Public Business. - Finance Bill, 1940 (Certified Money Bill)—Second Stage.

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

The main purpose of this Bill is to give continuing effect to the taxes and duties embodied in the Financial Resolutions following the Budget which have statutory effect for a limited period under the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, 1927. The principal change in taxation incorporated in the Bill is the increase of 1/- in the income tax rate, making it now 6/6 in the £. This increase is expected to produce an extra £750,000 in the current year, bringing the total estimated yield from income tax to £6,972,000. The current year's revenue estimates, of course, benefit considerably from the increased duties imposed by the Supplementary Budget of November last and embodied in the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1939. For instance the yield from customs duties in the current year is estimated to be £11,026,000 as compared with the actual sum of £10,579,000 paid into the Exchequer in 1939-40; while the yield from excise duties is expected to be £6,570,000 as compared with the actual sum of £6,339,000 paid into the Exchequer in 1939-40.

As I mention the Supplementary Budget, I should like to dissipate the idea that it was a strategical move to impose extra taxation by gradual and easy stages. There was no such sinister motive behind the Supplementary Budget. On the basis of the experience then obtained, and on the information regarding the future conditions, it was estimated that there would be a serious shrinkage of revenue for the financial year 1939-40. That we were right in our forecast, and in imposing extra taxation is borne out by the actual results. The total tax revenue for the year amounted to £26,303,000, as compared with an original estimate of £26,485,000, showing that the amount actually received was £182,000 less than the original Estimate. If the Supplementary Budget had not been introduced, the difference would have been much greater, so that the actual results fully justify its introduction.

Taxation here is now at a high level, and I do not wish to gloss over that fact. We are, however, living in critical and extraordinary times, and that being so, it can hardly be expected that taxation would keep at the ordinary level. Apart from previous existing commitments, various additional items of expenditure have been forced on us by reason of the present emergency. The provision for the Army alone is £3,355,420, as compared with Estimate provisions of £3,252,209 last year, £1,995,684 in 1938-39 and £1,595,810 in 1937-38 — showing an increase of £1,759,610 in three years. This has been accompanied by increased provision for new military barracks and works in the Estimate for public works and buildings, the total for which amounted to £977,546 in 1937-38, as compared with £1,234,765 in the current year.

Emergency conditions are also responsible for a good part of the increased provision for the Gárda Síochána, the Estimate for which is at present £1,924,554 as compared with £1,883,725 in 1937-38. The new Department of Supplies requires a provision of £9,883, and would cost much more but for the fact that most of the staff serving in it are on loan from other Departments and their parent Departments still bear their salaries. A similar remark applies to many of the staff in the Censorship Service, and to increases in the staff of the Department of Defence. There is also an additional £150,000 provided to meet the extra bonus on Civil Service salaries.

Certain economies have been, and are being, effected, but these are only sufficient to offset some of the increases just mentioned. Declining yields from the various heads of revenue forced us to increase certain rates in order to preserve the total yield. The total of various capitals and abnormal items to be defrayed from borrowing this year is £1,194,000 as compared with an estimated figure of £2,005,000 at the time of introduction of the original Budget last year. The difference of £811,000 has accordingly to be met out of current revenue, instead of being met by borrowed moneys. These various factors combined have forced upon us the necessity for increasing taxation beyond the levels that obtained this time last year. After income tax, the next increase in taxation provided in this Bill is that for sur-tax. The Finance Act of last year provided for an increase of 15 per cent. in the charge to surtax payable on 1st January, 1940, in the case of any individual whose income exceeded £8,000 and an increase of 20 per cent. is now substituted for the increase of 15 per cent. in the case of incomes exceeding £20,000.

The excise duties on cider and perry are being imposed because of the unfair competition which our small brewers are suffering from home-made cider which contains about eight per cent. proof spirit, that is, a higher percentage than is contained in porter or light beer. At the same time, in order not to diminish the margin of protection enjoyed by our cider makers, the customs duty is being increased by the same amount as the excise duty, namely, 1/- per gallon. Further relief for our small brewers is being provided by increasing the rebate per barrel from 5/- to 10/- in respect of the first 5,000 barrels brewed, provided at least 80 per cent of the cereals were malted or roasted in this country. This concession will involve a loss of £13,000 per annum to the Exchequer.

Representations were made in both the Seanad and Dáil to mitigate for the smokers of tobaccos the increased duty imposed on leaf tobacco in November last. After a full examination of the problem, it has been decided to grant a rebate of 1/4 per lb. on the quantities of cheap pipe tobaccos sold and sent out by each manufacturer. This will enable the price of such tobaccos to be reduced by 1d. per oz., and the reduction will operate as from 1st August next. This concession will cost the Exchequer about £120,000 in the present financial year. The estimates of yields from customs and excise for the current year which I mentioned earlier take account of this loss and of the other customs and excise changes to which I have just referred. It is hardly necessary for me at this stage to describe the other provisions of the Bill. A number of the sections are intended to tighten up existing revenue legislation in order to defeat various devices designed to deprive the Exchequer of taxes due to it. Some more sections again are of a relieving nature, intended to alleviate or prevent cases of hardship.

Before concluding, I wish to stress a point that I have already mentioned elsewhere. Our revenue depends on the more or less normal functioning of industry, trade and finance. A serious dislocation of any one or more of these would involve, among other consequences, a shrinkage of revenue. To mention one possibility, interference with our import trade would immediately cause a shrinkage of customs revenue and some of our industries would have to slow down considerably, if not entirely, owing to shortage of the necessary raw materials. This, again, would ultimately cause a further shrinkage of income tax. On the expenditure side, we are faced with further heavy commitments for the national defence. The prospect is a gloomy one, but, in these critical times, we must be prepared for the most unpleasant contingencies.

The power of the Seanad with regard to finance is, in effect, limited to the making of recommendations on the Committee Stage, or delaying a Bill for three weeks, which can hardly be called a power. The fact that the Constitution provides that Finance Bills must be presented to this House clearly suggests it was considered desirable that the Seanad should exercise an advisory function with regard to the financial policy of the State. The Second Stage of the Finance Bill provides one of the very few occasions when this House can express its views on economic policy generally, and that has usually been the practice here. When introducing the Budget, the Minister for Finance indicated that he based it on the assumption that this country would be able to keep out of war—at any rate, for the year under review. Since he introduced his Budget, very terrible things have been happening in Europe, and the Government has—I think very rightly—warned us as to our possible danger. Even if, as we all hope, we are spared the horrors of war, it is abundantly clear that we are likely to suffer from the economic situation which has resulted from the war to a very much greater extent than it has been felt up to the present.

If this could be regarded as a normal Budget, for a normal period or for a country reasonably certain of keeping out of hostilities, I would have a great deal of criticism to offer, particularly with regard to the effect of a 6/6 income-tax on industry and on the prices of commodities produced here. For instance, if a company with a capital of £250,000 made an assessable profit of 10 per cent. on its capital— that would be £25,000—the State would take 6/6 on the first £5,000 and 8/- on the balance, amounting in all to a sum —if I have calculated it rightly—of £9,625, out of the £25,000 assessable profit. That would make it almost impossible for a company of that size to provide reserves which would be adequate, having regard to the size of its capital, and, at the same time, to pay a 5 per cent. dividend—and I do not think anyone suggests that 5 per cent. would be an excessive dividend on industrial shares, especially when the risk is taken into consideration.

I should also like to criticise—certainly, if times were normal—the effect of a 6/6 income-tax on persons with small incomes, who have bought their houses on rent-purchase agreements during the past ten years, particularly when you take into consideration that the income-tax is paid on five-fourths of the valuation. For instance, a man who had bought his house in 1930, say, with a valuation of £24 and a head rent of £10—a fairly common instance for the type of house being built around Dublin, at any rate—would have paid £1 10s. 0d. income-tax in the year 1930-31; he now pays £6 10s. 0d., an increase of 433 per cent., which, in my opinion, is much too great for a small house owner, especially having regard to the increases which are taking place at the same time in the cost of repairs and in rates. I do not propose to develop these criticisms, as I feel that in the present circumstances it is hopeless to expect any change in taxation— in the way of lessening it—even for the purpose of correcting inequalities. Though there might be sympathy with my point of view on the part of any given Minister for Finance—not excluding the present one—it would be useless to come now and move recommendations in the hope that they would be accepted.

Almost every kind of taxation has had the effect of increasing unemployment and prices, but some actions do so much more certainly than others. We have almost a hint from the Minister to-day that the additional expenditure on defence may have to be met out of increased taxation. It is certainly obvious that it has to be found somehow or other, and, if it is decided to impose new taxation during the year, I would urge the Minister to consider all proposals for new taxation very carefully from the point of view of the effect in an increase of unemployment. The Taoiseach is reported to have said that this is no time for "business as usual", and I am inclined to agree that it is no time for what I may call "criticism as usual" of the financial policy of the Government. For my part, I do not propose to move any recommendations, though there are a number which I should like to propose under normal circumstances; and I do not propose to attempt to delay the passage of the Bill. I feel that any discussion which takes place here to-day should be devoted to the financial policy having regard to the present emergency rather than to a discussion with regard to the past, even though a great deal could be said usefully about this on other occasions.

It has been made perfectly clear that all Parties in Parliament are willing to co-operate in national defence, against the danger of invasion. I believe it is just as essential that there should be co-operation in formulating an economic policy for the duration of the emergency. To my mind, the danger to our whole economic structure as a result of the war is quite as great as the danger of our being involved in hostilities against our will. Politically, we are independent of Great Britain, but geographic and other circumstances over which largely we have had no control, have caused our economy to be closely linked up with that of Great Britain. Does anyone doubt that Great Britain is in danger of invasion? If that invasion takes place, it may result in serious dislocation of our trade relations with that country. It does not take very much imagination to see that we may have to face a very serious economic situation in the near future, for which we ought to be preparing as far as possible, with just as much energy and just as much co-operation as in the matter of defence. Almost the whole of our export trade is with Great Britain, and a very large proportion of our essential supplies come from or through Great Britain. For instance, if our coal supply were cut off many of our industries would close down in a comparatively short time.

If our normal economic relations with Great Britain were temporarily suspended, it might be possible to obtain increased supplies of essential commodities from the United States, from South America or elsewhere. If so, could we obtain the necessary shipping or the currency to pay for such supplies? If the war causes acute shortage in essential supplies, who is to get such supplies as are available? Surely it is clear that they ought to go where they can be used most effectively in the national interest. If there should be a shortage of coal for instance, for industrial purposes, surely such coal as may be available should go to those industries the continuance of which is most important to the nation as a whole, as distinct from individuals. If our farmers should have serious difficulty in disposing of their produce, something would have to be done. This could become a serious problem if agricultural exports were drastically curtailed or if the closing down of industry were seriously to reduce the purchasing power of our people.

