SEANAD IN COMMITTEE. - RAILWAYS BILL, 1924. THIRD STAGE (RESUMED).
(1) For enabling a railway company to effect alterations, extensions, and improvements of existing works in pursuance of an order of the railway tribunal or of the Minister, the Minister may, after compliance with the provisions of this section, authorise the railway company to acquire the land and easements and to construct the works necessary to effect the alterations, extensions, and improvements aforesaid.
(2) Before an order is made under this section the railway company shall deposit with the Minister such plans, specifications, and other documents as shall be required by the Minister, and after the deposit of such documents the Minister shall give public notice, in such manner as he may consider best adapted for informing persons likely to be affected by the order, of his intention to consider the making thereof and of the manner in which and the time within which representations and objections in respect of the order may be made and shall, if he shall consider it expedient so to do, cause a public inquiry to be held in regard to any matter relating to the making of such order.
(3) An order made under this section may—
(a) incorporate the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919, with the modification that the expression "public authority" shall include the said railway company, and
(b) the Lands Clauses Acts, so far as the same are not inconsistent with the said Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919.
(4) No order shall be made under this section in respect of any matter which the Minister is of opinion, as a result of representations made to him or the report of the person holding a public inquiry, or otherwise, is of such a character or magnitude that it ought not to be proceeded with without the authority of the Oireachtas obtained by way of Private Bill.
Section 59, sub-section (2). Immediately after the word "notice" in line 34 to insert the words "and have the same served on all persons interested."
With reference to this section 59, which I think everybody with experience in these matters will agree, confers a very useful power, I think the two amendments that I have given notice of will be very desirable, and I hope——
One moment, Senator. I understand that you will find, if you look at the Order Paper, that there is an amendment before yours. It is amendment 33. It was put down by Sir John Keane.
Yes. It has not been formally withdrawn. I ask the leave of the Seanad to withdraw it now.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
In the case of my amendment to Section 59, I hope the Government will see their way to accept something in the form of the amendment that I have given notice of. We are all, no doubt, aware that there is considerable difficulty, and has been great difficulty, with regard to a great number of people, especially of people that might be interested in questions of this sort, getting in touch with and seeing regularly the local press. As I read the section as it stands, it gives the Minister power to give public notice—that is, I presume, notice through the local press—and my amendment is simply that notice should be served on the persons interested, or that some notice should be served on them. It would be only an act of justice to make sure that people interested should receive notice that their land was to be taken compulsorily.
The only provision that it seems possible to make in this connection is that there should be public notice. This deals mainly with the acquisition of land. Now, the title to land is notoriously a difficult thing to have properly settled, and if you put it as an obligation on the Minister to serve notice on the parties interested it will be very difficult to do it. That is the force of the amendment "all the parties interested." It is going to be impossible to find out who those parties are. Public notice is the main requirement for having notice brought to those likely to be interested. There surely is an obligation on those parties to use some diligence, and look after their own rights, and if you are going to put it as an obligation on the Minister to seek out who might be interested in a particular piece of land, and that he should serve notice on anybody who might be prejudiced, then there is likely to be no end to the matter. It is surely more reasonable to state that the Minister should give public notice, and that the interested parties look after their own rights and see that they are not prejudiced. If this amendment is passed as it stands you might find something of this sort happening —notices would be served on all the interested parties in a case, and afterwards somebody would come along who would have some slight claim, and then the whole thing would be upset. There should be some obligation on the parties to look after their own interests.
Perhaps it would be more convenient if I explained the real object of this amendment.
It would be more convenient if you did that originally. However, it is better late than never.
Well, I did not suspect that the Minister would take up the attitude he did. He is perfectly well aware that these Acts dealing with the compulsory acquisition of land for railways contain certain provisions as to the people who are to be served. They must give such owners and occupiers notice, and they must have these notices served on the persons in actual occupation of the land—the reputed owners. That is all I wanted to do, and, perhaps, it would be better if this is held over to a later stage to see if the Minister himself would agree to insert a clause in accordance with the provisions of the Lands Clauses Act.
It does seem a pretty strong thing to take compulsorily land, and that the only notice the people may get from whom land is to be taken compulsorily is a public notice in the Press which they may never see. Undoubtedly the Lands Clauses Act and every other Act that I ever knew of required notices to be served on persons having an apparent interest in the land. I do not think that would be unreasonable. But your suggestion is very wide. You state all persons interested. If you had said "having any estate or interest in the land proposed to be acquired," that would be all right, and that would be following the Lands Clauses (Consolidation) Act. But "public notice" seems hardly sufficient to protect the owners of property when the land is to be taken from them. But perhaps the Minister may reconsider it, and arrive at some compromise.
In sub-section 3 (b) you do incorporate the Lands Clauses Act.
I presume the Minister will see that the procedure hitherto adopted in such matters will be followed.
The order you are referring to is made after the acquisition of the land. They first proceed to acquire the land. The order in sub-section (3) is the order made on their application to acquire the land. It would be too late then.
That would be a very great difference. I should imagine that the procedure hitherto followed for the compulsory acquisition of land will be followed under this Bill. If it is the intention not to do so I think the Minister ought to tell us. If it is necessary to make a railway, and if it is found advisable to take possession compulsorily of any person's land, notice should be given to that person.
Is it not incumbent on any person who acquires land to have the title investigated so as to ascertain all parties who claim title to the land?
He would be extremely foolish if he did not.
Surely, it is incumbent on the railway company to find out people who are interested in land, whether the Bill orders that notice be served or not. It would seem a hardship that people who have rights in land should have to depend upon a public notice. In a private transaction such a purchase would be upset if the owners were not all dealt with. A railway company should take as much trouble in acquiring land as a private purchaser.
I am now dealing with an amendment different from the one that was put down. I am dealing with one corresponding to what is required under the Lands Clauses Acts. That may not be properly or accurately stated, but I cannot accept the amendment proposed by Senator Barrington to serve notice on persons interested. If the amendment is withdrawn and if the Senator will bring forward another amendment on the Report Stage limiting it to what he stated in the latter part of his remarks, it will be considered.
I am not quite sure that these are not the words in the Lands Clauses Acts. My recollection is that the words are "any estate or interest."
I was under the impression when framing the amendment that these were the words.
You would not object to putting in the words, "any estate or interest"?
Perhaps the Minister will consider the question between now and the Report Stage.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Is the next amendment withdrawn?
It is not. Senator the Earl of Kerry was very interested in the amendment, and was very anxious to move it. He explained to me that he could not possibly be here to-day. Perhaps some other Senator will move it for him.
On behalf of Senator the Earl of Kerry, I beg to move:—
Section 59, sub-section (1). Immediately after the word "Minister" in line 25 to insert the words "or, on the application of a railway company, for enabling such company to make and provide any alteration, extension or improvement mentioned in Section 45 of the Railway Clauses Act, 1845."
Senator the Earl of Kerry left me under the impression that the Minister was prepared to accept the amendment. I do not know how far he was justified in saying that. If the Minister is not in a position to accept it, the Senator can repeat it on the Report Stage.
If it depends on me the amendment is quite acceptable. I intended to ask the Senator to let it stand over in order to see where we could fit it in.
Amendment put and agreed to.
I beg to move:
In sub-section (4), immediately after the word "matter" in line 50 to insert the words "involving payment of compensation for land exceeding one thousand pounds."
I think this is a very desirable provision to have in the Bill. I have no doubt about the discretion of the present Minister, if he will allow me to say so, but we might have a Minister here who might have exaggerated notions about things, and unless some limit is put in it would take away the powers of the Seanad to legislate by Private Bill. Under the section as it stands, if the Minister happened to be of opinion that a new railway should be made, involving a large expenditure of money, with which possibly everyone else did not agree, he could make an order. I think it would be well to limit the powers of such a Minister. I think the amendment would meet the case.
I am afraid Senator Barrington and I disagree here, because the amendment of Lord Kerry, of which I am taking charge to-day, points to the great expense of forcing the railway company in all matters, say, to the amount of £1,500, to go to the expense of a Private Bill. The amendment I am proposing invites them to have Private Bills only where matters of great expense are concerned. I think if the railway companies have to promote Private Bills for everything over £1,000 you are inflicting a great burden on the railways. The Minister is far more versed than I am in those matters, and I would like to hear his views.
I think there is no difference between Senator Jameson and myself, because my amendment seeks to provide that in a matter of small expenditure they should not go to the expense of a Private Bill. My amendment deals with any matter involving payment of compensation for land exceeding £1,000. That might mean an expenditure of £50,000. I think if compensation for land exceeded £1,000 it would be of sufficient magnitude to warrant a Private Bill.
You will get very little land for £1,000 now.
I am still not clear as to the amendment. If the Senator means that no matter involving payment of compensation for land exceeding £1,000 shall be dealt with except by Private Bill procedure, he has not succeeded in his amendment.
What the Senator proposes is that the power of the Minister to dispense with a Private Bill is not to be exercised where the scheme would involve expenditure of over £1,000 in compulsory acquisition of land.
That has not been said in the amendment.
I think the amendment carries that out because he proposes to put that in at the end of the clause.
It is out of place in line 50; it should be at the end of the clause.
It seemed to me that line 50 was the best place. If I am wrong, the end of the clause would suit me.
There is a big difference. I might be willing to accept it at the end of the clause.
It should be: "No order shall be made under this section in respect of any matter which involves an outlay of £1,000 on the acquisition of land or which..." Your object is to limit the Minister's discretion by saying that he is to have no discretion in cases where the scheme would involve an expenditure of over £1,000 in the compulsory acquisition of land.
You will have to re-draft it.
I think, sir, your suggestion would go beyond his ideas. It would leave it that no Order at all may be made in respect of a matter which would involve compensation for land exceeding £1,000. I do not know what I have to speak to and what point I have to meet.
I have every sympathy with you.
I withdraw the amendment if the principle is accepted.
No principle is accepted.
Would the Senator compel Private Bill legislation for any matter involving compensation for land of over £1,000? Supposing the owner of property and the amalgamated undertaking come to an agreement that the payment by way of compensation shall be £1,500, should the amalgamated undertaking be put to the expense of Private Bill legislation where there was an agreement? That would be also covered. The Private Bill legislation will come in in any point where matter of such character or magnitude ought not to be proceeded with except by Private Bill legislation. There is little fear that the Dáil or Seanad would let slip through anything of such a character that ought to be dealt with by Private Bill legislation.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question: "That Sections 59 to 62, inclusive, stand part of the Bill"— put and agreed to.
(1) The Minister shall during each of the ten years mentioned in Part I of the Ninth Schedule to this Act pay to the amalgamated company by equal half-yearly instalments out of monies to be provided by the Oireachtas the sum specified in the said Part I. of the said schedule as payable in each of such years respectively.
