tell us here again and again that the decision which is to be taken within the next few months and which affects the lives of every single one of us—the trade union, the consumer, the housewife, each family and its children, our welfare, our livelihood and our future—is one which must be taken first by the British Tory Government and the British House of Commons. As we said: "We have taken steps to inform the Commission that in the event of the United Kingdom applying we will also apply."
A short while ago Deputy Blowick asked the Taoiseach: why could we not do the manly thing and take a decision to go in independently. Would Britain mind? Should it matter whether Britain minds? Surely it was the intention to establish an independent society, an independent Parliament. We have power to seek admission as the Rome Treaty says every European State has the right to. The Taoiseach says if we had taken this decision two years ago Britain would have treated it as a hostile act. The Taoiseach does not want to annoy them. He does not want to talk out of turn or to take any decision without referring it to the British House of Commons. Therefore we waited until it would not be a hostile act any more, until we had the consent of the British Parliament; then we go along and apply for admission subject to the proviso that the United Kingdom also make their application.
When I interjected "You had to ask their permission" the Taoiseach, having had time to think about it, I suppose, the last few times I asked him that—he was not so quick the first time—said something about my latter-day Republicanism. One of the things that has bedevilled the whole life of this country and for which the whole of our people have suffered so severely is this fact that his generation believed in shibboleths and catch phrases without any meaning. Yes, I am a Republican. I am a Socialist Republican as James Connolly was. However, when I say that, I am not concerned with achieving what the Taoiseach seems to be concerned with achieving in his Republicanism, green, white and yellow instead of red, white and blue, green pillar boxes and green omnibuses, a million of the best of our people out on their ears, living in the slums, working in the mines and the pits, cooley labour for Britain. That is the difference between the things in which I believe and the things in which the Taoiseach believes.
I am not concerned with this question of British, Irish, French, Belgian or any country's other domination or position in European society. I am concerned with the practical implications of being subject to British decisions, with the results or consequences of being subject to British dictation in relation to this most important matter. There is the practical consideration in this subservience to British decisions, that there is a conflict between British interests and Irish interests. Ireland is mainly an agricultural country, primarily agricultural in its exports, as the Taoiseach said. He must have found it very difficult to have said it; the benefits in this will flow to agriculture; the difficulties will be found on the industrial side. Of course, he is right because of the futile nature of the industries he has created in the past 30 years and, in spite of his attempts to keep agriculture in a state of stagnation with rural depopulation and all the evil consequences, agriculture is likely to benefit.
We are primarily an agricultural produce exporting country. We want the best possible prices for agricultural produce. Britain wants the cheapest possible end product in the agricultural industry. Clearly, therefore, there is a basic conflict of interest. That is one of the reasons I believe it is wrong we should be so completely subservient as we appear to be to the British decision. I am not interested in petty-minded chauvinism, nationalism or anything else. I leave that to the Taoiseach, to his generation and his colleagues. Goodness knows we suffered enough from it.
There is the second consideration, that the British in their negotiations are faced with a problem of fantastic complexity. It is absurd that our decision should depend on the outcome of the considerations involved in the new relationship between Britain and the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth's relationship with the European community, if that is possible.
We are tied to this British decision at a time when Britain is going through one of the worst, or what is likely to be one of the worst, economic crises of its history. I suppose everybody accepts that devaluation is more than likely during the coming year. Certainly a period of great economic difficulties and stringencies is in store for Britain. Defections in the Commonwealth are being signalled all the time. New Zealand and Ghana have made it appear that they are going to take independent action; consequently the position for Britain is becoming more complicated. Her industry is not competitive; she is frightened of going into Europe. Clearly all these decisions will affect the British economy; I am not criticising them for adopting measures to safeguard their economy beyond saying that in the taking of our decisions we should not be completely dependent as we are now on British efforts to disentangle themselves from the difficulties which face them.
First of all, we object to the fact that apparently there is no alternative to the Common Market and that we are depending on Britain to decide whether or not we should join the Common Market. We do not appear to have any freedom of action on the question of joining the Common Market. As I have said, we are like Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland; we are waiting for the outcome of the British negotiations with the Commonwealth. We object to that position, that an independent, or so-called independent, sovereign State should find itself in that position as a result of the deliberate and conscious mishandling of our affairs by the Taoiseach and his colleagues, certainly for the past 20 or 30 years. There is no doubt that that charge can be proved to the hilt. That we should be faced with this dilemma arises from the fact that if we mean to go into the Common Market, we should be so ill-prepared for that decision. That again is the end-product of our ill-preparedness, the end-product of the foolish, stupid mishandling of our affairs for 40 years.