Taking the long view, we could not afford to allow agriculture—the most important part of our national economy —to suffer heavy losses with consequent reduction in future agricultural production. Some method would have to be found promptly to deal with such a situation, if it should occur, either by State purchase and storage, or by some other way. These and other urgent questions may have to be answered in the near future, and answered not only promptly but in such a way as will command the willing support of the people as far as possible. To ensure this, close co-operation between Parties is, to my mind, essential.

I do not want to be an alarmist. The worst probably will not happen, but a wise nation faces possibilities and prepares for them without panic or without undue alarm. A realisation that there is economic danger, just as much as there is danger to our national independence, will check both stupid optimism and undue pessimism if the people feel that it is being prepared for by the best men available in our country. I can foresee the possibility of our having to revise our whole economic policy and to do it promptly. To do so effectively will need the co-operation, not only of all Parties, but of all sections of the people. Our stocks of certain commodities are, I believe, lower than they should be owing to the want of any scheme of war risk insurance. If this is so, it cannot be helped now, and there is no use crying over spilt milk. I have already raised this matter and have been assured that the Government are considering it, but while I recognise the difficulties and the desire for careful consideration, I must point out again that the matter is urgent.

I have only mentioned a few of the economic problems. I could indicate many other matters which might require prompt action if we should be unable to sell our products or to obtain supplies from Great Britain. I doubt very much if our normal Governmental machine is suitable to deal with a situation such as we may have to face. In the ordinary way, proposals are submitted to various officials who examine them from every possible angle and when the Minister acts, he does so, as a rule, after the pros and cons have been put before him by experienced officials. Afterwards, there is Parliamentary discussion and examination of actual proposals.

This system does not always work perfectly but, taken as a whole, it is excellent in normal times and the delay, which is an inseparable part of it, has often the effect of preventing serious errors being made. But in this time of emergency, it will not work, as prompt action is essential. A Government may then have to act without the usual extended examination by civil servants, and it is, therefore, of great importance that it should have the opinion of the ablest and most experienced men in Parliament when making such decisions.

In my opinion we must devise some methods for prompt action, particularly in economic matters, during the time of emergency, even at the risk of some mistakes. Our present system is too slow. To my own knowledge, proposals were submitted five months ago by an important industry which would, in the opinion of all the companies affected, have enabled the industry to increase its supplies of raw material. The Minister concerned, after examination, agreed to accept the proposals, but owing to the slowness of our machine, action has not yet been taken. I will not give details because this is no time for criticism of that kind and also because I do not blame any individual. I blame the machine, or rather our system, for the delay which it now seems may prove very serious for the industry concerned.

The idea of a coalition Government does not appeal to me in times which are reasonably normal, as I recognise that the ablest men in disagreement with each other may be much less effective in practice than less able men who are united. I have, however, come to the conclusion that the economic emergency which we may have to face in the near future can only be met in the best way by a National Government, including representatives of as many Parties and points of view as practicable. I believe the time has come for the formation of a National Government for the duration of the emergency. It should be clearly understood that it was for the duration of the emergency only and that when times approached normality again, we would revert to ordinary Parliamentary conditions. For my part, I would even give the present Government the same guarantee of reinstatement as is given to men who join the Army for the period of the emergency. I am satisfied that there is quite enough unity of purpose to do the best for Ireland without regard to Party considerations to enable a National Government to function successfully, and I believe it would unite our people in the facing of difficulties to an extent not possible under a Party Government.

Should this country be invaded or should our economic structure be crippled by the invasion of the neighbouring country, I believe decisions would have to be made and action taken for which it would be unfair and unwise to place all responsibility on the leaders of one political Party. The Taoiseach indicated—I think I am correct in my understanding of him— that all the resources of the nation might have to be placed under the direction of the Government. As Senators are aware, that has happened elsewhere. It may be necessary here. If so, the action that might have to be taken might be drastic in character and the responsibilities, to my mind, should be shared by all and the possibility of emergency measures being made the grounds of later Party controversy should be removed. In advocating a National Government—I do so because I am greatly impressed by the seriousness of the position and its possible serious reactions on the economic condition of the country with which we are concerned here to-day— I speak solely on my own responsibility. I have not consulted any of the political Parties either in this House or in the Dáil, but I honestly believe that the views I am expressing are those of a large number of people in this country.

The only things that really matter during the crisis which we are facing are those about which we can, and must be, united. We need strong national leadership and I believe our people, taken as a whole, would loyally follow a united leadership at this time. Although I am strongly of opinion that a National Government is desirable, I would not favour or be a party to any attempt to force the hands of the present Government. It has a majority in the Dáil, and any proposal for a National Government must come from it. The details would have to be agreed in conference with other Parties. If the members of the present Government cannot see their way to propose the creation of a National Government, I realise that it is their responsibility alone and, although I would regard it as a second best, I believe every section of the people should continue to co-operate with them and give every assistance in all matters necessary to deal with the emergency.

There is one other aspect of this question which should not be overlooked. Our fellow-countrymen in the Six Counties are facing economic danger as great, or possibly greater, than we are. I can foresee a situation in which the only hope for Ireland would be for North and South to sink their differences, at any rate for the duration of the crisis, and work together to save our people as far as it is possible to do so. I do not know whether or not this is possible, but what seems impossible in normal circumstances often becomes quite possible in times of danger. I know there are many sane and patriotic men and women in the Six Counties who would sacrifice a great deal for the sake of the common good. Though I fully recognise the difficulty, I refuse to believe that, in a real emergency and faced with national danger, it would be impossible to find a basis under which North and South could co-operate closely, at least in economic matters. I am convinced that the first step in this direction would be the formation of a National Government in this part of Ireland—a Government as representative as we can make it.

I am inclined to agree with Senator Douglas that this is not a time for normal criticism. Certainly, however, normally, the intention in bringing a Finance Bill, in its Second Stage, before a House like this is to enable the House to discuss the various sins of the Government in financial, economic and even other matters. That, Sir, in this particular case, would be a lengthy matter, and I shall content myself with putting merely one point. The Minister for Finance agreed that the burden that is imposed by this Bill is a very great burden indeed. He said that taxation was not at ordinary levels and that these were critical and difficult times. These are indeed critical and difficult times, but I think it must be pointed out that the consistent policy of the Minister's Government since it came into office—not in difficult and critical times—was, and always has been, to increase the burden not only of central taxation but also the burden imposed on taxpayers by local bodies.

This Finance Bill, or Budget, is certainly coming in in abnormal times, and it does contain expenditure dealing with the present emergency; but before this Budget came in, and before the emergency arose, we were launched out upon a career of increasing expenditure and, therefore, of increasing taxation, and one other difficulty at the moment, in the present emergency, is that before the emergency started we were at a very high level of taxation, and that the various Ministers for Finance had already robbed various hen roosts which might have been of use to us now. I think, too, that the complete picture for 1941 is not in this Budget. I hope I understood the Minister rightly, but I think he said that the new expenditures arising out of certain developments, which have taken place quite recently, are not provided for in this Bill. I think that the whole story of the 1940-41 expenditure cannot be found within the four corners of this particular Bill at all, because it was framed before certain expenditure was decided upon, and if you like, I admit, unanimously decided upon, in the other House. Therefore, the burdens that we are called upon to bear will be greater still than what appears in this Bill.

The Bill contains only one innovation, I think, and that is the innovation which makes liable to income-tax money subscribed to a charity over a period of years, under a promise or bond. That realises £13,000, and it seems to me to be a rather mean innovation. Formerly, a person could subscribe £50 a year for a period, let us say, and he would not be liable for income-tax on that amount subscribed to a charity; but he will now require to have £75 in order to make the charity richer by £50. Even in our emergency, and considering the amount of money in the Budget, the getting of £13,000 in that way seems to me to be rather petty.

Now, I agree with Senator Douglas that our difficulties may prove to be rather more economic than military. There may be a combination of military and economic difficulties, but I think that in the end they will prove to be much more of an economic character than of a military character, and I do not know whether any plans have been made by the Government to deal with that position. Senator Douglas indicated a number of problems and he indicated, as one solution, that the matter should be dealt with by a Coalition Government. I think he said "National Government", and I apologise to him if I have misquoted him, but I do not think it makes much difference what you call it, because nearly everybody knows, or thinks he knows, what it means. Now, that is a matter which I do not propose to discuss at length, except to say this: that none of our problems, and no problems of any country, can be solved by any form of make-believe, and if a National Government merely means that two or three Parties, no one of which has a solution for the problems to be solved, come together under the cloak of a National Government without any agreement between themselves as to the policy they desire to pursue or the remedies they desire to apply, then that may very well be merely a process of deceiving themselves in the first place and of deceiving the people in the second place. In connection with any form of National Government there must be an element of reality. I shall put it like this. This is a matter that has been discussed at some length by a great many people outside, and I remember being casually asked by a man whom I met in a shop: "Why cannot you all sit down together on this matter?" I replied: "There is no trouble sitting down together, but when you sit down together it must be remembered that you have got to get up sometime and go somewhere and also to know where you are going; and if some people want to go to Drumcondra and others want to go to Rathfarnham, then, obviously, you cannot all go together." That is the great difficulty. National Governments should not be set up merely as a facade or front in order to give the impression that something is being done.

Those who go into such a Government must have a substantial measure of agreement, must have a policy and be agreed upon it—not perhaps, in all its details, but certainly with regard to its broad outlines for dealing with the situation. You can have National Governments—and there have been such at times—that, in desperate situations, have come together merely in order to arrange a surrender. If a National Government is not based on agreement with regard to policy and with regard to a solution of the problems facing the nation, then such a Government would not provide a solution at all, and would be merely a pretence which would not carry us any farther.

Senator Douglas exercised his right, of course, to raise this matter himself to-day. As I say, I was not prepared to make any speech upon it, but that does seem to me to be one of the things which everybody must keep in his mind. I think there is nobody in this House who does not realise the seriousness of the situation or who would allow his own personal feelings or anything of that nature to stand in the way of doing the best for the country, but there must be some clear notion of what it is one wants to do before one undertakes to do it in the company of any group of people; and certainly any Government, whether it is a Government of one Party or a National Government, will have problems in plenty to face.

Senator Douglas dealt with the problem of our fellow-countrymen in the Six Counties. There, again, there are very grievous difficulties. It would not do any good to retail them now, but coming back to the Finance Bill itself, I say that it is not a separate measure having special characteristics in relation to this emergency. It is a continuation of a long policy of high expenditure and high taxation, reaching in this particular year, owing to the emergency, an extraordinary level, and not showing within its terms, on this particular occasion, the expenditure which must be met before the end even of the present financial year.