(2) The councils of the several counties mentioned in Part II of the Ninth Schedule to this Act shall, during each of the years specified in the said Part II in respect of the said counties respectively, pay to the Minister by equal half-yearly instalments on such dates as may be fixed by the Minister the sums specified in the said Part II in respect of the said counties respectively, such sums being the amounts raised and paid by the said councils respectively for the period of account ended next before the 1st day of January, 1914, in respect of the liability of guaranteeing baronies in the county for baronially guaranteed dividends.
(3) The several sums to be paid to the Minister by the council of a county under the foregoing sub-section shall be raised by such council off the same areas and in the same proportions and manner as the sum paid by such council for the period of account ended next before the 1st day of January, 1914, in respect of the liability of guaranteeing baronies in the county for baronially guaranteed dividends was raised:
Provided that the Minister may, on the application of any such council and with the concurrence of the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, by order authorise such council to enlarge the area off which or to vary the proportions or manner in which the sums to be paid by such council to the Minister shall be raised.
(4) The liability (whether present, future, or contingent) of the several councils of counties in which guaranteeing baronies are situate in respect of baronially guaranteed dividends or the completion, working, or maintenance of included baronial railways under any guarantee given under the Tramways and Public Companies (Ireland) Act, 1883, or any other Act or any Order in Council made under any such Act shall cease as from the 31st day of December, 1924, but such cesser shall not prejudice or affect any such liability as aforesaid of any such council in respect of any period previous to the 1st day of January, 1925.
(5) The liability (whether present, future, or contingent) of the several included baronial railways to the Minister for Finance or the councils of counties in which guaranteeing baronies are situate under the Tramways and Public Companies (Ireland) Act, 1883, or under any other Act under the authority of which the dividends, completion, working, or maintenance of an included baronial railway are guaranteed, or under any Order in Council made under any such Act, shall cease as from the 31st day of December, 1924.
(6) The contingent liability (if any) of any amalgamating or absorbed company to the Minister for Finance or the Council of any county under the Tramways and Public Companies (Ireland) Act, 1883, or under any other Act under the authority of which the dividends, completion, working, or maintenance of the railway or any section thereof of such company are or were guaranteed or under any Order in Council made under any such Act, or under any judgment, decree or order founded on any such Act or Order shall cease as from the 31st day of December, 1924.
(7) No moneys shall be payable out of the Local Taxation Account under sub-section (4) of Section 58 of the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, to the council of any county for any period after the 31st day of December, 1924, in respect of any included baronial railway, and in lieu of such payments there shall be paid to the Minister out of the Local Taxation Account during each of the ten years mentioned in Part III. of the Ninth Schedule to this Act the sum specified in the said Part III. of the said Schedule as payable in each of such years, respectively. The provisions of sub-section (5) of section 58 of the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, shall not apply to any sum paid to the Minister under this sub-section.
In Section 63, sub-section (1), to add at the end of the sub-section the words "and thereafter such portion of the forty thousand pounds per annum charged on the Irish Church Surplus Fund under the Tramways and Public Companies Act, 1883, as has been allocated to the light railways constructed under that Act and which has not been redeemed."
I hope there will be no misunderstanding as regards the intention of this amendment. On the introduction of the Bill I explained the question as fully as it was possible to explain it, that when the Tramways Act of 1883 was passed a sum of £40,000 a year was granted for the development of Irish railways. That sum of £40,000 a year was to be applied in paying portion of the dividend that would be payable by any county or barony, not exceeding 2 per cent. In the end a sum of something like £22,000 or £23,000 was allocated. A small portion of that was afterwards redeemed, but there was a considerable sum still due and payable by the British Government to Ireland every year on foot of that guarantee. When the Bill was before the House of Commons I remember well reading the reports on the subject, and it was said that it was the intention of the Treasury to charge this £40,000 a year upon the Irish Church Surplus Fund. There was a surplus arising from these transactions at the time, and it was in the hands of the Treasury, and it was remarked by, I think, the late Colonel Saunderson that they were simply changing the bishops and clergy of the Irish Church into light railways and engines. Whether it was charged to the Irish Church Surplus Fund or not it was a grant in perpetuity made to Ireland, and that sum was still payable. I do not think, in justice to the railway company, that it is fair to ask them to assume all the liabilities that have arisen on foot of all those railways, in perpetuity. You only give them back this sum for a period of ten years. The object of the amendment is that whatever sum remains out of that sum of £40,000 which was granted by England in 1883, and which is still collectable by Ireland, should not be applied to that purpose, but for the original purpose for which it was intended, namely, the relief of those lines.
The purpose of the amendment is quite clear, but the monies to which it refers are far from clear. It is not clear whether or not the Irish Church Fund was liable for the sum of money payable to the light railways. As a matter of fact, payment has not been made from any such fund. Payment to the Light Railways was made in the first instance before the Treaty out of the Vote of the Commissioners of Public Works and up to the present, since the Treaty, any payment that was made towards the upkeep of Light Railways, was made out of the Vote of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. What the sum of money referred to was, how it came about, or where it is being charged, I do not know. All I know is the fact which I have just stated, that the monies were paid from the Vote of the Commissioners of Public Works prior to the Treaty and after the Treaty on the Vote of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. In any event if there was any money left over this is an additional sum to be paid to the railways because of the taking over of the baronially guaranteed lines, and it upsets the whole arrangement of the Bill. The particular section dealing with the baronially guaranteed railways has been carefully thought out, and it all hangs together. Putting in an additional clause now disturbs the balance, and if it is passed it means that the whole section dealing with these lines must be reconsidered. It throws the whole thing back into the melting pot again and we may have a less acceptable solution, both for the baronially guaranteed lines as well as the State.
Do you wish, Senator Barrington, to put your amendment?
I should like to refer to what the Minister has said.
Would not it help the House very much if you were to show them from some Act of Parliament that this sum of £40,000 is charged in the way you say? You speak as if there was no doubt that there was a floating £40,000 per year charged on the Irish Church Surplus Fund for the benefit of the light railways, but you have not referred to any Act of Parliament which confirms that.
I hold in my hand the Act of Parliament that granted the £40,000, and the clause in the Act is this, the Act which deals with the balance left over. Of course, the Act of Parliament never says that it remains in the hands of the Treasury and I do not know that the Minister has any authority for saying it is not charged to the Irish Church Surplus Fund because he cannot possibly know.
I am just asking the Senator to advise me.
I have behind me the report of the time. If the report of Hansard is referred to, you will find what I say is correct, that Ireland is and the railways are at a loss of £18,000 a year, having regard to the capitalisation which afterwards took place, and the only way it can be proved that the £40,000 a year was charged, is by reference to Hansard. The Act here says: "Out of monies voted by Parliament." This was passed subsequently, in Section 6 of the Act of '89.
I do not like to interrupt, but I think I caught the expression "out of monies voted by Parliament."
The Act says "that the Treasury shall not undertake in pursuance of this Act to pay in the aggregate a sum exceeding £20,000 a year in addition to the residue, if any, for the time being remaining unappropriated of a sum of £40,000 a year mentioned in the 9th section of the Tramways and Public Companies Act, 1883." The section which says it is to be voted by Parliament is sub-section (4) of Section 4. It says: "A free grant or annual payment shall be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament." But how do you know that they are not provided by Parliament out of the Irish Church Surplus Funds? If you refer to Hansard you will find they are.
Hansard is not a statute.
This is a very interesting investigation, but a bit unfortunate. My recollection of these Railway Acts is that a certain amount of the Church Surplus Fund was taken by Mr. Balfour at the time. This Act says that there is a balance of £40,000, but it does not say where. We have to refer back to the other Act which the Senator said would give us some information as to where it came from. I am compelled to admit that Mr. Birrell, ex-Chief Secretary, and his friends had various wild-cat schemes put before them, and we always had to fall back on the Irish Surplus Fund until the Irish Church Surplus Fund no longer existed. I hope for the sake of our own finances some residuum of the Church Surplus Fund will be found to exist. Nobody will rejoice more than I do, but I do not think it is really worth while to legislate for that improbable contingency in this Railways Bill. I am afraid it is not worth it.
What do you propose to do with this amendment?
It does not seem likely that I could carry it, so I will withdraw it.
I am not sure the House understands the position. If you decide to bring it forward on Report you may. The Minister may be glad to know that there is this sum of £40,000 available.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
The next amendment to the section stands in the name of Senator Sir John Keane.
Might I ask that this amendment be taken after No. 36, which aims at deleting the sub-section, because if No. 36 is carried my amendment will fall to the ground.
That seems quite reasonable.
The next amendment is to delete sub-section (6), and that of Senator Sir John Keane is to sub-section (3).
That is quite right, so that it will be necessary to move your amendment now if we wish to go on with it.
In Section 63, sub-section (3). Page 30. Immediately after the word "council" in line 64 to insert the words "due notice of such application having been given."
It is merely to ensure that local authorities do not rush this matter of altering an area on which the baronially guaranteed lines are charged without giving notice. I do not know if the form of words are sufficiently explicit, but if the Minister would accept the principle the form of words can be changed.
Again it is my difficulty—to whom is the notice due or to whom is this notice to be given? I think that you have it already established that the notice is to be given by a public authority, by a council. This particular item has to come through many barriers on the application of the council, with the concurrence of the Minister of Local Government, and it finally remains with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
I do not think there is much to be gained by saying "with due notice." I do not think it requires even clear definition. No further notice save what is likely to be given by the public authority dealing with the matter could be allowed under the Bill without a certain amount of verbiage. I think the provision is quite watertight as it stands. If the Senator thinks not and if he brings forward a form of words avoiding the danger he foresees I would be prepared to consider them.
The trouble foreseen by the amendment was inferred from other quarters. I put down the amendment at the request of others, and, indeed, I thought the Government wanted it, but apparently I was misinformed. I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I beg to move: "In Section 63, to delete sub-section 6."
The sub-section that I propose to delete is one that was inserted in the Committee Stage in the Dáil, admittedly for the purpose of depriving the three baronies of Bantry, Bere, and the division of West Carberry in the County Cork, of a charge of £51,874 on the Bantry Extension Railway. In 1878 the ratepayers of these baronies entered into an agreement sanctioned by an Act of Parliament with the railway company by which the ratepayers undertook to pay £2,000 a year for 35 years on the baronially guaranteed stock of the company and the railway company on their part agreed that at the termination of 35 years they would repay to the ratepayers of the barony out of the profits of the line the entire sum which had been paid as guaranteed. The ratepayers faithfully adhered to and fulfilled their part of the contract, paying in all a total sum of £59,133. The railway company refused to carry out their obligations under the agreement, and the Cork County Council, acting on the ratepayers behalf, sued the company and recovered a verdict against them in the Irish Chancery Court. The company appealed against this, carrying the matter ultimately to the House of Lords, but in all the courts the decision in favour of the ratepayers against the company was upheld.