I was fascinated listening to some Deputies, Deputy Booth in particular, who appeared honestly to believe that this whole question of our joining and of the conditions under which we would join, was a matter open for discussion and debate and that eventually we would be given a treaty here which we could accept or reject. That is not the situation at all. We form more or less one of the junior partners in an international take-over operation. The senior partners will see that they retain control. So far as taking an active part in the future of the Common Market is concerned, the attitude of these Deputies is completely unrealistic. There is no likelihood of that happening at all as a simple reference to the voting conditions will show: France 47, Belgium 4, Luxembourg 4 and, I have no doubt, Ireland 4. All the decisions are loaded against us.
This is certainly a long way from the nationalism of 1916 and 1922, from the Irish Irelander's view in 1916 and 1922 or the Sinn Féin view of 1916 to 1922. The Taoiseach dismissed all these as irrelevant shibboleths, dreams or nightmares—which I suppose they must be to him now—which have no relevance to modern conditions. I think that the Taoiseach, more than anybody else, should take complete credit for steering us into this particular cul-de-sac, this dilemma, which allows us no decision, which allows us neither a right turn nor a left, which leaves us debating an issue which we cannot decide but dependent on the haphazard whim of the British as to whether they will accept the disintegration of their Commonwealth or not. On that decision rests our decision.
I am not myself completely certain; I do not feel it is possible to be dogmatic or to say with any certainty what will be the likely results of our joining but it must be clear that the repercussions on industry will be very far-reaching indeed. There is no doubt that the Taoiseach is whistling past the graveyard when he uses the wonderful phrase here: "There is no reason why industry should not be made competitive by rationalisation". If that is true to-day, why was it not true last year, five years ago or ten years ago or on any of the occasions when the Taoiseach came in here and promised a review of the whole protective system for our industries?
All the time apparently there was a simple solution to this system of protection, the solution of rationalisation, whatever that means. If he had said "nationalisation" he might have said something of importance but rationalisation! I am not sure what that is intended to be but apparently it is the Taoiseach's nostrum for the many-headed monster which he created himself, starting in 1922. That is his so-called industrial arm. There were the industries created in order to retrieve the promise and the dream of the then Taoiseach to create an industrial arm which would so gobble up the unemployed that we would have to send ships out to bring back the emigrants to keep this insatiable monster satisfied.
We know what happened. The industries were established under tariff protection. Many of them were subsidiaries of British companies. The British parent companies took the opportunity—I am not blaming them for it—to establish subsidiaries here on condition there would be no competition from outside and, equally, on condition that there would be no competition at home and no competition in Britain from the subsidiary British company. Not only did they devise this wonderful system of protection against competition in Great Britain and elsewhere but they set up the racket now known as restrictive trade practices which prevented competition from even one another at home. This industrial monster—there were a few exceptions; there are a few exceptions in every society—inefficient, lacking in initiative, lacking in dynamism, living in a structure in which it was absolutely unnecessary to plough back capital, has battened on the situation ever since.
Automation and mechanisation have passed us by. The majority of our industries employ 50 people, or under, and most of the employees are little girls. Our best workers are working in Liverpool and London and Manchester. These are the industries the Taoiseach has spent the last 30 years in building up and which he now tells us will cause serious problems in our Irish economy if the Rome Treaty is implemented. He can say that again. Not 5 per cent. will be able to stand up to the Germans, the French, the Belgians, the Italians, or the British parent companies. The British will not keep these subsidiaries on. They kept them on in the past because they made money out of them. When protection goes these subsidiaries will become an unnecessary, costly appendix to the parent company in Britain.
The British will no longer have a privileged trading position here under the Rome Treaty. They owe us nothing. There is no reason in the world why they should keep on these subsidiary companies. These subsidiaries are so backward, so inefficient, so underdeveloped, so ill-equipped, so lacking in marketing ability, that they have no hope of competing, putting it at its worst, as it is its worst, with British industry.