I think, Sir, that this is one of the few opportunities the Seanad has of discussing Government policy and ranging over the whole matter of Government policy. In regard to the Bill itself it appears to me that there is only one section on which I can congratulate the Minister, and that is Section 17. Outside that, I do not think there is anything on which I could congratulate the Minister. I do not quite know what the Minister or the Government regard as emergency, because, notwithstanding that, on the 1st June, matters were both immediate and imminent, 19 days have now passed and, so far as we can see, this emergency is being met very much in the way that a boy on a farm takes a horse and cart to the creamery. No way whatever of meeting the emergency has been shown. This particular Budget is just a camouflage of the actual financial position. It is clear that it does not represent what is really the case and that we are going on with our expenditure, in spite of the emergency, exactly as we have been going on for the last seven years. One would have thought that when we had this very serious emergency, some attempt would have been made, as everybody in the country has urged the Government, to make some economies, but, in spite of that, we start with our £5,000,000 for education. That expenditure has been going on for a number of years—it is not merely a question of £5,000,000 now. If we were getting any results, any real results, from it one would be grateful because those results would show themselves in national uplift, in the standard of living and the greater knowledge which could be applied to the production of national wealth.

But that is not so, Sir. I came across, only the other day, a very clear example of some of the results of all our education in this country among the young people. There was a very recent examination for the Great Southern Railways. People will hardly credit the figures which I am going to give to the House. This is an ordinary, what you might call an elementary commercial examination, which covers Irish, English, mathematics, algebra and writing—very little more. People who sit for it are boys who are just over 16 and under 18. The results of the examination are almost incredible. One must assume that the candidates were put forward as being, probably, the best of their type and because it was thought they had some chance of success. There were 811 candidates, and of that number only 47 reached the standard of 60 per cent., while 623 got under 49 per cent. Finally, the examiner reported that, although 100 marks were given for writing, the writing was so bad that he could barely mark very many of the candidates' papers at all. That means that whatever is being done—I do not suggest any particular reason—the whole thing must be wrong. Year after year, we are wasting money—we must be wasting millions on the education of our young people—which would be available for other purposes and there would not be any necessity for this increased taxation which in the emergency the Minister is now asking the House to agree to.

The next point, Sir, concerns an extraordinary thing that is happening in this country. There is work to be done by agricultural workers, and just as in other harvests, in this particular harvest, when all the farmers are busy, men are asked to go on relief works if they are drawing the dole and, as is well known to everybody, to do completely uneconomic forms of labour from the national point of view. Surely, Sir, it would be better, instead of having men on relief works in harvest time when everybody is pressed for time—fortunately, we have had remarkable weather this year—to shut down the relief works? If you are going to expend money, send those men free to the farmers to work for them.

Finally, I have a few words to say about Army expenditure. Again, I do not deal only with this emergency but I deal with what has been happening during the last few years and which has acutely forced up taxation and expenditure in this country. Two years ago, there were very few people who had not seen signs, if they did not agree, that this war was going to come along in Europe. At any rate, they could see perfectly well that it was much wiser to be prepared for eventualities than to wait until those eventualities came to pass. If they did not come to pass, so much the better. Other people have been just as unfortunate as we have, but that is no excuse whatever for us.

Two years ago, I wrote to the Minister for Defence and asked him to bring in, on the flood tide of the recent election, some form of national registration which would insist on certain people, who could be drawn by ballot or any other system he liked, taking military training throughout the country. I gathered that this would have the following effect: first of all, it would bring all classes in the country together. The result would be that there would be a trained reserve of an adequate number distributed all over the country and that it would be there available at a moment's notice in case of an emergency such as, apparently, has occurred at present.

If this were run on the Continental system, on exactly the same lines as the French soldier serves at his franc a day, there would be an enormous saving to the Exchequer, which, by now, would have run into millions; and you would have had exactly the same result, and the young men would be disciplined, and, much more, they would realise throughout the country what they do not realise to-day—their responsibility and national obligations. Instead of that, now, we are still broadcasting in an emergency which has already lasted for 19 days. We are broadcasting and having public meetings in order to collect together 70,000 young men, who cannot possibly be of any use whatsoever if an emergency occurs within a short time, or even a long time. I think the Government policy has been terribly to blame for this. A great many people must be laughing over it elsewhere, and, really, if it were not so serious for the country itself, it would be a laugh to us, too.

All this money could have been saved and what I suggest is that that expenditure is going on now without any result. When you recollect the earlier achievements of the Government which preceded the present Administration, which kept the figure down to a £20,000,000 mark, and what is more, paid out of income for the damage done in the civil war, it is a regrettable thing that some realisation of facts could not be brought home to the present Administration.

As has already been mentioned by other speakers, it is usual when a Bill of this kind comes before this House for Senators to express their opinion of Government policy. One would not even be surprised, even now, if people who feel very keenly on various matters should voice their opinion. I personally would not see anything wrong in that. I think it is a good thing that we should do that. I believe that we could carry a little bit too far the idea that we should not meet the present situation with business as usual. I think we are inclined to swing too far in the other direction, and I think that rather than fly off at a tangent, as some people are inclined to do, and run away with the idea that we are up against a hurricane, we should keep a little bit nearer to the ground and realise that while we are at the present time faced with a very serious emergency, the time will come when that emergency has passed and when it will be necessary for us to make provision to meet post-war conditions. I think it is very important that that should be stressed, and I think it is very important also that the Government, in their anxiety to deal with the present situation, should not overlook the possibilities of what will come when the war is over or when the present emergency passes.

I think it is very unfortunate that Senator The McGillycuddy should take up the attitude that he adopted. I think it is only reasonable that any Irishman should resent his statement. I hope he did not mean it in the only way that any normal human being could interpret it. He said we started off facing this emergency 19 days ago, on the 1st June, and after 19 days had passed, the only conclusion he could come to was that the Government were handling the situation like a boy on a farm taking an ass and cart to the creamery. That might sound funny to Senator The McGillycuddy. I notice that he is amused, but I can assure him that it does not sound a bit funny to the average person in this country. The boys who are driving donkeys to the creamery are doing very important work. Some of the present Ministers have in their own time driven donkeys to the creamery, and it still has to be proved that it is any disadvantage or any disqualification for any man, no matter what walk of life he enters, that he has at one time driven a donkey to the creamery. I suppose that Senator The McGillycuddy will get up and say that he did not mean anything of the kind.

It is the question of speed which I had in mind. I have driven a cart to the creamery myself.

On the question of speed, it may not be a good thing to try to go too fast, and people have got into more difficulties, and will in future, by rushing than by taking things calmly, and moving along deliberately on considered lines. Senator The McGillycuddy also dealt with this question of people going around the country trying to mobilise 70,000 men who, he said, could not possibly be of any use whatever, and he said that people must be laughing at us. People may be laughing at us. I do not know, and I do not care. But I would like to know where the people are now who are in a position to laugh at anybody. They may have laughed at us a month ago, a year ago, or 20 years ago, but I can assure Senator The McGillycuddy that they are too busy minding their own business to laugh at anybody to-day. That goes for everybody. On this question of defence, and of going around the country trying to mobilise 70,000 men who, in the opinion of Senator The McGillycuddy, could not possibly be regarded as of any use, I think it would be far more becoming if Senator The McGillycuddy, or any other Senator, were to join the various people who are trying to mobilise these men and give the men every possible encouragement to join the national forces, and to do whatever they can in their own way to meet anything that may come along.

The Senator knows perfectly well that they will not be taken.

The Senator knows that they will be taken, that they are being taken, and that they are necessary.

The Senator knows exactly the opposite—that they will not be taken.

I think there is a misunderstanding. I think that Senator Quirke is not suggesting that Senator The McGillycuddy should join up but that he should encourage the young men to join up. I think Senator The McGillycuddy is encouraging them.

Senator Hayes seems to be the only one on the Opposition who is able to interpret what I say. Senator Crosbie thought that I was suggesting that Senator The McGillycuddy should join up when he says that he would not be taken.

I am including all Senators.

All Senators, I agree. But there are not 70,000 Senators, thank God. I was talking about the young men of the country and the middle-aged men of the country who can definitely be of use. If we are to hold up as an example what they do in other countries, we find that in other countries they are arming the women, and still we are told that the men in this country, most of whom have already been trained in arms and have been trained to fight, are no use at all. That kind of talk is ridiculous and very harmful. We, in this House, or anywhere else that we get the opportunity, should encourage those men, young men, middle-aged and old men, in every way possible to join up and to do what is expected of them in this emergency. It is a very bad policy, I think, to try to create the impression that because men have not been in training for the last six months or 12 months that they would be of no use. That is entirely wrong, and the people who are in a position to know better than we, believe that these men can be very useful. In fact, I gather that since the reservists were called up, men who were in the previous Free State Army and in the I.R.A. are considered as very valuable forces at the present time.

Be that as it may, what I really want to convey is that rather than criticise the Army or criticise the Government for its expenditure on the Army at the present time, our attitude should be to encourage the Army in every way, to say to the Minister, if you like: "Try to extract money for the Army as painlessly as you can, but get the money anyhow, no matter where it comes from." There is no use in our talking here about economy. Economy in the present situation may be very bad business, and when this situation has passed, if anything is neglected in the matter of getting proper equipment or proper training or proper accommodation for our Army, we might all be then in a very fine position to say to the Minister: "Why did not you tell us what the situation was or ask us for more money? We would have been quite agreeable to let you have it."

On the question of a national government, I am inclined to agree with Senator Hayes. I can see no hope whatever from what is called a national or coalition government. That has been tried in other countries and, as far as I know, with very little success. As Senator Hayes has pointed out, before people can work together they must have some sort of agreed policy and, in my opinion, before people go in to form a government there must be an agreed policy, and it would not help matters in the least to coalesce people who differ on very important issues. As I pointed out already, we must carry on, and, thank God, we have had more unity here since this war started than ever before. We have the representatives of the various political parties sitting around a table, and, while they may have differences, they can agree and have agreed on one thing, namely, that there must be national unity for the defence of the country in the present crisis. I think it very regrettable that anybody should try to throw a monkey wrench into the works.

Everything possible should be done to encourage recruitment, to encourage the people to stand behind the Army and to encourage the Government to do everything they can to make that Army as perfect as possible in the present circumstances. If that cannot be done with the present Government, it perhaps could be done by a change of Government, but I do not think that things could possibly be improved by the infusion of any new elements into the Government. My own opinion, expressed here before, is that we have a national government. If this Government is not a national government, I do not know what the words mean. Senator Hayes apologised to Senator Douglas for calling it a coalition government. A coalition government is a different thing from a national government. Senator Hayes laughs.