Now, the title of these ratepayers to this sum of money, I think, cannot be further disputed, and in addition, it was declared that their claim was in priority to the dividend or any of the charges on the company. Since the termination of the legal proceedings the sum of £9,259 has been repaid to the ratepayers from the County Council.
Was that under this decree?
Yes, and the total valuation of these three baronies is only £56,553, and if the charge of £51,000 that they are entitled is now taken from them it will, in my opinion, be quite contrary to justice and equity. If this sub-section is allowed to remain in the Bill it will sanction the principle of compulsorily seizing and confiscating property without compensation. That is a very dangerous departure from the principle hitherto prevailing of compensating owners when their property is compulsorily taken for any purpose. A curious thing is that the Bill makes provision for the shareholders of the company; they are not forgotten; their property is not to be confiscated, but there is no compensation whatever provided for the ratepayers whose claim has been decided to be in priority of the claim of any of the shareholders of the company. The Cork Co. Council is a body which has no beneficiary interest in these charges. They are merely acting as the agents, or I might say the guardians, of the ratepayers of these baronies. They get no benefit from the payment of this sum. They have to hand it over to the disposal of the ratepayers who originally subscribed it. The agreement that is in existence to pay the railway company and the ratepayers ought not to be varied or rescinded. In other parts of the Bill great care has been taken to provide that the existing agreements between the different railways as to the route of any traffic and other matters are to be upheld, and if this railway is not suitable for absorption subject to this charge due to the ratepayers I think it should be left as it is. I hope therefore that the Seanad will not agree to the confiscation of property without compensation, and that it will support my amendment to delete the sub-section.
I wish to support this amendment, and I think it is important that the Seanad should remember that this sub-section which it is now sought to delete was not in the Bill when it was originally introduced. It was introduced into the Bill during the Committee Stage in the other House, and in view of the fact that the ratepayers' right to this money has gone through all the courts, up to the House of Lords, and was there criticised and canvassed by those qualified to deal with it both in point of law and in equity, and that it was decided that this was the valid right of the ratepayers, I think it would not be right that we here now who can only give this matter relatively a casual and a passing attention should overrule this decision. I happen to know this part of the country. It is very inaccessible and the ratepayers and farmers of the district are very poor, and I think that a great measure like this if it goes through should not include a provision that deprives those poor people in great measure of their just rights.
I propose to remove Senator Dowdall's fears on one point. I propose to examine this matter not in a casual way, but I propose to give it more than a casual examination. Many important and big issues raised in connection with this Bill and many matters of considerable importance to the stockholders and persons in the country have been canvassed backwards and forwards, but no point, big or small, has received more attention than this small point about the Cork railways. It is complained that this peculiar sub-section did not appear in the Bill in its original form, and that it was only inserted during the Committee Stage. I presume the criticism is that this was inserted by the Government on the Committee Stage, and seems especially to be directed against the great county of Cork. Cork is getting off very lightly under this. Let the Seanad understand what are the benefits to be gained by this great county under the Bill. That this is directed against the Bantry Extension, or the county of Cork, I absolutely deny. Under the 1883 Act, and the other Private Acts under which the baronial railways were constructed, there is a provision which applies not only to the Bantry but to all baronially guaranteed lines, that whenever there is a surplus of receipts after deducting working expenses, then such surplus must be paid to the county in respect of the contributions paid by the County Council when there was no surplus of receipts but a loss in working.
That contingent liability has been removed not merely from the Bantry Extension but from every baronially guaranteed railway in the country, so that if it is an injustice it is an injustice committed against every baronially guaranteed line. It is a contingent liability. I wonder how many Senators think there is likely to be a surplus after payment of working expenses, and that there would be anything for payment to the county councils for the sums they have paid in past years towards the guaranteed dividend and loss in working expenses? That is the first point. If it is an injustice at all it is an injustice not merely to the Bantry extension but to every other line. That may not be a good defence, to say that it is a minor injustice but an injustice scattered all over the country. The Bantry Extension has one point which marks it out from other lines guaranteed a dividend and loss of working. It expired in the year 1918, and the particular difficulty arises that the Bantry Extension is worked by the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway for a percentage of the receipts, and the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway in 1918 were called on by the Cork County Council to make refunds. Their contention and answer to that was that no surplus could be deemed to have arisen until a dividend on stocks had been paid. That point only was taken to the House of Lords, and their judgement has nothing whatever to do with putting the Bantry Extension in a position of preference, except on the one point made out by the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway, that no surplus could be deemed to have arisen until they had paid a dividend on stock. The County Council disputed that contention, and the House of Lords gave a judgment which was that repayment to the County Council is a prior charge to the dividend, that is, that when profits accrue the liability is first to the County Council.
That means that no dividend can be paid until the repayments are made to the County Council. We are then told that actually there has been paid for the last 6 or 7 years the sum of about £1,300 a year. So there has, but that payment arises not in any peculiar way. This Bantry Extension is one of what are known as the worked lines, that is to say, another company takes a particular piece of the line and gathers in the receipts and meets the expenses, and the arrangement is made that it takes a percentage off the receipts in order to meet the expenditure. There was a control period and it came to an end. At the termination of that control period this further arrangement was made, that whatever surplus was found to have been in 1913 should be deemed to be the surplus until the Council of Ireland should otherwise determine. The Council of Ireland has disappeared so far as the Saorstát is concerned, and the Government takes its place. No appeal has been made to the Council to revise the percentage of receipts taken by the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway for working this line, but if this appeal had been brought forward to change that basis that appeal would have been granted for this reason, that in 1913 the line was working at a percentage which was inequitable, 70 per cent. of gross receipts after the payment of interest.
That basis to-day is quite inequitable, and would not be allowed to stand if subjected to examination, and it would be subjected to examination if this Bill had not come along. I will quote figures to show that the appeal would have been granted, and the basis of 70 per cent. changed. Let me take the other baronially guaranteed lines. The percentage of costs of working the lines is as follows; The Ballinascarty, Timoleague and Courtmacsherry Railway, 121 per cent. of the receipts; Cavan and Leitrim Railway, 125 per cent.; Cork and Muskerry, 128 per cent.; Donoughmore Extension, 227 per cent.; Schull and Skibbereen, 215 per cent.; Tralee and Dingle, 195 per cent.; West Clare, 102 per cent. No single railway is worked at anything under 100 per cent. of the receipts. The Bantry Extension is, under the old arrangement, being worked at 70 per cent. Under this you get a surplus of £1,300 a year, and if you had not that surplus the judgment of the House of Lords is worth nothing. All that the judgment asserts is that the repayment of moneys contributed by the county council shall be a first charge on surplus receipts, if there be any. That has been my case against this. There has been a surplus for six or seven years, because you continue to-day an arrangement which was equitable in 1913, but entirely inequitable to-day, as the figures I have quoted must show. The surplus is contingent on the keeping up of this old inequitable arrangement, and if that arrangement be not kept up there is no surplus. The House of Lords' decision remains there, and what it is worth I leave the House to consider.
It has been pointed out elsewhere, as well as here, that the three baronies that have to contribute to this particular Extension are the poorest in Co. Cork, and that some relief should be given them. I am not disposed to quarrel with that statement. I think some relief should be given them. I think it is a matter for the Cork County Council to give relief. If this Bill had not come along certain substantial benefits accruing to Cork County Council would not accrue to it. If the Bill did not include the present proposals and include the baronial guaranteed railways, Cork County Council would be responsible for the loss of working the baronial guaranteed lines in Cork. In 1923 the loss on the working of these lines was as follows:—
Ballinascarty, Timoleague and Courtmacsherry
Cork and Muskerry
Schull and Skibbereen
Taking the old inequitable arrangement of 1913 in the case of the Bantry extension there would be a repayment of £1,383 to the Cork Co. Council as against a loss of £8,611. If the ratepayers of Co. Cork think it is better to continue that arrangement including a contingent liability for the repayment when a surplus accrues, I am prepared to agree to that. It would put an additional charge on the Cork Co. Council of £8,611. At least it would put a charge of £9,994, and out of that they would receive back £1,383 from the Bantry extension. If that is the bargain they want to strike I will strike it, but I will not make any bargain on the ground of setting up a judgment of the House of Lords, which means nothing unless the old inequitable arrangement is persevered with. That is not going to be persevered with.
Would not the Minister accept the proposal made by the Senator in the amendment and leave out this railway entirely? Let it make the huge profits we are told it is making.
That is another proposition. On the 1913 basis it shows a profit of £1,383. Take into consideration also this further fact, that no small railway line is run on a basis of seventy per cent. of the receipts. What is likely to happen is that they are going to be burdened with a greater deficit.
I do not think that the Seanad would allow that the three baronies should get into such an ill-considered scheme as that. What would happen? It would mean that this portion of the line which is not necessary to the amalgamated scheme but which is a feeder to some extent, would be left out, so that after a couple of years these people might be brought to a true sense of the relation of things by having to meet a far bigger loss than a mere deduction of £1,383. If it is put to me that the railway can be run more economically I do not know what Senators on the Labour benches opposite would say. In other words, that peasants should be taken from the fields and for a half day run a train, and for the rest of the day go on with their ordinary work. I wonder what would happen to the goods where the line joins the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway? Would traffic on a railway worked by men taken from the fields be acceptable to the employees of the other railways? I do not think the proposal to leave the line out of the Bill is an acceptable one. The lines are graded in a way that they will be useful to the bigger railways. To leave this line out of the Bill would do considerable harm to the scheme and considerably more harm to the people in the three baronies.
The Minister has spoken under the impression that the Cork County as a whole was liable for these railways. I wish to point out that that is not so. In each case the liability for the baronial railways in County Cork is confined to a special area in the neighbourhood of the railway. The proposal in the Bill, with this sub-section in it, is that the Minister will relieve certain areas in County Cork of their liability, provided he gets permission to rob another district, that has the judgment of the House of Lords in its favour. I do not think any representative body in County Cork would accept or sanction a proposal that provided that one portion of their district should be deprived of its rights in order to compensate another district. The Minister says that the Cork County Council can relieve these people after he has robbed them. I prefer to try and defend them from being robbed, rather than send around the hat for them after they have been robbed. A new principle is being brought forward in this sub-section, and that is confiscation of property without compensation. In the Railway Bill that was introduced into the Dáil by the Labour Party compensation was provided for the shareholders, for the debenture holders, and for all those who had charges of any kind against the different railways. If that Bill had been carried the ratepayers of these three baronies would have had a value assessed on their interests by the tribunal. The County Council are asked to relieve the baronies in their distress. I think the Minister admitted that was the way the district might get relief, but it is better, if possible, to avoid having to give relief. Better give the people their rights. Do not take anything from them, and there will be no need for relief. It is demoralising to people to be receiving doles and relief. We have got a return of the expenditure on this railway, from which it will be seen that the Bantry Extension Railway was worked at a profit from 1909 to 1922, in conjunction with other railways.