British industry today is probably one of the most inefficient industrial arms in the world. They are waking up to that fact. They are being uncovered now. They have lost their colonies. They have lost their cheap labour, their cheap raw material and their protected markets. They are on their own and private enterprise is seen not to work, after all, and apparently Tory freedom does not do. But I am not concerned with them. I am concerned with us. I am concerned with our country. In answer to Deputy Corish the Taoiseach said it would be possible to make our industries competitive by this process of rationalisation. If that is so, then in Heaven's name what have we been waiting for for 30 years? Why was the secret kept? Why was it kept from the people? Who does the Taoiseach think he is fooling? How long does he think he can go on fooling the people?
This was the industrial arm which was to gobble up all our unemployed. We read with shame and nausea about the conditions in which our Irish boys and girls are living in another country, uneducated and untrained. We send them out to these big cities in Great Britain unequipped. Why? Because the industrial arm failed to absorb them. But that was not the whole reason. We could not give them a living here. What have we today? Broken homes, broken families, young boys and girls thrown on the streets of London, uneducated, untrained, rural depopulation, houses closed, and whole families gone. But none of these was a good enough reason for the Taoiseach to pull the rabbit of rationalisation out of the hat. What is the result? The Taoiseach is being geared into a decision now by the decision of the House of Commons, the decision of the British Prime Minister, Mr. Macmillan. He decides for Belfast, for Edinburgh and for Cardiff. He will decide now for Dublin. So much for our independence.
You cannot blame my generation for asking what all this 1916 and 1922 was about? What were you fighting about? What were you fighting for? Why did you kill one another? Why did you imprison one another? What was the objective of this whole movement when, 40 years later, you are sitting here waiting for a dispatch from Whitehall before you will guide the country's footsteps in one direction or another? What a repudiation of an ideal! Not only have you failed to establish a viable dynamic industrial arm but you have denied the best of our young people the right to live and work here, neglected the care of our sick, neglected the care of our aged. Could there be a longer litany of blunder after blunder on the part of an independent Government acting in a so-called independent society?
The Taoiseach now asks for pity. He led us into this situation himself. I am glad we have come to an end of that era, that fiction of freedom, the end of the old catch-cries. The Taoiseach sneered at me for my catch-cries. Could I remind him of some of his own catch-cries? Does he remember about "twisting John Bull's tail"? Does he remember about "breaking the link with Britain", "breaking the connection with England", "boycotting British goods", "England's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity"? These are sad spectres on the historical screen that, no doubt, the Taoiseach would be too short-sighted to recognise now if he were to see them.
Then there is the pathetic admission that agriculture is going to gain from this European Community. He is quite right there. Bad and all as it is, derelict and all as it is, it is likely to gain but no thanks to the Taoiseach or to any action that he has taken during the time in which he has had power to make decisions in Government. We have seen a remarkable situation in agriculture taking place. We have seen the situation where automation or mechanisation has taken place in the agricultural industry. Virtually, that is true. There has been a remarkable modernisation in Irish agriculture in the last 30 to 40 years but the purpose has been, not to increase production, not to increase the national wealth in order to create jobs for boys and girls on the land and wealth to look after our old, sick and so on; mechanisation has been used for the simple purpose of displacing men and women from the land and continuing to produce just as much with the machines as heretofore had been produced by men and women.
Instead of using the wonderful advances, mechanical, scientific and engineering, of one kind and another, so to increase our agricultural production that we would be in a position to offer all these boons to our people, to retain a living society in rural Ireland, to provide jobs for young people, to provide food in plenty for those who need it and a surplus for export, to create the wealth we want to make for a prosperous and socially just society, we have imported machines and exported men and women. The bright hope for the Taoiseach now— agriculture; the Common Market prospect—agriculture—even it is undeniably stagnant and completely unnecessarily so but, again, as a result of Government failure over 30 or 40 years.
That is the kind of suppliant that is going to ask the Commission in Brussels to re-write the Rome Treaty in order to make up for our own stupidity, 40 years of it, our blunders, 40 years of them.
I was interested to read one day that a spokesman for the French Government was talking about the possibility of the British entering the Common Market. Somebody said to him that the British were thinking of going in, that they were finding it difficult and would like some amendments of the Rome Treaty—rather like the Taoiseach. Speaking off the record, he said, "If Britain thinks we are going to re-write the Rome Treaty to suit them, they can go to Hell". I believe as far as the Taoiseach is concerned, if he thinks they are going to re-write the Rome Treaty in order to cover up the defects and deficiencies of his own thinking and policy making and those of his colleagues over the last 30 years, then he is going to get a big surprise. They do not want us particularly. We are not needed in Europe. We are completely unnecessary to their prosperity.