No wonder.

If the present Government is not a national government, I do not know in what way you can hope to get a national government. With the majority which the present Government have, if they do not represent the overwhelming majority of the people, there is no use in talking about national governments at all.

I want to refer to the last matter of which Senator Quirke spoke. I quite agree that a national government is not necessarily the same as a coalition government, but he seemed to imply that the essence of a national government was that it had the support of the majority in the country. It is nothing of the sort. I maintain that our present Government is a national government because it is the legitimate receptacle of authority. It is either a national government, or it is not a government at all on that basis. It has nothing whatever to do with majorities or anything of the kind, but that is a little point which, by some sort of personal idiosyncrasy, I am never able to pass over.

With regard to Senator Quirke and Senator The McGillycuddy I am rather bewildered. The situation may have changed since, but I understood that the Government wanted an increase in the regular formations of the Army of in or about 17,000 men. If that is a fact, it is quite evident that although Senator Quirke talks as though it were vitally necessary at this moment that we should all go out and get every man, woman and child, so far as I could judge by his remarks, to go into the regular formations of the Army, that is not what the Government wants, as I understand it.

I never suggested that.

That is what I understood from the Senator's reference to Senator The McGillycuddy. There is no doubt that a great number of the people think that that is the case.

In fact, I think it should be highly dangerous if many people whom I know were taken into the Army.

That is not the point. The Government want an additional 17,000 men in the regular formations, but, apart from that, there is the civilian security force. I believe that there is no limit to the number to be recruited to this force. When Senator Crosbie interrupts Senator Quirke, it is abundantly clear that he is talking about the regular formations of the Army when he said that they would not be taken in. Surely that is the experience of everybody? I have been harassed for the last week by people coming to me, phoning to me and writing to me, and saying that they understand that the Government wants every man in, offering their services, and asking what they are to do. I understand, and I am ready to be corrected by the Minister, that at the moment, with regard to the regular formations of the Army, the Government is aspiring to only an additional 17,000 men. I personally wish that were made clear because young men are thinking of giving up their careers. They feel a sense of duty and think that they are bound to answer the Government's call, to go into the regular formations of the Army and I do not think that is what the Government wants.

In this time of emergency and crisis, it is very difficult to discuss this Bill in the ordinary way. I quite agree that when the earth is tottering under our feet, it is not an easy matter for us to tell the Government exactly what path it is to follow. I also quite agree that the Government itself, in the light of new circumstances, may have, from day to day, to change its policy, and I also recognise that we in the Opposition, when all this is over, can very easily point out all sorts of mistakes made during this time and that that might be done in a very unfair way because, in a time like this, when nothing is stable, you cannot build with any guarantee that what you build will be there to be built on tomorrow. It is very easy to be wise after the event, but in this country I think certain things are bad in tendency, though I do not propose to stress them very much.

There is this very word "emergency". This Government and its predecessor acted from the beginning on the assumption that there is a very special situation in the country. In 1927, arising out of the civil war, the strength of the Army and the expenditure upon it were regarded as abnormal, although the specific civil war had ended in April, 1923. In 1932, a Budget was brought in. It was what was called an ordinary Budget, and then there was a sort of emergency Budget following it, because things were quite abnormal. Everyone of us had his post cluttered up practically every day with emergency powers orders under a Bill passed in 1933 or 1934, and it does seem to me that not only this Government, but the Government in every country, has been assuming all the time that things are abnormal. When we initiated the Shannon scheme, we treated it as a capital expenditure. It was one of the few cases where I think it was legitimate, because the whole conception of it was that it was a capital expenditure which would produce something constructive and which would, over a period of years, pay interest and sinking fund until that capital expenditure was repaid.

Also, inasmuch as there is a certain amount of national debt, and as soon as you acquire national debt, you begin paying it back, I can conceive that the Government might argue that they are not only running the State at the moment but also paying debts accumulated in past years; but what has happened in the last eight years, and, if you like, since the State came into existence, is that the Government has, year after year, borrowed money, and borrowed money greater in amount than the actual amount it was paying in respect of a previous debt in interest and sinking fund; that is to say, the Government is taxing not only the people of this time but also future generations, and it means that you have to reach a stage where the people will have to be content with less than they have now, because we are living at present by pawning things which have not yet come into existence. We are putting in pawn the productive value of the labour of people in future years. In those future years, these people will have to live and they will have to pay the cost of living, the cost of government and accumulated debts, that is to say, unless they work harder and produce much more than we are producing now, they must accept a lower standard of living. Meanwhile, when you have the people of the country used to living on a particular standard, you will find it much harder to get them down to live on what they produce, and on rather less than what they produce, because out of it they will have to pay debts.

With regard to the matter of charity to which Senator Hayes referred, if you talk to anybody in the country, he will tell you that this continued taking over of extra business by the Government is becoming impossible, and the Government members themselves will eminently agree with that, but if you examine what that means, if you ask somebody why in the world we should have this blight of social services which are such an affliction in this country, he will tell you that nobody is going to provide them but the Government, because, if you leave it to public charity, nothing will be done. As Senator Hayes said, if a man proposes to give £50 a year to public charity, he finds that he has to give £75, because the Government is going to take £25 of it. It does not matter whether the figures are exact or not. Naturally, the feeling usually is: "If the Government is going to take so much of my income, why should I give to charity? The Government should look after that." Consequently, I hear people saying, when beggars come along, that the Government should be charitable towards these people and that they should not come to them. From every point of view, it is desirable that the people in this country should act through a spirit of charity to relieve distress. Their help should be given as an act of charity rather than under the coercive control of the Government. Here the Government is definitely going out of its way to prevent that and is discouraging the practice of charity. When somebody does something charitable they say: "That is not your business." The good-will and charitable disposition of the people is meeting difficulties in the State, yet the Government is taking that disposition away, and has discouraged the practice of charity in that way.

One notices that periods of emergencies become perpetual in this country. As in so many other countries, when you have a period of dire emergency, there can be no question of limiting Government control or Government expenditure. When, however, the Government has got a bit nearer to normality, the fact is that it still continues the increased degree of taxation and expenditure which was imposed during the emergency. The taxation of countries since the last war —per head or proportionately to national production — is enormously higher than it was before the last war; and I have no doubt that the taxation after the Napoleonic wars was much higher than it was before them. The taxpayer has to put his hand in his pocket to pay out money to Governments, but higher taxation is in itself necessarily an evil. It is bad for the whole people of the country and not bad merely for the financial interests.

Turning to Part III of the Bill— Death Duties—the Government is taking, as I calculate it, no less than one-third annually of all that the people produce by their labour. If you take the national income of the people—I should say it is something considerably less in latter years than £150,000,000 a year—you will find that the Government is spending something in the neighbourhood of £35,000,000 a year. That means that the Government seized roughly one-third of the total production. It lands the country into further debt by constant borrowing. Regarding these death duties, I do not expect the Minister to have all sorts of facts at hand now, but it may be said firstly that this particular tax is based upon a most immoral assumption that a man has an interest only in himself, or has a lesser interest in his family. Anybody who is moving amongst the normal people knows that, ordinarily, a man is prepared to suffer any amount of hardship himself, and is very much less inclined to allow that suffering to be imposed upon his children. The basis on which death duties depend is that after a man dies, the Government can seize anything they like and spend it. If a man dies worth £1,000,000, he did not acquire that in his lifetime. Very often such a man belongs to a family which owned large areas in past centuries. If he leaves £1,000,000, does anybody think that if the Government took that, his son—or some other man's son, at any rate— would have £1,000,000 to pay death duties on it afterwards?

There was a definite class of wealthy people in this country and in other countries under a condition of great stability and at a time when income-tax did not exist and when there were no death duties to be paid. Every time a person owning considerable capital dies now, the Government takes a considerable portion of it. I remember one particular person who had to pay over £140,000 out of his inheritance. When that man comes to die he will not have the same amount —he will not increase his capital to the extent that he will be able to pay that amount. The time is gone when men made easy fortunes as they did in England during the industrial revival of the nineteenth century and in the American industrial revival of the latter portion of the nineteenth century. When the Minister estimates how much he is going to get out of death duties this year, he is actually arranging to spend money which will not be available in future years; he is not only taking away the people's capital but destroying the means of taxation in future years.

I have consistently argued that, in the present emergency, the Government should take the fullest power and use it with prudence and wisdom. However, apart from the present emergency—and I plead guilty to it, also, when the Fine Gael Government was in power—the Government has increased the national debt, and that means putting the future in pawn and demands of a future generation—if the country is only producing the same amount as at the moment—that they shall accept a lower standard of living. The Government is seizing capital moneys and spending them within the 12 months.

Another defect of this type of taxation is a discouragement of thrift. Before the present emergency arose, and if the taxation in this and in other countries were down to about what it was in 1911, I could quite agree that unless the habit of thrift were amongst the people they might have been spending all the residue that remained after paying taxation. To increase suddenly the amount of taxation now would present difficulties. Actually, the forms of taxation we have are all calculated to discourage thrift. When there was a condition in which thrift was more encouraged or less discouraged, the people did exercise the virtue of thrift. Out of their savings of past times the Government is now making up its annual expenditure.

Whatever mental reservations one may have, one recognises that there is a National Government, that is to say, a legitimate Government, having received from above and not from below the legitimate authority to govern in this country and responsible for the promotion of the common good. I think the powers taken by the Government have to be conditioned by the existing circumstances of any time. Consequently, I would not lay down any hard and fast law, valid for all ages and under all circumstances, as to the limit of Government power. As I have said, I have consistently argued that the Government should take enormous powers to itself in this emergency and should decide how far they will exercise them, as the circumstances change from day to day. As always happened with regard to previous emergencies, the present emergency has been made, unfortunately, an opportunity to increase enormously the Government expenditure and other services. It is going to create a habit of mind which will lead definitely to higher increases.

We do not know what the position will be when this emergency is over but it should not be supposed that we will immediately slip back to normality. In 1927 the Army in this country was costing a tremendous amount, but that was inevitable, arising out of a minor affair in 1922-23, and this emergency is also going to cost us a tremendous amount and will require a lower standard of living for many years to come. I am intruding in this debate just now to try to remind the House that with the degree of taxation before this emergency, with all these fantastic social services and everybody talking about his rights to the money in other peoples' pockets or the land belonging to other people, we are not going to have satisfaction and content until all this is done away with and until the Government says that it is going to institute a regime of justice under which a man is going to get a fair price for his labour and that if a man does not labour, when he is physically able to do so, he has no right whatever to the fruits of another man's labour. If the Government does that, then it will find that an enormous amount of its present activities are completely unnecessary.