It is not a mere light railway. It is the main line from Cork to Bantry. It is a line over which an enormous amount of traffic went during the last twelve months when the port of Bantry was being used for the shipping of pigs and cattle belonging to the farmers of the surrounding country. Even in the year, 1923, a profit has been shown notwithstanding that the main bridge on the line, a bridge with seven or eight arches was down for a considerable period. The Minister was asked whether he was satisfied to leave out this line from the Bill. He would not consent to do so. He was very reluctant, because this part of the line is so important that it could not be left out. There is no means of getting to deep water in Bantry except by it. The question of whether it is a prosperous or poor line has nothing whatever to do with it. If it is a prosperous line, it is for the benefit of the ratepayers; if it is a poor line the ratepayers will have to pay for the loss on it. All I would ask you to do is, if you take the line from them, compensate them. If you are not prepared to compensate them, then leave the line with them. Now, there is the matter of the compulsory taking of property without compensation, and this looks very like what has happened in countries that we read about under the Soviet and Bolshevik Governments. This is a question of the rights of property, and if it is sanctioned that people's property can be taken from them without compensation, then I am afraid that we come to a very serious pass. The Minister referred to the judgment of the House of Lords. I have the judgment of the House of Lords here. He evidently repudiated the judgment of the House of Lords altogether as being no good.
I do not think that is so. What the Minister said was this, and speaking from memory — because I remember taking part in the appeal in that case — what we decided, and what the House of Lords confirmed, was that before any dividend could be paid this £59,000 was a first charge on the receipts, that is on the surplus receipts. First they had to pay expenses, then after the expenses were paid, this debt of £59,000 in favour of the baronies was the first charge, before dividends on the surplus could be paid. The Minister has conceded that. He admits that. Judgement did not go beyond that.
That is all I want, and if that is conceded and acknowledged and not varied or rescinded I am satisfied. Now, this is the judgment: "In pursuance of the directions given to me by the Right Honourable Justice Powell, I hereby certify that the result of the accounts which have been taken in pursuance of the judgment announced in this action and dated the 27th February, 1919, is as follows:—The plaintiffs and defendants attended by their respective solicitors. There is due to the plaintiffs in respect of the £59,133 13s. 1d. mentioned in said judgment a said sum of £59,133 13s. 1d. and £2,000 for costs and expenses, making altogether a sum of £61,133 13s. 1d., the said sum of £2,000 has been agreed upon between plaintiffs and defendants."
There are just a few statements made by the Senator which I would like to challenge. He said that the line is owned by the ratepayers. He did not give any proof. He did not show any evidence of that. I wonder how he arrived at that conclusion that the line is owned by the ratepayers? The ratepayers have contributed nothing to the capital expenditure on the line. They contributed nothing, except to pay the losses in the working. They met the losses in working for a certain number of years. If that is going to put them in the position of emerging as owners it is a new transaction. He has also read certain accounts and statements, and the statement, I think, was that the line had shown a profit from 1909 onwards. I do not know if I understood the Senator correctly. I understand that the Senator has alluded to the White Paper. I would ask him is there any item mentioned in the White Paper as to the Bantry Extension, and, if so, what are the figures?
What is in the White Paper here is included in the other parts of the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway accounts.
The 1913 rates have been stereotyped, and that is what has been assumed to be the statement of the receipts and expenditure for the period. That is assumed as being the statement of the actual expenditure, simply because of what I have stated, which is a fact, that the 1913 rate was stereotyped since then in the Cork and Bandon and South Coast line. That line had to work the Bantry Extension on the 1913 rate of 70 per cent of the receipts. I do not know if that fact was challenged, but that is a fact. The 1913 percentage has been stereotyped. If the working of that line would take 130 per cent. of the receipts it would still go on and have to be worked at the 70 per cent.
Does that mean a percentage of the working expenses?
No; a percentage of the gross receipts taken is charged for working the line. The Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway work the line.
That is to say, the expenses may have risen to 100 per cent., but that would disappear, and 70 per cent. is the figure that would be taken as an estimate?
The 1913 rate was 70 per cent. The Cork and Bandon took 70 per cent. of the receipts of the line and they worked it for that, whether there was a loss or gain, since. That has been stereotyped since. Having read the figures which showed the 1923 percentage and the percentage at which these light railways can be worked, you have seen that not one of them comes below 100 per cent. of the receipts. So that 70 per cent. of the receipts is quite inequitable in the circumstances of the time.
On this White Paper the percentage of ratio to working expenses and traffic receipts in 1922 was 89.82 per cent., showing that that gives a profit.
That is for the Cork, Bandon and South Coast, including the Baltimore Extension. The Bantry Extension follows in the next line and it has separate figures for capital issue. The rest of the figures are for capital undertakings. The Bantry Extension line has not separate figures set out for it anywhere except in the third column.
In the absence of special figures, is the Minister justified in assuming that this line is now making a loss?
I am basing my assumption on the figures I quoted, that the other baronially guaranteed lines are run at the rate which makes this 70 per cent. on comparison seem absolutely inequitable. I cannot state without fear of contradiction that 70 per cent. means an entire loss, but I say, taking it on the basis of those other lines, and taking their conditions into account, that it is impossible to allege that 70 per cent. is anything like an equitable charge at the moment. It is very easy to make this case about robbery and confiscation and to seek to get a certain amount of sympathy by talking about robbery and confiscation. Where does the robbery come in? An individual puts forward for me an asset as security for a loan, and says that he has been at half a dozen race meetings, was consistently lucky, and won money by gambling. This 70 per cent. which the Bantry Extension line got since 1917 was absolute gambling. They could not have got it from the Council of Ireland or from the Executive Council. If this Bantry line makes application to-morrow to get a new rate there would not be any surplus on the working of this line, and I doubt if Senator Linehan holds that there would be a surplus. If there is no surplus, what is the value of seeing every payment will be the first demand before the dividend? That is what we are confiscating. We are wiping out that judgement. Survey the line and see how it has been run. When you have all considered see is it wise to pay this money. If the Senator cares later he can move an amendment in the Schedule. £1,330 has been mentioned That is the figure paid for the last seven years to them on the 1913 basis. I have had many deputations on this point. At one deputation the offer was made to me that this judgment with regard to the £59,000 would be bartered on the continuance of £1,330 for ten years. That established a certain valuation of the judgment. Let us take £1,300 as an acceptable figure. If the Senator cares to move afterwards in the Schedule, where the payment for Cork is put down, an amendment and leaves it to my discretion, I will see what can be done.
If it were in the hands of the Minister I would accept it, but as it is bound to go through the Ministry of Finance I will not accept it.
It seems to me that the Minister has perhaps unintentionally misled them, but I gather from his remarks that he does not know a great deal about the district. This is not a light railway, but is bearing its receipts and working expenses with the light railways. It is not comparable. The Cork and Bandon is in the same position as the Great Southern and Western Railway was when owing to the blowing up of the bridge at Mallow it was cut off. There is nothing more difficult to ascertain than what are the proper receipts applicable to any two miles of any line of railway. If you take the whole of the Great Southern and Western Railway line and want to find out what any section of it is worth, it would be impossible to say that is ascertained by dividing the length of the line by the possible receipts. Certain sections work more than other sections, and this line is worth far more to the Cork and Bandon than a great deal of the dead line between. To say this line is a loss to them is to me quite unfair. I was connected with the obtaining of a Bill for the line. I know at the time that the Cork and Bandon Company were bad indeed. It was a very fair arrangement. This line is only something like nine or ten miles long. If you calculate the receipts on the nine or ten miles the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway have already got the haulage of seven over the rest of their system. If you look at it from that point of view it is putting that line in exactly the same position as regards the Cork and Bandon line, as the Government have adopted with regard to all the main lines of Ireland. They have asked this amalgamated company to assume responsibility on the ground they are going to get the advantage of the whole of the traffic on those small lines. In the same way it would be only fair to ask the section represented by the Cork and Bandon Company to assume responsibility for the few miles from Timoleague to Bantry. Those are very important.
If I have misled the Seanad by speaking of it as a light railway, I thought I had confined myself to other baronially guaranteed railways.
It is not correct to say that because a line is baronially guaranteed it is a light railway. A light railway is independent of the guarantee.
I thought I was making that clear. Let me take the Ballinascarthy and Timoleague Junction. It is not a light railway. This light railway of which I am now making a comparison with the Bantry Extension is a light railway of nine miles in length. The Bantry Extension is eleven miles. The ratio of working expenses to traffic receipts is fifteen to one. Take this White Paper. To get away from the baronially guaranteed lines and light railways, take all the railways. What is the lowest ratio shown? We have 76 per cent. in one case, 79 per cent. in another, and not a single line, baronially guaranteed or otherwise, under 80 per cent. If I have made any unfair comparison the fair comparison lies there for everybody to see.
It is quite easy to explain the case of the Ballinascarthy and Timoleague line. It has only got the receipts on its own eleven miles. It gets nothing for the rest of the distance into Cork. In the case of the Bantry extension the amalgamated company will not only get a rate on the eleven miles but on the whole of the rest of the traffic into Cork.
The Minister is arguing by analogy. Those lines he is taking were losing before 1913. The Ballinascarthy and Timoleague line had a ratio of working expenses in 1913 of 146 per cent., whereas this line which is engaging Senator Linehan's solicitude had working expenses of something like fifty-six. It is hard to tell from this document. In the case of these railways, the three are padlocked together and you cannot disentangle one from the other.
Does not the whole question depend upon whether this company has a surplus or not, and it is a curious thing that neither the party interested in this amendment nor the Government is in a position to inform the Seanad of what are the actual circumstances. If the line has been worked at a profit, Senator Linehan's case would seem to be a strong one, but if, on the other hand, it is worked at a loss, then the Minister's point arises, but the Seanad has no information on a matter which we thought was capable of being ascertained, that is, whether the line has been worked at a profit.
In being asked to vote on this amendment we are more or less torn by the Bolshevism of the Government and the House of Lords decree of Senator Linehan. It is exceedingly difficult to give a conscientious vote on this amendment without further details. There is one point on which anyone with any knowledge of railways can make up his mind, and that is that no railway in Ireland can claim that its total working expenses are only 70 per cent. of the gross receipts, and in order that this amendment can be carried and put into operation so that these baronies may get £1,300 a year it is necessary that the working expenses shall not exceed 70 per cent. of the gross receipts. If that is the position it is quite impracticable and ridiculous to expect that would be the case. I take it this line has no rolling stock. It is a worked line, and if it were left out of the amalgamation it would have to make some agreement with the amalgamated company as regards rolling stock. It is quite obvious that no businesslike arrangement could be made which would give 30 per cent. of the gross receipts by way of payment of dividends or in discharge of this decree. On the other hand, it might be possible that a deficit would occur. If a deficit did occur the line either became bankrupt or if the baronies again agree to give a guarantee to enter into the old arrangement it would not take many years to pay back the £9,000 they have already received from this alleged surplus. It seems to me the surplus that has accured has accrued because the working expenses have not been affected at all by the great change in the circumstances of the country. The railway companies allege that the cost of wages are in the main 200 per cent. over pre-war, and that the cost of materials is up by 100 per cent. It is obvious that none of these things have affected the financial basis of the company because of the arrangement under which it was worked by the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway, although the present position is altogether an unreasonable one. We are asked to guarantee this £1,300 until the remaining amount of the decree is paid off. It is obvious that such a guarantee could not be given under any businesslike arrangement. There must be some compromise between what Senator Linehan had in mind and what you would reasonably expect is the profit on the line. Perhaps Senator Linehan would withdraw his amendment for the time being and see if he could get some figures from some source in the meantime that would enable some reasonable estimate of the amount of the surplus, if any, to be formed from the working of this line on a businesslike arrangement.