This is not a benevolent association. This has not got the aspirations of a socialist society where they are interested in common humanity, whether it is Irish, French, Belgian, Japanese, German, black, yellow or white, or whatever it is. This is a combination of the old capitalist competitive idea. This, everybody recognises, is a last ditch stand for European capitalists. They know their backs are to the wall. This is the old "hang together or, if we do not, we will hang separately" philosophy. That is all it is. Everybody knows that. Every intelligent industrialist or businessman who read his Marx knows quite well what this is. This is the last stage, the pre-socialist stage, in European society. This business of take-over bids is all part of the inevitable historical development in industry under private enterprise where one merges with the other and eventually there is the creation of cartels and monopolies, the aggregation of all these small industries into one large industry, facilitating the final socialist take-over, which is, of course, why I am quite satisfied, in some ways, taking the long view. I am not quite content, not quite so happy, about the immediate prospects because of the fact, as I said when I opened, that we are going into this association as suppliants. We are going in as beggars. We are going in empty-handed. We are going in worse than that—broken down hacks. We have nothing to offer.
They can make any terms they like. We cannot lay down conditions. We are not in a position to lay down conditions. Britain cannot lay down conditions. If Britain cannot do it, we most certainly cannot. I say, from the short run view, I am very perturbed indeed. I am not concerned with the Taoiseach's worries or the Government's worries but I am concerned about the impact on our people as a whole and those, I think, will be very serious indeed.
As Deputy Booth pointed out, the close-down of the Belgian coalmines was an essential decision of the coalmines organisation for purposes of economy but there were a whole lot of miners thrown out of work and it was not much consolation to them to know they could get work in Turin or Glasgow or the South of France or some other country. There are human questions involved in the movement of population, which the Taoiseach is so delighted to know about, that workers can move to any country they want to. They might not want to move to any other country. They might be quite happy where they are, like most of us are. They might not want to emigrate. But, this whole thing will be decided for us in Brussels, Rome or somewhere like that and the workers affected will have no say in that decision.
It seems to me the short-term likelihood is considerable unemployment in our small State. I have no doubt that does not concern the Taoiseach or the Government very much because it merely means that the excellent service to Liverpool will be rather overstrained for a couple of years while the young men and women get out and get jobs in Hamburg, Brussels, London or Liverpool and that we will then settle down to an even smaller population. Having lost 1,000,000 in 40 years, there is nothing to prevent us losing another half million in the next ten or 15 years. That seems to be no problem whatever to the Taoiseach.
It seems to me that, having faced and failed to master the problem of Government during his period of office, the Taoiseach is greatly relieved and looks forward to the day when he can share the burden of governing Ireland with the Italians, the French, the Germans, the British and the Belgians and that he can lay the blame somewhere else if industries have been closed down as Belgium and other countries can do. No doubt the Breton farmers will be told "That is the price. You will take it or leave it." Our farmers will probably be told the same thing. It seems to me that the Taoiseach leaves us with no alternative in the present situation. There is no other road open to us.
I should like to have seen economic development in Ireland on the lines of the co-operative movement in agriculture and public ownership in the industrial sector and the creation of an international marketing system, bearing in mind the fact that there are a number of countries emerging from colonialism and imperialism with goodwill towards Ireland—the non-committed countries in the best sense—India, the African countries and the Middle Eastern Countries and that we could have and should have developed trade with these countries. The wonderful thing about a country the size of India, Ghana or Nigeria is that half of one per cent. of the trading rights with such a country would mean a tremendous amount to a relatively tiny country such as ours. It appears that socialist Sweden is the only country likely to be in a position to take an independent stand.
There is a matter which the Taoiseach professed to deal with but which he did not deal with at all, that is, the political implications of this federation of Europe. The general platitude which would seem to cover the political aim of the movement is to try to establish an ever closer union among European peoples and to "unite in defence of peace and unity." I suppose it could be that the political implications of joining the Common Market might be the most important of all. For a period at the United Nations we took up a genuinely politically uncommitted stand. Then, shortly after the appointment of Mr. Boland as President of the Organisation, I believe our position deteriorated and we became pro-British and pro-American and we certainly were no longer uncommitted.