Last week I heard people here talk of this as a vocational body. Of course it is not, and the fact that this Bill is before us indicates that it is not a vocational body. People have talked as if a vocational body were going to make for some greater totalitarian functions than the Government has at the moment. The whole idea of vocationalism, as I see it, is that the Government should mind its own business and let the people mind their business. When the Government confines itself to its own business, a great number of the present Departments will disappear, the work of other Departments will diminish, and taxation, in consequence, will diminish. I am quite ready to vote any money they require to ensure the safety of the country. At the same time, Senator The McGillycuddy has referred to the cost of education in this country as reaching the very high sum of £5,000,000. I am completely convinced that half of that money might as well be poured down the drain because it is serving no useful purpose. Everybody here, or almost everybody, is in the habit of saying that he is ready to pay anything for education. We may be, but if we are going to take money in that way out of the pockets of the people, we should see that they are getting fair value for their money, and I say we are not getting value for that £5,000,000. I referred on previous occasions to other Departments which are costing the people large sums of money. People have to sacrifice to the Government a large part of the fruits of their labour, which rightfully belongs to themselves, for maintaining Departments which are more harmful than beneficial. I believe the Land Commission, as it is at the moment, does more harm than good. It has kept alive what I might call a moral sore in this country. People must recognise that what others have inherited, or what they have earned by the fruits of their labour, legitimately belongs to them. At the present moment, as long as the Land Commission operates as it does, a man who looks at another man's farm thinks it is the duty of the Government to take that farm and give it to him. Another Department whose disappearance would benefit the country, or the expenditure on which might as profitably be poured down the drain because of the harm it has done, is the Department of Industry and Commerce. If, during the past eight years, that Department had not existed, the bulk of the people would have been better off. At the present moment, I am ready to vote any money the Government wants and any degree of taxation it wants, because the Government has a certain responsibility and we must hope that it has the necessary prudence and wisdom to spend that money usefully, to protect the country in the present emergency.

In times like these I find a certain difficulty, which I imagine is not peculiar to me, in focussing my mind on ordinary subjects, on such subjects, for example, as the philosophy of death duties with which Senator Fitzgerald was dealing just now. The only sort of thing that I can bring my mind to reflect upon, or that I feel any inclination to speak of, is whether we are doing the very best we can in a political way, in a military way, in an economic way, to fit ourselves to deal with the problems that beset us and the dangers that face us. It was a considerable disappointment to me that the Minister did not take the opportunity that was offered to him to-day, by the occasion of the introduction of the Finance Bill here, to give us an account of what the Government are thinking and doing with regard to the financial and economic difficulties they are called upon to face. Had he done so, I think he would have given us an opportunity for a very fruitful discussion. As it is, I, at any rate, do not feel inclined to say more than a comparatively few words.

As regards political preparations for the difficulties with which we have to deal, I think that Senator Douglas touched upon one of the most important here to-day when he referred to the desirability, as he considered it, of forming a national government. It is a subject upon which I myself have frequently spoken and written before now, and I wish to express my agreement with Senator Dougla's remarks. I do not know what the proper name to be given to the sort of government that I have in mind is, whether it is proper to call it a national government, a coalition government, a government of all talents or a non-party government, but I know very well what I want to see. I want to see a government composed of the ablest men that can be got in this country for performing the various tasks of the various Ministries without distinction of Party. That is what I want to see, and I believe it is vitally important that we should have it in the present circumstances. There is not such a surplus of first-class ability in this country that we can afford to have any of it hanging about doing nothing or performing a purely critical rôle.

It is suggested that there is an element of discord in a Government which is composed of people drawn from different Parties, because it is assumed that there is some difference of principle between them which is going to lead to trouble. I ask every Senator to consider in all sincerity, within himself, what difference of principle exists in relation to what we call the present emergency, or in relation to this period of war danger that lies ahead. If you tell me that one Party is in favour of neutrality and another not, of course that would form a very considerable barrier between them; but, as far as I know, there is substantial agreement between the Parties as to the policy the country ought to pursue. I do not know any difference of political outlook, economic outlook, or outlook about military affairs that could prevent members of the Front Bench of the Opposition, or of the Labour Party, from working harmoniously with members of the existing Government.

I have absolutely no shadow of hostility towards any one of the Ministers. I have always been, I am happy to say, on friendly terms with each of them individually. The last thing I would wish to do would be to decry any of them, or to represent them as being less capable than they actually are. It seems to me, however, that one thing one can say without giving any offence —because it is really a truism—is that we have not got the ablest collection of men that we might have in the Government at the present time, and that you cannot get that from any one Party; you can only do it by taking the ablest and most energetic men from wherever you can get them, and perhaps by doing what has been done in England, and getting some from outside Parliament altogether. Such men should not be overlooked either, and if there are men of first-class brains and energy available outside, then they ought to be got hold of and brought inside and used.

As I said before, we simply cannot afford to refrain from putting the very best talent that we have to the fullest use, in face of the extreme difficulties that lie ahead. Consequently, I join with Senator Douglas in his plea for further consideration by all Parties of this problem of forming a government of the sort I have described, whether it be called a coalition government, a national government or whatever it is called—we should not waste time quarrelling about names. The point is to form the most efficient government that we can form, and when we are calling upon young people to come forward and serve in the Army, and offer their lives to the country, I consider that it is a bounden duty that we owe to them to give them the assurance that, at the head of affairs here, we have the very best ability and the very greatest energy that can be got together.

Now, it is not merely on a priori grounds that I suggest the present Government cannot be a collection of the very best or ablest men that could be got, although some of its members are amongst the very best and ablest that could be got, for in practice also I do not think things are working out as they ought to do. I have not got the sensation that things are being run as well as they might be run, and I think it is not an unpatriotic act to suggest that in military affairs, for example, things are not all that they ought to be. It is no good indulging in recriminations about the past. What one wants is to be satisfied that everything that is reasonably possible is being done in the present. To get the required number of recruits is not the whole of the problem that confronts us. It is not by any means the whole of the problem. I must say that I do not have the feeling that at the present time as much is being done as might be done in order to get talent and experience of various kinds into the Army and into the Departments connected with the Army. I see in the newspapers that there is a very severe shortage of officers. The Government is certainly not entirely to blame for that, but it is a matter on which I should like to say one word. There is no need, out of an extreme regard for neutrality, to refrain from stating what everyone knows to be a fact, and that is that a considerable number of our young people have been going into the British Army since the war broke out. Now, they, and others who might still be contemplating doing so, are not so acting because they are more British than Irish in their outlook.

In the majority of cases they have been very genuine Irishmen, of genuine Irish and Celtic stock, and mostly Catholics, and probably all of them deeply love this country. They have been actuated, however, by the belief, whether right or wrong, that in taking the course they did they were entering into the service of justice, freedom and Christianity. It is not for us to discuss whether they were right or wrong, but I firmly believe that was what they had in mind, and that is what some have in mind in this country who still contemplate following their example.

Now, I suggest strongly to young men with that point of view that, apart altogether from their duty to Ireland, the time has come when the service that they wish to perform on behalf of justice, freedom and Christianity, can best be performed by going into the Irish Army rather than into any other army. I can understand their feeling differently, perhaps, when the fight appeared to be on the Continent of Europe, but the was has now reached a stage where it is England's job to defend herself against invasion and where it is our job here in Ireland to defend ourselves against invasion, and it seems to me that any young Irishman now, who is interested in his own country or interested in the larger issues that he believes this war to have behind it, can do best for all by entering the Army here. If such action is taken by such men as I am alluding to, it may go a considerable way towards solving the difficulty created by this shortage of officers, because it is to a large extent the most educated class and the class best fitted to be officers that have been going abroad. I would even throw out the suggestion tentatively that, in view of the very great value of experience, experience in modern warfare and experience in the warfare that has been taking place on the Continent during the last few weeks, the Government might consider whether they should not seek to obtain the release from the British Army of a certain number of Irish citizens who have had experience in that army as officers—to secure their withdrawal from the British Army and their return to us here to give service in our Army. I can see, of course, that there are obvious difficulties about that. Nevertheless, I believe it could be done —assuming the consent of all concerned —and that it could be done without running into any insuperable snags in connection with neutrality.

I think it was a mistake on Senator Quirke's part to suppose that the object of Senator The McGillycuddy was simply to sneer at what was being done and to run down the efforts of the Government. I know very well that his object is quite different from that; that his object is to make everybody strain every nerve to secure the maximum of efficiency in the Army, and I think we might all assume that about each other in such times as these and not be in a hurry to accuse others of lack of patriotism or of sneering, because, however things may be phrased, I am quite sure that is not what anybody wants to do. They want to be helpful. They do not want to be discouraging but only want to be helpful, but in order to be helpful you have got to be frank, and if you believe that things are being done inefficiently you have got to say so. I do think that the military side of our activities here is one side upon which a great many people have an uncomfortable feeling that there is not the efficiency that there ought to be.

That is not surprising. It is a terrific job to expand suddenly a very small army, but I feel that the Government could do more about it—they could put more "guts" into it—if I may use so coarse a word—than they are actually doing.

As regards financial and economic matters, I said that I thought the Minister had missed an opportunity. I repeat that now, but, perhaps, he will take the opportunity, when he is winding up the debate, to tell us more of the financial and economic outlook as he sees it and what preparations he is making to deal with the difficulties that seem likely to arise. I daresay he will remember that when we had a debate on currency not so very long ago, I asked him then whether he could do anything at all to enable us, to some extent, to "get out from under", if there was a serious inflation across the water, or if British securities sank to only a fraction of their value. The reply he gave was that he would watch the situation closely.

Well, I have no doubt that he has fulfilled that promise of vigilance, but I would like to know whether it has had any issue in action; whether, for instance, he has reduced the proportion of the backing of our currency that consisted of British securities. I would like to know what he has to say about the immediate outlook for us here in regard to all these financial matters, including currency; what he has to say about the situation of our banking system; whether everybody is awake to all the difficulties that we may be faced with; and whether, in particular, he and his Department are wide awake; whether he can give us those assurances that we are all seeking in regard to every Department of Government in these critical times, that the men at the head of affairs are really putting their backs into the work, and not carrying on in an automatic, dreamlike way, thinking the sort of things and saying the sort of things that they thought and said in ordinary times. I am bound to say that, as I listened to his speech, I had a horribly uncomfortable, nightmarish feeling that this was the sort of speech that would be made if there were no crisis at all. That is not the sort of thing the country wants to feel about the Government, and there would be much less danger of feeling it if we had what, for want of a better description, I call a National Government.