I think it is rather notorious, as Senator Barrington states, that it is impossible to calculate the exact profit on this particular section of the line and that for this reason these sections have been guaranteed by the baronies. The railway companies who had the working of the matter in the keeping of the accounts took very good care to put as much expense as possible on the particular section which nobody could check so as to keep the guarantees from the baronies. I think that is a very notorious fact now; it is more or less admitted; however, it is quite impossible that these statements made by the Minister are really accurate. They are merely estimates made by the railways of their own value.
Something in the nature of what Senator O'Farrell suggested is presented to my mind. I can quite see that it is not an easy problem from the point of view of the Minister, and it has been suggested, and I put forward for his consideration that he should accept it that the ratio of working expenses of total receipts of the whole line of the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway, which includes this line, is 89 per cent. Give these people who do consider they have a right under the judgement which originated in the Irish courts a percentage of the surplus on that mileage. I would ask the Minister to accept that. Give these people their surplus of the 11 per cent. I think that is a very fair offer.
I just wish to refer to one matter. Some Senators here seem to be under the impression that we want a guarantee of £1,300 to the ratepayers. If the line is only able to make £5 in the year we are satisfied; we ask to get repaid this money out of the profits of the line as fast as they can pay it, and any year they are not making profits we want no money.
A point raised by Senator O'Farrell is whether this line has any rolling stock. Of course it has not. If the word ownership could be applied to it at all, it owns a permanent way and the line. That is all it has. The question has been raised and a certain amount of censure seems to be implied in connection with it that there should have been drafted a separate set of figures. There have been no separate accounts kept for the Bantry extension since 1917, so that it is impossible to have figures here or to give any information about these figures. Senator Linehan has now stated that if they only made £5 in the year they would be satisfied; they would really lose three or four thousand a year if they got the railway to themselves. There is no chance even of making £5 a year.
And if we are to give this railway special consideration and to look upon it as a separate concern, while including it in the amalgamated undertaking, we cannot deal with this railway alone in that way. We would have to keep separate accounts and to keep as separate entities the baronially guaranteed lines of the 26 Counties. Whatever applies to the Bantry Extension applies to every other baronially guaranteed line in the country. They have all these arrangements about the repayment of the monies advanced, but the Bantry people have gone one step further and have got a judgement. Every baronially guaranteed line in the country could have got a similar judgement, and the same judgement applies to them. You cannot deal with this line as a thing apart. It must be taken on the same footing as the rest; they are in no better position at all. They have got a judgment which is simply a statement of the law that applies to the whole lot. There is one other railway which is being worked on the inequitable basis of 1913, and on which a profit is shown, and that profit is taken away from the County Council. That is in Mayo. There is nothing that can be said about the Bantry extension that could not be stated about this Mayo Railway. If we are asked to do something here that is not done anywhere else I personally am against it. I could make no promise on this. There is a law of repayment out of surplus that applies to every baronially guaranteed line in the country. The contingent liability with regard to every one of them is taken away by the Bill. The Bantry Extension is not damnified any more than any other guaranteed line in the country.
Why was this clause not in the Bill when it was introduced in the first instance if it is so vital now?
The reason why it was not put in was this: that the position with regard to contingent liability was not adverted to. If this clause was not put in it would simply mean that we were doing away with the economy we hoped to gain by the amalgamating of the separate account keeping which was so far the rule. You would have to keep accounts separate for each small undertaking, because in time the county council might claim that portion of the line was showing a surplus and on so much of the guarantee might claim to be repaid. If this clause were not left in it would do away with one of these main economies and separate accounts would have to be kept for each small undertaking. There is nothing sinister in adverting to this in the Committee Stage. It was simply not adverted to in the earlier portion of the proceedings.
The Committee divided: Tá, 7; Níl, 23.
- William Barrington.
- Richard A. Butler.
- J.C. Dowdall.
- Sir John Keane.
- Thomas Linehan.
- Joseph Clayton Love.
- James Moran.
- John Bagwell.
- Mrs. Eileen Costello.
- William Cummins.
- Dowager Countess of Desart.
- Sir Thomas Henry Grattan
- Sir Nugent T. Everard.
- Thomas Farren.
- Martin Fitzgerald.
- Sir John Purser Griffith.
- Cornelius J. Irwin.
- Rt. Hon. Andrew Jameson.
- Edward McEvoy.
- James MacKean.
- John MacLoughlin.
- Edward Mac Lysaght.
- General Sir Bryan Mahon.
- Col. Maurice Moore.
- George Nesbitt.
- John Thomas O'Farrell.
- Mrs. Wyse Power.
- George Sigerson, M.D.
- The Earl of Wicklow.
- William Butler Yeats.
Amendment declared lost.
Amendment 38 not moved.
Question—"That Section 63 stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
Sections 64, 65 and 66 were agreed to and added to the Bill.
Any document required by or authorised by law other than this Act to be served on the amalgamated company may be so served by—
(a) handing it to the secretary of the amalgamated company at the principal office in Saorstát Eireann of the amalgamated company, or
(b) leaving it at the principal office aforesaid in an envelope addressed to the secretary of the amalgamated company, or
(c) sending it by post in a prepaid registered letter addressed to the secretary of the amalgamated company at the principal office aforesaid.
I beg to move amendment 39: new section, immediately before Section 67, as follows:—
All public notices other than those of a temporary character exhibited by the amalgamated company on their premises and in their trains shall be in the Irish and English languages, and all tickets issued to passengers on the lines of the amalgamated company shall be printed in Irish only or in Irish and English. Provided always that, notwithstanding the provisions of this section, such public notices and tickets as are already in existence at the date of the passing of this Act may continue to be used without alteration for a period of twelve months after the passing of this Act.
I was afraid that Senators would have formed the opinion when they read this amendment on the paper as it stood in an emasculated form with the words "other than those of a temporary character" omitted, that it emanated from the brain of an impracticable enthusiast. I plead guilty to being an enthusiast, but I always try to be practical, and I sent in my amendment ten days ago with these words in it.
The words left out, "other than those of a temporary character," would, of course, make all the difference, for if it was thought to force the bi-lingual printing of all notices of a temporary character it would be exceedingly expensive and involve costs to the amalgamated company which I certainly would not like to propose, but if those words are now included it only affects permanent notices. This would involve not an annual cost, but only the initial cost and it would not be very high. The one object I have in mind is to have the language in evidence, and that is why I say public notices should be exhibited in the Irish language. If I did not put in the word "exhibited" public notices would include such things as consignment notes, which are not exhibited but are public notices, and there we should get the necessity for bi-lingual printing in very small type, which would produce in a worse form some of the abuses now complained about in the printing in two languages of temporary notices, which I do not want to include, such as time tables, notices of excursions, and the other passing things you see in the stations.
It is not intended to include advertisements?
All public notices exhibited by the amalgamated company. As far as I know, there are no advertisements except those of a temporary character exhibited by the railway companies in their premises and in their trains. What I have in mind is that all things of a permanent character, such as the names of stations and the indications of the booking offices and refreshment rooms, and so forth, and notices such as that you should cross the line only by the bridge, and other things of a permanent character should be in Irish. These railways have been always public services and they are being made more definitely than ever public services, and they should be brought into line with the post office and other public services. I do not want to go into the general question, and argue as to whether the Irish language ought to be supported or not. It is the Government policy to do so, and while I know there are certain members of the Seanad who are definitely opposed to the Irish language still I think, as a body, we are in favour of it. As one who spent the most of his life in trying to forward that cause I think that public notices of a permanent character should be in Irish. This will not involve the printing in small type. Anyone who has been abroad will know the effect notices have when constantly brought face to face with them. At the end of the amendment a period of 12 months is allowed for the existing notices, tickets, etc. Perhaps that is not enough, and I merely suggested that because I wanted to put in some figure. What I do want is the principle that these things should be done in the railways as well as in the post offices and other places. I have met a lot of people who have said that it was quite impossible to have tickets printed in Irish for various reasons.
I have gone into the matter with some care. Tickets must be printed of a certain size, and the machinery for printing the tickets need not be changed. As I said before, I do not want to be thought an unpractical enthusiast, but I know it is possible to print tickets bi-lingually of the standard size. The only officially printed tickets bi-lingually I know of are in South Africa. There the tickets are printed in two languages, and the tickets are of the same size as here. In the case of a single ticket, there is plenty of room in it for printing in the two languages. In the case of a return ticket there is not sufficient room, and what they do is they print the outer part in English and the return part in Dutch. If one does not know the Dutch word Kapstad is Capetown he may go to Bloemfontein and get lost, in the same way as would a person who does not know Corcaigh is the Irish for Cork. He may go to Limerick, and if he does he deserves it. That is the only argument I have in favour of tickets in Irish. I feel sure that I shall be told that this ought to be regarded as an administrative matter, and I dare say it ought, but if we leave it as such, and so regard it, it will not be done. That is why I seek to have this put into the Bill, because I am positively certain that no present board of directors and management in Ireland, if we formed an amalgamated company, would think of suggesting what they would term as a mad idea; but this mad idea is also shared by the Government in all its Departments. Therefore, I say instead of leaving it as an administrative matter, we ought to do everything we possibly can as a legislature to give effect to the fact that the Irish language is the national language of this country, and is so provided for in the Constitution.
I suggest that if one of the aims of this amendment was educative or sentimental it has failed in its object. I suggest that the proposal would effect nothing except a very considerable waste of money. From the practical point of view, whatever the position may be in the future, there would hardly be any railwaymen able to examine or collect the tickets, and hardly any purchaser of a ticket would be able to make any practical use of the Irish portion of it. The tickets are exceedingly small, but, of course, it would be possible to get twice as much printed matter on them. Whether that would be a desirable thing is another matter. The proposal is not going to facilitate travelling, at any rate. It would necessitate large alterations in the present printing arrangements. Possibly the punching machines would have to be altered, too. In all, a very large sum of money would be involved. It is the practice of railway companies to have the permanent notices at the railway stations, formed with iron letters. To duplicate such notices would be very expensive. If you are going to compel by law—if this becomes law— that things more or less of a trumpery character are also to be given in Irish, I think it would confuse people, and also make the question ridiculous. As regards the educative, and possibly sentimental, side of the question, there is an educative and a sentimental side. But I suggest that the duplication of public notices put up and issued by railway companies is unlikely to promote the study of the Irish language. While appreciating the expression of national consciousness, I cannot appreciate anything more unsuitable than a proposal of this kind.