Since that time I believe we have ostensibly retained the non-committed stand, but in fact we are not neutral in the true sense of the word. I think we should be neutral. I have opposed as long as I can remember any likelihood or any possibility of any association, good, bad or indifferent, with the N.A.T.O. alliance, the military alliance in Europe. I do not think we have any right to enter into any undertaking or any association, tacit, overt or covert in regard to the N.A.T.O. alliance. The Common Market, with all its implications in regard to a great United States of Europe, which in theory could be a wonderful thing, but which would be dominated by Adenauer, backed up by de Gaulle, clearly would be a grouping to which it would be most dangerous indeed to belong. Chancellor Adenauer clearly has ambitions to recover the rest of his German territory, as he calls it, the German boundaries on the Oder-Neisse line. They intend to recover them. It is anybody's guess what are the ambitions of de Gaulle, the frustrated Napoleon, whose anxiety is to re-establish the greatness of his effete and decadent France. We should think very carefully before we have any such association.
It is only 20 years ago now since our country opted out of the Second Great War against Nazism and Fascism. History will judge whether we were right or wrong on that occasion. I think the general position was that there was a united front among all politicians to stay out of that war. They did so because they felt the people wanted to remain uncommitted even in those rather appalling circumstances. I think the position is still the same. I think the people do not want any military alliances. As I said, if there are any tacit, overt or covert agreements which might lead to military commitments of any kind, other than the pacific United Nations' ones, if there is the slightest hint of any such associations, the people should be told about it.
The Taoiseach made one statement —he may not have meant to imply this —which seemed to suggest that there might be changes in the organisation or the machinery of governments of the Common Market sometime after our going into it. I do not know what he meant by that. I would like to know whether he meant we might be committed to any military or political undertakings with which we might not be in agreement.
Everybody in this House, I have no doubt, is very happy—I have heard very little discussion on the political side—about the fact that we are going into a declaredly conservative right wing consort of nations. It pleases everybody here because they are all conservatives; they are all right wing. However, should there be political decisions to be taken and we survive a démarche by Adenauer of Western Germany on Eastern Germany, it might be worth a thought that the dominating powers are France, Italy and Germany and that in France and in Italy, in particular, there are very strong Communist parties. You might be laughing on the other side of your faces, should we survive the Berlin and other crises, if the Common Market and its political decisions become dominated by the decisions of a Communist Italian Government or a Communist French Government or both together.
If the Taoiseach knows of any such commitments now is the time to tell us about them. He is quite right to say that we would be given a voice in the decisions of this Common Market in the future, but it is only a voice, certainly not a say in these decisions. We do not want to be tied to Adenauer's tail if he goes marching into Eastern Germany. I do not think the people want to fight for anybody's cause, particularly those of the central Europeans, and that should be made quite clear.
Seeing that we are one of the most backward nations in Europe on the social side, there is a little hope in the fact that we will get equalisation upwards of economic and working conditions. We might even have a welfare state imposed on us. That would be a right laugh on us if we were ordered by Brussels to create a welfare state, to provide free no-means-test health services, free education, scholarships to the University and so on. It is a wonderful thought and is one of the aspects of this Common Market proposition which tends to give me a little comfort. The prospect of equal pay for men and women is a magnificent conception.
I wonder what our views on it are or what they are going to be? It is possible that all the ambitions and hopes of the Common Market would be realised and that this wonderful disease of full employment which we never seem to be able to catch may spread around the European community. We might go down with it. I hope that is true but it would be wrong to think that the institution of a federal system was necessarily going to create that situation, a welfare society with full employment, and so on. We have the position of many federally organised societies in which they do not have this, particularly the United States of America, where they are in the throes of one of their impending depressions and a very high level of unemployment.
The great barrier between us and a socially just and prosperous society here in Ireland or in an international organisation such as the Common. Market is that we are a competitive society. We are not a co-operative society. We believe in private enterprise and capitalism instead of socialism and collaboration. Because of our belief in private enterprise and capitalism in the past 30 years we have failed miserably. That is why we are going cap in hand to Britain and then to Brussels asking for permission to join on our conditions because we are so backward and so hard up. The Taoiseach should be ashamed of himself and his colleagues should be ashamed of themselves because of the situation they have created after 30 years of blundering policies.