I suppose this is probably the most unpopular Bill that could come before any House, Dáil or Seanad, or in any House or Assembly in any part of the world. Any Bill that makes demands on people's pockets is sure to be unpopular. This Bill with which we are dealing is certainly making a demand on the pockets of many of us, and, as we pay the piper, perhaps we feel impelled to call the tune to some extent. Many of us disagree profoundly with the expenditure covered by this Bill. We believe that economies could be exercised; we believe that expenditure is incurred that is entirely unnecessary, and we point that out; but we are not always quite clear as to how these economies could be effected, and how this expenditure could be reduced.

Somebody said that we were not living in normal times. Times have not been normal for many years. Economic conditions have changed rapidly in the past 20 years, not only here in Ireland, but all over the world, and a Government has to take into account that owing to changes in economic conditions, the old methods of finance and the old remedies will no longer suffice, but when the Government set about the introduction of reforms that they think are necessary, they lay themselves open to very severe criticism. Everyone of us agrees that many of the items of expenditure could be improved. We believe that economies could be exercised, but it is difficult, when criticising a measure such as this, to define exactly in which direction the economies would be most needed.

I suppose the heaviest expenditure incurred would be under the headings of Education, Social Services, and, probably, Lands. Take the first one, Education. We spend about £5,000,000 a year on education, and in every country in the world it is held that education is one of the most important things to deal with. The world to-day has not much room for any man who is not educated. In the old days, when the bulk of the people were not educated, the standard of living was very low and the people were quite content with their standard of living, but, to-day, people are not content for very long with low standards of living. Every boy and girl in every country in the world is endeavouring to get away from manual work. There is a danger, of course, that Governments in every country very probably pander too much to that feeling, and there is a danger that every boy and every girl want to join what is known as the white collar brigade. Who will be left to do the ordinary manual work of a country that is essential to be done? Unfortunately, as the result of improvements in machines and the extraordinary growth of labour-saving appliances, the demand for mere manual human labour has declined, and in these countries— countries such as Ireland—where we have been very keen on adopting labour-saving machinery, there is less and less room for our young people in that field. They are driven perforce to endeavour to get as good an education as they possibly can and to try to qualify for jobs in the Civil Service or some other service of that kind. There is no room for them all. There is no room for them in the manual labour market, and what are we to do with them? This Government introduced various social services for which it has been strongly criticised.

I wonder what any Government could do under the circumstances? None of us likes to pay anybody for idleness. We would all prefer to see a man, if he is getting any contribution from the Government, earning that contribution. It would be better for the man himself, and the majority of human beings would much prefer to earn what they get in that way than to have it simply handed out to them in the form of doles. But unless the Government is in the position to provide them with relief work, what is it going to do? It has to provide sustenance in some other way and, therefore, you have this unemployment allowance problem.

Now there are other social services but, as I was dealing with education, I would like to return to it and to say that I, also, am not in agreement with the present educational programme in full. At the moment I am asking myself what is the matter with the teaching of history in the primary schools of Ireland. Thousands of the young men of Ireland to-day have no idea of nationality and it has been, unfortunately, shown very clearly in this present crisis. A good number of young men have come forward patriotically and have offered themselves in this crisis, but a considerable number of them have no idea whatever of the duty that they owe to their common country. I believe it is due to the fact that in the schools they have not got any idea whatever of Irish nationality. We are spending a considerable amount of money on the teaching of the Irish language, but if the effort to teach the language of this country to these people has resulted in the neglect of the teaching of the history of the country, we have made a mistake. I believe in the importance of teaching the language to the young people of Ireland, but I believe it is just as important that they should receive a thoroughly sound knowledge of the history of their country. I regret to say that, in my own experience and from what others have told me, the young people to-day appear to have very little knowledge of the history of Ireland. Owing to the lack of that knowledge they do not realise the duty that they owe their country and hence the failure of so many of them to come forward now when their services are so sorely needed.

We have spent a considerable amount and are spending a considerable amount on housing. Housing is a very important social service. Throughout the country people were saying: "Why should these slums be allowed to exist in the cities and in the rural districts? In a Christian country such as this, why are you allowing people to live under such conditions?" This Government immediately set about to spend a considerable amount of money on housing and is criticised for it, but housing, apart from its moral value, is a good economic investment. At the moment the expenditure is heavy but, as the years pass, these houses will prove a good investment and will give a good return for the money spent on them apart, as I say, from the extraordinary human value that they will be to the community.

In regard to the Land Commission, Senator Fitzgerald told us that if he had his way he would practically sweep away the Land Commission altogether and sweep away the Department of Industry and Commerce. Many of us are not at all enamoured of the Land Commission but the Land Commission has done valuable and useful work and is still continuing to do that work.

It is not acquiring any new land, is it? Has not the Minister announced that it ceased acquiring land?

There are times when it is essential to cease even valuable work, when work of greater importance presses.

I am not disagreeing with what the Senator said about the past—not wholly.

The Land Commission has not entirely ceased its functions. The Land Commission has at the moment a considerable amount of land on its hands——

To digest.

——which it is about to divide and it has not entirely stopped acquiring land. Of course, many of us differ about the wisdom of acquiring this land at all but, personally, I have not got the slightest doubt of the wisdom of it. I believe the more people whom you can settle on the land of this country the better. I believe the greatest panacea for social unrest is the giving of an interest in the land to the people of the country.

How small would the Senator make the holdings?

That is a matter to be decided by the economists.

It is the whole point.

The size of the holding is a matter upon which, perhaps, in a very short time, we will have to alter our opinions. We are on the verge of very vast social, political, and economic changes, and the holding that to-day is considered uneconomic may be considered a very economic holding in a very few years' time.

It is all a question of how a man works the holding, rather than the size of the holding.

It depends on the wife he has.

It depends on the manner in which the holding is worked. One man may have a holding of 25 statute acres which would be utterly uneconomic, while another man would have the same number of acres and would work them profitably.

If he had the right wife.

I am not competent to debate that. I was rather intrigued by Senator Douglas's idea of having a National Government. It reminded me that many years ago the editor of a certain paper in England was obsessed by the idea of what he called the "Businessman's Government". His idea was that the soldiers should be in charge of the War Department; the sailors should be in charge of the navy, and a lawyer in charge of law, and so on. I believe some such idea has been tried and has not been found always successful. It is very easy to put forward theories, but very often they do not work out.

That is not what anybody has advocated here.

It would come perhaps to something very like it.

Certainly not.

The idea is to put the most efficient men in the various posts. It might be considered that the soldier is most efficient for the army, the sailor for the navy.

Very often it does not work out so at all. On the question of national registration, it is quite possible that eventually this country and every country will have to introduce some form of national registration. There are young people in every country in the world who must be compelled to do things, and no country can afford to have young people wandering around its streets and countryside doing nothing. Every effort should be made to find something for them to do, and if something is found and if the young people are not willing to do it, then the time has come when they would have to be compelled.

Inter arma silent leges and most of us perhaps thought that with the clangour of arms resounding all over the world even a Finance Bill, which gives a field day to most of us to air our grievances or ride our hobbies, would, in the year 1940, have run silently to the Statute Book. Indeed, I think most of us had an impression that the speeches which did not directly envisage the present situation, however interesting and however valuable on ordinary occasions they would be and were in themselves, had an air of dreamy unreality, and the speeches that gripped us were those that had direct advertence to the present situation. I speak particularly of Senator Douglas's. I did not mean to speak at all, having advertence to the motto of inter arma, but there were two points that he raised on which I should like to express an opinion. He advocated a National Government. I do not know whether the Seanad needs to be reminded, but it is no harm to remind the House that we cannot have a National Government because we are not a nation. We have under our jurisdiction only 26 counties of the historic Irish nation. I do not make that simply as a debating point. It is a real, vital element in the present situation which must hamper the Government in all its plans of defence and must have its reactions on every portion of our strategy and every portion of our policy. Therefore, it is well for us to realise that we cannot have a National Government because we are not a nation. We hope we are well on the way to it, but we are not a nation.

Then the question arises: if we cannot have a National Government, could we have a coalition Government? We could, but I think that, at this point, it would be disastrous. Could you imagine a coalition Government consisting of people who would be drawn from opposing benches in this House or the Dáil, who, on every possible occasion, would not be harking back to the economic war, or to the civil war? I do not think we would get very far on that basis and, if "it is lawful to learn from the enemy," I think we should aim at a concentration of executive rather than a diffusion. I think it well, too, that executive power should be at present in the hands of men more or less trained together, who have worked together, who understand each other, and who do not need to have every sentence they speak to each other parsed. We need that; and we need to leave in such hands the power of swift decision. That may be very important and necessary. Therefore, at present, I do not think a coalition Government would be any advantage. In fact, it would put us at an enormous disadvantage. However, if we cannot have coalition, we certainly can have co-operation, and it need not be in what is technically called the Government. We have the Defence Conference, which is, I think, a good example of co-operation.

It does not spend its time discussing the civil war.

Or the economic war.

I hope not, anyway.

I hope not, too. I do not know whether that conference takes within its ambit the economic and financial questions which Senator Douglas very aptly raised; but, if it does not, I do not see why we could not have an economic council on the model of the Defence Conference in which the ablest men in the country, and not alone in the Dáil or Seanad, might be invited to take their part. We might have a finance council, all the members of which would pool their knowledge, and let the Government draw from it and use that knowledge. I think that in this way the objections which might be raised to a coalition Government could be overcome. The main objection is that the power of swift action might be delayed by different schools of thought. If we had these advisory councils, however, having for their consideration economic and financial questions to which the Government could turn for advice, they would be of extreme importance. There is also the question of food supplies, though I suppose it is already dealt with by the Minister for Supplies, and the question of a possible scarcity of coal and the securing of sufficient supplies of turf to supplement it. All these questions might be usefully solved by an economic council and the questions of money, which are very important, by a finance council.

Might not these councils cause much more delay than a coalition Government would cause?

I am not prepared to answer that, but I do not think they would. The Government could ask them for a report quickly. The functions of these councils would be merely advisory. Decisions would be in the hands of the Executive.

When I came here this afternoon, I felt oppressed by the heat of the day and still more by a sense of what may perhaps be the impending doom of our civilisation and of every social, personal and spiritual value to which we attach importance. That being so, I had the feeling that the subject matter of this Bill does not matter two hoots in the light of the tremendous issues which are now being decided in Europe. However, I have been somewhat cheered, and my equanimity has been somewhat restored, by listening to so many fiddlers while Rome is burning and, consequently, I feel disposed to make one or two remarks which I hope will be relevant both to the Finance Bill and to the general world situation.