The Seanad, I think, should consider whether this is not a premature move. When the majority of the inhabitants of the Free State are bilingual—and that time will probably come—that, I suggest, would be the time to have notices of the kind referred to printed bi-lingually. That time has not arrived. It would, I think, be more sensible and dignified to defer action until that stage is reached. I cannot see, simply because certain alterations in the railways of the country are necessary, why a commercial body, or a business organisation, dependent upon business methods, should be saddled with things of this kind any more than the proprietors of newspapers, shops, or any form of business. I think the proposal is premature, and that it would be wiser if it were brought up again when it becomes a live question, and more in accordance with facts.
I think the point the Seanad has to face is that this amendment—and I do not think the mover will deny it—is an attempt to introduce propaganda for the Irish language into the railway system. I think I am stating it fairly by saying that is the intention. I should also say that it is to revive the somewhat decaying fortunes of the Gaelic League, as I should say the Gaelic League is not in a very healthy position at the moment. I think that is the issue. When a division is called for that is what will be in my mind when deciding how I shall vote. As Senator Bagwell has stated, this proposal is premature for more reasons than one. If the Government, as the Senator said, are genuinely anxious that no opportunity should be lost in bringing the Irish language into prominence let them wait until the railways are nationalised. It can be done then with some more or less logical justification. It can also be made compulsory in the schools. If we are to be logical I would expect that Senator MacLysaght, when the Licensing Bill comes before the Seanad, would move that all the labels and the notices that affect the licensing trade should be printed in Irish. Surely the line of argument should be public interest and public facilities first. Assuming that there is a percentage, say 10 per cent. of the people of a certain district who want this, they are provided for in this Bill, in case they suffer any hardship by reason of railway notices being printed in English. They can go before the tribunal, and the tribunal in its wisdom can provide what they ask if it thinks fit. I very much doubt if the tribunal will provide such notices in Dublin, or in other places where they are not really required. The expense is going to be borne primarily by the stockholders, and secondly by the public at large. It is for the Seanad to decide.
I do not think anyone knows what this proposal would cost. A good deal depends on how rigidly it would be enforced. It is a question whether the money should go towards lowering rates, and providing better travelling facilities, or be spent on propaganda by means of public notices. I notice that Senator MacLysaght tries to belittle the effect of his amendment by introducing words making it of a temporary character. He cannot give his own version of the words that he intends the notices should be given in. We are to take them in the form they are here. If these words are put in, presumably, it is in the power of anyone interested to take proceedings against the railway company or to bring them into court, or before the tribunal, in order to ensure that all those provisions are carried into effect. Bye-laws are a very uninteresting form of literature, but when waiting at railway stations I have often perused them. You are to have a translation of these bye-laws in two languages. I suppose that nobody, even in the Irish-speaking districts, wants that. It is assumed that railway tickets will not have to be enlarged, but at the same time considerable expense will be involved in printing them in the two languages. I put it to the Seanad that this should not be made an opportunity for considering this matter except on the basis of public facilities. Where public facilities are required in Irish they are amply provided for in Section 58 of the Bill.
Senator Sir J. Keane suggests that I was very indefinite. May I say that I stand by the exact words of the amendment. If it was shown to me that the amendment, with certain alterations, would meet the views of certain Senators, the wording might be made a little less binding.
Some of the Senators who have spoken have shown a lamentable lack of knowledge of the work of the Gaelic revival, as it has been known for the past quarter of a century. I think it is owing to the Gaelic revival, primarily, that we are here to-day. I think that should not be forgotten. If everybody looked at the practical side of the Irish language for the past twenty-five years we would not be here to-day. We looked at it from the national point of view. That was the object of the Gaelic League and the Irish revival in the initial stages, and it is so still. Senator Sir John Keane referred to this as an effort to revive the decaying fortunes of the Gaelic League. I do not think that comes very well from anyone who never, in any way, assisted the Gaelic League in its work. The cry of other Senators was, "Let us wait until we are a bilingual people." Do they know how many people are bilingual? What evidence have they shown that this is not a bilingual city? Is it because Irish is not spoken here in deference to people who cannot speak Irish? The arguments used against the amendment are, I consider, extraordinary. The principle that this proposal stands for cannot be amended. That is the principle of an Irish nation. A short time ago when the people of Ireland were fighting for the measure of justice we have to-day, I remember that Mr. Lloyd George told the people of Ireland that they could not pretend, nor hope for, nationhood, because they had no language. Do the three Senators agree with that? If they do, I make them a present of it.
The last time I spoke in the Seanad was on a question connected with Gaelic. It was to bring before the Seanad a report of a committee that had been dealing with Gaelic studies. I asked the Seanad to support a proposal by which the Government would be asked to give £5,000 for the endowment of Gaelic. Senator Colonel Moore tells me that he hopes to get the Government to endow Gaelic. If such a proposal comes before the Seanad, I will certainly support it. I ask the Seanad to throw out this amendment. I do so in the interests of the sincerity of Irish intellect, and not in the interests of those who pretend that they know a language that they do not know.
I did not say that you know Irish.
I have tried to learn it. When you put up, as this amendment proposes, a notice telling a man where he is to cross a railway line, you put it up to give him the best practical information. That is the only thing you have to consider. To put that up in the Irish language is to create a form of insincerity that is injurious to the general intellect and thought of this country, and to create an irritation against the Gaelic language. That causes a general irritation against all Irish thought, all Irish feeling, and all Irish propaganda. That is a cause of irritation that is increasing daily in this country, I am sorry to say. If the Gaelic League or any other Irish national interest is injured it will be injured by an attempt to force Irish on those who do not want it. Endow creation by scholarships, and press that on the Government, but do not set up a pretence of people knowing a language that they do not know by perpetually printing, and in other ways, exhibiting something in the Irish language.
Senator Yeats has made a rather impassioned speech on this subject.
I want the Senator to know that all the passion is not on one side.
This interchange between Senators is not in order.
Senator Yeats made a very impassioned speech on what the principles of Gaelic should be. Irish, I suppose, should be used only for subjects in which the Senator is interested, such as art, poetry, and other things. It is not to be used in the daily lives of the people. As Senator Yeats stated, he has been connected with these things for a very long time, more or less. The Irish revival failed because it was concerned in those days only with subjects such as art and ancient literature. When it appealed to the people as a spoken language, then Gaelic revived immediately. All over the world people took an interest in it, and in Ireland there was a great revival of Irish.
I was in America a good many years ago, and while in a ranch far away from any town, I got a letter, written in Irish by an American, in which was enclosed a little booklet giving the names of a large number of Irish people all over North America, from Canada down to Mexico. They were members of a club and were bound to write to each other in Irish. It is not at all unusual, as Senators Yeats and Keane know, for French Canadians in Quebec to speak their own language. Wherever French Canadians are throughout Canada, they always use their own language. The names of most Irish railway stations are of Irish origin, but they have been perverted in a most extraordinary way. The result is that few can understand what they mean. One of the things that we wish to see done is to see the old Irish names given their rightful place. The town of Ballinrobe, for instance, means nothing, but in Irish it means Baile an Riabhaigh, the town on the river. Take Castlebar, which is the town nearest to me; it means Caislean na Barra, the Castle of Barry. At present some of these English names have no meaning whatsoever. It does not seem an unreasonable thing to ask that the railways should put up the original names of places, names that were there hundreds of years before the English came to this country. The plea of another Senator was that it was not fair to encumber the railways—which he asserts were built by private enterprise—with anything national. The Senator forgets that the railways obtained very great donations from the Irish people. They were also allowed to take land at a certain valuation and were protected in various ways. They must give something in return. I would not like to do anything against the railways for the sake of pushing Irish propaganda, but what I suggest should be done, and the sooner the better.
As one who has got the interest of the Irish language at heart I would like to make a few remarks, and they are these. I hope that the language will not be used as a cloak for humbug or tyranny. It is to some extent used as a cloak for humbug. There is not a soul living who can read Irish and who does not know some other language. It is used as a cloak for tyranny if it is to be thrust down people's throats by force. The language we call Irish now is as modern as Esperanto. The Irish language I learned years ago had seventeen characters. The language we are getting now has more. It is an extraordinary thing, set down in letters having no equivalent in sound. I should prefer it to be written in native characters. The people who are enforcing this amendment on us want to give us the impression that they are bi-lingually inclined. In this paper, on one side of the page you have Irish and on the other side you have English. If your eyes catch the English you cannot read the other side of the page. Irish was spoken before the age of machinery and so there are many words which it does not contain now. Many of those words, when being translated from English seem to be put through a certain process. If Senator MacLysaght could tell me what is the Irish word for engine I am sure he would say something in sound like the word "engine."
There you are. You dash it up in English letters in a confusing way. There is another point which is very much apposite. It is this. The compositing of this strange and modern language costs four times as much ——
On a point of order, are we discussing the agenda?
I do not think the Senator is out of order.
It costs four times as much to give us the left-hand side of the page as the right. The public are to pay for bilingual matter like that. It is proposed that excursion tickets are to be printed bilingually. It would be easier to have them issued in one language. In that way you would save four times the expense of an ordinary bilingual ticket. There is another point I want to make, and that is, while apparently making fun of this modern tongue I am not making fun of the Irish language. I do not agree with Mrs. Senator Wyse Power that if it were not for the Gaelic League we would not be here. The Gaelic League did its part and external circumstances did their part. Where would we be if we were depending on the propaganda of the Gaelic League? Therefore, with Senator Yeats, who was the first to propose the establishment of an academy to standardise the modern language, I intend to vote against this amendment.
I cannot repeat that I have the language at heart, because I know very little of it, but I think it is a great pity that subjects of this kind are the only subjects on which a certain amount of heat rises with certain members of the Seanad. We want to recognise and to apply Irish in a reasonable and practical manner. Personally, I am not sure that Senator MacLysaght's amendment is thoroughly practical or could be easily carried out. I was impressed by one statement of Senator Bagwell's, that it is scarcely fair to take one private company and impose conditions on other corporations and bodies in the State. At the same time I am not at all sure whether some such amendment, including the words "where practical," might not be devised. and be acceptable to the Seanad. I think it is important that the Seanad should realise that there is a certain amount of sentiment in many parts of the country. In addition to making this country bilingual, I think to a large extent the stability of this State is going to depend on making people feel that it is their own State. I do think it is a mistake to ignore the genuine feelings of the people. Where it is possible to meet those feelings without an unreasonable cost, I think we ought to endeavour to find a way to gratify them. Personally, I would like to provide that new notices such as the names of the stations should be in the two languages. At the present time some of us are learning Irish from the postal marks. Personally I am, but I find it difficult. In travelling one would pick up information from the more general notices, which are inexpensive. Senator MacLysaght's amendment could be modified so as to be made acceptable.
I think it is a great pity that we should have an amendment of this sort in a plain business Bill of this kind. It is quite evident from what Senator Yeats and Senator Gogarty said, that they are interested in the Irish language, and lots of us are interested in the fact that we know many of the inhabitants of the Free State wish to see something done about the Irish language, where it can be given effect to. A measure before the Seanad dealing with that part of the matter will get every consideration, but I think it should be considered on its own as part of the Irish language and of the methods of the introduction of the language. Some such measure could come before the House, and it could be applied, if necessary, to railways or any other business, according as the Oireachtas consider it the right thing to be done. But it is a totally different question when we are asked in a business Bill to vote on a particular amendment, the effect or the cost of which none of us really know.
Even giving Senator MacLysaght every credit for his intentions and what he means to get done, I doubt if he himself knows very much what the effect on the propagation of the Irish language the passing of this would have. Senator Bagwell has told us that the effect of it on the railways would entail a very considerable cost, and I think it is a pity that we should be called upon to say whether we are in favour or against the Irish language on such a question as this in a Bill where our vote will be decided on a matter that has nothing whatever to do with the Irish language. Senator MacLysaght may go on with this amendment, but in a strict business Bill some of us, no matter what our views on the Irish language may be, feel that in this case one has to vote for a plain ordinary business issue in a business Bill.
I should like to say that I am not voting for this amendment. Nobody can accuse me of want of sympathy with a bilingual programme for Ireland. Coming from Wales, where we boast of our own language being spread broadcast through the land, it would be almost indecent of me to raise any real difficulty to a proposal to make Ireland bilingual, but I do not like the way in which it is sought to insert this provision into the Bill. I have looked forward to the railways of Ireland forming one of the best links which may bridge the difficulty between north and south. I cannot help feeling that if we have tickets printed in Irish for Northern towns, in through routes, that it will not tend to anything like a good feeling. It is for that reason I put great stress on the inter-communication between north and south as a means of uniting the country. I cannot, therefore, support this amendment.
I do not feel the least bit ashamed of myself or sorry that I have introduced this amendment. The opposition up to now was that there was a sort of laughing at me; well, I am accustomed to that. There was something in the nature of an attempt on the part of Senator Bagwell and Senator Keane to make little of the language as being ridiculous. Senator Keane said this was premature, and when Senator Bagwell spoke of a waste of public money I would like to ask him whether there has been any protest about the way in which the Post Office has been wasting public money, if this proposition of mine is similarly a waste of money. Senator Jameson said he was much impressed by Senator Bagwell's statement that it would cost a great deal. Senator Bagwell said it would mean twice as much printing. I endeavoured to show that it would not mean twice as much printing. We would still have the one set of by-laws, and, therefore, there would be practically no extra printing at all. I only explained how the tickets would go. I forgot to mention when I was speaking before that about the year 1915 a proposition was made to print these tickets in Ireland, which are now done in England, and if we are going to print them both in Irish and in English it will certainly have that result, which I hold would be a good thing. Senator Gogarty says he has the interest of the Irish language at heart! I leave it at that. Senator Gogarty talks about printing four times as much, but all these arguments seem to be based on the question of the bilingual printing of Acts and things of that sort. I did not make any such proposition. Senator Douglas said that he would like to put in the words "where practicable," but before I make up my mind I would like to know what the Minister would say and how far he would meet the amendment, because I do not consider putting in the words "where practicable" would meet him. I do consider the whole words of the amendment as regards the scope, and the actual thing to be written up in Irish and English might certainly be met.
I might make a further suggestion that in so far as the action of the Government might bring pressure to bear in the way Senators should vote, we should leave this a free vote entirely.
I feel bound to say that the reason that I laid stress on the doubling of the amount of printing is because I quite see that the thing has to be printed in two languages. As regards there being no expense involved, I would point out that the by-laws have to be exhibited at every station. It is a document of quite an extraordinarily long character, and when printed in two languages apart from any other expenses it would involve a great amount of money.
I support the motion before the House. In rising to support it, I ask how did we come here? What has brought us here? How have we arrived in this place? I think it was by the efforts of men whose ideals were that we should have a Gaelic State, Gaelic ideals, and a Gaelic language. I do not consider that we should ever have arrived here to consider this question if we were left to the exertions of men of the type of Senator Sir John Keane or Senator Bagwell. I think we are here by virtue of the sacrifices of men who looked forward to the time when we could have Gaelic as the language of this country. I think the amendment is a logical sequence to the fact that in our Constitution Irish is regarded as the official language of the Free State. English, after all, at the present time, is taking only a secondary place to Irish, and English is only a temporary expedient of indicating our thoughts while we are getting up a knowledge of the Irish language. I was sorry to hear the speech of Senator Gogarty. I always thought he was most sympathetic to the Gaelic ideal and to the development of the Irish language. I have read Senator Yeats' works. They are written in English, but I think anything that is of value in them comes from the Gaelic inspiration, and it is consequently from the Irish, rather than the English, language he derives his fame, as it comes from what is underlying the Gaelic language and the Gaelic ideals. As to the expense of printing tickets, and that sort of thing, that is small. The propaganda work that could be done is considerable, and for that reason I think the expenses should be borne. Those who are in favour of the development of Irish, and in favour of seeing Irish the official language of the country, should, I think, support the amendment. The Welsh are supposed to be a very wide-awake and very intelligent race, and a good deal of their intelligence, it is said, comes from their being a bilingual people. An inspector of National Schools told me of a boy in a country school who was very stupid, and seemed to make no headway in the ordinary school course. He took up Irish, and after studying that language for a little while, it was found that, in the ordinary school course he made remarkable progress, which shows that the study of the National language had struck a vein in his intellect which proved not only very beneficial as regards his study of Irish, but in his study of other subjects. For these reasons I intend, if Senator MacLysaght puts this amendment, to vote for it. I think the reasons advanced against it are, if anything, anti-Irish, and certainly not calculated in any way to help the Irish language.
When voting on this amendment I think we should vote on its principle rather than on its actual wording. I agree with the suggestion that the matter should be left to a free vote of the House, without any influence from the Government. There has been a suggestion that this is, more or less, introducing Irish by compulsion. I think that charge comes very badly from those who, undoubtedly, give greater allegiance to England than they give to the Free State. Seeing that English was introduced more by compulsion than by peaceful penetration, and when one considers the methods that are being adopted in order to restore the Gaelic language, one can only come to the conclusion, in view of all the facts of history, that the methods adopted are exceedingly mild as compared with those that might be adopted if the positions were reversed. We have heard a good deal of talk about sentiment. Personally, I always take a delight in attacking the unpractical sentimentalists, but I wonder did Senator Sir John Keane take part in that wild frenzy of sentiment at the outbreak of the war with Germany? We saw the phlegmatic people across the water working themselves into a white passion over the German names in street corners, and insisting on tearing them down. They insisted on the people of St. Petersburg changing the name to Petrograd because the other name was of German origin. The same people are now jeering at the fact that the Russian Soviet have changed the name to Leningrad. Even the poor German waiters were hounded out, and English waiters got in instead. All this was done for sentiment sake. The Freedom of Dublin was conferred on Dr. Kuno Meyer for his work in connection with the Irish language. That wild sentiment caused by the war induced our City Fathers to take back the freedom they had conferred, and they received in that the whole-hearted support of the Press that were supporting the cause of the Allies. All these were ridiculous things done for sentiment, and people cannot argue that they had not a certain amount of effect. We know that a certain time ago if a man had his name in Irish on a donkey cart, he could be summoned, for it was not sufficient to have it in Irish. He should have it in English also. All this is the merest sentiment. Sentiment, as has been pointed out, has been responsible for most revolutions, and has been the mainspring from the beginning of almost every movement for the improvement of humanity.
We know all the formulæ that are being closely adhered to in order to impress on the Irish mind the fact that the Irish people were subject to England. And that was even impressed in the Prayer Book at one time. In it you had a prayer for the Royal Family. No one would imagine that the prayers in an Irish Prayer Book for the Royal Family would have much effect in Heaven, particularly in view of the way it was offered up. This was to impress on the youthful mind who was the source of power and authority to which we should look. Perhaps there is something like that in the minds of those who do not favour the revival of Irish. From a practical point of view, if this amendment were adopted, the translation of notices, rules and bye-laws would give employment to the Irish people, just as the translation of the documents we have here gives employment, and, consequently, it would encourage the study of Irish and make people perfect themselves in it. I do not know that the amendment, as it stands, would be altogether practicable. I think one of the principal objections would count in the case of tickets for excursions, and so forth, which are issued at short notice. They would require cancellation. I do not think the mover of the amendment will quibble over details, and he is relying rather on the principle of it when he confines it to permanent notices. I do not think it is of such a wide character as was indicated by Senator Bagwell. It is not going to cost an enormous amount of additional money. I would suggest to the House that we should vote upon the principle, and afterwards on the Report Stage we could go more into the detail, and an amendment more limited, if necessary, might be introduced. Let us take the principle of the amendment just as we took the principle of the amendment with regard to Irish being a compulsory subject for examination. We have already given that effect, even although the objection was raised that it would interfere with private enterprise. But to refer to the railways as private enterprise is very far fetched. The railways are a protected industry. They can only be constructed under statute, and they can be neither opened up nor closed down except by statutory authority. They have to comply with certain very stringent rules and regulations. In this Bill the railways are made more responsible to public opinion, and to talk of the railways as if they were merely huxter's shops is to entirely overstate the position.
I think those in favour of emphasising the desirability of setting up the Gaelic tongue in Ireland are quite justified in coming forward on every conceivable occasion to further the language. The language itself was eliminated by far more violent and less considerate methods, and those who are concerned with promoting the language should not be looked upon as mere harebrained enthusiasts, because it is one of the methods by which there was any revival of Irish sentiment at all. Unfortunately, I and the majority of the Seanad, are more or less ignorant of the Irish language. I would be ashamed to admit how little I know of it, but I do not want to discredit anything that might have the effect of impressing it on the people as a whole, and of creating an Irish atmosphere, and by a method of peaceful penetration gradually restoring an atmosphere, at all events, in which the Gaelic language may become the spoken language, if not the actual living, spoken language of the country. The movement has a justification by reason of the fact that Mr. Lloyd George, when he was Prime Minister of Great Britain, actually charged Ireland with not being a nation, because he said the Irish had no language of their own. If the responsible head of a British Government could make a statement like that, I think those people who are anxious to take that weapon out of his hands and the hands of his successor, are neither hare-brained people nor wild enthusiasts, and for that reason I shall certainly vote for the principle of this amendment.