We, of course, are a neutral State, and I feel very strongly that our ultimate fate, in the event of a victory of the Germanic power, will be precisely the same whether we remain neutral throughout the currency of this war, or whether we are actively belligerent on the side of the Germans or actively belligerent on the side of the British. In any event, our geographic position is such that the only possible function that could be performed by us, in the event of a Nazi victory, would be to serve as an outpost for German occupation with a view to the subsequent conquest of America at no very distant date, and we may as well resign ourselves to that prospect and consider everything else in relation to that prospect, in the event of a Germanic victory.

Meanwhile, I would agree that we do suffer from serious economic difficulties, and I should even go so far as to say that, to some extent, our economic difficulties are aggravated by the fact that we are a neutral country; but it does not in the least follow that if we became actively belligerent, as a nation, on the side of the Germans, our economic difficulties would suddenly disappear. On the contrary, if we entered the war on the side of the Germans, I imagine that we would find even greater difficulty in obtaining an export outlet for our agricultural surplus to the British market, and an even greater difficulty in using British industries as a source of the supply of necessary raw materials for our industries. That appears to be almost self-evident.

Coming now to more strictly economic matters, I think that, in the present emergency, everything we can do to maintain the life of our people and to diminish the sufferings which the present situation imposes on them, should be done, even to the extent of adopting measures which, under normal conditions, I should be the first to denounce as utterly uneconomic. For example, in normal times of peace, it is probably not economic to exploit our bogs to any great extent, so long as we can freely obtain coal at a cheaper price; but, in the present situation, we cannot count on obtaining adequate supplies of coal at any price, and, consequently, it would be sound national policy to devote the labour of the unemployed to large-scale exploiting of our bogs.

In that connection, I am reminded that the State recently had an unhappy experience when it attempted to organise a number of unemployed for the cutting of turf in a bog, the name of which, I think, was Clonsast. As I think, the moral of that experience is not that that idea should not be developed, but rather that the method of approaching it should be different. Individual unemployed men who are brought together haphazard under the ægis of the State, which has been described as the coldest of all cold-blooded monsters, have, in no sense, a community with one another. They have nothing but a cash nexus with that impersonal entity which we call the State, and are likely not to develop that sense of solidarity with one another and loyalty to a common purpose which is absolutely necessary if we are to make a success of an unusual enterprise of that kind.

What the State should have done, if it wanted to have the bogs cultivated, was to have approached some existing private organisation of people, some voluntary organisation which already had developed what one might call a corporate soul and which was able to attract to it people sharing a common ideal, and anxious to realise a common purpose, and then to have subsidised the efforts of such a body to exploit the bogs. I am thinking primarily of an institution of the kind, the Mount Street Club; but equally as well the method might have been applied and successfully used in respect of some other organisation such as the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The point is that the State, in matters of that kind, should make every possible use of voluntary organisations, and do its best to put a soul into an enterprise of such a kind, or to find and to use a corporate soul where such a soul obviously exists.

I wonder whether having a National Government or a coalition Government would or would not make our difficulties any more or less in certain events? By all means, let us have the ablest Government we can obtain and, in time of emergency, by all means, let us not consider Party affiliations in choosing the members of that Government. Let us not imagine that merely picking the best possible kind of Government is going to relieve our people of their responsibility in this national crisis or is going to solve in some mysterious way problems the nature of which at present we can only dimly imagine and contemplate. For example, if there is serious dislocation of the economic life of Britain in consequence of invasion, it seems to me that nothing we can do beforehand is going to prevent us from suffering serious economic repercussions over here in consequence of that dislocation. Equally, if we are invaded, there is little that we can do beforehand— although there is much we may propose, plan and contemplate—which will prevent our people suffering the most serious inconvenience from that unfortunate occurrence.

I am rather sympathetic to the scheme for going ahead as rapidly as possible with the notion of parish councils. In the event of large scale dislocation of the national life, there will have to be local organisations consisting of persons in whom the people have confidence. These must be responsible for actions of the most diverse kind, and they must do the best they can without direct orders or co-operation on the part of the Central Government. If a National Government can make it easier to establish such parish councils, I think it is something to which attention should be paid immediately. We could, of course, in theory, depart from neutrality.

One possible way of doing that would be by adopting the cause of the Nazi power. Another way would be by having the matter taken out of our hands; if we were invaded by the Nazi power our neutrality would cease automatically. Presumably, we would put up the most strenuous resistance. From some points of view a Nazi invasion of Ireland might solve some of our problems. In such a case we would clearly have a common enemy with England and Northern Ireland and, if that situation arose, it would be simply absurd for the people in the North of Ireland to pretend that we were not fundamentally united with them in the crisis threatening Christian civilisation.

It seems to me that, before there can be any kind of fruitful talk about unity with the North of Ireland, there must be a general realisation that there is a unity of moral principles and that in the fundamental things we are at one with them. There are difficulties about the realisation of that community of moral values, and its existence is not adequately recognised. The difficulties are not entirely on our side: there are difficulties on the other side, as this anecdote will make clear. A certain lady of my acquaintance from Northern Ireland was in conversation with me recently and, knowing her political affiliations, I drew her into argument by saying: "I suppose you people would regard it just as disastrous to come under the rule of de Valera as under Hitler?""We would," said she. "Well," I replied, "down here we are under de Valera's rule. Is there any reason, from your point of view, why we should exert ourselves to escape the rule of Herr Hitler?" There was no answer: there could be no answer to such an argument ad hominem. The people in the North do not realise the fact that down here we have fundamentally a democratic State, and that fundamental and moral values are appreciated just as fully here as they are in the North. It should be our duty to make that generally realised and to bring it to the consciousness of everybody. We should do everything in our power to promote the most friendly co-operation in all economic matters amongst our people in the whole of the Thirty-two Counties. Any contribution that our Government can make in that direction ought to be reciprocated in the same friendly manner.

On the subject of our neutrality in general, I should like to make one final remark. In my view, there is an association between the fact of partition and the fact of neutrality. I will not say precisely what that association is, but say that the two are associated in my mind. If you look at the matter from the British point of view, perhaps our neutrality is the price they are paying for the luxury of partition: if you look at the matter from the Irish point of view, it may be true equally to say that, perhaps, partition is the price we are paying for the luxury of neutrality.

I do not propose to say very much, as there is nothing to be gained at this stage by entering into a discussion as to whether the Bill makes a demand for a very large sum or whether it involves extravagance. That is all in the past now. At a time when people's minds are so perturbed about security for life itself, apart from security of property or wealth, we need not dissipate either energy or words on saying if the Minister is spending well or wisely or if he is asking too much. There are certain considerations present in the minds of all of us to-day and the discussion on this Finance Bill gives us a chance to raise some of them. In the first place, I do not think that Senator MacDermot asked in a recent speech—and here I am subject to correction—when the Minister intended to get away from sterling. I was rather pressing, I think, on that particular point, and I put it to the Minister as to the stage at which he is going to take alarm and going to leave sterling and if he knew he would be able to get away when he wanted to.

Events have moved much faster than even the most vivid imagination of any statesman could contemplate. At the moment, I do not know that we are particularly perturbed about just getting away from sterling.: there are much greater troubles. Nevertheless, we are in a position now that we do not know what a week or two may bring to us. Above all, we must be realists. I do not know whether it matters much whether we have a National Government or the kind of Government we have now; I do not know whether we can be saved from the fate which awaits us by continuing with the present Government or by making a change. It may very well be that if a really practical drive were made to construct a National Government on the basis of the Thirty-two Counties for the defence of this island to-day, that might very well succeed.

The minds of men are changing very quickly, and they are driven to contemplate a position which could not be thought of a little while past. It seems to me that there are possibilities in that which might be explored. I often listened to Senator Tierney arguing in private that we could never hope to win over the North until we got union amongst ourselves down here. Evidently, you had a measure of union in College Green last Sunday. It was a very large measure of union. I really believe that that is something which should be explored at once. I repeat, as General Mulcahy said in his broadcast, "at once". There is not much time to waste to take decisions and to put the machinery into operation. I feel like that about it, but I do not feel that you should sit down in despair and say that you cannot do anything. Even if you should be disappointed after having done your best, you will be able to say in defeat: "Well, I did my best anyway."

I can visualise a situation here in a short time, developing from the causes which Senator Johnston has put before us, in which our whole internal trade could very well break down. The Minister for Finance might perhaps have £100,000 of English notes in his possession and they might not buy a pound of butter for his breakfast. It is quite conceivable that we may have any amount of food in this country on the hands of producers and that consumers will not be able to get it, because, possibly, our own Government will not have the plans ready or a system of exchange ready to be put into operation to enable us to exchange the goods and services which we have available among our own people and which we should be able to exchange and use in a crisis. If we are up against that, it will not be any excuse for Ministers to say that they have not any plan ready to deal with it. We know what hungry people, even the best people, will do. All that will come down on the heads of our own Government if they are not prepared to deal with it. If you want to defend the State, you cannot defend it with guns alone; you must defend it through the operations of men who have the brains and the energy to plan and the courage to put their plans into operation.

I can quite well see a situation arising in which the producers in this country will have a surplus of goods which we shall not be able to get out of the country or out of our own farmsteads because the people in the towns will have nothing to offer us in exchange for them. You must have some plan ready to meet a situation of that kind. These desperate things may not come to pass but, if they should come to pass, it is necessary to have something ready to meet them.

We have, no doubt, a considerable quantity of food available here. At present we have, and for a long period to come we shall have, a very considerable surplus of certain foods. There is no need for any man or woman in this country to be hungry if they are ready to give some service and if the people in charge of affairs are ready to make plans to exchange these services amongst our community. It is not my responsibility here now to suggest exactly what medium of exchange we should have ready to establish, if the existing medium fails, but that we should have one ready to operate goes without saying. It is something which requires immediate consideration, which requires backing of a kind which will have the confidence of the people behind it to make it work. Whether we escape invasion or not, there is no doubt that an attack on England on a very wide scale, the smashing up of towns and cities, the killing of hundreds and thousands of people, the stopping of markets—all that is going to dislocate economic life here very considerably. We must make certain, as far as we can, that we shall escape with the least possible dislocation. We shall not escape by being complacent, either in the sense in which we think that these things cannot affect us here, or in the sense that we have the very best people available to deal with them, that we are certain that they have plans ready and that their plans will work, and that, above all, when they are put into operation they will command the confidence of the people of the country. We ought to make certain of these things.

With regard to the position of our defence, just as in the economic sphere, there is a terrible necessity for such organisation of our economic affairs as will give confidence to our people that we are not going to suffer unnecessarily, so in the military sense there is an equal necessity to assure the people that plans will be devised to avert suffering in every way possible by energy, activity and imagination on the part of the Ministry—imagination and drive of such a character as will command the confidence of all our people. We should all be associated with this effort, because if we do not hang together, we shall hang separately. With regard to the efforts in the matter of defence down the country, I think much more must be done and should be done. I think the Ministry and those associated with them have an obligation to go amongst the people to a much greater extent than they are going at the present time, and to point out their responsibilities to the people. I think the dangers, and the duty which the people owe to the country, are not being sufficiently brought home to the people. Efforts to do so are being made in a magnificent fashion by some people. Some are working very hard; others, as far as I can see, are doing nothing. If some parts of the country are not answering the call as well as other parts, the public men in these parts which are not responding have something to answer for.

Again, it is not right that the burden of service has to be borne by a limited number of our citizens. We have had a good deal of that in the past. Some of us, not alone in one generation but one might say in a number of generations, did more than our share. It may be like that again, but it should not be like that. Above all, there is an obligation on the part of those associated with the Government to bring under the notice of the people in the most vigorous fashion possible, the responsibility of citizens in a crisis like this, to make them understand and appreciate the fact that if they are not prepared to give service to their own country in whatever way they can, others may come and take possession of the country and, having taken possession of it, make us serve them and serve the country for them. As far as we can, we should do our best to avert such a catastrophe. Unless we have more activity on the part of a number of people associated with the Government, you will not get that kind of response down the country. On the other hand, here at the top, if we are going to command the confidence of the people, you must assure them that whatever comes along, you will not be like those on the Continent who have already fallen victims to it. You must assure them that you have plans that will work, that your defence is not such as will go down in the first crash, but that you will have versatility in your schemes and agility in yourself to operate these schemes and make certain that they will fit the times and the circumstances.

Now, Sir, I did not hear what Senator Douglas had to say about the formation of a National Government, but whether the basis of the Government be broadened or not there is great satisfaction that, at any rate, generally, there is amongst the leaders of the people to-day a spirit of co-operation that is requisite and necessary in the circumstances of the times. I believe that we ought to attempt to go much further, and to see whether or not now, in the changed conditions with which all the people of this island of 32 counties are confronted, it would be possible, for the defence of this island and of our common heritage, to get a Government for the 32 counties that would be representative of our people and representative of our nation and which would throw up such defences against any external enemy as would make it unprofitable for that enemy to come near us. I think that there, again, we need men of great ability and energy to face up to that situation and not allow any chance to go by—a chance that, perhaps, might occur within the next week or within the next month. No chance, which might serve to bring about a better appreciation of the position as it exists, should be allowed to go by.

Senator Johnston pointed out the attitude of some of the good ladies across the Border, and I am quite sure that some of the men across the Border may have the same point of view. However that may be, I am quite convinced that, no matter how much these people may dislike Mr. de Valera or others down here, they are coming to realise more and more that it would be better to be with us—I do not say, under us, because we do not seek any victory over them, and indeed it would not be in the national interest to seek such a victory—but I believe that some of the people across the Border are coming to the conclusion that it would be better to be with us, taking part in our deliberations, and even fighting with us, than to take the risk of divided counsels and a divided Ireland, thus leaving it easier for somebody else, whom none of us want, to come in here.

I agree with a good deal that Senator Baxter said, but I am not inclined to take such a pessimistic view of the value of the British £. I am still prepared to sell my cattle to the British people, and to accept their £ in return. Senators Douglas and Hayes stated that this was not a time for severe criticism of the Government or of Government policy. I am entirely in agreement with that, and although there is a good deal that I should like to say about this Bill, I do not think it would be to the advantage of the Government to do so, and accordingly I am not going to indulge in any severe criticism. My principal object in rising to speak is to make a request to the Minister for a moratorium in connection with rates and annuities until next December. We have a promise of a good harvest of crops, but it will cost money to harvest these crops, and money is very scarce amongst the farmers at the present time. I know of several people all over the country who have decrees marked against them for very big amounts for rates, and if the Minister, in consultation with the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, could make some pronouncement to the effect that there would be no distraint for rates or anuuities until December, when the crops are harvested, I think it would put life and heart into those sorely distressed farmers who are in such a bad way owing to the lack of working capital at the moment. Senator Sir John Keane and others say, of course, that the banks will give any money to the farmers that they want.

I never said any such thing.

It was stated here, I think, in a debate that we had in connection with currency some time ago, and I thought that you were pleased with the statement, Senator. From my experience, they cannot get money from the banks, but I understood Senator Sir John Keane to be of the opinion that they could. At any rate, the experience generally of the farmers of the country is that they cannot get money anywhere to enable them to carry on, and for that reason I would ask the Minister to consider sympathetically the suggestion I have made. It is a very small concession to give to the farmers: that there should be a definite statement made that there would be no distraints and no pressure brought to bear on the farmers for rates and annuities until December next.

Mr. E. Lynch rose.

Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator understands, I presume, that we are adjourning at 6 o'clock?

Mr. Lynch

Yes, Sir, I understand.

For how long?

Leas-Chathaoirleach

For an hour, Senator. It was agreed upon.

Mr. Lynch

Like other Senators who have spoken here this evening, Sir, I feel some difficulty in debating the ordinary matters raised by a Finance Bill. If it were not for the exceptional situation existing, I should indeed like to refer to unemployment, as an outstanding feature in our country and of our social economy. In that connection, I also should have liked to deal with the recent Employment Period Order which has cut off certain sections of workers from the receipt of unemployment assistance, which they hitherto enjoyed. That Order is extremely harsh and, I might say, cruel. Were it not for the exceptional circumstances, as I say, I should be very much inclined to comment rather seriously on a system which neither allowed people to work nor provided adequate sustenance for them. These matters now, however, important and all as they are, seem to me to pale into insignificance before the tremendous issues lying before this country, arising out of the existing war situation. It seems to me that that war situation might quite reasonably be expected to transform the whole economic life of this country quite radically in a very short space of time.

We are discussing the question of finance here, and we have discussed questions of finance in other connections in this Chamber before, but our whole idea in this regard may be very seriously changed for us, as a result of the present war situation, whether we like it or not. What I am about to say has been said already this afternoon. Senator Douglas, in his very reasoned statement to this House this evening, opened up very important issues for the Government of this country, for the Parliament of this country, and for the people of this country. Other Senators adverted to similar aspects of that situation, and the second last speaker, Senator Baxter, in my opinion, came seriously home to the subject in his remarks. I should have liked to hear the Minister, when he was making his statement on this Bill this evening, adverting to the position which can arise and which, from what we can see even as laymen, is likely to arise from the existing war situation, and how that may affect our whole economic life and our financial life in this country. Perhaps the Minister may have felt that this was not the time or the occasion for making a statement along those lines, and perhaps, having listened to the debate here this afternoon, he may feel that an obligation devolves upon him to make a statement that would in some way allay the feelings and fears in the minds of those who raised this aspect of the matter in the debate here to-day.

There is no use in endeavouring to deny that the military situation in Great Britain is of the gravest significance at the moment. We have the statement of the Prime Minister of Britain for that. It was not a statement that was alarmist. In the characteristic manner of Mr. Churchill he dealt with the conditions that exist in England and the conditions which might be calculated, and are calculated, to arise, and he dealt with these things in his usual characteristic and forthright manner, and pointed out what it is anticipated might arise. There is no use, as I say, in us endeavouring to deny that the economic and financial life of this country will be seriously and radically affected by all this.

We have been told that the operations of the enemy may result in a blockade of Great Britain. It is seriously expected, apart from the question of a direct invasion, that a blockade by means of mines and submarines may be engaged in by Germany. If that should happen, and with the whole littoral of the Continent from the coast of Norway to the southern coast of France in the hands of the German Army and the German Government, then the possibility of doing that against Great Britain is considerably enhanced. A mine and submarine campaign could, therefore, reasonably affect, and is likely to affect, the position in Great Britain. The resultant effect of that here must give everybody serious pause. Whether that situation will be dealt with by the present Government, by a National Government or a Coalition Government or by a committee of security is immaterial; at all events, whoever is in charge must realise, as Senator Baxter quite properly said, that there will be a surplus of goods in this country. Naturally, when goods are not going out that, in itself, will create an economic crisis. On top of that you will have the impossibility of getting goods into the country, and it, in turn, will enhance that crisis. What planning has been done by the Government to meet a situation of that character? You come up against an economic problem there, and also against a financial problem. It seems to me that there is very little use talking about defence in the military sense if provision is not made economically to deal with the ordinary lives of the people, or with the ordinary economic situation which will arise in such an eventuality.

It may be said by some people, who do not seem to possess the slightest particle of imagination, that such a situation is not likely to arise. Well, it seems to other people that it is likely to arise. Perhaps we, who have been speaking on this aspect of the case here this evening, may be pushing an open door in asking what the Government have done in the provision of plans, in looking into this situation and in seeing what will be done to provide against the effects of such an attack on Great Britain and the effects here. It seems to me to be a most important thing to look into. There is no use in expecting that the ordinary economic laws which have served us up to the present and which grew out of and governed the system of economics that prevail in this country, a system that depended on the export of goods and the bringing back of other goods, a system which was the basis of our society here, can in such a situation be maintained. That system may break down overnight, and, therefore, we must have some substitute for it, because our people must live. Suppose you had a volcanic eruption in England, a subsidence in which Great Britain disappeared, then, instead of the present system of an exchange of goods we would have to find some other as a means of serving our people. A subsidence in Great Britain may seem remote. The possibility of that country being invaded and of being torn asunder, as other countries have been under our eyes, may seem to some people to be remote, but it does not seem to be remote to the Prime Minister of that country. The possibility of a submarine and mine blockade does not seem to be remote either. All that creates a very serious problem for us here, a problem which would mean a complete interruption in the ordinary trade and commerce that has been carried on for so long between the two countries.

I hope that the Minister, when replying, will deal with that aspect of the case. It seems to me that there is very little use in discussing on this Bill questions of finance as we would discuss them in ordinary times. In our discussions on this Bill we must, I submit, take into our consideration the possibilities which are likely to arise, having regard to the great war situation which is now developing at our very doors. The raising of money is bound to become impossible according to the ordinary orthodox methods if such an eventuality should descend upon us. Unless we devote time to thinking out how we may provide for that future, then, I suggest, the resulting chaos will be extremely serious for all of us. I trust that the Minister will vouchsafe some information along the lines I have indicated, because the problems before us are giving serious thought to many in this country, especially those of us who have serious responsibilities towards big organisations of working people and their welfare.

Sitting suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.