I think, perhaps, the Government will be well advised in allowing us to settle this matter amongst ourselves. I do not know that it is necessary to call in their aid officially in this matter. I listened to this debate with very great interest. My recollection goes back some way in this matter, and I can remember having heard other debates upon the same subject in a different atmosphere. Certainly, it is an extremely interesting situation now to find ourselves in a position to give effect to the principle that we inculcated very many years ago. I remember a time when I was fined for having my name written in Irish upon my carts. It was not a very heavy fine, but it was a very ridiculous proceeding. Now, the wheel has gone round, and things are in a different position to-day. I have always believed in our country and our people being brought up as a bilingual people. I made many speeches on this question, and I never changed my opinion on it. I think it would be enormously for our intellectual advantage if we were a bilingual people, and I think it would be enormously to the advantage of every nation intellectually, if it set more value on the language of other countries, and in the first instance by studying its own language.
I think, on the other hand, that this question can be satisfactorily settled for the present moment if Senator MacLysaght will not press this amendment too far. There is something in the question of incurring expense, needless expenses, which will not assist the Gaelic revival in any way. Everybody in this country, or nearly everybody in this country, would be in favour of reasonable treatment of this question. There is no trouble whatever; we have proved it over and over again, in having the names of railway stations in Irish. That has been the case in Ireland for many years, and there is no reason why certain directions should not also be put up in Irish. There is no reason why the direction "nobody is to cross the line except by the bridge" and "trespassers will be prosecuted" and things of that kind should not be put up in Irish. I would be glad to do something for the revival of ancient Irish names. There is something very fascinating in Irish names and in Irish topographical dictionaries. Our present position is that most of our names are merely phonetic representations of Irish names and they mean nothing whatever. If we could have an honest translation of the names as we pronounce them it would be something, and if we could have an English translation of the real Irish equivalent we would know where we were. But most of our names mean nothing whatever. We are told that this is the "Church of the Oak" or whatever it was, or "the Pass of the Yellow Ford," and if the name is given in its proper way we could understand it. At the present moment we have things with a certain sound, but no meaning. I would be in favour, as far as could be done, of reproducing in Irish the names and educating our people as far as it could be done, on the history of our different localities, and a good deal has been done in this direction. But we should go cautiously, and not push matters too far. We must remember that we are a very litigious race. I can conceive somebody coming forward because by-laws or a consignment notice is not in Irish, and he might put the railway company to considerable expense. The general principle of Senator MacLysaght's proposal commends itself to me, but, as I say, we should not push things too far, and we should leave it to the discretion of the Ministry to see as far as possible that Gaelic should be encouraged in connection with the railway institution.
I do not want to take up more time than to say that I intend to vote for the amendment because of the principle it involves. I do not say that with much enthusiasm. There is one thing I would like to correct, and it is this. The impression might be conveyed by Senator McKean that we were here because of the exertion of the men who founded the Gaelic League and the men who speak the Irish language. I do not think that is correct. I think the brunt of the fighting was borne by men who did not speak a word of the Irish language, and that the experience of those who knew most about the fighting was that the idealists of the Gaelic League and the Gaelic language were very little good as soldiers. Therefore, I would support Senator Sir Thomas Esmonde's suggestion that something should be done to enable us to vote on the principle of the amendment, and that we should accept that, but not be committed to the words of Senator MacLysaght's amendment.
I would just like to say one word about this amendment. There has been a great effort made to get the question into such a condition that we can vote on what is called the principle involved in this amendment. I would like to know how you can possibly vote on the principle involved in this amendment without also trying to satisfy yourself that that principle can be carried into effect by any amendment you could make which would do good to the Irish language, and do no real practical harm to the Bill. Now, you cannot divorce the practical side of this question from the principle. I am sure Senator MacLysaght has done his best to put his amendment into the form in which it would be acceptable to the Seanad; do no harm to the interests of the railway company, and as far as possible carry out his design. I would very seriously ask the Seanad not to consider the principle, but the practical application of the amendment, and if it would be practicable to carry it out without considerable injury, and whether they ought to vote for it.
I rise to support the amendment. Much of the opposition that has been given to it has been on the question of the cost. Well, speaking with some knowledge of the Gaelic language, I can assure the Seanad that the cost of printing the railway tickets in both languages would be very little extra. It stands to reason, because the tickets are there, and there is no variation in the setting of the type, and when one is printed it is only a matter of repetition. So that the question of cost, which is the point that was stressed most against the amendment, and with the greatest effect, scarcely arises at all. It is regrettable that it should be necessary to bring in such an amendment. It is deplorable that the railway companies have not taken the initiative in this matter long ago. It would be a reasonable thing to do in a country that is Irish-speaking, and in many parts of which it is the only language that is understood. I assure some of the Senators that they are living very much in the clouds or very much underground if they have the view that there are so few of our people, particularly our young people, bilingual. They are absolutely out of touch with what is taking place in the country.
Now, on the question of printing there was much stress laid on that. I do not know about the conditions that obtain in Dublin, but I know that down in the country they will print you Irish or English at the same cost. There is no difficulty about the translation. There is no difficulty in reading. The people in the country have taken advantage of the educational movement that has been going on for the past quarter of a century. Some of the speakers in referring to the impracticability and undesirability of carrying this amendment spoke as if Senator MacLysaght's amendment would have the effect of ruling out the English language altogether. I may tell them that their opposition to such moderate amendments as this will bring about that very state of mind. That is what they are heading for. Defeat an amendment like this, and keep on defeating it, and the result will be like what the Minister said in speaking on another Bill elsewhere, "next time it will be the whole hog." Perhaps the next amendment you will have here will be: "If you do not know Irish learn it, and if you do not learn it, then it is the other thing."
I shall vote for this amendment, which tends to advance the Irish language and to bring it into honour in its own country. I will do so not for the sake of the language alone, which is beautiful, but for the sake of reviving in the people of the country a knowledge of our ancestors' great past, of the time when our people throughout the land spoke Irish. The revival of the language will enable the people to recall through their stories and their poems, the feats of valour, and more than that, all the untarnished sense of nobility and honour that was Ireland's glory in the past, and especially all the sense of fairness and chivalry. That is what we want the country to remember. In the days of Cuchulain they challenged Fir Fer, and combatant met combatant, and you know that the combatants who had superior arms threw them aside and fought with equal arms. In that challenge if one man had broken his sword his opponent had to break his sword, too, and fight with equal arms. In later days we have heard of the term Cothrom na Feinne, the equal weight of the Fianna, which was the war cry of the Gael everywhere in this island. Does it previal now? We want to revive that. That is the thing which this century essentially requires to revive— the ancient noble chivalrous spirit of the old times "An tan do bhadar Gaedel ann Eireann beo."
I think I am the only Senator left who has not spoken, and I rise for fear that any sinister impression might be left as to my motives. Being, as I hope, a practical man, I do think that this resolution cannot be voted for in an honest spirit. Can I take it that that resolution word for word represents your views? Personally, I am in sympathy with the sentiments expressed, but with the wording of that resolution I cannot agree, and I cannot vote for it.
As it seems incumbent that each Senator present must speak and give expression to the faith that is in him, I beg to say that I shall vote against this amendment, and for this reason. If there is one way of getting the people's backs up in the matter of the language, it is resolutions such as this. Fancy putting up a notice on a railway line in these words in Irish: "This is the way across the foot-bridge," when not 80 per cent. of the people can read the language at all, or a line of it. The only knowledge the ordinary people of the country have of the Irish language is the same as we hear in this Seanad: Tá and Níl. Now, a Railway Bill is intended for a strictly utilitarian object, and if we are going to use it as propaganda for the Irish language, I think it would be far more reasonable to say to the railway companies that they should endow scholarships or grant a certain amount of money to be spent on teaching the language in the schools. It comes to this, I feel, that this is artificial energy for the Irish language, which most of us are too lazy to give effect to. If there is any intention of this country being bilingual there were admirable opportunities in the schools and continuation classes during the last 15 years. Let us be honest. Let us admit that the people have not taken advantage of it.
Would Senator MacLysaght agree to withdraw the amendment, and bring it up on the Report Stage, and in the meantime, perhaps, a Committee of the Seanad would meet and see how far they could meet him in the matter of this amendment?
Do I understand that the suggestion is with the approval of Senator MacLysaght that the amendment is withdrawn?
I feel no disposition to withdraw the amendment unless I hear from the Minister that he is satisfied with the principle. If he were satisfied I would then certainly withdraw it, and would hope that the Government would make it more practical in the amendment they would accept. Otherwise I have to go on with the amendment which, I admit and realise, might be improved, and which I want to improve, but which I do not want to shelve altogether. If the Minister is prepared to go that far, then I would be prepared to withdraw it. If not, then I reluctantly leave it to the Seanad to vote on it.
One Senator appealed to me not to express any view, and another appeals to me to say I am in favour of it. If the amendment is to be voted on I would rather accede to the request of Senator Sir John Keane, and not give any expression to what I think about the amendment. But until I hear from Senator MacLysaght whether or not this amendment is going to be pressed, I cannot say anything that would indicate my view of it.
There must be an end of these explanations.
I think it very unfortunate that an amendment of this kind should be taken as an indication as to how the Senators feel upon this question. As certain Senators have given their views and their expressions of sympathy with the language, I must say that I am in agreement with a great deal of what has been said by these Senators, but this is a Railway Bill that we are discussing. The success or failure of this Bill will be judged upon its economic side, and not by its effect as Irish propaganda. I am in favour, as much as any member of this Seanad, of seeing this country a bilingual country, and I appreciate the value of a bilingual training for the people. I know something of a certain little Principality across the water, being married to a Welshwoman. There I have heard English and Welsh spoken equally in the towns and cities. But it was not by amendments of this description that the Welsh language has come to be in common use in that country. I must say this much, from my knowledge of the people of Wales, that what made Welsh a real, living language was the ministers of religion who taught the Scriptures in that tongue. I feel that the amendment as worded at present would do more harm than good, and if it is persisted in I shall vote against it.
It is reasonably clear that a number of members in the Seanad are quite prepared to consult with Senator MacLysaght and draw up something that would embody the principle and be acceptable to a large number. I very much hope on that clear understanding that he will withdraw the amendment.
I would agree to what Senator Douglas has said.
Do you wish for leave to withdraw the amendment and let it be brought up on the Report Stage?
That is on condition that the Minister gives some assent to the principle of it.
There is no condition attached to that. I must have this disposed of. If it is the desire of Senator MacLysaght to withdraw this amendment for the present, and have the matter discussed and brought up on Report, I would put that to the Seanad.
Yes, I would do that. The reason I have been jumping up and down is to expedite matters.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question—"That Sections 67, 68, and 69 stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.